Tag: "Doc Walker"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

| April 1, 2014

mandisdanDan Mandis Hosts Early Afternoon Show at WWTN, Nashville.  Talk radio pro Dan Mandis is the new 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm personality at Cumulus Media’s WWTN, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7.”  Mandis, who spent years as executive producer of the Dr. Laura Program, has most recently been programming such talk radio outlets as Clear Channel’s KHOW and KKZN in Denver and Federated Media’s WOWO, Fort Wayne.  He also hosted thewwtn logo Saturday morning show on KOA, Denver.  With Mandis’ arrival at “SuperTalk 99.7,” the station is now live and local from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm.  He’ll follow morning host Ralph Bristol and late morning personality Michael DelGiorno while leading into PM drive host Phil Valentine.  WWTN program director Brian Wilson states, “We think Dan’s view of the world is just familiar enough to be comfortable for our audience and at the same time just different enough that he’ll make a lot of people stop and think twice about the disease behind the symptoms.  As the fourth leg to the table, we think all our core shows will complement each other.  The effect is that the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.”  Mandis comments, “There are so many reasons to be excited about this opportunity.  Being part of an amazing talk radio station on FM is one, and living in a great city like Nashville is another.  I honestly can’t wait to get started.”

mandersbill‘PowerTalk 96.7’ Fresno Host Bill Manders Receives Kidney from Teen Suicide Victim.  Afternoon drive personality Bill Manders returned to his show on Clear Channel’s news/talk duo KALZ and KRZR in Fresno after kidney transplant surgery three weeks ago.  According to local TV station KFSN, Manders received a kidney from a local teen who had just committed suicide.  It turns out 17-year-old Lexi Morris’ father Jason is a regular listener to Manders’ program and made the unusual request that Manders receive his daughter’s kidney.  As the story notes, this is not the usual procedure but the kidney was a perfect match.  Manders tells the TV station, “I was in tears when I heard her story, but I would rather concentrate on the plusses in her life.  She was smart, athletic, she has a great family, and I know she’s there looking down on me, so I’ve got to honor her.”  Read the whole story here.

hochmanshow groupMarc Hochman Officially Signs with Beasley to Host PM Drive on WQAM, Miami.  Nothing is ever official until the contract is signed but Marc Hochman’s departure from Lincoln Financial Media’s crosstown WAXY last fall with the intent on sitting out his non-compete and landing in PM drive at WQAM was one of radio’s worst-kept secrets.  As soon as it was legal (at 12:01 am on 4/1), Hochman (second from left) inked a pact with WQAM to begin his run as the station’s afternoon personality.  The new Marc Hochman show will also feature Zach Krantz (right), former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Sha Tabb (second from right), and longtime WQAM producer Victor Bermudez (left).  WQAM program director Andy King says, “Marc is an incredible talent and one of the most creative minds in radio.  His ability to blend sports, pop culture and humor into an entertaining show has led him to tremendous success throughout his career and I’m excited for him to continue that success here at 560 WQAM.”  Hochman adds, “I am the quintessential ‘radio nerd,’ so the opportunity for me to host an afternoon drive show on the most legendary sports talk station in Miami was one that I couldn’t pass up.  When I first moved to Miami in 1987, I listened to WQAM all the time.  Now, a little over 25 years later, I’ll be sitting behind that microphone, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!”  The station also announces that one of the most legendary voices in South Florida sports history, Howard Schnellenberger, has signed on as the imaging voice of the Marc Hochman show.  All the show intros and production will be voiced by Schnellenberger.

morganmelanieMelanie Morgan Returns to Radio in Santa Rosa.  Long time Bay Area news radio and talk radio pro Melanie Morgan (formerly with Cumulus Media’s KGO and KSFO, San Francisco and, for a time, with TRN’s “America’s ksro logoMorning News”) joined Sonoma Media Group-owned KSRO, Santa Rosa, California as news director and morning anchor.  She began her news director duties yesterday (3/31) and starts on-air next Monday (4/7).  Melanie replaces a heritage morning news anchor, David Wesley Page, who retired from radio about a month ago after nearly 30 years on the KSRO morning news.  Morgan is married to former longtime KGO program director Jack Swanson.

