Talk Radio/Media Industry News
Fredericksburg Stations to Join Alpha Media Portfolio. Still in acquisition mode, Portland, Oregon-based Alpha Media announces it will acquire the four-station Free Lance-Star Radio group. The stations include: country WFLS and talk WNTX in Fredericksburg, Virginia; CHR WVBX, Spotsylvania, Virginia; and classic rock WWUZ, Bowling Green, Virginia. Alpha chairman Larry Wilson comments on the deal, “Around 50 miles from Washington D.C., Fredericksburg is a thriving place that continues to grow. It will be a nice addition to our East Coast footprint. I feel privileged to be able to get into that market and work with the great people there.” The stations were acquired by Sandton Capital in a bankruptcy auction and the firm must divest of the signals to comply with cross-ownership regulations. Free Lance-Star operates print and digital publications in the market. George Reed of Media Services Group is the broker for Free Lance-Star Radio.
Jim Sumpter Show Renewed on USA Radio Networks. The midday Jim Sumpter program will continue to be syndicated via the USA Radio Networks after the two parties agreed to a renewal deal. The Jim Sumpter show airs live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET Monday through Friday and from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Saturdays. In a press statement USA Radio Networks says, “Jim brings a powerfully unique presentation of storytelling and interpretation of current events from a constitutional perspective that translates to compelling radio that draws listeners in as few other hosts can.” Sumpter comments, “The content of my show challenges establishment elites – especially politicians who say one thing, but do another and media organizations who shirk away from truthful reporting – that it takes a special group of courageous patriots who both get it and are committed to supporting it. I’m grateful for this opportunity from Sam Hassell, Sherrie Roberts, and Tim Maranville to give me the venue and support to make a lot of noise, stir up a lot of trouble, and do a lot of good. This is going to be fun.”
Newsmax Signs Deal with NCTC Adding Nearly 12 Million Subscribers. A new deal between Newsmax TV and the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), will provide Newsmax TV access to 900-plus member cable systems, encompassing nearly 12 million MVPD subscribers. Newsmax Media founder Christopher Ruddy says, “This NCTC agreement further accelerates our focus on securing carriage with independent cable operators country wide and is an important component of our goal to reach 50 million-plus subscribers for our first year on-air anniversary. Initial meetings with many NCTC members indicate a widespread reception that we anticipate will lead to notable launches in 2015.” Newsmax TV, which the company says targets the underserved baby boomer audience, is already carried by DISH and DIRECTV in approximately 35 million cable/satellite homes.
Round Three of Holiday PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of Holiday 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Columbus. The survey period was December 4 to December 31. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Ninth Annual ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ Event Scheduled for April 15 and 16. The annual Washington, DC radio row produced by the Federation for American Immigration Reform will take place on Monday and Tuesday, April 15 and 16 at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. As in the eight years prior, the event will consist of talk hosts from across the country broadcasting live, debating immigration policy while interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists and citizens who live along the border. FAIR says that “this year’s event will focus on the aftermath of President Obama’s amnesty and his continued abuse of executive power, the GOP’s internal battle over how to tackle immigration and the ongoing border crisis with its implications for national security risks.” Event general manager and FAIR spokesman Bob Dane comments, “Politicians fear and respect the amplitude of talk radio. Hold Their Feet to the Fire speaks for millions of radio listeners and, this year, will prove that the mic is mightier than Obama’s pen.” For talk show hosts wishing to take part in this year’s radio row, reservations are required and hosts/producers should call now. There is no cost to attend and all technical engineering and ISDN lines are provided by Silver Lake Audio of New York, the official engineering firm for Hold Their Feet to the Fire. Congressional guests, activists, high-profile media personalities, and immigration experts will be in attendance and available throughout the event for wall-to-wall interviews. Contact Bob Dane or Anna Giaritelli for more information at 202-328-7004 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Odds & Sods. The new American General Media sports talker in Bakersfield – KGEO “1230 AM ESPN” – is adding a live and local program beginning Monday (1/26) as the Greg Kerr show debuts. The local sports media pro will take to the air from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm daily for the station that launched late last year…..Baseball broadcaster Jeff Levering is moving up to the big leagues from his gig with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers Radio Network broadcast team. Levering is going to be the play-by-play voice for select road games this season as he joins Bob Uecker and Joe Block. He’ll also contribute content for the Brewers’ digital platform…..ESPN Audio announces its new weekend program lineup. Eight new shows are being added, including the two-hour “espnW Presents: Spain & Prim on ESPN Radio,” co-hosted by espnW’s and ESPN Chicago 1000 Radio’s Sarah Spain and ESPN anchor and analyst Prim Siripipat. Additional shows debuting in the new lineup are: Marty & McGee, Dave Rothenberg Show, Dickerson & Hood, Robin Lundberg, Coachman & Bretos, Ian Fitzsimmons and “NBA Lockdown: Insiders.”
