Alpha Media Closes on Digity Purchase. This is no ordinary acquisition as Alpha Media balloons to approximately 250 stations in 50+ markets by closing on in excess of 110 Digity properties. Over and above that, Alpha Media becomes the country’s third-largest broadcast company in terms of number of markets and fourth-largest regarding station count. Alpha Media chair Larry Wilson comments, “We are very pleased to get this remarkable transaction done. In our fold is now an exceptional stable of diversified stations and markets, serving not only their towns but surrounding areas and communities. It has been a tremendous pleasure to work with respected broadcaster [Digity chief executive officer] Dean Goodman and his management team. We look forward to joining forces with the phenomenal people at Digity doing radio the right way.” Goodman remarks, “I have been honored to work with the great broadcasters of Digity. They know their roots are in live and local and their future is dynamic. They will excel with Alpha as individual and collective entrepreneurs. We hand off a thriving company, up this year at the top of the industry. I wish Larry [Wilson] and his team all the best; they have assembled a great platform.” Only two of the 28 Digity markets are PPM-metros – San Jose and West Palm Beach. The other facilities are in Missouri: (Bethany-Cameron, Clinton, Farmington-Festus, Moberly-Macon, and Waynesville-Lebanon); Iowa (Fairfield, Fort Dodge, Grinnell-Newton, and Mason City); Minnesota (Albert Lea-Austin, Luverne, Mankato, and Redwood Falls); South Dakota (Brookings, Madison, and Watertown); Illinois (Aurora and Joliet); Nebraska (Columbus and Lincoln); Michigan (Saginaw-Bay City-Midland); North Carolina (Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville); Ohio (Canton); South Carolina (Myrtle Beach); Texas: (North Dallas-McKinney); and Wisconsin (Kenosha-Waukegan). When this deal was first announced in August 2015, the purchase price was reported to be $264 million.
WFAN and Brooklyn Nets Extend Broadcast Rights Agreement. The multi-year deal between CBS Radio New York sports outlet WFAN “The Fan” and the NBA‘s Brooklyn Nets goes beyond NBA basketball to cover other parts of the business at Barclays Center, including select college basketball games, concerts, and live events. As it has since the 2004 – 2005 season, WFAN will continue as the team’s radio flagship. According to CBS Radio president Andre Fernandez, “CBS Radio is proud to continue our association with the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center. We have defined our position in sports broadcasting by delivering the most extensive coverage of local programming and events. We continue to make aggressive investments in exclusive content our audiences can’t find anywhere else.” Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment chief executive officer Brett Yormark comments, “Our relationship with CBS Radio continues to give us a major voice in the nation’s largest market. This new agreement comes on the heels of our recent extension with YES Network, providing the team with premium exposure on two of the country’s most popular sports outlets.” WFAN news sibling WCBS-AM will be the Nets’ secondary radio outlet. Prior to relocating to Brooklyn, the team was called the New Jersey Nets. Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s January 2016 PPM report for New York City, WFAN ranks ninth (3.8, 6+); iHeartMedia adult contemporary WLTW “Lite FM” leads the field with a 6.7 (6+).
Hyde Heads to Entercom Sacramento as GSM. Fourteen-month Pandora account executive Corey Hyde joins Entercom Sacramento as general sales manager. Vice president and market manager Lance Richard comments, “It is exciting to add Corey to our team. He has an impressive track record of success and he brings experience in developing dynamic, integrated campaigns and long term partnerships for local clients. His leadership skills and experience in this market make him the perfect fit for Entercom Sacramento.” Hyde remarks, “I am thrilled to be joining Lance Richard and the team at Entercom Sacramento. Radio is stronger than ever, and we have the best local stations in the market. I look forward to using our wide array of marketing assets to drive real results for our clients.” In his 13-year radio career, Hyde spent nearly 10 years with CBS Radio Sacramento as a senior account executive and three years with iHeartMedia Sacramento as an AE. Entercom Sacramento consists of KCTC “ESPN 1320″; CHR KDND “The End”; alternative KKDO “Radio 94-7”; KRXQ “98 Rock”; classic rock KSEG “The Eagle”; and hot AC KUDL “Star 106.5.”