mitchellbrianBrian Mitchell and Scott Jackson Re-Up with WTEM, Washington.  Two of Doc Walker’s co-hosts on Red Zebra Broadcasting’s WTEM, Washington “ESPN980” are in the fold for another three years.  The companyjacksonscott announces that Brian Mitchell and Scott Jackson have extended their contracts with the station, keeping them on the “Inside the Locker Room” with Walker through 2017.  The mid-afternoon show teams former Washington Redskins Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell along with veteran talk show host Scott Jackson.  Mitchell has been a part of the “ESPN980” family for five years.  Brian also is a contributing member of the Washington Redskins Radio Network, offering analysis pre-game, post-game and during halftime.  Jackson has worked at WTEM for nine years and will serve in many additional roles, including hosting “Redskins Recap,” Mondays after Washington Redskins games and as the station’s lead NBA analyst.  Vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says, “’Inside the Locker Room’ has been a ratings success.  To have all three guys under contract for the next few years makes our station stronger.  Doc, B-Mitch and Jack have so much fun on the air, you can’t help but laugh along with them while listening.”

businessrockstars radioBusiness Rockstars Radio Affiliates with CRN Digital Talk Radio.  This week “Business Rockstars Radio,” hosted by Ken Rutkowski began an affiliation relationship with CRN Digital Talk Radio.  The program that features “Rockstar” CEOs, entrepreneurs, and start-ups targeting the 30 million “Wantrepreneurs” in the U.S., joins CRN’s integrated audio platform combining television, radio and social media.  CRN Digital Talk Radio CEO Mike Horn says, “We’re thrilled about our new partnership with ‘Business Rockstars Radio,’ a show with such compelling content, we’ve decided to air it three different times across our platform.  ‘Business Rockstars Radio’ is the only crn logonational entrepreneurial radio show that brings in ‘Rockstar’ CEOs and entrepreneurs combined with the magic of Ken Rutkowki’s talent and continuing with each guest on the show.  We are also excited to partner with the legendary Steve Lehman, a name synonymous with cutting-edge talk radio.”  Lehman adds, “We’re excited to expand the Business Rockstars Radio footprint by joining Mike Horn’s renowned CRN Digital Talk Radio Network.  This new alliance will add an additional 11 million television households across the U.S. to the Business Rockstars Radio Network, allowing us to reach more ‘Wantrepreneurs’ with fun, fast-paced, and compelling content about growing, starting, and funding businesses.”  Business Rockstars Radio guests include some of the biggest CEOs and entrepreneurs daily, including: Nolan Bushnell (Atari and Chuck E. Cheese Founder), Akon (musician and entrepreneur), Daymond John (Host of ABC’s “Shark Tank”), Cheryl Tiegs (model, actress and entrepreneur), Thom Beers (CEO of Freemantle Media), Scott Painter (Founder and CEO of TruCar) and many others.

kinosianmikeSports Talk Post-Super Bowl.  The American sports (and money!) juggernaut that is the National Football League plays a huge role in the success of sports talk radio in America.  Not to disparage the MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA, but it’s clearly the most successful and popular league in professional sports in America.  So, what effect does the end of the NFL’s season the first weekend in February have on sports talk stations?  TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian takes an in-depth look at sports talk radio’s performance in PPM markets leading up to the Super Bowl and in the month that follows.  Check out his report here.

journalbroadcastgroupMcHale Named VP/CTO for Journal Broadcast Group.  The Milwaukee-based company announces Brian McHale is its new vice president and chief technology officer, overseeing “the leadership, management, implementation and long-term planning of the company’s technical and physical infrastructure across its 13 television stations and 35 radio stations in 11 states.”  Journal Broadcast Group also says McHale will “ensure the efficient and on-schedule delivery of media content, identify emerging technologies and how to profitably deploy them, and work closely with Journal’s leadership team to develop the company’s operational and strategic direction.”  McHale comes to Journal from Seattle’s Fisher Communications where he was vice president of technology.

