iHeartMedia Begins Massive Layoff of Air Talent. The exact number of personalities let go is not known at this point, but as iHeartMedia issued a press release yesterday explaining its new Markets Group management structure designed to “take advantage of the significant investments it has made in technology and artificial intelligence and its unique scale and leadership position in the audio marketplace,” it was firing local air personalities it deems not necessary to the company’s future success. iHeartMedia, like every other radio company, faces intense competition for listeners from digital music services and digital spoken-word platforms. Dayparts that aren’t crucial to a station’s revenue – usually nights and overnights – are often seen as not needing live, local jocks, especially when the company produces quality national programs to fill those hours. As for news/talk and sports talk hosts, the cost of maintaining a show with two or more personalities plus a producer is sometimes more than income from spot sales and other revenue streams can provide. iHeartMedia’s statement on the “employee dislocation” is as follows: “We are modernizing our company to take advantage of the significant investments we have made in new technology and aligning our operating structure to match the technology-powered businesses we are now in. This is another step in the company’s successful transformation as a multiple platform 21st century media company, and we believe it is essential to our future – it continues our momentum and adds to our competitiveness, our effectiveness, and our efficiency with all our major constituencies. During a transition like this it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some shifts in jobs – some by location and some by function – but the number is relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500. That said, we recognize that the loss of any job is significant; we take that responsibility seriously and have been thoughtful in the process.” Some of those in the spoken-word formats who’ve exited the company include: Kerry Belkin, producer, WFXJ, Jacksonville; Leland Conway, host, WHAS, Louisville and WLPA, Lexington; Big Jim Donovan, host, WSYR, Syracuse; Andrew Downs, program director, KXNO, Des Moines; Jim Fisher, host, WOC, Quad Cities; Seth Harp, programmer and host, WFXJ, Jacksonville; Carl Harris, creative services director, Tampa Bay cluster; Travis Justice and Heather Burnside, hosts, and Sean Roberts, producer, Pete Kaliner, host, WWNC, Asheville, NC; Dave Levora, morning host, WOC, Quad Cities; Mike Lucas, host, WTSO, Madison; Ross Peterson and Chris Williams, hosts, KXNO, Des Moines; Jake Query and Derek Schultz, hosts, WNDE, Indianapolis; Chip Ramsey, weekend producer, WERC, Birmingham; John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford, hosts, WKRD, Louisville.
Brian Sussman Exits KSFO, San Francisco. Eighteen-year KSFO, San Francisco talk show host Brian Sussman announces he’s leaving the Cumulus Media station where he’s been hosting the morning drive show. Sussman says that in April of 2019 he resigned due to an impasse in contract negotiations, but soon thereafter reached a temporary agreement to host the show four days per week through December (his brother, Brad Sussman, hosted the fifth day). But in October, Sussman was required to go on medical leave through the remainder of the year. That affected his plans for continuing into 2020. He tells TALKERS magazine, “Fortunately, I’m feeling great, but clearly all those years of scant sleep and starting show prep at 3:00 am finally caught up with me. The KSFO listening family – both locally and nationally – are such a loyal band of patriots. But what I’ll miss the most about our show is working with the best producer in talk radio, Sheri Yee, and my lovely and super-hilarious sidekick, Katie Green. Thankfully, Brother Brad has been doing a great job filling in for me and I hope he’s the future! Meantime, I appreciate KSFO’s management team for having been so considerate these past few months.”
Impeachment, Presidential Race/Democratic Debate, Iran Protests, U.S.-China Trade Negotiations, Royal Family Controversy, Philippine Volcano Eruption, and MLB Sign Stealing Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/14). The impeachment articles against President Trump set to move to the Senate; the Democrats hoping to challenge Donald Trump in November and last night’s debate in Des Moines; the protests in Iran over the Islamic Republic’s accidental shooting down of the Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752; the Trump Administration’s progress in trade negotiations with China; the controversy over Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s stepping back from royal life; the deadly eruption of Taal Volcano in the Philippines; and the MLB’s handling of the sign stealing scandal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Comrex Announces New Firmware in Conjunction with ACCESS MultiRack. News from Comrex Corporation reveals that the company has released firmware version 4.5p2, a new update for its line of IP audio codecs. This new firmware version is being released in conjunction with ACCESS MultiRack – a new multi-instance codec that provides seamless integration of all functions with legacy single-instance ACCESS codecs. This new firmware simplifies CrossLock connections between the new ACCESS MultiRack and legacy Comrex IP audio codecs. It replaces an older Adobe Flash-based GUI with an HTML5 web-based GUI as the default user interface. This new interface avoids the security risks posed by Adobe Flash, and is supported by all browsers. Users can upgrade their Comrex IP audio codecs using the free Device Manager application which can be downloaded here. If a user is updating a device from FW version 2.7.1 or earlier, they can contact Comrex Support for assistance.
