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Scott Porretti Named President of Katz Digital Audio

Scott Porretti
Scott Porretti

Katz Media Group has elevated Scott Porretti to the position of President of Katz Digital Audio, a division of Katz Media Group. He will continue to report to Mark Gray, CEO of Katz Media Group.

A longtime veteran of Katz, Porretti will continue to oversee all Katz Digital Audio offerings, manage relationships with an expansive roster of publishing and technology partners, and further the growth of podcasting and programmatic digital audio on behalf of current and new partners. He has led the digital team in making substantial strides to strengthen internal technology and systems. Porretti is also spearheading the rollout of the newly launched Katz Intelligence Manager (KIM), a state-of-the-art proprietary audience technology for the digital audio marketplace.

Under his leadership, Porretti and his accomplished team have been an integral part of the exponential growth in the digital audio business over the past several years. During his tenure at Katz, Porretti has held various management positions within the organization, including Senior Vice President of Katz Radio Group, overseeing a sales team with more than 250 people working across seven sales divisions as well as Vice President Manager of the Katz New York office. In 2014, he was named Senior Vice President of Katz Digital. In May 2018, Porretti was promoted to Executive Vice President of Katz Digital.

"Scott's in-depth knowledge and vast background in developing audio solutions across a variety of platforms has helped Katz grow its diverse digital offerings and proprietary technologies," said Mark Gray, CEO of Katz Media Group. "Scott's effective team leadership style, and his extraordinary vision in this marketplace, has catapulted Katz Digital to a place where it is now viewed by advertisers as a one-stop-shop to reach diverse audiences with unparalleled scale."

"We have seen an explosion of growth in the digital audio space that is not slowing, with more people listening on their various devices than ever before," said Porretti. "I am so proud of what our team has accomplished and extremely excited to help shape where our industry is heading to support Katz's ever-expanding position in the digital marketplace and help our clients execute effective digital audio campaigns."

Dan Bongino Calls Out Cumulus Media Over Vaccine Mandate

Dan Bongino
Dan Bongino

Conservative radio host Dan Bongino called out Cumulus Media and Westwood One on Monday, daring them to cancel his show in response its vaccine mandate. Calling it "unethical" and "immoral," Bongino, who recently completed treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma and is fully vaccinated, said on-air, "Cumulus is going to have to make a decision with me -- if they want to continue this partnership or they don't." Adding, "You can't have both"... his show and the vaccine mandate.

Cumulus announced in August that it would require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 27, unless they have a legal exception or work remotely. Bongino's show, syndicated by the company's Westwood One unit, is heard on over 300 stations and 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.

"I'm not going to play along," said Bongino. "Because it's really unfortunate that people with a lower profile than me, who don't have 300-plus stations, have been summarily either shown the door or been put in really untenable circumstances because they simply want to make a medical decision by themselves."

Bongino's program is also live-streamed on Fox Nation, but he did not refer to Fox Corp.'s vaccine rules, which require that employees be vaccinated or undergo daily COVID-19 testing.

Hall/Burlington-Plattsburgh Ups Mark Knight to Ops Manager

Mark Knight
Mark Knight

Hall Communications promotes WKOL Program Director Mark Knight to Operations Manager for WKOL, WOKO, WBTZ, WIZN and WJOY in Burlington-Plattsburgh, VT-NY. He fills the void left after Matt Grasso departed in August for a position outside of radio. Knight is a 28-year veteran of Hall communications as a PD and air talent at WKOL and WOKO.

"Mark has shown great leadership ability throughout his career and is the right choice for this position," said Hall Executive Vice President and Burlington-Plattsburgh Market Manager Dan Dubonnet. "He understands what it takes to keep our brands at the top of the ratings."

Additionally, the company made the following promotions:

WOKO morning host and Assistant PD Bill Sargent was promoted to WOKO Program Director. Sargent joined WOKO in 1998 as an evening personality. He has co-hosted WOKO's "Morning Roundup" for the last 20 years.

WBTZ and WIZN Assistant PD and Music Director Kevin Mays is elevated to Program Director of both stations. Mays has been with the group since 2004 and will continue to serve as MD for both stations.

WIZN morning host Devon McGarry will add the APD title for both WIZN and WBTZ. McGarry has been with the Hall stations since 2013.

