New York Losing Progressive Talk Outlet WWRL. Progressive talk host Karel – whose Long Beach, California-based talk show is heard on Access.1’s WWRL, New York – reports the station says it will flip to Spanish-language programming on December 27. The station airs progressive talk programming including Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Premiere’s Randi Rhodes, and Leslie Marshall as well as non-political shows including Radio America’s Dr. Joy Browne, WYD Media’s Phil Hendrie plus various health and wellness shows. New York’s Amsterdam News reports the station is telling employees “low advertising revenue” is the reason for the format flip.
Brown Boosted to Bonneville International President. KSL Broadcast Group president Darrell Brown is promoted to president of parent company Bonneville International. Brown will oversee Bonneville’s 12 radio properties in Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City, as well as Salt Lake City television outlet KSL-TV. “Bonneville International is known across the industry for its integrity and quality,” he comments. “As a group, these stations are committed to serving and building-up their local communities. I am honored to be part of Bonneville’s legacy.” Brown joined KSL last August, after having previously spent 28 years at McGraw-Hill Broadcasting.
Sports Talker WFAN, New York Sponsors Red Hot Chili Peppers-Headlines Show at Barclay Center. With the Super Bowl just across the river the next day, CBS Radio sports talk giant WFAN, New York is sponsoring a big event across the other river at the Barclays Center titled, “WFAN’s Big Hello to Brooklyn.” The announcement was made this morning as WFAN morning team Boomer Esiason (left) and Craig Carton (right) welcomed Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith (center) into the studio and announced his band will be headlining the show on Saturday, February 1, 2014. The concert will also include: New Politics, MS MR, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, and Basic Vacation. CBS calls it “the biggest weekend in sports and entertainment, and is the exciting conclusion to Barclays Center’s “Kickoff In Brooklyn” series which also includes championship boxing (1/30/2014) and a match-up between the Brooklyn Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder (1/31/2014). CBS Radio SVP, strategic events and partnerships Amy Stevens says, “The intersection of sports and music is never bigger than during the weekend of the Super Bowl. Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American institution and rock ‘n’roll icons, and what better way to celebrate football’s championship than with this incredible lineup of artists for local fans and the thousands in New York from around the world.”
WFAN’s Mike Francesa to Exit YES Network. The New York TV simulcast of WFAN, New York’s Mike Francesa will end on January 31 after the current contract expires and WEPN-FM afternoon drive host Michael Kay’s program will take over the time slot on the Yankees-owned cable channel. The New York Daily News reports that the change was a financial matter and that CBS Radio was asking more for the rights to the program than YES wanted to pay. The Daily News piece speculates that cable’s Madison Square Garden Network may have the “inside track” with Francesa as he’s considered close to Garden management. The story also notes that fledgling cable channel CBS Sports Network, which is airing WFAN’s Boomer & Carton morning show, is not enticing to Francesa because he fears he’d have to change his content to appeal to the national audience.
Steak Added to WCNN Menu. In addition to existing members Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran, “The Front Row” on Dickey Broadcasting, Atlanta’s WCNN “Sports Radio 680 The Fan” will be comprised of Stephen “Steak” Shapiro as well. Formerly the 17-year host of “Mayhem in the AM” on Lincoln Financial Media’s crosstown WQXI “790 The Zone,” Shapiro has won numerous Georgia broadcasting awards and starts his daily 9:00 am – 12:00 noon assignment on January 2. WCNN president/general manager David Dickey comments, “I am excited to have ‘Steak’ back on ‘The Fan.’ He is one of the best-known and most-talented sports personalities in the country. ‘Steak’ will become an important part of what is already the region’s biggest and most-experienced sports-talk line-up. His homecoming is yet another example of Dickey Broadcasting’s ongoing commitment to invest in the best talent, the best content and the biggest partnerships.” Shapiro, who replaces Ray Mariner, adds, “‘The Fan’ gave me my start and is the reason I moved to Atlanta [from Boston] almost 20 years ago. I am ecstatic to be back doing what I love. ‘The Fan’ has been the number one sports talk station in the south for so many years. To be able to be a part of such a winning team with so many folks I have worked alongside in the past and consider friends is really thrilling.” Shapiro founded Big League Broadcasting in 1997 and was its president for roughly 14 years.
Dare to be Crap-Free. When it comes to online content, it’s easy to think you have a staffing problem or a time management problem or a resources problem, when what you really have is a crap problem. In a new column posted today (12/16) by noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, he writes, “There’s stuff on your site that is irrelevant to your station and is keeping people from finding what they DO want to find there. Your social media is probably influenced more by what everyone else is doing in social media, rather than what will cause your biggest fans to love you all the more.” To read how Chris Miller can help you get crap-free and focused on results for 2014, please click here.
