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Thursday, July 15, 2021

| July 15, 2021

Round Two of June PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s June 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s June 2021 survey period covered May 27 – June 23. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM dips four-tenths for a 3.6 share (6+ weekly AQH share) finish and the #11 rank in the market. Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP also loses four-tenths, finishing the survey with a 7.7 share and falls to the #3 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston sheds two-tenths for a 3.7 share but remains in the #9 rank while sister all-news WBZ-AM also dips two-tenths for a 5.7 share and again finishes ranked #5 in the market. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM falls out of the #1 spot after losing seven-tenths and falling to a 5.9 share good for the #3 rank while Sinclair Broadcast Group’s all-news KOMO-AM/FM adds 2.2 shares to climb to the #1 rank on the strength of a 6.5 share finish. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets here.

FCC Denies Petitions by Larry Wilson and Paul Stone to Nix Alpha Media Applications for Assignment of Licenses. Minority stake holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed petitions with the FCC to deny the assignment of licenses for the stations that will comprise the new New Alpha, whose pre-packaged Chapter 11 plan has been approved by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. In a ruling handed down on July 13, the FCC’s Audio Division, Media Bureau denied both petitions, paving the way for New Alpha to emerge as scheduled. Wilson argued two points: 1) that the FCC’s assigning the licenses would authorize the restructuring of the company thereby causing him economic injury as a minority stakeholder; and 2) that Alpha officers engaged in corporate misconduct by taking actions – including filing the prepackaged bankruptcy plan – without a vote of the board of directors. (Stone’s petition to deny centered around the FCC’s foreign ownership regulations.) In denying Wilson’s petition, the Media Bureau ruled that he (as well as Stone) has failed to show he has standing in the proceeding since his arguments center around his private interests and not the public interest with which the FCC in concerned. It adds that Wilson’s complaint about corporate governance is outside the Commission’s purview and belongs in a state court. You can read the ruling here.

WCNN-AM, Atlanta Unveils New Program Lineup. From a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Rodney Ho, Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talk WCNN-AM “The Fan” has made changes to its program lineup. First, joining the morning drive team of Brian Finneran and John Michaels are three station personalities from other dayparts. “Hometeam” Brandon Leak, Joe Hamilton, and Hutson Mason are joining the morning show on Monday (7/19) as the show changes names from “The Front Row” to “The Locker Room.” Midday host Buck Belue – currently paired with Mason – will go solo from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. The new midday show will air from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and star Nick Cellini and Chris Dimino. The afternoon drive show hosted by Chuck Oliver and Matt Chernoff moves to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm daypart and its producers, Brian Hoyt and Carlos Medina, will host a 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show called “Fun Bag” when Atlanta Braves games are not airing. Owner David Dickey tells the AJC, “We’ve got the deepest bench in town with local, live talent. It’s not about how many people are in the room. It’s about the right chemistry. It’s about the right energy. It’s about having the right diversity of voices to reflect the modern conversation about sports.”

Report: Good Karma Brands Talking with ESPN About New York and LA Radio Stations. According to a piece by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, WEPN-FM, New York and KSPN-AM, Los Angeles owner ESPN is in “serious talks” with Good Karma Brands to have the latter operate those two stations as GKB is currently doing with ESPN’s WMVP-AM, Chicago. Marchand writes, “ESPN would make such a move to reduce the head count on Disney’s books, which is nearly 40 people. In New York, it would also alleviate some of the massive cost that ESPN pays to Emmis Communications to lease the 98.7 FM signal. That would effectively put the local business sales and marketing in Good Karma’s hands, while ESPN would retain oversight of the station’s content.” Marchand asserts that ESPN’s interest in radio is taking a back seat to its efforts in the podcast genre.

WGFX Adds ‘The Install with Greg Cosell’ to ‘104.5 The Zone Podcast Network.’ The new podcast platform branded “104.5 The Zone Podcast Network” from Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville announces a new program hosted by NFL analyst Greg Cosell called, “The Install with Greg Cosell.” The podcast is being co-hosted by WGFX-FM midday personality Buck Reising. The show promises to bring “a different approach and sound to how Cosell covers film, as Cosell and Reising go through NFL film that Cosell has watched, through a Tennessee Titans lens.” The show also covers the rest of the NFL. Cosell, a nephew of legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell, is the co-author of the book, The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays (ESPN 2011) with Ron Jaworski and David Plaut. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “I am thrilled that Greg Cosell is partnering with Buck Reising to host ‘The Install with Greg Cosell’ as the latest piece to the expanding 104.5 The Zone Network. ‘The Install’ along with Cosell’s weekly appearance on the Zone with ‘3HL’ will allow him to take Titans fans to even more places.”

