Talk Radio/Media Industry News
TRN Companies and Cumulus Media Announce Amicable Westwood One Settlement. TRN Companies and Cumulus Media announced late Friday afternoon (3/7) that they have agreed to settle outstanding claims arising during previous ownership of WestwoodOne, acquired by Cumulus Media in December, 2013. Lew Dickey, president and CEO of Cumulus Media, said, “While Cumulus Media had no role in the lawsuits filed by TRN Companies, we are pleased to resolve these claims and move forward together. We remain supportive of each other and are optimistic for the future.” Mark Masters, CEO of TRN Companies, said: “We are pleased to ‘turn the page’ with the new owners of WestwoodOne and have put past issues behind us. As we build bridges together, we look forward to a mutually beneficial future working with our affiliated stations, customers, Lew and John Dickey and Cumulus Media.”
FCC Will Seek Public Comment on Ownership Rules; Reversal of Cross-Ownership Bans Appear Unlikely. Reports are circulating in the media trades that senior FCC officials say FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will propose relaxing cross-ownership bans, but in a blog post dated March 6, that tone is not expressed. Wheeler writes about the Commission’s duty to undertake and complete the 2014 Quadrennial Review. He discusses some of the proposals regarding maintaining current ownership rules that will be open for public comment but many industry watchers say this should not be cause to think a Wheeler-chaired Commission will ultimately relax current cross-ownership bans. Much of Wheeler’s concern in the blog is with television joint sales agreements and he’s clearly out to change those. You can read Wheeler’s entire post here.
Newsmax Chief Chris Ruddy Announces Cable TV News/Talk Project. In a piece in Bloomberg Businessweek, Newsmax founder and CEO Chris Ruddy announces his plans for a new cable news/talk network with Fox News Channel as his target. Ruddy is quoted asking, “How do you have something so successful in cable that nobody else wants to imitate or cut into their market share? It defies reason.” Ruddy tells Bloomberg Businessweek his goal is “to be a little more boomer-oriented, more information-based rather than being vituperative and polarizing.” He says that if he can get 10% to 15% of FNC’s audience, he’s going to be “hugely profitable.” The piece states FNC bills $1 billion a year. He understands the cable carriers don’t want to pay new networks and believes even if he has to pay them to carry the network, he’ll make money. Currently Newsmax TV is online featuring talk media personality Steve Malzberg. Ruddy does not say what the programming will look like when he’s ready to launch in June. Read the entire Bloomberg Businessweek story here.
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated “America Tonight” talk host Kate Delaney keeps her sports talk chops sharp as she sits in on the NBC Sports Radio Network this weekend hosting the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm slot both Saturday and Sunday this weekend…..In honor of Women’s History Month, SiriusXM host Julie Mason (left) sat down with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (right) before a live audience at the Newseum in Washington, DC on Tuesday, March 4. It’s part of the “SiriusXM Leading Ladies” series of candid conversations with influential and inspiring women who have forged their own paths to leadership and success.
Dave Ramsey Deep in the Heart of Texas. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Dave Ramsey is pictured here on stage at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in San Antonio as he presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” on Thursday (3/6). Ramsey talked about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. Ramsey combined forces with L&L Broadcasting’s news/talk KTSA to promote this event. KTSA GSM Coreena Hazelett comments, “L&L Broadcasting and ‘550KTSA’ are thrilled to partner with the Dave Ramsey team in bringing life-transforming content to entrepreneurs and leaders as well as teaching families how to live now so you can leave a powerful legacy for your family. We, along with our sponsors, sincerely believe in the importance of contributing to the growth of business and the quality of life for families here in San Antonio.” Ramsey also hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” on Wednesday along with Cruze and speaker Chris Hogan. The content of that presentation was how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 400 team members.
LaNeve Named to Entercom Board of Directors. From the sales and marketing world comes the newest member of the Entercom board of directors as Mark LaNeve joins immediately. He has served as COO of WPP’s Global Team Ford – an agency that serves as the marketing and advertising partner to Ford and Lincoln businesses globally. During his time as chief marketing officer at Allstate Insurance, he led the marketing for the company and developed the long-running “Mayhem” campaign. Entercom president and CEO David Field comments, “Mark LaNeve is a tremendous addition to Entercom’s board of directors. He has led some of America’s most iconic brands and ad campaigns. He will bring a new and fresh perspective to the Entercom board.”
