Talk Radio/Media Industry News
Ronn Owens Goes Public with Parkinson’s Diagnosis. Longtime KGO, San Francisco talk personality Ronn Owens recently went public with the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease that he received in 2001. He tells the San Francisco Chronicle he held off on announcing his condition because he didn’t want people feeling sorry for him and didn’t want to be identified by his illness. Owens tells the Chronicle’s David Wiegand he’s been managing the disease with medications since his diagnosis but felt the time was right for letting his listeners know about it. “I felt it was important to tell people that you can have it like I have for 12 ½ years and not be severely impacted by it. It’s possible, and it’s not a death sentence.” The 68-year-old Owens sounds as though he has no plans to retire from radio if the station still wants him. Read the entire piece here.
CBS RADIO and Townsquare Media Partner on new Michigan News Network. The new venture will roll out September 2 on 20 affiliate stations. Both companies announce that the new Michigan News Network will provide affiliated stations across the state with news, sports and other local content produced by CBS RADIO stations WWJ, Detroit “Newsradio 950” and WXYT-FM, “97.1 The Ticket.” The service offered will include top-of-the-hour broadcasts weekdays from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm and 60-second sports updates three times per day during the same time period. Townsquare Media will serve as the exclusive syndication partner and manage affiliate relationships. CBS RADIO president and CEO Dan Mason states, “CBS RADIO’s Detroit stations have served as the authoritative voice of the community for many years, establishing themselves among the market’s most credible brands and news sources. We are excited to be working with Townsquare to distribute our award-winning programming to listeners across the entire state of Michigan, while also realizing the highest value for our content.”
Martha Zoller to Leave Talk Radio Biz for Political Campaign Gig. After stepping away from the talk radio business a couple of years ago to run for office herself (an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress), Georgia talk radio personality Martha Zoller is again leaving the radio industry to join David Perdue’s U.S. Senate campaign. She tells TALKERS that she’s been offered a post in which she’ll be doing surrogate work, training surrogates and messaging as well as focusing on engagement of women and minorities for Perdue’s campaign. Zoller has been co-hosting the “Zoller & Bryant” morning drive show (with news director Tim Bryant) on WGAU, Athens, Georgia as well as in other parts of the state via the Georgia News Network. She says she will continue to write for her zpolitics.com site while working for Perdue’s campaign.
Jason Wolfe Named to Executive Post with Financial Exchange Radio Network. Longtime WEEI and WRKO, Boston programmer Jason Wolfe joins The Financial Exchange Radio Network as chief media and marketing strategist. The network syndicates the WRKO, Boston-based program “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong (pictured below at right) and Kim Carrigan (left)” heard on eight other affiliate stations around New England. Armstrong is president and CEO of the network. In this new role, Wolfe will be in charge of building the brand and expanding the reach of the program in addition to developing new marketing and business partnerships that expose the show to a much larger audience. Wolfe has also been working with former WEEI personality Glenn Ordway as chief content officer for Ordway’s Sportstalkboston.com and will continue in that position. Wolfe comments, “I’m thrilled to be able to work more directly with Barry, to build on what is already a very successful show. I’m privileged to have developed strong relationships with all of the major radio operators across the country and I’m extremely confident that as our discussions continue we’ll be able to expand the reach of this program.” Armstrong adds, “Jason has been working with us as a consultant for several months and has been doing a great job in getting ‘The Financial Exchange’ on additional radio stations. I know that he will build on that success in his new role as our new chief media and marketing strategist.”
Lesson from Napa: Be Prepared for that 3:00 am Telephone Call and Avoid Nasty Pranks While at It. No doubt you remember “it’s three am – and the phone rings…” from a 2008 Clinton for President political ad – arguably the most enduring line from that campaign. And it’s a question broadcasters need to answer BEFORE bad things happen…because bad things tend to happen at the worst possible time. Like 3:20 am PT this past Sunday…when the earth in and around Napa County, California shook like it hadn’t shaken in almost 25 years. At 3:20 am at most stations outside the largest markets – and even at some of the bigs, too – the programming likely is automated, or live via satellite. If anyone actually IS home, they are likely to be the lowest-paid, least-experienced people on the payroll. And that’s OK…we’ve all been there. But it’s only OK if plans are in place to help those folks deal with breaking news when senior managers, more experienced hands – and a full crew – aren’t around to help. If you’re a California station manager, you’ve got a quake plan that takes your staff step-by-step through operations and internal notification, programming and commercial adjustments, and continuous coverage ground rules. You’ve built comprehensive lists of key contacts in local, regional and state government; public and private disaster response groups; academic experts. And you’ve got a network news affiliation to back you up. Because at the end of the day, you’ve got to be fast. You have to be comprehensive. And most of all, you have to be right. In a must-read, informative new piece posted today (8/25) in TALKERS, ABC Television Network director of business continuity and industry expert on emergency preparedness Howard B. Price outlines everything a radio station should do to be ready for an earthquake such as the one that rocked Napa. He also lists things to help you avoid those horrific and embarrassing “pranks” that often accompany fast-breaking news events whereby imposters claiming to be officials get on the air and disrupt the decorum with nasty “gotcha” outbursts. To read the entire article, please click here.
The Best Talk Station Ever: What the Radio Industry Can Learn from a Truly Special News/Talk Operation. Seasoned radio business pro, Bill Brady, president/CEO of South Florida-based media investment firm, Futures & Options, Inc., serves up a fascinating look at one specific radio station that he says should be studied as the “best news/talk radio station, ever.” Wonder what it is? Hint: It existed in the past and proved there can be a lot more to news/talk radio than just one political point of view. Another hint: It had conservative, liberal, lifestyle, consumer advice, sports and art & entertainment elements delivered by legendary hosts who were at the top of their game and it sounded like no other station in the nation. Oh yes, by today’s standards, it also had extraordinarily high ratings Want to find out more? Read Brady’s entire piece by clicking here.
Host Rick Tryon Ends Political Show on KINX, Great Falls. According to a story in the Great Falls Tribune, Rick Tryon is ending his daily one-hour political talk show, citing the difficulty of making it financially feasible. Tryon brokers the “Politics Montana with Rick Tryon” program which consists of him interviewing opinion leaders about political issues. Tryon tells the paper the listeners have been good to the show but it’s time consuming and he’s ready to dedicate energy to other interests. Tryon’s last program will be Wednesday (8/27).
More TALKERS Career Moves. After being unceremoniously let go by longtime employer NPR back in 2004, former “Morning Edition” host Bob Edwards landed at Sirius. Now, 10 years later Edwards is leaving SiriusXM as the satcaster is cancelling his program. SiriusXM has not commented publicly on the move but Politico’s Dylan Byers reports the last show will air September 26…..Louisiana talk show host Jim Engster is taking his eponymous talk show from public outlet WRKF, Baton Rouge to Guaranty Broadcasting’s commercial outlet WBRP, Baton Rouge beginning in November. Engster will move from a one-hour morning program to a two-hour afternoon drive show.
Your Podcast Format. Are you serious about making your podcast stand out from the literally millions of podcasts available on the Internet? As a professional talk show host you probably are already doing some type of on-demand programming, but are you conscious of the program’s format? Media consultant Holland Cooke writes that basic radio formatics apply but there is a difference between an AM/FM talk show and a podcast and your execution should reflect the difference. Cooke says you need to understand how users are consuming your podcast and design the show accordingly. Read his entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Entertainment pro Gary Alan is currently available to handle fill-in work. Alan, a South Florida native who’s worked at such signals as WAXY, Miami, says his unique style easily allows him to navigate through politics, sports, entertainment, and today’s social issues with wit and a sense of humor. He can be contacted at: email@example.com or phoned at 407-960-3663…..The regularly scheduled “Ask the Mayor” show on CBS RADIO’s KNX, Los Angeles returns Thursday (8/28) as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti spends an hour with KNX listeners from 10:00 am to 11:00 am fielding calls and answering emailed and Tweeted questions. KNX anchor Tom Haule hosts the program that airs about every six weeks…..Yahoo! Sports Radio adds “Sports Kings’ NFL Weekly Countdown” to its weekend lineup. The show debuts Saturday at 7:00 am ET featuring MeanGene “The Sports Machine” and sports host Ronnie Brooks.
