Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze to Be Available in Tri-State Area Via Cablevision’s Optimum TV. Beginning later this month, Glenn Beck-founded TheBlaze network will be available to New York City and the surrounding area as it will be included in Cablevision’s Optimum Preferred, Silver and Gold Packages. The channel is available to Optimum TV commercial customers with Optimum Business or Optimum Entertainment. Cablevision VP of video product management, Bradley Feldman, states, “Optimum TV is the only cable provider in the Tri-State area to bring our customers original programming from Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, and the independent network will add more diversity to our strong lineup, providing our customers with more choices that our customers appreciate.” In a statement from Beck’s organization it says TheBlaze “offers a full slate of original news and opinion shows like ‘Real News,’ ‘Wilkow!’ and ‘For the Record,’ late night comedy like ‘The Wonderful World of Stu’ and ‘B.S. of A.,’ family-friendly programming like ‘Liberty Treehouse’ as well as thought-provoking documentaries and original specials. TheBlaze first launched on September 12, 2011 as GBTV and quickly grew into one of the world’s largest online streaming networks with over 300,000 subscribers. One year later, TheBlaze became a television network.”
CBS Q1 2013 Report: Company Up 6%, Radio’s Top 10 Markets Up 2%. The bulk of the discussion during yesterday’s conference call centered around TV for CBS, as it usually does. But CEO Les Moonves stated up front that the company continues to build “on the terrific debut of the CBS Sports Radio Network. We’ve added 20 affiliates to our roster since our last call. In addition, CBS Radio played a major role in this year’s success of the Academy of Country Music Awards. This is a show that perfectly complements our radio audiences, as evidenced by all the artists who mentioned the power of radio in their acceptance speeches.” CFO Joseph Ianniello noted that, comparable to the same period a year ago, the top 10 radio markets were performing up about 2%. Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Read more here.
Former Citadel/Cumulus Birmingham Cluster Manager Bill Thomas Sues Company for Unlawful Termination. Add discrimination to that under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Bill Thomas, a.k.a Michael Thomas Stainback, alleges in the complaint filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama that the company knew he had heart ailments that resulted from a 2009 heart attack yet he still performed his job well and even received bonuses based upon performance. Thomas alleges that in February of 2012, after telling Cumulus corporate management that he’d been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, he was terminated by the company six days later. He’s seeking unspecified damages as well as back pay.
‘Freedom Feens’ Show to Join GCN. The “Freedom Feens” weekend talk show co-hosted by Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi will debut on the Genesis Communications Network on Saturday, May 11. Dean and Vedadi describe their program as a “great-sounding, feisty weekend show about free markets, the police state, the war on drugs, the right to keep and bear arms, computer security, honest money, self-defense, self-employment, marriage, do-it-yourself media production, marketing, music and more.” Regarding the title of their program, the duo explain, “‘Feen’ means ‘fiend,’ and the ‘Freedom Feens’ support the rights of the smallest minority, the individual.”
Time to Do Some Spring Cleaning Out at the Transmitter Site. For many of you who broadcast out of the Northwest, Midwest, North, and Northeast, this winter was a bear! Snow, ice and wind can cause issues for your transmission facilities. So it’s time to do a thorough inspection of your transmitter sites – both the main transmitter sites and anywhere you may have an STL transmitter or receiver. In a timely article posted today (5/2) noted engineering consultant and TALKERS technical editor Tom Ray offers up an invaluable “to-do” list to make sure your transmitter remains happy in the coming spring, summer and fall months after enduring a pretty painful and damaging winter. Get the whole story here.
Odds & Sods. WRKO, Boston afternoon drive talk show host Howie Carr broadcasts live from La Verdad Mexican restaurant near Fenway Park this afternoon from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm as he promotes his latest book , Rifleman (Frandel, LLC 2013), a true-crime story about infamous Boston mobster Steven Flemmi. Carr will stay after his program ends to sign copies of the new book…..Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington is conducting its second annual “Communter Idle” contest through Friday, May 3. The contest asks DC commuters to share their daily travel horror story to win prizes and possibly be the grand-prize winner who’ll receive $1,000 in gas money and a limo ride to work courtesy of Reston Limousine. Runners-up will receive $150 gas cards…..It may be a sign of the times that one of the most popular shows on CNN is the new “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” travel and food program that airs on Sunday evenings on the cable news/talk channel. But new CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker is so thrilled with the its performance that he’s already ordered another season of the show that will debut on September 15.
Cinchcast, Inc. Establishes Strategic Advisory Board. One of radio’s technological innovators and dynamic entrepreneurs of the new digital age, Alan Levy – founder and CEO of BlogTalkRadio and its “white-label” sister firm Cinchcast, Inc. – has announced the appointment of two well-known executives to Cinchcast’s new strategic advisory board: Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters and Steve Bornstein, former head of the NFL‘s digital media operations and ABC Sports/ABC, Inc. president and ESPN chairman. Levy tells TALKERS, “It’s an honor to be working with Tom and Steve as we continue to build, develop and scale the Cinchcast and BlogTalkRadio businesses.”
Practically an Exclusive. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) doesn’t do a lot of conservative talk radio shows. But Talk Radio Network star Rusty Humphries – who spent part of his earlier career at KKOH in Reno – was able to secure a no-holds-barred interview with Senator Reid at Humphries’ affiliate station KDWN, Las Vegas. Reid was in his home state while the Senate is on recess and he spoke with Humphries about the hot issues facing Congress. Pictured here are (from l-r): Humphries, Reid, and KDWN program director John Shaffer.
Suspects Arrested in Marathon Bombing, ObamaCare Implementation, Benghazi Cover-Up Charges, and Gay Athletes Flap among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/1). The arrest of more suspects connected with the Boston Marathon bombing case; the cost and implementation of the Affordable Care Act; charges that the Hillary Clinton-run State Department covered up aspects of the Benghazi attack; and the flap in the media over gay athletes were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Greater Media’s Sports Talk WPEN-FM, Philadelphia Tweaks Daily Lineup. The Philadelphia sports talker promotes two from their Saturday program to a daily midday show. Jon Marks and Sean Brace began holding down the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot on Monday. Marks most recently co-hosted with Tony Bruno and Brian Baldinger, weekdays 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm respectively. Sean Brace (as Jon did before him) also produced the Mike Missanelli show for the past year. As a result of the move, Brian Baldinger moves to the evening show where he co-hosts with Joe DeCamera for the 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. Program director Matt Nahigian says, “Jon Marks’ and Sean Brace’s on-air chemistry has been on display every Saturday morning for the past two years. The two young and up-and-coming sports talk hosts have created a fun and irreverent show that the Fanatic Philadelphia fans enjoy.”
More Legal Tussles Between Cumulus and Cox Media in Birmingham. Sports talk outlets WJOX and WZNN in Birmingham are at it again it court, this time over programmer Ryan Haney’s move from WJOX to WZNN. At issue is the non-compete clause in Haney’s contract. The Birmingham News reports that Citadel (Cumulus) is arguing Haney is in breach of his contract with the company by leaving to work for direct competitor WZNN “ESPN 97.3 The Zone.” Further, Citadel wants a temporary restraining order against Haney to prevent him from working while the case works its way through the system. Citadel also wants the court proceedings blacked out to the media because in arguing its case it will have to disclose confidential and proprietary business information. A judge is set to hear arguments this morning (2/5). Haney’s non-compete was for the period of one year after exiting WJOX which he did in early January. Haney had been with WJOX since 2004.
Your Radio Station is Vulnerable to Identity Theft. We all are aware of the dangers of identity theft and many of us do our best to protect ourselves individually from the dire consequences of having our identities stolen. But what about your radio station? Does it even know that there is a problem? Recently we have learned that both The New York Times and the Washington Post had their computers breached by Chinese hackers and this was not the first time. The hacking into The New York Times and the Washington Post do not appear to be financially motivated, but that is of little solace. Why would an identity thief hack into the computers of your radio station rather than attack the computers of big corporations such as Bank of America? Well, the answer is that they are attacking the computers of the big corporations, but they also are looking toward the computers of small corporations as the low hanging fruit of computer hacking. Radio stations make enticing targets. Hacking into the computers of radio stations and other small corporations that may not be in the Fortune 500 not only can provide information that can be stolen to access your radio station’s bank accounts, but it can also provide personal information about employees (some of whom are famous and even controversial), such as Social Security numbers as well as billing and payment information about your advertisers and other companies with which you do business that can be used to make all of these people and entities victims of identity theft. This is happening to small businesses every day. One of the reasons that it is happening is that not enough businesses, small and large, but particularly small, are doing enough to safeguard the security of the data in their computers. According to TALKERS legal editor Steve Weisman the problem is not as bad as you think. It is far worse. Read his important article addressing the problem and offering solutions here.
Programming Pro Alan Eisenson Joins Media Management Group as EVP of Business Development. Talk radio programmer Alan Eisenson most recently was in charge of programming Clear Channel’s Northern California news/talk stations: heritage KFBK-AM/FM and KSTE, Sacramento as well as KKSF and KNEW, San Francisco. Now he joins New York-based Media Management Group as executive vice president of business development. The firm states, “In his new capacity Eisenson will enable MMG to expand its range of services, including performance and tactical support, and maximizing client audience growth across all media and technology platforms.” MMG president and CEO Jeff Schwartz states, “I have known Alan for over 12 years, since he was program director at WEVD here in NYC. He is one of the most talented programmers and talent managers in the business and will enable us to offer additional value to our current and prospective clients.”
CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh “Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan” Promotes Two. Late night sports talk host Chris Mueller is upped to the afternoon drive slot as part of the program hosted by Joe Starkey and Josh Miller weekdays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Mueller is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. He has been with “The Fan” since its February 2010 debut. About Chris Mueller, program director Ryan Maguire says, “In Chris, we feel we have a dynamic personality who really had great chemistry with Joe Starkey and Josh Miller. That speaks volumes because we had some very talented candidates that we were looking at for this position. He earned this, and we’re excited at what lies ahead.” Moving into the late night slot is weekender Colin Dunlap, who was most recently hosting the 8:00 am to 11:00 am weekend program. Dunlap is a former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer. In addition to his on-air duties at “Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan,” Dunlap will also serve as the featured sports columnist for 937thefan.com.
How to Pump Up Your Weekend “How-To” Show – Part 2. Talk radio consultant Holland Cooke says, “Few marketing opportunities can generate more new business than local ‘how-to’ weekend talk radio…if you use it properly.” In this follow-up to yesterday’s piece, Cooke offers four basic tips to maximizing the productivity and quality of these shows: 1) Stay relentlessly on topic; 2) Keep your information in layman’s language; 3) Don’t say “goodbye” at the end of the show; 4) Listen to the show yourself, after some time has gone by so you hear it more objectively. Read Holland Cooke’s suggestions for producing quality weekend “how-to” programs here.
Austin Hill and Brian Wiley Join KINF-AM/FM, Boise. Impact Radio Group news/talk KINF-AM/FM, Boise brings talk pro Austin Hill aboard for the morning drive program beginning Monday, February 11. Also being added to the program schedule is Brian Wiley who will bring his “Money Show with Brian Wiley” to the station for the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot. Both Hill and Wiley previously worked at Peak Broadcasting’s crosstown KIDO. Austin Hill’s weekend syndicated show “Austin Hill’s Big World of Small Business” airs on Saturdays on KINF.
Obama Gun Legislation Tour, Obama Cabinet Nominees, Super Bowl XLVII, Immigration Reform, and Death of Ed Koch Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/4). President Obama’s tour of the country to promote his gun legislation; cabinet nominations for President Obama’s second term; the aftermath of Super Bowl XLVII; the debate over immigration reform legislation; and the death of former NYC Mayor Ed Koch were among the top news/talk stories discussed on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Q2 Revenue Dips; Major Market News/Talkers Singled Out. Cumulus Media’s revenue shot up more than 350% due to the inclusion of the former Citadel stations and the former Cumulus Media Partners properties it folded into its portfolio, but on a pro forma basis, revenue for the company was down 1.7%. During yesterday’s conference call, CEO Lew Dickey indicated 10 stations in the top 10 markets – many of them news/talk outlets were responsible for the company’s loss with three stations in particular accounting for $5.5 million of a $10 million revenue loss. He said if those stations had been kept out of the equation the company would have seen revenue go up 2%. Dickey promised the company is working on fixing those stations but cautioned it would take time – as much as four more quarters. If the ultimate goal is to get other companies’ syndication properties off those major market news/talkers – and those fees can be very high – and replace them with Cumulus Media Networks shows to, a) cut the cost of the programming to those stations and, b) reap a much greater percentage of revenue from those shows, expect to see some lineup changes at those major market news/talkers over the next 12 months.
Lew Dickey Stands Behind Mike Huckabee. Questions about the performance of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in syndication via Cumulus Media Networks were expected by analysts on yesterday’s conference call and when they were asked, Dickey strongly defended Huckabee – whose national program debuted in March – saying his team is doing an excellent job clearing the show and compares the venture to a “marathon.” Dickey also said the company intends to sign more talent in the near future. He told analysts that a lot of companies are locked in to current contracts with other syndicated programming so rolling out Huckabee (and Geraldo Rivera) will take time but, so far, he’s pleased with the results.
Herman Cain Takes to the Road on Fall “Truth Tour.” Former presidential candidate Herman Cain – and heir to the nationally syndicated Neal Boortz show when Neal hangs up his headphones in January – will take to the road beginning September 5 in Iowa City for what he’s calling “The Truth Tour.” It’s sponsored by Job Creators Solutions – an organization founded by Cain and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. The tour is billed as “an aggressive 30-day, 30-city schedule of events that aims to provide Americans with facts, information and resources to help them in their decision making process before hitting the polls in November.” Cain says, “Bernie Marcus and I both know first-hand how important it is to have the facts when making business decisions. We also know it’s just as important for Americans to have the facts when making decisions that will impact our communities, businesses and our nation. This is why I’m proud to join forces with Bernie for ‘The Truth Tour.’” Herman Cain will begin his nationally syndicated radio show on January 21, 2013 – Inauguration Day – and will be a regular guest on the Neal Boortz show on Mondays and Fridays at 10:35 am ET and is his primary fill-in host.
WSCR and WBBM, Chicago Host “Business of Sports: Life After the Game.” CBS Radio sports talk WSCR and all-news WBBM are hosting the Comcast Business Class Newsmakers “Business of Sports: Life after the Game” panel sponsored by MB Financial on Thursday, September 20, at the House of Blues in downtown Chicago. CBS Radio says the event will consist of the biggest names in Chicago sports, discussing their success in the business world after playing. Panelists will include: multi-sport star Bo Jackson, Chicago football great Gary Fencik, and “Miracle on Ice” star and former professional hockey player, Jack O’Callahan with more to be added. The event will be hosted by 670 The Score’s morning drive team Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley (pictured here). WSCR program director Mitch Rosen says, “We are looking forward to hosting what will be an all-star event. I think the Chicagoland consumer, specifically people interested in sports business, will enjoy the all-star panel we have put together. With Bo Jackson headlining this event, it will be a great opportunity to hear his business ideas and philosophies. Bo is one of the greatest stories in the sports industry and has numerous accomplishments as a two-sport professional athlete. For sports fans and business people alike, this will be a can’t-miss event.”
Media Matters Gets into the Talk Radio Game. The anti-conservative media organization Media Matters for America is hitching its wagon to a new talk show on the SiriusXM Left channel called “The Agenda Powered by Media Matters.” The daily show is being hosted by Media Matters senior advisor and Fox News critic Ari Rabin-Havt and debuts Monday, August 13 from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. SiriusXM promotes the show saying, “Ari Rabin-Havt will lead the daily conversation of young influential progressive political insiders reviewing the day’s events and setting the tone for the next days’ news cycle. ‘The Agenda Powered by Media Matters’ will be a first-of-its-kind on-air meeting place where the new influencers of the progressive movement discuss the news of tomorrow in an informal setting that looks to inform, entertain, and engage.”
