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Thursday, October 28, 2021

| October 28, 2021

iHeartMedia Adds ‘Jim Polito Show’ to WXKS-AM, Boston. Boston news/talk outlet WXKS-AM “Talk 1200” is adding “The Jim Polito Show” to the morning drive daypart, replacing the FOX Sports Radio programming currently airing there. Jim Polito’s morning show launched on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTAG-AM, Worcester and was eventually rolled out to news/talk WHYN-AM, Springfield and news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence, replacing the local morning shows on those stations. iHeartMedia president of the New England area community markets Sean Davey says, “I am proud of Jim and his growth. More than anyone I know, Jim loves politics and the ‘give and take’ that goes with it. For him to be heard in Boston is so exciting and the natural next step in Jim’s growth.” Polito comments, “Boston is the next stop for making serious talk fun. I do battle with the political establishment and succeed where others fail by changing minds and waking people up on the ‘right’ side of the bed.”

John Batchelor Returns to New York Airwaves on WOR. Nationally syndicated nighttime radio personality John Batchelor returns to the New York City air on November 1 as iHeartMedia’s news/talk 710 WOR, The Voice of New York adds his program, “Eye on the World with John Batchelor,” to the schedule in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight daypart. WOR program director Tom Cuddy says, “I have been a fan of John’s for almost two decades and the dedication he consistently displays in tracking down the details behind the important stories anywhere in the world and then sorting them out for listeners.” Batchelor says, “I am astounded to be invited to join the legendary WOR at this promising time, when the listeners of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut begin the hard work to recover from these last rough years. This is a privilege.” Batchelor’s program broadcasts nightly from New York and is syndicated by CBS Audio.

iHeartMedia Spends $64 Million to Repurchase All Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock. The company announces that it has – via its subsidiary iHeart Operations, Inc., repurchased and cancelled all of its 60,000 outstanding shares of Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock, paying for it with cash on hand. The cash repurchase price for each Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock is $1,000, plus a premium equal to the remaining dividends required to be paid through the optional redemption date of May 1, 2022 discounted at a negotiated rate. This results in an aggregate redemption amount of $64.35 million to be paid to the holders of the $60 million Series A Perpetual Preferred Stock. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “We are pleased to have voluntarily repurchased the full balance of our $60 million preferred stock, demonstrating our commitment to strengthening our balance sheet and increasing free cash flow, while still maintaining ample liquidity. Repurchasing early allows us to realize interest savings, exit the most restrictive instrument on our balance sheet, and continue to reinforce iHeart’s commitment to improving our capital structure. This action continues to demonstrate our confidence in our business moving forward.”

Armstrong & Getty Are This Week’s Guests on Harrison Podcast. The long-running, highly successful, West Coast-based news/talk radio duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are this week’s guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” They started out as DJs in music radio in the early 90s but transitioned to all-talk and landed a big-time slot in 1998 as the morning team on news/talk station KSTE in Sacramento, California where they developed a reputation throughout the radio industry for their freshness and youthful dynamics. They’ve remained a huge attraction on that station to this very day but their reputation and reach has spread and continues to grow far beyond the Golden State’s capital. They are now a morning powerhouse in California’s major cities including KABC, Los Angeles; KSFO, San Francisco; and KGB-AM, San Diego and are heard throughout the West as well as on an increasing number of stations spreading East via their own independent syndication. “When I first heard them years ago, they sounded to me more like the kind of talk show hosts one would expect to hear on a rock station than on a serious news outlet. They were funny and irreverent and surrounded with a cast of characters that gave their show more of the feeling of a morning zoo than a round table of stuffy panelists,” says TALKERS founder Michael Harrison. “But even though they were zany and played the goofball roll to a certain degree, their antics were offset by obvious intelligence, keen insight, excellent interviewing skills and a ton of information about what was happening in the news.” Today, this compelling act – though still first and foremost entertaining and full of engaging pop culture – has matured and is a perfect fit for news/talk stations looking to cover the news and maintain a conservative orientation, but without the pedantic posture that can sacrifice a more eclectic audience. Even more important,” says Harrison, “Jack and Joe remain irreverent and are not rigidly beholden to any singular ideology or political personality. They present their opinions issue by issue. As we approach 2022, the show is uniquely positioned to be a major element in the unfolding news/talk radio universe.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

iHeartMedia Swipes Green Bay Packers Football from Good Karma Brands. The business relationships between radio stations and sports franchises are not immune to change but iHeartMedia’s new deal with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers that moves play-by-play broadcast rights in the state’s largest market from Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee to its own crosstown sports talk WRNW-FM “97.3 The Game” beginning in 2022 is huge because WTMJ has enjoyed broadcasting Packers games since 1929. The team announced the news yesterday (10/27) and clarifies that this change only affects the Milwaukee affiliate as the team brought the Packers Radio Network in house in 2018. Packers VP of sales and business development Craig Benzel says, “iHeartMedia enthusiastically pursued the opportunity that being part of the network creates, and we are looking forward to how their innovative approach will appeal to Packers fans in southeastern Wisconsin. The Packers have greatly appreciated the partnership with WTMJ over the years and will always respect the history they have with the franchise.” The press release says, “‘97.3 The Game’ WRNW and iHeartMedia Milwaukee will offer an attractive demographic opportunity to reach new listeners with a growing sports talk radio segment and other programming formats in the Milwaukee area. Additionally, the partnership offers a variety of new platforms that will support key Packers initiatives, including iHeartMedia’s new audio partnership with the NFL which features podcast distribution.” The most recent Nielsen PPM numbers (6+, weekly AQH share) from the September 2021 survey show WTMJ ranked #1 in the market with a 9.1 share and WRNW-FM ranked #15 with a 1.3 share.

