Talk Radio/Media Industry News
Mike Anthony to Program KGO and KSFO, San Francisco. On the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Cumulus Media San Francisco programmer Lee Hammer is now operations manager for talk stations KGO and KSFO comes the announcement that Mike Anthony is named program director for the stations. Anthony comes from his most recent gig as general manager of Empire Broadcasting’s KLIV, San Jose. Prior to that, he was corporate SVP of programming for Mapleton Communications. He is also owner of ResearchWorks, a 24-year-old Palo Alto-based media research company. Anthony says, “The legacy of these two remarkable stations is well documented and when the opportunity to join the Cumulus team at KGO/KSFO was presented to me, I embraced it wholeheartedly. Every day these stations make a difference in the lives of Bay Area residents. This is what a great radio station does, and I’m proud to be a part of continuing that legacy.”
Round Four of November PPM Data Released. The fourth of four rounds of November 2015 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. The survey period was October 8 – November 4. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Twelve Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Rich Stevens Named Permanent Late Morning Host at WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale. South Florida news/talk WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale announces talk host Rich Stevens – who had been splitting his time between serving as news anchor and his own interactive show – is leaving his news duties to focus on his daily 9:00 am to 11:00 am program. Stevens tells TALKERS that the Mayor of the City of Ft. Lauderdale called in as the first guest on the Rich Stevens program and he officially proclaimed it “Rich Stevens Show Day” in the city of Ft. Lauderdale.
‘The Beast 980’ in Los Angeles Debuts New Live Midday Show. Los Angeles sports talker KFWB “The Beast 980” launches a new, live and local midday show today (12/1) starring sports media pros Chris Myers and Wes Clements. The “Myers & Wes” show airs from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. In a press release, KFWB notes that Myers is a 30-year sports broadcasting vet who has covered numerous major sports events and worked at such sports media outlets as Fox Sports Net, FoxSportsOne, and ESPN. He also serves as an NFL play-by-play announcer for Fox. Clements is a Southern California native who has worked as a baseball analyst for ESPN. Program director Tom Lee comments, “Adding Chris and Wes to our daily lineup further underscores our goal to be the only radio station super serving LA sports fans. Throughout the day sports fans now get an unprecedented dose of local coverage from the top sports talent here in LA.”
Liana Huth Named to New Corporate Post at Entercom. The new title for Liana Huth is vice president of programming innovation for Entercom and Huth will be based in New York City, reporting to Entercom president of programming Pat Paxton. The company says Huth comes with “vast experience in content development, creative partnerships, event marketing and more.” She’s held senior roles in entertainment and media for Columbia Records, The Madison Square Garden Company, and AEG Live, among others. Huth will be responsible for creating and developing content opportunities and strategic partnerships that will drive ratings and revenue across all of Entercom’s platforms. Paxton states, “Liana is a creative trailblazer with a distinguished track record of content creation, innovative thinking and partnership building. I could not be more excited to add this pivotal new role to the company and to bring in Liana to kick it off. No one is more ready for this challenge.”
Jane Matenaer Named WTMJ, Milwaukee AM Drive Co-Anchor. A new co-anchor for WTMJ, Milwaukee’s “Wisconsin’s Morning News with Gene Mueller” is named. Milwaukee radio pro Jane Matenaer – who’d joined the E.W. Scripps station in May and had been heard filling in on the show – joins the morning show officially. Matenaer replaces Bonnie Petrie, who’d been hired for the post in July but developed a vocal problem called spasmodic dysphonia that forced her to leave the position. Petrie replaced Jodi Becker. Matenaer worked in the market on the morning show at Entercom’s hot AC WMYX add Milwaukee Radio Alliance’s hot AC WLDB. WTMJ VP/GM Tom Langmyer comments, “WTMJ is Milwaukee and we’re excited to have two of the best-known hometown voices together on Wisconsin’s Radio Station. Gene and Jane are both distinguished broadcasters who will share their knowledge of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, along with the great chemistry they’ve already developed together.”