KSCO, Santa Cruz Owner Michael Zwerling is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast, Sort Of. One of the most colorful members of the radio industry’s endangered species list – the independent local radio station owner/operatorMichael Zwerling is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Zwerling (known to his friends, employees and station listeners as “MZ”) has owned the 10,000-watt Central California heritage news/talk flamethrower, KSCO AM 1080 for the past 30 years. He is widely known in the radio industry for his eccentric personality, tongue-in-cheek humor, prowess in NTR marketing and unwavering commitment to local, community-involved broadcasting. Zwerling, himself, hosts a weekly two-hour, Saturday morning, commercial-free program titled, “The Saturday Special,” in which he tackles a wide variety of issues while taking listener calls and interviewing guests. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison joined MZ as a guest on the show this past Saturday for a half hour segment that candidly addressed political correctness, the First Amendment, the state of media and the future of talk radio. The provocative conversation between Harrison and Zwerling recorded on that broadcast is the basis for this week’s installment of “The Michael Harrison Interview.” So, in a sense, Harrison actually serves as Zwerling’s guest on this week’s podcast. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

COVID-19 Delta Variant & Vaccines, Trump and the GOP/New Trump Book, January 6 Investigation, Senate Democrats’ Budget, Cuba Protests, Voting Legislation, Western Heat and Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/14). The surge of COVID-19 cases in several U.S. states and the stalling rate of vaccinations; former President Donald Trump’s relationship with the Republican Party and the new Trump book, I Alone Can Fix It; the House panel to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol; the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget; the protests taking place in Cuba and in Florida’s Cuban community; controversy over the new, stricter voting policies enacted in several states; and the Western heatwave and wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, June 28, 2021

| June 28, 2021

Monday Memo: Quoting Sgt. Hulka. Are you the soundtrack of The American Comeback? Or what consultant Holland Cooke calls “relentless negativity, even as polls demonstrate widespread optimism? The phrase ‘talk radio’ conjures a caricature. That seems not to be a problem for station owners and managers focused on FMs losing music consumers to streaming. Down the hall, legacy stations with once-proud call letters – now sadly referred to as ‘the AM’ – dispense daily discouragement. To the suits, that’s ‘talk radio.’” Get more of Cooke’s take on this by reading his column here.

Pending Business: Hunters and Farmers. Sales pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes today about a major university-based seminar he attended that identified two basic categories of sellers: “hunters” and “farmers.” The “hunter” personality enjoys the prospecting, contact, engagement, in essence the outright pursuit and negotiation of the deal. The “farmer” personality will be stronger at keeping current relationships fluid. Servicing current advertisers and easier legacy renewals are the farmer’s number one priority. Is you approach balanced or does it lean too much in one direction? Read his column here.

Video of First Session from TALKERS 2021 Conference Posted. The video of the first session from the TALKERS 2021 Conference held at Hofstra University on June 11 is posted above. In this opening session, TALKERS 2021 master of ceremonies and TALKERS general manager of broadcasting operations David Bernstein welcomes the attendees to the conference and introduces FOX News Radio talk host Jimmy Failla who provides opening remarks and performs his trademark stand-up comedy. Also, in this session is a greeting from Premiere Networks and FOX News Channel superstar Sean Hannity, followed by the presentation by WPG, Atlantic City morning show host Harry Hurley of $5,000 from his charity to the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Also included: San Antonio-based, nationally syndicated talk show host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo kicks off the event with his saxophone rendition of the “National Anthem.” TALKERS magazine will continue posting videos of the panels and presentations from TALKERS 2021 this week and next at the rate of one session per day.

KPRC-AM, Houston Announces New Evening Programming. Houston news/talk KPRC-AM “AM 950, Real Texas, Real Talk” unveils new evening programming that begins today. Airing from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm is Sean Salisbury, who is venturing into the news/talk world in addition to his morning drive sports talk program that’s heard on iHeartMedia’s sister sports talker KBME, “Sportstalk 790 AM.” Also, KPRC is adding Premiere Networks’ “Jesse Kelly Show” in the 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm daypart. iHeartMedia Houston director of programming Bryan Erickson says, “Kelly, a U.S. Marine combat veteran, brings an exciting new perspective on the day’s events. He’s a unique and fresh voice in the talk radio landscape and one of the most entertaining guys I’ve ever heard.” Regarding Salisbury’s new show, Erickson adds, “The self-proclaimed ‘news junkie’ is anxious to talk about events outside the realm of sports. If he could, Salisbury would be on the air 24 hours a day. He loves what he does, and his passion is off the charts.”

