With the move of Chicago Bears radio play-by-play moving from Audacy’s WBBM Newsradio to Good Karma Brands’ WMVP-AM “ESPN Chicago” beginning this season, Good Karma announces the programming and talent lineup for Bears coverage. In the booth calling the games will be Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, and Jason McKie. The pre-game show will be hosted by Marc “Silvy” Silverman, Dionne Miller, and Lance Briggs. Silvy will also host the halftime show that Good Karma says “will provide a fresh, fan-focused take on what fans expect from a typical halftime show. The new Network Halftime Show will incorporate fan reactions to the first half of each game, as well as a new segment called ‘The Celebrity Spotlight,’ highlighting a conversation with a well-known celebrity guest with Chicago ties.” The post-game show will be hosted by John “Jurko” Jurkovic and Peggy Kusinski. Coverage will also include a daily podcast hosted by Chicago-based YouTube personality Pat the Designer with station personalities joining him on a rotating basis. ESPN Chicago director of content Danny Zederman says, “I am ecstatic for ESPN Chicago to enter a new era for exclusive Bears content 365 days a year while bringing together a diverse, energetic, and passionate group of talent with a deep knowledge of Chicago sports. Our talent has a real understanding of the importance of the Chicago Bears and what the team means to the fans because our team is made up of fans. We are counting down the days until kickoff!”
iHeartMedia Unveils New ‘Talkback’ Feature. The company has launched a new feature that allows listeners to engage with iHeartRadio personalities by recording themselves via the iHeartRadio mobile app and sending to the host or station. Dubbed “Talkback,” iHeartMedia says this “first-of-its-kind feature also makes it simple for listeners to pause their listening, join in the conversation or make a request using their voice, and then seamlessly unpause and return them back to the content they were listening to.” iHeartRadio chief product officer Chris Williams says, “We’re excited to give listeners a truly groundbreaking new way to engage with their favorite iHeartRadio hosts and personalities. Talkback is a direct line for our listeners to connect, join in the conversation and help shape what you hear across iHeart platforms like never before.” The company adds that soon Talkback will be expanded to include podcasts as well, giving podcast fans access to their favorite hosts, as well as the opportunity to influence future episodes.
Cumulus Promotes Keith Liesmann to RVP, Arkansas. In Arkansas, Cumulus Media promotes Keith Liesmann to the newly created position of regional vice president, in which he’ll oversee the company’s 16 stations in the state. Liesmann will continue to serve in his current role as market manager for the Cumulus Little Rock station group that includes news/talk KARN-FM. He’ll add responsibility for the oversight of Cumulus radio stations in Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas with the vice president/market manager of those markets reporting to him. Cumulus Media president of operations Bob Walker says, “Keith is a strategic and focused leader who has done a wonderful job in Little Rock, especially given the challenges all of us have had to overcome in the last two years. We are eager to see the positive impact all of our Arkansas stations will have working together under Keith’s leadership.”
Ostrowski Promoted to Executive Producer for White Sox Radio Network. Radio production pro Eric Ostrowski is promoted by Good Karma Brands and WVMP, Chicago “ESPN 1000” to the executive producer position for the White Sox Radio Network. Ostrowski has been with the station since 2014 and most recently was producer of the evening “Bleck & Abdalla” program starring Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla. Ostrowski takes over the role from Ryan Maguire, who recently moved to Good Karma’s Milwaukee operations as director of content for WTMJ, WKTI-FM, and WGKB-AM/W269DL “The Truth.” Maguire says of Ostrowski, “I can’t think of a better person for this role because he understands every aspect of our broadcasts, is extremely organized and is very creative. His passion for White Sox baseball and positive energy were infectious during the 2021 season. Len Kasper, Darrin Jackson, Connor McKnight, our fans, partners and growing network of affiliates are in good hands.”
