Tag: "Grace Blazer"
By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
Continuing today (11/4), TALKERS presents a multi-part feature story about the status of female talk show hosts in the radio business that will run throughout this week.
Part 3: What does it take to make it?
NEW YORK – It was established in the first two installments of this article about the state of women on talk radio – particularly “news/talk” radio – that although there are many successful female practitioners of the art heard around the country, male hosts continue to outnumber females by a startling ratio of approximately seven-to-one. The question is why?
Another question: what are those women who are making it on talk radio doing right?
“Just as Megan Kelly broke through in a mostly man’s world as host of her own prime time show on Fox News Channel, so can female radio hosts. They just have to get the right opportunity to prove themselves,” says Salem Media Group SVP/spoken word format, Phil Boyce.
One of those women is Mandy Connell, heard daily mornings on Denver’s KHOW-AM (630) and evenings back on what was her former station, WHAS, Louisville. The iHeart Media station’s morning drive host, is one of those that has clearly proven herself. For two decades, she has been on the air at several stations including heritage talker WHAS where she became established as a popular local conservative host who attracted a loyal following of both male and female listeners.
Connell says she has personally run into those who believe that women cannot succeed in talk.
Grace Blazer Lands at Clear Channel Miami. Former WTKK, Boston program director Grace Blazer is the new PD at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk WIOD and sports WINZ, Miami. She exited the Greater Media talk station when it flipped to rhythmic AC at the end of 2012. Prior to WTKK, Blazer programmed WPHT, Philadelphia. In a statement, Blazer says, “The depth of Clear Channel’s resources is phenomenal. Working for our industry’s leading media company and programming WIOD and WINZ is a superb opportunity. I’m excited to partner with Alex Tear, Lonny Anger and the talented staffs of ‘News Radio 610/100.3FM’ and 940’s ‘Sports Animal’ to grow these stations.” The programming position at WIOD and WINZ opened up when Ken Charles moved up to the VP of programming position at Clear Channel’s Sacramento cluster.
Hermain Cain Joins Fox News Channel as Contributor. Nationally syndicated talk show host Herman Cain becomes part of the Fox News Channel stable of contributors. Cain, who took over the late morning slot long held by talk radio pioneer Neal Boortz at Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta and his national syndication distributed by Dial Global, will make regular appearances on FNC where EVP of programming Bill Shine says in a statement, “Cain’s impressive resume makes him a valuable addition to the Fox News and Fox Business lineup. As a political expert with business savvy, he brings an important voice to the nation’s debates.” In addition to his recent run for president, Cain also was CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza chain and held the CEO position at the National Restaurant Association.
NY Post Reports CBS Radio New York Weighing WFAN-AM/FM Options. The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick writes that the brass at CBS Radio in New York City is weighing its programming options for the sports talk tandem of WFAN-AM and FM as the company must be eager to get the fledgling CBS Sports Radio Network programming on in the largest market in the country. Currently, the full schedule of WFAN programming is heard on both signals but the need to get the new national network some Big Apple exposure is pressing. A statement from the company to the Post goes, “We have a number of great options and are closely examining each one.” At issue is the fact that WFAN-AM’s 660 signal is huge and the 101.9 FM signal is decent but nowhere near as far-reaching as 660 AM. Will the local sports talk remain on 660 AM and the national network appear on 101.9 FM? Will it be the other way around or a mixture of the two? As Mushnick hints, you can bet some of the WFAN stalwarts – including PM driver Mike Francesa and AM drive duo Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton – would like to stay on the huge 660 AM signal. CBS Radio is expected to make a decision within the next few months.
Dial Global to Cease SEC Reporting. The company cites, among other things, “the relatively limited historical volume of trading in the Company’s common stock and the applicable federal securities laws” as one of the reasons it will suspend its reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Dial Global’s board of directors determined that such action would be in the best interests of the company. It says, “In reaching this conclusion, the Company’s Board of Directors considered numerous factors including the compliance costs associated with filing periodic reports with the SEC and the diversion of management attention from other matters that result from being a reporting company.” Dial Global left the NASDAQ and its stock is traded on OTC Pink. It states, “There can be no assurance, however, that a trading market in the Company’s common stock through the over-the-counter market or any other market will be maintained.”
