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Monday, January 3, 2022

| January 3, 2022

Monday Memo: CES, Carefully. Like most conventions a year ago, CES2021 settled for virtual. But this week, it’s game-on in Las Vegas. And there – vax’d, boosted, tested, masked, and toting the jug-handle-size bottle of hand sanitizer – is Holland Cooke. Read more here.

 

Pending Business: A New Year’s Lesson. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says a holiday chat with a former associate recalled a memorable case of a radio seller who transitioned from newspapers and the switch was not smooth sailing at first. But persistence and management support saved the day. Read more here.

Ratings Takeaways from Nielsen’s December PPM Survey. Last week, Nielsen Audio released December 2021 ratings data for all 48 PPM markets. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from those markets for the period that covered November 11 to December 8. Audacy’s all-news WINS-AM was the top spoken-word station in New York, adding two-tenths for a 3.8 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) good for the #8 rank. In Los Angeles, although it shed four-tenths, iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI posted a 3.1 share and rose to the #7 rank. Audacy’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago fell out of first place to the #2 rank though it remained steady with a 5.7 share, while Nexstar Media’s crosstown news/talk WGN-AM was flat with a 3.7 share but rose to the #8 rank. Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta lost 2.7 shares, finishing with a 6.6 share and falling from #1 to #4. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM added two-tenths for a 3.7 share and inched up to the #11 rank while Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM dipped nine-tenths for a 6.8 share good for the #4 rank. Even though Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle added one-tenth, its 6.6 share was only good enough for the #2 rank. The news/talk battle in Salt Lake City flipped as iHeartMedia’s news/talk KNRS-AM/FM remained ranked #2 after slipping one-tenth to a 7.1 share while Bonneville’s crosstown KSL-AM/FM lost 1.5 shares for a 6.0 share finish causing it to fall from #1 to #5. The news/talk wars in Milwaukee showed some separation as iHeartMedia’s WISN-AM remained ranked #1,  posting its second consecutive 10.3 share while Good Karma Brands‘ crosstown WTMJ-AM fell five-tenths to a 7.1 share and finished ranked #4. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from all 48 PPM markets here.

Salem’s WIND-AM, Chicago Adds to News and Traffic Operations. Changes in the news and traffic departments are taking place at Salem Media Group’s Chicago news/talk WIND “AM 560 The Answer.” Long time morning news anchor Mike Scott – who has anchored newscasts on the station between 5:00 am and 12:00 noon each weekday for the past 17 years – will join Salem as full-time news director and continue anchoring news and traffic. Scott had appeared on the station through an agreement between Salem, Total Traffic and Weather Network, and NBC News Radio. That agreement is not being renewed.  Scott says, “I’m incredibly gratified to be able to continue in my role on the air with AM 560 and Salem Media. We have some of the best listeners in all of Chicago radio and some of the best on-air talent. I look forward to providing the first look at the day’s news for our audience.” Scott will also assume anchoring duties for the Salem Podcast Network’s “Daybreak Insider Podcast,” which launched in September of 2021. Additionally, JoAnn Genette will join WIND as an afternoon news anchor through an agreement with Remote News Service. She will anchor weekday afternoon newscasts through 6:30 pm. Also, longtime Chicago traffic reporter Jill Urchak will begin handling afternoon traffic reports for the station. Urchak has spent close to 25 years as a traffic reporter in Chicago, including at WGN-AM, WBBM-AM, WSCR-AM, and WLUP-FM, as well as WBBM-TV. Salem regional VP and WIND general manager Jeff Reisman says, “News and traffic are cornerstone elements for our format and for our radio station. Keeping Mike Scott on our team while also adding JoAnn and Jill solidifies our commitment to serve our audience. We have a team of veteran broadcasters with experience and insight that our listeners can trust.”

Zederman Named Director of Content for ‘ESPN 1000’ in Chicago. At Chicago sports talk outlet WMVP-AM “ESPN 1000,” Good Karma Brands names Danny Zederman director of content. Zederman joins the leadership team as a 15-year veteran of “ESPN 1000.” Zederman has been serving as executive producer of the “Kap & J.Hood” show. He says, “I’m grateful to Good Karma Brands for the opportunity and am excited to work alongside ESPN 1000’s market manager Keith Williams, to lead and collaborate with our talented teammates and partners. My goal is to continue entertaining our fans, grow the ESPN Chicago brand on all platforms and add value to the community.” Williams says, “We’re excited to announce Danny Zederman as ESPN Chicago’s director of content.  Danny’s strategy and vision for our team in the future will allow us to grow to serve our partners, fans and teammates.”

