By Michael Harrison
Odds are your usual haunts in the newspaper, magazine, general entertainment and information arenas have become cluttered with terribly annoying pop up ads, videos that start playing loudly without invitation (sometimes more than one at a time) – and maddeningly confusing hodge-podges of editorial and commercial content laid out in such a manner as to make it almost impossible to follow an article without being sidetracked into a unwanted advertisement. (Hmm, which one of these three arrows should I click?)
How about the emergence of that creepy entity known as the “sponsored” or “promoted” story that innocently sits among the non-paid editorial content on so many of our distinguished bastions of journalism.
Cumulus Releases Q3 Financials: Net Revenue Up 2.1%. Cumulus Media is scheduled to hold an investors conference call soon on the third quarter 2013 financial report it released this morning. CEO Lew Dickey states, “This was another solid quarter for the company. Our growth initiatives complimented our core business, which continued to take share, and we are seeing a continuation of these trends in the fourth quarter.” In today’s report, Cumulus notes net revenues for the three months ended September 30, 2013 increased $5.7 million, or 2.1%, to $281.1 million, compared to $275.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2012. “This increase was primarily attributable to a $4.6 million increase in local spot advertising revenue, an increase of $2.1 million in national advertising revenue, an increase of $1.3 million in live event revenue, and an increase of $0.9 million in revenue due to the addition of stations in the Bloomington and Peoria markets which were acquired in July 2012, all of which was partially offset by a decrease of $2.9 million in cyclical political revenues.” For the first three quarters of 2013 the company reports net revenue increased $11.2 million, or 1.4%, to $803.6 million compared to the same period a year ago.
KXL, Portland Agrees to Billboard Change After Complaints. Station officials for Alpha Broadcasting’s news/talk KXL, Portland say there was no disrespect intended when it put up a billboard in the Old Town/Chinatown section of the city that read: “We Love You Long Time. FM News 101 KXL.” The line is a take-off on line from the movie “Full Metal Jacket” which is spoken by a Vietnamese prostitute. It’s become a cultural meme and was used in the 2 Live Crew rap hit “Me So Horny.” According to KION-TV, Alpha director of marketing Randi P’Pool said, “It’s a famous quote from an old rap song. We thought it would get attention but in no way meant disrespect to anyone. The new message will read ‘Stay Connected, my friends. FM News101.'”
Former Washington Redskin Dexter Manley Banned from WTOP. After appearing on Hubbard’s WTOP, Washington and making accusations about former Dallas Cowboys quarter back Troy Aikman and using a homosexual slur, former Redskin’s great Dexter Manley will no longer contribute to WTOP sports content. During an analysis of the Washington Redskins-Denver Broncos game with hosts Mike Moss and Bruce Alan, who jokingly suggested that Aikman jinxed the Redskins by calling the game for Fox Sports, Manley stated, “I think Troy Aikman is a queer.” Moss and Alan challenged Manley and he finally apologized. WTOP vice president of programming Jim Farley later issued this statement: “This morning in a live interview former Redskins player Dexter Manley made an offensive and derogatory comment. He was immediately challenged by WTOP news anchors Mike Moss and Bruce Alan. We were shocked and stunned and we apologize to our listeners that this happened on WTOP. WTOP has contacted a representative for Manley and informed her that he will not be returning.”
SCBA Celebrates Ad Category Increases. The Southern California Broadcasters Association reports that according to the September Miller Kaplan Arase X-Ray report just published, there has been outstanding growth in key ad categories as well as impressive new business development for LA radio. SCBA president Thom Callahan states, “We have a lot to cheer about based on this report. Key category growth for September includes: Education, up 114.7%, Insurance up 66.0%, Healthcare up 16.9%, TV/Networks/Cable up 44.0%, Communications/Cellular/Public Utilities up 43.7%, Charitable/Religious up 29.9% and Concerts/Theater up 69.9%. While September Auto growth was up by 5.9%, this was due mainly to a brief pause as dealer inventory for 2014 was being delivered slowly from a number of factories. On a year-to-date basis, we have seen new categories increase as new brands discover the power of Southern California radio. Education continues to grow by 56.9%, Appliances/Electronics up 53.4%, Transportation up 33.3%, and the emerging Retirement Community category is up 24.3% with Financial up 23.1%.” Callahan says that in addition to all of the increases in existing ad categories, the good news is the emerging new categories as they underscore “a vibrant and re-discovering mode for many of our Southern California Radio advertisers. However, the most important headline of all for Southern California radio is this: On a YTD basis, radio has earned the trust of 521 new advertisers, who combined, have spent $34,378,238 in new business with our members!”
