Category: Features

MEET BRENT & MEG: Genesis of an Energizing Mid-Day Partnership

| June 18, 2014

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

 

kinosianlgLOS ANGELES —Journey back to the “Golden Age” of radio and television, and, you will promptly ascertain that, especially in terms of audience acceptance, pairing a real-life husband and wife was a brilliant programming strategy that tended to produce blockbuster results.

ozzie and harrietConsider such instantly familiar classic examples as George Burns & Gracie Allen; Desi Arnaz & Lucille Ball; Ozzie & Harriet Nelson; and Jim & Marian Jordan as “Fibber McGee & Molly,” whose 24-year radio run concluded in 1959.

Contemporary “Windy City” radio partisans will surely cite “Don Wade & Roma,” who were staples on WLS-AM, Chicago for over 25 years; Don Wade succumbed to brain cancer last September.

brent and meg_61714 A 72 dpiFairly recently (then-married) couples Chet Curtis & Natalie Jacobson on Boston’s WCVB-TV, and Jim Lampley & Bree Walker on Los Angeles’ KCBS-TV co-anchored the news together on their respective stations; 74-year-old Curtis lost his fight against pancreatic cancer five months ago.

These are simply representative examples (certainly not approaching a definitive list) of the effective, albeit not now revolutionary concept.

Consequently, while it will hardly be precedent setting when Los Angeles-based Brent Seltzer and his wife Meg McDonald debut next Monday (6/23) on the Genesis Communications Network for their daily, two-hour (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, ET) broadcast, it nonetheless promises to be a wonderfully refreshing burst of fresh air to talk radio.

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National Journalism Center Plays a Supportive Role with Talk Radio and Media’s Youth

| June 17, 2014

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

 

mckayjeffWilbur, Kirby 2014WASHINGTON, DC — In the era of industry-wide consolidation and moves to cut costs with syndication over local talk hosts, longtime radio and media veteran Kirby Wilbur could be the poster child for reinventing a career while helping others to start their own.  Washington, DC-born and Seattle-raised, Wilbur made a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest not from his job as a real estate appraiser, but as a frequent caller to talk shows, a non-paid “hobby” that ultimately led him to his own talk show on KVI in 1993.  For the next 16 years, he was a staple on Seattle airwaves, along with numerous appearances on TALKERS magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list of the most important radio talk show hosts in America, and also as a fill-in host for the Sean Hannity Show, until he was cut loose from KVI in October, 2009.

Fortunately for Wilbur, his Republican ideology, political activism and ability to articulate points allowed him to move directly into politics, becoming the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party.  During his tenure, Republicans picked up majorities in the Washington State House and State Senate.  However, an offer came his way that has not only changed him, but is also developing a new generation of members of the media.

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Livestream Connects Talk Radio with Visual Platform

| June 6, 2014

Company to play major role at forthcoming Talkers New York 2014 

 

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

 

kinosianlgLOS ANGELES —Radio’s collective resume is remarkably rich with astounding seminal moments and some breathtaking benchmark events; however, open for conjecture, of course, is the one singularly most important to the medium.

Few can dispute that a 62-minute October 30, 1938 segment would be at – or near – the top of a multitude of related “Top 10″ lists.

That was when, without commercial interruption, the CBS Radio Network aired “The Mercury Theater on the Air” adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel “The War of the Worlds.” Directed, narrated, and starring Orson Welles, the program suggested that a Martian invasion was in progress.

As much as any other solitary program, this particular stunning piece of radio history was responsible for linking the medium to the term “theater of the mind.”

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Meet Ken Rutkowski

| May 12, 2014

Second of two-part special on “Business Rockstars”

Quintessential connected host not stuck in a rut

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

 

kinosianLOS ANGELES — Connoisseurs of the fine art of the interview — and it truly is an art form — relish the opportunity to study Charlie Rose as he masterfully plies his craft nightly on PBS.

Roundtable one-on-one settings featuring the amiable Rose are clinics that more often than not uncover fascinating layers to his intriguing guests.


Amazing Stories

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Biz Biggies Rock On

| May 8, 2014

The colorful history and present-day innovation of industry entrepreneur Steve Lehman

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

 

kinosianLOS ANGELESSeveral enterprising Los Angeles radio station employees in the mid-1980s ingeniously laid the foundation for what would become one of the most renowned, esteemed radio syndication companies this medium has witnessed.

Generally corroborated is that the initial investment for Premiere Radio Networks was a modest $30,000, which in turn helped to trigger first-year advertising billing for the novice venture in the neighborhood of $2 million.

By any standard, that qualifies as an ultra-impressive, if not eye-popping, startup. More than a quarter of a century later, that figure has ballooned by 200 times.

As a result, it is perhaps not one bit surprising that one of the chief architects of that empire again has his creative juices flowing with a project involving the fates and fortunes of fellow industrialists.

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Catching Up with Lionel

| March 31, 2014

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast

 

kinosianLOS ANGELES — Recording artists running the gamut from Bing Crosby to Sam Cooke to Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross (among others) have wonderfully warbled to remind us that the “The Best Things in Life Are Free.”

A 1956 film that starred Gordon MacRae accentuated the point as well.

Offering a different take in the predominantly uplifting sentiment are the Beatles, who – while acknowledging the fact – nonetheless suggested those “free” things could be kept in exchange for “money” – but – that’s another story.

Smart, Funny, and Unedited

Back to the positive point: Words are free and no one in talk radio is more adroit, melodious, and astute in his splendidLionel large employment of the vocabulary than brilliantly witty Lionel, who generously remarks, “If you like my words – take them – they are not mine [anyway], they are yours. As a sesquipedalian and a logophile, I love the mother tongue. Do not marvel at the fancy words. It is part of who I am. I will never try to make people feel stupid. People love smart and funny – they crave it.”

These days, not only does Lionel get to demonstrate how deliciously lovely the language may be when utilized with panache, he also offers a veritable talk radio clinic.

On one hand, it is a fresh and innovative concept, while on the other, there is enormous simplicity to a back-to-the-basics approach. “It came about through the genius, foresight, and wherewithal of [TALKERS publisher] Michael Harrison,” Lionel comments of his Saturday, 9:00 am – 10:00 am ET TalkersRadio show. “It is just a joy and Michael is the preeminent voice in talk radio. Since the beginning, he has told me what I need to do must be the best.”

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Inside SportsTalkBoston.com

| March 26, 2014

Sports Media Personality Glenn Ordway’s Multi-Platform Venture Is Off and Running

 

By Jason Wolfe
Chief Content Officer
SportsTalkBoston.com

 

wolfejasonwriterBOSTON — I’ve worked in sports radio my entire broadcast career. When I graduated from Syracuse in 1989, I was privileged to land a job in my hometown of Boston right out of college. Talk about young and green. I didn’t have any idea what radio was all about at that time. I just knew I loved it. Twenty-four years later, it’s amazing how much the medium, and the industry, have changed.

In the old days, hosts flipped on the microphone, yapped about their teams, took calls from passionate fans whose very lives seemingly depended on the outcome of the games, and threw in numerous guests to provide more insight into the topic at hand. It was a pretty simple formula. Information ruled the day and that’s what we did, discuss the information.

Nowadays, to be successful in sports talk radio, and most formats, it’s about much more than providing information. Listeners sportstalkboston logoalready have the information you want to discuss, even before you get to the station. You need opinions, humor, edge, attitude, and most of all personality. Fans will listen to hosts they love, and those they hate, because of the personality that exists in both. Personality breeds engagement. Engagement breeds loyalty.  Loyalty breeds ratings and ratings breed revenue. That is the formula hosts and shows need to embrace today if they want to win.

