Instant Case Study: Power of Local Talk Radio. Earlier this week, one of talk radio’s most rapidly rising young stars impressively underscored how local hosts can dramatically, effectively flex their muscles and gain community goodwill. Cogently serving as a mediator, KSCO, Santa Cruz (California) afternoon drive talent Ethan Bearman accomplished what no attorneys or court could do in four years of active litigation. Here is the back-story. In a lawsuit filed in 2009, the Community Alliance for Fairgrounds Accountability (CAFA) alleged noise caused by dirt track racing at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds’ Ocean Speedway was disruptive to neighbors. There has been what Bearman labels “heated rhetoric and acrimony” from both sides of the dispute. Last Thursday, he decided to engage each principal, with racetrack promoter John Prentice agreeing to come in-studio this past Monday (10/21). Meanwhile though, the CAFA attorney never returned Bearman’s call. After Monday’s broadcast though, spokesperson and national owner of West Marine, Randy Repass, sought to share his side. “I invited him on-air [yesterday, 10/22] and John Prentice called in to counter Mr. Repass,” Bearman recounts. “I proceeded to walk through the issues with both sides in a calming manner.” The result was a perfect-case local talk radio scenario: Bearman achieved a verbal agreement between Prentice and Repass for a framework agreement on solving the matter. Click here to listen.
Layoffs Reported At Sinclair Stations. According to a report in TVSpy, Sinclair Broadcast Group has issued layoffs at its newly-acquired stations in Seattle and Portland. Relying on a source inside Seattle ABC-TV affiliate KOMO, TVSpy notes there have been 10 layoffs in that station’s newsroom and close to 20 across all Sinclair’s Seattle properties. Those affected include satellite truck operators, editors, producers, and radio reporters and editors. The source describes the mood at KOMO as sad and nervous, noting that the newsroom is a “very tight-knit group” that has been through a lot. Staffers are said to be helping laid-off employees find new jobs. It was announced on April 11 of this year that Fisher would sell its Seattle radio properties – news KOMO-AM, talk KVI, and hot AC KPLZ – to Sinclair; the deal was completed on August 8.
Longtime KYW Manager Roy Shapiro Passes. Former 20-year vice president/general manager of all-news KYW, Philadelphia Roy Shapiro, 76, has died. CBS Radio president/chief executive officer Dan Mason comments that, “Roy was the backbone of KYW Radio for so many years and continued to make valuable contributions to CBS Radio through his wealth of knowledge in audience measurement research. All of us at CBS Radio will miss him – not only as our colleague but as our loyal friend.” CBS Radio executive vice president of operations Scott Herman remarks, “Roy was an incredible person and one of the brightest, smartest minds the broadcasting industry has ever seen. His legacy will live on through those of us lucky enough to be mentored by him and those of us blessed to be able to call him a friend.” According to senior vice president/Philadelphia market manager Marc Rayfield, “Roy was not only a great boss, he was a father figure to many of us. He made everyone around him a better broadcaster and a better person. His presence in our daily lives will be sorely missed, but his spirit will live on forever.” Shapiro joined Group W/Westinghouse Broadcasting in 1962. He would serve in many capacities at the company, including vice president/general manager of Group W Radio Sales and vice president of Strategic Planning and Research. Shapiro retired as KYW’s General Manager in 2003, but he continued to consult for CBS Radio up to the time of his death.
It is Washington to Washington For Mathes. American University-owned noncommercial WAMU, Washington, DC general manager Caryn Mathes has accepted a similar assignment at University of Washington noncommercial KUOW, Seattle. She will commence her new duties on January 2, 2014. University of Washington associate vice president of Media Relations and Communications Norm Arkans comments, “Caryn has had great success wherever she has been. She brings a fresh perspective and genuine passion for the role of public media in our society.” Mathes previously was general manager of Wayne State University noncommercial outlet WDET, Detroit. “I am driven by and thrive on building public media organizations,” she remarks. “The future of civil society depends on the foundation of a well-informed population capable of nuanced thought. KUOW is poised to be a leader in public media’s next chapters on audience, content, and technology. I know we will do great things in this regard.” WAMU senior director of business operations Cary Needham is tapped to be that station’s interim GM until a successor for Mathes is found.