KKOB, Albuquerque’s Terrie Q. Sayre Passes Unexpectedly. KKOB, Albuquerque program director Pat Frisch informs TALKERS that station weekend personality Terrie Q. Sayre died unexpectedly at the age of 54. Frisch says, “It is with deep sadness that I tell you we lost a true friend, a bright lite in the 770 KKOB family.” Frisch says Sayre handled weekend mornings for Cumulus Media’s news/talk KKOH, Reno for several years before moving to Albuquerque and doing weekends for KKOB for the past seven years. Sayre was a former show girl for Harrah’s and Caesars Lake Tahoe and was Mrs. Nevada 1998. She was married to Skip Sayre and is survived by a brother.
State of the Union and Obama Tax Plan Top News/Talk Stories This Week. The State of the Union Address and President Obama’s tax plan tied as the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the “no-go zones” controversy and the related militant Islam issues. Coming in at #3 was ISIS’ holding of two Japanese nationals for ransom and following at #4 was the 2016 presidential prospects. 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. View this week’s entire chart here.
Dave Ramsey Surpasses 550 Affiliate Mark. Nationally syndicated financial talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey announces his program is now heard on more than 550 AM/FM affiliate stations and, according to the Ramsey organization, is heard by more than 8.5 million listeners weekly. “‘The Dave Ramsey Show’ is clearly positioned as the third largest talk radio show in the country behind only Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.” Vice president of Ramsey Media Brian Mayfield comments, “‘The Dave Ramsey Show’ continues to grow and make a difference in the radio world, as well as in the lives of our listeners.” Recently, the Dave Ramsey show experienced upgrades in a few major markets including moving to a live timeslot from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm on KTAR-FM, Phoenix and expanding the timeslot to 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm KEIB, Los Angeles. Beginning in February, the show will move to a live timeslot from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on KXNT, Las Vegas.
New AM Host and Talent Shuffle at KCMO, Kansas City. Talent moves will take effect on February 2 at Cumulus Media’s news/talk KCMO, Kansas City. Current morning drive personality Greg Knapp is moving to afternoon drive and new in the morning slot will be Rob Carson. At the same time, WMAL, Washington personality Chris Plante will also air on Kansas City on KCMO in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. The rest of the schedule will be: Dave Ramsey from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm; Michael Savage from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm; Mark Levin following Knapp from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm and John Batchelor airing from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight. Cumulus Kansas City SVP and general manager Mark Sullivan says, “I’m thrilled to have two of the industry’s best joining our lineup. I’m anxious to hear Rob Carson and Chris Plante on our airwaves and I’m sure that Kansas City is going to feel as strongly about their talent to entertain and inform as I am. I’m also pleased to have Greg Knapp hosting our afternoons, as his dynamic and in-depth discussions keep me glued to the radio and I know that the local presence that he brings will be outstanding. These are exciting times here at the broadcast center!” Carson comments, “This is a real homecoming for me and my family. We’ve been away from Missouri too long, and it’s a real blessing to get a spot on one of the country’s premiere talkers, KCMO. I’m excited to join John Dickey, Mike McVay and Mark and [PD] Gary Nolan at Cumulus.”
