Tag: "Clear Channel Media & entertainment"
Clear Channel Releases Q1 Financials: CCM+E Up 2%. This morning Clear Channel released financial data for the first quarter of 2014 and the Clear Channel Media + Entertainment group – radio stations, Premiere Networks, Total Traffic + Weather, iHeartRadio and related live events – saw income rise 2% compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company says “Media + Entertainment revenue rose $14 million, or 2% compared to the same period of 2013, driven primarily by higher revenues at our traffic and weather business reflecting new product offerings and the impact of strategic sales initiatives, as well as higher national sales fueled by growth in the telecommunications, healthcare and automotive categories, and higher digital advertising revenue benefitting from an increase in total listening hours on our iHeartRadio platform. Partially offsetting these revenue gains was a decline in our local revenues. Operating expenses were up $26 million during the first quarter of 2014 versus the same period in 2013, due primarily to higher compensation expenses driven by investments in our national and digital sales forces, and increased production costs for events such as the iHeartRadio Country Music Festival, as well as greater digital streaming and performance rights expenses driven by increased total listening hours and revenues. OIBDAN decreased $13 million, or 6%, to $200 million in the first quarter of 2014.”
WPHT Personalities to Debate GOP Party, Conservative Movement Future. The WPHT, Philadelphia “Talk Radio 1210” air staff will be together on the same stage for the very first time today (Thursday, 4/24) at 5:00 pm to participate in “Super Talk Debate” at Victory Beer Hall’s XFinity Live in South Philadelphia. Personalities Dom Giordano, Dick Morris, Gary R’nel, Chris Stigall, and Rich Zeoli will discuss/debate subjects such as the future of social issues in American politics; foreign policy intervention; the GOP’s view on marijuana legalization; and how Republicans can win the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016. The format will be presidential debate style. Each participant will be at a podium, make opening and closing statements, and answer questions from the audience and moderator Larry Kane. Rick Grimaldi and Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli will host the post-debate show at 6:30 pm. By voting online, listeners will decide the winner. Voting will continue until next Monday (4/28) at 5:00 pm when Morris and R’Nel will announce the results.
Wilkes-Barre Radio Personality Bud Brown Retires from WILK. Longtime Wilkes-Barre radio pro Bud Brown calls it a career after signing off from Entercom’s news/talk WILK-AM/FM yesterday morning (4/23) after 40 years on the air. PAHomepage.com reports Brown is a native whose career began in New Jersey before he returned home to work at WBRE and then WILK. Brown tells the site, “I got along with all my coworkers. I respected them. I felt mutual respect returning and I think that more than anything else is what I treasure most about all the things about all the days on the air.”
Nielsen Reports Positive First Quarter; Revenue Up 12.9%. That figure is compared to the same period a year ago on revenue of $1.49 billion. Nielsen Holdings N.V. chief executive officer Mitch Barns says, “Nielsen delivered a solid first quarter. Our underlying business performance, which was marked by broad-based revenue growth and strong profitability, was enhanced by the ongoing successful integration of Arbitron. Our clear focus on the key business priorities of our diverse global client base continues to produce steady and consistent results while delivering long-term value for our shareholders.” The company reports that free cash flow for the first quarter of 2014 increased to $13 million from -$15 million in the first quarter of 2013 and cash flow from operations increased to $90 million in the first quarter of 2014 from $54 million in first quarter of 2013. The increases were driven by stronger operating performance and favorable interest payments.
Rover’s Legal Team to Call Howard Stern as Witness in Cleveland Case. When WMMS, Cleveland morning show host Shane “Rover” French appears in court on May 20 to defend himself against 13 charges – including attempted felonious assault, inducing panic and resisting arrest – his lawyer is calling Howard Stern as a witness, according to Fox 8 Cleveland. It’s not clear why Stern would be a relevant witness or if he’ll even appear. Co-host Michael Toomey, a.k.a. Chocolate Charlie, was arrested along with French during the incident that took place over the 2013 Fourth of July holiday weekend in which an off-duty police officer claims French and Toomey shot off illegal fireworks, refused requests to stop, assaulted him and more.
Media World A-Twitter Over FFC ‘Net Neutrality’ Plans. The chatter got so intense over reports about what today’s announcement by the FCC regarding its new open Internet rules will be that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler issued the following statement to counter speculation. “There are reports that the FCC is gutting the Open Internet rule. They are flat out wrong. Tomorrow we will circulate to the Commission a new Open Internet proposal that will restore the concepts of net neutrality consistent with the court’s ruling in January. There is no ‘turnaround in policy.’ The same rules will apply to all Internet content. As with the original Open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.” What got people so uptight? Numerous sources – including the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Fox News and others – say today’s announcement will propose that content companies be allowed to pay for faster delivery over the so-called “last mile” connection to people’s homes. The Associated Press writes, “The new rules are meant to replace the FCC’s open Internet order from 2010, which was struck down by a federal appeals court in January. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed that the FCC had the authority to create open-access rules but said it failed to establish that its 2010 regulations didn’t overreach. While the older rules technically allowed for paid priority treatment, it was discouraged. The new rules spell out standards that such deals would have to meet to be considered ‘commercially reasonable’ and are designed to survive a court challenge in the future. Under the proposed rules, if such a deal for priority access were challenged, the commission would look at its impact on competition, on consumers, on free speech and civic engagement, and whether a broadband provider was acting in good faith.”
The Next Generation(s). At the Cox Media Group Houston office, the sound of the pitter-patter of little feet could be heard as staffers brought their progeny to work for the annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.” Altogether, 18 young people (pictured here with some of the parents), ranging from 2 ½ to 13 years of age came to work on Thursday (4/24) to follow their parents on a typical day. Well, a mostly typical day, as activities were planned for every age group. The kids will learn to record a commercial, use their voices for station on-air promotions, participate in social media postings, and see inside the studio as the DJs broadcast live. The daylong activities will be mixed in with some fun as well, including a pizza party for lunch, a dance-off with the digital department, and if activities are too much, “Frozen” will be shown in the afternoon so everyone can take a break from it all. Cox Houston VP and market manager Mark Krieschen says, “This is our first year to implement the program in Houston. I can already feel the excitement in the air as the kids are making themselves right at home.”
