Tag: "Alex Bennett"
Raising the Digital Frontier Bar One “Great American Broadcast” at a Time
By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
NEW YORK — The one thing you can never say is that Alex Bennett is not ahead of his time. Bennett can stake a claim to the fact he may be the only one who has successfully climbed the ladder from the smallest of radio markets to the top market in terrestrial radio, worked on the air as a talk host on satellite radio, and have made the transition to the audio and video digital frontier in a way nobody else has. It also appears that being 73-years young, he has no plans to hang up his headphones or power down his bandwidth anytime soon.
Bennett was born in 1939, when NBC’s Red Network had an affiliate in Havana, Cuba, and a few months before radio shows like “Truth or Consequences” and “The Adventures of Superman” debuted on the air. Much like those “firsts,” Bennett would soon prepare to venture into radio and create a few “firsts” of his own.
Clear Channel Faces Suit by Photo Company Alleging Illegal Use. National Photo Group LLC has filed a complaint in United States District Court Western District of Texas alleging Clear Channel radio stations infringed on its copyrights by using pictures of various celebrities on the websites of some of its radio stations. The complaint names 11 CC radio stations and alleges photos of celebrities including Jason Aldean, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore and others were used without permission and with knowledge that the photos were copyrighted. NPG is seeking $150,000 per infringement plus legal fees and any other relief the Court deems just and proper.
WCBM, Baltimore Extends Talk Host Tom Marr’s Contract Through 2017. Baltimore talk radio institution Tom Marr will be heard on WCBM through 2017 as the station’s vice president, Nick Mangione. Jr., announces the station extends his no-cut contract for another four years. The official announcement was made June 24 by WCBM program director and operations manager Sean Casey at the start of Marr’s show that day. Mangione, Jr. states, “I am delighted we have reached the agreement on the extension. To quote my late father, Tom is still at the top of his game both as a broadcaster in general and talk show host in particular. We are delighted he will be on the air until 2017 with WCBM and he just may decide to stay longer. There will always be room for him in the WCBM family. Tom has a good sense for the business. As an example, he is the first one to suggest that we add both Sean Hannity and Mark Levin to our lineup. Tom has a large following within the reach of our 50 thousand watt transmitter and is building a solid national and international following on WCBM’s worldwide reach via the internet.” Marr, who began his career as a high school sports broadcaster on WWDC-AM, Washington, DC in 1960, says, “I am deeply honored that Nick and the Mangione Family Enterprises agreed to the extension. I look forward to the challenges ahead for talk radio and its increasing role in the media especially in view of our relationship with the digital world.”
WBZ-AM, Boston Names Jen Brien Overnight Talk Host. After the retirement of Steve LeVeille last year, the station has been featuring a number of talk radio personalities in the overnight slot. Now, program director Peter Casey announces Jennifer “Jen” Brien is named to the permanent position. The station says the program “will be a mix of pop culture, current events, politics, and the comings and goings of people in New England.” In addition to WBZ-AM’s monster signal that penetrates the entire East Coast at that time of night, the show can be heard on CBS Radio’s Radio.com. Brien joined WBZ from Entercom’s crosstown news/talk WRKO where she hosted a daily program. She has also hosted shows on WPRO and WHJJ in Providence, and WCOD and WXTK on Cape Cod. Before beginning her career in radio, Brien spent more than five years as a soldier in the United States Army where she was selected for the prestigious “Soldier of the Year” award.
SiriusXM Cancels Long-Running Alex Bennett Show. One of modern talk radio’s true pioneers, Alex Bennett, has reportedly been let go “without cause” from SiriusXM Satellite Radio‘s “Sirius Left” channel where he was doing the daily 7:00 am to 10:00 am program. Bennett has been with Sirius for almost a decade and, according to insiders close to the host, was caught by surprise and is “distraught” over what transpired. Bennett has had a colorful, unique on-air career that goes back to the late-1960s when he was the lone talk show host on the old WMCA, New York when it was still the “Home of the Good Guys.” He subsequently went on to do both rock music and talk broadcasting serving as one of the original prototypes for the pop culture-oriented (some call it “shock jock”) and “progressive” genres of modern day talk radio. Between WMCA and Sirius, he served in ground-breaking stints at such great stations as WPLJ in New York and KMEL, KITS (“Live 105″) and KQAK (“The Quake”) in San Francisco. At press time, it is not clear if this was a cost-cutting move on the part of Sirius or indicative of a re-direction in programming. Bennett is still on the air and is reportedly doing his final program for the satellite radio service this Friday. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “In my opinion Alex Bennett is one of the most important talents ever to grace a microphone during my lifetime. His show on WMCA — in which he did extremely progressive talk about the issues of the day such as the Vietnam War – was on a station that was otherwise a hip music station. In the midst of all the fun, cool hipness of the rock ‘n’ roll and the zany DJs of that fabulous station, Bennett was fearlessly talking to the kids about extremely important controversial issues. That show served as the original inspiration for me to launch an issues-oriented talk show (“Harrison’s Mic”) five years later on rocker KMET in Los Angeles and my own talk career that paralleled my music radio work. If I had not heard Alex Bennett in 1969, there might not have ever been a TALKERS magazine.”