deanmichaelwHow to Help Your Remote Guests Shine.  Radio is a busy business and sometimes hosts must process guests with a level of assembly-line speed that doesn’t always allow for the kind of attention to detail that can make the difference between a quality broadcast and a tune-out.  Many interviews on radio sound like there was no forethought to audio quality.  And many guests sound like they were thrown into an unfamiliar situation with no preparation.  In a very helpful, extensive advice piece posted today (4/1) Genesis Communications Network (GCN) talk show host Michael W. Dean (“The Freedom Feens” and “Michael Dean After Dark”) offers advice on how to maximize the quality of your remote guests covering everything from programming content to technical delivery in today’s frenzied radio environment.  To read it in its entirety, please click here.

ObamaCare Criticism, Russian Aggression, North and South Korean Tensions, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Discrepancies, Global Warming, and “Noah” Criticism Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/31).  Scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the international implications of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Eastern Europe and President Obama’s dealings with Vladimir Putin; heating tensions between North and South Korea; conflicting information from the Malaysian government about the disappearance of Flight 370; renewed debate about global climate change; and criticism of the new film “Noah” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Monday, March 26, 2012

| March 26, 2012

Cumulus Makes Changes at KLIF, Dallas.  The move toward more news in commercial spoken-word radio continues.  Cumulus Media Group announces talk station KLIF, Dallas will add morning and afternoon drive news blocks and changes its slogan to “News & Information 570 KLIF.”  The AM drive news block begins today (3/26) and features Amy Chodroff (from sister WBAP) and Dave Williams co-anchoring the program.  Williams most recently worked at Merlin Media’s all-newser in Chicago.  The PM drive news block is expected to begin on April 2.  The changes mean morning drive talk host Jeff Bolton is out and PM drive talk host Chris Krok will move to sister WBAP-AM/FM for an evening talk show.

Current TV’s Bill Press and Stephanie Miller Simulcasts Debut Today.  The new one-two punch of progressive radio talk stars hitting the air at Al Gore-founded Current TV begins this morning (3/26) as Dial Global syndicated talk hosts Bill Press and Stephanie Miller air TV simulcasts of their morning drive radio programs on Current TV.  “Full Court Press: The Bill Press Show” airs from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and “Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show” follows from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm ET.  The network announces that Senator Chris Coons, (D-DE); Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post; Faiz Shakir of Think Progress; and Lara Setrakian of ABC News and Bloomberg are all scheduled to appear during the premiere week of “Full Court Press.”  The first week of “Talking Liberally” will feature Senator Byron Dorgan (ND – Former U.S. Senator and Chairman of The Senate Committee on Energy), as well as comedienne Kathleen Madigan.

Hubbard Broadcasting Names Emily Kopp WFED Morning Anchor.  Hubbard Broadcasting announces a permanent addition to the morning drive show on WFED, Washington – the station dedicated to serving the many federal government workers living in the region.  Emily Kopp joins host Tom Temin on the morning drive program.  Kopp joined Federal News Radio in 2011 after living in the Netherlands where she reported on a freelance basis for various radio network and print outlets.  Prior to her promotion, Kopp served Federal News Radio as a federal workforce reporter.  Since July 2011, Kopp has produced several compelling series that focused on key human aspects of working for the federal government.  WFED program director Lisa Wolfe states, “Emily had been filling in as co-anchor while we’ve been conducting our talent search for the next morning anchor.  Her talents were obvious and when we got together to discuss the possibility of making it permanent, it just made sense.  I look forward to Emily bringing her well-crafted interview style to mornings.  I think she will uncover a lot of news.”