Russian Aggression in Ukraine/Obama vs Putin, 2016 Presidential Race-Mid Term Elections, the FCC and Net Neutrality, President Obama’s Asia Visit, and U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/23). Russia’s involvement in the unrest in Ukraine and analysis of President Obama’s handling of Vladimir Putin; speculation about candidates in the 2016 presidential election and the looming mid-term elections this year; controversy over the FCC’s “open internet” policy to be announced today; President Obama’s visit to Asian nations excluding China; and the state of al Qaeda after U.S. drone strikes on terrorist targets in Yemen were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Michael Graham to Middays on WYAY, Atlanta. Talk radio pro Michael Graham is saying good-bye to Massachusetts and New England and heading south for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show at Cumulus Media’s WYAY, Atlanta “All News 106.7.” Graham has been hosting a program on the New England Talk Network and on the Boston Herald’s digital audio project since Greater Media flipped WTKK, Boston from talk to urban contemporary (as WBQT). Cumulus is getting away from the all-news on WYAY – it’s already added market pro Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson to the schedule in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm shift – though there’s no indication it has plans to change the drive time news programming anytime soon. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports the changes but Graham himself bids a fond adieu to New England and a not-so-fond adieu to the Massachusetts political scene which he blames for WTKK’s demise. He singles out Governor Deval Patrick and you can read that here.
Glenn Beck Talks About Film Projects to Hollywood Reporter. Talk radio star and media entrepreneur Glenn Beck tells the Hollywood Reporter that there’s a reason he bought a movie studio in Texas – The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving: He has plans for three film projects with many more hopefully to come. The facility, where such movies as “Robocop” and “JFK” were filmed, also serves as the base for his radio and digital operations under his TheBlaze banner but his Mercury Radio Arts film division has plans for the three films – one set in ancient history, one in modern history and a third “faith-based” project – that are underway. Read the Hollywood Reporter piece here. Meanwhile, Beck also appears irked that he’s pigeonholed as a political right-winger by the media, telling the magazine, “Everybody thinks they know who I am because of my stint on Fox – that was two years of my life. I’m much more into culture than I am into politics, and that’s where I intend on making my stand.”
Clear Channel Restructures Sales Efforts; Extent of RIF Unknown. The prospect that Clear Channel Media + Entertainment intended to change the structure of its sales force has been rumored for some time and now the plan has been put into effect. The exact nature of the realignment is not known but the company released the following statement: “As a policy, we don’t discuss personnel matters. However, for the last several months we have been flattening our senior management organization to reduce overlap. Now we are aligning our sales organizations to this new structure and to give more resources, authority, and accountability to the most productive members of our team so we can operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.”
Johnson to Replace Hanson at Broadway Media. A number of changes taking effect at Broadway Media in Utah to report. First, the company announces that its Salt Lake Radio Group market manager G. Craig Hanson is leaving the company after 37 years to enter the ownership end of the business in St. George, Utah. Taking over for him will be Stephen C. Johnson. He’ll serve as general manager and CEO of the Salt Lake Radio Group that includes: KXRK, KUDD, KUUU, KEGA, KYMV and KALL. Johnson spent the last 35 years with Simmons Media. Other moves include Broadway Media VP/administration Bret J. Leifson exiting to pursue other interests. Joining the companies is John G. Kimball who will serve as general manager and CEO of Real Media – the division that operates Broadway’s digital, technical, event and entertainment, and outdoor media assets. Kimball has worked in the market with Bonneville and Real Salt Lake.
Second Round of March PPM Data Released. PPM data from the second of four groups of 12 markets for the March 2014 period (February 27 – March 26) has been released by Nielsen Audio. Those markets include: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all the (subscriber) numbers here. Managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian offers his “Ten Takeaways” from the report at RadioInfo.com here.
FCC Issues FNPRM for 2014 Quadrennial Review; Ownership Regs Proposed to Remain, Cross-Ownership Open for Consideration. The Federal Communications Commission has released its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that initiates the 2014 Quadrennial Review and chief among the topics are the broadcast ownership rules. The Commission is proposing to keep the current radio broadcast ownership rules in place but it is open to discussion about relaxing the radio-newspaper cross-ownership ban as well as the radio-television cross-ownership rules. This has Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai furious in his dissent. He takes the Commission to task for, 1) failing to complete the 2010 Quadrennial Review and; 2) putting proposals such as the radio-newspaper cross-ownership ban question into the 2014 review. Here are his words: “Congress has instructed us to review the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule every four years and repeal or modify it if we determine that it is no longer in the public interest. And here is the simple truth: The Commission has not been able to conclude since 2000 that the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule remains in the public interest. And today, the Commission dodges the issue entirely, putting off the issue until 2016, sixteen years after our last determination! What’s the solution at this point? While writs of mandamus are not to be issued lightly, I believe that the D.C. Circuit would now be justified in ordering the Commission to remove the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule from our books. We have had plenty of opportunities to justify maintaining the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule, but instead we have chosen to punt — including today.” Pai’s sentiment that the FCC works too slowly, especially in an era when changes in technology are happening at an ever-faster pace while government seems to work slower than ever, is one echoed by many in the broadcasting industry. Consider the Commission’s conclusion regarding how digital media is affecting broadcast media. It’s important to understand that the quote from the FNPRM is relative to broadcasters’ (TV also) desires to relax ownership regulations. Whether you agree or not, it’s the Commission’s assessment of the current state of the audio entertainment landscape that indicates its willingness to only see one moment in time, without regard for the future. “Despite broadcasters’ claims to the contrary, we tentatively find that, for purposes of the Commission’s ownership rules, non-broadcast sources of audio programming are not yet meaningful substitutes for broadcast radio stations with respect to either listeners or advertisers. While alternate platforms such as satellite radio and Internet-delivered audio are growing in popularity, broadcast radio remains the dominant radio technology. In 2012, 92 percent of Americans age 12 or older listened to broadcast radio, a figure that has remained essentially constant over the last decade. Satellite radio still serves only a small portion of the population, even though its subscription rates continue to climb. And though recent data suggest that a significant portion of adult U.S. broadband households (42 percent) listen to Internet-delivered audio programming, we note that millions of U.S. households continue to lack broadband connections. In addition, only 14 percent of Internet radio listeners listen in their cars, where most broadcast radio listening occurs. Thus, we tentatively conclude that Internet-delivered audio programming is not yet a meaningful substitute for broadcast radio listening for most listeners. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion and invite commenters to provide any more recent relevant information and data. We believe, moreover, that satellite radio and content delivered via the Internet generally are national platforms that are not likely to respond to competitive conditions in local markets.” Even if you agree with these conclusions (which, obviously, many do not), will they still be true in 2015, 2016 (when the 2014 Quad is supposed to be delivered to Congress) or 2017?