Baldwin Exits Weekend “Baldwin/McCullough LIVE.” Effective immediately, actor Stephen Baldwin departs “Baldwin/McCullough LIVE.” The two-hour syndicated weekend program carried by approximately 250 affiliates on Kevin McCullough‘s eight-year-old XtreMEDIA and simulcast on BizTV is rebranded “Radio Night LIVE.” As Baldwin’s work schedule increased the past few months, McCullough explains, “The more difficult it has become for him to make the show. For the past eight years, we have enjoyed the liveliest and – on most nights – the funniest weekend radio broadcast in America. Our listeners will immediately feel the impact of Stephen’s absence from the talk radio airwaves. To be realistic, however, because of his filming schedule in 2015, his workload severely prevented him from being with us even one out of two weeks. This is great for him because his passion is acting. Our staff, our sponsors, and listeners will miss Stephen’s unique humor and spunk. His personality is one-of-a-kind and Stephen will always be welcome to a microphone we have named in his honor; we are thrilled though at this chance to take our broadcast to another level. ‘Radio Night LIVE’ will take the signature humor we have developed over the years, add cutting edge ‘next generation’ guests, experts, and entertainers and explode Saturday night in ways previously unseen.” Baldwin comments, “God has been so good to me and all I want to do is to follow where He is leading me. My time doing the show is something I will always remember. Our listeners brought much laughter and insight into my life.” It is possible that McCullough will utilize a series of rotating guest hosts such as KRLA, Los Angeles’ Elisha Krauss; Karol Markowicz of The New York Post; YouToo America‘s Gina Loudon; as well as Ashley Papa and Kayleigh McEnany. McCullough continues hosting his weekday 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm “After Hours” show on Salem Media Group New York’s WNYM “AM 970 The Answer”; the “Kevin McCullough Show” for Salem Media Group; and “News That Makes You Think.”
Four More Years: WGN, Northwestern Extend Rights Agreement. The union between 50,000-watt WGN, Chicago and Northwestern University will keep Wildcats football and men’s basketball on the Tribune talker through the conclusion of the 2019 – 2020 season. In addition, the voice of Wildcats football since 1990 and men’s basketball since 1996 – Dave Eanet – signs a four-year contract. WGN Radio president and general manager Jimmy de Castro comments, “We are proud to present Northwestern basketball and football anchored by Dave ‘Mr. Cat’ Eanet. We look forward to bringing our listeners the excitement of Chicago’s Big Ten team in the years to come.” According to Northwestern vice president for athletics and recreation Jim Phillips, “The Northwestern Wildcats and WGN Radio have forged a special relationship over the last two decades. WGN not only is a broadcasting force, but a true Chicago institution. We have shared many thrilling moments through the years, and we look forward to many more memories with WGN Radio as the home of Chicago’s Big Ten team.” Eanet was inducted into the WGN Radio Walk of Fame last year. Former Chicago Bear Ted Albrecht is WGN’s football analyst on Wildcat broadcasts, while former college and pro head coach Joey Meyer provides analysis on basketball broadcasts. WGN has been the radio home of the Wildcats since 1996. Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s January 2016 PPM report for Chicago, WGN ranks fifth with a 4.2 – its best showing since last June’s 4.3; CBS Radio‘s all-news WBBM-AM is on top with a 6.8 (6+).
Louisville Lineup Changes at WHAS, WKRD. Starting next Monday (2/29), former WKXW “New Jersey 101.5,” Trenton personality Mary Walter will oversee a weeknight 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm program on iHeartMedia Louisville talker WHAS. Of Walter, director of iHeartMedia Louisville’s AM programming Kelly Carls comments, “She is always prepared; keeps her finger on the pulse of the news; and she does a great job connecting with listeners. We are delighted she will be offering her unique perspectives every day.” A WHAS fill-in beginning in 2009, Walter remarks, “I am so excited to be with the WHAS audience on a regular basis. I have grown to love the local listeners over the years. They are so engaged and informed that it makes the job fun.” She previously worked at radio stations in Washington, DC; Phoenix; Denver; and Omaha. Meanwhile, at co-owned all-sports WKRD “790 KRD,” Howie Lindsey is named 7:00 am – 10:00 am host; contributors Matt Willinger and Katie George will join him. Another change there will find TheCardinalConnect.Com founder Nick Coffey taking on 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm duty. “We are very excited to expand our local sports coverage on WKRD,” notes Kelly Carls. “Mornings, mid-days and afternoons, we now have local sports fans covered with updates, insights, and compelling conversation about the teams and games that really matter.” Lindsey and Coffey will debut one week from Monday (3/7). Among persons 12+ in Nielsen Audio‘s winter 2016 book, WHAS ranks #1 (7.4) and WKRD is #12 (1.2).
Cumulus Media Dallas Sets Fourth Spring Job Fair. Jobseekers and hiring companies will come together in less than two weeks (3/9) as Cumulus Media Dallas presents its fourth annual Putting Texans Back to Work Spring Job Fair at the Plano Centre. In attendance will be representatives from over 100 companies in search of quality candidates from the Dallas, Collin, and Denton County areas of North Texas. No registration is required for job seekers; however, registration deadline for companies looking for qualified individuals is one week from Monday (3/7). The Cumulus Dallas cluster includes sports KESN “ESPN Radio 103.3”; talk KLIF-AM; CHR KLIF-FM “Hot 93.3”; country KPLX “The Wolf”; KSCS “New Country 96.3”; sports KTCK “The Ticket; and talk WBAP.
