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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

| October 20, 2021

Liberty Media Sells All Shares of iHeartMedia Stock. The company is exiting the broadcast radio business after selling 5.94 million shares of iHeartMedia’s Class A common stock – a trade that’s worth about $150 million. Variety has the story and reports that “between November 2017 and February 2018, Liberty Media purchased $600 million of iHeartMedia debt for a total of $490 million. After iHeartRadio reduced its debt load through a bankruptcy settlement, the bonds were converted into about 6.9 million shares.” iHeartMedia issued the following statement: “We appreciate Liberty’s support for iHeartMedia, originally as a holder of debt which then converted into a meaningful equity stake, and we are delighted that they received a good return on their investment.” The iHeartMedia stock was part of the company’s Liberty SiriusXM Group that owns 78.1% of SiriusXM stock, 32% of Live Nation stock, plus small percentages of Formula One Group and the Atlanta Braves.

Audacy Acquires WideOrbit. There are no financial details included in the Audacy press release as the company announces its acquisition of “an exclusive, perpetual license to WideOrbit’s digital audio streaming technology and the related assets and operations of WO Streaming. This acquisition gives Audacy control of its product roadmap to deliver enhanced consumer-facing streaming features for its 170 million monthly listeners.” At this time, it’s unclear if this deal is the “small digital acquisition for approximately $40 million” that Audacy referenced last week when it announced it was offering $45 million in senior secured second-lien notes to raise capital, but it appears likely. Audacy will operate WO Streaming under the name AmperWave. The entire WO Streaming team, led by John Morris, SVP streaming, joins Audacy. Audacy chairman, president and CEO David Field comments, “The WideOrbit digital audio tech business perfectly complements our organic investments to make Audacy’s digital platform the top choice for listeners, clients and partners.”

Boston Sports Talkers ‘Toucher & Rich’ Launch Syndication Effort. WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive duo “Toucher & Rich” Fred Toucher (left) and Rich Shertenlieb (right) – along with cast member Jon Wallach – begin a regional syndication effort on Monday (10/25). Beasley Media Group says the show recently celebrated 12 years on ‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ as the dominant program for Male and Adult audiences 25-54. Beasley Boston VP and market manager Mary Menna says, “We are thrilled to be able to bring Toucher & Rich’s unique brand of content and humor to sports fans throughout New England through this syndication initiative. The T&R team is already a favorite with their passionate audience. We look forward to expanding that loyal audience through this new affiliation!” Toucher says, “Being syndicated has always been a career goal and I am very excited to start this new challenge.” Rich adds, “I couldn’t be more excited to launch ‘Toucher & Rich’ into syndication. Our listeners have always been the most loyal in radio, and I’m thrilled to introduce our show to a whole new audience of potential T&R lifers.”

Bob Kessler to Anchor Midday News at WGN-AM, Chicago. Longtime WGN Radio news reporter Bob Kessler is now anchoring midday news Tuesdays through Fridays. Kessler joined WGN in 1994 as a producer and became a weekend newsroom anchor in 1997. Kessler’s work has been recognized with an award from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters’ Association in 2019. WGN news director Ryan Burrow says, “Bob’s been an integral part of the WGN family for decades. He’s a great newsman and capably leads the anchor desk. A true teammate, he brings a positive energy and personality to the newsroom. I’m glad we’re able to expand his role on the news team.”

WWO: WARC Study on the Value of Audio to Marketers. In this week’s blog from CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One’s Audio Active Group, a study from marketing advisory firm WARC and iHeartMedia is examined. Titled, “The Investment Gap: Understanding the Value of Audio,” it reveals “a major audio investment gap for marketers.” It notes that 1) Consumers spend 31% of their media time with audio, yet audio is only allocated 8.8% of media budgets. Other media represent 91.2% of ad spend and 69% of consumer media use; 2)  Marketers overspend on digital and TV, and underspend on audio: WARC’s analysis reveals brands are overspending on TV and digital by 32%, and underspending on audio by a factor of 3X; 3) AM/FM radio generates a +36% increase in monthly reach for the average brand: An incremental reach analysis of 15 P&G brands conducted via Nielsen Media Impact, the media optimization platform, reveals the average P&G brand experiences a +36% increase in reach to their TV plan through the use of AM/FM radio; 4) The younger the demographic, the greater the lift in reach: Across P&G’s 15 brands, the lift in reach generated by AM/FM radio keeps growing in younger demographics. Among persons 35-44, the average P&G brand realizes a +63% increase in reach due to AM/FM radio. Among persons 25-34, AM/FM radio doubles the TV reach. See the blog here.

Cumulus Podcast Network to Join Strata Platform. A new partnership between Comcast’s FreeWheel, Cumulus Media, and Triton Digital brings Cumulus Podcast Network’s premium podcast inventory into the Strata media stewardship platform. The FreeWheel’s Strata allows agencies to automate the podcast buying process within their existing platform workflow, including receiving electronic proposals and sending electronic orders. Through this partnership, Strata users will be able to find and buy impression-based premium podcast inventory from Cumulus Media that is validated by metrics including downloads, as measured by Triton Digital’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. FreeWheel says this will mark the first time a podcast publisher has surfaced titles and lineups, which are curated groups of podcasts designed to reach specific desired demographics and psychographics, with metrics measured by industry leader Triton Digital, in a media buying platform. Cumulus SVP, digital operations and business development Larry Linietsky says, “Cumulus Media is pleased to expand its partnerships with FreeWheel and Triton to provide current and future marketing partners efficient access to the Cumulus Podcast Network’s vast offering of premium podcasts spanning entertainment, news, sports, politics, business, money and technology as well as the voices from our 413 stations.” Triton president of marketing development John Rosso adds, “Triton is pleased to be partnering with FreeWheel and Cumulus Media to provide advertisers with streamlined access to trustworthy, aggregated podcast data within their media buying system for the first time. Our IAB-accredited Podcast Metrics lineups provide advertisers with consistent data across networks and publishers, making the process of discovering, planning, analyzing and ultimately buying podcasts at scale seamless and efficient.” Strata users will be able to access Cumulus Podcast Network’s premium podcast inventory in the Strata system beginning in the 4th quarter of 2021.