WGFX-FM, Nashville ‘104.5 The Zone’ Unveils ‘3 The Pro Way’ Podcast. Nashville sports talk outlet WGFX-FM, “104.5 The Zone” announces the launch of a new podcast titled, “3 The Pro Way,” hosted by Nashville sports figures Kevin Dyson, a former Titans wide receiver; Joey Kent, a Vol For Life and former Titans wide receiver; and Todd Campbell, a former who Western Kentucky University football player. The podcast is the newest addition to the “104.5 The Zone Podcast Network.” The debut episode features guest former Tennessee Titans great  and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, who currently serves as head coach of the Tennessee State Tigers. The Cumulus Media sports talk station says, “‘3 The Pro Way’ shares the stories of the three African American athletes and business professionals, who have each transformed their respective athletic careers into different careers, allowing them to learn, grow and become successful through those unique paths. Kent, Dyson, and Campbell will give advice and discuss concepts for how to successfully transition from one career to another. They will also welcome guests who have gone through similar career journeys to share their personal and professional perspectives and provide podcast listeners with helpful takeaways on how to transition from one career to an entirely new one.” WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “When Kevin, Joey, and Todd first shared their ‘3 The Pro Way’ podcast idea, I knew the 104.5 The Zone Podcast Network would be the perfect partner. I look forward to hearing a weekly conversation with different athletes and professionals on their career transitions. I am also excited to work with Todd, Joey, and Kevin in growing ‘3 The Pro Way’ within the ‘104.5 The Zone Podcast Network.’” The “104.5 The Zone Podcast Network” was launched in April, when the Nashville sports station announced that it had entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports.

PodcastOne Inks Deals to Distribute Podcasts. The five podcasts that PodcastOne has just acquired the sales and distribution rights to are: “Killer Genes,” “@lexie,” “Trust Me,” “Underworld,” and “Walk-Ins Welcome” – all of which will appear in the True Crime, Society & Culture and Documentary category. Podcast One president Kit Gray says, “PodcastOne actively seeks unique and compelling content for our network and being able to add these shows: “Killer Genes,” “@lexie,” “Trust Me,” “Underworld” and “Walk-Ins Welcome” to our network is something we consider a real coup as we increase the varied genre content we make available to listeners, potential listeners and to advertisers.”

Dartmouth Puts Radio Station Up for Sale. The Valley News reports that Dartmouth College is putting its commercial radio station for up sale. A spokesperson for the school says that WFRD-FM “has not met revenue expectations and has been operating ‘in the red.’” The station has just one paid staffer Chris Fazio, a.k.a. Chris Garrett, who handles morning show duties as well as ad sales. The Class A FM is a 6,000-watt signal that serves the Hanover and Lebanon, New Hampshire towns.

Florida Condo Collapse, COVID-19, Infrastructure Deal, Trump Ohio Rally, U.S. Iran Strikes, Election Fraud Claims/Giuliani’s NY Law License Suspended, Big City Gun Violence, Kim Jong Un Weight Loss, and Northwest Heatwave Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The search for survivors of Florida’s condo collapse and early reports of inspections and repair delays; concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant and the slowing rate of vaccinations; the compromise infrastructure deal; Donald Trump holds a rally in Ohio and continues claims of election fraud; Joe Biden orders strikes on Iran-backed militants on Syrian border; the issue of 2020 election fraud claims and Rudy Giuliani’s New York law license is suspended; the soaring rate of gun violence in America’s big cities; North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s weight loss; and the record-setting heat wave affecting the Pacific Northwest were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

| April 29, 2021

RTDNA/Newhouse School: 2020 A Dangerous Year for Journalists. The annual survey of broadcast newsrooms from the RTDNA and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University notes that during the past year, the job of seeking and reporting the truth became increasingly dangerous. “Journalists were threatened, assaulted and arrested at an alarming rate while on the job. We faced unprecedented levels of verbal and physical violence at the hands of civilians, police and the leaders we are meant to hold accountable.” This is the first year that the survey included a section on media safety. The survey’s research team says it wanted to understand how repeated, targeted acts of violence have impacted newsrooms across the country and learned that one in five television news directors reported attacks on employees. 86% of news directors changed newsroom procedures to protect employees. They purchased bullet-proof vests and gas masks and more often sent security teams with reporters. As far as radio is concerned, the study concludes, “Not surprisingly, the level of attacks at radio stations and on radio news people is much lower. Four percent of radio news directors and general managers reported attacks on newsroom employees. It was primarily a problem in major markets, with one million and more people, where 13.8% of news directors and general managers reported attacks on employees.” You can see the complete survey here. Commenting on the study, National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Broadcast journalists play an essential role in documenting pivotal moments in American history from the front lines. That has never been more important than during the past year. NAB is gravely troubled by this study reporting the unprecedented level of harassment, intimidation and violence directed at journalists covering the historical events of 2020. These unacceptable attacks on our nation’s free press undermine our very democracy by preventing journalists’ ability to report the facts and keep the public informed. We are grateful to the dedicated broadcast journalists bringing the truth to Americans during these dangerous times.”

