By Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — The wheels of justice don’t turn particularly fast. It has been two years since the Boston Marathon bombing and a year since Saudi Arabian student Abdulrahman Alharbi sued talk show host Glenn Beck for defamation. At the time of the bombing and for some time thereafter, Beck was convinced that there was a conspiracy that extended beyond the Tsarnaev brothers that included another person who Beck publicly identified as an al Qaeda “control agent” and the “money man” behind the bombings, although the lack of sophistication involved in the crime did not appear to require any significant funding to bring about this attack. Abdulrahman Alharbi , the man identified by Beck as the conspirator not only was present at the bombings, but actually was among those injured by the blasts.
WAEB, Allentown Talk Host Named in Defamation Suit. Allentown talk show host Bobby Gunther Walsh – heard in AM drive on iHeartMedia’s WAEB-AM — is named in a defamation and slander suit by the city’s District Attorney Jim Martin. The primary defendant in the case is blogger Bill Villa who has called Martin “crooked” and “corrupt” and alleges he “fixes” cases, according to a report in The Morning Call. Villa lost his 25-year-old daughter in a drunk driving accident and Villa claims Martin bargained a plea deal with the man accused of being responsible for his daughter’s death “in secret,” without ever notifying the family. Villa went on Walsh’s WAEB show to talk about his issues with Martin’s work as DA. Read the story here.
Corporate Promotions at Cherry Creek Radio. At the corporate level, Cherry Creek Radio announces eight promotions that affect its 55 O&O stations in 15 Western U.S. markets. Moving up from regional director of sales to EVP and regional manager are: Kelley Cheatwood, John Craft, and Ron Korb. Group PD Bob Guerra rises to EVP/director of programming. Rita Calvin adds EVP stripes to her controller position. Travis Cronen is now VP/director of operations & IT; Ken Eklund is upped to VP of engineering, and Mary Sims becomes VP/director of accounting. Cherry Creek Radio president and CEO Joe Schwartz comments, “With our new financial structure in place and with the many plans we have to grow the company, I feel it was important to recognize these eight individuals for the outstanding work they have done for the company over their tenure at Cherry Creek Radio. Each of these promotions are for employees who have been with the company for at least eight years or more.”
Celebrating Success. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Joy Browne (standing) speaks at the recent Success Stories Breakfast Series at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey produced by Salem Communications New York and its stations news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” and Christian talk WMCA “The Mission.” The event featured numerous speakers telling their stories of success, that also included former NFL star, G-III president and entrepreneur Carl Banks; My Pillow inventor Mike Lindell; Bluerock Energy president and CEO Phil Van Horne; and Bergen Community College director of multicultural affairs Ron McKnight. The program was moderated by WNYM host Kevin McCullough and broadcast live on WNYM by morning show host Joe Piscopo.
Futuri Media Awarded Patents for Instant Alert and Listener Driven Radio. Calling it a “milestone for the company,” Futuri Media CEO Daniel Anstandig announces the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a patent to him and the company’s chief technical officer Brian Seeders for its “Instant Alert” and Listener Driven Radio (LDR) technology. In a press release, Futuri Media says the patent describes a broad range of methods related to Listener Driven™ programming, including Instant Alerts, where listeners can receive e-mail, SMS text, and tweets moments before their favorite songs play on the air. This is also one of several U.S. and foreign patents and pending patent applications held by the company that describes and protects its unique interactive mobile and social apps. Anstandig comments, “Futuri has invested a significant amount in R&D related to interactive broadcasting as well as social and mobile technology for local broadcasters. The issuance of this patent is a milestone for our company and our many innovative broadcast partners, who have used this and our other technologies to drive ratings and revenue since the company’s launch in 2009.” Futuri CIO Brian Parsons adds, “Protection of our team’s innovations is critical. Our goal is to shape the future of media with social and mobile technology that makes it possible for consumers to embrace and personalize their favorite media brands. Whether it’s an interactive playlist, alerts for your favorite songs, a feature-rich mobile app, or social monitoring, we’re striving to create easy-to-use platforms that deliver innovative and proprietary high value for our partners.”
Odds & Sods. Brooklyn talk host Frankie Russo is crowdfunding to continue to buy time (and hopefully, he says, even more time) on New York’s legendary 77WABC. Russo has been brokering the 1:00 am to 2:00 am Saturday slot for the past year and is now firing up an indiegogo campaign to raise $100,000 to expand his presence on the station…..Hall of Fame basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian passed on February 11 and his funeral was on February 16 at Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church. GCN-syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs (pictured here with Tarkanian on the left) tells TALKERS, “It was a beautiful ceremony with laughter and tears honoring a legend. I went to UNLV 89-93 and witnessed one of the most exciting teams year-after-year win and eventually conquer the National Championship under Jerry’s legacy. Our city is going to great lengths to commemorate such an icon. I knew Jerry to be warm and cuddly and I credit his and the Runnin’ Rebel legacy with the start of the Las Vegas boom in the mid-90s. He helped put UNLV on the map from a once considered ‘casino town’ and made us locals proud to be Las Vegans. Thank you Jerry! You will be missed but never forgotten!”…..NBC Sports Group announces it will present live radio coverage of all three Triple Crown races for the first time on NBC Sports Radio. It will produce radio coverage of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes on numerous broadcast and digital platforms.
