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Thursday, December 17, 2020

| December 17, 2020

Newsmax Media Founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The CEO of Newsmax Media – the conservative news organization that owns and operates Newsmax.com and Newsmax TV in addition to a number of other platforms and services in digital and print publishing – is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Veteran journalist, entrepreneur, and news executive Christopher Ruddy discusses the history and strategy that has led to Newsmax TV achieving enormous rating gains this year in its juggernaut campaign to provide FOX News Channel with formidable competition in the conservative news/talk cable TV ratings wars. In this revealing conversation, Ruddy tells Harrison his side of the recent story by media writer Ben Smith published inThe New York Times under the headline, “The King of Trump TV Thinks You’re Dumb Enough to Buy It.” He dispels the notion conveyed in that piece that Newsmax TV has strategically flanked FOX to its far right and is telling President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists whatever they want to hear regardless of the truth. Ruddy discusses the bigger picture of Newsmax content which also delivers stories and items that are unfavorable to Trump and collectively covers a broader segment of the spectrum best described as center-right, as opposed to far-right. Harrison and Ruddy take a deep-dive into talk media political “positioning” which lies at the very heart of modern competitive programming. They also speculate on the future of American politics and the talk media coverage thereof. True to his unpredictable and often contrarian approach to what many observers consider conventional wisdom, Ruddy states that it appears President-Elect Biden is not veering to the far left as many Republicans and Trump supporters fear he will as evidenced by many of his cabinet picks, and that the 46th president will be far more of a “centrist” than many in both parties are expecting. Ruddy also candidly discusses the balancing act required to maintain a long-standing “friendship” with Trump while not being afraid to criticize his policies on those occasions when he believes such criticism is warranted in addition to outlining his immediate plans to grow Newsmax as a full-service news organization in 2021. This podcast is a must-listen! 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 on every page of Talkers.com.

Floyd Reese Exiting ‘102.5 The Game’ in Nashville. According to a story in the Nashville Post, former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese is giving up his sports talk host gig at Cromwell Media’s WPRT-FM, Nashville “102.5 The Game.” Reese co-hosted the afternoon drive program “Jared & The GM” with Jared Stillman for the past five-plus years. Stillman will continue to host the afternoon show now billed as “Stillman & Company” as the station seeks out a new afternoon co-host. The Post cites a press release in which Reese states, “This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while and I feel it’s time for me to take a step back. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with ‘102.5 The Game’ and doing a show with Jared has been a terrific experience. He and I formed a unique partnership that allowed us to be teammates and friends. I’d also like to thank Cromwell Media owner Bud Walters and [program director] Ryan Porth for their non-stop support over the years. It’s been a good run.” Reese was general manager of the NFL’s old Houston Oilers from 1990-1999 and the Titans (after the Oilers moved from Houston to Nashville) from 1999-2006. He was a senior football advisor for the New England Patriots from 2009-2012. He joined “102.5 The Game” in 2015.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Keeps The Bike Drive Alive. The annual holiday “Bikes for Kids” drive was launched by retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk host John Hancock 26 years ago. With Hancock’s retirement at the beginning of 2020, the fate of the charitable drive that had provided some 20,000 bikes (as well as gifts, food, clothing and more) to tens of thousands of needy Charlotte-area kids was up in the air. Ultimately, WBT staff, in partnership with the Carolina Panthers, WSOC-TV, Frito Lay, and some other local charitable organizations, worked to get 400 brand-new bikes collected during the “Bike Drive” that took place on Tuesday (12/15). Brett Winterble, who took over the afternoon drive show following Hancock’s retirement, says, “It was an amazing day for Hancock’s bikes for kids. This was my first opportunity since joining WBT in February to interface with this amazing audience in person. The generosity and good cheer of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday was truly awe inspiring. In gathering hundreds of bikes for well deserving children I forged new friendships with dedicated listeners to WBT. One man named Steve told me he was a 50-year listener of WBT and had attended every one of the bike drives Hancock led. It was an unbelievable show of generosity and good civic pride. I look forward to next year and can’t wait for this to continue to grow!”

