Howard Stern Signs Renewal with SiriusXM for Five More Years. During previous investor conference calls, outgoing SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said he believed Howard Stern and SiriusXM would come to terms on a new deal and today’s announcement bears that out. Under the new agreement, Stern will continue to produce and host “The Howard Stern Show” exclusively for SiriusXM for the next five years, and the Howard Stern archive of audio and video will continue to be licensed to SiriusXM for an additional seven years. Stern says, “Fifteen years ago, I joined SiriusXM, a fledgling group of broadcasters. I had been in a toxic relationship with terrestrial radio. And no matter how well I treated the medium, no matter how successful I made them, they abused me. Going to SiriusXM liberated me. I felt like Tina Turner freeing myself from Ike. And despite the naysayers and the ridicule, we have persevered, and are thriving. I’ve been proven right about satellite radio over and over again. With this contract renewal, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be right about. Certainly, I have a lot more to say about Metamucil crackers and stepmom porn. Plus, now that I can work from home, I simply don’t have an excuse to quit.” Meyer says, “As the leading audio entertainment company, we couldn’t be happier to have Howard, the leading host in all of radio and audio, continue to make SiriusXM the home for his show, channels, and archives while at the peak of his broadcasting career. Howard’s home has been SiriusXM and it will remain that way, but we’ve expanded SiriusXM in recent years too, and we are excited about finding the right ways that select content from Howard can find audiences on additional platforms. May I add, I consider Howard a close friend and look forward to listening to him for years to come.”
Ron St. Pierre Out at iHeartMedia’s WHJJ, Providence; Jim Polito Takes Over Morning Show. Longtime Providence air personality and programmer Ron St. Pierre has exited iHeartMedia’s news/talk WHJJ-AM, Providence where he hosted the morning drive show. Filling the programming gap is WTAG-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts-based morning personality Jim Polito. In 2016, iHeartMedia dropped the local morning show hosted by Adam Wright and Bo Sullivan on WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts and began simulcasting Polito’s show there. The WHJJ move puts the Jim Polito show in three of iHeartMedia’s New England markets.
Salem’s KRLA and KTIE Cut Ties with Brian Whitman. Southern California radio pro Brian Whitman exits Salem Media Group’s morning drive show “The Morning Answer” that he co-hosted with Jennifer Horn that was simulcast on KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Whitman shared the news on his Facebook page on Friday (12/4). He wrote, “I was provided the following from folks at Salem/KRLA this morning. The announcement was sent by the general manager to their kind and hardworking staff, making this news public. I’ll have very personal thoughts to share with members of the ‘Morning Answer Listening Family’ (as I came to know and regard you over many years) very soon. It will be in this space at a time that is more appropriate and comfortable. With all of my love and with the warmest gratitude for every moment that we’ve shared together, I offer words that I know fall far short of my heart’s sentiment. Thank you, thank you, thank you guys.” The message from management was as follows: “After eight years hosting ‘The Morning Answer,’ Brian Whitman will no longer be with us. We wish Brian all the best in the future. Chuck [Tyler] and I echo Phil Boyce who said, “Brian has been a hard-working and extremely talented employee for us for many years. We will always cherish his friendship, and our opportunity to work together at KRLA and KTIE.” Whitman was the liberal counterpart to conservative Horn.
Hubbard Radio Drops Sports Talker Chris Rongey; Re-Aligns Host Lineup. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar, afternoon drive sports talk personality Chris Rongey has been let go from Hubbard Radio’s WXOS-FM, St. Louis. Rongey had been part of “The Fast Lane” afternoon show since replacing D’Marco Farr in 2017. The station moves midday host Jamie Rivers into afternoons alongside Anthony Stalter and Brad Thompson and promotes Alex Farrario to the midday show co-hosting with Brandon Kiley.
