Archive for March, 2012
Surprise Cuts Across the Board at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. In the past when Clear Channel or other big broadcasters have made sweeping reductions in their workforces there have been hints they were coming. This one seems to have surprised industry watchers. Clear Channel vice president Angel Aristone released the following statement about the cuts. “We are constantly evaluating our organization and structure to make sure we are as well positioned as possible to continue to lead in the evolving marketplace. We’ve been looking closely at our business to ensure that we are properly staffed and operating as efficiently as possible with the right balance of services and personnel to meet the needs of our listeners/consumers. Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company and that creates some new jobs, and unfortunately eliminates others. In the process, some employees were affected. These are never easy decisions to make; we thank them for their service and wish them all the best for the future.” This round of cuts affected mostly mid-sized markets including Columbus, Jacksonville, Nashville, Cincinnati, Portland, Louisville, West Palm Beach and Minneapolis. There was also a restructuring of the company’s Total Traffic operation. Some of the folks from the news and talk formats ousted include: WTAM, Cleveland weekend host Bob Becker; WTOK, Oklahoma City news director Jerry Bohnen; WISN, Milwaukee producer Jason Booth; WPOP, Hartford producer Richard Cooke; WTVN, Columbus news staffer Matt Demczyk; KEX, Portland news staffer Jeff Kirsch; KEX, Portland news anchor Mary Loos; WTOK, Oklahoma City talk host Greg Moore; WLAC, Nashville program director Tom Peace; and WTVN, Columbus sports anchor Dan Watson.
Cumulus Media Ousts Michael Damsky from WLS, Chicago President/GM Post. Cumulus Media COO John Dickey flew into Chicago to deliver the news to Michael Damsky in person that the company is “going in a different direction.” Damsky was brought on board by Citadel in the fall of 2008 as director of sales and promoted to GM in 2010 and charged with turning around news/talk WLS and sister classic hits WLS-FM. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports he was apparently largely successful but also notes that both sales and ratings have declined over the past six months since Cumulus took over the former Citadel stations. Damsky is quoted saying, “I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in three-and-a-half years. When I took over as general manager, WLS-AM was without direction. We brought in great talent and worked hard to showcase them. And WLS-FM withstood the attack of a serious competitor a year ago and is stronger now than ever before.” Cumulus has not named a successor for Damsky.
Former Clear Channel Exec Dave Crowl Hired by Cumulus. Dave Crowl will be based out of Cumulus’ Chicago offices as he comes aboard to take the regional vice president post in which he’ll oversee operations and sales in the Midwest region. Crowl served as senior VP of operations with Clear Channel until being let go in a surprise restructuring of executives in May of last year.
Tom Leykis Preps Fans for Monday Return. Monday, April 2 will mark the return of Tom Leykis to a regularly scheduled talk program for the first time since CBS Radio blew up his home base of hot talk KLSX-FM, Los Angeles in February of 2009. Since that time, Leykis has been busy creating music programming and other content for the web via his company The New Normal. He’ll be broadcasting the new Tom Leykis program at 3:00 pm PT on the web on Monday. Leykis is streaming his show via a number of urls including his blowmeuptom.com. He’s signed with TuneIn for delivery to smartphones and tablets and will also offer archived and special content to premium subscribers, although he says the live show and repeats of the previous day’s show will remain available for free.
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Extends Deal with MLB’s Brewers. The story from the Journal-owned Milwaukee Journal Sentinel doesn’t give a lot of contract details but reports both the baseball club and WTMJ were very interested in continuing their relationship and the team wasn’t even interested in going out to bid when the contract expired. Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger tells the paper they had meetings with WTMJ management about the direction of the relationship, “The conversations were, I would say, spirited. We had a lot of thoughts, as they did, about what they wanted to see out of the relationship. It’s not just economics these days. There is a whole range of marketing, branding, programming, production and financial arrangements. From those discussions we found enough common ground that we were able to forge a new extension. It was somewhat of a different environment than the last time.”
KGMZ-FM, San Francisco Adds Giants Posey and Cain for Weekly Appearances. Entercom’s FM sports talker KGMZ-FM, San Francisco announces the regular weekly appearances of San Francisco Giants players Buster Posey and Matt Cain on the afternoon show “The Drive” with Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis. The Giant Connection will take place every Tuesday at 4:30 pm. Program director Jason Barrett states, “Buster Posey and Matt Cain will give San Francisco Giants fans the superstar perspective they crave, from the pitcher’s mound to behind home plate and definitely inside the clubhouse. They’ve made the switch to FM and we’re so proud to be the only radio station in the Bay Area where Giants fans can hear Buster and Matt talking Giants baseball.”
KILT, Houston Adds Texan Arian Foster for Weekly Show This Fall. Houston Texan Arian Foster will be heard on CBS Radio’s sports talk KILT this fall for his weekly radio show. He’s jumping from crosstown Yahoo! Sports-affiliated KGOW where he co-hosted the show last year with Bob Berger. Beginning in September, he’ll appear with Texans director of radio broadcasting Marc Vandermeer. KILT is the team’s flagship station. Foster’s Tuesday evening show is one of the media offerings the NFL team is programming and selling since its new deal with KILT in which the team takes its media programming and sales in house.
ObamaCare Supreme Court Arguments Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 26-30. This week’s Supreme Court hearings of arguments about the constitutionality of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. The issue landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-discussed stories and people on news/talk radio. At #2 this week was the Trayvon Martin case. At #3 was the GOP primary and the 2012 presidential campaign and at #4 was rising gas prices tied with President Obama’s attack on big oil. The Talkers TenTM chart is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
Support for Captured Soldier. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller recently broadcast live from a local Krispy Kreme store where more than 300 listeners stopped by to sign the giant birthday card (pictured here) for Hailey, Idaho native Bowe Bergdahl. Military authorities believe Bergdahl is still being held by the Taliban in Pakistan and he is believed to be the only POW from the Afghanistan conflict. Bergdahl made news late last year after reports of his attempted escape from captivity in late August or September of 2011. He was free for three days but was recaptured. Bergdahl was taken by the Taliban in June of 2009.
Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman Addresses Limbaugh Case in AP Interview. In a far-reaching interview with the Associated Press given at the American Association of Advertising Agencies conference in Los Angeles, Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman answered questions about the controversy over the Rush Limbaugh–Sandra Fluke incident and the war being waged against Limbaugh and Premiere Networks by Media Matters for America. Pittman – who hadn’t commented on the case since it exploded a month ago – told the AP Limbaugh is the “king” of radio and he’s sticking by him and he called the controversy “part of the normal day-to-day of talk radio.” Pittman also said the resulting campaign by Media Matters and boycotts on sponsors has not had a major impact on the company nor has there been a move by stations to drop the show. When asked about Cumulus Media Networks’ strategy of using the Limbaugh case to promote soon-to-be-syndicated talk host Mike Huckabee, Pittman stated, “It basically says Rush is the king. Rush is certainly the leader, and we’re delighted to have him.”
Courtside Entertainment Lands Dr. Drew in Major Markets. Courtside Entertainment Group announces the “One Minute Clinic with Dr. Drew” is picked up in Los Angeles by KFWB; KPTK, Seattle; KEXX, Phoenix; and KDWN, Las Vegas. The feature is already heard in Chicago and New York on Merlin Media’s two all-news FMs. Courtside president Bob Moore states, “‘Minute Clinic’ provides listeners with important information on medicine, relationships, and coping with the problems of everyday life. It’s interesting, informative and entertaining from one of media’s most trusted and reliable experts – Dr. Drew Pinsky. It’s exactly the kind of specialized programming that we are focusing on at Courtside.” The feature is repped by Compass Media for ad sales and support.
Election Year Making FAIR’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” Radio Row a Hot Event. The annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row sponsored by Federation for American Immigration Reform and taking place in Washington, DC on May 8 and 9 is packed with talk radio hosts and stations taking part but election year interest is prompting FAIR to expand the event and allow even more broadcasters to take part. Event manager Bob Dane says, “The fact that this annual radio row has a history of providing access to A-list guests and includes all equipment, ISDN lines, engineering support and long distance at no charge is really increasing demand to participate.” For those who think the event is for conservatives only, Dial Global talk host Thom Hartmann explains why he’s attended in the past. “I’ve attended because a core part of my show is bringing on people with whom I disagree so we can let listeners and viewers see/hear the issues in sharp relief and make up their own minds. That said, I also – having lived and worked on several continents, and having had to go through arduous processes to get work permits in Germany and Australia – know how important it is to have a work force that matches the demand for labor, and the best ways to insure that are through rational/sane immigration and trade policies. We have neither right now.” WCBM, Baltimore talk host Tom Marr says, “After taking my show to the border twice, ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ is a chance for invaluable access to the folks on the front line of the problem that I did not see, while at the same time being with those in Washington, DC who make the policy to secure the border and if one desires to get another side. Capitol Hill is a short walk across the street. It also gives one the ability in free time to visit the Hill and talk with Members about other problems faced by our nation every day. Would not miss it for the world. Hands down the best organized event for people in the talk business if its kind.” For stations whose P1s care very much about immigration issues, it’s a can’t miss, according to KARN-AM/FM, Little Rock talk host Dave Elswick, “I go every year to ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ because illegal immigration is a hot topic to my listeners but most importantly the issue impacts other important issues. Welfare reform, importance of protecting each man’s vote, and health care reform to name a few. Two strong days of experts dealing with all those issues can’t be missed.” WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale talk host Joyce Kaufman says she’s used the event to connect with her audience and the Congress members serving her listener area. “I get invited to a lot of ‘radio row’ events each year. The only event that I participate in year after year is FAIR’s ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ rally. From the first year when I dumped 5,000 ‘soles’ (shoes with listeners’ messages written on the sole) to subsequent years, my audience supports my effort and some even come along and lobby Congress.” For information about the event, contact Bob Dane at 202-328-7004.
KKOB, Albuquerque Charges Local Pol with Slandering Station. There are no legal charges being filed but Cumulus Media’s KKOB, Albuquerque feels it’s the victim of a slur by City Councilman Ray Garduno. Program director Pat Frisch reports that during a council meeting debate over a controversial road project of which KKOB morning host Bob Clark has encouraged listeners to call Garduno’s office about, Garduno referred to the station as K-K-KOB – a reference to the Ku Klux Klan. In the audio, Garduno quickly corrects himself but Frisch says this isn’t the first time the station has been referred to as K-K-KOB by a local Democratic politician. Frisch says State Senator Eric Griego did the same last year. As for Garduno, Frisch states, “His racist remark is an attack on our listeners and to find a true racist, Garduno only needs to look in the mirror.”
JetBlue Pilot Incident Sparks Buzz on Talk Radio. As talk radio hosts will tell you, one never knows when the next big story will come out of the “blue” and that is exactly the case this morning as talk show hosts of just about every format – political, lifestyle, pop culture, and medical – are feasting on the multi-dimensional aspects of yesterday’s frightening JetBlue pilot incident. According to PodJockey.com resident psychiatrist Renee Kohanski, MD, “It is not like the experience of going to the airport and flying in today’s environment alone doesn’t foster an atmosphere of stress, yesterday afternoon’s unfortunate outburst by a pilot on the heels of a similar situation two weeks ago involving a flight attendant only serves to increase the level of passenger anxiety building across the nation. From a medical and psychiatric perspective, this case is rife with questions and all sorts of speculation. People want to know why things like this happen but the answers are not always immediately apparent!” Dr. Kohanski is available today for phone interviews to discuss the story from a medical perspective citing the many questions and possible causes of yesterday’s shocking and disturbing story. She can be reached at 860-334-4576.
Cumulus Media Providence Launches “Putting Rhode Island Back to Work” Campaign. The cluster of Cumulus Media stations in Providence – including news/talk 630 WPRO & 99.7 – is beginning an on-air campaign titled “Putting Rhode Island Back to Work.” With the support of sponsor Twin River Casino, the cluster is reaching out to and airing stories about Rhode Island businesses that have recently hired. General manager Barbara Haynes says, “News Talk 630 WPRO & 99.7 FM, 92 PRO-FM, HOT106, Lite Rock 105 and 790 Business reach hundreds of thousands of listeners every day – we are excited to be able to highlight some of the companies helping refuel our local economy in front of our massive audience.” The vignettes will also appear on the cluster’s digital properties.
Dial Global Partners with Yamanair Creative Worldwide. Dial Global subsidiary TM Creative enters into a partnership with Yamanair Creative’s Cash by Creative production and creative service. In a statement, DG notes TM Creative will serve as a creative arm to Cash by Creative, providing copywriting, commercial production and retail jingles. This will further enhance Cash by Creative’s ability to offer world-class creative and production to its growing list of clients. TM Creatvie VP/GM Chris Long says, “We are excited about this kind of creative partnership, as TM continues to expand its reach with both radio stations and advertisers.”
Entercom Portland Names Tim McNamara VP/Market Manager. Tim McNamara is no stranger to the Portland, Oregon radio market. He previously managed at Paul Allen’s Rose City Radio there and now he returns with Entercom to serve as VP/Market Manager for the company’s seven-station group that includes sports talk KFXX.
Supreme Court ObamaCare Hearing, Trayvon Martin Case, GOP Primary/2012 Presidential Race, Jet Blue Pilot Incident and Gas Prices Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/27). The Supreme Court arguments over the validity of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act; ongoing scrutiny of the Trayvon Martin shooting; the Republican primary race and the larger 2012 presidential campaign; the case of the Jet Blue pilot; and soaring gas prices were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Jim Graci Named Program Director at KDKA, Pittsburgh. CBS Radio announces the new program director for its news/talk KDKA, Pittsburgh several months after it chose not to renew its contract with former PD Marshall Adams. Jim Graci – who previously programmed crosstown WEAE – comes north from Cumulus’ KLIF where he’s been serving as PD. Also at KDKA, longtime KDKA news staffer P.J. Kumanchik is promoted to news director at the station.
WAXY, Miami Announces Tod Castleberry Takes PD Role at Station. Program director and Dan LeBatard show executive producer and cast member Marc Hochman is probably almost as happy about this hire as Tod Castleberry is. Hochman’s been handling both roles and agreed with Lincoln Financial Media to continue in both until a successor for his PD position could be found. Hochman wants to put his total concentration on the Dan LeBatard show and now he can do that. Tod Castleberry has worked at Red Zebra’s sports WTEM, Washington and most recently has been working as partner and executive producer of the John Riggins internet show.
ABC News Radio to Produce Special Program Sparked by Trayvon Martin Death. The special one-hour broadcast will take place tomorrow night (3/28) at 7:00 pm ET and will be hosted by “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts. Titled, “Race and Justice: A National Conversation,” the show will focus on the national dialogue that’s been spurred by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. ABC News Radio says the show will feature “Robin Roberts leading a town hall discussion with prominent newsmakers and an audience of high school students and parents. The program will further the national discussion involving all racial and ethnic groups stirred by the circumstances of Trayvon Martin’s death.” The show is available to ABC News Radio affiliates.
TRN’s Michael Savage to Publish New Non-Fiction Book. Nationally syndicated talk sensation Michael Savage’s new book hits the bookstore shelves on April 3 – with major booksellers currently taking pre-orders. In Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America (Harper Collins 2012), Savage examines the state of the nation and especially how he believes the Obama Administration is on the wrong path. He writes, “Obama is actively creating a populace ever more slavishly dependent on the federal government.” Other topics include punishing success, “The president has openly declared war on those who have worked hard all their lives to achieve the American dream.” Savage discusses how we treat our enemies and allies, “He treats radical Islamists in the Middle East as friends, then stiffs Israel and our Western European allies.” He says that the military is used like pawns, “While Obama uses proud Navy SEALs for a publicity stunt, and the overall strength of the military has been decimated.” Other topics including the Southern border chaos and corporate cronyism are covered in a way that only Michael Savage could reveal. Savage is the author of 26 books including four New York Times bestsellers.
Arbitron and California Agree to Settlement in PPM Suit. The State of California and the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco are settling their suit against Arbitron for its practices regarding the Portable People Meter that the entities alleged underrepresented minorities and minority-targeted radio stations. Arbitron states, “As part of the settlement, Arbitron has agreed to continue a number of measures already an integral part of the company’s current PPM methodology and of its continuous improvement program for the Portable People Meter ratings services in all markets. These measures include the already completed transition to address-based sample frames, cell-phone-only sampling rates, reporting country of origin for Hispanic households and certain other sample performance and demographic information to subscribers by individual zip code, continuing efforts to maintain or achieve specific in-tab rates and Sample Performance Indicators, and continuing the company’s commitment to using all reasonable measures to achieve Media Rating Council accreditation for the data produced by the PPM ratings service in all California markets. These commitments are generally consistent with the company’s agreements with other states and are in force through December 31, 2014, or until MRC accreditation is granted, whichever comes first. The Company also agreed to pay a total of $400,000 in settlement of all claims and costs.” Arbitron states the settlement is not an admission of fault.
Dennis Miller Celebrates His 5th Anniversary Week with Special Guests. Dial Global talk show host Dennis Miller is celebrating his 5th anniversary hosting his nationally syndicated talk show this week and he’s scheduled some high-profile guests for the event. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney joins the show today (3/27). Other guests this week include: AMC’s “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, National Review editor Rich Lowry and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Thursday’s special anniversary show, good friend and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will join Miller. Also coming on the show that day will be actor/comedian David Spade, who’s currently on CBS’s “Rules of Engagement” and Adam Carolla, who’s on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Dial Global EVP of news and talk programming Bart Tessler states, “Dennis consistently brings together such an eclectic and interesting group of guests. Only he could seamlessly switch from a compelling political conversation with a presidential candidate to tapping into the zeitgeist with a late night comic.”
Cumulus Media Networks to Syndicate Medical Feature with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The vignettes to begin distribution in May through Cumulus Media Networks are broken into two target demos: one style for news/talk stations and another for a younger audience on music and entertainment stations. Two features per day for each variety will be available. Cumulus chairman, president and CEO Lew Dickey says, “Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a unique and profoundly talented individual. His insights and experience will bring compelling content to our affiliates and create powerful new vehicles for our advertisers. We look for Dr. Gupta to be an important component in our overall content strategy.” Dr. Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and serves as chief medical correspondent for CNN.
WOR, New York’s Former Governor David Paterson to Host Political Roundtable Event. Afternoon drive host former Governor David Paterson will moderate a special roundtable discussion from the famous Russian Tea Room broadcast live on WOR, New York on April 5. Taking part in this “State of the Tri-State” three-hour expanded edition (to be broadcast from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on WOR) of the Governor’s show are: former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, New York City Councilman Robert Jackson, New Jersey Association of School Administrators executive director Dr. Richard Bozza, Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), national security expert K.T. McFarland, and Abdur-Rashid, religious and spiritual leader of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem. WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “There is no one more uniquely qualified than Governor Paterson to bring together these top names on one radio broadcast to discuss the issues that are most important to our listeners and our community. Headlines are sure to be made during this very special program.” The broadcast is open to members of the press but not to the public.
