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Friday, December 18, 2020

| December 18, 2020

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, “The Good, The Bad, The Fake and The False,” looks back at this past week of December 14-18, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Dr. Daliah Wachs, talk show host, Genesis Communications Network/medical doctor; Christopher Ruddy, CEO, Newsmax TV; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston / founder Scamicide.com; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This 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, Denver “Freedom 93.7”; 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; 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.

Report: Wynter and Massey Show to Get 90-Day Tryout on WSB. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports that the weekend (and fill-in) show “Word on the Street” co-hosted by Shelley Wynter (right) and MalaniKai Massey (left) is getting a 90-day tryout in the nightly 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot on Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta that’s opening due to Clark Howard’s ending of his regular radio programs at WSB this month. The “Word on the Street” program launched in mid-2019 as a weekly show that became a Saturday and Sunday program. Wynter and Massey have also been filling in for other WSB shows. WSB program director Drew Anderssen tells the AJC, “As a result of the breakneck pace of news in 2020 the program has been on quite a bit, tackling tough issues while keeping audiences engaged.” “Word on the Street” has a conservative-versus-liberal aspect to it as Wynter is a Trump-supporting conservative versus Massey’s progressive demeanor, but it’s not too in-your-face. Wynter comments that he “wants the show to be a bit like friends hanging out at a bar.”

Detroit Lions Jump to Entercom’s WXYT-FM Starting Next Season. The NFL’s Detroit Lions have signed a multiyear deal with Entercom to make sports talk WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket” the flagship station for the team’s radio broadcasts beginning with the 2021 season. Under the current deal, Lions games are based at Cumulus Media’s WJR-AM, Detroit. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “The Lions are synonymous with the city of Detroit and this is a great opportunity to leverage our position as the unrivaled leaders in sports radio and deliver dynamic Lions content, both on game days and throughout the year. This partnership now makes ‘97.1 The Ticket’ the flagship station for all four professional sports teams in the Motor City, giving fans a one-stop destination for all of their favorite local teams.” As part of the deal, Entercom will manage the Lions Radio Network – an extensive radio network with more than 30 stations across Michigan and in northern Ohio. All Lions Radio Network programming, including live game broadcasts, pre- and postgame shows, regular season weekly shows and additional offseason programming will air exclusively on “97.1 The Ticket.”

Steve Sommers Re-Launches Overnight Show as ‘The Steve Sommers Overnight Drive.’ After his “America’s Truckin’ Network” program was cancelled by iHeartMedia’s WLW-Cincinnati early last month, Steve Sommers will re-launch his overnight talk program as “The Steve Sommers Overnight Drive” in a partnership with motor vehicle products company Lubrication Specialties Inc and its subsidiary Hot Shot’s Secret. In January Sommers will debut a new, five-hour live stream talk show (12:00 midnight to 5:00 am ET) direct from the brand-new Hot Shot’s Secret studios in the Cincinnati area. A press release says, “The initial motivation is to get Steve back on air as soon as possible, with long-term plans of massive distribution. More details on when and where to find the new program are coming soon.” Hot Shot’s Secret founder and CEO Chris Gabrelcik says, “Hot Shot’s Secret would not be here today if it was not for the persistence of Steve to give me some airtime on his overnight show many years ago when I was first starting the company. The five hours I spent in his studio that very first visit resulted in an avalanche of orders for our product and we have never looked back ever since. Hot Shot’s Secret is now the fastest growing performance lubricant company in the U.S. and I will never forget those early days when Steve was there for us when we needed it the most.” Sommers says, alluding to this past summer’s corporate dictate not to talk politics on his show, “I am excited to get back on the air. What you heard before from my show will be the same – frank talk. Trucking is a tough business, and so is radio. I actually started working in radio when I was just 15 years old in Cincinnati. Many relocations and radio stations later I had the opportunity to return to Ohio in 1996 to produce the radio show that my father Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers started back in 1984. I then took over the show in 2004 and have enjoyed every moment with my overnight listeners. This is my life. And right now, I can see that one good turn deserves another as my friend Chris Gabrelcik is doing whatever it takes to make this show a reality.”

KDWN, Las Vegas’ Steve Sanchez Named a ‘Top 30 Influencer.’ KDWN, Las Vegas early evening host Steve Sanchez has been named one of the “Top 30 Influencers” in Las Vegas by Las Vegas Entrepreneurs Magazine. Sanchez, whose show airs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on KDWN, was #25 on the list. He tells TALKERS magazine that earlier this year, his program was able to donate 1,000 30-day use facemasks to the Las Vegas Children’s Hospital. Sanchez, who spent that last three weeks battling COVID-19 and pneumonia, adds, “This was very much needed by them since we did this in May, right in the middle of this horrible pandemic.” Currently, Sanchez’s program is syndicated nationally by GCN, but he says he’s ending the syndication of his program next month to “concentrate on growing my show with KDWN, focus more on my social media and digital platforms, and entertain the TV offers coming to me.”

