Round Four of May PPM Survey Results Released. The fourth and final round of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM sweep has been released for 12 markets: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from these markets. After ballooning by more than four full-shares in April 2021 (5.6 – 9.7, +4.1, 6+), the highest (6+) gain by any station in all 48 PPM markets (March 2021 – April 2021), Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ relinquishes one-half share to 9.2 (6+). Even so, “Wisconsin’s Radio Station” is the solitary mainstream news/talker from these 12 metros to achieve #1 status (May 2021, 6+). Cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WISN “News Talk 1130” forfeits eight-tenths (7.4 – 6.6, fourth to third, 6+). In other head-to-head news/talk battles, iHeartMedia Raleigh’s WTKK “106.1 FM Talk” improves by two-tenths (5.0 – 5.2, seventh to sixth, 6+), while Curtis Media Group-owned WPTF “News Radio 680” gains three-tenths (1.8 – 2.1, #16 to #14, 6+). Nashville’s format share dips a combined seven-tenths: Cumulus Media’s WWTN “Super Talk 99.7” (7.1 – 6.7, third to fourth, 6+) and iHeartMedia-owned WLAC “Talk Radio 1510” 2.2 – 1.9, flat at #17, 6+) drop four-tenths and three-tenths, respectively. At the same that Cumulus Media Providence’s WPRO-AM & WEAN “News Talk 630 AM & 99.7 FM” sheds two-tenths (4.8 – 4.6, sixth to seventh, 6+), cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WHJJ “News Radio 920” improves by that margin (.7 – .9, #21 to #19, 6+). West Palm Beach is a completely mixed bag: iHeartMedia’s WJNO “News Radio 1290” is up one-half share (3.0 – 3.5, ninth to seventh, 6+); cluster-mate WZZR “92.1 Real Radio” surrenders eight-tenths (2.0 – 1.2, #13 to #17, 6+); and Hubbard Broadcasting-owned WFTL “News Talk 850” is flat at 2.0 (steady at #13, 6+). Three Hartford news/talk facilities populate the top 20: Audacy’s WTIC-AM “News Talk 1080” (5.1 – 4.7, -.4, flat at #8, 6+); Red Wolf Broadcasting-owned WDRC-AM “The Talk of Connecticut” (1.0 – .8, -.2, stays at #15); and iHeartMedia’s WPOP “News Radio 1410 AM & 100.9 FM” (unchanged at .2, #18 to #17, 6+). Read Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (and the three previous market groups) here.
Saga Communications Declares A Quarterly Cash Dividend Of $.16 per share. The dividend will be paid in about four weeks (7/16) to shareholders of record on June 30, 2021. It will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet. Including this dividend, Saga Communications will have paid over $72 million in dividends to shareholders since the first special dividend nine years ago (2012). Saga currently intends to pay regular quarterly cash dividends as declared by the board of directors. Going forward, the board may also consider declaring special cash dividends, stock dividends, and stock buybacks.
Media Consultant (and TALKERS columnist) Holland Cooke Ties-the-Knot. Moments after filing this week’s TALKERS Monday Memo column, noted media consultant and TV talk show host Holland Cooke was married to his longtime friend, Sarah Collins. The happy couple is pictured at their private ceremony in Key West, Florida. Ms. Collins is a financial analyst and fellow New Englander.
