Gow Communications to Pay $5.17 Million for KFNC, Houston. The sale of sports talk outlet KFNC, Houston to Gow and Educational Media Foundation that was announced in the spring is coming close to the finish line as David Gow and company should begin LMAing the station Cumulus put into bankruptcy protection as early as September 1. The station – positioned as ESPN 97.7 – is expected to continue to broadcast ESPN programming at least for a while. Gow also operates crosstown sports talk KGOW and Yahoo! Sports Radio and there have been some changes there with Travis Rodgers moving to the early afternoon slot on both KGOW and the national network. KGOW is preparing to debut Adam Clanton and John Wessling in the afternoon drive slot, according to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle. Clanton currently works for KPRC-TV but will wrap up his role with the station this weekend. As for the Yahoo! Sports Radio network, a new PM drive show is being developed and will be announced soon. The network’s Craig Shemon returns to weekends from the midday slot.
Heidi and Frank Return to the Terrestrial Airwaves in Los Angeles. Cumulus Media names Heidi Hamilton and Frank Kramer the new morning show on KLOS, Los Angeles, taking over for Mark & Brian beginning September 4. Brian Phelps surprised the industry last week announcing he would also be leaving the Cumulus classic rocker at the same time Mark Thompson would, although Thompson made his decision to retire public earlier this summer. Cumulus COO John Dickey told TALKERS over the weekend that Brian Phelps was “part of a large consideration pool” of candidates for the new morning program. In announcing “The Heidi and Frank Show,” Dickey states, “After a long and thoughtful search which overwhelmed us with great, established talent and new talent waiting to be discovered both in and out of radio, I couldn’t be more pleased with the selection of ‘The Heidi and Frank Show’ to continue on the tradition that Mark and Brian set in place with 25 years of Hall of Fame radio.” Hamilton and Kramer have been producing an internet radio show since CBS Radio shut down hot talk KLSX, Los Angeles in a format flip. The Frosty, Heidi and Frank program (with Frosty Stillwell) aired there successfully for years. They also worked at KABC after the demise of KLSX. Prior to the KLSX era Hamilton and Kramer hosted the morning show at crosstown Hot AC KYSR. On the new gig, Heidi Hamilton states, “KLOS is rock. KLOS is the definitive iconic rock radio station in the world. It’s one of those stations that evokes a feel good emotion while you’re driving in your car. I’m beyond honored that Frank Kramer and I have been invited to become a part of something so legendary! The ‘Heidi and Frank Show’ fans are second to NONE and I know they will be with us on this long fun ride together.” Frank Kramer comments, “If it would have been any other station than KLOS, I would have said no. We have a huge following across the world and only a station as large and iconic as KLOS could lure us back to radio. To be given this opportunity is an honor and a privilege. With the continued support from my partner, Heidi Hamilton, and the fans that never left us, and the fans waiting for us to return, the next 25 years are going to be one hell of a ride.”
The Battle for Control over Sirius XM Continues and the Momentum Seems to be Shifting in Favor of John Malone’s Liberty Media. Yes, what seemed like an odd story just a matter of months ago has developed into a high stakes big business drama. John Malone and Liberty Media, the company that rescued the merged satellite radio company from burning up in the atmosphere back in 2009 by gobbling up 40% ownership at what has turned out to be a super good deal for them has asked the FCC for approval to take outright control of Sirius XM Radio, noting it plans to raise its stake in the satellite radio company above 50%. The request follows disclosure earlier this week that Liberty, SiriusXM’s largest shareholder, was inching up its collection of shares in Sirius from approximately 46.2% to an aggressively postured 48%. In last week’s filing, Liberty said it will “have purchased sufficient shares of Sirius’s common stock and will convert its preferred shares such that the transfer of control will be completed within 60 days of commission consent.” Raising its stake above 50% and being granted FCC approval to take absolute control opens the way for Liberty to replace Sirius management and spin its Sirius stake off to Liberty shareholders. But would replacing Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin be a wise move? Probably not. Although coldly brash and hard-nosed as they come, Karmazin is an extremely effective radio broadcast executive and business strategist who has done a world class job of getting Sirius XM to its present state of health. Reports from inside Liberty indicate that John Malone recognizes that and is giving “Mel” wiggle room to back pedal off his earlier blurts that he wouldn’t work for anyone else. There is a huge lesson here for wannabe broadcast industry moguls (and there sure are a lot of them out there): When you turn to venture capitalists and outside big money investors to save your ass, they will likely wind up owning it.
