Category: Features

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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