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Clear Channel Creates Major Markets Operating Group. Executive vice president Hartley Adkins, executive vice president Tom McConnell, senior vice president Kelly Kibler and Greg Ashlock are the MMOG’s four division leaders. The latter is Clear Channel Los Angeles’ former president, who adds president of Clear Channel Southern California duties. Each leader reports to chairman/chief executive officer Bob Pittman, who states, “As a company, we continue to assess every aspect of our operations to make sure we have the right structure in place to efficiently and effectively leverage our position as the country’s leading multi-platform media and entertainment company. Our Major Markets Operating Group will collaborate with our local market management to oversee our entire spectrum of media and entertainment platforms in our largest and highest revenue-generating markets. These include everything from our core broadcast radio and its strong digital platform, whose traffic has doubled in the last year, and the extremely successful iHeartRadio digital platform, to events and our expanded coordination with Clear Channel Outdoor – all of which we are increasingly mobilizing to benefit our national and local advertising partners.” President of regional markets Matt Martin continues in his position; however, president of operations for major markets Tom Schurr departs the company. Regarding Schurr, Pittman notes, “During his tenure with us, Tom played a big role in Clear Channel becoming the media and entertainment leader it is today. All of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment joins me in thanking Tom for the many contributions he has made to our company.” Meanwhile, Pittman states Major Markets Operating Group will increase empowerment and accountability of the company’s individual market leaders.
Sullivan Takes Over Middays on WGST, Atlanta Today. Less than two years after exiting the afternoon drive slot on CBS RADIO’s then-triple A WZGC, Atlanta, Rich “Sully” Sullivan returns to the air in the market as the new 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm host on Clear Channel Media + Entertainment’s news/talk WGST. Station program director Matt Shiflett says, “We are excited to have Sully join our team. His knowledge of the city and ‘man-on-the-street’ attitude will solidify 640 WGST as Atlanta’s compelling talk radio station.” Sullivan was the afternoon drive personality on WZGC “Dave FM” for six years from 2006 through 2012 before the station flipped to sports talk.
Cleveland’s “Fan” Continues as Gladiators Flagship. For the third consecutive season, CBS Radio Cleveland’s WKRK “Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan” will be the Arena Football League team’s radio outlet. According to CBS Radio Cleveland vice president/market manager Tom Herschel, “The intense, hard-hitting games of the AFL fit perfectly into our lineup.” Gladiators’ chief operating officer Mike Ostrowski comments, “We are extremely excited to continue our relationship with ‘The Fan.’ They do a great job of delivering football-related stories, updates, and content to our fans. We look forward to working with them again this season with the on-going goal of growing the Gladiators brand in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.” Doug Plagens enters his third successive year handling play-by-play, while current “Fan” personality/former National Football League player Dustin Fox will provide analysis on home games. In addition to game broadcasts and pre- and post-game shows, the station will air daily Gladiators reports each afternoon.
New Weekend Shows Added to TheBlaze Radio Network. Beginning next Saturday (3/22), TheBlaze Radio Network is expanding its lineup including new programs featuring cable news/talk personalities Will Cain and S.E. Cupp; KFMB, San Diego talk host Mike Slater and long-time radio and television producer Mike Opelka. TheBlaze Radio Networks VP of programming Dom Theodore says, “This new Saturday lineup underscores TheBlaze Radio Network’s commitment to original programming. We are absolutely thrilled to add Mike Opelka, Will Cain and SE Cupp, and Mike Slater to our already successful Saturday talent roster of Chris Salcedo and Joe Pags. This is just another great step in our continued growth as a network.”
Odds & Sods. Radio pro Turi Ryder is on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago in the 11:00 pm to 2:00 am slot all this week (3/17-21). Ryder, who worked a six-month stint on WGN last year from her home studio in the Bay Area, has relocated to Chicago. She appears this week in the unsettled slot between evening host Pete McMurray and overnight personality Nick Digilio…..Results Radio’s new FM signal in Rhinelander, Wisconsin signs on as a sports talk outlet branded “Sports Radio 96.5” using programming from CBS Sports Radio Network plus Fox Sports Radio/DirecTV’s Dan Patrick and regionally syndicated personality Bill Michaels. The company won WHOH at 96.5 FM in an FCC auction in 2013.