COVID-19 Stats, Vaccines, Prevention Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 14-18. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases, the rollout of vaccines, and policies for prevention combined as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the economy, stimulus talks, and business & school closings. Coming in at #3 was Donald Trump’s denial of his election loss and the Joe Biden transition. 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 from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Next month’s “iHeartRadio ALTer EGO Presented by Capital One” is taking place virtually due to the pandemic. iHeartMedia announces that the fourth annual alternative rock show set for January 28 will be hosted by Woody, host of the syndicated “Woody Show” and will feature all-new performances and stories from Billie Eilish and the Foo Fighters. In addition, it will include previous ALTer EGO performances from BeckThe Black Keysblink-182Cage The ElephantColdplayThe KillersMumford & SonsMusetwenty one pilots, and Weezer. It will livestream exclusively for free on LiveXLive.com, the LiveXLive mobile and OTT apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV and broadcast live across more than 80 iHeartMedia alternative and rock stations at 9:00 pm ET…..Michael Baisden announces he’s leaving radio at the end of the year and will discontinue syndication of his daily show. He will be replaced by “The Jeff Foxx Show with Keke Brown and Nina” on the Sun Broadcast Group’s network lineup. Baisden says, “Sun Broadcast Group has been an incredible network partner and their team, along with Mike Love, have worked diligently to grow my show for the past two years. Unfortunately, due to the historic issues we faced with COVID-19 and the subsequent economic crisis, it’s been challenging to grow affiliation and revenue for the show. To that end, ‘The Michael Baisden Show’ will not be returning for 2021.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

| November 11, 2020

LA Times: Post White House Talk Show Career for Trump? The Los Angeles Times published an article today (11/11) by entertainment/arts/media writer Stephen Battaglio speculating on industry chatter about the possibility of President Trump launching a talk media career after leaving the White House that would involve either starting his own television network or joining an existing operation such as FOX News Channel or Newsmax TV as the host of his own program. The article also touches upon Trump’s option of doing a daily talk show on radio – perhaps even replacing Rush Limbaugh if and when the superstar is forced to leave the airwaves due to his battle with lung cancer. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states in the article he does not think that would be a likely prospect. “With all due respect for the president, he cannot hold a candle to Rush when it comes to the demands and expectations of doing a high-profile, daily three-hour talk show, which requires hours of prep per day, an original take on the issues and the ability to connect the complex dots of presenting a thesis and then setting about supporting it in a cogent manner,” Harrison said. “Trump is a showman, but what Rush listeners expect is a much more sophisticated and nuanced approach to creating a meaningful listening experience than what it takes to hold court and mug over a campaign rally before thousands of adoring followers.” To read the entire article, please click here.

Beasley Media Group Enters into Distribution Deal with RADIO.COM. A deal between Entercom’s RADIO.COM platform and Beasley Media Group puts live-stream channels for each of Beasley’s 64 stations across 15 markets on RADIO.COM, along with all of its premium on-demand audio and podcasts. Entercom VP of business development Corey Podolsky says, “We’re delighted to bring Beasley Media Group aboard the RADIO.COM platform and its incredible stations across news, entertainment, music and sports. This partnership will give Beasley’s 20 million weekly listeners a new destination to consume their favorite audio content, while providing our existing consumers more options to satisfy their listening habits.” Beasley chief content officer Justin Chase says, “Beasley is proud to partner with our friends at Entercom and RADIO.COM. Listeners are consuming our content in more places than ever and we are excited to expand the distribution for our amazing brands on this first-class audio platform.”

WABC, New York ‘Ties a Yellow Ribbon’ in Honor of Veterans Day. Pictured above are singer Tony Orlando (left) and Red Apple Media owner John Catsimatidis (right) along with U.S. Marines tying a yellow ribbon on a tree outside the WABC, New York studios as a symbol of support for veterans and the military. Orlando, who recorded the 1973 hit “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree,” recently joined 77 WABC as part of its Saturday night music lineup, hosting a two-hour show that airs at 10:00 pm. All day today (11/11), TALKRADIO 77 WABC is saluting the brave men and women who served in the military with special Veterans Day programming that includes interviews with America’s heroes and their families. The station has been promoting its Veterans Day programming on the air and social media for several days, and distributed hundreds of TALKRADIO 77 WABC Yellow Ribbons to listeners who want to show their support.

TALKERS News Notes. After the cancellation of the “America’s Trucking Network” program hosted by Steve Sommers, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WLW, Cincinnati has filled the overnight slot with a talk program hosted by Dan Carroll. The ouster of Sommers is part of an ongoing reduction in force of employees at iHeartMedia that, according to a tally by radio trade AllAccess, has put almost 80 on-air and programming staffers in the unemployment line. It’s unclear how many behind-the-scenes employees have been affected…..Former ESPN Radio morning drive personality Mike Golic is the host of a newly created college sports trivia program produced by Learfield IMG College and Sidearm Sports called “The Fan Exam.” As reported by NJ.com, the free online program will air Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 pm ET on some 150 college athletics websites. Golic is quoted saying, “This sounds like fun. I’ve enjoyed calling the college [football] games. This opportunity came up and it reminded me of the ‘HQ Trivia’ game that was out for a while that I played all the time. So, this will be a lot of fun… Who doesn’t love to try to answer trivia questions? The beauty about this is you’re never eliminated through all the shows that we’re going to have. You can win for that week, there’s a cumulative score for the entire year. So even if you miss questions, it doesn’t matter. You still get to answer all twelve [questions]. Your score is logged — and you can win a bunch of different ways. It’s cool. You’re never out of it.”