BTC Begins HD Radio Data Services in Canada. A partnership between the Broadcaster Traffic Consortium (BTC) and exclusive mapping and technology data partner HERE leads to Canada’s first in-vehicle HD Radio Traffic service. Honda is the first brand to offer the service to its customers on certain 2015 and 2016 models. Broadcaster Traffic Consortium president Paul Brenner comments, “The BTC and all of our member stations are excited to be the first to market for HD Radio data services in Canada. Honda and HERE are valued partners that expect constant innovation and quality services regardless of our borders or radio station ownership. Unified broadcasters, collaborating to deliver a common service, bringing innovation solutions to automakers is better for the strategic and long-term viability of the broadcast radio industry. BTC is proud to be a leader in this space.” HD Radio Traffic enables drivers and passengers to view detailed information on local traffic conditions in real time on their vehicle’s audio display screen. The BTC has stations providing coverage in most areas within greater Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary; the service is expected to expand to additional Canadian markets. Originally founded in 2007 with eight broadcast groups – Beasley Broadcast Group; Bonneville International Corporation; Cox Radio; Emmis Communications; Entercom Communications; Greater Media; NPR; and Radio One – BTC has grown to include 23 broadcast groups in the United States and Canada. It builds a nationwide terrestrial broadcasting network to distribute local traffic and other map-related data via FM and HD Radio technology.
Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of February 22-26. Primary races and activities of presidential candidates were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was Apple’s refusal to hack the phone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists. At #3 was the battle over the timeline for replacing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, followed by Islamic State’s reported threats against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week; it is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. View this week’s entire chart here.
BFA to Fete Fritts with “Excellence in Broadcasting” Award. Former 23-year National Association of Broadcasters president and chief executive officer Eddie Fritts is named this year’s Broadcasters Foundation of America‘s recipient of the Lowry Mays “Excellence in Broadcasting” award. Underwritten by The Mays Family Foundation, the award is given each year to a broadcaster, “whose work exemplifies innovation, community service, advocacy, and entrepreneurship.” Fritts’ past recognition includes “Broadcaster of the Year” awards at both the New York State Broadcasters Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters. In addition, he is the past recipient of the Broadcasters Foundation’s “Golden Mike” and “Chairman’s” awards. Inducted into the Giants of Broadcasting’s Hall of Fame in 2010, he received the NAB’s “Distinguished Service” award one year later. Fritts – who launched The Fritts Group in March 2006 – will be honored with this particular acknowledgement in approximately two months (4/20) during the NAB Show in Las Vegas. The Broadcasters Foundation has distributed millions of dollars to thousands of broadcasters and their families. Individual donations can be made to the Guardian Fund. Corporate contributions are accepted through the Angel Initiative; bequests can be arranged through the Legacy Society.
Cumulus Media Florida Outlets Aid in Tornado Recovery. Personal and household items, as well as monetary donations, are being collected by 14 Cumulus Media stations in Fort Walton Beach-Destin, Mobile, and Pensacola (Florida) for those affected by this week’s tornadoes in Century and Pensacola. Radio station staffers will be at various locations for six hours today (Friday, 2/26), nine hours tomorrow (Saturday, 2/27), and four hours on Sunday. Listeners are being asked to help tornado victims with water, personal hygiene items, household cleaning items, tarps, laundry detergent, diapers, wipes, book bags, crayons, pens, pencils, paper, clothing, and non-perishable food items. Cash donations should be directed to the Gulf Coast recovery effort through the American Red Cross and the United Way.
Cool Job Opportunities at CBS, Los Angeles. TALKERS has learned that CBS Radio Los Angeles is now looking to fill the following positions as soon as possible at all-news KNX 1070: news reporter, writer, and news production assistant. For more details and to apply, please click here: WWW.CBSRADIO.COM/CAREERS.
Odds & Sods. Pittsburgh-based “The Union Edge” adds suburban Minneapolis talker KTNF “AM 950 The Progressive Voice of Minnesota” as its 27th affiliate. KTNF president Chad Larson comments, “KTNF has been a longtime union advocate, covering labor issues since 2004 in the Twin Cities. We look forward to carrying another program focused on the many accomplishments labor has made for our nation as well as the modern threats facing working families and our ability to collectively bargain in the workplace.”
