Audacy announces a new, quarterly town hall program called “Audacy Conversations” involving 12 of its all-news formatted stations. The company says, “The quarterly program will feature a robust week of coordinated local coverage in Audacy’s news markets, a live town hall broadcast rotationally hosted by one of its brands and a syndicated news special heard across participating news and news/talk brands and nationwide via the Audacy app.” Audacy VP of news Bill Smee comments, “‘Audacy Conversations’ aims to foster meaningful conversations on vital topics, exemplifying the core of Audacy’s news platform and radio’s unwavering commitment to informing and connecting the local communities we serve. We look forward to leveraging the power and influence of our combined news brands to cultivate conversations and connections on topics relevant to our local communities throughout the year.” The next “Audacy Conversations” explores the state of downtown. It says, “Over three years later, America’s cities are still grappling with challenges and unexpected fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. WBBM Newsradio (WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM) in Chicago will host a live town hall on November 9 to explore those impacts in-depth and what’s at stake for businesses and community members as cities look to revitalize their downtowns.” The program will air on WBBM Newsradio, KRLD NewsRadio 1080 (KRLD-AM) in Dallas, WWJ News Radio 950 (WWJ-AM) in Detroit, KNX News 97.1 FM (KNX-FM) in Los Angeles, WCBS 880 (WCBS-AM) in New York, KYW Newsradio (103.9 FM/1060 AM) in Philadelphia and KCBS All News (106.9 FM/740 AM) in San Francisco on November 16 at 7:00 pm local time. It will also air on WBEN-AM, Buffalo; WCCO-AM, Minneapolis; WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans; KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh; and KMOX-AM, St. Louis. Throughout the week of November 13 to 17, the all-news stations will air special content catered to the town hall topics, including interviews, news stories and feature reporting.
A lot of media people outside of the Buffalo market don’t know that Audacy Buffalo SVP and market manager Tim Wenger and WBEN-AM morning drive personality Susan Rose are a married couple – for 30 years now – who met at WBEN in 1986 when Tim was hired as a programming assistant and Susan trained him for the position. Tim has risen through the programming ranks to become SVP and market manager and Susan co-hosts the news/talk station’s “A New Morning” show with Brian Mazurowski. Interestingly, Tim has been Susan’s boss since 1993, including during the period when they co-hosted the “Buffalo’s Evening News” program together in the mid- to late-1990s. They are featured in a profile story in the Buffalo News. Read this cool piece here.
Sports talk WGR, Buffalo announces that its longtime morning drive host Howard Simon is retiring from his position with the station on March 3, after a radio career of more than 33 years. After attending college in Buffalo, Simon launched his radio career in 1989 on WJJL, Niagara Falls. He eventually left to work in Toledo, Ohio but returned to Western New York and has spent the last 18 years with Jeremy White as his co-host in mornings on Audacy’s WGR. Simon says, “I’ve been very lucky to have worked alongside some wonderful people at WJJL, WBEN, Empire Sports Network and finally at WGR. I wish I could list everyone by name, but that isn’t possible. Let me just say, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my many co-workers over the years. I’ve made some great, lifelong friendships, while getting a chance to do something I truly loved. I would like to mention my co-host for the last 18 years at WGR, Jeremy White. That is the longest I worked with anyone by far! Jeremy is super talented, extremely creative, and has a great feel for what topics will be of most interest to our listening audience.”
WGR, Buffalo Morning Host Howard Simon Pares Back Work Schedule. As reported in the Buffalo News, WGR-AM morning drive sports talk personality Howard Simon is cutting his work schedule back from five to three mornings per week. Simon – who’s co-hosted the morning show with Jeremy White for the past 18 years – tells the paper there are a couple reasons for the change: “He turned 60 in June, has been in sports radio for 30 years and the job isn’t as easy as many listeners believe it is to talk about sports for four hours daily.” Simon adds, “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. It has been difficult to live up to the demands of the job. It’s a lot of work, a lot of preparation.” The News reports that WGR personality Joe DiBiase is expected to co-host with White on Wednesday and Thursday, with Simon on the air on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. As far as his future plans, Simon says he and the station will address the situation after the football season.
