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Thursday, March 11, 2021

| March 11, 2021

Andrew McLuhan, President of The McLuhan Institute and Grandson of Marshall McLuhan, Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. “Media freaks” will love this – Andrew McLuhan, the grandson of the late Marshall McLuhan, the legendary communications theorist and philosopher, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Andrew McLuhan is the president of the Toronto, Canada-based educational/historical organization, The McLuhan Institute, which he founded in 2018 to gather, preserve and archive the works and legacy of his famous grandfather, whose books and lectures about the impact of media and technology on human culture encompassing his groundbreaking “the medium is the message” meme profoundly influenced a generation of communication students and media practitioners. Harrison and McLuhan discuss a wide array of topics including details about the life of the iconic guru and implications of his complex and often controversial theories. Don’t miss this! 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.

Grace Curley Show Adds Three Affiliate Stations. The Howie Carr Radio Network announces that it has signed three new affiliates for the “Grace Curley Show.” The 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm talk show joins Saga Communications to air on news/talk WGAN-AM, Portland, Maine and WKBK-AM Keene, New Hampshire leading into the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm “Howie Carr Show.” The “Grace Curley Show” will joins Saga’s WFEA-AM, Manchester, New Hampshire in early April.  Portland Radio Group president Phil Zachary says, “Grace Curley is no wannabe. Her approach to talk radio is fresh, female, and fearless. And because Grace learned at the right hand of Howie Carr, we know she’s more than ready to command her own daypart.”  Howie Carr adds, “Grace’s show is exceeding expectations which is why she has picked up so many new affiliates quickly.” For affiliate information, contact Kathy Carr at Kathycarr@Howiecarrshow.com.

Danielle Murr to Leave WEEI, Boston’s Greg Hill Morning Show. Morning drive personality Danielle Murr tells listeners to WEEI, Boston’s “The Greg Hill Show” that she will leave the program after tomorrow’s edition. The Boston Globe reports that Murr told listeners, “It was a very, very, very difficult decision for me. One that I have been wrestling with for months. But I’m at a time in my life where I need to take a chance on myself.” Murr has been with the program since 2005 when it aired on rock WAAF. The show moved to sports talk WEEI in July of 2019 after Entercom sold WAAF to religious broadcaster Educational Media Foundation. Entercom regional president Mark Hannon comments, “I think it’s been a special connection having Danielle as a full-time female voice on the radio station. So that’s certainly not going unnoticed for us. And that will be a critical piece of how we think about going forward with the show. It was even alluded to today on the air. So, as we begin to open the search, you should expect that we’ll be talking to as many potential candidates as possible, men and women. But I think we’re very cognizant of that [situation].” Murr says she wants to pursue other business opportunities, including podcasting.

WHBY-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin to Shift Hayley Tenpas to Middays. With the May 28 retirement of longtime midday personality Kathy Keene looming, news/talk WHBY-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin announces it is moving Hayley Tenpas to the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm time slot, effective June 1. Tenpas has hosted the 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm “Focus Fox Valley” show since June of 2018. Tenpas says, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to begin this next chapter of my broadcast career. A five-year-old Hayley once called into the ‘Good Neighbor Show.’  I grew up listening to WHBY and now am so proud to be part of this team. I am honored to fill this part of the day with conversations highlighting the best of the Fox Valley. I can’t thank Kathy enough for her time and dedication to radio. It’s hard to imagine WHBY without Kathy’s voice, but I hope that ‘Focus Fox Valley’ can provide opportunities for all of us to be good neighbors to one another.” Tenpas came to WHBY from an on-air career in television news. In 2019 she was awarded the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Best Online Personality honor.

WTIC Local Weekend Computer Show Reaches Quarter Century Anniversary. When executed properly, discussion about computers, digital technology and consumer electronics does very well within the context of news/talk radio. An example of this is on display at heritage news/talk station, WTIC-AM, Hartford where “Computer Talk with TAB” has been on the air live each week since the mid-1990s providing an in-depth practical view of computers and their place in listeners’ everyday lives. Airing Saturday mornings between 9:00 am and 11:00 am, it is described as “a computer radio program for everyone!” Erik Semmel, VP of local firm, TAB Computer Systems hosts the show and provides real time answers to callers’ questions. To keep the topics fresh and informative, guests are brought in as a result of listener’s questions and suggestions. The extremely highly rated show (with a successful podcast spinoff) is geared towards the everyday computer user with questions about how their computer works and how to fix it when there is a problem. Semmel tells TALKERS, “We have been advising Connecticut’s computer users since Windows 95 through the big scare of Y2K to the scourge of today’s ransomware attacks. From PCs to laptops to smartphone to cutting the chord, ‘Computer Talk with TAB’ has been there to answer everyday peoples’ computer issues in an understandable way.”

