Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts Purchases Irving, Texas Studios Serving as Headquarters for TV and Radio Productions. Since 2012, Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts – the parent company of TheBlaze – has been renting The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. Now, the company announces it is purchasing the former television and movie studio to serve as the network’s flagship television and radio facility. Mercury Radio Arts says the 72,000 square foot facility, which will now be known as Mercury Studios, features three sound stages that are up to 14,500 square feet. TheBlaze produces six hours of live programming every day from Irving. TheBlaze also currently leases a studio in Midtown Manhattan. Beck states, “We are proud to call Texas our home and be part of the local community in Irving. We are building a world-class facility that provides TheBlaze with the highest quality talent and top-of-the-line production capabilities so American stories can be told to viewers across the country.” TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood comments, “TheBlaze has quickly built up the capacity to produce over 43 hours of original programming per week and we are excited to now have our own multi-media base as we continue to grow.” The facility was built in 1982, and has been the site of the production of movies and television shows including “Robocop,” “JFK,” “Silkwood,” “Prison Break” and “Walker Texas Ranger.”
CBS Atlanta Puts “Sportsline” TV Show on Hold After Firing Steak Shapiro, Chris Dimino and Nick Cellini. It was only a matter of time that in the wake of the highly publicized cancellation of the “Mayhem in the AM” morning show on WQXI, Atlanta that the weekend TV sports talk show the trio did for CBS Atlanta would also see its end. After the Steve Gleason bit that caused the three to lose their jobs at the radio station, the TV station’s general manager Trey Fabacher announced the “CBS Atlanta Sportsline” show would go on hiatus and the relationship between the station and the three co-hosts would end. CBS issued the following statement regarding the incident: “Our employees, our partners and sponsors in no way support the content that was aired by this radio team on Monday morning.”
TOM RAY RECOMMENDS: Check Out the “Alert FM” App. Engineering consultant and TALKERS technical editor Tom Ray writes in a new column posted today (6/20), “I just found an app that is a helluva lot more useful than what FEMA has mandated on your cell phone in regards to weather warnings. And, it has great potential to be a tool for your broadcast operation, whether you’re on the street reporters, newsroom, or just the announcers and jocks are equipped with it. The app is available for iPhones and Android devices, and is called Alert FM.” Check out Tom Ray’s entire column by clicking here.
Beasley Broadcasting Names Justin Chase to New Corporate VP of Programming. The promotion of Justin Chase from operations manager for Beasley’s three Las Vegas music outlets – KCYE, KKLZ and KOAS (as well as GGB Las Vegas-owned KVGS) – to the new corporate post of vice president of programming gives Chase the charge of overseeing all programming responsibilities for the company’s portfolio of 40-plus radio stations located in 11 radio markets across the country. The company adds other duties to the position with Chase being charged with “developing creative campaigns that extend the radio stations’ on-air brands to the digital space.” Chase reports to president and COO Bruce Beasley. The company lauds Chase for the ratings and revenue growth the stations have experienced since he came aboard in 2009 – from CBS Radio’s crosstown AC KMXB — making Las Vegas one of the company’s top-performing markets. Bruce Beasley states, “Justin possesses all the traits and strengths we were we looking for in a vice president of programming when we decided to create the position at Beasley’s corporate level. Over the last four years with our company, he has demonstrated his ability to program numerous formats, develop and maintain strong relationships within the industry and create campaigns that extend stations’ on-air brands to digital platforms. We believe Justin is the perfect fit for this new position.”
Charlottesville Talk Host Coy Barefoot Jumps Across Town to WCHV-FM. Talk media personality Coy Barefoot leaves Saga Communications’ WINA, Charlottesville, Virginia to join Monticello Media’s WCHV-FM for the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot. Barefoot also hosts a weekly Sunday morning program on Newsplex-owned TV in the market called “Inside Charlottesville” and his radio show at WCHV-FM takes the same name. Barefoot began his program on WINA in 2006. The move to Monticello Media’s news/talk simulcast of WCHV-AM/FM means the station separates programming for the two hours when Barefoot’s show is head on the FM and Premiere’s Sean Hannity continues to be heard on the AM signal.
WJZ-FM, Baltimore Morning Co-Host Ed Norris Returns to Air After April Motorcycle Accident. Former cop Ed Norris who now works as morning drive co-host at CBS Radio’s sports talk WJZ-FM, Baltimore “105.7 The Fan” returned to the air on June 19 after almost two months off the air. Norris was involved in a motorcycle accident in which he swerved to avoid a truck. He suffered broken ribs, a broken arm and head injuries but has healed well enough to be back on the radio – although he tells WJZ-TV he’s still injured and still in some pain. Norris co-hosts the morning show with Steve Davis.
