Industry Views

Passion Versus AI

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling on Sunday

imLast week I had the privilege of moderating a panel at the TALKERS conference. Confession: I listen to speech patterns and tones more than words.

The prestigious panel featured Dan Mandis, program director and host, WTN-FM, Nashville; Ross Kaminsky, host KOA, Denver; Phil Boyce, SVP, spoken word format, Salem Media Group/ops VP, New York region/WMCA/AM 970; Josh Leng, CEO, Talk Media Network; and Matt Meany, program director, WABC, New York/Red Apple Media.

Yes, their collective knowledge and experience is unbeatable. They answered questions of great interest: How does iHeart measure social media accomplishments? Should one be fired for social media or podcast content or just for their air work? Establishing a syndication base, how does that happen? Where are the women – kudos to Salem’s Phil Boyce for celebrating their women hosts. What do programmers really look for in hosts? All valuable answers.  See the video of this session here.

Their words aren’t the “win.” The win is the fact that each of these pros has passion, passion and more passion. Their knowledge results in caring, heartfelt, supportive shares. They care about the future; they care about their craft. Programmers have to be optimistic about radio’s positive impact in order for them to do their jobs. Their descriptive tones make radio appealing.

The panel represents radio’s caretakers, gardeners, guides. The executives on the stage reveal qualities and qualifications that become overwhelmingly apparent in their demeanor and speech patterns. That’s what I hear.

Radio does not have to compete or fret over AI.  AI coders have to fret over their inevitable failure to capture or even coldly mimic the depth of emotion and confidence expressed by Matt, Josh, Phil, Ross and Dan. Good luck with that algorithm …losers.

Walter Sabo was the youngest Executive Vice President in the history of NBC. The youngest VP in the history of ABC. He was a consultant to RKO General longer than Bill Drake. Walter was the in-house consultant to Sirius for eight years. He has never written a resume. Contact him at or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at

Industry News

TALKERS News Notes

“You Better You Bet,” the flagship program of Audacy’s BetQL Network joins the program schedule at CRC Broadcasting’s KQFN-AM/K257CD, Phoenix in the 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm daypart.

Salem Media Group announces that the “Main Street Matters” podcast, produced by Job Creators Network, joins the Salem Podcast Network. The small business-focused program features inspirational real-life stories of the struggles and successes of small business owners. It is co-hosted by Alfredo Ortiz and Elaine Parker.

SiriusXM unveils the new Jeff Lewis Channel on the SiriusXM app. The channel featured content from the SiriusXM Radio Andy show, plus three new shows: the “Jeff Lewis Live After Show” with comedians Brandy Howard and Julie Goldman, “Flipping Out Friday,” as well as “Chumps Happy Hour,” featuring a rotating cast of hosts.

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TALKERS 2023: Video of “Programming News/Talk Radio in the Digital Era – Part 2” Posted

During the coming days, videos of all of TALKERS 2023’s numerous sessions conducted June 2 at Hofstra University will be posted, continuing today with the panel discussion “Programmingim News/Talk Radio in the Digital Era – Part 2.” The session, sponsored by “Our American Stories,” is introduced by Alex Fife, VP operations, Southeast, iHeartMedia – Total Traffic & Weather Network (pictured at right) and moderated by Walter Sabo, CEO, Sabo Media and host (Walter Sterling) of Sterling on Sunday (pictured above). Panelists (pictured below from left to right) include Dan Mandis, program director and host, WTN-FM, Nashville; Ross Kaminsky, host KOA, Denver; Phil Boyce, SVP, spoken word format, Salem Media Group/ops VP, New York region/WMCA/AM 970; Josh Leng, CEO, Talk Media Network; and Matt Meany, program director, WABC, New York/Red Apple Media.  See the video of this session here


