Tag: "advertisers"

Talk Must Expand Beyond Politics to Survive

| November 19, 2012

By Doug Stephan
Stephan MultiMeda


FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Reading the statements by Spencer Brown at Dial Global about what has happened to the advertising agencies’ attitudes toward controversial programming gives me cause to want to add my perspective as an independent producer with almost 25 years of syndicated radio experience…pretty much the same amount of time as Rush Limbaugh.

First and foremost, I’m a champion of and cheerleader for the format.  But what is represented here is the same quandary that faces the Republican Party…relevance.

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Your Target Demographic: Not a Number

| July 23, 2012

By Holland Cooke
News/Talk Specialist

BLOCK ISLAND, RI – FAQ from talk talent: “What’s our target demographic?”

Two-part answer:

1. NOT 25-54.  Recently-published Nielsen data affirms what you may have suspected all-along: The vaunted 25-54 demo is malarkey:

• Although only 5% of ad dollars are aimed at ‘em, 35-64 accounts for half of product purchases.

• Baby Boomers – 80 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — account for roughly half of all packaged-good sales, almost $230 billion.  In five years, they’ll control 70% of the USA’s disposable income.

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Sean Hannity Keynote Address at the TALKERS magazine New Media Seminar NYC 2012

| June 18, 2012

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.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

| March 7, 2012

The FCC and You.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq. presents the first in a series of articles as an abridgement of a forthcoming e-book detailing the crucial, 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 the first of seven installments and share it with their management teams.  Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon.  In today’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the license renewal process.  Read more here.

The Rush Limbaugh Fallout for All Talk Radio Is Advertiser Nervousness.  Almost a week into the Rush LimbaughSandra Fluke controversy the consumer media, politicians and even the media trades to some extent are still awash in writing about Limbaugh’s mistake, the coarsening of our media political discourse and even allegations that conservative talk radio, apparently, hates women.  But TALKERS is hearing reports from ad rep firms that are more alarming – especially in these already shaky economic times.  That is that major advertisers are issuing yet another round of “no controversial programming” dictates.  This is not a new problem for talk radio and the recent Limbaugh case is likely only to add fuel to a fire that’s been simmering for the past 20 years.  While no laws were broken by Rush Limbaugh, advertisers who fear backlash from activists, parent’s organizations and other groups – even though talk hosts with loyal followings that are likely to buy their products or services help sell those products or services very successfully – don’t want to risk bad PR, protester harassment or outright boycotts from being associated with a “controversial” talk media figure.  They reason that there may be many more customers of theirs whom they don’t want to alienate who don’t listen to “controversial” talk radio, so they shy away from the genre altogether.  The bigger challenge facing talk radio right now is not defending its programming, but selling it in this turbulent climate.

Ohio State Representative Circulates Petition to Remove Rush Limbaugh from Station.  Democratic State Representative Robert F. Hagen is circulating a petition around the Youngstown, Ohio area to submit to station WKBN, Youngstown asking that Premiere Networks talk host Rush Limbaugh be removed from the station’s lineup, according to Vindy.com.  The online petition seeks 2,000 signatures before being presented to WKBN management and is less than 200 away from that mark as of this morning.  While many politicians at the state and national level have weighed in on the Limbaugh controversy, Hagen is the first TALKERS is aware of who is using his status as a politician to take action in attempting to coerce an affiliate station into making a programming decision.

Cumulus Birmingham and Paul Finebaum Have March 30 Court Date.  Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has scheduled a March 30 hearing to discuss WJOX-FM, Birmingham sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s motion to dismiss counterclaims by Cumulus against him, reports the Birmingham Business Journal.  Finebaum and Cumulus are suing each other for breach of contract.  Cumulus’ countersuit claims Finebaum – in violation of his contract – entered into negotiations with a competing broadcasting company and shared proprietary information with said organization.  Also, earlier this week Cumulus attorneys filed a motion to block Finebaum’s subpoena of Cumulus for testimony in the suit by arguing that it did not own the Citadel stations when the dispute began.