In Search of the Effective Commercial. There’s a trend away from humorous commercials in radio, according to H-and-H Communications president Al Herskovitz. Research indicates Madison Avenue is questioning the effectiveness of funny ads and, as it applies to talk radio advertising, Herskovitz writes that the “recognizable spokesperson” – read, the talk show host – is much more effective. But there are still problems there that need to be solved. Read Al Herskovitz’s piece here.
Courtside Entertainment’s “Loveline” Clears Tampa Market. Cox Media’s FM hot talker WHPT, Tampa – The Bone – adds Courtside Entertainment Group’s “Loveline” featuring Dr. Drew Pinsky, Mike Catherwood and Simone Bienne for the 1:00 am to 3:00 am slot. “Loveline” becomes part of Cox’s young male-targeted talk outlet that features Bubba the Love Sponge in morning drive and Cowhead in PM drive.
Odds & Sods. Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington hosts a special “school” edition of its “Ask the…” program today at 10:00 am. Mark Seagraves serves as moderator for the commercial-free hour featuring a Q&A session with superintendents and school board officials from Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Fairfax County and the District of Columbia…..Entercom’s New England sports talk juggernaut WEEI produces the 11th Annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon beginning today and running through tomorrow. The fundraising extravaganza takes place live from Fenway Park from 6:00 am to 12:00 midnight both days. Last year the event raised more than $3.3 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute…..Nationally syndicated radio host Phil Grande of the “Phil’s Gang” program will broadcast his show live from the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week with broadcasts starting at 3:00 pm ET. Grande will have special guests Donald Trump, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Sarasota Republican Chairman Joe Gruters plus many other guests. In addition, he will have up to the minute news, updates and of course his own commentary. The 2012 Republican National Convention is being held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum August 27-30, 2012.
CBS Radio News Announces Convention Coverage. Dial Global and CBS Radio News will deliver coverage from the two national conventions – the Republican National Convention in Tampa August 27 through 30 and the Democratic National Convention September 4 through 6. Coverage plans include anchored coverage, updates, special reports, special features, and one-on-one interviews with correspondents, pundits and political experts. CBS Radio News states it will “provide expert reporting and analysis, featuring an experienced lineup of respected and award-winning correspondents and commentators, including Howard Arenstein, Pam Coulter, Peter King, Dan Raviv, Peter Maer, Andrew Mollenbeck, Brian Montopoli and Professors Dotty Lynch and Leonard Steinhorn.
Los Angeles Radio Personality Paul Crosswhite Passes Away. Southern California newsman and DJ Paul Crosswhite died on August 17 after a long illness. Crosswhite served as a news person at both KFI and KNX-FM during his career. He also was an evening and morning drive host at KTWV, Los Angeles – The Wave – for 10 years. According to LARadio.com’s Don Barrett, “Crosswhite did news during most of his tenure in Southern California radio and has received Golden Mike Awards for documentary, feature and best newscast. He did news during the glory years of KNX-FM. During the Gulf War, he won the Associated Press Award for best newscast. When he moved to “the Wave,” he gave up news to become a DJ, originally in the evenings and, later, mornings after the female morning drive team collapsed.”
Romney-Ryan Team, Obama Medicare Cuts, Facebook Stock Plummets and Syria Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/20). The Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket hitting the campaign trail full-swing; President Obama’s cuts to Medicare; the sagging stock price of Facebook; 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.
