Talk Radio/Media Industry News
Shocker: Dan Snyder’s WTEM, Washington Parts Ways with Andy Pollin. Respected Washington, DC sports talk radio personality Andy Pollin was notified by management that his contract with WTEM, Washington “ESPN 980” – coming to an end next month – would not be renewed and that his Thursday afternoon edition of “The Sports Reporters” with co-host Steve Czaban was his last. Pollin had been on the air talking sports in DC for the past 25 years. Czaban will go forward as solo host of the afternoon drive show. The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg covers the story and Pollin tells him, “I’m not in any way bitter about this. I’m disappointed that it wouldn’t continue. I thought Czabe and I were humming along there in our second run, but it didn’t happen. That’s life.” Czaban tweeted that he is “gutted” by management’s decision. He says, “Andy started this station 25 years ago, and he has done more and seen more than you can imagine in this business. He hired me off a driving range in 1994, and I owe my entire career in sports radio to him from the opportunities that followed.” Read Steinberg’s Post column here.
Mark Mason Returns to KEX, Portland for New Midday Talk Show. Portland radio personality Mark Mason is returning after a three-year hiatus to iHeartMedia’s “News Radio 1190” KEX to host a new midday talk show, beginning Monday (1/23). Mason co-hosted the “Mark & Dave” show with Dave Anderson on the station for 18 years. Anderson lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last year. Mason says, “After I lost my good friend and co-host Dave Anderson, my perspective on life changed and I wanted to return to the Portland community that embraced me. I’m excited to return to the KEX family and bring my 100% hate-free brand of talk radio back to Portland.” KEX says the new 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program will offer Mason’s “uplifting perspective on pop culture, national news, politics and currents events, as well as reports on local news, traffic and weather.” KEX program director Cort Webber comments, “We are thrilled to have Mark back home at KEX where he belongs. The place just hasn’t been the same without him. We’re excited to kick off a new year and a new administration with a new show from an old friend.” Mason continues to serve as the public address announcer for the Portland Trailblazers, a role he has held for the past 21 years.
Emmis Promotes Conner to Lead Network Indiana. Longtime Emmis Terre Haute general manager James Conner is taking over the general manager role for the company’s Network Indiana, effective January 30. Network Indiana is a statewide service providing news, sports and business programming to affiliated radio stations. Emmis Indianapolis senior vice president and general manager Chuck Williams states, “James will lead Network Indiana with a mission to continue our history of building meaningful value with our Network Indiana team and for our affiliates. Network Indiana is a strong brand and an important ingredient in the success of our Emmis Indianapolis Radio Division. James will be focused on helping our team grow Network Indiana relationships, operations and of course, growing value for this historic Emmis Brand.” The company says Conner has successfully managed the radio stations in Terre Haute the last 22 years, noting that the cluster has consistently accounted for more than 40% of the market revenue.
Trump Inauguration Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 16-20, 2017. The Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States and the protests against Donald Trump tied for the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the last days of the Barack Obama presidency. Coming in at #3 was the several cabinet confirmation hearings, followed by the Chelsea Manning commutation at #4. 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Beasley Names Randy Bliss to Programming Role and Promotes Tap Money in Fayetteville. At the Fayetteville, North Carolina cluster of Beasley Media Group, a new programmer comes aboard and another adds new PD duties. First, Randy Bliss joins the company as operations manager of the Fayetteville cluster, he takes on the program director role at adult contemporary WAZZ-AM/W232CI “Sunny 94.3,” and he’ll host the afternoon drive show on country WKML. Market manager Erika Beasley comments, “Randy brings his hands-on experience and success in a number of formats, which we welcome in Fayetteville. From his extensive research skills to his ability to incorporate both sales and programming to ensure success, Randy has proven he is a tried-and-true radio pro!” At the same time, hip hop WZFX “FOXY 99” program director Tap Money adds programming duties for sister rhythmic oldies WUKS “Old School 107.7 JAMZ” to his responsibilities. Beasley EVP of programming Justin Chase states, “Beasley is an organization that enjoys promoting good people from within and it is especially exciting when it’s a rock star like Tap Money! Tap is a radio hero who has lifted WZFX to an entirely new level in ratings and revenue. We have no doubt he will improve our urban footprint in Fayetteville as he begins working with WUKS.”
Cassiday Proctor Joins 106.5 The Arch’s ‘Spencer’s Neighborhood’ Morning Show. In St. Louis, radio personality Cassiday Proctor becomes a cast member on the “Spencer’s Neighborhood” show at Hubbard Radio’s adult hits WARH “106.5 The Arch,” effective January 30. Proctor was most recently with Entercom in Atlanta appearing on the WSTR “Star 94” morning program. During her career she’s served with CBS RADIO in Charlotte where she also did television, hosting “The Edge” on WCCB-TV. WARH program director Scott Roddy says, “Hubbard is known to be the platinum standard for live, local talent. Cassiday is not only pure class, but hilariously fun and genuine – the perfect complement to Spencer’s and Brando’s humor.”