BIA/Kelsey’s New Study Explores ‘Reinvention of Audio.’ The full name of the study from BIA/Kelsey is “The Internet Radio Revolution Has Arrived: Platforms, Services, Audiences and Advertisers Reinvent Audio,” and as the title implies, it works to make sense of the state of audio entertainment and its relationship with the advertising world as it exists today, plus where it’s going in the near future. The study authors note a five-step process that occurs when a major change affects the media: 1) Fundamental breakthroughs in enabling technologies occur, 2) Entrepreneurs and their investors experiment with getting the right value proposition into the market, 3) Consumers find the winning technologies and begin to use them, 4) Advertisers sensing a new opportunity for connecting with their consumers allocate “experimental budget,” and 5) Media companies and publishers take new platforms seriously. The report states, “It is only when we reach this last phase that we really get a sense of how fundamentally a technology will impact us in the long run.” It believes the audio business is entering this fifth phase. Read the entire study here.
iHeartRadio Gets into Subaru’s STARLINK. Japanese automaker Subaru was a little late to the party with a digital infotainment system but the new STARLINK is available on many of its 2014 cars and now Clear Channel Media + Entertainment announces its iHeartRadio will be included on the system. The STARLINK infotainment system is being demoed at the New York Auto Show beginning tomorrow (4/18). Subaru of America marketing strategy & launch manager David Sullivan, says, “We are thrilled to have iHeartRadio as our first content partner for the STARLINK cloud service application. The award-winning service brings a huge amount of programming and custom content to Subaru vehicles with a great, easy-to-use interface.”
ObamaCare Criticism, IRS-DOJ Tea Party Connection, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Sebelius Senate Run, Tax Day, and Bloomberg vs the NRA Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/16). Scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the allegation that the Lois Lerner led department of the IRS contacted the Department of Justice about prosecuting the Tea Party; escalating aggression by Putin’s Russian forces in Ukraine; speculation that former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will run for the U.S. Senate; chatter about the complex U.S. tax code and the number of taxpayers supporting benefit takers; and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plans to battle the National Rifle Association were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Michele Laven Promoted to Newly Created Corporate Post at Clear Channel. Rising from her EVP of strategic partnerships position to the new president of partnerships and local activation post is Michele Laven. She’ll report to Tim Castelli, president of national sales, marketing and partnerships at Clear Channel Media + Entertainment. Her role is described as creating “strategic alliances and marketing programs with key distribution and content partners, while expanding the capacity of Clear Channel’s local market sales organizations to develop multi-market revenue opportunities.” CEO Bob Pittman states, “Clear Channel is built on our strong relationships with listeners, advertisers and partners — both on the local and national level. We have the unparalleled ability to connect artists with their fans and brands with their consumers, and in her new role Michele is going to use her expertise to help national partners build an even closer relationship with their consumers at the local level.” Prior to joining CC eight years ago, Laven served as president and chief operating officer of New Times Media.
Entercom Elevates DiNardo to SF VP/Market Manager. Vice president of sales Steve DiNardo is boosted to vice president and market manager of Entercom‘s San Francisco-San Jose cluster. Entercom station group president Weezie Kramer comments that, “After a nationwide search, the best choice was right in front of us. I am proud to promote from within as Steve and the entire San Francisco team achieved market-leading results in Q4. They have set a blistering pace for 2014. Under Steve’s leadership, I know Entercom will continue to be one of the media leaders in the market.” The company’s Bay Area group consists of adult contemporary KOIT-FM “Lite Rock – Less Talk,” classic rock KUFX & KUZX “K-Fox,” sports talk KGMZ “The Game,” and urban AC KBLX “Yesterday and Today’s R&B.” DiNardo remarks, “Our heritage brands and innovative staff make this opportunity a dream come true. Entercom’s entrepreneurial spirit and corporate resources give us everything we need to grow our audience engagement as well as the revenues that follow.” In advance of joining the Entercom stations in 2012, DiNardo spent 15 years as a CBS Radio vice president/general manager.
Casey Named Operations Manager of Townsquare Hudson Valley. Former Clear Channel, Indianapolis director of operations Buzz Casey is tapped to become operations manager for Townsquare Media Group‘s 10 stations in the Hudson Valley and Poughkeepsie, New York. Townsquare Media senior vice president of programming Kurt Johnson remarks, “Buzz has a track record of success and he brings a strong set of skills to lead Townsquare Hudson Valley to a new level on-air, online and on site.” In addition to his OM duties, Casey will be day-to-day program director of Poughkeepsie rock outlet WPDH. “The culture and creativity of Townsquare Media Group are top-notch,” Casey comments. “The Hudson Valley brands are poised for success.” Hudson Valley is Nielsen Audio‘s 39th-highest market. Casey’s past programming and operations management resume includes Atlanta’s WKLS “96 Rock” and alternative WBZY; Phoenix rocker KDKB; classic rock WFBQ “Q-95,” Indianapolis; and WNRQ, Nashville.
Mancow’s GCN Deal Official. It was reported last week that Erich “Mancow” Muller was signing with Genesis Communications Network to syndicate his morning radio program after formally cutting ties with TFN-FM the week prior. Now it’s official as GCN announces the show will be distributed live from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET in addition be being available on demand 24 hours per day via Mancow.com and GCNLive.com. Mancow comments, “I’m happy to be in league with GCN as we move the show forward to bigger and better things. We’re excited to work with GCN – a team that is dedicated to providing the most cutting-edge radio in the industry and prides itself in making life for our affiliates and advertisers as easy as it can possibly be in this era of new media.” Mancow’s program is simulcast on TV in Chicago on FoxTV-owned WPWR-TV “My50.”
Medical Marijuana Info Ad on Boston Stations Raises Questions About ‘Pot Ads.’ The issue in Massachusetts as reported by the Boston Herald yesterday is different than the issues stations in Colorado and Washington are facing. The Massachusetts case is about medical marijuana, not legal pot for recreational use as is now allowed in Colorado and Washington. Stations in those states have so far avoided ads for legal pot because of the conflict between federal and state laws on the matter – no one is willing to become the (expensive) legal test case. But the Massachusetts ads that aired on Greater Media’s alternative WBOS and rhythmic AC WBQT in Boston were bought not by a dispensary but by the New England Grass Roots Institute which doesn’t sell marijuana; it provides information about medical marijuana. Institute founder Mike Fitzgerald tells the Herald the rules don’t apply to him. “We’re the first cannabis institute. We’re really focused on people who have never seen cannabis before. Since the American Medical Association isn’t teaching anything, we thought we need to step in.” But the Herald story also quotes a dispensary consultant who says the laws state dispensaries are not supposed to “generate demand.” Since Fitzgerald’s institute is not a dispensary, that could muddy the waters. Regardless, it’s going to be just a matter of time before advertising this new industry becomes relevant to radio. There’s just too much money to be made. Read the Herald story here.
Sandra Fluke Shows Intent to Run for Henry Waxman’s Congressional Seat. Activist Sandra Fluke has filed papers with the state of California signaling her intent to run for the 33rd Congressional District seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Henry Waxman. Fluke’s national profile skyrocketed after Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” as part of a critique of the provision that Catholic organizations be forced to provide birth control to students and employees under the Affordable Care Act. Fluke still has to file with the federal government to be a legitimate candidate. So far, two other Democrats have filed to seek the party’s nomination.
