Weekly Reach, Average Audience Post Highest Levels In 14 Months. As the nation continues to reopen and returns to pre-pandemic routines, the industry experiences another month of radio listening gains. According to results from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey period, radio’s weekly reach is at its highest level since March 2020 and has grown each of the past four months. In the latest sweep (May 2021), radio’s reach surpassed 122 million weekly listeners, which is within two million of where it was before lockdown precautions took effect last year. In May 2021, radio’s Average Quarter-Hour (AQH) audience also scored its highest level since March 2020. Coinciding with vaccination rollouts and more normal commutes, AQH audience levels have increased 11% since January. PPM’s year-over-year (May 2020 – May 2021) weekly reach and AQH comparisons stand at a 108 index and 120 index, respectively. From a weekly reach perspective, May 2021’s radio audience is 8% larger than this time last year, while the AQH audience is 20% larger versus May 2020. May 2021 listening gains were widespread, with all major dayparts at or near AQH peaks since COVID-19 began. Weekday morning drive and weekends hit their highest audience levels in 15 months. May 2021’s weekend AQH (6.6 million) is 300,00 higher than March 2020’s 6.3 million, before the peak of the lockdown. Even though news/talk is lower than in prior months (12.6% in May 2021, compared to May 2020’s 13.6%), it does remain the most-listened to format in PPM markets. Registering its third gain in a row (4.1% – 4.2% – 4.4% – 4.6%), sports talk posts its highest AQH share since COVID-19 began, surpassing October’s high point (4.5%) when football season was in full swing.
Round One of May 2021 PPM Ratings Released. The first of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). In presenting his “Ratings Takeaways” from this round of markets, Mike Kinosian notes that, while it erodes by one full-share from April 2021 (9.6 – 8.6, 6+), Cox Media Group Atlanta’s WSB-AM & WSBB is the only mainstream news/talk outlet to reach #1 (24th consecutive month, 6+). Meanwhile, the lone news/talk stations from the aforementioned metros that finished in the top 20 (6+) and posted an April 2021 – May 2021 increase are Cumulus Media’s WBAP, Dallas (3.2 – 3.4, 6+) and Townsquare Media-owned WKXW, Middlesex (3.8 – 4.1, +.3, 6+). Off one-half share and three-tenths, respectively are Audacy NYC news siblings WINS (3.2 – 2.7, #11 to #14, 6+) and Mets key station WCBS-AM (2.7 – 2.4, #15 to #16, 6+). Cumulus Media San Francisco sports talk KNBR (Giants) improves by eight-tenths (4.3 – 5.1, 6+) to progress from fourth to third. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete “Ratings Takeaways” here.
IBA/Vipology Technology Contest Creates Nearly $1 Million In Local Sponsorships. During an eight-week “Key Word Contest” (April 19 – June 11), participating Independent Broadcasters Association (IBA) member stations collectively generated approximately one million dollars of revenue from local sponsors. IBA president/Adams Radio Group chief executive officer Ron Stone notes, “Hundreds of our member stations were able to generate new revenue from our group contesting. “Vipology’s technology, member execution/management, and data follow-up was nothing short of spectacular. We are planning a second contest for the fall; many participating groups have already indicated their interest in participating again.” Vipology CEO Chris Peaslee adds, “From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Pittsburg, Kansas, I’m proud of our team for building the technology and supporting hundreds of stations across the country in their effort to sound big on-air and powerful in their markets.” Participating stations’ on-air personalities gave three key words throughout the day. Listeners were then encouraged to enter the words on the IBA “contest widget” on that station’s website. Listeners correctly identifying the day’s ‘Winning Key Word” became eligible for that day’s random drawing to win $1,000.
