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Thursday, April 28, 2022

| April 28, 2022

SiriusXM Host Joe Madison is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Civil rights activist, author, speaker and radio talk show host Joe Madison is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Since 1980, “The Black Eagle” has hosted shows at such outstanding outlets as WXYZ, Detroit; WWDB-FM, Philadelphia; WWRC, Washington, DC; and WOL – also in the nation’s capital. He’s been nationally syndicated by Radio One and is now well into his second decade hosting the morning show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Urban View channel. Madison was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2019. He is the leading civil rights activist broadcaster in America whose main platform is talk radio. He’s conducted high-profile hunger strikes to bring attention to causes he supports and has been arrested at demonstrations. He is a prolific public speaker and inspiration to people seeking racial equality and justice in America. The 72-year-old thought leader has received numerous honors over the years including the prestigious TALKERS Freedom of Speech Award in 2008. Joe Madison is currently the highest-ranked African American personality on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America (#5). Now, with David Canton, he has written a long-awaited book about his life and career titled, Radio Active: A Memoir of Advocacy in Action, on the Air and in the Streets. Harrison and Madison take a deep dive into the ongoing turbulence of race relations in America. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, click here.

 

FCC’s Carr Says Agency Has No Authority in Twitter Acquisition. Responding to the Open Markets Institute’s appeal to the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission to block the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr issued a terse statement: “The FCC has no authority to block Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, and to suggest otherwise is absurd. I would welcome the full FCC making it clear that we will not entertain these types of frivolous arguments.” The Open Markets Institute says in its statement, “The most obvious problem is that the deal would give to a single man – one who already wields immense political and economic power – direct control over one of world’s most important platforms for public communications and debate. As has been true from the Founding, the American people have an absolute right to ensure the full openness and neutrality of all essential public infrastructure. Specific to communications, we see this in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, in the Telegraph acts of 1860 and 1866, the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910, the Communications Act of 1934, and many other federal and state laws. Americans have also repeatedly used our antitrust laws to prevent concentrations of power over communications, speech, debate, and news.” Read the organization’s release here.

 

Hall of Famer Brett Favre to Join ESPN Milwaukee for Weekly Segment. Green Bay Packers great and NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre is joining Good Karma Brands’ Milwaukee stations for a weekly segment during this fall’s 2022 NFL season. Beginning August 29, the 30-minute interview will air every Monday morning at 7:30 am on WKTI-FM “94.5 ESPN” Milwaukee’s “Jen, Gabe & Chewy” program featuring Packers Hall of Fame inductee Mark Chmura. The interview will be replayed on other ESPN Wisconsin shows, “Newsradio 620” WTMJ, WGKB-AM/W269DL “101.7 The Truth” and Good Karma Brands’ digital platforms. Good Karma VP and market manager Steve Wexler says, “We are excited about our coverage of the team this season, which will include pre-game and post-game shows, expanded hospitality at our Tundra Trio hospitality homes in Green Bay, and the exclusive appearance of Brett Favre on our stations. Brett will bring his unique perspective and experience to our programming and we can’t to hear his takes.”

 

WMVP-AM, Chicago Adds Courtney Cronin as Bears Reporter and Fill-In Host. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Good Karma Brands’ sports talk WMVP-AM “ESPN 1000” adds Courtney Cronin to the staff to serve as a Chicago Bears reporter and on-air fill-in host during the football season. Feder notes that she had been serving with ESPN covering the Minnesota Vikings prior to returning to her native Chicago to cover the Bears. WMVP director of content Danny Zederman is quoted saying, “We are thrilled to welcome Courtney to our ESPN Chicago family. She is well connected in NFL circles and will bring our fans the Bears information they desire. In addition to her reporting, our fans are going to enjoy what Courtney has to offer as a radio host, where she’ll talk all things Chicago sports.”

 

NAB2022: Employee Wellness and Mental Health. “Because COVID-19 was unlike anything we’ve experienced, they called it ‘a novel coronavirus.’” So, consultant Holland Cooke, recalls “we went into a better-safe-than-sorry mode with lasting consequences,” including in the radio workplace. One NAB Show panelist offers advice. Read it here.

