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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

| January 26, 2021

Programming Consultant Greg Moceri Working with ‘Our American Stories.’ News and talk radio programming consultant Greg Moceri joins American Private Radio – producer of the extremely successful “Our American Stories” program – as strategy and content consultant. The “Our American Stories” nightly program is currently heard on more than 300 stations, including new affiliate KEIB-AM, Los Angeles “The Patriot AM 1150.” American Private Radio CEO and show host Lee Habeeb says, “We’re thrilled to have Greg as a part of the team. We’ve long admired his well-earned standing in the business, his ability to help stations and talent be better versions of themselves, and his all-around excellence and cheerfulness, too. He is already making a real difference.” Moceri, CEO of Moceri Media, LLC, comments, “I have always been about content. ‘Our American Stories’ exemplifies this. Uplifting, wonderful stories about our nation’s most connecting and emotionally gravitating people in our amazing past and present. Just uplifting daily reminders, from people you may know, and people you don’t. A perfect antidote to division, politics, and the anger of day. Honored to be part of this brand and product.”

It’s Official: Kim Gordon Joins WLS-AM, Chicago as News Anchor. Yesterday (1/25), TALKERS reported a tip from Chicago media writer Robert Feder that Windy City news pro Kim Gordon had exited Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM and would sign with Cumulus Media’s crosstown WLS-AM. Today, Cumulus announces Gordon’s joining the station as afternoon drive news anchor. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor states, “Finding the facts and reporting the news has never been an easy job. Doing it in this environment hasn’t made it any easier. You need experience and grit to craft a meaningful, accurate newscast and Kim Gordon has both of those qualities in spades. I’m delighted to have Kim join our 890 WLS-AM news team as the PM drive anchor. Her attention to facts and detail will enhance our news product and yes, she can probably teach John Howell a thing or two about golf.” Gordon comments, “I am thrilled to be joining the WLS news team and to be working with John Howell in the afternoons. It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of John Dempsey. I’ve long admired his integrity and passion for news. I hope to continue that legacy at WLS.”

WECK-AM, Buffalo Owner Puts Republican Assemblyman’s Show on Hiatus; Denies Station Was Threatened by Antifa. The weekly, hourlong program on WECK-AM, Buffalo hosted by Republican New York State Assemblyman David DiPietro was put on hiatus by owner Buddy Shula but not because he received any threats from “leftists” to “burn the station down.” Shula tells the Buffalo News that it was a miscommunication between him and DiPietro over his rationale for the show’s hiatus. After DiPietro posted comments on Facebook suggesting that “leftists” threatened the station and forced Shula to cancel his show, Shula said, “I wanted to make sure I make it perfectly clear that Dave DiPietro did zero wrong in terms of me putting his show on hiatus. It was me being spooked by the Capitol events. That’s it. Nothing more.” Shula indicates he was speaking hypothetically about the station being attacked in the aftermath of the Capitol assault and believes DiPietro misunderstood him to mean that threats were actual. He adds he’d like to bring DiPietro back to the air with a Democrat on the other side of the table for balance.

New Affiliates Join Doug Stephan’s DJV Show. The nationally syndicated “DJV Show” – starring Doug Stephan and featuring Jen Horn and Victoria Keelan – adds new affiliate stations: WPMO, Pascagoula, Mississippi; KFOW, Waseca, Minnesota; KOMY, Santa Cruz-Monterey; KHOB, Hobbs, New Mexico; WTGB, Brownsville, Texas; WDOC, Pikeville, Kentucky; KBST, Big Spring, Texas; and KMAX, Colfax, Washington. Doug Stephan states, “I’d like to thank all of these new affiliates of the show. Our goal is to make our listeners lives better. We want them to be informed without having to sift through the vitriol.” McVay Media Consulting president Mike McVay adds, “What I like most about the ‘DJV Show’ is that it’s a talk show that is truly balanced in their opinions. It’s informative and fun. They’re a great first place to find what’s trending every day.”

Entercom Launches BetQL Audio Network; Unveils ‘The Bet’ Stations in Denver and LA. On the heels of Entercom’s acquisition of sports data and iGaming affiliate platform QL Gaming Group, the company is launching the BetQL Audio Network. The network is headlined by two daily shows – “You Better You Bet” with Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley and “BetQL Daily” with Joe Ostrowski and Ross Tucker.  Additionally, Entercom is debuting two radio stations to carry gambling-oriented programming. KEZW-AM, Denver is now “The Bet 1430AM” and KCBS-HD3 is now “The Bet 93.1 HD3.” Entercom president of sports Mike Dee comments, “With our acquisition of QL Gaming Group in November, we committed to leveraging our national scale to amplify the rapidly growing sports gambling landscape and deliver smart, data-supported sports-betting content to our listeners. By combining the BetQL brand and our deep collection of expert talent, this new network complements our industry-leading local sports broadcast portfolio and will further enhance our position as a leader for sports betting programming.” The new network is being promoted across Entercom’s 39 all-sports stations including WFAN-AM/FM, New York; WIP-FM, Philadelphia; and WSCR, Chicago “The Score.”

