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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

| August 3, 2021

Townsquare Media 2021 Second Quarter Net Revenue Up 45%. The company releases financial data for the second quarter of 2021 and reports net revenue was $107.3 million, an increase of 45% over the same period in 2020. Townsquare Media says it achieved 99.4% of Q2 2019’s net revenue when excluding Live Events net revenue. Total digital revenue growth was up 36% year over year and contributed approximately 47% of the company’s total net revenue in the first six months of 2021. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “Over the next three years, we expect double-digit digital net revenue growth to continue, fueling the growth of our digital platform from $180 million of revenue (on a trailing twelve-month basis as of June 30, 2021) to $250 million. Most impressively, I am extremely proud to report that Townsquare’s second quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $30.3 million not only exceeded our expectations, our previously stated guidance, and 2019 levels (+1% vs. Q2 2019), but it was also the highest Adjusted EBITDA generated in any single quarter in Townsquare’s history. To accomplish this strong result only one year after the start of the pandemic is a testament to the strength of the Townsquare team, our digital platform and solutions for local businesses, and our careful expense management efforts.” Wilson adds, “As a Digital First Company, our digital revenue and profit growth has accelerated, driving the diversification of our business, total company growth and separation from our local competition. I am incredibly optimistic about Townsquare’s future, and very proud that we are on the path to achieving 2019’s Adjusted EBITDA in 2021, on the verge of a full revenue recovery in 2021, and plan on delivering strong revenue and profit growth in 2022.” Townsquare reports in three segments: Townsquare Interactive – its digital marketing solutions subscription business; Advertising – including broadcast and digital advertising products and solutions; and Live Events – including concerts, expositions and other experiential events. Advertising net revenue for Q2 of this year was $85.9 million, an increase of 50.4% over the same period in 2020. The company also reports net income of $10.1 million compared to the net loss of $28.9 million it posted during the same period a year ago. As of June 30, 2021, Townsquare had a total of $25.1 million of cash and cash equivalents and $550 million of outstanding indebtedness.

Jeff Rickard Named Brand Manager for WEEI, Boston; Ken Laird Promoted to Assistant Brand Manager. Boston sports talk outlet WEEI announces that Jeff Rickard is joining the station as brand manager, effective August 11. Audacy says that in this role, Rickard will oversee content operations for WEEI-FM and the WEEI radio network that spans the New England region. Rickard was most recently PD and morning host at Emmis Communications’ WFNI-AM, Indianapolis. During his career, Rickard spent almost 10 years in Bristol, Connecticut hosting ESPN Radio’s “Gamenight” program and served with Comcast as managing editor and anchor of the Boston-based “Out of Bounds Latenight” show. Rickard has also hosted shows regularly for numerous SiriusXM channels including: NFL Radio, ESPNU, MLB Network Radio, and Mad Dog Sports Radio. He has served as the host of NFL Radio’s “The Sunday Kickoff” during the NFL season for the past five years and is the host of “College Football Overtime” on ESPNU. He says, “Having worked in sports radio for virtually my entire career, I am thrilled to join the team at WEEI. Its rich history is well documented as is the unmatched passion of the Boston sports fan. I’m looking forward to pairing this talented team with fresh, new ideas to both reflect and match that passion.” At the same time, WEEI executive producer Ken Laird is being promoted to assistant brand manager. He’ll continue his role as update anchor and executive producer of the morning drive “Greg Hill Show.”

Ramsey Network Unveils New Podcast, ‘The Fine Print.’ The newest podcast from Ramsey Network is a show that shines a spotlight on the deceptive methods companies, marketers and scammers use to influence money decisions. ‘The Fine Print’ is hosted by Ramsey personality George Kamel and is “a bi-weekly show featuring interviews with experts and industry insiders about the money traps and trends keeping people broke.” Ramsey Solutions CEO and “The Ramsey Show” host Dave Ramsey says, “For 30 years, I’ve heard the pain in people’s voices when they call into the radio show because of a money trap that’s left them in a world of hurt. What if we could prevent that pain by empowering people to avoid the trap in the first place? That’s what ‘The Fine Print’ does. George educates listeners to recognize and steer clear of money minefields so they can be the heroes of their own stories.” Episodes of the podcast include: How TurboTax Is Screwing You; Could Bitcoin Be Your Ticket To Wealth?; The True Cost of Credit Card Rewards; The Dirty Truth Behind Your Credit Score; and How the Robinhood App Steals from the Rich AND the Poor. Find out more here.

LiveXLive and PodcastOne Announces Podcast Competition. This competition is called “Self Made Podcast Edition” and is “an audio competition to find the next big podcast star for PodcastOne.” The company says the competition will be driven by fans and PodcastOne’s panel of judges, as they listen to see who will take the top prize, a podcasting contract with PodcastOne and a total package worth over $100,000 including promotion across the network which features a roster of celebrity podcasters, including Adam Carolla, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Barbara Schroeder, Michael Irvin, and Jordan Harbinger.” The contest kicks off today (8/3) and is open to amateur podcasters only. The winner of “Self Made Podcast Edition” will be crowned on September 30, 2021 – International Podcast Day. PodcastOne president Kit Gray says, “There are so many wonderfully creative and innovative podcasters out there. We’re excited to be able to offer someone the opportunity to make their dreams of becoming a self-made podcast host come true.” Learn more here.