 

Retired AURN Executive Jerry Lopes Dies. Former American Urban Radio Networks executive Gerald A. “Jerry” Lopes died on April 23. Lopes served with AURN for almost four decades, retiring in 2018 as president of programming and affiliations. AURN issued a statement saying, “We cherished his dedication to news, entertainment, and sports. As a valued member of the AURN team and a strong advocate for Black radio in general, Jerry Lopes served on the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters board for over 10 years. A few of his most notable accomplishments were securing and broadcasting an interview between then presidents Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela in 1994, live on-site accounts of the Challenger explosion, and a live broadcast of the ‘Million Man March.’ In addition, Jerry shepherded the production of the radio versions of ‘Lou Rawls Parade of Stars’ for the United Negro College Fund and writing and producing various health and voting rights information pieces in conjunction with NABOB. Jerry’s passion for Historically Black Colleges and Black College Football led him to spearhead a 40-plus-year program of scholarships for student-athletes, The Black College All American, which celebrated students’ contributions on and off the field.”

 

TALKERS News Notes. “FOX Weather,” FOX News Media’s free ad-supported streaming television weather service is expanding its reach to FOX News Audio, launching a new daily podcast as well as offering hourly weather updates on FOX News Headlines 24/7 starting at 6:00 am ET on Monday, May 2. Featuring a rotation of FOX Weather meteorologists, the “FOX Weather Update Podcast” will provide multiple weather updates throughout the day. As the first podcast from the weather service which launched last October, the program will also include breaking news coverage on major systems impacting the country…..Telecommunications law professional Gregg Skall is moderating a live webinar for Independent Broadcasters Association members on Thursday, May 5 at 4:00 pm ET. The webinar, “Best Practices for Political Broadcast Advertising” will “identify and clarify the FCC rules and regulations that will keep your stations compliant, while generating revenue from political.” Skall says, “I’m excited to speak to the members of the IBA and detail the critical FCC rules and regulations for political broadcast advertising. We’re heading into an active political season and knowledge of the rules and regulations will help keep IBA-member stations out of trouble.” Learn more about IBA here…..Glass Podcasts and iHeartMedia announce the launch of the eight-part, true-crime podcast series, “Betrayal.” The series is “the story of TV producer Jenifer Faison whose picture-perfect marriage completely shatters in the blink of an eye when she suddenly discovers that her college sweetheart-turned-doting husband is not the person she thought he was. After seven years of marriage, Faison came home from work one afternoon to find her house searched and her husband arrested for the continued sexual assault of a student. In ‘Betrayal,’ Faison investigates the hidden story behind the story, revealing a dark, double-life fueled by dozens often sordid and simultaneous affairs with friends, neighbors and strangers, dating back to the week they were married.”.….ABC Audio announces its new literary podcast, “The Book Case,” hosted by longtime ABC News journalist Charlie Gibson and his daughter Kate Gibson. The first episode, posting on 5/2, features a conversation with television icon Oprah Winfrey, who discusses the impact of her book club on American readership, her own reading habits, and how she makes her picks. Each week, the father-daughter duo will provide hand-selected recommendations and sit down with a prominent or up-and-coming author, book industry insider or literary influencer.

 

Russia-Ukraine War/Trevor Reed Released, the Economy/Recession Fears, Musk & Twitter, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, Urban Crime, Western Drought-Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the global repercussions, and the prisoner swap that brought U.S. Marine Trevor Reed home from Russia; the financial markets activity, the high price of food and gas, and predictions of a deep recession; Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter; the battle for control of Congress in November’s midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the growing rate of urban violent crime; and the drought affecting the U.S. West and the spring wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

| March 2, 2022

iHeartMedia Unveils New ‘Talkback’ Feature. The company has launched a new feature that allows listeners to engage with iHeartRadio personalities by recording themselves via the iHeartRadio mobile app and sending to the host or station. Dubbed “Talkback,” iHeartMedia says this “first-of-its-kind feature also makes it simple for listeners to pause their listening, join in the conversation or make a request using their voice, and then seamlessly unpause and return them back to the content they were listening to.” iHeartRadio chief product officer Chris Williams says, “We’re excited to give listeners a truly groundbreaking new way to engage with their favorite iHeartRadio hosts and personalities. Talkback is a direct line for our listeners to connect, join in the conversation and help shape what you hear across iHeart platforms like never before.” The company adds that soon Talkback will be expanded to include podcasts as well, giving podcast fans access to their favorite hosts, as well as the opportunity to influence future episodes.