Michael Medved Broadcasts from CPAC. Seattle-based Salem Radio Network nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Medved (right) is pictured here interviewing Republican Senator from Utah Mike Lee (left) at the radio row at CPAC 2014 taking place in Washington, DC. The event is the American Conservative Union’s annual confab of conservative activists being held at the Gaylord Hotel & Convention Center.
Obama vs. Putin/Ukraine-Crimea Unrest Top News/Talk Stories This Week. The political crisis in Ukraine and Crimea and the scrum between President Obama and Vladimir Putin were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was ObamaCare Criticism. At #3 was the Israel-Palestinian talks followed by the 2016 presidential race at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. ABC News Radio adds WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte to its roster of affiliate stations…..Yahoo! Sports Radio announces KXFN, St. Louis flips to sports and takes its lineup of national sports talk hosts.
The Infinite Dial 2014. Media consultant and TALKERS contributor Holland Cooke sat in on yesterday’s annual webinar presented by Edison Research and Triton Digital that detailed the results of the 2014 version of the Infinite Dial study. Many results are not surprising: smartphone use is growing rapidly with 61% of Americans owning cell phones – a 500% increase in five years. Although the “digital dashboard” – newer model cars with in-dash infotainment systems – gets a lot of press coverage as new deals are struck between app-makers, service providers and car manufacturers, as of today the smartphone is more important. The study reports 43% of persons 12-24 listen with a smartphone while in the car and 27% of persons 25-54 do the same. Still, AM/FM owns the auto for now and is still the primary source for discovering new music. Read more results from the study and Holland Cooke’s analysis here.
Dana Barrett to Host New Local Show on ‘biz 1190’ in Atlanta. On Salem Communications’ business talk WAFS, Atlanta “biz 1190,” local media personality Dana Barrett debuts a new program dedicated to “a unique look into ‘the business of everyday life’” debuting on Monday, March 10. Barrett states, “Atlanta is such a dynamic business market with an incredible diversity of industries. Healthcare, real estate, entertainment, retail…you name it, we do it here. I want to celebrate and embrace that diversity by talking to the business leaders and entrepreneurs that make our region go.” The daily show will air from 9:00 am to 10:00 am with a repeat from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Program director Aaron Williams adds, “It’s the perfect match for us. As the market’s only station dedicated to business, we couldn’t be happier to bring Dana’s unique knowledge of the metro Atlanta area to our audience.”
Mike Bower Exits ’97.9 ESPN Hartford.’ The afternoon drive program hosted by Mike Bower at Clear Channel’s Hartford sports talk outlet WUCS “97.9 ESPN Hartford” is cancelled and the station is actively seeking a new personality for the daypart. In a message posted on his Facebook page, Bower announces, “Unfortunately The Bower Show’s time on ‘97.9 ESPN’ in Hartford and ‘ESPN Radio 1300’ in New Haven has come to an end. Clear Channel opted to not renew the show but we would like to thank them for giving us the opportunity to talk sports with you every day for the past two years. More importantly, we would like to thank all of YOU…our listeners, for your continued support of The Bower Show.” The Bower Show was the only local daily show on the program schedule.
Rosenthal Promoted at Katz Media Group. With this promotion, Mark Rosenthal – currently CEO of Katz Radio Group – adds the title CEO of Katz Media Group in which he will also oversee Katz Television Group, KMG’s television representation company. The company says that as CEO of Katz Radio Group, Rosenthal will remain focused on building the radio sector, working closely with Katz Radio Group president Mark Gray to drive additional media dollars into radio. Effective immediately though, he will now also work closely with KTG presidents Leo MacCourtney and Craig Broitman to grow and further develop KTG’s assets, advocacy and revenue-generating efforts.
Salem Study: Christian Teaching Listeners Younger Than Perceived. The results of a study by Nielsen Audio commissioned by Salem Communications looking at the make-up of the audience for Christian teaching and talk-formatted radio shows indicates the audience is younger than may be commonly perceived. Half of the listeners to the format are under 55 and are spending 6.1 hours per week listening to stations airing the format. The study also indicates younger listenership is growing. Salem VP, director of spoken word format Phil Boyce states, “There is this perception that these are your father or even grandfathers radio stations, but we found there is a significant pool of younger listeners spending a great deal of time with our CTT format.”
