Category: Industry News

Monday, June 4, 2012

| June 4, 2012

Tom Leykis and Lionel to Discuss Their High-Profile Pioneering Digital Efforts at NMS.  Two questions (or variations thereof) regularly fielded by the TALKERS editorial staff these days are “How’s Tom Leykis doing with his new online talk show?” and “What’s Lionel up to these days with his online project?”  Both will be answered in detail straight from the horses’ mouths at the New Media Seminar’s Digital Workshop in New York City this Thursday, June 7.  As West Coast-based Leykis approaches the two-month mark into the launch of his “New Normal Network” online project and East Coast-based Lionel chalks up two years of operating “LionelMedia.com,” both individualistic graduates of the terrestrial talk show scene continue to gain traction on both the audience and revenue fronts as the industry watches with great interest.  Leykis tells TALKERS, “We had over 1.1 million sessions from our debut on April 2nd until April 30th. That number would most closely approximate cume. In our first week of 24/7 streaming, we had exactly 401,180 listeners. That was more listeners than the weekly cumes of 14 L.A./Orange County radio stations in March.”  On the revenue front, Leykis is also very pleased with immediate results saying, “At the current pace, we will make over 100K in revenue, but we are conservatively estimating 100K for the year.”  Leykis explains the key to making an online radio operation work is to provide specific listeners something they cannot get anywhere else.  He tells TALKERS, “You really have to super-serve your P1s…even in the process of selling advertising.  We go out into the marketplace and ask radio-friendly businesses the question, ‘Are you being priced out of radio?’  Because our operating costs are so much lower than radio we can offer these small businesses very affordable deals.  And when you specifically target business owners who are already in your audience as listeners, well it just makes a lot of sense.  This is what we are doing and it is working.”  Lionel describes his digital effort to TALKERS as follows: “This month is the second anniversary of the launch of LionelMedia.com, a paid subscription podcasting outlet. I podcast an hour daily of uninterrupted, unedited, commercial and break-free freeform-yet-structured spoken word. It, frankly, knows no peer. Every day I post news stories, columns, ideas, opinions and the like that supplement the subject or content of that day’s podcast. I’ll also attach a YouTube video of my latest PIX11 commentary on myriad subjects. To be most precise: I do exactly what I want. Let that sink in. My podcasts are not profane or blue in the least — in fact they could be played in their entirety on terrestrial radio. That, I feel, is a drawing point and basis for much of our success.”  Although Lionel no longer does a terrestrial radio talk show, he does regularly scheduled commentaries on Tribune television stations including New York’s WPIX channel 11 and Merlin Media’s all-news FMs in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago in addition to appearing as a regular guest on a number of terrestrial radio talk shows…exposure that helps drive traffic to his online media station.  The Digital Workshop will be moderated by Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service and Dan Patterson of KoPoint.  The June 7 industry-only New Media Seminar/NYC is an advance sellout.  For information call 413-565-5413.

Wisconsin Recall Spurs Question of “Equal Time” on Milwaukee News/Talk Outlets – and Beyond.  Progressive political groups are charging Clear Channel‘s WISN, Milwaukee and Journal Broadcasting‘s WTMJ, Milwaukee with violating the FCC‘s “Zapple Doctrine” which mandates “equal time” to all qualified political candidates within 60 days of an election under certain circumstances. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that talk hosts often benefit from exemption from the “Zapple Doctrine” by qualifying as a “news interview program.” But that exemption is not always a slam dunk. Read Weisman’s column about how the courts tend to interpret this section of FCC regulations here.

WPLJ-FM, New York OM Tony Mascaro to Program WABC?  Some posts on the New York Radio Message Board indicate inside sources are reporting Cumulus Media New York is naming CHR WPLJ-FM operations manager Tony Mascaro program director of its news/talk WABC. As of the posting of this item, there is no confirmation or denying of the report from Cumulus. WABC APD Chuck Armstrong has been serving as interim program director for the station filling the role left vacant when Laurie Cantillo exited the post last fall. Stay tuned.

Tony Kornheiser Re-Ups with WTEM, Washington for Two Years.  The Red Zebra Broadcasting station announces high-profile personality Tony Kornheiser renews his deal to remain host of the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program on ESPN 980 WTEM, Washington, DC. As part of the new contract, Kornheiser will contribute to the Washington Redskins Radio Network‘s “Official Pre-Game Show” during the football season. WTEM CEO Rick Carmean states, “Tony’s unique brand of humor and entertainment fits perfectly into our strong and highly rated midday lineup.” Kornheiser is joined weekdays by a rotating cast of co-hosts including Gary Braun, Jeanne McManus, Torie Clark, David Aldridge and longtime producer Nigel. Frequent contributors include Tony’s “Pardon the Interruption”co-host Michael Wilbon.

WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Gives Adam Goldfein Nightly Program.  Local attorney and auto dealership owner Adam Goldfein has hosted a weekend program about cars on Cox Media‘s WSB-AM/FM for some time. Now, the station adds more air time to his schedule. The consumer issues expert begins hosting a program airing nightly from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Goldfein had been filling in for Clark Howard on the station and Cox Radio Atlanta VP and market manager Dan Kearney tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “He was doing a great job filling in for Clark Howard and his Sunday show was getting great ratings. We wanted him on more consistently.” 

Stephen King’s WZON, Bangor Drops Local Sports Talk; Dismisses Two.  Give WZON, Bangor owner Stephen King credit for manning up and personally delivering the news to sports talk hosts Dale Duff and Clem LaBree that they were being dismissed for financial reasons. Duff and LaBree hosted the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm sports talk show on WZON-AM as well as covering a slew of local sports events, including high school and college games. The Bangor Daily News reports King told the two the change had nothing to do with the quality of their work but because the programming was losing money. WZON-AM had ceased being a full-time sports talk station in November of 2010 and was carrying much of the progressive talk format from sister WZON-FM ­- The Pulse. Duff had been with the station for 19 years. Both are receiving severance from the company. Duff and LaBree’s show will be replaced by a simulcast from WZON-FM although the station will continue to air sports play-by-play.

SRN’s Tom Tradup Makes Statement on End of “Richard Land Live” Program.  The Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention issued two reprimands to Dr. Richard Land for comments he made about the Trayvon Martin case that it deemed “irresponsible, insensitive and racially charged.” It also ended his radio program that it produced that was distributed via Salem Radio Network. The controversy surrounding the statements was enhanced further by allegations Land read them from another published opinion that was not cited. SRN vice president of news/talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “Theologians have a different perspective on talk radio than the rest of our industry does. What some see as “hurtful language” on the Trayvon Martin case is, in reality, part of a free and open exchange of ideas and opinions that is the keystone of talk radio. And by talk radio standards, nothing Dr. Land may have failed to “fully attribute” on the air or on his website rose to the level of so-called plagiarism. Nevertheless, we respect the ERLC’s decision and thus the final edition of ‘Richard Land Live’ aired Saturday, June 2.

Twin Cities Radio Personality Dark Star Dies at Age 66.  Longtime Minneapolis radio personality Dark Star – real name George Chapple – was found dead in his home in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He co-hosted the “Sports Show” along with Sid Hartman on CBS Radio‘s WCCO, Minneapolis during part of his 25 years on the air there before accepting a buyout from the station in November of 2010. Recently he had been working at crosstown KFAN. He failed to show up for his Friday show there and authorities found him dead in his apartment.

Compass Media Marketing Named Exclusive Radio Sales Agent for Point-of-Purchase Service.  This story is really about the acquisition of InStore Broadcasting Network by POP Radio and the new company becomes InStore Audio Network. It delivers in-store advertising messages to more than 33,000 retail outlets – grocery, drug stores, etc. – and provides music content to some 14,000 stores. The company is enlisting Compass Media Marketing as exclusive national radio sales agent. Compass CEO Peter Kosann says, “I have been a longtime partner with POP Radio and the expanded footprint of the new company creates an exciting and compelling media product that network radio buyers will need to consider.”

KSFO, San Francisco Listeners Help Raise $135k for Fisher House Construction.  Cumulus Media‘s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco held a Memorial Day weekend fundraiser for the Fisher House Foundation that began with a live remote broadcast of Brian Sussman‘s morning drive show. Sussman (r) is pictured here interviewing Fisher House representative Cindy Campbell (l). Fundraising continued over the Memorial Day weekend and more than $135,000 was collected for the construction of the Palo Alto Fisher House which provides no-cost housing and the comforts of home for family members of military personnel while their loved ones rehab and recover from various injuries and ailments. Sussman states, “This gift of over $135,000 illustrates the abundant generosity of our KSFO radio family. The Fisher House provides our troops and their families with genuine American hospitality and it’s an honor to be associated with their vital endeavor.

Iowa Farm News Broadcaster Mark Pearson Dead at 54.  Mark Pearson worked at Iowa Public Television where he hosted the “Market to Market” show and at Clear Channel‘s WHO, Des Moines where he co-hosted “The Big Show,” a program that highlighted agricultural news. Pearson died of an apparent heart attack at his home on Sunday. WHO talk show host Jan Mickelson told the Des Moines Register, “Everyone at every level in the farm community respected the guy.”

Friday, June 1, 2012

| June 1, 2012

Finebaum Case Far from Settled Says Cumulus. Contrary to the story published here earlier today (6/1), there is no settlement on the horizon for Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and Cumulus Media in their contract dispute. Cumulus COO John Dickey tells TALKERS the reported agreement that would end the lawsuits each side is filing against other and allow Finebaum to work out his contract at Cumulus’ sports talk WJOX-FM, Birmingham that ends in January of 2013 and then go to work at Cox Media’s crosstown sports WZNN-FM if he chooses are categorically untrue. “He will never work for Cox in Birmingham,” Dickey says. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance had asked the two sides to resume negotiations to settle the contract dispute and report to the court by May 30.

Battle for Control of SiriusXM Heating Up.  John Malone‘s Liberty Media is again filing a request with the FCC to give it “de facto” control of satellite broadcaster SiriusXM. The Commission denied its first attempt back on May 4 but Liberty has since acquired another 6-plus percent of the company’s stock, pushing its total above 46%. It’s petition for reconsideration with the FCC reportedly contains additional information to the Commission. In a filing with the SEC, SiriusXM states, “We’ve been engaged in discussions with Liberty Media to explore possible transactions with respect to its ownership interest in Sirius, although we have not reached agreement with respect to a specific transaction that would be mutually beneficial to both our common and preferred stockholders. There is no assurance that these discussions will result in any specific action or transaction. We do not expect to disclose developments with respect to these discussions.”

Scott Hennen Turns to Listeners for Funding for WZFG, Fargo. Talk show host and businessman Scott Hennen is exploring alternative sources for funding his purchase of The Flag 1100 (WZFG) in the Fargo market. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead‘s Marino Eccher reports Hennen has created a program whereby fans become “founding fathers” and buy into one of four clubs – Faith, Family, Freedom, and Free Enterprise – for $1,000 (each club limited to 400 members). He’s seeking a total of 1,600 such “founders” to come up with $1.6 million. Hennen tells the paper he has traditional funding sources but decided to seek less traditional forms of funding after sensing his listeners “desire to be part of something bigger.” These fans will not be shareholders or part owners but instead will have input on the station’s weekend programming, behind-the-scenes updates and $1,000 advertising credit. Hennen tells Eccher Tea Party activist Mark Skogerboe will serve as director of the clubs and be an on-air contributor.

NEW MEDIA SEMINAR/NYC Sold Out but Agenda Keeps Growing.  Thursday, June 7 is going to be a big day for talk radio in the Big Apple as some 400 professionals from all aspects of the business converge on the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side for a one-day conference containing the content mass of a two- or three-day convention.  “Although we have reached capacity in terms of registration,” explains TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “doesn’t mean the agenda is not continuing to grow.”  Casey continues, “This conference has all the aspects of an old fashioned ‘happening’ with a program lineup that is so outstanding, it is attracting a growing number of industry leaders wanting to contribute as speakers and panelists.”  According to conference director Michael Harrison, “We attribute the positive response to this event not only its powerful and relevant agenda, but to the fact that it is so efficiently tuned to the times in terms of its affordable registration fee and compact time demands.  With another one set for Los Angeles in October, this June 7 event has the convenience of a regional conference while delivering the bang of a major national convention.”  Although space is limited for those who will participate in person, the content of this forthcoming NMS which will be video recorded from beginning to end will reach a far wider audience via TALKERS TV in the weeks and months following June 7.  For information call 413-565-5413.  To see the up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.

WEUS, Orlando to Be LMA’d with Intent to Purchase. Star Over Orlando‘s talk outlet WEUS, Orlando is entering into a deal with MultiCorp International to have the latter’s subsidiary – Rivalz Sports Group – operate the station as a sports talk outlet beginning on July 30 with the intent to buy the signal. MultiCorp intends to change the calls to WRSG and hopes to move the stations operations “within a restaurant facility” so diners can enjoy “a first-class restaurant/media experience.” The company states it hopes to expand this model to other markets.

Dr. Laura Launches Online Jewelry Business. SiriusXM talk show host and talk radio pioneer Dr. Laura Schlessinger unveils her “Dr. Laura Designs,” – an online boutique featuring her personally designed and handcrafted jewelry, glass and polymer clay art. The site offers ready-made items or people can commission custom made pieces. Dr. Laura initially began selling jewelry to assist the “Operation Family Fund,” a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families of those who are injured or killed while fighting the war on terrorism, and raised more than $1.5 million. Dr. Laura has had a passion for jewelry – making it and glass art that started when, during a particularly difficult time for her family, her then-little son suggested that a new hobby would be helpful. She states, “I never thought I had one ounce of artistic ability, and couldn’t think of what I could do.” After a listener suggested she visit a local bead fest, she says, “I walked by a table filled with Tibetan ornaments and my brain just exploded with creative images. I bought books on jewelry-making and purchased tools, wire, beads and stones and got started.” Dr. Laura’s program currently airs from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET on the Sirius Stars channel.

Dave Ramsey to Lead NAB-RAB Radio Show Super Session. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey will lead a Super Session at the September 19-21 Radio Show in Dallas being produced jointly by the NAB and RAB. The panel, titled “Succeeding in This Economic Environment,” taking place on Thursday, September 20 at 9:30 am and, as its title implies, will focus on steps radio station operators can take to achieve success in these tough economic times.

Odds ‘n’ Sods. The Society for Professional Journalism and the Radio Television Digital News Association announce registration is open for their September Excellence in Journalism Conference taking place the 20th through the 22nd in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The conference offers more than 50 professional development sessions…..Former college football coach Rick Neuheisel (UCLA, Washington and Colorado) joins SiriusXM‘s College Sports Nation channel where he’ll appear on the “College Football Playbook” show and co-host the daily “College Sports Today” show with Mark Packer…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment‘s WFLA, Tampa begins simulcasting on an FM translator at 105.9 licensed to West Tampa…..Las Vegas-based nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs has a small role in an upcoming Showtime reality program. She tells TALKERS, “It’s a one-time small part on  a Showtime reality show but it’s a start!” Wachs says it’s super secret and she can’t even tell us the name of the show, yet.

Stormy Times at Fairfax Media. American media companies are not the only ones dealing with difficult financial situations. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on one of Australia’s major talkback radio-formatted operators – Fairfax Media – as it deals with corporate power struggles and underperforming revenue. Read Smith’s entire piece here.

Rusty Among the Politichicks. That’s Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated talk show host Rusty Humphries on the set of the internet TV show “Politichicks.” Humphries appeared with co-hosts Dr. Gina Loudon, Ann-Marie Murrell, Sonnie Johnson, Morgan Brittany on the recent episode titled, “The Fairness Doctrine: There’s Nothing Fair,” to discuss the “current environment of talk radio as well as why conservative talk radio has become a focus of attack by the mainstream media and liberal politicians.  At the end of the segment, Rusty was formally honored with the title, “PolitiStud.” It’s obvious to see why.

2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 28 – June 1. The 2012 presidential contest was #1 on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the ninth week in a row. At #2 this week was the Syria massacre aftermath. Following at #3 was Iran’s nuclear ambitions and at #4 was the Euro zone crisis and the global financial markets’ activities. The Talkers TenTM is based on ongoing research from Talkers magazine and consists of the top stories and people discussed on America’s news/talk radio stations during the week. View this week’s entire chart here.

Crue Visits the Cannons. Motley Crue bassist and host of the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Sixx Sense” radio program, Nikki Sixx (r), is pictured here with Fox Sports Radio‘s “Loose Cannons” co-host Pat O’Brien (l). Fox Sports Radio and Los Angeles Dodgers flagship AM 570 Fox Sports LA (KLAC) invited Sixx to throw out the first pitch at a recent Dodgers game. Prior to the first pitch and Sixx’s appearance on the “Loose Cannons” nationally syndicated program, Fox Sports Radio offered listeners the chance to win travel accommodations and tickets to a stop on this summer’s Motley Crue/KISS tour.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

| May 31, 2012

Harris Poll Respondents Say TV and Radio Talk Shows Have Too Much Political Influence.  A recent poll by Harris Interactive – an April telephone poll of 1,016 adults – suggests 65% of Americans believe television and radio talk shows have too much political power and influence. That’s a 14-point shift from the 51% who believed the same thing when the poll was first conducted in 1994 and a 12-point jump from just last year. This is obviously a poll about perception and groups that are perceived by the public to have power and money, in general, ranked high in the “too much” influence in Washington category while those traditionally perceived to be less wealthy and “for the people” ranked lower in that regard. For example, small business, public opinion and non-profits were deemed by the respondents to have “too little” power and influence in Washington. Churches and religious groups and opinion polls fell somewhere in the middle. It’s clearly difficult for anyone to gauge the exact influence any group has in Washington across the large spectrum of issues that arise over time.

Cox Media Group Sets Sights on Young Americans with iHigh Investment. The announcement that Cox Media Group is investing $11.7 million in the Kentucky-based tech company iHigh signals its interest in finding ways to reach young demos via digital media. iHigh provides free web-based tools and live video streaming capabilities that enable organizations to connect to their audiences by broadcasting live content on the internet to PCs, smartphones, tablets and any other internet-connected device. Developed initially to support high school athletics and having spread to colleges and other affinity groups, iHigh enables students, coaches, boosters and other school supporters to easily connect with parents, their communities and local and national advertisers, anywhere and at any time. Cox Media Group president Doug Franklin states, “This strategic investment in iHigh is a long-term opportunity for Cox Media Group, and aligns with our mission of creating scalable content and advertising services businesses. We believe iHigh’s solutions – giving audiences the ability to watch any event live over desktops, tablets or smartphones – are uniquely designed to help organizations reach a devoted and distributed fan base, while giving advertisers a highly targeted and hyper-local approach to reaching their customers. We’re looking forward to growing with iHigh, reaching new markets and expanding opportunities for dedicated fans and advertisers alike.”

Steve Bryant Joins KHTK, Sacramento’s Don Geronimo Morning Show. Versatile media talent Steve Bryant will become part of the AM drive show on CBS Radio‘s sports talk KHTK, Sacramento hosted by Don Geronimo. Bryant most recently handled weekend duties at WGMD-FM, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He was a longtime host on home shopping channel QVC and is known for crafting song parodies which have aired on Geronimo’s program. Bryant will begin his new duties on June 11.

CNN Adds New Personality to Early Morning Show. The cable news/talk network brings John Berman aboard to join Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin as hosts of its “Early Start” show that airs from 5:00 am to 7:00 am ET. Berman had been a correspondent with ABC News contributing to “Good Morning America.” He’ll also contribute to other CNN programs including “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” CNN EVP Ken Jautz states, “We are so fortunate to have this talented and seasoned journalist join our morning show and become a regular presence on our air throughout the day. John is a skilled reporter with a passion and personality that shines through, whether he’s covering the political season or his beloved Red Sox.”

Copper Thieves Knock Sports KQTM-FM, Albuquerque Off the Air.Team Broadcasting‘s KQTM-FM, Albuquerque – ESPN Radio 101.7 – is on backup power for at least another day after copper thieves ripped some 200 feet of copper out of the ground by affixing it to the back of a vehicle and driving away. Station general manager David Dominguez tells KKOB-TV he’s very surprised no one was hurt because they cut live wires and could easily have been electrocuted. Repairs at the sports talk signal are estimated to be around $20,000.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WGY-AM/FM, Albany renews with IMG College to continue to broadcast Syracuse University men’s basketball and football play-by-play through the 2016-17 season. The company’s sister sports talker WOFX will also carry select games…..Salem Radio Network News goes “across the pond” next week to cover Queen Elizabeth II‘s Diamond Jubilee. The network is using part-time British resident and former Chicago TV executive Fred Weintraub to cover the event……CNBC names Kelly Evans co-host of “Worldwide Exchange” alongside Ross Westgate. Evans replaces Christine Tan who remains with the cable network to host its “Managing Asia” program…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment names Nick Gnau president and market manager for its Detroit operations. Gnau replaces Til Levesque.

2012 Presidential Race, Donald Trump-Wolf Blitzer Flap, Syria Civilian Massacre, Wisconsin Recall Election and Iran Nukes Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/30). The battle between President Obama and Mitt Romney; the tense CNN segment with Wolf Blitzer interviewing Donald Trump; the aftermath of the Syrian civilian massacre; next week’s recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the ongoing concern over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to research from TALKERS.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

| May 30, 2012

Tom Finneran to Exit WRKO, Boston; Todd Feinburg Takes Over AM Drive.  Former Massachusetts Speaker of the House and AM drive host at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston for the past five years, Tom Finneran, will leave the station after his program on Thursday, May 31.  In a statement, Finneran says, “Over the past several days, Jason Wolfe and I have been talking about various plans and opportunities which lie ahead for me and for the station.  Those opportunities are of interest to me, but are not compatible with the hours I keep and the effort I make to prepare for, and to execute, a well-informed show every morning.  I try to learn from history and from our listeners, who in sharing some of their own histories, have been great teachers.  I thank them and WRKO for a fast and fun five years.”  Program director Jason Wolfe announces that Finneran’s co-host for the past few years – Todd Feinburg – will take over as sole host of the morning show on WRKO beginning Friday, June 1.  Whether or not a co-host is eventually added to the AM drive show remains to be seen.  The Boston Herald’s Jessica Heslam reports former WFXT-TV, Boston anchor Kim Carrigan – who has sat in on the AM drive show several times since exiting her TV gig – is offering no comment on the rumor she will become Feinburg’s co-host.  She tells the Herald, “It’s no secret that I’ve filled in a few times and that’s been a ton of fun, but outside of that I don’t have any comment at this point.”

Triton Digital Names John Rosso President of Market Development.  The former president of the Citadel Media Networks – a company he exited with the change of ownership as Cumulus acquired it – now takes the newly created post to lead Triton’s digital audio platforms in the sales and marketing realm.  Triton Digital chief operating officer Mike Agovino states, “John’s combination of broadcast and digital experience makes him a great choice for this important new position at Triton.  The explosive growth in listening to internet audio is attracting major attention from both local and national advertisers.  John and the rest of the Triton team are completely focused on fostering this medium by helping marketers and audio publishers come together to engage audiences.”  On his new challenge, Rosso says, “Audio is among the fastest-growing media today, and Triton is innovating at the center of it all, with both publishers and advertisers.  This marketplace is still young and I look forward to facilitating this connection to accelerate the growth and success.”

WHBO, Tampa and Tom Krasniqi Part Ways.  Afternoon drive sports talk host Tom Krasniqi and Genesis Communications WHBO, Tampa-St. Petersburg are unable to come to terms on a new contract.  WHBO has not announced a permanent replacement for host of its “Prime Time” PM drive show.

Bruce Williams Announces Plans for “Made in America Broadcast Network.”  The talk radio pioneer says he has nothing against international commerce but “as a small network can offer this service by accepting advertising only from American companies producing jobs and products.”  Bruce Williams – who is currently streaming and podcasting his program via The American Entrepreneur on taeradio.com – says he wants to offer radio programs that are supported by advertising from companies whose products are at least 90% made in America with American labor and American materials because he wants to keep jobs in America.  “The network knows many people interested in buying American products and they will be an excellent resource.  Made in America Broadcast Network believes this is the first company to offer this service.”

Car Talk: The Musical Debuts in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  You know you’ve made it when they produce a musical production based on you.  NPR’s “Car Talk,” hosted by actual Cambridge, Massachusetts mechanics Tom and Ray Magliozzi, is the inspiration for the play with book, lyrics and direction by Wesley Savick and original music by Michael Wartofsky.  The play will run this summer produced by the Underground Railway Theater at Central Square in Cambridge “just a stone’s throw away from the Good News Garage in Cambridge, Massachusetts (our fair city).”  The production will feature voice-overs from the Magliozzi brothers.  Here’s the plot as reported by BroadwayWorld.com: “Our hero – the overweight, always-late invertebrate Rusty Fenders – has racked up as many miles as his ‘93 KIA. Attempting to salvage happiness from the junkyard of his life, he collides with his ruthless boss Beaulah Gasket, his unrequited office romance Sheila, and the red-hot fantasy car Miata C. LaChassis.  Can the Wizard of Cahs put the brakes on Rusty’s musical wipe-out?”

WBZ, Boston Talk Host Lovell Dyett Passes Away at 77.  The TV and radio broadcaster and community activist died after a long illness.  Lovell Dyett began his talk radio career at WBZ in December of 1971 with an eponymous Sunday call-in program that dealt with the issues of the day.  As noted on CBS Radio Boston’s website, “For nearly 40 years, Dyett covered topics and issues that affected people of all walks of life, discussing topics that were often times contentious, like busing and the desegregation of Boston’s schools, and sometimes uncomfortable, such as interviews with former members of the Ku Klux Klan.  Dyett was a major player in many organizations including the Workshop on Cable Television for Minority Municipal Officials, serving as chief media consultant of the Congressional Black Caucus, as board member of the Roxbury YMCA, Roxbury Chapter of University Without Walls, Boston Chapter of the Urban League, and was also a long standing member of the NAACP.”

Syria Massacre, 2012 Presidential Race, Memorial Day Remembrances, Euro Zone Jitters and Iran Nukes Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/29).  Global outrage over the latest massacre of civilians in Syria; the 2012 presidential campaign; tributes to fallen U.S. military personnel; concern over the unstable euro zone economy and its repercussions; and the Iranian nuclear weapons program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

“Gas We Can Gill-er Up” Draws Bargain Hunting Motorists.  WLAC, Nashville-based Radio America syndicated talk show host Steve Gill (l) is pictured here with listener Jill (r) who took advantage of the show’s promotion with the Daily’s Shell chain to offer gas at $1.84 per gallon to the first 150 listeners to get in line at 7:00 am yesterday (5/29).  Gill tells TALKERS that the $1.84 per gallon price was the national average on January 20, 2009 – the day President Obama was sworn into office.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

| May 29, 2012

Mark Davis Back to Talk Host Duties in Big D on Salem’s KSKY.  Longtime Dallas media personality Mark Davis returns to the radio in the market on Salem Communications’ KSKY in the 7:00 am to 10:00 am time slot.  Davis, a Dallas Morning News columnist and television political commentator, exited Cumulus Media’s crosstown WBAP after 18 years in April when the two sides could not agree to a contract extension.  Now, Davis will follow Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett who airs on KSKY from 5:00 am to 7:00 am.  Salem Communications vice president and director of spoken word format Phil Boyce is also re-branding KSKY “The Answer” as he’s done with KRLA, Los Angeles; KTIE, Riverside/San Bernardino; and WNYM, New York.  Boyce states, “Adding an industry icon like Mark Davis, and re-branding the station as ‘The Answer’ will help take KSKY to the next level.  This station will truly be an answer for so many things going on in the metroplex and the world, with smart hosts who know how to help you understand all of those things, not to mention great news, traffic, weather and information.”  Davis begins his new position on Monday, June 4 and he says, “There’s been a lot of attention paid to talk radio lately, about whether companies and stations are losing the commitment to local shows where a bond can build over the years with listeners.  I love seeing the evidence that there is a company and a station looking to grow, rather than shrink that concept, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Sid Rosenberg to Return to the Air in South Florida.  Mercurial sports talk host Sid Rosenberg appears headed for a new gig at James Crystal Radio’s WMEN, West Palm Beach (licensed to Royal Palm Beach) according to a recent report in the Miami Herald.  Rosenberg most recently hosted the afternoon drive show at Beasley’s WQAM, Miami but exited that position after a well-publicized DUI arrest.  WMEN general manager Steve Lapa tells the Herald he expects WQAM to let Rosenberg out of his contract that runs through August – in exchange for financial concessions – and allow him to start with the station sooner rather than later but that WMEN would be willing to wait if necessary.  Lapa says Rosenberg is “a talented guy and he wants to work” and after meeting with him has no reservations about Rosenberg’s past issues with drink, drugs and gambling.  Where Rosenberg would fit into the schedule has not been announced.  The station is currently live and local from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm with Chris Perkins in AM drive, Troy Stradford in late mornings, Andy Slater in middays and Orlando Alzugaray in PM drive.

KFI, Los Angeles Engineer Tony Dinkel Exits as Position Eliminated.  He was just a day shy of his 29th anniversary at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles when he was notified his position as transmitter site broadcast engineer was being eliminated, but Tony Dinkel has nothing but fond memories of his time with the station.  The 57-year-old engineer tells the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan he’ll always remember all the great people he worked with at the station.  Dinkel also served as the remote engineer and station staffers praised Dinkel’s ability to get remote broadcasts off without a hitch.  Read more about Dinkel’s time with KFI in Lycan’s column here.

Cumulus Media’s Atlanta All-Newser Debuts Today.  All News 106.7 – the new news outlet Cumulus Media is putting on the air in Altanta – debuts today with a special radio documentary about the news business in Atlanta.  The program will repeat for most of the day and the actual all-news format should be live and running after that.  Cumulus made the decision to remove classic hits from WYAY-FM, Gainesville, Georgia more than a month ago and the station will be the first all-news outlet to serve Atlanta since WCNN back in the late 1990s.

Cox Media Drops Sports/Talk Hybrid “Bulldog 103.7”; Debuts Variety Hits Format.  The FM sports and news/talk station that was home to talk-host-turned-Congressional-candidate Martha Zoller – WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia (licensed to Maysville) – becomes a variety hits music station dubbed “Chuck FM.”  The station morphed into “Bulldog 103.7” last fall featuring a combination of sports talk and news/talk.  Gainesville-based talk host Martha Zoller held down the late morning show until her recent exit from the business to run for the open seat in the newly created Georgia congressional district.

WTOP, Washington Names “Commuter Idle” Contest Winner.  Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington held a contest to find – and reward – the person in the DC area with the worst commute.  And the winner – with a 100 mile, five-hour daily commute to and from work – is Brenda Wells from Sparrow’s Point, Maryland.  WTOP states Wells’ commute “begins at 3:00 am and her commute includes a 45-minute drive (complete with two tolls), a 50-minute train ride, two metro rides, a short walk and a metro bus ride.  Wells is a federal worker with the Department of State in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she assigns special agents to the consulates and embassies around the world.  She is a single mother of three and lives with her parents in Baltimore for financial and child care reasons.”  Wells wins $1,000 in gas money and a future limo ride to and from work courtesy of Reston Limousine.  WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “As the DC area’s #1 traffic authority, we feel our commuters’ pain.  We received hundreds of incredible stories from listeners who cope with crazy commutes just to make ends meet, and crowning a ‘winner’ was a challenge.  Brenda’s multi-faceted commute, the long distance, and the impact on her family are what put her over the top.”

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Legendary Southern California media personality Charlie Tuna – currently spinning classic hits at K-Earth 101 in Los Angeles – is named the new station voice of KDOC-TV, Los Angeles…..Sports USA announces the first part of the slate of National Football League games it will be offering to stations for the 2012 season beginning with the New England Patriots at the Tennessee Titans on September 9.  Sports USA says it will announce more NFL play-by-play approximately three weeks ahead of each week’s games…..The Nick Carioti real estate, money and business weekly radio talk show prepares to celebrate its one-year anniversary on Star Over Orlando’s WEUS, Orlando in July…..Performance Racing Network’s Wendy Venturini made history this weekend as the first woman to lead a NASCAR radio broadcast at the Charlotte Speedway’s History 300 on 5/26.  PRN paired her with Doug Rice in the radio booth for Saturday’s race.

Friday, May 25, 2012

| May 25, 2012

Sean Hannity Re-Ups with Fox News Channel.  There had been rumors that Fox News Channel prime time superstar (and Premiere Networks radio talk show star) Sean Hannity was negotiating with the News Corp. cable news/talk giant and now it’s announced the two sides have agreed on a long-term extension.  The duration and money details are few but it’s being reported the new contract keeps Hannity at FNC for “the foreseeable future.”  Hannity is the second-most-watched FNC show after Bill O’Reilly and a major part of its prime time success.  Hannity is quoted saying, “It’s been an honor and privilege to work alongside the incredible team at Fox News, whose talent is unparalleled.  In true Roger Ailes form, he saw something in me that no one else did and afforded me the opportunity to achieve incredible success.  I look forward to many more years to come.”  The news of Hannity’s extended relationship with Fox comes at a perfect time – two weeks before the New Media Seminar in New York City at which he will be personally hosting a special breakfast for all attendees followed by delivering the power-packed event’s keynote speech.  For information about the industry-only conference set for Thursday, June 7 call 413-565-5413.  Today is the final day to register.  To see the complete agenda click here.

TALKERS Top Talk Audiences Winter Report Shows News/Talk Holding Steady.  In today’s highly polarized political climate, there is a tendency toward news/talk radio ratings to be selectively cherry-picked and trumpeted for the purpose of propagandizing partisan interests.  A recent example of this is on display as the normal rises or dips in Rush Limbaugh’s PPM numbers during the two months following the Sandra Fluke controversy are touted by political action groups as a referendum on the public’s reaction to the story and reflective of the nation’s political and social mindset in general.  The truth, as broadcasting professionals realize, is that radio ratings are a complex and inexact process that can only be indicative of measurable trends when looked at over time and distance, taking a multitude of factors into account – especially during the current bumpy transition to the PPM system and the merging of significantly different research paradigms.  According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “The mainstream media approaches radio ratings as though they were motion picture box office numbers or last night’s horse racing results.  The political groups, of course, play into that.  As a result, the public is getting a very inaccurate picture of the reality of this business from skewed partisan perspectives.  Both sides are shamelessly doing this.  Our business has become a political football which is not a good thing.”  The latest installment of TALKERS magazine’s quarterly audience estimates of the most-listened-to news/talk radio hosts (Winter 2012) has been posted today.  See it here.

Gow Communications to Buy KFNC-FM, Houston. That station, along with KHJK-FM, Houston, was put into a pre-packaged bankruptcy proceeding by former owner Cumulus Media last year.  The stations are majority owned by media broker Lawrence Patrick with the rest owned by creditors.  Now, the Houston Chronicle’s David Barron reports David Gow’s Gow Communications (which operates sports KGOW, Houston and Yahoo! Sports Radio) is the winning bidder for the FM signal and has signed a letter of intent to buy it.  Barron reports KFNC-FM billed $2.4 million in 2011.

Sports Talk Radio Scene in Salt Lake City Becoming Clearer.  With the recently announced purchase of KZNS-AM/FM by the Larry H. Miller Group – owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz – and Cumulus Media’s dedication to keeping former Jazz flagship and crosstown competitor KFNZ a sports outlet by simulcasting the Yahoo! Sports Radio content currently heard on its KJQS, there’s been a lot of turmoil in the Salt Lake City radio sports scene but the picture is clearing.  LHM Group will split the AM and FM signals of KZNS. The FM side will feature “Fox Sports Daybreak” in AM drive, local hosts Jake Scott and Tony Parks from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, Premiere NetworksJim Rome from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, FSRN’s “Loose Cannons” from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and FSRN’s Petros & Money from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  The AM side will consist of local hosts David James and Patrick Kinahan in AM drive, Jim Rome from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, local hosts Scott Garrard and Jake Scott from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, local hosts Spencer Checketts and Gordon Monson from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and local host Steve Brown from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Both stations will air “Fox Sports Tonight” and FSRN’s JT the Brick.  Meanwhile, across town at Utah Radio Acquisition’s KALL – ESPN 700 – former KZNS-AM/FM host Hans Olsen joins the Bill Riley PM drive show effective June 4.

Talk Radio Legend Barry Farber Releases New Book; Will Be Honored at New Media Seminar in New York on June 7.  Pioneering talk radio host Barry Farber is publishing his new book, Cocktails with Molotov (WND Books 2012) on June 5.  The book is described as “a collection of real life short stories that Farber has somehow found himself involved in, where you’ll read of his encounters with Alfred Hitchcock, the King of Albania, and Buzz Aldrin; of his knowledge of 26 foreign languages and how foreign language came through for him in the nick of time.  He shares tales from his childhood in North Carolina and his time spent venturing abroad, from his life as a young reporter and as a seasoned journalist, along with astounding narratives of everything in between.”  Rush Limbaugh is quoted speaking of Farber.  “Barry Farber was a standout when it was difficult to get a talk show.  Unlike today, very few people hosted such shows in Barry’s era.  You had to be among the best to be hired to host long-form talk.  Barry Farber was…the best.  He was defining.  He’s always been in rarified air.”  Barry Farber will be honored with the “TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award” at the New Media Seminar on New York City on Thursday, June 7.

