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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

| December 15, 2020

Ramsey Solutions Forgives $10 million in Debt for 8,000 Americans. Through his company Ramsey Solutions, Dave Ramsey has taken on the debt of 8,000 people across the United States and totally forgiven a total of $10 million in debt. Ramsey Solutions has purchased $10 million of unpaid medical and car debt from two private debt collection companies in order to forgive it. Starting on November 9, Ramsey and his 950 team members made phone calls to let the recipients know their debt had been forgiven. Recipients will also be notified by a letter in the mail within the next five weeks. Ramsey says, “This year has been one of the worst financially for so many Americans. Thirty years ago, my wife Sharon, and I were on the heels of a financial catastrophe ourselves. We know firsthand the pain of having creditors calling at all hours of the night and wondering how we were going to keep the lights on. But we said never again to living with debt. We worked our way out of bankruptcy, turned our finances around, and now we can have the most fun with money that we ever have – giving.” You can read more about Ramsey Solutions’ $10 million debt payoff here.

Charlie James Named Afternoon Drive Host at WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg. The new afternoon drive talk host at Entercom’s WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg “106.3 WORD” is Charlie James, who joins the station from his most recent post as morning host for Cumulus Media’s news/talk WTMA-AM, Charleston, South Carolina. James – who starts on December 23 – succeeds Bob McLain, who is retiring from the station. Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “Charlie is a well-respected and seasoned talk show host and his track record of success in South Carolina with his award-winning program makes him a perfect fit for ‘106.3 WORD.’ Charlie’s experience informing and entertaining listeners through his style, knowledge, and influential opinions on topics that matter most will be a welcomed addition to our station’s programming and will build on the afternoon audience that has been well served by Bob McLain.”​

WHO-AM, Des Moines Names Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet New Morning Drive Show. Current WHO-AM, Des Moines morning drive host Van Harden announced yesterday (12/14) to listeners that market radio pros Max Schaeffer and Amy Sweet will take over hosting the morning drive show after he retires from the station early next month. Schaeffer comments, “The weight of what we have ahead of us is not lost on me.” Schaeffer and Sweet previously worked as morning drive co-hosts at Saga Communications’ crosstown classic hits KIOA-FM until exiting in May of 2018. Harden announced his retirement from WHO back in January of this year, giving iHeartMedia a full year to plan for the new morning show.

Ken Kohl Announces Retirement. Radio programming and management pro Ken Kohl announces that he’s winding down his 50-plus year broadcasting career that’s seen him program news and talk stations in markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sacramento. Kohl has been serving for the past 12 years with DirecTV managing broadcast and sales operations, project and talent management for the radio and TV simulcasts of “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “The Artie Lange Show.” Kohl says, “It’s been an amazing 50-year career. From overnight jock on Long Island’s WBLI-FM to program director of legendary WLIR-FM, rockin’ the Rockies at KBPI-FM, great runs programming KOMO-AM and KFBK-AM, launching talk on KFI in Los Angeles and San Francisco’s ‘Free FM’ to the award-winning, wall-to-wall coverage of the OJ trial, and two sports Emmy nominations and a Marconi with ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’ I’ve been blessed with fantastic staffs, amazing talk talent and exceptional ownership but there are a handful of folks who championed my career to whom I am eternally grateful: Michael Harrison, Monty Grau, Jim Donahoe, Jimmy de Castro, Chris Long, and the best of the best, Gerryann Agovino.” Kohl says he remains available for a limited number of consulting clients in between bites of fresh salmon and can be reached at kenkohl@acquaintmedia.com

Townsquare Media Issues Preliminary Fourth Quarter Financial Results. While the fourth quarter of 2020 doesn’t wrap until December 31, Townsquare Media is issuing “preliminary estimated financial results” for the period. Chief executive officer Bill Wilson says, “We are pleased to pre-announce very strong fourth quarter estimated results that outperformed the expectations we had previously outlined on our third quarter earnings call. At that time, I stated that our goal for fourth quarter net revenue was a year-over-year decline of 7.5%, approximately half of our third quarter net revenue decline of 15%, which had been a material improvement from Q2’s decline of 35%. Today, I am proud to share that we expect fourth quarter net revenue will be between $107 million and $109 million, which equates to a decline of approximately 2.7% to 4.5%, materially outperforming our goal. In addition, we expect Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA will be between $27 million and $28 million, representing between 8.3% and 12.3% growth year-over-year. This far exceeds our previously stated goal (by at least $2 million) that Q4 2020 Adjusted EBITDA would approach Q4 2019 Adjusted EBITDA of $24.9 million.”

i4 Media Ventures Launches with Debut Podcast ‘We Interrupt This Broadcast.’ The new firm i4 Media Ventures announces its plans to “bring podcast listeners vividly memorable stories from the history of American broadcasting.” The 12-episode podcast series “We Interrupt This Broadcast” – the first season of six seasons planned for release over the next three years – debuts in February. The series will feature first-hand accounts, little-told anecdotes and insights recorded over the course of decades with such icons of broadcast journalism as David BrinkleyTom BrokawWalter CronkiteSam Donaldson, Don HewittDan Rather, and Tim Russert, among many contemporary correspondents, and with numerous news directors and producers, as well as with guests connected to broadcast journalism’s rich history such as Casey MurrowEdward R. Murrow’s son. Advertising sales and sponsorship for the series will be represented by New York and Los Angeles-based Crossover Media Group Sales. The series is based on the 1998 New York Times bestselling multimedia book We Interrupt This Broadcast by author Joe Garner, a co-founder of i4 Media Ventures. Legendary longtime CBS journalist and A&E and NPR host Bill Kurtis, the original narrator for the multimedia book, will reprise his role by introducing each episode. The narrator for the series will be announced in coming weeks. Garner says, “It’s our intention with this series to celebrate broadcast journalism’s crucial role in our society and in history. And while our inaugural podcast series will feature major news events throughout broadcast history, these stories – such as the Rodney King beating and the presidential-election dispute of 2000 – all have relevance and offer lessons today.”