Wachs and Smiley on Vegas TV. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs (right), poses for a selfie with fellow syndicated radio personality and comic Rickey Smiley (left) at the studios of KVVU-TV, Las Vegas “FOX 5.” Dr. Wachs appeared on the “MORE” program to discuss nurse practitioners taking over doctors’ duties and Smiley was there to promote his show at the Orleans Theater in Las Vegas last Friday night.
Ferguson Fallout/Michael Brown Funeral, Obama’s Relationship with Fellow Democrats/Mid Term Elections, Napa Earthquake, U.S. Iraq and Syria Military Policy, Ice Bucket Challenge, Russia-Ukraine Tensions, and VMA Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/25). The funeral of Michael Brown and the fallout from his death at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri police; the looming mid-term elections and chatter about the strained relationships between President Obama and fellow Democrats; the Napa, California earthquake and talk of the future “big one” for California; the military policy of the Obama Administration with regard to military involvement in Iraq and Syria; the ice bucket challenge phenomenon; the military tensions between Russia and Ukraine; and Sunday’s VMA Awards show were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (8/25).
Local Radio Responds to Napa Earthquake. The most severe earthquake to hit Northern California in 25 years registered a 6.0 and was centered in Napa, California on Sunday morning. Local media responded and – although knocked off the air for about 30 minutes — Wine Country Broadcasting’s news/talk KVON, Napa (and sister hot AC KVYN, St. Helena) did return to the air to serve the region. Farther south in San Francisco, sources tell TALKERS magazine that local television went wall-to-wall with its coverage. As for radio, KSFO weekend personality Ethan Bearman says that competition KCBS-AM covered it “like a quality news network” while sister news/talk KGO covered the event and took calls until San Francisco 49ers football began. Bearman says, “I had my producer, Leigh Wolf, toss aside what we had planned. We started the show interviewing a rep from PG&E about power and gas in Napa, took a couple of callers, then interviewed Ross Stein, a geophysicist from the USGS about earthquakes and this one in particular. We had more callers sharing stories, then an interview with CHP officer Daniel Hill about safety and road closures, followed by more callers sharing stories. We also interviewed Yountville councillor Richard Hall about the damage in his town up the road from Napa, then many more callers.” Bearman tells TALKERS that what KSFO was able to do was use its two-way nature to do what TV couldn’t. “TV doesn’t provide more than a 10-minute loop. Straight news on KCBS-AM is just talking to the listener while we provided that human contact, that outlet of expression, that connection with others. It was really powerful and received a lot of positive feedback.”
Beck’s TheBlaze Negotiated with CNN for HLN Partnership. But, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal by Keach Hagey, the two sides could not come to an agreement on terms. Hagey’s report states that CNN executives recently held talks with agents from Glenn Beck‘s TheBlaze about a partnership that would change the programming on the struggling HLN channel that would have seen TheBlaze content replace the current shows on HLN. It’s being reported that CNN is in talks with Vice Media about a similar partnership. The WSJ reports that HLN’s total viewership has declined 22% for the season to date, and dipped 19% in the 18 to 49 demo, based on Nielsen numbers.
KFWB Accelerates Talk-to Sports Transition. Los Angeles talker KFWB was expected to conduct its transition to all-sports early next month; however, this past Sunday at midnight, CBS Sports Radio Network programming took over the 980 AM dial position. Word quickly spread and there was plenty of activity/reaction on social media. Included in the commentary are two classy postings from people who have worked at KFWB. On-air talent Lisa Osborne writes on her Facebook page: “It is KFWB’s last weekday as a news/talk station – format flip next week to all sports. Tune in if you can today to this heritage news station. If you grew up in LA, you can sing the jingle – that is what everyone does when they find out I work here. I’ve worked with some real pros here including: Penny Griego, Phil Hulett, Bret Lewis, Rhonda Kramer, Ken Jeffries, Elaine Perkins, Bill Nesbitt, Paul Lowe, Michael Shappee, Maggie McKay, Philip Luther Nash, Michael Knight, Russ Spears, Donna Page, Andy Ludlum, Joe Guimond, Cyndee Maxwell, and plenty more. Iconic Los Angeles traffic reporter Kramer comments, that she was “only 26 years old” when she began reporting traffic on the station. “It has always been home and I have worked with some of the most talented individuals in the news broadcast business. It has been an honor to work with pros like Dan Avey, Charlie Brailer, Don Hurbert, Bob Howard, John Brooks Jack Popejoy, Judy Ford, Andy Ludlum, and most recently, Maggie McKay, Michael Shappee, Lisa Osborne, Penny Griego and Phil Hulett. Working here has been extremely rewarding, affording me the opportunity to win 18 Golden Mikes. I am proud of my work on KFWB and have made friends here who will be in my life forever. I wish nothing but the best for the new sports format. Thanks KFWB for the wonderful memories. You will always be a part of me.” Quite a few industry personnel who did not work at the station were partisans. “I was your biggest fan,” New Normal entrepreneur/talk host Tom Leykis writes. “Seriously. I grew up in New York listening to ’1010 WINS.’ When I came to live in LA in the 1980s, KFWB, clearly modeled after WINS, became my new best friend…As a lifelong radio guy, I wanted to let you all know that, for me, you all were the best.” On one hand, advanced timing of the format flip is a bit of a surprise, yet on the other, there is considerable logic to it. The station has already secured a program director – Owen Murphy (from Seattle) – and it has cleared CBS Sports Radio programming. That lineup includes a well-known local quantity, Jim Rome, who will be heard 9:00 am – 12:00 noon. One more major piece to be added though is a locally originated morning show, which will likely debut in two weeks (Monday, 9/8). A format change was practically inevitable, as the station’s 6+ PPM shares thus far in calendar year 2014 have topped out at .3 (January, February, and May) and included .2 showings in March, April, June, and July. KFWB’s July ranking was #42. One year ago (July 2013), it ranked #39 (.5), still significantly lower from its all-news days. It actually would be ironic (or perhaps purposefully intended) if a morning show is installed September 8, as that will mark the five-year anniversary KFWB switched from all-news to all-talk. When CBS Corporation acquired KCAL-TV, Los Angeles (Channel 9) in 2002 (to go along with KCBS-TV Channel 2), it put them over the limit of radio and television properties in the same market. Three years ago, CBS Radio placed KFWB into a Diane Sutter-headed trust, under the name The KFWB Asset Trust. Director of news programming at CBS Radio Los Angeles’ all-news KNX – and formerly (and simultaneously) holding that same title for KFWB – Andy Ludlum posts on his Facebook page, “After 46 years of delivering news to the people of Southern California, the news watch has stopped for KFWB. I have been fortunate to have spent the past 25 years of my life working there with some of the most talented people to ever open a microphone or write a news story.” Ludlum posted the photo above showing the final minute of the final full newscast with Maggie McKay (right), Ted Sobel (center), and Michael Knight (left).
KTAR-FM, Phoenix Re-Brands; Tweaks Programming. The Bonneville news/talk station announces it is re-branding at the same time it is making programming changes and unveiling its new website designed specifically for mobile users. The station is now “KTAR News…on 92.3 FM and KTAR.com.” Bonneville Phoenix market manager Scott Sutherland states, “This re-brand and website re-launch lets the community know that our commitment to live and local news has never been stronger. And it also signals that KTAR News is a multi-platform media brand that distributes audio news and talk show content on FM Radio, KTAR.com and the KTAR App, as well as written, audio and video story content online across all devices.” Programming changes include more news content in middays with “Arizona’s Noon News and Karie Dozer” (from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm) and an earlier start (2:00 pm) for afternoon drive team Mac and Gaydos. Bonneville Phoenix VP of content and operations Ryan Hatch comments, “Our ‘mobile-first’ design will deliver a powerful, multi-media user experience on smartphones, where our online audience continues to migrate. Using the very latest technologies, the site also seamlessly adapts to tablets and desktops to deliver the same quality experience across all platforms.”
