New Media Seminar Draws 275 in Los Angeles. It was a packed house sold out two weeks in advance as some 275 talk media broadcasters from across the country, with a distinct emphasis on the Western states, rocked the old Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood yesterday. Approximately 50 speakers — including the likes of Robin Bertolucci, Phil Boyce, Kevin Casey, Holland Cooke, Jerry Doyle, Skip Essick, Ian Freeman, Bill Handel, Heidi Harris, Michael Harrison, Ron Hartenbaum, Sam Hasson, Michael Horn, Rusty Humphries, Karel, Mike Kinosian, Kraig Kitchin, Lars Larson, Kevin Larue, Garret Lewis, Tom Leykis, Andy Ludlum, Carole Marks, Don Martin, Mike McVay, Stephanie Miller, Bob Moore, Bill Moran, Patt Morrison, Harvey Nagler, Norm Pattiz, Ken Rutkowski, Walter Sabo, Brent Seltzer, Dave Sniff, Eric Stanger, Doug Stephan, Shadoe Stevens, Alan Stock, Chuck Tyler, Jeff Wasserman, Eric Weiss, and Michael Zwerling – tackled a variety of hot industry topics including the economic, technological and cultural challenges facing talk radio broadcasters in 2012. This full day event was part two of TALKERS magazine’s new 2012 format in which the New Media Seminar was broken into East and West coast segments. The first was a sellout event held in New York on June 7.
“Those who do not adapt will be swallowed up.” That was the admonishment of Courtside Entertainment CEO Norm Pattiz in his Thursday morning keynote. Consistently sounding a no-nonsense tone, Pattiz assured attendees that this is a very serious time. Along those lines, Pattiz even mentioned that his comments that kicked off the enthusiastically well-received event would not be going for laughs. Touching on a variety of bullet points, the former Westwood One honcho commented that, despite the fact audience size is unchanged, there is dwindling support for conservative talk radio from national advertisers. “There were no 400-pound gorillas,” when Pattiz began in the radio syndication business. Missing good old-fashioned radio wars, he noted that people “banged heads in a good-natured way.” Importance of the product was heavily stressed by Pattiz, who emphasized that he “did not get in the business because of money – I’m a content guy.” The idea of giving anything away for nothing “is ridiculous,” he remarked. Despite cautioning the audience that his keynote would be straightforward, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ #1 fan could not resist lightening the mood on several occasions when, including when he stated, “You should not sleep well knowing that I am the chairman of Lawrence Livermore National Security.”
A star-studded panel looked at the big picture of spoken-word radio, with CBS Radio News vice president Harvey Nagler stating, “We are not in the radio business – we are in the content business.” Content, however, must be memorable and compelling. Provided that personalities “do not break their promises to listeners,” it is the opinion of Sound Mind CEO Kraig Kitchin that they will “continue to sell their books.” Demos are not what Phil Boyce seeks. “I chase ears,” commented Salem Communications‘ vice president/director, spoken word formats, who added, “People on the left want to kill talk radio.” One of the key buzzwords, according to Fox Sports Radio vice president/programming Don Martin, is “bundle.” The operations manager of Los Angeles’ KLAC commented that, from a branding standpoint, it is much wiser to use handles such as “Fox Sports Radio – LA,” or “ESPN Radio 710,” rather than, “The Zone,” or “The Ticket.”
The New Normal president/host Tom Leykis was among the “Modern Day Pioneer” panelists. The popular talk host isn’t a fan of having television cameras in a radio studio. The concept of viewing a radio show on television, is – in Leykis’ estimation” very similar to “watching socks dry.” Esteemed programmer and “Mental Radio” host Shadoe Stevens added, “It takes away the theater of the mind.” Virtually everyone thought Mike Horn “was crazy” when the chief executive officer of CRN Digital Talk set forth the concept of providing audio channels to cable TV providers. Next year, his company will celebrate its 30th birthday. “You must have great programming and a way to promote it,” Horn remarked.
Look for extensive coverage of this historic radio gathering in the coming days and weeks in TALKERS and RadioInfo including video coverage and bonus interviews.