Cumulus Flips WISW, Columbia to Sports Talk. The new sports talk outlet in the Columbia, South Carolina market is airing the NBC Sports Radio Network lineup after Cumulus Media flipped the station from news/talk. With the change, there are now four major sports talk signals in the market including Clear Channel’s WXBT, L&L Broadcasting’s WOIC, and Cumulus’ other sports talker WNKT “107.5 The Game,” a CBS Sports Radio Network affiliate. Two news/talk stations serve the market including Clear Channel’s WVOC-FM and Glory Communications’ WQXL (and its two FM translators).
WestwoodOne Reports Motel 6 Spot Most Creative Super Bowl Audio Ad. The results of WestwoodOne’s first-ever consumer-driven index of the most creative audio spots run during its broadcast of the Super Bowl are in and this year’s winner was Motel 6. According to WestwoodOne, the Motel 6 spot won top honors in both the Listener Choice and Media Choice categories in the Super Bowl Audio Index. The other top vote-getters were Tilted Kilt, Subway, Exergen and Taco Bell. During the two weeks leading up to the game, listeners were encouraged to vote for their favorite Super Bowl commercial across many of WestwoodOne properties via an array of online and on-air promotions. Listeners were directed to www.westwoodone.com/vote, where each of the commercials was available for consumer voting from Thursday, January 30 through 12 midnight ET on February 2, 2014. The index was comprised of all commercials aired on the 700-plus radio stations which broadcast WestwoodOne’s exclusive, national play-by-play coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Simulcast Begins! The sports talk simulcast of WEPN-FM, New York’s Michael Kay show on the YES Network began yesterday (2/3). The afternoon drive host (along with co-host Don La Greca) for ESPN’s New York City O&O took over the afternoon slot on the regional cable channel owned by the New York Yankees. For years, the slot was occupied by crosstown rival Mike Francesa simulcasting on CBS RADIO’s WFAN, New York. Pictured here on day one of their new operation is the crew (from left to right): production director Mike Brownsher, senior producer Andrew Gundling, La Greca, Kay, executive producer Ryan T. Hurley, and associate producer Ray Deenihan.
Chuck Harder Plans Return to Talk Media with New Project. Veteran talk radio program host, entrepreneur and modern-era talk syndication pioneer Chuck Harder of “For the People” fame tells TALKERS he is starting up a new project that will produce and distribute talk radio on a TV network. In development for five years, Harder has assembled what he describes as “a million dollar facility” with FCC licensed Ku Band Video Satellite uplink that he plans to startup in 90 to 120 days on TELSTAR 14-R, a new satellite received on three-foot dishes. Harder is looking for both talk show hosts and investors. Interested parties can first visit www.talkradiotv.net for details and then send him a letter of interest to P.O. Box A, White Springs, FL 32096. Harder states, “We will furnish all needed video and audio equipment for your studio and are planning on live two-way talk 24/7. All letters of interest will be answered. No calls please. We will appear on unfilled new local TV channels using standard NTSC MPEG-2 with CD quality audio and provide extra income for local TV affiliates. Our horizon to horizon C and Ku band all-sat teleport operations center sits across the street from a fiber-optic digital switch that provides us high speed internet video globally and 10 incoming talk lines. TELSTAR 14-R coverage map and fiber optics map is on the website.” Harder says he will not do a show due to the necessities of daily sales and management of operations.
Super Bowl XLVIII, Financial Markets Activity, Philip Seymour Hoffman Death, ObamaCare Criticism, Immigration Legislation and Woody Allen Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/3). The aftermath of the Seattle Seahawks’ victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday; the downward-trending Dow and the activity in world financial markets; the heroin-related death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman; scrutiny of the rollout of and possible future effects of the Affordable Care Act; the looming immigration legislation with amnesty provisions; and the renewed allegations of sexual assault against filmmaker Woody Allen were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Terrible News: Clear Channel Managers Slashing Another 5%. Numerous reliable sources throughout the radio industry are saying Clear Channel Media + Entertainment market managers are under the gun to find another 5% of their budgets they can trim to come into compliance with the corporate dictate. What was rumored just a week or so ago appears to be true and as positions at CC-owned stations are eliminated over the coming weeks and months we’ll see what departments are going to feel it the most. Regular readers of TALKERS are aware of the on-air positions that have been cut and industry watchers say some of the most obvious solutions in the programming departments at stations are: double-duty for talk hosts (two shows per day), voice tracking multiple dayparts for jocks, and the importation of national shows such as Bobby Bones for country outlets and Elvis Duran for CHR stations, which greatly reduces the money spent on morning shows.
Bubba the (Country) Love Sponge? No name change is impending but Florida-based hot talk star Bubba the Love Sponge is reporting success as morning show host at Asterisk Communication’s country duo WTRS-FM, Dunnellon and WYGC, High Springs “My Country” in the Ocala and Gainesville markets, respectively. Bubba reports he’s thankful to station management for taking a chance on his show on a country outlet. His Bubba Radio Network reports “WTRS-FM moved from 12th to 4th place with Men age 25-54, an all-time high for the station. Bubba was very excited and thankful that women have taken to his program so well. ‘You ladies get what’s hot and new and we love you for that.’ The Bubba the Love Sponge syndicated morning show also proudly reports it currently ranks top three Men 25-54 and top five Persons 25-54 in all markets it currently airs. Bubba expresses interest in working with additional program directors to bring his program to country and urban format stations.”
SCBA Reports 6.3% Revenue Surge in December. The latest figures from Miller Kaplan Arase are giving the Southern California Broadcasters Association reason to cheer and the organization announces the Los Angeles radio market “enjoyed a robust 6.3% growth rate for the month of December 2013.” SCBA president Thom Callahan states, “December was a great month for our region as we were finally out from under the political comps from 2012 and the market flexed its true revenue muscles as only Southern California Radio can. All key revenue segments posted impressive gains: local and national spot combined was up 3.6%; digital posted an impressive 20.7% gain; and NTR/network was up 19.6%.” For the 12 months ending December 2013, total market revenue growth was 1%, according to Miller Kaplan Arase. Callahan says he’s more optimistic about the region than the 1% hike indicates. “In our view, our real growth rate for 2013 was 4.4%, when factoring out 2012’s huge political revenue of $20.5 million. It’s more than fair to deduct those comps, which are never a true indicator of market growth or the health of our business. Political revenue on a YTD basis is not an apples to apples comparison. As any station will tell you, it’s impossible to replace $20.5 million in 12 months, yet these incomplete YTD revenue comparisons continue. These lopsided revenue reports help feed the misguided narrative that radio is a legacy medium, and nothing, I repeat nothing, is further from the truth.”