Merlin Media Closes on WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey.  Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media closes on the $22.5 million purchase of WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey from Harold Camping’s Family Stations.  It is widely believed that Merlin will bring some spoken-word format to the Philadelphia market – probably an all-news outlet in the image of its New York and Chicago stations.  Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host – and Philadelphia native – Al Gardner is reported to be programming the new venture.

KNBR, San Francisco Renews Play-by-Play Deal with the Giants Through 2018.  San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer and Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey appeared on the “Murph & Mac Show” on sports KNBR, San Francisco yesterday to announce a new, seven-year contract to keep Giants baseball on the station.  Dickey stated,On behalf of our loyal listeners and valued clients, we are pleased to announce a new seven year partnership with one of the greatest brands in all of sports.  We are excited to continue KNBR’s 34-year run with the Giants with the addition of compelling new content designed to bring the fans even closer to the action both on and off the field with exclusive reporting.”  The deal includes the pre-game “Kruk & Kuip Show,” the “Post-Game Wrap” and other Giants content throughout the year.

SiriusXM Brings Sports Journalist John Feinstein to Mad Dog Radio Channel.  Satellite broadcaster SiriusXM announces a new program co-hosted by renowned sports journalist John Feinstein and Bruce Murray called “Beyond the Brink” to air daily from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the Mad Dog Radio channel.  Murray has been hosting the midday show at Mad Dog Radio solo.  Feinstein is author of best-sellers A Season on the Brink – detailing a season with Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers – and A Good Walk Spoiled – chronicling a year on the PGA golf tour.  The program debuts Thursday live from the ACC basketball tournament.  SiriusXM states the two will cover the spectrum of sports on their show, interviewing high-profile guests, debating topics and talking with callers nationwide about the headline stories of the day.  Feinstein says of the new program, “I’ve always enjoyed doing radio because it gives you a chance to talk in detail on a lot of different topics and the chance to do it on SiriusXM on a daily basis with an old friend like Bruce is something I’m really looking forward to taking on.  I’m really grateful to SiriusXM for giving me this opportunity and I think this is going to be a lot of fun.”

Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh Controversy, Super Tuesday GOP Primaries, U.S.-Israel Relations/Iran Threat, Ponzi Scheme Verdict, and Hacker Ring Busted Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/6).  The ongoing aftermath of the Sandra FlukeRush Limbaugh controversy; the Super Tuesday GOP primaries; the meeting between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear weapons threat; the verdict in the world’s largest Ponzi scheme trial; and a global hacker ring busted with help from its leader were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.

Chicago Media Community Mourns Death of John Madigan.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder writes an excellent piece on John Madigan’s place in Chicago media.  Read it here.  Madigan worked in newspapers, radio and TV and spent part of his career at WBBM, Chicago as political editor.  He was part of the team that led the station’s transition to all-news.  He passed away recently in Florida at age 94 after complications from a stroke.

On the Road in Long Beach.  KLAC, Los Angeles-based Fox Sports Radio Network hosts Matt “Money” Smith (l) and Petros Papadakis (r) are pictured here at their “Just Because It’s Friday” remote broadcast from Cirivello’s Sports Stop in Long Beach, California.  The event drew nearly 500 listeners and featured special guests including Long Beach State head basketball coach Dan Monson, college basketball analyst/former college basketball coach Bruce Pearl plus Petros’ father and former USC linebacker John Papadakis.  Giveaways included the first-ever “Petros and Money” t-shirt, Matt Kemp baseball bats, signed Magic Johnson and Howie Kendrick photos, a Diamondback bike, and an all-inclusive trip to Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training in Glendale, Arizona.  The broadcast was backed by local band Brewfish pictured behind the hosts.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

