Alpha Media Announces Intent to Purchase Digity Radio Stations. This deal has been rumored for some time so it’s not a big surprise. The proposed acquisition of Digity LLC’s 116 stations in 26 markets, after approval from the DOJ and the FCC, will bring Portland, Oregon-based Alpha Media’s station total to 251 in 54 markets. Alpha Media chairman Larry Wilson says, “We are extremely pleased to be acquiring from exceptional operators and management who truly understand radio. Dean [Goodman] and his team have done a tremendous job with these stations. They will be a great addition to our live-and-local vision across the country.” Digity CEO Dean Goodman comments, “Larry Wilson and I have a shared vision for the radio renaissance in progress now. Radio is live, local media enhanced by digital delivery and community focused events. Our success is the result of an employee environment of collaboration, transparency and innovation. I am honored to have worked with the great broadcasters at Digity and the dynamic growth they’ve created. Digity and Alpha are a perfect match.” Digity has focused on medium and small market operations. The largest of its 26 markets are Palm Beach, San Jose, Canton, and Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville, North Carolina. It also operates 11 outlets in suburban Chicago markets. For a complete station list, click here.
Townsquare Media Q2 Up 10.6% Powered by Live Events. The company went public just last summer – on July 24 – and financial data from the second quarter of 2015 indicates Townsquare Media’s 10.6% net revenue increase compared to the same period a year ago, comes on the strength of its live events sector. Live events net revenue was up 50.4% while local advertising revenue rose just 0.6% (1.5% ex political). Townsquare chairman and CEO Steven Price states, “We believe our second quarter net revenue growth of 10.6% highlights the strength of our diversified revenue strategy. We saw growth in each of our operating segments in the second quarter, particularly within our live events segment, which grew over 50% over the prior year. Local advertising net revenue increased primarily as a result of an increase in non-political local advertising net revenue of $1.2 million, which was partially offset by decreases in political local advertising net revenue of $0.7 million. Live events net revenue grew primarily as a result of increases in attendance and revenue per attendee of our live events, including three new music festivals. Other media and entertainment net revenue grew primarily as a result of increases within our digital marketing services offering.”
Townsquare to Sell 43 Towers to Vertical Bridge. At the same time as it reports its 2015 Q2 numbers, Townsquare Media announces it has entered into an agreement to sell 43 towers to a subsidiary of Vertical Bridge Holdings, LLC for approximately $22.8 million in cash, subject to closing adjustments (the Tower Sale). Townsquare will retain ownership of more than 250 towers following this sale. The towers being divested are located on 41 sites in 28 markets and not only house the company’s radio station antenna but are rented by third parties for similar uses. Townsquare has a 35-year deal (an initial term of 20 years and three optional five-year renewal periods) during which it will pay $41 of rent per annum ($1 per site per annum) to Vertical Bridge for the right to house its existing antenna on the divested towers. Townsquare has also entered into an agreement with Vertical Bridge for Vertical Bridge to serve as the exclusive marketing agent for the towers retained by the company.
Dawn Girocco New LA Market Manager for Cumulus Media. Longtime Los Angeles radio sales pro Dawn Girocco has worked for iHeartMedia as GSM and CBS RADIO as VP/director of sales in the City of Angels. Now she crosses the street to serve as vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media’s classic rock KLOS and news/talk KABC. Cumulus Media SVP of operations Tom Schurr says, “I’ve known and respected Dawn for years. We competed in Houston and worked together at Clear Channel, and I couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with her again. She’s going to be a great leader for Cumulus LA.” Girocco comments, “I appreciate the opportunity to step up to the role of market manager for Cumulus in Los Angeles and the confidence that Tom and Lew [Dickey] have placed in me to drive results with these incredible properties.”
Drew Scott Named Executive Producer of Bubba the Love Sponge Show. The Bubba the Love Sponge program officially announces that Drew Scott is the new executive producer of the Tampa-based, syndicated program. “The revered morning show is looking to make some changes, and they feel Scott’s well-rounded radio career, experience working with affiliates, and contacts make him a perfect fit.” He’s been in the position since June 17. Scott is a Central Florida native who’s been working for Mid-West Family Broadcasting in Benton Harbor, Michigan at rock WIRX “Rock 107.” Scott says, “This opportunity would not have been possible without the management and staff at ‘Rock 107.’ I have grown as a programmer and professional during my time in Michigan and I am grateful to my on-air teams – Dave Doetsch, Gayle Olsen, Jim Gifford, Paul Layendecker, Tom Walker, Randy Hawke, and Tim Moore – for allowing me express my creativity on and off the air.”
