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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

| November 20, 2019

WIBC, Indianapolis Talk Host Tony Katz Speaks with VP Pence at White House Radio Row. In the photo above taken at yesterday’s White House Radio Row on the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, WIBC-FM, Indianapolis morning host and syndicated late morning personality Tony Katz (right) interviews Vice President Mike Pence (left).  Katz says he was one of just three talk hosts to interview Pence at the daylong event that featured a number of GOP members of Congress and Trump administration officials speaking with the invited group of radio hosts.  Pence’s comments to Katz on the China-Hong Kong tensions made national news, with the VP saying, “The president has made it very clear; it would be very hard to do a deal with China if there is any violence or if that matter is not treated properly and humanely.”

Lori Lewis Launches Social Media Consultancy. Social media and radio pro Lori Lewis announces the launch of her social media consultancy firm, Lori Lewis Media.  She says her firm offers “brands the most affordable way to finally put a social media strategy in play with proven, winning tactics to drive audience and revenue growth.”  Lewis served for three years as vice president of social media for Cumulus Media and Westwood One.  Prior to that, she was director of digital and social strategy at Jacobs Media.  She’s also worked in the radio industry as a programmer and talent.

FOX Sports Radio Reports October Audience Growth. The sports audio network cites October 2019 data for its radio and streaming ratings as well as podcast listens, reporting record audience totals.  FOX Sports Radio – a division of Premiere Networks – says that “The Herd with Colin Cowherd achieved its “single greatest month in average quarter hour audience, growing +31.4% with Adults 25-54 and +36.2% with Men 25-54.”  “Outkick the Coverage with Clay Travis” “had its best AQH month ever in October, increasing +38.3% with Adults 25-54 and +53.5% with Men 25-54.”  Also, FOX Sports says it posted its largest streaming audience in the history of the network with total listening hours increasing +21% year-to-year in October 2019.  The network also set another record for total monthly podcast listens in October, reaching more than 11 million monthly listens.

Entercom Adds Local News Content on Google Assistant. Leveraging the power of its all-news radio stations, Entercom is adding local news audio content to the new “Your News Update,” on the Google Assistant.  Entercom says that through this partnership, local content from stations including 1010 WINS and WCBS 880 in New York, KNX 1010 News Radio in Los Angeles, WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, Newsradio 1080 KRLD in Dallas, WWJ News Radio 950 in Detroit, KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia, KCBS All News in San Francisco and News Radio 1120 KMOX in St. Louis will be featured as part of the “Your News Update” platform.  This follows the stations’ exclusive participation as part of the platform’s beta-testing phase.  “Your News Update” will showcase a mix of short news stories chosen in that moment based on users’ interests, location, history, and preferences, as well as the top news stories from publishers from around the world including Associated Press, FOX News, Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter and more.

Vanessa Wojtusiak Named VP of Marketing for iHeartMedia Hartford/New Haven. Marketing pro Vanessa Wojtusiak joins iHeartMedia Hartford/New Haven as vice president of marketing.  The markets include news/talk WPOP-AM, Hartford and WELI, New Haven plus sports talker WUCS-FM, Hartford and WAVZ-AM, New Haven.  Wojtusiak joins iHeartMedia from Nexstar’s WTNH-TV, New Haven where she most recently served as the director of audience development and executive digital producer.  She’s also served as national director of social marketing for iHeartRadio, an online marketing manager for WHTZ, New York “Z100” and the marketing assistant for WXKS-FM, Boston “KISS 108.”  She says, “I am thrilled to be back home where I started my media career 18 years ago.  Radio has been my longstanding passion and a medium that still has a meaningful and powerful presence in local communities.  I can’t wait to keep elevating the iconic local brands alongside a very talented team.”

TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand is continuing his watch over the sports talk radio scene in New York and reports that current WFAN 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm personality Bart Scott is expected to jump across town to ESPN-owned rival WEPN as co-host of the show in the same time slot.  ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith – currently hosting the ESPN Radio network show in that daypart – is leaving his radio duties with the company for more TV work, leaving that time slot open.  He also says sources indicate current WFAN midday team Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts are odds-on favorites to assume the afternoon drive show on WFAN when Mike Francesa moves to the RADIO.COM platform.  Read his column here…..iHeartRadio launches a new branded podcast in collaboration with T-Mobile for Business, titled “This Time Tomorrow.”  In it, podcast hosts Oz Woloshyn and Karah Preiss look closely at how innovations in 5G connectivity will revolutionize the way people work, socialize, and interact with the world…..Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa  launches its 14th annual Stories of Light fundraiser to benefit Make-A-Wish Oklahoma.  The goal is to raise $300,000 during the three-day radiothon.  The KRMG team moves its entire broadcast to LaFortune Park in Tulsa for the radiothon and encourages listeners to stop by with donations.  This event has raised more than $3 million since its inception…..SiriusXM and Amazon announce that SiriusXM’s On Demand library is now available to subscribers with Amazon Alexa and Echo devices, as well as several third-party devices with Alexa built-in.  The move allows subscribers with streaming access to simply ask Alexa to play their favorite SiriusXM shows and compelling content whenever they want it.

Edison Research Unveils ‘Podcast Consumer Tracker’ Report. This new report from Edison Research is what the company calls “the first successful endeavor to present a unified look at audience information at the publisher/network level.”  It says the Podcast Consumer Tracker also contains “competitive intelligence, audience demographics, and sales targeting information for podcast publishers and networks.  It currently has 10 charter subscribers, including NPRPodcastOne, Wondery, ESPN, WarnerMedia, and “other significant publishing and agency partners.”  While the comparative rankings of publisher networks are available only to subscribers, Edison offers some of the findings of its first report: “The Joe Rogan Experience” is the leading podcast in terms of reach amongst weekly podcast consumers; there are significant content consumption differences between iPhone and Android users, rendering ‘Top Podcast’ charts derived exclusively from users of either to be unrepresentative of total listening behavior; and while the study tracks the relative reach of the top podcast networks, 54% of weekly podcast consumers have listened to an unaffiliated, independent podcast in the last week.  Edison Reasearch SVP Tom Webster says, “This is the first study in the podcast space to tackle a universal measure of reach.  There are, of course, various charts of downloads that cover parts of the overall universe, but those either reflect only a portion of the podcast audience, or they only measure publishers that opt-in.  The Podcast Consumer Tracker’s goal is a truly inclusive measure of the comparative penetration of the leading publishers and networks.  In that, we have been highly successful.”

Impeachment Hearings/Ukraine Allegations, 2020 Presidential Race/Atlanta Debate, Epstein Guards Charged, Israel-Syria Skirmish, and Hong Kong University Siege Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/19). This week’s impeachment testimony about the allegations of President Trump’s impropriety with regard to Ukraine military aid; the Democrats hoping to challenge President Trump in 2020 and tonight’s debate in Atlanta; the charges being filed against the Manhattan prison guards on duty when Jeffrey Epstein died are charged as the investigation continues; Israel fires at Iranian military targets in Syria; and the Hong Kong University siege were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