| March 6, 2012

Progressive Talk Stars Stephanie Miller and Bill Press Become Featured Current TV Content.  The progressive cable and satellite TV channel founded by former Vice President Al Gore is adding Dial Global radio talk show hosts Stephanie Miller and Bill Press to its lineup.  Miller’s and Press’ programs will be simulcasts of their radio shows – Miller airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET and Press from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET – beginning early this spring.  In a statement, Current TV chairman Al Gore says, “I’ve followed Stephanie and Bill for years.  They provide the kind of smart, insightful news analysis that our viewers want to hear.  Bill brings a vital perspective directly from the heart of the Beltway, and Stephanie’s fresh take on politics and news has a decidedly outsider flair.  We’re really looking forward to bringing their voices to our viewers.”  WYD Media president Ron Hartenbaum, executive producer of Stephanie Miller’s program, says, “We at ‘The Stephanie Miller Show’ are excited to participate in another radio-based video simulcast program.  The bottom line is entertaining talk radio makes great and engaging tune-in programming for video.”  Other political talk shows seen on Current TV include: “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur,” and “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm.”

Rush Limbaugh Addresses Sandra Fluke Issue, Loss of Advertisers at Beginning on Monday Program.  Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Rush Limbaugh began yesterday’s program speaking about his apology issued over the weekend to Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke for using the terms “slut” and “prostitute” to describe her.  Limbaugh stated that he “descended to their level” – meaning liberal political opponents – when he used the two words.  “I became like them and I feel very badly about that.  I’ve always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program.  Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate.  They were uncalled for.  They distracted from the point I was actually trying to make.  And I, again, apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her.”  Limbaugh addressed the loss of advertisers without going into specifics but appeared not overly concerned about the matter stating he turns down advertising on his program regularly for various reasons and said companies advertise with him to have access to his large audience – that everything about the program is for the audience.  Without the audience, Limbaugh said the whole enterprise would be academic.  Limbaugh slapped back at exiting advertisers a bit when he said, “They don’t want you or your business.”  We don’t expect Premiere Networks to announce which advertisers have dropped their advertising – whether temporary or permanent – but it’s being reported that as many as 13 sponsors have left but eight are being widely reported: Carbonite, Citrix, Go To Meeting, Legal Zoom, Pro Flowers, Select Comfort, Sleep Train and Quicken Loans.  For her part, Sandra Fluke appeared on ABC TV’s “The View” and said of Limbaugh’s apology, “I don’t think that a statement like this issued, saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything, and especially when that statement is issued when he’s under significant pressure from his sponsors who have begun to pull their support.”  So far, two affiliate stations are confirmed to have dropped Limbaugh’s show as a result: KPUA, Hilo, Hawaii and WBEC, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Progressive Talk Host Mike Malloy Mocks Tornado Victims on Radio Program.   Longtime progressive talk host Mike Malloy self-syndicates his program and in some quarters he’s taking heat for mocking the victims of the tornados that swept through the Midwest late last week.  Malloy is quoted by several sources on his Friday program saying, “Their God, if this is the way they want to look at it, keeps smashing them into little grease spots on the pavement, in Alabama, in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma – you know, the Bible Belt…where they ain’t gonna let no g*dd*mn science get in the way, it says in the bible, blah blah blah, so according to their way of thinking, y’know, God with his omnipotent thumb, and so far tonight, has smashed so far 20 people on Highway 12, or whatever the hell highway they live next to.”  With the controversy being raised by Rush Limbaugh overshadowing the consumer media, it’s unlikely Malloy’s comments – which could certainly be deemed insensitive to the people affected by the storms – will get enough attention to catch the national media’s eyes.  There’s also the fact that Limbaugh’s program is dominating in terms of presence and Malloy’s is not.  Regardless, there are media analysts who are pointing to the use of hyperbole, name calling and insensitive language as a sign that more civility is needed in America’s public discourse.