Nick Craig to Host Mornings on WAAV-AM, Cape Fear. Beginning May 3, Nick Craig begins hosting “Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig” on Cumulus Media’s news/talk/sports WAAV-AM, Cape Fear, North Carolina “980 The WAAV.” The station says the show is “a live and local morning show hosted by fresh conservative talk personality Nick Craig. The show focuses on the day’s biggest stories including Wilmington and the Cape Fear region. The show will feature a wide variety of topics, guests, and listener interaction.” Cumulus Wilmington VP and market manager Eric McCart comments, “We’re excited to have Nick join our 980 WAAV Cumulus family! He brings a fresh new energy and excitement to weekday mornings that our listeners will really enjoy. If it’s happening in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region, it’s happening on Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig!” Craig adds, “Traveling on the road paved by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, I’m excited to bring the next generation of conservative talk to the Wilmington region and beyond. To be part of a legacy talk station like WAAV and Cumulus Media is quite the opportunity at my age. Looking forward to using these platforms to engage and interact with traditional talk listeners and the next generation.”

Ron Slay Joins WGFX-FM, Nashville’s Afternoon Drive Show. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces that former University of Tennessee basketball star Ron Slay is joining the “3HL” afternoon drive program alongside current hosts Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport. Paul Mason is program director for the Cumulus Media station, and he says, “Our listeners have made it clear that they want us to hire Ron Slay. I am happy to say we listened, and we are thrilled Ron Slay will be joining Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport on ‘3HL.’ ‘3HL’ is already a great show and I look forward to seeing it go to even higher levels.” Slay comments, “I am both delighted and eager to join the ‘104.5 The Zone’ and ‘3HL’ families. I hope to bring joy, energy, and insight to Nashville sports enthusiasts each day.”

SiriusXM Reports 2021 Q1 Financials; Revenue Up 5%. Satellite radio and digital audio broadcaster SiriusXM releases its financial data for the first quarter of 2021 and reports total revenue of $2.06 billion, a 5% increase from the $1.95 billion reported during the same period a year ago. However, net income for the quarter was $219 million, a decline of 29% from the $293 million reported in Q1 of 2020. SiriusXM added 126,000 self-pay subscribers to hit its all-time high of 31 million self-pay subscribers. New chief executive officer Jennifer Witz comments, “I am pleased to announce SiriusXM has started the year impressively – we added 126,000 self-pay net subscribers, an 83% increase as compared to the period a year ago, saw a first quarter record-low churn rate of 1.6%, and are reporting a new record-high quarterly adjusted EBITDA figure.  These strong results reflect the value we bring to our listeners through the breadth and depth of our content. Our advertising revenue grew 24%, driven by robust monetization of both on- and off-platform opportunities, as well as the growing podcast market. While we are benefiting from the broader reopening of the economy and the acceleration of consumers’ digital adoption, the meaningful long-term investments we’ve been making are also paying off. This includes creating and delivering compelling content, strengthening our digital product experiences, and scaling a full suite of end-to-end distribution and monetization solutions for content creators and publishers. We are extremely focused on achieving our 2021 goals and reinforcing our long-term position as North America’s premier audio entertainment company. Across SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher, we have added new channels, shows, hosts, and podcasts, enhancing the expertly curated audio entertainment experience across all formats from music to sports… We are working with highly regarded creators on new podcasts; earlier this week we announced the acquisition of 99% Invisible, the acclaimed and popular podcast from Roman Mars and his creator team. This was our first year as the exclusive audio broadcaster of the Masters Tournament, and we have expanded our streaming rights with both the NBA and MLB. We also created special music and talk programming that honored both Black History and Women’s History months back-to-back.”

RAB Announces ‘Radio Works for Automotive’ Presentations. As part of RAB’s Business Accelerated initiative, it is presenting a two-part live series for May’s featured automotive category, one of radio’s most important advertising categories. The first presentation titled, “What’s Driving the Auto Industry?” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 19. As Americans return to school and work, the demand for vehicles grows. Parts shortages, as well as chip scarcity, are hindering inventory on lots and yet, auto sales remain high despite the supply-demand imbalance. In this presentation, hear from experts in both automotive and auto dealership industries including Tyson Jominy, vice president, data and analytics, J.D. Power, and Dick Parrish, dealership management consultant, NADA, who will share insights into the auto industry’s growth and challenges. The second live presentation will feature broadcasters discussing automotive client success stories to help sellers prospect and support their clients. The session, titled “Radio Works for Automotive Part 2,” takes place at 1:00 pm ET on May 26. The presentation will also be available for on-demand viewing. Both presentations are free for RAB members. You can register here.

