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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

| March 10, 2021

Entercom Renews with Bloomberg News for Service to All-News and News/Talk Stations. The extension of this companywide deal between syndicator Key Networks, business news provider Bloomberg Radio and Entercom Communications keeps Bloomberg Radio’s business and consumer news on the majority of Entercom’s 26 all-news and news/talk stations, including 1010 WINS in New York, KNX-AM in Los Angeles, WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, and more. Under the new agreement, Bloomberg Radio will continue to provide Entercom stations with access to its world-class news content, including live, customized reports, “Bloomberg Money Minutes,” and Bloomberg specialty features including: “Bloomberg Business of Sports,” “Green Report,” “Small Business Report,” “Real Estate Report,” and more. Entercom vice president of news Bill Smee says, “As the unrivaled leader in local news radio, powered by some of the most iconic brands across the country, we’re proud to extend our partnership with Bloomberg Radio. Our news stations are committed to serving as a trusted source of vital information for our millions of listeners, and this partnership will continue to enhance the content they turn to on a daily basis.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “It is a privilege to bring the most in-depth business and financial news reports to Entercom stations that are best in class from coast to coast. This partnership brings Bloomberg-created content to listeners and advertisers and we look forward to building on this successful partnership with Entercom.”

Townsquare Media Repurchases Oaktree Capital Management’s Stake in Company. Spending $80.4 million in cash, Townsquare Media, Inc repurchases the entirety of Oaktree Capital Management L.P.’s 12.6 million shares and warrants of the company at $6.40 per security and retires those securities. Townsquare repurchases 100% of Oaktree’s 12.6 million shares and warrants, comprising 1.6 million shares of Class A common stock, 2.2 million shares of Class B common stock, and 8.8 million warrants. The purchase price of $6.40 per security reflects a 39% discount to the closing price of the Class A common stock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, and a 19% discount to the pre-announcement share price. In addition, Townsquare will pay Oaktree a $4.5 million consent fee related to the transaction in four installments, the first of which is due on April 1, 2021. Following the repurchase, Townsquare has approximately 16 million securities outstanding, inclusive of common stock and warrants. Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson says, “We could not be more pleased to share that given our strong cash position, we were able to repurchase 100% of Oaktree’s ownership interests in Townsquare, capturing a strong return for our shareholders. This is a beneficial transaction for our investors and the company. The Oaktree share repurchase is significantly accretive on an earnings per share and free cash flow per share basis in 2021, and entirely eliminates Oaktree’s ownership overhang for current and potential shareholders. We thank Oaktree for their long-term support of our company. We look forward to discussing our fourth quarter and year-end 2020 results as well as our first quarter 2021 outlook on our earnings call next week.”

Appleton Rock Station Fires Host for Limbaugh Comments. Rock WAPL-FM, Appleton, Wisconsin has fired longtime morning drive co-host Len Nelson, two weeks after it suspended him for a social media post in which, after opining about Rush Limbaugh’s effect on conservative politics, he closed with the statement “the world is a better place without Rush Limbaugh.” Nelson announced his dismissal with the following Facebook post: “My longtime WAPL radio partner, Rick McNeal, posted some nice words which I’m sharing here regarding my firing today and about our years together. I could not have asked for a better person, nor one more funny than he to have worked with. I am sad that it ends this way and that it puts so much pressure on Rick and the rest of my coworkers. But Rick is resilient, and our fans should rally to him as so many of you have rallied to me. Like I said in my previous post here, none of the air and sales staffs should be blamed for any of this. I put them in this situation, and I will regret that forever. As listeners and advertisers, you can make your own decisions but, in the end, WAPL and Woodward Radio Group are made up of lots of fine people with whom I shared decades of fun and profit. That hasn’t changed. Give them the respect they deserve and give Rick and Carol and whomever else will comprise the new morning crew a chance to entertain you and to serve you as clients. I know Rick is up to the challenge as is the rest of the WAPL team. Very little individual success ever happens without a team effort and I was fortunate to have a great team on which to play. I sincerely thank each of them for that.”