Townsquare Media to Offer $550 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a filing with the SEC, Townsquare Media reveals it has priced an offering of $550 million in aggregate principal amount of its 6.875% senior secured notes due 2026. These notes are being offered to institutional buyers and will be senior secured obligations of the company and will be guaranteed on a senior secured basis by certain of the company’s direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries. The closing of the offering is anticipated to take place on or about January 6, 2021. Townsquare says that it intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to repay existing senior secured credit facilities, to redeem all of its outstanding 6.500% senior notes due 2023. It is also terminating its existing senior secured credit facilities, including its existing revolving credit facility.

Skyview Networks and MLB Radio Rightsholders Team Up for Annual Meeting. This year’s annual meeting of Major League Baseball radio rightsholders and Skyview Networks to discuss their broadcast operations and ad sales experiences from the previous season was done remotely. This year’s panels placed a heavy focus on fan engagement and advertising strategies with emphasis on maximizing digital assets under the restrictions of the pandemic. Skyview Networks president and COO Steve Jones says, “The MLB radio rightsholders play a significant role in their teams’ success through broadcast sponsorships. Radio and baseball have always put fans first and this season proved no different. Skyview played an important role in helping teams find creative solutions during the pandemic and we showcased those solutions to the whole league this week.” Skyview says many teams also leveraged the power of social media to engage with fans through promotions from their biggest sponsors, citing proactive communication as their key to success. Putting their followers’ interests at the forefront, these organizations hosted many virtual gatherings through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more to encourage listenership and interaction while the season was on a hiatus. Additional panel topics included software and strategies to streamline remote broadcasting, creating awareness for franchises’ ancillary digital content to increase broadcast listening and sponsorship extensions, and monetizing the evolving sports betting opportunities across a radio platform.

New Drive Time Shows on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel in January. Starting on January 4, the new lineup on SiriusXM’s non-partisan P.O.T.U.S. channel will includeJulie Mason Mornings” (6:00 am to 9:00 am ET) and “The Laura Coates Show” (3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET). Veteran journalist Mason takes over for Tim Farley’s “The Morning Briefing” after Farley’s retirement at year’s end. Coates – a CNN senior legal analyst – moves to the P.O.T.U.S. channel from SiriusXM’s Urban View channel. Julie Mason has more than 30 years of experience covering local, state and national politics, including four presidential campaigns. In more than 10 years at the White House, she traveled internationally and reported from more than 30 different countries. She is a former elected board member of the White House Correspondents Association. In addition to her media work, Coates has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law.

United Stations Radio Networks Names Jim Roberts Director of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Sports. Sports radio pro Jim Roberts is named director of affiliate sales and marketing/sports content for United Stations Radio Networks. He comes to USRN after a 20-plus years career with Disney/ESPN in which he oversaw the inception and growth of the affiliate network of 500-plus stations for ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes while also managing Disney owned-and-operated stations in New York City and Dallas. United Stations recently announced a partnership with SportsGarten Network to provide stations with short-form, long-form and daily daypart options in sports and sports wagering content. In his new role, Roberts will market all USRN sports-related programs and services, including the Total Sports Prep service. USRN’s Stefan Jones comments, “At United Stations we are growing our programming, services, and partnerships in the sports and sports-wagering lane. As more and more states are legalizing sports wagering, we want to ensure our company delivers quality options.”

TALKERS News Notes. Sports media personality Rich Eisen and Westwood One reach an agreement for the latter to feature “The Rich Eisen Show” podcast on the Westwood One Podcast Network, beginning on January 4. The deal also calls for the development of a new podcast by Eisen called “Just Getting Started” (scheduled for a February debut) in which Eisen interviews the biggest names from news, entertainment, sports, and pop culture, discussing their career origins and mining their stories on how they got started, in a format where audiences can be inspired by their endeavors…..In Chicago, Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM, Chicago is handing the agribusiness beat over to Steve Alexander with the retirement of Orion Samuelson at the end of this month. Samuelson is putting the wrap on a radio career that spans 60 years. Alexander says, “When I’ve filled in for Orion over the past 12 years, I’ve often joked that he gave me the key to the tractor, and I was able to keep it out of the ditch until he returned. Come next month, I’ll try to keep the tractor upright and continue Orion’s efforts to explain how important agriculture is to all of us.”…..GCN-syndicated talk radio host Dr. Daliah Wachs’ program adds two new affiliate stations as WEOL, Elyria, Ohio and KPRL, Paso Robles, California pick up the show.