NRG Media, Woodward in Four-Station Transaction. The price for the latest NRG Media purchase – the quartet of Woodward Communications facilities in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa – is $3.55 million. NRG Media chief executive officer Mary Quass is “delighted to have the opportunity” to add the stations to her company’s platform. “We continue to look for great radio properties that are located in the Midwest and are an integral part of the communities they serve,” she comments. “Regarding NRG, Woodward Communications president and chief executive officer Tom Woodward states, “It is a well-known, community-oriented radio broadcast company with a great Midwestern culture and presence. Our strategic plans and related growth goals positioned the sale of the Waterloo properties. We salute the loyal, talented and dedicated staff we were fortunate to work with. We will continue to operate, grow and enhance our award-winning, seven-station radio group in the Appleton-Green Bay, Wisconsin markets which we’ve owned since the late-1970s.” The deal is for KFMW “Rock 108″; KOKZ “Iowa’s Classic Hits”; KWLO “1330 ESPN“; and KXEL “Iowa’s News & Talk Station.” Woodward Communications has operated these outlets the past two years. Prior to that, Bahakel Broadcasting owned KXEL for 54 years (1958 – 2012); it owned the other three from 1996 – 2012.
Found: WLS-AM’s “Next Talk Star.” If you wonder where the next generation of talk radio personalities is coming from, the answer might be professional wrestling. John Chase Gregoles (pictured here) emerges as the winner of WLS-AM, Chicago’s “Next Talk Star” competition and the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin resident is a day trader who has a background in … sports entertainment. This represents the Cumulus Media-owned talk station’s third such promotion, with WLS-AM program director/operations manager Peter Bolger pointing out, “Our last two winners are still on the air with a weekend show and occasional fill-in. It is certainly possible we will be as fortunate with this year’s winner. What the finalists had to say about talk radio and the passion they have for it was instructive and extremely energizing.” Gregoles comments that he “wants to broaden the audience of talk radio.” Wannabes submitted auditions via the station’s website. WLS-AM narrowed the submissions to 10 semifinalists; the top five were then determined by online voting. Bolger; WLS-AM’s (9:00 am – 11:00 am) Kass & Cohn co-host Lauren Cohn; 2012 winner Stephanie Trussell; and 2013 winner Laura Kelly were among those judging the competition. Gregoles gets to host a two-hour WLS-AM show, receive a limo ride to/from the studio, and a trip for two to Mexico.
MLB Baseball Continues to Give Boost to Most Flagship Stations. TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian presents his second analysis of the performances of MLB flagship stations this season – this time based on July PPM data. Again, the flagships in markets where baseball has traditionally been good to its radio outlet and in markets where the team is performing well continue to benefit from increased listenership. In this report Kinosian tracks how flagship stations have performed over the past five PPM surveys, compared to July 2013, how they rank in their respective markets, and how the stations stack up based on MLB divisions. Check out Mike Kinosian’s analysis here.
Sabo: It Is a Widespread Myth That “Ours Is a Very Big Sports Town.” As a globetrotting media consultant, Walter Sabo reports, “There is noticeable bravado in every city about the local level of sports fandom.” In a new opinion piece certain to spark disagreement on the part of many TALKERS readers, Sabo makes the case that even though most radio markets claim to be “big” on sports or even the “biggest” sports city in America, the “facts don’t match the roar of the crowd.” He writes, “According to the data presented from the major league national teams, every city is pretty much the same.” To read this informative and provocative piece in its entirety, please click here.
Lee ‘Hacksaw’ Hamilton Hangs Out Fill-In Shingle. West Coast sports talk pro Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton, most recently with Broadcast Company of the Americas-owned XEPRS, San Diego “The Mighty 1090,” announces he’s making himself available as a “radio free agent” for freelance work as “Hacksaw & Company,” as he says, “sports talk radio designed for your market, when you need a pinch-hitter.” Hamilton’s daily content can be seen at (www.leehacksawhamilton.com). He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arkansas Stations Swap Frequencies; AC Turns Conservative/Christian Talk. A pair of Arkansas FMs are swapping positions on the dial – John M. Dowdy-owned hot AC KKTZ moves from 93.5 up to 107.5 while AC KOMT moves to the 93.5 frequency. KKTZ will remain hot AC but KOMT flips to conservative/Christian talk using content from Salem Radio Network, Westwood One and Premiere Networks. The new talk station will air: Bill Bennett in AM drive followed by Mike Gallagher, Dennis Miller, Michael Medved, Mark Levin, Janet Mefferd and “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory.
Odds & Sods. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, radio pro Mike Stephen is joining WGN, Chicago for a weekend show called “Outside the Loop Radio” that will air from 6:00 am to 7:00 am Sunday mornings, effective October 4. The eight-year-old show is promoted as “Chicago’s Almost Above-Ground Audio Magazine,” and promises “interviews with local newsmakers on everything from arts and politics to the environment and food.”…..Sitting in for Jimmy Barrett on Clear Channel’s WRVA, Richmond in morning drive all this week is Mark Wainwright…..CBS RADIO’s sports talker WJFK-FM, Washington “106.7 The Fan” and IMG Sports Network agree to an extension that will allow Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball play-by-play to be heard on the station through the 2018 season.
Thomas Adds CBS Sports Radio VP Stripes. Three-year CBS Radio Boston vice president of programming Mike Thomas takes on additional responsibilities as vice president of sports programming for CBS Sports Radio. Among the Boston stations Thomas supervises is all-sports WBZ-FM “The Sports Hub.” Thomas and Mark Chernoff will oversee the company’s sports properties, as well as CBS Sports Radio; Chernoff is CBS Radio’s vice president of sports stations and vice president of programming for CBS Radio New York, which includes iconic sports outlet WFAN. CBS Radio executive vice president of programming Chris Oliviero states that, “Mike’s creativity and expertise in the format is evident by [WBZ-FM's] quick ascent in one of the most competitive and passionate sports towns in America. These skills will serve CBS Radio well as Mike joins Mark in guiding our continually growing, industry leading portfolio of both local and national sports brands which combined produces nearly 300 hours a day of original content.” Thomas has programmed CBS Radio Boston classic rocker WZLX the past eight years and “The Sports Hub” the last five. His prior programming credits include KGB, San Diego; WFBQ, Indianapolis; WTUE and WXEG, Dayton; and WYMG, Springfield, Illinois.
