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Darren Davis to Exit iHeartMedia After Nearly 30 Years

Darren Davis
Darren Davis

Darren Davis, who was named COO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group in February, is leaving the company at the end of 2021. He's served as President of iHeartRadio for the past eight years and is an almost 30-year veteran of iHeartMedia. Davis plans to retain an advisory role.

He began is career at iHeartMedia (then Clear Channel) in 1992 at WASH-FM/Washington DC, where he held several management posts. Davis became Senior VP of National Programming in 2008, and Executive VP/GM beginning in 2011.

In addition to the iHeartRadio Network, Davis oversaw Premiere Networks, Total Traffic + Weather Network, and the NBC News Radio Network, as well as iHeartMedia's in-house audio and visual creative agency.

WWTN's Phil Valentine Hospitalized in Very Serious Condition

Phil Valentine
Phil Valentine

Cumulus Media's WWTN-FM (99.7 SuperTalk)/Nashville veteran talk host Phil Valentine has been hospitalized in very serious condition with COVID-19 and pneumonia after testing positive on July 11. The following statement was released by his family:

"Phil contracted the COVID virus a little over a week ago and has since been hospitalized and is in very serious condition, suffering from COVID Pneumonia and the attendant side effects. He is in the hospital in the critical care unit breathing with assistance but is not on a ventilator. We'd ask that everyone please refrain from contacting him while he is in the hospital.

"Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an 'anti-vaxer' he regrets not being more vehemently 'Pro-Vaccine," and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon. Phil & his family would like for all of you to know that he loves ya'll and appreciates your concern, thoughts & prayers more than you will ever know. Please continue to pray for his recovery and please go get vaccinated!"

Cumulus signed Valentine to a long-term contract as host of WWTN-FM 's "The Phil Valentine Show." The program debuted over 24 years ago and airs weekdays from 3-7pm on WWTN. In addition to his afternoon show, Valentine works with Cumulus Nashville on a variety of projects, including the development and creation of original content podcasts, and other multimedia projects and events.

WLS/Chicago Political Reporter, Host Bill Cameron to Retire

Bill Cameron
Bill Cameron

Chicago political reporter and host of WLS-AM Sunday evening radio show, "Connected to Chicago with Bill Cameron," has announced his retirement after a 51-year career. His last day on-air will be Friday, August 20, which, fittingly, is his 21st anniversary at WLS-AM. He will share stories and insights from his tenure covering the good, the bad and the ugly of Chicago politics with listeners on "The Bruce St James Show" from 5:30-9am and later on "The John Howell Show" from 4-7pm.

Cameron, who until the demise of WMAQ Radio was its political editor, is considered the "dean" of radio political reporters in Chicago. He joined the Chicago City Hall beat in 1970. In addition to daily reporting of Chicago politics, he has hosted and produced weekly public affairs programs, including the current "Connected to Chicago with Bill Cameron" at 7pm Sundays on WLS-AM, featuring leading newsmakers and political reporters.

Cameron's coverage of Chicago politics began with Mayor Richard J. Daley and includes the "revolving-door administration" of Mayor Jane Byrne, the "Council Wars" of the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emanuel and now Lori Lightfoot. He was also on the scene for many other famous Chicago stories including the tragic plane crashes and train accidents of the '70s, the grisly mass murders of John Wayne Gacy, and the scandals that have sent so many governors and other politicians to prison.

Cameron is the winner of two Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio & Television News Directors Association, shared in a Peabody Award, and has received numerous AP, UPI and Gabriel awards for his work. He holds a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism from Indiana University. The son of an Illinois High School Hall of Fame football coach, Fred Cameron, he has called football and basketball games on radio in addition to working as a trainer and referee in sports.

Cameron said, "The time has come for me to plan my retirement. I've enjoyed covering Chicago politics very much, but half-a-century on the day-to-day beat is probably enough. Time to go visit many more national parks."

WLS-AM Program Director Stephanie Tichenor commented, "No matter what the news entailed, you could always count on Bill to bring it to you accurately and without bias. Never swayed by the political winds of the day, Bill's interviewing and reporting skills will not only be missed by us here at the Big 89 but by Chicago as a whole. We wish him the very best in his retirement."

