Tag: "Don Martin"
Joe McDonnell: LA Saddened at Giant-Size Talent’s Passing. How “big” was Joe McDonnell in Los Angeles? Consider this: Friday’s (3/13) lead item for several newscasts on the city’s only all-news station, CBS Radio‘s KNX, was that the 58-year-old McDonnell – widely-known as “Big Joe” or “The Big Nasty” – had passed away. “Big” references regarded his weight, approximately 700 pounds at one time; however, the sports talk host underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost roughly more than half of that. “Nasty” became a handle owing to his highly opinionated nature. The overwhelming majority of those familiar with McDonnell’s exemplary on-air work in Los Angeles would quickly associate him with being a “legendary” or “iconic” sports talk radio “fixture” and that would certainly be accurate. He was, however, among the rarest of on-air talents in the country’s second-largest market, in that, in addition to doing a nightly (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm) sports program (“The Joe McDonnell Experience”) on Clear Channel‘s (now iHeartMedia) KLAC, he also did a Sunday (12:00 noon – 2:00 pm) political talk program (“The Joe McDonnell Show”) on co-owned KTLK-AM (now KEIB). Most recently, McDonnell did fill-in work at KNX. Reaction to his death has continued virtually nonstop, with a who’s who in local and national media, as well as executives of major sports franchises, offering condolences. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew McDonnell ever since Scioscia first came up as a catcher in the Dodgers’ organization. “He was a good friend who will be missed. It’s sad,” Scioscia states. On Twitter, Keith Olbermann writes, “Heartbroken to learn of death of LA radio legend, my friend, Joe McDonnell. He leaves us having never held a grudge.” Ken Rosenthal comments, “So sad to hear about the passing of Joe McDonnell, a one-of-a-kind sports personality in Los Angeles and a reporter at heart.” Several years ago, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian, then the special features editor for Inside Radio, did an extensive profile of McDonnell, who freely used the word “idiot” to describe someone with whom he disagreed. It was a trademark of the bombastic on-air persona of “The Big Nasty” and customarily delivered in vitriol by the dean of Los Angeles radio sports talk hosts. McDonnell garnered legions of dedicated fans. Once – to benefit charity – he accepted the challenge of co-workers and successfully completed a four-hour shift without uttering one negative. In his profile, Kinosian shattered the myth about McDonnell and let the truth be told that in real-life, McDonnell was a far cry from the manic personality listeners were accustomed to hearing. Pensive and completely conscientious McDonnell qualified as a native Angelino, having relocated from Philadelphia in 1959 at age three with his parents. “I loved radio and wouldn’t go anywhere without it,” he fondly recalled to Kinosian. “I’d go to bed listening to it and wake up with it. I went through radios [as others] went through socks. Even when doing homework, I had the radio on.” Although thoroughly enthralled by the medium, McDonnell at that time never thought about pursuing a career in it. Family members urged him to be a lawyer, but McDonnell formulated sportswriter aspirations while attending L.A. Valley College and Cal State – Northridge. His radio career was, in his words, “a total accident.” A high school buddy McDonnell hadn’t seen in a while told him he received academic credit for working at a radio station. That was all it took for McDonnell: He scored an interview for a newsroom opening at KGIL in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and his first day was September 18, 1975 – the day they arrested Patty Hearst. “I was so excited to be there and hung around to watch what everybody did. Then the story broke and I wound up staying until 10:00 pm. I fell in love with radio my first day and knew this was for me.” Freelance sports opportunities later surfaced for him at Mutual, AP Radio, and UPI Radio and he adroitly transitioned into a daily field correspondent. Play-by-play was briefly tinkered with, but long enough for McDonnell to know it didn’t captivate him. Something else did and as he flatly asserted to Kinosian, “My interest in politics is equal to my interest in sports. They are jobs but they are [also] passions. I love being able to show another side of my life. I am very liberal but do not [rubber-stamp] everything simply because that is what [other liberals] say you should do. I take things on a position-by-position basis. It is impossible and disingenuous to be one way on every subject. No one can ever accuse me of being a phony.” The first Gulf War was underway when he hosted a general talk show on KFI, Los Angeles. America’s first casualty came as a result of friendly fire. Soon after that, the victim’s widow drove to KFI one Sunday afternoon and McDonnell did two hours with her. “It was the most gut-wrenching, yet most fulfilling, thing I’ve done on radio,” he told Kinosian. “Quite honestly, I didn’t know I was capable of pulling it off. People heard me do sports and wondered what I knew about [politics]. I had to win them over.” Multiple Golden Microphone award winner McDonnell toiled in the Southland at KMAX and KWNK between 1994 – 1997; won raves doing sports updates for (then-all news) KFWB; and was part of the original 1992 staff transitioning KMPC to all-sports – although the outbreak of the L.A. riots was the considerably more monumental story the night of the format flip. For numerous personal and professional reasons, a five-year run beginning in 2000 as KSPN “ESPN 710,” Los Angeles’ assistant program director and afternoon driver profoundly affected him. “My first three years there were great,” McDonnell declared to Kinosian. “I had a say in what went on and helped build KSPN from the ground up with [KABC & KSPN OM] Erik Braverman who was my KFI producer. Unfortunately when Erik decided he wanted to concentrate on KABC, they brought in people who didn’t share our ideas.” It was one different concept after another and became the beginning of the end for McDonnell there. “They killed morale and dissolved everything we did. I wanted to leave every day the last two years I was there but made so much money I would’ve been put in a mental institution if I quit.” From the minute McDonnell walked into the Burbank offices of KLAC to interview with KLAC general manager/program director & KTLK program director Don Martin, he sensed something different. “This might sound crazy – but I really liked that they made me earn my position. Don put me on KTLK and let me do some KLAC fill-in. It meant a lot when he said I assimilated with the audience and staff. People have this idea you expect everything be given to you.” Being a sports talk host was a 24 hour-a-day job for McDonnell because, “Information doesn’t stop.” His shows were frequently punctuated with “24” and “Da Ali G” clips and laced with abundant/energetic hip-hop tracks as bumpers. At first, longtime “McDonnell – Douglas” partner Doug Krikorian wasn’t part of the equation for the “Joe McDonnell Experience,” although the Long Beach Press-Telegram sportswriter joined the ensemble to deliver weekly “K-Files” reports. After all, it was Krikorian who hung the “Big Nasty” moniker on McDonnell when Big Joe collared/disposed of a rowdy patron one night at their favorite hangout. Naturally, the subject of McDonnell’s weight came up in the Kinosian profile of him and McDonnell said that even before the gastric bypass procedure, the heavy burden he was carrying didn’t really bother him. He did however eventually begin slowing down, getting sick, and spending more time at home. “I stopped going to games because it was uncomfortable. My doctor told me I had to do something. Any addict – and I’m definitely a food addict – thinks you can do it on your own.” That’s the fallacy and something an addict desperately wants to believe but McDonnell stressed it can not be done alone. “It got to the point where I realized I was going to die. I had the surgery and lost 300 pounds. On Christmas Day, I put slabs of turkey and prime rib on a plate [surrounded with] potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. I took it to the table and had a bite of each. Hey look – I’m a food addict and always will be.” The old Joe most likely would’ve avoided on-air surgery mentions. If it did pop up, he probably would’ve been brutal in challenging the person referencing it. A much mellower McDonnell made a conscious decision when he left KSPN that the “Big Nasty” had died. “It was a great vehicle for what I needed – but – that really isn’t me,” he emphasized to Kinosian. “I’m opinionated and will raise my voice but I’m a nice guy and like to have fun. One reason I love my job is it allows me to hang with people.” Conceding it was a “shortcoming” on his part as a talk show host to refrain from mentioning much about his personal life, McDonnell declared, “You can’t be isolated and expect to reach your audience; you have to let them in on your life. For the most part, I refused to do that. Don Martin and I had a long talk about that and he said the best on-air people let you know about them.” A happy, healthy, and exuberant McDonnell chatted up his March 30, 2007 wedding to KLOS’ lovely Elizabeth Cohn (now working at cross-town Bonneville-owned KSWD “The Sound”). “I finally met someone who will put up with me and I [married] the most wonderful person in the world,” McDonnell emphasized in that profile. Joe and Elizabeth worked together for four years inside ABC Radio Los Angeles (now Cumulus Media) and basically didn’t say a word to each other. “She understands I’ll occasionally make fun of her on-air and exaggerate things but my life is now an open book.” Numerous health ailments – some nearly life-threatening – plagued McDonnell and he frequently credited Elizabeth as being the rock who held him together. An avowed movie junkie, McDonnell would go to as many as three or four in one day. It was his way to relax and escape. “One of the biggest benefits of losing weight is I can fit into theater seats. That was honestly a problem before.” Such McDonnell segments as “Who Do You Want To Kick Out Of LA?” gave him a Northeast-sounding vibe, but his entire nearly 40-year career was spent in Los Angeles. The ardent WWE fan told Kinosian, “It would take a million dollar offer for me to leave Los Angeles. In the early-1990s, I had a chance to work for a friend in Nashville and had a big offer to go to Seattle in 1994 but my mother had cancer so I wasn’t about to leave town. There was a preliminary discussion years ago with WFAN, New York about being a reporter/weekend host but Los Angeles is my home. I’m part of the radio landscape.” Eerie now, but McDonnell confided to Kinosian in that lengthy printed conversation, “All the stuff I’ve done is leading up to something. I’ve always felt there was a bigger plan for me and a different path. God has kept me around for a reason – but I don’t know what it is. With what I’ve put myself through, any other person would have been dead by now.” Even at his heaviest, the voracious reader managed to stay in “fairly good shape.” The only weakness until recently was with his knees. According to McDonnell, “The ultimate moment for me would be to somehow find out who really killed John F. Kennedy.” As for the once “Big Nasty,” no cause of death was reported; several reports – including the one on KNX – said he died at Los Angeles’ Good Samaritan Hospital after a “brief illness.” A two-hour Friday night (3/13) Jeff Biggs-hosted show on KSPN paid tribute to McDonnell, who typically aired his “Kick Out” segment Fridays. Poignant, touching, and chillingly appropriate, the final word was given to Elizabeth McDonnell who somehow managed to summon up the strength in her voice to utter she wanted to kick Joe out of LA. Dramatic, goose-bump radio. “When I die,” McDonnell once told Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, “I want to be cremated and then have a plane spread half of my ashes over Dodger Stadium and the other half over the [ex-home of the Lakers] Forum.”