Odds & Sods. Connecticut talk show host Mary Jones announces she’ll retire from Buckley Broadcasting-owned news/talk station WDRC-AM, Hartford as of December 23 in order to spend more time with her husband and enjoy winters in Florida. Jones tells TALKERS it was a big decision but she is excited about the change….. WMAL-AM/FM, Washington “Mornings on the Mall” co-host Larry O’Connor is doing some double duty during the holiday season. O’Connor will sub for WABC, New York-based Geraldo Rivera beginning December 20 through the end of the year (and the end of his national syndication run) and will also sit in for WestwoodOne-syndicated personality Dennis Miller on January 2 and 3 – the last two days of his 10:00 am to 1:00 pm airing (the show begins airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on 1/6)…..“Libertarian-conservative” media personality Wayne Allyn Root will be guest host on Cumulus Media Networks’ “Savage Nation” with Michael Savage from December 23 – 30. Root is author of The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide (Regnery 2013) and serves as a commentator on Fox News Channel and TheBlaze.
KSCO, Santa Cruz Personality Ethan Bearman’s Profile Rising. Talk radio personality and writer Ethan Bearman is getting more recognition in the Santa Cruz market as his locally focused talk show on Zwerling-owned KSCO, Santa Cruz grows in popularity. Recently, Bearman was a go-to media voice for a KION-TV news piece (captured here) on the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. View that video here. Also, Bearman, who has intensely covered the hot issue of dirty needles, trash and other refuse in the town’s parks that’s making it unsafe for people to use, was part of a clean-up crew that made the news for its work. Read about that issue in a piece in the Santa Cruz Patch here. Bearman is a visible example of a growing trend in news/talk radio in which talk hosts are eschewing monolithic political party doctrine and instead are approaching their programs on an issue-by-issue basis.
Hawkins Scores With CRN Special. Over the weekend (Saturday, 12/14), former NBA player Tommy Hawkins premiered his CRN Digital Talk Radio holiday special “We Wish You a Jazzy Christmas.” According to CRN chief executive officer Michael Horn, “‘We Wish You a Jazzy Christmas’ is filled with holiday-themed jazz music, along with Tommy’s infectious, warm personality. His love of jazz and the holidays combine for such a treat. It is the perfect accompaniment for an evening by a Christmas tree.” Following a standout collegiate career at Notre Dame (where he was a two-year All-American), Hawkins went on to play in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers and Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). He later became vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. For approximately 15 years beginning in 1970, “Hawk” was a staple on Los Angeles siblings KABC and KLOS. As part of his basketball-to-broadcasting transition Hawkins not only became KABC’s sports director, he also did “Sports Snorts” weekday mornings with remarkably talented Frazer Smith on KLOS. In addition to doing weekends on KKJZ “K-Jazz,” Los Angeles, Hawkins has written “Life’s Reflections: Poetry for the People.” His CRN special will play throughout the holiday season.
Over $120,000 Raised in KFXX Special Olympics Radio-thon. Entercom-owned sports outlet KFXX “1080 The Fan” afternoon drive (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) hosts Isaac Ropp (pictured here at left with some female fans) and Jason Scukanec (second from right) anchored the third annual 28-hour Special Olympics Oregon radio-thon, which brought in more than $120,000. Program director Jeff Austin comments, “We are proud to partner with Special Olympics Oregon. The overwhelming support of our station’s staff, our listeners, and advertisers was a testament to the bond Isaac and Suke have with their audience.” Scukanec (“Suke”) states, “We cannot thank our listeners enough – Portland is a special community and this is a very special cause. We talk about sports and high-powered athletes every day, but these Olympians are the real athletes. They are the real champions and we are privileged to honor their spirit and dedication.” Special Olympics Oregon chief development officer Kim Bergstrom adds, “We are honored to partner with [KFXX]. Isaac and Suke’s radio-thon helps raise funds to support year-round sports training and competition opportunities for thousands of individuals with intellectual disability. In addition, they generate immeasurable awareness of the importance of Special Olympics Oregon programs for athletes and their families.” This year’s $120,000 radio-thon total surpassed last year’s mark by more than $45,000.
Broadcast Electronics Bumps Up Bealor To President. Effective immediately, Broadcast Electronics executive vice president of product development Tim Bealor is upped to president of the Quincy, Illinois-based company. “I am honored to be asked to lead BE into its 55th year and the next phase of the company’s growth,” he comments. “Next year is going to be an exciting time for Broadcast Electronics and its customers.” Bealor began his Broadcast Electronics career as a technician in 1975. Over the past 38 years, he has held a variety of technical, support, product management, sales leadership, and marketing positions with the company.
