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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

| July 3, 2019

TALKERS magazine Offices Closed for Fourth of July Holiday Weekend. The offices of TALKERS magazine will be closed from July 4-7 in observance of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  We’ll be back with regular news updates and delivery of our daily emailer on Monday, July 8.  However, should big industry news break over the four-day weekend, we’ll report it on Talkers.com.  TALKERS wishes all readers a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday.

Programmer Changes at WPHT, Philadelphia.  As TALKERS tipped yesterday, programming pro Jared Hart has exited Entercom’s news/talk WPHT, Philadelphia where he was program director.  The company confirms that sister sports talk WIP program director Spike Eskin is adding WPHT PD duties to his role with the Entercom cluster.  It says “SportsRadio 94WIP” has “evolved dramatically under Spike’s leadership” and the company is “excited to see his impact on WPHT.”  Additionally, the company is promoting WPHT executive producer Greg Stocker to assistant program director in recognition of his work on some of the station’s most successful shows.  Stocker will handle the day-to-day programming responsibilities for WPHT under Eskin.

Brubaker Joins KNBR as GSM and Director of Sports Marketing. Sports marketing pro Scott Brubaker is named general sales manager and director of sports marketing for Cumulus Media’s KNBR, San Francisco. He was most recently president of the Alliance of American Football’s Arizona Hotshots.  Prior to that, he was vice president, national sales – Southeast and Central Region for Learfield Sports.  He’s also served in sales positions with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Suns.  Cumulus San Francisco VP/director of sales Scotty Bastable says, “We saw a fabulous fit when the opportunity arose for us to bring in a talent of Scott’s caliber.  He is a proven winner and leader in the sports world.  Having him at the helm of KNBR will allow us to continue to be ‘The Sports Leader’ for the Bay Area for many years to come.”

Jonathan Wier’s Evening Show Cancelled at KMBZ-FM, Kansas City. Talk show host Jonathan Wier announces via Facebook that his 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm program on KMBZ-FM, Kansas City has been cancelled by Entercom management.  Wier praises program director Alan Furst as “the best PD that any host could ever ask to have” and says the change was “purely about money.”  He’ll continue his program as a podcast.

Walton & Johnson’s John Walton Dies. One half of the regionally syndicated, KPRC, Houston-based “Walton & Johnson” morning show – John Walton – passed away late Monday night (7/1) at the age of 67. Partner Steve Johnson (right) stated in a post on the KPRC website: “It is with great shock and sadness that I inform the Walton & Johnson audience of the untimely and sudden passing of John Walton (left).  His medical issues were too numerous to overcome.  He had been receiving treatment over the last month but continued to suffer.  He made the decision to return home yesterday and spend his last hours with his family.  He went out on his own terms…I will always cherish John as not only a partner but a dear friend.  His wit and humor defined him as the unique individual we all knew him to be. He will never be replaced. He had a voice and he had something to say.”  Walton and Johnson first partnered as morning co-hosts in 1983.  They took the show into syndication a decade later.  Steve Johnson says the program will continue “as soon as possible.”

New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap” for Week of July 1-5 Now Posted.  The recently launched, one-hour weekend radio show, “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation,” analyzing the hot talk media topics of this past week (July 1-5) is now posted on the website of its flagship station, iHeartMedia‘s WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  It currently airs on WONK-FM in the key position of Friday at 6:00 pm as a dynamic programming punctuation mark of the week’s conversation and is also heard on several other stations around the country.  Hosted by TALKERS magazine’s iconic publisher, this week’s installment (titled “Happy Birthday, America!”) features a lineup of guests that includes TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey; radio talk show hosts Joyce Kaufman of WFTL, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and Brad Shepard of Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; and social/political observer Victoria Jones of the DC Radio Company. The non-partisan-but-hard-hitting program explores multiple opinions along the spectrum of contemporary American political and social thought.  This weekend’s installment is geared to the Independence Day holiday.  For more information about the program, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.  To listen to it in its entirety, please click here.

Talkers 2019: Telling the Story Videos Continues Posting Today with Keynote Chat Between Sean Hannity and Michael Harrison.  TALKERS is continuing to post key speeches, presentations and sessions from the recent 22nd annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention – Talkers 2019: Telling the Story.  Today’s post presents the convention’s keynote chat in which TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviews Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity in a casual one-on-one conversation.  The two discuss a variety of topics including Hannity’s special relationship with President Donald J. Trump; what it takes to be successful on both radio and television talk media; the challenges facing talk radio in terms of ratings and marketing; Hannity’s feelings about his life and career; plus more.  The session is introduced by DC Radio Company executive director Victoria Jones.  Already posted on the page:  The official opening address titled, “Telling the Story,” delivered by one of the industry’s great storytellers, Lee Habeeb, host and producer of the tremendously successful syndicated program, “Our American Stories” as well as RAB president/CEO Erica Farber receiving the Woman of the Year award and SiriusXM Satellite Radio star “Cousin” Bruce Morrow receiving the Lifetime Achievement award. The convention took place in New York City on Friday, June 7 and was one of the most positively received in the event’s colorful history.  TALKERS plans to add one or two videos per day to those posted until all the major events of the conference are posted here at Talkers.com.  To see the videos and convention video page, please click here.