RTDNA and Journalism Coalition Seek Pow-Wow with Trump and Pence on Transparency. In an effort to discuss journalistic access to the Trump Administration and the U.S. Government, the RTDNA and 60 other journalism organizations are requesting a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The RTDNA is announcing the coalition sent a letter on Wednesday (1/18) to Trump and Pence, asking for a meeting or conference call. Among the issues the coalition wished to discuss are: the ability of reporters to directly interact with government employees who are subject matter experts, rather than interacting with Public Information Officers (or having all conversations monitored by Public Information Officers); access to the activities of the president; and ensuring that the Federal Freedom of Information Act remains as strong as possible. RTDNA executive director Mike Cavender states, “This is an unprecedented time for the American media and, as a consequence, for the American public. It is imperative that the incoming administration understand the importance of transparency in government and the cooperative spirit needed in working with the journalists who cover it. Only then will Americans be fully and fairly informed about the important decisions being made on their behalf.” Interestingly, this issue isn’t just about the incoming Trump Administration. Several similar letters were sent to the Obama Administration, beginning in 2013, regarding concerns about White House restrictions on photographers, transparency and public information officer restrictions. Three such letters were sent in 2013 and 2014. The Obama Administration’s reply in August of 2014 was deemed unsatisfactory by the journalism organizations. RTDNA provides a white paper and other articles on the matter for further background. Wednesday’s letter also issues the following requests: “We urge you to publicly affirm your commitment to transparency, to issue an executive order prohibiting the restrictive public information policies that have been the status quo, and to engage in a public discussion with us about the Trump Administration’s commitment to the free flow of information from the White House and all federal government, to the American people.”
Mayfield Promoted at Ramsey Media. Talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey announces some news from his organization. Eight-year staffer Brian Mayfield – most recently vice president of Ramsey Media – is promoted to senior vice president for the company. Ramsey Media states that Mayfield will “continue to lead the media department while taking on additional company-wide responsibilities as part of the Ramsey Solutions Senior Leadership Team. He will continue to report to Suzanne Simms, EVP of the business to consumer division. Ramsey Media includes all aspects of the Dave Ramsey show – currently heard on more than 575 radio stations and a variety of digital outlets – and other broadcast initiatives of Ramsey Solutions.
Trump Inauguration, Last Days of Obama Presidency, Cabinet Nominees Confirmation Hearings, Obama’s Chelsea Manning Commutation, Report of Earth’s Hottest Year, GOP ObamaCare Plans, NFL-Lady Gaga Flap/NFL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). Friday’s inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, the Democrats planning to skip the event, and the planned protests; President Obama’s final press conference; the confirmation hearings of Trump cabinet nominees Betsy DeVos and Tom Price; controversy over Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks; the report that the planet’s mean temperature was the highest it’s been for the third year in a row; the status of the Affordable Care Act as the GOP plans to revamp the health care law; and the flap over whether the NFL is muzzling Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime performance, tied with the NFL playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Odds & Sods. On this weekend’s edition of “Legends of Success with John Resnick,” one of the top entertainment lawyers in America appears on the program. John Branca – who’s represented some of the most successful musical acts in history, including: Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Carlos Santana, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, John Fogerty, and The Doors – talks about his rocky road to success and the many crazy situations he encountered. He relates that his success has been, in part, because he has been an authority figure to his clients, choosing not to socialize or party with them. The interview airs this weekend (1/22-23) and will be posted online on Monday…..Tomorrow’s presidential inauguration will be covered for its radio affiliates by FOX News Radio. Jared Halpern and Laura Ingle will co-anchor the main event, with correspondents reporting live from multiple locations in Washington DC…..Salem Radio Network News is also covering the inauguration tomorrow, beginning with a stand-alone, two-hour special titled, “SRN Inauguration Day 2017.” The special will be anchored live from the steps of the U.S. Capitol by SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston and SRN U.S. Senate correspondent Linda Kenyon. SRN News U.S. House correspondent Wally Hindes and SRN News Washington bureau chief Ken Lormand will also participate from inside the Capitol building…..AdLarge Media has entered into an exclusive ad sales agreement to represent the podcast “Little Known Facts with Ilana Levine,” a weekly celebrity interview podcast hosted by the stage and screen actress…..KHTE-FM, Little Rock “96.5 FM The Answer” afternoon drive host Dave Elswick (left) is pictured here interviewing Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison (right) during Elswick’s recent three-day broadcast from the state Capitol.
