All-News and Talk Radio Stations Keep Public Informed During Hurricane Irene. The hurricane/tropical storm that swept up the East Coast over the weekend pushed radio stations, especially news and talk radio stations, into their familiar and historical roles as providers of timely and emergency information as Irene bore down upon their markets. While radio of all formats can deliver this kind of information, news and talk radio does so without breaking format – they just alter the type of news, information and talk they provide. Their P1s expect to be kept informed during these times and the many news and talk stations up and down the East Coast did an exemplary job of being there for their listeners. (There were simply too many examples of stations serving their listeners this weekend to name them all!) According to TALKERS monitoring of radio during the Irene event, the approach to coverage went through three basic phases: First, tracking and speculating on the direction, timing and tips for preparing for the storm. Second, being in the storm itself when the power goes out and all hell is breaking loose (a crucial phase for radio). Third, the aftermath — the details and politics of recovery. The past 10 months have provided ample opportunity for coverage of natural disasters with a higher-than-usual occurrence of these, from intense snowstorms to floods to tornadoes and recent earthquakes. News and talk radio remains the best link to accurate and timely information when the power goes out. The bigger questions now include: Should emergency preparedness and local, on-the-ground coverage become a more institutional component of the competitive terrestrial radio infrastructure? Also, should talk radio of all genres focus primarily on super-serving its most loyal fans (who are still in the habit of using radio) or break out of that role and aggressively try to bring new listeners to the format (or in the case of those who have left, back to the format)? (Photo courtesy of NOAA.)
WJOX-FM, Birmingham Sports Host Finebuam’s Suit Against Citadel Revealed. Thanks to a judge for unsealing the suits filed by Paul Finebaum against Citadel’s WJOX-FM, Birmingham, we know more about the claims. The Birmingham News reports Finebaum – who has a deal with Citadel to host a show on WJOX-FM that is regionally syndicated – accuses WJOX-FM of breach of contract when Citadel declared bankruptcy in December 2009. Finebaum further alleges he was subsequently forced to agree to contract changes under duress that have caused him “great financial impact.” Finebaum alleges WJOX-FM, GM Bill Thomas threatened to remove his show from its affiliates and Sirius XM if he didn’t agree to a reduction in revenue from the show. Citadel says Finebaum was fully aware it filed for bankruptcy when he signed the contract addendum in January 2010. The company also states any talk of removing the show from affiliates was due to poor financial performance that the company did not want to continue. Finally, Citadel questions why Finebaum is filing the suits now since Citadel exited bankruptcy protection more than a year ago and calls the suits a “pretense by which Mr. Finebaum hopes to avoid fulfilling his obligations under the employment agreement.” Finebaum is under contract to Citadel through January 2013.
Clear Channel Ousts Vassilaros from WPTI-FM, Greensboro; Simulcasts Raleigh AM Show. WRDU-FM, Raleigh’s “Morning Rush” program hosted by KC O’Dea and Carmen Connors is now heard on the company’s WPTI-FM, Greensboro as well. Morning drive host Dimitri Vassilaros – who left his newspaper and part time radio gigs in Pittsburgh in January to take the WPTI-FM job – is out. Vassilaros hosted a weekend show at CBS Radio’s KDKA and wrote a column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review prior to heading south.
Michael Harrison Writing a Book with Mike Kinosian about Talk Radio Set for Publication February 2012. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison has announced he is writing a book about talk radio, in collaboration with TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian. Talkers: The Irrepressible Voices of Radio will be published by Talkers Books and will be part history, part memoir and part commentary based upon radio pioneer Harrison’s 21 years as publisher of TALKERS, 45 years as a professional broadcaster, and his lifelong love affair with popular culture and media. The primary focus will be Harrison’s observations of many leading figures of contemporary talk radio set against the backdrop of key events connected to the scene’s colorful history. Material will be drawn from his professional and personal experiences with these extraordinary individuals and supplemented by the extensive database accumulated over the decades in the TALKERS archives. He also delves back into his own roots as a kid listening to New York City Top 40 in the 1950s and 1960s to becoming an FM album rock groundbreaker on both coasts in the 1970s, an innovator in the trades and eventually one of the driving forces behind the modern talk radio era. With more than a quarter century of insight and experience at Radio & Records, Inside Radio and now TALKERS — and as one of the radio trade publication world’s most prolific interviewers — collaborator Mike Kinosian brings his formidable radio background and writing skills to the project. According to Harrison, “Between the two of us we know just about everyone who’s anyone in the talk business from a number of angles. Mike Kinosian has personally interviewed and written biographical profiles of more than 100 spoken-word radio stars in his illustrious career as an industry chronicler. His legendary “Mike Kinosian Interviews” remain the gold standard of radio trade journalism. Having a professional of his stature supporting my efforts in this undertaking is nothing short of inspirational!” Commenting on his joining forces with Harrison on this ambitious endeavor, Kinosian states, “It is a high honor and a rare privilege to serve as this book’s collaborator, not solely since the subject matter is so personally appealing, but also — and much more significantly — because it is with Michael Harrison. No one else in the talk radio industry commands Michael’s immense level of respect and credibility. His behind-the-scenes knowledge of the industry, credentials, accomplishments, detail to recount facts and especially his character are impeccable.” Among those examined beneath their professional personas are Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Glenn Beck, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Savage, Jerry Williams, Gene Burns and many more. Harrison shares never-before-published stories about his personal conversations and dealings with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush regarding their relationships with the media. He finally reveals the back story and truth about his controversial encounter with Al Franken during the future U.S. Senator’s Freedom of Speech Award acceptance at the New Media Seminar. He talks about his longtime friendship with Alan Colmes, going back to the dreams they shared as part-time MOR jocks on a small Long Island AM daytimer 43 years ago. He resurrects the colorful decade (1975-1985) he spent as one of the first FM “youth talkers” hosting a trailblazing talk show on L.A.’s legendary rocker, KMET. Talkers: The Irrepressible Voices of Radio by Michael Harrison with Mike Kinosian promises to reveal a side of talk radio never before exposed to the public. Summing it up, Kinosian states, “Unsurpassed quality is the dominant theme the two of us have stressed to each other in writing this book. Based on the early drafts, we are well on our way to accomplishing that goal.” The promotion of Talkers: The Irrepressible Voices of Radio will be supported with a national tour.
Scott Hennen Signs with Genesis Communications Network for National Distribution. Talk radio pro Scott Hennen’s Fargo-based talk show, “Common Sense Club,” (heard in North Dakota on KNOX, Grand Forks from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm) will be distributed for national syndication via the Genesis Communications Network. Hennen tells the Fargo Forum he expects to debut on about a dozen stations.
“The Talk” May Be Adding Two New Hosts for this Season. The CBS daytime TV talk show “The Talk” lost hosts Leah Rimini and Holly Robinson Peete – their contracts were not renewed for the show’s second season. The network is preparing to fill their slots alongside Sara Gilbert, Julie Chen and Sharon Osbourne with radio host and comedian Sheryl Underwood and Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner. Jenner is signed to fill in for Osbourne for the show’s first two weeks of the new season but may stay on as Osbourne’s regular fill in. Underwood will also be part of the first two weeks but is expected to be a regular this season.
Recognition of a Job Well Done. CBS Radio’s all-news KNX, Los Angeles was recently recognized by Los Angeles City councilman Dennis Zine for its coverage of Carmageddon – the July shutdown of the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. Pictured here from left to right are: traffic reporters Jeff Baugh, Tommy Jaxson and Meghan Reyes; Councilman Dennis Zine, news director Julie Chin, and director of programming Andy Ludlum.