Covering the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship. Pictured above is Westwood One News New York bureau chief Steve Kastenbaum (left) interviewing Joey Chestnut (right) before he goes for his 12th Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship title on July 4that Coney Island, New York.  Chestnut is also trying to break his record of eating 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

Washington DC Fourth of July Celebration, 2020 Census Citizenship Question, Immigration Reform-Detention Facility Conditions, 2020 Presidential Race, U.S.-EU Tariffs, and U.S. Women’s Soccer Team in World Cup Finals Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/2).  The controversy over President Trump’s plans for military equipment to be part of the Washington Fourth of July parade; the Trump Administration drops the fight to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census; the Trump Administration’s immigration reform policy and the conditions at border detention centers; the Democrats running for president in 2020; President Trump’s plans for tariffs on EU exports; and the U.S. Women’s Soccer team’s advancement to the World Cup Finals 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 Seattle, iHeartMedia’s hip hop KUBE promotes APD/MD and afternoon personality Eric Rosado to program director.  iHeartMedia Seattle SVP of programming Rich Moore says, “I’m very excited for Eric and this opportunity.  The KUBE team and team of support have been working hard bringing KUBE back and now Eric will continue to lead us further down that path.”…..On-air pro Ralphie Marino is exiting his morning drive gig with Cape Cod Broadcasting Media’s hot AC WQRC, Cape Cod “99.9 The Q” to relocate to Florida to be near family.  He posted to Facebook, “I arrived on Cape Cod with two kids, not knowing a soul, but grateful to be back on the radio.  A lot has changed in the five years I have been here and a lot stayed the same.  I have learned so much about this wonderful community that spans from the bridge to P-Town.  I was a washed ashore when I arrived, and I leave a Cape Codder.”…..SiriusXM is broadcasting live from Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July picnic on the Willie’s Roadhouse channel.  The special live broadcast will feature live performances from Willie Nelson & Family, Luke Combs, and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, as well as Steve Earle & The Dukes, Hayes Carll, Ray Wylie Hubbard and more.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

| June 19, 2019

‘Our American Stories’ Tops 200-Affiliate Mark. The nationally syndicated program “Our American Stories” announces that Entercom’s heritage news/talk outlet WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte is one of a number of new affiliate stations that has added the program to its schedule, helping the program break the 200-affiliate plateau.  Additional new stations picking up the show include: 1TV.com’s KIKO-AM, Mesa, Arizona “The Bull 1340”; 3 Daughters Media Inc’s WMNA-AM/FM, Gretna, Virginia and WGNA-AM, Roanoke; HRN Broadcasting’s WZGM-AM, Asheville, North Carolina; and Midwest Communications’ KDAL-AM, Duluth, Minnesota. The program is a production of American Private Radio and CEO and program host Lee Habeeb says, “There is no such thing as a ‘sure thing’ is this business.  At a time when talk radio is top-heavy with what divides us as Americans, listeners are responding to our nightly program that celebrates the country so many of us love and care about – and the values that made the country what it is today.  I want to say thank you to the station managers at KABC, Los Angeles; WTMJ, Milwaukee; KPRC, Houston; WCCO, Minneapolis/St. Paul; KFAB, Omaha; KMOX, St. Louis; KFXR, Dallas; WHO, Des Moines; KOA, Denver; WBOB, Jacksonville; WHFS, Tampa; KMZQ, Las Vegas; KKFT FM, Reno; KJJC, Salt Lake City; KSCO, Santa Cruz; and now the heritage blowtorch WBT in Charlotte – so many additional station managers who trust our vision of ‘Our American Stories.’  My team of writers, producers, and sales people are truly humbled.”

Joe Pags Show Hits 125-Affiliate Milestone. The WOAI, San Antonio-based “Joe Pags Show” – hosted by Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo – is happy to announce it has surpassed the 125-affiliate mark with the recent addition of the following stations to its roster: WPHT, Philadelphia; KSEV, Houston; WLOB-AM, Portland; WOOD-AM/FM, Grand Rapids; and WIMA-AM, Lima, Ohio.  Joe Pags says more stations are preparing to add the show and he hopes to be able to announce more new affiliate stations soon.  The program is syndicated by Compass Media Networks and airs live from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET.

PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2019 PPM survey, today focusing on the all-news format.  The big winner comparing the April survey to the May survey is Entercom’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco, which rises by three-tenths to a 6.6 share (weekly 6+ AQH). Comparing May of 2018 to May 2019, KCBS-AM is again the top achiever, going up 1.2 shares in the San Francisco market.  However, the same station loses 1.2 shares in the adjacent San Jose market, year-over-year. Both KCBS-AM and Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington ranked #1 in their markets during the May survey. WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago ranked #2. See the entire report here.

RTDNA Names 2019 National Murrow Award Winners. The Radio Television Digital News Association announces the winners of the 2019 National Murrow Awards.  More than 4,600 entries were received in 16 categories and 100 local and network radio, television, and digital news organizations are being honored for 122 examples of outstanding journalism.  The winners at the national level also include Student Murrow Awards in five categories of audio, video, and digital reporting.  RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley says, “The RTDNA National Edward R. Murrow Awards recognize local and national news stories that uphold our Code of Ethics, demonstrate technical expertise and exemplify the importance and impact of journalism as a service to the community.  Winning a Murrow Award means that a news organization has provided exemplary public service to its viewers, listeners and readers.”  Some highlights of this year’s awards include: CBS News Radio wins for Overall Excellence, Breaking News Coverage, and for Newscast for “CBS World News Roundup; Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington repeats its 2018 win for Overall Excellence in large market radio; ABC News Radio wins the Excellence in Innovation award for its podcast, “Start Here,” and for Sports Reporting for “America’s Next Pastime”; Entercom all-news station WCBS-AM, New York is honored for Excellence in Video and all-news KCBS-AM, San Francisco wins Best Newscast.  See all the winners here.