Trump Refuses to Accept Election Results, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccine Quest, Trump Purges Pentagon, Georgia Runoff Elections, SCOTUS Hears Obamacare Arguments, and Tropical Storm Eta to Hit Florida Again Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/10). The challenges to the election results being put up by Donald Trump; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad and projections for winter cases; the race to produce an effective COVID vaccine and Pfizer’s statement its vaccine is 90% effective; President Trump fires numerous civilian Pentagon officials and installs loyalists in the posts; the January runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the U.S. Senate; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the Obamacare case; and Tropical Storm Eta on course to hit Florida again were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In honor of Veterans Day, Cumulus Media’s classic rock KCFX-FM, Kansas “101 The Fox,” along with Price Chopper and Cars4Heroes, are giving 11 cars to 11 veterans. A special ceremony takes place at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City and legendary Chiefs player Deron Cherry will present the car keys to these 11 local heroes. Cherry will be accompanied by many other Chiefs legends to personally thank the veterans for their service and for protecting our freedom. For 26 years, Cars4Heroes has been helping people in the Kansas City area. Terry Franz, who is affectionately referred to as “Car Santa,” is the founder and president of Cars4Heroes. He says, “If somebody is down and out you can go hand them some cash and fix everything for today, but the money goes away. When we give someone a car, it is a tool that changes their life! We are proud to salute and honor these veterans here today.”…..iHeartMedia Boston’s country WBWL “101.7 The Bull,” in partnership with WBTS-TV “NBC10” presents “One Night Only,” a night of live music to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on Saturday, November 21 at 7:00 pm ET on NBC10 Boston and live on “101.7 The Bull.” Artists performing will include: Kane Brown, Old Dominion, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Jon Pardi, Brett Eldredge, Jimmie Allen, Lauren Alaina, and special guest host Chrissy Metz of NBC’s “This Is Us.”…..Beasley Media Group’s classic rock WMGK-FM, in conjunction with City Team Philadelphia, is presenting the 19th Annual John DeBella Turkey Drop on Tuesday, November 24 at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Morning personality John DeBella will broadcast live from 6:00 am to 9:00 am and will accept monetary as well as turkey donations onsite. The John DeBella Turkey Drop is the largest, single day food gathering event in the City of Philadelphia. Last year’s collection raised over 11,000 turkeys.

Monday, November 9, 2020

| November 9, 2020

Pending Business: Sales Lessons from the Election Cycle. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in today’s column that presenting a concise, targeted message of your station’s benefits to prospects is crucial to making the sale and is ultimately more important than how many prospects you toss into the hopper. Read his column here.

Biden Declared 46th President/Trump Refuses to Concede, Georgia Runoff Elections, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccine, the Economy/Stimulus Deal, Tropical Storm Eta, and Alex Trebek Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Democratic challenger Joe Biden is declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election and President Trump’s refusal to concede the election; the January run-off elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the rising number of COVID cases in the U.S. and Europe, projections for the fall and winter months, and Pfizer’s announcement that its COVID vaccine appears to be 90% effective; the state of the U.S. economy and anticipation of a new stimulus deal; the arrival of Tropical Storm Eta in Florida; and longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek dies among top news/talk stories over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday Memo: 20-20 News. With the holidays looming, and as we are prepping perennial year-end retrospectives, it’s easy to wonder what-the-heck-NEXT? In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke offers a wider-angle shot, and simple suggestion for radio. Read it here.

Townsquare Media Q3 Net Revenue Down 15.3%. Third quarter earnings from Townsquare Media indicate the company is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic better than some of radio’s larger firms. Net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $95.4 million, a decrease of 15.3% from the same period in 2019. While advertising revenue was down $16 million or 17.2%, Townsquare Interactive net subscription revenue increased $2.3 million, or 14.5%, to $18.2 million. For obvious reasons, live events net revenue decreased $3.5 million, or 98.2%, to $0.1 million. Townsquare was able to post net income of $1.3 million for the quarter (compared to the $7.3 million in net income in Q3 2019) whereas many broadcasting companies are posting losses for the quarter. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “I am proud to share with you today that Townsquare’s third quarter results exceeded our expectations, driven by sequential net revenue improvement throughout the quarter as our business continued to accelerate despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Third quarter net revenue improved to a decline of -15.3%, as compared to the third quarter of the prior year, which was up from a decline of -34.5% in the second quarter. This translated to a strong increase in Adjusted EBITDA from $2.1 million in the second quarter to $17.5 million in the third quarter. Our better than anticipated third quarter results were due to gains in both our Townsquare Interactive and Advertising segments. Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing subscription business, has delivered net subscription revenue and subscriber growth each and every month of 2020, demonstrating its recession-resistant characteristics and proving to be valuable and a tremendous resource to local businesses. In the third quarter, Townsquare Interactive’s net revenue increased 14.5% over the prior year period, at an Adjusted Operating Income margin in excess of 30%, and added approximately 1,150 net subscribers, marking the 10th consecutive quarter of 850 (or more) net subscriber additions and the most quarterly net subscriber adds in nearly six years. Improvement across our Advertising segment was broad based, as revenue declines improved from -37.5% in the second quarter to -17.2% in the third quarter, each as compared to the prior year. Broadcast advertising net revenue sequentially improved throughout the quarter, with and without political revenue, and digital advertising net revenue returned to growth in the third quarter, driven by positive net revenue growth from Townsquare Ignite (+10% year over year), our digital programmatic advertising solution, and AMPED (+9% year over year), advertising revenue associated with our owned and operated local websites. In total, our digital net revenue exceeded 44% of our total net revenue in Q3 2020, and we remain confident that Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite will each generate $100 million of annual net revenue in two to three years… Although 2020 has been a challenging year, we are proud that we did not need to alter our core strategy.  Rather, we believe the pandemic has allowed us to separate from our local media peers by placing a spotlight on the success of our strategy.  Our focus on underserved small and mid-sized local markets, our investment and commitment to our ‘Local First strategy, and our investment in world class personnel, technology and infrastructure that allowed us to build a strong digital platform with best of breed products, services and solutions that contributes 44% of our total revenue, have all contributed to our ability to mitigate revenue declines and manage quite effectively through this downturn. We believe these actions will position Townsquare to quickly emerge from this crisis and return to our market leading performance quickly once this crisis abates.”