Cherry Creek’s KEYZ, Williston, North Dakota Adds Talk Programming. The station had been branded an agricultural news and classic country outlet but recently the station added a number of syndicated news/talk programs to its weekday lineup while keeping the classic country on weekend. New shows include the regionally syndicated Joel Heitkamp program, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity, WestwoodOne’s Dennis Miller and Jim Bohannon programs, and Premiere’s “Coast to Coast AM.” The station has also re-branded itself “660 News Radio.”
WJOB, Hammond, Indiana Partners with Purdue Calumet. Vasquez Development-owned news/talk WJOB, Hammond, Indiana and Purdue University Calumet have entered into a partnership that will see the station move into the school’s Commercialization Center. According to the Post-Tribune, the station will lease and renovate a 1,700 square foot space for its broadcasting and digital media center. WJOB expects to begin working in the space in March with a mid-April broadcast operations start time. The Post-Tribune reports that WJOB is co-owned by Alexis Vazquez Dedelow and her husband, Jim Dedelow. Jim Dedelow, who manages WJOB day-to-day operations while also hosting the weekday morning drive program, “JED in the Region,” said the partnership with Purdue Calumet will help WJOB build on its reputation as one of the most high-tech radio stations in America.
Nielsen Audio October PPM Data Released. PPM data from 12 of the 48 markets in which Nielsen Audio’s PPM reports are used has been released. Complete charts from Nielsen are available at TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo as well as the “Ten Takeaways” from West Coast bureau chief and managing editor Mike Kinosian. To see the PPM data, click here.
NextMedia to Digity LLC Price: $90.5 Million. That’s how much Dean Goodman-led Digity LLC is paying NextMedia for the 35 stations in eight markets it is acquiring. However, two of the suburban Chicago stations – hot AC WZSR, Woodstock and classic rock WFXF, Dundee – are being spun off to Matrix Broadcasting for $5.52 million.
‘Kristening’ the New PodcastOne Studios. Kathie Lee Gifford’s “Kathie Lee and Company” is the first podcast to be recorded at the new PodcastOne Los Angeles studios and Gifford was honored to have “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” matriarch Kris Jenner in to talk about family, faith and careers. The episode will be available tomorrow at www.PodcastOne.com. The weekly “Kathie Lee and Company” podcast launched last week with Regis Philbin as the first guest. The company says that in addition to interviewing celebrity guests on her one-hour show, Gifford shares her thoughts on topics of the week and offers encouraging and inspirational anecdotes. Above: Jenner (l) and Gifford (r).
NSA Spying Controversy, Court Rules Texas Abortion Regs Unconstitutional, ObamaCare Website Status, Superstorm Sandy Anniversary, and Lou Reed Passes Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/28). The expansion of the NSA spying controversy to include European heads of state; a court ruling declaring parts of the new Texas abortion regulations unconstitutional; the status of the ObamaCare website and the repercussions of the Affordable Care Act; the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy; and the passing of rock icon Lou Reed were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Stephanie Miller Riding High on Radio, Live Show and Comedy Record Success. WYD Media Management and Dial Global syndicated progressive talk radio host Stephanie Miller rolls into 2012 surfing the wave of success she began in 2011 using her popular radio show – and social media – to help promote her “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” and the recently released comedy album of the same name that’s topping the charts. With the help of comedian pals John Fugelsang and Hal Sparks – both of whom make weekly appearances on Miller’s Los Angeles-based radio show – the “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” has been selling out shows across the country and grossed more than $1.4 million over the last 12 months. Miller is astounded by the success of the tour and the album. “Last spring when we performed in Madison, Wisconsin to support the recall efforts of Governor Scott Walker we had no expectations that the show would be as well received as it was, let alone set upon a nationwide tour raising money for locally focused progressive causes,” Miller says. The resulting comedy album, released digitally, has been hugely successful. Miller tells TALKERS, “The ‘Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour’ has become the first political comedy album to reach # 1 on the comedy charts for iTunes, Amazon and Billboard, and has remained on the Billboard Comedy Album charts for six weeks since its release in late-December, 2011. The idea of progressive comedy making such a connection to people across America must be causing some serious Republican angina…at least I hope so!” Miller, Fugelsang and Sparks continue to hit the road with the live show stopping at the Orpheum Theatre on Phoenix on February 25 and the Chicago Theatre in Chicago on March 3.