WABC, New York Adds New Clint Arthur-Hosted Saturday Night Show. The program is called “The Greatest Show of All Time” and features celebrity entrepreneur Clint Arthur. It airs Saturday nights at 7:00 through November 6, 2019.  Arthur says, “The mission of this show is personal, professional, and spiritual transformation for entrepreneurs, business owners, CEOs and anyone responsible for improving their own life and who wants to be more, do more and have more.  As a native New Yorker, I am thrilled by this opportunity to give back to the city that made me who I am today.”  Arthur is the author best-selling books: What They Teach You at The Wharton Business School, Speaking Game: 7-Figure Speaker Secrets, and The Greatest Book of All Time.  He’s a regular guest on television, having appeared on such programs and networks as “The Today Show,” “Mornings with Maria,” CNN, HLN, BBC, SkyNews, and “Good Day LA.”

Two Sales Pros Join Salem Surround. The new digital ad agency Salem Surround adds two media sales pros.  Andy Massingill is named regional digital sales director for the West Region and Jon Latzer holds the same title for the East Region.  The new agency from Salem Media Group “offers a comprehensive suite of digital marketing services to develop and execute audience-based marketing strategies for clients on both local and national levels.”  Massengill most recently served with Adams Publishing Group in Minnesota.  Latzer was most recently with Alpha Media as the regional interactive sales director. Salem SVP of broadcast digital Jamie Cohen says, “These two new hires are the next step in Salem’s strategy to provide 360-degree marketing support to our clients and partners.  Jon and Andy bring a unique mix of both radio and vast digital experience to the table which I’m confident will provide our teams and our clients with the ability to see the value in all forms of audience we can deliver.”

TALKERS News Notes. WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island talk show host John DePetro is pictured here outside the Amway Arena in Orlando prior to last night’s Trump 2020 campaign kick-off. DePetro says that with the help of Qgolive, his program will be mobile this summer.  He broadcast yesterday’s program from Orlando…..Former WEEI, Boston morning co-host and current Barstool Sports personality Kirk Minihane is holding a press conference today (6/19) to address the lawsuit being filed against him and Barstool Sports by Somerville, Massachusetts Mayor Joseph Curtatone.  The mayor was recently interviewed by Kirk Minihane who pretended to be Boston Globe writer Kevin Cullen.  A couple of weeks after finding out he’d been duped, Curtatone filed a suit alleging Minihane violated Massachusetts General Laws by using “fraudulent means” to get his permission to be recorded.  Barstool CEO David Portnoy posted a statement saying he doesn’t know if Minihane broke the law or not but hopes the case goes to trial to provide “the best content of all time.”  Portnoy implies his father, attorney Michael Portnoy, would represent Barstool.

Trump’s Orlando Re-Election Rally, 2020 Presidential Race, Trump’s Illegal Immigrants Deportation Promise, Iran Tensions, Slavery Reparations Hearing, and Dominican Republic Deaths/Illnesses Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/18).  Last night’s Orlando rally to kick off President Trump’s re-election campaign; the Democrats competing for the nomination in the 2020 presidential race; Trump’s statement that ICE will be deporting millions of illegal aliens next week; the tensions over Iran’s enrichment program and the U.S.’s threat of military action; today’s hearing on slavery reparations before a House Judiciary subcommittee; and the spate of deaths and illnesses among travelers to the Dominican Republic 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 the Anchorage, Alaska market Last Frontier Mediactive flips rock KZND to alternative as “94.7 Alternative Anchorage.”  Kellen Pierce is the program director and says, “I’m thrilled to be programming Anchorage’s exclusive home for alternative music!  Alaskan fans of modern and present alternative will now be able find their favorite new artists alongside some of the best alternative from the 90s to now!”…..iHeartMedia appoints Don Pollnow market president for the company’s four-station Wichita cluster that includes country KZSN-FM “102.1 The Bull,” CHR KZCH-FM “Channel 96.3,” adult contemporary KRBB-FM, “B98,” and alternative KTHR-FM “ALT 107.3.”  Pollnow was most recently vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media‘s Green Bay station group…..Westwood One announces that the syndicated “Adam Bomb Show” adds three new affiliate stations to its roster.  Now airing the program are KYIS-FM, Oklahoma City; KWPW-FM, Robinson, Texas; and WMXV-FM, Florence-Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Friday, May 10, 2019

| May 10, 2019

Cumulus Media Q1 Report: Net Revenue Rises 1.4%. Reporting on the first quarter of 2019, Cumulus Media’s net revenue was $267.5 million, an increase of 1.4% compared to the same period in 2018.  Net income was $451,000 in the first quarter, compared to 2019 in which Cumulus posted a loss of $5 million.  Cumulus reports in two segments – Cumulus Radio Station Group and Westwood One.  In this first quarter of 2019, the Radio Station Group was down 1% on net revenue of $166.5 million, while Westwood One was up 5.9% on net revenue of $100.4 million.  Chief financial officer John Abbot says on the radio station side that the company continues “to experience a tough, local spot market environment.”  Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner states, “Driven by a steady focus on our key strategic priorities including accelerating digital growth, our strong performance continued in Q1 2019 with year-over-year increases in both revenue and EBITDA.  Additionally, we now have four pending M&A transactions that collectively are expected to generate more than $120 million of net proceeds and bolster our competitive positions in Indianapolis and Allentown. Combined with the $25 million voluntary prepayment made in February, these proceeds will reduce our net leverage to 4.8x on a pro forma basis.  We look forward to continuing our disciplined execution against all our strategic priorities and financial goals in the quarters ahead.”