SiriusXM to Unveil Lucille Ball’s ‘Lost’ Radio Show on New Channel. The legendary comedienne is the star of the new SiriusXM channel called, “Let’s Talk to Lucy,” named after her 1960s CBS Radio program. SiriusXM says, “In between starring in four television series and more than 70 films, Lucy would frequently jump from set to set, tape recorder in hand, and talk about all aspects of life with some of the biggest names in Hollywood history, including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and dozens more. These recordings eventually made it onto air when CBS Radio broadcast them as ‘Let’s Talk to Lucy’ from 1964-1965. However, for the last 50-plus years they’ve never been heard publicly again – until now.” Ball’s daughter Lucy Arnaz says, “Although I have been care-taking these ancient tapes for over 30 years, I had never really listened to them all and had no idea how many remarkable people Mom had talked to on these radio shows. It’s a treasure trove of personal information from some of the greatest talents of American entertainment and my family and I can’t wait to share them with the rest of the planet.”

TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow evening (8/4), a debate among a number of the candidates running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in the September 14 recall election will will take place and Salem Radio Network is distributing the event nationally. It’s taking place from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm ET at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. SRN host Hugh Hewitt – who serves as president of the Richard Nixon Foundation – will moderate the debate along with panelists Christine Devine and Elex Michaelson of KTTV-TV, Los Angeles “FOX 11 News” and former U.S. National Security Adviser Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien. Special radio coverage will be anchored by KRLA, Los Angeles morning host Jennifer Horn and KRLA news anchor Larry Marino. SRN host and candidate Larry Elder is declining to take part saying his goal is “defeating Gavin Newsom not appearing in a circular firing squad with other Republicans.”…..Westwood One is expanding the role of sports media pro Rich Eisen within the network to include pregame and halftime hosting duties for “Monday Night Football on Westwood One.” The Monday night schedule kicks off on September 13, when the Baltimore Ravens visit the Las Vegas Raiders and concludes on January 3, 2022, when the Cleveland Browns battle the Pittsburgh Steelers. Eisen says, “‘Monday Night Football on Westwood One’ is one of the greatest hosting gigs in broadcasting and I’m honored to have the seat. The fact that I can expand my partnership with Westwood One beyond my daily show and podcast platform by talking even more football thrills me to no end.”…..The application window for programming candidates interested in applying to the “Elevating Women in Audio: MIW & BDSradio Mentorship” is being extended through Tuesday, August 10.  The “Elevating Women in Audio: MIW & BDSradio Mentorship” program is a year-long experience for women in music programming, provided by Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio and MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Music). Personalized conversations with the best programming minds in the business are geared to help advance a career within the radio/audio industry. Additionally, the mentee receives a scholarship to attend Radio Show 2021 this October in Las Vegas. The mentorship is available to one female brand manager, content/program director, assistant program director, and/or music director from any U.S. based music format. To apply, click here…..The popular finance and investing podcast “Pennies: Going in Raw,” hosted by Hugh Henne and Dan, the Deity of Dips, is now a part of the iHeartPodcast Network. iHeartMedia says, “With more than 2.3 million downloads, the podcast takes an exciting and informative spin on stock market topics like day trading strategies, volume, price targets, penny stocks, accumulation, reverse splits and much more. The show also features a range of guests from young, successful traders to the leaders of multi-billion-dollar companies, such as Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph, and CEO and founder of HimsAndrew Dudman…..Today through Thursday, WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive talk host Simon Conway (left) is pulling double duty as he fills in for Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo (right) on his Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated program. Conway’s WHO show is also heard on iHeartMedia’s WMT, Cedar Rapids and WOC, Davenport, Iowa…..iHeartMedia Pittsburgh’s Steelers Radio Network announces changes to its broadcast team. As part of the changes, Craig Wolfley, a former Steelers offensive lineman who has served as a sideline analyst on the Steelers game day broadcast since 2002, will join play-by-play announcer Bill Hillgrove in the broadcast booth as color analyst. Wolfley takes over for Tunch Ilkin, who retired after 23 seasons in the booth. Former Steelers offensive lineman Max Starks is joining Missi Matthews for sideline reports. He recently served as a sideline reporter for Westwood One. Starks will also join Wolfley as co-host of “In The Locker Room, Presented By Neighborhood Ford Store,” a daily, in-season radio program airing on Steelers Nation Radio.

COVID-19 Delta Variant and Masks, Eviction Ban Expires, January 6 Investigation, Voting Rights, Southern Border Policy, Infrastructure Bill, and Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/2). The rising rate of COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the U.S. and abroad and the issue of mask mandates; the White House puts the onus on states as the federal ban on evictions expires; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the suicide of Capitol police officer Kyle DeFreytag; today’s planned DC rally supporting the For the People voting rights bill; the Biden administration continues the Trump administration policy of deporting illegal migrants; the $1 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure bill; and Simone Biles returns to the Olympics to win bronze in the balance beam were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

| June 29, 2021

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TALKERS 2021 Conference Video Posted – Generating Talk Radio Revenue in a Noisy Digital World. The second video, under the direction of Art Vuolo, from the TALKERS 2021 Conference that took place at Hofstra University on June 11 is posted. This panel – in addition to featuring a brief video from consultant Holland Cooke – was moderated by Westwood One talk host Jim Bohannon and included panelists: Marc Beaven, general manager, WCBM, Baltimore; Kathy Carr, president, Howie Carr Radio Network; Paul Gleiser, president/owner, KTBB, Tyler, Texas; Erik Hellum, COO, Townsquare Media, New York, RAB; Christine Travaglini, president, Katz Radio Group, New York, RAB; and Paul Vandenburgh, owner/morning host, WGDJ, Albany, New York.

