Round One of March PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of data from Nielsen Audio’s March 2020 PPM survey have been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The March survey covered February 27 through March 25. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his Ratings Takeaways from this batch of markets. The Covid-19 crisis began hitting the U.S. halfway through this survey – around March 13 – and the big gainers were the all-news stations. In New York, Entercom’s all-news stations WCBS-AM and WINS-AM were both up (weekly, 6+ AQH share) from the February survey – +0.5 and +1.1, respectively. iHeartMedia’s KFI, Los Angeles rose 0.4 shares for a 4.2 share and the #5 rank in the market. Nexstar Media’s news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago increased six-tenths for a 4.5 share and the #5 rank, while Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago spikes 1.9 shares – the biggest February to March jump in this group of 12 markets – to finish March with a 7.7 share and the #1 rank in Chicago. Entercom’s all-news KCBS-AM, San Francisco is up 1.2 shares for a 9.9 share and the #1 rank. Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta tacks on another 1.5 shares to finish March with a 12.9 share and its ninth straight #1 finish. Entercom’s KYW-AM, Philadelphia added 1.9 shares for a 6.6 share and a leap from #8 to #3. See Mike Kinosian’s Ratings Takeaways here.
KGO, San Francisco Brings John Rothmann Back for Evenings. Back in 2011, talk show host John Rothmann was let go from Cumulus Media’s news/talk KGO, San Francisco along with a number of other local air talent. Now, nine years later Rothmann is back on the air holding down the 6:00 pm to 9:00 program (5:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Saturdays). Rothmann is featured in a story in The Jewish News of Northern California and he tells the paper that being on the air during this pandemic comes at a time that people want to connect. “There is a huge hunger for KGO as a community forum, and I’m helping fill that role, and people are responding. My board is loaded from the time I come in until the time I head home.” He adds, “People crave contact with others, and because we no longer have the physical contact, talk radio is the most intimate, immediate medium, and KGO is the only live, local talk show.”
WABC Launches New Weekend Show. Dubbed, “The Right vs The Left,” the Sunday afternoon show on Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York “TALKRADIO 77 WABC” “pits a WABC air personality on the right vs. well-known political commentators and activists on the left to offer listeners opposing sides of a range of current issues.” This Sunday (4/19), WABC morning co-host Sid Rosenberg takes on left-leaning actor Michael Rapaport at 4:00 pm and WABC midday co-host Curtis Sliwa spars with “The Aggressive Progressive” Christopher Hahn at 5:00 pm. WABC program director Dave LaBrozzi says, “At WABC, our goal is to present both sides of the story so that our listeners can get to the truth of every issue. This special program does that in an entertaining joust between two strong, knowledgeable, opinionated-yet-open-minded personalities. The result is engaging talk radio that pulls in the audience and keeps them there.” The station says the program debuted last weekend with morning show co-host Bernard McGuirk going against Hahn and overwhelming response from listeners spurred it to set up the second and third matches, with the possibility of more right vs. left battles in the coming weeks.
President Trump Wanted to Host Daily Talk Radio Show; But Didn’t Want to Affect Rush Limbaugh’s Program. According to a piece in The New York Times, President Trump was eager to launch a daily, two-hour talk radio show in which he would take calls from Americans – without a call screener – to talk about the coronavirus pandemic. However, he balked because he didn’t want to compete with conservative media icon and supporter Rush Limbaugh. He would have wanted to do the program in afternoon, the time when Limbaugh’s Premiere Networks show airs live.
