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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

| January 14, 2020

iHeartMedia’s New Markets Group Structure. The company says that the changes are being enacted as it modernizes “to take advantage of the significant investments it has made in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) and its unique scale and leadership position in the audio marketplace.”  iHeartMedia adds that it has “made significant technology investments to change everything from how it sells advertising to how it utilizes data and builds new businesses like its digital platform, podcast platform, and robust data platform.”  iHeartMedia explains it is now grouping “its markets by common needs and characteristics into three distinctly different divisions to make sharing of resources and experiences easier and more targeted.”  Greg Ashlock will continue to serve as president of the iHeartMedia Markets Group.  Now, the group breaks down as follows: The Region Division comprises the company’s largest markets, like New York and Los Angeles, that each reach hundreds of cities, communities, and trading areas for local businesses.  It will be led by division presidents Kevin LeGrett and Scott Hopeck; The Metro Division houses markets that are large areas that still encompass multiple communities – but are not regional hubs like the company’s largest markets.  The Metro Division will be led by division presidents Tom McConnell, Tony Coles, and Linda Byrd; The Community Division includes markets that focus on the shared needs of one community and one trading area for most businesses and advertisers and will also group markets into areas which are geographically close and culturally similar.  The Community Division will be led by division presidents Shosh Abromovich, Nick Gnau, and Dan Lankford.  iHeartMedia also says it will use “its new technology- and AI-enabled Centers of Excellence – which consolidate functional areas of expertise in specific locations to deliver the highest quality products and services – for every market, enabling each to take advantage of the company’s scale and shared resources across programming, marketing, digital, podcasts, sales and sales support to provide a better experience for listeners and business partners and a more efficient process for all of its employees.”  Additionally, the company is creating a new division “that cuts across all markets – the very successful Multi-Market Partnerships (MMP) Division headed by Julie Donohue, who is elevated to president of MMP with responsibility for this business.”  As part of these moves, the company’s Integrated Revenue Strategies group, led by president Hartley Adkins, will be merged into the iHeartMedia Markets Group and Adkins will become chief operating officer of the Markets Group working closely with Greg Ashlock.

Newsmax TV Launches ‘Greg Kelly Reports’ in Evenings. Former U.S. Marine and television news broadcaster Greg Kelly joins Newsmax TV as the network debuts his “Greg Kelly Reports” program at 7:00 pm ET.  After leaving the Marines, Kelly became morning news anchor at WIVT-TV, Binghamton, New York.  He worked for several years at FOX News before spending almost 10 years as co-host of “Good Day New York” on WNYW-TV “FOX 5.”  Newsmax TV EVP of programming Elliot Jacobson says, “Greg Kelly comes with compelling new skill sets to our network.  His military experience and his years as a frontline TV journalist differentiate him from prime-time hosts on other channels and allow him to examine the day’s news from a unique and insightful perspective.”  Kelly – the son of former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly – says, “I am very curious.  I find that many people in the media have lost their curiosity.  They just want to let you know what they know.  I like to take a different approach.”  The “Greg Kelly Reports” show debuts tonight (1/14).

Entercom’s Buffalo Market Manager and Sales Administrative Manager Exit. The Buffalo News has the story of the sudden departure of longtime Entercom Buffalo market manager Greg Reid and sales administrative manager Lynn Hooper.  The paper reports the two were fired suddenly – Reid was reportedly called while on vacation and let go – and wonders if their dismissal is related to the company’s admission that it inadvertently failed to post required political advertising information on its website in a timely manner, prompting the FCC to broaden its look into the company’s public file practices.  However, Entercom has been reducing expenses at local clusters for several months via downsizing and it’s possible Reid and Hooper were simply victims of budget cuts.  The News reports that general sales manager Tim Holly is serving as interim market manager.

Report: WGN-AM Cuts Ties with Crain’s Chicago Business. Windy City media reporter Robert Feder has the story here.  He writes that Nexstar’s WGN-AM, Chicago “abruptly severed its longstanding partnership” with Crain’s Chicago Business after the publication wrote a speculative piece about Nexstar prepping the radio station for a sale.  Nexstar acquired WGN-AM along with Tribune’s television stations and it is its only radio property.  Crain’s reporters made regular appearances on WGN shows and WGN’s website hosted the “Crain’s Daily Gist” podcast.  That has been removed.

TALKERS News Notes. Ratings and research giant Nielsen Holdings plc announces the hiring of two executives as it moves to separate into two publicly traded companies.  David Rawlinson is named chief executive officer of the consumer behavior analysis division Global Connect.  He was most recently president of global online business at Grainger.  Also, Linda Zukauckas is named the chief financial officer for Nielsen.  Both appointments become official on February 3…..Four of Alpha Media’s Chicagoland stations are expected to move into new digs at the Gurnee Mills mall in the far northern suburbs in February.  News/talk WLIP-AM, Kenosha and rock WIIL, Union Grove in Wisconsin and Spanish sports WKRS and hot AC WXLC in Waukegan, Illinois are moving as part of a deal to bring foot traffic to the mall.  The village of Gurnee is paying Alpha $200,000 to assist in the transition and the radio stations will host 32 events at the mall each year and provide $129,000 per year in radio ad time to the mall…..QUU – a company specializing in RDS/HD in-car stereo display technology – names Steve Newberry chief executive officer, effective April 1.  Newberry has been serving as EVP for industry affairs and strategic planning at the National Association of BroadcastersBeasley Media Group is among QUU’s investors.