Entercom to Offer $500 Million in Senior Secured Notes. In a move announced today (3/11), Entercom Communications Corp announces its wholly owned subsidiary Entercom Media Corp plans to offer, subject to market conditions and other factors, $500 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured second-lien notes due 2029. The Issuer expects to use the net proceeds from the offering to redeem all of its 7.250% senior notes due 2024 and to partially repay existing indebtedness under their senior credit facilities. The Notes will be fully and unconditionally guaranteed on a senior secured second-lien basis by each direct and indirect subsidiary of the Issuer that guarantees the Issuer’s senior secured credit facility. The Notes and the related guarantees will be secured on a second-priority basis by liens on substantially all of the assets of the Issuer and the guarantors. They will be offered and sold only to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers.

Kirby Joins Broadcasters Foundation of America as General Counsel. The Broadcasters Foundation of America announces that Kathleen A. Kirby has been voted secretary and general counsel to the organization. Kirby, who is a Partner with Wiley Rein LLP Washington, DC and co-chair of the firm’s Telecom, Media & Technology group, takes over secretary and general counsel duties from Richard Bodorff, who will remain on the board of directors. Kirby’s practice involves advising some of the country’s largest media groups on regulatory and policy matters, representing radio and television stations in connection with the full realm of FCC compliance, and counseling clients on the sale and acquisition of broadcast properties. She says, “It’s an honor to follow Dick in the roles of secretary and general counsel for the Broadcasters Foundation. I’ve been a supporter of the Broadcasters Foundation, and I look forward to giving back even more by donating my time and energy to continuing the crucial mission of providing aid to those in our industry who need it most.” Kirby has long served as counsel to the Radio Television Digital News Association, advising electronic journalists on a variety of legal and legislative matters, including freedom of information, privacy, libel, content regulation, copyright, and other First Amendment issues. She is an inductee of the National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame and recipient of RTDNA’s prestigious First Amendment Leadership Award. Kirby is regularly rated by Chambers USA as one of Washington, DC’s “Leading Lawyers” in her field and has been recognized by Law 360 as a Legal MVP. Before attending law school, Kirby worked for almost a decade as a radio broadcaster in her native New York and in Connecticut, where she gained extensive experience first as a reporter and news anchor, then in management positions in operations, sales, and marketing.

TALKERS News Notes. The Virtual News Center announces that its services are now being used by Legend Communications of Wyoming, LLC’s “The Basin Radio Network” that consists of the five Gillette, Wyoming signals KIML-AM, KAML-FM, KLED-FM, KDDV-FM and KGWY-FM. Virtual News Center will provide newscasts for the network anchored daily by Roxanne Stuart…..vCreative co-founder and CEO Jinny Laderer is transitioning to the president emerita role on April 1 and Susie Hedrick will rise from president/COO to the CEO position. John Laderer, co-founder and chief technical officer will continue to serve the company in a consulting role. Hedrick has more than 25 years of experience in media technology and prior to joining vCreative, held executive roles at Marketron and WideOrbit…..WABC, New York says the weekend program “Ladies, It’s Not Our Fault, It’s Our Hormones and High Heels!” – starring fashionista Julie Sagoskin, nutritionist Jacqui Justice, and fitness guru Lisa Avellino – changes its name to “Ladies, What the F?” The program airs Sundays from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..ESPN Podcasts debuts the “Daily Wager Podcast” on Monday, March 15, and the first of four “Daily Wager Tournament Preview” radio specials will air on ESPN Radio on Saturday, March 20. The four “Daily Wager Tournament Preview” radio specials are planned for the time of the NCAA Tournament and will air on ESPN Radio at 9:00 am ET. In addition to the debut special on March 20, editions will air on March 21, March 27 and April 3…..Entercom Pittsburgh hosts the second “Giant Eagle Feed the Need Radiothon” to benefit Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Last year’s radiothon provided more than 1.5 million meals to the region and this year’s event will be broadcast live on news/talk KDKA-AM, sports talk KDKA-FM, as well as its two sister music stations.

COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Biden TV Address/Stimulus Package, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, U.S. Border Chaos, Newsom Recall, Iran Nuclear Talks, and Chinese Military Buildup Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/10). The number of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; the several states relaxing mask and occupancy mandates and the push for full school openings; Joe Biden’s planned Thursday national TV address and his $1.9 trillion stimulus package; the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; the growing migrant chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border; the recall effort against California Governor Gavin Newsom; and the rapid military buildup in China were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, March 8, 2021

| March 8, 2021

Monday Memo: Staples’ Savvy. Whether you’re a broadcaster or podcaster – “and ESPECIALLY if you write promo or commercial copy or if you sell” – consultant Holland Cooke urges humility about the listener’s attention. In this week’s column, he shares success tactics from the office supply superstore. Read it here.

Pending Business: Habits. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa is a fan of those books and articles that detail the habits of successful people and in today’s column he boils them down to three that have been used by successful radio sellers but are not always practiced these days. Read more here.

