Townsquare Media to Go Public with IPO Hoping to Raise $144 Million. The negative spin on this story is that by going public, Townsquare Media becomes another company that must serve shareholders first – with all that that implies. But the reality is that Townsquare’s backers – Oaktree Capital and GE Capital (with 62% and 18% stakes, respectively) – have poured a lot of cash into building the company’s portfolio of 312 radio stations and number of digital publications. The company is sitting on $645 million of outstanding debt and the IPO would help put a dent in that if it raises the $145 million it hopes for. The one aspect of the company’s balance sheet that is turning radio industry watchers’ heads is that, according to its S1 filing, 26% of its revenue is coming from the non-radio end of its operations. At this point, there is no timetable for the IPO or any report of how much shares will be sold for.
New England Radio Pro Brad Shepard Exits WHYN, Springfield. For the past 11 years, Brad Shepard (left) has co-hosted the morning drive program alongside Bo Sullivan (right) on Clear Channel’s news/talk WHYN, Springfield, Massachusetts. Now, the station appears to be going with Sullivan alone in the driver’s seat as CC’s Jennifer Powers confirms to Masslive.com that “Brad Shepard is no longer part of WHYN mornings. We appreciate all of his contributions during his time with us and wish him well.” Prior to joining Clear Channel Springfield in 2000, Shepard was morning host at crosstown AC WMAS-FM for seven years. The move appears to be budget related like most of the talent cuts taking place at Clear Channel that TALKERS and RadioInfo have reported this week.
TALKERS Career Moves. Las Vegas radio pro Tom Humm inks a new, five-year deal to remain in his vice president and market manager role at Beasley Broadcast Group’s station group there that includes four music stations and news/talk KDWN…..Nicky Sparrow is named the director of sales for the Clear Channel New Orleans station group that consists of six music outlets and news/talk WRNO-FM “Rush Radio 99.5.”
WGN, Chicago to Unveil ‘Walk of Fame.’ This Friday is the day Tribune Company’s WGN Radio will hold the WGN Radio Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony at Pioneer Court in front of Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue. The ceremony will be broadcast live on WGN with hosts Steve Cochran and Bob Sirott introducing the 2014 Walk of Fame inductees and interviewing them or their family representatives. Being inducted this year are: Spike O’Dell, Orion Samuelson, Kathy O’Malley, Wally Phillips (represented by wife, Barbara Phillips), Judy Markey, Quin Ryan (represented by his cousin, Justin O’Brien), Milt Rosenberg, Jack Brickhouse (represented by wife, Pat Brickhouse), Roy Leonard, and Bob Collins (represented by wife, Christine Collins).
The New York Festivals Announces International Radio Program Award Winners. Monday evening in New York City, the New York Festivals handed out honors to the winners in the 2014 competition The New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards. The broad competition included entries from all over the world in a wide spectrum of categories. Some of the winner from the United States included the American Forces Network; WGBH, Boston; Bloomberg News; and Gary Theroux Productions. Follow this link and you can search for winners based on country or category.
PodcastOne Targets Young Demos with Brody Jenner Show. The half-brother of the Kardashian sisters – Brody Jenner – is entering the world of podcasts with co-host and relationship expert Dr. Mike Dow for a weekly podcast titled, “The Brody Jenner Podcast with Dr. Mike Dow.” Brody – star of MTV’s “The Hills” – will focus on the love lives of celebrities and the podcast’s audience as they engage them through social media. PodcastOne founder and CEO Norm Pattiz says, “Brody Jenner has an amazing connection with exactly the target audience we want to build at PodcastOne. We’re now doing business with over 100 of the nation’s biggest brands. We know where we need to go and we’re betting that Brody and Dr. Mike Dow can help get us there.”
Odds & Sods. “America Now” host Andy Dean will appear on this Friday’s edition of “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO at 10:00 pm ET. The Premiere Networks-syndicated talk host will be on with journalist Bobby Ghosh and MSNBC anchor Joy Reid…..Former WEEI, Boston sports talk host Glenn Ordway’s digital effort “The Big Show Unfiltered” makes a move on its SiriusXM platform where it is also heard live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET. The show moves from channel 108 to channel 220 for Sirius subscribers but remains on 206 for XM subscribers. A press release from Ordway’s organization reports the show’s podcasts (which debuted on March 17) “have generated nearly 312,000 listener hours, up from over 252,000 individual listening sessions. Each of those individual listening sessions, on average, has lasted 1:14, a critical factor in developing listener loyalty.”…..The internet video sports entertainment project 120 Sports debuts this evening at 6:00 pm ET. 120 Sports is collaboration between Time Inc./Sports Illustrated, MLB.com, the NHL, Campus Insiders and Silver Chalice. 120 Sports is described as “a first-of-its-kind network partnership involving multiple leagues and media properties created for the digital generation and the devices it uses most. In 120 Sports, today’s fans will have access to unauthenticated video programming through a new platform built to intuitively integrate video and data in ways they haven’t experienced before. The 120 Sports product will debut as free native applications for mobile and tablet devices as well as a web experience at 120Sports.com and other distribution outlets.