Todd Schnitt and Len Berman to Host Mornings on WOR, New York. Legendary New York news/talk station WOR announces it will debut the new morning program, “Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning,” effective January 26. iHeartMedia says the program will “focus on New York and feature interactive programming, showcasing what local listeners are talking about in news, sports, entertainment and pop culture.” Both Berman and Schnitt are native New Yorkers. Schnitt has been based in Tampa and currently hosts his nationally syndicated, eponymous talk show via Compass Media Networks, which he’ll continue to do in addition to the New York morning show. Berman is an “Emmy-Award winning sportscaster and New York Times best-selling author who has covered just about every major sports event including multiple Super Bowls, World Series and Olympics during his 40-year career in broadcasting. He was a long-time sports anchor for WNBC-TV, New York.” Regular TALKERS readers are aware that Schnitt, in addition to his syndicated talk show, hosted the “MJ Morning Show” on CHR WFLA-FM, Tampa for many years. iHeartMedia market president Joe Puglise says, “Len is a well-known sports reporter and this opportunity will also showcase his other skills and personality. Listeners will immediately engage with Todd’s quick wit and creative take on the things that impact New Yorkers.” Schnitt adds, “Len Berman is the perfect co-host, he is a well-known New Yorker and brings a ton of wit, wisdom and street smarts to the microphone. Together we are very excited to construct a new local, engaging and entertaining morning show for New York.” iHeartMedia tried simulcasting WWDC, Washington “DC 101” morning personality Elliot Segal on WOR after parting company with longtime morning host John Gambling, but that lasted only a month, ending in February of 2014. Regarding his move to NYC, Schnitt adds, “Locating our [Compass syndicated] show in the heart of New York City will be a huge benefit to our national listeners and help drive ratings for our affiliates. I look forward to continuing to work with Compass Media Networks, our affiliates and sponsors.”
Premiere Names Shapiro VP – Sports Programming. Former ESPN Radio program director Scott Shapiro joins Premiere Networks in a newly created position of vice president of sports programming. His duties will include overseeing daily execution of sports content, including the Fox Sports Radio Network. Premiere Networks senior vice president of sports programming Don Martin comments, “Scott’s experience producing some of the most successful, multi-platform sports programming speaks for itself. I am excited for the opportunity to team up with such a class act. His addition reaffirms our commitment to providing the best sports entertainment content the industry has to offer, along with unique and valuable opportunities for our partners.” Shapiro remarks, “I greatly look forward to working with the talented team in place. There is tremendous growth potential and a real opportunity to develop outstanding sports content. The sky is the limit in terms of the talent, infrastructure, and resources available.” In addition to programming ESPN Radio, Shapiro’s resume includes being producer of that sports network’s “Mike & Mike” morning show; he previously was assistant program director/executive producer of WQXI “The Zone,” Atlanta.
Daunais, Walker Get Westwood One EVP – Regional Sales Stripes. Atlanta-based Jim Daunais and Dallas-based Tim Walker are appointed executive vice presidents in Westwood One‘s network sales division. Daunais’ responsibilities are in the southeast region – Walker’s duties are in the southwest. Westwood One president Steve Shaw comments, “Hot off the heels of promoting Kim Bryant to lead west coast sales, we are on an accelerated path to building an exceptional, preeminent sales organization. Jim and Tim are uniquely qualified to lead our southeast and southwest regions. Their respective abilities to manage, strategize, and effectively deliver client solutions will drive more revenue success across our platforms.” Daunais is “excited for the opportunity to continue” his more than 10-year Westwood One career, where he works “alongside Steve and the rest of our incredibly talented management team, and to build upon the company’s rich history as the leader of all things audio.” Walker states he is looking forward “to leading the southwest region and bringing integrated solutions to our clients and agencies.” It is a promotion for Daunais, who joined the company in 2004. Most recently, he was Westwood One’s senior vice president, sales and vice president of southeast sales. His prior background includes being an account executive for MLB‘s New York Mets. Walker is rejoining Westwood One. He spent the last three years as Cumulus Media‘s director of national sales for the southwest region. Prior to that, Walker was national sales manager for Cumulus-owned stations in Dallas and Houston; he had a similar title for CBS Radio Dallas; and he was a Westwood One account executive (2000 – 2002) in the company’s Dallas office.
John McConnell Named EVP at Workhouse Media. Radio management pro John McConnell is named executive vice president for talent and content management company Workhouse Media. In this role, McConnell will oversee Workhouse Media’s East Coast offices and he will serve in a new senior management role for the company. A longtime ABC Radio executive, McConnell has been managing his own firm for the past six years. Workhouse Media principal and CEO Paul B. Anderson comments, “John comes to Workhouse Media with a powerful combined background in programming, syndication and strategy. His track record is both broad and deep, and the industry recognizes his impeccable reputation for integrity and results.”
Odds & Sods. Today (1/20) begins Steve Deace‘s relationship with the USA Radio Networks. With the move from Genesis Communications Network, Deace’s program moves from an evening live airing (9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight) to live in afternoon drive, Eastern Time…..Following the path of New York’s Christian talk WMCA, New York, Salem Communications-owned KKMS, Minneapolis takes on “The Mission” brand. Salem rolled out “The Answer” as the brand for its news/talk stations and it appears likely most if not all of the company’s Christian talk stations will become “The Mission.”…..Tomorrow (1/21) marks the fifth anniversary of the internet program the Nicole Sandler show at radioornot.com. Sandler began her digital program after the demise of Air America Radio in 2010.
Non-Comms Rocking the Boat. For those interested in bold, new developments in music radio, check out Jeff McKay’s piece in our sister publication, RadioInfo, exploring the non-comm stations creating targeted-yet-daring rock and pop formats for hungry audiences. Many listeners still see public radio as either left-leaning news/talk or jazz- and classic music-oriented. But stations such as KCSN, Los Angeles; WXPN, Philadelphia; KCMP, Minneapolis; and KKXT, Dallas are bucking that trend and drawing in younger audiences. Read more here.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Resonates Throughout News/Talk Radio. As reported yesterday (1/19), news/talk radio hosts, programs, stations and networks buzzed with conversation inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – memorializing the birthdate of the slain civil rights leader of the turbulent 1960s. Shows covering the spectrum of political and ideological approaches including urban, progressive and conservative positions all found pertinent subject matter for discussion to commemorate the annual Federal holiday, lifting race relations to the most-talked-about topic of the day. Pictured here is WOLB, Baltimore morning legend Larry Young (third from right) at a ceremony in Baltimore held last week on the actual birthdate of the historic activist. Young – a longtime member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred – tells TALKERS,“One of my proudest moments was to have planted in 1985 the only MLK Jr. tree on state house property in the USA. On his actual birthdate on January 15 we did a re-dedication and I said, ‘King put before us a serious vision that we would be one nation under God and indivisibly one America.’ And I want to believe that even today I can still believe in his vision.”
State of the Union/Obama Tax Plan, ‘American Sniper’ Film, MLK Jr. Day/‘Selma’ Film, ISIS Violence/Two Japanese Hostages Held, 2016 Presidential Prospects, and NFL Conference Championships Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/19). This week’s State of the Union Address and President Obama’s expected announcement of his tax proposal; the political arguments surrounding the film “American Sniper”; the observation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and the concurrent release of the film “Selma”; the ongoing violence perpetrated by ISIS and its threat to execute two Japanese hostages; the potential candidates for president in 2016; and the weekend’s NFL conference championships were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Big Executive Sports Talk Moves Elevate Martin at iHeartMedia and Takes Gilbert to Cumulus. These two position changes for sports radio pros Don Martin and Bruce Gilbert are related as Gilbert exits iHeartMedia where he was most recently SVP of sports operations and joins Cumulus Media and Westwood One as SVP/sports. Back at iHeartMedia, the company promotes current SVP of sports Los Angeles Don Martin by expanding his duties to include Premiere Networks and Fox Sports Radio. As SVP of sports programming for Premiere Networks, Martin will oversee the creation, development and direction of sports programming and content at the company, as well as the FSRN. Martin will continue his SVP of sports Los Angeles role – which includes supervising KLAC – and report to iHeartMedia Southern California president Greg Ashlock. For his new duties, he’ll report to Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott. At Cumulus, the company says Bruce Gilbert will lead the curation, development and execution of all sports content initiatives and will oversee the strategic direction of the company’s owned-and-operated sports stations. He will report to EVP of programming and content John Dickey. Corporate sports PD Jim Mahanay remains in his post reporting to Gilbert. Of this hiring, Dickey comments, “Bruce Gilbert brings years of experience in sports broadcast programming and management to our senior programming team and we’re pleased to welcome him aboard. Bruce will drive the continued growth and development of the industry-leading sports platform at Cumulus and Westwood One, which together comprise the largest pure-play sports radio network in the world and align with the best brands in the business. His addition furthers our commitment to creating and delivering the most exciting content to sports fans and delivering incomparable opportunities for our partners and advertisers.”
WARM-AM, Scranton Returns as Sports Talker. There’s a new sports talker in the Wilks-Barre/Scranton market as Cumulus Media adds WARM-AM to the large mix of signals (10 in all, including simulcasts and translators) airing sports content. The station – last an oldies outlet – had been off the air for three months engineering rehab and emerges today as “Sports Radio 590” using CBS Sports Radio Network programming.
Sydney Siege Illustrates Need for Plan for Broadcasters. The hostage situation in Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia shows – very dramatically – why broadcasters need a plan in place before an unexpected crisis situation occurs. ABC Television director, business continuity Howard B. Price writes, in an exclusive piece for TALKERS, “In the aftermath of 9/11, many places – New York City chief among them – redrew regulations requiring building operators and their tenants to develop so-called ‘emergency action plans,’ to deal with fire and non-fire emergencies. Among other things, these plans call for the formation and training of ‘emergency action plan directors’ and fire safety teams; some organizations with expansive buildings or campuses have designated site coordinators, and site response teams who may have advanced first aid training and emergency provisions to sustain a lockdown/shelter-in-place order for hours, or even days.” Price asks broadcasters if they – like Channel 7 TV in Sydney – have a plan in place to evacuate their primary business and engineering office if they are required to do so. Read Price’s important piece here.