TALKERS News Notes. Pictured here is Westwood One News correspondent Steve Kastenbaum covering last night’s Democratic presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder notes that the hosts of WSCR, Chicago’s weekly golf show, “The Scorecard on The Score,” – Ed Sherman and Steve Olken – are leaving the station. The two have hosted the show at the Entercom sports talk station for the past 10 years. WSCR is expected to name new hosts for the show before it returns to the air in March…..KTBB, Tyler, Texas is the newest affiliate of FOX News Radio, subscribing to the FOX 5 Minute News Service on January 6…..FOX News Channel and FOX News Radio star Brian Kilmeade visited affiliate station WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta in December and senior operations and program manager Drew Anderssen says, “Few syndicated hosts, if any, create the kind of impact with affiliates and their communities that Kilmeade does. Brian participated in our 29th annual drive to provide Georgia foster children with gifts at Christmas. His impact helped us fulfill wish lists for over 9,000 foster kids, in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul Georgia and the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services!” Pictured below (clockwise from top left) are: Anderssen, “Kilmeade & Friends” senior producer Alyson Mansfield, Kilmeade, WSB traffic anchor Ashley Frasca, and WSB-FM “B95.5” morning personality Tad Lemire.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Beasley Media Group’s urban contemporary WDMK, Detroit “105.9 KISS-FM,” the nationally syndicated “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” is now heard in the 6:00 am to 10:00 am slot. Station program director John Candelaria says, “We are thrilled to have Rickey Smiley join ‘105.9 KISS FM.’ I have watched Rickey ascend to national superstar over the past 20 years and we are excited to have him leading the lineup for the ‘All New 105.9 KISS FM.’ Detroit is ready for a fresh new morning show!”
Cumulus Ups Jeff Brown to SVP. There are new corporate SVP stripes for Jeff Brown as Cumulus Media promotes him from VP/market manager of its Atlanta cluster to senior vice president, Cumulus Corporate. In this new post, Brown will be responsible for regional operations oversight in 26 Cumulus markets and he will report to EVP and co-COO Jon Pinch, who comments, “We are thrilled to be able to promote from within for this high level position. Jeff has the energy, intellect and experience that will make him a valuable resource for our market managers.” Brown states, “It is a tremendous honor to be asked to play a larger role in the development of our ever-expanding platform and the execution of our key strategies. I am truly excited to help drive the continued growth and evolution of Cumulus, as it creates and distributes the very best in entertainment products and services for our listeners, communities and advertisers.” A search for Brown’s replacement at the Atlanta cluster is underway.
Davis Joins Heller in Wisconsin Sports Talk Simulcast. Milwaukee Bucks radio play-by-play voice Ted Davis is becoming part of the Mike Heller show heard on Clear Channel’s WOKY, Milwaukee “The Big 920 Milwaukee” and WTSO, Madison “The Big 1070 AM.” Heller’s program airs from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Davis will join from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The company says Davis will bring 26 years of NBA play-by-play experience to Mike Heller’s show. CCM+E regional market president Jeff Tyler comments, “We are extremely excited to have a pro like Ted join Mike Heller and the rest of our great on-air team. Ted will bring another dimension to the best sports talk line up in Madison. With Ted Davis, the exclusive Wisconsin Badgers broadcast franchises, and more exciting plans on the horizon, we know Madison will continue to embrace ‘The Big 1070’ as Madison’s choice for sports talk and play-by-play.”
