Pending Business: One Year Later. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa recognizes the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and notes that, while the radio sales climate is nowhere near where it was pre-pandemic, “the uphill process of slowly rebuilding an economy is emerging and it depends heavily on a foundation of sellers… you can feel the confidence of target business categories coming back as vaccines and mandated safety standards become more and more mainstream.” Read his column here.
Monday Memo: Lennon, McCartney, Marbourg. “Non-music stations – particularly AMs –are at a fork in the road,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons. In this week’s column, he explains why “ambiguity is your enemy.” Read it here.
Salem Media Group Names Shaun Thompson WIND-AM, Chicago PM Drive Host. Weekend talk host Shaun Thompson is being promoted to the afternoon drive slot at Salem Media Group’s news/talk WIND, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer.” Thompson takes over the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm show today (3/22) from Steve Cortes, who is leaving the station to pursue a new national television project. Thompson has been serving as a weekend and fill-in host on the station since 2016. He most recently filled in for Cortes from July through November of 2020 when Cortes took a hiatus to work on the re-election campaign of Donald Trump. Salem regional VP and general manager Jeff Reisman says, “It’s rare in radio to have transition as smooth as this one. Shaun Thompson has developed such a deep bond with our listeners because he was one of them before becoming a talk show host. He knows this city and this audience and what they care about. His passion and personality make him a unique talent. We’re excited to have him join the lineup as a full-time host.” Thompson says, “Twelve years ago, I made my first phone call to a talk radio station as a listener. Five years ago, I had the opportunity to host my first show on AM 560. During that time, I’ve come to appreciate this format and the listeners who spend time with us every day. I look forward to providing my perspective each afternoon and engaging with the audience. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity. I’m also thankful for Steve Cortes and his friendship. He’s made it so easy for me to slide into this role as he’s prepared to leave. I look forward to having him on the show as a regular guest.”
WPHT Supports Liberty USO Via Radiothon. WPHT, Philadelphia held its fourth annual USO Radiothon on Friday (3/19) between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm to raise awareness and funds for the USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. From the time a service member enlists, the USO is by their side until the day they transition back to the community. Through the USO Radiothon, WPHT brought many of the untold stories about the good work done by the Liberty USO to its listeners and raised awareness of the amazing effect that this charity has on active duty National Guard and reserve military personnel and their families. Co-hosted by WPHT morning host Rich Zeoli and mid-morning host Dom Giordano, the event raised thousands of dollars for the worthy cause. This year to aid the fundraising, Dom Giordano reached into his charity bag of tricks and called upon some national celebrities to each jot off a quick autographed doodle and send it to him be bid upon by listeners. Giordano tells TALKERS, “We had Bill O’Reilly, Brad Thor, Geraldo Rivera, Mike Rowe, Herschel Walker, Lee Greenwood, and Jesse Watters. Nelson Perez, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, even contributed one. The doodles also provided a lot of fun during the broadcast and a listener even bid $300 for my wife’s doodle of me.”
Entercom Launches ‘The Bet 105.9’ in Chicago. A new, sports-betting focused radio station is hitting the air in Chicago as Entercom unveils “The Bet 105.9” on the HD2 channel of WCFS-FM. The station is a “BetQL Audio Network” and CBS Sports Radio affiliate and programs airing on the signal include: “BetQL Daily” with Joe Ostrowski and Ross Tucker, “You Better You Bet” with Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley, CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney,” “The DA Show” and “Reiter Than You.” Entercom regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson says, “Since legalization in 2019, sports betting has exploded in the state of Illinois and we’re delighted to enter the arena of this rapidly growing landscape to deliver insightful content to our listeners with the launch of this new station. The station will serve as the home for several favorites from the BetQL Audio Network and CBS Sports Radio Network, giving listeners a wide array of expert analysis.”
iHeartMedia Reveals New Downtown Cleveland Facilities. The nine Cleveland radio brands operated by iHeartMedia will have a new home by the end of the year. The company is moving to Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland and it says the 10-year agreement with K&D Group provides space for the stations’ studios along with the company’s sales, marketing, digital and Total Traffic operation in a new, state-of-the-art street level facility. iHeartMedia Cleveland president Keith Hotchkiss says, “We are thrilled to return our broadcast and digital operations to the heart of our city. Connecting our influencers, marquee talent, and operation staff with the downtown business district will further drive the passion to serve the community we all call home.” New office features will include five conference rooms, 11 studios featuring cutting-edge technology, eight service booths for news, traffic, and podcast creation, and phone audio sound via Sound+. A marquee broadcast studio and mixed-use podcast content creation room both face street level on Euclid Avenue. Studio designs are by Beneville Studios and AUX1 design.