Iraq Turmoil-U.S. Military Role, IRS Scandal Testimony, Influx of Illegals in Southwest, Primary Races/State of the GOP, Hillary Clinton Memoir-Financial Status, News Corp Phone Hacking Trial, LeBron James Watch, and World Cup Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/24). The continuing march of ISIS toward Baghdad and the U.S. military’s potential role in the country’s security; the testimony surrounding the loss of Lois Lerner’s emails by the IRS; the massive influx of minor illegals in the Southwest and concerns about health problems and criminal activity; the primary races for the fall’s mid-term elections and debate over the state of the GOP; Hillary Clinton’s latest memoir and her statements about her financial status; verdicts in the News Corp phone hacking scandal; speculation about the future of NBA star LeBron James; and the hoopla over World Cup action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
NEW Rosters Coming to SF Talk Outlets. In the banner story first published yesterday (see next item), TALKERS detailed Clear Channel‘s plans for significant changes involving heritage Los Angeles talker KFI and under-performing sibling KTLK-AM – which will be re-branded as “The Patriot.” The City of Angels, however, is not the only locale where the company is mixing things up with its talk properties. As of the first of the year, modified talent lineups will surface on a pair of Clear Channel San Francisco facilities. Changes on “960 KNEW” will include Rush Limbaugh on from 9:00 am – 12:00 Noon, Sean Hannity 12:00 Noon – 3:00 pm, and Andy Dean from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm; Glenn Beck will continue to air in morning drive (6:00 am – 9:00 am). Casts from Fox News Radio will air at the top and bottom of every hour. Down the dial five clicks to the left on “910 KKSF,” Armstrong & Getty will add an hour (6:00 am – 10:00 am); Frosty Stilwell moves to 10:00 am -1:00 pm; and Randi Rhodes (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm) segues from KNEW. Gil Gross will remain in his afternoon drive slot (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm). Vice president of programming Don Parker comments, “We are excited to continue to grow the live and local programming on ‘Talk 910′ with the expansion of Armstrong & Getty. We are also thrilled to welcome the Bay Area’s leading midday talk personality, Randi Rhodes, to ‘Talk 910.’ The new lineup on ’960 KNEW’ will be a destination for conservative listeners who follow America’s top personalities – all in one place.” Among persons 6+ this November (PPM), KKSF-AM ranked #17 (2.1, +.1 from October’s 2.0), while KNEW finished at #31 (flat from October’s .4).
Clear Channel Los Angeles Blows Up Progressive Talk KTLK; Creates New Conservative Talker. Progressive talk radio takes another blow as Clear Channel Media + Entertainment prepares to flip KTLK, Los Angeles to “The Patriot AM 1150” in the New Year with the following lineup: Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, PM drive TBA, and Clark Howard. That leaves a midday hole at sister KFI (Limbaugh airs there from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon right now) as the station moves Bill Carroll to the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm slot leaving the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm show host TBA for now. In a statement, program director Robin Bertolucci says, “Los Angeles is one of the most dynamic radio markets in the United States and we want to present the best of talk radio from across the spectrum. These changes are designed to give our current and future programming a home where listeners can find and enjoy their favorite talk show hosts.” Some of the current KTLK air talent will remain with the company. PM drive host David Cruz will still talk local issues Saturdays from 12:00 to 2:00 pm on KTLK. Cruz will also join the KFI news team, reporting local news for the station in addition to his weekend community show. Mo’ Kelly adds another weekend edition of his program to the KFI weekend schedule. His show will air on both Saturday and Sunday from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The move takes Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes and Bill Press off the schedule.
KOGO, San Diego PD Cliff Albert’s Status in Question. The local radio blog SanDiegoRadio.org is reporting that sources tell it longtime KOGO, San Diego program director Cliff Albert (along with talk host Steve Yuhas) has left the building. This has not been confirmed and Albert’s “Cliff’s Notes” commentary on the KOGO website is still active – often a dismissed staffer’s likeness and content are purged upon leaving. Albert has been programming KOGO for the past 17 years.
Steve Murphy to Retire from WCCO, Minneapolis. After 33 years with the station, morning anchor and managing editor Steve Murphy is retiring from the CBS Radio news/talk station at the end of the year. Murphy says that his wife recently retired from her nursing job and he’s ready to hang up the headphones and stay up past 7:30 in the evening. CBS Minneapolis SVP and market manager Mick Anselmo says, “He’ll be sorely missed. Steve is a wonderful example of a professional radio journalist with a great sense of news, a confident, soothing but direct delivery and an uncompromising work ethic that will be difficult to duplicate.” Murphy himself made the news last month after getting mugged and beaten while on the way to work at 2:30 am. He says that incident had no impact on his decision but rather the idea of sleeping past 2:30 am was a huge factor.