Ed Schultz Added to Growing Lineup of Movers, Shakers and Stars at New Media Seminar. “Big Eddie,” star of MSNBC’s nightly “The Ed Show” and nationally syndicated progressive talk radio sensation has been named to deliver the annual “State of the First Amendment” address at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in New York City on Thursday, June 7. The speech, which has a rich history dating back more than two decades, is a longtime tradition in the talk show industry and will take place during the Freedom of Speech Ceremony at this year’s event. WTOP, Washington VP of news and programming, Jim Farley will be this year’s recipient of the prestigious Freedom of Speech Award. This year’s NMS/NY will feature a lineup of more than 50 industry speakers addressing a variety of topics including the state of programming in talk radio, methods of generating revenue during tough times, the challenge of selling controversy, designing successful digital and social media strategies, the changing role of news, the continuing growth of sports talk, and lots more. A detailed agenda for the June 7 event will be posted at Talkers.com this coming week. This year’s New Media Seminar marks the innovative launch of an updated model sensitive to the tough economic and stressful conditions of the times. Significant restructuring has been applied to lower the costs of registration (only $99), accommodations and travel as well as moving the event from the weekend to a weekday. According to TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, “Both conferences will be national in scope and regional in flavor, a recipe that worked amazingly well at last year’s successful experiment, the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum.” NMS 2012 will consist of two one-day conferences. The first will be held in New York City on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side. According to its organizers it is on the verge of a sellout. The second – presented in association with the Los Angeles Press Club – will take place on Thursday, October 11 in Los Angeles at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. Harrison says, “We learned a tremendous amount at last year’s ‘happening’ in L.A. There is something very exciting, fulfilling and productive about one single, power-packed day with no time-wasting fat or money-wasting frills. It was executed purposefully under the radar to test the waters for this new model on a national scale and it succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, reaching maximum registration capacity in a matter of days. Although the New Media Seminar has actually grown consistently larger and has been a sell-out every year of its existence, we recognize that conditions are such that a change would eventually be necessary as well as beneficial to the working person in our business – at least during this stressful period of tight budgets and high industry economic uncertainty. At TALKERS we insist on being ahead of the curve. Industry conferences need to include and be accessible to professionals in the trenches as well as the corporate elite. This new model is a gift to the business.” Because quick sell-outs for each event are expected, registration is limited to working media. (As indicated, New York is on the verge of a sellout.) For registration and sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
UPDATE!!! HOTEL INFORMATION FOR NEW YORK ATTENDEES. The Doubletree by Hilton Metropolitan New York at 569 Lexington Avenue (3 blocks away) has rooms available for $359 per night for a limited time. You may register online via www.dtnewyork.com. On the main page, click on reservations and type the letters TNM in the group code box. Or you can call 800-222-8733 and give the code TNM when speaking to the guest services staff.
Arbitron Reports Q1 Revenue Up 5.5%. The first quarter of 2012 has been good to Arbitron Inc. as the company states net income increased 9.6% on revenue growth of 5.5% during the period that ended March 31. Total revenue for the quarter was $106.4 million and it came primarily from annual rate increases, including the continued phase-in of price increases for the PPM. Arbitron CEO Bill Kerr states, “Our results and our activities in the first quarter are well aligned with our long standing priorities for enhancing our core services and for generating revenue growth. We unveiled our marketing mix modeling service at the recent Advertising Research Foundation convention. We expect to have the complete service up, running and ready to improve radio’s visibility among the top agency media planners by the middle of the summer.” Kerr also said, “Digital radio remains a key priority as we continue our work to follow radio onto its new digital platforms in order to quantify this growing audience segment thereby enabling customers to monetize it.” Guidance for the rest of 2012 indicates Arbitron expects revenue to be up between 5% and 7%.
Cox Media Announces Talent Lineup for New Tampa FM Talker “The Bone.” Last week Cox Media Group announced it would drop the rock music on WHPT-FM, Tampa – “The Bone” – built around the success of AM drive talent Bubba the Love Sponge and PM drive counterpart Cowhead. Now, the company announces the rest of the lineup consisting of talent already working in the Cox stable. Following Bubba from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon is former WTKS-FM, Orlando – Real Radio 104.1 – personality Drew Garabo, who currently is AM drive host on the Cox Tampa cluster’s rock WSUN-FM. From 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm Cox imports Billy Madison and his KISS-FM, San Antonio morning show crew for a midday talk program. Following Cowhead in PM drive is Bubba cast member Matt “Spice” Lloyd who’ll host the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm program. Cox Radio Tampa vice president and market manager Keith Lawless says of the new direction of The Bone, “The top-rated performance on our current shows clearly tells us that Tampa Bay likes what they hear and is asking for more. We have worked hard to insure we are giving them what they want with these compelling new shows. This is an exciting time in Tampa Bay radio.”
