Monday Memo: Say It Shorter. In this week’s concise column, consultant Holland Cooke barely says ANYTHING, “and that’s the point.” Read it here.
The Presidential Race, Biden VP Choice Speculation, Vote-By-Mail Debate, and Stimulus Exec Orders Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend (8/8-9). The November presidential election, speculation over Joe Biden’s pending VP selection, the failure of Congress to arrive at a new stimulus package with President Trump responding by signing contestable executive orders to move the process along as well as the controversy over his ongoing allegation that voting by mail encourages voter fraud were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this weekend according to TALKERS research of the most talked about topics on issues-oriented news/talk radio. Other heavily discussed topics over the weekend included the school closing debate and COVID-19 stats and projections.
Pending Business: Talk to the Winners. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes about how radio sales professionals should have faith in the resilience of local, small business based on the premise that many WILL survive the COVID-19 era. He suggests that radio sellers seek out those whose innovation clearly has them on a winning track and talk directly to them, customizing campaigns that are in sync with their efforts. Read it here.
Update: WAMU-FM Sexual Harassment. As we reported here last week (TALKERS, 8/5), American University-owned public news/talk outlet WAMU-FM, Washington, DC is in a state of chaos over sexual harassment allegations. WAMU-owned publication DCist ran a Rachel Kurzius-written story detailing allegations of harassment and improper behavior by former WAMU-FM reporter Martin Di Caro. Numerous employees were asking for station general manager J.J. Yore to resign, something he said he was not prepared to do. That situation changed, however, late last week as the station’s six-year general manager has indeed stepped down. Vice president of people and external affairs/chief of staff Seth Grossman states, “American University thanks JJ for his years of service to WAMU; we wish him well as he pursues his next endeavor. We are announcing a series of critical steps designed to address issues in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, human resources, and management, as well as how matters of misconduct are handled at WAMU. These actions are a combination of immediate and longer-term steps to accelerate WAMU’s work to enhance culture and workplace. The changes will provide important support to the WAMU staff, who we thank for continuing to focus on producing award-winning journalism that the Washington, DC region relies on amid this period of change. We believe these actions will offer support for the entire WAMU team and provide a foundation for the station’s next chapter.” An interim general manager will be named in “the next four to six weeks.” In addition, a human resources employee relations consultant with “proven experience in improving organizational culture and creating inclusive workplaces” will be put in-place. Interim chief content officer Monna Kashfi becomes the permanent chief content officer, overseeing WAMU and DCist. WAMU’s former chief content officer, Andi McDaniel, left the station last month to join Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM, Chicago as president and chief executive officer; McDaniel begins those duties next month. As indicated in the The DCist piece, McDaniel was well aware of Di Caro’s behavior, having signed off on a “Level III Final Written Warning for Serious Misconduct” given to Di Caro after “almost two years” of complaints.
Coronavirus Affects Cumulus’ Q2 Numbers. Second quarter figures for Cumulus Media include a 47.8% year-to-year revenue decrease to $146 million. The company witnessed its net income transition from a gain of $42.9 million to a loss of $6.4 million and adjusted EBITDA dropping from $61.8 million to -$6.4 million. Despite the pandemic’s material impact on revenue, Cumulus Media president/chief executive officer Mary G. Berner explains, “The company generated over $90 million of cash in the quarter through quick and decisive expense actions, strong working capital management, and the completion of sale of land in Bethesda, Maryland. Ending the quarter with nearly $200 million of cash, we have entered into an agreement to monetize our tower portfolio for more than $210 million, proceeds which will further add to our liquidity and contribute to significant incremental debt paydown.” She adds, “Our demonstrated ability to rise to a challenge, strong liquidity position, and resilient balance sheet are critical assets as we operate through this uncertain environment. We believe we remain very well-positioned to drive long-term shareholder value through continued aggressive debt reduction and the execution of our growth initiatives.” Broadcast station revenue was down 51.6% to $114.2 million. Spot revenue was off 55.6% and network revenue declined by 42.7%. Meanwhile, digital revenue was up .7% to $20.3 million.