Newsmax TV and FreedomWorks Partner for ‘Save the Nation’ Program. A new, Sunday morning program titled, “Save the Nation,” is debuting on Newsmax TV via a partnership with FreedomWorks. The hour-long program – co-hosted by FreedomWorks president Adam Brandon and economist Stephen Moore – will premiere on February 7 at 11:00 am ET will provide “Americans with critical information they need on the economy, government policies, and the latest news.” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says, “We look forward to bringing our rapidly-growing audience exclusive content from respected economist Stephen Moore, Adam Brandon, and the team at FreedomWorks. It is one of the nation’s most effective and respected grassroots organizations in touch with the issues Americans care about.”

New York Festivals 2021 Radio Awards Open for Entries. Entries for the New York Festivals 2021 Radio Awards are now being accepted. NYF Radio Awards says that each year it carefully evaluates and updates the category roster to provide the most current categories to reflect the innovative content produced today. Vice president and executive director Rose Anderson says, “In a year marked by disruption of every kind, New York Festivals is implementing additional categories for social justice across all genres. These categories spotlight storytellers who are using all of their creativity to engage with their listeners on this critical topic.” New categories for 2021 include: Best Social Justice Report, Social Justice Reporting, Social Justice Documentary, Best Regularly Scheduled Social Justice Program, Best Social Justice Special, Social Justice Promo, Best Digital Social Justice Program, Social Justice Podcast, and Social Justice Student Content. See all of the 2021 Radio Awards Categories here. The New York Festivals is partnering with the NAB Show for the 11th year and again NYF will honor the winners in Las Vegas in October. Anderson adds, “Combined with our TV & Film Winners, it will be a celebration of innovative storytellers across all platforms.” For more information and to enter visit here.

TALKERS News Notes. Talk show host Ray Appleton returned to the air on Cumulus Media‘s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno on Monday (1/25) after a two-week suspension for a comment about news coverage of the January 6 Capitol attack in which he stated some news editors should be “hanged – maybe.” He said his words were tongue-in-cheek but station management meted out the suspension nonetheless…..New York news/talk outlet WABC is adding a new weekend program to its schedule. Fashion designer Joseph Abboud is joining the lineup of the Red Apple Media station beginning Saturday, February 6 at 5:00 pm as the host of “Threads,” a one-hour lifestyle program that looks at our world through the lens of fashion and design. WABC says, “From super models and fashion shows to the new world order of post pandemic fashion, Abboud will explore the evolution of one of the most creative and fascinating industries on the face of the earth, and how it weaves through our culture and our lives.”…..KQED, San Francisco “Forum” host Michael Krasny is retiring after his final broadcast on February 12. Krasny’s broadcasting career began in the late 1970s. He joined KQED in 1993 as host of “Forum.” To help commemorate his career on February 12, Krasny will be joined in his final broadcast by NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving who will co-host…..Two new affiliate stations – KCPS, Burlington, Iowa and KLMB, Roundup/Billings, Montana – add the “Todd Starnes News & Commentary” feature to their programming…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs” program picks up new affiliates as KCPX-AM/K290CS, Spanish Valley, Utah and WHIR-AM, Danville, Kentucky add the show to their lineups.

COVID-19 & Vaccines Rollout, Senate Power Sharing/Battle Over Filibuster, Trump Impeachment, Social Media & Censorship, Dominion Sues Giuliani, and Biden Reverses Trans Troops Ban Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/25). The number of COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variant strains, and the vaccine rollout problems; Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer agree to a Senate power-sharing deal and Democrats don’t have the votes to eliminate the filibuster; the impeachment case against Donald Trump; MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is permanently banned from Twitter; election process firm Dominion sues Rudy Giuliani for defamation and seeks $1.3 billion; and Joe Biden reverses Trump’s ban on trans people serving in the military were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

| January 6, 2021

Radio Programming Legend Tom Bigby Dies at 77. The programming mind that helped build some of the most successful radio stations in modern history has died at the age of 77 after several years of heart issues. Tom Bigby programmed a number of stations with heritage calls – WIFI, WNEW, KOST, and WXYT – but he’s best known for being the PD behind Philadelphia sports talker WIP. In noting his passing, a piece on the WIP website says, “Known for his at times contentious relationship with talent and his radio-ready voice, Bigby is the most well-known, well-respected, and most iconic PD in the history of WIP. His legacy will include many things, but from a WIP perspective, his belief that the Eagles were the biggest thing in town, and that the fans should be heard will be two of the most lasting for WIP. His ‘two-minute rule’ and ‘once during the week, and once on the weekends rule’ for callers will not be far behind.” TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison says, “Tom was a program director in the true sense of the title as it existed in radio’s most recent golden age. He understood just about every aspect of radio and applied that knowledge and experience to the well-balanced intersection of programming, sales, promotion, and technology that marked the great stations of that era and inspired them to value their air product above all else. He was also a quirky friend, formidable negotiator, and larger-than-life individual the likes of which make him a true industry legend.” At WIP, Bigby worked with Philadelphia talent that included Howard Eskin, Rhea Hughes, Angelo Cataldi, Glen Macnow, Tony Bruno, Jody MacDonald, and Mike Missanelli, to name a few. A number of these posted their thoughts about working for Tom Bigby at the WIP website. You can read them here. Bigby leaves behind his wife Phyllis, two children and four grandchildren.

