Emphatic Fox To Entercom: Apology Denied. After returning from a planned vacation last week, WEEI-FM, Boston morning personality Kirk Minihane reignited the controversy he started with criticism of Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews’ All-Star Game work by reiterating his disdain for her work. But even his bosses at Entercom, who had been supportive, had to backtrack and he’s now been suspended for this week – without pay. To recap, the unbilled member of the Dennis & Callahan morning show on WEEI had some disparaging things to say the day after the broadcast about an in-game interview conducted by the network’s Erin Andrews. Perhaps only St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright will be the only person to know for certain if he made it a bit easier for Derek Jeter – appearing in his final All-Star contest – to smack a first-inning double, which was the catalyst for three quick AL runs in that frame. Social media was buzzing that Wainwright had indicated he might have grooved the pitch Jeter hit. Andrews questioned Wainwright about it and the pitcher backtracked from that notion, and he said Jeter’s hit was on the up-and-up. Apparently though, the televised exchange between this year’s co-host of (ABC-TV‘s) “Dancing with the Stars” and Wainwright did not sit well with Minihane, who declared of Andrews, “What a bitch – I hate her. What a gutless bitch. Seriously, go away. Drop dead. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with her? First of all, follow-up. Second of all, the guy admitted he did it – he admitted it. He told reporters he threw a couple of ‘pipe-bombs.’ How is that social media’s fault? I hate her – I seriously hate her so much.” A Minihane-issued statement was posted Wednesday night (7/16) on the WEEI website that read: “I used a series of words to describe Erin Andrews’ work at the All-Star Game. My choice of words was wrong. I was wrong to have used them. To all whom I offended – particularly Ms. Andrews – I apologize. There is no place for what was said. It was immature and completely uncalled for. I am often critical of media members and their work and recognize here that I’ve made the kind of mistake I would call out if it was done by another sportscaster or writer. Again, to all involved, I’m very sorry.” But upon returning last week, he commented on the issue and lashed out at Andrews again, saying, “I think she stinks at her job. I don’t think she’s very smart. I don’t think she comes across as very smart. I think Fox only hired her because she is good-looking. I think if she weighed 15 pounds more, she would be a waitress at Perkins. That is what I believe, I do believe that.” It was probably that last comment that prompted Fox Sports president Eric Shanks to inform Entercom the company was pulling its entertainment and sports-related adds off of all Entercom stations and it was that move that brought Entercom CEO David Field into the mix. In the letter to Field, Shanks wrote that Minihane’s comments were “boorish and sexist.” Shanks further maintains that Minihane’s apology was “juvenile and insincere.” Furthermore, the Fox executive writes, “I had hoped by this time we might hear a sincere apology from WEEI, or perhaps someone from your office might have reached out to Fox. None of that has been forthcoming, and needless to say, we are disappointed.” According to Shanks, through film and television businesses, Fox is “a significant advertiser on Entercom stations. I have discussed this issue with our senior management and our various senior marketing executives. At their recommendation, going forward, Fox’s entertainment and sports businesses will not be advertising on your stations for the foreseeable future.” Field reacted by commenting, “Kirk Minihane’s statements regarding Erin Andrews were offensive and deplorable. It is clear by the response from our listeners, advertisers, and employees that Kirk’s efforts to apologize and make this right have been insufficient and ambiguous. We want to make it unequivocally clear that his comments were unacceptable and do not reflect Entercom’s values and standards.” As far as Shanks is concerned, the situation was made “worse,” owing to the fact that the “apology was posted under a banner hailing ‘The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane.’” Seemingly lost in the wake of pulled advertising dollars corporate-wide and having to suspend an on-air personality is the fact that in the latest (6+) trends (June 2014), WEEI-FM (3.3) beat cross-town CBS Radio format rival WBZ-FM “The Sports Hub” (2.9) for the first time (total week, 6+) in nearly two years. The last time it happened was August 2012, when WEEI-FM had the advantage over WBZ-FM by a 4.3 – 3.7 count (6+). WBZ-FM won each battle the rest of the year by 4.5 – 4.1 (September); 4.6 – 2.8 (October); 4.1 – 2.5 (November) 4.4 – 3.0 (December); and 4.6 – 2.7 (“Holiday”). The closest WEEI-FM came to WBZ-FM in 2013 was one-tenth in August (3.9 – 3.8); WBZ-FM’s largest (6+) lead in 2013 was in May (5.7 – 2.9). Thus far in 2014, “The Sports Hub” has emerged victorious over WEEI-FM (6+) in January (5.6 – 3.4); February (4.5 – 2.8); March (4.7 – 2.7); April (4.3 – 3.3); and May (5.1 – 3.4). As noted, WEEI-FM beat WBZ-FM in June (3.3 – 2.9, 6+). It will be interesting to see how Entercom handles this situation because the ratings for the Dennis & Callahan show have improved since Minihane joined the show and numerous Boston media watchers agree that his addition has breathed new life into the program.