iHeartMedia Cuts Hit WLW, Cincinnati’s Steve Sommers. WVXU, Cincinnati’s John Kiesewetter reports that longtime “America’s Truckin’ Network” host Steve Sommers is a victim of the current downsizing taking place at iHeartMedia. The overnight program has aired on WLW, Cincinnati since it was launched by Sommers’ father, Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers, in 1984. As Kiesewetter notes, Steve Sommers joined his father on the program in 1996 and took over the program in 2004. Sommers posted to Facebook: “I have been DISMISSED from I-Heart Radio… I’m sorry my friends… 2020 is a bitch!!! I will not have a chance to say GOOD-BYE!!! Thanks for 25 years of friendship!!” It’s unclear what the status of the overnight program is as the “America’s Truckin’ Network” – along with Sommers’ photo – is still listed on the WLW website.

TALKERS News Notes. Washington, DC’s WTOP is partnering with longtime market crime reporter Paul Wagner for a new podcast titled, “Murder in a Safe Place.” Wagner has worked for WTTG-TV “FOX5 News” for the past 20 years covering cases including the murder of Congressional intern Chandra Levy to the Mansion Murders and the police-involved shooting of motorcyclist Terrence Sterling. He served as a reporter at WTOP from 1989 to 1999. In this series, Wagner examines a local cold case from 22 years ago: the murder of Sherry Crandell, a 50-year-old hospital worker who was brutally assaulted and later found dead in her office at Prince George’s Hospital Center. WTOP director of news and programming Julia Ziegler says, “Paul is a part of the WTOP family, and we are so excited to partner with him on this project. This 22-year-old cold case is a horrific and baffling one that will have listeners asking questions. Our hope is that through the reach of this podcast, we can bring closure to this case and the Crandell family.”…..iHeartMedia and the Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg-co-founded Pushkin Industries enter into a co-production and distribution agreement that will make iHeartMedia the exclusive sales partner for Pushkin’s catalog of podcasts that includes “Revisionist History,” “Broken Record,” “The Happiness Lab with Laurie Santos,” and many others. As part of this deal, iHeartMedia and Pushkin Industries will co-produce a slate of new, original podcasts over the next two years. Gladwell says, “We started Pushkin to share the joy Jacob and I have found in creating and producing podcasts. Working with the team at iHeart will allow us to spread this joy at an even bigger scale.”…..AdLarge Media and National Sports Network unveil their slate of NCAA basketball games for the 2020-2021 season for radio. Last month, AdLarge was announced as the exclusive ad sales partner for the NCAA basketball games on the National Sports Network. The networks will air the Creighton Bluejays vs the Kansas Jayhawks on December 8 and the Gonzaga Bulldogs taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes on December 19.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro Zannie Glover, a.k.a. Zannie K, is named program director for Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WMGC “105.1 the BOUNCE” and urban contemporary WDMK “105.9 KISS-FM,” effective December 1. Zannie K was most recently program director at non-commercial KMOJ-FM, Minneapolis as well as was the associate program director and nationwide night talent for Westwood One’s classic hip hop format…..Urban One Columbus enters into a Local Marketing Agreement with Southern Ohio Broadcasting to operate WWCD-FM, Columbus and launches a regional Mexican/tropical format branded as “La Grande 102.5 FM.” Urban One RVP Eddie Harrell Jr. says, “We are pleased to expand our footprint again in Central Ohio by reaching the fastest growing segment of the population, inclusive of the Mexican community and growing Central and South American communities. Combined with our African American targeted radio/television assets, we are now the largest single source provider of content to African Americans and Spanish speaking residents in Central Ohio.”…..Entercom’s rock outlet KISW-FM, Seattle is presenting the sixth annual “Live Day” tomorrow (11/10). This year’s completely live, virtual event will feature broadcasts of the station’s morning show “BJ & Migs” and afternoon show “The Men’s Room” with no recorded commercials, sound effects or music. Fifteen bands from across the Northwest and multiple voices from across the country will perform throughout the 12-hour program. KISW brand manager Dave Richards says, “For the KISW audience, 2020 wouldn’t be complete without the annual entertainment spectacular, ‘Live Day.’ This year, every artist and performer will participate virtually and distanced. Thank you, technology.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

