Friday, May 14, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Masks Off!

We've reached a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday said that Americans who have been fully vaccinated can stop wearing masks indoors or out, and don’t have to worry about social distancing in most settings. About half of Americans have gotten at least one of the two vaccination shots needed for full protection. Even vaccinated people are still advised to use a mask in places like hospitals and nursing homes and while traveling by public transportation.

The CDC gives advice, but states and local governments set the rules. The agency said people must continue to follow local restrictions.

Meanwhile, India is facing a dire shortage of COVID-19 vaccine as cases of illness soar and hospitals remain overwhelmed. The variant found in India has now been identified in Great Britain, raising concerns about the nation's ability to reopen on June 21 as planned.

➤GASOLINE IS FLOWING AGAIN: The flow of fuel moving through the Colonial Pipeline was approaching full capacity yesterday, President Joe Biden said yesterday, adding it might take a little time to get to the pumps. The shutdown of the pipeline caused panic buying and shortages through the eastern states that the pipeline serves. It also caused some price-gouging, with some stations posting prices of up to $9.99 a gallon.

Colonial Pipeline paid hackers a ransom of nearly $5 million to recover its stolen data, The New York Times reported.

➤MASS SHOOTING IN PROVIDENCE PARK: Nine people were injured in a shootout between two groups of young men in Providence, Rhode Island. The incident began with a drive-by shooting and gunfire was returned from the targeted house. All those involved were said to be well known to the police.

➤GAZA UNDER HEAVY FIRE: Gaza was hit with heavy artillery fire and airstrikes from Israel early today. As the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continued to exchange deadly fire, Israel's defense minister warned that Israel has "many, many more targets" for its strikes unless the Palestinians desist. More than 100 people have been killed in Gaza, and at least seven Israelis have been killed in the worsening conflict.

➤ALL SURVIVE MID-AIR COLLISION: Two small planes collided in midair near Denver and, amazingly, everybody involved is fine. One of the planes was nearly ripped in half, and the pilot of the other plane had to deploy a parachute to get out. Both pilots and one passenger walked away from the crash.

Close to a million unemployed workers in at least 15 states are about to lose the $300 weekly federal supplement to their unemployment checks. As of yesterday, 15 Republican governors have decided to opt out of the program, arguing that their states have labor shortages and need people to get back to work. The states include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. The cutoff dates vary by state.

➤McDONALDS RAISES PAY: Fast-food restaurants are finally raising their pay rates to attract new workers in a tight job market. McDonald's is increasing its entry-level wage to between $11 and $17 depending on location. That is good only at company-owned restaurants. Most McDonalds are franchises. Chipotle Mexican Grill says its average hourly wage will be $15 by the end of June.

➤FAMOUS ASIAN AMERICANS: Asian Americans seem to be the invisible minority in the United States. At least you'd think so from the results of a new survey that shows that 42 percent of Americans can't name a single famous Asian American. Many of those who could came up with Bruce Lee, who died in 1973. So, here are a few names just in case you get that question: architect Maya Lin, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, comedian Margaret Cho, actor George Takei, actress Sandra Oh, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, director Ang Lee, singer Bruno Mars, and fashion designer Vera Wang. Oh, and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

⚾YANKEES SHORTSTOP SIDELINED: New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres has tested positive for COVID-19, the team's management announced yesterday. That makes eight members of the Yankees organization to test positive this week. Only one has shown any symptoms so far. The New York State Department of Health is investigating, since all of those infected reportedly have had the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

🏀SEIMONE AUGUSTUS MOVES TO COACHING: Seimone Augustus, an eight-time women's basketball All-Star and four-time champion, is retiring from the court but will stay on with the Los Angeles Sparks as an assistant coach. She played for the Minnesota Lynx for 14 seasons before moving to L.A. Augustus, now 37, is also a three-time Olympic gold medalist.

🏀WNBA SEASON STARTS TODAY: Speaking of women's pro basketball, the 2021 season begins today with a full season of 32 games scheduled. And, this year, they're all happening "out of the bubble." Tonight's opener features the Indiana Fever at New York Liberty.

🎾RAFAEL NADAL IS BACK: Rafael Nadal whacked his way through a sluggish start against Denis Shapovalov to win a spot in the quarter finals of the Italian Open. It was a 3-6 6-4 7-6 (3) victory for the 34-year-old player against a 22-year-old opponent.

🏀RODRIGUEZ GETS A STAKE IN THE TIMBERWOLVES: Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez and tech billionaire Marc Lore have reached an agreement to buy the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx from owner Glen Taylor, according to a report from USA Today.

🏈SCALPERS CASH IN ON BRADY'S RETURN: Ticket scalpers are demanding up to $8,862 to see quarterback Tom Brady's return appearance at Gillette Stadium on October 3rd, according to Bleacher Report. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers match against the New England Patriots is the most in-demand game of the just-announced NFL season, based on ticket prices. Brady spent two decades with the Patriots and led the team to six Super Bowl titles before leaving for Tampa last year.

🏈PEYTON MANNING'S NEW JOB: It seems Peyton Manning has a new job with the Broncos. Hey, a man's gotta stay busy.

Disney Streaming Subscriptions Come Up Short

Disney+ added fewer subscribers than expected in the most recent fiscal quarter, the latest sign that the pandemic-driven boom in streaming may be starting to wane, The L-A Times reports.

All eyes are on Disney’s streaming numbers, which have emerged as the company’s top priority. Disney+ hit 103.6 million subscribers worldwide in its second quarter, up from the 100 million it announced in March. But that was lower than the 109 million predicted by analysts on FactSet.

Disney executives were upbeat about the numbers when speaking to analysts after second-quarter earnings. Disney+ added 8.7 million subscribers to the 94.9 million it had at the end of the first quarter. Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said the growth came despite Disney+ not launching in any major new markets. The app also raised prices, including a $1-a-month boost in the U.S.

Chief Executive Bob Chapek reiterated that Disney+ is expected to hit 230 million to 260 million subscribers in 2024. The price increase did not drive any noticeable increase in churn, or people leaving the service, Chapek said. “We seem to be fairly resilient to those price increases,” he said.

Wall Street Journal Graphic
Stay-at-home orders drove an influx of subscribers to streaming services at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with movie theaters and other out-of-home entertainment options largely closed. The streaming landscape has become increasingly crowded with competitors, including HBO Max, Peacock and Paramount+.

Disney-owned Hulu, which has non-Disney-branded content including shows from FX and movies from Searchlight Pictures (both owned by Disney), had 41.6 million subscribers during the quarter, which ended April 3.

Including 13.8 million subscriptions for ESPN+, the company’s total streaming subscriber count hit 159 million, slightly below the 162 million analysts expected.