KRLD-FM, Dallas Names Jane Slater and Chris Arnold to Talent Roster.  The CBS Radio sports talk station brings Jane Slater over from its news sister KRLD where she was morning drive reporter to co-host the midday show with Mark Elfenbein for the “Elf and Slater” midday show.  The daypart opened up when Josh Lewin accepted the New York Mets play-by-play gig.  In evenings, the station adds market sports pro Chris Arnold to Gavin Dawson’s “The G-Bag Nation” program which is expanding to the 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot to cover for the departed Arnie Spanier.  In a statement, VP of news/talk/sports programming Bruce Gilbert says, “The addition of Jane and Chris to the full-time staff at 105.3 The Fan illustrates our commitment to be the live and local sports talk station.  Their characteristics, personalities and unique perspectives emphasize our goal to be the voice of the many diverse sports fans across North Texas.”

Federated Media Flips Two Music FMs to Sports Talk.  A new four-station sports talk brand dubbed “The Fan” is being created by Federated Media.  The latest station to announce a flip is South Bend-market classic rock WAOR-FM (licensed to Nappanee, Indiana).  The stations (including WFGA-FM, Ft. Wayne; WLEG-FM, Elkhart, Indiana; and WNIL, Niles, Michigan) will carry local sports talk shows in morning and afternoon drive and carry Fox Sports Radio Network programming the rest of the day.  Federated Media chief operating officer Brad Williams says in a statement, “We are thrilled to bring sports talk to Northern Indiana.  We are a sports-hungry region and now our customers and clients can consume and partner with our stations and Fox Sports Radio 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”  The changes take place June 4.

United Stations Radio Networks Develops Weekly NASCAR Show.  The weekly one-hour program titled, “The Final Lap Weekly” is being hosted by Kerry Murphey and Toby Christie.  Murphey is the producer and host of USRN’s daily feature, “The Final Lap,” which is heard on more than 200 affiliate stations.  USRN EVP of programming Andy Denemark states, “2012 has been another solid year for NASCAR racing with TV viewership and track attendance both up.  At the same time, sports radio is growing exponentially, so we felt it was a great time to bring a new long-form racing talk show to the airwaves.  Kerry Murphey is a proven winner, his team covers the sport like no one else, and this is a great brand extension for Kerry and ‘The Final Lap.’”  The show debuts the weekend of June 2-3.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  WLAC, Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill begins a promotion with the Nashville Daily’s chain of gas stations to offer 150 listeners up to 15 gallons of gas at just $1.84 per gallon – January 2009 prices – beginning Tuesday, May 29.  Listeners must tune in to Gill to know which location is offering the bargain…..Journal Broadcasting names Mike McQuilliam promotions and marketing director for the company’s Wichita operations…..CBS Radio’s WCCO, Minneapolis extends its contract with University of St. Thomas to air its football games through the 2013 season.

2012 Presidential Race Top Talk Radio Topic for 8th Consecutive Week.  The battle between challenger Mitt Romney and President Obama in this year’s presidential campaign was again the #1 story on the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories and people on news/talk radio for the week of May 21-25.  At #2 was the Euro Zone crisis.  Following at #3 was the financial markets activity and at #4 was Facebook IPO troubles.  The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  Fox Sports Radio Network adds four new affiliates owned by Federated Media.  WFGA-FM, Ft. Wayne; WAOR-FM, South Bend; WLEG-FM, Elkhart, Indiana; and WNIL, Niles, Michigan all begin carrying FSRN programming, including Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, “Loose Cannons,” Petros & Money, “Fox Sports Tonight” and more beginning June 4…..WRDU-FM, Raleigh – Rush Radio 106.1 – adds the Allan Handelman show to its weekend lineup.  Handelman’s program was the afternoon drive show at WZKT-FM, Burlington, North Carolina until a recent format flip…..KUFO, Portland picks up Talk Radio Network’s “Watchdog on Wall Street with Chris Markowski”…..“Armed American Radio” with Mark Walters adds six new stations to his affiliate roster including: WGWD-FM, Tallahassee; WWNS, Statesboro, Georgia; and WKEI, Kewanee, Illinois.

 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

| May 24, 2012

The Future of Tribune Company – and WGN, Chicago – Up in the Air After Bankruptcy Exit.  An article in Crain’s Chicago Business offers some speculation – based on interviews with business consultants and Tribune’s court filings – on the future of the parts of the publishing and broadcasting giant.  While its only radio property – WGN, Chicago – is not mentioned specifically in the piece, the broadcast division is and the theme of the article is that it appears the parts of Tribune are worth more than the whole and they may be sold off.  Tribune is organizing its various newspaper and TV properties into streamlined LLCs in preparation for presenting its reorganization plan to the court next month.  One expert states the synergy of print and broadcast never materialized for Tribune and he expects the parts to be sold.  Hubbard Broadcasting CEO Stanley Hubbard is quoted saying his company might be interested in the broadcasting properties if the price is right but said he has had no discussions with the company.

Martha Zoller Wraps Radio Show; Is Official Candidate for Congress in Georgia.  Georgia-based radio talk show host Martha Zoller did her last radio program for Cox Media’s WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia – talk/sports hybrid Bulldog 103.7 – and is now officially on the campaign trail.  Zoller’s last program was May 11 and her campaign announced yesterday, May 23, that she has qualified for the Republican primary for the newly created 9th Congressional District in Georgia which takes place on July 31.  She will face State Representative Doug Collins and Jackson Commission Chairman Hunter Bicknell in the open primary.  She says in a campaign statement, “For far too long, professional politicians and entrenched bureaucrats have run amuck in Washington without any adult supervision.  I am going to Congress to hold Washington accountable and end the reckless spending, borrowing, and debt that is threatening the future of our nation and the security of the American people.”  WXKT-FM has not announced a permanent replacement host for Zoller’s late morning program.

CNN Ratings Part of Larger News and TV Numbers Slump.  The New York TimesBill Carter writes an analysis of the ratings problems plaguing Time Warner’s CNN on the heels of recent record low showings.  The cable news network’s Nielsen numbers for the week of May 14 were down – averaging just 395,000 total viewers in prime time – while Piers Morgan’s May 15 program garnered just 39,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic.  Carter writes that CNN has been hurt by strong programming from the networks during the May sweeps plus a lack of major breaking news – something that has always helped CNN boost its numbers.  But Carter notes that CNN isn’t the only network affected.  Even though Fox News Channel is head and shoulders above CNN in the prime time ratings, FNC only grabbed 395,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic during that week – a four-year low for Fox.  It should be noted that ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” finale and Fox TV’s “American Idol” performance finale – two of TV’s highest-performing non-sports shows over the past few years, had dramatically lower audiences than the previous year.  While “DWTS” had 17.5 million total viewers, that was down 18% from last spring’s finale.

New Media Seminar/NYC on Verge of Quickest Sellout in Conference’s 15-Year History.  The combination of a power-packed agenda, one-day format and significantly reduced registration fee have combined to make the upcoming New York City installment of the new bi-coastal, recession-era version of the talk media industry’s annual convention an extremely hot ticket.  According to the industry-only event’s organizers at TALKERS magazine, this will be the earliest sellout in its colorful 15 year history.  Due to capacity regulations, the selling of registrations for the Thursday, June 7 event will cease at the close of business on Friday of this week.  After that, registrations will only be issued on a stand-by basis. NMS director Michael Harrison states, “We are extremely gratified by the positive response to this new ‘austerity version’ of the New Media Seminar.  The idea of compacting it into a one-day event, getting rid of the expensive frills, reducing the cost of registration by 75%, and organizing an agenda that can be described as nothing short of relentless, is striking a positive chord in the business.  Also, the fact that there will be a West Coast version of the event in Los Angeles on October 11 is an innovation that has been very well received.  That one will be a blockbuster too.”  To see the full up-to-the-minute agenda of the New York conference, click here.  For registration or sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.

Two Local Sports Talk Shows to Debut on KXPS, Palm Springs.  CRC Media’s KXPS, Palm Springs (licensed to Thousand Palms, California) announces it will bring two new live and local programs to sports talker Team 1010 beginning June 4.  Julie Buehler will host “Buehler’s Day Off” daily from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and Pete Fox joins the station to co-host “On the Air with Fox and Lecair” from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  MyDesert.com reports Buehler is an award-winning radio host who recently worked as part of the Indianapolis Colts broadcasting team.  Fox has served as a host and reporter at KSPN, Los Angeles.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Cox Media syndicated talk star Neal Boortz sits in the anchor chair at CNBC filling in for Larry Kudlow on the cable channel’s “The Kudlow Report” tonight at 7:00 pm ET.  Boortz will work with co-host and CNBC chief international correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera…..WNRP, Pensacola afternoon drive talk host Brandon Rathert wins two awards – a local Edward R. Murrow Award for “Investigative Reporting” and an Associated Press award for “Best Public Affairs” for the documentary he produced on the local sheriff’s office…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment ups Matt Derrick to regional program manager for the Wilmington, Delaware and Salisbury, Maryland markets…..The actual price Clear Channel is paying for Stephen Mindich’s WFNX-FM, Boston is $14.5 million, a bit more than the $11 million we reported after the story broke.

2012 Presidential Race, Facebook IPO Investigations, Egypt Elections, and Pakistan Jails bin Laden Tracker Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/23).  The battle between Republican challenger Mitt Romney and President Obama; the complex controversy over the Facebook IPO and the lawsuits it appears to be creating; the elections in Egypt; and the jailing of the doctor who aided the U.S. in finding Osama bin Laden in Pakistan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Jeff Katz Welcomes Israeli Talk Host.  WXKS, Boston – Talk 1200 – morning drive host Jeff Katz  (l) is pictured here with Ari Abramowitz (r) – the leading English-language talk show host in Israel.  Katz tells TALKERS Abramowitz stopped by the program to say hello while visiting the United States and Katz forced him to check out the two Associated Press awards he recently won!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

| May 23, 2012

Clark Howard Takes on Expanded Role at HLN.  Consumer affairs expert and nationally syndicated talk radio host Clark Howard is going to get more face time at Time Warner’s HLN cable channel.  Howard, who does a weekend program at HLN and contributes to the channel’s “Morning Express” program, will be part of an ensemble weekday afternoon news program titled, “Evening Express” airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET.  Howard will be partnered with TruTV’s Ryan Smith, who will handle lead anchor duties, and British journalist Isha Sesay who has worked for CNN International and serves as a correspondent for CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”  In a statement, HLN says the new program is designed to take a “solutions-oriented look at the day’s news, accompanied by deeper discussions and reporting on stories and issues that resonate in the American household – including parenting, education, health, personal finance and relationships.”

Utah Jazz Owner Confirmed to Buy Salt Lake City Sports Talk Combo.  The reported sale of the former Simmons Media sports talk duo KZNS-AM/FM, Salt Lake City to the Larry H. Miller Group is being confirmed by broker Patrick Communications.  The price for the two signals is $3.25 million.  The deal means Utah Jazz play-by-play will move to the new stations after being heard on Cumulus Media’s KFNZ which the Larry H. Miller Group had been operating under an LMA.  At the same time, Fox Sports Radio Network announces it will continue to provide programming for the stations under the new ownership with both the AM and FM sides airing “Fox Sports Tonight,” JT the Brick and the slate of weekend Fox Sports shows.  Premiere NetworksJim Rome will also be heard on the stations.  The FM side of the broadcast will also carry “Fox Sports Daybreak” and the “Petros & Money” show.  Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment SVP of broadcasting Chris Baum states, “We are very pleased to continue our affiliation with Fox Sports Radio as we move to 1280 The Zone and Fox Sports Radio 97.5.  The FSR shows complement our local lineup very well on our new 50,000-watt AM signal, and the additional coverage on our FM signal will allow us to better reach and serve sports fans, and Jazz fans in particular, all along the Wasatch Front.”

Kevin Sheehan Extends Deal with Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington.  Red Zebra Broadcasting announces midday co-host Kevin Sheehan – who co-hosts “The Sports Fix” with Thom Loverro – has signed a two-year deal to remain with the company.  Sheehan also continues with the Washington Redskins Radio Network where he hosts the “Official Redskins Pre-Game Show.”  Sheehan will also contribute to the Tony Kornheiser program and co-host the “Monday Morning Quarterback” after each Redskins game.  Vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says, “Kevin is as versatile as anyone in the field.  He does so much for us.  I look forward to working with him through 2014 and many years to come.”

Former New York Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro Co-Hosting with WOR’s Governor David Paterson.  As per New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams, former New York Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro is sitting alongside former Governor David Paterson as he hosts the PM drive show on WOR, New York as a sort of tryout to see if a duo concept works for the program.

ESPN Hosts Affiliates at “Audio Avenue II” Day in Bristol, Connecticut.  The outdoor quad at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut will be busy today as the company hosts talent from its four O&O stations and from 12 affiliate stations for a daylong live broadcast event.  ESPN Audio SVP Mo Davenport states, “Audio Avenue brings the concept of ‘ESPN Everywhere’ to life.  Each of these shows and markets represent what our listeners love, the opportunity to hear from experts locally, nationally and globally.”  Along with the hosts and producers broadcasting from “Audio Avenue,” participants will include network and affiliate management, account executives, program directors, clients, ESPN employees and those involved with ESPN Audio’s promotions, marketing and sales.  The day will also include two “Block Party Breakout” luncheons focusing on the production of “Mike & Mike in the Morning” and listener demographic research.

Courtney Smith Promoted to Director of New Business at Beasley Las Vegas.  The Beasley Broadcasting Las Vegas cluster names Courtney Smith director of new business development and marketing & events manager.  Smith has served at the company since 2006 when she joined as a promotions assistant.  She was promoted to marketing director and added events coordinator to her duties in 2009.  Vice president and general manager Tom Humm states, “I’m constantly amazed with the promotions and events that Courtney conceptualizes from scratch and pleased by the successful results they achieve.  She always makes Beasley shine. Courtney has earned this promotion and I’m very proud of her for that accomplishment.”

Facebook IPO Case, 2012 Presidential Election, Euro Zone Instability and Georgia Teacher Criticizes Student for Questioning Obama Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/22).  Securities regulators investigate Facebook IPO; the 2012 presidential election and questions over whether Hillary Clinton will replace Joe Biden as vice presidential candidate; Greece’s status as a member of the European Union; and the case of the Georgia teacher who bullied a student for criticizing President Obama were some of the most talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

| May 22, 2012

Arbitron Releases Spring 2012 Edition of ‘Radio Today by the Numbers.’  The research-based brochure published by Arbitron with data from Scarborough Research, 2012 USA TouchPoints and the Radio Effectiveness Program, Ipsos OTX 2010-2011 that quantifies the reach and value of radio as an advertising tool is being released to clients.  The study is packed with slides designed for use by stations and groups to demonstrate to broadcasters, agencies and advertisers in presentations the effectiveness of the medium.  For example, the slide seen here indicates American adults ages 18-64 spend 69% of their audio entertainment time with radio compared to 11% with iPods/mp3s, 9% with satellite radio, 6% with CD players and 5% with streaming internet.  Arbitron states the data also makes a case for radio advertisings’ brand awareness and purchasing intent and more.

Morning Show Changes at KSEV, Houston; Sam Malone Out, ‘Mack’ Machowicz In.  Houston radio personality Sam Malone is out as morning drive host at Dan Patrick’s KSEV, Houston after two years as morning drive host.  Malone tells the Houston Chronicle owner Dan Patrick told him he wants to take the morning show “in another direction.”  KSEV general manager Marc McCoy tells the paper “topic selection, the way the topics would be discussed and the interaction with the audience would be better served with Mack.”  That’s Richard “Mack” Machowicz, new morning host and former Navy SEAL and television host who’s produced shows including Discovery Channel’s “FutureWeapons” and Spike TV’s “Deadliest Warriors.”  He’s also contributed to History Channel’s “America: The Story of US.”  Prior to his work at KSEV, Malone had worked at crosstown music-formatted KRBE-FM for 12 years.

Gregg Hersholt Returns to Seattle to Co-Host AM Drive at Fisher’s KOMO.  For 25 years Gregg Hersholt was a morning drive voice on crosstown KIRO, Seattle.  He left KIRO-FM in 2010 and spent time at Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL-FM, Portland as PM drive anchor and managing editor.  Now, he’s back in Seattle alongside Manda Factor on KOMO-AM/FM’s morning show.  He replaces Bill Yeend who recently retired.  KOMO program director Paul Duckworth tells Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor Hersholt has a lot of equity in the market.  “Bill Yeend is one-of-a-kind, but I’m excited to hear Gregg team up with Manda Factor, who I think is one of the very best in this business.”  Hersholt starts on June 11.

WDAE, Tampa Names Tom Jones and Rick Stroud AM Drive Hosts.  Clear Channel’s Tampa-market sports talk outlet announces the permanent replacements for former AM drive host Dan Sileo who exited the station in March.  Tampa Bay Times sports writers Tom Jones and Rick Stroud begin hosting the station’s morning show today (5/22).  In a statement, CC Tampa president and market manager Sam Nein says, “Tom Jones and Rick Stroud are Tampa Bay sports experts and we’re excited to have them host mornings on 620 WDAE.  Their wealth of knowledge, relationships and history in the market will make mornings on 620 WDAE the place for Tampa Bay sports fans to start their day.” Jones and Stroud have worked together in Tampa sports journalism for more than 20 years.

Talk Host Neal Boortz Nominated for Seat on Georgia Supreme Court.  The Cox Media nationally syndicated talk host is one of almost three dozen Georgia attorneys nominated for an opening seat on the state’s highest court.  Neal Boortz practiced law until 1992 before making talk radio his sole full-time gig.  In order to be considered for the judicial post he must complete the Judicial Nominating Commission’s application packet, something Boortz has indicated he will do.  The sheer volume of candidates – including several sitting judges – seems to indicate Boortz is a longshot for the post even if he’s serious about being considered.  Nonetheless, it’s a pretty cool piece of PR for the Atlanta-based talk superstar.

Howard Stern Show’s Robin Quivers to Have Surgery for Tumor.  The longtime co-host of the Howard Stern program announced to the show’s listeners that she will undergo surgery for a tumor in the near future.  Robin Quivers, Stern’s sidekick since 1981, stated on the SiriusXM show that doctors say she has a large tumor pressing against her bladder – whether the tumor is cancerous or not is not known – and that she has a surgery date scheduled.

Odds ‘n’ Sods. Premiere Networks talk host George Noory is the narrator in the film “Joplin, Missouri,” being released today (5/22) on the first anniversary of the tornado that decimated the town.  Noory states, “After witnessing the horror of that Joplin tornado, friends from Missouri asked me if I’d participate in this documentary, and without hesitation, I said ‘Yes!’”  Noory (r) is pictured here with the film’s producer and director Chip Gubera (l) at Smith-Lee Studios in St. Louis.  The documentary premieres today in Columbia, Missouri with two screenings at Ragtag Cinema…..Thursday evening at 6:00 pm ET, SiriusXM’s Book Radio presents “A Conversation with Conan O’Brien” from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.  The satcaster states the award-winning television host, comedian, writer and producer will discuss the art of comedy, his fascination with presidential history and politics and his connection to President Kennedy…..Hubbard Broadcasting announces the web portal GovEvents.com will power the events section of Washington, DC station WFED’s website.  GovEvents delivers news of government and military-related events worldwide and, says WFED, “Federal News Radio listeners now have access to federally-focused conferences and events happening in the DC-metro area.”…..Cumulus Media’s WPRO and 99.7 FM News in Providence wins the Associated Press’ News Station of the Year award.  The news/talk outlet also won for Best Coverage of Breaking News, Best Continuing Coverage, Best Website and Investigative Reporting.

2012 Presidential Race, Catholics Challenge ObamaCare in Court, G8/NATO Summits, Facebook Stock Sinks and Rutgers Student Verdict Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/21).  The 2012 campaign for president; the suits by various Catholic organizations against the Obama Administration over its health care law reproductive medicine stipulations; the weekend’s G8 and NATO summits and the resulting Afghanistan policies; the criticism over the NASDAQ Facebook IPO; and the sentencing of a former Rutgers University student in the suicide of his former roommate were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

KIDO, Boise’s Kevin Miller Visits Fort Hood.  KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller recently visited Fort Hood, Texas to see off members of the Idaho Army National Guard’s 168th General Aviation Battalion as they deploy to Afghanistan.  Miller says he delivered “stories of training, patriotism and sacrifice” as the soldiers prepared to leave the country.  He also visited with Idaho Army National Guard staff sergeant Jason Rzepa (pictured here at right with Miller).  Rzepa is a double amputee who is rehabbing at Fort Sam Houston after being injured in an IED attack that killed two fellow Idaho National Guard soldiers and cost him his legs.  Miller tells TALKERS magazine he is proud of the multi-platform efforts of the Peak Broadcasting station in supporting the troops.

Monday, May 21, 2012

| May 21, 2012

The State of News in News/Talk Radio.  The rise of digital news sources, today’s quickening news cycle and the economic realities of our times are forcing news/talk radio stations to evaluate their news product and adapt to continue to serve their listeners.  In a feature story by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey, some of today’s top news/talk programmers speak on the record about their news philosophy, how they are integrating digital tools, news as a cume builder, the relationship between news and talk and their thoughts on the state of journalism.   Read this feature piece here.

NOW-Organized Protest of Rush Limbaugh at WMAL, Washington Fizzles.  The National Organization for Women-sponsored “Enough Rush” campaign got off to an ignominious start outside the studios of affiliate WMAL, Washington, DC Friday, May 18 as just seven protesters marched.  As reported by Fox News, NOW announced the campaign against the Premiere Networks talk radio superstar in April and has partnered with Media Matters for America to target affiliate stations and their advertisers.  Friday’s event in DC was part of a national protest scheduled for that day.  Reports of substantial protests at other Limbaugh affiliate stations have not surfaced.

Cox Media Offers to End Paul Finebaum Issue with Contract Buyout.  The Birmingham Business Journal is reporting that Cox Media – which put sports talk outlet WZNN-FM, Birmingham on the air last September – is again offering to buy out sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s contract with Cumulus Media and its WJOX-FM, Birmingham.  Regular TALKERS readers are aware of the ongoing legal battle between Cumulus and Finebaum that goes back to when the station was part of the Citadel group.  Finebaum’s popular sports talk show has been based at WJOX-FM and regionally syndicated.  While Cumulus would probably like to stop paying legal fees in the ongoing dispute, it may not want to have Finebaum working for a competing station in the market – at least not right away – however it’s likely he’ll end up working there eventually.  There’s no response yet from Cumulus on the offer.

RAB Reports Radio Revenue Up 1% in First Quarter of 2012.  The Radio Advertising Bureau issued a report on Friday, May 18 concluding advertising revenue for all of radio was up 1% for the first quarter of 2012 – the third consecutive Q1 increase – for total revenue of $3.814 billion.  RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “Q1 2012 results confirm that radio commands a solid position in brands’ total marketing plans.  While advertisers continue to capitalize on radio’s spot and network efficiencies, they’re increasingly utilizing local digital capabilities and audience engagement that this medium affords.”  From a category standpoint, spot revenue was flat, network was up 8%, digital rose 10%, and off-air was up 3% for Q1 in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  WXKS, Boston – Talk Radio 1200 – morning drive talk host Jeff Katz wins two Associated Press Awards – one for “Best Talk Show in Boston” and the other for “Best Public Affairs Broadcast” for his special remote from the Fisher House in Boston…..Salem Radio Network talk host Dennis Prager co-hosts CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” alongside Brian Sullivan tonight at 7:00 pm ET.  SRN states, “With the just-launched IPO for Facebook as well as the unfolding 2012 battle between Mitt Romney and President Obama, Dennis Prager brings his unique background as a talk radio host, author, lecturer and societal observer to CNBC in what will surely be an eye-opening experience for ‘Kudlow Report’ viewers!”…..SiriusXM announces veteran soccer commentator and former player and coach Ray Hudson will host ‘The Football Show’ alongside fellow soccer experts Charlie Stillitano, Neil Barnett and John Harkes.  Hudson has been a commentator for Gol TV since 2004 and is widely known for his elaborate and excitable play-calling style.  Also from SiriusXM, three-time SEC Coach of the Year Houston Nutt has joined SiriusXM as an analyst on its 24/7 college sports channel.  Nutt will host multiple shows each week on SiriusXM College Sports Nation including ‘College Sports Today’ with Mark Packer and ‘College Football Playbook’ with Jack Arute…..Former WGNU, St. Louis talk host Leonardo Drisdel was found guilty of the 2005 murder of Cassandra Kovack on Friday.  He’ll be sentenced on June 29.

Clark Howard to Help Break Ground for New Home for Joplin Tornado Victims.  Cox Media syndicated talk show host Clark Howard heads to Joplin, Missouri tomorrow along with a team of his listeners to break ground on a new home for a family that lost its home to last spring’s tornado that hit the city.  Howard will broadcast his Tuesday program live from the build site to recognize the one-year anniversary of the tornado.  Clark Howard is funding the Joplin home himself.  However, he joined forces with Cox’s KRMG, Tulsa to promote the build and KRMG even had advertisers chip in for a storm shelter for the house and due to the listeners’ overwhelming support for the build in Joplin, they teamed with Clark to build a home in Tulsa this past weekend.  The home is being funded by monies raised by listeners and Howard.  He says, “I love Habitat for Humanity because it is a hand up and not a hand out.  Homeowners have to meet strict qualification guidelines and put in hundreds of hours of sweat equity to build their own home and other Habitat homes.  It is not a free house.  It is a low-cost mortgage.”

Vic “The Brick” Jacobs Rides the Zamboni at L.A. Kings Game.  Yes, that’s Fox Sports Radio sports talk host Vic “The Brick” Jacobs – of the network’s “Loose Cannons” show – on the zamboni during last Thursday’s L.A. Kings NHL playoff game.  In addition to being at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the game, Jacobs (decked out in his Kings jersey and crown) did a post-game interview with Kings rookie Dwight King who scored the winning goal.

Friday, May 18, 2012

| May 18, 2012

Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Hits 10 Million Registered Users in Eight Months.  The digital media player that Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has been vigorously promoting is growing, according to CC, “faster than nearly all other entertainment platforms, including Pandora, Facebook, Spotify and Instagram.”  The iHeartRadio player has more than 10 million users since the 10 million figure includes just registered users – only required for the custom station service.  Brian Lekamp, president of digital for CCME, states, “iHeartRadio has demonstrated incredibly rapid adoption, more than two times faster than other leading entertainment services – it’s mind-blowing.  We are thrilled with the consumer reaction and feedback.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, using the tremendous promotional power of our broadcast radio properties, has been able to drive this adoption like no other company could.  iHeartRadio offers a great product supported by unparalleled promotional capabilities.”

NPR Facing Fiscal Downturn; May End Year in the Red.  In a piece by Paul Farhi for the Washington Post, the challenging financial situation NPR is dealing with as the U.S. economy continues to struggle is brought to light.  New CEO Gary Knell tells Farhi NPR has operated at a deficit three out of the past four years and had to dip into its endowment fund to cover expenses.  This comes after the brutal 2008 fiscal year in which NPR was forced to cut 7% of its workforce after coming up $23 million short.  The situation for NPR is that corporate underwriting – or advertising – has fallen dramatically.  Instability in some of the corporate positions responsible for fundraising and underwriting have not helped the content provider, either.  NPR states that through March of this year, it was operating at a deficit of $2.6 million beyond what the endowment covers and when the end of its fiscal year rolls around in September, it may still be in the red.  Knell has told employees the last thing he wants to do is cut staffing and programming but he also states NPR cannot continue to operate as it is.  He tells the Post, “NPR has been withdrawing from the bank and we can’t keep doing that,” he said. “We have to be at break-even or be in a positive position on an annual basis, or I can tell you at some point we’re going to have to turn the lights off.”

CNN Suffers Lowest Prime Time Rating in 15 Years.  Time Warner’s CNN is getting more bad news after getting clobbered in the April Nielsen’s released last week.  Now, TVNewser reports “Piers Morgan Tonight” – which aired at 9:00 ET – pulled in just 39,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo on Tuesday, May 15.  The show garnered 284,000 total viewers which was not a record low.  The piece notes the program faced competition in the form of the season finale of “NCIS: L.A.,” “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing with the Stars” which, all together, had 39 million total viewers.

WOWO, Fort Wayne Reporter Held in Contempt for Phone Use in Court.  WOWO, Fort Wayne news director Dave Wheaton was found in contempt at the Allen County Superior Court for using a station-owned iPhone while covering a guilty plea at a murder case at the courthouse.  Two sheriff’s deputies noticed Wheaton texting on the phone – a violation of court rules – and confiscated the phone.  Wheaton told Judge Fran Gull he did not see the numerous signs warning of the ban on phones in the courtroom to which the judge replied, “Candidly, I don’t believe you,” reports the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.  The ban has been in effect since 2007 after courtroom attendees were found taking photos.  The judge ordered the phone destroyed but allowed WOWO owner Federated Media to download the contents first.

The State and Future of News on America’s News/Talk Radio Stations.  The rise of digital news sources, today’s quickening news cycle and the economic realities of our times are forcing news/talk radio stations to evaluate their news product and adapt to continue to serve their listeners.  In a feature story by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey coming to Talkers.com next week, programmers speak on the record about their news philosophy and its practical application.  KMOX, St. Louis operations director Steve Moore says despite the factors some think puts radio at a disadvantage for news, it’s still a very important element.  “Local news is the foundation for everything we do and that includes providing content and information for our programming staffs.  That relationship goes both ways.  Talent use their connections to flesh out stories that are heard on our newscasts.  A strong, local news department should be the perfect complement to a good talk show host.”  Read what some of today’s top news/talk programmers are saying about the state of news on their stations and in the larger media mix at Talkers.com next week.

Michael Harrison to Speak at New Jersey Broadcasters Association Conference.  June promises to be a busy month for Michael Harrison.  Less than one short week after the New Media Seminar in NYC, the publisher and founder of TALKERS magazine will deliver a special address at the 65th Annual New Jersey Broadcasters Association Conference on June 13.  The address titled, “The Future of the Stick and the Shtick: How Terrestrial Radio can Thrive in the Digital Age,” will provide a realistic focus on the key issues and challenges facing AM and FM radio today as it finds its place in the new and exotic landscape of 21st century technology and culture.  One of the key points that Harrison plans to make is that even though talk radio broadcasters are licking their chops at the prospect of music radio’s demise, one of the keys to talk radio’s growth in the coming years will actually be the survival and revival of music radio as a commercial and cultural force.  Harrison says, “An AM and FM band of only spoken word programming will not be enough to keep terrestrial radio afloat.  For terrestrial radio of all formats to have a healthy place from which to operate, it must reclaim ownership of the music scene – no doubt a daunting task.”  Harrison goes on to say that this can actually be done.  “The music scene in America has a desperate need for big-time leadership in terms of breaking new artists and product as well as defining and creating a cultural environment in which a healthy and  purposeful industry can operate.  This is something that radio has historically done effectively and can do again in the new century.”  Harrison suggests the key to doing this is to bring back the disc jockey as a viable broadcasting art form and the plugged-in music director as a connection to the street and marketplace.  “When music radio gave up its franchise on personalities – on-air talents who can present, deliver, and ‘sell’ a song, it set in motion its own destruction as well as inflicting damage to the music business itself.  It is not too late to correct this.”  The 65th Annual NJBA Conference will take place at Caesar’s Atlantic City June 12-13.  For information call 888-657-2346.

2012 Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM for 7th Consecutive Week.  The race for president between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney once again was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of May 14-18, 2012.  Following at #2 was the Greece and Euro Zone fiscal crisis; at #3 was world financial markets activity; and at #4 was President Obama’s gay marriage stance.  The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart of the top stories and people on news/talk radio here.

Commentators of the Year.  That’s ESPN’s Mike Golic – co-host of ESPN Radio’s and ESPN2’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show (c) – holding the awards given to him and co-host Mike Greenberg (not pictured) for being named Team ESPN’s Volunteer Commentators of the Year.  Next to Golic are ESPN EVP of production John Wildhack (l) and president of ESPN, Inc. John Skipper (r).  Golic and Greenberg were honored at a luncheon yesterday (5/17) with the award given to an ESPN commentator “who provides positive impact in the community through his or her volunteer efforts.”  The duo led the way on ESPN Radio for the “Don’t Give Up ESPYs V Foundation Auction” which raised more than $800,000 for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  They have contributed their personal time to emcee the Jimmy V Basketball dinner, and visit military sites, like the Intrepid this year for ESPN’s Veterans Week.  Each received $1,000 to be donated to the charity of their choice and both elected to give it to The V Foundation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

| May 17, 2012

Sean Hannity Named to Keynote New Media Seminar in New York on June 7.  The Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel superstar has been named to headline an agenda of talk media industry luminaries that includes leaders from the ranks of talent, programming, management and sales.  Sean Hannity tells TALKERS his address will cover such pressing industry issues as confusion over non-rated platforms, attempts to silence opposition speech, proliferation of multi-media talk venues and the imminent explosion of a wide variety of content. He says, “My speeches in the past have focused on the theme, ‘the best is yet to come,’ which I still fully believe – but we face a number of present-day obstacles that have popped up along the way that we as an industry must address and overcome.”  Hannity joins the ranks of more than 60 speakers who will be addressing a capacity gathering of 500 attendees at the East Coast installment of this year’s New Media Seminar (the West Coast installment is set for Los Angeles on October 11).  Organizers expect the industry-only New York segment to be sold out by early next week.  For last-minute registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.  To see the latest complete agenda, click here.

Clear Channel Agrees to Buy Alternative WFNX-FM, Boston for Rumored $11 Million.  Stephen Mindich is the publisher of the Boston Phoenix alt-weekly who’s owned WFNX-FM since 1983.  He says the station has been difficult to keep afloat since the recession began in late 2008 so he’s selling it to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.  Now, the format rumor mill begins grinding and there’s certainly reason for CC to give low-ranking news/talk outlet WXKS – at 1200 on the AM dial – an FM boost.  The station carries Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and despite the talent of morning drive talk pro Jeff Katz and PM drive market vet Jay Severin the station continues to underperform.  As is customary, CC is not tipping its hand about a format change but local media reports indicate 17 of the 21 staffers at the station have been notified of their termination.  Releases from both parties do not indicate if Clear Channel will begin operating the station under an LMA or wait for FCC approval of the sale.

Report:  Streaming Media East Confab Provides Insights for Talk Radio.  Talk radio consultant Holland Cooke delivers nuggets like this: “It’s not how many Friends you have, it’s how many are talking about you,” as he distills some of the advice on building media brands via Facebook (and more) that he gathered at this week’s Streaming Media East conference in New York City.  Read Holland’s entire report here

Forbes Releases World’s Most Powerful Celebrities List for 2012; Limbaugh, Beck, and Stern Make the Grade.  The annual World’s Most Powerful Celebrities List has been released by Forbes and Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host Rush Limbaugh is the highest-ranked radio talk host at #19.  Fellow Premiere host Glenn Beck is close behind at #23 and SiriusXM talk star Howard Stern landed at #30.  Forbes ranks celebs based on how they score in five factors: money, TV/radio, press, web and social.

Utah Jazz Owner to Buy KZNS-AM/FM, Salt Lake City.  The Larry H. Miller Group – owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz – is finalizing a deal to buy sports talk KZNS-AM/FM, Salt Lake City which would become the radio base for the team.  Currently, LHM Group is LMAing crosstown KFNZ but that deal ends this month and owner Cumulus Media is not interested in continuing to LMA the station, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune.  LHM Group and Utah Jazz president Randy Rigby tells the paper the group will put together the best sports talk hosts from both KZNS and KFNZ, “This is going to be a super sports powerhouse radio station.”  It is currently negotiating with talent and did not disclose which of the two stations’ current hosts will end up working at KZNS.  The station is owned by the SLC Divestiture Trust operated by Larry Patrick.

Courtside Entertainment Group’s “Loveline” Partners with Ustream for Web Video Distribution.  Fans of Courtside Entertainment Group’s “Loveline” radio show hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky, Simone Bienne and Mike Catherwood will be able to see streaming video of the program via Ustream.  In addition to the program being seen live on ustream.tv, affiliate stations will have access to the embedded Ustream player for fans to view and interact with on their websites.  Courtside vice president Katie Walsh states, “By partnering with Ustream to offer a video component of ‘Loveline,’ we are able to provide fans with more access and interaction than ever before.  We look forward to extending our reach and providing fans with more ways to connect with ‘Loveline’ through Ustream.”  Courtside reports that after working with Ustream for a month, it saw a 107% increase in “Loveline” viewers on its Ustream channel – more than doubling “Loveline” viewership in a one-month period.