Talk Radio Host Michael Berry’s Good Month Includes Raising $1.3 Million for PTSD Foundation. KRTH, Houston-based, nationally syndicated talk host Michael Berry had a very good month in which his program helped raise $1.3 million for Camp Hope, the residential treatment center run by the PTSD Foundation of America, of which Berry is the national spokesman. The organization was laying off staff, including the vital folks who counsel suicidal veterans who struggle with re-integration after war. Berry teamed up with sponsor Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain, to raise funds. During the whole of 2020, Berry’s efforts have raised $3 million for the organization, almost its entire budget. Additionally, Berry made national news on Monday (12/7) for his interview with Houston-based Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, during which Unanue said he gave U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez the company’s “employee of the month” award. This came after Ocasio Cortez called for a boycott on Goya products because Unanue publicly praised President Trump. However, Unanue says the boycott call produced a counter-protest in which supporters flocked to buy Goya goods. On top of that, Berry has added new affiliates, WPNN, Pensacola, Florida, and KNUW, Silver City, New Mexico and hopes to roll out seven new affiliates before the New Year. In case you missed it, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian profiled Berry back in October. Read it here.
PPM Analysis: Sports Talk. The Nielsen Audio PPM ratings survey in the month prior to the November election (October 8 – November 4) was not as generous to sports talk radio stations as it was to news/talk, still TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian reports that 46% of sports talkers were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October 2020 survey. Gainers from October to November were led by RadiOhio’s WBNS-FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” (+0.7, 6.2 share) and Cumulus Media’s WGFX-FM, Nashville (+0.7, 6.0 share). Due to the pandemic’s effect on live sports, year-over-year comparisons have not been kind to the sports talk format and November 2019 to November 2020 is not different. 68% of sports talk outlets in PPM markets were down. However, 23% of stations gained with Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas leading the pack (+1.6, 2.8 share). While no sports talkers claimed the #1 rank in their market during the November survey, iHeartMedia’s KXFN, Minneapolis came close, posting a 7.6 share good for the #2 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete report here.
WJR, Detroit News Director Dick Haefner to Retire. After a 51-year career in radio news, WJR, Detroit news director Dick Haefner is retiring. Haefner, an award-winning newscaster, reporter, and news director, has been WJR news director since 1989. Cumulus Media says that “his tenure is unmatched by any other Detroit broadcast news director. He is one of the most recognizable news voices in his hometown of Detroit, signing on to radio news in 1969 and signing off on December 11, 2020, Haefner’s last day on-air.” The company goes on to note that “under Haefner’s leadership, WJR News has been honored with nearly every national and local news award in the broadcast business, including: the Peabody Award, Associated Press national award for Best Broadcast Reporting, Edward R. Murrow Awards, and numerous state news awards… Some of Haefner’s projects have changed laws. A series on suburban toxic waste dumps resulted in tighter rules for handling waste. An investigation of fraud at gas stations brought about new regulations on service station inspections and fuel hauling, and even changed the way the IRS taxes the fuel hauling industry. Among the biggest stories Haefner has broken are Coleman Young’s baby, the Nancy Kerrigan–Tonya Harding incident heard around the world, and Detroit’s two side-by-side sports stadiums.” Haefner comments, “Anything I may have accomplished is because of other people, my wife Judy, and my family who allowed me to pursue adventures in broadcast news, and especially my co-workers. My most important job was to put them in position to do their best work. What they accomplished every day is my greatest reward. I have had the best job in Detroit radio news for almost 32 years. I’m the luckiest person I know.”
Susan O’Connell Retires from Compass Media Networks; Robert Blum Rises to Senior Manager of Affiliate Sales. Affiliate sales pro Susan O’Connell is retiring from her position as vice president of news/talk affiliate sales with Compass Media Networks, effective December 31. At the same time, the company announces that Robert Blum – a Compass Media staffer since 2011 – is being promoted to senior manager of affiliate sales for news/talk/sports. O’Connell has been in the news/talk affiliate sales business for the past 40 years, the last six with Compass Media. She previously served with the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, ABC Radio Networks, CBS News, and the Progressive Radio Network. She comments, “The best part of my job has always been working with great broadcasters. Thank you all for sharing your time, talent, and friendship over the years. Compass Media Networks was the perfect place to wind up. Representing our stellar news/talk lineup and being part of this team has been an honor and a privilege.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “Susan is a total superstar, friend, and treasured colleague. Through hard work, perseverance, and cunning, Susan established Compass Media Networks as a dominant player in news/talk programming with over 750 leading news/talk stations airing over a dozen hours of our daily, live, and original news-talk programming.”
COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Trump Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Package, Georgia Runoff Elections, Pornhub Allegations, and Presidential Pardons Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/7). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the pleas from authorities to follow mask and gathering mandates, and the status of vaccines; Donald Trump continues legal challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the debate in Congress over a new stimulus package; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; the allegations that porn giant Pornhub has promoted underage actors; and reports of Donald Trump’s pardon plans 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. On-air pro and urban media personality Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. Lenard McKelvey, and iHeartMedia renew and extend their relationship. The deal means the co-host of the WWPR, New York “Power 105.1”-based, nationally syndicated “The Breakfast Club” will continue to work with iHeartMedia for the next five years. He says, “I give my sincerest thanks to iHeart for empowering me over the past decade to be the best talent that I can be, and for honoring me as an owner and executive. I love the audio business and iHeart is the biggest and best audio company in the world. As co-founder and chief creative officer of the Black Effect Podcast Network and now senior creative officer of cultural content and programming at iHeart, all I want to do for the next five years is continue to move the culture of radio and podcasting forward by curating a new era of voices, programming, and events. GOD IS GREAT! Now, it’s time to get back to work.”
Monday Memo: Podcasting’s Prime Time. Once a hobbyist platform, on-demand audio now features the biggest stars, delivers advertisers ears and analytics they can’t get elsewhere, and pairs listeners and content creators like no other medium. In this week’s column, Holland Cooke summarizes the keynote Spotify’s Dawn Ostroff delivered during the CNBC Evolve webcast “The Evolution of Content and Consumption.” Read it here.
Pending Business: Time for a Skills Inventory. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa – president of Lapcom Communications Corp – writes today that year-end is a good time for radio sellers to take inventory of their sales skills and make sure they match up with the pandemic-influenced restrictions and technology-requisite times in which we’ll be working in 2021. Read more here.
Dom Giordano to Be Honored by the Zionist Organization of America. WPHT, Philadelphia 9:00 am – 12:00 noon host Dom Giordano will be honored by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, the nation’s oldest pro-Israel organization, for “his patriotism, friendship to the Jewish community, support for Israel and honest commentary about the Middle East” on his show. Giordano will be one of eight people nationwide recognized as “Zionist Spotlights” as part of ZOA’s Virtual 2020 National Superstar Gala. The Gala, taking place on Sunday, December 27, at 7:00 pm ET can be seen (live and on demand) at zoavirtualgala.com. Attorney and legal icon Allen L. Rothenberg is the other honoree representing the Greater Philadelphia Region. The event will also feature Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, hip-hop artist Ice Cube, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, physician and philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelson, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, ZOA national president Morton Klein and more. Giordano – a former school teacher who is nationally recognized as one of the leading experts on education in talk radio and a perennial member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred – received the Greater Philadelphia ZOA’s 2011 Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism/Man of the Year at the annual Gala that year.
ESPN’s WEPN-FM, New York Moving DiPietro, Canty & Rothenberg to AM Drive. As reported by the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, ESPN is going local in morning drive on sports talk WEPN-FM, New York for the first time. In January, the Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty & Dave Rothenberg program moves from its current 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot to the 5:00 am to 8:00 am slot with the ESPN Radio nationally syndicated “Keyshawn, ZWill & Zubin” show airing from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. These changes come as ESPN tweaks the national lineup in preparation of the departure of Dan Le Batard in January. On WEPN-FM, “Greeny” with Mike Greenberg will air from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, followed by the “Bart [Scott] & [Alan] Hahn” show that’s now part of the national ESPN Radio lineup from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm.