Salem Media Group Unveils Podcast Platform. With the new year comes a new venture from Salem Media Group as it announces the formation of the Salem Podcast Network – what the company calls “a new entity focused on bringing conservative content to more listeners and viewers.” The network’s first podcast partner is author and documentarian Dinesh D’Souza, whose new podcast “Pardon Me!” will debut on January 11 across all podcast platforms, as well as SalemNow.com, YouTube, and Rumble. Salem Media Group SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “This is a natural extension of the Salem brand, which is already considered one of the strongest in conservative media. Salem will be producing more content with meaningful names on the conservative side, so look for more big announcements soon. The future for podcasting is unlimited, and our efforts will tightly focus on hosts who will contribute to our brand and to the message.” The company announces that WIND-AM, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer” program director Marcus Brown is taking on the additional role of director of content strategy for the Salem Podcast Network. Salem Broadcast Division president David Santrella adds, “Salem’s brand of podcasting will remain consistent with what Salem is best known for — content that approaches the issues through a biblical worldview and a politically conservative lens. Podcast listeners will know that when they come to the Salem Podcast Network, they’ll find content that addresses the issues they care most about.”

WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence to Drop Andy Gresh Show. GoLocalProv.com tips us that Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence and evening sports talk host Andy Gresh are unable to come to terms and Gresh will exit the station after his Friday evening program (1/8). Gresh tells the news site, “Basically, we have a business disagreement.” GoLocalProv.com reports that former Providence Journal sports reporter Kevin McNamara will host a one-hour program from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot will be filled a by a syndicated program.

WNYM, New York Adds Ben Shapiro for Afternoons. New York news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” announces it is adding the Westwood One syndicated “Ben Shapiro Show” to its daily lineup. Salem Media Group says the program will air at 5:00 pm (except on Wednesdays when it airs at 9:00 pm). Shapiro’s podcast will air evenings at 9:00 pm. To make room, the station moves the Kevin McCullough program to a 7:00 pm start. Additionally, WNYM is adding “Real Estate Today,” the official radio program of the National Association of Realtors hosted by Stephen Gasque, to its program schedule. It will follow “Eye on Real Estate” hosted by New York City real estate expert Dottie Herman. Salem Media Group vice president and general manager Jerry Crowley says, “We’re always looking for ways to make our lineup stronger, and these changes will do just that. Shapiro is a rising young superstar on talk radio. The real estate show will give our listeners great information and content. Kevin McCullough will continue to do the great show we know and love.”

TALKERS News Notes. Former WJFK-FM, Washington afternoon drive host Chad Dukes teases a new sports talk program that’s set to debut on Monday (1/11). Dukes was fired by Entercom in October for what the company called “racist comments” on the “Big O and Dukes” podcast. The new program appears to be a digital streaming venture. His website says of the new program, “The Chad Dukes Show is going to be exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a looking for a radio show from Chad Dukes. Discussion of movies, video games, food, booze, music, football, fighting and copious amounts of ball busting. You want politics? You want COVID discussion? You want middle relief pitching analysis? Look somewhere else.”…..WOBT-AM/W267AF, Rhinelander, Wisconsin flips from country to sports talk. The NRG Media station is airing the complete weekday lineup from iHeartMedia’s sports WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “The Game” – Steve Czaban, John Kuhn & Brian Butch, The Crossover, Drew & K.B. – as well as FOX Sports Radio content in evenings and on weekends…..iHeartMedia Cleveland is launching two initiatives that it believes will improve the bottom lines of local businesses in 2021. All this month, local Cleveland area small businesses are encouraged to register online for the opportunity to be featured in a $25,000 iHeartMedia marketing plan. iHeartMedia Cleveland president Keith Hotchkiss says, “Last year was brutal for small businesses in our community. We believe the significant reach of our media assets, combined with this meaningful marketing campaign, will be the difference maker for a local company here in Cleveland. There are 36% fewer local businesses operating in the area than this time last year, according to Crain’s Cleveland.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of on-air pro Connie Kellie of the “Connie & Fish Morning Show” on Townsquare Media’s hot AC WLHT, Grand Rapids “Mix 95.7.” Kellie died on January 4 after a brief battle with liver cancer. Her radio partner Fish Calloway says, “Over 25 years ago, this incredible, smart and strong woman allowed me the opportunity to be a part of her radio career. Our journey will not only be with those who were touched by her immense talent but engraved in my heart. Thank you, Connie, for this adventure. I look forward to the day we meet again.”

MIW Group Announces Applications Now Being Accepted for ‘Mildred Carter Mentoring Program.’ The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group announces that the application window for the 2021 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is open. MIW says its heritage annual mentoring initiative “connects mentees with accomplished women recognized as leaders, mentors, and game-changers within all aspects of radio broadcasting.” The program is being sponsored by vCreative for the second consecutive year. Four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry within the sales, marketing, programming, and digital disciplines will be selected for the 2021 program. The deadline to apply is January 29. See mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply here.

