Anti-Vaxxer Bernier Loses Three-Week COVID Fight. This time last week, we reported news/talk WWTN-FM, Nashville afternoon drive personality Phil Valentine’s COVID-19-related death. Now, another conservative radio host who publicly spoke out against COVID-19 vaccines has died from the coronavirus: Marc Bernier, 65, passed away Saturday (8/28) after a nearly month-long battle against the virus. A Daytona Beach market fixture for more than three decades, the Rhode Island native who characterized himself as “Mr. Anti-Vax” did a morning commentary; a three-hour afternoon program; weekend shows; and specials for Southern Stone Communications news/talk WNDB “AM 1150 & FM 93.5.” The station released news of Bernier’s death on its Twitter account by stating, “It is with great sadness that [we] announce the passing of Marc Bernier, who informed and entertained listeners on WNDB for over 30 years.” After being off-the-air for a week, Bernier entered the hospital on August 7. In an article published in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Mark Harper points out that Bernier, “interviewed countless governors, senators, mayors, sheriffs, journalists, historians and authors. He also was an outspoken opponent of vaccinations.” Sports Network International vice president Justin Gates co-hosted “Weekend Around the House” with Bernier and was the best man at Bernier’s wedding. Gates was quoted as saying that Bernier gave “all sides” and wouldn’t “bully, throw punches, do potshots, or anything for ratings – that’s why he [was] so popular.” A guest on Bernier’s WNDB radio show the past 15 years, Volusia County sheriff Mike Chitwood comments, “I’m numb – this is a death in the family to me. You don’t have to agree with everything a person says for them to be your friend – I don’t think a lot of people get that. [Our] off-the-air banter was priceless. A great stress reliever for me was the things we would talk about, laugh about, and the jokes we would exchange. More than anything, I will miss how funny he could be, and how we’d try to one-up each other with funny anecdotal stories.” Florida-based CBS News Radio correspondent Peter King’s first radio news job was at WNDB and included anchoring on Bernier’s afternoon show. On his Facebook page, King writes, “I enjoyed working with him and we remained in touch for a while after that. Marc was the proverbial big fish in a small pond, becoming an integral and influential force in the community and really turning himself into a cottage industry that allowed him a wonderful quality of life in Daytona Beach. Whether you agreed with his points or not, he was always interesting; engaging; well-informed; involved; and a fine broadcaster. There was always room for more than just his opinion. I’m pretty sure that he helped make a lot of money for his radio station during his 30 years there. I was saddened to read reports that he was very publicly anti-vaccine on-air and was hospitalized with COVID; I’m even more saddened by his death.” After Bernier was hospitalized, WNDB operations director Mark McKinney was uncertain if the talk host was vaccinated. According to progressive news website/online tabloid Raw Story, McKinney remarked, “If you’ve listened to his show, you’ve heard him talk about how anti-vaccine he is on the air.” In his final tweet published on July 30, Bernier wrote that the United States government was “acting like Nazis because officials were urging people to get vaccinated.” WNDB emphasizes on Twitter, “We kindly ask that privacy is given to Marc’s family during this time of grief.”
Monday Memo: Which of These 7 Mistakes Are You Making On-Air? Validating the consultant caricature, Holland Cooke ticks-off what ticks-off listeners. Most of these are not intentional on the part of the talk host but they can signal a host who is not completely prepared, doesn’t hear things through the ears of the listener, or has acquired a bunch of bad habits, probably due to a lack of coaching. Read his column here.
Pending Business: Checking In. You’ve noticed how so many retailers “check-in” with you after your purchase – usually via email or text – to make sure you’re happy. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column about sales managers checking in with sales leads to make sure they are being served by the sales rep. He says this is not about micro-managing and most managers trust most of their reps, but there are several reasons the “Check-In” plays an important role in the sales process. Read his column here.