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Farewell to a Jim Dandy Gentleman

| March 5, 2014

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

Jim Lange #3kinosianLOS ANGELES — The broadcasting industry took another hit last week as Jim Lange succumbed to a heart attack.

In much the same way the late Dick Clark never seemed to age, some were shocked that the always youthful-looking Lange was actually 81 when he passed away at his Mill Valley, California home.

Several years ago – during my tenure as special features editor for the trade publication Inside Radio – the two of us had an extended conversation; the result was one of my in-depth personality profiles.

That chat laid the foundation for what became a continuing friendship. It was a privilege to remain in contact with the gracious and hospitable Lange, who was most deserving of the “Gentleman Jim” handle.

As a tribute, here are edited/condensed/updated highlights from that profile, which began by theorizing, if those at Guinness ever concocted a world record category for “Person Throwing The Most Kisses on Television,” Lange would be the hands-down winner.

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Part Three – “Radio is Beyond Radio Now”

| February 12, 2014

TALKERS Three-Part Special Feature

The Vision of Envision: The Rise of Radio Syndication Entrepreneur Danno Wolkoff and an Emerging Independent Powerhouse

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special features Correspondent

 

mckayjeffNEW YORK — Since he ventured out on his own and started what has become not only a highly successful syndication company, but one that can truly serve the needs of both the largest and even the smallest radio station, Danno Wolkoff has known that he cannot simply rest on his laurels.  Wolkoff will be the first to admit that his company, in order to be and remain successful, must change with radio’s changing times from how companies do business and manage their own businesses, to how companies must do more with less, and the ever-changing technology that could cost a company listeners and their survival.

Envision Networks has changed with the changing times in radio, something Wolkoff identifies as being driven by technology which is now the catalyst for these changes and placing traditional radio at a crossroads.

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Part Two – Taking the Vision and Creating Envision

| February 11, 2014

TALKERS Three-Part Special Feature

The Vision of Envision: The Rise of Radio Syndication Entrepreneur Danno Wolkoff and an Emerging Independent Powerhouse

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special features Correspondent

 

mckayjeffNEW YORK — When Clear Channel came along and bought MJI Broadcasting in November, 1999, and then merging them into Premiere Networks, the idea of leaving and starting his own company was far from his thoughts.  However, Danno Wolkoff soon found out that creating new programs he was trying to push wasn’t in the plans for Premiere at that time, told simply, “If we want a new show we’ll buy it,” which included shows like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  Wolkoff realized his future wasn’t at Premiere.

At MJI, Wolkoff was accustomed to building programs from the ground-up.  This was not how Premiere was operating at the time, and realizing that sooner or later the end could come for him at Clear Channel and Premiere, Wolkoff began devising “Plan B.”  The question for Wolkoff would be in which direction should he go, to work for someone as he had his entire career to-date, or start his own company?

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Part One – ‘I Didn’t See a Future for Me in Radio’

| February 10, 2014

TALKERS Three-Part Special Feature

The Vision of Envision: The Rise of Radio Syndication Entrepreneur Danno Wolkoff and an Emerging Independent Powerhouse

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special features Correspondent

mckayjeffwolkoffdannoNEW YORK — Like many people who go to college with a plan for what they want to do when they graduate, Danno Wolkoff went to Syracuse University with a goal to wind up in television production.  Fate, and the prodding from senior management at MJI Broadcasting instead sent him in the direction of sales and affiliate relations.  Wolkoff discovered he had a gift for sales, and doubled his income in one year.  It was through sales and affiliate relations work that he climbed the corporate ladder at MJI, expanding and growing their sales offices nationwide.  When Clear Channel acquired MJI and merged it into Premiere Radio Networks, he became VP of Affiliate Relations.

However, it wasn’t long before he began to realize that the hands-on and creative approach he had at MJI wasn’t translating to the growth concepts and business model of Premiere and Clear Channel.  Wolkoff faced a career crossroad, and would make a decision that would change his life and become an important source of programming and services for radio.

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Not the Same-Old, Same-Old

| February 10, 2014

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

 

kinosianLOS ANGELES — Tremendous temptation surfaces in the years of profiling talk radio personalities to make an occasional obligatory James Brown-inspired reference.

Specifically, a justifiable desire eventuates to compare certain talk hosts to the late entertainer (as opposed to the CBS-TV and former Sporting News Radio broadcaster of the same name) who – in addition to “The Godfather of Soul” was often dubbed the “hardest-working” person in show business.

Not that those in other genres of this medium are slackers – Ryan Seacrest represents the definitive textbook example of a supremely ambitious music radio star – but a select group of talk radio hosts do the improbable of overseeing multiple long-form weekday programs (often back-to-back).

That handful of Herculean talk realm performers has at various times included, among others, the likes of Thom Hartmann, Rusty Humphries, Lars Larson, Michael Smerconish, and Ed Schultz.  Some such as Alan Colmes and Sean Hannity have had and continue to have a daily radio/daily TV mix.

As laudatory as that most assuredly is, someone in Tampa took conscientiousness and mindboggling to an even more impressive level.

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Alex Bennett: Still Pioneering After All These Years

Alex Bennett: Still Pioneering After All These Years

| February 5, 2014

A Good Listen to a Good Guy 

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

 

kinosianLOS ANGELESSome view their own age and/or that of others as a roadblock – a barrier to achieving an untold number of additional hopes and dreams.

To others, age – more correctly – is merely a meaningless number with no attached strings or restrictions.

Alex Bennett #1It would have been quite easy and understandable for Alex Bennett to take leave and retreat from the business in which he has been an integral part for several decades. After all, the legendary broadcaster was 73 years old when Sirius XM unceremoniously pink-slipped him last June after more than nine years of service at the satcaster (he turned 74 two months ago).

Notwithstanding an imposing and lengthy list of accomplishments and vitae, which the native Californian could trumpet as an entree to retirement, he has become an entrepreneur with “Alex Bennett’s Great American Broadcasts” being the centerpiece of his novel take to talk radio.

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Radio’s Version of the Olympics Now Underway

| January 20, 2014

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

 

LOS ANGELES — Thanks to the Olympic Games, the world comes together every four years through athletic competition.

The radio industry has its own equivalent of that each year, but unlike what will take place next month in Sochi (Russia, 2/7-23) – there will not be any heated bobsled or luge rivalries.

As part of the New York Festivals’ “World’s Best Radio Programs,” entrants will be evaluated on what they do best, and it has been that way ever since these particular honors were established in 1982.
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Heeding Headlines Has Gallagher Playing the Hits

| January 13, 2014

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Neither long ago (relatively speaking) nor far away in some remote galaxy, teenagers were so routinely enthralled by their local radio station of choice that summoning up the courage to actually go visit it was a personal seminal moment.

When one Dayton high school junior made such a trek in 1978, nothing short of a series of mind-boggling events followed.

Eager to see what his favorite facility looked like, this 17-year-old requested a tour, and what immediately caught his attention wasn’t a piece of equipment or seeing someone involved in the on-air process. Rather, it was a bulletin board memo, which read that the station was “still looking for a young talk-master.”

Completely fearless, he knocked on the program director’s door and confidently declared he could do that. As luck would have it, the night talent at the talk station was out with the flu.

Improbable reality number one was that, while the PD had planned to fill-in for his ailing talent, he remarkably, inexplicably said the young visitor should go ahead and give talk radio hosting a try – that night.

Either the program director was one of the foremost assessors of raw talent imaginable or, at the other end of the spectrum, had temporarily taken leave of his senses.

Regardless, the high school student did a four-hour shift and was so impressive in what was – in essence – an on-air audition that, defying logic, he was hired.