Newsmax Publishes Insightful Article About Mike Rogers and the Evolving Role of Politics in News/Talk Radio. Senior editor David A. Patten of Newsmax Media (Newsmax.com and Newsmax Magazine) serves up an informative article that provides fairly objective insight into the recent announcement that at the end of his current Congressional term, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) will begin a career with Cumulus Media as a radio talk show host. The article presents reaction from outspoken conservative media practitioners who react to Rogers’ plan to approach conservative politics from a “kinder and gentler” perspective than the traditional presentations allegedly offered by the genre’s big players such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage. In the article, commentator (and former radio talk show host) Michael Reagan labels Rogers’ yet-to-debut new show “RINO radio” (Republican in Name Only.) Conservative media watchdog L. Brent Bozell III charges that Rogers thinks conservative radio listeners are “knuckle-draggers unable to think for themselves, unable to be smart.” Rogers explains to Newsmax TV why he is giving up his coveted chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee to join the likes of Mike Huckabee as politicians who enlisted in the media, stating, “It gives me an opportunity to talk to people all over the country about American exceptionalism, the future of America, the issues of the day, national security, and foreign policy in a way I just don’t hear interjected into the public debate.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, known for his nonpartisan stance on political talk radio, is recruited for comment in the piece saying that Rogers is “more compelling than the average dry politician” — but perhaps not as interesting as the more successful radio talkers. He adds that having a “flair for show business” is at least as important to success in talk radio as whatever policy knowledge a host brings to the table. Harrison states, “Sometimes the goals of success in talk radio are different from the goals of success in politics which goes back to something I said before: Politicians do not make good talk-show hosts.” Whether Rogers can succeed on the same battlefield where so many others from elective office have fallen really depends on how audiences react. And that, Harrison says, “Nobody can predict.” On the positive side of the ledger, Harrison says, “Rogers has savvy media instincts, and can talk credibly on a wide range of issues thanks to his insider knowledge.” The negative side of the ledger: Rogers is a politician. “As a species,” says Harrison, “politicians don’t fully understand the show-business and human-element aspects of talk programming. They see it as another platform to further their political selves, as opposed to their personality selves.” Harrison expounds, “What’s needed are spontaneous expressions that touch people on a human level. That’s not easy for most politicians, who by instinct and training learn to keep their reactions under wraps. I’m not saying Rogers doesn’t have it. I’m just saying we don’t know that he does.” In the article, Harrison hastens to add that he’s rooting for Rogers to do well because his success would benefit the industry. He says that Cumulus “will have to show Rogers that it’s OK to flirt with controversy in expressing his opinion.” The TALKERS publisher concludes, “On the radio dial, there’s no room for squishy Republicans. If he irritates the core of the right-wing that loves talk radio,” says Harrison, “and doesn’t generate interest among the people who want to hear a moderate, he may wind up with nothing.” To read the entire Newsmax article, please click here.
Radio Statesboro, Georgia Eagle Media Close on Five-Station Deal. Neal Ardman‘s Radio Statesboro acquires a five-station Statesboro, Georgia cluster from Georgia Eagle Media. The transaction includes country WHKN, sports WPTB, adult contemporary WPMX, talk WWNS, and classic rock WZBX. Media Services Group‘s Eddie Esserman in the company’s St. Simons Island, Georgia office was the exclusive broker and represented Georgia Eagle Media (the seller) in this deal.
Pardon Me Governor. Even though Matt “Rookie” Michalski poured a bucket of ice and a drink pitcher’s worth of ice directly on Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, the producer/sidekick of Hubbard Minneapolis KSTP-AM’s regionally syndicated “Garage Logic” with Joe Soucheray is (presumably) not in any hot water with the state’s chief executive. The extenuating circumstance is that it was pre-arranged as part of the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Governor Dayton accepted the dare to be showered with ice yesterday (Thursday, 8/21) at the Minnesota State Fair. Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad nominated Dayton, who in turn, laid down the gauntlet to a fellow Democrat, Minnesota Senator – and former Air America talk host – Al Franken. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” went viral through social media the middle of this year. A common stipulation is that nominated people have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation to ALS. We have seen numerous media personalities become involved such as Lars Larson, who does daily conservative talk shows on Alpha Media Portland’s KXL-FM and nationally on Compass Media Networks. Portland city commissioner Steve Novick challenged Larson to participate in this charitable soaking. Larson accepted and got drenched yesterday morning (Thursday, 8/21) outside downtown Portland’s PacWest Center. “It was cold, but I loved doing it,” Larson remarks. “ALS is a terrible disease and we raised [more than $700] for the cause. Doing the honors of dumping the ice water on Larson was Alpha Media adult alternative KINK morning drive co-host/news director Sheila Hamilton. The initial shock, Larson comments, “is so cold.” Two of Larson’s listeners did the deed to Novick, who acknowledges, “It was fun and it is great to see people all over the country drawing attention to fighting this disease.”
Klein Proves “You Can Go Home Again.” Twenty years ago, longtime Charlotte resident Jerry Klein was one of the first liberal hosts given the challenging task of trying to balance conservative talk radio, when he took over late-nights at heritage 50,000-watt, “Blowtorch of the South”-turned talker WBT-AM, Charlotte. A few years later, he moved up to a slightly earlier timeslot, but he was dismissed in October 1997. A short-lived self-syndication effort followed before Klein departed for Washington, DC. He landed at WMAL where he learned the business not just as a host, but also as senior producer, and assistant program and marketing director. He rubbed shoulders with many top politicians and media personalities. Three years ago, however, things took a horrific turn for the worse, when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and serious liver disease. Klein was informed he had little chance to survive more than a year. Barely a month after a first unsuccessful surgery, Klein awakened one morning only to find his wife had unexpectedly passed away in their bathroom. One year later, unable to work, penniless, and close to homeless, he accepted an offer from friends in Charlotte to stay in a spare bedroom. Klein returned early last year, thinking he was going home to die. This time last year, things suddenly changed again – this time for the better – as Klein’s oncologist indicated Klein’s cancer had mysteriously vanished. Although still battling physical issues, Klein nonetheless began writing for Charlotte’s alternative news weekly, Creative Loafing, just as he did from 1987 – 2001. Moreover and quite astonishingly, one week from today (8/29), roughly 17 years after being fired from WBT, Klein returns to the now Greater Media-owned talker to fill-in for John Hancock (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm). He will do the same Labor Day (Monday, 9/1) for Keith Larson (9:00 am – 12 noon). “Take your pick of clichés,” Klein offers. “Either, ‘Lazarus is still rising,’ or ‘You can go home again.’ One year ago, I would never have dreamed this was possible – I didn’t think I’d be alive. Instead, I’ve been welcomed home in a way that rocks me to my core. People who screamed at me for my positions now come and hug me. I am constantly told how much I was missed. This proves you might have to leave home thinking you’re a failure, only to return to find out you might have been wrong.”
Falcons Call an FM Flagship Audible. Effective with this weekend’s (third) pre-season tilt against the Tennessee Titans at the Georgia Dome, the NFL‘s Atlanta Falcons will move its FM flagship from Lincoln Financial Media hot AC WSTR “Star 94″ to CBS Radio sports outlet WZGC “The Game.” According to a post on the station’s website, “The Game” will be “airing the remaining preseason games and all regular season games for the 2014 – 2015 season.” Lincoln Financial Media’s WQXI “The Zone” continues as the team’s AM flagship station. It is a bit of an oddity that two competing broadcast companies are flagships for the same sports franchise.
Three Outlets to Carry Duquesne Sports. The official radio home of Duquesne football, men’s basketball and coaches’ shows throughout 2014 – 2015 will be Clear Channel Pittsburgh’s WBGG “ESPN 970″ and WWSW-HD2 “94.5 3WS, as well as iHeartRadio. It is a result of a pact with Learfield Sports’ DUQS Sports Properties, Duquesne’s exclusive multimedia rights holder. Market president Tim McAleer remarks, “We are very excited to team up with Duquesne University athletics to bring our listeners even more local sports coverage. The ability to broadcast their specialty sports programming both locally on [WBGG] and on ’3WS’ HD2, as well as on iHeartRadio allows them to reach fans everywhere.” Duquesne University director of athletics Greg Amodio opines, “It is a great time to follow the Dukes. We trust Learfield Sports with its years of experience in pairing university partners with respected quality broadcast outlets – this will be a terrific partnership with Clear Channel Pittsburgh. We want to create the best fan experience we can, including catering to our base which relies on catching our game action and coaches’ shows on the Duquesne Sports Network.” During the football season, the University’s new radio home for the “Dukes” will air the “Jerry Schmitt Show.” The “Jim Ferry Show” will be broadcast during men’s basketball season, while the “Dan Burt Show” will be carried during the women’s basketball season.
Memphis University School, WMC-AM Continue Partnership. Tonight’s high school football game (Friday, 8/22) between Memphis University School and Brentwood Academy will kickoff the fifth year that Entercom Memphis sports WMC-AM “ESPN 790″ has been MUS’s broadcast partner. WMC-AM will air all of the school’s Friday night football contests. Vice president and market manager Dan Barron comments, “We are proud to be the broadcast home of MUS football and continue to bring high school athletics to Memphis and to the mid-south. MUS “Owls” games are called by Mike Lawhead, Bobby Wade, and Barr Ray. Memphis University School is a college-preparatory independent day school for boys in grades 7 – 12.
