Lotus Communications Closes on Seattle Stations Acquisition. The only radio stations that Sinclair Broadcast Group owned are now part of the Lotus Communications portfolio as Lotus closes on the $18 million purchase of all-news KOMO-AM/FM, talk KVI-AM, and hot AC KPLZ-FM in Seattle that was announced in June. Lotus president Jim Kalmenson says in a statement, “Today begins an exciting era as we begin working with the amazing staff at these heritage radio stations KOMO, KPLZ, and KVI. These are legendary stations which share Lotus’s vision of producing local programming to serve the community and support our hometown businesses. Seattle is home to several excellent broadcasting companies who have made this a great radio market.” Sinclair Broadcast Group – a broadcast television company – picked up the radio stations as part of its acquisition of Fisher Communications’ TV assets in 2013.
WTKS-FM, Orlando’s Russ Rollins Hospitalized with COVID. The “Real Radio 104.1” website has the story of “Monsters in the Morning” host Russ Rollins’ battle with COVID-19. Rollins – who is fully vaccinated and has been an advocate for vaccinations and masks – was on an RV trip with his wife when he fell ill. They cut their trip short and returned home but on Monday (9/27), “things went from bad to worse” and “he was told by his doctor to go to the local emergency room.” Rollins texted that “fluid was filling up” and “this is not good,” adding this “is the worst I have ever felt.” For now, longtime member of “The Monsters in the Morning” Carlos Navarro is leading the show from his home with Angel Rivera and Ryan Holmes in separate rooms at the iHeartMedia studios in Orlando.
iHeartMedia’s Black Information Network Partners with Real Times Media. The deal between iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network and Detroit-based multi-media firm Real Times Media is described as “a strategic partnership to share and distribute news that is most important to the Black community.” BIN: Black Information Network is the company’s “national audio news network dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective” and Real Times Media publishes Black-targeted newspapers The Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, The Chicago Defender, The Michigan Chronicle, and The New Pittsburgh Courier. iHeartMedia says this new partnership expands upon the recent announcement that beginning in January 2022, BIN will expand their local news coverage in all 32 affiliate markets. Under this deal, iHeartMedia will source and distribute news stories from RTM publications across BIN radio stations and sites, and RTM will source and distribute BIN news, entertainment and sports stories and place BIN’s audio widget, a source of 24/7 audio coverage, on their digital properties. iHeartMedia will distribute RTM news on BINnews.com, BINnews.com/Atlanta and BINnews.com/Detroit. The deal also includes opportunities for iHeartMedia to convert RTM stories into audio reporting. BIN president Tony Coles says, “From the start, our goal at BIN has been to celebrate and invest in the Black community and shine a light on our most important stories. This exciting new partnership allows us to extend our commitment to expanding local journalism, benefitting Black communities all across the country.”
Elvin Fluellen Named VP and Market Manager for Cumulus Macon. Radio sales pro Elvin Fluellen is named vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s Macon, Georgia station group that includes news/talk WMAC-AM and four music brands. Fluellen rejoins Cumulus Macon from Cox Media Group Jacksonville where he was an account executive. Fluellen was previously general sales manager/digital sales manager for Cumulus Macon from 2016-2019. Fluellen has also held programming leadership and on-air positions during his 23-year radio career, including 13 years as operations manager/program director for iHeartMedia in Albany, Georgia. Cumulus regional vice president Mark Sullivan says, “It’s exciting to have Elvin rejoining the team in Macon as he did a wonderful job for us and made a lasting impact with the staff, advertisers and community. I’m very pleased to work alongside him again and look forward to many more successes together.”
Premiere Networks Launches Weekend Cryptocurrency Show Hosted by Mark Moss. This weekend Premiere Networks is debuting “The Mark Moss Show,” hosted by investor, entrepreneur, cryptocurrency expert, and host of the popular “Market Disruptors” podcast/YouTube series Mark Moss. The new three-hour weekend program is available for stations to air between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight local time. It will also be available as a podcast. Premiere says, “Each week on ‘The Mark Moss Show,’ Moss will help audiences understand and navigate Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, as well as why they’re important, including the business, politics, financial markets, and more. He’ll share his knowledge for why this isn’t just a new technology, but a technological revolution with the biggest opportunity and potential ever seen.” He says, “We’re witnessing the most important technological revolution right now – it’s the greatest ‘asymmetric opportunity’ of our lifetime. But to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to have asymmetric information and you need to know what most others do not. That’s what I’m excited to share with listeners each and every week, so they can participate in this revolution today!” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott comments, “Mark is uniquely qualified to inform and educate audiences on how to make smart investments, grow their money, understand the financial markets and prepare for the future. He doesn’t just talk the talk; he walks the walk. We look forward to sharing Mark’s knowledge and expertise with listeners every weekend!”