Geoff Edwards Passes. No sooner had we reflected on the life and career of Los Angeles and Bay Area radio personality/television game show host Jim Lange (who succumbed to a heart attack last week) than we must now sadly note the passing of Geoff Edwards. Much like the 81-year-old Lange, Edwards, 83, amassed considerable fame from his Los Angeles radio days and nationally through several game show-hosting stints. Edwards died yesterday (3/5) of complications of pneumonia at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. Wink Martindale, Lange, and Edwards toiled together in Los Angeles at the once iconic KMPC. “Geoff was one of the cleverest, funniest radio and television personalities I have worked with,” Martindale states of Westfield, New Jersey native Edwards, who was heard on KMPC from 1968 – 1979. He was also on-air in Los Angeles at KHJ (1964 -1965) and two go-rounds at KFI (1966 – 1968 and 1987 – 1989). According to Edwards’ agent of many years, Fred Westbrook, Edwards succeeded in television by making several bold fashion statements. He favored jeans over suits and his hair was longer than that of most other talents at the time. ”He was part of the new breed,” Westbrook comments. Tributes on Facebook regarding Edwards’ death included this observation from renowned voiceover talent/studio audience warm-up announcer/”Price is Right” announcer Randy West. ”Geoff was a wonderfully kind and joyous guy, very bright, with a great natural talent for creating joy, both over the air and in person. For me, it was more laughs per hour with Geoff than anyone else since high school. What a pro, what a sweet man, what a character, what a ball. He was loved and respected by everybody. We laughed and giggled every time we were together.” Sonoma Music Group president Michael O’Shea checked in by remarking, “What a shock. Geoff was our 9:00 am – 12:00 noon personality at KMPC. Personable, authentic, real and natural. We played tennis a time or two. This is very sad.” Longtime KOST, Los Angeles on-air personality Ted Ziegenbusch notes that Edwards was, “One of my favorite lunchroom pals. Thanks for the laughter, the stories and the fun. I know you have always enjoyed travel. This journey is the best one ever.” Veteran Los Angeles traffic reporter Mike Nolan comments that he was, “a fan for years, then honored to work with him at KFI, so happy to have called him a friend.” Fellow television game show host Jim MacKrell remarks, “I am deeply saddened by the news of Geoff’s passing. I know of no one in our business with a better reputation and a multitude of friends. I am glad I was one of them.” Edwards’ national television resume includes hosting “Jackpot!”, “Chain Reaction,” “Play the Percentages,” “Treasure Hunt” and “The New Treasure Hunt.” In Los Angeles, he and Meredith MacRae won Emmy Awards for co-hosting the daily “Mid-Morning L.A.” For nine years (1986 – 1995), he co-hosted the California Lottery‘s “Big Spin.” An eyewitness to one of America’s most memorable moments, then-news reporter Edwards was in the basement of the Dallas Police Department on November 24, 1963 when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Funeral plans are pending for Edwards, who is survived by his wife, two stepsons, his ex-wife and their three children, as well as nine grandchildren.
Obama vs. Putin/Ukraine-Crimea Intrigue, ObamaCare Criticism, IRS Scandal, Obama Approval Ratings Sink, and 2016 Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/5). The political storm in Ukraine and Crimea and how President Obama is handling Vladimir Putin’s moving Russian troops into the region; scrutiny of the Affordable Care Act as the administration announces current health plans can be kept through 2016; Lois Lerner’s refusal to testify in new hearings looking into the IRS scandal; dipping approval ratings for President Obama; and speculation about candidates for president in the 2016 election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Buckley to Sell Connecticut Stations to Connoisseur. Led by Hartford classic hits outlet WDRC-FM, the Connecticut stations Buckley Broadcasting is selling to Connoisseur Media also includes talk WDRC-AM and its simulcast AMs WMMW, Meriden; WSNG, Torrington; and WWCO, Waterbury. The price on this deal is not being made public yet. Buckley is being represented by Richard A. Foreman Associates. In a memo to staff, Buckley president and CEO Joe Bilotta says, “After much reflection, the Board of Trustees has decided that the reality of the evolving competitive landscape, and our sincere desire to see this historic brand continue, are cause for a change in the ownership of our Connecticut properties. Our decision to negotiate with, and eventually sell WDRC-AM/FM to Connoisseur, gives our audience, advertisers, and employees access to the considerable resources of this multi-dimensional media and entertainment company. For over half of a century Buckley Broadcasting has been the steward of these great call letters and there is not a better company than Connoisseur to ensure the continued and accelerated future success of the WDRC brand.”