Brian Kelly Exits Audacy St. Louis. According to a report from KSDK-TV, St. Louis, the staff cuts taking place across the country at Audacy-owned radio stations have hit the company’s St. Louis cluster and among those let go is Brian Kelly, a reporter and weekend host of “Total Information AM” for news/talk KMOX-AM. The report notes that Kelly first served with KMOX from 1997 to 2002. He returned to the station in 2009.
FOX News Digital Leads News Brands in July Tally of Multiplatform Minutes and Views. According to data from Comscore’s July 2022 ratings, FOX News Digital wrapped the month as the top-performing news organization in the competitive set in multiplatform minutes and views. FOX News Digital says it closed out the month reaching over 2.8 billion total multiplatform minutes (topping CNN’s 2.2 billion total platform minutes), 1.4 billion total multiplatform views (beating CNN’s 1.25 billion total platform views) but was far behind CNN’s 113 million multiplatform unique visitors with its 81 million multiplatform unique visitors. FOX News Digital also says it topped The NewYorkTimes.com with multiplatform unique visitors for the first time since January 2022.
Diversion Audio Partners with Gemini XIII for Talk and Fiction Podcasts. This partnership between podcast creator Diversion Audio and Gemini XIII brings new shows in the talk and fiction genres to podcast platforms. New programs being readied for this fall include: “The Shows We Watched,” hosted by TV/film critic and author James King and lifestyle influencer Emily Johnston; “War Queens,” featuring “Game of Thrones” and “Fast & Furious” actress Nathalie Emmanuel; “The Ali Rogin Show,” hosted by the PBS “NewsHour” correspondent and author; and the romantic fiction podcast, “The Royals of Malibu” based on the popular romance book series, The Royals by Erin Watt.
FBI Raid/Documents Investigation, Primaries/2024 Presidential Race, Migrant Busing, Russia-Ukraine War, The Economy, Extreme Weather, and Tony Fauci to Leave NIAID Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/22). The aftermath of the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago and documents investigation; the primary races for the November midterm elections and speculation about the nominees for the 2024 presidential race; the immigration troubles at the U.S.-Mexico border and Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s busing migrants to Washington, DC; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the assassination of Darya Dugina, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, the “spiritual guide” to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; the inflation making food and consumer goods expensive and activity on the world’s financial markets; the drought affecting much of the U.S., Europe & China and the flooding in Texas; and Dr. Tony Fauci’s December exit from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Round Two of April PPMs Released. The second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s April PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, DC, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s April 2022 sweep covered March 31 – April 27. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways for this round of markets. In Boston, iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO sheds four-tenths to finish with a 4.3 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) but rises to the #7 rank, and sister all-news WBZ-FM dips by eight-tenths to finish with a 4.7 share and remains ranked #6. Bonneville International’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle loses 1.1 shares and wraps the survey with a 6.3 share that pulls it out of first place to #2. Meanwhile, Lotus Communications’ crosstown all-news KNWN-AM/FM dips by seven-tenths for a 4.3 share finish good for the #9 rank. In the Twin Cities, Audacy’s news/talk WCCO loses half a share for a 3.8 share finish and the #13 rank, while iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talk KTLK-AM sheds six-tenths for a 3.0 share and the #14 rank. And Hubbard Broadcasting’s talk KTMY-FM ticks up one-tenth for a 2.7 share finish good for the #15 rank. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well as the first round) here.
WOLB-AM, Baltimore Morning Host Larry Young Recovering from Leg Amputation. The Baltimore Sun reports that WOLB-AM, Baltimore morning drive host Larry Young is recovering after having surgery to remove his leg below the knee, the result of an infection in his foot that was complicated by his Type 2 diabetes. The 72-year-old Young has been off the air since April 10. He’s been hosting the morning show on Radio One’s WOLB-AM for the past 25 years and is planning to retire from the station at the end of this year. As noted in a story below, Young is being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from TALKERS magazine at TALKERS 2022 at Hofstra University on June 10. Young tells the paper that he expects to be back on the air in June and back to normal activities by August.