COVID-19 “Impacts” Townsquare Q2 Results. Commenting on selected results for the second quarter that ended June 30th, Townsquare Media chief executive officer Bill Wilson remarks that, as expected, the company’s “second quarter financial results were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA declined 34.5% and 93.1%, respectively, as compared to the prior year. Advertising net revenue throughout the quarter, however, “experienced sequential improvement,” Wilson reports. “Together with our Live Events, net revenue has experienced the brunt of the negative business impact.” To Wilson’s point, one second quarter highlight is that, compared to the second quarter of 2019, Live Events net revenue decreased 99.5%. Wilson observes that by the end of the second quarter, “Advertising net revenue had materially improved, from -42.1% in April to -29.6% in June and continued to show improvement through July and early-August.” Townsquare Interactive added approximately 900 net subscribers, ending the quarter with approximately 20,750 subscribers, with Wilson commenting, “Townsquare Interactive’s growth continued in the second quarter, with net revenue increasing 10.5%, at an Adjusted Operating Income margin in excess of 30%, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of 850 (or more) net subscriber additions. During this pandemic, the Townsquare Interactive team became a tremendous resource for their local clients by strengthening online presence and capabilities and powering their online communication strategy. Our thesis has always been, that Townsquare Interactive is a recession-resistant subscription business and will continue to grow its revenue and subscriber base throughout the year.” Wilson explains that Townsquare Media “enacted approximately $1.7 million of monthly fixed cost savings during the second quarter, in addition to the reduction of variable costs related to the decline in revenue, which led to total direct operating expenses declining 14.8%, compared to the prior year. In addition, we have reduced our planned capital expenditures, which declined 30% in the second quarter compared to the prior year. Our board of directors elected to cease paying our quarterly dividend moving forward. Even with all the challenges and unknowns during this pandemic, we have not had to alter our core strategy. Instead, the pandemic placed a spotlight on the need to double-down on executing our existing long term strategy. We believe our ‘Local First’ strategy, together with our talented team and diversified and differentiated product offering, ensures that Townsquare will emerge from this crisis well-positioned for the future. Although a very tough Q2, we believe our revenue, profit and cash flow results will be among the best in the radio – as well as in the local media – industry.”
Why Are “You” Voting? That’s the simple question iHeartMedia is putting forth to listeners, cultural influencers, athletes, and musicians. It’s in advance of the November election, of course, when – in addition to the presidential contest – Americans will be voting for 35 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representative seats. Soundbites start today (Monday, 8/10) and run until Election Day (11/3). President of iHeartMedia entertainment enterprises John Sykes states, “With voter turnout expected to hit record numbers, ‘Why I’m Voting’ presents a rare opportunity for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to have their voices heard by millions of their fellow Americans before we cast our votes.” Listeners can record/submit their own 20 second or less audio or video message. Meanwhile, also debuting today (8/10) and running through Election Day is iHeartMedia’s longer-form “Why I’m Voting” podcast, which will feature conversations with a wide-range of celebrities on why/how this year’s election will shape our future. The podcast will showcase personal stories behind why voting means so much for our nation. The “Why Are You Voting” series of soundbites will air on iHeartMedia’s 850+ broadcast radio stations in 160 markets, podcasts, social media platforms, and the iHeartRadio app.
Podcast Ad Spending to Surpass $1 Billion Next Year. That forecast further predicts that more than one in five digital radio ad dollars will go toward podcasts. By the end of this year, podcast ad spending in the United States will reach $782 million, up 10.4% from last year, giving it a 21% share of the US digital radio ad market. Spending is expected to jump nearly 45% next year to $1.13 billion. Insider Intelligence eMarketer forecasting director Shelleen Shum comments, “Growth in podcast advertising spend will be more resilient this year relative to digital radio advertising as a whole, which will see double-digit declines. The continued growth in podcast advertising is no surprise, as investments have made podcasts accessible to a wider audience. The news genre, a focus of many podcast advertisers, has performed well during the pandemic. While some ad campaigns were paused due to the uncertainty from COVID-19 lockdowns, we expect a rebound in Q3 and Q4. One key challenge in podcast advertising is the lack of uniformity in measurement. [The Interactive Advertising Bureau] has released a set of guidelines to establish a common set of ad metrics for podcasts, which should bring some standardization to the industry and give advertisers more confidence.” This year, 105.6 million people in the US will listen to podcasts, the first time podcast listening will surpass 100 million.
KYW Silences Familiar Sound. Owing to pandemic-related budget cuts, a number of well-known voices on spoken-word and music-intensive formats across the country have been eased off the air. A longtime fixture at Entercom Philadelphia’s KYW “News Radio 1060” is gone, but it had nothing to do with the bottom line or COVID-19 – and it isn’t a human. The station has eliminated the teletype sound effect that – for decades – has been played underneath its news broadcasts. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, KYW program director/brand manager Alex Silverman remarks to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “They stopped making the ribbons for the trusty teletype in 1986 and our supply finally ran out; so, old reliable is out of commission until further notice.” To that, co-owned WIP “Sports Radio 94” brand manager Spike Eskin mocks in a tweet, “Just excuses again from Alex Silverman. Are we to believe he couldn’t find a new one on Ebay, or simulate the sound somehow? Does he think we are fools?” On a more serious note, Silverman states, “As technology has evolved over the years, so has KYW. The sound of the station should reflect the modern, nimble, multi-platform news organization we’ve become.” KYW has recently updated its jingle and logo. Entercom’s other top ten market news and news-talk hybrids include: WCBS-AM and WINS, New York City; KNX, Los Angeles; WBBM-AM & WCFS-FM, Chicago; KCBS-AM, San Francisco; and KRLD-AM, Dallas.
