Greater Media Gives Up on Talk in Boston. It can’t be said Greater Media didn’t give WTKK, Boston a chance to thrive. Following a 13-year history of news/talk programming, the station flipped to a rhythmic CHR format at 10:00 am this morning after morning duo Jim Braude and Margery Eagan took to the air say good bye to their audience. The flip had been rumored for some time and, given the station’s less-than-stellar ratings combined with the expense of programming a news/talk format, it was not shocking the company is opting for a music format on the 96.9 FM signal. It’s not clear (since management has made no comment about revenue) how much the “controversial programming” stigma that many talk broadcasters admit can hamper their sales efforts was part of the company’s decision to drop the format. Industry watchers have been quoted in the Boston media charging the station didn’t achieve stationality with its politically incongruous lineup. However, crosstown competitor WRKO is programmed conservatively across the board and its ratings over recent years have been in pretty much the same ballpark as WTKK’s; so trying to find one reason for the station’s demise is probably unrealistic. WRKO afternoon drive host Howie Carr – wooed by WTKK several years ago but retained by Entercom in a highly publicized court battle – writes in his recent Boston Herald column that the programming was the station’s downfall. Read his column here.
Listener Interaction Key in CBS Radio’s New Sports Talk Venture. The new sports talk radio network that’s been in the works for more than six months takes off today and TALKERS magazine managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian reports the CBS Radio/Cumulus Media Networks joint venture is based strongly on CBS’ 25 years of sports talk radio experience. CBS Radio SVP Chris Oliviero tells TALKERS the listener interaction is of paramount importance, “It might be in the traditional way of people picking up a phone, or through social media. If you listen to some other sports radio networks, it is a great deal of one-way conversations, but we are going to be doing two-way conversations so listeners will be able to talk back. Yes, we will have interviews and yes, we will have monologs, but that is not all it will be.” As 2013 kicks off, sports talk radio is front-and-center. Read part one of Mike Kinosian’s three-part series on sports talk here.
Dave Ramsey Renews with WOR, New York. The changes at Clear Channel’s WOR, New York before Christmas had many wondering what the status of some of its programming would be once the new year began. One question is answered as Dave Ramsey’s nationally syndicated program will continue on the heritage signal. Ramsey’s organization announces it has renewed its deal with WOR and the Dave Ramsey program will continue to air in the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot. Ramsey states, “We’re excited to continue being a part of the WOR team. We have a great relationship with WOR and their listeners.”
Buzz Bissinger Exits WPHT, Philadelphia. Philadelphia Magazine reports Buzz Bissinger has left his afternoon drive talk program at CBS Radio’s WPHT, Philadelphia. The Friday Night Lights author and Pulitzer Prize-winning author tells PhillyMag’s Victor Fiorillo he left before the holidays because he missed his writing career and found managing two careers was becoming impossible. He also said, “While I enjoyed doing talk radio, I had increasingly come to the conclusion that it is fundamentally trivial.” The end of Bissinger’s six-month talk radio career is said to have been amicable but reports from CBS Philadelphia indicate his penchant for profanity required extra caution and staffing in the control room. It also reared its head off the air as Fiorillo’s report states Bissinger was charged with “creating a hostile work environment” on at least one occasion. It’s not clear what CBS Philadelphia’s plans for the PM drive slot are but Steve Martorano and Rich Zeoli have been hosting the program since Bissinger’s departure.
KFTK, St. Louis Talk Host Dana Loesch Sues Breitbart.com in Contract Dispute. Talk host and blogger Dana Loesch – whose programs air on Emmis Communications’ KFTK, St. Louis and WIBC, Indianapolis – is suing Breitbart.com in a contract dispute that Loesch claims is keeping her with Breitbart, though her work is not being used by the site. Loesch, stating publicly that her relationship with Breitbart has gone “tragically awry,” contends she tried to end the relationship in September but Breitbart instead extended her contract by a year and refuses to publish any of her work. She is seeking $75,000 in damages and her freedom. The complaint notes that the working relationship between Loesch and Breitbart had become strained over time, forcing her to try to end the deal.
Journal Broadcast Group’s $6 Million Deal for WNOX, Knoxville Contested. The purchase of Oak Ridge FM’s news/talk WNOX, Knoxville by Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast Group announced before the holidays is being contested by Clinton, Tennessee-based M & M Broadcasting. M & M claims it had an agreement to buy the station from Oak Ridge before Journal stepped in. M & M owner Ron Meredith tells Knoxvillebiz.com that he went so far as to order letterhead other business tools in anticipation of owning the station.