Radio Row at SHOT Show in Las Vegas. This week in Las Vegas, hunters and shooting enthusiasts are converging on the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades Show, a.k.a. the SHOT Show, presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The radio row at the event is hosting such talk radio personalities as Mike Gallagher, Lars Larson, Ben Ferguson and others. Pictured above is Tim Kennedy (right), host of the History Channel hit “Hunting Hitler” speaking with “The Dana Show” host Dana Loesch.
‘Q100’ Atlanta Moves Adam Bomb to Afternoons. On-air pro Adam Bomb has been holding down the evening show at Cumulus Media’s CHR WWWQ, Atlanta “Q100” in addition to his Westwood One syndicated, eponymous program. Now, he moves to the live afternoon drive slot on “Q100,” and that leaves an opening for a hot talent to take over the evening daypart. Reach out to program director Louie Diaz if you’re interested. Meanwhile, Diaz says, “Adam’s local involvement with Atlanta schools and his popularity with ‘Q100’ listeners at night made him the perfect choice to drive Atlanta home every afternoon… We have a lot of great stuff in mind for afternoons on ‘Q100,’ so get ready to be entertained!” He’ll continue to host the syndicated program.
Kramer to Host Mornings on ‘BIG 94.9’ Little Rock. Little Rock native Doug Kramer comes home to join iHeartMedia’s classic hits KHKN “BIG 94.9” to host the morning show. The station says ‘The BIG Fun Morning Show With Kramer’ launches on Monday, January 23. Kramer says, “It is a dream come true to move home to Little Rock to be a morning personality on ‘BIG 94.9’ and raise my family. I can’t wait to start working with the iHeartMedia Little Rock team and get involved in my home town’s community efforts.” Previously, Kramer worked down the road at U.S. Stations-owned CHR KLAZ, Hot Springs.
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. At Cox Media Group’s classic hits WSRV, Atlanta “97.1 The River,” Debra Green rises from weekend talent to host of the 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show. WSRV director of branding and programming Chris Eagan says, “Deb is a great addition to our weekday lineup. Her fresh sound and great content make her the perfect fit for ‘The River’ at night. I’m proud of how hard she worked to get here!”…..In Anchorage, Alaska, Alexx Dupri moves from the afternoon show to AM drive alongside Mike LaJoie to co-host the “Alexx & Mike AM Takeover” at Ohana Media Group’s rhythmic CHR KFAT.
Legendary Sales Consultant Irwin Pollack Passes. After a battle with cancer, renowned radio sales consultant Irwin Pollack died yesterday (1/18). His widow posted the following message on Pollack’s Facebook page. “Irwin, my amazing husband, incredible father and so much more to so many more has moved on to whatever challenge awaits him after this life. Thank you all for your kind words and love. A true gift from God to our family even if just for a short time. Thank you for sharing your stories, memories and feelings.” Salem Radio Network VP of News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup recalls, “Over the years, I engaged Irwin to bolster our news/talk salespeople at KRLD, Dallas and at WLS, Chicago (his trademark self-confidence was his guarantee that if he didn’t enthusiastically brainstorm at least 24 revenue-generating ideas for our AEs we didn’t have to pay him for his training…we always paid. LOL!) and his 100% confidence in radio as the best-targeted and most efficient advertising medium in America was both hypnotic and contagious.”
WNDE, Indianapolis to Debut New Local AM Drive Sports Talk Show. There’s a new sports talk show set to launch on Monday, February 6 at iHeartMedia’s Indy sports talker WNDE-AM (and simulcast on translator W248AW at 97.5 FM) featuring sister rock WFBQ personalities Dave “Gunner” Gunn and Don Stuck. The morning drive show – called “Flagrant Foul” – will air on WNDE from 6:00 am to 9:00 am, making it the only live and local Indy sports talk show in AM drive. Crosstown competitors WXNT and WFNI air CBS Sports Radio’s “Gio & Jones” and ESPN’s “Mike & Mike,” respectively. The Indianapolis Business Journal notes that “Mike & Mike” are far and away the current sports talk ratings leader in mornings, but with strong rumors that ESPN plans to end the “Mike & Mike” show very soon (moving Mike Greenberg to a more prominent role on ESPN TV), there could be an opening for “Flagrant Foul.” Gunner comments, “Stuck and I have talked sports on bar stools for years. Now, we’re excited to move our stools in front of microphones.”
David Moulton Exits Beasley’s WFCN, Fort Myers After Critical Comments About Station Decisions. Fort Myers sports talk personality David Moulton tweeted yesterday (1/17) that he was fired from Beasley Broadcast Group’s WFCN “99.3 ESPN Radio” after 17 years with the station. His exit from the station comes on the heels of a weekend story in the Fort Myers News-Press that delved into the break-up of Moulton’s and 10-year on-air partner Mark Miller’s show back in June of 2016 after the company did not re-sign Miller. The story questioned the wisdom of the move and Moulton commented freely in the story, his main complaint being that he was never told why the station let Miller walk. WFCN brought Gentry Thomas in to co-host with Moulton after Miller’s departure. With Moulton now gone, Thomas and station PD Chris Beasley are hosting the midday show. Read the News-Press story here.