Fox Sports and Premiere Networks Renew FSRN Deal. The relationship between Clear Channel subsidiary Premiere Networks and Fox Sports goes back to August of 2000 when the two companies agreed to work together to debut the Fox Sports Radio Network. Now, almost 14 years later, the two companies agree to a long-term extension of the partnership. Premiere Networks will continue to produce and distribute Fox Sports Radio Network to its radio affiliates. Additionally, “Premiere Networks and Fox Sports will continue working together across multiple platforms to synchronize the audio, digital, online and television assets of Fox Sports, FOXSports.com and Fox Sports Radio, further extending the reach, visibility and engagement of these brands with millions of consumers. Additionally, with the recently-launched 24-hour television network Fox Sports 1, the radio and television divisions will work closely to increase cross-promotional opportunities and highlight Fox Sports’ established team of top insiders, analysts and personalities.”
Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Report: Smartphone Use Rising, AM/FM Use Decreasing. The numbers are nothing astronomical with regard to the decline in use of AM/FM radio, but they show a trend. According to the March 2014 Nielsen Cross-Platform Report, the hours of use per day for adults 18+ for AM/FM radio have dropped from 2:53 minutes to 2:46 minutes from the fourth quarter of 2011 through the fourth quarter of 2013. At the same time, use of smartphones has risen from :48 minutes per day to 1:07 minutes per day over the same three-year period. Again, this is not a dramatic change but it certainly shows that the use of smartphones continues to rise for adults and the use of the AM/FM radio is declining. You can check out the report here.
And Speaking of Smartphones…The increase in usage of smartphones by Americans has risen to 61% (persons 12+), according to Edison Research and Triton Digital – the two companies presenting their “Infinite Dial 2014” webinar today at 2:00 pm ET. Edison releases this little teaser in advance of today’s event indicating that in 2009 just 10% of Americans owned smartphones. That number climbed to 44% in 2012 and has soared to 61% in 2014 and Edison estimates that means about 160 million people in raw numbers.
Just a Few Slots Left at FAIR’s ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ Radio Row. The topic of immigration reform continues to be a much-discussed one on news/talk radio with related legislation brewing in Congress. The Federation for American Immigration Reform-sponsored “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row taking place April 9 and 10 in Washington, DC is nearing a full slate. FAIR communications director Bob Dane tells TALKERS magazine, “It’s ‘last call’ for one broadcast booth remaining in morning drive, one in afternoon drive, and two in midday.” Broadcast slots are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested hosts should contact Dane 202-328-7004 ASAP to discuss details. Dane says, “Attendees enjoy Capitol Hill access to lawmakers, immigration activists, experts and law enforcement working in tandem to secure our borders and to enforce the rule of law.”
‘Radio Guy’ Jim Lange Remembered. When Jim Lange passed away last week at age 81, he was remembered by most for his role as host of television’s “The Dating Game.” But as TALKERS managing editor and bureau chief Mike Kinosian writes, “Jim Lange was one of the finest ambassadors radio could ever hope to have.” A few years back, Kinosian did a profile of Lange and learned more about his radio career – including why he always kept a radio job even during the heyday of “The Dating Game” and his other TV game shows. He said that if the TV job failed, he always had radio. Lange told him, “I noticed that all the game show hosts were radio guys. They were hired because they could adlib. There is no script on a game show. You have rules, but that is it.” Read Mike Kinosian’s story about Jim Lange here.