Your NEWS Year’s Resolution. Getting the point of a news story across to listeners in a “relevant and plainspoken” way is the key to making your newscasts memorable and habit forming, according to radio consultant Holland Cooke. His advice? “Apply the ‘who cares?’ test to every story. Just because it’s on the wire or in the paper doesn’t mean a story has to play on your air.” And remember, Cooke warns, wire services are controlled by newspapers and tend to be written in past tense. “Advance stories as much as possible. Put the very latest aspect, or some interesting wrinkle, right up top; rather than telling the story chronologically.” Read more of Holland Cooke’s suggestions here.
KFI, Los Angeles Talk Host Bill Carroll to Host PM Drive Show for CFMJ, Toronto. Canadian talk show personality Bill Carroll has been hosting the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program on Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles for the past three years. Beginning January 7, Carroll will add another three-hour program to his duties as he’ll hold down the afternoon drive slot on Corus Radio’s CFMJ, Toronto from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Carroll and his family will remain in Los Angeles.
Veteran Traffic Reporter/Broadcaster Jeff McKay Joins Radiate Media – Will Provide Morning Reports to Cumulus Big Apple Outlets Talk WABC and Hot AC WPLJ. Former Merlin Media traffic reporter and WEMP, New York APD Jeff McKay - famous among New York commuters for the “McKay Way” joins Radiate Media as the morning reporter for Cumulus outlets WABC and WPLJ. McKay, who also serves as a special features correspondent for TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo says, “I’m thrilled joining Radiate Media for the honor of bringing traffic to the legendary Scott & Todd Morning Show on WPLJ-FM, and the legendary Don Imus Show on WABC-AM! I will be working from a custom traffic center built in my home, which only makes the deal even sweeter. Looking forward to what I hope is a long and beneficial partnership with great folks at Radiate Media and Cumulus Radio.”
WOWO, Fort Wayne Names Kayla Blakeslee News Director. Federated Media promotes Kayla Blakeslee to news director for heritage news/talk WOWO, Fort Wayne. Blakeslee has been with the company since July of 2011 in various capacities. She says of her new post, “I’m honored to work with such a legendary station and team. Fort Wayne is a great town and I’m looking forward to serving my community in this new role. I’m also looking forward to being around for a while and building new relationships with community newsmakers.” Program director Ryan Reker states, “Kayla has emerged as an afternoon leader by generating stories, anchoring newscasts and managing traffic for our television partners at ‘21 Alive.’” Her dedication to the station and community — and as a respected member of the Fort Wayne community – has already created a solid working foundation on which to build.”
Talk Host Robbie Student Describes the Day the Ax Came Down at WOR. He is considered by industry observers and programmers in the Big Apple as a unique up-and-coming talk show host whose iconoclastic “street-savvy” work has already been heard on such outlets as WNYM (“The Answer”) and most recently the innovative WOR alternative online channel. Robbie Student, a member of TALKERS magazine’s Frontier Fifty, enjoyed one of the largest talk radio audiences on the internet and is clearly a rising star in the genre. In his other life, he is well-known in music industry circles as a record producer currently riding a streak of nine number one dance songs in a row. In an exclusive TALKERS commentary, Student captures the scene and mood at WOR on the afternoon of December 20, 2012 – which he describes as “the day the major overhaul at WOR began in earnest.” Student writes, “I walked into the station at 4:30 pm. I was there to prep for my M-F 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm internet stream show. The show’s existence was an anomaly, as the rule of thumb is to carry the entirety of one’s terrestrial programming on one’s primary stream. I was grateful for the anomaly. I was greeted by a cacophony of sights, sounds, and most importantly, feelings that were close to overwhelming.” To read Robbie Student’s complete article, click here.
Odds & Sods. Cumulus Media’s WFAS, Westchester, New York goes news/talk full time after spending most of last year airing a hybrid of talk and AC music. The station features local talk in the morning, Cumulus Media Networks’ Geraldo and John Batchelor, plus Debbie Nigro in middays and Lisa Wexler in afternoon drive…..WQAM, Miami late-morning sports talk host Dan Sileo had been doing some fill-in work at Entercom’s WEEI, Boston during the holidays. Rumors are that Sileo may be picking up some regular fill-in and/or weekend work on WEEI.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Debate, House Skips Sandy Aid Bill, Hillary Clinton Health Status, College Bowl Games, and NFL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/1). The debate over legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff”; the bypassing of action on a bill for aid to Hurricane Sandy victims; the health status of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; the weekend’s college bowl games; and the matchups in the NFL’s playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.