Stonecom Adds Sports Talker to Livingston, Tennessee Market. The Overton County News reports that Stonecom debuts a new sports talk radio station for the Livingston, Tennessee market. “Sports Radio 104.7 emanates from WKXD-HD3 and is heard on translator W282AG at 104.7 FM. Stonecom president and GM Larry Stone says, “We know sports fans in this area are passionate about our local teams. During all the years doing Titans Caravan stops in Cookeville and Crossville, I saw that first-hand. It’s Big Orange Country with a huge love of everything orange. We love our championship high school sports around the region, and support the hard work of Tech athletes. ‘Sports Radio 104.7’ will serve that passion.” Programming will include “Outkick 360” featuring Jonathan Hutton, Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky, “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and more.

January 6 Investigation/Bannon Held in Contempt, COVID-19, Supply Chain Woes/Inflation, Biden Reconciliation Bill, Afghanistan Withdrawal Investigation, Chinese Military Aggression, Southern Border Crisis, Kidnapped Missionaries, and Facebook Rebrand Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/19). The investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the committee’s vote to refer Stephen K. Bannon to the DOJ for criminal prosecution; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., booster shots, and mask & vaccine mandates; the effects of the supply chain breakdown on the availability of consumer goods and soaring retail prices; President Joe Biden considers reducing his $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill to $1.9 trillion; the State Department inspector general’s investigation into the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan; China’s development of hypersonic weapons and its aggression against Taiwan; the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border; the 17 missionaries being held for $17 million ransom in Haiti; and rumors that Facebook is planning a rebrand were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Fresh Edition of ‘The Fisher House Story’ Available for Veterans Day and the Holidays. There’s new programming from the Fisher House Foundation for this Veterans Day as well as for the holiday season. The Jeff Wyatt Group has produced a fresh edition of “The Fisher House Story” for 2021 available for download. “The Fisher House Story – Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal” is a radio special provided in varying lengths for news/talk radio stations as well as a 30-minute public affairs show for all formats in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher House Foundation provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Fisher Houses provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis because “A Family’s LOVE is Good Medicine.” The program is available in three-hour, one-hour, 25- and 30-minute radio special versions and is hosted by long-time radio personality Jeff Wyatt. It features stories of America’s heroes, the families who serve by their side, and how Fisher House plays a role in their journey. This informational talk show will leave listeners feeling inspired during Veterans Day weekend (Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11) and through the holiday season, sharing stories of amazing service members, veterans, and their families. Host Jeff Wyatt’s love and respect for our military will only amplify these radio specials, scheduled to deliver Oct. 28 for potential airing Veterans Day weekend, during the holiday season, and for Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends as well. You can hear a demo and see the clock at: radio.fisherhouse.org. For more information on this radio special, available cash and barter free, contact Jeff Wyatt at 301-518-3640 or jw@thejeffwyattgroup.com.

Monday, August 23, 2021

| August 23, 2021

Remembering Phil Valentine. “We are saddened to report that our host and friend, Phil Valentine, has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.” That’s how Cumulus Media Nashville news/talk WWTN “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” shared the news of Valentine’s death. Having spent the past several weeks in a Nashville-area hospital battling COVID-19, the 61-year-old conservative talk show host – and coronavirus vaccine skeptic – died Saturday afternoon (8/21). Last month, his brother, Mark Valentine, told The Tennessean, “I know if [Phil] were able to tell you this, he would [say], ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories. He regrets not being more adamant about getting the vaccine. Look at the dadgum data.” In a July 26 (2021) interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Mark said Phil was “still very deep in the woods” and breathing with assistance. “He recognizes now that him not getting the vaccination has probably caused a bunch of other people not to get vaccinated. This is a real threat – it is a real public health crisis. His cavalier attitude wouldn’t have been what it was and he would have gotten vaccinated and encouraged everybody to get vaccinated.” Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with only 50.1% of adults fully-vaccinated. Modifying the lyrics to the Beatles’ song “Taxman,” Valentine wrote/performed “Vaxman,” which included such lyrics as, “Let me tell you how it will be, and I don’t care if you agree, ‘cause I’m the Vaxman. If you don’t like me coming round, be thankful I don’t hold you down.” In a December 2020 blog, the “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” afternoon drive personality wrote that his chance of dying from COVID-19 was “probably way less than 1%.” He had said of the vaccine, “I have a very low risk of getting COVID and dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” He said  he’d been taking ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication that comes in different forms for animals and humans. Acknowledging on July 11 (2021) that he had COVID-19, Valentine claimed it would not be a problem, saying that as a “precaution,” he might take a day off from his radio show. In fact, his Facebook post that day read: “Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it. Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow.” Valentine’s health, however, quickly deteriorated and his family issued a statement saying that “the experience” had changed the radio host’s mind on vaccination. “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine.’ [He] looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon. PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “This is a tragic loss for Phil’s family as well as the people of Nashville; WWTN; the talk radio industry; and the national conversation. His track record as a nationally known, super-successful, longtime radio personality is among the best. It is painfully ironic that his position on COVID-19 became the headline component of his sad passing. May his courage to reverse his stance during his final days serve as an effective influence to save lives.” On “The TALKERS magazine 2021 Heavy Hundred,” Valentine appears at #47. Tennessee Republican senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted that, “Phil Valentine was a visionary for the conservative movement, and he made an enormous impact on the lives of many Tennesseans. My deepest condolences and prayers are with Phil’s wife, Susan, and his family. May they be comforted and surrounded by love during this difficult time.” The junior senator from Tennessee, Republican Bill Hagerty, noted that, “Tennessee has lost a strong conservative voice that will be sorely missed.” That state’s governor, Republican Bill Lee, tweeted, “Maria and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Valentine and pray for his family as they navigate the difficult days ahead.” Meanwhile, lieutenant governor Randy McNally also took to social media, writing, “Deeply saddened that we have lost Phil Valentine to COVID-19. He was an inspirational and persuasive conservative voice. He will be greatly missed. If you haven’t yet done so, please consider vaccination. It is the only way to defeat this scourge.” Even though Valentine was a conservative talk show host, he was the son of former six-term North Carolina Democratic representative Tim Valentine. A radio personality since he was 20, Valentine – who attended East Carolina University and the Charlotte branch of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting – protested against a state income tax proposed by Tennessee’s governor at the time, Republican Don Sundquist. Valentine signed a three-year deal in 2019 that would have kept him on “99.7 WTN” through next year. He  authored three books: “The Conservative’s Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z”; “Right from the Heart: The ABC’s of Reality in America”; and “Tax Revolt: The Rebellion Against an Overbearing, Bloated, Arrogant, and Abusive Government.” Valentine and his son, Campbell, joked about their relationship via the podcast “PodGOATs.”  Reiterating a vaccination plea, Cumulus Nashville vice president/market manager Allison Warren comments, “Phil Valentine was a charismatic broadcaster who entertained millions and enriched countless lives throughout his career. A beloved friend and mentor to many, his contributions to our city and his passion for his listeners cannot be overstated. We know he will be missed. We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Phil’s family and wish them peace during this difficult time. If you aren’t yet vaccinated, we fervently hope that you will honor Phil’s memory by taking to heart the urgent plea he made in the last weeks of his life – please go get vaccinated.” Funeral arrangements for Valentine are pending.

