By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
WASHINGTON, DC — In the era of industry-wide consolidation and moves to cut costs with syndication over local talk hosts, longtime radio and media veteran Kirby Wilbur could be the poster child for reinventing a career while helping others to start their own. Washington, DC-born and Seattle-raised, Wilbur made a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest not from his job as a real estate appraiser, but as a frequent caller to talk shows, a non-paid “hobby” that ultimately led him to his own talk show on KVI in 1993. For the next 16 years, he was a staple on Seattle airwaves, along with numerous appearances on TALKERS magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list of the most important radio talk show hosts in America, and also as a fill-in host for the Sean Hannity Show, until he was cut loose from KVI in October, 2009.
Fortunately for Wilbur, his Republican ideology, political activism and ability to articulate points allowed him to move directly into politics, becoming the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. During his tenure, Republicans picked up majorities in the Washington State House and State Senate. However, an offer came his way that has not only changed him, but is also developing a new generation of members of the media.
Ray Mariner to Program ‘106.1 The Ticket’ and ‘NASH FM 92.3’ in New Orleans. In a newly created management position at Cumulus Media’s New Orleans operations, programmer and air personality Ray Mariner begins leading the programming at country WRKN “NASH FM 92.3” and sports talker WMTI “106.1 The Ticket” on April 15. Mariner most recently was a personality on Dickey Broadcasting’s WCNN, Atlanta “680 The Fan.” He also served in the market as PM drive personality on Lincoln Financial Media’s CHR WSTR “Star 94.” Cumulus SVP of programming Mike McVay states, “Ray is a rare breed of programmer and talent. He has shown his programming acumen by performing and succeeding at the highest level. We’re excited to have him oversee the programming of both ‘NASH FM 92.3’ and ‘106.1 The Ticket’ in New Orleans.” Cumulus sports/talk format captain Jim Mahanay adds, “Ray Mariner is a strong addition to Cumulus’ programming team in New Orleans. He brings a great track record and tremendous talent to this important role at ‘NASH FM 92.3’ and ‘106.1 The Ticket.’ I look forward to having him lead our sports programming in this key market.”
Ron Jaworski’s WPEN, Philadelphia Show to Air Year Round. Former Philadelphia Eagles great Ron Jaworski has been hosting a weekly football show on Greater Media’s WPEN, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” during the regular NFL season but now the station makes his Wednesday evening 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm show a year-round deal. The station is kicking off the program with a live show from Riley’s Pub at Valleybrook Country Club in Blackwood, New Jersey tomorrow evening (4/9). Jaworski says in a statement, “I couldn’t be more excited to be extending the Ron Jaworski show to a year-round event. The NFL has become a 12-month league. It’s going to be fun talking with the Philadelphia fans about free agency, the draft, training camp and eventually when the games get started in September.”
NAB Show: Sound Bites from Sin City. Media consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas reporting for RadioInfo from the NAB Show and here is some of what he’s gleaned from the convention. Cooke writes that although this convention is not a radio gathering – that’s in Indianapolis in September – he says, “The recurring theme radio people hear here is that stations can’t only be ‘in the radio business’ anymore.” Sales skills are probably the most important a broadcaster can have these days and there’s a lot of that kind of advice to be had. During the RAB’s Lunch-N-Learn session, CEO Erica Farber noted that three of radio’s sales mistakes are: being afraid to ask for “The Big Ask”; constant rep turnover; and selling to the same advertisers over and over. Read more of HC’s report here.
Syndication: Love or Money? Moving a radio program into the syndication realm is a challenging venture and it’s a move that can be started for the wrong reasons. In a column published today (4/8), Global Media Services founder Tony Garcia writes that for a show to have a chance at success in syndication – even one that is successful on the local level – there are a number of questions the producer of the show must answer before moving ahead. Garcia says, “If you are going to get the attention of program directors, your show and your pitch must to be relevant and compelling. What is it you are providing for the station and its audience? Are you solving a problem? Are you doing something that the station can’t easily do itself?” Read more about what Garcia suggests a potential show producer must be prepared to answer in his piece here.
Immigration Radio Row Takes Place in Washington Tomorrow. The annual radio row – organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform – is dubbed “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” and the two-day event begins tomorrow at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. FAIR says it features the largest gathering ever of talk radio hosts focused on a single issue. Dozens of hosts from across the country will spend two days discussing immigration policy with listeners, lawmakers, law enforcement, immigration experts, activists and members of the media live from radio row while broadcasting their shows back to their home markets. Credentialed members of the press are welcome. In particular, reporters covering the national immigration debate will have access to a wide variety of personalities and perspectives all in one location. For more information, contact Kristen Williamson, press secretary at: office 202-328-7004/cell 847-651-8611.
Q1 Radio Deals Top $300 Million on Strength of WBLS/WLIB Sale. According to SNL Kagan, first quarter 2014 radio deals topped the $300 million mark in value. This big quarter was largely the result of the $131 million (8.5 times cash flow) sale of urban contemporary WBLS and gospel WLIB from YMF Media LLC to Emmis Communications Corporation. The other big deal was the $74 million sale of 10 stations from South Central Communications Corporation to SummitMedia, LLC. SNL Kagan says that compared to the 2013 average of 7 times cash flow, the average radio cash flow multiple rose by half a point in the first quarter of 2014.