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TalkersRadio Hits the Ground Running for 2014 with New Hosts, Shows and Programming Directions

| January 10, 2014

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS
VP/Executive Editor

caseywriter (2)TalkersRadio logo 300SPRINGFIELD, MA – TalkersRadio, the “experimental” talk radio station launched last fall by TALKERS magazine to provide the industry with a “work out space” and “showcase for new talk programming concepts” has, according to its general manager David Bernstein, “hit the ground running” in 2014 with the announcement of several new hosts and shows scheduled to join its programming roster this month.

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Industry Mourns Talk Pioneer Bob Grant

| January 2, 2014

NEW YORK — Bob Grant, who ranked eleventh in TALKERS magazine’s 20th anniversary Heaviest Hundred (published in 2010), which lists “the 100 most important radio talk show hosts of all time,” died on December 31 at  84 years old after a brief illness.

grantbobGrant, whose signature opening line in New York radio was “Let’s be heard!,” drove his rollercoaster career through numerous stations in New York City where listeners followed some of the more racially-charged issues in town.

Brash and confident for a guy who stood 5-foot seven, Grant was described by TALKERS in the July/August 2010 issue as an “infamous watchdog of public figures, 40-plus years in New York radio.”

Upon learning of Grant’s death, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison stated, “He was a founding father of modern talk radio whose influence on broadcasting technique, style and societal role go way beyond the boundaries of conservative broadcasting.”

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The Miracle of ‘A Christmas Story’

| January 2, 2014
By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
Chairman
 
sabowriterNEW YORK — The movie, “A Christmas Story,” is based on the synthesis of dozens of radio monologues created and delivered by Jean Shepherd.  Jean broadcast on WOR New York from 1958-1975.  His nightly monologues were not bedtime stories.  They were subversive proclamations, challenging authority wrapped in imagery of American traditions.  You can hear off-the-board airchecks of Shepherd here: http://www.flicklives.com/
 
Jean worked without a script, but with massive prep.  Some of his shows took months to come to fruition in his imagination.  He recorded every show.

Female Erotic-Media Entrepreneur Finding Interested Audiences as “Change-of-Pace” Talk Show Guest

| December 20, 2013

By David Bernstein
TalkersRadio
General Manager

 

bernsteindavidwriterNEW HAMPSHIRE — At a time when most news/talk stations are seeking two things to keep the format vibrant and growing – 1) relevant topics that go beyond right-versus-left politics and 2) programming that would be attractive to more female listeners without turning off men – Angie Rowntree is finding appreciation among hosts and producers as the perfect “change-of-pace” guest.  Simply put, Angie Rowntree’s business is communicating about sex.

As the operator of the world’s largest “porn for women” site, Sssh.com, Angie has spent the last 14 years doing a lot of what you might assume someone running an erotic website does – like writing and directing adult entertainment movies – but a good deal of that time has also been spent doing something you might not expect from a pornographic entrepreneur: listening.

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Unlikely To Steal This Pittsburgh Pair’s Spirit

| December 12, 2013

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS magazine

LOS ANGELESDazzling omnipresent decorations, magnificent multi-colored lights, hastening hustle and bustle, and a brisk icy chill in the air all underscore that this indisputably is the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Even the most adamant skeptic will find corroboration and confirmation of that fact, simply by turning to at least one local FM music outlet that has transitioned to playing wall-to-wall Christmas tunes.

On such dedicated dial positions, listeners will instantly hear artists from Andy Williams to Garth Brooks to Harry Connick, Jr. to Amy Grant wonderfully warbling about the warm joys crystallized in this “hap-happiest season of all.”

Contemplative scene thoughts of “parties for hosting” and “marshmallows for toasting” support the heartwarming notion.

Visions of sugarplums dance in our collective heads, yet some radio historians cannot help but ratchet up dour “Debbie Downer,” the “SNL” character superbly portrayed by Lexington, Massachusetts native Rachel Dratch. Punctuated with a delivery that sucks the life and enthusiasm from any room, Debbie Downer would suggest this is anything but the happiest season of all, especially in radio.

Some heartless, dastardly things have transpired post-Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day over the years in this business.

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Aaron Klein Takes Breaking News and Investigative Talk Radio to a New Level

| November 13, 2013

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

mckayjeffKlein feature picNEW YORK — Aaron Klein simply breaks all of the stereotypes of today’s talk show hosts.  He’s just 34 years old.  He does not lean liberal or conservative, nor does he speak in political talking points.  He does not love or hate President Obama, or stand on the ground of anyone’s political party.  He’s an accomplished author of six books with another blockbuster on the way.  His radio show doesn’t just talk about the news – in many cases it breaks the news – broadcasting half a world away.

Klein grew up in a tight-knit community of orthodox Jews in Philadelphia, and eventually moved to New York City where he attended Yeshiva University.  It wasn’t long before he joined the student newspaper, and became editor.  If he wasn’t hooked to the media by that time, a powerful report in the college newspaper led to the school removing issues of his newspaper.  That action led to the threat of a lawsuit against the university.  The school backed down and discontinued their practice.

Like many people in radio, Klein never really planned on the media as a career.

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Being “Politically Incoherent” Pays Off For “Rocky Mountain Mike”

| November 1, 2013

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

LOS ANGELES — Before the days of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, when it came to politics some of the most interesting political comments came from music parodies and comedians.  You don’t really hear much political satire on the radio these days, but that may change.  A longtime radio host and producer has joined forces with a longtime entertainment industry executive to put together a political comedy CD that has hit the top of the comedy CD charts in just the initial two weeks of release.  For Michael Hardeman and Marshall Blonstein, being politically correct means being “Politically Incoherent.”

Los Angeles-born-and-raised Marshall Blonstein is the former founder and president of the music labels Audio Fidelity and DCC Compact Classics.  He has also held positions at Island, ABC and Epic Records, and is the founder of Morada Music and Video, based in LA.

Mike Hardeman is also known as “Rocky Mountain Mike,” a satirical writer, producer, musician and performer.  He got his start 40 years ago on radio in KXOJ-AM in the Tulsa suburb of Sapulpa, Oklahoma.  Hardeman had stops along the way at other stations, along with ABC Radio Networks in Dallas where he hosted a nationwide country music countdown show for several years.

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30 Candles for Horn’s CRN

| October 28, 2013

Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS magazine

 

LOS ANGELES — Akin to never coming across a more vocal emissary or advocate about the game of baseball than former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, the radio industry would be hard-pressed to find a livelier ambassador than Mike Horn.

Thirty years ago, Horn had what, at the time, was considered a wild, if not inconceivable notion of placing radio station audio onto cable television systems around the country.

Whether or not such a wacky idea would survive three decades down the road is not something over which Horn anguished. Instead, he immersed himself in concentrating on doing something new and different.

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Talkers Los Angeles 2013 a Sold-Out Success

| October 14, 2013

Photos by Matthew B. Harrison

LOS ANGELES — More than 250 radio and associated industry professionals gathered and 55 speakers participated in a non-stop day of speeches, special presentations, and panel discussions tackling the major issues facing the talk media industry at Talkers Los Angeles 2013 this past Thursday (10/10).

1Acrowdshot

Segment of capacity crowd packing seats in the Steve Allen Theater at Talkers Los Angeles 2013.

Among the major issues covered were the growing need for the radio industry to have an accurate cross-platform ratings system; develop new ways to program commercials that generate results for the advertisers without chasing away listeners; explore new spoken-word formats that tap into unfulfilled opportunities; attract younger demos to talk radio; and bring back more live and local programming to the broadcast day.

 

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Profile: Bill Meyer of KMED, Medford, Oregon

| October 1, 2013

Serving Local Listeners – A Blueprint for Talk Success

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

MEDFORD — If you leave Portland, Oregon and head just over four hours south down Interstate 5, before you reach the California border you’ll drive right into the town of Medford.  About 75 miles inland through rugged terrain from the Pacific Ocean, Medford is a small town with a population of 76,000, but is also an economic hub for Southern Oregon and a home for the state’s growing wine industry.

