Talk Radio/Media Industry News

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

| February 20, 2018

Brian Wilson New Morning Host at WWTN-FM, Nashville.  His exit from on-air work with Cumulus Media was short-lived as former WMAL-AM/FM, Washington personality Brian Wilson is named the host of the morning show on the company’s WWTN-FM, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7.”   Wilson left his co-host role at WMAL in May of 2017.  WWTN program director Dan Mandis says, “Brian has spent decades telling stories, whether covering the White House in Washington, DC or local stories from America’s heartland and he’s seen it all.  As Brian has been covering ‘Nashville’s Morning News’ on WWTN, listeners have already been responding to his perspective and insights.  I’m thrilled that he’s committed to moving to Nashville and hosting ‘Nashville’s Morning News’ full time.  He’s a great addition to an already outstanding radio station.”  Wilson previously served as a senior correspondent and anchor for the FOX News Channel.  He also co-anchored the Emmy Award-winning “FOX 5 Morning News” on WTTG-TV, Washington.

Philly Radio Legend John DeBella Accused of Sexual Harassment.  Longtime Philadelphia morning radio personality John DeBella is being accused of sexual harassment and groping by former traffic reporter and show cast member Jennifer Neill.  Numerous Philadelphia media outlets are reporting the story. DeBella hosts the morning show at Beasley Media Group’s classic rock WMGK.  Neill filed a suit in federal court alleging that over the course of her employment with WMGK that started in 2002, DeBella engaged in approximately 30 acts of unwanted sexual advancements.  According to the complaint, those incidents include physical groping and verbal requests for oral sex.  The account in the PhillyVoice states that Neill filed complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on September 19, 2016.  “After filing the complaints, management told Neill she could continue working with DeBella or take a leave of absence, the lawsuit claims.  She returned to work for one day before taking a leave of absence.  Management also launched a six-week-long investigation into the situation, according to the lawsuit.  As part of that investigation, DeBella allegedly dismissed his conduct as ‘jokes’ and ‘mutual.’”

World Famous WWE Ring Announcer Lilian Garcia Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Interview.  One of the most popular personalities to emerge in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) during the past 20 years, Lilian Garcia, is this week’s guest on the award winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.”   Garcia, who hosts the weekly PodcastOne series, “Chasing Glory,” in which she interviews other wrestling personalities and media figures about their personal life stories, is also an accomplished singer who is one of the most prolific and critically-acclaimed performers of the ‘Star Spangled Banner” in America – having performed the national anthem at numerous stadium-filled events for the NFLNBANHLMLBNASCAR, the US Open Tennis Tournament and the Summer Olympic Games.  Harrison and Garcia discuss her colorful career and delve into the personalities she has encountered during her 15-year run as a major WWE “diva.”  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on “The Michael Harrison Interview” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

WECK, Buffalo Hires Local News Pro. The Radio One Buffalo-owned station is broadcasting a nostalgia/full service format and announces that it is bringing aboard native broadcaster and journalist Steve Cichon to serve as news director, effective February 26.  Cichon will be part of the morning drive “WECK Coffee Club” program with co-hosts Tom Donahue and Gail Ann Huber.  Cichon began his career at crosstown WBEN in 1993.  He’s also served with WIVB-TV/WNLO-TV and WNSA/Empire Sports Network.  Radio One Buffalo president and CEO Buddy Shula says, “We’re very fortunate to have a well-known and respected journalist like Steve at WECK.  He’s a true Buffalonian who is woven into the fabric of our community – and he’s an excellent broadcaster.”  The station simulcasts on WECK-AM and W275BB at 102.9 FM.

TALKERS News Notes.  Nationally syndicated talk host Walter Sterling announces the launch of his new podcast called, “Old Dad Secrets.”  Sterling tells TALKERS magazine, “I have created an authentic, original podcast that is not an edit of my Westwood One network show.”  He says a new episode drops every Wednesday.  “I am in fact the oldest Dad in three different public schools.  My basic position with the schools is, ‘Screw you with your stupid rules.’  I get to live out my revenge fantasies against dumb school rules.  What are they going to do me?  I’m too old to mess with.  Plus, I reveal secrets from my decades in business.  I share the challenges and success of running a successful consulting business that has worked up-close in the C-suite at NBC, ABC, CBS, RKO, Sirius, Conde Nast, National Geographic, AMC Theatres and the top investment banks in the world.  The business books have it ALL wrong, let me tell you stories that will shock even you.”  It’s available at iTunes.  Check it out here…..CBS Sports Radio and SiriusXM have struck a deal to make the radio network’s lineup available on the satellite radio service on its own channel, beginning tomorrow (2/21).  The full CBS Sports Radio slate includes: Jim Rome, Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney, Scott Ferrall, Amy Lawrence, Damon Amendolara, Bill Reiter, Taz and Marc Malusis, among others…..Hillsdale College has a booth on media row at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland starting tomorrow (2/21).  During the conference, Hillsdale students will conduct two-to-three-minute interviews with the speakers, personalities, and other CPAC attendees and will make those available for stations to upload and use in their broadcasts.  The FTP site from which to get the audio is ftp://ftp.hillsdale.edu/CPAC2018.  It will be updated every two hours throughout the day…..PodcastOne chairman Norm Pattiz made the grade in the Los Angeles Times.  In the paper, he’s pictured wildly gesturing at Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James at the NBA All-Star game as he lobbies James from his courtside seats to join the Los Angeles Lakers.  At the game on Sunday, Pattiz spent time hanging out with PodcastOne Sportsnet podcasters and partners, including Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, sports personality and actor Rob Riggle, sportscasters Rich Eisen and Suzy Shuster, longtime NBA photographer Andrew D. Bernstein and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.  See the LA Times story here.