NAB Files Comments with FCC Requesting Indecency Policy Provide Clarity. The National Association of Broadcasters has filed a 42-page report containing its comments in regard to the FCC’s request for such on Adopting Egregious Cases Policy. The crux of the NAB’s comments is that the commission’s policy on indecency needs to be clear and contain examples. “The Commission’s broadcast indecency policies must, at the very least, adhere to the constraints of Pacifica — and thus, unlike the 2004 Golden Globe decision and its progeny, they must be limited and restrained. Golden Globe and subsequent decisions focusing on fleeting expletives and isolated nudity led to unpredictable, arbitrary and unconstitutional enforcement of indecency rules and policies that chilled broadcaster speech. Any policies going forward not only must be cautious and restrained, as Pacifica requires, they also must be as predictable, consistent and clear as possible.” The NAB also states it believes: 1) the commission should no longer treat fleeting or isolated expletives and images as actionably indecent; 2) that, to be actionably indecent, challenged material must fall within the scope of its indecency definition —that is, the material must describe or depict sexual or excretory organs or activities. The NAB also asks that the commission must use language that is as precise as possible and provide relevant examples and context in its policies and decisions. If the commission cannot establish sufficiently clear indecency regulations so that broadcasters know what is expected of them, then broadcasters cannot be subject to liability for alleged violations of those standards.
Arbitron Modifies TLR Policy Affecting Out-of-Market Streaming. Arbitron announces a modification to its Total Line Reporting policy beginning with the Summer Diary Survey and the July 2013 PPM. Arbitron explains: Over-the-air stations and streams that simulcast have been eligible for Total Line Reporting (TLR) for a number of years. Combos that receive TLR are reported with a combined total line using the “primary” station’s call letters, selected by the combo from among the over-the-air stations. Until May 2013, in order to be eligible for TLR, a stream had to simulcast 100% with its over-the-air partner, including any commercials, throughout the stream’s reach. Starting May 2013, Arbitron introduced a change in the policy that enables a stream to receive TLR while substituting commercials outside the home market of its over-the-air partner, subject to certain restrictions. After carefully reviewing this policy and with input from the Radio Advisory Council, Arbitron is modifying this policy to provide greater flexibility to stations that stream. Starting with the July 2013 PPM report month and Summer 2013 Diary survey, a stream is eligible for TLR as long as the stream simulcasts all content 100%, including commercials, in the home Metro and DMA of its over-the-air partner. Under this new policy, the stream is not required to simulcast any content outside the over-the-air station’s home Metro and DMA. The 100% simulcast requirement for streams will remain in effect in the over-the-air station’s Metro and DMA. Over-the-air stations requesting TLR with one another will also need to simulcast 100% without exception, as required under the long-standing Arbitron TLR policy.
RTDNA/Hofstra Survey of Radio and TV News Directors Paints Unclear Picture of State of Radio News. The annual survey of radio and television news directors and general managers by Hofstra University professor emeritus Bob Papper in conjunction with the RTDNA was released on Wednesday and regarding radio news, Papper states, “Overall in the survey, 77.7% of radio stations run local news — 78.8% of AM stations and 77.2% of FM stations. The overall percentage is up a surprising 8.8% from last year, with AM stations up 9.8 points and FM stations up 4 points. As I do each year, I would urge caution on those numbers. The numbers are based on stations that return the survey, and since it’s a news survey, stations that run news could well be more likely to return the surveys than stations that do not. It’s possible those percentages are too high.” Papper reports that regarding changes in radio news and plans for the future veered from past years. “Historically, these numbers have tended to be pretty consistent, but this year is different. The percentage of stations reporting an increase in news fell from 30.1% last year to 22% this time around. The percentage reporting a drop edged up from 4.9% to 6.7%. Non-commercial stations were a little more likely to increase the amount of news; so were stations in the biggest markets.” You can see the summary of the entire study here.
Obama Nukes Plan/Berlin Speech, ‘Gang of 8’ Amnesty Deal, NSA Surveillance Program, DOJ News Organization Monitoring, and FBI Domestic Drones Policy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/19). President Obama’s nukes reduction plan and his speech in Berlin; the “Gang of 8” illegal immigrant amnesty deal; controversy over the National Security Administration’s surveillance program; the effect of the Department of Justice’s monitoring of phone and email records of news organizations on sources; and the FBI’s admission to using drones in the United States were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Frosty Stillwell Returns to Talk at CC’s KKSF, San Francisco for Middays. Hot AC KIOI, San Francisco “Star 101.3” morning show co-host Frosty Stillwell will continue his work alongside Sandy Stec on the Sandy & Frosty program until a replacement is named but today (6/4) he begins immediately hosting the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show on the company’s talk KKSF “Talk 910.” Stillwell was part of the Frosty, Heidi & Frank trio that spent years at hot talk KLSX, Los Angeles. He also had worked at Clear Channel’s KYSR, Los Angeles and filled in at talk KFI. Frosty says, “I am thrilled to get back to what I’ve done for the past two decades, talk radio. ‘Talk 910’ dominates the format in San Francisco. While I loved being part of the music and personality show on ‘Star 101.3,’ there was just no way I could pass up this enticing opportunity right down the hall to get back to my true passion.”