KMED logoMedford is also the home of KMED-AM (1440), a news/talk station owned by Bicoastal Media and the oldest radio station in Medford.  It’s weekday lineup includes syndicated conservatives Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, along with Glenn Beck and Alex Jones.  However, what drives the station is their morning show, and Bill Meyer has not only made the morning show his own, he has been able to create a blueprint of how to package a large market type of local show and imprint that on a small market audience, giving the station a very sellable show, while the listeners get the interaction and local flavor they would not get with a nationally syndicated program.

And, he does it all on his own – without a show producer.

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Memorable Marilu Is One Unforgettable Babe

| September 24, 2013

Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS magazine

Marilu HennerLOS ANGELESAnyone hosting a mega-dinner party or similar major celebratory event generally grapples with several thorny dynamics.

There is the matter of the smartest person in the room, who regrettably tends to display Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s litany of quirky behaviorisms, an instant buzz-kill in the personality department, although massive ratings for CBS-TV’s “Big Bang Theory”.

Conversely, one particular attendee is bound to exude a certain magnetism that commands instant attention, making them the clear-cut focal point.

Often, although not always, an overwhelming contributing factor to that charisma is a person’s striking good looks and/or extraordinary talent.

One would hit the proverbial jackpot by inviting Marilu Henner, as she would be the most astute person in virtually any setting yet free of all baggage – social graces or otherwise. Unquestionably, she would be the most exuberant one there with numerous qualities including an indescribable spark that lures interest. If that were not already sufficient, the well-known actress remains extremely stunning.

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Taking Care of Business

| September 12, 2013

Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS magazine

  LOS ANGELESThose fancying a career in radio typically lead a nomadic existence, as they pay their dues in small markets and relocate numerous times – often before even reaching their 30th birthday.

Tom Sullivan 150Such was not the case however for Tom Sullivan, whose resumé cites just one radio station – Sacramento’s heritage talk outlet KFBK.

Fox News RadioFor the past six years, Sullivan has hosted a three-hour (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm) show on Fox News Radio and he can be seen weekends fronting his own program on the Fox Business Channel.


First Social Media

As a teenager growing up in Seattle, Sullivan made it a top priority to meet one of the Emerald City’s major radio personalities, who graciously wound up asking if he wanted to get a first-hand look at how radio works. “I hung out with him during his shift,” Sullivan fondly recalls. “I had that interest in radio then, but I think many [others that age] did at the time because that is where we got our music. Radio was our social world.”

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Creating a Worldwide Network –
One “Hobby” Station at a Time

| August 27, 2013

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

COWLINGTON, Oklahoma — When you think of syndicators, you think of giants like Premiere or Dial Global.  When you think of radio stations that carry syndicated programs, heritage stations like New York City’s WABC and KABC  in Los Angeles come to mind.  What you don’t think is a syndicator setting up their operation, or their entire radio station’s operation, in a bedroom in their home located in rural Oklahoma.  You also don’t think anyone working out of a room about the size of a one-car garage distributing 24 hour programming, seven days-a-week on three continents.  What you also don’t think is that anyone can do all of this, with an operating budget that equals the pay before taxes of a young adult working full-time at a fast-food restaurant.

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ALEX BENNETT at 73: True Radio Pioneer

| August 9, 2013

Raising the Digital Frontier Bar One “Great American Broadcast” at a Time

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

NEW YORK — The one thing you can never say is that Alex Bennett is not ahead of his time.  Bennett can stake a claim to the fact he may be the only one who has successfully climbed the ladder from the smallest of radio markets to the top market in terrestrial radio, worked on the air as a talk host on satellite radio, and have made the transition to the audio and video digital frontier in a way nobody else has.  It also appears that being 73-years young, he has no plans to hang up his headphones or power down his bandwidth anytime soon.

Bennett was born in 1939, when NBC’s Red Network had an affiliate in Havana, Cuba, and a few months before radio shows like “Truth or Consequences” and “The Adventures of Superman” debuted on the air.  Much like those “firsts,” Bennett would soon prepare to venture into radio and create a few “firsts” of his own.

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Coasting to Victory Outside the Mainstream

| July 30, 2013

Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS magazine

LOS ANGELES — Summon up the term “theater-of-the-mind” and hardcore historians of the medium will instantly link it to what many consider one of radio’s authentic seminal points.  In fact, roughly three months from now, that benchmark event will celebrate its 75th anniversary.

Rewind the clock to Halloween 1938, when a then-23-year-old Orson Welles and The Mercury Theater terrified America with “The War of the Worlds.”

Albeit that some classified the adaptation of an alien invasion as a tremendous hoax or fraud, it was inarguably compelling radio.

In its own way, such theater – or mystery – of the mind surfaces nightly on Premiere Radio’s four-hour (1:00am – 5:00am, Eastern Time) “Coast To Coast AM,” overseen with graceful aplomb by the tremendously eloquent George Noory.

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Finding Radio Advertising Solutions

| July 17, 2013

Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS magazine

LOS ANGELESUse the word “creative” in a radio context and the first thing generally summoned up is a programmer spinning a different take on a music format, or as an application to that extremely rare, exceptional on-air personality who is capable of generating substantial buzz.

Infrequently though is it linked in a word-association game to commercials, which is not only distressing, but highly unfortunate since creative commercial content can be a strong attribute.

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Can Internet Radio Reignite a Career?
Ask “Radio George”

| July 1, 2013

By Jeff McKay
RadioInfo
Special Features Correspondent

KANSAS CITY — When you’re in radio and you lose your job, in almost all cases you begin looking for another job at another radio station, whether it’s in the same city or another market.  For some, the intrigue of the internet brings them to the digital frontier.  If the choice becomes the digital divide, then the question then becomes, “How can you make money?”

For that answer, you can ask “Radio George.”

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Ben Fuchs: An “Alternative” Approach to Health as Well as Radio Syndication

| May 30, 2013

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

5154164 croppedNEW YORK — While conservative political talk radio still dominates the AM/FM commercial spoken word air waves, pharmacist Ben Fuchs proves syndication, and talk radio in general, can come in many forms.  In the case of Fuchs, the host of the nationally syndicated Genesis Communications Network (GCN) radio program “The Bright Side,” he has become a thorn in the side of the pharmaceutical industry by becoming an advocate for better nutrition and a natural healing approach, because, as he says, “I look at the human body as a healing and regenerating system.”

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Talking in the UK: Perspectives from an American Talk Show Host Working in London

| May 20, 2013

By Charlie Wolf

wolfcharlietalksportLONDON — Working in London, England, as an American talk show host has its challenges.  For instance, for the first two-three years of my six year stint as a host on commercial national talk station, TalkSPORT, (Talk Radio UK) doing a political/news-based show – it was the audience’s view that I was not allowed an opinion at all, either as a host and especially as a “Yank.”

bbcFor years on the BBC – where there is “speech radio” (drama, news, news analysis – and done very well) there had been very little interactive talk, and even then the host – though he would occasionally explore or challenge a point – was mostly a moderator not an instigator or opinion former.  Talk shows on the BBC, now more opinionated than they used to be, are very much in the mould of “on the one hand there is …. But on the other hand…. what do you think?”  British radio – due to over-regulation, a fairness doctrine, dominant licence funded BBC, a lack of competition, and a “scared-of-one’s-own-shadow” attitude to regulators – will never have a thriving talk radio market as in the US.  There is not the space for talent to truly develop in talk commercially.

