Audio content aggregator TuneIn is offering FCC-licensed AM broadcasters in the U.S. access to its analytics service Amplifier and increase the sound quality of their digital broadcasts for free with TuneIn On-Air. The company says, “With the accessibility of terrestrial radio on the decline, from electric vehicles without receivers to smart home systems that rely entirely on digitally streaming content, the industry is at a critical crossroads. TuneIn On Air digitally optimizes the reach of audio content to over 30 million TuneIn users across the country. Accessibility of AM content also increases to over 200 connected devices that partner with TuneIn, including, but not limited to, Amazon Alexa; Google Home; Sonos and Bose speakers; all iPhones and Android-based phones; and Tesla, Fisker and VinFast electric vehicle integrations.” TuneIn CEO Rich Stern adds, “The future of AM Radio is on the top of all of our minds. TuneIn is committed to helping AM radio thrive in the digital world. It offers such a vast and rich library of audio programming that is integral to millions of Americans’ daily lives. Offering AM broadcasters the opportunity to digitize through TuneIn On Air for free is one way we can build a brighter future together.”
Jeff Rickard Exits WEEI-FM, Boston Brand Manager Role; Ken Laird Transitions to Operations Manager. The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn Tweeted the news that Jeff Rickard has exited his role as brand manager for sports talk WEEI-FM and the station is moving “The Greg Hill Show” producer Ken Laird to operations manager. Rickard joined the station in August of this year, replacing Joe Zarbano, who had left that role in January of 2021. Finn cites a memo from Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas, who writes, “I want to thank Jeff Rickard for his time here and all the work he put into this legacy brand since arriving last August. Jeff is returning to Indianapolis to be with his family and pursue other opportunities. We wish him nothing but the best and appreciate what he did as brand manager of WEEI. A new brand manager will be named in the future. In the meantime, we are excited to announce the promotion of Ken Laird to a new role at WEEI. Ken will be the day-to-day operations manager. He will be coming off producing ‘The Greg Hill Show,’ so he has time in his day to work closely with me and the entire content team on WEEI. One of his first projects will be to work with Greg, Chris and I, to name his replacement on the show.”
Jim Colony to Retire from Full-Time Role at Sports Talk KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh. Longtime KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh “93.7 The Fan” personality Jim Colony is retiring from his full-time role with the Audacy sports talk outlet. The station notes that Colony has been “a constant in Pittsburgh sports media since the early 1990s” and has “been a critical part of ‘The Fan’ since we started over 10 years ago.” Colony says, “I have been pretty lucky since I stumbled into radio nearly 43 years ago, like when ‘The Fan’ came along just months after I’d been let go across town. It really was ‘right place/right time’ and it’s lasted for 12 years – an eternity in this business. While it’s not the right time for me to retire altogether, now that Linda is retired it is time for me to step back a bit so we can spend more time together but not too much time (she’d get sick of me)!” Colony will continue to work a fill-in role for the station. Audacy Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “Jim Colony is one of the great characters in Pittsburgh radio who is beloved by so many listeners. We are so appreciative for all of the work and entertainment he has brought to so many over the years. While we are excited for Jim and Linda (we think) as Jim moves to this next phase of his life we are just as happy that Jim will remain a big part of ‘The Fan’ in a variety of different ways.”
Talking About Michael Jackson – Producer Lyle Gregory is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The man who served as the late talk radio legend Michael Jackson’s producer for 30 years, Lyle Gregory, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Lyle Gregory is the official spokesperson for the Jackson family. Michael Jackson passed away this past Sunday (1/16) at age 87. Harrison and Gregory pay tribute to the legacy of a man who was one of the founding fathers of modern talk radio in a deep-dive discussion that covers his life and times… and offers the listener insights into the magic of one of radio’s most-golden eras. Don’t miss this! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Texas Sues Google Over Radio Talent Phone Endorsement Campaign. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has filed a suit in Montgomery County, Texas against Google, alleging that the big tech firm struck a deal with iHeartMedia for some of its radio personalities in the Dallas and Houston markets to endorse its new Pixel 4 smartphones even though they were not on the market yet and the personalities had not actually used the devices. The complaint says Google sought out radio talent for the campaign in 2019 and that the endorsement of goods that they hadn’t used violates the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act. The suit goes on to say that even though iHeartMedia told Google that endorsement-without-use violates regulations, Google did not provide phones for the personalities. Specific personalities are not named in the suit but a sample of the ad copy is included. Here’s one script:
“The only thing I love more than taking the perfect photo? Taking the perfect photo at night. With Google Pixel 4 both are a cinch. It’s my favorite phone camera out there, especially in low light, thanks to Night Sight Mode. I’ve been taking studio-like photos of everything…my son’s football game… a meteor shower… a rare spotted owl that landed in my backyard. Pics or it didn’t happen, am I right? Pixel 4 is more than just great pics. It’s also great at helping me get stuff done, thanks to the new voice activated Google Assistant that can handle multiple tasks at once. I can read up on the latest health fads, ask for directions to the nearest goat yoga class (yes, that’s a thing), and text the location to mom hands-free.”