Knoepke to Replace Anselmo at CBS RADIO Minneapolis. The Minneapolis cluster of CBS RADIO has a new SVP and market manager as Shannon Knoepke is hired to take over for the retiring Mick Anselmo. Knoepke will be responsible for country KMNB, adult hits KZJK, and news/talk WCCO-AM and is also serving as director of sales. CBS RADIO COO Scott Herman says, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Shannon back to the CBS RADIO family. With years of sales and leadership experience under her belt, she has a terrific reputation in the Twin Cities area. Her commitment to the region and wealth of knowledge in the events and digital marketplace makes her uniquely qualified for the role. We are excited she will be bringing this expertise to our award-winning cluster.” Knoepke previously worked for CBS RADIO Minneapolis as an account executive with WCCO-AM from 2000-2001.
WSSP, Milwaukee to Air Expanded Bucks Content. Milwaukee sports talk outlet WSSP made a strong bid for Milwaukee Bucks play-by-play rights but the team chose to stick with E.W. Scripps-owned news/talk WTMJ. But the Entercom sports simulcast of WSSP-AM and translator W289CB, branded as “105.7 FM The Fan,” partners with the NBA team for expanded game day and weekly coverage, as well as promotion and marketing opportunities for the club. From a programming standpoint, the long-standing “Pick ‘n Save Milwaukee Bucks Post Game Show,” hosted by Steve “Sparky” Fifer, will be enhanced with regular on-air appearances by Bucks players, coaches and TV announcers Jim Paschke, Jon McGlocklin, Marques Johnson and Gus Johnson.
Nielsen Amends Complaint Against Bubba the Love Sponge. With new information added, Nielsen Audio amends its suit against morning radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge in U.S. District Court in Florida. The amendment to the original suit that seeks $1 million dollars in damages from Todd Clem, a.k.a. Bubba the Love Sponge, related to the ratings tampering case in the Tampa market, provides more information about influencing PPM panelists and alleges there was more than just one panelist Bubba was attempting to influence. Bubba’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Nielsen’s $1 million figure is part of an attempt to get the suit into the federal jurisdiction and that the company is unable to prove the damages it alleges. Read the full story from the Tampa Bay Business Journal here.
Sports Talker Sid Rosenberg Getting Traction with Added Political Content at WMEN, Ft. Lauderdale. South Florida sports talk personality – and former longtime “Imus in the Morning” cast member – Sid Rosenberg is putting a dose of political content into his morning drive show at sports talk WMEN, Ft. Lauderdale, and TALKERS sources report the addition is working for him. Rosenberg tells TALKERS, “There is no bigger ‘water cooler’ issue than election 2016. I bring on guests from both sides of the aisle – Lanny Davis, Chris Matthews and Robert Gibbs from the left and people like Rich Lowry, Molly Ball, and Jen Rubin from the right. I’m the only show who has Chuck Todd on every Friday and we’ve already had six presidential candidates on as well.” Rosenberg says he’s made this move against advice to avoid polarizing issues but says, “These are serious times. This election is huge. Where [Mets slugger] Daniel Murphy ends up is not keeping America awake at night!” Rosenberg has been able to fill in at WABC, New York over the summer and will do another fill-in shot later this month. He says the word from New York circles is that his show is getting positive feedback.
