Kyle Wallace and 101.7 The Truth Are Breaking Glass Ceilings
Timing is everything.
In December of 2020, Good Karma Brands publicly announced their plans to launch 101.7 The Truth, a talk radio station focused on embracing and telling the stories of Milwaukee’s black community.
Months of interviews, planning and hiring’s led to the first full day of broadcasts, Jan. 4, 2021.
After completing graduate school at Central Michigan, Kyle Wallace worked in the Milwaukee area as a high school football coach. He then followed that with a stint as a college recruiter for Marquette University.
On the side, Wallace was a part-time teammate at ESPN Milwaukee, working live radio remotes, producing shows and attending games for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks, collecting sound during post-game availability.
During a conversation with Barrett News Media, Wallace explained how he was overly happy with his position at Marquette. He took great pride in the reality that he was able to make a difference in the lives of prospective students.
However, he still had this itch. He wanted to be involved in sports media, and needed to create a lane for himself to thrive as an on-air contributor. So he continued working whenever he could at 540 ESPN Milwaukee, another station owned and operated by Good Karma Brands.
“In June of 2020, (Good Karma Brands Founder and CEO) Craig Karmazin reached out to me and asked what I thought about a black station. Really, where do African Americans go for news about the community?” Wallace recalled. “There’s not a station that people go to and can run to when they want to hear black voices, that’s something that’s absent from the Milwaukee media market.
“When he said that he had interest in potentially trying to start something I told him, ‘I am more than happy to help in any way that I can because I think it is very important that we provide a platform for African Americans to really voice their thoughts and opinions.'”
Throughout his time with ESPN Milwaukee, Wallace learned the ins and out of the media landscape in his city. He grew comfortable asking questions at press conferences, and networking with fellow media members. His experience allowed him to teach incoming intern classes, and other teammates, everything from running the board to cutting audio and using a recorder.
“I told (Karmazin), I am willing to do anything and everything I can to help you guys get this off the ground,” he said. “I know I’m just a part-time teammate, but I’m a teammate at the end of the day, and I want to make sure this is a success,”
“Whatever I have to do I am more than happy to do it.”
Little did Kyle Wallace know he would soon be named the Director of Content for 101.7 The Truth.
Wallace told BNM that before being offered the position he actually helped game-plan potential teammates to bring in, powerful black Milwaukee voices. He also gave input on who he thought would be a good fit as program director.
“It was a leap of faith,” he said after a tough decision to leave his role with Marquette. “Making that jump to a brand new radio station. The goal is to be around forever, but at the end of the day you have to make sure you are producing, not only on-air but also making money as well.
“I was a little bit nervous but I was excited as well because I knew it was a new challenge that could be very very special for Milwaukee’s community. Not just for the black community, but for everybody that is interested in great talk radio, and to hear a different perspective than they may be used to.”
The Truth is working tirelessly to break glass ceilings in media. The station is providing representation and opportunities for people of color who want to pursue and grow careers in the field, and fans who want exposure and coverage of their community.
“Covering the Brewers, I don’t think I ever saw another black reporter,” Wallace said. “(Covering the Bucks) there was maybe one or two, sometimes.”
On July 22, 2021, 101.7 The Truth was broadcasting live from downtown Milwaukee, during the parade for the NBA Champion Bucks.
During the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration, The Truth provided a live broadcast experience.
“An audio platform that embraces Milwaukee’s black community,” reads the mission statement on the station’s website. “This is our marketplace where authentic conversations can challenge and inspire everyone. You won’t hear just one perspective. It’ll be raw, honest, and true to what’s really going on in our communities.”
Wallace discussed with BNM the impact his former career had on his ability to direct content at The Truth. He knows how to teach an aspiring producer how to produce a live show, because he did it himself.
As a recruiter, he had no idea the impact it had on students to see a black male care about their educational future, until they told him, ‘we wouldn’t be (in college) without you.’
At Whitefish Bay High School, Wallace doesn’t remember ever having an African American teacher during his four years there. An unfortunate common theme in education.
“It meant more to the kids, because it was more than just a recruiter,” he said.
Those recruiting skills came full circle after The Truth hired Zech Simmons as a producer. Wallace recruited him as a high school student to college, and they kept in contact over the years. Simmons was one of the first calls Wallace made when The Truth started drafting their roster.
“We are confident we chose outstanding leaders who have already made an impact on the city through their service, advocacy, and fight for justice and equality,” he said in the station’s initial press release.