Georgia Runoff Elections, Electoral Vote Count/DC Protests, Trump GA Secretary of State Call, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Jacob Blake Case, and China Blocks WHO Scientists Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/5). Tuesday’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; today’s Electoral College vote count in the Senate and the protests taking place in Washington, DC; the aftermath of Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State seeking a reversal of his loss in that state; the spiking number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; prosecutors in Wisconsin reveal no charges will be filed against officer in shooting of Jacob Blake; and China blocks two WHO scientists investigating the origin of the coronavirus from entering the country were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

| January 5, 2021

Mike Luery Named Assistant News Director for KFBK, Sacramento. Radio and television news pro Mike Luery joins iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento “News 93.1” as 24/7 News and KFBK assistant news director for iHeartMedia’s Pacific region. iHeartMedia Pacific region news director Jayson Campadonia says that in this role, Luery will “help oversee news in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska. He’ll report on everything from breaking news to politics to state fairs. With his vast experience in the news business, he will additionally play a critical role in developing young news talent.” KFBK program director Bill White states, “We look forward to Mike being an integral partner in contributing to the news content on ‘The KFBK Morning News with Cristina Mendonsa and Sam Shane’ as well as ‘The KFBK Afternoon News with Kitty O’Neal.’ Mike, with his decades of news experience in Sacramento, will be an excellent addition to our team of Northern California news veterans.” Luery served with Hearst Television’s KCRA-TV, Sacramento for 24 years. He began his career as news director at KZOZ-FM in San Luis Obispo, California.

WGY-AM/FM, Albany Adds Doug Goudie to Morning Show. Longtime Boston media figure Doug Goudie becomes part of the morning show at iHeartMedia’s WGY-AM/FM, Albany on Thursday (1/7), partnering with current air personality Kelly Lynch. Goudie assumes the role left vacant after Chuck Custer retired from the station in December following a 36-year career with WGY. Goudie, a.k.a. V.B. – short for Virgin Boy – got his nickname from Boston talk radio legend Howie Carr during his time working on Carr’s show at WRKO, Boston where he began his media career back in the late 1990s. WGY program director Jeff Wolf says, “With Doug’s rich experience as a recent midday talk host on iHeartMedia Boston’s WRKO, TV commentator on WFXT-TV, and long-stint on The Howie Carr Radio Show, I’m confident that he will satisfy the expectations of WGY listeners for years to come. The heart of what brings so many Capital Region listeners to WGY in the morning will remain unchanged. Doug and Kelly will both entertain and inform with meaningful conversations on the important local and national stories of the day but having fun will continue to be part of the show as well.”

Steve Czaban Exits WTEM, Washington; No Change to WRNW-FM, Milwaukee Gig. Sports talk host Steve Czaban announced via Twitter that he’s exited Washington, DC sports talk outlet WTEM “The Team” as his contract was up and new owner Entercom took control of the station from Urban One. While he won’t be doing a daily show in Washington, he will remain with Entercom on a part-time basis and will host a Saturday morning program on sister sports talker WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan.” The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that Czaban says the change in DC has no effect on his Milwaukee radio show heard daily in morning drive on iHeartMedia’s WRNW-FM “97.3 The Game.” Czaban calls his exit from WTEM a mutual one, telling the MBJ, “As my contract was coming to an end, I had been contemplating a change of pace and direction for some time now. This is the right move for me at the right time. I am very excited and thankful for this opportunity, and any others that may present themselves in the future.”

Beasley Media Group Begins 60th Anniversary Celebration. The logo you see here is being unveiled by Beasley Media Group to commemorate the company’s 60th anniversary. The company says, “On December 2, 1961, a young high school principal named George Beasley launched WPYB-AM in Benson, North Carolina with the vision of providing a voice for the voiceless in the local community! Today, Beasley Media Group is a multiplatform media company providing advertising and digital marketing solutions across the United States with 64 radio properties located in 15 large and medium markets across the country. Beasley also offers capabilities in audio technology, esports, podcasting, ecommerce, and events. Featured on the NASDAQ, BBGI is ranked among the publicly traded media companies in America.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley adds, “We are so thrilled to be able to celebrate the incredible legacy that our father, George, began back in 1961 when he built his very first AM station in Benson, North Carolina. It’s such a privilege to be able to build upon his forward-thinking vision and continue to blaze new innovative trails in today’s ever-changing industry with our outstanding employees and management team. Here’s to the next 60 years!”