Joe Piscopo to Host Sinatra Show on WABC, New York. Well-known TV personality and radio talk show host Joe Piscopo is joining Red Apple Media’s WABC, New York to host “Ramsey Mazda’s Sunday Nights with Sinatra” program that airs from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show is being simulcast on WLIR-FM on Long Island. Piscopo played Sinatra in a recurring role during his time as a cast member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. He says, “It’s an honor to bring the music of the most legendary icon of our time, Frank Sinatra, back to the legendary WABC Radio. I am thrilled and excited, and it’s gonna’ be swingin’ baby!” Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis comments, “Throughout history, there has been no more iconic name in music than Frank Sinatra, nor has there been a more iconic name in radio than WABC. Bringing these two together again on Sunday nights with celebrity host Joe Piscopo, a crooner himself, is a one-of-a-kind way to honor ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and celebrate what would-be his 105th Birthday with this show’s debut.” Piscopo hosts the morning drive program on Salem Media Group‘s WNYM, New York “970 The Answer.”

ESPN’s ‘30 For 30 Podcasts’ Looks Back at Beginning of Pandemic. The next installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30 Podcasts” debuts on December 21, is titled, “March 11 2020,” and tells the story “of a day that started in one reality and ended with a new one — the day the NBA shut down and the pandemic became real — as told by those who lived it.” ESPN says the experiential podcast features a mix of audio clips from news stories of the day and interviews with key figures in the NBA as well as from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Senior editorial producer Julia Lowrie Henderson says, “This has been the strangest, longest, and most challenging of years. It’s hard to process all we’ve been through, but it’s actually quite simple to identify the turning point, the moment where it felt like everything changed: March 11. All of our lives were impacted by the events of that day. At the time we had no idea how deeply, or how long this might last, but we felt the seismic shift when the first professional athlete tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. If our mission at ‘30 For 30’ is to tell stories that explore how sports, competition, athleticism, and adventure affect our lives and our world, then it felt crucial to us to find a way to tell the story of that day.”

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story at GVWire.com, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno program director Blake Taylor says Twitter blocked access to the station’s account because of comments made by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes on KMJ. During Nunes’ interview with KMJ talk host Ray Appleton, he said he “tested positive for the COVID antibodies” causing some confusion and concern that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. GVWire.com reports that Taylor fielded requests from consumer media outlets seeking to clarify what Nunes had said so he did so on Twitter. Taylor says that immediately the station’s Twitter account was suspended. He reached out to Twitter but received no response. The blackout lasted 20 minutes…..Entercom’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94WIP” announces special coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2020-21 season. WIP’s coverage of the team will include “Trust The Pregame,” hosted by Joe Giglio. The station will continue airing “Rights To Ricky Sanchez Radio,” a one-hour show named after the popular podcast. That show will be hosted by Joe Giglio and feature Spike Eskin, as well as Rights to Ricky Sanchez writers Adam Aaronson and Mike O’Connor. The station also announces a collection of additional contributors for the upcoming season, including  WIP’s Jon Johnson and Billy KingDerek Bodner of The AthleticKevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice…..Digital products and services provider Vipology moves its ad sales representation exclusively to AdLarge Media. AdLarge co-founder and co CEO Cathy Csukas says, “Where most digital companies simply create and sell what’s needed at the time, Vipology gets ahead of the constantly evolving media landscape to develop solutions that allow radio to increase ratings and revenue. We’re very excited about representing their advertising inventory from more than 1,000 top radio stations across America to our advertisers.”…..Erick Siqueira joins Focus360 as business development & planning specialist. In this role, Siqueira will work with the Focus team to deliver new revenue and inventory opportunities for clients. He will also continue relationships with agencies and buyers with whom he’s worked for all Focus360 network products and the Focus360 Podcast Network

Electoral College Votes Biden Winner, COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive, COVID Stats & Projections, Barr to Resign, Georgia Runoff Elections, and Stimulus Negotiations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The Electoral College votes Joe Biden the 46th president; the first COVID-19 vaccines begin arriving at U.S. hospitals; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-holidays outbreaks, and Dr. Tony Fauci’s estimation the U.S. will achieve herd immunity by late spring or early summer; Attorney General William Barr announces he’ll resign next week; the January runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; and negotiations on a new pandemic stimulus package 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. According to a report at NewscenterMaine, former Saga Communications air personality Randi Kirshbaum – who was a program director and jock at country WPOR and triple A WCLZ in Portland, Maine is filing an employment discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company after she was dismissed for refusing to return to the stations’ offices due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kirshbaum says her mother passed away from pulmonary fibrosis and that she is genetically predisposed to getting it. She adds the disease can be triggered by a respiratory virus. When Kirshbaum was laid off in May, Saga Portland SVP Chris Forgy said Kirshbaum violated her signed agreement that she could be called back to the office by management and would lose her job if she refused…..Condolences to the family and friends of radio pro Steve Cooper, a.k.a. James Carr, who died on Sunday (12/13) at age 71 after several years of battling multiple illnesses. Cooper worked in the Indianapolis market for 32 years, working at such signals as WNDE, WIFE, WFBQ, and WTPI. You can see a tribute video made by good friend Art Vuolo here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