TALKERS News Notes. The Media Sales Institute announces its strategic alliance with Media Staffing Network that will bring MSN’s media recruiter’s expertise to the MSI curriculum at the 2021 NABOB MSI, being held at the Atlanta University Center and hosted by Morehouse College from October 25 to November 4, 2021. Media Staffing Network founder and CEO Laurie Kahn comments, “With our tutelage, we can better prepare the MSI graduates to address the position for which they are applying. Sadly, many colleges and universities are not as up to date on what a recent graduate should include on their resumes. Nor do they teach their students how to best stand out and showcase their value when they have little to no work experience.”…..iHeartMedia and media personality Chelsea Handler have entered into a deal for a new podcast called “Dear Chelsea” to be produced as a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast.  The comedian, best-selling author, and television host will give listeners the opportunity to submit questions about life and get candid answers on the podcast. “Dear Chelsea” – also featuring Handler’s co-host and longtime assistant Brandon Marlo – debuts on May 6. Handler says, “iHeartRadio has been a great place for me to share all of my wild, unvarnished thoughts. I’m excited to start this journey with ‘Dear Chelsea’ to help people figure out what they need in life – I’m more than happy to be that kick in the pants or shove that will give someone a new perspective on a situation and help them to make a decision.”…..SiriusXM announces it is again offering listeners nationwide comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday (5/1). SiriusXM, through its broadcasting agreement with Horse Racing Radio Network, airs 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 Audio Network and produced in collaboration with HRRN.

Biden Addresses Congress, COVID-19, Police Violence, Fed Search Giuliani’s Home and Office, John Kerry Iran Allegation, Feds Investigate Direct Energy Attack, and Boris Johnson Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). President Joe Biden’s address to Congress and his wide-ranging $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the rate of COVID cases in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines, and the exploding cases in India; the spate of high-profile cases of deadly police violence against citizens; the FBI’s search of former NYC mayor and former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s home and office in an investigation of his ties to Ukraine; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry shared Israeli military intelligence with Iran; the Pentagon’s investigation into a mysterious “direct energy attack” near the White House; and the scandal over Boris Johnson’s refurbishing of 10 Downing St. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

| April 15, 2021

Audacy Extends Contract with CFO Richard Schmaeling. The company and chief financial officer Richard Schmaeling sign a new contract set to begin on May 1 that keeps Schmaeling in his CFO role and adds the position of executive vice president, strategic initiatives to his duties. The new contract runs through April 30 of 2025 and pays Schmaeling an annual base salary of $800,000 that will be increased by not less than three percent annually beginning in May of 2022. Other aspects of the contract include: a target annual cash performance bonus at 90% of his annual base salary, to be earned based on Audacy’s performance; a grant of 60,000 restricted stock units as soon as practicable following May 1, 2021 which will vest 50% on May 1, 2023; 25% on May 1, 2024; and 25% on May 1, 2025; and restricted stock unit grants of 50,000 in 2021; 40,000 in 2022; 30,000 in 2023; and 20,000 in 2024, with vesting 50% on the second anniversary of the grant date and 25% on each of the third and fourth anniversaries of the grant date.

Galaxy Media Promotes Maine to Chief Revenue Officer; Greenlar to Chief Content Officer. Two Galaxy Media managers are rising to new positions within the company. Nick Maine is promoted to chief revenue officer from his current director of sports marketing position. In this new role, Maine will oversee the sales operations for both the Syracuse and Utica markets. Galaxy Media president and CEO Ed Levine says, “Nick Maine is a force of nature. It’s rare to have somebody that has been so engaged, so excited, and so competent all in one package. I can’t wait to see where he takes our sales effort over the next many years.” At the same time, Marissa Greenlar – brand manager for rock WKRL “KROCK” – is promoted to chief content officer for the company. She’ll continue in her role as brand manager for “KROCK” and will oversee all of the Galaxy brands and digital content. Levine comments, “Marissa’s contribution to Galaxy has been extraordinary. From starting as a sales assistant to working with the events team, to overseeing much of our social media and then assuming day-to-day programming responsibilities for ‘KROCK,’ she has impacted every aspect of Galaxy over the past 12 years. This newly created position is a reflection of the respect she has from her peers and an acknowledgement of her massive contributions to Galaxy.”