Nielsen: 68% of Americans Heard a Network Radio Commercial During Average Week. That figure is for Americans 12 and older, according to the Nielsen March 2014 RADAR Radio Network Ratings report which says more than 181 million persons heard a network radio commercial during an average week. Other bulletpoints from the survey designed to illustrate the reach of network radio include Nielsen’s conclusion that commercials aired on the 46 measured networks reached: 71.2% percent of persons aged 18-49 (95.8 million listeners) and 71.9 % of persons aged 25-54 (90.0 million listeners). In the top 25 DMAs, network radio reached: 70.7% of persons aged 12+ (95.1 million listeners); 74% of persons aged 18-49 (51.1 million listeners); and 74.6% of persons aged 25-54 (48.6 million listeners). View the study here.
Colloquial Spanish Term Kills Ad Deal for CBS RADIO and Univision in Texas. The Dallas-based Pizza Patron chain’s ads for its new pizza with jalapenos in it won’t air on CBS RADIO or Univision stations in Texas. According to a story published on NorthCountryPublicRadio.org, the name of the product and the content of the ad are too controversial for the broadcasters. The radio campaign for La Chingona implies that only chingones are able to handle its spiciness. What is a chingone? A search of urban dictionaries indicates a chingone is what Americans would call a “bad-ass,” but the root of the verb is the Spanish slang for f**k. Younger Hispanics say there is nothing inherently bad about the word but they admit it’s not a word they would use in front of their grandmother, either. According to the NorthCountyPublicRadio.org piece, this isn’t the first time the company, whose target audience are Mexican immigrants, has ruffled feathers. Several years ago it did a “pesos for pizza” promotion that offered discounts for customers paying with Mexican pesos. The company received a lot of flak but business jumped 34%. The most recent promotion apparently has CBS RADIO and Univision fearful of the FCC due to the use of the chingona term.
Brenner’s Run At Radio Royalty. By now, you most likely know that popular comedian David Brenner passed away over the weekend. The Philadelphia native succumbed to cancer at the age of 78. What you might not be aware of, however, especially if you read any one of at least a dozen or so different obituaries is that Brenner holds a relatively high-water mark in radio history. Nowhere though was it mentioned in any account we saw. It was as if radio was magically expunged from Brenner’s past. Lest anyone doubt it though, David Brenner did, in fact, replace Larry King when the bespectacled talk show veteran quit his syndicated radio show nearly 20 years ago (June 1994). Perhaps part of the confusion is that King was a nighttime fixture for years and in January 1993, Jim Bohannon - King’s regular fill-in – took his slot. King though did not disappear – he segued to afternoon drive. Most will remember Bohannon directly replacing King at night – which is true. It is also correct though that Brenner then succeeded King in PM drive. Unlike King, who transferred his Mutual Broadcasting show from Washington, DC to Westwood One in Los Angeles, Brenner based his program from New York. According to Claudia Puig - then a superb writer for the Los Angeles Times (6/24/1994) – Brenner’s afternoon drive program was carried “in more than 100 markets” and the comedian did not attempt “to emulate King or to discuss weighty topics.” Puig opined in her piece that to many in talk radio at the time, the move represented, “a clear-cut example of the heightened emphasis being given to entertainment in their format, as opposed to information.” Regarding the succession, iconic Los Angeles talk radio personality Michael Jackson commented to Puig that it was, “sad when you see a Larry King replaced by a David Brenner. Let’s see what kind of staying power Brenner’s show will have. If you equate entertaining with telling jokes, I’m not that good at it, but if you equate it with hospitality and building a bridge with an audience, that’s what I do.” Rewinding 20 years and witnessing how the industry viewed this choice to take over for Larry King is certainly a fascinating exercise. Esteemed talk show host Bruce Williams chimed in back then by saying, “Brenner is an unknown quantity. He is certainly a very funny comedian. I don’t think he has exhibited as yet an interview capability or a radio capability, but then all of us were unknown quantities before we got into this.” Taking a somewhat different tact – and as a reminder – this is from a 20-year-ago Claudia Puig column in the Los Angeles Times, KABC and KMPC, Los Angeles’ then general manager George Green commented, “Larry King was tired and they replaced him with a pure entertainer in hopes of drawing younger people. As talk radio has become a very hot medium, you start looking at the word ‘entertainment’ as being more important than it was before. ‘Entertainment’ does not necessarily mean a program that makes you laugh. There can be many ways to entertain.” King producer Pat Piper did similar duties for Brenner. “There have always been attempts in radio to make people laugh,” Piper mentioned to Puig. “It is good to hear some guys having fun. When people call in, they say, ‘David, this is such a breath of fresh air.’ Not all of talk radio has to be what you see on ‘Crossfire.’” Brenner had a two-year contract with Westwood One. As it turned out, that was exactly how long the experiment lasted, as the syndicator pulled the plug on Brenner’s PM drive effort in June 1996. Notwithstanding a limited two-year radio run, Brenner was as adept at observational humor as anyone else was. His 1983 album “Excuse Me, Are You Reading That Paper?” is a comedy classic. Most, of course, will remember the Temple University honors graduate from a slew of “Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” appearances that began in 1971. Many published accounts have the number of visits at 158 – the show’s most frequent guest and fifth most popular guest host (75 times). The five-time author (his latest – “I Think There’s a Terrorist in my Soup” – was published in 2003) headlined four HBO specials. Prior to getting into comedy, Brenner helped write, produce, and direct 115 television documentaries. Longtime Brenner friend Joan Rivers tweeted, “RIP David Brenner. I adored him, and laughed more with him than anybody. Sad, sad, sad. Knowing David, he’s now making the devil laugh.” The funniest Brenner-related note we came across was relayed by family representative Jeff Abraham who points out that Brenner’s final request was to have $100 in small bills tucked in his sock, “just in case tipping is recommended where I’m going.” Brenner’s gravesite will read, “If this is supposed to be a joke – I don’t get it.”