Will Marotti Announces Exit from WTIC-AM, Hartford. On today’s radio program, Pastor Will Marotti told his listeners of Entercom’s news/talk WTIC-AM, Hartford that he’s leaving his radio program after this Friday’s show in order to focus on his role with the New Life Church in Meriden, Connecticut. Marotti hosts the late morning show (9:00 am to 12:00 noon) but he’s held numerous positions with WTIC over the years. He partnered with former Connecticut Governor John Rowland from 2010 to 2012 in the afternoon drive daypart. He took over that program hosting it solo after Rowland resigned from the station after being brought up on charges of campaign fraud and corruption. Marotti continued to serve as a fill-in personality but returned to WTIC to host late mornings full time after Jim Vicevich retired from his show in December of 2019 to focus on his battle with Lupus.

Debating Dr. Seuss.  The brand-new weekly podcast dedicated to tackling the education crisis in America – produced and hosted by WPHT, Philadelphia midday host Dom Giordano – is off to a flying start. In this week’s “Readin’ Writin’ and Reason” podcast, Giordano sits down with American University professor Omekongo Dibinga, one of America’s leading critics of Dr. Seuss. They debate Seuss, cancel culture, and critical race theory. Giordano also speculates on people who might still read Dr. Seuss to kids in public settings. This podcast series is particularly timely and potent drawing upon Giordano’s well-established reputation as one of the leading experts on education in talk radio. It can be heard at 1210WPHT.com and Radio.com.

January PPM Spoken-Word Summary. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his final analysis of Nielsen Audio’s January 2021 PPM survey with today’s report highlighting the news/talk, news, sports talk, and public radio news/talk stations that finished in the top five (weekly, 6+ AQH share) as well as the five stations in each of those four formats that  posted the highest AQH share. See his report here.

Bloomberg Radio Marks Pandemic Anniversary with Month-Long Daily Series. Radio news service Bloomberg Radio is launching a special daily series titled, “A Year Like No Other,” that examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed life and business in America. Syndicator Key Networks says the series “will draw upon Bloomberg’s vast resources to provide radio listeners with daily glimpses of what has changed over the past year, how it has changed, and whether it will ever again be the same.” The series debuts on Monday, March 15 and will take a look at a different industry or way of life that underwent a monumental change in the past year due to COVID-19. Al Mayers, global head of Bloomberg Television and Radio says, “The series will showcase the range of Bloomberg’s business journalism and our wide reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. We look forward to bringing this new content marking the past year to our audience.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green adds, “Bloomberg’s news team has once again produced content for our affiliates that provides an in-depth look at a story that impacts listeners across the country. This is the type of service and information that Bloomberg affiliates receive 24/7, 365 that is second to none.”

Hubbard Radio’s WTOP Launches PodcastDC. Washington, DC all-news WTOP and sister WFED-AM owner and operator Hubbard Radio announce the debut of PodcastDC – a new podcast app built specifically for the Washington DC region. Hubbard says the new mobile app, which soft launched in January, showcases podcasts that feature voices, topics and stories that are rooted in the nation’s capital. Hubbard Radio VP of digital strategy Jeremy Sinon says, “In a world with 800,000 podcasts available, it’s easy to understand how local can get lost. If your main source of discovery for podcasts is one of the big podcast apps, you would have a hard time knowing that local content even exists. We’re trying to solve that problem by giving Washingtonians an app that is dedicated to serving them audio that caters to their local interests.” Hubbard says the new app is also aimed at making locally produced audio more discoverable and more profitable for its creators. Users will find hundreds of podcasts from independent local content creators like PodcastDC’s own marketing strategist Elly Rowe, who also produces and hosts the podcast “Women-Owned Wednesday By Elly Jane,” which highlights local female entrepreneurs, artists, creators and more. “The sheer number of podcasts and audio content available makes it hard to stand out on a more local level,” Rowe says. “PodcastDC creates an excellent opportunity to help highlight independent D.C. podcasters with content that is not only relevant to local listeners but also deserves more national attention.”

WHBY-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin Talk Host Kathy Keene to Retire. Longtime WHBY-AM, Appleton, Wisconsin talk host Kathy Keene announces she’ll retire from the station and her role as host of the “Good Neighbor Show” on May 28. Keene joined the Woodward Communications station in January of 1981 and on September 6 of that year became the host of the “Good Neighbor Show.” Woodward Communications says that during her time with the station, she was awarded the Social and Digital Media “Best Personality” award at the 2016 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association awards. She was recently honored in 2018 with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Local Legend Award. Keene comments, “Time has come for me to leave my career in radio. It’s been 40 years and it’s been a great 40 years, let me tell you. I have met so many wonderful people along the way. I have spoken with thousands of people: authors, teachers, historians, community leaders, artists and entertainers, experts in every imaginable field. And you, the ‘Good Neighbor’ listeners have always been a large part of the essence of the show. And I will miss you.”