Stephen A. Smith to Exit WEPN-FM for SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio Channel. That’s according to a report by The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman who writes that Stephen A. Smith will soon exit ESPN O&O WEPN-FM where he co-hosts the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daily show with Ryan Ruocco to host his own program on the satellite service – reportedly in the same time slot that would lead into Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s afternoon drive show. Raissman also suggests that a move to SiriusXM could be interesting for the controversial Stephen A. Smith, who caused a stir by his comments in reaction to the two-game suspension the NFL star Ray Rice received for punching out his wife in an elevator. Read Raissman’s column here.
KFWB, Los Angeles to Flip from News/Talk to Sports. Officials at the KFWB Trust are being tightlipped about the reports but LARadio.com’s Don Barrett is reporting that KFWB staffers were called to a meeting on Friday, July 25 and informed their jobs would go away in five weeks when the format changes. Barrett reports that staffers told him the station would go to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network which would bring Jim Rome back to the Los Angeles market. He’s been gone from his home market since jumping from Premiere Networks to CBS Sports 18 months ago. Some are questioning whether LA needs another sports talk outlet but it’s probably less about what the market “needs” and more about getting CBS Sports Radio and Jim Rome back into the Los Angeles market. It’d also be a heck of a lot less expensive to program network sports than a mix of network and local news/talk.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: Jerry Del Colliano Delivers Special Presentation, “Radio in the Digital Age.” Today (7/28) marks the 10th consecutive business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with a special presentation titled “Radio in the Digital Age” delivered by Inside Music Media publisher Jerry Del Colliano. The longtime industry observer, analyst, and maverick draws upon his experience as both a professional radio broadcaster and former professor of music industry at USC to explain how the traits of the large, coming-of-age millennial generation do not quite mesh with the approach taken by most of the boomers running radio stations today. He implored the full house of broadcasters in attendance to heed the warning, “We must change! We must disrupt! Because the audience is changing.” To view this entire presentation, please click here. Coming tomorrow: A panel discussion moderated by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey titled “The State of Talk Programming.” Featured speakers include: Andy Bloom, OM, WPHT/WIP, Philadelphia; Phil Boyce, VP/spoken word programming, Salem Communications; Bill Hess, PD, WMAL, Washington, DC; Gabe Hobbs, CEO, Gabe Hobbs Media; and Craig Schwalb, PD, WABC, New York. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Odds & Sods. Although Stoney Richards is leaving his role at CBS RADIO Pittsburgh’s country WDSY where he’s been APD, music director and afternoon drive personality in order to pursue his acting career, he will maintain his weekend talk show on the company’s news/talk KDKA-AM where he hosts the “Live From The Centre” program…..Speaking of KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh, the station is partnering with local The Education Partnership to help provide new school and classroom supplies to local schools in financial need. This Wednesday (7/30), it will host a call-center in the 84 Lumber Theatre at CBS RADIO Pittsburgh from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm to answer listener questions, collect monetary donations and serve as an outlet for those looking for volunteer opportunities. Also, an onsite collection will take place at KDKA’s studios for the project dubbed “Crayons for Kids.” KDKA-AM morning news host Larry Richert comments, “When I first learned of the great need in our hometown I was shocked! The Education Partnership is such a lean and vital organization. With our help we can deliver on the basic needs of 30,000-plus school students who count on having the basics to learn and grow, starting with crayons!”…..In response to the comments by TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison published by the Boston Herald about the current state of news/talk radio in Boston relative to its colorful past, general manager Phil Redo – now with public broadcaster WGBH, Boston – checks in with his take. He tells TALKERS that (former WTKK-FM, Boston personalities) “Jim Braude and Margery Eagan (pictured here) are doing a fabulous show for us here on WGBH Radio. They have been on the air for nearly 18 months and made a smooth transition from commercial to public. Each day they explore a wide range of topics, from the top local news stories to connecting the dots on major national and international events. They provide an important access point for this community – and to the decision makers who will impact each of us by those decisions. In addition, the governor and AG show up every month to host an hour – as does Boston’s new mayor. Their show Boston Public Radio has grown from below a 1.0 share to above a 4.0 share and in June, ranks in the top 10 both 6+ and 25-54 during their 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot…They have done so well that we’re expanding the program to three hours this fall.”
