WGN, Chicago to Challenge WBBM’s News Dominance. From a story by Robert Channick published in the Chicago Tribune comes word of some of WGN, Chicago’s programming tweaks that are designed to capture more of the news-hungry radio users in the market and, presumably take some ears away from market radio news leader WBBM. Among the additions are the first hour of the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano show becoming “The Business Lunch,” and focusing on Chicago business stories. CBS RADIO’s WBBM airs “The Noon Business Hour” with Sherman Kaplan and Kris Kridel at the same time. Additionally, former WMAQ-TV and WFLD-TV news anchor and reporter Anna Davlantes joins the station to host “The Big Story” – a 90-second news segments that will air during the Steve Cochran morning show and be a jumping-off point for show. The same segment will air in the afternoon with WGN managing editor of radio news Judy Pielach hosting. WGN Radio president Jimmy de Castro also tells the paper the station plans to add staff to the news department in the future.
Smaldone and Gold Named Hosts of ‘America Weekend.’ Radio pros Valerie Smaldone and Leslie Gold are named new hosts for the Envision Networks-syndicated weekend talk radio program “America Weekend.” Envision’s show airs on both Saturdays and Sundays and the network says it’s “designed to be a break from the usual brokered programming and political fare of most news/talk stations,” covering “the lighter side of news and lifestyle issues facing today’s on-the-go talk listeners.” Smaldone and Gold join current “America Weekend” talent Mike Bennett, Ed Kalegi, Smith and Sabatino, and Dave Graveline. Envision VP of programming Michael Lichtstein says, “We couldn’t be more excited to have Valerie and Leslie join the team of hosts on ‘America Weekend.’ Each brings a breadth of radio experience to the show and together they set a new bar when it comes to delivering compelling and thought-provoking conversation.” Smaldone adds, “I am delighted to be working with the fabulous Leslie Gold as we host a weekly show together focusing on fascinating personalities and celebrities, trends and curiosities.” Gold says, “‘America Weekend’ presents an opportunity to talk about the stuff that intrigues, amuses and vexes all of us. Hosting the show with my real-life friend Valerie Smaldone makes it an immense pleasure for me. We pledge captivating talk by two veteran broadcasters who are also true friends. It should be much fun.”
Radio to Be on Hand at Advertising Week Conference in NYC Next Week. When Advertising Week kicks off in New York City next week, radio will be a segment of the media industry presenting during the four-day conference. One of the panel highlights will be titled, “Voices of the Original Social Media,” hosted by the RAB and moderated by RAB president and CEO Erica Farber, on Tuesday, September 30 at 11:30 am ET. This session will feature both nationally syndicated air talent and local stars relating their experiences with listeners and brand partners and how that’s being leveraged over the airwaves and on digital platforms. The panel will include: NBC Sports Radio Network’s Amani Toomer, Premiere Networks’ Bobby Bones, WQHT, New York “Hot 97” morning personality Ebro Darden, and WMIB, Miami “103.5 The Beat” midday personality Angie Martinez. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman will take part in a panel titled, “Loss of Serendipity” on Wednesday, October 1 alongside MediaLink chairman and CEO, Michael Kassan and Google SVP global marketing Lorraine Twohill during which they will “explore the flip side of data-tailored content creation and distribution by considering the importance of serendipity.” Entercom president and CEO David Field will moderate a panel titled “Evolution or Revolution Part II” on Thursday, October 2. His panelists will include: Enterprise Group president Jim Doyle, The New York Times EVP of advertising Meredith Kopit Levien, TBWA president and CEO Troy Ruhanen, Centaur Media CEO Andria Vidler, and Shelly Palmer of Shelly Palmer Digital Living. They will talk about “disruption, real-time reinvention, retaining and growing share, and balancing today with tomorrow.”
Limbaugh Goes on the Offensive. Brandishing a new tactic to fight the StopRush campaign being waged against his Premiere Networks-syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh and official show spokesman Brian Glicklich issued a press release yesterday (9/23) with the purpose of “outing” the forces behind what Limbaugh calls a “conspiracy.” TALKERS readers are well aware of the campaign – led by Media Matters for America – to hit Limbaugh (and others) where it hurts most: in their advertising revenue. That organizations aligned with Media Matters are conducting digital campaigns to harass advertisers on Limbaugh’s program is not disputed, but yesterday’s release attempts to flesh out the tactics and the people involved in the campaign. The release says, in part, “The StopRush group claims to be made up of ordinary consumers unhappy with Rush Limbaugh’s comments. The group claims to be ‘grassroots,’ just concerned consumers who won’t shop at businesses that advertise with Rush Limbaugh. In truth, however, there are no potential customers here, just a small number of hardcore political activists founded by Angelo Carusone, EVP of Media Matters for America. It’s remarkably tiny. Only 10 Twitter users account for almost 70% of all StopRush tweets to advertisers, amplified by illicit software. In addition, almost every communication from a StopRush activist originates from outside the state of the advertiser. Thus, these activists are not and never would have been customers… their only role is to harass small businesses in an attempt to interfere with their operations, as long as they are advertising with Rush. ‘A small number of politically motivated out-of-state activists are distributing target lists indiscriminately, and annoying small businesses until they give up the advertising deals that help them grow, or risk being unable to conduct business at all. It’s not even activism… it’s blackmail,’ according to Brian Glicklich. Meanwhile, Carusone issues the following statement in response to Limbaugh’s press release, which you can read in its entirety here. “Rush Limbaugh’s show has reportedly lost millions of dollars in revenue for radio companies, thousands of advertisers big and small refuse to run ads on the program and radio stations are dropping the show. After initially insisting there were no troubles with advertisers, two years later Limbaugh’s crisis team comes out with a report attributing this massive exodus to just 10 people? The numbers just don’t add up. This is a grassroots effort that grows every day. Instead of attacking people on the internet, Limbaugh’s team would better fill their role by advising their client not to excuse rape in some situations (as he did just last week). Rush Limbaugh is bad for business — and the only thing Limbaugh has to blame for that is his own repeated conduct.” In addition to the press statement, Limbaugh published on his website the names of nine people he says are leaders in the campaign, complete with Twitter IDs and, in some cases, emails.
Margery Punnett to Leave ‘myTalk 107.1’ in Minneapolis. Announcing via the Hubbard Radio female-targeted talk outlet’s website, Margery Punnett (left) says she’ll leave her midday talk show position at KTMY, Minneapolis “myTalk 107.1” in November to join her husband (and former KTMY co-host) Ian Punnett in Phoenix. Margery Punnett – who currently co-hosts the midday show with Elizabeth Ries (right) – says she’ll move to Phoenix to join Ian who’s there studying at the graduate level at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Ketelaar Exits WOC-AM, Quad Cities. According to a story in the Quad Cities Times, WOC-AM Quad Cities morning drive host Steve Ketelaar has left the station. It’s not clear if Ketelaar was let go or if he left of his own accord. In the story, Jim O’Hara, operations manager for the iHeartMedia Quad Cities cluster, tells the paper, “He is going to pursue his voice-work career full time, which is…pretty successful already. He’s looking forward to doing it 100% of the time.” Ketelaar co-hosted the morning show with Dan Deibert who remains co-host of the morning show on WOC-AM. He’s being joined by the company’s Dan Kennedy as co-host.
Hearst Baltimore’s Cecil to Exit. Director of sales Bob Cecil has shared his decision to leave Hearst Baltimore’s two-station combo. President and general manager Cary Pahigian comments that Cecil has “contributed immeasurably” to the Baltimore tandem “for several decades,” but “after careful consideration” he will “step away and enjoy time with his family. We thank Bob for his extraordinary efforts and wish him only the best.” In a staff memo, Cecil writes, “It has been a great privilege teaming with the Ravens, Orioles, Naval Academy, and so many other terrific business partners throughout my career. I am appreciative of the support of Cary Pahigian and look forward to his – and your – great success in the years ahead.” Hearst Baltimore consists of WIYY “98 Rock” and talker WBAL. Cecil joined the stations 14 years ago; his last day there will be one week from Friday (10/3).