Jimmy Failla Featured on FOX News’ New Year’s Celebration. Pictured above in Times Square prior to Friday’s New Year’s celebration is FOX News Radio host Jimmy Failla (right). With him is FOX News Radio manager of affiliate sales & marketing Tamara Karcev (left) and KTTH, Seattle talk host Jason Rantz (center). Failla was featured as one of the FOX personalities on the “All American New Year Live from Nashville” special that aired on New Year’s Eve.

TALKERS News Notes. Over the New Year’s holiday weekend, Ric Edelman debuted his new, nationally syndicated radio program, “The Truth About Your Future with Ric Edelman,” on 26 affiliates around the country. Edelman hosted AgeWave founder Dr. Ken Dychtwald on the program. Edelman says, “If you’re alive in 2030, you will likely live to age 100 or beyond. We need to make sure that your money lasts as long as you do, and that’s why I’m focusing on the topics that matter to investors today. The investments of the past 40 years won’t deliver the results you need in the future, so I’ll be sharing the ideas and strategies you need to achieve success in the 21st century.”…..The Independent Broadcasters Association’s board of directors elects officers for the 2022-2023 term. Ron Stone was re-elected for a second term as president and executive director of the IBA. Two of the other officers were also re-elected, Darrell Calton, chairman and assistant secretary and Allen Dick, VP and treasurer. Tony Renda was elected as secretary and assistant treasurer, replacing Mike Flood. Stone says, “I am pleased that the board has re-elected three of the founding officers for an additional term. I am very excited to have Tony Renda as one of our leaders in the next term. Tony has been instrumental in helping the IBA with many of the initiatives we took on in our first two years.  The IBA has succeeded in its first 18 months delivering many new ways for its members to save on operational costs, create new revenues, and benefit from all the professionals in the industry that are working with us. We have said from the beginning that a large independent membership provides scale and with scale we can deliver many great things for independent broadcasters.  I am looking forward to working with our management team to establish new goals for the IBA for 2022 and 2023.”

COVID-19, New Year’s Holiday, Twitter Boots MTG, January 6 Investigation, Colorado Wildfires, NASCAR ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Issue, Betty White Dies, Antonio Brown Incident Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The exploding rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the Omicron variant, and vaccine mandates; the New Year’s holiday, 2021 retrospectives, and predictions for 2022; Twitter permanently cancels account of Marjorie Taylor Greene; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack; the wildfires that devastated the Boulder, Colorado area; criticism over NASCAR for “reviewing” Brandon Brown’s crypto sponsorship and the “Let’s Go, Brandon” slogan; entertainment icon Betty White dies at 99; and Antonio Brown’s bizarre exit from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the middle of Sunday’s game were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

| November 11, 2021

WFAN, New York Unveils New Evening and Overnight Shows. Sports talk WFAN, New York announces new evening and overnight programming. The Audacy station brings aboard Keith McPherson to host the 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show and promoted part-time talk host Sal Licata to host of the 12:00 midnight to 5:00 am show. Both programs debut on November 15. Audacy New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Keith and Sal will form a dynamic evening one-two punch, as both have the passion and drive to usher in an exciting new era on ‘The Fan.’ These hours became a must listen for decades with the iconic Steve Somers behind the microphone, and that will continue as Keith and Sal entertain the tristate area nightly be it on the road or even at home under the covers.” McPherson was most recently social media manager and podcast host for Jomboy Media. He says, “This is really a dream come true. I find no greater joy or entertainment than live sports and it’s a blessing and an honor to have this opportunity at a place like WFAN. I look forward to talking sports every day in New York and helping to lead this station into the future.” Sal Licata started his broadcasting career as an intern at WFAN in January 2003 and worked his way up to part-time host. In addition to his work at WFAN, Licata has been with SNY since 2010 and can be seen weeknights on “Geico Sportsnite” and weekly on “Baseball Night in New York.” Licata says, “Having a full time show on WFAN means everything to me. It’s an honor and a privilege to have an opportunity to talk sports every night with the most passionate fans, in the greatest city in the world, on the best sports talk station ever created. It’s all I have ever wanted.”