NRG Media Reports Completion of Change in Equity Investors. The change in equity investors that NRG Media, LLC announced in October of 2013 is complete. The company says the change solidifies “the new partnership between the Midwest-based media company and Cyrus Capital Partners, an investment management company that actively invests in debt and equity securities on a global basis.” Cyrus has approximately $4 billion in assets under management and its investor base is comprised of sophisticated long term institutional and high net worth investors. NRG CEO Mary Quass states, “We look forward to a long relationship with Cyrus Capital Partners and wish to thank Waitt Media and McCarthy Capital for their support over the last 9 years.”
Odds & Sods. Salem Radio Network nationally syndicated morning host Bill Bennett celebrates his 10th year with the network. His “Morning in America” program was visited on Monday by special guests including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, fellow Salem talk host Mike Gallagher and WestwoodOne personality Mark Levin…..Newsweb Radio adds local gay rights author and activist Wayne Besen to the weekend lineup at WCPT-AM/FM, Chicago to host a weekly Saturday afternoon program called, “I’ve Got Issues.” Newsweb president Charles Gross says of the progressive program, “We are excited about this hard-hitting new show that will debate the critical local and national issues that affect our lives.”…..CBS Radio News White House correspondent Peter Maer is being awarded the Merriman Smith Memorial Award for Presidential Coverage Under Deadline Pressure. Maer is receiving the honor for his reports at the Hampton Roads, Virginia shipyard where the president traveled to make his case on last year’s sequestration fight. The White House Correspondents Association says, “Peter Maer’s story on the potential impact of budget sequestration did what White House reporters too rarely do: It humanized a national political story, and managed to do so on an extremely tight deadline, no less.”
A Day at the Races. WBAP, Dallas talk show host Chris Krok (left) poses for a photo with “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson (right) at the Texas Motor Speedway during its “Duck Commander 500” race held over the weekend. Also in the photo is Krok’s son Isaac (center). Krok broadcast his program live from the speedway on Friday (4/4) and then hosted 80 listeners who bought tickets to be part of “Krok and His Flock” on Saturday. Krok and his listeners were able to tour the garage and pits.
ObamaCare Criticism, IRS Scandal, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Common Core Controversy, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Search, and Student Athlete Compensation/NCAA Championship Game Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). Ongoing scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the move by House Speaker John Boehner to bring legal action against ex-IRS official Lois Lerner; Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and fears he’s preparing to arm Iran; troubles with the Common Core standards as states drop the program; the continuing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; and controversy over compensating student athletes and the run-up to the NCAA Championship game were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Boston’s Radio Stations to Observe Moment of Silence on Monday. Boston radio stations are planning a moment of silence on Monday, April 22 to honor the victims of this week’s Boston Marathon bombing. The 60-second tribute will air at 2:50 p.m. – one week from the moment of the detonation of the first bomb – on local radio stations, including those owned by CBS Radio, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, Entercom and Greater Media. National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were impacted by the horrific act that took place in Boston. This moment of silence will serve as a time of reflection, honoring those lost and injured in this tragic event, and recognizing the countless acts of heroism and kindness that we saw on Monday and which continue today. As first informers in times of crisis, broadcasters want to take this opportunity to salute the first responders and the many unsung heroes who do so much during emergency situations.”
WFTL, Fort Lauderdale Talk Show Host Joyce Kaufman Honored at Hold Their Feet to the Fire. Some 50-plus radio talk show hosts from around the nation are gathered on Capitol Hill for the annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row designed to galvanize both citizen and media pressure upon lawmakers to take meaningful action on immigration policy in the United States. The event, organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), began yesterday and continues today (4/17-18) conveniently coinciding with the controversial Amnesty Bill currently being pushed through the U.S. Senate by the so-called “Gang of Eight.” Critics of the bill claim that it would have a disastrous effect upon this country’s already-dysfunctional immigration policy and deal yet another terrible blow to the American worker. The radio row is bringing several hundred guests including lawmakers, government officials, experts, law enforcement officers and border state ranchers to the airwaves of America. During the course of presentations at last evening’s cocktail reception at the event, WFTL, Fort Lauderdale talk show host and highly influential Florida political voice Joyce Kaufman (pictured here) was honored as the recipient of one of FAIR’s highest honors, the “We the People” award, for her longtime commitment to and measurable impact upon the immigration reform movement. Media industry and political observers have long recognized the leadership role conservative news/talk radio has played in the immigration reform movement and by the looks of things at this year’s rally this influence is continuing to be a significant factor in the issue.
Mr. Larson Goes to Washington. Compass Media Networks syndicated talk host Lars Larson – who’s also regionally syndicated in the Pacific Northwest from home base KXL, Portland – is pictured here (r) with Congressman Lou Barletta (l) at the “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row in Washington, DC. In addition to hosting both programs from Washington yesterday and today, Larson will head to affiliate WCHV, Charlottesville, Virginia to broadcast his programs on Friday, April 19.
Dr. Joy Browne Returns to NYC Airwaves. After more than two decades as a staple on New York City talk radio, Radio America-syndicated psychologist Dr. Joy Browne returns to the city’s airwaves on Access.1’s WWRL, New York beginning Monday, April 22. WWRL general manager Adriane Gaines comments, “We are very pleased that Dr. Joy Browne is joining the ‘RL lineup and bringing her on-air advice to our listeners. Joy’s unique blend of wisdom, balance and practical solutions to coping with life’s challenges has made her one of America’s leading clinical psychologists.” Radio America calls Dr. Joy Browne’s program “the longest running of its kind in syndication,” and reports it is airing on more than 125 stations across the country.