COVID-19 Stats & Projections, Vaccines, the Economy & Closings, Stimulus Talks, Ongoing Election Denial, Georgia Runoff Elections, Biden Transition, and Northeast Snowstorm Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for post-holidays cases; the beginning of vaccine distribution in the U.S.; the state of the U.S. economy and forced business closings; the congressional negotiations over a new stimulus package; the ongoing denial of the election results in the Donald Trump camp; January’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the Joe Biden administration’s transition and nominations; and a big snowstorm hits the Northeast 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. There’s a series of holiday programs being made available on Entercom’s RADIO.COM that’s airing from December 18-20. The shows are: “POP Goes Christmas,” featuring Why Don’t We and Ava Max; “Acoustic Christmas,” featuring Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Dan + Shay, Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Train, Matt Nathanson, Ava Max, and a special performance from Keith Urban; “Country Christmas,” with Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Lady A, Runaway June, and Russell Dickerson; and “Not So Silent Night” starring Machine Gun Kelly, 24kGoldn, All Time Low, SHAED, and Wallows. Those four shows will culminate in the “RADIO.COM LIVE! Holiday Music Festival,” a free video stream of the concert performances on December 21 at 6:00 pm ET, available nationwide on the RADIO.COM app and website at RADIO.COM/Live. Portions of the show will also be available on Twitch and via RADIO.COM’s social media channels. The performances will be accessible on demand for 72 hours after the show on RADIO.COM and station websites…..SiriusXM announces the rollout of several new pop up channels, holiday specials, live programs for New Year’s Eve, exclusive video, podcasts and best-of live performances. “New Year’s Nation” will launch beginning December 29 as a pop-up channel on SiriusXM dedicated to the ultimate New Year’s celebration songs in pop, rhythm, dance, and hip-hop from across the nation featuring the hottest hits from Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Drake, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and more. New holiday pop-up channels include Top 100 Interviews of 2020, highlighting the top celebrity interviews from the past year. Hosted by SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle and Julia Cunningham, the pop-up channel will feature interviews from shows including “Andy Cohen Live,” “The Hoda Show” and “The Jess Cagle Show” with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laverne Cox, Lily Collins, Lizzo, Ramy Yousef, Sam Smith, Sean Penn, Spike Lee and dozens more.

Monday, October 5, 2020

| October 5, 2020

Monday Memo: Reinvent Yourself. Big broadcast companies are betting that news beats noise, TV stars are changing channels, and radio stars are leaving the airwaves to join famous faces now podcasting. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke asks, “YOUR next move?” Read it here.

POTUS and FLOTUS Contract COVID-19, Pandemic Stats & Projections, the Presidential Election, Vice-Presidential Debate, Amy Coney Barrett Nomination, California Wildfires, Regal Closes All Cinemas Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The news of President Trump’s and First Lady Melania Trump’s contraction of COVID-19 and the others in Washington who tested positive; the COVID-19 statistics and projections for future cases as U.S. numbers rise; the November presidential election; this Wednesday’s upcoming vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris; the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court; the California wildfires top the 1 million acres mark; and Regal Cinemas closes all theaters in the absence of newly released films were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Three Keys to Your Next Sales Meeting. A sales meeting that doesn’t produce results is a waste of time. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, says that successful group meetings and individual meetings are based on three elements: preparation, participation, and trust. Read his column here.

Round Four of September PPM’s Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s September 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s September 2020 survey period covered August 13 – September 9. You can see all of the weekly, 6+ AQH share data from subscribing stations here. Also, today TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Waterloo Media’s KLBJ-AM, Austin adds a half share to finish the survey with a 5.5 share good for the #3 rank in the market. In Raleigh, iHeartMedia’s WTKK-FM picks up three-tenths to finish with a 7.0 share and the #3 rank. Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis adds 1.1 shares for a 9.1 share in the September survey and rises to the #2 rank. And in Milwaukee, the battle between iHeartMedia’s WISN and Good Karma Brands’ WTMJ heats up with both stations posting gains in the September survey. WISN added 1.6 shares to wrap the survey with a 10.2 share and to remain at #1. WTMJ tacks on a half share to finish with a 7.2 share and climbs to the #4 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways here.