Dawn Stensland to Host Late Mornings at WPHT, Philadelphia. WPHT morning drive co-host Dawn Stensland is getting her own two-hour radio talk show from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon beginning September 7. She is currently co-anchor of the Audacy station’s morning drive “Rich Zeoli Show” and will continue in that role. Audacy Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “We’re excited to grow Dawn’s role with the station with the launch of her new midday show, where she will speak with top local newsmakers for in-depth analysis of stories that affect the Philadelphia region. Dawn’s show, along with an extra hour of Rich Zeoli, and Dom Giordano’s new program time extends our local content to nine hours, which allows us to best serve our local listeners, while continuing to deliver some of the biggest names on the national stage.” Stensland says, “I’m grateful to Rich Zeoli and his ‘army’ of loyal listeners for believing in me since I joined the show six years ago. I am so proud to work with Audacy and I’m also so thankful for their commitment to showcase a diverse collection of local voices as we engage with people across our region about the issues of the day and the news that impacts us here at home.”
KMVP-FM, Phoenix Makes AM Drive Change; Replaces ‘Doug and Wolf’ with ‘Bickley and Marotta.’ A series of programming changes at Bonneville’s Phoenix sports talk outlet KMVP-FM “Arizona Sports 98.7 FM” has the midday team of Dan Bickley (left) and Vince Marotta (right) moving to morning drive, taking over for the current morning show hosted by Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley, effective September 7. Wolfley moves to middays with a new show (in addition to his current role as Arizona Cardinals radio broadcast analyst) joined by Luke Lapinski for “The Wolf and Luke Show.” Doug Franz remains with the station as he transitions to digital contributor on ArizonaSports.com. Bonneville Phoenix SVP and market manager Scott Sutherland says, “I cannot say thank you enough to both Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley, who along with being great broadcasters, are both first-class people that have made tremendous contributions to the Arizona Sports brand and our community. Vice president of programming Ryan Hatch adds, “Doug and Wolf had the longest, most successful run in Valley sports radio history, and we are so appreciative of all of their great efforts over the years. But now is the time to bring a new energy to mornings with an ensemble cast that will jumpstart each day with strong opinions and plenty of laughs.” Bickley and Marotta state, “We are so pumped up to start the Valley sports conversation every morning on one of the biggest sports brands in the country. This is going to be a blast.”
WEEI/NESN Radio-Telethon Raises More than $3.8 million to Fight Cancer. The 19th annual “WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon” raised more than $3.8 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Audacy sports talk outlet has been partnering with New England Sports Network to present the event since 2003 and since WEEI launched the fundraiser in 2002 has raised more than $62 million for the cause. The 36-hour live broadcast took place on August 24 and 25. Audacy Boston SVP and market manager Tim Clarke states, “We’re completely inspired to see the New England community from so many different walks of life come together to support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s selfless mission. The annual ‘Jimmy Fund’ event is synonymous with this region and, in a year where we’ve faced adversity unlike any other, being able to unite with our audience to help strike out cancer is a true testament to our resiliency.”
TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” adds new affiliate station WRVA, Richmond, Virginia in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. With this addition, the Starnes Media Group program is now heard on more than 110 affiliate stations…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WSCR-AM, Chicago “The Score” and WSSP-AM, Milwaukee “The Fan” brand manager Mitch Rosen is also adding the title director of operations for BetQL Network, which is providing sports betting programming to Audacy’s sports talk stations. Audacy VP of sports Matt Volk says, “Mitch Rosen has been at the forefront of all the planning, operations and execution of this seamless expansion. He has been a trusted leader and point of contact for so many important BetQL Network initiatives. We are thrilled with Mitch’s daily dedication to all of his stations, its people and Audacy.”…..Radio programmer and consultant Mike McVay is being inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame on October 16. The ceremony will take place at the Museum of Radio and Technology in Huntington, West Virginia. McVay began his radio career at WEIF, Moundsville in 1974. He also served with WNEU, Wheeling and WCHS, Charleston…..PodcastOne announces the launch of Doug Ellin’s “Hollywood Wayz” weekly podcast and vodcast with co-host, rapper and actress BRE-Z. “Hollywood Wayz” debuts September 9. The vodcast is available on LiveXLive and YouTube. The production includes a partnership with actor and director Kevin Connolly’s Action Park Media, where the show will be recorded weekly.
