By Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — Earlier this week, the FCC announced that it intends to fine television station WDBJ of Roanoke, Virginia $325,000 for broadcasting an image of a penis in a corner of the television screen for three seconds in a story that WDBJ ran on its six o’clock news on July 12, 2012. The story was about a retired porn star, Harmony Rose, who was now working as an EMT. In the broadcast of the story, a visual image of a porn website for which the star had worked was shown in a corner of the screen. While putting the story together, no one who worked on the story noticed a penis was viewable on the image of the website. According to WDBJ, which has never been fined in the past, the image was not even viewable on the editing machines used to create the story. According to WDBJ president and general manager Jeff Marks, “We are surprised and disappointed that the FCC has decided to propose to fine WDBJ for a fleeting image on the very edge of some television screens during a news broadcast. The story had gone through a review before it aired. Inclusion of the image was purely unintentional.” This fine, if it stands, would be the highest fine the FCC has ever issued for a single incident broadcast on one station and ten times higher than previous single broadcast fines for indecent material.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Blessed with an enduring ability to captivate a broad base demographic with droll, clever, sometimes-corny witticisms/puns that much sooner rather than later made you laugh, Gary Owens is being fondly remembered by those whose lives he touched by his character and one-of-a-kind classiness.
Even at the zenith of his popularity, Owens had an unrivaled flair to make anyone and everyone with whom he came in contact feel as though he or she were a genuinely important friend of his.
Dignity with which Owens carried himself make those having the privilege to work behind a microphone exude intense pride in saying they are in the same profession.
By Tony Garcia
Global Media Services
DENVER — The start of Fourth Quarter means it’s time for planning! So many of the people I work with are so busy creating their program or their product, they don’t take the time to put some strategies in place and plan ahead.
It may seem simplistic, but the easiest way to start is with the calendar. What are things that are coming up that impact your program? That will depend on your program, but for example, if you are producing a movie review program, you might want to do some marketing around Oscar time in late February. Perhaps offer a free Oscar preview segment of your show to get stations to sample it. A show about thoroughbred racing might focus on the Triple Crown races and do something around that. It’s much easier to think through that plan now than at the last minute.
KSFO Talk Show Host Ethan Bearman Met with Kevin Metheny on Friday Afternoon (10/3) Shortly Before the Famed Programmer’s Untimely Death. In what might have been Kevin Metheny’s final meeting with a talent at a station he directed, the famed programmer engaged in an almost 90-minute session with up-and-coming talk star Ethan Bearman who hosts weekend programs on KSFO, San Francisco and handles fill-in work at the Cumulus Media San Francisco operation. According to Bearman, the impromptu get-together took place shortly after he got off the air after filling-in on the station’s AM drive show. Bearman tells TALKERS, “I tracked Kevin down in his office and planted myself firmly in his guest chair. He raised an eyebrow, cracked a smile, said hello and asked if I knew what channel he could find the Giants game, starting in 45 minutes or so. We shared stories, we talked vaudeville, we laughed about movies and television shows, and then we got to the business at hand. We talked radio — what it means, where it’s going, what it takes to be successful. He opened up, verbally put an arm around me and starting sharing advice and tips on how best to entice an audience.” Bearman, who had only briefly met Metheny several months earlier, says he was struck by the man’s sense of humor and friendly manner stating, “He even did impressions of well-known figures inside and outside the industry for me as we broke the ice – something that really made me feel very special because we didn’t even have an appointment.” Bearman continues, “I left my meeting with Kevin at 12:45 Friday afternoon with a hearty handshake and big smile. I had learned more from him in an hour-and-a-half than I had in months and I know I will be thinking about his words for years to come. He conveyed a desire to make radio better, to make the station better, and to help me to be better at my craft. And he did it all in a manner without arrogance, with a genuine spirit, and a feeling of one who not only wants to win, but wants to help others do the same.” Bearman concludes, “In such a short time, I knew Kevin Metheny was a not only a successful man and loving father, but someone who wanted to lift others in the process, a real mensch. So many people in this business knew for decades that was who he was, I feel both short-changed and uplifted knowing him so briefly.”
MLB Baseball Flagship Station Analysis. TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian presents his fourth analysis of the performances of MLB flagship stations this season – this time based on September PPM data. Again, the flagships in markets where baseball has traditionally been good to its radio outlet and in markets where the team was performing well continue to benefit from increased listenership. In this report Kinosian tracks how flagship stations have performed over the past five PPM surveys, compared to September 2013, how they rank in their respective markets, and how the stations stack up based on MLB divisions. Check out Mike Kinosian’s analysis here.