WTEM, Washington Launches New Afternoon Sports Talk Show Today.  Red Zebra-owned WTEM, Washington announces the debut of “Inside the Locker Room with Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell” today (3/26).  The show teams up former Washington Redskins Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell along with broadcast pro Scott Jackson.  Walker continues with the station after 15 years, most recently serving as co-host of the John Thompson show.  Both Mitchell and Jackson return to WTEM after several years’ absence.  VP of programming Chuck Sapienza states, “With Doc and B-Mitch, ESPN 980’s lineup includes the two most prominent former players in Washington, DC media today.  Listeners of the show will receive opinions and insight from professional athletes that is rarely offered on local radio.  In addition, Jackson gives the show a ‘point guard’ that every successful program needs.”  The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

KXTG, Portland Re-Signs John Canzano.  “The Bald Faced Truth” host re-ups with Alpha Broadcasting’s sports KXTG on a multi-year deal to remain with the station.  John Canzano also writes a column for the Daily Oregonian and is a commentator for KGW-TV, Portland.  Upon announcing the deal, Canzano commented, “Sports talk listeners of ‘The Bald Faced Truth’ radio show are smart, educated, good looking, influential and relevant.  I love my audience, my sponsors and this station.  I’m staying right here because ‘The Game’ is the place to be. Period.”

Southern California Public Radio Names Melanie Sill Executive Editor.  The former editor at the Sacramento Bee and the Raleigh News and Observer takes over the executive editor role at Southern California Public Radio.  Her duties include overseeing the daily news gathering operations across KPCC, Pasadena’s broadcast, digital and social media platforms.  KPCC VP for content Russ Stanton states, “Sill brings a wealth of news and managerial experience to this new position.  Most importantly, she has been a force of change in two newsrooms, leading efforts to restructure staffs to better compete in the digital age.”  The Southern California Public Radio website announces the non-profit is aggressively working to build out its online news service with ambitions to become the region’s pre-eminent source for information across multiple media.

Jacksonville Gets FM Simulcast for Sports WJXL.  Seven Bridges Radio LLC buys the former Gospel WFJO-FM, Jacksonville (a class A FM signal at 92.5) from receiver Scott Savage for $1.95 million and begins an LMA immediately simulcasting its sports station 1010 XL (WJXL).  The station was formerly owned by Tama Broadcasting.

Smerconish Visits Boston.  Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish (center, standing) chats with WTKK-FM, Boston listeners at a private meet & greet on March 20 prior to the national screening of his movie, “Book Club with Michael Smerconish Featuring Chris MatthewsJack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.”  In addition to the meet & greet, Smerconish conducted a curtain call speech before the showing of the film at the Cinema De Lux in Dedham, Massachusetts before a sold out theater.  The film appeared at more than 100 theaters across the country on that evening.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

| March 14, 2012

America’s Radio News Network Develops Second Radio Network Featuring 24/7 News Reports.  The long-form news venture crafted by Talk Radio Network known as America’s Radio News Network – which is successfully distributing three-hour blocks of all-news content to more than 275 affiliate stations – is announcing the creation of a second network dedicated to top- and bottom-of-the-hour news, breaking news bulletins, special reports and newsmaker interviews.  ARNN executive vice president for news John McCaslin states, “‘Journalism Without Agenda’ is not just a marketing phrase at America’s Radio News – it’s a code we live by – and the marketplace has responded so strongly to our long-form, all-news product that the second news network of our short-form top- and bottom-of-the-hour news (plus audio actualities, special reports, news maker interviews etc…) was a natural outgrowth of this demand.  We are honored to be the fastest-growing brand in news radio.  We truly are ‘Journalism Without Agenda.’  This is something stations not only deeply appreciate, but have a need for like never before.”  CEO Mark Masters says this means affiliate stations will not have to “break away” for news.  “Bottom line, ARNN is now the complete ‘go-to’ radio news network ­ for urgent breaking newscasts on the hour and half-hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, along with our intriguing and diverse lineup of newsmaker interviews in addition to our large array of three-hour, long-form weekday news blocks our listeners enjoy each weekday.”  The new service begins April 2.