Unusual General Manager/Sales Manager Opportunity at Talk Station Owned by an “Eccentric.” The self-described “eccentric” (we agree) owner of one of the nation’s leading independent local talk radio stations, KSCO AM 1080, Santa Cruz/Monterey/Salinas/Silicon Valley, Michael Zwerling, is looking for a general manager/sales manager to bring his station’s monthly ad billing up from “a laughable $30,000 per month” (his words not ours) to a “more respectable and completely do-able $300,000 per month.” Asked how a station billing only $30,000 in monthly ad revenue could be considered anything even REMOTELY deserving of being described as “one of the nation’s leading independent local talk radio stations,” Zwerling retorts, “Easy — ad sales have never been our focus in the past; we have done and continue to do very well, thank you, with our ‘royalties from radio’ revenue model we have employed for nearly 18 years. Yet we continue to serve our communities FAR better than most corporate-owned stations, and far better than most other independent stations that can’t AFFORD to serve their communities.” Zwerling continues, “But I started to feel like a fool recently when I realized that just because we don’t NEED to sell advertising — doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t TRY to sell as much advertising as possible — just like any other station being run by anyone with even HALF a brain!” According to Zwerling, the sky is the limit in terms of unique opportunity for the right person with “fire in his/her belly” to bring an additional $270,000 PER MONTH ad revenue into KSCO. But there is a catch. To read the entire story penned by TALKERS staff writer Mona Lipschitz, please click here.
WABC, New York’s Mark Levin to Host Cumulus Media’s “Bark in the Park” Event. The 4th Annual “Bark in the Park” event presented by Cumulus Media’s New York stations WABC, WPLJ, WNSH “NASH FM 94.7,” and WNBM “Radio 103.9” is being hosted by WABC personality Mark Levin Saturday, August 2 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. The stations are teaming up with the North Shore Animal League America and Bergen County Animal Shelter/Adoption Center which will be on site with many dogs up for adoption. The mission is to find a home for as many puppies as possible. Additionally, the day will feature a wide array of vendors, services, food, demonstrations, and activities for families and dog lovers alike.
Apple to Acquire Spoken-Word Aggregator Swell. According to a report in re/code, Apple is paying approximately $30 million to acquire the company Swell, whose current app creates a stream of spoken-word content delivered to iPhones and iPads based on the user’s likes. Liz Gannes writes in her piece that with the acquisition, the Swell app will go away and some analysts believe Apple will integrate the service into existing services such as iTunes Radio. Read Gannes’ re/code story here.
Yahoo! Sports Radio Invades Las Vegas! The crew pictured here is Yahoo! Sports Radio network talent in Las Vegas as the network “took over” Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo Hotel and Casino during the week of July 21-25 broadcasting live for what it dubbed, “Yahoo! Sports Radio Super Week.” From left to right are: Air personalities Steve Czaban, Scott Linn, Geoff Ketchum, Sean Salisbury, Yahoo! Sports Radio CEO David Gow, personalities John Granato and Peter Brown.