Odds & Sods. Last Friday, NRG Media-owned news/talker KOIL, Omaha produced its 17th Annual Child Saving Institute Radiothon fundraiser, broadcasting live from Regency Court Mall during which the station raised $73,020…..Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle and Treehouse (a nonprofit education organization for foster children) more than $505,000 for the charity during its 26th Annual Holiday Magic Radiothon on December 11…..Jobs cuts have hit iHeartMedia news/talk WOAI, San Antonio as the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeanne Jakel reports news staffers Michael Main (a near-30-year employee), anchor/reporter Berit Mason, and multimedia journalist Stephanie Narvaez have all been let go from the station.
MediaTracks to Celebrate 25 Years. Next Monday, MediaTracks Communications – the “nation’s leading producer of radio public affairs programming,” is celebrating its 25th anniversary. MediaTracks president and co-founder Shel Lustig says, “High quality public affairs programming is of vital importance to stations nationwide. With today’s smaller staffs and tighter budgets, the need for our programming continues to play an essential part in helping stations meet and exceed their public affairs obligations. We’re extremely proud of our contributions to the industry and our affiliates over the last 25 years.”
Fisher House Foundation Holiday Show Available. Again this year, Fisher House Foundation is making available a news/talk-formatted holiday program that brings attention to wounded warriors, veterans and military families. Fisher House is offering the three-hour, highly produced public affairs show for air between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The show, “Zachary’s Gift,” tells the inspiring story of Fisher House founder Zachary Fisher through heroes served by the foundation’s growing network of no-cost comfort homes built on the grounds of VA and military base hospitals. The radio show is designed to build awareness, not solicit donations. The show is free – neither contract nor barter. Stations may air it multiple times. Executive producer Marshall Adams says, “Many stations are using ‘Zachary’s Gift’ to fill a local, three-hour show on Christmas or New Year’s Day.” The host is Mark Watkins, a radio newsroom vet who recently retired from the anchor booth at WBAP and KLIF Dallas. Jeff Davis is the show’s promo voice. Jonathan Shaffer from WSM Nashville is leading production and imaging. Westwood One is handling affiliate relations pro-bono. To sign up, send a note with your planned air times to Stuart Greenblatt at email@example.com. Marshall Adams can answer questions about content at (412) 856-3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pros Turn Out for WRHU-FM Alumni Night. WRHU-FM Radio Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York held its fifth annual alumni night at the New York Islanders NHL game on Saturday evening (12/13) at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum. It was a gala celebration attended by industry people including WINS, New York morning news anchor Lee Harris, who won a team autographed hockey stick in a drawing (pictured); WINS, New York morning sports anchor Marc Ernay; WOR, New York evening host Pete McCarthy and afternoon drive traffic reporter Greg Rice; Weiss Agency EVP Heather Cohen; NASH FM, New York air talent Jason Goldstein; CBS Radio New York marketing director Frank Iemmiti; NY1 news senior editor Dave Fleischer; Hofstra Dean Evan Cornog; Radio Hofstra University director of operations John Mullen; WRHU professional in residence Ed Ingles; and Islanders radio play-by-play voice Chris King and color commentators Julian Coltre, Rich DeKorte, Dan Savarino, and Mark Weiner. WRHU-FM is in its fifth year as the flagship radio station of the New York Islanders and is the only college station in America that serves as the flagship for a professional major league sports franchise. 2014 has been a good year for WRHU-FM. The station was awarded the NAB Marconi for Best Non-Commercial Station of the Year and was ranked number one — best college radio station – by the Princeton Review.
Seven AEs Sue Clear Channel Claiming Civil Rights Violations. In a suit filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana by seven current and former AEs working at Clear Channel’s New Orleans stations, the group charges that after the economic downturn of 2008, accounts were redistributed at a meeting in Gonzales, Louisiana in February of 2009 in such a way that helped ease the financial hit Caucasian AEs were taking through the redistribution. The complaint alleges many of the redistributed accounts had been built up by African American AEs. The complaint – filed jointly by Wil Watson, Gary Watson, Prixie Montgomery, Ave Gaines, Darnetta Mahaffy-Nelson, Dinah Campbell, and Brandin Campbell – details salaries before and after the redistribution and concludes, “As a result of the redistribution of accounts, whether intentional or negligent, African-American account executives were disparately, and negatively, impacted, to their severe economic detriment as compared to their Caucasian counterparts…Overall, African-American account executives lost on average more than 40% of their 2008 income in 2008-9. On information and belief Caucasian account executives lost no more that about 15% of their 2008 income, on average, during the same period of time.” Three of the seven were fired, they allege, after complaining about the practices. The seven seek relief, punitive damages, general damages, attorneys’ fees and statutory remedies.
It’s Official: Kevin Graham Named Brand Manager at WEEI, Boston. As rumored late last week, sports talk programmer and personality Kevin Graham is leaving his PD and co-host role at Cumulus Media’s KFNZ, Salt Lake City “1320 KFAN” to become brand manager at Entercom’s WEEI. According to his bio on the KFNZ website, Graham was one of the architects of KFNZ as the station was built in 1996. He’s worked as programmer at KTAR-AM, Phoenix; WXYT, Detroit and other sports talk outlets. In addition to programming KFNZ, Graham co-hosts the “Gunther & Graham” PM drive show with Kyle Gunther. Graham has extensive experience in the digital sports arena assisting in building ArizonaSports.com in Phoenix and as the founder/editor of SportsMashup.com. He’ll begin work at WEEI in September, taking over for longtime programmer Jason Wolfe. Entercom Boston GM Jeff Brown states, “WEEI is more than a radio station; it is an entire sports ecosystem. From our on-air talent to Red Sox play-by-play to WEEI.com, where we had 1.4 million unique visitors just last month, WEEI is a more complete sports brand than ever before. We are thrilled to announce today that Kevin Graham will lead WEEI as our new brand manager. His background both in front of and behind the mic, along with his years of digital sports experience made him the best choice to lead WEEI. Kevin will bring a fresh perspective to the entire WEEI team and our complete package of digital sports assets.” Speaking about his new gig, Graham comments, “I am honored and excited to join the WEEI team. WEEI is one of the most recognizable and powerful sports radio brands in the country. With great resources, amazing talent, and one of the best digital brands in sports, the sky is the limit. I can’t wait to get started, especially with the Red Sox in the midst of such a great season.”
“The State of News/Talk/Sports Programming” Panel Set for Talkers Los Angeles 2013. A diverse and powerful panel of front-line programmers has been set for Talkers Los Angeles 2013 that will explore the major issues of programming within the present-day news/talk/sports realm. Participating panelists include (in alphabetical order): Robin Bertolucci, PD, KFI/KTLK, Los Angeles; Skip Essick, PD, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; Andy Ludlum, director of news programming, KNX/KFWB, Los Angeles; Don Martin, senior VP sports programming, Fox Sports Radio/Clear Channel Media & Entertainment; Chuck Tyler, PD, KRLA/KKLA, Los Angeles; and Bill White, PD, KQTH-FM/KFFN-AM/FM, Tucson. The panel will be moderated by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey who states, “This will be a fast-moving discussion that will really capture the flavor of today’s talk radio programming scene and do so with a solid Western states perspective – which makes this California edition of our two-part national conference so valuable. It will present a diverse array of formats including news/talk, all-news, and sports talk, as well as company types ranging in size and varied styles of corporate culture.” This third annual installment of TALKERS magazine’s West Coast convention is set for Thursday, October 10 and is already shaping up to be a blockbuster. The gathering is closing in on being an advance sellout some six weeks before the event so it is advisable for media professionals interested in attending to register now. It is again being presented in association with the Los Angeles Press Club and held at the historic Steve Allen Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. Registrations – $149 per person – can only be taken over the phone. For sponsorship information or to register, call 413-565-5413. More agenda details coming in the immediate days ahead.
New Jersey’s WCTC, New Brunswick Makes Big Local Moves. Saying “there is a thirst for local content in this market,” WCTC, New Brunswick “The Voice of Central New Jersey” PD Bert Baron announces that the longtime news/talk station will debut a new and completely revamped on-air lineup starting Monday, August 26. The Greater Media-owned station is making mass changes to its weekday programming, moving Baron from his two-hour afternoon slot to morning drive, where he will host “Jersey Central with Bert Baron” from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. Baron says his show will include “everything you need to know in New Jersey – news, sports, events, entertainment, politics, lifestyle, traffic and weather.” Following Baron will be the Courtside Entertainment-syndicated Laura Ingraham, who moves up one hour from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. From 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, WCTC will carry “The Tommy G Show,” the first time a terrestrial radio station will simulcast a daily internet radio show in New Jersey. “Tommy G is very unique and brings a Jersey angle to what is happening here. He’s a radio name with a great presence in the market. He gets Jersey,” says Baron. Tommy G, who was also named to this year’s TALKERS magazine Frontier 50 – A Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters – tells TALKERS his show is “all about New Jersey and what Jerseyans are talking about,” and says his show could change the face of local talk radio. “I’m introducing ‘syndi-local’ to talk radio and consulting others on the process, showing that companies can save money while talent can build their own business and brands. It’s a win-win,” says Tommy G, who will be joined on Mondays by the New York Times best-selling author of “The Soprano State,” Bob Ingle. Following Tommy G and replacing the syndicated Mancow is another new show hosted by longtime New York metro area talent Steve Malzberg. Malzberg’s show is syndicated by Newsmax, and will be carried live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Says Baron, “Steve is a name in the area,” and despite being a national show, it’s expected Malzberg will discuss “a fair amount of local and regional news and topics.” From 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, WCTC, which is the flagship station for Rutgers University sports, debuts “BTN Live,” a sports talk show about the Big Ten, the NCAA conference Rutgers begins competing in this fall. Baron, who along with Tommy G, is well known for his community involvement, says he believes the changes are not only necessary but that stations must embrace how local content will make them stronger. “We will be much more local in our approach to serving our listeners – from our shows to remote (broadcasts) and our community involvement. For us it will be cost effective. We will make noise in the radio landscape.”
Todd Feinburg Subs in Boston and Louisville. Boston-based talk show host Todd Feinburg is filling in for WBZ-AM, Boston’s Dan Rea on the evening program tonight and tomorrow (8-22/23). Next week he’ll be heard 829 miles away on Clear Channel’s WHAS, Louisville sitting in hosting the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot on both Thursday and Friday, August 29 and 30. The multi-faceted Feinburg spent many years working full time at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston.