Cumulus Q1 Revenue Up 3.7%. For the first three months of 2014, Cumulus Media reports net revenue, on a pro forma basis, was up 3.7%. The company reports “net revenue increased $10.5 million to $292.0 million, from $281.5 million for the three months ended March 31, 2013. The increase was due to $3.1 million in broadcast advertising revenue, of which $2.2 million was from an LMA in Chicago entered into in January 2014 (the ‘Chicago LMA’), offset by a $9.9 million decline in network spot sales and the loss of approximately $2.2 million of third party network station compensation. Broadcast advertising revenue growth also benefited from $13.0 million of reduced producer revenue shares at WestwoodOne. Digital advertising increased $4.5 million due to revenue from our partnership with Rdio and revenue increases from our streaming and digital commerce initiatives. There was a $1.3 million increase in political advertising revenue; and a $1.6 million increase in affiliate license fees and other non-ad-based revenue.” In a statement, CEO Lew Dickey says, “This quarter was marked by the accelerated integration of WestwoodOne. We now expect to complete the two-year integration approximately three quarters ahead of time and will exceed the stated synergies by 5% to 10%.”
NAB Radio Board Makes Appointments. Named to two-year NAB Radio board seats are: Lincoln Financial Media president/chief executive officer Don Benson; Radio One chief executive officer Alfred Liggins; CBS Radio president/chief executive officer Dan Mason; Hubbard Radio chair Ginny Morris; Clear Channel chair/chief executive officer Bob Pittman; and Federated Media vice president Tony Richards. Those appointments take effect in June. Meanwhile, NRG Media president/chief executive officer Mary Quass is unanimously elected to the first vice chair seat of the NAB’s executive committee. Eagle Communications general manager Gary Exline is appointed to fill a vacant board seat, while Jawco Inc. owner John Wharff is appointed to serve until June 2015.
AdLarge Media, Motor Racing Network Team for Exclusive Sales Agreement. The pact is for national advertising sales representation of Motor Racing Network’s NASCAR racing on radio and digital audio platforms. It includes all MRN flag-to-flag coverage, including 51 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and qualifying events; 21 NASCAR Nationwide Series events; 22 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events; and 13 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar championship events. AdLarge Media chief executive officer/co-founder Gary Schonfeld states, “This outstanding addition to the sports properties we represent drives our company forward in network radio sports, and places us at the forefront of auto racing on radio and digital audio. If it has four wheels and goes really fast, you can buy the audio advertising from AdLarge.” The firm’s president/co-founder Cathy Csukas comments, “Each week, millions of radio listeners hear MRN’s vivid descriptions of exciting, fast-paced NASCAR racing action. Their live coverage and in-depth programming produces the kind of consistent listener engagement that national advertisers want. We are excited to partner with MRN again and to deliver their passionate NASCAR audience to our advertisers.” According to MRN president/executive producer David Hyatt, “With Gary, Cathy, and their excellent team, national advertising sales representation is a collaborative partnership that generates success for advertisers and affiliates. Their independent status allows them to be adaptable and innovative. They create customized campaigns that connect advertisers with NASCAR fans.” AdLarge is seeking a sports sales executive who will be dedicated to this undertaking. Chief revenue officer/radio sales Don Wachsmith remarks that, “It is imperative we expand our sales management to include a focused sports sales leader to spearhead our national advertising sales efforts with MRN’s motor sports coverage.” This is MRN’s 45th consecutive year covering NASCAR; more than 600 radio stations carry the broadcasts.
