Monday Memo: ‘Mainstream Media’ Redefined. “For several decades,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, “the term has been weaponized, first by scrappy fringe voices railing against legacy networks and newspapers; more recently by FOX News Channel and Rush Limbaugh,” which Cooke finds “ironic, since ratings qualify them as ‘mainstream.’” Now, as Spotify pays former “Fear Factor” host and MMA commentator Joe Rogan a reported hundred million dollars to distribute his podcast, The New York Times pronounces him “the new Mainstream Media.” And after a bystander’s smartphone captured the George Floyd killing, Cooke asks, “Are not We The People now ‘Mainstream Media?’” In special segment on his TV show, Cooke and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison discuss how the publisher/consumer balance of power has shifted, even during the pandemic. To view the segment, please click here. To read Holland Cooke’s entire column, please click here.
Pending Business: Creative Always Counts. Sales and marketing consultant Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications, writes in today’s column that “when it comes to selling a personality live read, audience size often takes a back seat. The power of personality reads is based on the trust the audience has in your on-air talent. The trust between them is real because your on-air talent earns that trust with every show. Until you see it at work for your advertisers, you will never truly understand the sell.” Read his entire column here.
NRG Media Names Allyson Hillman Market Manager for Waterloo, Iowa. Radio management pro Allyson Hillman is named market manager for NRG Media’s Waterloo, Iowa cluster that includes news/talk KXEL-AM, rock KFMW-FM, classic hits KOKZ-FM, and classic country KPTY-AM/FM. NRG Media president and CEO Mary Quass says, “We are thrilled to have Allyson join NRG. She brings extensive experience in management and sales to the market. She understands the importance of NRG’s mission to provide great local radio. We are confident with Allyson’s belief that success comes from a positive culture and strength development that she will continue to develop innovative strategies for the market while providing great local radio.”
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 May 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on news/talk. The weekly, 6+ AQH shares for news/talk stations in our panel are largely coming back down after skyrocketing during the April 2020 PPM survey. Comparing April to May, 65% of news/talk stations regressed while just 24% of news/talk stations improved. Gainers were led by Cumulus Media’s KMBZ-FM, Kansas City (+1.4, 6.8 share) and iHeartMedia’s WKRC, Cincinnati (+0.8, 4.3 share). A year-over-year comparison shows 65% of stations improve while 24% of news/talk stations decline. Stations improving most since May of 2019 include Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta (+4.8, 11.1 share), Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington (+4.1, 9.3 share) and iHeartMedia’s WTVN, Columbus (+4.0, 9.0 share). During the May 2020 survey, six news/talk stations ranked #1 in their respective markets. See the complete report here.
Pittsburgh Play-By-Play Talent Charged with DUI. Radio play-by-play personality Bill Hillgrove has been charged with DUI in Murrysville, Pennsylvania after driving his car through a grocery store’s plate-glass windows. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Hillgrove – the announcer for Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers football games – went into the store to fill a prescription after hitting the building and drove home in his damaged car. Authorities found him there and arrested him after he failed a preliminary breath test.
