By Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — When Judith Barrigas called the IRS on May 19, 2015 to discuss the possible misapplication of her income tax refund by the IRS for the year 2014, she had no idea that her 45-minute conversation with IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe would end up being broadcast to the more than 1 million listeners of the Howard Stern show. This unlikely occurrence was due to the fact that apparently prior to taking her call, Forsythe had called the Howard Stern show and, as often is the case, was put on hold. Then, apparently while using another phone line, Forsythe took Barrigas’ call and spoke to her about her income tax issues for approximately 45 minutes without being aware that their conversation was being picked up by the other phone and broadcast to the listeners of the Howard Stern show.
McMahon: Lessons Learned from Rebuilding a Struggling Radio News Station. Consultant Bill McMahon details the myriad reasons he believes people tune in to – and stay with – a radio news station. He explains it in the context of rebuilding a major market news station that had lost its course and dove from being a leader to an also-ran in the ratings. McMahon says that delivering news is the mechanics of what a station does but “news stations are actually in the life enrichment business. News merely provides the vehicle and fuel for helping to make listeners’ lives more interesting, meaningful and fun.” With that, McMahon presents his beliefs about what constitutes meaningful content for listeners in order to attract and keep them. Read it all here.
SiriusXM’s Howard Stern Show Being Sued for Airing of Taxpayer’s IRS Call. This complaint is filed in US. District Court in Massachusetts as the result of an incident that happened on May 19, 2015. The crux of the suit against the IRS and the Howard Stern Production Company is as follows: IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe had called in to the Howard Stern show from his office and was placed on hold. During that time, plaintiff Judith Barrigas called the IRS with a question about “the potential misapplication of her tax refund” for the previous year. At some point, Stern staffers put her discussion with Forsythe on the air, during which Barrigas’ personal information, tax matters, etc. were aired. Barrigas says she learned of what was happening after receiving texts and calls alerting her that her conversation was being broadcast. She complained to the IRS which, she alleges, did nothing until she contacted WCVB-TV, Boston’s consumer helpline. After the TV station contacted the IRS, Forsythe was put on administrative leave. Barrigas claims she’s suffered monetary damages as a result of the incident in addition to various health issues. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, plus a recoup of legal fees.
Seattle Times Piece Highlights Medved’s Independent Prespective. Nationally syndicated talk radio host Michael Medved – whose show is based at Bonneville’s KTTH, Seattle and is distributed by Salem Radio Network – is featured in a story by Seattle Times staff reporter Nina Shapiro. Central to the piece is that Medved is one of a very few conservative talk show hosts who never got on board supporting President Donald Trump’s campaign. Now that Trump is in office, Medved continues to walk his own path – criticizing the administration for what he thinks is bad and praising it for what he thinks is good. Read the Times piece here.
Fresno’s “Power Talk 96.7” Jumps into Sanctuary City Issue. Pictured above is a still from KFSN-TV, Fresno’s coverage of a petition drive spearheaded by news/talk outlet KALZ, Fresno “Power Talk 96.7” requesting that the city’s mayor not allow Fresno to become a sanctuary city. Last night (2/14), the iHeartMedia-owned station held a remote broadcast as part of the signature drive. KALZ host Trevor Carey tells the TV station that he and other citizens are concerned that the mayor’s recent language on the matter was ambiguous, spurring the petition campaign.
West Palm Beach Host Joyce Kaufman Does WH Skype Session. WFTL, West Palm Beach talk show host Joyce Kaufman took part in the latest Skype Session portion of yesterday’s White House press briefing (pictured above). During the session, Kaufman asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer about the security issues relative to President Trump’s receiving word of North Korea’s missile launch while at dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. News outlets have been questioning whether sensitive issues were discussed in the vicinity of other diners, wait-staff, etc., as photos taken by other diners seemed to indicate. Kaufman asked if there is a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) at Mar-a Lago. Spicer answered that there is and it was used by Trump and Abe. She also asked if Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would discuss moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Spicer replied he would not “get ahead of” the president on that one.