New Townsquare Trenton Market Manager Named. A new market manager for Townsquare Media’s talk WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is named as Fred Bennett takes over for Lorenzo Caldara. Bennett comes to Townsquare Media from his most recent position as chief business development officer for Jelli Inc. In a statement, Bennett comments, “I am thrilled to be joining Townsquare Media. ‘New Jersey 101.5’ has done an awesome job of serving advertisers and the community with informative, entertaining and unique content. I look forward to working with the team to realize the full potential of the powerful ‘New Jersey 101.5’ brand.”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Columnist Joins ‘The Fan’ in Pittsburgh. Now making regular appearance on CBS RADIO’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh “Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan” is Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sports columnist Rob Rossi. He’ll provide insight for the upcoming NHL season, making regular appearances on “The Fan Morning Show,” “Starkey and Mueller,” and “The Colin Dunlap Programme.” He’ll also appear once a week on sister news/talk outlet KDKA-AM’s “Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway. Program director Ryan Maguire comments, “We’re thrilled that we could add Rossi’s insight on not only Penguins hockey but the entire Pittsburgh sports scene to our team.”
Odds & Sods. Sitting in for WSYR, Syracuse morning show host Joe Galuski all this week is Mark Wainwright…..Comedian Chelsea Handler is sitting down with Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl for the SiriusXM “Town Hall” show. The program is being recorded today (6:00 pm ET) before a studio audience in New York and will air Thursday at 6:00 pm on the satellite service…..CBS RADIO’s Los Angeles all-newser “KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO” is spotlighting the northern San Fernando Valley as part of its “KNX On Your Corner” series on Friday, October 24. Dick Helton and Vicky Moore will anchor the news from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, Frank Mottek will host the “KNX Business Hour” from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm and Jim Thornton and Diane Thompson will anchor the broadcast from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
The Next-to-Next Generation. Pictured here is WGOW, Chattanooga talk show host Brian Joyce (right) broadcasting live from client Economy Honda Superstore. The young man sitting across from him (left) is 7-year-old Philip Roberts who came to the remote with his mother. Joyce tells TALKERS, “At first, we thought the mom was there to take a test drive or buy a new car. It turns out Philip is a huge fan of the Brian Joyce show, to the point where he even pretends he has his own talk radio show! When he comes home from school, his mom says he sets up a table with a ‘Talk Radio 102.3’ logo and puts on a headset, and he’ll do an entire talk show for his mom and dad.” Joyce says they put Philip on the air for a segment and he was thrilled to get the opportunity.
Promoting for a Cause. Tonight’s WWE Monday Night RAW live at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn got a shot on CBS Sports Radio this morning as WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon appeared on the morning show to talk about the WWE’s partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Pictured here are (from left to right): “The Morning Show” hosts Brandon Tierney, Dana Jacobson, Tiki Barber and McMahon.
To Reach Millennials, Get Real. In a column posted today (9/29), media consultant Holland Cooke reports from the recent Maine Association of Broadcasters conference where a major topic of conversation was reaching the Millennial generation. Cooke writes that the news for radio operators today with regard to this generation is a good news/bad news scenario: The good is that Millennials like the idea of an audio-only medium but the bad news is they don’t want it to sound like it did for generations past – they have very different media sensibilities. “Keeping it real” is the mantra for this generation as comments from the “How Millennials Use Media” panel indicate. Cooke reports college-age panelists said things like, “People our age find radio gimmicky,” and, “Authenticity is a huge factor.” Read Cooke’s entire column here.
Talent Rant in Chicago. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, a war of words was started over the weekend after Windy City radio legend Steve Dahl broke out the heavy verbal artillery against WGN, Jimmy de Castro and pretty much everyone who works on air at WGN. Apparently sparked by his take that WGN president de Castro is a “glory hog” (for appearing in the front row during a group photo of the staff and WGN Walk of Fame honoree Pat Hughes), Dahl let loose with his opinion of the personalities and the station. That brought a return volley from WGN morning personality Steve Cochran who wrote an open letter published by Feder in which he asked, simply, “Why so bitter, Steve?” You can read Feder’s coverage of the Dahl podcast rant here and check out Cochran’s reply here.