Odds & Sods. WGN, Chicago partners with the Illinois Department of Transportation to raise awareness for “Work Zone Safety Week.” The photo you see here is the Tribune Tower lit up in orange to help raise public awareness of the construction season and the need to drive safely to help save lives. The promotion also includes WGN’s Allstate Showcase Studio where three interactive kiosks positioned around the tower will accept safe driving pledges and photos that can be taken and shared with loved ones…..CNN Radio’s Emma Lacey-Bordeaux was honored by the Atlanta Press Club on Tuesday, April 16 with the 2012 Excellence Award for her digital/online reporting. Her body of work on Soundwaves, CNN Radio’s audio blog, was cited for the award with a specific call-out on a story about deportation and immigration reform…..WTOP, Washington was honored with six Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters Awards receiving a first place finish in every category it entered. In addition to being honored with Best Website for wtop.com, WTOP was also recognized with accolades in the Continuing Coverage category for “A Date with Sandy,” the Documentary/In-Depth category for “Battleground Virginia,” the Feature category for “Keeping the Drive-In Alive” and in the Editorial category for “Core Values.” The station was also awarded Meritorious in the Feature category for “Commuter Idle.”…..Salt Lake Community College’s The Grand Theatre will be the broadcast site for KUER public radio’s presentation of NPR’s “Science Friday” on April 19, 2013. The live broadcast will be heard by more than 1.3 million listeners via hundreds of public radio stations across the United States. Randall Irmis, Brooks Britt, and science writer Brian Switek will discuss paleontology during the show’s first hour. Irmis is an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah and the curator of paleontology for the Natural History Museum of Utah. Brooks Britt is an associate professor of geological science at Brigham Young University. He is the former director of the Stewart Museum in Odgen, Utah and the curator of paleontology for the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction, Colorado. Brian Switek is a science writer whose new book My Beloved Brontosaurus was released on April 16 by Scientific American & Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Smerconish Continues SiriusXM Show Launch Blitz. During the first week of his new program on SiriusXM’s POTUS channel, talk media personality Michael Smerconish (r) is moving full-steam ahead promoting the switch. He’s pictured here in the Washington, DC studios of SiriusXM with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (l) discussing – what else? – the public relations issues the two believe the Republican party is having dealing with the Obama Administration and the electorate. That wasn’t the only issue the two discussed but Smerconish and Matthews spent a good portion of their time analyzing the Republican party of today and comparing with the Republican part of the Ronald Reagan era. Smerconish’s new program airs from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. He left AM/FM radio, including home base WPHT, Philadelphia to join the satcaster.
NJBA President Paul Rotella Responds to Smerconish in Letter to Philly Inquirer. In a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer addressing talk show host Michael Smerconish’s exit from WPHT and move to Sirius Satellite Radio – which Smerconish writes about here — , New Jersey Broadcasters Association president Paul Rotella responds to that editorial expressing “dismay that a former broadcaster could have such ‘sour grapes’ for the industry that has given him some fame and probably some fortune.” Rotella goes on to say that broadcast radio is the standard by which “successful radio broadcasters judge their achievements. Look at Ryan Seacrest, Rush Limbaugh, and so many other radio superstars. They have managed to create vast audience niches that exemplify their talent…they didn’t have to run away from the dial.” No word if the paper will print Rotella’s piece.
Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Immigration Legislation, Gun Law Proposals, and Ricin Letters Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/17). The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing; proposals for new immigration legislation – including amnesty to illegal aliens; proposed gun laws and the defeat of an amendment to extend background checks to gun shows and internet sales that was defeated in the Senate; and the ricin-tainted letters sent to Washington, DC were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
“Hold Their Feet to the Fire” Washington Radio Row Scheduled for April 17-18. The annual convergence of radio talk show hosts on Washington, DC to raise awareness about the United States’ immigration policies will take place this year on April 17 and 18. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is organizing the radio row at which talk hosts from across the country will broadcast live for two days from Capitol Hill debating immigration reform while interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists and citizens who live along the border. FAIR says that since the spring of 2007 when “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” successfully helped defeat the McCain-Kennedy Amnesty Bill, the event has grown each year due to mounting public concerns about illegal immigration and talk radio’s expanding influence on the public policy process. The organization also states that with an illegal alien bill likely in spring, this year’s event is expected to be the largest yet with 60 or more hosts attending. FAIR communications director Bob Dane tells TALKERS magazine reservations are required and hosts/producers should call now. There is no cost to attend and all technical engineering, ISDN lines and long distance is included. Silver Lake Audio of New York is the official engineering firm for “Hold Their Feet to the Fire.” Congressional guests, activists, high-profile media personalities, and immigration experts will be in attendance and available throughout the event for wall-to-wall interviews. Dane or event manager Kristen Williamson can be reached at 202-328-7004.
Programmer Gavin Spittle Returns to Dallas as VP of News/Talk/Sports for CBS Radio. Sports and talk programmer Gavin Spittle lets go of the reins at CBS Radio’s sports talk KILT-AM, Houston “SportsRadio 610” to move back to the company’s Dallas cluster to oversee sports talk KRLD-FM “105.3 The Fan,” KRLD-AM “NewsRadio 1080” and the Texas State Networks beginning February 4. Three and a half years ago, Spittle left his VP of news and talk post in Dallas where he programmed KRLD-AM and KRLD-FM when it was hot talk “Live 105.3.” Spittle also oversaw the change of the station to sports talk. On returning to Dallas, SVP and market manager Brian Purdy says, “Under Gavin’s leadership, ‘SportsRadio 610’ dominated Houston sports talk. During his time with the station, ratings among Men 25-54 more than doubled. We’re fortunate to have Gavin as part of our CBS Radio family, and we’re looking forward to having him back in Dallas-Fort Worth.”