Townsquare Media Q4 Pro Forma Net Revenue Up 9.5%. Reporting 2014 Q4 and full-year financial figures, Townsquare Media announces its pro forma net revenue was $93.7 million – up 9.5% compared to the same quarter a year ago – and for the full year, pro forma net revenue was up 8.4% on income of $384.7 million. While pro forma local advertising net revenue increased 5.6% during Q4, chairman and CEO Steven Price says that “nearly 30% of our 2014 pro forma net revenue was derived from sources other than the sale of terrestrial radio advertising.” He further comments, “Consistent with our January pre-announcement, we are pleased to report fourth quarter pro forma net revenue growth of 9.5% and pro forma adjusted EBITDA growth of 8.6%, with strong growth in each of our operating segments. We are pleased to announce that we have broken out our Live Events business as a separate reportable operating segment and believe this will provide increased transparency to our investors.” The company also explains how the company’s divisions are broken down: “We have two reportable operating segments, which are Local Advertising and Live Events, and report the remainder of our business in an Other Media and Entertainment category. Our Local Advertising segment is composed of broadcast, digital and mobile advertising on our stations, streams, websites and mobile application. Our Live Events segment is composed of a diverse range of live events, which we create, promote and produce, including musical concerts, multi-day music festivals, consumer expositions and trade shows, athletic events, lifestyle events and other forms of entertainment. The Other Media and Entertainment business principally includes digital marketing services, national digital assets and other revenue.”
Kevin Slaten Returns to KXFN, St. Louis Airwaves Today. In a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today by Dan Caesar, it’s reported that notorious St. Louis sports talk personality Kevin Slaten will be on KXFN’s air today (3/16) as the Grand Slam-owned station is being leased by Talkstl.com’s owners. Slaten’s show is currently heard on the digital platform. Caesar writes that Talkstl began the deal over the weekend and began airing Yahoo Sports Radio. He also reports the move is part of a power struggle at Grand Slam that is forcing KXFN to change formats again. Read his piece here.
Programming Quake at WTEM, Washington. According to Dave Hughes’ DCRTV.com, a huge programming maelstrom took place at Red Zebra-owned sports talker WTEM, Washington “ESPN 980” last week that prevented today’s debut of the local “Man Cave” show with Chris Paul and Jason Reid and cost programmer Chuck Sapienza his job. The short version is that Washington Redskins and WTEM owner Dan Snyder doesn’t appreciate former Washington Post writer Reid’s criticism of the Redskins operations and put the kibosh on the show. When Sapienza tried to justify the move, he was dismissed. Read the DCRTV.com report here.
Larry Gifford: Radiodays Europe – Day One.
MILAN – BBC radio is widely considered one of the most innovative media companies in the world, which is the reason BBC radio director Helen Boaden was a good choice to set the tone for Radiodays Europe 2015 in Milan, Italy. In her special Sunday night conference-opening presentation, Boaden laid out one of the big challenges facing radio and offered a road map for those who want to follow.
“You need to understand your company’s space in the digital universe,” Boaden (pictured below during her address) commanded. She encouraged everyone to look at media, telecom, and social media companies and any other company that has entered the space of audio content creation to be sure there is a true understanding of the scale at which we are competing. This is when she referred to Google, Amazon.com, Netflix and Facebook as “the four horseman of the digital apocalypse.” But, she made it clear it’s not just a fight for dollars and ear-space, but for our talent. “We, for the first time, have lost one of our best presenters to Apple.” (She’s referring to DJ Zane Lowe’s recently reported move from London to Cupertino.) She thinks she knows why, too. “What they want is actually the best of radio. Aggregation no longer, they can see, is enough.”
Boaden strongly believes despite the technology changes, at the heart of all good radio is still good storytelling. She oversees what seems like dozens of BBC radio brand extensions each focused on getting fans to listen, watch and share stories.
Listen. Watch. Share.
That is the BBC radio secret: a three-pronged, listener-focused, strategy for every platform. She gave innovative examples the BBC has implemented for each, including pop-up radio stations, animating great radio content, and engaging fans with share-worthy original content. Boaden concluded, “The future of radio relies on you staying close to the audience. Despite how you feel about them sometimes, you can’t sack your audience, but your audience can sack you.”
Radiodays Europe features Elvis Duran as the conference keynote address today (3/16). Duran and iHeartRadio‘s Dennis Clark will discuss how to create a successful morning show. You can keep up-to-date on the conference by following #rde15 on Twitter.
This special report to TALKERS was filed by Larry Gifford. He is a radio programming consultant and talent coach (www.larrygifford.com) and host of the Radio Stuff Podcast. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lew Dickey to Address SXSW Media Conference. At the 2015 South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin this Thursday (3/19), Cumulus Media president and CEO Lew Dickey will be featured on a panel discussion during which he’ll speak to attendees about how listeners and artists are benefiting from the integration of broadcast radio and music streaming services. The panel will be moderated by digital news outlet Quartz’s John McDuling, along with fellow panelists Rdio CEO Anthony Bay and Glassnote Entertainment Group president/chief executive officer Daniel Glass. The panel, titled, “The Marriage of Radio & Online Listening,” will address the future for merged relationships between radio and online listening.