Salem Communications Buys Detroit-Area Translator for News/Talk WDTK. Salem Communications is paying $250,000 for the FM translator currently at 97.5 and licensed to Harrison, Michigan. The seller is Tim Martz’s Radio Power and there’s currently a construction permit to move the translator to Detroit proper and to the 92.7 frequency. Salem intends to use the FM signal to assist its news/talk WDTK, Detroit.
ObamaCare Goes Before Supreme Court, Pressure Heightens for Charges in Trayvon Martin Case, GOP Primary Race and Obama-Medvedev Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/26). The first day of arguments at the Supreme Court over aspects of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act; the growing pressure on authorities to arrest George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin; the GOP primary race; and the flap over President Obama’s remarks to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Makes Changes at KLIF, Dallas. The move toward more news in commercial spoken-word radio continues. Cumulus Media Group announces talk station KLIF, Dallas will add morning and afternoon drive news blocks and changes its slogan to “News & Information 570 KLIF.” The AM drive news block begins today (3/26) and features Amy Chodroff (from sister WBAP) and Dave Williams co-anchoring the program. Williams most recently worked at Merlin Media’s all-newser in Chicago. The PM drive news block is expected to begin on April 2. The changes mean morning drive talk host Jeff Bolton is out and PM drive talk host Chris Krok will move to sister WBAP-AM/FM for an evening talk show.
Current TV’s Bill Press and Stephanie Miller Simulcasts Debut Today. The new one-two punch of progressive radio talk stars hitting the air at Al Gore-founded Current TV begins this morning (3/26) as Dial Global syndicated talk hosts Bill Press and Stephanie Miller air TV simulcasts of their morning drive radio programs on Current TV. “Full Court Press: The Bill Press Show” airs from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and “Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show” follows from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm ET. The network announces that Senator Chris Coons, (D-DE); Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post; Faiz Shakir of Think Progress; and Lara Setrakian of ABC News and Bloomberg are all scheduled to appear during the premiere week of “Full Court Press.” The first week of “Talking Liberally” will feature Senator Byron Dorgan (ND – Former U.S. Senator and Chairman of The Senate Committee on Energy), as well as comedienne Kathleen Madigan.
Hubbard Broadcasting Names Emily Kopp WFED Morning Anchor. Hubbard Broadcasting announces a permanent addition to the morning drive show on WFED, Washington – the station dedicated to serving the many federal government workers living in the region. Emily Kopp joins host Tom Temin on the morning drive program. Kopp joined Federal News Radio in 2011 after living in the Netherlands where she reported on a freelance basis for various radio network and print outlets. Prior to her promotion, Kopp served Federal News Radio as a federal workforce reporter. Since July 2011, Kopp has produced several compelling series that focused on key human aspects of working for the federal government. WFED program director Lisa Wolfe states, “Emily had been filling in as co-anchor while we’ve been conducting our talent search for the next morning anchor. Her talents were obvious and when we got together to discuss the possibility of making it permanent, it just made sense. I look forward to Emily bringing her well-crafted interview style to mornings. I think she will uncover a lot of news.”
WTEM, Washington Launches New Afternoon Sports Talk Show Today. Red Zebra-owned WTEM, Washington announces the debut of “Inside the Locker Room with Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell” today (3/26). The show teams up former Washington Redskins Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell along with broadcast pro Scott Jackson. Walker continues with the station after 15 years, most recently serving as co-host of the John Thompson show. Both Mitchell and Jackson return to WTEM after several years’ absence. VP of programming Chuck Sapienza states, “With Doc and B-Mitch, ESPN 980’s lineup includes the two most prominent former players in Washington, DC media today. Listeners of the show will receive opinions and insight from professional athletes that is rarely offered on local radio. In addition, Jackson gives the show a ‘point guard’ that every successful program needs.” The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
KXTG, Portland Re-Signs John Canzano. “The Bald Faced Truth” host re-ups with Alpha Broadcasting’s sports KXTG on a multi-year deal to remain with the station. John Canzano also writes a column for the Daily Oregonian and is a commentator for KGW-TV, Portland. Upon announcing the deal, Canzano commented, “Sports talk listeners of ‘The Bald Faced Truth’ radio show are smart, educated, good looking, influential and relevant. I love my audience, my sponsors and this station. I’m staying right here because ‘The Game’ is the place to be. Period.”
Southern California Public Radio Names Melanie Sill Executive Editor. The former editor at the Sacramento Bee and the Raleigh News and Observer takes over the executive editor role at Southern California Public Radio. Her duties include overseeing the daily news gathering operations across KPCC, Pasadena’s broadcast, digital and social media platforms. KPCC VP for content Russ Stanton states, “Sill brings a wealth of news and managerial experience to this new position. Most importantly, she has been a force of change in two newsrooms, leading efforts to restructure staffs to better compete in the digital age.” The Southern California Public Radio website announces the non-profit is aggressively working to build out its online news service with ambitions to become the region’s pre-eminent source for information across multiple media.
Jacksonville Gets FM Simulcast for Sports WJXL. Seven Bridges Radio LLC buys the former Gospel WFJO-FM, Jacksonville (a class A FM signal at 92.5) from receiver Scott Savage for $1.95 million and begins an LMA immediately simulcasting its sports station 1010 XL (WJXL). The station was formerly owned by Tama Broadcasting.
Smerconish Visits Boston. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish (center, standing) chats with WTKK-FM, Boston listeners at a private meet & greet on March 20 prior to the national screening of his movie, “Book Club with Michael Smerconish Featuring Chris Matthews’ Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.” In addition to the meet & greet, Smerconish conducted a curtain call speech before the showing of the film at the Cinema De Lux in Dedham, Massachusetts before a sold out theater. The film appeared at more than 100 theaters across the country on that evening.
Media Matters Begins Paid Ad Campaign in Eight Markets Against Rush Limbaugh and Conservative Talk Radio. The Associated Press is reporting that Media Matters for America will spend some $100,000 on an ad campaign in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Macon, Georgia and Cedar Rapids, Iowa asking people who hear the ad to call the Rush Limbaugh affiliate in their market and say, “We don’t talk to women like that in our city.” Clearly, Media Matters is not backing off its attack on conservative talk media and any success it can claim for harming Limbaugh’s program – or conservative talk radio in general – will help bring in more donations to its cause. And, according to Premiere Networks spokesperson Rachel Nelson, therein lays the rub. “This is not about women. It’s not about ethics and it’s not about the nature of our public discourse. It’s a direct attack on America’s guaranteed First Amendment right to free speech. It’s essentially a call for censorship masquerading as high-minded indignation.” As this ideological and tactical war escalates, more important voices are entering the fray with a variety of takes on the issue. For example, leading progressive talker of radio, television and live performances, Stephanie Miller tells TALKERS, “I, for one, as someone in radio for over 25 years, know that advertiser boycotts can cut both ways and hurt everyone in the radio business. The other side can just as easily take something I said, or Ed Schultz said, and goes after our advertisers and stations, and then where does it end? ‘You send one of ours to the hospital; we send one of yours to the morgue’? If advertisers decide that talk radio in general is too controversial, we all lose!” Miller tells TALKERS that she intends to extend invitations to both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to appear as guests on her nationally syndicated morning radio program (simulcast beginning Monday on Al Gore’s progressive Current TV) to present their side of the story in a non-confrontational setting. Dial Global-syndicated progressive talk host Thom Hartmann is also bothered by the anti-Limbaugh campaign. “The Limbaugh boycott is bad for all talk radio; it’s harming progressive talk radio by shrinking the pool of companies willing to advertise on any type of talk radio. If people want to be activists “against” or “for” a show, they should call station management, not advertisers.”
America’s Radio News Network Gives CNN Radio Affiliates Free Trial of its 24-Hour News Service. With the CNN Radio news service going away after April 1, Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters says his company is offering the more than 1,100 CNN Radio affiliates the chance to take the America’s Radio News Network 24-hour top- and bottom-of-the-hour news service for 45 days contract and inventory free so they can make up their minds about their new news service without having to make a “snap decision.” Masters says, “This is a simple courtesy extended to those former CNN stations giving them a six week ‘pressure relief valve’ where they could sample our fine product inventory free without pressure, giving them extra time to make the best decision. Obviously we think that we are the best choice, but this offer was meant as a thoughtful courtesy to those stations that have not yet made up their minds – we don’t want them to be ‘high and dry’ on April 2.” Masters says because of the growth of America’s Radio News Network’s long-form programming and the demand for short-form top- and bottom-of-the-hour news brought on by CNN’s sudden departure from radio news ARNN recently announced that it had moved up its schedule for the launch of its second news network to accommodate the needs of radio stations looking for “agenda free” short-form news. ARNN EVP John McCaslin says, “We’re so confident that this is the best top- and bottom-of-the-hour news product on the air, we are willing to allow stations to air it, without inventory requirement contract free through May 15. So, all you have to ask yourself is, ‘What am I going to do with over 700 extra minutes of local inventory, if I take ARNN up on its free sample offer?’”
All-News KROI-FM, Houston Fires Morning Anchor Scott Braddock. It’s an unusual case but not unheard of and certainly becoming more relevant as intellectual property issues become more common in the industry. Radio One’s KROI-FM, Houston recently dismissed morning drive news anchor Scott Braddock after he appeared on crosstown, non-commercial outlet KPFT-FM to discuss the Texas sonogram law and play audio of an interview that also had previously aired on his employer’s station. He tells the Houston Chronicle he did so without asking permission and believes he had the right to air the audio, equating it with a reporter’s notes. Radio One disagreed, stating it violated the terms of his contract – a contract Braddock says he had not signed – and it had no choice but to let him go. Braddock says Radio One is overreacting and wonders why a station that worked hard to get him to come to Houston from Austin for the job would let one of its prime talent go as it works to get the nascent all-news outlet off the ground.
Denver Woman Charged with Felonies After Telling Tale of Escaping Jury Duty on KOA. Last October Susan Cole appeared on KOA, Denver’s Dave Logan program and told the story of how she got out of jury duty by dressing bizarrely and pretending to suffer from mental illness. Unfortunately, Denver District Court Judge Anne Mansfield was listening and, due in part to Cole’s memorable performance in court, investigators were able to figure out who she was. According to the Denver Post, Cole used the name “Char from Denver” on the radio program and investigators linked her to her pen name Char Cole. She published a book that details her struggles with domestic abuse under the name and offered it to investigators to prove her life story and the mental illness claim, but she was unable to show she suffers from PTSD which she claimed at her jury appearance. It’s unclear what penalty, if convicted, the 57-year-old Cole faces.
Sales: H&H Communications’ Al Herskovitz Announces the Winners of His 2012 Hersky Awards for Talk Radio Sales Excellence. For the fifth year running, sales and marketing pro and TALKERS columnist Al Herskovitz recognizes some of the industry’s shining stars in the sales, commercial and ad copy arenas. Read Al’s humorous yet insightful piece here.
KILT, Houston AM Drive Co-Host Marc Vandermeer to Leave Radio Show. The NFL’s Houston Texans are taking their broadcasts in-house and current KILT morning drive co-host Marc Vandermeer will leave the CBS Radio sports outlet to become director of radio broadcasting for the team. KILT serves as the flagship for the Texans and Vandermeer tells the Houston Chronicle he’ll still be affiliated with the station. “It’s awesome to be able to work for an NFL team and to be involved in all aspects of their radio programming. I’m not saying goodbye to Sports Radio 610, so I will still maintain my relationships there. It’s the best of everything for me.” Program director Gavin Spittle tells the paper Vandermeer will exit in late May or early June and he will begin looking for a replacement to work alongside co-host John Lopez.
KKFN, Denver Re-Ups with Talk Host Alfred Williams. Lincoln Financial Media sports talk host (and former Denver Bronco star) Alfred Williams signs a contract renewal to remain in the co-host seat alongside Darren “D-Mac” McKee on the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm program. In a statement, Williams says, “I am excited to continue to be a part of ‘The Fan.’ I love getting to interact locally with the Denver sports fans everyday and am happy to know I’ll be able to do it for many years to come.”
WRNN-AM/FM, Myrtle Beach Host Tara Servatius Exits Blog Position After Controversial Image Draws Criticism. Morning drive co-host Tara Servatius has left her position as a blogger for the non-profit John Locke Foundation after she used a doctored photo of President Obama in drag with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in front of him to accompany the piece about the president’s opposition to the North Carolina marriage amendment. Servatius apologized for the photo stating, “I am genuinely sorry my inclusion of the photo along with my blog post has caused controversy for the John Locke Foundation. If it has offended anyone, I sincerely regret that. That was certainly not my intention. It was meant to illustrate Obama’s southern political strategy, nothing more. An honest reading of the piece itself shows there is nothing offensive in it.” WRNN-AM/FM owner Next Media Group says the issue will not affect Servatius’ status with the station.
Los Angeles Sports Talk Personalities Joe McDonnell and Doug Krikorian to Host Daily Internet Show. Southern California sports talk personality Joe McDonnell, who’s been doing sports update work at KNX, Los Angeles, will begin a daily internet sports talk show with former radio partner Doug Krikorian, according to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan. The McDonnell-Douglas show will air from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on a yet-to-be announced URL. McDonnell was a major presence in the Los Angeles sports media scene going back to the 1980s but he disappeared from sports talk radio after leaving KLAC in 2008. He made the local news after undergoing gastric bypass surgery and losing some 400 pounds several years ago. The new show debuts on April 9 with a live broadcast from Legends Sports Bar in Long Beach.
Republican Primary/2012 Presidential Campaign Again Tops Talkers TenTM News/Talk Chart. The GOP primary race and the greater 2012 presidential campaign again tied for the most-talked-about topics on news/talk radio during the week of March 19-23 landing atop the Talkers TenTM chart for another straight week . Coming in at #2 was Iran’s nuclear weapons program tied with U.S.-Israel relations. At #3 was soaring gas prices tied with President Obama’s approval ratings and at #4 was the controversy over the slaying of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the most-talked-about stories and people of the week as heard on news/talk radio across American based on ongoing research from TALKERS. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge picks up major market affiliate WWRL, New York…..Dial Global’s Michael Smerconish adds Boise affiliate KYWN.
By Al Herskovitz
H & H Communications
BRADENTON, Fla. — Those minor, frivolous awards shows – the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, etc. – have come and gone and are mostly forgotten. Can anyone tell me who won the sound editing award for the best foreign language documentary? Who won what for what is but a dim memory, if that. All of this has been swept out of the way to make room for the most important of all: The 2012 Hersky Awards!
These are honors given to the very best in sales orientation in the talk format. Keep in mind there is no fancy ceremony with the ripping open of envelopes followed by the inevitable pregnant pause. No need to bring back Billy Crystal to salvage the event. There is no red carpet to walk in fancy, designer clothes where focus is put on how much “pupick” you can expose. There is no need to hire some expensive accounting firm to verify the honesty, authenticity, secrecy of the judging.
The process is very simple. There is only one judge. (See name above.) The judge reviews as much talk radio as he can hear and peruses as many talk station websites as he can view over the preceding 12 months. Keep in mind that the awards go only to national entities since it would be impossible to assess all the local ones, many of whom would be quite worthy in their own markets. There is one exception: local station website.
Rush Limbaugh Camp Fires Back at Media Matters with Scathing Statement. Embattled Premiere Networks talk radio star Rush Limbaugh, via his spokesperson Brian Glicklich in a commentary in Politico, yesterday afternoon issued an official response to the campaign being waged against the show by Media Matters. This is the first lengthy, official statement made about the advertising issue by Limbaugh’s organization since the controversy began and it has the industry buzzing. In Glicklich’s scathing attack on Media Matters’ tactics he writes the end result of the campaign hurts more people than Rush Limbaugh. “By putting small business in the crosshairs of their war on expression, Media Matters is causing real harm. They are hurting these businesses, their employees and their families. As a business owner, imagine waking up one morning and being assaulted by hundreds of coordinated attacks from operatives who never were or will be your customers.” Read Glicklich’s entire commentary here.
Los Angeles City Council Passes Resolution to “End Racist and Sexist Language” on Radio. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council – by a vote of 13 to 2 – passed a resolution that read: “NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that by adoption of this Resolution, the City Council urges all management of radio and television stations in Los Angeles to do everything in their power to ensure that their on-air hosts do not use and promote racist and sexist slurs over public airwaves in the City of Los Angeles.” The wording of the resolution was broadened with an amendment. The original intent and much of the discussion was targeted at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk KFI. Though language on the radio was discussed by the council, other discussion involved accusations by critics that lack of diversity in staffing – too few minorities and women in on-air roles, specifically – is to blame for occurrences of what they call racist and sexist slurs.
WTOP, Washington VP News and Programming Jim Farley Named 2012 Recipient of Freedom of Speech Award. The TALKERS editorial board has selected legendary radio news director Jim Farley as the 2012 recipient of the prestigious Freedom of Speech Award. The award will be presented to Farley at the New Media Seminar in New York City on Thursday, June 7. Farley, recently interviewed by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison (see Talkers TV at right and story below), will address “the renaissance of journalism in the new digital broadcasting era” following the presentation of the award. In a statement released Wednesday, March 21 Michael Harrison states, “We are witnessing the rebirth of committed journalism in America on the radio airwaves and its associated digital platforms. WTOP proudly shines as the inspirational example of this positive movement, and Jim Farley’s visionary leadership in bringing it to life on a day-to-day basis would make even Thomas Jefferson proud. The First Amendment is alive and well at WTOP. Jim Farley is a remarkable broadcaster.” The Freedom of Speech Award is a non-partisan honor that has been presented to a wide variety of talk media figures since 1990 whose work has demonstrated the First Amendment in action and raised awareness of its principles. Past recipients have included Brian Lamb, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, Jack Anderson, Norm Pattiz, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Bob Grant, Alan Dershowitz, Bill O’ Reilly, Gene Burns, G. Gordon Liddy, Howard Stern and more. Last year’s recipient was Juan Williams.
Scarborough Research Releases Study of Entertainment Spending by Baby Boomers. It’s probably not too surprising that the favorite radio formats of the Baby Boom generation are, in order, AC (30%), news/talk (28%), and classic hits (25%). The study includes statistics about how Boomers like to spend their free time – a nod to the types of ad clients likely to benefit from being heard on their favorite stations. It notes, “In the past 12 months Baby Boomers have attended a professional sporting event (36%), attended live theater (22%), visited an art museum (14%), attended a rock concert (12%) and gone to the symphony or opera (9%). And Baby Boomers don’t just have a hunger for entertainment – they are 11% more likely than all American adults to have eaten at a seafood restaurant or steakhouse in the past 30 days.” EVP of commercial development Brian Condon says, “Baby Boomers remain an essential demographic since they reap the rewards of having had long careers and no longer have young children to care for. Baby Boomers represent a segment of the American population that has a thirst for adventure, and the financial freedom to explore that passion.”