Boston’s Radio Stations to Observe Moment of Silence on Monday. Boston radio stations are planning a moment of silence on Monday, April 22 to honor the victims of this week’s Boston Marathon bombing. The 60-second tribute will air at 2:50 p.m. – one week from the moment of the detonation of the first bomb – on local radio stations, including those owned by CBS Radio, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, Entercom and Greater Media. National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were impacted by the horrific act that took place in Boston. This moment of silence will serve as a time of reflection, honoring those lost and injured in this tragic event, and recognizing the countless acts of heroism and kindness that we saw on Monday and which continue today. As first informers in times of crisis, broadcasters want to take this opportunity to salute the first responders and the many unsung heroes who do so much during emergency situations.”
WFTL, Fort Lauderdale Talk Show Host Joyce Kaufman Honored at Hold Their Feet to the Fire. Some 50-plus radio talk show hosts from around the nation are gathered on Capitol Hill for the annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row designed to galvanize both citizen and media pressure upon lawmakers to take meaningful action on immigration policy in the United States. The event, organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), began yesterday and continues today (4/17-18) conveniently coinciding with the controversial Amnesty Bill currently being pushed through the U.S. Senate by the so-called “Gang of Eight.” Critics of the bill claim that it would have a disastrous effect upon this country’s already-dysfunctional immigration policy and deal yet another terrible blow to the American worker. The radio row is bringing several hundred guests including lawmakers, government officials, experts, law enforcement officers and border state ranchers to the airwaves of America. During the course of presentations at last evening’s cocktail reception at the event, WFTL, Fort Lauderdale talk show host and highly influential Florida political voice Joyce Kaufman (pictured here) was honored as the recipient of one of FAIR’s highest honors, the “We the People” award, for her longtime commitment to and measurable impact upon the immigration reform movement. Media industry and political observers have long recognized the leadership role conservative news/talk radio has played in the immigration reform movement and by the looks of things at this year’s rally this influence is continuing to be a significant factor in the issue.
Mr. Larson Goes to Washington. Compass Media Networks syndicated talk host Lars Larson – who’s also regionally syndicated in the Pacific Northwest from home base KXL, Portland – is pictured here (r) with Congressman Lou Barletta (l) at the “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row in Washington, DC. In addition to hosting both programs from Washington yesterday and today, Larson will head to affiliate WCHV, Charlottesville, Virginia to broadcast his programs on Friday, April 19.
Dr. Joy Browne Returns to NYC Airwaves. After more than two decades as a staple on New York City talk radio, Radio America-syndicated psychologist Dr. Joy Browne returns to the city’s airwaves on Access.1’s WWRL, New York beginning Monday, April 22. WWRL general manager Adriane Gaines comments, “We are very pleased that Dr. Joy Browne is joining the ‘RL lineup and bringing her on-air advice to our listeners. Joy’s unique blend of wisdom, balance and practical solutions to coping with life’s challenges has made her one of America’s leading clinical psychologists.” Radio America calls Dr. Joy Browne’s program “the longest running of its kind in syndication,” and reports it is airing on more than 125 stations across the country.
Odds & Sods. WGN, Chicago partners with the Illinois Department of Transportation to raise awareness for “Work Zone Safety Week.” The photo you see here is the Tribune Tower lit up in orange to help raise public awareness of the construction season and the need to drive safely to help save lives. The promotion also includes WGN’s Allstate Showcase Studio where three interactive kiosks positioned around the tower will accept safe driving pledges and photos that can be taken and shared with loved ones…..CNN Radio’s Emma Lacey-Bordeaux was honored by the Atlanta Press Club on Tuesday, April 16 with the 2012 Excellence Award for her digital/online reporting. Her body of work on Soundwaves, CNN Radio’s audio blog, was cited for the award with a specific call-out on a story about deportation and immigration reform…..WTOP, Washington was honored with six Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters Awards receiving a first place finish in every category it entered. In addition to being honored with Best Website for wtop.com, WTOP was also recognized with accolades in the Continuing Coverage category for “A Date with Sandy,” the Documentary/In-Depth category for “Battleground Virginia,” the Feature category for “Keeping the Drive-In Alive” and in the Editorial category for “Core Values.” The station was also awarded Meritorious in the Feature category for “Commuter Idle.”…..Salt Lake Community College’s The Grand Theatre will be the broadcast site for KUER public radio’s presentation of NPR’s “Science Friday” on April 19, 2013. The live broadcast will be heard by more than 1.3 million listeners via hundreds of public radio stations across the United States. Randall Irmis, Brooks Britt, and science writer Brian Switek will discuss paleontology during the show’s first hour. Irmis is an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah and the curator of paleontology for the Natural History Museum of Utah. Brooks Britt is an associate professor of geological science at Brigham Young University. He is the former director of the Stewart Museum in Odgen, Utah and the curator of paleontology for the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction, Colorado. Brian Switek is a science writer whose new book My Beloved Brontosaurus was released on April 16 by Scientific American & Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Smerconish Continues SiriusXM Show Launch Blitz. During the first week of his new program on SiriusXM’s POTUS channel, talk media personality Michael Smerconish (r) is moving full-steam ahead promoting the switch. He’s pictured here in the Washington, DC studios of SiriusXM with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (l) discussing – what else? – the public relations issues the two believe the Republican party is having dealing with the Obama Administration and the electorate. That wasn’t the only issue the two discussed but Smerconish and Matthews spent a good portion of their time analyzing the Republican party of today and comparing with the Republican part of the Ronald Reagan era. Smerconish’s new program airs from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. He left AM/FM radio, including home base WPHT, Philadelphia to join the satcaster.