New York Festivals 2022 Radio Awards Now Accepting Entries. The 2022 New York Festivals Radio Awards competition is now open for entries. New York Festivals Radio Awards honors storytellers from around the globe. Since 1957 NYF has celebrated excellence and innovation across all genres and platforms, keeping pace with industry-wide developments and global trends. Vice president and executive director Rose Anderson says, “When we added nine categories for social justice content last year, radio producers and the global audio storytelling community responded with thought-provoking work. This year, we are thrilled to announce the debut of our new trophy, the iconic NYF Tower in hand-polished Gold, Silver, and Bronze.” For the second year in a row, New York Festivals welcomes JusticeAid, an organization that promotes justice through the arts and public engagement, as a partner. The NYF Radio Awards receives entries from radio stations, networks, and independent producers from over 30 countries around the globe. The mission of the competition is to honor the achievements of the men and women who make up the global audio storytelling community. New York Festivals invites award-winning industry leaders from around the world to become members of their world-class Radio Awards Grand Jury. The 2022 Grand jury will be set in the coming months. Those jurors will include some of the world’s most recognizable voices and captivating content producers in the radio industry. Entries are judged on production values, organization, presentation of information, creativity, and use of the medium. You can see the 2021 winners here. Although the 2021 in-person NAB Show was cancelled due to pandemic quarantine restrictions, NYF pivoted with a 90-minute virtual ceremony Storytellers Gala featuring highlights and acceptances from 100 winning teams of men and women coming from their homes in 40-plus countries. The 2022 Storytellers Gala will take place at the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas on April 26, 2022. This is the 12th year of NYF’s strategic partnership with NAB Show. The deadline to enter the 2022 Radio Awards competition is February 9, 2022. Find out more about entering here.

Brian Kilmeade is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Multi-media talk star Brian Kilmeade is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Kilmeade is a longtime member of the trio that co-hosts the FOX News Channel cable TV morning show “FOX & Friends” in addition to hosting his own nationally syndicated midday program on FOX News Radio. Kilmeade is ranked #4 on the 2021 TALKERS Heavy Hundred list. He is the author of seven books – two about sports and he’s just published his fifth about key figures and stories in American History. This series brings new insights into the lives, times, and impact of icons such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston and his new one is titled, The President and the Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and their Battle to Save America’s Soul. Harrison and Kilmeade discuss the deeply nuanced relationship between Lincoln and Frederick Douglass (not to be confused with Stephen Douglas) which so directly relates and connects to the reckoning between the races currently taking place in the national conversation. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

iHeartMedia Names Bekki Yang SVP of Sales for Twin Cities. Radio sales pro Bekki Yang is promoted to senior vice president of sales for iHeartMedia’s Minneapolis station group that includes news/talk WCTS-AM “Twin Cities News Talk,” sports KFXN “KFAN,” and KQQL-HD2/W227BF “Black Information Network,” and five music brands. iHeartMedia Minneapolis market president Greg Alexander says, “Bekki thinks big and acts big. Innovation and creative thinking are at the core of her career success. I’m thrilled to promote her to senior vice president of sales.” Yang has a 22-year history with iHeartMedia, most recently serving as the vice president of sales for Minneapolis. Yang says, “I’ve had a very long career with iHeartMedia and I couldn’t be more excited to take on this new role with the iHeartMedia Minneapolis team. I look forward to the continued success that Minneapolis has established while adding new ideas and leadership to the team.”

Winners of 2021 Marconi Awards Announced. The National Association of Broadcasters announces the winners of the 2021 NAB Marconi Radio Awards, honoring radio stations and on-air personalities for excellence in broadcasting. The awards were announced during the virtual NAB Marconi Radio Awards Celebration. Spoken-word winners of note include: WSB-AM, Atlanta, Legendary Station of the Year; KTCK-AM, Dallas’ The Musers, Major Marker Personality of the Year; KRMG-FM, Tulsa’s Dan Potter, Medium Market Personality of the Year; KYW-AM, Philadelphia, Major Market Station of the Year; KTMY-FM, Minneapolis, Large Market Station of the Year; KRMG-FM, Tulsa, Medium Market Station of the Year; WTOP-FM, Washington, News/Talk Station of the Year; and KTCK-AM, Dallas, Sports Station of the Year.