Peter Boyles Officially Out at KHOW, Denver. Less than two weeks after being removed from the air on Clear Channel Denver’s talk KHOW, station management officially cuts the ties between the longtime Denver personality and the station. Peter Boyles was taken off the air on May 24 after an altercation between Boyles and his producer Greg Hollenback that reportedly escalated into a physical attack on Boyles’ part. The incident made the news immediately as local media was in the building to cover a press conference with politician Tom Tancredo. KHOW program director Dan Mandis wrote an email to the Denver Post notifying the paper Boyles is no longer with the company. Guest hosts have been sitting in on the morning show since that time and no permanent replacement has been announced.
Programming VP Mike Elder Exits Fox News Radio. One of the most respected programming executives in talk radio, Mike Elder, has left Fox News Radio after serving the past eight years as the company’s VP of programming. Elder, a veteran PD of such great stations as WRKO, Boston; WLS, Chicago; WCCO, Minneapolis; KTOK, Oklahoma City and KMBZ/KCMO, Kansas City tells TALKERS, “It was an amicable parting of the ways. My contract was up, cuts were being made to the staff, and we both agreed to move on. And this was the longest tenure of a more-than-40-year career, so I was living on borrowed time anyway.” Elder continues, “This has been one of the best jobs I’ve had, or that radio still had. [Fox VPs] Kevin Magee and Bob Finnerty were very supportive of our efforts and our channel on SiriusXM as well as the internet and affiliates. They allowed me to put together a great staff and I appreciate their support over the past eight years.” What next for the 40-year veteran of talk and music radio? He tells TALKERS he will probably move back to his home in Boston and believes he has at least one more job in him. He will take the time to explore his options as a programmer and talent coach. “I still feel I have another gig left in me, so I am not shutting the door on radio. I would welcome the chance to work with great talent and production staffs again. But I’m open to something new as well. There is a whole new world on the internet that will require content, and not the same ol’, same ol’. I’d love to work on something new, exciting, challenging and dynamic that would allow me to put my over 40 years of experience and skills to use in a new and different way.” Mike Elder can be reached at Mikeelder@me.com or 646-256-5653.
Joe Thomas Puts ‘The Afternoon Constitutional’ on Hiatus. WCHV, Charlottesville, Virginia program director and morning drive host Joe Thomas announces that “after two-and-a-half years of independent conservative analysis of the news and events for Virginia’s great cities of Richmond, Roanoke and Charlottesville,” he’s taking the regionally syndicated afternoon show off the air. Although Thomas says of “The Afternoon Constitutional,” “It’s more like a ‘dry docking’ of a great ship that has taken you to amazing places but now needs to be refitted with some new things for her future voyages. Stay tuned!” Thomas continues his roles as morning host and program director at WCHV. He can be reached at email@example.com
Progressive Talker KTNF, Minneapolis Sold to Chad Larson. Sales manager Chad Larson believes in progressive talk and he’s agreeing to pay current owner JR Broadcasting (Janet Roberts) $1.5 million for the AM signal. JR Broadcasting paid $3 million for the station in 2004 from CBS Radio. Currently, the station airs local morning host Matt McNeil’s “The Morning Grind” plus WYD Media’s Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz and Compass Media Network’s Norman Goldman.
Odds & Sods. The Boston Globe reports that rumors are flying in town that Entercom’s sports talk WEEI is contemplating a change to its midday show by moving Mike Mutnansky out and replacing him with Comcast SportsNet New England’s Jessica Moran. Mutnansky co-hosts the “Mut & Merloni” show with former Red Sox player Lou Merloni…..At ESPN Radio, the NBA Finals are the hot topic as Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love and former NBA head coach Doug Collins join “Mike & Mike” as co-hosts. Love will join Mike Golic and Ryan Ruocco, who will sub for Mike Greenberg, on Thursday, June 6 – the morning of Game 1 of the Finals. Doug Collins, who most recently coached the Philadelphia 76ers, will join Golic and Greenberg the morning after Game 3, Wednesday, June 12. Both guests will be part of an NBA-centric programming block from 6:00 am to 10:00 am.
George Beasley Receives Honorary Doctorate. Beasley Broadcast Group chairman and chief executive officer George G. Beasley is pictured here at Appalachian State University’s recent May commencement receiving Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa from the school’s chancellor Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock. A native of Patrick County, Virginia, Beasley has deep ties to Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, NC receiving both his undergraduate (’58) and graduate degrees (’60) from ASU. Most recently, he contributed the lead gift making a new broadcasting and media facility on campus possible – the George G. Beasley Media Complex, which is scheduled to open later this year. Beasley vice president of corporate communications Denyse Mesnik tells us that education was a first love of George Beasley’s. “Prior to broadcasting, George was a teacher and ultimately a high school principal. In fact, while building his first radio station he was a principal until the school bell rang, then a radio station owner late afternoons, evenings and weekends.”
Michael Douglas Oral Sex Flap, Senator Lautenburg Dies, IRS Scandal, DOJ Journalists Investigation, Obama Administration Secret Email Accounts and Syria Chemical Weapons Charges Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/3). Michael Douglas’ public statement that oral sex caused his throat cancer; the death of Democratic New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg; the ongoing scandal involving the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups; the Department of Justice’s investigation of journalists; the controversy over some Obama Administration appointees using secret email accounts; and the chemical weapons use charges against the Syrian military were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.