David Landau Gets Nice Severance from Dial Global. Technically it’s not a severance but regardless, former co-CEO of Dial Global David Landau will receive $600, 000 per annum for the next two years plus other unspecified benefits after the company decided to re-align its corporate management structure and make Spencer Brown sole CEO and former co-CEO Ken Williams president.
WPRO, Providence Lets Ron St. Pierre Go. In a move that appears to be about saving money, Ron St. Pierre exits his role as PM drive host Buddy Cianci’s sidekick/executive producer. GoLocalProv.com reports that this is the latest in a series of moves at the Cumulus Media station that began with the ouster of Andrew Gobiel from the WPRO morning show and the re-assignment of Tara Granahan from the AM show to other news duties. The station brought WJAR-TV anchor Gene Valicenti in to host the morning program. St. Pierre has served at WPRO as program director – the first time in 1988 – as general manager, and as host of the station’s morning show. Ron can be reached at email@example.com.
Good Writing Is at the Core of Digital Success. Writing for the internet is a very different art form than writing for the radio. Noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller says, “Good writing is at the heart of what we do online, and how we communicate with our fans. Don’t just do it for the art of it; do it because it can help stretch your few thousand Facebook fans into tens of millions of annual impressions. Do it because it will help get your tweets re-tweeted. We’re talking about building your numbers here!” Miller advises TALKERS readers to avoid three common mistakes in writing for the web: 1) over-selling; 2) being boring; and 3) social desperation. Read his entire piece here.
WINTER ADVICE: Be Sure to Install Deicers on your Antenna. It is not too late to do it or to be concerned. The failure to properly install deicers on your antenna to save a few bucks in the short term can not only interfere with the quality of your signal, it can put you off the air entirely, not to mention cause severe costly damage to your components and even create a major fire hazard. TALKERS technical editor and noted engineering consultant Tom Ray says, “While money is tight all over, the last thing you need is your transmitter and/or building to be a smoking hulk. Consult with someone qualified to guide you. Think of it like buying an insurance policy. You may not want to spend the cash, but it could save you a bundle in the long run. Read Tom Ray’s entire article here.
Trump-Maher Suit “Stretches Credulity.” TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that the $5 million suit Donald Trump is filing against Bill Maher has no chance of success, little chance of getting a day in court and could incur sanctions against Trump and his attorney for filing a frivolous lawsuit. In case you missed it, Maher went on “The Tonight Show” in January and – based on the color of Trump’s hair – joked that he would donate $5 million to a charity of Trump’s choice if he would produce his birth certificate to show he is not the son of an orangutan. Read more of Weisman’s account about why this spat is still going on and upon what legal ground the complaint stands (or doesn’t as the case may be). It’s here.
XtreMEDIA Syndicated Host Dani Johnson Profiled in Forbes. The host of the weekly XtreMEDIA-syndicated Dani Johnson program was profiled on Forbes.com on Thursday and, according to XtreMEDIA CEO Kevin McCullough, the story went viral “with 15,700 shares on Facebook in a little more than a day. Heading into the weekend it was still the ‘Most Popular’ and ‘Most Read’ piece on Forbes.com.” McCullough tells TALKERS, “Her story as a broke homeless woman to becoming a multiple millionaire to even now helping others get out of debt, restore relationships, and expand their influence is a story that rocketed her from one affiliate station in January of 2012 to 95 stations and counting in January of 2013. Dani is the most important voice in all of American media – not just talk radio – that most of the nation still hasn’t heard from. Hundreds of thousands of lives changed for the better, only proves the point that she has something that real audiences are looking for… connection!” Read the Forbes story here.
“The Answer” Gets Manhattan Street-Level Presence. Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” has Manhattan street-level presence as the PM drive show featuring Curtis Sliwa and Jeffrey Lichtman are now hosting their show from a studio in the department-store type window setting at the historic Hotel Pennsylvania in Midtown Manhattan. Pictured here are Sliwa (r) and Lichtman (l) hosting a recent edition of their program. Salem Communications vice president director of spoken-word format Phil Boyce states, “This not only gives our hosts a bird’s-eye view of Midtown Manhattan, but allows literally thousands of daily passersby to see ‘Curtis & Jeffrey’ and ‘WNYM AM 970 THE ANSWER’ prominently displayed in the heart of our listening area. This marquee location on 7th Ave and 33rd Street, is located across from the Long Island Railroad, Penn Station, a subway hub, Macy’s and is around the corner from the NJ PATH train. The value of this degree of exposure and publicity for our station and two of our best known hosts is incalculable. It’s also across from the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, which on any given night might host the Knicks, the Rangers or innumerable other sporting and entertainment events.”