| December 9, 2020

‘106.3 WORD’ Talk Host Bob McLain to Retire from Entercom News/Talker. Fifty-seven-year radio pro Bob McLain is retiring from the business and his current position as afternoon talk host on Entercom’s WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina “106.3 WORD” after his December 22 program. However, he’ll continue to be heard on the station as the host of “The Bob McLain Minute” that airs weekday afternoons as well as serving as a fill-in host. He’ll also continue to be a spokesman and endorser for some of the station’s clients.  McClain says, “June of 2020 marked 57 years since my introduction to the business that would become my life’s work: broadcasting. It’s been an amazing journey that has taken me from playing 45 RPM records on turntables to covering two Super Bowls to the last nearly 20 years in the place I love most – the Upstate of South Carolina. I have been blessed to have had many different careers – disc jockey, TV sportscaster, meteorologist, news anchor, and finally talk show host. No one does this by themselves. I have had so much help and guidance along the way and have been privileged to learn from and work with the best.” Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “Since 2006, Bob has led the conversation every afternoon, providing our listeners with stimulating talk and crucial breaking news. His influential opinions and locally focused on-air style have positioned him as a staple in Greenville’s media landscape and a key part of our audience’s daily habits. I’ll miss listening to the ‘bonus hour,’ famously named by Bob when his show was extended to 7:00 pm. His undeniable talent and connection to our community has translated to success outside of the studio, too. Throughout his career, Bob has worked with countless ‘106.3 WORD’ clients, helping them grow their businesses exponentially and playing a key role in making ‘106.3 WORD’ the highest revenue-grossing station in the market. Bob’s commitment to excellence and dedication to our business will forever be appreciated. We’re very excited for Bob as he enters his next chapter with ‘106.3 WORD.’ He has been a consummate professional and I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

Longtime WCTC, New Brunswick Talk Host Jack Ellery Dies at 86Bridgewater Courier News reporter Greg Tufaro reports the death of Central New Jersey talk radio pioneer Jack Ellery, who died yesterday (12/8) at a Bergen County health facility at the age of 86. Tufaro’s obit notes that Ellery began his radio career in 1950 and he retired in 2013. He spent most of his career at WCTC-AM, New Bruswick, New Jersey – a total of 44 years – punctuated by stints in Philadelphia and in Tampa. WCTC colleague Bruce Johnson called him a pioneer of talk radio. “He was somebody that I grew up listening to. I thought, who is this guy with this beautiful baritone voice on my local radio station playing Beatles records or whatever songs were popular at the time and also giving me the news.” Ellery was inducted into the New Jersey Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame in 2012. He is survived by his wife Shelby and their daughter Amy Strobel.

Beasley Names Brian Schneekloth Director of Sales for Boston. The five-station Beasley Media Group Boston cluster that includes sports talk WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” and four music brands names Brian Schneekloth director of sales. He rises from his most recent position as general sales manager for “98.5 The Sports Hub” and rock WBOS-FM that included leading the sales efforts of the New England Patriots Radio Network, the Boston Bruins Radio Network and the Boston Celtics Radio Network. He takes over for Tina Murley who was recently promoted to VP of corporate sales for Beasley. Beasley Boston VP and market manager Mary Menna comments, “Brian has been a driving force of our success for years. He is the most creative and passionate manager that I have had the privilege of working with. An innovative and collaborative partner, Brian is a solutions-oriented manager who works tirelessly to create winning strategies for our partners. We are thrilled to be able to promote him to director of sales.”

James Incorvaia Promoted at WABC, New York. Sales pro James Incorvaia is promoted to local sales manager for Red Apple Media’s news/talk WABC, New York “TALKRADIO 77 WABC.” In this role, Incorvaia will oversee and lead a team of account executives for WABC and sister station “Talk Radio 107.1” on Long Island, focusing on the development and growth of new and existing direct accounts. Incorvaia reports to VP of sales Glen Tacinelli, who says, “James’s incredible work ethic and his ability to uncover tremendous opportunities for Red Apple Media makes him the perfect person to take our local sales effort to the next level. His success with our advertisers has contributed to our revenue growth, and his insights will be an asset to our sales team as we continue to build out Red Apple Media.”

Why Advertisers LOVE Podcasts. Consultant Holland Cooke summarizes compelling data from “Super Listeners 2020: Podcasting’s Best Customers,” the second annual survey by Edison Research, partnered with PodcastOne and Ad Reach Media. Read his report here.

iHeartRadio Podcast Awards to Stream on January 21. The third annual iHeartRadio Podcast Awards will stream live on January 21, 2021. In making the announcement, iHeartMedia says that since nominees will be unable to attend the awards in person given the limitations on live events during the pandemic, “this year’s virtual event will be recorded from multiple locations, span 30 categories and honor the most entertaining and innovative podcasts of 2020, celebrating the incredible talent and wide variety of leaders across the booming podcasting industry.” The virtual awards event will exclusively video stream on iHeartRadio’s YouTube and Facebook pages and broadcast across iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio app. This year’s “Podcast of the Year” nominees include “Bunga Bunga,” “Dolly Parton’s America,” “Nice White Parents,” “Office Ladies,” “Reply All,” “Stuff You Should Know,”  “The Breakfast Club,” “The Daily,” “The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos” and “Wind of Change.” You can see all the nominees in all categories here. iHeartPodcast Network president Conal Byrne says, “We’re thrilled by the opportunity to recognize today’s most talented podcast creators for the third straight year at the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. Today, Americans are consuming more podcasts than ever before, across an increasingly broad array of subjects including business, entertainment, education, news and more as a result of how COVID-19 has affected our daily lives. And although we all won’t be in the same room this year, we’ll still be able to celebrate the best of the best in the podcast medium.”

’97.1 The Ticket’ Extends Deals with Red Wings and Tigers. Detroit sports talk outlet WXYT-FM “97.1 The Ticket” announces an exclusive multiyear radio broadcast partnership extension with the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers. “97.1 The Ticket” will remain the flagship station of both teams, airing play-by-play for all regular season and postseason games. Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “The Tigers and Red Wings are two of the best sports partners in the business, and the Ilitch family and their organization have been a major part of the comeback of Detroit. We’re thrilled to continue our relationship with these two local powerhouses and remain as the go-to home for both franchises’ fanbases, delivering year-round content that our listeners crave.”