Scott Walker Presidential Prospects, Court Blocks Obama Immigration Order, Department of Homeland Security Funding Battle, Brian Williams Suspension, Battle Against ISIS, Fifty Shades of Grey Film, and Cindy Crawford Photo Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/16). Analysis of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s chances of receiving the Republican nomination for president in 2016; a Texas court blocks the Obama amnesty order; the battle in Congress over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security; the aftermath of the Brian Williams suspension; the battle against ISIS and the militant movement’s bloody tactics; controversy over the film Fifty Shades of Grey; and the flap over an unretouched photo of 48-year-old Cindy Crawford were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Rush Limbaugh Seeks Retraction and Apology from DCCC for ‘False and Defamatory’ Statement. Attorneys for Premiere Networks-syndicated talk star Rush Limbaugh are seeking a retraction and apology from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for what is being termed a “false and defamatory” statement regarding Limbaugh’s on-air discussion about consent for sexual relations. Limbaugh attorney Patricia Glaser writes in a letter to the DCCC that the organization purposely took Limbaugh’s words in which he “condemns the notion that ‘no’ means ‘yes’” regarding sexual relations, and edited them to give the impression that the opposite was said. The DCCC then sent the message out via the internet. The question is, does Limbaugh’s attorney have a case? She cites legal precedent in her letter. TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says it would appear that the comments of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are way off base. “The email went so far as to ask people to contact Limbaugh’s advertisers to voice their disapproval. However, the same First Amendment that protected Rush Limbaugh when he called Sandra Fluke a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’ may well protect the DCCC in their gross mischaracterization of Limbaugh’s remarks. Specifically, as a public figure, in order to be successful in a defamation action, Limbaugh would have to prove that the DCCC acted with malice – that is that they knew what they were saying was a lie or that they acted with a reckless disregard for its truth. Even more problematic for Limbaugh would be that he would have to prove that he was harmed by the comments. In order to be successful in his lawsuit he would have to show that he lost sponsors and/or listeners.” Limbaugh’s lawyer cites two cases that deal with the narrow issue of whether it is libelous if you use the exact words of someone out of context or edited. Weisman says that while the cases support Limbaugh’s position on the matter, he doesn’t think they are wholly determinative of the case. But he adds, “Ironically, merely by exercising his own First Amendment rights and making his threat of a lawsuit, Limbaugh may have already won the battle by presenting his case to the people without even entering a courtroom.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison comments, “Regardless of whether the DCCC apologizes or whatever the results of Rush’s subsequent lawsuit, Limbaugh is doing a service to our culture by bringing this general, nasty trend to the forefront of conversation by saying enough is enough – and that is the tendency by political types of all persuasions, left and right, these days to seek victory at the expense of truth.” Read the entire letter from Limbaugh’s attorney to the DCCC here.
Cumulus Media Reports Flat Q3. The third quarter of 2014 turned out to be flat on a pro forma basis for Cumulus Media. On an actual basis, net revenue was up $51.4 million – or 19.4% — but that was due primarily to the addition of the operations of Westwood One. Digging a little deeper, the company reports that “broadcast advertising revenue decreased by $12.5 million. Net broadcast advertising revenue was down due to ongoing weakness in several large local markets that began in the second quarter of 2014; however, we believe that weakness has now largely dissipated into the early portion of the current quarter. National spot advertising was generally flat as we continued to take share from small competitors. Network advertising continued to see disruption following the acquisition of Westwood One in December 2013. We believe that process of reorganizing our network sales verticals is also now completed. Digital advertising revenue increased by $6.7 million, primarily due to increased Rdio user generation activity and digital commerce generated by our Sweetjack platform. Political advertising revenue increased by $2.9 million due to additional activity associated with mid-term and gubernatorial elections and license fees and other revenue increased by $2.8 million.” For the first three quarters of 2014, Cumulus’ net revenue was up 1.8% on a pro forma basis.
KXNT-AM/FM, Las Vegas Brings Jim Villanucci Aboard for Afternoon Drive. After suddenly exiting Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland where he was hosting middays, Jim Villanucci resurfaces at CBS RADIO’s KXNT-AM/FM, Las Vegas in the afternoon drive slot vacated by the departure of talk host Kevin Wall. Villanucci’s first day on the air was yesterday (11/10). Prior to his stint in Portland, he spent almost 14 years at Cumulus Media’s KKOB, Albuquerque enjoying high ratings in the afternoon drive slot, but exited that post in March of 2013. Villanucci says that although he misses the KXL staffers in Portland, he’s thrilled to be in Las Vegas working with CBS RADIO SVP/market manager Jerry McKenna and programmer Cat Thomas.