Disney reported second-quarter net income of $912 million, nearly double the profit from the same time last year. Its adjusted earnings of 79 cents a share significantly beat analyst expectations of 26 cents a share. Revenue fell 13% to $15.61 billion, missing Wall Street estimates of $15.86 billion.

The earnings strength was attributed to better-than-expected results in cable and broadcasting and direct-to-consumer businesses.

Cable and broadcasting profits benefited from a decrease in programming and production costs along with higher revenue from broadcasting affiliates. Operating income at the segment grew 15%, to $2.85 billion.

The company’s revival will depend heavily on the return of its theme parks. Disneyland opened at the end of last month, with restrictions, in a major milestone for the company as Disney tries to put the devastating public health crisis behind it.

Revenues from parks, experiences and products declined 44% year over year to $3.17 billion, while the segment swung to a loss of $406 million, compared with a profit of $756 million a year earlier, because of closures.

Disney Having Second Thoughts On Anti-Racism Training

Disney has reportedly deleted its “diversity and inclusion” anti-racism training program following a backlash about it becoming the “wokest place on Earth.”

The NY Post reports the webpage that previously carried the much-maligned internal training documents was down this week, replaced with a “pardon our Pixie dust” message, according to Christopher Rufo, who first reported on the training forcing staff to recognize their “white privilege.”

“WINNING,” wrote Rufo, director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute, as he shared a screenshot of the seemingly off-line page.

Disney “has removed its entire antiracism program from the company’s internal portal,” he wrote, “effectively scrubbing it out of existence.”

“This is a major victory in the war against ‘woke capital,'” he said, noting a “significant backlash from the public” after his initial report.

“Disney was peddling the most toxic elements of critical race theory — and my reporting led to immediate changes within the company,” he said.

His screenshot, however, showed that the page was “currently under technical maintenance for approximately 72 hours” — with some of Rufo’s followers suggesting it was being tweaked or rebranded, not scrubbed.

“Possibly, but small victories start to add up,” Rufo tweeted. “We’ve set the precedent—and forced a $329 billion company to back down.”

Staffers had been “bombarded” with training on “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” “white fragility” and “white saviors,” according to Rufo’s original reporting based on “a trove of whistleblower documents.”

Employees were told to “take ownership of educating [themselves] about structural anti-Black racism” and “not question or debate Black colleagues’ lived experience,” his report said.

Disney, MLB Agree On New ESPN Rights Deal

Walt Disney Co. announced a new seven-year agreement with Major League Baseball that will see the company pay less overall for fewer games.

Bloomberg reports the parent of ESPN will broadcast 30 regular-season games each season, 25 of them on Sunday nights, Disney said Thursday. Under a previous contract, the company had been airing 90 games, but most weren’t exclusive and could also be seen on competing local channels.

Disney will also get rights to some extras, including the annual Home Run Derby batting competition, and a new series of wild-card playoff games, should they continue. The Burbank, California-based company also negotiated rights to air the games on additional channels, such as its ABC broadcast network and its ESPN+ streaming service.

The deal is part of an overall strategy to couple long-term sports rights with the flexibility to create different shows for different audiences, such as a statistics-heavy presentation for subscribers of ESPN+.

“ESPN’s longstanding relationship with Major League Baseball has been a driver of innovation for three decades,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “This agreement solidifies baseball’s ubiquitous presence across ESPN platforms, including ESPN+.”

The company declined to comment on the cost of the contract. The sports news site the Athletic reported earlier this year that Disney could be paying as much as $150 million a year less for the package. It previously had an eight-year deal worth $5.8 billion.

ESPN has been on a sports-rights renewal run recently, signing long-term deals with the National Football League, the National Hockey League and college’s Southeastern Conference. While the company paid more for the NFL rights, it got extra content, including some Super Bowls, while seeing less of an increase in fees than rival broadcasters.

Philly Radio: Cherri Gregg To EXIT KYW For WHYY

Non-Com WHYY announced Thursday that award-winning KYW 1060 AM /  103.9 FM radio reporter Cherri Gregg will join the public media station as an on-air afternoon host beginning June 14.

Gregg, Community Affairs reporter at KYW Newsradio and host of Flashpoint with Cherri Gregg, a weekly public affairs radio program and podcast, comes to WHYY with deep ties and connections to the Philadelphia region and its communities. She is a past president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and was listed as one of the City’s Most Influential Black Women by the Philadelphia NAACP. She recently won two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for Flashpoint specials for Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and News Documentary.

Cherri Gregg
“WHYY has long sought to build a collaborative relationship with the people of this region in which their interests, viewpoints and stories are captured and reflected in our news coverage and programming. Adding such a respected journalist as Cherri Gregg reinforces WHYY’s commitment to trustworthy journalism and community connection that is at the hallmark of what we do,” said Bill Marrazzo, WHYY President & CEO.

Gregg joined KYW in December 2010 as a general assignment reporter and was named Community Affairs reporter in 2013. In addition to her community outreach, Cherri has organized the Black History month campaign, Philadelphia Game Changers. This annual program honors individuals and community organizations that have significantly impacted communities of color in the greater Philadelphia region. The Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters awarded Philadelphia Game Changers as the best public service campaign in 2016.

Gregg is frequently asked to moderate and speak on panels, emcee events and give speeches in Philadelphia and the suburbs. Most recently Gregg was a panelist in the only televised debate between Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and his Democratic primary challenger, Carlos Vega.

Gregg joins Jennifer Lynn, who recently celebrated her 7th anniversary as host of Morning Edition, and Priyanka Tewari and Avi Wolfman-Arent, who joined the radio host team in April.

ViacomCBs Expands Podcast Footprint

ViacomCBS has announced an expanded podcast footprint, featuring brand-new and returning hit series that build on beloved franchises and iconic IP from Awesomeness, BET, CBS News, CBS Studios, CBS Sports, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Noggin, MTV Entertainment Group, Paramount Network and SHOWTIME Sports. This robust slate will super serve consumers across comedy, news, true crime, sports, kids, entertainment, and music, reinforcing the company’s strategy to create premium content and experiences for audiences worldwide.

Since unveiling the company’s unified podcast slate at the IAB’s Podcast Upfront in September 2020, ViacomCBS has seen a nearly 14% increase in downloads year-over-year and is on track to produce over 120 shows, including more than 20 podcast premieres, this year alone.

“ViacomCBS is thrilled to return to the Podcast Upfront following a year of remarkable momentum and growth in the digital audio space,” said Steve Raizes, Senior Vice President, ViacomCBS Podcasts. “Honoring the quality and value of the company’s world-renowned content, this enhanced podcast slate will offer an organic pipeline for advertising partners to reach diverse audiences in a premium environment at scale.”