Noted Record Producer and “Urban Philosopher” Robbie Stevens Rejoins TalkersRadio.  The TALKERS editorial board announces the return of Robbie Stevens to the talent roster of TalkersRadio. Stevens, who was the first talent signed for TalkersRadio – a service of TALKERS magazine – when it launched in the fall of 2013, has agreed to perform as a commentator on the platform for a “limited engagement” that will run through June of 2021. The Bronx-based New York City native is well-known in the music industry for his years of innovative studio work with a wide variety of high-profile artists, most recently on behalf of the estate and fans of the late John Lennon, for which he has achieved critical acclaim for his “raw” remix of the legendary artist’s Imagine album. He also most recently executive produced 13 Billboard #1 Dance Chart singles in a row, for Yoko Ono’s innovative ensemble Ono. He also recently produced (with Yoko Ono) the “John Lennon Anthology,” a four-CD set of unreleased material that was Rolling Stone magazine’s boxed set of the year. During his colorful career, he’s played on, mixed, or produced records by Herbie Hancock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other high-profile musicians going back decades. During this time, Stevens has developed an alternative career as a talk radio host and commentator heard occasionally via on-air and online outlets provided by heritage NYC stations WOR and WNYM (in addition to TalkersRadio). On the return of Stevens to TalkersRadio, TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations (and former WOR PD) David Bernstein says, “Robbie brings a real East Coast urban perspective that is reflective of both the street and academia to the news/talk radio conversation. His ‘tell it like it is’ style is a provocative blend of gruff ‘everyman’ street talk and intelligent, eclectic inquiry into the mysteries of the universe, combining politics with pop culture, science and down-to-Earth sociology. You don’t hear his progressive position that often on today’s terrestrial news/talk radio and frankly, regardless of your politics, it is amazingly refreshing.” For example, Stevens has served as vice president of the board for a well-known youth basketball/education program that’s won national championships and helps kids from diverse backgrounds reach their academic goals. To listen to Robbie Steven’s new series of commentaries on TalkersRadio, please click here. TalkersRadio is an “experimental” talk radio platform launched in 2013 by TALKERS magazine to provide the industry with a “work out space” and “showcase for new talk programming concepts.” Since its launch it has been a temporary home to a number of spoken-word talents – both high-profile and obscure – who’ve used it to work and showcase concepts that have gone on to achieve terrestrial radio exposure and even national syndication. In addition to Stevens, current TalkersRadio hosts include Claire CarterMeg McDonald, and UK sensation, Graham Mack. At the time of his passing, Alan Colmes was working on a series concept called “Healed Planet” heard on TalkersRadio which offered a glimpse into the late FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel star’s metaphysical interests. Files of that fledgling show remain archived on TalkersRadio as a tribute to Colmes. For more information about TalkersRadio, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Radio Advertising Bureau Updates Board of Directors. With the new year comes an update to the board of directors for the Radio Advertising Bureau. Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw is the vice chair and Townsquare Media COO Erik Hellum is the finance chair. The RAB also announces that Cumulus Media EVP corporate marketing and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes joins the executive committee. Neuhoff Media COO Mike Hulvey continues to serve as chair and Univision president and regional radio general manager Sabina Widmann is serving as secretary.

New York Public Media Names Nsikan Akpan Health and Science Editor. Joining New York Public Media’s WNYC Newsroom is Nsikan Akpan, who begins his role as health & science editor on January 11. Akpan was most recently serving with National Geographic as science editor, overseeing COVID-19 coverage in addition to other types of science, health and technology news. Prior to that, he served for more than four years at “PBS NewsHour.” He and his team won a 2020 Emmy for the PBS NewsHour series “Stopping a Killer Pandemic” and in 2019 received a George Foster Peabody Award for the PBS NewsHour series “The Plastic Problem.”

Georgia Runoff Elections/Trump GA Appearance, Trump’s Call to GA Sec. of State, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, UK Lockdown, China and Pandemic’s Origin, Iran Seizes South Korean Oil Tanker, and the NYSE’s Chinese Telecom Delisting About Face Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/4). The buildup to today’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats and Donald Trump’s appearance to stump for the Republicans; the controversy over Trump’s call to Georgia’s Secretary of State seeking to overturn his loss in that state; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the UK orders a lockdown to stem the tide of COVID cases; questions about China’s stifling the investigation into the origin of the coronavirus; Iran seizes a South Korean oil freighter in the Persian Gulf; and the New York Stock Exchange reverses course on plans to delist three Chinese telecom companies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

| December 15, 2020

Ramsey Solutions Forgives $10 million in Debt for 8,000 Americans. Through his company Ramsey Solutions, Dave Ramsey has taken on the debt of 8,000 people across the United States and totally forgiven a total of $10 million in debt. Ramsey Solutions has purchased $10 million of unpaid medical and car debt from two private debt collection companies in order to forgive it. Starting on November 9, Ramsey and his 950 team members made phone calls to let the recipients know their debt had been forgiven. Recipients will also be notified by a letter in the mail within the next five weeks. Ramsey says, “This year has been one of the worst financially for so many Americans. Thirty years ago, my wife Sharon, and I were on the heels of a financial catastrophe ourselves. We know firsthand the pain of having creditors calling at all hours of the night and wondering how we were going to keep the lights on. But we said never again to living with debt. We worked our way out of bankruptcy, turned our finances around, and now we can have the most fun with money that we ever have – giving.” You can read more about Ramsey Solutions’ $10 million debt payoff here.

Charlie James Named Afternoon Drive Host at WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg. The new afternoon drive talk host at Entercom’s WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg “106.3 WORD” is Charlie James, who joins the station from his most recent post as morning host for Cumulus Media’s news/talk WTMA-AM, Charleston, South Carolina. James – who starts on December 23 – succeeds Bob McLain, who is retiring from the station. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “Charlie is a well-respected and seasoned talk show host and his track record of success in South Carolina with his award-winning program makes him a perfect fit for ‘106.3 WORD.’ Charlie’s experience informing and entertaining listeners through his style, knowledge, and influential opinions on topics that matter most will be a welcomed addition to our station’s programming and will build on the afternoon audience that has been well served by Bob McLain.”​

WHO-AM, Des Moines Names Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet New Morning Drive Show. Current WHO-AM, Des Moines morning drive host Van Harden announced yesterday (12/14) to listeners that market radio pros Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet will take over hosting the morning drive show after he retires from the station early next month. Schaeffer comments, “The weight of what we have ahead of us is not lost on me.” Schaeffer and Sweet previously worked as morning drive co-hosts at Saga Communications’ crosstown classic hits KIOA-FM until exiting in May of 2018. Harden announced his retirement from WHO back in January of this year, giving iHeartMedia a full year to plan for the new morning show.