WBRP, Baton Rouge Names Clarence Buggs Midday Host. Guaranty Broadcasting’s WBRP, Baton Rouge adds talk show host Clarence Buggs to the lineup as host of the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm program. Buggs had worked in the market at Clear Channel’s crosstown WJBO. Guaranty market manager Gordy Rush states, “We are thrilled about the addition of Clarence to our team. We remain committed to being the news/talk leader in the Baton Rouge community with more live and local shows on Talk 107.3 FM than any other station in the greater Baton Rouge market.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. WAYY, Eau Claire, Wisconsin adds the third hour of WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish show…..WYM Media’s “Ring of Fire” with Mike Papantonio and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is added to the program schedule at WWRL, New York and WKKX, Wheeling…..“Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the program schedule at WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island and KBJT, Fordyce, Arkansas…..WVKO, Columbus, Ohio adds the “Best of Bill Press” to its weekend schedule…..The “Motley Fool Money” show with Chris Hill adds WKBK-AM/FM, Keene, New Hampshire…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” is picked up by: WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois; WFHR, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; WKUL, Cullman, Alabama; and WDIS, Norfolk, Massachusetts.
Presidential Campaign Ads Controversy Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 6-10. The most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week broke out from last week’s general discussion about the presidential campaign and the specific story of the controversial ads being run by organizations backing President Obama was the top story this week on the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the tepid economic data. Following at #3 was neo-Nazi hate groups and the aftermath of the Sikh temple killings. Coming in at #4 was the London Olympics. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Merlin Media Abandons News Format in New York and Chicago. As indicated earlier today, Merlin Media held a major pair of staff meetings in New York and Chicago this morning and as speculated it was to announce a significant change in the operations of its two major properties in these markets. According to reports, the Randy Michaels-headed company flipped WEMP, New York‘s “FM News 101.9″ shortly after 10:00 am ET to “New Rock 101.9.” Chicago’s “FM News 101.1″ (WIQI) has been recast as a hot AC, “i101.” It has been less than a year since these all news formats were launched with a tremendous amount of industry buzz – but the ratings and critical evaluations fell terribly short of expectations.
Paul Finebaum, Citadel and Former GM Bill Thomas Settle Lawsuit. Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum, Citadel and former WJOX, Birmingham general manager Bill Thomas have reached an amicable settlement in their claims regarding Finebaum’s employment at the station, now owned by Cumulus. The terms are not being released but the upshot is Finebaum will work out his contract with the station that ends in January of 2013. Whether he will negotiate to re-sign with the station beyond that or seek to join another broadcast outlet is unknown. In a joint statement, Thomas and Finebaum say that claims were contested and the settlement in no way constitutes an admission by any party concerning the validity or invalidity of any claim, counterclaim, or defense raised in the litigation. Further, Finebuam says, “I am particularly pleased that the claims involving Bill Thomas are resolved. I have known Bill for many years and have valued his advice. We both regret that we became personally entangled in what was essentially a business dispute with former management and we look forward to repairing our relationship.” Cox Media’s crosstown sports talk outlet WZNN continues to express interest in acquiring Finebaum’s services after his deal with Cumulus runs out, as reported in the Birmingham News. But Finebaum’s attorney, Russ Campbell, says his client will issue no comment on his future intentions. The original legal claims included Finebaum’s contention that Thomas and Citadel coerced him into signing a contract addendum that worked against his best interests and Citadel claimed Finebaum negotiated with another party in violation of his contract. Finebaum’s show is heard in some 30 markets in the Southeast and is also available on SiriusXM.
Courtside Entertainment Group Breaks Simone Bienne Out with Daily Features. British psychosexual and relationship therapist Simone Bienne – a co-host on the nightly nationally syndicated “Loveline” radio show – is featured on a new twice-daily vignette called “Lovelink with Simone Bienne.” Each evening Bienne is part of the “Loveline” show with Dr. Drew Pinsky and Mike Catherwood. Now Courtside Entertainment offers what it calls “her unique professional insight with a distinctly female perspective through two, one-minute commentaries every weekday.” Courtside owner Norm Pattiz says, “Simone Bienne is a bottle rocket of energy, insight and intelligence. We are delighted to have lured her across the pond to the States and are confident American radio listeners will be as taken with her charm, wit and knowledge as we are.”
Staff Meetings at Merlin Media’s New York and Chicago Stations Scheduled for Today. As the two all-news FMs approach their first anniversary, the word on the street is that staff meetings have been called for this morning at WEMP-FM, New York and WIQI, Chicago. Industry watchers are aware the ratings for the two all-news stations have not budged much since their debut last August and although there is no insight into what staffers can expect to hear this morning, staff meetings like this usually indicate a major change of some sort.
Drew Anderssen Moves from KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa to WDBO-AM/FM, Orlando. Program director Drew Anderssen, who’s been programming Cox Media’s KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa for the past 12 years, moves to the company’s Orlando cluster to take the program director role at news/talk WDBO-AM/FM beginning August 6. Cox Media Orlando vice president and market manager Susan Larkin says, “Drew has had an incredibly successful track record leading the KRMG brand. His talent and passion for digital innovation will be a great asset not only for WDBO but for our entire cluster.” Anderssen replaces Steve Holbrook who left the Cox Orlando operations in June after almost 30 years with the company.
Scottie Nell Hughes Joins Cast of Politichicks. The online media site Politichicks.TV announces SNH Media president Scottie Nell Hughes joins the staff of the “all-in-one web destination that addresses the concerns of conservatives from the women’s point of view.” Hughes’ company handles PR for talk radio personalities Rusty Humphries, Michael Berry and Mark Skoda, among others. Now she becomes part of the Politichicks team. Politichicks executive producer Beverly Zaslow says, “Scottie Nell brings a valuable energy and passion to a group of dynamic women and her background in talk radio has taught her to think on her feet and not be afraid to ask hard questions.” Hughes joins the other “politichicks” – former “Dallas” cast member Morgan Brittany, “The Young & the Restless” cast member Ann-Marie Murrell, activist Sonnie Johnson and talk radio host Dr. Gina Loudon as co-host.
John Bishop Named Co-Host on KOZN, Omaha’s “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” Show; Gary Sharp Named Station’s Sports Director. There’s been another change in the lineup at NRG Media’s sports talk KOZN, Omaha after Matt Schick – the host recently named to replace Kevin Kugler on the show – accepted a position with ESPNU (ESPN’s college sports channel). John Bishop, most recently program director and co-host of the morning drive show at KOZN’s sister station KLIN, Lincoln, Nebraska, will take over the co-hosting duties alongside Mike’l Severe on “Unsportsmanlike Conduct.” Kugler had announced he would be leaving the show to take a position with the Big Ten Network and will continue to contribute to KOZN on a limited basis. NRG Omaha operations manager Neil Nelkin says, “We hire great talent on the ZONE as it’s a station sports figures and leaders tune to. Bishop is well known throughout sports circles in Nebraska, namely as a distinguished sportscaster with decades of experience with Husker athletics, Creighton sports and the College World Series. Bishop more than has the credentials, experience and the chops for this role on The ZONE…now I want to keep him for a while.” Additionally, Nelkin announces Gary Sharp returns to Nebraska to take the sports director and morning show co-host position at sister station KZOT. Sharp most recently worked with Minnesota Twins minor league club the Ft. Myers Miracle. Prior to that he was sports director at the Nebraska Sports Network. He’ll co-host the KZOT morning show with Jason Peter. He says, “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to return to radio at a great station and most importantly to return to Nebraska. We’ve had some great success here in Fort Myers and I will miss the people and relationships I have developed in baseball. I am sure Jason is chomping at the bit to get started and I am sure we will have some spirited sports conversations that will make great radio.”
Clear Channel Seeks WHBA for Calls for Its New Boston FM. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will take over the operation of alternative rocker WFNX, Boston on Monday and the request of new call letters WHBA gives no clue as to what format the station will assume when the change takes place. The Boston Globe is planning to put the alternative format online and has already hired some of the WFNX staff to run it. Talk radio fans in Boston might like to see an FM signal for the company’s WXKS – Talk 1200 – but those calls certainly don’t seem very news/talky, do they? Regardless, the wait is on and let the speculation continue!
Cumulus Promotes Dave Crowl, Shuffles Market Managers. Cumulus Chicago market manager Dave Crowl adds more regional vice president duties in addition to continuing to oversee Chicago’s news/talk WLS-AM and classic hits WLS-FM but the company brings Donna Baker up from Houston to take over the market manager position in Chicago. Cumulus RVP Chuck Bortnick steps into Houston to oversee that market and will take on additional RVP duties for the region.
TALKERS magazine Publishes Debut “Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America.” The editors of TALKERS magazine are pleased to announce the publishing of the first annual TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk. A companion to its “sister list” – the annual Talkers 250 Featuring the Heavy Hundred that ranks talk radio hosts working in the news/talk and general talk genres – the editors of TALKERS magazine, with input from industry leaders, present the debut class of this annual feature honoring the sports talk radio industry’s 100 most important hosts, duos or ensembles. In order to create this list, the editors took into account a combination of hard and soft factors and the results are, admittedly, subjective. Staying true to the realities of the media business, ratings and revenue are two of the major factors – some would say they are the only factors worth considering – but the editors also took into account other qualities that help create a list that is reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor and still give credit where credit is due. Those qualities include: courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness. View the 2012 TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk here.
A Tribute to WFAN, New York’s Mike Francesa. The number-one ranked sports talk host on this year’s TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk is WFAN, New York PM drive host Mike Francesa, who’s spent the past 23 years as dean of sports talk in the nation’s biggest market. Fellow WFAN personality Richard Neer writes that Francesa’s “relentless curiosity and work ethic, along with his relationship with some of the biggest names in television broadcasting, gave him unique insight” that served as a foundation for a sterling sports media career. Read Richard Neer’s tribute to WFAN’s Mike Francesa here.
2012 Presidential Race, Penn State Report, Hillary Clinton in Egypt, Welfare Work Requirement Issue, and Weak Retail Sales Numbers Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/16). The 2012 presidential campaign; the Louis Freeh-led report on the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky case; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to post-election Egypt; the controversy over the Obama Administration’s relaxing of welfare work requirements; and weak retail sales figures were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Paul Ihander Named News Director at Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix. Paul Ihander leaves his role as director of news, talk and sports programming at Clear Channel’s Albany cluster to take on the role of news director and assistant program director at Bonneville Phoenix Media Group’s “News/Talk 92.3 KTAR.” Ihander states, “My career’s taken me to some incredible stations and cities across America, and my family and I are truly blessed to have the opportunity to join another first-class media organization. I’m looking forward to joining the talented Phoenix crew – continuing KTAR’s rich traditions and establishing new ones.” Bonneville Phoenix vice president of news and sports content Ryan Hatch says, “Paul is a team leader who raises the level of everyone around him and has been a proven winner everywhere he’s been. His innovative spirit and vision of news for a new generation of consumers on radio, online, and on-the-go, make him the perfect fit for the KTAR brand.”
Rhode Island Supreme Court Clears WPRO, Providence Talk Host Dan Yorke of Slander Charge. The state Supreme Court in Rhode Island upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed a slander charge against WPRO, Providence midday talk host Dan Yorke leveled by local restaurateur Robert Burke. The case also involved a libel charge against the Providence Journal and writer Katherine Gregg. Here’s the basic story: Gregg wrote a piece in the Journal about a St. Patrick’s Day roast of local dignitaries and politicians that was held at Burke’s restaurant. The press was invited but was told – unlike in previous years – that all jokes would be “off the record.” On his radio show, Dan Yorke read Gregg’s article about the event, obviously critical of the “off the record” request, and teed off on Burke in what the court called “an acrimonious and childish on-air rant.” Yorke himself referred to his rant as “a bit of a bender.” Regardless, ultimately the court wrote that, “the plaintiffs failed to allege any intentional acts by Yorke or Citadel that were aimed at interfering with a potential client relationship. The plaintiffs have pointed to nothing to suggest that the effect of Yorke’s comments – if any – was more than ancillary or incidental. Because the plaintiffs did not allege any intentionally disruptive conduct by Yorke or Citadel, the count was correctly dismissed by the motion justice.”
Spoken Word Radio: The Big Picture. One of the hottest panels at the recent TALKERS 2012 New Media Seminar/NYC was this discussion involving eight key industry leaders seen in the video in the Talkers TV box on this page. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison presented topics including the precarious nature of radio ratings, dealing with advertiser boycotts, employing damage control in the face of controversy, negativity about the formats’ ad models and more. Taking part in this sizzling presentation were (from l-r in banner above and as you watch the video): Tom Langmyer, VP/GM, WGN, Chicago; Phil Boyce, VP/director, spoken word format, Salem Communications; Nancy Abramson, executive director, The Wall Street Journal Radio Network; Chris Oliviero, SVP programming, CBS Radio; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Mark Masters, CEO, Talk Radio Network; Mike McVay, SVP programming Cumulus Media; and Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC. The June 7 New York event was the first installment of the TALKERS bi-coastal 2012 New Media Seminar. The second installment takes place October 11 in Los Angeles. Details coming soon. (Videography by Art Vuolo of Vuolo Video.)
WGN, Chicago Promotes Judy Pielach to Managing Editor of News. Award-winning news pro Judy Pielach has been with Tribune’s WGN, Chicago since 1986 and she now moves up from her newsroom coordinator role to managing editor. In her new post she’ll be leading day-to-day operations of the WGN Radio news department, handling news assignments, coordinating coverage and setting and implementing newsroom policy and procedures in conjunction with WGN’s director of programming and news, Bill White. She will also continue to be heard as the station’s midday news anchor. Her 2008 series on her struggle with breast cancer, “Why Not Me?” and her 2007 series on suburban teen heroin addiction, “Smack in the Suburbs,” earned her two Edward R. Murrow awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association. In 2007, she was also named best reporter by the Illinois Associated Press.
Mancow to Simulcast Radio Show on Chicago TV. The Chicago Tribune reports Erich “Mancow” Muller is in the process of finalizing a deal to have two hours of his nationally syndicated Talk Radio Network morning radio show simulcast on Fox Television’s WPWR-TV channel 50. The show will begin in the fall and air from 6:00 am to 8:00 am. The Tribune story notes the Mancow show will replace infomercials and the national “Better TV” lifestyle program.
“Coast to Coast AM” Host George Noory Launches Anti-Obesity Campaign. Premiere Networks personality George Noory is announcing the beginning of his campaign to encourage his listeners to lose 15 million pounds. Noting that the Centers for Disease Control states one-third of adult Americans are obese, Noory will dedicate the first hour of his Thursday evening program in July to encouraging his millions of late-night listeners to improve their health, shed excess pounds and help fight weight-related diseases. As part of the effort, he’ll welcome special guests to give advice on nutrition, weight loss, health benefits and much more. Noory says, “Listeners of ‘Coast to Coast’ know that in addition to exploring the mysteries of the universe, I’m also interested in improving my health and wellness. This ‘Shape Up’ campaign is a great opportunity for America to encourage and inspire each other to increase our longevity and live better lives.”
Talk Host Laura Smith and Cumulus Debut New Show on AC WFAS-FM, White Plains, New York. Radio personality Laura Smith hosts “Living Better with Laura Smith” on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York on Saturday afternoons. Now, Smith is resurrecting a show she hosted on SiriusXM back in 2008 called, “Above and Beyond with Laura Smith.” Smith tells TALKERS the show is “a hybrid of psychics, mediums and self-help experts with the best music variety, in a Sunday night soiree.” She says her guests will include the best and most renowned in the category, like John Edward, Susan Miller, Thomas John, James Van Praagh, Lisa Williams, The Feng Shui Guy, The 30-Second Therapist and countless others. Smith goes on to say, “The country and world are starving for comfort, love, and advice and the number of people seeking it in ways that are a little less conventional, such as with psychics, mediums, astrologers, or life coaches, is unprecedented.” It airs at 9:00 pm ET.
