Information Coming out on Rush/Hannity/Cumulus Negotiations. In a flurry of stories and leaks making their way to the press in the past 24 hours through such diverse sources as Mediaite, Inside Music Media, TALKERS , and the Michael Savage radio show — the fog is beginning to lift on what’s happening in the highly publicized (yet hitherto murky) negotiations taking place between the camps of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Cumulus Media and Clear Channel Media & Entertainment regarding whether the two star talk radio talents will be staying with Cumulus or leaving when their current contracts as syndicated hosts on their stations expire before the end of the year. Here’s what we know for sure: sources close to Sean Hannity have confirmed with TALKERS that the story published today by Jerry del Colliano‘s Inside Music Media is “entirely true.” The story basically states that Hannity has told Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey, “YOU’RE fired!” (figuratively) and has unequivocally turned down re-signing with Cumulus, opting to go with his syndicator Clear Channel and move on over to the stations they own in markets where he will undoubtedly be dropped by Cumulus such as in New York where he would move from Cumulus’ WABC to Clear Channel’s WOR. Inside and highly reliable sources preferring to remain anonymous indicate to TALKERS that Limbaugh and Hannity are split on this issue with Limbaugh leaning toward staying with Cumulus at this point in the discussions so as to avoid making changes. Adding to the intrigue, last night on his Cumulus radio show, talk host Michael Savage told his listeners that it is most likely going to play out as follows – Hannity will be leaving Cumulus and he (Savage) will be taking over his vacated afternoon show on its stations. Players close to both Hannity and Limbaugh involved in this complicated scenario claim that Savage was put up to this by the Dickey Brothers (Lew and John) themselves as part of an alleged ongoing strategy to devalue the worth of the two hosts (as well as the entire news/talk radio format) in the eyes of the public as well as the advertising community. The point of contention here is that Cumulus has been leaking and overstating claims of Hannity’s so-called ratings decreases and that the company has also overstated the damage caused by the Sandra Fluke incident in terms of how it applies to their larger financial challenges pinning far more of the blame on Limbaugh than is deserved. According to del Colliano, Hannity is fed up with the Dickey Brothers and the alleged bullying culture of Cumulus Media saying privately, “The Dickey Brothers are the single worst operators in the history of radio.” TALKERS has reached out to Cumulus COO John Dickey for comment to which he responds, “Anonymous sources are just that. Reveal the source and I’ll be happy to comment. Stories that are based on anonymous sources are just that… stories.”
Alan Colmes Signs on as Charter Member of TalkersRadio Lineup. Fox News Radio syndicated star and Fox News Channel contributor Alan Colmes is joining the initial lineup of the soon-to-be-launched experimental internet talk station, TalkersRadio. The high profile personality (#16 on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred 2013) will be producing a special monthly one-hour program titled “Healed Planet with Alan Colmes” that will stream live on Sunday evenings at 9:00 pm ET and then be re-streamed at different hours several times during the month. Whereas Colmes is well-known as a liberal pundit and talk show host via his work with Fox – which includes a decade long run as the counterpoint to Sean Hannity on the groundbreaking FNC series “Hannity & Colmes” – “Healed Planet with Alan Colmes” will be a far less political vehicle for the industry veteran who plans to use it as a platform to explore his deep interests in topics that range from the leading edge of physics and metaphysics to the outer fringes of popular culture. The show will include a wide variety of guests from the fields of science, philosophy, technology and alternative medicine and lifestyles. Colmes will take listener calls and present his views and findings on everything from the environmental movement to quantum mechanics. He will continue his work with Fox which will remain completely separate from this new endeavor. In making the announcement, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “I am deeply excited and gratified that a broadcaster of the stature of Alan Colmes will be utilizing TalkersRadio as an ‘experimental laboratory’ to develop this new show – something that I know he has always wanted to do ‘someday’ in addition to or beyond his very well-established career in political news/talk media. Those of us who know Alan personally or remember him from his WABC, WNBC, WMCA and WEVD days have long realized that he is a brilliant, funny, and original thinker in the