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An Open Letter of Advice to Rush Limbaugh

| May 20, 2013

By Dr. John Tantillo
Branding and Marketing Group, Inc.
President

tantillodrNEW YORK – A Letter To Rush Now!

Dear Rush,

We need to talk.

Why?

Because many out there hate your brand (and you) and if nothing is done proactively in the short run, failure is assured in the long run.

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Self-Syndication is Berry, Berry Good

| May 15, 2013

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

Meet Michael Berry

Michael Berry #1LOS ANGELES — Granted, it doesn’t quite convey the magnitude of Howard Stern’s “King of All Media” bravado, but “Czar of Talk Radio” is the tongue-in-cheek manner Michael Berry refers to himself. “If President Obama can name a czar for everything, then I’m the ‘Czar of Talk Radio,’” Berry reasons.

The moniker took off when he started it four years ago and Berry has capitalized on it. “Other talk hosts say they wish they branded it before I did.”

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Catching up with Laura Ingraham

| May 13, 2013

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

Westwood One LogoLOS ANGELES — An even dozen years has elapsed (April 2001) since Westwood One filled its 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET slot with a then-36-year-old, meteoric-rising, dynamo.

TRN revAssociation with the Norm Pattiz-founded syndication powerhouse would last more than two years, before the conservative-slanted talk talent segued to 9:00 am-12:00 noon duties for Talk Radio Network in September 2003.

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Can the Radio Station Overcome Smothering Debt and Become
a Viable Business Again?

| May 2, 2013

Mike Kinosian, Managing Editor
RadioInfo and Talkers

LOS ANGELES — Chalk it up to misreading the economic tealeaves or perhaps to good old-fashioned avarice, but several radio groups have fallen victim to the, “(S)he who has the most toys, wins” hypothesis.

Debt #1Monopoly Board“Winners” managing to run the board in today’s all too real game of Radio Monopoly are rewarded by becoming further ensconced in deeper, darker, debt.

Administer sodium pentothal to a cross-section of radio managers and the overwhelming majority will vociferously state that, owing to its cookie-cutter nature and mounting pressure to deliver grossly unrealistic percentages to the bottom line, the business is no longer fun. Countless executives at high-billing, strong ratings performing outlets have been unduly placed in the gut-wrenching position of laying off personnel and making other vital cutbacks – forced to share the load of paying for what could be considered out-of-control acquisition sins at the corporate level.

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A Serious Loss for Howard Stern

| April 15, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

sternhowardBOSTON — Sometimes it is, as Mel Brooks commented in his movie “The History of the World, Part One,” good to be the king.  But other times it is not.  Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed (and not too far off) “King of All Media” took a hit last week when the dismissal of his lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio, Inc. in which he sought more than $300 million in stock awards was upheld by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.

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2013 NAB Show: “Metamorphosis:
The Changing Face of Media & Entertainment”

| April 9, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

cookeConnectedMediaWorld 150LAS VEGAS –  Even before 90,000 attendees step into the sprawling Convention Center, they expect change.  The Las Vegas Monorail robo-voice invites them to visit The Cloud Computing Pavilion.

Metamorphosis 200Atop the escalator, more evidence of the “Metamorphosis” that is this year’s NAB Show theme: Publication bins stacked with hard copies are being replaced by a wall-o-magazine covers.  Scan the QR code, and you get the digital version.

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Leave It To Leykis To Blow It Up

| March 19, 2013

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

mcmahonfieldmarshallLOS ANGELES — Master marketer Vince McMahon continues to build a vast “Sports Entertainment” empire largely owing to his uncanny knack of giving the “universe” of WWE fans the product they crave, a philosophy congruous with that of Massachusetts-born entrepreneur Marshall Field, who stressed that his Chicago-based department stores should, “Give the lady what she wants.”

Simon & GarfunkelThose taking heed of Messrs. McMahon and Field will – as Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel intoned in 1970 – “Keep the Customer Satisfied” (the “B” side of “Bridge over Troubled Water”).

Not only is the same applicable to an intensely entertaining and astute talk radio personality, it is his program’s cornerstone mantra.

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Keeping It Local is KSCO’s Key to Success

| March 15, 2013

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

SANTA CRUZ, CA — The news/talk radio station in question is not owned by a hedge fund or multi-billion dollar conglomerate.  Their ownership group doesn’t occupy the top floors of a big-city skyscraper.  You will not see the morning or afternoon show brandishing seven-figure contracts, nor the corporate PD flying into town on the company Lear jet, or the “brand manager” moving from market to market implementing new strategies to grow the market cluster.

The fact of the matter is none of the above elements – which have become somewhat commonplace in today’s radio industry – at this station exist.

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Mohr Radio Dreams Come True

| March 4, 2013

By Mike Kinosian
Talkers
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

TLOS ANGELES Anyone connecting the dots to the impressive vitae and past history of one of America’s brightest comics/rock solid actor will not be the least bit astonished that agent “Bob Sugar” in the mid-1990s smash “Jerry Maguire” is on his way to establishing a potent presence in sports talk radio.

Jay MohrSecond-year (2009-2010) plotline for CBS-TV’s “Gary Unmarried” called for its lead character to lessen his role as a housepainter as he transitioned to what he had always wanted to do – host a call-in sports radio program. “It is this crazy scenario that I actually wound up doing in real life what I was doing in a make belief sitcom,” remarks Jay Mohr, whose “Jay Mohr Sports” debuted January 2 on Fox Sports Radio.

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Hey Joe, Where Are You Going with That Mic In Your Hand?

| February 22, 2013

Picking the right topics when working in multiple markets

By Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo
Radio Talk Show Host

 (EDITOR’S NOTE:  Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo – a member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred – is the host of mornings on KPRC, Houston; late afternoons on WOAI, San Antonio; weekends locally on KOA, Denver and weekends nationally on The Weekend show.  He is also a major “go to” fill-in host for such hosts as Glenn Beck, Todd Schnitt and many others.)

pagsjoeHOUSTON/SAN ANTONIO/DENVER/EVERYWHERE –Good morning, Houston.”  “Good afternoon, San Antonio.”  “Happy Saturday, Denver.”  “Good Weekend, America.”  These are all things I’m lucky enough to say either every day or every week.  It’s a supreme compliment to have the support of the stations in these markets and from Clear Channel and Premiere and quite a challenge.  Each show has its own feel, flow and audience make up and reaction.  So, over the last 11 years, I’ve learned what works everywhere and what is market specific.

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Hey Bad Guys – Watch Out!

| February 5, 2013

TALKERS Spotlight: THE WATCHDOGS

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

LOS ANGELES —  Contrasted to national talk radio hosts who can sometimes get deeply mired in a monotonous right against left (or vice versa) onslaught, many of their local counterparts emerge as bona fide folk heroes for standing up against a coterie of injustices inflicted on their fellow residents.

Actions taken by this band of “watchdogs,” in the overwhelming number of instances, have nothing to do with political leanings or a partisan playbook.

johnandkencarrhowieLegendary for rooting out the “bad guys,” afternoon talk hosts “John & Ken” (John Kobylt & Ken Champiou) expose what they consider dirty dealings to their very large audience on Los Angeles’ KFI.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, WRKO, Boston’s Howie Carr is a thorn in the side of the “powers that be” in New England.  Everywhere in between, intense professional satisfaction comes when they go toe-to-toe with pit bull-like tenacity against the establishment. In that same sort of imagery, “hold their feet to the fire” has actually become a talk radio slogan as on-air talents attempt to expose and defeat “the bad guys.”

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Gun Control Issue Surges as Talk Radio Topic

| January 11, 2013

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS magazine

caseywriterSPRINGFIELD, Ma. — The Newtown, Connecticut tragedy has stimulated a tremendous amount of talk about guns in America.  Usually it is one of those topics — like abortion — that hosts and programmers try to avoid because there are seldom new angles and little give and take between sides.  Sandy Hook has changed that.  It is this week’s number one talk radio topic.  So, how have talk hosts and stations been handling this issue?

Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel superstar Sean Hannity says, for him, it’s about more than the isolated issue of America’s gun laws and his programs are approaching it from a larger perspective.  “On the specific issue itself for me it is simple; we protect our money with armed guards, we protect our elected officials with armed guards, and our “Hollywood stars” hannityseanwith armed guards.  If we really want to keep our children safe in school, why not hire retired armed police officers?  Do they deserve less?  Many college campuses already have such guards. The other huge issue I am focused on is the abuse of power and an emerging imperial presidency.  The Constitution is America’s rule of law, we have co-equal branches of Government, separation of powers etc…Obama making recess appointments when the senate is not in recess; Obama using executive orders to adopt amnesty provisions of the failed Dream Act; Biden threatening that executive orders will be used to bypass Congress on the Second Amendment.  Imagine if George Bush tried to bypass Congress on a First Amendment issue!  Pelosi and Democrats are encouraging the president to use the Fourteenth Amendment to bypass Congress and raise the debt ceiling.  All examples of an executive branch power grab.  I am also asking one simple question.  If, God forbid, somebody breaks into your house or place of work, how will you protect yourself?

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December Sports Scoreboard

| January 4, 2013

Conclusion of a Three-Part Special Feature

By Mike Kinosian
Talkers
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

LOS ANGELES — It has been an exciting and historic week in sports radio.

In a special feature series, we have outlined what has been taking place and detailed some possible ramifications.

Our look at the ever-expanding sports format concludes with a December 2012 ratings overview.

Spoken-word stations were particularly vulnerable in the December sweep when at least one station per market generally started playing all-Christmas music.

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Peacock Sports Network Playing The Hits

| January 3, 2013

Part Two of a Special Feature

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — As sure as 2013 has arrived, personal resolutions have been made, and a plethora of prognostications will bombard us.

crystalball130Equally as predictable is that not long into this brand new year, those well-meaning self-promises will be severely compromised, and one’s forecasting ability becomes cloudy-looking, at best.

Here, however, is something that could actually be a trend this year: Don’t be surprised if clusters with multiple talk stations jettison one of those signals to sports.

Associated with that, we very well might witness a spate of under-performing (primarily talk) outlets transition to sports.

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Sports Talk Network Update: Heavyweights Covering All Bases

| January 2, 2013

Part One: CBS Launches New Network

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

LOS ANGELES — “Happy Sports Year!”

That could easily be the battle cry sentiment among ardent fans to welcome 2013, even if it means that many of them will require scorecards to track the whereabouts of some of their favorite sports radio personalities.

A perennial sports talk talent MVP tops the headlines by switching teams, while some new names get to crack opening-day lineups, as not one – but two – national sports networks are being introduced this year, each carrying instantly-recognizable name branding.

One of them in fact, is making its maiden voyage today (Wednesday, January 2) and, if all goes according to plan, many radio station managers and programmers will be echoing that “Happy Sports Year!” declaration in about 11 months as their way of assessing 2013.

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A Tribute to Ray Briem

| December 13, 2012

By Doug McIntyre
KABC, Los Angeles

 

LOS ANGELES — The great talk radio host Ray Briem died yesterday (12/12/12) at age 82.  For nearly 30-years Ray owned overnights in Southern California.  Ray was heard weeknights from Midnight to 5:00 am and his show was mandatory listening for the night people.  Ray was one of the principle architects of the Prop 13 movement in California, providing Howard Jarvis a regular platform to pitch his historic tax reform measure.

Years before anyone was talking about immigration, Ray did a broadcast from a helicopter over the Mexican border to report on the then-rarely discussed but emerging issue.

He was a passionate supporter of big  band music and the great American Songbook and regularly featured interviews with music legends including folks like Les Paul and Artie Shaw and going back in time, Louis Armstrong.  He was invited to Sinatra recording sessions and was in the studio when Sinatra recorded “Come Fly With Me.”

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Eyes and Ears on the Storm

| November 21, 2012

By Mike Kinosian
Talkers 
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

LOS ANGELESAmerican voters are conditioned every four years to believe that the presidential ballot they are about to cast will be the most crucial such decision they will make in their entire lifetimes.

That was certainly a dominant theme of the 2012 campaign, yet less than 10 days before Election Day, something else began percolating that had approximately 20% of the country hitting the “Pause” button to politics: “Sandy.”

Innocuous as the name sounds, “Sandy” unfortunately arrived as advertised and now, weeks later, harsh reality remains in its wake.

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CES Unveiled, Christmas Unwrapped

| November 14, 2012

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

NEW YORK — You’ve seen those lines whenever a new iPhone came out?  During the recession, and now in recovery, consumer electronics (CE) has been a conspicuous bright spot, and will continue to be.  On-track to grow 5.9% to a $206.5 billion business in the USA alone in 2012, CE is projecting a 4.5% increase to $215.8B in the new year.

Each November, the Consumer Electronics Association does a press preview of its Consumer Electronics Show, the mammoth, mind-boggling January convention I cover each year for TALKERS.  Here are my notes…and radio should take note, for four reasons:

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Political Talkers Take Stock of Positioning
in Post-Election Environment

| November 8, 2012

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS magazine
Executive Editor

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Contrary to the stereotype often depicted by the mainstream and political press that news/talk radio hosts all fit a standard model, TALKERS magazine observes that this is hardly the case – especially now that the all-consuming election of 2012 is in the history books and political talk show hosts are assessing their personal position strategies for the new chapter of history at hand.  Actually this is a process that has been in play for several years and not exactly a brand new trend sparked by the election.  Key players such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Jerry Doyle, Rusty Humphries and Michael Smerconish have had significantly different takes on the conservative side of the dial as have hosts the likes of Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Stephanie Miller and Alan Colmes been diverse in their approaches from the left.  However, recently concluded elections – especially presidential contests – have a way of making talent in this arena reassess and reflect upon their strategies.

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Be Prepared for What Could be Another
Perfect Storm

| October 25, 2012

By Howard B. Price, CBCP/MBCI
ABC News
Director of Business Continuity and Crisis Management

NEW YORK — Last year, it was the Halloween Snowprise – an early cold snap fed by a lot of moisture that produced a foot of snow in some places, and felled leaf-laden trees and power lines, blacking out parts of the northeast US for days.

This year – Halloween Week could bring a trick some meteorologists are already calling “potentially historic” –  a strong tropical storm or hurricane named Sandy, with the Northeast again in the crosshairs.

This rare climatic event could be what one network weather anchor called an “atmospheric bomb” – produced by a hurricane colliding head-on with a strong cold front. The jet stream bows northward as it approaches the coast, sucking the storm closer to land, instead of pushing it out to sea.

The scenario is eerily reminiscent of the 1991 “Perfect Storm,” which left 12 people dead and more than $200 million in damage after it slammed into the East Coast. Power outages and flooding were widespread.

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President Obama Calls in to Tom Joyner Morning Show and Discusses Debate

| October 10, 2012

DALLAS — This morning (10/10) on the Tom Joyner Morning Show President Barack Obama called in and spoke to Tom Joyner and Sybil Wilkes about the debate, the importance of voting, his focus on the African American Community, and his thoughts on winning this tight election.  The following is a key excerpt from that exclusive interview:

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The Young Guns of Talk Radio

| September 27, 2012

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS magazine
Executive Editor

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – There’s a perception held by many – especially those working in the consumer media – that all talk show hosts doing shows on news/talk stations are men 50 years of age or older.  They further postulate that when those hosts retire (or die!) there will be no one left to work in the format.