ABC News Radio Announces Olympic Coverage. The 2012 Summer Olympics begin in London on July 27 and run through August 12 and ABC News Radio announces its schedule for affiliate stations. The network is delivering one-minute updates at :10 and :40 from 5:10 am ET to 6:40 pm ET. In London covering the games for ABC are news correspondents Alex Stone, Tom Rivers and Todd Ant. ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones says there is no additional inventory for ABC News affiliates and ABC Sports affiliates to air the coverage that is being delivered for the duration of the games.
The Supreme Court’s ObamaCare Decision Aftermath Claims Top Spot on the Talkers TenTM. The aftermath of the SCOTUS ruling on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of July 2-6. Coming in at #2 was the 2012 presidential campaign. At #3 was the Mid-Atlantic storm damage tied with the Colorado wildfires and at #4, the Fourth of July holiday tied with the summer weather. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published at Talkers.com every Friday. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds WVKO, Columbus and WAMM, Woodstock, Virginia to its roster of affiliates…..The George Jarkesy show is added to the program schedule at KDOW, San Francisco; KYCR, Minneapolis; and KVCE, Dallas/Ft. Worth…..The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Wall Street Journal Reports” are now airing on the American Forces Radio Network’s “The Voice” channel as part of the top-of-the hour newscast…..“On the House” with the Carey Brothers and Rebecca Cole adds KPSI, Palm Springs, California to its affiliate list.
Finebaum Case Far from Settled Says Cumulus. Contrary to the story published here earlier today (6/1), there is no settlement on the horizon for Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and Cumulus Media in their contract dispute. Cumulus COO John Dickey tells TALKERS the reported agreement that would end the lawsuits each side is filing against other and allow Finebaum to work out his contract at Cumulus’ sports talk WJOX-FM, Birmingham that ends in January of 2013 and then go to work at Cox Media’s crosstown sports WZNN-FM if he chooses are categorically untrue. “He will never work for Cox in Birmingham,” Dickey says. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance had asked the two sides to resume negotiations to settle the contract dispute and report to the court by May 30.
Battle for Control of SiriusXM Heating Up. John Malone‘s Liberty Media is again filing a request with the FCC to give it “de facto” control of satellite broadcaster SiriusXM. The Commission denied its first attempt back on May 4 but Liberty has since acquired another 6-plus percent of the company’s stock, pushing its total above 46%. It’s petition for reconsideration with the FCC reportedly contains additional information to the Commission. In a filing with the SEC, SiriusXM states, “We’ve been engaged in discussions with Liberty Media to explore possible transactions with respect to its ownership interest in Sirius, although we have not reached agreement with respect to a specific transaction that would be mutually beneficial to both our common and preferred stockholders. There is no assurance that these discussions will result in any specific action or transaction. We do not expect to disclose developments with respect to these discussions.”
Scott Hennen Turns to Listeners for Funding for WZFG, Fargo. Talk show host and businessman Scott Hennen is exploring alternative sources for funding his purchase of The Flag 1100 (WZFG) in the Fargo market. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead‘s Marino Eccher reports Hennen has created a program whereby fans become “founding fathers” and buy into one of four clubs – Faith, Family, Freedom, and Free Enterprise – for $1,000 (each club limited to 400 members). He’s seeking a total of 1,600 such “founders” to come up with $1.6 million. Hennen tells the paper he has traditional funding sources but decided to seek less traditional forms of funding after sensing his listeners “desire to be part of something bigger.” These fans will not be shareholders or part owners but instead will have input on the station’s weekend programming, behind-the-scenes updates and $1,000 advertising credit. Hennen tells Eccher Tea Party activist Mark Skogerboe will serve as director of the clubs and be an on-air contributor.
NEW MEDIA SEMINAR/NYC Sold Out but Agenda Keeps Growing. Thursday, June 7 is going to be a big day for talk radio in the Big Apple as some 400 professionals from all aspects of the business converge on the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side for a one-day conference containing the content mass of a two- or three-day convention. “Although we have reached capacity in terms of registration,” explains TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “doesn’t mean the agenda is not continuing to grow.” Casey continues, “This conference has all the aspects of an old fashioned ‘happening’ with a program lineup that is so outstanding, it is attracting a growing number of industry leaders wanting to contribute as speakers and panelists.” According to conference director Michael Harrison, “We attribute the positive response to this event not only its powerful and relevant agenda, but to the fact that it is so efficiently tuned to the times in terms of its affordable registration fee and compact time demands. With another one set for Los Angeles in October, this June 7 event has the convenience of a regional conference while delivering the bang of a major national convention.” Although space is limited for those who will participate in person, the content of this forthcoming NMS which will be video recorded from beginning to end will reach a far wider audience via TALKERS TV in the weeks and months following June 7. For information call 413-565-5413. To see the up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.
WEUS, Orlando to Be LMA’d with Intent to Purchase. Star Over Orlando‘s talk outlet WEUS, Orlando is entering into a deal with MultiCorp International to have the latter’s subsidiary – Rivalz Sports Group – operate the station as a sports talk outlet beginning on July 30 with the intent to buy the signal. MultiCorp intends to change the calls to WRSG and hopes to move the stations operations “within a restaurant facility” so diners can enjoy “a first-class restaurant/media experience.” The company states it hopes to expand this model to other markets.
Dr. Laura Launches Online Jewelry Business. SiriusXM talk show host and talk radio pioneer Dr. Laura Schlessinger unveils her “Dr. Laura Designs,” – an online boutique featuring her personally designed and handcrafted jewelry, glass and polymer clay art. The site offers ready-made items or people can commission custom made pieces. Dr. Laura initially began selling jewelry to assist the “Operation Family Fund,” a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families of those who are injured or killed while fighting the war on terrorism, and raised more than $1.5 million. Dr. Laura has had a passion for jewelry – making it and glass art that started when, during a particularly difficult time for her family, her then-little son suggested that a new hobby would be helpful. She states, “I never thought I had one ounce of artistic ability, and couldn’t think of what I could do.” After a listener suggested she visit a local bead fest, she says, “I walked by a table filled with Tibetan ornaments and my brain just exploded with creative images. I bought books on jewelry-making and purchased tools, wire, beads and stones and got started.” Dr. Laura’s program currently airs from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET on the Sirius Stars channel.
Dave Ramsey to Lead NAB-RAB Radio Show Super Session. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey will lead a Super Session at the September 19-21 Radio Show in Dallas being produced jointly by the NAB and RAB. The panel, titled “Succeeding in This Economic Environment,” taking place on Thursday, September 20 at 9:30 am and, as its title implies, will focus on steps radio station operators can take to achieve success in these tough economic times.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. The Society for Professional Journalism and the Radio Television Digital News Association announce registration is open for their September Excellence in Journalism Conference taking place the 20th through the 22nd in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The conference offers more than 50 professional development sessions…..Former college football coach Rick Neuheisel (UCLA, Washington and Colorado) joins SiriusXM‘s College Sports Nation channel where he’ll appear on the “College Football Playbook” show and co-host the daily “College Sports Today” show with Mark Packer…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment‘s WFLA, Tampa begins simulcasting on an FM translator at 105.9 licensed to West Tampa…..Las Vegas-based nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs has a small role in an upcoming Showtime reality program. She tells TALKERS, “It’s a one-time small part on a Showtime reality show but it’s a start!” Wachs says it’s super secret and she can’t even tell us the name of the show, yet.
Stormy Times at Fairfax Media. American media companies are not the only ones dealing with difficult financial situations. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on one of Australia’s major talkback radio-formatted operators – Fairfax Media – as it deals with corporate power struggles and underperforming revenue. Read Smith’s entire piece here.
Rusty Among the Politichicks. That’s Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated talk show host Rusty Humphries on the set of the internet TV show “Politichicks.” Humphries appeared with co-hosts Dr. Gina Loudon, Ann-Marie Murrell, Sonnie Johnson, Morgan Brittany on the recent episode titled, “The Fairness Doctrine: There’s Nothing Fair,” to discuss the “current environment of talk radio as well as why conservative talk radio has become a focus of attack by the mainstream media and liberal politicians. At the end of the segment, Rusty was formally honored with the title, “PolitiStud.” It’s obvious to see why.
2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 28 – June 1. The 2012 presidential contest was #1 on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the ninth week in a row. At #2 this week was the Syria massacre aftermath. Following at #3 was Iran’s nuclear ambitions and at #4 was the Euro zone crisis and the global financial markets’ activities. The Talkers TenTM is based on ongoing research from Talkers magazine and consists of the top stories and people discussed on America’s news/talk radio stations during the week. View this week’s entire chart here.
Crue Visits the Cannons. Motley Crue bassist and host of the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Sixx Sense” radio program, Nikki Sixx (r), is pictured here with Fox Sports Radio‘s “Loose Cannons” co-host Pat O’Brien (l). Fox Sports Radio and Los Angeles Dodgers flagship AM 570 Fox Sports LA (KLAC) invited Sixx to throw out the first pitch at a recent Dodgers game. Prior to the first pitch and Sixx’s appearance on the “Loose Cannons” nationally syndicated program, Fox Sports Radio offered listeners the chance to win travel accommodations and tickets to a stop on this summer’s Motley Crue/KISS tour.
The State of News in News/Talk Radio. The rise of digital news sources, today’s quickening news cycle and the economic realities of our times are forcing news/talk radio stations to evaluate their news product and adapt to continue to serve their listeners. In a feature story by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey, some of today’s top news/talk programmers speak on the record about their news philosophy, how they are integrating digital tools, news as a cume builder, the relationship between news and talk and their thoughts on the state of journalism. Read this feature piece here.
NOW-Organized Protest of Rush Limbaugh at WMAL, Washington Fizzles. The National Organization for Women-sponsored “Enough Rush” campaign got off to an ignominious start outside the studios of affiliate WMAL, Washington, DC Friday, May 18 as just seven protesters marched. As reported by Fox News, NOW announced the campaign against the Premiere Networks talk radio superstar in April and has partnered with Media Matters for America to target affiliate stations and their advertisers. Friday’s event in DC was part of a national protest scheduled for that day. Reports of substantial protests at other Limbaugh affiliate stations have not surfaced.
Cox Media Offers to End Paul Finebaum Issue with Contract Buyout. The Birmingham Business Journal is reporting that Cox Media – which put sports talk outlet WZNN-FM, Birmingham on the air last September – is again offering to buy out sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s contract with Cumulus Media and its WJOX-FM, Birmingham. Regular TALKERS readers are aware of the ongoing legal battle between Cumulus and Finebaum that goes back to when the station was part of the Citadel group. Finebaum’s popular sports talk show has been based at WJOX-FM and regionally syndicated. While Cumulus would probably like to stop paying legal fees in the ongoing dispute, it may not want to have Finebaum working for a competing station in the market – at least not right away – however it’s likely he’ll end up working there eventually. There’s no response yet from Cumulus on the offer.
RAB Reports Radio Revenue Up 1% in First Quarter of 2012. The Radio Advertising Bureau issued a report on Friday, May 18 concluding advertising revenue for all of radio was up 1% for the first quarter of 2012 – the third consecutive Q1 increase – for total revenue of $3.814 billion. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “Q1 2012 results confirm that radio commands a solid position in brands’ total marketing plans. While advertisers continue to capitalize on radio’s spot and network efficiencies, they’re increasingly utilizing local digital capabilities and audience engagement that this medium affords.” From a category standpoint, spot revenue was flat, network was up 8%, digital rose 10%, and off-air was up 3% for Q1 in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. WXKS, Boston – Talk Radio 1200 – morning drive talk host Jeff Katz wins two Associated Press Awards – one for “Best Talk Show in Boston” and the other for “Best Public Affairs Broadcast” for his special remote from the Fisher House in Boston…..Salem Radio Network talk host Dennis Prager co-hosts CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” alongside Brian Sullivan tonight at 7:00 pm ET. SRN states, “With the just-launched IPO for Facebook as well as the unfolding 2012 battle between Mitt Romney and President Obama, Dennis Prager brings his unique background as a talk radio host, author, lecturer and societal observer to CNBC in what will surely be an eye-opening experience for ‘Kudlow Report’ viewers!”…..SiriusXM announces veteran soccer commentator and former player and coach Ray Hudson will host ‘The Football Show’ alongside fellow soccer experts Charlie Stillitano, Neil Barnett and John Harkes. Hudson has been a commentator for Gol TV since 2004 and is widely known for his elaborate and excitable play-calling style. Also from SiriusXM, three-time SEC Coach of the Year Houston Nutt has joined SiriusXM as an analyst on its 24/7 college sports channel. Nutt will host multiple shows each week on SiriusXM College Sports Nation including ‘College Sports Today’ with Mark Packer and ‘College Football Playbook’ with Jack Arute…..Former WGNU, St. Louis talk host Leonardo Drisdel was found guilty of the 2005 murder of Cassandra Kovack on Friday. He’ll be sentenced on June 29.
Clark Howard to Help Break Ground for New Home for Joplin Tornado Victims. Cox Media syndicated talk show host Clark Howard heads to Joplin, Missouri tomorrow along with a team of his listeners to break ground on a new home for a family that lost its home to last spring’s tornado that hit the city. Howard will broadcast his Tuesday program live from the build site to recognize the one-year anniversary of the tornado. Clark Howard is funding the Joplin home himself. However, he joined forces with Cox’s KRMG, Tulsa to promote the build and KRMG even had advertisers chip in for a storm shelter for the house and due to the listeners’ overwhelming support for the build in Joplin, they teamed with Clark to build a home in Tulsa this past weekend. The home is being funded by monies raised by listeners and Howard. He says, “I love Habitat for Humanity because it is a hand up and not a hand out. Homeowners have to meet strict qualification guidelines and put in hundreds of hours of sweat equity to build their own home and other Habitat homes. It is not a free house. It is a low-cost mortgage.”
Vic “The Brick” Jacobs Rides the Zamboni at L.A. Kings Game. Yes, that’s Fox Sports Radio sports talk host Vic “The Brick” Jacobs – of the network’s “Loose Cannons” show – on the zamboni during last Thursday’s L.A. Kings NHL playoff game. In addition to being at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the game, Jacobs (decked out in his Kings jersey and crown) did a post-game interview with Kings rookie Dwight King who scored the winning goal.
Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey Reports Limbaugh Boycott Cost Company Millions. During Monday’s first quarter conference call with analysts, Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey announced that the advertiser boycott of Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh show – which is carried on 38 Cumulus-owned stations – cost his company “a couple of million” in the first quarter of 2012 and another “couple of million” in the second quarter. Dickey says everything seems pretty much back to normal for June but he blames about 1% of the company’s 3.5% drop in revenue on the Limbaugh boycott. Dickey also addressed the debut of the Mike Huckabee show which airs live in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot and is seen by some observers as a direct competitor to Limbaugh. He says they are very close to having Huckabee on 200 affiliates and he’s viewing the show as a long-term project.
Cumulus Media’s 2012 Q1 Revenue Down 3.5%. The first quarter of 2012 saw Cumulus Media report net revenues down 3.5% on earnings of $245.3 million – down from $254.2 million for the same period a year ago. Free cash flow was up almost 95% to $37 million, up from $19 million for the first quarter of 2011 and EBITDA was up 12.2% to $76.8 million. CEO Lew Dickey states, “The first quarter of 2012 was marked by significant progress in our integration of Citadel as we build Cumulus into a robust platform company that strategically monetizes content, distribution and technology. Complementing this progress was the continued deleveraging of our balance sheet, as well as strategic portfolio management that will enable us tremendous financial flexibility going forward.”
FCC Up to Full Complement. Six months after they were nominated, Republican Ajit Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to seats on the Federal Communications Commission. Senator Charles Grassley had been keeping the confirmation from taking place due to his concern over the commission’s handling of the LightSquared case. Grassley has been investigating the FCC’s dealings with the troubled satellite venture suspecting that LightSquared has been given special treatment by the commission.