Industry News

Salem Media Group and The Epoch Times Enter Strategic Partnership

A new licensing and distribution agreement has been struck between Salem Media Group’s OTT streaming platform SalemNOW and The Epoch Times’ EpochTV. As a result, EpochTV’s feature-length documentary, LEAVING CALIFORNIA: The Untold Story, is currently available onim SalemNOW for rental or purchase. SalemNOW general manager Robert Ellis comments, “It’s a privilege to partner with The Epoch Times to offer their incredible film, LEAVING CALIFORNIA, on SalemNOW.” The film’s writer and producer Siyamak Khorrami imcomments, “SalemNOW’s rapid growth and success make them an ideal partner for us as we look to increase awareness about the critical issues we address in our film. These issues are impacting communities beyond California and we all need to be informed.” The feature-length documentary explores the unprecedented mass exodus of Californians that “takes viewers on an intimate journey of love, loss, tragedy and hope as residents face the prospect of leaving their beloved state.”

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TALKERS News Notes

Salem Media Group announces that it will present virtually at the Singular Research Spring Select Webinar on May 24 at 4:45 ET. The presentation will be available on the investor relations portion of the company’s website prior to the company’s presentation.

Audacy Philadelphia celebrated Operation Legacy, a home rehabilitation project in partnership with Travis Manion Foundation, with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at local veteran Kris Giuranna’s home on May 19. The stations – including news/talk WPHT, all-news KYW, and sports talk WIP-FM – teamed up to provide United States Marine Corps veteran a home fit for a hero and honor his contributions to the country. Audacy Philly SVP and market manager David Yadgaroff says, “It is so rewarding to watch this project come to life. Audacy Philly, along with our partners Travis Manion Foundation, Window Nation, Impriano Roofing and Main Line Pro Painting, are thrilled to honor Kris and his service to our country by providing him with the needed renovations for his new home.”

The Newsmax syndicated radio program “The Rob Carson Show” adds new affiliate station news/talk WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to its roster of affiliates. Resort Broadcasting also operates news/talk WUSX-FM, Seaford Delaware and simulcasts most of the programming on the two stations. Rob Carson’s show airs on WGMD’s 92.7 FM frequency.

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Salem Media Group First Quarter Revenue Up 1.4%

Salem Media Group reports its operating results for the first quarter of 2023 and reveals consolidated revenue was $63.5 million, an increase of 1.4% over the first quarter of 2022. The company’s total operating expensesim increased 17.4% to $67.7 million leading to an operating loss of $4.2 million as compared to operating income of $5 million posted in Q1 of 2022. Salem reports a net loss of $5.2 million, compared to Q1 2022’s net income of $1.7 million. Salem reports in three segments – Broadcast, Digital Media, and Publishing. Broadcast revenue for the quarter was $48.3 million (down 0.2%), Digital Media was $10.5 million (up 2%), and Publishing revenue was $4.6 million (up 19.7%). Looking ahead, the company is projecting total revenue to decline between 5% and 7% from the second quarter 2022 total revenue of $68.7 million and expects operating expenses to increase between 3% and 6% compared to Q2 of 2022.

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Carolyn Cassidy Named GM for Salem in Tampa-Sarasota

Salem Media Group announces the appointment of Carolyn Cassidy as general manager of its five-station radio group and of Salem Surround in Tampa and Sarasota, Florida. Cassidy has been serving as general manager of the company’s Columbus, Ohio operations and will continue in the role in addition to her newim Tampa and Sarasota responsibilities. Salem Media Group regional VP Val Carolin comments, “As we worked to fill the big shoes that Barb Yoder has worn so effectively these past 12 years as general manager, we were thrilled to learn that Carolyn had a strong desire to return to her Florida roots and serve the communities in her home state. Carolyn has proven herself to be a tireless leader with a deep commitment to service. She’s a hard and smart worker who gets involved and gets things done. I’m confident that the dedication and the skills she possesses will prove to be a great fit for our strong Tampa/Sarasota operation.”