Tom Hamilton Named Market Manager for Curtis Media’s North Carolina Sports Talk Trio. Radio management pro Tom Hamilton is returning to Curtis Media Group as the new market manager for the sports talk trio “Hub Sports” WSJS-AM, WMFR-AM, and WPCM-AM in the Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point market. Hamilton previously served as GM of WSJS and WMFR with Curtis Media Group from 2007 until 2011. Curtis president and COO Trip Savery comments, “We are very pleased to welcome Tom back to Curtis Media Group. He has enjoyed much success in the Triad for many years, and we look forward to Tom leading our efforts with WSJS Sports.”
Jerry Donadio to Lead Sales at ‘The Mightier 1090’ in San Diego. The Times of San Diego reports that San Diego sports talk outlet XEPRS “The Mightier 1090” names sales pro Jerry Donadio vice president of sales and marketing. Station operator Bill Hagen tells the paper that Donadio will be responsible for building revenue growth for “The Mightier 1090.” Donadio tells the Times, “This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I now have the opportunity to return to 1090 and build my own sales team. Prior in my career, I’ve always been in media sales with an existing infrastructure. I’m really excited to be part of The Mightier 1090’s renaissance.” Donadio was most recently serving with KFMB-AM and KFMB-FM as an account executive from 2017 to 2020.
COVID-19, Spring Break, Asian Protests, Border Crisis, Cuomo Troubles, Trump Social Media Platform, Chauvin Trial, and Deshaun Watson Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID cases in the U.S., concern about variants and the rollout of vaccines; the chaos in Florida as the beach towns are inundated with spring break revelers; protests in the Asian community over the shooting deaths of six Asian women in the Atlanta area; the crisis of young migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; the allegations of sexual misconduct by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the news that Donald Trump will launch a new social media platform within the next few months; the ongoing jury selection in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; and the allegations of sexual harassment against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
COMING THIS WEEKEND: Independence Day Weekend Edition of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, will be posted tomorrow (Friday) afternoon at 3:00 pm ET. This new episode titled “Self-Evident!” will look back at this past week of June 29-July 3, 2020 in addition to paying tribute to the founding of America. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media Group; Jennifer Horn, talk show host, Salem Media Group / VP, CRN Digital Talk Radio; Matthew B. Harrison, law professor, Western New England University / VP Goodphone Communications; Lincoln Ware, talk show host WDBZ, Cincinnati; Dan Yorke, talk show host, WPRO, Providence; Doug Stephan, talk show host, “DJV Show” / talk show host, “American Family Farmer.” This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode (posted Friday 7/3 at 3:00 pm ET), please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
LiveXLive Closes on PodcastOne Acquisition. The live stream and on-demand platform LiveXLive Media, Inc announces it has closed on its acquisition of PodcastOne. LiveXLive says in a press release, “PodcastOne, which recorded revenue of $27.5 million in calendar 2019, will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of LiveXLive. The acquisition is expected to be accretive and will strengthen LiveXLive’s balance sheet as well as diversifying its business model with a significant advertising component.” PodcastOne’s library includes more than 300 podcasts, including: “The Adam Carolla Show”, “The Big Podcast with Shaquille O’Neal,” A&E’s “Cold Case Files,” “Hotboxin with Mike Tyson,” and more. PodcastOne founder and executive chairman Norm Pattiz joins LiveXLive as a significant shareholder and remains executive chairman. Under the terms of the acquisition, LiveXLive acquired 100% of the equity interests of Courtside Group, Inc., the owner and operator of PodcastOne, and issued to stockholders of PodcastOne approximately 5.36 million restricted shares of LiveXLive’s common stock, which are subject to a 12-month lock-up period and certain trading restrictions thereafter.