Audacy Expands Crooked Media Partnership. It does so by carrying “Lovett or Leave It” across Audacy original station Channel Q and the LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network. The podcast will be heard each Monday from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm on Channel Q stations in 32 markets and via the Audacy app, effective next week (6/28). “Lovett or Leave It” is hosted by former President Barack Obama’s speechwriter Jon Lovett and features guests that include comedians, actors, journalists, activists, and politicians. Audacy executive vice president of programming Jeff Sottolano remarks, “The show’s quick and witty flair for discussing the most relevant topics surrounding today’s political and pop culture landscapes is what differentiates itself; we look forward to welcoming the show to the Channel Q family.” Crooked Media senior vice president of programming Sandy Girard states the podcast is “where Jon Lovett talks about everything from the most pressing political and social issues to what everyone is bingeing on TV, to the latest trends in scientific advancement – all with his incredibly intelligent and hilarious point of view. We’re so excited to expand our partnership with Audacy to bring ‘Lovett or Leave It’ to even more listeners around the country and to kick it off with our special Pride episode ‘Out of The Closets and Into the Streets.’” Popular “Lovett or Leave It” segments include “The Rant Wheel,” where each guest delivers a prepared rant to a hot cultural topic, and “The High Notes,” where listeners share personal anecdotes about finding optimism in these challenging times. Lovett co-founded progressive media company Crooked Media with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor in 2017. He co-created the NBC-TV comedy “1600 Penn” and wrote speeches for former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Newsmax Adds Ellis, Gidley. Former senior legal adviser/personal counsel to Donald Trump – Jenna Ellis – and onetime top official in the Trump White House – J. Hogan Gidley – join Newsmax as on-air television contributors. Newsmax chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy comments, “Jenna Ellis brings a sharp mind and pointed legal commentary and constitutional analysis to the workings of our court system as it works to defend our liberties and freedoms. She is a strong addition to our growing lineup. Few know the media, Washington and the future of the GOP better than Hogan Gidley – we’re glad to have him on Newsmax to offer our viewers his valuable insights.” Ellis opines, “Newsmax consistently gives viewers an independent perspective on the news of the day. I look forward to continuing to be part of their coverage and bringing the truth as Americans strive to have their voices heard.” Gidley adds, “I’m extremely grateful to Mr. Ruddy and Newsmax for this new and exciting opportunity. I will draw from my experiences in public service to provide Newsmax viewers my detailed analysis and unvarnished opinion regarding so many difficult issues facing the American people.” Ellis is special counsel with the Thomas More Society and allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Once the deputy district attorney in Colorado’s Weld County, she hosts a daily podcast, “Just The Truth.” Gidley was deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy White House press secretary in the Trump Administration. In 2020, he joined the Trump re-election campaign as national press secretary. He previously was communications director to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, senators Elizabeth Dole and Rick Santorum; and was executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party.
Komando To Deliver More Tech Insider Tips. Stemming from an increase in listener demand, Kim Komando will debut a one-minute “Komando Digital Life Tech Tip” in three weeks (7/21). The daily vignette will be offered to stations and streaming services without charge and will carry a 60-second commercial. Komando’s digital insider tips will reportedly include: how to stop robocalls by changing one smartphone setting; ransomware prevention secrets; and the best parental control smartphone apps. Talent management firm Sound Mind’s founder/president Kraig Kitchin comments that Komando – who writes a column for “USA Today” – is “entertaining and helpful; Kim continues to make great radio.” In addition to her weekend three-hour call-in “Kim Komando Show,” which airs on 420 stations (and the American Forces Radio Network) to an estimated 6.5 million listeners, she hosts “Daily Tech Update” seven mornings a week on 389 stations.
TALKERS News Notes: A three-hour CBS Audio Independence Day Special will be available for airing July 2 – 5. Among the topics/guests on the Gil Gross-hosted celebration of America’s Birthday are: Family-safe alternatives to DIY fireworks; behind the scenes of the Capitol Fourth of July Concert with the National Symphony; “The Men Who Lost America” author Andrew O’Shaughnessy on how Great Britain’s bad decision-making helped us win The Revolutionary War; Broadway/TV star Betty Buckley shares her thoughts about “1776, The Musical” reopening with an all-female cast; and Polish General Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s role in winning the war and his attempt to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves in order to set them free … Meanwhile, one of three ABC Audio specials to affiliates for use over the July 4th weekend includes ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Jason Nathanson-hosted “Press Play.” The three-hour special deals with ways Americans are having fun this summer as the country begins to reopen. It explores how people are entertaining themselves through the shows they’re watching, the music they’re listening to, and the activities they’re doing. In addition, “Press Play” highlights America’s most rapidly growing sport—Pickleball—and introduces listeners to some of its biggest fans.
Facebook Establishes Live Audio Rooms. Next steps were revealed yesterday (Monday, 6/21) as Facebook pushes into the social audio and podcasting spaces, taking aim at (among others) Clubhouse, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter Spaces. Per an Adweek report, the social media platform is “rolling out Live Audio Rooms on iOS for public figures and select Facebook groups in the United States, as well as making select podcasts available to U.S. listeners.” Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms offer a standard set of features. Event hosts appear in profile icons at the top of the screen; listeners appear in the bottom half as smaller icons. There is no limit on the number of listeners allowed in and as many as 50 people are able to speak at once. In addition to live captions, notifications are made when friends or followers join a room. Facebook will use automated technology and human reviewers to moderate content in Live Audio Rooms. According to CNET, “Users who repeatedly violate Facebook’s rules won’t be allowed to create or speak in a Live Audio Room.” Facebook is building new audio tools for creators to develop and launch “Soundbites,” or short-form audio clips that will launch later this year.