Monday Memo: Empathy? Sympathy? While the parents of school-age children – “the mega-shoppers that our advertisers want to meet” – are confronting “the school year we hoped we would never repeat,” consultant Holland Cooke cautions against what he regards as “a media/consumer disconnect.” And in this week’s column, he recommends an urgent message that can literally be a matter of life and death. Read it here.

 

Pending Business: Is Radio Still the Frequency Medium? Do you remember your sales training that suggested a formula for getting results included your message hitting the target audience X number of times? What was that number? Maybe the number isn’t so important. Sales pro Steve Lapa says in today’s column, “Do you remember the thousands of daily ads you hear and see? Somehow your brain filters out what you don’t want to process. But when you’re hungry, thirsty, not feeling well, need a new computer, car, couch, or more cash, the appropriate ad jumps out of the jungle, demanding your attention. And that’s what great talk radio hosts are all about: owning the listener’s attention.” Read more here.

Cumulus Chicago Promotes Mallory Vor Broker to Reporter Covering City Hall and Politics. At news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago, Cumulus Media announces it has promoted Mallory Vor Broker to reporter for 890 WLS-AM. In this role, she’ll cover Chicago City Hall and the political beat for the station, filling the role vacated by Bill Cameron, who retired on August 20 after a 51-year career. Vor Broker was been serving with the station as executive producer for the “The John Howell Show.” In the past, she’s served as a producer for Steve Dahl, Roe Conn and Lauren Cohn during her nearly 10 years as a producer for Cumulus Chicago. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor comments, “As our new City Hall reporter, Mallory will tell the latest local news stories that matter to Chicago. She brings a fresh perspective and deep experience as a storyteller to this integral role. We look forward to continuing WLS’ superb coverage of City Hall and welcome Mallory to the 890 News Team.” Vor Broker says, “I am thrilled to begin my new role as City Hall reporter for WLS-AM 890. It’s a great opportunity to cover the dynamic political landscape in Chicago and Illinois after years of producing high-profile shows. I look forward to continuing to bring high-quality, thoughtful reporting to WLS-AM 890.”

Nate Weaver Named Promotions Director for iHeartMedia Wilmington-Salisbury. Joining iHeartMedia to serve as promotions director for the Wilmington, Delaware and Salisbury, Maryland markets is Nate Weaver. He comes to the company from his most recent position with Audacy’s WBEB, Philadelphia. iHeartMedia VP of programming Josh Wolff says, “We are so excited to have Nate join our team. From the first time we spoke, we knew he was the perfect fit. Nate’s impressive background will only serve to improve our portfolio of already strong brands.” Weaver says, “I am super excited to join iHeartMedia Salisbury and Wilmington’s amazing and hard-working teams. Not only am I looking forward to growing brand engagement amongst our portfolio of market-leading stations, but now that I’m in Delaware, I get to really indulge in tax-free shopping – this is great!” The markets include news/talk WILM-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WDOV, Dover; sports talk WWTX-AM, Wilmington; news/talk WJDY-AM, Salisbury; and sports talk WTGM-AM, Salisbury.

iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network to Expand News Efforts; Three Promotions Announced. The BIN: Black Information Network, iHeartMedia’s “24/7 comprehensive national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news with a Black voice and perspective,” announces plans to expand local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets beginning January 2022. The network is also promoting three staffers: Tanita Myers, previously director of news operations, is now vice president of news operations; Chris Thompson, previously director of network operations, is now vice president of network operations; and Lauren Crawford, previously associate editor, is now senior director of digital and social strategy, effective immediately. The company says the expanding local news coverage will create new employment opportunities including multiple news anchor and reporter positions, a managing editor, and a podcast managing editor. BIN president Tony Coles states, “We are incredibly proud of the growth and success of BIN during our first year. We are thrilled to continue our leadership in providing the most trusted news source for the Black community, offering even more local news coverage to the communities we serve. BIN’s success has been, in no small part, due to our dedicated and talented team. I look forward to seeing how Tanita, Chris and Lauren continue to grow within BIN, and I am excited to add even more experienced talent to our team.”

