Tag: "Hulu"

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

| January 27, 2021

WCBS-AM, New York News Pro Rich Lamb to Retire. After 50 years as a radio news pro, Rich Lamb announces that he’s retiring from Entercom’s all-news WCBS-AM on February 26. Lamb is currently city hall reporter for WCBS 880. WCBS news director Tim Scheld says, “Rich is a one of a kind reporter and human being. He will be missed not just for his broadcast journalism and eloquent story telling but Rich is a selfless friend, colleague and mentor whose influence and friendships can be seen across the New York City landscape in business, journalism and politics. Rich may be leaving, but he has left each one of us at WCBS 880 with something to help us carry on his legacy.” Lamb says in an internal memo to fellow staffers, “My career began in 1970 in the Detroit market. After working at 3 stations there, in 1974 I landed at WXLO, New York, known then as 99X, a rock station. In the course of doing street work, the legendary WCBS political reporter Steve Flanders, after whom the plaza in front of City Hall is still named, urged me to try out for the reporter’s position being vacated by the renowned Jerry Nachman. I assured Steve there was ‘no way’ that would happen. But, in December of 1977, news and program director Lou Adler hired me. His first assistant Rob Sunde called to say the station had a budget issue, and that my start date would be February 26, 1978. Thus, I have requested that my last day will be February 26, 2021, 43 years to the day after my first assignment covering the ‘Polar Bear Plunge’ in Coney Island.”

Sandra Golden Leaving Atlanta’s ‘The Fan’ Next Month. According to a report by Rodney Ho in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, morning drive personality Sandra Golden announces she’s leaving Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talk WCNN-AM/W229AG “93.7/680 The Fan” after the February 19 program. Station owner David Dickey tells the AJC, “It was Sandy’s decision. She recently got married. Her folks are older and she wanted to focus on family. As she put it, she has done tremendous things in sports radio and sports journalism. She has been fantastic.” Golden is married to former “Regular Guys” personality Larry Wachs, who worked for two rock stations in the market but now works in the mortgage industry, according to Ho’s report. Golden says she’s leaving the station on “great terms” but says, “The show with me, Steak [Shapiro] and Brian [Finneran] was the best one I’ve ever been a part of.” But says that the COVID-related departures of Shapiro and [midday personality] John Kincade in the fall caused her to assess her situation. “I didn’t like Steak and John leaving. They were legends at the station, two of the best voices in the market. It shook me. I had to do a reset.” John Michaels and Brian Finneran will continue to host the morning show as a duo.

‘America’s Healthcare Advocate’ Expands to Two Hours. The Radio America-syndicated health advice program, “America’s Health Advocate” adds an hour and now airs from 8:00 am to 10:00 am ET on Saturdays. Radio America says, “‘America’s Healthcare Advocate’ is a weekly program that helps listeners understand the complexities of America’s healthcare industry, navigate the system, and make informed choices.” Guests include prominent experts and industry leaders in medicine, insurance, health and wellness. “America’s Healthcare Advocate” – hosted by nationally recognized healthcare policy expert and Benefits By Design president Cary Hall – currently airs on more than 100 stations across the U.S.

iHeartMedia Names Yesenia Bello SVP of Diversity and Inclusion. This is a lateral move into a newly created position at iHeartMedia for Yesenia Bello, who’s been serving as senior vice president of multicultural sales since October of 2019. In this new role as SVP of diversity and inclusion, Bello will work closely with chief human resources officer and chief diversity officer Michele Laven “and iHeartMedia’s executive leadership and Human Resources divisions to drive comprehensive long-term and measurable diversity and Inclusion strategies across iHeartMedia, as well as develop and implement specific Diversity and Inclusion goals and solutions for employee, community, client and agency engagement that drive inclusive behaviors and business practices.” Bello states, “I’m excited to move into this critical new role at iHeart at such an important time for our company and our country. I’ve seen iHeart’s commitment to diversity and inclusion up close since joining the company in 2019, and I’m looking forward to working closely with our entire company on new, exciting initiatives to continue to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion at iHeart.” Prior to joining iHeartMedia, Bello served at Telemundo Network, Hulu’s Latino division and Google, where she focused on Multicultural strategy and sales for YouTube advertisers.

