Tag: "Craig Schwalb"
Joan Hamburg to Host Weekend Show on WABC, New York. After a long career at crosstown heritage AM news/talker WOR, Cumulus Media announces that New York radio personality Joan Hamburg is joining its news/talker 77 WABC to host a weekly Saturday program to air from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Cumulus says on the show Hamburg “will continue discussing the most important social, economic and political issues that impact listeners’ lives each week. Hamburg will also interview major celebrities and powerful political figures on the program.” In addition, the deal calls for Hamburg to produce weekly features and exclusive programs available in digital formats. Hamburg comments, “How excited I am to join legendary WABC radio and work with Kim Bryant, Craig Schwalb and the rest of the Cumulus family. And what a treat to join their roster of the best talk talent in the country. New York get ready — the conversation is about to begin.”
Talk Host Jim Villanucci Resigns from KXL, Portland. There is little known at this time about what has transpired to cause midday talk show host Jim Villanucci to resign from his position with Alpha Media’s KXL, Portland but a Tweet from KXL’s Lars Larson states simply that Villanucci has resigned for “personal reasons” and that Larson wishes him well. Filling in during the daypart is Victoria Taft.
Tension Between WFAN’s Mike Francesa and Management Over Fox Sports Simulcast. According to a story by Neil Best in Newsday, WFAN, New York afternoon drive superstar Mike Francesa has been ordered by CBS RADIO management – under threat of lawsuit – not to gripe publicly about the simulcast of his show being bumped from cable’s Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 for live sporting events. Best reports that while Francesa didn’t talk specifically about the Fox Sports simulcast issues, he said on his radio show that in contrast to a corporate statement to the contrary, he has been threatened with legal action if he speaks publicly about anything that costs the company money, with the implication being the Fox Sports arrangement. In other words, he could be held liable for any income CBS loses if the Fox Sports relationship dissolves. Read Best’s piece here.
Cisco Cotto Joins CBS RADIO’s WBBM-AM, Chicago. Newsman and talk show host Cisco Cotto is becoming part of the staff at CBS RADIO’s all-news WBBM-AM and WCFS-FM, Chicago, according to Chicago media writer Robert Feder. Cotto has worked in the Chicago market his entire career. He started at CBS’ former all-news WMAQ and has served as news anchor at Cumulus Media’s crosstown WLS-AM (where he also went on to host a talk show) as well as at Salem’s news/talk WIND, and the Moody Bible Institute’s Christian talker WMBI. His position at WBBM and WCFS is anchor/reporter. Read Feder’s entire column here.
KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh Adds Comic Jim Krenn to Friday Program. Joining the “KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway” each Friday is Jim Krenn, a popular Pittsburgh radio personality and comedian. KDKA-AM program director Jim Graci says, “KDKA is delighted to have Jim Krenn on the station each Friday morning. It’s like adding another big bat to an all-star lineup, and will give KDKA listeners another reason to smile heading into the weekend.” Krenn is a Pittsburgh native who worked successfully in Steel City radio for 24 years. He is currently producing a weekly podcast titled, “Jim Krenn: No Restrictions.”
Dreyer Named Director of Integrated Media for NRG. Appointed to the newly created position of director of integrated media for NRG Media is Erica Dreyer. In making the announcement, NRG president and CEO Mary Quass noted that Dreyer recently served in the same post for both Maverick Media of Rockford, Illinois and Mid-West Family Broadcasting of Rockford for the past seven-plus years. Quass states, “Digital media offers the greatest potential revenue growth for radio today. Erica Dreyer has earned seven awards for excellence in the digital arena. Dreyer’s the maverick we need to lead this new department.” In this position, Dreyer will be responsible for infusing new inventory and pricing techniques into NRG’s interactive portfolio. Dreyer will also train and educate sales departments in the station group to produce more sophisticated, high-value integrated solutions for clients and help educate advertisers about integrated solutions for their business needs. Dreyer starts with NRG on September 30.
Consultant Bill McMahon Sounds Off on Key Radio Issues. One of the veteran consultants who’s had a significant influence on the modern era of talk radio as a thinker and innovator is Bill McMahon. He and his company, The Authentic Personality, developed what has been come to be known as the Authentic Personality method, the first formal training process for radio personalities and program directors. Hundreds of radio personalities and program directors in the US and the UK have participated in his Authentic Personality workshops. McMahon was one of the first to recognize Rush Limbaugh‘s “talent on loan from God” and give him a platform for its use. In addition to Rush, he has influenced the careers of many of radio’s biggest stars including Kidd Kraddick and Johnny Vaughan in the UK. Interestingly McMahon was the featured interview in the very first print issue of TALKERS almost 25 years ago. At a time when radio is facing all kinds of new high-tech competition for the consumer’s time and attention, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (who also conducted that first interview in 1990) thought it appropriate to sit down again with McMahon and talk about the current state of radio and radio personalities. In what turned out to be a fascinating 55-plus minutes of conversation, McMahon opines the following observations:
- Very little has changed in terms of radio content/format development since the initial conversation 25 years ago.
- The vast majority of radio’s content over the past 50 or 60 years has been created by the music industry. The radio industry has functioned primarily as the distribution and promotional arm of the music industry. The radio industry has created very little of its own content since the inception of television… with the notable exception of talk radio.
- Major innovations in radio content creation have come from individual on-air talent like Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Scott Shannon, etc., not radio industry management.
- Radio is no longer attracting the best and brightest talent. This is a critical and a potentially fatal problem for radio.
- Radio needs to launch an immediate campaign to recruit extraordinary talent who love creating audio entertainment and have ideas for new programs and formats that consumers want and need.
- The radio industry’s desire to create big mass appeal formats and programs goes against everything that’s happening in the world. Things that are succeeding have clearly defined specialties. Think Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, and Fox News. In this world of unlimited choice where consumers are in control of what they consume and when they consume it, having a clearly defined and distinctive specialty is a must for success.
- The “Fourteen Traits Inherent in the Best Radio Personalities” provide a guide for evaluating and recruiting the kind of talent radio needs to attract to continue to be viable.
To listen to the entire unedited audio conversation between Bill McMahon and Michael Harrison conducted for this story, please click
To contact Bill McMahon call 208-887-5670 or email Bill@AuthenticPersonality.biz
WPHT, Philadelphia Speaker Series Hosts Senator Ted Cruz. Tonight’s event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia is the latest in the WPHT Speaker Series and will feature Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) discussing the First and Fourth Amendments. The program takes place in observance of Constitution Day and WPHT morning drive personality Chris Stigall is moderating the discussion.