Compass Media Networks to Syndicate Bob Vila Radio Features.  Iconic home improvement figure Bob Vila and Compass Media Networks are agreeing to work together to distribute daily home improvement features voiced by Vila exclusively for radio beginning May 1.  Of course, Vila is well known for his television programs – “This Old House(1979-1989), “Bob Vila’s Home Again” (1990-2005), and “Bob Vila” (2005-2007).  He now heads up his own home improvement site, BobVila.com.  Vila says of the venture, “Radio offers an incredible opportunity to connect with the American homeowner.”  Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says the project hopes to take advantage of the nearly $112 billion spent annually on home improvement.  “Bob Vila is truly an American treasure.  Radio stations and advertisers will leap at the chance to associate their brands with Bob Vila.”

Cumulus Media Partners with Radiate Media to Produce National Traffic Reporting Service.  The combined effort is going to be called “Right Now Traffic” and will be available to stations in April in the top 75 markets.  The reports will be powered by the world’s largest traffic flow network, which includes government sensors, toll tag monitoring and billions of GPS data points.  Radiate Media’s premier traffic data comes in part from Nokia (formerly NAVTEQ) – a source also used for GPS navigation devices, in-vehicle navigation systems, mobile devices and hundreds of radio and television stations.  Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey states, “We’re excited about launching ‘Right Now Traffic’ with Radiate Media.  Americans are spending more than 1,000 hours per year in their cars.  Our listeners, advertisers and network affiliates all demand accurate and timely traffic information and this partnership enables us to address that need with a best-in-class service.”

Dial Global Amps Up Producers Department for Programming.  Dial Global promotes Scot Kirk to the newly created position senior production director and brings James Harness aboard as a producer.  The company says Kirk will oversee the creative direction and imaging for all of Dial Global-owned formats, shows and programs.  Both Kirk and Harness will be located in Valencia, California and report directly to VP Programming, David Felker.  EVP of programming Beau Phillips says, “Since merging with Westwood One, Dial Global now produces a tremendous amount of content.  While our programming sounds strong, we’re investing in producers who will set the vision and boost the quality across all DG products.”  Scot Kirk brings more than two decades of radio production expertise to his new role, including positions at Jones Radio Networks, KISW-FM and KMTT-FM in Seattle, and KXPK-FM in Denver before joining Dial Global in 2009.  James Harness is best known for guiding the creative imaging for KROQ-FM in Los Angeles as well as 92.3 NOW, WXRK-FM and FREE-FM in New York.

Salem Radio Network Holds Urgent Drive for Help for Tornado Victims.  The talk hosts syndicated nationally by Salem Radio NetworkBill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Janet Mefferd, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt – mounted a daylong appeal yesterday (3/5) to gather donations for food, blankets and other essentials for the people of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and the other states affected by the tornados that swept through the region over the weekend.  The storms caused dozens of deaths and millions of dollars worth of destruction.  Oklahoma City-based FEED THE CHILDREN is facilitating and administering the aid.

Sirius XM Beefs Up Election Programming on POTUS Channel.  The satcaster ramps up its 2012 presidential election coverage with new programming on its Politics of the United States – POTUS – channel.  “Showdown 2012” will air Thursdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm with veteran White House and Washington, D.C. correspondents including Jon Decker, Chris Core, Dick Uliano and Louise Schiavone.  “CQ Roll Call” airs Wednesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by CQ Roll Call senior editor Morton Kondracke, editor David Hawkings, and others.  “The Flacks” airs Mondays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by veteran communications strategists and MSNBC political analysts Karen Finney and Robert Traynham.

Money Radio 1200 Debuts in Palm Springs.  CRC Media West’s KPSF, Palm Springs financial talk radio outlet signed on yesterday (3/5).  The station was constructed by CRC Media West principals Ronald Cohen and Brian DuBose and modeled after the company’s “Money Radio” outlet serving the Phoenix market.  The Palm Springs station features a mix of syndicated and local/regional programming.