WIP-FM, Philadelphia Announces Howie Roseman Show. CBS Radio sports talk outlet “SportsRadio 94 WIP” is announcing Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman will make weekly appearances on the afternoon drive show with Anthony Gargano – accompanied by Eagles play-by-play voice Merrill Reese – every Monday from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm live at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia. The station states, “In addition to discussing each week’s game with Gargano and Reese, Roseman will take calls and talk with fans on site at Chickie’s and Pete’s. The show is the first of its kind. It is the only live weekly interactive radio show with an NFL general manager. The show, sponsored by Miller Lite, can be heard live on 94WIP, online at www.cbsphilly.com and via the Radio.com application for a variety of mobile devices. The show will debut on Tuesday, September 3 due to the Labor Day holiday and be heard on Tuesday, September 10 due to the Eagles-Redskins Monday Night Football debut on September 9. From 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm a leading Eagles player will join the show each week.
Hangin’ with Mike Tyson. Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr (l) poses for a shot with former boxer Mike Tyson (r) in the Fox Sports Radio studios in Los Angeles. Tyson visited Mohr’s program to talk about his life after boxing, being a dad and much more. They also chatted about a recent run-in at a frozen yogurt shop, as well as Tyson’s upcoming FOX Sports 1 cable TV show, “Being Mike Tyson.”
Country Act The Lost Trailers Cuts Custom Theme Music for Dial Global’s “Sunday Night Football.” The theme music to Dial Global’s “Sunday Night Footbal” this season is a tweaked version of The Lost Trailers’ single “It’s Goin’ Down Tonight” that features football highlights, sound bites and customized lyrics. The company announces, “The new theme music, performed by The Lost Trailers and powered by Early Shares Music, will debut during the first regular season NFL broadcast on Thursday, September 5 which kicks off at 8:00 p.m. ET. The highly anticipated season opener between the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos will feature Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason behind the microphones.” The band’s founding member Stokes Nielson states, “We are truly excited to be a part of the NFL broadcasts on Dial Global. We are huge sports fans and we can’t wait to help the announcers kick off every Sunday night game, because it’s goin’ down tonight, every Sunday night, all over America!” The band previously collaborated with Dial Global Sports, customizing their top 10 single “Holler Back” for the network’s opening montage in Super Bowl XLIII.
Bradley Manning Verdict/Gender Issues, OK Thrill Kill Case, Averted Georgia School Shooting, NSA Surveillance Program, U.S.-Egypt Tensions, Syria Chemical Weapons Allegations and ObamaCare Implementation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/21). The 35-year sentence handed to Bradley Manning and his desire to begin gender change procedures; the case of three Oklahoma teens suspected of slaying Australian college baseball player Christopher Lane; a Georgia School staffer talks an armed man out of firing and averts a tragedy; the scope of the NSA surveillance program; the U.S. policy regarding Egypt; allegations Syria is using chemical weapons against citizens; and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Bid4Spots: Auction an Alternative to Unsold Inventory. In a piece published today (7/23), TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian profiles Dave Newmark’s successful Bid4Spots digital auction initiative. There was a time when numerous players were getting into the business of using the internet to deal with unsold inventory on radio stations. Dave Newmark tells Mike Kinosian why the others failed and how he struggled to find the right business model that would eventually lead to success. It was during a casual conversation with a software developer when he had an epiphany. “I immediately thought of those ad exchanges and I realized what they all had wrong. They had the supply and demand equation backwards. Forward auctions work well only when the demand is high and the supply is low. If I could figure out when demand would be at its lowest point – when regular airtime buyers were pretty much gone from the store – it would be as close to ‘next week’ as possible.” Newmark’s road to success was not a smooth one. In this fascinating piece he details his trials and tribulations. He also explains why stations and advertisers are happy with his model of moving unsold inventory. Read it all here.
Are You a Thinker or a Feeler? More importantly, are your listeners and callers thinkers or feelers? In a new TALKERS column posted today (7/23) by branding specialist Dr. John Tantillo, he states that understanding the difference between these two approaches to the issues of the day can have an impact on your show and determine how effectively you orchestrate discussions of them on the air. Using the examples of the current Zimmerman verdict and Rolling Stone cover controversy, Dr. Tantillo examines the relationship between branding and controversy pointing out that the most important thing to focus upon is how the controversy directly impacts the customer’s (or fan’s) loyalty to the brand and nobody else’s. He says we should be less concerned about public relations and more interested in “targeted relations.” To read the entire column, please click here.
Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan Named Among ‘Giants of Broadcasting’ Honorees. This is the 11th annual staging of the “Giants of Broadcasting” that is sponsored by the Library of American Broadcasting. It celebrates “distinguished leadership or performance in television and radio” and will take place October 16 at New York’s Gotham Hall. Smulyan is among 11 honorees this year including Anne Sweeney, Alex Trebek, Barry Diller, Morley Safer, Dick Cavett, Robert L. Johnson, David E. Kelley, Richard E. Wiley, Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper. The Library of American Broadcasting is located at the University of Maryland and the organization states it is “entering its 42nd year serving as the national information resource for the radio and television industries and the academic communities that rely upon it for depth and expertise. Its collections of historic documents, professional papers, oral and video histories, books and photographs are among the nation’s most extensive.”
Red Zebra Re-Tools Afternoons on WTEM, Washington. Recently retired Washington Redskins star Chris Cooley becomes part of the new “The Drive with Cooley and Czabe” afternoon program on Red Zebra-owned sports talk outlet WTEM, Washington “ESPN 980″. Cooley – who just joined the station for Washington Redskins game broadcasts with the company – joins Steve Czaban and WTEM weekend host Al Galdi for the new program that will debut August 1 and will air from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Czaban currently hosts “The Sports Reporters” with Andy Pollin in the afternoon drive slot. Red Zebra says Pollin remains with the station and will sub for the vacationing Tony Kornheiser beginning August 5. About the new show, Czaban jokes, “I will work tirelessly to make Chris Cooley the second-most-beloved ex-Redskin tight end on radio in the DC market.”
MEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: Mark Jorgenson of Jorgenson Broadcast Brokerage. In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media broker Mark Jorgenson of Jorgenson Broadcast Brokerage of Greenville, South Carolina. Jorgenson was a 12-year veteran of television sales and radio ownership in Southeastern markets before deciding that he liked putting deals together better than he did operating stations. He says, “I enjoy matching people up with great opportunities and that’s what the brokerage business is all about.” Jorgenson describes today’s radio station market as “sluggish due to a lack of capital to finance deals.” He says, “There are plenty of potential buyers and even more potential sellers but without institutional financing to make the deals happen, we won’t see the volume of transactions we’ve seen in the past. Brokers have to be creative and persistent to make deals happen in today’s financial climate.” He continues, “There are even radio deals where some portion of the purchase price might be handled with a seller note. The key is for the buyer to have access to at least some cash. Private investors, family, and friends are the most likely source to finance new ventures these days.” To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, please click here.
Talkers Los Angeles 2013 Is Set for Thursday, October 10. The third annual installment of TALKERS magazine’s West Coast convention has been set for Thursday, October 10 and its outstanding agenda is shaping up to be a blockbuster. It is again being presented in association with the Los Angeles Press Club and held at the historic Steve Allen Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “We are very enthusiastic about the growth and positive impact of this Southern California gathering. It started out three years ago as an experimental LA regional get-together and blossomed into an exciting companion to our big New York convention.” The event – open only to members of the working media – will feature a power-packed day of panel discussions, keynote addresses, special presentations, technology and services exhibits, tremendous networking opportunities and abundant food and refreshments (lunch is sponsored by Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity who will address the attendees from New York). Speakers already set include (in alphabetical order): Robin Bertolucci, PD, KFI, Los Angeles; Phil Boyce, VP spoken word format, Salem Communications; Holland Cooke, radio consultant; Skip Essick, PD, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; Erica Farber,CEO/president, RAB; Ron Hartenbaum, president, WYD/WYM Media; Rusty Humphries, host, Talk Radio Network; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Tom Leykis, president, The New Normal; Don Martin, senior VP sports programming, Fox Sports Radio/Clear Channel Media and Entertainment; Kevin McCullough, CEO, XtreMedia; Mike McVay, senior VP programming, Cumulus Media; Harvey Nagler, VP, CBS Radio News; Norm Pattiz, CEO, Courtside Entertainment/Podcast One; Chris Pendl, creative director, Bonneville Seattle; Walter Sabo, CEO, Sabo Media; Eric Stanger, VP of operations and affiliate marketing, The Sean Hannity Show/Premiere Networks; Alan Stock, host, KDWN, Las Vegas; Paul Vandenburgh, president/GM/host, WGDJ, Albany; and Michael Zwerling, owner, KSCO, Santa Cruz with many more to be announced in the coming days. The latest broadcasting equipment and remote gear will be on display as presented by Broadcasters General Store and Comrex Corporation. Registrations – $149 per person – can only be taken over the phone and the event is expected to be a very early sellout. So don’t wait – avoid being shut out. For sponsorship information or to register, call 413-565-5413.
WFAS, White Plains Afternoon Host Lisa Wexler to Run for Judicial Office. Lisa Wexler is an attorney and currently the PM drive talk host on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WFAS, White Plains, New York. She tells TALKERS magazine she’s being nominated to run as a Republican for the Probate Judge of Weston and Westport (Connecticut) in November. “I’ve practiced this area of law for many years, and I’m very excited to run and be able to serve the people with knowledge and compassion.” Wexler notes the position is part time and, if elected, she will be able to continue her radio work.
WRSB, Canandaigua, New York to Flip to Business Talk. The station was purchased earlier this summer by Genesee Media Corporation and has been serving the area south of Rochester with a religious format. According to YNN.com, GMC will brand the station “Business 1310” and will use programming from Bloomberg, NBC News and Marketwatch. The report also indicates that Genesee intends to add the programming to other AM signals in the region.
Sonoma Media Group Announces Kevin Wodlinger Is New Local Business Development Manager. The company says Kevin Wodlinger comes to its five-station Santa Rosa, California cluster from his most recent position in Grand Junction, Colorado as market manager for the Cumulus Media cluster that is now owned by Townsquare Media. Wodlinger replaces longtime employee Jeriann D’Elicio, who recently announced her resignation. Michael O’Shea, president of Sonoma Media Group, comments, “Kevin is the real deal – a consummate sales executive with a great track record of teaching, coaching and leading in local business development. We are delighted to have his expertise and leadership in our building.” The company operates news/talk KSRO, country KFGY “Froggy 92.9,” classic rock KVRV “97.7 The River FM,” hot AC KMHX “Mix 104.9,” and CHr KHTH “Hot 101.7.”