Trump Inauguration Protests/Approval Rating Polls, Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning’s Sentence, U.S.–Russia Relations, Trump Cabinet Nominees Hearings, GOP’s ObamaCare Plans, World Economic Forum, and NFL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/17). Friday’s inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, the Democrats who plan to stay away from the event and reports of planned protests in Washington, tied with Trump’s approval rating polls; the controversy over President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence for turning classified documents over to Wikileaks; speculation about Trump’s future relationship with Vladimir Putin; yesterday’s confirmation hearings for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; the GOP’s intent to replace the Affordable Care Act with its own plan; the meeting of global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; and the NFL playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
SiriusXM Remodels ‘Opie Radio’; Re-Brands as ‘Faction Talk.’ The former “Opie Radio”
channel is rebranded by SiriusXM as “Faction Talk.” The satcaster describes the channel as “an unpredictable and provocative channel inspired by its punk-infused sister channel, the music and sports-focused “Faction.” The new “Faction Talk” launches on Monday (1/23) and will feature the live talk lineup of Jim Norton and Sam Roberts from 8:00 am to 11:00 am ET; the Jason Ellis show from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm; and the “Opie Radio Show” with Greg “Opie” Hughes from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
‘Radio Health Journal’ Celebrates 25 Years. This month, the weekly public affairs program “Radio Health Journal” is celebrating its silver anniversary. Radio pros Shel Lustig and Reed Pence – co-founders of MediaTracks Communications – are recognizing their 25th year in the business recalling their humble beginnings producing the program in Pence’s basement studio and relying on their contacts in the local Chicago radio scene to build an affiliate list and attract advertisers. “Radio Health Journal” is co-hosted by the program’s original trio from 1992: Pence, Lustig, and Nancy Benson. Each week the program interviews the most respected experts in the fields of health, medicine and science and has grown from its original 53 affiliates to more than 450 today. Pence says, “Considering all the medical advances of the last quarter century, it’s a completely different world from when we first went on air. But what hasn’t changed is the public’s need for reliable reporting on the health issues facing us as individuals, communities and as a nation. I mean, our very first segment was on the crisis in health insurance, and 1,250 episodes later…we’re still talking about it.”
Odds & Sods. With the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States taking place on Friday, radio news outlets are covering the event. Westwood One is beginning live, long-form coverage at 11:30 am ET, anchored by Westwood One News correspondent Chas Henry with on-scene reports from correspondents Bob Costantini at the Capitol and Steve Kastenbaum across from the reviewing stand at the White House…..ABC News Radio will also provide extensive coverage. Correspondent Aaron Katersky will lead coverage from the U.S. Capitol, joined by correspondent Karen Travers from the White House, correspondents Brad Mielke and Janai Norman from the Inaugural Parade, political director Rick Klein with analysis and commentary from Washington, DC, and contributor Steve Roberts with historical analysis and context of all the proceedings. ABC News Radio will offer multiple status reports each hour on the events of the day and a one-hour special that will be available at 7:00 pm ET…..E.W. Scripps’ WTMJ, Milwaukee – the flagship of the Green Bay Packers Radio Network is hosting “The Hometown Call at Turner Hall” viewing party for this Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. The event is free with a big-screen broadcast of the game synched to the radio play-by-play broadcast on WTMJ…..CBS Sports Radio launches a dedicated channel on Apple Music. CBS says “sports fans will now have access to CBS Sports Radio’s unique brand of coverage and commentary via Apple Music, available on a variety of devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, Mac, PC, Android, and Sonos.”…..SB Nation Radio is kicking off the new version of the Sean Salisbury show during its coverage of Super Bowl LI in Houston. Salisbury’s new co-hosts are Robin Carlin, Brian Barrett and producer Adam Sager. The show will air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET during Super Bowl week and return to the 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm slot on February 6…..United Stations Radio Networks names Donna Harrison its newest rep in the affiliate relations department for services and offerings for the news and talk formats…..WCCM, Salem, New Hampshire adds the GCN-syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs show to its weekend program lineup…..The “What’s Cooking in the Mr. Food Test Kitchen” show is offering stations a free, one-month trial of the weekend food show with no contract obligation. Mr. Food is seen on some 110 TV stations as well as the QVC channel.