WTOP, Washington, DC Names Washington Regional Transplant Community Charity of the Month.  The Hubbard Broadcasting media organization says that as part of WTOP’s ‘Charity of the Month’ program, Washington Regional Transplant Community will receive more than $30,000 in free air time and in-kind contributions, including on-air promotions, as well as content on WTOP’s social media platforms and on WTOP.com throughout the month.  The WRTC serves as the federally-designated organ procurement organization (OPO) for the Washington metropolitan area.  As one of 58 OPOs nationwide, WRTC is the organization that facilitates all deceased organ, eye and tissue donation in our area, serving more than five million residents.  WTOP public relations and marketing specialist Robin Newton says, “WTOP is proud to support Washington Regional Transplant Community during the month of March.  WRTC has a direct effect on the health of our local community and helping them means strengthening an invaluable resource for our neighbors.  Our hope is to spread awareness and garner attention for their work.”


Monday, March 5, 2012

| March 5, 2012

Limbaugh Clarifies Controversial Remarks and Apologizes to Sandra Fluke.  Facing mounting critical and advertiser pressure in the aftermath of his harsh commentary about law student Sandra Fluke and her testimony before Congress about birth control (see Friday’s story below), Premiere Networks host Rush Limbaugh has issued the following statement and apology on Saturday evening: “For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation.  I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.  I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.  I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.  What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?  Where do we draw the line?  If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?  In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a presidential level.  My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.  I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”  There has been no official word from Premiere Networks on advertisers leaving Limbaugh’s program but numerous media reports are indicating that advertisers Sleep Train, Select Comfort, ProFlowers, Quicken Loans, Citrix Systems, Carbonite and Legal Zoom have pulled their ads from the program.  NBC News is reporting an e-mail from Select Comfort spokeswoman Gabby Nelson states, “Due to recent commentary by Rush Limbaugh that does not align with our values, we’ve made the decision to immediately suspend all advertising on that program.”  According to ABC News, ProFlowers said Sunday on its Facebook page that it has suspended advertising on Limbaugh’s program because his comments about Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke “went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company.”

Threat of Lawsuit Against Limbaugh Raises Legal Questions for Broadcasters.  With Rush Limbaugh’s apology to Sandra Fluke in the rear view mirror, Fluke has told the consumer press she is entertaining the idea of suing Limbaugh for his words against her.  Those citizens sympathetic to Fluke (and Democratic politicians willing to use the assault on Fluke as a sort of symbol for all that is wrong with talk media) would like to see a Fluke suit succeed.  But TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says a case against Limbaugh is a bit murky due to Fluke’s status in the public eye.  Weisman reminds us that the Supreme Court has protected journalists commenting on matters of public concern.  “Since the landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan, it has been recognized that public officials could not successfully sue for defamation unless it could be proven that the journalist acted with actual malice – that is that he or she was aware that what he or she was saying was a lie, or a reckless disregard for the truth.”  In that decision Justice Brennan even wrote there is a “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”  But Sandra Fluke is not a public official, is she?  No, but Weisman says, “The Supreme Court has refined the standard to make distinctions between involuntary public figures – those who are always public figures – and people such as Sandra Fluke who are public figures on specific issues.  As a limited-purpose public figure, Sandra Fluke has, by testifying, put herself into a position where she can be criticized and commented upon in regard to her stated positions with journalists feeling secure that they can make mistakes in commenting about her testimony without legal liability.”  But Weisman says that doesn’t necessarily mean clear sailing for Limbaugh should Fluke proceed with legal action.  “The extent of Limbaugh’s comments could be considered, however, to be beyond the permissible when dealing with a limited-purpose public figure.  Alternatively, it also could be considered that Limbaugh’s comments could be considered to be indefensible even using the lower standard presented by the malice test because his comments could be interpreted as having been made with malice – that is he knew they were false – or made with a reckless disregard for the truth.  Thus there may be some significant liability on Limbaugh’s part in regard to libelous comments that he made about Fluke.  Limbaugh may argue that his actions were not to be considered as literal and that they were merely hyperbole.  He may also argue in his defense that no one would believe what he said to be accurate which might be a fascinating defense that could ultimately hurt him overall more than losing a defamation claim.”