Cumulus Launches ‘104.5 The Zone TV’ in Nashville. The new “104.6 The Zone TV” will be more than just cameras in the WGFX-FM, Nashville studios for its daily radio programs. The Cumulus Media sports talk station says original sports programming on “104.5 The Zone Podcast Network,” original shows, and instant reaction specials every evening – including “The Ultimate Tennessee Podcast” – will be available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch. The station also says that after a big game or a huge event in Nashville, hosts will be live on “104.5 The Zone TV” to instantly react with fans from their home studios. WGFX-FM program director Paul Mason says, “‘104.5 The Zone TV’ is going to offer our fans a whole new experience when consuming ‘104.5 The Zone.’ Our listeners will now have the option to watch and interact with their favorite ‘104.5 The Zone’ personalities as they video stream their shows live on a variety of different social media platforms. With our recent partnership with A to Z Sports, the launch of ‘104.5 The Zone TV,’ and with more to come, ‘104.5 The Zone’ is continuing our reputation as the gold standard for sports content.” Will Boling is digital content producer for the station, and he says, “‘104.5 The Zone TV’ gives the listener a behind-the-scenes and in-depth look at the faces and voices behind the microphone from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. It also provides sports fans with a chance to skip the call-in line and instantly react to the biggest headlines with our hosts in the chat. Whether it’s watching the shows on our daily lineup during the week, reacting to digital exclusives in the evenings, or pregame/postgame shows centered around the biggest events in Nashville sports, ‘104.5 The Zone TV’ will expand Zone coverage – and that’s a huge win for sports fans. There is more excitement to come, so stay tuned!”

Audacy: Audio Is Driving Force Behind Vaccination Willingness. Citing results from a recent study it commissioned, Audacy says the S. Radoff Associates research that tested audio’s trust and influence during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic indicates audio is the leading media source in the fight against COVID-19 and a driving force behind Americans’ willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The study concludes that for the vaccine hesitant population, audio is the most trusted source of information about COVID vaccination (46%), ahead of TV news shows (42%), friends and family (40%), articles in a local (37%) or national (36%) newspaper, and social media (27%). The study also found that the vast majority of vaccine hesitant U.S adults (81%) say they will take some form of action if they hear a local radio or podcast host provide information about the benefits of COVID vaccines and recommend that listeners receive a COVID vaccine. Audacy SVP of research and insights Idil Cakim says, “Since the onset of the pandemic, audio has served as a trusted companion for listeners seeking vital information, local news and sports and entertainment. As America slowly but surely returns to normal life, the vaccine is a major step towards doing what we all love again – going to sports events, dining at our favorite restaurants, or creating memories with loved ones – and our study shows how big of a role audio is playing in inspiring Americans to make a plan to get their shot.”

Noel Paul Stookey is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. A true, elder statesmen of American folk music, as well as an iconic popularizer of the civil rights movement going back to the protest songs of the early 60s, Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Stookey discuss the evolution of the civil rights movement from the freedom marches of the early 60s to the current reckoning of the early 20s among a number of other fascinating topics. Stookey also discusses his latest charitable project. Don’t miss this extraordinary conversation between two extremely articulate individuals that spans the decades and connects the dots. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

The Todd Starnes Show Adds Affiliate in Salem, Oregon. The Memphis-based programs featuring conservative talk media personality and best-selling author Todd Starnes are being added to the program schedule at Willamette Broadcasting’s KYKN-AM, Salem, Oregon. The station is putting “The Todd Starnes Show” in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot long held by Rush Limbaugh. It is also airing the “Todd Starnes Weekend Edition” as well as the “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” feature.

COVID-19, U.S. to Exit Afghanistan, Minneapolis Protests/Chauvin Trial, Democrats’ Court-Packing Bill, Russia Sanctions/China Threats, Reparations Bill, Matt Gaetz Case, and Bernie Madoff Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/14). The “pause” on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the high COVID numbers in Michigan, and the variant running wild in Brazil; President Joe Biden’s move to end U.S. operations in Afghanistan; the protests in Minneapolis over the police shooting death of Daunte Wright, the manslaughter charges against former cop Kim Potter, and the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial; Democrats’ plans to introduce a “court-packing” bill to expand the Supreme Court to 13 justices; the expected sanctions against Russia for hacking and election interference and FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before Congress about China’s threats to the U.S.; U.S. House Democrats file a bill to study slavery reparations; the allegations of paying for sex with minors against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz; and Ponzi scheme orchestrator Bernie Madoff dies in prison were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