Charlie Sislen to Retire from Research Director; Karen Morriss Joins as Director of Client Services. Radio pro Charlie Sislen is retiring from his role at Research Director, Inc after 24 years with the company as a partner. His last day will be December 31, 2021. Sislen says, “It has been a pleasure being part of Research Director, Inc. for the past 24 years. I woke up every day excited not only about what would come next, but also more importantly the people I would interact with. I enjoyed every conversation with Research Director, Inc.’s amazing team, our tremendous clients, and everyone who makes our industry great. I want to especially thank my partner, Marc Greenspan, who had the vision to bring me into this company and partnered with me to build a truly remarkable organization. I am leaving a phenomenal team, whose hard work made my role as the face of the company easy. They made the difference for every one of our clients. Now is the time of my life where I must shift my focus from my career, which I love, to my family and my community. Research Director, Inc. and the radio industry will always be in my heart. My thanks to all who were such an integral part of this life‐changing journey.” As a part of the transition, Karen Morriss joins the team as the director of client services. She says, “I’m excited to be joining the Research Director, Inc. team. I’ve known Marc and Charlie for over 30 years and have great respect for both of them. I look forward to working with their wonderful clients.”

Triton Digital and Signal Hill Insights Collaborate to Create Demos+ Podcast Metrics Service. This collaborative effort between Triton Digital and audio research firm Signal Hill Insights results in the enhancement to Triton’s Podcast Metrics that provides audience demographic and socio-demographic data on podcast listeners and downloads in the United States. Triton Digital says the new Demos+ solution is “the first-ever integration of census and survey-based research podcast measurement methodologies. Through this collaboration, podcast publishers, advertisers, and agencies will be able to leverage podcast download metrics by person-level demographic, socio-demographic, media behavior and purchase intent propensities.” The two firms say they’ve “launched a large, year-round survey that is representative of the population of podcast listeners in the United States. Demos+ utilizes the Podcast Metrics measurement census-level data to identify listener overlap to scale the podcast survey-based insights. This unique approach enables Triton to project the audience composition for virtually all size podcasts – a capability previously hindered by podcast survey sample-size limitations. With this insight, podcasters will see a clear view of their audience, and marketers can more easily identify the podcasts which best reach their target audience.”

TALKERS News Notes. Promotions and marketing pro Sandy Corcoran joins Summit Media as promotions director for the company’s Omaha station group that includes sports talk KXSP “AM 590 ESPN” and four music brands. Corcoran served for 10 years with Audacy where she was the assistant director of marketing and promotions for the Phoenix cluster, including KOOL-FM, KALV-FM, and KMLE-FM. She says, “I’m excited for the opportunity to join SummitMedia and their heritage brands in Omaha. Radio and music are my biggest passions. I couldn’t be happier to oversee promotions and events for this cluster.”.…..Podcast firm PodcastOne extends its podcast production partnership with REELZ to launch “Sex, Lies & Murder,” the latest true crime podcast in a series of shows co-produced by the two media companies. “Sex, Lies & Murder” episodes feature the real stories of sex-driven crimes that have rocked communities. These are the stories of a suburban housewife who becomes a killer. A church pastor who has extramarital sex then his wife joins the dearly departed. It’s a soccer mom who is found dead and police uncover her double life as a midnight escort. PodcastOne president Kit Gray states, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to continue our long standing relationship with REELZ through our latest podcast “Sex, Lies & Murder.” Listeners and advertisers alike know that our REELZ-branded programming is edge-of-your-seat content that the podcast world is hungry for and we are excited to deliver.”…..ABC News is covering the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow with correspondent Karen Travers reporting from Glasgow. She’ll file regular reports for newscasts, “Perspective” and other audio platforms. ABC Audio will also release a five-part climate report series examining the consequences of climate change and issues the conference is planning to address. Additionally, ABC News’ flagship daily podcast “Start Here,” hosted by Brad Mielke, will dedicate multiple segments to the effects of climate change and how Americans are addressing the problem.

Biden’s Infrastructure and Social Spending Bills, COVID-19, Virginia Governor’s Race, Petroleum Industry Testimony/Climate Change, Supply Chain Woes/Inflation, Migrant Caravan/Immigration Policy, China’s Taiwan Aggression, and Rust Set Shooting Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/27). The state of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending bills as Democratic factions battle over where to spend; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., vaccine approved for kids, and mask & vaccine mandates; the tight race between Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin; today’s testimony before Congress from petroleum industry CEOs about climate change; the ongoing supply chain breakdown and soaring retail prices; a migrant caravan in Mexico approaches the U.S. border and the Biden administration’s border and immigration policies; China’s continuing military aggression toward Taiwan; and the investigation into the deadly shooting on the Santa Fe set of Alec Baldwin’s Rust film were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

| February 16, 2021

WABC, New York Owner John Catsimatidis ‘Very Close’ to Deciding to Run for Mayor of NYC. On yesterday’s “Bernie and Sid in the Morning” program on Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York, company CEO John Catsimatidis said “we’re very close to deciding” on whether he’ll run for mayor of New York this year. Catsimatidis has been teasing his potential second run for mayor – he ran as a Republican in 2013 and lost in the primary. He told the New York Post he’s a Republican-Liberal candidate. “The progressive flank of the Democratic Party seems to be controlling common-sense Democrats through fear and intimidation. I stand by my belief that the so-called Progressive movement is actually REGRESSIVE, taking our city back 30 years. I love this city and I want to be able to help it, but I have to resolve things with my company, and I have to resolve things with my family.”  On the “Bernie and Sid” program, he said, “We want to go back to being the best city in the world, an international city that can create jobs.” 77 WABC notes that there are 41 candidates running in the city’s June 22 primary race. In addition to owning WABC, Catsimatidis hosts the 5:00 pm “Cats at Night” program as well as the Sunday morning show, “The Cats Roundtable.” It’s worth noting that WABC early afternoon talk host Curtis Sliwa is also considering a run for mayor as a Republican.