Dan Sileo Let Go from WDAE, Tampa After “Monkeys” Comment.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Tampa Bay sports talk outlet has parted company with morning drive sports talk host Dan Sileo after he referred to three NFL free agents as “monkeys.”  During an exchange with producer Darek Sharp about whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should go after Cortland Finnegan, Jonathan Vilma and Vincent Jackson in free agency, Sileo reportedly said, “No! No!  If they get those three monkeys, I’m good!  I’m ready, man.  I’m ready.  I want those guys.  Those guys are great players.”  WDAE program director Steve Versnick confirmed to the Tampa Bay Tribune that Sileo is no longer with the station but would not comment on why due to the station’s policy of not discussing personnel matters.  The Tampa Bay Times reports the station apologized specifically for Sileo’s remarks.  As for Sileo, he tweeted to the TimesEric Deggans that he didn’t even realize what he’d said until someone told him.  Versnick told the Tribune Rock Riley will fill in for Sileo and the station is seeking a permanent replacement.  Dan Sileo has written about sports talk radio for TALKERS in the past.

Aggressive Agenda Being Set for New Media Seminar.  The first of several key panel rosters for the New York installment of this year’s New Media Seminar has been announced and it promises to provide a powerful overview of the state of talk radio.  Titled “Spoken Word Radio 2012, the Big Picture,” the lineup includes (in alphabetical order): Phil Boyce, VP/director, Spoken Word Format, Salem Communications; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Mike McVay, senior VP programming, Cumulus Media; and Chris Oliviero,  senior VP programming, CBS RadioMichael Harrison, publisher of TALKERS will moderate.  According to Harrison, “This year’s New Media Seminar will tackle a number of pressing issues facing the industry during this most transitional and turbulent year.”  The 2012 version of the industry’s longest-running and most important national convention will feature a new, innovative format designed for the times – broken into two separate events:  New York on Thursday, June 7 and Los Angeles on Thursday, October 11.  Each will present a power-packed agenda and offer affordable, accessible registration fees to its attendees.  Registration, however, is limited and only open to members of the working media. For details, click here.

Dial Global and Dennis Miller Celebrate the Host’s Five-Year Anniversary with a New Contract.  The announcement from Dial Global doesn’t get specific – it calls it a long-term deal – but Dennis Miller’s gig as a nationally syndicated talk show host will continue.  He began in 2007 with Westwood One and is currently heard on more than 300 affiliate stations and, according to DG, in 24 of the top 24 markets.  Dial Global co-president/CEO David Landau says, “We are ecstatic about our relationship with Dennis and thrilled to be associated with a rock star and national treasure of this magnitude.”  Miller is a regular contributor to Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”  Miller and O’Reilly have been involved in a live event series dubbed the “Bolder & Fresher Tour 2011-2012” and have added new dates to that tour including June 22 in Indianapolis and June 23 in Chicago.  Miller says of his radio success, “It has been a fine five years with a great and growing audience that I enjoy riffing with.  As I bask in the glorious wake of modest achievement, I look forward to many more years behind the microphone.”

Saga Communications Reports Revenue Down 3.6% in Q4 of 2011.  But for the entire year of 2011, Saga Communications was down just a hair – to $127.3 million in net revenue.  The good news for Saga is free cash flow was up 3.6% for the quarter and 9% for the year.  Also, Saga was able to reduce its debt by $27 million to $69.1 million.  One thing Saga is enjoying that many other broadcasting companies surely covet is a healthy stock price.  Saga’s stock closed at $41.40 per share on Tuesday – up 6.7%.

Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington Locks Up Doc Walker for Three More Years.  The midday sports talk host was most recently partnered with John Thompson at WTEM but Thompson left his daily talk show host role at the station last month.  Now, Red Zebra vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says the company has signed Rick “Doc” Walker to a three-year contract extension and the station will feature Walker in a new 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm program beginning March 26.  Walker is also part of the broadcast team for the Washington Redskins Radio Network.  Red Zebra CEO Rick Carmean states, “Doc has become an integral part of WTEM and its success for the better part of 15 years.  We are excited for him to be a part of the new show and our Redskins broadcasts.”