KYW Presents a Ten-Piece Laptop Computer Lab. The Tacony Center of the Police Athletic League (PAL) is the recipient of the joint venture between CBS Radio all-news KYW, Philadelphia and Comcast. The computer lab was presented to a group of children and supervisors of Tacony PAL this past Monday (10/21) evening. “It is gratifying to assist organizations like PAL who help make a difference in the community and the lives of local children,” comments CBS Radio, Philadelphia senior vice president/market manger Marc Rayfield. Approximately 30% of Americans do not have home internet access. Comcast vice president of Government Affairs Kathleen Sullivan states, “By leveling the playing field and giving low income kids the same tools as their peers, they will be able to compete in a 21st century technologically savvy environment. We launched “Internet Essentials” to make it possible for kids to have the internet available at home and purchase computer equipment at an affordable rate.” This marks the 14th year that KYW and Comcast have joined forces to bring computers to Delaware Valley individuals, schools, and community centers.
Sports/Talk Expanding Commercial Envelope as Traditional Norms Fade Away. Of all the subsets of talk radio, sports/talk appears to be the most innovative and pioneering when it comes to finding new and appropriate sales opportunities. There are lessons in this for all of radio to follow. Some of the arenas now considered “normal” are sales categories that were considered forbidden or at least in questionable taste just a few short years ago — such as “gentlemen’s clubs” (strip joints), hard liquor and gun shops. Language itself is changing with a far looser tolerance of specific words finding their way into the glossary of acceptable terms. Also, standard scheduling practices are changing such as the clustering of spots in which stations are not as meticulous as they once were in separating competitors within any given category (automotive ads being a prime example). In a new column posted today (10/23), TALKERS sales maven, H&H Communications CEO/president Al Herskovitz discusses these changes along with what new opportunities and challenges they bring to radio of all formats. To read it please click here.
KFQD Scores Six Alaska Broadcaster’s Association Awards. The Morris Communications-owned Anchorage talk outlet was honored by the ABA for “Best Radio Show” for afternoon talk personality Dave Stieren; “Best News Program” for morning drive “Newsday AM”; and “Best News Coverage” for reporter Kathy Phillips’ live updates on a local fire. In addition, the station was cited for producer Toben Shelby‘s “Best Station Imaging”; Alaska Aces hockey voice Josh Bogorod for “Best Sports Play-by-Play”; and Steve Stripling and Mike Ford for “Most Uniquely Alaskan Program” for “The Big Alaska Show.” Anchorage Media Group director of spoken-word programming Joe Campbell remarks, “I am blessed with a talented group of professional broadcasters who love what they do, and that shows in our on-air product. They truly deserve this recognition.” KFQD signed on in May of 1924, making it Alaska’s first radio station. This year’s ABA awards were presented at the conclusion of the organization’s annual convention at Anchorage’s Sheraton Hotel.
Alliance For Women in Media Selects Strobel As Interim CEO. As a search for a new chief executive officer is being conducted, Sylvia Strobel will oversee day-to-day AWM operations. She succeeds three-year AWM president Erin Fuller, who becomes president of AWM’s professional services firm Coulter. Strobel is the co-founder/partner of the law firm Lehmann Strobel PLC, where she provides legal and business consulting services to the nonprofit arts, cultural and media communities. AWM chair Kay Olin remarks, “Sylvia’s industry knowledge, leadership abilities, and commitment to AWM will help us continue the organization’s incredible momentum advancing the influence and impact of women in all forms of media.” A past chair of the organization, Strobel notes, “AWM’s mission and work – to advance the opportunities for and impact of women in all forms of media – is critically important to me personally, and is necessary to ascertain diversity in a rapidly changing media industry.” Strobel served as an attorney and business advisor to the entertainment community for over 20 years. Most recently, she was executive director of the Alliance for Community Media and she previously was president/general manager of the Pennsylvania Public Television Network.
Strand Media and Boostability Offer “Digital Profit System for Radio.” The concept allows stations to bundle Search Engine Optimization services (SEO) with traditional radio advertising to improve advertiser results, while creating what Strand Media president Mike Carruthers describes as, “a substantial recurring revenue stream” for the station. “The money is virtually all profit,” he maintains. Every business must come at the top of a Google search, Carruthers advises, and with “DPS for Radio,” station salespeople can offer SEO services to help get clients to the top of those search results. They then coordinate the SEO campaign with ad copy to create a message intended to get better results for clients. Carruthers insists that local businesses will buy these services and he rhetorically asks, “Why not buy them from a radio station salesperson out in the community making calls?” Once a radio station sells a “DPS for Radio” package to an advertiser, they hand it off to Boostability. Stations make a commission on every dollar their clients spend for as long as they remain a customer. “Over time, that can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars with virtually no expenses,” Carruthers states. There is no cost to offer DPS for Radio and there is market/format exclusivity protection for this venture. Strand Media produces the daily feature “Something You Should Know” and the daily service “Relevant Prep.” It has syndicated “Backstage Country,” “Oldies Essentials” and “Recollections.” Founder Mike Carruthers has worked at over a dozen radio stations, most of them in Los Angeles; his contact information is 626-325-3360, Mike@DPSforRadio.com, or www.DPSforRadio.com.