Triton Digital Releases January Streaming Rankers. The Streaming Metrics Monthly Rankers for January 2022 are released by Triton Digital. The rankers are computed based on Average Active Sesions (AAS), with Session Starts (SS), and Average Time Spent Listening (ATSL) also included. In the U.S., #1 publisher of streaming content (6am-12am, Mon-Sun) based on Average Active Sessions is iHeartMedia. Following in order are NPR Member Stations at #2, Audacy at #3, and Cumulus Streaming Network at #4. Other broadcasting companies ranking in the top 25 include Beasley Broadcasting Corporate at #7, Hubbard Broadcasting at #8, and Salem Communications at #11. See the complete report here.
ABC News Promotes Stacia Philips Deshishku to Executive Editor and SVP. Rising from her role as leading the ABC Audio division is Stacia Philips Deshishku, who is named executive editor and senior vice president for ABC News. In this new role, she’ll lead the editorial, strategic and creative cross-platform direction across the news division. She’ll also collaborate with the leaders of “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight with David Muir,” “The View,” “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” “20/20,” “Tamron Hall” and “Nightline,” as well as bookings and integrated content strategy. ABC News president Kim Godwin says, “Stacia steps into this role after leading our ABC Audio team for nearly three years as vice president and general manager. At Audio, Stacia’s leadership and journalistic skills helped re-brand ABC Radio to ABC Audio within six months of her appointment. She spearheaded new business opportunities, including growing its award-winning podcast library and designing a suite of digital audio, text and video businesses. During her tenure ABC Audio won a groundbreaking five Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2021, including Overall Excellence, Breaking News Coverage, Continuing Coverage, News Series, and Investigative Reporting.”
Multimedia Firm Rebrands as The Mediacasters LLC. Media firm The Femcasters, led by Corinna Bellizzi and Julie Lokun, rebrands as The Mediacasters, LLC. The company says its goal is to elevate the voices of an underserved entrepreneurial community by offering tools, guidance, mentorship, and resources to those that don’t have access due to financial limitations. Bellizzi and Lokun say they saw a need for small business support with the migration of dissatisfied employees resigning from their corporate jobs to the entrepreneurial space as an effect of the 2021 Great Resignation. Their strategic growth plan for their clients harnesses the intersection of publishing, podcasting, and presenting – the 3Ps – as a tactical approach to leveraging expertise and distinguishing small businesses from their competition. Lokun adds, “We saw a deficit in the skill set of entrepreneurs and creatives as they maneuvered their business growth plan. We know the power of leveraging your brand and expertise can be overwhelming, we also are certain that publishing, podcasting, and presenting on stages is critical to carving out your industry niche.”
Russia’s Ukraine Invasion, State of the Union, COVID-19, The Economy/Inflation, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, UN Climate Report, and MLB Lockout Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/1). Russia’s continued attacks on the Ukraine and the rest of the world’s response; Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address by President Joe Biden; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the relaxing of mask mandates; financial markets activity and the high retail prices for consumer goods and gas; the battle for control of Congress in the November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the dire warning on the effects of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and Major League Baseball cancels Opening Day games as negotiations between owners and players stalls were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Report: Ryan Maguire to Lead Programming at Good Karma’s WTMJ and WKTI in Milwaukee. According to a report by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, radio programming pro Ryan Maguire is moving from his role as executive producer of the Chicago White Sox Radio Network at WMVP, Chicago “ESPN 1000” to the Milwaukee operations of Good Karma Brands where he’ll serve as director of content for news/talk WTMJ and sports talk WKTI-FM “ESPN Milwaukee.” Maguire is quoted in Barrett Sports Media saying, “I’m going to miss working with everyone in the Windy City; in particular, Len Kasper, Darrin Jackson, Connor McKnight and our entire team that put White Sox radio broadcasts together this past season. I’m happy to call them lifelong friends.”
Monday Memo: Talk Topic Two-fer. “Making the phone ring today will be easy,” consultant Holland Cooke reckons, predicting lots of calls about the Super Bowl (commercials). But next Monday, Presidents Day, is a holiday for many “whose habit listening will be disrupted.” So, in this week’s column, HC details two sure-fire call-in topics for next Monday. Read it here.