WHAT ARE WORDS FOR? Michael Harrison Chats with the Editor-at-Large of Merriam-Webster. The organic English language has always evolved but the changes have been speeding up due to the influences of the digital era. In this week’s fascinating installment of the award-winning PodcastOne hit series, “Up Close and Far Out,” TALKERS founder Michael Harrison talks with Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large of Merriam-Webster, about the rapidly accelerating evolution of words and the English language. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is the second-best-selling book (right behind the Holy Bible) during the past century-and-a-half of American history. The conversation includes a discussion of the famed publisher’s successful transition from being a print-based company fueled by book sales to a gigantic web-based digital advertising-based enterprise. To listen to this illuminating podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Rock WNNX, Atlanta Inks ‘Bailey & Southside’ for Three More Years. The morning drive duo of Jason Bailey and “Southside” Steve Rickman signs contract extensions to remain hosts of the AM show on Cumulus Media’s classic rock WNNX “Rock 100.5” for another three years. Cumulus Media Atlanta vice president and market manager Sean Shannon states, “The ‘Bailey and Southside Show’ is the foundation of ‘Rock 100.5.’ Our goal is and has been to build the South’s premiere rock and entertainment station. Renewing Bailey and Southside ensures that we deliver on that promise.” Bailey and Rickman began their on-air partnership in January of 2015.
Randy Savage Named OM for Cumulus Media’s Wilkes Barre-Scranton Operations. Programming pro Randy Savage, a.k.a. Bruce Murry, joins Cumulus Media to serve as the operations manager for the company’s Wilkes Barre-Scranton station group that includes: CHR WBHT, rock WBSX, adult contemporary WMGS “Magic 93,” country WSJR “NASH FM,” and sports talk WARM-AM “CBS Sports Radio.” He’ll also serve as PD for WSJR. Most recently, Savage was with Renda Broadcasting programming country WWGR “Gator Country 101.9,” adult hits WJGO “1029 BOB FM,” hot AC WSGL “104.7 The Mix,” and news/talk WGUF in the Fort Myers/Naples market. Savage comments, “It has been the honor of my life to program these great radio stations in Southwest Florida. They are near and dear to my heart but it’s time to move on. I’m excited about joining Cumulus Media and the Wilkes Barre/Scranton cluster and look forward to working with the great staff there to continue to grow these brands.”
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. In St. Louis, CBS RADIO inks KYKY “Y98” midday personality Jill Devine, to a multi-year contract extension with the station…..In Dallas, CBS RADIO re-brands CHR KVIL-FM “AMP 103.7.” The station recently added Nathan Fast as new AM drive host…..The Radio Advertising Bureau announces iHeartRadio president Darren Davis and Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes join its board of directors…..Air personality Pepper is the new midday jock at Entercom’s alternative KNRK, Portland “94/7fm.” Pepper previously served with the company’s KNDD, Seattle “107.7 The End.”…..Programmer and air personality Kay Rich exits iHeartMedia’s hip hop KBOS, Fresno where he was music director and evening personality.
Bubba the Love Sponge Countersues Nielsen and Files Third Party Complaints Against Cox Media and WHPT, Tampa’s Mike Calta. The battle between Florida-based, syndicated morning talk host Bubba the Love Sponge, a.k.a. Bubba Clem, and Nielsen Audio just got more complicated after Bubba’s attorneys filed a countersuit against Nielsen Audio and fresh complaints against Cox Media Group and WHPT, Tampa morning personality Mike Calta. As industry watchers are aware, Nielsen is suing Bubba claiming that his attempts to manipulate the PPM ratings in the Tampa market have caused damages to its business. During the discovery phase of this case, Bubba’s lawyers have requested documentation and Nielsen responded by ultimately providing some 71,000 pages, but not in a manner deemed timely by Bubba’s team. In fact, they state that their work in the discovery phase has been “seriously delayed as a result of Plaintiff’s untimely production of discovery materials and broad-brush approach to making confidentiality designations. Moreover, Defendants’ use of the discovery materials has been severely limited by the terms of the Protective Order. As a result, on November 18, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Amend Case Management and Scheduling Order to extend the discovery cut-off from December 9 to January 9, 2016. The Court entered an Order granting Defendants’ motion on November 29, 2016.” If Nielsen’s tactics were intended to cause Bubba to settle the matter, it didn’t work. He’s doubling down with the aforementioned countersuit and new complaints against Nielsen, Cox and Calta for: Defamation (Counts I and II), Tortious Interference with Contractual and Business Relationships (Counts III and IV), Violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (Count V), and Civil Conspiracy (Count VI). Bubba’s lawyers say their