Bliss Family Robinson. In this personality profile published today (3/16), TALKERS magazine managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian presents the story of lifelong radio pro Dick Robinson – founder of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. From his beginnings at WARE in Ware, Massachusetts in the late 1950s, to his time at WDRC-AM & FM in Hartford, to the founding and building of CSB and beyond, Kinosian paints a colorful picture of this fascinating “radio guy” and the storied business he and his family have built and maintained. Read the entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Concerning the conspicuous absence of college hoops legend John Thompson from Westwood One’s broadcast from the Big East Tournament last week, the syndicator reports he had corrective surgery for a benign twisted intestine and is home recovering well. “Unfortunately, he is unable to travel extensively for the next few weeks, otherwise he would be in his favorite spot — courtside for March Madness.”…..New Hampshire Public Radio’s Virginia Prescott, host of “Word of Mouth,” is being recognized by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation with a Gracie award in the category of Outstanding Host – Entertainment/Information category.
VO VIPs. At the recent VO Atlanta voice-over conference, some of the nation’s top voice-over artists gathered. Pictured here are (from l-r): Chris Corley, Randy Thomas, Mitch Faulkner and Jason Garte. Thomas moderated a panel titled, “The History of Radio Imaging,” featuring Garte, president of The Mix Group and Mix Talent Management; Corley, a top promotional announcer and imaging voice; and Faulkner, imaging voiceover talent and founder of MLMI Creative Services Atlanta.
Newsmax TV to Launch on DirecTV Next Month. Wider distribution is ahead for Newsmax Media Inc’s Newsmax TV channel as the conservative news and talk outlet will be available on DirecTV beginning in mid-June. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says the deal that will put Newsmax TV in the homes and businesses of 20 million subscribers will start with nine hours of live programming. Currently, Newsmax TV is available online at Newsmax.com. Ruddy states, “Our launch will benefit from the existing Newsmax.com audience that is already in place. This audience will naturally be drawn to our brand of news, features and useful information and consist of one of the highest concentrations of baby boomers on the web. We will immediately plug into that audience to participate in the development and the evolution of the channel prior to a national launch.” Newsmax says that in addition to planned cable and satellite distribution, the new channel will be available via a wide range of “TV Everywhere” platforms just as the “crucial 2014 mid-term election coverage commences.” Ruddy adds, “Newsmax was born online and as the lines between TV and the web blur, we will attract a growing audience that doesn’t differentiate between the two. As a result, we are also well positioned to maximize the opportunities provided by ‘TV Everywhere’ platforms to reach tens of millions of Americans.”
Becker Becomes L&L Broadcasting’s VP/Programming. Former Oasis Radio Fort Wayne, Indiana general manager Phil Becker is appointed vice president of programming for L&L Broadcasting. “As a continuation of our rapid growth, we have been searching for the ideal candidate to help our programming teams execute strategies for on-air, online, and mobile audience growth,” comments L&L Broadcasting president and chief executive officer Bob Proffitt. “Phil is the absolute perfect fit for us and will not only be a dynamic addition to our corporate structure, but a welcoming face to our markets as he helps them continue to evolve.” Senior vice president/director of programming Scott Mahalick states, “We are thrilled to have such a visionary programmer join our team with a winning track record; great passion for the art of the product; business sense; and stellar leadership traits.” Becker remarks that the L&L Broadcasting team is “truly focused on their brands, as well as hiring the best people. The direction and vision of the entire corporate team is an exciting and refreshing approach to the industry that I love.” Prior to becoming Oasis Radio Fort Wayne’s GM, Becker was its operations manager and director of programming. His previous background includes programming tenures at Cox Radio Group Orlando rhythmic CHR WPYO “Power 95.3”; CKEY, Fort Erie Ontario (Buffalo-Niagara Falls); and in Dothan, Alabama for New South Communications. In April, Larry Wilson announced that Alpha Broadcasting and L&L Broadcasting would merge into one company – Alpha Media. When that merger is complete, the company will operate 68 stations.
Apple-Beats Deal Overshadows iTunes Radio’s Non-Music Deals. The just announced deal that Apple is acquiring Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3 billion is the subject of a lot of chatter in the financial and music/radio sectors. While the music angle is what Apple CEO Tim Cook appears to be focused on, spoken-word audio programming is not escaping Apple’s eye. Almost buried under the Beats acquisition news is Apple’s announcement that it is creating an ESPN channel for iTunes Radio that will make its ESPN Radio content – Mike & Mike, Colin Cowherd, SVP & Russillo, and SportsCenter – available to iTunes Radio listeners. This comes on the heels of the March addition of the NPR channel to the service. Also, 9to5Mac is reporting that the ESPN station will carry this year’s World Cup live. While analysts are speculating largely about how this will affect SiriusXM, obviously this is another platform to compete with AM/FM radio, as well.