Pat Miller Cuts Back Duties at WOWO, Fort Wayne; Gregg Henson to PM Drive. Afternoon drive talk show host Pat Miller is leaving his role at the legendary Federated Media station to focus on his own local business. Director of programming operations Gregg Henson takes over the PM drive host duties effective immediately. Miller will remain with the station in several capacities. He’ll host a weekly Saturday afternoon program and he’ll make regular appearances as the station’s expert political analyst. Henson says of Miller, “Pat is a great asset to WOWO and we look forward to redeploying him in other areas to take advantage of his strengths. He is a tremendous resource. Pat’s loyalty and love for Fort Wayne are indisputable and we look forward to his continued relationship with WOWO.” Henson assumed the programming duties at WOWO and sister station WKJG a year ago. He says he’s excited about taking over the PM drive show. “WOWO has a special relationship with this community and I look forward to being a part of it.”
Talk Radio Hosts Converge on Washington, DC for “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” Radio Row. More than 60 talk radio hosts are in Washington, DC today and tomorrow for a radio row sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The event is being led by Radio America syndicated talk show host Roger Hedgecock who organized the first radio row dedicated to this issue in 2007 to protest the Senate Amnesty Bill. Talk show hosts taking part have the opportunity to interview numerous legislators and experts on illegal immigration and related topics over the course of the two days. FAIR communications director Bob Dane tells TALKERS, “Once again, talk hosts from across the country are gathering to focus on immigration reform and this election year is the most critical of all. The Obama administration continues to dismantle interior enforcement at a frightening pace and is using unconstitutional backdoor methods to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. With November looming, May is the ideal time to set clear expectations for candidates of all stripes. Responsive politicians respect and listen to the electronic town hall of talk radio and ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ is a yearly bellwether of public sentiment on the immigration issue.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Peter Sessa has been the vice president of marketing and communications at Westwood One for the past five years. He stayed with the operation after it was merged with Dial Global but now exits and is seeking his next opportunity…..Tribune’s WGN, Chicago eliminates a news position as midday anchor Jim Gudas is let go for financial reasons…..Phil Cioppa joins the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Business TalkRadio Network where his show which “tackles global and national events and translates them into how they affect the average American’s pocketbook” now airs on some 140 affiliates…..SiriusXM announces it is launching an expanded suite of 30 play-by-play channels dedicated to streaming the official radio broadcasts of every MLB team on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at SiriusXM.com…..WTOP-FM, Washington offers prizes to listeners in the area with the worst commute. Dubbed “Commuter Idle,” listeners must submit stories of their commute online and the winner receives $1,000 in gas money and a limo ride. Runners-up get $150 gas cards…..Merlin Media’s WEMP-FM, New York lets managing editor Doug O’Brien go. The Former WINS, New York staffer has been with FM News 101.9 since its inception last summer…..Yahoo! Sports Radio pairs up Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel with college sports writer Pat Forde for a weekly Thursday evening sports talk show on the network…..Bonneville’s KSL, Salt Lake City (the AM side) celebrates its 90th anniversary serving the market…..Sports USA announces its 18-game college football schedule for this fall that kicks off with Michigan State hosting Boise State and wrapping up with the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Putin Returns, Anti-Austerity Backlash in Europe, 2012 Presidential Race, New American Obesity Stats, Student Loan Rate Debate, and Terror Plot Foiled Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The return of Vladimir Putin to power in Russia; voters in Europe show anti-austerity backlash; the 2012 presidential race; the latest statistics on obesity in America; Congress to take on student loan rate debate; and a plot to destroy a U.S. airliner is foiled were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Generations. Television stars Robert Conrad (l) and Jorge Garcia (r) pose for a photo at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles at the grand opening of an exhibit titled, “50 Years of Warner Brothers.” Conrad, who hosts a weekly talk radio program on CRN Digital Talk Radio, was the star of “The Wild, Wild West.” Garcia starred in “Lost” and currently is featured in “Alcatraz.”
Cumulus Reports Net Revenue Down 5.6% in Fourth Quarter of 2011; Company High on Geraldo and Huckabee. Cumulus Media Group CEO Lew Dickey and chief financial officer J.P. Hannan appeared together on yesterday’s conference call to tell analysts the company’s plans for consolidating the former Cumulus Media Partners (former Susquehanna stations) it brought into the fold in August and the former Citadel stations it closed on in September are coming together allowing them to realize the “synergies” — $10.5 million worth — within the time frame originally predicted. As far as revenue is concerned, the company saw revenue down only 1% if you exclude political advertising from Q4 one year prior. Dickey told analysts there was growth in the automotive, financial services and retail sectors in Q4 and he – like many – expects this to be a big year for political dollars. Dickey addressed the coming launch of the Mike Huckabee program and stopped short of saying Cumulus could capitalize on Rush Limbaugh’s current PR challenge but told analysts his company sees a real upside for the April launch of Huckabee’s program for which it says it has about 110 affiliates lined up already. Dickey also said that Geraldo Rivera – currently heard on WABC, New York and KABC, Los Angeles only – is ripe for national syndication and calls the New York and Los Angeles placement a “precursor” to a national rollout.
Rush Limbaugh Takes Monday Off; Premiere Networks Suspends Airing of Barter Spots for Two Weeks. Things are quieting down with regard to the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy but El Rushbo took yesterday (3/12) off to play golf with regular fill-in Mark Steyn sitting in the host’s chair. Public relations and crisis management expert Brian Glicklich is working with Limbaugh’s team and it sounds as though the day off was probably his idea. At the same time, Premiere Networks issued a memo to traffic departments at news/talk affiliates and is suspending the requirement that stations run barter spots – the ones that air in addition to the network spots actually contained within Limbaugh’s and other Premiere shows – for this week and next. Premiere gives no reason for this but one could surmise it doesn’t want to have any clients’ spots air within “controversial programming” and a cool down period like this will allow it to get a handle on where these spots are to air and where they should not.
Curtis Media Blows Up “FM Talk 101.1” WZTK-FM; Programming Changes Affect WPTF, Raleigh and WSJS, Winston-Salem. Curtis Media shocks the news/talk world with the sudden announcement that eight-year-old FM talker WZTK-FM, Burlington – serving both the Triad and Triangle markets of North Carolina is signing off its talk format and will re-emerge within a few weeks. But some of the talent heard on WZTK-FM is being spread out among Curtis Media’s other news talkers in the Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem/High Point/Greensboro markets. Here’s what’s happening: First, in the Triangle market of Raleigh-Durham, Curtis drops country on WKIX at 850 AM and will operate two outlets – NewsRadio 680 WPTF and TalkRadio 850 WPTF. WPTF VP/GM David Stuckey states, “NewsRadio 680 WPTF is where people will hear about the big events of the day, while TalkRadio 850 WPTF is where they’ll talk about those stories.” Stuckey says that while WPTF has proudly conservative roots dating back to 1924, the two stations will strive for balanced news coverage and an open exchange of all opinions across the ideological spectrum. “Unlike some media outlets, we’re not going to force-feed the same political agenda ad nauseum. We’ve seen ratings slippage on stations and channels with a hard-leaning approach, and more advertisers are telling us they want media platforms that are less toxic and more civil.” As far as talent is concerned, Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire survive the cut at WZTK-FM and will host PM drive on WPTF and WSJS. Dial Global’s Neal Boortz and Clark Howard are also landing on WPTF and WSJS. Shows that “didn’t make the cut” include local host Allan Handelman, TRN’s Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie and Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes.
Larry King to Host Show on Internet TV Network. American television and radio icon Larry King is returning to the interview desk with a start-up online TV network called Ora.TV being financed by Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim. A debut date for the site has not been announced yet but the Ora.TV website says it’s coming this year. The site states, “From its inception, Ora is an internet-based on-demand network producing a wide range of programs that transcend traditional formats. Our programs will resemble broadcast TV in terms of quality, but viewers will watch when and where they like with interactive capability.” Former News Corp. president of digital journalism Jon Housman will lead the network.
Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Holds “Insight 2012” with Major Political Guests. The annual “Insight 2012” program hosted by WTMJ, Milwaukee talk host Charlie Sykes has become a must-listen for Wisconsin political aficionados the morning after it takes place. The actual event is a ticket-holder-only live event the night prior – in this year’s case, last night. Sykes hosted fellow WTMJ host Jeff Wagner and other journalists plus Wisconsin State Senate candidates Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Thompson, Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde. Also appearing were U.S. Representatives Paul Ryan, Reid Ribble and Sean Duffy along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Last evening’s event is being re-broadcast this morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon on WTMJ.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Signs on with TuneIn. The “Voice of Chicago” can now be heard around the world via the free, internet service TuneIn, which boasts 30 million monthly active listeners. TuneIn vice president of programming Kevin Straley says, “WGN is known all over the country and has a rich history in Chicago. Our goal is to share all of the best programming from around the world with over 30 million monthly listeners, and partnering with WGN brings us one step closer to that goal.”
KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh Announces Pirates Broadcast Talent. CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh announces former Chicago Cubs third baseman Kevin Orie will be paired with radio host Dan Zangrilli to handle the game-day shows before and after each Pirates baseball game throughout the season. The two will host a one-hour preview program and a one-hour post-game show. Pirates broadcasters (Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Steve Blass, Bob Walk, and John Wehner) will continue to be featured during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as calling all the action during the games.
Report: 3MTR Abandons Talk Format in Melbourne. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on the demise of talkback radio 3MTR in Melbourne. Smith notes the station had been having financial difficulties for months and was unable to compete with Melbourne’s talk 3AW. Read more here.
Afghan Civilian Massacre, 2012 Presidential Race, HBO Palin Movie, Rush Limbaugh Controversy and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/12). The case of a U.S. Army sergeant who killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan; the GOP candidates’ battle to win the nomination to face President Obama in November; HBO’s “Game Change” film about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential race; the ongoing controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh; and the Iran nuclear weapons issue were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Phil Hendrie Walks the Red Carpet. Sure, he’s not wearing a glitzy, designer gown but he is walking on a red carpet! That’s Talk Radio Network personality Phil Hendrie at the Los Angeles Animation Festival on Saturday, March, 10. Hendrie – whose voice appears in numerous animated films and TV programs – was a cast member in Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s “Team America” film. Hendrie states, “I was happy to be involved in any way that I could, because that was a great work experience for me…Every time that it’s mentioned that I was in ‘Team America,’ people instantaneously recognize it. They know the voice of I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., they know the voice of the terrorist, they know the film, so it’s like my instant credibility button.”
RAB: Radio Revenue Up 1% in 2011. Data from Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Company and the Radio Advertising Bureau reports revenue for the radio industry was up 1% in 2011 compared to the year prior. The majority of radio’s revenue comes from spot sales and that category was down 4% in the fourth quarter of 2011 but down just 1% for the entire year. Increases in other revenue categories helped boost radio’s total revenue for 2011. For the year, network revenue was up 3%; digital was up 15%; and off-air revenue rose 7%.
Cumulus Media Group Countersues Birmingham Sports Talk Host Paul Finebaum. The latest in the legal battle between Birmingham-based regional sports talk giant Paul Finebaum and Cumulus Media Group is a suit by Cumulus suing Finebaum alleging he violated his contract by negotiating with another broadcaster while under contract. According to the Birmingham Business Journal, the suit alleges Finebaum also shared confidential information about Citadel (which has since merged with Cumulus) as part of the negotiations to move his sports talk show away from Citadel. Finebaum brought the first suit to court charging the company with coercing him into signing an amendment to his contract that was less favorable under threat of dropping his show and its regional distribution if he didn’t sign. Finebaum also alleges Citadel’s bankruptcy filing – which occurred after he signed the original contract – violated the terms of that deal. The cases are being moved from federal court to Jefferson County Circuit Court by request of Cumulus.
WPHT, Philadelphia’s Dom Giordano Hosts Live Broadcast and Luncheon to Salute Local Troops. Dubbed “Salute Our Troops” and taking place at the Radisson Philadelphia Northeast Hotel today from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, the live broadcast hosted by CBS Radio’s WPHT, Philadelphia and talk host Dom Giordano will welcome home and honor American servicemen and women from the Delaware Valley who served bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. CBS News war correspondent Jim Axelrod will be Giordano’s special guest for the event. The program will include a celebration of the 71st anniversary of the USO, which has provided morale and recreational services to members of the US Military since 1941. Members of the 131st Transportation Company, the 111 Fighter Wing, the 104th Cavalry Squadron and the 111th Infantry will all be in attendance.
WGY, Albany Celebrates 90 Years On Air. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WGY-AM/FM, Albany is marking its 90th year serving the region today (2/20). Vice president and regional market manager Kristen Delaney says, “WGY’s family tree includes more than just the decades of respected staff who have walked these local hallways and entertained the community with their songs and stories. Our family branches out to generations of listeners who have grown up with us, who continue to discover us daily, and depend on us for their news, weather and entertainment.” WGY notes that the station first signed on February 20, 1922, as program director Kolin Hager stepped up to the microphone and announced, “This is station WGY. W, the first letter in wireless; G, the first letter in General Electric; Y, the last letter in Schenectady.”
NFL Great Fran Tarkenton Debuts Talk Show on Sirius XM. Former NFL quarterback and respected business entrepreneur Fran Tarkenton begins a live, weekly call-in talk show on Sirius XM’s SiriusXM Stars Too channel this evening from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The satcaster states Tarkenton’s show “will tackle a wide range of topics, interview notable guests from the worlds of politics, business, sports and entertainment and take calls from listeners nationwide.” Tarkenton says, “I’m a longtime advocate of entrepreneurship and creative thinking, and I’m a huge fan of talk radio, so this opportunity is a big thrill for me. I’m looking forward to connecting with SiriusXM listeners around the country about everything happening in the world of politics, business and sports, the fascinating convergence in these areas and more.”
Financial Talk Host Ray Lucia Joins Gab Radio Network. The daily, nationally syndicated financial talk show that Ray Lucia hosts has been with Business TalkRadio Network for the past 12 years. Beginning March 5, Lucia’s program will be syndicated by Vero Beach, Florida-based Gab Radio Network. GAB president Ron Crider says, “I have been working in the radio industry for over half a century and our new affiliation with Ray is one of the more exciting times in my long career – we are truly pleased to welcome Ray Lucia to our network.” GAB describes Lucia stating, “Lucia’s charismatic style and years of experience as one of the nation’s leading experts in financial, tax, investing, and retirement planning make him one of the hottest media personalities on the scene today…In addition to his popular daily radio show, Lucia is a best-selling author, much sought after public speaker, and TV personality who is regularly featured on television networks such as Fox News Channel, Fox Business, CNBC, ‘The Today Show,’ and Bloomberg.” Lucia’s program airs live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.
WTOP-FM, Washington VP Joel Oxley Celebrates 20 Years with Station. The senior vice president and general manager of Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington joined the all-news giant 20 years ago as an account executive. He is credited with helping develop WTOP into one of the top news stations in the country. Pictured here is VP of news and programming Jim Farley (l) presenting Joel Oxley (r) with a certificate of achievement in the studios of the news operation.
“Watchdog on Wall Street” Chris Markowski Writes for TheStreet.com. Financial talk host Chris Markowski, whose weekly talk show is syndicated via Talk Radio Network, adds columnist duties at the digital newsletter TheStreet.com. In a release, Markowski states he’ll “have a weekly post on this leading internet publication that focuses on politics and things that directly impact our economy.” His most recent post addresses the $25 billion agreement between the nation’s five largest mortgage services to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses.
Enid Goldstein in for KKSF, San Francisco’s Gene Burns. Talk show pro Enid Goldstein is sitting in for KKSF, San Francisco PM drive talk host Gene Burns today (2/20).
Correction: On February 17, TALKERS reported that Christine Craft was a co-host with Stacy Taylor on KGO, San Francisco and that the two were let go by the station. That was incorrect. Ms. Craft is not affiliated with Taylor, is a solo fill-in talk host for KGO and remains employed with the station in that role. TALKERS regrets the error.
It’s a Jungle Out There. Tight money, a stressed-out population and aging listeners are creating burgeoning sales opportunities for talk media in financial services, crime control, medical and health services industries. Even as traditionally strong radio advertising categories such as restaurants, retailers and auto dealers are becoming a tougher sell than they used to be, smart and aggressive sales departments are re-evaluating their sales targets. Although the mantra in talk is “lower the demos” – the truth is the older folks have a significant percentage of the money and they are the ones listening to talk radio. Rather than apologize for this handy little fact, perhaps talk account executives should be trumpeting it loudly. Read more here.