Clark Howard Sponsors 46th Habitat for Humanity House. Cox Media nationally syndicated financial and consumer issues talk host Clark Howard announces he’s challenging the Tulsa community to help him build a Habitat for Humanity house in the city. Howard is putting up half the money it’ll take to build the house — $35,000 – and is asking listeners to Tulsa affiliate news/talk KRMG-AM/FM to donate the rest. The Tulsa Habitat build will be parallel to a build in Joplin, Missouri that Clark is also sponsoring on the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornado as part of his on-going “Project Home” campaign. The Tulsa home will be the 46th Habitat for Humanity home that Howard has helped sponsor.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. New York talk radio personality Loose Kannon – Rob Stevens – is heard on the WOR, New York internet stream from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm daily beginning Monday, April 23. Stevens previously was heard on Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York internet stream. He tells TALKERS he’ll be heard between former New York Governor David Paterson and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on the stream…..Main Street Radio Network president Jane Silk is publishing a new book on May 5 titled The Poetic Gourmette (Changing Lives Press 2012). The book is billed as a “compilation of uniquely formed recipes inspired by emotional challenges experienced by the author at the time of creation.” Silk says, “I would move on to cooking and experimenting with various ingredients, which to me were like words. Every time I mixed an ingredient, I was expressing another feeling. When I completed my recipes, I felt that I had dealt with whatever the world had sent my way.”…..ESPN Radio and USC agree to a multi-year deal to allow the sports giant the exclusive national broadcast rights to Trojans home football games…..The Automotive Journalism Society of America names talk host Jeff Shade’s syndicated, KRKO, Seattle-based “Talk About Cars” the “Best Automotive Radio Show” for 2012. Shade’s program is heard on KRKO, Seattle; WIXC, Melbourne, Florida; and WAMT, Orlando to name a few and is gaining new affiliates each week…..KYKN, Salem, Oregon talk host Bill Post’s program is expanded from two to three hours daily, now airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. General manager and station owner Mike Frith states, “I’m delighted with the way in which Bill Post has taken the show from a compelling hour to a second hour and now a third hour of great local, Oregon oriented talk. He has consistently kept the show topical, fun and informative and our listeners have responded very positively to the show.”
2012 Presidential Campaign Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 16-20. The ongoing 2012 presidential campaign returned to the #1 spot on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio. Following at #2 this week was President Obama’s proposed oil industry regulations. At # 3 was ongoing debate in Washington over the federal budget deficit and the death of the ‘Buffett Rule’ in the Senate. And at #4 was the scandals involving the Secret Service and the Government Services Agency. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published each Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Revolution on the Hill. That was the name of the first event held on the Capitol Hill lawn on Monday, April 16 and sponsored by former presidential candidate Herman Cain. The purpose of the rally was to draw attention to tax reform, fiscal responsibility and the importance of electing true conservatives in government and included such speakers as Dick Morris, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist. Also taking part were some important talk show hosts. Pictured here at the event are (from l-r): Cox Media’s Neal Boortz; Talk Radio Network and WGST, Atlanta’s Rusty Humphries; and WLAC, Nashville-based Radio America-syndicated host Steve Gill.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois and Montana tri-mulcast KYLW, Billings; KBSR, Laurel; and KHDN, Hardin…..Better Health Network’s Dr. Bob Martin health talk program is added to the weekend lineup at KFWB, Los Angeles.
Cox Media Group Goes Hot Talk in Tampa on “The Bone.” The rock music stops on Cox Media Group’s WHPT-FM, Tampa – The Bone – on Monday, April 23 as the company builds a hot talk station around morning drive star Bubba the Love Sponge and PM drive personality Cowhead. Cox will add the DirecTV-produced Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange show for late nights and is considering programs for middays and early evenings. Cox Tampa VP/market manager Keith Lawless says, “‘The Bone’ dominates the morning and afternoon drive talk shows and has room to grow in the midday and evening classic rock shows. Evolving this station into an all-talk station is an obvious move. Bubba plays no music and is clearly the market’s leader in mornings. Filling in the other dayparts with compelling talk and removing all music from the already successful Cowhead show will make ‘The Bone’ dominant with men and adults all day long.”
KNBR, San Francisco Parts Company with Ralph Barbieri After 28 Years. Ralph Barbieri – the Razor – has been a part of sports talk on KNBR, San Francisco since 1984 but he’s been let go by Cumulus Media as the result of a “management decision,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. Barbieri’s co-host Tom Tolbert – Mr. T – continues as solo host of the PM drive show. Barbieri wrote for Sport magazine before joining KNBR in 1984 and became one of the pillars upon which KNBR was built. Last fall, Barbieri revealed to the San Francisco Chronicle that he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2005 and that he disclosed the diagnosis to Cumulus as the two sides began negotiating a contract renewal. Barbieri said he believed it was only fair to Cumulus. He also reported that CEO Lew Dickey told him the company wanted him back. Barbieri wrote to the Mercury News stating: “…All I can say is that I’m weighing my options, which are considerable. I’ll have more to say later on. For now, I just want to say that I’ve seen a couple of articles that have characterized this as an amicable parting. Well, that’s not exactly the case. I came to work (Tuesday) morning with no idea that anything of this nature was afoot, especially since my contract does not expire until November 1. I was immediately told that the general manager wanted to see me. I went to his office and the program director was there as well. I was told that I was being terminated and that April 10, was to be my last day at KNBR.”
