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Friday, August 7, 2020

| August 7, 2020

NOW POSTED:  This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The latest installment of the vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM in Washington, DC.  This new episode titled “Each Passing Tik of the Clok!” looks back at this past week of August 3-7, 2020.  The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSMike Gallagher, talk show host, Salem Radio NetworkPat McCrory, talk show host, WBT, Charlotte / former Governor of North Carolina; Howard Monroe, talk show host / station owner, WVLY, Wheeling, WV; Levi Browde, executive director, Falun Dafa Information Center; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD (“Freedom 93.7”), Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY;  WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA;  WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED (“Connect FM”), DuBois, PA; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkPioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more.  To listen to this week ’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Salem Media Group Q2 Revenue Down 18.3%. Reporting its financial data for the second quarter of 2020, Salem Media Group says revenue for the quarter was $52.9 million, a decrease of 18.3% compared to the same period in 2019. Operating expenses decreased 9% during the quarter to $53.8 million from $59.1 million. After posting operating income of $5.6 million in Q2 of 2019, Salem reports an operating loss of $0.9 million. Breaking down the report by segment, net broadcast revenue decreased 19.6% to $39.5 million from $49.1 million; Station Operating Income (“SOI”) decreased 43.9% to $6.4 million from $11.4 million; and Same Station net broadcast revenue decreased 17.4% to $38.7 million from $46.9 million; and Same Station SOI decreased 43.9% to $6.5 million from $11.6 million. Salem’s digital media revenue decreased 5.2% to $9.4 million from $10.0 million; and digital media operating income decreased 22.6% to $1.8 million from $2.3 million. Publishing revenue was down 29.8% to $4 million from $5.6 million; and publishing operating loss increased to $1.6 million from $0.1 million.

Entercom’s Q2 2020 Revenue Decreases 54%. The second quarter 2020 financial report from Entercom reveals net revenue was $175.9 million, a decrease of 54% from the $380.7 million reported in Q2 of 2019. Spot revenue declined 65% on a year-over-year basis while digital revenue rose 19%. Entercom reports that reflecting its cost management initiatives implemented to address the pandemic and lower levels of advertising spending, station expenses for the quarter declined 32% to $188.9 million, compared to $277.9 million in the second quarter of 2019 while corporate expenses for the quarter declined 45% to $8.4 million, compared to $15.2 million in the second quarter of 2019. The company reported operating income of $64.8 million in Q2 of 2019, but this year reported an operating loss of $45.3 million (that included a non-cash impairment charge of $4.2 million). Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was a loss of $20 million, compared to income of $87.6 million in the second quarter of 2019. Entercom president and CEO David J. Field says, “While Entercom generated significant revenue and EBITDA growth prior to the pandemic, second quarter results reflect the impact of the national economic challenges that quickly emerged as many advertisers closed businesses and significantly reduced their ad spend. Given our national leadership position in sports, second quarter top-line results were also significantly impacted by the cancellation of virtually all scheduled sporting events during the quarter. Excluding the impact of cancelled sports play-by-play, second quarter revenues declined 47%. However, after bottoming out in April, we have achieved significant sequential improvement every month through the summer with third quarter business on books already 30% greater than where the second quarter finished. The pandemic challenges accelerated our on-going transformation initiatives with a heightened focus on enhancing our business model, accelerating our growth opportunities, more fully integrating our powerful product offerings, and improving our service to both listeners and customers. In this regard, we implemented a range of company-wide initiatives, which lowered second quarter total cash operating expense by approximately $97 million, which exceeded our budget. In addition, we secured our strong liquidity position through an amendment to our credit facility and ended the second quarter with $208 million of cash, up from $189 million at the end of March. Looking ahead, as the country’s #1 creator of original, premium audio content with robust data, analytics and attribution capabilities, scaled audience reach and a leadership position in virtually every segment of the dynamic and growing audio market, including broadcasting, podcasting, digital, events, network, sports and news, Entercom is strategically well-positioned for future growth and performance. Improving revenue trends combined with enhancements to our business model and active management of our balance sheet will enable Entercom to emerge as an even stronger company and build meaningful shareholder value. I want to thank our team for their resilience, dedication, and exceptional work as they have gone above and beyond to serve our listeners, advertisers and communities under the most challenging of circumstances over the past several months.”

Round Four of July PPMs Released. The fourth and final round of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s July 2020 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen’s July 2020 survey period covered June 18 – July 15. You can see all the 6+ data from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Austin, Waterloo Media Group’s news/talk KLBJ-AM tacks on two-tenths for a 5.7 share and the #3 rank in the market. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTKK-FM, Raleigh rises from the #6 rank to #3 after adding six-tenths and finishing the survey with a 6.8 share. Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis inches up one-tenth to a 7.5 share, good for the #4 rank. In Milwaukee, Good Karma Brands’ news/talk WTMJ holds steady at a 5.5 share but rises one spot to the #5 rank while iHeartMedia’s news/talk WISN dips four-tenths to a 6.8 share and the #4 rank. Cumulus Media’s WWTN-FM, Nashville adds two-tenths to wrap the survey with a 4.8 share good for the #9 rank. In Jacksonville, Cox Media Group’s WOKV-FM continues in the #2 rank after dipping four-tenths and finishing with a 9.5 share. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways report here.

NAB’s Gordon Smith Averted Stroke. The report of NAB CEO Gordon Smith’s stroke yesterday (8/6) was premature, according to Smith himself. He issued a public statement that clarifies the original press release from the NAB and thanks people for the outpouring of support he’s received. He says, “Your prayers and kind words have meant the world to me and my family. I am delighted to tell you that after a very extensive MRI last night it was discovered that I did have a blood clot, but thanks to the quick medical intervention I received, an actual stroke was averted.”

Cumulus Media Announces New Employment Agreement with Exec Suzanne Grimes. A new employment agreement between Cumulus Media and Suzanne Grimes has been filed with the SEC. Grimes will continue to serve as executive vice president of corporate marketing for Cumulus and president of Westwood One. The pact runs through December 2022 and includes provisions for automatic one-year extensions. Grimes’ base salary is $650,000 and she’s eligible for performance-based bonuses.