Alabama Host Cam Marston Announces Effort to Expand Radio Show. “What’s Working” – the radio show hosted by Cam Marston that focuses on trends in the workplace, workforce, and marketplace – is expanding. The program is based at WAVH-FM, Mobile and over the past four years has included interviews with a broad array of businesspeople from foresters, to brewers, to manufacturers, to authors, to Tony Award-winning actors. Marston says, “The focus of my show has always been for the benefit of my listeners in and around the Mobile, Alabama market. Now I want to bring the show across the state where I can connect with a larger spectrum of businesses.”

Inflation/Supply Chain, January 6 Investigation, COVID-19, COP26/U.S.-China Deal, Kamala Harris in Paris, and Belarus-Poland Refugee Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/10). Soaring retail and fuel prices and the broken global supply chain; the investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and former President Donald Trump’s attempts to prevent the House panel from getting presidential records; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the battle over mask & vaccine mandates; the COP26 summit in Glasgow and the U.S.-China emissions reduction deal; Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to France; and the refugee crisis at the Belarus-Poland border were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

| November 3, 2021

iHeartMedia and DraftKings Enter into Multiplatform Deal. This new relationship between iHeartMedia and DraftKings is a “multi-year strategic relationship, making DraftKings the official odds supplier for iHeartMedia’s broadcast, digital, podcast and social platforms.” As part of this deal, DraftKings is now able to co-create and distribute longform content with iHeartMedia and will receive preferred access to iHeartMedia’s full roster of diverse personalities. Furthermore, DraftKings and iHeartMedia will collaborate around a wide range of possible content development opportunities, including the distribution of shows and segments across the media giant’s radio and digital properties and integrations within iHeartMedia’s live sports broadcasts. DraftKings and iHeartMedia will also collaborate on a number of possible experiential opportunities for listeners and fans including providing cross platform interactive games. iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group CEO Greg Ashlock says, “Even though we are number one in audio sports programming, we continue to build new sports content and DraftKings is an ideal partner as we expand and innovate. DraftKings is a premier sports technology and entertainment company that provides millions of customers with the best in real-money gaming products along with exceptional safety and security through various responsible gaming measures. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership everywhere sports betting is permissible.”

Round Two of October PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s October 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s October 2021 survey period covered September 16 – October 13. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM adds a full share to finish the survey with a 4.2 share (6+, weekly AQH share) and rises to the #8 rank in the market. At Bonneville’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM, the station dips two-tenths for an 8.3 share and falls back to the #3 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston tacks on two-tenths for a 4.1 share and the #8 rank while sister all-news WBZ-AM dips four-tenths for a 6.2 share but remains ranked #3. But, the winner in Boston is Beasley Media Group’s sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub,” which adds six-tenths for an 8.0 share finish good for #1. In Seattle, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM continues in the #1 position even though it shed three-tenths and wrapped the survey with a 6.8 share. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets (as well as yesterday’s first round) here.

Former President Trump Featured in New Starnes Book. Pictured above is nationally syndicated talk radio host and author Todd Starnes (right) with former President Donald Trump (left) at Mar-a-Lago in in Florida where the two sat down for a 90-minute interview that will be the centerpiece of Starnes’ new book about American culture set to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2022.

Jake Query Partners with Kevin Bowen for Mornings on Emmis’ ‘The Fan 93.5 & 107.7.’ Indianapolis sports talk personality Jake Query is joining Emmis Communications’ Indy sports talker “The Fan 93.5 & 107.5” (WIBC-HD2/W228CX/W298BB) to co-host the morning drive program with current morning personality Kevin Bowen. Query was most recently with iHeartMedia’s crosstown sports talk WNDE-AM as co-host of the “Query and Schultz Show.” The new “Kevin & Query” show will air weekdays from 7:00 am to 10:0 am beginning Monday (11/8). Emmis Indianapolis VP of programming David Wood says, “Jake is an Indianapolis sports lifer and a gifted storyteller. It was clear that Kevin and Jake had an instant and interesting chemistry when they did several shows together in October. They are going to give Indy sports fans a consistently fun and informative show.” Query says, “During the last 22 months, I’ve been fortunate to gain many valuable, and previously overlooked, personal perspectives. One thing that needed no further solidification was my love for the city of Indianapolis. To be given the privilege to again speak to and with people from all corners and backgrounds of this town means the world to me. I’m grateful for the opportunity and am excited to be part of the trajectory of the morning show on ‘The Fan.’ It’s a great honor.”