Podcasting and Digital Efforts Bearing Fruit for Cumulus.  On yesterday’s Q1 earnings call with investors, Cumulus CEO Mary Berner lauded the company’s podcasting and digital segments.  She said, “So far in 2019, we continue to see the same strong growth in podcasting that we have enjoyed since we started the business.  As the exclusive partner for over 40 podcasts we’ve generated nearly 52 million downloads in March 2019, more than doubled the 23 million generated in March 2018.  And that doesn’t include our growing local podcast businesses.  By our estimation, this will put us in the top five largest podcast companies measured by PodTrack in March.  What is particularly notable about this growth, is that, that we have been able to achieve it while maintaining profitability.”  Berner is also pleased with the company’s efforts to grow digital revenue.  She adds, “We are continuing to generate exceptional growth across all of our platforms, with total digital revenue for the quarter growing 79% from the first quarter of last year.  Our streaming audience is growing steadily, driven by both organic listenership and increased distribution on the Tune In platform.  And we’re monetizing this high-margin digital inventory better and more broadly, through all of our channels, local, national network, programmatic exchanges, and remnant networks as well.”

Saga Communications Down 0.7% in Q1. The 2019 first quarter financial report from Saga Communications, Inc. shows the company’s net revenue during the period was $27.8 million, a dip of 0.7% over the same period in 2018.  Free cash flow increased $324 thousand to $2.6 million and station operating expense decreased 1% to $23.2 million.  Same station operating income was down 22% to $1.86 million and net income dipped 11% to $1.4 million.   The company notes that the results for the quarter were affected by its October 2018 acquisition of WOGK-FM, WNDT-FM, WNDD-FM, and WNDN-FM, in the Gainesville-Ocala market from Ocala Broadcasting Corporation, LLC for $9.3 million.  Saga reports having $39.2 million in cash on hand (as of 3/31/19) and $40.7 million in cash on hand (as of 5/6/19).

Hannity to Afternoons on WPHT, Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Business Journal is reporting that Entercom will fill its afternoon drive daypart with Premiere NetworksSean Hannity program starting next week.  Earlier this week, the station announced that current afternoon talk host Rich Zeoli becomes the new morning drive host on Monday (5/13), assuming the role left open when Chris Stigall exited WPHT earlier this year. It appears Entercom will air the Sean Hannity show during its live air time – 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm – on WPHT beginning on Monday as opposed to searching for a local host for the daypart. Hannity’s show has been airing on the station in a delay broadcast in the evening.

PodcastOne and Hubbard Radio Produce True Crime Program ‘22 Hours: An American Nightmare.’ The true-crime genre is a popular one among podcast consumers and now, PodcastOne and partner Hubbard Radio (remember that Hubbard owns 30% of PodcastOne) are producing a new podcast series titled, “22 Hours: An American Nightmare.”  The 10-part series investigates the Washington, DC mansion murders using the talents of WTOP, Washington reporters Megan Cloherty and Jack Moore, and produced by WTOP and its digital news director, Julia Ziegler.  Hubbard podcast strategy manager Wheeler Morris says, “We at Hubbard are excited to bring listeners around the country this story from a team of experienced investigative reporters at WTOP.  Listeners in the Washington, DC region are familiar with WTOP’s high-quality journalism and, with the help of PodcastOne, we are excited to now share that with the nation.”  PodcastOne executive chairman Norm Pattiz adds, “I’ve noticed recently that other major radio companies are promoting their new relationships with podcasters.  The Hubbard Radio/PodcastOne relationship recognized the synergies present over four years ago, and it continues to expand today.  We have a very definite game plan that seeks to take advantage of podcasting’s obvious on-demand advantages to stations, while mining the creativity that radio companies can bring to the table.”

iHeartMedia Promotes Rahul Sabnis to Lead New In-House Creative Group. This promotion comes with a realignment of the company’s in-house creative efforts.  Rahul Sabnis rises from EVP and executive creative director for iHeartMedia to chief creative officer & EVP for the newly branded, in-house creative group “TheStudio at iHeartMedia” operating under the aegis of Darren Davis, president of iHeartRadio and iHeartMedia Networks Group.  The company says that under Rahul’s leadership it will combine its Creative Studio and “CSG” in Atlanta into “TheStudio at iHeartMedia.”  A press release says TheStudio in-house agency will “provide a range of high-level strategy and creative services, helping iHeart’s own brands and the brands of its advertising and marketing partners use the efficiency and efficacy of audio seamlessly across all its company assets at the scale that only iHeart can deliver.”

Marie Harf to Exit FOX News to Join Seth Moulton Campaign.The Daily Beast reports that FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio personality Marie Harf is leaving her positions as political commentator and radio host, respectively, to join the 2020 presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) as deputy campaign manager for policy and communications.  Harf co-hosts the “Benson and Harf” radio show with Guy Benson.  Harf served on Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and was a senior communications adviser to former Senator John Kerry (D-MA).