Russ Rollins and Dirty Jim Re-Up with WTKS, Orlando; Daniel Dennis Exits. The Monsters in the Morning program at Clear Channel’s hot talk WTKS, Orlando is one talent fewer after co-host Daniel Dennis declines to sign a new three-year contract with the station. Program founder and host Russ Rollins, along with co-host Dirty Jim, both signed new three-year deals to continue broadcasting the AM drive program on the station but Dennis tells the Orlando Sentinel he didn’t want the contract but would rather have continued as an at-will employee. He hosts a weekly internet talk show called, “A Mediocre Time with Tom and Dan” that can be heard at tomanddan.com.
Alan Eisenson Exits Clear Channel Sacramento. Talk radio programmer Alan Eisenson leaves his position as operations manager for Clear Channel’s Sacramento cluster where he served as operations manager for news/talk KFBK-AM/FM and talk KSTE. Eisenson was also in charge of programming at CC’s San Francisco talk outlets KKSF and KNEW.
Odds & Sods. SiriusXM brings iconic film star and polarizing historical figure Jane Fonda to its “Town Hall” series. The actress will be part of the “SiriusXM Town Hall” on Thursday, December 6 at 10:00 am when she’ll sit down with journalist Perri Peltz and speak about her new yoga DVD and take questions from the audience…..On Thursday, November 29, radio pro Turi Ryder will sit in for John Williams on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago on the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program…..ABC TV’s “Good Morning America” is preparing to do something it hasn’t done in 17 years: Win the coveted November sweeps. Broadcasting & Cable reports the show is beating NBC’s “Today” in both total audience and viewers 25-54 as the end of the sweeps approaches.
CNN Has a New Chief: Jeff Zucker. That’s not official but The New York Times and Deadline.com are reporting that Time Warner has agreed to terms with former NBCUniversal CEO and current executive producer of Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show, Jeff Zucker. The official announcement is expected to be made very soon. Zucker would replace Jim Walton at CNN. Walton announced he would leave the cable news channel at the end of the year. CNN has been roundly beaten up in the consumer press for its woes in the prime time ratings race but it should be noted that, ratings aside, CNN continues to be a profitable operation for Time Warner. Still, Zucker’s charge would be to revitalize its prime time ratings that have fallen farther behind Fox News Channel and are regularly challenged by MSNBC.
ESPN Begins Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research; Announces $1 Million Donation to the Cause. Yesterday began sports entertainment broadcaster ESPN’s Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research and the company announced it is committing $1 million to the fundraising effort for the endowment fund. ESPN executive chairman George Bodenheimer made the announcement on Tuesday, November 27 and Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg made it public via their radio and TV program that day. ESPN’s sixth annual Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research – a multiplatform initiative which drives awareness of and donations to The V Foundation for Cancer Research – tipped off yesterday at 7:00 pm ET with a simulcast of former NC State coach Jim Valvano’s 1993 ESPYs speech across ESPN domestic media networks, as well as on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square. The week will conclude with the Jimmy V Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona Extra on Monday, December 3 and Tuesday, December 4. For more information on Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research, visit ESPN Media Zone.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Launches Holiday Giving Campaign. The organization that exists solely to assist broadcasters in need is announcing the start-up of its Holiday Giving Campaign. The Broadcasters Foundation of America – which disbursed more than $675,000 in assistance last year – is urging broadcasters to become members and to spread the word about this campaign. BFoA chairman Phil Lombardo says, “The Broadcasters Foundation exists solely to provide financial relief to broadcasters in need. These are individuals who we have worked with over the years, and whose lives have been devastated by unthinkable circumstances. Aid from the Broadcasters Foundation can be life-saving, in many cases. I urge every broadcaster to consider making a donation or becoming a member.” Over the past 60 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has distributed millions of dollars in aid to hundreds of broadcasters who lost their livelihood through a catastrophic event, debilitating disease, or unforeseen family tragedy. In addition, one-time emergency grants are provided in the aftermath of a devastating circumstance or natural disaster, like the Joplin tornadoes and Hurricane Sandy. Individual membership is only $150 a year and can make a difference in the life of a colleague who has fallen on desperate times. To become a member, make a personal donation to the Guardian Fund, or a corporate contribution to the Angel Initiative, please contact the Broadcasters Foundation at 212-373-8250, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website at www.broadcastersfoundation.org.