ViacomCBS also introduced a new and expanded partnership with iHeartMedia, where Nickelodeon will exclusively create podcasts from two of the brand's most cherished franchises: Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra and SpongeBob SquarePants. Additionally, ViacomCBS announced BET’s podcasting initiatives, emphasizing the massive demand for content from leading Black creators and reflecting the tremendous relevance, influence, and popularity of Black culture across the general entertainment ecosystem. BET will develop podcasts that will serve as a natural extension of the brand’s concerted investment in digital content.

Podcast titles from the upcoming slate include:
  • CBS Eye on Money with Jill Schlesinger – host Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, tackles sometimes uncomfortable and even controversial money and investing issues without the financial jargon to get to the heart of what’s important for anyone to know. Jill takes listener phone calls and interviews informative and entertaining guests each week to uncover surprising insights and provide actionable information so listeners can make the most of their money from CBS News.
  • She Makes the Rules – a podcast about rule-makers, record-setters, and rebel women who’d rather boss up than back down. They do not back down, they’re never intimidated, they’re never afraid to speak truth to power. When something isn’t right, they take a stand. Join CBS News as we take a look at some of the key women that have been Rule-makers and Rule-breakers.
  • Risking it All – most of us don’t experience heart-stopping, adrenaline-pumping, high-stakes risks in our daily lives. But what if your job was all about taking those kinds of risks? That’s precisely what Dr. Sandra Magnus, a former NASA astronaut, and retired Navy Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld explore in their weekly podcast, Risking It All. Listen to conversations with professional risk-takers, including a deep-sea diver, a heart surgeon, an NFL quarterback, a secret agent, and more. Get a behind-the-scenes look at how these pros live life on the edge.
  • Behind the Music (MTV) – the legendary series Behind the Music is expanding to audio with a companion podcast to the Paramount+ series, featuring career-spanning stories told by your favorite artists.
  • Beyond the Scenes from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central) – host and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Roy Wood Jr. gives listeners an inside look into how producers and writers of the Emmy®-winning series use comedy to tackle a variety of complex topics – from racial injustice to sex robots – and where these issues stand today. Beyond the Scenes features a rotating cast of The Daily Show correspondents including Ronny Chieng, Jordan Klepper, Michael Kosta, Desi Lydic, and Dulcé Sloan.
  • Wild ‘N Out (VH1) – one of the most social series in the world, Wild ’N Out will continue to combine hip hop and improv comedy, but now for your ears.
  • Yellowstone (Paramount Network) – the most watched cable show of 2020 debuts a companion podcast that gives fans exclusive cast interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpse into the gritty, modern-West community and culture behind the megahit – Yellowstone.
Other show updates include the recent launch of Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 and a new sports-centric podcast from “SHOWTIME Basketball” is coming soon.

CBS4 Miami Crew Attacked While Working Story About Violence

A television news crew was attacked by multiple people Wednesday night while working on a story about crime in Miami Beach. The NY Daily News reports.

CBS4 reporter Bobeth Yates and photojournalist Ebenezer Mends were in South Beach around 9 p.m. to report on a newly approved resolution banning the sale of alcohol after 2 a.m. in the city’s entertainment district, an effort to crack down on overnight fights and unruly behavior.

While working on the segment, the pair noticed a fight break out on Ocean Drive and turned the camera toward the scene, Yates told viewers after the attack. Several people involved in the brawl then came up to the crew and aggressively demanded they stop filming, video shows.

The footage shows one man trying to cover Mends’ camera as other young men and women shouted at the journalists. Yates said the attackers also knocked down the camera and threw some sort of alcoholic beverage on the pair.

“They started really coming on to Ebenezer and attacking him,” she told her colleagues in the studio. “At one point, maybe four or five people surrounded him. And at that point, I kind of got involved and tried to push them back. They kind of hit me. They went over my head to attack Ebenezer and the camera.”

The crew was not injured, but Yates said their equipment was damaged and that she “was really shaken up.”

“To be honest, I have been reporting for a very long time — don’t want to date myself, but about 20 years — and I’ve never been attacked like this on a story,” she said.

“The ironic part was we were actually covering crime on South Beach and normally we would walk up and down the strip trying to interact with people, getting interviews, but in this instance, they came to us.”

Miami Beach police arrested two suspects following the attack, according to CBS4. Their names were not immediately released, but they were expected to be charged with felony criminal mischief and battery.

Police are still looking for the other attackers.

Bill O'Reilly Has 16th Best-Selling Book

Key Networks
 announces that Bill O'Reilly, host of its popular daily radio features, The O’Reilly Update and The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition, has soared to the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list this week with the 10th book in his and co-author Martin Dugard's best-selling Killing series. 

KILLING THE MOB: The Fight Against Organized Crime in America (St. Martin's Publishing Group) is now the bestselling book in the U.S., certified by the New York Times. Radio stations across the country have heavily promoted the book since its launch last Tuesday, May 4th.

In the new book, O’Reilly traces the brutal history of 20th Century organized crime in the United States, and expertly plumbs the history of this nation’s most notorious serial robbers, conmen, and especially, mob family bosses. Covering the period from the 1930s to the 1980s, O’Reilly traces the prohibition-busting bank robbers of the Depression Era, such as Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby-Face Nelson. In addition, the authors highlight the creation of the Mafia Commission, the power struggles within the “Five Families,” and the battles to control Cuba, Las Vegas and Hollywood, as well as the personal war between the U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and legendary Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.

To date, O'Reilly's KILLING series includes instant #1 national bestsellers, sales of nearly 18 million copies worldwide, and over 320 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

➤The O’Reilly Update and The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition currently air across 242 radio stations from coast-to-coast, and cut through the anonymous sources and phony stories dominating today’s news cycle and brings O’Reilly’s trademark “no spin” analysis to listeners across the U.S. Key Networks delivers The O’Reilly Update to stations of all formats and market sizes every weekday beginning at 11:30am EST. The O’Reilly Update – Morning Edition is available for distribution in morning drive in all time zones.

May 14 Radio History

➦In 1910...Actor Paul Sutton born (Died from muscular dystrophy at age 59 – January 31, 1970), He was a film actor, appearing mostly in uncredited roles, and most often in low budget B-movies during the 1930s and 1940s. He is perhaps best known as one of the actors who portrayed Sergeant William Preston on the radio serial Challenge of the Yukon. He departed his acting career in 1947, and later entered politics. In 1954 and 1956 he ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives from Michigan.

➦In 1916...Musician and bandleader Skip Martin was born in Robinson Ill. He began on staff at radio station WLW in Cincinnati, before playing alto and baritone sax for a series of big bands, including Charlie Barnett, Jan Savitt, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman. He had stints with NBC & CBS radio in New York before arranging the theme and incidental music for the 1958-59 TV series, “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.”  He died in Feb 1976 at age 59.