‘The Dana Show’ Adds New Affiliate Stations. The Radio America nationally syndicated talk program “The Dana Show” – hosted by Dana Loesch – adds a number of new stations to its affiliate roster. Adding the show to their program schedules are: Tiger Communications’ WQSI-FM, Auburn, Alabama; Entercom’s WSKY-FM, Gainesville, Florida; Cumberland Broadcasting Company’s WCBC-AM, Cumberland, Maryland; Vernon R. Baldwin’s WMOH-AM, Hamilton, Ohio; KSBN Radio’s KSBN-AM, Spokane; VP Broadcasting’s WHOL-AM/W295CR Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Grace Broadcasting Services’ WTJS-FM, Jackson, Tennessee.

Matthew Volk Joins Entercom as Vice President of Sports. Sports programming pro Matthew Volk is named vice president of sports for Entercom. He was most recently vice president of content strategy for NBC Sports Washington. In his new role with Entercom, Volk will collaborate with national and market-level leadership to create and manage the integration of existing and new sports and sports-betting content and partnerships across the company’s broadcast, podcast, and on-demand sports audio portfolio. He will also be charged with expanding on Entercom’s sports betting content through the expansion of the BetQL Audio Network and additional broadcast and digital concepts. Volk will report to Entercom EVP of programming Jeff Sottolano while also collaborating with the QL Gaming Group and the digital editorial team on multi-platform concepts to reach sports betting fans. He will also partner with sales leadership on the development of programs, features and sponsorship opportunities. About his new position, Volk says, “This is an incredible opportunity to build on the core assets of Entercom’s sports brands and its broadcast pipes to drive its premier content both locally and nationally across digital, editorial, audio, video and betting content on all platforms. Our multiplatform first approach will enable us to leverage our market-leading talent, programs and access to bring our fans all of the content they crave on the devices they choose.”

Jasmine M. Johnson Named VP of Sales for iHeartMedia Milwaukee. Sales pro Jasmine M. Johnson joins iHeartMedia Milwaukee to serve as vice president of sales for the cluster that includes news/talk WISN-AM, sports talk duo WRNW “97.3 The Game” and WOKY “The Big 920” and four music brands. In this role, Johnson will be responsible for leading multi-cultural initiatives for broadcast, digital and iHeartRadio customers across the region. She will report to Nathan Tonarelli, SVP of sales for iHeartMedia Milwaukee. Prior to joining iHeartMedia, she served with Walgreens, Pfizer Inc., and ManpowerGroup. Her first gig after college was as an intern with the company’s hip hop WKKV “V100.” She says, “This for me is a full circle moment. To return to the company that gave me my first start – from an intern to my first job post-undergrad – as vice president of sales leading such an iconic brand in our community and serving such a loyal listenership base is a gift.”

TALKERS News Notes. Radio programming pro Jon Goulet joins VSiN, “The Sports Betting Network,” in the newly created position of program director. Goulet comes to VSiN from FOX Sports where he was executive producer for “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” His role with VSiN includes overseeing the network’s growing slate of sports betting podcasts and continuing to build out its broadcast radio footprint. VSiN CEO Brian Musberger says, “Jon is one of the most respected names in radio and we’re thrilled to benefit from his industry experience and relationships as we continue to grow our audio capabilities. As the leader in the sports betting audio space, adding Jon will allow us to strengthen our podcast network and both improve and expand our offerings for broadcast radio.”…..News radio pro Jerry Barmash is producing and hosting the podcast, “Here Now the News.” Barmash has worked in news anchor roles at news/talk WABC and business news WBBR-AM in New York. He tells TALKERS magazine, “My podcast ‘Here Now the News’ was born out of my previous digital reporting work for WABC. When the pandemic hit, I started posting stories with additional video content for the website. The podcast focuses on current events with newsmakers from around the country. Since starting in October, guests have included Anthony Scaramucci, former New York Governor David Paterson and television personality Bob Eubanks…..Cox Media Group Tulsa radio stations, including news/talk KRMG-FM are partnering with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to help “Spread the Love.” The company says the annual drive to collect peanut butter and jelly is more crucial than ever this year, as the COVID-19 outbreak has forced more people to rely on assistance in feeding their families. CMG Tulsa market VP Cathy Gunther says, “It is startling to hear that one in three children in our communities are unsure from where their next meal is coming. The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is doing some heavy lifting to keep people fed during such uncertain times, and we are happy to pitch in and encourage our listeners to help.”

