Talk Radio/Media Industry News
Sarasota Talk Station Owner Says, “AM Radio Is the Future of Radio!” Time and time again, the question is asked, “What does the future hold for AM radio?” Articles are written with predictions of AM’s demise due to the lack of interest of the “Millennials,” or how internet and satellite radio will make it almost impossible for AM to compete in such a fickle industry. While these predictions seem to make sense to the untrained ear, WSRQ, Sarasota owner/GM Susan Nilon writes, “It reminds me of a time several decades earlier when experts attributed the demise of movie theaters due to the advent of the video cassette recorder. Or the slow death of vinyl records, due to the portability and popularity of the compact disc. Well, here we are 30 years later, and the US and Canada box office revenue in 2013 was $10.9 billion with 68% of the population in attendance and ‘vinyl sales hit their highest level since at least 1991, with six million units sold’ according to industry data. While it’s fun and sometimes smart to try to predict the future, if these ‘predictions’ impact the decision makers of this industry by encouraging them to enter into a self-fulfilling prophecy of AM radio, then they are not only short-sighted, but are foolish as well.” Nilon goes on to provide a solution to avoid the danger of this negative syndrome in a new article posted today (8/28) in TALKERS. To read it, please click here.
New Challenge for Dan Snyder’s “Redskins” Problem. As you know, the critics of the NFL’s Washington Redskins team name are getting more persistent but now a George Washington University professor is vowing to challenge the FCC-granted licenses of radio outlets that carry Redskins football play-by-play. In a piece in Broadcasting & Cable by John Eggerton, professor John Banzhaf lays out a laundry list of tactics – starting with challenging the licenses of stations owned by Dan Snyder’s Red Zebra Broadcasting that carry Washington football – to force the name change. Banzhaf tells B&C/Multichannel News, “One could argue by analogy to obscenities (including even fleeting ones), to hate speech, to profanity (‘including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance’), to the Drug Lyrics Policy, or more generally that using racist derogatory words on the air when it isn’t necessary isn’t consistent with the legal requirement to operate in the ‘public interest, convenience, and necessity.’” It’s not difficult to imagine the arguments that could be made in court surrounding many of Banzhaf’s potential tactics and most raise the issue of the FCC getting involved in regulating content beyond obscenity. Read the entire piece here.
WSCR, Chicago Fills Dan McNeil’s Shoes with Former Bear Patrick Mannelly. The CBS RADIO sports talk station didn’t take long to find a partner for midday personality Matt Spiegel after contract talks finally ended with longtime WSCR personality Dan McNeil. Recently retired Chicago Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly will join Spiegel for “The Spiegel and Mannelly Show, effective September 2. In a press release, “The Score” program director Mitch Rosen says, “For Mannelly to join our team just a couple months removed from playing for the Bears and the NFL is what makes this work so well. His insight, opinions and energy will make this a terrific Chicago sports radio show. Spiegel and Mannelly bring a great mix of intelligent sports content and insider knowledge to our team.”
Jeff Zito Named Afternoon Personality at Fort Myers Sports Talker. Market pro Jeff Zito – who is well known for his work with former partner Bob Garrett on the “Zito and Garrett” show that aired on crosstown talk WXRK and rock WJBX – is joining Sun Broadcasting’s sports talk duo WFWN, Fort Myers/WNOG, Naples “1240/1270 The Fan” to host the afternoon drive show. Other changes at the station include the addition of DirecTV/Fox Sports Radio’s Dan Patrick in late mornings and CBS Sports Radio Network programming in the evenings. Program director Joseph Lopez says, “I am very excited for the new additions to ‘The Fan!’ I honestly feel with [morning host] Thom Abraham and Jeff giving the community their local takes plus national voices as well respected as Dan Patrick and Jim Rome, this makes for the best sports lineup Southwest Florida has ever seen.”
Lineup Changes at Hubbard’s WFED, Washington. A new role is created for current morning drive co-host Emily Kopp at Hubbard Radio’s WFED, Washington “Federal News Radio.” Kopp will leave her role alongside morning host Tom Temin to begin serving as a full-time reporter for the station’s digital and radio operations, effective September 2. As such she will contribute to the morning program and will be featured on the Francis Rose-hosted “In-Depth” program. At the same time, current morning digital writer/editor Shefali Kapadia becomes producer of the morning show and the station will hire a new digital writer to fill her current position. WFED program director Lisa Wolfe states, “Emily has quite a bit of expertise that we can now take full advantage of. She will become our special correspondent at the intersection of radio and digital news. Her reporting, writing and video skills will help enhance the efforts of the entire organization.”
Klonk Chosen as Connoisseur Connecticut Promotions Chief. Former classic rock WCCC, Hartford promotion director and on-air talent Klonk is appointed promotion director for Connoisseur Media Connecticut. Regional operations manager Keith Dakin observes that, “Klonk not only has strong name recognition in the market, but has the experience and knowledge of this area that these stations truly need. She will be an immediate asset as we continue to redefine our stations.” Klonk states, “I am very excited to start the next chapter of my radio career at such a great station and company. I’m very grateful for this great opportunity that Connoisseur Connecticut has given me; it is an honor to be a part of this fantastic team.” Klonk – who begins her new assignment next Tuesday (9/2) – spent over 10 years at WCCC. When Educational Media Foundation acquired WCCC from Marlin Broadcasting the first of this month (8/1), it transitioned the station to its contemporary Christian K-LOVE format. Connoisseur Media Connecticut consists of WDRC-AM “The Talk of Connecticut,” Hartford; classic hits WDRC-FM, Hartford; talk WMMW, Meriden; talk WSNG, Torrington; and talk WWCO, Waterbury.