The Big Issue of the Day. Pictured here are ESPN personalities (from left to right) Jemele Hill, Jane McManus and Cari Champion in the studio during the production of the podcast “espnW Presents: The State of the NFL on ESPN Radio.” The show was a joint effort by espnW and ESPN Radio. Also appearing on the program were espnW personalities Kate Fagan and Sarah Spain. ESPN host Keith Olbermann and National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill joined the conversation as guests.
The NFL and Domestic Violence, U.S.-Led Coalition Against ISIS, Mid-Term Elections, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Run, New Benghazi Investigation, Ebola Virus Pandemic Threat, Scotland Succession Referendum, and Obama Amnesty Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/16). The ongoing furor over the domestic violence issues plaguing the NFL; debate over the potential effectiveness of the U.S.-led coalition to combat ISIS; the looming mid-term elections and how they may affect majorities in Congress; Hillary Clinton’s weekend appearance in Iowa and her possible run for president in 2016; the new Benghazi investigation; the status of the Ebola outbreak in Africa and the potential for a pandemic; Thursday’s referendum on whether Scotland breaks away from the U.K.; and Senator Ted Cruz’s effort to prevent amnesty action by President Obama were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: Panel Discussion, “The State of Talk Radio Programming.” Today (7/29) marks the 11th consecutive business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with a panel discussion titled, “The State of Talk Radio Programming,” moderated by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey. Panelists include: Andy Bloom, OM, WPHT/WIP, Philadelphia; Phil Boyce, VP/spoken word programming, Salem Communications; Bill Hess, PD, WMAL, Washington, DC; Gabe Hobbs, CEO, Gabe Hobbs Media; and Craig Schwalb, PD, WABC, New York. The panel focuses on a variety of topics pertinent to today’s talk radio programming strategies with an emphasis on dealing with the common criticism that the format is skewing too old. Moderator Casey starts it off asking “Is talk radio a kingmaker that wins elections or is talk radio dead?” He points out that to read the press this format receives, one would get the impression both of these statements are true. The reasoned answers by all participants are illuminating – drawing upon facts and context as opposed to bias and emotion. To view this entire presentation, please click here. Coming tomorrow: A panel discussion moderated by TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian titled, “Developing and Managing a Talk Show Hosting Career.” Featured speakers include: Tom Becka, KOIL, Omaha; Ron Hartenbaum, WYD Media; Tom Marr, WCBM, Baltimore; Joe Piscopo, WNYM, New York; and Martha Zoller, WGAU, Athens, GA/Georgia News Network. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Michael Castner Moves to AM Drive at KEX, Portland. Changes in the programming schedule at Clear Channel’s Portland news/talker KEX include the shift of afternoon drive personality Michael Castner to host of the morning drive program alongside the current staff of co-anchor Lacey Evans, news director Brad Ford and traffic reporters Michael Convery and Lynne Masterson. As a result Paul Linnman leaves the AM show for a commentator role with the station. Taking over the afternoon drive slot is Houston-based talk personality Michael Berry whose show slides down from evenings to the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot and San Antonio-based Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo is now heard in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm time slot.
Laura Ingraham Doesn’t Discount Run for Office. It’s not exactly a statement of intent, but Courtside Entertainment Group-syndicated talk show host Laura Ingraham tells RealClearPolitics that she’s “keeping an open mind about running for office in the future.” The comment comes at the end of a piece about her influence on some of the primary races – specifically the assertion that she was instrumental in helping Dave Brat upset Eric Cantor in the Virginia U.S. House primary and her current stumping for Joe Carr as he takes on Lamar Alexander in the Tennessee U.S. Senate primary that takes place on August 7. Ingraham was in Nashville recently at a campaign event for Carr – a Tea Party-backed candidate who is drawing a line in front of Alexander on the immigration issue. Read the entire story here.
SiriusXM Posts Q2 Revenue Hike of 10%; 380,000 New Self-Pay Subscribers. After a somewhat down 2014 Q1 report, SiriusXM rebounds with what CEO Jim Meyer is calling an “outstanding” quarter. SiriusXM’s revenue for the quarter was $1.035 billion – a 10% increase from the same period a year ago. Net income was $120 million. Last quarter, SiriusXM reported adding just 267,000 new subscribers but that figure is up dramatically with almost 475,000 new subscribers added – approximately 380,000 of those self-paying subscribers. Meyer comments, “We set new records for trial conversions to self-pay, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin in the quarter, and we are raising our 2014 guidance for revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow. Our extraordinary operating performance supported the buyback of over 350 million shares in the quarter, or approximately 6% of our outstanding stock. Perhaps more importantly, we improved our superior content by adding even more channels and shows created with major brands and personalities, such as Joel Osteen, NBC’s TODAY Show, and YouTube, and we expanded the range and depth of our commercial-free music programming with the introduction of three new channels in the categories of country, women’s pop, and dance. As the leader in audio entertainment, we never rest in searching for new content that our subscribers will love.”
Meeting of the Mentors. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (left) paid a visit Sunday (7/27) to his old friend, radio legend Dick Robinson (right), founder and chairman of the mega-successful Connecticut School of Broadcasting (CSB). The two veteran radio “mentors” compared notes about the state of the industry and according to both men, it was an uplifting, stimulating discussion that left them “inspired and optimistic” about the future of the business. CSB – the oldest and largest group of broadcasting schools in America — is a tremendous success story that celebrates its half-century anniversary this year. The institute that launched thousands of careers was founded by then-renowned Hartford DJ Robinson in 1964 (pictured below at WDRC, Hartford at that time) to help aspiring young broadcasters learn the fundamentals of radio performing and production and has since grown to include 12 East Coast campuses from Boston to Miami. According to Robinson, “Our success is based largely on the fact that we have grown, evolved and expanded the definition of what we cover as the years and decades went by…and we are still doing exactly that – evolving with the times. Whereas we started primarily as a school for DJs, we have grown to encompass all aspects of the radio business as well as television including the burgeoning field of sports and all aspects of audio and video production.” Robinson says, “We are a remedy to the high cost and long-term commitment required to attend a standard college or university communications department curriculum – a process that leaves graduates in significant debt and doesn’t necessarily guarantee enhanced prospects of gaining employment in the field.” Robinson also explains, “We are also a practical alternative to four-year schools for adults in their late 20s, 30s and even older who want to change careers or start a new one in the broadcast business.” The obvious question arises: Considering the economic challenges facing radio today with staff cutbacks and the future of AM/FM in question, are there still opportunities for people of any age in the fields of radio and broadcasting? Robinson’s response: “Absolutely! More than ever! With radio stations and multi-dimension ‘media station’ operations that include audio, video, graphics, and text elements all on one platform popping up not only on newspaper websites – but the online arms of a wide variety of businesses, demand for people who have what we would consider basic radio and television skills is growing exponentially. And that’s only half of it – never before in the history of our industry has there been so much opportunity for entrepreneurial broadcasters to make it on their own. In the old model, a majority of the people aspiring toward a career in radio or television would have to seek employment and get past a gatekeeper to be able to work in the field. Very few had the resources and connections to go out and buy a radio or TV station. But today, it is just a matter of ‘knowing what to do’ to be in business for yourself as a media practitioner. At CSB we are teaching our students how to be entrepreneurs as well as talent, technicians, and marketers.” Reflecting upon the get-together, Michael Harrison states, “Dick Robinson is one of the most extraordinary men the radio industry has ever produced. His school has taught countless broadcasters the art and craft of our wonderful business and he is still going strong as a station owner, format innovator and mentor of mentors. There isn’t a lifetime achievement award big enough for what this guy has done and continues to do.”