Shattuck Set To Join WTIC-AM. Formerly the senior editor of Lowell Massachusetts’ “The Lowell Sun,” Tom Shattuck will become the mid-day host (10:00 am – 2:00 pm) on news/talk WTIC-AM “1080 News Talk” next Monday (6/21). The Audacy Hartford outlet will feature all-local programming from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm. Audacy Hartford senior vice president/market manager Stephanie Perl opines, “Radio is best when it is local, when we can discuss and look at the local issues affecting our listeners. Being able to expand our local weekday programming further separates WTIC-AM from other radio stations in the state and we look forward to unveiling this new slate of content to our audience.” According to Shattuck, “[WTIC-AM] has been serving the people of Connecticut for almost 100 years. I’m truly honored to be given the opportunity to contribute to the legacy of this great station. These are extraordinary times and I look forward to talking about our politics and culture with the thoughtful, astute WTIC-AM audience.” Shattuck previously was editorial page editor of The Boston Herald and executive producer of Boston Herald Radio. In addition, he spent four years at Boston’s WTKK as executive producer of the afternoon drive show and was a content manager, web designer, and executive producer at cross-town news/talk WRKO. In other WTIC-AM changes, morning show co-host Brian Shactman will add “Extra Time with Brian.” As of next Monday (6/21), the station’s revised 5:00 am – 6:00 pm lineup will be: “WTIC Sunrise Special” (5:00 am – 5:30 am); “Mornings with Ray and Brian” (5:30 am – 9:00 am); “Extra Time with Brian” (9:00 am – 10:00 am); “The Tom Shattuck Show” (10:00 am – 2:00 pm); and “The Todd Feinburg Show” (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm).
TALKERS 2021 Was a Success! The 24th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important conference, the Talkers Convention, took place last Friday (6/11) on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The event was a presentation of TALKERS in association with Hofstra’s multi-award-winning radio station, WRHU. More than 50 industry leaders from talk radio and cable news/talk TV spoke during a non-stop day of presentations and panel sessions. Due to strict regulations adhering to COVID-19 protocols, attendance was limited to a sellout crowd of 175 people which was reached about a week prior to the event. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments, “We were delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues at Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2016 event – and be able to actually present a live conference in an extremely COVID-19 compliant environment which Hofstra was equipped to provide. The convention achieved its goal to boldly address key existential issues facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture.” TALKERS will be posting extensive coverage of the event in the days to come including video documentation recorded under the direction of Art Vuolo covering every speech, presentation and panel discussion. Stay tuned for details.
TALKERS News Notes. After a five-year run at KNBR “The Sports Leader” and KTCT “KNBR 1050,” program director Jeremiah Crowe is set to depart the Cumulus Media sports talk facilities the middle of next month. A new assignment has not been announced for Crowe, who is reportedly relocating to Las Vegas … Starting next Wednesday (6/23) at 9:00 am, Audacy Chicago sports talk WSCR “670 The Score” will air a 24-hour “What About Chicago?” radiothon. In partnership with former Chicago Bears player Sam Acho, the radiothon will benefit Athletes For Justice and the Austin Harvest program. WSCR afternoon talent Danny Parkins comments, “I hate when people who don’t care about our city ask ‘What about Chicago?’ in bad faith. The name ‘What About Chicago’ is a defiant response and this radiothon will hopefully highlight what Chicago is really about: A Chicago radio station partnering with a Chicago charity with a mission to help improve the lives of Chicago kids in a Chicago neighborhood.” … In acknowledgement for its protest coverage following the death of George Floyd, Audacy San Francisco all-news KCBS-AM & KFRC has won a national Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Sigma Delta Chi award for “Best Radio Breaking News Reporting.” KCBS-AM & KFRC director of news & programming Jennifer Seelig comments, “I’m incredibly proud of my team’s thoughtful and compelling protest coverage. On behalf of everyone at KCBS-AM & KFRC, I’d like to thank SPJ for this prestigious honor. [We strive] to deliver comprehensive coverage of stories that resonate with our audience. This recognition underscores our unwavering commitment to our community.” KCBS-AM & KFRC was the only commercial station in the country to win in any category … Even though its officials have not released an official statement, Cox Media Group continues to rectify digital damage apparently caused by a ransomware attack. Those trying to stream a CMG station hear the following, “This stream is currently unavailable and we are working diligently to bring it back online. Our radio stations continue to broadcast 24/7; you can listen to us over the air – thanks for your patience.” Cox Media Group news/talk outlets include WSB-AM & WSBB, Atlanta; WHPT, Tampa, WDBO, Orlando; and WOKV-FM, Jacksonville.