AdLarge Media and Warner Chappell Production Music Expand Relationship. The expanded relationship between AdLarge Media and Warner Chappell Production Music now includes affiliate representation for WCPM’s large and varied production music catalog. As a result of the deal, AdLarge, a longtime, exclusive network radio ad sales partner for WCPM, is taking over the production music company’s exclusive radio station affiliate sales. This comes as WCPM opens two new studios in Nashville and Los Angeles and welcomes a new leadership team. AdLarge VP of affiliate marketing Jessica Sherman says, “Warner Chappell Production Music is well-known for the breadth and diversity of its catalog. In today’s competitive media landscape, radio stations need quick access to a wide range of music choices for their production needs. And WCPM’s expansive catalog and music supervision team make it easy to source sound swiftly to keep up with production demands.”

TALKERS News Notes. There’s a new pandemic-related podcast called “Track the Vax” that “explores every angle of a COVID-19 vaccine, focusing on the science, from development to distribution and disease prevention” hosted by medical journalist Serena Marshall and executive produced by health journalist Lara Salahi.  The podcast is a collaboration with MedPage Today and Everyday Health. The podcast is produced by Andrew Kalb and Blue Desk Productions…..Nexstar Media Group‘s WGN-AM, Chicago is airing three hours of classic Roy Leonard shows on Christmas Eve (beginning at 4:00 pm) followed by 27 hours of “Christmas Radio Theatre,” hosted by Carl Amari. In a career that spanned 31 years at WGN Radio and ended in 1998, Roy Leonard treated listeners to in-depth conversations with the biggest names in entertainment and introduced the audience to new talent. “Christmas Radio Theatre” will feature some of the greatest Christmas programs from radio’s golden age including: “Miracle On 34th Street” starring Edmund GwennLucille Ball in “My Favorite Husband”; Dennis DayRaymond BurrGreer GarsonKeenan Wynn and Hume Cronyn in “Tales of Suspense”; and more…..Now through December 18, the SiriusXM NBA Radio channel presenting a series of exclusive season-preview shows dedicated to every NBA team leading up to the start of the 2020-21 NBA season. Each weeknight will feature three new shows airing at 7:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm ET, and 9:00 pm ET, with each episode focused on a different NBA franchise.

COVID-19 Stats/Vaccines, Holiday Travel/Get-Togethers, Trump Election Challenges, Biden Transition, Stimulus Negotiations, Rebekah Jones Raid, Presidential Pardons, and the NFL’s COVID Season Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/8). The fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and the hope for effective vaccines; CDC warnings about holiday travel and family get-togethers; Donald Trump’s continuing challenge of the election results; Joe Biden continues his administration’s transition; the negotiations in Congress over a new pandemic stimulus package; Florida authorities raid the home of former state health official Rebekah Jones alleging she illegally accessed the state’s COVID reporting system; speculation about President Trump’s plans for issuing pardons; and the NFL deals with positive COVID tests 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. Some special guests have been announced for this year’s annual iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Presented by Capital One. iHeartMedia announces that BTS, Lil Nas X, and Mariah Carey will make guest appearances during the holiday music event. This year’s event will feature already announced performances from Billie Eilish, Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Sam Smith, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd and more. This year’s iHeartRadio Jingle Ball will broadcast across more than 95 iHeartMedia CHR radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio app and will also stream on The CW App and CWTV.com on Thursday, December 10 at 9:00 pm ET. The CW Network will broadcast the event as an exclusive nationwide television special on Monday, December 14 at 8:00 pm ET.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

| May 5, 2020

Westwood One: Strategies for Creative and Marketing in COVID-19 Era. The latest Westwood One Blog presents some of the takeaways from a number of studies looking at what makes effective creative and what constitutes a reasonable marketing plan in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic. According to NuVoodoo research, clients should reconsider any copy that includes “We’re all in this together” as 35% of those surveyed are already tiring of it and that number is only likely to grow. System1 finds that ads that delivered a “a strong connection to local community and togetherness” appear to be working well. Other aspects System1 believes are effective include use of “established brand characters, ads that make use of familiar scenarios or taglines, ads set in a specific time and place in the past, ads that highlight the human connection in the current state of ‘betweenness.’” However, coronavirus ads run the risk of not being perceived as unique and marketing pro Mark Ritson laments the generic ads ring as cliched and not “distinctive.” Read the blog here.

Entercom Adds Translator to WYRD-FM, Greenville. The news/talk station gets an FM translator simulcast as W236CD, Seneca, South Carolina begins airing the station’s audio.  Entercom says the addition of this frequency to WYRD-FM’s broadcast “extends the reach of the Upstate’s No. 1 news/talk radio station to Pickens County and into Oconee County, bringing its coverage to additional cities including Seneca, Pickens, and Clemson for the first time.” Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi adds, “‘106.3 WORD’ serves a vital role as the Upstate’s trusted source of information. We are thrilled to expand the over-the-air signal for ‘106.3 WORD’ to Pickens and much of Oconee County on 95.1 FM during this critical time in which demand for live and local news and talk is rapidly rising. This expansion allows us to maximize our reach in the region and more broadly meet the needs of our listeners and advertisers.”  In 2019, the station expanded to Anderson County on 101.5 FM.