WRKO, Boston Helps Raise $115,000-plus for Fisher House. The personalities on Entercom’s WRKO, Boston spent Monday (11/10) broadcasting live from the Seaport Hotel as part of an effort to raise funds for the Fisher House in Boston. Pictured here are Barry Armstrong and Kim Carrigan hosting “The Financial Exchange.” Morning drive personality Jeff Kuhner also was on hand as the station brought in more than $115,000 for Fisher House. Kuhner says, “The WRKO listeners are the best in the country. Hands down. When we ask them to come through, they do. And they do it in a very big way.” The tally was at $98,000.00 just before 6:00pm, when Entercom CEO David Field donated the $2,000 it took to get over the six-figure mark. The Fisher House Boston is a home away from home where military families can stay while a loved one is receiving in-house treatment at one of the medical centers. The homes enable family members to be close to loved ones at the most stressful times.
Odds & Sods. The broadcast rights for Arkansas State play-by-play are re-upped for another five years by East Arkansas Broadcasters. The agreement allows EAB to continue to originate the broadcast of every Arkansas State game in football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball from the company’s flagship sports talker KFIN, Jonesboro…..SiriusXM signs PGA pro John Daly to host a six-part series on its PGA Tour channel. The show is called “Hit It Hard with John Daly” and will debut in December.
Eric Dickerson Joins Westwood One’s Jim Gray Aboard USS America. Pictured here is Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson speaking with troops aboard the USS America on Monday (11/10). As part of last night’s Westwood One Monday Night Football broadcast, pre-game and half-time host Jim Gray broadcast live from aboard the brand new naval ship USS America and he was joined by Dickerson during the programs. In honor of Veterans Day, both mingled with the sailors and fielded football questions for Monday Night Football weekly contributors Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald.
Lame Duck Congress, 2016 Presidential Prospects, President Obama in China/Russia-China Relationship, Fall of Berlin Wall Anniversary, U.S.-Iran Nukes Talks, Battle Against ISIS, Net Neutrality Issue, Early Cold and Snow, Veteran’s Day, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/10). What the lame duck congress may try to accomplish before the GOP majority takes over in January; a look ahead at the prospects for president in 2016; President Obama’s visit to China and the cozier relationship between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China; the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; the talks between the U.S. and Iran about the latter’s nuclear program; the fight against ISIS and reports the organization is considering a merger with al Qaeda; the net neutrality issue and President Obama’s weighing in on the matter; an early blast of cold and snow hit the Upper Midwest; the Veteran’s Day holiday and observances across the country; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Glenn Beck’s Lawyers File Motion to Dismiss in Boston Marathon Defamation Case. As reported by Reuters, lawyers for Glenn Beck and TheBlaze are asking a judge to dismiss the defamation charges being lodged against them by a Saudi Arabian national who alleged Beck continued to accuse him of being a party to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing even after authorities cleared him of suspicion. Twenty-one year old Abdulrahman Alharbi was present at the attack site but was questioned by authorities and cleared within days of the attack. Alharbi alleges Beck continued to accuse him of being the “money man” behind the attack. Beck’s attorneys argue that Alharbi continued to grant interviews after speaking with authorities, thereby making him a limited purpose public figure and, thus not afforded the same protection as a private citizen. Although Judge Patti Saris said she would consider the motion, she said, “I’d be surprised if I resolved this in a motion to dismiss.”
KGA, Spokane Brings Local PM Drive Show Back. Spokane sports talker KGA – a CBS Sports Radio affiliate – is bringing back “The Locker Room Show with Toby Howell” beginning September 2 in the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot. The Mapleton-owned station notes Jim Miller a.k.a. MooseJaw will be part of the show on a part-time basis and the show’s original co-host, Whitworth assistant athletic director Bob Castle, will make weekly appearances. Other additions to the program include Jim Walden appearing for “College Football Fridays, Spokesman Review staffer Jim Meehan serving as co-host, and additional contributions from SWX and KHQ-TV “Q6” sports personalities Sam Adams, Michelle Dapper and John Collette.
Envision Names Brooks Director of Affiliate Relations. Thirty-one year media pro Valerie Brooks joins Envision Networks as director of affiliate relations. Brooks was most recently serving with WKYC-TV, Cleveland in the sales department. She comments, “I have been privileged to work for both locally owned and operated as well as publicly traded broadcast companies. I love the subliminal power of our medium, and I know that radio plus our digital brand extensions remain vibrant, alive and impactful.” Envision COO Laura Orkin adds, “We are thrilled to welcome Valerie to the Envision family as director of affiliate relations. Valerie brings a wealth of experience to our team and will superserve our 1,500-plus affiliated stations.”