Salierno Named Interim GM of Star Radio Group. Longtime radio sales executive Ralph Salierno is promoted to interim general manager of the Star Radio Group based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. For the past two years, Salierno has served as director of sales for the station group. He’s also worked in the industry in Orlando, Virginia Beach, Oklahoma City and Memphis. Star Radio Group is part of The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company which was purchased at a bankruptcy auction in May of this year by Sandton Capital Partners for $30.2 million. The radio stations are: country WFLS, hip hop WVBX, classic rock WWUZ, and news/talk WNTX-AM and translator W243BS at 96.5 FM. Free Lance-Star and Star Radio Group publisher and CEO Gene Carr states, “Ralph has been a key member of the Star Radio group and has earned this internal promotion. In his new duties as interim GM, he will continue to serve as the director of sales as well. Ralph has done a great job in driving revenue growth.” At the same time, the station announces Jeff Beck is promoted to program director for WFLS and WWUZ. He’ll also have a supervisory role over WVBX and WNTX. Carr adds, “Jeff brings years of service and industry knowledge to the team. This new management team will help to position the company for further growth.”
SOCO Radio Adds LMA of Pueblo Stations. Announcing the local management agreement between his SOCO Radio and United States CPP LLC, SOCO principal Mike Knar takes control of news/talk KWRP, Pueblo, translators K230BB, Fowler, Colorado (93.9), K262BB, Boone, Colorado (100.3) and oldies KFVR-FM, Beulah, Colorado. Knar states, “These are assets I’ve coveted since I left Cumulus in 2011. We plan on driving a very hard local message in Southern Colorado. SOCO also controls AC KFEZ, Walsenburg, Colorado and hip hop KJQY, Colorado City. Knar announces his firm is seeking talent for his stations, especially broadcasters who can work on air and sell. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kissing the Cup! It’s almost hockey season and CRN Digital Talk Radio CEO Mike Horn (left) and VP of affiliate sales and marketing Jennifer Horn (right) are getting into the spirit as they kiss the Stanley Cup, currently being held by the 2014 champion Los Angeles Kings. The Horns had the opportunity to check out the NHL championship trophy at Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller’s Stanley Cup celebration.
U.S. ISIS Policy/Syria Strikes, NFL Domestic Violence Cases/ESPN Suspends Bill Simmons, Emma Watson UN Speech/Nude Pix Threat, UN Climate Change Conference, Hillary Clinton Presidential Prospects, Mid-Term Elections, Iran Nukes Negotiations, and Hannah Graham Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/24). The Obama Administration’s ISIS policy and the recent air strikes in Syria; the ongoing discussion about the various domestic violence cases involving NFL players and ESPN’s decision to suspend Bill Simmons for his rant against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell; actress Emma Watson’s speech before the UN about feminism and women’s rights and the subsequent threat by hacktivists to reveal nude pictures of her; the UN Climate Change conference and President Obama’s speech; the prospects for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run; the looming mid-term elections and speculation about majority changes in Congress; the negotiations with Iran over fighting ISIS and the country’s nuclear program; the case of missing Virginia college Hannah Graham were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Hearst Baltimore Hires Pahigian as President/GM. Former Saga Communications Portland, Maine president and general manager Cary Pahigian will succeed Ed Kiernan in the same capacity at Hearst Baltimore talker WBAL and WIYY “98 Rock.” Kiernan recently announced his retirement. According to Hearst president Jordan Wertlieb, “Having worked for some of the nation’s most honored radio stations, including most recently overseeing stations of various formats, Cary brings a wealth of experience. He is a passionate advocate for local broadcasting and understands the importance of community service and how it is the fabric of leading radio stations.” Prior to his tenure at Saga’s Portland properties, Pahigian was station manager at heritage Boston outlet WBZ-AM; operations manager and program director of Philadelphia sports station WIP-AM; vice president of operations at Sconnix Broadcasting; and vice president and general manager of Boch Broadcasting on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Chris Markowski and Jenna Laine to Co-Host New AM Show at Genesis’ Tampa and Orlando Stations. On the news/talk simulcast of WWBA, Tampa and WAMT, Orlando, Genesis Communications debuts the new “Your Wake Up Call” morning drive program co-hosted by Chris Markowski and Jenna Laine with news anchor Robert Pankau and entertainment reporter Kurt Shriner. Markowski is known for his nationally syndicated weekend program “Watchdog on Wall Street.” Laine most recently served as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Insider for Sports Talk Florida. Markowski comments, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be covering all the important news and events in one of the most important areas in the country: Tampa Bay, Orlando and the entire I-4 corridor.” Laine adds, “Whether it’s news or sports, the one constant for me as a journalist has always been ‘people.’ I love telling your stories and I care very much about issues that affect our communities.”
Kitchin Elected to Museum of Broadcast Communications Board. Radio pro and Sound Mind co-president Kraig Kitchin is elected to the board of directors of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Downtown Chicago’s MBC has housed America’s only National Radio Hall of Fame since 1992. MBC founder-president-chief executive officer Bruce DuMont comments that, “Kraig is one of the most talented and respected radio executives in America. He will bring his energy and vision to the museum, and help raise awareness of our mission nationally.” Kitchin remarks that for over 25 years, “The Museum of Broadcast Communications has done a remarkable job of recognizing great accomplishments in both radio and television. I am thrilled to join the MBC board and help chart the future of the museum and the National Radio Hall of Fame. More than ever, it is important to recognize the great work done by broadcasters behind the microphone and in front of the camera.” Sound Mind was launched in 2008 and offers management services to radio, television, and production companies. Kitchin works with radio personalities in both talk and music genres. He previously was the longtime president/chief operating officer of the Premiere Radio Networks. Kitchin is a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee that supervises the induction process; the NRHOF Class of 2014 will be announced later this week.
Radio Industry Mourns Tom Rounds. With considerable recent focus on the plight and deteriorating health of iconic personality Casey Kasem, it is an unfortunate, eerie twist of irony that the man who in 1970 – with Kasem and producer Don Bustany – launched and marketed “American Top 40 with Casey Kasem” passed away on Sunday (6/1). To state that Watermark founder Tom Rounds was a broadcasting innovator is actually an understatement. Many within the industry are still in shock regarding the death of the 77-year-old Rounds (he would have been 78 this coming Friday, 6/6) who expired in Los Angeles, reportedly from complications related to a “minor surgical procedure.” His wife – Barbara Rounds – was with her longtime husband when he passed away. By the 1980s, “American Top 40″ was heard on more than 500 U.S. radio stations. Approximately three years following ABC’s 1982 acquisition of Watermark, Rounds founded and was chief executive officer of entertainment program supplier Radio Express; by the late-1990s, Burbank (California)-based Radio Express was producing most of its own product. It presently handles syndication outside the United States for American radio programs such as “The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40″ and “American Country Countdown.” Radio Express vice president of sales Jessica d’Agostin notes, “We are deeply saddened by T.R.’s passing. We will profoundly miss his humor, his wisdom, and his kindness. He was a great man. He loved his wife, his family, and radio with all his heart. We will continue to move forward at Radio Express in his honor and as a living tribute to the example ‘T.R.’ set for excellence in all things.” Amherst College (Massachusetts) alum Rounds entered radio at the campus station in the late-1950s. Shortly thereafter in a stunt at Hawaii’s KPOI, he would set a record for staying awake on the air for 260 consecutive hours, while doing his show at a department store. By the mid-1960s, he landed in San Francisco to program top 40 KFRC. Among those commenting on Facebook regarding Rounds’ passing is Ed Mann of MannGroup Radio who states, “I’m just sick about it. Tom was my first producer at MannGroup Radio. I had the opportunity to work ideas with him for years after. He was truly one of the great guys in this business. He was my model as a businessman – such a great combination of creative and manager. We had not talked in years, but this hurts plenty. [Mann's wife] Mindy and I send our condolences to Barbara and the family.” Former Radio & Records (R&R) country editor/Clear Channel director of production Jim Duncan recounts, “When I first moved to Los Angeles from San Diego to be part of R&R, I had lunch with Tom and [R&R founder/publisher] Bob Wilson. He tried to get me to come do some production at Watermark. I chose to work at Westwood One producing shows. I saw Tom many times over the years and he kept trying to get me to work with him. Sorry I didn’t – he was somebody very special.” Veteran programmer and imaging voice Charlie Van Dyke writes, “Tom Rounds, of course, was a successful program director and part of the original Watermark organization that gave birth to ‘American Top 40.’ He was a great friend to me over the years.” Another legendary voiceover talent, Joe Cipriano, states, “I was honored to co-host with Adrienne Walker the ‘World Chart Show’ for Tom for several years.” Former KIIS “Kiss-FM”, Los Angeles general manager Wally Clark is among the many to simply remark, “Sorry to hear this news.” Sabo Media‘s Walter Sabo describes Rounds as a “great gentleman,” while Sonoma Media Group president Michael O’Shea opines that Rounds was, “a great guy. Radio, as an industry, suffered today.” Former Radio Et Cetera sales manager and ex-general manager of suburban Los Angeles adult contemporary FM trimulcast KLIT, KNJO, & KXEZ Rick Lemmo remarks that, “Tom was a true gentleman. I loved working with him in so many ways.” Ed Scarborough, who has programmed numerous stations, including Los Angeles CHR KKHR and San Antonio adult contemporary KQXT, succinctly declares that Rounds was, “a legend.” MultiBrand Media International owner/president Bill Pasha reflects that he recently made a new friend. “His name was Tom Rounds. Through business, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the wit and wisdom of the man who founded the largest syndication company in the U.S., Watermark. He was a good friend of my pals – Toby Arnold and Tom Merriman – who passed away before ‘T.R.’ I enjoyed his war stories of the biz we both love. About three weeks ago, I spent almost two hours on the phone laughing, chatting and learning from this wonderful guy who was not too busy to offer me advice on how to grow my business. Good men are never truly gone. They live on in our hearts and in the contributions they made to our industry. Tom Rounds was one of those guys.” Salem Media of Hawaii program director Phil Abbot summarizes his thoughts by declaring, “I am speechless. Thank you ‘T.R.,’ for all the help and the masterful instruction along the way.” When Norm Garr was on the air in Oxnard-Ventura-Santa Barbara (California), his station was an “AT 40″ affiliate. The station’s on-air talents were allowed to buy a copy of the year-end program. “After I left radio and moved into TV,” Garr recollects, “I wrote Tom the next year asking if I could buy a copy of the next year’s year-end show. For the longest time, he sent me a copy at no charge. What a ‘mensch.’” One of Rounds’ former employees, Cindy Jo Hinkleman, remarks, “I am in shock to receive this news about Tom Rounds passing. Working for Radio Express was one of the highlights of my life so far. He believed in me and gave me the most amazing opportunities to shine. He will stay dear to my heart. I will always remember his smile.” Offering philosophical perspective, Mark Brower writes, “I learned a very difficult lesson today on how precious life is. The world lost one of the best. Not only my boss but also a wonderful friend. He was a wonderful teacher of life, a wonderful storyteller and a wonderful person – definitely my mentor. He was very passionate and music was definitely his life. I learned a lot from Tom Rounds – I will never forget you.” His wife Barbara; a daughter Michelle; a son Tommy; a stepdaughter Debbie; and four grandchildren survive Tom Rounds. A memorial service will be held this Sunday (6/8) at 5:00 pm at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills. Memorial donations may be made to City of Hope Cancer Center.
Caine to Bloomberg. Former WestwoodOne CEO Paul Caine joins Bloomberg Media Group to serve as chief revenue officer. Caine was with WestwoodOne for not quite a year before that company’s acquisition by Cumulus Media forced him out. Prior to that, Caine spent 23 years at Time Inc. during which he rose to president and group publisher of the Style & Entertainment Group.
Cox Media’s Multi-Media Convergence in Dayton Analyzed. There are only a few instances in which media operators are producing content and selling advertising for radio, TV, newspapers and digital and Cox Media Group’s Dayton operation is one of them. Michael Depp at NetNewsCheck.com writes a multi-part piece on how WHIO-AM/FM and siblings WHIO-TV, the Dayton Daily News and its affiliated digital properties are performing three years after merging the media into one cohesive effort. From a news and information perspective, the piece begins by illustrating how news staffers produce for all four media. Check it out here.
Odds & Sods. One of Charlotte’s favorite summer traditions returns as Greater Media’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM and sister AC WLNK team with the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball club to “SkyShow Charlotte” – a fireworks spectacular – on July 4 at BB&T Ballpark. The station says WBT’s “SkyShow” continues its tradition of providing a great free street festival including a ferris wheel, interactive kids’ activities and live entertainment…..Hubbard Radio-owned WFED, Washington “Federal News Radio” launches a new weekly program titled, “Women of Washington,” a weekly interview series featuring some of Washington D.C.’s most ambitious and influential female executives. The program is hosted by Aileen Black and Gigi Schumm. WFED program director Lisa Wolfe says, “I’m very excited about this particular program, not only because Aileen and Gigi are so well informed about the federal market, but because they have a higher goal to inspire young women to reach and excel at the executive level.”…..World-renowned pastor Joel Osteen gets his own channel on SiriusXM as the satcaster announces the debut of “Joel Osteen Radio” this fall. The programming will include services from his Lakewood Church in Houston as well as content from his catalogue of past sermons and more…..The Voice of America signs a new agreement with digital call-to-listen platform AudioNow for the latter to provide VOA programming inside the United States. The new agreement expands an on-going relationship between VOA and AudioNow, which already distributes programming from VOA in 34 languages by phone.
Bergdahl Prisoner Swap Controversy, Russian Aggression-U.S. Allies Support, Texas Open Carry Demonstration, Male Unemployment Stats, and NBA-NHL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/2). Controversy over the Guantanamo prisoner swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl; Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Obama administration’s seeking $1 billion for NATO allies; the furor over the Open Carry Texas-orchestrated open carry demonstration and the NRA’s response; new statistics indicating one of every six young American males is unemployed; and the NBA and NHL playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
KOGO, San Diego Debuts New Lineup; Chip Franklin Exits AM Drive. After a six-year run at KOGO, San Diego, Chip Franklin exits the station as the programming lineup is tweaked at the Clear Channel news/talker. Moving into AM drive is former afternoon personality Chris Merrill. He’s followed by Rush Limbaugh. At 12:00 noon, LaDona Harvey – who had been partnered with Franklin in AM drive – is on air solo from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Bob “Sully” Sullivan moves from the early afternoon slot into PM drive. Franklin came to San Diego after a long and successful run at Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore. He tells the San Diego Union Times he has no hard feelings about the change. “I had a great run at KOGO, and they have and continue to treat me in a highly professional manner. Believe it or not, I have been very lucky. I still have a lot of great friends there and I sincerely wish them the very best. The new morning guy, Chris Merrill, is a friend and a tremendous talent. Don’t underestimate him.”
Salem Communications to Move New York Stations into Current WOR Facilities. Salem Communications announces it will move its two New York properties – news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” and Christian talk WMCA – from their current New Jersey location to Lower Manhattan into what is now the studios of Clear Channel’s news/talk WOR in the Trinity Building next to Trinity Church at 111 Broadway where WOR has been located since 2006. Since Clear Channel bought WOR from Buckley Broadcasting more than a year ago, plans have been made for WOR to move into CC’s larger New York studios. Salem VP director of spoken word format and regional VP for New York Phil Boyce says, “Salem has a major commitment to winning in New York and this move will help us take both stations to the next level. We know for years great radio came out of this building when it housed WOR and now we have the opportunity to continue that tradition with both WMCA and ‘AM 970 The Answer.’ As an added plus, WMCA, known as ‘New York’s Christian Talk,’ will be re-locating next door to historic Trinity Church, founded in 1697, as the oldest church in New York City. There is some divine providence going on here, as WMCA, which is licensed to the city of New York now moves next door to the oldest church.” The move is expected to be completed before the end of this year.
CHRIS PENDL: Help Your Best Clients Thrive in Local Searches. Bonneville Seattle creative director Chris Pendl writes that some of radio’s best advertisers can be the most difficult to find when it comes to mobile-based local searches. What’s more, there can be a huge difference between how one of your clients rates on a desktop search and where they rate – if at all – on a mobile search. Pendl notes, “With smartphone ownership now 56% among American adults, searching on smartphones is increasingly becoming a part of the consumer’s journey before making a purchase. A recent local search study revealed, there’s an 87% increase in local searches via mobile apps. It is in this mobile space where some of radio’s best advertisers, local and regional businesses, have poor visibility and are often non-existent.” Pendl offers simple solutions to help your valuable advertisers appear where they should in mobile searches. Read his column here.
KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle Scores Exclusive Interview with ‘Green River Killer.’ This morning, Sinclair Radio’s KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle begins broadcasting an exclusive interview series with serial killer Gary Ridgway, conducted by the station’s Charlie Harger. Titled, “Voice of Evil,” it begins with a special preview at 7:15 am (PT) on ‘KOMO Newsradio.’ Reports will be broadcast at 7:15 am, 12:15 pm and 5:15 pm all this week and mark the culmination of a near year-long investigation. The station says “Harger spoke exclusively with Ridgway on six separate occasions in what are the killer’s only media interviews since his incarceration in 2001. Ridgway was convicted on 49 counts of murder but reveals to KOMO that he committed many more. In his conversation with Harger, Ridgway shares frightening details of his crimes, tells detectives where to look for additional remains and even explains why he did it. Is he sorry? KOMO posed that question to the man serving a life sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla and his answer stunned the veteran reporter.” Harger adds, “I think it’s important that people understand just why we’re giving voice to a guy like this. People deserve answers and the families deserve some kind of closure.” KOMO-AM/FM program director Paul Duckworth adds, “It’s also about justice. There are a number of unsolved cases and we’re hopeful that our investigation will prompt the task force to reopen its investigation.”
KNX, Los Angeles to Present Health Care Town Hall. CBS Radio all-news KNX, Los Angeles “1070 NEWSRADIO” is presenting an “unprecedented town hall event and day-long series of special reports, titled ‘KNX 1070 Healthcare Uncovered,’ on Thursday, October 3 giving Californians a broad range of information about choosing health insurance under the newly enacted Affordable Care Act.” The station reports that more than a dozen guest speakers representing various entities involved with healthcare reform, from federal, state and local officials to health professionals and consumer advocates, will appear at the town hall forum at The Autry in Los Angeles from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm. Guests will include Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, the state’s overseer and marketplace for health insurance coverage beginning in January 2014. Also scheduled to appear are Herb K. Schultz, regional director for the Department of Health and Human Services; Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog; Victor Parker, district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, Janice Rocco, California’s deputy insurance commissioner; Rocky Delgadillo, CEO of the L.A. County Medical Association, and many others including doctors and consumers of different demographics. The event will be hosted and moderated by KNX news anchors Diane Thompson, Bob McCormick and Frank Mottek and investigative reporter Charles Feldman who is co-producing the event with Laraine Herman. Feldman states, “This is the biggest change to our healthcare system since Medicare was rolled out in 1966 and a lot of people are confused. Because this law is so new, we’re bringing together panelists with knowledge covering a wealth of issues so that whether you’re self-employed, a business owner, the head of household or just entering the workforce, we’ll provide answers to questions you’ve never had to think about before.”
Haaga Gets Nod As NPR’s Acting President/CEO. Two-year NPR board member Paul Haaga, Jr. is named acting president/chief executive officer. The appointment takes effect at the end of this month for Haaga, who most recently was vice chair of the board and finance committee chair. He will succeed Gary Knell, who leaves for similar duties at the National Geographic Society. “Paul has made many valuable contributions to NPR during his tenure on the board,” comments NPR board chair Kit Jensen. “His intimate knowledge of our organization, his unwavering commitment to the highest quality of journalism and programming, and his financial acumen make him particularly well-suited to lead NPR as we begin our search for a permanent chief executive.” The retired chair of the board of Capital Research and Management Company, Haaga is the former chair of the Investment Company Institute, and he was a senior attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead one of the world’s leading providers of news, music, and cultural programming on an interim basis,” he remarks. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board and senior leadership team to help this great organization build on its success.” The former National Public Radio renamed itself NPR in July 2010.
Star Over Orlando Retakes Control of WRSO, Orlovista, Florida; Doubles Transmitting Power. Star Over Orlando operators Carl Como Tutera and his son Carmine announce they have taken back WRSO, Orlovista which operates as a sports talk outlet carrying CBS Sports Radio Network programming. The Tuteras also announce that they have received FCC approval to increase the daytime power to 20 kw and the night-time power to 1 kw — double the power of its original license. Earlier in the week, the FCC placed the Carl Como Tutera FM Translator application for Channel 226 in Orlando on a ‘singleton’ list for the operation of an FM on 93.1 with 250 Watts of Power. The pair built the AM station in 2005 and it began operations in early 2006. WRSO operates from a studio location in Altamonte Springs and at a tower site in Orlando. They say CBS Sports will continue to be an affiliate and be heard on both the AM and FM.
Jerry Sharell Stable After Being Held Hostage, Stabbed. The Los Angeles radio and music communities remain stunned this morning following news that broke last night involving former five-year (1987 – 1992) Westwood One senior vice president of talent marketing Jerry Sharell, who was reportedly held hostage and attacked in Woodland Hills (San Fernando Valley – Los Angeles). Sharell was with his girlfriend when her ex-husband was said to have arrived with flowers and a machete at approximately 8:00 am yesterday (Sunday, 9/15). He apparently held the couple hostage for more than three hours. “Sometime during that time, [Sharell] had been stabbed repeatedly,” Los Angeles Police Department sergeant Jeff Nuttal told KABC-TV, Los Angeles. The woman was injured when she tried to halt the attack, but was able to escape and called authorities. Police say that owing to a history of domestic violence, she had a restraining order against her ex-husband. Sharell, who hosts “Sundays with Sinatra” on Los Angeles public outlet KKJZ “KJazz” – is in critical, but stable condition at Northridge Medical Center with injuries to his head and neck. The unidentified attacker turned the weapon on himself; his condition is listed as critical as well but both he and Sharell are expected to survive. The alleged attacker is in police custody at the hospital. Sharell was co-executive producer of Ronnie Milsap‘s 2004 Grammy-nominated “Just for a Thrill” album. He began his career as a Mercury Records promotion rep, before joining Main Line Distributors in 1962. Sharell held executive positions at Buddah Records and A&M Records. He has helped the careers of artists such as Herb Alpert, Jackson Browne, Carpenters, Cars, Joe Cocker, Eagles, Curtis Mayfield, Joni Mitchell, Queen, Linda Ronstadt, and Carly Simon. He is past president of City of Hope, Entertainment Division, and is on the advisory board of MusiCares. From 2002 – 2010, he was president/CEO for the non-profit Society of Singers. Sharell’s wife of 48 years, Joanne, recently died after losing her fight against cancer.
‘Boomer & Carton’ Off MSG Network as Contract Expires. Last week TALKERS reported that the Yankees-owned YES Network is in talks with WFAN, New York’s Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton to do a cable TV simulcast of their AM drive show on the CBS Radio sports talk station. Up until last week, the duo had been seen on the Madison Square Garden Network (MSG), but that deal elapsed on Friday and for now, Boomer & Carton are only available on the radio.
Odds & Sods. Entercom’s WEEI, Boston adds ESPN “Monday Night Football” play-by-play voice Mike Tirico to its stable of football experts. Tirico will call in to the Salk & Holley show every Thursday afternoon at 4:30 throughout the season…..Plain Talk Radio Network’s internet radio show “Talk Live with Peter Gantenbein” – a “weekly news and commentary program that engages in straight talk not for the faint of heart,” has been recognized as must-hear radio with an “Editor’s Pick” recognition from Windows Media Guide…..Good Karma flips WEFL, Tequesta, Florida to Spanish–language sports talk using ESPN Deportes. The company had been simulcasting English-language sports on WEFL and WUUB-FM, Jupiter and the latter remains English-language sports talk…..CRN Digital Talk Radio‘s popular wine dinners return to Los Angeles on Tuesday, September 17. Tobin James of Tobin James Winery in Paso Robles pairs a variety of wines with a prix fixe menu at Colombo’s Italian Steak and Jazz Club at 1833 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock. CRN CEO and president Michael Horn says, “People still talk about our Tobin James wine dinner from a few years ago. Toby brings a world-class selection of wines people enjoy. He’s also a fun, down-to-earth person that everyone relates to. Colombo’s provides a great atmosphere and delicious food that will make the night all that more special.”…..Today ABC Radio re-launches its popular “Dancing with the Stars” station on Slacker, providing fans with behind-the-scenes access to the ABC hit reality TV show. Now in its third season, “Dancing with the Stars” Radio will deliver an on-demand audio experience and unlimited access to key moments throughout the competition. Each week “Dancing with the Stars” Radio will follow the Season 17 cast as they battle it out on the dance floor for the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. Season 17 of “Dancing with the Stars” premieres on tonight on the ABC Television Network.