Gifts, Gadgets, Gizmos and Hi-Tech Holiday Goodies. Noted media consultant Holland Cooke joins host Michael Harrison as this week’s guest on the PodcastOne international hit for media freaks, “Up Close and Far Out,” posted today (12/1). The two talk about the latest technological marvels that are the hot stocking stuffers this holiday season… and then some. They delve into the world of drones, driverless cars, and gadgets within the expanding “Internet of Things” that keep tabs on their owners — such as toothbrushes that inform your dentist about the health of your teeth, baby clothes that inform parents about the well-being of their sleeping child and refrigerators that order replacements when you are running out of milk. Harrison and Cooke cover a wide spectrum of items from low-tech 20th century devices such as the Slinky and yo-yos to the modern-day Apple Watch and the coming practice of embedding chips into the human body. They discuss the implications of this new unfolding era on privacy and other significant aspects of sociology. To hear the entire conversation please click here or click on the player boxes in the right-hand column of every page on Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
‘Tis the Season. In advance of this Friday and Saturday’s 21st Annual WIBC Radiothon, Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan (left) and president and COO Patrick Walsh (right) ring the Salvation Army bell outside Emmis headquarters in Indianapolis. This weekend’s radiothon benefits the Salvation Army Bed and Bread Club of Central Indiana. Last year, WIBC helped raise more than $255,000 for the Salvation Army of Central Indiana.
Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting, Gun Control, Paris Climate Conference, Turkey-Russia Tensions, Fight Against IS, 2016 Presidential Race, U. of Chicago Terror Threat, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/30). The aftermath of the deadly shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and the related topic of gun control policy; the Paris Climate Conference and discussion about the validity of man-made global warming theory; the tensions between Turkey, its NATO allies and Russia in the wake of the downing of a Russian fighter over Turkish airspace; the civil conflict in Syria and the battle against Islamic State; the activities of the candidates for president in 2016; Monday’s terror threat at the University of Chicago; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Geraldo Exit from WABC, New York Appears Official. There’s been no announcement from Cumulus Media and we don’t really expect one. All of the information on this story comes from Geraldo Rivera himself. As TALKERS reported last Thursday, Rivera first said on his Facebook page that he was informed by new Cumulus CEO Mary Berner and Cumulus NYC market manager Chad Lopez that the company will not be honoring “the handshake deal I made with ousted company chief John Dickey, an agreement to extend my current contract for a year. The decision to renege on our deal on the eve of Thanksgiving is especially upsetting coming in the wake of my emotionally charged and highly rated coverage of the Paris massacre and frantic efforts by authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. Last year, The Village Voice named me the ‘2014 Best AM Radio Host in NYC’, writing in part, ‘Geraldo Rivera actually has something to say. The guy understands the issues of the day and has enough confidence in his opinions to call bullshit on blowhards,’ which I’m doing here.” Since then, Geraldo added to his post, writing that he intends to make this difficult for the company. “That slight will not go unanswered. Trust me on this; it is not about the money. I have enough and give away to various charities more than most. But because of their unforgivable disrespect I will fight them and they will end up costing their battered company far more in damages than they expect to save in my salary.” Geraldo goes on to write about the value of his show to the New York audience. “The pity is this misguided management has deprived my loyal New York audience a program that they have followed and engaged with during a turbulent time of crucial interest…” Whether Geraldo can prevail in court remains to be seen, but of course it’s within Cumulus’ right to fire or hire talent as the company sees fit.
David Boze Exits Bonneville’s KTTH, Seattle. Saying that he’s leaving the station to pursue “ventures that can only be done in presidential years,” morning drive personality David Boze leaves Bonneville International’s KTTH, Seattle after 13 years with the station. He says, “I leave the station I helped found in the hands of a great company and good people. I am incredibly grateful for the loyalty and kindness of my listeners. It is a wonderful thing to meet them and realize we are already friends thanks to the power of radio. I’m also exceptionally grateful for my show sponsors, who have invested in my show year after year. Bonneville has been a great company to work for, and I will miss the people who have become such a meaningful, daily part of my life.” The company has not named a permanent replacement for Boze.
Lee Hammer Adds KGO and KSFO OM Duties. Already serving as operations manager and PD for sports talk outlets KNBR and KTCT, Lee Hammer is promoted from interim ops manager for sister talk stations KGO and KSFO to permanent OM for the pair. Cumulus San Francisco VP and market manager Justin Wittmayer says, “Lee has been instrumental in leading KGO and KSFO over the past year while continuing to deliver record breaking ratings for KNBR. We are confident that with his considerable expertise in the talk format, he will take our news/talk stations to new heights.”