Application Deadline Extended for MIW’s Mildred Carter Mentoring Program. The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group announces the application window for the 2021 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is being extended through Friday, February 5. The MIW’s annual mentoring initiative connects mentees with accomplished women recognized as leaders, mentors, and game-changers within all aspects of radio broadcasting. This year’s program is being sponsored by vCreative. Four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry within the sales, marketing, programming, and digital disciplines will be selected for the 2021 program. Mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply can be found here. Entercom VP, national partnerships Lindsay Adams – who also serves as chair of the mentoring program and was a 2009 mentee – says, “The MIW’s Mildred Carter Mentoring Program has been instrumental in providing guidance, leadership, and bridging connections within the industry.  From personal experience, I can attest it’s an invaluable experience that helps shape and curate career paths and potential.”

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Issues/New Strain Concerns, Trump Impeachment, Capitol Attack Investigation, Biden-Putin Phone Call, Conway Family Social Media Mess, and Runup to Super Bowl Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/26). The problems plaguing the efficient rollout of vaccines across the U.S. and concerns about their effectiveness against new virus strains; the process of the second impeachment of Donald Trump; the investigation into the attack on the Capitol building; President Joe Biden’s first phone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin; the chaotic social media messages from the Conway family and allegations Kellyanne Conway may have posted a semi-nude picture of daughter Claudia; and the runup to Super Bowl LV were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

| October 20, 2020

Rush Limbaugh Updates Listeners on Cancer Battle; ‘Under a Death Sentence.’ Talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh gave listeners an update on his battle with cancer at the outset of his Premiere Networks nationally syndicated program on Monday (10/19) and said that after a long period of keeping the cancer from spreading via treatment, recent tests show “some progression of cancer.” He told listeners, “I hate the way I feel every day. It’s tough to realize that the days where I do not think I’m under a death sentence are over. Now, we all are, is the point. We all know that we’re going to die at some point, but when you have a terminal disease diagnosis that has a time frame to it, then that puts a different psychological and even physical awareness to it.” But he went on to say that he still looks forward to going on the air every day. “I feel very blessed to be here speaking with you today. Some days are harder than others. I do get fatigued now. I do get very, very tired now. I’m not gonna mislead you about that. But I am extremely grateful to be able to come here to the studio and to maintain as much normalcy as possible – and it’s still true.” You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up.” Limbaugh first announced he’d been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer on February 3.

Industry Shocked by Savage’s Criticism of Limbaugh Cancer Update. Numerous talk radio industry pros – from executives to staffers working “in the trenches” – have told TALKERS magazine today that they are “disgusted” by Michael Savage’s Twitter post in the aftermath of Rush Limbaugh’s on-air update about the progression of his Stage 4 lung cancer and how he’s handling his terminal diagnosis. The tweet came yesterday immediately after Limbaugh’s first segment and read: “Limbaugh’s crying about his cancer on air! Worst 15 minutes in radio history! Spilled a large coffee all over counter and floor. I PROMISE MY AUDIENCE THIS – I WILL NOT DRAG YOU DOWN WITH ME! Best wishes RUSH, but stop and leave the stage with dignity.”  TALKERS founder Michael Harrison even threw his two cents into the discussion stating, “Savage got it all wrong.  Rush tapped the deepest level of the ties that bind talk show hosts to their listeners – the sharing of personal life experiences and feelings – yes, feelings. What Rush bravely did in sharing his first-hand perspective on his circumstances was a gift to his listeners and to the rest of us in radio.  It’s what makes our business a true community and elevates our place as a public forum to an enormously special level in a world awash in superficiality and hype.  Rush shared his heart with us.”

New Deal with CBS Sports for ‘Boomer & Gio.’ A new, multiyear extension is inked between Entercom and CBS Sports to continue simulcasting WFAN-AM/FM, New York’s “Boomer & Gio” morning drive show on the CBS Sports Network. The show co-hosted by Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti airs live from 6:00 am to 10:00 am ET. Entercom New York SVP and market manager Chris Oliviero says, “Boomer and Gio have become a must-listen for New York sports fans to start their day with their unique perspectives, humor and a bit of the unexpected sprinkled in. WFAN is happy to extend our long partnership with CBS Sports Network to let fans nationwide take a peek into their world and join in on the fun each morning.” CBS Sports Network available through all major cable, satellite and telco distributors as well as via OTT streaming service providers YouTube TV, fuboTV, DirecTV and Hulu. Additionally, a live CBS Sports Network stream is available through CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports App by authenticating with select providers.