Marc James Moves from Charlotte to Atlanta for CBS RADIO. The sudden disappearance of afternoon drive sports talk host Marc James from the lineup at CBS RADIO’s WFNZ, Charlotte “The Fan” is explained as he moves southwest to Atlanta to partner up with Carl Dukes on WZGC “92.9 The Game” to co-host “Game Time” from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm effective Monday, June 2. The station also brings Mark Zinno in from its WJZ-FM, Baltimore “105.7 The Fan,” as TALKERS reported yesterday. WZGC program director Terry Foxx states, “Both Marc James and Mark Zinno bring unique perspectives to the Atlanta radio market. Marc James’ strong opinions will be a solid addition to Carl Dukes’ ability to objectively deliver content and Mark Zinno provides a global vision and a powerful punch to the Night Show.” Back in Charlotte, local blogger Randy Inman writes on his Panther Lair blog that he hears the candidate most likely to replace James on the PM drive show at WFNZ is Chris Kroeger.
South Central Properties Dealt to Midwest Communications. Some extremely successful sticks are about to exchange hands as Wausau, Wisconsin-based Midwest Communications is acquiring South Central Communications’ radio stations. (SummitMedia had announced intentions to buy the group for a rumored price somewhere in the range of $75 million, but that obviously fell apart.) Among the facilities involved are adult contemporary WJXA “Mix 92.9” and adult hits WCJK “Jack-FM” (both in Nashville); adult contemporary WJXB “Today’s Soft Rock,” rock WVRX “The X,” and classic rock WIMZ (all in Knoxville); and adult contemporary WIKY, country WLFW “The Wolf,” CHR WSTO “Hot 96,” and classic rock WABX (all in Evansville, Indiana). According to South Central chief executive officer J.P. Engelbrecht, “We have found a great steward for our radio stations in Midwest Communications. They are good broadcasters who will build upon the legacy created by our outstanding team.” Midwest Communications chief executive officer Duke Wright comments, “We feel extremely fortunate to be acquiring one of America’s best-run radio groups. South Central and Midwest are entirely family-owned with both families being in the radio business for well over 50 years. We feel there is a lot of commonality between the companies – I am certain we will have much to share with each other.” Nashville AC “Mix 92.9” is that market’s perennial top-ranked powerhouse (6+): In April’s PPM, it registers an 11.8 (#1, 6+). A similar ratings prowess exists for Evansville AC WIKY, which was #1 (12+) in the fall 2013 book with a robust 16.3. WSTO finished third (9.1); WABX was fifth (5.0); and WLFW ranked seventh (4.1). Nashville’s WCJK ranks eighth in April (6+) with a 5.1. South Central did not subscribe for the latest Knoxville numbers, so its three stations there are not listed. The Wright Family formed Midwest Communications in 1958. Midwest Communications presently owns 63 radio outlets in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Terms of the transaction – for which Kalil & Company was the exclusive broker – were not disclosed.
Jenkins to Enter New Mexico Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. News pro Judith Jenkins will be inducted into the New Mexico Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame on June 7. The longtime KKOB, Albuquerque morning news anchor also worked at KKOB-TV during her career. In addition to her duties on KKOB’s morning program alongside Ed Hartley, Jenkins also handles news duties for Cumulus’ FM stations in the Albuquerque cluster. She will be the first African American elected to the New Mexico Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.
Madison Rising Official National Anthem Performer for Talkers New York 2014. When the Talkers New York 2014 conference opens on June 20, at the India House in the Financial District, the band Madison Rising will serve as the official performer of the national anthem. You can check out this band’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in the Talkers TV box on the upper right side of this page. Talkers VP/executive editor Kevin Casey says, “Not since Jimi Hendrix laid down his iconic (and controversial!) rendition of the national anthem at Woodstock in 1969 has such a tremendously soul-stirring version of this song, performed in the rock idiom, been recorded. Not only is Madison Rising an extremely talented band, their version of the Star Spangled Banner puts you on the edge of your seat!” For more information about Talkers New York 2014, click here.