Dan Kripke Named DOS for El Dorado Broadcasters. At El Dorado Broadcasters in Yuma, Arizona, Dan Kripke is named director of sales for the group that includes news/talk KBLU-AM, two music brands, plus Yumadailynews.com and its digital sales operations in the marketplace. Kripke was most recently director of sales for Curtis Media in Jacksonville, North Carolina. El Dorado Broadcasters executive president Chris Fleming says, “Dan Kripke is someone we identified as a match for our team as his style and approach are both complementary and unique. When we look for people to join our team, we actively search for people who have a passion for this business and the curiosity and enthusiasm to be innovative. In our conversations with Dan this year, we knew he is someone we want on our team.” Kripke comments, “I can see the potential for growth in the Yuma market and I am thrilled to be part of it. I knew this was a team I wanted to join when had my first conversation with El Dorado Broadcasters. I can’t wait to get started.”
TALKERS News Notes. Tomorrow evening (9/30) at 7:00 pm, Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” presents a Town Hall broadcast addressing the alarming rise in youth suicide in New Jersey. Station senior political director Eric Scott says, “The most alarming statistic is the sharp increase in suicide among children as young as 10. Our goal is to remove the stigma surrounding those struggling with thoughts of suicide and connect them with the help they need.” The program’s on-air panel will feature: Meredith Masin Blount, executive director of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Susan Tellone, clinical director of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide; anti-bullying expert Stuart Green; and Roselin Duenas, a youth suicide survivor and advocate for New Jersey’s LGBTQ+ community…..Cumulus Media’s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno “NewsTalk 580/105.9” recently teamed with local agriculture company Gar Bennett to raise money for the Central California Food Bank through its 2021 “Feeding Families Fund Drive,” and listeners responded generously donating more than $250,000 to help their neighbors struggling with food insecurity and hunger. The annual one-day event was held on September 17 and has raised more than $3.5 million dollars and provided 18 million meals over the eight years the station has been presenting the fund drive…..Monticello Media’s WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia recently picked up awards from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters for newscast (“Local News First”), sports coverage (Mac McDonald “Covid 19 and HS Sports”) and community events (“Save the C’ville Fireworks”)…..iHeartMedia announces that Charlamagne Tha God’s The Black Effect Podcast Network will celebrate its one-year anniversary of “uplifting and amplifying Black voices in the podcast space” with a live event on October 7 at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. The hybrid event (in-person and live-streamed) will highlight some of the network’s comedy podcasts and will be hosted by Flame Monroe, co-host of “Laugh and Learn.” The event will feature live recordings from “Whoreible Decisions” with Mandii B and WeezyWTF and “The 85 South Show” with DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller, and Chico Bean…..Audacy’s C13Originals drops the second season of its documentary series written and created by Vanity Fair’s Lili Anolik titled, “Once Upon a Time… at Bennington College.” This season explores the Bennington College Class of ‘86 and the cultural impact of three of its members, authors Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Lethem, and Donna Tartt.
Debt Ceiling Standoff, Biden Infrastructure-Spending Plans, Senate Afghanistan Testimony, COVID-19, Stephanie Grisham Book, and UK Fuel Shortage Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/28). The congressional stalemate over raising the U.S.’s debt ceiling to avoid default; the debate in congress over President Joe Biden’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan and his $3.5 trillion spending plan; Tuesday’s senate testimony from top generals indicating they counseled Biden not to exit Afghanistan and Gen. Mark Milley’s doubling down on his calls to Chinese military; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., boosters, and mask & vaccine mandates; fallout from former Donald Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham’s tell-all book; and the fuel crisis affecting Great Britain were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Monday Memo: Copy Worth Copying. “Make commercial copy you craft for local advertisers THIS crisp,” and, consultant Holland Cooke says, “you will make money.” In this week’s column, he rips-off…er, “compiles” examples. Read it here.
Pending Business: Checking In. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa says that you’re more likely get a renewal from that advertiser if you check in regularly instead of adopting the “no-news-is-good-news” approach to gauging a campaign’s effectiveness. “Great sellers are like commercial airline pilots, or cruise ship captains. Everyone is prepared with specific goals, timelines, and once the journey (schedule) begins, ready to control the mission.” Read his column here.