Cumulus Media Networks Partners with APM Music for Production Library Services.  Music library giant APM Music – a joint venture of EMI Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing – partners with Cumulus Media Networks to offer its music library services to client stations.  APM’s collection of music is described as offering “every imaginable genre including music from current indie bands to big sound orchestral trailer cues to a full classical music repertoire.”  CMN SVP of affiliate sales and broadcast operations Dennis Green says, “Cumulus Media Networks is proud to add the APM music production library to its growing stable of products and services available to stations all over the country.  APM’s library is the largest and best in the industry which will provide stations the foundation for outstanding commercial production.”

Dan LeBatard Show Markets Content via CDBaby.  The WAXY, Miami PM drive show Dan LeBatard with Stugotz & Hochman is marketing some of its best-of material via CDBaby.  The program has a sizable podcast following but this is the first foray in to digital media marketing.  As the deal is structured, the show and station owner Lincoln Financial Media both share in the revenue.  The “CD” is available through CDBaby.com, iTunes, Amazon and several other digital media sites.  Marc Hochman (who is currently also program director of WAXY but is stepping down to focus on the LeBatard show) reports LeBatard’s national profile has “grown exponentially since the debut of his daily TV show, ‘Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable,’ on ESPN 2 which is aired every day at 4:00 pm ET.”  Pictured here is the “CD cover” of the digital download.  Hochman says there will be no physical CDs, just the download.

GOP Southern Primaries/2012 Presidential Race, Soaring Gas Prices, Afghanistan Killings Aftermath, and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/13).  Yesterday’s southern primaries for the GOP contenders and the 2012 presidential race in general; the nation’s soaring gas prices and its impact on President Obama’s approval numbers; the aftermath of the killing of 16 Afghanistan civilians by a U.S. soldier; and the ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Monday, December 19, 2011