Talk Host Dr. Daliah Wachs Organizes Fundraiser. Las Vegas-based talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs is organizing a fundraiser to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Dubbed “FROST” (Fundraising Radio Host), Wachs says the contest will involve a challenge to radio hosts. The radio host who brings in the most proceeds will be awarded a prize valued $1000, a plaque, and recognition as the 2014 FROST winner. Runner ups will be recognized as well. It’ll start April 14 and end May 10. Interested radio hosts can message Dr. Daliah Wachs at firstname.lastname@example.org before April 1.
Boston Herald Radio Launches August 5 at 6:00 am ET. The concept of the full-blown, digital-age “media station” predicted and described for the past decade by Michael Harrison and other radio industry visionaries will be taking a giant leap toward coming to fruition at 6:00 am ET on August 5. The Boston Herald newspaper is unveiling its ambitious new initiative “Boston Herald Radio” – a Boston-centric news/talk/sports radio station that will begin its life as a venue for four live three-hour shows running weekdays from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. These programs include:
- 9:00 am to 12:00 noon – “Morning Meeting with Jaclyn Cashman and Hillary Chabot” (Cashman is a former Springfield, MA TV anchor/reporter and multimedia consultant and Chabot is the chief political reporter with the Boston Herald.)
- 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm – “Sports Town with Jon Meterparel and Jen Royle” (Meterparel is a former WEEI personality and current Boston College play-by-play announcer and Royle is an Emmy-award winning Major League Baseball reporter, TV/radio host.)
This will be the first news/sports/talk radio platform in the Boston market backed up by a full multimedia newsroom under the brand of a major newspaper and one of a handful of such operations beginning to pop up around the country. News reports will be provided throughout the broadcast day by Boston Herald editors and reporters. Feature elements will include Boston Herald music, TV, movie reviews, political and business reports, style and food segments as well as live reports from staff reporters who travel with all four major teams and provide extensive high school sports coverage. The stream will be managed by Backbone Networks (the same company working on the forthcoming mid-August launch of TalkersRadio) and carried by Tune In as well its home base on the Boston Herald website and its mobile news and sports apps. The shows will be streamed from a studio adjacent to the Boston Herald newsroom. The studio team includes executive producer Tom Shattuck (formerly of WRKO and WTKK) and two part-time producers (Shattuck pictured at right, is here with Backbone Networks VP of engineering development George Capalbo, at left). Boston Herald editor-in-chief Joe Sciacca tells TALKERS, “Consumers want news and information that is mobile, and they want to be active participants connecting and collaborating on the issues of the day, not passive receptors being lectured to. That is our mission in print, online, in video presentations and now Boston Herald Radio.” Sciacca adds, “I see myself not as a newspaper editor but as the leader of a news organization that creates high-quality, original content for use across platforms — whether it is print, web or broadcast.” According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, who was writing and speaking about the potential of newspaper websites providing radio broadcasters with powerful platforms to operate on the internet as long as 10 years ago, “This amazing development in Boston marks the tipping point in the evolution of the digital-age news and entertainment platform. The brilliant and obvious idea of newspapers and radio stations rubbing their two sticks together (literally and figuratively) will send sparks flying that will potentially proliferate into a 21st century ‘media station’ wildfire. By ‘media station’ I mean an online platform that has the cultural stationality of a radio station, a television station, a newspaper and a magazine combined – all in one location – fueled and synergized by the combined resources of each.” Harrison maintains that the internet alone is not a practical platform. He says, “By itself, the internet has no form, no definition and no prestige, similarly neither do the so called ‘airwaves’ of 20th century audio and video media. The key is to build prestigious, well-defined platforms that will sail across the internet — the way ships, yachts and ocean liners sail the seas and the way glorious theaters give Broadway its pizzazz or great stadiums separate the big leagues from sandlot baseball. If an actor, dancer or musician is performing ‘on Broadway,’ that could mean they are doing their act on the stage of the Winter Garden or on the sidewalk in front of the Winter Garden. It is the same thing with the