The highly rated “Toucher & Rich” show – starring Fred Toucher (left) and Rich Shertenlieb (right) – on Beasley Media Group’s sports talk WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” is no more. Shertenlieb and Beasley were unable to come to terms on a new contract a few weeks after the company announced Toucher had inked a new, multiyear deal that will see him continue as lead host of the morning show. WBTS-TV, Boston “NBC10” reports that Toucher announced the change on this morning’s show and indicated he was surprised when management told him Shertenlieb was leaving the program. He also said management wanted him to tell the audience that the company made him “a multi-year offer that he chose not to accept” and that “negotiations weren’t going anywhere.” Shertenlieb has not commented publicly other than to inform the show’s X followers that he has a new X handle. See the “NBC10” report here.
WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive personality Fred Toucher and Beasley Media Group agree to terms on a new, multi-year contract that keeps Toucher at the helm of the morning show “for years to come.” The station says, “Under Toucher’s tenure, the show has been recognized among the top sports morning shows in America and has won numerous national industry awards including a Marconi Award. Toucher was a foundational member of the launch of the station in August 2009. Prior to joining the ‘98.5 Sports Hub’ team, he worked at the former legendary rock station, WBCN.” Toucher comments, “I am thrilled to be able to work with my Beasley family over the coming years. I will continue my record of immense competence and brilliance.” Station PD Rick Radzik adds, “Fred has been entertaining ‘Sports Hub’ listeners each morning since 2009 with his compelling viewpoints and opinions on a wide range of topics. We are very pleased that he will continue on with us for years to come.” There’s no mention of morning drive co-host and Toucher’s longtime partner Rich Shertenlieb in the press release and the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn writes about the possibility Shertenlieb will exit the station soon. Read his column here.
Morning drive personality Fred Toucher was back on the air on Friday (6/2) on Beasley Media Group’s WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” after missing the first four days of the week and told his listeners that he checked himself into a detox facility on May 28 to deal with his alcohol issues. CBS News Boston reports that Toucher explained on air, “I was voluntarily locking myself up so I wouldn’t drink anymore, so I knew I wouldn’t drink. That’s how I felt like, I was like, all right, I’ve lost control, I’ve lost control of alcohol, I’ve lost control, I’m not thinking like me, I need to make sure that I’m in a position where I do not have the opportunity to drink. Was it fun? It was the worst five days of my entire life.” Toucher says he intends to continue the outpatient therapy treatments. “The setup I have right now is by far the most gnarly setup I’ve had. I’m talking about like four hours a day of intense therapy for alcohol and intense therapy for anxiety… Got out yesterday morning and immediately went to an outpatient facility, then went to a therapist. Right after the show today, I’m going back to that outpatient facility. So, I’m taking this recovery very, very seriously.” Read the CBS News story here.
On Wednesday’s program, WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive host Rich Shertenlieb spoke about the absence of co-host Fred Toucher on this week’s programs after Toucher’s concerning social media posts last weekend. Those posts have since been deleted but they made references to wishing to die. Shertenlieb told listeners that their desire to know what’s going on with Toucher is understandable but that his hands are tied as anything he could say has to be approved by management. The Boston Globe reports that Shertenlieb said, “The last time he was out for an extended period, I gave an update and was gently asked for a lot of different reasons that any statement regarding him has to be approved by management. There have been statements that have been submitted, some have been approved, some haven’t been. It just turns into asking, ‘What can I say? What can I say?’ Listen, no one wants to be in this position. Fred doesn’t want to be in this position, the station doesn’t want to be in this position, I certainly don’t want to be in this position, but as of now, all I’ve been approved to tell you, because you’re such great listeners and we love you, is that he’s not here today, I’m not sure exactly when he’ll be back, but I’ve been a friend of Fred’s for years and I hope the best for him.” Read the Boston Globe story here.
WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive personality Fred Toucher returned to the program on Thursday after a medical leave of absence to deal with a throat problem that was affecting his voice. Co-host Rich Shertenleib had taken a sick day, so the two haven’t worked together since Toucher accused his co-workers of not reaching out to him while he dealt with what was thought to be a cancer scare. He was ultimately diagnosed with leukoplakia, something that can be caused by smoking. Toucher told his listeners, “I have two pieces of advice: Do not smoke and get a second opinion. They thought that I had cancer. If you saw pictures of the original thing they took of my throat, there was a big lump on my vocal cord, like a big lump. I wasn’t supposed to talk for two weeks. And now it just turns out to be Leukoplakia.”