tradition of the legendary talk radio generalists. It is wonderful that he will be able to tap into this side of his personality on TalkersRadio. This is a perfect example of why we are building this cool station.” TalkersRadio general manager David Bernstein adds, “When I first heard that Alan Colmes will be participating in this project with a compelling program of this nature I emphatically said YES! That’s what this vehicle is designed to do! Those of us who’ve been part of the New York broadcasting scene for these past couple of decades and know the behind-the-scenes Alan Colmes realize what a diverse set of interests and knowledge guides this really fine guy.” Colmes tells TALKERS, “I am excited for the opportunity to create the kind of show that does not yet exist on commercial radio. I’m grateful that Fox News Radio, which daily gives me a forum to share my passion for news and current events, permits me to explore and possibly break new ground on a platform as prominent as talkers.com.” “Healed Planet with Alan Colmes” will debut on Sunday, September 15. For more information about TalkersRadio call 413-565-5413 or email GM David Bernstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
White Shadow’s Howard a Slam Dunk as SAG-AFTRA President. It has been 32 years practically to the day (August 12, 1981) since CBS-TV‘s “White Shadow” had its final broadcast but its star, Ken Howard, is destined to be forever remembered as basketball coach Ken Reeves of Los Angeles’ fictional Carver High. Last night (8/15), in the first national election since Hollywood’s two largest labor unions merged last year, Howard was elected SAG-AFTRA president with over 16,000 votes compared to runner-up Esai Morales‘ approximately 9,800. Ballots were mailed to 139,967 eligible voters and the return rate was roughly 21%. “I look forward to joining the delegates who will assemble in Los Angeles for the first SAG-AFTRA convention in late-September, and then moving forward with the new leadership team to do the important work that members have entrusted to us,” Howard states. Howard (SAG) and Roberta Reardon (AFTRA) have been serving as co-presidents since March of last year, when members approved the merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Howard was elected in 2009 as SAG’s 25th and final president. He was a strong advocate for the merger, while Morales campaigned strongly against it for years. Owing to the 86% approval vote on the merger, Howard (Hank Hooper on “30 Rock”) was a heavy favorite going into the vote.
Five Finalists Remain in WFAN’s “Fantasy Phenom 4 Challenge.” Opportunity to host a once-a-week air shift on CBS Radio sports outlet WFAN, New York for one year is the unique grand prize up for grabs, as well as a two-year lease of a 2013 Hyundai Sonata. The finale is one week from today (Friday, 8/23) and will be part of Mike Francesa‘s “Mike’s On” program (1:00 pm – 6:30 pm), which the YES Network simulcasts. Finalists were chosen from hundreds of fans and listeners who showed up at auditions at three New York-New Jersey locations. Listener voting and a panel of judges will determine the winner. The Smithereens will provide live music throughout next Friday’s “Fantasy Phenom Challenge.”
“Keepin’ it Real” Picks Up NYC Live-Clear. YMF Media, New York’s WLIB “Your Praise and Inspiration Station” is now carrying Reverend Al Sharpton‘s weekday REACH Media “Keepin’ it Real” program live from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. WLIB operations manager Skip Dillard comments, “Reverend Al’s show is a perfect fit for WLIB, a station with a history of both inspiration and information. We are super-excited to now have him at work with WLIB listeners each weekday.” In referencing WWRL – the show’s previous New York City affiliate – REACH Media senior vice president of programming Gary Bernstein states, “We appreciated WWRL’s tremendous support, but the opportunity to have WLIB air the show live in the biggest radio market in the country was the motivation for us to make the switch.”
Rhode Island Talker Expanding His Mind to Television. Starting (Monday) September 9, Cumulus Media-owned WPRO-AM & WEAN-FM, Providence noon – 3:00 pm talk show personality Dan Yorke will host “Dan Yorke State of Mind” on Fox, Providence’s WNAC-TV “myRITV” (Channel 12). “I am joining the best company in local television,” Yorke states. “Our goal is to provide entertaining, compelling and important programming that will create appointment viewing and profit for advertising partners.” According to “myRITV” president/general manager Patrick Wholey, “Dan’s new show will be a lively forum designed to energize, engage and inform viewers. Dan will be tackling the local issues and current affairs that really resonate with viewers. The show will also give viewers a place to have their voices heard on the local hot button issues.” Yorke’s “myRITV” program will air weeknights at 7:30 pm.