Afghanistan Pullout, COVID-19, Hurricane Ida Hits Louisiana, Global Supply Chain Troubles, North Korea Re-Starts Nuclear Program, Gavin Newsom Recall, Talk Host Marc Bernier Dies from COVID-19, and Ed Asner Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The U.S.’s deadly exit from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden’s meeting the return of the slain military personnel at Dover, and the Taliban’s terrorist strategies; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battles over mask and vaccine mandates; Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana leaving New Orleans without power; the effect COVID-19 is having on global supply chains; U.S. intelligence indicates North Korea is again producing plutonium; California Governor Gavin Newsom is on the ropes as the recall election looms; Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier dies after a battle with COVID-19, and actor Ed Asner dies at 91 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: Podcast Best Practices. Google “podcast tips” and you’ll find plenty, most for newbies (“State your name and the name of your podcast at the beginning”). Since you’re a pro, this week’s column by consultant Holland Cooke is Advanced Placement stuff. Read it here.
Impeachment Testimony, 2020 Presidential Race, Hong Kong Elections, Navy Secretary Fired, Mr. Rogers Movie, and AMAs Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The week’s impeachment testimony; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020 and former Republican-turned-Democrat Michael Bloomberg’s entrance into the race; the Hong Kong elections that saw pro-democracy candidates win in local races; Navy Secretary Richard Spencer forced out of his post over the Edward Gallagher case; the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood film; and Sunday evening’s American Music Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
WIP, Philadelphia Morning Star Angelo Cataldi Signs Contract Extension. Morning drive sports talk host Angelo Cataldi signs a multiyear contract extension with Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia. He’ll continue to lead the “Angelo and the Morning Team” program with co-hosts Al Morganti, Keith Jones, and Rhea Hughes. The former Philadelphia Inquirer Eagles beat writer began hosting the morning show on WIP in 1990. He comments, “It’s an honor to continue my time at WIP as I move past my 30-year anniversary at the best sports station in America. All I can do is express my appreciation to Entercom and to all of my colleagues at WIP. But most of all I want to thank the listeners who have been so loyal to me and to everyone at the morning show. I can’t believe I get to do a job I love in the city whose passion for sports is incomparable. Now let’s win another championship.”
Sam Moser Named Chief Revenue Officer and EVP of National Sales for Newsmax TV. Former FOX News advertising sales executive Sam R. Moser joins Newsmax TV as chief revenue officer and EVP of national sales. During his career, Moser has also served with MTV, the Comedy Channel, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, and the Game Show Network. Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “Sam has a stellar reputation for building, developing, and directing highly successful sales teams for major cable networks – both established and start-up. He’s a consummate sales professional and has amassed an impressive track record of increasing billings significantly from existing advertisers as well as new business development.” Moser says, “Newsmax has quickly become the most-talked-about cable news network in the United States. I’m excited to be part of the cream of the crop Chris is assembling and help further accelerate the growth of this exciting, must-watch news outlet.” Newsmax TV says it has cable agreements with all major MVPD outlets, including DirecTV, Dish, Xfinity, Spectrum, Fios, U-verse, Altice (Optimum and Suddenlink), and Cox, among many others. The network expects to reach close 80 million MVPD homes in 2020.
TALKERS News Notes. Corpus Christi morning drive personality Jim Lago announces he’s retiring from iHeartMedia’s news/talk KKTX-AM after his December 6 program. Lago suffered a mild stroke in April but later returned to his show. He’s been a Corpus Christi air personality for more than 30 years…..In Kansas City, Ron “Show” Hughley exits the midday show at Entercom’s KCSP “610 Sports.” His former partner Josh Vernier and producer Stephen Serda remain hosting the program that’s been renamed “Mid-Days” on the station’s website…..WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive talk host Simon Conway is doing double duty this week. In addition to his WHO program (also heard on iHeartMedia’s WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids), he’s sitting in for Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo on his nationally syndicated show today through Wednesday (11/25-27)…..AdLarge Media announces that it has renewed its deal with The Weather Channel Radio Network and will continue serving as radio ad sales rep for TWC. AdLarge co-founder and co-CEO Gary Schonfeld says, “The Weather Channel television and radio network is a marquee brand trusted by radio stations and advertisers. With this extended partnership, our team can continue providing AdLarge advertisers with access to listeners of top-rated radio stations across the country. We are delighted to continue our relationship with the network.”…..WBUR, Boston appoints Margaret Low CEO and general manager. Low was most recently with The Atlantic where she was the president of AtlanticLIVE. Prior to serving with The Atlantic, she was SVP of news for NPR and a former senior producer for “All Things Considered.” During her five years at The Atlantic, Low oversaw the live events division, which produces more than 100 events a year across the country and around the world.