Shaffer Adds APD Duties at ‘104.5 The Zone’ in Nashville. WGFX-FM, Nashville
“104.5 The Zone” morning show producer Jonathan Shaffer adds assistant program director duties to his responsibilities. Cumulus Media says the 14-year Nashville radio pro will continue in his role as morning show producer for the sports talk station. Station PD Paul Mason says, “Jonathan has demonstrated that he is ready for this challenge. He’s earned this opportunity and I look forward to working with him as we move forward toward reaching our goals at ‘104.5 The Zone.’” Shaffer comments, “I am proud and honored to be part of such a talented, committed team at ‘104.5 The Zone’. I am very excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to contributing to The Zone’s continued success.”

iHeartMedia Names Tias Schuster SVP of Programming for West New York. Programming pro Tias Schuster moves from iHeartMedia’s Norfolk, Virginia operations where he was SVP of programming and PD for two of its music brands, to West New York to serve as SVP of programming for Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton. In this new role, Schuster will oversee more than 19 stations in the Rochester, Syracuse, and Binghamton markets. He’ll report to iHeartMedia West New York president Robert Morgan. Schuster says, “It is great to be back with my iHeartRadio family in Upstate New York. I’m honored to work alongside the legendary personalities and management in these markets! I want to give a special thanks to iHeartMedia for the opportunity.”

WIP, Philadelphia’s Howard Eskin ‘Walks to Tampa’ for Charity. Philadelphia sports media figure Howard Eskin is almost three-quarters of the way to Tampa (figuratively speaking) as he continues his PDQ Signature Systems-sponsored, two-month charitable effort. “Howard Walks to Tampa” has the “SportsRadio 94WIP” air personality walking the virtual 1,103-mile distance between the Philadelphia Eagles’ home base of Lincoln Financial Field and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the location of Super Bowl LV, to raise money for fighting local hunger and animal welfare. Money raised from Eskin’s daily walks, which will run through September 13 prior to the start of the Eagles 2020 season, will benefit Philabundance, Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, and the Brandywine Valley SPCA, a nationally recognized leader in progressive and lifesaving initiatives in animal welfare. Eskin says, “It’s been a tough time in our country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Without any games or practices to attend, I needed an escape. So, I started walking. It’s been great for my physical and mental health and raising money for two great charities like Philabundance and Brandywine Valley SPCA makes it even better.” To date, Eskin has walked 736 miles with only 367 miles to go before September 13 and has raised more than $10,000 for Philabundance and Brandywine Valley SPCA.

TALKERS News Notes. There’s a documentary about the rise and fall of former WFAN, New York sports talk personality Craig Carton set to be released on October 7 from HBO Sports and StreetSmartVideo titled, “Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth.” According to a story in the Rockland/Westchester Journal, the film will include Carton talking about his story in his own words. Carton was released early from his three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for fraud in June and is finishing his sentence in home confinement. HBO Sports VP Peter Nelson says, “Craig Carton’s radio persona gained him a public following, while his private struggles lost him everything one casino run at a time. Many knew Carton, but never knew his secrets, as we learn from Carton himself in this documentary about success, self-destruction, lies and blackjack.”…..According to a report in Dmagazine, a documentary film about the life and career of Dallas sports talk radio legend Mike Rhyner is being produced. Dallas media pro Crystal Vasquez – who met the now-retired KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas personality while filling in as a traffic reporter on Rhyner’s “The Hardline” program – is heading up the documentary project. Vasquez tells Dmagazine, “It’s not a documentary on ‘The Ticket.’ That’s his identity to a certain extent, but it’s a story about Mike’s life.”…..The “Bubba the Love Sponge” program adds a new affiliate station in 1TV.Com Inc.’s classic rock KBSZ-AM/K247CF, Apache Junction, Arizona “97.3 The Rattler.”…..Entercom’s all-news 1010 WINS, New York is inviting listeners to a wedding on Sunday! The station reports, “Ashley Isaacs, who works at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and her fiancé Israel Reches (both pictured at left) will reunite for the first time in months at their own wedding after spending time apart due to the pandemic and Reches’ health. As Isaacs was working to save patients with COVID-19 this past spring, Reches was battling stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, forcing the couple to separate. With Reches in remission just in time for the big day, the two are set to marry on Sunday, August 9 in a small backyard ceremony, and 1010 WINS listeners are ‘invited’ to the festivities. The station will be onsite the day of the wedding, airing audio of the ceremony on air and streaming it in its entirety via Facebook Live.”

WWJ News Radio 950 in Detroit Starts ‘Breaking Down the Barriers’ Initiative. Detroit all-news WWJ “News Radio 950” unveils its two-part community programming initiative called “Breaking Down the Barriers” dedicated to celebrating the diversity of the city and its surrounding suburbs. The initiative includes two segments, “Voices of the Community” and “Black Business Minute,” both beginning August 10. “Voices of the Community” is hosted by WWJ traffic operations manager Lloyd Jackson and will profile community leaders, activists, and residents who are making a difference in their neighborhoods and throughout Detroit. “Black Business Minute” is hosted by WWJ city beat reporter Vickie Thomas and highlights local businesses in which Black business owners will discuss their companies, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and how they are contributing to the success of Detroit. It will air five times daily each weekday. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “The diverse citizens of Detroit are an integral part of the fabric of this great city and we’re proud to use our platform to champion their stories. There are countless cases of business owners and leaders helping residents get through this crisis, and we look forward to employing this series as another way to shine the spotlight on them.”

95.5 WSB ‘Care-a-Thon’ Raises $1.5 Million for Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. This year’s 95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon two-day radio event was the 20th annual produced by the Cox Media Group news/talk station and helped raise more than $1.5 million for research and programs at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This year, due to COVID-19, Scott Slade, Clark Howard, Eric Von Haessler, Mark Arum, Erick Erickson, Brian Kilmeade and many other local radio personalities participated in the 95.5 WSB Care-a-Thon by interviewing patients and their families virtually via video and phone calls. The team encouraged listeners to donate and purchase one-of-a-kind experiences throughout the special radio broadcast. WSB director of branding and programming Drew Anderssen says, “Our entire team is so thankful for the phenomenal support we have received from our loyal listeners who continue to give to the Care-a-Thon, and all of our community service efforts at 95.5 WSB, year after year. This year’s fundraiser is one we’ll never forget because of the incredible financial strain coronavirus presented to our community of donors. I’m tremendously proud of the teams at 95.5 WSB and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for their work adapting this year’s effort to become ‘virtual’ as a result of the pandemic.”