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Salem Media Group Announces Specials for Florida Broadcasters

In the aftermath of iHeartMedia’s firing of longtime WFLA, Tampa morning personality Jack Harris, Salem Media Group had considered bringing Harris on one of its Tampa-area signals to allow him to say goodbye to his listeners. Now, the company says that due to Harris’ non-compete, it will wait until the fall to present the special show. Salem Tampa general manager Barb Yoder says, “When I read that Jack Harris regretted not having the opportunity to say goodbye to his fans at the end of his most recent morning show, it really touched my heart. I’ve been in broadcasting for many years as well and though he’s been on a competing radio station, I’ve always admired and respected him and the way he connects with the Tampa Bay community. So, to honor Jack we were going to devote one of our morning shows on ‘The Answer’ Tampa and Sarasota for a Jack Harris Tribute.” Salem is hosting another recently let go Tampa host as former “Q105” personality Mason Dixon will appear on its “Faith Talk” stations on “The Bill Bunkley Show” today (4/14) from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

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Talk Host Jack Harris Vows to Return to Tampa’s Airwaves

After being let go from his two-hour morning drive show on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WFLA, Tampa last week, longtime market talk radio personality Jack Harris says he’ll return to the air in the market. The 81-year-old Harris tells the Tampa Bay Times that there is interest from other broadcasters but the six-month non-compete in his iHeart contract prevents him from working elsewhere right away. Harris says he didn’t get the chance to do a farewell show – something iHeartMedia West Florida president Chris Soechtig denies. Salem Media Group says it’s offered to host a farewell show on its crosstown news/talk WGUL “AM860 The Answer,” but also doesn’t want Harris to get into a legal tussle. Read the whole story here.

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TALKERS News Notes

Salem Media Group is promoting its planned coverage of the booking of former President Donald Trump in Manhattan today (4/4). Salem Radio Network talk personality Mike Gallagher leads the Special Report coverage streaming on the Salem News Channel at 2:00 pm ET.

Edison Research, in partnership with NPR, is presenting a webinar on April 13 at 2:00 pm ET titled, “Hit Play, Boomer! Podcasting’s Age 55+ Opportunity.” Edison says, “Forty-two percent of Baby Boomers in the U.S. – those age 55+ – have ever listened to a podcast. Attend the webinar to learn more about what has shaped Baby Boomers in the U.S. and what their media habits look like today. Learn how they consume audio and which podcasts index the highest for listening among Boomers.”

The National Association of Broadcasters announces its new campaign highlighting the importance of AM radio in the car for news, community engagement, entertainment and vital public safety information. The campaign includes a website with a grassroots call to action and new tools for stations to highlight the importance of AM radio. This campaign is being launched as some automakers have stripped AM radio out of certain vehicle models.

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Salem Makes Balance Sheet Strengthening Move

Salem Media Group announces it has completed its previously announced redemption in full of the remaining $36.5 million in outstanding aggregate principal amount of its 6.75% Senior Secured Notes due 2024. The redemption was funded through the issuance by the company on March 20, 2023 of $44.685 million in additional 7.125% Senior Secured Notes due 2028 of the company (the “2028 Notes”), a portion of the proceeds of which was used to satisfy and discharge the Indenture relating to the 2024 Notes on March 20, 2023 and to complete the redemption on March 27, 2023. The additional 2028 Notes and the related guarantees were sold to certain existing holders of the company’s outstanding 2028 Notes whom the company believes to be qualified institutional buyers, in a private placement. The company believes that the completion of this refinancing will strengthen its balance sheet.

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Salem Debuts “Senior Fitness with Meredith” Podcast

Salem Media Group announces the launch of the podcast show “Senior Fitness with Meredith” on Salem-owned Host Meredith Chen is an AFAA-certified personal and group fitness trainer with over 15 years of experience. Each week, “Senior Fitness with Meredith” examines a wide range of topics including physical and mental wellness, nutrition, positivity, and the motivation seniors and families need for leading healthy and active lifestyles. Chen says, “We hope to reach a wider audience and help shed more light on important topics regarding physical fitness, mental health, and wellness that matter most to seniors as we continue to roll out podcast episodes now and into the future. We’re proud to be a part of a great network of people who are like-minded and dedicated to providing the best content online for a demographic that we feel is underserved, and we are looking forward to helping that change.”

