Sirius XM Stock Soaring While John Malone’s Liberty Media Inches Toward Control. Yesterday’s $2.55 closing figure was satcaster Sirius XM’s (“SIRI”) best showing in more than four years. That’s the good news for CEO Mel Karmazin and his crew. The worrisome news, however, is the undeniable fact that John Malone’s Liberty Media – the company that rescued Sirius XM in 2009 by investing in 40% of the company at a bargain price – is closing in on acquiring the needed 50.1% ownership that would give it a controlling interest. Subsequent to the 2009 bail out, Liberty has been buying Sirius XM stock on the open market recently purchasing about 90 million shares at around $2.50 each. According to TALKERS sister trade publication Radio-Info, those transactions plus a “forward sale” agreement would bring Liberty’s interest to about 48% creating a behind the scenes radio reality show nail-biter.
Rick Roberts Lands at America’s Radio News Network. Veteran radio talk show host Rick Roberts has been named news co-anchor at America’s Radio News Network. Roberts, also a lawyer, has been heard in his 20 year career on such heritage outlets as KOA, Denver; KCMO, Kansas City; KRLD, Dallas; KOGO and most recently KFMB in San Diego. His is known for a distinctive style of getting the story “behind the story.” Commenting on how pleased he is to be working with ARNN CEO Mark Masters, Roberts tells TALKERS, “He is a man of true vision. Masters’ groundbreaking concept of journalism without agenda is needed in America now more than ever.” America’s Radio News Network, which offers 15 hours of syndicated long-form programming per week is now heard nationally on over 340 affiliates taking one or more of its five three-hour news segments.
Sandusky Scandal Impacts Pennsylvania Radio Station. Political scandal and questionable talk host remarks are not the only form of controversy that impacts spoken word radio’s ability to sell advertising and maintain a balanced competitive image. According to an Associated Press report, after 20 years of faithfully broadcasting Penn State football games to its loyal fandom, talker WAEB, Allentown, Pennsylvania finds itself at a crossroads between airing the school’s upcoming season (which kicks off September 1 against Ohio University) and pleasing the overwhelmingly large percentage of listeners who have let the station know they want to hear the games — while dealing with timid sponsors who are less enthusiastic about being associated with the scandal. Station management states they need about 10 sponsors to fund a full season of Penn State football. Prior to the Jerry Sandusky scandal it was always an instant sellout. So far they only have four.
Odds & Sods. The Minnestota Twins will be moving their live broadcasts from Hubbard-owned 1500ESPN, Minneapolis at the end of the season and begin airing games on KTWN 96.3FM beginning with the 2013 season. Their new radio home is owned by the Pohlad family – same folks who own the team. This is the first time the Twins games will be aired exclusively on FM….None other than President Obama was interviewed on sports talker KXNO, Des Moines to talk sports but Politico reports he snuck in a bit of politics when asked how playing sports was similar to being president stating, “It also turns out that political reporters are a lot like sports reporters. They’ve all got opinions, even if they didn’t play.”….Premiere Networks has launched a new satellite radio talk show featuring lifestyle expert and interior designer Moll Anderson heard Saturdays 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET on Sirius XM’s “Talk Radio” XM channel 168…Sports talker WFAN, New York’s annual talent search “Fantasy Phenom 111 Challenge” has narrowed its field to five finalists who will vie for the Grand Prize of a chance to host a once a week air shift on the legendary station for one year. The finals will take place on Friday, August 24 at Bar A in Lake Como, New Jersey. All finalists are New York Metropolitan area locals and were chosen from thousands of fans and listeners who showed up at auditions held at area Simon malls in July as well as online entries.
Obama Leaks, Family Research Council Shooting, Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/15). The ex-Navy SEALS video critical of President Obama for allegedly allowing dangerous leaks involving the shooting of Osama bin Laden and the shooting of a guard at the Washington, DC headquarters of the conservative Family Research Council, followed by the devastating effects of the drought brought on by the heat wave and violence in Syria were the most talked about topics on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing TALKERS research.