KGMZ-FM, San Francisco Adds Billy Beane and Bob Melvin to A’s Coverage. Entercom’s sports talk “95.7 The Game” – KGMZ-FM, San Francisco – announces the addition of A’s general manager Bill Beane and manager Bob Melvin to the station’s coverage of the team. Beane will become part of the Thursday PM drive show with Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis and Melvin will join “Rise Guys” Whitey Gleason, Mark Kreidler and Dan Dibley every Monday morning. PD Jason Barrett states, “Bill Beane is one of the smartest baseball minds in America and has a unique perspective about the game that Bay Area baseball fans won’t want to miss. Bob Melvin has his pulse on the finger of the Athletics and he’ll give Bay Area baseball fans a weekly glimpse inside the clubhouse like no one else.”
“Free Talk Live” Gets Major Market Clear on WWRL, New York. The independently syndicated evening and weekend program hosted by Ian Freeman and Mark Edge enters the New York City market with a Sunday morning clearance on Access.1 Communications’ progressive talk WWRL. Freeman says of the addition, “There aren’t many issues-oriented talk shows that can cross talk platforms. However, we’ve been doing it for years with conservative, progressive, business talk and hot talk stations all airing ‘Free Talk Live.’ I’m excited to announce that ‘Free Talk Live’ welcomes our newest affiliate in America’s largest market: WWRL 1600 in New York City. Thanks to program director Rennie Bishop for allowing us the opportunity to entertain the people of NYC on the country’s most prominent progressive station.”
Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ, Fresno Celebrates 90th Anniversary Tomorrow. 1922 was a big year for the U.S. government granting radio station licenses and another heritage station is celebrating its 90th year on the air this week. KMJ, Fresno is the 38th oldest licensed continuously operating radio station in the country. It was originally licensed to San Joaquin Power and Light Corporation but was sold to McClatchey Newspapers in 1925. CBS Radio bought KMJ in 1987 and then sold it to Peak Broadcasting in 2006.
WTKS-FM, Orlando’s “Monsters in the Morning” Sponsor Habitat for Humanity House. The morning drive crew at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WTKS-FM, Orlando led by Russ Rollins is kicking off its First Annual Monster House project in conjunction with the Habitat for Humanity Seminole-Apopka and the City of Sanford. Rollins and Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett, who on behalf of the City of Sanford, donated the property for the project made the recent announcement. Rollins says, “This is a huge project with our national radio program teaming up with local government and Habitat for Humanity to benefit the community. For every $1 spent on construction, $7 will go back into the local economy. ‘The Monsters’ are looking forward to helping a local family fulfill their dream of home ownership with the First Annual Monster House. We hope to make The Monster House an annual project in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.”
Romney Wins Illinois Primary/2012 Presidential Race, Iran Nukes Program, Saints Staff Penalized for Bounty Program/Tebow Traded to Jets and Afghanistan Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/21). Mitt Romney’s decisive win in Illinois on Tuesday and the larger issues surrounding the 2012 presidential race; uncertainty over Iran’s nuclear weapons program; the NFL’s Saints, coaches and former coach penalized severely for ‘bounty program’; Tim Tebow is traded to the Jets; and continuing tensions in Afghanistan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WTOP, Washington’s Jim Farley: “We’re Engaged Across All Platforms.” Hubbard Broadcasting’s Jim Farley, vice president of news and programming at WTOP, Washington, speaks with TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison in this TalkersTV video interview. Farley tells Harrison that although WTOP is a heritage radio station, they think of it differently, “We don’t think of it as a radio station; we think of it as a digital news organization…we compete with everybody who does news.” Farley praises WTOP ownership – both current and past – for having the foresight to invest in staff and equipment to compete in the 21st century news game. Farley says they recently added a digital editor for the overnight shift so the organization has a radio and digital editor on the clock at all times. “Whenever there is a story – middle of the night or on weekends – we’ll be engaged across all platforms.” See the TalkersTV video in the box on this page.
Former WCCO, Minneapolis Talk Host Don Shelby Joins BringMeTheNews. Longtime Twin Cities TV and radio personality Don Shelby (pictured at left) begins a new position as morning drive news anchor at BringMeTheNews – the radio news network and online news site for Minnesota founded by Twin Cities news pro Rick Kupchella (pictured at right) in 2009. Shelby, a longtime WCCO-TV newsman who retired from his midday talk show at WCCO radio in 2010, will be morning anchor for the service heard on some 30 stations around the state. He’ll also handle original news reporting. Shelby states, “I am so pleased that I’ll be back in the game – not just to be back in the game, but to satisfy the needs of people who, for 32 years, trusted me to tell them the truth. I miss them and I miss the opportunity to do that.”
Sports Talk Talent Moves in San Diego; Rosenberg and Williams to XEPRS. Josh Rosenberg and Charod Williams jump from KLSD, San Diego “Xtra Sports 1360” to crosstown (actually, cross-border) XEPRS XX 1090 for the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm shift beginning Monday, March 26. The move pushes Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton to the 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm slot, Darren Smith to the 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm shift and John “The Coach” Kentera to the 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm show when Padres baseball is not airing. KLSD has not announced who will replace Rosenberg and Williams in the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm shift.
Asheville, North Carolina Talk Host Matt Mittan Returns to Air in the Market. Talk show host Matt Mittan left Clear Channel’s WWNC, Asheville five months ago. Now, after continuing to produce his program along with co-host and producer Agnes Cheek online and self-syndicating it in various formats to a number of stations in the region, the program returns to Asheville on gospel WZGM. More than that, Mittan and Cheek have taken operational control over the HRN Broadcasting-owned station. Mittan tells the Asheville Citizen-Times the station will still air gospel music in the morning plus Dial Global’s Clark Howard, his program from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and Dial Global’s Neal Boortz from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Eventually, he’d like to add more local talk to the station.
Beasley Broadcasting Names Rafe D’Amico NSM for Las Vegas Cluster. Rafe D’Amico already serves as national sales manager for Beasley stations on Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware. Now he’s named NSM for the entire Las Vegas cluster that includes news/talk KDWN. Beasley Las Vegas director of sales Cory Cuddeback says, “I’m thrilled that Rafe is joining our Vegas team. Rafe has an impeccable reputation along with a solid background in the industry and will be a tremendous asset for our cluster moving forward.”
Promotions at Clear Channel Toledo. A number of staffers at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Toledo cluster are being promoted including news/talk WSPD executive producer Katie Hileman who is named assistant program director for the station. Sports WCWA program director Tom Riggs also takes on the cluster’s digital content director responsibilities.
WLW, Cincinnati Celebrates 90th Anniversary This Week. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s venerable WLW, Cincinnati is celebrating its 90th year in operation this week. The station was put on the air on March 23, 1922 by Powel Crosley, Jr. In 1934 WLW would receive permission to broadcast at 500,000 watts – the only station to do so – and for the next five years earned the nickname “The Nation’s Station.” The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter details a very cool, quick history of WLW in his column here.
KABC, Los Angeles To Give Away New Sidewalk in “Sidewalk Insanity” Promotion. In an affectionate nod to Los Angeles’ notoriously decrepit sidewalks, Cumulus Media’s KABC, Los Angeles is running a “bracket-like” contest in which one lucky winner gets a new sidewalk courtesy of sponsor Capital Construction. The station says, “L.A. is world famous for having the world’s worst sidewalks – more than 4,000 miles of jagged cliffs of cracked and tree-root-raised barricades – making walking, skateboarding or wheelchair access virtually impossible.” Contestants are encouraged to send a photo of their lousy sidewalk to AM drive host Doug McIntyre (pictured here holding a chunk of broken concrete) for their chance to enter the bracket and have listeners vote on the worst of the worst.
KOIN-TV, Portland News Anchors to Fill In on KPAM Radio. Pamplin Media Group program director Dennis Glasgow reports KOIN-TV, Portland news anchors Jeff Gianola and Kelly Day will fill in for talk host Bob Miller on the 7:00 am to 11:00 am show today. Glasgow states, “Not only is this going to be great radio, but this is a great example of sharing talent and resources. We value this important and exclusive local partnership with KOIN and look forward to having Jeff and Kelly grace our airwaves, I know our listeners will feel the same way.”
Illinois Primary/2012 Presidential Race, Federal Budget Debate, Florida Youth Slaying, Iran Nuke Ambitions and Afghanistan Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/20). The GOP primary election in Illinois and the larger 2012 presidential campaign issues, the ongoing debate over cuts to the federal budget, the controversial killing of an unarmed Florida teen, Iran’s nuclear weapons program and continuing tensions for U.S. troops in Afghanistan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Peak Broadcasting Emerges from Chapter 11. The pre-packaged Chapter 11 restructuring plan Peak Broadcasting entered into in January has been executed and the company comes out of it with new owners: Oaktree Capital Management and GE Capital. CEO Todd Lawley and CFO Tim Lyons remain in their management positions. In a statement, Lawley says, “By significantly reducing the amount of debt outstanding on our balance sheet, this transaction provides Peak with the flexibility to invest in our business to ensure that we continue to provide best-in-market audio programming to our consumers and marketing solutions to our clients.”
New York Festivals Radio Program & Promotion Awards Extends Entries Deadline. The world-renowned New York Festivals Radio Program & Promotion Awards is extending the deadline for entry submissions for the 2012 contest through April 2. The 30-year-old competition honors the most innovative work in radio broadcasting, with entries from radio stations, networks and independent producers from around the globe. Executive director Rose Anderson says, “Even as distribution platforms multiply across the airwave spectrum, one thing remains constant: the power of the individual voice. Just this past year, winners in our talk categories – a diverse group from Howard Stern to Marvin Kalb in the U.S. to Radio Pasfarda (Iran) and Writers & Company (Canada) – engaged their audiences’ curiosity with intensity. We here at New York Festivals are very proud to recognize the creativity, innovation and quality exhibited around the world in radio today.” Categories in the talk radio realm include: Best Regularly Scheduled Talk Program, Best Talk/Interview Special, Best Radio Personality: Local Market, Best Radio Personality: Network/Syndicated, Best Talk Show Host, Best Information/News Talk Show (AM drive), Best Two-Way Telephone Talk/Interview Show (AM drive), Best Online Talk Program, Best Satellite Talk Program, Best Satellite Radio Personality, Best Radio Personality (student), Best Artist Interview/Performance (student), Editorial or Viewpoint Program, plus numerous awards in the radio news and sports categories. Find complete information about the awards, categories and how to enter by visiting http://www.newyorkfestivals.com/. New York Festivals Radio Program & Promotion Awards Grand Jury enlists jurists from all over the world, representing some of the most recognizable voices and captivating programming producers in the industry. Entries are judged on production values, organization, presentation of information, creativity and use of the medium. The International Radio Program & Promotion Awards will honor 2012’s winning entries on June 18 at an awards ceremony at Manhattan Penthouse in New York City.
Michael Smerconish Visits Boston Affiliate WTKK-FM for Movie Premiere. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Smerconish is bringing his ‘Book Club’ live event series to the silver screen and he’s in Boston today for a premiere screening for Greater Media affiliate WTKK-FM. “Book Club with Michael Smerconish featuring Chris Matthews’ Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero” premieres at the Showcase Cinema De Lux in suburban Dedham. Smerconish will welcome the crowd and conduct a curtain call speech prior to the movie. Smerconish states, “Over the last several years, I have hosted many A-list authors for live gatherings of what I call my ‘Book Club.’ Never have any of these made it to the big screen. My interview with Chris Matthews concerning his New York Times bestseller Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero was recorded in High-Def and I am thrilled it will be shown on screens all across the country on March 20. Where can you find me that night? Boston!”
CCME Names Radha Subramanyam EVP of Sales and Marketing Research. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment chairman and CEO John Hogan says Radha Subramanyam is “recognized as an industry leader in consumer insights and research and I am excited to have her on our team.” She previously served as senior vice president of media and advertiser insights and analytics as a thought leader across media forms for The Nielsen Company. In her new role with CCME, Subramanyam will be responsible for “developing, aggregating and analyzing consumer data to help illustrate and support the unique ability Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has to provide advertisers with national reach and local activation.”
WHAS, Louisville Talk Host Terry Meiners Sued by Local Cop for Slander. Longtime Louisville talk radio personality Terry Meiners is facing a civil suit for slander by the Louisville Metro Police officer who gave him a speeding ticket in March of last year. Meiners contested the ticket and was found not guilty in October. The officer, Sam Cromity, alleges Meiner took to the airwaves where he called him “Black Barney,” he played belittling songs about the highway patrol and called him a liar at least 15 times. Meiners says Cromity was threatening during the traffic stop – something Cromity denies. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WHAS is also named in the suit.
C-SPAN Founder and CEO Brian Lamb Steps Down from CEO Post. The man who founded C-SPAN 33 years ago is stepping down from his day-to-day role as chief executive officer of the cable TV federal government news channel that reaches some 100 million homes. Brian Lamb, who was honored with TALKERS’ Freedom of Speech Award, will become executive chairman of the board at C-SPAN and will still host the weekly “Q&A” interview show. He will hand over the CEO reigns to Rob Kennedy and Susan Swain effective April 1.
KWTX, Waco, Texas Hosts Debates for Local Races. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment-owned KWTX, Waco reports the recent debates it sponsored and broadcast drew some 450 citizens to the University High School auditorium on March 7. The races were the GOP primaries for McLennan County Sheriff and the Texas House of Representatives, District 56. Morning drive host Shane Warner moderated the debates and states, “To have this many people show up in the middle of the week to hear some local politicians talk about local issues is quite an accomplishment. We were hoping for a good turnout but the interest from the community was beyond anything we could have imagined – and this was just for a primary election! As the only local talk show in the Waco market, I felt this was the kind of event that only News Talk 1230 and talk radio could pull off. This illustrates the power of local talk radio to help inform the community about what’s going on in their own backyard and bring voters and listeners access they otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Dave Ramsey Live in Orlando…and Beyond. Nationally syndicated financial talk sensation Dave Ramsey is pictured here at the University of Central Florida arena delivering his “Total Money Makeover Live” program before 7,500 people on March 17. This was also simulcast to 200 other locations. Ramsey spent the weekend in Orlando and presented his “EntreLeadership 1-Day Event” to nearly 1,000 business leaders. He also met with sponsors of the event and affiliate WFLA staff. Clear Channel Orlando market manager Linda Byrd says, “The personal attention and customer service we get from Dave Ramsey and his team is nothing short of stellar. It’s amazing that in spite of having 500+ affiliates he makes us feel so special. Truly feels like he’s a member of our local team. Dave does syndication the right way.”
Phil Hendrie Distributes Content Via Pandora. Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated radio personality Phil Hendrie can now be heard on Pandora. Hendrie’s bits, including characters Jay Santos, Chris Norton, Bobbie Dooley, David G. Hall and Ted Bell, are now available on the content distribution service. Hendrie joins Premiere Networks’ Bob & Tom, Steve Harvey’s Nephew Tommy and The Jerky Boys, all of whom rotate in the user-created “Phil Hendrie Radio” station. Hendrie’s tracks will also come up on user-created stations for morning radio artists, comics and political satirists.
GOP Primary/2012 Presidential Race, Afghanistan Tensions, Iran Nuclear Weapons Program, Syria Violence, and Peyton Manning to Denver Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/19). The GOP primary race and the issues in the 2012 presidential race, the continuing tensions in Afghanistan after a U.S. soldier is charged with killing 16 civilians, Iran’s nuclear weapons program, continuing Syrian violence and Peyton Manning’s joining the Denver Broncos were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Power-Packed Agenda Set for New Media Seminar June 7. According to TALKERS magazine VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “In all the years we have been presenting radio industry conferences, I do not remember one quite like this in which so many outstanding speakers were packed into a single day’s event. Our innovative model designed for an economically challenging era seems to be striking a very positive chord. The New York City installment of 2012’s bi-coastal conference is only a few days away from being sold out.” More than 60 industry leaders will address the key issues facing talk media between 9:00 am to 6:30 pm on Thursday, June 7 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side. For registration and sponsorship information for this industry-only event call 413-565-5413. To see the agenda click here.
Rush Limbaugh Named “Famous Missourian”; Choice Irks State Democrats. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Rush Limbaugh was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians yesterday in a closed ceremony at the state capitol in Jefferson City. A bronze bust of the talk host was unveiled during the event. State Democrats were disturbed by the ceremony that was not announced until 20 minutes prior to it beginning. It took place in the chambers of the House of Representatives and Democrats were not allowed in. Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley told the Kansas City Star the ceremony was closed because of the controversy and so that Limbaugh and his family could attend and be “treated respectfully.” Democrats were not invited because earlier they signed a letter protesting the induction. In a speech at the induction Limbaugh stated, “This is something I never, ever thought would happen to me…I want to express my deep gratitude. I’m exceptionally proud to accept this honor, and really very humbled.” Limbaugh joins the ranks of such famous Missourians as Mark Twain, Harry Truman and Dred Scott.
Dial Global’s Dennis Miller to Perform with Adam Carolla in November. Nationally syndicated talk host Dennis Miller had comedian, TV star and podcaster Adam Carolla on his program yesterday (5/14) and the two announced they will perform live on stage together at the City National Grove in Anaheim on November 16. Miller tells Carolla, “You know what I think about the way your mind works – it’s genius.” In addition to his radio program, Dennis Miller has been doing live performances with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly on their “Bolder and Fresher Tour 2012.” The duo recently performed at New York City’s Town Hall.
Anniversary Bash. Journal Broadcasting’s KQTH-FM, Tucson – 104.1 The Truth – celebrated its fifth anniversary on Saturday, May 19 at the Casino Del Sol Resort. Program director Ryan McCredden tells TALKERS, “The listeners, speakers, staff and sponsor response to the event was tremendous and we’re looking forward to another five great years of ‘The Truth’ in Tucson!” Pictured here are (from l-r): Author and townhall.com writer Katie Pavlich, Radio America’s Roger Hedgecock, author and commentator S.E. Cupp, Talk Radio Network’s Jerry Doyle, KQTH-FM morning host Jon Justice and midday host James T. Harris.
New York Festivals Announces 2012 Radio Program and Promotion Awards World’s Best Radio Programs Finalists. The New York Festivals breaks down the entries by country. For the United States among commercial talk broadcasters, ESPN Radio is named a finalist in the Best Human Interest Story and Best Investigative Reporting categories. “The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap” is a finalist for Best Regularly Scheduled Sports Program. SiriusXM’s Howard Stern is a finalist for Best Special Event. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFBK, Sacramento is a finalist in the Health/Medical category. Winners will be honored at a gala awards ceremony on June 18 at New York City’s Manhattan Penthouse. See the entire slate of finalists here.
Compass Media Networks Names Booth Talent for Baseball Broadcasts. For its 25 broadcasts of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim games Compass Media Networks recently announced it would distribute, the company has named its game coverage talent. Former New York Mets general manager and current SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio morning host Steve Phillips will be analyst for the broadcasts. Others, whose appearance on the broadcasts will be determined by travel schedule and other commitments, include play-by-play announcers Chris Carrino and Steve Quis and analyst and former MLB player and executive Darryl Hamilton.
