NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment 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, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Raging Politics!” looks back at this past week of January 25-29, 2021. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Holland Cooke, media consultant / talk show host, RT America; Curtis Sliwa, talk show host, WABC / GOP primary candidate for Mayor of New York City / founder Guardian Angeles; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; Bill Graff, talk show host KSCO, Santa Cruz; Amy Hao, co-talk show host, China Uber Alles; Nan Su, co-talk show host, China Uber Alles; senior reporter, The Epoch Times; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The 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 WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; 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; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, 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.
Cox Media Group Names Rob Babin SVP of Radio. Atlanta vice president and market manager Rob Babin is promoted to senior vice president of radio for Cox Media Group, effective immediately. Over Babin’s 20-year career with Cox, he’s held numerous management and sales management positions, including his most recent overseeing the Atlanta market that includes news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, three music brands, as well as the six-station Athens, Georgia market. Cox Media Group says that “as head of radio and a member of the company’s executive leadership team, Babin is responsible for the profitability, strategic direction, and operational execution of CMG’s radio platform, spanning 65 radio stations in 11 markets across the country. He will focus heavily on achieving CMG’s radio strategic growth objectives while maintaining CMG’s industry leading content, impactful community engagement, and growth-focused culture.” Cox Media Group president and CEO Dan York comments, “We are so excited that Rob accepted this role on the CMG leadership team. He is a proven leader with a true passion for the radio, CMG and his people. Rob is a collaborative and agile executive, with deep industry and CMG expertise and passion for everything he does – making him the ideal leader for CMG Radio.” Babin says, “Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside many exceptional individuals and teams across CMG. I am thrilled to accept this position and honored to lead our CMG radio team. With our company’s incredible strength, brands, and people, we will continue to excel and grow our radio business to new heights.”
SummitMedia EVP of Programming Bill Tanner Dies. Radio programming executive Bill Tanner died at his home in Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday evening. Tanner had been serving as executive vice president of programming for SummitMedia, LLC. In a press statement, the company says, “Tanner, who had an incredible career spanning nearly five decades, was known for his fierce competitive spirit and his brilliant approach to radio programming. He amassed one of the radio industry’s most consistent track records of number-one stations in markets ranging from South Florida to Los Angeles.” SummitMedia CEO Carl Parmer comments, “I had the honor of working alongside Bill since the early 90s from our days together at Heftel Broadcasting. His knowledge of the industry and loyalty as a friend continued as we worked to build SummitMedia together. All those who knew Bill came to respect his skills and watch in awe of how he connected with listeners. We will all truly miss him.” Parmer and Tanner joined forces in 2013 to create SummitMedia LLC, a company formed to purchase a number of radio stations being divested by Cox Radio. Later, they added 20 stations acquired from E.W. Scripps. Tanner began his career in the early 1970s doing mornings in Jackson, Mississippi followed by the ‘Tanner in the Morning Show’ on Miami’s WHYI “Y-100.” Soon thereafter, he was named VP of programming for parent company Heftel Broadcasting Corporation, where Parmer served as president and co-CEO. SummitMedia’s Randy Chase says, “We will miss Bill’s incessant enthusiasm, his love for our business, and his desire to always put the consumer first. But we will carry on with the fierceness he demonstrated and his passion for building an emotional connection with the listener.” Tanner is survived by his son Scott and two grandchildren, Tessa and Ryan.