AdLarge Media Appoints Green VP/Digital Sales. Former PodcastOne national account director Jay Green is tapped to become AdLarge Media‘s vice president of digital sales and content partnerships. AdLarge Media co-founder and president Cathy Csukas comments, “We are delighted to bring Jay on board to steer our digital audio and mobile strategy. Jay’s impressive background and knowledge of digital audio advertising trends, combined with his expertise in operations and management, make him the ideal candidate to help us meet our expansion goals.” The company’s chief executive officer and co-founder Gary Schonfeld remarks that, “Jay’s keen understanding of the digital audio marketplace will advance our objectives and those of our digital and mobile partners. He is skilled at developing the kind of customized programs and packages that national advertisers have come to expect from AdLarge Media.” Green states that he is “passionate about digital audio advertising” and that he is “dedicated to creating first-to-market campaigns for our advertisers. AdLarge’s reputation for innovation and excellence was a compelling reason for me to become an integral member of their team. It’s an exciting time to join the company.” Prior to working at PodCastOne, Green spent 10 years at Dial Global, where he ultimately became vice president of strategic operations. His background includes sales, campaign management, sales planning, research, audience analysis, and market research for various new product launches.
Washington, DC-Based RELM Network Adds Food Show. The program – titled, “Foodie and the Beast,” has been airing on Hubbard Radio-owned WFED, Washington “Federal News Radio” for the past six years and now joins the growing lineup of streaming and on-demand content at RELM Network. The program is hosted by David and Nycci Nellis and is an offshoot of Nycci’s popular DC website “The List” (AreYouOnIt.com,) which has been dubbed by The Washington Post as “one of the premier resources for all things food and wine in DC and beyond.” Nycci is a gourmet cook and a veteran food journalist in radio, TV and print. The show is also seasoned with world-renowned guests, including celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, Michel Richard and Mike Isabella – as well as famous cookbook authors, farmers, marine biologists, oystermen, winemakers, distillers and brewmasters.
NPR Debuts New Curated Streaming App. An interesting new development from NPR is its curated streaming app dubbed NPR One. A story in TechCrunch identifies the new app – separate from NPR’s existing mobile platform apps – as one that “combines the benefits of both streaming and traditional terrestrial radio” with the new app. TechCrunch reports that it “uses a combination of streams of NPR’s public news broadcasts, combined with stories that are curated for your specific tastes. You can get regionally relevant content by letting the device have access to your location settings, and you can also search for podcasts and other content to teach the app about what you want and get it instantly.” Read the whole TechCrunch story here.
Cumulus Media Honors Youngstown Cluster with President’s Cup. The corporate prize for best sales performance for the second quarter of 2014 at Cumulus Media goes to the company’s Youngstown, Ohio eight-station group as it receives the coveted President’s Cup. Each quarter, one market is recognized for its overall performance among the company’s 90 radio markets. The Youngstown staff (pictured here) that operates country WQXK “K105,” CHR WHOT “Hot 101,” news/talk WPIC, news/talk WSOM, classic rock WYFM “Y103,” rock WWIZ “Rock 104,” and sports talk simulcast WBBW-AM/WLLF-FM will share the $10,000 prize. Vice president and market manager Rick Parrish says, “I am very proud of the success our Youngstown sales team, programming team and support staff have achieved with our eight radio stations that serve northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania. Our team set the goal to bring the Cumulus President’s Cup to Youngstown, and through hustle and hard work, we did it!” Cumulus EVP and Co-COO John Pinch adds, “The team in Youngstown has performed at record levels this year and is well deserving of this award. To win the President’s Cup requires contribution from every person at every level in the cluster. Congratulations, Cumulus Youngstown!”
Cool Job Opportunity. Greater Media Charlotte is seeking talented sales people to work in the Charlotte Market at news/talk WBT-AM/FM and hot AC WLNK “107.9 The Link.” Greater Media is seeking applicants with: quantifiable success in radio/media sales or another industry; the drive, hunger, and ability to see the sales process through from prospecting to the final close; courage to ask for and deliver remarkable programs; a love and passion for winning; integrity and pride in being a full-service rep; new business expertise and a creative mind; a desire to exceed expectations and move up quickly; independent and entrepreneurial performers; excellent verbal and written communication skills. At Greater Media Charlotte, you will be surrounded by people who love to have fun and work extremely hard. We offer great benefits and lots of incentives for self-starters, while enjoying the stability of a privately owned media company with two of Charlotte’s best radio stations. If you think you are ready for the next step in your career and think you have the talent to make it happen, we want you on our team! Send your resume and a cover letter to: Sandra Szoke, director of sales, Greater Media Charlotte, Inc., WBT/WLNK Radio, One Julian Price Place, Charlotte, NC 28208; firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls please. Greater Media Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Gaza Violence/New Anti-Semitism, Flight 17 Probe/Russian Influence in Ukraine, Immigration Policy Debate/Child Illegals Influx, Pentagon Afghanistan Waste Report, Ebola Fears, and Ray Rice Suspension Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/28). The continuing violence in the Gaza Strip and increased incidences of anti-Semitism in Europe; Russia’s influence in the Ukraine and the effort to fully investigate the downing of Flight 17; debate over the immigration policy in the U.S. and the influx of illegal minors entering the country; the recent Pentagon report detailing billions in spending waste in Afghanistan; renewed fears of an Ebola virus outbreak; and outrage over the two-game suspension NFL star Ray Rice received after knocking his wife unconscious in a domestic dispute were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Limbaugh Commenting on Colbert’s Hiring: “War on the Heartland of America.” Clearly – not everyone was doing cartwheels regarding yesterday’s announcement that CBS-TV has selected Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as “Late Show” host when Letterman departs sometime next year. Colbert will gear up for the new assignment by retiring his fake conservative persona (which he has described as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot”) on Comedy Central‘s “Colbert Report” at the end of this year. Perhaps the most vociferous and vitriolic public comments concerning the late-night succession involving Colbert were made by Rush Limbaugh on Thursday’s (4/10) Premiere Networks broadcast. He claims that CBS-TV’s hiring of Colbert has, “declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservative values. Now it is just out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny, and a redefinition of what is comedy, and they’re blowing up the 11:30 format.” Limbaugh and Letterman are hardly allies, yet Limbaugh noted that, “The world is changing – people don’t want the kind of comedy that Carson gave us, or even Letterman gave us. It is the media planting a flag. There is no unity in this hire.” Furthermore, Limbaugh contends that CBS-TV has, “hired a partisan, [a] so-called comedian, to run a comedy show.”