Daily “Sports Biz Today” Program Debuts in Syndication May 21.  The AudioTracks Broadcasting Services-produced “Sports Biz Today” program hosted by Fred Wallin and Howard Bloom goes live and into national syndication on Monday, May 21.  Both Wallin and Bloom have long sports media resumes: Wallin has worked at Fox Sports Radio and The Sports Radio Network as well as at ESPN and Fox Sports Net and Bloom publishes SportsBusinessNews.com and has worked with Fox Sports Radio and Sporting News Radio to name a few.  The program is available for terrestrial stations via Cable Radio Network and is also being broadcast on the web via Passionate Talk Radio and Mile Hi Radio.  It airs live from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm ET.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  CBS Radio names Danny Bortnick vice president and director of sales for its Washington, DC cluster that includes sports talk WJFK-FM and all-news WNEW-FM…..SiriusXM adds “Dan Dunn’s Happy Hour” to its lineup on the SiriusXM Stars Too channel.  The weekly show hosted by the former Playboy writer and mixology expert will air live on Thursday evenings at 7:00…..The nationally syndicated Dawson McAillster-hosted “The Hopeline” names Jessica McVay-Kershner on-air co-host/internet radio coordinator for the show.  Jessica is the daughter of long time consultant and current Cumulus Media VP/programming Mike McVay…..James Ingstad-owned KJOX, Kennewick, Washington – 1340 ESPN Tri-Cities – begins airing programming from Bonneville’s KIRO, Seattle from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.  The station is also the market’s affiliate for Seattle Mariners baseball….. The regionally syndicated, Rochelle, Illinois-based Michael Koolidge program expands to WTAD, Quincy, Illinois and WKAN, Kankakee, Illinois…..KMOX, St. Louis business reporter Rick Desloge died on Monday at age 63 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Montreal Broadcaster Ted Bird Joins CKGM, Montreal Morning Show.  Popular Montreal radio personality Ted Bird becomes part of the morning show at TSN Radio 990 (CKGM, Montreal) alongside Elliott Price and Shaun Starr.  Bird will focus on the Montreal sports scene.  He tells Broadcaster Magazine Canada, “I am extremely excited to join Elliott and Shaun on TSN Radio 990 and indulge in my passion for talking sports.  I feel privileged to work for the flagship radio station of the Montreal Canadiens and hitch my wagon with the TSN brand.  It will be an interesting off-season for the Canadiens, so we’ll have lots to talk about.  I can’t wait to get started.”  Bird recently left CHRK-FM, Montreal in a well-publicized  split that ended with him working at a Canadian aboriginal station.

2012 Presidential Race, Greece Teeters on Brink, Upcoming NATO Summit, Trayvon Martin Case and Budget Debate Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/16).  Some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday included the 2012 presidential race; the precarious state of Greece’s fiscal situation and its effect on the euro; the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago, new information in the Trayvon Martin case; and the U.S. budget debate in Washington, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

| May 16, 2012

Howard Stern’s Debut on “America’s Got Talent” Gets Mixed Ratings Results.  Although billed as a “judge,” iconic talk radio star Howard Stern’s debut on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” was one of the most-judged elements on the program.  The show’s season opener was one of Monday’s top shows with a 3.6 average rating in the 18-49 demo but that number was down from the program’s debut episode last season when it scored 4.3 average rating.  TVbytheNumbers reports the program faced stiffer competition this year.  Ratings for reality talent and music competition programs are down pretty much across the board this season and Stern’s effect on “America’s Got Talent” will be hard to judge.  The TV industry is dealing with softer ratings in prime time for almost all programming this season.  Meanwhile, TALKERS editorial board members report noticing that it seemed strange seeing Stern in the role of prime time TV “celebrity team player,” as opposed to being the focal point of his own edgy show.  Those expecting anything approaching “The Howard Stern Show” came away disappointed — including media watchdog groups.

Cumulus to Move Atlanta All-Newser Closer to the City.  Cumulus Media’s WYAY-FM, Gainesville, Georgia – soon to be the company’s new all-news outlet in the Atlanta market – will move from 106.7 to 106.5 and take Sandy Springs as its city of license if the FCC grants approval for the changes.  The move would put the new station’s tower much closer to the downtown area.  Currently, WYAY-FM’s class C signal emanates from a tower location about halfway between Atlanta and Athens to the east.

Social Media Ad Spending to Near $10 Billion by 2016.  That’s from BIA/Kelsey’s U.S. Local Media Forecast and it predicts that ad spending on social media will climb from the 2011 level of $3.8 billion spent to $9.8 billion in 2016.  The local segment of that revenue will go from 2011’s $840 million to $3.1 billion in 2016.  BIA/Kelsey’s Jed Williams states, “Better performance, coupled with richer formats and creative elements, like video, will be the principal social ad market growth drivers.  Social advertising’s local business penetration will steadily increase as SMBs’ understanding of social media deepens, and as the networks continually improve the ease of onboarding and campaign management.  Facebook opening its Ads API to more partners, including those that work with SMBs, and Twitter’s self-serve platform will help to ‘democratize’ social ads, which will ultimately lead to more local growth.”

Emmis Stock Continues to Be Traded on the NASDAQ.  Emmis’ listing on the NASDAQ was in jeopardy after falling under the $1 threshold late last year earning a de-listing notice from NASDAQ.  But Emmis stock rose above the $1 mark in late April and even hit $1.63 on May 2.  Emmis stated its case to a NASDAQ panel and the company was just informed it will continue to be traded on the board.

ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt Agrees to New Multi-Year Deal.  Twelve-year ESPN personality Scott Van Pelt agrees to a new multi-year extension with ESPN to remain a SportsCenter anchor and host his eponymous daily sports talk radio program.  Van Pelt joined ESPN in 2001 as its lead professional golf reporter.  He says he’s thrilled how his career at ESPN has turned out.  “I’ve always been a guy who was kind of on the wave wherever it took me.  And somehow it took me to where it did and I’m thankful.  I’m happy to stay in this boat, on this wave, until they’re done with me. . .None of this was even thinkable but here we are.  It’s baffling to me.”  The details of the new contract are not being disclosed.

WQAM, Miami Seals Contract Extension with University of Miami.  The Beasley Broadcasting sports talk station agrees with Hurricane Sports Properties to a five-year contract extension to keep football and men’s basketball games on WQAM.  The financial terms of the deal were not released.  The deal also calls for a certain number of baseball games to air as well as the weekly coaches’ shows with Joe Zagacki.  WQAM vice president and general manager Joe Bell states, “UM sports have been a huge part of WQAM for over a decade and we’re excited to continue that relationship.  Our listeners have come to expect the best from WQAM and it doesn’t get any better than Hurricane sports.”

ESPN Radio Unveils New App for iPhone, iPad and iTouch.  The sports entertainment giant announces it is releasing a new ESPN Radio app touting it as its “single, most definitive ESPN Radio app optimized for iPhone, iPod touch and – for the first time – iPad.  The app, sponsored by Lowe’s, creates a seamless, personalized sports listening experience both live and on demand and includes a new feature that allows fans to build their own sports stations. Additionally, fans now have the option to rewind live audio streams, including ESPN Deportes Radio.”  ESPN digital and print media vice president Marc Horine says, “With this update, fans now have complete control over their listening experience as the app provides the functionality to customize specifically by sports, teams and athletes they care most about.”

Euro Zone Tensions, Financial Markets Activity, 2012 Presidential Race, Obama Gay Marriage Stance, and Trayvon Martin Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/15).  The possibility of  Greece’s exit from the EU; the European effect on world financial markets; the 2012 presidential race; President Obama’s stance on gay marriage; and new information about George Zimmerman’s injuries in the Trayvon Martin case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

| May 15, 2012

Power-Packed Agenda Set for New Media Seminar June 7.  According to TALKERS magazine VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “In all the years we have been presenting radio industry conferences, I do not remember one quite like this in which so many outstanding speakers were packed into a single day’s event.  Our innovative model designed for an economically challenging era seems to be striking a very positive chord.  The New York City installment of 2012’s bi-coastal conference is only a few days away from being sold out.”  More than 60 industry leaders will address the key issues facing talk media between 9:00 am to 6:30 pm on Thursday, June 7 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side.  For registration and sponsorship information for this industry-only event call 413-565-5413.  To see the agenda click here.

Rush Limbaugh Named “Famous Missourian”; Choice Irks State Democrats.  Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Rush Limbaugh was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians yesterday in a closed ceremony at the state capitol in Jefferson City.  A bronze bust of the talk host was unveiled during the event.  State Democrats were disturbed by the ceremony that was not announced until 20 minutes prior to it beginning.  It took place in the chambers of the House of Representatives and Democrats were not allowed in.  Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley told the Kansas City Star the ceremony was closed because of the controversy and so that Limbaugh and his family could attend and be “treated respectfully.”  Democrats were not invited because earlier they signed a letter protesting the induction.  In a speech at the induction Limbaugh stated, “This is something I never, ever thought would happen to me…I want to express my deep gratitude. I’m exceptionally proud to accept this honor, and really very humbled.”  Limbaugh joins the ranks of such famous Missourians as Mark TwainHarry Truman and Dred Scott.

Dial Global’s Dennis Miller to Perform with Adam Carolla in November.  Nationally syndicated talk host Dennis Miller had comedian, TV star and podcaster Adam Carolla on his program yesterday (5/14) and the two announced they will perform live on stage together at the City National Grove in Anaheim on November 16.  Miller tells Carolla, “You know what I think about the way your mind works – it’s genius.”  In addition to his radio program, Dennis Miller has been doing live performances with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly on their “Bolder and Fresher Tour 2012.”  The duo recently performed at New York City’s Town Hall.

Anniversary Bash.  Journal Broadcasting’s KQTH-FM, Tucson – 104.1 The Truth – celebrated its fifth anniversary on Saturday, May 12 at the Casino Del Sol Resort.  Program director Ryan McCredden tells TALKERS, “The listeners, speakers, staff and sponsor response to the event was tremendous and we’re looking forward to another five great years of ‘The Truth’ in Tucson!”  Pictured here are (from l-r): Author and townhall.com writer Katie Pavlich, Radio America’s Roger Hedgecock, author and commentator S.E. Cupp, Talk Radio Network’s Jerry Doyle, KQTH-FM morning host Jon Justice and midday host James T. Harris.

New York Festivals Announces 2012 Radio Program and Promotion Awards World’s Best Radio Programs Finalists.  The New York Festivals breaks down the entries by country.  For the United States among commercial talk broadcasters, ESPN Radio is named a finalist in the Best Human Interest Story and Best Investigative Reporting categories.  “The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap” is a finalist for Best Regularly Scheduled Sports Program.  SiriusXM’sHoward Stern is a finalist for Best Special Event.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFBK, Sacramento is a finalist in the Health/Medical category.  Winners will be honored at a gala awards ceremony on June 18 at New York City’s Manhattan Penthouse.  See the entire slate of finalists here.

 

Compass Media Networks Names Booth Talent for Baseball Broadcasts.  For its 25 broadcasts of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim games Compass Media Networks recently announced it would distribute, the company has named its game coverage talent.  Former New York Mets general manager and current SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio morning host Steve Phillipswill be analyst for the broadcasts.  Others, whose appearance on the broadcasts will be determined by travel schedule and other commitments, include play-by-play announcers Chris Carrino and Steve Quis and analyst and former MLB player and executive Darryl Hamilton.

CBS Radio’s Stacie Schmidt Moves from Las Vegas to Cleveland.  Stacie Schmidt currently serves as director of marketing for CBS Radio’s Las Vegas cluster that includes news/talk KXNT-AM/FM.  She’s moving back to her home town of Cleveland to take the integrated sales and marketing position at CBS Radio’s cluster there that includes sports WKRK-FM – 92.3 the Fan.

Obama Newsweek Cover, 2012 Presidential Race, Euro Zone Hangs in Balance, JP Morgan Chase Loss and California Debt Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/14).  The “first gay president”Newsweek cover; the 2012 presidential race; the future of the euro zone as countries threaten to leave; the $2 billion loss at JP Morgan Chase; and California’s enormous debt problem were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Brooklyn in the House.  Sure, it’s easy to get supermodel and actress Brooklyn Decker to visit your radio show when hubby Andy Roddick is co-host of the program.  Decker is pictured here in the Fox Sports Radio studios with husband and tennis great Andy Roddick (c) and radio personality Bobby Bones (l).  The “Roddick and Bones” show airs on weekends on the FSRN.  During the interview Decker promoted her two new films, “Battleship” and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” both being released on May 18.

Monday, May 14, 2012

| May 14, 2012

TALKERS TV: WTOP Reporter Does All Field Reports on iPhone or iPad.  Things have changed, at least technologically, since WTOP, Washington reporter Neal Augenstein joined the heritage all-news outlet in 1999.  The newsroom was still equipped with reel-to-reel tape recorders and the portable bag phones that weighed as much as 15 pounds.  Since 2010, Neal has earned the distinction of being the first major market radio reporter who does all of his field production on an iPhone or iPad.  This week TALKERS TV presents the final installment of an exclusive three-part feature on the inner workings of all-news giant WTOP with an interview with Neal Augenstein in which he explains the theory behind and the method of using Apple’s smart phone as an extremely innovative and convenient tool for gathering, producing and presenting news in a multimedia venue.  See TALKERS TV at the top of the column on the upper right side of this page.

New Media Seminar New York Nears Sellout – Features Power-Packed Agenda.  Thursday, June 7 promises to be an important and exciting day for talk radio and related talk media as the East Coast installment of the industry’s largest and longest-running convention nears a sellout.  More than 60 industry leaders are scheduled to speak including (in alphabetical order): Nancy Abramson, executive director, Wall Street Journal Radio Network; Chuck Armstrong, APD, WABC, New York; Mike “Bax” Baxendale, co-host, “Bax and O’Brien” morning show, Rock 102, Springfield, MA; Rennie Bishop, PD WWRL, New York; Jim Bohannon, host, Dial Global Radio Networks; Phil Boyce, VP/director, spoken word format, Salem Communications; Dr. Joy Browne, host, WOR Radio; Laurie Cantillo, PD, WTOP, Washington, DC; Kevin Casey, VP/managing editor, TALKERS; Michael Castner, host, Wall Street Journal Radio Network; Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Alan Colmes, Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel; Holland Cooke, consultant, McVay/Cook Media; Andy Dean, host Premiere Networks; Dave Elswick, PD, KARN, Little Rock; Boomer Esiason, host, WFAN, New York; Barry Farber, host, Talk Radio Network/CRN Digital Talk Radio; Jim Farley, VP news and programming, WTOP, Washington, DC;  Terry Foxx, PD, KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh; Ian Freeman, co-host, Free Talk Live; Mike Gallagher, host, Salem Radio Network; Dom Giordano, host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Heidi Harris, host, KRLA, Los Angeles/KTIE, San Bernadino; Matthew B. Harrison, senior partner, Harrison Strategies; Michael Harrison, publisher, TALKERS; Ron Hartenbaum, president, WYD Media; Thom Hartmann, host, WYD Media; Bill Hess, PD, WMAL, Washington, DC;  Gabe Hobbs, president, Gabe Hobbs Media;  Jim Horn, PD, WSBA, York;  Gov. Mike Huckabee, host, Cumulus Media/Fox News Channel;  Rusty Humphries, host Talk Radio Network/WGST, Atlanta; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Tom Langmyer, VP/GM, WGN, Chicago; Tom Leykis, president, The New Normal; Lionel, president, LionelMedia.com; Mark Masters, CEO, Talk Radio Network; Mike McVay, SVP programming, Cumulus Media; Harvey Nagler, VP Radio, CBS News; Chris Oliviero,  SVP programming, CBS Radio; Cary Pahigian, market manager, Saga Communications/Portland; John Parikhal, president, Joint Communications; Ellen Ratner, bureau chief, Talk Radio News Service;  Mark Riley, host, WWRL, New York; Walter Sabo, president, Sabo Media; Todd Schnitt, host, Compass Media Networks; Ed Schultz, host, MSNBC/The Ed Schultz Show;  Doug Stephan, president, Stephan Multimedia; Chris Stigall, host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Alan Stock, host, KDWN, Las Vegas;  Peter Thiele, PD, WMCA/WNYM, New York; Joe Thomas, PD, WCHV, Charlottesville; Paul Vandenburg, president/GM, WGDJ, Albany; Steven J.J. Weisman, senior partner, Harrison Strategies; and Larry Young, host, WOLB, Baltimore; with more to be announced. A full agenda will be posted here tomorrow.  Also, today is the final day that discount rooms for seminar attendees at the nearby Doubletree will be available.  For registration and hotel information call 413-565-5413.

Sabo Sez:  If Every Station Was a Talk Station…  “Imagine if every radio station, except one, in every city was programmed fulltime as a talk station.  How would those talk stations differentiate themselves to the listener?  They couldn’t all take the same approach, they would have to appeal to different demos and psychographics,” says Sabo Media president Walter Sabo.  In his latest column for TALKERS, Sabo says that’s why spoken-word radio must be differentiated and targeted just as music-based radio is and therein lays the key to making a profit from an FM talk station.  Read Walter Sabo’s piece here.

Geraldo Rivera to Broadcast from WABC, New York-Sponsored Job Fair.  Cumulus Media news/talk WABC, New York and sister Hot AC WPLJ-FM are sponsoring the “Putting America Back to Work” job fair being held tomorrow (5/15) at the Jacob Javits Center and WABC and KABC, Los Angeles talk host Geraldo Rivera will broadcast his 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program live from the event.  Part of the broadcast will feature a panel of experts and CEOs discussing practical advice and tips for job seekers.  Cumulus New York states there will also be some 100 job recruiters from a wide range of industries with positions available on the scene.

KFWB, Los Angeles Re-Ups with NBA’s Clippers.  The NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and news/talk KFWB, Los Angeles sign a multi-year extension to keep the franchise’s games on the station.  Details of the terms are not being disclosed per team and station policy.  Station general manager Valerie K. Blackburn states, “We are so happy to forge forward with our relationship with the Clippers who have captured the hearts of Southern Californians and fans across the country.  The Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as a fan favorite in this town and are an extremely important part of our ongoing commitment to provide quality programming to our listeners.”  KFWB is operated by the KFWB Asset Trust and the KFWB License Trust, divestiture trusts under the management of Diane Sutter, president and CEO of ShootingStar Broadcasting.

Cumulus Media Signs With Triton Digital for Its Online Platform.  The country’s second largest radio station operator (measured by station count) will move the online platform of its more than 530 radio stations to the Triton Digital platform, according to a story in Radio InkCumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey states the company’s stations will be able to take advantage of the services provided by Triton Digital as well as providing a standard platform which will enable the transition to putting all of the company’s stations on iHeartRadio as announced several months ago.  It is expected the Cumulus stations will be available on Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s iHeartRadio within the next 45 to 60 days.

Greater Media Charlotte Names Billy Black Imaging Director.  News/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte and talk intensive sister Hot AC WLNK-FM have hired imaging pro Billy Black to serve as the imaging director for the stations.  For the past 10 years Black has worked at Clear Channel’s rock WRXR-FM, Chattanooga where he served as morning show host, program director and imaging director.  Greater Media Charlotte marketing administrator Jessica Reeves RoBards says, “He has imaged a ton of Clear Channel stations and made work parts and shells from scratch for companies like Frost Bytes.  This is unique because most imaging guys use pre-made beds and work parts, he makes his own.  He also had a stint at Media Base.  He will image both stations.  His ideas and creativity are something these stations have been craving.”

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Cumulus Media nabs market manager Kevin Waltman from Clear Channel’s Tallahassee operations that include news/talk WFLA-FM.  Waltman heads up Cumulus’ Montgomery, Alabama cluster that includes news/talk WLWI and sports talk WMSP…..Forever Broadcasting is picking up a stronger signal for its “TJ Network” news/talk format based at WTJS, Jackson Tennessee.  It will swap with Grace Broadcasting Services giving Grace its WTJW-FM, Humboldt, Tennessee at 105.3 plus $525,000 and get WTGP-FM, Trenton, Tennessee at 97.7…..SiriusXM names National Soccer Hall of Famer John Harkes host of its daily soccer talk show “The Football Show” that airs from 7:00 am to 9:00 am.  Harkes will be joined on the show by co-hosts Charlie Stillitano and Neil Barnett.

Friday, May 11, 2012

| May 11, 2012

Entercom Reports Q1 Revenue Down 3%.  Some format changes in several markets and the usual first quarter doldrums can be blamed for the down performance of Entercom in Q1 of 2012, Entercom CEO David Field told analysts during the Q1 conference call.  Field states seven format changes that took place in 2011 – including three in major markets like Boston and San Francisco – have affected revenue.  But Field sees positive things ahead as he tells analysts May and June are pacing up and the third quarter of this year looks healthy.  Political ad spending is a major factor in improving revenue.  Other points mentioned by Field: Entercom cut expenses by 4% and was able to pay down $17.4 million of its senior debt leaving $592 million in senior debt.

Emmis Revenue Down but Jeff Smulyan Promises Greatly Deleveraged Emmis.  During his conference call with analysts, Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan reported net revenue down 11% — down just 3% when excluding the stations majority owned by Merlin Media – for the quarter ending February 29.  But Smulyan says his company is paying down debt – some $1.5 billion to date – and when current transactions are complete Emmis will be one of the least-leveraged companies in the radio business.  With recent transactions, Emmis is now a company operating clusters in Indianapolis, Austin, St. Louis, Terre Haute, and, of course its two major market signals: Hot 97 in New York and Power 106 in Los Angeles.

KILT, Houston Brings Nick Wright Aboard for AM Drive Co-Host Duties.  Currently hosting at Entercom’s KCSP, Kansas City, sports talk host Nick Wright moves south to join John Lopez on the morning show at CBS Radio’s KILT, Houston.  The position opened when Marc Vandermeer took a full-time position with the NFL’s Houston Texans, although Vandermeer will still be heard on the station doing Texans play-by-play.  KILT program director Gavin Spittle says of Wright’s hire, “We’re really excited to welcome Nick to our talented roster of hosts.  He has tremendous energy, passion and a history of ratings success.  His excitement to pair up with John Lopez is equal to our excitement to add him to our number one sports lineup for many years to come.”

Dial Global’s Dennis Miller and Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly Play Town Hall in New York Saturday Night.  As part of the duo’s “Bolder and Fresher Tour 2012,” Dial Global nationally syndicated talk show host Dennis Miller and Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly – also heard on the radio via his Courtside Entertainment Group-syndicated “Talking Points” commentaries, will appear at Town Hall in NYC tomorrow night.  During the program each host takes a turn doing a monologue for the crowd.  Then the two sit down together to discuss and riff on the big issues of the day.  Upcoming shows include stops in Indianapolis, Chicago and Atlanta.

New Jersey Talk Host Found Shot Dead in Her Home.  Authorities in Linwood, New Jersey report 47-year-old April Kauffman was found shot to death in the bedroom of her home in that town.  She co-hosted a weekly talk radio show at WOND, Pleasantville, New Jersey during which she advocated for veteran’s causes and other issues.  The Associated Press is reporting that authorities have not made any arrests in the killing.

 

Michelle Jerson to Host Talk Shows at WWIQ-FM, Philadelphia.  Former New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Michelle Jerson is doing some fill-in work at Merlin Media’s new WWIQ-FM, Philadelphia.  She begins today by hosting the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot – eventually to be the home of Rush Limbaugh when the Premiere Networks superstar migrates over from his current Philly home at WPHT.  Jerson, who hosted a relationships program during her time at NJ101.5, tells TALKERS that she’ll do a non-political program today.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte to Air UNC Football and Hoops.  Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte is the official Charlotte affiliate for University of North Carolina football and basketball play-by-play after agreeing to a deal with the university’s rights holder, Tar Heel Sports Properties.  WBT will carry all games plus coaches’ shows featuring football coach Larry Fedora and basketball legend Roy Williams.  Tar Heels Sports Properties general manager Gary Sobba states, “We’re excited about this new partnership and bringing two terrific brands back together.  WBT has a very strong signal and will provide excellent coverage for the Tar Heel faithful in the Charlotte metro area.”

2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 7-11.  The 2012 presidential race landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the sixth consecutive week.  Close behind at #2 was President Obama’s gay marriage stance.  At #3 was longtime Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar’s loss in the primary election and at #4 was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s snubbing of President Obama by backing out of the G-8 at Camp David.  The Talkers TenTM is based on ongoing research by TALKERS and is published at Talkers.com every Friday.  View the top 10 stories and people as discussed on news/talk radio here.

Dave Ramsey Broadcasts from Tucson.  Nationally syndicated personal finance talk show star Dave Ramsey is pictured here in Tucson conducting his EntreLeadership Master Series at the Westin LaPaloma in Tucson.  Keeping with the theme of the week, today’s broadcast will focus on business and leadership questions from callers to the radio program.  Ramsey’s organization explains that EntreLeadership “combines the innovative spirit of an entrepreneur with the passion and drive of a leader.  This philosophy is how Ramsey has run his highly successful company and trained his leadership team since day one.  At EntreLeadership Master Series, Ramsey condenses 20 years of business and leadership wisdom into a seven day event.  Business owners and leaders who attend walk away with practical ideas that can improve their communication, organization, team culture, finances, negotiating and selling skills, marketing, advertising, and ability to make tough decisions.”  Last September, Ramsey’s latest best-seller, EntreLeadership, debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

| May 10, 2012

FM Talk Winning in PM Drive with Alan Cox Show on Cleveland’s Legendary Rocker WMMS-FM.  The Alan Cox show is quietly defying the conventional wisdom about what talk targeting younger demos on FM is all about.  Ensconced in afternoon drive on Clear Channel’s legendary rock outlet WMMS-FM, Cleveland, Cox’s success is not a widely told tale in the radio industry, in part because it doesn’t appear to be a piece of a corporately directed programming puzzle with companywide ambitions.  Cox credits local management for daring to be innovative with spoken-word programming outside the realms of news/talk and sports talk.  “’MMS, everybody knows, is a legendary station and management had the foresight to realize music on FM is kind of going away and to see if it can work with two talk products and it has worked amazingly well.  The foresight that brought them to try this hybrid station also makes them realize that you have to honor the heritage the station has but everything has to move forward.”  Read this entire story here.

Gil Gross Replaces Gene Burns in PM Drive at KKSF, San Francisco.  Talk radio legend Gene Burns is not going away from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment San Francisco as he continues to rehab from a stroke he suffered last December but cluster director of operations Don Parker gives the PM drive slot to Gil Gross, who’s been one of those filling in for Burns since January.  Parker states, “I’m thrilled to have Gil Gross aboard full time for the Bay Area’s only live and local afternoon drive talk show.  With his extensive background in network news, everyone in news/talk radio knows the name Gil Gross.  I couldn’t be happier to have KKSF be his new home.  NewsTalk 910 has been very fortunate to have the highest caliber of talent filling in for Gene Burns since January.  I’d like to thank John Rothman, Ed Baxter and Rosie Allen for their contributions and for continuing to play a role on NewsTalk 910 moving forward.”  Burns will continue to blog at newstalk910.com and his Saturday “Dining Around” program will remain on the program schedule with Joel Riddell hosting .  Additionally, John Rothman is named the station’s political analyst.  He’ll contribute to the station’s talk shows and newscasts as well as serve as host for KKSF’s 2012 election coverage.  Baxter and Allen will remain with the station for fill-in and blogging duties.  On his new position, Gross states, “I am thrilled to keep the live, local talk flame alive in the Bay area.  From the Occupy movement to Oscar Grant or the struggles of our economy, it’s important for the Bay area to have a platform to discuss today’s most pressing topics.  I look forward to having my friend and colleague, Gene Burns, back in the line-up.  I also look forward to building the future at NewsTalk 910, a unique station that will not be one point of view all day long.”

Tony Kornheiser Negotiating for Long-Term Deal to Remain on WTEM, Washington.  Washington, DC-based sports media personality Tony Kornheiser tells his audience he hopes to be assured his radio talk show will be heard on Red Zebra’s WTEM – ESPN 980 for “another two years, at least.”  The Washington Post reports director of programming Chuck Sapienza hinted the two sides are negotiating, quoting him saying, “Our goal has always been to have Tony with ESPN 980 long term, and we hope to have an official announcement soon.”  Kornheiser will take much of the summer off from his radio show telling his audience he will do a few weeks of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” but will not do radio in July or August.

Terry Gross Celebrates 25 Years of National Syndication for “Fresh Air.”  Tomorrow “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross will celebrate her 25th anniversary in national syndication via NPR.  Gross began the program on WHYY-FM, Philadelphia – where the show is still based – in 1975.  Gross tells the Philadelphia Daily NewsDan Gross (no relation), “I fell in love with radio the moment I started doing it.  I still find it a privilege to be able to talk to and engage in a pretty personal level with people whose work I respect.”  Surprisingly for some, Gross tells the paper she counts Howard Stern among those whom she’d like to interview but has not.  She says she’s a fan of his radio show.

Carmichael Dave Out at KHTK, Sacramento.  The producer and sidekick to morning host and PD Don Geronimo and host of his own midday show exits the CBS Radio sports outlet.  His tweets about his exit are vague but it appears Carmichael Dave is the victim of a budget-related maneuver.  He tweets, “As of today I am no longer a part of CBS Radio…I’m getting a lot of response that this was contract related.  I asked for nothing.  I can’t go into details.  Just know that I love the station and the people.”  The station is airing DirecTV/Premiere’s Dan Patrick show in middays.

Analysis:  The Legal Basis for the Bob Lonsberry Decision.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman reviews the recent ruling by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department of New York in the defamation case filed against WHAM, Rochester talk show host Bob Lonsberry.  Weisman writes that for talk hosts who make a living expressing their opinions, it’s important to note that “not all opinion is protected, but when it is made about a matter of public concern, the speaker is protected by the First Amendment.”  Read Steven J.J. Weisman’s piece here.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  CBS Radio names Brian Thomas vice president of programming for its Tampa cluster that includes sports talk WQYK – 1010AM Sports…..Syndicated Solutions, Inc. begins distribution of Chuck Woolery’s “Save Us Chuck” political commentary feature on June 4.  The game show legend states, “I started in radio and just love it!  During all my years on television, I’ve come to realize that radio is truly the only medium where I can connect one-on-one with the audience and help to create real change.”…..CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles visits the foothill cities of the San Gabriel Valley as part of its “KNX on Your Corner” remote broadcast series.  The broadcast will emanate from the Monrovia Coffee Company in the heart of Old Town Monrovia on June 1…..WTKK-FM, Boston midday talk host Doug Meehan’s listeners are launching a campaign to get the host an on-air audition with Kelly Ripa on ABC TV’s “Live! With Kelly.”  Meehan has recorded his pitch to be on the show and posted it on WTKK’s website.  He’s encouraging listeners to visit the “Live! With Kelly” website touting Meehan for a shot at a guest host appearance…..Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte regular fill-in host Wayne Powers wins his primary contest for a seat on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.

First Caller Puts Curse on New Talk Show Host.  What a way to start a new gig!  Gregg Henson, the station’s program director who replaced afternoon drive host Pat Miller on WOWO, Fort Wayne, was greeted with a first call that sounded like something out of a Steven King novel.  Not only did the listener with a heavy accent voice his disapproval of Henson and insult him by saying he is “a snake” who “doesn’t bring anything to the table” — he went on to actually put a curse on him!  Check THIS out.  Listen to the audio here.

2012 Presidential Race, Obama Gay Marriage Issue, Feds to Sue Arizona Sheriff Arpaio, and Putin Snubs Obama Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/9).  The 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama’s change of heart on the gay marriage issue, the federal lawsuit being filed against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backing out of meeting with President Obama and the G-8 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Media Veteran and Fenway Park Announcer Carl Beane Dies in Auto Crash.  Fenway Park’s voice of the Boston Red Sox, Carl Beane, died Wednesday at age 59 after suffering a heart attack and crashing his car while driving.  Beane won the Fenway Park gig after the 2002 season.  He was a radio sports announcer, talk host, news reporter and more during his long career.  In addition to stringing for AP, ESPN and SiriusXM, Beane had worked at WBZ, Boston and spent many years in the 1990s working at then talk/music hybrid WESO, Southbridge.

 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

| May 9, 2012

Boomer Esiason to be Honored at New Media Seminar.  WFAN, New York morning co-host and football legend Boomer Esiason has been named the 2012 recipient of the Sharon L. Harrison Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service by a Radio Talk Show Host.  Esiason (pictured here with son Gunnar) will be presented the award and speak at the New Media Seminar in New York City on June 7 during the event’s Freedom of Speech Luncheon.  Esiason was inspired to begin the foundation when his son Gunnar was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in 1993.  It has proven to be extremely effective as a dynamic partnership of leaders in the medical and business communities joining with a committed core of volunteers to heighten awareness, education and the quality of life for those affected by cystic fibrosis, while providing financial support to research aimed at finding a cure.  Esiason says, “One of the first lessons I learned in youth football was that winning requires all of the individual athletes on a team to come together, to cooperate and to support each other.  It’s a lesson I think also applies to cystic fibrosis.  I am honored to be receiving this award.”  For more information about the Boomer Esiason Foundation click www.esiason.org.  Boomer Esiason is one of more than 50 talk media industry leaders scheduled to speak at the June 7 gathering.  The New Media Seminar is on the verge of a sellout.  For information about registering for this industry-only conference, please call 413-565-5413.

New York State Appellate Court Rules in Favor of Talk Host Bob Lonsberry.  The New York Law Journal reports the New York Appellate Division, Fourth Department has sided with WHAM, Rochester and WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse talk host Bob Lonsberry and employer Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in a case that boils down to First Amendment rights.  The case revolves around Lonsberry’s on-air conversation with the sister of John Gisel who was acquitted of murder after a shooting death in a hunting situation.  During the conversation, Lonsberry asked the woman how it felt to have a “cold blooded murderer” in the family and if he “put a notch in the stock of his gun after he kills people.”  The Gisel family sued for defamation but the court ruled Lonsberry’s comments were “obviously intended to be caustic and confrontational, rather than factual” and that his words were “non-actionable expressions of pure opinion.”  Gisel may have believed Lonsberry’s comments were made with malice, thus giving him a case.  And, though not all opinion is protected by the First Amendment, it was in this case.  Read TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman’s analysis of the decision here.

Rush Limbaugh Strikes Back with “Rush Babes for America” Campaign.  Premiere Networks talk star Rush Limbaugh is taking on the notion his program is anti-women – something he tells his listeners is implied by the National Organization for Women’s “Enough Rush” campaign – and opens a “Rush Babes for America” Facebook page.  During his program he told listeners, “What ‘Rush Babes for America’ is about is posting stories and ideas that happen here on the program…and inviting all of you to participate in conversations on Facebook with other women about what matters to you.  As a means of demonstrating just what a minority the National Organization for Women and its so-called affiliates really are.”  Last month, NOW announced its “Enough Rush” campaign to target the talk show host for removal from the air but, so far, there’s been no information released by NOW beyond the initial announcement.

Liberty Media Ups Ante in Bid for Control of SiriusXM.  Liberty Media chairman John Malone appears determined to take control of SiriusXM after being shot down by the FCC last week in his bid to get de facto control over the company with just 40% of the satcaster’s stock and five of the 13 seats on the board of directors.  Liberty is acquiring another 302 million shares of the stock for $602 million – that’s $2.15 per share – to hike its total ownership to 45.2% of SiriusXM’s stock.  Last week the FCC ruled that Liberty’s filing was incomplete.  Now, it appears Liberty is preparing for another crack at that FCC application for control.

Saga Communications Radio Revenue Up 3%.  The first quarter of 2012 was kind to Saga Communications which reports revenue for the radio and TV company was up 4.3% while radio alone was up 3% from the same period a year ago on revenue of $25.2 million.  Saga CEO Ed Christian spoke during yesterday’s conference call about his belief in the core aspect of being a radio and TV operator which he says is selling to local advertisers.

Clear Channel Breaks Up Sports Simulcast on WHTK-AM/FM, Rochester.  Sports talk has been simulcast on Clear Channel’s WHTK-AM/FM, Rochester since 2009 but now the company debuts a new oldies outlet on the FM side and leaves the sports to the AM band.

Compass Media Networks Announces 2012 College Football Schedule.  Compass Media Networks makes its 2012 college football schedule public.  Compass is presenting more than 16 college football games for the 2012 season beginning with Miami at Boston College on September 1, including heritage matchups such as Auburn vs Alabama and Wisconsin vs Ohio State and culminating in the Big Ten Championship game on December 1.  Compass Media CEO Peter Kosann states, “We are once again thrilled to offer our affiliates and partners access to some of the nation’s top match-ups.”  Dial Global is handling ad sales for Compass Media’s college football broadcasts.