TALKERS News Notes. Baton Rouge alt-weekly The Advocate reports that Guaranty Broadcasting’s sports talk KNXX-FM “104.5 ESPN” shuffles its programming lineup. Writer Kyle Whitfield says the station breaks up the “Sports Today” duo of Charles Hanagriff and Jimmy Ott with Hanagriff being partnered with former LSU running back Jacob Hester for the new 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm “Hangin’ with Hester and Hanny” show and Ott starting his own “Gametime” program airing from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm…..FOX News announces that after an independent investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace, it has fired “America’s Newsroom” co-anchor Ed Henry. The company sent a memo to staffers written by FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and president and executive editor Jay Wallace explaining Henry’s departure. Henry’s attorney, Catherine Foti, issued a public statement that Henry denies the allegations and “is confident that he will be vindicated after a full hearing in an appropriate forum.”…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that radio producer Carl Amari’s golden age of radio programming is moving from Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM to Salem Media Group’s crosstown WIND-AM. WGN recently announced it is dropping the weekend overnight “WGN Radio Theatre” program. Now, the syndicated “Hollywood 360” – co-hosted by Amari and Lisa Wolf – will air from 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight on WIND-AM. Salem Chicago RVP and general manager Jeff Reisman says, “We are excited to have ‘Hollywood 360’ and Carl Amari back on AM 560. Carl expertly weaves together a unique mix of content that has continued to attract and entertain listeners for years, and we look forward to welcoming them back.”…..This might fall into the “at least they spelled our name right” category. Daily Herald columnist Jim O’Donnell writes about the state and future of ESPN’s WMPV, Chicago “ESPN 1000” – being operated by Good Karma Brands under the leadership of general manager Mike Thomas. O’Donnell is clearly not impressed with sports talk in Chicago but gives Thomas – who arrived in his home state back in January after leading the programming at Entercom’s WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” – the opportunity to talk up the changes taking place at WMVP.
‘Mightier 1090’ in San Diego to Use SportsGrid Tech Platform. When the new iteration of talk programming takes to the airwaves of San Diego on XEPRS as “The Mightier 1090” sometime this summer, SportsGrid’s cloud-based automation and live production tools will be used by the station. SportsGrid says its production services will stream the “Mightier 1090” audio feed through a low-latency IP connection from the cloud to the station’s transmitter. Marketing executive Bill Hagen is leading operations of the soon-to-debut station. He says, “I’ve listened to the people and the dream of bringing ‘The Mighty 1090 AM’ back to Southern California has now become a reality. The legendary tradition is back in a Mightier fashion, allowing for carefully thought out, desired programming to once again serve the Southern California region.”
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections/Mask Controversy, Seattle CHOP Ends, Policing in America, Confederate & Colonial-Era Monuments Issue, Russia-Taliban Bounty Report, Facebook Advertiser Boycott, Court Strikes Trump Asylum Order and Vacate Mary Trump Book Restraint, and Status of Sports Leagues Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/1). The rise in COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future outbreaks tied with the controversy over the wearing of masks to diminish transmission; the Seattle police clear the CHOP in the aftermath of two killings in the area; the criticism of policing in the U.S.; the movement to remove Confederate and Colonial-era monuments; the report that Russia has been offering bounties to Taliban fighters for killing U.S. servicemen; Facebook deals with an advertiser boycott over its handling of “hate speech” and “misinformation”; a court strikes down the Trump administration’s order denying asylum requests from people from Latin American nations and a court vacates the restraint on Mary Trump’s book; and the status of American sports leagues 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. New York hip hop outlet WWPR “Power 105.1” is presenting “A Celebration of Pop Smoke’s Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon Album Release” starting at midnight tonight (7/3). iHeartMedia’s “Power 105.1” will celebrate the life and works of Pop Smoke by playing songs from Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon at the top of every hour, plus exclusive Pop Smoke interviews with Power 105.1’s Angie Martinez, behind-the-scene photos and performances from Power 105.1’s POWERHOUSE available at Power1051’s website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as check-ins from 50 Cent, Steven Victor, Lil Tjay, Fivio Foreign, The Breakfast Club and more…..The weekend country radio show “B-Dub Radio Saturday Night” debuts Saturday (7/4) in partnership with its syndication development partner, Skyview Networks. Host Bryan “B-Dub” Washington is throwing a Fourth of July party featuring country radio’s superstar duo LoCash as a special guest to celebrate the show’s re-launch with listeners across the country. The show has added new affiliate stations, including iHeartMedia’s WEBG, Chicago “BIG 95.5,” whose PD Lance Houston says, “B-Dub has added such a great energy to ‘BIG 95.5’ on Saturday nights! If you want your station to sound fun again on Saturday night, while staying true to the format and the sound of country music, then this is the show for you.”…..Programming pro Mike McCoy is named operations manager at Stephens Media Group’s Rochester, New York that includes adult contemporary WRMM-FM “Warm 101.3,” alternative WZNE-FM “94.1 The Zone,” and adult hits WFKL-FM “Fickle 93.3.” He will also program “Warm 101.3” and “Fickle 93.3” SVP of programming Bob Thornton says, “Mike is exactly the kind of person we need in the Rochester market. His relentless pursuit of excellence, leadership qualities and vast experience will take this cluster to new heights.”