Given the radio industry’s general lack of a farm system, it’s hard to blame those who think it’s an industry of old white men.  But the truth is there are young people breaking into talk radio and working successfully at stations across the country.  We asked some of them what influence they believe their youth plays in hosting a radio talk show on a news/talk station.

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Even Late – Political Dollars Are Great

| September 27, 2012

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS magazine
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief

With less than six weeks remaining before the presidential election, radio account executives in battleground or “swing states” such as Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Colorado are most likely experiencing carpal tunnel, owing to the fast and furious amount of sales orders they are writing.

In locales however where the race for the White House is already a forgone conclusion (“Blue” or “Red”), things are generally not as rosy – at least not yet.  “With the exception of a few states, there does seem to be a lull,” observes Portland (Maine) Radio Group president/general manager Cary Pahigian.

Huddling with several national rep folks last week in Dallas though, Pahigian was told some political dollars could be forthcoming as we inch closer to Election Day on November 6.  “Their advice is to hang on and expect some late money,” he notes.

That slow ramp-up has been somewhat of a pattern the last couple of years.  “Depending on the landscape and circumstances, television is first in line and radio is second,” Pahigian reports.  “Everything changes though if there are issues and/or a tight race going on.”

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Where Radio Fits: Radio’s Strengths
in the Media Landscape

| September 26, 2012

by Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

DALLAS — This was the best session I attended at the NAB/RAB Radio Show.  A summary is available for free download on Arbitron’s client website.  This document is a powerful selling tool, and real instructive to programmers and on-air talent…especially on-air talent that sells (and smart on-air talent does).

The presenter was Arbitron senior VP/marketing Bill Rose: “Radio provides opportunities to reach consumers when advertising is relevant to what they are doing.”

The sample for this study is “the buying demographic of 25-54, because that’s where the money is,” per conventional wisdom.  Data Bill presented was from USA Touchpoints, a national sample that captures media usage, shopping behavior, emotional mindset, via smartphone app, every half hour, from 10-day panelists.

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The Adventures of “Poorman”

| September 4, 2012

By Fred Lundgren
KCAA, San Bernadino/Riverside
CEO/President

SAN BERNADINO — Jim Trenton, the original “Poorman” of California radio and creator of Loveline will turn 60 next year. The fame he enjoyed while co-hosting the show has become a distant memory. The successful radio and TV series is primarily associated with Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Trenton’s stardom quickly faded after he was fired from Loveline for encouraging thousands of listeners to join him for a midnight surprise birthday party on the front lawn of a co-worker…and listeners showed up, by the thousands…but that was almost 20 years ago.

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Covering Breaking News

| August 13, 2012

How news/talk radio stations can take ownership of breaking news events

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS magazine
VP/Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — News/talk stations covering breaking news have a challenge in this era of shrinking news departments and pared-back staffs.  In order to be the place to which people turn for coverage of breaking news and then the talk about the news, stations must have a pre-planned approach and use their people creatively in order to compete for the consumer’s attention.  With the recent case of the Aurora shootings last month, stations beyond Denver woke up to a major breaking story from out of market that was the only thing people were talking about that morning.

The Rolodex of the well-run news room can help the station respond to such complex cases where gun law experts, psychology practitioners, crime experts and others are used by stations to bring local analysis to the story.  How stations prepare for and execute coverage of breaking news and the talk about that news determines how “on top of the story” a station and its talk hosts sound.

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A Tribute to Mike Francesa

| July 16, 2012

By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host

NEW YORK – Mike Francesa is the number one sports talk host in the country.

Although there are nationally syndicated names that may claim to have a wider cume than Mike Francesa, Mike is the king of sports talk in the number one market in the nation.  He is appointment listening.  Love him or hate him, New Yorkers need to hear his take on major stories.  He cannot be ignored.

What does Francesa bring to the table?  His years as a researcher at CBS television were merely a prelude of what was to come.  His relentless curiosity and work ethic along with his relationship with some of the biggest names in television broadcasting gave him unique insight.  He learned to dig deep into the numbers, but he also understood that the games have a heartbeat.  They are populated by human beings – replete with all their flaws and all their glory.  Mike dreamed of someday being able to share his knowledge behind the mic instead of behind the scenes.  His opportunity came after ceaselessly lobbying the management at WFAN to give him a chance for his voice to be heard.

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Niche Audio Service Springs from Telecom Executives’ Efforts

| July 3, 2012

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS magazine
VP/Managing Editor

NEW YORK — An audio content aggregator service that uses a call-in phone number may seem a bit counterintuitive in the face of the trend toward apps and web destinations but ZenoRadio’s success of pulling together listeners and audios sources over the past 12 months is a case study in serving an information-hungry, niche community.  ZenoRadio allows users – the bulk of which are immigrants here seeking radio stations from “back home” – to dial a  phone number and hear their favorite radio show, personalities, soccer matches, etc. on their phone (mobile or otherwise).  Founder Baruch Herzfeld dreamed up the idea after a security guard in his building, who comes from West Africa, expressed his boredom and the desire to hear radio from “home.”  Herzfeld’s hobby was doing an internet radio show and in his mind, one thing led to another and ZenoRadio was born.  Herzfeld’s experience in the telecom business provided him with the experience to build a back-end interface that allowed the broadcasters and radio hosts to monitor active calls and streams, and a front-end interface that allowed listeners to change channels using their handsets.

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TALKERS Conference – New York City – New Media Seminar – 2012 – Picture Gallery

| June 15, 2012

The first of two installments of TALKERS magazine’s innovative and economical one-day model for the New Media Seminar seems to have struck the right chord – at least for the approximately 400 industry professionals who recently packed the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side on Thursday June 7. Photo, videos and letters of praise clearly indicate that the first half of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important national convention was a home run that soared, as the saying goes, out of the park. Now as the editors of TALKERS magazine begin to post pictures, videos and comments from the Big Apple “happening,” the industry begins to anticipate part-two of the exciting event scheduled for Thursday October 11 in Los Angeles.

A sampling of excerpts from letters received from industry leaders shows strong and resounding approval of the new NMS format and its results in New York City.  See the letters and the NMS picture gallery.  click here.

The State of News in News/Talk Radio

| May 21, 2012

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS magazine
VP/Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It’s understood by anyone in the radio business that the big news stories of the day – whether they are local or national stories – generate the topics that drive the conversation on news/talk radio.  But what are the roles of the newsroom, the reporter and the regular newscasts on today’s news/talk stations?  The move of all-news to FM signals, the development of more national and regional radio news products and the addition of newswheel programs to some of the country’s most respected talk stations seem to indicate radio news has received a shot in the arm.  But the decimation of many radio news departments that occurred in conjunction with consolidation still affects many radio operations and raises questions about the relevance of news elements to the successful operation of the modern news/talk station.

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Alan Cox Talk Show Rocks Cleveland on WMMS-FM

| May 10, 2012

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS magazine
VP/Managing Editor

CLEVELAND — There’s still not a lot of talk on FM radio.  Yes, there is a lot of sports talk and more and more news/talk finding a home on the FM band lately, but talk – or as consultant Walter Sabo calls it – targeted talk is not prevalent on radio in America.  Certainly there is WTKS-FM, Orlando; New Jersey 101.5; and Cox has just stripped the music away from WHTP-FM, Tampa with Bubba the Love Sponge in AM drive and Cowhead in PM drive and newly developed shows in the other dayparts.  But apart from those examples and many morning drive shows on music stations (more on that later), few operators have been inclined to develop talk targeted to young people – often called “hot talk.”  Except at Cleveland’s legendary rock station – WMMS-FM – where the Alan Cox show gets big numbers in afternoon drive.