E.B. Moss Joins AdLarge Media. Coming to AdLarge Media from her most recent position with Westwood One, advertising and marketing exec E.B. Moss will serve as vice president, marketing solutions. AdLarge says that Moss spearheaded a similar division for Citadel, then Cumulus Media Networks and ultimately Westwood One, where she launched a suite of new opportunities for clients, including devising native advertising, social media, and digital campaigns. AdLarge co-founder and CEO Gary Schonfeld comments, “E.B. is a consummate marketer. She has an innate perspective on clients’ goals, and is exceptional at inventing on-air, online, onsite, and social media promotions that boost a campaign to deliver a return on investment (ROI) for advertisers and their agencies.”
Commissioner Pai and Gordon Smith Headline Radio Luncheon. Featured at the Radio Luncheon at the 2014 Radio Show on Friday, September 12 will be FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who will take part in a conversation with NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith. The theme of the conversation will be communications policy and how it affects free, local radio broadcasting. The Radio Luncheon will also feature the presentation of the National Radio Award to Bud Walters, founder and president of the Cromwell Group. A statement from the NAB notes that Pai joined the FCC as commissioner in May 2012 and is focusing on creating a regulatory environment in which competition and innovation can flourish, for the benefit of American consumers. During his time at the FCC, Pai has made AM radio revitalization a priority at the Commission. Between 2007 and 2011, Pai held several positions in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel, including deputy general counsel. Prior to joining the FCC, he was a partner in the Communications Practice at Jenner & Block LLP and associate general counsel at Verizon Communications Inc.
Odds & Sods. Returning to Nashville to host his sports talk show on WNRS “Nashville’s Sportsradio” is Johnny “Ballpark” Franks. After working in both Huntsville and the Gulfport-Biloxi markets, Franks returns to host the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm show on the Ted Johnson-owned station, reports The Tennessean…..ESPN Radio announces the schedule for its 15th season of college football play-by-play beginning with opening weekend, August 28-30. Over the season it will present 30 regular season games on Saturdays and Thursday nights, culminating with the Pac-12 and ACC Championships in December…..Westwood One is bringing Barclays Premier League soccer to American radio listeners this season. In partnership with London-based talkSPORT, WW1 will present 60 featured matches made available to radio stations and will present all 380 matches streamed live on westwoodonesports.com. The season begins Saturday, August 16 and concludes on Sunday, May 24, 2015.
Together Again. If only for a day, KDWN, Las Vegas morning drive host Alan Stock (left) poses for a shot with former partner Kerri Kasem (right). Stock and Kasem co-hosted the morning show at crosstown news/talk KXNT seven years ago. Kasem was in town attending the Nevada Broadcasters Association convention at which her late father Casey Kasem was honored. She sat in with Stock on the KDWN morning show on August 8.
U.S. Iraq Strikes/IS Campaign, Missouri Teen Death/Riot and Looting, Robin Williams Death, Ebola Threat, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, and Immigration Policy/Border Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/11). The Obama Administration’s policy to renew airstrikes in Northern Iraq and the IS campaign in the country; the shooting death of a black Missouri teen by police and the ongoing riots and looting taking place in its aftermath; the apparent suicide of actor and comic Robin Williams; the concern over the African Ebola outbreak and concerns about a pandemic; Russia’s move to arm rebels in the Ukraine; and the continuing battle over the U.S. immigration policy and the border crisis in the Southwest were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Ron Paul Joins Norm Pattiz’s Courtside Entertainment for Daily Feature. Longtime Texas congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul will begin a deal to produce two daily one-minute features with the help of libertarian talk radio pro Charles Goyette as sidekick. (Pictured here are – from left to right – Paul, Pattiz and Goyette.) The program will be available as a podcast and will be distributed to radio stations nationally via Norm Pattiz’s Courtside Entertainment Group and Launchpad Digital Media beginning March 18. Pattiz states, “There’s no questioning the fact that Ron Paul is one of today’s most impactful leaders. His thoughts and opinions have created a significant and loyal following that has made its presence known throughout the country. That following includes college campuses, corporate offices and everything in between. His new radio show for Courtside and his digital presence via podcasting create a platform that will be hugely successful.” Paul says, “I am very excited to have this opportunity to take the message of freedom to more people than ever, especially now when our country needs it so much. Radio and podcasting are a much more powerful means of communication than speaking on the floor of Congress. I welcome this chance to work with Norm and Courtside and interact with America in a new way, delivering a message that is timelier than ever and a philosophy that people are clearly hungry to hear more about.”