The Presidential Race/Voting Begins, COVID-19 Stats & Projections, the Economy/Stimulus Talks, Hunter Biden Laptop Case, Social Media ‘Censorship,’ Limbaugh Cancer Update, Russian Cyberattack Charges, and Jeffrey Toobin Zoom Incident Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/19). The November presidential election, the final debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden as well as the early and mail-in voting procedures; the rise in COVID-19 cases across most of the U.S. and Europe and projections for a fall/winter second wave; the state of the U.S. economy and negotiations in congress over a new stimulus package; chatter about the legitimacy of the Hunter Biden laptop matter; complaints by conservative media figures about “censorship” of posts that have locked their accounts; Rush Limbaugh delivers somber update on his battle with cancer; six Russian military officers are charged with cyberattacks by the U.S.’ and New Yorker writer and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is suspended after exposing himself during a Zoom meeting were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes. According to a story by Neil Best at Newsday, Entercom’s WFAN, New York “The Fan” will – “barring a contractual glitch” – hire former morning drive star Craig Carton within the next few weeks and put him in the afternoon drive slot by January, if not sooner. The New York and Philadelphia media have been watching the sports talk radio scene intensely since Carton was let out of prison early after his fraud conviction in 2018. Most reports have cited sources indicating Carton will be with WFAN before long, but Beasley Media Group’s WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” in Philadelphia has reportedly been courting Carton…..Salem Radio Network is presenting coverage of this Thursday’s final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, moderated by Kristen Welker of MSNBC. SRN’s coverage begins at 8:06 pm ET with a special “SRN Debate Preview” hosted by nationally syndicated SRN talk host Hugh Hewitt with special guests including HotAir.com’s Ed Morrissey and an update from SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston, who is credentialed and will report from the debate venue at the Belmont University campus in Nashville. Hewitt will also host a 60-minute “Debate Wrap-Up” show immediately following the 90-minute debate…..The Radio Advertising Bureau approved a new slate of officers at its recent Fall Board of Directors meeting. Neuhoff Media chief operating officer Mike Hulvey is the new board chair; Bill Hendrich, EVP, Cox Media Group is vice chair; Jeff Warshaw, CEO, Connoisseur Media, LLC joins as finance chair; Sabina Widmann, VP, general manager/director of sales, Univision Radio is secretary; and Susan Larkin, COO, Entercom Communications is immediate past chair. Hulvey says, “It’s an honor to serve the RAB and radio industry in this capacity. Radio is building a great success story not only of recovery, but revival. Thanks in part to the hard work of the RAB team, radio will accelerate from a new normal to a new better.”

Independent Broadcasters Association Commissions Financial Report. The newly formed Independent Broadcasters Association announces it is partnering with media specialty accounting firm dk east associates to conduct a financial analysis of independent broadcaster operations. Stations can be participants in the financial report at no charge, but they must be members of the IBA by October 31. The IBA says the financial report is the first independent-only analysis of its type. IBA founder and executive director Ron Stone says, “Finally, there will be intelligence that independent broadcasters can use to properly measure performance. We see a lot of information about the industry, but typically it only speaks to larger public companies and it is difficult to use it in a meaningful way for local operations. The IBA was formed to bring shared resources like this to independent broadcasters, along with revenue-generation and cost-saving opportunities.” The completed report will allow participating IBA members to compare and contrast their operations to others of similar size. It also will provide data against 2019 by quarter to allow members to gauge their own performance against similar operations during the COVID-19 crisis. Headcount figures will reflect changes from 2019 to reveal how independent operators are weathering the storm from a human resource perspective. In addition, intelligence on Q4 and 2021 will be gathered to determine how independents are feeling about the immediate future.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Laura G is promoted to program director at Cumulus Media’s country WSJR-FM “NASH 93.7.” She’s been serving as midday personality and will continue in that role. Cumulus Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vice president and market manager Chris Kenney says, “Laura has shown strong leadership and work ethic throughout her career with Cumulus and we are elated to promote her to PD of ‘NASH FM 93.7.’”…..Hubbard Radio names Kelsey Danca promotions director for hot AC WRMF, West Palm Beach. She joins the station from her most recent position as integrated marketing manager for AEG Presents in West Palm Beach.  WRMF program director Randi West comments, “Kelsey’s background in radio, events and digital made her the perfect fit for WRMF and ‘Party 96.3!’ Excited to have her on board to grow these heritage brands to all new levels.”.….Cumulus Media’s Westwood One Nashville is offering a special broadcast to honor American veterans hosted by “American Country Countdown” host Kix Brooks. The annual two-hour holiday music special, “A Salute to Our Military Veterans with Kix Brooks,” includes friends and fellow artists Florida Georgia Line, Chris Janson, Kane Brown, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, and Brantley Gilbert talking about their appreciation for the nation’s military. It’s available for stations to air beginning Saturday, November 7 through Wednesday, November 11 between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight.

