Tim Benz Promoted to Sports Director at CC Pittsburgh. Programmer and air personality Tim Benz exits his role as morning show host at alternative WXDX, Pittsburgh “105.9 The X” to take the sports director role at Clear Channel’s Pittsburgh cluster. With the move, WXDX evening host Abby Krizner moves to mornings. According to Pittsburgh’s Timesonline.com, Benz’s move means he’ll host a show on sister sports talker WBGG but will also continue to contribute to WXDX’s sports content (the station is the Penguins flagship). In a related move, Benz’s co-host Bob McLaughlin stays with the station as producer of the sports-heavy PM drive Mark Madden program on WXDX. About his promotion and the expansion of sports programming which will see his commentary used on cluster stations including rock WDVE, CHR WKST “96.1 KISS,” news/talk WPGB “FM News Talk 104.7,” and classic hits WWSW “94.5 3WS,” Benz tells Timesonline.com, “This opportunity to extend sports programming is something we have been discussing for some time and will enhance our platforms.” He’ll host the daily 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm show on WBGG.
James Crystal Radio Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. After reports surfaced in the radio trades (including TALKERS) that James Crystal Radio had missed payroll in January, questions began to arise about the state of the company’s affairs and, sure enough, it’s now public information that the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of Florida. In the filing, James Crystal Radio lists assets of between $1 million and $10 million with between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities. Some of the 20 creditors with the largest claims include: more than $220,000 owned to BMI, more than $1.5 million to various attorneys for fees, plus some $861,000 owed to the IRS in payroll taxes and more than $200,000 in property and local taxes. This is a particularly unfortunate situation since the company has operated in a very locally focused manner giving opportunities to Florida personalities at news/talk WFTL and sports talk WMEN, both serving the West Palm Beach and South Florida markets. The company also owns foreign-language WFLL, Fort Lauderdale and gospel KBXD, Dallas.
Dave Ramsey Crosses Town to KEIB, Los Angeles. Nationally syndicated financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey moves from news/talk KFWB, Los Angeles to Clear Channel’s new conservative talk KEIB “The Patriot 1150” where the show will air from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm beginning February 24. KEIB program director Robin Bertolucci says, “We are delighted and excited to have Dave as part of our lineup. With his proven track record in LA, he’ll be an excellent addition to our station.” Currently, local personality Carlos Amezcua airs in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot on KEIB.
KFWB Expands ‘Money 101’ with Bob McCormick. With the departure of Dave Ramsey, CBS RADIO operated KFWB, Los Angeles grows Bob McCormick’s “Money 101” program and places it in the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm slot on the program schedule. As a result, “LA’s Morning News with Penny Griego and Phil Hulett” adds another hour, wrapping at 10:00 am. The station notes that McCormick “is a recognized authority on personal finance issues in Southern California…his fast-paced show features compelling content that goes beyond the headlines and focuses on how these issues influence our lives in Southern California.” Program director Andy Ludlum says of the changes, “We have enjoyed a great relationship with Dave Ramsey and his team. They are consummate professionals and Dave did a great job for us. It was a good partnership, but the opportunity to add more local programming to super-serve our listeners prevailed.”
Envision Networks Announces New Brand. The new name and branding for Envision Radio Networks is Envision Networks. The 11-year-old media network, which provides content and services to more than 1,500 radio stations across the country, says it has grown beyond the scope of a radio-only syndication company and that the new name Envision Networks encompasses its heritage radio business as well as its growing digital networks, streaming networks and on-demand listening. President and CEO Danno Wolkoff states, “Envision Networks is a more accurate representation of our current evolution and growth in radio, digital, streaming and product placement. The Envision Networks name and branding now reflects everything we supply to radio stations and other media while creating a desirable audience for our advertisers and partners.”