Greeny Dances.  ESPN Radio and ESPN2 star Mike Greenberg is pictured here with professional dancer Anna Trebunskaya dancing to “Livin’ La Vida Loca” live on both the radio and cable TV simulcast.  Greenberg lost the “Sheets of Integrity” March Madness challenge to “Mike & Mike” partner Mike Golic and paid his gambling debt by donning the sequined outfit and taking to the dance floor.  Celebrity judges Jerry Rice and Hines Ward both gave Greenberg an 8 for his performance while Greenberg’s wife Stacy gave him a 9.

2012 Presidential Race, NC Gay Marriage Ban, Terror Plot Foiled, Dick Lugar Ousted in Primary and Euro Zone Anti-Austerity Backlash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/8).  The 2012 presidential race; the ban on gay marriage in North Carolina; the foiling of the al Qaeda plot to blow up U.S. Airliners; Republican Indiana Senator Dick Lugar loses his primary race; and Euro Zone countries fight back against anti-austerity measures were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Get Well, Art Voulo!  TALKERS sends get well wishes out to “radio’s best friend” Art Vuolo who’s in the hospital dealing with a case of cellulitis.  Art is pictured here modeling the latest in hospital johnny fashion while convalescing.  We’re noticing there is no table-top or portable radio (with ear buds) in the picture which forces us to ask if this is the real Art Vuolo.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

| May 8, 2012

Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey Reports Limbaugh Boycott Cost Company Millions.  During Monday’s first quarter conference call with analysts, Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey announced that the advertiser boycott of Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh show – which is carried on 38 Cumulus-owned stations – cost his company “a couple of million” in the first quarter of 2012 and another “couple of million” in the second quarter.  Dickey says everything seems pretty much back to normal for June but he blames about 1% of the company’s 3.5% drop in revenue on the Limbaugh boycott.  Dickey also addressed the debut of the Mike Huckabee show which airs live in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot and is seen by some observers as a direct competitor to Limbaugh.  He says they are very close to having Huckabee on 200 affiliates and he’s viewing the show as a long-term project.

Cumulus Media’s 2012 Q1 Revenue Down 3.5%.  The first quarter of 2012 saw Cumulus Media report net revenues down 3.5% on earnings of $245.3 million – down from $254.2 million for the same period a year ago.  Free cash flow was up almost 95% to $37 million, up from $19 million for the first quarter of 2011 and EBITDA was up 12.2% to $76.8 million.  CEO Lew Dickey states, “The first quarter of 2012 was marked by significant progress in our integration of Citadel as we build Cumulus into a robust platform company that strategically monetizes content, distribution and technology.  Complementing this progress was the continued deleveraging of our balance sheet, as well as strategic portfolio management that will enable us tremendous financial flexibility going forward.”

FCC Up to Full Complement.  Six months after they were nominated, Republican Ajit Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to seats on the Federal Communications Commission.  Senator Charles Grassley had been keeping the confirmation from taking place due to his concern over the commission’s handling of the LightSquared case.  Grassley has been investigating the FCC’s dealings with the troubled satellite venture suspecting that LightSquared has been given special treatment by the commission.

Pat Miller Cuts Back Duties at WOWO, Fort Wayne; Gregg Henson to PM Drive.  Afternoon drive talk show host Pat Miller is leaving his role at the legendary Federated Media station to focus on his own local business.  Director of programming operations Gregg Henson takes over the PM drive host duties effective immediately.  Miller will remain with the station in several capacities.  He’ll host a weekly Saturday afternoon program and he’ll make regular appearances as the station’s expert political analyst.  Henson says of Miller, “Pat is a great asset to WOWO and we look forward to redeploying him in other areas to take advantage of his strengths.  He is a tremendous resource.  Pat’s loyalty and love for Fort Wayne are indisputable and we look forward to his continued relationship with WOWO.”  Henson assumed the programming duties at WOWO and sister station WKJG a year ago.  He says he’s excited about taking over the PM drive show.  “WOWO has a special relationship with this community and I look forward to being a part of it.”

Talk Radio Hosts Converge on Washington, DC for “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” Radio Row.  More than 60 talk radio hosts are in Washington, DC today and tomorrow for a radio row sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.  The event is being led by Radio America syndicated talk show host Roger Hedgecock who organized the first radio row dedicated to this issue in 2007 to protest the Senate Amnesty Bill.  Talk show hosts taking part have the opportunity to interview numerous legislators and experts on illegal immigration and related topics over the course of the two days.  FAIR communications director Bob Dane tells TALKERS, “Once again, talk hosts from across the country are gathering to focus on immigration reform and this election year is the most critical of all.  The Obama administration continues to dismantle interior enforcement at a frightening pace and is using unconstitutional backdoor methods to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens.  With November looming, May is the ideal time to set clear expectations for candidates of all stripes.  Responsive politicians respect and listen to the electronic town hall of talk radio and ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ is a yearly bellwether of public sentiment on the immigration issue.”

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Peter Sessa has been the vice president of marketing and communications at Westwood One for the past five years.  He stayed with the operation after it was merged with Dial Global but now exits and is seeking his next opportunity…..Tribune’s WGN, Chicago eliminates a news position as midday anchor Jim Gudas is let go for financial reasons…..Phil Cioppa joins the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Business TalkRadio Network where his show which “tackles global and national events and translates them into how they affect the average American’s pocketbook” now airs on some 140 affiliates…..SiriusXM announces it is launching an expanded suite of 30 play-by-play channels dedicated to streaming the official radio broadcasts of every MLB team on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at SiriusXM.com…..WTOP-FM, Washington offers prizes to listeners in the area with the worst commute.  Dubbed “Commuter Idle,” listeners must submit stories of their commute online and the winner receives $1,000 in gas money and a limo ride.  Runners-up get $150 gas cards…..Merlin Media’s WEMP-FM, New York lets managing editor Doug O’Brien go.  The Former WINS, New York staffer has been with FM News 101.9 since its inception last summer…..Yahoo! Sports Radio pairs up Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel with college sports writer Pat Forde for a weekly Thursday evening sports talk show on the network…..Bonneville’s KSL, Salt Lake City (the AM side) celebrates its 90th anniversary serving the market…..Sports USA announces its 18-game college football schedule for this fall that kicks off with Michigan State hosting Boise State and wrapping up with the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

Putin Returns, Anti-Austerity Backlash in Europe, 2012 Presidential Race, New American Obesity Stats, Student Loan Rate Debate, and Terror Plot Foiled Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7).  The return of Vladimir Putin to power in Russia; voters in Europe show anti-austerity backlash; the 2012 presidential race; the latest statistics on obesity in America; Congress to take on student loan rate debate; and a plot to destroy a U.S. airliner is foiled were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Generations.  Television stars Robert Conrad (l) and Jorge Garcia (r) pose for a photo at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles at the grand opening of an exhibit titled, “50 Years of Warner Brothers.”  Conrad, who hosts a weekly talk radio program on CRN Digital Talk Radio, was the star of “The Wild, Wild West.”  Garcia starred in “Lost” and currently is featured in “Alcatraz.”

 

Monday, May 7, 2012

| May 7, 2012

Merlin Media’s Philly FM Talker Debuts Today.  News/talk outlet WWIQ-FM, Philadelphia (licensed to Camden, New Jersey) debuts its morning show today co-hosted by market TV news personality Larry Mendte (pictured here).  Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning host (and Philly native) Al Gardner is co-hosting the program with Mendte.  Over the weekend Mendte posted a YouTube video promoting the new station being operated by the innovative Randy Michaels and his Merlin Media.  In it, Mendte asks Philadelphians to submit suggestions for the new station (ideas used could win the people who submit them Phillies tickets!).  He also suggests the current news outlets – other stations, the newspapers and TV are outdated and/or in trouble financially and he believes WWIQ-FM will give listeners what they need.  In the video, Mendte is clearly ribbing CBS Radio’s all-news KYW even though he doesn’t mention the company or station by name.  See Mendte’s video here.  WWIQ-FM has been stunting with wall-to-wall Sean Hannity for several weeks and today it’s believed the station will debut with the morning show, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity and Glenn BeckRush Limbaugh is expected to move over from WPHT soon.  Other programming has yet to be announced.

FCC Says “No Go” to Liberty Media’s SiriusXM Takeover Bid.  Liberty Media had petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM after supplying $530 million to the satcaster in 2009 to help it avoid bankruptcy.  But, as SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin said recently, “Forty percent is not the new 50 percent.”  Liberty Media owns 40% of SiriusXM as a result of the 2009 deal but the FCC denied its request saying that Liberty’s filing lacked details and rejected its claim for control.  During the recent SiriusXM Q1 conference call with analysts, Mel Karmazin stated the company’s relationship with Liberty was not “combative.”  Liberty Media has five of the 13 seats on the SiriusXM board of directors.

WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas Names Ben Ferguson Late Morning Host.  Cumulus Media’s WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas cut ties with market legend Mark Davis after the two sides were unable to agree on a new contract.  Now, Memphis-based talk host Ben Ferguson is named permanent host of the 9:00 am to 11:00 am program.  Ferguson had been filling in during the time slot since Davis left the air.  He hosts the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm program at Cumulus Media’s WKIM-FM, Memphis and will continue to host that show as well.  Additionally, Ferguson is the host of his own nationally syndicated weekend program that is heard on both WKIM-FM and WBAP-AM/FM.  Ben Ferguson was the first recipient of the Young American Broadcasters‘ scholarship award given at the TALKERS New Media Seminar several years ago.  Ferguson won the award while still in college and, due in part to winning the award, fulfilled his dream of becoming a working radio talk show host.

St. Louis Personality John Carney Joins News/Talk KTRS for Nights.  Gateway City radio personality John Carney – son of the late KMOX, St. Louis legend Jack Carney – joins CH Holdings’ news/talk KTRS to host the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight program beginning June 4.  Carney most recently was a jock at CBS Radio’s crosstown classic hits KEZK-FM – Fresh 102.5 – until he exited that station in April.  He also worked at KMOX for 11 years prior to KEZK-FM.  Carney’s addition to KTRS comes as the station shuffles its programming.  Chicago-based talk host Steve Cochran had been hosting two programs on KTRS – 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm – in addition to his afternoon drive show at WIND, Chicago.  Cochran will continue to host the late morning show.  John Hadley’s sports talk show slides down to the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot and Martin Kilcoyne takes over the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show formerly hosted by JC Corcoran.

KTAR-FM, Phoenix and News Director Part Company.  Bonneville International and news director Adam Thomas part ways after less than a year together.  Thomas joined KTAR-FM in June of 2011 – Thomas moving west from Minneapolis where he’s worked at CBS Radio’s WCCO.  Thomas had also worked for Bonneville at KSL, Salt Lake City prior to joining WCCO.  Details on Thomas’ exit from KTAR-FM are few but it appears there’s a news director position to be filled in Phoenix.

WTDY, Madison Promotes Amy Barrilleaux.  Mid-West Family Stations announces WTDY-AM/FM, Madison afternoon anchor and “Everything@Five” host Amy Barrilleaux is promoted to news director for the station.  WTDY-AM/FM program director Rex Charger says, “I am pleased to announce Amy Barrilleaux as WTDY news director.  Amy has been instrumental in helping grow our news product and brand and I look forward to her continued leadership in the newsroom.  Amy will continue to anchor afternoon newscasts and host ‘Everything@Five.’”

Media Personality Jack Rice Hosts Weekend Talk Program in Twin Cities.  Talk media personality Jack Rice – who left the daily talk radio business more than two years ago – returns to a regular talk program with his Sunday morning show on KTNF, Minneapolis airing from 7:00 am to 9:00 am.  Jack Rice is a former CIA agent, a practicing attorney in Minneapolis and is regularly seen on such news/talk media outlets as MSNBC, CNN and Al Jazeera offering expert analysis on issues, especially those surrounding foreign intelligence and terrorism.  He previously hosted daily talk shows on WCCO, Minneapolis and KOGO, San Diego.  His investigative style of talk radio, his travels to the world’s hot spots and willingness to put himself in harm’s way to get the story earned him the Freedom of Speech Award from TALKERS magazine in 2009.  Of his new program, Rice states, “I’m very excited to be back on the air on a regular basis.  This business gets in your blood and once you’re in, you’re in.  And while I recognize the realities of the business, nothing allows for a deep connection with an audience like radio.”  Rice tells TALKERS he is exploring the possibility of developing a national program dedicated to international events including terrorism, the economic collapse in Europe, the Chinese economic juggernaut, the drug wars in Mexico and more.  He says his experience as a former CIA officer and international journalist give him a unique experience and take on such events.

Dave Ramsey Live in Grand Rapids.  Nationally syndicated personal finance talk sensation Dave Ramsey filled the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Saturday, May 5 for his “Total Money Makeover Live” event there – more than 8,000 fans attended.  Ramsey is heard on news/talk WOOD-AM/FM and Clear Channel Grand Rapids market manager Tim Feagan says, “Having another sellout with Dave is the only way I know of for a news/talk station to touch thousands of our core listeners.  Music stations can sometimes do it by owning a concert, but when it comes to the talk format Dave is it!”  Pictured here during Ramsey’s visit to Grand Rapids are (from l-r): Feagan, Ramsey, WOOD general sales manager Henry Capogna, and WOOD program director Phil Tower.

Friday, May 4, 2012

| May 4, 2012

CNN Ratings Cause for Concern at Headquarters.  The executives at Time Warner and subsidiary CNN/U.S. are displeased with cable news/talk channel CNN’s performance in the April Nielsen ratings after much time and money has been spent tweaking the programming there.  The New York TimesBrian Stelter reports that sources say Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes has made his dissatisfaction with the channel’s performance known to his subordinates.  Over the past 18 months CNN has made numerous programming changes including replacing Larry King with Piers Morgan in the 9:00 pm ET slot; the addition of Soledad O’Brien as host of the morning show; and a new 7:00 pm ET show with Erin Burnett.  CNN has long stated publicly that it delivers a unique news product around the clock with which advertisers like being associated.  In fact, the entire CNN unit (including other domestic and international channels) is poised to make a record $600 million in operating profit this year.  The company issued the following statement in response to reports about the April ratings.  “Despite the perennial ratings stories and quotes from anonymous sources, CNN continues to deliver quality journalism which is uniquely valuable to audiences, advertisers and distributors.  In fact, CNN is on track to deliver its highest profits in its history and continues to reach more people on more platforms than any other TV network.”  Still, as Brian Stelter writes, “Performance of CNN/U.S. drives public perception — and employee pride — and declines there may gradually damage CNN’s networks as a whole.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison adds, “CNN would probably do better in both ratings and revenue if they stopped obviously competing with Fox News Channel and MSNBC in trying to be entertaining and opinionated concentrating, rather, on really being journalistic on a level not seen for years on American television.  There is an opening in the marketplace for such a product a mile wide and a deep need and hunger for it by a significant segment of the public.”

CC Media Holdings Reports Q1 Revenue Hike of 3%.  That 2012 first quarter revenue increase comes as CC Media Holdings posts $1.36 billion in revenue compared to the $1.32 for the same period a year ago.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment – which excludes the parent company’s outdoor divisions – was up 6% or $39 million compared to the first quarter of 2011.  CC Media Holdings CEO Bob Pittman states, “Since the start of 2012, we have continued to invest in our rapidly growing digital products and services, while strengthening our operations to better serve our marketing partners and our consumers.  We have enhanced our ability to help our partners take advantage of the unique size and scale of our media, entertainment and outdoor assets, with a particular focus on multi-platform solutions that no other company is able to deliver.”

KTRS, St. Louis Officially Announces Martin Kilcoyne Midday Host.  Monday’s story announced CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis was parting company with midday talk host JC Corcoran and would replace him with KTVI-TV, St. Louis sports director Martin Kilcoyne.  The station makes that official with general manager and partner Mark Dorsey stating, “Martin is a proven broadcaster, both in television and radio, and KTRS looks forward to bringing his personality, wit and opinions to the airwaves.”  Kilcoyne will assume the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show beginning Monday, May 14.  He says of his new gig, “I am thrilled to have an opportunity like this.  I’m a sports guy, but I love to talk about all things.  The plan is to have a show that St. Louis will find lively, topical and fresh.  I’m not Ted Koppel, but I’m also not Ted Baxter.”

First Quarter Positive for Salem Communications.  The first quarter of 2012 has been pretty good for Salem Communications and subsidiary Salem Broadcasting.  The parent company is reporting an increase of 6.1% on revenue of $54.3 million compared to the same period one year ago.  On the broadcasting side, Salem is up 2.9% on revenue of $44 million.  Broadcasting still makes up the bulk of Salem’s revenue but digital continues to perform well rising 33% over the same period in 2011 on revenue of $7.4 million.  The company is bullish about Q2 projecting a revenue increase of a couple percentage points with a total revenue goal of more than $55 million for the quarter.

Legal Battle May Ensue Over Merlin Media’s Blago Billboard.  This billboard pictured here is one of several purchased by Merlin Media in the Chicago area promoting all-news WIQI-FM – FM News 101.1.  Crain’s Chicago Business reports Merlin consultant John Gehron commenting on the marketing campaign saying, “We wanted to have something that we thought would be fun and get people’s attention.”  And apparently it has.  Attorney Sheldon Sorosky, who represents former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich – currently serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption – says the use of Blagojevich’s image may violate an Illinois law prohibiting one’s image from being used for commercial gain without one’s consent.  Sorosky tells Crain’s it’s called the Right to Publicity Act and it states, “A person may not use an individual’s identity for commercial purposes during the individual’s lifetime without having obtained previous written consent from the appropriate person or persons.”  Sorosky says they have not decided whether to take legal action or not at this point.

Ric Edelman Celebrates 20 Years on the Radio This Weekend.  Nationally syndicated talk show host Ric Edelman, host of “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman,” marks 20 years on the radio with his broadcast this weekend.  Edelman, an award-winning financial advisor, heard along with financial advisors Brandon Corso and Anderson Wozny, is heard in 56 markets including on WABC, New York; WLS, Chicago; and WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC.  He says, “It is a genuine privilege to do this show.  As I always say, ‘Money doesn’t come with instructions,’ so I’m honored for the opportunity to share my knowledge with so many listeners from across the country.”  Edelman, a member of TALKERS 2012 “Heavy Hundred,” is also seen on public television across the country as his TV program of the same name is in its second season.

Pamela Furr to Join New Atlanta All-Newser.  Talk show host and news anchor Pamela Furr confirms via Facebook that she’s headed to Atlanta to become part of the Cumulus Media FM all-news outlet slated for WYAY-FM in a few weeks.  The company has confirmed it will turn the outlet into an all-news station soon and obviously has begun hiring.  Furr most recently worked full time at Clear Channel’s WPTI-FM, Greensboro-Winston-Salem as co-host of the morning drive show.  She’s been freelancing doing news at CC’s WRDU-FM, Raleigh the past few weeks.

Atlanta Business Chronicle to Provide Content for Cumulus’ “All News 106.7.”  When Cumulus Media flips the switch on WYAY-FM, Gainesville, Georgia turning it into “All News 106.7,” the Atlanta Business Chronicle will provide exclusive business updates at :20 and :50.  In a statement, Cumulus co-COO John Dickey says, “Our partnership with the Atlanta Business Chronicle is consistent with our mission of bringing the most credible news and information to Atlantans 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  ABC is the definitive business news brand in Atlanta and 106.7 will be the definitive radio news and information brand in Atlanta.”  ABC publisher Ed Baker states, “It’s exciting that intelligent Atlantans are finally getting a much-needed all-news format.  We’re very excited to be a part of something new and different.  Quality business reporting is more important than ever and this partnership will allow us to deliver something special to our community.”

Cumulus Brings Celebrity News Blogger Perez Hilton Aboard for Nightly Radio Show.  At the same time the company announces that the new “Perez Nights Live” will replace Dial Global’s “Billy Bush Show” on stations where it airs and expects the show to debut on about 50 affiliate stations.  “Perez Nights Live” will feature Perez Hilton and co-host Adam Bomb and will consist of celebrity news chatter and music.  Cumulus co-COO John Dickey states, “Successful contemporary stations all have one thing in common: They keep their listeners on the cutting edge of music and pop culture.  Leading stations in our business set trends.  Perez doesn’t report on pop culture, he is pop culture.  ‘Perez Nights Live’ will take the important evening daypart and turn it into a brand enhancing experience.”

2012 Presidential Race Lands Atop Talkers TenTM for Fifth Straight Week.  The 2012 presidential campaign was again the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of April 30 – May 4, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.  The race barely beat the case of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng which landed at #2 followed very closely by President Obama’s Afghanistan visit and the government’s release of Osama bin Laden documents tied at #3.  The shocking death of retired NFL star Junior Seau came in at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is published each Friday at Talkers.com.  View the entire chart for this week here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup.  The “At Home with Bob Vila” feature from Compass Media Networks debuted this week on such signals as KOGO-AM/FM, San Diego; WTKK-FM, Boston; KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; KFNN, Phoenix; and KVON, Napa, California…..Courtside Media Group’s “One Minute Clinic with Dr. Drew” is being aired on Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP-FM, Washington…..“The Small Business Advocate with Jim Blasingame” is picked up by WZFG, Fargo; WHTX, Youngstown; and WGGH, Marion, Illinois….. “The Doctor’s Orders Radio Show” with Dr. Kipp Van Kamp is added to WTKI-AM/FM, Huntsville, Alabama and WEKI-AM/FM, Decatur, Alabama.

Profiling Courage.  That’s KIRO-FM, Seattle talk show host Dave Ross (r) pictured with Sgt. Leroy Petry (l).  Ross recently interviewed the Medal of Honor recipient for inclusion in the Memorial Day radio special “A Grateful Nation” – a one-hour program produced by the Fisher House Foundation and distributed by Premiere Networks.  Sgt. Petry is an Army Ranger who lost his hand while saving two comrades after he grabbed and tossed an enemy grenade during a battle in Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

| May 3, 2012

Latest Cable News/Talk Ratings Not Good for CNN.  The April Nielsens are not being kind to cable news/talk network CNN.  The channel’s total-day viewership average was 357,000 – down 21% compared to the same period in 2011.  Ratings in that category haven’t been this low for CNN since August of 2001.  “Anderson Cooper 360” led the decline in shows down 26% with 522,000 total viewers in the 10:00 pm ET slot.  Other CNN shows with declines in April were: “John King USA” – down 24%; “Erin Burnett Out Front” – down 22%; and “Starting Point” – down 26%.  Fox News Channel remains firmly in first place for April with a total-day viewership average of 1.1 million (up slightly) and MSNBC stays in second place with an unchanged 425,000.

Keith Larson Stays with WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte After All.  Last week WBT-AM/FM Charlotte late-morning host Keith Larson told his listeners his days with the Greater Media station may be numbered because the station was unwilling to extend his contract but was willing to keep him on the radio as an at-will employee.  At the time he said he wasn’t sure he wanted to do that.  A week later, he tells the Charlotte Observer he and WBT management have struck a deal to keep him with the station, though he wouldn’t give details about their agreement.  He does say, “I’m very happy to be plugging away at WBT.  We had a good conversation this week.  I’m happy to continue eye-poking at WBT and looking forward to developing Larson Advertising and Media as well.”

WQXI, Atlanta Merges Two Midday Shows into One.  Lincoln Financial Media sports talk outlet 790 The Zone – WQXI – combines the “Two Live Stews” show featuring Doug and Ryan Stewart with the Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham show to make “The Red Zone” airing from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.  This move comes a week after the station announced it was extending “Mayhem in the AM” to 11:00 am and moving Archer and Bell up an hour to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot.  As the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reported last week, Barnhart and Durham have been the highest-rated show on the station lately but they have other professional obligations which make them all but unavailable during May and June.  The “Stews’” ratings haven’t been what they once were and they are not as prominently featured by the station as they used to be.  The Stewarts’ agent, Norm Schrutt, acknowledges to the AJC that he’s not happy with the new arrangement but says Doug and Ryan are “team players” and are doing what they are asked.  The new show is expected to have a rotating cast of characters along with the four principal hosts.  WQXI general manager Andrew Saltzman tells the paper, “This is more topic driven and less specifically host driven.”

Wisconsin Group Seeks Conservative Talk Radio’s Help in Preventing Recall of Governor.  An ad hoc group of Wisconsin business people has formed an organization called Businesses for Wisconsin Jobs with the goal of getting conservative talk radio shows from Milwaukee and Madison to be aired in the northern and western parts of the state in hopes those shows will reach enough people to prevent the recall of Governor Scott Walker and other politicians.  An article by Brien Farley for Heartland.org, points out how Walker and others have credited  conservative talk shows such as WTMJ, Milwaukee’s Charlie Sykes and WIBA, Madison’s Vicki McKenna helped them get elected via their conservative messages.  The group hopes to convince other stations in the state to add such shows to their lineups in order to get a conservative message to key voters.  WISN, Milwaukee program director Jerry Bott is quoted in the piece saying, “Hosts on conservative talk radio affect public opinion by making a convincing case that conservative principles are powerful, proper and effective.  This has an effect on public opinion in areas where conservative talk radio can be heard which, in turn, provides a fertile environment for conservatives seeking public office to be elected.”  So far the group claims to have had success getting Vicki McKenna’s program added to WMEQ, Menomonie in the northwestern part of the state.  The recall election of Governor Walker takes place June 5.

Stitcher Launches 2012 Election Center to Serve Demand for Political Audio Content.  Digital spoken-word content provider Stitcher Smart Radio is targeting users interested in the 2012 political season with the creation of the 2012 Election Center.  Stitcher says the channel allows “users to easily follow, listen and engage with political candidates, commentators, pundits and topics that interest them most.  From podcasts and candidate speeches, to exclusive content on hot trending topics, listeners can now stay up-to-date on all things election related from one central audio hub.”  Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok says, “There’s an avalanche of coverage during election season and it can be tough to get the best information when you need it.  We’re rolling out trending topics on demand, a first in the industry.  We see this as part of our mission to further the evolution of radio by making it more relevant and accessible than ever.”  The service features audio messages directly from the campaigns, commentary from major broadcasters such as Fox News Channel, NPR and CBS News plus the service is integrated with Facebook.  Stitcher is employing a transcription technology so users can literally search the bevy of available audio for specific topics by typing in key words.  Content creators get feedback from Stitcher about the about the most-sought-after topics.

Nikki Sixx’s Personality-Intensive Show to Air Mornings on KEGL-FM, Dallas.  The Premiere Networks distributed “Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx” show will be heard in AM drive on Clear Chanel Media and Entertainment’s KEGL-FM, Dallas beginning May 7.  The talk-intensive rock radio show featuring Motley Crue star Nikki Sixx and Kerri Kasem airs in evenings on 90-plus affiliate stations.  Now, Premiere will create a customized morning show for KEGL-FM.  In a statement, Premiere says, “Each morning on “Sixx Sense,” Sixx will discuss music and lifestyle topics as he gives listeners an exclusive look at the world and mind of a rock star…Sixx will provide his unique perspective and attitude as the duo welcomes celebrity guests, recording artists and fascinating characters from all walks of life.”  Sixx himself is quoted saying, “Bringing ‘Sixx Sense’ to mornings has always been our goal.  Who better to start your morning with than a rock star and a hot chick?  It’s a dream come true to have a morning show on one of America’s best rock stations.”

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Sports WBNS-FM, Columbus promotions director Todd Reigle takes his bicycle on a five-day ride from Sylvania, Ohio to Cincinnati – an event called the Honor Ride Ohio – to try to reach his goal of raising $100,000 for six veterans’ organizations.  The ride will take place from June 30 to July 4…..ESPN’s Mike Greenberg pays his “gambling debt” to co-host Mike Golic on May 8 as loser of the “Mike & Mike” show’s March Madness “Sheets of Integrity Challenge.”  Greenberg will dance to “Livin’ the Vida Loca” live on the ESPN Radio program (simulcast on cable’s ESPN 2) with professional dancer Anna Trebunskaya who’s appeared on the “Dancing with the Stars” franchise…..Former University of Florida quarterback Chris Leak (who led the team to a National Championship) joins SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation sports channel where he’ll host “College Sports Coast-to-Coast” along with Chris Childers several nights a week…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment partners with the Ad Council to promote the anti-childhood obesity campaign We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition).  The effort involves airing and making visible online a number of public service announcements…..Attorney Ed Gadrix debuts a new weekly talk show on WNJC, Washington Township, New Jersey called “The Eddie Esq. Show.”  Gadrix says the goal of his show is to involve more fathers in custody after divorces.  Gadrix states, “Divorce courts and the legal system are destroying the next generation of Americans and I hope our new talk show opens up an entirely new dialogue toward changing that system…unless we take a different approach to handling divorce and custody matters, we’re doomed to continue creating children who grow into dysfunctional adults and families.”

2012 Presidential Race, U.S.-Afghanistan Security Agreement, John Edwards Trial, Chinese Activist Case, Junior Seau Death, French Political Situation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/2).  The 2012 presidential race; the newly signed U.S.-Afghanistan security agreement; the testimony from John Edwards’ trial on campaign corruption charges; blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng’s appeal to the U.S. to leave China; former NFL star Junior Seau’s apparent suicide; and Nicolas Sarkozy’s fight for his political life in France were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Fox Sports L.A. Meets New Dodgers Owners.  KLAC, Los Angeles – AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. covered yesterday morning’s press conference with the new Los Angeles Dodgers ownership — Guggenheim Baseball Management Team.  PM drive hosts Petros Papadakis (r) and Matt “Money” Smith (l) are pictured here interviewing L.A. Lakers great Magic Johnson (c), a member of the new ownership group.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

| May 2, 2012

Sirius XM Reports Revenue Up 11%.  SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin tells analysts the satcaster has seen subscriptions increase by 405,000 compared to the first quarter of 2011.  Revenue for Q1 of 2012 was $805 million, an increase of 11% over the same period a year ago.  Karmazin states, “SiriusXM is starting the year with tremendous operational momentum.  We grew subscribers faster than any first quarter since our 2008 merger of Sirius and XM, and we improved our self-pay monthly churn rate to 1.9% despite implementing a price increase at the beginning of the year.  Rising auto sales and our strong execution should enable us to exceed our prior 2012 subscriber growth guidance of 1.3 million, which today we are raising to 1.5 million.”  The continued good news for SiriusXM includes: its subscriber growth rate accelerating to boost its subscriber base to an all-time high of 22.3 million; reduced its monthly churn to 1.9%; and was able to show positive free cash flow in the first quarter of a fiscal year for the first time – free cash flow was $15 million for 2012’s Q1.  SiriusXM EVP and CFO David Frear states, “Our growing cash flow is reducing our leverage substantially and this improving credit profile should benefit stockholders as we refinance or pay down more than $1 billion of high coupon debt over the next 15 months.”

2012 Q1 Report: CBS Radio Down 2%.  CBS Corporation announced its first quarter revenue for 2012 and although the company as a whole was up 12% on revenue of $3.92 billion over the same period a year ago, the revenue for the CBS Radio division was down 2%.  Content licensing and distribution revenue were responsible for much of the company’s growth.

Harris to Exit Broadcast Business.  Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corporation employs some 17,000 people worldwide but the bulk of its revenue does not come from the radio equipment sector – not even close.  And that’s why the company announces it is divesting itself of the Broadcast Communications arm.  The company states a review of its business structure revealed, “the (radio) business is no longer aligned with the company’s long-term strategy.  The plan to sell these assets supports our disciplined approach to capital allocation, and we intend to use the proceeds to return cash to shareholders and invest in growing our core businesses.”

KTRH, Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Won’t Be Charged in Fender Bender Case.  Former Houston City Councilor and KTRH, Houston talk host Michael Berry will not face charges of hit and run in connection with a parking incident outside an area bar that happened in late January.  The District Attorney’s office tells the Houston Chronicle that based on its findings, there will be no charges filed against Berry.  It appears there’s no evidence to show Berry’s vehicle hit the car of a club bouncer who told authorities a car matching the description of Berry’s car hit his.  The incident happened outside of TC’s Show Bar in Montrose – a club known for gay clientele.  The local media made a big deal out of the incident and, in addition to the connection between the conservative Berry and the gay bar, questioned whether the former city councilor received special treatment from authorities investigating the incident.  Berry maintained his innocence and excoriated the local media on his radio show for running fast and loose with the facts.  He blamed much of the attention he received from the incident on politics.

Merlin Media’s New York Programming Chief Is Mark Austin Thomas.  “FM News 101.9” has been without an official programming chief since Liz Aiello was let go in December.  Now, it’s being reported that former KABC, Los Angeles news director and news anchor Mark Austin Thomas is in the programmer’s chair.  Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports an announcement from Merlin Media about Thomas’ status may come as early as this week.  All-news WEMP-FM, New York has been holding steady with a .7 share in the monthly PPM ratings.

Dave Milner Named Market Manager at Clear Channel Sacramento.  Reports of Jeff Holden’s departure from the building at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Sacramento cluster turned out to be true.  The company announces Dave Milner takes over the president and market manager role.  Milner has been serving as vice president of sales at Entercom’s San Francisco station group.  He previously worked for Clear Channel in the Portland market.   Clear Channel EVP of operations, Western Region Susan Karis states, “Dave brings an extensive track record of sales and management expertise with him to the Clear Channel Sacramento market.  I’m excited to have him back with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to lead our business in Sacramento to continued success.”

KFTK-FM, St. Louis Adds Tony Katz to Permanent Weekend Show.  Emmis Communications’ KFTK-FM, St. Louis announces regular fill-in talk host Tony Katz gets a weekly Saturday afternoon show airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Katz is the go-to fill-in guy for midday talk host Dana Loesch.  KFTK-FM program director Jeff Allen says, “Tony is a rising star and I am thrilled that we can launch a fresh, new talent into our Saturday evening line-up.  Tony is passionate, informative and most importantly, fun to listen to!”  Katz also hosts a regular internet talk program on allpatriotsmedia.com.

Commercials Are Content, Too.  The phrase “content is king” may be a cliché but the sentiment is true.  However, it’s important to remember that spots are content too and broadcasters should give attention to spot quality, according to H&H Communications president Al Herskovitz.  In his latest column for TALKERS, Herskovitz cites examples of commercial copy gone wrong that could have been avoided.  Read his piece here.

FM Sports Talker Coming to Twin Falls, Idaho.  Lee Family Broadcasting principal Kim Lee tells MagicValley.com that he’ll drop the AC music on KMVX-FM for sports talk on May 24.  The station will carry ESPN programming and be the local radio outlet for College of Southern Idaho sports.  The school’s radio voice, Jonathan Drew, will join the station as sports director and PM drive host of a local sports talk show.

Odds ‘n’ SodsBob Throndsen retires from his news director position at Fisher Broadcasting’s KOMO-AM/FM.  Throndsen has worked at KOMO radio and KOMO-TV for much of the past 30 years…..The debut of Michael Patrick Shiels’ new morning talk show based at local Fox TV outlet WSYM-TV, Lansing, Michigan will come not this week but next, according to a piece in the Lansing State Journal.  Shiels, who recently left his WJIM, Lansing based program after a contract dispute, plans to syndicate the new show to talk radio outlets across Michigan…..KBJR-TV, Duluth sports director Tom Hansen joins KDAL, Duluth-Superior as co-host of the late morning show alongside Dave Strandberg.  Hansen maintain’s his position with the television outlet…..Talk show host Tom Donahue, host of Tom Donahue Reports, announces his new flagship network for his syndicated show is Orion Talk Radio.  The program airs live from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Announces Second Annual Stu Olds Memorial Golf Classic.  The Broadcasters Foundation of America sets June 12 as the date of the second annual Stu Olds Memorial Golf Classic – the fundraiser named in honor of the former Katz Media head who died in December of 2010.  Since its inception, the fund has raised more than $500,000 to benefit the foundation.  The event costs $250 per player and proceeds go directly to the fund.  Reservations to take part in the golf outing can be made by calling Jim Thompson at 212-373-8250 or e-mail info@thebfoa.org.

2012 Presidential Race, Obama Afghanistan Visit, U.S. ICE Scam and Ohio Bridge Terror Plot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/1).  The 2012 presidential race; President Obama’s visit to Kabul, Afghanistan and the Taliban violence there; the Immigration and Customs Enforcement scandal; and the Ohio bridge terror plot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Rusty Humphries Has Movie Role in “Flicka” Film.  20th Century Fox Home Entertainment just released the movie “Flicka Country Pride” starring Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black.  Appearing in the role of the announcer at the championship horse competition is Talk Radio Network and WGST, Atlanta talk show host Rusty Humphries.  Humphries spent several days last November in British Columbia filming his scenes.  He says, “It was an honor to be asked to be a part of a major motion picture and to learn from some of the best talent in the movie making business.”  In a scene from the film, Rusty is seen here in his announcer role at the judge’s table.  Rusty Humphries’ star continues to rise on a number of fronts.  He has proven himself over the years to be like “the little engine that could.”  In addition to accruing steadily increasing ratings and affiliations, his marketing campaigns continue to attract industry attention with significant sales of such items as Rusty Humphries Beef Jerkey and Rusty Humphries cigars.  His position on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred took a leap from #35 in 2011 to #20 in 2012.  Meet Rusty Humphries at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in New York City on Thursday, June 7 where he will be appearing as one of the debaters on the Talk Rumble.  The industry-only event is near a sellout.  For reservations, hotel or sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.