WABC, New York Officially Announces Greg Kelly Joins Station. In a move that was first revealed in the New York Post, Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC, New York brings Greg Kelly aboard to host the station’s 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm program. Kelly is also host of the 7:00 pm ET “Greg Kelly Reports” program on Newsmax TV.  Kelly is a former U.S. Marine who has served with television outlets NY1 and WNYW-TV “Fox 5 News” in New York. Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis says, “Greg Kelly is a broadcast veteran with a tremendous portfolio of experience in media. He is dynamic on the air, entertaining, and will bring listeners what they want to hear in a style that is uniquely his own. Greg Kelly is a terrific addition to our daytime radio programming and will bring along with him a loyal audience who appreciates his perspective on the political current events. We are happy to have him aboard.” Kelly is filling in for Curtis Sliwa, who is running for mayor of New York. Regarding Sliwa’s status with WABC, the station previously said, “77 WABC celebrates what is great about America. We support our democracy and our right to vote, fair elections, and the American process. It is with that in mind that, while Curtis Sliwa is a candidate for the Office of the Mayor of New York City, his radio show, podcast, and all related contributions to 77 WABC Radio are on hiatus.” Catsimatidis added, “WABC recently received notice that a longtime member of our WABC family, Curtis Sliwa, is officially running for mayor. Therefore, Curtis is currently on leave pending his mayoral bid. We wish him and all of the candidates good luck in the upcoming race. If Curtis is not successful, we look forward to him rejoining the WABC family.”

Entercom Announces Acquisition of Podcorn. This transaction puts the value of Podcorn at $22.5 million with an upfront cash payment of $14.6 million and a performance-based earnout over the next three years. Podcorn is a self-service marketplace that allows podcasters to connect with advertisers for native sponsorships. Entercom chairman, president, and CEO David Field says, “The acquisition of Podcorn expands Entercom’s product offering for advertisers and builds on our position as one of the country’s three largest podcast publishers and the #1 creator of original, premium audio content. By making it easier for brands to collaborate with targeted podcast creators of all sizes, we are addressing an important market opportunity in the fastest growing segment of media.” Podcorn’s marketplace includes nearly 40,000 creators and has facilitated thousands of podcast ad campaigns. Podcorn creates an infrastructure for enabling direct podcaster and advertiser relationships, surfacing the most relevant matches to scale native branded content, drive higher ROI for brands, and enhance how podcast creators monetize their content. Podcorn was founded by Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski following the successful acquisition by Google of their previous company FameBit, a marketplace for video influencers where brands and YouTube stars collaborated for branded content. Kozera and Kierzkowski will continue to lead Podcorn, joining Entercom’s leadership team. Kozera says, “Given the success that podcasters and brands have seen on Podcorn, we’re excited to join Entercom’s growing audio platform to accelerate our vision and help brands and podcasters succeed in an even bigger way. Together, we hope to provide the most effective podcast influencer marketing solution for brands and become the largest driver of brand deals for podcasters of all sizes.” Entercom chief digital officer J.D. Crowley adds, “Remarkably, only a fraction of podcasts generate revenue. We want to change that. Bringing together independent creators, chart-topping talent, and advertisers under one roof – and providing the tools to streamline collaboration, transparency and efficiency – provides greater value for advertisers, creators and listeners alike.”