Lincoln Financial Media Appoints Prain DOS in Miami. Lincoln Financial Media announces broadcast pro and media sales consultant Jim Prain is named director of sales for the company’s Miami cluster that includes: AC WLYF, “LITE 101.5,” classic hits WMXJ, “MAGIC 102.7,” and sports talk WAXY-AM/FM “104.3 The Ticket.” LFM Miami SVP and general manager Maureen Lesourd states, “I have had the privilege to know Jim throughout his career and find him a highly credible, accountable and strategic thinker. His leadership will help propel our sales effort to meet the growing demands of our clientele and maximize all the on air, online and social media assets we have to offer.” Prain’s media career includes 25-plus years of media management experience in major and large markets, including positions at companies such as ABC, ABC/Cap Cities and Cox Media. He also invested two years as a small business owner in Detroit, where he launched a power sports company. Prain comments, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Maureen and LFM CEO Don Benson over the years and feel this is the perfect fit for me professionally and personally. My passion for helping our customers, combined with the recent benefits of owning a small business, affords me a unique perspective on both sides of the marketing equation. I’m excited to get started.”
Norm Pattiz and PodcastOne Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek Piece. Westwood One founder and current chairman and CEO of Courtside Entertainment Group and subsidiary PodcastOne, Norm Pattiz, is featured in a piece in Bloomberg Businessweek where he projects revenue from podcasts for his company will reach $8 million for this year. He expects that figure to hit $15 million in 2014. The piece includes more figures: Pattiz says his 200 programs on PodcastOne are averaging 100 million downloads per month and have attracted advertising attention from such corporations as Ford Motor, 21st Century Fox’s Fox, Walt Disney’s ABC, and Hulu.com. Read the entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Sports talk host Dan Sileo – most recently with WMEN, West Palm Beach – is doing holiday fill-in work at Broadcast Company of the Americas-owned sports talker XEPRS, San Diego “Mighty 1090.” Sileo – who’s also worked at WQAM, Miami and WDAE, Tampa, to name a few – tells TALKERS magazine he’ll be doing morning drive (6:00 am to 9:00 am) from December 23 through 31…..Former WPGB, Pittsburgh morning team Jim Quinn and Rose Tennent hosted a live broadcast in conjunction with a Toy Treasures charity event at a Pittsburgh-area hair salon this morning. The pair signed copies of their book, Thanking Our Soldiers…..Galaxy Communications-owned classic rock duo WTKW, Bridgeport, New York and WTKV, Oswego, New York (Syracuse market) sign up with CBS Radio to be the local affiliate for New York Yankees baseball for the 2014 season.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity becomes part of KTLK, Los Angeles’ lineup in the New Year…..“Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge joins the programming lineup at WMEL, Melbourne, Florida…..Genesis Communications Network-syndicated “Freedom Feens” with Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi is added to the program schedule at WKVL, Knoxville and KINX-FM, Great Falls, Montana.
ObamaCare Criticism Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of December 2-6. Criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was again the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week. At #2 was the decline in support for President Obama from the Millennial generation. Following at #3 was the Rush Limbaugh-Pope Francis Marxism flap followed by the Iran nuclear weapons talks and the NSA cell phone location database story tied at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. To view this week’s entire chart, click here.
Hubbard to Buy 10 Sandusky Stations for $85.5 Million. The deal gives Hubbard Radio five stations in the Phoenix market and five in Seattle. It includes Phoenix outlets: classic rock KSLX, active rock KUPD, rock KDKB, oldies KAZG-AM, and sports talk KDUS-AM; and Seattle stations: standards, KIXI-AM, CHR KQMV, talk KKNW-AM, AC KRWM, alternative KLCK. Hubbard board chair Ginny Morris says in a statement, “This is an exciting opportunity to expand Hubbard Radio into two top 20 markets. We have known and respected the Rau/White family, Sandusky’s owners, for many years. We admire what they have accomplished and we are honored that they would agree to sell us these established stations. We are committed to maintaining the dedication to excellence and to community that Sandusky has made such an important part of their radio operations.” This sale signals the end of the radio business interests for Sandusky as the company turns its total focus to its print and digital operations. For Hubbard, it bumps the number of stations it will own from 20 to 30. Hubbard president and CEO Bruce Reese says, “Hubbard is excited about the chance to add these great stations to our existing operations in Chicago, Washington, DC, Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Louis and Cincinnati. Sandusky runs very successful radio stations and we plan on continuing that precedent. We look forward to working with our new colleagues.”