internet. Prestigious, well-resourced platforms give you a place to put the key to monetization: a box office!” Walter Sabo, CEO of the New York City-based consultancy firm Sabo Media (whose clients have included SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Parade magazine and numerous leading radio firms and talent), says, “When Jeff Katz or Michael Graham are on the air doing their shows in a studio right next to the Boston Herald newsroom, they will be one door away from an-in house news gathering and processing operation that employs hundreds of journalists. This is a brilliant move!” Sabo adds that his firm has been developing a new division for the past several months that will specialize in advising newspapers in executing this kind of move, stating, “I have been hearing from a number of publications – dailies and weeklies – that are very interested in pursuing these exciting new opportunities, but they realize that they not only need people with on-air broadcast experience, but people who have broadcasting management insight as well. The Boston Herald was smart to hire Tom Shattuck.” Summing up the synergy aspect of his new media station, Boston Herald editor-in-chief Sciacca tells TALKERS, “Our multimedia reporters are producing award-winning video reports every day, producing broadcast-quality segments with compelling interviews and streaming content. Is this a TV newsroom? An online newsroom? A radio station? A newspaper? It’s today’s Boston Herald.” He continues, “The power of Boston Herald Radio when it comes to breaking news will be incredible. Listeners can be confident they will be not only engaged and entertained by our talk shows, but will be insiders on breaking news in real time.” Boston Herald publisher and president Patrick J. Purcell (pictured at left with Joe Sciacca, right, in the Boston Herald newsroom) says, “Internet radio is exploding and it makes sense that the Herald rounds out our multimedia platform with talk radio programming. It’s perfect synergy. Boston Herald Radio will be fast-paced, uncensored, entertaining, completely interactive and, most important, very respectful to our listeners. We have a terrific team of seasoned hosts who are smart, respected and extremely versatile. They live in our communities and fully understand and appreciate the complexities of issues folks care about.”
Memo to Newspapers on the Verge of Launching Radio Stations on Their Websites: Do it Correctly! Noted radio consultant Walter Sabo is no stranger to working in the intersection between print media and talk radio. In a new advice column posted today (7/29), he offers several key points from a list of essential ingredients that are required for talk-oriented media stations based on publication websites to achieve success and longevity. He advises newspaper executives to hire experienced radio executives to lead the station as well as seasoned, accomplished talk hosts to execute it. He suggests protecting and growing the brand by taking advantage of the traffic already on the website and creating programming that delivers topics in which newspaper readers are already interested. Most of all, understand that talk show hosts are like newspaper columnists – more so than reporters. Listeners realize this and do not expect the spoken word of opinion to mimic the printed word of editorial fact and objectivity. To read Walter Sabo’s entire piece, please click here.
Another Report of a Cumulus Split from Limbaugh and Hannity. We’ve heard these rumors before about Cumulus Media dropping Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and the latest comes from Politico. The mag reports that inside sources say Cumulus is not satisfied with the results of negotiations to reduce the cost of airing the Limbaugh and Hannity programs on their 40-some news/talk stations that carry them. Both contracts reportedly are up at the end of this year. As most industry insiders are aware, there are cash considerations as well as inventory that airs outside the actual programs associated with carrying Limbaugh and Hannity and that, presumably, is what the bone of contention is. Politico does report that a Cumulus spokesperson said the company does not comment on negotiations with talent under contract. Cumulus holds its Q2 conference call tomorrow morning but don’t hold your breath waiting for Lew Dickey to comment on the Limbaugh/Hannity issue. The tone of the Politico piece makes it sound as though this is about the politics of Limbaugh and Hannity and whether the “Sandra Fluke case” is still haunting the sales efforts. If that were the case, negotiations over the cost of the programs would be irrelevant. Ultimately, the Dickeys’ decision will likely be based upon whether they make enough money off of Limbaugh and Hannity to justify the cost while considering what the company could do with personalities such as Michael Savage, Mark Levin and Mike Huckabee to cover the time slots now held by Limbaugh and Hannity.