Leadership Training Program Accepting 2021 Applications. Designed to prepare senior-level broadcasters to advance into ownership or executive positions, the NAB’s Broadcast Leadership Training (BLT) program is accepting applications through August 19 for next year’s session. BLT program founder and dean/ ShootingStar Broadcasting founder, president, chief executive officer Diane Sutter states, “As we transition to a hybrid online and in-person model, we look forward to expanding the reach of the Broadcast Leadership Training program. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we cultivate the next class of diverse industry leaders and equip them with the knowledge and training to advance their careers.” As it moves into its 21st year, this executive MBA-style program teaches the fundamentals of purchasing, owning, and operating radio and television stations to senior-level broadcast professionals. All education sessions planned through the end of 2020 will be held online, with the starting gathering to be held next month (9/24 – 25). Broadcast professionals from all areas of the industry, including general managers, sales managers and department heads, as well as regional and corporate executives, are encouraged to apply. Fellowship opportunities are available for women and people of color. The complete schedule will be made available in early-October.
TALKERS News Notes. Starting one week from today (Monday, 8/17) and lasting through next Thursday (8/20), ABC News Radio is set to cover this year’s Democratic National Convention and plans to do the same the following week (8/24 – 27) for the Republican National Convention. Aaron Katersky and Karen Travers will anchor; Alex Stone, Ryan Burrow, and Jim Ryan are slated to serve as reporters; and Steve Roberts joins for analysis. Multiple one-minute “Status Reports” will air each night, as will the network’s daily Brad Mielke-hosted podcast, “Start Here.” Meanwhile, each day during the conventions, the Karl & Klein-hosted podcast “Powerhouse Politics” will release special editions featuring interviews and analysis … Former iHeartMedia Jacksonville senior vice president of programming Tommy BoDean joins Cumulus Media as operations manager of its four-station Melbourne (Florida) cluster, which includes sports talk WLZR “1560 The Fan.” Cumulus Media regional vice president Pete DeSimone comments, “I am really excited Tommy is joining the Cumulus Melbourne team. He’s going to make an immediate impact – and at a time [when] programming and operational leadership are critical.” BoDean adds, “The world we live in is changing every minute; radio has not just an opportunity, but an obligation, to get plugged in and help. Now is the perfect time to step into a role that both challenges and excites me every day.” In addition to his OM duties for WLZR and classic rock WROK “95.9 The Rocket,” BoDean will be the day-to-day program director for CHR WAOA “107.1 A1A” and country WHKR “102.7 Nash FM.” He previously was operations manager for iHeartMedia Cincinnati and programmed Nashville CHR WNFN “Hot 106.7.” … Effective today (Monday, 8/10), Bustos Media Tucson’s KVOI “AM 1030 The Voice” adds “The Joe Walsh Show” to its weeknight (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm) lineup and shifts “Our American Stories with Lee Habeeb,” which had been in that slot, to 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm … Twenty-year Spokane television and radio journalist Teresa Lukens will return to Morgan Murphy Media Spokane’s KXLY-AM “920 News Now” next Monday (8/17) as morning drive co-host. After three years as a reporter on KXLY-TV’s “Good Morning Northwest,” Lukens transitioned to radio as morning host on co-owned KXLY-FM “Classy 99.9 FM” and then as news anchor on KXLY-AM. Lukens left KXLY-TV in 2010 and hosted “Health Matters” on Spokane public television outlet KSPS.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Every Friday this month, iHeartMedia San Antonio joins forces with San Antonio Metro Health for the “Friday Night Virtual Dance Party” (7:00 – 7:30 pm). Participating stations within the iHM cluster include adult contemporary KQXT “Q-101.9”; CHR KXXM “96.1 Now;” country KAJA “KJ-7″; and Spanish contemporary KZEP “104.5 Latino Hits.” According to iHeartMedia San Antonio senior vice president of programming Jason McCollim, “There is nothing like the power of music. [We] are excited to partner with our friends at San Antonio Metro Health for ‘Friday Night Virtual Dance Party’ [and] look forward to raising our community spirit during these challenging times – all while abiding by the state’s safety guidelines to fight the COVID-19 virus.” Mayor Ron Nirenberg notes, “We want to send an encouraging and positive message to San Antonio to keep doing the things that make our city great, but do them in a safe way so we can continue to stop the spread.” … A country music special hosted by four-time Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan is among several, three-hour ABC Audio Labor Day weekend specials. “Luke Bryan: Born Here Live Here Die Here” takes listeners through each song on Bryan’s new album, which has produced three #1 singles. “Labor Day Rock Salute: Frontline Edition – From Speakeasy” honors frontline workers who stepped up during COVID-19. Hosted by ABC Audio’s Matt Wolfe, the special features hits from artists including ZZ Top, Alice Cooper, and Stevie Nicks. Top rock artists will also share what they’ve been up to during lockdown. Meanwhile, the Aaron Katersky-hosted news special “How America Works Now” explores how people are coping through the pandemic. It questions what the future of American life and labor may look like, and puts a spotlight on those adapting to the new normal … “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” takes over 12:00 midnight – 5:00 am duties in Santa Rosa, California on Amaturo Sonoma Media Group-owned KFGY “Froggy 92.9 Today’s Country.” Alan comments, “Our show is excited to be a part of the ‘Froggy 92.9’ lineup. We already feel like part of the ‘Froggy’ family. I can’t wait to get to Sonoma for a visit to wine country.” Amaturo Sonoma Media Group vice president of programming and operations Jim Murphy notes, “Cody creates unique, multiplatform content that really resonates with country fans; we couldn’t be happier to welcome him to the ‘Froggy’ family. The station’s revised lineup includes: Amber & Tanner (5:00 am – 10:00 am); Jenn (10:00 am – 3:00 pm); Dano (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm); Lia (7:00 pm – 12:00 midnight); and “CMT After MidNite with Cody Alan” (12:00 midnight – 5:00 am) … Former four-year wakeup duo at Hubbard Broadcasting St. Louis’ WIL “New Country 92.3, Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway (“Bud & Broadway”), sign with Houston-based SuiteRadio for morning show syndication, gearing up for next month’s start (9/7). The show will be represented on a market exclusive basis by Colbert Media Group. Prior to exiting WIL this past May, “Bud & Broadway” worked in Tulsa and Dothan, Alabama.