Talk Radio Network Welcomes Steve Wall as National Affiliate Consultant. Joining TRN Syndications Ltd. is radio pro Steve Wall as national affiliate consultant. TRN notes that Wall is a “veteran with over 30-years of experience including programming some of America’s highest-rated radio stations across multiple formats in many markets including San Diego, Kansas City, Monterey, Bakersfield, Richmond, and Spokane.” Chief executive officer Mark Masters states, “I am pleased to have Steve in our affiliate department. With our recent launch of ‘The Andrea Tantaros Show’ and the new times for ‘The Jerry Doyle Show’ and ‘The Rusty Humphries Show,’ the timing is perfect to expand our affiliate department to better serve our growing affiliate customer base. Steve is a proven radio professional who can help stations realize their true potential with quality programming.”
Schnitt vs Bubba: Day 5. On the fifth day of testimony in the trial in which Compass Media Networks talk show host Todd Schnitt is suing Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) for defamation, Schnitt was on the witness stand for the second day. Schnitt and his lawyers are trying to convince the jury that Bubba’s “radio war” against him (Schnitt’s MJ Kelli CHR morning show competed against Bubba’s program in the Tampa market) went over the line and fans – known as Bubba’s Army – harassed him and his family. During Schnitt’s testimony Wednesday, he said the incidents where a Bubba fan tried to run him off the road or accosted him at a supermarket in front of his daughter made his family more reclusive and it changed their lifestyle. According to Tampa Bay Online, he testified he should be compensated in the suit to prevent Bubba “from ever doing this in the future.” Schnitt also states that Bubba’s accusation Schnitt rigged a national contest negatively affected his professional integrity. Under cross examination Schnitt admitted he and his family do go out but he said he makes limited public appearances because of the harassment. Before the cross examination he stated, “There’s no amount of damages that will compensate me, my wife my family, for what we experienced. But the jury should award damages that will enable us to believe we did all we could possible to clear our good names.”
Chris Baker Exits KSEV, Houston PM Drive Slot. Talk show host Chris Baker is exiting Dan Patrick-owned news/talk station KSEV, Houston where he’s been PM drive host since February of 2011. The station is bringing market pro Edd Hendee back to the airwaves for the morning drive show. Hendee has been out of radio since the untimely death of his son in February of 2010. Taking over the afternoon slot is Mack Machowicz. The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron reports Baker is not announcing where he may go next but had nothing but good things to say about owner Dan Patrick. “He has been the most gracious and accommodating guy that you could ask to work for. Dan always wants people to better themselves. In this day and age and in this industry, it is rare to have a manager who will always root for peoples’ success.”
Odds & Sods. MSNBC host Martin Bashir has been slowed by a brain tumor diagnosed back in 2008. The Huffington Post reports Bashir missed his regular slot on MSNBC last Friday as the result of a small growth on his pituitary gland. Bashir told DC Fishbowl that when the tumor was diagnosed doctors advised him to take no action but to monitor it monthly…..CNN names Dana Bash chief congressional correspondent. TVNewser reports Bash has been on the Capitol Hill beat since 2006. CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist says in a memo to staff, “Week in and week out, Dana’s reporting and analysis make our air better. And we saw it again yesterday with Dana’s relentless efforts to land interviews in the Capitol Rotunda during our Inauguration coverage.”…..New York Magazine is reporting that Donald Trump is exploring ways to purchase The New York Times. The piece, written by Joe Hagan, notes that “Trump has engaged in more than one meeting to discuss how he might buy the Grey Lady. Details of Trump’s strategy remain scant. And it seems unlikely, to say the least, that the Sulzberger family, which controls the company’s voting shares, would welcome his offer.”
KGMZ, San Francisco Holds Sports Talk Host Contest. Entercom’s 95.7 The Game in San Francisco is executing a sports talk host competition promotion called “Lucky Break 2” – “the return of the Bay Area’s only sports reality competition, where local sports fans compete for the chance of a lifetime: to get paid to host a sports talk show on the radio.” Program director Jason Barrett says, “After seeing the amazing talent and passion that Bay Area sports fans brought to ‘Lucky Break’ last year, we had to bring ‘Lucky Break’ back for 2013. ‘Lucky Break’ is a chance to win one of the best jobs in the world: becoming a sports radio talk show host in a major U.S. market.” ‘Lucky Break 2’ begins with the first open audition on February 5 Halftime Sports Bar in Oakland. It’s being hosted by KGMZ’s Guy Haberman and Gianna Franco and contestants will be coached by Dan Dibley from ‘The Rise Guys’ and Chris Townsend from ‘Bucher & Towny.’ Judges include KGMZ PD Jason Barrett, host John Lund and celebrity athletes from local Bay Area sports teams. Last year’s celebrity judges included Golden State Warriors forward David Lee, San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco 49ers TE Delanie Walker and more. Last year, more than 600 contestants showed up to audition for ‘Lucky Break 1,’ which was eventually won by Daryle “The Guru” Johnson, who can be heard weekends on “95.7 The Game.”
SiriusXM’s Joe Madison to Interview Activist Harry Belafonte. As part of the satcaster’s Town Hall series, talk show host Joe Madison – whose program is also heard on terrestrial station WOL, Washington – will sit down with actor, singer and activist Harry Belafonte at SiriusXM’s New York City studios. Belafonte will also take questions from the audience. The premiere of the program is Friday, January 25 at 5:00 pm ET.