Wait Is on to See if Greater Media Flips AC WMGC, Detroit to Sports Talk. Rumors have been heard in Detroit for a few months now that Greater Media is considering a format flip to sports talk for moribund soft rock “Magic 105.” Now, those rumors are getting hotter and Crain’s Detroit Business reports in a story by Bill Shea that sources say that switch could happen next month. The publication notes that WMGC’s ratings have been in decline since longtime morning host Jim Harper retired 19 months ago. But the switch would mean taking on CBS Radio’s highly rated WXYT-FM – no easy feat, even in a market most would consider a “sports town.” Shea’s report cites insiders saying Greater Media is talking with former employee Drew Lane who – along with partner Mike Clark – were not renewed for the morning show at the company’s rock WRIF two months ago, although they had good ratings and enjoy excellent credibility in the market. In his piece, Shea states that, “WXYT’s rating dominance is largely because it has the rights to air live all four of Detroit’s professional sports teams’ games. The radio contracts for the Detroit Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons don’t expire until 2015, meaning it would be more than a year before a flipped WMGC could theoretically pursue and air pro games.” Although the value of play-by-play is real, and there’s no doubt the combination of excellent talk show talent and game broadcasts is a winning formula, TALKERS would hesitate to say the station’s success is largely because of play-by-play. Ultimately it’s all about revenue and rights to those games are very expensive while WXYT’s personalities and the advertising rates they command are extremely valuable to the station.
Dave Ramsey Show Jumps to KXLY, Spokane. Nationally syndicated financial talk star Dave Ramsey’s program moves to Queen B-owned news/talk outlet KXLY, Spokane after years on Clear Channel’s crosstown KQNT. Dave Ramsey vice president of broadcast Brian Mayfield says, “We are excited to have the Dave Ramsey show as part of the lineup on KXLY in Spokane. We are equally excited at the opportunity to partner with the team at Queen B Radio in bringing Dave to town with his latest ‘Legacy Journey Live Event’ on October 17.” Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity show is moved from KXLY to crosstown KQNT and KXLY Radio Group VP Brian Paul Lubanski states, “We were one of the early adopters of Sean’s show and thank Sean for 12 great years on KXLY. I’m very excited to have Dave on our station, he’s kicked our butt in the ratings in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 timeslot the past couple of years!”
Larry Wilson’s L&L Broadcasting to Acquire YMF Media’s Jackson, Mississippi Cluster. The six-station Jackson station group Larry Wilson’s L&L Broadcasting is set to buy includes three FMs and three AMs: urban contemporary WKXI “Kixie 107 FM,” hip hop WJMI “99 Jams,” sports talk WRKS “ESPN 105.9 The Zone,” news/talk WJNT, gospel WOAD, and oldies WJQS. No price has been announced yet but in a statement, Wilson says, “The YMF Media cluster in Jackson will be a great addition to our Mississippi footprint. As the state capital, Jackson is an energetic and thriving city with endless opportunities for growth. We’re excited to bring these heritage stations into the L&L family.”
MEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: George Kimble of Kozacko Media Services. In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media broker George Kimble of Kozacko Media Services in Tucson, Arizona. Kimble has been in radio since he was 13, as his father was a station owner. By the time he was 17 and a senior in high school, he was also the morning man at his local hometown station. He went on to be a radio and television station owner himself for some 40 years. Kimble agrees with the editorial philosophy expressed in this trade publication that there are indeed opportunities for displaced, experienced radio management in local ownership if they are willing to roll up their sleeves and personally work all ends of it. He states, “There are plenty of good opportunities available. The prices have come down to the lowest in years — so NOW is certainly the time for action. While there are no national financial sources of money — local banks will still back an on-scene, experienced operator with the help of the SBA. And, seller financing is available in a number of smaller market opportunities.” Kimble shares several hot listings in this piece. To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, please click here.
Thom Hartmann to Receive Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Goddard College. Nationally syndicated talk show host Thom Hartmann will receive the honorary degree in September from the Plainfield, Vermont-located school. Goddard College president Barbara Vacarr writes to Hartmann: “This award is designed to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to both the worlds of academe and activism and who, through their work and study, help propel the ideals and aspirations of Goddard College: to advance cultures of rigorous inquiry, collaboration, and lifelong learning, where individuals take imaginative and responsible action in the world. By bestowing you with this honorary doctorate, Goddard College wishes to honor your lifelong work as an author, commentator, entrepreneur, philanthropist, activist, academician, radio talk show host and lifelong learner. Your impact is deep and far reaching in a wide array of areas. Your extensive and groundbreaking work and writing on the subject of ADD would by itself qualify you for this doctorate. Coupled with your lifelong activism and creativity in the fields of broadcast journalism, communications, progressive politics, and humanitarianism, you are truly an outstanding example of an American citizen actively engaged in engendering civil discourse that is provocative and designed to be.”