The Social Media Trick You Don’t Know You Know. Although the term “call to action” has a slightly different application in broadcasting than it does in social media, it is increasingly growing in importance as a concept to managing content in the digital arena. In a new column posted today (7/29), noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller says that radio broadcasters can apply “call to action” concepts with which they are very familiar from their broadcasting experience to social media with merely a few tweaks and turns of a phrase. To read Miller’s entire column, please click here.
Entercom Splits KJCE-AM/FM, Austin Simulcast; New Lineup for KJCE-AM. The FM side of Entercom’s KJCE, Austin becomes an urban AC outlet as the new “96 R&B” featuring Premiere Networks’ Steve Harvey in morning drive. KJCE-AM remains news/talk as “News Radio 1370” with some additions to the lineup, returning Talk Radio Network’s “America’s Morning News.” Entercom Austin vice president and market manager Alan Kirshbom states, “By bringing back ‘America’s Morning News’ from 5:00 am to 8:00 am and moving Courtside Entertainment’s Laura Ingraham to live programming from 8:00 am to 11:00 am, KJCE once again proves it is Austin’s and Texas’ Talk Station.” The station is also bringing back Dial Global’s Dennis Miller to air from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm followed by Dave Ramsey and Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity.
Radio One’s All-News KROI, Houston Partner with KHOU-TV for Weather. Radio One all-news “News 92 FM” announces a partnership with CBS TV O&O “KHOU 11” for the latter to provide weather for KROI. Radio One regional vice president Doug Abernethy states, “Why compete with the best when you can team up with the best? KHOU 11 has built a stellar reputation as a local weather leader in Houston and we are thrilled to welcome KHOU 11 and their outstanding meteorologists to join our 24-hour ‘News 92 FM’ team to provide our audience the best, most accurate, up-to-the-minute weather coverage.”
Syndicated Bill Michaels Sports Talk Program Adds Madison. Based at Entercom sports talk WSSP, Milwaukee, the statewide syndicated Bill Michaels program announces it will add Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s WOZN-AM, Madison “The Zone” beginning August 8. The midday sports talk show airs live from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and is in its second year of syndication. “We’re delighted to welcome another Mid-West Family Broadcasting station to the Bill Michaels Sports Network,” says Michael Keck, vice president and market manager for Entercom Wisconsin. “Bill’s enthusiasm and talent is contagious and that’s a big reason we continue to grow.” Michaels comments, “This is a dream come true. I feel like I’m now able to reach all Wisconsin sports fans. I’m anxious to connect with the strong sports fan base that is represented in Mad-town.”
‘The Black Sphere’ Radio Show Gaining Traction. The Kevin Jackson-hosted “Black Sphere Radio Show” announces it adds WEZO, Augusta, Georgia to its list of affiliate stations. Earlier this year the program added Salem Communications’ WGUL and WLSS in the Tampa-St. Petersburg and Sarasota markets. Program senior producer Mickey White says, “Kevin is gaining in popularity and we will be adding markets and new sponsors in the very near future. Kevin’s blend of entertainment with politics is getting lots of attention. We are in talks with stations across the country, including some large market stations in Nevada, Colorado and California and we expect to make a lot of big announcements in the near future.”
Man Arrested After Threatening WGAC, Augusta’s Austin Rhodes. A 25-year old Augusta, Georgia man was taken into custody last week and held on $2,600 bond after allegedly threatening WGAC, Augusta talk show host Austin Rhodes with bodily harm. After Darnell Tyray Chambers made what Rhodes considered a threatening statement about him on Facebook, he reported the threat as per Beasley Broadcast Group company policy. According to the Columbia County News-Times, police arrested Chambers on charges of making terroristic threats and acts.
KFI, Los Angeles Celebrates 20 Years of Bill Handel. Clear Channel news/talk giant KFI, Los Angeles is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Bill Handel as the morning drive talk personality on the station. Handel began hosting the program in July of 1993 but the station says it will officially celebrate the anniversary with an extravaganza for listeners in November but on Friday, July 26, Rich Marotta, Michelle Kube, Mike Nolan, Neil Saavedra and Gary Hoffmann reminisced about their favorite Handel moments during the 5:00 am hour of the program. To say that Handel is important to the station’s success would be an understatement. Handel is consistently one of the highest-rated daily talk radio programs in the country in terms of cume.