➦In 1970..Actress Billie Burke, best remembered as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, who had her own Saturday morning CBS radio sitcom (1943-46), died of heart failure at age 85.

➦In 1976...Lowell Thomas ended a 46-year career as a network radio reporter.

Lowell Thomas
In 1930, he became a broadcaster with the CBS Radio network, delivering a nightly news and commentary program. After two years, he switched to the NBC Radio network but returned to CBS in 1947. In contrast to today's practices, Thomas was not an employee of either NBC News or CBS News. Prior to 1947 he was employed by the broadcast's sponsor, Sunoco. When he returned to CBS to take advantage of lower capital-gains tax rates, he established an independent company to produce the broadcast which he sold to CBS.

He hosted the first-ever television-news broadcast in 1939 and the first regularly scheduled television news broadcast (even though it was just a simulcast of his radio broadcast), beginning on February 21, 1940, on NBC Television. While W2XBS New York carried every TV/radio simulcast, it is not known if the two other stations capable of being fed programs by W2XBS, W2XB Schenectady and/or W3XE Philadelphia carried all or some of the simulcasts.

In the Summer of 1940, Thomas anchored the first live telecast of a political convention, the 1940 Republican National Convention, which was fed from Philadelphia to W2XBS and on to W2XB. Reportedly, Thomas wasn't even in Philadelphia, instead anchoring the broadcast from a New York studio and merely identifying speakers who were about to or who had just addressed the convention.

However, the television news simulcast was a short-lived venture for him, and he favored radio. Indeed, it was over radio that he presented and commented upon the news for four decades until his retirement in 1976, the longest radio career of anyone in his day (a record later surpassed by Paul Harvey).  His signature sign-on was "Good evening, everybody" and his sign-off "So long, until tomorrow," phrases he would use in titling his two volumes of memoirs.

➦In 1984...Ron Lundy started at WCBS 101.1 FM

➦In 2006...Lew Anderson, the Howdy Doody Show's final Clarabell the Clown, died at the age of 84. Earlier in his career, he sang on radio with a group known as the Honey Dreamers.

Lew Anderson as Clarabell The Clown

➦In 2015…Riley B. B. King died at age 89 (Born - September 16, 1925), He was an blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists.
B B King
King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname "The King of the Blues".

King was born on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and later worked at a cotton gin in Indianola, Mississippi. He was attracted to music and the guitar in church, and began his career in juke joints and local radio. He later lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, and toured the world extensively.

In November 1941, "King Biscuit Time" first aired, broadcasting on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. It was a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues. King listened to it while on break at a plantation. A self-taught guitarist, he then wanted to become a radio musician.

In 1943, King left Kilmichael to work as a tractor driver and play guitar with the Famous St. John's Gospel Singers of Inverness, Mississippi, performing at area churches and on WGRM in Greenwood, Mississippi.
(Getty Images)
He performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, where he began to develop an audience. King's appearances led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis, and later to a ten-minute spot on the Memphis radio station WDIA. The radio spot became so popular that it was expanded and became the Sepia Swing Club.[18]

He worked at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, where he was given the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to "Blues Boy", and finally to B.B.

Miranda Cosgrove is 28
  • Guitarist Gene Cornish of The Rascals is 77. 
  • Movie director-producer George Lucas is 77. 
  • Actor Meg Foster (“Cagney and Lacey”) is 73. 
  • Director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump,” ″Back to the Future”) is 70. 
  • Musician David Byrne (Talking Heads) is 69. 
  • Actor Tim Roth is 60. 
  • Guitarist C.C. DeVille of Poison is 59. 
  • Singer Ian Astbury of The Cult is 59. 
  • Actor Danny Huston (“John Adams” miniseries) is 59. 
  • Musician Fabrice Morvan of Milli Vanilli is 55. 
  • Bassist Mike Inez of Alice In Chains is 55. 
  • Danny Wood is 52
    Singer Raphael Saadiq (Tony! Toni! Tone!) is 55. 
  • Actor Cate Blanchett is 52. 
  • Singer Danny Wood of New Kids on the Block is 52. 
  • Director Sofia Coppola (“Lost In Translation”) is 50. 
  • Actor Gabriel Mann (“Revenge”) is 49. 
  • Singer Natalie Appleton of All Saints is 48. 
  • Singer Shanice is 48. 
  • Actor Carla Jimenez (“Growing Up Fisher”) is 47. 
  • Guitarist Henry Garza of Los Lonely Boys is 43. 
  • Singer Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show is 43. 
  • Singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys is 42. 
  • Bassist Mike Retondo of Plain White T’s is 40. 
  • Actor Amber Tamblyn (“Two and a Half Men,” ″Joan of Arcadia”) is 38. 
  • Actor Lina Esco (“S.W.A.T.”) is 36. 
  • Actor Miranda Cosgrove (“iCarly”) is 28.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Nashville Radio: EMF Picks Location for New HQs

A $220 million-a-year Christian radio and media company that broadcasts nationwide has dialed into Nashville's southern Williamson County as the spot to build a corporate headquarters with 320 jobs.

The Nashville Business-Journal reports Bill Reeves, CEO of Educational Media Foundation, revealed the choice and other details about his organization's upcoming relocation from California at an this week. 

The 40-year-old nonprofit, which Reeves said has $600 million to $700 million of assets, is the parent to Christian radio's K-LOVE, whose morning show now broadcasts from here. The operation is rapidly expanding into film, podcasting, live events and other productions. The Greater Nashville region, particularly Williamson County, already is home to much of the Christian music and entertainment industry, including record labels and publishers.

"We looked at Colorado, Texas and Tennessee. Tennessee, by far, won the day in so many categories," said Reeves, who has lived in Greater Nashville for a couple of decades.

It's at least the fourth headquarters relocation Williamson County has snagged this year, with the other companies coming from Illinois, Aizona and San Diego. Educational Media, in particular, highlights and extends a California exodus that has accelerated and intensified during the pandemic. Educational Media Foundation will be moving from offices outside of Sacramento.

"Believe it or not, guys, we don't badmouth California when we leave. They've been very good to us for 40 years, especially as a nonprofit, believe it or not," Reeves said. "But our employees are not nonprofit, and they need a place where they can afford to live without the burden that is beginning to fall on them."