The Presidential Race, Politics and the Vote-By-Mail Debate Top News/Talk Stories for Week of August 3-7. The November presidential election, politics, and the controversy over President Trump’s allegation that voting by mail encourages voter fraud were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Tied at #2 this week was the interview with President Trump by Axios reporter Jonathan Swan and Deutsch Bank being subpoenaed by the New York Attorney General in a Trump Organization investigation. Coming in at #3 was the debate over opening schools, followed by health care, medications and the mask debate at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Beasley Media Group announces the cancellation of WKML-FM, Fayetteville, North Carolina’s 2020 Stars & Guitars concert. Beasley VP/GM Kent Dunn says, “Thank you to our amazing sponsor and fans throughout the years for supporting Stars & Guitars event. These are unprecedented times. The safety of our community, staff, and country artists is our number one priority. As a result, we have made the decision to cancel this year’s event. We’ll be back bigger and better than ever in 2021!” To help fill in the gap, WKML-FM has hosted a series of special Stars & Guitars at Home social media concert experiences with some of the top artists in country music on the station’s website as well as entertained listeners with the station’s special Superstar Mini Concert series.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

| July 9, 2020

Round Two of June PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of data from Nielsen Audio’s June 2020 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 June 2020 survey period covered May 21 – June 17. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ratings Takeaways” from this second round of ratings. The intense spike in ratings for news/talk stations that happened during the April survey has halted and many of those stations are seeing weekly, 6+ AQH shares falling off. In Washington, although Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM lost 1.1 shares from the May survey to the June survey, it still ranks #1 in the market with an 8.2 share. Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM, Washington dips four-tenths to a 7.6 share but remains ranked #2. In Boston, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO dips one-half share to a 4.3 share and the #7 rank while sister all-news WBZ-AM rises seven-tenths to a 6.6 share and the #3 rank. Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle loses just one-tenth from May to June and remains ranked #1 with a 7.1 share. Entercom all-news WWJ, Detroit drops three-tenths to finish the June survey with a 5.4 share and the #3 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete “Ratings Takeaways” report here.

Chris Fleming Named EVP at El Dorado Broadcasters. Broadcasting executive Chris Fleming joins El Dorado Broadcasters – operator of radio stations in the Victor Valley, California and Yuma, Arizona markets – as executive vice president for the company and general manager for the Victor Valley cluster. El Dorado operates news/talk KIXW, Victor Valley “Talk 960” and news/talk KBLU in Yuma in addition to seven music brands in the two markets. Fleming was most recently EVP for Neuhoff Media and based in Lafayette, Indiana. El Dorado president Jason Wolff says, “Chris Fleming has a long history of building products and growing revenues in markets of all sizes. I’ve watched from a distance as Chris built tremendous value for Brad Moran at Ramar. Now I’m excited to give Chris the reins and see him guide El Dorado into a successful integrated marketing company with strong radio brands at its core.”

Radio Hall of Fame Announces 2020 Nominees. The nominees for induction into the Radio Hall of Fame as members of the class of 2020 have been announced. At the same time, the RHoF says that this year’s induction ceremony will be a live radio broadcast from multiple locations this October. The exact date and additional details will be announced along with the inductees on August 17. Industry voting in four of the six categories begins Monday (7/13) and listener voting in the other two categories begins on July 20. RHoF chair Kraig Kitchin states, “2020 marks 100 years of radio and, while we regret that we cannot hold an in-person event this year, we’re looking forward to the excitement of a live, multi-location radio broadcast. I want to thank Dennis Green, chair of this year’s Nominating Committee, and all the radio professionals who are volunteering their time and expertise to the difficult task of selecting inductees from such an impressive list.” The first four categories below are voted on by the 600-member industry participant panel and the last two are voted on by listeners.

Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more)
Mark & Brian – KLOS-FM, Los Angeles
Bobby Rich-KFMB-FM, San Diego & KMXZ-FM, Tucson
Bob Rivers-KJR-FM, Seattle
Donnie Simpson-WMMJ-FM, Washington D.C.

Active Local/Regional (10 years or more)
Angie Martinez-WWPR-FM, New York City
Matt Siegel-WXKS-FM, Boston
Elliot Segal-WWDC-FM, Washington D.C.
Bob Stroud-WDRV-FM, Chicago

Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more)
Sid Mark-host, “Sounds of Sinatra”
Joey Reynolds-host, WOR Radio Network
Cokie Roberts-political reporter, NPR
Suzyn Waldman-New York Yankees Radio Network

Active Network/Syndication (10 years or more)
“The Breakfast Club”-Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, DJ Envy, Premiere Networks
Larry ElderSalem Radio Network
Jaime Jarrin-Los Angeles Dodgers Network
Kim KomandoWestStar Radio Network

Music Format On-Air Personality
Whitney Allen-“The Big Time with Whitney Allen,” Westwood One
Bob & Sheri-“The Bob and Sheri Show,” Westwood One
Sway CallowaySirius XM Shade 45 Channel
John Boy & BillyPremiere Networks

Spoken Word On-Air Personality
Glenn BeckPremiere Networks
John & Ken-KFI-AM, Los Angeles
Stephanie MillerWYD Media
“Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me”-NPR

TALKERS News Notes. Talk media personality Michael Smerconish is the subject of a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Writer Ellen Gray interviews Smerconish about his talk radio and talk TV career in advance of the one-hour special that will air on CNN this Saturday at 10:00 pm titled, “Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking.” The show was supposed to be a 12-city tour featuring a two-hour, live stage event but the coronavirus pandemic nixed the tour. Instead, Smerconish filmed the program at the Bucks County Playhouse with a socially distanced crew. Smerconish’s thoughts on political polarization, talk media and more are part of the show and the interview. He hosts a weekend show on CNN and his daily talk show on SiriusXM…..Former FOX News Channel journalist Shepard Smith joins CNBC to anchor a new, one-hour evening news program titled. “The News with Shepard Smith,” airing nightly at 7:00 pm ET. CNBC says the program will debut in the fall and “will cover the most significant news stories of the day and will feature the well-respected, fact-based storytelling that has been the hallmark of his 30-year career.” Additionally, Smith will assume the new roles of CNBC’s chief general news anchor and chief breaking general news anchor as well as executive editor of “The News with Shepard Smith.” Smith says, “Gathering and reporting the news has been my life’s work. I am honored to continue to pursue the truth, both for CNBC’s loyal viewers and for those who have been following my reporting for decades in good times and in bad.” Smith served with FOX News Channel for 23 years before exiting last fall…..The New York TimesMichael Grynbaum reports that Joy Reid is being promoted to the 7:00 pm ET slot at cable news/talk channel MSNBC, effective July 20. Grynbaum writes that Reid “rose to television fame as a sharp critic of President Trump and commentator on liberal politics and race.”  Her new show, “The ReidOut,” takes the time slot long occupied by “Hardball” host Chris Matthews, who exited MSNBC earlier this year in the aftermath of accusations of “sexist behavior in the workplace.”…..Sports talk host Tony Bruno’s show is soon to be heard in Southern California as XEPRS, San Diego “THE MIGHTIER 1090am” adds the show to its lineup in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot. “The Tony Bruno Show” – with co-host Harry Mayes – is syndicated via a partnership between SB Nation Radio and JAKIB Media. XEPRS operator Bill Hagen says, “Adding Bruno to the relaunch of this historic radio station was a true no-brainer. Tony helped invent the entire sports radio genre and it is only fitting that an icon like Tony is on an icon like ‘THE MIGHTIER 1090am.’”