Cool Job Opportunities. “Think CNN with a hint of the Daily Show!” We’re on the hunt for America’s SMARTEST, most authentic, engaging, entertaining news personalities – real people who can react to, comment on and amplify the news… and do it in short, 3-minute segments. These are NOT “anchor” positions, we’ve got that covered. It’s not a talk show. It’s a true INTEGRATION of news and personality. If you…are a world-class storyteller, talk TO the listener, not AT them, eat, sleep and breathe news, are smart (but not cerebral), have a point of view but aren’t an ideologue, understand what “shareable” content is, know how to integrate social media, are comfortable with the fact that NEWS is the DNA of the radio station (your job is to generate TSL), are a winner and a team player and want to work in a highly desirable LARGE market…send cover letter, resume and mp3 of your work to: email@example.com
Odds & Sods. New York market traffic reporter Joe Nolan is recovering after suffering a heart attack over the weekend. Nolan does traffic on WCBS-FM on the Scott Shannon program…..In conjunction with cable’s Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Radio will provide coverage of the 2014 NFL Draft beginning Thursday, May 8 live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Jay Glazer and anchor Don Bell will cover the first three rounds on Thursday and Friday. Weekend coverage will showcase the final four rounds that take place on Saturday…..NBC Sports Radio – the WestwoodOne and NBC Sports Group joint venture – is celebrating a major milestone today as the network announces it has passed the 400 station mark. WestwoodOne COO Charles Steinhauer comments, “We are very proud of the tremendous growth the NBC Sports Radio Network has experienced since inception. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our top-rate talent, producers, and affiliate sales team we are able to continue to extend the reach of this outstanding sports talk content for our listeners and advertisers.”
Nielsen Study Reports Radio Listening at ‘All-Time High’; Hispanic and African America Audience Makes Up Almost 30%. In its quarterly State of the Media: Audio Today report, Nielsen concludes radio listening in the United States reached an all-time high with 244 million Americans listening to the radio each week – that’s 92% of all Americans 12-plus. But this report dives into the numbers of Hispanic and African American listeners. The increase in total 12+ cume for each demographic was not dramatic – Hispanic listening went up 1.4% from last March to this, and African American listening rose just 0.6% during the same period. But the report notes interesting conclusions about usage. For example, the top daypart for listening by Hispanics is the midday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and the average time spent with radio each week is 12 hours and 13 minutes. For African Americans, midday is also the top daypart for listening and the time spent with radio each averages 12 hours and 10 minutes. Check out the study here.
Sponsors Quickly React to Less-Than-Sterling Remarks. Fallout over racist comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling continues, as CarMax, Kia, State Farm, and Virgin America pull advertising support from the NBA team. According to a CarMax official, “These views [by Sterling] directly conflict with CarMax’s culture of respect for all individuals. While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for nine years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship.” A Kia official states, “Comments allegedly made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling are offensive and reprehensible. They are inconsistent with our views and values. We are suspending our advertising and sponsorship activations with the Clippers. Meanwhile, as fans of the game of basketball, our support of the players and the sport is unwavering.” Two high-profile Clippers players are spokespersons for two of those advertisers: NBA Players’ Association president Chris Paul for State Farm and Blake Griffin for Kia. A State Farm representative notes that, “The remarks attributed to the Clippers’ owner are offensive. While those involved sort out the facts, we will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization. We are monitoring the situation and we will continually assess our options. We have a great relationship with Chris Paul and will continue supporting the ‘Born to Assist’ advertising campaign involving Chris and now other NBA players.” The Clippers on Sunday lost game four of its playoff series to the Golden State Warriors. It was the highest-rated game of the playoffs so far (ABC-TV), registering a 5.0 overnight rating. In San Francisco (the Warriors play in Oakland), the game had a 9.8, the third-highest-rated first round game on any network in more than a decade.
Indulging in Local Customs. That’s “Into Tomorrow” host Dave Graveline enjoying a shisha while visiting Turkey. Graveline tells TALKERS he’s been in the Mediterranean to serve as moderator at the annual Global Press Conference for IFA – the big consumer tech show that takes place in Berlin every September, from which Graveline broadcasts his show. He explains, “Each year in April, they bring nearly 400 journalists from around the world to a venue in the Mediterranean to talk about the latest trends in consumer electronics, leading up to that trade show. This year I was asked to be emcee for the event.” Graveline says he moderated several panels in addition to the press conference.
Donald Sterling Racist Recording, Obama Asia Trip, Midwest Tornadoes, Kerry Israel ‘Apartheid’ Comments, Russian Aggression/Sanctions, and ObamaCare Criticism Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). The case of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s recorded racist rants; President Obama’s trip to Asia; the deadly tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest on Sunday; controversy over Secretary of State John Kerry’s comment that Israel runs the risk of becoming an apartheid state; new sanctions being levied against Russia and Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression in Ukraine; and scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.