counterclaims and third-party claims “are based on various documents that were produced by Plaintiff in response to Defendants’ discovery requests.” Here’s the breakdown according to the court filing: “In early 2015, Plaintiff entered into a conspiracy with Cox (one of Nielsen’s largest subscribers) to, among other things: (i) utilize Nielsen’s monopoly power over the audience measurement and ratings for the Tampa Market to prevent Defendants from broadcasting their morning radio show on WBRN in competition with WHPT; (ii) tortiously interfere with Defendants’ contractual relationships with Beasley Media Group and their other affiliates; (iii) tortiously interfere with Defendants’ current and prospective business relationships with WBRN’s advertisers and US-based syndication partners; (iv) improperly manipulate Nielsen’s ratings for the Tampa Market to simultaneously increase WHPT’s market share to the benefit of Cox, while decreasing the share of WBRN to the detriment of Beasley, Clem and BRN; (v) publish knowingly false, defamatory allegations of ratings distortion activities against Defendants in an effort to conceal the fraudulent conduct of Nielsen’s employees with respect to the data included in Nielsen’s monthly ratings reports; (vi) unfairly apply Nielsen’s rules and impose unprecedented sanctions pressure on Beasley to bring about the termination of its contract with BRN and Clem; and (vii) engage in unfair methods of competition, anticompetitive behavior, and various unconscionable, deceptive, and unfair acts or practices in violation of Chapter 501, Florida Statutes, in order to further the interests of a large Nielsen subscriber over those of a smaller subscriber. As a result of Nielsen, Cox, and Calta’s conduct, and the conduct of those conspiring with them, Defendants have incurred several million dollars in damages.” As noted, much of Bubba’s evidence for the complaints comes from Nielsen documents but it is heavily redacted to protect Nielsen’s proprietary PPM information. Regarding the complaint against Mike Calta, Clem’s lawyers allege Calta defamed him during an on-air phone conversation in which he made the following false statements: that Clem was cheating Nielsen’s ratings system; that Clem had control over PPMs; that Clem had PPMs on watch winders in a shed and/or a shipping container; that Clem had purchased a PPM from his dentist’s nurse; and that after Clem left WHPT, he stopped using the PPMs he allegedly had control over to benefit WHPT, causing its ratings to fall. Bubba also alleges that Cox conspired with Nielsen for the latter to de-list heavy listeners to Bubba’s WBRN show and that Cox and Nielsen concocted a “sting operation” to entrap Bubba into engaging into ratings manipulation. The complaint also states that “Nielsen admits that none of the PPM data obtained from any PPM panelist alleged to have engaged in ratings tampering activities with Clem was ever included in any of its monthly ratings reports and, therefore, it was unnecessary for Nielsen to reprocess or reissue any of its monthly ratings reports as a result of the ratings tampering activities allegedly engaged in by Clem. Nevertheless, at the urging of Cox, Nielsen imposed its most severe response to the alleged ratings distortion activity by delisting Beasley’s WBRN for the month of September 2015.” Neither Nielsen, Cox or Calta have commented publicly on the suit.
WEEI, Boston Promotes Alex Reimer to ‘Brand Personality.’ Sports media personality Alex Reimer has been part of the “third-chair rotation” for the “Kirk and Callahan Morning Show” on Entercom’s sports talk WEEI, Boston since the fall. Now, the company announces that he’s coming aboard full time as a brand personality. Calling it a “move designed to augment both the on-air and online components of its media ecosystem,” Reimer will join the WEEI.com staff “creating columns, blogs, and podcasts” while continuing his rotating co-host position on the morning show. The Boston University grad has previously served with Forbes, The Boston Herald and SB Nation. WEEI program director Joe Zarbano comments, “Since joining the Kirk and Callahan third-chair rotation last fall, Alex has done a terrific job delivering opinionated and entertaining sports talk. I’m excited that WEEI.com will now be an outlet for Alex’s insightful writing to our massive online audience.”
WVLK, Lexington Names ‘Kruser’ Program Director. Eighteen-year WVLK-AM, Lexington air personality Dave “Kruser” Krusenklaus is appointed program director at the Cumulus Media news/talk station. As part of the change, Krusenklaus will move from his midday talk show slot to the afternoon drive daypart. Current station PD Scott Johnson transitions to the news director role for WVLK and the Cumulus Lexington cluster. Prior to his work as a talk host at WVLK, “Kruser” worked as a programmer and air talent in both the rock and classic hits formats. Cumulus Media Lexington vice president and market manager Scott Frazier states, “I look forward to ‘Kruser’ delivering the same powerful analysis and spirited attitude he has brought as an on-air personality to programming central Kentucky’s heritage news/talker, 590 WVLK!”