According to a story by Brandon Contes in Awful Announcing, WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive co-host Fred Toucher says he may get his doctor’s permission to go back on the air after an extended absence for a chronic throat condition that led to a cancer scare. Toucher, who co-hosts the morning show with Rich Shertenlieb, says in a video he posted to Twitter, “I feel my voice is getting stronger. I think that if I go to the doctor on Monday, he is going to give me permission to go back on the air. So, what turned out as a big, big cancer scare, where I was given assurances that it was cancer in my throat, might turn out to be that I needed not to talk for a very long time.” Read the Awful Announcing piece here.
Fred Toucher – co-host of the “Toucher & Rich” morning drive show on Beasley Media Group’s sports talk WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” – says he’ll be having surgery on his throat and thanks a listener for connecting him with the doctor that will do the procedure. Toucher has missed time on the air recently due to a persistent throat problem that’s affected his voice. Other doctors have not been able to pinpoint the problem. Yesterday (4/10), his on-air partner Rich Shertenlieb read a statement from Toucher on the program that read: “My voice has been messed up for a long time. I had been going to doctors and they didn’t seem overly concerned. However, a listener heard me and put me in touch with a doctor he works with. I went and things didn’t go great. He found some things in my throat that concerned him. He told me not to worry because he could fix all of it. Not to sound dramatic but it is possible a listener saved my life by setting up that appointment.” Toucher also said via social media that he plans to be back but is under a “no talking” order from the doctor and adds, “To that, I am grateful, even though the doctor doesn’t take insurance. Between this and my divorce, I’m f—ed financially! Sorry kids – Christmas is going to look a lot different this year.”
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Mothers of Contention,” looks back at this past week of 5/2 to 5/6. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS; Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; Thom Hartmann, talk show host, WYD Media; Todd Feinburg, talk show host, WTIC, Hartford; and Gregg Stebben, correspondent, beamz.live. The show airs weekends on WONK-FM, Washington, DC; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; KMZQ, Las Vegas; WTPL, Manchester, NH; WEMJ, Laconia, NH; WTSN, Dover-Portsmouth, NH; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; Podcast Radio UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
iHeartMedia Reports Q1 2022 Consolidated Revenue Up 19.4%. Financial results from the first quarter of 2022 for iHeartMedia Inc. reveal consolidated revenue of $843 million, an increase of 19.4% over the same period a year ago. The company’s net loss shrank during the first quarter to $48.7 million from the $242 million net loss posted during Q1 of 2021. iHeartMedia posted operating income of $12.3 million for the first quarter, compared to the operating loss of $76.4 million it reported in Q1 of 2021. Looking at the company’s reporting by segment, broadcast radio was up 16.2% on revenue of $416.5 million, and networks was up 2.1% on revenue of $117.6 million. Those, along with sponsorships & events, comprise the company’s Multiplatform Group. The Digital Audio Group consists of digital excluding podcasting, which reported revenue of $145.7 million (up 22.2%), and podcasting, which reported revenue of $68.5 million (an increase of 78.7%). The company’s Audio & Media Services Group reported revenue of $60.9 million (up 10.4%) for the quarter. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “We’re pleased to report another quarter of strong results, and believe our performance is further evidence of the successful execution of our digital transformation and multiplatform strategy, and the power of our position as the #1 audio company in America across broadcast radio, digital radio, and podcasting. We remain committed to building on iHeart’s transformation into a data-led, digitally focused business; to investing in areas with high-growth potential; and to continuing our focus on innovation and being at the forefront of new technologies and digital platforms which create incremental growth opportunities for Audio.”
‘Toucher & Rich’ Morning Show Expands to Springfield, Mass. Market. The “Toucher & Rich” morning program based at Beasley Media Group’s sports talk WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” will be heard on rock Saga Communications’ WLZX-FM/W253CD in the Springfield-Northampton, Massachusetts market beginning on May 9. The program, hosted by Fred Toucher (left) and Rich Shertenlieb (right), began expanding to affiliate stations throughout New England last fall. This is an uncommon move for Saga, which has a history of keeping its morning drive programs live and local. Toucher & Rich comment, “We’re excited to be launching ‘Toucher & Rich’ in Springfield and Northampton on ‘Lazer 99.3 and 98.5’ with our new friends at Saga Communications. We’re fortunate to have some of the most loyal listeners in radio and look forward to introducing our show to a whole new audience of potential T&R diehards.”
