Talk Radio/Media Industry News

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.

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.”

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; 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”; 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.

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.

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.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

| February 13, 2018

Report: The Daily Wire in Talks to Acquire Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. According to a report in The Daily Beast, the conservative news and commentary site The Daily Wire – operated by conservative media figure Ben Shapiro with backing from the East Texas billionaire Wilks family – is in talks with Glenn Beck to acquire his TheBlaze news and opinion site.  The piece by Betsy Woodruff and Lachlan Markay reports that TheBlaze did not respond to a request for comment but that Shapiro told them, “TheBlaze welcomed us to the space as allies from the beginning, and we’re always looking for ways to strengthen our partnerships with our allies.”  TheBlaze turns eight years old this year and of late has had to cut costs.  Reports indicate TheBlaze downsized its staff in 2017 in response to fiscal challenges.  Interestingly, the story says the Wilks family was pursuing a purchase of Breitbart but ran into a wall in that effort.  Shapiro has hosted and co-hosted talk radio shows, both at KRLA, Los Angeles as part of the morning show and at KTTH, Seattle as solo host.  Now, he hosts a podcast program available via The Daily Wire.

PPM Analysis: A Yearlong Look at Spoken Word.  Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents an analysis of how news/talk, all-news and sports talk radio performed over the course of 2017 based on 6+ data from Nielsen Audio. Kinosian’s report illustrates the high and low 6+ rating marks for stations in all three format categories: news/talk, all-news, and sports talk.  In the news/talk format, Entercom’s WTIC-AM, Hartford owned the largest swing – from a high of an 8.8 share in January 2017 to a low of 4.4 in August and the Holiday sweeps.  Entercom sports talker WIP, Philadelphia saw the widest swing in that format – achieving an 8 share in November after chalking up a 3.9 share in February.  Read the whole report here.

Special Screening of Guardian Angels Film Tonight at Cumulus’ Stage 17 in NYC.  There’s a new documentary film out that chronicles the Curtis Sliwa-founded Guardian Angels.  It’s called, VIGILANTE: The Incredible True Story of Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels, and Sliwa’s radio home – 77WABC – is hosting a special screening of the film at the Cumulus Media event space Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 tonight at 6:00 pm.  The screening of the film by David Wexler takes place on the 39th anniversary of Sliwa’s inaugural Guardian Angels Safety Patrol into the New York City subway system on February 13, 1979.  Known by their signature red berets, the Guardian Angels expanded from just 13 members in New York City to become an international phenomenon that continues in more than 140 cities in 14 countries.  Sliwa says, “The Documentary gives one an inside look into what it was like to live in New York City from 1979-1992 when crime, crack, and chaos were everywhere.  It was my baptism in hell, yet somehow I survived.”  Sliwa currently hosts the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show, “Curtis + Cosby,” with Rita Cosby on WABC.  In the photo above, Curtis Sliwa (center) is pictured with other Guardian Angels and an actor in a Robocop suit in “the early days” of the Angels.

TALKERS News Notes. Bakersfield market talk show host Inga Barks is joining a new, hyperlocal digital platform designed to serve Kern County, California.  Called Kern Cast, the platform’s studios are based at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame building.  Barks was most recently hosting a show on Alpha Media’s KNZR, Bakersfield but was let go in January in a budget-related move.  She also previously hosted a program on American General Media’s KERN, Bakersfield…..Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting flips WHKT, Portsmouth, Virginia from news/talk to Christian contemporary, due to revenue concerns.  The station had been airing a number of syndicated talk hosts – Salem Media’s Dennis Prager, Courtside’s Laura Ingraham, and Westwood One’s Mark Levin – as well as regional host John Fredericks (still heard on the company’s WPMH, Portsmouth)…..FOX Sports Radio reports that its total podcast listens for the network’s Monday through Friday lineup reached a milestone of 10.25 million across all platforms for the month of January, as measured by ART19.  The company says the latest benchmark is “the result of record growth across FOX Sports Radio’s weekday programming lineup, including: ‘The Herd with Colin Cowherd,’ ‘Outkick The Coverage with Clay Travis,’ the Doug Gottlieb show, ‘Steve Gorman SPORTS!,’ ‘JT ‘The Brick’ with Tomm Looney,’ the Jason Smith show with Mike Harmon, and the Ben Maller show.”  The company says most recent streaming results for FOX Sports Radio also showed impressive gains.  The network experienced a 20% year-to-year increase in December 2017, and each of the past four months (September through December) ranked as the most-listened-to months in FOX Sports Radio streaming history…..SiriusXM is planning to air a never-before-heard interview with late comedian Joan Rivers on its Entertainment Weekly Radio channel Thursday (2/15).  The special is being hosted by Dan Bucatinsky and “Will & Grace” co-creator Max Mutchnick and features PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle discussing the conversation.