New Motor Sports Network to Begin Operations. The Midwest Racing Radio Network announces it is preparing to begin operations and has named Brian Douglas vice president of broadcast operations. Douglas also serves as host. The company states it will initially feature one two-hour motorsports show via live audio stream and podcast in a format for broadcast stations to air daily five days a week. Also, the network will feature a live one-hour Sunday evening program and a national highlights podcast show containing results, interviews, and the upcoming regional racing schedules as submitted from tracks across the country.
Cigar Dave Goes Live on TV. Nationally syndicated media personality “Cigar Dave” Zeplowitz is pictured here (at right) hosting the first-ever live televised broadcasts from the 2013 International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Convention at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. The telecasts aired live on Sunday, July 14, Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 16. Cigar Dave reports his telecasts featured new premium cigar releases and accessories, interviews with premium cigar manufacturers and personalities, and presented viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the IPCPR Convention, that up to now, has been closed to the general public and only open to the trade. “Cigar Dave” says, “This marks the next evolution of the Cigar Dave Show as we transition into a digital, multi-platform provider of relevant content for Alpha Males. Eighteen years ago, I was the first broadcaster to host a radio show dedicated to cigars and the Alpha Male-lifestyle. This year’s live IPCPR telecasts commence a major expansion into televised and digital content that appeals to Alpha Males and a new generation of Millennial Males who enjoy cigars, spirits, manly pursuits, and the Good Life.”
Odds & Sods. Public radio station WKSU, Kent, Ohio drops some of the daily classical music programming to add NPR’s “The Takeaway” with John Hockenberry and “On Point” with Tom Ashford to the midday schedule…..Sun Broadcasting changes the news/talk trimulcast of WFSX-AM and FM and WNOG-AM in Fort Myers. It keeps WFSX-FM news/talk as “92.5 Fox News” and pairs up the AMs as a sports talk duo “The Fan.”
ObamaCare Implementation, Detroit Bankruptcy, Zimmerman Verdict Aftermath, 2016 Presidential Race, U.S. Syria Policy and British Prince Born Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/22). The delay of the employer mandate and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; the bankruptcy case of the city of Detroit; the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict; the potential candidates in the 2016 presidential race; the United States’ policy regarding Syria; and the birth of the son of Prince William and Kate Middleton were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Anyone connecting the dots to the impressive vitae and past history of one of America’s brightest comics/rock solid actor will not be the least bit astonished that agent “Bob Sugar” in the mid-1990s smash “Jerry Maguire” is on his way to establishing a potent presence in sports talk radio.
Second-year (2009-2010) plotline for CBS-TV’s “Gary Unmarried” called for its lead character to lessen his role as a housepainter as he transitioned to what he had always wanted to do – host a call-in sports radio program. “It is this crazy scenario that I actually wound up doing in real life what I was doing in a make belief sitcom,” remarks Jay Mohr, whose “Jay Mohr Sports” debuted January 2 on Fox Sports Radio.
New Media Seminar Draws 275 in Los Angeles. It was a packed house sold out two weeks in advance as some 275 talk media broadcasters from across the country, with a distinct emphasis on the Western states, rocked the old Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood yesterday. Approximately 50 speakers — including the likes of Robin Bertolucci, Phil Boyce, Kevin Casey, Holland Cooke, Jerry Doyle, Skip Essick, Ian Freeman, Bill Handel, Heidi Harris, Michael Harrison, Ron Hartenbaum, Sam Hasson, Michael Horn, Rusty Humphries, Karel, Mike Kinosian, Kraig Kitchin, Lars Larson, Kevin Larue, Garret Lewis, Tom Leykis, Andy Ludlum, Carole Marks, Don Martin, Mike McVay, Stephanie Miller, Bob Moore, Bill Moran, Patt Morrison, Harvey Nagler, Norm Pattiz, Ken Rutkowski, Walter Sabo, Brent Seltzer, Dave Sniff, Eric Stanger, Doug Stephan, Shadoe Stevens, Alan Stock, Chuck Tyler, Jeff Wasserman, Eric Weiss, and Michael Zwerling – tackled a variety of hot industry topics including the economic, technological and cultural challenges facing talk radio broadcasters in 2012. This full day event was part two of TALKERS magazine’s new 2012 format in which the New Media Seminar was broken into East and West coast segments. The first was a sellout event held in New York on June 7.
“Those who do not adapt will be swallowed up.” That was the admonishment of Courtside Entertainment CEO Norm Pattiz in his Thursday morning keynote. Consistently sounding a no-nonsense tone, Pattiz assured attendees that this is a very serious time. Along those lines, Pattiz even mentioned that his comments that kicked off the enthusiastically well-received event would not be going for laughs. Touching on a variety of bullet points, the former Westwood One honcho commented that, despite the fact audience size is unchanged, there is dwindling support for conservative talk radio from national advertisers. “There were no 400-pound gorillas,” when Pattiz began in the radio syndication business. Missing good old-fashioned radio wars, he noted that people “banged heads in a good-natured way.” Importance of the product was heavily stressed by Pattiz, who emphasized that he “did not get in the business because of money – I’m a content guy.” The idea of giving anything away for nothing “is ridiculous,” he remarked. Despite cautioning the audience that his keynote would be straightforward, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ #1 fan could not resist lightening the mood on several occasions when, including when he stated, “You should not sleep well knowing that I am the chairman of Lawrence Livermore National Security.”
A star-studded panel looked at the big picture of spoken-word radio, with CBS Radio News vice president Harvey Nagler stating, “We are not in the radio business – we are in the content business.” Content, however, must be memorable and compelling. Provided that personalities “do not break their promises to listeners,” it is the opinion of Sound Mind CEO Kraig Kitchin that they will “continue to sell their books.” Demos are not what Phil Boyce seeks. “I chase ears,” commented Salem Communications‘ vice president/director, spoken word formats, who added, “People on the left want to kill talk radio.” One of the key buzzwords, according to Fox Sports Radio vice president/programming Don Martin, is “bundle.” The operations manager of Los Angeles’ KLAC commented that, from a branding standpoint, it is much wiser to use handles such as “Fox Sports Radio – LA,” or “ESPN Radio 710,” rather than, “The Zone,” or “The Ticket.”
The New Normal president/host Tom Leykis was among the “Modern Day Pioneer” panelists. The popular talk host isn’t a fan of having television cameras in a radio studio. The concept of viewing a radio show on television, is – in Leykis’ estimation” very similar to “watching socks dry.” Esteemed programmer and “Mental Radio” host Shadoe Stevens added, “It takes away the theater of the mind.” Virtually everyone thought Mike Horn “was crazy” when the chief executive officer of CRN Digital Talk set forth the concept of providing audio channels to cable TV providers. Next year, his company will celebrate its 30th birthday. “You must have great programming and a way to promote it,” Horn remarked.
Look for extensive coverage of this historic radio gathering in the coming days and weeks in TALKERS and RadioInfo including video coverage and bonus interviews.
Competition in the Network Sports Talk Field Breeding War of Words. A story in the New York Post illustrates the intense competition the arrival of two new major players (CBS Sports Radio Network and NBC Sports Radio) in the sports talk radio network business is having. Reporting what the industry has known for some time – that the Cumulus distribution partnership with the new CBS Sports Radio Network will mean 47 new affiliates for CBS and would mean some affiliation cancellations for ESPN Radio – the two sides engaged in a little competitive posturing in the Post story. Saying it will have about 100 affiliate stations when it debuts in January and positioning itself as the “most-listened-to sports radio network in the top 50 markets,” CBS is playing up its assets – namely O&Os in major and large markets. CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason tells the Post, “ESPN affiliates are in small markets. Maybe you find that adds up to a lot of audience. Don’t forget that CBS Radio owns most of the top 10 sports stations in the US, and with Cumulus that’s formidable. ESPN has had the market much to themselves, we’re the new entry and we think we put together formidable talent.” ESPN Radio SVP of production and business Traug Keller responds, “This has no material effect on us. There’s only three or four [Cumulus] stations in the top 50.” He also tells the paper ESPN is already finding new affiliates in markets where current agreements are being terminated, including Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama.
Barclays Capital Analyst Downgrades U.S. Advertising Growth Forecast. The ad industry as a whole will not grow as much over the next year and a half as previously predicted states Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente. In a report issued yesterday, DiClemente stated he believes ad growth across all sectors will be just 4% this year compared to his original prediction of 4.6%. For 2013, DiClemente says he believes ad revenue will rise just 1.9% compared to his previous 2.3% forecast. He did not specifically report on projections for radio. He did, however, give a positive outlook for News Corp. performance.
WSCR, Chicago’s Jason Goff to Take Night Host Position at CBS Radio’s Atlanta FM Sports Talker. Rounding out the lineup of CBS Radio’s WZGC, Atlanta “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game” is Jason Goff, who will become the host of the evening show when the station debuts on October 24. The lineup for the new sports talker was announced earlier this week with the exception of the evening slot. Now, “The Score” fill-in host, writer, producer and reporter will move south for his own nightly talk show. Goff has been with WSCR for the past 12 years and program director Mitch Rosen is obviously thrilled for Goff telling Chicago Radio and Media, “What a great story Jason Goff is. From a caller in high school to an intern to a full-time producer/fill-in host, and now to a top market like Atlanta to be a full-time host! This is a Hollywood story in progress, Jason will excel and I could not be more proud.”
Looking Into the Digital Crystal Ball. Saga Communications made the news this past Wednesday when they anointed their program directors as “brand managers.” Saga’s EVP Steve Goldstein, issued a memo that you read here in TALKERS. It read, in part, “We’ve been thinking about how successful programmers are morphing their skills to become proficient at not just managing the on-air product, but the overall brand. And conversely, it has exposed the vulnerability of program directors who are not learning and growing as we become more digital.” In today’s TALKERS, leading digital radio consultant Chris Miller writes about what this move actually will mean to the managers involved. Looking into his digital crystal ball he predicts that before too long, brand managers will be judged on how much time people are spending with their entire brand. Not just their broadcasts, but all the platforms that they manage. He says that we will move into the era of the “new ratings” in which every click is trackable – no estimates – and stations will own the data without having to buy it from a third party (uh, oh Arbitron). He also points out that this new era will open the door to new competition and an increased concentration on niches. Fasten your seat belts because this is one fast ride! To read Chris Miller’s entire piece, click here.