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, OECD Global Economy Report, Black Friday/Cyber Monday Numbers, Benghazi Attack/Susan Rice-GOP Meeting, and Powerball Jackpot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/27). The battle in Washington over tax hikes and entitlement program changes; the OECD global economy report that predicts slow growth over the next two years; initial numbers from holiday season’s two big shopping days; the spat over U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice’s meeting with GOP leaders; and the $500 million Powerball jackpot in Wednesday’s drawing were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Day One from the Democratic National Convention. WYD Media’s Stephanie Miller (c) is pictured here in an “action” shot that shows the expansive media center in Charlotte from which she is broadcasting her nationally syndicated morning drive program. In this photo, she’s joined by Fox News Radio personality Alan Colmes (l) and Stephanie Miller show regular Jim Ward (r). There are more than 100 talk show hosts joining the news organizations covering the DNC in Charlotte that wraps up Thursday with President Obama’s evening speech accepting his party’s nomination for the ticket.
Greater Media’s WTKK, Boston Makes Brand Change and Boost to News Product Official. As TALKERS magazine reported yesterday, Greater Media news/talk outlet WTKK has re-branded itself and is rededicating itself to providing Bostonians with more news and information and program director Grace Blazer makes that official. She says the station “will provide listeners in the Boston Metropolitan area with consistent ‘live and local’ news, traffic, and weather reports around the clock on-air, online and on their mobile devices. Through a partnership with Total Traffic, Greater Media Boston’s News Talk 96.9 FM-WTKK will deliver newscasts at the top and bottom of the hour 24 hours a day and traffic and weather reports every 15 minutes. In addition, WTKK will refer to itself as NEWS TALK 96.9 both on air and online to more accurately reflect its product.” Blazer says, “We are proud to be the only FM radio station with a 24 hour live and local staff of newscasters delivering timely, local and breaking news, accurate traffic reporting, and dependable weather forecasts. The addition of services to our already strong talk lineup makes News Talk 96.9 FM unique within the Boston market and also presents immediate opportunities for our advertisers.” Total News Source VP Chris Berry says of the new relationship, “An amazing amount of news is generated daily in Boston and New England. We are very pleased to be working around the clock with the team at News Talk 96.9 to assist in gathering and delivering news and information.”
Glenn Beck Gets Apology from American Airlines After Rude Service. The Premiere Networks-syndicated radio host told his audience he was treated rudely by a flight attendant on a weekend flight from Newark to Dallas – ostensibly for his political views – and would never fly American again. Beck told his national radio audience the male flight attendant “fawned over” the other passengers but slammed a can of soda down in front of him and “barked” at him, treating him as “subhuman.” The airline tweeted an apology and went further issuing the following statement, “We are sorry for the experience Mr. Beck had on a recent flight. The comfort and satisfaction of our customers are very important priorities to us and we take these matters seriously. We have reached out to Mr. Beck’s office and are actively looking into the situation.”
Matt Fox Exits NextMedia’s WHBC, Canton. The morning show at NextMedia’s WHBC, Canton, Ohio will consist of co-host Pam Cook and Canton Repository sports columnist Todd Porter for now as Matt Fox exits the station to take a position outside the radio business. The Repository reports Fox cited the early morning hours – a 3:45 wakeup call – as one of the reasons he’s choosing to leave the show he’s been co-hosting with Cook since February of 2011. He took over for Fred Chenevey at that time and the program was his first full-time radio gig. He continues to co-host the “Around the House with Matt and Shari” home improvement show that airs on the local PBS TV outlet.