Dick Broadcasting Wins Decision in 12-Year-Old Case. The upshot is that the Tennessee Supreme Court is sending Dick Broadcasting’s suit against John Pirkle’s Oak Ridge FM over WOKI, Knoxville back to a lower court where Dick can sue for damages. (By the way WOKI is currently owned by Cumulus Media.) Here’s the background: In 2000, Dick sold 11 stations to Citadel for $300 million, of which WOKI would have been one. At the time Dick had a time brokerage agreement with WOKI owner Oak Ridge FM to operate WOKI with a clause that gave Dick the right of first refusal to buy the station. Oak Ridge refused to consent to the transfer of the station and honor the transfer. A year later Dick sued Oak Ridge but lost in a lower court but the appellate court ruled the lower court judge should not have dismissed the case. Oak Ridge challenged that at the Tennessee Supreme Court where the six judges ruled unanimously that the appellate court had it right and Dick can sue for damages.
Colorful Broadcaster and Host Blanquita Cullum Returns to Talk Media with New TV Series, “The Hard Question™.” Veteran talk industry figure, Blanquita Cullum (pictured here at the podium) launched ‘The Hard Question™’, her new signature TV series devoted exclusively to the issue of energy in the 21st century, last night (1/23) before a packed audience of well-wishers and reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The videotaping consisted of two back-to-back lively discussions collectively titled “Setting the Course on Energy” that delved into the future of American energy policy with points of view expressed by panels of diverse experts in the field. The pilot programs were aired on June 24 and July 15 of 2012 on KTRK-TV (ABC) in Houston, Texas and won the top spots in their time periods (visit www.thehardquestion.com to view). The network version will be a weekly debate series on MHz Networks hosted by Cullum. MHz Networks reaches over 42 million households nationwide. “The energy industry is going through a renaissance; it is full of hope,” Doug Cain, CEO of Lake Truck Lines, who served on the first panel: “The President’s Agenda – the Future of Traditional Energy versus Alternatives,” expressed in an interview following the panel discussion. In addition to Cain, the panelists included: W. Herbert Hunt, Petro-Hunt; John Hofmeister, former president of Shell and founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy; Kevin Book, Clear View Energy Partners; Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, ACORE; David Martineau, Chairman TIPR and Bruce Vincent, Swift Energy. The second panel addressed the question: “Climate Change – Science or Hype?” Panelists included Leighton Steward, Plants Need CO2; former NASA scientist Harold Doiron; Scott Sklar, The Stella Group; Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress; Kevin Book, Clean View Energy Partners and David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation. Blanquita Cullum, who was a high-profile, nationally-syndicated, “Heavy Hundred” host in the 1990s and early 2000s, left day-to-day radio to become a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed governor on the United States Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all U.S international broadcasting, where she served for a number of years followed by a series of public policy consulting projects. “No issue touches people across the globe like energy, and ‘The Hard Question’ will never shrink from tackling the real-life obstacles of such a life-changing issue,” she tells TALKERS. “Now, as we embark on a new era with the historic re-election of President Obama, the country will set a course on energy that will have critical implications for this planet for decades to come.” Photo by Jamie Cullum.
Cool Job Opportunity. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s “Newsradio WOOD 1300 & 106.9 FM” is looking for its next great News Director. Applicant must have a minimum of three years of experience in a news/talk environment plus be a digital-first (web, mobile, and social media), community-focused leader in covering and reporting local and regional news, traffic and weather. Candidate will also possess excellent communication, leadership, and organizational skills, as well as the ability to coach and lead individuals within our award-winning news operation. Email cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls please. Clear Channel Radio is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Testimony, North Korea’s U.S. Threats, Deficit Reduction Battle, U.S. Military Opens Combat Roles to Women and Manti Te’o Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/23). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony before Congress on the Benghazi attack; new nuclear threats against the United States by North Korea; the battle in Washington over reduction of the deficit; the opening of combat roles to women in the U.S. military and the Manti Te’o phony girlfriend saga were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey Reports Limbaugh Boycott Cost Company Millions. During Monday’s first quarter conference call with analysts, Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey announced that the advertiser boycott of Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh show – which is carried on 38 Cumulus-owned stations – cost his company “a couple of million” in the first quarter of 2012 and another “couple of million” in the second quarter. Dickey says everything seems pretty much back to normal for June but he blames about 1% of the company’s 3.5% drop in revenue on the Limbaugh boycott. Dickey also addressed the debut of the Mike Huckabee show which airs live in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot and is seen by some observers as a direct competitor to Limbaugh. He says they are very close to having Huckabee on 200 affiliates and he’s viewing the show as a long-term project.
Cumulus Media’s 2012 Q1 Revenue Down 3.5%. The first quarter of 2012 saw Cumulus Media report net revenues down 3.5% on earnings of $245.3 million – down from $254.2 million for the same period a year ago. Free cash flow was up almost 95% to $37 million, up from $19 million for the first quarter of 2011 and EBITDA was up 12.2% to $76.8 million. CEO Lew Dickey states, “The first quarter of 2012 was marked by significant progress in our integration of Citadel as we build Cumulus into a robust platform company that strategically monetizes content, distribution and technology. Complementing this progress was the continued deleveraging of our balance sheet, as well as strategic portfolio management that will enable us tremendous financial flexibility going forward.”