Entercom Files Motion to Dismiss Discrimination and Retaliation Case. Former WIP-FM, Philadelphia account executive Maria McBride is suing Entercom claiming that she was discriminated against and suffered retaliatory actions after complaining to her superiors.  Entercom filed a Motion to Dismiss based on a jurisdictional error (claiming it should have been filed in Eastern Pennsylvania District as opposed to New Jersey District) as well as arguments that McBride failed to sufficiently demonstrate a hostile work environment or a retaliation claim.  In response, McBride’s attorney argues since the bulk of McBride’s clients were located in New Jersey, the suit was filed in the proper district.  Her attorney also lays out arguments that McBride has satisfied pleading requirements for her claims.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections, States Begin Re-Opening, Lockdown Protests, Pressure on China, Michael Flynn Case, and Presidential Race/Joe Biden Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/4). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections for future cases; a number of states begin re-opening their economies; groups of protesters rail against the social distancing requirements in their states; the U.S. and other countries put pressure on China to open up to investigation into the origin of the coronavirus; Republicans seek an investigation into the FBI’s treatment of Michael Flynn; and the presidential race and the allegations of sexual assault against Joe Biden were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

FOX News and Spotify Ink Deal for Podcast Distribution. The new deal between FOX News Media and Spotify will have the latter distributing FOX News Podcasts on its global audio streaming platform.  Effective today (5/5), FNR’s catalogue of more than 20 original series, including three new programs slated to debut in May — “The Trey Gowdy Podcast,” “The Proud American Podcast Series” and “FOX Top 5” — will be made available globally on Spotify, reaching more than 286 million monthly users. FOX News Radio VP John Sylvester says, “Throughout these unprecedented times, FOX News Audio has become a destination for listeners to get up to the minute information, whether it’s the latest on the current coronavirus pandemic, insights from the 2020 presidential campaign or in-depth interviews with leading newsmakers. We are pleased to partner with Spotify, offering their millions of subscribers worldwide access to our best in class content.”

TALKERS News Notes. Rochester producer and radio personality Pauly Guglielmo is leaving the “Brother Wease Show” on iHeartMedia’s classic rock WAIO-FM “Radio 95.1” to pursue his marinara sauce manufacturing career full time. Guglielmo began selling his grandfather’s marinara sauce commercially in 2014. Recently, he had the opportunity to acquire the plant that’s been making the sauce. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has the story here…..The latest episode of the podcast “The -30-: The End of the News,” hosted by Save Journalism Project co-founder John Stanton, features Joshua Koran, head of innovation labs at Zeta Global, discussing “the current digital ad marketplace, how dominant players like Google can ‘play by a different set of rules,’ and how Google will continue to engage in the same kinds of data collection and measurement it claims harms the privacy of consumers when others do it.” Listen to the podcast here…..The weekend radio show, “The Radio Free Hillsdale Hour,” from Hillsdale College is being added to the lineup at Starnes Media Group’s KWAM-AM/W300DE, Memphis “The Mighty 990.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Nashville CHR WNFN-FM re-brands as “Hot 106.7.” To celebrate, the Midwest Communications station is launching the new brand with its $5K Payday awarding someone in the Middle Tennessee area $5,000.  Station brand manager Joe Breezy says, “I fully expect ‘Hot 106.7’ to be a Nashville powerhouse. Nashville is one of the hottest cities in the country, so it’s about time we turn up the heat with the all NEW, ‘Hot 106.7.’”…..iHeartMedia Chicago stations are honoring Chicagoland teachers and nurses in a weeklong celebration, kicking off on National Teachers Day (today 5/5) and culminating on International Nurses Day on Tuesday, May 12. Throughout the week, each station will feature on-air shout outs for teachers and interviews with school principals, parents and students.  From May 6 through May 8, 103.5 KISS FM’s midday host Showbiz Shelly will host Zoom classroom takeovers to speak directly with students during the week of celebration…..Entravision Communications Corporation announces the launch of Entravision Digital, a division that consolidates its digital reach, data, creative, and programmatic capabilities into a unified solutions offering.  Entravision chairman and CEO Walter F. Ulloa says, “By combining our comprehensive digital capabilities into Entravision Digital, advertisers and agencies have a single source to access a rich combination of audiences, media, performance solutions, and consumer insights. Entravision Digital has a global reach and is an exceptional complement to our television, radio, and digital media assets serving the U.S. Hispanic market.  We are excited to extend the Entravision brand to these businesses and look forward to continued success in the media technology marketplace.”

Thursday, November 7, 2019

| November 7, 2019

iHeartMedia Third Quarter Revenue Rises 3%. Revenue for iHeartMedia, Inc. – whose shares became listed on the NASDAQ on July 18 of this year – was $948.3 million, an increase of 3% compared to the same period in 2018.  Digital revenue increased 33.4%.  Looking at the first three quarters of 2019, revenue was $2.66 billion – an increase of 2.8% over the same period in 2018.  The company says, “Our traditional radio business, which is comprised of our Broadcast and Networks revenue streams, is stable and growing.  Broadcast revenue declined by 0.6% on a reported basis and increased 0.4% excluding the impact of political revenue, while Networks grew 9.2% year-over-year driven primarily by growth in our Total Traffic & Weather network.  Networks also grew sequentially by almost 300 basis points over the second quarter. Our growth was also driven by our Digital revenue stream, which grew 33.4%.  Digital revenue growth was primarily driven by growth in podcasting, as well as other digital revenue.  Audio & Media Services declined 14.3% on a reported basis and increased by 0.2% excluding the impact of political revenue.  Political revenue primarily impacts our Broadcast and Audio & Media Services revenue, and therefore these revenue streams tend to show greater variance in non-political years.  Sponsorships increased by 4.4% year-over-year. Importantly, all of our revenue streams grew year-over-year excluding the impact of political revenue, demonstrating the continued momentum in our business.”