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Salem Unveils New Podcast Hosted by Lena Armuth

Salem Media Group announces the launch of the podcast show “Retirement for Real” on Salem-owned “Retirement for Real,” hosted by Lena Armuth, is an investment podcast designed toNASDAQ:SALM - Salem Media Group help retirees make sensible financial decisions in retirement. Armuth says, “Today’s investors deserve to know that investing is simple, affordable, and accessible to all! Collaborating with Senior Resource was a no-brainer for me because our missions are so similar. My podcast is dedicated to empowering and educating retirees on personal finance and investing, and Senior Resource helps me share this message with a broader audience. I’m thrilled to see my podcast has reached listeners from all across the country, and I remain steadfast in my commitment to giving real people the knowledge and tools they need to better understand investing and their finances in retirement.”

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Illinois Dems File Complaint Against WIND-AM, Chicago’s Dan Proft

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Illinois Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections alleging that Dan Proft didn’t disclose $1.2 million in contributions to the conservative political actionDan Proft - Podcast committee that he operates. This is the second such complaint filed by Illinois Democrats against Proft in the past four months. Proft co-hosts the “Chicago’s Morning Answer” program with Amy Jacobson on Salem Media Group’s news/talk WIND-AM, Chicago “560 The Answer.”

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Salem Q4 2022 Revenue Falls 0.5%; Full Year Revenue Up 3.4%

Salem Media Group’s total revenue during the fourth quarter of 2022 was $68.8 million, down 0.5% compared to Q4 of 2021. For the full year 2022, total revenue was $205.3 million, an increase of 3.4% over the full year of 2021. The company reports a loss of $2.2 million for Q4 of 2022 and a loss of $3.2 million for the full year ofSoundCloud - Salem Media Group 2022. Salem reports in segments and for the fourth quarter of 2022, net Broadcast revenue increased 4.5% to $53.3 million from $51 million in the same period in 2021. However, Digital media revenue decreased 10.3% to $10.4 million from $11.6 million in Q4 of 2021. The Publishing segment decreased 21.3% to $5.2 million from $6.5 million in the same period a year ago. For the full year of 2022, net Broadcast revenue increased 7.2% to $205.3 million from $191.4 million in 2021. Digital media revenue decreased 1.2% to $41.7 million from $42.2 million, and Publishing revenue decreased 18.9% to $20 million from $24.6 million in 2021. Looking ahead, Salem offers guidance for the first quarter of 2023, saying, “The company is projecting total revenue to be between flat and a decline of 2% from the first quarter 2022 total revenue of $62.6 million.”

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Salem Executives Oppose Daylight Saving Time Legislation

Salem Media Group chairman of the board Edward Atsinger III and CEO David P. Santrella signed letters to Congressional leaders opposing a bill (H.R. 1279) that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent in the U.S. The executives point out how a late sunrise – especially in the winter months – would affect the reach of AM signals. They write that their stations “are in jeopardy of suffering a massive blow to their operationsEdward G Atsinger III - Salem Media Group through a bill that is before you now. AM radio stations continue to be the backbone of many communities. They serve their audiences with programming features like news updates, traffic/weather reports, sports play-by-play, and talk programs. In some municipalities, AM radio stations also cater to a specific immigrant community, reaching their listeners with a specific foreign language or other programming elements like music or sports.” They go on to say, “H.R. 1279, as it is written, would make Daylight David P. Santrella - Salem Media GroupSaving Time permanent, thus impacting AM radio stations’ power and, therefore, coverage in the crucial morning drive daypart. This issue would be even more detrimental during the darkest days of November, December, January, and February, when AM stations would not be at full power until at least 8:00 am. From a programming and revenue standpoint, the morning drive daypart is still one of the most significant dayparts on an entire radio station. It’s the daypart that generates the most amount of revenue and is a cornerstone for the rest of the programming day. AM radio is facing a multitude of challenges. Radio, in general, faces constant headwinds from an ever-changing media landscape. This challenge might likely be the death blow to many AM radio stations. I am confident you don’t want to see that happen. Simply put, H.R. 1279 would significantly hinder AM broadcasters nationwide from effectively serving the communities they have been licensed to reach.”