Newhouse School Presents Audio Industry Summit. The half-day event will take place in New York City on Friday, September 27 and will feature two panels of experts from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon at Syracuse University Lubin House, 11 E 61st St. The event is free and open to the public but seating is limited. RSVP with your name and professional affiliation to Ed Gorham at email@example.com by Wednesday, September 18. Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham states, “Given the seismic shifts in radio and newer audio platforms, much attention is being paid to the medium’s future. It is crucial that we understand where the industry is headed so we can appropriately prepare our students. We want to hear from thought leaders in management, programming and other key areas so we can get a better handle on best practices in radio moving forward.” Industry players attending will include: Jeff Smulyan, founder and CEO of Emmis Communications; Dan Mason, president and CEO of CBS Radio; Buzz Knight, vice president of program development for Greater Media; Chris Oliviero, executive vice president of programming for CBS Radio; Deon Levingston, vice president and general manager at WBLS Radio (New York); Kevin Straley, vice president of programming at TuneIn; and Ed Levine, president and CEO of Galaxy Communications, among others.
November PPMs Generally Good to Talk Radio. You can call it the “election bounce” if you like but some of the news/talk stations that did well in Arbitron’s November 2012 PPMs were ramping up in October and before. Plus, the fall has traditionally been a good ratings period for news/talk whether there’s an election or not. Of course, Hurricane Sandy played a major factor for stations in the New York and Middlesex-Somerset-Union markets. Some of the stations worth noting include CBS Radio’s New York all newsers WCBS and WINS which jumped from a 3.8 to a 5.3 and a 4.0 to a 4.8, respectively. Clear Channel’s Los Angeles talk juggernaut KFI continues to thrive inching up to a 5.3 from a 5.1 the month prior. Cumulus Media’s Chicago news/talker WLS bounced back up to a 4.1 after posting a 3.7 in October. Likewise in Dallas-Fort Worth for Cumulus as WBAP-AM/FM pops up a half share to a 3.9. Clear Channel’s KTRH, Houston rose from a 3.4 in October to a 4.1 in November. In Washington, DC Cumulus’ WMAL-AM/FM jumped from a 3.4 to a 4.2. In Philadelphia, Merlin Media’s WWIQ hopped from 2.7 in October to a 3.6 in November. Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta – which has been maintaining healthy numbers in the PPM for some time – vaults from a 6.8 to an 8.3 this month. Cumulus’ Detroit talker WJR rose more than a full share from a 4.8 to a 5.9. Public radio outlet KUOW, Seattle claimed the top spot in the November PPMs with a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix went up a full share from a 4.9 to a 5.9. Mixed results in Baltimore as Hearst’s WBAL fell from a 5.7 to a 5.0 while WCBM rose from a 3.0 to a 3.8 share. Good news for pubcaster KOPB, Portland which went from a 5.3 to a 6.2 while Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL jumped from a 4.8 to a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s WPGB, Pittsburgh leaped a full share from a 6.9 to a 7.9 share while its Sacramento sister KFBK also enjoyed a significant rise from a 5.6 to a 6.8 share. In the New Jersey market of Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW, Trenton) posted an outstanding 8.6 – up from a 6.2 in October – with help, no doubt, from Hurricane Sandy. TALKERS’ sister publication RadioInfo has all the PPM data including Mike Kinosian’s analysis of the numbers. You can find that here.
Laura Ingraham Back on Radio “Soon.” That’s what the author, pundit and talk show host told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. During one of Laura Ingraham’s regular appearances on Fox News Channel with O’Reilly, he questioned her status in the talk radio world and she told him she will be back on the radio with another syndicator (she left Talk Radio Network at the end of her contract on Tuesday) very soon. “I’m close to signing a new deal. I’m very, very close. But I’ll be back on the air probably in the next several days.” Ingraham told O’Reilly she informed TRN she would be “terminating the deal” months ago and that it was time to move on.
Talk Host Tom Becka to Exit KRWK, Fargo “101.9 Talk FM.” Talk radio pro Tom Becka has been serving as program director and talk show host at KRWK, Fargo since it flipped from rock to talk in March of this year. Becka tells the Fargo Forum he’s returning to Omaha where he’s worked for years and has family. Becka says any notion his departure has anything to do with the performance of the new format is not correct. “The station has grown every month. My experience with Radio Fargo-Moorhead was great and I’m proud of what we accomplished here in a short time. To say I’m leaving because of ratings would be erroneous.” Radio Fargo-Moorhead is selling its cluster of stations to Midwest Family Communications. The FCC has approved the license transfers but according to one source, the actual takeover may not happen until the spring.
Todd Schnitt Show to Leave Flagship WFLA, Tampa. Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt Tweets that his program – airing live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm – will be off longtime flagship WFLA, Tampa after the December 18 program. Schnitt further Tweets that the national syndication continues and is expanding under syndicator Compass. No word what CC has in mind for afternoons at WFLA. Currently, it delay-broadcasts Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm but may have plans to move Hannity to the live PM drive slot.
Jim Isabella Named Evening Host at WNIR, Akron. Journalist Jim Isabella has been doing fill-in work for WNIR for the past two years. He now takes over the evening show formerly hosted by the late Tom Erickson who died on November 3 after a long illness. Isabella most recently worked for the Akron Beacon Journal. Station owners Bob and Bill Klaus note in a press release that Isabella, who was a frequent caller to the show hosted by the late Howie Chizek who passed away suddenly in June, made them more aware of his talents during his fill-in time in addition to receiving positive response from the station’s listeners.
Odds & Sods. Watch for Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean from the network’s “America Now with Andy Dean” on Fox News Channel’s “America’s News HQ” this Sunday at 4:45 pm ET as he sits in a panel discussing the latest headlines in news and politics…..SiriusXM brings the Major League Baseball winter meetings to listeners via its MLB Network Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels. The meetings take place in Nashville December 2 through 6 and the satcaster will have front office experts Jim Bowden, Jim Duquette and Steve Phillips there hosting various programs with other special expert guests including former pitcher Jeff Nelson.
Bubba the Love Sponge Offers Reward for Arrest of Animal Abuser. After hearing about the case of a dog found in the Bradenton, Florida area that had been attacked by someone with an axe, radio star Bubba the Love Sponge put up $1,000 of his own cash on top of the $500 being offered by the Animal Network for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. After hearing about the case, Tampa-area philanthropist Gary Kompothecras of the legal and medical referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY added another $1,000 to the reward to make the total $2,500. Bubba reports to TALKERS that the dog, named Axel, is recovering from his injuries and will be available for adoption once he is healthy again.
Los Angeles Broadcaster David Courtney Dies at 56. The Southern California radio community is mourning the loss of omnipresent “big voice” David Courtney, who passed away on Thursday, November 29. Many considered Courtney the voice of Los Angeles sports, since for the past 23 years, he was the public address announcer of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He performed similar duties for MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 18 years and NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers since October 2008. Greater Los Angeles area radio listeners knew him for his frequent traffic and sports updates as part of the Total Traffic Network. Over the last 20 years, Courtney was heard on a number of major Los Angeles radio outlets including KABC and KSPN, as well as KOLA in the Inland Empire. His other radio background included stints at Houston’s KULF as executive producer of sports programming and that market’s KTRH, where he was weekend news anchor before landing a nightly, three-hour news/talk program. New York City-born Courtney moved to Los Angeles in 1963 when his father, Alan, became president of MGM Television. According to Courtney’s Twitter feed, he needed to miss Wednesday night’s Clippers game against Minnesota owing to the fact he was in the hospital awaiting an angiogram. The 56-year-old Courtney is survived by his wife, Janet Fisher-Courtney.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle Remains Top Talk Radio Topic for Second Straight Week. The struggle between the Obama administration and GOP congressmen to deal with impending tax hikes and spending cuts was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Benghazi investigation tied with the Susan Rice-GOP leaders meetings. Following at #3 was the Israel-Gaza tensions with the clean-up of Hurricane Sandy at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.