RAB’s ‘Open for Business with Purpose’ Presentation Set for July 22. The RAB announces that as part of its Business Unusual initiative, the next presentation in its Open for Business live video series takes place on July 22 at 1:00 pm ET and is titled “Open for Business with Purpose.” RAB says, “This live video presentation features a panel representing an example of a partnership built for the greater good including a nonprofit organization, brand marketers, and broadcasters who lead by example and unite audiences.” Panelists (pictured above, l-r) include: Maureen Carlson, chief program officer, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals; Whitney McChane, vice president, marketing communications, International Dairy Queen; Quinton Martin, chief of staff, office of the president, vice president community marketing, Coca Cola, North AmericaRoxanne Marati, vice president of sales, Entercom Denver; Sean Shannon, vice president and market manager, Cumulus Media Atlanta. The presentation will include a Q&A moderated by RAB president and CEO Erica Farber. Registration is free for RAB members.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Trump Schools Order/Foreign Students Ban, SCOTUS Birth Control Ruling, Presidential Race, Summer Heatwave, and Sports Leagues Opening Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/8). The rising number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases and deaths; President Trump orders U.S. schools to open in the fall under threat of withholding funds and orders a ban on foreign college students on campus this year; the Supreme Court rules that employers do not have to provide birth control as part of health care plans if they object on religious or moral grounds; the November presidential election; the heatwave affecting much of the U.S.; and the controversy over sports leagues reopening as athletes test positive for COVID-19 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Jennifer Horn is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  One of the hardest working, rising stars in news/talk radio, Jennifer Horn, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  Horn is heard on the air every day on several high-profile venues and serves as the general manager of another. She co-hosts “The Morning Answer” with Brian Whitman on two Salem Media Group Southern California “The Answer” stations – KRLA-AM 870, Los Angeles and KTIE-AM 590, San Bernardino (the Inland Empire) where she also hosts the “Jen and Don” show. In addition, she is co-host of the nationally syndicated “DJV Show” with Doug Stephan. On top of that, this dynamo is the VP/GM of ground-breaking network/content producer, CRN Digital Talk Radio, launched in the early 1980s by her father, Mike Horn. In a fast-paced conversation that covers a lot of bases, Harrison taps into Horn’s conservative perspective on many of today’s hottest issues in addition to exploring the details of her colorful history as a second-generation broadcaster. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. South Florida hot AC WMIA flips to an all-90s format as “Totally 93.9 All 90s All the Time.” iHeartMedia Miami SVP of programming Rob Miller says, “‘Totally 93.9’ is South Florida’s first all 90s station. In these anything-but-normal times, we believe our audience is craving a familiar and nostalgic listening experience that brings back fun memories of their high school and college years, and we think ‘Totally 93.9’ is ‘da’ bomb.’”…..Beginning next week, Westwood One Nashville’s “Nights with Elaina” – hosted by Elaina Smith – will showcase a week of special nights with guest hosts  Trisha Yearwood, Danielle Bradbery, Chrissy Metz (from NBC’s “This Is Us”), Brett Eldridge, Justin Moore, and Rascal FlattsJay Demarcus with his wife Allison. Each night, one artist will host from home and share a night of country music fun with fans. Smith says, “There are few things more comforting than hearing familiar voices every day. Which is one of the reasons radio has been so helpful through this pandemic. I am beyond grateful to all the country stars that have stepped in to hang with our listeners while I can’t be there. This time around we’ve got a really fun mix of artists that I know will keep the positive vibe of the show going as we continue to navigate 2020 together.”…..Sun Broadcast Group announces that the MeTV-FM format picks up a new affiliate station as Langford Broadcasting’s WGTO-AM/W256DV begins airing the format. Owner Larry Langford says, “WGTO AM910 and FM97.1 has been a classic hits station for many years, but we found ourselves competing with higher power stations playing the same tight playlist and voice tracked DJ’s. We needed to try something different. MeTV-FM pulls it off in a way that allows you to enjoy the music flow with creative and entertaining drop ins about the times and the music. We are looking forward to a long relationship in the South Bend, Indiana market!”

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

| June 10, 2020

iHeartMedia Extends Furloughs for 90 Days. As first reported by Billboard, iHeartMedia announces to staffers that it is extending the companywide furloughs for another three months due to the coronavirus pandemic that has “had a significant impact on advertising revenue.” The company says it will be some time before radio station staffing levels will return to full status. This extended furlough for certain staffers will now last through September.

Pennsylvania Attorney Targets Townsquare Media with Investigation. Bensalem, Pennsylvania attorney Howard G. Smith announces an investigation “on behalf of Townsquare Media, Inc. investors concerning the Company and its officers’ possible violations of federal securities laws” in which he’s seeking qualified clients. This comes a day after the company filed a Form 8-K with the Securities Exchange Commission in which it disclosed that it had discovered an error in projected cash flows that were utilized in its valuation model. As a result, the company is reporting an impairment charge of approximately $39.4 million for its licenses and an impairment charge of approximately $69.0 million for its goodwill. It reported that certain financial statements for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019 should no longer be relied upon and would be restated due to the error. Townsquare says it is “reassessing its previous conclusions regarding the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. Based on this assessment, the Company expects to report material weaknesses in the Company’s internal controls and therefore conclude that internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls are not effective.”  Smith says in a press release that “on this news, the Company’s share price fell $1.20, or nearly 19%, to close at $5.28 per share on June 9, 2020, thereby injuring investors.”