Comedy Legend Emo Phillips to be Presented as Week-long Host for Halloween by CC Comedy Format. ”24/7 Comedy,” the 24-hour, all-comedy format syndicated by Clear Channel, will treat listeners to a special week-long Halloween host – legendary comedian Emo Phillips. From October 28 – November 1, “24/7 Comedy” will feature “A Very Emo Halloween,” giving listeners a peek behind the mysterious mask of Phillips and highlighting some of his most popular stand-up bits. Emo has been a mystifying figure in the comedy world for nearly 30 years. With an orchestra of tonality and cadence, an odd falsetto intonation, and weird observations delivered in a child-like and rambling voice, Emo found himself climbing the ranks of the stand-up ladder in the 1980s. He is currently touring and setting attendance records at comedy clubs around the globe. Launched in 2010, ”24/7 Comedy” is a first fast-paced, hits-oriented, mass-appeal comedy format for broadcast radio. With a growing library of more than 15,000 comedy bits, each hour of programming features more than 20 of today’s top acts as well as established artists. For more information visit www.247comedy.com.
Low-Power FM Application Deadline Extended. Opening of the original, two-week LPFM window was slated for October 15 – 29, but owing to the October 1 -16 federal government shutdown, the FCC is pushing it back. Applications for community radio stations are now due by November 14. Prometheus Radio Project Policy Director Sanjay Jolly comments that, “Low-power FM is radio at its most local. These stations transmit less than 10 miles in any direction, but that small range can cover an entire town, suburb, or small city. Since only local organizations are eligible to apply, low-power stations can make radio relevant to the towns and cities where they broadcast.” Nonprofit groups, public safety organizations, and Native American tribes can apply for Low-Power FM stations online at the FCC website. Over 800 low-power stations run by nonprofits, colleges, churches, and emergency responders are currently on-air.
Day One from the Democratic National Convention. WYD Media’s Stephanie Miller (c) is pictured here in an “action” shot that shows the expansive media center in Charlotte from which she is broadcasting her nationally syndicated morning drive program. In this photo, she’s joined by Fox News Radio personality Alan Colmes (l) and Stephanie Miller show regular Jim Ward (r). There are more than 100 talk show hosts joining the news organizations covering the DNC in Charlotte that wraps up Thursday with President Obama’s evening speech accepting his party’s nomination for the ticket.
Greater Media’s WTKK, Boston Makes Brand Change and Boost to News Product Official. As TALKERS magazine reported yesterday, Greater Media news/talk outlet WTKK has re-branded itself and is rededicating itself to providing Bostonians with more news and information and program director Grace Blazer makes that official. She says the station “will provide listeners in the Boston Metropolitan area with consistent ‘live and local’ news, traffic, and weather reports around the clock on-air, online and on their mobile devices. Through a partnership with Total Traffic, Greater Media Boston’s News Talk 96.9 FM-WTKK will deliver newscasts at the top and bottom of the hour 24 hours a day and traffic and weather reports every 15 minutes. In addition, WTKK will refer to itself as NEWS TALK 96.9 both on air and online to more accurately reflect its product.” Blazer says, “We are proud to be the only FM radio station with a 24 hour live and local staff of newscasters delivering timely, local and breaking news, accurate traffic reporting, and dependable weather forecasts. The addition of services to our already strong talk lineup makes News Talk 96.9 FM unique within the Boston market and also presents immediate opportunities for our advertisers.” Total News Source VP Chris Berry says of the new relationship, “An amazing amount of news is generated daily in Boston and New England. We are very pleased to be working around the clock with the team at News Talk 96.9 to assist in gathering and delivering news and information.”
Glenn Beck Gets Apology from American Airlines After Rude Service. The Premiere Networks-syndicated radio host told his audience he was treated rudely by a flight attendant on a weekend flight from Newark to Dallas – ostensibly for his political views – and would never fly American again. Beck told his national radio audience the male flight attendant “fawned over” the other passengers but slammed a can of soda down in front of him and “barked” at him, treating him as “subhuman.” The airline tweeted an apology and went further issuing the following statement, “We are sorry for the experience Mr. Beck had on a recent flight. The comfort and satisfaction of our customers are very important priorities to us and we take these matters seriously. We have reached out to Mr. Beck’s office and are actively looking into the situation.”