| September 15, 2020

Van Harden Announces Retirement from WHO-AM, Des Moines in January. Thirty-four-year WHO, Des Moines morning personality Van Harden announced he’s retiring from the station on January 8, 2021, capping a 50-year radio career. In a public statement, iHeartMedia notes that during Van Harden’s time at WHO, he’s won five Marconi awards for his work as the host of the morning show and has been inducted along with co-host Bonnie Lucas into the Iowa Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Harden says, “I know people will ask why I am retiring. My answer is, after 50 years, why not? For years people have asked me if I ever think about retirement and I have told them, ‘Yes, at 2:45 weekday mornings.’ Getting up has been the biggest challenge of the job and it has gotten more difficult as time has gone on, but I wouldn’t trade any of those past mornings for anything. I want to deeply thank my past co-hosts and good friends, Patti Christensen, Connie Murad, and Bonnie Lucas, especially Bonnie, after putting in 25 years of her own, for being such fabulous on-air partners. I could make a huge list of incredible co-workers from the past 50 years that have made this an amazing ride. Besides the on-air shows it was a great honor to be the program director of WHO for 30 years and of KXNO from the day we put it on the air as a sports station. It has been a privilege to have hired and worked with so many talented people on both stations.”

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. In today’s report from TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian, he notes that news/talk stations in PPM markets have been remarkably consistent in their 6+ AQH share increases this year over last. Based on Nielsen Audio’s data, 64% of news/talk outlets in PPM markets were up August 2019 – August 2020. For the two previous surveys, growth was very similar as is evidenced by the 65% up from July 2019 – July 2020 and the 68% up from June 2019 – June 2020. Returning to the August data, 55% of news/talk stations were up from July 2020 to August 2020 with iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati (+2.3), WTAM, Cleveland (+2.0), and WISN, Milwaukee (+1.8) leading gainers. Joining WLW and WISN as #1-ranked stations in their respective markets in August were Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta and Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle. Mike Kinosian also provides cume data in this report and notes that 54% of news/talk stations in PPM markets showed improved cume from the July 2020 survey to August 2020 with Nexstar Media Group’s WGN, Chicago leading the gainers. See his complete report here.

Minnesota Public Radio Reporter Quits in Solidarity with Victims of Air Personality. According to a report by WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Radio news reporter Marianne Combs resigned her position with the public media company after her editors did not run her investigative piece about the actions of an unnamed air personality at sister triple A station KCMP, Minneapolis “The Current.” Combs tells WCCO-TV that she spent two months speaking to eight women who were “sexually manipulated and psychologically abused” by the staffer. Combs says that she was told that although editors found the behavior “creepy,” it did not rise to the level of illegality and was therefore not worthy of news coverage. MPR president Duchesne Drew told WCCO-TV that they are “blindsided” by her resignation and believed she was continuing to work on it but that he stands by his editors’ decisions. He also adds that editors discussed with Combs how to strengthen the story to allow it to “meet our standards.”

Jim Meyer to Retire from SiriusXM CEO Position. After seven years as chief executive officer of SiriusXM, James E. Meyer announces he intends to retire on December 31, 2020. Meyer was named CEO in April of 2013 after serving as interim CEO since the previous December. Under his watch, revenue has more than doubled to an expected $7.7 billion and the number of subscribers has grown to 34.3 million. SiriusXM says that current president of sales, marketing and operations Jennifer C. Witz will become CEO. Meyer will remain on the company’s board of directors and will serve as vice chairman. Board chair Gregory Maffei says, “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Jim for his outstanding service, helping to create the leader in audio entertainment in North America. During his tenure as CEO, SiriusXM has grown to become a diversified audio entertainment provider that is poised to reach more than 150 million people, the largest addressable digital audio audience in North America. We are a better company for his stewardship. We look forward to continuing to work with him on the board and to build on SiriusXM’s strong momentum.” At the same time, SiriusXM announces that David J. Frear will leave the EVP and chief financial officer position to pursue other opportunities and Sean S. Sullivan is appointed to that role. Sullivan has been serving in a similar capacity for AMC Networks since 2011.

Salem Radio Network News Presents September 29 Debate Coverage. When the first presidential debate takes place on Tuesday, September 29 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Salem Radio Network is presenting live coverage. SRN begins coverage with an hourlong “SRN Debate Preview” hosted by nationally syndicated SRN talk host Hugh Hewitt, joined by special guests and SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston. The debate itself runs with no commercial breaks from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm and will be followed by a “SRN Debate Wrap-Up” at 10:30 hosted by Hewitt. SRN VP/News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup says, “Excitement in anticipation of this first 2020 debate has been building for months. With the polls tightening and no teleprompters on stage, our debate coverage promises to highlight the first gloves-off, no-holds-barred encounter between these two candidates for the highest office in America.”

Hurley in the Morning Charity Passes $1 Million Mark. With last Friday’s 13th Annual “Hurley in the Morning” Charity Golf Tournament at The Harbor Pines Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey in the books, the charity founded by WPGG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley pushes the charity’s total funds raised since its inception past the $1 million mark. Hurley says, “The latest installment generated more than $50,000, which has enabled the ‘Hurley in the Morning’ Charity to surpass $1 million raised in our history. We are so grateful for the amazing support that we have received over the years. It’s also very gratifying that we have proven that you can safely and responsibly hold an outdoor event during the pandemic. The annual charity event was modified to respect social distancing and was made as contactless as is humanly possible.”