Beasley Broadcast Group Reports Q3 Net Income Up 1.5%. Net income for Beasley Broadcast Group’s 2019 third quarter was $66.1 million, an increase of 1.5% over the same period in 2018 and the company says that “reflects increased revenue in the Company’s Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Charlotte, Fayetteville, and Wilmington market clusters. Net revenue for the three months ended September 30, 2019 was comparable to net revenue for the same period in 2018 at the Company’s other market clusters.”  For the first nine months of 2019, net income was $189.5 million, an increase of 4.1% over the same nine-month period in 2018.  Station Operating Income increased 12.7% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2019.  The company says the year-over-year increase is primarily attributable to higher revenue in the 2019 third quarter and lower station operating expenses related to $1.7 million of non-recurring bad debt expense that was recorded in the comparable 2018 period, partially offset by higher expenses at recently acquired stations.  Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Throughout the third quarter, we continued to advance our revenue diversification initiatives and actively manage our local radio broadcasting and digital platforms, while implementing our operating disciplines at recently acquired stations to drive SOI growth and margin expansion.  Record third quarter net revenue of $66.1 million was driven by the strength of our station clusters in four of our top five largest revenue markets, as well as contributions from recent acquisitions and more than offset the approximate $0.9 million of combined political, spectrum and United States Traffic Network traffic revenue recorded in the 2018 third quarter, which did not recur in the 2019 third quarter…Third quarter results also began to reflect financial contributions related to our new and expanding digital development and diversification initiatives. Beasley generated a year-over-year increase in digital revenue of approximately 37%, with digital now accounting for 7.4% of total revenue, compared to 5.4% of total revenue in the prior year period. Going forward, we remain committed to increasing digital share of total revenue as we continue to aggressively roll out our digital transformation strategy across the organization.”

Urban One Third Quarter Net Revenue Basically Flat at $111.1 Million.  While third quarter net revenue was up just 0.3%, Urban One’s broadcast and digital operating income was up 3.2% on $44.8 million, compared to the same period in 2018.  Operating income was approximately $32.5 million for the three months ended September 30, 2019, compared to approximately $32.1 million for the same period in 2018.  Urban One CEO and president Alfred Liggins III says, “During the third quarter we completed the sale of WDMK to Beasley Broadcasting, as a result of which our cash position improved, and net leverage was reduced. On a same station basis, our third quarter radio revenues were up 4.2%, and I was pleased that we were able to grow the Radio Broadcasting segment Adjusted EBITDA by 6.6%.  Same station core radio revenues, excluding political, are currently pacing down low single digits for the fourth quarter.  Cable Television advertising was robust in the quarter, up 7.8%. While digital revenues decreased by 6.4%, we were able to post significant Adjusted EBITDA growth in that segment as a result of improved cost control.  Overall, we were able to grow Adjusted EBITDA by 5.8% for the quarter, and I believe we are well positioned to achieve our strategic goals for the year, with Adjusted EBITDA in the range of $138-$140 million.”

Nielsen Announces Plans to Split into Two Companies.  Along with its third quarter financial results, Nielsen Holdings Plc is announcing that it will “separate the Global Media and Global Connect businesses through a spin-off of the Global Connect business.”  Global Media is the audience measurement division and Global Connect is the consumer data division.  CEO David Kenny says, “We are pleased with our third quarter results.  Both Media and Connect revenues were ahead of our expectations, reflecting strong execution as well as our focus on driving faster, bolder decisions to enhance value for Nielsen and for our clients.  We also announced today the conclusion of our strategic review and our decision to separate Global Media and Global Connect.  As we look forward, we remain focused on executing on our growth strategies and positioning both businesses to create value for our shareholders.”  The strategic review was led by chairman of the board of directors James Attwood, who says, “Nielsen has two strong and global franchises — Global Media and Global Connect.  Following an extensive review process, which included an in-depth analysis of our businesses, strategies and market opportunities, the Board concluded that separating into two independent, publicly traded companies is the best path to position each business for long term success and maximize value creation.  As independent companies, both Nielsen — the Global Media business — and the new company consisting of Global Connect will enjoy added flexibility and further strengthen their paths toward a new phase of growth, productivity and industry leadership.”

Q3 2019 Flat for Saga Communications. Third quarter net revenue for Saga Communications, Inc. was $31.3 million, basically flat compared to 2018’s Q3 figure of $31.7 million.  Station operating expense increased $171 thousand to $23.6 million and operating income decreased $520 thousand to $4.8 million compared to $5.3 million for the same period in 2018.  Net Income decreased $361 thousand to $3.3 million for the quarter.  On a same-station basis, third quarter net revenue decreased $1.4 million to $30.3 million.  Looking at the first three quarters of 2019, net income was flat with the same period in 2018 at $9.4 million.  Net revenue decreased $610 thousand to $91.3 million.  On a same-station basis for the nine-month period, net revenue decreased $3.8 million to $88.1 million.  Saga reports having $42.3 million in cash on hand as of November 4, 2019.  The company’s total bank debt was $10 million as of the end of the quarter.

PPM Analysis: Public Radio News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey, today focusing on the public radio news/talk format.  More than 60% of public radio news/talk stations were up (weekly 6+ AQH share) compared to the September 2019 survey.  Year-over-year, the results were split about 50/50, with half the stations up and half down. Four high-performing public outlets ranked #1 in their respective markets in October.  They were: WAMU-FM, Washington; KPBS-FM, San Diego; KOPB-FM, Portland; and KUT-FM, Austin.  Perennially top-ranked public outlet KQED, San Francisco ceded the #1 spot to Entercom’s all-news KCBS-AM, San Francisco in October.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

Sun Broadcast Group to Rep All of Envision Networks’ Products in 2020. This agreement between Sun Broadcast Group and Envision Networks is an expanded sales representation agreement that now includes all Envision Networks shows and services.  Envision Networks CEO and president Danno Wolkoff says, “We started with Sun Broadcast Group selling all of our Spanish inventory and began adding more general market advertising to their networks as we grew.  SBG’s ability to maximize our lineups and create networks with such high advertiser demand fueled the development of many new shows and services.  It’s only fitting that Jay [Bailey], Julio [Aponte] and the Sun team now represent all of Envision Networks’ advertising sales in 2020 … we’re thrilled to be working together.”