Schnitt Versus Bubba: Take Two? According to the Tampa Bay Times, Todd Schnitt has filed a motion for a new trial in his complaint against Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) based on the fact that Bubba’s lawyers had his attorney’s briefcase for 18 hours and that Bubba’s lawyers should have been disqualified from representing Bubba. This all stems from the bizarre situation that happened toward the end of the three-week trial when a paralegal named Melissa Personius — who worked for Bubba’s attorneys (from the firm Adams & Diaco) but did not identify herself as such — had drinks with Schnitt lawyer C. Phillip Campbell, Jr. at a local steak house. Campbell left the restaurant with Personius in her car and was pulled over for DUI five blocks later. At the time, circumstances indicated the possibility Campbell was set up by Personius – something Schnitt’s team believes was the case. Personius and Adams & Diaco attorneys all pleaded the Fifth when questioned by the judge at the time. New statements from the restaurant’s valet could help Schnitt’s case in that regard. But the Times reports Bubba’s legal team is also collecting evidence and preparing for additional legal action. On January 30, the jury found Bubba not guilty of defaming Schnitt and his wife.
Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Helps WWII Veteran and Vandalism Victim. After 93-year old decorated World War II veteran Elbert Wood’s home was vandalized in mid-January by two local teenagers, KTRH, Houston talk host Michael Berry got the word out about the case via his radio show. Very soon, more than $45,000 in cash donations had been pledged and local contractors promised to help Mr. Wood restore his home. The work was completed and Wood is living in the home. The case has been a big local story in Houston for the past month.
Radio Should Follow TV’s Lead. Noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist, Holland Cooke cites Netflix‘s new original movie “House of Cards” starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as an example of how radio should approach the presentation of its varied menu of products in the new digital age. Cooke points out that just like this variety of media and appliances that we now lump together under the umbrella of “TV,” radio must also become extremely mindful of its emerging multiple configurations and program/distribute content accordingly, saying we’re not just AM and FM anymore. Never before has it been more imperative for radio to differentiate between its live and on demand products – as well as its imported and original content. Read Holland Cooke’s article here.
CBS Radio’s WWJ, Detroit Names Tom Jordan AM Drive Co-Anchor. The CBS Radio all-news outlet will add Tom Jordan to the morning drive program alongside current news anchor Roberta Jasina. Jordan, currently a San Diego morning TV anchor with KUSI-TV, San Diego is a three-time Emmy Award-winning anchor and reporter. Mlive.com reports he co-anchored two Emmy award-winning newscasts for coverage of the September 11th terrorist attacks and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan. He was also awarded an Emmy for coverage of the 2007 Southern California wildfires. Jordan is expected to join the WWJ team on March 4.
Dr. Gina Loudon Launching National Show. Although she has yet to become a talk media “household name,” multi-media talker Dr. Gina Loudon is becoming increasingly well-known within the industry for her numerous star qualities and unique profile among the upcoming crop of conservative politically-oriented hosts. Loudon’s new radio talk show, the “Dr. Gina Show,” scheduled for launch February 25 will originate in San Diego and air two-hours live daily between 10:00 am and 12:00 noon PT. Produced and distributed in conjunction with Chesapeake Portsmouth Broadcasting and Liberty Alliance, the Dr. Gina Show will be initially carried by Virginia outlets WHTK, Portsmouth; WLVA, Lynchburg; and WLES, Bon Air. Dr. Gina was a regionally syndicated PM drive host in Birmingham, AL with Crawford Broadcasting until May of last year, when she gave up her show to move with her family to the West Coast. Since then, she has been a sought-after guest host on KRLA and KABC, Los Angeles; KOGO, San Diego and others, while appearing on Fox News Channel, Fox Business, and other TV talk shows for signature blend political and psychological commentary. She is also the anchor for the popular online program PolitiChicks.TV. Loudon has a background in Psychology (two MA degrees and a PhD) that she integrates as a major part of her on-air presentation. She has accrued practical insider know-how in politics, as the wife of a senior Missouri State Senator for two terms and dips into her insight to real life issues as the home schooling mother of five, including one adopted son who has Down Syndrome. Stations interested in the new Dr. Gina Show can contact it executive producer, Jason Browning at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-653-2238.
WBEZ, Chicago and PRI Prepare to Air Chicago School Violence Programs. The WBEZ, Chicago-produced and Public Radio International-distributed “This American Life” program tackles the school gun violence problem in Chicago – specifically at Harper High School – on shows to air this weekend and next. But the program did more than just do research about the problem, it went into the school and experienced it. WBEZ states that Harper’s administration gave three reporters unusual access for a full semester, five months. When violence struck, the reporters recorded the staff as they jumped into action. They recorded private, difficult meetings with families and students. The result is a portrait of school administrators who know their students well, and take energetic measures to keep these teenagers alive. Program host Ira Glass says, “For everything we’ve all heard about children and gun violence, there are basic things we don’t hear so much about. Like what it’s like to live in neighborhoods that have to cope with so much bloodshed. This is a school that knows this problem in a way that most of us around the country don’t.” Last school year, 29 current and recent Harper students were shot. Twenty-one were wounded; eight died. The special episodes begin airing the same day President Obama travels to Chicago to talk about urban gun violence. The number of murders in Chicago climbed last year, while in many big cities like New York and Los Angeles, the number has been steady or declining. Last weekend, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was buried. Her death made national news after being shot in a Chicago city park a week after performing at an inaugural event in Washington.