WNDB’s Marc Bernier Interviews Senator Tom Cotton. Pictured above is WNDB, Daytona Beach afternoon drive talk show host Marc Bernier interviewing U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) before a live audience at the Miami BookFair International live on C-SPAN about his book Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery (2019, William Morrow). This is the 15th consecutive year that Bernier’s “BookMarc” radio and TV show has broadcast from the Miami BookFair International.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programming pro John DeSantis is leaving All Pro Broadcasting’s hot AC KHTI, Riverside-San Bernardino “Hot 103.9” on December 15 after 23 years with the station. He’s also worked on-air at the station in mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Station VP and general manager Kimberly Martinez says, “John will forever remain a part of All Pro Broadcasting’s history. He was a very important part of our X103.9 programming. When we flipped formats in December 2015 he continued on as our program director. John has been a dedicated employee and an important part of the All Pro Broadcasting family, we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”…..On Friday, November 15, iHeartMedia’s rock WDVE celebrated its 50th Anniversary with by an alumni party at Cefelo’s – a local Pittsburgh venue. The party brought together the station’s former sales and support staff, along with top on-air personalities, including Randy Baumann, Val Porter, Michele Michaels, and Russ Rose as well as former air personalities Scott Paulsen, Jimmy Roach, Steve Hansen, Marsy, Terry Caywood, Herschel, Sean McDowell, Eddie Crowe, Kenny Gibbs, Cris Winter, Joe Fenn, and Jesse Scott. In addition, program director John Moschitta was joined by former program directors from throughout the decades – which included Gene Romano, Dave Lange, Garrett Hart, and special guest attendee Alan Shaw.
FOX News Channel Taps Mark Levin for Sunday Evening Program. The name of the new program is “Life, Liberty & Levin” and will debut in February and air at 10:00 pm ET on Sunday nights. FOX News Channel says Mark Levin’s show “will explore the fundamental values and principles undergirding American society, culture, politics, and current events, and their relevance to the nation’s future and everyday lives of citizens. The hour-long program will feature Levin’s lively, in-depth and long-form interviews and powerful debate style with consequential guests covering history, philosophy, and economics.” FNC president of programming Suzanne Scott adds, “Mark’s passion for the principles found in the Constitution and success in talk radio has made him a distinct figure in the media landscape. We look forward to adding this spirited program to our weekend lineup.” Levin says, “I am honored to join FOX News, a network I have enjoyed appearing on as a guest for quite some time. As a proud citizen of the United States, I am delighted to share the significance of American values with such a wide audience and look forward to engaging with important guests about crucial topics.”
Jim Blasingame Celebrates 20 Years of ‘The Small Business Advocate.’ The nationally syndicated “The Small Business Advocate” program, hosted by Jim Blasingame, debuted on November 17, 1997 and is still the only syndicated, live weekday program “dedicated to Main Street businesses.” Blasingame says, “When we began, we wanted to provide Main Street entrepreneurs with the information, resources and inspiration they need to start, run and grow a small business. Thanks to the support of our audience, Brain Trust members and corporate partners, we’ve accomplished that goal and continue to deliver multi-media resources for small businesses, including a mobile site and a video series.” In addition to his radio work, Blasingame is a prolific writer with three books to his credit (plus, one due out next year!) and a weekly, syndicated column that’s appeared in newspapers and business journals, plus online publications, including Forbes.com, BizJournals.com, Manta.com and Nasdaq.com, plus his own weekly ezine. Forbes Media chairman Steve Forbes comments, “Congratulations to Jim Blasingame on his 20th anniversary. I’ve been a regular guest on Jim’s show for years. He really knows Main Street business, is a great interviewer, and his peerless commitment to serving small businesses and promoting entrepreneurship comes through in everything he does. Well done, Jim.”