 

Cumulus Promotes Keith Liesmann to RVP, Arkansas. In Arkansas, Cumulus Media promotes Keith Liesmann to the newly created position of regional vice president, in which he’ll oversee the company’s 16 stations in the state. Liesmann will continue to serve in his current role as market manager for the Cumulus Little Rock station group that includes news/talk KARN-FM. He’ll add responsibility for the oversight of Cumulus radio stations in Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas with the vice president/market manager of those markets reporting to him. Cumulus Media president of operations Bob Walker says, “Keith is a strategic and focused leader who has done a wonderful job in Little Rock, especially given the challenges all of us have had to overcome in the last two years. We are eager to see the positive impact all of our Arkansas stations will have working together under Keith’s leadership.”

 

Ostrowski Promoted to Executive Producer for White Sox Radio Network. Radio production pro Eric Ostrowski is promoted by Good Karma Brands and WVMP, Chicago “ESPN 1000” to the executive producer position for the White Sox Radio Network. Ostrowski has been with the station since 2014 and most recently was producer of the evening “Bleck & Abdalla” program starring Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla. Ostrowski takes over the role from Ryan Maguire, who recently moved to Good Karma’s Milwaukee operations as director of content for WTMJ, WKTI-FM, and WGKB-AM/W269DL “The Truth.” Maguire says of Ostrowski, “I can’t think of a better person for this role because he understands every aspect of our broadcasts, is extremely organized and is very creative. His passion for White Sox baseball and positive energy were infectious during the 2021 season. Len Kasper, Darrin Jackson, Connor McKnight, our fans, partners and growing network of affiliates are in good hands.”

 

Triton Digital Releases January Streaming Rankers. The Streaming Metrics Monthly Rankers for January 2022 are released by Triton Digital. The rankers are computed based on Average Active Sesions (AAS), with Session Starts (SS), and Average Time Spent Listening (ATSL) also included. In the U.S., #1 publisher of streaming content (6am-12am, Mon-Sun) based on Average Active Sessions is iHeartMedia. Following in order are NPR Member Stations at #2, Audacy at #3, and Cumulus Streaming Network at #4. Other broadcasting companies ranking in the top 25 include Beasley Broadcasting Corporate at #7, Hubbard Broadcasting at #8, and Salem Communications at #11. See the complete report here.

 

ABC News Promotes Stacia Philips Deshishku to Executive Editor and SVP. Rising from her role as leading the ABC Audio division is Stacia Philips Deshishku, who is named executive editor and senior vice president for ABC News. In this new role, she’ll lead the editorial, strategic and creative cross-platform direction across the news division. She’ll also collaborate with the leaders of “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight with David Muir,” “The View,” “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” “20/20,” “Tamron Hall” and “Nightline,” as well as bookings and integrated content strategy. ABC News president Kim Godwin says, “Stacia steps into this role after leading our ABC Audio team for nearly three years as vice president and general manager. At Audio, Stacia’s leadership and journalistic skills helped re-brand ABC Radio to ABC Audio within six months of her appointment. She spearheaded new business opportunities, including growing its award-winning podcast library and designing a suite of digital audio, text and video businesses. During her tenure ABC Audio won a groundbreaking five Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2021, including Overall Excellence, Breaking News Coverage, Continuing Coverage, News Series, and Investigative Reporting.”

 

Multimedia Firm Rebrands as The Mediacasters LLC. Media firm The Femcasters, led by Corinna Bellizzi and Julie Lokun, rebrands as The Mediacasters, LLC. The company says its goal is to elevate the voices of an underserved entrepreneurial community by offering tools, guidance, mentorship, and resources to those that don’t have access due to financial limitations. Bellizzi and Lokun say they saw a need for small business support with the migration of dissatisfied employees resigning from their corporate jobs to the entrepreneurial space as an effect of the 2021 Great Resignation. Their strategic growth plan for their clients harnesses the intersection of publishing, podcasting, and presenting – the 3Ps – as a tactical approach to leveraging expertise and distinguishing small businesses from their competition. Lokun adds, “We saw a deficit in the skill set of entrepreneurs and creatives as they maneuvered their business growth plan. We know the power of leveraging your brand and expertise can be overwhelming, we also are certain that publishing, podcasting, and presenting on stages is critical to carving out your industry niche.”