CBS Radio’s Stacie Schmidt Moves from Las Vegas to Cleveland. Stacie Schmidt currently serves as director of marketing for CBS Radio’s Las Vegas cluster that includes news/talk KXNT-AM/FM. She’s moving back to her home town of Cleveland to take the integrated sales and marketing position at CBS Radio’s cluster there that includes sports WKRK-FM – 92.3 the Fan.
Obama Newsweek Cover, 2012 Presidential Race, Euro Zone Hangs in Balance, JP Morgan Chase Loss and California Debt Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/14). The “first gay president” Newsweek cover; the 2012 presidential race; the future of the euro zone as countries threaten to leave; the $2 billion loss at JP Morgan Chase; and California’s enormous debt problem were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Brooklyn in the House. Sure, it’s easy to get supermodel and actress Brooklyn Decker to visit your radio show when hubby Andy Roddick is co-host of the program. Decker is pictured here in the Fox Sports Radio studios with husband and tennis great Andy Roddick (c) and radio personality Bobby Bones (l). The “Roddick and Bones” show airs on weekends on the FSRN. During the interview Decker promoted her two new films, “Battleship” and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” both being released on May 18.
KIDO, Boise Morning Host Kevin Miller Dedicates Programming to “Getting Idaho Back to Work.” AM drive talk host Kevin Miller announces he’ll use some of the time during his talk program to help get Idahoans back to work. He states on KIDO, Boise’s website, “I invite you to help us bring jobs to the great Gem State. (I know it’s easier said than done.) However, after years of record unemployment and a loss of jobs it’s time to do something. Throughout the year we will be highlighting Treasure Valley Businesses that are succeeding and profiling listeners who are looking for work. Our goal is to get our family, friends and neighbors back to work and inviting businesses around the world to move to our great state.”
Cumulus Media Networks Aggressively Promoting Huckabee Debut. With three weeks until former Arkansas Governor and one-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee begins his nationally syndicated daily talk show, Cumulus continues the drive to acquire affiliate stations with subtle jabs at Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh. And with Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke-flap still fresh in everyone’s memory, the consumer media is paying attention. Both Reuters and the Wall Street Journal Online published stories this weekend pointing to a Cumulus e-mail blast touting Mike Huckabee as the conservative talk show host of the future. Cumulus COO John Dickey didn’t actually say his company is targeting Limbaugh’s affiliate stations but does tell Reuters, “Only one station in a city can offer Rush, so there are lots of other stations that are looking to put up an alternative to him regardless of whether he put his foot in his mouth…We have been growing the affiliate base on that fact alone, but recent developments with Rush have put some wind in our sails and accelerated our efforts.” Cumulus claims to have about 140 stations ready to air Huckabee when he begins his 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET show on April 9 – about 45 of those are Cumulus-owned stations. Former CBS Radio chief Joel Hollander is quoted by Reuters stating, “I can guarantee you that the minute Cumulus’ contract with Rush expires in New York, they will replace him with Huckabee.” The Limbaugh contract with WABC reportedly doesn’t end until 2013 but such a prediction is not so far out. Every syndicator in the business wants a New York affiliate so why wouldn’t Cumulus put its own product – assuming it is performing – on its own station? Meanwhile, Premiere Networks issues this statement: “Rush Limbaugh continues to be the No. 1 talk radio host in America. Mike Huckabee is the latest in a long line of those who have attempted to compete with Rush. We wish him the best with his new show.”
American Public Media’s “This American Life” Retracts Popular Story. On the January 6 episode of American Public Media’s “This American Life,” the program ran an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s one-man show titled, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which Daisey describes workers at a Chinese Apple plant putting in long hours doing repetitive and crippling work. The segment became a sensation – almost 890,000 downloads of that episode’s podcast – and shone the light on Apple’s Chinese operations. The effect of the piece has caused PR problems for Apple. But on Friday, March 16, host Ira Glass retracted the story telling listeners they can’t vouch for its truth. The Chinese correspondent for the public radio program “Marketplace” contacted the Chinese interpreter Daisey used when he made his journey to China and the interpreter disputed much of what Daisey expresses in his show. Daisey’s performance – doing very well at New York’s Public Theater – is getting excellent reviews. For his part, Daisey says on his website that he stands by his work which is theater, not journalism. In a statement, “This American Life” said when it asked Daisey for the interpreter’s contact information he, was unable to provide it. Ira Glass states, “At that point, we should’ve killed the story. But other things Daisey told us about Apple’s operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him.”
Oprah’s OWN Cancels Rosie O’Donnell TV Talk Show. The Rosie O’Donnell program will tape its final episode tomorrow (3/20) and air on March 30. TVWeek reports the show’s ratings on the struggling network founded by Oprah Winfrey are to blame. Deadline.com reports O’Donnell’s program started out with about 500,000 average viewers but that settled to about 200,000 for most of the show’s run. Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva also attributes the 7:00 pm ET airtime for its failure. Most talk shows air in the daytime or in late night and 7:00 pm is not a time people associate with a talk show.
WGN, Chicago Names Winner in Cubs Song Contest. Tribune’s WGN, Chicago announced the winner of the contest to write an original song about the Chicago Cubs that will be played on the radio prior to Cubs play-by-play broadcasts this season. Morning drive host Jonathon Brandmeier proclaimed “Let’s Go Cubbies” by the Chicago-area band The Fold the winner by fan choice with more than 8,000 votes on WGN’s website. More than 300 entries were received for the contest. The band will play the song live at the Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field during Brandmeier’s Opening Day broadcast.
Longtime KABC, Los Angeles Personality Bob Anderson Dies at 86. Bob Anderson, who served as staff announcer at KABC, Los Angeles from 1961 until 2007 – passed away on March 11 after a battle with Alzheimer’s. Anderson hosted programs including “Religion on the Line,” “Spotlight on the Community” and a talk program with future L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley. He often subbed for Bob Arthur on the “Ken and Bob” show.”
Fisher House Foundation Creates Memorial Day Program for News/Talk Stations. The show – “A Grateful Nation” – is hosted by Army veteran and broadcaster Bryan Suits and is billed as “a one-hour, spoken-word program honoring those who have fought and died to defend America, and the loved ones who share the burden.” The program features compelling stories from the front lines and the home front, including the heartbreaking-yet-uplifting story of the Stanton family of Southern California, who traveled to Dover Air Force Base to receive the body of their remarkable son, who was killed in Afghanistan. The Stantons were among the first guests at the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen, which provides grieving loved ones with shelter and comfort during a time of unimaginable pain. Premiere Networks is distributing the show.
Ingstad Group Blows Up Classic Rock for FM Talk in Fargo-Moorhead; Tom Becka to Program and Host AM Drive. James Ingstad’s Radio Fargo Moorhead group in the Fargo-Moorhead market turns classic rock KRWK-FM into “101.9 Talk FM” The Talk of Fargo Moorhead on March 19. Talk radio pro Tom Becka – most recently with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFAB, Omaha as PM drive host – is named program director for the station and will host the morning drive show. Syndicated programs will include Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade, Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth will host a 5:00 pm program for at least the first three weeks of the station’s new format. Hayworth currently is hosting the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show at Cumulus Media’s KSFO, San Francisco. Talk Radio Network’s Michael Savage and Genesis Communications Network‘s Jason Lewis will air in the evenings. Tom Becka states, “This is such a great opportunity to help put a new FM talk station on the air and be the first doing it. Radio Fargo Moorhead is a great independent company that still believes in the traditional radio approach that combines great programming and promotion with local outreach. At the same time they have been leaders in embracing the new technological advances. And about those winters? They are taking up a collection to buy me a warm coat.” The station, as well as sister news/talk KFGO, is being consulted by The Q Consulting Guys’ Jon Quick, who says, “In these days of cutbacks, it is so gratifying that there are operators like the Ingstad group who still believe that hiring great people and promoting them properly results in both ratings and revenue.” Quick also notes that Ingstad is retaining all of the Rock 101 staff.
Federated Media Drops Classic Rock on WFWI-FM, Fort Wayne; Simulcasts News/Talk WOWO. The legendary WOWO, Fort Wayne, Indiana gets an FM simulcast for its news/talk format at the expense of sister classic rock “The Fort 92.3.” Federated Media COO Mark Deprez states, “The move to FM is a natural enhancement for the WOWO brand that is synonymous with Fort Wayne. WOWO is, and has always been, the one radio outlet that northeast Indiana can count on for breaking news, weather, traffic, information. WOWO’s strong service commitment to our community, along with the entertaining and engaging personalities, has solidified WOWO in the hearts of many of our local residents. The move to 92.3 FM will re-introduce WOWO to listeners that have migrated over the years to FM and also open WOWO’s brand to a new and younger audience.”
Rush Limbaugh Fires Up His Long-Dormant Twitter Account to Fight His Attackers. It probably won’t be very long before Rush Limbaugh’s fans have his Twitter follower numbers through the roof and Limbaugh says he’ll use the account to counter the work being done by organizations such as Media Matters via the social media tool. Politico reports that Limbaugh told his listeners on his Thursday program that he’ll be Tweeting info from time to time that his faithful can share. “Everybody has been asking me what they can do to help in all of this, and I’ve been saying, nah, just do what you’ve been doing just, if you listen, keep listening, that’s fine, but…there’s an army out there that wants to be mobilized, and so, I figured, use Twitter for it. I’m just going to put some things on Twitter that you can help us circulate. It’s that simple you just retweet them.” Limbaugh’s first Tweet after the show was a link to a piece by Cornell Law professor William Jacobson on Media Matters’ astroturfing the boycott against Limbaugh’s advertisers. “Astroturfing” is using digital media to create the illusion of a “grassroots” movement.
Syndicated Talk Host Michael Smerconish: Advertiser Boycotts Won’t Kill Rush Limbaugh. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish writes in his column in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the advertiser boycott being waged against Rush Limbaugh ultimately will not topple him from his talk radio perch. In the piece, Smerconish cites TALKERS and fellow radio trade Radio-Info on the status of the Limbaugh situation. But Smerconish goes on to write that the hard-core, right wing talk hosts that occupy most news/talk radio station lineups serve exactly that audience – the very conservative, politically active segment of the radio-listening audience. Smerconish states that studies indicate the nation as a whole is not as polarized as the media might make it appear and both Congress and the talk media are more extreme now than at any point in the recent past (based on voting records and host ideology, respectively). Change in the flavor of talk radio, Smerconish argues, can only come from programmers. Read his piece here.
RTDNF Presents Freedom of Speech Awards; Talker Jim Bohannon Honored. At a gala black-tie dinner held last night at Washington, DC’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF) presented its 22nd annual First Amendment Awards including the Special Recognition First Amendment Award to Dial Global Radio Networks talk star Jim Bohannon (pictured here at left). The award was presented to Bohannon by TALKERS founder and publisher Michael Harrison (r) who stated, “Jim stands tall and strong as a seeker of truth.” Other awards were presented to NBC News president Steve Capus, ABC News senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, and Shurz Communications senior vice president Marci Burdick. A special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to Andy Rooney. In a rousing speech, Jim Bohannon encouraged the hundreds of newspeople in attendance to promo free speech at every opportunity saying, “We should go out and kick some ass for the First Amendment!”
KCSP, Kansas City Goes All Local Sports Talk. Entercom’s KCSP, Kansas City drops Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome from its midday slot and expands its existing sports talk shows. AM drive hosts Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler are now heard from 6:00 am to 10:00 am; midday host Danny Parkins gets the big bump, moving from 9:00 am to 11:00 am to 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and Carrington Harrison joins the program along with other contributors. Nick Wright’s afternoon show remains in the 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot. Program director Ryan Maguire says, “Our listeners have wanted more local hosts talking about local sports. With the start of an exciting Royals season only a few weeks away, ‘610 Sports’ has the best local lineup for our game broadcasts. The passionate sports fans in Kansas City now have more than just one option in the middle of their day when it comes to local sports talk. We’re excited that we can be all live, all local all day.”
GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Race Maintains Top Story Spot on Talkers TenTM. The battle for the Republican nomination for president and the larger issues surrounding the 2012 campaign tied for the top spot as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of March 12-16, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Correspondingly, Rick Santorum tied with Mitt Romney as the #1 most-talked-about person followed by President Obama at #2. The Talkers TenTM chart of the top stories and people of the week as discussed on news/talk radio is published here every Friday. View this week’s chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity pick up new FM talker KRWK, Fargo-Moorhead…..Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade is added to KRWK-FM, Fargo-Moorhead…..Genesis Communications Network’s Jason Lewis joins KRWK-FM, Fargo-Moorhead…..Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham returns to KLIN, Lincoln, Nebraska…..“Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds WLBE, Leesburg-Eustis, Florida; and KTGO, Tioga, North Dakota…..Dial Global adds its sports Westwood One play-by-play sports – including NFL, NCAA men’s basketball and football, the Olympics, major golf events and more to Lincoln Financial Media’s WQXI, Atlanta.
Loose Cannons Live in Downtown L.A. Fox Sports Radio Network’s KLAC, Los Angeles-based “Loose Cannons” recently kicked off March Madness with a live broadcast from the Hooters Downtown Los Angeles where the brand-new Fox Sports Radio remote broadcast studio is located. Pictured here – along with a bevy of Hooters girls – are Vic “The Brick” Jacobs (l) and Steve Hartman (r). Not pictured is the third “Loose Cannon” Pat O’Brien.
Rush Limbaugh Controversy Brings Political Attack Tactics to Talk Radio. Perhaps it’s because the nation is in the grips of a still-stagnant economy during a contentious election year or maybe it’s just a sign of the times. But, the talk radio industry is being invaded by political special interest groups and their hard-nosed tactics and it appears some broadcasters are playing along. Broadcasters – and radio stations more specifically – have traditionally competed with each other intensely on many levels. But going after each other’s advertisers with threats of guilt-by-association in order to hurt the other’s business is something in which they have rarely engaged. The reason is simple: It pollutes the same body of water from which all broadcasters drink. If one day your programming is poison to sponsors, who’s to say my programming won’t be tainted next week. And the special interest groups are noticing this and employing it as well. Media Research Center founder and president L. Brent Bozell III has written an open letter to MSNBC president Phil Griffin taking the cable news/talk network to task for what he terms its hypocrisy. Bozell notes MSNBC talent Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton and Lawrence O’Donnell spent part of their March 13 programs “attacking Rush.” He then lists statements made by Ed Schultz over the years as “vile, repugnant venom coming out of Schultz’s mouth.” Bozell promises he’s not going to let up on MSNBC, either. So, what are some broadcasters guilty of with regard to this case? Potentially bringing harm to the entire talk media industry – especially the already hard-hit radio side – by willingly allowing special interest groups that do not represent the actual listeners of these programs to provide ammunition against one of their own (a broadcaster) for the sake of what is really a political goal and not a business goal. Broadcasters willing to join the political battle at the expense of maintaining the integrity of their broadcasting business model may find out down the road that attempting to serve two masters – politics and the business of broadcasting – is a very difficult task to handle successfully. If you wish to read Mr. Bozell’s piece, it’s here.
Problematic Data: Bloomberg Poll Concludes America Wants Limbaugh Fired. That’s the result of a Bloomberg poll of 1,002 Americans conducted from March 8 to 11 asking questions about the GOP candidates, how they feel about the birth control coverage issue and, whether Premiere Networks star Rush Limbaugh should be fired for his remarks about Sandra Fluke and her testimony. According to the Bloomberg data, 53% of Americans believe Limbaugh should be fired for his remarks and 30% of those who expressed that point of view were Republicans to boot! TALKERS is not questioning Bloomberg’s polling techniques but as alluded to in the story above, it should be underscored that the poll in question doesn’t survey Rush Limbaugh’s regular listeners. It doesn’t even survey regular talk radio listeners. Therein lays the problem. Consumer media will grab hold of the result of this poll and conclude that the end is near for Limbaugh since a majority of the country wants him fired. But as TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison has been telling the dozens upon dozens of media outlets he’s spoken with on this issue since it began, Rush Limbaugh doesn’t broadcast to a majority of the country. He broadcasts to a niche audience – a sizeable one to be sure – but a niche nonetheless. Asking a sample of all Americans how a talk radio station should be programmed is analogous to asking the same sample about how to program the Golf Channel. Read the Bloomberg poll story here.
First Spot on Tom Leykis’ New Talk Show Sells on eBay for $1,225. FishbowlLA reports the first spot on Tom Leykis’ soon-to-debut talk show that will hit the internet on April 2 has been purchased by Stitcher chairman Noah Shanok for $1,225. Leykis tells FishbowlLA’s Richard Horgan, “The winning bid, in my view, proves what I have always believed, which is that the reason that some people say that internet content cannot be monetized is because they try to sell advertising for new platforms the same way it’s sold in so-called ‘old media.’ What these new platforms really require is out-of-the-box thinking and a completely different approach.” Leykis has been paid by CBS Radio since his program based at the former hot talk KLSX-FM, Los Angeles was dropped along with the rest of the format. Leykis’ The New Normal will broadcast his new talk program as the CBS contract comes to an end.
Buckley Broadcasting Chief Rick Buckley to Be Honored Posthumously by Broadcasters Foundation of America. At the Broadcasters Foundation of America breakfast held in conjunction with the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas on April 18, the late president and CEO of Buckley Broadcasting will be honored with the Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award. The award honors an individual in broadcasting whose work exemplifies innovation, community service, advocacy, and entrepreneurship. It salutes its namesake Lowry Mays and is underwritten by The Clear Channel Foundation and Wiley Rein, LLP. The BFoA states, “Rick Buckley was a beloved and highly respected broadcaster who passed away suddenly this past July from a brain embolism. For more than four decades Buckley led the family-owned Buckley Broadcasting, which includes renowned WOR Radio in New York. He was a longtime member of the Broadcasters Foundation Board of Directors and served as its treasurer for many years. In recognition of his commitment to the charitable mission of the Broadcasters Foundation, The Rick Buckley Memorial Fund was established shortly after his passing.”
ESPN Montana to Provide Local Focus. The Montana Radio Company is bringing the Worldwide Leader in Sports to Montana – a state without any professional sports franchises. Tucker Sargent is project manager for ESPN Montana and he tells the University of Montana’s Montana Kaimin they are developing a website that will serve as the web hub for the three FM stations that will be simulcast in the Helena, Missoula and Great Falls markets. Ben Cately, who does play-by-play for the Missoula Osprey minor league baseball team is hosting the morning drive show that will be featured across the network. Sargent says the network will cover local schools as well, “High school sports have been pretty much completely ignored everywhere in the country. Most other places with an ESPN station are in major markets that have professional and college teams that dominate the scene. And while we still think that the professional teams need to be talked about, the high school sports matter quite a bit and need to get reported on as well.”