TALKERS News Notes. The weekend talk program “Café Mocha” – co-hosted by comedienne and actress Loni Love, hip hop legend YoYo and broadcast veteran Angelique Perrin, and heard on numerous urban-formatted stations across the country – is celebrating its sixth anniversary. At the same time, the program announces that Compass Media Networks is working with the show to handle ad sales…..Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group announces the results of its 2016 Gender Analysis Study. The study was done by PrecisionTrak and concludes that, as of December 31, 2016, out of 11,229 AM and FM radio stations, 1,944 or 17.8% have women holding the general manager position – a 0.5% increase from 2015. In 2016, 31.5% of all stations had a women sales manager – up one full percentage point from the prior year. And in the top 100 markets, 31.4% of the stations have female sales managers. MIW says that the greatest challenge for women in radio management continues to be found in the programming department. Women currently program only 10.7% of all stations in the country, which compares to the same number 10 years ago. The news is better in the top 100 markets where women programmers now represent 12.2%, which is basically flat from last year.
Trump Campaign-Russia Connection/Flynn Resignation, Russian Spy Ship and Missiles Deployed, ICE Raids, Oroville Dam Scare-State of Infrastructure, Kim Jong Un’s Half-Brother Assassinated, Paid Protests Allegations, and NBA-NHL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/14). New allegations the Trump campaign was in contact with Russian officials prior to the election and before the inauguration, plus the related resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; reports of a Russian spy ship near the U.S. coast and the country’s deploying of a missile that reportedly violates current arms treaties; the raids being conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau; the concerns about the stability of a spillway at the Oroville Dam in Northern California and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s statement that the incident is emblematic of the country’s infrastructure issues; allegations that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s half-brother was assassinated with poisoned needles in Malaysia; speculation that the protests at GOP town halls are populated with people paid by Democratic Party operatives; and NBA and NHL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Rock radio pro Jeff Zito returns to Beasley Media Group’s rock WRXK, Fort Myers to host the midday show – 10:00 am to 2:00 pm – and serve as program director. Zito left the station last spring to head north to Tampa to program the company’s then-rock WBRN, Tampa. However, with the exit of Bubba the Love Sponge’s morning show in the fall, the station flipped to adult contemporary at the end of 2016…..The demise of Eric “Shmonty” Ashmont as host of the morning show on Lotus’ alternative KFMA, Tucson “Rock 102.1” has been greatly exaggerated. Yes, it’s true that Shmonty left the Tucson area to return to Rockville, Maryland for family reasons. But, now the station is keeping him on as morning host via remote. On-air producer Beef Vegan produces the show from the studios in Tucson…..In Erie, Pennsylvania, Kwame Dankwa joins Connoisseur Media as program director for CHR WRTS “Star 104.” Dankwa was most recently with iHeartMedia as afternoon personality and APD at CHR KPWK “Power 933.”
State of Radio Audience Measurement Systems to Be Scrutinized at Talkers New York 2015. One of the highlights of the forthcoming Talkers New York 2015 that is sparking a tremendous amount of interest is the high-powered panel, “The State of Radio Ratings.” Moderated by Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel superstar Sean Hannity, the scheduled speakers (in alphabetical order) include: Phil Boyce, SVP Salem Media; Erica Farber, president/CEO RAB; Steve Goldstein, CEO Amplifi Media; Tom Langmyer, VP/GM E.W. Scripps; Jon Miller, VP audience insights Nielsen Audio; and Greg Moceri, CEO Moceri Media. The session will be introduced by Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel host Brian Kilmeade and sponsored by Salem Media. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “Lots of folks are talking about this panel – so much is brewing in the rapidly changing world of radio audience measurement – whether it is Nielsen Audio making moves to unify over-the-air and online listening or the emergence of interesting new inventions such as the Voltair system and the evolution of PPM…this event will be loaded with provocative questions, answers and takeaways.” The 18th annual installment of longest-running and most important national talk media industry convention takes place on Friday, June 12 at the historic India House in Manhattan’s financial district. Although sold out, the event still has several sponsorship opportunities still available. For information call 413-565-5413. To see the latest updated agenda, please click here.