The Story of The Fisher House Foundation. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian writes about the birth and growth of the Fisher House Foundation and its harnessing the “power in radio” to raise awareness of the organization’s mission.  As regular TALKERS readers are probably aware, the Fisher House Foundation builds comfort homes where family members of military personnel and veterans can stay while their loved one is in the hospital.  Since its inception, the Fisher House estimates it has saved families $451 million in out-of-pocket costs for housing and transportation.  How the Fisher House Foundation began and how its relationship with radio – especially news/talk radio – is an interesting story.  Read Mike Kinosian’s piece here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  In Los Angeles, entertainment, news & traffic reporter Lisa May announces she’s leaving the “Frosty, Heidi & Frank” morning show at Meruelo Media’s classic rock KLOS, effective December 13.  The longtime Los Angeles radio personality is moving to Palm Springs to work in the personal fitness business…..A surprise on Long Island as longtime adult contemporary WALK-FM morning drive personality Mark Daniels exits the station.  Newsday reports the 63-year-old Daniels has been with Connoisseur Media’s WALK since 1985.  Daniels’s on-air partner Jamie Morris is staying on and will be part of the new morning show set to debut in January…..YEA Networks announces that the “Tino Cochino Radio” show is being added to the programming lineup on hip hop KQKS, Denver “KS 1075,” its first Entercom-owned affiliate station.….On Friday (11/22), the iHeartRadio album release party with Coldplay, celebrating the release of Everyday Life takes place.  The hour-long on air special will feature a performance and an exclusive interview hosted by iHeartRadio on-air personality, Harms.  It airs at 8:00 pm local time on iHeartMedia alternative and triple A stations…..BMI announces the appointment of Nexstar Media Group president and CEO Perry Sook to the BMI board of directors, effective January 1, 2020.   Board chair Michael J. Fiorile says, “We’re extremely pleased to welcome Perry Sook to the BMI board of directors.  Perry has achieved incredible success at Nexstar and we know he will be a valuable addition to the board as we continue our mission of protecting the rights of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and advocating for the value of music.”

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

| June 5, 2018

Cumulus Media Emerges from Chapter 11. The company said it would emerge from Chapter 11 reorganization during the second quarter of this year and that turns out to be the case.  In a statement, Cumulus Media says it has “successfully completed its financial restructuring and emerged from Chapter 11 having reduced its debt by more than $1 billion.  The Company plans to utilize its enhanced financial flexibility to continue its ongoing business transformation and drive value creation on behalf of all its stakeholders.”  Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner adds, “Over the last two years, we have been relentlessly focused on our plans to turn the Company around, and the completion of our financial restructuring process is a monumental step forward on our turnaround path.  We emerge today as a stronger and more competitive Company, with the financial foundation that we need to move forward decisively with the initiatives that will produce the greatest benefits for the Company.  With this financial restructuring now behind us, we are excited about what we will be able to accomplish with all of our resources and energy fully focused on our operating business.”  In the statement, Cumulus reports that it reduced its total debt balance from $2.34 billion to $1.30 billion, consisting entirely of a term loan bearing interest at LIBOR plus 450 basis points and due May 15, 2022.  “Also, pursuant to the terms of the financial restructuring, the Company’s previously outstanding equity was cancelled and certain former stakeholders are being issued 11,052,211 shares of the Company’s Class A common stock, 5,218,209 shares of the Company’s Class B common stock and warrants to purchase 3,729,589 shares of common stock in exchange for their prior claims. Except with regard to voting and conversion rights, shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock are identical in all respects.  Generally, the holders of shares of Class B common stock are not entitled to vote on any matters, although such shares are convertible into shares of Class A common stock, subject to FCC rules and regulations and the Company’s governance documents. We have applied to have our Class A common stock listed on The NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol CMLS and, until such time, expect that such shares will be quoted on the OTC Pink Sheets under the symbol CMIA.”

Kathy Smith to Lead Cumulus Eugene, Oregon. At Cumulus Media’s Eugene, Oregon station group, Kathy Smith is the new VP/market manager.  She was most recently Alpha Media Portland’s general sales manager.  Cumulus Eugene includes news/talk KUGN and sports talk KUJZ-FM and four music outlets.  Cumulus EVP Bob Walker says, “We are very pleased to have Kathy leading our team in Eugene.  Her deep experience and true passion for the Pacific Northwest region make her an incredible asset to our six great stations and the community they serve.”