Florida School Massacre Aftermath, Russian Election Meddling, Trump-Russia Investigation, Israel-Iran Tensions, Syrian Civil War Heats Up, Black Panther Film, and PyeongChang Winter Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/19).  The aftermath of the Florida school massacre, including protests, gun control measures, and FBI failures; the mounting evidence that Russia has been and still is attempting to meddle in U.S. elections; the investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents; tensions between Iran and Israel increase over evidence implicating Iran in providing weapons to the Palestinians; reports of a Syrian government attack on a Damascus suburb; the weekend success of the Black Panther film; and the PyeongChang Winter Olympics were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Chatting it Up with the President.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (right) is pictured engaged in a conversation with President Trump (left) Sunday night (2/18) at a special Presidents Day Weekend dinner at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Harrison and his wife Bernadette Duncan were the guests of Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, a personal friend of the Trump family.  Trump was joined at the dinner by First Lady Melania Trump and his children Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr. as well as select friends and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.  Harrison reported back to TALKERS, “Trump was basically in a solemn mood, the weight of the Parkland shooting was obviously on his mind and the breaking story about the Russian election meddling operation was swirling in the air.  However, a lot of the conversation was purely social.  It was interesting seeing the President – amazingly relaxed and informal – among personal friends, associates and family…away from the press.  Up close, he has a snarky sense of humor, like a Millennial, that rivals the best of his comedic media critics.”  Harrison added, “It is clear that Chris Ruddy and Newsmax are held in extremely high regard by this administration.  If you recall, Newsmax was one of the earliest supporters of Trump.  They even ran a cover story speculating on the prospect of a Trump GOP candidacy more than a year before he announced his intentions to run.”

Speaker Roster Growing for TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The TALKERS editorial board has begun naming industry leaders who’ll be speaking at TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! – the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention. The following individuals have already been set to speak at the one-day, power-packed event on Friday, June 8 in New York City (in alphabetical order): Asa Andrew, host, Dr. Asa Network; Mike “Bax” Baxendale, morning co-host, WAQY-FM, Springfield, MA “Rock 102”; Ethan Bearman, host KGO, San Francisco; Caroline Beasley, CEO, Beasley Broadcasting; Mike Bendixen, PD, CFRB, Toronto and national news/talk format head, Bell Media; David Bernstein, GM, TalkersRadio; Chris Berry, SVP/news-talk-sports programming, iHeartMedia; Jim Bohannon, host, Westwood One; Phil Boyce, SVP/director, spoken word format and operations VP, New York Region, Salem Media Group; Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS; Howie Carr, host, Howie Carr Radio Network; Kathy Carr, VP/sales & marketing, Howie Carr Radio Network; Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Michael Czarnecki, PD, WRKO, Boston; Mike Francesa, sports media personality, New York;  Steven Goldstein, CEO, Amplifi Media; Suzanne Grimes, president, Westwood One; Sean Hannity, host, Premiere Networks and FOX News Channel; Michael Harrison, publisher, TALKERS; Thom Hartmann, host, WYD Media; Bill Hess, program director, WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC; Karen Hunter, host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; Harry Hurley, host, WWPG, Atlantic City; Brian Kilmeade, host, FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel; Mike Kinosian, managing editor, TALKERS; Scott Lakefield, APD, WOR, New York; Scott Masteller, PD, WBAL, Baltimore; Mike McVay, EVP content & programming, Cumulus Media; Greg Moceri, consultant, Moceri Media; John T. Mullen, OM, WRHU-FM, Hofstra University; Norm Pattiz, executive chairman, PodcastOne; Sid Rosenberg, host, WABC, New York; Brad Shepard, GM/host, Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Todd Starnes, host, FOX News Radio; Doug Stephan, host/CEO, Stephan Multimedia; Tom Sullivan, host, Talk Media Network and KFBK, Sacramento; Julie Talbott, president, Premiere Networks; Fred Toucher, morning co-host, WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub”; Dan Yorke, host, WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence; and Michael Zwerling, owner, KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz. More speakers will be added in the days and weeks to follow. TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will take place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan. The conference will feature more than 50 top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry – including talent, programmers, managers and owners – with a focus on talk radio and its role in the rapidly accelerating digital age. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology as well as the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing modern-day talk broadcasters and broadcasting organizations. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch, and a closing cocktail reception – all in a single, power-packed day! Full agenda details, speaker roster and hotel information will be posted in TALKERS during the days and weeks ahead. As is customary with TALKERS conventions,TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! is only open to members of the professional media industry and communications students. Because seating is limited, and the event has been an early sellout every year since the 1990s, in order to maintain this policy, non-refundable registrations can only be purchased via telephone with a credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments costs $329 per person. The convention is already well on its way to being an early sellout. Don’t be shut out! To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Hartford, Connecticut radio personality David Fisch is named morning drive host at iHeartMedia’s adult hits WHCN “The River 105.9.”  Fisch is well known in the market for his work as morning drive co-host and APD at Red Wolf Broadcasting’s crosstown alternative WMRQ “Radio 104.”  iHeartMedia Hartford SVP of programming Dave Symonds states, “After a long national search to find the perfect host for ‘The River’ morning show, he’s right here in Hartford.  Fisch has years of experience entertaining the Hartford audience and being completely engaged in the local community.”  During his career Fisch has also served as the producer for “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” when it was on ESPN Radio…..Programming pro Lee Cagle is the new operations manager for SummitMedia’s four-station Louisville cluster that includes country WQNU “Q-103.1,” classic country WRKA “The Hawk 103.9 FM,” adult contemporary WVEZ “Play 106.9 FM,” and classic rock WSFR “Eagle 107.7.”   SummitMedia Louisville president Todd Pitt comments, “We chose Lee due to his extensive experience in New Orleans; Redding, California; Memphis; and Atlanta.  He is the right person to guide our four stations to their fullest potential.”…..On-air pro Kristy Knight is being named the new midday personality and APD at Cox Media Group’s adult contemporary WWRM, Tampa “Magic 94.9.”  She makes the move from iHeartMedia’s crosstown hot AC WTMX “Mix 100.7” where she’s been hosting the evening show.  WWRM programmer John Larson says, “We are so thrilled to have Kristy join our ‘Magic’ team.  Her experience and well-known name in the Tampa Bay market, along with her stellar reputation, will be an incredible addition to our ‘Magic’ team.”…..Advanced Media Partners announces it has hired Noah Sherwood to assume the program director and morning drive co-host role at triple A WWCT, Peoria.  He’d most recently been operations manager at Cumulus Media’s crosstown country WFYR and CHR WZPW.  About his new gig, Sherwood says, “The timing for this opportunity is incredible, joining Advanced Media Partners and programing WWCT is a huge blessing!  My wife and I really enjoy living in Central Illinois and are very excited to continue raising our family here.”  He takes over for Marc Alghini, who exited the station last month.