Farley, Loudon, and Cooke Discuss Talk Radio Content on RT America.  Pictured above (from left to right) are frequent Fox News Channel guest Dr. Gina Loudon, consultant and RT America host Holland Cooke, and radio news pro Jim Farley on Cooke’s “The Big Picture” program discussing “Fake News + Fleeting Attention.”  Farley was an ABC and NBC News executive who also managed ratings and billing all-news radio giant WTOP, Washington and tells the viewers he “was inside the Acela corridor bubble.”  Dr. Loudon urges “committing at least 5% of news/talk consumption time to people who see things differently.”  See the show segment here.

The Trump Budget Plan, Trump-Russia Probe, Porter Exit Fallout, Syria-Israel Tensions, North Korea Nuclear Program, Trump Entitlement Reforms, Official Obama Portraits, PyeongChang Winter Games, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/12).  The details of the Trump budget that adds to the deficit, includes an infrastructure plan, and more money for the military; the Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russia agents; the White House fallout from the resignation of aide Rob Porter after allegations of domestic violence; tensions in Syria as Damascus warns Israel about further military strikes and Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict; President Trump’s charge that Russia has not been helpful in efforts to de-nuclearize North Korea; President Trump proposed overhauling the housing, food stamps and health care programs; reactions to the official portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama; 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 Seattle, Hubbard Radio appoints Gus Swanson to the marketing/promotions director position for adult contemporary KRWM “WARM 106.9.”  Swanson was most recently marketing director and event producer for CBS RADIO in Seattle.  Hubbard Seattle market manager Marc Kaye says, “We are so excited to have someone with Gus’s market and business experience join the great team at ‘WARM 106.9,’ it’s a very good day!”…..iHeartMedia announces the return of the “iHeartCountry Festival by AT&T” taking place on Saturday, May 5 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.  This is the fifth consecutive year for the festival and acts set to play this year include: Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Dustin Lynch, Cole Swindell, Maren Morris, Sugarland, Luke Combs, Billy Currington, Dan + Shay, Jon Pardi, and Brett Young, with more to be announced.   Premiere Networks syndicated morning personality Bobby Bones will again serve as MC.  iHeartMedia president of entertainment enterprises John Sykes states, “What makes this festival special is that it is the one night the A-list of country music comes together to perform live, collaborate with friends and spend time together as a family.  Everyone stays to support each other until the last band has walked off stage.”…..Cherry Creek Radio is agreeing to sell classic rock KLMR-FM and country KLMR-AM in Lamar, Colorado, plus oldies KBLJ-AM and country KTHN, in La Junta, Colorado to Aaron Leiker-owned 25-7 Media for an undisclosed sum.  Kalil & Co. is the exclusive broker.