‘97.9 ESPN Hartford’ Names Bob Joyce UConn Sports Executive Producer. At sports talker WUCS-FM, Hartford “97.9 ESPN Hartford,” Bob Joyce is named executive producer for University of Connecticut Athletics content.  Joyce’s duties include serving as the radio voice for Women’s Basketball and Men’s Hockey, handling play-by-play, and working closely with “The Rob Dibble Show.”  He’ll report to iHeartMedia Connecticut program director for sports and talk Ben Darnell.  iHeartMedia Hartford Region president Steve Honeycomb states, “We are excited to have Bob Joyce on our team.  Bob brings continuity and a high-quality professionalism to our UConn content.  He is well known in the market and with UConn fans and we are confident he will bring UConn sports broadcasting to new levels.”

Hayley Tenpas Named WHBY, Appleton Talk Host.  In the Appleton-Green Bay, Wisconsin market, Woodward Communications names Hayley Tenpas host of the afternoon drive “Focus Fox Valley” program that airs from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Tenpas formerly served as news anchor at Scripps’ WGBA-TV, Green Bay.  She is a native of the Fox Valley, having grown up in Hortonville.  She earned her broadcast journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  WHBY brand manager Justin Hull says, “We are excited to welcome Hayley to the WHBY team.  Her passion for the community will be a great addition to our weekday lineup.”

TALKERS News Notes.  On Monday (6/11), 77 WABC Radio in New York is hosting the first GOP primary debate between U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan and former Congressman Michael Grimm.  The station says the two are locked in a “tight and heated race” for New York’s 11th Congressional District.  The one-hour live debate will take place at WABC Radio studios in New York City at 12:00 noon ET and veteran journalist and WABC Radio host and political editor Rita Cosby will serve as moderator as part of the first hour of her talk show with Curtis Sliwa, “Curtis + Cosby.”…..The legal case of St. Louis talk show host Jamie Allman against Emmis Communications and Entercom is being moved from Missouri state court to federal court.  RegularTALKERS readers remember that Allman is suing the two companies for breach of contract after Allman was let go from his KFTK-FM radio show in the aftermath of social media comments he made about Parkland, Florida student David Hogg.  At the time of his firing from KFTK-FM, Entercom was LMAing the station from Emmis as it waited to close on the purchase of the station…..The GCN nationally syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs program is added to the program schedule at KBDB-HD3, Forks, Washington…..Longtime KSL-AM/FM, Salt Lake City talk show host Doug Wright said a final farewell to his listeners on Friday, June 1.  Wright retired from the Bonneville-owned news/talk station after more than 40 years on the air in the market.  To fill the air time left open by Wright’s retirement, Bonneville is expanding the “Dave and Dujanovic” show to 9:00 am to 12:00.

Joe Brewer Promoted at Katz Media Group.  Twenty-two-year staffer Joe Brewer is promoted to president of business operations at Katz Media Group.  Brewer – who started with the company in 1996 – was most recently chief administrative officer.  In this position, Brewer will increase his focus on business operations across Katz Radio Group, Katz Television Group and Katz Digital with the goal of streamlining company processes and aligning all technology and innovation initiatives with company goals.

AWMF to Honor Judy Woodruff at Gracies Awards Luncheon. The leadership of the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces that Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 43rd Annual Gracie Awards Luncheon on June 27 at Cipriani 42ndStreet in New York. The annual Gracies Luncheon honors individual achievement and outstanding programming at the local level for TV and radio, public level for radio, and student level for TV, radio and interactive media.  CNN’s Erica Hill will host the luncheon.   AWMF chair Christine Travaglini says, “The Gracie Awards celebrate the female storytellers who are changing the narrative and pushing boundaries in the quest toward diversity and equality.  Since the beginning of her journalism career in 1976, Judy Woodruff’s connected, well-researched approach is consistently present and illustrates why she is so worthy of this Lifetime Achievement Award. We at AWM and AWMF, through the Gracies, are incredibly proud to honor and celebrate outstanding talent and content for, by and about women.”