Monday, February 19, 2018

| February 19, 2018

iHeartMedia Strikes Deal for UConn Athletics in Hartford. On Friday, TALKERS magazine reported that University of Connecticut sports play-by-play is leaving Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford at the end of this basketball season after a 26-year relationship.  The impression, based on Entercom Hartford market manager Phil Zachary’s comment that he “couldn’t justify what they [UConn] were seeking when compared to more successful partnerships Entercom enjoys with elite Power 5 institutions” is that the two sides couldn’t come together on the cost of the rights from rights-holder IMG Radio Networks.  But, Zachary subsequently spoke with the Manchester Journal Inquirer and it appears money was not the primary issues.  He told the paper, “The school felt the conservative programming that WTIC airs is at odds with the best interest of the university.  WTIC has a successful programming recipe. We’re not going to change it just to have two hours of sports programming at night.”  To that end, the university has struck a new 10-year deal with iHeartMedia to air UConn Huskies games on sports talk WUCS “97.9 ESPN.”  This new deal provides for pre- and post-game shows as well as the “UConn Women’s Basketball Coach’s Radio Show with Geno Auriemma,” the “UConn Men’s Basketball Coach’s Radio Show with Kevin Ollie,” “UConn Football Coach’s Radio Show with Randy Edsall,” and the “UConn Hockey Coach’s Radio Show with Michael Cavanaugh.”  iHeartMedia region president Steve Honeycomb says, “This partnership joins three iconic brands.  Having UConn sports on iHeartMedia’s ‘97.9 ESPN’ has been our long-term goal.  This is the perfect partnership and offers even more entertaining programming for UConn Nation.”

Invite to Speak at Radio Week Africa Turns into Money-Losing Odyssey.  U.K. talk show host Graham Mack reports to TALKERS about his bizarre experience being “hired” to speak at last week’s Radio Week Africa conference that took place at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, Uganda.  Well, Mack never went to Uganda to speak at the conference because, as he puts it, even though the invitation to be a paid speaker smacked of one of those emails from a Nigerian prince who wants to give his money away and, he responded to the inquiry and although he was hired to speak, the result was the same as the Nigerian prince email – he never saw a shilling.  In fact, he lost about £350 in medical bills for vaccinations etc.  Mack – who hosts the morning show on “BOB FM” that serves London’s “Home Counties” – learned that he’s not the only radio expert who was promised a fee and paid expenses only to find it hard to actually get paid.  American consultants Valerie Geller and Sean Ross found themselves in the same boat.  Mack tells TALKERS what the conference organizers are really up to.  “It looks like what this conference does is book radio people from all over the world to speak at their conference, agree to pay them a fee, provide flights and accommodation, and then, after they’ve sold tickets at $125 a piece they cancel the speakers (or in a lot of cases, including mine, they just stop returning phone calls and emails) but leave their names and picture on their website until after the conference has started.”  Read Mack’s blog about his travails here.

Herskovitz: Radio Language Changes Along with Advertisers. Radio sales maven Al Herskovitz shares his thoughts about the changing nature of language on the radio and the evolving categories of advertisers using radio to sell their goods and services.  Read it here.

WGN, Chicago Lines Up White Sox Baseball Talent.  Now that Tribune’s WGN, Chicago has signed to serve as the flagship radio station for Chicago White Sox baseball, the station announces that Andy Masur will host the pre-game shows and Mark Carman and Adam Hoge will split hosting duties for the post-game shows.  As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, the station also hired Dave Zaslowsky as executive producer for the broadcasts.  He held the same position with Cumulus Media when the games aired on WLS-AM.  Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson remain in the booth for the play-by-play.