FCC Up to Full Complement. Six months after they were nominated, Republican Ajit Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to seats on the Federal Communications Commission. Senator Charles Grassley had been keeping the confirmation from taking place due to his concern over the commission’s handling of the LightSquared case. Grassley has been investigating the FCC’s dealings with the troubled satellite venture suspecting that LightSquared has been given special treatment by the commission.
Pat Miller Cuts Back Duties at WOWO, Fort Wayne; Gregg Henson to PM Drive. Afternoon drive talk show host Pat Miller is leaving his role at the legendary Federated Media station to focus on his own local business. Director of programming operations Gregg Henson takes over the PM drive host duties effective immediately. Miller will remain with the station in several capacities. He’ll host a weekly Saturday afternoon program and he’ll make regular appearances as the station’s expert political analyst. Henson says of Miller, “Pat is a great asset to WOWO and we look forward to redeploying him in other areas to take advantage of his strengths. He is a tremendous resource. Pat’s loyalty and love for Fort Wayne are indisputable and we look forward to his continued relationship with WOWO.” Henson assumed the programming duties at WOWO and sister station WKJG a year ago. He says he’s excited about taking over the PM drive show. “WOWO has a special relationship with this community and I look forward to being a part of it.”
Talk Radio Hosts Converge on Washington, DC for “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” Radio Row. More than 60 talk radio hosts are in Washington, DC today and tomorrow for a radio row sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The event is being led by Radio America syndicated talk show host Roger Hedgecock who organized the first radio row dedicated to this issue in 2007 to protest the Senate Amnesty Bill. Talk show hosts taking part have the opportunity to interview numerous legislators and experts on illegal immigration and related topics over the course of the two days. FAIR communications director Bob Dane tells TALKERS, “Once again, talk hosts from across the country are gathering to focus on immigration reform and this election year is the most critical of all. The Obama administration continues to dismantle interior enforcement at a frightening pace and is using unconstitutional backdoor methods to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. With November looming, May is the ideal time to set clear expectations for candidates of all stripes. Responsive politicians respect and listen to the electronic town hall of talk radio and ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ is a yearly bellwether of public sentiment on the immigration issue.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Peter Sessa has been the vice president of marketing and communications at Westwood One for the past five years. He stayed with the operation after it was merged with Dial Global but now exits and is seeking his next opportunity…..Tribune’s WGN, Chicago eliminates a news position as midday anchor Jim Gudas is let go for financial reasons…..Phil Cioppa joins the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Business TalkRadio Network where his show which “tackles global and national events and translates them into how they affect the average American’s pocketbook” now airs on some 140 affiliates…..SiriusXM announces it is launching an expanded suite of 30 play-by-play channels dedicated to streaming the official radio broadcasts of every MLB team on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at SiriusXM.com…..WTOP-FM, Washington offers prizes to listeners in the area with the worst commute. Dubbed “Commuter Idle,” listeners must submit stories of their commute online and the winner receives $1,000 in gas money and a limo ride. Runners-up get $150 gas cards…..Merlin Media’s WEMP-FM, New York lets managing editor Doug O’Brien go. The Former WINS, New York staffer has been with FM News 101.9 since its inception last summer…..Yahoo! Sports Radio pairs up Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel with college sports writer Pat Forde for a weekly Thursday evening sports talk show on the network…..Bonneville’s KSL, Salt Lake City (the AM side) celebrates its 90th anniversary serving the market…..Sports USA announces its 18-game college football schedule for this fall that kicks off with Michigan State hosting Boise State and wrapping up with the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Putin Returns, Anti-Austerity Backlash in Europe, 2012 Presidential Race, New American Obesity Stats, Student Loan Rate Debate, and Terror Plot Foiled Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The return of Vladimir Putin to power in Russia; voters in Europe show anti-austerity backlash; the 2012 presidential race; the latest statistics on obesity in America; Congress to take on student loan rate debate; and a plot to destroy a U.S. airliner is foiled were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Generations. Television stars Robert Conrad (l) and Jorge Garcia (r) pose for a photo at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles at the grand opening of an exhibit titled, “50 Years of Warner Brothers.” Conrad, who hosts a weekly talk radio program on CRN Digital Talk Radio, was the star of “The Wild, Wild West.” Garcia starred in “Lost” and currently is featured in “Alcatraz.”
Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman Addresses Limbaugh Case in AP Interview. In a far-reaching interview with the Associated Press given at the American Association of Advertising Agencies conference in Los Angeles, Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman answered questions about the controversy over the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke incident and the war being waged against Limbaugh and Premiere Networks by Media Matters for America. Pittman – who hadn’t commented on the case since it exploded a month ago – told the AP Limbaugh is the “king” of radio and he’s sticking by him and he called the controversy “part of the normal day-to-day of talk radio.” Pittman also said the resulting campaign by Media Matters and boycotts on sponsors has not had a major impact on the company nor has there been a move by stations to drop the show. When asked about Cumulus Media Networks’ strategy of using the Limbaugh case to promote soon-to-be-syndicated talk host Mike Huckabee, Pittman stated, “It basically says Rush is the king. Rush is certainly the leader, and we’re delighted to have him.”