The Mueller Report and Trump’s Claim of Executive Privilege Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 6-10.  Democrats’ request for the unredacted version of the Mueller Report and President Trump’s claim his executive privilege gives him control of the report was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the New York Times piece on Trump’s business losses.  Coming in at #3 was the 2020 presidential races, followed by the China trade war, the effect on the stock market, and North Korea’s missile tests at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS CONVENTION SPOTLIGHT: Launching and Growing a Talent Career in 2019. Being a talent in 2019 is not as unique as it was years ago.  Thanks to the Internet, so-called talent is everywhere.  But the digital age has also brought new opportunities for talent that didn’t exist years ago and it’s incumbent upon talk media talent to seize them in order take control of one’s career.  At Talkers 2019: Telling the Story, set for New York on Friday, June 7, ABC News Radio executive director of programming Andrew Kalb will moderate a panel of broadcasters to discuss “Launching and Growing a Talent Career in 2019.”  Panelists include (in alphabetical order): Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Dom Giordano, host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Danielle Lin, host, “The Art of Living & the Science of Life”; Greg Moceri, CEO, Moceri Media; Michael Riedel, host, WOR, New York; and Todd Starnes, host, FOX News Radio.  The conference is rapidly moving toward being an early sellout.  To see the entire up-to-the-minute agenda and for registration/hotel information, please click here.

Conspiracy Theorist David Icke Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  With Facebook moving to officially ban Alex Jones and other controversial media figures from its platform and President Trump weighing in on the situation on the side of Jones and his InfoWars organization, there has been a lot of talk this week about conspiracy theorists, fake news, and freedom of speech.  One of the world’s most famous and controversial conspiracy theorists, David Icke, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  Icke, who hails from Great Britain, has a worldwide following on YouTube and other digital platforms in addition to being the author of more than 20 books whereby he talks and writes about a wide variety of political and metaphysical issues that run the gamut from a scientifically plausible analysis of the vibrational aspects of reality per quantum physics to completely outrageous ideas about the human race being under the hidden control of a lizard-like, reptilian species of interdimensional humanoids that borders on science fiction.  He routinely sells out large meeting spaces on his lecture tours and is banned in a number of venues and countries for what many consider to be his dangerous ideas.  He has been accused on a number of occasions of anti-Semitism for his views on international banking and the turbulent politics of Israel, the Palestinians, and the Middle East – charges he vehemently denies.  There’s a new documentary film about this former English soccer star turned conspiracy theorist titled, “Renegade:  The Life Story of David Icke,” which takes a fly-on-the-wall view of his life as a family man, lecturer, and social/political disrupter.  It was banned by a theater in Los Angeles last week just hours before its premiere there when the theater owners learned about the level of controversy surrounding Icke.  Harrison caught up with Icke this past Thursday (5/2) when he was in New York City to attend the premiere of the film there that evening.  They talk about the media, the First Amendment, and the state of the conspiracy theory business in 2019.  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column of the TALKERS email newsletter and on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Atlanta radio pro Jeff Dauler is out at WSTR, Atlanta “Star 94.1” where he was co-host of the “Jeff & Jenn” show with Jenn Hobby.  She addressed Dauler’s departure on the program but didn’t offer any specifics on his departure.  Hobby will continue to lead the morning show.  At the same time as Dauler departed, afternoon personality Mike Marino also left the air and his info on the station’s website has been scrubbed.  Aside from Hobby addressing it on the air, WSTR has not commented specifically on the changes…..Warner Music Nashville recording artist Cale Dodds (right) took time out of his busy tour schedule with Chase Rice to fill in as a special guest co-host with Jackson (left) on Beasley Media Group’s WKLB, Boston “Country 102.5” morning show.  Dodds helped finn in for morning show co-host Ayla Brown.  He took the opportunity to premier his new single, “I Like Where This Is Going.”  On Monday and Tuesday (5/13-14), Sony Nashville recording artist Rachel Wammack will co-host with Jackson.  WKLB program director David Corey says, “There’s no better way for the country audience to get to know an artist than to bring them into our world and put them on a morning show.  It allows us to go way beyond the typical interview questions that might be asked.  This is real life conversation…and fun!  We are thankful to Cale and Rachel for getting that and jumping all in with us!”

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

| May 8, 2019

It’s Official: Rich Zeoli Moves to AM Drive on WPHT, Philadelphia. Afternoon drive personality Rich Zeoli is making the move to the WPHT, Philadelphia’s morning drive daypart, effective May 13. Zeoli is taking over the show most recently hosted by Chris Stigall, who exited the station earlier this year. Entercom Philadelphia SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “Rich is a compelling and thought-provoking radio host and we’re looking forward to seeing him shine in the mornings on WPHT. From interviewing the president to covering what’s hot in pop culture or entertainment, to Rich’s passion for recognizing local police officers, his funny and poignant style always shines a light on what everyone is talking about.” Zeoli comments, “For years I have had one simple goal: to blend information and humor to make entertaining talk radio. Moving to mornings is an honor and a challenge and I’m thrilled that my team will be moving with me.” Zeoli has been with the company since joining as a talk host in 2010.   He became afternoon drive host in 2015.  Zeoli is also the founder of RZC Impact, a communications firm specializing in media training, public speaking, and strategy. His clients have included Fortune 100 C-Suite executives, national television personalities, and bestselling authors. He is the author of The Seven Principles of Public Speaking: Proven Methods of a PR Pro (2008, Skyhorse).  WPHT has made no statement about its plans for the now-open afternoon drive depart.