WQAM, Miami’s Sid Rosenberg Back in the News with Alleged Gambling Debt. The Miami Herald is reporting that WQAM, Miami PM drive sports talk host Sid Rosenberg has a gambling debt of more than $44,000 he owes to an offshore gambling operation called www.1betvegas.com. Gossip Extra columnist Jose Lambiet quotes a man named Frank Soviero who says he works for the gambling site – based in Costa Rica – and says he’s been in Miami for two months now trying to collect the debt. Soviero tells Lambiet, “We can’t sue Sid since what we do is illegal in the United States. I’ve tried everything. He comes up with 100 bucks here and there, and he gives me a big hug. It ticks me off because I talked my boss into giving Sid a few chances. And I’ve seen [my boss] do things when he gets mad.” Neither Rosenberg nor WQAM have commented to the paper. Rosenberg was off the air for six weeks prior to the holidays and there was speculation then that he was being punished by the station for trying to repay a gambling debt via plugola – something Rosenberg vehemently denied to TALKERS. Station management also did not confirm the story to local media but only said that Rosenberg was off and would return on January 2, which he did. When asked by TALKERS to specifically clarify why he was off the air during that time, Rosenberg did not reply. Read the Miami Herald story here.
WLW, Cincinnati’s Bill Cunningham Gets Big Network Pickup for TV Show. Tribune Company launched “The Bill Cunningham Show” last September on a number of its O&O TV stations. Now, Tribune announces the show is being picked up by the CW Network and will air in the 3:00 pm ET slot beginning in September. Tribune Broadcasting president of programming and entertainment Sean Compton – one of the few remaining former Clear Channel execs brought to Tribune by Randy Michaels – tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter, “Since the launch of ‘The Bill Cunningham Show’ six months ago, the show has exceeded expectations and found a strong voice in the daytime talk landscape…The renewal and expansion of the show to a national platform are a testament to Bill’s staying power.” Kiesewetter reports that Cunnigham’s TV show is more popular in New York, Chicago, Miami and Dallas than it is in his hometown of Cincinnati. While taping the show, Cunningham does his WLW program from studios in Manhattan.
Lou Sipolt and Heather Burnside Exit WOW-FM, Des Moines After Five Weeks. The duo moved over to the news/talk sister station from Cumulus Media Group’s classic rock KGGO-FM in January after 13 years as a duo in morning drive there. But after just five weeks hosting the AM drive show on 98.3 WOW (KWQW-FM), Sipolt and Burnside surprised their listeners with an 8:40 am announcement on Friday, February 10 that they were leaving local radio to pursue other interests. Sipolt does a motorsports talk show on Fox Sports Channel. Burnside isn’t saying what she’ll do next.
Fox Business Network Drops Three Prime Time Shows; Will Replay Early Evening Programs. The four- and a half-year-old Fox Business Network cancels the three prime time shows airing between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm ET – “Freedom Watch,” hosted by Andrew Napolitano; “Power & Money” with host David Asman; and “Follow the Money” with Eric Bolling – and will re-air its 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm programming. The move puts what Fox execs consider their top personalities on in prime time: “The Willis Report” with Gerri Willis; “Cavuto” with Neil Cavuto; and “Lou Dobbs Tonight” hosted by Lou Dobbs. David Asman co-hosts the 4:00 pm “After the Bell” program and will continue in that role while Eric Bolling remains in his role on Fox News Channel co-hosting “The Five.” Fox executive vice president Kevin Magee states, “Neil Cavuto, Lou Dobbs and Gerri Willis are the most trusted names in business news, and this new lineup affords Fox Business viewers additional access to their no-nonsense take on the day’s financial events.”