WLS-AM News Director Nick Gale remarked, "Bill is one of the most important cogs in the wheel that moves the needles at WLS. Having covered the City Hall beat since 1970, first with 670 WMAQ and later with WLS, Bill is a walking encyclopedia of political knowledge. Having covered nine mayors, numerous governors, as well as an endless stream of government corruption, his institutional knowledge of the ins and outs of city and state government will be greatly missed. Personally, I'm humbled to have been able to work with him and learn from him. I know I speak for everyone in the newsroom past and present when I say that we wish nothing but the best to the "dean" of Chicago political reporters as he prepares to enjoy a much-deserved retirement."


Ten Reps, Four Senators Join LRFA as Co-sponsors

U.S. Congress
U.S. Congress

Ten members of the House of Representatives and four Senators have added their support to a resolution opposing "any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge" on local broadcast radio stations. The Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA), which signals members of Congress's opposition to any potential legislation that imposes new performance royalties on broadcast radio stations for music airplay, now has 169 co-sponsors in the House and 22 in the Senate.

Adding their support recently for the Local Radio Freedom Act in the House are Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-OK-5), Sharice Davids (D-KS-3), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-4), Randy Feenstra (R-IA-4), Lance Gooden (R-TX-5), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6), Alex Mooney (R-WV-2), Tom Reed (R-NY-23), Pete Sessions (R-TX-17) and David Valadao (R-CA-21).

Adding their support for the resolution in the Senate are Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL-14) and Steve Womack (R-AR-3) are the principal co-sponsors of the Local Radio Freedom Act in the House of Representatives. Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and John Barrasso (R-WY) are the lead co-sponsors of a companion resolution in the Senate.

NAB Supports Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021

National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Broadcasters

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced the Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021. This legislation, supported by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), would help financially support local news organizations through tax credits to incentivize hiring more journalists, subscriptions and advertising from local small businesses.

"The COVID-19 pandemic made it crystal clear that local reporters and newsrooms are essential to keeping the public informed and safe, but their importance spans well beyond health emergencies," said Senator Cantwell. "At its core, local news is about holding the powerful accountable. The strength of our democracy is based in truth and transparency, and local newsrooms are on the ground in our communities asking the critical questions, countering misinformation, and telling our stories. We have to protect these vital parts of our communities, because once they're gone, they're gone."

"Local newspapers, radio stations and TV stations are pillars of our community, bringing Arizonans trusted local news, information about community events and the latest on public health updates in their area," said Senator Kelly. "The pandemic made an already difficult financial situation for these news providers even harder, which is why I support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. By providing tax credits for individuals to support local news outlets, they can continue to provide important coverage for Arizona readers, listeners and viewers."

"The decline of local news has had devastating effects on our communities. Local news has often been the only window into the city council or mayor's office. Without these outlets, these important institutions in our communities go uncovered. Further, the decline of local news has only fueled the growth of misinformation, as Americans lose their most trusted sources of information. As the son of a journalist, these developments trouble my greatly. Our bill would provide financial support to local news at this critical time for our democracy," said Senator Wyden.

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said in a statement, "NAB applauds the introduction of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which would support and enable hiring additional local journalists for broadcast newsrooms. At a time when misinformation and disinformation plague online platforms, broadcast radio and television continue to serve as reliable beacons of news that keep local communities informed and connected. We appreciate Sens. Cantwell, Wyden and Kelly's leadership in ensuring a vibrant future for local journalism and we urge congressional passage of this legislation."

NABLF Accepting Apps for 2022 Leadership Training Program

National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation
National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Leadership Foundation is accepting applications through August 2 for the 2022 Broadcast Leadership Training (BLT) program. The program is designed to prepare senior-level broadcasters to advance into ownership or executive positions. Women and people of color are especially encouraged to apply.

Now in its 22nd edition, the executive MBA-style program is the foremost executive training program for the broadcast industry. The program teaches senior-level broadcast professionals who aspire to advance as group executives or station owners the fundamentals of purchasing, owning and operating radio and television stations over ten months.

The 2022 Broadcast Leadership Training program will return to weekend sessions held in-person at the NAB Headquarters in Washington, DC. The starting session will be held September 17-19.

"After a year and a half of a hybrid classroom, we couldn't be more excited to welcome our next cohort back in-person," said NAB Leadership Foundation President Michelle Duke. "The Broadcast Leadership Training program is imperative to our goal of fostering growth and promoting diversity in the industry, and we are excited to immerse the 2022 class in the networking and relationship-building opportunities that uniquely thrive in a live environment."

Broadcast professionals from all areas of the industry, including general managers, experienced sales managers and seasoned department heads, as well as regional and corporate executives, are encouraged to apply. Fellowship opportunities are available for women and people of color.