Broadcasting Pro Todd Feinburg Launches Boston Traffic Service. It’s called J4traffic and the Boston-based broadcasting pro tells TALKERS magazine it is a “crowd sourced, all-traffic radio station for Boston, the first radio format being launched by Speaks Mobile, Inc.” The app is available for free download from the Apple and Android stores. Todd Feinburg (who co-hosted morning drive on WRKO, Boston for the past five years and currently is doing part-time and fill-in work for WBZ-AM) explains the concept behind this initiative. “Rush hour is expanding to encompass much of the day in major American cities, and not just on weekdays. Radio traffic reports lack the frequency, substance and reliability to be effective at easing this pain, and traffic maps don’t go together well with the legal and practical responsibilities of operating a motor vehicle. Furthermore, traffic data delivered to mobile apps lacks the nuance that drivers need to make effective decisions regarding comparative routes – and it’s generally not much fun. We will correct these problems with The Jay – on-demand traffic talk radio that is informed by the crowd.” Feinburg says the programming will consist of a traffic report every five minutes. In between, they’ll broadcast updates reported to them by commuters. Drivers will share what they see on the road via 15 second mp3s they record on the J4traffic app, or they’ll call in with live reports. He says they are in “beta” mode right now but once they’re up to speed, they’ll use “Facebook mobile ads and Google keyword ads to push new users to the app in order to speed growth. In addition, we are optimistic that local media outlets will respond well to a PR campaign emphasizing a new format – all traffic radio – on a platform that has not been used to offer unique, local, radio content – but has been proven successful by companies such as Pandora, Spotify and Apple.” Feinburg says their positioning will be “as a humble, bootstrap operation looking to solve a problem, because that’s what we are. We see this as the beginning of a trend – ‘local’ is the power of radio, and local radio has been abandoned by broadcasters. Now that the threshold to entry has been lowered and anyone can have a radio station, we expect thousands of niche broadcast outlets to appear on the mobile platform.” Along with Feinburg, the two other principals are Jonathan Roy, an attorney who has left his practice in order to join the startup world. He gained experience in tech and startups before attending law school 15 years ago. Aaron Sawyer is a 20-year veteran of Total Traffic and its predecessor, Metro Traffic. Aaron worked as a manager and announcer for Total Traffic, setting up and rolling out new markets.
Executive Changes at NextMedia in Chicago as Sale to Digity Expected to Close on Monday. The sale of NextMedia’s nine suburban Chicago radio stations to Dean Goodman-led Digity, LLC is expected to close on Monday, February 10 and Chicagoland Radio and Media reports that two executives are being told they will not be retained when the deal is consummated. General managers Patrick Pendergast and Scott Kosak will reportedly exit the company and NextMedia360 vice president Brian Foster will serve as manager for the entire group. The Chicago stations are part of a larger deal that encompasses 33 stations becoming assets in Digity, LLC. The Chicago-area stations include: classic hits WERV-FM, Aurora; country WCCQ-FM, Crest Hill; news/talk WJOL-AM, Joliet; AC WSSR-FM, Joliet; rock WRXQ-FM, Coal City; sports WKRS-AM, Waukegan; hot AC WXLC-FM, Waukegan; rock WIIL-FM, Union Grove, Wisconsin and news/talk WLIP-AM, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Dave Ramsey Brings Live Events to Boise. Nationally syndicated superstar Dave Ramsey is pictured here with (from left to right) Idaho First Lady Lori Otter, Townsquare Media regional vice president Kevin Godwin, and Idaho Governor Butch Otter during a visit to the market this week. Ramsey presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” event to a sold-out crowd in on Thursday (2/6) at the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. The production presents Ramsey’s philosophy about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined him on stage. Local affiliate KIDO helped promote the event and Kevin Godwin states, “KIDO’s enthusiasm for the unique opportunity to host Dave Ramsey in Boise is brimming. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, as KIDO is celebrating its 85th anniversary of broadcasting this year. It’s very special to have one of our most popular talk show hosts here to share this with us and our community.” On Wednesday, Ramsey hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” along with Cruze and speaker Chris Hogan, about how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 350 employees.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. In the Riverside-San Bernardino market, Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh is added to the lineup at KTIE, San Bernardino…..“Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge joins the program lineup at WVFT-FM, Tallahassee; WYOO-FM, Panama Beach, Florida and KGUM-AM, Agana, Guam…..The XtreMedia produced and syndicated Kevin McCullough show is added to the programming at WHEP, Mobile/Pensacola; WTXY, Wilmington, North Carolina; and WROM, Rome, Georgia…..The WYM Media-produced Leslie Marshall show is added to the Indiana Talk Radio Network airing from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm…..Salem Radio Network’s Michael Medved show is added to the lineup at WFBL, Syracuse; WMCR, Oneida, New York; and KVOC, Casper, Wyoming and the company’s Mike Gallagher show joins the programming at KMAX, Colfax, Washington…..“The Graveyard Shift” show announces affiliates for its March launch. KONR, Anchorage and KDOL, Livingston, Texas will carry the program.