The ‘Todd Starnes Podcast’ Joins Salem Podcast Network. Beginning April 5, the “Todd Starnes Podcast” joins the Salem Podcast Network. Salem Media Group SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “SPN is delighted to join in this partnership with Todd Starnes, one of the leading voices in conservative America. His courage in saying what needs to be said is unmatched. His knowledge and ability to explain what is really going on is his forte.” With this deal, the Salem Podcast Network assumes distribution, marketing, and sales representation duties for the “Todd Starnes Podcast.” Starnes also hosts a daily, syndicated radio program and he previously spent more than a decade at the FOX News Channel, hosting a daily radio program on the FOX Radio Network. He comments, “Salem is known for its cutting-edge platforms and excellence-driven programming. I’m honored to join such a well-respected industry leader like the Salem Podcast Network.”
WJR-AM, Detroit Takes Station of the Year Honor. Detroit news/talk WJR-AM is named “Commercial Radio Station of the Year” by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters for the 17th time since 2000. The Cumulus Media station also received 17 other awards, including eight “Merit Awards,” as well as nine “Best Awards.” Some of the “Best Awards” include: Regularly Scheduled Broadcast Personality/Team – “The Guy Gordon Show”; Sports – “Lions Pregame: Around the League”; Special Show Broadcast Personality/Team – “War of the Worlds” live stream event; and Continuing News Coverage – COVID-19 Replay.
iHeartMedia Names Barbara Latham Area President for Central Florida. Sales and management pro Barbara Latham is promoted to area president for iHeartMedia Central Florida in which she’ll oversee the Orlando and Melbourne markets that include talk WTKS-FM “Real Radio 104.1,” news/talk WFLF “WFLA,” sports talk WYGM “FM 96.9 The Game,” plus 10 music brands. She’s most recently been serving the Orlando cluster as SVP of sales. Latham reports to division president Linda Byrd, who says, “I am thrilled to be able to promote Barb to this position. We’ve worked together for 36 years and in many different capacities. She is one of the brightest and most competitive employees I know. Barb has always been a winner, and to her, there is no other option. No one deserves this opportunity more, and it makes me happy to put this team, that I’ve managed for the last 21 years in her capable hands.”
WABC, New York Recognizes Greek Independence Day. Pictured above (from l-r) are Chad Lopez, president of Red Apple Media and 77 WABC; Margo and John Catsimatidis, owners of Red Apple Media and 77 WABC, and Renee Cassis, owner of RC Communications Marketing on March 25 as the radio station hosted a celebration for the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day. The event was held in WABC’s event space, Studio 77. During his opening remarks, John Catsimatidis noted the diversity of America and stated that the celebration was for every ethnicity and race.
Josh Innes Returns to iHeartMedia as Morning Host at WNRQ-FM, Nashville. Sports radio talk host Josh Innes is joining iHeartMedia’s Nashville classic rock WNRQ-FM “105.9 The Rock” as morning drive host, effective April 5. The station says “The Josh Innes Show” will be a Nashville-focused blend of classic rock, news, sports and commentary and will broadcast weekday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00 am. WNRQ program director Jonathan Shuford says, “Josh is wildly talented as a personality, idea generator, and storyteller. He’s unconventional, creative, and exceptionally compelling. We’re beyond excited to welcome him to Nashville and foster in the next great classic rock morning show!” Innes was most recently afternoon host on Gow Media’s sports talk KFNC-FM, Houston. He’s also served with iHeartMedia’s sports talk KBME-AM, Houston, and Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia. He hosts “The Josh Innes Show” podcast live on Twitch and heard on iHeartRadio.
iHeartMedia Issues Statement on FCC Ruling. The company’s statement issued on Friday (3/26) is in regard to the approval of its pending applications to acquire certain radio stations, and the temporary shareholder restrictions required by the FCC to be imposed upon Global Media & Entertainment Investments Ltd. The company says, “iHeartMedia values its shareholder relationships and we welcome all new shareholders to iHeartMedia. However, because GMEI is a foreign shareholder, its recent investment was inconsistent with the FCC’s foreign ownership rules and created an operating issue for us under the FCC’s regulatory framework. As background, GMEI’s purchase of an 8.7% position in our Class A Common stock, as reported in its Schedule 13D filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 5, 2021, caused a violation of the FCC’s foreign ownership regulations and the FCC’s November 5, 2020 declaratory ruling related to the company’s foreign ownership, both of which limit a foreign investor in GMEI’s position to 5% without prior FCC approval. To address this issue, over which iHeartMedia had no prior knowledge or control, we filed a remedial petition for declaratory ruling requesting FCC approval for GMEI to have the ability to increase its ownership to up to 9.99%. Notwithstanding the GMEI investment, the FCC has approved iHeartMedia’s acquisitions of certain stations, including stations for BIN: Black Information Network. However, the FCC has required that the company impose temporary shareholder restrictions on GMEI as a condition of approving those radio station acquisitions. To comply with the FCC order, iHeartMedia’s Board of Directors resolved to take action consistent with the FCC’s conditional requirements. These actions include imposing temporary voting and other shareholder restrictions on GMEI which will apply during the pendency of the Petition. iHeartMedia respects the FCC process and will, as a matter of consistent policy, ensure the company’s compliance with the FCC’s foreign ownership and other regulations.”
COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, CNN’s COVID War Special/WHO Origin Report, Suez Ship Jam, Border Crisis-Immigration Policy, Hedge Fund Failure-Financial Markets, Chauvin Trial, U.S. Afghanistan Operations, and Nashville Floods Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., rising cases in some states, and the rollout of vaccines; CNN’s Sunday special featuring the six doctors leading the U.S. COVID program and the WHO’s report concluding the coronavirus likely came from an animal at a Chinese wildlife market; the status of the container ship blocking the Suez canal and its effect on the global economy; the crisis of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the failure of a major hedge fund causes problems for Credit Suisse and Nomura that could reverberate through the global economy; today’s beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; the United States’ Afghanistan operations and the Doha agreement that calls for U.S. troop removal by May 1; and the historic floods in Nashville and Middle Tennessee were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Memo: Copy Copy Like This. While listeners – whom your advertisers want to meet – have been disrupted, NOTHING resonates like empathy, succinctly conveyed. For this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke has collected examples instructive to commercial copy we craft for local retailers, and station imaging. Read it here.
Re-Opening Across America, Memorial Day Holiday, Michigan Protests, COVID-19 Tests/Vaccine Research, Presidential Race, Brazil Travel Ban, and ‘The Match’ Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. States across the country begin cautiously re-opening their economies; the Memorial Day holiday takes place without the usual parades and observances; Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s battle against lockdown protesters; the number of COVID-19 tests being done in the U.S. and the global work being done to create a vaccine; the November presidential election; President Trump puts a ban on flights from Brazil as the coronavirus sweeps through the South American nation; and “The Match” featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady playing golf were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Pending Business: What’s All the Fuss About? Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that great sellers have always been built to work remotely. He draws a sports analogy. “High-performing athletes are regularly well-coached and prepared. Then, on their own, away from the head coach – remotely – often with private coaches, they practice. When they return for the next session they are better… the takeaway here is the individual commitment to practicing ‘remotely.’” Read his column here.
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 April PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk formatted stations. It appears that radio listeners shifted from wanting straight news about the pandemic in March – when all-news outlets saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares shoot up – to wanting to hear analysis and discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic in April. Seventy-eight percent of news/talk stations saw their AQH shares go up during the April survey, led by big gainers such as iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM, Milwaukee (+3.5, 9.3 share), Bonneville’s KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City (+2.8, 8.8 share), and Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM, Providence (+2.3, 6.1 share). It’s important to note that radio cume was down across the board in April and that dramatic increases in time spent listening are driving these AQH spikes. With that said, some impressive year-over year AQH increases happened in April. Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta was up 7.3 shares over April 2019 (13.9 share, #1), iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento shot up 5.6 shares (11.6 share, #1), and Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis was up 5.1 shares (10.3 share, #1). Also, in April there were 11 news/talk outlets that ranked #1 in their respective markets. See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
Erick Erickson Interviews Mike Pence in Sanitized Space at Waffle House HQ. Pictured above is Georgia talk radio host Erick Erickson (left) conducting an in-person interview with Vice President Mike Pence (right) on Friday (5/22) at Waffle House corporate headquarters in Norcross, Georgia. The interview aired on Erickson’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta afternoon drive show on Friday and on his statewide syndicated late morning show today (5/26). Erickson says of preparing for the interview, “I didn’t have to wear a mask. The Secret Service took my temperature, made me set up all my equipment, then made me leave the room so they could sanitize everything themselves. I was not allowed back to my equipment until the interview. It was a new twist on these sorts of interviews.” The two discussed the progress being made in re-opening Georgia, the what-ifs of a potential flare-up of coronavirus cases, and what might be expected for college football this year.