Cumulus-Signal Hill: YouTube Most Used U.S. Podcast Platform. The latest Podcast Download – Spring 2022 Report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights that examines weekly podcast listeners has been released. Cumulus says the report is part of its commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Cumulus EVP, marketing and president, Westwood One Suzanne Grimes says, “Our new Podcast Download Report uncovers a major surge in video podcast audiences as YouTube becomes the most-used platform to access podcasts. Podcast advertising reaches millions of younger consumers who have abandoned linear television for advertising-free video streaming services.” Some highlights from the report: 1) Six in 10 weekly podcast listeners say they prefer podcasts with video. When asked how they prefer listening to podcasts, 28% say they like a podcast video they actively watch while listening and 29% indicate they have the video in the background/minimized while listening. 43% say they use audio only with no video; 2) YouTube is now the leading audience destination. When asked which platform they listen to the most to access podcasts, 24.2% say YouTube, followed by Spotify (23.8%) and Apple Podcasts (16%); 3) The greater the time spent with podcasts, the more the podcast ads generate consumer response and business outcomes. As a result of hearing a podcast ad, heavy podcast listeners (those who listen six-plus hours per week) are more likely to have searched online for a product, discovered a new product/service, made a purchase, used a promo code, or followed a brand on social media. See the complete report here.
Edison Research: SiriusXM Top Podcast Network by Reach. According to just-released data from Edison Research, the Top Podcast Networks in the U.S. for the first quarter of 2022 are: SXM Media, Spotify, and iHeartRadio, respectively. This ranker measures reach as a percentage of the weekly podcasting audience. Rankings are compiled by measuring the total unduplicated reach of all the shows represented by a given network. Listening is credited to the producer and/or the network that represents the advertising for the show, not the platform or app that the listener uses to access the podcast. Rounding out the top 10 are: 4) NPR 5) The New York Times 6) Audioboom 7) Audacy 8) Cumulus Podcast Network 9) Wondery and 10) PRX. Edison Research director of research Gabriel Soto says, “Edison Podcast Metrics is the only dataset that covers the entire U.S. podcast space. By surveying listeners and measuring their actual consumption, the data doesn’t depend on opt-ins from networks and isn’t subject to the various issues with counting downloads. These top networks offer a diverse range of shows that appeal broadly to listeners.”
TALKERS Announces Recipients of 2022 Awards. Ian Freeman, Mandy Connell, Larry Young, and Jeff Katz to be recognized at TALKERS 2022.
Ian Freeman is the co-host, along with Mark Edge, of a long-running syndicated radio talk show titled, “Free Talk Live,” that emanates from Keene, New Hampshire evenings 7:00 pm – 10 pm ET. The main theme of the contemporary news and topics show is freedom and the ideals of the First Amendment. Although still on the air regularly, Ian Freeman is currently under federal arrest on a wide array of charges ranging from money laundering to wire fraud. He maintains his innocence and claims the FBI and other government agencies are hell bent on shutting him up after years of dealing with the nuisance of the show’s activism and controversial information on such subjects as civil disobedience, including taking a frontline stance on the emergence and controversies of cryptocurrencies. He will begin his trial later this year. Ian Freeman will receive the TALKERS Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech (also known as the “Freedom of Speech” award) at TALKERS 2022 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 10.
Mandy Connell is the 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm midday host at KOA, Denver. Prior to her present position, her radio background includes KHOW, Denver as well as heritage station WHAS, Louisville. She began her career in Florida doing news/talk and hot talk after having been a flight attendant who decided to attend broadcasting school and begin a career in radio. She is widely recognized as an influential, reasonable, and independent conservative political voice as well as an entertaining conversationalist whose repertoire includes all aspects of pop culture and day-to-day issues. Her star continues to be on the rise. Mandy Connell will receive the TALKERS Judy Jarvis Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions by a Woman to Talk Radio (also known as the “Woman of the Year” award) at TALKERS 2022 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 10.