Round Two of Holiday PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of Holiday 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The survey period was December 4 to December 31. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
WTOP, Washington’s Dave McConnell Celebrates 50 Years with Station. WTOP, Washington reporter Dave McConnell began his career with the station on January 18, 1965. McConnell spent most of his career serving as Capitol Hill correspondent – a title he holds today that makes him the only full-time congressional correspondent for a local radio outlet in the country. WTOP news director Mike McMearty relates, “It is part of WTOP lore that while other kids were skipping school to see the Washington Senators play at Griffith Stadium, Dave was skipping school to hear the real Senators debate on Capitol Hill.” McMearty adds, “Dave McConnell is a class act. He’s a mixture of hustle, honesty and humbleness. Dave lets the members of congress express their point-of-view without inserting opinion or commentary. He is, and has always been known as, an honest broker. I consider it an honor to have worked with him for more than 20 years of his illustrious career.” Even after 50 years, McConnell has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Odds & Sods. Financial talker Ray Lucia inks a deal with BizTV and BizTalkRadio for the companies to exclusively produce and syndicate his programs. As part of the new agreement, the national radio show expands to two hours airing live from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm ET…..In addition to the almost 400 AM/FM affiliate stations that aired ESPN Audio’s broadcast of the College Football Playoff Championship on January 12, the sports giant reports that the game averaged 69,000 listeners in the average minute across network and affiliate streams. The ESPN Audio Streaming Network audience (including the ESPN Radio website and mobile app, the SportsCenter mobile app, Tune In Radio, Slacker Radio, and Apple iTunes Radio) grew 103% from last year’s BCS National Championship game. The 69,000 listeners is the third-highest network stream in history, trailing only two 2014 FIFA World Cup matches.
Cool Job Opportunity. Legendary KFBK, Sacramento has an immediate opening for a full-time morning news co-anchor and writer. Our ideal candidate has strong news broadcasting experience and is able to multi-task and take direction well. You will work alongside Amy Lewis, our long-term KFBK co-anchor, in a fast-paced, challenging and friendly environment. Must be an aggressive self-starter who can hit the ground running, cut up sound on the fly, report live from the street or in-house, love big breaking news, write conversationally, and stay on top of social media – all while creating and contributing daily content to the web and Facebook. You will need to be able to write short, tight copy, adlib well, anchor short-form newscasts or long-form event coverage when necessary, and understand news coverage in the digital/social media age. Conversational and credible on-air news delivery, creative broadcast news writing skills and the ability to communicate effectively are prerequisites for this position. You must be able to work under pressure in a fast-paced environment, meet deadlines, have a strong knowledge of current events and work positively as part of a team. For more information and to apply, click here.
Covering the State of the State. WKZO, Kalamazoo broadcast its Wayne Powers morning drive show live from the office of State Rep. Aric Nesbitt at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing yesterday (1/21) the morning after Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State Address. The Midwest Communications news/talk station reports that it was able to talk with Michigan lawmakers and leaders from both parties throughout the morning, including Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter as well as local senators and representatives including Senators Margaret O’Brien, Tonya Schuitmaker and John Proos and Representatives Aric Nesbitt, Jon Hoadley, Brandt Iden and Dave Maturen. WKZO brand manager Jeremy Lawrence comments, “It is such a pleasure to be able to serve our listeners by talking with our leaders at the Capitol. Being that we are the eyes and ears of the listener, we value our ability to let them know what is happening in our government.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Nesbitt, Maturen, O’Brien, Schuitmaker, Cotter, Lawrence, Midwest Communications VP/Market manager Mike Klein, and (seated) Powers.
State of the Union Address/Obama Tax Plan, ISIS Holds Japanese Men for Ransom, Abortion Legislation Debate, 2016 Presidential Prospects, ‘American Sniper’ Film Criticism, and the NFL’s Deflategate Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/21). Tuesday’s State of the Union Address and President Obama’s tax proposal; the case of the Japanese nationals being held for ransom by ISIS; the GOP’s decision to drop new abortion legislation; the potential candidates for president in 2016; continuing criticism of the film “American Sniper”; and the controversy over deflated footballs used by the New England Patriots were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Two Talk Radio Pros Take Their Craft to the Internet. Longtime KABC, Los Angeles talk radio personality Larry Elder debuts his new Internet-only talk show emanating from his website, LarryElder.com. The program streams live Monday through Friday from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm PT. In addition to the live stream, Elder offers fans an “Elderado” premium subscription tier that includes access to commercial-free podcasts and more. Elder exited KABC late last year as the station was tweaking its news/talk format. Albuquerque media personality Larry Ahrens – a longtime news/talk KKOB host – is leaving his current gig at uPublic TV’s “The Morning Brew” program to begin an Internet radio endeavor focusing on healthy living. According to Albuquerque Business Journals, Ahrens is joining the Phoenix-based Doublewide Networkout operated by Arizona radio personality Dave Pratt. The show is being titled, “Smart Living with Larry Ahrens” and is expected to launch later this month.