The Presidential Race, Western Wildfires/Climate Change Debate, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, PA Protests/BLM Movement, Facebook Whistleblower Memo, Iran Assassination Plot, and Hurricane Sally Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/14). The November presidential election; the wildfires raging in California, Oregon, and Washington and the debate over climate change and its effect on the wildfires; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the protests in Lancaster, Pennsylvania after police kill a knife-wielding man; a Facebook whistleblower’s memo about the company’s challenges dealing with voter manipulation; President Trump warns Iran after rumors of its intent to assassinate an American ambassador; and Hurricane Sally’s projected path into the Gulf Coast were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Jim Richmond Named Director of Sales for Bonneville Seattle. Sales pro Jim Richmond is named director of sales for the Bonneville Seattle Media Group. Richmond was most recently general sales manager for Entercom San Francisco and assumes the role held by Cathy Cangiano prior to her promotion to SVP and market manager. She says, “I believe Jim Richmond’s experience, combined with his business acumen and strong leadership skills are well aligned to capitalize on opportunities that we have identified as integral to our success. In addition to his responsibilities leading the sales teams, he will be a key contributor to our Leadership Team and our constant efforts to align with Bonneville’s purpose.”

TALKERS News Notes. Broadcaster and journalist Rita Cosby is named the chair of the Global Service Institute at Long Island University.  In this role, Cosby will lead the Institute’s “game-changing and innovative educational initiatives to inspire a timely commitment toward volunteerism and elevate the importance and power of service. During this unprecedented moment with the economic devastation caused by the virus, the need for volunteers to assist drastically depleted nonprofit organizations has never been greater.” LIU president Dr. Kimberly R. Cline says, “The Global Service Institute established LIU as a premier destination for developing values-driven global citizens who will impact their communities. With her global experience exploring critical headlines and lifelong dedication to service, Rita Cosby is an exemplary leader who will elevate the Institute to even higher levels.”…..This week’s Westwood One blog examines a number of Nielsen case studies that indicate AM/FM radio ad campaigns lift TV viewership. The studies compare those who had been exposed to AM/FM radio ads for TV tune-in with people who had not heard the ads. The studies show that while on-network promos and paid TV buys reach heavy TV viewers, AM/FM radio TV tune-in campaigns reach medium and light TV viewers. In one case, the returning season of a scripted cable drama ran an AM/FM radio campaign that represented only 5% of the media plan but generated 20% of the total campaign impressions. 70% of the AM/FM radio impressions were from persons 18-54, while half of the paid TV and TV promo impressions were from persons 55+…..iHeartRadio and Treefort Media announce a new docuseries podcast titled, “DRAFTED,” that follows top college football players as they prepare to enter the NFL Draft. The program is produced in association with Klutch Sports Group and is narrated by Emmy-winning actor Keegan-Michael Key. He says, “I’m excited to be part of this series because it gives mega fans like myself intimate access and insight into the world of these incredible athletes. It’s really special to be able to hear everything they’re going through, and experience their nerves, excitement and tension leading up to one of the biggest events of their lives. I look forward to every moment.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. An internal memo from Entercom chief operating officer Susan Larkin reveals the company’s “hub-and-spoke” programming philosophy for its alternative and country radio stations. As a reduction-in-force for air talent and programmers takes place, we learn that Entercom is creating national and regional program hosts for certain dayparts and is realigning its programming management. For country, Tim Roberts is named format captain/VP of country programming with John Foxx and Kevin Callahan serving as regional vice presidents. Marci Braun, Justin Cole, and Scott Roddy are named regional brand managers. On air, Katie Neal is the national midday host and “Rob and Holly” are national night hosts. In the alternative format, Mike Kaplan is format captain/SVP of alternative programming with Matt Malone, Christine Malovetz, and Leslie Scott serving as regional vice presidents of programming. Regional brand managers are Bailey and Bryce Segall. Kevan Kenney is the national night host and regional on-air personalities are: “Cane and Corey” for mornings, “Church of Lazlo” in afternoons, and morning shows “Dave and Mahoney,” “Gregr,” and “Stryker and Klein.”…..Country radio personality Shawn Parr begins hosting the Camping World Concert Series “Taking the Highways Across America” tonight, featuring the legendary country group Alabama. Parr hosts the Key Networkssyndicated “Shawn Parr’s Across the Country” program. He’ll host the 10-week virtual concert series that will feature such country acts as Martina McBride, Chris Young, Ricky Skaggs and Steven Curtis Chapman, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady A, Brett Young, Little Big Town, and Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Parr says, “I am SO excited to team up with Camping World and host their virtual concert series, ‘Taking the Highways Across America!’ We are having a ball bringing it to all of our affiliates and fans ‘Across The Country!’ Plus, we are hitting the road for some NEW adventures in the Parr-V very soon.”…..Beasley Media Group announces that Charlie Maxx is promoted to production director and assistant program director at country WXTU-FM, Philadelphia. She also hosts the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show. Program director Mark Razz says, “Charlie has a depth of experience that will be so helpful in her expanded role her at 92.5XTU. I look forward to putting our heads together to move the station forward.” In addition, WXTU promotes Jennifer “JJ” Scordo to production staffer and weekend personality.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

