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Thursday, July 16, 2020

| July 16, 2020

Newsmax TV Shows Impressive Audience Gains. The Newsmax TV service has been rolling out new programming and has seen ratings triple over the last six months, becoming one of if not the fastest-growing cable news channel in the U.S. In a piece published by TALKERS magazine today (7/16), executive editor Kevin Casey writes that “the service from multi-platform news organization Newsmax Media has shown notable growth in the first half of 2020 in terms of audience increase and programming development in the highly competitive OTT [over-the-top] arena.” As Newsmax TV’s ratings show impressive increases, the company tells TALKERS its insurgent news channel is on course to overtake FOX Business Network (FBN) in viewership by the end of this year. Newsmax TV has already surpassed established brands like C-SPAN and Bloomberg TV and is closing in on FBN, which sits at 6.5 million in weekly reach. The network’s weekly household reach went from less than one million in 2019 to more than 3.5 million households, according to most recent Comscore data. Read the whole story here.

Report: DOJ Allows Liberty Media to Increase Stake in iHeartMedia. According to a story in Politico, the Department of Justice is agreeing to let Liberty Media add to its current 5% stake in iHeartMedia, allowing it to acquire up to 50% of its shares. The piece notes that Liberty Media also owns a controlling stake in SiriusXM Satellite Radio (which recently acquired Pandora) as well as a 33% stake in Live Nation Entertainment. A number of consumer advocate groups had opposed the deal saying it would be “likely catastrophic” on radio markets.

Rico Beard Joins Mike Valenti on WXYT-FM, Detroit. Motor City sports media pro Rico Beard is joining Entercom’s sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit for the afternoon drive program. The station says Beard will be heard alongside Mike Valenti on “The Mike Valenti Show with Rico,” weekdays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, beginning August 3. Mike Sullivan has been a producer and on-air contributor for the program since 2014. His last day at the station will be July 31. Entercom Detroit president and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “Rico’s immeasurable experience covering all avenues of the Detroit sports scene has granted him a front row ticket to some of the biggest stages in sports. Rico has been on our wish list of talent to join our team for quite some time and we look forward to him joining Mike Valenti in offering a dynamic afternoon show for our listeners. We thank Mike Sullivan for his contributions to the team and wish him all the best in his new endeavor.” During his career, Beard has served as a host of “The Spartan Beat” podcast as well as a co-host of “The Ryan and Rico Show” for ‘Detroit Sports 105.1.’ He also worked on air at WJBK-TV, Detroit and WSYM-TV, Lansing.

PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s June 2020 PPM survey, today focusing on the sports talk format. Without live sports since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports talk format has suffered in the monthly PPM ratings. Compared to the May 2020 survey, just 16% of sports talk stations saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share numbers go up while 73% were down. The starkest comparison is June 2019 to June 2020 in which 19% of stations managed to improve while 75% of sports talk stations declined. In this case, iHeartMedia’s KFXN, Minneapolis is the outlier posting a gain of 1.5 shares to finish June with a 5.6 share and climbs from the #12 rank to #7. Entercom’s WIP, Philadelphia is the highest-ranked sports talker in the PPM markets during the June survey, posting a 4.7 share good for the #6 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete analysis here.

NPR Acknowledges Audience Hit from COVID-19 Pandemic. In a story by David Folkenflik at NPR.org, the extent of the ratings hit that NPR programming has taken since commuters largely vanished back in March is revealed. The story indicates that broadcast ratings for the network’s radio programs show they lost nearly 25% of their listeners. NPR senior director of audience insights Lori Kaplan says, “We anticipated these changes. This kind of change was going to take place over the next decade. But the pandemic has shown us what our future is now.” She says research shows the NPR audience is disproportionately made up of professionals who are working from home and appear to want to continue to do so after the pandemic is over.

Sandy Beach to Retire from WBEN-AM, Buffalo. Longtime Buffalo talk radio personality Sandy Beach is retiring from the station at the end of this month. The Buffalo News reports that Beach is wrapping his 23-year stint hosting the late morning show (9:00 am to 12:00 noon) on Entercom’s WBEN-AM, Buffalo at the end of this month. Sandy Beach’s career in Buffalo goes back to 1968 when he became part of the lineup at legendary CHR outlet WWKB-AM (then WKBW-AM). It’s also notable that Beach is enshrined in three halls of fame: the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

