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Monday Memo: R.I.P. Bill Balls. “He’s the Central Casting baritone, shouting or growling-through whatever promo copy the station sends.” And consultant Holland Cooke warns that “because radio ratings – and your advertisers’ results – are a memory test, conformity is detrimental to station imaging.” In this week’s column – and now that we’re a Month into the MLB season – HC points to baseball’s unlikeliest success story as a template for freshening station imaging. Read it here.
Pending Business: Drop These Excuses to Earn More. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column about two tired old excuses that no seller should be uttering in today’s media landscape. When negotiating rates, are you still arguing with your client using the phrases, “We don’t give it away” and “We have hard costs?” If so, Steve explains why this is dated and is only harming your potential commission. Read more here.
Sarah van Mosel Named EVP of iHeart Audience Network. Digital audio revenue pro Sarah van Mosel is named executive vice president for iHeartMedia’s iHeart Audience Network. She was most recently chief revenue officer at Stitcher, where she led podcast revenue strategy across SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher. The iHeart Audience Network is iHM’s new audience-based buying service that provides advertisers with inventory “sourced from the expansive iHeartRadio database and other premium publishers across streaming and podcasting.” In her new role, van Mosel will assist with iAN sales operations, publisher development and podcast slate partnerships and will report to Conal Byrne, CEO of the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. Byrne says, “The iHeart Audience Network is the first and only audio marketplace that seamlessly unifies all forms of audio with one common set of audiences, and we’re thrilled Sarah is bringing her expertise, vision and talent to take these unique capabilities to their full potential for advertisers and publishers. She’s been at the forefront of innovation in podcasting from the very beginning and her unique perspective on the rapidly growing medium will ensure this venture becomes the premier service for all brands. The team is looking forward to seeing where she takes iAN next.”
Cumulus Media Ups Brian Philips to Chief Content Officer. Rising to chief content officer for Cumulus Media is Brian Philips, who has been serving the company as EVP of content and audience since 2019. Cumulus president and CEO Mary G. Berner says, “Brian Philips is an exceptional executive and the perfect choice to lead our programming efforts as we continue to execute our audio-first strategy, which is transforming the company from a traditional radio broadcaster into a multi-dimensional audio media company. This promotion reflects Brian’s tremendous contributions, and I have full confidence in his creative vision, operational expertise, and savvy leadership to guide us through this critical evolution.”
TALKERS TIP. Excellent Correspondent Available for Interviews from War. News directors and talk show hosts take note. Gregg Stebben, who spent years being interviewed every month by talk stations all over the country as an editor for Men’s Health magazine, is now in Poland and Ukraine as a volunteer doing radio interviews about the Ukraine situation. He’s available to be “Your-Man-in-Poland/Ukraine.” In an interview, he can talk about the situation with refugees in Poland and all over Europe, his personal experiences with Ukrainian refugees, and the mood in Poland and Western Ukraine. Are the Polish overwhelmed by absorbing almost 3 million refugees and/or terrified they might be next on Putin’s list? He can also talk about his trip to the Ukraine border, and what he’s seen and heard in Poland that makes him fear this Russian invasion will turn into a global conflict if Putin is successful in Ukraine. To schedule an interview with him: Gregg@Stebben.com, 843.722.3100 (cell or text).
WBAP, Fort Worth/Dallas Celebrates 100 Years of Service. Fort Worth/Dallas news/talk station WBAP-AM begins celebrating its 100th year of service to the market today (5/2) from its Victory Park studios. Station program director Bruce Collins says, “We begin the celebration today and have exciting things planned throughout the year to celebrate. WBAP has meant so much to the DFW community. It is going to be a fun year.” The celebration was kicked off this morning as the “WBAP Morning News” team featuring Hal Jay and Brian Estridge welcomed back notable contributors, including former on-air talent and executives that “helped WBAP become a trusted leader in Dallas-Fort Worth.” The station plans to continue its centennial celebration with historical audio clips played on the station daily, the launch of a podcast series highlighting the key figures in the station’s 100 years, and a celebration in the fall. WBAP signed on for the first time under the direction of famed Fort Worth businessman Amon G. Carter on Tuesday, May 2, 1922, operating at 10 watts of power. Within the first six months, WBAP established itself as a service to the community, becoming the first station to air livestock market reports and weekly church services. As the station continued to evolve, WBAP would become the first to broadcast a rodeo, air remote broadcasts, and send a war correspondent to Europe in the early days of World War II. Additionally, WBAP was the first station with regularly scheduled newscasts. Today, WBAP operates as a 50,000-watt, clear-channel station operated by Cumulus Media.
Tom Webster to Leave EVP Role with Edison Research. Announced in his “I Hear Things” blog on Friday (4/29), Edison Research SVP Tom Webster will be stepping away from his role with the company next month. He outlines his new professional goals, saying, “…I want to continue to work to establish a podcast industry: a place where established networks and independent podcasters alike have fair access to information, revenue, and opportunity. I think there are some structural issues in podcasting, and some information arbitrage, as well. I want to work on both of these issues, and help to create the sandbox I wish to continue to play in for years to come.” You can read it here.
The Economy, White House Correspondents Dinner, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, Russia-Ukraine War/Pelosi Visit, Elon Musk & Twitter, COVID-19, NFL Draft, and Naomi Judd Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The state of the U.S. economy, high gas & food prices, and threats of a recession; Saturday evening’s White House Correspondents Dinner; the primary races leading up to the November mid-term elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and Nancy Pelosi’s visit with Volodymyr Zelensky; the controversy surrounding Elon Musk’s attempt to acquire Twitter; the rate of COVID-19 infections in the U.S., the debate over masks, and China’s zero-COVID policy; the weekend’s 2022 NFL Draft; and the death of country legend Naomi Judd after a long battle with mental illness were some of the most-talked-about stars on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.