Odds & Sods. Starting next Monday(8/25) CBS Sports Radio‘s 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm (ET) “Doug Gottlieb Show” will be simulcast on the CBS Sports Network…..Owing to the station’s decision to abolish news programming, Inland Empire Broadcasting classic hits-oldies KOLA, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario news director David Wylie exits.
ISIS Beheading, Ferguson Civil Unrest, 2016 Presidential Race, US Ecomomic Indicators, Rick Perry Indictment and Israel-Gaza Warfare are the Top News/Talk Radio Stories for the Week of August 18-22. Although the Ferguson tragedy brought a wide variety of hot issues to the foreground and was the dominant story for most of the past two weeks, the horrific execution of American journalist James Foley at the hands of ISIS extremists captured the top spot collectively at midweek and has dominated conversation since. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.
Ferguson Provides News/Talk Radio with Red Meat on Controversial Issues for Both Left and Right. The tragic events that have unfolded in Ferguson, MO have provided talk radio opinion leaders from the left, right and in-between with more than enough fresh material on mainstay topics around which to build their cases. Some see it as another horrific indication of unjust racial inequality in America and the troubling expansion of a militarized police state. Others see it as further infuriating evidence of the rise of crime, unwarranted playing of the race card and growing disrespect and lack of support for law enforcement. Almost all are concerned about its reflection of the declining state of journalism and increasing suppression of the press and First Amendment rights. Asked by Salem Radio Network VP news & talk programming, Tom Tradup (for a forthcoming article in September’s Townhall Magazine) his take on talk radio’s role in the matter and whether he sees it as negative or positive, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “Ferguson contains a tempest of pressing and controversial American issues. There’s red meat for both the left and right in this tragedy. Talk radio – collectively – has played a positive role in responding to and covering it by airing all the different ideologies, including those that are politically incorrect, and moving the vital discussion forward. Some hosts have gone directly to the scene putting local people on the air to present real life perspectives, thus bringing the public closer to the disturbingly obscured truth.” The article will contain comments from Sean Hannity, Mike Gallagher, and SiriusXM personality David Webb who went to Ferguson where he interviewed a wide variety of residents including African American businesspeople. Tradup tells TALKERS, “I’m proud of our industry leading the national conversation on this issue, and look forward to highlighting the great work many shows did inviting audience members to experience the story-behind-the-headlines.”
Mike Gallagher: “I Can – and Will – Do Better.” On his Salem-syndicated talk program yesterday (Wednesday, 8/20), Mike Gallagher became embroiled with one of his callers (“James”). The two discussed James’ opinion that releasing surveillance video of 18-year-old Michael Brown robbing a convenience store prior to the shooting that took Brown’s life was, in and of itself, a “violent act.” There was considerable shouting between host Gallagher and caller “James” with the latter hanging up. Gallagher maintains the on-air exchange bothered him the rest of the day and it prompted him to write on Facebook Wednesday night, “Today on my radio show, my emotions got the best of me. I have been bothered by that exchange all day and I wanted to formally apologize. While I steadfastly disagree with [caller James'] contention that the surveillance video of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store was not a ‘violent act,’ I should not have interrupted James as I did. I will give a more detailed and specific apology on the air tomorrow, but I wanted to put it in writing tonight. I should not have reacted the way I did, and I certainly should not invite people to call my show and then disagree so passionately that I don’t give them much of a chance to talk. I am sorry. I can – and will – do better.”
Dan Mason To Cox Media Group Tampa As OM. To clarify, the Dan Mason appointed operations manager for three Cox Media Group Tampa facilities is the former WODS, Boston program director – not the CBS Radio president and chief executive officer with the same name. CMG vice president and market manager Keith Lawless comments, “Dan’s approach to programming is firmly in line with ours and he is a welcome addition to our team. I am confident his contributions will help us continue to compete and win.” Cox Media Group vice president of programming Steve Smith explains, “We took our time searching for the right fit, and Dan is that guy. He will add his expertise in management and talent development to some of our other super-brands in Tampa. We welcome Dan to the CMG family.” Mason – who begins his new assignment in about two weeks (9/8) – states that he is “thrilled” to join the “fantastic team” in Tampa on “three of the most exciting and unique brands not just within Cox Media Group, but the country. I am grateful to Keith Lawless and Steve Smith for the opportunity to lead the team.” Mason’s Tampa OM duties involve alternative WSUN “97-X,” CHR WPOI “Hot 101.5,” and talk WHPT “102.5 The Bone.” He will also be director of branding & programming for “Hot 101.5.” Mason’s previous programming background includes Clear Channel Miami CHR WHYI “Y-100″; Entercom Sacramento outlets CHR KDND-FM “107.9 The End” and hot AC KBZC “Star 106.5″; and Clear Channel Cleveland CHR WAKS, “96.5 Kiss-FM.”
CMG Talkers Clear “The Dana Show.” The agreement for Radio America‘s “The Dana Show” includes Cox Media Group talk outlets in Atlanta (WSB-AM); Orlando (WDBO-FM); Jacksonville (WOKV-AM/FM); Dayton (WHIO-AM/FM); Tulsa (KRMG-AM/FM); and Athens, Georgia (WGAU). Cox Media Group vice president of marketing/news-talk-sports format leader Nick Roberts comments that, “Cox Media Group strongly believes in growing new talk talent — people who can be the next superstars. We believe Dana has the ability to reach the next generation of listeners.” Radio America chief operating officer Mike Paradiso states, “The growth of ‘The Dana Show’ has been outstanding. Dana and all of us at Radio America are excited about her success across the country. It is a privilege to be working with a great company like Cox and their heritage stations.” Host Dana Loesch originates her daily program from Emmis St. Louis’ KFTK.
When Broadened Aspirations Deserve a Thank-You. For well over one-half century (1926 – 1983), New York City’s female-targeted WOR was America’s #1 rated radio station and the country’s top-biller. Similarly-programmed talkers KABC, Los Angeles and WGN, Chicago were typically second and third. Partnership pioneer Tom O’Neil understood that his business was show business and grew the crown jewel of the RKO Radio Network - WOR – by hiring major stars from other media. Nowadays though, when topflight radio personalities seek to broaden their horizons in other media, most radio managers try to quash such plans. Tipping his cap to the O’Neil model, Sabo Media chief executive officer Walter Sabo strongly suggests that when on-air personalities possess the ambition to do more than radio, management should reward them with a hearty “Thank-You.” Click here to read Sabo’s exclusive TALKERS article.
Donahue to Retire from KYW. After a five-decade Philadelphia broadcasting career, Harry Donahue is retiring. Tomorrow (8/22) is the last day on the job for the morning drive co-anchor at CBS Radio-owned all-news KYW. CBS Radio Philadelphia senior vice president and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “Harry’s voice is one of Philadelphia’s most familiar. His contributions to KYW are immeasurable. He is a consummate professional and will be sorely missed by those who have worked with him all these years, as well as our many listeners who set their alarms to 1060 each morning.” Donahue reflects that when he was hired at KYW, “I couldn’t believe it. It was, and remains, the preeminent radio station in Philadelphia. I have done what I always wanted to do. To work in my hometown and having been part of this iconic radio station – it just doesn’t get any better.” Donahue joined KYW in 1973. He began his career as an announcer for Philadelphia’s former WPBS (now WUSL) and as a manager of media relations for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Donahue is the longtime play-by-play voice for Temple University athletics – men’s football and basketball. The latter is heard on KYW’s talk sibling WPHT; he will continue those responsibilities.