Townsquare Media Teases Positive Q4 2014 Growth. In an 8-K filing with the SEC, Townsquare Media – which went public back in July of last year – announces pretty good 2014 fourth quarter financial numbers. In issuing the preliminary financial results, the company says its fourth quarter pro forma net revenue jumped 9% to 10% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013. Further, pro forma adjusted EBITDA rose 5% to 9% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013. For the year of 2014 as a whole, Townsquare expects to report revenue of about $385 million – an increase of about 8% compared to 2013.
Round One of Holiday PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of Holiday 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The survey period was December 4 to December 31. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
New York Broadcasters Honor Barry Farber. Talk radio pioneer Barry Farber (right) was honored with induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame last fall, but his New York colleagues wanted to throw a special NYC bash for him as the cherry on the cake, and did so recently at The Statler Grill in Midtown Manhattan. Among the more than 100 media pros and friends to attend was WABC, New York personality Curtis Sliwa (left) who, during his remarks, cited Farber as one of the talk show hosts who gave the Guardian Angels, and its predecessor organization The Magnificent 13, early publicity and support. He also stated that it was because of Barry Farber, Barry Gray and Bob Grant that he was able to have a career in talk radio at all. Farber is still heard on the radio via CRN Digital Talk Radio weeknights at 8:00 ET.
Timely Live Event. Just before President Obama delivered the State of the Union address on Tuesday (1/20), WNDB, Daytona Beach afternoon talk show host Marc Bernier moderated a discussion with Fox News political analyst and author Charles Krauthammer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as the latest in the school’s President’s Speakers Series. Krauthammer recently published his latest book, Things That Matter (2013 Crown Forum). Bernier tells TALKERS magazine that this event was the 117th in the series that dates back to 1993.
State of the Union Speech, 2016 Presidential Prospects, Paris Mayor Vows to Sue Fox News/‘No-Go Zones’ Controversy, Collapsing Oil Prices/World Financial Markets Activity, ISIS Holds Japanese Men for Ransom, Huckabee’s Beyonce Criticism, and NFL Deflated Balls Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/20). Tuesday’s State of the Union address and President Obama’s pledge to tackle income inequality; the controversy over assertions of Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s threat to sue Fox News; the continuing collapse of oil prices and the effects on the world’s financial markets; ISIS violence in the Middle East and the holding of two Japanese men for ransom; potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s criticism of Beyonce; and the controversy over deflated footballs used in the Patriots-Colts AFC Championship game were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Todd Schnitt and Len Berman to Host Mornings on WOR, New York. Legendary New York news/talk station WOR announces it will debut the new morning program, “Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning,” effective January 26. iHeartMedia says the program will “focus on New York and feature interactive programming, showcasing what local listeners are talking about in news, sports, entertainment and pop culture.” Both Berman and Schnitt are native New Yorkers. Schnitt has been based in Tampa and currently hosts his nationally syndicated, eponymous talk show via Compass Media Networks, which he’ll continue to do in addition to the New York morning show. Berman is an “Emmy-Award winning sportscaster and New York Times best-selling author who has covered just about every major sports event including multiple Super Bowls, World Series and Olympics during his 40-year career in broadcasting. He was a long-time sports anchor for WNBC-TV, New York.” Regular TALKERS readers are aware that Schnitt, in addition to his syndicated talk show, hosted the “MJ Morning Show” on CHR WFLA-FM, Tampa for many years. iHeartMedia market president Joe Puglise says, “Len is a well-known sports reporter and this opportunity will also showcase his other skills and personality. Listeners will immediately engage with Todd’s quick wit and creative take on the things that impact New Yorkers.” Schnitt adds, “Len Berman is the perfect co-host, he is a well-known New Yorker and brings a ton of wit, wisdom and street smarts to the microphone. Together we are very excited to construct a new local, engaging and entertaining morning show for New York.” iHeartMedia tried simulcasting WWDC, Washington “DC 101” morning personality Elliot Segal on WOR after parting company with longtime morning host John Gambling, but that lasted only a month, ending in February of 2014. Regarding his move to NYC, Schnitt adds, “Locating our [Compass syndicated] show in the heart of New York City will be a huge benefit to our national listeners and help drive ratings for our affiliates. I look forward to continuing to work with Compass Media Networks, our affiliates and sponsors.”