All-News WBBM Top Biller in Chicago in 2011. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports data from BIA/Kelsey that indicates all-news has been good for CBS Radio in the Windy City. The most recent quarterly “Investing in Radio Market Report” from BIA/Kelsey ranks the top five radio billers in Chicago and ranks WBBM – with its recent FM simulcast addition – at the top with $48 million in billing in 2011 (an increase from $42.5 million in 2010). Hubbard Broadcasting’s AC WTMX-FM is in second place followed by Tribune’s news/talk WGN in third ($35.5 million). Univision’s Regional Mexican WOJO-FM comes in fourth and CBS Radio’s country WUSN-FM is in fifth place.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Jumps on Board iHeartRadio. Stating that the new platform provides listeners with greater access to WGN, station VP/general manager Tom Langmyer announces Tribune Company’s news/talk WGN will be heard on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio digital platform. “This additional platform provides even greater access to WGN, and exposes new listeners to one of America’s premier personality-based talk, news and sports stations.” Clear Channel Digital president Brian LeKamp says, “Adding a station like WGN to iHeartRadio further delivers on our mission to be wherever our listeners are with the products and services they expect, expanding our ability to offer our users an even more diverse and exciting listening experience. As one of the top stations in Chicago, WGN features news, information, entertainment and sports and is an excellent addition to our platform.”
Jorge Sedano Leaves Post as AM Drive Host at WAXY, Miami. South Florida sports talk host Jorge Sedano tweets to his fans that he’s left Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WAXY, Miami’s morning drive show: “After four great yrs at 790 THE TICKET I’ve decided 2 move on effective immediately. W/ all the new projects I’m working on its just too hard 2 do it all. I want to thank all wonderful people I worked with in my time there. Also, thank you the audience for some great radio. Without you guys, I wouldn’t be in this great position to make this move. I’m looking forward to the next chapter & hoping u all come along. Thanks again for all your support. You have no idea what it means to me. All the best. Love JORGE.” Chatter in the sports talk world is that Sedano, who has previously worked at Fox Sports Radio Network, is developing a show to air on the new CBS Sports Network – possibly as a lead in to Jim Rome’s new show on the cable channel. For now, Brandon Guzio is hosting the morning show at WAXY.
Salem Communications Partners with TuneIn. Camarillo, California-based Salem Communications is the latest broadcaster to partner with internet audio company TuneIn to broadcast its stations via the web. Salem makes its almost 100 radio properties available to listeners everywhere via the service. Salem Radio president David Santrella says in a statement, “Through our partnership with TuneIn, we have expanded the number of access points to our content. We have made it easier for our current listeners to access our programming from wherever they are and have opened up our broadcasts to new audiences. Overnight we’ve expanded our footprint in digital and have gained a suite of first-of-their-kind analysis tools from TuneIn that help us further tailor programming to our listeners everywhere.”
Arbitron CFO Richard Surratt to Leave the Company. A press release from Arbitron headquarters in Columbia, Maryland says Richard Surratt is leaving his role at the ratings giant for personal reasons and that EVP/COO Sean Creamer will take over the CFO role when Surratt’s exit takes place in May. Meanwhile, the company has hired Crist Kolder Associates to search for a new CFO.
2012 Presidential Race, Charges Filed Against George Zimmerman, Obama Care Status, Tepid U.S. Jobs Creation and European Economic Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/11). Mitt Romney’s apparent capturing of the GOP nomination and the 2012 presidential campaign, second degree murder charges filed against George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, the legal status of President Obama’s Patient Accessibility and Affordable Care Act, meager job growth in the U.S. and economic tensions in the Euro zone were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Bonneville Seattle Gets Behind Fisher House Campaign. Bonneville Seattle – which includes news/talk KIRO-FM, talk KTTH, and sports talk KIRO – is supporting a campaign to upgrade the Fisher House at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. The current house – which provides lodging for the families of American service personnel recovering from treatment after being wounded in the line of duty – has been in use since 1992 and there is a need for a larger facility. Bonneville VP/market manager Carl Gardner states, “Healing our wounded warriors and caring for their families is a mission all of us in the Pacific Northwest want to join. At Bonneville, we’re excited to pull together our community of friends and bring this new Fisher House to life, to give something back to the soldiers and their families who have given us so much over these past ten years.” Pictured here are Bonneville Seattle staffers and military personnel from the base.