Monday, February 12, 2018

| February 12, 2018

Beasley Media Group Reports Pro Forma Q4 Net Revenue Down 6.9%.  Due to the number of recent acquisitions, sales and asset swaps Beasley Media Group has been involved in, the company’s financial reports can be a bit confusing.  It is reporting a $4.8 million, or 9% year-over-year, increase in net revenue during the three months ended December 31, 2017.  That figure reflects the inclusion of stations acquired from Greater Media in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and New Jersey (announced in the summer of 2016), partially offset by the disposition of the Charlotte and Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville stations (to Entercom, announced in the fall of 2016) and strong non-recurring political advertising revenue recorded in the year ago fourth quarter.  But the 6.9% dip in net revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017 is pro forma and reflects the company’s legacy Beasley Broadcast Group operations, the Greater Media stations, and the recent acquisition of sports WBZ-FM, Boston (exchanged with Entercom for WMJX-FM, Boston and $12 million), while excluding the Charlotte and Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville stations and WMJX-FM, as if all transactions had been completed on January 1, 2016.  In a press release, CEO Caroline Beasley states, “Throughout 2017, we continued to actively manage our station portfolio to extract operating and financial synergies from the acquired Greater Media stations, while implementing our proven strategies across our platform, which are focused on delivering strong local programming, diversifying our operations, managing risk and improving financial results.  On a GAAP basis, fourth quarter net revenue rose 9.0% compared to the prior year, primarily reflecting the acquisitions and divestitures to our platform on a year-over-year basis.  Pro forma net revenues for the three months ended December 31, 2017 declined 6.9% compared to the prior year period, reflecting $3.9 million in non-recurring political advertising revenue and softer national advertising revenue. The year-over-year decline was partially offset by a 6.5%, or $3.5 million, reduction in pro forma station operating expenses. As a result, Beasley’s fourth quarter pro forma SOI declined 7.8% year over year while SOI margins were relatively flat compared to the prior year period…Looking ahead to 2018, we intend to continue our strategic priorities of realizing synergy targets, reducing debt and leverage, taking advantage of political revenue opportunities, improving top and bottom-line performance and returning capital to shareholders through our quarterly cash dividend. With enhanced opportunities to monetize our strong core programming and local brands, we remain confident in the radio industry and in Beasley’s growing broadcast and digital platform. We look forward to realizing the strategic benefits of the WBZ transaction in 2018 and remain confident that our ongoing initiatives to drive sales, productivity and efficiency across our platform, combined with prudent management of our capital structure, is a proven formula for sustained long term financial growth and the creation of shareholder value.”

Dennis Miller Back in the Westwood One Fold. Comic, TV star, “SNL” alum, and former radio talk show host Dennis Miller is back with Westwood One, this time delivering two daily, one-minute programs to affiliate stations.  Miller hosted a daily, midday talk show on WW1 for eight years.  Now, he returns to the company with commentaries that present “his idiosyncratic take on topical issues, the culture, and what Americans are talking about in two distinct 60-second programs, Monday through Friday.”  Westwood One EVP of News & Talk Bart Tessler says, “Dennis Miller is a multi-talented, multimedia comic icon and we are thrilled to have him back on Westwood One.  Even with all his success, ‘The Miller Minute’ may be the best format yet for Dennis to entertain and inform listeners with his humor and idiosyncratic style.  He can’t wait to re-engage with his radio audience, affiliates, and advertisers.”

WGR-AM , Buffalo to Roast Bills’ Fred Jackson.  Buffalo sports talker WGR-AM is honoring former Buffalo Bills player Fred Jackson at the 4th Annual WGR Celebrity Roast this Thursday (2/15).  The event is being hosted by WGR morning show host Howard Simon and will feature an all-star panel of former teammates, including: Eric Wood, Aaron Williams, Bryan Scott and Ryan Fitzpatrick, as well as Jackson’s own twin brother, Patrick Jackson.   Entercom Buffalo SVP and market manager Greg Ried states, “The city of Buffalo is incredibly passionate about their hometown Buffalo Bills and Fred Jackson is a respected and beloved figure in the community.  Jackson was a unanimous decision by the WGR team.  For his determination, compassion and drive, on and off the field, we are excited to honor him at this year’s WGR Celebrity Roast.”  The WGR Celebrity Roast has become a signature event in the Buffalo community.  Former WGR Celebrity Roast honorees include former Buffalo Sabres players Marty Biron, Mike Robitaille and Rob Ray, as well as former Buffalo Bills player Andre Reed.