| December 19, 2011

Filling in for the Holidays.  Today marks the beginning of “holiday fill-in season” on talk radio which pretty much runs through the rest of the year.  It is the time when a significant percentage of full-time hosts working at individual radio stations (and even syndicated hosts for that matter) take all or part of their annual vacations.  This process provides fill-in hosts and part-time weekend and bench hosts with the opportunity to get out there and hopefully shine.  It also has the potential to provide listeners with fresh voices and perspectives.  And it always presents already overworked programmers with the challenge of keeping their schedules flowing and appealing.  They want someone who is professional and interesting – but they also want someone who won’t upset the applecart of stationality or listener expectations.  WGN, Chicago PD Bill White explains, “I equate a fill-in host to someone hosting a dinner party in someone else’s home.  Fill-in hosts should be respectful of the regular host’s audience but not rearrange all the furniture.  We also look for fill-in hosts who will be comfortable and compliment the regular host’s audience.”  Thus, qualified substitutes are a valuable commodity at this time of year when the demand for their services is drastically increased, especially when most stations’ air staffs have been cut back or depleted due to the economy and PDs must look for help from outside.  For example, one of the industry’s most popular substitutes, former congressman and KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth is subbing for Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated host Todd Schnitt on 12/20 and 12/28.  He’ll be heard on hosting local shows on KXNT-FM, Las Vegas on 12/23 and 12/29-30; WLS, Chicago on 12/24, 28-30; WGST, Atlanta on 12/26; KOGO-AM/FM, San Diego on 12/27; and WPHT, Philadelphia on 12/28-30.  Demand for quality substitutes is so high that some hosts already doing full-time work use it as an opportunity to pick up extra income and exposure.  As if he is not already doing enough on his “regular” gigs, hard working and extremely talented Clear Channel talk host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo (KPRC, Houston; WOAI, San Antonio; KOA, Denver; and “The Weekend”) fills in for Premiere Networks syndicated star Glenn Beck on 12/20, 23, 28 and 30. This year’s holiday season coming in the thick of the big election cycle creates even more pressure to keep stations on track.  Greater Media-owned WTKK-FM, Boston PD Grace Blazer tells TALKERS, “It’s important at 96.9 FM-WTKK to provide our audience with relevant shows throughout the holiday season that are timely and topical.  Our host vacation schedules are scattered and their fill-ins are often regular participants to their shows and share similar philosophies.  Since January 2012 is a huge month for presidential politics and New Hampshire is our neighbor, I think it’s imperative to keep 96.9 Boston Talks ‘primarily’ intact and compelling.”  At Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ, Fresno, PD Skip Essick likes to avoid throwing curves to listeners, “I try and keep programming as normal as possible.  This year it will not be as much of a challenge with Christmas Eve and Day on the weekend – same thing over New Years.  But, for instance, the day after Thanksgiving – which was designated as a company holiday – I ran full staff with regular programming.  I’ll do the same for Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and the numerous Monday holidays throughout the year.  In a nutshell – if our listeners are at work, so are we.”  Some hosts prefer to work over the holidays and at Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR, New York, program director Scott Lakefield tells TALKERS that’s the case.  “For instance, John Gambling began a ‘tradition’ of sorts of taking his ‘holiday’ vacation in January.  He will be live 12/27-30.  Generally speaking, though, my theory is to try to do ‘best-of’ compendium shows during vacation times, with the exception of drive-time when information is a bigger component and it is thus necessary to be live.  Guest hosts in my experience drive far more listeners away than hearing some ‘classic’ moments from their favorite hosts does.”  In the sports talk radio world this situation can be particularly compelling since so many outlets have a high percentage of local full-time hosts and thus more slots to fill.  Plus, opinions and personality categories in sports talk are often more idiosyncratic than general news/talk, making it more challenging to find the proper fit.  CBS-owned Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh PD Terry Foxx tells TALKERS, “Holiday fill-in for us is very important.  I match up our part-time hosts based on how I feel they will entertain and incite opinions from our fans in certain day parts.”  Some stations have fill-in hosts with a history at the station such as veteran TV/radio personality Wayne Powers who subs for Keith Larson on WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte 12/26-30…  and the list goes on.  J.D. Hayworth, who is looking to get back into the business on a regular basis as either a local or syndicated host, tells TALKERS, “As a genuine ‘broadcasting baby boomer,’ I remember the ubiquitous Robert Q. Lewis on TV game shows: most frequently, a panelist…but quite frequently, a guest host…and eventually a regular host!  So, I’m being ‘Lewis-like’ over the holidays!  During my years at N.C. State, the joke was Lou Holtz recruited me at right tackle, but I ended up ‘left out!’  So…I’m used to waiting on the the bench, but very happy to get loads of holiday airtime. I’m certain these appearances will help me leave the bench and get back in the game full time!”

John Thompson Ends Regular Talk Show at WTEM, Washington.  The iconic former Georgetown University basketball coach and talk host in the DC market since 1999 will step away from his regular show on Red Zebra’s WTEM in February to pursue other interests.  Red Zebra director of programming Chuck Sapienza says, “While a sad day for the station, we fully support Coach Thompson’s decision to move on to other projects.  As Coach and I discussed at the time of his decision, this is not a retirement.  His fans will still hear Coach Thompson on ESPN980 from time to time.  Thompson’s program airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm daily with co-host Doc Walker.  Sapienza doesn’t state what the station’s plans are after Thompson steps down.