23% of US Broadband Households Own 3+ Smart Devices

Parks Associates research finds 88% of US households have broadband, with an increasing number of connected devices tapping into high-speed connections to deliver safety, security, convenience, and energy-saving use cases. The firm's latest whitepaper, Smart Products: Building the Modern Home, developed for GE Appliances and released ahead of the TecHome Builder Summit and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) Convention and Trade Show, notes consumers have an average of thirteen connected devices, up from nine in 2016, with smart home device owners being the most prolific buyers.

Smart home devices are among the newest category of connected devices, and adoption has been growing steadily since 2014. The percentage of US broadband households owning three or more smart home devices increased by over 64% in the past two years, from 14% in 2018 to 23% at the end of 2020. Adoption of smart appliances has also trended upward, with adoption at 13% of US broadband households.

"Connected devices are forming deep integrations in consumers' lifestyles, with convenience, comfort, and peace of mind the leading drivers of adoption," said Patrice Samuels, Senior Analyst, Parks Associates. "As their familiarity with smart home products increases, consumers will seek products that target their specific needs, which can range from lawn maintenance and irrigation to independent living and health monitoring. Co-marketing partnerships with brands in other industries such as energy providers, builders, and insurance companies will help expand awareness and distribution and connect consumers with the connected solutions they want and need."

Smart Products: Building the Modern Home examines growth of smart home devices, the connected consumer lifestyle, and the future of modern living. The whitepaper notes frequency of use of the smart features of smart home devices is another relevant factor indicating how deeply integrated these products have become in consumers' lives. More than 70% of smart home device and appliance owners report using the features of their smart home devices always or frequently.

"Consumers' consistent engagement with smart home devices and appliances is indicative of the value provided," Samuels said. "As these factors continue to drive adoption, we anticipate strong growth in both single-family and multifamily residences, so homebuilders and MDU managers and owners would benefit by exploring new ways to integrate connected solutions into their current properties and especially new construction projects."

Townsquare Names Peter Van Den Heuvel MP/CRO Cedar Rapids

Peter Van Den Heuvel
Peter Van Den Heuvel

Townsquare Media has announced that former Spectrum Reach Regional Executive Peter Van Den Heuvel has joined the Company as Market President/Chief Revenue Officer for its Cedar Rapids/Waterloo local media cluster. In this role, he will oversee the local media team while driving strategic sales and content initiatives across Eastern Iowa. He will report to Townsquare Senior Vice President Todd Lawley.

"Peter has extensive multi-platform management experience which makes him a perfect fit for this role. I could not be more excited to have someone with Peter's leadership and depth of multi-platform knowledge to lead our two-time ‘Market of the Year' team in Cedar Rapids/Waterloo," said Lawley.

"I feel very fortunate to be joining the Townsquare Media team in Cedar Rapids/Waterloo with their strong, legacy brands and world class content contributors," said Van Den Heuvel. "It is apparent that this team understands the importance of providing multi-platform solutions to our clients and as a result have built the #1 local media company in the market. My goal is to continue what Terry Peters and his team have built in Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, by continuing to provide our clients with market leading local media solutions that will help them succeed."

Townsquare COO - Local Media, Erik Hellum added, "I am really proud of the job that retiring Market President Terry Peters and the Cedar Rapids/Waterloo team have done to make Townsquare Cedar Rapids/Waterloo the #1 local media company in the market. Given Peter's leadership ability, track record of performance, and multi-platform approach to getting results for clients, I am confident that he will build on this success and show us what is truly possible in Cedar Rapids/Waterloo."


Larry Elder Back on California Recall Ballot

Larry Elder
Larry Elder

In another dramatic twist, conservative talk show host Larry Elder has been reinstated in California's gubernatorial recall election after a judge found he complied with ballot requirements and that the state elections chief should never have demanded that candidates provide five years of tax returns.

Secretary of State Shirley Weber's office said the documents Elder shared were improperly redacted, but Elder went to court over the issue. Just hours before Weber was set to certify the final list of candidates, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Laurie Earl rejected Weber's conclusion that recall candidates are covered by the 2019 state law compelling gubernatorial candidates in a "direct primary election" to release tax returns.

Putting Elder back on the ballot brings the tentative total of recall candidates to 43. It was not immediately clear whether that ruling will lead to additional candidates being reinstated.