Talk Show Hosts Wow 275 at American Jewish University Panel. Approximately 275 avid talk radio fans showed up for a two-hour panel discussion held Sunday (2/12) afternoon at American Jewish University in Bel-Air, California. Moderated by veteran Los Angeles broadcaster Bill Moran, the panel featured Bill Handel and Bill Carroll of KFI, Los Angeles; Patt Morrison of KPCC, Los Angeles and Southern California Public Broadcasting; and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison. The fast-paced discussion blended a spectrum of hot topics in the news – everything from health care to Israel/Iran tensions to social media to Whitney Houston – plus behind-the-scenes radio shop talk and ended with a spirited question and answer session with the audience. This was the fifth annual installment of this panel, one of AJU’s most popular events in its outstanding speakers series.
Salem Radio Network and Radio America Reach News Service Deal. A pact between Dallas-based Salem Radio Network and Washington-based Radio America is being struck that will make SRN News the exclusive top- and bottom-of-the-hour news service distributed by Radio America. This move adds some 400 Radio America affiliates as potential carriers of SRN’s news product. SRN president Greg Anderson states, “The potential of adding up to 400 Radio America affiliates to our roster of almost 1,300 current SRN News affiliates is very exciting for us. We look forward to a great partnership with Radio America and their affiliates in the days ahead.” Radio America COO Mike Paradiso comments, “SRN News is a great fit in our lineup of talk programs and will serve our 400-plus stations well in this election year. We’re excited to be partnering with SRN on this venture.”
Blue Star Media Promotes Jon Patch to VP of Affiliate Sales. Jon Patch has been with Blue Star Media Group’s Business TalkRadio Network and Lifestyle TalkRadio Network for the past 15 years serving in numerous capacities, most recently working in affiliate sales and hosting the 21 year-old talk radio show “Talkin’ Pets.” Now, Blue Star ups Patch to vice president of affiliate sales for the organization. Patch says, “I believe in working with our stations as partners and offering the best service possible since, by keeping them happy, it in turn keeps the hosts, listeners and all others involved satisfied and happy as well.”
Bonneville’s Arizona Sports Enters into Marketing Agreement with University of Phoenix. Bonneville International’s Phoenix-based sports media initiative – Arizona Sports – agrees to a broadening of its relationship with University of Phoenix that includes the naming rights to the Arizona Sports studios. Bonneville describes Arizona Sports as “a first-of-its-kind sports marketing and media super brand encompassing all of Bonneville Phoenix sports media properties including: Arizona Sports 620 KTAR-AM, Arizona Sports.com, Arizona Diamondbacks baseball, Arizona Cardinals football, Phoenix Suns basketball, Arizona State football and men’s basketball, ESPN radio, AIA and the Fiesta Bowl.” Bonneville Phoenix VP of news and sports content Ryan Hatch says, “Bill Pepicello (University of Phoenix president) and his entire team have been a great partner of ours for many years. We’re excited that – from “Mike and Mike in the Morning” to “Doug and Wolf” on the drive home – all of our shows will now be broadcast from the University of Phoenix Studios.”
CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles Continues “On Your Corner” Series in Culver City. The CBS Radio Los Angeles all-news outlet will broadcast live from the Culver Hotel in Culver City on Friday, March 9 as part of its series that provides an “in-depth look at Southern California’s diverse communities.” The day’s broadcasts will include civic and business leaders, along with colorful personalities connected to Culver City’s rich history and revitalization who will be featured guests as the city marks its 95th anniversary. Additionally, a business mixer open to the public beginning at 5:00 pm will culminate the day’s events. A special luncheon for invited business leaders will be hosted by Frank Mottek prior to his KNX Business Hour broadcast.
KMOX, St. Louis Holds Spring Training Correspondent Contest. In conjunction with sponsor Lindenwood University, CBS Radio’s KMOX, St. Louis is conducting a contest to give one lucky winner a spring training correspondent position alongside sports director Tom Ackerman in Jupiter, Florida. The winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip and will perform on-air and online Spring Training reports. The station has been holding open auditions for the past month. Nearly 200 people auditioned and 10 finalists have been announced. Listeners to KMOX can vote on their favorite through February 21.