Harsh Reality of Today’s Radio Business Forces Clear Channel’s Major “Reduction in Force.” This latest round of firings is focused on Clear Channel’s small and medium markets and is affecting primarily on-air and programming staff. Internally, Clear Channel stations are broken down into three categories: the majors, the mids and the small markets – the latter sometimes referred to by insiders humorously as the stations that are for sale. But in this economy those small stations – many of which were purchased in the late 1990s as the then-Randy Michaels-led radio group was buying stations at an astounding pace – are for all intents and purposes under water. The company analyzed each station in an hour-by-hour fashion to determine how much it costs to program and execute the product versus how much it is making. Programs and hosts whose shows are in the black are likely to be retained; those in the red are those about whom you are reading today. The company is not describing this strategy as cost cutting but leveraging the quality programming it owns and distributing it to the small – or regional – markets. The reality is that Clear Channel has a lot of debt it must pay off and – not unlike the homeowner who bought before the housing bubble burst and owes more than his house is worth – must make drastic cuts and hope that it can continue to engage listeners and serve advertisers with “Premium Choice” programming from afar and managers doing more jobs within the same work day. This situation is unique to neither Clear Channel nor the radio business. The following list of people working in news or at talk stations for CC are reported to have been let go. This list is not complete and doesn’t include those from music-formatted stations. Reports indicate several hundred employees will be out when all is said and done. The list: KFAB, Omaha PM drive host Tom Becka; Clear Channel Hudson Valley news director Cameron Hendrix; WERC, Birmingham, Alabama news director Mark Evans; WHAM, Rochester news anchor Beth Adams; WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse talk host Jim Reith; KWTX, Waco, Texas PD and morning host Shane Warner; WJBO, Baton Rouge, Louisiana mid-morning talk host Clarence Buggs; and WGY and WOFX, Albany assistant PD Steve Bleznyk.
Cumulus Los Angeles Cuts Include Legendary Jock Jim Ladd. So far the cuts at Cumulus’ Los Angeles stations have not affected any air talent at news/talk KABC. Production directors at both KABC and KLOS-FM – Howard Hoffman and Mike Sherry, respectively – are out as is KLOS-FM program director Bob Buchmann. But Southern California radio fans are shocked to find legendary jock Jim Ladd – ironically, the subject of Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” – has been sacked. The 63-year-old Ladd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.
Lionel Expands Role at New York’s WPIX-TV. What began as his doing a short form commentary running once per day on the evening news has expanded to multiple roles and appearances for the iconoclastic talk radio veteran and podcasting pioneer on the Tribune Company-owned Channel 11 in the Big Apple. Lionel has just debuted his weekday “5@5” segment on the daily newscast in addition to being featured on PIX 11 seven nights a week with fresh video commentary on its 10:00 pm newscast. Lionel, an ex-prosecutor and criminal defense trial lawyer, has also inaugurated his “Lionel’s Law School” segment. Plus, he appears weekly as PIX 11’s resident “News Decoder” on its Monday morning news broadcast and at pix11.com. Lionel’s commentaries are also broadcast nationally through Tribune Company’s affiliates including KPLR 11 in St. Louis. Lionel, a regular TALKERS columnist, has gained national attention as a talk “media station” groundbreaker with his lionelmedia.com.
Rusty Humphries Named National Radio Spokesman for Vietnam Memorial Effort. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is spearheading a campaign to build a multi-media education center adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. In addition to his duties as national radio spokesman, Talk Radio Network host Rusty Humphries is leading the “Veterans Day Challenge” to raise funds for the center. He will also serve as emcee at a gala benefit at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC on November 11 that will feature actor Tom Selleck. Humphries’ father died in Vietnam in 1969 when Rusty was just three years old. Humphries says, “Every time I’m in Washington, I visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, gaze up at my father’s name on Panel 34W, Line 84, and wish that I’d have gotten to know the man whose name appears there, my father. The Education Center at the Wall will provide a living memorial to these heroes – not just the men and women like my dad whose names appear on the Wall, but all veterans, from Bunker Hill to the present day.”