Big Changes at Chicago Public Media; Big Shoes to Fill at WBEZ. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports on the announcement that afternoon talk host Steve Edwards is leaving his “The Afternoon Shift” talk show on CPM’s WBEZ, Chicago to take a new post at the University of Chicago. Edwards has been with Chicago Public Media for 14 years, serving in a number of capacities during that time, including as director of content development and program director. It was just last February that the 41-year-old public media pro returned to the air to host “The Afternoon Shift.” On his new position as deputy director, programming at the University of Chicago’s new Institute of Politics, a public policy and public service institute led by David Axelrod, Edwards tells Feder, “What motivates me is trying to create a deeper understanding of the world around me and trying to share that with people. How do I touch and transform people and communities? How do I uncover insights and share them with others? Journalism has been an amazing place where those values and skill sets intersect. And I think my new role at the Institute of Politics represents another place where they do as well.” Meanwhile, CPM has retained Livingston Associates to help find Edwards’ successor. Read Robert Feder’s full story here.
Clear Channel Takes Aim at CNN with Its ClearVision In-Airport TV Network. Providing what it calls an alternative to CNN’s news-only airport network with a debut at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Clear Channel Outdoor’s Clear Channel Airports division unveils ClearVision. The company says it’ll provide content to travelers from numerous sources, including: “CBS with offerings from CBS News, CBS Entertainment, CBS Daytime, and CBS Interactive, among others; NBC, with shows including The Today Show, Smash, The Voice, Grimm, America’s Got Talent and The Office; daily headlines from around the world from The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Live; and sports from the Tennis Channel with original programming like the travel series Destination Tennis and highlights from major tournaments like the French Open and US Open.” This is a partnership with connectVISION Digital Networks and CCO says it “provides airports, content partners, and advertisers with an unparalleled ability to reach and engage air travelers – through customized content ranging from local news to top network shows and live events. Airports ultimately will be able to leverage WiFi services to provide travelers accustomed to on-demand content access to the ClearVision network on their smartphones, iPads, and laptops.” There’s no word from Clear Channel on what other American airports with which it’s negotiating but the company sounds very dedicated to this market and you can bet there will be more airport deals announced in the near future.
Sports Biz Today Produces Daily Updates. Sports Biz Today is launching a new daily product called “Sports Biz Update” – a two-minute feature in which host Fred Wallin gives listeners the headlines of what is going on in the world of sports business. Fred Wallin is a veteran of sports talk radio, both locally in Southern California and nationally. Wallin has hosted ‘Dodger Talk,” “Angel Talk,” “Kings Talk,” and “Bruins Talk” on various Southern California radio stations. He has hosted programs on KABC, KFI, KLAC, KIEV, KFOX and 1150 AM in Los Angeles. Nationally, Wallin has hosted programs on The Sports Radio Network, The American Sports Radio Network, Prime Sports, The Sports America Radio Network, and the Cable Radio Network, and presently on Sports Overnight America, Fox Sports Radio Las Vegas and KCAA Riverside, California.
Odds & Sods. Clear Channel names Melissa Forrest market manager for the San Diego cluster. Forrest most recently served with CC at the Atlanta cluster where she was president and market manager in charge of the company’s radio stations, the Total Traffic Network and the Georgia News Network…..TRN and WGST, Atlanta talk show host Rusty Humphries is putting his passion for cigars together with his own brand and is working with Cuban-born cigar-making legends to create his own limited-edition El Presidente cigar. Working with Don Lino creator Nestor Miranda and master blender José “Pepin” Garcia – both Floridians now – Humphries made 300 boxes of the cigars. He says, “It’s not made to be an everyday smoke. There’s not that many of ‘em. I only wanted to do a limited amount. I wanted to honor a president each time. When they’re gone, they’re gone. So each cigar is a collector’s item in its own right.” Humphries is pictured here with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who declared the cigar “bueno.”…..Nationally syndicated home improvement radio show “The Money Pit” partners with TuneIn to create a 24/7 home improvement channel on the audio service. “Money Pit” co-host Tom Kraeutler says, “We’ve experienced rapid growth of our program through our existing online assets. But with over 40 million monthly active listeners, TuneIn has the infrastructure and leadership to help us expand that listener base in ways never before possible and we’re thrilled with the opportunity to share our home improvement insights with this new audience.”…..Dr. Michio Kaku – renowned theoretical physicist, best-selling author and host of Talk Radio Network’s “Science Fantastic” – has been selected through a vote of IPC members to keynote the trade group’s biggest electronics industry event next spring in San Diego. “Kaku’s keynote will present a vision of life in the year 2100 culled from ideas of 300 of the country’s most influential scientists. He will explore revolutionary advancements in medicine, energy production, artificial intelligence and aeronautics that will forever change our way of life – including innovations like internet-enabled contact lenses, cars that will drive (or even fly) themselves and brain sensors that will let us move objects using only the power of our minds.”…..Mike Rosso joins Continental Electronics as vice president of sales and marketing, where he’ll be responsible for maintaining and developing Continental’s global market presence. Continental bills itself as a “global leader in broadcast transmitter equipment. It is the foremost supplier of advanced RF transmission technology and the world’s most experienced designer and builder of the highest power radio broadcast equipment.”