 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

| May 1, 2012

Clear Channel’s WMMS-FM, Cleveland Disciplines Morning Talent for Off-Color Comment.  “Rover’s Morning Glory” cast member Dominic Dieter has been disciplined in response to comments made on the morning show – though the extent of the discipline is not known.  A father e-mailed the show stating he saw his daughter kissing another girl and asked what he should do.  Dieter responded he should have a friend “screw [her] straight.”  For obvious reasons, a bad joke about raping a young woman in response to her possible homosexuality raised the ire of some listeners and caught the attention of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.  To the credit of CC’s local management, it acted quickly.  The station met immediately with GLAAD representatives, took Dieter off the air (for how long has yet to be determined) and had him record an apology which included the following.  “I want to genuinely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by what I said.  I regret what I did say.  My comments were inappropriate.  They were inexcusable, and just downright stupid.  And I want to make it clear; there was absolutely no intention to promote physical or sexual violence.”  CC Cleveland operations manager Keith Abrams stated to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “We take matters of this nature very seriously; his comment was thoughtless and unacceptable, and we apologize to those who were offended.  We can assure you the appropriate disciplinary action has been taken, and Dieter has since apologized on air and is fully aware that what he said was unacceptable.  We also want you to be aware that during Friday’s broadcast, he was in fact immediately criticized on-air by the other hosts of the show, and the rest of the segment was dedicated to a productive discussion about the acceptance of all lifestyles.  It included call-ins and commentary from members and friends of the gay community.  WMMS supports the gay community and again, we deeply apologize.”  GLAAD’s Aaron McQuade tells the paper the station has also invited the gay rights group Equality Ohio to join its community advisory board.

Cumulus Media and Townsquare Media Pull Off Big Deal.  This deal gives each side what it wanted but it reportedly took about a year to finalize.  Here’s who gets what:  Townsquare Media gives its stations in Peoria, Illinois and Bloomington, Illinois to Cumulus plus $116 million while getting from Cumulus the stations in 11 small markets – Kileen-Temple, Texas; New Bedford, Massachusetts; Odessa-Midland, Texas; Binghamton, New York; Bangor, Maine; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Grand Junction, Colorado; Augusta-Waterville, Maine; Bismarck, North Dakota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Presque Isle, Maine.  Industry watchers are noting that Cumulus is very happy to get the cash infusion it needs after spending $2.4 billion on the Citadel deal and Townsquare Media is happy to focus on the local aspect of small and mid-size market radio.

Cumulus Media’s News/Talk KCMO, Kansas City Adds FM Signal.  Kansas City news/talker KCMO begins an FM simulcast on 103.7 – a translator that had been simulcasting the company’s classic rock KCFX-FM.  The signal is 250 watts but covers the heart of the Kansas City metro.  Cumulus Kansas City SVP and market manager Mark Sullivan states, “This is an exciting day for KCMO Talk Radio as it provides us a platform to continue to be successful into the future.”  In a statement, the company notes that John Dickey, co-chief operating officer for Cumulus commented in a recent article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle that “having this format on FM is really the future!”

Courtside Entertainment Group Adds Dr. Drew Feature to WTOP, Washington.  The “One Minute Clinic with Dr. Drew” finds a home on Hubbard Broadcasting’s major market WTOP, Washington.  DC joins New York, Los Angeles and Chicago in receiving Dr. Drew Pinsky’s latest media project – 60-second commentaries covering relationship advice and hot topics plus the latest news from the medical world.  WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo states, “In addition to breaking news, Campaign 2012, traffic, and weather coverage, WTOP brings listeners useful and relevant information on health, relationships, and consumer issues.  Dr. Drew offers practical, actionable content that’s appointment listening on WTOP.”

Greater Media’s Philly Sports Combo Grabs NHL’s Flyers for Multi-Year Deal.  There’s an aggressive acquisition of play-by-play rights going on in Philadelphia as Greater Media’s sports talk combo – WPEN-FM 97.5 The Fanatic and WPEN-AM 950 ESPN Radio – adds Flyers hockey to their programming beginning with the 2012-2013 season.  This comes just days after the stations grabbed 76ers basketball from CBS Radio’s crosstown WIP.  Flyers games will be broadcast on both sports outlets and a few will air on rock WMMR-FM.  Comcast-Spectacor (Flyers owner) president Peter Luukko says, “We’re thrilled to be working with a partner that is 100% committed and excited about the Philadelphia Flyers.  We’re also happy that the Sixers have moved over to Greater Media Philadelphia along with us.  Greater Media is an incredible partner that offers extensive promotional support for the Flyers on all their stations.”

CBS Radio Violated Sixers Contract Reports Philly Daily News.  The reason Greater Media was able to snag the 76ers for the playoffs this year though CBS Radio had the rights to the team’s play-by-play throughout this season is because CBS violated the contract, according to the Philadelphia Daily NewsDan Gross.  The paper reports CBS Radio failed to give the Sixers proper notice before bumping an April 3 game to classic hits WOGL-FM.  Gross writes that after the deal with Greater Media was consummated, Sixers CEO Adam Aron stated, “The Sixers’ rapidly growing fan base will no longer have to set their radios to ‘scan’ to find where their Sixers will be aired.”  CBS Radio market manager Marc Rayfield told the paper the two sides parted ways amicably.

Michael Harrison Set to Address 2012 Radio Show on State of Talk Radio.  In what has become an industry tradition running more than a decade, TALKERS magazine founder and publisher Michael Harrison will again deliver the annual “State of Talk Radio” address at the NAB/RAB Radio Show.  Harrison will speak on Wednesday, September 19 between 10:30 am and 11:45 am at a special Info-Session sponsored by TALKERS.  The national conference will take place this year September, 19-21 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas.  Harrison’s address is open to all 2012 Radio Show registrants.

Rush Limbaugh Helps Raise $3.3 Million for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Premiere Networks superstar Rush Limbaugh dedicated three hours of his nationally syndicated talk show on April 13 to raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Including a personal donation of $400,000, as of April 20 the cure-a-thon has brought in pledges of $3.3 million.  This is the 22nd year Limbaugh’s program has held the cure-a-thon and has helped raise more than $34 million for the organization during that time.

Federated Media to Add FM Simulcast to Sports WKJG, Fort Wayne.  Beginning June 4, Federated Media will flip Froggy 106.7 — WFGA-FM, Ft. Wayne (licensed to Hicksville, Ohio) to sports simulcasting WKJG – ESPN 1380.  At that time the station will also add a local PM drive show featuring sister rock WBYR-FM operations manager Stiller and WKJG PD and WOWO APD Brian LaMartina.  Federated Media COO Mark DePrez states, “The Stiller and Brian show is the first step toward combining the world renowned ESPN brand with an increased local connection.  Peter Drucker said concentration is the key to all economic success.  In Fort Wayne, we have gone from seven to five brands to serve this community more effectively, efficiently and most importantly more profitably.  It sounds cliché but it is true that when one door closes another opens.  We salute the staff of Froggy 106.7 for their years of dedication and commitment to community radio.”

2012 Presidential Race, Escaped Chinese Activist, EPA vs Oil and Gas Industries, White House Correspondents Dinner, and Bin Laden Death Anniversary Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/30).  The 2012 presidential campaign; the case of escaped Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng on the eve of visit to China by Hillary Clinton; EPA administrator resigns after comments about making an example of oil and gas companies; the aftermath of the White House Correspondents Dinner; and the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.

Dr. Daliah Wachs Helps Organization Raise $17, 000 for Autism Charity.  Las Vegas-based nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs helped the Finding Autistic Solutions for Tomorrow organization raise some $17, 000 during its FAST for Kids Gala on April 28 at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.  The event was hosted by local Fox TV news personalities Heidi Hayes and Ted Pretty.  Pictured here is Dr. Daliah Wachs (l) promoting the fundraiser on Fox 5 News.

Monday, April 30, 2012

| April 30, 2012

Cumulus Makes it Official:  WYAY-FM, Atlanta to Go All-News in May.  The Atlanta Business Chronicle confirms what’s been rumored as Cumulus Media COO John Dickey announces the company’s classic hits WYAY-FM – licensed to Gainesville, Georgia – will flip to all-news in mid-May.  Dickey tells the Chronicle, “As big a city as we’ve got and as diverse and cosmopolitan a community, not to have an all-news product creates a huge opportunity.  It was an easy decision for us to take advantage of it…Pop culture, celebrity news and entertainment news have really become news today.  That has intermixed with hard news to create a different product.”  Atlanta had WCNN – now SportsRadio 680 the Fan – operating as an all-news outlet in the late 1990s but that was on AM and Cumulus believes now is the right time to put an all-news product on the FM band.

KTRS, St. Louis Cancels JC Corcoran PM Drive Show.  Veteran St. Louis radio personality JC Corcoran exits CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis after hosting the PM drive show for the past 18 months.  St. Louis Today’s Deb Peterson reports management at the station was not returning calls seeking comment but that other sources indicate that KTVI-TV, St. Louis sports director and former KFNS, St. Louis talk host Martin Kilcoyne will take over the program.  Corcoran’s sidekick Trish Gazall is reportedly remaining with the station.  Other changes including a slight shift in programming as John Hadley moves his late-night show to the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot allowing Chicago-based Steve Cochran to host just his 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program at the station (he had been doing a split shift with an early evening show as well).

Feature Series – Part 4: Innovation Sets You Free…to Make Money.  Sabo Media president Walter Sabo concludes his four-part TALKERS series on FM talk.  In this piece, Sabo discusses the importance of creating time and a place to innovate.  Sabo notes that radio has no laboratory for experimentation.  “If you come up with a new format or promotional idea, where and how do you test it?  Success in a live medium depends on a specific dynamic with a live audience.  As a rule you can’t ask people how they want to be entertained.  You can present them with entertainment and see if they applaud.”  Sabo offers several ways to test new programming, including your HD channel.  “Finally, a good use for HD channels: Experimentation.  If you want listeners to try a new medium, give them something new to listen to.  It doesn’t cost more money to play different songs.  The promise of HD radio is breathtaking.  New programming attracts early adopters and that’s what new hardware demands.”  Sabo says this article is a preview of 15 action-packed minutes that he will deliver at the New Media Seminar in New York on Thursday, June 7.  This exciting industry-only event will be a certain sellout.  For registration information call 413-565-5413.  Read Walter Sabo’s entire piece here.

FCC Decision to Require Political Ad Info Posted Online for TV Stations Has Radio Execs Watching DC.  For now, only television stations in the top 50 markets in the country are being required to post their public files – including their political ad rates – online.  But some radio operators are nervous about this cascading to their medium.  This decision is only popular with some political groups that believe too much money is spent on politics and is tarnishing the process.  The NAB is not pleased and states, “NAB respectfully disagrees with today’s FCC decision and we’re disappointed that the Commission rejected compromise proposals proffered by broadcasters that would have brought greater transparency to political ad buying.  By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the internet our political advertising rates, the FCC jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations that provide local news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather information free of charge to tens of millions of Americans daily. We appreciate Commissioner McDowell‘s thoughtful and compelling dissent, and we will be seeking guidance from our Board of Directors regarding our options.”  Some communications law observers believe there are problems with this new policy and we’re likely to see this end up in court.

Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels to Host New TV and Radio Show Beginning in Early May.  Michael Patrick Shiels previously hosted the morning show based at WJIM, Lansing and was heard on other markets via the Michigan Talk Network.  His relationship with WJIM owner Cumulus ended and now he announces he’s struck a deal with WSYM-TV, Lansing to produce and distribute a new morning show that will be simulcast on WSYM-TV and on the radio in markets yet to be announced.  WSYM-TV VP/GM Gary Baxter states. “FOX 47 is proud to continue its partnership with Michael Patrick Shiels and launch his new program.  There is simply no one like him on radio or TV in the state of Michigan.  Michael Patrick’s show allows us to have the biggest names in politics, business and Michigan sports on our air every morning.  Our viewers might see Governor Snyder and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on the same show — what great television!”

Tom Joyner Vows to Stay Connected with Tri-State Fans Via Digital Media.  The EmmisESPN deal and consequent merger of the Kiss FM format with WBLS-FM, New York leaves his nationally syndicated urban morning show in the lurch.  But Tom Joyner believes very strongly in the power of Black radio and the need for shows like his in the Black community.  In a memo to Kiss FM listeners, he writes, “I am saddened that an important Black voice is going silent in New York City, especially during this important election year.  Along with the Tom Joyner “Morning Show,” the Michael Baisden show and Rev. Al Sharpton’s Sunday program will also be off the air in NYC in this transition.  Black radio has been and always will be an extremely important motivational force in the community.  Although social media currently gets a lot of credit and rightfully so, nothing can replace the role Black radio plays in empowering, informing and entertaining Black people.  You can’t believe everything you read on social media but studies do show that most people believe what they hear on black radio.  That makes me feel proud and reminds me of my responsibility to be there for them each morning.”  Joyner encourages his audience in the Tri-State area to listen via his smartphone app or via BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Compass Media Networks’ “At Home with Bob Vila” Debuts Today.  The new daily feature hosted by home improvement icon Bob Vila and produced and distributed by Compass Media Networks hits the air today at affiliates including KOGO, San Diego; WTKK-FM, Boston; KMJ, Fresno; KFNN, Phoenix; KVON, Napa, California and more.  Compass Media Networks VP affiliate sales Adam Wilbur states, “Stations in all formats – sports, news/talk, all-news, country, AC and classic hits have signed up for Vila.  In another week, we will announce additional stations in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington, DC.  With over 90% name recognition with Americans, program directors appreciate the power of Bob’s brand – and sales managers love the ability to sell the feature locally.”

Actor Stephen Baldwin, TV-Radio Host Dani Johnson and Talk Host Kevin McCullough Announce Effort to Aid Starving Orphans.  The 2012 in 2012 charity effort is named that because, as XtreMedia CEO and principal Kevin McCullough states, the goal is to rescue 2,012 orphans from starvation during the year 2012.  McCullough’s weekend radio show partner Stephen Baldwin and television and radio host Dani Johnson are partnering to spearhead this program.  Baldwin says a child can be fed for a mere 25 cents per day.  “When I toured the places these children sleep and live in, I couldn’t help but be moved to do something about it.  My whole family saw with our own eyes children who were dying or would die soon, simply because they had no food.  It is imperative to me, my media company, my family, my business partners, and every one I come into contact with to let them know how vital 25 cents can be.  It can literally feed a meal to a child who literally will die without it.”  Kevin McCullough says, “Our partners are delivering life-healing food for the rate of feeding an orphan for an entire year, for just $92 – this is how simple it is to save a life?  How can we get more people involved?  How can we rescue more children?  These questions haunt me each night…”  McCullough and company are teaming up with two charities experienced in feeding children – Food for Orphans and King’s Ransom Foundation and they are seeking other media partners for this quest.  “If you are a television, radio or new media personality who has a passion to help hungry kids, we would love for you to join us in this amazing quest.  We will link arm in arm with anyone and everyone who is moved to do this, to be part of it, and to see orphans fed.”

Nationally Syndicated Radio Feature Host Akos Jankura Develops New Weekend Show; Seeks Products or Inventions from Public to Feature.  Inventor and international presenter Akos Jankura – who writes and produces the nationally syndicated radio feature “Akos the Solutionist” – teams up with John Cremeans to create a weekend radio show based at WFLA, Tampa on which they will make it possible for one inventor to pitch their product or invention.  The show will premiere Saturday, May 5 at 4:00 pm on WFLA and people with products or inventions are asked to visit MyCoolInventions.com to submit their entry.  Jankura says, “Many people don’t know that one of our most successful TV shopping channels actually began on radio.  I’ve teamed up with John Cremeans also known as ‘The Doctor of Shopolgy,’ John has logged over 25,000 hours of live television shopping and is a pioneer in our industry.  He is skilled at getting arm-chair inventors to make their best pitch for their product which is so important in the early development process.”  Jankura says together the two have more than $2 billion in sales.  The team is poised to identify products and inventions that can become the next great hit.  Their hands-on process invites everyday inventors or people with great ideas to join the inventive group at MyCoolInventions.com and sign up to receive information and tips that will guide them through the process of taking a product to market.

In Memory of a Radio Pioneer: Pete Fornatale.  TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer worked closely with rock radio legend Pete Fornatale who passed away last week at age 66.  Although, as Neer writes, Fornatale was not a talk host as we traditionally define it in radio, “When he did crack the mic, you couldn’t find a more intelligent voice observing pop culture than the late Pete Fornatale.”  Neer notes that Fornatale became synonymous with the genre of radio hosts who did more than quickly intro or backsell a record – something that many argue is missing in music radio these days.  “He was probably the first real musicologist on commercial radio who presented rock and folk music as an intellectual as well as emotional experience.”  Read Richard Neer’s memorial to Pete Fornatale here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

| April 27, 2012

New York Sports and Urban Worlds Reeling from Emmis-ESPN Deal.  Yesterday’s announcement from ESPN that it has signed an LMA deal with Emmis Communications to air sports talk WEPN’s programming on 98.7 – the home of urban Kiss FM – sent shockwaves through the sports and urban radio communities.  The drive to get sports talk on FM – by either CBS Radio or ESPN…or both – has been closely watched for the past several years.  Many thought CBS Radio would make a move to put WFAN on FM before ESPN but that was not the case.  On the urban side, the melding of Kiss FM and WBLS-FM as Emmis will sell the intellectual property of Kiss FM to YMF Media so it can create a Kiss FM at 107.5 has some in the urban music community crying foul.  As for the financials, Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports that Emmis gets $8.4 million for the first year of a 12-year LMA with an increase of 3.5% annually.  It expects to realize $10 million for the intellectual property of Kiss FM and, all told, the deal means $96 million for Emmis.  Now, industry watchers will be intent on CBS Radio to see how fast the company moves to get an FM signal for the venerable sports giant WFAN.

Greater Media’s WPEN-AM/FM, Philadelphia Inks Deal with NBA’s 76ers.  Philadelphia sports talk duo WPEN-AM/FM – 97.5 The Fanatic and 950 ESPN Radio – agree to a multi-year deal to air 76ers basketball on the stations beginning with the first round of this season’s playoffs.  All of the games this year and through the course of the contract will air on 97.5 and many will be simulcast on 950 AM.  76ers broadcast voice Tom McGinnis will continue to serve as the play-by-play announcer for the games.  Greater Media market manager John Fullam says, “We know the future of the Sixers is bright, and we look forward to being a central part of the fan experience on Sixers game nights.  Adding NBA play-by-play to 97.5 The Fanatic and 950 ESPN Radio is yet another significant step forward in fulfilling our commitment to offer Philadelphians the finest in sports programming.  We are especially gratified that we will not have to wait until next fall for Sixers games to start broadcasting on our air.”  Prior to this deal, 76ers basketball had aired on CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talker WIP.

WJIM, Lansing and Michigan Talk Network Name Steve Gruber and Jo Ann Paul AM Drive Hosts.  Former WILX-TV, Lansing news anchor Steve Gruber and WLNS-TV, Lansing personality Jo Ann Paul are the new co-hosts of the WJIM, Lansing-based morning drive show that’s also heard across Michigan on via the Michigan Talk Network.  Gruber and Paul will work with current producer Amanda Wall and news anchor Gary Austin.  They take over the role held previously by Michael Patrick Shiels who left the Cumulus Media operation in February.  Cumulus tested a number of potential hosts before going with Gruber and Paul.

WLQR-AM/FM, Toledo Adds New PM Drive Show.  Cumulus Media sports talk outlet WLQR-AM/FM, Toledo announces the debut of “Drive Time with Miller and Bellino” hosted by Mike Miller and Anthony Bellino.  The duo’s program will air in the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot beginning Monday, April 30.  In order to make room for the new program, WLQR cuts an hour from Norm Wamer’s “The Front Row” program which will air from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  The show will emanate from local car dealership The Monroe Superstore.  In a statement, Anthony Bellino says, “We want our listeners to be able to interact with us, and have the opportunity to interact with our guests.”

United Stations Radio Networks Renews with Bloomberg.  New York-based United Stations Radio Networks announces a deal that will continue to have it sell, market and distribute various financial news and business programs created and produced by Bloomberg Radio.  USRN’s Jim Higgins states, “Bloomberg is at the very top of the financial industry when it comes to the delivery of news, data and analysis, and in turn, they recognize that we’ve been solid partners for them.  Our affiliates, advertisers and sponsors are all proud to be associated with the Bloomberg brand, and so are we.”

2012 Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM for Fourth Straight Week.  The 2012 presidential race was the most-talked-about topic on news/talk radio for the fourth straight week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM chart for the week of April 23-27.  Coming in at #2 was the Supreme Court hearing of the Arizona illegal immigration law case.  Following at # 3 was the euro zone economic jitters tied with weak U.S. jobs growth and at #4 was the Environmental Protection Agency’s attack on the gas and oil industries.  The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research into the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio in America and is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View the entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish is added to Fisher’s KVI, Seattle…..“The Handyman Show” with Glenn Haege picks up new affiliates WBCK-FM, Battle Creek, Michigan; WMMI, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan; WBCO, Bucyrus, Ohio; KATX-FM, Eastland, Texas; and   WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

| April 26, 2012

ESPN to Take Over Emmis’ Kiss FM in New York Beginning Sunday Afternoon.  The rumors of an FM signal for ESPN’s New York sports talker WEPN were true as ESPN is announcing it will begin simulcasting WEPN, New York on Emmis-owned WRKS-FM (98.7) on Sunday afternoon (4/29).  Rumored talent changes are also taking effect.  Stephen A. Smith is being paired up with Ryan Ruocco for the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm shift and Mike Lupica moves to a 12:00 noon start for his program.  In making the announcement, WEPN VP/GM Dave Roberts states, “This move to the FM dial is in keeping with the trend of sports radio shifting and offers an even broader reach for our content.”  The two stations will simulcast through the summer and in September WEPN 1050 AM will become a Spanish-language sports outlet airing ESPN Deportes content.  A press conference is scheduled for 1:00 pm this afternoon where details will be fleshed out.  As for the urban format of Kiss FM, Emmis is selling the intellectual property of the format to YMF Media and the station will move to WBLS-FM at 107.5.

Feature Series – Part 3:  Walter Sabo on Targeted Topics Vital to FM Talk Success.  In the third of a four-part series for TALKERS on building a successful FM talk station, Sabo Media president Walter Sabo discusses the importance of targeting topics to appeal to the desired demographic.  Sabo says that, unlike AM news/talk, politics is too narrow a subject to bring in the audience necessary to build cume and be successful.  “Common sense suggests that very few of the people you know spend much of their day talking about politics.  That’s why cable channels focused on politics have astonishingly low ratings.  Lower than any radio station in your city.”  Sabo maintains that talk on FM will be successful (gaining younger-demo ratings and revenue beyond what AM news/talkers typically do) only when the topics are carefully chosen to reflect what large numbers of the target demo are talking about.  “Your FM talk station is trying to reach an audience that is drawn to popular water cooler topics because that’s what they hear on all FM music personality shows.  Political talk is what repulses most 18-49 year olds from the AM band.  They are, instead, attracted to the topics heard on CHR, Hot AC and country personality morning shows.  Hit shows.  Those shows are your FM talk competition, not AM talk radio.  Read Walter Sabo’s entire column here.

Cumulus All-News Rumors Heat Up.  There have been rumblings about Cumulus Media preparing to flip underperforming music outlets to all-news in several markets.  Some of this has been based on the registration of domain names with frequencies tied to the phrase “all news.”  But the biggie is in Cumulus Media’s home base of Atlanta where there’s more fuel to add to the fire.  Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports hearing a news staff is quietly (but apparently not too quietly) being assembled and some of them include former Atlanta-based CNN Radio staffers and some current and former WGST, Atlanta news people.  Which station will it be?  A leading candidate is classic hits WYAY-FM, Gainesville (at 106.7) according to some intense chatter in the market.

Keith Larson May Be Done at WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte.  The late-morning host at Greater Media’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte told listeners to his program yesterday (4/25) that he expects to leave the station as he’s been notified his contract – set to expire May 24 – will not be renewed.  The Charlotte Observer reports Keith Larson was told his deal would not be renewed but the station would like him to stay on as an at-will employee.  It sounds as though Larson will likely not accept that offer.  WBT general manager Rick Feinblatt tells the Observer he’s disappointed Larson took to the air with talk of the contract since nothing is set in stone yet but Larson told his audience he couldn’t go on the air and not talk about it.  Last year, Larson started the independent advertising and marketing firm Larson Advertising and Media Associates.  He tells the paper that may be where he concentrates his efforts for now.

Syndicated Talk Star Mike Gallagher Says Today’s Talent Must Understand Radio from Business Perspective.  In addition to being one of talk radio’s most consistently successful air personalities, Salem Radio Network‘s Mike Gallagher tells TALKERS that it has never been more important for on-air talent to be fully connected to the business processes that make the industry tick.  He says, “In today’s climate of technological change and financial challenge, you can’t just see yourself as a ‘talent’ who is somehow separate from all the other systems that make a radio station or syndication firm function.  You must have a complete understanding of your company’s P&L as well as maintain relationships with advertisers.  A talent needs to be in constant communication with the sales department and understand their problems.”  Gallagher, who left day-to-day major market radio as a station employee at WABC, New York years ago to launch the groundbreaking syndication firm Dame-Gallagher (with former WGY, Albany owner John Dame) which was later acquired by Salem, will be a featured speaker at the forthcoming New Media Seminar on Thursday, June 7.  The panel:  Making Money in Talk Radio.  Registration, nearing sellout, is open to working media only.  For information call 413-565-5413.

Compass Media Networks to Offer 25 Anaheim Angels Games.  Compass Media Networks makes Anaheim Angels play-by-play an MLB game of the week and will air 25 home and away contests beginning May 29 when the New York Yankees play at the Angels.  As with its other sports programming, Compass will hire a broadcast crew and produce its own gamecasts that will be available nationwide.  Dial Global will manage advertising sales for this multi-year contract.  The company notes that with this deal, it will broadcast well over 160 major sporting events in 2012 including college basketball, college football and NFL football (which includes Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, and Sunday afternoon doubleheaders).  Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “The Angels have a tremendous brand, fan base and momentum.  We are honored and thankful for this opportunity.”

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  The 2012 NFL Draft begins tonight from Radio City Music Hall in New York and the big event is being covered by the sports media including Fox Sports Radio Network.  The network notes that for the 12th straight year it will cover the event with Fox NFL Insider Jay Glazer leading the coverage.  He’ll be joined by Fox Sports Radio college football draft expert Chris Landry, former USC Trojan and Fox Sports Radio host Petros Papadakis, and former NFL great Lincoln Kennedy…..SiriusXM is also on hand for the NFL Draft.  Chris Russo and Dino Costa of Mad Dog Radio and Gil Brandt, Tim Ryan, Pat Kirwan and Adam Schein of SiriusXM NFL Radio will all be broadcasting from Radio City for the first round on Thursday.  Bill Polian, the former Colts Vice Chairman and personnel guru who joined SiriusXM NFL Radio in January, will also be contributing to the satcaster’s draft coverage…..Syndicated talk host and actress Janine Turner – whose two-hour program is heard on KLIF, Dallas Saturday evenings at 9:00 pm – joins the Roger L. Simon-founded PJ Media as a regular columnist…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment names Jon Phillips the market manager for its Tulsa cluster that includes sports talk simulcast KTBZ/KAKC.

2012 Presidential Race, SCOTUS AZ Illegal Immigration Case, Euro Zone Economic Jitters, and New U.S. Spy Agency Among Top News/Talk Topics Yesterday (4/25).  The 2012 presidential race; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the Arizona Illegal Immigration law; continued concerns over economic jitters in euro zone countries; and the announcement of the creation of a new U.S. spy agency were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Fox Sports Radio’s Loose Cannons Live from New Orleans.  Fox Sports Radio Network’s “Loose Cannons” broadcast from New Orleans – the site of the Zurich Classic golf tournament – and hosted special guest Sean Payton.  The suspended head coach of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints spoke about the recent story alleging Saints GM Mickey Loomis eavesdropped on opposing teams’ conversations from his luxury suite and called the allegations “garbage.”  Pictured here are (from l-r): Vic “The Brick” Jacobs, Payton, Steve Hartman and Pat O’Brien.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

| April 25, 2012

Feature Series – Part 2:  Walter Sabo on Finding and Nurturing FM Talk Talent.  In the second of a four-part series for TALKERS on building a successful FM talk station, Sabo Media president Walter Sabo writes that the best FM talk hosts come from the ranks of successful music jocks.  “I look for talent who have invested their time doing excellent radio taking advantage of a strong format.  A great CHR jock has remarkable broadcasting skills.  He/she is taught the importance and necessity of getting to the next event.”  Sabo says talent must be willing to prep two hours for every hour they are on the air and that matching this type of host with a skilled radio programmer presents the best opportunity for great success with targeted talk on the FM band.  Read part 2 of this series here.

KMBZ, Kansas City Names Jonathan Weir Late Morning Host.  The search for a new late morning talk host at Entercom’s KMBZ, Kansas City began when Chris Merrill took a talk host position at Clear Channel’s KOGO, San Diego earlier this year.  Merrill’s been doing double duty while the search was on.  Now, KMBZ program director Jack Landreth announces Jonathan Weir comes aboard to host the 9:00 am to 11:00 am show.  “Jon’s enthusiasm and unique approach to his audience instantly drew me in as a listener first.  His ability to weave his life experiences into the fabric of the show is a real quality that endears him to his listeners.”  Weir comes from Entercom’s WSKY, Gainesville, Florida where he was producer and co-host of “The Drive Time Happy Hour” program.  Weir, a St. Louis native, states, “I couldn’t be happier to be joining such a landmark station in the Midwest.  I’m inspired and so thankful to everyone at KMBZ for giving me this incredible opportunity.  I look forward to the challenge of living up to the incredible standards set by KMBZ, and the chance to be close to my family again is a great bonus.”  Weir begins his new gig on April 30.

Talk Legend Barry Farber to Receive TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award.  Talk show host Barry Farber, still heard regularly on both Talk Radio Network and CRN Digital Talk, has been named the 2012 recipient of TALKERS magazine’s annual “Lifetime Achievement Award.”  The venerable host, named in 2002 and 2010 by TALKERS as one of the most important radio talk show hosts of all time, has been performing regularly scheduled talk shows on radio since 1960 when he started a groundbreaking program on WINS, New York.  He is credited by historians as being one of the seminal pioneers and architects of today’s talk radio.  Farber, also a prolific and accomplished author, has a new book coming out this summer titled Cocktails with Molotov: An Odyssey of Unlikely Detours (WND Books).  The award will be presented to Barry Farber by Michael Harrison at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in New York City on Thursday, June 7.  This event, nearing a sellout, is open to members of the working media only.  For registration information call 413-565-5413.

Merlin Media LMAs Third Chicago FM Signal.  Merlin Media is agreeing to lease the signal of Venture Technologies Group-owned WLFM-LP, Chicago at 87.7 on the dial to program and sell advertising on it.  Of course there’s a ton of speculation about what Merlin will do with the low-power smooth jazz outlet.  According to the Chicago Tribune, the station has been faring well with the smooth jazz format – garnering a 1.6 share in the March PPM.  Since the deal was announced, news from Merlin’s FM News 101.1 has begun airing on the station.  Though the Tribune notes Randy MichaelsRadioactive LLC has applied for the WKQX-FM call letters of the former alternative rock station (now FM News 101.1) and that’s leading to rumors the station will flip to alternative rock.  Program director and midday host Rick O’Dell confirms via the station website that a format change will take place Monday (4/30) but doesn’t say to what.

Rodney King Visits Rev. Al Sharpton.  The 20th anniversary of the verdict in the case of the Los Angeles police officers accused of beating motorist Rodney King is Sunday, April 29.  The acquittal of the four officers sparked the riots that consumed part of the city for days.  King (pictured here at left) visited Syndication One talk show host Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss the historic event and his new book, The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption (HarperOne 2012).

Steve Dahl Reduces Staff at Podcast Venture.  New-tech broadcasting models are subject to the same economic forces that affect terrestrial radio and Chicago’s Steve Dahl is making changes to keep his podcast initiative going.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports the Chicago radio legend let three staffers go recently — technical producer Pete Zimmerman, assistant technical producer Jim Ruffatto and assistant Stephanie Fallara – in order to continue operating in a way that works for him.  Dahl wrote on his blog, “It was not a decision I came to easily, but I think that it was the right move for the show.  I know when I am not growing as an entertainer and I know what I need to do to keep that process moving forward.  It’s ‘The Steve Dahl Show, and that at some point is the brand that I need to protect, not only for my own creative integrity, but in order to support my family.”  Dahl recently added two staffers – Dag Juhlin, director of creative services and Eric Drogoszewski, marketing/operations director – to his subscription-supported venture.

Backstage in Phoenix.  Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Glenn Beck (third from right) poses for a photo with KFYI, Phoenix hosts and staffers backstage at the Phoenix stop on his “Unelectable Tour II” on Friday, April 20.  Beck is hitting the road this spring bringing his standup comedy routine to audiences in Southern and Southwestern cities.  Pictured here with Beck are (from l-r): KFYI GSM Jim Wilson, KFYI early morning host Jim Sharpe, KFYI PM drive host Mike Broomhead, Beck, KFYI program director Neil Larrimore, and Mike Broomhead show executive producer Andrew Fountaine.

2012 Presidential Race, North Korea Nukes Test, Euro Zone Jitters, Secret Service Scandal and SCOTUS Hears AZ Illegal Immigration Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/24).  The presidential campaign and Mitt Romney’s Northeastern states primary sweep; North Korea’s threat to test nuclear weapons very soon; economic sluggishness in the euro zone; more dismissals in the Secret Service hooker scandal; and the Supreme Court’s hearing of the Arizona illegal immigration legislation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

| April 24, 2012

Feature Series:  Walter Sabo on FM Talk.  Sabo Media president Walter Sabo writes a special four-part series on the successful implementation of talk on FM this week at Talkers.com.  In the first installment, Sabo explains the importance of proper format execution in order to build cume.  “You rarely hear formatic structure on any talk station – you’ll hear long periods without a host name, station name, phone number – and that’s why talk stations tend to have low, vulnerable cumes.  Applying formatics to talk is hard work, but completely achievable.”  Too often, talk radio shows sound formatically different from one another even though they are placed back-to-back on a station.  That can be addressed by coaching formatics, says Sabo.  “That means that your hosts have to handle all elements in the same manner as every other host, just like music DJs.  That does not mean they should have the same opinions.  That is not desirable.”  Read more here.

Chris Sargent Named Operations Manager at Clear Channel Portland.  Chris “Sarge” Sargent has been serving as program director at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk KEX, progressive talk KPOJ and classic hits KFBW-FM (where he also handled morning drive) in Portland, Oregon.  Now, he’s upped to operations manager for the seven-station cluster.  Vice president and market manager Robert Dove states, “I’ve been fortunate to have Chris Sargent working alongside Tommy Austin the last three years and the luxury of having two operations managers in the building, which certainly made my search a lot easier.  I know Chris’s leadership along with the help and guidance of Brad Hardin, our senior vice president of programming, will lead to continued ratings success and revenue growth for our Clear Channel cluster in Portland.”

Cumulus Media Flips Pensacola FM to Talk.  The former adult hits WJLQ-FM, Pensacola changes call letters to WCOA-FM and begins a partial simulcast of sister news/talk WCOA-AM.  The new News Talk 100.7 is simulcasting the 6:00 am to 8:00 am hours of WCOA-AM’s morning drive show with Jim Sanborn and Don Parker, then breaks away to air the WMAL, Washington-based  Chris Plante show until 11:00 am.  Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee follows from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.  The rest of the day is: Phil Valentine from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Cumulus Media’s Mark Levin from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and John Batchelor from 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight and Cumulus Media’s “Red Eye Radio” for overnights.

Richard Neer:  Prioritize to Stay on Top of the Busy Sports World.  TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer offers some thoughts on staying atop of the busy sports world – especially now with NHL and NBA playoffs, MLB action and NFL offseason activity heating up.  Neer writes that sports talk hosts may find two or more events scheduled for the same night.  “Obviously you can’t watch every minute of every game.  And, oh by the way, you do have a life apart from the job.  There are family and friends who deserve attention and other cultural aspects of life that should be acknowledged lest you become too narrowly focused.  So, how can you juggle all these priorities and stay current with your demanding job?”  Find out here.