NJBA President Paul Rotella Responds to Smerconish in Letter to Philly Inquirer. In a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer addressing talk show host Michael Smerconish’s exit from WPHT and move to Sirius Satellite Radio – which Smerconish writes about here — , New Jersey Broadcasters Association president Paul Rotella responds to that editorial expressing “dismay that a former broadcaster could have such ‘sour grapes’ for the industry that has given him some fame and probably some fortune.” Rotella goes on to say that broadcast radio is the standard by which “successful radio broadcasters judge their achievements. Look at Ryan Seacrest, Rush Limbaugh, and so many other radio superstars. They have managed to create vast audience niches that exemplify their talent…they didn’t have to run away from the dial.” No word if the paper will print Rotella’s piece.
Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Immigration Legislation, Gun Law Proposals, and Ricin Letters Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/17). The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing; proposals for new immigration legislation – including amnesty to illegal aliens; proposed gun laws and the defeat of an amendment to extend background checks to gun shows and internet sales that was defeated in the Senate; and the ricin-tainted letters sent to Washington, DC were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Civil Disobedience Nets Host Jail Sentence. TALKERS Heavy Hundred member Ian Freeman, co-host of the nationally syndicated talk show “Free Talk Live,” didn’t set out to spend 59 days in jail — but he believes so strongly in what he talks about on the air and how he lives his life that that’s exactly what he did. Freeman served 59 days of a 90-day jail sentence (he got early release for good behavior) for obstructing a police officer who was arresting a young woman for an open container violation in Keene, New Hampshire. Many talk show hosts have strong beliefs and “walk the walk,” but as someone who believes the government is too invasive in people’s lives (and positions his show as a reflection of that philosophy), Freeman makes a habit out of protesting police enforcement of victimless crimes. He says the authorities in the New England community in which the national show is based see him as “a leader of people with such beliefs” and that’s why he believes a judge gave him a 360-day sentence with 270 days suspended. Facing the consequences of his commitment was not only personally challenging, but professionally as well. Freeman tells TALKERS being away from the show for 58 programs left co-host Mark Edge to handle the nightly broadcast with the help of guest co-hosts. Most programs would be in trouble if their lead personality were gone for that period of time. Freeman, who created the program, says the unique nature of “Free Talk Live” is that it’s not the “Mark and Ian” show. He explains, “I didn’t want it to be a show about the personalities as much as it is about the ideas and the concept of open phones and a pro-liberty discussion forum…the idea of the show has always been to have it be able to continue in my or Mark’s absence.” Freeman says that they have a great crew of friends and volunteers who helped Mark Edge during his time in jail and even though it was Edge’s first time sitting in the “first chair,” he’s heard nothing but good things about how the show went in his absence. “We didn’t lose any affiliates while I was gone.” In fact, Freeman says he had the opportunity to hear the show from jail on a local affiliate and had his first real opportunity to hear it as a program director instead of as a part of the show. He even phoned in on the hotline from jail once or twice with programming advice! Freeman tells TALKERS he certainly does not want to spend more time in jail but that won’t change how he handles the show or his own life. “I still firmly believe that more people need to practice civil disobedience and non-cooperation. I agree with the oft-cited statement that ‘all that’s needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’ I just can’t sit idly by and watch as my peaceful neighbors continue to be caged for all manner of nonsense – whether it be an RV being parked in their yard, smoking a marijuana cigarette, drinking a little bit of beer – whatever…I can’t get on the air with listeners and advocate non-cooperation with the government if I’m not willing to do it myself. That would make me feel like a hypocrite.” “Free Talk Live” is a formidable independently syndicated national show with an impressive growth trend heard on 109 affiliates across the country on stations as disparate as conservative news/talk WSPD, Toledo and progressive talk outlet WXXM-FM, Madison. In these days of both civil disobedience and peaceful demonstrations erupting on the streets of America and the fracturing of the rigid left/right political categories prevalent within the news/talk radio landscape, it stands out as an important emerging talk media industry entity.