SportsGrid Radio’s Scott Ferrall to Air on ‘The Mightier 1090’ in San Diego. When XEPRS-AM, San Diego returns talk programming to its signal at “The Mightier 1090” – operated by advertising executive Bill Hagen – sports talk personality Scott Ferrall will be part of the station’s talent pool. Ferrall – part of the Elvis Duran Group’s specialized talent roster – is being syndicated by SportsGrid Radio Network (formerly the Fantasy Sports Radio Network). When the station begins the new format, it will air “Ferrall Coast to Coast” live from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and “Ferrall on the Bench” live from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Ferrall comments, “Returning to XEPRS is an amazing opportunity for me to reconnect with my loyal Southern California fans, many of whom have become friends through the years. Sun, fun and sports are my passion and I jumped at the opportunity to work with the Southern California flagship station to create a dynamic experience for our fans. I’m honored to bring back my gnarly, irritating, annoying, old leather voice to 1090 AM for many years to come. Shake it up!!”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a report in Politico, President Trump has appointed Salem Media Group talk radio host (and former Trump aide) Sebastian Gorka to a four-year term on the National Security Education Board – which oversees the National Security Education Program that Politico reports “was created in 1991 to promote a pool of U.S. citizens fluent in foreign languages and skilled in international affairs.” Gorka worked in the White House for eight months, leaving in August of 2017…..According to a report published by Breitbart, the San Francisco police department has opened an investigation into death threats against Westwood One syndicated talk show host Michael Savage. The story says Savage received “two threats in the last seven days — one by postcard to his San Francisco home on July 10 and the second via Guerrilla Mail, an email address service where received emails are deleted after one hour.”…..Chicago media reporter Robert Feder writes that Midway Broadcasting’s news/talk WVON will be incorporating content from iHeartMedia’s new BIN: Black Information Network into its news programming. BIN programming is currently airing on WVAZ-HD2 in Chicago. Midway chair and CEO Melody Spann Cooper says, “WVON is hyperlocal, but what impacts Black America impacts us here in Chicago, where we represent one-third of the city’s population. Enhanced news is needed and iHeart’s timing is perfect.”…..ESPN reports that its ESPN Podcasts experienced 42.7 million downloads during the month of June, the eighth month in the last nine with a total of 40 million or more. The figure represents a 31% increase over June 2019. ESPN also says that according to The Podtrac Podcast Category Audience Rankings, in the sports podcast category ESPN has 11 of the top 30 podcasts, with “The Dan LeBatard Show” finishing as the third ranked podcast in the sports category…..Virtual News Center announces that Camellia City Communications’ WTHO, Thomson, Georgia is now using its services. WTHO now features the work of reporter Darrell Moody in its daily newscasts.

COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Navarro-Fauci Spat, Fall School Debate, Twitter Hack, Trump Tax Returns, Presidential Race/Primary Elections, Washington Redskins Name Change, and Sports Leagues Opening Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/15). The spiking COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases; the sparring between White House trade official Peter Navarro and Dr. Tony Fauci; the ongoing debate over opening schools this fall; the hack of Twitter accounts belonging to high-profile users Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and others; lawyers for President Trump continue to fight the SCOTUS ruling he must turn his tax returns over to the Manhattan district attorney; the presidential race and this week’s primary races in Alabama, Maine, and Texas; the NFL’s Washington Redskins agree to change their name; and the various U.S. pro sports leagues prepare to begin playing games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Groundbreaking Talk Radio Consultant and Talent Coach Bill McMahon Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  TALKERS magazine will celebrate its 30th anniversary on July 23 and talent coach Bill McMahon, who was featured as “The TALKERS Interview” in its first (print) issue, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” McMahon was one of the most influential talk radio consultants in the early years of the format’s modern era – which many historians credit as beginning with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 and the subsequent rise of Rush Limbaugh. McMahon, founder and CEO of The Authentic Personality Biz based in Boise, Idaho, started out as a radio salesman in the 1970s and then rose through the ranks to manage and set the programming vision for highly successful personality-oriented talk stations KIRO, Seattle and KSDO, San Diego. He went on to provide programming consulting services to many of America’s most successful talk radio stations and personalities.  In 1988, he created the first formal training system for radio air personalities and program directors (also titled The Authentic Personality™ ) which is a method that identifies the common elements of great radio performances regardless of style or content. Over the years, nearly 1,000 air personalities and program directors from stations owned by the most successful broadcasting companies in the United States and Great Britain have participated in Authentic Personality™ seminars/workshops. McMahon has personally conducted hundreds of individual coaching sessions with great (and not so great) radio air personalities using his training concepts and methods.  These include Rush LimbaughDr. Laura SchlessingerKidd KraddickJeff ElliottMichael Harrison and Johnny Vaughan just to name a handful. In this podcast, Harrison and McMahon take a deep dive into the 14 basic traits possessed by successful radio talk show hosts and provide a panoramic view of radio’s past, present, and future.  Don’t miss this!  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In the aftermath of Nick Cannon’s anti-Semitic remarks on his podcast, his firing from his MTV show by ViacomCBS, and his subsequent apology, he’s taking time away from his radio shows. He says via Facebook: “Morning radio family. I have decided to take some time away from my radio show so I can commit myself to deeper, more thorough reflection and education. I will use this time to establish an action plan towards real, impactful change and advocacy aimed at bringing people together. I continue to express my gratitude to the Rabbis, community leaders, and institutions who have reached out to me to help enlighten me. Their input and friendship will help me as I further commit myself to more profound learning and towards strengthening the bond between the Black and Jewish cultures every day going forward.” Cannon hosts mornings on Muerelo Media’s KPWR, Los Angeles as well as a syndicated afternoon show. Syndicator Skyview Networks says, “Nick Cannon has begun a period of self-reflection to address the pain he caused, and while we recognize his apology, this time is needed to establish an action plan towards real change and advocacy.  During this period, production of the ‘Nick Cannon Radio’ show will pause. Skyview Networks values all communities and faiths and we expect all programs and personalities we syndicate to adhere to these principles.” While Skyview syndicates the program, Cannon is the executive producer in collaboration with Ncredible Productions and Meruelo Media…..iHeartMedia promotes Carson to program director for country WNCB-FM, Raleigh “B93.9.” She has been serving as music director and midday host and she takes over the PD role from Carletta Blake, who moved to the PD position at the company’s country WGAR-FM, Cleveland…..iHeartMedia Memphis Gospel outlet WHAL-FM “95.7 Hallelujah FM” is hosting its Virtual Hallelujah Summer Jam tomorrow (7/17) at 7:00 pm. The station says the event will bring together the top gospel artists in the industry for a night of praise and fellowship on-air via “95.7 Hallelujah FM,” HallelujahFM.com and on Facebook Live. The event is made possible with support from Cricket Wireless, MidSouth Transplant Foundation, and Plummer Financial.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