Nexstar Media to Acquire The Hill. The politics and Washington, DC publication The Hill is being acquired by Nexstar Media for $130 million. Nexstar is primarily a television company but also owns news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago. A press release from Nexstar says, “The acquisition marks a continuation of Nexstar’s content-first strategy, focused primarily on news, designed to further leverage and monetize its expansive digital reach… With more than 100 journalists who cover political news and events and provide a wide variety of engaging content to its users, The Hill’s business model is primarily advertising supported by direct, programmatic, and licensing revenue. Nexstar’s omni-channel approach to content distribution will allow it to expand The Hill’s reach and revenue channels while creating synergistic opportunities with Nexstar’s growing national cable news network, NewsNation, and its leading local news gathering platform, which counts 5,500 journalists producing over 275,000 hours of local and national news annually.”

Red Table Talk and iHeartMedia Strike Content Deal. The EMMY Award-winning talk show “Red Table Talk” enters into a deal with iHeartMedia to launch the Red Table Talk Audio Network. The venture will include a slate of co-produced podcasts, including its two current audio series: “Red Table Talk,” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris; and “Positively Gam,” a podcast hosted by Banfield-Norris. The newly formed network will launch five new series over the next two years with iHeartMedia that will allow listeners to go deeper into topics covered at the table, with all-new original podcasts from Red Table Talk hosts and regular show contributors. The first show to launch on the slate will be the podcast version of the EMMY and GLAAD Media Awards-nominated RTT spinoff, “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” hosted by Gloria Estefan, Emily Estefan, and Lili Estefan.

Afghanistan, COVID-19, Extreme Weather/Wildfires, Arizona Vote Audit, Staffing & Shipping Woes, Trump in Alabama, and Portland Protest Skirmish Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan and criticism of President Joe Biden’s handling of the move; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battle over mask and vaccine mandates; the flooding in Tennessee, Hurricane Henri hits the Northeast, and the California wildfires; the anticipated release of the controversial audit of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election votes; the ongoing troubles employers are having finding workers and filling orders and the chaos affecting the world’s shipping industry; former President Donald Trump is booed in Alabama for suggesting people get COVID vaccines; and the violence in Portland between Proud Boys and Antifa protesters were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

July 2021 PPM Ratings Takeaways – Part One

| August 10, 2021

 

July 2021 PPM Data – Information for the July 2021 ratings period has been released for New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; San Francisco; Dallas; Houston; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario; San Jose; and Middlesex-Somerset-Union.

Nielsen Audio’s July 2021 sweep covered June 24 – July 21.

Mike Kinosian provides “Takeaways” for spoken-word stations finishing in their respective markets’ top twenty, as well as noting each particular city’s #1 station (6+) and loftiest (6+) upticks and drop-offs.

All comparisons noted are June 2021 – July 2021 (6+).

NEW YORK

News/Talk: Red Apple Media’s WABC-AM & WLIR-FM “77 Talk Radio” 1.8 – 1.9, +.1, #20 to #19

iHeartMedia-owned WOR “710 – The Voice of New York” 1.9 – 1.8, -.1, #19 to #20

News: Audacy’s WINS “1010 – All News/All The Time” 2.6 – 2.7, +.1, #13 to #12 and co-owned WCBS-AM “News Radio 880” (Mets) flat at 2.5, remains at #15

Sports Talk: Audacy’s WFAN-FM & WFAN-AM “Sports Radio 101.9 FM & 66 AM” (Yankees) 2.9 – 2.6, -.3, #11 to #13

Public Radio News/Talk: WNYC Broadcasting Foundation-owned WNYC-FM 3.7 – 3.6, -.1, ninth to tenth

Number One 6+: Emmis urban AC WBLS first month, 6.5 – 6.9, +.4; iHM adult contemporary WLTW had been #1 the past eight months

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: Spanish contemporary WPAT (+1.1)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: classic hits-oldies WCBS-FM (-.8)

LOS ANGELES

News/Talk: iHeartMedia’s KFI “AM 640” 4.4 – 4.0, -.4, third to sixth

Salem Media Group-owned KRLA “AM 870 The Answer” 1.4 – 2.0, +.6, #28 to #19

News: Audacy’s KNX “1070 News Radio” steady at 2.8, continues at #11

Sports Talk: None in the top twenty

Public Radio News/Talk: Pasadena Area Community College’s KPCC unchanged at 2.6, #14 to #13

Number One 6+: Audacy classic hits-oldies KRTH, sixth consecutive month, 5.5 – 5.9, +.4

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase (Tie): news/talk KRLA and Spanish contemporary KLVE (+.6)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: alternative KYSR (-.7)

CHICAGO

News/Talk: Nexstar Media Group’s WGN “Radio 720” 3.3 – 3.1, -.2, flat at #10

News: Audacy-owned WBBM-AM & WCFS “News Radio 780 AM & 105.9 FM” 6.0 – 6.7, +.7, second to first

Sports Talk: Audacy’s WSCR “670 The Score” (Cubs) 2.6 – 2.9, +.3, #17 to #12

Public Radio News/Talk: Chicago Public Media-owned WBEZ steady at 3.4, stays in eighth-place

Number One 6+: Audacy news WBBM-AM & WCFS, first month, 6.0 – 6.7, +.7

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: news WBBM-AM & WCFS (+.7)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease (Tie): adult contemporary WSHE and urban AC WVAZ (-.7)

SAN FRANCISCO

News/Talk: None in the top twenty

News: Audacy’s KCBS-AM & KFRC “All News 740 AM & 106.9 FM” 5.9 – 6.0, +.1, third to second

