Big Changes in Atlanta Talk Radio: Clear Channel to Flip WGST-AM/FM, Atlanta to Spanish or Comedy and Rush Limbaugh Moves to Cox’s WSB-AM/FM. Exactly what format Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will flip longtime news/talk WGST-AM (which is simulcast on an FM translator at 92.3) to – whether it will be a Spanish format or a comedy format – remains to be seen. But talk pro Rusty Humphries, who handled PM drive for the station is gone and Premiere’s Glenn Beck ran in his place Wednesday. The status of morning hosts Rob Johnson and Dave Merlino is not known, however WGST is airing “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” in place of Johnson and Merlino. Humphries, who hosts a separate program that is nationally syndicated via Talk Radio Network, tells TALKERS magazine, “It is always sad to see a news/talk facility such as WGST change to another format but I am grateful for the time I had there and was able to spend doing local radio in Atlanta. The people at Clear Channel are fine people and I enjoyed working with them. For me, the good news is that I will have a lot more time to devote to my nationally syndicated TRN program which is growing by leaps and bounds.” Attempts by TALKERS to get response from Clear Channel management in Atlanta confirming the format change have not been successful. Meanwhile, across town at Cox Media’s WSB-AM/FM, the station announces Rush Limbaugh, who is heard on WGST, will move to WSB beginning Monday, October 1. At the same time WSB announces a new long-term deal with Premiere’s Sean Hannity for the PM drive slot and the return of “Atlanta’s Evening News” airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm hosted by Erick Erickson. Cox Media’s Clark Howard will still emanate from WSB for his nationally syndicated program heard on some 200 affiliates across the country but will move to the 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot on WSB. In order to accommodate the Limbaugh acquisition, the Neal Boortz program moves to the 8:30 am to 12:00 noon slot.
Armstrong & Getty Return Today. KSTE, Sacramento-based morning duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are back on the air this morning with Armstrong telling Sacramento TV station KTXL “Fox40” that the reason the duo was off the air on Tuesday and Wednesday was due to an “internal” reason and not because of their call to have listeners post cartoons, photos etc. that criticize Islam. It had been widely reported the two had been suspended for the incident. In fact, Armstrong tells the TV station the audio file of Monday’s controversial show will return to the online archives soon. He says they will address the matter first thing today on the program at 6:00 am PT.
Talk Host Phil Valentine Decries Political Correctness. Writing that the fear of offending those groups of people from which terrorists have sprung has put the shoe on the other foot and now the media is being terrorized, nationally syndicated talk host Phil Valentine laments the state of the media in America. He says, “I’ve often joked that the only two groups we in talk radio can get away with offending are the deaf and the Amish. Other offenses might require throwing yourself at the mercy of Jesse Jackson or apologizing to some LGBT group. Now there is an offense from which you may never come back and that is offending a Muslim.” Valentine penned this piece for TALKERS after hearing about the case of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty. Valentine’s piece is an interesting look at the intersection of politics and media in our current age. Read it here.
Media Blogger Rich Lieberman Stands By Ronn Owens Story. Rich Lieberman, who operates the 415 Media blog, wrote a post recently predicting that KGO, San Francisco talk legend Ronn Owens would have his contract – which expires at the end of this year – bought out and he would disappear from KGO early with the station moving in a newsier direction. TALKERS reported this and Owens responded that Lieberman’s report is “totally made up.” He also told TALKERS Lieberman has been attacking him for the past year for the changes that have taken place at KGO since Cumulus Media took over the station. Now, Lieberman tells TALKERS he stands by his story. “My sources are strong and I believe in them. This has been a story I have sat on for nearly three weeks. I finally went with it after talk and e-mailing Bay Area broadcast people familiar with the subject at hand. I do NOT just dish out any speculation and innuendo without first trying to get it right.” Apparently, only time will tell what the future holds for Ronn Owens at KGO.
20 Years and Going Strong. Nationally syndicated talk superstar Dave Ramsey is pictured here holding the pewter statuette of a classic radio microphone given to him by his staff in honor of his 20th anniversary in the talk radio business. Ramsey’s “official” anniversary is tomorrow – September 28 – and commemorates the day he and some friends took to the air on WWTN-FM, Nashville in a brokered time deal with the then-bankrupt station. On Friday, a special episode of the program will air and include well-wishes from celebrities, friends and family; glimpses into the party at Ramsey’s Financial Peace Plaza; a look back at the history of the show; and calls from long-time listeners and second-generation callers. Video of the show will be streamed live online. Ramsey says, “I’m still surprised and honored that people call me at some of the most difficult and personal moments in their lives. Giving people hope for their future and seeing lives changed is why I do this every day.” He also credits his team for helping him achieve the success he has. “I didn’t do this on my own. Our producer, Blake Thompson, associate producer, Lara Johnson, engineer Matt Aaron and many other people have made it what it is today. I have the best crew in radio, and we’ve been together for a long time, which is unheard of in the radio industry.”
The Young Guns of Talk Radio. Ask anyone, especially those working for the consumer media, and they’ll tell you that personalities working as hosts on news/talk stations are all old, white men. Radio’s general lack of a “farm system” doesn’t help that misconception much, but the truth is there are young people – some men and some women – working in news/talk radio today. TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey writes about some of the young broadcasters working in news/talk now. Not all of them agree that by being young, they have the ability to attract a younger audience to the format. But some believe it can be a factor. KNST, Tucson host and PD Garret Lewis, for example, says, “The fact that I’m 35 and my friends are around my age gives me an advantage because I know what makes a person in their late 20s and 30s get fired up emotionally and what interests them.” Hosts talk with Casey about the issues of the demographic, who inspired them, how they approach their programs and what, if anything, can be done to get young people into the talk business. Read this story here.
Looking for Political Ad Dollars. Getting those political ad dollars – even getting them late – is a nice boost to a station’s or group’s revenue. TALKERS magazine managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian talks with Portland Radio Group president and general manager Cary Pahigian about status of political money. Pahigian says if you’re not in a potential swing state, the numbers (at least for presidential dollars) for radio are not rosy – at least not yet. “With the exception of a few states, there does seem to be a lull,” Pahigian says. He says the same pattern has developed over the past few election cycles. “Depending on the landscape and circumstances, television is first in line and radio is second. Everything changes though if there are issues and/or a tight race going on.” Read Mike Kinosian’s full story here.
Three Senators and a Hopeful. WIBC, Indianapolis late morning host Greg Garrison was visited by three U.S. Senators and one who hopes to become the next senator from the state of Indiana on his program on Wednesday during a campaign swing through the state capital. Pictured here (from l-r) are: WIBC’s Todd Meyer, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Garrison, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Indiana State Treasurer and senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock, and Senator Dan Coats (R-IN).
Presidential Campaign Polls, Libya-al Qaeda Connection, Iran/Middle East Tensions, and NFL Referees Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/26). The conflicting presidential election polls; the continuing query into the cause of the Libya terrorist attack; the state of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the political climate in the Middle East; and the status of the NFL’s referee situation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.