In an interview, Reeves discussed hiring, his organization's temporary office, and where its permanent home will be. He provided new levels of details that built on the organization's March announcement of its arrival:
  • Reeves expects half of his 320 employees in California to relocate. Educational Media Foundation will be hiring for the full range of jobs, from entry-level call center roles to C-suite positions. Other openings include cybersecurity, software development and media production. "We've been a radio company for 40 years, and I'm ready to see us as a full media company in many media outlets," Reeves said.
  • The foundation has signed a letter of intent to buy 11 acres in southern Williamson County from Boyle Investment Co. The foundation has hired Nashville's Hastings Architecture Associates to design a 125,000-square-foot office building. Reeves said the exact location will be announced within a couple of months; he described it as being between Franklin and the Maury County line.
  • Reeves is giving employees, and his organization, about two-and-a-half years to complete the relocation. "The reason we did that, in part, was because of some of the challenges here and in the area with with housing inventory," said Reeves. "For us, we felt like staging that over a two- to three-year period would be easier on the county and easier on us."

iHeartRadio Music Fest Returns To In-Person Event

iHeartMedia has announced the return of the annual star-studded iHeartRadio Music Festival on September 17 and 18 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The evening performance lineup and details for the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival will be announced at a later date.

A special early access ticket on-sale for the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival will be available for 24 hours exclusively to Capital One cardholders on Tuesday, May 18 at 10 a.m. PST through Wednesday, May 19 at 10 a.m. PST via In addition, an early access ticket on-sale will be available for 24 hours to the general public Wednesday, May 19 at 10 a.m. PST through Thursday, May 20 at 10 a.m. PST. During this limited sale, tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and while supplies last. All remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public in June, along with a Capital One Cardholder Pre-Sale opportunity.

During the Capital One cardholder early access ticket on-sale, cardholders will also have the opportunity to add the Capital One Access Pass on to their ticket purchase. The Capital One Access Pass includes access to an exclusive cardholder event at the iHeartRadio Music Festival with complimentary food and beverage, as well as an experience with an iHeartRadio Music Festival artist.

The iHeartRadio Music Festival will broadcast live for fans via iHeartMedia radio stations throughout the country across more than 150 markets and also will be featured as an exclusive national television broadcast special on The CW Network at a later date.

Chicago Sun-Times Reporter Pleads For Someone To Save The Tribune

A reporter from The Chicago Sun-Times made a public plea in his paper Wednesday for someone to save its competitor, the Chicago Tribune, from being acquired by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, reports The Hill.

"This is an odd thing to do in the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times, but I’m asking someone to buy the Chicago Tribune," wrote wrote Andy Grimm, a Sun-Times reporter and president of the Chicago News Guild union that represents journalists at the Sun-Times and the Tribune. 

“No, don’t rush to a news rack or start a subscription. Buy the entire newspaper, lock, stock and ink barrels,” he wrote. 

Shareholders of Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and many other newspapers around the U.S., are scheduled to vote on May 21 whether to accept Alden’s bid to acquire the company. 

Andy Gimm
Grimm, along with other journalists and industry analysts, say Alden’s ultimate goal is not to invest in the Tribune or local journalism but to extract as much value from the paper's assets as possible.

“Alden is widely regarded as the worst of a class of owners who regard newspapers as assets to be stripped, with profits put ahead of providing readers with the news and information a community needs to function,” Grimm wrote. The president of Alden, Heath Freeman, has denied similar accusations.

Baltimore hotel billionaire Stewart Bainum has made a separate offer to buy Tribune Publishing that could save the Chicago Tribune from Alden ownership.  

However, Bainum’s plan is to donate the Baltimore Sun and other Maryland papers to a nonprofit and then sell the Chicago Tribune and the other papers with similar plans to save them.

“But, so far, he has found no one in Chicago willing to take the Tribune off his hands,” Grimm wrote. “I can understand why Chicago’s ample collection of billionaires and millionaires might be gun-shy. Several members of their tax bracket have dabbled in Tribune ownership, and either lost money or damaged their reputations.” 

“With all due respect to those former Tribune owners, you did it wrong,” Grimm added.

Wake-Up Call: Colonial Pipeline Is Flowing Again

The Colonial Pipeline got up and running yesterday at about 5 p.m. although the company says it will take several days for the supply chain to get back to normal. The 5,500-mile pipeline supplies about half of the gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil and jet fuel used by most of the Southern states and the East Coast. A Russian ransomware attack forced it offline last Friday.

➤CONSUMER PRICES RISE 4.2%: Consumer prices rose 4.2 percent in April over the year before. That was even worse than expected. The increase in the Consumer Price Index is the biggest in 12 years. Government economists insist that the price increases will settle down later this year. They say the main cause is the reopening of the economy.

Here's what we're paying more for:
  • The average gasoline price rose 49.6 percent.
  • Fuel prices are up 37.3 percent.
  • Used car and truck prices are up 10 percent.
  • Food prices were up 0.4 percent.
  • Prices for housing, lodgings, airline tickets, car insurance and furniture all rose.

➤STOCKS REEL AT INFLATION REPORT: Wall Street really did not appreciate that report of a 4.2 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 681 points to close at 33,588. The Standard & Poor's Index dropped 89 points to 4,063. It was the worst day for the stock market since January.

➤ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE ESCALATES: The cross-border fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants is worsening. Israeli forces bombarded Gaza with dozens of airstrikes overnight. Palestinian forces responded with waves of rockets aimed at Tel Aviv and other targets in Israel. Street violence between Jewish and Arab mobs have been reported in several towns and cities, according to The New York Times.

NY Post 5/13/21

➤LIZ CHENEY PURGED FROM GOP LEADERSHIP: Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney was removed from her Republican Party leadership role in the House of Representatives yesterday, as expected. The voice vote came the day after a speech by Cheney in which she refused to repudiate her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump or tone down her criticism of his continued insistence that he really won the election.
  • In his new blog, the former president dismissed Representative Cheney as "a bitter, horrible human being" who has "no personality" and is a warmonger.

➤WHERE THE WEALTHY ARE FLEEING: We knew that many affluent Americans fled the big cities when the pandemic kicked in, but where did they go? To smaller cities including San Antonio and Salt Lake City, according to a new report from real estate company Coldwell Banker. Denver and Dallas are also on the hot list, and Phoenix is a big destination for those fleeing California. Unmoored from the office, home buyers looked for bigger houses and quieter communities.

➤VAX-A-MILLION, OHIO: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine knows how to draw a crowd to a vaccination site. He announced that his state will give away a $1 million price every week for five weeks to an Ohioan who has gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. In a separate sweepstakes drawing, five teenagers who have been vaccinated will receive full college scholarships. To be eligible, you must be 18 or older and have been vaccinated before the drawing. The first prize will be drawn May 26.

➤BLAME THOSE SLACKER ROOSTERS: Chicken has been in short supply lately and many reasons have been cited, including the increasing popularity of fast-food chicken sandwiches. But here's a new one: Tyson's says its roosters just aren't up to the job. The giant chicken processor replaced its roosters with a different breed that frankly has proved to be a disappointing performer. A decline in chick hatchings ensued. The company has fired its rooster crew and is hiring its former stalwart.