Remotes: An Oldie But a Goodie. Radio sales pro Kathy Carr writes today in a piece for TALKERS magazine about the need to keep talk show hosts in front of their audiences. She says the recent trend away from remote broadcasts misses some great opportunities to promote and sell. “Isn’t the mission of a local – or in our case regional – show to cover a certain geographical area? And covering an area includes being on the ground. Just this spring and summer alone, our network will visit 10 different parts of the region to get in front of the listeners via remote broadcasts – at restaurants including 110 Grill and Evviva Trattoria, auto dealerships, seaside inns, and even an arcade. Listeners drive long distances to watch the shows live. Some have come from as far as Ohio.” Read her column here.

WHO, Des Moines’ Simon Conway Raises $100,000-plus for Service Dog Charity. Pictured above is WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive host Simon Conway (standing) at a live event to raise funds for his Puppy Jake Foundation – a charity that helps fund service dogs for U.S. service persons wounded in combat. Joining him were U.S. Navy SEALS Rob O’Neill (center) – whose shot took down Osama bin Laden during Operation Neptune Spear – and Will Chesney (left), who served as the SEALS dog handler on that mission. Conway says, “I am so honored that these true national heroes came to Iowa to support this charity.” Conway’s program – which helped raise more than $102,000 for the Puppy Jake Foundation – is also heard on iHeartMedia stations WMT, Cedar Rapids and WOC, Davenport.

Massachusetts Broadcasters Association to Induct Nine into Hall of Fame. This fall, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association will induct nine broadcasters into its Hall of Fame, including WAQY, Springfield morning duo “Bax & O’Brien” – Mike “Bax” Baxendale (left) and John O’Brien (right). Other inductees are: WCRB, Boston morning host Laura Carlo; WGBH, Boston jazz show host Eric Jackson; broadcast executive Paul Kelley; former Boston Red Sox play-by-play commentator Sean McDonough; former longtime WMJX, Boston personality Nancy Quill; WCVB-TV, Boston journalist Jorge Quiroga; and former Boston television executive Gerald Walsh.

iHeartMedia Atlanta Commits to Launching 10,000 Black-Owned Businesses. The company is announcing that on the heels of its multi-year commitment to Atlanta-based Operation HOPE revealed back in April, it plans to help 10,000 aspiring Black entrepreneurs in the Atlanta metro area launch their businesses. This is part of the 1 Million Black Business Initiative that aims to create one million new Black businesses by 2030. iHeartMedia says this initiative will continue to amplify the work of aspiring Black entrepreneurs, providing them with top-of-the-line coaching and educational resources and a 120-day free trial, courtesy of Shopify. iHeartMedia Atlanta will also provide social media support and advertising to a select group of entrepreneurs in the future, with additional activations to come. iHeartMedia Atlanta president Drew Lauter says, “We are excited to partner with Operation HOPE to grow Black business ownership here in Atlanta. Our city is the epicenter for entrepreneurial energy, and we are proud to use iHeart’s considerable resources to help owners of Black businesses achieve their dreams.”

George Noory Signs Multi-Year Contract Extension with Premiere Networks. Late night talk radio star George Noory and syndicator Premiere Networks agree to an exclusive, long-term agreement to renew and extend their relationship. Noory will continue to host the “Coast to Coast AM” program that’s heard on more than 640 affiliate stations. Noory comments, “I can’t express how delighted I am that we have extended our agreement well into this decade. As I enter my 18th year as host of this incredible show, ‘Coast to Coast AM,’ I look forwarded to the future. We’re experiencing incredible times and we’ll be there nightly, bringing the best stories and guests to our audience who has made us the #1 rated nighttime talk show in the country.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott adds, “‘Coast to Coast AM’ continues to be an overnight powerhouse for our partners, and it’s a credit to George’s dedication to the program and his audience. For the past 18 years, he has brought passion and enthusiasm to the program every night, and we couldn’t be happier to extend our successful partnership.”

TALKERS News Notes. On today’s edition of Premiere Networks’ syndicated “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show,” former President Donald J. Trump will appear as a guest during the second hour of the show…..SiriusXM announces the launch of “Top of the World: Lessons from Rebuilding the World Trade Center,” an 11-part series featuring the people at the heart of the historic rebuilding of the new World Trade Center. The special programming premieres July 6 on Business Radio channel 132 and will broadcast for 11 consecutive weeks in the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Among the major figures featured throughout the series are World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; WTC master planner Daniel Libeskind; National 9/11 Memorial architect Michael Arad; and more…..Audacy and Notre Dame Global Partnerships announce a multi-year radio broadcast agreement for Notre Dame Football. As part of the relationship, all-news WBBM-AM, Chicago will air all Fighting Irish football games on the Notre Dame Radio Network beginning with the team’s season opener on September 5 against Florida State. During Notre Dame football broadcasts on WBBM-AM, non-stop news coverage will continue on WCFS-FM…..C13Originals, the Peabody Award-nominated documentary studio division of Audacy’s Cadence13 announces the second season of “Hope, Through History.” This limited-run documentary podcast series is directed and produced by C13Originals and written and narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and bestselling author Jon Meacham and explores pivotal moments of crisis in American history and how they shaped the nation. Season two explores “FDR, Churchill, and America’s Slow Walk to War”; The Battle of Gettysburg”; “George W. Bush and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief” and more.