Stunner: KGO’s Owens Transitions from Host to Commentator. At the conclusion of last Friday’s (1/12) program on Cumulus Media San Francisco’s news/talk KGO, Ronn Owens revealed the plug has been pulled on his 42-year “Ronn Owens Show” in favor of a daily, ten-minute “Ronn Owens Report,” which debuts tomorrow (Tuesday, 1/16) at 12:50 pm. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, “A test version included commentary on president [Donald] Trump’s vulgar reference to Haiti and African nations, as well as whether a work requirement should be imposed on able-bodied food stamp recipients.” Owens tells the paper that his “goal” with the weekday commentary “is to be a 2018 version of Paul Harvey and Andy Rooney.” Two years ago, Cumulus Media announced it would move Owens from KGO to co-owned news/talk KSFO, a decision that was reversed one month later. The most recent contract for the 72-year-old Owens expired in December; he reportedly didn’t expect it to be renewed at the same salary level. A 2015 National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, Owens apparently isn’t the only KGO on-air talent off the weekday schedule. On Facebook, 2:00 – 4:00 pm host Brian Copeland writes that his show has been scrubbed; Copeland states management would like him to remain with the station in some capacity. Although unconfirmed, KGO’s revised weekday on-air lineup is believed to be: Armstrong & Getty (5:00 am – 10:00 am); Ethan Bearman (10:00 am – 12:50 pm); Owens (12:50 pm – 1:00 pm); a simulcast from Los Angeles sibling KABC of Dr. Drew Pinsky and Mike Catherwood (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm); and Chip Franklin (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm).
Nashville’s “Zone” Expands Local Coverage. Changes extending local dayparts on Cumulus Media Nashville sports talk/Tennessee Titans flagship WGFX “104.5 The Zone” go into effect today (Monday, 1/15). Program director Brad Willis states that “The Zone” has “long been Nashville’s preeminent sports station. In an effort to devote more time to Nashville’s continually evolving sports landscape, we feel it is time that we are all local, all day long. I look forward to having our team cover the teams and sports that are important to Nashville nonstop from 6:00 am until 6:00 pm every weekday.” Hosts of the (now 10:00 am – 2:00 pm) “Midday 180” show Chad Withrow, Jonathan Hutton, and Paul Kuharsky have been signed to multi-year contracts and they state, “We are looking forward to loading up with even more great interviews with important people, giving more commentary on the local teams and the issues of the day. Our commitment remains the same: In and out of season, we will crush on a daily basis.” Meanwhile, Brent Dougherty, Mickey Ryan, and Dawn Davenport of the lengthened 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm “3HL” program add, “Nashville sports fans are the best in the country and we are excited about the opportunity to spend more time with them. During that time, we plan to continue to focus heavily on the sports and storylines that are most important to our listeners.” The Mark Howard, Kevin Ingram, and Blaine Bishop-hosted “Wake Up Zone” continues daily from 6:00 am -10:00 am.
“Whoa Nellie” – The Passing of Keith Jackson. If you ever watched a college football game on television, you knew the unmistakable voice and style of Keith Jackson and his trademark catch-phrase, “Whoa Nellie.” The legendary play-by-play man for the first season of ABC-TV’s “Monday Night Football” and at the microphone for a variety of other sports, 89-year-old Jackson died Friday (1/12) in Los Angeles. ABC parent Walt Disney Company chief executive Robert Iger succinctly states, “For generations of fans, Keith was college football.” While Jackson worked on ten Summer and Winter Olympics and on “ABC’s Wide World of Sports,” his resume includes radio, as well. The western Georgian native joined the Marines as a teenager, then attended Washington State University, where he received a degree in broadcast journalism in 1954. Jackson spent ten years at KOMO, Seattle in news, sports and production, before becoming sports director of ABC Radio West. He began broadcasting college football for ABC Sports in 1966. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named him “Sportscaster of the Year” five consecutive times (1972 to 1976). Working a largely regional schedule close to his Southern California home, Jackson retired after broadcasting the 2006 Rose Bowl game.