New York Market Boasts 6% Revenue Hike in 2013; 5% in December. On the Right Coast, the New York Market Radio Association reports that not only was its December up – 5.3% for all revenue – the year was way up over 2012 notching a 6% increase in total revenue. The NYMRAD says for the month of December 2013, total revenues, including total spot, digital, and network/NTR/other, were up 5.3%. For the 12 months ending December 2013, market growth was up across all sectors: +5.6% for local spot, +5.1% for national spot, +5.5% for total spot and +6.0% for grand total market revenue. NYMRAD executive director Debbie Beagan comments, “New York radio is healthy, vibrant, and strong. Advertisers and their agencies are investing in our medium and utilizing radio’s audio, online, mobile, and social platforms to reach engaged and loyal listeners. The robust revenue results for the 2013 and December position the market well as we head into 2014.”
Sabo: HD Radio Is Going to Explode. In a new opinion column posted today (1/16) in TALKERS, noted consultant Walter Sabo makes eight predictions pertaining to the radio industry for 2014. They include his prognostication that it will be a good year for HD based on iBiquity’s claim of 16 million automobile installs, stating “HD is radio’s best real estate grab for the connected dash.” He also comments on the immediate future of websites and social media as well as the difference between corporate debt and personal debt. To read Sabo’s entire piece, please click here.
Creative Advisory Council Scholarship Winner Announced. The Berlin School of Creative Leadership and Clear Channel Media + Entertainment are announcing Sam Bergen, SVP and creative director of Deutsch Inc., is the winner of the Berlin School’s “Clear Channel Scholarship for Leadership in Audio Innovation” program. Bergen will receive a full-tuition scholarship (worth 53,000 Euro) to attend the Berlin School’s prestigious Global Executive MBA in Creative Leadership Program starting in March of this year. The Berlin School and Clear Channel’s recently formed Creative Advisory Council (CAC), featuring advertising thought leaders who focus on the development of innovative approaches to the audio and out-of-home media landscape, reviewed over 40 entrants from more than 20 countries around the world, based on their professional and academic profile, as well as their response to a special essay question about innovative audio strategies. Berlin School of Creative Leadership founding president Michael Conrad states, “We are pleased to welcome Sam Bergen into our Executive MBA program. Focused on leading radio and audio commerce to the forefront of media thinking, the Berlin School-Clear Channel scholarship drew an amazing amount of high-quality applications from around the world. We were extremely impressed by the caliber of applications as well as the many compliments applicants had of our young school. We thank Clear Channel for this exciting and collaborative opportunity.” CC’s Bob Pittman adds, “Driving education and awareness on the value audio advertising offers is a key initiative for us. We are proud to work with the Berlin School and our new Creative Council to award this scholarship to the audio industry’s next creative innovator. Sam Bergen distinguished himself among a very elite group of applicants and I am confident that with his continued development at the Berlin School, Sam will be a trailblazer on the media landscape for both audio and out-of-home.”
Digital Pure Play Radioio Takes RDIO Stock Ticker in Post-Merger Organization. The digital music service Radioio – operated by Radioio Inc. – is being traded under the new stock ticker RDIO on the OTC market. The merger resulted in the company’s name being changed from ioWorldMedia, Incorporated to Radioio, Inc. In a statement, the company’s board of directors says it believes that the name change is consistent with the direction of the company. President and CEO Zach McAdoo says, “Radioio is a marquee name and brand of great distinction.” He added that RDIO is a fitting ticker symbol for the company’s new name.
Deadline for Newhouse School’s ’14 Mirror Awards is February 14. The Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University’s ’14 Mirror Awards is accepting entries through February 14. The Mirror Awards competition for “media covering media” – established in 2006 by the Newhouse School – “honor the reporters, editors and teams of writers who ‘hold a mirror to their own industry’ for the public’s benefit. They are the most important awards for recognizing excellence in media industry reporting.” The competition is open to anyone who conducts reporting, commentary or criticism of the media industries in a format intended for a mass audience. Eligible work includes print, broadcast and online editorial content focusing on the development or distribution of news and entertainment. All entries must have been published or broadcast between January 1 and December 31, 2013. Entries are evaluated based on three criteria: Excellence of craft; framing of the issue; and appropriateness for the intended audience. Winners are chosen by a group of journalists and journalism educators. An awards ceremony will be held in June 2014 in New York City. For more information, click here.
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo to Host History of New York NFL Championship Games Special. For those who are critical of the NFL’s decision to locate the Super Bowl in chilly New York (okay, New Jersey) this year, some may not be aware that this will not be the first championship that ever took place in the New York area. SiriusXM’s Chris “Mad Dog” Russo will host “Deep Freeze: A History of NFL Championship Games in New York,” a special broadcast to air first on Tuesday, January 21 with encore airings to follow. Special guests on the program will include NFL greats Frank Gifford, Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer, Raymond Berry, plus more. The three-hour special will focus in-depth on four of the most memorable championships in NFL history – played in 1934, 1956, 1958 and 1962.
Obama Executive Order Threat, Chris Christie Scandal, ObamaCare Criticism, GOP IRS Investigation Push, New Mexico School Shooting/Indiana Grocery Slayings, and ‘Duck Dynasty’ Returns Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/15). The statement from President Obama about using executive orders to accomplish his administration’s goals; the aftermath of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s lane closure scandal; criticism of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; the effort by GOP members of Congress to investigate the process by which the IRS is being scrutinized for allegedly targeting conservative organizations; the school shooting in New Mexico and the double murder at a grocery store in Indiana; and the debut of the new season of “Duck Dynasty” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
John Hogan’s Exit from Clear Channel Cushioned with Cash. Although the official line from former Clear Channel Media + Entertainment chairman and CEO John Hogan and the company is that he wanted to “spend more time with his family” and the time was right, a fair number of jaded industry watchers will never believe he wasn’t forced out – especially just seven months after he was moved to the company’s New York City offices to work more closely with CC Media Holdings chairman and CEO Bob Pittman. The company’s 8-K filing details what Hogan is walking away with after his time leading the division. Here’s what he can count on: $900,000, representing the amount previously earned by Hogan pursuant to a supplemental incentive plan with respect to 2012 performance; an annual bonus of $77,250 for performance during 2013; and a prorated annual bonus with respect to the days he was employed during 2014. Pursuant to the Separation Agreement and in consideration of the extension by Mr. Hogan of certain restrictive covenants applicable to him, the vesting of 93,076 restricted shares of Class A Common Stock of CCMH granted to Mr. Hogan on October 22, 2012 will be accelerated and CCMH will repurchase 83,938 of such shares (the aggregate repurchase amount of such repurchased shares, the “Repurchase Amount”), provided Mr. Hogan does not revoke the Separation Agreement. Additionally, in exchange for the Separation Agreement, Mr. Hogan’s release of claims and the extension of certain restrictive covenants applicable to him, and provided that Mr. Hogan does not revoke the Separation Agreement, CCB agreed to pay Mr. Hogan: $333,000, representing the remaining amount earned by Mr. Hogan pursuant to a supplemental incentive plan with respect to 2011 performance; an “equity value preservation payment” equal to $1,027,355, paid in a lump sum payment; a lump sum severance payment equal to (x) $1,538,000 minus (y) the Repurchase Amount; a severance payment equal to $3,297,000, paid over 36 months; and a payment of $1,000,000, paid over 12 months, beginning on the first anniversary of the date of separation. Hogan is also entitled to receive continued healthcare coverage for 36 months, continued secretarial services for 6 months, $20,000 in outplacement services, and a housing allowance of $25,000 per month for up to 9 months, which amount is grossed up for certain applicable taxes; provided, that the housing allowance payments will stop if Mr. Hogan ceases to have obligations under the terms of his current lease agreement. CCB also will pay up to $25,000 for Mr. Hogan’s reasonable legal fees incurred in connection with the negotiation of the Separation Agreement.
