WTOP, Washington Expands Multi-Platform News Operation; News and Programming Pro Laurie Cantillo Named to Newly Created Program Director Position. Former WABC, New York program director Laurie Cantillo joins Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington where she’ll work closely with vice president of news and programming Jim Farley for the organization that is also announcing the expansion and restructuring of its news and broadcasting staff. In a statement, WTOP explains, “One of the primary reasons for the new structure is to redefine the news workflow. Instead of the traditional model which takes broadcast content and tries to fit it into a digital hole, WTOP’s strategy will focus on the creation of news stories at the beginning of a process. A story’s execution will be determined at its origin. It will then be optimized for all the distribution platforms WTOP offers: radio, web, Facebook, Twitter and mobile. In addition to Cantillo joining the organization, other staff changes include: Current director of digital operations John Meyer moving into the newsroom as the architect of the social and digital strategy as it comes together with the current broadcast operation; current news director Mike McMearty becomes senior news director; assistant news director Mitchell Miller is upped to news director; Mike Gartell is now managing editor; Gary Emerling is named senior digital editor; and Darci Marchese becomes executive producer. Jim Farley states, “We will now have both a digital editor and a radio editor working together 24/7. No other radio station in America does this. And we are not just talking the talk; we are hiring more people, re-evaluating everything we do and making the necessary changes no matter how sacred or ingrained. The future is digital and WTOP will be the leader heading into that future.” Regarding Laurie Cantillo’s joining the WTOP operation, Farley says, “Laurie is one of the best, most-admired and well-liked program directors in America. She has solid news credentials, a great track record of ratings success in major markets and a great understanding of the power and potential of digital and social media.”
NPR Uses Grant for Digital Media Training and Multi-Platform News. Through a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, NPR is expanding its training initiatives to increase the use of digital tools both at NPR member stations and in the NPR newsroom. According to NPR, “Building on successful training piloted by NPR a few years ago, the grant provides for the development of extensive training for more than 70 local public radio stations. Topics include strategies to build multi-media news operations, writing for the web, photography and the role of social media in newsgathering. These resources will dramatically improve the ability of participating stations to broaden and deepen their news production and better serve both new and existing audiences. The grant will also fund digital coaches for NPR journalists.” NPR chief executive officer Gary Knell says, “NPR is a major force in media today, helping more than 34 million people make sense of what is going on in the world. These digital training resources will ensure that NPR and hundreds of member stations nationwide continue to pioneer the use of new technologies to connect with new and existing audiences.”
Standard & Poor’s Downgrades CC Media Holdings on Long-term Debt Concerns. Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Michael Altberg states that softening ad demand and the uncertain global economy may slow the growth of revenue for Clear Channel’s parent company and while the ability to pay the debt that comes due in 2012 and 2013 isn’t seen as a problem, the notes that mature in 2014 and 2016 are bigger issues. The company faces secured and unsecured debt maturities of $2.9 billion in 2014 and $12.3 billion in 2016. S&P notes CC Media Holdings is considered highly leveraged and that could negatively affect its ability to re-finance before those debts come due. When that time comes, anyone looking to buy a radio station might find opportunity in what could potentially be the biggest fire sale selloff of sticks in recent history.
CBS Local Digital Media Partners with Examiner.com for Content Creation. The network of websites and mobile apps that make up CBS Local Digital Media is entering into a content creation relationship with Examiner.com to produce unique content for CBS’ locally targeted properties in more than two dozen major markets across the country. Examiner.com is a leading online publisher featuring local expertise from over 85,000 contributors, known as Examiners. The lifestyle content created through this partnership is described as “‘Best Of’ guides and ‘Top Spots’ lists covering a range of topics including arts and culture, shopping, food and drink, nightlife and music, as well as travel and outdoors.” CBS Local Digital Media president Ezra Kucharz states, “Over the course of the past 18 months we’ve built a platform that quickly garnered interest from millions of users searching for the best local news, information and entertainment. Taking our vision one step further by working with a stable of contributors with expertise in their field will greatly enhance the audience’s experience. This is not just about telling you where to go and what to see – it’s providing ‘insider access’ to a city you may be visiting or have lived your whole life that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Dr. Joy Browne Appears on TALKERS TV. She is by far the most successful psychology and relationships talker on radio in America. WOR Radio Network star Dr. Joy Browne is interviewed by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey at the seventh annual “It’s Time to Talk Day” radio row designed to raise consciousness about domestic violence and teenage dating abuse presented recently by TALKERS and Talk Radio News Service in conjunction with corporate sponsor Liz Claiborne, Inc. The event was held in the showroom at the Midtown Manhattan headquarters of the fashion company. Browne candidly discusses the state of relationship talk radio’s place within the news/talk playing field and explains the connections between psychology and all the hot issues discussed within the genre. To view this not-to-be-missed video, see TALKERS TV at the right on this page.
Glenn Beck’s GBTV Takes Over “Apocalypse” Reality Show. The program was once called, “Apocalypse, PA” when it ran on the History Channel last year but on Beck’s online venture GBTV it will be called, “Independence USA.” It follows Frank Belcastro and his family as they prepare to survive in a post-apocalyptic world by such means as devising a car that runs on wood instead of gasoline, becoming expert hunters and creating his own alcohol for barter when the money system collapses. According to TVNewser, the program debuts on January 18 with new episodes every Wednesday. It is the first reality show to become part of Beck’s GBTV where his own daily TV program is seen.
KFI, Los Angeles Debuts New Food Show with Neil Saavedra in January. The program is called, “The Fork Report,” and will have its premier airing on Saturday, January 7 hosted by KFI’s Neil Saavedra. The station says, “‘The Fork Report’ will be a food show like no other food show, delving into all things edible. The show will run the food gamut from local restaurants to kitchen gadgets, interviews with chefs to food news (like recalls, new products). If you can eat it or it’s a gizmo to help you prepare it…Saavedra talks about it.” Saavedra also hosts the KFI-based and Premiere Networks syndicated “Jesus Christ Show” and serves as the director of marketing for the Clear Channel station.
Katy Pavelonis Named VP of Sales at Grand Slam Sports. The St.Louis-based sports media company operates KFNS, St. Louis, KFNS.com, St. Louis Sports Magazine, Grand Slam Sports Promotions, SportsRadio 1380 and SportsRadio1380.com. Katy Pavelonis previously served as VP/director of sales at CBS Radio’s St. Louis cluster that includes news/talk KMOX. On her new position, Pavelonis states, “I am excited about starting with Grand Slam Sports. Having sold Cardinal baseball, Blues hockey and University of Missouri products in the past, I know how passionate the sports fans are here and how supportive the local advertising community can be for local sports. Marketing the incredible media mix that Grand Slam Sports provides to those advertisers is something I am very much looking forward to.”
NTSB Cell Phone Ban, 2012 Presidential Race, Payroll Tax Cut Issue and Iraq Troop Withdrawl Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation that no personal electronic devices be allowed to be operated by motorists in the U.S., the GOP race to challenge President Obama in the 2012 election, Congressional leaders’ work to deal with the budget deficit and the payroll tax cut issue plus the withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.