Portland Media Deal to Give Thom Hartmann and Carl Wolfson Better Market Coverage. After the demise two years ago of progressive talker KPOJ, Portland, fans of personalities such as local host Carl Wolfson and national figure Thom Hartmann were relegated to hearing them online via XRAY.fm or on 7-watt low power FM KXRY. Now, Willamette Week reports a deal with MetroEast Community Media will give the two personalities more coverage as they will also be heard on translator K296FT at 107.1 which covers more of the metro – especially the southwestern suburbs. The deal will be fully consummated this fall and will create a non-commercial trifecta that will include talk, news and music.
Odds & Sods. A new channel is debuting on SiriusXM as the satcaster and the Turner Broadcasting-owned Bleacher Report agree to program a new sports destination. In a statement, SiriusXM says Bleacher Report is “the leading digital destination for team-specific sports content and real-time event coverage and is one of the fastest-growing digital properties in the U.S.” SiriusXM began airing a daily Bleacher Report-branded show in 2013 and now expands to give it a full channel of its own…..Fans of Western Michigan University sports will still be able to hear play-by-play on Midwest Communications stations as the school and the company have extended their deal in the Kalamazoo market that will have alternative WZOX serve as the flagship for football, men’s basketball and hockey…..The Philadelphia Eagles and CBS RADIO‘s “SportsRadio 94WIP” are announcing the annual Eagles Radiothon hits the airwaves at 6:00 am on Tuesday, September 2 and closes on Thursday, September 4 at 6:00 pm. Fans will be able to bid on exclusive sports and entertainment prizes with many involving their favorite Eagles players and “SportsRadio 94WIP” personalities. All proceeds benefit Eagles Youth Partnership’s vital health and education programs that serve over 50,000 low-income children in the area.
The Conclave Announces Dates, Tuition for November Conference. The 39th annual Conclave Learning Conference will be held November 14-15, 2014 at the Crown Plaza Hotel Airport in Minneapolis, and is presented in partnership with the Minnesota Broadcasters Association (MBA). The Conclave announces that the deadline to save $50 on early bird registration for the event is August 31. After that, registration jumps from $249 to $299. To register, visit theconclave.com.
Obama Climate Change Ploy, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, ISIS Campaigns/U.S. Military Policy in Iraq and Syria, Michael Brown Death Aftermath, Burger King Leaving America Controversy, Ebola Threat, Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Race, and ESPN’s Michael Sam Shower Story Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/27). Reports that President Obama plans to skirt the Senate for a global climate change treaty; new indications Russia is backing Ukrainian rebels with military force; the ISIS campaigns and U.S. military policy in Iraq and Syria; talk about race relations in America and police brutality against minorities in the wake of the Michael Brown death in Ferguson, Missouri; controversy over Burger King’s plans to merge with Tim Horton’s and avoid the U.S. corporate tax rate; the ongoing threat of an Ebola pandemic; the looming mid-term elections and chatter about the frontrunners in the 2016 presidential race; and ESPN’s apology for its story about openly gay NFL player Michael Sam’s showering habits were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Suspends Hank Bauer for One Broadcast. After making an anti-Semitic joke during the San Diego Chargers-San Francisco 49ers pre-season game, Clear Channel is suspending radio color man and former Charger Hank Bauer for the final pre-season game tomorrow evening. Chargers play-by-play airs on CC’s rock KIOZ and sports KLSD. During the broadcast, noting that fans in the expensive seats were leaving the game early, Bauer’s partner Josh Lewin said he would stay for the entire game if he had those seats. Bauer then quipped, “But then again you know how copper wire was invented? Somebody dropped a penny between Josh and his family member.” Bauer later posted an apology on Twitter, stating, “I made a hurtful insinuation that I regret and I would like to express how sorry I am. My poor choice of words were unfortunately open for negative interpretation, please know it was never my intention to offend any of my listeners. I hope you accept my apology.”
Paul Ryan to Guest Host Sean Hannity Show August 28. In a rare example of a sitting member of Congress occupying the host chair for Sean Hannity on his Premiere Networks nationally syndicated radio show, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) – and former vice presidential candidate – will serve as guest host Thursday, August 28. Premiere Networks says in a statement that Ryan will “weigh in on ISIS, the Ferguson tragedy, slain American journalist James Foley, and why Burger King should move to Canada.”
Chad Doing Joins KGMZ, San Francisco. After years at Alpha Media’s KXTG-AM, Portland, sports talk personality Chad Doing is lined up to become part of the air staff at Entercom’s KGMZ, San Francisco “95.7 The Game.” The station isn’t announcing a specific role for Doing yet, but station PD Jason Barrett comments, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring Chad on to our team. When you listen to Chad host a talk show, you can’t help but notice his passion, honesty and high energy. He comes across as a genuine guy who truly loves sports but more importantly, you sense that he loves to connect with his audience. I’m looking forward to getting Chad settled in and utilizing his abilities to help grow our radio station in the future.”
Clay Travis to Exit WGFX-FM, Nashville. After failing to come to terms on a contract renewal, Clay Travis will exit the “3HL” show on Cumulus Media’s sports talk WGFX-FM, Nashville after tomorrow’s program. The show will continue with Blaine Bishop and Brent Dougherty. Travis writes on his Fox Sports Outkick the Coverage blog that he wanted to remain with the station but that corporate would only approve a $5,000 raise. He’ll continue to write for Outkick the Coverage and appear on Fox Sports TV.
Deal for Statesboro, Georgia Stations Closes. According to the Statesboro Herald, the $600,000 deal that has six stations in the market changing hands has closed. Neal Ardman is operating Radio Statesboro, Inc. and will acquire the stations from Georgia Eagle Media. That company will retain ownership of the towers which will be leased to Radio Statesboro. The stations include: adult contemporary WPMX-FM “Eagle 102.9,” country WHKN, news/talk WMCD-FM, classic rock WZBX, news/talk WWNS and sports talk WPTB. According to the story, the formats on WWNS and WPTB will flip in the near future and Radio Statesboro plans to drop classic rock on WZBX and go CHR.