KOIL, Omaha Launches New ‘Local 1290’ Program. Omaha news/talk KOIL “News Talk 1290” says it is debuting a new, daily two-hour program “focusing on the local community as our friends, neighbors and businesses begin to face the new normal.” The live program is being hosted by Neil Nelkin and will focus on everything “local” in Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa as businesses start to re-open and figure out how to go forward. Other NRG Media on-air talent will join the program as co-hosts, including Nikki and Laura from KQKQ-FM “Sweet 98.5,” Mike’l Severe and Damon Benning from KOZN-AM “1620 The Zone,” and Matt Tompkins from KOOO-FM “101.9 The Keg.” Neil Nelkin comments, “Finally a positive show about our listeners, our community and businesses within the Omaha and Council Bluffs area. We want to highlight the local business and hear their stories about how they are doing and re-opening. It’s a community feel good, as we are all in this together.”
TALKERS News Notes. The global pandemic can’t keep Stephanie Miller’s “Sexy Liberal Tour” down. Miller’s SM Radio Productions says, “Until it’s safe to travel and gather in large groups again, the hysterically funny ‘Sexy Liberal Tour’ is now set to come into fans’ homes with ‘Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Virtual Tour.’” It will debut virtually on Saturday, June 6 at 9:00 pm ET / 6:00 pm PT and will feature Stephanie Miller, John Fugelsang, Hal Sparks, Frances Callier, and Angela V. Shelton…..Nationally syndicated talk host Buck Sexton interviewed President Trump in the Oval Office for a conversation that aired on his Premiere Networks-syndicated show. Among the topics discussed were the president’s thoughts on the intelligence community, the judiciary, the “deep state,” “Russiagate,” Michael Flynn, and more. The president also told Sexton the country will “never do this again” and will deal with the coronavirus issue by employing the country’s “best resources” to put out any fires as they emerge…..The Times-Union of San Diego reports that Mexican signal XEPRS-AM, Tijuana could be back on the air as “The Mightier 1090” around July 4, to coincide with the return of Major League Baseball. As has been reported, Flagstaff, Arizona-based marketing executive Bill Hagen is leasing the former sports talk outlet and plans to build a lifestyle and sports talk station around afternoon personality – and former longtime “Mighty 1090” personality – Scott Kaplan. The sports talk format on XEPRS ended 13 months ago when Broadcasting Company of the Americas lost its lease on the signal…..GCN-syndicated host Kate Delaney is honored with a 2020 Communicator Award for Excellence from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts. Her DelaneyMediaGroup won in the Commercial Campaign category for “Her Story.” Delaney tells TALKERS magazine the feature airs on 70 stations and Amazon’s Echo…..Last Friday (5/22), WTKS-FM, Orlando’s “The News Junkie” radio show – hosted by Shawn Wasson, Sabrina Ambra, and Chris “C-lane” Lane – held “the World’s First Live Radio Broadcast With Social Distancing.” Pictured below is the trio at their broadcast booth. They say that fans arrived at staggered times to prevent a large crowd outside and those feeling sick were urged not to attend. Each table was limited to only a few guests and hand sanitizer and optional masks were available for all guests. Wasson says, “The show featured plenty of drinks, plenty of fun and games. What we didn’t do is have people shaking hands and hanging all over each other. We showed that with enough planning and preparation you can juggle being safe and having a blast.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Last week’s WKQX, Chicago radiothon supporting the Chicago Independent Venue League netted $34,000 for the association and its live music venues. The morning show trio of Brian, Ali, and Justin were on air for 34 hours and interviewed artists including Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day, Grouplove, Silversun Pickups, Cage The Elephant, Local H, KFlay, All Time Low, Powfu, Chip Z’Nuff, and Jerry from JBTV. The event was sponsored by Goose Island Beer Company, supporting Chicago music venues since 1988…..iHeartMedia flips classic hits WJDX, Jackson, Mississippi to hip hop as “The New Real 105.1.” The station’s lineup includes “The Breakfast Club,” with DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne Tha God in morning drive. iHeartMedia Jackson market president Mike Comfort says, “We are excited to launch ‘The New Real 105.1’ in Jackson and bring another choice for hip hop and R&B to the market. Based on our research, we know not only is this going to connect with our market’s audience, but this format is also going to produce a strong listener base for our advertisers – things just got real!”…..iHeartMedia Philadelphia re-brands alternative WRFF as “ALT 104.5.” Station PD and midday personality Amber Miller says, “Who doesn’t love the big reveal at the end of a makeover show. Well, ta-da! Philly’s Alternative Rock station is now sounding bigger and better than ever, combining the music and personalities our listeners love with this fresh, energetic new aesthetic. The station offers listeners the same music and entertainment they crave, just with a fresh new coat of paint.”