Trump Acquittal Aftermath/State of the GOP, Capitol Riot Commission, Stimulus Bill Negotiations, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, and Winter Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/15). The political climate in Washington, DC in the wake of Saturday’s acquittal of Donald Trump and the state of the Republican Party; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promises an independent commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot; the negotiations in Congress over Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill; the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; and the freezing winter weather affecting much of the country and paralyzing parts of the South were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

| January 5, 2021

Mike Luery Named Assistant News Director for KFBK, Sacramento. Radio and television news pro Mike Luery joins iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento “News 93.1” as 24/7 News and KFBK assistant news director for iHeartMedia’s Pacific region. iHeartMedia Pacific region news director Jayson Campadonia says that in this role, Luery will “help oversee news in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska. He’ll report on everything from breaking news to politics to state fairs. With his vast experience in the news business, he will additionally play a critical role in developing young news talent.” KFBK program director Bill White states, “We look forward to Mike being an integral partner in contributing to the news content on ‘The KFBK Morning News with Cristina Mendonsa and Sam Shane’ as well as ‘The KFBK Afternoon News with Kitty O’Neal.’ Mike, with his decades of news experience in Sacramento, will be an excellent addition to our team of Northern California news veterans.” Luery served with Hearst Television’s KCRA-TV, Sacramento for 24 years. He began his career as news director at KZOZ-FM in San Luis Obispo, California.

WGY-AM/FM, Albany Adds Doug Goudie to Morning Show. Longtime Boston media figure Doug Goudie becomes part of the morning show at iHeartMedia’s WGY-AM/FM, Albany on Thursday (1/7), partnering with current air personality Kelly Lynch. Goudie assumes the role left vacant after Chuck Custer retired from the station in December following a 36-year career with WGY. Goudie, a.k.a. V.B. – short for Virgin Boy – got his nickname from Boston talk radio legend Howie Carr during his time working on Carr’s show at WRKO, Boston where he began his media career back in the late 1990s. WGY program director Jeff Wolf says, “With Doug’s rich experience as a recent midday talk host on iHeartMedia Boston’s WRKO, TV commentator on WFXT-TV, and long-stint on The Howie Carr Radio Show, I’m confident that he will satisfy the expectations of WGY listeners for years to come. The heart of what brings so many Capital Region listeners to WGY in the morning will remain unchanged. Doug and Kelly will both entertain and inform with meaningful conversations on the important local and national stories of the day but having fun will continue to be part of the show as well.”

Steve Czaban Exits WTEM, Washington; No Change to WRNW-FM, Milwaukee Gig. Sports talk host Steve Czaban announced via Twitter that he’s exited Washington, DC sports talk outlet WTEM “The Team” as his contract was up and new owner Entercom took control of the station from Urban One. While he won’t be doing a daily show in Washington, he will remain with Entercom on a part-time basis and will host a Saturday morning program on sister sports talker WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan.” The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that Czaban says the change in DC has no effect on his Milwaukee radio show heard daily in morning drive on iHeartMedia’s WRNW-FM “97.3 The Game.” Czaban calls his exit from WTEM a mutual one, telling the MBJ, “As my contract was coming to an end, I had been contemplating a change of pace and direction for some time now. This is the right move for me at the right time. I am very excited and thankful for this opportunity, and any others that may present themselves in the future.”

Beasley Media Group Begins 60th Anniversary Celebration. The logo you see here is being unveiled by Beasley Media Group to commemorate the company’s 60th anniversary. The company says, “On December 2, 1961, a young high school principal named George Beasley launched WPYB-AM in Benson, North Carolina with the vision of providing a voice for the voiceless in the local community! Today, Beasley Media Group is a multiplatform media company providing advertising and digital marketing solutions across the United States with 64 radio properties located in 15 large and medium markets across the country. Beasley also offers capabilities in audio technology, esports, podcasting, ecommerce, and events. Featured on the NASDAQ, BBGI is ranked among the publicly traded media companies in America.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley adds, “We are so thrilled to be able to celebrate the incredible legacy that our father, George, began back in 1961 when he built his very first AM station in Benson, North Carolina. It’s such a privilege to be able to build upon his forward-thinking vision and continue to blaze new innovative trails in today’s ever-changing industry with our outstanding employees and management team. Here’s to the next 60 years!”