Sean Hannity to Air on Salem’s WDTK, Detroit. The Motor City destination for Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity show is Salem Communications-owned WDTK. The program will air live in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot. It previously was heard on crosstown news/talk WJR since its 2001 national debut. WDTK general manager Chris MacCourtney states, “The opportunity to bring Sean Hannity aboard was one we felt we could not pass up. Sean was an instant hit when he came to Detroit and he continues to be one of the most popular talk personalities in the market. He will join an already solid lineup of talk talent on ‘News/Talk 1400.’” Since the first of the year, Hannity’s program had been added to Salem outlets WIND, Chicago; WWRC, Washington; and KSKY, Dallas.
Double Shot of WGN, Chicago News. Two items from Tribune’s WGN, Chicago: First, as Chicago media writer Robert Feder reported over the weekend, assistant program director Alex Quigley has been upped to operations manager at news/talk WGN, Chicago. Quigley worked in the market at former Emmis alternative rock WKQX as interactive program manager. When he first came to WGN he hosted the weekend show “ChicagoNow Radio” and “Chicago Preps Plus.” WGN vice president of creative content Todd Manley said in a memo to staffers, “This is a recognition of Alex’s role in our expanding future…He’ll be mentoring producers and searching for new talent that builds our farm system, coordinating special programming, scheduling, digging deep on ratings analysis, and dreaming big dreams.” Second, longtime television news personality Walter Jacobson brings his “Perspective” commentaries to the station beginning this Thursday. Robert Feder reports that the longtime WBBM-TV anchor who exited the station last February will present his 90-second feature on Thursdays during Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano’s midday show and they will be repeated on the weekend during “The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson” program. Jacobson will also appear as a contributor to various shows on WGN. Jacobson tells Feder, “Having been listening to WGN Radio since the day I became a reporter, and believing it’s the best in the business, I’m thrilled to be joining the team. For me, it’s a perfect fit at a perfect time. The station’s coming back, and 2014 is going to be an intriguing and exciting year in Chicago’s wild and woolly politics.”
Salem Communications Buys Eagle Publishing for $8.5 Million. It had been reported recently that this deal was on the way and now it’s official as Salem Communications enters into a deal to purchase the assets of Eagle Publishing that includes conservative book publisher Regnery Publishing, and digital properties RedState.com and HumanEvents.com. In a statement, Salem CEO Edward Atsinger III says, “Eagle is one of the most influential companies in the conservative media space. Its addition to Salem brings together a unique portfolio of conservative media properties and fits with our strategy of integrating traditional media and new media assets all serving the same target audience. The opportunity we like most about this acquisition is that each of Eagle’s businesses matches up so well with Salem’s extensive media platform. With 102 radio stations and a dozen major national websites all targeting the conservative community, this provides a perfect marketing platform to promote Eagle’s products to a wider audience.” The purchase price is $8.5 million and current Eagle CEO Jeff Carneal will exit the organization as a result of the acquisition.
‘A-List’ Talent Jon Bon Jovi and John Fogerty Added to Howard Stern Birthday Broadcast. The January 31 birthday bash broadcast for SiriusXM’s Howard Stern just added two more “A-list” talents as Jon Bon Jovi and John Fogerty will join Steven Tyler, David Letterman and Louis C.K. for the show to be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel live from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. On his program, Stern announced, “We have told you on the music side of things that we have Steven Tyler coming by to do a little number in honor of my birthday, I’m so honored…[today] I am excited [to announce that]…Jon Bon Jovi is going to perform…I am very excited to see Jon and thank him for that. And also one of my heroes will perform that night—one of the greats, the all-time greats. A guy whose every record I bought when he was in Creedence Clearwater Revival, and later his solo stuff, John Fogerty will come by to perform two great songs – I won’t say what the songs are, [but] we’re really excited about that…the list just begins there, Robin, it just begins there [there is] a huge amount of musicians coming by to help us out…it’s great.”
Sports Talk Host Jeff Dubay Exits KSTP, Minneapolis in Budget Move. Twin Cities sports talk personality Jeff Dubay, who fought a public battle against drug addiction to return to the airwaves in the market on Hubbard Radio’s KSTP, has left the station in what he says is a budget-related move. The Star-Tribune reports Dubay – who worked at Clear Channel’s “KFAN” sports talk brand for 10 years before a crack cocaine addiction sidelined him – sent social media messages indicating that he was let go from the late morning show he co-hosted with Judd Zulgad because of financial reasons. The station posted a message on its Facebook page confirming the matter was financial and not performance related. The paper reports KSTP waived Dubay’s non-compete and he is free to work in the market if the opportunity arises.
Shannon Staying With the Redbirds. St. Louis Cardinals fans will continue to hear Mike Shannon as the voice of the National League team that appeared in the 2013 World Series, as the former MLB player signs a two-year contract extension. This will be Shannon’s 42nd year as a Cardinals broadcaster and 56th year with the team. According to club president Bill DeWitt, “Mike’s voice has become the soundtrack to St. Louis baseball. We look forward to having him back in the booth this season and for years to come.” It is anticipated that Shannon will call all Cardinals’ home games this year for St. Louis flagship KMOX and roughly 30 road games for the CBS Radio-owned talk station. Fox Sports Midwest‘s Rick Horton and former lefty relief pitcher Al Hrabosky will do the remaining road games. Shannon will continue his work throughout the year on KMOX pre-game, post-game, and morning drive call-in segments.