Tribune, Feder Form Blogging Partnership. Many within the radio industry – regardless if they do not have any connections whatsoever to Chicago – are extremely familiar with the name Robert Feder, quite simply one of America’s leading and most respected media columnists. A genuine rarity in the consumer press, Feder completely grasps radio and has consistently broken Chicagoland radio stories. Starting next month, he will write a standalone media blog through an arrangement with – of all places – The Chicago Tribune. For nearly 30 years, Feder’s columns appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times. Editorially independent RobertFeder.com will be owned by Feder and as Chicago Tribune senior vice president of digital development and operations Bill Adee tells Tribune reporter Robert Channick, “We will have our advertising on there, but editorially speaking, Rob will do whatever he wants. There is no expectation that his work would have to appear in the newspaper. We love media in Chicago – that is why I think something like this works.” Feder announced the news about his latest project last night on his Facebook page.
Shining Star in Second Quarter Radio Revenue Numbers: Digital. While Q2 spot and off-air revenue totals are even from a year ago, digital shows a 16% improvement. Radio’s second quarter 2013 revenue registered “no change” from 2012 at $4.66 billion. Comparing first-half results, radio remains flat for the first six months versus the same period last year ($8.44 billion), however, digital did more than its part by posting a 13% gain. Network was down 4% for both periods. Radio Advertising Bureau president/chief executive officer Erica Farber acknowledges, “First-half activity yielded a mixed-bag. While the second quarter was flat, activity was gaining as the months progressed, an encouraging sign for growth in the latter half of 2013.” Further analyzing the year’s result, Farber sees, “a clear commitment to advertising on the part of the most successful companies within their respective categories. Not only does this affirm the impact of maintaining an advertising presence through all economic climates, it underscores the fact that these marketers know the intrinsic value that radio brings to their brands,” she comments. Communications/Cellular increased spot spending by 27% compared to second quarter 2012, maintaining its hold on the top rank for the quarter and year. Keep in mind that spot radio, digital and off-air revenues are based on more than 100 markets reported by Miller Kaplan Arase LLP and extrapolated to the entire country. Digital revenue is comprised from activity generated by websites, internet/web streaming and HD Radio including HD2 and HD3 facilities. Network revenue includes seven major radio network companies.
Please Welcome Your Debate Moderator … Rush Limbaugh? The Republican National Committee is considering how to limit the number of debates heading into the 2016 presidential campaign. It is threatening to ban CNN and NBC for hosting debates because of their networks’ plan to run a Hillary Clinton-focused miniseries. According to a Paul Bedard-written Washington Examiner piece, the RNC has floated the idea of having right-wing talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin as potential 2016 moderators. Arbiters in recent televised presidential debates have included Keith Olbermann (then with MSNBC) and current MSNBC host Chris Matthews. Even so, of the Limbaugh-Hannity-Levin notion, media critic/Fox News contributor Howard Kurtz simply tweeted, “Hard to imagine,” while President Obama‘s 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe jokingly asked if such a GOP “strategy” would “ensure 400 electoral votes” for the Democrats. NBC political reporter Mike O’Brien is more direct by noting, “If Republicans believe Limbaugh/Hannity/Levin are the best moderators to vet candidates for the general, they deserve their eventual nominee.” In his Politico “On Media” column, Dylan Byers writes, “A Limbaugh-, Hannity- or Levin-moderated debate would likely be a disaster.” Byers opines that, “It would pull the candidates far to the right, which is exactly the sort of thing the establishment wants to avoid. Though Republican re-branders do not want to ostracize right-wing talk radio hosts – at the end of the day, they still need their listeners – they certainly don’t want to align themselves with them. Republican hopefuls could win points among the base by arguing with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, but they would win no points by arguing with the kings of talk radio.”