Radio’s Precarious Financial Position: Are We at the Tipping Point?

| August 15, 2014

By Bill Brady
Futures & Options, Inc.
President/CEO

JUPITER, FL — The recent Wall Street quarterly earnings calls for radio’s publicly traded companies were pretty alarming.  In three quarters radio has gone from slow growth to no growth to negative growth in an astoundingly short period of time.

Those in denial will try to explain it away by blaming it on the Olympics or the World Cup — or because radio is a “mature industry.”

The real worry here is that 15 years of post-consolidation chickens are finally coming home to roost.  Homogenized programming, time-spent listening declines and the decimation of sales departments are now taking their toll.

Corporate radio apologists have been heard to say, “Stop talking about the good old days, get used to the industry as it exists today.”  Well, the truth is, there’s a lot wrong with how radio operates today.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

| September 18, 2013

radioshow2013NAB/RAB Radio Show Opens in Orlando.  A delegation of editors, writers and reporters from TALKERS/RadioInfo is on hand at the massive Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida as day one of the 2013 NAB/RAB Radio Show kicks off with a battery of sessions and presentations.  Initial observation of the event indicates a large turnout (official numbers to come) and the discussion of a wide variety ofmhahhnNAB topics covering everything from music label/radio relations to the rise of sports talk radio including programming, marketing, sales and financial issues intrinsic to the radio industry.  The underlying issue of radio’s integration into the digital era remains the prevailing theme of just about every subject being examined and scrutinized.  Interestingly, in spite of the Florida heat and humidity, the crowd is particularly well-dressed in business attire (we take note of these things) indicating a no-nonsense seriousness in terms of the collective industry consciousness and mood on display in the city built by Mickey Mouse.  TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison will be presenting his annual address at the conference tomorrow detailing 10 problems facing radio and solutions available to the medium in securing its vital pop cultural role in the new digital era.  The address takes place in room Gatlin E2 between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm on Thursday and is open to all attendees of the show.  Pictured here are (clockwise from top): TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison, CBS Radio News vice president Harvey Nagler, and H&H Communications president and TALKERS/RadioInfo sales maven Al Herskovitz.

mcvayetalNABTap into Your Star Power.  Earlier this morning at the NAB/RAB Radio Show, Cumulus Media senior vice president Mike McVay (far left) moderated the panel “Tap into Your Star Power and Build Your Brand.”  The panel provided attendees the opportunity to “learn from the experts who, through the power of radio, have successfully branded themselves.”  On the panel with McVay are (from l-r): ABC News Radio White House correspondent Ann Compton; Reach Media nationally syndicated radio personality D.L. Hughley; and Brand Like a Rock Star author Steve Jones.

cookehollandRAIN Summit Coverage.  Radio consultant Holland Cooke covered the RAIN Summit held here in Orlando held the day prior to the beginning of the Radio Show and he reports from the gathering of broadcasters and digital audio practitioners.  Cooke says topics ranged from the ongoing problem of ad insertion to building a digital sales force to the drive to become the destination for listeners using their mobile device for audio entertainment.  Read Holland Cooke’s analysis here.

weei logoWEEI, Boston Wins ‘Best Streaming Broadcast Station’ Award.  At the RAIN Summit – traditionally held each year the prior to the kick-off of the NAB/RAB Radio Show – Entercom sports talk outlet WEEI, Boston was honored with the award for Best Streaming Broadcast Station.  More than 100 services made entries for this year’s RAIN Awards and WEEI bested both WBZ-AM, Boston and ESPN Radio to take home the honor.  Entercom vice president of digital strategy and enterprise platforms Tim Murphy, says, “This recognition centers on the quality of our audio programming at WEEI.  This is a tremendous award for an amazing brand, and our incredible team of talent and producers who do an amazing job covering Boston sports. The entire WEEI team is incredibly innovative at distributing our content through industry leading strategies regarding search optimization, mobile distribution and social engagement.”