Paul Windisch Named GSM for SummitMedia Springfield, Missouri. Radio sales pro Paul Windisch joins SummitMedia as general sales manager for the company’s Springfield, Missouri station group that includes news/talk KSGF-AM/FM and three music brands. Prior to joining SummitMedia, Windisch owned Freedom Consulting LLC, in which he helped companies grow through marketing consulting, sales training, recruitment, and operational strategy. Windisch says, “I believe we all should strive to bring out the best in others, whether that is the people I work with, peers, or clients. It’s clear Summit Media embodies these same principles, recognizing their people are their most important asset. I feel incredibly blessed and excited to join this company.”

Jerry Butler Upped to Market Manager for MARC Radio in Gainesville. Radio pro Jerry Butler is promoted to market manager for MARC Radio’s Gainesville, Florida that includes Christian teaching/talk WTMN/WRZN/WIWA and five music brands. Butler joined the company 14 months ago and has been leading the group’s local sales efforts. MARC Radio executive vice president Dave Cobb says, “Jerry Butler is an impressive mix of on-air talent, industry knowledge, experience and most importantly, results. Despite the economic challenges of the past year, Jerry has navigated our stations and inspired our local sales team to record-breaking sales. He’s earned this promotion and we can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next at MARC.” Butler adds, “My cause has always been economic empowerment. MARC Radio has assembled a team of passionate broadcasters who share our commitment to quality and growth. It’s an honor to grow with this incredible company.”

Key Networks to Rep Radio’s Fresh Eyes. Syndication firm Key Networks announces it has inked a deal with Radio’s Fresh Eyes to represent the radio culture and leadership consultancy’s services to stations for cash or barter. Radio’s Fresh Eyes is led by radio industry pros Dave Paulus and John Shomby whose goal is to work with radio groups of all sizes “to create a dominant and unparalleled employee culture, giving stations actionable steps to a winning culture.” Key Networks chief revenue officer Dennis Green says, “When we started Key Networks, the goal was to be associated with the biggest brands and best in class product and people. Radio’s Fresh Eyes checks all the boxes, and I couldn’t be happier to be working with Dave and John on this project. They are consummate professionals who know all facets of the business and provide the leadership your station needs to win. That is Radio’s Fresh Eyes. They get it because they lived it. That’s all you need to know.”

NuVoodoo Names Andrea Parikh to Lead OOH Media-Trading Unit. Joining NuVoodoo Media Services to lead the firm’s new Out-of-Home Media-Trading unit is Andrea Parikh, whose title is digital OOH product developer and team leader. Parikh spent 16 years with Clear Channel Outdoor and in her new role will help NuVoodoo clients “leverage the intersection of mobile, social and digital media with billboards, transit shelters, street furniture and venue signage to reach consumers and in particular, the people most likely to participate in radio ratings.” NuVoodoo president Carolyn Gilbert says, “We couldn’t be happier that the person who led the rollout of digital Out-of-Home, mobile and data products at one of the world’s leading Out-of-Home media companies is now available exclusively to NuVoodoo clients in the radio industry. We welcome Andrea to the NuVoodoo team and look forward to doing even more for our clients through her extensive relationships and deep expertise.”

VA and NJ Governor’s Races, COP26 Summit, Biden Spending Bills, COVID-19, SCOTUS Texas Abortion Case, and World Series Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/2). Tuesday’s elections that saw Republican Glenn Youngkin defeat Democrat Terry McAuliffe for the Virginia governor’s seat and the still-too-close-to-call New Jersey gubernatorial race; the COP26 Summit in Glasgow and the issue of climate change; the status of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $1.75 trillion economic plan; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the controversy over vaccine mandates, and vaccines approved for kids; the Supreme Court’s hearing of the Texas abortion law case; and the Atlanta Braves’ victory over the Houston Astros in the 2021 World Series were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