Clear Channel Rochester to Begin Two-Day Radiothon to Benefit Children’s Hospital. Two of Clear Channel’s Rochester radio stations – news/talk WHAM and triple A WDVI “The Drive” – will broadcast a two-day radiothon to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital. The annual “Drive for Miracles Radiothon” hits the air tomorrow and Friday and will feature appearances by local personalities including: Chet Walker, Bob Lonsberry, Joe Lomonaco, and Bob Matthews from WHAM and JP Hastings, “The Mayor” Pete Kennedy, and Julie from “100.5 The Drive.” Over the past decade, the annual “Drive For Miracles,” conducted with the support of the Children’s Miracle Network, has raised over $1 million for the hospital.
Dixon OmniMedia Launches Radio reMIND. Dixon OmniMedia founder Derrick Jonzun calls it “a new listener loyalty tool for ‘front loading listeners.’” The concept is pretty simple: it’s a service that calls each of your opt-in listeners and plays a personalized message, reminding them your program is about to air. Dixon OmniMedia states that stations can now connect with listeners on a personal level with show reminders in their talent’s own voices. It calls it appointment listening on an organic level, plus a great way to increase listener engagement. Jonzun says, “As host of a weekly syndicated show, I’ve always looked for ways to connect to my audience beyond the normal social sites. In an industry that centers around the human voice, there is no tweet, email nor text that can match a personal call from an air-talent. Radio reMIND is a must have for internet stations and specialty shows.”
Diane Rehm Named Arab American of the Year. The WAMU, Washington-based public radio host and journalist is named ‘Arab American of the Year for 2013’ by ACCESS, the Detroit-based Arab American human services nonprofit organization. Diane Rehm will be honored at the prestigious 42nd Annual ACCESS Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, April 27, at the Marriott Detroit Renaissance Center. Rehm has hosted her eponymous program from the WAMU studios for the past 30 years. It is distributed nationally by NPR.
Obama State of the Union Address, Christopher Dorner Case, North Korea Nuke Threats, and ObamaCare Costs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/12). The president’s state of the union address; the case of alleged killer and former cop Christopher Dorner; the threats of nuclear attacks by North Korea; and the costs of the Affordable Care Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Blogging to Grow Your Tribe. Radio personalities and station programmers have great opportunities to use social media and blogging to build more interactivity and loyalty with fans and P1s, writes radio consultant Holland Cooke. In today’s piece, Cooke passes on some very salient points from the recent New Media Expo. He notes that the old paradigm of radio sales is passé and radio personalities are positioned to take advantage of the new paradigm. “The E-word en vogue is engagement, and money is flowing to digital opportunities that talk-with customers, rather than simply talk-at-‘em.” Cooke states that blogging has concrete benefits for anyone in the personality business. “If you’re an on-air host, blogging can deepen your connection with listeners, especially if you’re working music radio, and keep hearing ‘keep it moving.’ Blogging can also become the digital ‘inventory’ that agencies now expect to see included with on-air spots…or for you to monetize yourself.” Read Holland Cooke’s entire piece here.
Chris Duncan Returns to WXOS, St. Louis After Near Four-Month Absence. Former St. Louis Cardinals star and current member of “The Fast Lane” PM drive program on Hubbard Radio’s WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN,” Chris Duncan returned to his full-time position after almost four months. Duncan has been dealing with intensive surgeries, treatments and physical/occupational therapy for a brain tumor, which was diagnosed in 2012. He has been absent from his full-time co-host seat since October 8, 2012 but recently has been appearing on “The Fast Lane” for brief interviews during his treatment. He expresses his gratitude for all of the listener and fan support during his ordeal. “I’m really excited and grateful to be back on ‘The Fast Lane’ with Randy [Karraker] and D’Marco [Farr]. I’m blessed to work at a great place like ‘101 ESPN’ with such outstanding people, and the timing couldn’t have been better with spring training a couple of weeks away.” Program director Kent Sterling states, “Having Chris back makes the station whole again. He’s such a positive person on ‘101 ESPN’ and in the halls that he was missed on many levels. To have him back every day makes everyone smile around here, and hopefully the same is true for listeners of ‘The Fast Lane’.”
Dave Ramsey Takes Over Evenings in Memphis. Nationally syndicated financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey will be the evening talk talent at Clear Channel’s WREC, Memphis on April 19 when “The Daily Wrap” from The Wall Street Journal Radio Network ends. WREC program director Forrest Goodman states, “Dave has a powerful track record on radio. I am excited to add him to the station, where we feature the strongest names in talk, like Rush, Hannity and Beck.”