Beasley Media Group Promotes Two. Rising from his role as vice president and market manager for the company’s Southwest Florida station group is Brad Beasley, who is named vice president of operations for the company. In this role, he’ll work with Beasley Media Group president Bruce Beasley and chief operating officer Brian Beasley in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company’s 64 radio stations. He says, “I look forward to this exciting new phase of my broadcasting career. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work alongside our corporate team and with all of our great stations across the country.” Taking over the vice president and market manager post at Beasley’s Southwest Florida station group is AJ Lurie. He’s been serving as director of local market integrated partnerships at Beasley Esports and market manager of Beasley’s WJBR-FM, Wilmington, Delaware. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “AJ was the perfect choice to lead our six radio properties in Southwest Florida. His leadership and previous experience working in the market made him the perfect choice for the position. We look forward to AJ working closely with our teams to take the cluster to the next level and beyond.”

‘The Game’ in San Francisco Unveils New Morning Show. Bay Area sports talker KGMZ-FM “95.7 The Game” will debut a new morning drive show on October 12. The station moves midday personality Bonta Hill and evening host Joe Shasky to the morning daypart and brings Kate Scott aboard to complete the trio. Scott previously served with Cumulus’ crosstown sports talker KNBR. As a result of this change, Dan Dibley moves from mornings to the midday show and Lorenzo Neal leaves mornings but stays with the station as lead NFL insider.

WPRT-FM, Nashville Names ‘Robby & Rexrode’ Morning Show Hosts. The duo of Robby Stanley and Joe Rexrode have been hosting the morning show on Cromwell Media’s sports talk WPRT-FM, Nashville “ESPN 102.5 The Game” since the station parted ways with Derrick Mason and Braden Gall back in February. Now, the station makes them the permanent co-hosts. Station program director Ryan Porth says, “Robby and Joe have done an outstanding job on an interim basis this year as we conducted an exhaustive search for our permanent morning show. We are beyond excited to welcome them to our outstanding team. These two talented individuals add instant credibility to our lineup and bring a wealth of knowledge on the Nashville sports landscape. We are looking forward to seeing this show continue to grow.” Stanley has covered the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans over the past 10 years for various local and national media outlets. He’s been a contributor to ‘The Game’ in multiple capacities since 2014. Rexrode brings more than 20 years of experience in journalism to the station. He’s currently serving as columnist and senior writer for The Athletic Nashville. He previously worked at The Tennessean, the Detroit Free Press and the Lansing State Journal.

SRN’s Larry Elder Appointed to White House Commission. Nationally syndicated talk show host Larry Elder has been appointed to the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys by President Trump. The commission was signed into law on August 14 to study and make recommendations to the president to address conditions affecting Black men and boys. Elder, a Salem Radio Network personality, says, “That so many children, particularly black children, are raised without fathers in the home, is our nation’s most pressing domestic problem. Former President Barack Obama said that a child raised without a father in the home is five times more likely to be poor and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to end up in jail. We need to ask ourselves if we are incentivizing women to marry the government and if we are incentivizing men to abandon their financial and moral responsibility.”