TALKERS News Notes. Former New England Patriots tight end Christian Fauria – now one-third of the WEEI, Boston midday show with Glenn Ordway and Lou Merloni – was suspended from the Entercom station for a week and issued an apology after a bit aired in which Fauria used a stereotypical Asian accent to imitate sports agent Don Yee.  During the bit, Fauria was reading phony texts purported to be from Yee to Boston Herald sportswriter Ron Borges regarding Tom Brady’s contract situation with the Patriots…..In Philadelphia, “SportsTalk 94WIP” personality (and former Eagles player) Jon Ritchie was off the air last Friday (2/9) after being arrested for DUI and simple assault.  According to Philly.com, Ritchie was arrested early Friday morning, hours after the parade in Philly celebrating the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory.  The paper does not explain the circumstances surrounding Ritchie’s arrest.  Ritchie co-hosts the midday show with Joe DeCamara…..Dayton sports talk station WING-AM has a new program director as Justin Kinner is promoted from the interim PD position.  Alpha Media says that Kinner previously worked as the afternoon drive host at WING-AM.  He also has experience as an account executive in the market.  Alpha Media Dayton OM Bo Matthews comments, “It was clear from the moment I arrived that Justin was the guy to become the new PD of WING-AM.  I wish I could bottle up his passion and excitement and pass it around.”…..Twin Cities sports media figure Patrick Reusse is leaving KSTP-AM’s “Saturday Morning Sports Talk” program that he’s been co-hosting with Judd Zulgad.  His role on the program will be taken over by KSTP Vikings reporter Matthew Coller.  Reusse – who also writes for the Minneapolis Star Tribune – continues to host afternoon drive and the one-hour “SportsTalk” show he co-hosts with Joe Soucheray at 3:00 pm on the Hubbard Brodcasting station.

Rob Porter Resignation/#MeToo Movement, Trump-Russia Probe, Dow Selloff, North Korea Diplomatic Overtures, Iranian Drone Case, PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend.  The aftermath of the resignation of White House aide Rob Porter over allegations of domestic violence and President Trump’s Tweet that the #MeToo movement is ruining careers; the Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the big Wall Street selloff that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average lose more than 2,000 points; North Korea’s use of the Olympic games for diplomatic overtures and criticism of the America media’s “fawning” coverage of Kim Jong Un’s sister’s appearance at the Olympic Games; Israel’s shooting down of an Iranian drone modeled after a U.S. drone Iran captured several years ago; the athletic events at the Winter Olympics; and NBA action 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 Birmingham, Cumulus Media appoints Phillip March program director for urban AC WUHT “Hot 107.7.”  He was previously director of urban programming for Alpha Media’s Louisville, Kentucky stations.  Cumulus Media Birmingham VP and market manager David Walls says, “We are elated that Phillip is joining our team.  He brings experience, passion, knowledge and leadership to our team.  He is a true leader and an outstanding teacher.  It is a huge win for Cumulus Birmingham and for our community as well.”…..Program director Lauren MacLeash exits Entercom’s country KMNB, Minneapolis “BUZ’N” after a stint of more than three years with the former CBS RADIO cluster.  The company is beginning a search for her replacement…..Beasley Media Group inks Terrie Carr to a multi-year deal to continue serving as program director and midday personality at WDHA-FM, Dover, New Jersey.  Carr was elevated to program director last summer.  She says, “I am both energized and honored to continue my career with my Beasley and WDHA family and for the opportunity to help lead the greatest air staff a person could ask for.  The challenges, new pathways to technology, and sheer madness of our business keep me inspired beyond my wildest dreams every day!”…..Keith Barton is succeeding Dave Paulus as general manager for Max Media’s Norfolk cluster…..Curtis Media announces Max Miller and Amy Kay are teaming up for the “Max & Amy in the Morning” program on hot AC WMGV, Greenville-New Bern “V103.3.”  Their program replaces the syndicated “Kidd Kraddick Morning Show.”