TALKERS News Notes. The nationally syndicated “John Batchelor Show,” emanating from Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, leaves Westwood One and is now being syndicated by CBS News. There’s not much information available as this was done quietly, but Batchelor affiliate stations tell TALKERS magazine the change happened earlier this week…..Twin Cities radio personality, sports writer and producer Dana Wessel is joining Cumulus Media’s active rock KXXR “93X” as executive producer of the “Half-Assed Morning Show.” Wessel previously served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KXFN-FM “K-FAN,” and Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM…..SiriusXM announces that “Information Overload with Vernon Reid” launches on Friday (3/12) on the Volume channel. On the monthly program, musician and Living Colour guitarist Reid sits down with artists, authors, and celebrities to explore how the power of music can help in healing and creating change. Reid will explore topics from racism and social unrest to cultural moments and the onslaught of information and misinformation in social media.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, and British Royals Interview Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/9). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package goes back to the House; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the aftermath of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s interview with Oprah were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

| October 30, 2019

Round Two of October PPM Ratings Released. The second of four rounds of October 2019 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis.  The October 2019 rating period covered September 12 to October 9.  Some (6+) ratings gains of note from these markets include: Entercom’s sports talk WJFK-FM, Washington rises 0.8 to a 4.3 share and a #8 ranking in the market; both Boston sports talkers see positive movement as Beasley Media Group’s WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” climbs 1.1 to a 6.1 share and #4 in the market while Entercom’s WEEI goes up 0.7  to 4.4 share and #7 in the market; Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR, Detroit climbs 0.6 to a 2.9 share; Bonneville’s KMVP, Phoenix “98.7 Arizona Sports” gains 0.7 to a 3.1 share; iHeartMedia’s news/talk KOGO, San Diego ranked #5 in the market after a 0.7 increase to a 5.0 share; and recent programming changes at iHeartMedia’s KDFD, Denver “Freedom 93.7” push it up a full share to a 2.1 and #18 in the market.  TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian, as he does each month, presents his “Takeaways” from the performances of each market’s spoken-word and music stations. See his “Takeaways” from this second round here.  You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.

TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow (10/31), C-SPAN2 will air a one-hour special television program about the new book by nationally syndicated radio host Todd Starnes titled, Culture Jihad: How to Stop the Left From Killing a Nation (2019, Post Hill Press).  Former longtime FOX News Radio host Starnes is launching a new, three-hour talk show on Monday (11/4).  Interested stations can inquire about the program by emailing: media@hamiltonstrategies.com…..The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that WIP, Philadelphia overnight on-air personality Big Daddy Graham is dealing with a setback in his health situation that began with a spinal cord injury back in July.  His daughter Ava Graham, who works on the Angelo Cataldi morning show on the station, told listeners her father is back in the hospital suffering with double pneumonia, an inflamed kidney, and a necrotic femur.  He spent 88 days in the hospital recovering from the spinal cord injury that has left him paralyzed from the waist down…..Tomorrow night (10/31), Premiere Networks personality George Noory will continue his traditional “Ghost to Ghost AM” version of the “Coast to Coast AM” show.  It will feature ghost stories, open-line callers, and a Halloween greeting from actor Bill Mumy (“Lost in Space” and “Babylon 5”), as well as a deceased guest.  He’ll also welcome special guests, including The Haunted Housewives – Theresa Argie and Cathi Weber…..WSCO-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin “The Score” morning personality Brian Butch is adding duties with the Big Ten Network this season as a game and studio analyst.  The former University of Wisconsin basketball star says, “I’m excited for this opportunity and for a chance to get back to my Big Ten roots.  I look forward to continuing my growth as a broadcaster and sharing my knowledge of basketball with the viewers.”  Butch co-hosts the “BJ and the Bear” program on the Woodward Radio Group sports talk outlet.  He’s also filled in on FOX Sports Radio’s Rich Eisen show…..Premiere Networks and Dr. Dave Creative Entertainment announce the launch of the “Legit Check” podcast, hosted by Yeezy Busta.  The program is “a journey through the evolving and influential world of sneaker culture.  Each week, Yeezy Busta will invite celebrities, musicians, comedians, athletes, and other sneaker enthusiasts to discuss the state of sneaker culture –where it’s going, the people who influence it, the latest trends, its effect on music, and much more.”