Don Barrett Retires LARadio.com. Today (10/5), publisher Don Barrett announces that he’s ending the long-lived web publication LARadio.com launched in 1995. He writes, “My goal from day one with my books and later website was to pay tribute to the men and women who have entertained us in LARadio for the past half century. The underlying theme was to paint an accurate, positive picture of on-air radio people who sit in empty rooms broadcasting to thousands of people, weaving tales that kept the listener engaged and enthralled – the ultimate storytellers. I wanted to pay tribute to those who had gone before us and blazed the trail. Many of our profiles filled in so many missing pieces about the stories of our favorites we only thought we knew from behind the microphone. If you read a story and said, ‘I didn’t know that,’ or ‘that’s fascinating,’ then I accomplished my task. And when Los Angeles Radio People died, I never wanted that LARP, no matter how big or small, to leave in obscurity. It was important to make sure he or she didn’t leave as an unknown, but rather as a part of this rare fraternity of Los Angeles Radio People.” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison released the following statement, “As a broadcaster who spent 11 of the most gratifying years of my career in LA radio, in addition to being a trade journal publisher myself, I salute Don Barrett as a true industry hero and major champion in the ongoing battle to keep the spirit of radio alive as a major focal point of pop culture, communication and community in America.  Thank you, Don, for all you have done.”

SRN’s Sebastian Gorka at Walter Reed Trump Rally. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk host and former White House national security strategist Sebastian Gorka posing for a photo with a young lady named Brooklyn who traveled from New Jersey to show support for President Trump. Gorka greeted crowds outside the medical center Saturday evening and on Sunday as they waved flags and banners in support of the president who made a brief drive-by in an SUV to thank the well-wishers.

Holland Cooke Marks Third Anniversary as Host of The Big Picture. Noted media consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke marked his third anniversary as host of the RT America weekly television show, “The Big Picture” this past weekend. Joining him as a guest on the occasion was TALKERS founder Michael Harrison who served as a guest on Cooke’s debut installment in October 2017.  At that time Cooke assumed the anchoring duties when he was passed the baton by the program’s original host, Thom Hartmann. Cooke and Harrison discussed the role of political news/talk radio going forward into the third decade of the 21st century addressing such questions as whether the genre is more entertainment than information, what 2020 election result would prove more beneficial to the medium, is it likely that the nation will come together after the election and can a news organization that adheres to non-partisan journalistic principles succeed on cable TV in today’s polarized environment.  To view the segment, please click here.

Elvis Duran to Host the 2020 Radio Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year’s induction ceremony for the Radio Hall of Fame will be hosted by Premiere Networks syndicated morning star Elvis Duran. The event takes place on October 29 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm and will be live from multiple locations due to COVID-19 concerns. Hall of Fame chair Kraig Kitchin says, “Elvis Duran is one of the most popular radio hosts in the country, and I’m delighted that he will lead us through an exciting live broadcast across multiple audio channels. We’re thrilled to have Smokey Robinson and such notable presenters join us. We’re looking forward to a very special evening.” This year’s inductees are: Mark & Brian – KLOS-FM, Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more); Cokie Roberts – Political Reporter, NPR, Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more); Angie Martinez – WWPR-FM New York City, Active Local/Regional (10 years or more); The Breakfast Club – Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, DJ Envy, Premiere Networks WWPR -FM, Active Network/Syndication (10 years or more); Sway CallowaySiriusXM Shade 45 Channel, Public Vote Music Format On-Air Personality; Glenn Beck – The Glenn Beck Show, Premiere Networks, Public Vote Spoken Word On-Air Personality; and Donnie Simpson – WMMJ-FM Washington D.C., Radio Hall of Fame Nominating Committee inductee.

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Rodney Ho, Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta has cut the overnight news position and let 24-year staffer Mark Alewine go. Alewine tells Ho he believes the move was budget related and says, “It has truly been my distinct honor and privilege to say ‘Depend on It’ while working at the best radio station on the planet!”…..FOX Sports Radio reports “record audience gains across multiple digital platforms for September and August 2020,” saying that “the return of football, along with the NBA Playoffs and MLB season, drove major audience increases across the FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network. Total listenership grew +144% year-to-year in September, resulting in an all-time record of nearly 27 million monthly listens.”…..AdLarge Media enters into a deal with boostr for use of the latter’s technology to “seamlessly connect AdLarge’s sales and operations to enable faster execution of ad campaigns with enhanced scalability, more robust reporting, and maximum flexibility.”…..iHeartMedia Albany’s WGY “News Radio 810 & 103.1” and hot AC WRVE “99.5 The River” raised more than $274,000 during last week’s two-day “Cares for Kids Radiothon” to benefit the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med. The radiothon featured WGY air personalities Chuck Custer, Kelly Lynch, Diane Donato and Jaime Roberts, and 99.5 The River’s Randy McCarten, Rachel Davis, BJ the Web Guy, and Terry O’Donnell who encouraged listeners to donate and support the hospital’s pediatric health care programs. Over the last 22 years, “Cares for Kids Radiothon” has raised more than $6 million to benefit the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. The partnership between CMT and iHeartMedia will again result in iHeartCountry serving as the official radio partner of the “2020 CMT Music Awards” airing Wednesday, October 21 at 8:00 pm ET. The live radio broadcast of the Awards telecast will air on more than 120 iHeartCountry music radio stations. This year’s star-studded awards show will feature performances from superstar acts including Ashley McBryde, Dan + Shay, Kane Brown, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan and Maren Morris, with presenters and additional performances and collaborations to be announced in the coming weeks.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