Sports Talk: Cumulus Media-owned KNBR “The Sports Leader” (Giants) 6.3 – 5.1, -1.2, second to third

Public Radio News/Talk: KQED, Inc.’s KQED 8.7 – 7.9, -.8, #1

Number One 6+: public radio news/talk KQED, seventh straight month, 8.7 – 7.9, -.8

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: 1980’s hits KOSF (+.9)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: urban AC KBLX (-2.1)

DALLAS

News/Talk: Cumulus Media-owned WBAP “News Talk 820 AM & 99.5 HD2 FM” 3.6 – 3.7, +.1, stays at #9

Sports Talk: Cumulus Media’s KTCK “Sports Radio The Ticket” 2.6 – 2.4, -.2, #17 to #19

Public Radio News/Talk: North Texas Public Broadcasting-owned KERA 2.9 – 2.6, -.3, #15 to #17

Number One 6+: Audacy classic hits-oldies KLUV, third month in a row, 5.2 – 5.1 -.1

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: contemporary Christian KCBI (+.5)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease (Tie): sports talk KRLD-FM; Spanish adult hits KBOC; CHR KLIF-FM (-.4)

HOUSTON

News/Talk: iHeartMedia’s KTRH “AM 740 News Radio” steady at 4.5, seventh to eighth

News: None in the top twenty

Sports Talk: None in the top twenty

Public Radio News/Talk: University of Houston-owned KUHF 2.8 – 2.6, -.2, #17 to #18

Number One 6+: iHeartMedia adult contemporary KODA, third consecutive month, 7.5 – 7.3, -.2

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: regional Mexican KQQK (+.6)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease (Tie): classic rock KGLK; Spanish contemporary KLOL (-.9)

ATLANTA

News/Talk: Cox Media Group-owned WSB-AM & WSBB “Atlanta’s News & Talk” 8.1 – 8.3, +.2, #1

News: None in the top twenty

Sports Talk: Audacy’s WZGC “92.9 The Game” 3.8 – 2.9, -.9, #10 to #12

Dickey Broadcasting-owned WCNN “The Fan” (Braves) 1.8 – 1.5, -.3, #17 to #20

Public Radio News/Talk: Atlanta Public Schools’ WABE 2.3 – 2.5, +.2, #14 to #15

Number One 6+: Cox Media Group news/talk WSB-AM, 26th consecutive month, 8.1 – 8.3, +.2

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: contemporary Christian WFSH (+.8)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: sports talk WZGC (-.9)

PHILADELPHIA

News/Talk: Townsquare Media’s WKXW “New Jersey 101.5” 1.7 – 1.8, +.1, #18 to #17

News: Audacy’s KYW & WPHI “News Radio 1060 AM & 103.9 FM” 5.1 – 5.5, +.4, locked in sixth-place

Sports Talk: Audacy-owned WIP “Sports Radio 94” (Phillies) 5.2 – 5.8, +.6, fifth to third

Beasley Media Group’s WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” 2.8 – 1.4, -1.4, #15 to #19

Public Radio News/Talk: WHYY’s WHYY 4.2 – 4.1, -.1, remains at #9

Number One 6+: iHeartMedia urban AC WDAS-FM, seventh straight month, 7.8 – 8.6, +.8

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase (Tie): urban AC WDAS-FM; adult contemporary WBEB; adult hits WBEN-FM  (+.8)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: CHR WIOQ (-1.8)

LONG ISLAND

News/Talk: iHeartMedia-owned WOR “710 – The Voice of New York” 2.6 – 3.0, +.4, #15 to #13

News: Audacy’s WINS “1010 – All News/All The Time” 3.2 – 3.5, +.3, #12 to #8 and cluster-mate WCBS-AM “News Radio 880” (Mets) 2.7 – 3.3, +.6, #13 to #10

Sports Talk: Audacy’s WFAN-FM & WFAN-AM “Sports Radio 101.9 FM & 66 AM” (Yankees) flat at 4.8, fifth to third

Public Radio News/Talk:  WNYC Broadcasting Foundation’s WNYC-FM 1.6 – 1.8, +.2, #21 to #19

Number One 6+ (tie): iHeartMedia classic rock WAXQ, second successive month, 5.9 – 5.4, -.5

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: adult standards WHLI’s internet stream (+1.1)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: classic rock WBAB (-1.4)

RIVERSIDE

News/Talk: iHeartMedia-owned KFI “AM 640” 3.7 – 3.6, -.1, seventh to sixth

News: None in the top twenty

Sports Talk: None in the top twenty

Public Radio News/Talk: None in the top twenty

Number One 6+: Anaheim Broadcasting classic hits-oldies KOLA, fourth straight month, 7.3 – 7.7, +.4

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: CHR KIIS-FM (+.6)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: regional Mexican KRQB (-1.1)

SAN JOSE

News/Talk: None in the top twenty

News: Audacy’s KCBS-AM & KFRC “All News 740 AM & 106.9 FM” 4.0 – 3.9, -.1, repeats at #7

Sports Talk: Cumulus Media-owned KNBR “The Sports Leader” (Giants) 4.0 – 3.7, -.3, seventh to eighth

Public Radio News/Talk: KQED, Inc.’s KQED 9.2 – 9.0, -.2, #1

Number One 6+: public radio news/talk KQED, seventh month in a row, 9.2 – 9.0, -.2

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: regional Mexican KXZM (+.9)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: country KRTY (-.9)

MIDDLESEX

News/Talk: Townsquare Media-owned WKXW “New Jersey 101.5” 4.2 – 3.8, -.4, flat at #8

News: Audacy’s WCBS-AM “News Radio 880” (Mets) 1.7 – 1.8, +.1, continues at #20

Sports Talk: Audacy-owned WFAN-FM & WFAN-AM “Sports Radio 101.9 FM & 66 AM” (Yankees) 2.5 – 2.9, +.4, #17 to #13