Genesis Communications Creates Central Florida News-Intensive Trimulcast. Genesis Communications Multi-Media Broadcast Group is flipping WAMT, Pine Castle Sky Lake, Florida (Orlando market) from ESPN Deportes and WIXC, Titusville, Florida (on the East coast) from sports to simulcasts of the company’s news/talk WWBA, Tampa Bay as it takes on more all-news content. The stations are picking up the TRN/Washington Times-produced “America’s Morning News” plus news blocks from TRN-owned America’s Radio News Network. Genesis CEO Bruce Maduri states, “We intend to provide central Floridians with the ability to access all-news, traffic and weather content anywhere, across the all-important I-4 corridor from Tampa Bay through Orlando, to the Space Coast and north and south along the Eastern Seaboard. Local, state and national coverage of the day’s breaking news is now accessible to the six million people who reside in this area of the state and up and down the east coast.” TRN CEO Mark Masters states, “We are proud to provide a complete support system to Bruce as he delivers to Central Florida the most powerful 15 hours per day of syndicated long-form radio news rooms, along with heavy news localization for his growing news empire. America’s Radio News Network provides a clock that not only gives nine to 10 stories and four to six audio actualities every quarter hour, but also allows for an amazing level of localization and customization so that you can go highly local or regional at the top and bottom of the hours, quarter hours, and even cut into entire segments for another layer of localization.”
CBS Radio and Merlin Media Butting Heads Over News Slogans. CBS Radio is notifying Merlin Media of what it deems trademark infringement for Merlin’s use of phrases like, “Give us 10 minutes, we’ll give you the world,” on its all-news WEMP-FM, New York, according to Radio Ink. The report indicates lawyers for CBS are giving Merlin until the end of the day today (1/19) to stop using the phrase (and others) stating it is “intentionally confusingly similar” to CBS’ “Give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world” slogan used on WINS, New York.
Consultant Bob Cohen Joins Board at Gow Broadcasting. The company brought Bob Cohen, through his Bob Cohen Strategies consulting firm, in to assist as Gow began working with Yahoo! to transform its Sporting News Radio into Yahoo! Sports. Now, Cohen joins Gow’s board of directors. CEO David Gow states in the San Antonio Business Journal, “Bob played a significant role in our strategic search and eventual exciting new partnership with Yahoo! Sports Radio. He has a depth of knowledge and experience in radio, sports radio networks and sports in general and has a track record of adding value and growth to the businesses with which he’s been involved. He has been active in our business, as a consultant and will also continue in that role along with the board seat.”
Morning Drive Host Jon Justice Re-Ups with Journal’s KTTH-FM, Tucson. Citing his success hosting the AM drive talk show at Journal Broadcasting’s KTTH-FM – “104.1 The Truth” – VP/GM Julie Brinks announces the company has signed Jon Justice to a contract extension to continue in that role. “This move demonstrates our renewed commitment to Jon, and to the listeners of 104.1 The Truth. The station continues to be a venue where points of view can be expressed in Tucson. Whether you agree or disagree, Jon will continue to stimulate the conversation for years to come!” The station notes Justice’s program has become one of the highest-ranked shows in the Tucson market with both men 25–54 and adults 25–54. Justice comments on his new deal, “I’m really excited to continue growing the show here in Southern Arizona, building off of the success I have had on ‘104.1 The Truth.’”
News Pro Steve Ray Named News Anchor at America’s Radio News Network. Talk Radio Network-operated America’s Radio News Network announces news pro Steve Ray joins the company to serve as co-anchor for the network’s news blocks. Ray has worked at such esteemed news outlets as WTOP-FM, Washington; WMAL, Washington; Westwood One; Metro Networks; and Radio Free Asia. Ray states, “I not only believe in Mark’s vision for the quality and scope of our news content, but his forward thinking vision of delivering ARNN across multiple platforms. At a time of great change in radio, Masters is once again in the right place at the perfect time.”
CBS Radio Ups Sarah Frazier to SVP/Market Manager in Houston. The cluster that includes sports KILT is now being managed by Sarah Frazier who is promoted from her VP/director of sales role to senior vice president and market manager for the group. Frazier takes over for Brian Purdy who is market manager for the Dallas cluster. Previously he had been responsible for both the Dallas and Houston markets.
Restraining Order Issued in Dispute Among Former WCAP, Lowell Owners. The talk station is north of Boston and since 2007 was operated by partners Clark Smidt and Sam Poulten until recently when the two agreed to part with Poulten buying out Smidt over a period of time, according to court records. But a Middlesex County Superior Court judge has issued a restraining order against Smidt after he showed up at the station attempting to take control from the operators. The order also forbids Smidt from destroying any of the financial records relative to the ownership and operation of the station. According to the Valley Patriot, Smidt had been negligent in paying the station’s taxes prior to the agreement for Poulten to buy out Smidt’s share and take over operation of the station. The FCC approved transfer of the WCAP broadcast license to Poulten on October 31.