 

Russia’s Ukraine Invasion, State of the Union, COVID-19, The Economy/Inflation, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, UN Climate Report, and MLB Lockout Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/1). Russia’s continued attacks on the Ukraine and the rest of the world’s response; Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address by President Joe Biden; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the relaxing of mask mandates; financial markets activity and the high retail prices for consumer goods and gas; the battle for control of Congress in the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the dire warning on the effects of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and Major League Baseball cancels Opening Day games as negotiations between owners and players stalls were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

| March 31, 2021

Watergate Co-Conspirator and Talk Show Host G. Gordon Liddy Dead at 90. Former talk radio host, author, and Watergate break-in architect G. Gordon Liddy died yesterday (3/30) in Mount Vernon, Virginia at the age of 90. Liddy’s son Tom told The New York Times that his father had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and had been in declining health recently. G. Gordon Liddy famously made the transition into the talk radio business in the early 1990s after then-Infinity chief Mel Karmazin heard him subbing on a talk radio show and offered him the midday show at the company’s hot talk WJFK-FM, Washington, DC – a station that at the time aired Howard Stern in mornings and Don & Mike in afternoons. Liddy’s program would later move into national syndication via Westwood One. He moved his syndication to Radio America in 2003. He retired from his regular radio program in July of 2012.

Remembering G. Gordon Liddy. On the occasion of the death of G. Gordon Liddy, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents an overview of Liddy’s colorful career based on a profile piece he wrote while serving as special features editor for the radio trade publication Inside Radio in 2004. In the piece, speaking about his radio career, Liddy told Kinosian, “I hope I’ve changed for the better and have [improved] at what I do. It’s like playing golf: The more you do something, the better you get at it. If I spend as many hours playing golf each day as I do with the radio show, I might have a fair game.” Read Kinosian’s story here.

Pictured above is TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (left) presenting the Freedom of Speech Award to G. Gordon Liddy (right).

FLASHBACK 1995 – G. Gordon Liddy was at the Center of a Talk Radio First Amendment Award Controversy. In 1995, the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts (NARTSH) – a pivotal industry trade association that played an active role in the “modern era” rise of talk radio between the late 1980s through the 1990s – presented then-syndicated radio personality G. Gordon Liddy with its annual Freedom of Speech Award (the same award still presented annually by TALKERS magazine). The award was (and still is) non-partisan and has been presented over the decades to a variety of personalities ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Al FrankenMark Levin to Thom HartmannHoward Stern to Karen Hunter and Sean Hannity to Joe Madison. It has been awarded to broadcasters from both sides of the American political divide who have demonstrated through their words, deeds and courage the First Amendment in action, its purpose and how it operates.  Liddy received the award that year for facing a lot of heat in the aftermath of remarks he made on the air pertaining to the then-explosive controversy over how Americans can use their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves from armed federal agents breaking into their homes with the intent of shooting them first and asking questions later. This grew out of the activities occurring at the time prompted by the tensions building during the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas and other related tragic events involving the BATF. Needless to say, it was wildly controversial and a major test for talk radio in establishing a standard for its position on the First Amendment. The award was presented that year at the NARTSH Convention in Houston. To view Liddy’s acceptance speech at the Kennedy Space Center (including attorney and then KABC, Los Angeles talk show host Gloria Allred’s one-woman protest demonstration) please click here. To view a clip from a luncheon that took place at that same contentious convention in which convention chairman Michael Harrison stood up to U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) over his call for NARTSH members to boycott the Liddy award presentation, please click here.

Update on Jail Status of ‘Free Talk Live’ Host Ian Freeman. In an interview with “Free Talk Live” co-owner, co-host, and head of sales Mark Edge, TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison gets the latest on the legal status of co-host Ian Freeman and the federal government’s charges against him. Yesterday (3/30), TALKERS published a summary of the story from the Manchester Union-Leader that included news of the government’s charges against Freeman that include fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. In addition to an update from Edge on the charges against Freeman, this interview contains some fascinating information, background, and insights into Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Listen to it here.