WABC, New York’s John Batchelor to Debut Author Video Series on WABCradio.com. WABC, New York and WestwoodOne syndicated talk show host John Batchelor begins a new online video program titled “John Batchelor Author Series” (sponsored by online bookseller Entitle) in which he “takes his appreciation of literature, history, and political intrigue to a new level” via long-form interviews with today’s most intriguing authors. Batchelor comments, “I used to be an author, and I enjoy the enthusiasm of hearing in depth of a new book, well told by the person who survived the research, the writing and the publishing. It’s fun for me to learn the stories of the making of the stories.” WABC program director Craig Schwalb states, “No one does books better than John Batchelor, and the ‘Author Series’ proves that. This is a natural extension of John’s passion and we hope that his listeners in New York and across the country will enjoy it.” The program launches with an in-depth interview of Thomas Cahill the author of Heretics and Heroes. Future episodes include: Robert Klara author of FDR’s Funeral Train, Eri Hotta author of Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy and George H. Nash author of The Crusade Years 1933-1955. Fresh episodes will appear weekly on wabcradio.com.
KARN-FM, Little Rock Names PD; Seeks Afternoon Host. Little Rock news/talker KARN-FM names Adam Thomas program director for the station and the Arkansas Radio Network. Thomas takes over for longtime PD and PM drive host Dave Elswick who, along with morning host Bob Steel and news director Jack Heinritz, exited the station last week. Thomas is seeking a new afternoon drive personality for the station and says, “The afternoon show should be a compelling blend of information and entertainment. Opinion and point-of-view are important, but this program must appeal to a broad segment of the Little Rock community. Candidates must have a mastery of current events, a relentless curiosity, and the ability and desire to talk about more than politics. A willingness and ability to engage the audience outside the show via personal appearances, digital media and other channels is a must.” Send resumes and airchecks or links to email@example.com with “Little Rock PM Host” in the subject line. Cumulus Media is an EOE.
Former Governor, WTIC Host John Rowland Indicted on Federal Elections Violations Charges. A week after former Connecticut Governor John Rowland resigned from his afternoon drive talk show on CBS RADIO’s WTIC, Hartford, he has been indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts related to alleged illegal campaign activity. Rowland, who resigned from the governor’s office in 2004 and eventually served 10 months in prison after being charged with corruption, is this time accused of scheming to work for two Connecticut political campaigns and trying to conceal from both the public and the Federal Elections Commission that he was being paid by the campaigns.
WTJK, Janesville to Flip to News/Talk. The newly acquired Janesville, Wisconsin sports talker that Scott Thompson’s Big Radio purchased from Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Broadcasting is flipping to news/talk as “The Big AM 1380” beginning Monday, April 14. The station – an ESPN Radio outlet under Good Karma’s ownership – will focus on local content and Scott Thompson will host the morning drive show. The rest of the day will feature: Glenn Smith from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, Andrew Liebetrau & Andy Gannon from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, Tony Huml from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and Sly from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Program director Andrew Liebetrau comments, “We are incredibly excited to do more for our local listeners, partners and communities. Not only will we have a lot of great new and local content, but we will continue to offer some of the great local programs we have had for years.”
Odds & Sods. Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer is producing a weekly podcast for Sports USA Network. Sports USA president Bob Moore says, “Jake Plummer is a true superstar with a huge following in the college and pro football sports world. We are excited to add Jake’s show to our growing list of digital audio programs as we continue to produce current, fresh, and informative sports programming.” Plummer is currently an NFL game analyst on Sports USA’s “Sunday Doubleheader” package as well as a college football analyst on the Pac-12 Television Network…..Alison Cuddy exits Chicago Public Media-owned WBEZ, Chicago where she has been serving as arts & culture reporter and producer. She leaves to become program director for the Chicago Humanities Festival…..The “Sports Business Radio” show, hosted by creator Brian Berger, celebrates its 10th year on the air. It debuted on KXL, Portland and then moved to national syndication via Sports Byline USA Network.
Meet the New Boss. The New York-based staff of ABC News Radio poses for a photo with newly named ABC News president James Goldston (at center). Goldston was given a standing ovation by the ABC News Radio staff when he visited them today just hours after getting the top job at the network. Goldston, most recently senior vice president overseeing content and development, succeeds Ben Sherwood who is stepping down from the president position in a few weeks after assisting Goldston during the transition phase.
ObamaCare Criticism Top Talk Story for Week of April 7-11. The ongoing scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act was again the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. At #2 was the 2016 presidential race tied with this fall’s mid-term elections. Following at #3 was global warming and at #4 was the move to charge former IRS official Lois Lerner with contempt tied with Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation as Health and Human Services Secretary. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
WBZ, Boston and WBZ-TV Win Peabody Award for Marathon Bombing Coverage. The CBS-owned television station and all-news radio outlet are being honored with a 2013 George Foster Peabody Award for overall excellence for their combined coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. The citation from the Peabody Awards states: “Out in force to cover the annual marathon, both WBZ-TV and Newsradio 1030 had a journalistic advantage when the bombs detonated. Neither gave it up as their reporters spent hour after hour on the air providing wide-ranging, enterprising, non-sensational coverage of the casualties, the suspects and the intense, nerve-wracking manhunt. They become crucial sources not just to their city but to a stunned nation.” The awards will be delivered during the ceremony to take place in New York on May 19.
WABC, New York Covers Final Four. As the battle to claim the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship title continues this weekend, Cumulus Media news/talker WABC, New York covers it from Dallas with Geraldo show regulars Noam Laden and Jared Max sitting in for Geraldo live from radio row on Friday and Monday from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. They will also produce a special wabcradio.com only broadcast slated for Saturday April 5 at 10:00 am ET. WABC also partnered with WestwoodOne for a series of March Madness promotions including the Greatest Moments in Tournament History vignettes and an exclusive fly-away promotion to the Men’s National Championship game. Program director Craig Schwalb says, “Working with WestwoodOne on these opportunities is a huge win for our listeners and clients. Our audience is into the excitement, the personalities, and the stories surrounding the Final Four, and so is 77 WABC!”