Radio Show Sets “Magic of Radio” Session. Renowned programmer/WCBS-FM, New York wakeup talent Scott Shannon, Cumulus Media syndicated morning drivers Bob (Kevoian) & Tom (Griswold), and Westwood One consumer expert Clark Howard will discuss ways that their fellow on-air personalities can effectively impact listeners in a positive manner. The four noted talents will share their opinions at next month’s (9/10 – 12) Radio Show in Indianapolis in a Gary Berkowitz-moderated session, “The Magic – Radio’s Storytellers.” Also on the agenda is the (Friday) 9/12 “Programming Masters Series,” which addresses the effect of the multi-platform media environment on radio programmers. Panelists will include Marilu Henner; ABC News Radio vice president and general manager Steve Jones; Howard Cogan (the voice of Jack-FM); Kane; and HOCO Productions and The Blaze Radio Network vice president of programming Dom Theodore. The Radio Show is produced by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB)and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
Michael Brown Death Aftermath, American ISIS Fighter Killed, U.S. Military Policy in Iraq and Syria, Mid-Term Elections, Obama Climate Change Deal, Lois Lerner Emails Controversy, and IMF’s Lagarde Under Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/26). The aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown; the death of American Douglas MacArthur McCain killed in Syria while fighting for ISIS; the Obama Administration’s military policy in Iraq and Syria; the looming mid-term elections; President Obama’s reported plan to skirt the U.S. Senate for a global climate change treaty; new information about the status of Lois Lerner’s IRS emails; and investigation of IMF chief Christine Lagarde on fraud charges were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Ronn Owens Goes Public with Parkinson’s Diagnosis. Longtime KGO, San Francisco talk personality Ronn Owens recently went public with the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease that he received in 2001. He tells the San Francisco Chronicle he held off on announcing his condition because he didn’t want people feeling sorry for him and didn’t want to be identified by his illness. Owens tells the Chronicle’s David Wiegand he’s been managing the disease with medications since his diagnosis but felt the time was right for letting his listeners know about it. “I felt it was important to tell people that you can have it like I have for 12 ½ years and not be severely impacted by it. It’s possible, and it’s not a death sentence.” The 68-year-old Owens sounds as though he has no plans to retire from radio if the station still wants him. Read the entire piece here.
CBS RADIO and Townsquare Media Partner on new Michigan News Network. The new venture will roll out September 2 on 20 affiliate stations. Both companies announce that the new Michigan News Network will provide affiliated stations across the state with news, sports and other local content produced by CBS RADIO stations WWJ, Detroit “Newsradio 950” and WXYT-FM, “97.1 The Ticket.” The service offered will include top-of-the-hour broadcasts weekdays from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm and 60-second sports updates three times per day during the same time period. Townsquare Media will serve as the exclusive syndication partner and manage affiliate relationships. CBS RADIO president and CEO Dan Mason states, “CBS RADIO’s Detroit stations have served as the authoritative voice of the community for many years, establishing themselves among the market’s most credible brands and news sources. We are excited to be working with Townsquare to distribute our award-winning programming to listeners across the entire state of Michigan, while also realizing the highest value for our content.”
Martha Zoller to Leave Talk Radio Biz for Political Campaign Gig. After stepping away from the talk radio business a couple of years ago to run for office herself (an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress), Georgia talk radio personality Martha Zoller is again leaving the radio industry to join David Perdue’s U.S. Senate campaign. She tells TALKERS that she’s been offered a post in which she’ll be doing surrogate work, training surrogates and messaging as well as focusing on engagement of women and minorities for Perdue’s campaign. Zoller has been co-hosting the “Zoller & Bryant” morning drive show (with news director Tim Bryant) on WGAU, Athens, Georgia as well as in other parts of the state via the Georgia News Network. She says she will continue to write for her zpolitics.com site while working for Perdue’s campaign.
Jason Wolfe Named to Executive Post with Financial Exchange Radio Network. Longtime WEEI and WRKO, Boston programmer Jason Wolfe joins The Financial Exchange Radio Network as chief media and marketing strategist. The network syndicates the WRKO, Boston-based program “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong (pictured below at right) and Kim Carrigan (left)” heard on eight other affiliate stations around New England. Armstrong is president and CEO of the network. In this new role, Wolfe will be in charge of building the brand and expanding the reach of the program in addition to developing new marketing and business partnerships that expose the show to a much larger audience. Wolfe has also been working with former WEEI personality Glenn Ordway as chief content officer for Ordway’s Sportstalkboston.com and will continue in that position. Wolfe comments, “I’m thrilled to be able to work more directly with Barry, to build on what is already a very successful show. I’m privileged to have developed strong relationships with all of the major radio operators across the country and I’m extremely confident that as our discussions continue we’ll be able to expand the reach of this program.” Armstrong adds, “Jason has been working with us as a consultant for several months and has been doing a great job in getting ‘The Financial Exchange’ on additional radio stations. I know that he will build on that success in his new role as our new chief media and marketing strategist.”
Lesson from Napa: Be Prepared for that 3:00 am Telephone Call and Avoid Nasty Pranks While at It. No doubt you remember “it’s three am – and the phone rings…” from a 2008 Clinton for President political ad – arguably the most enduring line from that campaign. And it’s a question broadcasters need to answer BEFORE bad things happen…because bad things tend to happen at the worst possible time. Like 3:20 am PT this past Sunday…when the earth in and around Napa County, California shook like it hadn’t shaken in almost 25 years. At 3:20 am at most stations outside the largest markets – and even at some of the bigs, too – the programming likely is automated, or live via satellite. If anyone actually IS home, they are likely to be the lowest-paid, least-experienced people on the payroll. And that’s OK…we’ve all been there. But it’s only OK if plans are in place to help those folks deal with breaking news when senior managers, more experienced hands – and a full crew – aren’t around to help. If you’re a California station manager, you’ve got a quake plan that takes your staff step-by-step through operations and internal notification, programming and commercial adjustments, and continuous coverage ground rules. You’ve built comprehensive lists of key contacts in local, regional and state government; public and private disaster response groups; academic experts. And you’ve got a network news affiliation to back you up. Because at the end of the day, you’ve got to be fast. You have to be comprehensive. And most of all, you have to be right. In a must-read, informative new piece posted today (8/25) in TALKERS, ABC Television Network director of business continuity and industry expert on emergency preparedness Howard B. Price outlines everything a radio station should do to be ready for an earthquake such as the one that rocked Napa. He also lists things to help you avoid those horrific and embarrassing “pranks” that often accompany fast-breaking news events whereby imposters claiming to be officials get on the air and disrupt the decorum with nasty “gotcha” outbursts. To read the entire article, please click here.
The Best Talk Station Ever: What the Radio Industry Can Learn from a Truly Special News/Talk Operation. Seasoned radio business pro, Bill Brady, president/CEO of South Florida-based media investment firm, Futures & Options, Inc., serves up a fascinating look at one specific radio station that he says should be studied as the “best news/talk radio station, ever.” Wonder what it is? Hint: It existed in the past and proved there can be a lot more to news/talk radio than just one political point of view. Another hint: It had conservative, liberal, lifestyle, consumer advice, sports and art & entertainment elements delivered by legendary hosts who were at the top of their game and it sounded like no other station in the nation. Oh yes, by today’s standards, it also had extraordinarily high ratings Want to find out more? Read Brady’s entire piece by clicking here.
Host Rick Tryon Ends Political Show on KINX, Great Falls. According to a story in the Great Falls Tribune, Rick Tryon is ending his daily one-hour political talk show, citing the difficulty of making it financially feasible. Tryon brokers the “Politics Montana with Rick Tryon” program which consists of him interviewing opinion leaders about political issues. Tryon tells the paper the listeners have been good to the show but it’s time consuming and he’s ready to dedicate energy to other interests. Tryon’s last program will be Wednesday (8/27).
More TALKERS Career Moves. After being unceremoniously let go by longtime employer NPR back in 2004, former “Morning Edition” host Bob Edwards landed at Sirius. Now, 10 years later Edwards is leaving SiriusXM as the satcaster is cancelling his program. SiriusXM has not commented publicly on the move but Politico’s Dylan Byers reports the last show will air September 26…..Louisiana talk show host Jim Engster is taking his eponymous talk show from public outlet WRKF, Baton Rouge to Guaranty Broadcasting’s commercial outlet WBRP, Baton Rouge beginning in November. Engster will move from a one-hour morning program to a two-hour afternoon drive show.
Your Podcast Format. Are you serious about making your podcast stand out from the literally millions of podcasts available on the Internet? As a professional talk show host you probably are already doing some type of on-demand programming, but are you conscious of the program’s format? Media consultant Holland Cooke writes that basic radio formatics apply but there is a difference between an AM/FM talk show and a podcast and your execution should reflect the difference. Cooke says you need to understand how users are consuming your podcast and design the show accordingly. Read his entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Entertainment pro Gary Alan is currently available to handle fill-in work. Alan, a South Florida native who’s worked at such signals as WAXY, Miami, says his unique style easily allows him to navigate through politics, sports, entertainment, and today’s social issues with wit and a sense of humor. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phoned at 407-960-3663…..The regularly scheduled “Ask the Mayor” show on CBS RADIO’s KNX, Los Angeles returns Thursday (8/28) as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti spends an hour with KNX listeners from 10:00 am to 11:00 am fielding calls and answering emailed and Tweeted questions. KNX anchor Tom Haule hosts the program that airs about every six weeks…..Yahoo! Sports Radio adds “Sports Kings’ NFL Weekly Countdown” to its weekend lineup. The show debuts Saturday at 7:00 am ET featuring MeanGene “The Sports Machine” and sports host Ronnie Brooks.
Wachs and Smiley on Vegas TV. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs (right), poses for a selfie with fellow syndicated radio personality and comic Rickey Smiley (left) at the studios of KVVU-TV, Las Vegas “FOX 5.” Dr. Wachs appeared on the “MORE” program to discuss nurse practitioners taking over doctors’ duties and Smiley was there to promote his show at the Orleans Theater in Las Vegas last Friday night.
Ferguson Fallout/Michael Brown Funeral, Obama’s Relationship with Fellow Democrats/Mid Term Elections, Napa Earthquake, U.S. Iraq and Syria Military Policy, Ice Bucket Challenge, Russia-Ukraine Tensions, and VMA Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/25). The funeral of Michael Brown and the fallout from his death at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri police; the looming mid-term elections and chatter about the strained relationships between President Obama and fellow Democrats; the Napa, California earthquake and talk of the future “big one” for California; the military policy of the Obama Administration with regard to military involvement in Iraq and Syria; the ice bucket challenge phenomenon; the military tensions between Russia and Ukraine; and Sunday’s VMA Awards show were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (8/25).
Local Radio Responds to Napa Earthquake. The most severe earthquake to hit Northern California in 25 years registered a 6.0 and was centered in Napa, California on Sunday morning. Local media responded and – although knocked off the air for about 30 minutes — Wine Country Broadcasting’s news/talk KVON, Napa (and sister hot AC KVYN, St. Helena) did return to the air to serve the region. Farther south in San Francisco, sources tell TALKERS magazine that local television went wall-to-wall with its coverage. As for radio, KSFO weekend personality Ethan Bearman says that competition KCBS-AM covered it “like a quality news network” while sister news/talk KGO covered the event and took calls until San Francisco 49ers football began. Bearman says, “I had my producer, Leigh Wolf, toss aside what we had planned. We started the show interviewing a rep from PG&E about power and gas in Napa, took a couple of callers, then interviewed Ross Stein, a geophysicist from the USGS about earthquakes and this one in particular. We had more callers sharing stories, then an interview with CHP officer Daniel Hill about safety and road closures, followed by more callers sharing stories. We also interviewed Yountville councillor Richard Hall about the damage in his town up the road from Napa, then many more callers.” Bearman tells TALKERS that what KSFO was able to do was use its two-way nature to do what TV couldn’t. “TV doesn’t provide more than a 10-minute loop. Straight news on KCBS-AM is just talking to the listener while we provided that human contact, that outlet of expression, that connection with others. It was really powerful and received a lot of positive feedback.”
Beck’s TheBlaze Negotiated with CNN for HLN Partnership. But, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal by Keach Hagey, the two sides could not come to an agreement on terms. Hagey’s report states that CNN executives recently held talks with agents from Glenn Beck‘s TheBlaze about a partnership that would change the programming on the struggling HLN channel that would have seen TheBlaze content replace the current shows on HLN. It’s being reported that CNN is in talks with Vice Media about a similar partnership. The WSJ reports that HLN’s total viewership has declined 22% for the season to date, and dipped 19% in the 18 to 49 demo, based on Nielsen numbers.
KFWB Accelerates Talk-to Sports Transition. Los Angeles talker KFWB was expected to conduct its transition to all-sports early next month; however, this past Sunday at midnight, CBS Sports Radio Network programming took over the 980 AM dial position. Word quickly spread and there was plenty of activity/reaction on social media. Included in the commentary are two classy postings from people who have worked at KFWB. On-air talent Lisa Osborne writes on her Facebook page: “It is KFWB’s last weekday as a news/talk station – format flip next week to all sports. Tune in if you can today to this heritage news station. If you grew up in LA, you can sing the jingle – that is what everyone does when they find out I work here. I’ve worked with some real pros here including: Penny Griego, Phil Hulett, Bret Lewis, Rhonda Kramer, Ken Jeffries, Elaine Perkins, Bill Nesbitt, Paul Lowe, Michael Shappee, Maggie McKay, Philip Luther Nash, Michael Knight, Russ Spears, Donna Page, Andy Ludlum, Joe Guimond, Cyndee Maxwell, and plenty more. Iconic Los Angeles traffic reporter Kramer comments, that she was “only 26 years old” when she began reporting traffic on the station. “It has always been home and I have worked with some of the most talented individuals in the news broadcast business. It has been an honor to work with pros like Dan Avey, Charlie Brailer, Don Hurbert, Bob Howard, John Brooks Jack Popejoy, Judy Ford, Andy Ludlum, and most recently, Maggie McKay, Michael Shappee, Lisa Osborne, Penny Griego and Phil Hulett. Working here has been extremely rewarding, affording me the opportunity to win 18 Golden Mikes. I am proud of my work on KFWB and have made friends here who will be in my life forever. I wish nothing but the best for the new sports format. Thanks KFWB for the wonderful memories. You will always be a part of me.” Quite a few industry personnel who did not work at the station were partisans. “I was your biggest fan,” New Normal entrepreneur/talk host Tom Leykis writes. “Seriously. I grew up in New York listening to ’1010 WINS.’ When I came to live in LA in the 1980s, KFWB, clearly modeled after WINS, became my new best friend…As a lifelong radio guy, I wanted to let you all know that, for me, you all were the best.” On one hand, advanced timing of the format flip is a bit of a surprise, yet on the other, there is considerable logic to it. The station has already secured a program director – Owen Murphy (from Seattle) – and it has cleared CBS Sports Radio programming. That lineup includes a well-known local quantity, Jim Rome, who will be heard 9:00 am – 12:00 noon. One more major piece to be added though is a locally originated morning show, which will likely debut in two weeks (Monday, 9/8). A format change was practically inevitable, as the station’s 6+ PPM shares thus far in calendar year 2014 have topped out at .3 (January, February, and May) and included .2 showings in March, April, June, and July. KFWB’s July ranking was #42. One year ago (July 2013), it ranked #39 (.5), still significantly lower from its all-news days. It actually would be ironic (or perhaps purposefully intended) if a morning show is installed September 8, as that will mark the five-year anniversary KFWB switched from all-news to all-talk. When CBS Corporation acquired KCAL-TV, Los Angeles (Channel 9) in 2002 (to go along with KCBS-TV Channel 2), it put them over the limit of radio and television properties in the same market. Three years ago, CBS Radio placed KFWB into a Diane Sutter-headed trust, under the name The KFWB Asset Trust. Director of news programming at CBS Radio Los Angeles’ all-news KNX – and formerly (and simultaneously) holding that same title for KFWB – Andy Ludlum posts on his Facebook page, “After 46 years of delivering news to the people of Southern California, the news watch has stopped for KFWB. I have been fortunate to have spent the past 25 years of my life working there with some of the most talented people to ever open a microphone or write a news story.” Ludlum posted the photo above showing the final minute of the final full newscast with Maggie McKay (right), Ted Sobel (center), and Michael Knight (left).