Pending Business: A Customer-centric Pitch. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says he recently saw a sign in a New York dry-cleaner/laundry window that proclaimed, “We do a better shirt.” The sign then explained the seven reasons this was true in clear, simple language. “The real lesson here is how elegantly simple this merchant crafted a customer-centric ‘pitch’ that showed the difference and advantage of buying the service they offered versus the competitors down the block and across the street.” Is your pitch to radio advertising prospects as customer-focused? Read more here.
Longtime Detroit Talk Radio Personality Frank Beckmann Dead at 72. Almost a year after retiring from Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR-AM, Detroit, Frank Beckmann has died at the age of 72. Cumulus says Beckmann died on Saturday evening. In January 2021, the WJR late morning host announced his retirement after a 48-year radio career in Detroit. He hosted “The Frank Beckmann Show” on weekdays from 9:00 am-12:00 noon for 18 years prior to his retirement. Beckmann was recognized as Michigan’s top sportscaster for his work as the only person to broadcast games for all four of Detroit’s major sports teams and his creation of Detroit’s first sports talk show, “Sportswrap,” in 1981. He was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and was also inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and the VIP Mentoring Coaches Challenge Hall of Fame. In 1981, he succeeded Bob Ufer as the University of Michigan football play-by-play announcer, a job he did for 33 seasons. Over the course of his storied career, Beckmann helped raise tens of millions of dollars for Detroit area charities, including: The Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund; Dutton Farm, which serves those with Down Syndrome; the Autism Alliance of Michigan; and numerous other nonprofit organizations. Beckmann was also a longtime major supporter of the March of Dimes and hosted an annual golf tournament fundraiser for the charity for 37 years. Fellow WJR personality Paul W. Smith commented, “In all my years of broadcasting and all the people I’ve had the privilege of working with, Frank Beckmann was one of a kind. All of us at WJR, and for that matter, all of Detroit, have been lucky to have him.”
WINA, Charlottesville Host Rob Schilling Sues Congressional Democrats Over Records Request. According to a story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, WINA-AM/W255CT, Charlottesville midday talk show host Rob Schilling is suing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House clerk Cheryl L. Johnson and chief administrative officer of the U.S. House Catherine Szpindor alleging they denied him public records related to climate change hearings. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in D.C., says Schilling’s request for documents related to House Committee on Oversight & Reform called “Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oil’s Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action” have been ignored or he’s been told no such records exist. Schilling’s complaint includes allegations that “the committee’s investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s climate disinformation campaign” is not in furtherance of Congress’ duty. He also argues that it appears “consultants were hired without following the process set forth in the House rules.” The Times-Dispatch story says no hearings related to this suit are currently scheduled.
WTOP, Washington to Debut ‘DMV Download’ in April. A new, daily local podcast from Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP, Washington will launch in April. WTOP says “DMV Download” is “the first local daily podcast that dives deeper into the biggest and most interesting news stories impacting Washingtonians – from Anacostia to Ashburn, Silver Spring to Upper Marlboro.” The program is hosted by WTOP investigative reporter Megan Cloherty and WTOP producer Luke Garrett. WTOP director of content integration and operations Craig Schwalb states, “Launching the DMV Download highlights WTOP’s continued focus on innovation with an investment in two accomplished and respected journalists excited to bring a fresh, local news podcast to life for the DC area.” Cloherty adds, “In 20 minutes, we’ll offer listeners context on the day’s biggest stories, going past the headlines with our deep bench of sources and reporters. In my mind, if we can wrap up your workday with dependable, interesting content about our community, we’ve done our job.”