Premiere Names Shapiro VP – Sports Programming. Former ESPN Radio program director Scott Shapiro joins Premiere Networks in a newly created position of vice president of sports programming. His duties will include overseeing daily execution of sports content, including the Fox Sports Radio Network. Premiere Networks senior vice president of sports programming Don Martin comments, “Scott’s experience producing some of the most successful, multi-platform sports programming speaks for itself. I am excited for the opportunity to team up with such a class act. His addition reaffirms our commitment to providing the best sports entertainment content the industry has to offer, along with unique and valuable opportunities for our partners.” Shapiro remarks, “I greatly look forward to working with the talented team in place. There is tremendous growth potential and a real opportunity to develop outstanding sports content. The sky is the limit in terms of the talent, infrastructure, and resources available.” In addition to programming ESPN Radio, Shapiro’s resume includes being producer of that sports network’s “Mike & Mike” morning show; he previously was assistant program director/executive producer of WQXI “The Zone,” Atlanta.
Daunais, Walker Get Westwood One EVP – Regional Sales Stripes. Atlanta-based Jim Daunais and Dallas-based Tim Walker are appointed executive vice presidents in Westwood One‘s network sales division. Daunais’ responsibilities are in the southeast region – Walker’s duties are in the southwest. Westwood One president Steve Shaw comments, “Hot off the heels of promoting Kim Bryant to lead west coast sales, we are on an accelerated path to building an exceptional, preeminent sales organization. Jim and Tim are uniquely qualified to lead our southeast and southwest regions. Their respective abilities to manage, strategize, and effectively deliver client solutions will drive more revenue success across our platforms.” Daunais is “excited for the opportunity to continue” his more than 10-year Westwood One career, where he works “alongside Steve and the rest of our incredibly talented management team, and to build upon the company’s rich history as the leader of all things audio.” Walker states he is looking forward “to leading the southwest region and bringing integrated solutions to our clients and agencies.” It is a promotion for Daunais, who joined the company in 2004. Most recently, he was Westwood One’s senior vice president, sales and vice president of southeast sales. His prior background includes being an account executive for MLB‘s New York Mets. Walker is rejoining Westwood One. He spent the last three years as Cumulus Media‘s director of national sales for the southwest region. Prior to that, Walker was national sales manager for Cumulus-owned stations in Dallas and Houston; he had a similar title for CBS Radio Dallas; and he was a Westwood One account executive (2000 – 2002) in the company’s Dallas office.
John McConnell Named EVP at Workhouse Media. Radio management pro John McConnell is named executive vice president for talent and content management company Workhouse Media. In this role, McConnell will oversee Workhouse Media’s East Coast offices and he will serve in a new senior management role for the company. A longtime ABC Radio executive, McConnell has been managing his own firm for the past six years. Workhouse Media principal and CEO Paul B. Anderson comments, “John comes to Workhouse Media with a powerful combined background in programming, syndication and strategy. His track record is both broad and deep, and the industry recognizes his impeccable reputation for integrity and results.”
Odds & Sods. Today (1/20) begins Steve Deace‘s relationship with the USA Radio Networks. With the move from Genesis Communications Network, Deace’s program moves from an evening live airing (9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight) to live in afternoon drive, Eastern Time…..Following the path of New York’s Christian talk WMCA, New York, Salem Communications-owned KKMS, Minneapolis takes on “The Mission” brand. Salem rolled out “The Answer” as the brand for its news/talk stations and it appears likely most if not all of the company’s Christian talk stations will become “The Mission.”…..Tomorrow (1/21) marks the fifth anniversary of the internet program the Nicole Sandler show at radioornot.com. Sandler began her digital program after the demise of Air America Radio in 2010.
Non-Comms Rocking the Boat. For those interested in bold, new developments in music radio, check out Jeff McKay’s piece in our sister publication, RadioInfo, exploring the non-comm stations creating targeted-yet-daring rock and pop formats for hungry audiences. Many listeners still see public radio as either left-leaning news/talk or jazz- and classic music-oriented. But stations such as KCSN, Los Angeles; WXPN, Philadelphia; KCMP, Minneapolis; and KKXT, Dallas are bucking that trend and drawing in younger audiences. Read more here.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Resonates Throughout News/Talk Radio. As reported yesterday (1/19), news/talk radio hosts, programs, stations and networks buzzed with conversation inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – memorializing the birthdate of the slain civil rights leader of the turbulent 1960s. Shows covering the spectrum of political and ideological approaches including urban, progressive and conservative positions all found pertinent subject matter for discussion to commemorate the annual Federal holiday, lifting race relations to the most-talked-about topic of the day. Pictured here is WOLB, Baltimore morning legend Larry Young (third from right) at a ceremony in Baltimore held last week on the actual birthdate of the historic activist. Young – a longtime member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred – tells TALKERS,“One of my proudest moments was to have planted in 1985 the only MLK Jr. tree on state house property in the USA. On his actual birthdate on January 15 we did a re-dedication and I said, ‘King put before us a serious vision that we would be one nation under God and indivisibly one America.’ And I want to believe that even today I can still believe in his vision.”