Tree Media Releases Climate Crisis Film “CARBON.” Production company Tree Media is supported by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (DiCaprio is the film’s narrator). Made in collaboration with nationally syndicated, WYD Media progressive talk host (and recipient of the 2014 TALKERS Freedom of Speech Award) Thom Hartmann, CARBON explores crucial issues related to the climate crisis. Hartmann stresses, “We need serious action to address the most pressing issue of our time. Communities across the world have taken action in the most direct and effective ways possible by taxing and trading carbon. For us to beat this crisis, many more need to join.” According to DiCaprio, “97% of climate scientists agree: Climate change is happening now and humans are responsible. We cannot sit idly by and watch the fossil fuel industry make billions at our collective expense. We must put a price on carbon — now.” This is the first film in the “Green World Rising” series that will include three additional ones covering solutions to the climate crisis. Director Leila Connors explains, “This film is meant to be an asset for the climate movement and to generate momentum for the global reduction of carbon emissions. We must move toward renewable energy and to create a real solution.” CARBON was produced by George DiCaprio, Mathew Schmid, Roee Sharon and Earl Katz, and presented by Thom Hartmann.
Return of the Hochman Burger. For the second year, Beasley Broadcast Group Miami’s WQAM “Sports Radio 560″ afternoon (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) driver Marc Hochman can go into a certain Boca Raton establishment – Red’s Backwoods BBQ – and order a burger that is named after him. “As a guy, I don’t think there is a bigger honor than [that],” he contends. “In my radio career, I have interviewed everyone from Hulk Hogan and Mike Tyson to Pat Sajak and Al Roker. As a program director, I have been nominated twice for ‘Sports Radio Station of the Year’ for the Marconi Awards, but I have never been more proud of anything than [this]. For the record, the “Hochman Burger” is accompanied with cheddar cheese, barbeque sauce, and is topped with Funyuns.
Los Angeles’ KFWB to Air NFL and NCAA Slate. Set to launch the station’s all-sports format early next month, KFWB, Los Angeles newly-named program director Owen Murphy reveals KFWB will carry a complete schedule of NFL and NCAA play-by-play. In addition, the hour-long USC sports spotlight “Trojans Live” will return for its second season. The Tuesday evening (6:00 pm – 7:00 pm) program devoted to USC sports features men’s head football coach Steve Sarkisian. This is KFWB’s fifth year as flagship of the NBA‘s Los Angeles Clippers and it becomes the exclusive Los Angeles home for Westwood One‘s coverage of all NFL Sunday night, Monday night and Thursday night games. That schedule begins in two weeks (9/4) when Green Bay takes on reigning champion Seattle. Murphy states, “With rumors swirling about the NFL draft coming to Los Angeles in 2015, and maybe an NFL team as well, we could not be more excited to deliver great Westwood One football programming to a football hungry town so deserving of its own team. There is no better product than Westwood One’s March Madness play-by-play and we are proud to have the opportunity to present it to the most passionate and knowledgeable hoops fans in America.” The station’s broadcast schedule will include the NFC and AFC Championship games, Pro Bowl, and next February’s Super Bowl.
“Ragz” To Program Portland’s “Game.” Alpha Media Portland sports outlet KXTG “750 The Game” names Mike “Ragz” Ragozino program director and afternoon drive (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) host. Executive vice president of programming Scott Mahalick comments, “‘Ragz’ is uniquely qualified to lead the staff of ‘The Game’ and practice what he preaches everyday on the air. He ‘gets’ the entertainment factor in sports radio like no one else in this business.” Ragozino reflects that ever since he got into the radio business, “It was always about taking a new challenge head on, without fear of failure, having fun and most importantly, entertaining the audience. Joining Alpha Media – and more specifically ’750 The Game’ – offers me a chance to do what I love for an incredible company in a beautiful city that has the same passion for sports as I do.” The Queens, New York native has 12 years of classic rock programming/on-air experience at WNNJ, Sussex, New Jersey and WAOR, South Bend, Indiana. When WAOR flipped to sports in May 2012, it enabled “Ragz” to accomplish his dream of programming an all-sports station. In addition to programming it, he co-hosted a weekly one-hour show with Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown. Ragozino begins his Portland assignment in just over two weeks (Monday, 9/8).
BOB-FM to the Romantic Rescue. “You’ll hear all sorts of stuff” is the way BOB-FM positions itself and a recent audio clip from the station underscores that positioning statement. This particular BOB-FM though is not an adult hits outlet here in the United States, but a radio station broadcasting at 106.7 and 106.9 in Knebworth, Hertford, Ware, Hatfield, Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth Garden City, Welwyn Garden City and Watton-at-Stone. Knebworth most likely gave away the location as the United Kingdom. Reminiscent of something syndicated personality “Delilah” or Karen Sharp on her nightly “Love Songs” show on Los Angeles adult contemporary KOST “Coast 103″ might do, BOB-FM morning talents (or “breakfast presenters,” as they are more elegantly called) Graham Mack and Amy Stevenson came to the aid of a young woman (“Sarah”) yearning to reconnect with her dream man (“Sam”). The back-story is that Sarah met Sam at a music festival that featured Justin Timberlake and it was love at first sight. The snafu was that Sarah didn’t get Sam’s number, so she did what was only logical – call BOB-FM to track him down. Her email to Mack and Stevenson recapped that part of the story and stated her desire to meet the 25-year-old, 6′ 5″ Hertfordshire dog trainer. It took Mack and Stevenson all of two days to locate him. Especially if you are a hopeless romantic, click here to listen to the complete interchange.
“Proactive” Patient Will Overcome Ovarian Cancer. That is what Robin Marshall optimistically writes on her Facebook page. Cumulus Media‘s “Sound Solutions” production manager states that, “Short and sweet,” she has stage two or slight stage three Ovarian cancer but “all was removed.” Doctors “did snippets” from her other organs for biopsy purposes and regardless of the results,” Marshall will be treated with “a very strong regiment of chemo.” As she laments, “It is nothing that anyone looks forward to.” Realizing she has a difficult road ahead, Marshall will remain in the hospital until this Saturday (8/23), but she declares, “I have hope.” At the “end of the day,” however, Marshall stresses, she will survive Ovarian cancer because, “I was proactive. There are no options – I want to live.”
ISIS Beheading, Ferguson Turmoil, Rick Perry Indictment, Gaza Crisis and ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Among Top Talk Stories Yesterday (8/20). The stories listed in this headline were some of the most talked about on news/talk radio yesterday However the breaking story of ISIS beheading American journalist James Wright Foley was by far the most-dominating conversation on American talk radio according to the ongoing research from TALKERS. Check here tomorrow for the complete top stories and most-talked-about people listings for the entire week.
Learfield Launches Spanish Network for Texas A&M Football. Beginning with next week’s (8/28) season opener against South Carolina, fans of the Texas A&M Aggies will hear complete Texas A&M pigskin game coverage in Spanish on Univision Radio Houston’s KLAT; Salem Espanol San Antonio’s KRDY; KAMA, El Paso; and MBM Radio McAllen’s KVJY. Aggies games will also be on SiriusXM Deportes en Vivo Channel 551. Chancellor John Sharp of The Texas A&M University System explains, “It is important we share the Texas A&M brand across the state, To do so, we need a Spanish language option for our fans. We believe this is a real step forward for Aggie sports as we begin our third season in the SEC.” The Texas A&M Spanish Network will feature Pedro Vela Almaguer on play-by-play and Alberto Rodriguez doing color commentary. There are 55 English-language radio affiliates on the Texas A&M Sports Network. All 12 Aggies’ regular season and any postseason games will be carried on the Texas A&M Spanish Network.
TALKERS Affiliate Roundup. Rich Beem & Sandy McIlree-hosted “Beemer & the Bald Guy” welcome Cumulus Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s WSEA “100.3 The Team” as an affiliate to its Nineball Radio Networks-distributed Sunday morning golf show.