TALKERS News Notes. Boston public news/talk outlet WGBH-FM announces what it is calling “a reimagined ‘Morning Edition’ with co-hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel. GBH News says alongside the NPR “Morning Edition” broadcast, Alston and Siegel “will bring audiences into the center of these stories, adding local context and depth.” GBH general manager of news Pam Johnston says, “Our audiences have told us that mornings matter most when it comes to news. This is when people seek out the information they need to get them going and set the tone for the day ahead. Paris and Jeremy have the intelligence, energy and authenticity we need to start our mornings right. I know local audiences will relate to their informative and dynamic style.”…..Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios announces the debut of the new five-part podcast series “Love Thy Neighbor,” that looks at the 1991 Crown Heights riots. Emmy-award winning journalist Collier Meyerson hosts the show that explores the lasting impact those four days of violence had on Crown Heights residents and the future of New York City. Through deeply personal, new and archival interviews with residents, scholars, and activists, “Love Thy Neighbor” will show how those four days in 1991 were a flashpoint that shaped a dark new era of politics, policing, anti-semitism and anti-Black racism in New York City.
Ukraine Tensions, COVID-19/Trucker Protest, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, Crime Wave-Violence Against Cops, January 6 Investigation, Beijing Olympics, and Super Bowl LVI Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The diplomatic tensions over Russia’s military buildup at the Ukraine border; the relaxing of COVID-19 mandates and the dismantling of the Freedom Convoy blocking the bridge from Windsor to Detroit; the battle for control over Congress in the November midterms and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; the wave of violent crime in America’s large cities and the spate of violence against cops; the investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the search for Trump administration records; the politics surrounding the Beijing Winter Olympics; and the Los Angeles Ram’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Talk Radio Legend Michael Jackson Passes at 87. Talk radio host Michael Jackson, who achieved legendary status during his career in Los Angeles, died on Sunday (1/16) at his home in L.A. at the age of 87. Jackson, who retired from radio in 2007, had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for the past 10 years. He is best remembered for his iconic work at KABC, Los Angeles that lasted from 1966 to 1998. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison (who served as a talk show host on rocker KMET in Los Angeles between 1975 and 1986) issued the following statement: “Michael Jackson was one of the all-time greats – a founding father – of talk radio. During his 32-year run at KABC, his very presence gave the station prestige and national stature as one of – if not THE – first very rare commercial outlets fully committed to the spoken-word format. Michael Jackson and KABC were synonymous with the phrase ‘talk radio.’ It should also be pointed out that his heyday in the format began prior to the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 which, in my opinion, marked the beginning of the modern era of talk radio. That made him the member of an exclusive club of radio performers whose historical relevance and influence on things to come in the broadcasting industry are incalculable.” Jackson’s longtime producer Lyle Gregory remembers Jackson in a piece you can read here.
Monday Memo: Podcasting ‘Will Continue to Explode.’ In a marketing piece to the advertising community, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman sees “no signs of growth abating.” In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke outlines opportunities at the station level. Read it here.
Pending Business: Early Warning. According to the “sales calendar,” January is over, and the first quarter is headed toward spring. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa says it’s time for an early review of your sales game plan. “Like any other performance skill, practice, evaluation and repetition makes for improvement. The skills required for success in today’s sales environment may be different from the last few years.” Read about Lapa’s six questions you can ask yourself here.
Chicago Sports Personality Les Grobstein Dead at 69. Windy City sports media personality and WSCR “The Score” overnight talk host Les Grobstein was found dead at his home in suburban Elk Grove Village on Sunday, according to a report from Chicago media writer Robert Feder. He reports that WSCR operations director Mitch Rosen said Grobstein had been away from his show since last Wednesday due to illness. During his career, Grobstein was sports director at WLS-AM, Chicago for 10 years. He served at sports talk WMVP from 1991 to 1997. He began his overnight stint with WSCR in 2009.
Pioneering Talk Host Susan Bray Dies at 79. A number of news outlets are reporting that former talk host Susan Bray (pictured here on C-SPAN) died in her native Australia last week at age 79. The Des Moines Register has a nice story written by her longtime friend Julie Gammack, who would replace her on WHO-AM. During her career, Bray worked at such outlets as WHO-AM, Des Moines and WWDB-FM, Philadelphia. She earned the nickname the “Saucy Aussie” because of her ribald sense of humor. After a long talk radio career in the U.S., Bray, who had married American Ed DeLong, returned to her hometown of Mudgee, Australia where she and DeLong ran a bed and breakfast.
