Premiere Networks to Syndicate “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in Rush Limbaugh’s Old Daypart. A source at Premiere Networks confirms the story in today’s Wall Street Journal that reports Premiere will begin syndicating “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart, beginning June 21. Sexton, a former CIA officer and NYPD counter-terrorism expert currently hosts an eponymous 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET show for Premiere Networks and Clay Travis – founder of Outkick (which he just sold to FOX) – hosts the morning drive “Outkick the Coverage” show on FOX Sports Radio. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott is quoted saying, “We’re not going to replace Rush Limbaugh, we’re going to have an evolution of the show with fresh voices — those that grew up on Rush and admired him.” Clay Travis writes a piece at Outkick today explaining that this has been in the works for months and he gives his rationale for leaving the morning sports show behind to work with Sexton on the new talk radio show.
‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ to Debut on July 4. The launch of Cumulus Media’s new talk station is set for July 4 and the company announces that WKIM-FM, “News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis” will be the official flagship radio station for the University of Memphis Tigers. As such, the deal with Tiger Sports Properties means the station will air every football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball game starting in August. The agreement also includes broadcasting of the weekly one-hour football and men’s basketball coaches’ shows with Ryan Silverfield and Penny Hardaway, respectively. Cumulus does not reveal the daily programming to be heard on the station outside of Westwood One’s newly launched “Dan Bongino Show.” Cumulus Memphis VP and market manager Morgan Bohannon says, “At Cumulus, we believe strongly that ‘what’s good for Memphis is good for us,’ and that commitment to our community drives all that we do. One of our most important priorities and responsibilities as a local broadcaster is to help make Memphis a better place. Becoming the flagship radio partner of Memphis Tiger Athletics, an entity that is so beloved by our city and its residents, is the opportunity of a lifetime. Cumulus Memphis has the largest live, local and homegrown team in the radio industry – all of whom are incredibly excited about becoming the radio home of the Memphis Tigers. We are thrilled to put the full power of four 100,000-watt stations behind the partnership. KIX-106, 98.1 The Max, 103.5 WRBO and the all-new ‘News Talk 98.9 The Roar of Memphis’ will work in concert to raise the level of awareness and celebrate all that is Memphis Tiger Athletics. Rebranding ‘98.9 The Bridge’ and changing the format of the station is just one more step to showcase Tiger Athletics and all that it means to Memphis. We are excited and eager to begin a new and long-lasting partnership with the University of Memphis, Learfield IMG College and Tiger Sports Properties.”
Real Estate Powerhouse/Radio Talk Show Host Dottie Herman Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms, Dottie Herman, is this week’s guest on the PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” She is also the host of a long-running talk show, “Eye On Real Estate” on WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” that has evolved into a weekend radio institution in the Big Apple. Herman has received numerous high-level honors for both her executive and entrepreneurial leadership in the field of real estate and is on just about every prestigious magazine list of the most powerful women in American business. Michael Harrison says, “Dottie Herman is at the potentially explosive junction where real estate and talk radio meet. The topic is hot and getting hotter tying into all aspects of American life – politics, economics, business, education, and the entire menu of news/talk radio staples. Not to mention, it can attract advertisers from a wide array of industries from banks to home maintenance. Dottie Herman brings the ‘wise woman’ persona reminiscent of some of radio’s greatest talk performers and on-air advisors into a modern context. We discuss everything from her dramatic childhood to her dynamic self-made career as a real estate giant to her role in talk radio including the economy, her perspective on Donald Trump based on her relationship with him in the real estate business, and entrepreneurism in America.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
WVHU, Huntington, West Virginia’s Tom Roten Celebrates 20 Years. Talk radio personality Tom Roten, known to his listeners as “The Straight Shooter,” celebrates his 20th year hosting the morning show on iHeartMedia’s WVHU, Huntington “NewsRadio 800.” Roten began his career with WVHU in 1991 when he began his 15-year stint as the station’s sports play-by-play announcer. In June of 2001, when the station switched to news/talk, Roten became the morning drive host. Roten recalls how he transitioned to the morning show. “I was wrapping up a high school basketball broadcast when I saw a recently elected first-time member of Congress waiting with other parents for her son to come out of the locker room. I asked Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to join me for the postgame report. We talked about the game of course, but I also asked her about being sworn into the U.S. House just a month prior. I didn’t realize it at the time, but members of management were listening to the interview and had been looking for a local morning talk host to fill out the lineup of the station’s new talk format. We had Rush Limbaugh, but the rest of the lineup was still up in the air.” He was offered the morning gig and agreed to try it for a year. About his 20-year morning talk career, he says, “It’s hard to believe really. I’m blessed to have had this opportunity and I’m thankful the listeners and advertisers have stuck with me in my quest to deliver truth, opinion, and, hopefully, some entertainment. Talking about what’s going on in our region and in the nation from a local perspective has helped me bond with my listeners.”