Views “Rising” on Rock Band’s “Spangled” Song Interpretation. Several months ago, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison — a showman at heart — pondered the advantages of — and reaction to — opening the publication’s annual New York City seminar in June with a rousing, dramatic version of — all things — the National Anthem. The more he deliberated on it, the more he reasoned, why not. It has famously preceded every major sporting event and, truth be told, a multitude of minor ones as well. When done correctly and under optimum circumstances though, a spirited rendition of this country’s anthem can elicit powerfully positive emotions. Such was the case two months ago (6/20) at that very TALKERS confab when patriotic rock band Madison Rising gripped everyone’s attention and brought several to a misty-eye state with their “Star Spangled Banner” performance. The group now boasts sales of over 100,000 of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which celebrates its 200th birthday in about four weeks. Francis Scott Key wrote it on the morning of September 14, 1814, as he watched the American flag rise over Ft. McHenry. Madison Rising has updated and re-energized the anthem just in time for this momentous occasion. Thus far, there have been nearly six million unique YouTube video views of Madison Rising’s “Star Spangled Banner” performance. The band, a creation of New York City entrepreneur Richard Mgrdechian, hopes to reach 10 million views by the September 14 anniversary. To view it, please click here.
Ferguson Wake Up Call: Is your Emergency Planning Proactive or Reactive? The turmoil in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, MO illustrates the need for radio stations – particularly those in the news/talk/information genre – to be prepared in the event that something like what is happening in Ferguson strikes close to home. Howard B. Price, director, business continuity, ABC Television Network expert (and one of the huge stars of the recent Talkers New York 2014 seminar) shares his expertise on this subject in a new piece posted today (8/20) writing: “We don’t yet know the full story behind the shooting of an unarmed African-American man by a white police officer in Ferguson…but what has emerged in the days of protest, rioting and looting that have followed is both a cautionary tale and a teachable moment for broadcasters. They – and digital newsgatherers, too – are being tested on their ability to ramp up meaningful coverage of contentious social issues simmering in communities large and small. Also being tested is their preparedness to both report the story while protecting their people and property. To read Price’s entire priceless piece, please click here.
Gallagher Encourages Listeners to Support Local Police. The call-to-action by Salem talk show host Mike Gallagher comes after last weekend’s fatal shooting by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the aftermath there and elsewhere. Some protesters are calling for retribution for the officer involved in Brown’s death but Gallagher hopes his audience can “turn a negative into a positive” by donating to his 501c3 non-profit “Gallagher’sArmy Fallen Officer Fund,” which provides money to families of officers killed in the line of duty. According to Gallagher, the mission of that endeavor is simple: “We want to get a check into the hands of the surviving family members of a police officer who has been killed in the line of duty as quickly as possible,” he states. “This show of financial support to be used in any way the family sees fit will in no way compensate for their loss; rather, it is a sign of appreciation, respect and support from a grateful nation.” Violence and confrontations in Ferguson are generating headlines, but Gallagher maintains that incidents there are “detracting from the solid work” local police departments do in cities and towns throughout America.
Brady: What Do We Do About AM Radio? The somber financial and technological state of AM radio as a viable commercial medium going forward is the subject of almost-daily articles both in the consumer media and the media trades. The recent Walt Disney Company announcement of its intention to sell off 23 of its 24 AM stations only added fuel to these fires of worry and pessimism. It’s not unusual to read the opinion that AM radio has an “image problem” or is virtually “non-existent” to younger demos — but as Futures & Options, Inc. president and CEO Bill Brady writes in a new TALKERS piece published today (8/20), news/talk radio can step up to the plate and again save AM radio (and itself) in the process. But in order to do so, there is going to have to be new thinking, creativity and commitment on the part of all involved. Brady writes: “News/talk isn’t just a different format, it’s a different business. News/talk stations used to be stand-alone operations managed by broadcasters who nurtured and cared for them. They were sold by dedicated sales teams who knew well the format’s ability to bring customers through their client’s doors. With the dawn of consolidation, news/talk stations suddenly found themselves in big station clusters with managers who were preoccupied with their other stations. Often, these were music station GMs without news/talk backgrounds — and they weren’t at all prepared for the cranky, petulant, expense-laden news/talk AMs they were suddenly forced to deal with. News/talk stations can be a handful. Their audiences are vocal, and they complain. A lot. Then, there are the hosts. They are often high-maintenance. There are pressure groups and PR crises which can’t be ignored. Then, there’s the expense. News/talk hosts make a lot of money. A lot more than FM jocks do. With news and support staffs, news/talk stations can cost a lot to operate. To consolidation era GMs, news/talk stations were a pain and the expense reductions were irresistible. GMs cut the guts out of their news/talk stations. Gone, too, is the “time suck” of local hosts and their shenanigans. GMs no longer have to spend their days talking to complaining listeners, or newspaper reporters seeking comment on controversial local hosts. All is now quiet on the western front. Too quiet.” To read media management pro Brady’s entire article, please click here.
Chicago’s WCKG Relocates. Elmhurst, Illinois-licensed/DuPage Radio-owned talker WCKG “The Voice of DuPage County” is moving to state-of-the-art studios and offices in suburban Chicago. Their facilities will be in Carr Workplaces’ Oak Brook Terrace Tower. With the exception of those in Chicago, it is the tallest building (31 stories) in Illinois. Station manager Matt Dubiel explains, “I wanted to move WCKG to the tallest building in the Chicago suburbs. Carr Workplaces make it possible for small businesses like ours to afford a world-class office environment – smack dab in the middle of Chicago-land, which is exactly what we need to serve the community and our local advertising partners. WCKG program director Leslie Harris remarks, “It is the best place to be in the suburbs. Like [TV's George & Louise Jefferson said], “We’re moving on up to the east side … of DuPage.” WCKG does not appear in print in Nielsen Audio‘s July 2014 PPM report for Chicago.
Midday Changes Coming to Philadelphia’s “Fanatic.” WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” will institute football season midday lineup modifications on the Greater Media-owned Philadelphia sports outlet. One constant is that Harry Mayes will be on every day 10:00 am – 12:00 noon. Each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday — he will be paired with Brian Baldinger. Every Monday and Friday, Mayes’ on-air teammate will be another “Brian,” Brian Westbrook, who has been a regular “Fanatic” contributor in recent years. While a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, he hosted his own show on the station during the 2008 – 2009 NFL season. The Eagles drafted Westbrook in 2002 out of Villanova University. He spent eight seasons with the Eagles; made two NFL Pro Bowl squads; played in four NFC Championship Games; and in one Super Bowl. A “Fanatic” contributor since 2010, Baldinger — or “Baldy” — joined the Eagles in 1992. After his playing career ended in 1993, Baldinger developed a second career in broadcasting. This new “Fanatic” midday roster takes shape in about two weeks (9/2).
Return of Boston’s “Jimmy Fund” Radio-Telethon. Considerably more often than not in recent memory, the Boston Red Sox are serious contenders for post-season play, although the defending (2013) World Series champions have been in a protracted slump this year. That issue notwithstanding, its radio flagship – Entercom‘s WEEI – and the cable network that broadcasts all their games – the New England Sports Network (NESN) – have commenced the 36-year, 13th annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. Dating back to the days of the “Splendid Splinter,” Ted Williams, and when Hall of Famer Curt Gowdy called the games, the Jimmy Fund has been the Red Sox charity of choice. Regardless of a player’s tenure with the club, he becomes immersed in the exemplary effort to support pediatric and adult cancer care/research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. As usual, this year’s broadcast is featuring heart-tugging, compelling stories from Dana-Farber patients, doctors, researchers and nurses. Interspersed are celebrity guests and athletes, including a huge dose of those with a past or present Red Sox connection. The mission, of course, is to inspire people to contribute to Dana-Farber’s lifesaving mission and, since 2002, more than $34 million has been raised. Every charity nowadays needs corporate sponsorship and the WEEI – NESN Radio-Telethon is no exception. It is being aided by the Arbella Insurance Foundation, which contributes $50 for every strikeout by a Red Sox pitcher (up to $100,000).In addition, whenever a Red Sox player smacks a “Wall Ball” off Fenway Park‘s fabled “Green Monster,” Walgreens will give the Radio-Telethon $100. Perhaps the most touching part of this deeply moving event is seeing wide smiles on faces of young cancer patients when they see their favorite Red Sox stars face-to-face. Case in point is this adorable child with her new best friend, Red Sox catcher David Ross.