Facebook Censors Harry Hurley’s “Heavy Hundred” Post. A post regarding Townsquare Media Atlantic City news/talk WPGG “WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM & 1450 AM” morning host Harry Hurley being named to the TALKERS list of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America (“Heavy Hundred”) has been censored by Facebook. In an article posted this morning on the “WPG Talk Radio” website, Hurley (pictured with TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison at TALKERS 2021) says that his story about receiving the honor was taken down by the social media giant with the explanation that it does not meet Facebook’s community standards and that the URL to the feature is considered spam. To read the entire article, please click https://wpgtalkradio.com/facebook-censored-my-post-about-talkers-magazine-honor/.
Now Saluting “Kentucky Colonel” Roten. WVHU “News Radio 800” morning talk host Tom Roten was recently presented a plaque commissioning him as a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions as Kentucky Colonels are presented for contributions to the community, state, or nation, and for special achievements of all kinds. The honor stunned Roten, who happened to be emceeing a grant award ceremony. Kentucky Colonels executive director Sherry Crose spoke of Roten’s commitment to the community and years of promoting charitable organizations and then made the surprise presentation. Having just marked his 20th anniversary at the iHeartMedia Huntington, West Virginia – Ashland, Kentucky station, Roten remarked, “This is such a tremendous honor – I am very grateful.” Roten has interviewed hundreds of guests from the region including many from the Commonwealth. He regularly talks to state and federal lawmakers from the Bluegrass State and speaks to representatives of many Kentucky charitable groups. For over 10 years, Roten served as public service director for iHeartRadio’s Huntington-Ashland cluster and has written/produced hundreds of PSAs for non-profit organizations. Approximately 30 Eastern Kentucky charities received a portion of $2.1 million in grants that the Kentucky Colonels will award this year. Kentucky Colonels are that state’s ambassadors of goodwill and fellowship around the world.
Total Subscribers To Paid Audio Services Double in Six Years. According to data from Edison Research’s “Share of Ear,” 47% of Americans 13+ now subscribe to at least one paid audio service. That’s just over double what it was in 2015, when 23% had a paid subscription. Edison Research president Larry Rosin comments, “While much of this doubling of the numbers is the redirection of money that was going to physical music formats to music streaming subscriptions, there is also the trend of more people paying to avoid commercials. I believe we’ll see more subscription efforts in the future, particularly from radio companies. Bauer Media in the U.K. recently launched a subscription radio service that offers commercial-free versions of their radio brands and other content. Such efforts are likely to be launched in the U.S. as well.” Growth has come across the board from SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Audible audiobook subscriptions to music streaming services such as Spotify Premium, Apple Music, and Pandora Premium or Plus.
KCUR Enlists Edgell As Midwest Newsroom Managing Editor. Effective July 6, public radio news/talk WFYI, Indianapolis project manager/assistant editor Holly Edgell will join University of Missouri-Kansas City’s similarly-programmed KCUR, Kansas City as managing editor of the Midwest Newsroom. KCUR general manager Sarah Morris states, “We are thrilled to have had such a strong pool of candidates and delighted that Holly will be joining the Midwest Newsroom as a KCUR employee. Holly has extensive leadership in working with newsrooms across the midwest and beyond. She will help form and create a highly functional and collaborative team for the hub.” NPR managing editor for collaborative journalism Kenya Young adds, “We’re excited to see Holly join our team of stellar managing editors leading the hub newsrooms across the country. Holly at the helm ensures our mission to plan shared coverage and create stories that reach local, regional, and national audiences. Holly will be an agent of change in the midwest region; I look forward to seeing how she shapes collaborative journalism within our network.” KCUR is lead partner in the NPR-formed Midwest Newsroom, a collaborative among Nebraska Public Media; Iowa Public Radio; St. Louis Public Radio; and NPR.