| February 26, 2020

WKNR, Cleveland Suspends Browns Reporter for Baker Mayfield Remark. Cleveland Browns reporter Tony Grossi has been suspended by Good Karma Brands’ WKNR-AM “ESPN Cleveland” after referring to Brown’s quarterback Baker Mayfield as a “f*#king midget” during a commercial break.  A hot mic caught his comments during the live airing of “TheLandOnDemand” from the NFL scouting combine.  Good Karma apologized and said it will engage in sensitivity training for its staff.  Meanwhile, Grossi issued an apology in which he said, in part, “There’s no excuse for using that language in any context.  It was said without malice but also without thought.  It is well known that Baker and I have had our differences, and in the course of this experience, I’ve had to question my role in the erosion of the relationship. I have always endeavored to report and comment on him fairly, and am shaken by these events.”

Entercom Promotes Holly to Market Manager for Buffalo Station Group. Sales pro J. Timothy Holly rises from vice president of sales to senior vice president and market manager for Entercom’s Buffalo cluster that includes news/talk WBEN-AM, sports talkers WGR-AM and WWKB-AM, plus four music brands.  Holly takes over for Greg Ried, who exited the company in January.  Entercom regional president and president of sales operations Michael Doyle comments, “I am excited to promote Tim Holly from vice president of sales where he has done an outstanding job of creating an innovative and successful approach to solving our clients’ needs.   With our outstanding and unique portfolio of audio assets, including great radio and digital brands, leading local sports coverage via partnerships with the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, and some of the largest live events in Buffalo, Tim has shown that he can lead our team of professionals in Western New York to grow and thrive.”

Entercom Names Idil Cakim to New SVP Research and Insights Post. In this new senior vice president of research and insights position with Entercom, Idil Cakim will “lead the company’s business-to-business strategy and audio insights practice, with a focus on building perspectives, ideas, and client strategies.”  She will report to Paul Suchman, chief marketing officer and will work closely with chief revenue officer Bob Philips and EVP of corporate business development Tim Murphy.  She was most recently with Nielsen, where she served as vice president of media analytics consulting.  Paul Suchman says, “Idil’s deep experience across media platforms and complex data sets will greatly enrich our ability to deliver actionable insights and even more powerful audio strategies to our clients.  Her ability as a storyteller will help bolster the narratives we bring to market.  We’re thrilled to welcome Idil to our leadership team.”