Doug Hess Exits WLTP, Parkersburg, West Virginia. News director and morning drive co-host Doug Hess is leaving Clear Channel’s news/talk WLTP, Parkersburg, West Virginia after 21 years doing local news in the market. According to the News-Sentinel, Hess will take a position as communications and outreach coordinator with The ARC of the Mid-Ohio Valley. Hess tells the paper he’ll miss the news business he’s been a part of for so many years. “People depend on you to get this information out to them in a timely manner. It is an important job and it has been a privilege to do it.”
Beasley Broadcasting Adds FM Signals to Southwest Florida’s 770 ESPN Radio. WWCN, Ft. Myers gets some FM signal boost to help it cover Lee and Collier counties. Beasley Broadcasting announces the ESPN Radio affiliate can now be heard on 98.1 FM in South Ft. Myers and Estero; 101.5 FM in Bonita Springs and North Naples; and 105.1 FM in Naples and Marco Island. VP/market manager Brad Beasley states, “This is a big deal for Southwest Florida sports enthusiasts. For the past 12 years, the only way to hear sports in our community has been on the AM dial. Now our loyal listeners can also follow their favorite teams and events at multiple locations on the FM dial…and that’s awesome!”
Vice Presidential Debate Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 8-12. The anticipation of the vice presidential candidate’s debate and the post-debate discussion was the top news/talk story of the week landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 was the questioning of the facts presented by the Obama administration about the attack in Banghazi. At #3 was the presidential race poll numbers followed by the aftermath of the first presidential debate at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Mark Masters’ TRN Companies File Lawsuit against Dial Global Claiming Monopoly Practices. These companies, (usually referred to generally in the industry as Talk Radio Network (TRN), include The Original Talk Radio Network, Inc., Talk Radio Network Enterprises, LLC and Talk Radio Network-FM, Inc. They have initiated the filing of a Federal action against Dial Global, Inc. and multiple other parties, asserting anti-trust, anti-monopoly and other claims. In announcing that action, Mark Masters, CEO of the plaintiff companies, states, “This is a sad but necessary day for us. But the steps we take today are for the sake of the entire community of independent spoken word syndicators, and independent radio networks who depend on outside sale representation for their very financial survival. These independent producers, syndicators and networks serve America’s over 10,000 commercial radio stations, helping them save costs, and increase quality at a critical time to those stations’ survival in the current difficulties they face in navigating today’s national economic environment. Today, we reluctantly are forced to bring this action, as the largest group of independent spoken word syndicators/networks in the United States. In doing so, we hope this signals a beginning of the end to active monopoly and anti-competitive actions within radio’s independent spoken word syndication markets.” In the suit TRN lists a variety of marketplace operational grievances against Dial Global citing the recent demise of CNN Radio News as a prime example: “The plaintiff companies note in particular that the recent destruction of CNN Radio (which was on over 1,100 radio stations in the US and had been operating for over 20 years), going into a presidential election, in favor of its immediate replacement by a branded news operation, at the election of its sales representatives, is a telling example of the threat posed by the ability of a small handful of unelected Wall Street executives who have achieved sufficient dominance in one sales market to force changes in the separate independent spoken word market, and the threat posed to other independent spoken word syndicators absent prompt corrective actions.” Masters goes on to state, “The sudden death of CNN Radio News, after 20 years, and in a presidential election year besides, is a veritable canary in a coal mine for independent spoken word syndication in radio.” The idea to file this lawsuit has obviously been brewing in the mind of Mark Masters for some time now. Attendees at the recent industry gathering presented by TALKERSmagazine, “The New Media Seminar” in New York on June 7 might recall the TRN CEO hinting during his luncheon address about the possibility that his company might be taking unprecedented legal action against an alleged radio industry monopoly. Seems he meant it. TALKERS contacted Dial Global CEO David Landau who said, “No comment.”
Broadcasts and Interviews Abound as Talk Radio Shows Emanate from Tampa. The official activities at the Republican National Convention may have been put on hold for a day but the skies cleared and planned broadcasting activities went on pretty much unabated at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Convention Center where the RNC will officially resume today. Talk hosts, news professionals, celebrities and political commentators gathered and took advantage of the day to talk about the presidential race and all that goes with it. Pictured here is Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher (r) speaking with actor Jon Voight (l) who spoke with Gallagher on the record for his nationally syndicated program. Voight told Gallagher, “Much of the Hollywood community has ‘blood on our hands’ for taking leftist positions in the 60s and 70s.” He says he’s “atoning” for that by supporting Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. “He’s serious, he’s a problem solver and he’s been in public service all his life.” Meanwhile, XtreMedia president and nationally syndicated talk host Kevin McCullough (l) had the opportunity to chat with Minnesota Senator and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (r) on radio row inside the convention center at the Talk Radio News Service booth. Cumulus Media Networks syndicated talk host – and career journalist – Geraldo Rivera (r) meets up with news colleague Sam Donaldson of ABC News (l) at the news organization’s booth inside the convention center. Meanwhile, as Isaac bears down on the Gulf Coast and moves straight towards New Orleans…
Gulf Coast Radio Stations Prepare to Keep Citizens Informed. The people of Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast are understandably nervous. It has been seven years since Hurricane Katrina roared through this region making history and leaving an indelible mark on the lives of millions of people. During that natural disaster — and a number of others both before and since – good ol’ terrestrial radio has risen to the occasion, in many cases putting competitive barriers aside, and served the community. In preparation for the coming storm, Entercom’s WWL-FM/AM went into wall-to-wall coverage mode preparing its listeners with updates on the approaching storm’s direction and progress. The radio station’s website this morning looks like something you would expect to see from the Weather Channel. Guaranty Broadcasting Group reports to TALKERS it is all over the storm today with simulcasts on their various formats in the market that began at 5:30 am. Talk 107.3 FM began live simulcast coverage on Eagle 98.1’s 100,000 watt signal. Matt Kennedy and Brian Haldane are leading coverage with the Talk 107.3 FM morning show. Darren Gauthier and Scotty Drake will provide mid-day coverage. The husband and wife team of Bill and Karen Profita will anchor afternoon coverage. 104.5 ESPN’s Charles Hanagriff and Matt Moscona will take on coverage until midnight on the Talk 107.3/Eagle 98.1 simulcast. Bill and Karen Profita will return with the overnight shift beginning at midnight. The Talk 107.3 FM/Eagle 98.1 simulcast will continue throughout the hurricane as proves to be necessary. The simulcast will also feature live coverage from Guaranty’s TV partner WAFB Channel 9 with continuous updates from chief meteorologist Jay Grymes. Guaranty VP/market manager Gordy Rush tells TALKERS, “We are thrilled to bring unprecedented 24-hour live and local coverage to South Louisiana with the names and voices that carried this region through the likes of Katrina and Gustav.” (Image courtesy of NASA)
CBS Sports Radio Names Eric Spitz Director of Programming; Chris Oliviero to Supervise New Division. WFAN, New York program director Eric Spitz is named the director of programming for CBS’ new sports talk radio network and the company announces CBS Radio SVP of programming Chris Oliviero will take on a supervisory role in the new sports talk venture. Spitz is a longtime WFAN employee, beginning his tenure there as a desk assistant back in 1987 when the station first debuted. Spitz split from WFAN for a period in 2002 when he was named vice president, operations and programming for Westwood One’s Shadow/Metro Traffic but returned to WFAN in 2005. In a statement, Oliviero comments on the new management structure. “Eric has a unique skill set ideal for building a sports radio network as proven by his tremendous success at WFAN. Eric has been involved with the pioneering radio station since the beginning and watched the format grow from its infancy to what is now one of the most successful in the industry. His perspective is exactly what’s needed to launch a sports radio brand that can stand the test of time. And his selection for this critical position proves the value we are putting on leadership with a strong editorial track record in sports programming. We are also fortunate to be able to call on the expertise of Mark Chernoff, who is without a doubt the most successful sports radio program director of all time. Mark has been one of the principals helping to lay the foundation for CBS Sports Radio and his continued guidance will be a huge advantage as we craft programming we are confident will be of great interest to our affiliates around the country.” The 24/7 sports programming network will launch on January 2, 2013 with Cumulus Media Networks as syndicator and sales partner.
WRKO, Boston Promotes Bill Cooksey to Assistant PD. Morning show executive producer Bill Cooksey will keep his duties managing the production of the Todd Feinburg and Michele McPhee morning drive show at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston as he adds the assistant program director tag to his business card. Cooksey will effectively take over the day-to-day operations of WRKO with this promotion. WRKO PD Jason Wolfe says, “Bill has more passion for WRKO than anyone and has earned this promotion. He’s smart, aggressive, and a true leader. His efforts over the past several years have been outstanding and I’m really looking forward to working with him in this new capacity.” Cooksey started at WRKO in 2006 and became executive producer of the morning show in 2010. Of his promotion, Cooksey states, “I’m honored by this promotion and couldn’t be more excited about the future of WRKO. We’ve made several big changes in recent months and top to bottom WRKO is a stronger radio station today than ever before. WRKO has been home for me for the last six years. I am proud of what we accomplished and I look forward to building on those accomplishments in the future.”
Cincinnati Talk Host Eric Deters to Surface at Rock Trimulcast. Just days after leaving Christian Broadcasting System’s WQRT, Cincinnati due to clashes with management, talk host Eric Deters (who has also worked at Clear Channel’s WLW, Cincinnati subbing for Bill Cunningham and hosting his own weekend show) will take over the morning show at Class X – the classic rock trimulcast that’s heard on WMWX, Miamitown, Ohio; WKCX, Crittenden, Kentucky; and WYNS, Waynesville, Ohio. No official start date for Deters has been given.
Local Fan Wins Eagles Season Tix in Celebrity Call-In Contest on WPEN-AM/FM, Philadelphia. Kristin Lee of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania won Eagles season tickets in PM drive host Mike Missanelli’s Celebrity Call-In Contest in which listeners had to work their connections to urge a celebrity to call in to Missanelli’s program on 97.5 The Fanatic. Lee convinced P-Diddy to phone in and she was awarded the tickets on Friday, August 24. The impressive list of celebrities to call in during the contest included: actor Colin Quinn, actress Anne Hathaway, golfer Gary Player, model Cheryl Tiegs and musician Alicia Keys, to name a few.