Bernie Miklasz to Return to St. Louis Airwaves on KFNS-AM. According to Dan Caesar’s report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, sports talk KFNS-FM, St. Louis is bringing former Post-Dispatch columnist and former crosstown WXOS-FM personality Bernie Miklasz aboard to host the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. Also, former KMOV-TV, St. Louis sports director Steve Savard will host the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm show. John Hadley is operating the station while he and a group of investors work to buy the station from owner Randy Markel. Hadley admits that his acquisition of Miklasz’s and Savard’s talent was only possible because they both agreed to work for the “hometown discount.” Miklasz tells Caesar, “Unlike other potential employers who who tended to make promises they couldn’t keep, Hadley was realistic and honest about what they could do for me. The economy is bad, and I wasn’t looking to break the bank. But Hadley didn’t try to exploit the situation by making a ridiculous, low-ball offer. I was enthusiastic about working with him to reach a fair deal for both sides… The trust factor meant a lot to me… Local ownership appeals to me. Local ownership is investing more than money… The personal investment is meaningful.”
PPM Analysis: Four… Less… Years. News/talk stations in Nielsen Audio’s PPM markets enjoyed improved ratings during the November 2020 survey – 68% of news/talk stations in that survey were up over the previous month’s survey – that coincided with the final month of the presidential campaign (October 8 to November 4). In today’s analysis, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian compares the performances of news/talk stations in the November 2020 survey with the same period during the last presidential election in 2016. He shows that 74% of news/talk stations in PPM markets were up (6+, weekly AQH share) in the November 2020 survey compared to the same period in 2016. In fact, there were 10 news/talk stations that increased their AQH share by three full shares or more from the November 2016 survey to November 2020. Find out which stations accomplished that plus much more in Mike Kinosian’s piece here.
Former NFL Player George Wrighster Hosting Late Nights on Mad Dog Radio Channel. Former NFL tight end George Wrighster joins SiriusXM to host the 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET “Night Cap” program on the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel, beginning tonight (12/7). Wrighster was drafted out of the University of Oregon in 2003. After his playing days, he transitioned into his second career as an entrepreneur/investor and sports media personality. He has hosted shows on radio and television for a number of networks including FOX Sports, ESPN, and KFWB and KLAC in Los Angeles. SiriusXM SVP of sports programming Steve Cohen says, “With his experience both on the field and in the media, George brings an excellent and well-rounded perspective to the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel and we’re excited to have him deliver an engaging and entertaining show to our listeners on a nightly basis.”
UNUSUAL TALK MEDIA GUEST ALERT: Bob Kosch Is Back! Former mortgage banker, loan broker, tax lien investor, rock ‘n’ roller, and music/talk radio broadcaster Bob Kosch is back (after another prison stint) and available to do talk media interviews. If you’re looking for a change-of-pace type of special guest for your talk radio show, TV show, or podcast, check out this fascinating ex-con. Michael Harrison (a longtime friend of Kosch) describes Kosch as a “compellingly articulate, original, charming and informative larger-than-life character” who has no problem taking on a variety of subjects including the economy, commercial real estate, scams, the Donald Trump Era (he’s an outspoken Trump critic), prison reform, and pop music, among others. Bob Kosch is an ex-con with a plan that he says can save America from recession and move the economy forward. Experiencing corporal punishment by nuns at St. Anthony’s in Hawthorne, NJ as a child because of learning disabilities and left back in the 5th grade, he began engaging in deceptive behavior at an early age – all of which he talks about openly. He is an expert in mortgage law, focusing mainly in foreclosure and equitable subrogation. Kosch was charged with wire fraud by the U.S. Government in 1999. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 60 months in prison on September 12, 2001. His case brought to light Household Finance’s alleged predatory lending which ultimately led to that company’s demise. The most recent were charges by the State of New Jersey for theft-related offenses which he points out were fabricated by local prosecutors. The case was reversed, and charges vacated but Bob spent six years in prison during the process! While in State custody, Kosch was in charge of the Law Library at Northern State Prison and worked as “substitute counsel” in court line proceedings. In a particular case, he worked with the ACLU when a transgender inmate was brutally beaten by police and then charged with assault. He was successful in having her transferred to the Women’s Prison in Clinton, New Jersey – setting a precedent in the system and the state. He was instrumental in the enactment of a bill signed by Governor Phil Murphy to end Administrative Segregation arguing Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment claims. Since his release on November 1, 2020, he voluntarily continues to help others in custody who do not have the money to hire an attorney for appeals and post-conviction related matters. He just recently filed a “writ of coram nobis” in an immigration proceeding for an inmate subject to deportation. Bob Kosch can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phoned at 973-900-2831.