GOP Primaries/ 2012 Presidential Race, Afghanistan Civilian Massacre Aftermath, Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program, Syria Violence and Soaring Gas Prices Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/14). The tightening GOP primary race after Rick Santorum’s Tuesday victories and the 2012 presidential race in general; the fragile state of the Afghanistan operations after the killing of 16 civilians by a U.S. soldier; ongoing concern over Iran’s nuclear weapons projects; the Syrian violence against its citizens; and the American public’s concern with rising gasoline prices were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
America’s Radio News Network Develops Second Radio Network Featuring 24/7 News Reports. The long-form news venture crafted by Talk Radio Network known as America’s Radio News Network – which is successfully distributing three-hour blocks of all-news content to more than 275 affiliate stations – is announcing the creation of a second network dedicated to top- and bottom-of-the-hour news, breaking news bulletins, special reports and newsmaker interviews. ARNN executive vice president for news John McCaslin states, “‘Journalism Without Agenda’ is not just a marketing phrase at America’s Radio News – it’s a code we live by – and the marketplace has responded so strongly to our long-form, all-news product that the second news network of our short-form top- and bottom-of-the-hour news (plus audio actualities, special reports, news maker interviews etc…) was a natural outgrowth of this demand. We are honored to be the fastest-growing brand in news radio. We truly are ‘Journalism Without Agenda.’ This is something stations not only deeply appreciate, but have a need for like never before.” CEO Mark Masters says this means affiliate stations will not have to “break away” for news. “Bottom line, ARNN is now the complete ‘go-to’ radio news network for urgent breaking newscasts on the hour and half-hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, along with our intriguing and diverse lineup of newsmaker interviews in addition to our large array of three-hour, long-form weekday news blocks our listeners enjoy each weekday.” The new service begins April 2.
Dan Sileo Let Go from WDAE, Tampa After “Monkeys” Comment. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Tampa Bay sports talk outlet has parted company with morning drive sports talk host Dan Sileo after he referred to three NFL free agents as “monkeys.” During an exchange with producer Darek Sharp about whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should go after Cortland Finnegan, Jonathan Vilma and Vincent Jackson in free agency, Sileo reportedly said, “No! No! If they get those three monkeys, I’m good! I’m ready, man. I’m ready. I want those guys. Those guys are great players.” WDAE program director Steve Versnick confirmed to the Tampa Bay Tribune that Sileo is no longer with the station but would not comment on why due to the station’s policy of not discussing personnel matters. The Tampa Bay Times reports the station apologized specifically for Sileo’s remarks. As for Sileo, he tweeted to the Times’ Eric Deggans that he didn’t even realize what he’d said until someone told him. Versnick told the Tribune Rock Riley will fill in for Sileo and the station is seeking a permanent replacement. Dan Sileo has written about sports talk radio for TALKERS in the past.
Aggressive Agenda Being Set for New Media Seminar. The first of several key panel rosters for the New York installment of this year’s New Media Seminar has been announced and it promises to provide a powerful overview of the state of talk radio. Titled “Spoken Word Radio 2012, the Big Picture,” the lineup includes (in alphabetical order): Phil Boyce, VP/director, Spoken Word Format, Salem Communications; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Mike McVay, senior VP programming, Cumulus Media; and Chris Oliviero, senior VP programming, CBS Radio. Michael Harrison, publisher of TALKERS will moderate. According to Harrison, “This year’s New Media Seminar will tackle a number of pressing issues facing the industry during this most transitional and turbulent year.” The 2012 version of the industry’s longest-running and most important national convention will feature a new, innovative format designed for the times – broken into two separate events: New York on Thursday, June 7 and Los Angeles on Thursday, October 11. Each will present a power-packed agenda and offer affordable, accessible registration fees to its attendees. Registration, however, is limited and only open to members of the working media. For details, click here.
Dial Global and Dennis Miller Celebrate the Host’s Five-Year Anniversary with a New Contract. The announcement from Dial Global doesn’t get specific – it calls it a long-term deal – but Dennis Miller’s gig as a nationally syndicated talk show host will continue. He began in 2007 with Westwood One and is currently heard on more than 300 affiliate stations and, according to DG, in 24 of the top 24 markets. Dial Global co-president/CEO David Landau says, “We are ecstatic about our relationship with Dennis and thrilled to be associated with a rock star and national treasure of this magnitude.” Miller is a regular contributor to Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” Miller and O’Reilly have been involved in a live event series dubbed the “Bolder & Fresher Tour 2011-2012” and have added new dates to that tour including June 22 in Indianapolis and June 23 in Chicago. Miller says of his radio success, “It has been a fine five years with a great and growing audience that I enjoy riffing with. As I bask in the glorious wake of modest achievement, I look forward to many more years behind the microphone.”
Saga Communications Reports Revenue Down 3.6% in Q4 of 2011. But for the entire year of 2011, Saga Communications was down just a hair – to $127.3 million in net revenue. The good news for Saga is free cash flow was up 3.6% for the quarter and 9% for the year. Also, Saga was able to reduce its debt by $27 million to $69.1 million. One thing Saga is enjoying that many other broadcasting companies surely covet is a healthy stock price. Saga’s stock closed at $41.40 per share on Tuesday – up 6.7%.
Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington Locks Up Doc Walker for Three More Years. The midday sports talk host was most recently partnered with John Thompson at WTEM but Thompson left his daily talk show host role at the station last month. Now, Red Zebra vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says the company has signed Rick “Doc” Walker to a three-year contract extension and the station will feature Walker in a new 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm program beginning March 26. Walker is also part of the broadcast team for the Washington Redskins Radio Network. Red Zebra CEO Rick Carmean states, “Doc has become an integral part of WTEM and its success for the better part of 15 years. We are excited for him to be a part of the new show and our Redskins broadcasts.”
Cumulus Media Networks Partners with APM Music for Production Library Services. Music library giant APM Music – a joint venture of EMI Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing – partners with Cumulus Media Networks to offer its music library services to client stations. APM’s collection of music is described as offering “every imaginable genre including music from current indie bands to big sound orchestral trailer cues to a full classical music repertoire.” CMN SVP of affiliate sales and broadcast operations Dennis Green says, “Cumulus Media Networks is proud to add the APM music production library to its growing stable of products and services available to stations all over the country. APM’s library is the largest and best in the industry which will provide stations the foundation for outstanding commercial production.”
Dan LeBatard Show Markets Content via CDBaby. The WAXY, Miami PM drive show Dan LeBatard with Stugotz & Hochman is marketing some of its best-of material via CDBaby. The program has a sizable podcast following but this is the first foray in to digital media marketing. As the deal is structured, the show and station owner Lincoln Financial Media both share in the revenue. The “CD” is available through CDBaby.com, iTunes, Amazon and several other digital media sites. Marc Hochman (who is currently also program director of WAXY but is stepping down to focus on the LeBatard show) reports LeBatard’s national profile has “grown exponentially since the debut of his daily TV show, ‘Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable,’ on ESPN 2 which is aired every day at 4:00 pm ET.” Pictured here is the “CD cover” of the digital download. Hochman says there will be no physical CDs, just the download.
GOP Southern Primaries/2012 Presidential Race, Soaring Gas Prices, Afghanistan Killings Aftermath, and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/13). Yesterday’s southern primaries for the GOP contenders and the 2012 presidential race in general; the nation’s soaring gas prices and its impact on President Obama’s approval numbers; the aftermath of the killing of 16 Afghanistan civilians by a U.S. soldier; and the ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Reports Net Revenue Down 5.6% in Fourth Quarter of 2011; Company High on Geraldo and Huckabee. Cumulus Media Group CEO Lew Dickey and chief financial officer J.P. Hannan appeared together on yesterday’s conference call to tell analysts the company’s plans for consolidating the former Cumulus Media Partners (former Susquehanna stations) it brought into the fold in August and the former Citadel stations it closed on in September are coming together allowing them to realize the “synergies” — $10.5 million worth — within the time frame originally predicted. As far as revenue is concerned, the company saw revenue down only 1% if you exclude political advertising from Q4 one year prior. Dickey told analysts there was growth in the automotive, financial services and retail sectors in Q4 and he – like many – expects this to be a big year for political dollars. Dickey addressed the coming launch of the Mike Huckabee program and stopped short of saying Cumulus could capitalize on Rush Limbaugh’s current PR challenge but told analysts his company sees a real upside for the April launch of Huckabee’s program for which it says it has about 110 affiliates lined up already. Dickey also said that Geraldo Rivera – currently heard on WABC, New York and KABC, Los Angeles only – is ripe for national syndication and calls the New York and Los Angeles placement a “precursor” to a national rollout.
Rush Limbaugh Takes Monday Off; Premiere Networks Suspends Airing of Barter Spots for Two Weeks. Things are quieting down with regard to the Rush Limbaugh–Sandra Fluke controversy but El Rushbo took yesterday (3/12) off to play golf with regular fill-in Mark Steyn sitting in the host’s chair. Public relations and crisis management expert Brian Glicklich is working with Limbaugh’s team and it sounds as though the day off was probably his idea. At the same time, Premiere Networks issued a memo to traffic departments at news/talk affiliates and is suspending the requirement that stations run barter spots – the ones that air in addition to the network spots actually contained within Limbaugh’s and other Premiere shows – for this week and next. Premiere gives no reason for this but one could surmise it doesn’t want to have any clients’ spots air within “controversial programming” and a cool down period like this will allow it to get a handle on where these spots are to air and where they should not.
Curtis Media Blows Up “FM Talk 101.1” WZTK-FM; Programming Changes Affect WPTF, Raleigh and WSJS, Winston-Salem. Curtis Media shocks the news/talk world with the sudden announcement that eight-year-old FM talker WZTK-FM, Burlington – serving both the Triad and Triangle markets of North Carolina is signing off its talk format and will re-emerge within a few weeks. But some of the talent heard on WZTK-FM is being spread out among Curtis Media’s other news talkers in the Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem/High Point/Greensboro markets. Here’s what’s happening: First, in the Triangle market of Raleigh-Durham, Curtis drops country on WKIX at 850 AM and will operate two outlets – NewsRadio 680 WPTF and TalkRadio 850 WPTF. WPTF VP/GM David Stuckey states, “NewsRadio 680 WPTF is where people will hear about the big events of the day, while TalkRadio 850 WPTF is where they’ll talk about those stories.” Stuckey says that while WPTF has proudly conservative roots dating back to 1924, the two stations will strive for balanced news coverage and an open exchange of all opinions across the ideological spectrum. “Unlike some media outlets, we’re not going to force-feed the same political agenda ad nauseum. We’ve seen ratings slippage on stations and channels with a hard-leaning approach, and more advertisers are telling us they want media platforms that are less toxic and more civil.” As far as talent is concerned, Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire survive the cut at WZTK-FM and will host PM drive on WPTF and WSJS. Dial Global’s Neal Boortz and Clark Howard are also landing on WPTF and WSJS. Shows that “didn’t make the cut” include local host Allan Handelman, TRN’s Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie and Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes.
Larry King to Host Show on Internet TV Network. American television and radio icon Larry King is returning to the interview desk with a start-up online TV network called Ora.TV being financed by Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim. A debut date for the site has not been announced yet but the Ora.TV website says it’s coming this year. The site states, “From its inception, Ora is an internet-based on-demand network producing a wide range of programs that transcend traditional formats. Our programs will resemble broadcast TV in terms of quality, but viewers will watch when and where they like with interactive capability.” Former News Corp. president of digital journalism Jon Housman will lead the network.
Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Holds “Insight 2012” with Major Political Guests. The annual “Insight 2012” program hosted by WTMJ, Milwaukee talk host Charlie Sykes has become a must-listen for Wisconsin political aficionados the morning after it takes place. The actual event is a ticket-holder-only live event the night prior – in this year’s case, last night. Sykes hosted fellow WTMJ host Jeff Wagner and other journalists plus Wisconsin State Senate candidates Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Thompson, Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde. Also appearing were U.S. Representatives Paul Ryan, Reid Ribble and Sean Duffy along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Last evening’s event is being re-broadcast this morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon on WTMJ.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Signs on with TuneIn. The “Voice of Chicago” can now be heard around the world via the free, internet service TuneIn, which boasts 30 million monthly active listeners. TuneIn vice president of programming Kevin Straley says, “WGN is known all over the country and has a rich history in Chicago. Our goal is to share all of the best programming from around the world with over 30 million monthly listeners, and partnering with WGN brings us one step closer to that goal.”
KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh Announces Pirates Broadcast Talent. CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh announces former Chicago Cubs third baseman Kevin Orie will be paired with radio host Dan Zangrilli to handle the game-day shows before and after each Pirates baseball game throughout the season. The two will host a one-hour preview program and a one-hour post-game show. Pirates broadcasters (Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Steve Blass, Bob Walk, and John Wehner) will continue to be featured during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as calling all the action during the games.
Report: 3MTR Abandons Talk Format in Melbourne. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on the demise of talkback radio 3MTR in Melbourne. Smith notes the station had been having financial difficulties for months and was unable to compete with Melbourne’s talk 3AW. Read more here.
Afghan Civilian Massacre, 2012 Presidential Race, HBO Palin Movie, Rush Limbaugh Controversy and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/12). The case of a U.S. Army sergeant who killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan; the GOP candidates’ battle to win the nomination to face President Obama in November; HBO’s “Game Change” film about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential race; the ongoing controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh; and the Iran nuclear weapons issue were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Phil Hendrie Walks the Red Carpet. Sure, he’s not wearing a glitzy, designer gown but he is walking on a red carpet! That’s Talk Radio Network personality Phil Hendrie at the Los Angeles Animation Festival on Saturday, March, 10. Hendrie – whose voice appears in numerous animated films and TV programs – was a cast member in Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s “Team America” film. Hendrie states, “I was happy to be involved in any way that I could, because that was a great work experience for me…Every time that it’s mentioned that I was in ‘Team America,’ people instantaneously recognize it. They know the voice of I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., they know the voice of the terrorist, they know the film, so it’s like my instant credibility button.”
By Trevor Smith
Australia Bureau Chief
“I wish we were here for longer but we’re not…thank you for listening, and maybe we will meet some other day down the line,” were the final words uttered by Luke Grant on 3MTR at 5:00 pm Friday, March. Then the station closed down. The AM 1377 frequency is now simulcasting the MyMP Digital Radio easy memories music program – with no paid commercials, no announcers and no news – presumably as an interim solution until the joint venture partners decide what to do with the failed Melbourne talk station. Administrators have been appointed to the MTR business joint venture.
“Okay, I’m really sorry, I thought that I was still doing one last bulletin…Okay, no worries at all. I’m so sorry. I know you guys have worked your butts off, and no matter, whatever the ratings were, one way or the other doesn’t change the way you do your day…I’m really sorry. No worries, bye-bye,” were Amie Meehan‘s final words from the Sydney newsroom.
Then there was some switching, and the SEN sport station feed went to air for a while, then it was switched back to MyMP.
Controversy and Misinformation of Radio Advertising Keeps Rush Limbaugh in the News; Host Reportedly Refuses to Take Back Advertiser. The consumer media continues to hang onto the Rush Limbaugh–Sandra Fluke issue with numerous stories and segments being published and produced over the weekend about the extent to which the controversy may be hurting advertising on Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh show as well as a wider swath of conservative talk radio. In addition to the fluctuating count of advertisers that may or may not have left the Limbaugh program (depending on whether or not they actually advertised on the show in the first place as many reports cite firms that did not), outlets such as New York Magazine and The Daily Beast are writing about a memo from Premiere to affiliate stations detailing 98 companies that don’t want their goods or services advertised on controversial programming. The memo gives examples of hosts including Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis (shows how old that memo is), Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. TALKERS has pointed out to countless consumer media that have contacted our offices regarding this issue that “no controversial programming” dictates are common and practically as old as talk radio itself and not a unique reaction to the Limbaugh case – although certainly reiterated as a result of it. TALKERS has also pointed out that monitoring a station’s internet feed does not reflect the same commercial content as the air feed since union regulations affect the degree to which union talent-voiced spots can air on the web. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee is reporting Rush Limbaugh is refusing to take retailer Sleep Train back as an advertiser. The story cites Limbaugh spokesman Brian Glicklich stating the company sought to return to the Limbaugh show and the program replied to the Sacramento-based mattress retailer, “Rush received your requests personally. Unfortunately, your public comments were not well received by our audience, and did not accurately portray either Rush Limbaugh’s character or the intent of his remarks. Thus, we regret to inform you that Rush will be unable to endorse Sleep Train in the future. Rush appreciates your long friendship and your past support, and we wish you good luck in the future.”
Celebrity-Founded Women’s Media Center Piles on Rush Limbaugh. The organization co-founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan is using the Rush Limbaugh controversy to call to arms like-minded activists to petition the FCC to take Limbaugh off the air. In an op-ed piece on CNN.com, the group reasons that Limbaugh – through his language and political opinions – is a purveyor of “hate speech” and therefore is not acting in the public interest. The group is suggesting the stations whose licenses are up for renewal that carry Limbaugh’s program are not serving the “public interest” and need either pull the show or not have their licenses renewed. The group states in the piece, “This isn’t political. While we disagree with Limbaugh’s politics, what’s at stake is the fallout of a society tolerating toxic, hate-inciting speech. For 20 years, Limbaugh has hidden behind the First Amendment, or else claimed he’s really “doing humor” or “entertainment.” He is indeed constitutionally entitled to his opinions, but he is not constitutionally entitled to the people’s airways.” It’s hard to tell what the motive here is – beyond polemicizing – since the FCC does not deal with issues of content in this way during the license renewal process.
Special Interest Group Intent on Hounding KFI, Los Angeles; Picks on Bill Handel’s Comment. Time will tell if the latest salvo from the Los Angeles-based Black Media Alliance sticks to Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles or ricochets back to harm the goals of the very organization that fired it. What’s for certain is the Black Media Alliance is taking a page from other special interest media “watchdog” groups and is recording every minute of KFI’s broadcasts and, when it hears something it doesn’t like, is firing off press releases and hoping for some traction. It used a March 9 broadcast from the Bill Handel show for this purpose. During a segment in which Handel comments on the news of the day with Gary Hoffman and Neil Saavedra, the topic of a California bill that would allow nurse practitioners to perform aspiration abortions came up. Handel commented on a law in Kansas where doctors are required to have the women see sonograms prior to having an abortion and offered his opinion that those who don’t already understand the procedure are “dumb-ass women.” BMA is using this comment to imply Handel has attacked all women. Listen to the segment here. There are numerous issues at play here but TALKERS will address the primary ones. The tenor of Bill Handel’s program hasn’t changed and presumably his advertisers know what they’re buying. If an advertiser boycott of Handel’s program is what the BMA seeks, it may find the going tougher for Handel’s Southern California show than national groups are for the Rush Limbaugh controversy. That’s generally the way these cases work. Handel broke no FCC rules and we believe it’s unlikely he or KFI will apologize – so far neither has. During the discussion, you can hear both sides of the issue being debated by the air talent. This is exactly the kind of public debate of important issues Supreme Court rulings, such as New York Times v. Sullivan, protects and which the Court admits could be controversial. Justice Brennan even wrote of the “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” The most important issue for the BMA is whether this tactic will cause it to be perceived by the public as nitpicking and a pest instead of being seen as an organization with goals of diversity and fairness.
Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York Rebrands as “The Answer.” The New York news/talk outlet formerly known as “The Apple” hits the air today with an altered programming schedule and the new handle, “The Answer.” Salem Communications VP and director of the spoken word format Phil Boyce states, “The new name will more accurately reflect who we are and what the benefit is to listening to us. ‘The Answer’ just popped into my head my first week here, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. We are the answer to so many questions, from ‘what happened while you slept?’ to ‘is it gonna rain?’ to ‘why am I stuck in traffic?’” The company notes the new station lineup is as follows: Salem Radio Network syndicated Bill Bennett‘s “Morning in America” from 5:00 am to 7:00 am, local host Curtis Sliwa from 7:00 am to 10:00 am, Dial Global’s Dennis Miller from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, SRN’s Dennis Prager from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, SRN’s Michael Medved from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm; Curtis and attorney Jeffrey Lichtman from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; and SRN’s Hugh Hewitt from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Boyce says new imaging will create a hip, younger sound for the station, heavy on a New York-style attitude. “New Yorkers are slightly jaded and a little sarcastic, so we wanted the sound of our station to reflect the city we serve.” In describing his collaboration with voiceover talent Lonnie Perkins, Boyce gushed, “I told him to sound like that ‘Mayhem Man’ commercial for Allstate Insurance.” The new imaging includes new top of hour ID’s, promos, and show opens. Boyce wanted to re-arrange the lineup to “put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle” together in the right order.
Heidi Harris Exits KDWN. Word from Las Vegas is that KDWN, Las Vegas morning talk show host Heidi Harris has exited her position at the Beasley Broadcasting-owned news/talker. Sources inside the station tell TALKERS that the relationship between Harris and KDWN management had been strained for some time now and finally reached the breaking point. Heidi Harris, a multi-repeat member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred is considered by industry observers to be a rising star. The conservative host has been a regular contributor and guest on the progressive Ed Schultz Show on MSNBC and speaker at the New Media Seminar. Harris has not responded to e-mail requests by TALKERS for comment and confirmation but her presence on the KDWN website has been removed. More details as they are available.
WMAL, Washington Re-Positions AM Drive Show; Mary Katherine Ham Exits. The former “Morning Majority” AM drive show at Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington is now “Mornings on the Mall” with Brian Wilson and Bryan Nehman as Mary Katherine Ham – who joined WMAL last summer – leaves the program. Ham wrote on her blog earlier this week, “It has been a pleasure to work with Bryan Nehman and Brian Wilson – two consummate broadcast professionals who generously taught this n00b as much as they could. And, though I’m new to radio, it’d be hard to imagine a producer more capable than our executive producer Heather Smith, who I remain convinced does not require sleep (in an industrious way, not a vampire way). The folks at the company had a vision for a different, independent role for me at the station, but we just weren’t able to come to an agreement that would make it work, so I’m off to do my other jobs. I’m constantly thankful I have the freedom to make decisions like that, and realize it’s a tremendous blessing to have such options.” Ham is an analyst at Fox News Channel and is a contributing writer for The Daily Caller.
Firesign Theater Founder Peter Bergman Dies. One of the founders of the radio comedy show Firesign Theater has died at age 72 after a battle with Leukemia. Peter Bergman and three fellow comedians — Phillip Proctor, David Ossman and Phil Austin – created the radio program that spawned four must-have comedy albums (released between 1968 and 1972) for college-age hippies of the time. Bergman was hosting a late-night talk show on Pacifica’s KPFK, Los Angeles when he started the Firesign Theater program. Bergman revived the Firesign Theater show on the internet in 2010.
Salem Radio Network Correspondent Dan Hackel Passes Away. Longtime news pro Dan Hackel died in Israel over the weekend after a battle with cancer. He had been Salem Radio Network’s primary correspondent in Israel for the past four years. Hackel was a founding anchor for CNN International and a frequent anchor on Headline News. He served as Washington correspondent covering the White House for ABC News, and he reported on the U. S. Congress for the Mutual Broadcasting System.
TRN’s and WGST, Atlanta’s Rusty Humphries Named Kentucky Colonel. Kentucky colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the governor and the secretary of state to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. Other notable Colonels include Bob Hope, Pope John Paul II, Winston Churchill and of course Col. Sanders. Pictured with Colonel Rusty Humphries is Melissa Forrest, president and market manager of Clear Channel Atlanta where Humphries works at news/talk WGST.
Salem Communications Ends 2011 with Positive 4th Quarter. The last three months of 2011 were good for Salem Communications as the company reports revenue is up 6.2% over the same period a year ago. Radio revenue was up 2.8% and internet revenue rose 37.1%. The company reports that as a result of the positive news it will begin paying a dividend of 3.5 cents per share to shareholders.
Talk Host Doc Thompson Lands at Detroit’s WXYT. Talk show host Doc Thompson – most recently working at both WLW, Cincinnati and WRVA, Richmond – takes over the PM drive show at CBS Radio’s WXYT, Detroit beginning Monday, March 12. Program director Rona Danziger says, “Doc is a great talent and we’re excited to have him live and local in afternoon drive talking about the issues affecting Detroit, southeast Michigan, and the rest of the country. Doc’s brand of entertaining and informative talk radio will be exactly what rush hour listeners need to get through their afternoon drive. Todd Schnitt, one of the hottest syndicated talents in the business, will immediately follow Doc. This is a powerful one-two punch as we grow Talk Radio 1270’s conservative brand of talk in Detroit.” CBS created the Talk Radio 1270 news/talk outlet last fall after splitting the former AM/FM simulcast of sports WXYT-FM. About his new gig, Doc Thompson says, “Detroit has a history of great radio and I’m very excited to be part of it. We are living in stressful times and the news can be pretty depressing. I offer a unique and compelling viewpoint with lots of humor and fun.”
Entercom Kansas City Names Krista Klaus Host of Midday Show on KMBZ Business Channel. Local broadcast and business print journalist Krista Klaus is named host of the “Kansas City Power Lunch” airing from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Entercom’s new KMBZ Business Channel (KUDL 1660 AM) beginning April 2. Klaus most recently served as associate editor for special projects at the Kansas City Business Journal. She spent 15 years in the TV news business working at WFLA-TV, Tampa; KMBC-TV, Kansas City; and KCTV-TV, Kansas City. KMBZ Brand of Stations program director Jack Landreth states, “The level of business credibility cannot be matched by anyone other than Krista and her local business expertise. Her ability to connect with our local business leaders is just another way that the ‘KMBZ Business Channel’ will successfully super-serve this niche format.”
“Mancow TV” Specials to Air on Fox News Channel This Month. Talk Radio Network personality Erich Mancow Muller is set to tape two editions of “Mancow TV” before live studio audiences in New York on March 17 and 24, according to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder. The shows will be taped in the afternoon on those days and air in prime time with reruns on the 18th and 25th of March as well. Feder reports Mancow is a bit sketchy about the content of the shows but says they will involve presidential politics. Mancow does tell Feder they had planned to do a segment with Andrew Breitbart but must now scramble to change their plans as a result of his passing. Mancow is excited about the shows and says, “To come out of the confines of my cramped radio studio and to be on TV around the world is a terrifying prospect, but it’s also very exciting and thrilling. Other radio hosts have made great transitions to TV on Fox. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if that happened for me, too?”
TRN’s Phil Hendrie Plays Role in Los Angeles Animation Festival. Talk show host, television actor and animation voice star Phil Hendrie walks the red carpet at the Los Angeles Animation Festival on Saturday, March 10 where he’ll be reunited with co-stars of Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s 2004 film, “Team America: World Police,” for a reunion screening of the film at the Regent Showcase Theater in Los Angeles. Hendrie will also take part in a Q&A prior to the screening alongside fellow castmates Daran Norris and the Chiodos Brothers. Hendrie, in addition to his nightly radio show on TRN, is working on his third episode as a recurring character on Fox TV’s hit show, “The New Girl.”
Broadcast Tower to Return to Lower Manhattan at One World Trade Center. Developers of the soon-to-be-complete One World Trade Center – the 1,776 foot skyscraper being constructed at the site of the former Twin Towers destroyed on September 11, 2001 – say they will add broadcasting to its summit making it the region’s tallest broadcast TV/radio facility. As part of an arrangement now being finalized with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, The Durst Organization would oversee construction and operation of a new, state-of-the-art broadcast facility atop the tower. The installation would offer television and FM radio broadcast capabilities. The Durst Organization says that with a 408-foot spire reaching an ultimate height of 1,776 square feet, One World Trade Center’s broadcast center is expected to attract a number of prestigious broadcast partners, while promising to generate significant revenue for the project in return for a relatively modest capital investment. The new venture will employ full redundant power and the One World Trade Center broadcast center would be marketed together with a broadcast tower atop 4 Times Square, also operated by The Durst Organization. The two towers would together serve as a primary and back-up facility, creating an economy of scale for broadcast tenants. The Durst Organization president Jody Durst states, “Broadcasting from the top of One World Trade Center is both an economic and symbolic achievement. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate setting for an ultra-modern broadcast facility than the pinnacle of the world’s most iconic building. At the same time, the facility would serve as a source of ongoing revenue for the property.” Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director Patrick Foye says, “This expanded use of One World Trade Center makes perfect sense. The Durst company brings great experience and expertise in managing broadcast facilities, and their team understands the emerging dynamics in the broadcast marketplace over recent years. With an ideal operator in place, the center would help Lower Manhattan reclaim its status as one of the city’s elite broadcast venues.”
GOP Primary/Super Tuesday Lands Atop Talkers TenTM Chart for Week of March 5-9, 2012. The Republican primary race highlighted by this week’s Super Tuesday elections was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Close behind at #2 was the larger 2012 presidential race. At #3 was the Rush Limbaugh controversy and at #4 was Iran’s nuclear ambitions tied with U.S.-Israel relations. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week that is published each Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
Talk About a P1 Listener! KDKA, Pittsburgh AM drive host Larry Richert (r) is pictured here with 106-year-old Lucy Treccase at her home at the Concordia Lutheran Ministries in Cabot, Pennsylvania. During a previous visit to the facility, KDKA-TV meteorologist Dennis Bowman had discovered that Ms. Treccase had actually heard KDKA’s first broadcast of the 1920 Harding-Cox election returns on November 2 of that year. Both Richert and Bowman interviewed Ms. Treccase for their respective stations. Richert is seen here presenting her with a plaque commemorating the historic broadcast.
Clear Channel Los Angeles to Air “Diverse L.A.” on Progressive Talk KTLK; Black Media Alliance Not Satisfied. As part of Clear Channel Los Angeles’ program to increase diversity at the cluster, a three-week block of programs titled, “Diverse L.A.” will air on progressive talk outlet KTLK during the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart beginning March 12. The program will be hosted by cluster producer and political commentator Morris O’Kelly. Clear Channel is currently seeking community members interested in appearing on the program and is taking suggestions and applications via e-mail at DiverseLA@clearchannel.com. In a statement, Clear Channel Los Angeles market manager Greg Ashlock says, “These 45 hours of prime programming will feature local hosts and guests discussing a wide variety of issues associated with the spectrum of experience of all Angelenos.” The programming is part of the response to the negative feedback sister station KFI received after PM drive hosts John & Ken were suspended for comments about Whitney Houston. Morris O’Kelly states, “This is about Los Angeles hearing voices and viewpoints less often heard while also addressing communities historically underserved. ‘Diverse L.A.’ will highlight new personalities and newsmakers for the KTLK audience but, more importantly, provide a platform for inclusive, substantive dialogue in the public square.” The Los Angeles organization Black Media Alliance responds to the initiative disappointed that Clear Channel has “relegated our concerns to a struggling station that has neither the cachet nor reach of their more profitable outlet.” In a statement, the BMA quotes longtime member and media personality Kevin Ross saying, “The efforts of Clear Channel are important, but it’s not enough…There needs to be diversity on all of their stations, on- and off-air and we are prepared to provide Clear Channel with an extensive list of African-American radio professionals who fit into their current program formatting needs.”
Sacramento Bee Editor Apologizes for Obscene Call to KHTK, Sacramento’s Don Geronimo Show. Sacramento Bee sports editor Tom Couzens has apologized in the paper for making obscene calls to the Don Geronimo morning show at CBS Radio’s sports KHTK, Sacramento that he, at first, denied making. The brouhaha appears to have been the culmination of an ongoing feud between Couzens and Geronimo. The Sacramento News & Review reports Couzens had been critical of the format of Geronimo’s morning drive show and Geronimo – who is a pro at turning that kind of controversy into PR for his show – vowed to “get” Couzens for his criticism of the show. Couzens admits he let Geronimo get to him and his bosses at the Bee are saying it is a personnel issue that is being handled internally.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Names Bo Thompson Co-Host of AM Drive Show. Greater Media news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte announces Bo Thompson joins morning drive host Stacey Simms as co-host of the “Charlotte’s Morning News.” Thompson is currently producer of WCCB-TV, Charlotte’s “Fox News Edge” program hosted by Greater Media personalities Matt Harris and Ramona Holloway. Thompson begins his duties alongside Simms, news anchor John Stokes, sports anchor Jim Szoke and traffic reporter Chuck Roads at WBT on March 19. Thompson says, “I began my radio career at WBT 22 years ago and this is my home. I always knew I’d be back one day. It’s an honor to carry on the torch from Al Gardner. Many of my radio idols have held this job. I can’t wait to be a part of CMN’s next chapter.” Gardner left the station to work with Merlin Media as it prepares to launch a new format on WKDN-FM, Philadelphia.
Clear Channel Adds Local Show to Hartford FM Sports Talker. This week Clear Channel split the simulcast that had been sports talk WPOP and WUCS-FM in Hartford. As reported earlier, WPOP has become a Fox Sports Radio Network affiliate and WUCS-FM carries programming from ESPN. Now, WUCS-FM – positioned as 97.9 ESPN – adds a local PM drive show to the program schedule hosted by Mike Bower. Comedian and talk personality Bower temporarily filled the slot WTKK-FM, Boston had open when it let talk host Jay Severin go in April of last year.
Michael Juliano Takes Over Director of Sales Role at Entercom Boston. Shuffling in the management at Entercom’s Boston cluster opens up the director of sales position and VP/market manager Jeff Brown announces Michael Juliano is brought in to manage the cluster’s sales efforts. Juliano most recently served as regional vice president of sales for Metro Traffic in the New York and Pennsylvania markets. In his new duties, he’ll oversee all revenue for sports WEEI-AM/FM, news/talk WRKO and rock WAAF as well as the Red Sox Radio Network, the Celtics Radio Network and New England Patriots special programming.
Emmis’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis Raises Funds for Tornado Victims. Emmis Communications news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis partnered with WRTV-TV, Indianapolis to raise funds for the victims of the recent tornados that swept through southern Indiana. The Tornado Relief Drive was done in a “drive-through” method on Tuesday, March 6 with local Jiffy Lube locations taking part. During that 12-hour drive some $46,000 was collected. The money is being distributed via the Salvation Army Indiana Division. The familiar red kettles are continuing to being used at the Jiffy Lube locations. During the Tuesday drive, WIBC-FM personnel were stationed at various locations throughout the city with the red kettles.
GOP Primary Race, Rush Limbaugh Controversy, Intensified Syria Violence, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, Solar Storm Heads to Earth, and Sarah Palin Movie Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/7). The Mitt Romney–Rick Santorum race for the Republican nomination; the aftermath of Rush Limbaugh’s controversial language; the intensified violence against Syria’s citizens; continuing international debate over Iran’s nuclear weapons program; the massive solar storm that could disrupt Earth’s communications systems; and the HBO Sarah Palin movie set to air this weekend were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Bill Bradley Meets George Lucas. SiriusXM is presenting a special program in which former Senator Bill Bradley (l) interviews filmmaker George Lucas (r). The satcaster states during the program “Lucas discusses a variety of topics throughout the interview, including: his evolution as a filmmaker and storyteller and the role technology played on this journey; his philosophy on education in America; what inspired him to make “Red Tails” and the importance of sharing the history of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen with the youngest generation of African-Americans in our country today; and the spiritual life lessons woven into the “Star Wars” saga.
The FCC and You. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq. presents the first in a series of articles as an abridgement of a forthcoming e-book detailing the crucial, regulatory information of which every license holder and radio station management employee must be aware. Informal surveys of radio station managers indicate that an alarming number of them are dangerously under-informed about the FCC regulations that pertain to them and their stations. TALKERS editors urge managers to take the time to read this free abridgement of the first of seven installments and share it with their management teams. Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon. In today’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the license renewal process. Read more here.
The Rush Limbaugh Fallout for All Talk Radio Is Advertiser Nervousness. Almost a week into the Rush Limbaugh–Sandra Fluke controversy the consumer media, politicians and even the media trades to some extent are still awash in writing about Limbaugh’s mistake, the coarsening of our media political discourse and even allegations that conservative talk radio, apparently, hates women. But TALKERS is hearing reports from ad rep firms that are more alarming – especially in these already shaky economic times. That is that major advertisers are issuing yet another round of “no controversial programming” dictates. This is not a new problem for talk radio and the recent Limbaugh case is likely only to add fuel to a fire that’s been simmering for the past 20 years. While no laws were broken by Rush Limbaugh, advertisers who fear backlash from activists, parent’s organizations and other groups – even though talk hosts with loyal followings that are likely to buy their products or services help sell those products or services very successfully – don’t want to risk bad PR, protester harassment or outright boycotts from being associated with a “controversial” talk media figure. They reason that there may be many more customers of theirs whom they don’t want to alienate who don’t listen to “controversial” talk radio, so they shy away from the genre altogether. The bigger challenge facing talk radio right now is not defending its programming, but selling it in this turbulent climate.
Ohio State Representative Circulates Petition to Remove Rush Limbaugh from Station. Democratic State Representative Robert F. Hagen is circulating a petition around the Youngstown, Ohio area to submit to station WKBN, Youngstown asking that Premiere Networks talk host Rush Limbaugh be removed from the station’s lineup, according to Vindy.com. The online petition seeks 2,000 signatures before being presented to WKBN management and is less than 200 away from that mark as of this morning. While many politicians at the state and national level have weighed in on the Limbaugh controversy, Hagen is the first TALKERS is aware of who is using his status as a politician to take action in attempting to coerce an affiliate station into making a programming decision.
Cumulus Birmingham and Paul Finebaum Have March 30 Court Date. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has scheduled a March 30 hearing to discuss WJOX-FM, Birmingham sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s motion to dismiss counterclaims by Cumulus against him, reports the Birmingham Business Journal. Finebaum and Cumulus are suing each other for breach of contract. Cumulus’ countersuit claims Finebaum – in violation of his contract – entered into negotiations with a competing broadcasting company and shared proprietary information with said organization. Also, earlier this week Cumulus attorneys filed a motion to block Finebaum’s subpoena of Cumulus for testimony in the suit by arguing that it did not own the Citadel stations when the dispute began.