Public Radio News/Talk: WNYC Broadcasting Foundation’s WNYC-FM 4.0 – 3.2, -.8, #9 to #11

Number One 6+: iHeartMedia classic rock WAXQ, seventh consecutive month, 7.8 – 7.0, -.8

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Increase: Spanish tropical WSKQ (+1.2)

Largest 6+ June 2021 – July 2021 Decrease: contemporary Christian WAWZ (-1.4)

Up next: July 2021 overviews for: Washington, DC; Boston; Miami; Seattle; Detroit; Phoenix; Minneapolis; San Diego; Tampa; Denver; Baltimore; and St. Louis. Email Mike Kinosian at Mike.Kinosian@gmail.com.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

| August 5, 2021

Beasley Broadcast Group Second Quarter Net Revenue Up 96%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2021, Beasley Broadcast Group (parent company of Beasley Media Group) indicates net revenue was $59.6 million, an increase of 96.1% over the same period in 2020. The company posts operating income of $5.8 million compared to the $17.6 million operating loss it reported in Q2 of 2020. Station operating income also rebounded to $11.1 million compared to the $11 million SOI loss it posted in the same period a year ago. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Beasley’s strong 2021 second quarter financial results reflect growing momentum across our media platform, as the continuing broad-based economic recovery accelerated demand from consumers and advertisers for our premium content and marketing and advertising services. With the significant rebound in the commercial advertising market, second quarter net revenue of $59.6 million increased 24% over first quarter 2021 levels and 96% over the comparable prior year period. Top line growth combined with the meaningful actions we have taken over the past year to permanently reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies, resulted in a significant rebound in net income to $0.2 million and SOI to $11.1 million, as well as positive free cash flow of approximately $1.0 million. Throughout the second quarter, the resumption of advertising in key categories combined with the success of our content monetization strategies resulted in year-over-year revenue growth across all fifteen of our markets, with healthy double-digit revenue increases in Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Wilmington. Notably, our continued emphasis on strong local content and consumer engagement drove best-in-industry ratings performance for our station clusters, according to Nielsen. Our cumulative on-air audience share approached pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter, having grown consistently since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While second quarter non-traditional revenue (NTR) and events revenue was minimal, we made the strategic decision to fully re-open our events business in the third quarter, given the continued strengthening of commerce and consumer activities in our markets, and expect incremental revenue from this source in the second half of 2021. As we work to return all of our revenue sources to pre-pandemic levels of operation, we are closely tracking potential impacts from the Delta variant and the uncertainty it may bring to businesses we serve and our future operating results. Our ongoing focus on digital innovation and the strategic investments we are making in our digital and esports infrastructure and content production capabilities are delivering positive results and continue to highlight the value of our long-term revenue and cash flow diversification strategies. Growing consumer and advertiser demand for Beasley’s digital audio content drove a 96% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with digital accounting for approximately 13.4% of total second quarter revenue, compared to 13.4% in the prior year period and 12% in the 2021 first quarter. With growing audience share and engagement, Beasley’s digital network delivered record digital audience impressions in the second quarter, with total digital impressions growing 29% over the prior year period.”

Salem Media Group Q2 2021 Total Revenue Rises 20.6%. The total revenue for Salem Media Group’s second quarter of 2021 was $63.8 million, an increase of 20.6% over the same period in 2020. Salem posted operating income of $5.6 million for the quarter, compared to the operating loss of $900,000 it reported during the second quarter of 2020. The company’s net income for Q2 of this year was $2.3 million compared to the net loss of $2.5 million it reported for the second quarter of 2020. Salem Media Group reports data for its three business segments and the Broadcast segment’s net revenue for this quarter was $46.8 million, up 18.5% from the same period a year ago. Station operating income rose 66.6% to $10.6 million. The Digital Media segment saw revenue rise 9.5% to $10.3 million and the Publishing segment revenue was $6.7, an increase of 68.3%. As of June 30, 2021, the Salem Media Group had $216.3 million outstanding on the 6.75% senior secured notes due 2024, no balance outstanding on the Asset Based Revolving Credit Facility, and $11.2 million outstanding on Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans from the Small Business Administration.

Saga Communications Q2 Net Revenue Up 49.7%. Second quarter financial data from Saga Communications, Inc. reveals that the company’s net revenue was $28 million, an increase of 49.7% over the same period in 2020. The company posted operating income of $4.6 million compared to the operating loss of $8.6 million it reported in the second quarter of 2020.  Station operating expense increased $2.4 million to $21.0 million for the quarter compared to the same period last year. Station operating income was $8.4 million for the quarter compared to a loss of $181,000 for the second quarter of 2020. Free cash flow was $4.2 million for the quarter compared to a negative $1.8 million for the same period last year. Saga’s balance sheet reflects $59.4 million in cash on hand as of June 30, 2021 and $59.6 million as of August 2, 2021.  The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the second quarter 2021.