NBC Sports Radio Shows to Broadcast from Celebrity Charity Golf Tourney. The American Century Championship, the “premiere celebrity golf tournament,” is owned and produced by NBC Sports and sponsored by American Century Investments. The annual tournament (in its 24th year) features some of the sports and entertainment world’s biggest celebrities and raises funds for local and national charities including Expect Miracles Foundation and American Cancer Society‘s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. To date, American Century Investments and NBC Sports have raised more than $4 million through the American Century Championship. Celebrities scheduled to play for the $600,000 purse include: NBC Sports Radio host Rodney Harrison and NBC Sports Radio senior contributor Chipper Jones, as well as Emmitt Smith, Charles Barkley, Aaron Rodgers, Ozzie Smith, Ray Romano, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Marshall Faulk, Goose Gossage, and many more. Both “Under Center with McNabb & Malone” featuring Donovan McNabb and Mark Malone, and “Amani and Eytan” with Amani Toomer and Eytan Shander will be broadcasting live from the event this Thursday and Friday from the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Former Talk Host Patrick Kiley Sentenced in Ponzi Scheme. Seventy-five-year-old Patrick Kiley was the fourth of a group of defendants to be sentenced for his part in a Ponzi scheme that prosecutors say defrauded victims of $194 million. He was sentenced by a Minnesota judge to 240 months in federal prison. Kiley hosted a nationally syndicated radio program called “Follow the Money” distributed by the Worldwide Christian Radio Network. According to WCCO-TV, in Minneapolis, Kiley and co-conspirators “Trevor Cook, Jason Bo-Alan Beckman, Gerald Joseph Durand and Christopher Pettengill – were all solely and jointly ordered to pay $155,359,411 in restitution to their victims.” Kiley was convicted of 12 counts of wire and mail fraud.
Opie & Anthony Host Robert Zimmerman, Jr. In the aftermath of the verdict in the case of George Zimmerman, SiriusXM Satellite Radio hosts Opie & Anthony had Zimmerman’s brother Robert Zimmerman, Jr. in the studio for an extended interview. During the program, Zimmerman blamed the media for the way the story evolved, saying, “I think when this happened in the beginning, there was just George and Trayvon Martin — for about a day. And I think that after, in my view, Ms. Fulton and Mr. Martin had grief like any parent would. I think their grief was exploited — that’s really what I feel in my heart — by Mr. Benjamin Crump and Ms. Natalie Jackson. And they started a race narrative, a smear campaign that the media was all too happy to…[be a part of].” Pictured here are (from l-r): Opie Hughes, Zimmerman, Jr., Anthony Cumia, and Jim Norton. Photo: Erik Nagel
National Media Personalities to Star in Eighth Annual New York’s Funniest Reporter Show Sponsored by TALKERS. The eighth annual New York’s Funniest Reporter Show (www.nyfunniestreporter.com) will take place this Sunday, July 21 at 5:00 pm at Comic Strip Live comedy club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It will feature seven media professionals each doing five minutes of stand-up comedy in order to raise money for the Humane Society of New York. At the end of the night, a winner will be declared. Competing in the show this year will be: Peter Schiff of the Peter Schiff Radio Show, Magee Hickey of WPIX Channel 11, Laurie Dhue of Glenn Beck‘s TheBlaze TV, Charles Payne of Fox Business Channel, Janice Dean of Fox News Channel, Bob Bodwon of Choice Media, Chris Serico of Newsday, and Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News Channel. 2012’s NYFR Show Champion Clayton Morris of Fox News Channel will be performing but, not competing. Hosting the show will be comedian Mark Anthony Ramirez. Show judges will be Jane Velez-Mitchell of HLN, and Mark Goldman and Ryan McCormick of Goldman McCormick PR. All participants are offered the opportunity to work with a professional comedian and receive a crash course in stand-up comedy. The Comedy Mentor also helps them to prepare their material and iron out and pre-stage nervous jitters. The cost of admission is $20. To make a reservation, please call (212) 861-9386.
Zimmerman Verdict, Edward Snowden Status, Jenny McCarthy Joins ‘The View,’ ‘Glee’ Star Dies, and SyFy’s ‘Sharknado’ Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/15). The aftermath of the “not guilty” verdict for George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the uncertain status of former NSA consultant Edward Snowden; Jenny McCarthy replaces Elisabeth Hasselbeck on “The View,” “Glee” star Cory Monteith dies in Vancouver, BC hotel; and the sensation over SyFy channel’s “Sharknado” movie were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Pioneering Talk Radio Host Gene Burns Dead at 72. Longtime talk radio host and broadcasting pioneer Gene Burns has died, succumbing to a long illness marked by a series of strokes. In the words of TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison, “Gene was one of the greatest of the great and classiest of the classy – a true ‘wordsmith’ and gentleman who symbolized everything good about talk radio and served as one of the major engines that drove the ascent of its modern era.” Until recently forced by illness into retirement from on-air performing, Burns had spent a decade and a half as a key host on KGO, San Francisco where he did a general news/talk program as well as a very popular restaurant and entertainment show. The veteran of a number of great stations, he made his mark in the late-1980s and early-1990s as a member of the legendary lineup at WRKO, Boston that also included the late Jerry Williams. That was followed by a brief but high-profile stint at WOR, New York and national syndication on the WOR Radio Network. Harrison adds, “Gene Burns practiced a brand of libertarian-based, intellectual populism in his approach to political news/talk that set the standard for the format’s emergence as a voice for the average person to stand up to big government, big business, big media and big anything. Although ‘conservative’ in his orientation, he eschewed blatant partisanship, avoided banal cookie-cutter left-versus-right talking points and dealt with each issue in an academically probing and credible manner.” Burns’ ground breaking work in the early-1990s stood as the inspiration for TALKERS magazine’s annual Freedom of Speech Award and the tradition of the annual State of the First Amendment Address delivered at the publication’s conventions. He is ranked the 23rd most important radio talk show host of all time by TALKERS in its “Heaviest Hundred” feature which is updated twice a decade. Harrison concludes, “His rich, baritone voice coupled with the artistry of his word selection and ability to construct a logical argument was about as close to music as one could hear within a spoken word context.” A special honoring the life and work of Gene Burns aired on Sunday, May 26 on KGO hosted by David Weintraub and a special tribute will be presented honoring his legacy at Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6.