Dubonnet added, "Mark will work closely with Bill, Kevin, Devon and the rest of our outstanding programming and promotions staff to keep the Hall Radio Group the dominant cluster in the market."


CRB/CRS Now Accepting Apps for Rusty Walker Scholarships

Country Radio Seminar
Country Radio Seminar

Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) is now accepting applications for the Rusty Walker Scholarship program. Each year, through the scholarship program, Country Radio Seminar gives complimentary registration to three driven radio employees who have never had the opportunity to attend the 3-day educational networking event.

Country's Radio Coach Owner/CEO and CRB Scholarship Chairman John Shomby commented, "We continue to strive to attract talented, young broadcasters to the seminar, especially in the name of Rusty Walker, who, for years, cultivated some of the best young talent in our industry. The scholarship provides some unique opportunities to network with some of the best in the business and begin some long-lasting mentoring relationships. Once again, I thank the CRB Board of Directors for their continued overwhelming support of this honor."

Each scholarship includes a full CRS 2022 registration, as well as airfare and accommodations for three nights (Wednesday, February 23, 2022 through Friday, February 25, 2022). Interested parties must apply here and submit a paragraph explaining why they should be considered as a Rusty Walker Scholar. The deadline to apply is November 5, 2021

Eligible applicants must be full-time radio station employees and first-time CRS attendees. Three individual scholarships will be awarded, and recognized at the CRS 2022 Openings Ceremonies.

The Rusty Walker Scholarship program is named in honor of Country Radio Hall of Fame member Rusty Walker, who passed away in May, 2012 at the age of 59.

Conservative Host Dennis Prager Purposely Gets COVID-19

Dennis Prager
Dennis Prager

SRN conservative radio host Dennis Prager said Monday that he's come down with COVID-19 and that he purposely tried to get the virus. Prager told his audience that he wanted to get sick so he could get "natural immunity" against the disease instead of getting vaccinated. It's "what I hoped for the entire time," said Prager, adding that he'd intentionally hugged "strangers in the thousands" and taken photos with them to achieve his goal. "Finally, I got it from somebody," he added.

Prager told the Daily Beast that he was being treated with "therapeutics" such as the Regeneron monoclonal antibody cocktail (currently in use under Emergency Use Authorization for COVID by the FDA) and ivermectin, mainly used as an animal dewormer and not approved for COVID.

"The fact that I'm on my way to natural immunity is a high for me," Prager said Monday. "I'm thrilled about it." He missed his show on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday after testing positive and experiencing symptoms -- including a loss of sense of taste and smell -- which he says are "steadily improving."

We it comes to natural immunity, the CDC recommends that those who've had COVID should still get vaccinated. A recent study has shown that "unvaccinated individuals are more than twice as likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated after initially contracting the virus." Even so, Prager noted that he still won't get the vaccine.

Townsquare/Victoria Names Kovacik Director of Content

Jim Kovacik
Jim Kovacik

Townsquare Media appoints Jim Kovacik as Director of Content of the company's Victoria, TX stations, including Country KIXS-FM, Top 40 KQVT-FM, Classic Rock KLUB-FM and KTXN-FM (Jack FM). He replaces Wes Adams, who was promoted to Director of Content for the company's co-owned group in Grand Junction, CO. Kovacik has a 30-year track record in Houston, where he produced four major market morning shows. His first day with Townsquare was July 21.

Market President Mason Benitez said, "Jim is an energetic, multi-talented, forward-thinking pro. I had the pleasure of working with him in Houston and know firsthand about the impact he can have. I'm thrilled to be partnering with Jim to build on our success in Southeast Texas."

Kovacik added, "I feel very lucky to be joining Townsquare Media's local team in Victoria. I love Townsquare's focus on serving the community with compelling, informative radio and digital content. My goal is to merge my creative broadcasting experience into what I consider one of the best companies that represents the future of radio and digital."

The ''1-Hour Production Director Challenge'' Announced

Tim Burt
Tim Burt

Tim Burt, founder of the Production Director Academy, will offer the "1-Hour Production Director Challenge," a free training program. Focusing on three key areas, the program offers learning how to write a better script quickly, understanding the right way to voice any script and identifying potential legal issues with ads (using copyrighted music, trademarks, etc.). Free registration is available at ProductionDirectorAcademy.com.

"The number one job of a Production Director is to sell. That may sound ridiculous, but it's time to end this toxic relationship between Production and Sales teams," said Burt.