Terry Takes Commentary to KKNT. Longtime Phoenix on-air personality Terry Gilberg joins Salem Media Group news/talk KKNT “960 The Patriot” in the Valley of the Sun to do “Terry’s Take.” According to KKNT general manager Jim Ryan, “Terry Gilberg delivers compelling commentary, capsulized in a nutshell – a dose of reality and common sense delivered daily with reason and passion. She covers what you are thinking and what you are feeling. It is timely talk and we are happy to have her points of view.” Some of Gilberg’s favorite subjects include media bias; housing and education in America; socialized medicine; and national security. In addition to her new duties at “The Patriot,” journalist-turned-talk host Gilberg continues hosting/producing Radio America’s two-hour “Think! America,” which airs in 53 markets. Prior to doing talk radio, Gilberg was a television news anchor.
News-Gazette Media Continues U.I. Pact. The renewed partnership – that has spanned more than three decades – keeps University of Illinois athletics on News-Gazette Media Champaign (Illinois) WDWS “News Talk 1400” and co-owned adult contemporary WHMS “Lite Rock 97.5.” News-Gazette Media chief executive office and publisher John Reed remarks, “We are proud to continue our long-standing partnership with UI Athletics and Fighting Illini Sports Properties. The fast-paced world of college athletics is a part of our business where we have consistently invested in top-tier talent for our organization. I am personally thrilled with the opportunity to continue working with two entities who share the same philosophy. The future looks bright for ‘The Fighting Illini,’ and we very much look forward to being a part of it.” According to Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman, “We are pleased to continue our long-time relationship with News-Gazette Media and WDWS and WHMS. Fighting Illini fans in the Champaign-Urbana area have known for decades that those stations are the radio homes to our games; this new agreement will increase the presence of our programs even more.” Over 150 live events a year will be aired, including football; men’s and women’s basketball; baseball; and women’s volleyball. Football and men’s basketball will be simulcast on the two stations, while baseball, women’s volleyball, and select softball games will be carried on WDWS.
TALKERS News Notes. In response to a high volume of requests, the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) extends the call for entries for the 43rd annual Gracie Awards to next Thursday (1/25) at 11:59 pm (ET). Alliance for Women in Media Foundation chair Sarah Foss states, “Now, more than ever, we need to celebrate women for their exceptional work and contributions, especially in the media industry.” The Gracies recognize programming created by, for, and about women in radio, television, cable and interactive media. Honorees are selected in national, local, and student markets, including both commercial and non-commercial outlets. Qualified judges are chosen by AWMF leadership after meeting specific published criteria ….. San Diego sports talk host, television sports anchor/weathercaster C.S. Keys died Saturday (1/13) in La Mesa. Most recently, Keys hosted a weekend show for Interamericana de Radio sports talk XEPRS-AM “The Mighty 1090,” San Diego. The station’s program director, Mike Shepard, writes, “All of us at ‘The Mighty 1090’ are stunned and saddened by the untimely passing of our teammate, C.S. Keys. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his fans, and the San Diego sports community at this difficult time.” According to La Mesa police, the death was not suspicious, but it was not yet clear how Keys died. Keys previously was a weathercaster at San Diego television outlet KUSI-TV; sports anchor at cross-town XETV-TV; and worked on-air at KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh and WTVD, Raleigh. He was 54 years old and is survived by two sons and a daughter … Those expecting to hear Marc “Beetle” Bertrand on Saturday’s (1/13) AFC Divisional playoff pre-game show prior to the New England Patriots – Tennessee Titans showdown, heard Chris Gasper instead. “Beetle” couldn’t fulfill his duties on Entercom-owned Patriots flagship WBZ-FM “The Sports Hub,” but had a legitimate reason that was nearly tragic. On Saturday at 6:37 pm (ET), he posted on Facebook, “I am lucky to be alive. I was involved in a motor vehicle crash in Norwood [Massachusetts] on my way to [Gillette Stadium in] Foxboro. While driving down the road, another car exited a parking lot on a straight line at full speed and struck the passenger side of my Dodge Ram. I only saw the car for a split second before going for a [rollercoaster] ride when my truck rolled and eventually came to a stop on its side. For reasons I cannot explain, I am relatively okay. I did sustain injuries but I have already been released from the hospital. I cannot express in words how thankful I am for the Norwood fire/EMS and police departments. They were on the scene in what seemed like seconds. I was trapped in the truck and NFD worked quickly to free me with the jaws of life. They do amazing work like this every single day. Thank you to all my ‘Sports Hub’ colleagues for covering for me, especially Chris Gasper who hosted pre-game on very short notice. I hope I’m talking to everybody again on the radio this week. Go Pats! Beetle.” As for Saturday’s game, the Patriots defeated the Titans by three touchdowns, 35-14 ….. WOWO, Fort Wayne, and WBAT, Marion (Indiana) talk show host and current president of internet talk station Indiana Talks, Gary Snyder, files paperwork to run for the Democratic nomination for the State Senate in Indiana’s 17th district. Snyder ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a county council seat in the November 2008 general election, months after he lost the May 2008 primary for a state representative seat in which he ran as a Republican. He lost a bid for county clerk in 2010 as a Republican.