State of the Union/Obama Tax Plan, ‘American Sniper’ Film, MLK Jr. Day/‘Selma’ Film, ISIS Violence/Two Japanese Hostages Held, 2016 Presidential Prospects, and NFL Conference Championships Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/19). This week’s State of the Union Address and President Obama’s expected announcement of his tax proposal; the political arguments surrounding the film “American Sniper”; the observation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and the concurrent release of the film “Selma”; the ongoing violence perpetrated by ISIS and its threat to execute two Japanese hostages; the potential candidates for president in 2016; and the weekend’s NFL conference championships were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Talk Radio Observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Although an official federal holiday, most talk radio personnel are working today and many are honoring or simply acknowledging the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work leading the civil rights movement of the 1960s. For example, the first hour of iHeartMedia superstar Sean Hannity’s national radio show is devoted to talking about the historic civil rights leader’s legacy and relevance to today’s headlines. Given the racial tensions brought about by recent high-profile cases involving fatal confrontations between police and African American men, this year’s observance of Dr. King’s birthday is even more relevant than in recent years. Sirius XM Satellite Radio “Urban View” host Karen Hunter says, “Every day I honor the legacy of Dr. King on my show. So every day we do something special to honor him. Today I will be playing snippets from a speech he gave at UCLA in 1965. I will also be talking about Selma. And I have already spoken to someone who marched today in New York to the UN.” African American news/talk hosts have a variety of perspectives on Dr. King. Charles Butler who hosts a daily syndicated show on Genesis Communications Network writes on his daily blog, “Today is the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and since 2008 I have conducted a show called ‘The Other Side of MLK,’ and on this eighth show I added several new perspectives. Dr. King evolved over the period he was actively involved in the civil rights movement…I have a very difficult time listening to people that use the sanitized and domesticated version of Dr. King, ‘my children would be judged by the content of their character…,’ while ignoring his call on America to end racism. Today, the prevalence of black high unemployment, income and health disparity, poor schools and environments, criminalization of black Americans, institutional racism, and systematic undermining of the attainment of the American Dream.” At Salem Communications’ secular news/talk stations, many hosts are devoting a segment or two to Martin Luther King. Salem SVP/spoken word format and Salem Radio Network Phil Boyce tells TALKERS magazine, “‘The Morning Answer’ in Los Angeles [KRLA] presented a great segment discussing the difference in the language and rhetoric of MLK vs the race baiters of today. I think conservative hosts are generally more appreciative of Dr. King now, as we have seen what others have said and done who are attempting to take his place.” Much of the commentary planned by hosts has been designed to specifically address their criticism of “so-called” civil rights leaders who have come after the late Dr. King – described to TALKERS by Cumulus heavyweight host Mark Levin as “people who exploit race by putting forth their own attitudes and wrongly use Dr. King’s good name to back up their own take and self-interests.” WFTL, Fort Lauderdale/Miami afternoon star Joyce Kaufman tells TALKERS, “I will be spending today’s show listening to excerpts of his speeches…asking listeners to weigh in on when and why the relations between the black community and the white community fell apart. Jews, for instance, natural allies, now arch enemies. Black pastors who have stopped preaching the gospel to preserve the first black President’s relationship. Would Dr. King have embraced Kwanzaa? I think not. He was a Baptist preacher.” Westwood One/WYD Media syndicated progressive opinion leader Thom Hartmann reports, “We did three hours on it today. The movie ‘Selma’ was perfectly timed, and clearly demonstrates the importance of citizens’ movements. From the Tea Party pushing Republicans to Occupy pushing Democrats; from John Quincy Adams leading the anti-slavery movement in the House to the Suffrage movement nationwide; from the labor movement (with the Ludlow massacre and the Flint Sit Down Strikes) to the gay rights movement – every time America has moved, it’s moved because of an informed, motivated, and activated populace. And the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the greatest teachers of that in modern times.” Fox News Radio syndicated liberal icon Alan Colmes tells TALKERS, “Today’s news cycle proves how prescient Martin Luther King, Jr. was. King, in his most controversial speech, ‘Beyond Vietnam,’ delivered at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, spoke these words:
‘This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind… I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.’”
