Journal Communications Announces Merger of Broadcast Operations with E.W. Scripps. In a surprise move – at least as far as the public is concerned – Journal Communications announced late Wednesday (7/30) that it has struck a deal with Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps to merge the two companies’ broadcast operations into one company and to spin off their respective print businesses and merge them into a separate company that will also be publicly traded. The Journal Broadcast Group will go away and the broadcast operations will continue under the Scripps banner. The newspaper and print businesses will operate under the Journal Media Group banner. This means an exit for Scripps from the print business. In a video message, Journal Communications chairman and CEO Steve Smith states, “These two independent companies will build upon the strong local brands Journal and Scripps have built over the years.” The newspaper company – with 14 dailies and affiliated digital media – will be headquartered in Milwaukee. Scripps owns only TV stations and, after the merger is complete, the new group will be the fifth largest television group in the country – with 34 TV stations in 24 markets – with Journal’s radio assets also in that group. Journal operates 35 radio stations in eight markets. WXYZ-TV, Detroit reports that Scripps CEO Richard Boehne states the companies will gain about $35 million in “combined transaction synergies” but he said it would be months before it would be known if there would be staff reductions or requests for employees to relocate. The deal, pending regulatory approval, is expected to close in 2015. Since Scripps owns no radio assets, there are no duplicative positions there but the question to be asked is how dedicated to the radio business will E.W. Scripps be? Will it ultimately put them up for sale? Only time will tell.
Cumulus Strikes Deal with CNN for Radio News Product. The product will not be branded CNN but will allow stations to make the content that comes from CNN Newsource their own. A statement from Cumulus Media today about the news service to be made available via Westwood One, says, this new service will offer radio stations nationwide access to broadcast, breaking news, wire service and digital content provided by CNN for use on the air and on their websites. Westwood One owns the patented STORQ technology that Cumulus says provides a local feel to syndicated content. “The addition of this new service will for the first time enable local radio stations to broadcast the latest national and international news acquired by CNN but branded with their own call letters and station slogans.” Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says, “Our affiliates and advertising partners know they can count on us for news and information products that reflect how people today consume content through various platforms, and this exclusive access to CNN’s newsgathering will ensure we can provide stations nationwide an unmatched array of news formats.” Dickey described the service to the New York Post calling it a “differentiated product. For some who want hard news, this isn’t the service, but there are fewer of those types of stations across the country. The emphasis is more on shorter stories, less hard news and ‘give it to me when I want it.’” Cumulus Media’s Westwood One reps other news services – including ABC, NBC, CBS and CNBC Business Radio. CNN shut down the CNN Radio division two years ago.
Fox TV and Entercom Mend Fences – and Restore $$ — After Minihane Comments. Some industry insiders were critical of Fox TV’s dropping advertising on Entercom-owned stations after WEEI-FM, Boston’s Kirk Minihane made controversial comments about Fox TV reporter Erin Andrews – charging Fox with pulling the boycott strategy. However it appears the move by Entercom CEO David Field to apologize and to suspend Minihane for a week placated Fox and, according to a story by Chad Finn in the Boston Globe, the company will resume its advertising of its TV shows and movies on Entercom stations which is reportedly in the neighborhood of $1 million per year. Fox Sports SVP of media relations Lou D’Ermilio stated, “We appreciate Entercom’s recognition and response to the inappropriate comments made by the WEEI host. It is our sincere hope both organizations can now move forward.” Finn reports Entercom Boston VP and market manager Phil Zachary commented, “On our end, we consider the matter 100 percent resolved.” Read the whole story here.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: “The Talk Rumble.” Today (7/31) marks the 13th 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 Talkers Conference tradition – “The Talk Rumble.” Moderated by the dynamic multi-media talk star Lionel of LionelMedia.com with a special introduction by syndicated icon, Dr. Joy Browne of Radio America, the freewheeling debate of today’s hottest talk radio issues features: Bubba the Love Sponge, Bubba Radio Network; Alan Colmes, Fox News Radio/FNC; Mike Gallagher, Salem Radio Network; Thom Hartmann, WYD Media; Joyce Kaufman, WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale; Kevin McCullough, XtreMEDIA; and David Webb, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. To view this spoken word extravaganza, please click here. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Questions About Political Correctness. WFAN, New York sports talk host Richard Neer writes in an opinion piece published today at Talkers.com, that although he believes we should all avoid words or phrases that are likely to offend, he fears that “a ‘gotcha’ mentality is running amok, looking to punish anyone who has the temerity to take an unpopular stand.” Neer points to two recent cases – one involving Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the other Stephen A. Smith’s current suspension from ESPN – in which both men went to great lengths to clarify statements that many people would, upon hearing the clarification, not find offensive. Still, the controversy continued and in Smith’s case, he was suspended. Read Neer’s insightful piece here.
Larry King Says Piers Morgan Failed Because He Was ‘Pompous.’ Appearing on Cumulus Media’s classic rock WGRF, Buffalo on the “Norton in the Morning” show via Envision Networks’ Guest Services booking service, radio and TV legend Larry King – promoting his “Larry King Now” daily interview show that appears on Ora.tv and Hulu.com – told the show’s listeners that Piers Morgan had a tough transition to replace him as host of the CNN interview show. “Any person who has been on for 25 years in one place and you have an audience who is used to you…it’s very hard to step into those shoes no matter who it is.” Speaking about Morgan, King said, “Personally, I like him fine, but it was all about him. It was the opposite of the way I interview. He was the opposite. So now they not only had someone who was British, different, but then he would use the word ‘I’ every other word…He became, I thought a bit, in my opinion, pompous, but that’s the way I looked at it. So I had trouble watching Piers Morgan’s show, and I guess a lot of other people did too.”
Dan Le Batard Denied LeBron James Ad by Cleveland Plain Dealer. It’s hard to say how far along ESPN and WAXY, Miami sports talk host Dan Le Batard was in actually trying to place an ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer to get a dig in at LeBron James, but the paper forestalled any such plan by saying it would not accept the ad, according to a report in the Washington Post. The paper reports Le Batard was discussing the Miami Heat fans’ reaction to James’ departure for Cleveland and he suggested taking out an ad similar to the mock-up you see here that would razz James for not thanking Miami fans after his four-year stint with the Heat. Le Batard jokingly suggested a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money for the ad. Still, for Le Batard’s part, he got a fair amount of national press over the bit.
Odds & Sods. The nationally syndicated Leslie Marshall show – produced by WYM Media – permanently shifts its live broadcast time to 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET…..Red Rock Radio Corp. is flipping two stations – standards WXCE, Amery, Wisconsin and standards WHSM-AM, Hayward, Wisconsin – to sports talk using NBC Sports Radio effective August 4.
Obama Impeachment Chatter/House Obama Suit Vote, Ebola Outbreak Scare, Gaza Strip Violence, Flight 17 Probe/Russia’s Ukraine Aggression, Lerner’s Anti-GOP Emails, and Stephen A. Smith Suspension Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/30). The controversy over possible impeachment of President Obama and the Dem’s purported use of the threat in fundraisers combined with the U.S. House’s vote to sue the president for unconstitutional actions; the Ebola outbreak scare; Israel’s continuing attack on Hamas in the Gaza Strip; the investigation into the downing of Flight 17 and the complications due to Ukrainian instability and Russia’s involvement; the flap over IRS staffer Lois Lerner’s anti-GOP emails; and ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith’s suspension for his comments on the Ray Rice suspension were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.