| August 22, 2019

Joe Walsh May Mount Primary Challenge Against Trump. Talk media personality and former U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) tells Politico that he’s seriously considering launching a Republican primary campaign to challenge President Trump for the nomination. Calling the president an “unfit, divider-in-chief,” Walsh tells the publication he believes he can raise the money to compete against the president.  He adds that if he decides to run, he’ll make an announcement soon.  Walsh hosts his eponymous 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET talk radio program syndicated by Salem Radio Network.

Sports Talker George Plaster to Return to Nashville Airwaves.  Recently, Nashville sports media personality George Plaster went back on the radio in Nashville after a three-year stint as associate athletics director and Belmont College.  But his gig with Grand Ole Opry’s WSM-AM lasted only one month.  Now, The Tennessean reports that Plaster is joining Southern Wabash Communications’ sports talk WNSR-AM “Sportsradio 560” to host the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm show, effective September 3.  Before Plaster left the radio biz to serve with Belmont College, he had served with Cumulus Media’s WWTN-FM and WGFX-FM, as well as Cromwell Group’s WPRT-FM as a sports talk host in the market.

PPM Analysis: MLB Flagships. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents the second of his four-part series looking at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s July PPM survey.  Today’s report looks at stations that serve as MLB flagships.  In it, see charts logging the changes in weekly, 6+ AQH share from the June survey to July’s; from July of 2018 to this year; based on market rank; and more here.

WLAC, Nashville Host Steve Gill Arrested for Non-Payment of Child Support. According to coverage in The Tennessean, talk host and conservative media personality Steve Gill was arrested on Tuesday (8/20) and placed in the Williamson County Jail for non-payment of child support to his ex-wife.  The piece states that Gill, who hosts “The TN Star Gill Report” on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WLAC, Nashville, is being ordered by a county judge to pay Kathryn B. Gill $170,000 in support.  The court is also ordering that Gill remain in jail until he pays the money owed.  In January of this year, Kathryn Gill initiated a petition for civil contempt that sought $86,000 in child support, $4,400 in medical expenses, $133,000 in college expenses, and $11,000 for a car for the children’s use.