HOLLAND COOKE: The Future of AM/FM in the Car. Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports from the Consumer Electronic Association’s Connected Car Conference in New York City and her says that the bottom line after “four-and-a-half-hours of thoughtful discussion, research, and prognostication by automotive, electronics, and media thinkers: Whatever the dashboard is about to morph into matters less to AM/FM radio than what’s already happened.” Cooke writes that people who matter have already connected their media to the car speakers and offers some thoughts about what radio programmers can do to stand out from the digital competition. Read his analysis here.
SummitMedia to Pull the Plug on Sports Talk In Birmingham. SummitMedia announces it will drop the sports talk format on WZNN, Birmingham “97.3 The Zone” and flip to a different – most likely music – format. SummitMedia EVP and COO David DuBose tells the Birmingham News, “We have been evaluating the sports format in light of multiple factors, including [Paul] Finebaum‘s placement. After nearly two years, it became clear the market did not support two competing sports stations. “Therefore, we have determined we should focus on other format opportunities.” SummitMedia purchased the Birmingham cluster from Cox Media Group earlier this year. The station was flipped to sports in August of 2011 when Cox had its eye on building the station around mega-successful Southeast sports personality Paul Finebaum by bringing him over from Cumulus Media’s crosstown sports WJOX. Finebaum, who’d had legal squabbles with WJOX and wanted out of that relationship, ended up working out his contract there, sat out a non-compete and will begin a new sports talk radio venture with ESPN based out of Charlotte. It’s believed he will return to WJOX via ESPN syndication when the new program debuts later this summer.
Bonneville Seattle Brings Unique Talk to MyNorthwest.com. The Bonneville Seattle cluster that includes news/talk KIRO-FM, sports KIRO-AM and talk KTTH is beginning a series of unique audio programs to the web venture it calls MyNorthwest.com. Dubbed “MyNorthwest Chats,” the weekly, one-hour programs will stream on Wednesday’s from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm beginning with today’s chat featuring nationally acclaimed restaurateur Tom Douglas. MyNorthwest.com editor Stephanie Klein says, “We’re excited to have the opportunity to connect our readers directly to the experts and start an inspiring dialogue that makes an impact. We want the conversation to spark a chain of discussion in our readers’ lives.” Other chats lined up for July include talk show host Michael Medved and Seattle Mariners insider Shannon Drayer.
Programming Changes at WGN, Chicago; Turi Ryder to Exit. Chicago radio pro Turi Ryder has been in the late night slot at Tribune’s WGN, Chicago since the beginning of this year but now the company says it’s going in a different direction and will end her program. Ryder will get a chance to say goodbye to her WGN listeners as she’ll work this evening and Thursday before wrapping things up there. The station has not announced what will air in the time slot. Ryder also hosts “America Weekend” for Envision Radio Networks.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM, Providence Tackles Immigration Issue with Live Debate. News/talk WPRO-AM’s Tara Granahan is moderating a debate that will take place today at the Providence Marriott from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm called, “Green Light on Green Cards,” featuring a panel of experts from each side of the illegal immigration issue. The discussion will be streamed live online at the station’s 630wpro.com and will be the center piece of a “WPRO Special Report” scheduled to air during the “WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti” the week of July 1. The debate features two immigration lawyers, a state representative, a member of the local clergy and the head of an illegal immigration enforcement organization. The stations states, “The debate will address the issues that have emerged from illegal immigration including; licenses for illegal immigrants, how immigration effects the Rhode Island economy, and potential solutions moving forward.”