Nashville Sports Talk Personality George Plaster Launching Daily Show on WSM-AM. The Tennessean reports that Nashville sports talk personality George Plaster is returning to the air full time to host a daily, afternoon sports talk show on Grand Ole Opry’s country WSM-AM, effective July 15.  Plaster has been serving as athletics director at Belmont University since 2016.  Plaster first started doing sports talk radio on WWTN-FM, Nashville in 1989. From 2003 through 2012, he hosted afternoons on crosstown WGFX-FM “The Zone,” and moved to WPRT-FM “102.5 FM The Game” in 2012.  Despite its afternoon drive air time, the show will be called “Sports Night with George Plaster.”

Connoisseur Sells Billings Cluster to Desert Mountain Broadcasting. The Billings, Montana cluster of six stations owned by Connecticut-based Connoisseur Media is going to Desert Mountain Broadcasting for $3 million in a just-announced deal.  The cluster includes news/talk KYYA and sports talk KBLG in addition to four music-formatted brands.  Connoisseur regional vice president and general manager Cameron Maxwell formed Desert Mountain Broadcasting in 2018 with the intention of acquiring the stations.  He says, “And now I’m in the very rare position to be able to launch my new media company by purchasing from these exceptional broadcasters six radio stations I’ve helped to create.  I’m forever grateful for this incredible time with Connoisseur Media and the constant mentoring they’ve provided.  With this first acquisition, Desert Mountain Broadcasting launches today on a solid foundation, built upon the values and best practices embedded in me by [Connoisseur CEO] Jeff [Warshaw], [CFO] Mike [Driscoll], and COO David Bevins.”

TALKERS CONVENTION SPOTLIGHT: Attracting Younger Demos to Talk Radio. Among the challenges news/talk radio faces today is the aging of its audience and the desire by many broadcasters to attract younger listeners to the format. Opinions on how to achieve this – and there are those who question whether it can be achieved at all – vary greatly.  Some believe broadcasting on FM is a necessary first step while others say the whole approach to the format must be re-thought for the Millennial generation.  At Talkers 2019: Telling the Story, set for New York on Friday, June 7, TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey will moderate a panel of broadcasters to discuss “Attracting Younger Demos to Talk Radio.”  Panelists include (pictured below): Mike “Bax” Baxendale, host, WAQY, Springfield, MA “Rock 102”; Greg Foster, VP of programming and national news/talk brand coordinator, iHeartMedia and KOA, Denver PD; John T. Mullen, operations manager, WRHU-FM, Hofstra University; Sid Rosenberg, host, WABC, New York; Rich Zeoli, host, WPHT, Philadelphia.  The conference is rapidly moving toward being an early sellout.  To see the entire up-to-the-minute agenda and for registration/hotel information, please click here.

TALKERS News Notes. Philadelphia all-news KYW gets a brand refresh as Entercom unveils a new logo and an update to its iconic jingle.  The company says the changes reflect “its multiplatform growth and evolution.”  KYW worked with legendary arranger and Philadelphia native Larry Gold on the modern update to its beloved jingle. Entercom SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “KYW Newsradio has evolved into a modern news organization serving a wide range of listeners across various platforms and we are proud to introduce visual and audio enhancements that reflect who the station is today.  The station is a local treasure that remains an integral part of the city and to honor those roots, we worked with hometown artists to capture its essence and develop the refreshed brand identity.  Everyone in town sings our jingle and we’re thrilled to introduce this new contemporary sound.”  Check it out here…..Sun Broadcast Group announces the opening of its West Coast office in Los Angeles as part of its expansion efforts and the hiring of Ed Moloney as affiliate content director, effective immediately.  The company says Moloney will affiliate stations for all SBG shows and services, maintain relationships with current affiliates, and support other programming efforts for new additions to the SBG line up such as “Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis” and more.  For the past eight years, Moloney programmed the syndicated version of JACK FM.  He has also served with Westwood One, Entertainment Radio Networks, KCBS and KYSR, Los Angeles and WBCN, Boston…..Townsquare Media’s news/talk WPGG-AM, Atlantic City is changing its FM simulcast to 95.5 FM.  The company announces that, effective immediately, the station is being heard there in addition to 104.1 and, of course, 1450 AM.  But, the 104.1 FM simulcast will eventually go away.  Townsquare also says it’s not done making major announcements about the station, saying, “WPG is getting even bigger and better very soon…” Stay tuned!

MIW Radio Group Announces 2019 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program Participants. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio (MIW) Group announces the four radio professionals selected to participate as mentees in the 2019 MIW Group Mildred Carter Mentoring Program.  They are: Andrea Clay, national sales manager, Beasley Media Group Charlotte; Katy Dempsey, program director and morning show host, Bryan Broadcasting, College Station, Texas; Nicole Jones, manager of sales training & development, Cumulus Media Chicago; and Jennifer Seelig, director of news & programming, Entercom San Francisco.  The MIW Group’s signature mentoring program matches up-and-coming women in the radio industry with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of radio broadcasting.  Beasley Media Group, LLC is, for the second year in a row, serving as the lead sponsor of this year’s program.  Lindsay Cerajewski, chair of the 2019 MIW Group Mentoring Committee and national sales manager/new business development, Entercom Chicago says, “Each year, this coveted program generates more and more interest and therefore applications.  We are very encouraged by the quantity and quality of candidates desiring to grow their careers in radio, and this year’s class definitely reflects the excellence we’re seeing in our applications.  Let the mentoring begin!”