Adult Contemporary is a Relatively Low-Involvement Format on Facebook. According to digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, “There are several major-market adult contemporary stations on Facebook who have a ton of followers, but very little interaction going on. As a former AC programmer, I absolutely feel their pain; AC is a low-involvement format. At the same time, most of these stations have fallen into a rut about what they post. The quality of the post is in the level of engagement you get from it. When thousands or tens of thousands follow you, and you get two or three ‘Likes’ on your posts, you gotta shake up your thinking.” In a new column posted today (5/28) Miller suggests that although consistency is basically a good and necessary thing, there is a dark side to it and to avoid falling into a rut, radio broadcasters of all formats should make changes to approximately 10% of their posts on a regular basis. To read the details and Miller’s entire piece, click here.
Kent Sterling Returns to Indy on Sports Talk WFNI. News/talk and sports radio pro Kent Sterling re-surfaces on the air at Emmis’ sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis for a weekend program with Chris Hagan called, “Ahead of the Curve with Hagan and Sterling.” He most recently served with Bonneville at its St. Louis sports talker WXOS but exited that post to return to Indianapolis. Prior to his work at WXOS, Sterling served as program director at Emmis’ news/talk flagship WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. Sterling’s and Hagan’s weekend program airs from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays.
NBA on Radio Is a Different Breed of Sports Play-by-Play. Major League Baseball is the sport that could be called radio’s best friend and the NFL’s astounding popularity makes its games and surrounding programming popular with listeners. While the NBA’s regular season games are not generally thought of as “programming gold” across the country, it appears that having even a moderately successful team combined with a flagship station with a strong nighttime signal, can be a recipe for success with basketball play-by-play. According to information from Arbitron based on PPM data from 27 NBA teams in 25 PPM markets, certain places are simply basketball towns – the Los Angeles Lakers rule Los Angeles on KSPN with average game estimates larger than the Dodgers, Angels, Kings and Ducks grabbing a 4.0 share with Men 25-54 (average of all 82 games). And perennial contenders the San Antonio Spurs dominated on WOAI with a 9.8 share with Men 25-54. However, less successful teams on strong flagships performed well during the regular season: the Milwaukee Bucks just squeaked into the playoffs but on heritage WTMJ garnered a 10 share with Men 25-54; the Cleveland Cavaliers missed the playoffs yet grabbed a 9.7 share (M 25-54) on WTAM; and the Detroit Pistons also missed the playoffs but notched an 8.0 (M 25-54) share on the highly rated WXYT-FM. Considering games in the East and Midwest air in the evenings, numbers for the stations cited above – and others not cited here – are impressive nighttime ratings.
Flagship Stations Should Capitalize on Cross-Promotional Opportunities within Baseball PBP. According to Bonneville Seattle creative director Chris Pendl, “If you’ve made the investment on play-by-play sports on your station, it’s important to maximize the return on your investment by trying to recycle that audience to another daypart on your station.” Arbitron reports that MLB drives cume increases as much as 50% to 65% during baseball season. Pendl tells TALKERS, “This influx of audience is one of the reasons we pay rights fees, share revenue, or give up inventory to carry this programming. In a climate with little or no external marketing dollars, I’ve often joked that our promotional time within baseball play-by-play is the closest thing we’ll get to an interstate billboard or TV campaign.” In an exclusive article posted today (5/28) Pendl describes and shares a production/promo technique conducted by Bonneville to cross-promote the station via the baseball audience that he calls “situation baseball return liners.” To read the entire piece and hear examples of its execution, click here.
Buckley to Sell KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. Buckley Communications announces it is selling sports talk KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. The price is yet to be announced. KYZZ is the FM side of the sports talk simulcast that also airs on Buckley’s KIDD, Monterey and Buckley says it will continue with its ESPN Radio affiliation on KIDD. Mt. Wilson has not announced its format plans for KYZZ. Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson also owns country KKGO, Los Angeles and classical simulcast KMZT-AM, Beverly Hills and KMZT-FM, Big Sur, California.