Trump Inauguration Protests, Trump NATO and EU Comments, Russian Hacking Allegations, World Economic Forum, GOP ObamaCare Plan, Istanbul Terror Suspect Caught, Wife of Orlando Terrorist Arrested, Eight Billionaires Statistic, and NFL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/16). The planned protests for Friday’s inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, the boycott by numerous Democratic Members of Congress, and security plans; controversy over Trump’s comments about NATO being obsolete and his prediction about the end of the European Union; the allegations that Russia hacked the DNC emails in an attempt to influence the U.S. election; the World Economic Forum taking place at Davos, Switzerland; the GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act; the capture and confession of the man responsible for the deadly terror attack in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve; authorities arrest Noor Salman, wife of Orlando club shooter Omar Mateen; the report that eight of the world’s richest people hold more wealth than half of the rest of the world; and the weekend’s NFL playoff games were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Cooke: Recalibrating Talk for the Trump Era. Consultant Holland Cooke writes today with thoughts about what talk radio can do to take advantage of the Trump era. Cooke says that as social media flourishes, talk hosts should take that to mean that listeners expect to be heard and he adds that “the smartest thing talkers can do now is listen.” Read more here.
Odds & Sods. The nationally syndicated “Red Eye Radio” show from Westwood One is being simulcast by C-SPAN during the Wednesday (1/18) broadcast from 1:00 am to 6:00 am ET. The full live show plus break banter with hosts Eric Harley and Greg McNamara will be simulcast by the cable news network…..“The Forbes Interview” podcast debuts today on the “Forbes on PodcastOne” network. The show is the first podcast to be developed jointly between Forbes and PodcastOne and delves into the minds of the most significant leaders of today – the people who have been, or easily could be, on the coveted cover of Forbes magazine. The first interview by Forbes senior editor Steve Bertoni is with podcast superstar Adam Carolla.
‘KISS FM’ Chicago’s Angi Taylor Joins ‘The Rendezvous.’ Chicago radio personality Angi Taylor is signed up for double duty as Premiere Networks announces she’ll partner up with Simon Marcel as the new co-host of the syndicator’s evening show “The Rendezvous.” Taylor will continue her role at iHeartMedia’s CHR WKSC “KISS FM” where she’s one half of the “Fred + Angi” morning show. “The Rendezvous” is described as “the nightly radio program featuring insightful love and relationship advice, coupled with radio station music playlists.” Taylor says, “I couldn’t be more excited to host ‘The Rendezvous’ along with the French captain of romance, Simon Marcel! I’m so thankful for everyone at Premiere Networks for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. Hosting a syndicated show is a dream come true, and I can’t wait to share the love, romance, and FUN with a national audience!”
Hubbard Re-Ups Eric & Kathy at WTMX, Chicago. Chicago morning show stars Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart sign a multi-year contract extension with Hubbard Radio to continue hosting The Eric & Kathy Morning Show on WTMX “101.9fm THE MIX.” The station says that over the past 20 years the show “has been a consistent market leader, ranking number one among advertiser-coveted 25-to-54-year-old Adults, for most of their tenure at the station.” Hubbard Radio president and chief operating officer Drew Horowitz comments, “I’m thrilled to have the most successful morning show team in Chicago radio history continuing their run on ‘THE MIX’ and remaining an integral part of Hubbard Radio.”
iHeartMedia Announces Lineup for Fourth iHeartCountry Festival. The iHeartCountry Festival is coming back to Austin this spring. iHeartMedia announces the big country show will again take place at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday, May 6. The lineup will feature acts including: Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert, Rascal Flatts, Old Dominion, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini and The Raging Idiots, plus more to be announced. iHeartMedia president of entertainment enterprises John Sykes comments, “The iHeartCountry Festival has become an annual family reunion for the biggest stars in country music. These artists grew up together and you can truly feel their deep friendships when they join each other on stage.”
Report: Laura Ingraham Considering Run for Virginia Senate Seat. According to a report in the Washington Examiner, talk show host – and Trump adviser – Laura Ingraham is seriously debating whether to throw her hat into the ring for a run for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat currently held by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, Tim Kaine. The Examiner’s Paul Bedard writes that “several party insiders have approached the media giant to run and that she is considering it. In preparation for a bid, her business partner, Peter Anthony, has begun buying website domains for Ingraham to use should she decide to move forward. It includes: ingrahamsenate.net, ingrahamsenate.com, ingrahamforvirginia.com and ingraham2018.com.” The story also notes that Virginia U.S. Representatives Barbara Comstock and Dave Brat – both Republicans – are considering challenging Kaine. See the Examiner story here.
iHeartMedia Execs Nab Big Bonuses. These bonuses – approved last Tuesday by the iHeartMedia board of directors – are retention bonuses. Here’s what the board approved: chairman and CEO Bob Pittman gets $1.75 million; COO and CFO Rich Bressler gets the same; and SVP of corporate finance Steven Macri is awarded $750,000. Because they are retention bonuses, the three must remain employed by the company for two years after the effective date of January 12, 2017 or they must repay 100% of the after-tax value of the bonus. If either is terminated without cause, leaves for a “good reason,” or due to death or disability before the first anniversary of the effective date, they must pay back 50% of the after-tax value. Additionally, the board of directors approved the 2017 Key Employee Incentive Plan in which Pittman and Bressler can earn bonuses of up to $7,000,000 and $3,000,000 respectively during the year for hitting quarterly performance goals set by the compensation committee of the board of directors.