Fox Sports Radio Develops Weekend Golf Show with Hank Haney. The program will air live from 8:00 am to 10:00 am ET beginning Saturday, September 8 and FSRN has nabbed SupremeGolf.com as the title sponsor for the show. Hank Haney – legendary golf instructor and author of a recent best-selling book – “will take listeners beyond the green to provide expert analysis on today’s players and events, talk with celebrities, insiders and golf fans, and provide insight on how to become a better golfer.” Senior vice president, sports programming for Premiere Networks, Don Martin, states, “We’re excited to give listeners the opportunity to interact with one of the best golf instructors in the world every weekend. Hank’s many years of experience and expertise in golf will provide our listeners with tremendous insight into the sport, and access to the best players on the course today.”
Republican National Convention, Tropical Storm Isaac and the Death of Neil Armstrong Were Among the Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/27). The Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay; the effect of Tropical Storm Isaac on the convention and its path toward New Orleans; and the death of legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio to Feature Greater Media Stations. First it was Cumulus Media striking at deal with Clear Channel to have its radio stations available nationwide via the iHeartRadio digital radio platform, now Greater Media climbs aboard. Beginning in April, Greater Media’s 22 stations in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, New Jersey and Charlotte will be available via the iHeartRadio app. Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth states, “We are thrilled to be able to provide our listeners with even greater access to our stations anywhere they may be listening throughout the country with this exciting platform.” Clear Channel president and CEO John Hogan says, “Adding Greater Media to iHeartRadio only improves our leading digital destination for consumers, expanding their ability to find the best and most complete online radio experience anywhere. Clear Channel Radio and Greater Media understand that radio connects local businesses to consumers like no other medium can, and this agreement offers more choices for our listeners which is what they want.”
Don Martin Promoted to Senior Vice President, Sports Programming for Premiere Networks. This is a promotion from his role as vice president and general manager for Fox Sports Radio Network which has been a division of Premiere Networks since it began collaborating on sports programming with Fox Sports more than 10 years ago. In this new role, Martin oversees all sports programming and operations for Premiere. Martin reports to Premiere president of content and affiliations Julie Talbott who says, “This is a well-deserved promotion, as Don’s leadership has been instrumental in the growth and strength of the Fox Sports Radio Network. His expertise, as well as his passion and dedication to this industry, make him a tremendous asset as we expand in the sports arena. With Don at the helm, I’m confident we will continue to see the positive impact and success of our programming.” Under Martin’s watch, FSRN has reached an all-time high of 400-plus affiliates. He continues in his role as general manager and program director of Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles. TALKERS magazine’s Mike Kinosian recently spoke with Don Martin about his work with Fox Sports Radio and KLAC. See the video in the Talkers TV box on the right side of this page.
KFTK-FM, St. Louis Adds More Local Talk; Expanded Shows for Dana Loesch and Dave Glover. Emmis Communications’ news/talk KFTK-FM, St. Louis is adding more live and local programming to its daily schedule with the expansion of the Dana Loesch and Dave Glover shows. Loesch moves from the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot beginning January 30. Dave Glover, the station’s longtime PM drive host, adds an hour to make his show live from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Program director Jeff Allen says, “Now with more Dana and Dave we can better cover the issues that matter to our St. Louis listeners. This is just another step in our commitment to respond to the local audience and to better cover breaking news anytime it happens.” The expansion of the two shows means TRN’s Laura Ingraham program will exit the station. Dana Loesch also does a live hour on Emmis’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm and Allen says that will continue.
Compass Media Marketing Announces Executive Staff. The newly formed advertising representation firm being organized by Compass Media Networks founder and CEO Peter Kosann announces Paul Gregery is installed as president of sales & marketing; Mary Giesen is named VP of sales planning; and Laura Peyer is New York account manager. The appointments are effective immediately and Peter Kosann says, “We are extremely fortunate to have these executives join us. This is a tremendous first step for our sales organization.” Paul Gregery served at Westwood One for more than eight years in a variety of capacities, including president of sales. Before that, he managed West Coast sales for the AMFM Radio Networks prior to its being acquired by Premiere Networks. Gregery also worked for more than a decade at the ABC Radio Network in a variety of sales positions. He will work out of Compass’ Los Angeles offices. Mary Giesen also worked at Westwood One where she quickly rose through the sales management ranks, ultimately serving as VP of sales planning, traffic & continuity, managing the sales planning staff and overseeing the management of the commercial inventory. She will work out of Compass’ New York offices. Laura Peyer previously served as the sports network sales executive at Skyview Networks, managing advertising relationships with clients throughout the New York, New England and the Midwest markets. Prior to Skyview, she held positions as national broadcast supervisor at MPG and sales planner at Westwood One. She also will work out of Compass’ New York offices.
Glenn Beck’s GBTV to Debut New Roundtable Show. In association with Glenn Beck’s internet news site The Blaze, GBTV will feature “Real News from The Blaze” airing weeknights from 7:00 to 8:00 beginning January 18. GBTV personality Amy Holmes will moderate the roundtable discussion of the day’s news. Participants will include Blaze editor-in-chief Scott Baker, Buck Sexton, Will Cain and S.E. Cupp. GBTV president of programming Joel Cheatwood says, “While GBTV is and will remain an information and entertainment network, we saw a real opportunity to provide the news that our audience is looking for and is too often ignored by the mainstream media. We are passionate about offering our audience a deeply reported and engaging look at the news and are excited to be able to draw on the incredible editorial resources at The Blaze.”
WIP, Philadelphia Brings Brian Haddad Aboard for Creative Services Director Post. The former KDKB-FM, Phoenix morning drive host is named creative services director and part-time host at the CBS Radio sports talk station. Operations manager Andy Bloom says, “We embarked on a three-plus month search to find the person who would make WIP the best-produced station in the country. There is no question we found the most creative mind and talented person to help us accomplish that goal. We view Brian as our new secret weapon.” Brian “Sludge” Haddad joined Sandusky’s rock KDKB-FM in June of 2010 to host the morning show. Previously, he’d worked at Cox Media’s WDYL-FM, Richmond.
KFNS, St. Louis Host Kevin Slaten Goes Solo After Ashlee Feldman Exits. The PM drive show on Grand Slam Sports’ KFNS, St. Louis will go with Kevin Slaten solo for a while after former MTV reality show star Ashlee Feldman exited the program. STLToday.com reports Feldman – a former college basketball player and star of MTV’s “Real World New Orleans” – missed her family in the East and decided to leave the program after a year. Slaten tells the site he’s not certain if he’ll remain solo or be paired up with another partner.
Fisher Communications’ KVI, Seattle Loses PD Travis Box to Home Life. Program director and producer Travis Box announces he’s leaving Fisher Communications to begin the most difficult job he’ll ever undertake – stay-at-home dad! Box has been producing the KOMO-AM/FM “Newsline” program and programmed KVI as it made the recent transition from oldies back to talk. KVI talk host Scott Carty will serve as interim PD.
New Hampshire Primary, Iran Nuclear Ambitions/American Sentenced to Death, Obama Chief of Staff to Exit and Tebow Rallies Boncos Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/9). The GOP New Hampshire Primary race, Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its sentencing to death American Amir Mirzaie Hekmati on charges of being a spy, the Obama Administration’s chief of staff Bill Daley to exit and Tim Tebow’s rallying the Broncos to victory over the Steelers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Don Martin Interviewed on TALKERS TV. He is one of the most influential management figures in sports talk radio. Don Martin wears both national and local feathers in his sports cap serving as vice president/general manager of Fox Sports Radio and general manager/program director of sports talk KLAC, Los Angeles. TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian caught up with Martin at the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20/11) and interviewed him about the state of sports talk radio including the local and national perspectives, where to find new talent and the importance of stations having play-by-play associations with a popular sports franchise. Martin also discusses the impact that the PPM is having on the sports talk genre saying that it is showing the format in a positive light. According to Martin, sports talk radio is one area of the talk media world that is less impacted by these difficult times than most. He credits the fact that so many talented hosts are out of work as providing a vibrant talent pool from which to pick when openings come and points to the continual crop of retiring athletes as being another source of potential sports talk broadcasters. Check out this must see video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.
KSFO, San Francisco Makes Program Changes; Melanie Morgan Returns to AM Drive and J.D. Hayworth Takes Over Late Mornings. Almost four years after exiting the AM drive show she co-hosted with Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan is back on the Cumulus Media station alongside morning host Brian Sussman. KSFO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to have Melanie back on KSFO. She’s very popular with listeners and we’re looking forward to her many contributions on the revamped morning show.” Cumulus fills the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot vacated by Rush Limbaugh when the Premiere Networks star moved across town to Clear Channel’s new KKSF with former Arizona congressman KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth says of his new gig, “As a ‘recovering’ Congressman, I’ll ‘pull back the curtains’ and explain why politicians do the things they do. With the help of KSFO listeners, we’ll endeavor to provide common sense and clarity in these challenging and confusing times.”
Bob Lonsberry to Host Local Show for Clear Channel’s WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse. Bob Lonsberry tells the Syracuse Post-Standard he’ll make his new show local for Syracuse listeners even though he’ll be a commuter from his home market of Rochester where he hosts the midday show on WHAM. Lonsberry takes over the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program beginning January 9. The shift was formerly held by Jim Reith who exited the station at the end of October. Lonsberry tells the paper, “I want something that literally speaks to a Syracuse listener, is representative of them and is a service to them.” Lonsberry will lead into WSYR-AM/FM’s 5:00 pm news-oriented “Daily Wrap with Joe Galuski and Kevin Schenk.”
Gene Burns to Begin KKSF, San Francisco Show Next Week After Apparent Health Issues. The new lineup at Clear Channel’s KKSF, San Francisco began this week but former KGO talk host Gene Burns was missing in action. Numerous reports in the media trades cite a mini-stroke suffered by Burns as the reason he’s not on the air. However, Bay Area blogger Rich Lieberman reports that Burns did not suffer a stroke of any kind, that he has another unspecified medical condition and is expected to be on the radio next week.
WXOS-FM, St. Louis Tweaks Lineup; Former Cardinal Chris Duncan Moves to PM Drive. Hubbard Radio’s 101 ESPN (WXOS-FM) moves former St. Louis Cardinals star Chris Duncan from his role on the evening show to “The Fast Lane” PM drive program where he’ll work alongside Randy Karraker and D’Marco Farr. Bob Ramsey, who had been part of the “Fast Lane” show, moves to the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with co-host Brian Stull for the newly named “Stully & Rammer” show. Ramsey also maintains his role as voice of the St. Louis Billikens calling St. Louis University men’s basketball games on the station. Program director Kent Sterling states, “We are excited to put Chris Duncan on ‘The Fast Lane.’ He is a unique communicator with an incredible work ethic, and a great guy. He has lived a life in the eye of the sports hurricane and he speaks with an authority that is captivating. Media is all about finding great communicators and Chris is one of the most gifted in America.”
CBS Radio Announces Debut of DC All-News Outlet. CBS Radio’s all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will hit the airwaves on January 19 and will feature the following talent lineup: Bill Rehkopf and Amy Morris in AM drive, Jenny Glick and Chas Henry in middays, Evan Haning and Nancy Lyons in PM drive, and Sarah Jacobs and Cheryl Simone in evenings. Program director Robert Sanchez says of the new station, “We are very excited to have put together such a great group of professionals who have spent many years covering local and national news. Each brings a specialty to WNEW creating a great team which will deliver important and compelling news that matters to local residents. When Washington needs to know, this team will have them covered.”
Rob Williams New OM/PD at WQRT, Cincinnati; New PM Drive Show Debuts. The Florence, Kentucky-licensed talk station owned by Christian Broadcasting System Ltd. names former Clear Channel programmer Rob Williams operations manager and program director for “Real Talk 1160” – WQRT. Williams replaces Cary Pall. At the same time, as talk host Andy Furman begins his new position hosting morning drive on the Fox Sports Radio Network, he leaves WQRT and makes way for “The Other Guys” afternoon sports talk show featuring Fox Sports Ohio’s Jeff Piecoro, former producer and co-host of the Furman show Rick “the Brick” Wall, and Metro Networks’ Jeremy “J-Lance” Lance.
Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Fracking-Related Earthquakes and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/3). The GOP Iowa Caucuses held yesterday, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and warnings to the U.S. about carriers in the region, reports of earthquakes in Northeastern Ohio thought to be related to oil and gas fracking and the first financial markets activity of the new year were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Mona Lipschitz Debuts New Column. Full of gossip, rumors, personal asides and unbridled opinion about the industry and the people in it, Mona Lipschitz debuts her new column “Straight from The Lip” today at Talkers.com. In it she offers some keen insights about recent changes at Merlin Media and Cumulus Media as well as some pointed advice for Anderson Cooper. Mona has been the news editor of TALKERS magazine for the past 21 years and she knows where all the bodies are buried in this business. Let the dishing begin! To read the first installment of “Straight from The Lip,” click here.
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 Networks’ Jim 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.
Walter Sabo Says Merlin’s FM News Operations in New York and Chicago off to Good Start. In an exclusive interview for TALKERS TV conducted this past Friday in New York City (right before Hurricane Irene made its way up the coast to the Big Apple), Merlin Media COO Walter Sabo praises his company’s talent roster, sales staff, and CEO Randy Michaels for creating and marketing all-news FM products in New York and Chicago strategically targeted for 25-54 year old working families. These are WEMP-FM, New York (FM News 101.9) and WWWN-FM, Chicago (FM News 101.1). When asked to further define the term “working families,” Sabo responds, “Families in which mom and dad go to work.” He says compared to the audiences of today’s traditional all-news stations, 25-54 represents the younger demographic. “They need the same information as everyone else but the key to reaching them is to understand they are extremely busy.” He explains, “They are busy running to their jobs, going to day care, picking up the kids. Their day is a series of high-pressure points regarding the clock. They don’t have time to listen to any information that isn’t right to the point.” He credits the impressive list of advertisers already signed up for these relatively brand new stations to the competence of their sales department and the fact that advertisers “immediately embrace” the concept of all news targeted to a young working audience. TALKERS monitors on the ground in New York City report that FM News 101.9 delivered “superb coverage” of Hurricane Irene throughout all phases of its assault on the region. View this must-see interview, “Lunch with Walter Sabo,” on TALKERS TV on this page.
CBS Aggressively Leads Sports Talk Invasion of FM. The FM band is quickly being populated by sports talk radio and it’s not a stretch to say CBS is leading the charge. TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian writes that when the company launched WXYT-FM, Detroit four years ago, it wasn’t planning beyond that station. But as CBS Radio SVP of programming Chris Oliviero tells TALKERS, “We realized this is a road we should go down from a programming, as well as a general radio business standpoint. We love the format and think we are good at doing it.” With the simulcast of WIP, Philadelphia beginning on September 6, CBS will have nine sports outlets on FM in the top 30 markets. Read Mike Kinosian’s in-depth look at CBS Radio’s FM sports initiative here.
Josefa Salinas of Hot 92.3 to Speak at Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum 2011. Well-known Los Angeles radio personality Josefa Salinas who hosts a widely-heard weekend community affairs talk program on Clear Channel’s urban oldies “Hot 92.3” (WHHT-FM) will join the growing all-star roster of speakers at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum. Salinas will participate on the panel titled “The Issues Facing Southern California: Challenges and Solutions.” Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison it will be the only panel at the event which focuses entirely on public issues outside the industry. (The rest of the event will address inner-industry issues.) Panelists include Charles Feldman of KNX, Los Angeles; Roger Hedgecock of KOGO, San Diego and Radio America; Stephanie Miller of KTLK, Los Angeles and Dial Global; Doug McIntyre of KABC, Los Angeles and Citadel Media; Patt Morrison of KPCC, FM Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; and John Phillips of KABC, Los Angeles. TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey states, “We have an amazingly well balanced panel of stars coming together here and the addition of such a community-involved radio broadcaster as Josefa Salinas really rounds it out beautifully. Considering the intensely controversial issues facing the region and the firepower that’ll be sitting up there on that stage, we should be in for an explosive session in the tradition of our most exciting Talk Rumbles.” The Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum 2011, presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club, will take place on Thursday, October 20 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. It features a lineup of more than 30 leading talk broadcasters including keynote speaker Bill Handel of KFI, Los Angeles and most of the top program directors from the major talk stations in Southern California. For the complete up-to-the-minute agenda and registration information, please click here.
WQXI, Atlanta Adds Dave Archer to PM Drive Show. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and current Falcons Radio Network analyst Dave Archer is named co-host of the Lincoln Financial Media station’s PM drive show alongside Mike Bell. Archer replaces David Pollack who becomes co-host of the new Palmer and Pollack show on the station. WQXI general manager Andrew Saltzman states, “There is no question that Dave Archer is the perfect guy to co-host our afternoon drive show. As an eight-year veteran of the Atlanta Falcons Radio Network, along with his six-year career as a NFL quarterback, Dave truly understands the intricacies of collegiate and professional sports. Most important is his tremendous chemistry with Bell. These guys have a lot of fun together and so will our listeners.”
Changes in PM Drive at KTSA, San Antonio? Nothing confirmed by owner Border Media Partners yet but TALKERS hears PM drive host Kevin Wall is out at KTSA, San Antonio and Sean Rima takes over his show. Rima worked for BMP in Austin at KXBT-FM before the company flipped it from talk to oldies. There was a report Rima was going to host a program at an online talk venture BMP was developing but the status of that is unclear.
Stephan Multi-Media Producing “Different” 9/11 Special. Doug Stephan, host of the nationally syndicated morning show, “Good Day,” is producing a September 11 anniversary special available for broadcast the weekend of September, 9-11. Media Management Group’s Craig Whetstine says, “We think it is different from most of the specials. It is a three-hour special, entitled, “Stronger Than Ever: Ten Years Past September 11.” Doug isn’t going to be looking back at the events of 9/11/01; he’ll be focused on where we are today and looking forward.” The program is being made available to non-affiliates of “Good Day” providing the program is not already heard in the market. Contact Whetstine at 212-545-8383.
Clear Channel Changes Market Managers in Seattle. Michele Grosenick is suddenly out as market manager of Clear Channel’s Seattle-Tacoma stations that include sports KJR. In is former CBS Radio manager Lisa Decker who left that company earlier this year. CC EVP of operations for the Western Region Susan Karis says of Decker, “Lisa is an amazing addition to the Clear Channel team. She has proven success with an impressive track record in delivering results in a highly competitive field.”
WDFN, Detroit Personality Tom Kowalski Dies Unexpectedly at 51. Known as Tom “Killer” Kowalski, he wrote for the Oakland Press and co-hosted PM drive at Clear Channel’s sports WDFN with Sean Baligian and Ryan Terpstra. His beat was the Detroit Lions and he got his nickname for his dogged pursuit as a reporter. CC Detroit market manager Til Levesque posted the following on WDFN’s website: “It is with a very heavy heart that I share with you that Tom Kowalski passed away this morning. Tom was a tremendous talent and his passion for all things Lions and the NFL never faltered. He was a tremendous asset to us on WDFN AM. His presence will be greatly missed in afternoons not to mention in the hallways and around the building. Having him on our team made us a better sports talk station and for that I will always be thankful of his time with CCD.”
Former WCCO, Minneapolis Talk Host Brad Walton Dies at Age 60. Walton was a Twin Cities media figure who spent 11 years at CBS Radio’s WCCO handling weekend overnights and fill-in shifts beginning in 1997. Walton wrote a book in 2004 titled, How Does the Heart Know Love?, a personal story about his life after open heart surgery.
Fox Sports Radio Hits 400 Affiliate Mark. The addition of CBS Radio’s new Cleveland FM sports talk outlet, “SportsRadio 92.3 The Fan” (WKRK-FM), on August 29 gives Fox Sports Radio 400 affiliate stations 11 years after its debut in August of 2000. FSRN vice president and general manager Don Martin says of the milestone, “This is a proud moment for the FSR family, as we welcome Cleveland’s WKRK 92.3 ‘The Fan’ and eclipse the 400-affiliate mark. None of this would be possible without the tremendous product that our talent delivers every day and, most importantly, the relationships we have with our incredible affiliates. Fox Sports Radio and our affiliates are the true definition of a team.”
Obama Economic Policy, 2012 Presidential Race, Irene Aftermath/Global Warming and Libya Turmoil Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/29). President Obama’s plan to fix the ailing economy, the 2012 presidential race, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and global warming and the state of Libya as the Gaddhafi family flees were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.