WTOP Hacking: Why You Should Worry. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes about the recent hacking of the websites of Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED “Federal News Radio.” Weisman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on scams, he operates the website Scamicide that presents up-to-date information about scams, fraud and identity theft, and is the author of The Truth About Avoiding Scams (FT Press 2008). In this column, Weisman explains the methods used by the WTOP hackers and explains the steps users can take to avoid becoming the victim of similar attacks. Read Weisman’s entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Martz Communications’ WPDM, Potsdam, New York flips from a simulcast of FM sister WSNN to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network…..Wilks License Company’s sports talk WZOH, Columbus becomes part of the Cleveland Browns radio network based at CBS Radio’s WKRK, Cleveland…..WTOP, Washington crowns Nathan Stanford from Harrington, Delaware the 2013 winner of “Commuter Idle” – an “extreme commuter” competition for listeners experiencing the daily horrors of commuting in and around Washington. Stanford’s commute begins with a 3:00 am alarm and a one-hour drive. He then boards a commuter bus for a 90-minute ride from Kent Island to Foggy Bottom, rides the Metro, and hustles on foot to his office in Rosslyn. Stanford’s travels from Delaware to Virginia average more than five hours a day, though the commute can be much longer in the summer months with Friday beach traffic. He receives $1,000 in gas money and will enjoy a limo ride to and from work from Reston Limousine. WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “The question that we hear most often is, ‘Why do these people do it?’ It’s fascinating to hear their personal stories and accompany them on their crazy commutes. We feel their pain, and as DC’s traffic authority we’re here to help.”
KOIL, Omaha’s Mulberry Lane Meets the Beach Boys and John Stamos. Musical act Mulberry Lane opened for the Beach Boys (which includes actor and musician John Stamos) in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday, May 25. Pictured here are (from l-r): Bo Mulberry, Bruce Johnston, Rachel Mulberry, Mike Love, Allie Mulberry, and John Stamos. The Mulberry sisters – based in Nebraska – also host a weekend talk show on NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha called the “Mulberry Lane Radio Show.” The station describes the ladies’ program saying the sisters “decided to bring their busy lives to live radio with a show based on sisterhood, womanhood, motherhood, and the humor and mishaps of trying to juggle it all – woven together with music, harmony and a dash of wit.” It airs Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
Longtime KNX, Los Angeles Anchor Harry Birrell Dies. Longtime Los Angeles news personality Harry Birrell died on May 26 after a battle with lung disease at age 85 in Thousand Oaks, California. Birrell was an anchor at all-news KNX, Los Angeles for more than three decades – beginning in 1968 when the station flipped to the all-news format and ending with his retirement in 1999. Birrell switched from his anchor role at the station to Ventura County correspondent in 1993.
Kevin Miller Stops By TheBlaze. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller was visiting Dallas – home of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze – and took some time to stop by the studios to check out the production of the Glenn Beck program. Here’s a shot of Beck (l) and Miller (r) inside the spacious former movie/TV studios that are home to Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts production facility.
It’s Official: Tom Cuddy to Program WOR, New York. The rumor of former WPLJ, New York PD Tom Cuddy’s new gig as programmer of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk WOR turns out to be true as the company officially announces his joining the station. He says of his new position, “I’m beyond excited to be joining a news/talk station that enjoys legendary status in New York. We have amazing plans to grow WOR and make it the hottest spot on the AM dial. WOR has one of the best signals on the East Coast.” Cuddy will work under former WABC, New York general manager Steve Borneman who recently joined WOR, as well.
Jolana Smith Named PD at Cumulus Media’s WFAS, Westchester, New York Combo. In her new position, Jolana Smith will program both the news/talk AM and the adult contemporary FM Cumulus is operating in Westchester. She comes to the stations from Cox Media’s AC WEZN, Bridgeport, Connecticut “Star 99.9” where she co-hosted morning drive and did the midday shift. In addition to programming both stations, Smith will host the midday shift on WFAS-FM. Smith states, “What an amazing opportunity to be part of the Cumulus programming ranks and to be working with SVP/programming Mike McVay and VP/AC format captain Emily Boldon…Somebody pinch me!”
David Sirota Exits KHOW, Denver. Progressive writer and columnist David Sirota exits Clear Channel’s KHOW, Denver where he’d been paired up with conservative Michael Brown for the past six months. Prior to that Sirota hosted the morning show at progressive talk sister station KKZN. The Denver Post reports neither side is saying much, obviously agreeing to not discuss the change in the press. But Sirota confirmed he’s no longer with Clear Channel and CC Denver VP of programing Greg Foster offered the obligatory “we thank him and wish him well” statement.