The Truth isn’t even a year old yet, however, they are dreaming big. Wallace’s personal goals for the station are to continue creating an impactful on-air product. He hopes that momentum will carry over into the community, making the brand a destination for the black community to come together as one. That’s especially important as local and state elections take place in 2022. He aspires for The Truth to become an outlet where the black community can learn about prospective elected officials and each of their causes.
Of course, influenced by that background in education, Wallace said he eventually wants to create a college scholarship funded by the station, awarded to a local student.
Listen to 101.7 The Truth here.
Tony Cartagena is a former contributor to Barrett News Media. He has previously served as a Digital Content Manager for Audacy Minneapolis, a reporter and producer for ESPN Cleveland, Director of Content for ESPN Madison, and a producer for ‘Wilde & Tausch’. You can reach him on Twitter @TonyCartagena or by email at TonyJCartagena@gmail.com.
Bob Pittman: iHeartMedia Won’t Be Shutting Down Broadcast Stations
“90% of Americans listen to iHeart broadcast radio stations every month. To put that in context, the biggest TV network reaches less than 40% of Americans and the big streaming music services reach less than 30%.”
Very few large broadcasting corporations adopted digital platforms as quickly as iHeartMedia did. iHeartRadio is one of the most popular platforms for streaming content from a variety off stations. Bob Pittman says that does not mean the company does not see plenty of value in traditional broadcast radio.
Lydia Moynihan of The New York Post spoke with the iHeartMedia CEO Friday morning. She asked Pittman if he could foresee a day when the company would be done with terrestrial radio and focus solely on digital products.
“To the contrary – the strength and foundation of our company is our broadcast radio stations,” Pittman responded. “90% of Americans listen to iHeart broadcast radio stations every month. To put that in context, the biggest TV network reaches less than 40% of Americans and the big streaming music services reach less than 30%.”
He added that any success that the company has seen with podcasting or streaming is clearly linked to the success of the its radio stations. He said that is true for its live events too.
“We use that massive and unique reach of our broadcast radio to build complementary products like the iHeartRadio digital service and our major events like the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the iHeartRadio Music Awards and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour, and it’s why we’re the #1 podcast publisher by a lot. It all starts with using the trusted voices on our broadcast radio stations and creating demand – and with our unparalleled reach we have quite an advantage over the other audio players, regardless of their cash war chests.”
Buffalo, Chicago, Milwaukee Top Markets for AM Radio
“The study shows thirteen markets that have at least 40% of listeners using AM radio. Ten of them are in the Midwest.”
Nielsen has looked at information from the 2022 fall book to determine where AM radio is the most popular. The company released a list Thursday of 141 markets where at least 20% of radio listeners tune to AM radio in a given month. Cities in the Great Lakes region are all at the top of the list.
In Buffalo, 56% of radio listeners use the AM band in a month. The market’s most-listened to stations are both AM stations owned by Audacy – news/talk WBEN and sports talker WGR. Neither has an FM simulcast.
There is a tie for second place. 48% of listeners in Chicago utilize AM. Popular news stations WGN and WLS are both only available on AM as is the market’s heritage sports talk brand, 670 The Score. Milwaukee is the other market with 48% of listeners using AM radio.
AM radio remains very popular in the Midwest. The study shows thirteen markets that have at least 40% of listeners using AM radio. Ten of them are in the Midwest.
Last month, Nielsen used numbers from the 2022 Fall book to show that across the country, more than 82 million people rely on AM radio during a month. That is a third of all terrestrial radio listeners.
A hearing on Sen. Ed Markey’s AM For Every Vehicle Act is scheduled for Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Fox News Radio Reportedly Facing Cutbacks
“Freelance shifts still exist on the network and current freelancers have been offered other opportunities over the weekend. Staff employees were not impacted.”
According to All Access, Fox News Radio is tightening the belt a bit. Job cuts and staff reassignments are on the way.
Most of the effected positions are filled by freelancers. Reporters and fill-in hosts could be effected.
“Fox News Audio has reduced the number of freelance shifts and adjusted its workflow on weekends,” a source told Perry Michael Simon. “Freelance shifts still exist on the network and current freelancers have been offered other opportunities over the weekend. Staff employees were not impacted.”
One full-time staffer has confirmed that he is out. News anchor Kerin McCue had been with Fox News Radio since 2012. He told All Access that he will exit some time this month. The report does not say if that is the result of these cutbacks or McCue’s own decision.
The network does have a lower-cost plan for the weekend. Some repurposed content from SiriusXM’s Fox News Headlines 24/7 will fill newscast slots.