| July 23, 2020

TALKERS Marks 30th Anniversary Today. It was 30 years ago today – July 23, 1990 – that TALKERS was launched as “The Information-Radio Newspaper.”  It first appeared as a tabloid-style, 12-page newsprint publication distributed to radio stations around the country by mail and eventually grew into a full-color, glossy magazine and, eventually, a multi-platform communications organization. Over the decades, TALKERS has produced 22 annual national talk media conventions in New York City plus several “bonus” conferences in Los Angeles. At those conferences, a number of the publication’s annual awards were presented, including the coveted TALKERS magazine Freedom of Speech Award. TALKERS magazine was a pioneer in producing radio row events that began in the mid-1990s. The organization also presented numerous talk media forums in Washington, DC and New York featuring talk personalities discussing important issues of the day. Many of those were aired on C-SPAN. As digital media became inextricably intertwined with radio and television, TALKERS itself evolved into a multimedia platform presenting video elements via Talkers TV and launching Talkers Radio. Annual features, including the “100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America,” a.k.a. the Heavy Hundred (and later its sports talk radio sister list), have become highly anticipated presentations within the industry. Upon reaching this milestone, founder Michael Harrison stated, “TALKERS is a reflection of my lifelong fascination with and love of radio, as well as my core devotion to the tenets of the First Amendment. It has come very far during these three decades and most of the credit for its remarkable longevity and adherence to quality has been to the credit of its devoted core staff (in alphabetical order) – David BernsteinKevin CaseyMarcia DalyMatthew B. HarrisonAl HerskovitzMike KinosianBarbara Kurland, and Steve Weisman with a special salute to the late Sharon L. Harrison.  Add to that list our loyal advertisers and sponsors, our talented contributing writers, as well as our readers.  The radio and its related media industries have been extremely kind to us and, for that blessing, I am eternally grateful.”

‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ Host Fred Toucher Off the Air for Medical Help. The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reports that WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive co-host Fred Toucher is off the air for the time being as he deals with personal issues that were revealed during the July 21 program. Toucher posted to his Instagram account: “First of all thank you to the listeners that have my back. For some reason I want you guys to know I have never been drunk on the air [management has never accused me of such] I am going to a mental institution next week. I am sometimes too forthcoming on the air. I’m used to just being honest about my life but when you are a f*ckup that isn’t such a good idea.” Finn reports that Toucher confessed he’s going through a divorce on the Tuesday morning program discussion that he describes as “unsettling.” Co-host Rich Shertenlieb suggested he take some time off the air and offered to take a leave with him. However, on Wednesday’s program, Shertenlieb told listeners Toucher is taking some time off and they can’t wait for his return. Beasley Media Group issued the following statement to the paper: “As a responsible company committed to the Boston Community, we take this matter very seriously. Fred will be off the air while we continue to review the situation.”

WLW, Cincinnati-Based “America’s Truckin’ Network” to Avoid Political Discussion. In a move that’s clearly a sign of the times, the overnight program “America’s Truckin’ Network” has been ordered by management to steer clear of political discussions. The show is nationally syndicated and available via SiriusXM but is produced at iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati and hosted by Steve Sommers (son of program founder Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers). Sommers tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jim Calhoun that after complaints to corporate headquarters in San Antonio about a caller’s comments that aired, he was held responsible for the comments that shouldn’t have aired and was given a warning. He’s also been told to refrain from politics and stick to issues relevant to the trucking audience. iHeartMedia Cincinnati SVP of programming Scott Reinhart issued the following statement to the Enquirer: “The ATN has been on the air for over 30 years. We regularly review all our shows to ensure they provide the best and most compelling programming, and we have always relied on comments and feedback from our listeners to help us make these decisions.”

Cume & Coronavirus (Part 3). TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian continues his analysis of ratings data for spoken-word radio stations based on information from Nielsen Audio’s June 2020 PPM survey. After looking at 6+ cume data for the all-news and sports talk formats in parts one and two, today Mike Kinosian turns to the news/talk format. When it comes to cume (versus AQH share), two news/talk stations stand above the rest based on June numbers – iHeartMedia’s KFI, Los Angeles (747,600) and Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta (709,800). In this report, see comparisons of cume from the May 2020 survey to the June 2020 survey – which stations went up and which went down – as well as charts showing cume by market rank and more.  See it here.

Entercom Seeking Vice President of News Candidates. Posted on Entercom’s website in its career opportunities section is a notice seeking applicants for a new corporate position, VP, News. The post states, “The VP, News is responsible for overseeing all news content across Entercom’s best-in-class local news brands and via the RADIO.COM platform. The ideal candidate has experience managing both broadcast and digital news operations and is adept at leading through change and innovation.” Among the duties that are part of this position are managing “all broadcast and digital news content across 8 All News and 18 News/Talk stations in 23 markets working with brand managers and news directors across the country.” The post adds, “This role is for a hands-on leader and self-starter who is relentless in his/her quest for excellence in journalism. This role will require strong business acumen and the ability to drive results leading market-based teams across the country and in our corporate offices in Philadelphia and New York.” Read the post here.

iHeartMedia and Will Ferrell Partner for New Comedy Podcast Network. Comedian Will Ferrell and iHeartMedia are announcing their new deal that will bring the initial six co-produced podcasts to the Big Money Players Network of comedy podcasts that will be heard on the iHeartRadio platform later this year. The programs include “Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang”; “Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Podcast” in collaboration with The Lonely Island and Comedy Bang Bang; “My Momma Told Me with Langston Kerman”; “POOG with Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak”; “Bald Talk” hosted by Brian Huskey and Charlie Sanders; and “True Romance with Carolina Barlow and Devin Leary.” Will Ferrell comments, “The iHeartPodcast Network really knows how to make a podcast. In addition to the creative minds working behind the scenes, the network has an unprecedented ability to reach millions of new podcast listeners. These first few shows for Big Money Players Network will set the standard for the type of high-quality comedy podcasts we’re striving to produce with this collaboration.”