Brad Lane Returns to Twin Cities as WCCO-AM Brand Manager. Programming pro Brad Lane is named brand manager for Audacy’s news/talk WCCO-AM, effective April 19. Lane was most recently serving Good Karma Brands as director of content for news/talk WTMJ-AM and sports talk WKTI-FM/WAUK-AM “ESPN Milwaukee.” Prior to that, he spent 20 years at Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM in numerous capacities, including as program director. Audacy Minneapolis SVP and market manager Shannon Knoepke says, “WCCO Radio serves as an extremely important news brand for the people of the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota who rely on us to be informative, timely, relevant and entertaining. Brad brings a wealth of experience leading content teams and his leadership and vision will be instrumental to the success of our station. We’re looking forward to adding him to the team.”

KROF, Lafayette Adds ‘Todd Starnes Show’ for Early Afternoons. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is added to the program lineup at Townsquare Media’s KROF-AM, Lafayette, Louisiana “TalkRadio 960” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. The program will also be broadcast on the company’s sister sports talk station KPEL-AM. Both stations will also air the short-form daily program “Todd Starnes News & Commentary.”

Ramsey Show Passes One Billion Downloads Mark. Over the course of the last 15 years, “The Ramsey Show” podcast with Dave Ramsey and his team of co-hosts has surpassed one billion downloads, what the Ramsey Network says is a rare milestone reached by only a handful of podcasts in the world. In addition, callers have paid off $500 million dollars in debt since the podcast began 15 years ago. Each weekday, “The Ramsey Show” podcast produces three episodes heard across every platform. Ramsey Network EVP Brian Mayfield says, “We’re teachers at the core. And podcasts are an extremely useful medium, giving us another megaphone to reach people. We’ve never seen anything grow the way the podcast world has grown, so we see tremendous opportunity there to continue to increase our audience.”

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Takes Station of the Year Honors. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk outlet WSGW-AM/FM “100.5 & 790 Newsradio” is named Medium Market Station of the Year by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. This is the seventh time the Alpha Media station has earned Station of the Year honors from the MAB. Operations manager, Dave Maurer states, “This past year was challenging in our part of Michigan with a devastating flood that hit in May and captured the headlines for much of the year. This was on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections which were huge stories that demanded much of our staff’s focus. We are pleased that our team’s performance has won recognition for the quality of content gathered in difficult circumstances.” In addition to Station of the Year, WSGW won 12 other awards including six Best of Show and six Merit Awards in the MAB Broadcast Excellence Awards competition.

Jaleigh Long Officially to Lead Cox Media Group Atlanta and Athens. Sales and management pro Jaleigh Long has been interim market manager for Cox Media Group’s Atlanta and Athens, Georgia markets since earlier this year and now the company officially appoints her VP and market manager. The clusters include news/talk giant WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta; news/talk WGAU-AM/W254CJ, Athens; sports talk WREF-AM, Athens “960 The Ref”; and seven music brands. Long comments, “I am abundantly proud and honored to lead this group of industry-defining stations. The great work we do in all areas of the business every day is making an impact on our audiences, advertisers, and communities we serve. The power of radio is exhilarating and fortunately we get to experience that firsthand each day through the powerful programming, compelling promotions, and important community initiatives that define and underscore CMG’s purpose.”

Keith Lawless to Lead Cox Media Group’s Tampa and Houston Markets. Broadcast executive Keith Lawless is promoted to regional vice president of Cox Media Group Tampa + Houston. He’s been serving as VP and market manager for the company’s Tampa cluster since 2009. Cox Media Group Radio SVP Rob Babin comments, “I am thrilled to announce Keith Lawless as regional vice president over two of CMG Radio’s key markets, CMG Tampa and now CMG Houston. Keith has demonstrated an unwavering commitment for many years and has made an incredible impact on CMG Tampa and successfully led many CMG Radio strategic initiatives. His passion for his team, CMG Radio, and our industry make him the ideal leader to take on the role of RVP.”

Tampa Radio Figure Tedd Webb Dies at 72. Longtime Tampa radio personality Tedd Webb died on Tuesday (3/30), a week after entering hospice following a long illness. WFLA-AM reports Webb’s passing, noting that he was a host at the station for more than 30 years. He co-hosted the “AM Tampa Bay” program with Jack Harris beginning in 1994 and ending in 2017 when Webb retired. Webb was born Henry Ruiz – son of Cuban immigrants – in Tampa and began his radio career at the age of 14. He was a music DJ for the first 15 years of his career before transitioning to talk. He hosted a sports talk show, worked with Nanci Donnellan “The Fabulous Sports Babe,” and as part of WFLA’s “Gardner and Company” morning show before partnering with Harris for “AM Tampa Bay.”