Ukraine-Crimea Unrest/Obama vs. Putin, ObamaCare Criticism, MSNBC Programming Changes, Texas Primaries, U.S. Marijuana Policy, and Hillary in 2016 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/4). The crisis in the Ukraine and Crimea and criticism of President Obama’s stance against Russia’s Vladimir Putin; ongoing scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the cable news/talk wars and the performance of new MSNBC programs; Tuesday’s Texas primary elections; the changes in marijuana policy in the United States; and speculation that Hillary Clinton will emerge the the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
SCBA Reports 2014 Starting Off Positive. Calling it “solid, steady revenue growth that sets the stage for a strong first quarter for Southern California radio,” Southern California Broadcasters Association president Thom Callahan reports the results of the Miller Kaplan Arase Market Summary report for January 2014 indicating total market revenue for Los Angeles radio grew by 1.7% in January. Callahan adds, “The 1.7% growth rate for January is, of course, good news for our industry here in Southern California, however, a closer look at what made up that growth reveals a market and region that is healthy and growing.” The Miller Kaplan Arase X-Ray report for Los Angeles radio further describes both strong category growth and exceptional new business development in the first month of the New Year. That growth includes: insurance companies – up 152.1%, education – up 61.5%, concerts/theatre/movies – up 54.6%, communications/cellular/public utilities – up 22.7%, and both the auto category – up at 6.3% and health care – up at 6.4%. Callahan says, “New business development was a significant revenue driver for Southern California radio in January and showcases how new advertisers are rediscovering radio and its effectiveness in building brands and market share for their business. With 297 new advertisers spending $7,408,878 in new business in January alone, it’s clear our SCBA member stations are fully engaged in new business development.”
Journal Communications Reports Q4 2013 Numbers; Radio Down 7.2%. That radio figure does include the loss of political advertising and a quirk of the bookkeeping calendar that took a week away in 2013. Accounting for those issues, Journal reports that on a same-station basis, radio revenue was up 0.7% in the fourth quarter and for the whole of 2013 same-station revenue was up 3.7%. The news for national revenue continues to be negative as Journal’s radio stations saw national drop 22.8% in Q4 and dive 8.9% for the entire year. In a statement, chairman and CEO Steven Smith says, “Journal Communications delivered a solid fourth quarter in a non-political year, driven by gains in core revenue in our broadcast group and improving advertising revenue trends in publishing…Consolidated revenue of $107.4 million was up 11% compared to 2012, excluding the extra week and political revenue in 2012.”
WGWG-LP, Chicago Adds Jarrett Payton to Air Staff. The new sports talk outlet Tribune’s WGN, Chicago is building on the leased WGWG-LP signal announces the addition of Jarrett Payton – son of Bears great and NFL Hall-of-Famer Walter Payton – to the afternoon drive show with Harry Teinowitz and Spike Manton. “The Game 87.7” vice president of creative content Todd Manley tells Chicago media writer Robert Feder, “I think Jarrett is way more than sports royalty in this town. He’s the sort of creative, inventive mind that will help us define the future of this brand.” As Feder reports, Payton’s radio experience includes serving as host of Chicago Bears post-game shows on ESPN O&O WMPV, Chicago.
Talk Host Tom Becka Launches Web-based Podcast Series. Talk radio pro Tom Becka holds down the afternoon program at NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha. Now, Becka is debuting his latest venture – a podcast series available at his website TomBecka.com titled, “Tom Becka Podcast.” Becka has a specific goal with regard to the podcast’s subject matter: letting interesting, everyday people tell stories about themselves – things you might never know unless you asked. Some of the fascinating subjects Becka has covered with his podcast project include: a woman named Kaylee talking openly about what it’s like to live with bi-polar disorder; a local man who’s taken his passion for film and started a new career making films; a conversation with a tattoo artist about the tattoo phenomenon; a man with terminal cancer relating his inspirational thoughts about living and dying; a local man who lives every day with Asperger’s syndrome; and many more. Becka says, “Tom Becka.com is a place where every day people are going to be telling their stories…inspirational stories, life lessons, stories about overcoming adversity.” All the subjects for this project are from the local Omaha area, as Becka says, people who may be your friends, relatives or neighbors. Becka is posting a new episode every Sunday. Check it out here.