Urban One Second Quarter Net Revenue Climbs 41.6%. Today’s second quarter 2021 financial report from Urban One, Inc., parent company of Radio One, indicates the company’s net revenue was approximately $107.6 million, an increase of 41.6% from the same period in 2020. Broadcast and digital operating income was approximately $49.6 million, an increase of 64.3% from the same period in 2020. Urban One reports operating income of approximately $37.9 million for Q2 of 2021, compared to approximately $20.4 million for the same period in 2020. Net income was approximately $17.9 million compared to approximately $1.4 million for the second quarter of 2020. Urban One CEO and president Alfred C. Liggins, III says, “Overall we had an extremely strong second quarter; not only was Adjusted EBITDA up 82.4% year-over-year, but we also surpassed our Q2 2019 pre-pandemic Adjusted EBITDA. We are experiencing unprecedented advertiser interest in our audience across the entire Urban One platform. The radio advertising business saw a robust rebound from the worst impacts of the pandemic in Q2 2020, with segment revenues up by 73% and radio syndication revenues up 50.2%. We also benefitted from strong TV scatter markets, with TV advertising revenues up 21.3% in the quarter; furthermore, registered interest in our 2021-22 TV upfront sales presentations has also been extremely encouraging, which will help our fourth quarter revenue performance. Demand for our digital products remains high, with digital revenues up by 147.9% for the quarter and Adjusted EBITDA up by over $6 million; a significant help to our top and bottom-line growth. For Q3, our core radio business excluding political is currently pacing up by over 40%, and we are comfortable increasing our FY21 Adjusted EBITDA guidance to mid-$130 million, excluding casino chase costs. During the quarter we completed the second tranche of our Class A ATM share sale program, which yielded $21.2 million net of fees. This cash influx further strengthened our balance sheet, and we ended the quarter with $129.8 million of cash on hand, which is a healthy place to be ahead of the exciting new investment opportunity in the One Casino & Resort in Richmond, Virginia.”

Ralph Nader is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Legendary consumer advocate, political activist, prolific author, Pacifica radio talk show host and five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Nader engage in a fascinating discussion about “left/right political thinking” in America as well as social and business changes influenced by advancements in technology, plus more. Nader says working class Democrats and Republicans alike have far more in common than they have differences and that unbridled corporatism is the true enemy of the poor and working class regardless of race or political ideology. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

NAB Announces 2021 Marconi Finalists. The finalists for the 2021 Marconi Awards have been announced. The news/talk Station of the Year finalists are: WSB-AM, Atlanta; WTOP-FM, Washington; KSSZ-FM, Columbia, Missouri; WLW-AM, Cincinnati; and KNX-AM, Los Angeles. (NAB lumps all-news and news/talk stations into the same category.) WSB-AM, Atlanta is also up for Legendary Station of the Year. Talk radio hosts making the finals include, for Major Market Personality of the Year, George Dunham, Craig Miller, and Gordon Keith from sports talk KTCK-AM, Dallas “The Ticket.” In the Large Market Personality of the Year category, finalists include: WFLA-AM, Tampa’s Jack Harris; WBAL-AM, Baltimore’s C4 and Bryan Nehman; WHPT-FM, Tampa’s Mike Calta; and WWTN-FM, Nashville’s Dan Mandis. Medium Market Personality of the Year category finalists include: KRMG-FM, Tulsa’s Dan Potter; KIDO-AM, Boise’s Kevin Miller; KYKX-FM, Tyler, Texas’ Harlen the Sports Guy and Pigskin Bob; and WHO-AM, Des Moines’ Simon Conway. See all the finalists here.

TALKERS News Notes. Next Tuesday (8/10), McVay Media’s Mike McVay is joining Loyd Ford from Rainmaker Pathway Consulting Works, LLC for “The Radio State Of The Union Live Event” on The Encouragers on Clubhouse. It’s being billed as “a frank discussion about employment, job search, career management, corporate & local radio and the future” and takes place at 7:00 pm ET. Ford says, “We have been discussing the people we love in this business, the talent. This is a unique time in our history. If you are on the talent side of the business, it takes some skill to navigate your way through what is happening. I reached out to Mike because he really does have such deep experience and knows radio as a talent, a consultant and someone who ran programming for one of the largest broadcasters in the country. Plus, he’s willing (like I am) to be candid. This will be a conversation with red meat and a lot of helpful hacks to get ahead, stay balanced and help others.”…..Legendary WGN-AM and WGN-TV sports producer Jack “Rosey” Rosenberg will be recognized by the City of Chicago with an honorary street sign. The southeast corner of E. Illinois Street and Cityfront Plaza Drive will double as “Jack Rosenberg Way.” Rosenberg’s career at WGN began in 1954 where he was a producer, news writer, and sports editor and worked with celebrated sports voices including Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Vince Lloyd, Lou Boudreau, and others. WGN says, “Rosey was a pioneer in modern sports production and broadcasting and is credited with its development. While Rosey himself was rarely heard on-air, the sound of his typewriter clacking in the background was unmistakable.” Rosenberg died December 26, 2020 at the age of 94…..Futuri announces the launch of AdMatic, “a revolutionary system that helps podcast platforms and creators make their content more discoverable and monetizable using advanced metadata sorting and deployment.” Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig adds, “Two million podcasts all have the same problem: poor metadata sorting that leads to mismatched recommendations for listeners and ineffective advertising for businesses. AdMatic solves this by using Futuri’s AI-driven technology to individually categorize podcast episodes and align with the businesses and products that best match on a case-by-case basis, rather than the hopelessly broad one-size-fits-all approach we currently see in the market.”

COVID-19 Delta Variant/Outbreaks & Mask Policies, Eviction Moratorium, Cuomo Allegations-Impeachment Possibility, Infrastructure Bill, January 6 Investigation, the Tokyo Olympic Games, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/4). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in numerous U.S. states, governors under fire and mask policies; President Joe Biden’s moratorium on evictions; the allegations of sexual impropriety against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the possibility of his being impeached; the bi-partisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; the Tokyo Olympics; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

| July 22, 2021

Larry Elder Prevails in Suit to Get on California Recall Ballot. California-based Salem Radio Network talk host Larry Elder is on the official ballot for the recall election of California Governor Gavin Newsom after California Superior Court Judge Laurie Earl sided with Elder in his suit against Secretary of State Shirley Weber. Weber’s office said Elder’s five years of tax returns were improperly filed or redacted and he would not be allowed on the September 14 ballot. In his suit, Elder argued that the 2019 law requiring gubernatorial candidates to provide five years of tax returns applies to candidates in a “direct primary election,” and this recall is not a primary election and Judge Earl agreed, saying, “I don’t find that Mr. Elder was required to file tax returns at all.” Elder also argued that since Governor Newsom did not have to provide tax returns, Elder was not being afforded equal protection under the law. There will be 43 candidates on the September ballot.