Changes Coming to Sports WQXI, Atlanta.  Management at Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WQXI, Atlanta – Sports Talk 790 The Zone – is tweaking the schedule as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho.  The morning drive show, “Mayhem in the AM,” is extended to 6:00 am to 11:00 am as is the PM drive show of Mike Bell and David Archer who move earlier to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot.  That leaves a midday show of 11:00 am to 2:00 pm to be filled and the station currently employs Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham as well as “Two Live Stews” Doug and Ryan Stewart.  Ho notes that Barnhart and Durham are contractually allowed to take May and June off since they work long hours the rest of the year at non-radio station jobs.  Ho also reports Barnhart’s and Durham’s ratings are better than the Stews but their availability in May and June presents a complication.  GM Andrew Saltzman tells the paper they expect to have the schedule squared away in the near future.

Dennis Prager Publishes New Book.  Salem Radio Network syndicated talk show host Dennis Prager begins promoting the publication of his latest book tonight (4/24) with an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity program.  The book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (Broadside Books 2012), centers around Prager’s argument that humanity has a choice between American values and its two alternatives: Islamism and European-style democratic socialism.  Prager suggests the American value system is the most viable method of creating a good society.

KCBS, San Francisco Newsman Bob Melrose Retires After 36 Years.  Longtime KCBS, San Francisco reporter Bob Melrose retires from the CBS Radio station after 36 years at the venerable all-news outlet.  Melrose’s career covering news in Northern California included come of the highest visibility cases and colleagues recall how Melrose had a knack for being there when news broke.  A retrospective in the San Jose Mercury News notes Melrose covered the Jonestown massacre, the discovery of murdered 12-year-old Polly Klaas’ body and many other stories important to the region and the nation.

Voice Over Pro Jim Cutler Recognized by Fisher House.  Voice over pro Jim Cutler (pictured here holding his plaque) was recently honored by the Fisher House Foundation for his pro bono work for the charity.  Cutler provided the voice over work for a number of Fisher House projects, including this year’s Memorial Day radio special titled, “A Grateful Nation.”  The Fisher House Foundation provides no-cost housing and assistance to the families of America’s servicemen and servicewomen while they recover at VA and military hospitals.

2012 Presidential Campaign, France Presidential Elections, Secret Service Scandal, Euro Zone Jitters, SCOTUS to Hear AZ Immigration Law Case and John Edwards Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/23).  The 2012 presidential campaign; the surprise showing of French far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections; the growing Secret Service scandal; trouble in Europe as some euro zone countries battle to beat debt issues; the coming Supreme Court hearing of the Arizona illegal immigration law; and the beginning of the John Edwards campaign finance wrongdoing trial were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Monday, April 23, 2012

| April 23, 2012

Tom Leykis’ Return to Talk Draws Loyal Audience to Web-Based Content.  Off the radio for more than three years after CBS Radio blew up KLSX-FM, Los Angeles and his contract kept him from working for anyone other than CBS, Tom Leykis returned to the microphone on April 2 for an internet-delivered talk show.  The show is broadcast live at www.blowmeuptom.com at 3:00 pm PT and on a 24/7 streamed replay via major media players – Tune In, Windows Media Player, iTunes, iPhone, Shoutcast and Winamp.  Leykis says the numbers for the first week of the show were impressive: The total number of listeners from April 2 to Monday, April 9 was 401,180.  The average number of show listeners for that week in any 15 minute period totaled 1,575 and the average time spent listening by each listener was a half hour each day in the seven-day week.  “These numbers are way higher than what we’d anticipated.  We’re way farther along in our progress than I ever could have imagined.  Kind of makes you wonder what competing alternative content like this will ultimately mean for radio.”  Leykis, who will be speaking at the New Media Seminar in New York City on June 7, tells TALKERS that the combination of doing a daily show and running his own business has made him “more focused than ever” stating, “Now is the time for talk talent to think of themselves as more than employees…they must think entrepreneurially for their own survival.  The way to start is by developing a healthy relationship with your advertisers.”

Act Quickly!  Word just in from Bob Dane, event manager for this year’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row is that due to larger than expected demand, they expanded the number of broadcast booths.  As of 10:00 am ET this morning (Monday, April 23), Dane reports there is now one remaining, fully equipped booth in morning, midday and afternoon drive left.  And it’s first come, first serve.  This event is a must-attend-and-no-reason-not-to given that everything is turnkey and at no cost for the convenience of the participating broadcasters…and if you act fast, possibly a hotel room can be part of the package — but availability is extremely limited.  Hold Their Feet to the Fire 2012 is staged annually by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, this year, May 8-9 in Washington, DC focusing on immigration issues facing the candidates in this heated election year.  Contact Bob Dane at 202-328-7004.

Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly Close to Re-signing with Fox News Channel.  The New York Times reports it has confirmed through anonymous sources that Fox News Channel superstars Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly are ready – as early as next week – to sign contract extensions with News Corp.’s cable news/talk network that would keep them in the fold through the 2016 elections.  FNC is declining to comment on the story but the sources seem to indicate that the deals to keep the two most-watched personalities on the network in place for four more years are being cemented quickly and should be announced within the next week or so.  Sean Hannity’s national talk radio show is syndicated by Premiere Networks and Bill O’Reilly’s daily commentary is syndicated to talk radio stations across the country via Courtside Entertainment Group.

NOW Attempts to Inject Life into Anti-Rush Limbaugh Campaign.  The National Organization for Women is firing up a campaign called “Enough Rush” aimed at getting the Premiere Networks talk superstar’s show cancelled.   As these things usually do, the blowback suffered by Rush Limbaugh from his Sandra Fluke comments has all but disappeared.  But NOW – working in conjunction with the anti-conservative organization Media Matters for America – is reigniting its efforts to end Limbaugh’s program.  NOW president Terry O’Neill states, “For more than two decades, Rush Limbaugh has degraded women, people of color and anyone who doesn’t look or think like him.  Like bullies everywhere, Limbaugh uses the age-old tactic of savaging one woman for the purpose of intimidating all women away from the public square.  Rush’s hostile, hateful speech is destructive to our public discourse, our communities and our democracy.”  NOW is organizing rallies in a number of cities designed to build momentum for the campaign.  Meanwhile, PPM ratings for the month of March indicate publicity generated by the campaign against Limbaugh has actually increased his ratings in many markets.

Arbitron Drops Diary-Based Ratings in Seven Markets.  Lack of enough subscribers to make it profitable can be credited for Arbitron Inc.’s decision to eliminate the diary-based ratings in Saginaw-Bay City-Midlands, Michigan (market #139); Ann Arbor, Michigan (#155); Wilmington, North Carolina (#162); Dubuque, Iowa (#237); Columbus-Starkville-West Point, Mississippi (#261); Sebring, Florida (#276); and Mason City, Iowa (#283).

WPRO, Providence Talk Host and Former Mayor Buddy Cianci’s Daughter Dies.  The colorful two-time former mayor of Providence – and PM drive talk host at Cumulus Media’s WPRO/WEAN-FM, Providence – Buddy Cianci has lost his daughter to an apparent drug overdose.  Nicole Cianci’s death at her home in the city was reported Friday and Cianci issued the following statement, “This is a tragic and emotional time for Nicole’s mother and I.  Our entire family appreciates your thoughts, prayers and sentiments.  We ask that our family’s privacy be respected during this difficult time.”  Nicole Cianci was Buddy Cianci’s only child and the mother of his three grandchildren.

TALKERS to Publish Four-Part Series by Walter Sabo on FM Talk this Week.  Sabo Media president Walter Sabo, one of the earliest and most accomplished proponents of FM talk, has written a powerful and informative four-part series on the hot topic that will run exclusively in TALKERS this week.  In the series, one of radio programming’s most prolific visionaries delves into such areas as mistakes to avoid, finding and inspiring great hosts, methods to develop cume, topic management, the differences between AM and FM “share”  and much more.  The series begins tomorrow (Tuesday, April 24) and will run every day this week through Friday.  Sabo will be a featured speaker at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in NYC on June 7.

WFLA-FM, Tallahassee AM Drive Show’s Eggers Exits to Join Think Tank.  Eric Eggers is producer and on-air co-host of the WFLA-FM, Tallahassee’s morning drive show hosted by Preston Scott.  He announces he’s leaving the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment station and the program he’s been producing for the past seven-plus years to join the Government Accountability Institute – a non-profit think tank based in Tallahassee and founded by conservative author Peter Schweizer.  Eggers tells Tallahassee.com, “Peter wrote his last book about insider trading in Congress.  And so it’s going to be more projects along the same vein in terms of focusing on corruption, cronyism, looking at some of the ways the current federal government system is broken and failing us — not looking out for the little guy.”

Ed Tyll Begins Regular Web-Based Talk Show Tonight.  Longtime talk radio host Ed Tyll begins a new regular talk program broadcast via the internet at TalkRadioX (http://talkradiox.com/) at 8:00 pm ET.  TalkRadioX was co-founded by Dan Delgado and Antubert Johnson – two personalities who’ve made the TALKERS “Frontier Fifty” list of internet talk show hosts blazing a trail in the world of web-based programming since the list began being published three years ago.  (The 2012 “Frontier Fifty” list will be published at Talkers.com in September.)  Tyll says TalkRadioX is “a 24-hour streaming talk station that boasts an original line up of enthusiastic talkers, reminiscent of when talk radio was both fun and informative.”  Dan Delgado tells TALKERS, “Getting someone of Ed Tyll’s caliber and stature in the industry is something we at TalkRadioX had been looking to do for some time.  We’re thrilled to be getting someone with his experience on the station.  What he brings in terms of talent and energy is something that will bring all of us to the next level.”  Tyll states, “TalkRadioX represents a key moment in the history of a format that I love hosting.  It’s the perfect place for what I do on the air.  I’m convinced that my success with the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando will be eclipsed by the enormous potential of this network’s unique combination of terrestrial radio and world wide web radio listenership.”  During his career, Ed Tyll has worked at numerous major market talk stations as well has having been nationally syndicated.

The Fight for Freedom in Afghanistan.  WNDB, Daytona Beach talk show host Marc Bernier (l) is pictured here interviewing author and former Army Ranger Captain Sean Parnell (r) as the two discuss his new book Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan (William Morrow 2012).  The interview was conducted before a live audience at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is the 78th such event – broadcast live on WNDB – in Bernier’s live interview series.

Friday, April 20, 2012

| April 20, 2012

Ed Schultz Added to Growing Lineup of Movers, Shakers and Stars at New Media Seminar.  “Big Eddie,” star of MSNBC’s nightly “The Ed Show” and nationally syndicated progressive talk radio sensation has been named to deliver the annual “State of the First Amendment” address at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in New York City on Thursday, June 7.  The speech, which has a rich history dating back more than two decades, is a longtime tradition in the talk show industry and will take place during the Freedom of Speech Ceremony at this year’s event.  WTOP, Washington VP of news and programming, Jim Farley will be this year’s recipient of the prestigious Freedom of Speech Award.   This year’s NMS/NY will feature a lineup of more than 50 industry speakers addressing a variety of topics including the state of programming in talk radio, methods of generating revenue during tough times, the challenge of selling controversy, designing successful digital and social media strategies, the changing role of news, the continuing growth of sports talk, and lots more.  A detailed agenda for the June 7 event will be posted at Talkers.com this coming week.  This year’s New Media Seminar marks the innovative launch of an updated model sensitive to the tough economic and stressful conditions of the times.  Significant restructuring has been applied to lower the costs of registration (only $99), accommodations and travel as well as moving the event from the weekend to a weekday. According to TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, “Both conferences will be national in scope and regional in flavor, a recipe that worked amazingly well at last year’s successful experiment, the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum.”  NMS 2012 will consist of two one-day conferences.  The first will be held in New York City on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side.  According to its organizers it is on the verge of a sellout.  The second – presented in association with the Los Angeles Press Club – will take place on Thursday, October 11 in Los Angeles at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.  Harrison says, “We learned a tremendous amount at last year’s ‘happening’ in L.A. There is something very exciting, fulfilling and productive about one single, power-packed day with no time-wasting fat or money-wasting frills.  It was executed purposefully under the radar to test the waters for this new model on a national scale and it succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, reaching maximum registration capacity in a matter of days.  Although the New Media Seminar has actually grown consistently larger and has been a sell-out every year of its existence, we recognize that conditions are such that a change would eventually be necessary as well as beneficial to the working person in our business – at least during this stressful period of tight budgets and high industry economic uncertainty.  At TALKERS we insist on being ahead of the curve.  Industry conferences need to include and be accessible to professionals in the trenches as well as the corporate elite.  This new model is a gift to the business.”  Because quick sell-outs for each event are expected, registration is limited to working media. (As indicated, New York is on the verge of a sellout.)  For registration and sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413 or e-mail her at barbara@talkers.com.

UPDATE!!!  HOTEL INFORMATION FOR NEW YORK ATTENDEES.  The Doubletree by Hilton Metropolitan New York at 569 Lexington Avenue (3 blocks away) has rooms available for $359 per night for a limited time.  You may register online via www.dtnewyork.com. On the main page, click on reservations and type the letters TNM in the group code box.  Or you can call 800-222-8733 and give the code TNM when speaking to the guest services staff. 

Arbitron Reports Q1 Revenue Up 5.5%.  The first quarter of 2012 has been good to Arbitron Inc. as the company states net income increased 9.6% on revenue growth of 5.5% during the period that ended March 31.  Total revenue for the quarter was $106.4 million and it came primarily from annual rate increases, including the continued phase-in of price increases for the PPM.  Arbitron CEO Bill Kerr states, “Our results and our activities in the first quarter are well aligned with our long standing priorities for enhancing our core services and for generating revenue growth.  We unveiled our marketing mix modeling service at the recent Advertising Research Foundation convention.  We expect to have the complete service up, running and ready to improve radio’s visibility among the top agency media planners by the middle of the summer.”  Kerr also said, “Digital radio remains a key priority as we continue our work to follow radio onto its new digital platforms in order to quantify this growing audience segment thereby enabling customers to monetize it.”  Guidance for the rest of 2012 indicates Arbitron expects revenue to be up between 5% and 7%.

Cox Media Announces Talent Lineup for New Tampa FM Talker “The Bone.”  Last week Cox Media Group announced it would drop the rock music on WHPT-FM, Tampa – “The Bone” – built around the success of AM drive talent Bubba the Love Sponge and PM drive counterpart Cowhead.  Now, the company announces the rest of the lineup consisting of talent already working in the Cox stable.  Following Bubba from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon is former WTKS-FM, Orlando – Real Radio 104.1 – personality Drew Garabo, who currently is AM drive host on the Cox Tampa cluster’s rock WSUN-FM.  From 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm Cox imports Billy Madison and his KISS-FM, San Antonio morning show crew for a midday talk program.  Following Cowhead in PM drive is Bubba cast member Matt “Spice” Lloyd who’ll host the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm program.  Cox Radio Tampa vice president and market manager Keith Lawless says of the new direction of The Bone, “The top-rated performance on our current shows clearly tells us that Tampa Bay likes what they hear and is asking for more.  We have worked hard to insure we are giving them what they want with these compelling new shows.  This is an exciting time in Tampa Bay radio.”

Clark Howard Sponsors 46th Habitat for Humanity House.  Cox Media nationally syndicated financial and consumer issues talk host Clark Howard announces he’s challenging the Tulsa community to help him build a Habitat for Humanity house in the city.  Howard is putting up half the money it’ll take to build the house — $35,000 – and is asking listeners to Tulsa affiliate news/talk KRMG-AM/FM to donate the rest.  The Tulsa Habitat build will be parallel to a build in Joplin, Missouri that Clark is also sponsoring on the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornado as part of his on-going “Project Home” campaign.  The Tulsa home will be the 46th Habitat for Humanity home that Howard has helped sponsor.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  New York talk radio personality Loose KannonRob Stevens – is heard on the WOR, New York internet stream from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm daily beginning Monday, April 23.  Stevens previously was heard on Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York internet stream.  He tells TALKERS he’ll be heard between former New York Governor David Paterson and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on the stream…..Main Street Radio Network president Jane Silk is publishing a new book on May 5 titled The Poetic Gourmette (Changing Lives Press 2012).  The book is billed as a “compilation of uniquely formed recipes inspired by emotional challenges experienced by the author at the time of creation.”  Silk says, “I would move on to cooking and experimenting with various ingredients, which to me were like words.  Every time I mixed an ingredient, I was expressing another feeling.  When I completed my recipes, I felt that I had dealt with whatever the world had sent my way.”…..ESPN Radio and USC agree to a multi-year deal to allow the sports giant the exclusive national broadcast rights to Trojans home football games…..The Automotive Journalism Society of America names talk host Jeff Shade’s syndicated, KRKO, Seattle-based “Talk About Cars” the “Best Automotive Radio Show” for 2012.  Shade’s program is heard on KRKO, Seattle; WIXC, Melbourne, Florida; and WAMT, Orlando to name a few and is gaining new affiliates each week…..KYKN, Salem, Oregon talk host Bill Post’s program is expanded from two to three hours daily, now airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.  General manager and station owner Mike Frith states, “I’m delighted with the way in which Bill Post has taken the show from a compelling hour to a second hour and now a third hour of great local, Oregon oriented talk.  He has consistently kept the show topical, fun and informative and our listeners have responded very positively to the show.”

2012 Presidential Campaign Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 16-20.  The ongoing 2012 presidential campaign returned to the #1 spot on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio.  Following at #2 this week was President Obama’s proposed oil industry regulations.  At # 3 was ongoing debate in Washington over the federal budget deficit and the death of the ‘Buffett Rule’ in the Senate.  And at #4 was the scandals involving the Secret Service and the Government Services Agency.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published each Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

Revolution on the Hill.  That was the name of the first event held on the Capitol Hill lawn on Monday, April 16 and sponsored by former presidential candidate Herman Cain.  The purpose of the rally was to draw attention to tax reform, fiscal responsibility and the importance of electing true conservatives in government and included such speakers as Dick Morris, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist.  Also taking part were some important talk show hosts.  Pictured here at the event are (from l-r): Cox Media’s Neal Boortz; Talk Radio Network and WGST, Atlanta’s Rusty Humphries; and WLAC, Nashville-based Radio America-syndicated host Steve Gill.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup.  “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois and Montana tri-mulcast KYLW, Billings; KBSR, Laurel; and KHDN, Hardin…..Better Health Network’s Dr. Bob Martin health talk program is added to the weekend lineup at KFWB, Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

| April 19, 2012

Entertainment Industry Mourns Passing of Dick Clark.  The music, television and radio industries are mourning the passing of pioneer broadcaster Dick Clark, who died on Wednesday after suffering a massive heart attack at age 82.  In addition to his numerous other contributions to the entertainment industry, Clark co-founded United Stations Radio Networks with Nick Verbitsky in 1981.  Verbitsky says, “Dick was an icon to many, but a true friend, partner and mentor to those of us who worked closely with him.  His impact on broadcasting is immeasurable, and his entrepreneurial spirit will be a part of our world at United Stations forever.”

Talk Host Scott Hennen to Purchase WZFG, Fargo.  The conservative talk-formatted WZFG, Fargo – positioned as “1100 AM The Flag” – will return to the control of talk host and station manager Scott Hennen upon FCC approval and the closing.  Hennen announces he’s struck a deal with Great Plains Integrated Marketing to buy back the station he founded in 2008.  Hennen was fired by his investors as president and CEO of GPIM in the fall of 2010.  His program remained on the air at WZFG until May of 2011.  Hennen is currently hosting a nationally syndicated radio show but is not heard in the Fargo market at this time.  His program will return to the station when the new deal begins.

Internet and Terrestrial Radio Are Different Businesses When it Comes to Non-Competes.  That’s the ruling of Stark County (OH) Common Pleas Court Judge Charles E. Brown in the case of two Canton jocks who started a radio show on the internet and were sued by their former employer for violating the non-compete.  Radio hosts Patrick DeLuca and Charlotte DiFranco (pictured here) left their highly rated morning program at WDJQ-FM, Canton after failing to agree to terms on a contract renewal with station owner Don Peterson III.  They started their own station at www.theradiosucks.com and began broadcasting three shows per week after exiting in February and Peterson sued, claiming they violated the non-compete.  Attorney Steve Okey argued his clients were prevented from operating a business that was “the same or essentially the same as a radio station” and their venture does not fit that description.  The judge agreed.  Peterson tells the Youngstown Vindicator he’s disappointed with the decision and will review his options.  This is a case others in the radio and internet radio businesses will be watching closely.

Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington Inks Deal for Sports Content with Dial Global.  Red Zebra Broadcasting announces it has signed a two-year deal with Dial Global Radio Networks to have exclusive rights to March Madness, the NFL package, the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft, Golf’s Majors and the Olympics in the Washington, DC market. Vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says of the deal, “We want to thank Greg Leader and Sean Thompson of Dial Global for being such great partners.  We could not be more pleased with the relationship and all the great programming Dial Global brings to our listeners.  When you team the Redskins Radio Network with Dial Global’s NFL Package, NFL fans in DC will receive extensive, exclusive coverage of the National Football League on ESPN980.”

Current TV to Add Show Hosted by California Lieutenant Governor.  Former San Francisco mayor and current California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will debut a new talk show on the Al Gore-founded Current TV network beginning in May.  The New York Times reports the move is designed by Current TV to “keep its progressive agenda on track.”  In a statement announcing the move, co-founder Al Gore states, “He touches many worlds – business, politics, entertainment and activism.  We are honored that Current TV will be bringing his curiosity, intelligence, insights and enthusiasm to television.”  Newsom will continue to serve as lieutenant governor of California.  Current TV is rebounding from the high-profile battle – now in the courts – with former “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann.  It also recently added video simulcasts of talk radio stars Stephanie Miller’s and Bill Press’ nationally syndicated morning radio programs.

TALKERS Publishes 2012 Heavy Hundred.  The 2012 installment of TALKERS magazine’s signature feature, “The Talkers 250 featuring the Heavy Hundred,” is officially posted.  This long-running talk radio industry institution also titled, “The 250 Most Important Talk Radio Hosts in America,” is compiled by the TALKERS editorial board based upon a compilation of both objective and subjective elements including (in alphabetical order):  courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness.  Although the list is traditionally drawn from a wide variety of genres representing the breadth of spoken word radio from commercial to public and including everything from traditional news/talk to specialty programming, this year’s installment of the popular feature marks a departure from the custom of including sports talk hosts.  According to TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “Because of the explosive growth of sports talk radio and the number of excellent hosts participating in it across the country, TALKERS will be publishing the genre’s own Heavy Hundred beginning in 2012.”  The TALKERS Sports Talk Heavy Hundred is scheduled for publication this coming June.  To see this year’s entire “Talkers 250 featuring the Heavy Hundred” click here.

23rd Annual Imus Radiothon Begins Today.  77WABC, New York-based Don Imus broadcasts the 23rd Annual Imus Radiothon beginning today and running through tomorrow.  The Radiothon is airing on 77WABC, radio affiliates around the country and on the Fox Business Network.  The two-day event benefits the Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer, the Tomorrows Children’s Fund and the CJ Foundation for SIDS.  Guests on the program for the Radiothon will include various sponsors and children/siblings who have visited and experienced the Imus Ranch in Ribera, New Mexico.

Warren Ballentine Interviews First Lady Michelle Obama.  Syndication One nationally syndicated talk host Warren Ballentine is pictured here at the White House on April 16 interviewing First Lady Michelle Obama.  Ballentine visited the White House as part of the Summit on Entrepreneurship for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.  The White House Summit offered the opportunity for Ballentine to provide a national African-American audience for small business owners, government experts and leaders from a variety of HBCUs/MSIs to discuss their numerous opportunities and facilitate solutions to challenges in underserved communities.  Ballentine states, “Doing my show from the White House was such a great honor for me.  The staff was outstanding and the chance to interview First Lady Michelle Obama was truly a blessing and honor.  The First Lady is not only gracious, she is wise, funny, empathetic and truly in tune with the people of America.  This is an experience that I will never forget!”  Ballentine’s interview with the First Lady will be highlighted on his program today (4/19).

2012 Presidential Campaign, U.S. Soldiers Photos Scandal, North Korea Military Ambitions, Trayvon Martin Case Developments and Ted Nugent Comments Concern Secret Service Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/18).  The 2012 presidential campaign; the problems being caused by U.S. soldiers taking photos with the bodies of dead Taliban insurgents; ongoing concerns over North Korea’s military ambitions; judge steps down from Trayvon Martin case; and Ted Nugent’s comments to NRA group draws concern of Secret Service were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

| April 18, 2012

SiriusXM Bests Howard Stern in Court.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman reports on a New York State Supreme Court judge’s decision to throw out Howard Stern’s $300 million suit against employer SiriusXM.  Weisman notes that the judge concluded that Stern and agent Don Buchwald were paid bonuses due as the result of the Sirius and XM merger but that Stern’s contention his bonus was calculated improperly was dismissed.  Read more here.

Tom Becka Returns to Air in Omaha on NRG’s KKAR.  Talk host Tom Becka recently joined Radio Fargo-Moorhead’s new FM talk outlet KRWK-FM, Fargo – 101.9 Talk FM – where he serves as program director and morning drive host.  He retains that post but adds a two-hour PM drive talk show at NRG Media’s KKAR, Omaha airing from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Becka was heard in the market for years on Clear Channel’s crosstown KFAB until he parted ways with the station last fall.  NRG Omaha market manager Andy Ruback states, “I had a short but critical list of talent I wanted to recruit to our cluster of stations and having the legendary Tom Becka join the lineup on ‘The Mighty 1290’ truly offers our listeners localized content with an edge.  Having Tom on our team provides a perfect fit for our Mighty 1290 brand and I am confident the listeners will definitely tune in to hear Tom’s take on everything from politics, lifestyle, newsmakers and more.”  On his return to the air in Omaha, Becka says, “I’m looking forward to working very hard for two great companies doing what I love to do.  I’m having a blast building a new FM talker for Radio Fargo-Moorhead, and now NRG Media and ‘The Mighty 1290’ are giving me a chance to continue to have a strong presence in Omaha.  I have the best of all worlds.  I’m a blessed man to be able to have these two great opportunities.”

ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg Co-Hosts “Live with Kelly” Today.  ESPN Radio personality Mike Greenberg – one half of the Mike & Mike syndicated morning drive show – will co-host ABC’s “Live with Kelly” show this morning at 9:00 am ET.  Host Kelly Ripa called in to the Mike & Mike show yesterday to promote Greenberg’s appearance.  She notes actress Olivia Wilde is among today’s guests prompting Greenberg to say, “I want every girl who ignored me in high school to tune in tomorrow.”  Ripa quickly replied, “Think we’ll get a boost in ratings when every girl who was mean to you tunes in?”

New “Business for Breakfast” Morning Show Airs on Colorado Financial Talk Outlets.  Radio Colorado Network’s new “Business for Breakfast” show is the new AM drive show on Pilgrim Communications’ KRCN, Denver/Ft. Collins and KREL, Colorado Springs/Pueblo.  Hosted by Marc Mandel, Harriet Fox and Roger Cridlebaugh, the program is produced by Radio Colorado Network which promotes the program stating “the new and improved ‘Business for Breakfast’ gives listeners current market analysis, economic updates and timely interviews with featured guests.  This show is informative, educational and entertaining with the intent to best position listeners for the opening bell and start of the day.”

Palm Springs Talk Host Lee Rayburn Resigns; Announces Move “Back East.”  Until last Friday, Lee Rayburn was afternoon host at Morris Communications’ KNEWS multi-cast in the Palm Springs market.  Rayburn resigned on air at the end of his show on April 13 stating he was taking a position “back East.”  Rayburn and KNEWS have been embroiled in a controversy surrounding a civil suit for defamation, libel and invasion of privacy against Rayburn and the station by local business person Pete ChryssThe Desert Sun reports Chryss alleges Rayburn and the station made false and malicious statements about him on the radio – charges the station denies.  Chryss was providing security services for a number of city-owned buildings but those contracts were canceled in the wake of public scrutiny over Chryss’ relationship with a former city councilor.

Cumulus Media Providence Helps Raise More Than $600k for Children’s Hospital.  Last week’s Cumulus Media-sponsored, two-day radiothon for the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence helped raise $611,312.  The Cumulus cluster – including news/talk WPRO/WEAN-FM — encouraged listeners and website visitors to donate in support of the hospital while on-air personalities interviewed dozens of patients and family members of the hospital, hoping to raise awareness of the doctors, hospital and care they provide.  WPRO/WEAN-FM program director Paul Giammarco says, “Cumulus Media Providence and our affiliated stations would like to extend our heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated to this incredible cause, you all made a difference in the lives of so many local children and families.”  Pictured here are (from l-r): Dr. Thomas Tracy; Tony Torres, 2012 Champion Child; WPRO/WEAN PM drive talk host Buddy Cianci; WPRO/WEAN-FM morning news host Tara Granahan; and Dr. Robert Klein.

2012 Presidential Race, Obama Oil Price Regulation Program, GSA Scandal and North Korea Military Ambitions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/17).  The 2012 presidential showdown between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney; President Obama’s program to regulate oil prices; the testimony about the Government Services Agency spending scandal; and concern over North Korea’s military ambitions were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Support for Fisher House Recognized.  ABC News Radio vice president and general manager Steve Jones (l) accepts a plaque from Fisher House vice president of community relations Cynthia Campbell (r) for ABC’s assistance to the veterans organization.  Fisher House, which provides housing to the families of military personnel being treated at military and VA hospitals, says ABC lent critical pro bono technical support to “The Gift,” Fisher House’s Christmas radio broadcast, which aired on 85 radio stations and helped generate a 30% year-to-year increase in giving during the last week of 2011.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

| April 17, 2012

All-Hannity Stunt Points to New FM Talker in Philly.  Merlin Media dropped the Christian talk on its new WKDN-FM, Philadelphia and began airing Premiere NetworksSean Hannity round the clock.  The move seems to back the speculation that Merlin will not follow the footsteps of its New York and Chicago FMs with an all-news format but will go news/talk.  It’s expected the station will soon clear Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh and possibly Glenn Beck as well as it builds an FM talk station with Philadelphia native son Al Gardner as PD and morning drive host.  Merlin also changed the call letters of the station to WWIQ-FM.

News/Talk KFI, Los Angeles Wins March PPM Battle.  It’s not often a commercial news/talk station is ranked the top station in a PPM market, but Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles topped sister Top 40 KIIS-FM by a tenth of a point to win the March PPM contest with a 4.9 share.  A few news/talk stations have landed in the top spot in the monthly PPMs – Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee has a track record of dominance in that market as does Cox Media‘s WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville – but for the most part, the number one slot is usually nabbed by a music or all-news station.  It goes to show the astounding cume KFI has in the market.

Clear Channel Reorganizes Marketing Structure; Tim Castelli Replaces Charlie Rahilly.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment makes a major move to “unify and align its marketing offerings under one umbrella” with the creation of a new, unified sales and marketing group led by former AOL executive Tim Castelli.  CC states, “This move, the latest in the company’s transformation to a fully integrated, multi-platform media and entertainment company, creates an unprecedented opportunity for partners to tap into the company’s unparalleled reach of 237 million people a month (the largest of any radio or television outlet in America) and unmatched collection of media assets.”  CCME chairman and CEO John Hogan says, “This is an entirely new way to leverage the unmatched national reach with local engagement capabilities of Clear Channel Radio Sales, Strategic Partnerships, Clear Channel Connections, Digital, event sponsorships and Premiere Radio Networks Sales supported by innovative programs and world class custom marketing insights.”  In addition to Castelli’s hiring, Clear Channel announces Condé Nast’s Holly Lang joins the company as senior vice president, marketing solutions.  Lang is responsible for conceiving and implementing innovative marketing programs for national advertisers, with a special focus on consumer brands.  Also, Chris Monteleone, formerly vice president of partner strategy at Madison Square Garden, has been named senior vice president, event sponsorship sales and development.

New Jersey 101.5 Gives Steve Trevelise the Evening Show.  Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton – New Jersey 101.5 – announces part-time staffer Steve Trevelise is named permanent host of the evening show on the station.  Trevelise has been sitting in hosting the evening program since the station parted ways with Michelle Jerson.  Now, brand manager Eric Johnson states, “There are few in radio that I know who sound more Jersey than Steve!  We are thrilled he is bringing his passion and knowledge of the state to weekday evenings on New Jersey 101.5.  Having been here part-time for a few years now, he has worked hard to earn this position and knows how to relate to our more than 1 million listeners.”  In addition to his radio career, Trevelise is a stand-up comic and has performed at comedy clubs throughout New Jersey.  He currently owns and operates Sarcasm Comedy Club in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Midway Broadcasting’s WVON, Chicago Joins iHeartRadio.  The Windy City’s urban talk outlet, WVON, is the latest station to join Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s mobile/digital radio service iHeartRadio.  Midway Broadcasting chairman Melody Spann Cooper states, “I think this is a win-win for both WVON and iHeartRadio.  We’ll reach a national audience, our listeners will have the benefit of taking the station wherever they go by using their smart phones, and iHeartRadio gets the benefit of our best-in-class urban talk format.”  The station says it is embarking on an aggressive promotional campaign to introduce iHeartRadio and to educate its listeners on its usage.

Gabe Hobbs Named Strategic Advisor at Listener Driven Radio.  Former Clear Channel news/talk and sports corporate programmer Gabe Hobbs joins Listener Driven Radio to spearhead the company’s LDR.TopicPulse – what the company describes as “a new system that offers real time social media topic tracking, so news/talk stations can see what local audiences are talking about up-to-the-second.”  LDR further describes LDR.TopicPulse as “valuable real-time information to show producers and hosts on which topics and news stories are ‘getting buzz’ in their market on social media.  The system scans all available news sources, local blogs, Facebook posts, Tweets and other social media.  Then, producers can see a report – which is updated to the second – on the hottest trending topics and their shelf life.”  On his new position, Hobbs states, “LDR’s team is the finest group of interactive innovators in the country.  I’m proud to join the team to translate the success LDR is having at music radio to the news/talk/sports formats.”

Salem Radio Network Host Dr. Richard Land Responds to Plagiarism Accusations.  Southern Baptist Dr. Richard Land – host of the “Richard Land Live” Saturday program syndicated by Salem Radio Network – responds to accusations he pulled direct commentary for a monologue about the Trayvon Martin case from an editorial by Jeffrey Kuhner of the Washington Times.  Land admits he failed to provide verbal attribution on the program for using some content and apologizes.  Land states he did not intend to deceive and always posts his source material on his program’s website.  SRN VP of news and talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “SRN stands firmly behind Dr. Richard Land, whose ethical standards and intellect are recognized around the world.  An oversight in giving an on-air mention to a source he clearly posted on his website hardly rises to the level of ‘plagiarism.’  That standard is reserved for individuals like Vice President Joe Biden, who was forced to abandon his 2008 presidential campaign when it was revealed he was recycling entire speeches from British Labour Policy figure Neal Kinnock. Or President Obama himself, who was found to be lifting entire sections of speeches formerly delivered by his friend DeVal Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts.  It says a lot about Richard Land that he has acknowledged that he can do better…and that he has pledged to do just that.”

Dial Global Names Michael Schreck SVP/Director of Corporate Sports.  In his new position as senior vice president and director of corporate sports, Michael Schreck will be responsible for sports sales and marketing as well as league and team negotiations for Dial Global.  Co-president and CEO David Landau states, “Michael has a proven track record of success in cultivating both advertiser and league partnerships.  With his leadership, we are looking forward to continuing to define great moments for our advertisers and the millions of sports fans our broadcasts touch.”

Dave Ramsey Invades San Antonio.  Nationally syndicated talk radio star Dave Ramsey (pictured here on stage in San Antonio) addressed more than 6,000 fans during the presentation of his “Total Money Makeover Live.”  Ramsey also spoke before some 1,000 local business people  as he presented his EntreLeadership 1-Day event.  Affiliate KTSA, San Antonio benefitted from Ramsey’s appearance in town.  General sales manager Coreena Hazelett says, “One of the invaluable things about Dave’s Live Event visit is the time he puts aside for our sponsors.  The clients really get the opportunity to connect one on one with Dave, and they are moved by his desire to see their businesses succeed.  He’s not just a host on the radio, he’s a true partner who’s committed to the success of our station and our advertisers.”