Florida School Massacre Aftermath, Russian Election Meddling, New Manafort Problems, Trump on Oprah Presidential Run, Iran Nuke Deal Violation Allegations, Ingraham vs LeBron, Black Panther Film, Winter Olympics, and NBA All Star Game/Fergie’s National Anthem Rendition Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school massacre, including gun control issues and failures at the FBI; the controversy over allegations Russian hackers have and are still attempting to meddle in U.S. elections; former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is accused of bank fraud; President Trump’s tweet about Oprah Winfrey possibly challenging him in 2020; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech alleging proof Iran has violated its nuclear deal by selling weapons; talk host Laura Ingraham’s “shut up and dribble” attack on LeBron James after his criticism of President Trump; the Black Panther film’s weekend success; the PyeongChang Winter Olympics; and the NBA All-Star Game were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Los Angeles, Meruelo Media makes air staff changes, moving midday KDAY personality Cece to hip hop KPWR “Power 106” as part of “The Cruz Show with J Cruz” morning program.  At the same time, Krystal Bee moves from the J Cruz show to her own program airing from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Assuming the midday show at classic hip hop and R&B simulcast KDAY, Los Angeles/KDEY, Ontario is former crosstown KISS-FM personality Bryhana…..iHeartmedia announces today that Quinn is named assistant program director and music director for country WMIL.  Quinn continues hosting the afternoon drive program.  iHeartMedia Milwaukee VP of programming Kerry Wolfe states, “I look forward to having Quinn take the reins as my right-hand person.  She always brings great energy to the team.  She also has great ears, impressive social skills, and can help keep me in line.”…..Hudson Valley radio personality Mark Bolger exits Townsquare Media’s hot AC WCZX, Poughkeepsie “Mix 97.7” where he’d been co-hosting mornings with Taylor Dickson.  Bolger tells the Poughkeepsie Journal that he hopes to return to the air in the market saying he thinks he has many years left to broadcast…..iHeartMedia Philadelphia’s alternative WRFF “Radio 104.5” is hosting its 11th annual Birthday Celebration concerts, presented by Bernie Robbins Jewelers, taking place on June 17 and June 30 at the BB&T Pavilion.  The June 17 lineup will feature performances by Thirty Seconds To Mars, Portugal. The Man, Walk The Moon, CHVRCHES, Misterwives and The Neighbourhood.  The  June 30 lineup will feature performances by Imagine Dragons, Judah & the Lion, AJR, Sir Sly and Missio.  WRFF program director John Allers states, “The ‘Radio 104.5’ Birthday Celebration is always a highlight of the year for many of our listeners along with our sponsors and staff.  We are very excited once again to host the biggest names in alternative rock on one stage for our amazing group of listeners.”…..Edison Research proudly announces that VP Megan Lazovick is being named one of Cynopsis Media’s Top Women in Digital for 2018 in the “Rising Star” category. The award recognizes the most influential women in digital, marketing, advertising, social media and online content.

Friday, February 16, 2017

| February 16, 2018

Warner Wolf Files Suit Against Imus, Cumulus, and Others.  According to a story in today’s New York Post, Warner Wolf is suing Don Imus and several Cumulus Media and WABC, New York managers for age discrimination.  Warner Wolf served as the sports reporter on the “Imus in the Morning” program until he exited the show at the end of 2016.  According to the complaint, Wolf – who was 78 at the time of his departure from the show – says he was replaced by the younger Sid Rosenberg.  That move followed what Wolf claims was a number of comments from Imus about his age, including such Imus-like quips that Wolf needed “to be put out to pasture” and “shoot him with an elephant dart gun.”  Wolf also names Cumulus EVP of content and programming Mike McVay, Cumulus New York market manager Chad Lopez, and WABC program director Craig Schwalb.  Wolf says in the complaint that he took a large pay cut as part of a deal to work from his home in Florida and that Imus didn’t like the arrangement.  He also says he was denied his due severance.  He’s seeking $97,500 in severance plus damages.  Cumulus and WABC have not commented publicly about the suit.

Ryan Maguire to Leave WQAM to Program KIRO-FM, Seattle.  After spending the past three years in South Florida programming Entercom’s sports talk WQAM, Miami, program director Ryan Maguire is heading to the Pacific Northwest to take the PD role at Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle.  Maguire announced the news via social media, saying, “Starting March 12th, I will be taking over as Director of News and Programming at @KIRORadio in Seattle. @angelblas17 and myself are excited to become part of the community. Thank you to everyone from @560WQAM for letting me share in your successes over the last 3 years.”  No word from Entercom yet about its plans to fill the program director post at WQAM.

WTIC-AM, Hartford Ends Relationship with UConn Sports.  This is surprising news out of Hartford, but Entercom Hartford SVP and market manager Phil Zachary says the bottom line is the company could not reach an agreement with University of Connecticut sports rights holder IMG Sports that made fiscal sense.  The current deal between IMG and WTIC ends at the conclusion of this college basketball season.  Zachary says, “I have the highest respect for UConn athletic director David Benedict and his goals for the university.  Having grown up in Connecticut, there’s a special place in my heart for UConn Basketball.  However, I couldn’t justify what they were seeking when compared to more successful partnerships Entercom enjoys with elite Power 5 institutions.”  Zachary says WTIC will continue to place a high priority on local sports coverage and will sharpen its focus on the Boston Red Sox, New York Giants, and New England Patriots, all of whose games are broadcast on the station.

TALKERS News Notes. Through a joint effort of AXS TV and KMG Networks, a radio version of “The Big Interview with Dan Rather” is being offered to stations.  Westwood One is handling sales efforts.  A press release from KMG says stations will receive an audio version of the series; a corresponding video segment to post on station websites, mobile apps, and social media channels; and custom liners and promos featuring Rather.  AXS TV CEO Jeff Cuban adds, “Stations around the country now have access to an impressive roster of unique, insightful, and candid conversations Dan had with some of the most influential figures in rock, including:   Crosby Stills & Nash, Gene Simmons, Carlos Santana, Pat Benatar, Heart, Gregg Allman, Bryan Adams, John Fogerty, Sammy Hagar, Neil Young, Billy Gibbons, and Roger Waters.”…..Two NPR personalities move into prime positions with the public radio network’s drive time news programs.  Noel King is joining “Morning Edition” and Ailsa Chang is now part of the “All Things Considered” air staff.  Both King and Chang have been serving as reporters for the “Planet Money” podcast…..Entercom sports talk WIP, Philadelphia is giving Eagles fans some programming with which to relive the NFL team’s Super Bowl championship.  The station is rebroadcasting Super Bowl LII in its entirety on Sunday (2/18) at 2:00 pm.  Immediately following the game, the station will air a one-hour special titled, “Long Time, First Time: The Story of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles,” hosted by 94WIP’s Rob Charry.