Phil Boyce Out at TRN. After a three-year stint as president of programming at Talk Radio Network, Phil Boyce has announced his departure effective immediately. Boyce released the following statement to TRN employees: “I want to wish every member of the TRN family best wishes. I have enjoyed my three years getting to know and work with all of you. This is a great team and I know more success is forthcoming. Wherever I go you will always be in my heart and I am sure we will stay in touch.” Boyce joined TRN in November of 2008 after a 14-year run programming WABC in New York where he also served as VP of newstalk programming for Citadel and ABC Radio. In that capacity he established himself as a major national news/talk radio programming force playing a significant role in the careers of a number of top talents including Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. Prior to that Boyce programmed WJR in Detroit. Boyce tells TALKERS, “I hope to announce my future adventure shortly. In the meantime I want to spend a little time on that ‘secret island’ Jack Swanson recommended to me.” The island to which Boyce refers is the geographical euphemism to which the former KGO, San Francisco operations manager joked he was headed upon recently departing his long-held position at that heritage station. Boyce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jake Russell to Head Up Davis Media’s Wilmington, North Carolina Cluster. Tom Davis’ Davis Media, LLC is the buyer for Sea-Comm Media’s Wilmington, North Carolina cluster of four stations: news/talk simulcast WNTB-FM/WLTT-FM plus three music FM outlets. Davis brings aboard former Take on the Day, LLC exec Jake Russell to become what he calls “our local owner-operator” for the cluster. Davis also owns two music FMs in Williamsburg, Virginia and has built a strong internet presence he cross-promotes with the radio stations combining for a media company philosophy that he calls “Hometown Driver.” Davis says the Williamsburg operation has been very successful and he believes the Wilmington stations will be the perfect radio cluster to drive his local media company model. The FM news/talk simulcast features local morning drive host Chad Adams plus syndicated Dial Global hosts Neal Boortz and Clark Howard, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity, Cumulus Media’s Mark Levin, and Talk Radio Network’s Rusty Humphries. Davis Media begins operating the stations under an LMA prior to closing.
Neil Larrimore Exits KMBZ, Kansas City. Program director Neil Larrimore leaves his position at Entercom’s news/talk KMBZ, Kansas City – a job he’s held for the past eight years. Prior to joining KMBZ, Larrimore served as APD at Cox Media’s WHIO, Dayton.
Las Vegas Talk Host Alan Stock to Debut TV Show. KDWN, Las Vegas mid-morning talk host Alan Stock tells TALKERS he’ll begin a daily interview program on local cable channel Vegas TV (channel 14) beginning January 17. More details to come as the program gets closer to launch but Stock compliments employer Beasley Broadcasting for allowing him to work in another medium that will help him to build on and promote his daily radio program at KDWN.
2012 Presidential Race, ‘OWS’ Eviction, Obama Australian Trip, Iran Nukes Among Top News/Talk Stories Yestereday (11/15). The GOP candidates for president in 2012, the case of the eviction of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protestors, President Obama’s trip to Australia and his plan to expand the U.S. military presence there, and Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Radio Not Alone in Cuts; CNN Eliminates 50 Positions. Changes in technology and an analysis of its own efficiency have caused CNN to cut some 50 positions in the trenches according to a report in TVNewser. After a three-year study of the news organization’s operations, senior vice president Jack Womack writes in a memo to staffers, “Technology investments in our newsrooms now allow more desk-top editing and publishing for broadcast and online. As a result of these technology and workflow changes, CNN is reducing the number of media editors in our work force in Atlanta.” The report notes 12 positions in the Washington, DC bureau have been eliminated as well as jobs in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
All-New Cumulus Down 1.9% in Q3. In a conference call with analysts, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey reported that third quarter revenue for the newly acquired Citadel group of stations was down 2.3%, the Cumulus Media Partners stations – the old Susquehanna group stations that made up CMP which Cumulus finished purchasing in August, down 3.4% while Cumulus proper was down 0.6% in the third quarter compared to the same quarter one year ago. Dickey reports the company is ahead of schedule with its plan to achieve almost $52 million in “synergies” before January. He states, “We now have a true national platform with a large and liquid market capitalization and a flexible, covenant-light debt complex that is designed to optimize free cash flow and de-risk the equity. Our team is making excellent progress on the Citadel integration and is energized by the upside potential of our newly transformed platform.”
RAB Names Erica Farber Executive Vice President. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces it is consolidating its Membership, Professional Development and Services units into one big group and that former Radio & Records publisher and CEO Erica Farber joins the organization as EVP as of January 1, 2012. RAB president and CEO Jeff Haley says of Farber’s joining the organization, “I am thrilled about Erica joining the management team of the RAB. We are at a pivotal time as we look to serve the industry and ensure our product offerings meet the demands of an evolving medium. There’s no better executive for the role than Erica.” In related moves at the RAB, Sheila Kirby exits the RAB’s Professional Development Group to take the senior vice president of sales training and development post at CBS Radio. Michael Weiss, who serves as president of sales at CBS Radio says, “Sheila and I have worked together for close to 20 years, and there is no one I respect more when it comes to motivating a team to perform at their absolute best. Working closely with Sheila, our sales force will have a clear advantage in the marketplace and advertisers will benefit greatly working with such a sophisticated group of salespeople dedicated to constructing integrated programs that guarantee results.” Also from the RAB, Ron Ruth shifts from a full-time position with the RAB to a consulting role.
“The Broadside” Hosts Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent Fill in at WBAL, Baltimore. Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent began their internet program, “The Broadside” several months ago. Now, as Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore is airing various programs in its 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot, Langer and Newgent host their program on WBAL on November 14, 15 and 25. Langer, who serves as president of the Institute for Liberty and the Small Business Political Alliance and was named by Campaigns and Elections as a Top Influencer in Maryland in 2011 and Newgent, who writes for TheExaminer.com and RedMaryland.blogspot.com and does research and analysis of politics and policy, say their plan “is to expand the horizons of traditional conservative talk, bringing in discussions (and guests) whose focuses are not only politics, but also movies, music and sports.”
CBS Radio Transitions ESPN High Desert to AM Signal; Goes All-Christmas on FM. The ESPN High Desert sports talk outlet KVFG-FM, Victorville, California shifts to KRAK-AM as ESPN 910 so the FM signal can flip to an all-Christmas format. There’s no indication what the group’s plans are for the FM signal after the holidays but it seems likely this is a prelude to a change to a music format.
Fox Sports Radio Los Angeles Raises Funds for Paralyzed Veterans. AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. (KLAC) announces it raised almost $100,000 for the Paralyzed Veterans of America during its radiothon on November 9. All the money raised during the “Loose Cannons” and “Petros & Money” shows that day will benefit the charity that provides rehab, access to services as well as research to cure spinal cord injuries. Pictured here (from l-r) are “Loose Cannons” Steve Hartman, Pat O’Brien, Los Angeles Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs. Robitaille was one of a number of local sports celebs who appeared on the program to help the cause.
SCOTUS to Hear Health Care Reform Arguments, 2012 Presidential Race and ‘Occupy Oakland’ Shut Down Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/14). The United States Supreme Court’s agreement to hear arguments on President Obama’s Health Care Reform law, the 2012 presidential race and the shutdown of the ‘Occupy Oakland’ protests were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Critiquing Talk Hosts a Challenging Two-Way Street. Many talk radio programming pros agree that critiquing – or air checking – talk show hosts is something that is almost a lost art in the current talk radio environment. Both at the network and the station levels, programmers working with talent to improve their on-air product is challenging enough given the egos of the managers and talent and the myriad programming philosophies out there. But add in the hectic schedule of today’s talk PD and “challenging” becomes a mild term for the state of the talent critique. TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian speaks with programming pros including Salem Radio Networks VP of news and talk programming Tom Tradup, Sound Mind chief Kraig Kitchin and others about the state of critiquing talk talent. Read the story here.
Roger Hedgecock Moves to KFMB, San Diego in New Year. We have a clearer picture of what’s happening in San Diego now. Yes, as reported earlier, longtime KOGO PM drive host Roger Hedgecock will move his Radio America-syndicated program to Midwest Television’s crosstown KFMB beginning January 2. KFMB program director Dave Sniff says of the move, “KFMB has always been about mirroring our community, and Roger is synonymous with San Diego. No host reflects the views and concerns of San Diegans better than Roger.” Sniff does not mention current PM drive host Rick Roberts in the release. Meanwhile, Hedgecock stays on the AM side at Clear Channel’s KOGO – which began simulcasting on FM this week – while LaDona Harvey handles the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm show on the FM side. So far, it’s the only split of programming for KOGO’s AM and FM broadcasts. Also, KOGO debuts talk host Bryan Suits in the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot and Bob “Sully” Sullivan in the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm time slot.
Willy Daunic Joined by Joe Dubin for PM Drive at Sports WPRT-FM, Nashville. The Cromwell Group’s new FM sports talk station in Nashville adds market television sports personality Joe Dubin to “The Sports Revolution” program hosted by Willy Daunic. Dubin will serve as co-host and executive producer. Daunic worked at crosstown WGFX-FM with George Plaster’s “The Sports Zone” program before Plaster left the station suddenly just prior to the Cumulus-Citadel merger. Daunic stayed with Cumulus briefly but the two sides could not agree on a contract. Daunic says, “I am glad to have Joe aboard to launch “The Sports Revolution.” His energy and enthusiasm are going to be an asset. He also loves Nashville having grown up here, and has built a great following over the years.” Dubin worked in Nashville TV for 15 years and has won two Murrow Awards and a local Emmy.
WBAL, Baltimore to Try Out Marc Unger in Evening Slot. DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports comic, actor and Baltimore sports talk personality Marc Unger is getting an on-air tryout at Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot. Beginning tonight (11/8), Unger will host a program dealing with politics, social issues and sports in the time slot where the station had been airing reruns of its midday Ron Smith program.
Sign of the Times? As the media landscape changes and delivery of content moves inexorably from analog over-the-air to a digital combination of wired and wireless, perhaps this photo of America’s first licensed commercial radio towers coming down is truly worth 1,000 words. WBZ, Boston director of news and programming Peter Casey photographed the felling of WBZ’s first towers atop the old Westinghouse plant in Springfield, Massachusetts – some 85 miles west of Boston – as a piece of radio history is dismantled. What you see here is one of the two 100-foot towers that served as the original transmitters for WBZ when it began operation 90 years ago. We posted photos of the two towers atop the buildings in September as CBS Radio’s WBZ celebrated its 90th anniversary on September 19.
New Cain Accusation, Iran Nukes, Penn State Scandal, Italy Economic Trouble and ‘OWS’ Movemement Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/7). The latest accusation of sexual misconduct by GOP candidate Herman Cain, the reports of Iran’s advancing nuclear weapons program, the Penn State sexual assault scandal, Italy’s contribution to the Euro zone economic problems and the ‘OWS’ movement were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Larry King Still Going Strong, Plans New Radio and TV Projects. In an exclusive TALKERS TV interview conducted with Bill Moran of PodJockey.com, broadcasting legend and CNN icon Larry King says he doesn’t feel his age and has no intention of retiring anytime in the near future. Speaking on camera during the noisy breakfast gathering (10/20) at the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum moments before he delivered the conference’s opening speech, King states that in addition to the four TV specials per year for three years that he has contracted to do for CNN, he is on the verge of announcing (within several days or weeks) his return to doing an LA-based national radio show and the launch of yet another television project. He says that he was comfortable with “Larry King Live” coming to an end this past December stating he knows “it was time” but he does miss having the opportunity to cover the big news stories that break on a daily basis such as the killing of Osama bin Laden. He says he thinks the job being done by present day news media is “mixed” – that the public is provided “massive information” faster than ever due to modern technology, however, in an effort to get it out quickly the media “doesn’t always get it right.” He regrets that there isn’t an Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite working in today’s news broadcasting. He points out that there is “a lot of conjecture” in today’s news reporting. He proudly quotes Johnny Depp who recently described him as being “a throwback” stating “I never had an agenda.” King professes his love of baseball, currently serves as a little league coach, and is a member of one of the investment groups bidding on taking ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Immediately following the interview, King opened up the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum with a well-received address in which he discussed his career – past, present and future. To watch and hear Larry King’s conversation with Bill Moran see the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page. Larry King’s opening address at the LARTF and detailed coverage (stories, photos and videos) of the panels and speeches at the groundbreaking conference will be coming to this website shortly.
Dial Global Completes Merger with Westwood One. Friday, Dial Global announced it has completed its merger with Westwood One in a stock-for-stock transaction that sees the WON ticker symbol go away and, beginning today (10/24), the company is listed on the NASDAQ as DIAL. Dial Global is being led by the management team of Spencer Brown, David Landau and Ken Williams. The newly formed company includes all of the sports programming Westwood One has been known for over the years as well as the original talk content plus the entertainment programming and 24/7 music formats. It also includes the Dial Global sales rep department and continues to partner with the now separate company Triton Digital. Neal Schore serves as chairman of the newly constituted board of directors and states, “Dial Global has always been focused on serving the ever-evolving needs of the radio industry and this transaction will expand the programming and service offerings sought by both radio stations and advertisers. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Rod Sherwood and the entire Westwood One team, whose tremendous efforts have helped make this transaction possible.” Dial Global’s majority ownership is Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. and The Gores Group, LLC which own 44% and 31% of the common shares, respectively.
Cumulus Hammer Falls in New York. News of the corporate dictate hit the industry grapevine late Friday that there have reportedly been about 15 job cuts at New York stations WABC and WPLJ-FM, though at this time only a few are known for sure. Mancow Muller’s New York-only weekend show on news/talk WABC is gone from the lineup. It’s believed that a number of the positions cut were administrative posts but it’s also reported that Jill Vitale (a.k.a Flirty Flipper – former Sean Hannity producer) was let go from her digital media post. So far Cumulus corporate officers have visited Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York as they undertake the process of determining where duplicative positions exit and where money is being spent that they believe is just not necessary.
Deepak Chopra Launches Online Radio Show with Cinchcast and BlogTalkRadio. Cinchcast, a company that provides solutions for businesses and consumers to create, share, measure and monetize audio content, today announced that Deepak Chopra has launched a new online radio show leveraging Cinchcast’s audio publishing and management platform and its online radio network, BlogTalkRadio.com. Deepak Chopra, a leading expert in the fields of spirituality and alternative medicine and New York Times best-selling author in both the fiction and non-fiction categories, has created Deepak Chopra Radio to provide an online forum for compelling and thought provoking conversations on success, love, sexuality and relationships, well-being and spirituality. According to Chopra, “Cinchcast’s technology and the BlogTalkRadio network are enabling me to create my own media platform. The simplicity of broadcasting using only a phone enables me to bring together thought leaders from across the globe from the worlds of spirituality, science and politics to create and share a dialogue on today’s most important topics.” Alan Levy, CEO of Cinchcast and founder of BlogTalkRadio tells TALKERS, “That’s the beauty of our technology, it turns the phone into a publishing platform making it easy for individuals and businesses to bring important conversations to life. We’re thrilled to have Deepak Chopra on the BlogTalkRadio network.” Deepak Chopra Radio is now available at BlogTalkRadio.com, DeepakChopra.com and on iTunes. Cinchcast was developed by BlogTalkRadio to enable businesses with a simple and powerful solution to produce and share original audio content. Headquartered in New York City, Cinchcast powers audio creation and publishing for companies such as United Business Media, Business Insider, SAP and Sears, and is the technology behind BlogTalkRadio. For more information, visit www.cinchcast.com.
KGMZ, San Francisco Names Mitch Moss Producer. Entercom’s 95.7 The Game – KGMZ-FM, San Francisco – announces former KBAD, Las Vegas program director Mitch Moss is the new producer for its midday “The Wheelhouse with John Lund” program.
Timing Is Everything. On the night following the death of Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi, WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier (l) presented Fox News national security correspondent and author Catherine Herridge (r) in a live town hall-style event to discuss the next threats against the U.S. and her new book, The Next Wave: On the Hunt for al Qaeda’s American Recruits (Crown Forum 2011). Bernier tells TALKERS this was the 67th event in the long-running interview series. It featured a book signing as well.