Fox Sports Radio Network Launches Daily Big Ten Football Show. The new show, an extension of the weekly Big Ten show, debuted yesterday on affiliates including WDFN, Detroit, KFXN, Minneapolis and WSSP, Milwaukee. Dubbed “BTN Live,” the show airs live daily from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET and is hosted by Big Ten Network personalities Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo, Howard Griffith and others.
WEEI, Boston Announces Patriots and NFL Coverage. The Entercom sports talk brand – heard throughout New England on numerous company-owned stations and affiliates – announces its fall football programming. VP of programming and operations for Entercom Boston Jason Wolfe reports coverage of Patriots football features the return of Patriots Friday and Patriots Monday that includes exclusive interviews with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Its “Gameday” broadcasts on home game days will emanate from Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill at Patriot Place in Foxborough. WEEI has also secured a number of current and former Patriots players as well as NFL experts – including (WFAN, New York and “NFL Today” host) Boomer Esiason who chats with morning hosts Dennis & Callahan each Monday – to join coverage of the team on its shows throughout the week during the football season. Wolfe states, “We’ve made it a priority to provide Patriots fans with the most compelling and comprehensive coverage of the team that we can. With Patriots Monday and Friday and our slew of NFL Insiders, WEEI will be the place to be to keep up with the Pats throughout the season.” Actual game play-by-play rights are owned by WEEI’s crosstown competitor – CBS Radio-owned WBZ-FM, Boston 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Are Hard Times Hitting Television Talk, Too? The New York Post reports on rumors that Comcast’s NBC is taking a serious look at morning television talk’s “Today” for possible budget cuts in the wake of its “ratings woes.” With the story of Jay Leno’s recent voluntary pay cut to help save staffer jobs at “The Tonight Show,” the story questions whether “Today” co-host Matt Lauer will take the same path there to save the positions of lower-level staffers such as makeup artists and writers. In the piece, one person is quoted saying, “It will be the little people who go first — the makeup people, writers, but these people have families, and it will put pressure on Matt to do the right thing.” Lauer reportedly makes $25 million per year. Commenting on the rumors, a rep for “Today” states there will be “absolutely” no staff cuts at the program.
Michael Strahan Officially Named Kelly Ripa’s Co-Host. The former New York Giants football great is officially named the permanent co-host of the “Live!” show, replacing Regis Philbin, who retired from the show late last fall. Kelly Ripa has been hosting the show solo and with a parade of potential co-hosts doing live auditions since then. But, according to People, Ripa made the announcement official that Strahan would be her new co-host.
Presidential Campaign/Democratic National Convention, National Debts Hits $16 Trillion, and Syria Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/4). The presidential campaign and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte; the national debt hitting the $16 trillion mark; and the ongoing violence in Syria were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
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.