Facebook Anti-Trust Suit Tossed, COVID-19, Condo Collapse Case, Trump Rally/Trump Org Legal Situation, Big City Gun Violence Spike, House January 6 Investigation, Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, Western Heatwave and Gwen Berry Anthem Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/28). A U.S. District Court judge throws out the Federal Trade Commission’s anti-trust suit against Facebook; the concern about the COVID-19 Delta variant and the flagging vaccination rate in the U.S.; the search for residents of the collapsed Florida condominium and the building’s safety history; former President Donald Trump’s Ohio rally and the legal issues facing the Trump Organization; the spike in deadly gun violence in America’s large cities; the U.S. House legislation to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol; President Joe Biden’s push for the bipartisan infrastructure deal; the record-setting heatwave affecting the Pacific Northwest; and reaction to U.S. Olympic athlete Gwen Berry’s National Anthem slight were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

| April 28, 2021

Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Ink Big Deal for Content Distribution. The Miami Herald has the story about the new $40 million deal that Meadowlark Media – the company formed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard – and DraftKings have entered into. According to the Herald, DraftKings is getting into the content distribution business and by June or early July will be responsible for getting Meadowlark’s flagship program “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” onto radio, television, podcast platforms, and social media. It will also serve as title sponsor. The paper reports that Meadowlark negotiated with several other companies including SiriusXM, NBC’s Peacock and iHeartMedia.  Le Batard told the Herald that didn’t want fans to have to climb a paywall for his show. “We didn’t want to do that to our listeners. The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money. This allows Meadowlark to be profitable from the start and have total freedom to do what we want. We can go forward and appear everywhere. We can make partnerships anywhere we want. We don’t have any corporate overlord. Our partner is our sponsor and what they are sponsoring is our freedom. The media landscape is changing very rapidly, and this shows how much power and value individuals can exert in breaking free from the corporate machine.” By summertime, Le Batard’s show – currently only available in podcast form – will be found in video formant on YouTube, Twitch, and DraftKings’ own nascent channel. The Herald adds that “the partnership will include DraftKings commissioning content projects and original programming that Meadowlark will develop and produce, including sports documentaries, as DraftKings broadens its sports entertainment footprint.”

Alpha Media Files Opposition to Larry Wilson’s Petition to Deny with FCC. As Alpha Media works to emerge from bankruptcy – approval for which it has received from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia – it also needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission. But minority interest holders Larry Wilson and Paul Stone filed Petitions to Deny with the FCC, claiming that Alpha has failed to comply with FCC regulations regarding licensing of some of its stations and that the matter requires further review of foreign ownership interests, respectively. Alpha recently filed its opposition to the Petitions to Deny. In that filing’s summary, it says, “In short, when one peels away the bombast of Wilson’s Petition, it is clear that Wilson is inappropriately using the agency as a platform for rehashing his differences with certain members of the Company’s Board of Directors and management, and vainly attempting to shoehorn assessment of his personal grievances into the Commission’s processes under the guise of spurious claims that Alpha is unfit to hold its broadcast licenses. Moreover, his assertions are false. For Stone’s part, he simply criticizes the FCC’s well-established policy of promoting companies’ ability to promptly emerge from bankruptcy where further regulatory review of foreign ownership interests is required, a policy that is grounded in public interest considerations and comity with the bankruptcy laws. Neither Wilson nor Stone has standing as a party-in-interest. Any claims they had as holders of minority interests in Alpha pertaining to the Plan or to Alpha’s governance could and should have been presented to the Bankruptcy Court or the Delaware courts. While they inexplicably chose not to avail themselves of these alternative forums, they cannot now seek redress before the Commission. It has been black-letter law that the FCC does not adjudicate private contractual matters for far longer than the ‘more than 40 years’ that Wilson’s counsel has been ‘practic[ing] before the Commission,’ and the FCC has no reason to do so here.”

Westwood One Announces Executive Promotions. Three Westwood One staffers are promoted to new positions within the syndicator and sales firm’s programming and operations divisions. Twenty-eight-year Westwood One employee Susan Stephens is promoted to SVP and general manager, Westwood One programming. In this expanded role, Stephens will work to optimize programming and content opportunities and collaborations between news, talk, music, and entertainment. Tim Seymour rises to SVP, head of operations in which the 20-year WWO staffer assumes responsibility for the operations, partner relations, affiliate & sales operations, traffic & continuity, and research operations teams. Becky Bennett is elevated to VP, partner relations. Stephens and Seymour both report to Cumulus Media executive vice president of marketing and president of Westwood One Suzanne Grimes. Bennett will report to Seymour. Grimes says, “We have an enviable depth of talent within Westwood One with the unique experience to lead us forward. It is a privilege and a pleasure to announce these well-deserved promotions that will position us to succeed in 2021 and beyond.”

Edison’s Annual ‘Moms and Media’ Study Unveiled May 6. The results of the annual “Moms and Media” study from Edison Research will be revealed at a webinar being presented next Thursday (5/6) at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says, “This year’s ‘Moms and Media’ study provides insight on media usage, social media habits, and current outlook on tech by U.S. moms. Findings incorporate data from The Infinite Dial study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as well as data from Edison Research’s new ongoing syndicated measurement of social media, The Social Habit. The 2021 report features data trends on devices, media engagement, and technology usage of U.S. moms. Highlights from this year’s study include: smart speaker ownership, podcast adoption, online audio listening, and social media engagement. In addition, the report will showcase brand new research centered on social media usage by U.S. moms and their children. You can register for the webinar here.

Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Harry Hamm Sentenced in Child Porn Case. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former longtime KMOX, St. Louis air personality Harry Hamm was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. The 79-year-old former entertainment editor for the radio station admitted that FBI investigators found child porn on two of his cell phones and his laptop. Hamm is also facing charges of second-degree statutory sodomy, incest and possession of child pornography in St. Louis County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. The Post-Dispatch story says the St. Louis County charges stem from allegations of sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Hamm began his career with the station in 1975.