Great Read! TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison is pictured intensely absorbing the new book authored by independently syndicated talk show host Jim Blasingame titled The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance (2014 SBN Books). Blasingame is the longtime host of the very successful program “The Small Business Advocate Show” which is targeted to helping independent entrepreneurs and business owners cope with the day-to-day issues that face people running their own companies during this era of rapidly accelerating change. This book, Blasingame’s third, is “his best work yet,” according to Harrison and “must-reading for anyone out there on the perilous high seas of today’s turbulent marketplace…especially those who are doing it independently without the backing of the Wall Street/banking/big-time money machine.” Harrison goes on to say, “This includes those brave and hardy ‘Davids’ owning and operating independent radio stations and small groups, syndication companies and internet communications startups bucking the death grip of today’s mega-corporate ‘Goliaths.’” The premise of the book is that small business owners are operating at a time that is so momentous it has never happened before. Blasingame, a veteran of TALKERS magazine’s Heavy Hundred, identifies it as an epochal marketplace shift that’s causing the 10,000 year old Age of the Seller to be replaced by the Age of the Customer. With an introduction by Steve Forbes, Blasingame’s book reveals how these two ages are existing concurrently in parallel universes, and how much time business-people have left to join the emerging universe. He says relevance is replacing competitiveness and explains how to recognize when you arrive at the “moment of relevance,” how to connect with “new-influencers” who co-own your brand message; why you must be a good storyteller; the good, the bad and the ugly of social media; and he identifies the “killer app” that wasn’t a part of your past but will dominate your future. Broadcasters interested in learning more about this book and perhaps scheduling Jim Blasingame as a guest can visit AgeoftheConsumer.com or email email@example.com.
WHYY, Philadelphia-Led Local Journalism Center Awarded CPB Grant. The recipient organization of a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant for $1.5 million is the new multimedia local journalism center (LJC), Keystone Crossroads — a collaboration of Pennsylvania public media stations. The new Keystone Crossroads is led by WHYY, Philadelphia. Pittsburgh’s WQED and WESA FM, Central Pennsylvania’s WPSU and Harrisburg’s WITF will be partner stations. The LJC will focus on the challenges the cities are facing, including a shrinking tax base and crumbling infrastructure, and enormous budget deficits. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting states, “By combining smart storytelling with energetic civic engagement, Keystone Crossroads will help Pennsylvanians see the challenges of their cities more clearly, understand how they are related, and create a forum for potential solutions at both the local and state levels.” CPB president Pat Harrison adds, “Local Journalism Centers are really centers of collaboration comprising public media stations working together to report on local stories with significant impact. This kind of focused collaboration ensures in depth reporting on issues of importance and concern to Pennsylvanians and of interest to all Americans.” In addition to Keystone Crossroads, CPB funds six other LJCs across the country, including: EarthFix based in the Northwest; Fronteras in the Southwest; Harvest in the Midwest; Innovation Trail in upstate New York, the Southern Education Desk in the South, and most recently the Energy LJC in the Rocky Mountains.
Chris Christie Scandal, Hillary Clinton in 2016, New Congressional Spending Deal, ObamaCare Enrollment Status, A-Rod Suspension/Legal Challenge, and Golden Globe Awards Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/13). The ongoing analysis of the Chris Christie lane closure scandal and apology press conference; speculation about Hillary Clinton’s plans to run for president in 2016; the new $1 trillion spending plan approved by Congress; enrollment in healthcare plans via the Affordable Care Act; Alex Rodriguez 162-game suspension and his plans to challenge the arbitration ruling; and the aftermath of Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Releases Results of ‘Audio Space’ Study; Growth in New Platforms Means Audio Consumption Is ‘Additive.’ The study was a combined effort with MediaVest and Clear Channel Media + Entertainment and surveyed “thousands of audio listeners who use one or more of the following audio sources personal music collections (CDs, iTunes downloads), broadcast radio, streaming AM/FM radio, custom online playlists, satellite radio, online music videos and digital music channels on TV shows.” Among the results of the study is the conclusion that “because of the use of alternate audio devices, time spent across audio platforms continues to increase and growth in audio is predominantly additive.” The goal of the study was to determine when, why and how consumers choose different audio platforms and some of the conclusions reached are: afternoon drive (3:00 pm to 7:00 pm) generally sees the highest usage; the car remains the most popular location for audio listening throughout the day; 63% of teens listen to more than two audio platforms a day – the highest of any demographic; broadcast radio is the most popular audio platform; listeners choose broadcast radio to stay connected to “the world,” top drivers for radio usage are its accessibility, timely news, traffic, weather, engagement with radio personalities and discovering new music; personal music collections (CDs, iTunes downloads, etc.) are about control with 81% choosing the platform to control or customize their listening experience. Custom playlists are also about control and follow with 67% choosing the platform for this reason; 41% of consumers are willing to listen to ads in exchange for free online audio. Ads related to the music consumers like and optimized for the time of day are most powerful. MediaVest EVP and research director David Shiffman states, “In the audio space, most measurement focuses on a single audio platform, rather than a complete view of the landscape. Our goal in working with Clear Channel – with its extensive experience in both live and digital radio – was to generate a real-time and accurate view of the audio space, which we believe is going through an evolution similar to television. Marketers have embraced the concept of multi-screen consumer behavior, but audio media also provides a tremendous opportunity for them to connect with their target audience throughout their day.”
2014 CES: Innovate or… Reporting for TALKERS from the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas is media consultant Holland Cooke who writes that one of the hottest topics during CEA CEO Gary Shapiro’s interview with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was spectrum auction; that all of the five FCC commissioners where there and he was able to ask a question or two about AM revitalization of Ajit Pai; about some very revealing stats that show why smart broadcasters are taking advantage of posting video to YouTube (and why you should, too); and even more about the ‘connected car’ that is the focus of so much of the audio and information sector at the show. Read Holland Cooke’s report here.
Saga Portland President Pahigian Prepares To Exit. Fifteen-year Portland Radio Group president Cary Pahigian broke the news to his staff yesterday (1/8) he will soon be leaving the Maine operation. According to Pahigian, he told Saga vice president Warren Lada about a year ago that he was evaluating his next professional challenge. “I was certainly happy and fortunate to be working with the finest group of people I have ever met,” Pahigian wrote in a staff memo. “Still, the impending 15-year mark was activating an area in my brain that had been quiet for years. Warren asked me to forge ahead and see how I felt at the end of 2013. The only way to properly examine what I wanted to do and aggressively pursue that opportunity, was to focus on it 100%. It would be impossible to conduct that process and still remain at my best with the demands of this job.” Pahigian continues his duties at the operation until his successor is hired. Prior to his 15-year Portland, Maine tenure as president of the eight-station cluster, Pahigian was a 26-year-old station manager at heritage Boston outlet WBZ-AM; corporate vice president of operations for Sconnix Broadcasting; and he programmed Philadelphia’s WIP.
WABC, New York to Air Bob Grant Special. The longtime home to late talk radio pioneer Bob Grant will air a special broadcast in his honor this weekend. Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York – where Grant worked daily from 1984-1996 and again weekly from 2009-2013 – is airing the special program that “will feature notable moments from the talk show host as well as comments from broadcasters inspired by Mr. Grant. Also, included in the special are thoughts and comments from members of Mr. Grant’s immediate family.” WABC program director Craig Schwalb said, “WABC is proud to produce this special to honor the late Bob Grant, a true legend in our industry. We hope our listeners will enjoy this opportunity to remember his contribution to WABC and to the city of New York.” The show will air Saturday 1/11 at 5:00 pm and Sunday 1/12 at 4:00 pm. Grant died on December 31, 2013 after an illness at age 84.