Looming South Carolina GOP Primary, Obama Kills Oil Pipeline Permit, Wahlberg Flight 93 Flap, and Italian Cruise Ship Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). The GOP race to take Saturday’s South Carolina primary, the Obama Administration’s denying of a permit for Keystone XL’s Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, Mark Wahlberg’s controversial statement about preventing the downing of Flight 93, and the Italian cruise ship disaster were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
14 diverse talk radio personalities from industry superstars to college hosts share their candid views about the impact Election 2012 is having on their shows and talk radio in general in a new montage recorded directly on the floor of the New Hampshire Primary Radio Row produced by TALKERS magazine and Talk Radio News Service earlier this week. They also discuss the growing importance and sophistication of social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook in the talk broadcasting communications process. Participants include syndicated national hosts Neal Boortz, Roger Hedgecock, Kate Delaney, Scott Hennen and Jeff Santos; local hosts Dan Mitchell, George Russell, Paul Westcott, Steve West, Brian Tilden, Phil Paleologos, and Lee Davis; and college radio up-and-comers Joe Horigan and Emma Bisogo. According to Neal Boortz, “We have to convince people out there that politics is as important to them as Dancing with the Stars.”
Talk Hosts Sound Off on TALKERS TV About the Importance of the Election. 14 diverse talk radio personalities from industry superstars to college hosts share their candid views about the impact Election 2012 is having on their shows and talk radio in general in a new montage recorded directly on the floor of the New Hampshire Primary Radio Row produced by TALKERS magazine and Talk Radio News Service earlier this week. They also discuss the growing importance and sophistication of social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook in the talk broadcasting communications process. Participants include syndicated national hosts Neal Boortz, Roger Hedgecock, Kate Delaney, Scott Hennen and Jeff Santos; local hosts Dan Mitchell, George Russell, Paul Westcott, Steve West, Brian Tilden, Phil Paleologos, and Lee Davis; and college radio up-and-comers Joe Horigan and Emma Bisogo. According to Neal Boortz, “We have to convince people out there that politics is as important to them as Dancing with the Stars.” See this TALKERS TV exclusive video in the TALKERS TV box on this page.
Peak Broadcasting Enters into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Reorganization. Peak Broadcasting – owner of 11 radio stations in Fresno, California and Boise, Idaho – is entering into voluntary Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Reorganization after coming to terms with senior lenders. The original financing was led by GE Capital Markets. Peak lists assets of between $50 million and $100 million and debt of a similar amount. The good news for staffers is there appears to be no signs the company needs to take drastic steps from an operational standpoint in order to turn the company around. In a statement, CEO Todd Lawley says, “Operationally, Peak has improved its position in the markets it serves during one of the most difficult periods in radio broadcasting history. I am confident that Peak will emerge from the restructuring with a stronger financial foundation which complements our market-leading radio positions and allows us to continue to provide premier radio programming in the communities we serve together with the uninterrupted support of our customers, employees, and vendors.” Peak operates news/talk KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; news/talk KIDO, Boise; and sports KFXD, Boise in addition to seven music-formatted stations in the two markets. Upon approval of the plan, Peak Broadcasting will be owned by senior lenders that could include Oaktree Captial and Rabobank.
Rachel Crowson Named Co-Anchor at ARNN. America’s Radio News Network announces news pro Rachel Crowson becomes part of the news network’s on-air staff as a co-anchor. Crowson is a 20-year news pro who’s worked mostly in the Washington, DC market at operations including Metro Networks, Voice of America and ABC News Radio. ARNN CEO Mark Masters says, “We welcome Rachel into our exclusive news organization. Her background and demeanor are a perfect match for our non-partisan, long-form news programming. Stations continue to tell us they love the long-form news blocks so much they want more. We have been stunned by the high demand!”
WGN, Chicago’s Studio Moves Up in Tribune Tower. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports that Tribune Company is relocating WGN’s offices and studios – all except the showcase studio that faces Michigan Avenue – from the ground floor to the 7th floor. WGN has been on the ground floor of Tribune Tower since the station moved there in 1986 from the West Bradley Place studios it shared with WGN-TV since 1961. VP/GM Tom Langmyer tells Feder, “Our new location in the building will include a fresher and brighter workspace (as the relocated offices, sales area, news department and studios will have windows as well) and the technical operation and new studios will be fully digital, replacing the current analog equipment, much of which has been in service since WGN moved to the Tower 25 years ago.” Tribune Company plans to lease the current space to a new restaurant to be opened in 2013. The showcase studio that faces Michigan Avenue will still be the place from which personalities such as AM drive host Jonathon Brandmeier broadcast their shows.