COVID-19 Stats/Variants/Vaccines, WHO COVID Report, Biden Stimulus-Infrastructure Plan, Violence Against Asians, Border Crisis-Immigration Policy, Derek Chauvin Trial, Voting Legislation, Trump Website, and Matt Gaetz Allegation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/30). The number of COVID-10 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; scrutiny of the WHO COVID origin report and criticism of China’s cooperation; President Biden’s $2 trillion economic stimulus and infrastructure plan; the brutal beating of a 64-year-old woman in New York and more reports of assaults on Asian Americans; the crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; Georgia’s new voting rules and the Democrats’ push for expanded voting rights laws; Donald and Melania Trump launch a new website; and the allegations against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of sexual relations with a minor were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

| January 28, 2021

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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

| August 19, 2020

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. Compared to the July 2019 PPM survey from Nielsen Audio, 65% of news/talk stations had better weekly, 6+ AQH shares in the July 2020 PPM survey, according to our report from TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian. Looking at ratings increases from the June 2020 PPM survey to the July 2020 survey, 43% of news/talk stations were down, with 35% improving. Gainers from June to July were led by iHeartMedia’s KSTE-AM, Sacramento (+1.2 for a 3.0 share). Back to the year-over-year comparison, Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta was the top gainer, adding 4.0 shares to post a 10.6 share, good for the #1 rank in Atlanta. Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington also climbed to the #1 spot (from #6 in 2019) on the strength of an 8.4 share (+3.1). Joining WSB and WMAL in the #1 club in July was Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle after finishing the July survey with a 7.1 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Air Personality Changes at Sports Talk WKTI-FM, Milwaukee. According to a piece in the Milwaukee Business Journal, the new program schedule at Good Karma Brands’ sports talk WKTI-FM, Milwaukee “ESPN 94.5” includes ESPN television personality Jen Lada joining the 7:00 am to 9:00 am show alongside co-hosts Gabe Neitzel and former Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura. Lada is prominent on ESPN’s “College Game Day” and “College Football Live” broadcasts. Other changes at the station include the move of Steve “The Homer” True’s show from the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm daypart to the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot. He’s also being joined by new co-host Tony Smith. In the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot is Greg Scalzo and Ben Brust simulcast from Good Karma’s WTLX-FM, Madison. Good Karma general manager Steve Wexler says of the Scalzo and Brust show, “It’s a very high-energy — and we think super-entertaining — afternoon show. They had really great success on our Madison ESPN station.”

Dave Andreesen Upped to Director of Programming and Ops for Binnie Media’s News/Talk and Sports Stations. Programmer Dave Andreesen is promoted to director of programming & operations for news-talk-sports brands at Binnie Media. Andreesen has been based at the company’s Dover, New Hampshire stations. Company vice president of programming Heath Cole states, “Dave has been an amazing captain of our Dover, NH properties and I’m extremely proud of what he and Mike Pomp have accomplished over the years. Dave will continue in his role with [news/talk] WTSN, Dover as well as [news/talk/sports] ‘107.7 The Pulse’ WTPL-FM, Concord.” Andreesen adds, “It’s an honor to continue in a new role at WTSN, one of the oldest radio stations in the state with a long history of local programming and the personalities who have set the standard for broadcasting. And WTPL is a powerhouse of locally originating programming led by a group of exceptional broadcasters with decades of experience who give the community a voice. Binnie Media is proud to be the home of the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots in these two markets.”

Jules Riley Named Operations Director for CMG Jacksonville. Programming pro Jules Riley joins Cox Media Group Jacksonville as operations director for the eight-brand cluster that includes news/talk WOKV-FM, sports talk WOKV-AM “ESPN 690” and six music brands. Riley was most recently SVP of programming at iHeartMedia’s St. Louis cluster. CMG Jacksonville vice president and general manager Katie Reid comments, “Jules brings a wealth of experience and talent to CMG Jacksonville. We are extremely excited she will be leading and growing our team, our brands and the future of our programming.”