Accurate Analysis of Talk Media Necessary Before Piling on Conservative Commentators.  Consumers – and to some extent industry insiders – have been more than willing to condemn conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh (and KFI, Los Angeles’ John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on the regional level) for language that some may say is, at the very least, not civil.  But columnist, Fox News Channel analyst and former Clinton Administration official Kirsten Powers writes that liberals may need to clean up their own house before judging Rush Limbaugh.  In her piece, “Rush Limbaugh Isn’t the Only Media Misogynist” published by the Daily Beast, Powers calls it a “war on women” and states, “Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.”  In the piece, Powers illustrates that liberal political and social commentators have made very similar comments as Rush Limbaugh without liberal groups batting an eye at their transgressions.  Powers writes about Bill Maher, “But the grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher – who also happens to be a favorite of liberals – who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC.  Maher has called Palin a ‘dumb twat’ and dropped the C-word in describing the former Alaska governor.”  This raises several interesting points.  First, yes, Sarah Palin is a politician and not an innocent 30-year-old law student.  See TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman’s analysis of that in the piece above.  Second, many see what Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh do for a living as very different.  But that’s really not so.  Both are entertainers who comment on social and political issues.  It’s true that Maher operates on pay cable and Limbaugh on free, over-the-air radio, but there have been no FCC regulations violated in this case so that comparison is moot.  Ultimately what’s very possible the entertainment industry – of which talk media is a part – is seeing is a groundswell of public support for a more civil tone in the nation’s public discourse, even when that discourse comes to them through the vehicle of entertainment.

KFI’s John and Ken to Undergo Cultural Sensitivity Training.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles issued a “Memorandum to the Los Angeles Community” in the wake of the John and Ken-Whitney Houston episode that cost the duo a seven-day suspension.  The seven-point memo signed by market manager Greg Ashlock, program director Robin Bertolucci and marketing director Neil Saavedra includes assurance that John Koblyt, Ken Chiampou and “key staff and management” will “participate in cultural sensitivity training furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California.”

Emmis to Make Case to Avoid Delisting.  Six months ago Emmis Communications received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC its stock had to regain compliance with the $1 minimum bid rule in order to continue to be traded on the market.  In a Friday SEC filing, Emmis stated, “The Company has requested a hearing before the Panel, which will stay any delisting action in connection with the Staff Determination and allow the continued listing of the Company’s Class A Common Stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market until the Panel renders a decision subsequent to the hearing.  At the hearing, the Company intends to present a plan to regain compliance with the Rule and request that the Panel allow the Company additional time within which to regain compliance.  While the Company believes that it will be able to present a viable plan to regain compliance, there can be no assurance that the Panel will grant the Company’s request for continued listing on The Nasdaq Global Select Market, or that the Company’s plans to exercise diligent efforts to maintain the listing of its securities on Nasdaq will be successful.”  That chance to plead its case could come by tomorrow.

Radio Pro Paul Barsky Joins WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale for PM Drive.  Paul Barsky has worked extensively in the Philadelphia market at music outlets WMMR-FM, WYSP-FM and WPLY-FM and in other markets as well.  Now he’s holding down the PM drive shift at James Crystal’s WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale following lead-in talk star Joyce Kaufman.

WGN, Chicago Whittles “Cubs Song” Entries Down to Three.  Tribune’s WGN, Chicago is holding a contest for the “next great Cubs song” to be played before each broadcast of Chicago Cubs play-by-play on the station.  It solicited more than 300 entries since the contest was announced and has winnowed that down to the final three: “Cubs Win” by 17 Candle, “Let’s Go Cubbies” by The Fold, and “Rockin’ Right at Wrigley” by Derrick Procell.  Now it’s up to voters to hit the WGN website to vote on their favorite.  The winner will be announced by AM drive host Jonathon Brandmeier on March 16 and the song will be played live during Brandmeier’s Opening Day broadcast on April 5 from the Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field.