Trump Tulsa Rally, NY Prosecutor Fired, Bolton Book, Re-Opening of America/COVID-19 Stats, Police Defunding Debate, Presidential Race, and Deadly UK Stabbing Attack Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Saturday’s Trump campaign rally at Tulsa’s BOK Center; Southern District of New York prosecutor Geoffrey Berman is fired by President Trump; the controversy over the tell-all book by former national security adviser John Bolton; states across the country continue re-opening their economies and the COVID-19 statistics and projections; the debate over protestors’ defund the police demands; the presidential race; and the stabbing in England that took the lives of three and is being investigated as a terrorist attack were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Larry Elder Premieres New Film UNCLE TOM: An Oral History of the American Black Conservative. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk host Larry Elder (at center, waving) acknowledging a standing ovation at the Dallas premiere of his new documentary film, UNCLE TOM: An Oral History of the American Black Conservative. Elder is executive producer of the film that explores the personal journeys of black conservatives. Attendees at the premiere included former U.S. Congressman Allen West, 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain, and media personalities, ministers and civil rights activists. SRN V.P. news & talk Tom Tradup says the film is “a groundbreaking documentary that examines self-empowerment and individualism of black conservatives in a compelling, eye-opening perspective.” Elder will talk about the film on FOX News Channel this evening (6/22) when he’s interviewed on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Independent Broadcasters Association Momentum Growing. The movement to create the Independent Broadcasters Association (IBA) is continuing to grow and is approaching its stated goal of 3,000 member stations. The IBA announces that an additional 600 outlets have joined during the past week. The movement was launched by Adams Radio Group CEO Ron Stone when he reached out to 4,000 radio stations gauging their interest in the association. Stone says, “The momentum we are seeing is incredible. We are now up to 424 owners and operators and 2,395 stations. It takes time to build any organization as we all know. To see this kind of growth every week it screams volumes of how much independents need the help this association can deliver. We are going to hit our goal for sure… and very few independents will shy away once the organization is formed and they realize the benefits. It would not surprise me to ultimately have most of the 7,000 independents participating. Our future is in our own hands and we have to make the right choices now.” Stone says benefits of membership in the organization could include: Group Employee Benefits – better coverage and lower prices, and potentially add additional benefits for our employees; Revenue Generation – An unwired network & digital platform supported by a national sales team to monetize for us; Digital Services Group – This would enable continuity across independent stations giving us the opportunity to accomplish double digit digital revenue through Web, Mobile, Alexa, & Streaming; Shared Resources – A system that allows sharing of that talent in non-competitive situations and reduces our dependence on national syndication that requires cash, barter and sometimes both; and Proprietary Systems and Services – Under the umbrella of a member owned association, we can create proprietary systems that we control and eliminate some of the costly monthly per station fees for traffic, accounting, CRM, Yield Management, even automation and music scheduling. Interested stations can visit the IBA website here.
QGoLive RV Radio Road Trip Seeks Affiliate Stations. The RV pictured above is the vehicle QGoLive’s James Copeland is using to tour the country visiting radio stations offering demos of the QGoLive software that enables studio-quality audio from anywhere on any smartphone or computer. AdLarge Media is serving as affiliate sales rep for the service and it notes that QGoLive is already serving more than 100 stations around the country and recently added affiliates such as Cenla Broadcasting of Alexandria, Louisiana; Jam Media; and classic hits WATH-AM and CHR WXTQ-FM, Athens, Ohio. AdLarge’s Jessica Sherman says, “Our QGoLive team are experts in remote broadcasting software. James is on the road to get the word out and to help all operators, large and small, equip their entire team and contributors with remote capabilities. The pandemic has taught us all that radio needs easy solutions for broadcasting from home that sounds great. QGoLive delivers just that, but we can be so much more as broadcasters open up to our new reality”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. On Saturday, June 27, Global Citizen and the European Commission will present “Global Goal: Unite for Our Future – The Concert” hosted by Dwayne Johnson and featuring performances by Shakira, Coldplay, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Quavo, J Balvin, Chloe x Halle, Yemi Alade, and Christine and the Queens. The concert will air on 150 iHeartMedia radio stations as well as on the iHeartRadio app. The purpose of the event is to “combat the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities and to call on world leaders to make COVID-19 tests, therapeutics and vaccines available for everyone, everywhere.”…..Bonneville’s classic rock KUFX, San Jose “98.5 KFOX” officially announces its new morning show “San Jose’s Great Radio Experiment” featuring Joey V, Chris Jackson, and Karina Farias. Station director of programming operations Brian Figula says, “Congratulations to Chris Jackson, celebrating 30 years of rock radio excellence on KFOX. Joey, Chris and Karina’s unique chemistry has already resonated with rock fans all over the South Bay.”…..Reach Media nationally syndicated radio host D.L. Hughley is in quarantine in Nashville after passing out on stage during a performance. While being treated, Hughley was tested for COVID-19 and the result was positive. Hughley said via social media that he was asymptomatic….. Beasley Media Group Detroit radio personalities Mason and Angie Star (WDMK “105.9 KISS-FM), Gello (WMGC “105.1 The Bounce”) and Randi Myles from “The Detroit Praise Network” are hosting a Zoom conference call with community leaders to discuss ways to bridge the gap between residents and the police department to create “Solutions Not Slogans.” The event will take place on Thursday (6/25) at 7:00 pm and will feature Detroit Police Chief James Craig, Washtenaw Sheriff Jerry Clayton, Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Shiefield, Inkster Mayor Patrick Wimberly, and Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren.