A 25-year radio veteran (16 of those with CBS Radio in St. Louis, MO), Burt has more than 30,000 ads to his name, which have sold over $500 million in products and services globally. Burt's agency "Tim Burt Media" creates and voices ads, jingles, and musical pieces for businesses around the world. He is an internationally recognized speaker, and award-winning author of three books.

Radio Host Darrell Neely Arrested for Role in Capitol Riot

Darrell Neely
Darrell Neely

Federal authorities allege that right-wing radio host Darrell Neely stole a baseball cap worn by a US Capitol Police officer during the Jan. 6 riot, then wore it during a live airing of his show. Three witnesses at the Global Enlightenment Radio Network, run by Neely, told the FBI that Neely bragged about stealing various items from an officer-including a dark-colored jacket with a silver badge, which he reportedly described as a "souvenir." Neely also claimed he took china plates from inside the Capitol in messages and video calls placed in the midst of the riot, according to an affidavit.

The Washington Post reports that one witness, who saw Neely in person on Jan. 6, said he was "in possession of four china plates and a USCP jacket, badge, name tag, and baseball cap" and "boasted that he had attacked a USCP officer." FBI agents who tuned in to livestreams of Neely's show in the days after the riot saw Neely wearing the cap. Agents later tracked down the officer to whom the hat belonged, who claimed his or her belongings disappeared after they were removed during "decontamination from lacrimal spray," meaning tear gas.

Neely-who's allegedly seen "holding a marijuana cigarette" in footage from inside the Capitol, per the Post, told agents that he only attended the riot to film because he believed the events to be newsworthy. Neely was arrested Monday in Washington, DC, and has been charged with theft of government property, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct inside a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.


PodcastOne, Jordan Harbinger Strike 7-Figure Renewal

The Jordan Harbinger Show
The Jordan Harbinger Show

PodcastOne has signed a high seven figure renewal deal with podcast host and former Wall Street attorney Jordan Harbinger that keeps him and "The Jordan Harbinger Show" with the network for the foreseeable future. The show launched with the network in 2018 and has download numbers nearing 11 million monthly and over 300 million all-time.

Previous guests have included AirBnB's Brian Chesky, billionaire and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio, author Simon Sinek, billionaire and serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban, television journalist Anderson Cooper, actor Matthew McConaughey, musician Moby, hip-hop artist T-Pain, rapper Rick Ross, scientists Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, and athletes like Kobe Bryant, Dennis Rodman and Tony Hawk.

"Jordan embodies what podcasting is all about. His impeccable interviewing skills, his unmatched rapport with guests, his integrity and his knowledge of marketing and the business of podcasting are keystones in the growth of The Jordan Harbinger Show and his audience is ever expanding. Not only is Jordan a dream partner in podcasting, he's also a dear friend and we are looking forward to, and anticipating, even bigger things in 2022 and beyond," said PodcastOne President Kit Gray.

StreamGuys Upgrades Multimedia Player with Full-Page Experience

StreamGuys has unveiled a major upgrade to its HTML5-based SGplayer multimedia player. Complementing SGplayer's existing embeddable configuration, version 3.2 offers a new full-page layout mode that provides additional ways for radio broadcasters and content producers to connect with their audiences and monetize their live streams and podcasts.

Hosted and managed by StreamGuys, SGplayer offers content providers a full-featured, multi-format media player that they can easily incorporate into their websites to present live streams and on-demand content. SGplayer 3.2's newly-redesigned, responsive user interface delivers attractive, customizable listening experiences on desktop and mobile devices while making it even easier for consumers to find and access relevant content. Tight integration with StreamGuys' SGrewind time-shifting technology allows listeners to pause, resume, and rewind live streams or jump back to the beginning of a recently-streamed show through a scrollable and searchable program guide.

New engagement buttons in SGplayer 3.2's full-page layout allow radio stations and podcasters to establish ongoing connections with their audiences. Listeners can quickly subscribe to podcasts through RSS feeds or third-party platforms such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts, while a new Share button lets listeners easily propagate player links for their favorite live streams and on-demand content on popular social media networks and community forums. Enhanced search functionality allows consumers to find podcast episodes of interest by matching keywords to descriptions. The new full-page podcast presentation design can also showcase other podcast series from the same producer alongside the current episode list, encouraging listeners to discover and engage with more of the producer's content.