Colmes concludes, “On our show, we’re are talking about the relationship between the Bible and the Koran, to show that no one religion is superior to another, that there are more similarities than differences, and that tolerance is a key tenet of our republic. That is how we are honoring the legacy of this revolutionary.” Joe Madison of Sirius XM Satellite Radio – consistently one of the most influential thought-leaders in talk radio on the subject of race relations and civil rights — shares, “We aired the results of an essay contest that asked young high school students to assess the political climate in the world today, analyzing the racial challenges that exist and to compare to Dr. King’s life and deeds.” Madison adds, “I actually spoke this morning in Tampa, Florida at the 35 annual Tampa Organization of Black Affairs Breakfast (I was their first speaker 35 years ago). I addressed the three-year gap between the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 and his assassination in 1968. I asked the question: ‘How would talk radio portray Dr. King?’ His last three years on earth, he alienated many of his allies and antagonized his enemies further. He was portrayed as an extremist and an arsonist as he waged war on poverty, racism and militarism. I suspect most talk radio would not be very supportive of Martin Luther King, Jr.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison responds to Madison’s last statement by telling him that “a number of conservative hosts interviewed for this story say they have been increasingly appreciating and respecting Dr. King as the years go by – especially when compared to some of his high-profile successors in the civil rights movement.” Madison fires back, “I wonder which King they respect? Certainly not the MLK that encouraged the redistribution of wealth, affirmative action and voting rights, especially Sections 4 and 5 which were recently struck down by the SCOTUS.”
Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg Sets New Roles for Hendrix, Stone, McLain. Several noteworthy personnel moves take place at Entercom-owned stations in Greenville-Spartanburg, a South Carolina cluster the company refers to as “Entercom Upstate.” For openers, rock WTPT “93.3 The Planet” and WROQ “Classic Rock 101.1″ operations manager/program director Mark Hendrix takes on additional duties as operations manager for talk WYRD-FM “Word 106.3,” as well as the sports simulcast of WORD-AM and WYRD-AM. He will continue to program WORD-AM and WYRD-AM, both branded as “ESPN Upstate.” He succeeds Bob McLain as OM for “Word 106.3″; however, McLain carries on as the station’s 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm talent and is named operations manager emeritus. Meanwhile, “Classic Rock 101.1″ assistant program director Jay D. Stone is boosted to program director. Stone continues as APD of “The Planet” and maintains his “Classic Rock 101.1″ 12:00 noon – 6:00 pm “The Stoneman” on-air shift. According to Entercom Greenville vice president and market manager Steve Sinicropi, “Mark Hendrix has done an outstanding job programming ‘Classic Rock 101.1′ and ’93.3 The Planet/WTPT-FM.’ He has coached ‘The Rise Guys’ on ‘The Planet’ to the top of many key morning demos. Hendrix will build on Bob McLain’s excellent work on ‘Word 106.3,’ developing stimulating local talk. I am also pleased that Bob will continue his very popular show. I am happy Jay D. Stone has been elevated to the well-deserved position of program director at ‘Classic Rock 101.1.’ He is the heart and soul of that station.” Hendrix comments, “I am thankful for the great opportunities that Entercom has afforded me over the years. I look forward to working with our talented staffs to deliver exceptional, locally focused programs to our upstate audiences.” McLain remarks, “Entercom Upstate has given me great opportunities to engage with listeners, discuss controversial and important issues, and establish a thought provoking radio brand.” Stone declares that, “Having the opportunity to head up the legendary call letters of WROQ is a big deal. All I can say is that, after working with the top-shelf staff at Entercom Upstate for the past 12 years, the winning tradition will continue at ‘Classic Rock 101.’” Hendrix has been with the company since August 2001, when he became program director of WTPT. McLain began his career at Winston-Salem’s WTOB. Stone was named music director of “Classic Rock 101.1″ in 2003, after holding similar duties at Des Moines classic rocker KGGO.