Rick Sanchez Lands Radio Gig at WIOD, Miami. Former CNN personality Rick Sanchez had been seeking a talk radio gig since his departure from CNN in the fall of 2010. Now, Sanchez takes over the afternoon drive slot at Clear Channel’s WIOD, Miami, replacing Rich Minaya. The hiring of Cuban-born and Spanish-speaking Rick Sanchez is interesting in as much as his media experience doing bi-lingual talk and news programs will give him a unique approach to connecting with the Miami audience. Sanchez was let go from CNN after making a comment on a radio program about Jews as minorities in the media business that was construed at politically incorrect.
Steve Deace Show Clears New York City. The Iowa-based Steve Deace talk show clears the Big Apple on Salem Communications’ WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” airing weeknights from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. Deace’s program is in its second year of national syndication. Deace states, “To go live in New York City after only 13 months in syndication is quite an honor. There are good hosts on hundreds of radio stations around the country who can’t get cleared in New York City, so I’m well aware of what this means for the future of our show.” Salem director of spoken-word format Phil Boyce says, “We’re excited to see what one of the real rising talents in our industry can do in the nation’s number one market. Many of us have been waiting for the next generation of talk radio to emerge, and Deace represents that next generation.” Deace hosted a local program on WHO, Des Moines prior to going into syndication. His national show is carried on WHO.
Daily Kevin McCullough Show Adds Nine Affiliates in 2013. The nationally syndicated Kevin McCullough show adds nine new affiliates including: WWRC, Washington, DC; WGKA, Atlanta; KRCN, Denver; and WCRU, Charlotte. The program is syndicated by McCullough’s XtreMedia Inc. and the recent additions put McCullough’s program over the 300-affiliate mark. XtreMedia also syndicates the Dani Johnson radio program as well as the weekend Baldwin/McCullough show featuring McCullough and actor Stephen Baldwin.
Sports Offers Social Success Templates. Radio consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas covering the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show but prior to that, he took in the New Media Expo (formerly the Blogworld conference). Cooke reports on the nuances of understanding and using social media for radio station promotion after hearing Amy Jo Martin’s keynote speech. Cooke says Martin believes, “One of the fundamental adjustments broadcasters need to make the most of social media is to understand that tools like Facebook and Twitter aren’t just transmitters. They’re conversations.” And social media tools can help jocks and talk hosts be more authentic to their audiences. Read more of Holland Cooke’s analysis here.
Alex Jones Takes on Piers Morgan. Nationally syndicated talk show host Alex Jones appeared on CNN on Monday evening with host Piers Morgan to debate the gun control issue and the petition to have British citizen Morgan deported in the wake of his high-profile call for new gun laws after the Newtown massacre. Traditional talk show hosts tend to shy away from gun issues on their programs but the right to bear arms is a cornerstone of Alex Jones’ belief system and a regular topic on his program. The feisty exchange on CNN was good TV theater and raises Jones’ national profile. See the program here.
Obama Cabinet Nominations, Debt Ceiling Issue, NFL Playoffs, Gun Legislation Discussion and Aurora Theater Massacre Hearing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/7). President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary and John Brennan for CIA chief; the issue of the nation’s debt ceiling; the weekend’s NFL playoff games; debate over changes to the nation’s gun laws; and the hearing in Colorado for Aurora theater massacre suspect James Holmes were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cool Job Opportunity. Townsquare Media has an opportunity for the position of operations manager in Wichita Falls. If you have experience in country, rock, CHR and news/talk formats this could be the job for you. The OM will also serve as brand manager for our CHR station, 92.9 NIN, and must have a track record in that format. You will also host an on-air shift on 92.9 NIN. In addition to a strong ratings record, candidates should demonstrate a deep, rich understanding of interactive branding including social media, loyalty programs, content creation, e-commerce, streaming platforms, mobile and texting. This job is much more than picking the hits. The successful candidate will be a great leader, a talent coach, and a highly organized strategist. You’ll need exceptional teamwork skills to produce results with experienced talent, programmers, sales and digital teams. Strong working knowledge of music scheduling systems, digital audio systems and online media platforms are required. You’ll manage multiple tasks at once, and great communication skills, attention to detail and a sense of humor are all a must. We work hard and have fun doing it! If you’re a fun, dynamic, creative, proven winner who loves working in media, contact Chuck Armstrong at Townsquare Media: email@example.com. Townsquare Media is an equal opportunity employer.
By Holland Cooke
ANNAPOLIS — Now THIS is worth a meeting. If your station is an Arbitron subscriber, you should download, devour, and discuss the just-released “Radio Today 2012,” an uncanny mash-up of Scarborough consumer profiles and Arbitron audience data. What you will read about people-who-listen-to your format really fleshes-out the folks you want as heavy listeners, and will send you in specific directions to seem relevant and relatable and habit-forming to ‘em.
And that’s all I’m allowed to say! Because this information is THAT valuable! Read the legal hear-ye-hear-ye at arbitron.com, and you’ll understand that I’m not being coy. But I can share some useful headlines from the Executive Summary Arbitron has released, which follow.