Ken Kohl Announces Retirement. Radio programming and management pro Ken Kohl announces that he’s winding down his 50-plus year broadcasting career that’s seen him program news and talk stations in markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sacramento. Kohl has been serving for the past 12 years with DirecTV managing broadcast and sales operations, project and talent management for the radio and TV simulcasts of “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Artie Lange Show.” Kohl says, “It’s been an amazing 50-year career. From overnight jock on Long Island’s WBLI-FM to program director of legendary WLIR-FM, rockin’ the Rockies at KBPI-FM, great runs programming KOMO-AM and KFBK-AM, launching talk on KFI in Los Angeles and San Francisco’s ‘Free FM’ to the award-winning, wall-to-wall coverage of the OJ trial, and two sports Emmy nominations and a Marconi with ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’ I’ve been blessed with fantastic staffs, amazing talk talent and exceptional ownership but there are a handful of folks who championed my career to whom I am eternally grateful: Michael Harrison, Monty Grau, Jim Donahoe, Jimmy de Castro, Chris Long, and the best of the best, Gerryann Agovino.” Kohl says he remains available for a limited number of consulting clients in between bites of fresh salmon and can be reached at kenkohl@acquaintmedia.com

Townsquare Media Issues Preliminary Fourth Quarter Financial Results. While the fourth quarter of 2020 doesn’t wrap until December 31, Townsquare Media is issuing “preliminary estimated financial results” for the period. Chief executive officer Bill Wilson says, “We are pleased to pre-announce very strong fourth quarter estimated results that outperformed the expectations we had previously outlined on our third quarter earnings call. At that time, I stated that our goal for fourth quarter net revenue was a year-over-year decline of 7.5%, approximately half of our third quarter net revenue decline of 15%, which had been a material improvement from Q2’s decline of 35%. Today, I am proud to share that we expect fourth quarter net revenue will be between $107 million and $109 million, which equates to a decline of approximately 2.7% to 4.5%, materially outperforming our goal. In addition, we expect Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA will be between $27 million and $28 million, representing between 8.3% and 12.3% growth year-over-year. This far exceeds our previously stated goal (by at least $2 million) that Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA would approach Q4 2019 Adjusted EBITDA of $24.9 million.”

i4 Media Ventures Launches with Debut Podcast ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast.’ The new firm i4 Media Ventures announces its plans to “bring podcast listeners vividly memorable stories from the history of American broadcasting.” The 12-episode podcast series “We Interrupt This Broadcast” – the first season of six seasons planned for release over the next three years – debuts in February. The series will feature first-hand accounts, little-told anecdotes and insights recorded over the course of decades with such icons of broadcast journalism as David BrinkleyTom BrokawWalter CronkiteSam Donaldson, Don HewittDan Rather, and Tim Russert, among many contemporary correspondents, and with numerous news directors and producers, as well as with guests connected to broadcast journalism’s rich history such as Casey MurrowEdward R. Murrow’s son. Advertising sales and sponsorship for the series will be represented by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales. The series is based on the 1998 New York Times bestselling multimedia book We Interrupt This Broadcast by author Joe Garner, a co-founder of i4 Media Ventures. Legendary longtime CBS journalist and A&E and NPR host Bill Kurtis, the original narrator for the multimedia book, will reprise his role by introducing each episode. The narrator for the series will be announced in coming weeks. Garner says, “It’s our intention with this series to celebrate broadcast journalism’s crucial role in our society and in history. And while our inaugural podcast series will feature major news events throughout broadcast history, these stories – such as the Rodney King beating and the presidential-election dispute of 2000 – all have relevance and offer lessons today.”

Joe Piscopo to Host Sinatra Show on WABC, New York. Well-known TV personality and radio talk show host Joe Piscopo is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to host “Ramsey Mazda’s Sunday Nights with Sinatra” program that airs from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show is being simulcast on WLIR-FM on Long Island. Piscopo played Sinatra in a recurring role during his time as a cast member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. He says, “It’s an honor to bring the music of the most legendary icon of our time, Frank Sinatra, back to the legendary WABC Radio. I am thrilled and excited, and it’s gonna’ be swingin’ baby!” Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis comments, “Throughout history, there has been no more iconic name in music than Frank Sinatra, nor has there been a more iconic name in radio than WABC. Bringing these two together again on Sunday nights with celebrity host Joe Piscopo, a crooner himself, is a one-of-a-kind way to honor ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and celebrate what would-be his 105th Birthday with this show’s debut.” Piscopo hosts the morning drive program on Salem Media Group‘s WNYM, New York “970 The Answer.”