USA Radio Network Adds Jason Stapleton to Weekend Programming. He founded his eponymous talk show that’s been available via YouTube, iTunes, and Stitcher Radio but now USA Radio Networks adds the Jason Stapleton program to its weekend lineup, airing live Saturdays at 3:00 pm ET, effective August 15. Stapleton is a former force reconnaissance Marine, entrepreneur, speaker and investor who has been a professional trader for over a decade. USA chief content officer Tim Maranville says, “Jason’s perspective and background are unique and impactful to listening audiences everywhere which makes him an excellent addition to our ever growing lineup of shows.” USA says that Stapleton’s “experience has led Jason to become a highly sought after authority on everything from military strategy and politics to economics. This makes him a rare expert whose unconventional insights offer a perspective not heard in mainstream political and economic discourse.”
Nielsen Audio Releases Second Round of July 2015 PPM Data. The second of four rounds of July 2015 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The July 2015 survey period covered June 18 through July 15. You can find the complete ratings from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS and RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Ten Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
Hubbard Radio Signs Up for Shazam for Radio. The Shazam for Radio service is described by Shazam and radio partner Sun Broadcast Group as “the first-ever interactive radio service designed for every station’s unique content.” The deal between Hubbard Radio and SBG means Shazam for Radio is being deployed on 19 stations in all seven Hubbard markets. Hubbard president and COO Drew Horowitz says, “All of us here at Hubbard Radio are thrilled to be partnering with the great team at Sun Broadcast Group and Shazam for Radio. As we continue to look to the future and new ways of connecting our great brands and the advertisers we serve with millions of our loyal listeners, we believe Shazam for Radio is a game changer.” SBG COO Julio Aponte says, “We are so pleased to be working with Hubbard Radio in bringing another level of interactivity to their great radio properties. Shazam For Radio will allow them to engage directly with their audience by giving them real-time access to all their content, personalities, promotions and advertisers. We look forward to working with Drew Horowitz and his great team of programmers and sales people.”
Odds & Sods. On Thursday (8/6), Salem Radio Networks personality Hugh Hewitt will host a special two-hour program titled, “SRN Presidential Debate Special,” airing from 11:06 pm to 1:00 am ET. SRN says Hewitt will provide analysis of both the “undercard” debate on FOX News Channel — featuring candidates who polled outside of the “Top 10”— as well as the “main event” debate featuring the “Top 10” contenders as determined by public opinion polls. Guests expected to appear on the show include: GOP presidential contenders Carly Fiorina (R-CA) and Dr. Ben Carson (R-MD); Dan Balz of The Washington Post; Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard; Guy Benson, news editor of Townhall.com; Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post; Eliana Johnson of National Review; Mary Katherine Ham, editor-at-large of HotAir.com; and others…..The Denver operations of iHeartMedia announce Crystalyn Portwood is named director of sports sales. The cluster serves as the flagship for play-by-play for the NFL’s Denver Broncos, MLB’s Colorado Rockies and the University of Colorado Buffalos…..FOX Sports Radio’s “Jay Mohr Sports” hits the road for a series of three remotes from NFL training camps. Mohr’s show visits the Denver Broncos on Friday (8/7); the San Diego Chargers on Monday, August 17; and the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, August 20.
2016 Presidential Candidates-Donald Trump Criticisms, Planned Parenthood Videos Scandal, Immigration Policy Debate, Battle Against ISIS and al Qaeda, Hillary Clinton Email Server Case, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/4). The activities of the candidates for president, Thursday’s GOP debate and criticism of Donald Trump; the ongoing controversy over the Planned Parenthood videos showing doctors discussing the price of tissue from aborted fetuses; the debate over America’s immigration policy; the military efforts to combat ISIS and al Qaeda; the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server; and the devastating wildfires in California were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Faces Suit by Photo Company Alleging Illegal Use. National Photo Group LLC has filed a complaint in United States District Court Western District of Texas alleging Clear Channel radio stations infringed on its copyrights by using pictures of various celebrities on the websites of some of its radio stations. The complaint names 11 CC radio stations and alleges photos of celebrities including Jason Aldean, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore and others were used without permission and with knowledge that the photos were copyrighted. NPG is seeking $150,000 per infringement plus legal fees and any other relief the Court deems just and proper.
WCBM, Baltimore Extends Talk Host Tom Marr’s Contract Through 2017. Baltimore talk radio institution Tom Marr will be heard on WCBM through 2017 as the station’s vice president, Nick Mangione. Jr., announces the station extends his no-cut contract for another four years. The official announcement was made June 24 by WCBM program director and operations manager Sean Casey at the start of Marr’s show that day. Mangione, Jr. states, “I am delighted we have reached the agreement on the extension. To quote my late father, Tom is still at the top of his game both as a broadcaster in general and talk show host in particular. We are delighted he will be on the air until 2017 with WCBM and he just may decide to stay longer. There will always be room for him in the WCBM family. Tom has a good sense for the business. As an example, he is the first one to suggest that we add both Sean Hannity and Mark Levin to our lineup. Tom has a large following within the reach of our 50 thousand watt transmitter and is building a solid national and international following on WCBM’s worldwide reach via the internet.” Marr, who began his career as a high school sports broadcaster on WWDC-AM, Washington, DC in 1960, says, “I am deeply honored that Nick and the Mangione Family Enterprises agreed to the extension. I look forward to the challenges ahead for talk radio and its increasing role in the media especially in view of our relationship with the digital world.”