‘102.5 The Bone’ Tampa Personality Cowhead to Drop Nickname; Seek Syndication Deal. In a piece in the Tampa Bay Times, WHPT, Tampa afternoon drive personality Mike Calta – who goes by the nickname Cowhead on the radio – says he will give up the sobriquet and begin the next phase of his career using his real name as of April 14. In fact, he’ll host an on-air funeral for the moniker. He tells the paper, “When I started at the ‘Power Pig,’ everybody had those types of names. I was Big Mike for a while but that didn’t really stick. Then they asked me if I ever had any nicknames in high school and I remembered that a few people called me Cowhead and it sort of stuck. The minute I said it I immediately regretted it…I think times change. Even the ‘Power Pig’ changed its name. As times change and you age, it just gets silly.” Calta also tells the Times that his contract with Cox Media is up in June and he’s looking to have a syndication deal be part of negotiations.
CBS Revamps Radio.com. Calling it part of the evolution of CBS Local Digital Media, the company announces the debut of the new Radio.com. The company says in a statement, “Four years ago, we launched our new digital media business, rethinking the way CBS’s radio and television stations operate online and in the mobile space. Since then, we have evolved into the largest digital business in local broadcast media. There are few companies that have the radio, television, digital, out-of-home, and events platforms we do, and as a result we’re able to better leverage our local market properties with national scale. As leaders in integrating digital and traditional media into experiences that resonate with consumers, we take our next step forward in that regard with the debut of the new Radio.com website and streaming player. More than just live audio and video simulcasts of our stations, Radio.com presents original programming, live webcasts, exclusive editorial features and storytelling, and interviews with some of the biggest artists and personalities in the world. Indeed, we have taken a different strategy than others in the industry by recognizing that this ‘other’ content has tremendous value to our audiences. The popularity of our programs has demonstrated our thinking is correct.” Highlights of the new Radio.com include: a fresh look and feel, with improved interactivity; ability to be embedded on other sites; improved ad insertion capabilities; better-quality playback and streaming; program schedules available in real-time; expanded social media opportunities; play history; artist and track information integration; simple song purchase; and enhanced station guide and navigation experience. CBS promises updated mobile apps in the coming months.
Beck’s TheBlaze TV Added to Cable ONE Menu. It’s another cable company addition for Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze TV. His 24/7 news, opinion and entertainment network channel is being added to Cable ONE. A statement from TheBlaze says Cable ONE is America’s 11th largest cable operator. This addition gives the TheBlaze TV “distribution on 54 television providers nationwide including seven of the top 30.” Cable ONE serves customers in 42 markets in 19 states, including Biloxi/Gulfport, Boise, Phoenix/Prescott, and Sioux City, among others. Cable ONE vice president of marketing Joe Falbab says, “We are very excited about adding TheBlaze to the Cable ONE lineup. Our customers have requested this channel and we are happy to be able to respond to that request. We are committed to listening to our customers and will continue to deliver to them the best possible programming.”
Emmis Reports Q4 Revenue Up 11%. Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corporation operates on a fiscal year calendar and its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter ended February 28, 2014. The company reports that its Q4 revenue jumped to $32.4 million from $29.1 million a year prior. If you cut out WEPN, New York (which is being operated by ESPN under an LMA), revenue was up 12% for the quarter. For the full year fiscal 2014, net radio revenue hit the $145.4 million mark realizing an increase in net revenue of 5% over 2013. In a press release this morning, the company reports “these results also outperformed Emmis’ local radio markets in which revenue growth improved 3% for the year.” President and CEO Jeff Smulyan comments, “Fiscal 2014 marked the fourth consecutive year we have outperformed our local radio markets and the radio industry as a whole. Our strong operating performance is the result of sound strategy and its execution by a phenomenal workforce that makes me so proud. We are very excited about the addition of WBLS and WLIB in New York and the momentum behind NextRadio as we head into fiscal 2015.”
NAB Radio Board Election Results. The results of the NAB Radio Board election are in and the members who will serve two-year terms beginning in June are: Pete Booker, president and CEO, Delmarva Broadcasting Company; Steven Cutler, EVP business development and corporate strategy, Clear Channel; Gary Exline, general manager, Eagle Communications, Inc.; Kim Guthrie, EVP, Cox Media Group; Erik Hellum, EVP, Townsquare Media; Deon Levingston, SVP/market manager, Emmis Communications; Margaret Perkins, president and CEO, First Natchez Radio Group; Mary Quass, president and CEO, NRG Media, LLC; Joe Schwartz, president and CEO, Cherry Creek Radio; Jose Valle, president, Univision Radio; Thomas Walker, president, Mid-West Family Broadcasting.
Odds & Sods. The WPHT Speaker Series – produced by CBS RADIO news/talk WPHT, Philadelphia – continues this evening (4/3) as station personality Dom Giordano interviews Tea Party leader, former Florida Congressman and veteran Lt. Col. Allen West at Valley Forge Military Academy and College. West is the author of the new book Guardian of the Republic…..Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP, Washington is sponsoring its “Click for a Cause” online contest that will give Washington, D.C. non-profits the chance to win cash and free commercial air time on WTOP. There will be three grand prizes of $10,000 each with runners up winning $5,000 worth of commercials to advertise their cause on WTOP…..WELW, Willoughby, Ohio changes its calls and brand. The Spirit Broadcasting-owned station is using the WINT calls and has branded the station “1330 WINTegrity Radio.” Station president Ray Somich says the change comes ahead of a major expansion to take place this summer. The station has served communities to the east of Cleveland for the past 50 years.
Deadly Fort Hood Shooting, ObamaCare Criticism, SCOTUS Campaign Donor Limits Ruling, Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Race, Russian Aggression and House Benghazi Hearing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/2). The shooting at Fort Hood that claimed the lives of four and the preliminary investigation; scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and criticism of the White House “victory” presser; the Supreme Court ruling killing limits on personal campaign donations; speculation about political power shifts after the mid-term elections and the possible candidates for president in 2016; worries over Russia’s plans for Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc nations and President Obama’s tactics versus Vladimir Putin; and the Congressional hearings on the Benghazi incident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Iconic Talk Show Host Bob Grant Dead at 84. Just months after retiring from his weekend talk show at WABC, New York, Bob Grant passed away on New Year’s Eve after what’s being described as a brief illness. Grant began his talk radio career at KABC in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s but rose to fame when he came to New York and began a regular talk show at WMCA in 1970. Grant’s career saw him move around the New York radio dial; he worked at WABC and WOR and – for a time – WWDB-FM, Philadelphia. He is regularly cited by today’s conservative talk radio practitioners as the man who pioneered the opinionated, call-it-as-you-see-it style of issues-oriented talk radio upon which the modern era of the format was built. Read more about his legendary career here.