KXL, Portland Promotes Three, Adds On-Air Personality. At Alpha Media’s Portland news/talk KXL “FM News 101,” spoken word content director Bruce Collins announces the promotion of three news team members and the addition of another. Current morning and afternoon drive news and traffic reporter Brett Reckamp moves to the co-anchor chair on the station’s “Portland’s Morning News” program. He’s joined by co-anchor Veronica Carter. Previously, she’s served as West Coast regional news director for iHeartMedia and news anchor/reporter for Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM and Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM in Chicago. KXL assistant news director Jim Ferretti is promoted to news director and Jeremy Scott is promoted to full-time morning and afternoon drive traffic reporter. Collins says, “It’s awesome to have such a strong staff and be able to promote from within. With the addition of Veronica Carter and the promotion of key personnel, it puts KXL in an extremely strong position.”

WGN-AM, Chicago Adds ‘Sunday Standards with John Williams’ to Weekends. Chicago heritage news/talker WGN-AM adds a second music program to its weekend programming schedule beginning June 21 with the launch of “Sunday Standards with John Williams.” The Nexstar Media Group station says that following the success of “The Sinatra Hours with Dave Plier,” which ranked #2 with adults 25-54, it’s adding the new program hosted by midday talk personality and Great American Songbook aficionado John Williams to air from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The show will feature a wide range of artists, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, and Burt Bacharach, along with more modern artists like Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow and Amy Winehouse covering those songs. Williams comments, “Some of the hits we play go back 85 years, others go back 15 years. The music is really nice to listen to, and that’s the idea. I think there’s something really big about WGN Radio, a 50,000-watt AM station, energizing this music all over again – and getting people something they need right now.” Left out of the new Sunday program schedule is “The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson” that’s been airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm weekly. WGN general manager Mary Boyle says, “The success of ‘The Sinatra Hours’ has proven there is an appetite for nostalgia. This music is hard to find, and certainly not on free, over-the-air radio. John Williams has a passion for this kind of music, so it’s a natural fit.”

Kevin Wall Takes Over Afternoons on KMZQ, Las Vegas. Talk show host Kevin Wall is joining Kemp Broadcasting’s KMZQ, Las Vegas to handle the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. The station says that “together with morning drive host Heidi Harris, the addition of ‘Live and Local with Kevin Wall’ gives Las Vegas Valley radio listeners more local talk than any other Vegas radio station.” Wall – who has served with such talk outlets as KFI, Los Angeles and KSFO, San Francisco – was most recently hosting a talk show on Royce International Broadcasting’s KBET, Las Vegas. Prior to that he was the afternoon personality on Entercom’s crosstown KXNT. Kemp EVP Marty Basch says, “Now more than ever with what’s happening in our country and locally, KMZQ will have Las Vegas’ only live and local morning show with Heidi Harris, and now afternoons with Kevin Wall. It’s Las Vegas radio’s ‘Dream Team,’”

Bob Adams Exits Saga’s Portland Station Group. According to a story in the Portland Press Herald, Bob Adams has exited his general manager role at the Portland cluster of Saga Communications stations that includes news/talk WGAN-AM and seven music brands. The paper says that a memo sent to station staffers from SVP of operations Chris Forgy and Saga president and CEO Ed Christian indicated the reason for Adams’ departure was the need for a “more defined growth pattern” and that “a change was necessary.” The company expects to name a new general manager within the next few days. Adams’ exit comes after a number of high-profile air talent were recently laid off, including WGAN-AM talk host Ken Altshuler and music programmer and jock Randi Kirshbaum.

Round Two of May PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2020 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 May 2020 survey period covered April 23 – May 20. You can see all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this group of markets and he reports that a number of all-news and news/talk stations that saw their weekly, 6+ AQH shares go up in April as a result of coverage of the coronavirus pandemic are starting to see those numbers fall. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM, Washington dropped seven-tenths to a 9.3 share but stays in the #1 position in the market. Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM, Washington adds three-tenths and climbs into the #2 spot. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston gives up a half share to finish May at a 4.8 share and the #6 rank. Sister all-news WBZ-AM also forfeits a half share for a 5.9 share finish and the #4 rank. Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle bucks the trend, adding three-tenths to wrap the May survey with a 7.2 share and the #1 rank. Meanwhile, Entercom’s all-news WWJ, Detroit drops seven-tenths to a 5.7 share and falls into the #2 rank in the Motor City. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.

TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that the status of ESPN Radio personality Trey Wingo is up in the air as the sports media giant mulls its options. He currently co-hosts the morning drive show with Mike Golic. Marchand says ESPN is “reshaping its radio and NFL presentations” and with Wingo’s contract up, it’s not clear what his status with ESPN is. He says the company would like Keyshawn Johnson – who’s currently heard on O&O KSPN, Los Angeles – and Max Kellerman on its national radio platform. Johnson’s contract is up at the end of the summer…..Cumulus Media’s sports talk KNBR-AM/FM, San Francisco announces it raised more than $100,000 for Bay Area hunger relief partnering with Giving in Motion for last week’s fund drive. The money raised will provide more than 6,500 family meals, plus 1,300 bags of school supplies and household essentials to Bay Area residents impacted by COVID-19. The KNBR staff will deliver the meals to people in need at specific locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Walnut Creek…..Cox Media Group Tulsa announces that it has helped its community partners raise more than $2 million in the first half of 2020. The cluster – including news/talk KRMG-FM, four music brands and three TV signals – says that figure does not include non-monetary fundraising efforts it has pushed through its channels. The cluster partnered with the Community Food Bank to collect more than 774 pounds of food for its annual Spread the Love campaign, collected 220 pints of blood through a drive with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, and diverted more than 93 tons of recyclable items from the dump through the inaugural Big Spring Clean. CMG Tulsa market VP Cathy Gunther says, “During times of great uncertainty, like now, people rely more than ever on the support of community partners to help them get through. This is why we have not only upheld our commitments to our current partners but have gone a step further and added a number of new events to try and help our partners jump-start donations to serve more people who are now reliant upon them.”