Hawaii False Alarm “Totally Unacceptable.” What proved to be an incorrect alert sounded on hundreds of thousands of cellphones across Hawaii this past Saturday (1/13), warning residents to seek shelter because of an inbound ballistic missile threat. In a statement issued yesterday (Sunday, 1/14) regarding that incident, FCC chairman Ajit Pai notes, “The false emergency alert sent in Hawaii was absolutely unacceptable. It caused a wave of panic across the state – worsened by the 38-minute delay before a correction alert was issued. Based on the information we have collected so far, it appears that the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert.” The erroneous alert was reportedly caused by Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi “pushing the wrong button.” Miyagi took responsibility for the mistake, stating the error happened during a shift change around 8:00 am. Pai said officials at all levels needed to identify vulnerabilities, and that the FCC would look into steps “to prevent a similar incident.” Working with the FCC to investigate the issue, Democratic Senator Brian Schatz remarks, “This system failed miserably. We need to improve it and get it right.” According to a CBS News report, Miyagi – who has been with the agency for ten years – was re-assigned within the emergency operations center.
Remembering Lisa McKay. After a brief battle with cancer, Curtis Media Group vice president of radio/program director of Raleigh’s WQDR “94.7 – Today’s Best Country” Lisa McKay (Blake) passed away peacefully yesterday (1/14) morning. Curtis Media Group President/COO Trip Savery notes, “It is with very heavy hearts that we share the news of Lisa’s passing. She had a tremendous and positive impact on so many people’s lives and careers, and will be greatly missed by all of us. Please send your love, support, and prayers to Lisa and her family.” Word of McKay’s death comes just two days after it was announced she would be taking an indefinite leave of absence, owing to medical reasons. In what proved to be her last message, McKay remarked, “I am grateful beyond belief for the opportunity given to me by Curtis Media Group; I know this team will continue to excel.” Scores and scores of tributes already populate McKay’s Facebook page, with virtually all conveying the same sentiment of a remarkably talented, caring programmer. Distinguished Cleveland and Akron-area program director Sue Wilson (Cordle) vice president of operations for the Rubber City Radio Group, reflects, “I admired her so much, not only as a tremendous programmer but as a lovely person. I had only been at WQMX [Akron] a short while and met her on an industry trip. There were very few women program directors in [the] country [format]; I was so impressed by her knowledge and talent. I connected with her then and followed her continued success. Our industry lost an incredible talent and our country music family will miss her so much. Things like this put life in perspective. How precious it is and that we have no time to waste. Deepest sympathy to her family and friends and to all of us who will mourn her loss.” Operations manager of SummitMedia Richmond Mel Chase laments, “My heart is in a million pieces right now. When Lisa McKay took someone under her wing, you knew you were in a special place. I wouldn’t have a career in radio without her love and nurturing. Lisa saw something in me when I was an intern that I never saw and she made sure I worked hard to make radio my career – even hiring me for my first job. She was my constant reminder that a leader doesn’t bark orders, they dive in, get their hands dirty and share the work with the team. She’s the absolute best, no one is on her level. Lisa changed my whole world and I will forever be indebted to her for everything I have because of her patience, kindness and love.” The program director of iHeartMedia Boston urban AC WKAF, Chris Malone, states, “Lisa played a big role in my career, I’d go as far to say I’d still be a kid in my hometown working to make ends meet until she came along. Lisa opened the door for me in Raleigh and graciously held my hand through my first ‘on the road PD gig.’ Her kindness and warmth could be felt from the moment I met her. On my interview, she said, ‘Here take my car while I’m on air and get to know the town.’ At age 24, I thought who would say this? That’s just how she treated those who were fortunate enough to know her. It’s a badge of honor to have known Lisa, work for her, and learn from one of the brightest, creative, [tenacious] programmers in the business. So many good memories, generous gifts, and valuable lessons that I’ll hold on to forever.” Veteran programmer Chris Shebel remarks, “We were competitors during my time in Raleigh. Lisa is a first-class programmer who built a great station and genuinely cared about the country community and the ‘Triangle.’ Condolences to her family and colleagues. I’m sure there is much sadness today, but she will be remembered for many great things.” According to Kevin Kolbie, “A few months ago, I got the opportunity to be back on the radio at WQDR. Lisa was the one who took the chance on me. Over the years, Lisa and I went from clients to friends and finally to co-workers. After my first air-shift, I asked her if she had any advice. She smiled and said, ‘Just have fun.’ Even as I type the words, it’s still hard to comprehend [that she has died].” Recently-arrived to do mornings at Curtis Media Group adult hits WBBB, Morgan Thomas comments, “RIP, my sweet friend. To work with you again was a major reason I came back to Raleigh. I am just so grateful you are no longer in pain. ‘Fly away my sweet bird over the land.’” McKay-programmed WQDR was the Country Music Association (CMA) large market “Station of the Year” in 2017.