Noted Record Producer and “Urban Philosopher” Robbie Stevens Rejoins TalkersRadio.  The TALKERS editorial board announces the return of Robbie Stevens to the talent roster of TalkersRadio. Stevens, who was the first talent signed for TalkersRadio – a service of TALKERS magazine – when it launched in the fall of 2013, has agreed to perform as a commentator on the platform for a “limited engagement” that will run through June of 2021. The Bronx-based New York City native is well-known in the music industry for his years of innovative studio work with a wide variety of high-profile artists, most recently on behalf of the estate and fans of the late John Lennon, for which he has achieved critical acclaim for his “raw” remix of the legendary artist’s Imagine album. He also most recently executive produced 13 Billboard #1 Dance Chart singles in a row, for Yoko Ono’s innovative ensemble Ono. He also recently produced (with Yoko Ono) the “John Lennon Anthology,” a four-CD set of unreleased material that was Rolling Stone magazine’s boxed set of the year. During his colorful career, he’s played on, mixed, or produced records by Herbie Hancock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other high-profile musicians going back decades. During this time, Stevens has developed an alternative career as a talk radio host and commentator heard occasionally via on-air and online outlets provided by heritage NYC stations WOR and WNYM (in addition to TalkersRadio). On the return of Stevens to TalkersRadio, TALKERS general manager of broadcast operations (and former WOR PD) David Bernstein says, “Robbie brings a real East Coast urban perspective that is reflective of both the street and academia to the news/talk radio conversation. His ‘tell it like it is’ style is a provocative blend of gruff ‘everyman’ street talk and intelligent, eclectic inquiry into the mysteries of the universe, combining politics with pop culture, science and down-to-Earth sociology. You don’t hear his progressive position that often on today’s terrestrial news/talk radio and frankly, regardless of your politics, it is amazingly refreshing.” For example, Stevens has served as vice president of the board for a well-known youth basketball/education program that’s won national championships and helps kids from diverse backgrounds reach their academic goals. To listen to Robbie Steven’s new series of commentaries on TalkersRadio, please click here. TalkersRadio is an “experimental” talk radio platform launched in 2013 by TALKERS magazine to provide the industry with a “work out space” and “showcase for new talk programming concepts.” Since its launch it has been a temporary home to a number of spoken-word talents – both high-profile and obscure – who’ve used it to work and showcase concepts that have gone on to achieve terrestrial radio exposure and even national syndication. In addition to Stevens, current TalkersRadio hosts include Claire CarterMeg McDonald, and UK sensation, Graham Mack. At the time of his passing, Alan Colmes was working on a series concept called “Healed Planet” heard on TalkersRadio which offered a glimpse into the late FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel star’s metaphysical interests. Files of that fledgling show remain archived on TalkersRadio as a tribute to Colmes. For more information about TalkersRadio, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Radio Advertising Bureau Updates Board of Directors. With the new year comes an update to the board of directors for the Radio Advertising Bureau. Connoisseur Media CEO Jeffrey Warshaw is the vice chair and Townsquare Media COO Erik Hellum is the finance chair. The RAB also announces that Cumulus Media EVP corporate marketing and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes joins the executive committee. Neuhoff Media COO Mike Hulvey continues to serve as chair and Univision president and regional radio general manager Sabina Widmann is serving as secretary.

New York Public Media Names Nsikan Akpan Health and Science Editor. Joining New York Public Media’s WNYC Newsroom is Nsikan Akpan, who begins his role as health & science editor on January 11. Akpan was most recently serving with National Geographic as science editor, overseeing COVID-19 coverage in addition to other types of science, health and technology news. Prior to that, he served for more than four years at “PBS NewsHour.” He and his team won a 2020 Emmy for the PBS NewsHour series “Stopping a Killer Pandemic” and in 2019 received a George Foster Peabody Award for the PBS NewsHour series “The Plastic Problem.”

Georgia Runoff Elections/Trump GA Appearance, Trump’s Call to GA Sec. of State, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, UK Lockdown, China and Pandemic’s Origin, Iran Seizes South Korean Oil Tanker, and the NYSE’s Chinese Telecom Delisting About Face Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/4). The buildup to today’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats and Donald Trump’s appearance to stump for the Republicans; the controversy over Trump’s call to Georgia’s Secretary of State seeking to overturn his loss in that state; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the UK orders a lockdown to stem the tide of COVID cases; questions about China’s stifling the investigation into the origin of the coronavirus; Iran seizes a South Korean oil freighter in the Persian Gulf; and the New York Stock Exchange reverses course on plans to delist three Chinese telecom companies were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Friday, July 24, 2020

| July 24, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM in Washington, DC.  This new episode titled “BLM and MLB!” looks back at this past week of July 20-24, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS;  Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA; Lars Larson, talk show host KXL, Portland/Compass Media NetworksThom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD MediaSteve Trevelise, talk show host, New Jersey 101.5/WIP, Philadelphia; and Dr. Renee Kohanski, forensic psychiatrist/commentator, “MD Edge Psychcast.” This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Mike Francesa Announces Retirement from WFAN and RADIO.COM. New York City sports talk legend Mike Francesa announced on Thursday’s program that this afternoon’s program (Friday, July 24) would be his last regularly scheduled show on “The Fan.” He told his listeners, “Tomorrow night will be my last regularly scheduled broadcast on ‘The Fan.’ I have been discussing this with the company for a while. We agreed I would stay until sports came back. The reason – I have cut back dramatically. This has been a very strange year. It has made me think about different things and do different things.” Francesa has been at Entercom’s WFAN for 33 years. He left the station at the end of 2017 when his contract ran out and WFAN replaced him with Chris Carlin, Bart Scott, and Maggie Gray, but Francesa returned four months later and resumed his afternoon show, bumping the trio to middays. At the end of 2019, Francesa’s schedule was dramatically changed as he began hosting a half-hour program on WFAN and a full hour on the company’s digital platform RADIO.COM. Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts moved from middays into the afternoon drive slot. Senior vice president and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Mike has been the heart of WFAN for over 30 years, and though his day in and day out presence has come to an end, that bond happily will continue. The future of WFAN as the premiere sports platform in New York is bright, and that is in large part to the foundation that Mike has helped build.”

WHUB-AM, Cookeville, Tennessee Celebrates 80th Anniversary. Pictured above (from l-r) are Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton, WHUB program director and morning drive host Brent Fleshman, and Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter recognizing the 80th anniversary of the Zimmer Broadcasting station. It went on the air on July 20, 1940. Fleshman – a 2016 NAB Marconi winner for Small Market Personality of the Year – tells TALKERS magazine that the company recently built a brand-new studio specifically for the news/talk station to accommodate more guests.

iHeartMedia Adds Sports Talker to Eau Claire, Wisconsin Market. There’s a new sports talk outlet in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin market as iHeartMedia drops the classic hits simulcast on WBIZ-AM/W254CN and launches “98-7 The Fan” on the two signals The station cherry-picks sports talk shows heard in other Wisconsin and Minnesota markets for its programming. Morning drive “The Power Trip” and 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show “The Common Man” emanate from the company’s KFXN, Minneapolis “KFAN” and late morning “Nine to Noon with John Kuhn” and afternoon drive “Drew & KB” are based at WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “97.3 The Game.” iHeartMedia SVP of programming Dave DeVille says, “The Chippewa Valley is often a house divided when it comes to Wisconsin and Minnesota sports teams. We’ve curated a home base station for all sports fans to enjoy.” The station will air Chippewa Valley area high school sports and professional sports including Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Vikings and Milwaukee Bucks.