Chattanooga’s Brewer Media to Drop News/Talk on WPLZ-FM Citing Expense of the Format.  It’s been three years since the locally owned Brewer Media put a news/talk format on WPLZ-FM, Chattanooga.  Owner Jim Brewer II tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press he would have needed more staff to be competitive in the market.  “I think we offered a good product and I will miss having news/talk in our building…being a small, single market cluster, it’s exceedingly difficult to compete against national broadcasting companies who have so much syndicated programming and infrastructure.”  The station will flip to an unspecified music format in the new year and will lay off talk hosts Robert T. Nash and David Karnes as well as PD Gary Poole, news director Louis Lee and a couple other employees.  Brewer Media owns three other FMs in the market including sports talk WALV – ESPN 105.1.

Birach Broadcasting Flips WWCS, Pittsburgh to Sports; Affiliates with Fox Sports Radio.  Birach Broadcasting has been airing a Spanish music format on the signal but flips to sports on January 1 as Fox Sports 540.  It’ll take most of the Fox Sports Radio Network-distributed lineup – Zakk & Jack, the Dan Patrick show, “Loose Cannons,” Petros & Money, “Fox Sports Tonight” and JT the Brick plus Premiere NetworksJim Rome.  FSRN vice president and general manager Don Martin states, “After a short hiatus, Fox Sports Radio is thrilled to be heard again in the great city of Pittsburgh!”  The network was previously affiliated with Clear Channel’s WBGG.  In addition to CC’s WBGG, CBS Radio operates sports KDKA-FM in the market.

Dr. Jenn Berman to Host New VH1 Program “Couples Therapy.”  Los Angeles-based psychotherapist and host of the Sirius XM talk show, “The Love and Sex Show with Dr. Jenn,” is the host of a new cable TV show produced by Irwin Entertainment, the producers of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”  The program will follow the travails of five celebrity couples and they go through therapy with Dr. Jenn Berman.  Shows hit the air in the spring.  Dr. Berman tells TALKERS magazine, “It’s such a pleasure to be a part of this exciting venture on VH1.  I’m looking forward to being that connecting link between viewers and the process of examining the challenges of a celebrity relationship.  I think people will be very surprised by how much they identify with these celebs and their personal struggles.”  Couples taking part in the program are: DMX (Rapper) & Tashera Simmons, Linda Hogan (“Hogan Knows Best”) & Charlie Hill, Chris Nirschel (“The Next Food Network Star”) & Angelina Pivarnick (“Jersey Shore”), Kasey Kahl (“Bachelorette”) & Vienna Girardi (“The Bachelor”) and Reichen Lehmkuhl & Rodiney Santiago (“The A-List: New York”).

Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels Named to State Travel Commission.  Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announces WJIM, Lansing-based talk host Michael Patrick Shiels – heard throughout the state via the Michigan Talk Network – will serve on the Michigan Travel Commission.  “One of the key components to building a better and stronger Michigan is to continuously promote all the attractions our state has to offer, including our beautiful lakes and great landmarks.  Michael Patrick Shiels is a great addition and uniquely positioned to be a great asset to the commission.”  In addition to his radio work, Shiels is a travel writer and founder of TravelTattler.com.  Subject to approval by the Michigan Senate, Shiels will serve the remainder of Jim Berryman’s term through September 2014. Berryman recently resigned.

Ira Weintraub Takes PD Role at WTKA, Ann Arbor.  Cumulus Media Ann Arbor names APD and morning show producer Ira Weintraub program director for sports talk outlet WTKA – The Ticket 1050.  Market manager Matt Spaulding says, “Ann Arbor is a market with a tradition of providing compelling, passionate and relevant broadcast products to the listeners of southeast Michigan.  Ira Weintraub has absolutely earned this promotion and we are confident that he will help lead WTKA to many more years of broadcasting success.”

WGN, Chicago’s Milt Rosenberg Hosts 2011 Retrospective Tonight.  “Extension 720” host Milt Rosenberg hosts a special edition of his program this evening (12/19) titled, “WGN Year in Review” with fellow WGN personalities Garry Meier, John Williams and David Kaplan.  The hosts will look back on the stories that made the year 2011 from the Rod Blagojevich case to the death of Osama bin Laden to the hiring of Theo Epstein as the Cubs’ general manager.  The program airs at 10:00 pm.