PPM Analysis: December 2017’s Ups & Downs. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a December 2017 ratings overview “Extra” as he examines the impact made by stations that transitioned to all-Christmas music. See which formats benefitted the most this sweep and which were negatively impacted. In addition to scoring honors for largest (6+) November 2017 – December 2017 improvement (+6.6), Bonneville Salt Lake City adult contemporary KSFI boasts the largest 6+-share of any station in the 48 PPM-markets (13.6). Approximately half of the adult contemporary properties that improve by at least one full-share (November 2017 – December 2017, 6+) wind up finishing first. There are market-by-market breakouts, as well as a comparison chart of November 2017 versus December 2017 market ranks. See Mike Kinosian’s extensive report here.
SBS, Grupo Radio Centro Interference Lawsuit Resolved. An agreement has been reached to settle a long-standing lawsuit involving Spanish Broadcasting System and Grupo Radio Centro. Nearly two years ago, SBS filed a multi-million-dollar grievance, alleging tortious interference and unfair competition when Grupo hired air personality Martin Romero Hernandez (“El Raton”) from SBS Los Angeles regional Mexican KLAX “97.9 La Raza.” Hernandez left “La Raza” in January 2016 to join cross-town competitor – Grupo’s KXOS “Radio Centro 93.9.” SBS claimed Grupo attracted Hernandez by recruiting and soliciting his entire “La Raza” morning team to move with him to “Radio Centro,” despite SBS having him under contract through 2020 and having matched the GRC offer. Spanish Broadcasting System general counsel Richard Lara comments, “We are extremely pleased to have amicably resolved the matter. As has always been its practice, SBS will not hesitate to take legal action when necessary to defend its contractual rights and business interests.” The settlement is confidential; terms cannot be disclosed.
FLR Names Mike Kankelfritz PD/Afternoon Driver. After ending a nearly six-year run in November as morning show co-host on Educational Media Foundation Indianapolis contemporary Christian WKLU “Positive and Encouraging K-Love,” Mike Kankelfritz joins Tucson-based Family Life Radio as program director and afternoon drive talent. FLR’s chief broadcast engagement officer Sally Barton comments, “Mike’s professional and personal reputation testifies to his faithful love and care for God’s people. We see God’s timing in the journey that brought Mike and his family to us, and we’re eager to see him use his extensive experience and creativity to share the message of hope in Christ.” Kankelfritz adds, “The Family Life Radio team felt like family from the minute I walked in the door. When I learned that the backbone of this network came from Dr. Randy Carlson’s vision of intentional living, I realized that his principles were already a part of my DNA. I am so excited to help more people connect to God in a deeper way through this amazing ministry of Family Life Radio.” Listener-supported Family Life Radio has approximately 40 affiliates. Prior to joining WKLU in 2011, Seattle native and John Brown University graduate Kankelfritz spent six years at Houston contemporary Christian KSBJ and three years at KXOJ, Tulsa.
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. The producer of the 5:30 am – 10:00 am “Mo! Show” on Hubbard Phoenix alternative KDKB “Alt AZ 93.3” – Dayton Banas – fills the station’s promotions director opening ….. Five-year KOLA, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario morning co-host Irma Blanco steps down from the Anaheim Broadcasting classic hits-oldies outlet to spend more time with her family. Blanco and co-host Jesse Duran made the announcement on-air last Friday (1/12) ….. Starting tomorrow (Tuesday, 1/16), “Stacey & Jonah” take over afternoon drive duties on Hubbard Radio St. Louis’ WIL “New Country 92.3.” For the last six years, Stacey K Boyer & Jonah Griss-Bush did mornings on KHTH “Hot 101.7,” Santa Rosa (California), an Amaturo Sonoma Media Group CHR outlet that Boyer programmed. WIL program director Scott Roddy comments, “While most radio companies are reducing local talent, Hubbard is adding to our stable of show hosts. Stacey and Jonah’s charm, wit and humor make them the perfect companion while sitting in traffic on Highway 40 during the drive home.” Stacey & Jonah add, “We are so excited to join the Hubbard family and ‘New Country 92.3.’ It is an honor to join a company that believes in people and talent.” ….. Following eight years with Bonneville Sacramento hot AC KZZO “Now 100.5,” assistant program director/music director Sonia Jimenez takes on music director responsibilities for co-owned KNCI “New Country 105.1.” Bonneville Sacramento vice president of programming Chad Rufer states, “Sonia is a true pro – one of the best out there.” ….. Columbus alternative WWCD “CD-102.5” program director and “The Stash” host Mase Brazelle replaces afternoon driver Lesley James, who left the station approximately two weeks ago ….. Songwriter/pianist Jim Brickman adds four affiliates for his four-hour lifestyle/music/interviews program, which features co-hosts “Brynne” and “Bob.” New to the show are WWFW “Sunny 103.9,” Fort Wayne (Indiana); WZIM “Magic 99.5,” Peoria (Illinois); WNCV “Coast 93.3,” Fort Walton Beach (Florida); and KMWX “Mix 92.5,” Abilene (Texas).
Never Be The Same. After a performance on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” to mark the release of her debut solo album (“Camila,” which includes the single “Never Be The Same”), singer Camila Cabello (left) chats with ABC Radio’s Andrea Dresdale.