ESPN’s ‘30 For 30 Podcasts’ Looks Back at Beginning of Pandemic. The next installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30 Podcasts” debuts on December 21, is titled, “March 11 2020,” and tells the story “of a day that started in one reality and ended with a new one — the day the NBA shut down and the pandemic became real — as told by those who lived it.” ESPN says the experiential podcast features a mix of audio clips from news stories of the day and interviews with key figures in the NBA as well as from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Senior editorial producer Julia Lowrie Henderson says, “This has been the strangest, longest, and most challenging of years. It’s hard to process all we’ve been through, but it’s actually quite simple to identify the turning point, the moment where it felt like everything changed: March 11. All of our lives were impacted by the events of that day. At the time we had no idea how deeply, or how long this might last, but we felt the seismic shift when the first professional athlete tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. If our mission at ‘30 For 30’ is to tell stories that explore how sports, competition, athleticism, and adventure affect our lives and our world, then it felt crucial to us to find a way to tell the story of that day.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at GVWire.com, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno program director Blake Taylor says Twitter blocked access to the station’s account because of comments made by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes on KMJ. During Nunes’ interview with KMJ talk host Ray Appleton, he said he “tested positive for the COVID antibodies” causing some confusion and concern that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. GVWire.com reports that Taylor fielded requests from consumer media outlets seeking to clarify what Nunes had said so he did so on Twitter. Taylor says that immediately the station’s Twitter account was suspended. He reached out to Twitter but received no response. The blackout lasted 20 minutes…..Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94WIP” announces special coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2020-21 season. WIP’s coverage of the team will include “Trust The Pregame,” hosted by Joe Giglio. The station will continue airing “Rights To Ricky Sanchez Radio,” a one-hour show named after the popular podcast. That show will be hosted by Joe Giglio and feature Spike Eskin, as well as Rights to Ricky Sanchez writers Adam Aaronson and Mike O’Connor. The station also announces a collection of additional contributors for the upcoming season, including  WIP’s Jon Johnson and Billy KingDerek Bodner of The AthleticKevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice…..Digital products and services provider Vipology moves its ad sales representation exclusively to AdLarge Media. AdLarge co-founder and co CEO Cathy Csukas says, “Where most digital companies simply create and sell what’s needed at the time, Vipology gets ahead of the constantly evolving media landscape to develop solutions that allow radio to increase ratings and revenue. We’re very excited about representing their advertising inventory from more than 1,000 top radio stations across America to our advertisers.”…..Erick Siqueira joins Focus360 as business development & planning specialist. In this role, Siqueira will work with the Focus team to deliver new revenue and inventory opportunities for clients. He will also continue relationships with agencies and buyers with whom he’s worked for all Focus360 network products and the Focus360 Podcast Network

Electoral College Votes Biden Winner, COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive, COVID Stats & Projections, Barr to Resign, Georgia Runoff Elections, and Stimulus Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The Electoral College votes Joe Biden the 46th president; the first COVID-19 vaccines begin arriving at U.S. hospitals; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-holidays outbreaks, and Dr. Tony Fauci’s estimation the U.S. will achieve herd immunity by late spring or early summer; Attorney General William Barr announces he’ll resign next week; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; and negotiations on a new pandemic stimulus package 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. According to a report at NewscenterMaine, former Saga Communications air personality Randi Kirshbaum – who was a program director and jock at country WPOR and triple A WCLZ in Portland, Maine is filing an employment discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company after she was dismissed for refusing to return to the stations’ offices due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kirshbaum says her mother passed away from pulmonary fibrosis and that she is genetically predisposed to getting it. She adds the disease can be triggered by a respiratory virus. When Kirshbaum was laid off in May, Saga Portland SVP Chris Forgy said Kirshbaum violated her signed agreement that she could be called back to the office by management and would lose her job if she refused…..Condolences to the family and friends of radio pro Steve Cooper, a.k.a. James Carr, who died on Sunday (12/13) at age 71 after several years of battling multiple illnesses. Cooper worked in the Indianapolis market for 32 years, working at such signals as WNDE, WIFE, WFBQ, and WTPI. You can see a tribute video made by good friend Art Vuolo here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

| July 21, 2020

David Bellavia Named WBEN-AM, Buffalo Late Morning Host. The replacement for longtime WBEN-AM, Buffalo 9:00 am to 12:00 noon personality Sandy Beach is former afternoon drive co-host David Bellavia. Beach is retiring at the end of this month after a long career on the Buffalo airwaves. Bellavia co-hosted the Entercom news/talk station’s afternoon drive program with Tom Bauerle from 2016 through 2019, at which time he took a leave from the station to tour the country on behalf of the U.S. Army following his receipt of the prestigious Medal of Honor. Bellavia is a former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant who joined the United States Army in 1999. He’s been awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah, the Bronze Star, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. He says, “I have a deep respect for Sandy Beach and am truly humbled to have my own program on WBEN. My goal is to completely reinvent how local talk radio is perceived and make WBEN the place where Buffalo comes together to start their day.”

Entercom Amends Credit Agreement. The company announces that is has entered into an agreement to amend the financial covenants and other provisions under its Credit Agreement solely for the benefit of its revolver lenders. During the covenant relief period, which extends through December 31, 2021, unless terminated earlier by Entercom, the Amendment provides for a covenant holiday for the quarters ending September 30, 2020 and December 31, 2020, among other modifications. Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “We are pleased to announce this credit facility amendment, which addresses the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on the economy and our advertising revenues. As previously announced, we have taken a number of actions to reduce costs and enhance our business model to both weather the storm and emerge stronger. We ended the second quarter in a strong liquidity position with $208 million of cash on-hand, up from $189 million at the end of March. During the 2nd quarter, we saw sequential month-over-month improvement in our revenue performance from April and we see the same pattern of month-over-month improvement in our pacing data for the 3rd quarter. Entercom is well positioned to fully participate in the recovery and the attractive growth opportunities in the audio space, with strong leadership positions in broadcast radio and podcasting, the fastest growing digital audio platform, unparalleled leadership in news and sports, and strong data and analytics capabilities. We will provide further comments on our performance and the outlook for the 3rd quarter during our 2nd quarter earnings call on August 7.”