TALKERS News Notes. Greenville, South Carolina news/talk WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” adds a translator to its broadcast.  Now carrying the station’s signal is W270AM, Anderson, South Carolina at 101.5 FM. Anderson is about 25 miles southwest of Greenville.  Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “We’re happy to meet the demand from listeners and advertisers to expand 106.3 WORD’s over-the-air signal to Anderson County using 101.5 FM.  Anderson is a fast-growing market that we are looking forward to serving with 106.3 WORD’s programming on all of our platforms.”…..Kentucky sports talk host Matt Jones will be off his WLAP-AM, Lexington-based program after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission.  Jones has announced he’s exploring the possibility of running as a Democrat for McConnell’s senate seat.  The iHeartMedia station asked Jones to step away from the program after the complaint was issued.  Jones was relieved of his duties at WLEX-TV, Lexington in July after he made his political ambitions known…..Cumulus Media’s Westwood One is presenting a news special titled, “30 Years After the Fall: The Legacy of the Berlin Wall,” that explores the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Correspondent Chas Henry hosts the program as he reports from the site where the Berlin Wall once stood.  He talks to scholars about why the wall was constructed and with residents who watched it come down.  The half-hour program airs Thanksgiving weekend.  Stations interested can contact Jim Jones at jimjones@westwoodone.com or 202-840-7933 for more information.

Impeachment Process, Ukraine Affair, 2020 Presidential Race, Tuesday’s Election Results, Mormon Family Massacre, China-Hong Kong Tensions, New HIV Strain, and OK Boomer Meme Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/6). The impeachment process against President Trump; the testimony about President Trump’s alleged quid pro quo offer to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; Democratic victories in Virginia and Kentucky in Tuesday’s elections; the massacre of nine members of a Mormon family by drug cartel members in Mexico; the ongoing tensions between Hong Kong and China; the discovery of a new strain of HIV; and the controversy over the “Ok Boomer” meme 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. In the Fresno market, iHeartMedia names Angel “Visa” Jarquin program director for hip hop KBOS “B95.”  He comes to “B95” from his most recent position with the company’s CHR KDON, Monterey where he was afternoon drive personality and assistant program director.   iHeartMedia SVP of programming for Central California and Nevada Tony Matteo says, “Angel’s incredible track record of success and his experience in the format make him an ideal fit to spearhead this market’s leading brand in Fresno.  We’re excited to bring his energy to the ‘B95’ team.”…..JVC Media announces the addition of Long Island radio personality Bill “The Wiseman” Wise as morning host at WPTY-HD2/W251BY, Patchogue, New York “Oldies 98.1”  JVC New York general manager Bruce Shepard says, “The Wiseman is a great addition to our staff.  He will not only be on the airwaves of ‘Oldies 98.1,’ he will also work with the team to develop new and exciting live events and concerts for ‘Oldies 98.1.’  I am thrilled to have him on board.”…..Country outlet WYCD, Detroit  hosted last night’s “Stars and Strings Presented by RAM Trucks Built to Serve” event that raised more than $25,000 for Folds of Honor, the organization that provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. Entercom has now raised more than $275,000 to support the cause.  The RADIO.COM event featured performances by Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini, Jon Pardi, Brett Young, and Ryan Hurd…..iHeartMedia’s rock WJRR, Cocoa Beach, Florida announces the all-star lineup for its “Earthday Birthday Number 27” music festival taking place on Saturday, April 18, 2020 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds and Orlando Amphitheater.  Performing will be: Shinedown, Halestorm, Theory Of A Deadman, Beartooth, Fozzy, Dirty Honey, New Years Day, Crobot, and Dinosaur Pile-Up, with more to be announced…..Cox Media Group classic hits WSRV, Atlanta “97.1 The River” will celebrate its 14th birthday with “The River’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash Presents: Journey with Pretenders” on Thursday, August 13 at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta.  Station director of branding and programming Chris Eagan says, “We can’t wait to celebrate The River’s 14th birthday with our awesome fans.  Journey and Pretenders will definitely put on an unbelievable show to help us party on August 13!”

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

| August 21, 2019

PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s July 2019 PPM survey, today focusing on the all-news format.  The summer months can be a down time for all-news stations and that appears to have been the case during the July survey as 62% of all-news stations saw their weekly, 6+ AQH share dip.  In fact, only Entercom’s KNX, Los Angeles was the only station to go up, albeit only by a tenth of a share.  The rest of the stations on our panel remained flat.  Comparing July of 2018 to this year, half the stations on our panel were up – led by Entercom’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco (+0.6) and WDCH, Baltimore “Bloomberg Radio 99.1” (+0.6) – and the other half were down, with Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington down 1.4 shares.  In July there were no all-news stations that ranked #1 in their respective markets.  However, KCBS-AM, San Francisco and WTOP, Washington both ranked #2.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

WSB, Atlanta Rebrands Simultaneous with Transmitter Move. Atlanta news/talker WSB-AM/WSBB-FM announces the move of its 95.5 FM transmitter and antenna from Flowery Branch to East Atlanta and the change of its official name and positioning statement to “95.5 WSB Atlanta’s News & Talk.” Cox Media Group says, “The move brings a stronger signal and better sound quality to residents in counties on the south, west and northwest side of metro Atlanta, including Henry, Paulding, Cobb, Bartow, Coweta, Cherokee and Douglas.”  WSB director of branding and programming Pete Spriggs says, “With the new tower location, at least one million more people in Atlanta will now be able to listen to 95.5 WSB without static, loud and clear, both at home and at work.  Office buildings in downtown and midtown Atlanta, Buckhead, Cumberland, and Perimeter will now be able to listen to 95.5 on an FM radio and hear our news and talk with a strong signal.”  The station will still be heard on the 750AM frequency as well.

