Instant Case Study: Power of Local Talk Radio. Earlier this week, one of talk radio’s most rapidly rising young stars impressively underscored how local hosts can dramatically, effectively flex their muscles and gain community goodwill. Cogently serving as a mediator, KSCO, Santa Cruz (California) afternoon drive talent Ethan Bearman accomplished what no attorneys or court could do in four years of active litigation. Here is the back-story. In a lawsuit filed in 2009, the Community Alliance for Fairgrounds Accountability (CAFA) alleged noise caused by dirt track racing at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds’ Ocean Speedway was disruptive to neighbors. There has been what Bearman labels “heated rhetoric and acrimony” from both sides of the dispute. Last Thursday, he decided to engage each principal, with racetrack promoter John Prentice agreeing to come in-studio this past Monday (10/21). Meanwhile though, the CAFA attorney never returned Bearman’s call. After Monday’s broadcast though, spokesperson and national owner of West Marine, Randy Repass, sought to share his side. “I invited him on-air [yesterday, 10/22] and John Prentice called in to counter Mr. Repass,” Bearman recounts. “I proceeded to walk through the issues with both sides in a calming manner.” The result was a perfect-case local talk radio scenario: Bearman achieved a verbal agreement between Prentice and Repass for a framework agreement on solving the matter. Click here to listen.
Layoffs Reported At Sinclair Stations. According to a report in TVSpy, Sinclair Broadcast Group has issued layoffs at its newly-acquired stations in Seattle and Portland. Relying on a source inside Seattle ABC-TV affiliate KOMO, TVSpy notes there have been 10 layoffs in that station’s newsroom and close to 20 across all Sinclair’s Seattle properties. Those affected include satellite truck operators, editors, producers, and radio reporters and editors. The source describes the mood at KOMO as sad and nervous, noting that the newsroom is a “very tight-knit group” that has been through a lot. Staffers are said to be helping laid-off employees find new jobs. It was announced on April 11 of this year that Fisher would sell its Seattle radio properties – news KOMO-AM, talk KVI, and hot AC KPLZ – to Sinclair; the deal was completed on August 8.
Longtime KYW Manager Roy Shapiro Passes. Former 20-year vice president/general manager of all-news KYW, Philadelphia Roy Shapiro, 76, has died. CBS Radio president/chief executive officer Dan Mason comments that, “Roy was the backbone of KYW Radio for so many years and continued to make valuable contributions to CBS Radio through his wealth of knowledge in audience measurement research. All of us at CBS Radio will miss him – not only as our colleague but as our loyal friend.” CBS Radio executive vice president of operations Scott Herman remarks, “Roy was an incredible person and one of the brightest, smartest minds the broadcasting industry has ever seen. His legacy will live on through those of us lucky enough to be mentored by him and those of us blessed to be able to call him a friend.” According to senior vice president/Philadelphia market manager Marc Rayfield, “Roy was not only a great boss, he was a father figure to many of us. He made everyone around him a better broadcaster and a better person. His presence in our daily lives will be sorely missed, but his spirit will live on forever.” Shapiro joined Group W/Westinghouse Broadcasting in 1962. He would serve in many capacities at the company, including vice president/general manager of Group W Radio Sales and vice president of Strategic Planning and Research. Shapiro retired as KYW’s General Manager in 2003, but he continued to consult for CBS Radio up to the time of his death.
It is Washington to Washington For Mathes. American University-owned noncommercial WAMU, Washington, DC general manager Caryn Mathes has accepted a similar assignment at University of Washington noncommercial KUOW, Seattle. She will commence her new duties on January 2, 2014. University of Washington associate vice president of Media Relations and Communications Norm Arkans comments, “Caryn has had great success wherever she has been. She brings a fresh perspective and genuine passion for the role of public media in our society.” Mathes previously was general manager of Wayne State University noncommercial outlet WDET, Detroit. “I am driven by and thrive on building public media organizations,” she remarks. “The future of civil society depends on the foundation of a well-informed population capable of nuanced thought. KUOW is poised to be a leader in public media’s next chapters on audience, content, and technology. I know we will do great things in this regard.” WAMU senior director of business operations Cary Needham is tapped to be that station’s interim GM until a successor for Mathes is found.
KYW Presents a Ten-Piece Laptop Computer Lab. The Tacony Center of the Police Athletic League (PAL) is the recipient of the joint venture between CBS Radio all-news KYW, Philadelphia and Comcast. The computer lab was presented to a group of children and supervisors of Tacony PAL this past Monday (10/21) evening. “It is gratifying to assist organizations like PAL who help make a difference in the community and the lives of local children,” comments CBS Radio, Philadelphia senior vice president/market manger Marc Rayfield. Approximately 30% of Americans do not have home internet access. Comcast vice president of Government Affairs Kathleen Sullivan states, “By leveling the playing field and giving low income kids the same tools as their peers, they will be able to compete in a 21st century technologically savvy environment. We launched “Internet Essentials” to make it possible for kids to have the internet available at home and purchase computer equipment at an affordable rate.” This marks the 14th year that KYW and Comcast have joined forces to bring computers to Delaware Valley individuals, schools, and community centers.
Sports/Talk Expanding Commercial Envelope as Traditional Norms Fade Away. Of all the subsets of talk radio, sports/talk appears to be the most innovative and pioneering when it comes to finding new and appropriate sales opportunities. There are lessons in this for all of radio to follow. Some of the arenas now considered “normal” are sales categories that were considered forbidden or at least in questionable taste just a few short years ago — such as “gentlemen’s clubs” (strip joints), hard liquor and gun shops. Language itself is changing with a far looser tolerance of specific words finding their way into the glossary of acceptable terms. Also, standard scheduling practices are changing such as the clustering of spots in which stations are not as meticulous as they once were in separating competitors within any given category (automotive ads being a prime example). In a new column posted today (10/23), TALKERS sales maven, H&H Communications CEO/president Al Herskovitz discusses these changes along with what new opportunities and challenges they bring to radio of all formats. To read it please click here.