Jeremy Sinon Named Corporate Digital Director for Hubbard Broadcasting. This is a promotion to the corporate level for Jeremy Sinon who has been serving as the digital director for Hubbard Radio’s Twin Cities operations. He will continue in that role in addition to his new post as corporate digital director. The company says that in this position Sinon will work closely with Hubbard EVP/chief financial officer Dave Bestler and president/COO Drew Horowitz to “oversee day-to-day corporate digital initiatives as well as the strategy for Hubbard Radio’s long-term digital goals.” Speaking about his new position, Sinon says, “It’s really an honor to be given this opportunity to help lead the digital efforts for a company that I care so much about. When I started at Hubbard in 2006 I was one of the first digitally focused hires the company ever made. It amazes me every day when I look around and see how much we’ve grown since. I’m excited about the future. We have really big things in store for us.” Prior to the last nine years with Hubbard Radio, Sinon was a digital director for the iHeartMedia radio group in Minneapolis and worked at the digital agency Omnera.
Howard Stern Show at Center of IRS-Privacy Issue. In a case that some might say could only happen on SiriusXM’s Howard Stern show, an IRS staffer has allegedly caused some headaches for the agency that could result in a lawsuit. Here’s the story: an IRS employee was on the phone with a woman who had called with a question about her tax situation. Unbeknownst to her, the staffer was also on hold waiting to get onto the Howard Stern show as “Jimmy from Long Island.” At some point, the call between the taxpayer and “Jimmy” was put on the show but the staffer didn’t realize it. Stern let the call air for a few minutes before trying to alert “Jimmy” that his call was on the program. After the segment was over, the female taxpayer began receiving texts and emails from people telling her that her personal information was broadcast on the Howard Stern show. She is now threatening a lawsuit – against the IRS. Remember, the FCC doesn’t regulate satellite radio in the same way it does AM/FM radio and it appears Stern did nothing wrong. For its part, the IRS has released a statement that it’s aware of the situation and puts taxpayer privacy very high on its list of priorities and promises it is investigating the matter.
Odds & Sods. The former longtime radio voice of Michigan Wolverines football, Frank Beckman, tells his WJR, Detroit audience that his 9:00 am to 12:00 noon talk show will continue as he and owner Cumulus Media have agreed to a three-year extension to his current contract…..SiriusXM is broadcasting this weekend’s college lacrosse action. The satcaster says it will present the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Semifinals and National Championship game live from Lincoln Financial Field in Philly on Saturday and Monday…..CBS RADIO all-news KNX, Los Angeles “1070 NEWSRADIO” continues its “KNX On Your Corner” series that takes in-depth looks at Southern California communities in Downey on June 12. The daylong live remote broadcast will emanate from popular local meeting place Porto’s Bakery & Cafe.
Stephanopoulos Clinton Donations Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of May 18-22. The issue of ABC TV’s George Stephanopoulos making donations to the Clinton Family Foundation without disclosing it to the network or the public was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. At #2 this week was the 2016 presidential prospects tied with Iraq policy questions. Coming in at #3 was the Hillary Clinton private emails matter followed by ISIS’ taking of Ramadi and Palmyra 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
WAKR, Akron’s Chuck Collins Dies After Battle with Cancer. The Northeast Ohio radio pro was just 62 years old and had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013. Chuck Collins was most recently operations manager and a talk host for Rubber City Radio’s WAKR, Akron. As part of his OM duties he also was in charge of rock WONE-FM and country WQMX.
A Visit from Richie Aprile. Pictured here are CBS Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb (left) and actor David Proval (right) in the CBS Sports Radio studios. Proval – well known to “The Sopranos” fans as Richie Aprile – stopped by the show to talk about his work on the HBO series, his experience in “The Shawshank Redemption” and his current role in the play, “Queen For a Day,” at the Theatre at St. Clement’s in New York City running through July 26.
