By Mike Kinosian
LOS ANGELES — Neither long ago (relatively speaking) nor far away in some remote galaxy, teenagers were so routinely enthralled by their local radio station of choice that summoning up the courage to actually go visit it was a personal seminal moment.
When one Dayton high school junior made such a trek in 1978, nothing short of a series of mind-boggling events followed.
Eager to see what his favorite facility looked like, this 17-year-old requested a tour, and what immediately caught his attention wasn’t a piece of equipment or seeing someone involved in the on-air process. Rather, it was a bulletin board memo, which read that the station was “still looking for a young talk-master.”
Completely fearless, he knocked on the program director’s door and confidently declared he could do that. As luck would have it, the night talent at the talk station was out with the flu.
Improbable reality number one was that, while the PD had planned to fill-in for his ailing talent, he remarkably, inexplicably said the young visitor should go ahead and give talk radio hosting a try – that night.
Either the program director was one of the foremost assessors of raw talent imaginable or, at the other end of the spectrum, had temporarily taken leave of his senses.
Regardless, the high school student did a four-hour shift and was so impressive in what was – in essence – an on-air audition that, defying logic, he was hired.
KTRS, St. Louis at Center of Skirmish Over Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Industry Recruitment Blitz. CH Holdings-owned news/talk stations KTRS, St. Louis is making national news after station manager Mark Dorsey canceled an ad campaign bought by the state of Texas that sought to convince Missouri businesses they’d be better off moving to the more industry-friendly Texas where “businesses flourish and jobs are created.” Dorsey posted a statement on the KTRS website saying, in part: “When the order was placed, KTRS was under the assumption these commercials were going to promote tourism to Texas. Once we, the management of KTRS realized these commercials were instead focused on stealing locally owned companies away from St Louis, we suspended airing these commercials immediately. We understand people have different viewpoints on public policy and we welcome that debate everyday on our airways. But as one of the few remaining locally owned radio stations in the country, we feel the need to stand strong with other small locally owned businesses and defend our region. Governor Rick Perry, Don’t mess with Missouri, and don’t mess with St Louis.” In the ad, Perry criticizes policies of the Missouri governor and state legislature, accusing them of being less friendly to business. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the ads are running on radio and TV stations in St. Louis and other Missouri markets as Perry prepares to visit the region this week.
Report: ESPN at Center of Nielsen-Arbitron Deal. The New York Post reports today that Disney-owned ESPN could be the media company that has the biggest say in whether the Federal Trade Commission approves Nielsen’s $1.26 billion purchase of Arbitron. At issue here is the multi-media use of Arbitron’s PPM in which – via Project Blueprint – ESPN is licensing the technology to measure audience consumption of its product over television, radio, smartphones, tablets and computers. The Post reports that sources tell it, “The license expires soon, and the ability of ESPN to squeeze a promise from Nielsen that it will be able to continue to license the software is likely integral to the merger getting federal approval.” The FTC’s concern is that if the new Nielsen-Arbitron owns both the old set-top box methodology for rating television and the PPM technology for on-the-go measurement, there will be little ability for competitors to emerge. The FTC is expected to decide this week whether to challenge Nielsen’s purchase of Arbitron.
Nick Digilio New Overnight Host on WGN, Chicago. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that longtime WGN, Chicago part-time personality Nick Digilio will assume the overnight talk host position beginning September 4. Digilio takes over for Bill Leff who moves to the daylight hours co-hosting the new 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Digilio will also host the 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight Saturday show. As Feder reports, Digilio first appeared on WGN in 1985 on Roy Leonard’s midday show to talk about movies. It developed into a regular segment and then into part-time work. As a way of paying back his mentor, Digilio will have the now-retired Leonard on his Saturday program in a regular segment to talk about movies. About his new position with Tribune’s WGN, Digilio tells Feder, “I couldn’t be more thrilled. And I really want to thank everyone who has supported me through the years.”