A quick glance at Cox’s resume:  He began his performance career doing stand-up comedy in college; produced Jonathon Brandmeier at WLUP-FM, Chicago in the early 1990s; hosted mornings at a classic rock station in Kalamazoo; hosted PM drive at WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh where he replaced Howard Stern in AM drive when CC dropped Stern (Cox proudly states it was “one of the only Stern stations that didn’t completely tank” after that); was part of the ensemble cast that replaced Mancow on Q101 in Chicago; and he’s been at WMMS-FM, Cleveland for the past two-and-a-half years. Read More

In Memory of Radio Legend Pete Fornatale

| April 27, 2012

By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host

NEW YORK — He wasn’t a talker in the sense that he hosted programs on traditional news/talk outlets.  Indeed the content of most of his programs featured more music than talk.  But when he did crack the mic, you couldn’t find a more intelligent voice observing pop culture than the late Pete Fornatale.

Pete got his start at WFUV-FM, the Fordham campus station and, ironically, that is where he did his final program in mid-April.  In his own way, he was every bit the pioneer that radio legend Alan Freed was in exposing popular music to the masses.  The difference was that while the early rock ‘n’ rollers spun “silly love songs” that you could dance to, Fornatale cared more about the lyrics, not the beat.

He was one of the first to string together songs in a meaningful fashion – the art of the segue – as it became known.  There was a purpose behind every record he played.  When CSNY rushed the single, “Ohio” to radio stations to protest the Kent State killings, Pete was the first to play it, indeed repeating it several times before enhancing it with his own emotional comments on the tragedy.

Peter also paved the way for talkers with unconventional voices.  His own was slightly nasal with a higher pitch than the sonorous tones listeners were used to on big city radio.  But in New York, that qualm quickly passed with astute listeners who were enlightened by the content of what he said.  He was probably the first real musicologist on commercial radio who presented rock and folk music as an intellectual as well as emotional experience.

He wrote books, taught classes on many levels, gave lectures and hosted multimedia presentations.  Unfortunately, in the early 1980s consultants took over what had been free form FM radio.  They didn’t understand Peter’s appeal and lobbied to oust him from the midday shift he had occupied for so many years.  When I was program director of WNEW-FM I tried to hold out as long as possible against some of the more radical changes the consultants wanted to affect. For Fornatale, my idea was a weekend program that played to his strengths, a show that was to be called “Mixed Bag,” after the Richie Havens album of the same name.  He would play folk and country rock, songs with lyrics on a deeper level.  When I broached the subject with him, he was excited and immediately expanded and refined my rough concept and made it his own.  It became his hallmark program.

He took it with him wherever he went, from WNEW-FM to K-Rock and eventually back to WFUV-FM.  He was a great interviewer and a dear friend to many artists, ranging from Garland Jeffries and Richie Furay (Poco) to Art Garfunkel.  Musicians were comfortable talking to someone who truly understood and appreciated them.

Peter was always a pleasure to work with.  Even if he didn’t agree with a particular direction, after expressing his views, he executed whatever he was asked with loyalty and dedication to his craft.  He welcomed newcomers to the station with open arms and helpful advice.  One major regret I have about writing my story of those years, FM:The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio, is that I wasn’t able to interview Pete extensively, since he was working on a similar project and wanted to be heard in his own voice.  Although he’s still a prominent character, his personal recollections would have made it a better book.

But fortunately, he leaves books of his own and numerous recordings, many available at his website.  Peter passed away quietly the morning of April 26, 2012, but his voice will be heard for generations to come.

 

Richard Neer is a sports talk host at WFAN, New York, an anchor on A Touch of Grey, and sports editor of TALKERS magazine. He can be e-mailed at info@talkers.com

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2011 Heavy Hundred

2011 Heavy Hundred

| April 10, 2012

Social Media: Handle with Care

| January 27, 2012

Since this story was published on the morning of Friday, January 27, KTRS, St. Louis talk host JC Corcoran has responded with illuminating details that add even more to the fascinating subject of social media use by talk broadcasters.  Read his letter here.

By Kevin Casey
and Mike Kinosian

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. –– Using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to promote one’s radio program, the station brand or to interact with P1s is what most talk radio practitioners are expected to do these days.  After all, used properly, most digital experts agree the explosive nature of social media can reach people –– including potential new listeners –– in a way other media can’t.  But are there damaging aspects to social media?  Is there a potential downside?

Consider the cases of KTRS, St. Louis talk show host JC Corcoran and Current TV (and former MSNBC and ESPN) personality Keith Olbermann.

Corcoran is a very successful, longtime St. Louis radio personality.  Last fall he got into a back-and-forth argument via Twitter with a listener –– complete with salty language –– about his prediction the Cardinals would re-sign slugger Albert Pujols.  Management at KTRS suspended Corcoran briefly for how he handled the exchange.  The theory being that although the FCC’s jurisdiction is limited to only what goes out over the airwaves, a host’s general public image is the concern of station ownership regardless of the venue upon which it is conveyed –– licensed or unlicensed.

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The Changing Program Director/Talent Dynamic

| November 8, 2011

Critiquing talk radio talent in the modern era proves challenging as the role of the PD and structure
of the industry undergo massive changes 

By Mike Kinosian
Special Features Correspondent

“This could hurt your feelings, but it is being said for your own good.”

Such verbiage has been the basis for any one of countless program director-conducted aircheck sessions throughout the years in every conceivable radio format.

Quite possibly even more so than ever and as hyperbolic as it may sound, a program director supremely performing duties as a motivating talent coach is worth his or her weight in gold, silver, bronze and platinum.

“Directing” is, of course, a derivative form of the program director title.  Analyzing on-air personalities while simultaneously providing key components of constructive criticism, positive encouragement and guidance was once a basic calling card for anyone aspiring to be an upper-echelon programmer.  To say it is a dying, if not lost, proficiency is the height of understatement.  It is however clearly a two-way process, deeply rooted on a foundation of reciprocated trust.  If or when that is shattered, progression for the two parties becomes tenuous at best.

Achieving the elusive goal of “success” can have its downsides since that particular nebulous description can lead one to think he or she is above any form of critique or direction – especially from someone they perceive to be a “lowly” program director.  Chaos becomes the inevitable and seamy result.

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Qualitative aspects of the talk radio audiences

| October 20, 2011

By Michael Harrison
TALKERS MAGAZINE
Publisher

NEW YORK –– Continuing with a fall tradition, the latest numbers have been compiled for TALKERS magazine’s annual release of its Talk Radio Research ProjectTM (TRRP).  Primarily designed as an in-house vehicle to provide the TALKERS editorial staff with intelligence about the national talk radio audience as a resource for general background and to help answer basic questions from the press (such as “What kind of people listen to talk radio?”), the publication began honoring requests from radio stations to share this information.  It has proven extremely valuable as a supplemental sales tool that provides a thumbnail qualitative overview of several leading spoken word formats’ audience profiles including demographics, political orientation, income, education and consumer tastes, habits and disposition.  These include the mainstay news/talk format as well as the recent additions of the sports talk and pop culture talk genres.

The latest figures indicate that news/talk radio maintains its historic position as the most reliable attraction to draw adult audiences and inspire them to action in all audio broadcast media.  At present, the news/talk format predominantly focuses on discussion about politics, but it does reserve room within its scheduling for specialty programs about relationships, finance, health, technology and home improvement, among others which are taken into consideration when compiling these percentages.

News/talk radio is not alone in displaying these attributes.  So do the relatively recent additions of sports talk radio and pop culture talk radio (with several specific differences indigenous to these formats).  These spoken-word genres also deliver attentive and highly desirable audiences that consume foreground radio with passion and attention.  The people who regularly listen to news/talk, sports talk and pop culture talk radio are more than listeners –– they are radio fans!

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