Merlin Media Closes on WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey. Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media closes on the $22.5 million purchase of WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey from Harold Camping’s Family Stations. It is widely believed that Merlin will bring some spoken-word format to the Philadelphia market – probably an all-news outlet in the image of its New York and Chicago stations. Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host – and Philadelphia native – Al Gardner is reported to be programming the new venture.
KNBR, San Francisco Renews Play-by-Play Deal with the Giants Through 2018. San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer and Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey appeared on the “Murph & Mac Show” on sports KNBR, San Francisco yesterday to announce a new, seven-year contract to keep Giants baseball on the station. Dickey stated, “On behalf of our loyal listeners and valued clients, we are pleased to announce a new seven year partnership with one of the greatest brands in all of sports. We are excited to continue KNBR’s 34-year run with the Giants with the addition of compelling new content designed to bring the fans even closer to the action both on and off the field with exclusive reporting.” The deal includes the pre-game “Kruk & Kuip Show,” the “Post-Game Wrap” and other Giants content throughout the year.
SiriusXM Brings Sports Journalist John Feinstein to Mad Dog Radio Channel. Satellite broadcaster SiriusXM announces a new program co-hosted by renowned sports journalist John Feinstein and Bruce Murray called “Beyond the Brink” to air daily from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the Mad Dog Radio channel. Murray has been hosting the midday show at Mad Dog Radio solo. Feinstein is author of best-sellers A Season on the Brink – detailing a season with Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers – and A Good Walk Spoiled – chronicling a year on the PGA golf tour. The program debuts Thursday live from the ACC basketball tournament. SiriusXM states the two will cover the spectrum of sports on their show, interviewing high-profile guests, debating topics and talking with callers nationwide about the headline stories of the day. Feinstein says of the new program, “I’ve always enjoyed doing radio because it gives you a chance to talk in detail on a lot of different topics and the chance to do it on SiriusXM on a daily basis with an old friend like Bruce is something I’m really looking forward to taking on. I’m really grateful to SiriusXM for giving me this opportunity and I think this is going to be a lot of fun.”
Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh Controversy, Super Tuesday GOP Primaries, U.S.-Israel Relations/Iran Threat, Ponzi Scheme Verdict, and Hacker Ring Busted Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/6). The ongoing aftermath of the Sandra Fluke–Rush Limbaugh controversy; the Super Tuesday GOP primaries; the meeting between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear weapons threat; the verdict in the world’s largest Ponzi scheme trial; and a global hacker ring busted with help from its leader were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Chicago Media Community Mourns Death of John Madigan. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder writes an excellent piece on John Madigan’s place in Chicago media. Read it here. Madigan worked in newspapers, radio and TV and spent part of his career at WBBM, Chicago as political editor. He was part of the team that led the station’s transition to all-news. He passed away recently in Florida at age 94 after complications from a stroke.
On the Road in Long Beach. KLAC, Los Angeles-based Fox Sports Radio Network hosts Matt “Money” Smith (l) and Petros Papadakis (r) are pictured here at their “Just Because It’s Friday” remote broadcast from Cirivello’s Sports Stop in Long Beach, California. The event drew nearly 500 listeners and featured special guests including Long Beach State head basketball coach Dan Monson, college basketball analyst/former college basketball coach Bruce Pearl plus Petros’ father and former USC linebacker John Papadakis. Giveaways included the first-ever “Petros and Money” t-shirt, Matt Kemp baseball bats, signed Magic Johnson and Howie Kendrick photos, a Diamondback bike, and an all-inclusive trip to Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training in Glendale, Arizona. The broadcast was backed by local band Brewfish pictured behind the hosts.
By Steven J. J. Weisman
BOSTON – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the federal agency that regulates the radio, television, wire, satellite and cable industries. Although we are all cognizant of this organization, most broadcasters are not as knowledgeable about the FCC as they should be and with this agency’s power to order significant fines as well as even revoke a broadcasting license, it is imperative that all broadcasters be more familiar with what the FCC is and how it operates. This article is the first of a series of articles as an abridgement of an ebook I have written that describes in great detail what you need to know to broadcast safely and efficiently in today’s regulatory environment. In future installments, I will discuss:
- The FCC’s rules on programming including: obscenity, indecency, broadcast of telephone conversations, parodies, libel and hoaxes;
- The FCC’s complaint procedure;
- The FCC’s rules on advertising which is a most important topic today;
- The FCC’s rules on political advertising, particularly in the light of the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Citizens United case;
- The FCC’s rules on payola, plugging and kickbacks; and
- The FCC’s rules on time brokerage and barter agreements.
Progressive Talk Stars Stephanie Miller and Bill Press Become Featured Current TV Content. The progressive cable and satellite TV channel founded by former Vice President Al Gore is adding Dial Global radio talk show hosts Stephanie Miller and Bill Press to its lineup. Miller’s and Press’ programs will be simulcasts of their radio shows – Miller airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET and Press from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET – beginning early this spring. In a statement, Current TV chairman Al Gore says, “I’ve followed Stephanie and Bill for years. They provide the kind of smart, insightful news analysis that our viewers want to hear. Bill brings a vital perspective directly from the heart of the Beltway, and Stephanie’s fresh take on politics and news has a decidedly outsider flair. We’re really looking forward to bringing their voices to our viewers.” WYD Media president Ron Hartenbaum, executive producer of Stephanie Miller’s program, says, “We at ‘The Stephanie Miller Show’ are excited to participate in another radio-based video simulcast program. The bottom line is entertaining talk radio makes great and engaging tune-in programming for video.” Other political talk shows seen on Current TV include: “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur,” and “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm.”
Rush Limbaugh Addresses Sandra Fluke Issue, Loss of Advertisers at Beginning on Monday Program. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Rush Limbaugh began yesterday’s program speaking about his apology issued over the weekend to Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke for using the terms “slut” and “prostitute” to describe her. Limbaugh stated that he “descended to their level” – meaning liberal political opponents – when he used the two words. “I became like them and I feel very badly about that. I’ve always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program. Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for. They distracted from the point I was actually trying to make. And I, again, apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her.” Limbaugh addressed the loss of advertisers without going into specifics but appeared not overly concerned about the matter stating he turns down advertising on his program regularly for various reasons and said companies advertise with him to have access to his large audience – that everything about the program is for the audience. Without the audience, Limbaugh said the whole enterprise would be academic. Limbaugh slapped back at exiting advertisers a bit when he said, “They don’t want you or your business.” We don’t expect Premiere Networks to announce which advertisers have dropped their advertising – whether temporary or permanent – but it’s being reported that as many as 13 sponsors have left but eight are being widely reported: Carbonite, Citrix, Go To Meeting, Legal Zoom, Pro Flowers, Select Comfort, Sleep Train and Quicken Loans. For her part, Sandra Fluke appeared on ABC TV’s “The View” and said of Limbaugh’s apology, “I don’t think that a statement like this issued, saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything, and especially when that statement is issued when he’s under significant pressure from his sponsors who have begun to pull their support.” So far, two affiliate stations are confirmed to have dropped Limbaugh’s show as a result: KPUA, Hilo, Hawaii and WBEC, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Progressive Talk Host Mike Malloy Mocks Tornado Victims on Radio Program. Longtime progressive talk host Mike Malloy self-syndicates his program and in some quarters he’s taking heat for mocking the victims of the tornados that swept through the Midwest late last week. Malloy is quoted by several sources on his Friday program saying, “Their God, if this is the way they want to look at it, keeps smashing them into little grease spots on the pavement, in Alabama, in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma – you know, the Bible Belt…where they ain’t gonna let no g*dd*mn science get in the way, it says in the bible, blah blah blah, so according to their way of thinking, y’know, God with his omnipotent thumb, and so far tonight, has smashed so far 20 people on Highway 12, or whatever the hell highway they live next to.” With the controversy being raised by Rush Limbaugh overshadowing the consumer media, it’s unlikely Malloy’s comments – which could certainly be deemed insensitive to the people affected by the storms – will get enough attention to catch the national media’s eyes. There’s also the fact that Limbaugh’s program is dominating in terms of presence and Malloy’s is not. Regardless, there are media analysts who are pointing to the use of hyperbole, name calling and insensitive language as a sign that more civility is needed in America’s public discourse.
Compass Media Networks to Syndicate Bob Vila Radio Features. Iconic home improvement figure Bob Vila and Compass Media Networks are agreeing to work together to distribute daily home improvement features voiced by Vila exclusively for radio beginning May 1. Of course, Vila is well known for his television programs – “This Old House” (1979-1989), “Bob Vila’s Home Again” (1990-2005), and “Bob Vila” (2005-2007). He now heads up his own home improvement site, BobVila.com. Vila says of the venture, “Radio offers an incredible opportunity to connect with the American homeowner.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says the project hopes to take advantage of the nearly $112 billion spent annually on home improvement. “Bob Vila is truly an American treasure. Radio stations and advertisers will leap at the chance to associate their brands with Bob Vila.”
Cumulus Media Partners with Radiate Media to Produce National Traffic Reporting Service. The combined effort is going to be called “Right Now Traffic” and will be available to stations in April in the top 75 markets. The reports will be powered by the world’s largest traffic flow network, which includes government sensors, toll tag monitoring and billions of GPS data points. Radiate Media’s premier traffic data comes in part from Nokia (formerly NAVTEQ) – a source also used for GPS navigation devices, in-vehicle navigation systems, mobile devices and hundreds of radio and television stations. Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey states, “We’re excited about launching ‘Right Now Traffic’ with Radiate Media. Americans are spending more than 1,000 hours per year in their cars. Our listeners, advertisers and network affiliates all demand accurate and timely traffic information and this partnership enables us to address that need with a best-in-class service.”
Dial Global Amps Up Producers Department for Programming. Dial Global promotes Scot Kirk to the newly created position senior production director and brings James Harness aboard as a producer. The company says Kirk will oversee the creative direction and imaging for all of Dial Global-owned formats, shows and programs. Both Kirk and Harness will be located in Valencia, California and report directly to VP Programming, David Felker. EVP of programming Beau Phillips says, “Since merging with Westwood One, Dial Global now produces a tremendous amount of content. While our programming sounds strong, we’re investing in producers who will set the vision and boost the quality across all DG products.” Scot Kirk brings more than two decades of radio production expertise to his new role, including positions at Jones Radio Networks, KISW-FM and KMTT-FM in Seattle, and KXPK-FM in Denver before joining Dial Global in 2009. James Harness is best known for guiding the creative imaging for KROQ-FM in Los Angeles as well as 92.3 NOW, WXRK-FM and FREE-FM in New York.
Salem Radio Network Holds Urgent Drive for Help for Tornado Victims. The talk hosts syndicated nationally by Salem Radio Network — Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Janet Mefferd, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt – mounted a daylong appeal yesterday (3/5) to gather donations for food, blankets and other essentials for the people of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and the other states affected by the tornados that swept through the region over the weekend. The storms caused dozens of deaths and millions of dollars worth of destruction. Oklahoma City-based FEED THE CHILDREN is facilitating and administering the aid.
Sirius XM Beefs Up Election Programming on POTUS Channel. The satcaster ramps up its 2012 presidential election coverage with new programming on its Politics of the United States – POTUS – channel. “Showdown 2012” will air Thursdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm with veteran White House and Washington, D.C. correspondents including Jon Decker, Chris Core, Dick Uliano and Louise Schiavone. “CQ Roll Call” airs Wednesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by CQ Roll Call senior editor Morton Kondracke, editor David Hawkings, and others. “The Flacks” airs Mondays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by veteran communications strategists and MSNBC political analysts Karen Finney and Robert Traynham.
Money Radio 1200 Debuts in Palm Springs. CRC Media West’s KPSF, Palm Springs financial talk radio outlet signed on yesterday (3/5). The station was constructed by CRC Media West principals Ronald Cohen and Brian DuBose and modeled after the company’s “Money Radio” outlet serving the Phoenix market. The Palm Springs station features a mix of syndicated and local/regional programming.
WTOP, Washington, DC Names Washington Regional Transplant Community Charity of the Month. The Hubbard Broadcasting media organization says that as part of WTOP’s ‘Charity of the Month’ program, Washington Regional Transplant Community will receive more than $30,000 in free air time and in-kind contributions, including on-air promotions, as well as content on WTOP’s social media platforms and on WTOP.com throughout the month. The WRTC serves as the federally-designated organ procurement organization (OPO) for the Washington metropolitan area. As one of 58 OPOs nationwide, WRTC is the organization that facilitates all deceased organ, eye and tissue donation in our area, serving more than five million residents. WTOP public relations and marketing specialist Robin Newton says, “WTOP is proud to support Washington Regional Transplant Community during the month of March. WRTC has a direct effect on the health of our local community and helping them means strengthening an invaluable resource for our neighbors. Our hope is to spread awareness and garner attention for their work.”
Limbaugh Clarifies Controversial Remarks and Apologizes to Sandra Fluke. Facing mounting critical and advertiser pressure in the aftermath of his harsh commentary about law student Sandra Fluke and her testimony before Congress about birth control (see Friday’s story below), Premiere Networks host Rush Limbaugh has issued the following statement and apology on Saturday evening: “For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a presidential level. My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.” There has been no official word from Premiere Networks on advertisers leaving Limbaugh’s program but numerous media reports are indicating that advertisers Sleep Train, Select Comfort, ProFlowers, Quicken Loans, Citrix Systems, Carbonite and Legal Zoom have pulled their ads from the program. NBC News is reporting an e-mail from Select Comfort spokeswoman Gabby Nelson states, “Due to recent commentary by Rush Limbaugh that does not align with our values, we’ve made the decision to immediately suspend all advertising on that program.” According to ABC News, ProFlowers said Sunday on its Facebook page that it has suspended advertising on Limbaugh’s program because his comments about Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke “went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company.”
Threat of Lawsuit Against Limbaugh Raises Legal Questions for Broadcasters. With Rush Limbaugh’s apology to Sandra Fluke in the rear view mirror, Fluke has told the consumer press she is entertaining the idea of suing Limbaugh for his words against her. Those citizens sympathetic to Fluke (and Democratic politicians willing to use the assault on Fluke as a sort of symbol for all that is wrong with talk media) would like to see a Fluke suit succeed. But TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says a case against Limbaugh is a bit murky due to Fluke’s status in the public eye. Weisman reminds us that the Supreme Court has protected journalists commenting on matters of public concern. “Since the landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan, it has been recognized that public officials could not successfully sue for defamation unless it could be proven that the journalist acted with actual malice – that is that he or she was aware that what he or she was saying was a lie, or a reckless disregard for the truth.” In that decision Justice Brennan even wrote there is a “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” But Sandra Fluke is not a public official, is she? No, but Weisman says, “The Supreme Court has refined the standard to make distinctions between involuntary public figures – those who are always public figures – and people such as Sandra Fluke who are public figures on specific issues. As a limited-purpose public figure, Sandra Fluke has, by testifying, put herself into a position where she can be criticized and commented upon in regard to her stated positions with journalists feeling secure that they can make mistakes in commenting about her testimony without legal liability.” But Weisman says that doesn’t necessarily mean clear sailing for Limbaugh should Fluke proceed with legal action. “The extent of Limbaugh’s comments could be considered, however, to be beyond the permissible when dealing with a limited-purpose public figure. Alternatively, it also could be considered that Limbaugh’s comments could be considered to be indefensible even using the lower standard presented by the malice test because his comments could be interpreted as having been made with malice – that is he knew they were false – or made with a reckless disregard for the truth. Thus there may be some significant liability on Limbaugh’s part in regard to libelous comments that he made about Fluke. Limbaugh may argue that his actions were not to be considered as literal and that they were merely hyperbole. He may also argue in his defense that no one would believe what he said to be accurate which might be a fascinating defense that could ultimately hurt him overall more than losing a defamation claim.”
Accurate Analysis of Talk Media Necessary Before Piling on Conservative Commentators. Consumers – and to some extent industry insiders – have been more than willing to condemn conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh (and KFI, Los Angeles’ John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on the regional level) for language that some may say is, at the very least, not civil. But columnist, Fox News Channel analyst and former Clinton Administration official Kirsten Powers writes that liberals may need to clean up their own house before judging Rush Limbaugh. In her piece, “Rush Limbaugh Isn’t the Only Media Misogynist” published by the Daily Beast, Powers calls it a “war on women” and states, “Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.” In the piece, Powers illustrates that liberal political and social commentators have made very similar comments as Rush Limbaugh without liberal groups batting an eye at their transgressions. Powers writes about Bill Maher, “But the grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher – who also happens to be a favorite of liberals – who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC. Maher has called Palin a ‘dumb twat’ and dropped the C-word in describing the former Alaska governor.” This raises several interesting points. First, yes, Sarah Palin is a politician and not an innocent 30-year-old law student. See TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman’s analysis of that in the piece above. Second, many see what Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh do for a living as very different. But that’s really not so. Both are entertainers who comment on social and political issues. It’s true that Maher operates on pay cable and Limbaugh on free, over-the-air radio, but there have been no FCC regulations violated in this case so that comparison is moot. Ultimately what’s very possible the entertainment industry – of which talk media is a part – is seeing is a groundswell of public support for a more civil tone in the nation’s public discourse, even when that discourse comes to them through the vehicle of entertainment.
KFI’s John and Ken to Undergo Cultural Sensitivity Training. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles issued a “Memorandum to the Los Angeles Community” in the wake of the John and Ken-Whitney Houston episode that cost the duo a seven-day suspension. The seven-point memo signed by market manager Greg Ashlock, program director Robin Bertolucci and marketing director Neil Saavedra includes assurance that John Koblyt, Ken Chiampou and “key staff and management” will “participate in cultural sensitivity training furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California.”
Emmis to Make Case to Avoid Delisting. Six months ago Emmis Communications received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC its stock had to regain compliance with the $1 minimum bid rule in order to continue to be traded on the market. In a Friday SEC filing, Emmis stated, “The Company has requested a hearing before the Panel, which will stay any delisting action in connection with the Staff Determination and allow the continued listing of the Company’s Class A Common Stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market until the Panel renders a decision subsequent to the hearing. At the hearing, the Company intends to present a plan to regain compliance with the Rule and request that the Panel allow the Company additional time within which to regain compliance. While the Company believes that it will be able to present a viable plan to regain compliance, there can be no assurance that the Panel will grant the Company’s request for continued listing on The Nasdaq Global Select Market, or that the Company’s plans to exercise diligent efforts to maintain the listing of its securities on Nasdaq will be successful.” That chance to plead its case could come by tomorrow.
Radio Pro Paul Barsky Joins WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale for PM Drive. Paul Barsky has worked extensively in the Philadelphia market at music outlets WMMR-FM, WYSP-FM and WPLY-FM and in other markets as well. Now he’s holding down the PM drive shift at James Crystal’s WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale following lead-in talk star Joyce Kaufman.