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Stimulus Bill, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Relaxed Mandates & School Openings, Andrew Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations, Voting Rights Issues, Chauvin Trial, and Harry & Meghan Interview Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The Joe Biden COVID stimulus bill passes the Senate and returns to the House for a final vote on Tuesday; the plateauing COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; worries about relaxed mask and gathering mandates and the opening of schools; the growing number of sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his refusal to resign; Joe Biden’s voting rights bill passes the House and Georgia’s bill to alter voting times and requirements; the looming trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; and Sunday’s Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

| January 19, 2021

Brian Shactman Joins WTIC-AM, Hartford for Mornings. Television news personality Brian Shactman is named the new morning drive co-host at Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford, joining Ray Dunaway for the “Mornings with Ray and Brian” program. Shactman assumes the role beside Dunaway left open after former morning co-host Joe D’Ambrosio and Entercom agreed to negotiate an early exit from his contract. Prior to joining WTIC, Shactman had been serving as an anchor for WBTS-TV, Boston NBC10 and New England Cable News. He most recently created and hosted “Primary Source,” a nightly political show focusing on the presidential primary and has also anchored weekend evenings on NBC10 Boston since the onset of the pandemic. Entercom Connecticut SVP and market manager Stephanie Perl says, “I’m excited to welcome Brian back to Connecticut to join our morning show program alongside Ray Dunaway. He has a proven track record of entertaining and capturing his audience, and his energy will be a great addition to our show.” Shactman comments, “I have been listening to Ray for years, and WTIC is always my first stop when I get in the car. To now be a part of the WTIC team is an absolute thrill. Connecticut – the whole state – is a community. WTIC is a huge part of that community, and I am excited to help people start their day in this great state.”

Townsquare Media Creates Texas Network Featuring Chad Hasty Show. Following the departure of the Robert Pratt-hosted “Pratt on Texas” program from Townsquare Media’s talk stations KFYO, Lubbock “Newstalk 790”; KYYW, Abilene; and KWFS-AM, Wichita Falls, the company is adding a two-hour version of “The Chad Hasty Show” (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) to those stations’ program schedules. This move also marks the creation of the Texas Townsquare Media Network that will function on those three stations, with more affiliates expected to be announced later this year. Hasty is the first host to operate under this banner, with more programs anticipated to join it. Hasty has been hosting his eponymous 8:30 am to 11:00 am program on KFYO since the fall of 2012 and he’ll continue that Lubbock-focused program in addition to the new afternoon drive show.

Former Sports Talker Marty Tirrell to Be Sentenced Wednesday. The Des Moines Register reports that former Des Moines sports talk host Marty Tirrell will be sentenced in federal court tomorrow (1/20) after pleading guilty in December of 2019 to one count of mail fraud. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year sentence combined with an order to pay $1.46 million in restitution to American Express, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West and five individuals. Prosecutors say Tirrell defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million in a sporting events tickets resale venture. However, Tirrell didn’t acquire tickets and instead used the cash to “finance a lavish lifestyle and to spend on online gambling.” Prosecutors are seeking the five-year sentence because “the defendant has been defrauding businesses and individuals with his lies for years, with little to no consequences. Defendant continued to lie after he was under investigation in this matter, and the government is concerned he won’t ever stop lying.”

Salem Media Group’s Regnery to Publish Josh Hawley’s Book. After Simon & Schuster decided to cancel its publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, in the aftermath of the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Hawley has found a new publisher in Salem Media Group’s Regnery Publishing. Simon & Schuster said in a statement, “We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.” The Salem press release says, “Despite Senator Hawley’s immediate and forceful condemnation of the violent incursion, social media teemed with calls for retribution for his objection to the certification of the electoral vote. The next day, citing his purported ‘role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,’ Simon & Schuster announced that it was dropping Hawley’s book, scheduled for publication in June. Responding to the impulsive decision, Hawley stated on Twitter, ‘Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition.’” The press release goes on to state: “Senator Hawley is an authority on the legal and constitutional implications of Big Tech’s growing power. While the attorney general of Missouri, he investigated how the most powerful company in the world – Google – uses citizens’ private information. In The Tyranny of Big Tech, he shows how Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and other digital giants have abused their enormous market power and political influence, silencing their competition. Explaining why current policies fail us, he identifies alternatives that will break Big Tech’s control over our liberties.”

High-Profile Guests to Take Part in 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. On Thursday (1/21), the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will take place in a virtual format and is being recorded from multiple locations. Just-announced special guests will include: Aaron Mahnke, Hillary Clinton, Holly Frey, Laverne Cox, Questlove, Roy Wood Jr., Will Ferrell, and more. The awards span 30 categories and you can see all of the finalists here. The event will exclusively video stream on iHeartRadio’s YouTube and Facebook pages on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET and will broadcast across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio App at 9:00 pm local time.

Anny Mansfield Named Corporate Research Director for Gen Media Partners. The company says that in order to meet the growing demands of its expanding portfolio of radio rep firms and networks, Anny Mansfield has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate research director. Mansfield has been with Gen Media Partners since its inception and in this new role will build out a company-wide research department and work closely with the company’s sales departments to serve the needs of network and national advertisers. Gen Media Partners CEO Kevin Garrity says, “I am very pleased that we already had the right person on our team to lead research across Gen Media Partners. Anny is exceptional at finding the data to develop marketing strategies that help our account executives deliver compelling stories and solutions about the power of radio to advertisers and their agencies, especially for new business development.”

U.S. Agency for Global Media Names Board of Directors; Blanquita Cullum Appointed Chair. New boards of directors have been appointed for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks by CEO Michael Pack. The USAGM says the diverse boards “bring exceptional skill in the fields of journalism, language, technology, broadcasting, and diplomacy that are essential to the work of the three surrogate broadcast networks, which provide a lifeline of factual news for those living in places where a free press is denied to them by repressive government.” Blanquita Cullum — host, producer, and writer for “The Hard Question” — is named chairwoman of the three boards. She comments, “From my previous service on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I understand the importance of delivering objective, accurate news about America and the world to combat our adversaries’ misinformation campaigns and to shine the light of truth into those dark corners where access to a free press is denied. The other board members and I will fight to ensure these networks and their journalists have the tools and support they need to perform their difficult but essential work, which itself is crucial for our national interest.” Serving on the board with Cullum as directors are: Jonathan Alexander, Amanda Milius, Roger Simon, and Christian Whiton.

TALKERS News Notes. This Thursday (1/21) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is presenting the latest in a series of Town Hall broadcasts to help New Jersey deal with the mental stresses of the pandemic. The station’s Eric Scott leads the news and digital departments in bringing mental health experts together to talk about these stressors and help residents access help. He says, “The toll this pandemic has taken on our overall mental wellness has been huge. This program seeks to de-stigmatize seeking help and connect our listeners to the many resources available.”…..Beasley Broadcast Group announces that subsidiary, Beasley Mezzanine Holdings, LLC intends to offer $280 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers…..In Abilene, Texas, Cumulus Media drops the sports talk format on KTLT-FM and flips to rock as “98.1 The Phantom.”…..iHeartMedia New York’s iHeartRadio Broadway and D’Marie Productions announce that the LGBTQ+ comedy podcast “Slumber Party with Tim Murray” is joining the iHeartPodcast Network, beginning January 20…..The GCN-syndicated “Dr. Daliah Wachs Show” adds new affiliates: WWPR-AM, Bradenton/Tampa; KNET, Palestine, Texas; WNRI ,Woonsocket, Rhode Island; WTBG-FM, Brownsville, Tennessee; and WVEL, Peoria, Illinois.

Trump’s Final Day/Pardons Commutations, Inauguration Prep, Capitol Attack Investigation and Arrests, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, China and WHO Failures, Social Media and Free Speech, New Migrant Caravan, and Australian Open Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). Today’s final day in office for President Donald Trump and the pardons and commutations expected to be issued; the preparation and security for Wednesday’s inauguration for Joe Biden; the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack and related arrests; the fast-rising number of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response report indicating China and the WHO failed to act quickly at the beginning of the pandemic; the move by social media platforms to suspend purveyors of extremist content; the caravan of Hondurans heading for the U.S.; and positive COVID tests hamper the Australian Open were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Monday, January 4, 2021

| January 4, 2021

Monday Memo: Who Will Replace Rush? Consultant Holland Cooke says the short answer is, of course, nobody. However, he points out that affiliate stations may soon have to find a solution for those 15 hours per week that they didn’t have to worry about before. He also asks, “Who will replace Clark Howard?” Find out what he has to say here.

Pending Business: This Year in Review. Sales and marketing pro, and Lapcom Communications Corp president, Steve Lapa says that just many aspects of our daily lives changed after 9/11, so too has the pandemic changed much about our lives – including how we work and consume media. In today’s column, he offers some thoughts about how selling radio will be different this year. Read it here.

WTIC, Hartford’s Joe D’Ambrosio Exits Morning Show. After stating back in early November that he was disillusioned with management’s directives about political opinion on the air, WTIC-AM, Hartford, morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio said he would leave the station when his contract was up in June of 2021 after 28 years with the Entercom station. However, he and management reached an agreement on an early buyout and D’Ambrosio’s last shift was December 31. D’Ambrosio co-hosted the morning drive show with Ray Dunaway. The Hartford Courant reports D’Ambrosio saying he never adapted to waking up for the program’s 5:30 am start and he found it difficult to work within station’s conservative political framework.