Tom Marr’s Contract at WCBM Extended Again. Veteran talk show host Tom Marr of WCBM, Baltimore has been given another extension of his unique contract until 2015. Marr first signed a no-cut deal with the independently owned heritage station in September of 1977. It was then extended until 2009. Marr reached an agreement on July 3, 2008 with the late owner of WCBM, Nick Mangione, Sr., to extend through 2012. Now Marr has signed an extension with WCMB president Mary C. Mangione that will run until 2015. Upon signing the deal, WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. tells TALKERS, “Ownership is very pleased to have Tom’s commitment to remain on WCBM’s team. Tom performs a public service that is informative, beneficial, and entertaining for our listeners.” Marr comments, “I am delighted that my career will end with WCBM and the Mangione Family Enterprises.” Pictured here at the signing ceremony are: WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. (standing); seated (l-r) are Mangione Family Enterprise attorney Joe LaVerghetta, Mangione Family Enterprise president Mary Mangione, and host Tom Marr.
Clear Channel Adds FM Simulcast to WVOC, Columbia, South Carolina. The victim this time is urban WXBT-FM at 100.1 and, of course, the entire staff of the music station as CC gives news/talk WVOC an FM presence.
Ric Edelman’s “Truth About Money” Public TV Show Heads into Season Two. Author, broadcaster and financial advisor Ric Edelman will produce a second season of his public TV show that shares the same name as his nationally syndicated talk radio show – “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman.” Season one hit public TV stations across the country earlier this spring and season two will be ready for air in April of next year. Executive producer Russ Hodge says, “Public Television executives and viewers around the country were so taken with the solid financial guidance they received from Ric, they wholeheartedly endorsed the notion of our coming back for another season. It’s no secret Ric is recognized as one of America’s top financial advisors, and in these uncertain economic times, viewers gravitate to his expertise and know-how.”
USRN Offers Kim Iversen Show in New Format. “Your Time with Kim Iversen” has been available in syndication via United Stations Radio Networks talk-intensive music show for Hot AC stations since 2007. Now, after partnering with Entercom – the company that created the show – to bring it into wider syndication earlier this year, USRN announces that show is available as a live feed or a “build your own show” format. Beginning November 13, the live feed will be a two-hour, personality-driven talk show airing live from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. Stations wishing to continue airing music in the show can use the show segments around music to build a five-hour program. USRN EVP of programming Andy Denemark says, “Kim is an amazing talent, but we found that programmers had varied opinions on how they wanted her show to air. Some wanted strictly a talk block, others were happy with the Hot AC show and still others wanted her content mixed with CHR or alternative music. Now, every affiliate gets their wish!”
ABC Digital Clients Now Get News from ABC Sports. Stations subscribing to ABC Digital for news feeds for their websites now can get sports content from ABC Sports, according to ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones. “By adding sports headlines to our lineup of ABC Digital choices, we’re enhancing our radio customers’ websites at no additional cost to them. Several of our partners have expressed an interest in adding a recognized sports brand and we’re pleased to make ABC Sports – a name steeped in tradition – a new category they can add to their station’s website with the simple click of a button.” ABC Digital service was recently launched by ABC News Radio and Cumulus Media Networks. The ready-to-post online content is produced and updated 24 hours a day and includes breaking news, exclusive stories, photos and graphics. Stations also have the option to brand the service locally, monetizing the content through local sponsorships.
Barb Yoder Moves into GM Seat at Salem Communications’ Tampa Cluster. A series of management promotions at Salem Communications means a promotion for Tampa and Sarasota cluster general sales manager Barb Yoder and an open GSM post at the stations. Yoder moves into the GM post as former GM Chris Gould moves to the corporate level in the vice president of program development position based in Camarillo, California. Gould replaces Ron Walters who is promoted to senior vice president, ministry relations.
Affiliate Relations Pro Rich Rapiti Victim of Dial Global-Westwood One Merger. New York-based affiliate relations pro Rich Rapiti lost his position as part of the consolidation of Dial Global and Westwood One. He’s available for his next challenge and can be reached at email@example.com or 973-809-3049.
Former Cap Cities/ABC COO Dan Burke Passes Away at 82. Dan Burke and partner Tom Murphy are credited with building Cap Cities into a major broadcasting force and buying ABC to create Cap Cities/ABC. The two ran the company for a decade before selling it to Disney in 1996. Salem Radio Network VP of news/talk programming Tom Tradup remembers working for Burke when he was GM of WLS, Chicago. “I will always remember Burke’s steely eyes and his tough questioning (especially at this time of the year during budgeting!) as we s-l-o-w-l-y turned WLS from the 23rd station in Chicago and put it on track to become a top-five news/talk giant. He was firm but fair, and if people in Chicago enjoy WLS in 2011…they probably can thank Dan Burke more than anyone else for showing patience and for keeping others within the company from panicking as WLS grew and ultimately prospered in the #3 radio market in America.”