Odds & Sods. Omaha talk show host Tom Becka says he’s not looking for a fight with SiriusXM but says, contrary to the satcaster’s claim that host Maggie Linton did the last radio interview with author Maya Angelou before her death on Sunday, he actually did. The KOIL talk host tells TALKERS magazine he did what he believes is her last radio interview on May 13. You can hear that
Thom Hartmann to Receive 2014 Freedom of Speech Award. The TALKERS editorial board has named progressive radio and television talk show host Thom Hartmann as the 2014 recipient of The Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech. The award recognizes broadcasting achievement in raising consciousness and awareness of the First Amendment, displaying courage and commitment in exercising First Amendment rights and contributing to the viability of the First Amendment through deed and example. The award, one of the most prestigious and high-profile honors presented to individuals in the talk media industry, has a colorful (and often controversial) history that goes back to the early 1990s when the modern era of talk radio emerged and the format became recognized as an influential forum of public policy and social change following the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. It was re-named in honor of talk radio pioneer Gene Burns upon his death in May 2013. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “Gene Burns was the model by which the Freedom of Speech Award and the Annual State of the First Amendment Address delivered at our national conventions were developed. It is only fitting that this institution bears the name of this great champion of the ideals and foundation upon which contemporary spoken-word radio is built.” Last year’s recipient of the Freedom of Speech Award was Glenn Beck. Recent recipients include Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Jim Farley, Juan Williams, Joe Madison, Michael Savage, Norm Pattiz, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Drudge, G. Gordon Liddy and Brian Lamb among many others. Upon making the announcement of Thom Hartmann’s selection as this year’s recipient, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “It is about time the industry recognizes the enormous contributions Thom Hartmann makes in keeping our industry representative of the spectrum of legitimate political ideologies at play in the American marketplace of ideas. Not only has he effectively kept the voice of liberalism alive in this arena with intellectual clarity, poise and civility for more than a decade — he has, in the process, developed and pioneered effective new, multi-media platform models and has amazingly bridged the artificial programming and business gap between commercial and public broadcasting.” The Thom Hartmann Program, launched in 2003 and represented by WYD Media, is on the radio live weekdays 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET, and is syndicated by WestwoodOne, Pacifica, and CRN Digital Talk. It’s heard nationally on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, American Forces Radio, and is simulcast as television on the Free Speech TV network – which airs on both Direct TV and the Dish satellite TV systems, and several hundred cable systems, from Manhattan Neighborhood Networks to smaller systems from Burlington, Vermont to Seattle, Washington. The show is carried online by Progressive Voices on the TuneIn app, by NetRootsRadio, and streams live on its own YouTube and LiveStream channels. Close to 200 commercial and non-commercial radio stations carry Thom Hartmann’s show in the U.S., Ghana, Aruba, and Canada. In addition to radio, this entrepreneurial broadcaster also hosts “The Big Picture” TV show, that is owned and produced by Thom Hartmann and represented by WYD Media. It airs live nationwide on cable and satellite TV at 7:00 pm ET and 10:00 pm ET in an estimated 60 million-plus U.S. households via his licensing agreement with Free Speech TV, and is available in 107 countries in more than 600 million homes around the world via his licensing agreement with RT TV. The Big Picture is also carried by 200-plus community cable systems. It’s also available on Hulu and via Roku on the internet, and has its own YouTube channel. Hartmann’s website this year has had over a million unique visitors, and has an active community with its own user blogs, message board, and chat room. He has over 65,000 Facebook followers, and 37,000 Twitter followers, and over 15 million YouTube views just this year with over 60,000 subscribers to his YouTube channels. He’s the New York Times bestselling, four-time Project Censored Award winning author of 24 books in print in 17 languages on five continents. TALKERS named Thom Hartmann as the eighth most important talk show host in America in 2011, 2012, and 2013 (10th the two previous years), and for three of the past five years the #1 most important progressive host, in its “Heavy Hundred” ranking. The Freedom of Speech Award will be presented to Thom Hartmann at Talkers New York 2014. There will be more than 65 industry leaders in speaking roles at the conference which takes place on Friday, June 20 at the iconic India House in the heart of New York City’s historic Financial District. Registration is only open to professionals (and broadcasting students) working in radio and related media. The cost is $249 per person which includes all sessions, receptions, food and refreshments. Registrations can only be booked over the phone with credit card. Call 413-565-5413. Again, a sellout is expected shortly. For up to the minute agenda information and further details please click here.
Gabe Hobbs Arrested! Noted media consultant Gabe Hobbs is appealing to friends and colleagues to help rescue him from the MDA lockup – he needs $3,500 to be set free. Hobbs tells TALKERS he’s dedicating his efforts to return to civil society to late Clear Channel Omaha/Lincoln operations manager Jim Steel who was lost to ALS in 2007. He says he’s been humbled by the number of people who actually want to see him on the outside and have donated. “But I need more. Prison life just doesn’t suit me and I have no idea how to make a shiv so the best thing would be for me to make bail.” To free Gabe and donate to the MDA click here.