TeleSouth Communications to Buy WOSM, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. TeleSouth operates the Mississippi talk radio network known as “SuperTalk Mississippi” and the purchase of WOSM, Ocean Springs (103.1 FM) – between Biloxi and Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast – will be added to that network. The company states, “The addition of WOSM to the network will give coast listeners the best choice in Mississippi programming with ‘The Gallo Radio Show,’ ‘The JT Show’ and ‘Head to Head with Matt Wyatt and Richard Cross,’ all homegrown programs that keep a watch on state government, entertainment, sports, unique happenings in Mississippi, with a local take on national issues.” In addition to Mississippi-based programs, ‘SuperTalk’ is also home to Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee and Compass Media Networks’ Lars Larson and Todd Schnitt. WOSM is owned and operated by Charles Cooper and airs Christian programming. TeleSouth CEO Steve Davenport states, “We are excited about growing the ‘SuperTalk Network’ with the addition of WOSM. Mr. Cooper has worked hard for years building an audience loyal to traditional family values. We are confident that WOSM listeners will hear those values in the programs featured each day on ‘SuperTalk.’” Long-time coast talk show host and programmer Kipp Greggory will serve as general manager of WOSM.
CHQR, Calgary Talk Host Dave Rutherford to End Daily Show. Canadian talk show host Dave Rutherford will wrap a 21-year career hosting a daily talk show at CHQR, Calgary after his last show on July 26. The conservative personality and pedigreed newsman tells the Edmonton Journal he believes the broadcast news industry is dumbing down and there may be no place for a broadcaster like him. “I don’t think there’s the desire to ask the next question, maybe to ask any questions. But I sense that the whole industry, the broadcast news business, television and radio, is dumbing down.”
The End of the Line for CNN Radio. The service was a shell of its former self after Dial Global ended its distribution of the news product and replaced it with NBC News Radio last year, effectively becoming a digital-only product. Now, CNN states that after completing “a review of its radio business,” it “has made the decision to cease production of CNN Radio podcasts, effective immediately.” CNN has indicated that some of the staff will be relocated to positions elsewhere in the company.
Allen Hunt to End WSB, Atlanta Program. Christian broadcaster Allen Hunt announces he’ll end his Sunday evening program that has aired on WSB, Atlanta since its inception after the June 30 broadcast. Hunt says he was approached by Cox Media to move the time of his program and he decided that due to his busy schedule with the Dynamic Catholic Institute and the requested change, he decided it would be better to end the show. Hunt built the program at WSB and, for a couple of years, put the show into national syndication.
The Roving Jay Mohr Billboard. Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr’s flagship station, “AM570 FOX Sports LA” (KLAC, Los Angeles) surprised Mohr with a mobile billboard promoting his program. While Mohr was on the air, the billboard stopped by the studio during its route through Los Angeles and the show crew seized the opportunity for a quick photo-op. Pictured here (from l-r) are: intern Ben Haley, technical producer John Ramos, social media producer Matty Cox, assistant producer Justin Frosburg, Mohr, update anchor “Diamond” Dan Beyer, associate producer Mike Lingard and executive producer Greg “Hong Kong” Toohey.
Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Bruce Bradley Dies. Bruce Bradley was a personality on CBS Radio’s KMOX, St. Louis from 1986 to 1992. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he passed away on Saturday, June 22 in Lake St. Louis at age 79. Prior to his career in St. Louis, Bradley also worked in the New York, Philadelphia and Boston markets.
President Obama’s Global Warming Policy, SCOTUS Gay Marriage Rulings, George Zimmerman Trial, Paula Deen Freefall, and Texas Anti-Abortion Bill Fails Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/25). President Obama’s policy to bypass Congress to enact greenhouse gas emissions regulations; the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage issues; the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the demise of Paula Deen’s media career in the wake of allegations of racist language; and the failure of anti-abortion legislation in Texas were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Radio Talk Host Lynn Samuels Dies at Age 69. Longtime New York talk radio host Lynn Samuels passed away at her home in Queens on December 24 of apparent natural causes. Samuels, who had been working at Sirius XM, was found by police after she failed to show up for her radio show earlier on Saturday. There was no sign of foul play and friends tell authorities e-mails sent Friday indicate she didn’t appear troubled. Samuels broke into commercial talk radio in the 1980s after working at Pacifica’s hard-left non-com WBAI, New York. She hosted the Saturday 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program at Buckley Broadcasting‘s WOR, New York for a period of time. Then-PD John Mainelli was overhauling the programming at WABC, New York in 1988 when he brought her aboard. He tells TALKERS she was working for nothing at WBAI when he found her, “She used to say that WBAI considered her ‘too conservative’ for them but she pulled in more money than anybody during the fund-raisers so they kept her on. She was back-to-back with Rush Limbaugh on WABC for the first few years and their ratings grew precisely in tandem.” Mainelli says subsequent management moved Samuels around the WABC schedule, eventually to weekends, before letting her go. She held a daily show at Sirius XM for a number of years before being moved to the weekend. Mainelli says that, like many other talk hosts, she cut her teeth calling in to talk shows, “In Lynn’s case, she frequently called Bob Grant and always got him so mad that he would ultimately hang up on her with his trademark, ‘Get off my phooooooooone!’ She was a grenade-armed sweetheart and steel-clad softie, incredibly mentally alert and curious about everything. Endearingly quirky and funny as hell. Listeners could never predict how she’d approach brand new topics, which is so unlike the knee-jerk partisan predictables of 2011.” SiriusXM is honoring Samuels on a special edition of The Alex Bennett Program this morning (12/27), live from 7:00 am to10:00 am ET on SiriusXM Left/ch.127. Veteran broadcaster Richard Bey, a longtime friend and colleague of Samuels, is filling as guest host of the show December 27-29 while Bennett is on vacation. On Wednesday (12/28), they will join forces — with Bey continuing to serve as guest host and Bennett returning from vacation for one day to join him in studio — to salute Samuels’ life, ideas and legendary broadcasting career, throughout which, according to a SiriusXM spokesperson, ”She spoke without a filter and with honesty, humor and passion.”
Kevin McCullough Appears on TALKERS TV. Kevin McCullough, host of the daily nationally syndicated “Kevin McCullough Show” and co-host of the weekend “Baldwin/McCullough Show” with Stephen Baldwin, is interviewed by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey on TALKERS TV. The conversation took place at the recent “It’s Time to Talk Day” radio row presented by TALKERS in conjunction with Talk Radio News Service and Liz Claiborne, Inc. to raise awareness about the widespread societal problem of domestic violence. The seventh annual installment of this major talk media event took place in the fashion showroom at Liz Claiborne, Inc.’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters. McCullough shows Casey and the TALKERS TV audience his fascinating array of portable remote equipment conveniently set up to allow him to communicate with his audience via several venues – radio and television – utilizing audio, video and digital elements, all operable by the host himself. This informative must-see video can be viewed on the right side of this page.
Rumor: Strong FM Signal Coming for WGST, Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho is reporting that Clear Channel may be moving toward a new FM simulcast situation for news/talk WGST, Atlanta. The station is currently simulcasting on a translator at 92.3 but the signal does not penetrate the northern suburbs of Atlanta. Ho reports Clear Channel is quietly cutting the staffing at Regional Mexican “El Patron” – WBZY-FM at 105.3 – possibly with plans to move the station to a different signal and simulcast WGST on the 105.3 frequency. Ho notes that WGST had an FM simulcast at 105.7 in the 1990s but that ended in 1999.
Clear Channel Combines Two FMs with AM in Mansfield, Ohio for WMAN-AM/FM. Gone are classic hits FMs WXXR-FM and WSWR-FM as Clear Channel combines them with existing AM WMAN (1400) to create WMAN-AM/FM. Market manager Bill Clark tells the Mansfield News Journal, “The motivation to make these changes is simple. Younger radio listeners, those under 35, rarely visit the AM band. Most were raised never having been aware that the AM band existed. This gives us the opportunity to expose younger listeners to the spoken word format.” In addition to Premiere Networks programs Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, the station also airs local morning drive host Rusty Cates and the early evening sports talk show “Sports Grill” with Aaron Hines.
KQV, Pittsburgh President and GM Robert Dickey, Sr. Dies at 84. All-news KQV, Pittsburgh was purchased by Robert Dickey, Sr. and Richard Mellon Scaife in 1982 when they formed Calvary, Inc. to operate the station they believed they were saving from extinction. Calvary has operated the station ever since with many of the station’s employees having worked there for decades. Dickey died at his home in Oakland, Pennsylvania on December 24 after suffering a brief illness. Dickey started in radio at KDKA, Pittsburgh in 1954. He worked his way up in the business and eventually became general manager of WINS, New York and earned his place as part of the management team that created the “You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world” news format. Dickey moved back to Pittsburgh in 1976 to manage Taft’s WDVE-FM and KQV. When KQV’s all-news format appeared to be in trouble, he and Scaife formed Calvary and bought the station.