Courtside Entertainment Lands Dr. Drew in Major Markets. Courtside Entertainment Group announces the “One Minute Clinic with Dr. Drew” is picked up in Los Angeles by KFWB; KPTK, Seattle; KEXX, Phoenix; and KDWN, Las Vegas. The feature is already heard in Chicago and New York on Merlin Media’s two all-news FMs. Courtside president Bob Moore states, “‘Minute Clinic’ provides listeners with important information on medicine, relationships, and coping with the problems of everyday life. It’s interesting, informative and entertaining from one of media’s most trusted and reliable experts – Dr. Drew Pinsky. It’s exactly the kind of specialized programming that we are focusing on at Courtside.” The feature is repped by Compass Media for ad sales and support.
Election Year Making FAIR’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” Radio Row a Hot Event. The annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row sponsored by Federation for American Immigration Reform and taking place in Washington, DC on May 8 and 9 is packed with talk radio hosts and stations taking part but election year interest is prompting FAIR to expand the event and allow even more broadcasters to take part. Event manager Bob Dane says, “The fact that this annual radio row has a history of providing access to A-list guests and includes all equipment, ISDN lines, engineering support and long distance at no charge is really increasing demand to participate.” For those who think the event is for conservatives only, Dial Global talk host Thom Hartmann explains why he’s attended in the past. “I’ve attended because a core part of my show is bringing on people with whom I disagree so we can let listeners and viewers see/hear the issues in sharp relief and make up their own minds. That said, I also – having lived and worked on several continents, and having had to go through arduous processes to get work permits in Germany and Australia – know how important it is to have a work force that matches the demand for labor, and the best ways to insure that are through rational/sane immigration and trade policies. We have neither right now.” WCBM, Baltimore talk host Tom Marr says, “After taking my show to the border twice, ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ is a chance for invaluable access to the folks on the front line of the problem that I did not see, while at the same time being with those in Washington, DC who make the policy to secure the border and if one desires to get another side. Capitol Hill is a short walk across the street. It also gives one the ability in free time to visit the Hill and talk with Members about other problems faced by our nation every day. Would not miss it for the world. Hands down the best organized event for people in the talk business if its kind.” For stations whose P1s care very much about immigration issues, it’s a can’t miss, according to KARN-AM/FM, Little Rock talk host Dave Elswick, “I go every year to ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ because illegal immigration is a hot topic to my listeners but most importantly the issue impacts other important issues. Welfare reform, importance of protecting each man’s vote, and health care reform to name a few. Two strong days of experts dealing with all those issues can’t be missed.” WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale talk host Joyce Kaufman says she’s used the event to connect with her audience and the Congress members serving her listener area. “I get invited to a lot of ‘radio row’ events each year. The only event that I participate in year after year is FAIR’s ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ rally. From the first year when I dumped 5,000 ‘soles’ (shoes with listeners’ messages written on the sole) to subsequent years, my audience supports my effort and some even come along and lobby Congress.” For information about the event, contact Bob Dane at 202-328-7004.
KKOB, Albuquerque Charges Local Pol with Slandering Station. There are no legal charges being filed but Cumulus Media’s KKOB, Albuquerque feels it’s the victim of a slur by City Councilman Ray Garduno. Program director Pat Frisch reports that during a council meeting debate over a controversial road project of which KKOB morning host Bob Clark has encouraged listeners to call Garduno’s office about, Garduno referred to the station as K-K-KOB – a reference to the Ku Klux Klan. In the audio, Garduno quickly corrects himself but Frisch says this isn’t the first time the station has been referred to as K-K-KOB by a local Democratic politician. Frisch says State Senator Eric Griego did the same last year. As for Garduno, Frisch states, “His racist remark is an attack on our listeners and to find a true racist, Garduno only needs to look in the mirror.”
JetBlue Pilot Incident Sparks Buzz on Talk Radio. As talk radio hosts will tell you, one never knows when the next big story will come out of the “blue” and that is exactly the case this morning as talk show hosts of just about every format – political, lifestyle, pop culture, and medical – are feasting on the multi-dimensional aspects of yesterday’s frightening JetBlue pilot incident. According to PodJockey.com resident psychiatrist Renee Kohanski, MD, “It is not like the experience of going to the airport and flying in today’s environment alone doesn’t foster an atmosphere of stress, yesterday afternoon’s unfortunate outburst by a pilot on the heels of a similar situation two weeks ago involving a flight attendant only serves to increase the level of passenger anxiety building across the nation. From a medical and psychiatric perspective, this case is rife with questions and all sorts of speculation. People want to know why things like this happen but the answers are not always immediately apparent!” Dr. Kohanski is available today for phone interviews to discuss the story from a medical perspective citing the many questions and possible causes of yesterday’s shocking and disturbing story. She can be reached at 860-334-4576.
Cumulus Media Providence Launches “Putting Rhode Island Back to Work” Campaign. The cluster of Cumulus Media stations in Providence – including news/talk 630 WPRO & 99.7 – is beginning an on-air campaign titled “Putting Rhode Island Back to Work.” With the support of sponsor Twin River Casino, the cluster is reaching out to and airing stories about Rhode Island businesses that have recently hired. General manager Barbara Haynes says, “News Talk 630 WPRO & 99.7 FM, 92 PRO-FM, HOT106, Lite Rock 105 and 790 Business reach hundreds of thousands of listeners every day – we are excited to be able to highlight some of the companies helping refuel our local economy in front of our massive audience.” The vignettes will also appear on the cluster’s digital properties.
Dial Global Partners with Yamanair Creative Worldwide. Dial Global subsidiary TM Creative enters into a partnership with Yamanair Creative’s Cash by Creative production and creative service. In a statement, DG notes TM Creative will serve as a creative arm to Cash by Creative, providing copywriting, commercial production and retail jingles. This will further enhance Cash by Creative’s ability to offer world-class creative and production to its growing list of clients. TM Creatvie VP/GM Chris Long says, “We are excited about this kind of creative partnership, as TM continues to expand its reach with both radio stations and advertisers.”