Bob Philips Named President of Audacy Networks and Multi-Market Sales. In a memo to company employees, Audacy chief operating officer Susan Larkin announces that chief revenue officer Bob Philips is assuming the new role of president of Audacy Networks and Multi-Market Sales. She says, “We believe Bob will deliver significant revenue impact and client outcomes by focusing on growing our network and multi-market sales businesses as we continue to execute our market growth strategy. As chief revenue officer, Bob was a catalyst for innovation and growth. Under his leadership, we streamlined multiple revenue departments, launched the Audacy Network and our in-house traffic network while also revolutionizing our approach to national sales, bringing new brands and bigger opportunities onto our platform. And, as the economy rebounds and local and national advertising return to pre-pandemic levels, Bob will build exponential value for our clients and for Audacy.” Larkin says the company is beginning a search for a new chief revenue officer immediately.

Townsquare Media Names Peter Van Den Heuvel Market President for Cedar Rapids-Waterloo. Media executive Peter Van Den Heuvel is joining Townsquare Media as market president and chief revenue officer for the company’s Cedar Rapids/Waterloo station group. Van Den Heuvel was most recently with Spectrum Reach. Townsquare Media SVP Todd Lawley says, “Peter has extensive multi-platform management experience which makes him a perfect fit for this role. I could not be more excited to have someone with Peter’s leadership and depth of multi-platform knowledge to lead our two-time ‘Market of the Year’ team in Cedar Rapids/Waterloo.”

BIA: U.S. Local Ad Spend to Hit $142 Billion. The consultancy firm BIA Advisory Services is revising its 2021 forecasts for U.S. local advertising revenue to $142.4 billion, up $4.8 billion from its November 2020 estimate. The projection is split between traditional and digital media but shows that the divide is narrowing, with traditional advertising only 8 % ahead of digital media that includes: mobile, online, over-the-top, email, and traditional media’s online ventures. BIA predicts local radio advertising will rebound somewhat to $11.7 billion in 2021 and $12.3 billion in 2022, with $.94 billion and $1.04 billion, respectfully, coming from digital platforms. The revised forecast also sees a 5.6 % increase in overall compound annual growth in U.S. spending in local ad markets and expects the amount to reach $157.1 billion in 2022 and $162.1 billion in 2023. While the digital media share will first leapfrog to 51 % over traditional media by 2023.

Journalists Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz to Produce January 6 Podcast for Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios. Former WNYC reporters Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, co-hosts of the podcast “Trump, Inc.,” announce they will be working with Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios on an investigative documentary podcast series “that will trace the multiple failures that led to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.” The yet-to-be-titled series will launch in early 2022. Pineapple Street Studios co-founders Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky say, “We couldn’t be prouder to be working with Andrea and Ilya. We’ve been tremendous fans of their unique, ambitious style of investigative narrative audio for years, and what they are uncovering about the insurrection on January 6 will provide the context about that day and what led to it that all of us are so desperate to understand.”

TALKERS News Notes. WOKV-FM, Jacksonville and KRMG, Tulsa talk host Mark Kaye is giving away his new book to listeners for free. He says his anti-cancel culture book, The Woke Folk, is dedicated to his late on-air predecessor Rush Limbaugh. He says, “I just wanted to get this book out there. Cancel culture is already destroying important parts of our society. It must be stopped. I want everyone in my audience to have this book so we can continue to spread Rush’s legacy to as many people as possible. So, instead of selling it, I’m just giving them all a copy for free.”…..NuVoodoo Media Services announces the findings of a new study on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Americans, conducted on Tuesday (7/20) and supplementing its Ratings Prospect Study 18, fielded June 18-20, 2021. In Tuesday’s study of 1,318 respondents between 14 and 64 years of age, NuVoodoo found that COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is highest among women and 25-54-year-old adults. On the flipside, the study further revealed that Hispanic Americans are the least vaccine hesitant of any population segment. NuVoodoo president Carolyn Gilbert comments, “Our June study was conducted about five weeks after the CDC gave the all-clear for vaccinated Americans to essentially return to a normal life, and feelings were most certainly running toward the optimistic side after 15 months of COVID-19 related restrictions. With this new variant of concern starting to impact case rates and hospitalizations, not to mention dominating the news cycle, we felt it important to provide the timeliest information, so our industry partners can make better informed decisions when planning the next few months.”…..Nexstar Media Group‘s WGN-AM, Chicago announces that Joe Brand is named the host of Chicago Blackhawks pregame and postgame shows and the weekly “Blackhawks Live” program, starting September 29. Brand takes over for Chris Boden, who was cut after four years. WGN sports director Dave Eanet says Brand is “one of the exciting sports broadcasters in Chicago. He’s been a key part of our Blackhawks broadcasts on WGN for several years, but mainly behind the scenes. Now, we’re thrilled that he can share his expertise, energy, and enthusiasm with Blackhawks fans on the air on a daily basis.” Brand has reported for the broadcast team and co-hosted both the “Blackhawks Crazy” and “Blackhawks 720” podcasts that originate from the WGN Radio studios.  Since joining WGN in 2013, Joe Brand has been a producer, reporter, anchor, and host.

COVID-19, Biden Town Hall, January 6 Investigation, Infrastructure Bill/Debt Ceiling Battle, Critical Race Theory, Extreme Weather and Western Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/21). The rising rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy, and the return of mask mandates; President Joe Biden’s Wednesday evening CNN town hall; Republicans and Democrats battle over the January 6 investigation committee; the fight in Washington over the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill and the GOP’s refusal to raise the debt ceiling; the controversy over the teaching of critical race theory in public schools; and the extreme weather all over the world and the wildfires in the U.S. West were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.