TALKERS News Notes. WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is celebrating its 40th anniversary on the air. Walt Palmer is director of broadcast operations, engineering, and programming for the Resort Broadcasting Co station. He tells TALKERS magazine, “‘Sunny 92.7’ music morphed to ‘The TALK of Delmarva,’ providing 20 hours of live programming, 10 of which are live and local. Resort Broadcasting has assured listeners it is committed to serving the local communities with news, talk, sports, and information.” The station features local hosts Mike Bradley in AM drive, Jake Smith in late mornings, and Duke Brooks in afternoon drive…..SmartTalk Radio Network and WCGO, Chicago talk radio personality Blanquita Cullum – host of “The Hard Question” – is the moderator of the Voices Against Trafficking international human rights forum that will stream via Facebook Live on July 29 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm ET. Cullum tells TALKERS magazine, “Human trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing, multibillion-dollar criminal industry exploiting men, women, and children across the globe. This program will feature leading national and international human rights activists sharing details on many aspects of the current state of human trafficking.” Guest speakers include: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, numerous U.S. members of congress, internet safety leaders, law enforcement experts, and survivors who are forging a new path for human rights…..Entercom’s St. Louis news/talk KMOX “News Radio 1120” renews to serve as an outlet for Kansas City Chiefs football play-by-play and will simulcast broadcasts from sister station WDAF-FM, Kansas City “106.5 The Wolf,” the team’s flagship station.

Birach Broadcasting Flips WCXI, Detroit to News/Talk. Detroit outlet WCXI-AM flips from oldies to conservative talk using a lineup of conservative talk shows from Premiere Networks and FOX News Radio. Branded “Freedom 1160 WCXI” by owner Birach Broadcasting Corporation, the station’s lineup consists of: “FOX News Rundown” from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, Glenn Beck from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, “FOX Across America with Jimmy Failla” from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, Guy Benson from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Buck Sexton from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Dan Bongino from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight, and “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory” in overnights.

Schools Opening Debate Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 20-24. The debate over how to safely open schools this fall was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the spike in COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases. Coming in at #3 was talk about health care, vaccine development, and the $1.95 billion deal for Pfizer to develop a vaccine, followed by the state of the U.S. economy and the GOP-crafted stimulus package 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 complete chart here.

Independent Broadcasters Association Organizes. The new Independent Broadcasters Association announces that it has filed articles of incorporation in the State of Minnesota and is “officially in business.” Founding organizer Ron Stone of Adams Radio Group says, “We filed the articles last Friday, on a day where we were 96% of our 3,000-station goal. 2,877 stations had signed up, represented by just under 600 owners / operators. We continue to have additional owners signing up every day.” He adds that the initial board of directors has been selected and includes: Deborah Barrera, R Communications; Kristin Cantrell, Seven Mountains Media and Cap City Communications; Darrell Calton, Iliad Media Group; Allen Dick, Dick Broadcasting; Mike Flood, Flood Communications; Kenneth Forte, R&F Communications; Charles Johnson, Northstar Broadcast; Kimberly Martinez, All Pro Broadcasting; Gregory Pretko, Southern Stone Communications; Kelly Radandt, Woodward Radio Group; Tony Renda, Renda Broadcasting; David Stephens, Stephens Media Group; Ron Stone, Adams Radio Group; Tony Richards, Kensington Digital; Cindy Taylor, Ohio Midland Newsgroup; Rebecca White, Salem Media (of Indiana); and Sandra Woodruff, Northwest Indy Radio. Stone adds, “Our first board meeting will be scheduled for next week, to decide mostly organizational matters and to approve our business plan. We will have a conference call with everyone that has signed up on www.radioiba.org schedule shortly after the board meeting to review the business plan and goals of the IBA.” New members are still being accepted.