Westwood One: Boomers Are a Demographic Brands Shouldn’t Ignore. In its weekly blog post, Westwood One states that while so many advertisers are focusing on targeting Millennials, “Boomers account for 54% of all disposable income, making them an important demographic brands can’t afford to ignore.  Using AM/FM radio, they can reach and influence this desirable consumer group.” Some of the data points in the report include: Boomers 50+ spend nearly $550 billion annually on their home and personal retail. Boomers have a more active lifestyle than Millennials, spending 56% more time doing leisure activities and sports and 22% more time shopping than Millennials 25-34, according to the Video Advertising Bureau; Weekly, persons 50-64 spend an average of 14 hours and 35 minutes with AM/FM radio.  Daily, they are clocking an average of 2 hours and 5 minutes with AM/FM radio; and Boomers especially connect with classic rock, the music of their formative years, as well as news/talk and sports format stations.  See the blog here.

Impeachment Inquiry Testimony, California Wildfires, 2020 Presidential Race, Boeing CEO Testimony, Rising Sea Levels/Global Warming, and Brexit Election Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/29). Tuesday’s testimony from National Security Council member Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman before the House Intelligence Committee about President Trump’s plea to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden; the California wildfires that have some 25 million people on edge and the PG&E power blackouts; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; the latest report on climate change and rising sea levels; and Britain’s December 12 elections in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to gain conservative PMs to push his Brexit plan through were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Nominations Open for 2020 NAB Technology Awards. The National Association of Broadcasters announces it is opening nominations for the 2020 Technology Awards to be presented at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.  The Radio and Television Engineering Achievement Awards are presented to individuals for their outstanding accomplishments in the radio or television broadcast industry and include the following honors: Radio Engineering Achievement Award; Television Engineering Achievement Award; Technology Innovation Award; and Best Paper Award.  NAB executive vice president and chief technology officer Sam Matheny says, “It is an annual highlight to present these awards to deserving individuals and organizations in celebration of our industry’s technical and engineering achievements.  I look forward to again recognizing the successes that foster progress in broadcast technology and broadcaster innovation at the 2020 NAB Show.”  The deadline for nominations is January 13, 2020. Nomination forms and detailed award rules are available at nab.org/events/awards.asp, along with listings of past recipients.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. WKSC, Chicago “103.5 KISS FM” promotes overnight and weekend personality JRDN to the 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show.  iHeartMedia Chicago SVP of programming James Howard says, “He brings a level of energy to events that no one can match.  Through his charisma and passion for both music and radio, JRND creates inviting and exciting experiences for listeners on the air and in person.”…..Eight-year iHeartMedia New York engineer Tony Peiffer returns to Lewistown, Pennsylvania to take on the market manager role at Mifflin County Communications/Nittany Media where he’ll be in charge of active rock WCHX-FM, country WVNW-FM “Star Country 96.7,” and classic hits WKVA-AM/W262DO “Big 100.3.”  He says, “This is sort of a homecoming, as I had worked with this company prior to my move to the Big Apple.  I’m looking forward to rejoining and now leading the team in Lewistown.  I’d like to thank Ann Hain, Jon Hain, and the entire leadership team at Nittany Media for putting their faith in me to rebuild their hometown heritage stations and brands.”…..Entercom announces the lineups and dates for the “Stars and Strings” concerts in New York (12/4), Detroit (12/6), and Chicago (12/8).  Entercom SVP of programming and music initiatives Michael Martin says, “‘Stars and Strings’ has been consistently sold out in Chicago every year since its inception and sold out in under 30 minutes in its debut in Detroit.  We look forward to expanding the show to additional cities to reflect the strength and mass appeal reach of country music.”  The Detroit lineup includes: Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini, Jon Pardi, Brett Young and Ryan Hurd and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Folds of Honor – a charity that provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members.  To date, Entercom has raised more than $250,000 for Folds of Honor.  The New York show will feature: Sam Hunt, Dustin Lynch, Chris Janson, Blanco Brown, Runaway June, Gone West, and Matt Stell.  The Chicago event will feature: Kane BrownChris Janson, Scotty McCreery, Lindsay Ell, and Seaforth…..Google and SiriusXM announce that SiriusXM will be available on Google Nest smart speakers and displays via the Google Assistant.  Rolling out over the next week, users will see SiriusXM’s extensive lineup of programming in the Google Home app, available on iOS and Android devices…..Last night (10/29), Big Sean took the stage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for iHeartRadio LIVE.  He performed hits including” “Bezerk,” “Single Again,” and “Bounce Back,” as well as some of his earlier hits.  Pictured backstage at the Apollo are (from l-r): iHeartMedia EVP of programming Thea Mitchem; iHeartMedia manager, artist relations, urban programs Newal Dehan; Big Sean; iHeartMedia president of entertainment enterprises John Sykes; and iHeartMedia artist operations and production Natasha Lees. Photo: Rachel Kaplan.