Odds & Sods. Former longtime KVI, Seattle talk personality Kirby Wilbur is soon to be back with the iconic conservative talker. It’s not known at this point what daypart Wilbur will be hosting. He was part of the original lineup of KVI as a conservative news/talk station. It’s for this period in history that it’s considered by many to be the first talk station to be purposely programmed as an all-conservative talk outlet…..Nationally syndicated talk host Kevin Jackson announces he is leaving USA Radio Networks and will self-syndicate his daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm talk show.
Round Three of November PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of November 2015 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Columbus. The survey period was October 8 – November 4. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Twelve Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Some Talk Radio Pros Take Issue with Colorado Governor’s Placing Blame for Shooting on Media and Campaign Rhetoric. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, in addressing the deadly shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs over the weekend, hinted that talk show hosts and bloggers are in some way to blame for the deaths of the three victims and the nine people wounded. The governor said, in part, “Certainly it’s a form of terrorism, and maybe in some way it’s a function of the inflammatory rhetoric we see on so many issues now, there are bloggers and talk shows where they really focus on trying to get people to that point of boiling over. Just intense anger. Maybe it’s time to look at how do we tone down that rhetoric. No one is going to try to reduce free speech in this country but that rhetoric — if people are in some way emotionally unstable or psychologically unbalanced – that intensity of rhetoric sometimes seems to pull a trigger in their brain that they lose contact with what reality is.” Salem Radio Network VP of news & talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS magazine, “Public officials who fail in their primary responsibility to protect the lives and property of the men and women who elect them should not use the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions on talk radio to scapegoat their own inadequacies.”
Legendary News and Talk Personality Brent Seltzer Recovering from Brain Tumor Surgery. Veteran radio personality Brent Seltzer, known most recently for his work on the nationally syndicated (GCN) “Brent & Meg Show” that he co-hosted with his wife Meg McDonald, is recovering from major surgery that took place in September at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank to remove a cancerous, golf ball-sized Glioblastoma Tumor Grade 4 from the front-left section of his brain. This is the part of the brain that controls memory and language. Seltzer’s colorful career dates back to the golden days of FM rock radio when he was a pioneer in the development of “rock ‘n’ roll radio style news” at such outlets as KGB, San Diego and KMET, Los Angeles among others. He has also achieved considerable critical praise for his modern-era, short-form and podcast series, “Still at Large.” Attendees at TALKERS conferences over the past four years will remember Brent & Meg as the events’ charismatic official greeters. This past June, they served as emcees of Talkers 2015. Seltzer (pictured here mugging for the camera after his surgery) tells TALKERS, “I have apparently been experiencing symptoms since September 2014 but it wasn’t until 11:15 am PT on Thursday, September 24, 2015 that my symptoms resulted in a seizure while sitting at my computer. I crashed like a small bird out of a big tree. If our ‘Brent & Meg’ radio show had not been on hiatus by that point, I would have had my seizure on the air. In the months prior to the seizure, I was apparently doing some things without a clear memory. My typing began to deteriorate and my quick recall for names, places and events often failed me. I ignored symptoms that were bothersome but seemed innocuous and unrelated at the time. But in truth, they were actually symptoms of a much bigger problem.” Seltzer, who is now recovering at home while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, adds, “I share these things to let everyone know that I have begun what we hope will be a stunning return. My recovery is an uphill battle which I’m very eager to face as I prepare for alerting everyone as to what has happened and what will come next and as much pain and discomfort I am in… I’m Popeye and nothing is gonna get me down!” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “I have known Brent all the way back to my radio days in San Diego in the early 1970s. He is one of the nicest, smartest and most talented guys I’ve ever met in this business. He and Meg are beloved members of our TALKERS family and we pray for his speedy and full recovery.” Brent Seltzer can be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colorado Springs Shooting Dominates Weekend Talk Stories. The deadly shooting in Colorado Springs and the related debate over gun control were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend on stations that air live and local shows and/or live national talk shows. Other topics included the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday, and college and pro football, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Round Two of November PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of November 2015 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The survey period was October 8 – November 4. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Twelve Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Michael Harrison Gets ‘Up Close and Far Out’ with Dr. Deepak Chopra. In the new installment of Podcast One’s weekly series for “media freaks” posted today (11/24) TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviews noted “integrated medicine” guru Deepak Chopra. The discussion covers such “far out” topics as the mind-body connection, meditation, the nature of consciousness, alternative healing, quantum physics, and communications theory. The discussion coincides with the current release of two books by Chopra – the revised edition (20,000 additional words) of his 26-year-old groundbreaking Quantum Healing (Bantam, 2015) and the brand new Super Genes (Bantam, 2015). Harrison says, “Rising to the weekly challenge of doing this podcast is one of the most exciting, challenging and gratifying experiences I’ve ever had in my 48 years in broadcasting. To be able to say that at this point in my career… how cool is that? Last week, I spoke with Jesse Ventura, a few weeks ago it was Art Bell, this week – Deepak Chopra! We’ve had Sean Hannity, Mike Francesa, Harvey Nagler, Jimmie JJ Walker, Buzz Aldrin, even the guy running the Pluto fly-by, Dr. Alan Stern, on this show and more than 40 colorful contemporary figures from the arts, science, journalism and pop culture in less than a year. The diversity of this program’s guests and subjects lives up to its title… yet, it all ties into a no-holds barred examination of modern media theory and how the digital era is rewiring the human nervous system. Getting a handle on this one all-encompassing concept is fundamental to 21st century media practitioners in their quest to understand this brave new world in which we are communicating on a historically unprecedented level.” To listen to the conversation between Harrison and Chopra in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column of every page on Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
Jim Rome at Albuquerque’s ‘610 The Sports Animal.’ The photo here shows mentor Jim Rome (right) meeting mentee Mike Trujillo (left) at Cumulus Media’s sports talk KNML, Albuquerque “610 The Sports Animal.” Rome participated in a standing-room-only meet-and-greet at the CBS Sports Radio affiliate. Trujillo was a regular caller to Rome’s syndicated program. He also called KNML and eventually won a contest to host a sports show and is now the station’s PM drive personality, hosting “The Sports Bar.” Trujillo is definitely a Rome acolyte; in addition to the Jim Rome t-shirt he’s wearing here, he also sports a tattoo of Rome’s image on his calf.
Russian Fighter Shot Down, Battle Against IS, Syrian Refugee Debate, Obama in Paris/Climate Change Conference, Obama Administration Gun Control Plans, 2015 Presidential Race, Chicago Police Protests, and the Golden State Warriors’ Record-Breaking Start Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/24). The tensions created by the downing of a Russian military fighter by Turkish forces on the Turkey-Syria border; the battle against Islamic State and debate over strategies to prevent its terror attacks; the political controversy over allowing Syrian refugees to emigrate to the United States; President Obama’s visit with Francois Hollande in Paris and next week’s climate change conference; speculation about the Obama Administration’s plans to enact gun control legislation during its final year; the protests in Chicago after a white police officer is charged with the murder of a black teen; and the record-breaking season start for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WEEI, Boston Hopes to Re-Do Expensive Red Sox Deal. From a story in the Boston Herald by Gayle Fee comes news that Entercom Boston market manager Phil Zachary is hopeful sports talker WEEI-FM and the MLB’s Boston Red Sox can begin operating with a re-negotiated deal that takes some of the financial burden off the station. Fee reports that the station pays the Red Sox approximately $17 million per season and that steep figure has been tough on the station’s bottom line. The deal is almost 10 years old, having been inked in 2006 before the Great Recession began, before the Red Sox’ play on the field took a nosedive, and prior to WBZ-FM’s arrival on the scene as a sports talk competitor. The speculation is the station notified the team it would not pick up its option for the 2017 and 2018 seasons because of the cost and re-negotiations began. Zachary tells the paper they hope to have a new deal before Christmas. Read the whole piece here.