TALKERS News Notes. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is bringing two of the Navy SEALS who were on the mission that killed al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden to Des Moines for a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation that provides service dogs for combat-wounded veterans. Rob O’Neill – the SEAL who fired the shots that killed Bin Laden – and SEAL dog handler Will Chesney will take part in the June 18 event…..ABC News Radio is providing coverage of President Joe Biden’s address this evening and will begin with a one-hour special, “The Biden Presidency: The First 100 Days,” looking back at the start of the Biden administration. The program will air live on the radio network from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET anchored by correspondent Aaron Katersky. ABC News Radio will also provide live anchored coverage of President Biden’s speech, with reporting and analysis from ABC News’ team of correspondents and experts…..Public radio outlet WPLN, Nashville announces it has hired Caroline Eggers as the newsroom’s first environmental reporter. She starts her new position in June and will cover environmental issues with a focus on equity for WPLN News as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to report on under-covered topics and communities. She comments, “WPLN News delivers essential stories with incredible intellect and empathy. I can’t wait to reflect these values while investigating Nashville’s climate action plan, air quality and infrastructure challenges.”

COVID-19, Biden’s 100 Days Address to Congress/$1.8 Trillion American Families Plan, Andrew Brown, Jr Protests/Police Violence, 2020 Census-House Seats, Critical Race Theory Controversy, John Kerry Iran Allegation, and Southern Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The CDC’s new directives on mask wearing, the rollout of vaccines, and the high rate of cases in places like India and Brazil; this evening’s 100-day address to Congress by President Joe Biden and his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan”; the protests of the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. and other cases of police violence; the results of the 2020 census and its impact on U.S. Rep seats; the controversy over “critical race theory” and its use in public schools curricula; the allegation that then-Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli air strikes with Iran’s foreign minister; and the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

| September 16, 2020

Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago Fires Dan McNeil After Sexist Tweet. Chicago sports talk personality Dan McNeil has been let go by Entercom after his Monday evening tweet criticizing the wardrobe of ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor. His tweet suggested that Taylor’s outfit made her appear as if she were hosting a porn awards show. McNeil co-hosted the afternoon drive show with Danny Parkins. Entercom regional president Rachel Williamson issued the following in a memo to staff: “Dan McNeil is no longer an employee at ‘The Score.’ For each one of us our words have power. For our brands and on-air personalities that is amplified and brings increased responsibility how we choose to use our voices. Last night’s tweet, and its degrading and humiliating tone to a fellow female broadcaster, was unacceptable. We have the best teams in Chicago, and we must continue to hold ourselves to high expectations to continue to be leaders in our organization, our industry and our community. We apologize to all who were offended by Dan’s words, especially Maria.” Danny Parkins continues to host the afternoon show solo for now.

Salem Radio Network Distributing Christian Networks Special Broadcast. The title of this Saturday’s program is “Where Is America Headed? Finding Faith in a Time of Fear” and airs live from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm ET (9/19). Salem Radio Network tells TALKERS magazine that a nationwide coalition of Christian radio networks are joining forces to present the program. “The title of the broadcast was prompted by uncertainty and unrest in our country, and the need for all Americans to hear how they can have faith and hope in a time of fear by following 2 Chronicles 7:14.” Guests will include Vice President Mike Pence and Joel C. Rosenberg, New York Times bestselling author of Implosion, Can America Recover from Its Economic, and Spiritual Challenges In Time?, both of whom will be interviewed by David Brody of CBN.

‘Our American Stories’ Passes 260 Affiliate Mark.  The two-hour daily talk show “Our American Stories” continues to show steady growth on news/talk stations across America.  The show is a highly produced, storytelling narrative hosted by Lee Habeeb that breaks the mold of most shows programmed on commercial talk radio. Habeeb who is also CEO of the program’s distributor, American Private Radio, tells TALKERS, “‘Our American Stories’ is a celebration of our rich heritage through the power of storytelling. On each broadcast we profile Americans from all walks of life, past and present, who have made a positive impact in American culture. ‘Our American Stories’ tells the stories of innovators in the arts, sports, business and music world, along with technology, science, and the military. Listeners hear stories of business leaders big and small, of what people of faith do in the public square, of leadership in sports and in your family, and the celebration of hard work and risk-taking, all presented in a non-partisan manner.” The show has proven to be a successful ratings-getter as evidenced by the impressive numbers it is gathering at heritage station WHO, Des Moines.  According to iHeartMedia, Des Moines VP/programming Mike Dorwart, “In the last four quarters, ‘Our American Stories’ has averaged just over a 13-share in Persons 12+ in their timeslot on NewsRadio 1040 WHO.”  For more information about the show, please click here.

MPR Parts Ways with KCMP, Minneapolis Jock Eric Malmberg. Public media firm Minnesota Public Radio has let triple A KCMP-FM, Minneapolis air personality Eric Malmberg go in the aftermath of the unexpected resignation of MPR reporter Marianne Combs, who left because editors did not approve her story that investigated alleged inappropriate behavior toward eight women by Malmberg. When this story broke earlier this week, Malmberg was not named by Combs. But MPR said in a piece on its own website, “Our hosts have to be able to attract an audience that wants to listen to them and trusts them and over the last 36 hours those conditions have changed for Malmberg.” Initially, Combs’ public resignation seemed to imply that the story had been spiked, but in a subsequent tweet she stated, “While the editors have not gone so far as to cancel the story, they have shown such a complete lack of leadership that I no longer have any confidence they will handle the story appropriately.”