TALKERS News Notes. Variety is reporting that former PBS personality Tavis Smiley is being ordered by a Washington, DC court to pay the Public Broadcasting Service $2.6 million after being found guilty of breach of contract. The jury found Smiley guilty of having numerous affairs with subordinates in violation of the morals clause of his contract. The jury awarded PBS $1.5 million for the costs and underwriting revenue for the last two seasons of his talk show. A judge tacked on $1.1 million in damages…..The Props Network and JAKIB Media Partners announce a deal for an exclusive partnership between golf podcasters “The Tour Junkies” and “The Tony Bruno Show w/ Harry Mayes” for the former to provide the radio show with weekly golf content. Bruno says, “We have golf action-yo. Weekly, we will bring you the most comprehensive golf coverage as part of ‘The Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes.’ Our show is unpredictable and this content will deliver listeners the in-depth knowledge and insight that is a cornerstone of our program.”…..The Seneca Women Podcast Network, iHeartRadio and P&G announce the premiere of “Seneca’s 100 Women to Hear,” an original 100-episode podcast spotlighting women who have positively impacted and created change across all sectors of society. The series launched Tuesday (8/18) with an episode spotlighting abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. New episodes will drop over nine consecutive days, through August 26 on Women’s Equality Day, and then move to twice weekly starting in September…..PodcastOne, a subsidiary of LiveXLive Media, Inc., announces a new video podcast deal with actress, model, and influencer Amanda Cerny and award-winning Bollywood actress and social media star Jacqueline Fernandez. Launching later this summer on both PodcastOne and LiveXLive’s platforms, “FEELS GOOD” w/ Amanda Cerny and Jacqueline Fernandez “brings these two lost sisters from different sides of the world together to give global weekly inspiring news story updates alongside insightful reviews, unexpected guests, conversations about sex, dating, wellness, and culture, while delivering to audiences what ‘feels good.’”

Radio Execs Make Big Stock Investments in Their Companies. Recently, two executives at major audio media firms have added large amounts of their companies’ stock to their personal portfolios.  Entercom chairman David Field just added more than 121,000 shares of Entercom stock, paying $1.6 per share and totaling $195,000. This adds 4.9% to Field’s share of Entercom’s stock, according to Yahoo! Finance. On August 14, iHeartMedia filed a Form 4 with the Securities Exchange Commission to report that company CFO and COO Richard Bressler purchased, via the company’s Employee Stock Option plan, $4.14 million worth of its Class A Common Stock (416,500 shares at $8.98 per share).

Presidential Race/DNC, USPS Crisis/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections/Campus Flare-Ups, Fall School Openings, Senate Russian Interference Report, Financial Markets Gains, Anderson Cooper-Mike Lindell Spat, and California Wildfires-Blackouts Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/18). The November presidential election and night two of the Democratic National Convention; the U.S. Postal Service funding crisis and the related criticism of mail-in voting by President Trump; the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and projections for future cases and the related reports of flare-ups at some college campuses; the debate over school openings in September; the latest Senate report concluding that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election; U.S. financial markets hit highs erasing the spring pandemic losses; the tense exchange between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell over Lindell’s promotion of oleandrin as a cure for COVID-19; and the Southwestern heatwave and California wildfires 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. The syndicated rock morning drive program “The Billy Madison Show” is now being represented for ad sales and affiliate sales by Key Networks. The program – based at Cox Media Group’s rock KISS-FM, San Antonio – was originally a cooperative effort between CMG and Nineball Radio. United Stations Radio Networks acquired Nineball in 2016 and had been syndicating it since. It’s heard in the Palm Springs, Corpus Christi, and Salisbury, Maryland markets. Key Networks president and COO Jim Higgins says, “Billy Madison and his team work really hard and deliver a unique brand of passion and humor that has generated huge ratings and revenue for KISS-FM in San Antonio and Billy’s other affiliates. Key Networks is proud to now market his program and get it the recognition and additional stations and listeners that it deserves.”…..Maine’s Binnie Media promotes programming pro Leif Erickson to director of programming and operations for the classic hits FRANK format airing on the company’s WFNK-FM, Lewiston/Portland and WBQX, Rockland. Erickson says, “My predecessor, Stan Bennett, built a powerful brand and taught me a lot. After 15 years of being his right-hand man, it’s an honor to step up and take the reins. Frank FM has been my passion, and I’m excited to keep our winning streak going, aided of course by the best team in the Portland market.”