Talk Host Phil Valentine Premiers New Film Attacking Global Warming Theory. Nashville-based nationally syndicated talk host Phil Valentine announces the premier of “An Inconsistent Truth” – the film he and Rocky Mountain Pictures produced to take on the theory of anthropogenic global warming. The film will receive a special showing on January 26 at the Regal Hollywood 27 Theatres in Nashville and opens to the public on the following day. Valentine stars in the film as he sets off in his bio-fueled car Bennie the BioBenz to discover why “a record number of Americans are now skeptical of man-made global warming.” Valentine says that, while making the film, “What I found is the belief in anthropogenic global warming is wide but shallow. People who believe in it have no idea why they do. It’s just what they’ve been spoon‐fed.” The documentary features noted scientists such as Dr. John Christy, a lead author of the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on global warming. Valentine also talks with Dr. Roy Spencer, the lead scientist on NASA’s Aqua Satellite which measures surface temperatures around the globe. Other scientists in the film include Dr. Fred Singer and Dr. Ken Green. Valentine also explores the economic ramifications of cap‐and‐trade legislation with current and former policymakers including Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator James Inhofe, Senator Jim DeMint and U.S. Rep. Greg Walden. For information on the film or to speak with Phil Valentine, contact Brian Wilson at 615-312-3481.
Compass Media Networks’ “Free Beer & Hot Wings” Morning Show Adds Saturday Program. The younger, male-demo-targeted “Free Beer & Hot Wings” AM drive show syndicated nationally by Compass Media Networks adds a Saturday morning program to the daily offering for affiliate stations. The WGRD-FM, Grand Rapids-based program is co-hosted by Gregg Daniels and Chris Michaels along with cast members Eric Zane and producers Joe and Steve and airs on more than 35 affiliate stations across the country. The program also announces it will be broadcasting live from the Super Bowl radio row in Indianapolis in February.
Florida Syndicated Talk Host Burnie Thompson Hosts “Freedom Rally.” Florida talk show host Burnie Thompson – who is independently syndicated throughout the state on nine stations – is hosting a “Freedom Rally” in Jacksonville on January 19 he says “is intended to galvanize voters to participate in the upcoming January 31 state primary, and to focus on true limited government and the protection of civil liberties.” Thompson’s event is co-sponsored by affiliates WBOB, Jacksonville and WYOO-FM, Panama City. The rally is being held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Jacksonville and will feature country artist Todd Allen Herendeen, WYOO-FM morning host Darrel Day and Fox News Channel contributor Dan Arias.
Compass Media Marketing Announces New Rep Deal with Point-of-Purchase Radio. The marketing firm newly founded by Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann and managed by president of sales & marketing Paul Gregery lands a deal to exclusively rep POP Radio – a leading in-store audio platform. Gregery says, “Tens of millions of Americans hear POP Radio’s advertisements every day and it is our mission to leverage the reach of POP Radio for the benefit of our sponsors.” Compass says it commissioned Edison Research to calculate audience exposure. “Through actual store visits and face-to-face interviews, Edison Research’s methodology has very accurately measured POP Radio’s listenership by including time spent shopping (a network radio TSL equivalent) and physically counting the shoppers present when the messages air.” Peter Kosann states, “POP Radio has a huge audience, unique platform and strong brand with national advertisers. We are appreciative and grateful that POP Radio has joined our growing company.”
Hutchinson Newsmaker Network Launches to Syndicate Weekly Program. Founded by “Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour” host Earl Ofari Hutchinson to syndicate the weekly news program, the new network says it is the first “African-American, West Coast-operated national broadcast network.” Hutchinson describes his weekly program as featuring “in-depth conversations with the nation’s top elected officials, political leaders and opinion makers in the White House, on Capitol Hill, as well as the nation’s leading political and social issue writers and commentators across the political spectrum. They fully air their views on controversial, topical, and crucial public policy issues, initiatives and legislation.” The program is heard on affiliates across the country including: KTYM, Los Angeles; WWNL, Pittsburgh; KCNW, Kansas City; WVTJ, Pensacola; and KXKS, Albuquerque.
Southern California Talk Host Given Local Honor. Captain Mike Whitehead, host of “The Boathouse Radio Show” on the CRN Digital Talk Radio Network, is honored by the Costa Mesa Daily Pilot by being included on its annual “103 Most Influential People of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.” Whitehead is a fixture in the community and a boating columnist for the Newport Beach Independent. CRN Digital Talk CEO Mike Horn says, “Captain Mike has been a big part of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa for many years and we’re thrilled to see him receive this outstanding honor.”
GOP Primary Race, Iran’s Military Ambitions and U.S.-Taliban Talks Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/11). The race to secure the GOP nomination for president, Iran’s military ambitions and nuclear weapons program and talk of discussions between the U.S. and the Taliban were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.