Coronavirus Statistics and Projections, WHO Funding, Trump vs Governors, Health Care System, China Under Scrutiny, and the November Election Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/15). The official tally of U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths and projections of future cases; the controversy over President Trump’s order to suspend funding to the World Health Organization for its deference to China; the question of the president’s power versus that of the states’ governors; the state of health care and the health of medical personnel in the cities where hospitals are being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients; questions about China’s truthfulness about its handling of the outbreak in Wuhan; and how the November elections will be handled in the U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
KTRS, St. Louis Longtime Morning Host and PD McGraw Milhaven Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The morning host and program director of independently owned and operated KTRS, AM 550 in St. Louis, McGraw Milhaven, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison and Milhaven, a perennial member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred, discuss what it’s like broadcasting from home during Covid-19 and President Trump’s handling of the crisis as well as the state of political news/talk radio in a timely conversation of interest to industry pros and listeners alike. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. A special, four-week tribute series hosted by Ryan Seacrest and streamed LIVE on iHeartRadio’s YouTube channel and broadcast across more than 90 iHeartMedia stations debuts this Friday. It’s called, “iHeartRadio’s First Responder Fridays with FirstNet, Built with AT&T,” and is designed to honor first responders and medical professionals on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic. Seacrest is asking listeners on air on iHeartRadio stations across the country, online and through social media to share stories of how their lives have been positively impacted by police, fire, EMS and hospital workers by using #iHeartFirstResponders on social media and calling 1-833-3FRIDAY. In honor and support of these first responders and medical professionals, AT&T is committing $5.5 million to provide much needed support in the form of nourishing meals through World Central Kitchen, Feeding America, Salvation Army, and Team Rubicon…..RCN Boston and iHeartMedia are partnering to honor local community heroes of the coronavirus pandemic. The partnership was developed to show appreciation during these uncertain times to the people who are working tirelessly to keep the community safe and comfortable. These heroes include medical professionals, first responders, delivery service workers, cleaning staff, cooks, teachers, stock clerks and others. RCN and iHeartMedia Boston are asking for nominations of individuals or organizations who are going above and beyond during these unprecedented times. Nominations will be accepted through Friday, April 24. Ten heroes will be selected to receive a $250 gift card to continue their amazing work for which they are being recognized…..On-air pro Bryan “B-Dub” Washington announces via Facebook that he’s leaving his afternoon personality and APD/MD roles at iHeartMedia’s country KWBL, Denver “106.7 The Bull.” He writes, “The last two years have been absolutely amazing. I’ve had some of the coolest experiences of my entire life here, and it’s so hard to say goodbye, but the time has come. I’ll have more to tell you, soon. It was by choice, and when I am able to, I’ll explain why.”…..The company’s cost-saving policy forces midday air personality Jodee Woods out of Midwest Communications’ country KVOX-FM, Fargo…..Condolences to the family and friends of All Pro Broadcasting owner Willie D. Davis, who passed away yesterday (4/15) at age 85 after a long illness. In addition to his career as a broadcaster and businessman, Davis was a Pro Football Hall of Famer who was a key defensive player on the 1960s-era Green Bay Packers. He won five NFL championships (including two Super Bowls) as a member of the team before retiring from the game in 1969. All Pro Broadcasting owns hot AC KHTI and adult contemporary KATY-FM in the Riverside-San Bernardino market. Davis also formed Milwaukee Radio Alliance LLC with Bill Lynett in 1996. It owns adult contemporary WLDB-FM, alternative WLUM-FM, and oldies WZTI-AM.
Lars Larson Inks New Deal with Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland. Talk radio star Lars Larson signs a new deal to continue hosting his daily program on Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland “FM News 101” through 2024. As part of the deal, Larson’s 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm PT show is also broadcast to 21 stations in the Pacific Northwest via Alpha Media’s Radio Northwest Network. Larson’s national radio show airs live on some 125 affiliate stations from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm PT via syndicator Compass Media Networks (with whom Larson also holds a multi-year contract). Alpha Media SVP and market manager Lisa Decker says, “With the biggest local talk radio audience in the region, ‘The Lars Larson Show’ reaches more than 3.5 million listeners. All of us at Alpha Media Portland, our listeners, and our advertisers are excited to extend our relationship with Lars for the next five years.” Larson comments, “I’m thrilled to renew my relationship with a station I’ve been with through half a dozen presidents, a dozen NW governors, a live volcano eruption, and more than 25 years as a reporter, anchor, and now talk host.”
Cumulus Makes WABC Programmer Change Official. Yesterday (6/3), TALKERS magazine reported that former hot AC WPLJ, New York program director Dave LaBrozzi has taken over the programming reigns of Cumulus Media’s heritage news/talk WABC, New York, replacing Craig Schwalb. Now, the company makes it official with a press release. LaBrozzi joined WPLJ in May of 2018. Prior to that he was VP of programming for what is now Entercom’s Baltimore cluster (when it was owned by CBS RADIO) that includes sports talk duo WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan” and WJZ-AM “CBS Sports Radio 1300.” He previously served as regional vice president of programming for iHeartMedia (back when it was Clear Channel) overseeing stations in Pittsburgh; Wheeling, West Virginia; and Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Cumulus New York VP and market manager Chad Lopez says, “Dave will be an incredible asset to 77 WABC and Radio 103.9/WNBM-FM, and brings experience in both the news/talk and urban AC formats to his new role with Cumulus New York. We are looking forward to continuing to grow these stations and to giving their passionate listeners even more of the content and community connection that they rely on and enjoy every day.”
The Thompson Family’s Big Radio to Acquire Two More in Janesville, Wisconsin. Two historical Janesville, Wisconsin radio stations are changing hands as Skip Bliss’ Southern Wisconsin Broadcasting (a subsidiary of Bliss Communications) agrees to sell heritage news/talk WCLO-AM and country WJVL-FM to Ben Thompson-led Big Radio for an undisclosed sum. Buyer Big Radio operates eight stations in the Southern Wisconsin markets of Beloit, Freeport, Monroe, and Janesville. Skip Bliss’ father put WCLO on the air in 1930 and WJVL-FM launched in 1947. Meanwhile, Big Radio was founded by Ben’s father Scott Thompson in 1996 with the purchase of two Monroe stations. The sale announcement states that “[u]nder Ben’s leadership, Big Radio remains committed to its founding ideals, providing superior coverage of the community’s local news, sports, entertainment, and information. Big Radio provides local news 365 days a year and its sports department broadcast over 350 regional high school sporting events last year. Ben Thompson and Big Radio believe the future of radio is local, and aggressively pursue this strategy to the benefit of its listeners and advertisers.” Kalil & Co., Inc. represents the buyer in this transaction.
New York’s WOR to Present Live Event Speaker Series. Big Apple news/talk WOR is launching an event series called “WOR Live” that will feature in-depth interviews and compelling speakers. iHeartMedia announces that for the first event, station morning personality Len Berman will moderate a panel that will analyze the news business in 2019. Joining Berman will be New York news personalities Rosanna Scotto – co-host of WNYW-TV’s “Good Day New York” – and Ernie Anastos, news anchor at WNYW “FOX News 5.” The event also features networking opportunities and lunch and takes place at the Cutting Room on June 19 at 11:30 am.
Entercom’s New York All-News Stations Win Big at NYSAPA. WCBS-AM and WINS-AM – both all-news outlets operated by Entercom Communications – won a total of 16 2018 New York State Associated Press Association Awards. WCBS 880 received first place in seven categories, including top honor for “Outstanding News Operation for Radio.” Sister station 1010 WINS was recognized with top honors in three categories, including for Best Newscast and Best Weathercast. The stations collectively received second place finishes in six categories. Winners were honored at NYSAPA’s annual awards dinner on June 1 in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Trump’s UK Visit, 2020 Presidential Race, Deadly Virginia Beach Shootings, U.S.-China Tensions, Mexican Tariff Proposal/Immigration Issues, Big Tech Anti-Trust Investigation, and Holzhauer’s ‘Jeopardy!’ Run Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/3). The official state visit to the U.K. by President Trump; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; the aftermath of the shootings in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead; the diplomatic and economic tensions between the U.S. and China over the tariffs the U.S. has slapped on Chinese exports; the Trump Administration’s plan to place tariffs on Mexican exports and the Southern border immigration issues; the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into possible Big Tech anti-trust activity; and James Holzhauer’s improbable “Jeopardy!” run 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. In Detroit, iHeartMedia names Bill Black director of urban programming for hip hop WJLB and urban contemporary WMXD “MIX 92.3,” taking over for Nate Bell, who left that position earlier this year. Black comes to Detroit from his most recent position with Radio One in Cleveland programming hip hop WENZ and urban contemporary WZAK. He says, “I am really thrilled to join the iHeartMedia team and be able to do what I love. The talented programmers that I get to collaborate with, coupled with these legendary Detroit urban stations are unmatched and I’m excited to get to work.”…..iHeartMedia appoints Dustin “Fletcher” Matthews program director for alternative WEND, Charlotte “106.5 The End,” effective June 10. Matthews moves from the company’s St. Louis region where he was director of alternative rock programming. iHeartMedia Virginia-Carolina Region SVP Chadwick “A.J.” Hausknecht says, “Dustin is one of the best alternative format programmers in the country. His unmeasurable creativity and distinctive out-of-the-box thinking will be a great addition to our super passionate and strategic programming family here at iHeartMedia Charlotte.”…..Alpha Media announces that programmer Brown is moving from his PD position in Louisville to Columbia, South Carolina where he’ll serve as operations manager. He continues as format captain for the company’s urban, urban AC, and gospel brands. Alpha Media regional president Mike Hartel says, “Brown is a natural leader and he has been a star in our company for a while now. We can’t wait to bring his big ideas and his big heart to our organization and our community in Columbia!”…..This past weekend, Premiere Networks-syndicated personality Delilah (left) appeared on the Food Network program, “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” hosted by country star Trisha Yearwood (right). Yearwood also sat down for an interview with Delilah for her podcast “Love Someone with Delilah.” The three-time Grammy Award-winner discussed her life and career, including her first full-length studio album in more than 10 years, Let’s Be Frank: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra…..Entercom expands its LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network CHANNEL Q to new markets, including: Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, and Washington D.C. The network now brings the latest in LGBTQ+ news and information, pop culture, and new music to listeners in a total of 19 local markets and via the RADIO.COM app nationwide…..WAQX, New York morning personality Shelli Sonstein – longtime co-host of Q104.3’s “Jim Kerr Rock & Roll Morning Show” – led her fundraising team in the 2019 NYC Tunnel to Towers Climb that benefits the families of first responders and military personnel killed in action. Sonstein led her team (pictured below) in their age group with a record time climbing the 104 stories of the World Trade Center. She says, “I would like to thank Elvis Duran and my co-host Jim Kerr for their very generous donations, and of course, ‘Q104.3’ and iHeartMedia for supporting my efforts. My entire team finished this very difficult climb and vows to be back again next year to raise even more funds and awareness of this great organization.”