iHeartPodcast Network Adds Three True Crime Mysteries. The new entries include: “Missing On 9/11”; “After The Uprising: The Death Of Danye Dion Hones”; and “Algorithm.” From the producers of “Missing In Alaska,” “Missing On 9/11” traces the whereabouts of a woman living near the World Trade Center who disappeared on that horrific day. John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski-hosted “After The Uprising” is an 11-part series that examines the truth behind the hanging death of a St. Louis Black Lives Matter activist. From iHeartMedia and Tenderfoot TV, Ben Kuebrich-hosted “Algorithm” is an examination of a reporter’s algorithm he claims can detect serial killers.
Report: Sebastian Gorka’s ‘America First’ YouTube Channel Terminated. According to a report in the Washington Examiner, the Sebastian Gorka’s “America First” YouTube channel has been terminated for its “presidential election integrity policy.” Gorka’s “America First” program is syndicated nationally via Salem Radio Network live in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET daypart. He served as a one-time aide to President Donald Trump. The Examiner reports that YouTube spokesperson Ivey Choi told it, “In accordance with our long-standing strikes system, we terminated the channel ‘America First with Sebastian Gorka’ for repeated violations of our presidential election integrity policy. As we’ve publicly shared, our presidential election integrity policy prohibits content uploaded after last year’s safe harbor deadline that alleges widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Any channel that violates this policy will receive a strike and channels that receive three strikes in the same 90-day period are permanently removed from YouTube, as in the case of ‘America First with Sebastian Gorka.’”
Grace Curley Show Continues to Add New Affiliate Stations. The Boston-based early afternoon talk radio program “The Grace Curley Show” adds new affiliate stations – including Saga Communications’ WHMP-AM, Northampton, Massachusetts and Sugar River Media’s news/talk duo WNTK-FM and WUVR-FM in New London, New Hampshire. The Grace Curley Show is produced and syndicated by the Howie Carr Radio Network. Howie Carr says, “Grace Curley continues to expand as she has put together an excellent modern talk show with daily compelling, fresh content.” Curley’s program launched in January of this year on WRKO, Boston and recent affiliates adding the program include: Saga’s WGAN, Portland; WFEA, Manchester, New Hampshire; and WKBK, Keene, New Hampshire; plus Harrison Irrevocable Trust’s trio of news/talkers WTPL, Hillsboro; WTSN, Dover; and WEMJ, Laconia in New Hampshire. Howie Carr Radio Network president Kathy Carr comments, “It is exciting to see such a young talent grow so rapidly.”
Cox Media Group Adds Mark Kaye Show to KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa. As it did at O&O WOKV-FM, Jacksonville, Cox Media Group fills the early afternoon daypart occupied for so many years by Rush Limbaugh with WOKV-based talk show host Mark Kaye on its Tulsa news/talker KRMG-AM/FM. Kaye was a longtime morning drive personality on CMG’s CHR WAPE-FM, Jacksonville who left that role last year to focus on his talk show on sister WOKV-FM. Kaye says, “As a life-long fan of Rush Limbaugh, I am still adjusting to a world without his voice. Producing a daily show in ‘Rush’s timeslot’ is a daunting task for any broadcaster, but I am grateful to the leadership team at CMG along with 102.3 KRMG for placing their trust in me. With the audience’s help I promise to do my best to keep Rush’s spirit, energy, and unique brand of conservative entertainment alive. This is an incredibly bittersweet opportunity.” CMG Radio EVP Rob Babin adds, “Our stations across the country will greatly miss Rush. We’re pleased to have our own CMG talent to take over that show time in the Tulsa market who has a long successful track record of great ratings and building large audiences, and is very compatible with the brand of entertaining and engaging programming that our listeners expect from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.”