Michael Harrison on the Road – Next Big Stop: Jerry Del Colliano’s “Media Solutions Conference” in Philly March 26. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison will be one of three special guest speakers at noted industry observer and analyst Jerry Del Colliano’s fifth annual Media Solutions Conference set for Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 26. Along with WBEB, Philadelphia (“More FM”) owner Jerry Lee and nationally syndicated Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel talk star Sean Hannity, Harrison will participate in the intensive day-long workshop that will focus on a wide variety of digital-era issues currently facing and challenging radio. These include coming to a better understanding of the Millennial generation, learning to disrupt radio itself before its media rivals do, separating radio’s main product into unique on-air and online categories, effectively using video to generate significant amounts of revenue and much more. Harrison states, “I am really looking forward to participating in this conference and tackling these crucial issues with a bunch of smart people from all ends of the business. Jerry Lee has so much to share about running an independent station in an aggressive, winning way – we could sure use more Jerry Lees in this industry – and Sean Hannity is the very definition of brains and class. One of the things Sean brings to the table is the ability to attract younger listeners to traditional news/talk – he has done quite alright in an area of the field to which most people are actively seeking answers.” The event takes place at Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Hotel. For more information click here.
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated progressive talk show host Leslie Marshall does double duty on Thursday (3/6) as she sits in for Thom Hartmann on his nationally syndicated program…..ESPN O&O WMPV, Chicago adds a weekly program covering Major League Soccer and the local Chicago Fire. The show is dubbed “Chicago Fire Weekly” and it’s being hosted by Fred Heubner and will feature contributions from Kevin Egan, analyst for the Chicago Fire’s television broadcasts…..News/talk WNTX, Fredericksburg, Virginia is again being heard on translator W243BS, Fredericksburg after the latter signal carried the “Fred FM” format for the past 11 months. WNTX is owned by Free Lance-Star, currently going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization…..Kevin Calabro re-ups with ESPN where he serves as the lead play-by-play voice on the NBA on ESPN Radio. He’ll continue working with lead NBA analyst Jon Barry, as well as PJ Carlesimo and Stan Van Gundy.
Former Nebraska Radio Owner Mitchell Dies at 89. In Nebraska, John C. Mitchell was a decorated broadcaster who was honored with a Pioneer Award from the Nebraska Broadcasters Association and is a member of the Nebraska Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Trained as an attorney who practiced law until he retired in 2001, Mitchell began acquiring radio stations in 1953 with the purchase of KGFW, Kearney – the station at which he worked in high school. Eventually his Mitchell Broadcasting Corporation would own some 14 stations across the state. Mitchell is pictured here at the mic on KGFW.
Crimea-Ukraine Tensions/Obama vs. Putin, ObamaCare Criticism, Israel-Palestinian Talks, The Oscars, Hillary in 2016, and Marijuana Policy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/3). The military incursions into Ukraine and Crimea by Russia and criticism of President Obama’s handling of Vladimir Putin; scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; U.S. pressure on Netanyahu to convene Palestinian peace talks; Sunday evening’s Academy Awards show; speculation about Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016; and marijuana policy in the U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
FCC Kills CIN Study…at Least for Now. The Federal Communications Commission issued a brief statement late Friday afternoon ending the current form of the Critical Information Needs study that has enraged broadcasters since it was announced last May. Recently, as the beginning of the study approached this spring, broadcasters – and many from the public arena – had re-stoked their disapproval. The FCC’s statement on February 28 was: “The FCC will not move forward with the Critical Information Needs study. The Commission will reassess the best way to fulfill its obligation to Congress to identify barriers to entry into the communications marketplace faced by entrepreneurs and other small businesses.” Commissioner Ajit Pai, who had publicly criticized the scope of the study, said, “I am pleased that the FCC has canceled its Critical Information Needs study. In our country, the government does not tell the people what information they need. Instead, news outlets and the American public decide that for themselves. I look forward to working with my colleagues to identify and remove actual barriers to entry into the communications industry. This newsroom study was a distraction from that important goal.”