Cumulus Media Moves to Pay Down $175 Million in Debt. The company announces it is taking steps to pay down $175 million of debt using cash on hand. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “As I noted on our recent earnings call, the continuing improvement in economic and public health conditions is fueling very encouraging momentum across all our businesses. Against that backdrop, we are accelerating debt repayments, which will de-lever the balance sheet more quickly, reduce interest expense, and further increase our free cash flow. Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018, we have reduced our net debt by almost $600 million, despite the impact of a global pandemic. Looking ahead, our better leverage profile and more than $200 million of available liquidity will provide us meaningful financial flexibility as we continue along our strong rebound trajectory. Cumulus Media’s strong competitive position, proven track record of solid execution, numerous revenue growth drivers, and ability to consistently generate significant free cash flow give us multiple pathways along which to grow shareholder value in the short- and long-term.” On May 17, Cumulus completed a $60 million repayment of its ABL Revolver due 2025, which represented the entirety of the amount outstanding under the facility. Following the paydown, the ABL Revolver due 2025 is undrawn and available as liquidity for general corporate purposes. Cumulus was required by the terms of its debt agreements to make mandatory debt prepayments from the proceeds of its previously announced sale of land in Bethesda, MD, in June 2020 and sale of towers and related assets in September 2020, after giving effect to a right of reinvestment. On May 25, the company paid down approximately $89 million of its Term Loan Credit Facility due 2026 related to this mandatory prepayment obligation. Approximately $65 million of the prepayment related to the Land Sale, and approximately $23 million of the prepayment related to the Tower Sale. Additionally, pursuant to the terms of its 6.75% Senior Secured First Lien Notes due 2026, the company launched a tender offer for the Notes at par for approximately $26 million, which represents the pro rata amount required to be offered from the proceeds of the Tower Sale. Following the expiration of the tender offer, any amounts that remain untendered will be directed toward an additional prepayment of the Term Loan.
TALKERS News Notes. Former President Donald J. Trump has been making appearances on talk radio programs recently, including a guest spot on the USA Radio Network-syndicated “Wayne Allyn Root: Raw and Unfiltered.”…..Audacy’s Cadence13 announces the launch of a new, weekly podcast titled, “That Thing I Do,” starring Grammy-nominated bassist Este Haim and Emmy Award-winning actor Darren Criss on which the close friends will share their mutual love of music, pop culture, and more with special guests. “That Thing I Do” will be a “raucous deep-dive into the funny and strange quirks of those successful people, and an investigation of what it is about ‘that thing they do’ that makes them who they are.”…..On Tuesday, June 1 ABC News kicks off Pride Month with the two-episode premiere of its first LGBTQ+ issue-focused podcast, “Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson.” The ABC News contributor says, “We lost so many stories to the AIDS epidemic, violence, harassment and silence due to fear. I’m passionate about creating a space to capture these underreported stories and untold oral histories, while also celebrating the joys of living ‘life out loud’ and where we’re going as a community.”…..WGN-AM, Chicago host and contributor Dane Neal will broadcast live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday (5/30), 6:30 am to 10:00 am, leading up to WGN’s coverage of the 105th Indianapolis 500. IMS president J. Douglas Boles says, “We welcome Dane Neal and WGN back home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 105th Running of the Indy 500 for a live pre-race show followed by the live race broadcast. Chicago’s Very Own has such a rich tradition with the ‘500’ and the Speedway, as it was a broadcast pioneer by starting its coverage of the race nearly 100 years ago.”…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs” show is added to the program schedule at Ultimate Caps Inc’s KBFS-AM, Belle Fourche, South Dakota and KYDT-FM, Pine Haven, Wyoming.