Cumulus Media’s Mary Berner Pockets $1 Million-plus Bonus. Unlike the retention bonuses paid to iHeartMedia’s Bob Pittman and others (see story above), this payment to Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner is a “one-time discretionary cash incentive compensation award” of $1,087,500 for “her exceptional efforts and contributions during 2016, both individually and as a member of the management leadership team, in the initial phase of the company’s operational turnaround plan and ongoing operational and financial restructuring.” The board of directors notes that this award is in lieu of any award she may have received under its annual incentive plan for 2016.
Charlie Sykes to Take Part in Public Radio Show. The Milwaukee radio icon retired from E.W. Scripps’ WTMJ at the end of 2016 after a 23-year career with the news/talk station. Now, Charlie Sykes is part of a new, national call-in talk show being produced in what is a cooperative venture by WNYC, New York, Minnesota Public Radio and The Economist. According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sykes will be one of four co-hosts of the program titled, “Indivisible.” The other hosts are: WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, The Nation features editor Kai Wright, and MPR’s personality Kerri Miller. Sykes will not be heard on the radio in his home market because his non-compete prevents local pubcaster WUWM from airing the show. Under the terms of Sykes’ deal with WTMJ, any radio show on which Sykes appears during the term of the non-compete must air on WTMJ. The station asked to air the new show but NPR is not giving consent.
Will Talk Show Hosts Get Access to Trump Press Conferences? On Sunday (1/15), Trump Administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer told FOX News that the president-elect is considering moving press briefings to a larger location due to “off-the-charts” interest in the new administration. Spicer said, “There’s a lot of talk radio and bloggers and people that can’t fit in right now and maybe don’t have a permanency because they’re not part of the Washington elite media, but to allow them an opportunity to ask the press secretary or the president a question is a positive thing. It’s more democratic.” The Brady press room (pictured) in the West Wing only holds 49 people. However, the White House Correspondents’ Association is concerned about the move, in part because it fears the media could be moved from the press work space behind the Brady press room, according to a statement from WHCA president Jeff Mason. He says that space is important because it is close to West Wing staffers whom the press rely on for news. Spicer says he’ll work with the WHCA on any changes.
Trump Inauguration Protests, ObamaCare Replacement Plans, U.S.-Russia Relations, Orlando Cop Killer Search, Davos Economic Forum, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ringling Brothers Circus to Close, and NFL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The planned protests and Democratic members of Congress planning to skip Donald Trump’s Inauguration on Friday; the GOP’s plans to replace the Affordable Care Act; the relationship between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the United States with Trump set to take office; the search for the man police believe killed Orlando police officer Debra Clayton; this week’s meeting of world leaders at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland; today’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday; Ringling Brothers’ decision to shutter the 146-year-old circus; and the NFL playoff games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend.
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated “Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds new affiliates to its roster, including: WNIX-AM/FM, Greeneville, Mississippi; KLKS-FM, Brainerd, Minnesota; KHMO-AM, Hannibal, Missouri; and WBNW, Concord/Boston…..Teenage conservative talk show host Caiden Cowger announces his show is added to the program schedule at Kol Ami Havurah-owned WDUQ-LPFM, Benwood, West Virginia “Beautiful Music 99.1.” This is the fourth affiliate station for Cowger’s program. The one-hour show airs evenings at 9:00 pm…..In the San Antonio market, Cox Media Group drops the sports talk programming on KONO-AM after three years as a CBS Sports Radio affiliate and is now airing an oldies format.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In San Diego, air personality Sam Bass moves from middays to weekends on hot AC KYXY for personal reasons. Moving into his slot on the CBS RADIO station is Joe Rosati, who slides over from sister CHR KEGY “Energy 103.7.” Program director Chris Patyk promotes evening personality Alexia Gloria to middays on KEGY to fill Rosati’s old slot…..There are a few promotions to report at the Nashville operations of Midwest Communications. First, Barbara Bridges – currently adult contemporary WJXA brand manager – is upped to operations manager for the entire cluster. Second, afternoon drive host Joe Breezy is adding brand manager duties to his work at CHR WNFN “i106.7.” Finally, WNFN midday personality Butter Harper takes on assistant brand manager responsibilities for the station…..Chad Valentine exits iHeartMedia’s CHR WHYI, Miami “Y100” as the result of his position being eliminated. He was assistant program director and music director there…..Alexa Smith exits her role as program director at Sierra H Broadcasting’s hip hop KNRJ, Cordes Lakes, Arizona and rhythmic oldies KAJM, Camp Verde, Arizona after three months in the position. Prior to that, she’d been APD at CBS RADIO’s rhythmic AC KTWV, Los Angeles “94.7 The Wave.”