Paul Finebaum and Staff Visit Iowa Fan. Birmingham, Alabama-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum – in the news a lot recently for his legal battle with the former Citadel Broadcasting and WJOX-FM – and some of his staff visited 33-year-old Robert Fisher on Friday, October 21. Fisher, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is a huge college football fan and a regular caller to Finebaum’s show that he’s able to hear via Sirius XM. Finebaum, call screener Tammy Hethcox, and frequent Finebaum guest and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Larry Lemak flew from Alabama to Iowa in Lemak’s private plane to surprise Fisher at his parent’s home. Finebaum tells the Cedar Rapids Courier that though a few hateful callers have taken issue with him putting Fisher on the air, most of the show’s fans have embraced Fisher. Hethcox and Fisher have struck up a friendship as a result of his calls and Fisher was thrilled to meet Hethcox and argue in person over their respective love of college football rivals Alabama and Auburn. Finebaum says, “Everybody loves the guy on the show. He’s known from coast to coast.”
KGO and KSFO, San Francisco VP of Programming Jack Swanson and KSFO PD Ken Berry Exit Posts. In an e-mail to his staff, longtime KGO and KSFO, San Francisco programmer Jack Swanson bids adieu to the stations he’s worked at for as long as most people can remember. In the memo, Swanson – one of the most decorated talk programming veterans in the industry — praises his staff saying, “This has been a tremendous run. Cumulus is inheriting the greatest staff in the radio industry. To a person, they are all rock stars.” Ken Berry served as news director at KGO until taking the KSFO PD post in December of last year. Both are obviously victims of the Cumulus/Citadel consolidation ax. Swanson says he plans to take some time off and come back to the industry refreshed and recharged ready for his next opportunity. Meanwhile, the anxiety continues to grow among former Citadel employees currently on the Cumulus payroll as whispers of the dreaded word “bloodbath” grow louder in the hallways of the company. Last week, longtime KABC/KLOS, Los Angeles president/general manager Bob Moore was let go in similar fashion feeding into the mounting fear. Whenever there is consolidation between two recently merged companies there are going to be duplicative positions that common business sense indicates will require job cuts. However, it’s also obvious to many observers that some people are being ousted primarily because they are making more money than their new employer deems practical to pay. As the folding of Citadel into Cumulus takes place, TALKERS hears reports that some former Citadel station staffers find themselves meeting with Cumulus managers to basically “interview” for the positions they currently hold. Obviously, this is the downside of what can happen in business – especially during tough economic times and is basically unavoidable. However, because of the size of this recent acquisition and the number of stations and personnel it involves, the present state of affairs at Cumulus is significantly contributing to the jitters being felt throughout the radio industry. Stay tuned.
Liberal Activist Group Goes After Baseball for its Affiliation with Glenn Beck. The group Americans United for Change is firing up a campaign to convince Major League Baseball to stop providing Glenn Beck with the video streaming platform to bring his GBTV to the internet. It’s not common knowledge that Major League Baseball Advanced Media provides backend infrastructure, white label services, mobile app services and operational support to not only Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts but to ESPN3, March Madness on Demand, Tiger Woods.com among others and, of course, its own MLB.com. Through its “Strike Out Beck” campaign, AUFC hopes to convince MLB Advanced Media to drop its affiliation with the talk media personality it claims is a purveyor of “unhinged anti-government conspiracies, fear mongering for personal gain, sexist remarks, and race baiting.”
Doug McIntyre Ruffles Political Feathers in Hard Hitting LA Op-Ed Piece. Nationally syndicated Cumulus Media radio talk show host Doug McIntyre – also a regular columnist in L.A.’s second largest daily, the Daily News — wrote a page one editorial in yesterday’s Sunday edition blasting the Los Angeles city government as being “occupied by corruption.” Tying into his premise that the protestors participating in the “Occupy Los Angeles” demonstrations are naively being “duped” by local politicians that he claims are merely acting like supporters of the movement but actually embody all the negative qualities against which the demonstrators are protesting. McIntyre writes, “The Los Angeles City Council embodies everything that’s wrong with government in modern America. Our city is Exhibit A when it comes to special interest money tainting good government.” Read McIntyre’s full column here. McIntyre, whose “Red Eye Radio” late night program emanates from KABC, Los Angeles, will be a member of the panel titled “The Issues Facing Southern California: Challenges and Solutions” at the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum this Thursday, October 20. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison the panel also includes Roger Hedgecock of KOGO, San Diego and Radio America; Stephanie Miller of KTLK, Los Angeles and Dial Global; investigative reporter Charles Feldman of KNX, Los Angeles; Patt Morrison of KPCC-FM, Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; John Phillips of KABC, Los Angeles; Josefa Salinas of Hot 92.3 FM, Los Angeles; and LaFern Cusack of the Southern California Broadcasters Association and ESPN, Los Angeles. Considering the volatile nature of the issues facing the region which include immigration, economics, transportation, the environment and a slew of others, and the diversity of the panelists participating – the sparks will really fly! For complete details about the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum click here.
Entercom’s WMC, Memphis Flips to Sports. Speculation about the company’s plans for “Country Legends” WMC began last week when Entercom announced Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome show would move from sister sports WMFS-AM/FM to WMC. Now, Entercom will manage two sports talk stations in the market it calls the Memphis Entercom Sports Network – WMFS-AM/FM affiliated with ESPN Radio and producing live and local programming in the afternoons (Eric Hasseltine followed by the Gary Parrish Show with Geoff Calkins) and WMC affiliated with Fox Sports Radio Network and carrying Jim Rome.
Actress Janine Turner Begins Daily Syndicated Talk Show. The Texas-born actress has been hosting a two-hour weekend talk show on Cumulus’ KLIF, Dallas since 2010. Now, Janine Turner announces she’s beginning a daily program – “The Janine Turner Show – Where is Reason?” – that airs live at 2:00 pm ET and is available in national syndication via her eponymous radio network. The show can also be heard online at janineturner.com. Turner says, “I’m thrilled that the Janine Turner show has received such a positive response both from the critics and the listeners. I think what makes my show really unique is that it features thought-provoking analysis about ‘Where is Reason?’ in our country, plus an inquisitive and conversational forum with a great lineup of guests – everyone from presidential candidates and authors to actors and constitutional scholars. And I absolutely love the opportunity to include callers from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and across the nation into the ‘Where is Reason’ dialogue.”
iHeartRadio to Invade American Living Rooms. In an innovative development that significantly bolsters traditional radio programming’s digital distribution potential, Clear Channel’s expanded deal with Microsoft to include its iHeartRadio in the Xbox LIVE service could put CC stations into the homes of millions of Americans. Clear Channel says this is an expansion of its multi-year deal with Microsoft that integrates iHeartRadio on Windows Phone 7 and brought the recent two-day iHeartRadio music festival into homes exclusively on the Xbox 360. Beginning this winter it will work this way: The New iHeartRadio will be available for free to Xbox LIVE Gold members. Through this new agreement, Gold members who have Kinect for Xbox 360 can use the product’s revolutionary sensor to experience an entertainment first: the ability to control digital radio in their living room using their voice and body. Gold members who have Xbox 360, but do not have Kinect, can operate the New iHeartRadio using their controller. Regardless of whether they have Kinect or not, all Xbox 360 Gold members will have access to the New iHeartRadio’s features, including more than 800 of the nation’s most popular live broadcast and digital-only radio stations from 150 cities, plus custom stations with more songs, better music intelligence and more user control. The deal will also give users access to social features through CC’s deal with Facebook. Clear Channel CEO John Hogan tells TALKERS, “Clear Channel is committed to innovation and deep social integration. We want to continually deliver new experiences that consumers have never seen before – like the recent launch of the New iHeartRadio, which combines broadcast and digital-only stations and user-created stations in one service for the first time. The New iHeartRadio’s integration with the Xbox 360 enables Kinect users to control digital radio in their living room using just their voice and body. There is nothing else like it on the market and it’s another example of how we are committed to being wherever our listeners are with the programming and services they want and expect.”
Financial Expert Charles Payne to Launch National Radio Show Via Sun Broadcast Group. Charles Payne is well known to viewers of Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel as well as to KFI, Los Angeles where he’s hosted a Saturday afternoon program. Now, Payne partners with Sun Broadcast Group to begin a nationally syndicated two-hour financial talk show airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily starting October 17. “Payne Nation with Charles Payne” will emanate from Fox studios in New York. Chad Wilkinson is named executive producer, Gabe Hobbs and Jim Robinson are aboard in a consulting capacity and the show will feature the voice talents of Edd Hall. Sun CEO and founder Jay Bailey states, “We’re very excited to welcome Charles to the Sun Broadcast lineup. We believe the industry is ready for an uplifting, positive financial show that will provide real answers for real people in this turbulent time in our nation.” Payne says, “Everyone asks me how I am going to be different from other hosts out there, and I tell them that I am simply going to be real. No scare tactics. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything in fact I go right at the issues by digging beneath the surface, seeking facts, relying on history and connecting all the dots for real assessments and real solutions.”
Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels Scores Exclusive Perspective of Airline Passenger Arrest. WJIM, Lansing-based talk show host Michael Patrick Shiels happened to be returning from Amsterdam to Detroit when a man on the Delta plane began ranting about a hijacking. The man was quickly restrained by air marshals. Shiels tells TALKERS, “While observing from up close, I discreetly used the e-mail function of Delta’s in-flight entertainment system to send e-mails and texts to my producer and other media outlets. The result was an exclusive story for my radio network and a press gaggle waiting for me when I emerged from the aircraft, resulting in national publicity on the major TV networks.” Shiels says the man appeared to be American and in his 30s. He says many passengers became agitated since it was an Amsterdam to Detroit flight that the infamous “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to blow up on Christmas Day 2009.
Paul Finebaum Gets Favorable Ruling in Legal Tussle with Cumulus. Regionally syndicated and WJOX-FM, Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum was successful in getting his civil suit against Citadel – now Cumulus – returned to state court in Alabama. Federal judge L. Scott Coogler ruled Cumulus was not able to prove the dispute went above the $75,000 threshold to make it a federal civil suit. Legal experts say Finebaum stands a better chance in state court due to the legal standards. Finebaum has two suits filed against Cumulus: one in which Citadel agreed to bankruptcy reorganization without his consent and the other that he was coerced into amending his contract and that Citadel violated its deal with him by manipulating revenue for his program away from him.
KNBR, San Francisco Host Ralph Barbieri Comes Out with Parkinson’s Diagnosis. In a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, KNBR sports talk host Ralph Barbieri – co-host of “The Razor and Mr. T” alongside Tom Tolbert – confesses to having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2002 and telling no one except Tolbert until now. Barbieri tells the paper he decided to reveal his diagnosis now since he is coming to the end of his contract and wanted to be honest as he and Cumulus negotiate a new deal. He tells the paper, “If I am to continue at KNBR, I’d like to start with all our cards on the table, face-up. I’ve gotten to know Lew Dickey a little bit, and my gut feeling was that he could deal with my situation at an honorable level, so I gave him a call and told him everything. He let me know that KNBR wants me back. He didn’t say on what terms, but the fact that he didn’t view the Parkinson’s as a red flag, that was a huge relief to me.”
Premiere Networks Scores Large Market Add for Glenn Beck: Phoenix. Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix agrees to add the Glenn Beck show to its daily program schedule in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm time slot bumping Talk Radio Network’s Michael Savage from the slot. Clear Channel Phoenix director of programming and operations Smokey Rivers states, “Glenn has a sizeable and loyal local following. His unique and stimulating perspectives will be a welcome addition to the station.”
WROK, Rockford-Based Michael Koolidge Show Names New Producer. Michael Koolidge’s regionally and independently syndicated talk show is based out of Cumulus-owned WROK, Rockford, Illinois and syndicated to WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois and WLBK, DeKalb, Illinois. Koolidge announces he brings on Natalie Zee Fenwick as his program’s first full-time producer. “Thanks specifically to our outstanding advertiser support over the last year, we can afford to officially create our first bona fide job. Even though it’s just a single job, we’re proud to join the ranks of ‘job creators’ of America. I’ve had a rotation of great part-time producers and interns over the years, but we’re finally in a position where we’re ready to hire a regular producer. And we’re thrilled that we found Natalie.” Koolidge’s business model – serving as an independent contractor to regional radio stations – is one the industry is likely to see more of as companies and stations seek quality local or regional talent without taking on the expenses of traditional employees. Koolidge’s highly rated program is one industry watchers are keeping an eye on.
Talk Host Jim Walsh and KFYR, Bismarck Part Company. It’s only been two weeks since talk personality Jim Walsh returned to Clear Channel’s KFYR, Bismarck – a station he worked at in 2003 and 2004 – to host the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program formerly held by Scott Bachmeier. Not sure what happened there but Walsh cryptically tells TALKERS, “I have stepped down from the afternoon talk show at KFYR, Bismarck by mutual consent. I’m still there part-time, at least for the time being. I’m currently exploring my options and can be reached at 701-226-8449.” Bachmeier had exited the full-time shift to concentrate on non-radio work but the station lists him as host of the time slot – at least for now.
Occupy Wall Street, Steve Jobs Passes, 2012 GOP Candidates and Obama Jobs Plan Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/5). The growing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, the death of Apple innovator Steve Jobs, the Republican candidates for president in 2012 and President Obama’s job creation plan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Merlin Faces Pressure after Disappointing Arbitrons. The upside of having a high-profile roll out for the launch of a new format is gaining the thrust of free publicity generated by lots of consumer press and enjoying the accompanying media/advertising buzz that generates early believers and revenue. The downside is facing the instantaneous criticism that comes with unrealistic expectations when they are not fulfilled – an insidious process that can quickly erode the confidence of investors, advertisers and employees, setting in motion the radio equivalent of an unharmonious locker room in sports and frightened ownership. That is the price Merlin Media and its colorful, controversial CEO Randy Michaels are facing in the wake of two early but extremely disappointing report cards issued by Arbitron reflecting the anemic initial audience numbers of their innovative all-news properties, FM News 101.1 in Chicago (0.2, 6-plus) and FM News 101.9 in New York (0.5, 6-plus). The “ouch factor” is especially biting in Chicago where FM News 101.1 is being measured against CBS Radio O&O WBBM’s 105.9 FM simulcast which launched a pre-emptive competing all news format on FM and garnered a solid 1.0, 6-plus share on top of its big AM numbers for the same period. Whereas much of this “chatter” has remained contained within under-the-radar industry conversations and media blogs, the hard facts surfaced big-time publicly this morning in an all-too-blunt article by reporter Robert Channick in the Chicago Tribune headlined “FM News 101 finds meager audience, early ratings show” describing what happened in the following terms: “The first full month of ratings for Chicago’s two FM news stations didn’t bring good news for Merlin Media. Its FM News 101.1 (WWWN-FM) ranked 48th, with a minuscule 0.2 share for September, according to Arbitron results released Tuesday. The station was trounced by CBS Radio’s simulcast of WBBM-AM 780 on sister station 105.9 FM, which garnered an additional 1.0 share. The combined AM-FM listenership for WBBM Newsradio was 6.4, topping the Chicago market. The survey covered Aug. 18 to Sept. 14.” The article goes on to quote a confident Michaels as stating, “It’s a work in progress; it’s very, very early.” Michaels adds, “You’re looking at the very first couple of weeks after we blew up a rock station, and I can’t think that too many people who were listening to (Q101.1) would be listening to spoken word.” The story reports that Michaels is urging patience in assessing the Chicago station’s success offering the revealing explanation, “I think that we’re still in the process of revamping and finding the right approach.” Seasoned talk media industry professionals know that Michaels is correct in his ongoing assertion that it takes time for a spoken word format to gain ratings traction. However a larger question spawned of the times looms – in today’s PPM world in which listener loyalty and station image take a back seat to instantaneous, real-time listening, set against the backdrop of a very uncertain economy, and exacerbated by an impatient media’s hunger for the instantaneous results of a high-profile business launch, does Michaels have the time to bring his ambitious endeavor to fruition before his nervous investors start pressing the panic button?