Chris Ryan Takes Over ‘New Hampshire Today’ Morning Show. New Hampshire radio pro Chris Ryan is named the new host of the “New Hampshire Today” program heard on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WGIR-AM, Manchester and WQSO-FM, Portsmouth. Ryan fills the role previously held by Jack Heath, who exited “NH Today” to join Binnie Media’s three-station simulcast in New Hampshire for the late morning daypart back in October. iHeartMedia says that Ryan is an award-winning talk show host and political commentator based in Concord who most recently served as general manager for New Hampshire Family Radio’s news/talk WKXL, Concord. iHeartMedia New Hampshire market president Joe Graham says, “It was of utmost importance that the new host of ‘NH Today’ would be a person of integrity and character, someone who would hold themselves to the highest professional standards. We are thrilled that Chris will be joining our iHeart NH team!” The “New Hampshire Today” program is also heard on WKXL.

Leila Rahimi Named Co-Host for WSCR, Chicago’s Late Morning Show. Radio and television sports personality Leila Rahimi is promoted to regular co-host of the late morning program alongside Dan Bernstein on Entercom’s WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score.” Entercom Chicago regional president and market manager Rachel Williamson says, “We are thrilled to be amplifying Lelia’s role at ‘The Score.’ She’s a seasoned professional with experience engaging with sports fans across multiple platforms and cities and has built a great reputation with Chicago’s sports fans. Adding her voice and perspective consistently creates a more dynamic midday lineup for ‘Score’ listeners.” She assumes the role left vacant when Entercom let co-host Connor McKnight go back in April. Rahimi has appeared on “670 The Score” both as a contributor to various shows on the station, and as a co-host since 2017. She’s also hosted, reported and anchored for NBC Sports Chicago. She was a rink-side reporter for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Women’s Hockey Tournament at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. She’s also served with NBC Sports Philadelphia, CSN Houston, the San Diego Padres, FOX Sports Southwest, and KLIF-AM and KTCK-FM/AM in Dallas.

Ian Beckles & Jay Recher New Afternoon Hosts on Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa. Sports talk WDAE, Tampa announces that Ian Beckles and Jay Recher are the new afternoon drive program co-hosts, taking over the daypart from retiring Tampa Bay radio icon Ron Diaz. WDAE program director John Mamola says, “We are thrilled to announce our new afternoon drive program featuring Ian Beckles and Jay Recher. Teaming Ian’s long-standing history in the market both as a player, entrepreneur, and radio personality with the knowledge and passion for Tampa Bay sports from Jay Recher will provide a dynamic program for sports fans in Tampa Bay to embrace. This announcement further enhances and strengthens WDAE’s standing as the voice for Tampa Bay sports fans.” Beckles was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles during his eight-year NFL career and he joined WDAE in 2002. Recher began his career at WDAE in 2014 and has served as executive producer of multiple programs including the previous “Ron and Ian Show.”

David Rubini Launches Conspiracy Radio Network. Former Art Bell and John B. Wells producer David Rubini is launching the Conspiracy Radio Network. Rubini officially leaves Dark Matter Digital Network and “Midnight In The Desert” to begin “his own unique vision” and take his “pioneering spirit to the all-new 24/7 digital streaming platform and subscription archive service in the new radio landscape of 2021.” Rubini is now hosting his own program titled “David Rubini After Midnight AM” that will broadcast “two to three live shows each week on alternating days from 1:00 am to 5:00 am ET with “The Best of David Rubini After Midnight AM” on all Rubini off days. He says, “Unlike what we did with Art, we will get political at CRN, that’s for sure. The political climate has drastically changed since we left ‘Dark Matter.’ And with the 2020 election confusion and rise of ‘fake news’ awareness and questioning, uncensored alternative news, info, and talk are more in-demand right now than any time in modern history. Our staff of professionals are convinced CRN will absolutely fill this void in the digital content delivery space.” Terrestrial radio affiliate relations expert Ted Edwards says, “What programmers have to realize is that variety in political talk is hot right now and the political landscape has never been more fascinating to discuss and to share opinions about both like-minded and dissenting talk radio voices. CRN should have remarkable growth over the next four to eight years. I love David Rubini’s pioneering vision and I plan to help see it all the way through to fruition, responsibly performed by Rubini on-air in terrestrial syndication.” Joining this new venture are: Jordan Maxwell, Dr. Richard Alan Miller, Flat Earther Math Powerland, and controversial and polarizing YouTube sensation, Russianvids, as well as former Art Bell Network News anchor Leo Ashcraft, Ross Mitchell, Dr. John Illias, Michael Decon, Blake Walley, and Joshua Chaires