Matt Fox Exits NextMedia’s WHBC, Canton. The morning show at NextMedia’s WHBC, Canton, Ohio will consist of co-host Pam Cook and Canton Repository sports columnist Todd Porter for now as Matt Fox exits the station to take a position outside the radio business. The Repository reports Fox cited the early morning hours – a 3:45 wakeup call – as one of the reasons he’s choosing to leave the show he’s been co-hosting with Cook since February of 2011. He took over for Fred Chenevey at that time and the program was his first full-time radio gig. He continues to co-host the “Around the House with Matt and Shari” home improvement show that airs on the local PBS TV outlet.
Big Changes at Chicago Public Media; Big Shoes to Fill at WBEZ. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports on the announcement that afternoon talk host Steve Edwards is leaving his “The Afternoon Shift” talk show on CPM’s WBEZ, Chicago to take a new post at the University of Chicago. Edwards has been with Chicago Public Media for 14 years, serving in a number of capacities during that time, including as director of content development and program director. It was just last February that the 41-year-old public media pro returned to the air to host “The Afternoon Shift.” On his new position as deputy director, programming at the University of Chicago’s new Institute of Politics, a public policy and public service institute led by David Axelrod, Edwards tells Feder, “What motivates me is trying to create a deeper understanding of the world around me and trying to share that with people. How do I touch and transform people and communities? How do I uncover insights and share them with others? Journalism has been an amazing place where those values and skill sets intersect. And I think my new role at the Institute of Politics represents another place where they do as well.” Meanwhile, CPM has retained Livingston Associates to help find Edwards’ successor. Read Robert Feder’s full story here.
Clear Channel Takes Aim at CNN with Its ClearVision In-Airport TV Network. Providing what it calls an alternative to CNN’s news-only airport network with a debut at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Clear Channel Outdoor’s Clear Channel Airports division unveils ClearVision. The company says it’ll provide content to travelers from numerous sources, including: “CBS with offerings from CBS News, CBS Entertainment, CBS Daytime, and CBS Interactive, among others; NBC, with shows including The Today Show, Smash, The Voice, Grimm, America’s Got Talent and The Office; daily headlines from around the world from The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Live; and sports from the Tennis Channel with original programming like the travel series Destination Tennis and highlights from major tournaments like the French Open and US Open.” This is a partnership with connectVISION Digital Networks and CCO says it “provides airports, content partners, and advertisers with an unparalleled ability to reach and engage air travelers – through customized content ranging from local news to top network shows and live events. Airports ultimately will be able to leverage WiFi services to provide travelers accustomed to on-demand content access to the ClearVision network on their smartphones, iPads, and laptops.” There’s no word from Clear Channel on what other American airports with which it’s negotiating but the company sounds very dedicated to this market and you can bet there will be more airport deals announced in the near future.
Sports Biz Today Produces Daily Updates. Sports Biz Today is launching a new daily product called “Sports Biz Update” – a two-minute feature in which host Fred Wallin gives listeners the headlines of what is going on in the world of sports business. Fred Wallin is a veteran of sports talk radio, both locally in Southern California and nationally. Wallin has hosted ‘Dodger Talk,” “Angel Talk,” “Kings Talk,” and “Bruins Talk” on various Southern California radio stations. He has hosted programs on KABC, KFI, KLAC, KIEV, KFOX and 1150 AM in Los Angeles. Nationally, Wallin has hosted programs on The Sports Radio Network, The American Sports Radio Network, Prime Sports, The Sports America Radio Network, and the Cable Radio Network, and presently on Sports Overnight America, Fox Sports Radio Las Vegas and KCAA Riverside, California.