Learfield IMG College Re-brands to Learfield


Learfield IMG College, a player in college sports multi-media rights, licensing, technology and data, has re-branded to simply Learfield. The new logo and identity system was developed after consultation with university partners, brand clients and employees. It is designed to be easier to use, more recognizable, and better suited to digital uses.

"We think the new brand visually distinguishes the company in the same way that the expertise and passion of our people differentiate the experience of working with Learfield and its affiliated brands," said Learfield CEO Cole Gahagan. "As we set the pace and standards for innovation, we will continue our relentless focus on building great relationships with our partners and helping brands connect to fans, as we tell our broader story in the market."

"The brand represents what we are about," added Learfield Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Jennifer Davis. "The pennant speaks to our history in college sports and relates to the passionate fan experience, not just on game day, but every day. This passion extends to our performing arts and venue partnerships as well. The one figure in the design depicts that we are coming together as a unified company to lead the industry and to put our partners and clients first, as they seek to compete and achieve their goals."

''The Dan Bongino Show'' Now Heard on 300+ Stations

Cumulus Media's "The Dan Bongino Show" has surpassed the 300-station milestone after just two months on the air. Syndicated by the company's Westwood One unit, the program counts KABC-AM/Los Angeles, WLS-AM/Chicago, WBAP-AM/Dallas, KSFO-AM/San Francisco, KSEV-AM/Houston, WMAL-FM/Washington DC, KTTH-AM/Seattle and WJR-AM/Detroit as affiliates, as well as Cumulus Media's new, all-digital station WFAS-AM/New York.

BIA Revises U.S. Local Ad Forecast, Now Expects Revs of $142B

BIA Advisory Services
BIA Advisory Services

BIA Advisory Services has revised its 2021 forecasts for U.S. Local Advertising Revenues to $142.4 billion, up $4.8 billion, or 3.9 percent, from its November 2020 estimates. The projection is split between traditional and digital media but shows that the divide is narrowing, with traditional advertising only eight percent ahead of digital mediums that include mobile, online, over-the-top, email, and traditional media's online ventures.

"There's an acceleration in the market that couldn't be accounted for last fall," said Mark Fratrik, SVP and Chief Economist, BIA Advisory Services. "The economy is growing and we're observing money being spent to reach audiences through various media."

Fratrik points to OTT as growing 16 percent this year, surpassing the trajectory of mobile as more consumers take advantage of various streaming services on their TV screens. Local television advertising this year will dip to $16.2 billion in 2021 but bounce up to $19.3 billion in 2022, with $1.5 billion and $1.7 billion, respectfully, coming from digital platforms. Local radio advertising will rebound somewhat to $11.7 billion in 2021 and $12.3 billion in 2022, with $.94 billion and $1.04 billion, respectfully, coming from digital platforms.

The revised forecast also sees a 5.6 percent increase in overall compound annual growth in U.S. spending in local ad markets and expects the amount to reach $157.1 billion in 2022 and $162.1 billion in 2023. While the digital media share will first leapfrog to 51 percent over traditional media by 2023.

The entire forecast can be purchased HERE.


iHM Surges in New Media Monitors Podcast Listener Survey

Media Monitors
Media Monitors

In a normally tight race, iHeartMedia leaps ahead in a new Media Monitors Podcast Listener survey, fielded between June 14-30. Participants ages 18+ were screened on whether they had listened to a podcast in the last 7 days, then asked to list the podcast titles. They were also encouraged to consult their podcast app of choice during the survey. These unassisted responses were then individually matched back to unique RSS feeds which were polled to collect information about genre and publisher.

Top Publishers from Top 200 Podcasts

The iHeartPodcast Network had a strong Q2, surging to the highest total number of podcasts for a publisher since we began measurement in 2020. Likely due to their multi-pronged approach of releasing new podcasts like "Drama Queens" (#11) and "The Office Deep Dive with Brian Baumgartner" (#170), new seasons for old-staples like "The Ron Burgundy Podcast" (#46) and podcast versions of their radio programs including "The Bobby Bones Show" (#66) and "The Breakfast Club" (#32).

NPR remained consistent this quarter with 12 podcasts in the Top 200 including "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" (#53) and "Throughline" (#81). Spotify owned Parcast Network also had a strong quarter primarily due to their slate of True Crime podcasts including: "Medical Murders" (#138), "Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories" (#58) and "International Infamy with Ashley Flowers" (#194).