Bryan Nehman to Take Over Morning Drive on WBAL, Baltimore. Anne Arundel County, Maryland native Bryan Nehman is named the successor to the morning drive show at Hearst’s news/talk WBAL, Baltimore after Dave Durian – who’s been with the station for 20 years – steps down from his position this fall. Nehman has been half of the “Brian and Bryan” show on Cumulus Media’s WMAL, Washington with Brian Wilson but tells the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik the WBAL job is too good to pass up. “Number one, it’s a great station, and I love the fact that they’re local, local, local. It’s very hard to find that in radio these days. Almost everywhere you go, it’s syndicated in radio. The company is fantastic from everything I heard. And then, there’s the city. I’m a Maryland boy through and through.” WBAL program director Dave Hill tells the paper, “Bryan is one of the brightest young men that I’ve met, and he is the guy who’s going to lead WBAL into the next 20 years of broadcasting.” Durian’s last day hosting the AM drive show is not certain – though mid-October has been suggested. Durian will remain with the station to do special assignments.
Trip Savery Upped to VP/General Manager at Greater Media Charlotte. Director of sales Trip Savery is promoted to the vice president and general manager position at Greater Media’s Charlotte cluster that includes news/talk WBT-AM/FM and personality AC WLNK. Savery joined Greater Media in March of 2010. He’ll continue to perform director of sales duties and will now serve as acting market manager under senior vice president and general manager Rick Feinblatt who says of Savery, “Trip’s outstanding performance as DOS of Greater Media Charlotte has earned him this well-deserved promotion.”
August Sports Scoreboard. Sports talk radio is one of radio’s hottest formats right now. It has the kind of listener engagement that advertisers crave, it brings adult men with disposable income to the table and its content focuses on one of the hottest aspects of American pop culture in the early 21st century – professional sports. Sports as a radio moneymaker is evidenced by the recent launching of not one but two new players in national sports talk content – CBS Sports Radio Network and NBC Sports Radio. TALKERS managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian has taken a look at the ratings of 40 of America’s sports talk outlets and compiled them in this “scoreboard-style” feature. Check out the rankings in Kinosian’s piece here.
Killer Endorsement Spots: Advertisers’ (and your) Best Buds. Consultant Holland Cooke says the best way radio can fight the competition for ad dollars (Google, Pandora, et al) is for personalities – talk hosts and jocks – to use the credibility and relationships they’ve built up to their advantage. Cooke says, “Radio is an intimate medium, with decades of cred’ to the two generations which control most retail spending. So the local DJs and talkers who will survive the ongoing bloodbath do so by being more than just voices. Properly applied, the trust you have earned with listeners can sell-sell-sell, in a way that makes Arbitron numbers irrelevant.” How to do that? Holland has some suggestions. Read his piece here.
Re-Branding Drives Success for Home Improvement Host Danny Lipford. Mobile, Alabama-based home improvement talk show host Danny Lipford says his weekend program is gaining new affiliates since he re-branded his program. Now called “Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford,” the former “Homefront” show is garnering renewed interest, according to Lipford. “SuperTalk Mississippi was the first group to come on board with our name change from ‘Homefront’ to ‘Today’s Homeowner.’ The response to the name change has been tremendous.” Danny Lipford has made over 150 television appearances on shows such as “Rachael Ray,” “Live with Regis & Kelly,” “CNN’s Your Bottom Line,” and “The Early Show on CBS.” He also produced a television program of the same name.
Talk Hosts Play Role in Family Research Council “Values Voter Summit.” This weekend’s Family Research Council “Values Voter Summit” in Washington, DC will feature a number of high-profile talk show hosts. Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett will introduce GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. The congressman once worked for Bennett at the think tank Empower America before he entered public service in the Congress. SRN talk personality Dennis Prager will serve as a keynote speaker with his speech addressing “the need for American values to triumph around the world.” Other talk personalities appearing this weekend will include Premiere Networks star Glenn Beck, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham and Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee.
WGN, Chicago’s John Williams to Attempt New Speed Golf World Record. WGN midday host John Williams and a group of his listeners will attempt to break the world record for the fastest round of golf on Sunday at Carriage Greens Country Club in Darien, Illinois. Dubbed “King John & His Royal Court’s Speed Golf World Record Challenge,” this will be the second attempt at a world record by Williams and crew after last year’s inaugural event. Williams has assembled a team of 200 listeners for this Sunday’s event, which will play out in a speed golf relay format. Golfers will be assigned locations along the course based upon their best club and will hit the ball to each other in progression. The current world record is 7 minutes, 56 seconds.
Leslie Marshall Represents America Progressive Talkers in Dublin. Nationally syndicated progressive talk host Leslie Marshall will be in Dublin, Ireland next week where she says she’ll “represent the Left/Democrats at an international debate on the U.S. Presidential race at the U.S. Embassy, in Dublin, Ireland.” She’ll also appear at Dublin’s Boston College as well as speaking at the Women For Election luncheon about women in the U.S. Election. Additionally, she’ll be a guest on Dublin’s “The Right Hook” talk radio program on Monday, September 17.
Talk Radio Pro Roger Fredinburg Re-enters Biz with “Homeland Security Radio.” Roger Fredinburg was nationally syndicated by Talk Radio Network back in the 1990s. His program was the lead-in to “Coast to Coast AM” back when it was hosted by Art Bell. Fredinburg exited the business in 2004 after saying he became “frustrated with redundant voices and re-packaged news, each agonizing hour of talk radio parroting the last.” He got into the national advertising agency business. Now, Fredinburg tells TALKERS he’s getting back into the talk business due to his concerns over recent developments in the Middle East. He says that, combined with his recognition of a growing communications gap between the public sector and private citizens as relates to Homeland Security, has awakened his passions and he is determined to make a positive difference using talk radio. He’ll keep the focus and a watchful eye on Homeland Security and bring HS insiders to the airwaves to connect with average Americans via talk radio. Genesis Communications Network is syndicating the program on Sundays from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET.
Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeaderhip Hits Indy. Nationally syndicated talk host Dave Ramsey (pictured here third from the left) brought his super-successful EntreLeadership Seminar to Indianapolis on Wednesday in conjunction with the launch of the new AM/FM simulcast of his affiliate station, “Freedom 95.” Here he poses with the station’s staff.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. XtreMEDIA’s Kevin McCullough adds five new affiliate stations: WLES, Richmond, Virginia; KTIA, Des Moines; KUTR, Salt Lake City; WCRU, Charlotte; and WBRG, Lynchburg, Virginia…..Also, the XtreMEDIA-produced Dani Johnson show is added to WETR, Knoxville, Tennessee and WHKT, Norfolk, Virginia…..The nationally syndicated talk show “Phil’s Gang,” with host Phil Grande, is added to the program schedule at KFNN, Phoenix and KPSF, Palm Springs, California…..Fox Sports Radio Network adds its daily lineup of sports talk shows to KVNS, Brownsville, Texas…..”The Captain’s America” host Matt Bruce announces a new flagship home — WXJB-FM, Homosassa, Florida (“News-Talk For The Nature Coast of Florida”) — for his program that is syndicated by Phoenix Broadcasting…..The weekly military talk radio program, “Frontlines of Freedom” hosted by Denny Gillem, LTC, US Army (Ret) is added to the weekend schedule at Midwest Communications’ WKZO, Kalamazoo, Michigan and its simulcast WZKO, Portage, Michigan.
Libya Consulate Strike/Obama Foreign Policy Record Top News/Talk Stories for Week of September 10-14. The violent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the assessment of President Obama’s foreign policy record tied for the most-talked-about-stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 was the anti-American violence taking place in the Muslim world tied with President Obama’s relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At #3 was President Obama’s “convention bounce” in the polls and at #4 was the rise in jobless claims. The Talkers TenTM is a ranking of the top people and stories discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Controversial Host Tarsha Jones Fired by Clear Channel; Legal Tangle Ensues. Clear Channel terminated controversial urban radio host Tarsha Jones – known as Jonesy on the air – after a Philadelphia businesswoman accused Jones’ program of misidentifying her and accusing her of criminal acts that she says adversely affected her businesses. Jonesy hosted the AM drive show on WUSL-FM – Power 99. In the aftermath of an October incident during which young women from different neighborhoods in Philadelphia had gotten into fights, at least one caller to Jones’ program identified Tracey Parson as having beaten up young girls. Parson – who runs a group of child care facilities – has filed a suit in Common Pleas Court claiming Jones repeatedly defamed her and her Kiddie Kare businesses and that action led to death threats to her and loss of business. Police have said Parson was never a suspect and Parson’s suit alleges Jones’ program purposely devised a campaign to “destroy people’s lives, reputations and livelihoods.” Jones is no stranger to controversy. She was suspended from WQHT-FM, New York over the “Tsunami Song” that parodied Asians in the wake of the Sri Lanka tsunami. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says the rights of stations and hosts to publicly comment are very strong, “The legal threshold for Parson’s claim is challenging. Her legal team would have to prove Jones acted maliciously or with wanton disregard for the truth and that is harder to do than many people think.” From the station’s perspective, depending on the language in Jones’ contract, she may be able to collect on any monies due her by Clear Channel even though she’s been let go. Weisman says a good example of the talent being protected in this regard is that of Don Imus back in 2007. Although Citadel fired him for the “nappy-headed hos” incident, his contract contained language that forced the company to pay the remainder of this deal.