Skyview Networks to Handle Ad Sales for AP’s Radio News. Effective January 1, 2021, Skyview Networks will begin exclusively representing The Associated Press’ network audio sales. In this multi-year deal, Skyview will rep AP’s 15-second advertising units that radio affiliates run adjacent to their program content. AP vice president and general manager for Americas media Michael Fabiano says, “As a longtime supporter of the broadcast radio industry, The Associated Press is pleased to supply our premium radio station inventory to support the best media mix advertisers seek. We are excited about working with Skyview and the potential to increase our brand presence across radio stations and advertisers.”

2020 Radio Mercury Finalists Announced. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces that the finalists for the 2020 Radio Mercury Awards have been announced and 94 radio spots made the cut, covering 12 awards in nine categories created by advertising agencies, production companies, radio stations, streaming companies and students. Finalists range from regional to large advertising agencies and radio stations, as well as national and local advertisers. The spots cover categories including automotive, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, government services, healthcare, insurance, quick-serve restaurants, telecommunications, travel and hospitality. This year’s entries were judged on their creativity, originality, execution and effective communication of a brand’s message. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber says, “We felt strongly that the Radio Mercury Awards must go on this year. This year’s finalists prove that creativity does and can flourish no matter what, and we are so excited to celebrate this year’s work at the virtual awards presentation.” You can see (and hear!) all of the finalists here. The winners will be announced virtually on October 6.

TALKERS News Notes. A new election-themed podcast is being co-produced by CNN Audio and iHeartRadio. The show, “Election 101,” demystifies the American political system while offering a unique perspective on the inner workings of the electoral process. It’s hosted by CNN correspondent Kristen Holmes and “answers questions that are weighing heavy on the minds of Americans as we approach this unprecedented presidential election. Each episode of this 10-part series serves as an explainer for listeners who may be overwhelmed by our current political environment, while offering a ‘back-to-basics’ narrative that explains the stakes and consequences of our long-standing institutions and how they play into American elections, including: the two-party system, mail-in voting, voter security, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, political conventions, and campaign finance.”…..AdLarge Media’s digital audio division, cabana, is exclusively representing the fictional fantasy podcast “Carcerem” for ad sales. AdLarge says, “‘Carcerem’ is an original audio fantasy series from Shane Salk Productions that features a star-studded cast, original music, and immersive sound design. More like a movie than an audio play, the captivating series puts listeners in the middle of the action. Featuring sword fights, monster attacks, giant battles, heartbreak, and humor, the first season of ‘Carcerem’ launches September 22 with 32 episodes and more than 120 characters.”…..UNINTERRUPTED, the all-digital sports programming network founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, and SiriusXM are launching season two of the weekly football podcast series, “17 Weeks.” This year the show features Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams, New Orleans Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron. The series will again be narrated by former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, with new episodes made available on the SiriusXM and Pandora apps starting September 17…..The Talk Shows USA-syndicated “Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk” program adds three new affiliate stations. Now airing the weekend program are: East Arkansas Broadcasters’ KBTM-AM/K267AS, Jonesboro, Arkansas; Townsquare Media’s KFYO-AM/K236CP, Lubbock, Texas; and iHeartMedia’s KCOL-AM, Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Presidential Election/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats/Schools and Colleges Outbreaks, Western Wildfires, Hurricane Sally, Attacks on Police, Breonna Taylor Settlement/BLM Movement, New COVID Stimulus Deal, and Google Senate Anti-Trust Hearing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/15). The November presidential election and the controversy over mail-in voting procedures; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the outbreaks at schools and on college campuses; the deaths and destruction from the numerous wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington; Hurricane Sally’s impending landfall in the Gulf Coast; the spate of attacks on police officers; the city of Louisville settles with the family of Breonna Taylor for $12 million; the congressional battle over a new COVID stimulus deal; and Tuesday’s Google anti-trust hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. WEZN-FM, Bridgeport, Connecticut “Star 99.9” morning team Anna Zap and Jay Raven (below) are being syndicated via a deal between Connoisseur Media and Compass Media Networks. Connoisseur airs “The Anna & Raven Morning Show” on both WEZN and its WALK-FM, Patchogue, New York (Long Island). Connoisseur CEO Jeffrey Warshaw says, “The response to Anna & Raven in Long Island really confirmed our belief that their sense of humor, benchmarks, and likability are universal. Anna & Raven have proven they can win in PPM markets, diary markets, and against the best local and national morning drive talent in the country.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann adds, “The time is right for Anna & Raven to go national. Stations are hungry for a proven morning show with universal appeal from a marketing partner ready to help them win.”…..Premiere Networks extends its partnership with national radio host and R&B legend Keith Sweat. He’ll continue to host the evening R&B show “The Sweat Hotel,” currently heard on more than 60 affiliate stations. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott says, “Keith Sweat’s name is synonymous with R&B. His unparalleled connection to the music, the artists and listeners has been the driving force behind our successful partnership for the last 13 years.  We couldn’t be happier to extend our relationship for years to come.”…..The three-hour, weekly classic R&B program “The Classics With Mr. & Mrs. R” (at left) joins Fishnet Syndication. As part of this deal, Fishnet will handle all marketing, advertising, and affiliate sales beginning immediately. Fishnet says, “‘The Classics With Mr. & Mrs. R’ brings radio stations the best of R&B from back in the day, like Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Mary J, Janet Jackson, and of course Whitney along with the amazing Al Green.”…..Townsquare Media’s country WITL-FM, Lansing brings aboard Cadillac Jack and Erica Gray for morning show duties. Townsquare Media Lansing market president Zoe Burdine-Fly says, “We are beyond excited to have Caddy & Erica joining our team in Lansing as the morning show of our heritage WITL brand. Their experience and passion to deliver local content to our dedicated audience will be instrumental in the continued success of the station.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