Beasley Media Group Promotes Tina Murley to VP of Corporate Sales. Boston director of sales Tina Murley is promoted to vice president of corporate sales for Beasley Media Group, effective immediately. Murley has been DOS at Beasley Boston since 2014 and will continue to be based in Boston. In her new role, she’ll be responsible for overseeing the traditional and integrated sales efforts on behalf of the entire company. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “Tina brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her new role as VP of corporate sales. Her positive attitude and commitment to excellence on behalf of our advertisers and the company made her the perfect choice to lead our company’s sales efforts into the future.”
Nate Dixon Named VP of Sales for Entercom St. Louis. Radio sales pro Nate Dixon joins Entercom’s St. Louis station group as vice president of sales for the cluster that includes news/talk outlets KMOX-AM and KFTK-FM and four music radio outlets. Dixon was most recently with Radio One’s St. Louis operations as station manager. Entercom St. Louis SVP and market manager Becky Domyan comments, “Nate has an incredible track record of performance, community outreach, and team building throughout his career in St. Louis. He is going to elevate our performance to new heights, and I look forward to him leading the way for our sales operation, turbo-charging revenue on all fronts.”
COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Giuliani Hospitalized, Lives vs Livelihood Debate, Trump Challenges Election Results, Biden Transition, Georgia Runoff Elections, and the Economy/Job Losses Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S., the rollout of vaccines in the U.K., and expectations for U.S. vaccine distribution; Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is hospitalized with COVID-19; the lives-versus-livelihood debate as lockdown’s hit California; Trump’s continuing challenges to the results of the presidential election; President-Elect Joe Biden continues building his administration; Georgia’s January U.S. Senate runoff elections and Sunday’s Loeffler–Warnock debate; and the state of the U.S. economy and the effects of job losses were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. It’ s going to be double duty for on-air pro Frank Ski who is joining Cox Media Group’s urban contemporary WALR-FM, Atlanta “KISS 104.1” as morning host, effective February 1. Ski will continue to host the afternoon drive program at Howard University’s urban contemporary WHUR, Washington, DC. In addition to his radio work, Ski is signed to a global publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing for his catalogue of hip-hop, rap, gospel, and Baltimore club-music. WALR director of branding and programming Terri Avery says, “I’m thrilled to usher in this new era of ‘The Frank Ski Show’ on ‘KISS 104.1.’ Frank Ski is a proven leader and trusted voice in Atlanta’s African American community. We welcome Frank to the ‘KISS 104.1’ team.”…..Hubbard Radio announces that Fitz – host of KNUC, Seattle’s “Fitz In The Morning” show – will end his daily program in the next few weeks to focus his efforts on the nationally syndicated “Country Top 40” and the creation of new projects. Fitz says, “While I will dearly miss the daily interaction with my Seattle listeners, I’m truly excited to focus my attention on continuing the tradition of ‘CT40’ and bringing it into the next decade with fun, captivating new features, emotion, and remembering the stars of yesterday, while introducing the country stars of tomorrow.” KNUC brand/content director Scott Mahalick says, “We look forward to writing a new chapter for ‘98-9 The Bull’ next year and are working on plans now. We are glad to continue being the flagship radio station for ‘CT40’ with Fitz and look forward to him playing the hits for years to come.”