Marshall’s Multiple Roles with MacDonald Garber. Simultaneous with being named operations director for all MacDonald Garber Broadcasting AM stations, Greg Marshall is appointed general manager for the company’s Cadillac, Michigan cluster. President and chief executive officer Trish MacDonald Garber comments, “Greg’s vast experience with broadcasting and his great passion for it can only contribute to our continued success. As the current acting general manager in Cadillac, I am leaving Greg in capable hands with an upward trajectory that I know he and the team will capitalize on.” Marshall states, “I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with the great staff at the Cadillac stations and the AM radio stations in the company. I am looking forward to this amazing opportunity.” Among the stations in the Cadillac group are hot AC WLXV “Mix 96,” sports WKAD “93.7 FM The Ticket,” and talk WATT “Rush Radio 1240.” Over and above these two new duties, Marshall will continue doing his daily 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm talk show on the company’s WMKT “The Talk Station,” Traverse City-Petoskey, Michigan; the program will soon be simulcast on WATT as well.
Salem Re-Brands Christian Talk WMCA. As had been predicted based upon some recent domain name acquisitions by Salem Communications, Christian talk WMCA, New York – for the past 25 years called “New York’s Christian Talk” – takes on the new slogan “AM 570 The Mission.” The company put together a short video to highlight the charitable work done by the station and its listeners that underscores the reason for taking on the “Mission” moniker. You can view the video here.
Odds & Sods. A report in the Boston Globe by Chad Finn indicates current WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” midday personality Andy Gresh will exit the station soon. He co-hosts the program on the sports talk outlet with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak and hosts the pre- and post-game shows for Patriots football, for which WBZ-FM serves as flagship. Finn reports that Marc Bertrand of the PM drive “Felger and Massarotti” show will join Zolak on the midday show…..CBS RADIO’s Los Angeles all-newser KNX is presenting special programming this week surrounding the State of the Union Address. In addition to airing the address live at 6:00 pm PT, the station will present a special program on Wednesday (1/21) titled, “Healthcare Uncovered,” from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. The show will examine “the state of Obamacare as the Affordable Care Act enters its second year,” hosted by KNX anchor Tom Haule and chief investigative reporter Charles Feldman.
Bob Wilson: Former Bruins’ Radio Voice Passes. Rabid New England sports fans are known for embracing their professional sports franchises, as well as developing a fondness for those who call the games on radio. For well over two decades – including a 1971 – 1972 Stanley Cup-winning campaign – Bob Wilson was behind the radio microphone for the Boston Bruins. The Arlington, Massachusetts native, who retired in 1995, has passed away. Boston Bruins president – and former Bruins’ star player – Cam Neely comments, “For a generation of New England hockey fans, Bob’s legendary voice was synonymous with the Bruins. He will always be a part of our club’s history. Our thoughts are with [Wilson's widow] Nancy and their children during this difficult time.” Jack Edwards is the club’s play-by-play announcer on cable television’s NESN and he remarks that Wilson was “my greatest inspiration.” Entercom sports WEEI-FM, Boston personality/NESN Bruins host Dale Arnold states that Wilson was “one of the iconic sports voices of our time. He was a kind and classy gentleman – my hero.”Dave Goucher has been the team’s radio voice the past 15 seasons, but Goucher insists that Wilson “is the radio voice of the Bruins.” In 1987, Wilson received the Foster Hewitt memorial award, earning him a place in the broadcasters’ wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007. Wilson was at the TD Garden (home of the Bruins and the NBA‘s Boston Celtics) nearly four years ago (March 26, 2011) when the Bruins officially named the home radio facility “The Bob Wilson Radio Booth.” Bob Castellon (his real name) was 85.
Your Note to “Radio’s Best Friend” Couldn’t Hurt. One of the genuinely great people in the industry isn’t doing well. Just like giving a bowl of chicken soup to someone with a cold or the flu, sending a get-well wish to Art Vuolo certainly couldn’t hurt, and based on a message he posted today (Sunday, 1/18) on his Facebook page, it might go a long way in boosting the spirits of the man widely-regarded as “Radio’s Best Friend.” Coming off organizing yet another wildly successful Los Angeles radio get together, Vuolo underwent knee replacement surgery this past Tuesday (1/13), but he admits, “I hurt a lot. It is difficult for me to sit up in bed to type these words. Hoping I will feel better soon, but right now, my pain level is elevated. All prayers are welcomed.” One of radio’s greatest ambassadors and a countless times videographer of record, Vuolo is in room #154 of the Maple Manor Rehabilitation Center,31215 Novi Road, Novi, Michigan 48377.