Phillips Named President of Audacy Networks/Multi-Market Sales

Bob Phillips
Bob Phillips

Audacy has named Bob Philips President of Audacy Networks and Multi-Market Sales. In the newly created role he will focus on growing the network and multi-market sales businesses in line with the company's market growth strategy.

As Chief Revenue Officer, Phillips was a catalyst for innovation and growth. Under his leadership, Audacy streamlined multiple revenue departments, launched the Audacy Network and our in-house traffic network while also revolutionizing the company's approach to national sales, bringing new brands and bigger opportunities onto their platform.

Audacy plans to begin a search for a new CRO immediately.

iHeartRadio Introduces Voice-Enabled Song Requests with Alexa

iHeartRadio has announced an interactive new way to send song requests and dedications with Alexa-enabled devices. Teaming up with Amazon they have built iHeartRadio's new, first-to-market Request a Song feature for Alexa, which allows listeners to better connect with the radio DJs and stations they love.

Using an Alexa-enabled device, one can simply use their voice to seamlessly request songs and even dedicate them to family and friends. Alexa will then send the request to the station, where radio DJs can queue them for on-air playback in front of millions of other listeners.

"We're excited that for the first time our listeners will be able to talk to us directly through Alexa," said Chris Williams, iHeartRadio Chief Product Officer. "This is a direct line to allow our audience to talk back, to share their thoughts and help influence what you hear on the radio."

iHeartRadio is already experimenting with the latest Alexa updates to deliver even more interactive features in the future: such as Q&As with DJs and show hosts, voice-driven polls, contests and much more.

iHeartRadio's new Request a Song feature for Alexa is rolling out today on select stations including 97.5 WCOS South Carolina, 104.7 KISS FM Phoenix, 106.1 KISS FM Dallas and XL1067 Orlando-with more set to launch across the country soon!

CMG Announces Strategic Initiative with Amazon Advertising

Cox Media Group (CMG) Local Solutions today announced a strategic initiative with Amazon Advertising that will enable CMG Local Solutions advertisers to reach local audiences with Amazon Advertising digital offerings. Through this initiative, CMG Local Solutions advertisers across the nation can now programmatically buy display and OTT ads through Amazon DSP and analyze their campaign performance with a suite of full-funnel measurement solutions offered by Amazon Advertising. Together with CMG's premium, brand-safe local media website and app advertising, these new offerings can help expand local advertisers' reach and increase sales.

"This is an exciting new opportunity for CMG Local Solutions and our advertising partners," said Joe Weir, SVP of Digital at CMG. "Amazon Advertising's digital offerings, combined with CMG Local Solutions' unmatched product expertise, high performing products and platforms and CMG's long-standing heritage, enables us to help local businesses achieve their marketing goals more effectively."

CMG Local Solutions delivers innovative digital solutions and advanced performance metrics that help seamlessly connect local brands to relevant audiences and refine and optimize campaigns in real time.

In addition to having a single source of solutions for CMG Local Solutions customers, CMG Local Solutions can provide advertising partners with a single view of their return on investment for all digital and broadcast advertising, including Amazon Advertising products.

Stephanie Callihan Named Director of Sales at CMG/Houston

Stephanie Callihan
Stephanie Callihan

Cox Media Group has named Stephanie Callihan Director of Sales for its Houston cluster (KKBQ/KGLK/KTHT). In her new role, Callihan will be responsible for leading and driving the implementation of overarching sales and marketing strategies for CMG Houston brand radio stations.

Prior to joining CMG Houston, Callihan was Senior Vice President and Market Manager for Audacy/Austin, Vice President and Market Manager for iHeart Media / Wichita, Director of Sales for Citadel and ABC-Disney, and has worked in numerous sales and management positions during her 30-year career. She's on the Communication School Board for Butler University, Special Olympics of Central Texas, and has served on the Country Radio Seminar Agenda Committee, American Women in Radio and Television, and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

"Stephanie is a sharp, competitive and compassionate leader with a proven track record of success and deep radio roots in Texas," said Keith Lawless, CMG Regional Vice President. "I am proud to have Stephanie join our CMG Houston family and excited for Houston's next chapter under her sales leadership."

"CMG has long been a shining star in the Houston marketplace," added Callihan. "I am grateful for the support from both Rob Babin, CMG Senior Vice President for Radio and Keith Lawless, and I look forward to working with Johnny Chiang, CMG Country Format Leader and the entire Houston team to grow and thrive in this Top 10 market."


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