Moms & Media 2022. “Two years into COVID,” Moms’ media consumption is changed. “The Research Moms” at Edison Research updated their annual report in a Thursday webinar consultant Holland Cooke attended; and HC’s “one-sentence version” is: “To reach Mom, use smartphones, Alexa, Facebook, and TikTok.” Click here for his notes, and links to download the report and watch a video of the narrated presentation. Read more here.
WJR-AM, Detroit Celebrates 100 Years on the Air. On Wednesday (5/4), Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR-AM, Detroit kicked off a year-long Centennial celebration. WJR signed on for the first time on May 4, 1922, as WCX, which changed a few years later to WJR to reflect the ownership of the Jewett Radio and Phonograph Company. Cumulus says, “The station has served the community with excellence for 100 years, with a 50,000-watt signal that can be heard across nearly half the country at night, providing the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and the Upper Midwest with news, music, sports, and information by some of the most talented people in the radio industry. Through the years, WJR’s legendary lineup has featured broadcasting giants such as Paul W. Smith, Jack Parr, Mitch Albom, J.P. McCarthy, Frank Beckmann, Ernie Harwell, Guy Gordon, and Rush Limbaugh.” In the last several months leading up to Wednesday’s 100th year birthday, WJR has presented dozens of on-air vignettes that mark memorable moments, tell interesting stories, and feature the unique sound and talented people from WJR’s history. In addition, the station has populated www.wjr.com with archival video, audio and photos that tell the story of WJR’s first 100 years. Cumulus Detroit VP and market manage Steve Finateri comments, “Being at WJR is like being part of an all-star team at every position in this famous Fisher Building. WJR is iconic because of the extremely high standards set by so many world class broadcasters over the past 100 years. Today, those same high standards and our ‘blow torch coverage’ is what still attracts top newsmakers from around the Great Lakes Region and is the reason for our continued success. We take great pride in our programming, our business and civic relationships, and serve the community by raising millions every year for numerous worthy charities that improve the quality of life in Detroit. The best-of-the-best seem to find their way to WJR, and I know that tradition will continue on for the next 100 years.”
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Windy City media personality and former WGN-AM, Chicago morning drive host Steve Cochran is going to be heard on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM in mornings next week. Cochran will guest host the program that is without a permanent host since Bruce St. James exited the station last month. Since exiting WGN, Cochran has been producing a twice-weekly podcast titled, “Live from My Office.”…..Audio streaming service TuneIn names Tom Fuelling chief financial officer. Fuelling has served as CFO for Hulu, OpenX, ARTISTdirect and most recently, Spokeo, Inc. TuneIn CEO Richard Stern says, “Tom is an incredible addition to our growing leadership team. His experience scaling global media businesses that consumers love is unparalleled. Working in a competitive landscape, TuneIn has emerged as a leader in live audio streaming and we look forward to working with Tom as he’ll help us sustain and maintain our growth both domestically and abroad.”…..FOX News Media, in partnership with the National Merit Scholarship Program, announces the selection of the recipients of the third annual Dr. Charles Krauthammer Memorial Scholarship. This year’s scholarships will be endowed to Emmett Gaffney, son of vice president of documentary programming, Brian Gaffney and Grace LeCroy, the daughter of FOX News assignment desk manager Lillian LeCroy and FOX News Edge photojournalist Phil LeCroy. The winners will be featured on the network’s evening newscast, “Special Report with anchor Bret Baier,” on which Dr. Krauthammer was a fixture over the years. Additionally, Daniel Krauthammer will appear on the program tonight to discuss his father’s legacy. In making the announcement, FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott says, “We are pleased to continue the tradition of honoring Charles Krauthammer’s extraordinary and celebrated career. Emmett and Grace are exceptional students whose many talents extend beyond the classroom. It is our hope that Charles’ brilliant intellect, integrity and courage will serve as an inspiration for them throughout their next endeavors in higher education. Congratulations to Emmett, Grace, and their families.”
Roe v Wade Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 2-6. The leak of a draft decision indicating the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v Wade was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was partisan politics tied with the 2022 and 2024 elections, followed by January 6 committee activity tied with Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP at #3. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.