| September 15, 2020

Van Harden Announces Retirement from WHO-AM, Des Moines in January. Thirty-four-year WHO, Des Moines morning personality Van Harden announced he’s retiring from the station on January 8, 2021, capping a 50-year radio career. In a public statement, iHeartMedia notes that during Van Harden’s time at WHO, he’s won five Marconi awards for his work as the host of the morning show and has been inducted along with co-host Bonnie Lucas into the Iowa Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Harden says, “I know people will ask why I am retiring. My answer is, after 50 years, why not? For years people have asked me if I ever think about retirement and I have told them, ‘Yes, at 2:45 weekday mornings.’ Getting up has been the biggest challenge of the job and it has gotten more difficult as time has gone on, but I wouldn’t trade any of those past mornings for anything. I want to deeply thank my past co-hosts and good friends, Patti Christensen, Connie Murad, and Bonnie Lucas, especially Bonnie, after putting in 25 years of her own, for being such fabulous on-air partners. I could make a huge list of incredible co-workers from the past 50 years that have made this an amazing ride. Besides the on-air shows it was a great honor to be the program director of WHO for 30 years and of KXNO from the day we put it on the air as a sports station. It has been a privilege to have hired and worked with so many talented people on both stations.”

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. In today’s report from TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian, he notes that news/talk stations in PPM markets have been remarkably consistent in their 6+ AQH share increases this year over last. Based on Nielsen Audio’s data, 64% of news/talk outlets in PPM markets were up August 2019 – August 2020. For the two previous surveys, growth was very similar as is evidenced by the 65% up from July 2019 – July 2020 and the 68% up from June 2019 – June 2020. Returning to the August data, 55% of news/talk stations were up from July 2020 to August 2020 with iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati (+2.3), WTAM, Cleveland (+2.0), and WISN, Milwaukee (+1.8) leading gainers. Joining WLW and WISN as #1-ranked stations in their respective markets in August were Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta and Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle. Mike Kinosian also provides cume data in this report and notes that 54% of news/talk stations in PPM markets showed improved cume from the July 2020 survey to August 2020 with Nexstar Media Group’s WGN, Chicago leading the gainers. See his complete report here.

Minnesota Public Radio Reporter Quits in Solidarity with Victims of Air Personality. According to a report by WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Radio news reporter Marianne Combs resigned her position with the public media company after her editors did not run her investigative piece about the actions of an unnamed air personality at sister triple A station KCMP, Minneapolis “The Current.” Combs tells WCCO-TV that she spent two months speaking to eight women who were “sexually manipulated and psychologically abused” by the staffer. Combs says that she was told that although editors found the behavior “creepy,” it did not rise to the level of illegality and was therefore not worthy of news coverage. MPR president Duchesne Drew told WCCO-TV that they are “blindsided” by her resignation and believed she was continuing to work on it but that he stands by his editors’ decisions. He also adds that editors discussed with Combs how to strengthen the story to allow it to “meet our standards.”

Jim Meyer to Retire from SiriusXM CEO Position. After seven years as chief executive officer of SiriusXM, James E. Meyer announces he intends to retire on December 31, 2020. Meyer was named CEO in April of 2013 after serving as interim CEO since the previous December. Under his watch, revenue has more than doubled to an expected $7.7 billion and the number of subscribers has grown to 34.3 million. SiriusXM says that current president of sales, marketing and operations Jennifer C. Witz will become CEO. Meyer will remain on the company’s board of directors and will serve as vice chairman. Board chair Gregory Maffei says, “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Jim for his outstanding service, helping to create the leader in audio entertainment in North America. During his tenure as CEO, SiriusXM has grown to become a diversified audio entertainment provider that is poised to reach more than 150 million people, the largest addressable digital audio audience in North America. We are a better company for his stewardship. We look forward to continuing to work with him on the board and to build on SiriusXM’s strong momentum.” At the same time, SiriusXM announces that David J. Frear will leave the EVP and chief financial officer position to pursue other opportunities and Sean S. Sullivan is appointed to that role. Sullivan has been serving in a similar capacity for AMC Networks since 2011.

Salem Radio Network News Presents September 29 Debate Coverage. When the first presidential debate takes place on Tuesday, September 29 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Salem Radio Network is presenting live coverage. SRN begins coverage with an hourlong “SRN Debate Preview” hosted by nationally syndicated SRN talk host Hugh Hewitt, joined by special guests and SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston. The debate itself runs with no commercial breaks from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm and will be followed by a “SRN Debate Wrap-Up” at 10:30 hosted by Hewitt. SRN VP/News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup says, “Excitement in anticipation of this first 2020 debate has been building for months. With the polls tightening and no teleprompters on stage, our debate coverage promises to highlight the first gloves-off, no-holds-barred encounter between these two candidates for the highest office in America.”