WWRL, New York Broadcasts from ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protest. Access.1 Communications’ WWRL, New York is broadcasting from the heart of the ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest in Manhattan. WWRL morning drive host Mark Riley is broadcasting his program this morning (10/10) from 6:00 am to 9:00 am from Zuccotti Park on Liberty Street between Trinity Place and Broadway. Rev. Al Sharpton’s nationally syndicated program will also broadcast from the same location from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm today. WWRL general manager Adriane Gaines states, “We feel it is particularly important to expand the platform for ‘RL’s culturally diverse audience by being on site of this historic movement.” The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement began on September 17 and continues to be a major story on talk radio.
Cumulus Promotes WJR, Detroit GM to Market Manager. Tom O’Brien is upped from his GM post at news/talk WJR, Detroit to market manager for the Cumulus properties in the Motor City that include music FMs WDVD and WDRQ. Regional vice president of Cumulus Midwest Scott Meier says, “Tom has absolutely earned this promotion! He’s led WJR to a new standard and has embraced the Cumulus Sales Operating System with a vision of incremental growth.” O’Brien has served as GM of WJR since February of this year.
Entertainment Radio Network (ERN) Partners with eBay Motors for Expanded Online Distribution. In what is being described as “the first of many new programming and distribution opportunities” that the company is identifying for 2012 and beyond, Entertainment Radio Network, the Oregon-based syndicator of specialty shows covering primarily automotive, consumer electronics, popular science and technology subjects, announces its distribution partnership with eBay Motors, one of the internet’s leading automotive destinations. Effective immediately, all ERN shows will be distributed through the modJOBS site on the eBayMotors.com landing page to 14 million unique visitors per month. modJOBS is also supported via social media links to Facebook and Twitter. ERN president (and former ABC Radio Networks EVP) John McConnell tells TALKERS, “eBay Motors has an extraordinary audience – nearly one billion page views per month. I believe this kind of distribution is very much a part of radio’s future and we are thrilled that Entertainment Radio Network is the first to be working with eBay Motors new audio programming initiative. We are all accustomed to talking about TSL (time spent listening), but now get ready to consider stickiness as well – eBay Motors’ average shopper spends 35 minutes per day online, often with credit cards at the ready.” McConnell recently joined ERN CEO (and on air personality) Alan Taylor as president and a partner in the company.
CBS Radio and NFL’s Houston Texans Sign Long-Term Extension. CBS Radio’s sports KILT, Houston and country KILT-FM will remain the flagship stations for Houston Texans football for many years to come as the team and CBS agree to a long-term extension of their deal. Texans football has been affiliated with KILT for the past 10 seasons.
Andy Greenberg Begins Local TV Segment Based on Radio Feature. KFAB, Omaha-based motivational radio personality Andy Greenberg – host of “Your Weekend HIgh with Andy Greenberg” – is now appearing on KPTM-TV, Omaha on the Sunday evening broadcast beginning October 16. Greenberg transitioned to his current role as a speaker, trainer and broadcaster after 35 years in the sales and marketing business. He says, “I am thrilled to be part of the Fox 42 Sunday Night News broadcasts that continue the Fox tradition of broadcasting innovations and have been the forefront and hallmark of the network and its affiliates.”
Salem Radio Network Celebrates Talk Format with “SRN Talk-Tober Month” Promotion. Rock radio fans certainly remember the “rocktober” moniker assigned to the 10th month of the year on many AOR stations back in the day. Now, Salem Radio Network honors the talk radio format in its own way declaring it “SRN Talk-Tober Month” and Irving, Texas Mayor Beth Van Duyne joins the celebration by issuing a proclamation in honor of the Irving-based syndicator and all talk radio serving the metro area. As part of the proclamation, Van Duyne states, “The talk radio industry in North Texas includes a number of talk radio stations including KSKY; WBAP-AM/FM; KRLD; and KLIF which strive to promote a free and open exchange of opinions on the premise that City of Irving residents and others throughout the area have the right to exercise free speech.”