WGN, Chicago Whittles “Cubs Song” Entries Down to Three. Tribune’s WGN, Chicago is holding a contest for the “next great Cubs song” to be played before each broadcast of Chicago Cubs play-by-play on the station. It solicited more than 300 entries since the contest was announced and has winnowed that down to the final three: “Cubs Win” by 17 Candle, “Let’s Go Cubbies” by The Fold, and “Rockin’ Right at Wrigley” by Derrick Procell. Now it’s up to voters to hit the WGN website to vote on their favorite. The winner will be announced by AM drive host Jonathon Brandmeier on March 16 and the song will be played live during Brandmeier’s Opening Day broadcast on April 5 from the Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field.
TALKERS TV EXCLUSIVE: During the recent TALKERS/Talk Radio News Service radio row held in New Hampshire on the eve of the nation’s first presidential primary, TALKERS TV video recorded Emmanuel College (Boston) student broadcaster Joe Horgan interviewing Andrew Breitbart on the college’s internet station. The interview conducted on January 10 presents a superb portrait of Breitbart and his media philosophy. See the video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.
White House Responds to Rush Limbaugh’s Take on Georgetown College Student. Premiere Networks talk show host Rush Limbaugh is getting an extraordinary amount of attention from comments made on his program earlier this week. During the program Limbaugh questioned the testimony of Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke who – speaking to the issue of subsidies for birth control – stated that her Catholic university won’t pay for expensive contraception. Weighing in on the issue, Limbaugh said, in part, that the university is, in effect being asked to pay for students to have sex. “What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception.” White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama called Ms. Fluke to express his support for her stating her opinion and his regret for the response she received. Republicans and Democrats are now battling over allegations some Democrats and Democratic fundraising organizations are using the issue to raise campaign donations.
Los Angeles African-American Coalition Unhappy with KFI’s Response. Several days after meeting with Clear Channel Los Angeles management about issues of diversity and ethnic insensitivity after the suspension of PM drive team John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou for remarks made about Whitney Houston, a self-described coalition of Black business and media professionals announces it is not satisfied with KFI management’s response in a memorandum titled “We Are Listening” and plans further action. In a press statement, media contact Jasmyne Cannick states the coalition plans to take the issue to Washington. “Consequently, we plan on filing a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission that will include audio and video evidence substantiating our claims that these licensing violations are pervasive and systemic. We are confident President Barack Obama, several local officials as well as members of Congress, and the FCC will agree with our stance that the way Clear Channel is addressing the issue of diversity is disingenuous at best and fraudulent at its worst.” The coalition had asked four areas to be addressed by Clear Channel management: The hiring of more Blacks as on-air talent – full time, weekends, fill-in hosts; Similar to cable outlets, the station should feature paid KFI contributing commentators who can discuss issues with the on-air [talent] from different perspectives; Clear Channel must employ more blacks behind the scenes such as producers, engineers, sales representatives, professionals in marketing and promotions, as well as college interns of color. This is not limited to KFI; and KFI specifically needs to collaborate with online news and entertainment sites owned by African Americans and broaden the listening audience through community outreach events and public affairs. Whether or not this issue becomes a serious PR problem for KFI remains to be seen, but the coalition seems very intent on executing its goals. It states, “What must be reiterated is that Clear Channel’s corporate policies are being completely ignored and lip service can no longer suffice. In the next seven days, we will launch an all-out campaign employing the same tools Clear Channel radio personalities utilize to drive home the point that issues of importance will no longer be placated. Whether it’s employing John and Ken’s ‘Heads on a Stick’ campaign, to launching ‘Political Human Sacrifice 2012,’ all remedies, legal and otherwise, will be exhausted.” At a time when a significant degree of murkiness exists in the understanding of FCC rules pertaining to ethnic equality and programming sensitivity on the part of radio stations and their community critics alike, this brewing situation has the potential to force the clarification of a number of sticky issues including First Amendment guarantees as they apply to broadcasters, the public relations of race, and specific licensing requirements of the FCC.
Talk Media Industry Mourns Passing of Andrew Breitbart. The Conservative digital media mogul and talk media personality died unexpectedly at age 43 early Thursday morning of what appears to have been a heart attack. The conservative side of the talk media industry certainly had a friend in Andrew Breitbart. He was a big fan of conservative talk radio, often appearing on both nationally syndicated and local talk radio programs to discuss political issues. He even guest-hosted programs – most recently subbing for Dial Global’s Dennis Miller just last week. Breitbart’s work creating digital media targeting the conservative political audience made him a news/talk media celebrity as well as a target for those who disagreed with his politics. He’s pictured here reading one of the final print editions of TALKERS magazine at the radio row in New Hampshire prior to that state’s primary election in February.
TALKERS TV EXCLUSIVE: During the recent TALKERS/Talk Radio News Service radio row held in New Hampshire on the eve of the nation’s first presidential primary, TALKERS TV video recorded Emmanuel College (Boston) student broadcaster Joe Horgan interviewing Andrew Breitbart on the college’s internet station. The interview conducted on January 10 presents a superb portrait of Breitbart and his media philosophy. See the video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.
More Momentum Behind Radio News as Dial Global Teams with NBC for 24-Hour News Product. The term 24-hour news service is slightly misleading. What NBC and Dial Global are offering is not a full 60 minutes of news each hour all day long but top- and bottom-of-the-hour news plus bulletins, live coverage of news events, news feeds, etc. But with the demise Dial Global’s distribution of CNN Radio and that service largely disappearing, this new initiative underscores the resurgence in the demand for news from consumers that’s being exemplified on America’s radio airwaves. In recent years the industry has seen Talk Radio Network collaborate with The Washington Times to produce and syndicate a national morning drive news product out of the Nation’s Capital; TRN subsidiary America’s Radio News Network is currently clearing its successful three-hour, all-news blocks on more than 200 radio stations; CBS Radio bought an FM signal in the Washington-Baltimore area to put its news expertise to the test against Hubbard Broadcasting’s news juggernaut WTOP; Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media is building all-news formats on two major FM signals in New York and Chicago with another in Philadelphia reportedly on the way; and Fox News Radio has been providing a major league level of news and information service to nearly a thousand affiliates (including talkers) for years. Dial Global’s announcement of its collaboration with NBC News to offer a radio news product using its vast resources and high-profile personalities shows it takes radio’s desire for news seriously. NBC News Radio will be distributed to radio stations nationwide by Dial Global beginning April 1 and will give those stations access to the global resources of NBC News including: live simulcasts of breaking news from NBC and MSNBC, and reports from top NBC News correspondents including NBC News political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, chief Justice Department correspondent Pete Williams and senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers. NBC News Radio will also feature Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” and David Gregory, host of “Meet the Press.” The development shows that at a time when many Americans are getting more and more of their news from internet sources, a case can be made that news radio – especially news radio consumed in the auto – is more important than ever to many people. This current state and its future potential sparks the need for new and creative ways beyond merely “reading the story” in which to present news and information content. Along with that come opportunities for creative talent – experienced in what captivates radio listeners – to put their skills to the test in taking radio news into the future.
KIRO-FM, Seattle Develops New Weekend Talk Show About Local Music. In cooperation with Seattle Weekly, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle announces the debut of “Seattle Sounds,” airing Sunday afternoons from 3:00 to 4:00. The show is co-hosted by Josh Kerns and Seattle Weekly music editor Chris Kornelis and is described as telling the “story behind the music – they dive deep into the artists who perform the music, explain why the music is gaining such traction, and discover bands who warrant attention. The program features live performances, interviews with artists, and weekly contests to attend some of the region’s hottest shows. ‘Seattle Sounds’ provides a new, uniquely-Northwest experience for audiophiles who want something more than just the Top 40 on shuffle.” KIRO-FM program director Larry Gifford says, “We are very excited to team up with Seattle Weekly to give music fans in the Northwest a weekly conversation about what’s new, what’s trending and what’s worth checking out when it comes to the local music scene. It is a terrific addition to 97.3 KIRO-FM’s All New ‘Learn, Laugh, Relax Weekend lineup.’”
Colleagues Mourn Passing of Former KOMO Radio and TV News Personality Eric Slocum. Former co-workers at Fisher Broadcasting’s KOMO, Seattle and KOMO-TV are mourning the unexpected death of former news anchor Eric Slocum who passed away last Saturday at age 54. Reports indicate he had suffered from depression in recent years and the death was ruled a suicide. Slocum started his career in radio but moved to KOMO-TV. He left the TV side in 2001 and returned to news/talk KOMO. He left the station in 2008.
Compass Media Networks Offers Big 10 Hoops Tourney for Third Consecutive Year. As the college basketball tournament season approaches, Compass Media Networks announces it is distributing play-by-play of the Big 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament beginning Thursday, March 8 and running through Sunday, March 11. The games are being distributed to satellite radio and terrestrial radio including major affiliates such as WFAN, New York. CMN’s broadcast team includes: Matt “Money” Smith from KLAC, Los Angeles who is partnered with former NBA star Rick Mahorn; and Drew Bontadelli who calls play-by-play with former college hoops star Mike Wozniak.
CBS Radio’s Altitude Group Names Marilou McFarlane VP of Strategic Partnerships. The Altitude Group is CBS Radio’s marketing wing that focuses on creating unique advertising programs to help grow client brands and customer engagement. The company says Altitude uses the power of CBS Radio’s 130 major market stations combined with all available digital distribution channels to execute big ideas for advertisers so they can reach their customers in any and every way. Marilou McFarlane, based in San Francisco, will use the group’s best practices to develop new business in markets up and down the west coast. McFarlane has worked for Clear Channel, CBS Radio in the past as well as developed her own media and marketing consultancy firm, McFarlane Marketing LLC. Additionally, she launched Vivo Girls Sports, Inc., an online community for girls 13-24 years old who are passionate about sports and live a healthy active lifestyle.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Fill-in Host Wayne Powers Runs for County Commissioner. Wayne Powers has been a regular fill-in host at Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte for the past four years. He announces he’s removing himself from the station’s roster in order to run as a Republican for a seat on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 27 – March 2. According to ongoing research from TALKERS, the GOP primaries and the 2012 presidential race was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM chart. Coming in at #2 was Iran tensions tied with the North Korea nuclear program deal. At #3 was the state of the economy and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony before Congress and at #4 was rising gas prices. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Independently syndicated “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman” joins the weekend lineup at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles…..KGO, San Francisco-based weekend talk host Karel gets his Sunday 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm program added to the lineup at KJFK, Reno…..Cumulus Media Networks’ “Red Eye Radio” featuring Eric Harley and Gary McNamara picks up affiliates WLS, Chicago; WMAL-AM/FM, Washington; and WPRO/WEAN-FM, Providence…..Talk Radio Network’s “Watchdog on Wall Street” with host Chris Markowski is picked up by KIVA, Albuquerque…..“Beyond the Beltway” with host Bruce DuMont is added to the program schedule at WATX, Cookeville, Tennessee…..The DirecTV-produced and Premiere Networks-distributed Nick and Artie show featuring Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange adds CBS Radio’s WIP-AM, Philadelphia.
Entercom Kansas City Officially Announces Debut of “The KMBZ Business Channel.” The news leaked out via a local PR firm earlier this week but now Entercom Kansas City confirms its classical “Radio Bach” – KUDL, Kansas City – is being flipped to financial talk and will be branded “The KMBZ Business Channel on 1660 AM.” Jack Landreth, program director of the KMBZ brand of stations, states the flip fills a void in the market, “‘The KMBZ Business Channel’ is a natural extension of our award-winning KMBZ News/Talk station. Building on KMBZ’s many years of success, we are launching a business station dedicated to business leaders and investors. By offering clear, concise business reports on Newsradio 98.1 FM and expanding those reports on ‘The KMBZ Business Channel on 1660,’ we will create a unique radio synergy.” Vice president and general manager Dave Alpert says the station will focus on business news as it happens and opinions about financial issues. “Business news is no longer just a stock market update. In today’s fast-paced world, business is a 24-hour news cycle…We will deliver the very best business reporting and direct access to the insider opinions that drive business throughout Kansas City and around the country.” Alpert and Landreth say their target audience is affluent, well-educated, homeowners over the age of 35, with household incomes over $100,000. “With Newsradio 98.1 FM, KMBZ already delivering a business-to-business audience, the ‘KMBZ Business Channel’ will cultivate a broader base of influential listeners across high-income levels from wired workers and educated professionals to CEOs and managers.”
News Staffers Exit Merlin Media’s FM News 101.9 in New York. Mediabistro FishbowlNY reports the departure of three on-air staffers from WEMP-FM, New York. The site says former WWOR-TV anchor Sara Lee Kessler, who’d been with WEMP-FM since its beginning last August, has exited as have evening anchor Maureen Langan and reporter Bob Brown. There’s no information whether any of the three were let go or left the station voluntarily. This news comes a week after Eric Seidel was named interim program director at the all-news station.
ESPN Brings Former Colts Exec Bill Polian Aboard as NFL Analyst. The sports media giant announces former Indianapolis Colts vice chairman Bill Polian is joining ESPN on March 12 – the day before NFL free agency begins – and will be seen on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” “NFL Live,” “NFL 32,” as well as heard on ESPN Radio. Polian will also write for ESPN’s digital initiatives and ESPN The Magazine.
Michael Patrick Shiels Exits Lansing-Based “Michigan’s Morning Show.” Talk show host Michael Patrick Shiels and Cumulus Broadcasting have parted company with Shiels doing his last broadcast based at WJIM, Lansing and the 10-station Michigan Talk Network on Tuesday (2/28). Michigan Talk Network general manager Dave Minock tells Michigan Live, “He’s decided to move on and we’re carrying on as you can imagine.” Minock says the program – distributed to the company’s WJRW, Grand Rapids and eight other stations around the state – will feature guest hosts until the company finds a permanent replacement for Shiels, who tells the site, “It was an amicable parting and I’m hoping I’ll get the opportunity down the road to reconnect with my Michigan listeners.”
Ric Edelman Public TV Series Wins Six Awards. Top-ranked financial advisor and talk media personality Ric Edelman’s “The Truth About Money” public TV program is honored with six Telly Awards. The awards honor outstanding international video and film productions. Edelman’s radio program of the same name is heard in 54 markets on commercial talk stations across the U.S. His public TV program was just renewed for a second season. The program won awards in three categories – education, information and editing. The program is dedicated to educating public television viewers about the latest data and research regarding how to save and invest their hard-earned dollars, while providing an entertaining framework. Guests have included everyone from wealthy publisher Steve Forbes, to divorce guru Raoul Felder, to CNBC anchorwoman and Wall Street mainstay Maria Bartiromo.
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Names Tim Castelli EVP of Digital Sales. The longtime digital advertising executive who most recently worked at America Online becomes executive vice president of digital sales reporting directly to chairman and CEO John Hogan. Tim Castelli will be in charge of national digital sales efforts and developing innovative advertising products and programs across several Clear Channel Media and Entertainment divisions, including strategic partnerships, national programming platforms and national advertising platforms and iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s digital radio service. John Hogan states, “Tim is recognized for his innovation and tactical expertise. His understanding of advertisers’ needs and objectives will help them take even greater advantage of our unmatched resources.”
Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises More Than $250,000 at Golden Mike Award Dinner. More than 250 radio and TV broadcasters attended the 2012 Golden Mike Award Dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Monday, February 27 to honor award recipient Dennis Swanson, president of station operations for Fox Television Stations. The black-tie fundraiser collected more than $250,000 to support the BFoA’s mission of providing aid to broadcasters in desperate need. Pictured here is Swanson (second from left) accepting the award from “Inside Edition” host Deborah Norville and Broadcasters Foundation chairman Phil Lombardo (second from right) and president Jim Thompson (far left). In attendance were broadcasting luminaries serving as presenters including Roger Ailes of Fox News; Dr. Mehmet Oz, the syndicated TV show host and cardiac surgeon; Elsie McCabe Thompson of the Museum for African Art; and Larry Wert of NBC-TV. Also during the evening, the Foundation recognized Rick Buckley, a longtime supporter of the Broadcasters Foundation who served as its treasurer for many years. A fund established in Buckley’s name after he passed away suddenly in July has generated $50,000 to help broadcasters in need.
Star on the Rise: Florida Talk Show Host Burnie Thompson Making Statewide Waves from Base in the Panhandle. Former Air Force Captain and college English teacher Burnie Thompson has been in the talk radio business since 2007 when he began broadcasting from his home base in Panama City, Florida. Since that time, with the help of Don McCoy of McCoy Media, he’s expanded his daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET program from his flagship at Magic Broadcasting’s WYOO-FM, Panama City to stations in Jacksonville, Pensacola and Ft. Walton Beach. Stations in Tallahassee and the Gainesville/Ocala markets are set to begin airing the daily show within the next few weeks. Thompson also produces a weekend version culled from the best of the weekday show that currently airs on 13 stations across Florida. Thompson has made so many inroads in such a short time that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has reportedly dubbed him “Florida’s Voice of Freedom.” Thompson is riding what he cites as a trend in talk radio making statewide programs more relevant and potentially popular than in the past. That, coupled with Florida’s burgeoning image as a center of rapidly growing importance from a demographic and political standpoint on the national scene, gives Thompson’s syndication venture that much more gravity. He says more important to his affiliates is the fact that his show became one of the highest-rated radio shows in Panama City for four consecutive years. Many local businesses have hired him to endorse them, making the show a top revenue producer. Thompson tells TALKERS, “The show is a mix between a 21st century town hall and your favorite saloon; a place where ideas collide and reason prevails. Every day on the radio, I strive to expand freedom and protect the family budget from government plunder by giving Floridians a place to link arms. I just want to make a difference in the Sunshine State – perhaps make it a little freer, and a little more prosperous. Then we’ll expand our horizons.” Thompson has been a freelance writer for more than a decade having work published in The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Washington Times, The Orange County Register, The Tallahassee Democrat, The Panama City News Herald, and more than a dozen other publications. He has a master’s degree in journalism from USC, a master’s in English from Penn State and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Fullerton.
Mitt Romney’s Michigan and Arizona Sweep, Deadly Midwestern Storms, Ohio School Shooting Aftermath, North Korean Nukes Deal, Iran Tensions, Health Care Birth Control Controversy and Pop Icon Davy Jones’ Death Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/29). The GOP primary race in the wake of Mitt Romney’s victories on Tuesday; the deadly storms that swept through the Midwest; the Ohio school killings aftermath; the deal struck with North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program; ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions; the action in Washington over the health care birth control controversy and the death of pop icon Davy Jones were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (2/29).
Alex Jones Rocks Orlando. Genesis Communications Network nationally syndicated talk sensation Alex Jones is pictured here mugging for the camera at Orlando Jai Alai on February 26 alongside Star Over Orlando‘s WEUS midday talk host Doc Holliday. Jones’ standing-room-only appearance included a live radio broadcast, a showing of his latest documentary film and an accompanying speech that WEUS says was, “a rousing affair that brought down the house!” WEUS carries Jones’ radio show live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET.