Clear Channel Makes Statement About News/Talk with Flip of WPGB-FM, Pittsburgh to Country. Radio stations are in business to make money and Clear Channel – with its $20 billion of debt – needs as much as it can get, and if it believed the almost 11-year-old news/talk format on WPGB-FM was getting it done, it wouldn’t have dropped the format for country in the Steel City. But it did, and industry watchers have to wonder if this move signals a change in the company’s belief in the strength of the news/talk format or if this is a market-specific situation where it saw an opportunity to battle two other operators with the very hot country format. Certainly, country is a much less controversial sell than news/talk and perhaps that played into the decision. Regardless, news/talk fans in Pittsburgh will have to go to Pittsburgh Radio Partners-owned WJAS-AM – a class B station at 1320 kHz – to hear Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck as those shows move across town immediately. One also has to wonder what kind of deal Pittsburgh Radio Partners got on three shows that are usually barter and cash. Last year’s non-renewal of the Quinn & Rose morning show at WPGB-FM may have been a harbinger of this change as it’s likely CC has been considering the change for some time. One thing’s for sure, it’s a safe bet the folks at crosstown KDKA-AM are not crying over this move.
Dan Le Batard Suspended by ESPN for Billboard Stunt. Since the Cleveland Plain Dealer wouldn’t take his ad with a sarcastic “you’re welcome” to former Miami Heat star Lebron James after his announced return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, WAXY, Miami “The Ticket” and ESPN personality Dan Le Batard decided to buy billboards in Akron with the same message (pictured at right). While Lincoln Financial Media got the joke, ESPN wasn’t laughing and suspended Le Batard for two days (August 7-8) for the stunt. Le Batard’s show is now a collaborative effort between LFM and ESPN and WAXY VP/GM Maureen Lesourd says, “We’re ‘The Ticket 104.3’ and we have a passion for South Florida sports and in particular, the Miami Heat fans. The fans were offended, so for ‘The Ticket’ it was a brilliant local promotion and meant for fun, but I have to respect stunts like this don’t work for a national outlet like ESPN.” ESPN said in a statement, “Dan Le Batard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday. His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”
Morning Personality Mark Kaye Honing Talk Radio Chops. CHR morning jock Mark Kaye – host of the “The Big Ape Morning Mess” on Cox Media Group’s CHR WAPE, Jacksonville has been “quietly” doing a weekend talk show on sister station WOKV “News 104.5.” The show was added to the company’s Orlando outlet WDBO and now is being picked up in Tulsa by CMG’s KRMG “News 102.3.” KRMG director of branding and programming Levi May comments, “For those who are looking for the next generation of talk radio host, look no further than Mark Kaye – KRMG is on board!” Kaye comments on the surprising speed at which his talk show has blossomed, “OM Todd Shannon, WOKV PD Mike Dorwart and I pitched this idea to Cox VP of programming Steve Smith in January. Six months later it’s now on three stations…in two time zones! It’s been so awesome to mix what I’ve been doing on CHR radio into a cool and trendy new news/talk show that the audience, and the industry is excited about. And I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
CBS RADIO Q2 Revenue Down 3%. There’s rarely much information from CBS Corp. about its radio division during quarterly conference calls or the press releases about earnings, as the company is so heavily focused on television, films and publishing. It appears CBS RADIO had a quarter similar to other radio companies in that its net revenue decline of 3% was probably due to the soft advertising climate affecting the industry.
Salem Communication Reports Q2 Total Revenue Up 14%; Broadcast Net Revenue Up 1.8%. The good news for Salem Communications comes as its internet and e-commerce and publishing divisions showed big revenue increases during the second quarter of 2014. As for the broadcast division, net broadcast revenue was up 1.8% to $47.9 million from $47 million during the same period a year ago. Station operating income decreased 13.8% to $13.9 million from $16.2 million and same station net broadcast revenue increased 1.1% to $47.6 million from $47 million.
Journal Broadcast Group Radio Revenue Up 1.6%. As a whole, Journal Communications revenue was up 4.9% during the second quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013. On the radio side, Journal Broadcast Group realized a net increase of 1.6% on $20.2 million of revenue. The company reports radio political advertising revenue was $0.1 million in each of 2014 and 2013. Local advertising revenue, excluding political, increased 2.3%, primarily due to an increase in home products and automotive advertising. Digital revenue, which is reported in local revenue, was $0.8 million, up 14.1%. National advertising revenue, excluding political, decreased 6.3%, primarily due to lower automotive and restaurant advertising. Excluding political revenue, total revenue was $20.1 million, up 1.5%. Operating earnings from radio were $4.1 million compared to $3.8 million in 2013, an increase of 6.2%. Radio operating expenses increased 0.5%.
Odds & Sods. Talk show host Leslie Marshall – syndicated via WYM Media – is sitting in on Clear Channel’s KKSF, San Francisco “Talk 910” next Monday and Thursday (8/11 and 14) for the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm show…..Hubbard Radio’s sports talk KSTP, Minneapolis inks a deal with Learfield Sports to continue serving as the University of Minnesota’s flagship station for men’s hockey and men’s and women’s basketball for the next three seasons.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. More new affiliate stations to report for Radio America-syndicated Dana Loesch as the program is now heard on KTSA, San Antonio; KLZ, Denver; KOY, Phoenix; KZRG-AM, Joplin, Missouri; KBLL, Helena, Montana; and KXRO, Aberdeen, Washington…..“Armed American Radio with Mark Walters” is added to the program schedule at WEBJ, Mobile/Pensacola; WDDQ, Albany, Georgia; KJMT, Pine Bluff/Little Rock; WNNG, Macon, Georgia; KNNS, Wichita; KERV, San Antonio; WWWI, Baxter, Minnesota; and KVNT-AM/FM, Anchorage.
Israel-Hamas Conflict/Rise in Anti-Semitism Tops Talkers TenTM. The conflict in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Israel and the related issue of new incidences of anti-Semitism across the globe was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of August 4-8. Following at #2 was the Ebola virus outbreak and the threat of a pandemic. At #3 was Russian aggression in the Ukraine and Edward Snowden’s renewed visa to remain in Russia, followed by President Obama’s low approval ratings at #4. 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.