🐶STUDY: PETTING A DOG ON A REGULAR BASIS CAN ‘SIGNIFICANTLY’ REDUCE ANXIETY AND ENHANCE THINKING SKILLS IN STRESSED STUDENTS:  Regularly petting dogs can really help lower stress levels. Washington State University researchers found that stress management programs that utilized therapy dogs were most effective for struggling students. Specifically, students who completed a four-week-long program with animal therapy were found to have improved cognitive skills that persisted for at least four weeks. Human-animal interaction expert and study leader Patricia Pendry says, “This study shows that traditional stress management approaches aren’t as effective for this population as programs that focus on providing opportunities to interact with therapy dogs. […] The results were very strong. […] when you’re looking at the ability to study, engage, concentrate and take a test, then having the animal aspect is very powerful. Being calm is helpful for learning especially for those who struggle with stress and learning.”

🎧STUDY..PEOPLE WHO DRIVE WEARING HEADPHONES ARE MORE THAN FOUR SECONDS SLOWER TO IDENTIFY ROAD HAZARDS:  Wearing headphones while riding a bicycle or while driving is really not a good idea. Ford conducted an experiment, and found that cyclists and drivers were four seconds slower to identify potential road hazards when wearing headphones. Ford is now letting the public try out the virtual experience themselves using their smartphones. It’s called Share The Road: Safe and Sound, and uses “8D” audio, a new sound technology that makes our brains think audio is constantly moving and coming from different directions. This issue is that wearing headphones causes a reduction in the vehicle and roadway sounds the driver can hear, and leads to the driver underestimating vehicle speed—this happened in both a lab setting and on the road, when driving during both day and night.

🚘AAA..MEMORIAL DAY TRAVEL TO INCREASE 60% IN 2021 COMPARED TO LAST YEAR: The American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting that Memorial Day will see increased highway activity this year. AAA Travel predicts that more than 37 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday weekend (May 27th-May 31st)—which is 60 percent more than last year when just 23 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day weekend. The “significant rebound” in travel is expected because more Americans are getting the COVID-19 vaccine and because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its travel guidance saying that fully vaccinated Americans can safely travel around the country. It’s predicted that of the 37 million Americans expected to travel Memorial Day weekend, 34.4 million will travel by car (12 million more than last year), 2.5 million will fly (nearly six times more than last year), and about 237,000 will take a bus, train, or cruise. The AAA also noted in its report that its estimation could be impacted by last minute decisions related to COVID-19 case numbers and variants or significant progress in the vaccine rollout in the coming weeks.

😭CRY THIS OFTEN, ACCORDING TO SCIENCE:  Crying is one of those things many of us are taught not to do, but there are benefits to doing so. Cognitive neuroscientist and mental health researcher Dr. Caroline Leaf says prolactin, one of the main chemicals released into our bodies when we cry, is the same one activated in mothers when they breastfeed. She says it’s released “in response to negative and positive stress, and may help us manage our stress response.” She says that crying also: releases chemicals which can make us feel calm and more in control; may help us restore balance in the brain and body; and may help one’s ability to think. Also, science has found that crying emotional tears literally helps get stress hormones out of the body. So how often should we be crying? Whenever we feel we need to. But if crying is uncontrollable to the point that it interferes with your normal daily function, it can be a sign of a deeper problem.

 🏈2021 NFL SEASON IS ON THE HORIZON: The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will meet the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL regular season on Thursday, September 9th. That Sunday's lineup will feature the Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Rams. On Monday, the Las Vegas Raiders will host the Baltimore Ravens. This is just a sneak peak of Week 1:

➤THE WORLD'S HIGHEST PAID ATHLETE IS… In a year when pro sports were practically dormant, Irish mixed martial arts artist Connor McGregor managed to make $180 million, according to Forbes. That made him the highest paid athlete in the world for the last 12 months, and he didn't even have to fight for it. Most of the money came from the sale of his whiskey business to Proximo Spirits. Argentinian pro soccer player Lionel Messi ranked second at $130 million, and Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo was third at $120 million. The highest-ranked American on the list, at number four, was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, at $107.5 million. Prescott was on the injured list for most of the season but still won a four-year extension in March.

🎾SERENA WILLIAMS SUFFERS A LOSS: Serena Williams was blown out of the Italian Open yesterday with a second-round defeat to newcomer Nadia Podoroska. Williams lost 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 to the 44th-ranked Argentine player. It was Williams' 1,000th Women's Tennis Association game.

🏀OLADIPO OUT FOR THE SEASON: Victor Oladipo of the Miami Heat is out for the season after just four games. He needs surgery on his right quad tendon. He probably won't be coming back. He'll enter the offseason as a free agent.

🏒RANGERS FIRE COACH: New York Rangers head coach David Quinn has been fired after only three seasons, along with two of the team's three assistant coaches. The team president and general manager were booted only a week ago. The new general manager, Chris Drury, is in charge of the search for a replacement coach.

NYC Radio: Skip Eskin Talks About Move To WFAN

Skip Eskin To Success Mark Chernoff At WFAN, NYC

When Audacy's WFAN had approached Skip Eskin after Mark Chernoff, the longtime program director at the New York sports talk radio station, announced he would be stepping down. Eskin, the brand manager at SportsRadio 94 WIP in Philadelphia, seemed like a logical replacement after experiencing success in a neighboring northeast city with a similar fanbase.

But he admits to The Philadelphia Business-Journal he didn’t immediately jump at the chance when it came few months ago. Leaving Philadelphia and the team he assembled at WIP was not something he relished.

“It was less about leaving Philly and more about leaving the people,” Eskin said.

He came to believe, though, that New York, and specifically WFAN, was a natural fit. Not only is it the largest media market in the country, but it’s also not far from Philadelphia and has the same type of passionate northeast sports fans. Plus, he would get to work again with New York Market Manager Chris Oliviero, who he had known when Oliviero was chief content officer at Audacy predecessor CBS 

“I thought about it and I was excited about the platform of WFAN, the challenge and privilege of working with the hosts and staff there, making them the best they can be and taking the station to its next chapter like we did here at WIP,” Eskin said. “I probably could have been very happy at WIP for the next 10 years but I thought this was a great opportunity.”

Eskin, who starts his role as vice president of programming for WFAN and CBS Sports Radio on July 1, said while northeast cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia have similarly passionate sports fans, each city and station have their own culture. Eskin said he will start out by getting a feel for the New York audience and the WFAN hosts.

Eskin, who lives in Delaware County with his wife, said the couple plan to look for a home in North Jersey, where he will commute daily to Manhattan. Despite becoming a New Yorker, Eskin does not plan to give up his popular 76ers-centric podcast "The Rights to Ricky Sanchez," which he co-hosts with Los Angeles-based screenwriter Michael Levin.

This is not the first time Eskin has left Philadelphia for a job opportunity. He spent three years as assistant program director at Q101 in Chicago before returning home to take a similar role at rock station WYSP.