UCSB Killings/U.S. Gun Laws, VA Hospitals Scandal, Prince Charles Anti-Capitalism Speech, Marine Held in Mexico Case, Kerry-Snowden Spat, U.S. GDP Dips, and NBA-NHL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/28). The aftermath of the deadly shootings at the University of California Santa Barbara and discussion about gun legislation; the continuing investigation into the scandals reported at VA hospitals; reaction to Prince Charles’ speech in which he advocates a new “inclusive capitalism”; the case of the U.S. Marine being held in Mexico on gun charges; Secretary of State John Kerry’s reaction to the Edward Snowden interview; the dip in the U.S. gross domestic product; and the NBA and NHL playoff action were among the top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Jerry Del Colliano
Inside Music Media
EXCLUSIVE TO RADIOINFO AND TALKERS
Millennials have their own technology just as baby boomers had records, radio and TV.
Except technology has very little to do with the impact that “Generation Y” is making on media and just about everything else.
Sure there is Facebook that they went to college with, and Napster that helped disrupt the record business, iPads, apps, smartphones, Instagram and their latest devilish work – to unbundle cable and make Netflix the new standard for the on-demand content they, well – demand.
Radio consolidated about the time the first Millennials were in grade school and the industry just assumed that young listeners would always be there to like radio.
The music industry that consisted of old white men who were lawyers thought Napster needed to be sued out of existence – and they succeeded.
But the damage was already done.
By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK — This is my experience. In my work, I have seen businesses grow and prosper when they embrace new, daring ideas based on marketplace demand. The winners are nimble organizations that jump on the neat idea and focus on the product, not organization politics. When fear of new ideas sets in and a business allows staff positions to grow too big and powerful, those businesses implode.
The current economic depression celebrates “operators” — executives with shrewd “operating” skills who are known for their ability to cut costs, cut staffs, sell their story to Wall Street and keep their company within its COMFORT ZONE. They do not have nor are required to have vision. Knowing what’s next is the key to growth in any industry. No vision, no growth.
Today, media businesses are excited when they show quarter-to-quarter, year-to-year growth. But this is false growth. Compare any media business with 2007 revenue figures and business is down. Five years after the depression began, revenue is still down.
Sun Broadcast Group, Inc.
NEW YORK — It was another sad week for network radio as more great people: mothers, fathers, sons and daughters… dreamers of great ideas, writers of great content, communicators of the stories that shape our world, were sent to the unemployment line. Was it greed? Was it failure to evolve? Was it competition? Maybe. But in my humble opinion it was something simpler yet more devastating… Fear. Fear to be bold, fear to take risks and most important, fear to defend.
More Thoughts from the Recent New Media Expo
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — In olden times, radio, like other ad media, sold exposure, audience tonnage. Sales reps would show-off ratings rankers… which I always thought was daffy. Would you go to a job interview with nine other applicants’ resumés?
• But there our call letters were, in black and white, atop the page of whichever-demographic-we-sorted. Reps recited the Reach + Frequency spiel, promising that a radio ad schedule would help the retailer “build brand.” “We’ll make you the best-known” among all-who-sell-what-you-sell. Repetition, y’know?
• Fast forward to present day: Mere message exposure doesn’t do it anymore. The E-word en vogue is engagement, and money is flowing to digital opportunities that talk-with customers, rather than simply talk-at-‘em.
By Holland Cooke
LAS VEGAS — Remember how iPod changed the way we collect and consume music? Decades earlier, Walkman had already rendered songs portable and empowered the listener-as-DJ. Then Apple obsoleted its own game-changer. As lines snaked around the block, again, for 2012’s iPhone 5 debut, sales of iPod and other mp3 players were plummeting 22%. We now tote our tunes on smartphones…which have also disrupted cameras, GPS, etc., etc., etc.
And again this week, 150,000 attendees here oooh’d-and-ahhh’d at 20,000 new products, many seeking to obsolete last year’s 20,000 shiny objects. That alone makes this a useful trek for radio folk. The CES conversation about what’s-new/what’s-next is a real pump-up compared to the “What’s left?” that haunts too much of radio’s shop talk.
By Holland Cooke
MCVAY/COOK & ASSOCIATES
LAS VEGAS –– They hadn’t even cut the ribbon to open CES2012 when the biggest radio story broke. Research In Motion admitted to something Apple won’t: There’s a sleeper chip in phones already in use –– RIM’s Blackberry Curve 9360 and 9380. Just download an app, and you activate the FM receiver you didn’t know you were walking around with.
Why this is big:
• Suddenly, there are millions of new radios. Researchers presenting at CES told us that half of all Americans now tote a smartphone.
• Radio is back in the pocket, for the first time since the 1960s.
• You can hear local stations’ over-the-air signals, which don’t consume your wireless data ration the way streaming does.
• Blackberry’s move should nudge Apple to respond.
Why this is a win-win-win-win-win: