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Dan Mason Announces Retirement from CBS RADIO; Andre Fernandez to Assume President Role. In a letter to company staffers president and CEO Dan Mason announces he’s stepping down from his post this month. Here’s the text of his letter: “After an unforgettable eight years leading CBS RADIO, I am announcing today my retirement at the end of April. Witnessing all that we’ve accomplished and knowing the bright future ahead for our company has not made this an easy decision. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as president and CEO and I want to express my gratitude to all of you. My passion and love for this industry is well known and I’ve enthusiastically watched as we’ve transformed our broadcast business and simultaneously evolved our digital product. I couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishments – everything from creating new music formats, and launching sports on FM, to the evolution of Radio.com and now Play.it, our on-demand podcast network. We’ve made it easier than ever before for listeners to experience our content through new online, mobile and event platforms. However, as much fun as I’ve had, it’s now time to “pivot” in my personal life. With four kids either grown, out of the house or on their way to college, I would like to do some “retirement” type things like leisure travel and spending more time doing my favorite hobbies. Broadcasting will always be part of my life. I am happy to continue with CBS RADIO on a consulting basis, and I will also be doing more work for the Broadcaster’s Foundation, a cause that I believe so much in. Finally, this fall I will be doing play-by-play for select college basketball games, a passion I followed early in my career. I guess you never get rid of the disc jockey blood you’re born with. Most people are lucky enough to have one great run at the helm of an organization – I’ve had two. My thanks to Leslie Moonves who has been so supportive of every new road we traveled down since this extraordinary second time around began for me in 2007. His desire for great content has been an inspiration for all of us and will no doubt continue to be the foundation of the company. Thank you as well for facing every opportunity with optimism and dedicating yourselves to teamwork, excellence and creativity. You have been great colleagues. I look forward to seeing you all grow in the years ahead, adding to a long list of successes.” CBS Corp. has announced that former Journal Communications president and COO Andre J. Fernandez will be the radio division’s new president effective next week. The company says that Fernandez will oversee the direction and management of the division, which includes 117 stations in 26 major markets as well as a growing collection of digital assets.
Analysis: RAIN Summit West. Media consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas covering not one but three conventions for TALKERS magazine this week. His piece covers the RAIN Summit West, which historically precedes the annual NAB Show. Cooke writes that it’s impossible to go out in public and not see people interacting with their iPhones so it only stands to reason that this is the new frontier on which consumers need to be reached. He reports that on one panel dealing with podcasts, PodcastOne CEO Norm Pattiz extolled the virtues of the podcast format. “Podcast listeners are P1 listeners because they have to perform a positive task” by connecting. Pattiz reckons these “lean-forward listeners” are “much-more engaged” than “lean-back” AM/FM/TV users. Cooke says social media was also front-and-center at RAIN and on one panel discussion, “Jumpwire Media’s Gavin McGarry sounded almost stern: ‘Social media is NOT for marketing. It’s about building community. And he urged that stations take it seriously: ‘Outsourcing social media to your interns is not an option.’ Your brand is at stake.” Read Cooke’s entire report here.
Rush Limbaugh to Seek New Home in Indy. In a statement from both Premiere Networks and Emmis-owned news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis, the former’s Rush Limbaugh program will cease to be heard on WIBC-FM after July 3. The statement doesn’t say which party chose not to renew the contract nor where the show will be heard after the current deal expires. Emmis Indianapolis SVP/market manager Charlie Morgan comments, “Premiere has been a great partner, and Rush has been an iconic part of WIBC’s heritage and success. WIBC has a strong lineup of live-and-local personalities delivering great radio, and we will continue to be Indianapolis’ home for listeners with a passion for conservative values and principles.” Premiere president Julie Talbott adds, “We’ve had a wonderful partnership with Emmis for many years, including a long history of ratings success for the Rush Limbaugh Show in Indianapolis.”
Cumulus Names VP/Sales … Right Now. The vice president of sales position is landed by Justus Lowenberg and it is actually for Cumulus Media‘s Right Now Traffic Network in San Francisco. Cumulus vice president of sales for news-talk Jaysson Reno remarks, “Justus will be a strong addition to our sales leadership team in San Francisco. His track record and experience will take our Right Now Traffic Network to new levels and provide maximum value for our community of listeners and advertisers.” Lowenberg comments, “With a top notch staff and elite brand of call letters, I am excited to be joining the Cumulus San Francisco team. The Right Now Traffic Network offers advertisers an unparalleled opportunity to connect with Bay Area listeners as they seek out route information in one of the most traffic congested markets in the country.” Lowenberg previously was in network sponsorship sales for iHeartMedia‘s Total Traffic Network and was national sales manager for Entravision Communications. He began his radio sales career at Infinity Broadcasting – CBS Radio in 1999 as an account executive.
WGN, Chicago to Debut Justin Kaufmann Show on April 16. Recently recruited from Chicago public radio outlet WBEZ, Justin Kaufmann will begin his regular program on Tribune’s WGN this Thursday. “The Download” will air from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm as reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder today (4/13). WGN VP of content and programming Todd Manley tells Feder “The Download” is a “daily mirror on Chicago revealed in multiple chapters. You’ll hear a variation of WGN talk soup that replays pieces of interviews from earlier in the day not in ‘best of’ style, but to challenge ourselves to be more reflective and less reactive. Justin has a passion for revealing the hidden stories in breaking news, and we’ll pack one hour each night with A-list guests, too. We also look forward to town hall conversations on location and some deep dives into music and comedy. You’ll be treated to a kind of sonic architecture you won’t hear anywhere else.” Kaufmann was most recently executive producer at WBEZ, in charge of the local shows “The Morning Shift” and “The Afternoon Shift,” among others.
Indiana Senate Passes Resolution To Activate FM Radio In Smartphones. More specifically, Senate Resolution 28 addresses the importance of Indiana residents having a link to emergency information from broadcasts of local radio stations via their Smartphones. A chip enabling Smartphone owners to monitor FM radio stations already exists in Smartphones available in the United States. Founded in 2013 – and with partial funding from NAB Labs – wholly owned Emmis Communications subsidiary TagStation – developed the NextRadio hybrid radio Smartphone app that combines the devices’ built-in FM tuner and the Internet. Ever since September 2013, Sprint customers have been able to listen to FM stations through that carrier’s android devices. Comparable legislation is scheduled for review in other states.
Odds & Sods. This week, WGOW, Chattanooga afternoon personality Brian Joyce will be filling in for talk host Michael Graham on WYAY, Atlanta “NewsRadio 106.7” on Tuesday (4/14) after having subbed for him earlier in the month. Both talk stations are owned by Cumulus Media…..Tribune’s WGN Radio is partnering with the McCormick Foundation, WGN TV, Chicago Tribune and Hoy to launch the Illinois Tornado Relief Effort 2015 to help communities struggling with the devastation caused by the April 9 tornadoes. The Illinois Tornado Relief Effort will support nonprofit agencies providing disaster relief and recovery efforts to those communities hardest hit by the tornadoes. The McCormick Foundation will match the first $500,000 raised at 50 cents on the dollar. Additionally, during an interview on April 10 with Roe Conn on WGN, Chicago, Governor Bruce Rauner made a personal donation of $100,000 to the Illinois Tornado Relief Effort…..A change in formats in Spokane as iHeartRadio flips sports talk simulcast KZFS/K257FX at 99.3 to contemporary Christian branded as “UP 99.3.”…..West Virginia morning personality Kay Murray retires from West Virginia Radio Corp.-owned news/talk WAJR, Morgantown after 35 years on the air…..The NBA’s LA Clippers and sports talk KFWB, Los Angeles “The Beast 980” are announcing a new exclusive multi-year broadcast rights agreement. The station will continue to be the official radio home of the Clippers for all preseason, regular season and playoff games as well as present comprehensive year-round coverage. Play-by-play duties will be handled by Brian Sieman in his eighth season calling Clippers action on the radio, while the “Voice of the Clippers,” Ralph Lawler, and former Clipper Michael Smith team up with Sieman to call all nationally televised games not shown on Fox Sports PRIME TICKET. Long-time Clippers broadcaster Isaac Lowenkron will continue to host Clippers pre-game, halftime and post-game shows. “The Beast 980” personalities George Wrighster and Brett Winterble also host “Clippers Hardcore” before every game.
Richard Davies Retires from ABC News Radio; Begins New Weekly Podcast Venture. After an almost 30-year career with ABC News Radio, Richard Davies is leaving the network to pursue his own project called “How Do We Fix It?” Davies’ venture is a weekly podcast that allows him to perform as a talk radio host, speaker and broadcaster. This new weekly project will entail Davies and fellow journalist, Jim Meigs, former editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics, calling on experts and seeking solutions to vital maters that concern the public — from getting out personal debt to finding better teachers for kids to the probing the future of space exploration, “How Do We Fix It?” proposes to present “positive views on challenging matters.”
RAB and NBA Partner for Las Vegas Radio Sales Event. In partnership with the Radio Advertising Bureau, the Nevada Broadcasters Association presented a gathering of Vegas-area radio stations along with local advertising agency, marketing and client executives for “Radio. It’s On In Las Vegas!” The April 9 event was described as a “thought leadership, content-infused networking seminar.” Featured speakers included primetime television and radio host, best-selling author, Jeffrey Hayzlett; Bill Rose, senior vice president, Nielsen Audio; and Erica Farber, president & CEO, Radio Advertising Bureau. For the event’s finale, top Las Vegas radio talent engaged in a roundtable during which they discussed the personal connections and relationships they form with listeners across the local community every day. Talent included: KWNR’s JoJo Turnbaugh, KSNE’s Marco in the Morning, KOMP’s Brittney & Sparks, KLUC’s Chet Buchanan, KMXB’s Mercedes, KKLZ’s Mike O’Brian, KDWN’s John Shaffer, and KWWN’s Mitch Moss.
Chris Krok at Texas Motor Speedway. WBAP, Dallas personality Chris Krok (pictured here at the mic) speaks to a group of listeners and some of the “Duck Dynasty” clan at the Texas Motor Speedway during his “Chris Krok and His Flock” live event promotion. This took place just prior to the Duck Commander 500 race. Krok MC’d “Racing with Faith,” an event that included him interviewing NASCAR drivers about their faith as well as “Duck Dynasty” stars Phil Robertson and his son Alan. Krok tells TALKERS magazine, “We’ve been doing this great event at Texas Motor Speedway for two years now, but this was by far the most incredible one yet! What a privilege for me to do this.”
The Frozen Four Airs on Westwood One Sports. The radio sports network broadcast the college hockey finals over the weekend – dubbed The Frozen Four – live from Boston’s TD Garden as the Providence Friars came back to beat Boston University in the final game, 4-3. Pictured here is Westwood One’s Adam Wodon (left) interviewing the Friars’ Brandon Tanev (right), who scored the winning goal.
First Amendment Friday Benefits Youth Athletics. Portland-based talk show host Lars Larson is pictured here holding a Barrett .50 caliber rifle that was raffled off to benefit the St. Helen’s Girls Softball League. The raffle was part of a series of remotes the KXL, Portland and Compass Media Networks personality does from his favorite local gun store, NW Armory. Larson says the team asked for his help in raising funds last year and he’s been happy to help. The league netted $34,000 from last year’s raffle and hopes to achieve similar results this year. Larson says the league bought a small tractor for field maintenance, some automatic electronic defibrillators, and a number of other things.
By Mike Kinosian
LOS ANGELES — Dazzling omnipresent decorations, magnificent multi-colored lights, hastening hustle and bustle, and a brisk icy chill in the air all underscore that this indisputably is the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Even the most adamant skeptic will find corroboration and confirmation of that fact, simply by turning to at least one local FM music outlet that has transitioned to playing wall-to-wall Christmas tunes.
On such dedicated dial positions, listeners will instantly hear artists from Andy Williams to Garth Brooks to Harry Connick, Jr. to Amy Grant wonderfully warbling about the warm joys crystallized in this “hap-happiest season of all.”
Contemplative scene thoughts of “parties for hosting” and “marshmallows for toasting” support the heartwarming notion.
Visions of sugarplums dance in our collective heads, yet some radio historians cannot help but ratchet up dour “Debbie Downer,” the “SNL” character superbly portrayed by Lexington, Massachusetts native Rachel Dratch. Punctuated with a delivery that sucks the life and enthusiasm from any room, Debbie Downer would suggest this is anything but the happiest season of all, especially in radio.
Some heartless, dastardly things have transpired post-Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day over the years in this business.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
Meet Michael Berry
LOS ANGELES — Granted, it doesn’t quite convey the magnitude of Howard Stern’s “King of All Media” bravado, but “Czar of Talk Radio” is the tongue-in-cheek manner Michael Berry refers to himself. “If President Obama can name a czar for everything, then I’m the ‘Czar of Talk Radio,'” Berry reasons.
The moniker took off when he started it four years ago and Berry has capitalized on it. “Other talk hosts say they wish they branded it before I did.”