When then parent company CBS Radio decided to simulcast WIP, it took WYSP’s place on the FM dial in 2011 and Eskin switched over from music to sports. He worked behind the scenes on WIP's website and social media presence with occasional on-air appearances until he was named the station’s program director in 2014 and briefly served as midday host with Josh Innes and Hollis Thomas. The station parted ways with operations manager Andy Bloom in December 2015 and Eskin's responsibilities only increased.

Fort Wayne Radio: WOWO Goes With The Don Bongino Show

The search for someone to fill Rush Limbaugh’s spot on the Newstalk WOWO 1190 AM / 107.9 FM is officially over.

Federated Media station management announced Wednesdayday that conservative commentator Dan Bongino will step into the 12 pm to 3 pm weekday timeslot starting on May 24th. His first on-air guest will be former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Bongino is a radio show host, podcast host, frequent television political commentator, and New York Times best-selling author whose books about his career as a Secret Service agent include Life Inside the Bubble and The Fight: A Secret Service Agent’s Inside Account of Security Failings and the Political Machine, as well as Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump.

Bongino was a Secret Service agent from 2006 to 2011, serving in the Obama and Bush administrations. He served as a New York City Police Department officer from 1995 to 1999 and provides expertise on international security and political strategy for national news outlets such as FOX News.

Bongino holds an MBA from Penn State University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the City University of New York.

“We are excited to start a new era on WOWO,” said Program Director Mike Ragz. “Dan has been the most-requested host to take over for Rush, based on a listener survey, so we are happy to partner with Dan and make it happen.”

The Dan Bongino Show will replace the Rush Limbaugh Show, which has featured a rotation of guest hosts after Limbaugh’s death in February due to lung cancer.

Gowdy, Bongino To Host New Fox News Weekend Shows

Don Bongino and Trey Gowdy

Fox News
contributors Dan Bongino and Trey Gowdy will begin hosting Saturday and Sunday shows for the network as part of a new slate of weekend programming, Fox News announced Wednesday.

Bongino will host a primetime Saturday show at 10 p.m. ET, while Gowdy will host a 7 p.m. ET Sunday evening program. 

Bongino, a former U.S. Secret Service agent who joined Fox as a contributor in 2019, will launch his program June 5, tackling the week's most pressing headlines and drawing on his law enforcement experience to discuss American priorities like liberty, security, and family.

His show will replace Greg Gutfeld's weekend program, after the titular host's new program "Gutfeld!" launched last month to record ratings in its weekday 11 p.m. timeslot.

In addition to his primetime role, Bongino will continue serving as host of Westwood One's "The Dan Bongino Show." FOX Nation will stream his daily radio program from 12-3 p.m. ET beginning May 25.

Gowdy, a former South Carolina Republican congressman and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, will break down legal and political news on his program, in addition to conducting interviews with decision-makers and Washington insiders. 

Gowdy joined Fox News as a contributor in 2019 and hosts "The Trey Gowdy Podcast" on FOX News Audio.

Gowdy: US intelligence community knows where COVID came from, even if Dr. Fauci does not Video

Fox News will also present a pair of panel discussion shows, "The Big Saturday Show" and "The Big Sunday Show," from 5-6 p.m. ET on weekends, featuring a rotating group of panelists discussing hot topics in news and culture.

Modeled after the network’s signature top-rated panel programs The Five and Outnumbered, the shows originally debuted on March 6 and after a successful test run, will now become a new fixture of the weekend lineup beginning June 5.

CNN's Zucker Urges Hosts To Voice Opinion

CNN president Jeff Zucker has defended the network's anchors for voicing their opinions and showing emotions as 'authentic' and 'real'.

The long-time boss, 56, told The Washington Post: 'One of the things that I've tried to encourage is authenticity and being real.

'If we pretend not to be human, it's not real.' 

That came after hosts cried on air, called Donald Trump 'another crackpot on the Internet' and described the first presidential debate of 2020 a 's*** show'. 

The Daily Mail reports former CNN anchor Carol Costello said Dana Bash, the anchor who used the expletive, may well have faced disciplinary action for those words in the past. 

She told The Washington Post: 'I can't imagine that being accepted in 2001.' But she added: 'It was what anybody was thinking, so it wasn't wrong to say that.'

And for Zucker those kinds of emotions give the network a 'dynamic feel'.  

'And I'm totally comfortable with that happening on television. What people react to is authenticity and reality.'

Zucker, who announced in February that he 'expects' to leave CNN at the end of 2021 after almost a decade in charge, admits there have been times when has had to call anchors to tell them their coverage 'might have been a little too much'. 

He added:  'That’s the role of the coach. The coach is supposed to encourage you and then bring you back.

'I don’t want everybody doing the same thing all day long. Yes, you’re going to have folks who are more comfortable, folks who are more traditional, and I think that’s what gives it a dynamic feel.' 

Audacy, Osiris Media Launch Joint Venture

Audacy and Osiris Media, the leading music storyteller, today announced a joint venture to create music podcasts that will deliver innovative content to music fans. The partnership will launch with Breaking Waves: Seattle, an oral history of the emergence and growth of grunge and alternative music in the city in the 80s and 90s.

The series will leverage iconic Audacy brands 99.9 KISW (KISW-FM) and 107.7 The End (KNDD-FM) in Seattle, drawing extensive recollections from the stations’ top influencers and programmers to paint a unique story through the viewpoint of those who had front row seats when the music and culture in the U.S. fundamentally shifted.

“We are excited to work with Osiris Media to draw from the rich histories and archives of our venerable stations across the country and help bring their stories to life,” said J.D. Crowley, Chief Digital Officer, Audacy. “We’re looking forward to launching this partnership with the premier of Breaking Waves this summer, the first step in a series of captivating content we can’t wait to deliver to our audience.”

“The Seattle music scene is so unique, so different than any other local music scene,” said Dave Richards, Senior Vice President of Programming, Audacy. “From the beginnings of Surf Punk with The Sonics and The Wailers, through Hendrix, Heart, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Macklemore, Death Cab and Ayron Jones, there’s a bloodline that runs through each genre and era. A connection between artists and a torch that’s passed along, and a spirit that moves forward. It’s very connected, well beyond what most people connect with the flannel years.”

“Audacy has been a leader in delivering music content to listeners across the country for the past 50 years,” said RJ Bee, Chief Executive Officer, Osiris Media. “We are excited to partner with a company that has the foresight to see the power of curated audio entertainment for music fans. The Audacy team has been incredibly encouraging and optimistic about how this show can help reach passionate music fans.”

Breaking Waves: Seattle will be heard on select Audacy alternative and classic rock stations as well as nationwide via the Audacy app and wherever podcasts can be heard, premiering in Summer 2021.