George Floyd Funeral/Protests, Police Reform, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Presidential Race, Georgia Election Problems, Russia Probe Review, Financial Markets Activity, MLB Negotiations/NFL Racism Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/9). The funeral of Minneapolis police violence victim George Floyd and the ongoing protests taking place across the country; the calls for the reforming and de-funding of police departments; the rising and falling of confirmed COVID-19 cases as states continue the re-opening process; the November presidential election; the troubles Georgia faced holding efficient voting on Tuesday; the review of the Russia probe being led by John Durham; the world’s financial markets react to the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. unrest; and the negotiations between the MLB’s players and the league and the state of racism in the NFL were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

NEED A GUEST? We’ve Got Some Good Ones for You at ‘Expert Guests.’ Talk media hosts, producers, and bookers are advised to check out the newly expanded “Expert Guests” section of TALKERS. It is updated on a weekly basis with outstanding experts and personalities available by telephone, Skype, or Zoom for booking on radio, TV, and online talk shows. This week you’ll find a wide array of guests that includes an expert on how to generate lost revenue due to COVID-19 via online marketing, an author who writes about Islamic matters, and an expert on finance who puts the race-oriented protests, demonstrations, and riots into perspective from an economic standpoint – plus a whole lot more. To visit “Expert Guests,” please click here.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Seattle classic hits outlet KJR-FM “95.7 The Jet” announces the debut of its new morning show, “95.7 The Jet Mornings with Jodi & Bender.” The iHeartMedia station notes that Bender previously served as a morning host on its KBKS “106.1 KISS FM” where he “became one of the most impactful on-air personalities in the Seattle region.” Jodi has served with KJR-FM since 2011. iHeartMedia Seattle market president Robert Dove says, “Putting Jodi and Bender together gives ‘95.7 The Jet’ a dynamic morning show that will be entertaining and provide civic values to our great city of Seattle. Whether it’s Seafair or Seattle Children’s Hospital, Jodi, Bender, and KJR will be there to shine a light on the good things happening in the Emerald City.”…..iHeartMedia announces that Mark Manuel is the new program director for classic rock KCQQ, Quad Cities. He’s been serving the station as APD and webmaster. He says, “I’m really grateful for the opportunity. After chasing a morning host dream for two decades, I found that I really enjoyed the programming aspect of radio for the past five years. I especially want to thank iHeartMedia for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I’m happy to continue to be part of the team for years to come.”

Thursday, March 19, 2020

| March 19, 2020

WGN, Chicago Parts Company with Evening Personality Justin Kaufmann.  As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, evening talk host Justin Kaufmann leaves Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM after the company elected not to renew his contract.  Kaufmann joined WGN in 2015 after spending 21 years as a show producer at Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ-FM.  Feder says his sources expect Ji Suk Yi to move from her position as host of the “Wintrust Business Lunch” noontime program to host of the evening show.  Since Nexstar took over operation of the station from Tribune Media, on-air changes have included the exit of morning host Steve Cochran – replaced by Bob Sirott – and midday duo Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder – whose former daypart was filled with a combination of the move of John Williams’ show to late mornings and Anna Davlantes leaving the Roe Conn afternoon drive show to host her own early afternoon program.

WNIR-FM, Akron Host Jim Isabella Out with Coronavirus. According to a report at CantonRep.com, WNIR, Akron evening talk show host Jim Isabella is off the air after contracting COVID-19.  Isabella tells the news organization he had flu-like symptoms last week and was hospitalized for pneumonia.  It was there he was tested for coronavirus and two days later learned the test was positive. He’s quoted saying, “Obey what the people are telling you.  I don’t know where the hell I got it.  You have to be smart… this is not a drill.”  Isabella says he has a cough and a rattle in his chest that makes it hard to talk for very long.

The Coronavirus Pandemic, Financial Markets Activity/Recession Fears, Coronavirus Relief Package, and Democratic Primary/Presidential Race, Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/18).  The status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S and across the globe; the world’s financial markets endure another sell-off on Wednesday and economists express fear of a global recession as a result of the coronavirus; the coronavirus relief package and potential stimulus packages being considered by the Trump administration; and Joe Biden’s growing lead over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary race were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Round Three of Nielsen’s February PPM’s Posted. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey is released for 12 markets, including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus.  The February PPM survey covered January 30 through February 26.  You can see all the weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers from subscribing stations here.  Meanwhile, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian posts his Ratings Takeaways from the second round.  Positive movement from these markets include: Cumulus Media’s WMAL-FM, Washington adds four-tenths to finish the ratings period at a 7.3 share and the #3 rank in the market; Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington also added four tenths to wrap the month at a 7.8 share and tied for the #1 rank; Entercom’s all-news WWJ, Detroit tacks a half share onto January’s four-tenths to finish the February survey at a 4.8 share and the #6 rank; iHeartMedia’s conservative talk KDFD, Denver “Freedom 93.7” adds another three-tenths, posting a 3.6 share and the #13 rank; and Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore puts another half share on top of seven consecutive ratings gains for a 4.4 share and the #8 rank in the market.  See all of Mike Kinosian’s Takeaways here.

New York Festivals Radio Awards Announces 2020 Finalists. The 2020 New York Festivals Radio Awards International Grand Jury has selected the finalists in this year’s competition.  All finalists move on to the medal round of judging.  New York Festivals Radio Awards will announce the 2020 award winners on Tuesday, April 21.  The Grand Jury selected the finalists based on the following criteria: production values, organization, presentation of information, creativity, and use of the medium. New York Festivals says prominent broadcasters that took the lead include: RTÉ Ireland, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBS News Radio, and Radio New Zealand. You can see the complete list of finalists here. Meanwhile, other U.S. broadcasters of note to make the medal round include: in the Podcast category – “30 for 30 Podcasts: Season 6,” ESPN Films, “Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith” Spotify; “Dolly Parton’s America,” OSM Audio/ WNYC Studios; and “Sleepwalkers,” iHeartMedia.  In the Breaking News, Feature and Investigative categories: “75th Anniversary of D-Day,” Westwood One; “Protests Grip Hong Kong,” Bloomberg LP; “CBS World News Roundup” and “Notre Dame,” CBS News Radio.