Mueller Report/Barr Contempt Vote, U.S.-China Trade War, Iran Nuclear Deal, NYTimes Trump Losses Story, 2020 Presidential Politics, Colorado School Shooting, and North Korea Missile Test Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/7). The ongoing reactions to the release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report and Democrats’ option to consider Attorney General William Barr in contempt of congress for his refusal to turn over the complete report; the financial markets react to President Trump’s reigniting the tariff war with China; Iran backs out of the nuclear deal it entered into with six other nations; The New York Times’ story about Trump’s business losses from 1985 to 1994; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; Tuesday’s shooting at a Colorado high school that left one dead and several injured; and North Korea’s latest missile test 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 “Todd & Jayde” morning show announced that May 31 will be the last broadcast on WPLJ-FM, New York as a hot AC outlet.  Owner Cumulus Media is selling the iconic FM to Educational Media Foundation and that company will flip the station to a Christian music format…..The Daily Chronicle reports that Bustos Media is acquiring the Centralia, Washington FM KFNY from the Ocean Station II Trust, operated by iHeartMedia.  The station has been airing a smooth jazz format for the past couple of years as it awaited acquisition by another broadcaster.  Bustos owns KDDS-FM in the market that currently airs a regional Mexican format.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

| May 7, 2019

TALKERS EXCLUSIVE:  A Conversation with Mike McVay.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison engaged in an exclusive audio conversation earlier this morning (5/7) with outgoing Cumulus Media executive vice president of content and programming Mike McVay.  McVay, who will be staying on with the company in an executive capacity until July at which point, he will launch his own consultation firm with Cumulus being its first client, discusses the details of the transition and some of his personal sentiments about the change.  This excerpt will be part of a larger, deep-dive conversation between Harrison and McVay that will be posted in full on Tuesday, May 14 as next week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne presentation, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  To listen to this informational excerpt, please click here.

Rich Zeoli to Move to Mornings on WPHT, Philadelphia.  TALKERS magazine hears that current afternoon drive personality Rich Zeoli is moving to the morning daypart on the Entercom news/talk station.  Zeoli would assume the position most recently held by Chris Stigall, who exited the station earlier this year.  Zeoli joined WPHT as a talk host in 2010.

Townsquare Media’s Q1 Report: Pro Forma Net Revenue Up 4.7%.  Revenue was up for Townsquare Media, Inc. comparing the first quarter of 2019 to the same period in 2018.  Net revenue for Q1 of 2019 was $ 93.7 million, up 6.5%.  On a pro forma basis (excluding revenue from the July 2018 acquisition of three Trenton market signals), net revenue was up 4.7%.  Breaking apart the company’s three segments – advertising, interactive, and live events – advertising revenue was up 3.9% over the same period in 2018, interactive jumped 31.6%, while live events dipped 8.6%.  Pro forma net loss for the first quarter decreased $21.5 million, or 81.8%, to a net loss of $4.8 million, compared to a net loss of $26.3 million in the same period in 2018.  Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson says, “Townsquare is off to a great start in 2019 with strong operational and financial performance, demonstrated by our first quarter Adjusted EBITDA growth of 8.3%.  We have continued the strong momentum we experienced throughout 2018, as our team once again delivered double-digit revenue growth in our Townsquare Ignite and Townsquare Interactive divisions, leading to total net revenue growth of 6.5% in the first quarter of 2019.  As a result of our continued growth and strength in digital, we are pleased to announce that for the first time in our history, digital revenue contributed over one-third of the company’s total net revenue.  Given our diversified revenue base, today and moving forward we believe Townsquare is best described as a premier local media and digital marketing solutions company. To that point, beginning in the first quarter of 2019 I am very pleased to share that we have provided segmentation of our financial results.  In particular this will allow you to see the strong profit that is generated by Townsquare Interactive, our digital marketing solutions business which currently serves approximately 16,200 monthly subscribers.  In the first quarter of 2019, Townsquare Interactive had net revenue growth of 31.6% and Adjusted Operating Income growth of 34.8%, operating at a 31% margin.  As noted previously, we believe that Townsquare Interactive, as well as our Townsquare Ignite division, will each generate $100 million in annual net revenue within the next three to five years.”