TALKERS News Notes. The “Kim Komando Daily Tech Update” is expanding to seven-days-per-week delivery. Komando says, “As our country was forced to work from home, unemployment soared and parents became teachers, ‘The Kim Komando Show’ and programs became more popular than ever. We pivoted to focus on providing COVID-19 much-needed digital life advice and assistance to our listeners, offering inspiration and confidence to all.” As a result of demand, the “Daily Tech Update” goes from five days per week to seven with the Saturday and Sunday editions being delivered just like the weekday editions…..Today (7/23) on SiriusXM’s Business Radio channel, a special program titled “The Business of Sports Reopening During a Pandemic” which will air from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET.  Dan Loney, host of “Wharton Business Daily,” leads the discussion and speaks with high-ranking executives in the world of sports, including: Houston Texans president Jamey Rootes, San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer, agent Drew Rosenhaus, and more…..Chicago media reporter Robert Feder writes that Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM is eliminating the creative services manager position at the news/talk station and Chris Duffy exits after more than 10 years there. As Feder notes, Duffy was one of the staffers brought aboard when former Clear Channel Radio president Randy Michaels assumed the CEO role at Tribune, former owner of the station, in 2007. Duffy posted on Facebook, “After over 10 years, three Stanley Cups, one Cubs World Championship, working with some of the absolute best in the business, yesterday I closed the book on WGN Radio. It will always be the pinnacle of my radio career.”…..PodcastOne and Violet Benson come to terms on a deal to bring Benson’s podcast “Too Tired to Be Crazy” to the network. The podcast features Benson and a wide swath of friends, guests, and frequent co-hosts chatting about topics ranging from living and dating in Los Angeles, to millennial life, to pop culture news perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of today…..WAPT-TV, Jackson reports the death of civil rights activist and talk show host Charles Evers, who passed away on Wednesday (7/22) at the age of 97. Evers was the older brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers. In addition to his lifelong work on civil rights, Charles Evers owned and operated WMPR-FM, Jackson, Mississippi for many years. He hosted the “Let’s Talk” program on the station for decades.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Fall School Plans, U.S.-China Tensions/Hacking Allegations, Portland Protests/Chicago Violence, Federal Agents Controversy, GOP COVID Stimulus Plan, and MLB Season Opens Today Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/22). The soaring number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases; debate over plans to return children to schools this fall; tensions between the U.S. and China as the latter’s consulate in Houston is ordered closed and feds seek a Chinese scientist believed to have lied on her visa application; the protests taking place in Portland and the violence on Chicago’s streets; the controversy over President Trump’s use of federal troops to combat protestors; the Republican plan for COVID-19 relief and stimulus; and Major League Baseball begins the 2020 season today were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Legendary Moody Blues Member John Lodge Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The venerable British bass guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the Moody Blues, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” John Lodge is the writer of Moody Blues hits that include “Ride My See-Saw,” “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band),” “Isn’t Life Strange?” and many more. This musical legend has been performing and recording with the Moody Blues for more than five decades, selling in excess of 70 million albums. He’s been voted one of the “10 most influential bass players on the planet,” and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious music industry awards. Although he primarily lives in London, Harrison caught up with Lodge via phone at his condo in Naples, Florida where he’s been isolating from COVID-19 for the past four months and during which time he wrote and recorded a new song titled “In These Crazy Times (Isolation Mix).” Harrison (an album rock radio pioneer) and Lodge talk about a wide range of topics including the recording of the groundbreaking album “Days of Future Passed,” their personal encounters with Dr. Timothy Leary (“Legend of a Mind”) and the psychedelic era, changes in popular music over the years, and the impact COVID-19 is having on live music and theater. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Former “American Idol” contestant and current WKLB, Boston “Country 102.5” morning drive co-host Ayla Brown will be featured singing the National Anthem at a future NBA game in Orlando. Beasley Media Group says Brown has performed the Anthem for every major sport in Boston and was the Celtics’ “Lucky Anthem Singer” when the team won the 2008 National Championship. She says, “Growing up in Massachusetts and being a former basketball player for Boston College, my dream was always to step on the court at the Garden. While I never got to lace up the sneakers for a game, singing the National Anthem over the years for the team has always been the highest honor. Thank you to the Boston Celtics for this wonderful opportunity!”…..On-air pro Christy is exiting Pamal Broadcasting’s CHR WFLY-FM, Albany “FLY 92” because of her husband’s relocation to the Boston area. She was part of “The Fly Morning Rush With Jake & Christy.” As a result, program director Ally Reid is seeking a new morning drive co-host. Interested candidates should email her at ally@fly92.com.