WBZ-AM, Boston Names Jen Brien Overnight Talk Host. After the retirement of Steve LeVeille last year, the station has been featuring a number of talk radio personalities in the overnight slot. Now, program director Peter Casey announces Jennifer “Jen” Brien is named to the permanent position. The station says the program “will be a mix of pop culture, current events, politics, and the comings and goings of people in New England.” In addition to WBZ-AM’s monster signal that penetrates the entire East Coast at that time of night, the show can be heard on CBS Radio’s Radio.com. Brien joined WBZ from Entercom’s crosstown news/talk WRKO where she hosted a daily program. She has also hosted shows on WPRO and WHJJ in Providence, and WCOD and WXTK on Cape Cod. Before beginning her career in radio, Brien spent more than five years as a soldier in the United States Army where she was selected for the prestigious “Soldier of the Year” award.
SiriusXM Cancels Long-Running Alex Bennett Show. One of modern talk radio’s true pioneers, Alex Bennett, has reportedly been let go “without cause” from SiriusXM Satellite Radio‘s “Sirius Left” channel where he was doing the daily 7:00 am to 10:00 am program. Bennett has been with Sirius for almost a decade and, according to insiders close to the host, was caught by surprise and is “distraught” over what transpired. Bennett has had a colorful, unique on-air career that goes back to the late-1960s when he was the lone talk show host on the old WMCA, New York when it was still the “Home of the Good Guys.” He subsequently went on to do both rock music and talk broadcasting serving as one of the original prototypes for the pop culture-oriented (some call it “shock jock”) and “progressive” genres of modern day talk radio. Between WMCA and Sirius, he served in ground-breaking stints at such great stations as WPLJ in New York and KMEL, KITS (“Live 105”) and KQAK (“The Quake”) in San Francisco. At press time, it is not clear if this was a cost-cutting move on the part of Sirius or indicative of a re-direction in programming. Bennett is still on the air and is reportedly doing his final program for the satellite radio service this Friday. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “In my opinion Alex Bennett is one of the most important talents ever to grace a microphone during my lifetime. His show on WMCA — in which he did extremely progressive talk about the issues of the day such as the Vietnam War — was on a station that was otherwise a hip music station. In the midst of all the fun, cool hipness of the rock ‘n’ roll and the zany DJs of that fabulous station, Bennett was fearlessly talking to the kids about extremely important controversial issues. That show served as the original inspiration for me to launch an issues-oriented talk show (“Harrison’s Mic”) five years later on rocker KMET in Los Angeles and my own talk career that paralleled my music radio work. If I had not heard Alex Bennett in 1969, there might not have ever been a TALKERS magazine.”
HOLLAND COOKE: The Future of AM/FM in the Car. Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports from the Consumer Electronic Association’s Connected Car Conference in New York City and her says that the bottom line after “four-and-a-half-hours of thoughtful discussion, research, and prognostication by automotive, electronics, and media thinkers: Whatever the dashboard is about to morph into matters less to AM/FM radio than what’s already happened.” Cooke writes that people who matter have already connected their media to the car speakers and offers some thoughts about what radio programmers can do to stand out from the digital competition. Read his analysis here.
SummitMedia to Pull the Plug on Sports Talk In Birmingham. SummitMedia announces it will drop the sports talk format on WZNN, Birmingham “97.3 The Zone” and flip to a different – most likely music – format. SummitMedia EVP and COO David DuBose tells the Birmingham News, “We have been evaluating the sports format in light of multiple factors, including [Paul] Finebaum‘s placement. After nearly two years, it became clear the market did not support two competing sports stations. “Therefore, we have determined we should focus on other format opportunities.” SummitMedia purchased the Birmingham cluster from Cox Media Group earlier this year. The station was flipped to sports in August of 2011 when Cox had its eye on building the station around mega-successful Southeast sports personality Paul Finebaum by bringing him over from Cumulus Media’s crosstown sports WJOX. Finebaum, who’d had legal squabbles with WJOX and wanted out of that relationship, ended up working out his contract there, sat out a non-compete and will begin a new sports talk radio venture with ESPN based out of Charlotte. It’s believed he will return to WJOX via ESPN syndication when the new program debuts later this summer.