Brian Kilmeade Named 2019 Recipient of the TALKERS Freedom of Speech Award.  Described by Michael Harrison as “one of this era’s most prolific communicators in national talk media,” the TALKERS editorial board has selected Fox News Channel “Fox & Friends” co-host (6:00 am – 9:00 am ET)  and Fox News Radio syndicated program host (9:00 am – 12:00 noon ET) Brian Kilmeade as the publication’s 2019 recipient of the Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech.  Kilmeade is also a prolific best-selling author who has written a number of books about American history shedding new light on such figures as George WashingtonThomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson among others.  According to Harrison, “Brian Kilmeade is a hard working media pro who has been turning in six straight hours per morning on both radio and cable TV year after year tackling the most controversial issues confronting the nation on a very big stage and facing the heat that comes with sticking your neck out on a regular basis.  His books about largely overlooked but highly significant chapters in American history have also added to a greater understanding of where this country came from written in language that is clear and compelling to the average person.  This man understands the First Amendment and knows how to exercise it on a level that keeps it alive and well in a turbulent environment in which it is always under assault.”  The award recognizes broadcasting achievement in raising consciousness and awareness of the First Amendment, displaying courage and commitment in exercising First Amendment rights and contributing to the viability of the First Amendment through deed and example.  The non-partisan award, one of the most prestigious and high-profile honors presented to individuals in the talk media industry, has a colorful (and often controversial) history that goes back to the early 1990s when the modern era of talk radio emerged and the format became recognized as an influential forum of public policy and social change following the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine.  It was re-named in honor of talk radio pioneer Gene Burns upon his death in May 2013. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “Gene Burns was the model by which the Freedom of Speech Award delivered at our national conventions was developed.  It is only fitting that this institution bears the name of this great champion of the ideals and foundation upon which contemporary spoken-word radio is built.”  Last year’s recipient of the Freedom of Speech Award was SiriusXM Satellite Radio “Urban View” channel personality Karen Hunter.  Recipients over the years include Rush LimbaughThom HartmannAl FrankenSean HannityAlan ColmesJim FarleyJuan WilliamsJoe Madison, Michael Savage, Norm PattizBill O’ReillyMatt DrudgeBob GrantG. Gordon Liddy, and Brian Lamb among others.  This year’s award will be presented to Brian Kilmeade at Talkers 2019: Telling the Story in New York on Friday, June 7.  The convention is close to being a sellout.  For registration information, please click here.

TALKERS News Notes.  KGLO, Mason City, Iowa news director Bob Fisher was recently honored by the Iowa Broadcast News Association during its 2018 Awards Contest.  Fisher picked up eight awards, including two first-place honors – one for Political Coverage and another for General Reporting.  Fisher and Alpha Media’s KGLO have received a total of 92 awards in the last 15 years. He just concluded serving as past-president of the Iowa Broadcast News Association’s board of directors and retired from the board after serving 14 of the last 15 years…..ABC Radio is offering three Memorial Day weekend specials for affiliate stations: “Country Summer Road Trip,” “A Decade of Rock Hits,” and “America Remembers 2019.” Country artist Luke Combs hosts the country music special, rock legend Don Felder is host of the rock hits show, and ABC News Radio correspondent Aaron Katersky reports on how combat, training, and suicide have taken a toll on American service members, in “America Remembers 2019.” ABC says, “Some have died afar, in the nation’s longest war or in another country’s civil war; some have died close to home in training exercises meant to prepare, not kill; and some have died at home, from the effects of an earlier deployment.  The three-hour ABC News special profiles these service members who lost their lives and the families they’ve left behind.”

Trump’s China Tariffs Threat, Mueller Report Aftermath/Trump Obstruction Letter, 2020 Presidential Politics, Trump Approval Ratings, Trump Tax Returns Fight, UN Species Extinction Report, U.S.-Iran Tensions, ‘Game of Thrones,’ Kentucky Derby Disqualification, and NBA Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/6). The financial markets react to President Trump’s renewed tariff threat against China; the aftermath of the Mueller Report and the letter signed by some 400 former prosecutors stating President Trump’s action constituted obstruction of justice; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; a new Gallup poll shows Trump’s approval rating at 46%, his highest since taking office; House Democrats’ attempts to get Trump’s tax returns; the UN report concluding that plant and animal species are disappearing at a rapid rate; concerns about Iranian threats to U.S. interests in the region; Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”; the first-ever disqualification of a Kentucky Derby winner; and the NBA playoffs 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. Programming and on-air pro Joel Weiss joins Cumulus Media as APD and music director for its alternative KCJK “X105.1” and CHR KCHZ “95-7 The Vibe” in Kansas City.  Weiss was most recently with Beasley Media’s alternative WBOS, Boston, prior to its recent flip to rock. He’ll also host the evening program on KCJK.  Mike O’Reilly is PD for the stations, and he says, “The timing of being able to integrate Joel into our ‘X’ and ‘Vibe’ brands is truly remarkable.  It’s not every day you find such a creative, talented programming vet with Joel’s unique skill set and unanimous favor in the industry.”…..Mediabase promotes Gregg Miller to vice president of sales/client services.  Miller joined Mediabase in 1997 after management positions at Polygram Records, Enigma Records, and Broadcast Data Systems.  His current duties will focus on airplay reporting and music trends for Mediabase clients…..WAXQ, New York “Q104.3” morning drive co-host Shelli Sonstein was appointed to the rank of Honorary Battalion Chief by Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro for her continued support of the New York City Fire Department and her contributions to the community during a ceremony on Monday (5/6).  Nigro stated, “Shelli Sonstein is a tremendous advocate for the FDNY, in particular, our members battling illnesses related to their brave work during the World Trade Center rescue and recovery effort.  She is extremely active in the September 11th community, educating her listeners and raising awareness about the growing list of fallen heroes in our Department.”…..On May 3, radio and CMT personality Cody Alan took the stage at KASE, Austin’s “The Night Before” surprise concert with station personalities Anne Hudson and Anthony “The AntMan” Allen to help introduce the secret headliners: Waterloo Revival, Russell Dickerson, and Morgan Wallen.  The event was held at Maggie Mae’s in Austin and is a free, annual event leading up to the iHeartCountry Festival in Austin.  Pictured below (from l-r) are: Alan, “CMT After MidNite” and “CMT Radio Live” correspondent Marley Sherwood, Hudson, and Allen.