By Mike Kinosian
Situations though have become wildly frenetic in a calendar year that has already seen among countless other things:
- January impeachment trial of a first-term president that concluded with a February acquittal
- (Hopefully only) a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic that has taken a toll of American lives rapidly approaching 215,000, cratered the economy, and erased millions of jobs
- Presidential campaign unlike any other
- Significant racial injustice, protests, and rise of the “Black Lives Matter” movement
- West Coast wildfires and East Coast hurricanes
- Controversy over the evenhandedness of nominating a Supreme Court justice only weeks before a presidential election
- Brief/mysterious hospitalization of the sitting POTUS who tested positive for the coronavirus
Still to come in 2020’s more than two-and-one-half remaining months are the presidential election itself, not to mention the already anticipated precedent-setting intensity possibly contesting it.
Joe Walsh May Mount Primary Challenge Against Trump. Talk media personality and former U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) tells Politico that he’s seriously considering launching a Republican primary campaign to challenge President Trump for the nomination. Calling the president an “unfit, divider-in-chief,” Walsh tells the publication he believes he can raise the money to compete against the president. He adds that if he decides to run, he’ll make an announcement soon. Walsh hosts his eponymous 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET talk radio program syndicated by Salem Radio Network.
Sports Talker George Plaster to Return to Nashville Airwaves. Recently, Nashville sports media personality George Plaster went back on the radio in Nashville after a three-year stint as associate athletics director and Belmont College. But his gig with Grand Ole Opry’s WSM-AM lasted only one month. Now, The Tennessean reports that Plaster is joining Southern Wabash Communications’ sports talk WNSR-AM “Sportsradio 560” to host the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm show, effective September 3. Before Plaster left the radio biz to serve with Belmont College, he had served with Cumulus Media’s WWTN-FM and WGFX-FM, as well as Cromwell Group’s WPRT-FM as a sports talk host in the market.
PPM Analysis: MLB Flagships. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents the second of his four-part series looking at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s July PPM survey. Today’s report looks at stations that serve as MLB flagships. In it, see charts logging the changes in weekly, 6+ AQH share from the June survey to July’s; from July of 2018 to this year; based on market rank; and more here.
WLAC, Nashville Host Steve Gill Arrested for Non-Payment of Child Support. According to coverage in The Tennessean, talk host and conservative media personality Steve Gill was arrested on Tuesday (8/20) and placed in the Williamson County Jail for non-payment of child support to his ex-wife. The piece states that Gill, who hosts “The TN Star Gill Report” on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WLAC, Nashville, is being ordered by a county judge to pay Kathryn B. Gill $170,000 in support. The court is also ordering that Gill remain in jail until he pays the money owed. In January of this year, Kathryn Gill initiated a petition for civil contempt that sought $86,000 in child support, $4,400 in medical expenses, $133,000 in college expenses, and $11,000 for a car for the children’s use.