Shane Succumbs to Cancer. Chief executive officer of Houston-based Shane Media Services, and publisher of the music magazine Best in Texas – Ed Shane – has lost his battle against colon cancer. Shane and his wife/business partner/former country programmer (KILT, Houston, WIL, St. Louis) Pam Shane revealed his diagnosis on social media less than four weeks ago (2/24). In that posting, Pam Shane noted, “This will be an interruption for Ed and me during the next few months. Shane Media clients are aware of this, and know that I will be keeping their projects moving forward. We appreciate the support from friends and colleagues at this difficult time.” Outpouring of sympathy and exceptionally kind comments permeated social media. For example, renowned sports broadcaster (Boston Red Sox radio play-by-play, among others) Jerry Trupiano declares Shane was, “a true giant in the industry and one of the best people I ever worked with.” Among the many others “heartbroken” to hear the news of Shane’s passing is CBS Radio country KFRG “K-Frog,” Riverside on-air talent Heather Froglear, who comments, “We were so fortunate to have [him] on our team for many years. I will be forever grateful for [his] guidance on the air. He always encouraged this young gal just starting in country radio. I considered [him] a mentor – but mostly a friend. My heart goes out to Pam and the rest of Ed’s friends and family. You will be missed – terribly.” Longtime group program director Frank Bell recollects that during his tenure at Keymarket/Sinclair, “Ed Shane helped us launch many great country stations, including KFRG; WGGY, Wilkes Barre-Scranton; and WOGY, Memphis. His handiwork in news-talk helped shape the sound of WWL, New Orleans; WBEN, Buffalo; and WLAC-AM, Nashville. Ed’s clarity of thought made him a welcome addition to every conference call and strategic planning meeting. He was one of those rare consultants who ‘talked the talk’ and ‘walked the walk.’ In Texas terms, he wore a big hat and had lots of cattle. Thoughts and prayers today go out to his life and business partner, Pam, and that talented group of Shane Media programmers, both past and present.” Distinguished programmer Ed Scarborough (Lieblick) declares, “We have lost a true ‘gentle’ man. Condolences to Pam and Ed’s family, and to Ed’s extended family. He touched many lives and leaves a wonderful legacy.” According to Brent Clanton, “Ed gave me my first job in Radio at Paul Taft‘s KODA, Houston and he taught me so much more than the business. I was privileged to work with him on two [Houston] start-ups, KIKK-AM ‘Business Radio 650’ with the equally-legendary Dickie Rosenfeld, and more recently, the launch of Radio One‘s ‘News 92 FM’ [KROI]. Ed was a gentleman, a perfectionist, and was always thinking ahead on ways to make a radio station’s product better. He made me a better broadcaster, and planted in me an appreciation of how to bring up the next generation of radio professionals.” Intersat‘s manager of media product strategy (and former programmer) Chuck Dickemann comments, “Ed’s influence on me and my career went far beyond broadcast and radio. His support, confidence, and mentorship permeated everything I did. Beyond that, he was a friend – a true friend.” Programmer John Roberts mentions that, “Ed was a pro’s pro for sure, but more importantly, he was simply a great guy. Plenty of people in radio, including me, owe significant career steps to Ed & Pam’s generous advice and help. Stories about change in our business, real or perceived, seem to hit us between the eyes daily. The idea of consultant Ed Shane not being around is one legit ‘change’ I wish we did not have to face.” Mardit Media Consulting president Barry Mardit notes that Shane was a “familiar face at CRS. He always greeted me with a warm smile and a hearty handshake. I always looked forward to our brief chats as well as his in-depth presentations. The consummate professional and true champion who so believed in the power of radio. Ed was a vast storehouse of the knowledge and expertise needed to harness and unleash its full potential. Our industry has lost a giant and those who have known Ed have lost a giant of a friend.” SeniorNet Dallas president Dan Halyburton states, “Ed Shane was a great radio man and a good friend. Ed played an important role in the efforts at KPLX, Dallas in the 1990s to fight one of the toughest country battles ever. His knowledge and commitment to winning were unequaled. Ed always had such energy and presence.” Country consultant Joel Raab notes, “Ed Shane was a great guy and solid professional. He was always generous with his thoughts and advice. He gave me lots of encouragement – even though we were competitors. For that I will always be grateful.” Ron Parker recalls that his “very first radio job was at WPLO-FM, Atlanta and Ed was the operations manager of the station for Plough – thoughts and prayers to Pam and the Shane family.” Ed Shane – who founded Shane Media in 1977 – entered hospice care early this past week. He previously was station manager of Houston’s KRBE and programmed talk KTRH in that market. He also was the former program director of KKDJ, Los Angeles (now iHeartMedia CHR KIIS), as well as a number of other major market stations.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Blessed with an enduring ability to captivate a broad base demographic with droll, clever, sometimes-corny witticisms/puns that much sooner rather than later made you laugh, Gary Owens is being fondly remembered by those whose lives he touched by his character and one-of-a-kind classiness.
Even at the zenith of his popularity, Owens had an unrivaled flair to make anyone and everyone with whom he came in contact feel as though he or she were a genuinely important friend of his.
Dignity with which Owens carried himself make those having the privilege to work behind a microphone exude intense pride in saying they are in the same profession.