Salisbury Gives Up Local Show on KFNC-FM, Houston to Focus on Network Program. Sports talk personality Sean Salisbury is leaving his post at Gow Media’s KFNC-FM “ESPN 97.5” where he co-hosts the “Unfiltered: with Sean Salisbury & John Granato” to “focus his energies exclusively on his national radio and TV show.” His eponymous sports talk show is heard from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET on the SB Nation Radio Network. The program is also simulcast from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on beIn Sports TV. Gow Media CEO David Gow says, “The Sean Salisbury show is on a really strong trajectory with a ton of momentum. The show has recently picked up new radio station affiliates in Lubbock, Phoenix and Atlanta. And we are excited to have Sean focus his efforts on the next wave of growth for the show.”
Dickey Broadcasting Drops ‘The Regular Guys’ on ‘The Fan 2.’ The four-month experiment with Larry Wachs’ new version of “The Regular Guys” hosting mornings at WFOM, Atlanta “The Fan 2” is over. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports that station chief David Dickey says the company is going to focus on an all-sports lineup on the station. Both Dickey and Wachs tell Ho that everyone put in a good effort to get the show off the ground but, in the end they agreed that it just wasn’t going to work. Read Ho’s piece here.
Schieffer Faces Daytona Beach. Pictured above is former “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer (left) being interviewed by WNDB, Daytona Beach afternoon drive personality Marc Bernier (right). The two appeared at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University last night (11/20) as part of the school’s Speaker Series. The two discussed the current state of reporting and Schieffer’s new book, Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News (Rowland & Littlefield, 2017). Photo: David Massey.
Roy Moore Case, New Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Sanctuary Cities Ruling, GOP Tax Plan, Charles Manson Dies, Putin-Assad Meeting, Trump vs Marshawn Lynch, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/20). The allegations of sexual predation against Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore; the latest round of allegations of sexual misconduct against Charlie Rose, Senator Al Franken, and NYT reporter Glenn Thrush; a federal judge rules against President Trump’s order to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities”; analysis of the possible effects of the Republican tax reform plan; Charles Manson dies at age 83; Vladimir Putin meets with Bashar al-Assad over Syria’s civil war; President Trump’s criticism of Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch for standing during the Mexican national anthem; and the weekend’s NFL action 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. At Detroit country outlet WDRQ “NASH FM 93.1,” Cumulus Media appoints Jessica Tyler midday personality, APD and music director. Tyler comes to Detroit from her most recent post with Summit Media at country WQNU, Louisville “Q103.1” where she was morning drive co-host and APD. Cumulus Detroit director of FM programming Robby Bridges states, “I’ve known Jessica a long time and the special bond she creates with listeners on and off the air, the friendships she develops with the artists, songwriters and managers, plus the relationships she has with the record community in Nashville are second to none.”…..Madison radio pro Sara Freeman is giving up her full-time afternoon drive show on Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s adult contemporary WMGN “Magic 98” to take a position with her husband’s real estate firm. She’ll continue to handle weekend shifts. Coming aboard the station is former WKTI, Milwaukee personality Jillene Kahn. She’ll host middays until Freeman exits, then take over afternoon drive. On tap to fill the midday slot after that is Julie Jacobs…..Former WBMP, New York “92.3 AMP Radio” weekend personality Mike McGinn joins Beasley Media Group to host the afternoon drive show on WMGQ, New Brunswick, New Jersey “MAGIC 98.3.” WMGQ program director Debbie Mazella says, “I am really excited to have Mike on the air and make ‘MAGIC 98.3’ his home. He’s got the energy we are looking for in afternoon drive. Take a listen and you will hear what I mean!”…..In Jacksonville, Cox Media Group swaps frequencies between alternative WXXJ and adult contemporary WEZI. WXXJ moves to the class A signal at 106.5 and WEZI slides down to the class C frequency at 102.9. CMG Jacksonville market vice president Dan Lawrie states, “Our ‘Easy’ listeners told us they wanted a larger signal and we listened!”…..iHeartMedia’s Detroit adult hits WDTW flips to alternative rock as “ALT 106.7.”…..Sun Broadcast Group announces Shelby Wood Wasicki joins the company as national account manager. In this role, she’ll forcus on products including: Shazam For Radio, The Hit List with Fitz, Country Fried Mix with DJ Sinister, Sun Select RADAR, Sun Latino Networks, and many others.