Coleman and Conn Swap Dayparts at ‘105.7 The Fan’ in Baltimore. A couple of talent moves take place at Entercom’s Baltimore sports talker WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan.” Jerry Coleman is leaving his role on the “Big Bad Morning Show” to host his own program, “Sports with Coleman,” evenings from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Meanwhile, Jeremy Conn moves from the evening daypart to join Rob Long and Ed Norris as part of the morning show, effective February 8. Entercom Baltimore SVP and market manager Tracy Brandys says, “With his vast knowledge of sports and his connections to the sports world, Jerry Coleman was born to host his own show. Jeremy Conn will bring his unique brand of humor, his extensive gambling knowledge, and his signature bits to morning drive. We appreciate both Jerry and Jeremy’s hard work and dedication to ‘105.7 The Fan’ and are excited to have two Baltimore natives serve as bookends for our impressive weekday lineup.” Coleman says, “Switching from the mornings to the evening will allow me to bring back ‘Sports with Coleman’ and grow my brand. I’m grateful to Entercom for this opportunity.” Conn comments, “I am unbelievably excited and humbled to join the ‘Big Bad Morning Show.’ I am also nervous to work with two former cops, considering my shady background – thank goodness for the statute of limitations. Ed, Rob, producer Joe LaCroix and myself will have fun and I am confident Baltimore will laugh their way to work each morning.”
Al Galdi Exits Entercom’s WTEM, Washington ‘The Team 980.’ There’s been no official statement from Entercom, but sports talk personality Al Galdi announces via Twitter that he’s been let go from the company’s newly acquired sports talk outlet WTEM-AM, Washington “The Team 980” where he hosted the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. He tweeted, “So…I am no longer w/ @Team980. Started there as an intern on Memorial Day Weekend 1998 & had been there ever since. A time in my life I’ll never forget. A sincere thank you to my coworkers & anyone who ever listened or contributed to a show I did in some way. Much appreciated.”
Al Peterson Dies at 68. The family of Al Peterson announces that he died about a week ago after an unusual series of medical events led to multiple organ failure that led to his passing at age 68. Peterson was well known in the radio industry for his years of service to Radio & Records as news/talk/sports editor. After R&R was shuttered by its parent company, Peterson launched his own news/talk/sports-focused trade publication that he ran for a number of years prior to retiring from the business about four years ago. Art Vuolo tells TALKERS magazine that per Al’s very clear directive, the family agreed to keep him on life support long enough for his organs to be harvested. He adds that his liver already saved a woman in Southern California and they harvested enough skin, bone, tissue, etc. that he could potentially help 60-plus other people. Peterson’s work in radio prior to entering the radio trade business included serving as program director at news/talk KOGO-AM, San Diego.
Beasley Media Group Initiative Celebrates Diversity and Inclusion. The ongoing Community of Caring initiative from Beasley Media Group is now focused on diversity and inclusion. The company says that the initiative will feature on-air public service announcements, customized online content, and in-car messaging utilizing Quu technology that will underscore the importance of diversity and inclusion across the company’s 63 radio properties. It officially launches on Monday (2/1) and “will shine an important spotlight on Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Diversity/Belonging. Beasley Media CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Diversity, collaboration and respect are paramount to our core values. This initiative reflects the vision and philosophy my father, George, had when he founded the company 60 years ago. We are thrilled to launch this important initiative that promotes a culture of belonging and encourages, supports and reflects the communities we serve.”