Hurley in the Morning Charity Passes $1 Million Mark. With last Friday’s 13th Annual “Hurley in the Morning” Charity Golf Tournament at The Harbor Pines Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey in the books, the charity founded by WPGG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley pushes the charity’s total funds raised since its inception past the $1 million mark. Hurley says, “The latest installment generated more than $50,000, which has enabled the ‘Hurley in the Morning’ Charity to surpass $1 million raised in our history. We are so grateful for the amazing support that we have received over the years. It’s also very gratifying that we have proven that you can safely and responsibly hold an outdoor event during the pandemic. The annual charity event was modified to respect social distancing and was made as contactless as is humanly possible.”

The Presidential Race, Western Wildfires/Climate Change Debate, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, PA Protests/BLM Movement, Facebook Whistleblower Memo, Iran Assassination Plot, and Hurricane Sally Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/14). The November presidential election; the wildfires raging in California, Oregon, and Washington and the debate over climate change and its effect on the wildfires; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the protests in Lancaster, Pennsylvania after police kill a knife-wielding man; a Facebook whistleblower’s memo about the company’s challenges dealing with voter manipulation; President Trump warns Iran after rumors of its intent to assassinate an American ambassador; and Hurricane Sally’s projected path into the Gulf Coast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Jim Richmond Named Director of Sales for Bonneville Seattle. Sales pro Jim Richmond is named director of sales for the Bonneville Seattle Media Group. Richmond was most recently general sales manager for Entercom San Francisco and assumes the role held by Cathy Cangiano prior to her promotion to SVP and market manager. She says, “I believe Jim Richmond’s experience, combined with his business acumen and strong leadership skills are well aligned to capitalize on opportunities that we have identified as integral to our success. In addition to his responsibilities leading the sales teams, he will be a key contributor to our Leadership Team and our constant efforts to align with Bonneville’s purpose.”

TALKERS News Notes. Broadcaster and journalist Rita Cosby is named the chair of the Global Service Institute at Long Island University.  In this role, Cosby will lead the Institute’s “game-changing and innovative educational initiatives to inspire a timely commitment toward volunteerism and elevate the importance and power of service. During this unprecedented moment with the economic devastation caused by the virus, the need for volunteers to assist drastically depleted nonprofit organizations has never been greater.” LIU president Dr. Kimberly R. Cline says, “The Global Service Institute established LIU as a premier destination for developing values-driven global citizens who will impact their communities. With her global experience exploring critical headlines and lifelong dedication to service, Rita Cosby is an exemplary leader who will elevate the Institute to even higher levels.”…..This week’s Westwood One blog examines a number of Nielsen case studies that indicate AM/FM radio ad campaigns lift TV viewership. The studies compare those who had been exposed to AM/FM radio ads for TV tune-in with people who had not heard the ads. The studies show that while on-network promos and paid TV buys reach heavy TV viewers, AM/FM radio TV tune-in campaigns reach medium and light TV viewers. In one case, the returning season of a scripted cable drama ran an AM/FM radio campaign that represented only 5% of the media plan but generated 20% of the total campaign impressions. 70% of the AM/FM radio impressions were from persons 18-54, while half of the paid TV and TV promo impressions were from persons 55+…..iHeartRadio and Treefort Media announce a new docuseries podcast titled, “DRAFTED,” that follows top college football players as they prepare to enter the NFL Draft. The program is produced in association with Klutch Sports Group and is narrated by Emmy-winning actor Keegan-Michael Key. He says, “I’m excited to be part of this series because it gives mega fans like myself intimate access and insight into the world of these incredible athletes. It’s really special to be able to hear everything they’re going through, and experience their nerves, excitement and tension leading up to one of the biggest events of their lives. I look forward to every moment.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. An internal memo from Entercom chief operating officer Susan Larkin reveals the company’s “hub-and-spoke” programming philosophy for its alternative and country radio stations. As a reduction-in-force for air talent and programmers takes place, we learn that Entercom is creating national and regional program hosts for certain dayparts and is realigning its programming management. For country, Tim Roberts is named format captain/VP of country programming with John Foxx and Kevin Callahan serving as regional vice presidents. Marci Braun, Justin Cole, and Scott Roddy are named regional brand managers. On air, Katie Neal is the national midday host and “Rob and Holly” are national night hosts. In the alternative format, Mike Kaplan is format captain/SVP of alternative programming with Matt Malone, Christine Malovetz, and Leslie Scott serving as regional vice presidents of programming. Regional brand managers are Bailey and Bryce Segall. Kevan Kenney is the national night host and regional on-air personalities are: “Cane and Corey” for mornings, “Church of Lazlo” in afternoons, and morning shows “Dave and Mahoney,” “Gregr,” and “Stryker and Klein.”…..Country radio personality Shawn Parr begins hosting the Camping World Concert Series “Taking the Highways Across America” tonight, featuring the legendary country group Alabama. Parr hosts the Key Networkssyndicated “Shawn Parr’s Across the Country” program. He’ll host the 10-week virtual concert series that will feature such country acts as Martina McBride, Chris Young, Ricky Skaggs and Steven Curtis Chapman, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady A, Brett Young, Little Big Town, and Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Parr says, “I am SO excited to team up with Camping World and host their virtual concert series, ‘Taking the Highways Across America!’ We are having a ball bringing it to all of our affiliates and fans ‘Across The Country!’ Plus, we are hitting the road for some NEW adventures in the Parr-V very soon.”…..Beasley Media Group announces that Charlie Maxx is promoted to production director and assistant program director at country WXTU-FM, Philadelphia. She also hosts the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show. Program director Mark Razz says, “Charlie has a depth of experience that will be so helpful in her expanded role her at 92.5XTU. I look forward to putting our heads together to move the station forward.” In addition, WXTU promotes Jennifer “JJ” Scordo to production staffer and weekend personality.