TALKERS to Postpone Publishing 2014 Heavy Hundred Until Tuesday, March 11. The 2014 installment of one of TALKERS magazine’s most popular and, perhaps, controversial annual features – “The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America” – is being readied for publication this coming Tuesday, March 11, 2014. It was originally intended for publication today (3/3) but last-minute developments in the industry regarding the contracts and standing of several key hosts has required adding the extra week for consideration and tabulation. Also known as “The Heavy Hundred” the ranked listing of 100 hosts and talent teams from around the country is based on a number of both quantitative and qualitative criteria and is determined by collective analysis of the TALKERS editorial board. It includes local and national hosts from a variety of genres falling under the umbrella of “general” talk or “news/talk” radio covering politics, health, finance, relationships, consumer tech, popular culture and a variety of specialties. (TALKERS launched a special and separate Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk two years ago.) Hosts on the list are selected from those working at the time of its publication on platforms that include commercial and public AM/FM radio as well as satellite radio (internet-only talk hosts are ranked by TALKERS in an annual feature titled “The Frontier Fifty”). According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “It is no secret that economic restraints facing the industry these past few years have contributed to shrinking the number of individuals working on the air across the nation. Although the 2014 edition of the Heavy Hundred will, of course, include many familiar names, the need for new blood, fresh voices and potential up and comers has never been greater. Readers will find this year’s roster will feature a number of new names and first-timers, which is quite exciting!” Companies interested in sponsoring segments of this widely discussed and read (by hundreds of thousands of broadcasting industry members and consumers/listeners) feature should call 413-565-5413.
CBS RADIO Adds Baltimore, Maryland Content to All-News WNEW-FM. The two-year-old all-news format on CBS RADIO’s WNEW-FM, Bowie, Maryland-licensed station is getting some tweaking as the station will add more Baltimore and Maryland content to its programming in the form of news and traffic, as the company says, “in addition to its extensive coverage of the Washington, D.C. metro.” The company is opening a Baltimore news center beginning today (3/3), which is located at CBS television station WJZ-TV. Other bureaus will follow in Annapolis and Montgomery County throughout the year. Longtime Baltimore radio news anchor Sarah Jacobs has been named bureau chief, overseeing a team of local reporters. Baltimore Sun columnist David Zurawik reported on the changes last week questioning if the changes are the result of the inability to “put a dent” in the ratings at Hubbard’s crosstown WTOP. Some of the changes beginning today include traffic reports every five minutes during peak travel times plus expanded coverage to include “Beltway to Beltway” traffic spanning the entire Baltimore-Washington corridor, from the Baltimore Beltway to the Washington Beltway, and the major arteries that feed them. CBS RADIO SVP and market manager Steve Swenson states, “WNEW reaches 5.3 million people across Baltimore and Washington, and all the counties in between – more than any other local radio station. We’re thrilled to offer area residents around-the-clock news coverage, and serve as the primary destination for all their traffic information needs. Whether driving the two Beltways, I-95, the Baltimore Washington Parkway, I-97, or Route 50, commuters will only need to listen to one station: All-News 99.1FM.” In the Baltimore Sun piece, Zurawik writes that Swenson concedes the location of the WNEW-FM transmitter – near Annapolis – doesn’t cover the DC metro the way most DC-licensed stations do. Swenson tells the paper WNEW-FM “reaches 38% of the DC metro population while it covers more than 75% of the Baltimore metro.”
Don Geronimo to Exit ‘106.7 The Fan’ in Washington. After returning to his longtime stomping grounds at WJFK-FM, Washington “106.7 The Fan” following a stint at the company’s KHTK, Sacramento, Don Geronimo will again leave the station and his evening show. Geronimo Tweeted that he’s going to be on the CBS RADIO payroll for another 30 days and then “off to brighter pastures. You know I have a lot to say on the entire matter, you’ll hear it all soon enuf, ever 4ward.”
PodcastOne Makes Doug Stephan’s ‘Good Day’ Show Available on Demand. Nationally syndicated radio personality Doug Stephan (left) is partnering with PodcastOne to have the service distribute his podcast and have PodcastOne Sales serve as the exclusive rep for his podcast. Stephan’s “Good Day” is now available in a digital format after the original broadcast of the radio program. PodcastOne CEO Norm Pattiz (right) says, “Everybody needs a good day. Now we can make sure that Doug Stephan’s ‘Good Day’ is available 24 hours a day, on-demand, from PodcastOne. This is just another example of the expanding radio footprint that makes the best talent available to the largest possible audience, and on a personal level, having Doug on the podcast lineup brings a big smile to my face and assures me of having my own personal good day.”