Bonneville Seattle Brings Unique Talk to MyNorthwest.com. The Bonneville Seattle cluster that includes news/talk KIRO-FM, sports KIRO-AM and talk KTTH is beginning a series of unique audio programs to the web venture it calls MyNorthwest.com. Dubbed “MyNorthwest Chats,” the weekly, one-hour programs will stream on Wednesday’s from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm beginning with today’s chat featuring nationally acclaimed restaurateur Tom Douglas. MyNorthwest.com editor Stephanie Klein says, “We’re excited to have the opportunity to connect our readers directly to the experts and start an inspiring dialogue that makes an impact. We want the conversation to spark a chain of discussion in our readers’ lives.” Other chats lined up for July include talk show host Michael Medved and Seattle Mariners insider Shannon Drayer.
Programming Changes at WGN, Chicago; Turi Ryder to Exit. Chicago radio pro Turi Ryder has been in the late night slot at Tribune’s WGN, Chicago since the beginning of this year but now the company says it’s going in a different direction and will end her program. Ryder will get a chance to say goodbye to her WGN listeners as she’ll work this evening and Thursday before wrapping things up there. The station has not announced what will air in the time slot. Ryder also hosts “America Weekend” for Envision Radio Networks.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM, Providence Tackles Immigration Issue with Live Debate. News/talk WPRO-AM’s Tara Granahan is moderating a debate that will take place today at the Providence Marriott from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm called, “Green Light on Green Cards,” featuring a panel of experts from each side of the illegal immigration issue. The discussion will be streamed live online at the station’s 630wpro.com and will be the center piece of a “WPRO Special Report” scheduled to air during the “WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti” the week of July 1. The debate features two immigration lawyers, a state representative, a member of the local clergy and the head of an illegal immigration enforcement organization. The stations states, “The debate will address the issues that have emerged from illegal immigration including; licenses for illegal immigrants, how immigration effects the Rhode Island economy, and potential solutions moving forward.”
TeleSouth Communications to Buy WOSM, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. TeleSouth operates the Mississippi talk radio network known as “SuperTalk Mississippi” and the purchase of WOSM, Ocean Springs (103.1 FM) – between Biloxi and Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast – will be added to that network. The company states, “The addition of WOSM to the network will give coast listeners the best choice in Mississippi programming with ‘The Gallo Radio Show,’ ‘The JT Show’ and ‘Head to Head with Matt Wyatt and Richard Cross,’ all homegrown programs that keep a watch on state government, entertainment, sports, unique happenings in Mississippi, with a local take on national issues.” In addition to Mississippi-based programs, ‘SuperTalk’ is also home to Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee and Compass Media Networks’ Lars Larson and Todd Schnitt. WOSM is owned and operated by Charles Cooper and airs Christian programming. TeleSouth CEO Steve Davenport states, “We are excited about growing the ‘SuperTalk Network’ with the addition of WOSM. Mr. Cooper has worked hard for years building an audience loyal to traditional family values. We are confident that WOSM listeners will hear those values in the programs featured each day on ‘SuperTalk.’” Long-time coast talk show host and programmer Kipp Greggory will serve as general manager of WOSM.
CHQR, Calgary Talk Host Dave Rutherford to End Daily Show. Canadian talk show host Dave Rutherford will wrap a 21-year career hosting a daily talk show at CHQR, Calgary after his last show on July 26. The conservative personality and pedigreed newsman tells the Edmonton Journal he believes the broadcast news industry is dumbing down and there may be no place for a broadcaster like him. “I don’t think there’s the desire to ask the next question, maybe to ask any questions. But I sense that the whole industry, the broadcast news business, television and radio, is dumbing down.”
The End of the Line for CNN Radio. The service was a shell of its former self after Dial Global ended its distribution of the news product and replaced it with NBC News Radio last year, effectively becoming a digital-only product. Now, CNN states that after completing “a review of its radio business,” it “has made the decision to cease production of CNN Radio podcasts, effective immediately.” CNN has indicated that some of the staff will be relocated to positions elsewhere in the company.
Allen Hunt to End WSB, Atlanta Program. Christian broadcaster Allen Hunt announces he’ll end his Sunday evening program that has aired on WSB, Atlanta since its inception after the June 30 broadcast. Hunt says he was approached by Cox Media to move the time of his program and he decided that due to his busy schedule with the Dynamic Catholic Institute and the requested change, he decided it would be better to end the show. Hunt built the program at WSB and, for a couple of years, put the show into national syndication.
The Roving Jay Mohr Billboard. Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr’s flagship station, “AM570 FOX Sports LA” (KLAC, Los Angeles) surprised Mohr with a mobile billboard promoting his program. While Mohr was on the air, the billboard stopped by the studio during its route through Los Angeles and the show crew seized the opportunity for a quick photo-op. Pictured here (from l-r) are: intern Ben Haley, technical producer John Ramos, social media producer Matty Cox, assistant producer Justin Frosburg, Mohr, update anchor “Diamond” Dan Beyer, associate producer Mike Lingard and executive producer Greg “Hong Kong” Toohey.
Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Bruce Bradley Dies. Bruce Bradley was a personality on CBS Radio’s KMOX, St. Louis from 1986 to 1992. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he passed away on Saturday, June 22 in Lake St. Louis at age 79. Prior to his career in St. Louis, Bradley also worked in the New York, Philadelphia and Boston markets.
President Obama’s Global Warming Policy, SCOTUS Gay Marriage Rulings, George Zimmerman Trial, Paula Deen Freefall, and Texas Anti-Abortion Bill Fails Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/25). President Obama’s policy to bypass Congress to enact greenhouse gas emissions regulations; the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage issues; the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the demise of Paula Deen’s media career in the wake of allegations of racist language; and the failure of anti-abortion legislation in Texas were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
NAB/RAB Radio Show Opens in Dallas Today. Thousands of broadcasters from around the nation are gathering at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas for the annual “Radio Show” jointly presented by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). The theme of this year’s event is ‘Hear What’s Next.” The entire conference, which runs from this morning until the closing Radio Show Luncheon on Friday afternoon, is devoted to the medium of radio and its commercial industry with an eye on the future — from the music royalties issue to the general challenge of integrating into the digital era. CBS Radio president and CEO Dan Mason served as chair of this year’s Radio Show Steering Committee. TALKERS has correspondents on the scene and will provide coverage of the key events as they unfold.
Michael Harrison to Deliver Address This Morning: “Can Terrestrial Radio Thrive in the Digital Era?” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison will be presenting an “info-session” at the Radio Show this morning sponsored by this publication in which he addresses the question, “Can terrestrial radio thrive in the digital era?” Harrison says, “Survival is not enough. Survival is just a form of slow death.” In an accompanying article he writes, “Survival is already happening and it isn’t as much fun as it’s cracked up to be as a spectator sport on the Discovery Channel. In the reality show called terrestrial radio, sooner than later, survival will run out of gas. For terrestrial radio, ‘survival’ is simply a slower form of imminent death. It should be the goal of terrestrial radio to thrive in the digital era. Thrive? Is that even possible? Of course it is — but only if the medium’s players, from the very top on down, muster up the will to conquer the daunting obstacles standing before them. It will take vision and courage fueled by bold ideas and action to slay the five-headed dragon threatening terrestrial radio with premature obsolescence.” To read the entire article, click here. If you are in Dallas, you can attend Harrison’s presentation in the Emerald Room at 10:15 am CT.
Entercom Announces Deal with ESPN to Split WEEI, Boston’s AM and FM Signals. Beginning October 5, ESPN Radio’s national sports talk lineup will be heard on WEEI-AM at 850 in Boston and the local talk of Entercom’s Boston sports brand will broadcast solely on WEEI-FM at 93.7. This is a great deal for ESPN, which gets a Boston clear for its sports talk programming and play-by-play, including the entire MLB schedule (including this year’s playoffs), the NBA and college hoops and football. The AM side is being re-branded “ESPN on WEEI.” On the FM side, the Boston sports talker will still be the exclusive home of Red Sox baseball, Celtics basketball and NFL play-by-play. For WEEI’s web presence, ESPNBoston.com will power WEEI.com’s video player with ESPN video content. Entercom president and CEO David Field states, “We are excited to be expanding our partnership with ESPN in such a meaningful way. Combining Boston’s leading sports station, WEEI-FM, and the new ESPN on WEEI 850 AM, together with our ability to cross promote content through our existing mobile and digital platforms, gives passionate Boston sports fans the very best in local and national sports content.”
WSAU-AM/FM, Wausau, Wisconsin Give Political Candidate Free Air Time in Equal Time Deal. Pat Snyder is the morning drive host on Midwest Communications news/talk combo WSAU-AM/FM, Wausau, Wisconsin. He’s also a Republican candidate for State Assembly but his popularity with listeners meant the station didn’t want to take him off the air until it had to. The Wausau Daily Herald reports that since Snyder worked until August 30 – almost two weeks after Democrat Mandy Wright became his opponent on August 14 – Wright became eligible for equal time compensation. So the station will give Wright five-and-a-half hours of time in the form of commercials to air between now and election day. She tells the paper she’s happy with the deal and that the station was “amicable” in dealing with her.
Jim Ingstad’s Radio Fargo-Moorhead to Sell Cluster to Midwest Communications. The six-station cluster of Jim Ingstad’s Radio Fargo-Moorhead will be sold to Wausau, Wisconsin-based Midwest Communications, pending FCC approval. The stations are: news/talk KFGO-AM, sports KVOX-AM, classic hits KBVB-FM, Top 40 WDAY-FM, talk KRWK-FM and CHR KMJO-FM. Six years ago Ingstad bought the stations from Clear Channel – the company that had purchased the stations from him several years prior. No purchase price has been announced.
Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart to Debate Prior to the Election. Dubbed “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” and taking place at Washington, DC’s George Washington University on October 6, Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly (also heard on news/talk radio stations via his daily feature distributed by Courtside Entertainment) and “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart will mix it up in a 90-minute debate about election issues. O’Reilly and Stewart have a friendly but adversarial relationship and have both appeared on each other’s shows. According to Deadline.com, the debate will be broadcast over the internet in a pay-per-view model.
WJJG, Chicago Flips Calls to Historic WCKG. Talk outlet WJJG (licensed to Elmhurst, Illinois) is taking the calls of the former CBS Radio hot talk outlet WCKG-FM – once home to Howard Stern, Steve Dahl and others during its heyday. The station says in a statement, “WCKG has boasted Chicago and national radio stars the likes of Bob Sirott, Steve Dahl, Howard Stern, Kevin Matthews, Jonathon Brandmeier, Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew Pinsky, Garry Meier, and Stephanie Miller. Now, WCKG fans can add Mancow Muller, Alex Jones, and Michael Savage to the list of radio superstars linked to WCKG, on AM 1530. General manager Matt Dubiel has been operating the station for the past year and has re-tooled the station’s programming lineup, marketing, studios and engineering. He says he has plans to add live and local talk shows and a suburban showcase studio next. “My mission is to bring WCKG to a worthy DuPage County suburb. It’s high time for DuPage to have a marquee radio station with top-level talent serving our communities and Main Street businesses.”
Managing the Tight Sports Talk Playlist. Sports talk hosts wishing to depart from the small number of stories in which their audience is interested on any given day do so at the risk of massive tune out. WFAN, New York host Richard Neer writes that today’s sports talk host must work that much harder to keep those few topics fresh to serve both the new listeners coming in and the ones who’ve been along for the ride for some time. Doing that and avoiding the temptation to veer off into uncharted waters are two of the biggest challenges for sports talkers. Read Richard Neer’s column here.
Morning Host Hank Bonecutter Let Go from WJZM, Clarksville, Tennessee. The twist here is that Hank Bonecutter, host of “The Bone Show” on news/talk/sports WJZM, Clarksville, Tennessee, is the former owner of the station and he just completed the sale of it to new owners Dave Loos Jr., Greg Walker and Mike Parchman in August. He’d been affiliated with the station since 1973 and bought it in 1994. He tells The Leaf Chronicle, “I have no ill will. They have to do what they have to do. I wasn’t sure I’d stay on to the end of the year anyway…My reporting and all we were doing was not in their whole scope of what the station would be about. I don’t think there’s any question I’ve rubbed a lot of people the wrong way for several years. I’m sure they were taking a lot of heat from some folks in town, but I can’t speak to whether that was part of their decision or not.”
Critics Slamming NBC TV’s Ouster of Ann Curry from “Today.” In a story in the New York Post, many industry watchers are saying the network’s move to bump Ann Curry from its morning news/talk show “Today” is not getting the intended result: improved ratings. In the three months since Curry was replaced by Savannah Guthrie, the ratings have slid further. According to the story, with Ann Curry in the lineup the show averaged 4.94 million total viewers and 2.1 million viewers in the 25 to 54 demo in the 10 weeks before she left. Since then, “Today” has dropped to 4.6 million total viewers and 1.9 million in the 25 to 54 demo in the 10 weeks after she was replaced.
Odds & Sods. CBS Radio gears up for the 29th NewsRadio 1020 KDKA Spaghetti Breakfast being held this Friday from 5:00 am to 9:00 am at the Heinz Hall Garden Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh. The breakfast feast features “KDKA Morning News co-hosts Larry Richert and John Shumway…..WHO, Des Moines PM drive host Simon Conway sits in today through Friday for Premiere Networks’ “America Now” with Andy Dean…..Corporate Turnaround partners with Broadcast Affiliate Sales to debut its new daily radio feature that consists of intriguing stories about ways business can improve and grow. BAS’ Mike Tyler says, “Corporate Turnaround’s daily feature discusses many ways small business can improve their financial condition. This feature will help radio stations get new advertisers. The listeners will enjoy the feature and small business will get much needed information.”
Romney ‘Reliant on Government’ Comments, Media Matters-DOJ Relationship, and Libya U.S. Consulate Attack Aftermath/Muslim World Protests Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/18). The fallout from a secretly recorded video of Mitt Romney speaking to donors about the 47% of President Obama’s base who are “reliant on government”; questions about whether Media Matters for America has a working relationship with the Department of Justice; the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya and the ongoing anti-America protests in the Muslim world were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
2012: Talk Media Industry Forecast. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison presents eight leading trends and factors facing talk media as we head into 2012. As is usually the case, we have a mixture of the good, the bad and the in-between. The challenges are indeed daunting – but the opportunities are great. Read the story here.
WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans’ Bob DelGiorno to Retire. Morning drive host Bob DelGiorno is retiring from radio after 34 years on the air in the Big Easy – most of it spent at Entercom‘s WWL-AM/FM. DelGiorno says, “This place, this station has been very good to me…But, now it’s time to get off the road, to give up the daily responsibility and just enjoy waking up later and enjoying life.” The station’s Tommy Tucker is being eased into the morning slot to succeed DelGiorno.
New Jersey 101.5 Ends Evening Relationship Show Hosted by Michelle Jerson. The Townsquare Media station has been airing Michelle Jerson’s “After Hours” relationship program for a number of years but New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW, Trenton) program director Eric Johnson says, “Through audience research, our listeners made it very clear to us that they would like to hear the entertaining and informative Jersey-based topics that we discuss all day, in the evenings as well. New Jersey 101.5 would like to thank Michelle Jerson for her service to the station and we wish her well going forward.” Johnson says the station will be looking for a permanent host for the 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm show. In the meantime, part-time host and Monmouth County native Steve Trevelise, who is also a candidate for the full-time position, will be hosting the evening show. As for Jerson, she tells TALKERS, “I was at New Jersey 101.5 for three and a half years as the number one evening show in New Jersey (had been at the station twice before over the years). My background includes hosting lifestyle talk shows on 106.7 WJFK, Washington and Sirius Satellite Radio, co-hosting morning shows on talk and top 40 stations, reporting for Howard Stern‘s news team – Howard 100 News – and working as a television travel correspondent for Travelzoo.com. I am ready for my next big adventure and can be reached at email@example.com.”
Main Street Radio Network’s “Battle Line with Alan Nathan” Adds Third Hour; Nathan Takes Commentator Role with TalkSport Network. Main Street Radio Network announces “Battle Line with Alan Nathan” adds a third hour to its program airing live from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. The first two hours of the show are distributed on Lifestyle TalkRadio Network, the new third hour is distributed on sister Business TalkRadio Network. Main Street president Jane Silk states, “Main Street is very excited with the addition of Battle Line on BTRN. The team at BTRN is truly a professional group and we look forward to the continued relationship and the expansion of Main Street programs.” Meanwhile, London-based TalkSport Network adds Alan Nathan as international commentator after regular requests to offer color commentary with TalkSport hosts Matt Forde and Mike Graham during which he offers listeners across the United Kingdom a view of American politics from the perspective American radio’s “aggressive centrist.” Jane Silk says of Nathan’s new role, “Alan is truly someone who can succinctly and efficiently dispel someone’s misconceptions with an amazing grasp of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and, most importantly, logic and fact! How wonderful to have “the Colonies” experience a true and gifted host and show!”
Dial Global Drops Westwood One Name from NFL Play-By-Play. With the merger Westwood One and Dial Global now four months old, Dial Global is re-branding its NFL play-by-play product as the Dial Global Radio Network. Dial Global has exclusive national radio rights to the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. Dial Global sports executive producer Howard Deneroff states, “Listeners will hear the same standard of play-by-play commentary and overall production that they’ve come to expect from Westwood One on the Dial Global Radio Network. We are extremely excited about the merger, our broader platform and the future opportunities it might provide.”
KPAM, Portland Parent Pamplin Media Group Partners with Local CBS TV Affiliate for News Content Sharing. The deal between Pamplin Media Group and KOIN-TV (“LOCAL 6”) allows for sharing of content on its combined television, radio and print properties, as well as websites and mobile apps. The agreement includes shared editorial access, opportunities for exclusive interviews, news support, cross-collaboration for specific marketing activities and the ability to promote exclusive media on a variety of platforms. KPAM program director Dennis Glasgow states, “This is a watershed moment for the Pamplin Media Group that simply and clearly defines our group as the local news leaders in Portland. There’s not one other media partnership in our city that can lay claim to the winning trifecta that is AM 860, The Portland Tribune and KOIN Local 6.” KOIN-TV president and GM Tim Perry says, “We are very enthusiastic about entering this strategic partnership with such a talented group of media executives and committed journalists. We look forward to deepening our tenured relationship with this community.” Pamplin had been in a partnership deal with Fox affiliate KPTV-TV, Portland. That deal ends today (1/6).
Goldline International and Leslie Marshall Enter into Advertising Partnership. Renowned gold dealer Goldline International, Inc. and independently syndicated progressive talk host Leslie Marshall announce Goldline is becoming the exclusive precious metals sponsor of Marshall’s national radio talk program. Marshall says, “I am looking forward to helping my listeners learn about diversifying their portfolios with gold. I’ve met personally with Goldline’s senior management and visited their offices in Santa Monica, so I can confidently recommend Goldline to my listeners who are considering physical gold and precious metals.” The consumer press has often wrongly associated precious metals dealers only with conservative news/talk programming but as Marshall’s new deal illustrates, that’s a misconception. Goldline CEO Scott Carter states, “Leslie’s longevity on the airwaves speaks to her ability to engage listeners across the political spectrum. Goldline is proud to be a sponsor of the Leslie Marshall show.”