Trump-Russia Investigation/Manafort Allegations, Trump Uninvites Eagles to White House, SCOTUS Cake Ruling, Iran Nuclear Deal, Bill Clinton NBC Interview, North Korea Summit, Dwight Clark Dies, NBA Finals, and Major League Baseball Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/4). The investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents and allegations that Paul Manafort attempted to tamper with witnesses; President Trump uninvites the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House; the Supreme Court rules in favor of Denver baker who refused to make wedding cake for gay couple; the aftermath of the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal; Bill Clinton’s reaction to being questioned about Monica Lewinsky on “Today” show interview; the status of the U.S.-North Korea summit; San Francisco 49ers great Dwight Clark dies at 61; the Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

BFoA Establishes Joseph M. Bilotta Memorial Fund. The Broadcasters Foundation of America has established the Joseph M. Bilotta Memorial Fund in honor of the broadcaster who died this past Friday (6/1) at age 69 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.  BFoA president Jim Thompson states, “Joe was a friend and champion of the Broadcasters Foundation and our industry. He devoted time and energy to advancing broadcasting and to helping colleagues in need.  He will be missed by many, personally and professionally.”  Bilotta spent more than 40 years at Buckley Broadcasting where he helped build the group’s standing through such noted stations as WOR-AM, New York and WDRC-AM and WDRC-FM in Hartford.  Bilotta was saluted by his colleagues in April with the coveted Ward L. Quaal Leadership Award, given by the Broadcasters Foundation of America at a breakfast ceremony held during the 2018 NAB Show.  To donate to the Joseph M. Bilotta Memorial Fund, please visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org, call 212-373-8250, or email info@thebfoa.org.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Joining Envision Networks as assistant marketing manager is Kelsey Shawgo.  She comes to Envision with a background in writing and music journalism.  She has been published in Substream Magazine, Fashion Meets Music Festival Magazine, and was a staff news writer and features writer for Alternative Press before joining Envision Networks. She also has worked in promotions for the now-Entercom-owned Cleveland station cluster.  Envision says, “Kelsey’s acumen for millennial sentimentalities with a focus on new media and creative content will enhance Envision Networks’ marketing team.  She aims to strengthen the brand voice of Envision Networks in all written and graphic content including public relations, social media, and the monthly journalistic Envision Insider newsletter…..iHeartMedia announces the primetime lineup for its iHeartRadio Music Festival taking place in Las Vegas September 21 and 22.  Performers include: Justin Timberlake, Jack White, Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey, Imagine Dragons, Jason Aldean, Sam Smith, Luke Bryan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Panic! At The Disco, Kelly Clarkson, Shawn Mendes, Kygo, Rae Sremmurd, Logic, and more…..iHeartMedia Chicago announces that market radio pro Lisa Dent is joining country WBGG “BIG 95.5” to host weekend programs.  Dent previously co-hosted mornings on Entercom’s crosstown WUSN-FM in Chicago for 10 years before launching her first business, Lisa Dent Speaks, LLC, and building her own studio, The Radio Farm…..Cumulus Media’s Atlanta CHR WWWQ “Q100” launches a new online destination called Q-U at quatlanta.com.  Cumulus says Q-U “puts listeners first with video content that brings together the ‘Q100’ listening community in a new way and includes original content from listeners who share their lives with others who have a passion for hit music.  Q-U tackles issues affecting young adults on a daily basis, including relationships, jobs, college loans, family and activism.”  Cumulus Media Atlanta VP and market manager Sean Shannon adds, “Q-U builds the ‘Q100’ brand and elevates and transforms the standard ‘we talk, you listen’ format to a truly integrated conversational fan experience.  We couldn’t be more excited to launch this innovative new destination for Atlantans who love hit music.”…..Westwood One’s nationally syndicated “Ty, Kelly and Chuck” program is broadcasting live from the George Jones Museum in Nashville during this week’s CMA Fest.  Each morning’s live broadcast inside The George Jones is free and open to the public.