cumulus logoLew Dickey Lays Out Digital Strategy.  In a memo to his company (and the media), Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey explains the company’s digital audio strategy with regard to the recently announced partnership with Rdio.  Part of the three-page memo includes the four-pronged plan for digital audio consisting of: on demand, custom playlist, internet radio/non-local radio, and local radio streaming.   With regard to on demand, Dickey states that “people realize that it’s better to rent an unlimited library of content than it is to acquire limited pieces of content — be it music or movies.  Rdio is positioned on the leading edge of this important media trend, enabling consumers to listen and discover virtually unlimited amounts of music on any device with a high degree of social engagement across the Rdio platform.  Think of Rdio for audio as the equivalent of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon all combined for video.  A free or paid subscription to Rdio gives you access to 20 dickeylewmillion songs as well as nearly every new song that is released instantly.  Your iTunes library now becomes obsolete.”  Stating that the custom playlist aspect is Pandora’s only business and that Rdio offers the service, his company will assist Rdio in that.  “We will help add an experienced professional programming element to curation that will further differentiate Rdio from what is Pandora’s singular business.  In addition, Rdio draws from a vast library of 20 million songs – 20x that of Pandora.”  In the internet radio/non-local radio category, Dickey says the best product out there now is SiriusXM – but he calls it expensive and not widely listened to.  “Cumulus will draw upon our stable of iconic brands, content and talent to produce new, exclusive channels and short-form programs that give listeners an unparalleled listening experience on a single digital platform.  Rdio will combine the best of iTunes, Pandora and Sirius in one app that can be accessed on virtually any desktop or mobile device.”  Dickey says Rdio does not currently offer the local station streaming service that iHeartRadio does and his stations will continue their relationship with the Clear Channel service for now.

kassanmichaelAd and Media Expert Michael Kassan to Be Featured on WOR, New York During Advertising Week.  The annual New York City Advertising Week event takes place next week – September 23 – 27 – and Clear Channel’s news/talk WOR, New York will feature content from renowned ad and media expert Michael Kassan, founder, chairman and CEO of MediaLink.  Clear Channel notes, “Kassan will bring his unparalleled understanding of the advertising and media worlds to broadcast and digital listening audiences via WOR 710 AM, iHeartRadio’s WOR station and wor.com via an wor710ongoing series of insightful reports, commentary, updates and interviews throughout Advertising Week, the world’s premier gathering of advertising, marketing and communications leaders.  Among other features, Kassan will host a series of daily Advertising Week previews and updates; exclusive interviews with major media and advertising world figures; and commentary on significant advertising and media topics that emerge during Advertising Week events.”  CCM&E chairman and CEO John Hogan states, “Michael Kassan is one of the most highly respected names in the advertising and media worlds.  His incredibly well-informed reporting will illuminate Advertising Week for WOR listeners, as well as those listening to WOR over iHeartRadio and wor.com, bringing unparalleled insight and depth to the most important issues facing the industry as it prepares to address the future and prepare for its next stage of growth.  We are thrilled to have an expert of this caliber play such a critical role in our Advertising Week lineup.”

tuneinlogoFederated Media Chooses TuneIn for Mobile App.  TuneIn becomes the official mobile app and online audio player for all Federated Media stations including Fort Wayne news/talk giant WOWO and rocker WBYR “The Bear.”  Federated Media owns 15 radio stations in Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Warsaw, Indiana.  TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “TuneIn is constantly focused on giving listeners access to the best content available, no matter where they are in the world.wowo  We are very excited Federated Media has chosen TuneIn as their full digital solution, offering listeners content via mobile, and web.”  Federated Media programming has been available on TuneIn for months, but this new agreement makes TuneIn the broadcast group’s comprehensive digital solution for both mobile and desktop listening.  Every Federated Media station will eschew their existing mobile apps in favor of the free TuneIn Radio app, and Federated Media stations will promote TuneIn on-air.  Federated Media chief strategy officer James Derby comments, “With TuneIn, our listeners can now hear their favorite Federated Media stations at any time, no matter where they are – all through one app.  TuneIn now provides all Federated Media stations additional digital distribution to reach our listeners through over 200 connected devices, ranging from mobile phones and tablets, to smart TVs and cars.”