Florida School Massacre Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 12-16.  The assault on students and faculty at a high school in Florida that took the lives of 17 people was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the status of the DACA Act and the Trump Administration’s immigration policy.  Coming in at #3 was the Trump-Russia investigation being conducted by Robert Mueller, and U.S. intelligence sources’ reports that Russian agents are trying to meddle in the 2018 mid-term elections was #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio this 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.

CURB YOUR DOGMA! Podcaster David Smalley Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Speaker, activist, author, publisher, comedian, humanist, former evangelical Christian-turned-atheist and successful podcaster David Smalley is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Smalley hosts a long-running podcast series titled, “Dogma Debate,” in which he expresses his passion for skepticism and truth by respectfully challenging well-known, highly opinionated guests to defend their dogma. In this installment, Harrison presents another deep-dive interview into the rabbit hole between media and culture as he and Smalley discuss the age-old debate between science and religion, as well as number of contentious contemporary issues. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box for “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

Comrex to Debut New EarShot IFB at NAB 2018.  This update in interruptible fold back technology was, according to Comrex sales director Chris Crump, something that needed to happen.  “We’d visit TV stations and see banks of old telephone auto-couplers connected to expensive analog phone lines.  Most other phone tech has transitioned to Voice-over-IP, but remote IFB audio remains stuck in the last century.”  Interruptible fold back is used by television and radio production facilities to allow producers to break into (interrupt) a talent’s audio feed – the fold back – and give direction.  The new Comrex EarShot IFB provides telephone-based, live studio program and IFB audio to field-based remote broadcasts.  Up to 30 users can listen to program or IFB feeds by calling into EarShot IFB with a mobile phone.  EarShot IFB can handle up to four program feeds, or two IFB feeds.  For higher fidelity, smartphone apps can be used to pull the audio in studio quality.  EarShot IFB can be connected to low-cost cloud-based VoIP service, or tied to a station’s VoIP PBX.  Comrex technical director Tom Hartnett adds, “With our years of experience in putting VoIP calls on air, it was a no-brainer to provide a simple hardware solution to the IFB problem.  The folks we talked to were sick of paying for a dozen or more POTS lines to provide this function.  EarShot IFB will pay for itself within a couple of months in phone service savings alone.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  Texas radio pro Al Farb is named APD and afternoon drive personality at Cumulus Media’s country KSCS, Dallas.  Farb comes to Dallas from the Cox Media Group operations in Houston where he was most recently an executive producer and air talent at KKBQ-FM and KTHT-FM.  KSCS program director Mac Daniels states, “After a very extensive search, I’m confident that Al is the right fit for this position. KSCS will benefit greatly from his passion for radio, his knowledge of the format and his skill set. I’m very excited to have him as part of this team.”…..Upstate New York classic rocker WOUR, Utica is changing hands as Townsquare Media agrees to pay $3.95 million to Galaxy Communications.  Townsquare already owns classic hits WODZ “96.1 The Eagle,” adult contemporary WLZW Lite 98.7,” country WFRG “Big Frog 104,” and news/talk WIBX-AM in the Utica-Rome market…..On-air pro Marty Young is recruited by Scripps-owned country outlet KVOO, Tulsa to join “The Voo Crew” morning show, taking over the role vacated by Rowdy Yates, who exited last September.  Young was most recently part of the morning show at Curtis Media’s country WQDR, Raleigh-Durham…..Nationally syndicated morning radio personality Tom Joyner announces that the annual Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage cruise is welcoming family dining chain Denny’s as a presenting sponsor.  The Carnival Breeze cruise sets sail from Galveston April 29 through May 6, 2018.  The Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage will feature more than 60 live entertainment acts, including “An Evening with Anita Baker” and performances from popular artists Chris Brown, Tamar Braxton, The O’Jays, The Isley Brothers, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, En Vogue, 112, SWV and more. The cruise raises funds to support students in school at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country…..Pictured below are the cast of KLOS, Los Angeles’ Frosty, Heidei & Frank morning show celebrating after the station raised $725,218 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the “St. Jude Rocks” event held Thursday, February 8, through Friday, February 9. The two-day live broadcast in Los Angeles capped Cumulus Media’s inaugural “St. Jude Rocks” fundraising partnership across 14 of its rock-formatted stations in markets across the U.S.  Below are (from l-r): Patrick Wesson, KLOS programming assistant; Frosty Stilwell; Heidi Hamilton; Frank Kramer; Sammi Marino, associate producer; Erik Scott Smith, executive producer; Lisa May, entertainment reporter and co-host; and Anthony Annese, Frosty, Heidi & Frank social media.

 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

| February 15, 2018

KNBR, San Francisco Cuts Ties with Patrick Connor After Host’s Comments About Teen Olympian.  Sports media personality Patrick Connor has been let go by Cumulus Media’s KNBR, San Francisco after his sexualized comments about U.S. Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim.  Connor hosted the daily “The Shower Hour with Patrick Connor” at 5:00 am on KNBR but he didn’t make his comments on KNBR.  He did that on SiriusXM’s Barstool Sports channel calling in to the “Dailed In with Dallas Braden” program.  Connor’s radio bit revolved around his opinion of the 17-year-old athlete’s looks and that she would soon be 18.  Connor apologized for his words, calling them “lame and gross.”  Obviously, this latest incident comes as fellow broadcaster Entercom is dealing with the blowback from two recent errors in judgement by talk hosts and will suspend live programming on WEEI, Boston tomorrow (2/16) so the entire staff can attend mandatory sensitivity training.