The 40th Annual Gracie Awards. Arriving at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday (5/19) was the Alliance for Women in Media Board and AWM Foundation Board. Pictured here (from l-r) are: Josie Thomas, EVP & chief diversity officer at CBS Corporation; Karla Ballard, SVP at Participant Media (and Gracies co-chair); Michelle Duke, vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation; Christine McLaughlin, broadcast lawyer at Sciarrino & Shubert , PLLC; Christine Travaglini, president of Christal Radio/KRG Partnerships; Kristen Welch, SVP, Global Content Operations at Discovery Communications, Inc. (and AWM Chair); Kay Olin, consultant at Olin & Associates (and past AWM Chair); Valerie Blackburn, VKB Media Consulting, (Gracies co-chair and past AWM Chair); Jill Luckett, senior vice president of Program Network Policy, National Cable & Telecommunications Association; Sandy Girard, VP, Brand Management & Development, SiriusXM; and Heather Cohen, EVP at The Weiss Agency.
By Phil Valentine
Talk Show Host
NASHVILLE — The revelation on Friday (5/10) that the IRS was targeting conservative groups came as a shock to much of America, especially those on the right side of the aisle. Once the story broadened on Monday to include more groups and more abuse it became apparent that there’s something big going on here. For me, it was all simply a confirmation of something I’ve been experiencing for some time. In fact, I’ve been chronicling the experience on my radio show.
A couple of years ago I began getting inquiries from the IRS. They wanted me to explain certain items I’d taken as deductions. I had the same experience back in the mid-‘90s when I first moved to Philadelphia. I’m sure this isn’t the technical term for it but for lack of a better label I was “mail-audited” three times in 18 months. This was during the Clinton administration and I figured when I landed in Philadelphia to do talk radio I also landed on the administration’s radar. Again, it was petty stuff like making me dig up receipts from prior tax years and fill out all sorts of annoying forms. Once I satisfied the requests for one year another inquiry for another year would begin almost immediately.
Industry Mourns Death of Dr. Joyce Brothers. Before there was a Dr. Laura Schlessinger or a Dr. Joy Browne on the radio and in talk media, there was a Dr. Joyce Brothers. Named by TALKERS magazine as the 72nd most important radio talk show host of all time (“Heaviest Hundred”), Joyce Bauer Brothers, the mother of media psychology, died yesterday at the age of 85 surrounded by her family. The cause of death has not been disclosed. Dr. Joyce Brothers exploded into the public conscience in 1955 after appearing on the TV game show “The $64,000 Question,” the most popular program at the time. She was the second person to ever win the entire payment and she was the first woman. Those qualities alone may have made her an instant celebrity, but add into the mix this unexpected element: she answered obscure questions on the subject of boxing while pitted up against boxers. After that, she landed an opportunity to do commentary for CBS Sports during a boxing match between Carmen Basilio and Sugar Ray Robinson. Thus began her television career. By 1958, Dr. Brothers was hosting a new kind of television talk show – one where she took mailed-in questions from viewers on the subjects of love, marriage, childrearing, and sex. It was that last subject during an innocent era of the late 1950s which summoned the NBC executives into the control room one day. They sweated through her response to a question about premature ejaculation and then waited for the calls to come in – calls of complaints. In the book Making Waves, the 50 Greatest Women in Radio and Television, Dr. Brothers says, “Their white faces drained of blood, and they were waiting for phone calls of complaints and horror.” Sure enough the calls did come in – but “were all positive – men saying ‘This is something I’ve had all my life and you’ve helped me.’” There was not one complaint among them, she recalled. And from that point forward, “I went on my own way and I was on my own way,” a path that lasted decades during which she was often cited as one of the most admired women in America. Her ability to take private issues public with genuine compassion, grace and intelligence — and never embarrass or offend someone – was the key to her connection to the viewer and listener. The only topic she declined to ever discuss? “Mental illness,” she once explained. “I am not trying to do therapy on the air. If I think there is even a possibility that people need therapy, I suggest they seek professional help.” Though her media career began in television, she made a significant foray into radio on NBC Radio/Westwood One and