Epoch Times Responds to NBC/MSNBC Attacks with Scathing Rebuttal.  Once again, NBC News has attacked the independent New York-based international news organization with Chinese roots, The Epoch Times, in a harsh “expose” based on its unwavering support of President Donald Trump, its non-traditional reporting on so-called “conspiracy theories,” its connection to the growing Chinese spiritual practice of Falun Gong, and its unambiguous opposition to the Chinese Communist Party. The article, written by NBC reporters Brandy Zadrozney and Ben Collins, posted Tuesday (8/20) is titled, “Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times.”  It’s headline subtitle states, “Started almost two decades ago with a stated mission to ‘provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,’ The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet.”  During the past year, The Epoch Times has gained significant popularity as a news and guest source among conservative talk media hosts for what they see as its fresh perspective on a wide array of hot topics, from the Mueller Report to the Southern Border immigration crisis.  But, specifically, it is The Epoch Times’ first-hand connection to China and the growing importance of U.S.-China relations in the national conversation that have elevated it to must-read status among a growing number of conservative and independent media practitioners beefing up their intelligence in this rapidly emerging arena.  In today’s online edition of The Epoch Times, the news organization responds with a point-by-point rebuttal penned by its editor-in-chief/US editions, Jasper Fakkert titled, “Why NBC, MSNBC’s Reporting on The Epoch Times is Textbook Fake News.”  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments, “This troubling media skirmish prompted by the NBC ‘expose’ of The Epoch Times is yet another example of a disturbing trend in which diverse news organizations are attacking each other based on political bias and journalistic practices for the sheer purpose of providing affirmation to their target audiences.  It has become a widespread exercise of the pot calling the kettle black.  We all know that there’s plenty to criticize about any media outlet in today’s highly polarized political arena – and that ‘cherry picking’ isolated issues and piling them up out of context into a damning case has become routine in today’s increasingly normal practice of seeking victory at the expense of truth.  It is journalism’s brand of the kind of ‘negative campaigning’ that has turned politics into an odious form of mud wrestling.” Harrison continues, “My statement here is not to endorse nor oppose the editorial positions of The Epoch Times – I stay out of that kind of stuff – but rather to support the legitimacy of its role in the world media as one of the most influential outlets along the leading edge of the Chinese people’s resistance to the repressive Communist control of their homeland for the past 70 years.”  To read the NBC story, please click here.  To book an interview with editor Jasper Fakkert or a reporter from The Epoch Times please contact Victoria Jones of DC Radio Company at 202-227-7067 or victoria@dcradiocompany.com.

WEEI-NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon Raises $3.5 Million for Cancer Charity.  The past two days – August 20-21 – Entercom sports talk WEEI-Boston produced the 18th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon with cable TV partner New England Sports Network.  This year’s radio-telethon helped raise $3,471,104 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  Pictured above is Boston comic Lenny Clarke (center) with WEEI morning show personalities Greg Hill (right) and Danielle Murr (left).

Matt Senne to Lead Hubbard Radio’s Central Minnesota Cluster. Radio pro Matt Senne is named to the general manager position for Hubbard Broadcasting’s radio station group in the Alexandria and Wadena, Minnesota markets.  Hubbard acquired the stations from Omni Broadcasting in a 2015 deal.  Hubbard VP and regional manager Dan Seeman says, “I can’t tell you how excited we are to bring Matt into Hubbard Broadcasting. Matt‘s background provides the perfect fit for the experience, passion and creativity we need in the Alexandria and Wadena markets.  He comes from a great family company at Leighton Broadcasting and we look forward to welcoming him to the Hubbard family and Hubbard Broadcasting.”  Senne served with Leighton for 21 years, serving as morning show host, program director, operations manager and director of programming.  Most recently he was the general manager for Leighton in Winona, Minnesota .

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Joining FOX News as Contributor. Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is joining FOX News as a contributor, effective September 6.  Variety’s Brian Steinberg has the scoop here.  Sanders has been Trump’s longest-serving White House press secretary, logging two years in the position.  In this position she’ll make appearances on FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, FOX News Digital and the FOX Nation streaming service.

U.S.-China Trade War, Financial Markets Activity/Recession Fears, 2020 Presidential Race, Immigration Reform, U.S.-Israel Relations, Trump’s Greenland Purchase Controversy, and Sean Spicer-Dancing with the Stars Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/21).  The tariffs the U.S. and China are placing on each other’s exports; the volatility of the world’s financial markets and the fears of a recession; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the Trump administration’s efforts to re-shape U.S. immigration and asylum rules; U.S.-Israel relations in the aftermath of the latter’s travel ban on U.S. Reps Tlaib and Omar; the controversy over Trump’s comments about buying Greenland; and the reactions to former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer’s appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Dana Cortez Talks with Chance the Rapper in Central Park.  Nationally syndicated multi-media star Dana Cortez (right) is pictured above in Central Park in New York City chatting with Chance the Rapper (left) about his new album and his status as an expecting father preparing to go out on the road to support the record.  “The Dana Cortez Show” is a cooperative effort of ABC Radio and Skyview Networks.  See the video here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Los Angeles, KYSR-FM “ALT 98.7” imaging director Josh Jensen exits the station after a year.  He moved to KYSR in 2018 after a lengthy gig at iHeartMedia’s rock WXTB “98 Rock” and country WUFS “US 103.5” in Tampa.  Jenson plans to re-locate to Nashville while continuing to handle imaging duties for The Mix Group.