The World Meets 'Alexa'

Nine Rolle, Voice of 'Alexa'

The voice behind Amazon's cloud-based artificial intelligence service "Alexa" may have just been identified. 

In an excerpt from his upcoming book "Amazon Unbound," journalist Brad Stone announced that the famous voice is that of Nina Rolle, a voice actress and singer based in Colorado.

"Characteristically secretive, Amazon has never revealed the name of the voice artist behind Alexa. I learned her identity after canvasing the professional voice-over community: Boulder, Colorado-based voice actress and singer Nina Rolle," the author wrote in the selection published to Wired. 

"Her professional website contains links to old radio ads for products such as Mott’s Apple Juice and the Volkswagen Passat—and the warm timbre of Alexa’s voice is unmistakable," he said. "Rolle said she wasn’t allowed to talk to me when I reached her on the phone in February 2021. When I asked Amazon to speak with her, they declined."

When asked to confirm her involvement, a representative for Rolle told FOX Business on Wednesday that they had "no idea."

The virtual assistant first launched in 2014 on the Amazon Echo connected speaker and was presented as a competitor for Apple's "Siri." 

In 2013, the voice behind Siri was revealed to be voice artist Susan Bennett.

The New York Daily News reported on Tuesday that the 496-page hardcover has already become a No. 1 new release on the first day of its official release.

Westwood One Wins National Headline Award First Place Honor

Cumulus Media’s Westwood One has captured the prestigious National Headliner Award first place honor in the Pandemic Coverage/Project category for the Memorial Day 2020 special “The Summer of COVID-19", airing on the Jim Bohannon Show. The program was produced and broadcast early in the pandemic and imagined what an altered summer would be like, with family vacations and trips cancelled, all of society at a halt, and a great deal of uncertainty ahead.

In presenting the award to Westwood One, the judges commented, “We think we remember the whole COVID sequence. But ‘The Summer of COVID-19' brings it all back. Great audio and narration of the many aspects of the pandemic as it affected the U.S. from early in 2020 through the summer months … it's an excellent recap with great audio that will bring back memories, good and bad, in classic radio style.”

Westwood One was also named third-place winner in the Documentary or Public Affairs category for the Independence Day special “Black Lives Matter: From Protests to Police Reform.” The program, which also aired on The Jim Bohannon Show, explored the movement that crystalized after Floyd’s death, the resulting societal progress, and efforts toward reform.

In addition, Westwood One also earned a third-place award in the Feature and Human Interest category for “New York City Protests – Making A Difference.” The feature, which aired on America in the Morning, focused on several men who met during the protests and wave of vandalism in New York City and banned together to prevent the looting of a Target store.

Founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City, the National Headliner Awards program is one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic merit in the communications industry.

Ben Shapiro Ranks as Top Conservative Podcast

“The Ben Shapiro Show,” a podcast hosted by the conservative pundit and entrepreneur Ben Shapiro, ranked as the top conservative news podcast in April, according to TheRighting’s exclusive analysis. As of April 30, the podcast had 416,881 subscribers, according to data pulled from the Castbox podcast app, making it by far the leading conservative podcast. Additionally, the show has more than 31 million plays, which is more than five times the number of plays as its closest conservative competitor.

Only two other podcasts in the entire news category, which encompasses mainstream, liberal and conservative products, surpassed “Shapiro”: The New York Times’ “The Daily” (1,177,168 subscribers) and the BBC’s “Global News Podcast” (530,747 subscribers). Based on the Castbox data, “Shapiro” had more subscribers than podcasts from mainstream and liberal stalwarts like NPR, MSNBC and The New Yorker. (Click here to see TheRighting’s exclusive top 20 news chart comparing conservative, liberal and mainstream podcasts.)

“Bill O’Reilly’s No-Spin News,” which registered 107,438 subscribers, was the only other conservative podcast to tally more than 100,000 subscribers. Other top conservative podcasts include “Louder with Crowder” (84,529 subscribers) and “The Dan Bongino Show” (81,208 subscribers).”The Verdict with Ted Cruz” was the highest-ranked news podcast from a conservative politician (32,533 subscribers).

“While the data from Castbox reflects only a small portion of the podcast audience, it nonetheless provides an important keyhole into the relative size of audiences listening to news podcasts,” said Howard Polskin, President and Founder, TheRighting. “An analysis of the Castbox data shows that while several conservative podcasts walk tall, ‘The Ben Shapiro Show’ is the true podcast giant in the right-wing universe.”


This report is based on data that is updated daily from the podcast app Castbox, which is the fourth most popular app on the popular podcast-hosting platform Buzzsprout. Castbox represents 2.6% of all podcasts that Buzzsprout serves ranking behind Apple Podcasts (29.3%), Spotify (29.3%), and Google Podcasts (2.8%). No other leading podcast app besides Castbox makes its data available.

'Be Kind' Ellen To Be Gone After 19-Seasons

Ellen DeGeneres is ending her daytime talk show after 2022’s Season 19. 

The Wrap reports that’s good news for (relative) newcomers Kelly Clarkson and Tamron Hall, who have been nipping at her heels in syndicated TV ratings for the last year or two. Ellen’s fellow syndicated veteran Maury Povich probably won’t be too broken up over her exit either.

Like much of the TV landscape, the “Ellen” ratings have declined for years — but they really started to struggle this season, which kicked off just weeks after production company Warner Bros. fired three of the show’s top producers amid accusations of a toxic workplace and sexual misconduct that tarnished her onscreen persona as a queen of “nice.”

DeGeneres’ daytime show is down a whopping 47% in ratings from her previous season so far, averaging a 1.0 in national household ratings. She had a 1.9 average in 2019-20 and a 2.1 in 2018-19. “Ellen” has shed 784,000 daily viewers from last season.

“Dr. Phil” has regularly been the daytime talk show leader in ratings since the Oprah days, though “Live With Kelly & Ryan” is currently ahead this season, averaging a 1.9 to Phil’s 1.8. (“Live” and “Phil” tied atop the ratings in the 2015-16 season, which is the year Michael Strahan walked away from the seat now occupied by Ryan Seacrest.)

All of the syndicated daytime talk shows pale in comparison to courtroom leader “Judge Judy,” which is ending this season. But that’s really a different genre.

These days, “Ellen” is outclassed by “Phil” and “Live With Kelly & Ryan.” She is instead tied with “Maury” and one-tenth of a ratings point ahead of “The Kelly Clarkson Show” (which boasts a 0.9 in its second season).

The Daily Mail was first to report the news that DeGeneres would be ending her talk show in 2022, with a source telling the website, “She’s promised one more season after this one and will exit at the end of the 2021/2022 season – the 19th season of the show. The ratings have tanked and have been truly appalling this year and Ellen knows her time is up.”