Competition in the Network Sports Talk Field Breeding War of Words. A story in the New York Post illustrates the intense competition the arrival of two new major players (CBS Sports Radio Network and NBC Sports Radio) in the sports talk radio network business is having. Reporting what the industry has known for some time – that the Cumulus distribution partnership with the new CBS Sports Radio Network will mean 47 new affiliates for CBS and would mean some affiliation cancellations for ESPN Radio – the two sides engaged in a little competitive posturing in the Post story. Saying it will have about 100 affiliate stations when it debuts in January and positioning itself as the “most-listened-to sports radio network in the top 50 markets,” CBS is playing up its assets – namely O&Os in major and large markets. CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason tells the Post, “ESPN affiliates are in small markets. Maybe you find that adds up to a lot of audience. Don’t forget that CBS Radio owns most of the top 10 sports stations in the US, and with Cumulus that’s formidable. ESPN has had the market much to themselves, we’re the new entry and we think we put together formidable talent.” ESPN Radio SVP of production and business Traug Keller responds, “This has no material effect on us. There’s only three or four [Cumulus] stations in the top 50.” He also tells the paper ESPN is already finding new affiliates in markets where current agreements are being terminated, including Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama.
Barclays Capital Analyst Downgrades U.S. Advertising Growth Forecast. The ad industry as a whole will not grow as much over the next year and a half as previously predicted states Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente. In a report issued yesterday, DiClemente stated he believes ad growth across all sectors will be just 4% this year compared to his original prediction of 4.6%. For 2013, DiClemente says he believes ad revenue will rise just 1.9% compared to his previous 2.3% forecast. He did not specifically report on projections for radio. He did, however, give a positive outlook for News Corp. performance.
WSCR, Chicago’s Jason Goff to Take Night Host Position at CBS Radio’s Atlanta FM Sports Talker. Rounding out the lineup of CBS Radio’s WZGC, Atlanta “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game” is Jason Goff, who will become the host of the evening show when the station debuts on October 24. The lineup for the new sports talker was announced earlier this week with the exception of the evening slot. Now, “The Score” fill-in host, writer, producer and reporter will move south for his own nightly talk show. Goff has been with WSCR for the past 12 years and program director Mitch Rosen is obviously thrilled for Goff telling Chicago Radio and Media, “What a great story Jason Goff is. From a caller in high school to an intern to a full-time producer/fill-in host, and now to a top market like Atlanta to be a full-time host! This is a Hollywood story in progress, Jason will excel and I could not be more proud.”
Looking Into the Digital Crystal Ball. Saga Communications made the news this past Wednesday when they anointed their program directors as “brand managers.” Saga’s EVP Steve Goldstein, issued a memo that you read here in TALKERS. It read, in part, “We’ve been thinking about how successful programmers are morphing their skills to become proficient at not just managing the on-air product, but the overall brand. And conversely, it has exposed the vulnerability of program directors who are not learning and growing as we become more digital.” In today’s TALKERS, leading digital radio consultant Chris Miller writes about what this move actually will mean to the managers involved. Looking into his digital crystal ball he predicts that before too long, brand managers will be judged on how much time people are spending with their entire brand. Not just their broadcasts, but all the platforms that they manage. He says that we will move into the era of the “new ratings” in which every click is trackable – no estimates – and stations will own the data without having to buy it from a third party (uh, oh Arbitron). He also points out that this new era will open the door to new competition and an increased concentration on niches. Fasten your seat belts because this is one fast ride! To read Chris Miller’s entire piece, click here.
Doug Hess Exits WLTP, Parkersburg, West Virginia. News director and morning drive co-host Doug Hess is leaving Clear Channel’s news/talk WLTP, Parkersburg, West Virginia after 21 years doing local news in the market. According to the News-Sentinel, Hess will take a position as communications and outreach coordinator with The ARC of the Mid-Ohio Valley. Hess tells the paper he’ll miss the news business he’s been a part of for so many years. “People depend on you to get this information out to them in a timely manner. It is an important job and it has been a privilege to do it.”
Beasley Broadcasting Adds FM Signals to Southwest Florida’s 770 ESPN Radio. WWCN, Ft. Myers gets some FM signal boost to help it cover Lee and Collier counties. Beasley Broadcasting announces the ESPN Radio affiliate can now be heard on 98.1 FM in South Ft. Myers and Estero; 101.5 FM in Bonita Springs and North Naples; and 105.1 FM in Naples and Marco Island. VP/market manager Brad Beasley states, “This is a big deal for Southwest Florida sports enthusiasts. For the past 12 years, the only way to hear sports in our community has been on the AM dial. Now our loyal listeners can also follow their favorite teams and events at multiple locations on the FM dial…and that’s awesome!”
Vice Presidential Debate Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 8-12. The anticipation of the vice presidential candidate’s debate and the post-debate discussion was the top news/talk story of the week landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 was the questioning of the facts presented by the Obama administration about the attack in Banghazi. At #3 was the presidential race poll numbers followed by the aftermath of the first presidential debate at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.