KTAR-FM, Phoenix Re-Brands; Tweaks Programming. The Bonneville news/talk station announces it is re-branding at the same time it is making programming changes and unveiling its new website designed specifically for mobile users. The station is now “KTAR News…on 92.3 FM and KTAR.com.” Bonneville Phoenix market manager Scott Sutherland states, “This re-brand and website re-launch lets the community know that our commitment to live and local news has never been stronger. And it also signals that KTAR News is a multi-platform media brand that distributes audio news and talk show content on FM Radio, KTAR.com and the KTAR App, as well as written, audio and video story content online across all devices.” Programming changes include more news content in middays with “Arizona’s Noon News and Karie Dozer” (from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm) and an earlier start (2:00 pm) for afternoon drive team Mac and Gaydos. Bonneville Phoenix VP of content and operations Ryan Hatch comments, “Our ‘mobile-first’ design will deliver a powerful, multi-media user experience on smartphones, where our online audience continues to migrate. Using the very latest technologies, the site also seamlessly adapts to tablets and desktops to deliver the same quality experience across all platforms.”
NRG Media, Woodward in Four-Station Transaction. The price for the latest NRG Media purchase – the quartet of Woodward Communications facilities in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa – is $3.55 million. NRG Media chief executive officer Mary Quass is “delighted to have the opportunity” to add the stations to her company’s platform. “We continue to look for great radio properties that are located in the Midwest and are an integral part of the communities they serve,” she comments. “Regarding NRG, Woodward Communications president and chief executive officer Tom Woodward states, “It is a well-known, community-oriented radio broadcast company with a great Midwestern culture and presence. Our strategic plans and related growth goals positioned the sale of the Waterloo properties. We salute the loyal, talented and dedicated staff we were fortunate to work with. We will continue to operate, grow and enhance our award-winning, seven-station radio group in the Appleton-Green Bay, Wisconsin markets which we’ve owned since the late-1970s.” The deal is for KFMW “Rock 108″; KOKZ “Iowa’s Classic Hits”; KWLO “1330 ESPN“; and KXEL “Iowa’s News & Talk Station.” Woodward Communications has operated these outlets the past two years. Prior to that, Bahakel Broadcasting owned KXEL for 54 years (1958 – 2012); it owned the other three from 1996 – 2012.
Found: WLS-AM’s “Next Talk Star.” If you wonder where the next generation of talk radio personalities is coming from, the answer might be professional wrestling. John Chase Gregoles (pictured here) emerges as the winner of WLS-AM, Chicago’s “Next Talk Star” competition and the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin resident is a day trader who has a background in … sports entertainment. This represents the Cumulus Media-owned talk station’s third such promotion, with WLS-AM program director/operations manager Peter Bolger pointing out, “Our last two winners are still on the air with a weekend show and occasional fill-in. It is certainly possible we will be as fortunate with this year’s winner. What the finalists had to say about talk radio and the passion they have for it was instructive and extremely energizing.” Gregoles comments that he “wants to broaden the audience of talk radio.” Wannabes submitted auditions via the station’s website. WLS-AM narrowed the submissions to 10 semifinalists; the top five were then determined by online voting. Bolger; WLS-AM’s (9:00 am – 11:00 am) Kass & Cohn co-host Lauren Cohn; 2012 winner Stephanie Trussell; and 2013 winner Laura Kelly were among those judging the competition. Gregoles gets to host a two-hour WLS-AM show, receive a limo ride to/from the studio, and a trip for two to Mexico.
MLB Baseball Continues to Give Boost to Most Flagship Stations. TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian presents his second analysis of the performances of MLB flagship stations this season – this time based on July PPM data. Again, the flagships in markets where baseball has traditionally been good to its radio outlet and in markets where the team is performing well continue to benefit from increased listenership. In this report Kinosian tracks how flagship stations have performed over the past five PPM surveys, compared to July 2013, how they rank in their respective markets, and how the stations stack up based on MLB divisions. Check out Mike Kinosian’s analysis here.
Sabo: It Is a Widespread Myth That “Ours Is a Very Big Sports Town.” As a globetrotting media consultant, Walter Sabo reports, “There is noticeable bravado in every city about the local level of sports fandom.” In a new opinion piece certain to spark disagreement on the part of many TALKERS readers, Sabo makes the case that even though most radio markets claim to be “big” on sports or even the “biggest” sports city in America, the “facts don’t match the roar of the crowd.” He writes, “According to the data presented from the major league national teams, every city is pretty much the same.” To read this informative and provocative piece in its entirety, please click here.
Lee ‘Hacksaw’ Hamilton Hangs Out Fill-In Shingle. West Coast sports talk pro Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton, most recently with Broadcast Company of the Americas-owned XEPRS, San Diego “The Mighty 1090,” announces he’s making himself available as a “radio free agent” for freelance work as “Hacksaw & Company,” as he says, “sports talk radio designed for your market, when you need a pinch-hitter.” Hamilton’s daily content can be seen at (www.leehacksawhamilton.com). He can be emailed at email@example.com.
Arkansas Stations Swap Frequencies; AC Turns Conservative/Christian Talk. A pair of Arkansas FMs are swapping positions on the dial – John M. Dowdy-owned hot AC KKTZ moves from 93.5 up to 107.5 while AC KOMT moves to the 93.5 frequency. KKTZ will remain hot AC but KOMT flips to conservative/Christian talk using content from Salem Radio Network, Westwood One and Premiere Networks. The new talk station will air: Bill Bennett in AM drive followed by Mike Gallagher, Dennis Miller, Michael Medved, Mark Levin, Janet Mefferd and “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory.
Odds & Sods. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, radio pro Mike Stephen is joining WGN, Chicago for a weekend show called “Outside the Loop Radio” that will air from 6:00 am to 7:00 am Sunday mornings, effective October 4. The eight-year-old show is promoted as “Chicago’s Almost Above-Ground Audio Magazine,” and promises “interviews with local newsmakers on everything from arts and politics to the environment and food.”…..Sitting in for Jimmy Barrett on Clear Channel’s WRVA, Richmond in morning drive all this week is Mark Wainwright…..CBS RADIO’s sports talker WJFK-FM, Washington “106.7 The Fan” and IMG Sports Network agree to an extension that will allow Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball play-by-play to be heard on the station through the 2018 season.
Thomas Adds CBS Sports Radio VP Stripes. Three-year CBS Radio Boston vice president of programming Mike Thomas takes on additional responsibilities as vice president of sports programming for CBS Sports Radio. Among the Boston stations Thomas supervises is all-sports WBZ-FM “The Sports Hub.” Thomas and Mark Chernoff will oversee the company’s sports properties, as well as CBS Sports Radio; Chernoff is CBS Radio’s vice president of sports stations and vice president of programming for CBS Radio New York, which includes iconic sports outlet WFAN. CBS Radio executive vice president of programming Chris Oliviero states that, “Mike’s creativity and expertise in the format is evident by [WBZ-FM's] quick ascent in one of the most competitive and passionate sports towns in America. These skills will serve CBS Radio well as Mike joins Mark in guiding our continually growing, industry leading portfolio of both local and national sports brands which combined produces nearly 300 hours a day of original content.” Thomas has programmed CBS Radio Boston classic rocker WZLX the past eight years and “The Sports Hub” the last five. His prior programming credits include KGB, San Diego; WFBQ, Indianapolis; WTUE and WXEG, Dayton; and WYMG, Springfield, Illinois.
Newsmax Publishes Insightful Article About Mike Rogers and the Evolving Role of Politics in News/Talk Radio. Senior editor David A. Patten of Newsmax Media (Newsmax.com and Newsmax Magazine) serves up an informative article that provides fairly objective insight into the recent announcement that at the end of his current Congressional term, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) will begin a career with Cumulus Media as a radio talk show host. The article presents reaction from outspoken conservative media practitioners who react to Rogers’ plan to approach conservative politics from a “kinder and gentler” perspective than the traditional presentations allegedly offered by the genre’s big players such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage. In the article, commentator (and former radio talk show host) Michael Reagan labels Rogers’ yet-to-debut new show “RINO radio” (Republican in Name Only.) Conservative media watchdog L. Brent Bozell III charges that Rogers thinks conservative radio listeners are “knuckle-draggers unable to think for themselves, unable to be smart.” Rogers explains to Newsmax TV why he is giving up his coveted chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee to join the likes of Mike Huckabee as politicians who enlisted in the media, stating, “It gives me an opportunity to talk to people all over the country about American exceptionalism, the future of America, the issues of the day, national security, and foreign policy in a way I just don’t hear interjected into the public debate.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, known for his nonpartisan stance on political talk radio, is recruited for comment in the piece saying that Rogers is “more compelling than the average dry politician” — but perhaps not as interesting as the more successful radio talkers. He adds that having a “flair for show business” is at least as important to success in talk radio as whatever policy knowledge a host brings to the table. Harrison states, “Sometimes the goals of success in talk radio are different from the goals of success in politics which goes back to something I said before: Politicians do not make good talk-show hosts.” Whether Rogers can succeed on the same battlefield where so many others from elective office have fallen really depends on how audiences react. And that, Harrison says, “Nobody can predict.” On the positive side of the ledger, Harrison says, “Rogers has savvy media instincts, and can talk credibly on a wide range of issues thanks to his insider knowledge.” The negative side of the ledger: Rogers is a politician. “As a species,” says Harrison, “politicians don’t fully understand the show-business and human-element aspects of talk programming. They see it as another platform to further their political selves, as opposed to their personality selves.” Harrison expounds, “What’s needed are spontaneous expressions that touch people on a human level. That’s not easy for most politicians, who by instinct and training learn to keep their reactions under wraps. I’m not saying Rogers doesn’t have it. I’m just saying we don’t know that he does.” In the article, Harrison hastens to add that he’s rooting for Rogers to do well because his success would benefit the industry. He says that Cumulus “will have to show Rogers that it’s OK to flirt with controversy in expressing his opinion.” The TALKERS publisher concludes, “On the radio dial, there’s no room for squishy Republicans. If he irritates the core of the right-wing that loves talk radio,” says Harrison, “and doesn’t generate interest among the people who want to hear a moderate, he may wind up with nothing.” To read the entire Newsmax article, please click here.
Radio Statesboro, Georgia Eagle Media Close on Five-Station Deal. Neal Ardman‘s Radio Statesboro acquires a five-station Statesboro, Georgia cluster from Georgia Eagle Media. The transaction includes country WHKN, sports WPTB, adult contemporary WPMX, talk WWNS, and classic rock WZBX. Media Services Group‘s Eddie Esserman in the company’s St. Simons Island, Georgia office was the exclusive broker and represented Georgia Eagle Media (the seller) in this deal.
Pardon Me Governor. Even though Matt “Rookie” Michalski poured a bucket of ice and a drink pitcher’s worth of ice directly on Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, the producer/sidekick of Hubbard Minneapolis KSTP-AM’s regionally syndicated “Garage Logic” with Joe Soucheray is (presumably) not in any hot water with the state’s chief executive. The extenuating circumstance is that it was pre-arranged as part of the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Governor Dayton accepted the dare to be showered with ice yesterday (Thursday, 8/21) at the Minnesota State Fair. Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad nominated Dayton, who in turn, laid down the gauntlet to a fellow Democrat, Minnesota Senator – and former Air America talk host – Al Franken. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” went viral through social media the middle of this year. A common stipulation is that nominated people have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation to ALS. We have seen numerous media personalities become involved such as Lars Larson, who does daily conservative talk shows on Alpha Media Portland’s KXL-FM and nationally on Compass Media Networks. Portland city commissioner Steve Novick challenged Larson to participate in this charitable soaking. Larson accepted and got drenched yesterday morning (Thursday, 8/21) outside downtown Portland’s PacWest Center. “It was cold, but I loved doing it,” Larson remarks. “ALS is a terrible disease and we raised [more than $700] for the cause. Doing the honors of dumping the ice water on Larson was Alpha Media adult alternative KINK morning drive co-host/news director Sheila Hamilton. The initial shock, Larson comments, “is so cold.” Two of Larson’s listeners did the deed to Novick, who acknowledges, “It was fun and it is great to see people all over the country drawing attention to fighting this disease.”