Odds & Sods. Clear Channel names Melissa Forrest market manager for the San Diego cluster. Forrest most recently served with CC at the Atlanta cluster where she was president and market manager in charge of the company’s radio stations, the Total Traffic Network and the Georgia News Network…..TRN and WGST, Atlanta talk show host Rusty Humphries is putting his passion for cigars together with his own brand and is working with Cuban-born cigar-making legends to create his own limited-edition El Presidente cigar. Working with Don Lino creator Nestor Miranda and master blender José “Pepin” Garcia – both Floridians now – Humphries made 300 boxes of the cigars. He says, “It’s not made to be an everyday smoke. There’s not that many of ‘em. I only wanted to do a limited amount. I wanted to honor a president each time. When they’re gone, they’re gone. So each cigar is a collector’s item in its own right.” Humphries is pictured here with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who declared the cigar “bueno.”…..Nationally syndicated home improvement radio show “The Money Pit” partners with TuneIn to create a 24/7 home improvement channel on the audio service. “Money Pit” co-host Tom Kraeutler says, “We’ve experienced rapid growth of our program through our existing online assets. But with over 40 million monthly active listeners, TuneIn has the infrastructure and leadership to help us expand that listener base in ways never before possible and we’re thrilled with the opportunity to share our home improvement insights with this new audience.”…..Dr. Michio Kaku – renowned theoretical physicist, best-selling author and host of Talk Radio Network’s “Science Fantastic” – has been selected through a vote of IPC members to keynote the trade group’s biggest electronics industry event next spring in San Diego. “Kaku’s keynote will present a vision of life in the year 2100 culled from ideas of 300 of the country’s most influential scientists. He will explore revolutionary advancements in medicine, energy production, artificial intelligence and aeronautics that will forever change our way of life – including innovations like internet-enabled contact lenses, cars that will drive (or even fly) themselves and brain sensors that will let us move objects using only the power of our minds.”…..Mike Rosso joins Continental Electronics as vice president of sales and marketing, where he’ll be responsible for maintaining and developing Continental’s global market presence. Continental bills itself as a “global leader in broadcast transmitter equipment. It is the foremost supplier of advanced RF transmission technology and the world’s most experienced designer and builder of the highest power radio broadcast equipment.”
Fox Sports Radio Network Launches Daily Big Ten Football Show. The new show, an extension of the weekly Big Ten show, debuted yesterday on affiliates including WDFN, Detroit, KFXN, Minneapolis and WSSP, Milwaukee. Dubbed “BTN Live,” the show airs live daily from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET and is hosted by Big Ten Network personalities Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo, Howard Griffith and others.
WEEI, Boston Announces Patriots and NFL Coverage. The Entercom sports talk brand – heard throughout New England on numerous company-owned stations and affiliates – announces its fall football programming. VP of programming and operations for Entercom Boston Jason Wolfe reports coverage of Patriots football features the return of Patriots Friday and Patriots Monday that includes exclusive interviews with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Its “Gameday” broadcasts on home game days will emanate from Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill at Patriot Place in Foxborough. WEEI has also secured a number of current and former Patriots players as well as NFL experts – including (WFAN, New York and “NFL Today” host) Boomer Esiason who chats with morning hosts Dennis & Callahan each Monday – to join coverage of the team on its shows throughout the week during the football season. Wolfe states, “We’ve made it a priority to provide Patriots fans with the most compelling and comprehensive coverage of the team that we can. With Patriots Monday and Friday and our slew of NFL Insiders, WEEI will be the place to be to keep up with the Pats throughout the season.” Actual game play-by-play rights are owned by WEEI’s crosstown competitor – CBS Radio-owned WBZ-FM, Boston 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Are Hard Times Hitting Television Talk, Too? The New York Post reports on rumors that Comcast’s NBC is taking a serious look at morning television talk’s “Today” for possible budget cuts in the wake of its “ratings woes.” With the story of Jay Leno’s recent voluntary pay cut to help save staffer jobs at “The Tonight Show,” the story questions whether “Today” co-host Matt Lauer will take the same path there to save the positions of lower-level staffers such as makeup artists and writers. In the piece, one person is quoted saying, “It will be the little people who go first — the makeup people, writers, but these people have families, and it will put pressure on Matt to do the right thing.” Lauer reportedly makes $25 million per year. Commenting on the rumors, a rep for “Today” states there will be “absolutely” no staff cuts at the program.
Michael Strahan Officially Named Kelly Ripa’s Co-Host. The former New York Giants football great is officially named the permanent co-host of the “Live!” show, replacing Regis Philbin, who retired from the show late last fall. Kelly Ripa has been hosting the show solo and with a parade of potential co-hosts doing live auditions since then. But, according to People, Ripa made the announcement official that Strahan would be her new co-host.
Presidential Campaign/Democratic National Convention, National Debts Hits $16 Trillion, and Syria Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/4). The presidential campaign and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte; the national debt hitting the $16 trillion mark; and the ongoing violence in Syria were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.