Monday, February 18, 2019

| February 18, 2019

Hannity and Limbaugh Cited as Talk Media’s Political Influence Gains Attention. Multi-media news/talk superstar Sean Hannity is often said by some Trump administration critics to be an unofficial member of the president’s cabinet.  However one feels about that sentiment, it is clear that the conservative news/talk media has some degree of influence in Trump administration policy.  That becomes more evident when President Trump says such things as, “Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do.”  And about Rush Limbaugh: “He can speak for three hours without a phone call.  Try doing that sometime.  For three hours he speaks.  He’s got one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world.  I mean, this guy is unbelievable.”  Those quotes come from a New York Times piece covering the president’s Rose Garden press event on Friday (2/15).  Although Trump also said, “They don’t decide policy,” there’s a general sentiment among political and media types that the president looks to conservative talk media to understand what his base is thinking.  At this morning’s meeting of the TALKERS editorial staff, publisher Michael Harrison stated, “One of the most significant yardsticks in determining a communication platform’s success is influence.  How much of a difference does it make in the scheme of things?  Does it move the needle?  Since the modern era of talk radio began with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the medium and its hosts have been judged heavily by the level of influence they wield in their communities and markets. Taking this into account, the influence Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others maintain in the Age of Trump is remarkable and certainly a boon to talk media of all political flavors.”

New Evening Lineup at KNBR, San Francisco. Bay Area sports talk outlet KNBR announces changes to its evening “KNBR Tonight” programming that airs from 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight.  The Cumulus Media station bring Bay Area native Mark Willard aboard to host the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm portion of the show and moves current evening personality Drew Hoffar to the 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight portion.  KNBR program director Jeremiah Crowe states, “I’m extremely excited to welcome Mark back to the Bay Area and into our KNBR family.  ‘KNBR Tonight’ is about connecting with fans as the games are being played and Mark will excel in that arena across all KNBR platforms.  Listeners now also get to hear Drew shine as a solo host in his own time slot.  ‘KNBR Tonight’ will continue to serve as THE nightly destination for local sports talk and I can’t wait to hear these two dynamic personalities back-to-back on ‘The Sports Leader!’”  Willard comes to KNBR from his most recent gig with iHeartMedia’s KLSD, San Diego “XTRA Sports” where he was midday host.  He’s also served with FOX Sports Radio Network; KSPN, Los Angeles “710 ESPN”; and ESPN’s SportsNation based in LA.

Woodward Makes Programming Moves at WHBY and WSCO in Green Bay/Appleton, Wisconsin. The news/talk and sports talk stations in the Green Bay-Appleton market operated by Woodward Radio Group have a new brand manager as Jonathan Krause assumes the role.  Krause comes to news/talk WHBY and sports talk WSCO “The Score” from his most recent position with Cumulus Media’s news/talk WOSH, Oshkosh.  Krause says, “I look forward to continuing the traditions of WHBY and WSCO providing high-quality information and entertainment for the Fox Valley.  And I hope to expand our community involvement throughout the region.”  At the same time, the company welcomes Appleton native Brian Butch to WSCO as a member of the “B.J. and The Bear” morning drive show with host B.J. DeGroot.  Butch will also serve as a part-time sales executive for WHBY and WSCO.