iHeartMedia Orders Employees to Take Two Unpaid Weeks of Vacation. Audio giant iHeartMedia is taking another step to help reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on on its business by requiring certain staffers to take two week’s unpaid vacation this year. Here’s an excerpt from the memo sent to all company employees by CEO Bob Pittman and CFO/COO Rich Bressler: “We’re sure you have seen news stories about states’ extended stay-at-home orders and questions about the continuing impact of COVID-19 on businesses across the country, and that includes our business as well. We’ve had to make some difficult decisions which you’re aware of to address the economic impact on our company, and we have done our best to find ways to reduce that impact while avoiding layoffs. Unfortunately, the longer than anticipated shutdown of businesses means that we must do more, with the goal of keeping our business healthy while still avoiding permanent layoffs. Therefore, after reviewing all of our options, we are taking a difficult step but one that we hope will be our last action impacting employee compensation: Requiring that employees who make over $50,000 a year in base compensation – excluding bonuses, overtime or commissions — and who have not already volunteered to take a salary reduction of 5% or more, to take two weeks of unpaid vacation in calendar year 2020, with the first vacation week taking place between now and June 30 and the second vacation week taking place between July 1 and September 30. These two unpaid vacation weeks in total are the equivalent of an approximately 4% salary reduction for the year and must be scheduled with your manager to ensure appropriate staffing at all times.”
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 March 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the news/talk format. As its cousins all-news and public radio news/talk have done, commercial news/talk stations have for the most part earned more listening credit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fifty-four percent of news/talk stations on our panel saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares go up and 20% were unchanged compared to the February 2020 survey. Big gainers included: iHeartMedia’s KFBK, Sacramento up 1.9 shares for a 10.3 share and the #1 rank in the market; Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland up 1.8 shares for a 6.7 share and the #3 rank; and iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati up 1.8 shares for a 10.1 share and the #1 rank. Looking at year-over-year changes, 64% of news/talk stations were up from March 2019 with a number of outlets making huge gains. They include: Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta adding 5.8 shares to finish March 2020 with a 12.9 share; KFBK, Sacramento rising 4.1 shares for a 10.3 share; iHeartMedia’s WTVN, Columbus climbing 3.9 shares for a 9.4 share in March 2020; and Entercom’s KFTK-FM, St. Louis going up 3.3 shares to a 5.5 share. There were five news/talk stations that ranked #1 in their PPM markets in March, see which ones in Mike Kinosian’s report here.
NRG Media’s Omaha Stations Presenting Live COVID-19 Town Hall. News/talk KOIL-AM and sister sports talk stations KOZN “1620 The Zone” and KZOT “1180 Zone 2” are presenting a COVID-19 town hall broadcast titled, “Omaha – The New Normal,” this evening (4/29) from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The program will feature key figures in politics, education, athletics, the medical field, and the non-profit industry. NRG Media says company personalities Mike’l Severe and Matt Tompkins “will take a deep dive into the new normal with Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon; Governor of Nebraska Pete Ricketts; Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert; Omaha Public Schools superintendent Cheryl Logan; University of Nebraska Medicine chief of internal medicine Dr. Mark Rupp, director of athletics at Creighton University, Bruce Rasmussen; and more.” NRG Media Omaha general manager Mark Shecterle says, “As broadcasters, it’s our job to keep our listeners and the community informed. Our town hall guests did not hesitate when to participate and we are so appreciative. Providing the answers to the questions we are all asking is very much needed in Omaha. I’m just thankful we were able to put this together.”
‘Radio Cares: Feeding America Emergency Radiothon Takes Place Tomorrow. Radio stations wishing to take part in tomorrow’s radiothon can do so by visiting RadioCares.org here. It’s being organized by Cumulus Media and Westwood One. The “Radio Cares: Feeding America Emergency Radiothon” will benefit Feeding America and its 200-member network of food banks. It will air across Cumulus’ 424 stations as well as on Westwood One’s programming. Cumulus EVP, content & audience Brian Philips and Adams Radio Group president Ron Stone spearheaded the organization of the event.