Secret Service Prostitute Scandal, 2012 Presidential Race, ‘Buffet Rule’ Blocked by Senate GOP, GSA Wasteful Spending and ObamaCare Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/16).  The backlash against the Secret Service after agents found in prostitution scandal in South America; the 2012 presidential race including the flap over Ann Romney homemaker comments; the Senate GOP’s blocking of the ‘Buffet Rule’ to tax the super rich; the investigation into wasteful spending by the General Services Administration and the legal status of ObamaCare were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Monday, April 16, 2012

| April 16, 2012

Heidi Harris Named Morning Drive Host at Salem’s Re-Branded KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino.  Salem Communications announces its Southern California news/talk outlets KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino are being re-branded “The Answer,” following the same plan recently instituted at the company’s WNYM, New York.  At the same time, rising talk media star Heidi Harris joins the stations to serve as AM drive host.  Harris, a Las Vegas native, most recently hosted the morning drive program at Beasley Broadcasting’s KDWN, Las Vegas.  Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce says the new morning show and the new name and positioning will make both stations more competitive, with more attitude in the imaging and more opportunities to position the stations in their markets.  “We have been using the name ‘The Answer’ in New York since March 12, and could not be happier with the response.  The on-air attitude and positioning is much more positive and we decided we could do something similar for KRLA and KTIE.  The addition of Heidi Harris to the morning show is a major investment in the future of these stations, so the timing was perfect to combine the new show with the re-branding effort.”  Heidi Harris says of her new gig, “I am thrilled and excited to join Salem Communications, a company that has quickly become one of the most respected places to work in radio and a company with a huge commitment to what I do: the news/talk format.  I can’t wait to get back on the radio and to do my thing in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire – two great markets for talk – and two great stations.  With a teeny bit of talent, 13 years of busting my butt, and most importantly the Grace of God, I have landed my dream job.”

Florida’s Magic Broadcasting Buys Tallahassee Market WGWD-FM; Flips to News/Talk.  Panama City, Florida-based Magic Broadcasting II announces it has completed the purchase of classic country WGWD-FM, Gretna, Florida (Tallahassee market) and will flip the station to news/talk today as “Talk Radio 93.3 FM” WGWD.  CEO Don McCoy tells TALKERS magazine the station will feature state-syndicated talk hosts Burnie Thompson (12:00 noon to 3:00 pm) and Derrell Day (7:00 am to 10:00 am).  Thompson’s guests on today’s program will include Governor Rick Scott, upcoming Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, Florida’s next Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, and U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Tallahassee).  McCoy says the company is bringing “Florida’s year-round Town Hall right to the Capital City.”  He calls the new format “live, local, fun and exciting!  We’re focused on state programming as well as national issues …and always for Floridians.”  The station will also air Talk Radio Network/Washington Times-produced “America’s Morning News,” TRN’s Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage and Rusty Humphries, Cox Media’s Neal Boortz and CBS Radio’s “Overnight America with Jon Grayson.”

WNYM, New York’s Curtis Sliwa Featured in New York Post Story About Fiancé and Children.  Consummate New Yorker, Guardian Angels founder and talk media personality Curtis Sliwa is a local celebrity in New York but few knew of his home life until a piece in the New York Post this weekend shed light on that aspect of Sliwa’s life.  The short version is that Sliwa and fiancé Melinda Katz plan to marry soon and continue raising their two sons – Carter and Hunter – in their Forest Hills, Queens home.  Sixteen years ago Katz asked former boyfriend Sliwa for a sperm donation intending to raise any children she bore alone.  While pregnant with Hunter, Katz developed complications and called Sliwa – out of her life for years at this point – and he came to her aid and the relationship grew from there.  There’s far more to this human interest story featuring one of talk radio’s colorful characters.  Read it here.

KBME, Houston Brings N.D. Kalu and Greg Koch Aboard for Mid-Morning Show.  When former NFL players N.D. Kalu and Greg Koch left CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talk KILT last month, it was rumored the two might reappear at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s crosstown sports talk KBME.  That has been confirmed.  The two will host the 10:00 am to 11:00 am “In the Trenches with Koch and Kalu” beginning today (4/16).  Koch and Kalu had been hosting a weekend program on KILT and served as commentators on other station programs.  Kalu works in real estate in the Houston area and Koch is an attorney.

KOMO, Seattle Morning News Anchor Bill Yeend Retires.  Pacific Northwest broadcaster Bill Yeend finished his last airshift at Fisher’s KOMO, Seattle on Friday and begins enjoying his retirement – and probably sleeping in for the first time in a long time – today.  For the past 10 years, Yeend has co-anchored the morning news at KOMO with Manda Factor.  Yeend began his career at rock KBBX-FM, Seattle in 1968 and moved to crosstown KIRO in 1970.  There, he won five Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic excellence.  Taking over at KOMO alongside Factor is KOMO sports reporter and Seattle Mariners public address announcer Tom Hutyler.

WLS, Chicago Changes Imaging Voices; Drops Jeff Davis and Brings Aboard Scott Fisher.  Chicago radio fans are well aware of Jeff Davis’ history with Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS.  He started with the station in 1974 when it was the big hit music outlet in the city.  He remained with the station through the late 1980s.  Davis has been the voice of the station for most of the last 20 years but Cumulus has decided to change the station’s imaging and chooses not to renew Davis’ contract and signs on with Scott Fisher Productions.

Sports KFNC-FM, Houston to Be Hawked at NAB.  Station trustee and broker Larry Patrick of Maryland-based Patrick Communications tells the Houston Chronicle he will be actively looking for potential buyers for sports talk KFNC-FM, Houston and its sister Triple A KHJK-FM at this week’s NAB in Las Vegas.  KFNC-FM is one of four Cumulus Media stations in the market that went through a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy deal to eliminate its debt and make it more attractive to potential buyers.  The station is still operated by Cumulus Media but Patrick owns more than 75% of the station.  According to Patrick, KFNC-FM boasted $2.4 million in ad sales in 2011.  Patrick tells the paper, “The staff is aware of what is happening, and the former owner has every right to bid and buy the stations back.  I’ve had inquiries from five or six people and I think there will be real interest.”

Dave Graveline in Croatia.  That’s “Into Tomorrow” talk host Dave Graveline (l) and producer Rob Almanza (r) standing on the (usually) sunny Adriatic coastline of Croatia.  Graveline and Almanza are there producing the weekend consumer electronics show while Graveline serves as moderator of the Global Press Conference for IFA – that’s the big Consumer Electronics & Appliance show that he broadcasts from in Berlin every September.

Friday, April 13, 2012

| April 13, 2012

Hubbard’s WTOP Retains Top Biller Status; Clear Channel’s News/Talk KFI, Los Angeles Jumps to #3.  For the second year in a row, Hubbard Broadcasting’s Washington, DC news juggernaut WTOP grabs the top biller title with $64 million billed in 2011.  According to BIA/Kelsey’s 2011 estimates, all news was a big money maker and CBS Radio had a number of winning horses in the race.  Its WBBM, Chicago came in at #4 billing $48 million and WCBS, New York followed at #5 taking in $47.5 million.  CBS’ WINS, New York was #8 with $42 million.  While Chicago market WBBM topped each of the New York-market all-newsers, it’s pretty impressive that CBS Radio billed $89.5 million between all-newsers WCBS and WINS.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s ratings and revenue news/talk giant KFI, Los Angeles was the only talk station to make the top 10, showing off the power of its high-cuming talk personalities – especially AM drive host Bill Handel and PM drive duo John & Ken – coming in at #3 billing $48.1 million (up from the #4 spot in 2010).  And sports talk cracked the top 10 as CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York rounded out the list at #10 billing $40.5 million.

A View Behind the Scenes at #1 Biller WTOP, Washington.  TALKERS TV recently visited the studios at Hubbard Broadcasting’s Washington, DC news operation WTOP.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison visits with WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo and news director Mitchell Miller as they show off the very high-tech, multi-platform and extremely well-staffed news operation (a whopping 120 employees) in the Nation’s Capital.  View the video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.

Court Strikes Down Ban on Political Ads on Public Broadcasting Outlets.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has iced the ban on political and issues ads that could lead to a ton of such fare hitting the airwaves of pubcasters as the November presidential election approaches.  A 2-1 vote of the three-judge panel upholds the ban on advertisements for goods and services from for-profit companies.  But the decision is rocking the world of pubcasters – many of whom are not commenting publicly at this juncture – because they fear they will be, to a degree, pulled into the world of commercial broadcasters as a result of this decision.  But the Court’s ruling was based on free speech grounds.  Judge Carlos Bea wrote for the main opinion stating that the FCC ban was overly broad and there’s no evidence the educational nature of public broadcasting would be affected, “Public issue and political speech in particular is at the very core of the First Amendment’s protection.  Public issue and political advertisements pose no threat of ‘commercialization.’  By definition, such advertisements do not encourage viewers to buy commercial goods and services.  A ban on such advertising therefore cannot be narrowly tailored to serve the interest of preventing the ‘commercialization’ of broadcasting.”  Dissenting Judge Richard Paez wrote, “For almost 60 years, commercial public broadcasters have been effectively insulated from the lure of paid advertising.  The court’s judgment will disrupt this policy and could jeopardize the future of public broadcasting.  I am not persuaded that the First Amendment mandates such an outcome.”

WOR Radio Network to Syndicate “Rasmussen Report” Feature. The vignette will be available three times daily and feature reports by the nationally known “political pulse-taker” Scott Rasmussen.  WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “Scott has fast become the go-to guest for many of our programs when we want to let our listeners know where the country stands on the important headlines.  We are thrilled to now take our relationship with him to this next level and share his fantastic radio content with radio stations across the country.”  The WOR Radio Network makes the reports available to affiliates beginning Monday, April 16.

Tribune’s WGN Inks Deal for Studio Naming Rights with Allstate.  Beginning May 1, WGN, Chicago’s showcase studio on Michigan Avenue will be unveiled as the Allstate Showcase Studio.  WGN VP/general manager Tom Langmyer says, “We are proud of the partnership we have developed with Allstate over the years through programs like the community-driven WGN Radio Hometown Voices Tour and are pleased to extend that partnership to the Showcase Studio.  The Showcase Studio has been a mainstay on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue for over 25 years and home to many legendary broadcasters.  We are excited to announce this next chapter in WGN’s history with such a valued partner.”  The sponsorship includes an interior studio wrap featuring WGN Radio and Allstate graphics and on-air naming recognition.

CBS Radio’s KYW, Philadelphia Awards Scholarship Money to “Newstudies” Student.  CBS Radio’s KYW, Philadelphia has been offering the six-week student reporter program called “Newstudies” to high school juniors and seniors for more than 45 years.  This year, 171 local students graduated from the program and KYW selected Upper Moreland High School student Gavin Lichtenstein to receive the Richard Monetti Scholarship award of $2,000 for being the student in the program demonstrating the most potential and enthusiasm.  The scholarship was named after 1986 Newstudies graduate Richard Monetti who perished on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  CBS Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “KYW Newsradio is proud to continue the tradition of introducing high school students to the broadcast industry.  It’s also nice to be able to award those that did exceptionally well and keep the memory of a former Newstudies graduate alive.”

WSBT, South Bend Adds FM Translator at 96.1.  Schurz Communications’ news/talk WSBT, South Bend, Indiana acquired the FM translator from Christian station WFRN-FM last year for $135,000.  Now, according to the South Bend Tribune, WSBT will add to what program director Bob Montgomery calls “the strongest signal in the market” – AM 960.  Montgomery also tells the paper the station is continuing to focus on news and information for the Michiana market.  “We’re still doing increased news in our morning show – trying an all-news approach.  We thought since that’s why people listen to news/talk during their morning drive, we would concentrate on that.”

Weekend Home Show “The Money Pit” Hits 300-Affiliate Mark.  The nationally syndicated home improvement show “The Money Pit” – co-hosted by Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete – announces it has added more than 20 new affiliate stations during the first quarter of 2012 to bring its affiliate roster to 300.  The program will celebrate its success in conjunction with a special Earth Day broadcast from New York City on Friday, April 20 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm from the “Crossroads of the World” in New York’s Times Square.  Tom Kraeutler states, “I am so grateful to our team for the hard work that got us to this point, to our loyal affiliate stations for making our content available to millions of people across the country and to our always growing list of top sponsors that have made this possible.”

Rick Santorum’s Suspension of His Presidential Campaign Is Top News/Talk Story for the Week of April 9-13.  The news of Rick Santorum’s exit from the GOP primary race – effectively giving the nomination to Mitt Romney – was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week and landed at #1 on the Talkers TenTM.  Following at #2 was the 2012 presidential campaign in general.  At #3 was George Zimmerman’s being charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin followed by recent reports of weak U.S. job growth and the stock market’s reaction at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America during the week, and is based upon ongoing research from TALKERS and is published each Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” adds KOA, Denver…..Genesis Communications Network’s Dr. Daliah Wachs program picks  up WRJM-AM/FM, Charleston, Illinois and WHOW-AM/FM, Bloomington/Decatur, Illinois.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

| April 12, 2012

Cox Media Group Goes Hot Talk in Tampa on “The Bone.”  The rock music stops on Cox Media Group’s WHPT-FM, Tampa – The Bone – on Monday, April 23 as the company builds a hot talk station around morning drive star Bubba the Love Sponge and PM drive personality Cowhead.  Cox will add the DirecTV-produced Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange show for late nights and is considering programs for middays and early evenings.  Cox Tampa VP/market manager Keith Lawless says, “‘The Bone’ dominates the morning and afternoon drive talk shows and has room to grow in the midday and evening classic rock shows.  Evolving this station into an all-talk station is an obvious move.  Bubba plays no music and is clearly the market’s leader in mornings.  Filling in the other dayparts with compelling talk and removing all music from the already successful Cowhead show will make ‘The Bone’ dominant with men and adults all day long.”

KNBR, San Francisco Parts Company with Ralph Barbieri After 28 Years.  Ralph Barbieri – the Razor – has been a part of sports talk on KNBR, San Francisco since 1984 but he’s been let go by Cumulus Media as the result of a “management decision,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.  Barbieri’s co-host Tom Tolbert – Mr. T – continues as solo host of the PM drive show.  Barbieri wrote for Sport magazine before joining KNBR in 1984 and became one of the pillars upon which KNBR was built.  Last fall, Barbieri revealed to the San Francisco Chronicle that he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2005 and that he disclosed the diagnosis to Cumulus as the two sides began negotiating a contract renewal.  Barbieri said he believed it was only fair to Cumulus.  He also reported that CEO Lew Dickey told him the company wanted him back.  Barbieri wrote to the Mercury News stating: “…All I can say is that I’m weighing my options, which are considerable.  I’ll have more to say later on.  For now, I just want to say that I’ve seen a couple of articles that have characterized this as an amicable parting.  Well, that’s not exactly the case.  I came to work (Tuesday) morning with no idea that anything of this nature was afoot, especially since my contract does not expire until November 1.  I was immediately told that the general manager wanted to see me.  I went to his office and the program director was there as well.  I was told that I was being terminated and that April 10, was to be my last day at KNBR.”

All-News WBBM Top Biller in Chicago in 2011.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports data from BIA/Kelsey that indicates all-news has been good for CBS Radio in the Windy City.  The most recent quarterly “Investing in Radio Market Report” from BIA/Kelsey ranks the top five radio billers in Chicago and ranks WBBM – with its recent FM simulcast addition – at the top with $48 million in billing in 2011 (an increase from $42.5 million in 2010).  Hubbard Broadcasting’s AC WTMX-FM is in second place followed by Tribune’s news/talk WGN in third ($35.5 million).  Univision’s Regional Mexican WOJO-FM comes in fourth and CBS Radio’s country WUSN-FM is in fifth place.

Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Jumps on Board iHeartRadio.  Stating that the new platform provides listeners with greater access to WGN, station VP/general manager Tom Langmyer announces Tribune Company’s news/talk WGN will be heard on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio digital platform.  “This additional platform provides even greater access to WGN, and exposes new listeners to one of America’s premier personality-based talk, news and sports stations.”  Clear Channel Digital president Brian LeKamp says, “Adding a station like WGN to iHeartRadio further delivers on our mission to be wherever our listeners are with the products and services they expect, expanding our ability to offer our users an even more diverse and exciting listening experience.  As one of the top stations in Chicago, WGN features news, information, entertainment and sports and is an excellent addition to our platform.”

Jorge Sedano Leaves Post as AM Drive Host at WAXY, Miami.  South Florida sports talk host Jorge Sedano tweets to his fans that he’s left Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WAXY, Miami’s morning drive show:  “After four great yrs at 790 THE TICKET I’ve decided 2 move on effective immediately.  W/ all the new projects I’m working on its just too hard 2 do it all.  I want to thank all wonderful people I worked with in my time there.  Also, thank you the audience for some great radio.  Without you guys, I wouldn’t be in this great position to make this move.  I’m looking forward to the next chapter & hoping u all come along.  Thanks again for all your support.  You have no idea what it means to me. All the best. Love JORGE.”  Chatter in the sports talk world is that Sedano, who has previously worked at Fox Sports Radio Network, is developing a show to air on the new CBS Sports Network – possibly as a lead in to Jim Rome’s new show on the cable channel.  For now, Brandon Guzio is hosting the morning show at WAXY.

Salem Communications Partners with TuneIn.  Camarillo, California-based Salem Communications is the latest broadcaster to partner with internet audio company TuneIn to broadcast its stations via the web.  Salem makes its almost 100 radio properties available to listeners everywhere via the service.  Salem Radio president David Santrella says in a statement, “Through our partnership with TuneIn, we have expanded the number of access points to our content.  We have made it easier for our current listeners to access our programming from wherever they are and have opened up our broadcasts to new audiences.  Overnight we’ve expanded our footprint in digital and have gained a suite of first-of-their-kind analysis tools from TuneIn that help us further tailor programming to our listeners everywhere.”

Arbitron CFO Richard Surratt to Leave the Company.  A press release from Arbitron headquarters in Columbia, Maryland says Richard Surratt is leaving his role at the ratings giant for personal reasons and that EVP/COO Sean Creamer will take over the CFO role when Surratt’s exit takes place in May.  Meanwhile, the company has hired Crist Kolder Associates to search for a new CFO.

2012 Presidential Race, Charges Filed Against George Zimmerman, Obama Care Status, Tepid U.S. Jobs Creation and European Economic Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/11).  Mitt Romney’s apparent capturing of the GOP nomination and the 2012 presidential campaign, second degree murder charges filed against George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, the legal status of President Obama’s Patient Accessibility and Affordable Care Act, meager job growth in the U.S. and economic tensions in the Euro zone were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Bonneville Seattle Gets Behind Fisher House Campaign.  Bonneville Seattle – which includes news/talk KIRO-FM, talk KTTH, and sports talk KIRO – is supporting a campaign to upgrade the Fisher House at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington.  The current house – which provides lodging for the families of American service personnel recovering from treatment after being wounded in the line of duty —  has been in use since 1992 and there is a need for a larger facility.  Bonneville VP/market manager Carl Gardner states, “Healing our wounded warriors and caring for their families is a mission all of us in the Pacific Northwest want to join.  At Bonneville, we’re excited to pull together our community of friends and bring this new Fisher House to life, to give something back to the soldiers and their families who have given us so much over these past ten years.”  Pictured here are Bonneville Seattle staffers and military personnel from the base.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

| April 11, 2012

CBS Radio’s WPHT Touts New “Live and Local” Lineup.  With WYD Media talk show host Michael Smerconish soon to air live on his flagship station WPHT, Philadelphia as he replaces Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh, CBS Radio is promoting its dedication to “live and local” talk radio on the Philly news/talker.  Philadelphia market manager Marc Rayfield states, “We pride ourselves on being local and serving Philadelphians first.  Having Michael broadcast live is another example of our commitment to the audience.  The November election is one of the most important ever and WPHT will continue to offer a local platform no matter what side of the aisle you sit on.”  WPHT’s morning show (for years hosted by Smerconish) is hosted by Chris Stigall, Dom Giordano is late morning talent, Smerconish takes over 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, Gary R’nel hosts evenings and the station promises to bring a new live and local PM drive show to the station to replace Smerconish’s delayed broadcast.

BIA/Kelsey Reports Radio’s On-Air Revenue Flat in 2011.  The quarterly “Investing in Radio Market Report” from BIA/Kelsey indicates revenue from over-the-air radio rose a modest 0.4% over 2010 numbers to $14.1 billion in 2011.  While the revenue for over-the-air was basically flat, digital revenue rose 15.1% to reach $439 million.  In the report, BIA/Kelsey predicts online revenue will continue to grow at a fast pace to $505 million in 2012 and to $767 million in 2016.  Political spending in 2012 is also expected to boost total radio revenue by as much as 3.5% over 2011 figures.  BIA/Kelsey VP and chief economist Mark Fratrik says, “Although radio’s revenue ascent has been slow since its bottoming in 2009, the industry always picks up steam in an election year and is continuing to prove itself as a valuable local advertising medium, particularly as the integration between over-the-air and online improves.  News stations, in particular, continue to be leaders in many markets by creating comprehensive over-the-air and digital portfolios of ad products and formats to drive deeper advertiser engagement and prove their value in the ad buying mix.”

All-News WCBS Tops New York Revenue Pile for Third Straight Year.  Although revenue was actually down from year-to-year – billing dropped from $49 million in 2010 to $47.5 million – all-news WCBS was still the top biller in the Big Apple, according to Crain’s New York Business.  The story includes analysis of the BIA/Kelsey report in the story above.  The top five revenue-generating stations in New York for 2011 were:  WCBS, CHR WHTZ-FM, lite rock WLTW-FM, all-news WINS, and sports talk WFAN.

Sports Talk Host Dan Sileo Takes Over PM Drive at WQAM, Miami.  Former WDAE, Tampa talk show host Dan Sileo is joining Beasley Broadcasting’s sports talk WQAM, Miami to replace Sid Rosenberg as host of the PM drive show.  Sileo exited Clear Channel Media and Entertianment’s WDAE several weeks ago after a number of years with the station.  Beasley Broadcasting VP/market manager Joe Bell tells TALKERS, “I have followed Dan’s career for years and am very excited about his joining our team!  Dan has a passion for sports, has demonstrated ratings success and at heart is a “Miami guy” having played on two UM National Championship football teams.

Production Talent Changes at Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM.”  With longtime production voice Ross Mitchell leaving the show to pursue other interests, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” announces Dick Ervasti and Charles Thomas join the program.  The network states, “Dick Ervasti now lends his voice to the program’s introductions, while Charles Thomas voices on-air announcements and promos, as well as “Somewhere in Time with Art Bell.”  Based in Minneapolis, Ervasti is a veteran voice actor with credits ranging from “America’s Most Wanted” and the blockbuster film “Transformers,” to The History Channel and the CBS hit drama “NCIS.”  Thomas also has a wide range of credits, which include commercials for Samsung, Chevy Silverado, The Home Depot, the Syfy original series “Warehouse 13” and Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Talk Radio Pioneer Bruce Williams Returns to Biz Via Podcast.  Iconic talk radio star Bruce Williams, who left his regularly aired radio show several years ago, is returning to the business with new podcasts available three days per week.  The podcasts are being produced from calls to Williams during other times.  Fans with questions for Williams are being asked to call during specific times when Williams will be able to record their conversations – today from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm ET, for example.  An e-mail blast from his office states, “Remember, this Wednesday April 11 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm ET, Bruce will be taking calls off the air which will air next Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Tuesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 19 of next week he will be live taking calls from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET.  For now this will be the weekly schedule. Think of all those questions you wanted to ask him for the last two years and were not able to and give him a call, even if it’s to just welcome him back.  The call in number is 855-85-CALL TAE (855-852-2558).  The show will also be on iTunes with the past seven shows available.  All shows will be available at www.taeradio.com.

WGOW-FM, Chattanooga Names Brian Joyce Midday Host.  Brian Joyce most recently worked at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston hosting a weekend talk program.  His bio lists his varied work experience including: truck driver, bartender and stand-up comic, among others.  Joyce tells the local Nooga.com that he considers himself part of the “radical center.”  “This is the new movement, especially in my head, for politics.  There will be issues where I will fall far to the left or far to the right.  And maybe people won’t understand it at first.  I don’t think media addresses this currently.” WGOW-FM news director Kevin West says Joyce’s hiring sends a signal about how they’d like the station to sound, “I want it to be a place where it is not predetermined what you’re going to get with any issue.  I think Brian is going to surprise a lot of people.”  Joyce’s program airs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on the Cumulus Media news/talk outlet.

“The Wall Street Journal This Morning” Airs in Denver.  The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s morning drive – or early morning drive in Mountain Time – program “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” clears large market KOA, Denver.  Station operations director Greg Foster states, “‘The Wall Street Journal This Morning’ helps reinforce 850 KOA’s news image during the early ‘executive drive time’ hours.  More than just money news – ‘The Wall Street Journal This Morning’ is a perfect lead-in to our ‘Colorado’s Morning News.’”

NBC May Be Preparing to Give Matt Lauer More Air Time.  News of “Today” show star Matt Lauer’s contract extension with NBC to remain with the program for many more years broke over the weekend.  Now, it’s being reported that NBC is considering expanding the Lauer franchise – possibly by developing the “Today’s Professionals” segment in which Lauer bats around the hot topics of the day with talent such as Star Jones, Donny Deutsch and Dr. Nancy Snyderman – into either a fifth hour of “Today” or another show altogether.  TVGuide reports the details are not set in stone but it also reports Lauer’s new deal with NBC gives him a share in the ownership of any new show outside of “Today.”

Santorum Drops Out of GOP Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Facebook Buys Instagram, North Korean Rocket Test, Trayvon Martin Case and Ozzie Guillen’s Castro Flap Among Top Stories on News/Talk Radio Yesterday (4/10).  Rick Santorum’s suspension of his campaign for the GOP nomination and the larger 2012 presidential race, Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram, North Korea’s new rocket test, the Trayvon Martin case and Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen’s Castro comments were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

| April 10, 2012

Current TV Fires Back at Keith Olbermann.  Fledgling network Current TV is countersuing former “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann in the wake of his messy departure from the operation.  Entertainment Weekly reports the Al Gore-founded network is calling Olbermann’s $70 million suit against the network “frivolous” and “riddled with falsehoods and distortions.”  “Current seeks a determination that it is no longer obligated to pay Mr. Olbermann who, having already been paid handsomely for showing up sporadically and utterly failing to keep his end of the bargain, now seeks to be paid tens of millions more for not working at all.”  The complaint also refers to Olbermann’s April 3 appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” during which he stated the situation was “my fault” and admitted “I screwed up.”  Current TV filed its complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Rumor Confirmed: Limbaugh to Leave WPHT, Philadelphia; Michael Smerconish to Air Live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.  Yesterday (4/9) TALKERS reported the rumor that Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh would leave longtime affiliate WPHT and be replaced by WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish live in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart.  CBS Radio is confirming that switch will take place with Premiere Networks saying Limbaugh will appear elsewhere in the market, though neither source is giving specifics on when the changes will take place.  Absent another major signal talk outlet in Philly, speculation is that Merlin Media will take new acquisition WKDN-FM, Philadelphia (licensed to Camden, New Jersey) news/talk in the near future and put Limbaugh on the station.  Meanwhile, Michael Smerconish returns to a live broadcast (he’s currently being delayed to PM drive) on WPHT, the station where he hosted a very successful AM drive program for many years.

WSCR, Chicago’s Dan McNeil Clears Air with Listeners About Absence.  Chicago sports talk host Dan McNeil told his listeners his absence from CBS Radio’s WSCR for the past six weeks was due to what he could best describe as a nervous breakdown that resulted from his ceasing to take the mood stabilizer Lamictal.  McNeil says after he stopped taking the drug he became depressed and sought treatment for depression and substance abuse.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports McNeil was open and honest with his listeners saying, “I know with you listeners I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust, as I’m doing with the most important people in my family.  And I hope you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt and give me a chance to re-earn that trust.”  McNeil co-hosts the midday show at WSCR alongside Matt Spiegel.

Sid Rosenberg to Be Off WQAM, Miami This Week.  After an arrest on Thursday of last week on DUI and driving with a suspended license charges, WQAM, Miami talk host Sid Rosenberg was on the air last Friday.  But he was not hosting his show yesterday and the Miami Sun-Sentinel reports WQAM program director Lee Feldman stating he’ll be off the air all week.  It’s unclear what Rosenberg’s status with the station is – whether he’s been suspended or is out for medical reasons – but he is not expected to return to the station this week.

CRN Digital Talk Radio Expands into the Hawkeye State.  Sunland, California-based CRN Digital Talk Radio announces it has struck a deal with Iowa Network Services to bring its six audio HD channels to cable subscribers in the state.  CRN chief executive officer and founder Michael Horn states, “We are pleased to join with Iowa Network Services and provide their customers with our top-rated and highly entertaining talk radio programming.”  Iowa Network Services is based in Des Moines and serves 57 independent telecommunications firms providing internet, data, telephone and cable television service throughout Iowa.  INS video content manager Sarah Roeder says, “INS is excited to bring CRN Digital Talk Radio to Iowa.  The diverse programming will add value to our existing content.”  CRN Digital Talk Radio states it offers more than 100 original shows along with a stellar roster of top syndicated programs hosted by radio veterans such as Lou Dobbs, Barry Farber, Dennis Prager, Cindy Laverty, Laura Ingraham, Mancow, Michael Savage and Doug Stephan among others.  “Iowa Network Services subscribers will also enjoy the popular Robert Conrad show, featuring the TV legend, as well as the Larry Manetti show, starring the former ‘Magnum P.I.’ star.”

KNST, Tucson Hosts Arizona Congressional Race Debate.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KNST, Tucson is hosting a debate among the four Republican candidates vying for the Congressional seat vacated by former Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords earlier this year.  KNST morning host Garret Lewis will moderate the debate along with National Republican Committee member Bruce Ash.  Candidates Frank Antenori, Jesse Kelly, Martha McSally and Dave Sitton will face off in the April 17 primary to determine who will battle Democrat Ron Barber and Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis in the June 12 special election.  The debate will take place Thursday evening at the Quail Creek Country Club and will be broadcast live on KNST and 97.1 FM.

Hubbard Broadcasting’s WFED, Washington Wins “Headliner Award” for Website.  Hubbard Broadcasting’s Federal News Radio announces it has been honored with a 2012 National Headliner award for a second place win in the category of Radio-Affiliated Website.  Federal News Radio web manager Julia Ziegler states, “What makes FederalNewsRadio.com so successful is the fact that everyone on our staff contributes to the web product – from our reporters and web staff, to our producers and anchors.  Our most innovative web projects always come from staff members bringing their individual skills, knowledge and ideas together.”  WFED, Washington program director Lisa Wolfe says, “We offer a lot of interactivity with our surveys, multi-media features, radio interviews on demand, photo slide-shows and videos.  We have improved the graphic experience with some excellent data visualization.  The goal is to push our capabilities to be in the vanguard of digital journalism.”

KQTH-FM, Tucson Morning Host Jon Justice Hospitalized for Heart SurgeryJon Justice hosts the morning drive show at Journal Broadcasting’s news/talk KQTH-FM, Tucson.  He suffered a heart attack in 2009 and explains via the station’s video blog (pictured here) from the ICU that doctors will operate on him to fix a prior valve replacement that needs repair.  Justice says doctors expect him to recover quickly and he hopes to be home from the hospital by the weekend.

Jerry Doyle Live on the Strip.  That’s Talk Radio Network star Jerry Doyle broadcasting live from the Suncoast Hotel and Casino on April 6.  Doyle and flagship station KDWN, Las Vegas co-produced the appearance which will become a monthly live broadcast at which Doyle’s fans can take part in what he calls “radio magic.”  After Doyle’s three-hour broadcast, he took questions from fans and talked about “the things they won’t let me talk about on the radio.”

 

GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Tepid Jobs Report/Stock Market Activity, Status of Obama Care, Syrian Violence and Mike Wallace Passes Away Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/9).  The Republican primary race and the 2012 presidential campaign; the falling Dow on the heels of a weak jobs report; the Supreme Court’s Obama Care hearing and analysis of the law’s impact on the nation’s deficit; an increase in Syrian violence; and the death of journalist Mike Wallace were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame.  That’s Bob Kevoian of the nationally syndicated Premiere Networks Bob & Tom show at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Opening Day leading the fans in the traditional 7th inning stretch singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  Bob & Tom produced a live remote broadcast from the Whiskey Bar in downtown Cincinnati on Opening Day.  Members of the Bob & Tom crew, including Tom Griswold and Kristi Lee, participated in the Opening Day parade in Cincinnati.  Griswold and Lee rode in affiliate Fox 92.5’s car in the parade.

Monday, April 9, 2012

| April 9, 2012

Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee Debuts Today.  The number of affiliates set to air the Mike Huckabee show is pegged at somewhere between 175 and 200.  The eager anticipation of Huckabee’s debut would not be so intense were it not for the facts that the show airs live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET – the same time period as Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh – and that the latter is recovering from the backlash and intense consumer media scrutiny that followed the Sandra Fluke controversy.  Regardless, the industry will certainly be watching how Huckabee’s Cumulus Media Networks program takes off but the consumer media appears to be salivating at the notion that Limbaugh has “competition.”  The fact, of course, is that every radio show has competition of one sort or another and Limbaugh has faced high-profile talent in his daypart in the past – most notably from Fox News Channel superstar Bill O’Reilly for a number of years.  Mike Huckabee will succeed if he hosts a compelling program that grabs listeners.  Broadcasters understand that will happen or not independent of what other talk show hosts are doing or whether they are facing a “crisis.”  As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told Politico in a piece published over the weekend, “This isn’t an election, it’s an industry.  There’s room for both, just like there’s room for Letterman and Leno.  Yes, every competitor hurts Limbaugh.  But Huckabee is basically just another competitor.  If he takes a little away from Limbaugh, fine.  But he also has the potential to expand the talk radio audience.”

Rumors of Major Syndication Changes in Philadelphia and New York; Smerconish to Bump Limbaugh from WPHT.  And possibly more than that…but first things first.  A very hot rumor out of Philadelphia has WYD Media-produced Michael Smerconish’s nationally syndicated program airing live 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on CBS Radio’s news/talk WPHT– where Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh does right now.  Smerconish is currently delayed to PM drive on WPHT.  Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor wrote about the other part of this rumor in his morning blast on 4/6: Merlin Media may be planning to go talk and not all-news on WKDN-FM, Philadelphia  – its new property which is still airing Christian programming from prior owner Family Stations.  With former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host (and Philly native) Al Gardner hired to program and possibly host mornings at WKDN-FM and Rush Limbaugh possibly soon-to-be-available (plus Premiere’s Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck available, as Tom Taylor points out), a move to talk would be much less personnel intensive and would enjoy the ability to grab three of the biggest news/talk personalities in the business.  But there’s more…other chatter coming out of New York is that Merlin Media has been talking to Premiere Networks about bringing Rush Limbaugh to its all-newser FM News 101.9 (WEMP-FM) if Cumulus Media decides to put new national syndication rollout Mike Huckabee on WABC in Limbaugh’s place.  Then one would have to ask the question, “Would Merlin do the same with WWWN-FM, Chicago if Cumulus bumped Limbaugh in exchange for Huckabee on its news/talker WLS?”  Stay tuned.

KFAQ, Tulsa Talk Host Pat Campbell Responds to Deadly Shootings.  KFAQ, Tulsa morning drive talk host Pat Campbell tells TALKERS his program responded very quickly to a series of shootings in the city in which five citizens – all African American – were shot and three died.  Campbell says he hosted a special Saturday noontime edition of his program to address the crimes and seek the public’s assistance in capturing suspects.  He tells TALKERS,I had the mayor in the studio urging calm but more importantly, cooperation with the police.  We urged listeners that might have any information to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline and the good news is that a tip came in around 4:00 pm that led to the arrest of the suspects early Sunday morning. This is an example of talk radio at its best!  Rather than becoming a wedge like we’ve seen in the Trayvon Martin case, 1170 KFAQ brought the community together and got the bad guys off the street.”

WQAM, Miami Standing By Sports Talk Host Sid Rosenberg After DUI Arrest Last Week.  WQAM, Miami afternoon sports talk host Sid Rosenberg was back on the air on Friday after spending most of Thursday in jail following an early morning arrest on DUI and driving on a suspended license charges.  Rosenberg, who has spoken publicly about past substance abuse issues and has talked of having twice been to rehab, is being supported by his superiors at the Beasley sports talk outlet.  The Miami Herald reports WQAM program director Lee Feldman stating, for now, Rosenberg is not being suspended.  WQAM general manager Joe Bell declined to comment to the paper.

Matt Lauer to Remain with NBC’s “Today.”  The months of speculation about the future of television talk host Matt Lauer have come to an end as NBC announced Lauer has signed a multi-year contract to remain with the network’s morning news magazine program.  The buzz in the industry included rumors Lauer would rejoin Katie Couric at rival ABC.  Though Couric is set to begin a new chapter in her career at ABC with her own daytime talk show, ABC’s “Good Morning America” has been closing the ratings gap between it and “Today.”  On Lauer’s signing, NBC News president Steve Capus tells The New York Times, “Matt is the franchise, and our franchise player has decided to keep leading our team.”  The Times story notes that “Today” has been in first place in the morning news show ratings for the past 16 years.