WEEI.com Keeps Its Team Intact. All contributing writers and columnists of Boston’s WEEI.com have signed new contracts for this calendar year. Alex Speier, Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean, Christopher Price, and Jerry Spar will continue blogging, opining, and reporting breaking sports news for the site, as well as appearing regularly on Entercom-owned Boston sports outlet WEEI-FM. They join Kirk Minihane and Celtics beat writer Ben Rohrbach. Last week, “Dennis & Callahan” morning show co-host Minihane signed a long-term deal as the site’s opinion editor. “It is a privilege to work alongside such a talented and dedicated group of sports journalists,” comments site editor Rob Bradford. “There isn’t another sports radio station in the country with WEEI’s commitment to enterprise journalism. Boston sports fans have come to expect us to be first with breaking news and commentary wherever they engage with our brand.” WEEI brand manager Kevin Graham remarks, “[These guys] live and breathe Boston sports and they are respected throughout the Boston sports landscape for their journalistic integrity. In this sports-crazed market that boasts some of the most esteemed writers in the business, they stand among the best-in-breed.” WEEI.com recently won the 2013 RAIN Internet Radio award for “Best Streaming Radio Station in America.”
WTOP, Washington Touts Page View Growth. Hubbard Radio all-news WTOP, Washington, DC reports that it realized “a 30% overall increase in page views to WTOP.com, averaging more than 22 million page views and reaching more than 1.8 million unique users per month.” The organization adds that “a number of major news stories in the nation’s capital contributed to this growth, including sequestration, the government shutdown, and the Navy Yard shooting. WTOP.com also strengthened its commitment to unique local content with the launch of two new verticals – Living and Technology – and the introduction of the live blog for breaking news…WTOP’s growth can also be attributed to its strategic use of social media. Traffic to WTOP.com from Facebook and Twitter grew by 150% in 2013, making WTOP one of the top five social media players in the DC market.” WTOP director of digital media John Meyer says, “While news judgment will always be the primary factor in story selection, we have editorial meetings throughout the day, using a variety of statistical tools to determine how our homepage is performing. Armed with the most recent data on what people are searching, clicking, and sharing, we can adjust accordingly.”
Mark DePrez Named VP/GM at Farm Journal Media. Former longtime WOWO, Fort Wayne general manager and Federated Media COO Mark DePrez joins Farm Journal Media as VP/GM of the company’s radio business. In this position DePrez will oversee such shows as “AgriTalk with Mike Adams” and “American Countryside with Andrew McCrea.” The company also reports that a new commodity markets-focused show hosted by Chip Flory is being prepared to launch in the early spring. Farm Journal Broadcast SVP Brian Conrady says, “We are thrilled to have Mark join our team. Radio has quickly become an important part of Farm Journal’s integrated go-to-market media strategy, and Mark has the experience, the talent and the tenacity to further spur this growth.” DePrez comments, “It’s fascinating to see the role radio plays as part of an integrated marketing solution in agriculture. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about Farm Journal’s cross-platform content and how radio can fit. I’m excited to be part of this expanding radio business.”
Jimmie Kaska Named Sports Director at WBIZ, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The new title for Jimmie Kaska comes as he takes over the sports director role at Clear Channel’s WBIZ, Eau Claire, Wisconsin from Mike Sullivan who held the position for the past 40 years. The station notes that during Sullivan’s tenure, “he was responsible for getting games on the air involving local teams performing in over 200 venues in 30 states, one territory and two foreign countries. Of those roughly 8,000 games, only two did not get on the air. Sullivan also negotiated rights fees and made other arrangements for airing over 10,000 games involving professional and college teams in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as nationally broadcast events. WBIZ-AM was the first 24-hour sports station in Wisconsin, and one of the first 10 in the United States when the format debuted in 1992. The station format was switched in 1994-95, but then returned to the all-sports format in 1996, and has remained all-sports since then.” Kaska serves as PD for WBIZ and sister news/talk WMEQ. He states, “It’s crazy to think that the first job I had in my life when I was 17 would be the same one I’m doing today. It seems like every year I find something else to take charge of, and of all the roles I have here, this one will be the most visible and most important. It’s my goal that I continue the long tradition of being one of the best and most active sports radio groups in the country. The mentoring I’ve received from Mike Sullivan has been invaluable to both my career in broadcasting and to life. I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity.”
Advantage Systems Brings Reed Bunzel and A. Darryl Davis Aboard. Sales and marketing firm Advantage Systems Inc. announces Reed Bunzel and A. Darryl Davis join the company as revenue development managers. The company says, “Bunzel has been leading a charge for the radio industry to use digital media to grow revenue since digital first appeared, and he has joined Advantage Systems, Inc. to help stations do just that. Bunzel, current president of Bunzel Media Strategies, will be working with broadcasting groups throughout U.S. and Canada to help them with a revenue generation program designed to incorporate traditional media with new interactive solutions provided by Advantage Systems, Inc.” Bunzel comments, “What I find interesting is that RAB’s just-released data shows that radio’s digital revenue was up 3% in the previous quarter and 7% in the first half, but I saw another study today predicting 16% growth in digital advertising next year. That tells me that radio is severely underperforming in the digital era. It needs to be smart and catch up.” Regarding Davis, Advantage Systems VP for sales Frank Kulbertis states, “Darryl has a history of doing programs similar to our Advantage Plan program that included schedules and digital products for television so he was a perfect fit as a new revenue development manager for us.” The company says Davis will work with broadcast groups to grow their advertising revenue. The program includes extensive sales training, new business leads in the local market, a focused workshop to educate local business owners on traditional and new media, 12-month advertising commitments along with turn-key creative services and the ability to generate digital revenue thru inclusion of interactive solutions.
Odds & Sods. Consumer finance expert Rodney Anderson is hosting a daily, one-hour program on Clear Channel’s news/talk KFXR, Dallas airing from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..Hearst’s news/talk WBAL, Baltimore inks the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles for another two seasons. The O’s have been heard on WBAL for all but 15 of the team’s 60-year history in the city…..WestwoodOne has the national radio rights to the remaining NFL playoff games – including Super Bowl XLVIII – that resume this weekend. While Scott Graham hosts the pre-, post-game and halftime shows for all four games, the WestwoodOne stable of in-game announcers and analysts are lined up for the four games airing this weekend.
Chris Christie Bridge Traffic Scandal, Robert Gates Book, War on Poverty Anniversary, and Dennis Rodman North Korea Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/8). The scandal involving New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staffers allegedly closing lanes in Fort Lee New Jersey near the George Washington Bridge as a form of revenge against the town’s Democratic mayor; the new book from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in which he’s critical of Obama Administration officials and the president and vice president; the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s “war on poverty”; and former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s tumultuous return visit to North Korea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.