Cumulus Watch: Bob Moore Out in Los Angeles. KABC and KLOS-FM, Los Angeles general manager Bob Moore is out at the Cumulus stations and former Spanish Broadcasting System chief revenue officer Marko Radlovic rejoins the company he worked for almost a decade ago. Radlovic resigned from his post at SBS on September 28 where he also served as senior vice president and general manager at the company’s two Los Angeles stations.
Townsquare Media Steals One from Cumulus. Townsquare Media hires Matt Hanlon for the newly created position of vice president of sales in which he’ll oversee all aspects of the company’s sales efforts. Hanlon leaves his Michigan-based position as regional vice president for Cumulus to join Townsquare. He was an RVP for Citadel – now Cumulus – in charge of some 85 markets in the Midwest.
Beck, Ingraham, Levin and Bennett Featured Speakers at DC Summit. The Values Voters Summit takes place this weekend at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC and joining numerous conservative speakers, Republican officeholders and most of the GOP presidential candidates are Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham, Cumulus Media Networks’ Mark Levin and Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett. The event is co-sponsored by a number of conservative action groups including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association as well as conservative think tanks including The Heritage Foundation.
Bell Media Launches TSN Radio in Montreal and Winnipeg. With a continued focus on local sports, The Team 990 in Montreal (CKGM) is being rebranded as TSN Radio 990 and Sports Radio 1290 in Winnipeg (CFRW) becomes TSN Radio 1290. The stations debut just in time for the launch of the NHL season. Both TSN stations promise to feature extensive live NHL hockey coverage with TSN Radio 990 airing Montreal Canadiens games and TSN Radio 1290 the home of the Winnipeg Jets. Both stations are available nationally online at TSN.ca and on TSN Mobile. The newly re-branded TSN Radio stations will work closely with Bell Media‘s market-leading all-sports radio stations in Vancouver and Ottawa.
Canada’s Radio Regulator Rules Broadcasters Must Identify Repeat Programs. Acting after a complaint about a 2010 edition of the CFRB, Toronto program “Friendly Fire,” the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council recently ruled that repeat broadcasts of call-in shows must be identified as such. The CFRB show in question was a repeat of a program that encouraged listeners to call in or text questions to program participants. In its ruling, the CBSC wrote, in part: “At the very least, it would be courteous to the audience’s sensibilities to advise them that a program or an episode of a program is being repeated…Where, however, it is a part of the original broadcast that persons were invited to contact the station, as in any call-in show, the lack of courtesy in failing to advise listeners not to call becomes an inconvenience if not an annoyance. Where, as in the matter at hand, listeners are invited, not just to call, but also to text the station, the inconvenience turns to expense.”
2012 GOP Candidates, ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ U.N. Syria Resolution and Bernanke Testimony Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/4). The GOP candidates for the Republican nomination in 2012 – including Herman Cain’s rise in the polls, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests, Russia and China’s veto of a U.N. resolution against Syria and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Old Friends. Salem Radio Network’s “Morning in America” host Bill Bennett (r) and his producer Chris Beach (c) bump into presidential candidate Herman Cain (l) outside the Fox News Channel studios in New York City. Cain, who hosted a talk radio program on WSB, Atlanta before giving up the show to run for office, had been a regular fill-in host for Bennett’s show. Bennett told Cain he’s welcome back on the show anytime if his presidential campaign doesn’t end up victorious and Cain replied Bennett is welcome to visit him in the White House if he wins.
WBZ, Boston Celebrates 90 Years on the Air Today. Yes, the building with its twin radio towers in the photo at the top of this page is the site of the original broadcast studios but you might be surprised to know it’s not in the Boston area. The CBS Radio station’s history as the first “commercial license” radio station in the country began 80 miles west in Springfield, Massachusetts at the old Westinghouse plant. Many of the nation’s oldest radio stations moved around the dial and WBZ was no exception. It broadcast at 830 on the dial when it first went on the air from this location on September 19, 1921. Read more about WBZ’s history here.
Cumulus Gives WMAL, Washington an FM Boost Today. The victim is classic rock WVRX-FM at 105.9 as WMAL will simulcast beginning at 12:00 noon today in time for Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh to be heard in the Nation’s Capital on FM. WMAL clearly has its sights set on some of the dollars crosstown competitor WTOP has been raking in on the FM band. WMAL president and general manager Jeff Boden states, “By expanding our successful brand to the FM dial, we will be a viable listening and advertising option for many more people in the Washington, DC area. There are many potential listeners who never listen on AM, and we are now making programs of wide interest available to the largest possible audience.”
George Plaster’s Status in Nashville Unknown. Nashville sports talk host George Plaster was off the air at WGFX-FM on Friday and he tells the Tennessean, “There’s been a lot of rumors about where we’re going to end up. At this point no decision has been made. I want to do not only what’s good for my group, but I want to end up doing something good for our listeners.” WGFX-FM was a Citadel station until the closing of the merger between Cumulus and Citadel. Eight years prior, Plaster sued Cumulus to get away from that company and join Citadel’s WGFX-FM. If there’s bad blood between the two parties, the question is will they be able to get over it and work together again? Plaster’s show rakes in a reported $2 million annually for WGFX. The complicating factor is the new crosstown FM sports talk station WPRT-FM “The Game,” operated by the Cromwell Group, which would no doubt love to bring Plaster over to get its new format off the ground with a popular, money-making talent. Expect some decisions to be made soon.
Bill Cunningham Debuts on Daytime TV Today. WLW, Cincinnati and Premiere Networks talk show host Bill Cunningham’s nationally syndicated eponymous TV show debuts today. Cunningham tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter that this is a completely different program than his radio show. Cunningham has been taping shows since late July and the content is very much the stuff of daytime TV talk shows – dysfunctional families, pot parties and other such fare. Cunningham says they’ve remade his image with spray-on tans and expensive suits but producers of the program say they want his image as a father, family man and the guy-next-door to shine through. Cunningham’s program debuts on 22 stations across the country, including in his home town of Cincinnati.
WTMM-FM, Albany Brings Bruce Jacobs in for PM Drive. Sports talk and talk radio pro Bruce Jacobs is named the new PM drive host at Townsquare Media’s Albany/Schenectady FM sports talk outlet 104.5 The Team. Jacobs has worked most recently in the Phoenix market. Jacobs begins his new program Tuesday, September 20. The Long Island native says, “After 20 years of being away, it’s so great to be home again. It’s great to be back with the most passionate, hardcore fans in the world.”
John Olsen Named PD at Sports WZZN-FM, Birmingham. Cox Media Group announces John Olsen is the program director at its new FM sports talk outlet Sports Radio 97.7 The Zone. Olsen has been with Cox since 2001 in various capacities. He says, “Thanks to Ben Reed, David DuBose, Ray Nelson and Justin Case for their vision to bring 97.3 The Zone to the air. We have a terrific, unique station that will give sports fans a true sports station.” Also at the CMG in Birmingham, programmer Justin Case is named operations manager for the cluster.
Eleanor Mondale Dies at 51. Eleanor Mondale, daughter of former vice president Walter Mondale and former WCCO, Minneapolis talk show host, passed away on Saturday at age 51 after her second bout with brain cancer. Mondale left her show on WCCO in March of 2009 after the brain cancer returned a second time. She had surgery later that year to remove the tumor and it was reported at the time that the surgery was successful. Mondale began her broadcasting career in 1989 as the entertainment reporter for WCCO-TV, Minneapolis. She went on to network television gigs but returned to Minnesota and co-hosted a radio talk show on WCCO with Susie Jones in 2006.
KYW, Philadelphia’s Jack O’Rourke Passes Away at 80. Shortly after covering the Phillies-Cardinals game Friday night, the KYW sports reporter collapsed and passed away. O’Rourke began his career with KYW in 1966. He worked with NBC Radio in New York for more than 20 years before returning to KYW.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup. Premiere Networks’ “America Now” with Andy Dean is added to the program schedule at Cox Media Group’s KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot…..Genesis Communications Network’s “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney is now heard on WWNZ, Bangor…..Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory is picked up by CBS Radio’s new news/talk outlet WXYT for the 1:00 am to 5:00 am timeslot…..The talk-intensive, Premiere Networks-syndicated Elvis Duran morning show adds new affiliate WMXZ-FM, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida…..The “Health Insurance Advocate” show with Cary Hall joins the lineup at KBMV-FM, West Plains, Missouri…..“Armed American Radio” with Mark Walters adds KFLO-FM, Shreveport, Louisiana; KWKC, Abilene, Texas; KBMV-FM, West Pains, Missouri; and WBFD, Bedford, Pennsylvania…..“The Rose Hollywood Report” with Shannon Rose is cleared on KRDO-AM/FM, Colorado Springs.
Cumulus-Citadel Merger Gets DOJ and FCC Approval; Shareholder Vote Takes Place Today. The merger of radio companies Citadel and Cumulus has passed federal muster as both the FCC and the Department of Justice give their approval and the creation of the new radio company rests on shareholder votes today (9/15). To make the deal happen, Cumulus is forced to put three stations in a trust. Those are: Citadel’s country WCAT-FM, Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Cumulus’ CHR WWKL-FM, Palmyra, Pennsylvania and classic rock WRSR-FM, Owosso, Michigan in the Flint market. WRSR-FM goes into the Potential Broadcasting trust and must be programmed by the trust’s operators. WCAT-FM and WWKL-FM were being moved to the Volt Radio trust and will be reassigned to the Potential trust and also must be programmed by that trust’s operators.
Bloomberg and ESPN Join in Partnership for New York Morning Sports Reports. At first blush it seems like an unlikely pairing but many of the men Bloomberg’s flagship station business news WBBR, New York reaches are sports fans as well. ESPN’s WEPN, New York will provide WBBR with live reports specifically targeted to the New York market by WEPN’s Jared Max beginning at 5:00 am on “The First Word” hosted by Ken Prewitt and “Bloomberg Surveillance” with hosts Prewitt and Tom Keene. Bloomberg Radio’s Al Mayers states, “”We’re pleased to offer our listeners in the New York City metro area with morning sports coverage by ESPN’s flagship station. In partnering with ESPN, we’re combining the best brand in business with the best brand in sports.”
“Troubleshooter” Tom Martino Files for Personal Bankruptcy Protection. Martino’s consumer advocate show is heard daily on KHOW, Denver. The filing lists assets of $1.37 million against liabilities of $78.6 million. Martino tells the Denver Post that his financial issues center on his real estate investments that have been affected by the economy. “There are so many people in this same boat. You’ve got millions of dollars in lost value and all of a sudden you can’t refinance your loans and you are just upside down. I just don’t know what I could have done.” Martino says his debt comes from taking on additional loans over the past few years to save his real estate investments and that his Troubleshooter Network, consulting business and the radio show are not affected by the bankruptcy filing.
Leslie Marshall Show Contracts with AdLarge for Sales Representation. The independently syndicated Leslie Marshall show signs a deal with AdLarge for the company to be the exclusive national marketing rep firm. AdLarge co-founder and CEO Gary Shonfeld states, “Leslie is a highly renowned pundit who knows how to engage both the left and the right. We are thrilled to have her show on our growing content platform and to represent her with the biggest national advertisers in the country.” Marshall, whose program is fed live nightly from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET, says of the new deal, “Gary has done this before and very successfully. At AdLarge, I’m not just another show in a large roster of programs. My show is given personalized attention and the AdLarge team seems to have my best interest at heart. They work hard for me.”
Bill Press Show Adds Video Component. Bill Press’ Dial Global-syndicated radio show begins a video stream today (9/15) from his Capitol Hill studios. Press tells TALKERS the video will stream live via Ustream and then key excerpts will be posted on YouTube but he’s quick to note they are still doing a radio show, not a TV show. As a credentialed Washington correspondent and a nationally syndicated columnist (Tribune), Bill Press brings a unique level of journalistic credibility to his radio show that makes it stand out from most talk shows on either the left or the right.
KIRO, Seattle Debuts New Football Show. 710 ESPN (KIRO), Bonneville’s Seattle sports talk station debuts a new live football show tonight (9/15). The new weekly show airs live tonight from Joey Restaurant in Bellevue, Washington from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by ESPN football expert John Clayton and co-hosted by former Seattle Seahawk players Dave Wyman and Mack Strong. Joining the trio on tonight’s show is current Seahawks player John Moffitt.
CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM Gets Pirates Baseball Back. That’s what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting. After five years at Clear Channel’s FM talk WPGB, the paper says sources close to the deal indicate Pirates baseball, which aired for so many years on heritage news/talk KDKA, will come back to CBS but this time on its KDKA-FM sports outlet, “Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan.”
WBZ, Boston Prepares to Celebrate 90th Anniversary. CBS Radio’s venerable WBZ, Boston will celebrate its 90th anniversary on Monday, September 19 and will commemorate its place in broadcasting history as the first commercially licensed radio station in America. The station will air a number of 15-minute vignettes that chronicle and honor the station’s history. The station will also host a WBZ Hall of Fame induction ceremony. CBS Radio Boston SVP and market manager Mark Hannon states, “For nine decades WBZ NewsRadio has led the way in reporting historic news events on both a national and local stage, and the station has offered a forum for the community to discuss the news of the day and evaluate what it means to them. We are extremely proud of the staff’s reporting and programming over the years, as well as the station’s community outreach, and we look forward to being a positive influence in the market for many years to come.”
Early Ratings for Anderson Cooper’s Daytime Show Soft. The new, daytime TV talk show “Anderson” is not yet a week old but analysis of the early ratings is inevitable and so far the critics are not impressed. The Los Angeles Times reports the Monday premiere garnered a 1.1 household rating that put it behind the pack of such shows as “Regis & Kelly,” “Ellen,” “Dr, Oz,” and “The Talk.” But the syndicated show is expected to take time to build and Telepictures – the Warner Bros. arm syndicating the show – says the program was pre-empted in some markets and had to compete with coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
Insurgent Attack in Kabul, Obama’s Green Jobs Controversy, 2012 GOP Presidential Field and European Financial Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/14). The violent attack on American interests in Afghanistan, the investigation into the Obama Administration’s support of a solar power company, the GOP field of candidates for president in 2012 and the tenuous state of the European economy were some of the most-talked-about topics on news/talk radio yesterday.
KDKA Feeds Pittsburgh. Well, at least several thousand Pittsburghers. That’s how many residents station officials say enjoyed the 28th KDKA Spaghetti Breakfast held recently in the Steel City. Pictured here are KDKA talk host Johnna Pro (l) and traffic reporter Kathy Berggren (r) as they prepare to feed the masses. This year, the station honored the late KDKA talk personality John Cigna who is credited with starting the popular local tradition as a station promotion 28 years ago.
Paul Finebaum v. Citadel: A Lesson in Fine Print. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that the case of WJOX-FM, Birmingham sports talk host Paul Finebaum suing employer Citadel for breach of contract is an example of why employment contracts should always be reviewed by the talent’s lawyer before being signed – regardless of what the employer prefers. Employment situations can be complicated by addenda, bankruptcies and ownership changes and Weisman says this case certainly has its twists and turns. Read his analysis of the case here.
Talk Host Martha Zoller Mulls Run for Congress. WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia-based talk host Martha Zoller tells Roll Call she’s considering a run for U.S. Congress and will make a decision within a “couple of weeks.” Population shifts are creating a new congressional district in Northern Georgia soon to be approved by the Georgia legislature and the new 9th district would be a very Republican district, according to Roll Call. Zoller tells the publication, “I’ve been a fiscal conservative my whole career. I’ve criticized Clinton budgets, Bush budgets and Obama budgets…I believe the tea party people that have been elected to Congress have represented their districts well and they need reinforcements. That’s why I’m considering this.” Zoller is heard throughout Georgia via the Georgia News Network.