The complaint says any “customization” of the script had to be approved by Google’s ad buyer. Google has said it is reviewing the complaint but that it does not accurately represent what happened.
Mike Gallagher Broadcasts from SHOT Show. Pictured above is Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher preparing to go on the air from the exhibit floor at the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas where he is broadcasting this week. The Shooting/Hunting/Outdoor Trade Show is the largest professional event for the shooting industry…and Gallagher says he promises “high caliber” broadcasts on both radio and the new Salem News Channel.
TuneIn Offers New Program for Content Creators. Calling it a “new program that will provide emerging content creators, educational, and non-profit broadcasters in the United States with access to the same distribution tools as major broadcasters,” TuneIn unveils the TuneIn On Air program. TuneIn says the program “was created to empower emerging content creators by providing them seamless access to digital distribution capabilities. Immediately upon joining TuneIn On Air, broadcasters will expand their reach to TuneIn’s 30 million United States-based listeners. This new offering is aligned with TuneIn’s commitment to reinvent radio for a connected world by bringing radio distribution into the digital age and realizing its promise of an open platform for everyone.” The program costs $249 per quarter. TuneIn chief industry evangelist Andrew Bock says, “One of our aims with the launch of TuneIn On Air is to re-energize college radio stations and independent broadcasters around the US by providing them with a simple and easy-to-use way to dramatically increase their distribution through digital audio. College radio and independent broadcasters serve an important and irreplaceable role in their communities. Through the TuneIn On Air platform, we are giving these voices a clear path to expand and grow their audiences through digital distribution.”
TALKERS News Notes. On the heels of the recent retirement of partner Charlie Sislen, Research Director, Inc. announces staff changes and promotions. Kathryn Boxill creates and leads the new quality control team as the quality control team manager. She previously served as a senior sales research consultant. Nicole Somerville transitions to the production team manager position from her previous role as sales research consultant. Anne Doyle moves into the information systems administrator position from operations management. Nakia Smith and Hayden Waugh move from their sales research consultant positions to join the client service department as client service consultants.…..ABC Audio launches its new GMA channel on Apple Podcasts and announces three new podcast projects: a “Good Morning America” podcast, the second season of “Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson,” and new entertainment podcast “Close Up,” hosted by Kelley Carter. ABC Audio’s free GMA channel will house these new projects, as well as all of ABC News’ lifestyle, culture and entertainment on-demand audio content, including its popular “In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson” podcast…..Audacy’s Cadence13 partners with @DeuxMoi – the pop culture and celebrity Instagram account hailed as “the new outlet of choice for the celebrity obsessed” by The New York Times – for “Deux U,” a weekly show featuring an extensive analysis of the most popular and controversial posts from the account…..iHeartRadio and Sports Illustrated Media unveil an original podcast series focused on iconic names in the sports industry called, “Sports Illustrated Weekly.” Hosted by SI senior writer John Gonzalez, the weekly series takes sports fanatics through untold moments, iconic interviews and the best stories in sports thus far.
Biden Press Conference, Voting Rights-Filibuster, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, U.S.-Russia Tensions, Inflation/Supply Chain, Midterm Elections/Trump & the GOP, and Beijing Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/19). Reaction to President Joe Biden’s Wednesday press conference; Democrats fail to alter the filibuster and to take up voting rights legislation; the rate of COVID-19 cases, vaccine effectiveness, and schools’ policies; the Supreme Court nixes Donald Trump’s bid to keep records from January 6 Committee; the tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the Russian troops amassed at the Ukraine border; soaring retail and oil prices and the supply chain troubles; the battle for control of Congress in the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence within the GOP; and China warns athletes about political commentary while at the Beijing games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.