TALKERS News Notes. At Starnes Media Group’s KWAM, Memphis, Brodee Scott joins to serve as operations director. Scott previously served at iHeartMedia in Memphis. He is a longtime Memphis radio pro having also served at Flinn Broadcasting and Rebel Radio in Oxford, Mississippi. In this new role, Scott will also oversee KWAM’s growing podcast and digital platforms. KWAM general manager Dalton Glasscock says, “Brodee was born and raised in Memphis and he understands how important it is to have a locally owned, locally run news/talk radio station.”…..Indianapolis talk radio personality Tony Katz shifts his syndicated “Tony Katz Today” program from the late morning daypart to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Katz is host of the morning drive show at Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. He says, “The numbers in Indianapolis have been incredible. The show has been doing great in its current setup, it was just in a weird place, bridging two standard time slots being 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. This move shows a lot of faith in the show from WIBC and opens up a lot of opportunity.”…..WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte afternoon drive talk host Brett Winterble achieved what he calls a career milestone on December 30 when he filled in for Rush Limbaugh. About sitting in for Limbaugh on his Premiere Networks syndicated show, Winterble says, “I am just overjoyed at the chance to connect with the greatest audience in all of talk radio. It is a homecoming. I have kept in close touch with everyone at the Rush Limbaugh show over these years and nothing could be more special than to sit in that legendary seat for a man I consider a friend and mentor.” Winterble started his career with Limbaugh’s original syndicator EIB/EFM Media in 1995 and was with the show until early 2006…..Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago is adds an hour to Big John Howell’s afternoon drive show. The program now airs from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Howell takes the 4:00 pm hour from Westwood One’s syndicated Ben Shapiro program that continues to air from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston announces the new program schedule that takes effect with the new year that includes the addition of Grace Curley and Jesse Kelly. Curley’s program airs from 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm and Key Networks’ syndicated Jesse Kelly airs from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am (Kelly’s show will move to the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm daypart effective February 15. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk, and sports Rob Sanchez says, “We’re excited about the addition of Grace and Jesse to WRKO’s lineup. Their talents complement the established success of Jeff Kuhner in the morning and the legendary Howie Carr in afternoons.”…..Cumulus Media promotes Jon Laing to vice president and market manager for its Cincinnati cluster. Laing rises from his previous role as vice president of sales for the station group. He takes the market leadership reins from Dave Crowl, who retired in December…..Salem Radio Network and TOWNHALL news White House correspondent Greg Clugston is traveling aboard Air Force One with President Trump today (1/4) to cover a campaign rally for the Republican U.S. Senate candidates ahead of tomorrow’s runoff elections. In addition to filing special reports for SRN News and TOWNHALL News, Clugston will also serve as White House pool reporter for all other national radio networks…..VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, expands its partnership with iHeartMedia by moving its dedicated streaming radio station to digital platform iHeartRadio. VSiN had previously broadcast its content via SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Skyview Networks OM Andy Luberda Passes After COVID Battle. Condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Skyview Networks operations manager Andy Luberda, who died on December 29 of complications from COVID-19. Luberda joined Skyview Networks in the broadcast operations department as a board operator in 2012. In 2015, Luberda was promoted to operations manager in which he focused on managing one of the company’s largest clients, TuneIn. In 2016, Luberda’s son, Kade, joined Skyview’s operations team as a board operator. Aaron Mellis, Luberda’s longtime friend and manager shares, “We were fortunate to have Andy on the team, and as his role grew, it made a positive impact on our company and our clients. Andy’s warm heart and genuine care for his colleagues will continue to be a part of the Skyview Networks culture.” Skyview has set up a GoFundMe page for his family to help raise funds for medical and memorial costs and to provide financial support for Kade during this difficult time.

GOP Senators to Challenge Election Results/Trump Georgia Phone Call, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pelosi Keeps Speaker Post, and Texas Church Shooting Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The move by a group of GOP senators to challenge the election results and the recording of President Trumpasking the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” votes in his favor; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; the Georgia runoff election for its two U.S. Senate seats; Nancy Pelosi retains her House Speaker position; and the fatal shooting at a Texas church were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

| November 5, 2020

Cumulus Media’s Q3 Financial Report Reveals Net Revenue Down 30.1%. Reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2020, Cumulus Media says net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 30.1% from the same period in 2019. The company also reports a net loss of $15.8 million compared to the $16.3 net income reported for the third quarter of 2019. Same station net revenue was $196.4 million, a decrease of 29.4% from Q3 of 2019. Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner says, “In the third quarter, the company continued to focus on maximizing revenue performance, executing meaningful expense reductions, protecting cash through efficient working capital management and strengthening our balance sheet. Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating through a pandemic, we have reduced debt by $269 million and increased cash by $316 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018 (a net debt reduction of more than $585 million or 46%.) We believe that these actions, along with record-setting political revenues, will allow us to navigate through and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with considerable ability to support our growth initiatives and capitalize on strategic and operating opportunities in 2021 and beyond.”