Talk Host Bill Manders Let Go from KKOH, Reno. Cumulus-owned KKOH, Reno – known to most without the extra “K” as KOH – drops PM drive host Bill Manders and program director Dan Mason takes over the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot. Manders, who’s been with KOH since 1994, tells KOLO-TV, “It’s part of the business. It certainly wasn’t shocking, and it wasn’t a surprise. But it’s caught me a little off guard.” KOH general manager Andrew Perini declined to comment to the Reno Gazette-Journal calling the situation, “Too complicated.”
WBAL, Baltimore’s Ron Smith Retires Due to Cancer. A little more than a month after announcing to his listeners that he’s been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Ron Smith does his last radio program and retires to home hospice care. Despite the grave diagnosis, Smith said he would go ahead with treatment and continue doing his radio program as long as he was well enough. The 69-year-old Smith recently announced he was ceasing chemotherapy and would continue with palliative care. He has been a talk host at Hearst’s WBAL since 1984. He also worked as a columnist for the Baltimore Sun since 2008 and penned his final column on November 17.
Fox News Radio Names Emily Wither Jerusalem Correspondent. Fox News Radio announces it brings former freelance multi-media journalist Emily Wither aboard as Jerusalem correspondent. Wither has worked for numerous news organizations including ABC, NBC, Sky News, CNN, ITN and the BBC. In her new position, Wither will file daily reports on the Middle East region for Fox News Radio. She takes over for Courtney Kealy who moved to Fox News’ New York headquarters as a national correspondent for Fox News Radio.
KPAM, Portland’s Bob Miller Begins “Operation Santa Claus.” For the 9th year in a row, KPAM, Portland morning drive host Bob Miller is spending this week raising funds for military families hurt by loss of income due to deployment. The station notes “Operation Santa Claus” has raised more than $1 million over the past nine years and is setting a goal of $135,000 for this year to aid the market’s military families in need. Working with the Salvation Army, Miller says 100% of the proceeds go to area families. “The need for ‘Operation Santa Claus’ funds for families of our troops has increased exponentially. I am thrilled and gratified every year to see how generous our listeners are, no matter what the economy is doing.”
KNX, Los Angeles Begins Remote Series. Following on the lead of former sister news/talk KFWB (now in a trust and for sale), CBS Radio’s KNX debuts “KNX on Your Corner” – a series of remote, daylong broadcasts designed to take an in-depth look at different communities throughout Southern California. The first stop is Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley on December 9. The station states, “From Studio City to Woodland Hills, the day’s programming will focus on the rich history and variety of businesses along Ventura Boulevard. Community leaders and local residents will be featured guests and KNX will broadcast live much of the day from Jerry’s Restaurant & Deli (16650 Ventura Boulevard) in Encino, a longtime favorite on the boulevard.” KNX will broadcast live from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Rep. Barney Frank to Retire, NATO’s Deadly Pakistan Strike, Holiday Shopping Figures, European Debt Crisis and 2012 Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/28). Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank’s announcement of retirement from Congress, the NATO friendly fire strike that killed Pakistani troops, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales reports, the building tension over the Euro Zone debt crisis and the GOP field for president in 2012 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
The D.C. All-News Battle is On. CBS Radio will take on Hubbard Broadcasting’s stranglehold on all-news in the Nation’s Capital in January when it unveils a brand new FM news station at 99.1 on the dial. CBS is moving its “El Zol” Spanish station from 99.1 to the recently acquired WFSI-FM, Annapolis, Maryland signal at 107.9 it purchased from Harold Camping’s Family Stations, Inc. Hubbard’s WTOP brand (which includes its tremendous digital initiatives) has been dominant in the news game in D.C. and nowhere is that more evident than in its first-place finish in the revenue race among all American radio stations as it billed $57 million in 2010. Now, CBS Radio brings its years of all-news experience to town. CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason states, “CBS Radio’s history in all-news is rich in tradition and recognized nationwide for its excellence. There is no one more regarded in this field, nor anyone with the journalistic expertise and capability to put forth a product with such instant credibility. We have perfected this format over many decades and we’re thrilled to expand the options for the D.C. community who have a distinct passion for news.” CBS moves WCBS, New York assistant director of news and programming Robert Sanchez to DC to program the station and brings Michelle Komes-Dolge aboard to serve as news director. Komes-Dolge is a veteran D.C. news person who served with WTOP-FM in the past. CBS Radio operates successful all-news operations in New York (WCBS, WINS), Los Angeles (KNX), Chicago (WBBM-AM/FM), San Francisco (KCBS), Philadelphia (KYW), Detroit (WWJ), and Boston (WBZ). The growth of all-news and the emergence of head-to-head competitive major market battles promises to focus a new level of industry attention on the competitive elements that make a difference in determining success in the format. Stay tuned!
WBAL, Baltimore’s Ron Smith Ends Chemotherapy. Baltimore talk radio legend Ron Smith announced today that he will continue to host his daily talk show on the Hearst news/talk station he’s worked at as a host for 27 years as long as he can, but he is ending his chemotherapy. Smith announced on October 17 that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has spread to other organs. The 69-year-old personality said at the time his doctors believed he had a chance to beat the disease with treatment. Smith delivered the news to his listeners earlier today (11/17).
America’s Radio News Network Adds Daily Election Feature. “Trek to 2012: The Presidential Agenda” is the name of ARNN’s new 90-second feature that airs four times daily during all four of ARNN’s news programs. Billed as providing “listeners with all the latest on the 2012 presidential campaign schedules, media events, policy issues, latest polling numbers and debate coverage along with other election details and information,” the feature will be heard on ARNN’s 215-plus affiliate stations. ARNN executive vice president John McCaslin says, “We trust that the ‘Trek to 2012: The Presidential Agenda’ will keep ARNN’s listeners well informed on the latest news and the whereabouts of their favorite 2012 presidential candidates, whether it is President Obama or one in the large field of GOP White House hopefuls. Given the dismal U.S. economy and continuing recession, plus other hot-button issues such as national security, we are already experiencing unprecedented interest in the upcoming 2012 presidential campaign.”
KYW, Philadelphia Adds Three to its Newsradio Hall of Fame. CBS Radio’s KYW, Philadelphia announces the induction of Bob Kelly, and the late Karin Phillips and Jack O’Rourke into its KYW Newsradio Hall of Fame. Director of news and programming Steve Butler and director of sales David Yadgaroff gave the awards to Kelly, who served as an account executive for 20 years and to relatives of Phillips and O’Rourke, who died within days of each other in September.
Former WWNC, Asheville, North Carolina Host Matt Mittan Announces Digital Effort and Terrestrial Affiliate. Matt Mittan hosted the “Take a Stand” show on Clear Channel’s WWNC, Asheville until a few weeks ago when he left the station after personnel cuts at the cluster cost him producer/sidekick Agnes Cheek. Now, Mittan and Cheek, who’ve been producing a podcast, will begin streaming their show and have announced WHKP, Hendersonville, North Carolina (south of Asheville) will pick up the 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm hour of the show. Mittan says that although the program is produced in their downtown Asheville studio, they plan to take it on the road across Western North Carolina.
Clear Channel Raises More than $700,000 for Fisher House. Capping a week-long fundraising effort November 7-11 culminating on Veterans Day, Clear Channel Radio put its 850 radio stations to work to bring in more than $700,000 for the Fisher House Foundation. Ken Fisher is chairman of the foundation and he comments, “We’re grateful for Clear Channel’s support of our military families again this year. Clear Channel’s remarkable reach and continued support is an amazing force for our military families that will continue to help veterans and their families across the United States.” Fisher House provides housing close to hospitals for families of military personnel who are receiving treatment for injuries suffered in battle so they can be near their loved ones during that time without incurring huge expenses. CC has helped raise more than $1.2 million for Fisher House in the last two years.