| March 30, 2021

Entercom Changes Corporate Name to Audacy. This change was teased by Entercom on Monday in a tweet but makes the news official today, marking the change from Entercom Communications Corp to Audacy, effective immediately. In a press release, the company says: “Over the past three years, the company has purposefully evolved into a scaled, multi-platform audio content and entertainment organization with the country’s best radio broadcasting group and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market—including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music, sports and news. Audacy is also the #1 creator of original, premium audio content.” Chairman, president and CEO David Field adds, “We have transformed into a fundamentally different and dramatically enhanced organization and so it is time to embrace a new name and brand identity which better reflects who we have become and our vision for the future. ‘Audacy’ captures our dynamic creativity, outstanding content, and innovative spirit as we aspire to build the country’s best audio content and entertainment platform.” The company says its evolution has been fueled by: the acquisition of the CBS Radio group, the launch of RADIO.COM and building the fastest growing digital audio platform, the acquisition of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, enhancing its sports platform with the acquisition of QL Gaming Group and its partnership with FanDuel, and more. The company’s ticker symbol will change from ETM to AUD effective on or about Friday, April 9. Along with the name Entercom, effective today, the company will also sunset the RADIO.COM brand and align its direct-to-consumer platform under Audacy.

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Adds ‘Markley, Van Camp & Robbins’ for Early Afternoons. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk WSGW-AM/FM announces it is filling the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart previously occupied by the Rush Limbaugh program with Compass Media Networks’ “Markley, Van Camp & Robbins Show” featuring Jamie Markley, David Van Camp, and Scott Robbins. The Alpha Media station says in mid-March it switched “from the Rush recordings to this new, live show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. WSGW wanted a show that would serve conservatives on the hot topics of the day in an informative and entertaining style. The MVC&R Show does that perfectly because they include a Millennial, Gen Xer, and a Baby Boomer. The range of audience listenership this trio brings closes the generation gap and provides a unique perspective that no other show can do. At the end of the day, it’s three friends hanging out and talking about everything! It is a great show and 100.5 & 790 Newsradio WSGW is excited to announce their addition to the lineup.”

WDUN-AM/FM, Gainesville, Georgia to Air Todd Starnes Show in Noon to 3:00 pm Slot. The Gainesville, Georgia news/talk outlet announces it will fill the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with the “Todd Starnes Show.” Jacobs Media’s WDUN-AM/FM is overseen by EVP and general manager Bill Maine, who says, “We know our listeners will miss Rush. He was the absolute best at what he did, and no one can replace him. But we are fans of Todd Starnes and we think moving Todd into that time slot, as well as adding more locally produced programs gives WDUN an exceptionally strong lineup of news/talk programs.”

KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City Expands Local Shows in Talent Shuffle. Salt Lake City news/talk KSL-AM/FM announces a series of changes in its lineup that includes the expansion of three programs. The Bonneville station says that with the departure of Lee Lonsberry from this station, Boyd Matheson’s “Inside Sources” program moves from the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon slot to the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart. The “Utah’s Noon News” show expands from 30 minutes to a full hour from 12:00 to 1:00 pm and “The Dave and Dujanovic Show” grows by an hour to air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. KSL program director Kevin LaRue says, “Boyd is just too important of a voice to the community to only have him on KSL one hour a day. We’re excited to provide listeners a longer program to cover important issues. The thinking he offers about the news and current culture is unparalleled.” Matheson also serves as the opinion editor of the Deseret News. He says, “Having spent most of my career as an international business consultant really gave me a look at how things work, what leadership looks like, and how you pull people together. Then my time in Washington DC as a chief of staff understanding the behind-the-scenes things that go on where the real levers of power are in DC and of course our connection to politics here locally. ”

‘Free Talk Live’ Host and Co-Founder Ian Freeman Awaits Bail Ruling; Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges. The lead host and co-founder of the nationally syndicated talk radio program “Free Talk Live” – Ian Freeman– is awaiting a ruling from federal Judge Magistrate Andrea Johnstone on a bail request from his attorney, according to an article in the Manchester Union-Leader. Freeman is being charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy after a recent raid on his home by federal authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgina MacDonald alleges that Freeman and others operated a Bitcoin-dollar exchange program through churches with which they are affiliated and called Freeman a “sophisticated cybercriminal.” The Union-Leader reports the feds allege that Freeman used Shire Free Church accounts to convert dollars to Bitcoin and that those dollars came from “romance fraud, investment fraud, and your-friend’s-in-jail fraud.” MacDonald says Freeman “offered anonymity, didn’t ask questions and charged a 10% exchange fee” when “legitimate” exchange services charge 3% or less. In requesting bail, Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that Freeman is not a flight risk and that he’s known about the federal investigation for years because people agents interviewed would tell Freeman about their encounter with authorities. Sisti says Freeman could have fled before his arrest. Industry observers who follow this TALKERS Heavy Hundred program know that its main freedom-based theme and Freeman’s ongoing antagonistic position on laws he considers unconstitutional have provided it with provocative and compelling “reality show” type material even though it has been a source of irritation to both local Keene, New Hampshire (where the show is based) and federal law enforcement agencies. Part of the show’s formidable appeal to an ever-growing number of affiliates and loyal listeners has been the willingness of its primary host to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