| August 11, 2021

Phil Valentine Update: Doctors Focusing on Lungs. The latest update on the status of WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7” afternoon drive host Phil Valentine published by Newsweek indicates that doctors “are focusing on treating the lungs of conservative talk radio host Phil Valentine, in what his family has described as a ‘critical issue.’” Valentine contracted COVID-19 in mid-July and as the viral infection got worse, he was hospitalized and eventually put on a ventilator. Dan Mandis is the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm host on the station and has been communicating with Valentine’s listeners on behalf of his family. He wrote on Monday, “They are working on his lungs, that’s the critical issue right now. Other problems will come along but right now the focus is on his lungs. I’m hoping to have another update soon. #PrayForPhil.” The day before, Mandis posted, “Phil remains in critical condition this morning. There isn’t much new to report, but your continued prayers and support are appreciated. #PrayforPhil,” and later added that Valentine’s atrial fibrillation had improved, as well as his blood pressure. “The hope now is that his dependence on the vent will decrease and his lungs will improve.” The Newsweek piece also quotes Valentine’s longtime producer Johnny B saying, “I know I’d be emotional about this, but not to the point that I have. It’s been a very dark period, actually. I’ve really had to talk to myself, and my wife has helped me tremendously, my family’s helped me, and it’s not been easy. And my co-workers too have been very wonderful,” adding that Valentine is “just the nicest guy and loves to help people out.”

Round Two of July 2021 PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s July 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s July 2021 survey period covered June 24 – July 21. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM remains ranked #11 after tacking on one-tenth for a 3.7 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) finish. Meanwhile, Hubbard Radio’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM rises to #1 on the strength of a 1.1 share uptick and an 8.8 share finish. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston stays in the #9 position after dropping two-tenths and wrapping the survey with a 3.5 share. Sister all-news WBZ-AM is also steady at #5 after adding two-tenths for a 5.9 share finish. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM takes over the #1 rank after climbing 1.9 shares to a 7.8 share while Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO-AM/FM drops from #1 to #4 after falling two-tenths to a 6.3 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as the first round) here.

Nielsen’s Audio Today 2021 Study Says AM/FM Listening Hits Highest Level in Over a Year. The just released Audio Today 2021 study from Nielsen Audio – from June 2021 online survey data based on a weighted sample of 1,000 among persons 18-plus – indicates “nine in 10 now feel life is becoming more normal, and they’re resuming pre-pandemic activities, spending and listening.” The study also finds that, “among the employed, two thirds are now working outside the home, up more than 70% since the height of lock-down in the spring of 2020. As a result, the AM/FM radio audience just recorded its highest levels in over a year across Nielsen’s PPM markets.” Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly adds, “Listening may have migrated into the home during the past year via smart speaker or mobile device, but now we’re tracking the audience shift back to pre-pandemic habits with in-car and out-of-home consumption increasing. All the while, radio’s value proposition for marketers hasn’t budged: it specializes in reaching consumers who are ready to spend right now, while they’re in the marketplace, and does so in a controlled environment which protects the advertiser’s reputation… Elsewhere in the audio universe, podcast usage — which flat-lined last year — is also growing again as millions of new listeners are engaging with the hottest new audio marketing opportunity. We’re approaching one million available podcasts, with something literally for everyone including radio broadcasters who are nimbly using on-demand audio as an extension of their on-air brands. The question now is how can advertisers reach the right audience in the right podcast?”

Gow Media’s SportsMap Radio Network Adds Three New Shows. The SportsMap Radio Network announces the launch of three new programs to its weekday lineup. They are: “Just Sayin It with Cole Thompson” (5:00 am to 7:00 am ET), “In My Opinion with Denton Day” (9:00 am to 11:00 am ET), and “High Frequency with Kevin Dziepak” (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET). Thompson, who covers the NFL and college football for Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation, says, “This is the start of something special. I just can’t thank the staff here at SportsMap enough for giving me the chance. Not everyone is lucky enough for this opportunity, but I will certainly make the most of it.” Day states, “I’m extremely thankful for the chance to host a weekday show. I started at the company nearly three years ago doing one live hour on Sunday mornings. Craig Larson and David Gow allowed me the creative freedom to grow and it’s very rewarding to have all that hard work lead to this exciting opportunity.” Dziepak, who spent the last eight years with WSCR, Chicago “670 The Score,” comments, “My goal is really simple: just have fun and try to provide an entertaining and enjoyable product for those listening. I want to widen the scope of the show beyond sports as well, integrating pop culture, TV, music and whatever else can spark conversation; sort of a cosmic gumbo.” Gow Media CEO David Gow states, “We have a number of partners who produce fabulous content for our network. I’m very excited about each of these new shows. The opportunity to produce original, informative and entertaining programs will always be an indispensable part of our core business model.”