Welcome Back to Mike Gallagher After Recent Hospitalization. Nationally syndicated talk show host Mike Gallagher returns to the air today after being hospitalized in Greenville, South Carolina for double pneumonia early last week. The Salem Radio Network host tells TALKERS, “It was like Christmas in January for Piers Morgan, Bill Maher and Alan Colmes — Mike Gallagher with no voice. But I’m tanned, rested and ready to fight the good fight again starting Wednesday.”
Mapleton Shifts KYNS, San Luis Obispo from Progressive Talk to All-News. Mapleton’s KYNS, San Luis Obispo has been a progressive talk outlet since the days of Air America but now the signal is airing an all-news format under the brand “SLO Radio News 1340.” The station is using the long-form news blocks from America’s Radio News Network.
Odds & Sods. Talk personality Joe Madison will be the host for SiriusXM’s “Roots Town Hall” featuring original cast members from “Roots,” the groundbreaking television mini-series. Madison will interview LeVar Burton, Leslie Uggams, and Louis Gossett, Jr. before a select group of listeners at the SiriusXM studios in New York City. The program will commemorate the start of Black History Month and air live Tuesday, February 5 at 2:00 pm ET…..Buckley Radio names Mary Lou Gunn general manager of its Bakersfield cluster that includes hot AC KLLY, news/talk KSMJ, news/talk KNZR, and rhythmic oldies KKBB…..Clear Channel’s WTAM, Cleveland renews its agreement with Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians to be the flagship station through the 2017 season. As part of the deal, CC will air 144 of the games on FM rock station WMMS…..ESPN Audio prepares to debut a new podcast on February 4 featuring Michael Smith and Jemele Hill called, “His & Hers with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill.” Smith is host of “Numbers Never* Lie,” and Hill is an ESPN.com columnist and frequent contributor on various ESPN shows.
Immigration Reform, Kerry Confirmed/Hillary in 2016?, New Pro Athlete Doping Probe, North Korea Nuke Threat, and Gun Control Debate Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/29). The debate over immigration reform legislation; John Kerry’s succeeding Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Clinton’s possible run for president in 2016; the latest pro athlete doping probe; North Korea’s nuclear threat; and the controversy over gun control proposals were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Schnitt vs Bubba Trial Delayed for One Day After Schnitt’s Attorney Arrested for DUI. It’s a rather bizarre twist in what is a high-profile case in Tampa. The judge in the case granted a one-day delay in the trial after Charles Philip Campbell, Jr. was taken into custody Wednesday evening on suspicion of DUI. He refused to take a blood alcohol test and was released on $500 bond. The trial will resume today as nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt is suing Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) for defamation. Schnitt spent most of two days on the witness stand Tuesday and Wednesday. Clem’s attorney tried to score a few public sympathy points telling Fox 13 Tampa, “I’m shocked that the case was continued. I feel horrible for this jury that has been sequestered and pulled from their jobs, their lives and their families.” He told the TV station he didn’t understand why Schnitt’s other attorneys couldn’t handle the case.
KFI, Los Angeles Adds J.R. Martinez for Sunday Evening Program. The “Dancing with the Stars” champ, best-selling author and retired U.S. Army soldier begins his permanent role as host of the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm Sunday program on Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles this Sunday. J.R. Martinez was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and, shortly after arriving, his Humvee hit a roadside bomb that trapped him inside the burning vehicle. He suffered severe burns over 34% of his body and spent 34 months at Brooke Army Medical Center recovering. In October of 2012 he published Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit (Hyperion 2012) that became a New York Times best-seller. KFI program director Robin Bertolucci says, “He’s so inspirational and dynamic. He filled in for Bill Carroll during the holidays and I just had to have him join our line up! I’m thrilled he jumped at the opportunity and I’m excited to see what he will do with his own show.” Martinez replaces the David Cruz program. Cruz is concentrating on his four-hour daily program on sister progressive talk station KTLK.
WCNN, Atlanta Goes Local in Late Mornings. Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talker WCNN, Atlanta “Sports Radio 680 The Fan” is adding the new local show “The Front Row” for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart. The show stars Ray Mariner, Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran (pictured here from left to right). Golden and Finneran are also part of the “Rude Awakening” AM drive show (which will be trimmed by an hour to a 9:00 am stop beginning Monday). Mariner was co-host of the morning show on Lincoln Financial Media’s crosstown CHR WSTR “Star 94” until he exited that post back in May of 2012. The show replaces Fox Sports Radio/DirecTV’s Dan Patrick program.
Are You Ready for Some Baseball? Okay, so much of the country is in Super Bowl mode right now, but radio consultant Holland Cooke reports to TALKERS that with so many news/talk stations (as well as sports talk signals) carrying MLB play-by-play in their markets, now’s a good time to begin preparing to take advantage of those expensive rights. Cooke writes about ways to take ownership of the play-by-play beginning during spring training. Once the season starts, use brief promotional slots – like top-of-the-hour IDs – to promote the next game. Check out more on this in Holland Cooke’s Friday piece here.