WOR Looking to Launch New Evening Show in 2012. Pardon the mixed fruit metaphor, but plum talk show jobs like this don’t come up that often in the Big Apple as WOR tips TALKERS to its plans to fill 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm with a new show at the beginning of the year. According to program director Scott Lakefield, the legendary station is completely open to all ideas as it looks to bring in someone or something new to fill that cool two-hour slice of its evening schedule. Lakefield tells TALKERS that the timing of the move is being designed to coincide with forthcoming changes at the end of the year in the business relationship between Dial Global and Philadelphia-based talker Michael Smerconish whose syndicated program is currently in that slot. Lakefield points out that in keeping with the station’s present direction of focusing on locally-originated talent with a broad-based political/social agenda, the station would most-likely hire a non-syndicated talent such as it offers in morning drive with John Gambling and the recent addition of former New York Governor David Paterson in afternoons. “We are very encouraged by the response we are getting with these shows and feel that the station is filling a real programming void in New York news/talk radio programming.” Meantime, in light of this development, TALKERS checked with Dial Global to ascertain the status of the syndicated Michael Smerconish program learning that the changes ahead will simply pertain to the production and ownership of the successful show and not to its continuation as a syndicated offering in the new year. According to Dial Global vice president Amy Bolton, “It’s moving from a Dial Global-owned product to being a repped product owned by an outside producer. We hope to announce the details shortly. But it is all good. In essence, nothing changes as we would still handle ad sales, affiliate sales and distribution.” Michael Smerconish is a perennial member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred and generally recognized as not only being the leading news/talk talent in Philadelphia but one of the hottest rising stars on the national talk media scene.
Clear Channel to Restructure Management in Medium and Small Markets. Scuttlebutt in the industry that Clear Channel’s regional managers meetings in Atlanta would reveal some sort of management reorganization plan appears to be true and, though concrete details are still few, it appears the company will be employing more regional market managers to oversee its medium and small markets. Sources close to the story indicate that each regional market manager will oversee anywhere between 10 and 15 markets in order to give each manager less to focus on than the current system which has fewer regional vice presidents responsible for many stations. The new setup reportedly also includes a programmer to assist each regional market manager. What this means for local talent and local programmers remains to be seen however, it would not be unusual to see some sort of programming consolidation where management feels it can contain costs without harming the on-air product.
WTKK-FM, Boston Expands Morning Simulcast with Regional Cable News Channel. Greater Media’s WTKK-FM, Boston shaves an hour off the Jim Braude and Margery Eagan-hosted morning drive show and adds another hour of its audio simulcast of New England Cable Network’s “NECN Morning News” program to the schedule. The Braude and Eagan show now begins at 7:00 am. WTKK-FM has been airing NECN’s “First Thing in the Morning” starting at 4:30 am followed by the “NECN Morning News” show from 5:00 am to 6:00 am. Program director Grace Blazer says they added the additional hour due to positive listener response. “Commuting New Englanders now have found a whole new way to start the day. 96.9 FM’s expanding commitment to local and breaking news, traffic, and weather followed by Jim and Margery’s perspective, live audience interaction, and real time attention to topical issues creates a listening experience not available anywhere else. This seamless integration of content created by NECN and 96.9 FM represents the next generation of news and information delivered over multiple platforms for the benefit of listeners in a ‘right now’ world. Greater Media Boston is proud to be a part of this innovation that will benefit its advertisers, listeners and the communities we serve.”
Monticello Media Helps Bring Concert to Region for Earthquake Benefit. WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia PD and morning drive host Joe Thomas tells TALKERS his station and sister country outlet WCYK-FM spearheaded a drive that culminated with the town of Louisa, Virginia winning a nationwide competition for a free Alan Jackson concert to benefit families whose homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed in the August 28 earthquake. Thomas says, “It was an overwhelming response. Since FEMA turned Governor McDonnell down, I’m glad Louisa and all of Central Virginia was able to do something to help our own.”
GOP Debate/Cain’s 999 Plan, Iran Assassination Plot Allegations, ‘Occupy’ Protests, and Obama’s Jobs Bill Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/12). The GOP candidates debate and Herman Cain’s ‘999 plan,’ the allegations of an Iran-sponsored assassination plot, the ‘Occupy’ protests and the status of President Obama’s jobs creation legislation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Dave Ramsey’s Book Tour/Live Events Continue to Draw. Nationally syndicated talk host Dave Ramsey’s continuing bus tour of the country to promote his latest book, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches (Howard Books 2011), drew 750 fans to this book signing in Katy, Texas on October 7 with metro affiliate KSEV, Houston a partner in the event. The next day, Ramsey attracted about 8,000 listeners to his “Total Money Makeover Live” program at Houston’s Reliant Arena in Houston.