WGN’s “Cup” Special Airs Tonight. Even though it has been nearly two months since the winning goal was scored (6/24), Chicago Blackhawks fans are still savoring their team’s Stanley Cup Final victory over the Boston Bruins. To celebrate the Blackhawks’ championship-winning season, its flagship – Tribune talk WGN, Chicago – will air a two-hour Dave Eanet-hosted retrospective tonight (8/16, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm). “Lucky 13: The Return of the Cup” includes season-long highlights that will extend all the way to the sixth and final game of the Stanley Cup Final. In dramatic fashion, Bryan Bickell tied that game at 2-2 with 75 seconds left. Then, in even more stunning fashion, David Bolland‘s goal just 17 seconds later clinched the game, series, and Cup. The WGN special will include play-by-play calls from Blackhawks radio broadcasters John Wiedeman and Troy Murray; interviews from players and head coach Joel Quenneville; and fan reactions. A full podcast will be available on WGN’s website immediately following the broadcast.
Daily Big Ten Football Show Launches August 26. Indicative of the times, the program “#BTNLive” – has a hashtag preceding its title. Fox Sports Radio and Big Ten Network (BTN) will debut the weekday 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm ET offering, which covers the latest in Big Ten football, starting one week from next Monday (8/26). It will air on Big Ten Network and simulcast on more than 25 affiliates in the Big Ten Conference region including: WDFN, Detroit; KFXN, Minneapolis; WYTS, Columbus; and WOKY, Milwaukee. BTN personalities Dave Revsine, Mike Hall, and Rick Pizzo will host the show. Gerry DiNardo, Howard Griffith, Glen Mason, Jon Jansen, Chuck Long, and Stanley Jackson provide analysis. BTN is a joint venture between the Big Ten Conference and Fox Networks.
CBS Radio, Tampa To Air Pier Dispute. The future of the St. Petersburg (Florida) Pier will be debated this coming Sunday (8/18) on “The Current,” CBS Radio, Tampa’s weekend public affairs program. It will be the only such public forum between opponents and supporters of the proposed Lens pier design before St. Petersburg municipal voters go to the polls later this month (8/27). Scheduled to make their respective cases are Bud Risser and Bill Ballard who represent “Stop The Lens,” and Lisa Wannemacher and city councilmember Jeff Danner – supporters of “Build The Pier.” Sports WHFS-AM; sports WHFS-FM; rhythmic CHR WLLD; classic hits WRBQ; country WQYK; smooth AC WHFS HD2; and WQYK HD2 air “The Current” Sundays at various early morning and late night times.
EAB Acquires Six Arkansas Stations. Bobby Caldwell’s Russellville, Arkansas-based East Arkansas Broadcasters picks up a half-dozen Max Media properties for an undisclosed sum. This particular Bobby Caldwell is not to be confused with the singer-songwriter (“What You Won’t Do For Love”) of the same name. Included in the deal are country KCJC and talk KCAB, Dardanelle; adult contemporary KWKK, Russellville; classic rock KVLD, Atkins; and sports KVOM-AM and country KVOM-FM, Morrilton. Kalil & Company represented Max Media and Sunbelt Media represented EAB.
Bloomberg’s Second Annual Sports Business Summit To Be Held Next Month. More precisely, the Bloomberg event will be 8:00 am – 4:30 pm on (Tuesday) September 10 at New York City’s Paley Center for Media. This particular confab brings together major sports commissioners, team owners, players and bankers who drive the business of sports. Confirmed speakers include: ESPN Incorporated president/Disney Media Networks co-chair John Skipper; Fox Sports Media Group chief operating officer/president Randy Freer; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman; incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver; MLS commissioner Don Garber; Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president/CEO Tim Leiweke; Boston Celtics co-owner/managing general partner Stephen Pagliuca; and NBA player Carmelo Anthony. Broadcast rights, league strategy, politics behind bidding for a team, and how Wall Street strategy is changing the business of sports are among topics to be covered.
Egyptian Violence Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of August 12 – August 16. The “Violence in Egypt” and its implications to America and the World was the top news/talk topic during the week. Following at #2 was “Mideast Uncertainty.” At #3, “Wall Street Jitters” tied with “ObamaCare Implementation and Costs.” The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.