Boomer Esiason Tackles TV and Radio on Super Bowl Sunday; Dial Global Handles Exclusive Radio Coverage. The NFL’s Super Bowl is usually the biggest TV event of the year but for the millions of Americans who can’t be near a TV, Dial Global’s exclusive radio play-by-play delivers the game. This year, Boomer Esiason and Kevin Harlan will be in the booth calling the game for Dial Global. But Boomer is also a CBS Sports employee (in addition to his AM drive work on WFAN, New York) and he’ll be on CBS TV as part of the pre-game show and the halftime broadcast. After he finishes the pre-game show from the field, he’ll move upstairs to the radio booth to call the game with Harlan. Talk about a busy day for Boomer! Dial Global’s coverage of the event also includes such experienced talent as James Lofton, Mark Malone, Jim Gray and Scott Graham. Joining Jim Gray for pre-game and halftime programming are NFL stars Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald. Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson will also be part of the extended pre-game program.
WFVA, Fredericksburg, Virginia Returns to News/Talk on Monday. After two years as an adult standards-formatted station, Centennial Broadcasting’s WFVA, Fredericksburg returns to airing a news/talk format using largely syndicated talent. The program schedule will include: Cumulus Media Networks’ Don Imus, Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin and Michael Savage as well as Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck. Ten year WFVA veteran Ted Schubel will continue as the station’s news director and will also host a one-hour local program titled, “Town Talk With Ted,” airing weekdays at 8:00 am. The show will introduce listeners to local businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence the Fredericksburg region. Centennial Fredericksburg market manager Tom Hamilton says, “It has been nearly two full years since WFVA changed from a news/talk station to adult standards format. During that time, we have paid attention to what our listeners have said. Overwhelmingly, they told us they wanted news/talk back on WFVA. By providing many of the most-listened-to talk show hosts in the nation, along with community involvement, local news and public affairs programming, we will better serve our listeners, our local businesses and our community.”
KFNX, Phoenix Adds New Syndicated Programming. Genesis Communications Network’s Alex Jones is part of the new lineup at Francis Battaglia-owned KFNX, Phoenix where he airs in the overnight time slot. Also added to the station’s program schedule is Dial Global and Cox Media’s Herman Cain from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; Dial Global’s Dennis Miller from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon; and Cumulus Media Networks’ Michael Savage who returns to the station to air in the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot.
Obama Second Term Agenda Top News/Talk Story During Week of January 21-25. The second term agenda of President Obama as outlined in his Inauguration Day speech was the top story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 this week was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony. At #3 was the battle in Washington over reducing the deficit and at #4 was the North Korea nuclear threat. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America and is based on ongoing research from TALKERS. View this week’s entire chart here.
By Steven J. J. Weisman
BOSTON — The success of any talk show is based on lively, entertaining and sometimes offensive speech. This is guaranteed by the First Amendment. In the landmark 1964 United States Supreme Court case of New York Times v. Sullivan, Justice William Brennan wrote for the majority that we have a “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks…”
The protection provided by the First Amendment is not unlimited however. When the speaker states mistruths with malice, that is he or she knows that what he is saying is a lie or makes statements with a reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements, the speaker can be held responsible for libel or slander.
There is another source of protection, however, for those of us who make our living making sometimes controversial statements and that is “opinion.” Not all opinion is protected, but when it is made about a matter of public concern, the speaker is protected by the First Amendment and that was the recent ruling of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department of New York when it ruled in the case of Gisel v. Clear Channel Communications, Inc..
The plaintiff, John Gisel had been found not guilty of criminally negligent homicide in regard to his fatally shooting a man in a hunting accident. The day after his acquittal, Gisel’s sister, Jacqueline Inzinga, went on Bob Lonsberry’s talk show on WHAM, Rochester to discuss the case. During their on-air discussion, Lonsberry asked Inzinga how it felt to have a brother who was a “cold-blooded murderer” and whether he “put a notch in the stock of his gun as he kills people?” Lonsberry also stated “that the hunting incident could not have been an accident…”
As a result of those statements, Gisel sued for defamation.
However, the court dismissed the case as a matter of law without even an evidentiary trial by concluding that Lonsberry’s comments qualified as pure opinion. The court stated that reasonable listeners would not conclude that Lonsberry was making statements of fact, but rather of his opinion in regard to underlying facts that were well known to the general public through extensive media coverage of the incident and the judicial hearing. The court also emphasized Lonsberry’s talk show as a “forum for public debate on newsworthy topics, and his statements were made during an on-air debate with his listeners regarding plaintiff’s culpability and whether the jury had properly acquitted plaintiff.” The court noted that the “tone of Lonsberry’s statements were obviously intended to be caustic and confrontational rather than factual” and they found nothing wrong with that. The court concluded that his statements were constitutionally protected expressions of pure opinion and therefore protected by law.