U.S. Coronavirus Statistics & Projections, States Begin ‘Re-Opening,’ Health Care System/Testing Capabilities, Pence at Mayo Clinic, China’s Role in Pandemic, Presidential Race/Biden Accusation, and Trump Orders Meat Plants to Stay Open Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/28). The tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections for future cases; several states begin “re-opening” their economies; the preparedness of the health care system to deal with the pandemic and the country’s testing capabilities; Vice President Mike Pence is criticized for not wearing a mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic; questions about China’s role in the coronavirus becoming a pandemic; the November presidential election and the accusation of sexual assault by Joe Biden’s former senate staffer; and President Trump’s ordering meat processing plants to remain open were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Cox Media Group Unveils New Employee-Designed Logo. The new corporate logo for Cox Media Group that you see here is the result of the company’s Design Our Logo Challenge. Hundreds of entries were submitted by employees, before the field was narrowed to three. The finalists were thoroughly vetted through a rigorous series of internal and external research studies, before the winning logo designed by CMG-TV Jacksonville art director Kim Colombero. CMG president and CEO Kim Guthrie says, “The Design Our Logo Challenge was a great success and we were amazed at the level of participation from our people. While we had hoped to launch our new logo in a bigger, public celebration – we simply could not wait any longer to unveil it and share the news with our winning designer.” Colombero adds, “I was both thrilled and humbled to learn that my submission had made it to the final three, let alone that it had been chosen as the winning logo. I am so proud to work for a company that is so inclusive and actively celebrates employees and their work.”
TALKERS News Notes. Research firm Jacobs Media announces it is doing a second national tracking study the week of May 11 on how the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is impacting Americans’ lives, “from the way they shop, to how they are working (or not), to how they consume media.” The first such study took place in mid-March. Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs comments, “The impact of COVID-19 has disrupted broadcast radio, but timely data is key to the industry understanding the new landscape and adapting to it. This second tracking study will provide broadcasters with the quantitative ‘radar’ they need to shape their tactics and strategies.”…..The Society of Professional Journalists is sponsoring a “Day of Giving Back” tomorrow (4/30) in which it is soliciting donations to its fund to support journalists affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The SPJ says, “In these days of COVID-19 exacerbating an already volatile time for the news industry, many journalists are finding themselves furloughed, laid off and left to wonder how they will make ends meet and what will be left of their careers. This is at a time when the news they provide not only informs our lives but saves lives as well.” The Journalists Emergency Fund will provide assistance of up to $500 to help with bills and other living expenses and as this fund is supported through generous donations, these grants do not have to be paid back. You can donate here.…..The Connecticut stations owned by iHeartMedia have launched a website with dedicated resources to help residents navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. WeAreConnecticutStrong.com provides community resources, a listing for local businesses and their hours, hiring and job postings, exclusive interviews with Connecticut leaders, as well as a listing of local nonprofits and charitable causes. The portal is available across all 11 radio station websites. iHeartMedia president for the Hartford region Steve Honeycomb says, “We want to be as accessible as possible to help convey local business messaging through our local radio stations. Small businesses across Connecticut are the cornerstone of the state’s economy and we want to be able to help spotlight them on WeAreConnecticutStrong.com as well as on our airwaves.”…..Entercom’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago was honored with four 2019 Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association Contest awards. The station won the following: Outstanding News Operation; First Place for Best Spot News for “Chicago Public School Teachers Strike”; First Place for Best Sports Report for “69 Cubs”; and First Place for Best Newscast…..iHeartMedia announces it is holding its Annual Meeting of Stockholders on Monday, June 15, 2020, at 2:30 pm ET virtually via live webcast.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Buffalo oldies outlet WECK-AM adds another FM frequency to its multicast. Radio One Buffalo says translator W261EB at 100.1 FM joins the feeder signal 1230 AM and fellow translators W263DC, Tonawanda at 100.5 FM and W275BB, Cheektowaga at 102.9 FM. WECK president and CEO Buddy Shula says, “WECK has always been a stand-alone AM radio station, and as we all know, AM radios have had issues with static and interference over the past decade with more electronic devices vying for frequency space. Our third FM signal in metro Buffalo is truly unique. I am not aware of any AM station in the U.S. that has three FM translator frequencies in the metro, along with the main AM station. It is our chance to provide Buffalo’s #1 oldies station on FM just about everywhere in the Buffalo DMA.”