TALKERS Magazine Publishes the 2020 Heavy Hundred. The editors of TALKERS magazine announce the publication of the 2020 edition of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America – what has become known over the years as the Heavy Hundred. This year’s Heavy Hundred is compiled by the editors of TALKERS magazine using such factors as: ratings, revenue, courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, recognition, service, talent, and uniqueness. We acknowledge that it is as much art as science and that the results are arguable. The editors would like to acknowledge that the publication of this year’s list was delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the radio industry. However, it’s also important to note that it is times like these that talk radio personalities have the opportunity to become an even more important part of their listeners’ lives by delivering the information they need and providing the opportunity to hear debate about and take part in discussions concerning the events affecting their lives. Those who do that well are usually rewarded with success. We are proud to publish the 2020 Heavy Hundred in which we salute those hosts our editors believe are serving their listeners and advertisers in way that puts them among the “most important.” See this year’s Heavy Hundred here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Bringmethenews.com reports that Northern Lights Broadcasting has let go of alternative KQGO “Go 96.3” morning show “Ben and Dana” – Ben Holsen and Dana Wessel – in a budget-related move. Wessel tweeted to listeners: “Got some news to share. I was let go by ‘Go963.’ Covid is having a big impact on a lot of businesses and radio is no different. I wanna say thanks and send love to all my colleagues, especially Ben for putting up with me every morning. I have been at ‘Go’ since the day it launched and poured my heart and soul into it.”…..Cox Media Group Orlando moves CHR WPYO afternoon host Danie B and evening personality Kevin Kon to the morning drive daypart as “Danie & Kevin Mornings on Power 95.3.” WPYO brand manager Will Calder says, “I have been watching their chemistry for years and they truly are the best of friends and have the kind of relationship with each other – and our listeners – that make those deep memorable, emotional connections. Moving them to mornings felt like such a natural fit as they will definitely take over Central Florida.”…..iHeartMedia appoints Christopher Squire vice president of sales for its Philadelphia station group, effective immediately. Squire was most recently general sales manager for Townsquare Media’s Trenton-Princeton stations. Senior vice president of sales Jeff Moore states, “I am thrilled to add Chris to our team. He is someone that I’ve gotten to know over the past few years and have been impressed by his leadership qualities, his ability to build meaningful relationships with client partners and his dedication to helping the people he works with succeed. His positive outlook and enthusiasm are contagious and I can’t wait to continue to build on our team’s success with his help.”…..Sales and management pro Johnette Cochran has been director of sales for Adams Radio Group’s five station Salisbury-Ocean City, Maryland operations consisting of five music brands since December of 2019. Now, she rises to vice president and general manager for the cluster. She says, “I’m delighted to grow into this position with Adams Radio Group. Becoming a general manager has always been my goal and I am blessed to have this opportunity on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware. I have been connecting to the community in a limited way during Covid, and now I’m free to truly get out and get to know the people in this great market.”

Monday, June 15, 2020

| June 15, 2020

Monday Memo: Profiting from the Pandemic. “Turning lemons into lemonade,” as consultant Holland Cooke puts it. In this week’s column he lists six retail opportunities his client stations are selling to right now. Read it here.

De-Fund Police Movement/Rayshard Brooks Killing, Seattle ‘Autonomous’ Zone, Trump Health, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Confederate & Colonial-Era Statues, U.S.-China Relations/Outbreak in Beijing, Presidential Race/Trump Tulsa Rally, Financial Markets/Jobless Claims, and MLB Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The concept of de-funding police departments as demanded by some protestors and the cop shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta; the controversy over the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle; the health of President Trump after his apparent unsteady gait at the West Point graduation on Saturday; the regions of the U.S. that are experiencing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases; the movement to remove public statues commemorating Confederate or Colonial-era figures; the tense U.S.-China relations and a new COVID-19 outbreak appears in Beijing; the November presidential race, concerns about voting practices, and Trump’s planned rally scheduled for Tulsa on Saturday; the activity in the world’s financial markets and the recent jobless claims figure for the U.S.; and negotiations between the players and the league as the MLB tries to salvage its season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Pending Business: Time to Practice. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that “every performance-driven activity you can think of requires some form of practice. Athletics, the performing arts, public speaking, teaching, bar mitzvahs, all require practice. Even your doctor, dentist, and lawyer required practice before they could open their… practice. So, what about the professional sales rep? Sellers, especially in today’s warp-speed changing environment must practice.” Read his column here.

Beasley Reports Flat Q1 2020 Net Revenue; Net Loss of $8.8 Million. Reporting on its first quarter 2020 financial numbers, Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. – parent of Beasley Media Group – announces its net revenue was flat at $57.7 million compared to the same period in 2019. However, after posting operating income of $6.8 million in Q1 of 2019, the company posted and operating loss of $7.1 million in Q1 of this year. Beasley reported a net income of $1.4 million in Q1 of 2019 and this year is reporting a loss of $8.8 million. Beasley’s flat net revenue figure “reflects strong political advertising revenue, an increase in digital advertising, and esports revenue and contributions from the August 2019 acquisition of WDMK-FM, partially offset by a year-over-year decrease in commercial advertising revenue and other revenue related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Despite these challenges, first quarter net revenue was $57.7 million, primarily reflecting strong performance across our station clusters in seven markets during the months of January and February driven by robust political ad spending and contributions from WDMK-FM, as well as significant growth in digital and esports revenue. However, our top-line growth was not able to fully offset the acute challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic during the three-month period, resulting in a year-over-year decline in first quarter SOI and Free Cash Flow. During the first quarter, we continued to advance our digital transformation and revenue diversification initiatives across the company. In this regard, Beasley generated digital revenue growth of approximately 49% on a year-over-year basis, with digital accounting for approximately 9% of total first quarter revenue, compared to 6% of total revenue in the prior year period. In addition, Beasley launched the first major esports event featuring the Houston Outlaws, which the company acquired in November 2019, securing several new sponsorships as the team began competing in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League matches in February. With our focus on quality content production and consumer engagement, we are growing audience share across our digital and esports platforms while delivering multi-platform turnkey marketing solutions to advertisers and brands. Overall, we are pleased with the momentum and trajectory of these digital and esports initiatives, which have been less impacted by COVID-19, and look forward to this growth trend continuing throughout the remainder of the year and beyond.”