June 2020 Analysis: Cume & Coronavirus. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents part one of a look at how cume (based on Nielsen Audio data from the June 2020 PPM survey) is shaking out for radio stations during the COVID-19 pandemic with today’s focus on the all-news format. Kinosian’s previous four analyses from the June 2020 survey have used weekly AQH share as the metric. Entercom’s WINS-AM, New York was the highest cume all-news station during the June PPM survey with 1.09 million. You can see how the rest of the nation’s all-newsers fared as well as rankings of all-news outlets based on cume increases from May 2020 to June 2020; stations by cume market rank; and more. See it all here.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, GOP Stimulus Plan, NJ Judge’s Son Slain, Presidential Election, Portland Protests, St. Louis Couple Charged, and Sports Leagues Openings Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/20). The rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and the projections for future cases; the battle between President Trump and GOP lawmakers in crafting a new stimulus plan; the shooting death of Judge Esther Salas’ son and the hunt for his killer; the November presidential race and the controversy over election procedures; the protests in Portland and President Trump’s use of federal troops in the city; a St. Louis couple is charged with weapons violations after aiming guns at protestors; and the attempts by U.S. pro sports leagues to start or continue their seasons were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. Sports talk personality Freddie Coleman re-ups with ESPN on a multi-year deal to keep him co-hosting the evening ESPN Radio show “Freddie and Fitzsimmons” with Ian Fitzsimmons. Coleman says, “I have been blessed beyond compare to have been with ESPN Radio for 16 years and that I will have a chance to add to it humbles me beyond words. To continue to keep loving what I do and doing what I love at ESPN Radio is something that I never take for granted.”…..Washington, DC sport talk outlet WSBN “ESPN 630 – The Sports Capitol” is joining the Virginia Sports Radio Network. Jake McCann is vice president and market manager for station owner Cumulus Media, he says, “We are thrilled to be the Washington D.C. area’s home for all the University of Virginia’s football and men’s basketball games. The school has a great tradition of excellence in athletics and in the classroom. There are many alumni in the area who will be delighted to hear the games as well as exclusive content we will be providing on ‘ESPN 630-The Sports Capitol.’”…..iHeartMedia and Tenderfoot TV are expanding their relationship to collaborate on nine new iHeartRadio Original Podcasts to air now through 2022. The deal kicks off with the second season of “Sworn,” Tenderfoot TV’s criminal justice system podcast that exposes the untold stories and hard truths behind major cases. Additionally, new investigative series podcasts for the slate will include “MLK Tapes,” produced in partnership with author Bill Klaber, co-creator of “The RFK Tapes,” set to premiere January 2021; and the next installment of the “Monster” podcast series, which has over 100 million downloads with the success of “Atlanta Monster” followed by “Monster: The Zodiac Killer,” “Monster Presents: Insomniac” and “Monster: D.C. Sniper,” set to debut early next year.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The iHeartRadio Music Festival is on this year – its 10th – but the show will be enjoyed by fans remotely. It’s being hosted by Ryan Seacrest will feature live performances recorded on stages in Los Angeles and Nashville in front of a virtual audience that will include a Capital One Fan Wall of iHeartRadio station winners. The two-day festival will be streamed on The CW App, and CWTV.com, and broadcast on iHeartMedia stations nationwide on September 18 and 19 at 9 pm ET. The CW Network will broadcast the two-night televised iHeartRadio Music Festival on Sunday, September 27 (8:00 pm -10:00 pm ET) and Monday, September 28 (8:00 pm -10:00 pm ET). Artists performing will include: BTS, Coldplay, Kane Brown, with Special Guests Khalid, Keith Urban, Migos, Miley Cyrus, Thomas Rhett, Usher and more…..Neuhoff Media promotes Mike Shamus to vice president and general manager for its Lafayette, Indiana station group. Shamus was previously vice president of programming, cluster OM, and PD for country WKOA-FM. Company CEO Beth Neuhoff says, “Shamus, as we all know him, is an exceptional leader. His work with our award-winning programming team demonstrated his capacity for team building and getting the best out of people. When this position came available, he was the natural choice. I know he will lead this market to a new level.”…..Beasley Media’s classic rock WCSX-FM is working to raise $50,000 for Gleaners Food Bank. Morning show host Big Jim from Big Jim’s House will drive 27 hours on a rockin’ road trip from Detroit to Minnesota to raise the money with help from legendary artist Bob Seger. Big Jim will drive a Chevy truck (provided by Chevrolet) from Detroit to the North Star Bar in Minnesota where Bob Seger reportedly stopped and had a drink in his song, “Roll Me Away.” Big Jim will leave for Minnesota on Thursday, July 23rd and upon his return to the Motor City, Bob Seger and Chevrolet will make a $50,000 donation to Gleaners Food Bank of Detroit.