Larry Young has been the beloved morning show host on African American community talker WOLB, Baltimore for the past 25 years and is about to retire at the end of 2022. The “Larry Young Morning Show” is widely regarded as the top black radio talk show in Maryland. The “Larry Young Morning Show” was also named “Best Radio Station” by Baltimore City Paper in 2007, 2008, 2009 and in 2010. He also has been honored by the community with such awards as the 2007 Pinnacle Award given by American Development Consortium, 2009 Ed Bradley Award given by Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2011 Unsung Hero Award given by Grace Outreach Fundraising Committee, 2012 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award given by Greater Baltimore Urban League and he was the recipient of the TALKERS Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2015. Larry Young will receive the TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award at TALKERS 2022 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 10.
Jeff Katz is the 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm host at WRVA, Richmond. He is a former police officer in Philadelphia who traded his badge for a microphone and began a successful three-decade, award-winning career as a talk show host on major stations in in Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, San Francisco and, since 2013, at the legendary WRVA. Jeff volunteers thousands of hours to help members of the community with a special focus on law enforcement officers and disabled children. President Donald J. Trump honored Jeff’s service by presenting him with The President’s Award for Volunteer Service. In addition, FBI Director Christopher Wray honored Jeff by naming him the winner of The Director’s Community Leadership Award for 2019. Katz will be the recipient of the TALKERS Sharon L. Harrison Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service by a Radio Talk Show Host (also known as the “Humanitarian of the Year” award) at TALKERS 2022 at Hofstra University on Friday, June 10.
TALKERS News Notes. According to the latest data from Comscore, FOX News Digital finished April 2022 as the “top-performing news organization in the competitive set in multiplatform minutes.” FOX News Digital closed out the month reaching 2.9 billion total multiplatform minutes, 1.5 billion total multiplatform views, and 77 million multiplatform unique visitors. FOX News says April also marked the 14th straight month that it outpaced every news brand in the competitive set in multiplatform minutes. While FOX News Digital eclipses competitor CNN.com in multiplatform total views and total minutes, CNN.com tops FOX News Digital in unique visitors by a wide margin…..iHeartMedia Charlotte and the NFL’s Carolina Panthers strike a deal for the teams games to be heard on classic rock WRFX-FM “99.7 The Fox” starting this season. The team’s game broadcasts have been heard on Radio One’s WBT-AM/FM for the past 17 seasons. 99.7 The Fox will carry all Panthers game broadcasts, the Panthers pregame and postgame shows as well the team’s weekly coach’s show. The station will provide unique listener experiences and will have an on-site presence at Bank of America Stadium during Panthers game days. In addition, the new relationship will benefit from iHeartMedia’s audio partnership with the NFL, which features podcast distribution via the iHeartPodcast Network…..iHeartMedia chairman & CEO Bob Pittman and president, CEO & COO Rich Bressler will participate in a question and answer session during J.P. Morgan’s 50th Annual Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference in Boston on Tuesday May 24 at 3:30 pm ET. A live webcast of the session will be available to the general public at the start of the session through a link on the Investors homepage of iHeartMedia’s website.
Dick Rakovan Dies. Radio executive Dick Rakovan has passed, according to numerous reports, including this one from Radio Ink. Consultant and TALKERS magazine columnist Holland Cooke says, “His CapCities resume included WJR, Detroit; WKBW, Buffalo; and WPRO, Providence where he was our station manager in the 1970s – radio Camelot. Later, when he ran the radio group for Outlet Broadcasting, he vectored me into programming WSNE, Providence and WTOP, Washington. He also served with WFYR, Chicago and WWRC, Washington and was VP of the Radio Advertising Bureau.” Rakovan was honored by the Illinois Broadcasters Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. See that video here.
Buffalo Shooting/Great Replacement Theory, Midterm Primaries/Trump & the GOP, the Economy, Russia-Ukraine War/Finland & Sweden Apply to NATO, Elon Musk & Twitter, COVID-19, and UFO Hearings Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/17). The aftermath of the deadly Buffalo shooting and talk of the Great Replacement Theory; the primary races for the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the financial markets, inflation, and concerns about a major recession on the horizon; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and Finland and Sweden apply to NATO; Elon Musk’s attempt to take over Twitter; the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.; and Tuesday’s congressional hearing on UFOs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.