San Jose Mass Shooting, COVID-19 Origin Controversy, January 6 Commission, Trump Org Grand Jury, Election Audits, Inflation Fears, Gaza Cease-Fire/Anti-Semitic Violence, Border Crisis, and Biden-Putin Meeting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/26). The shooting deaths of 8 people at a rail yard in San Jose; the growing call for investigation into the origin of the coronavirus and China’s pushback over the lab leak theory; the GOP’s hesitation over creating a January 6 Commission to investigate the Capitol invasion; Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. convenes a grand jury to consider indictments in the criminal investigation of the Trump Organization; the 2020 election audits taking place in New Hampshire and Arizona; soaring consumer prices and fears of inflation; the cease-fire in Gaza and instances of violence against Jews in the U.S. and abroad; the crush of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border; and the planned meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Merlin Media’s Philly FM Talker Debuts Today. News/talk outlet WWIQ-FM, Philadelphia (licensed to Camden, New Jersey) debuts its morning show today co-hosted by market TV news personality Larry Mendte (pictured here). Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning host (and Philly native) Al Gardner is co-hosting the program with Mendte. Over the weekend Mendte posted a YouTube video promoting the new station being operated by the innovative Randy Michaels and his Merlin Media. In it, Mendte asks Philadelphians to submit suggestions for the new station (ideas used could win the people who submit them Phillies tickets!). He also suggests the current news outlets – other stations, the newspapers and TV are outdated and/or in trouble financially and he believes WWIQ-FM will give listeners what they need. In the video, Mendte is clearly ribbing CBS Radio’s all-news KYW even though he doesn’t mention the company or station by name. See Mendte’s video here. WWIQ-FM has been stunting with wall-to-wall Sean Hannity for several weeks and today it’s believed the station will debut with the morning show, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. Rush Limbaugh is expected to move over from WPHT soon. Other programming has yet to be announced.
FCC Says “No Go” to Liberty Media’s SiriusXM Takeover Bid. Liberty Media had petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM after supplying $530 million to the satcaster in 2009 to help it avoid bankruptcy. But, as SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin said recently, “Forty percent is not the new 50 percent.” Liberty Media owns 40% of SiriusXM as a result of the 2009 deal but the FCC denied its request saying that Liberty’s filing lacked details and rejected its claim for control. During the recent SiriusXM Q1 conference call with analysts, Mel Karmazin stated the company’s relationship with Liberty was not “combative.” Liberty Media has five of the 13 seats on the SiriusXM board of directors.
WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas Names Ben Ferguson Late Morning Host. Cumulus Media’s WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas cut ties with market legend Mark Davis after the two sides were unable to agree on a new contract. Now, Memphis-based talk host Ben Ferguson is named permanent host of the 9:00 am to 11:00 am program. Ferguson had been filling in during the time slot since Davis left the air. He hosts the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm program at Cumulus Media’s WKIM-FM, Memphis and will continue to host that show as well. Additionally, Ferguson is the host of his own nationally syndicated weekend program that is heard on both WKIM-FM and WBAP-AM/FM. Ben Ferguson was the first recipient of the Young American Broadcasters‘ scholarship award given at the TALKERS New Media Seminar several years ago. Ferguson won the award while still in college and, due in part to winning the award, fulfilled his dream of becoming a working radio talk show host.