Monday Memo: YOUR Four?  Consultant Holland Cooke’s Monday Memo offers up a call-in topic for today’s President’s Day holiday.  There are four (generally) revered U.S. presidents depicted on Mt. Rushmore – Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln. What if your listeners could vote for their four favorite presidents to be immortalized in stone?  Read Cooke’s Monday Memo column here.

WPHT Radiothon Raises $151,000 for Liberty USO. Friday’s second annual WPHT Radiothon to benefit Liberty USO – an organization that provides active, Guard, and Reserve military and their families with programs and services at the United Service Organization of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey – raised $151,535.  Air personalities from Entercom’s news/talk WPHT are pictured above taking part in the daylong broadcast.  They are (from l-r): afternoon drive host Rich Zeoli, late morning personality Dom Giordano, and morning talk host Chris Stigall.

TALKERS News Notes. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN-AM weekend radio personality Amy Guth is embarking on a daily podcast project for Crain’s Chicago Business.  The show is called “The Daily Gist” and will consist of “a mix of the day’s top stories and an in-depth segment in which Guth will interview a Crain’s reporter or columnist.”…..Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics are announcing they have radio broadcast deals for the 2019 season.  The team has a three-company deal that will see games air on Salem Media Group’s news/talk KTRB-AM, San Francisco “The Answer,” Bonneville’s sports talk KHTK, Sacramento, and digital platform Tune In.  In the broadcast booth will be play-by-play team Ken Korach and Vince CotroneoChris Townsend is serving as studio host with Ray Fosse making guest appearances…..In Baltimore, longtime Baltimore Orioles play-by-play voice Joe Angel is retiring after 19 years with the team (and 42 years in the business).  Games are broadcast on Entercom’s WJZ-FM “The Fan.”…..The MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates have a new broadcast team for games that air on Entercom’s KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan.”  The station says Dan Zangrilli will return to host the station’s pregame and postgame broadcasts, a role he held from 2012 to 2016.  Jack Zduriencik will return for his fourth season as an analyst.  Station veteran Kraig Riley, who has been with “93.7 The Fan” since 2010 as a producer, will join the broadcast team for the first time alongside Zangrilli and Zduriencik.

Border Wall Emergency Declaration, Trump-vs ‘SNL,’ McCabe on ’60 Minutes,’ 2020 Presidential Hopefuls, Fatal Chicago Workplace Shooting, Amazon/NYC Breakup, Jussie Smollett Case, Payless Shutters U.S. Stores, and NBA/NHL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The aftermath of President Trump’s emergency declaration to use Pentagon funds for the U.S.-Mexico wall project; President Trump’s attack on “Saturday Night Live” for its parody of his emergency declaration presser; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s interview on Sunday’s “60 Minutes”; the Democrats lining up to challenge President Trump in 2020 and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld considers challenging Trump in the Republican primary; the workplace shooting in Aurora, Illinois that took the lives of five; Amazon’s decision to back out of its proposed Queens operations after political pressure from Democrats; the controversy surrounding actor Jussie Smollett’s assault accusations; retail icon Payless Shoes to close U.S. stores; and NBA and NHL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Dallas programming and on-air pro Jesse Salazar adds assistant program director duties to his afternoon on-air role and music director responsibilities at Radio One’s rhythmic CHR KBFB “97.9 The Beat.”  Radio One Dallas vice president of programming operations Mark McCray says, “Jesse has the experience, attitude, and work ethic that makes his graduation to APD an easy decision.”…..On-air pro Chris Payne joins Evans Broadcasting’s alternative KRAT, Reno, “ALT 92.9” to host the morning drive program.  Payne was most recently in an on-air role with Shamrock Communications’ crosstown KRZQ prior to it flipping from alternative to adult contemporary in July of 2017.