Report: WIND-AM, Chicago’s Amy Jacobson Barred from Governor’s Pressers. A report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder reveals Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has ordered reporter Amy Jacobson barred from his daily COVID-19 press briefings after she was one of the prominent speakers at Saturday’s Freedom Movement USA-sponsored protest of his stay-at-home order. Jacobson is news anchor and morning co-host on Salem Media Group’s WIND-AM. The governor’s press secretary emailed Jacobson saying her participation in a political rally “attended by people holding hateful Nazi imagery” means she’s forfeited her status as an impartial journalist. Salem regional VP and general manager Jeff Reisman told Feder he’s disappointed the governor is trying to limit the scope of questions at the briefings and hopes Pritzker will change his mind.
Entercom’s RADIO.COM Experiencing ‘Double-Digit Growth’; Launches App Updates. According to Entercom, its digital platform RADIO.COM is experiencing “continued double-digit audience growth.” The company says, “Demand for RADIO.COM’s premium audio content continued to grow and in March, time spent listening increased by 22% month-over-month. It also delivered double-digit growth in total listening hours (TLH) for nine straight months continuing in April. And Entercom’s portfolio of all-news and news/talk stations are up 61% year-over-year in TLH. Updates to the app include new personalized recommendation features to the platform. “The update elevates the audio consumption experience by offering users a personalized homepage tailored with additional stations and podcasts based on listening habits. The enhanced experience will allow advertisers the opportunity to target listeners more precisely than ever before and serve more contextually relevant messages. The platform has also added a new discovery experience where users can easily browse hundreds of radio stations and over 15,000 podcasts grouped by themes, category and location, as well as ‘City’ pages for the top 25 U.S. markets that aggregate local news and sports content, local stations and relevant podcasts to the respective city.”
WWO: Five Strategies Using Apple Metrics. If you are a podcast producer using Apple metrics, Westwood One Podcast Network executive editor John Wordock has some tips for you in this week’s Westwood One blog. He says the best way to fight the misperception that podcast consumption is declining is with Apple’s metrics that give you a look at past episodes, duration, devices, total time listened, time per device, and average consumption (a.k.a. completion rates). He boils it down to five strategies: Strategy #1: Focus on storytelling and preparation. If publishing an interview podcast, podcasters should do their homework, know their questions beforehand, and anticipate the answers. If producing a scripted show, podcasters should do table reads with their producer, pick apart their episode, and look for ways to improve their story. Strategy #2: Get creative with pre-roll ads. Because listening decisions are made so quickly, podcasters should avoid starting an episode with ad copy if possible. Strategy #3: Experiment. Podcasters can use Apple metrics as instant insight into how content performs, how listeners react, and how ads are received. Strategy #4: Hold the audience. Podcasters should strive to hold 80% of their audience to the mid-roll position and use it as a draw for advertisers. Strategy #5: Deal with dips. Through the Apple dashboard, podcasters will spot potholes in the listening pattern. How can podcasters stop listeners from fast-forwarding through the ads and leaving large divots on the data screen? The best podcast reads are often seamless and connect with the topics being discussed. See more here.