St. Louis Personality John Carney Joins News/Talk KTRS for Nights. Gateway City radio personality John Carney – son of the late KMOX, St. Louis legend Jack Carney – joins CH Holdings’ news/talk KTRS to host the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight program beginning June 4. Carney most recently was a jock at CBS Radio’s crosstown classic hits KEZK-FM – Fresh 102.5 – until he exited that station in April. He also worked at KMOX for 11 years prior to KEZK-FM. Carney’s addition to KTRS comes as the station shuffles its programming. Chicago-based talk host Steve Cochran had been hosting two programs on KTRS – 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm – in addition to his afternoon drive show at WIND, Chicago. Cochran will continue to host the late morning show. John Hadley’s sports talk show slides down to the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot and Martin Kilcoyne takes over the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show formerly hosted by JC Corcoran.
KTAR-FM, Phoenix and News Director Part Company. Bonneville International and news director Adam Thomas part ways after less than a year together. Thomas joined KTAR-FM in June of 2011 – Thomas moving west from Minneapolis where he’s worked at CBS Radio’s WCCO. Thomas had also worked for Bonneville at KSL, Salt Lake City prior to joining WCCO. Details on Thomas’ exit from KTAR-FM are few but it appears there’s a news director position to be filled in Phoenix.
WTDY, Madison Promotes Amy Barrilleaux. Mid-West Family Stations announces WTDY-AM/FM, Madison afternoon anchor and “Everything@Five” host Amy Barrilleaux is promoted to news director for the station. WTDY-AM/FM program director Rex Charger says, “I am pleased to announce Amy Barrilleaux as WTDY news director. Amy has been instrumental in helping grow our news product and brand and I look forward to her continued leadership in the newsroom. Amy will continue to anchor afternoon newscasts and host ‘Everything@Five.’”
Media Personality Jack Rice Hosts Weekend Talk Program in Twin Cities. Talk media personality Jack Rice – who left the daily talk radio business more than two years ago – returns to a regular talk program with his Sunday morning show on KTNF, Minneapolis airing from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. Jack Rice is a former CIA agent, a practicing attorney in Minneapolis and is regularly seen on such news/talk media outlets as MSNBC, CNN and Al Jazeera offering expert analysis on issues, especially those surrounding foreign intelligence and terrorism. He previously hosted daily talk shows on WCCO, Minneapolis and KOGO, San Diego. His investigative style of talk radio, his travels to the world’s hot spots and willingness to put himself in harm’s way to get the story earned him the Freedom of Speech Award from TALKERS magazine in 2009. Of his new program, Rice states, “I’m very excited to be back on the air on a regular basis. This business gets in your blood and once you’re in, you’re in. And while I recognize the realities of the business, nothing allows for a deep connection with an audience like radio.” Rice tells TALKERS he is exploring the possibility of developing a national program dedicated to international events including terrorism, the economic collapse in Europe, the Chinese economic juggernaut, the drug wars in Mexico and more. He says his experience as a former CIA officer and international journalist give him a unique experience and take on such events.
Dave Ramsey Live in Grand Rapids. Nationally syndicated personal finance talk sensation Dave Ramsey filled the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Saturday, May 5 for his “Total Money Makeover Live” event there – more than 8,000 fans attended. Ramsey is heard on news/talk WOOD-AM/FM and Clear Channel Grand Rapids market manager Tim Feagan says, “Having another sellout with Dave is the only way I know of for a news/talk station to touch thousands of our core listeners. Music stations can sometimes do it by owning a concert, but when it comes to the talk format Dave is it!” Pictured here during Ramsey’s visit to Grand Rapids are (from l-r): Feagan, Ramsey, WOOD general sales manager Henry Capogna, and WOOD program director Phil Tower.