Klein Proves “You Can Go Home Again.” Twenty years ago, longtime Charlotte resident Jerry Klein was one of the first liberal hosts given the challenging task of trying to balance conservative talk radio, when he took over late-nights at heritage 50,000-watt, “Blowtorch of the South”-turned talker WBT-AM, Charlotte. A few years later, he moved up to a slightly earlier timeslot, but he was dismissed in October 1997. A short-lived self-syndication effort followed before Klein departed for Washington, DC. He landed at WMAL where he learned the business not just as a host, but also as senior producer, and assistant program and marketing director. He rubbed shoulders with many top politicians and media personalities. Three years ago, however, things took a horrific turn for the worse, when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and serious liver disease. Klein was informed he had little chance to survive more than a year. Barely a month after a first unsuccessful surgery, Klein awakened one morning only to find his wife had unexpectedly passed away in their bathroom. One year later, unable to work, penniless, and close to homeless, he accepted an offer from friends in Charlotte to stay in a spare bedroom. Klein returned early last year, thinking he was going home to die. This time last year, things suddenly changed again – this time for the better – as Klein’s oncologist indicated Klein’s cancer had mysteriously vanished. Although still battling physical issues, Klein nonetheless began writing for Charlotte’s alternative news weekly, Creative Loafing, just as he did from 1987 – 2001. Moreover and quite astonishingly, one week from today (8/29), roughly 17 years after being fired from WBT, Klein returns to the now Greater Media-owned talker to fill-in for John Hancock (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm). He will do the same Labor Day (Monday, 9/1) for Keith Larson (9:00 am – 12 noon). “Take your pick of clichés,” Klein offers. “Either, ‘Lazarus is still rising,’ or ‘You can go home again.’ One year ago, I would never have dreamed this was possible – I didn’t think I’d be alive. Instead, I’ve been welcomed home in a way that rocks me to my core. People who screamed at me for my positions now come and hug me. I am constantly told how much I was missed. This proves you might have to leave home thinking you’re a failure, only to return to find out you might have been wrong.”
Falcons Call an FM Flagship Audible. Effective with this weekend’s (third) pre-season tilt against the Tennessee Titans at the Georgia Dome, the NFL‘s Atlanta Falcons will move its FM flagship from Lincoln Financial Media hot AC WSTR “Star 94″ to CBS Radio sports outlet WZGC “The Game.” According to a post on the station’s website, “The Game” will be “airing the remaining preseason games and all regular season games for the 2014 – 2015 season.” Lincoln Financial Media’s WQXI “The Zone” continues as the team’s AM flagship station. It is a bit of an oddity that two competing broadcast companies are flagships for the same sports franchise.
Three Outlets to Carry Duquesne Sports. The official radio home of Duquesne football, men’s basketball and coaches’ shows throughout 2014 – 2015 will be Clear Channel Pittsburgh’s WBGG “ESPN 970″ and WWSW-HD2 “94.5 3WS, as well as iHeartRadio. It is a result of a pact with Learfield Sports’ DUQS Sports Properties, Duquesne’s exclusive multimedia rights holder. Market president Tim McAleer remarks, “We are very excited to team up with Duquesne University athletics to bring our listeners even more local sports coverage. The ability to broadcast their specialty sports programming both locally on [WBGG] and on ’3WS’ HD2, as well as on iHeartRadio allows them to reach fans everywhere.” Duquesne University director of athletics Greg Amodio opines, “It is a great time to follow the Dukes. We trust Learfield Sports with its years of experience in pairing university partners with respected quality broadcast outlets – this will be a terrific partnership with Clear Channel Pittsburgh. We want to create the best fan experience we can, including catering to our base which relies on catching our game action and coaches’ shows on the Duquesne Sports Network.” During the football season, the University’s new radio home for the “Dukes” will air the “Jerry Schmitt Show.” The “Jim Ferry Show” will be broadcast during men’s basketball season, while the “Dan Burt Show” will be carried during the women’s basketball season.
Memphis University School, WMC-AM Continue Partnership. Tonight’s high school football game (Friday, 8/22) between Memphis University School and Brentwood Academy will kickoff the fifth year that Entercom Memphis sports WMC-AM “ESPN 790″ has been MUS’s broadcast partner. WMC-AM will air all of the school’s Friday night football contests. Vice president and market manager Dan Barron comments, “We are proud to be the broadcast home of MUS football and continue to bring high school athletics to Memphis and to the mid-south. MUS “Owls” games are called by Mike Lawhead, Bobby Wade, and Barr Ray. Memphis University School is a college-preparatory independent day school for boys in grades 7 – 12.
Odds & Sods. Starting next Monday(8/25) CBS Sports Radio‘s 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm (ET) “Doug Gottlieb Show” will be simulcast on the CBS Sports Network…..Owing to the station’s decision to abolish news programming, Inland Empire Broadcasting classic hits-oldies KOLA, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario news director David Wylie exits.
ISIS Beheading, Ferguson Civil Unrest, 2016 Presidential Race, US Ecomomic Indicators, Rick Perry Indictment and Israel-Gaza Warfare are the Top News/Talk Radio Stories for the Week of August 18-22. Although the Ferguson tragedy brought a wide variety of hot issues to the foreground and was the dominant story for most of the past two weeks, the horrific execution of American journalist James Foley at the hands of ISIS extremists captured the top spot collectively at midweek and has dominated conversation since. 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. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.