Paul Mason to Lead Titans Radio for Cumulus Nashville. Programming pro Paul Mason is appointed to lead programming operations for Titans Radio for Cumulus Media Nashville. The company says that Mason will continue to serve as program director for sports talk WGFX-FM “104.5 The Zone” and Middle Tennessee sports audio. The appointment comes after Cumulus and the NFL club extended their multi-year partnership for WGFX to serve as the official radio broadcasting home of the Tennessee Titans and Titans Radio. Longtime executive producer Rhett Bryan remains in his role with Titans Radio. Cumulus Nashville vice president and market manager Allison Warren comments, “From the beginning, we were seeking a creative visionary with a passion for sports entertainment to lead ‘104.5 The Zone,’ the dominant sports destination in Middle Tennessee. Clearly, Paul has stepped into that role and done exceptional work. Adding programming operations oversight to Titans Radio is a natural next step for Paul and we are confident he’ll continue to deliver the best live and local sports content to fans on both WGFX and Titans Radio.” Mason states, “I am excited to work with this amazing group of broadcasters. Mike Keith, coach Dave McGinnis, executive producer Rhett Bryan, and the entire Titans Radio team are among the best in sports, and I’m humbled to be a part of it. I also want to thank Allison Warren and [VP of programming operations] Charlie Cook for their confidence in me.”

TALKERS News Notes. Electronic voting firm Dominion Voting Systems is suing conservative video platforms OAN and Newsmax for defamation, alleging that they “manufactured, endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies” about the company, relative to the presidential election of 2020. The complaint says they did so despite knowing the claims were false. Newsmax has issued the following statement regarding the suit: “While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the president, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.”…..Focus360 announces that Forever Media is now a client as 29 Forever Media brands will be included in Focus360’s exclusive Jelli Plus networks including Jelli Male Plus, Jelli Female Plus and Jelli Music Plus. Focus360 CEO Phil Brown comments, “I’m elated to welcome such a storied media company to our Jelli Plus lineups. Forever Media covers some of the largest markets on the East Coast with incredible brands that super-serve their local audience. I’m honored that they have given us the opportunity to share that relationship with our advertising partners.”…..Edison Research unveils the results of its U.S. Top 50 Podcast chart for Q2 of 2021. The list ranks the 50 biggest podcasts by audience size, based on the Podcast Consumer Tracking Report (which Edison says is the only measurement based on actual listening, not downloads). The top three shows based on measurement from Q3 2020 – Q2 2021 are: “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “The Daily,” and “Crime Junkie.” You can see the rest of this Top 50 report here…..Public radio outlet WVXU, Cincinnati – operated by Cincinnati Public Radio – is dropping its music programming and will go all news/talk as of August 14, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The organization says its goal is to “bring a wider diversity of voices to Cincinnati airwaves.” It will use NPR, American Public Media, and other programming to fill its schedule.

Longtime Public Radio Broadcaster Neal Conan Dies at 71. The NPR website has Neal Conan’s obituary here. Conan passed away in Hawaii after a battle with glioblastoma. He was host of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” for 11 years, until NPR cancelled the show in 2013. During his lifelong public radio career, he served with WBAI, New York and with NPR in numerous capacities, including as executive producer of “All Things Considered” and as news director.

COVID-19 Delta Variant & Masks Controversy, Cuomo Resigns, Infrastructure Bill/Dems’ Budget Resolution, Senate GOP Blocks Voting Bill, Social Media Suspensions, Dominion Lawsuit, and Prince Andrew Sued Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/10). The rate of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. and the hotly debated mask policies for school children; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigns yet maintains innocence; the U.S. Senate passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution; Republicans in the Senate block Democrats’ attempts to revive the For the People voting act; Twitter suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene and YouTube suspends Rand Paul for “pandemic misinformation”; electronic voting firm Dominion sues OAN and Newsmax over “stolen election” broadcasts; and Britain’s Prince Andrew is sued by Virginia Giuffre for sexual abuse were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.