TALKERS News Notes. As commercial radio celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, CBS News Radio and the National Press Club are producing “Celebrating a Century of Sound,” a 10-part series that marks the role audio has played in the lives of Americans for the past 100 years. The feature is a part of CBS’ “World News Roundup,” anchored by CBS News correspondent Sam Litzinger and consists of 10 one-minute chapters, plus a mini-documentary, chronicling the history of radio from crystal sets to digital platforms, and from soap operas and symphonies to rock-n-roll, all-news, talk, and sports radio…..iHeartMedia produced a series of speech highlights from “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” – the special podcast event it created for America’s graduation month that features commencement addresses from some of the most inspiring and accomplished thought leaders impacting culture today. The “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” podcast was released last Friday (5/15) and, following its digital release, iHeartMedia’s more than 850 broadcast radio stations across the country aired featured clips from “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020” every hour, culminating Sunday night with a series of 30-minute on air commencement specials on all music stations and 60-minute specials on all talk stations…..Lemonada Media debuts its sixth weekly podcast series titled, “In Recovery with Dr. Nzinga Harrison, M.D.” Dr. Harrison co-founded and serves as chief medical officer of Eleanor Health, a revolutionary, evidence-based, outpatient approach to treatment. Lemonada says, “From substances to sex to work, each week Dr. Harrison addresses why addiction should be treated like other chronic medical illnesses and the many complex aspects surrounding treatment and recovery.”…..A new study released by AdLarge Media reveals that NASCAR broadcasts stand to attract a significant number of new fans this year. AdLarge says that fans hungry for live play-by-play “are getting their fix from NASCAR races, which are broadcast live on 435 U.S. radio stations from the Motor Racing Network: The Voice of NASCAR and the Performance Racing Network.” AdLarge partnered with radio research firm NuVoodoo Media Services for the study that concluded: 84% of those who intend to tune in to the live broadcasts this season are existing NASCAR fans; 16% are new to NASCAR this year; and 28% of those new to NASCAR this year share positive impressions of sponsors and advertisers associated with a NASCAR event.
Re-Opening Controversy, Statistics & Projections, Michael Flynn Case/Russia Inquiry, IG Firing, Pressure on China, Trump vs WHO, and MLB’s Opening Proposal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/18). The concerns about re-opening states’ economies; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections for future cases; the DOJ’s decision to drop charges against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and allegations Barack Obama was responsible for the Russia inquiry; the firing of inspector general Steve Linick at the request of Mike Pompeo; some 100 nations pressure China for more transparency on the origins of the coronavirus; President Trump threatens to exit WHO permanently; and Major League Baseball’s proposal to begin the 2020 season in July were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Randi Kirshbaum Exits Saga Portland; Station Disputes Her Use of the Word ‘Terminated.’ According to an account in the Portland Press Herald, programmer and air talent Randi Kirshbaum wrote on Facebook that she’s been terminated by Saga Portland for refusing to resume working from the company’s offices. Kirshbaum was programming triple A WCLZ, hot AC WMGX, and worked on air at WCLZ and country WPOR. Saga says she was not terminated but laid off for not following the terms she agreed to for working remotely. Kirshbaum says her doctor recommends she work remotely to prevent contracting pulmonary fibrosis as the result of coming in contact with COVID-19. She says she’s been able to do everything she needs to from home, but Saga Portland SVP of operations Chris Forgy tells the paper it’s “virtually impossible for her to be a supervisor and not come back.” He says her work-from-home deal required the company assess the situation every two weeks and it would be the company’s call when she was to return. Kirshbaum says she did not agree that her return would be up to Saga.
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Nashville, Cromwell Media names Chris “Crate” Atticus program director, brand manager, and midday host for rock WBUZ “102.9 The Buzz.” Atticus has been serving as APD and imaging director at iHeartMedia Indianapolis. Atticus was assistant program director and imaging director for WBUZ from 2010 through 2014. He comments, “I’m stoked to come home to Cromwell Media. It’s a dream come true to return to ‘The Buzz’ and take the reins of ‘Nashville’s Rock Station.’” Cromwell also promotes afternoon personality Hayley St. John to assistant program director…..iHeartMedia Atlanta announces that Spanish Hits WBZY “Z105.7” is now also broadcasting on WRDA-FM at 96.7, a signal licensed to Union City located southwest of Atlanta. The company says the signal expansion will “reach thousands of new listeners in the Atlanta community, allowing a larger audience to enjoy its Spanish contemporary hit radio programming.”