Kansas City Woman’s Court Victory at Entercom’s Expense Serves Up Lessons for Broadcasters. Friday’s court victory for a Kansas City law student who was incorrectly identified as a “local porn star” by the “Afentra’s Big Fat Morning Buzz” show on Entercom’s alternative KRBZ “96.5 The Buzz” provides more lessons for broadcasters in how to avoid falling victim to a (in this case) $1 million dollar penalty for something that could have been avoided. As you are probably aware by now, Ashley Patton was misidentified by the morning show as a “local porn star” after confusing her name with that of a text-message suggestion by a listener who wrote to the show that Ashley Payton put pornographic images of herself online. On Friday, the jury awarded $250,000 in actual damages and the two sides agreed to punitive damages of $750,000, which Entercom will not appeal. Entercom had believed that its hosts had not actually engaged in negligent behavior since the identification of Patton was accidental and the station fixed the mistake as soon as it found out about it, as reported in the Kansas City Star’s coverage of the case. But that’s not exactly what happened. It stands to reason the station may have been able to avoid further angering Patton – and avoid the subsequent lawsuit – if it had acted quickly when Patton spoke with program director Scott Geiger hours after the bit aired. According to court records, during that conversation, Geiger questioned Patton’s statement that she was not a porn star, even asking her, “How do you know that you’re not a porn star?” He also promised to call her back after investigating the incident but never did.
Radio America to Syndicate ‘Financial Myth Busting.’ The weekend program “Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett” is being syndicated nationally by Radio America. The show is described as being “designed to help Americans separate financial facts from fallacies.” Host Dawn Bennett is the CEO of Bennett Group Financial Services and she says, “Our message of being true to what is really happening in the financial world as it relates to geopolitical events has struck a chord with listeners. We’ve brought an array of guests on the show to report on subjects that deserve more attention. Partnering with Radio America allows us to take these important ideas to a much larger audience, and I couldn’t be more excited.” Radio America COO Mike Paradiso adds, “Dawn has a way of cutting through the noise and providing clarity in the cluttered world of financial and economic opinion.”
Accepting the Buckley Award for Media Excellence. WABC, New York-based and nationally syndicated talk personality Mark Levin is pictured here accepting the William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence from the Media Research Center at its 2014 Gala on Thursday, September 25, 2014. Levin joins conservative broadcasters Rush Limbaugh, the late Tony Snow, and Brit Hume as a recipient of the award. During his acceptance speech, Levin made a case for Republican candidates to return to the conservative principles of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley.
Odds & Sods. In honor of the 25th anniversary of news personality Brian Lehrer’s time with WNYC, the New York public radio outlet is airing a special program titled, “25 Years in 25 Days: Then and Now with Brian Lehrer.” The “five-week series takes a look back at the defining global and local news stories from each year that Lehrer has been on the air.”…..The United Nations Department of Public Information announces the debut of audio news available to broadcasters via its new in-language mobile app. Audio content from the United Nations in eight languages is now accessible. Covering meetings and events at UN Headquarters in New York, UN Radio also produces news features and analyses on a variety of social, political, economic, development and cultural issues involving the UN and its work.
BRADENTON, Fla. — Topic A in all conversations I have with broadcasters is about radio’s pending doom. The woe-is-me and the finger pointing invariably aims at our new-tech world where anybody can be a talk show host if they possess one of the many available space-age devices… and anybody can listen to an infinite number of unlicensed shows and networks on a variety of readily available “devices” that are not AM/FM “radios.” I hesitate to name these devices because by the time I finish this sentence there will be a new one.
This is the easiest way to cast blame without looking into our own house. I listen to a lot of radio and have a whole bunch of radios around my home and office from big, boxy ones to a couple real tiny ones that’ll fit into my pocket as I do my exercise hike around the neighborhood.
BRADENTON, FL — One of the many valuable side-effects of attending a TALKERS conference is the opportunity to meet face-to-face with a number of folks with whom you communicate only by phone or email. In addition to the onstage presentations at Talkers New York 2014 held this past Friday (6/20), it was a unique opportunity to discuss and explore some of the current challenges facing the talk media — particularly those offered only moments prior from the podium. At lunch, between sessions and during the cocktail hour I found myself in the midst of several of these spirited exchanges.
Regarding the slowly, stuttering recovery of the national economy, within my various knots of conversers, it was clear that one issue dominated all others — advertising sales. It was agreed that sales never have been really easy, but one element of the process has become far more important. It is servicing the account after the sale has been made. All acknowledged that advertisers are demanding more attention, reassurance and hand holding. And in the medium and larger markets, their obsession with having a digital component connected to just about all packages can be positively maddening. On the local level, especially in the small markets (which remain extremely important in my book) mere occasional contact and messaging no longer are sufficient in the current atmosphere.