Two new monetization features in SGplayer 3.2 supplement its existing support for dynamic advertising insertion. Content providers with existing e-commerce destinations can add a "Buy" button or link to the iTunes Store to allow listeners to immediately purchase products such as individual songs or albums. Customizable, clickable links can be added to live stream and podcast descriptions to take listeners to sponsors' websites, event ticket sales portals, or any other online destination the content provider wishes.

"Broadcasters and podcast publishers are constantly striving to deepen their relationships with their listeners and expand the monetization of their content beyond traditional advertising," said Eduardo Martinez, director of technology, StreamGuys. "SGplayer 3.2's new full-page layout is the result of extensive research we conducted with our customers to optimize how we help them achieve those goals. Its new interface design and features enable audio enterprises to deliver differentiated, engaging audience experiences that will keep their listeners coming back for more."

WICC 600-AM/Bridgeport Adds FM Frequency

WICC radio has been on the AM dial at 600-AM since 1926 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. And after 95 years of broadcasting they're adding an FM frequency - 107.3FM to be exact.

"With the addition of an FM frequency, we will really be able to get local news and information to more of the listeners of Bridgeport and beyond," said Program Director Allan Lamberti. "This is a community that is underserved by local television news and really WICC is the only radio station that delivers it."

Connoisseur Media purchased WICC in 2019 with its mission to deliver more quality local news programming to the area.

"WICC is one of the first radio stations in our state and it's our honor to not only expand its reach but also to continue to keep it relevant and local for southern Connecticut," said Senior Vice President / Market Manager Kristin Okesson.

Audacy Expands ''The Bet'' Brand to Five New Markets


Audacy is expanding the number of its Sports Betting stations branded as "The Bet" -- that utilize programming from the company's "BetQL Network" -- into five new markets. Audacy is launching the brand on WEEI-AM/Boston (formerly ESPN), WZGC-FM-HD2/Atlanta, KJKK-FM-HD3/Dallas (formerly Classic Country) WBEB-FM-HD3/Philadelphia and KWFN-FM-HD3/San Diego (formerly Funny FM).

Audacy launched the "BetQL Network" in January on KAMP-AM/Denver and KCBS-FM-HD3/Los Angeles. Since then, the format has expanded to AM outlets in Baltimore, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Washington DC and WCFS-FM-HD2/Chicago.


Borrell Podcast: Salvaging Your Sales Team

It's no secret that it's been tough to recruit new sales and marketing talent. And the pandemic made it even harder, according to a new survey of managers. In a new podcast, Corey and Gordon discuss the various hurdles and explore solutions to attract the modern sales consultant.

In episode 58 of Local Marketing Trends, Gordon interviews master recruiter Robert Hawthorne, President of Hawthorne Search, to uncover what companies can do to salvage their sales teams.

You can listen to the podcast HERE.

Lon Helton Tops 55th CMA Broadcast Awards Winners

CMA Broadcast Awards
CMA Broadcast Awards

The Country Music Association (CMA) has announced the winners of the broadcast awards in the nine categories in advance of the 55th Annual CMA Awards Show to be held November 10 in Nashville. Weekly National Broadcast Personality of the Year went to Westwood One's "Country Countdown USA" hosted by Lon Helton, while Daily National Personality of the Year was awarded to Premiere Networks' "CMT After Midnite" with Cody Alan.

Here is the complete list:

Weekly National Personality of the Year
"Country USA Countdown" with Lon Helton

Daily National Personality of the Year
"CMT After Midnite" with Cody Alan

Major Market Personality of the Year
Lois Lewis (Double L) KNIX/Phoenix

Large Market Personality of the Year
"Ridder, Scott and Shannen" (Shaun Ridderbush, Scott Dolphin and Shannen Oesterreich) WMIL/Milwaukee

Medium Market Personality of the Year
Mo & StyckMan (Melissa Wagner and Greg Owens) WUSY/Chattanooga

Small Market Personality of the Year
"Steve, Ben & Nikki" (Steve Stoud, Ben Walker & Nikki Thomas) WXBQ/Johnson City

Major Market Radio Station of the Year

Large Market Radio Station of the Year

Medium Market Radio Station of the Year

Small Market Radio Station of the Year
KCLR-FM/Coulmbia MO

107.5 Kiss FM/Des Moines Names Taylor J as Program Director

Taylor J
Taylor J

iHeartMedia appoints Taylor J as Program Director for KKDM-FM (107.5 Kiss FM)/Des Moines, effective immediately. She joined the CHR outlet in 2018 and most recently served as Assistant PD and will continue in middays. Previously, Taylor J spent 15 years in the St. Louis market, mainly with iHeartMedia where she held several roles including PD for KATZ (100.3 The Beat) and KSLZ (Z107.7), along with Director of Marketing and Promotions and on-air duties for Z107.7 as well as Alternative and Rhythmic CHR stations there. She began her career at WBBM-FM in Chicago.