Curtis & Kuby Return to WABC, New York. Cumulus Media names Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby midday talk hosts at WABC, New York – returning one of the most popular local talk teams to the station where they first worked together more than 13 years ago. The Curtis & Kuby show aired on WABC from 2000 to 2007 pairing the conservative Sliwa with the ultra-liberal Kuby for a show that was very successful. Cumulus COO John Dickey says in a statement, “We’re delivering on our pledge to invest in localized content that will entertain, inform and engage listeners while also providing advertisers unique opportunities to reach their customers on a sustained basis. Sliwa adds, “Ever since I left 77 WABC, everywhere I go people have asked me if and when I would ever reunite with Ron Kuby, because that was a great show! At a time when New Yorkers are starved for information and entertainment, I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to offer it to them on the greatest news/talk station this country has ever seen.” And Kuby comments, “I am thrilled to be back at legendary 77 WABC radio with the Curtis & Kuby show — it is a new day for New York City and a new afternoon for New York radio!” Sliwa has most recently been hosting both morning and afternoon shows at Salem’s crosstown WNYM “AM 970 The Answer.” In addition to the Curtis & Kuby show, Cumulus is adding a local hour from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm hosted by NY1 TV anchor Pat Kiernan. Kiernan states, “My first broadcasting job was in radio so this is a natural way for me to extend my connection with New Yorkers. I see this as a great way for listeners to reconnect after the workday. We’re going to hit the big local stories, but we also want to plug into the conversation of the day. That can include anything from pop culture to sports to the hot topic on Twitter.” These moves come as the station transitions the late morning Geraldo Rivera show to local content and adds the Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated Michael Savage for the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm slot.
WABC, New York Names Craig Schwalb PD; Tony Mascaro Takes WPRO, Providence Programming Post. Along with the programming changes announced above, Cumulus Media announces Craig Schwalb is being promoted to program director of WABC, New York from the company’s WPRO, Providence. At the same time, Tony Mascaro moves from his operations manager post at WABC to program director of WPRO and sister business news outlet WPRV. The company states that Schwalb has nearly two decades of news, talk and sports programming experience with roles held in markets including New York City, Detroit, St. Louis and Raleigh. Prior to joining Cumulus, Schwalb was the senior director of talk programming for SiriusXM. Schwalb says, “WABC has inspired countless broadcasters over the years and to now lead WABC into its next phase will be an absolute pleasure. Without a doubt, working alongside Cumulus NYC market manager Kim Bryant, COO John Dickey, SVP programming Mike McVay and corporate program director Randall Bloomquist, will be an honor.” Speaking about his return to Providence, Mascaro comments, “I am thrilled to be returning to Providence where it all started for me. WPRO-AM is a legendary radio station with an amazing line-up of talent. I wish everyone at WABC continued success for the future. Thanks to John Dickey, Mike McVay, Randall Bloomquist and Providence market manager Barbara Haynes for this opportunity to program a heritage radio station in a great radio market.”
Sean Hannity to Air Live on KVI, Seattle. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated superstar Sean Hannity returns to Seattle’s “Talk Radio 570” KVI today airing live in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. This marks a reunion with the station on which his show debuted in 2001. Program director Paul Duckworth states, “We’re thrilled to bring Sean back to KVI. Listeners deserve to hear Sean’s program live and get the most up-to-the-minute news, information and analysis.” Hannity adds, “From the very first day I went on the air and that red light went on, I have been in love with radio. I’m thrilled, excited, ecstatic, exuberant to be back on America’s original conservative talk station, ‘Talk Radio 570 KVI.’” In addition, “The Hannity Encore” will air on the station Sundays from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
WIND, Chicago Expands Morning Show; Adds Sean Hannity. Salem Communications-owned news/talk WIND, Chicago announces the expansion of the morning drive show co-hosted by Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson plus the addition of Premiere’s Sean Hannity show to the lineup. Beginning Monday, January 6, Bill Bennett‘s “Morning in America” returns live to the station for the 5:00 am to 6:00 am hour. Howell and Jacobson will air in the expanded 6:00 am to 11:00 am slot. Westwood One’s Dennis Miller remains in the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm slot but now airs live. Sean Hannity also airs live from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. WIND general manager Jeff Reisman comments, “Sean Hannity is an ideal fit on ‘AM 560 The Answer.’ Sean is one of the premier news/talk personalities and his style will fit nicely with our outstanding lineup of local and national hosts.”
WGN, Chicago Gives David Kaplan New Contract. Talk host and reporter David Kaplan inks a new, multi-year contract with Tribune’s WGN, Chicago. Kaplan hosts the eponymous nightly sports talk show that airs from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm and serves as afternoon drive sports reporter as well as host of the Cubs and Blackhawks Confidential programs. Kaplan comments, “It’s a thrill to continue my career at WGN Radio where I have spent the last 18-plus years. I’m thankful to work for the best mind in radio, Jimmy de Castro, and I’m blessed to be able to talk sports in my hometown of Chicago on the best radio station in America.” De Castro adds, “We are driven to deliver live and local programming to our listeners. Kap has his finger on the pulse of Chicago sports and we’re excited for him to be a part of our multi-dimensional future.”
Marc James Goes Solo at “The Fan” in Charlotte. CBS RADIO announces WFNZ, Charlotte “Sports Radio 610 The Fan” afternoon drive personality Marc James begins hosting the afternoon drive slot on the station solo as former co-host Taylor Zarzour leaves the show to host “Bleacher Report Radio” on SiriusXM‘s sports zone channel. James and Zarzour had been co-hosting “The Drive” since they were paired up in 2011. The station says Zarzour will continue to remain a part of the WFNZ family by calling into the show with Marc weekly. Zarzour says, “I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity that OM DJ Stout and market manager Bill Schoening gave me at WFNZ. I am extremely proud of the success that we had in my three years on the show and have no doubt Marc and the crew will continue to grow the audience. I am excited about my next opportunity but will continue to be a part of the WFNZ family.” The show’s other cast members include The Q.C.B., Hitman, and Jayweezie. Stout says, “Although it is bittersweet to see Taylor go, he has done a great job for us and we will miss his talent and professionalism. We’re excited for Marc to take on this opportunity. He is a top notch talent and we look forward to him taking The Drive to the next level.” James comments, “Taylor Zarzour is probably the hardest working person in sports talk radio. He made me a better host, but more importantly a better man. I look forward to taking ‘Sports Radio 610 WFNZ the Fan’ to unparalleled heights in the future. Charlotte is hands down one of the best sports towns in America and we will continue to make Charlotte proud to call WFNZ THE best sports talk station in the city.”