KFQD Scores Six Alaska Broadcaster’s Association Awards. The Morris Communications-owned Anchorage talk outlet was honored by the ABA for “Best Radio Show” for afternoon talk personality Dave Stieren; “Best News Program” for morning drive “Newsday AM”; and “Best News Coverage” for reporter Kathy Phillips’ live updates on a local fire. In addition, the station was cited for producer Toben Shelby‘s “Best Station Imaging”; Alaska Aces hockey voice Josh Bogorod for “Best Sports Play-by-Play”; and Steve Stripling and Mike Ford for “Most Uniquely Alaskan Program” for “The Big Alaska Show.” Anchorage Media Group director of spoken-word programming Joe Campbell remarks, “I am blessed with a talented group of professional broadcasters who love what they do, and that shows in our on-air product. They truly deserve this recognition.” KFQD signed on in May of 1924, making it Alaska’s first radio station. This year’s ABA awards were presented at the conclusion of the organization’s annual convention at Anchorage’s Sheraton Hotel.
Alliance For Women in Media Selects Strobel As Interim CEO. As a search for a new chief executive officer is being conducted, Sylvia Strobel will oversee day-to-day AWM operations. She succeeds three-year AWM president Erin Fuller, who becomes president of AWM’s professional services firm Coulter. Strobel is the co-founder/partner of the law firm Lehmann Strobel PLC, where she provides legal and business consulting services to the nonprofit arts, cultural and media communities. AWM chair Kay Olin remarks, “Sylvia’s industry knowledge, leadership abilities, and commitment to AWM will help us continue the organization’s incredible momentum advancing the influence and impact of women in all forms of media.” A past chair of the organization, Strobel notes, “AWM’s mission and work – to advance the opportunities for and impact of women in all forms of media – is critically important to me personally, and is necessary to ascertain diversity in a rapidly changing media industry.” Strobel served as an attorney and business advisor to the entertainment community for over 20 years. Most recently, she was executive director of the Alliance for Community Media and she previously was president/general manager of the Pennsylvania Public Television Network.
Strand Media and Boostability Offer “Digital Profit System for Radio.” The concept allows stations to bundle Search Engine Optimization services (SEO) with traditional radio advertising to improve advertiser results, while creating what Strand Media president Mike Carruthers describes as, “a substantial recurring revenue stream” for the station. “The money is virtually all profit,” he maintains. Every business must come at the top of a Google search, Carruthers advises, and with “DPS for Radio,” station salespeople can offer SEO services to help get clients to the top of those search results. They then coordinate the SEO campaign with ad copy to create a message intended to get better results for clients. Carruthers insists that local businesses will buy these services and he rhetorically asks, “Why not buy them from a radio station salesperson out in the community making calls?” Once a radio station sells a “DPS for Radio” package to an advertiser, they hand it off to Boostability. Stations make a commission on every dollar their clients spend for as long as they remain a customer. “Over time, that can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars with virtually no expenses,” Carruthers states. There is no cost to offer DPS for Radio and there is market/format exclusivity protection for this venture. Strand Media produces the daily feature “Something You Should Know” and the daily service “Relevant Prep.” It has syndicated “Backstage Country,” “Oldies Essentials” and “Recollections.” Founder Mike Carruthers has worked at over a dozen radio stations, most of them in Los Angeles; his contact information is 626-325-3360, Mike@DPSforRadio.com, or www.DPSforRadio.com.
Comedy Legend Emo Phillips to be Presented as Week-long Host for Halloween by CC Comedy Format. “24/7 Comedy,” the 24-hour, all-comedy format syndicated by Clear Channel, will treat listeners to a special week-long Halloween host – legendary comedian Emo Phillips. From October 28 – November 1, “24/7 Comedy” will feature “A Very Emo Halloween,” giving listeners a peek behind the mysterious mask of Phillips and highlighting some of his most popular stand-up bits. Emo has been a mystifying figure in the comedy world for nearly 30 years. With an orchestra of tonality and cadence, an odd falsetto intonation, and weird observations delivered in a child-like and rambling voice, Emo found himself climbing the ranks of the stand-up ladder in the 1980s. He is currently touring and setting attendance records at comedy clubs around the globe. Launched in 2010, “24/7 Comedy” is a first fast-paced, hits-oriented, mass-appeal comedy format for broadcast radio. With a growing library of more than 15,000 comedy bits, each hour of programming features more than 20 of today’s top acts as well as established artists. For more information visit www.247comedy.com.
Low-Power FM Application Deadline Extended. Opening of the original, two-week LPFM window was slated for October 15 – 29, but owing to the October 1 -16 federal government shutdown, the FCC is pushing it back. Applications for community radio stations are now due by November 14. Prometheus Radio Project Policy Director Sanjay Jolly comments that, “Low-power FM is radio at its most local. These stations transmit less than 10 miles in any direction, but that small range can cover an entire town, suburb, or small city. Since only local organizations are eligible to apply, low-power stations can make radio relevant to the towns and cities where they broadcast.” Nonprofit groups, public safety organizations, and Native American tribes can apply for Low-Power FM stations online at the FCC website. Over 800 low-power stations run by nonprofits, colleges, churches, and emergency responders are currently on-air.