"We're excited to elevate Taylor J to Program Director," said iHeartMedia Des Moines Senior Vice President of Programming Jeff Cage. "She's a dedicated hard worker who has a true passion for radio and the listeners she connects with every day on 107.5 KISS FM. Her stewardship of the station will help continue to grow our ratings and find more ways to connect with and support the Des Moines community."

"It's an honor to program a legendary CHR station in the Midwest's fastest-growing metro area," added Taylor J. "I'm very excited to have the opportunity to grow the station at the pace the metro is growing and continue to evolve the relationships I've formed with our listeners throughout the past three years. A huge thanks to iHeartMedia Des Moines for the opportunity."

Coles Joins Radio Advertising Bureau Board of Directors

Tony Coles
Tony Coles

The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) announces the addition of Tony Coles, iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group Division President and Black Information Network President, to its board of directors. Coles joins the board replacing Darren Davis. He's spent the last 18 years with iHeartMedia and has held his current roles since 2020. Before that Coles was Senior, then Executive VP/Programming for the radio giant.

Prior to joining iHM (then Clear Channel), Coles was the Program Director for KRWM-FM and KLSY-FM/Seattle. His career spanned almost two decades of serving in various programming positions for WLTW-FM/New York, KBIG-FM/Los Angeles, KXEZ-FM/Los Angeles and WCOL-FM/Columbus, OH.

WARC Study: Marketers Should Triple Audio Ad Spend


"The Investment Gap: Understanding the Value of Audio" is a new study from WARC and iHeartMedia. The study reveals a major audio investment gap for marketers. This week's Westwood One Audio Active Group blog outlines the key takeaways for advertisers, which shows AM/FM radio generates a +36% increase in monthly reach for the average brand and the younger the demographic, the greater the lift in reach.

  • The investment gap: Consumers spend 31% of their media time with audio, yet audio is only allocated 8.8% of media budgets. Other media represent 91.2% of ad spend and 69% of consumer media use.

  • Linear TV consumption has dropped -25%: Currently, linear TV's share of media time spent is down to 24% from 32% in 2012, a -25% decrease.

  • Marketers overspend on digital and TV, and underspend on audio: WARC's analysis reveals brands are overspending on TV and digital by 32%, and underspending on audio by a factor of 3X.

  • Nielsen: AM/FM radio makes your TV and digital better with significant lifts in reach: A $2 million TV and digital investment reaches 27% of Americans. Shifting 30% of the media plan to AM/FM radio lifts reach from 27% to 47%, a +74% increase.

  • P&G: AM/FM radio generates a +36% increase in monthly reach for the average brand: An incremental reach analysis of 15 P&G brands conducted via Nielsen Media Impact, the media optimization platform, reveals the average P&G brand experiences a +36% increase in reach to their TV plan through the use of AM/FM radio.

  • AM/FM radio's superpower: The younger the demographic, the greater the lift in reach: Across P&G's 15 brands, the lift in reach generated by AM/FM radio keeps growing in younger demographics. Among persons 35-44, the average P&G brand realizes a +63% increase in reach due to AM/FM radio. Among persons 25-34, AM/FM radio doubles the TV reach.

  • Nielsen sales effect studies: Dozens of Nielsen sales lift studies across 14 categories reveal AM/FM radio achieves a $5.06 return on advertising spend for CPG brands and a $14.74 ROAS for retail advertisers.

  • Ad-supported audio evolution: AM/FM is dominant, podcasts and AM/FM radio streaming grow, and Pandora and Spotify stagnate, according to Edison Research's "Share of Ear."

  • Podcasts offer marketers an educated and upscale audience with a median age of 34.

  • Device innovation: Smart speakers bring AM/FM radios back into the home: Smart speaker ownership has reached 40% of Americans.


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