Downsizing at Dial Global/Westwood One; Rumors of Cuts at Clear Channel. The merger of Dial Global and Westwood One was bound to come with the elimination of some positions as both companies do pretty much the same thing: produce, affiliate and rep radio programs. There are no confirmed firings but the word on the street is that about 40 of the now-combined companies’ 600 employees were let go from its New York, Los Angeles and Dallas offices. Meanwhile at Clear Channel, the grapevine is producing chatter that layoffs in medium and small markets are coming based on the company’s hour-by-hour breakout of cost-versus-revenue in the programming departments of its stations. This could mean some local talent getting pink-slipped in favor of the company’s “Premium Content” – a euphemism for in-house syndication.
NPR’s Michele Norris Takes Leave from “All Things Considered” So Husband Can Work for Obama Campaign. After a couple of high-profile PR gaffes, NPR is out front on this one. Michele Norris’ husband Broderick Johnson accepted a senior advisory role with President Obama’s re-election campaign and in a quick response, Norris and NPR are agreeing that Norris will take leave from her co-host role on “All Things Considered” after Friday’s broadcast. Norris will continue to work for NPR producing segments and features but will not be involved in any type of election coverage. In a statement, Norris says, “This has all happened very quickly, but working closely with NPR management, we’ve been able to make a plan that serves the show, honors the integrity of our news organization and is best for me professionally and personally. I will certainly miss hosting, but I will remain part of the ATC team and I look forward to contributing to our show and NPR in new and exciting ways.”
Clear Channel Names John Ivey Senior VP of Programming; Robin Bertolucci Extends PD Responsibilities. Vice president of programming for the Los Angeles cluster John Ivey is promoted to SVP of programming for Clear Channel radio. Ivey has been PD at CHR KIIS-FM, Los Angeles since 2001 and in his new position he’ll assist with CHR programming and talent development across the entire CC Radio operation. At the same time, KFI program director Robin Bertolucci re-signs with the company to continue leading the mega-successful news/talk station and its sister progressive talk outlet KTLK into the future. Prior to joining Clear Channel Los Angeles, Bertolucci programmed the AM stations at Clear Channel’s Denver cluster. CC Radio CEO John Hogan says, “For the past two decades, John has made innumerable contributions to our company’s success, especially over the last 10 years in Los Angeles at KIIS-FM, and Robin has led the iconic KFI brand to unprecedented audience growth and engagement. As a company, we put a priority on recognizing our high performers with advancement opportunities to grow and develop their careers and we are pleased to have great programming management talent like John and Robin renew their commitment to the Clear Channel team.”
Syndicated Lex & Terry Morning Hosts Sue Seven Bridges WJXL, Jacksonville. This one’s a contract dispute. United Stations Radio Networks-syndicated morning hosts Lex Staley and Terry Jaymes were brought aboard Seven Bridges’ sports talk WJXL, Jacksonville in April of this year with what Lex & Terry say was a three-year deal. Their show was pulled from the air on October 10. The details of the contract aren’t clear but the duo have hired Jacksonville attorney John M. Phillips to handle the dispute. Ironically, Phillips hosted a legal call-in show on WJXL called “Sports & Courts.” Phillips states, “For months I have preached accountability on my radio show. Whether someone is injured at the hands of another…or someone wants to simply get out of a contract because of personal preference, the law enforces accountability. WJXL is accountable to Lex & Terry and hopefully this matter will be resolved soon.” Syndication contracts are usually pretty clear in stating the terms for ending the deal so it’ll be interesting to see what transpires in this case.
Clear Channel Promotes American Express’ Second Annual “Small Business Saturday” Initiative. The “Small Business Saturday” initiative is a campaign spearheaded by American Express to promote shopping at local, independent stores and businesses on Saturday, November 26. A six-point promotional campaign begins tomorrow and runs through November 26 that includes: a public interest campaign across Clear Channel’s 850 radio stations, on-air advocacy by popular station personalities, the telling of local small business success stories, promotion via social media and digital integration, local advisory board activities and community events in local markets along with initiative partner Women Impacting Public Policy. Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan states, “Our goal is to stimulate small business sales on the biggest shopping weekend of the year by reminding listeners of the impact on their communities. The campaign is also intended to give a bigger voice to small business owners.”
Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 and WJLK-FM, Asbury Park Host “Home Cooking” NTR Event. The two Townsquare Media stations are presenting the “Taste of Home Cooking Show” in conjunction with the popular food and entertaining magazine Taste of Home at Branches Catering in West Long Branch, New Jersey on November 1. Listeners can buy tickets – including a VIP ticket for $50 per person – to sample dishes and get cooking tips from the magazine’s culinary specialist Eric Villegas who will demonstrate 10 new recipes. VIP ticket holders will get a meet and greet with Villegas and an autographed copy of his new book, Taste of Home Christmas Cookies & Candy.
WWJ, Detroit Hosts “Resurrecting Detroit” Business Breakfast. This one’s not an NTR event but a community goodwill promotion. CBS Radio’s WWJ, Detroit produces the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report written by the station’s technology editor Matt Roush. The station has developed a program called the WWJ/GLITR UnWIRED coffee series and this particular breakfast is part of that. The event will be held at Lawrence Technological University’s ULTC Gallery on Thursday, October 27. Roush will moderate a panel discussion by local business leaders on ways to improve the city of Detroit and strengthen its business core. WWJ station manager Pete Kowalski says, “WWJ remains committed to Detroit and we’re proud to present another great business breakfast. This panel, with such stellar business leaders, will be discussing some truly innovative and transforming ideas for the city. It promises to be a very exciting and inspiring event.”
WTVN, Columbus “Morning Monarch” Bob Conners to Retire. Bob Conners has hosted the morning drive show on Clear Channel’s news/talk WTVN, Columbus since 1978 – he began working at the station in 1964. Now, Conners announces he’ll retire on November 30. He tells his listeners he’s honored and humbled to have been able to do what he loves for so long. WTVN program director Mike Elliott tells WBNS-TV, “Bob Conners has been a staple in Columbus radio for a very long time; consider the mold broken. Bob always said, ‘Radio has been good to me,’ but Bob Conners was good for radio.” Connors has been at it in AM drive so long his colleagues nicknamed him the “morning monarch.” WTVN Saturday morning host Joel Riley will take over the AM drive show on an interim basis in December.