Talk Radio Personality Rusty Humphries Joins Washington Times. Longtime TRN-syndicated talk radio personality Rusty Humphries is joining the Washington Times for an “expansive role” in which he will be “a weekly columnist, a blogger and a daily video show host.” The organization notes that “Humphries’ appointment is part of the Washington Times’ aggressive expansion into the many platforms that comprise a modern media company. The audio from Humphries’ video show will also be streamed on the Kaliki-based, on-demand network that was recently established in partnership with the Times. Humphries comments, “I’m excited to become part of the Washington Times family. I am proud to add my voice and my ideas to the excellent work that the Times has been producing for decades.” Times editor and vice president of content and business development John Solomon adds, “Rusty is a rare and special talent. We are thrilled to have his wisdom and his good humor as part of our growing menu of offerings.”
New Lineup from TheBlaze Radio Network; Buck Sexton Show to Weekdays. There’s a new weekday schedule from Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Radio Network as the company announces the Buck Sexton show moves to weekdays in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm ET slot effective March 17. Sexton is also co-host of “Real News from TheBlaze,” he is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and NYPD Intelligence Division analyst with hands-on expertise in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations around the world. As a result of the move, the Pat & Stu show moves to the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET slot. TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood states, “Over the past 18 months or so Buck has emerged as a very strong new voice in media. We’re excited to see what he can do with the expanded opportunity on TheBlaze Radio Network.”
Compass Media Networks Welcomes Susan O’Connell. Affiliate relations pro Susan O’Connell is joining Compass Media Networks as a consultant with the goal of managing and enhancing affiliate relations and strategy related to The Wall Street Journal Radio Network. O’Connell has served as senior director, affiliate sales for The Wall Street Journal Radio Network since 2006. Compass exclusively manages affiliate sales and advertising sales for WSJ Radio.
Lawrence Named Director of Sales at Revenue Development Resources. After 14 years of service to the Radio Advertising Bureau, Bob Lawrence becomes director of sales for Revenue Development Resources. He states, “It’s exciting to be representing the valuable services that RDR offers to broadcasters, and to once again team with RDR president/CEO Mark Levy. I look forward to more of the kind of successes that Mark and I achieved during our years working together at the RAB.” Says Levy, “Bob joining us is like old-home week. With former RAB team members Tim Foley and now Bob Lawrence on the team, it’s like working with family again!”
Odds & Sods. Imaging and voice-over pro Pete Gustin leaves his gig with Entercom’s sports talk WEEI-FM and news/talk WRKO after 18 years with the stations. Gustin, who recently launched his own imaging and voice-over service, writes on his Facebook page, “I’ll be partnered with dozens of major national brands, programs, radio stations, TV networks, sports franchises and agencies like Solid Talent with Micaela Stepanovich, CESD Imaging — affiliates and Paul Wintner and Jason Helzner, who are both very much responsible for this new path I’m on.”…..WOLB, Baltimore morning show host Larry Young is honored as a recipient of the 2014 Verizon Community Innovator Award. The company says that Young was the only recipient of the award in the communications field. “We here at Radio One Inc. are very proud of Larry’s many accomplishments and this shows the great works he has done for the community and how he represents his community.”…..Center Post Holdings announces it is re-branding the Business TalkRadio Network to BizTalkRadio to reflect its new partnership with sister network BizTV. Center Post Holdings purchased BTRN last October .
Rick & Bubba Read to 50,000 Kids in 13 States! Nationally syndicated morning show Rick & Bubba (Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey) recognized the National Education Association’s “Read Across America” day today by using technology to read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham to an estimated 50,000 students in 800 schools across 13 states. The SSI-syndicated show has made an annual tradition of creating the “world’s biggest classroom” on this day. In the photo here, Rick & Bubba are seen on a screen in one of the classrooms taking part in the event.
Going for Woman of the Year. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs (right) is pictured here with two-time cancer survivor Dominic (left) as Wachs gears up to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Las Vegas. Wachs was nominated for Woman of the Year so her goal is to raise $20,000 during the campaign that runs from March 21 through May 31. Wachs tells TALKERS the funds go to cancer research and financial assistance to families with children afflicted with blood cancer. Listeners can help by going to her website at www.drdaliah.com and hitting the “Fight Blood Cancer” link after March 21.
ABC News Radio at the Oscars. Just a couple of hours before winning the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in “12 Years a Slave,” last night in Los Angeles, Lupita Nyong’o (right) stops on the red carpet to talk with ABC News Radio’s David Blaustein (left).