Impeachment/Russians Hack Ukrainian Gas Co, 2020 Presidential Race, Iran Tensions, Pensacola Base Shooting Ruled Terror Attack, Megxit, and NFL Playoffs/College Football Championship Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The articles of impeachment against President Trump and the allegation Russia hacked the Ukrainian gas company central to the impeachment issue; the rift between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and tonight’s debate in Des Moines; the domestic tensions in Iran and the White House’s rationale for killing Iranian general Qassem Soleimani; Attorney General William Barr rules the Pensacola naval base shooting was an act of terrorism and seeks Apple’s helping opening the assailant’s phones; the Sussex’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth over their stepping away from royal life; and the weekend’s NFL games and last night’s College Football Championship were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The Westwood One nationally syndicated “Rick and Sasha Show” adds programmer and production pro “Smokin” Tony Richards to the team of the urban AC morning show now heard on more than 25 stations.  Richards has worked as a drive time personality and programmer in markets including New York, Houston, Philadelphia, DC, and Chicago.  He says, “This show is going to the moon, and I want to be a part of it.  Rick and Sasha are two people who I feel are the future of radio.  I am here unselfishly to help the team make it happen.”…..In Dallas, Entercom’s alternative KVIL “ALT 103.7” names Ian Camfield afternoon drive personality.  Camfield was most recently midday personality at Hubbard Radio’s alternative KDKB, Phoenix “ALT AZ 93.3.”  As a result of Camfield’s arrival, Mark moves from afternoons to AM drive.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

| June 4, 2019

Lars Larson Inks New Deal with Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland. Talk radio star Lars Larson signs a new deal to continue hosting his daily program on Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland “FM News 101” through 2024.  As part of the deal, Larson’s 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm PT show is also broadcast to 21 stations in the Pacific Northwest via Alpha Media’s Radio Northwest Network.  Larson’s national radio show airs live on some 125 affiliate stations from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm PT via syndicator Compass Media Networks (with whom Larson also holds a multi-year contract).  Alpha Media SVP and market manager Lisa Decker says, “With the biggest local talk radio audience in the region, ‘The Lars Larson Show’ reaches more than 3.5 million listeners.  All of us at Alpha Media Portland, our listeners, and our advertisers are excited to extend our relationship with Lars for the next five years.”  Larson comments, “I’m thrilled to renew my relationship with a station I’ve been with through half a dozen presidents, a dozen NW governors, a live volcano eruption, and more than 25 years as a reporter, anchor, and now talk host.”

Cumulus Makes WABC Programmer Change Official. Yesterday (6/3), TALKERS magazine reported that former hot AC WPLJ, New York program director Dave LaBrozzi has taken over the programming reigns of Cumulus Media’s heritage news/talk WABC, New York, replacing Craig Schwalb.  Now, the company makes it official with a press release. LaBrozzi joined WPLJ in May of 2018.  Prior to that he was VP of programming for what is now Entercom’s Baltimore cluster (when it was owned by CBS RADIO) that includes sports talk duo WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan” and WJZ-AM “CBS Sports Radio 1300.”  He previously served as regional vice president of programming for iHeartMedia (back when it was Clear Channel) overseeing stations in Pittsburgh; Wheeling, West Virginia; and Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Cumulus New York VP and market manager Chad Lopez says, “Dave will be an incredible asset to 77 WABC and Radio 103.9/WNBM-FM, and brings experience in both the news/talk and urban AC formats to his new role with Cumulus New York.  We are looking forward to continuing to grow these stations and to giving their passionate listeners even more of the content and community connection that they rely on and enjoy every day.”

The Thompson Family’s Big Radio to Acquire Two More in Janesville, Wisconsin. Two historical Janesville, Wisconsin radio stations are changing hands as Skip BlissSouthern Wisconsin Broadcasting (a subsidiary of Bliss Communications) agrees to sell heritage news/talk WCLO-AM and country WJVL-FM to Ben Thompson-led Big Radio for an undisclosed sum.  Buyer Big Radio operates eight stations in the Southern Wisconsin markets of Beloit, Freeport, Monroe, and Janesville.  Skip Bliss’ father put WCLO on the air in 1930 and WJVL-FM launched in 1947.  Meanwhile, Big Radio was founded by Ben’s father Scott Thompson in 1996 with the purchase of two Monroe stations.  The sale announcement states that “[u]nder Ben’s leadership, Big Radio remains committed to its founding ideals, providing superior coverage of the community’s local news, sports, entertainment, and information.  Big Radio provides local news 365 days a year and its sports department broadcast over 350 regional high school sporting events last year.  Ben Thompson and Big Radio believe the future of radio is local, and aggressively pursue this strategy to the benefit of its listeners and advertisers.”  Kalil & Co., Inc. represents the buyer in this transaction.