Senate Impeachment Trial and Capitol Insurrection Investigation Tie for Top News/Talk Story This Week. The Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump and the investigation into the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol tied for the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the week of January 25-29. At #2 this week was the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., the vaccine rollout, and the variant strains. Coming in at #3 was the GameStop stock frenzy, the U.S. economy’s contraction, and the education crisis, followed by U.S. relations with China and Russia at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research form TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
Curtis Sliwa of WABC, New York Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. One of the most colorful and original radio talk show hosts in America for more than three decades, Curtis Sliwa, now heard 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daily on Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” According to Harrison, “Although known around the world as an expert/advocate on crime fighting and public safety and an innovator in the concept of citizens looking out for each other in dangerous situations – Curtis Sliwa is as much a part of the New York City scene as Central Park, the Coney Island Cyclone, the Staten Island Ferry and street pretzels… at least before the Big Apple became infested with the worms of COVID-19. He’s a larger-than-life character in the city. Metropolis has Superman, Gotham City has Batman and New York – the real New York – has this semi-costumed public figure… totally recognizable on the streets in his signature red beret and red sateen jacket.” Known by millions since the late 1970s as the founder and leader of The Guardian Angels, a grassroots organization that falls on the spectrum somewhere between populist vigilantism and neighborhood watch, Sliwa is also active in independent politics having served in the past as the chairman of the New York State Reform Party and now seriously flirting with a run for the Republican nomination for mayor of New York in the next election. He has a history of tangling with the mob and has been on the wrong side of the barrel of a gun for his bravery. He’s maintained success as a radio talk show host for years mostly on WABC (with a five-year run on Salem’s “AM 970 The Answer,” WNYM, New York) and is the ongoing subject of personal gossip in the New York City tabloids. Harrison adds, “Although tremendously intelligent and articulate, this guy is about as street as anyone in the media today. It was announced this week that Sliwa’s WABC midday show will be going through post-Donald Trump changes in its approach and positioning. So, I figured this would be a great time to catch up with him and discuss his career, political ambitions, the post-election environment, the state of news/talk radio and the challenges facing New York City and the nation.” 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. Don’t miss this!
WIBA-AM, Madison Talk Host Dan O’Donnell Says State Official Trying to Silence Him. According to a story in the Wisconsin State Journal, news/talk WIBA-AM, Madison morning drive host Dan O’Donnell says a longtime critic and a current member of the state’s Ethics Commission is trying to use his position to silence him. O’Donnell’s nemesis is Scot Ross, who was appointed to the Commission in April of 2020 by outgoing Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Schilling. Previously, Ross led the liberal One Wisconsin Now organization. Ross has never been shy about calling out his political enemies in conservative media, including O’Donnell, but O’Donnell says Ross’ current call to boycott iHeartMedia stations because of O’Donnell’s and others’ opinions is a conflict because of Ross’ position. Ross says his membership on the government board doesn’t preclude him from voicing his opinions via personal social media accounts. But O’Donnell says that he and his employer, iHeartMedia, “are deciding how to proceed on any formal complaint against Ross with the Ethics Commission.”
KFGO, Fargo Simulcasting on KMJO-FM. Fargo news/talk outlet KFGO “The Mighty 790” has a new FM simulcast as Midwest Communications flipped KMJO-FM from country to a simulcast of KFGO. KMJO is a 100,000-watt Class C1 FM at 104.7 licensed to Hope, North Dakota (about 30 miles northwest of Fargo). KFGO also is heard on 94.1 FM via translator K231CV, Fargo. Midwest says, “Since 2017, KFGO has been simulcasting in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area on 94.1 FM but needed to serve communities on the FM dial outside of the metro area that depend on KFGO. Jamestown, Valley City, Lisbon, Gwinner, LaMoure, Ada, Barnesville, Hillsboro, Mayville and many others will now receive KFGO on 104.7 FM and 790 AM. The metro area will continue to hear KFGO on 790 AM, 94.1 FM and now 104.7 FM.” KFGO operations manager Joel Heitkamp comments, “Our goal at ‘The Mighty 790’ has always been to be there for our KFGO family of listeners. The power that 104.7 FM brings to the airways allows us to reach an even larger audience.”
Study: Smart Speaker Ownership on the Rise. According to NuVoodoo Media Services’ Ratings Prospects Study XVII, smart speaker penetration is up 67% among Persons 14-54. The study included close to 3,500 respondents ages 14-54. NuVoodoo EVP of research insights Leigh Jacobs says, “According to our January study, smart speakers are in the homes of 67% of 14 to 54-year-olds and the penetration rate is accelerating. Up from 60% last June and 56% in January 2020.” The company is hosting a free webinar titled, “How to Get Your Ratings From Here to Vaccinated,” on February 11 at 1:00 pm ET. You can register here.