Bennett Keynotes at Reagan Event. Nationally syndicated morning drive host Bill Bennett is pictured here speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California yesterday (2/6). The Salem Radio Network personality, who served as Education Secretary under Reagan, was keynote speaker at the event commemorating the 103rd anniversary of Reagan’s birth. Yesterday’s ceremony included a color guard, chaplain, a brass quintet, a 21-gun salute, a flyover, the placing of an official White House wreath on President Reagan’s gravesite and remarks by Bennett. Prior to the ceremony, Bennett signed copies of his new book, Is College Worth It?
Sean Hannity to Keynote and Host Special Breakfast at Talkers New York 2014 Set for Friday, June 20. Nationally syndicated Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel talk media superstar Sean Hannity will again serve as the morning keynote and breakfast host at this year’s installment of TALKERS magazine’s annual New York City-based convention. The TALKERS magazine annual national talk media industry conference enters its 17th consecutive year as the date and site have been set for the next installment of the industry’s largest, longest-running and most important gathering. Upon the announcement of Hannity’s participation, TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “Sean’s valuable contributions to this event have become a tradition over the course of its colorful history. He transcends politics and even the competition factor at this event and is by far one of the brightest and most popular individuals in a behind-the-scenes sense in the talk industry. His grasp of ratings issues, sales challenges, the local/national balance equation and changes in the syndication sector is extremely ‘black belt’ in quality and greatly appreciated by his colleagues in the business.” According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “This will be the most important installment of this can’t-miss conference ever because it will deal with some of the most sensitive and existential issues facing not only the talk side of the business, but all of what we still call ‘radio.’ It should not be missed, plain and simple, by anyone or any company serious about their future in this industry.” Registrations for the event are limited only to people who are members of the working media (meaning actively or recently employed in the industry or associated industries) and can only be booked by telephone with credit card. Individual registrations for the entire event including all sessions, presentations, breakfast, lunch, refreshments and receptions are $249. As usual, because of space limitations and the quality of this long-established event, an early sellout is expected. Stand by for ongoing information about speakers, agenda and hotel suggestions in the days ahead. For further registration and sponsorship information, please call 413-565-5413.
Mike Francesa to Deliver Sports Keynote Address at Talkers New York 2014 - Set for June 20. WFAN, New York sports talk superstar Mike Francesa will reprise his “grand slam home run” contribution from last year and again deliver this year’s sports keynote address at Talkers New York 2014 on Friday, June 20. Upon making the announcement, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “Mike Francesa’s speech last year was one of the most memorable highlights of the conference. He brings the same no-nonsense, unapologetic, common-sense approach to the issues of the industry that he brings to his legion of fans on the radio about their passion – sports — and quite frankly, it is quite refreshing and inspirational to those of us for whom radio is the ‘game’ of our lives. Francesa is the quintessential local sports talker – the most important in the business – and is a voice that needs to be heard because so much has happened in the sports talk sector since last summer. He’s the perfect guy to deliver the updated message within the context of continuity.” Francesa’s address will directly follow the conference’s general morning keynote address delivered by Premiere Radio/Fox News Channel heavyweight Sean Hannity. More than 60 speakers from the leadership ranks of the industry’s talent, programming, management and sales arenas are being signed up to fill out the power-packed, one-day agenda. The TALKERS magazine annual national talk media industry conference (known for years as the “New Media Seminar”) enters its 17th consecutive year as the talk radio industry’s largest, longest-running and most important gathering. Harrison continues, “This will be the most important installment of this must-attend conference ever because it will deal with some of the most sensitive and even existential issues facing not only the talk side of the business, but all of what we still call ‘radio.’ It should not be missed by anyone or any company serious about their future in this industry.” Registrations for the event are limited only to people who are members of the media industry (meaning actively or recently employed in the radio, television, and press industries or associated industries) and can only be booked by telephone with credit card. Individual registrations for the entire event including all sessions, presentations, breakfast, lunch, refreshments and receptions are $249. As usual, because of space limitations and the quality of this long-established event, a very early sellout is expected. Stand by for ongoing information about speakers, agenda and hotel suggestions in the days ahead. For further registration and sponsorship information, please call 413-565-5413.
ObamaCare Criticism Returns to #1 on Talkers TenTM. The most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 3-7 was scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act. The issue held the top spot on the Talkers TenTM for eight straight weeks last fall and now returns to #1. At #2 this week was the pending immigration legislation and the amnesty component expected to be included in the bill. Following at #3 was talk of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 with the nation’s and several states’ marijuana laws coming in at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. To view this week’s entire chart, click here.