Townsquare Media Q1 Down 1.4%; Pro Forma Net Revenue Up 0.5%. The company says it will file its first quarter 2020 report on or before June 25 but issues some preliminary figures and held an investor conference call this morning (6/15). Townsquare Media, Inc CEO Bill Wilson says, “While our first quarter started strong with high single-digit net revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth in January and February, beginning in March we experienced a significant negative business impact to our Advertising and Live Events segments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, offsetting the momentum we established in 2019 and early 2020. First quarter net revenue increased 0.5% on a pro forma basis resulting in our 9th consecutive quarter of pro forma net revenue growth. In addition, Q1 2020 marked the first time our digital revenue exceeded 40% of our total net revenue, up from 35% in 2019, powered by Townsquare Interactive and Townsquare Ignite. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced a significant decline in our Advertising revenue in March, but we were still able to generate positive first quarter year-over-year Advertising net revenue growth. Our Advertising net revenue declined further in April but has shown sequential improvement in both May and June to date. We also cancelled or postponed our live events scheduled in March, April, May and June, which negatively impacted our net revenue. Thankfully, our Live Events segment is a much smaller component of our company today after we had the foresight to sell our large, out-of-market live event assets, including North American Midway Entertainment and several multi-day music festivals over the past two years. We have taken a number of steps to reduce our cost base in an effort to help mitigate the decline in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In total, we have enacted approximately $1.7 million of monthly fixed cost savings and anticipate the reduction of variable costs related to the decline in revenue.  In addition, we have reduced our planned capital expenditures, and our board of directors has elected to cease paying our quarterly dividend moving forward.  All of these actions have strongly bolstered our liquidity position.”

Midwest Communications’ WNFL, Green Bay Airing Content from WRNW-FM, Milwaukee. In a content deal with iHeartMedia’s sports talk WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “97.3 The Game,” Midwest Communications’ WNFL, Green Bay is replacing its daytime programming with the daytime lineup of “The Game.” The new WNFL lineup is: Steve Czaban in morning drive, John Kuhn (from WNFL’s studios) with Brian Butch in late mornings, Ted Davis and Dario Melendez in early afternoons, and “Drew & K.B.” in afternoon drive. Gone from the WNFL airwaves is the statewide syndicated Bill Michaels show. FOX Sports Radio rounds out the evenings, overnights, and weekends. Midwest operations manager Jason Hillery says, “We’ve signed a deal with Milwaukee’s ‘The Game’ and have picked up 12 hours of their amazing Wisconsin-focused programming each weekday. We’re excited about this lineup, and we’re excited about the future of this radio station.”

TALKERS News Notes. The Springfield News-Leader reports that Zimmer Radio has inked a letter of intent to buy the five-station cluster currently owner by Meyer Communications that includes news/talk KWTO-AM, sports talk KWTO-FM “JOCK 98.7,” and two music brands. Zimmer Radio co-owner Don Zimmer tells the paper they are in the early stages of due diligence. “There’s nothing set. We’ll see how things go with regards to the due diligence, and with five stations, it’ll probably take a while.”…..In recognition of the 48th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, ESPN is launching “espnW Presents: When We Play,” a three-day, women’s sport-centric, multi-platform initiative that will be anchored by more than 125 total hours of female-focused programming across ESPN2, ESPNU, ACC Network, SEC Network and Longhorn Network. Additional content will be available on ESPN.com, ESPN Audio and the espnW social handles. “espnW Presents: When We Play” will run from Sunday, June 21 through Tuesday, June 23…..HRN Media Network, a Gen Media Partners company, is expanding its platform and the result is one of the largest Hispanic audio networks in the U.S. All of Gen Media Partners’ Hispanic assets – including Sun Latino and GLR – will now operate exclusively under the HRN umbrella, creating an easy one-source solution for advertisers, agencies, and radio stations for all things Hispanic…..Public media organization WGBH names Pam Johnston general manager for news. Johnston is currently senior director of strategy and audience for “FRONTLINE,” the investigative documentary series produced by WGBH. She will succeed Phil Redo who is retiring at the end of this month. WGBH president and CEO Jon Abbott says, “Pam has deep roots in Boston news, and with her public media and multiplatform experience she is ideally suited to lead the WGBH news team into the digital future. Her expertise across all forms of media will build on the quality and award-winning local journalism WGBH has become known for under the leadership of Phil Redo. We’re grateful for the strong foundation he established and we’re excited about the innovation Pam will bring to how we serve our community.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Norfolk, Virginia hot AC WMVN “MOViN’ 107.7” launches the new “Valentine in the Morning Show” starring Valentine and co-hosts Jillian Escoto and Kevin Manno. Station PD DJ Fountz says, “We’re thrilled to introduce ‘Valentine in the Morning’ to the people of Hampton Roads. The show is polished, the crew has great chemistry, and we know that they’ll be the perfect way to get our listeners movin’ in the mornings.”…..iHeartMedia names DJ Loui Vee program director for hip hop WBZY, Atlanta “105.3 The Beat.” iHeartMedia Atlanta SVP of programming Meg Stevens says, “Very excited to have DJ Loui Vee in Atlanta. He is an exceptional talent who will continue to build the brand of ‘105.3 The Beat Atlanta.’ His creativity and passion along with his incredible leadership skills make him the perfect talent to program ‘105.3 The Beat.’”…..Morning personality Guy David exits Bonneville’s country KYGO, Denver. Co-host Tracy Dixon continues to host mornings along with producer Patrick Knight for now…..On-air pro Scott Fisher announces his retirement from iHeartMedia’s classic hits KODJ, Salt Lake City where he hosted middays. Fisher thanked his listeners in a message on the station’s website. He also notes that his weekend talk show, “Extreme Genes – America’s Family History Show,” will continue to air on the company’s sister news/talk station KNRS-FM.