John Patrick Joins WGAC, Augusta Morning Show.  At Augusta, Georgia news/talk WGAC-AM/FM, Beasley Media Group names John Patrick as a new co-anchor of the station’s morning show.  He joins Steve Smith and Mary Liz Nolan for wake-up duties.  Patrick was most recently hosting the “Buzz on Buzz” show at sister sports talk WRDW-AM “ESPN Augusta 1630.”  Among Patrick’s achievements in his 40-plus-year career is the 2008 creation of “The Augusta Golf Show with John Patrick.”  It will now air on WGAC-FM on Saturday afternoons.  Beasley Augusta VP and market manager Kent Dunn comments, “To have a guy like John with 40-plus years in radio leading the way on the WGAC morning show is quite an honor.  We look forward to what John brings to WGAC and the Beasley Media Group of Augusta.”

Pub Talker Tom Ashbrook Exits WBUR, Boston for ‘Creating Abusive Work Environment.’ Host of the WBUR, Boston talk program “On Point” – Tom Ashbrook – had been on leave from the Boston University-owned public radio news/talk outlet since the school launched an investigation into his behavior back in December.  Now, the school has let him go, citing actions he was reported to have taken that created an “abusive work environment.”  According to a report of his dismissal in Deadspin, “The university said it had conducted two separate reviews after allegations were made by 11 former staffers claiming Ashbrook ‘created a work environment that included verbal assaults, intimidating actions, consistent bullying, and unwanted touching.’ A second probe, conducted by a law firm, determined that the alleged unwelcome conduct was not sexual in nature, and was not sexual harassment under BU’s Title IX polices.”  See the Deadspin piece here.

Atlanta’s ‘The Sports X’ Gets a New Midday Show.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports that another local show has been added to Dickey Broadcasting’s WOFM-AM/W292EV, Atlanta “The Sports X.”  The station pairs up Jerry “Tug” Cowart with former University of Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason for the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show.  Cowart also works as a jock at iHeartMedia’s crosstown country outlet WKHX “Kicks 101.5.”  Station owner David Dickey has been retooling the station – a sister station to WCNN “The Fan” – in an effort to draw in younger listeners.  He recently added Mark Zinno to host the afternoon program and the late morning “Hometeam & Hamilton” show with Brandon Leak and Joe Hamilton.

WAXY, Miami Signs Deal for University of Miami Baseball. South Florida sports talker WAXY, Miami “AM 790 The Ticket” enters into a multi-year agreement with University of Miami sports rights holder Learfield to air the school’s baseball games and ancillary baseball programming.  As part of the partnership, ‘The Ticket’ will broadcast at least 15 regular season games, all postseason baseball and various ‘Canes baseball-focused programs throughout the season.  Entercom South Florida SVP and market manager Keriann Worley says, “We’re excited to begin a new partnership with Miami Athletics and are ready to air Canes baseball game broadcasts and various shows for fans this spring.  There’s not a better time than right now to be associated with the University of Miami and as part of our commitment to our listeners, we are always looking to bring them the excitement of the games they love.”  Joe Zagacki – in his 29th season as the voice of the ‘Canes – will continue calling games this season.

Deadly Florida School Shooting, FBI’s China vs US Warning, DACA Status/Immigration Policy, Russian Election Interference, Trump-Stormy Daniels Case, PyeongChang Winter Games, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/14). The Florida school shooting that took the lives of 17 and wounded numerous others; the FBI warns that all of Chinese society is focused on surpassing the U.S. as the world’s foremost global power; the legal status of DACA and the Trump Administration’s immigration policy; intelligence officials’ warning about Russian interference in the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections; the case of porn star Stormy Daniels’ alleged romp with President Trump and Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s claim he paid her $130,000 to stay quiet; the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Music Radio News and Career Moves.  In Chattanooga, Entercom brings market radio pro Boner, a.k.a. Randy Smith, aboard to host the “Boner in the Afternoon” program on rock WRXR “Rock 105.”  Entercom Chattanooga SVP and market manager Nicole Hartman says, “Boner is a longtime, local on-air personality and we are thrilled to reunite him with the ‘Rock 105’ listeners.  Boner has been a part of the fabric of the ‘Rock 105’ brand in many roles over the years and we’re excited that he will now be hosting afternoon drive.”  He first joined WRXR when it was owned by then-Clear Channel in 2001 and hosted the morning show and programmed the station for 15 years…..Hubbard Radio Seattle announces the new morning show cast for country KNUC “Country 98.9” is Tim Leary, Claire Beverly and Karen (Red) Daiss (pictured at left).  The three come to the Pacific Northwest from their most recent gig hosting mornings at Alpha Media’s WUBB, Savannah, Georgia “Bob 106.9.”  Hubbard Seattle market manager Marc Kaye comments, “I fell in love with Tim, Claire and Red in the first few minutes of meeting them.  I know the Seattle radio audience will find them entertaining and refreshing, we are in for one heck of a run.”…..Elvis Duran show cast member Bethany Watson is leaving the Premiere Networks-syndicated program to pursue other challenges in the New York entertainment industry.  She says she’s making “the scariest, riskiest decision I’ve ever made.”  She says she’s interested in writing, acting and producing, among other things…..Programming and on-air pro Dave Fields exits Townsquare Media’s country WKDO, Evansville, Indiana where he held the brand manager and morning show host positions to host the morning show at the company’s adult contemporary WMSX, Buffalo “MIX 96.”  That leaves Townsquare seeking a new morning host and brand manager for WKDO…..Sales pro Lindsay Lazar is named general sales manager for iHeartMedia in Chicago.  She will oversee sales at country WEBG “BIG 95.5” and adult contemporary WLIT “93.9 LITE FM.”  iHeartMedia Chicago SVP of sales Adam Kurtz states, “Lindsay has an impeccable reputation in the Chicago market and a glowing track record of success.  She is a proven leader with an exceptional ability to deliver solutions to the advertising community and I am thrilled to welcome her to our team.”…..SiriusXM is adding a new show to the Underground Garage rock channel, hosted by legendary musician, producer and songwriter Lenny Kaye.  The show will air weeknights from 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight.  In addition to being a member of the Patti Smith Group, Kaye also produced the Nuggets garage rock anthologies that were released on vinyl during the 1970s.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