The Miracle of “A Christmas Story.” Ever the radio historian, noted media consultant Walter Sabo reminds us about the power of story-telling as an audience-building device. In a new column posted today (1/2) Sabo discusses the movie “A Christmas Story” which was based on the synthesis of dozens of radio monologues created and delivered by the late and legendary talker Jean Shepherd. Shepherd broadcast on WOR, New York from 1958-1975. His nightly monologues were not bedtime stories. According to Sabo, they were subversive proclamations, challenging authority wrapped in imagery of American traditions. Shepherd worked without a script, but with massive prep. Some of his shows took months to come to fruition in his imagination. He recorded every show. The importance of Shepherd’s work is that it was not on NPR or an obscure station. WOR was the number one station in audience and revenue in America through most of his reign. It was a talk station that appealed primarily to women—about 70% of the cume was female. About 70% of the hosts were women. There were many other dominant talk stations at the time that appealed primarily to women such as KMOX, WCCO, WGN and WBZ. Shepherd’s audience was young, more male. His show often presented a youngster’s perspective on the idiocy of authority, success, day-people and capitalism. He bashed advertising, radio, television and anything that was mainstream or plastic. In other words he trashed, on every level, the success of his employer: The number one radio station in America owned by General Tire and Rubber. He did that every night. There is much contemporary talk broadcasters can learn from this slice of radio history. To read Sabo’s entire piece, please click here.
Nieslen Audio December PPM Data Released. The December 2013 PPM ratings data has been released by Nielsen Audio. Numbers for all 48 PPM-rated markets have been made public and that information can be found at the site of TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo. Check out the main page for managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian’s “Takeaways” here or go straight to the full ratings data here.
Coming Next Week: The 2014 International CES. Media consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke will report from next week’s 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He teases the event asking, “How dizzying is the-pace-of-change?” Media are now asked NOT to refer to this massive, mind-boggling event as “The Consumer Electronics Show,” because whassup here has transcended hardware.
Sure, there’ll be gadgets aplenty in an exhibit hall bigger than 30 football fields, many of ‘em obsoleting whatever seemed so-cutting-edge last year. But many of the ways technology is changing our everyday lives are…invisible, “The Internet of Things.”
Yes, the Amazon drone story was a publicity stunt.
But 62% of Internet traffic is now robots.
Maybe your refrigerator isn’t (yet) auto-ordering milk; and none of us are riding driver-less cars.
Yet already, patients can enable doctors to monitor real-time vital signs.
Soon, your alarm clock could wake you earlier if the route you commute has a traffic tangle. And your thermostat will auto-adjust, based on the changing weather forecast. Traditional radio information hooks are no longer franchises. If you think I’m exaggerating, look at your iPhone.
Come along, virtually…
Look for my coverage here next week in TALKERS and RadioInfo; and follow my real-time Tweets @HollandCooke. I’ll also be reporting for the Jim Bohannon show and “America in the Morning,” and on my client stations.
And it’ll be a ‘Vegas convention two-fer. Again this year, I’ll also be covering NMX, the New Media Expo, formerly “Blogworld,” before-that “The Podcast & New Media Expo,” which, a decade ago, already drew twice-as-many attendees as radio conventions.
With media consumers now in on-demand pick-N-choose mode — and with advertising and marketing money flowing to the digital platform — these internet content creators’ work is now instructive to what TALKERS and RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison has termed broadcast stations’ “survival and ‘thrival.’”
Norm Pattiz to Keynote NMX 2014. Speaking of the New Media Expo, Courtside Entertainment Group CEO Norm Pattiz will be among the three media execs keynoting the conference when it gets underway this weekend in Las Vegas. Speaking alongside tech expert Leo Laporte and Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok, Pattiz – Westwood One founder and CEO of Podcast One – will address the former Blogworld conference at 9:00 am on Monday, January 6. The title of the keynote address is “The Future of Podcasting.”
WMYT, Wilmington Adds Programming. Talk Media TV-owned news/talk WMYT, Wilmington, North Carolina announces program additions to is schedule beginning with its “Super Saturdays” lineup. The station says the new addition to its “Super Saturdays,” which consists of eight local shows, is “The Car Doctor with Val Boudreau.” Also, the station announces it is bringing the new “The Blaze News” regular news updates to listeners airing every 15 minutes, saying “’The Blaze News’ spots, in addition to our Fox Business News spots, will expand our national news content and coverage!” WMYT is also adding Premiere Networks’ Andy Dean to the daily schedule airing weeknights from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
Austin Sports Talker KTXX-FM Purchased By Local Group. The Austin American-Statesman reports that longtime market media personality Bob Cole heads up an ownership group that is purchasing sports talk KTXX-FM “The Horn” and its sister AM signal KWNX from Total Austin Sports Radio for an undisclosed sum. Cole – who serves as the Texas Longhorns stadium announcer and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Texas Radio Hall of Fame – tells the paper the station will remain sports but that “We’re going to do something a little different, that fills a hole that no one else in the market is filling.” Earlier this year the group purchased country outlet KOKE where Cole hosts the morning show.
Odds & Sods. Clear Channel changes the call letters of KTLK, Los Angeles to KEIB – a nod to its new centerpiece, Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh, whose Excellence in Broadcasting network moniker is often shortened to EIB. The station flipped from progressive talk to conservative talk as of today (1/2) and the station’s brand is “The Patriot.” Limbaugh moved over from sister news/talk KFI…..CBS RADIO’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94 WIP” is giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday night’s Eagles-Saints NFC Wild Card game at Lincoln Financial Field to the person “who needs them the most.” The station is telling listeners to make a banner that says “94WIP I Need Eagles Playoff Tickets,” make it big, creative and hang it where WIP can see – as long as it’s legal. On Friday afternoon, the station will send its spotters out to select the best banner and will award the tickets accordingly…..ESPN Radio returns to the Columbia, South Carolina market after a 17-month absence on L&L Broadcasting’s WOIC “ESPN Columbia 1230 AM.” WOIC flipped from news/talk on January 1 and is carrying much of the ESPN Radio lineup. It will also air local programs “The Zone” hosted by Duane “The Shot Doctor” Everett from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and “Sports Hotline” with Bobby Gist and Ernest Robinson from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm…..The “Positive Business with Patricia Raskin” show announces the addition of new co-host Lynda Adams. “Positive Business” airs every Friday from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on business talk WPRV, Providence where it’s been heard for the past four years.
TALKERS Spotlight: THE WATCHDOGS
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Contrasted to national talk radio hosts who can sometimes get deeply mired in a monotonous right against left (or vice versa) onslaught, many of their local counterparts emerge as bona fide folk heroes for standing up against a coterie of injustices inflicted on their fellow residents.
Actions taken by this band of “watchdogs,” in the overwhelming number of instances, have nothing to do with political leanings or a partisan playbook.
Legendary for rooting out the “bad guys,” afternoon talk hosts “John & Ken” (John Kobylt & Ken Champiou) expose what they consider dirty dealings to their very large audience on Los Angeles’ KFI. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, WRKO, Boston’s Howie Carr is a thorn in the side of the “powers that be” in New England. Everywhere in between, intense professional satisfaction comes when they go toe-to-toe with pit bull-like tenacity against the establishment. In that same sort of imagery, “hold their feet to the fire” has actually become a talk radio slogan as on-air talents attempt to expose and defeat “the bad guys.”
Merlin Media Ends FM News Operations in New York and Chicago. Industry watchers are beginning the post-mortem on Merlin Media’s all-news formats at WIQI, Chicago and WEMP, New York after yesterday’s announcement by the company that it is flipping the two signals to classic hits and alternative rock, respectively. In making the announcement, Merlin president Randy Michaels stated, “It was a difficult decision to make, but after a year of minimal audience engagement, coupled with the format’s inherent expense, I felt it was time to make a change.” Perhaps the most obvious challenge to the endeavor was the fact that in both Chicago and New York, Michaels’ stations were going up against entrenched news stations in markets that didn’t seem to be crying out for more radio news, primarily because they are already being served by well-respected and well-listened-to all-news outlets. WBBM-AM/FM, Chicago and WCBS and WINS in New York were tough opponents to challenge in the radio news game – not to mention the public radio stations in both markets that have loyal audiences and dedicate resources to covering local news. The ratings for the two stations seemed to bear that out. The initial concept of trying to reach women with a news product fell flat. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told the Chicago Tribune, “When you say, ‘This is for women and here’s what we’re talking about,’ it can come across as insulting. It’s presumptuous.” Harrison also told the paper, “To reinvent the wheel, when in fact the wheel is not broken, is difficult.” He said the station’s focus on stereotypically female topics like cooking, fashion and child rearing also turned off listeners. There are reports 27 staffers are out in Chicago with a similar number in New York, leaving a host of veteran radio news people looking for their next opportunity this morning. Meanwhile, another wrinkle to this story pertains to industry rumors and speculation that Merlin had plans to eventually morph its New York and possibly Chicago all-newsers into traditional news/talkers. The recent addition of Rush Limbaugh to Philadelphia property WWIQ after his departure from CBS Radio‘s WPHT had tongues wagging about the possibility of such a move happening in New York when Cumulus Media‘s contract with Premiere Networks for Limbaugh on WABC ends – especially with Cumulus developing Mike Huckabee (currently airing on crosstown competitor WOR) as a more “civil” alternative to Limbaugh. This brings up another question: Are the Merlin moves to music just a temporary measure?
Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Draws Intense Traffic to Talkers.com; Testament to Sports Talk Format’s Popularity. The recently published Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America, has generated so much traffic to Talkers.com that – at times – navigation on the site slowed to a crawl, forcing the IT staff at Talkers.com to increase the site’s bandwidth to accommodate the visitors. This massive interest in America’s sports talk radio personalities is indicative of the format’s popularity with both consumers and from within the media industry. TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey states, “Sports talk radio is off-the-charts popular in so many markets across the country – reflecting the importance of sports in American popular culture. The interest in the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk from people working within the business is one thing, but the attention from consumers of sports talk and the rabid sports blogosphere is astounding. The passion that exists for the format, the personalities, as well as the games and athletes themselves, shows why this talk radio genre is such an effective marketing tool for businesses at the local and national level.” The 2012 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk can be found here.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO, Providence Names Craig Schwalb Program Director. Craig Schwalb comes to Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO and 99.7 (and sister WPRV) in Providence from SiriusXM where he served as senior director of talk programming. He’s also worked at WKRK, Detroit; WNEW, New York; WRBZ, Raleigh; and EZ Communications, St. Louis. He replaces Paul Giammarco who recently resigned from the station. Cumulus SVP Mike McVay states, “We are excited to have Craig join Cumulus. We want the freshest and best minds in the industry…and he is clearly among the best.” Speaking about his new opportunity, Schwalb says, “The chance to program one of the country’s legendary radio stations, complete with great talent, a great news presence and great influence in a terrific city was a no brainer for me and my family. I am looking forward to working with Providence market manager Barbara Haynes and of course John Dickey, Mike McVay, Jim Mahaney, and everyone at Cumulus.”
Recent Affiliate Adds Push America’s Radio News Network Past 300 Mark. In fact, when combined with the TRN/Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” program, the affiliate total jumps past 320 for the news programming offered by Talk Radio Network’s ARNN. The content syndicator notes that recent affiliate additions in Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Memphis; Ft. Myers/Naples; Charleston, South Carolina; and others for the five three-hour news block programs are indicative of the strong demand for quality news-oriented radio content.
Talk Host Andrew Wilkow to Host Prime Time Show on TheBlaze. The online TV network TheBlaze – a digital product of Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company – announces SiriusXM talk personality Andrew Wilkow will host a new, one-hour news and talk show to debut later this summer. TheBlaze says the exact start date and the name of the program will be announced later. TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood states, “TheBlaze is building a primetime lineup filled with both established talent and the voices of the future. Andrew Wilkow’s strong independence and ‘no sacred cows’ approach to the news, issues and events of the day are perfect fits for TheBlaze as we continue to expand our programming.” TheBlaze notes it already produces three hours of prime time shows including “the comedy news show ‘The B.S. of A,’ the reality show ‘Independence USA’ and other programming throughout the day led by Glenn’s show, the news show ‘Real News’ and the kid’s show ‘Liberty TreeHouse.’ The network airs over 35 hours of original programming per week and will soon provide video content on a 24/7 basis.”
Talk Icon Larry King’s Internet TV Show Debuts. Larry King’s new internet TV show – a 30–minute news and interview show – debuted last night with Seth McFarlane as his first guest. The program is a joint venture between Hulu and Ora TV. Ora TV is a digital venture being funded by Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim Helu. In a statement about the new program, Larry King says, “I have always been driven to innovate, from my time on radio, to the first call-in show on national television to being an early adopter of online columns and Twitter…I love being able to interact directly with audiences and digital TV allows me to do this in new and powerful ways.” This evening, King’s guest will be Meghan McCain with actor Matthew McConaughey on tap for Thursday’s show.
2012 Presidential Campaign, Summer Heatwave/Crops Threatened, Negative Economic Forecasts, Global Debt Crisis and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/17). The 2012 presidential campaign; the nationwide summer heat wave and the threat to the corn and grains crops; negative economic forecasts; the global debt crisis and the financial markets activities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.