Teresa Strasser Exits the KABC, Los Angeles Morning Show. LARadio’s Don Barrett reports Teresa Strasser has left the Peter Tilden morning show at Citadel’s KABC, Los Angeles. Barrett quotes KABC program director Jack Silver stating Strasser chose not to renew her contract with the station in order to focus on her TV, commercial voiceover and camera work. Strasser – known for her television work on TLC’s “While You Were Out,” her co-host position on the Adam Carolla radio show and her book Exploiting My Baby (NAL Trade 2011), became part of the Peter Tilden program in August of 2010.
Chicago Talk Radio Personality Cisco Cotto Considers Starting New Church. Cotto most recently hosted the midday show at WLS, Chicago and served on crosstown WIND’s morning show prior to that. He was replaced at WLS by Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft earlier this summer and is now thinking about starting a non-denominational church in his Chicago suburb of Oak Park. Cotto studied at the Moody Bible Institute and tells the Chicago Tribune he’s been working with the Evangelical Free Church of America to start the church and has filed the paper work for getting non-profit, tax-exempt status. Will his radio past complicate things? Cotto says, “I think I am going to be labeled ‘that guy who used to be the conservative talk show host,’ and that is going to be a significant barrier.”
2012 Presidential Race, Middle East Turmoil, Obama Economic Policy and Irene Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/31). According to ongoing research from TALKERS, the 2012 presidential race, political unrest in the Middle East, President Obama’s economic policy and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (8/31).
All-News and Talk Radio Stations Keep Public Informed During Hurricane Irene. The hurricane/tropical storm that swept up the East Coast over the weekend pushed radio stations, especially news and talk radio stations, into their familiar and historical roles as providers of timely and emergency information as Irene bore down upon their markets. While radio of all formats can deliver this kind of information, news and talk radio does so without breaking format – they just alter the type of news, information and talk they provide. Their P1s expect to be kept informed during these times and the many news and talk stations up and down the East Coast did an exemplary job of being there for their listeners. (There were simply too many examples of stations serving their listeners this weekend to name them all!) According to TALKERS monitoring of radio during the Irene event, the approach to coverage went through three basic phases: First, tracking and speculating on the direction, timing and tips for preparing for the storm. Second, being in the storm itself when the power goes out and all hell is breaking loose (a crucial phase for radio). Third, the aftermath — the details and politics of recovery. The past 10 months have provided ample opportunity for coverage of natural disasters with a higher-than-usual occurrence of these, from intense snowstorms to floods to tornadoes and recent earthquakes. News and talk radio remains the best link to accurate and timely information when the power goes out. The bigger questions now include: Should emergency preparedness and local, on-the-ground coverage become a more institutional component of the competitive terrestrial radio infrastructure? Also, should talk radio of all genres focus primarily on super-serving its most loyal fans (who are still in the habit of using radio) or break out of that role and aggressively try to bring new listeners to the format (or in the case of those who have left, back to the format)? (Photo courtesy of NOAA.)
WJOX-FM, Birmingham Sports Host Finebuam’s Suit Against Citadel Revealed. Thanks to a judge for unsealing the suits filed by Paul Finebaum against Citadel’s WJOX-FM, Birmingham, we know more about the claims. The Birmingham News reports Finebaum – who has a deal with Citadel to host a show on WJOX-FM that is regionally syndicated – accuses WJOX-FM of breach of contract when Citadel declared bankruptcy in December 2009. Finebaum further alleges he was subsequently forced to agree to contract changes under duress that have caused him “great financial impact.” Finebaum alleges WJOX-FM, GM Bill Thomas threatened to remove his show from its affiliates and Sirius XM if he didn’t agree to a reduction in revenue from the show. Citadel says Finebaum was fully aware it filed for bankruptcy when he signed the contract addendum in January 2010. The company also states any talk of removing the show from affiliates was due to poor financial performance that the company did not want to continue. Finally, Citadel questions why Finebaum is filing the suits now since Citadel exited bankruptcy protection more than a year ago and calls the suits a “pretense by which Mr. Finebaum hopes to avoid fulfilling his obligations under the employment agreement.” Finebaum is under contract to Citadel through January 2013.
Clear Channel Ousts Vassilaros from WPTI-FM, Greensboro; Simulcasts Raleigh AM Show. WRDU-FM, Raleigh’s “Morning Rush” program hosted by KC O’Dea and Carmen Connors is now heard on the company’s WPTI-FM, Greensboro as well. Morning drive host Dimitri Vassilaros – who left his newspaper and part time radio gigs in Pittsburgh in January to take the WPTI-FM job – is out. Vassilaros hosted a weekend show at CBS Radio’s KDKA and wrote a column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review prior to heading south.
Michael Harrison Writing a Book with Mike Kinosian about Talk Radio Set for Publication February 2012. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison has announced he is writing a book about talk radio, in collaboration with TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian. Talkers: The Irrepressible Voices of Radio will be published by Talkers Books and will be part history, part memoir and part commentary based upon radio pioneer Harrison’s 21 years as publisher of TALKERS, 45 years as a professional broadcaster, and his lifelong love affair with popular culture and media. The primary focus will be Harrison’s observations of many leading figures of contemporary talk radio set against the backdrop of key events connected to the scene’s colorful history. Material will be drawn from his professional and personal experiences with these extraordinary individuals and supplemented by the extensive database accumulated over the decades in the TALKERS archives. He also delves back into his own roots as a kid listening to New York City Top 40 in the 1950s and 1960s to becoming an FM album rock groundbreaker on both coasts in the 1970s, an innovator in the trades and eventually one of the driving forces behind the modern talk radio era. With more than a quarter century of insight and experience at Radio & Records, Inside Radio and now TALKERS — and as one of the radio trade publication world’s most prolific interviewers — collaborator Mike Kinosian brings his formidable radio background and writing skills to the project. According to Harrison, “Between the two of us we know just about everyone who’s anyone in the talk business from a number of angles. Mike Kinosian has personally interviewed and written biographical profiles of more than 100 spoken-word radio stars in his illustrious career as an industry chronicler. His legendary “Mike Kinosian Interviews” remain the gold standard of radio trade journalism. Having a professional of his stature supporting my efforts in this undertaking is nothing short of inspirational!” Commenting on his joining forces with Harrison on this ambitious endeavor, Kinosian states, “It is a high honor and a rare privilege to serve as this book’s collaborator, not solely since the subject matter is so personally appealing, but also — and much more significantly — because it is with Michael Harrison. No one else in the talk radio industry commands Michael’s immense level of respect and credibility. His behind-the-scenes knowledge of the industry, credentials, accomplishments, detail to recount facts and especially his character are impeccable.” Among those examined beneath their professional personas are Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Glenn Beck, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Savage, Jerry Williams, Gene Burns and many more. Harrison shares never-before-published stories about his personal conversations and dealings with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush regarding their relationships with the media. He finally reveals the back story and truth about his controversial encounter with Al Franken during the future U.S. Senator’s Freedom of Speech Award acceptance at the New Media Seminar. He talks about his longtime friendship with Alan Colmes, going back to the dreams they shared as part-time MOR jocks on a small Long Island AM daytimer 43 years ago. He resurrects the colorful decade (1975-1985) he spent as one of the first FM “youth talkers” hosting a trailblazing talk show on L.A.’s legendary rocker, KMET. Talkers: The Irrepressible Voices of Radio by Michael Harrison with Mike Kinosian promises to reveal a side of talk radio never before exposed to the public. Summing it up, Kinosian states, “Unsurpassed quality is the dominant theme the two of us have stressed to each other in writing this book. Based on the early drafts, we are well on our way to accomplishing that goal.” The promotion of Talkers: The Irrepressible Voices of Radio will be supported with a national tour.
Scott Hennen Signs with Genesis Communications Network for National Distribution. Talk radio pro Scott Hennen’s Fargo-based talk show, “Common Sense Club,” (heard in North Dakota on KNOX, Grand Forks from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm) will be distributed for national syndication via the Genesis Communications Network. Hennen tells the Fargo Forum he expects to debut on about a dozen stations.
“The Talk” May Be Adding Two New Hosts for this Season. The CBS daytime TV talk show “The Talk” lost hosts Leah Rimini and Holly Robinson Peete – their contracts were not renewed for the show’s second season. The network is preparing to fill their slots alongside Sara Gilbert, Julie Chen and Sharon Osbourne with radio host and comedian Sheryl Underwood and Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner. Jenner is signed to fill in for Osbourne for the show’s first two weeks of the new season but may stay on as Osbourne’s regular fill in. Underwood will also be part of the first two weeks but is expected to be a regular this season.
Recognition of a Job Well Done. CBS Radio’s all-news KNX, Los Angeles was recently recognized by Los Angeles City councilman Dennis Zine for its coverage of Carmageddon – the July shutdown of the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. Pictured here from left to right are: traffic reporters Jeff Baugh, Tommy Jaxson and Meghan Reyes; Councilman Dennis Zine, news director Julie Chin, and director of programming Andy Ludlum.
Glenn Beck Israel Event Featured on GBTV Media Station. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” rally in Israel did not get the same press his “Restoring Honor” rally at the National Mall in Washington, DC one year ago did. However, Beck’s address before the reported crowd of 1,700 near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the reported 3,000 watching from a nearby viewing station was both beamed live to and archived on GBTV.com – the new media station programmed by Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company. Beck’s new live, streaming “TV show” debuts on September 12 on GBTV.com and no doubt Beck hopes it will replace his Fox News Channel program that ended in June in the minds of many of his hard-core P1s. Regardless of criticism leveled at Beck by consumer media journalists for his message, one can argue that Beck and his staff may just be building a sterling example of well-programmed, revenue making digital news/talk content (media station) for the new era.
Cox Announces FM Sports Coming to Birmingham While Crosstown WJOX-FM Host Paul Finebaum Sues Employer Citadel. Cox Media Group confirms to the Birmingham Business Journal that it will flip country WNCB-FM to sports on Tuesday, August 30. General manager David DuBose says Eli Gold and Stan White will co-host the morning drive show, Matt Coulter – a former WJOX-FM host – will handle the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show and the station will be a Yahoo! Sports (formerly Sporting News Radio) affiliate. Meanwhile, across town Citadel’s WJOX-FM and popular market sports personality Paul Finebaum are in a legal tussle. At issue it appears is Finebaum’s contention that Citadel has not shared revenue for his program according to the terms of his contract and the sum in question exceeds $75,000, again according to the Birmingham Business Journal. Finebaum’s attorney, Russ Campbell, refused to comment to the Journal but WJOX-FM general manager Bill Thomas issued a statement saying, “I feel very confident that the actions of Citadel and its employees with respect to Paul have been appropriate, and I expect that to be demonstrated if his lawsuit continues.” Finebaum, whose popular show is known for superserving rabid fans of SEC football and basketball, is under contract with WJOX-FM through January of 2013. The Citadel station serves as the flagship for Finebaum’s program. Cox’s DuBose says if Finebaum’s legal situation clears up, they would be interested in talking to him.
Cox Media Group Names Format Captains. Cox Media Group elevates seven program directors to format leaders for the company who will report to new director of radio programming Steve Smith. WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton OM/PD Nick Roberts (who also oversees news/talk programming in the Louisville cluster) is named the format leader for news/talk. CMG Group VP Ben Reed says of the move, “CMG has tapped into the amazing talent that exists within our radio businesses to help chart an even more competitive course that will provide the best music and news/talk formats for our valued listeners. Industry veteran Steve Smith, who joined CMG last month, will oversee this proven team and will provide a cohesive link between our local markets and our group vice president leadership team.”
Norm Pattiz’ Courtside Entertainment Group Teams with Westwood One for First Special Broadcast: Bill O’Reilly’s Presidential Town Hall. The three-hour special broadcast event in which Republican candidates for president in 2012 will answer questions from Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly is scheduled for November 7, airing live from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. Pattiz announced the formation of Courtside Entertainment and its relationship with Westwood One to distribute content at the beginning of the year. Now, the partners offer their first special program. Westwood One president Rod Sherwood states, “Bill O’Reilly knows the Republican political landscape inside and out, and his ‘Presidential Town Hall’ will bring his unrivalled wit and wisdom to radio listeners early in the campaign season.”
KMBZ-AM/FM, Kansas City Wins Kansas Association of Broadcasters Station of the Year. Entercom’s news/talk KMBZ-AM/FM is named the Large Market Station of the Year by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters for 2011. The station also wins seven other news and programming awards. Program director Neil Larrimore says this is a great honor for KMBZ. “This is truly the result of a TEAM effort across the board! Everyone at KMBZ works hard every day to make sure that the best news and talk radio product is put on the air, and these awards are testaments to their dedication to that mission! There is a reason Kansas City trusts NewsRadio 98.1 FM & 980 AM KMBZ.”
Salem Radio Network Announces 9/11 Anniversary Programming. SRN VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup says SRN will produce a 90-minute live special titled, “9/11: America 10 Years Later,” on Sunday, September 11 anchored by SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston. The program airs from 8:30 am to 10:00 am. SRN News Senate correspondent Linda Kenyon — who was at the Pentagon the day of the attack — and SRN News House correspondent Wally Hindes will join Greg on the program live from SRN’s Washington, DC studios. Salem also plans a weeklong series of reports leading up to the September 11 broadcast.
Ric Edelman Celebrates 3,000th Broadcast of TV Program. Independent financial advisor, author and broadcaster Ric Edelman announces his public television program “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman” just celebrated its 3,000th airing. The program, produced by 3 Roads Communications, has been picked up by more than 175 public TV stations. Edelman hosts an independently syndicated weekend radio program of the same name that is heard across the nation.
WHO, Des Moines PM Drive Host Simon Conway to Emcee Political Rallies. Iowa talk show host Simon Conway announces he’ll be emcee for the Presidential Candidate picnic taking place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Saturday, August 27. Attendees already confirmed include: Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congressman Ron Paul, Congressman Thad McCotter and former New York Governor George Pataki (who is rumored to be ready to announce his candidacy). Conway says he’ll also emcee the Sarah Palin “Restoring America” rally in nearby Indianola, Iowa on September 3 where some believe Palin will announce her candidacy.
Sports USA’s Joe Morgan Show Debuts. Baseball Hall-of-Famer and broadcaster Joe Morgan debuted his new one-hour daily radio show on Monday, August 22. For its first week on air, Morgan’s interview-intensive program featured conversations with baseball greats Morgan conducted at the recent Baseball Hall of Fame induction. Sports USA president Larry Kahn says of Morgan’s new show, “‘The Joe Morgan Show’ is unique content for sports fans to tune in to because Joe has conversations with athletes and allows us to listen to stories most people have never heard before. Listeners will have more insight as a fan because Joe can get closer to these athletes in a relaxed setting compared to regular members of the media doing interviews.”
Urban Talk Host Bev Smith Reportedly Ending Radio Show. According to the Redding News Review, American Urban Radio Network talk host Bev Smith’s show will end soon. The reports are not clear. Redding News Review reports one source saying Smith is battling breast cancer although there has been no official word from AURN on the status of Bev Smith’s program. The program is fed live from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm nightly.
2012 Presidential Race/Obama Vacation Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 22-26. The GOP candidates and the issues facing the nation as the 2012 presidential campaign season heats up – combined with chat about President Obama’s vacation – landed atop the Talkers Ten chart for the week of August 22-26. Coming in at #2 was the turmoil in Libya. At #3 was the violence in Syria and at #4 was the financial markets instability. The Talkers Ten is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America based on ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. To view this week’s entire chart, click the banner below.
Honoring a Pioneering Company. KDKA, Pittsburgh morning drive host Larry Richert (l) is seen here with KDKA promotions staffers Lisa Herald (to Richert’s right), Chelsea McCartney (far right), and Ed Reis (in top hat) portraying the celebrated entrepreneur and engineer George Westinghouse. KDKA broadcast from Westinghouse’s Cranberry, Pennsylvania campus to help celebrate its 125th year in business. Westinghouse Corporation put KDKA on the air on November 2, 1920 and the rest, as they say, is history!
TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup. The Wall Street Journal Radio Network clears “The Daily Wrap from The Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner” on WTKK-FM, Boston…..TRN’s “Watchdog on Wall Street” with Chris Markowski picks up KWKC, Abilene, Texas.