Maine Station Fires Sportscasters After Body Shaming Incident. The owner of Houlton, Maine radio station WHOU-FM has fired two sportscasters who were caught on a hot mic body-shaming female basketball players during a game between two high school teams. Jim Carter and Steve Shaw were calling the game while watching it on a livestream and made comments about the weight of some of the teenage girls. Carter is a former coach from another school and Shaw had been the athletic director at one of the schools playing in the contest that night. Carter told the Portland Press-Herald that he has apologized to the superintendent of one of the schools, adding, “I don’t even know what to say. Hopefully everybody can get through this and be OK.” Northern Maine Media owner Fred Grant posted a notice of the pair’s dismissal on the station website saying, in part, “Our mission has been to highlight the best of our communities, our schools, the programs we love, and most importantly – our students. Last night, two broadcasters made comments that were not only inappropriate, they were also blatantly wrong. Those broadcasters were terminated… We’ve heard from many of you, and many have shared clips of the event in question. While it’s wrong that it happened, I’m going to ask each of you to help us shift the focus back on the excellence we see every day in our students. If you’ve shared the video post, I’m hoping you will take it down, not to downplay the incident, but to better help all of our students move on to the important work and events in their lives.”
MIW Names Three to Board of Directors. Three new members are joining the board of directors for Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio. Haley Jones of MRC Data, Melissa Mitchell of Bonneville International, and Brittney Jackson of Urban One/Radio One are joining the board of the organization that “consists of top-level female radio professionals who use their experience, influence, and resources to help other women in radio develop management and leadership skills.” Jackson currently serves as the general and digital sales manager for Urban One/Radio One in Richmond where she is responsible for recruiting and developing new talent, leading multi-platform sales efforts, and increasing annual revenue. Jones serves as head of independents for MRC Data where she oversees independent labels, small radio groups, and managers with music intelligence for today. Mitchell is Bonneville International’s director of finance, corporate controller and is based in their Denver market. MIW board president Ruth Presslaff says, “We are extremely fortunate to have not one, but three powerhouses join our board. Their success speaks for itself; it’s their willingness to pay it forward for the good of women and our industry that makes each so special and appreciated. I’d be remiss in not thanking the three members leaving our board as their terms end: Kay Olin, principal of Olin & Associates, and past MIW spokeswoman, whose constant leadership, dedication, and long term participation profoundly impacted MIW and me personally; Valerie Blackburn, principal at VKB Consulting, whose financial expertise led MIW through the arduous process of establishing a formal 501(c)(3) status; and Beth Neuhoff, president & CEO Neuhoff Media who provided invigorating energy and challenging ideas that MIW will push ever forward.”
Cowboys Great Chad Hennings Takes Part in SRN News Series. Pictured here is Salem Radio Network VP of news Tom Tradup (left) with three-time Dallas Cowboys Superbowl champion Chad Hennings. Hennings is in the SRN studios working with Tradup on a special, week-long series on SRN News aimed at getting men involved in Christian ministries. The five-part series titled, “Get Off the Bench,” begins airing today (1/17)
Tuscaloosa Sports Talker Jay Barker Arrested on Assault Charges. Former University of Alabama star quarterback Jay Barker was arrested in Nashville and charged with aggravated assault after allegedly trying to ram the car his estranged wife was riding in. Barker hosts the midday show on Townsquare Media’s sports talk WTUG-HD2/W256CG, Tuscaloosa “Tide 100.9” and is married to country artist Sara Evans. She filed for divorce from Barker in August.
COVID-19, Midterm Elections/Trump & the GOP, Texas Synagogue Assault, Djokovic Booted from Australia, NFL Playoffs, Winter Weather, and Martin Luther King, Jr Day Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The high rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Joe Biden vaccine mandate; the battle for control of Congress in November midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence in the GOP; the Texas synagogue hostage incident; Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic is kicked out of Australia ahead of the Australian Open after violating the country’s COVID protocols; the NFL’s Wild Card weekend; intense winter weather hitting the Eastern U.S.; and the Martin Luther King, Jr weekend and holiday were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.