RAB to Present Business Accelerated Initiative. The RAB announces that beginning this month it is shifting its marketing focus launched at the start of the pandemic from “Business Unusual” and later “Open for Business,” under the “Business Accelerated” umbrella. The new initiative includes a dedicated section on RAB.com called Business Accelerated and includes live presentations and updated RAB sales and marketing resources. Each month, RAB will spotlight an emerging advertising category with a live presentation. The launch of the series, titled, “Radio Works for Healthcare,” will focus on healthcare and is scheduled at 1:00 pm ET on February 17, 2021. “Radio Works for Healthcare” features: Tim Kolling, broadcast, digital & event marketing consultant from Alpha Media Topeka and Arra Yerganian, board member & chief marketing/brand/experience officer at Concentric Ventures, LLC. RAB members can register here.
TALKERS News Notes. According to a report in the Milwaukee Journal, Good Karma Brands is “close to signing a lease” that would move the studios of news/talk WTMJ-AM and its other Milwaukee signals sports talk WKTI-FM/WAUK-AM “ESPN Milwaukee” to the city’s former downtown mall complex that’s being renamed 3rd Street Market Hall. WTMJ-AM’s studios are currently in the same complex as E.W. Scripps’ WTMJ-TV. Good Karma acquired WTMJ-AM and WKTI-FM from Scripps for $16 million in 2018…..PodcastOne finalizes a deal to bring the award winning podcast “Our Fake History” into its fold by acquiring the exclusive sales and distribution rights to the program. Created and hosted by Canadian high school history teacher Sebastian Major, “Our Fake History” is a podcast that explores historical myths and misconceptions. In each episode Major closely examines stories that people think are historical fact but may very well be elaborate fiction. Did the Aztecs really think the Spanish conquistadors were gods? Was there a real island of Atlantis? Was baseball really invented in one afternoon by a civil war hero? “Our Fake History” looks at these questions and tries to determine what’s fact, what’s fiction, and what is such a good story it simply must be told…..SiriusXM and comic Kevin Hart’s “Laugh Out Loud” are launching three new original programs, including the debut podcast from Hart, “Inside Jokes with Kevin Hart.” The “Inside Jokes” show will feature Hart in conversation with fellow top comics, including Jerry Seinfeld as the inaugural guest…..Starnes Media Group announces that “The Todd Starnes Show” podcast has reached more than 1 million monthly downloads and was recently named one of the top 100 podcasts in America by Triton Digital…..Entercom sports talk outlet WJZ-FM, Baltimore “105.7 The Fan” and MLB’s Baltimore Orioles announce an extension to their broadcast partnership agreement today, keeping WJZ-FM as the flagship station for Orioles baseball.
iHeartRadio’s ‘Living Black!’ Event Takes Place on February 20. In conjunction with Black History Month, iHeartMedia is presenting “iHeartRadio’s Living Black!” that “spotlights the power of Black culture yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” iHeartMedia says the nationwide on-air celebration will feature the first-ever “iHeartRadio’s Living Black!” special event with performances by Roddy Ricch, 21 Savage, Jhené Aiko, Kirk Franklin and more of today’s biggest hip hop, R&B and Gospel music artists. The special airs on February 20 at 6:00 pm ET on iHeartRadio’s YouTube and Facebook pages; iHeartMedia hip hop, Gospel, and R&B stations; and the iHeartRadio app. In addition, the month-long “iHeartRadio’s Living Black!” celebration will highlight hundreds of Black artists, influencers and thought leaders through audio vignettes and tributes on 580 iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations in every format.
Trump Impeachment/GOP Backlash, Capitol Attack Investigation, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccine Issues, Biden Environmental Plan, Reddit Traders/Financial Markets Activity, and Cloris Leachman Dies at 94 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/27). The impeachment case against Donald Trump and the backlash against GOP pols who support the impeachment; the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol; the number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the problems affecting the rollout of vaccines; President Joe Biden unveils a $2 trillion environmental plan that hits the fossil fuels industry; the influence of “Reddit traders” on the world’s financial markets; and actress Cloris Leachman dies at the age of 94 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.