Rush Limbaugh Announces New Deal with Cumulus; Will Move to WOR, New York in January. Confirming what many in the industry have been expecting all along, Rush Limbaugh announced on his radio program Friday that Premiere Networks, EIB and Cumulus Media agreed to terms earlier this week to renew his program for three more years beginning in January of 2014 and running through the end of 2016. He told listeners that the one change would be his move from Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York to Clear Channel’s crosstown WOR, New York beginning in January. Limbaugh’s program is currently heard on 35 Cumulus Media-owned stations.
WHO, Des Moines Newsman Dick Layman Dies Suddenly at 59. Morning drive news anchor Dick Layman served with Clear Channel’s WHO, Des Moines for the past 16 years. He died Friday, August 23 suddenly and at this time it is not known publicly what the cause of death was. WHO news director Jim Boyd posted the news of Layman’s death on the WHO website and wrote about Layman, in part: “Dick was also from the old school of broadcast journalism. The school that said ‘confirm and reconfirm the facts’ before they would be put into a story for you to hear. He cared about content and quality. But he also was someone who could take the most complicated of stories and boil them down to the bare fact so you could understand it…and to do so at times in 20 seconds or less…There is a hole right now in the WHO Radio Family…a hole that won’t close easily and there is a chair in our newsroom that will be very, very difficult to fill. That’s what happens when you have a man the caliber of Dick Layman on your team. Our prayers go out to his wife, Janet, and daughter Meredith.”
Tyler Media to Debut Sports Talk ‘107.7 The Franchise’ Today. According to Oklahoma City online publication The Lost Ogle, Tyler Media’s plans to bring a new sports talk outlet to the city will become reality today around 2:00 pm when KRXO flips from classic rock to sports talk. The lineup will be largely local and is reportedly as follows: “The Show” with Steely, Lump and (John) Rohde; “The Mid-day Mayes” with Sam Mayes; “The Gee Men” with Kelly Gregg and Erik Gee; and “Casillas & Company” with Tony Casillas and David Garrett in PM drive. The station will be an NBC Sports Radio Network affiliate. Oklahoma City has about seven other sports talk outlets in and around the market including Cumulus Media’s WWLS-FM “The Sports Animal.”
WHO, Des Moines PM Drive Host Simon Conway Producer Changes. Afternoon drive host Simon Conway (r) reports that his long-serving producer Andrew Downs (l) is moving to the cluster’s sister sports talk station KXNO where he’ll serve as assistant program director. Taking over for Downs is Des Moines native Jenna Wizenburg who moves back to the market from Florida. Conway states, “I always said I had the best producer in the building. Andrew has rightly been recognized and although I will miss him, he richly deserves this opportunity. I have worked with Jenna before at WFLA, Orlando and I’m excited as we begin this adventure together.”
Mike Gallagher to Shave His Head for Fallen Officers Fund. Salem Radio Network nationally syndicated talk host Mike Gallagher is preparing for his role in the South Carolina Children’s Theatre Production of “Annie” (he’s pictured here in the Greenville Journal with lead actress Georgia Kay Wise). Gallagher decided that instead of going with a skull cap for the role as the chrome-domed Daddy Warbucks, he would shave his head on Wednesday at Frank’s Gentleman’s Salon on Coffee Street in Greenville if listeners put up $5,000 or more via his Gallagher’s Army Fallen Officers Fund which provides grants to families of police officers killed in the line of duty. The goal was reached and Gallagher will play the role with an authentic pate when the show opens on September 6. Photo courtesy of the Greenville Journal.
Odds & Sods. Retired NFL coach and executive Mike Holmgren will make regular in-studio appearances on KJR, Seattle’s Mitch Levy program this season. Holmgren, who left his general manager position with the Cleveland Browns after the team changed owners, still resides in Seattle after coaching the Seahawks for 10 seasons…..Blaine Thompson’s Indiana Radio Watch reports Federated Media’s WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne adds the “Casey Hendrickson Weekend” program to its lineup in place of “Fox News Sunday.” Hendrickson hosts the PM drive show on Federated’s WTRC-AM, Elkhart, Indiana and WTRC-FM, Niles, Michigan.