is widely credited with spearheading the call-in psychology shows that became a traditional genre of talk radio. Over the years, she appeared frequently as a guest on talk shows such as “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Dr. Brothers also landed numerous television roles – many of which were comedic cameo appearances on sitcoms and even ended up in an animated version of herself on “The Simpsons.” She was the author of nine books including most recently Widow, in which she dispenses advice to women who have lost a husband (hers died in 1989). Her articles have appeared in Readers’ Digest, Good Housekeeping and Parade. Born to attorney-parents who worked together in their own law practice, Dr. Brothers grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens. She credits her off-the-charts memory for her ability to cite details for things she only read once. Not only did she skip two grades in high school, but then she went on to graduate with honors. After winning a scholarship to Cornell University where she was forced to major in Home Economics (to retain the scholarship), she discovered psychology and achieved a double-major. She went on to get her doctorate at Columbia University. Dr. Brothers married medical student Milton Brothers in 1949 and left a teaching position in 1955 at Hunter College in New York City to be a stay-at-home mother for her newborn daughter. It was when their money got tight that Dr. Brothers hoped to take home the prize from “The 64,000 Question.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Dr. Joy Browne Credits Pioneer Dr. Joyce Brothers with Making Psychology Accessible. One of the leading radio psychologists of the last quarter century, Dr. Joy Browne (syndicated 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm daily by Radio America) tells TALKERS, that in addition to the media pioneer being an enormous influence on her career, not to mention talk radio and TV in general, the late Dr. Joyce Brothers was a giant figure in America popular culture because “she made psychology accessible to the masses.” Browne, who worked on a number of occasions with Brothers, describes the legendary broadcaster as being one of the “most focused people I’ve ever met in this business.” Browne recalls, “Dr. Joyce Brothers could accomplish almost anything she wanted to do simply by putting her brilliant mind to it…whether it was remembering minutia about boxing to win a game show… to knowing exactly what to do to promote her books… to distilling complex topics down to their basic essence so people could understand them. She had an amazingly disciplined mind.”
Talk Host Phil Valentine Alleges Experiencing IRS Harassment as Political Payback. In an op-ed piece posted today (5/14) exclusive to TALKERS, Nashville-based Cumulus Media syndicated conservative host Phil Valentine claims that he has been repeatedly audited by the IRS over a number of years for no wrongdoing on his part which he believes is tied to his on-air political positions. He also says that he has spoken a number of his liberal friends on radio who’ve told him they have experienced the same thing. He writes, “The revelation on Friday (5/10) that the IRS was targeting conservative groups came as a shock to much of America, especially those on the right side of the aisle. Once the story broadened on Monday to include more groups and more abuse it became apparent that there’s something big going on here. For me, it was all simply a confirmation of something I’ve been experiencing for some time. In fact, I’ve been chronicling the experience on my radio show.” Valentine encourages fellow talk show hosts who have been experiencing the same thing but are afraid to complain because of how “frightening” the IRS can be, to stand up and come forward. To read his entire opinion piece, please click here.
Some On-Air Do’s And Don’ts from a Leading Consultant. One of the hardest-working consultants (and TALKERS columnist) in the radio business today, Holland Cooke shares some helpful tips to sharpening up on-air performance (sort of like an old “aircheck meeting”) and keeping people listening longer. In a new article posted today (5/14) Cooke suggests prepping better, listening better (while on the air), and speaking in the second person singular. He advises not to talk like a radio guy (avoid terms like “remote” broadcast – people think a remote is what they use to change TV channels), do not waste listeners’ time, and SEDUCE listeners into giving you more of their time. Cooke writes, “The way Arbitron ratings are calculated – diaries or PPM — keeping listeners even just five more minutes each time they tune in could as much as DOUBLE your ratings. So when you tease, really tease!” To read Holland Cooke’s entire column, click here.