| February 14, 2018

WEEI, Boston to Suspend Programming on Friday; Holds Mandatory Sensitivity Training for Air Staff.  In the aftermath of two recent incidents in which WEEI, Boston air personalities made statements that offended some, Entercom is suspending the sports talk station’s Friday programming and all staff will complete mandatory sensitivity training.  As regular TALKERS readers are aware, WEEI has been dealing with blowback – including lost advertisers – after a bit in which midday personality Christian Fauria used a phony Asian accent while imitating sports agent Don Yee (who, incidentally, speaks English without an accent).  It’s being reported that Comcast, City of Boston Credit Union, the Massachusetts Lottery, and possibly others, have cancelled ad campaigns with the station.  Fauria has been suspended by Entercom for a week and both the station and Fauria have apologized for the incident.  The cancellations appear to have come on the heels of an op-ed piece by Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung.  This latest incident came almost two weeks after WEEI’s Alex Reimer referred to Tom Brady’s daughter as “an annoying little pissant.”  Brady cut short a scheduled appearance on the “Kirk & Callahan” morning show because of Reimer’s comments.  The station posted the following on its website: “Nothing is more important to WEEI than the close-knit and diverse Boston community we call home, and we are committed to actively contributing to its betterment.  WEEI is in the process of closely reevaluating our policies and procedures in an effort to ensure that our programming is never intolerant or harmful to our listeners or our city.”  This suspension of live programming for mandatory sensitivity training is, as far back as TALKERS editors can remember, unprecedented in the radio industry.

U.S. Trustee Has Issues with Cumulus Bonus Structure.  More accurately, U.S. Trustee William Harrington has issues with the information Cumulus has supplied regarding its bonus structure at both the station level and for corporate executives.  Harrington has filed an objection stating that, among other things, Cumulus has not identified the job titles of those at the station level slated for bonuses, has not identified all of the corporate executives scheduled to receive payouts, nor has Cumulus shown that its bonus plan is an actual incentive plan and not retentive in nature (i.e. solely designed to keep key employees on board during a time of uncertainty).  What Harrington is saying is that actual incentive plans are allowed but Cumulus hasn’t satisfied him in showing its bonus plans are exactly that and not mechanisms to “enrich insiders” at the “expense of the creditors.”  Cumulus issued the following statement regarding Harrington’s objection: “The objection filed last night has absolutely no impact on the authorizations the Court gave the company on February 8th to pay incentive compensation for employees who earned it in 2017, or will earn it in 2018.  We will be making our incentive compensation payments to those employees, beginning with this week’s normal payroll cycle.  The objection filed is common in these situations and applies only to a small number of senior executives whose compensation will be addressed at an upcoming hearing on March 12th.”

WGN, Chicago to Air White Sox Games.  After 75 years, the Chicago White Sox are returning to WGN’s airwaves.  As you’re probably aware, Cumulus asked the bankruptcy court to let it out of contracts that were onerous and the WLS-AM/White Sox deal was one of them.  Now, for the first time since 1943, White Sox games will return to Tribune’s WGN starting with a spring training game on Friday, February 23.   In the booth will be former Sox pitcher Ed Farmer handling play-by-play and former outfielder Darrin Jackson as analyst.  WGN VP of content Todd Manley says, “What an honor it is to join the White Sox family.  Summer starts TODAY on WGN Radio.”

WOR Names Ray Martel to Executive Producer Role for Mets Broadcasts.  New York radio pro Ray Martel – currently the associate producer for WOR, New York’s “Len Berman in the Morning” show – is named executive producer for New York Mets radio broadcasts and “Sports Zone with Pete McCarthy,” effective March 1.  Martel says, “I am extremely honored to be the next producer of the Mets broadcasts on 710 WOR.  When I began in broadcasting 20 years ago, one of my first positions was as a board-op working on the Mets broadcasts.  It’s amazing to think it’s come full-circle two decades later…I can’t wait for the season to start!”  Prior to his arrival at WOR, Martel was a producer at crosstown sports talker WFAN for 13 years.  He produced for Mike Francesa, Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson.  He also produced for ESPN Radio.  Martel takes over for Joe Curci, who is leaving on February 28 for a position outside of radio.

Lauer Named Director of Sales for Entercom Milwaukee. Radio sales pro Eric Lauer is appointed to the director of sales position at Entercom’s Milwaukee station group that includes sports talk WSSP/W289CB “105.7 FM/AM 1250 The Fan,” CHR WXSS “103.7 Kiss FM,” and hot AC WMYX “99.1 The Mix.”  Lauer was most recently general sales manager at Scripps’ crosstown news/talk WTMJ and country WKTI.   Entercom Milwaukee/Madison SVP and market manager Chuck Sullivan says, “I have known Eric since he first arrived in the market and his passion, intellect and leadership skills were apparent immediately.  We feel very fortunate to have him partner with us to lead the Milwaukee team.”  Lauer has also held sales management roles with Cox Media Group in Florida and Georgia.