2012 Presidential Race, ‘OWS’ Shutdown, European Debt Threatens U.S., and Marines in Australia Plan Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/16). The 2012 GOP presidential candidates, the shutdown of the Zurcotti Park encampment in New York City and what it means to the ‘Occupy’ movement, the continuing threat to the U.S. and world economies by the European debt crisis and President Obama’s plan to station U.S. Marines in Australia were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Radio Not Alone in Cuts; CNN Eliminates 50 Positions. Changes in technology and an analysis of its own efficiency have caused CNN to cut some 50 positions in the trenches according to a report in TVNewser. After a three-year study of the news organization’s operations, senior vice president Jack Womack writes in a memo to staffers, “Technology investments in our newsrooms now allow more desk-top editing and publishing for broadcast and online. As a result of these technology and workflow changes, CNN is reducing the number of media editors in our work force in Atlanta.” The report notes 12 positions in the Washington, DC bureau have been eliminated as well as jobs in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
All-New Cumulus Down 1.9% in Q3. In a conference call with analysts, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey reported that third quarter revenue for the newly acquired Citadel group of stations was down 2.3%, the Cumulus Media Partners stations – the old Susquehanna group stations that made up CMP which Cumulus finished purchasing in August, down 3.4% while Cumulus proper was down 0.6% in the third quarter compared to the same quarter one year ago. Dickey reports the company is ahead of schedule with its plan to achieve almost $52 million in “synergies” before January. He states, “We now have a true national platform with a large and liquid market capitalization and a flexible, covenant-light debt complex that is designed to optimize free cash flow and de-risk the equity. Our team is making excellent progress on the Citadel integration and is energized by the upside potential of our newly transformed platform.”
RAB Names Erica Farber Executive Vice President. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces it is consolidating its Membership, Professional Development and Services units into one big group and that former Radio & Records publisher and CEO Erica Farber joins the organization as EVP as of January 1, 2012. RAB president and CEO Jeff Haley says of Farber’s joining the organization, “I am thrilled about Erica joining the management team of the RAB. We are at a pivotal time as we look to serve the industry and ensure our product offerings meet the demands of an evolving medium. There’s no better executive for the role than Erica.” In related moves at the RAB, Sheila Kirby exits the RAB’s Professional Development Group to take the senior vice president of sales training and development post at CBS Radio. Michael Weiss, who serves as president of sales at CBS Radio says, “Sheila and I have worked together for close to 20 years, and there is no one I respect more when it comes to motivating a team to perform at their absolute best. Working closely with Sheila, our sales force will have a clear advantage in the marketplace and advertisers will benefit greatly working with such a sophisticated group of salespeople dedicated to constructing integrated programs that guarantee results.” Also from the RAB, Ron Ruth shifts from a full-time position with the RAB to a consulting role.
“The Broadside” Hosts Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent Fill in at WBAL, Baltimore. Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent began their internet program, “The Broadside” several months ago. Now, as Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore is airing various programs in its 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot, Langer and Newgent host their program on WBAL on November 14, 15 and 25. Langer, who serves as president of the Institute for Liberty and the Small Business Political Alliance and was named by Campaigns and Elections as a Top Influencer in Maryland in 2011 and Newgent, who writes for TheExaminer.com and RedMaryland.blogspot.com and does research and analysis of politics and policy, say their plan “is to expand the horizons of traditional conservative talk, bringing in discussions (and guests) whose focuses are not only politics, but also movies, music and sports.”
CBS Radio Transitions ESPN High Desert to AM Signal; Goes All-Christmas on FM. The ESPN High Desert sports talk outlet KVFG-FM, Victorville, California shifts to KRAK-AM as ESPN 910 so the FM signal can flip to an all-Christmas format. There’s no indication what the group’s plans are for the FM signal after the holidays but it seems likely this is a prelude to a change to a music format.
Fox Sports Radio Los Angeles Raises Funds for Paralyzed Veterans. AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. (KLAC) announces it raised almost $100,000 for the Paralyzed Veterans of America during its radiothon on November 9. All the money raised during the “Loose Cannons” and “Petros & Money” shows that day will benefit the charity that provides rehab, access to services as well as research to cure spinal cord injuries. Pictured here (from l-r) are “Loose Cannons” Steve Hartman, Pat O’Brien, Los Angeles Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs. Robitaille was one of a number of local sports celebs who appeared on the program to help the cause.
SCOTUS to Hear Health Care Reform Arguments, 2012 Presidential Race and ‘Occupy Oakland’ Shut Down Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/14). The United States Supreme Court’s agreement to hear arguments on President Obama’s Health Care Reform law, the 2012 presidential race and the shutdown of the ‘Occupy Oakland’ protests were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Speculation Abounds Over New Role for Former Gov. David Paterson at WOR, New York. While he might not have accrued the most impressive ratings as chief executive of the Empire State after ascending from the lieutenant governorship upon Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s scandal-driven resignation, the New York broadcasting community is basically unanimous in its recognition of David Paterson as a skilled and engaging talk show personality. While in office, he was known to be extremely talk radio friendly – accessible and open – and made regular appearances on the airwaves as a guest newsmaker. Since leaving the governor’s mansion, Paterson has become a welcome fill-in host on a number of Big Apple radio stations, covering everything from current events to sports. Today, his transition from politician to broadcaster will likely be official, as Buckley-owned WOR has called a major 12:00 noon ET press conference at posh Midtown Manhattan eatery Ben Benson’s Steakhouse to make “a major announcement” regarding the station and Paterson. Stay tuned.
WBAL, Baltimore Brings TV News Veteran in for PM Drive. The Hearst news/talk station chose not to renew the contract of PM drive host Shari Elliker, who’d been there since July of 2010, and brings aboard award-winning TV news personality Mary Beth Marsden to host the “Afternoon News Journal” program. Marsden worked in the market for 20 years, spending much of that time as news anchor at WMAR-TV. WBAL news director Merrie Street tells the Baltimore Sun, “Mary Beth has been a respected journalist in the market for over 20 years. Her news judgment and her genuine commitment to her audience make Mary Beth a great fit for WBAL.”
WTOP-AM/FM, Washington Adds Mike Causey Column to its Media Station. Washington, DC journalist Mike Causey is now producing a weekly column covering humorous insights on daily life and the news for WTOP.com, the Hubbard Broadcasting station’s award winning multi-media website. WTOP SVP and general manager Joel Oxley says, “We are excited to debut this new weekly column at WTOP.com. Mike has a well-earned reputation as a leading correspondent in covering federal news for many years. However, in addition to his wealth of industry and life experience, Mike is a master humorist and story teller. We look forward to sharing that side of Mike, which promises to be very entertaining and should spark lively conversation and debate. Mike may be known for his federal knowledge, but is loved for his general knowledge and one-of-a-kind insight on life.”
KDWN, Las Vegas Host Alan Stock Adds Hour to Show. Las Vegas talk host Alan Stock, who recently exited crosstown KXNT-AM/FM and was added to the midday program schedule at KDWN, expands his program to two hours. Originally brought on for the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon program, Stock now begins his show at 10:00 am starting on September 6.
Filling in this Week. WSTC/WNLK, Norwalk, Connecticut talk host Lisa Wexler sits in for Joe Crummey at 77WABC, New York on the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show tomorrow (9/2)…..Former KTSA, San Antonio talk host Kevin Wall fills in for Brian Kilmeade today (9/1) through Monday on Fox News Radio.
Obama Jobs Plan, 2012 Presidential Election and Middle East Turmoil Among top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/31). President Obama’s planned address to Congress and the nation on September 8, the GOP candidates for president in 2012 and the social and political turmoil in the Middle East were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Moonlighting. WAXY, Miami program director and on-air personality Marc Hochman is pictured here performing at The Improv comedy club in Fort Lauderdale recently. Hochman, who is a cast member on WAXY’s PM drive Dan LeBatard program, was invited to perform his “sports comic” character at the club before a sellout crowd. Apparently he “killed” because the club has invited him to come back and perform again.