Bakersfield Talk Radio Personality Inga Barks Dies. According to a report by KERO-TV, Bakersfield, former market talk radio personality Inga Barks has died unexpectedly at age 53. At this point details are few, but it appears Barks passed away on November 4. KERO-TV quotes Barks’ friend Cindy Andrews – who worked with Barks at American General Media news/talk outlet KERN-AM – saying, “I am deeply saddened over the death of my former coworker and friend, Inga Barks. Not only was she a talented talk show host, but she was also very devoted to her family. We shared many laughs and unique experiences as female broadcasters for American General Media. She will be missed by many.” You can see KERO-TV’s report that includes tributes from former co-workers – including KMJ, Fresno’s Blake Taylorhere.

WTIC-AM, Hartford Morning Co-Host Joe D’Ambrosio to Leave Station in June. According to an account in the Hartford Courant, WTIC-AM, Hartford morning drive co-host Joe D’Ambrosio says he’s frustrated with his “inability to speak his mind on the air and will leave his position when his contract expires in June.” The paper reports that D’Ambrosio told co-host Ray Dunaway, “At this radio station at this time, I’m not allowed to let my opinions be known. I’ve told management, when my contract is up in June, my time with WTIC will be over.”  It’s not clear if D’Ambrosio is upset with a directive from management or just with the general tenor of host and caller opinions. Reporter Susan Dunne says that when reached later, D’Ambrosio declined to elaborate on his comments.

PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the news/talk format. Over the last eight PPM surveys going back to March, the global pandemic, racial tensions/protests, and the election year have provided the news/talk format with ample hot-button issues to discuss and the format’s performance has improved over the same period in 2019, based on Nielsen’s 6+ weekly AQH share data. In the October 2020 survey, 61% of news/talk stations were up over the September 2020 survey with gainers being led buy iHeartMedia’s KFYI, Phoenix (+1.4) and Bonneville’s KSL-FM, Salt Lake City (+1.3). Comparing year-over-year data, 68% of news/talk stations were up in October 2020 compared to October 2019 with gainers being led by iHeartMedia’s WISN, Milwaukee (+6.2), KNRS-FM, Salt Lake City (+4.4), and WCBM Inc’s WCBM, Baltimore (+3.7). In the October 2020 survey, seven news/talk stations ranked #1 (6+) in their respective markets. Find out which stations were ranked #1 by reading Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

Mid-West Family Madison Donates $900k in Advertising. The Madison, Wisconsin station group of Mid-West Family Broadcasting gave $900,000 in free advertising (more than 31,000 commercials) to hundreds of local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 21 and July 21 through its “NOW OPEN” program. Mid-West Family Madison president Tom Walker says, “Our company was formed in Madison, we’ve been here for 91 years, and our commitment to the community and local businesses is our top priority. ‘NOW OPEN’ gave us the chance to connect businesses with consumers when they needed it most.”

Report: ESPN to Lay Off 300. According to a report by Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, sports giant ESPN is laying off 300 staffers and will not fill some 200 positions that had been open. This comes as parent company ABC/Disney deals with the effects of the pandemic and the changes in media consumption behavior. Marchand’s report indicates that the cuts will be “spread across the network” but will largely spare on-air personalities. Marchand adds, “As is the case across Disney, ESPN is trying to shift more of its business to direct-to-consumer. It has created ESPN+. It had reported 8.5 million subscribers as of this summer. The pandemic has also created new ways to deliver programming with less people.”

The Road to 270 Electoral Votes/Promised Legal Challenges, Portland Violence, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, European Lockdowns, New Islamic Terror Threats, U.S. Exits Paris Climate Accord, Prop 22 Passes in California, Watch on Hurricane Eta Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/4). The counting continues as Donald Trump and Joe Biden each hope to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to claim victory and the gearing up of legal challenges to some states’ vote totals; the National Guard is called in to Portland, Oregon after a riot is declared; the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for the fall/winter seasons; the lockdowns being ordered in numerous European nations to combat the rising number of COVID cases; concerns about new terror attacks by actors sympathetic to the Islamic State; the United States officially exits the Paris Climate Accord; California passes Proposition 22 which allows Uber and Lyft to treat drives as contractors and not employees; and the possibility that Hurricane Eta will gain steam and head for Florida 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 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and iHeartMedia are teaming up for an exclusive podcast partnership for the series “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Vault” that will debut Friday (11/6), the day before the 35th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airing on November 7 on HBO. The series covers iconic induction speeches and will debut with The Beatles inducted by Mick Jagger, N.W.A inducted by Kendrick Lamar, The Eagles inducted by Jimmy Buffet, and Stevie Nicks inducted by Harry Styles. New episodes will premiere every Friday through the end of the year and a second season will premiere in early 2021. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “Over the past 35 years, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies have become renowned for their impassioned and sometimes outrageous acceptance speeches. We’re thrilled to bring the most iconic moments of past and present music infamy to fans around the world and continue to share what’s made the event special in the past and for years to come.”