TALKERS News Notes. Talk host and author Todd Starnes is scheduled to deliver a speech and take part in a panel discussion on the First Amendment at CPAC 2020, taking place today through Saturday (2/26-29).  Starnes hosts his Hamilton Strategies nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Radio Show” that he’ll broadcast live from the event’s radio row…..The FOX News organization is planning its continuing coverage of the Democratic primary race as FOX News Channel will provide live coverage of South Carolina’s primary results on Saturday (2/29) from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET.  Chief political anchor and “Special Report” host Bret Baier will anchor the two-hour special, “Democracy 2020: South Carolina Primary.”  Additionally, FOX News Radio will provide live national network coverage of the primary with hourly updates from FNR’s team of reporters. FOX News Podcasts will also offer a special edition of the “FOX News Rundown” leading into the evening while FOX News Headlines 24/7 will provide live Democracy 2020 updates every 15 minutes during the primary…..WNBF, Binghamton, New York news anchor and talk host Bob Joseph celebrates his 40th anniversary with the Townsquare Media news/talk station.  Joseph – who also hosts the late morning talk show “Binghamton Now” – was hired by the station as a part-timer while still a teenager.  He became a full-time news reporter anchor on February 18, 1980…..Sun Broadcast Group announces its expanded and restructured affiliate relations team led by Boston-based VP of programming & affiliate relations, Rich O’Brien.  The staff includes: New York-based senior affiliate content manager Southwest, Alex Quintero; Cleveland-based senior affiliate content manager Northeast, Ryan Verardi, affiliate content manager Southeast, Gary James, and affiliate content manager Midwest, Andrew Scaglione; and Los Angeles-based affiliate content manager West, Ed Moloney…..Broadcast Pix announces that Jeff Adams joins the company as product manager.  In this position he’ll lead the business and product development of new RadioPix visual radio systems.  He says, “I’m very excited to join the team at Broadcast Pix and be a part of their unique approach to simplifying live radio broadcasting.”

RTDNA Unveils New Look. The Radio Television Digital News Association unveils its new-look logo, saying it “reflects both the association’s origins and its continuing mission as a hub for the leading innovators in broadcast and digital news.”  The RTDNA adds, “This new imagery signifies the association and foundation’s continuing commitment to pushing the broadcast and digital news industry forward through training, advocacy and honors.  Over the next year, RTDNA members can expect to find new and updated resources on RTDNA.org, expanded in-person and online training opportunities and a redesigned curriculum at the annual conference.”  Executive director Dan Shelley says, “RTDNA is proud to be a community and resource for more members than at any point in our modern history.  At a time when journalism is under threat, our members continually demonstrate that they are leaders and innovators working every day to better each other, the industry and their communities across the country through responsible local journalism.”

PodcastOne and A&E Present ‘PD Stories’ Podcast. Building on the success of their work together producing six seasons of “Cold Case Files: The Podcast,” A&E and PodcastOne are expanding their production and distribution partnership to include season two of the “PD Stories” podcast that takes listeners behind the badge of law enforcement, revealing their experiences, perspectives and insights through in-depth interviews.  The program is hosted by A&E’s Tom Morris Jr., who anchors the channel’s “Live PD: Wanted” program.  Podcast One founder and executive chairman Norm Pattiz says, “Our partnership with A&E has been instrumental in developing our true-crime genre.  The overwhelming success of ‘Cold Case Files’ and the addition of ‘PD Stories’ will enhance our lineup, which included last year’s smash-hit, ‘22 Hours: An American Nightmare.’  An association with a company like A&E has always been extremely important to us. We look forward to continuing and expanding our partnership.”

Presidential Race, Covid-19 Epidemic, Financial Markets Activity/China Productivity, Weinstein Trial Aftermath, and College Admissions Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/25). The Democrats battling to take on President Trump in November and Tuesday’s debate in Charleston, South Carolina; the status of the coronavirus around the world and whether the U.S. is prepared for it; the losses on the world’s financial markets as the result of fears about Covid-19 and the related productivity problems in China; the aftermath of the conviction of Harvey Weinstein on sexual assault charges; and Hot Pockets heiress Michelle Janavs is sentenced to five months in prison in the college admissions scandal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Alternative KROQ, Los Angeles announces the 12th annual “Kevin in the Morning with Allie & Jensen April Foolishness” event will take place on April 4 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  The show is being hosted by Kevin Ryder, Allie Mac Kay, and Jensen Karp, and this year’s event will feature comedians Adam Carolla, actor and comedian Jeff Garlin, Steve-O, Adam Ray, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” writer Jen Kirkman, Fortune Feimster from “Sweet & Salty,” and Clownvis from “The King of Clowns.”  The annual comedy show and fundraiser benefits the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and Cedars-Sinai NICU.