Round One of November PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of November 2015 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The survey period was October 8 – November 4. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Twelve Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Odds & Sods. Radio legend Howard Stern tells the New York Daily News he hopes to remain on the radio but that’s about all he’s saying as the end of his second contract with SiriusXM comes to an end after December. Stern was quizzed on the status of his contract negotiations with SiriusXM by the Daily News at the 2015 Get Your Escape On event in NYC and said nothing can be known until the contract is signed. “I can just say I’m interested in continuing on the radio. Where I end up, I don’t know yet.” The 61-year-old broadcaster reportedly makes about $80 million a year from his satellite radio gig…..Matthew Sambolin is back in the fold at Salem Media Group’s New York duo to serve as operations manager, promotions director and social media manager for news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” and Christian talk WMCA “AM 570 The Mission.” Sambolin takes over for Mark DeBoer who stays with the stations as traffic manager…..Westwood One-syndicated talk host Michael Savage, reacting to an RT story in which Gambino crime family figure Giovanni Gambino, Jr. said the mafia would do its part to protect New Yorkers from IS terror attacks, hosted Gambino on his program on Monday (11/23). The pair also discussed Gambino’s work trying to get a screenplay he’s written turned into a movie in Hollywood…..“Free Talk Live,” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge, is airing live this Thanksgiving. Freeman says they continue their tradition of live content. “Your listeners deserve live content no matter what day it is.”…..George Noory, host of Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” says he’ll also be hosting live shows on the holidays this year. “Many people don’t have friends and family to spend the holidays with, so radio is a very special connection for them. Years ago, I made the decision to host live programming during this time of year, and I’ve keep that promise all my career so no one has to be alone.”
Paris Aftermath/ISIS Terror Campaign, Syrian Refugees/U.S. Immigration Policy, 2016 Presidential Race, Thanksgiving Holiday/Black Friday, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/23). The aftermath of the Paris terror attacks and efforts to head off further attacks from ISIS; the policies surrounding relocation of Syrian refugees and the larger question of changes in U.S. immigration policy; the activities of the candidates for president in 2016; the coming Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday and the beginning of the holiday shopping season; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Paris Attacks Aftermath and Brussels Tensions Top Weekend News/Talk Stories. The aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris, the question of how to deal with Syrian refugees and specific threats to Brussels, Belgium were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend. The Paris aftermath and the Syrian refugee question ended last week as the top stories, landing atop the weekly Talkers TenTM chart, and they continued to be top points of discussion for news/talk outlets that featured live and local programs or carried live national shows over the weekend.
Cumulus Expands Bill Hess’ Role in DC to Operations Manager. Programming pro Bill Hess – currently serving as program director for news/talk WMAL-AM/FM, Washington and Cumulus Media corporate PD/talk – is adding operations manager duties for the Washington. DC cluster. Hess’ 38-year radio career has provided him with experience across numerous radio formats. In addition to his news/talk and sports radio programming experience, he’s also programmed ACs WSNE, Providence; WHYN-FM, Springfield, MA; and WASH, Washington and classic rock WBIG, Washington. Cumulus SVP, content and programming Mike McVay says, “Bill is an exceptional programmer. The growth that WMAL has experienced under his direction is nothing short of astounding. He has excelled as a corporate PD and will continue in that role. Bill is deserving of this recognition.” Hess says of his new duties, “On the heels of our team’s success at WMAL, I’m thrilled to be working with Louie Diaz on the rebirth of Washington’s legendary ‘Mix 107.3.’ Thanks to Gary Pizzati, Mike McVay, Jake McCann and Beth Cohen for this opportunity.”