TALKERS News Notes. The New Jersey Broadcasters Association announces it is canceling this year’s Annual Conference & Gala, originally scheduled for June 16 and 17 in Atlantic City.  President and CEO Paul Rotella says, “That’s not something we wanted to do, because we enjoy that event and we were very much looking forward to it.  Like you, we treasure the opportunity to shine a spotlight on our magnificent industry, especially this year when we were going to celebrate the century of service provided by broadcasters.  But our number-one priority at this time is health and safety, and the CDC’s guidelines make clear that gatherings over 50 people should be avoided for at least the next eight weeks, and of course that makes our planning futile. (It was going to be great too!) But, the show will go on my friends, if not this year, then next year.”…..John FredericksDisruptor Media LLC buys WNTW-AM, Chester, Virginia and translator W224EB, Chester at 92.7 FM in the Richmond market from Nancy A. Epperson’s Delmarva Educational Association for $240,000.  This pair will become part of the John Fredericks Radio Network based at his WJFN-FM, Goochland, Virginia…..Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois-based Big Radio is creating an online directory connecting consumers with the innovative ways that local businesses are continuing to serve them during the COVID-19 emergency.  The directory provides information on local restaurants, retailers, and other businesses that are offering services while still complying with the health emergency directives.  Listings are updated on a regular basis and are being provided free of charge to businesses in the Big Radio family of stations coverage area.  Big Radio co-owner Ben Thompson says, “Local businesses are the biggest supporters of our community and we wanted to find a way to help them publicize changes in their operations so that community residents could lend a hand by continuing to shop local.”  Big Radio is the business brand of Scott and Ben Thompson who own 10 stations and other businesses throughout Wisconsin and Illinois.

KMZQ, Las Vegas Morning Host Heidi Harris Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Although every corner of the nation and world have been hit hard by the coronavirus, Las Vegas has been particularly impacted due to the preponderance of hospitality and travel-oriented industries that make the market tick.  KMZQ, Las Vegas morning host Heidi Harris is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.”  Harris, a 22-year veteran of Las Vegas broadcasting, and Harrison take a conversational deep dive into the coronavirus-era machinations of the “gig economy” as well as state of the convention, travel, hospitality, and gambling industries in a fascinating, fast-paced program with lots of takeaways.  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column of every page on Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In the New York market Mediaco Holdings appoints Jonathan Bates vice president of brand partnerships for hip hop WQHT “Hot 97” and urban contemporary WBLS.  Bates has been serving as executive vice president for The Shadow League, a “website dedicated to presenting journalistically sound sports coverage through the lens of culture.”  Mediaco SVP of revenue Victor Giacomelli says, “Jonathan is an exceptional digital sales and marketing leader whose 20 years of digital experience will enable us to accelerate opportunities for clients to benefit from the wide array of authentic ‘Hot 97’ digital content opportunities.  Jonathan is expected to recruit a team of multicultural digital marketing specialists to partner with clients on a variety of ‘Hot 97’ digital and social opportunities.”…..iHeartMedia’s WXKS-FM, Boston “Kiss 108” is presenting a Billie Eilish experience this evening to offer fans who would have attended Eilish’s canceled concert in town tonight (3/19).  At 7:30 pm, the station will play Eilish’s music, interview clips, and listeners sharing their Billie thoughts and stories.  Station PD Dylan Sprague states, “Since her show at the Garden has been postponed, it’s the best way for fans to join together in our love for Billie Eilish.  If we were at the show, we’d be all singing these songs together.  Why not belt ‘em out at home?”

Friday, February 28, 2020

| February 28, 2020

iHeartMedia Posts Flat 2019 Q4 Revenue Figure; Full Year Revenue Up 2%. The financial data for iHeartMedia is a bit complex as the result of the company exiting bankruptcy protection in May of 2019.  But revenue of $1.03 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, while flat compared to Q4 2018, was up 4.3% excluding political ad dollars.  For the full year of 2019, revenue was $3.7 billion, up 2.0% year-over-year and up 4.2%, excluding political revenue.  The company reports that digital revenue in the fourth quarter was $112.5 million – up 33.6% from the fourth quarter of 2018.  For the full year, digital revenue was $376 million, an increase of 32.2% over the full year of 2018.  iHeartMedia COO and CFO Rich Bressler states, “Our financial performance in 2019 was underpinned by the reach and resilience of our traditional business, profitable growth in our other platforms – including our digital businesses and proactive improvement of our capital structure.  Through our innovation and thought leadership in areas like podcasting and our SmartAudio suite of targeting, analysis and attribution services for advertisers, we are at the forefront of driving the audio revolution.  We will continue to work to build long-term shareholder value by maximizing our free cash flow and de-leveraging our balance sheet.”

PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s January 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on all-news.  Coming off the Holiday 2019 survey 88% of all-news stations saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share go up.  Top performers here included Entercom’s KYW, Philadelphia (+1.4) and KCBS-AM, San Francisco (+0.7).  However, comparing January 2019 to January 2020, 70% of all-news stations were down, with Entercom’s WWJ, Detroit leading that group and absorbing a hit of -3.2 shares and dropping from the #1 rank in the market in January 2019 to #11 this year.  On the positive side, the company’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco was up 1.4 shares to post an 8.4 share and regain the #1 rank in the market.  iHeartMedia’s WBZ-AM, Boston was 0.7 shares better than the year before and rose to claim the #3 rank in January.  KCBS-AM, San Francisco was the only all-news station to rank #1 in January.  Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington ranked #2 in the January 2020 survey, despite falling three full shares from January 2019.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, WONK-FM, Washington, DC.  The new episode titled “Brother, Can You Spare a Face Mask?” looks back at this past week of February 24-28, 2020 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Tom Sullivan; talk show host, KFBK, Sacramento/Talk Media NetworkKen Matthews, talk show host, WHP, Harrisburg, PA; Lee Abrams, consultant, MediaVisionDeborah Norville, anchor, “Inside Edition;” Steve Weisman, professor of law, Bentley University, Boston/webmaster, Scamicide.com; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. This acclaimed news/talk radio show airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET.  It also airs throughout the weekend on WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA;  KFNX, Phoenix; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. See the full story below.