CBS Sports Radio Sets Weekend NFL Programming Roster. Beginning next Saturday (8/30), CBS Sports Radio anchor Rich Ackerman will host “Eye on College Football” (2:00 noon – 8:00 pm, ET), which will include reports from all top college games, as well as interviews. Co-hosted on a rotating basis by CBSSports.com senior fantasy football writers Adam Aizer, Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg, “Eye on Fantasy Football” will air Saturdays (10:00 pm – 12:00 midnight, ET) and will be broadcast from CBSSports.com’s Fort Lauderdale studios. CBS Radio all-sports WFAN, New York afternoon drive personality Mike Francesca will host “Mike Francesa’s Football Sunday” (9:00 am – 11:00 am). While that show starts on the network September 7, it has been on WFAN the past 25 years. Another show kicking off September 7 – and following Francesca – is a one-hour simulcast of CBSSports.com’s Adam Aizer-hosted “Fantasy Football Today.” Rich Ackerman’s “Eye on Football” (12:00 noon – 8:00 pm) will offer a national perspective on all of that day’s NFL games; it also starts September 7. Beginning with Saturday, here is a complete look at the network’s weekend lineup, with all times listed ET. Marc “Moose” Malusis and Maggie Gray (6:00 am – 10:00 am); “Eye on Baseball” with Adam Gerstenhaber and CJ Nitkowski (10:00 am – 12:00 noon); “Eye on College Football” (12:00 noon – 8:00 pm); Jody McDonald (8:00 pm – 10:00 pm); and “Eye on Fantasy Football” (10:00 pm – 12:00 midnight). The Sunday schedule is: Bill Simonson (12:00 midnight – 2:00 am); Amy Lawrence (2:00 am – 6:00 am); John Kincade (6:00 am – 9:00 am); “Mike Francesa’s Football Sunday” (9:00 am – 11:00 am); “Fantasy Football Today” (11:00 am -12:00 noon); “Eye on Football” (12:00 noon – 8:00 pm); and Jody McDonald (8:00 pm – 10:00 pm).
Milking The Ice Bucket Challenge. Ever since going viral via social media, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise awareness and donations for ALS has become nothing short of a legitimate phenomenon. Logistics are simple: After accepting someone’s dare to do so, a person fills a bucket with ice and (presumably) ice water and douses it over their head. They then extend the challenge to others and post the video on their social media site. “Good Day” host Doug Stephan participated, but presented a different twist. Not only is he one of the industry’s most tireless workers, Stephan is also a Massachusetts dairy farmer. So, let’s just say water was not in the bucket. Click here to see what Stephan dumped on his head instead.
Tonight’s Taney Dragons Game To Air on Philly’s “Fanatic.” The Philadelphia Taney Dragons Little League World Series game versus the team from Las Vegas will be broadcast tonight (8/20) on Greater Media‘s all-sports outlet WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic.” What makes this so noteworthy is that the Taney Dragons are led by starting pitcher Mo’ne Davis, who owing to her pitching prowess and personality, has become a national media star. In fact, she is the first Little Leaguer ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. WPEN-FM midday personality Jon Marks will host a viewing party at Pagano‘s on Market Street. Tonight’s game begins at 7:30 pm.
Sun Broadcast Group Basks in Glow of Inc. Magazine Honor. Specifically, Sun Broadcast Group is proclaimed by Inc. Magazine as being one of America’s fastest growing companies. In rankings released today (8/20), the publication grades America’s quickest- rising private companies, based on percentage of revenue increase over three years. Sun Broadcast Group chief executive officer Jason Bailey proudly enthuses, “I have had the pleasure to announce many great things over these six years, but today I am ecstatic to share this news – what an accomplishment. For the many who never understood our strategy, and for those [who] still do not, receiving this award only affirms to the great people who work at Sun and the amazing agency partners who support us, that we truly are leading the way to a new era of network radio. It is caring about your partners, providing an honest, transparent sales process and always thinking big that will completely change our industry for the better. We are proof that it can be done and we are just getting started.” During the period measured that led to this year’s Inc. Magazine honor, SBG’s revenue jumped more 520%. In that time, the company added 15 fulltime positions between its New York City and Boca Raton (Florida) offices. Bailey and his SBG team will be recognized later this year in Phoenix at the “Inc. 5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony.” Sun’s programming roster includes, among others, “The Marilu Henner Show,” “The Little League World Series,” “Nashville Music Minute,” “Six-Second Reviews with Mr. Movieman,” Accuweather en Español, horse racing’s triple crown, and The Breeders Cup.
Cross-Border Partnership Involves Stardome and MVS Radio. The result will be an expansion of their respective syndicated branded programming and services in the United States and Mexico. Mexico-based MVS Radio will spearhead ad sales and affiliate relations for Stardome in Mexico; Stardome will do the same for MVS Radio-produced programming/services in the United States. Stardome managing director and chief executive officer Anthony Michael Hernandez states that, “Of all the Mexico-based companies I have worked with throughout the years, none has demonstrated the highest regard for professionalism, strong business ethics, and an undeviating work focus like my friends at MVS Radio. This is truly a partnership and a team effort in the making.” MVS Radio president and chief executive officer Alejandro Vargas remarks, “We are enthusiastic about this alliance with Stardome. We recognize them as ideal strategic partners to expand the coverage of our content in the USA and to represent its brands in Latin America. We are sure this is the beginning of new and prosperous businesses for both companies.” Stardome will service current MVS Radio owned-and-operated stations and affiliates across the southwest border of the United States, while distributing MVS Radio’s branded 24/7 formats, syndicated talk shows and morning shows in the USA Hispanic media marketplace. It adds the entire roster of over 160 MVS Radio affiliates, and owned-and-operated stations in Mexico and Central and South America as part of its duties for Pan Regional Network Radio. MVS Radio will act as Stardome’s in-country Mexico sales office and develop affiliations, network radio, and digital ad sales for Stardome’s soon-to-launch Noti-America radio news network.
Site Vows To Keep Pace with Napa. Mention “Napa” to anyone in California and “wine country” will undoubtedly be the instant word-association response. With a 2010 census population of 76,915, Napa is California’s 100th largest city. Maintaining that their site “will not be anything like your father’s radio station or your grandfather’s newspaper, executives at NAPAbroadcasting.com declare, “You won’t hear Katy Perry or Pink ten times a day and you won’t hear sports programs from out of town.” Instead, local conversations and local voices, “talking, in depth, about local issues” will be emphasized. They will be leaving the “daily police blotter to others” but promise “plenty of controversy” since, “no one here will be afraid to say what is on their minds.” According to a NAPAbroadcasting.com communication, “For years, television was about programs and radio was about formats. Those days are over. Today it’s all about programs and personalities – and it can’t be on someone else’s schedule. Appointment television or radio, is so over. NAPAbroadcasting.com is all about being on demand.” The site is partnering with Napa Valley College. Students, faculty, and staff there will contribute community-focused programming. “On the music side, we will be about music discovery and new kinds of music programs. We will not be another streaming music service, an online jukebox, or a place for mindless patter. Our music programs might be about anything under the musical sun, from jazz to oldies to rock. We will also be interactive, with lots of reviews, samplers and information about the business of contemporary music.” Admitting the site will always be a work in progress, a NAPAbroadcasting.com spokesperson writes, “If you stay with us, you will learn a lot about the wine, food, the hospitality business, and many of the larger-than-life, but often lesser known personalities, who live in this Valley. We think that what is good for the visitors is also good for those of us who live here.”
Ferguson Turmoil, ISIS/US Strife, Rick Perry Indictment, Robin Williams, and Gaza Crisis Among Top Talk Stories Yesterday (8/19). The stories listed in this headline were some of the most talked about on news/talk radio yesterday However the breaking story of ISIS beheading American journalist James Wright Foley is dominating conversation on American talk radio today (8/20) according to the ongoing research from TALKERS.