ESPN Radio Adds “Hill & Schlereth” Show to Evening Lineup. The new evening program from ESPN Radio begins on January 10 airing Monday through Thursday through the Super Bowl and then five nights per week after the game. Former NFL Pro-Bowler Mark Schlereth has been with ESPN since 2001 and Mike Hill is a current SportsCenter anchor. The duo will host the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm program. SVP of ESPN Audio Mo Davenport says, “Mike Hill and Mark Schlereth are already fan favorites. Their ability to expand on their friendship, their experiences, and their knowledge of sports, combined with our listeners’ passion, equals great content that can be enjoyed on multiple platforms.”
Sports Talker Cliff Saunders Out at WXOS-FM, St. Louis. As a result of the recent talent shuffle at Hubbard Radio’s 101 ESPN (WXOS-FM) in St. Louis, evening host Cliff Saunders is out and seeking his next opportunity. Saunders co-hosted the 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm show at the station. He previously worked for Entercom’s WSSP, Milwaukee. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KTRS, St Louis to Host U.S. Senate Primary Debate with Live Audio and Video Feeds on Facebook. Morning drive host McGraw Milhaven tells TALKERS magazine he and St. Louis Beacon political writer Joe Mannies will co-moderate the January 10 GOP primary debate for candidates vying for the Republican ticket to face off against Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill in November for her U.S. Senate seat. The debate will take place in front of a live audience at the Missouri Athletic Club, be broadcast live on KTRS, KTRS.com and KTRS’ Facebook page at 9:00 am. Milhaven says, “It is the first time ever that a radio station is airing anything on Facebook with both audio and video.” Congressman Todd Akin and former Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman are taking part in the debate.
Compass Media Networks’ Lars Larson to Broadcast from Israel. Portland, Oregon-based regional and nationally syndicated talk host Lars Larson heads to Israel to broadcast his program from Jerusalem during the week of January 16. Stating that America’s relationship with Israel will be a topic of debate in the 2012 presidential election, Larson comments, “This trip is sure to be an eye opener to my listeners who never imagined all the ways that their lives are impacted by conflicts in the Middle East.” Larson plans to speak on his program with an array of diplomats, Palestinians, Israeli citizens, journalists and ambassadors.
Thom Hartmann Show Goes on the Road to Iceland and Sweden. Dial Global’s Thom Hartmann takes his talk radio program across the Atlantic next week where he’ll broadcast live from Rekyavik, Iceland on January 9 and Stockholm, Sweden on January 12. Hartmann says, “We’ve booked a number of pundits, politicians and reporters, and are looking forward to hearing directly from the people involved how the Icelanders told the banksters to take a hike, and how the Swedes dealt with their bank failures 15 years ago and why their economy is doing so well now.” Hartmann is keynoting a conference in Sweden on Psychiatry and ADHD – he’s published several books on the subject including The Edison Gene (Park Street Press 2003).
Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco to Host Show on WWBA, Tampa. Genesis Communications’ WWBA, Tampa announces former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco joins the station’s programming department to host a weekly “business, public affairs and non-partisan political talk program beginning with a live debut from Malio’s Restaurant on January 9. In a statement, VP of programming Len Weiner says, “We are thrilled to have Tampa’s former mayor Dick Greco join our news team. His amazing background in politics and business will be an asset to our listeners. This station has a powerful 50,000-watt signal that will carry Dick’s program throughout the state of Florida.” Greco’s first guest will be current Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Iowa Caucuses/2012 Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM Chart of Biggest Talk Radio Stories During Week of January 2-6. According to ongoing research from TALKERS, the Iowa Caucuses and the 2012 presidential race was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week. Coming in at #2 was Iran’s military ambitions. At #3 was the world financial markets activity followed by euro zone instability at #4. The Talkers TenTM chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio each week is published at Talkers.com every Friday. See the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Doug Stephan’s daily “Good Day” program picks up KBYR, Anchorage; KWMO, Washington, Missouri; KBJT-KQEW, Fordyce, Arkansas; and KMMS, Bozeman, Montana…..Doug Stephan’s weekend “Talk Radio Countdown Show” is added to WGDJ, Albany; KBYR, Anchorage…..Genesis Communications Network-distributed “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney picks up WLOB-AM/FM, Portland…..The Dr. Dahlia Wachs show is added to the lineup at KSIS, Sedalia, Missouri…..“Free Talk Live” with hosts Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds KBRA-FM, Freer, Texas.