Entercom Portland Names Tim McNamara VP/Market Manager. Tim McNamara is no stranger to the Portland, Oregon radio market. He previously managed at Paul Allen’s Rose City Radio there and now he returns with Entercom to serve as VP/Market Manager for the company’s seven-station group that includes sports talk KFXX.
Supreme Court ObamaCare Hearing, Trayvon Martin Case, GOP Primary/2012 Presidential Race, Jet Blue Pilot Incident and Gas Prices Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/27). The Supreme Court arguments over the validity of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act; ongoing scrutiny of the Trayvon Martin shooting; the Republican primary race and the larger 2012 presidential campaign; the case of the Jet Blue pilot; and soaring gas prices were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
“Hold Their Feet to the Fire” Immigration Radio Row Set for May 8 and 9 in Washington. What has become a major annual talk radio event is again shaping up to be an important focal point for the issue of America’s immigration policy. Federation for American Immigration Reform announces the “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row, led by nationally syndicated talk host Roger Hedgecock, will take place May 8 and 9 in Washington, DC. This annual event began in 2007 when hosts converged on Capitol Hill and helped defeat the Senate Amnesty Bill. This year FAIR expects more than 60 talk hosts to take part in the broadcasts. FAIR communications director Bob Dane states, “Once again, talk hosts from across the country are gathering to focus on immigration reform and this election year is the most critical of all. The Obama administration continues to dismantle interior enforcement at a frightening pace and is using unconstitutional backdoor methods to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. With November looming, May is the ideal time to set clear expectations for candidates of all stripes. Responsive politicians respect and listen to the electronic town hall of talk radio and ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ is a yearly bellwether of public sentiment on the immigration issue.” For talk hosts interested in attending, there is no cost to broadcast – all technical engineering, ISDN lines and long distance is included. Congressional guests, activists, high-profile media personalities and immigration experts will be in attendance and available throughout the event for wall-to-wall interviews. Contact event managers Bob Dane or Kristen Williamson at 202-328-7004 for further information and to reserve a broadcast slot.
Beasley Broadcasting Develops Male-Targeted Southwest Florida FM Talk Station. Referencing the success it had in the past when Howard Stern was still on terrestrial radio in AM drive, Beasley Broadcasting’s Southwest Florida cluster alters the programming of two of its FM signals in the Ft. Myers/Naples market turning classic rock WRXK-FM into “96 K-Rock Talk That Rocks.” The station features Bubba the Love Sponge in AM drive followed by local hosts Zito and Garrett in the midday and Stan and Haney from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Evenings and overnights include the syndicated Lex and Terry, Premiere’s Nick and Artie and Fisher Entertainment’s John and Jeff. Vice president and market manager Brad Beasley states, “In the early 1990s when Joe, Stan and Mark Haney did mornings, we saw that listeners responded positively. In the late 1990s through 2004, Howard Stern did mornings and created a huge following. Over time we have found that Southwest Florida listeners really enjoy entertaining talk, so beginning Monday that’s what 96 K-Rock will provide.” Beasley morphs alternative WJBX-FM into a blend of new and heritage rock as “99X – Southwest Florida’s Rock Station.”
WKZO-AM/FM, Adds Local PM Drive News Block; WSJ’s Daily Wrap. Mid-West Communications’ news/talk WKZO-AM/FM, Kalamazoo, Michigan adds a local news hour called “Kalamazoo’s Afternoon News” from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm followed by the Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s Daily Wrap with Michael Castner from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Program director Jay Morris tells the Kalamazoo Gazette the station elected to change the programming and drop Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck due to ratings in the time slot that he said had been dropping over the course of the past year and a half.
Genesis Communications Network Announces Addition of Baldwin-McCullough Show and Dani Johnson Show. Two weekend talk shows join the lineup at Genesis Communications Network. The first is the Baldwin-McCullough show co-hosted by actor Stephen Baldwin and talk media personality Kevin McCullough. The show was founded in 2008 and now gets a new distribution channel via GCN for its live Saturday 9:00 pm ET broadcasts. The network also announces the debuts of the Dani Johnson show airing Sundays at 9:00 pm ET. Johnson is a success coach who’s authored several best-selling books and has co-founded charities to assist those in need.
Lou Dobbs Financial Feature Debuts with Salem Radio Network. When Lou Dobbs decided to end his long-form radio show with United Stations Radio Networks to focus on his Fox Business Network duties, sources close to the matter said it was likely Dobbs would develop a daily feature to remain on radio. Now, that’s come to fruition as Salem Radio Network will distribute the three-times-daily “Lou Dobbs Financial Report” – delivered before the opening bell on Wall Street, during the midday and after the closing bell – beginning February 20. Dobbs States, “There has never been in American history when up-to-the-minute business reports are more important to men and women from coast to coast. I’m really looking forward to my new partnership with SRN and the opportunity it provides to reach an entirely new audience on a daily basis.”
Israel-Iran Tensions, Whitney Houston Death/Grammy’s, President Obama’s 2013 Budget and the 2012 Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/13). The escalating tensions between Iran and Israel in the wake of attacks on Israeli diplomats and Iran’s purported nuclear weapons program; the death of singer Whitney Houston and Sunday’s Grammy’s broadcast; President Obama’s 2013 budget and the 2012 presidential race were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.