Bill Spadea Replaces Jim Gearhart on New Jersey 101.5 AM Drive Show. Back in September, WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” morning drive personality Jim Gearhart suffered a severe concussion at his home while on vacation. Recovery from the injury has been difficult, putting Gearhart on an extended leave of absence. Now, Townsquare Media announces that Gearhart will not be able to return to his duties with the station and that Bill Spadea is assuming the role of host of the morning show. Gearhart had been with the station for the past 25 years and is a member of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Spadea has been Gearhart’s chief fill-in since 2014 and voices the station’s daily feature “Bill Spadea’s New Jersey.” Spadea says, “I’ve always looked up to Jim Gearhart as a legend in New Jersey media. His shoes are too large for me to ever fill completely, but I am honored and humbled and will try my best to live up to his legacy of unequaled radio and service to the people of New Jersey.”
Detroit Lions Deny Trying to Silence WXYT-FM’s Mike Valenti. Usually when a radio station ceases to be a pro sports team’s flagship, it’s because of money – either the rights got too expensive or the station was outbid. But CBS RADIO Detroit market manager Debbie Kenyon says in a statement that Lions management wanted to pressure the station into firing talk host Mike Valenti for his staunch criticism of the team’s performance. Kenyon issued the following statement, “CBS RADIO and the Detroit Lions are parting ways. ‘97.1 The Ticket’ has served as the flagship station for the Lions for more than a decade. CBS RADIO says it has been negotiating with the Lions a long time. It is sad to say goodbye, but in the end it came down to the integrity of CBS — the refusal to be censored in talking about the team and making honest assessments on the air about this team.” Crain’s Detroit Business reports the team says that isn’t true. It quotes Elizabeth Parkinson, Lions’ SVP of marketing and partnerships, saying the mandate to fire Valenti in order to get a renewal with the club is “categorically a lie” and that Cumulus simply offered a better deal. But in the Crain’s piece, Valenti’s manager, Mort Meisner, said the team made Valenti’s firing part of the conditions for renewing with the team and that team officials were regularly calling Kenyon to complain about Valenti’s criticism of the team’s performance and its management. Read it here.
Odds & Sods. Conservative talk pro Steve Malzberg – seen nightly on Newsmax TV – is sitting in for Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett on his morning drive show, “Bill Bennett’s Morning In America” this Friday (11/27)…..The NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers will remain with iHeartMedia in the Steel City as the team and the company come to terms to keep games airing on rock WDVE and sports talk WBGG-AM/W292DH-FM. The renewed deal extends through the 2018 season and contains elements of promotional support for the Steelers via iHeartMedia’s six Pittsburgh stations.
Legendary WCCO, Minneapolis Personality Charlie Boone Dies at 88. As one half of the morning radio team “Boone and Erickson,” Charlie Boone was a fixture on Twin Cities radio for some 40 years, literally owning the daypart during the halcyon days of AM radio from the 1960s through the 1990s. He died on Sunday (11/22) at the age of 88. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports he and Roger Erickson worked together for 37 years before Erickson’s retirement in 1998. Boone continued to host a solo Saturday morning show from that point until 2010. Boone arrived at WCCO from his previous gig in Fargo in 1959. He and fellow air staffer Erickson hit it off personally and management put them together on the radio in 1961.
Bill Payne Dies at 76. Oklahoma broadcaster Bill Payne passed away in Tulsa on Friday 11/20 at the age of 76. Payne was the founder of the Oklahoma Academy of Radio. Payne was a pioneer in the field of FM broadcasting putting KWHP-FM, Edmond, Oklahoma on the air in 1962. His Payne Radio Group operates 13 stations across eastern Oklahoma. The company continues to be led by Payne’s son Will Payne.