‘The Michael Harrison Wrap’ Now Available in Syndication via Talk Media Network.  TALKERS is pleased to announce it has entered a strategic partnership with independent broadcasting firm Talk Media Network for the syndication and distribution of its weekend program, “The Michael Harrison Wrap.”  The show, hosted by Michael Harrison, was launched in May 2019 on iHeartRadio’s WONK-FM in Washington, DC where it airs Fridays at 6:00 pm.  “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is a fast-paced roundup of the hottest news/talk media stories tracked by TALKERS and is described as “a weekly overview of the national conversation.”  Each installment features Harrison in conversation with several talk media hosts, pundits and experts from around the country representing a variety of popular ideologies. The show opens with a riveting countdown of the week’s most-discussed items with TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey.  Since its launch, several proactive radio stations around the country inquired about the show’s availability to which TALKERS complied – as best it could – on a market exclusive basis. According to Harrison, “We’re delighted that, in addition to our flagship WONK, excellent facilities such as WRKO, KSCO, WVOX, KFNX, KBDT, KQSP, KBKW, WIQO, WGMN, and the Virginia Talk Radio Network among others showed enough interest in the program during its developmental phase to request it for their rosters before it was even officially available for national distribution.”  Harrison continues, “However, we are not a syndication company, nor have any intention of becoming one, and it just became too unwieldy to service more stations efficiently, so we began looking for an appropriate network partner. Talk Media Network is a perfect fit.  TMN is moderately sized, independent, and run by one of the brightest young executives in the network business, Josh Leng.”  Leng states, “We’re honored TALKERS has entrusted the syndication and growth of ‘The Michael Harrison Wrap’ with Talk Media Network.  It is a pleasure to be working with a professional of Michael’s stature who has dedicated so much of his career to the betterment of the radio industry.”  Leng continues, “What program directors will notice immediately when they listen to ‘The Michael Harrison Wrap,’ is the amount of preparation that goes into each and every episode.  It is amazing how much compelling content is packed into one hour!  Combine that with the ‘best in the business’ talk radio hosts who contribute to Michael’s timely and topical news discussions, and you have an on-air product that features a great group of broadcasters who bring their ‘A’ game for the audience to enjoy.”  Stations interested in affiliating with “The Michael Harrison Wrap” should visit talkmedianetwork.com for more information, and can call Talk Media Network at (616) 884-8616.

TALKERS News Notes. On Super Tuesday (3/4), FOX News Radio is offering affiliates live national network coverage beginning at 7:00 pm ET anchored by national correspondent Jared Halpern, with key insights from FNR political analyst Josh Kraushaar and FNR reporters around the country.  FNR is also offering hourly “Democracy 2020” updates on Amazon’s smart speaker.  FOX News Podcasts is presenting special editions of the daily morning podcast “FOX News Rundown,” as well as new episodes of Bret Baier’s “The Campaign” and “I’ll Tell You What” with Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt.  Additionally, FOXNews.com will carry multiple livestreams from candidate headquarters across the country…..iHeartMedia’s NBC News Radio brings talk and news radio pro Michael Castner aboard to serve as national news anchor.  Castner was most recently morning drive personality at Entercom’s news/talk KXNT, Las Vegas…..iHeartMedia announces it is presenting a new companion podcast for the three-part Hulu series “Your Attention Please” that celebrates the achievements and creativity of Black visionaries.  The “Your Attention Please” podcast is using this medium to continue the conversation past Black History Month, diving deeper into the stories that were highlighted in the show.  The first guests in the series are Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, founders of MAI (Movement Art Is).

The Coronavirus, the Stock Market, and the Economy Top News/Talk Stories for the Week of February 24-28. The status of the coronavirus epidemic, its effect on the world’s financial markets and the global economy came together to make up the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week and landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the presidential race and this week’s Democratic debate in Charleston, SC.  Coming in at #3 was healthcare reform, climate change, and race relations, followed by the deadly Milwaukee brewery shooting and gun control at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart here.

Happy Retirement to Pete Spriggs. Current and former Cox Media Group Atlanta staffers gathered last night (2/27) for a retirement bash for WSB-AM/WSBB-FM program director Pete Spriggs who is leaving the company after 27 years with Cox and 19 years at WSB.  Above right is a group shot that includes such guests as Cox Media Group CEO Kim Guthrie, WSB VP/market manager Rob Babin, WSB legend Neal Boortz, syndicated star Clark Howard, and Cox DC bureau reporter Jamie Dupree.  Above left is (from l-r) Spriggs, consultant and former WSB PD Greg Moceri, and incoming program director Drew Anderssen.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. A surprise move in national syndication as Ty Bentli leaves his eponymous, Westwood One morning country radio show for an unnamed gig outside of the radio biz.  For now, co-hosts Chuck Wicks and Tricia “TJ” Jenkins will handle hosting duties.  The Nashville-based show has undergone numerous changes over the past few years.  Blair Garner was the original host when it was called “America’s Morning Show.”  Then it was “Ty, Kelly, and Chuck” with Kelly Ford in the mix and, after her departure in late 2018 (she’s now hosting AMs on Entercom‘s WNSH, New York), was renamed the “Ty Bentli Show.”  TJ joined the program last spring…..A big shakeup at Entercom’s Los Angeles cluster as longtime alternative KROQ program director (and SVP of programming) Kevin Weatherly exits.  Taking over at KROQ is Mike Kaplan, who adds brand manager duties at the station in addition to his alternative format captain position and brand manager post at WNYL, New York “ALT 92.3.”  At the same time, Ralph Stewart is handed the brand manager keys for adult hits KCBS-FM “93.1 JACK FM.”  He’s been operations manager for the station in addition to his brand manager role at urban contemporary KTWV “94.7 The Wave.”  Finally, KRTH “K-Earth 101” brand manager Chris Ebbott and CHR KAMP-FM music director and afternoon host Yesi Ortiz will serve as interim programming leaders for “97.1 AMP Radio” while a national search is conducted.  Entercom regional president Jeff Federman says, “Mike’s name is synonymous with alternative music and I’m delighted to welcome him back to Los Angeles.  Along with Ralph, Chris, and Yesi, this dynamic team will usher in the future of our brands in this important music market.  I’d like to thank Kevin for his years of dedicated contributions to our premier collection of brands and our company.  He has certainly made his mark here and we wish him the absolute best in his new role.”…..Buddy Shula’s Radio One Buffalo has entered into a strategic alliance with Burlington, Ontario-based Byrnes Communications “to serve radio listeners in Buffalo and Southern Ontario.”  Shula says, “I am very excited to add ‘MORE 101.1FM’ (adult hits CFLZ, Fort Erie) and ‘105.1FM THE RIVER’ (hot AC CJED, Niagara Falls) to our radio station portfolio. ‘MORE 101.1FM’ has a very large 50,000-watt regional signal that barrels though Buffalo and Southern Ontario.  The music on the station are the ‘biggest hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s’ which target listeners in the 35-64-year-old age group.  ‘105.1FM THE RIVER’ plays ‘Todays Best Hits.’ aiming to please women 25-54 years old… With this cluster of radio stations, it increases our potential to reach listeners of every age group and attract more advertisers who can pick and choose which station is appropriate for their advertising needs.”…..Pictured below is the new “Nikki and Laura” morning show at NRG Media’s hot AC KQKQ, Omaha “Sweet 98.5” on its first live remote at Le Peep restaurant.  From left to right are: Nikki Oswald, station program director Jay Michaels, and Laura Blenkush.