Sam Tatum Promoted to VP, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media. Rising from his director of sales for Radio One’s Washington, DC cluster to the newly created position of vice president, integrated marketing & partnerships for Radio One and Reach Media is Samuel Tatum. In this new role, Radio One and Reach Media say they are further unifying their sales and integrated marketing efforts across both divisions to help brands and agency partners effectively connect with the coveted and influential Black consumer through authentic and powerful multiplatform touchpoints. Tatum will lead a team of marketers and project managers in developing and implementing new innovative marketing solutions for national advertisers and agencies utilizing all of the Radio One and Reach Media assets. As the primary liaison between the national sales teams and other departments within Radio One, Reach Media, and other Urban One divisions, Tatum will streamline communications, ensure the continuity of national and corporate partnerships, and make sure the sales teams continue to provide their advertising partners with the absolute best-in-class cross-platform solutions. Tatum states, “I am humbled by the confidence Reach Media and Radio One has placed in me and am excited to continue to grow the legacy of our founder, Cathy Hughes, in this new role. Radio One and Reach Media have a rich portfolio of assets, and I am passionate about the opportunity to create, develop, and execute unique, on-brand, and culturally appropriate solutions that provide reach and engagement with the Black consumer for our advertisers and partners. Let’s blaze new trails!”

Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville Announces Content Partnership with A to Z Sports. Nashville sports talker WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” announces it has entered into a content partnership agreement with popular online sports information and entertainment destination, A to Z Sports. Cumulus Media says, “The agreement brings together the two biggest sports entertainment brands in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, allowing them to create and share unique, deep-dive sports content across their respective digital platforms, including streaming and on-demand content, podcasts, social media, and much more, plus live and local on-air programming on ‘104.5 The Zone’ and high-engagement live events for area sports fans.” Per the terms of the agreement, “104.5 The Zone,” the flagship home for the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for University of Tennessee Volunteers, will regularly feature A to Z Sports personalities, while “104.5 The Zone” personalities will appear regularly on A to Z Sports’ popular programs. The partnership will create shared and complementary original programming between the brands and their platforms to give fans more and better sports news and talk than ever before. WGFX program director Paul Mason says, “We are truly excited to partner with A to Z Sports! This opens up more doors for both WGFX and A to Z to be more creative and implement new ideas in the market. The true winner in this partnership is the Nashville sports fan.” A to Z Sports is co-owned by Zach Bingham and Austin Stanley. Earlier this month, “104.5 The Zone” signed sports journalist Buck Reising as its midday air personality (10:00 am to 1:00 pm). Reising had previously been a frequent guest host on WGFX, but is mostly known for his “615 Sessions” podcast and live weeknight show, “A to Z Sports Primetime,” heard on A to Z Sports Nashville.

Audacy Unveils New Relationship with BetMGM. The new Audacy, formerly Entercom, unveils another sports betting deal, this time with BetMGM. This relationship is a multi-year deal designating BetMGM as a betting partner of Audacy across its sports broadcast stations, the Audacy, and Bet QL apps and digital platforms, and the “BetQL Audio Network.” The partnership will bring BetMGM’s sports betting content to Audacy sports talk listeners and gives BetMGM preferred access to Audacy talent. The partnership comes on the heels of several recent moves made by Audacy in the sports betting space, including the acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group and the launch of the “BetQL Audio Network, both of which are fundamental components of this deal. Audacy president of sports Mike Dee says, “The advent of legalized mobile sports betting has presented an unprecedented opportunity to bring the action closer to the audience than ever before and, as a result, provide our partners with a direct line of sight to tap into an attentive, fully engaged audience of potential sports bettors. We are proud to partner with BetMGM and wish to thank them for their confidence in us as we become one of their largest media partners. In light of our BetQL acquisition and related offerings, we believe this commitment is the latest validation that no other media company offers the wide variety of ways to connect with the sports betting audience the way that we do on a multi-platform basis.”

COVID-19 Cases Rising/Vaccines, WHO Virus Origin Report, Derek Chauvin Trial, Biden Economic Stimulus Plan, Suez Ship Freed, Lil Nas X Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/29). The rising number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s warning of a fourth wave, plus the rollout of vaccines; the World Health Organization’s COVID origin report that suggests the coronavirus jump to humans from animals; the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the Biden administration’s multi-trillion dollar economic plan that first focuses on infrastructure; the container ship that blocked the Suez canal for almost a week is freed; and the controversy over the new song from Lil Nas X and the accompanying “Satan Shoes” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.