TALKERS News Notes. KIRO-FM, Seattle adds Gee Scott to the evening “KIRO Nights” program with co-host Zak Burns.  Scott moves to the new position from Bonneville’s sister sports talker KIRO-AM “710 ESPN Seattle” where he hosted the evening program.  He fills the seat vacated by Jason Rantz, who exited last fall to assume the morning drive show on the company’s local news/talk KTTH-AM…..The popular podcast from The New York Times, “The Daily,” is being produced as a 30-minute evening radio program distributed by American Public MediaMichael Barbaro will also host the radio version…..Also in Seattle, iHeartMedia is signing with the Major League Soccer club Seattle Sounders FC to serve as its flagship radio station for match play-by-play.  Games and related programming – that used to air on Bonneville’s KIRO-FM – will now air on KJR-AM.  Matt Johnson will call the matches along with rotating analysts Wade Webber, Danny Jackson, and Pete Fewing.

Cumulus Celebrates 40 Years of Steve Dahl with Billboard Campaign.  Radio personality Steve Dahl has been a part of Chicago radio for 40 years and Cumulus Media is honoring Dahl’s colorful career with a billboard campaign in Chicagoland.  Dahl is currently hosting afternoon drive on Cumulus’ news/talk WLS-AM.  The image above is part of the creative for the campaign and shows Dahl with the late John Belushi.

audioBoom and Triton Digital Merge.  This pairing is being termed a “reverse takeover” with Triton Digital merging with the UK-based audioBoom podcast network and technology provider.   audioBoom will acquire all of the stock of Triton Digital Canada for $185 million.  The new company will be called Triton Digital Group and will be publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange.  The executive structure will effectively remain in place with president/CEO Neal Schore, president/market development John Rosso, EVP/CFO Mark Rosenbaum, and SVP/ product and technology Alex FournierCurrent audioBoom CEO Rob Proctor becomes managing director of the audioBoom business unit.  He also remains an executive director.  Schore comments, “We’re proud of our position in the marketplace.  We feel an enormous sense of responsibility to continuously innovate and to drive monetization opportunities.  Our clients can expect us to not only maintain our leadership position, but to have the resources and the team to expand our technology and services meaningfully.”  audioboom currently hosts more than 12,000 content channels, with U.S. content partners including: Cumulus Media, Westwood One, and the Associated Press.  The transaction is expected to close in late March or early April.

Rob Porter White House Exit/John Kelly Status, Russia Election Interference, DACA Status/Immigration Policy, Trump/Stormy Daniels Matter, U.S. Strikes in Syria, Netanyahu Criminal Allegations, PyeongChang Winter Games, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/13).  The aftermath of Rob Porter’s exit from the White House after allegations of spousal abuse and questions about chief of staff John Kelly’s job security; U.S. intel concerns about Russian influence in 2018 mid-term elections; a judge refuses to allow DACA to be shut down and the related Trump Administration policy on immigration; Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen reveals he paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 out of his own pocket; U.S. military strikes in Syria allegedly kill Russian mercenaries; Israeli investigators say Benjamin Netanyahu should be indicted on corruption charges; the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Deborah Norville to Host BFoA’s Golden Mike Award Ceremony.  Television’s Deborah Norville is hosting the Broadcasters Foundation of America’s 2018 Golden Mike Award honoring Graham Media president and CEO Emily Barr on March 5 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.  Also, at this event Pat McLaughlin will accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her late husband, Ed McLaughlin, who is credited with discovering Rush Limbaugh and was the founder of EFM Media Management.  Ed McLaughlin was chairman emeritus of the Broadcasters Foundation when he passed away last month.  This annual event is one of the biggest fundraisers in support of the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation to provide aid to broadcasters in acute need.

WIOV, Lancaster’s ‘Murph’ Dies Unexpectedly at 61. Sad news out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania as Cumulus Media reports that WIOV-FM “I-105” morning personality Jerry Murphy – half of the “Murph & Casey” program with Casey Allyn – died unexpectedly at the age of 61.  The duo had worked together on “I-105” for the past 19 years.  Station PD Rich Creeger says, “Murph was not only one of the most charismatic personalities I had the pleasure of working with, but he was also a great friend.  I will miss him tremendously.”  The station has set up a tribute to Murph on the station website at wiov.com.

More Music Radio News and Career Moves.  Appointed to take over management of Spanish Broadcasting System’s New York operations is Maire Mason.  She’s the new VP/GM for Spanish music outlets WSKQ-FM “Mega 97.9FM” and WPAT-FM “Amor 93.1FM.”  Mason, who most recently worked for Cumulus as ​VP/GM in New York, takes over for Eric Garcia who recently exited to join Univision…..Nate Reed is named operations manager for Cox Media Group’s Tulsa cluster.  CMG market VP Cathy Gunther comments, “Nate’s commitment to strong programming will continue to set our stations apart from our competitors.  He has been a natural leader at our radio properties and now, with all our platforms working together, he will be integral part of our new leadership team.”…..Yes, it happened on Valentine’s Day!  Cumulus Media appoints Chad Valentine program director for CHR WBHT, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.  Valentine was most recently with iHeartMedia as air personality, APD, and music director for CHR WHYI, Miami “Y100.”  Valentine says, “I’m excited to be here and ready to make some great radio for Northeast PA.  I’m proud to be part of the next chapter of WBHT’s evolution.”…..Mid-West Family Broadcasting South Bend general manager Jim Roberts leaves the company after almost 22 years to become the national account manager at Cleveland-based Futuri Media.  Roberts had served as GM of the South Bend station group since 2011…..Pictured at right are Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott (right) and Premiere’s SVP, talent and brand integration Rick Murray (left) chatting with country star Sara Evans (center) as she kicked off the “CMT Next Women of Country” tour at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City on February 12.