Envision and GAB Partner to Distribute ‘Smart Talk Radio’ Format. The WCGO-AM, Chicago-based Smart Talk Radio format promises “no political talk.” Envision Networks and the GAB Radio Network are partnering to distribute the new 24/7 talk format to stations nationwide.  The “information and entertainment” format launched its weekend programming lineup last weekend (8/17-18) with a bevy of shows focusing on food, home improvement, pet, and travel shows.  It plans to announce its weekday lineup soon.  Envision Networks president and CEO Danno Wolkoff says, “Time to get back to programming that we all can enjoy listening to on the radio.  The debut of our weekend lineup really gets the network rolling and we’re excited to debut three new weekday daypart programs that will cover sports talk and betting, financial advice and planning, and lifestyle talk.”

Entercom’s News/Talk WYRD-FM and ‘ESPN Upstate’ Win SCBA Awards. The Entercom Greenville, South Carolina cluster took home a number of STAR Awards and Awards of Merit from the South Carolina Broadcasters Association. WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” morning drive talk show host Tara Servatius won best Radio Morning Show Personality and Best News/Talk Show.  WYRD-FM’s Vince Coakley program won an Award of Merit for Radio Show of the Year. Sports talk WYRD-AM’s “Straight Up with Sturg” show was honored with an Award of Merit for Best Sports Show.

TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Chicago sports media personality Mike North is now a media consultant and spokesperson for VegasScoresAndOdds.com. In this capacity, North will host a sports-betting show on the platform on Mondays and Wednesdays.  North says in a statement, “I’ve immersed myself into the sports handicapping business, like I did the radio talk show industry when I made the transition from hot dog stand owner to nationally recognized media figure.”  Aldo Gandia – who is North’s partner on the Bears Barroom Radio Network – will also co-host and produce the betting shows…..ESPN Audio announces that its “30 for 30 Podcasts,” with The Undefeated, debuts all five episodes from its new season of audio documentaries.  “The Sterling Affairs” examines the life of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.  It chronicles his rags to riches rise, his ultimate downfall, and how it all impacted the NBA. The series is hosted by ESPN senior writer Ramona Shelburne…..Paragon Media Strategies brings audio imaging producer Zach Gilltrap aboard to provide his services to Paragon clients. The company says, “Gilltrap has provided sound design creative services to radio stations, networks, studios and including Paragon clients for 20-plus years.  He will provide audio imaging production to select Paragon clients while continuing full time as the in-house producer at Colorado Public Radio, operator of Denver’s news/talk KCFR-FM, classical KVOD-FM, music discovery indie 102.3 and a statewide network of owned-and-affiliated stations.”…..WFDF, Detroit “910AM Superstation” adds ESPN Radio’s “Stephen A. Smith Show” to its lineup in the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot, effective September 9.  Station CEO Kevin Adell says, “We continue to evolve and provide exciting opportunities to our listening audience in the market.”

Trump Greenland Flap, 2020 Presidential Race, Financial Markets Activity/Economic Concerns, Epstein Suicide Aftermath, U.S.-China Trade War/Hong Kong Protests, Israel vs Tlaib/Omar, Iran Tanker Case, and Gun Legislation Issues Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/20). The controversy over President Trump’s question about buying Greenland; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020; the world’s financial markets activity and concerns about a U.S. recession; the aftermath of the suicide of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein; the trade war between the U.S. and China and the related protests in Hong Kong; Israel’s decision to ban U.S. Reps Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Israel; the status of an Iranian oil tanker the U.S. wants to prevent from reaching Syria; and the state of possible gun legislation in the wake of recent mass shootings 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.  KDGS-FM, Wichita “Power 93.5” program director and morning drive personality Greg “The Hitman” Williams is inducted into The Kansas African American Museum Hall of Fame.  He’ll be honored with the Broadcast Journalism Trailblazer Award by TKAAM at the organization’s annual Trailblazers Gala on October 5 in Wichita.  Entercom Wichita SVP and market manager Jackie Wise says, “We are thrilled to see Greg recognized for his significant contributions to radio and to the community.  We’re very proud to have him as part of the Entercom Wichita team.”…..iHeartMedia’s Dallas classic rock KEGL “97.1 The Eagle” announces that the lineup for its “Freakers’ Ball” live event on October 25 at Dos Equis Pavilion will include: Marilyn Manson, Bush, Bad Wolves, Filter, 10 Years, and Blacktop Mojo.  Station PD Don Davis says, “Who better to headline this huge annual event than Marilyn Manson.  Our ‘Eagle’ rockaholics have come to expect the best when it comes to our annual ‘Freakers’ Ball’ lineup and we always strive to deliver.”…..Entercom’s 4th annual “Riptide Music Festival powered by Ford” is taking place November 23 and 24 on Fort Lauderdale Beach at 1100 Seabreeze Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.  The two-day festival will feature more than 20 musical performers including: The Killers, The 1975, The Revivalists, Silversun Pickups, and Judah & The Lion, among others.  The event is being hosted by the company’s alternative WSFS-FM, Fort Lauderdale “104.3 The Shark.”…..iHeartMedia San Antonio announces that Victor “Tito” Caballero is named program director for KZEP-FM, San Antonio “104.5 Latino Hits.” Caballero has been the station’s creative director and afternoon drive host since December 2018.   He says, “I couldn’t be more excited to program a station in my hometown that plays a music format that I love.  To have the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most talented programmers in the world is humbling to say the least.”