ramseywflaDave Ramsey in Orlando.  Timing his appearance to coincide with the NAB/RAB Radio Show, nationally syndicated talk show star and New York Times best-selling author Dave Ramsey hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” in Orlando on Tuesday, September 17, to a packed house at Chapin Theatre.  Ramsey spoke about how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 350 employees. Ramsey joined with local affiliate WFLA, Orlando (WFLF) to promote the event.  WFLA general sales manager Mark Kanak states, “On behalf of all of us at Clear Channel Orlando, it is a genuine pleasure to welcome a legend like Dave Ramsey.  Dave has made an enormous impact on our listeners’ lives and his fans continue to grow.” Pictured above are (from l-r): WFLA PD Jim Poling, Kanak, Dave Ramsey and the WFLA sales team.

Big 2013 Consumer Electronics Show: Big Implications for Radio

| January 11, 2013

By Holland Cooke
News/Talk/Sports Consultant

LAS VEGAS — Remember how iPod changed the way we collect and consume music? Decades earlier, Walkman had already rendered songs portable and empowered the listener-as-DJ. Then Apple obsoleted its own game-changer. As lines snaked around the block, again, for 2012’s iPhone 5 debut, sales of iPod and other mp3 players were plummeting 22%. We now tote our tunes on smartphones…which have also disrupted cameras, GPS, etc., etc., etc.

And again this week, 150,000 attendees here oooh’d-and-ahhh’d at 20,000 new products, many seeking to obsolete last year’s 20,000 shiny objects. That alone makes this a useful trek for radio folk. The CES conversation about what’s-new/what’s-next is a real pump-up compared to the “What’s left?” that haunts too much of radio’s shop talk.

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You’re Fired? Timing is Everything.

| December 11, 2012

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — If you haven’t already noticed, you’ve got to see this.  Grab a copy of USA Today.  Any day will do, but it has to be the newsstand hard copy.  No digital version will work.

Radio is reeling from another Clear Channel bloodbath, just in time for Christmas.  It wasn’t the first, it won’t be the last, and it’s not just Clear Channel.  But heartless timing.  The nerve of ’em.

In the words of Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman: “Let me tell you the story of another loser…”

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

| July 18, 2012

Merlin Media Ends FM News Operations in New York and Chicago.  Industry watchers are beginning the post-mortem on Merlin Media’s all-news formats at WIQI, Chicago and WEMP, New York after yesterday’s announcement by the company that it is flipping the two signals to classic hits and alternative rock, respectively.  In making the announcement, Merlin president Randy Michaels stated, “It was a difficult decision to make, but after a year of minimal audience engagement, coupled with the format’s inherent expense, I felt it was time to make a change.”  Perhaps the most obvious challenge to the endeavor was the fact that in both Chicago and New York, Michaels’ stations were going up against entrenched news stations in markets that didn’t seem to be crying out for more radio news, primarily because they are already being served by well-respected and well-listened-to all-news outlets.  WBBM-AM/FM, Chicago and WCBS and WINS in New York were tough opponents to challenge in the radio news game – not to mention the public radio stations in both markets that have loyal audiences and dedicate resources to covering local news.  The ratings for the two stations seemed to bear that out.  The initial concept of trying to reach women with a news product fell flat.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told the Chicago Tribune, “When you say, ‘This is for women and here’s what we’re talking about,’ it can come across as insulting.  It’s presumptuous.”  Harrison also told the paper, “To reinvent the wheel, when in fact the wheel is not broken, is difficult.”  He said the station’s focus on stereotypically female topics like cooking, fashion and child rearing also turned off listeners.  There are reports 27 staffers are out in Chicago with a similar number in New York, leaving a host of veteran radio news people looking for their next opportunity this morning.  Meanwhile, another wrinkle to this story pertains to industry rumors and speculation that Merlin had plans to eventually morph its New York and possibly Chicago all-newsers into traditional news/talkers.  The recent addition of Rush Limbaugh to Philadelphia property WWIQ after his departure from CBS Radio‘s WPHT had tongues wagging about the possibility of such a move happening in New York when Cumulus Media‘s contract with Premiere Networks for Limbaugh on WABC ends – especially with Cumulus developing Mike Huckabee (currently airing on crosstown competitor WOR) as a more “civil” alternative to Limbaugh.  This brings up another question: Are the Merlin moves to music just a temporary measure?

Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Draws Intense Traffic to Talkers.com; Testament to Sports Talk Format’s Popularity.  The recently published Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America, has generated so much traffic to Talkers.com that – at times – navigation on the site slowed to a crawl, forcing the IT staff at Talkers.com to increase the site’s bandwidth to accommodate the visitors.  This massive interest in America’s sports talk radio personalities is indicative of the format’s popularity with both consumers and from within the media industry.  TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey states, “Sports talk radio is off-the-charts popular in so many markets across the country – reflecting the importance of sports in American popular culture.  The interest in the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk from people working within the business is one thing, but the attention from consumers of sports talk and the rabid sports blogosphere is astounding.  The passion that exists for the format, the personalities, as well as the games and athletes themselves, shows why this talk radio genre is such an effective marketing tool for businesses at the local and national level.”  The 2012 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk can be found here.

Cumulus Media’s WPRO, Providence Names Craig Schwalb Program Director.  Craig Schwalb comes to Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO and 99.7 (and sister WPRV) in Providence from SiriusXM where he served as senior director of talk programming.  He’s also worked at WKRK, Detroit; WNEW, New York; WRBZ, Raleigh; and EZ Communications, St. Louis.  He replaces Paul Giammarco who recently resigned from the station.  Cumulus SVP Mike McVay states, “We are excited to have Craig join Cumulus.  We want the freshest and best minds in the industry…and he is clearly among the best.”  Speaking about his new opportunity, Schwalb says, “The chance to program one of the country’s legendary radio stations, complete with great talent, a great news presence and great influence in a terrific city was a no brainer for me and my family.  I am looking forward to working with Providence market manager Barbara Haynes and of course John Dickey, Mike McVay, Jim Mahaney, and everyone at Cumulus.”

Recent Affiliate Adds Push America’s Radio News Network Past 300 Mark.  In fact, when combined with the TRN/Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” program, the affiliate total jumps past 320 for the news programming offered by Talk Radio Network’s ARNN.  The content syndicator notes that recent affiliate additions in Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Memphis; Ft. Myers/Naples; Charleston, South Carolina; and others for the five three-hour news block programs are indicative of the strong demand for quality news-oriented radio content.

Talk Host Andrew Wilkow to Host Prime Time Show on TheBlaze.  The online TV network TheBlaze – a digital product of Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company – announces SiriusXM talk personality Andrew Wilkow will host a new, one-hour news and talk show to debut later this summer.  TheBlaze says the exact start date and the name of the program will be announced later.  TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood states, “TheBlaze is building a primetime lineup filled with both established talent and the voices of the future. Andrew Wilkow’s strong independence and ‘no sacred cows’ approach to the news, issues and events of the day are perfect fits for TheBlaze as we continue to expand our programming.”  TheBlaze notes it already produces three hours of prime time shows including “the comedy news show ‘The B.S. of A,’ the reality show ‘Independence USA’ and other programming throughout the day led by Glenn’s show, the news show ‘Real News’ and the kid’s show ‘Liberty TreeHouse.’ The network airs over 35 hours of original programming per week and will soon provide video content on a 24/7 basis.”

Talk Icon Larry King’s Internet TV Show Debuts.  Larry King’s new internet TV show – a 30–minute news and interview show – debuted last night with Seth McFarlane as his first guest.  The program is a joint venture between Hulu and Ora TV.  Ora TV is a digital venture being funded by Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim Helu.  In a statement about the new program, Larry King says, “I have always been driven to innovate, from my time on radio, to the first call-in show on national television to being an early adopter of online columns and Twitter…I love being able to interact directly with audiences and digital TV allows me to do this in new and powerful ways.”  This evening, King’s guest will be Meghan McCain with actor Matthew McConaughey on tap for Thursday’s show.

2012 Presidential Campaign, Summer Heatwave/Crops Threatened, Negative Economic Forecasts, Global Debt Crisis and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/17).  The 2012 presidential campaign; the nationwide summer heat wave and the threat to the corn and grains crops; negative economic forecasts; the global debt crisis and the financial markets activities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

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