John Curley Back on Evenings at KIRO-FM, Seattle. The night shift was the original slot John Curley had when he joined Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle but he moved to morning drive in November of 2012. Just two months later the station replaced him in AM drive with Dave Ross and he’s been off the air since. Now, program director Pete Gammell pairs Curley up with current evening host Andrew Walsh. Gammell says in a statement, “With John’s comfortable style and storytelling skills he naturally fits well in a nighttime setting. Partner John’s entertaining approach with Andrew’s newsy perspective and you have a completely new dynamic and compelling show.”
Inga Barks Adds PM Drive Show to Hosting Responsibilities. Bakersfield, California-based talk radio personality Inga Barks begins hosting the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program on Buckley Broadcasting’s KNZR, Bakersfield. She’ll handle this program in addition to her evening talk show heard on Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ-AM, Fresno. Barks previously worked in the Bakersfield market on American Media General’s news/talk KERN.
Las Vegas Talk Personality Heidi Harris Debuts Daily Feature. Las Vegas-based talk show host Heidi Harris – most recently heard in Los Angeles on Salem Communications’ KRLA – is producing a daily feature dubbed the “Heidi Harris Files” that is airing on Silver State Broadcasting’s news/talk KBET. The three- minute vignette will air on KBET three times daily at 7:30 am, 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm. Harris has also worked at CBS Radio‘s KXNT and Beasley Broadcasting‘s KDWN in the Las Vegas market.
Bruce Newbury to Host Local Show on WADK, Newport, Rhode Island. 3G Broadcasting is adding a local program to its news/talk WADK, Newport with Bruce Newbury hosting his “Talk of the Town” show. Newbury also hosts a weekend food and cooking show on Cumulus Media’s WPRV, Providence and he’ll continue in that role. Newbury’s 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program will debut on May 22.
New York Festivals Announces 2013 Radio Programs and Promo Awards Finalists. This international competition isn’t limited to spoken-word programs as the list of categories indicates, but many of the categories include news, long-form and community service components in the spoken-word realm. As you’ll notice by scanning the list of finalists from the United States (which will compete with finalists from other countries with winners announced June 17 in New York) many programming finalists were produced at public radio stations or companies. However, commercial broadcasters including ESPN and SiriusXM were well represented. ESPN had finalist entries including the “Best News Documentary or Special” for “Outside the Lines and The Sporting Life: A Fight for Faith.” SiriusXM was also represented as it was a finalist with “Best Interview” for “Bob Edwards Talks with Children’s Book Author Jack Gantos,” among others. Bloomquist Media is a finalist in both the “Community Service” and “Profiles/Community Portraits” categories for “A Grateful Nation.” See the entire list of finalists here.
Two Generations of Hayworth Men Grace San Diego. Talk radio personality (and former Arizona Congressman) J.D. Hayworth is currently co-host of the morning drive program alongside Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton on XEPRS, San Diego “The Mighty 1090.” On a recent visit to the station’s partners in downtown San Diego – Fox Sports San Diego – J.D. Hayworth noticed a huge black and white photo of Babe Ruth crossing home plate. Hayworth tells TALKERS magazine, “Imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw this HUGE photo of my grandfather, Ray Hayworth, a catcher for the Detroit Tigers, reaching to tag Babe Ruth at home plate! My grandfather greets passersby outside the building, while the Bambino’s image is seen inside the lobby!”
Obama Benghazi Reaction, IRS Target Allegations, Justice Department AP Phone Records Search, Syria Tensions, and Philly Abortion Doctor Found Guilty Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/13). The president’s reaction to recent Benghazi testimony and the GOP’s push to continue searching for answers; the IRS’ alleged targeting of conservative groups; the Justice Department’s investigation into phone records at the Associated Press; ongoing tensions in Syria; and the conviction of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.