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, November 8, 2011

| November 8, 2011

Critiquing Talk Hosts a Challenging Two-Way Street.  Many talk radio programming pros agree that critiquing – or air checking – talk show hosts is something that is almost a lost art in the current talk radio environment.  Both at the network and the station levels, programmers working with talent to improve their on-air product is challenging enough given the egos of the managers and talent and the myriad programming philosophies out there.  But add in the hectic schedule of today’s talk PD and “challenging” becomes a mild term for the state of the talent critique.  TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian speaks with programming pros including Salem Radio Networks VP of news and talk programming Tom Tradup, Sound Mind chief Kraig Kitchin and others about the state of critiquing talk talent.  Read the story here.

Roger Hedgecock Moves to KFMB, San Diego in New Year.  We have a clearer picture of what’s happening in San Diego now.  Yes, as reported earlier, longtime KOGO PM drive host Roger Hedgecock will move his Radio America-syndicated program to Midwest Television’s crosstown KFMB beginning January 2.  KFMB program director Dave Sniff says of the move, “KFMB has always been about mirroring our community, and Roger is synonymous with San Diego.  No host reflects the views and concerns of San Diegans better than Roger.”  Sniff does not mention current PM drive host Rick Roberts in the release.  Meanwhile, Hedgecock stays on the AM side at Clear Channel’s KOGO – which began simulcasting on FM this week – while LaDona Harvey handles the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm show on the FM side.  So far, it’s the only split of programming for KOGO’s AM and FM broadcasts.  Also, KOGO debuts talk host Bryan Suits in the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot and Bob “Sully” Sullivan in the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm time slot.

Willy Daunic Joined by Joe Dubin for PM Drive at Sports WPRT-FM, Nashville.  The Cromwell Group’s new FM sports talk station in Nashville adds market television sports personality Joe Dubin to “The Sports Revolution” program hosted by Willy Daunic.  Dubin will serve as co-host and executive producer.  Daunic worked at crosstown WGFX-FM with George Plaster’s “The Sports Zone” program before Plaster left the station suddenly just prior to the CumulusCitadel merger.  Daunic stayed with Cumulus briefly but the two sides could not agree on a contract.  Daunic says, “I am glad to have Joe aboard to launch “The Sports Revolution.”  His energy and enthusiasm are going to be an asset.  He also loves Nashville having grown up here, and has built a great following over the years.”  Dubin worked in Nashville TV for 15 years and has won two Murrow Awards and a local Emmy.

WBAL, Baltimore to Try Out Marc Unger in Evening Slot.  DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports comic, actor and Baltimore sports talk personality Marc Unger is getting an on-air tryout at Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot.  Beginning tonight (11/8), Unger will host a program dealing with politics, social issues and sports in the time slot where the station had been airing reruns of its midday Ron Smith program.

Sign of the Times?  As the media landscape changes and delivery of content moves inexorably from analog over-the-air to a digital combination of wired and wireless, perhaps this photo of America’s first licensed commercial radio towers coming down is truly worth 1,000 words.  WBZ, Boston director of news and programming Peter Casey photographed the felling of WBZ’s first towers atop the old Westinghouse plant in Springfield, Massachusetts – some 85 miles west of Boston – as a piece of radio history is dismantled.  What you see here is one of the two 100-foot towers that served as the original transmitters for WBZ when it began operation 90 years ago.  We posted photos of the two towers atop the buildings in September as CBS Radio’s WBZ celebrated its 90th anniversary on September 19.

New Cain Accusation, Iran Nukes, Penn State Scandal, Italy Economic Trouble and ‘OWS’ Movemement Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/7).  The latest accusation of sexual misconduct by GOP candidate Herman Cain, the reports of Iran’s advancing nuclear weapons program, the Penn State sexual assault scandal, Italy’s contribution to the Euro zone economic problems and the ‘OWS’ movement were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.