New York’s WOR to Present Live Event Speaker Series. Big Apple news/talk WOR is launching an event series called “WOR Live” that will feature in-depth interviews and compelling speakers.  iHeartMedia announces that for the first event, station morning personality Len Berman will moderate a panel that will analyze the news business in 2019.  Joining Berman will be New York news personalities Rosanna Scotto – co-host of WNYW-TV’s “Good Day New York” – and Ernie Anastos, news anchor at WNYW “FOX News 5.”  The event also features networking opportunities and lunch and takes place at the Cutting Room on June 19 at 11:30 am.

Entercom’s New York All-News Stations Win Big at NYSAPA. WCBS-AM and WINS-AM – both all-news outlets operated by Entercom Communications – won a total of 16 2018 New York State Associated Press Association Awards. WCBS 880 received first place in seven categories, including top honor for “Outstanding News Operation for Radio.”  Sister station 1010 WINS was recognized with top honors in three categories, including for Best Newscast and Best Weathercast.  The stations collectively received second place finishes in six categories.  Winners were honored at NYSAPA’s annual awards dinner on June 1 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Trump’s UK Visit, 2020 Presidential Race, Deadly Virginia Beach Shootings, U.S.-China Tensions, Mexican Tariff Proposal/Immigration Issues, Big Tech Anti-Trust Investigation, and Holzhauer’s ‘Jeopardy!’ Run Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/3). The official state visit to the U.K. by President Trump; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; the aftermath of the shootings in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead; the diplomatic and economic tensions between the U.S. and China over the tariffs the U.S. has slapped on Chinese exports; the Trump Administration’s plan to place tariffs on Mexican exports and the Southern border immigration issues; the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into possible Big Tech anti-trust activity; and James Holzhauer’s improbable “Jeopardy!” run 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 Detroit, iHeartMedia names Bill Black director of urban programming for hip hop WJLB and urban contemporary WMXD “MIX 92.3,” taking over for Nate Bell, who left that position earlier this year.  Black comes to Detroit from his most recent position with Radio One in Cleveland programming hip hop WENZ and urban contemporary WZAK.  He says, “I am really thrilled to join the iHeartMedia team and be able to do what I love. The talented programmers that I get to collaborate with, coupled with these legendary Detroit urban stations are unmatched and I’m excited to get to work.”…..iHeartMedia appoints Dustin “Fletcher” Matthews program director for alternative WEND, Charlotte “106.5 The End,” effective June 10.  Matthews moves from the company’s St. Louis region where he was director of alternative rock programming.  iHeartMedia Virginia-Carolina Region SVP Chadwick “A.J.” Hausknecht says, “Dustin is one of the best alternative format programmers in the country.  His unmeasurable creativity and distinctive out-of-the-box thinking will be a great addition to our super passionate and strategic programming family here at iHeartMedia Charlotte.”…..Alpha Media announces that programmer Brown is moving from his PD position in Louisville to Columbia, South Carolina where he’ll serve as operations manager.  He continues as format captain for the company’s urban, urban AC, and gospel brands.  Alpha Media regional president Mike Hartel says, “Brown is a natural leader and he has been a star in our company for a while now.  We can’t wait to bring his big ideas and his big heart to our organization and our community in Columbia!”…..This past weekend, Premiere Networks-syndicated personality Delilah (left) appeared on the Food Network program,  “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” hosted by country star Trisha Yearwood (right).  Yearwood also sat down for an interview with Delilah for her podcast “Love Someone with Delilah.”  The three-time Grammy Award-winner discussed her life and career, including her first full-length studio album in more than 10 years, Let’s Be Frank: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra…..Entercom expands its LGBTQ+ Talk Radio Network CHANNEL Q to new markets, including: Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, and Washington D.C.  The network now brings the latest in LGBTQ+ news and information, pop culture, and new music to listeners in a total of 19 local markets and via the RADIO.COM app nationwide…..WAQX, New York morning personality Shelli Sonstein – longtime co-host of Q104.3’s “Jim Kerr Rock & Roll Morning Show” – led her fundraising team in the 2019 NYC Tunnel to Towers Climb that benefits the families of first responders and military personnel killed in action.  Sonstein led her team (pictured below) in their age group with a record time climbing the 104 stories of the World Trade Center.  She says, “I would like to thank Elvis Duran and my co-host Jim Kerr for their very generous donations, and of course, ‘Q104.3’ and iHeartMedia for supporting my efforts.  My entire team finished this very difficult climb and vows to be back again next year to raise even more funds and awareness of this great organization.”