Fox News Channel Brings Santita Jackson Aboard as Contributor.  The daughter of Rev. Jesse Jackson left Midway Broadcasting’s WVON, Chicago due to budget cuts last fall.  Now, Santita Jackson is named a contributor for Fox News Channel.  Santita Jackson is also producer of Jesse Jackson’s weekly Premiere Networks-syndicated talk show “Keep Hope Alive.”

Raubin Pierce Leaves On-Air Position with WIBW, Topeka for Management Post at Manhattan Broadcasting.  Raubin Pierce co-hosted the “On the Other Hand” talk show with co-host Megan Mosack at Morris Communications’ WIBW, Topeka and served as the company’s director of information technology.  He’s left those duties to become operations director and head of new media at Manhattan Broadcasting in Manhattan, Kansas.  The company operates four stations in the Manhattan market including news/talk KMAN.  Pierce tells the Topeka Capital-Journal, “This was just a fantastic opportunity.  There was just no way that I couldn’t do this.”

Longtime South Florida Broadcaster Patricia Anderson Dies from Cancer at 54.  Trish Anderson was well known on South Florida radio.  During her career she worked as a producer, voice-over talent, sports reporter and traffic reporter at stations including WINZ and WIOD, Miami.  Anderson battled breast and bone cancer.  She passed away on March 31.

Johnny B at Wrigley Field.  That’s WGN, Chicago morning drive host Jonathon Brandmeier (center with sunglasses) surrounded by the Chicago band The Fold at the Captain Morgan club at Wrigley Field on Opening Day.  The Fold won the station’s contest to write an original song celebrating the Chicago Cubs.  The winning song – “Let’s Go Cubbies” – is being played at the beginning of each Cubs game broadcast on WGN this season.  The band was with Brandmeier on Opening Day to perform the song live at WGN’s pre-game broadcast and live remote.

Friday, April 6, 2012

| April 6, 2012

“Olbermann, You Blew it!”  Those are the word of TALKERS columnist Mona “The Lip” Lipschitz as she castigates former Current TV talent Keith Olbermann for his messy exit from Current and his mega-million dollar suit against the fledgling network.  Lipschitz calls Olbermann out stating, “At least Al Gore is attempting to widen the commercial media platform available to progressive talkers in this country, not to mention sign you to a big fat friggin’ contract with enough dough that could keep countless of the families you claim to be so concerned about under their roofs and fed through this economic and political crisis.”  Read more of Lipschitz’s searing analysis of the Olbermann-Current blow-up here.

Dallas Talk Radio Institution Mark Davis at Contract Loggerheads with Cumulus Media.  WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas talk radio host Mark Davis writes on his blog that his status with the Cumulus Media-owned news/talk station is “not departure, but impasse.”  He confirms his contract with the station has expired and he has been off the air all this week – his contract expired last Friday – as a result of his and the company’s inability to come to terms on a new deal.  Cumulus Media is not responding to requests for comment.  Davis hosts the late morning program between AM drive and Rush Limbaugh’s midday show.  Cumulus operates both WBAP-AM/FM and news/talk KLIF in the market and industry watchers are wondering how the debut of Cumulus Media NetworksMike Huckabee program will affect the programming on the stations.  One would assume Cumulus wants to see Huckabee’s show in a major market like Dallas although WBAP carries Limbaugh – aired live at the same time as the new Huckabee show – and it’s not clear how much time is left on the Premiere Networks program’s contract with WBAP.  Mark Davis, with WBAP since 1994, also writes a weekly column for the Dallas Morning News and appears on local TV on “Inside Texas Politics” on WFAA-TV and KDFW-TV.

Les Brown Exits KFWB, Los Angeles.  Motivational speaker Les Brown has exited his role with KFWB, Los Angeles after a little more than a year on the air.  Program director Andy Ludlum confirms his exit to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan.  “Les Brown came to us and said he wanted to leave his KFWB show when his contractual term expired at the end of March.  While Les has enjoyed his role as host of one the nation’s only positive radio shows, he’s been feeling his calling is beyond that of a local radio show host.  He is being asked by number of companies and organizations to re-energize his role as an international motivational speaker and Les has come to the conclusion that is a better route to the national and international stage he has in mind.  There may be more media in his future but he’s thinking national syndication rather than local radio.”  Brown’s program aired from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and the station has extended Dave Ramsey’s show by one hour and is beginning its PM drive news programming an hour earlier to make up the difference.

Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Deals with Controversy as Staffers Sign Governor Walker Recall Petition.  Journal Broadcasting is acting swiftly to quell the controversy over some of its news staffers having signed the petition to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  Journal issued a statement that says: “TODAY’S TMJ4 and Newsradio 620 WTMJ discovered that several members of our staff signed the recall petitions for Governor Walker.  Some of those employees play a role in our news gathering and editorial process.  Several of them also work on-air: One at TODAY’S TMJ4; four at Newsradio 620 WTMJ.  We want you to know that we consider this a serious issue.  We are in the process of dealing with it internally.  Our reputation of being a fair and unbiased news source is of paramount importance to both TODAY’S TMJ4 and Newsradio 620 WTMJ.  We expect anyone involved in the production of news to avoid situations that could compromise our integrity.  We don’t allow news employees to sign nomination papers for candidates, display yard signs or take part in a political campaign.  However, many employees told us that they felt signing the recall petition was not a political act, but instead felt it was similar to casting a vote.  WTMJ does not agree and we want to assure you, our listeners, that we are taking measures to make sure all of our reporting is fair, balanced and to ensure something like this does not happen again.”

Tom Leykis Fans Crash Website as Talk Icon Debuts Internet Program.  Tom Leykis got back behind the microphone for the first time in more than three years after CBS Radio blew up his old home base of KLSX-FM, Los Angeles.  This time Leykis is broadcasting via the internet on his longtime blowmeuptom.com domain and the response from Leykis fans was enough to crash the servers during its debut broadcast on Monday, April 2.  Leykis e-mails the OC Register’s Gary Lycan to report, “It was amazing.  Fortunately, each 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show repeats until the next one airs.  The easiest, fastest solution to listen right away is to go to TuneIn.com and search for ‘Leykis.’”

SiriusXM Signs Multi-Year Deal with Major League Baseball to Broadcast Games.  MLB has had a deal with the original XM Satellite Radio since its inception.  This new contract allows MLB games to be heard via the SiriusXM Internet Radio App, via SiriusXM.com and, for satellite radio listeners who have the XM Satellite service.  Major League Baseball Advanced Media senior vice president Kenny Gersh states, “SiriusXM has been a valuable partner in connecting its subscribers with the tradition of baseball on the radio and this agreement adds an important distribution platform, alongside our own products including Gameday Audio and At Bat, for fans to enjoy listening to the radio broadcasts of Major League Baseball games via the internet.”

ESPN’s Mike & Mike to Broadcast from World Champion St. Louis Cardinals’ Home Opener.  ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic will broadcast the national radio and cable TV simulcast of their morning drive program live from Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Friday, April 13.  Local affiliate, Hubbard Broadcasting’s WXOS-FM, St Louis – 101 ESPN – will be holding a listener contest in conjunction with the special “Mike & Mike” broadcast so that local fans can be a part of the television and radio broadcast.  This intimate broadcast is not open to the public; however, five lucky 101 ESPN listeners can win a pair of VIP passes to attend this event by entering to win at the station’s website.

WZIM-FM, Bloomington, Illinois Flips to Sports.  Zimmer/Great Plains Media drops classic hits on WZIM-FM (licensed to Lexington, Illinois) and uses programming from Fox Sports Radio Network plus Premiere NetworksJim Rome.  That station also will air Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox baseball and plans to carry Indianapolis Colts football.  Robert Rees is serving as program director for the station.

“Afternoon Constitutional” Show Features Local GOP Debate Series.  The WCHV, Charlottesville, Virginia-based “Afternoon Constitutional” program – hosted by Joe Thomas and syndicated regionally – is airing weekly shows on Mondays beginning April 9 through that state’s GOP primary in June featuring candidates for U.S. Senate.  Thomas tells TALKERS magazine, the show is called “4 Your Approval” and the four candidates for the Senate nomination (former Governor and Senator George Allen, former TEA Party chair Jamie Radtke, General Assembly Delegate Bob Marshall and former radio show host and bishop E.W. Jackson) will answer a four-question gauntlet from himself, co-host Nikki Lewis and listener submissions.  Thomas states, “We have a difficult choice but we believe that honest competition will bring forth the best candidate for our listeners.”

GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Campaign Returns to Top of Talkers TenTM Weekly Chart.  The Republican primary race and the greater 2012 presidential campaign were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio during the week of April 2-6, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.  Following at #2 was the Supreme Court’s review of President Obama’s Patient Accessibility and Affordable Care Act.  At #3 was the federal budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan and at #4 was skyrocketing gas prices.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published at Talkers.com every Friday.  View the entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  WBSM, New Bedford, Massachusetts adds Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher show…..Dr. Daliah Wachs gets her daily program added to WFAS-FM, Bronxville, New York…..The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Daily Wrap with Michael Castner” picks up KPUA, Hilo, Hawaii…..WYD Media’s Thom Hartmann joins WGUN, Atlanta…..Ed Schultz is added to Rivers Radio’s WGUN, Atlanta…..Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk” is added to the program lineup at WZFG, Fargo; KEUN, Eunice, Louisiana; and KMAM/KMOE-FM, Butler, Missouri.

WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Prepares to Celebrate 90th Anniversary on April 10.  If you think you’ve been reading about a lot of 90th anniversaries here at TALKERS lately, it’s not your imagination.  The government handed out a lot of radio licenses in 1922 when the popular new commercial medium was really taking off.  Greater Media’s WBT signed on April 10, 1922 from its original studio location in a chicken coop behind the Charlotte Country Club.  The station has claimed to be the second commercial station in the country and the first in the Southeast.  The accompanying photo seen here is one of the station’s first control boards.  There is a cool video presentation on the history of WBT at the station’s website here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

| April 5, 2012

Dave Ramsey and Daughter Rachel Cruze Present Program to Sold Out L.A. Audience.  Nationally syndicated money talk radio star Dave Ramsey appeared at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, April 3 before a sold-out crowd of 1,200 for affiliate KFWB, Los Angeles.  The subject of the evening was family and money and Ramsey’s daughter Rachel Cruze appeared with him as Ramsey shared his key principles on handling money and navigating family relationships.  Cruze answered the oft-asked question, “What was it like growing up in Dave Ramsey’s house?”  She also discussed how to teach kids life lessons, like the dangers of debt and the value of saving and giving.  The event benefitted Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.  KFWB general manager Valerie Blackburn says, “We are thrilled with the event last night.  It’s always a pleasure working with Dave, and adding his daughter Rachel into the mix just made it that much better.  The audience looked terrific – it was a packed house of multi-generational listeners.  KFWB couldn’t have asked for a more successful evening!”  Pictured here are (from l-r): Howard Freshman, KFWB marketing director; Rosemary Hernandez, general sales manager; Dave Ramsey; Rachel Cruze; Valerie Blackburn, general manager; and Andy Ludlum, program director.

CBS Radio Signs on with TuneIn to Make Spoken-Word Content Available Online.  CBS Radio announces it has inked a non-exclusive agreement with TuneIn to have content from its more than 40 news/talk, sports and all-news stations available via smartphones and the web.  CBS local digital media president Ezra Kucharz states, “We have always believed in the value of great local content, and this agreement validates the demand we know exists for our original programming while at the same time creates a new revenue source for the company.  By forging relationships with premiere distribution services such as TuneIn, CBS Radio will significantly grow its audiences by exposing our content to new listeners.”

Talk Legend Gene Burns Recovering from Stroke.  It’s been no secret that San Francisco talk icon Gene Burns has been off the air at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KKSF.  On Tuesday (4/3), he posted the following on the NewsTalk 910 KKSF website:  “To my listeners and friends in the NewsTalk 910 family.  The past few weeks has brought a great number of changes, and a vast silence.  For the silence, please accept my apologies.  I have been recovering from a stroke, which has affected the speech center of my brain in the form of aphasia.  In this third month of recovery, I am enthusiastic and thankful for the progress I have made, due in no small part to the great amount of help I have received from UCSF, St. Francis, and the Sutter Health care groups. Most days, I have speech therapy and visits from great friends and colleagues.  I would like to wish everybody well, and to say thank you to the NewsTalk910 family for sticking by me.  Many of the NewsTalk 910 line-up of hosts have reached out, including of course Len Tillem, my long time friend and advisor.  A special thank you to my colleagues; to John, Gil, Rosie, Ed, Dr. Bill, James and the rest for stepping up to the plate for me.  Most importantly; thank you to all of you who listen, Tweet, Facebook and tell friends about me, and my program.  Although I do not have a specific date for my return to the air, I listen each day to NewsTalk 910, giving me motivation to re-join the conversation about the issues of the day.”

Dial Global Touts NCAA Final Four Radio Listenership: More Than 20 Million Unique Listeners.  As it did with its coverage of the NFL Conference Championships and the Super Bowl, Dial Global hired Edison Research to study how many Americans heard its coverage of the NCAA Final Four on the 512 radio stations across the country that carried it.  Edison estimates 20.6 million tuned in to hear some portion of the broadcasts on Saturday, March 31 and Monday, April 2.  Dial Global co-president and CEO David Landau says, “We are pleased that our previous research findings still hold true, people desire play-by-play sports on radio in a big way.  Dial Global is proud to connect with fans nationwide through the greatest moments from America’s most popular sporting events.”

Jeff Haley Named CEO at Marketron.  Industry watchers suspected that Jeff Haley had another gig lined up before leaving his position with the Radio Advertising Bureau, making way for Erica Farber to assume leadership of that organization.  Haley will begin his term as president and chief executive officer of Marketron on April 16.  A statement from Marketron says Haley “brings this tremendous experience to Marketron, where he plans to continue the company’s impressive growth since the launch of Mediascape, the media industry’s first open technology platform.  Haley is excited to maintain and grow Marketron’s position as the leader in the space, and continue to provide its customers the standard in business efficiencies to increase revenues.”

Genesis Communications Media Names Bill Bokunic WIXC, Melbourne-Cocoa Beach Market Manager.  Bill Bokunic will have two roles with Florida-based Genesis Communications Media: First, he’ll serve as market manager for 1060 News WIXC, Melbourne-Cocoa Beach; he’ll also serve as director of sales-news business for Genesis’ Orlando radio cluster.  He’ll be handling the planning and marketing for Genesis’ ESPNFLORIDA.com and NEWSTALKFLORIDA.com and its event division which includes a partnership with Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Bokunic states, “I have been looking to relocate back to Central Florida in the media business.  I am grateful for this opportunity to oversee the marketing of the digital publications, events, as well as the radio stations for Genesis in Central Florida.  Genesis is moving rapidly into the multi-platform marketing business and I am thrilled to be a part of this business plan.”

Premiere Networks Promotes Bill Hickey to SVP of Engineering.  Bill Hickey moves up from VP to SVP and Premiere notes he takes on some new duties.  In this new position, Hickey will now be responsible for directing all studio operations and administration, while continuing to oversee engineering and technical operations for Premiere Networks’ studio facilities nationwide, including Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Chicago and Florida.  Hickey will also continue to manage the company’s XDS satellite and internet-based delivery systems, Network Operations Center, and other studio and construction projects, as well as supervise a team of nearly 50 employees.

Canadian Pubcaster to Cut 650 Positions to Deal with $200 Million Shortfall.  The CBC is announcing it plans to eliminate some 650 jobs in order to handle a federal government funding decrease of $115 million over three years combined with improvements in service the public broadcasting corporation has vowed to enact that makes for an approximate $200 million shortfall over three years.  Reports indicate about 450 jobs will be lost this year with the rest to come over the next three years.  Marc-Philippe Laurin is president of the CBC/Radio Canada branch of the Canadian Media Guild which represents most CBC employees outside Quebec.  He tells the Globe and Mail, “Mostly, our members work in news.  It’s what the CBC does most of with the staff it has.  So it’s going to have an impact, but we’re expecting more details on that stuff in the days to come.”

Melody Burns Celebrates Three Years On Air in Albany.  Local business consultant Melody Burns began hosting a brokered program on Paul Vandenburgh’s WGDJ, Albany three years ago.  She quickly transitioned to a full-time paid talent and is, as she describes herself, “the only female conservative” on the air in Albany.  Burns’ initial effort – called “Women IN” – focused on showcasing women in business and current events of interest.  Her first program featured a local female cardiologist.  She enters her fourth year on the radio doing the daily 11:00 am to 12:00 noon conservative talk show as well as a three-hour Saturday program.  Burns tells TALKERS, “The best part of everyday is receiving not just the ‘good job – thanks for the ‘information’ e-mails but the ‘you are a right wing radical’ or ‘you are ignorant trash,’ or ‘you’re a right-wing extremist’ or one of my favorites, ‘you are Savage, Limbaugh and Levin in a skirt!’ e-mails.  I would call Paul Vandenburgh the Yoda of talk radio – at least that’s what he has been to me.”

GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Iran’s Role in Afghan Violence, Muslim Brotherhood’s Station in Egyptian Politics, Paul Ryan Budget, and European Economic Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/4).  The Republican primary race and the 2012 presidential campaign; concerns over Iran’s suspected role in Afghanistan violence; the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s evolving political scene; debate over the Republicans’ Paul Ryan-authored budget; and new worries about Europe’s economic stability were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

KKOB, Albuquerque Celebrates 90 Years On Air Today.  It was April 5, 1922 when the original KOB went on the air from Las Cruces, New Mexico (original studio pictured here).  The station would move to Albuquerque in 1932.  It moved up the dial to its current 770 frequency and boosted its power to 50,000 watts in 1941.  Cumulus Albuquerque operations manager Pat Frisch tells TALKERS the station’s calls changed to KKOB in 1986 when Hubbard sold the station to Citadel.  Hubbard wanted the KOB calls for the TV station that it still owns today.  New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has declared today “770 KKOB Day.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

| April 4, 2012

Cumulus Dallas Goes into Storm Coverage Mode as Twisters Hit Metro Area.  The Dallas cluster of Cumulus Media reacted swiftly to the severe storms and tornadoes that hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area yesterday, led by news/talk sister stations WBAP and KLIF.  Operations manager Tyler Cox tells TALKERS that the stations had a great opportunity to super-serve the community.  “WBAP (820 AM/96.7 FM) and KLIF (570AM) began simulcasting continuous coverage.  Shortly after that, the remaining stations in the Cumulus cluster (sports KTCK 1310 AM, KSCS-FM, KPLX-FM and KLIF-FM) joined with us to create a six-station simulcast reaching countless numbers of listeners with life-saving information.”  Cox says all six went into non-stop, commercial-free weather coverage with the news/talk stations’ reporters and listeners providing on-the-scene information all across North Texas.  Preliminary reports indicate no fewer than 12 tornadoes formed in the region and, although there is widespread destruction, there are no fatalities confirmed at this time.

KFI, Los Angeles Adds New Weekend Shows; Adds Diversity to Lineup.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles is adding a two-hour early evening program on Saturdays hosted by Morris O’Kelly, the producer and co-host of sister progressive talk station KTLK’s “Diverse L.A.” Also, KTLK PM drive host David Cruz will host a Sunday early evening program on KFI.  In a statement, Clear Channel says the purpose of the new shows is to “discuss, dissect and investigate the important, often controversial issues of the day through the eyes of an eclectic collection of Southern California residents, urbanites and suburbanites, young and old, across race, gender and the political spectrum.”  Morris O’Kelly states, “I’ve wanted to do a show like this for a long time – to dig into what Southern Californians think and why.  Opinions are as diverse as the population and I think we’re going to shed light on issues that really matter.”

Erica Farber Replaces Jeff Haley as President and CEO of the RAB.  The board of directors of the Radio Advertising Bureau announces Erica Farber, who joined the RAB in late 2011, will replace Jeff Haley as president and CEO of the organization as Haley exits to pursue a new opportunity.  RAB board chairman and EVP Scott Herman says of the move, “Erica is an excellent selection with the relevant skills and expertise to lead the RAB.  She brings an impressive track record in radio sales and management.  In addition, Erica has a clear understanding of the organization and what the broadcast industry requires from the RAB.  She has demonstrated a strong capacity of working with multiple constituencies which is critical to the RAB role.  We thank Jeff for his guidance and leadership the past five years in helping to shape an organization that fits the radio and media landscape today.  He’s left an indelible imprint on the industry and we thank him for his service and commitment.”

Budget Mandate Forces WBSM, New Bedford to Release Talk Host Ken Pittman.  Local officials are decrying Cumulus Media’s decision to eliminate Ken Pittman’s local afternoon drive talk show on WBSM, New Bedford, Massachusetts.  The New Bedford Standard-Times reports New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell even wrote to Cumulus COO John Dickey to express how area residents are upset with the loss of local programming.  “The local programming available on WBSM, including local news, talk and sports coverage, is truly valued by the thousands of listeners the station draws from the New Bedford region,” he wrote.  Meanwhile, station programming manager Pete Braley tells the paper local management made the cut reluctantly after being mandated by corporate to trim expenses and realizing that someone had to go.  With Pittman out, mid-morning host Phil Paleologos will move to PM drive and do more news event coverage.  The station brings Salem Radio NetworksMike Gallagher in for late mornings to cover Paleologos’ slot.  That leaves the station with four hours of local programming: morning drive and a 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm program.

Management Change at Cumulus Washington, DC; Jeff Boden Exits.  President and general manager Jeff Boden has left the building at Cumulus Media’s Washington, DC station group that includes news/talk WMAL-AM/FM.  DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports Sam Rogers – former CBS Radio Washington cluster chief and Cumulus VP of political and platform sales – has taken over Boden’s role at the stations.  Hughes reports that rumors have more cuts coming to the DC cluster in the near future, although it’s hard to predict which stations and what positions will be affected.

Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe Joins WNST, Baltimore.  Nestor Aparicio-owned sports talk outlet WNST, Baltimore announces Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe becomes part of the late-morning show on the station alongside Paul Mittermeier and Greg Marsh.  A release from the station states, “Yaffe’s crew will focus on all Baltimore sports with fun conversation, guests and lots of banter about the state of the local sporting universe including the Orioles, Ravens, Terps, and local lacrosse.”  Yaffe had previously worked at CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talker WJZ-FM.

Bankruptcy Filing Leaves Broadcasters in Financial Lurch.  The bankruptcy filing of tax resolution company TaxMasters is forcing a number of broadcasting companies – including CNN, Dial Global, Fox News Channel and others – to face the fact they will likely receive little if anything of what the company owes them.  Forbes reports that Time Warner’s CNN is owed the largest amount for ads aired on the cable news channel: $2.6 million.  Other broadcasters are also listed as unsecured creditors.  News Corp’s Fox News Channel is out $938,414; Dial Global is owed $676,000; MSNBC stands to lose $259,441; and ESPN is out $94,265.  TaxMasters and CEO Patrick Cox were hit with a $195 million verdict in Texas for violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Violations Act.  It lists assets of just $1.7 million.

Bob Visotcky Takes VP Sales Position at Cumulus Los Angeles.  Bob Visotcky moves over from his market manager post at Cumulus Media’s Oxnard-Ventura stations to the Los Angeles cluster where he’ll become vice president of sales representing news/talk KABC and classic rock KLOS-FM.

GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Race, Supreme Court-ObamaCare Issue, Ryan Budget, Twisters Hit Dallas, and Trayvon Martin Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/3).  The ongoing GOP primary race and the greater 2012 presidential campaign, the charges President Obama is pressuring the Supreme Court in its judgment of the legality of the Patient Care and Affordability Act of 2010, Congressman Paul Ryan’s Republican House budget proposal, tornadoes sweep through the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the Trayvon Martin case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

| April 3, 2012

The FCC and You – Part 2: An Explanation of Obscenity.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes the second in a series of exclusive articles covering crucial regulatory information of which all license holders must be aware.  Here Weisman outlines the three-pronged guidelines to defining obscenity and discusses some of the court cases that have helped codify the FCC regulations as they stand today.  Read more here.

 

Rivers Radio Launches Progressive News/Talk Station in Atlanta.  WGUN, Atlanta debuted as a progressive news/talk outlet yesterday featuring a lineup that includes: Syndication One’s Warren Ballentine, The Ed Schultz Show, Premiere NetworksRandi Rhodes, WYD Media’s Thom Hartmann, and The Mike Malloy Show.  Rivers Radio EVP and general manager Kevin Hemmings states, “Atlanta’s 1010 is excited to be able to offer this incredible lineup to our rapidly growing audience. For the first time in a very long while, the listeners of Atlanta now have a diverse choice of viewpoints and opinions.”  WGUN had been airing an oldies/standards format.

Syracuse Talk Personality Jim Reith Joins Pubcasters for New Shows.  Longtime WSYR, Syracuse talk show host Jim Reith – a 27-year employee of the station who was downsized in October of 2011 – begins a new career in the public media world when he debuts a 30-minute TV talk show on WCNY-TV, Syracuse in May and a radio talk show on WCNY-FM, Syracuse in the fall.  Reith tells the Syracuse Post Standard, “I want to be a local guy doing local topics with local people.  I want to inform people about local issues in a more developed way than you can do with a sound bite.  And I want to entertain people and have some fun.”  Reith’s TV talk show will air daily from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm starting May 14 and in the fall he’ll begin a daily three-hour radio talk show on classical WCNY-FM’s HD 3 channel.

Cumulus-Finebaum Suits May Reach Settlement Out of Court.  If Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has his way, the lawsuits between WJOX-FM, Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and employer Cumulus Media will be settled out of court.  According to the Birmingham News, Vance has ordered the two sides to get back to the negotiating table in order to settle the contract dispute.  The two sides were in court last week for a hearing before Vance and they appear closer to a settlement.  Finebaum is suing over contractual issues that took place when Citadel owned the station and Cumulus is countersuing claiming breach of contract.

Leland Conway Moves to WRVA, Richmond for PM Drive.  Lexington, Kentucky talk show host Leland Conway leaves his afternoon drive show at Clear Channel’s WLAP after six years to take over the same time slot at the company’s WRVA, Richmond.  Conway fills the slot at WRVA that opened when the station parted ways with Doc Thompson.  Back at WLAP, the station will get assistance from WHAS, Louisville talk host Mandy Connell and others filling in Conway’s afternoon show until a permanent replacement can be found.

WTMA, Charleston Morning Host Richard Todd Resigns.  Citing the difficulty of being a single parent after the passing of his wife from cancer back in January, WTMA, Charleston, South Carolina morning drive host Richard Todd has resigned from the station.  Todd returned to the radio in February after taking some time off subsequent to the death of his wife Mary Todd on January 3.  Todd told his audience he would not be leaving his position had it not been for his wife’s passing.  He said he isn’t able to focus and prepare the way he needs to in order to execute the show the way he’d like.

Former NFL Players Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu Exit KILT, Houston.  The two had been contributors to CBS Radio’s sports talk KILT, Houston where they worked on both its coverage of Houston Texans football and with some of the station’s sports talk shows.  Now, the Houston Chronicle reports the two have resigned from the station and the scuttlebutt is that they will resurface at Clear Channel’s crosstown sports talk KBME.  KILT program director Gavin Spittle tells the paper, “We appreciated the time they were here.  We have been fortunate to build a large staff, and with that will come departures.  And with departures comes rebuilding, and we are excited about our future.”  Greg Koch is an attorney and N.D. Kalu works in the real estate business in the Houston area.

Former Senator Arlen Specter Hangs Up on GCN’s Jason Lewis.  Former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter grew tired of his time on Genesis Communications Network’s Jason Lewis show – especially of having to sit through commercial breaks – and hung up on Lewis, but not after admonishing him for how the interview was being conducted.  Specter was on the program to promote his latest book, Life Among the Cannibals (Thomas Dunne Books 2012).  GCN reports Specter was upset Lewis didn’t spend enough time with the Republican-turned-Democrat discussing his book.  After the second commercial break he told Lewis, “I gave you 10 minutes. You’ve been over every subject except for my book.  I’ve listened to two rounds of your commercials.  I think it’s insulting.  I’ve been in a lot of interviews in the course of the past 30 years and you are absolutely insulting!  I told you the last time around I wasn’t looking to sit around and listen to your commercials, and I didn’t want to hang up on you.  But I want to tell you this is no way for anybody to run an interview.  I’m as experienced as you are, if not more so.  And that’s all I have to tell you, so goodbye!”

WFED, Washington PM Drive Host Francis Rose Available to Comment on Latest Government Waste Scandal.  A new report from the Inspector General at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that buys goods and services for the Federal government, says leadership spent over $822,000 on a conference attended by about 300 people in October 2010 (over $2700 per attendee).  The report says “many of the expenditures on this conference were excessive and wasteful and that in many instances GSA followed neither federal procurement laws nor its own policy on conference spending.”  This story has been gaining traction among government waste watchers and is already huge in the nation’s capital.  Hubbard Broadcasting’s WFED (sister station to WTOP) uniquely targets its programming to Federal employees – particularly the bureaucracy’s movers and shakers – and is all over this breaking scandal.  (See http://www.federalnewsradio.com/445/2812012/GSA-head-Johnson-resigns-two-others-fired.)  Afternoon drive host Francis Rose tells TALKERS he is available for live and taped interviews via telephone on talk shows around the country to provide insight into its outrageous details.  Rose can be reached via e-mail at frose@federalnewsradio.com or by cell at 202-657-9907.

Jim Rome’s New CBS Sports Network Show Airs Tonight.  Sports talk icon Jim Rome begins a new chapter in the TV side of his sports talk career as CBS Sports Network – CBS’ new sports cable channel – broadcasts the first edition of his TV show since Rome parted company with ESPN.  Rome appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman” last week to promote the new show and talk sports.  Rome’s new TV program airs nightly at 6:00 ET.

GOP Primary/2012 Presidential Campaign, Syrian Violence, ObamaCare Status, Iran Nukes, Gas Prices and NCAA Finals Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/2).  The Republican primary race and the 2012 presidential campaign; the drive to end the violence in Syria, the politics surrounding the legal status of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, Iran’s nuclear ambitions; the rising price of gas and the NCAA basketball finals were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Monday, April 2, 2012

| April 2, 2012

Programmer Paul Duckworth Returns to Seattle to Lead Fisher’s KOMO.  News/talk programming pro Paul Duckworth returns to the Emerald City, where he formerly led the programming department at Fisher Communications’ KOMO and KVI, to once again head up news radio KOMO.  He left Seattle in 2002 and programmed several other stations including KLIF, Dallas and WMAL, Washington, DC.  He begins his duties at KOMO on April 16 at the station that features morning and afternoon news blocks surrounding local talk hosts John Carlson in late mornings and Ken Schram in early afternoons.  Duckworth spent the last year in retirement in Florida.

Keith Olbermann Promises Legal Action as Tumultuous Term with Current TV Comes to an End.  Reports of mercurial news/talk TV personality Keith Olbermann’s contentious relationship with management at Al Gore-founded Current TV have been coming out for some time and, despite recent assurances via press releases that everything between the two sides is fine, Current TV has cut the cord and let Olbermann go, replacing him with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and his new show “Viewpoints.”  Current TV had hoped that Olbermann’s “Countdown” show – brought over after his departure from MSNBC – would be the anchor program around which the network could build, but after just nine months the relationship was too strained to continue.  Current TV released the following statement on Friday, March 30: “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet.  We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.  Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.”  Olbermann has fired back via Twitter and is promising legal action.  He states, in part: “I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better.  But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff.  Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract…In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out.  For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one.  That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.”

Rush Limbaugh Reports Audience Hikes.  During his nationally syndicated Premiere Networks show last week, Rush Limbaugh broke format briefly to talk about his ratings in the wake of the Sandra Fluke controversy.  He stated that he usually doesn’t talk about ratings but because of the high-profile assault on his program’s advertisers (and others’) he felt compelled to report ratings were up at all 600 of his affiliates.  The Daily Caller reports Limbaugh stated, “The simple answer is that on the range of all 600 radio stations, our ratings are up anywhere from 10% to 60%, depending on the station…And that’s as detailed as I’m going to get…What I mean by that is we could be up 33% on one station, 12% on another – 60% is the top that we’re up on another.  We’re up 50% in a number of places.”  The increased interest in Limbaugh’s program was predicted by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison as numerous consumer media outlets quoted TALKERS in covering the unfolding story.  Addressing the advertiser issue, Limbaugh also stated, “The advertisers who hung in here are going gangbusters, yes.  I mean, that’s the simple truth.  The only ones who got hurt are the ones who left.  And that’s its own tragedy because they left under false, trumped up, unreal pretenses.”

Another Casualty of the Clear Channel Cuts: Cincinnati Programmer Tony Bender.  Program director Tony Bender had been with the Cincinnati cluster of stations since it was owned by Great American Broadcasting in the late 1980s.  Until Friday he was serving as program director of talk WKRC and sports WCKY.  The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports other staffers let go in the latest round of cuts included promotions director Sherry Rowland, traffic reporter Brian Pitts and two other off-air employees.

Coming Tomorrow: The FCC and You – Part 2 – An Explanation of Obscenity.  Don’t miss the second in a series of exclusive TALKERS articles by legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman covering the crucial FCC regulatory information of which every license holder and radio station management employee must be aware.  Informal surveys of radio station managers indicate that an alarming number of them are dangerously under-informed about the FCC regulations that pertain to them and their stations.  TALKERS editors urge managers to take the time to read this free abridgement (of a forthcoming expanded e-book) and share it with their management teams.  Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon.  In tomorrow’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the FCC’s position on obscenity.

Battle for Control of SiriusXM Is Brewing.  Liberty Media Corp has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM, setting the stage for a battle between Liberty’s John Malone and SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin.  Malone’s Liberty Media came to the rescue of SiriusXM three years ago with a cash investment of $530 million when the satcaster needed it most.  Now, Liberty’s filing is being contested by SiriusXM as it asks the FCC to “dismiss or deny” the petition.  Liberty Media only owns 40% of the company and, though there is precedent for a minority shareholder taking control, it’s not common and many deal watchers are quick to doubt that the FCC will grant even “de facto” control to a minority shareholder.  Liberty is arguing that certain provisions of the Investment Agreement inked in 2009 have expired and should result in a takeover.  But again, numerous experts in the field of corporate takeovers are saying the Liberty FCC filing is unlikely to result in a control change.  Most say if Liberty wants control over SiriusXM it is going to have to acquire more shares the old-fashioned way: Buy them.

Cumulus Media Splits Simulcast of Sports WWLS, Oklahoma City; ESPN Radio Takes Over AM Side.  The “Sports Animal” radio network continues to be led by flagship WWLS-FM, Oklahoma City with programming sent to six affiliate stations in five Oklahoma markets, but the AM side of WWLS has split off to broadcast ESPN Radio’s programming lineup.  The Oklahoman reports the AM station will continue to air Oklahoma City Thunder play-by-play as well as Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State pre- and post-game programming.

Dan McNeil Set to Return to WSCR, Chicago After Month-long Absence.  It’s been a bit over a month since midday co-host Dan McNeil took time off from his program at CBS Radio’s sports talk WSCR, Chicago (co-hosted with Matt Spiegel) for unspecified health issues.  He recently announced on his Facebook page that he’s ready to return on April 9 and thanked family and friends for their support, assuring them he’s feeling better.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports that McNeil’s health issues were not disclosed but that colleagues have alluded to McNeil’s struggles with sobriety.

Friday, March 30, 2012

| March 30, 2012

Surprise Cuts Across the Board at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.  In the past when Clear Channel or other big broadcasters have made sweeping reductions in their workforces there have been hints they were coming.  This one seems to have surprised industry watchers.  Clear Channel vice president Angel Aristone released the following statement about the cuts.  “We are constantly evaluating our organization and structure to make sure we are as well positioned as possible to continue to lead in the evolving marketplace.  We’ve been looking closely at our business to ensure that we are properly staffed and operating as efficiently as possible with the right balance of services and personnel to meet the needs of our listeners/consumers.  Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company and that creates some new jobs, and unfortunately eliminates others. In the process, some employees were affected.  These are never easy decisions to make; we thank them for their service and wish them all the best for the future.”  This round of cuts affected mostly mid-sized markets including Columbus, Jacksonville, Nashville, Cincinnati, Portland, Louisville, West Palm Beach and Minneapolis.  There was also a restructuring of the company’s Total Traffic operation.  Some of the folks from the news and talk formats ousted include:  WTAM, Cleveland weekend host Bob Becker; WTOK, Oklahoma City news director Jerry Bohnen; WISN, Milwaukee producer Jason Booth; WPOP, Hartford producer Richard Cooke; WTVN, Columbus news staffer Matt Demczyk; KEX, Portland news staffer Jeff Kirsch; KEX, Portland news anchor Mary Loos; WTOK, Oklahoma City talk host Greg Moore; WLAC, Nashville program director Tom Peace; and WTVN, Columbus sports anchor Dan Watson.