Woofy Appointed OM for JVC Media’s Emerald Coast Cluster. Radio pro Woofy Ramone is joining JVC Media of Florida’s Fort Walton Beach/Destin station group as operations manager overseeing talk WZLB “Florida Man Radio 103.1,” CHR WECQ, country WHWY, and classic hits WWAV, effective in early June. JVC executive Shane Reeve states, “JVC’s commitment to the Emerald Coast and all of our markets is to grow our culture of great LOCAL radio for our listeners and clients. The addition of Woofy as our operations manager for JVC Fort Walton Beach is great for everyone in the market. Woofy is synonymous with the Emerald Coast, having been involved in many local charities, broadcasting and helping listeners through our area’s big hurricanes, and having a top-rated show for almost 30 years. I’m thrilled to work with Woofy again and to have someone of Woofy’s experience and stature on board with the JVC family.” JVC Florida director of programming Stevie DeMann adds, “I’m excited Woofy is joining the JVC team! It is going to be fun to watch him lend his knowledge and expertise of the Emerald Coast to our brands and staff. He’s a natural to continue our culture of FUN radio that works for the community, clients, and our loyal listeners!”
Stanberry Named VP of Government Relations at NAB. The National Association of Broadcasters announces Charlyn Stanberry joins the organization as vice president of government relations, effective today. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Charlyn has exceled on Capitol Hill, in the private sector and in the legal community, and commands expert knowledge of the legislative process. America’s local broadcasters will greatly benefit from Charlyn’s work on their behalf and we are delighted to welcome her to NAB.” Stanberry was most recently chief of staff for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-09). She is also an adjunct professor at the University of the District of Columbia where she teaches Foundation Civics and Ethics & Values.
Westwood One Blog Takes Aim at Myths About Radio. In this week’s Westwood One blog by chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard, he addresses “the perception of media audiences” that is “skewed by prevalent myths in the ad community.” In the column, he sets out to disprove “eight of the biggest perceptions brands hold about AM/FM radio.” Perception #1: “Due to the pandemic, no one is listening to AM/FM radio.” Reality: According to the latest Nielsen Fall 2020 Nationwide Report, AM/FM radio has retained 95% of its persons 18+ reach from the Fall 2019 survey. Perception #2: “Due to the pandemic, everyone’s working at home and no one is commuting.” Reality: According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, 60% of Americans are commuting every day, a sharp contrast to the perception. Perception #3: “AM/FM radio has very low reach.” Reality: 88% of all Americans are reached by AM/FM radio on a weekly basis, according to Nielsen’s Q3 2020 Total Audience Report. See the rest of the blog here.
CMG Names Kim Dallow Tulsa Director of Radio Operations. Programming pro Kim Dallow officially rises to director of radio operations for Cox Media Group’s Tulsa cluster. Dallow has served with CMG Tulsa for 14 years, most recently as director of branding & programming of classic rock KJSR “103.3 The Eagle,” a position she will continue to hold. She’s been acting OM for the cluster for the past year. She says, “It’s such a privilege to work with this team of outstanding broadcasters. I’m so proud of the local programming and community support that CMG Tulsa consistently provides, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to help ensure that its legacy of excellence continues.”
Minneapolis Police Shooting Protests/Derek Chauvin Trial, COVID-19, Border Crisis, China’s Taiwan Exercises, Matt Gaetz Investigation, Iran Nuclear Site Attack, and BLM Founder’s Growing Real Estate Portfolio Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/12). Clashes erupt between police and protestors in Minneapolis after police kill a Black man during a traffic stop and the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; the spikes of COVID-19 cases in some states, the recommended pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and the rollout of the other vaccines; the large number of unaccompanied children amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; China’s aggressive military policy regarding Taiwan; the investigation into allegations U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz paid for sex with a minor; the attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility and the state of the Iran nuclear deal; and criticism of Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Kahn-Cullors’ growing real estate portfolio were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.