Epoch Times Responds to NBC/MSNBC Attacks with Scathing Rebuttal. Once again, NBC News has attacked the independent New York-based international news organization with Chinese roots, The Epoch Times, in a harsh “expose” based on its unwavering support of President Donald Trump, its non-traditional reporting on so-called “conspiracy theories,” its connection to the growing Chinese spiritual practice of Falun Gong, and its unambiguous opposition to the Chinese Communist Party. The article, written by NBC reporters Brandy Zadrozney and Ben Collins, posted Tuesday (8/20) is titled, “Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times.” It’s headline subtitle states, “Started almost two decades ago with a stated mission to ‘provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,’ The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet.” During the past year, The Epoch Times has gained significant popularity as a news and guest source among conservative talk media hosts for what they see as its fresh perspective on a wide array of hot topics, from the Mueller Report to the Southern Border immigration crisis. But, specifically, it is The Epoch Times’ first-hand connection to China and the growing importance of U.S.-China relations in the national conversation that have elevated it to must-read status among a growing number of conservative and independent media practitioners beefing up their intelligence in this rapidly emerging arena. In today’s online edition of The Epoch Times, the news organization responds with a point-by-point rebuttal penned by its editor-in-chief/US editions, Jasper Fakkert titled, “Why NBC, MSNBC’s Reporting on The Epoch Times is Textbook Fake News.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments, “This troubling media skirmish prompted by the NBC ‘expose’ of The Epoch Times is yet another example of a disturbing trend in which diverse news organizations are attacking each other based on political bias and journalistic practices for the sheer purpose of providing affirmation to their target audiences. It has become a widespread exercise of the pot calling the kettle black. We all know that there’s plenty to criticize about any media outlet in today’s highly polarized political arena – and that ‘cherry picking’ isolated issues and piling them up out of context into a damning case has become routine in today’s increasingly normal practice of seeking victory at the expense of truth. It is journalism’s brand of the kind of ‘negative campaigning’ that has turned politics into an odious form of mud wrestling.” Harrison continues, “My statement here is not to endorse nor oppose the editorial positions of The Epoch Times – I stay out of that kind of stuff – but rather to support the legitimacy of its role in the world media as one of the most influential outlets along the leading edge of the Chinese people’s resistance to the repressive Communist control of their homeland for the past 70 years.” To read the NBC story, please click here. To book an interview with editor Jasper Fakkert or a reporter from The Epoch Times please contact Victoria Jones of DC Radio Company at 202-227-7067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEEI-NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon Raises $3.5 Million for Cancer Charity. The past two days – August 20-21 – Entercom sports talk WEEI-Boston produced the 18th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon with cable TV partner New England Sports Network. This year’s radio-telethon helped raise $3,471,104 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Pictured above is Boston comic Lenny Clarke (center) with WEEI morning show personalities Greg Hill (right) and Danielle Murr (left).
Matt Senne to Lead Hubbard Radio’s Central Minnesota Cluster. Radio pro Matt Senne is named to the general manager position for Hubbard Broadcasting’s radio station group in the Alexandria and Wadena, Minnesota markets. Hubbard acquired the stations from Omni Broadcasting in a 2015 deal. Hubbard VP and regional manager Dan Seeman says, “I can’t tell you how excited we are to bring Matt into Hubbard Broadcasting. Matt‘s background provides the perfect fit for the experience, passion and creativity we need in the Alexandria and Wadena markets. He comes from a great family company at Leighton Broadcasting and we look forward to welcoming him to the Hubbard family and Hubbard Broadcasting.” Senne served with Leighton for 21 years, serving as morning show host, program director, operations manager and director of programming. Most recently he was the general manager for Leighton in Winona, Minnesota .
Sarah Huckabee Sanders Joining FOX News as Contributor. Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is joining FOX News as a contributor, effective September 6. Variety’s Brian Steinberg has the scoop here. Sanders has been Trump’s longest-serving White House press secretary, logging two years in the position. In this position she’ll make appearances on FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, FOX News Digital and the FOX Nation streaming service.
U.S.-China Trade War, Financial Markets Activity/Recession Fears, 2020 Presidential Race, Immigration Reform, U.S.-Israel Relations, Trump’s Greenland Purchase Controversy, and Sean Spicer-Dancing with the Stars Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/21). The tariffs the U.S. and China are placing on each other’s exports; the volatility of the world’s financial markets and the fears of a recession; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the Trump administration’s efforts to re-shape U.S. immigration and asylum rules; U.S.-Israel relations in the aftermath of the latter’s travel ban on U.S. Reps Tlaib and Omar; the controversy over Trump’s comments about buying Greenland; and the reactions to former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer’s appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Dana Cortez Talks with Chance the Rapper in Central Park. Nationally syndicated multi-media star Dana Cortez (right) is pictured above in Central Park in New York City chatting with Chance the Rapper (left) about his new album and his status as an expecting father preparing to go out on the road to support the record. “The Dana Cortez Show” is a cooperative effort of ABC Radio and Skyview Networks. See the video here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Los Angeles, KYSR-FM “ALT 98.7” imaging director Josh Jensen exits the station after a year. He moved to KYSR in 2018 after a lengthy gig at iHeartMedia’s rock WXTB “98 Rock” and country WUFS “US 103.5” in Tampa. Jenson plans to re-locate to Nashville while continuing to handle imaging duties for The Mix Group.