Tag: "John Carlson"

Friday, May 30, 2014

| May 30, 2014

newsthatmakesyouthinkXtreMEDIA Debuts News Package.  This short-form news package is titled, “The News That Makes You Think,” and is the fourth broadcast venture from entrepreneur Kevin McCullough.  The XtreMEDIA chief hosts nationally syndicated daily shows as well as amcculloughkevin WMCA, New York program.  He says the new feature is designed for morning drive and middays on affiliate stations.  “The content is designed to offer a substantive look at national, political, and human interest stories.  But every newscast will also provide information important to families and people of faith.  And at the end of the day it’s about telling great stories!”  The venture will launch June 2 on WMCA during morning drive.  The product is a combined venture of XtreMEDIA Broadcasts and TheBingeThinker.com.  McCullough adds, “We expect this to take off quickly.  We’ve had requests from stations taking our other shows asking for it for a while but it has been configuring logistics that has slowed the roll out.”  For information and market availability, reach out to Kevin McCullough at: kmc@x3media.net.

dibblerobRob Dibble Comes Home to Connecticut for PM Drive at WUCS, Hartford.  Former MLB star Rob Dibble is taking over the afternoon drive show on Clear Channel’s sports talk WUCS, Hartford “97.9 ESPN” as host of “The Rob Dibble Show with Paul Nanos.”  The 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm program will be simulcast on Clear Channel’s WAVZ, New Haven “ESPN 1300.”  Dibble – son of award-winning Connecticut radio newsman Walt Dibble – has worked in broadcasting since retiring from baseball in 1996.  He most recently worked for Fox Sports Radio Network.  He’s also done stints as ESPN, Fox Sports TV and SiriusXM.  Dibble comments, “After years of being in the broadcast industry and working around the country, it was always my dream to follow in my father’s footsteps and broadcast out of the great state where I was born.  Connecticut has the most passionate sports fans anywhere and I’m lucky to be a part of it with ’97.9 ESPN’ and ‘ESPN 1300!’”

schramkenSeattle Talk Media Personality Ken Schram Dead at 66.  Longtime KOMO, Seattle personality Ken Schram died at age 66 after a long illness.  Schram worked for 35 years at KOMO-AM, Seattle before exiting the station in 2012.  He had been handling fill-in duties with Bonneville’s KIRO-FM prior to being hospitalized last fall after suffering kidney failure.  During his Seattle career, Schram also worked at KOMO-TV.  During his time with KOMO-AM, he co-hosted the left-right “The Commentators” program taking the progressive stance against conservative foil John Carlson.

younglarryWOLB, Baltimore Hosts Gubernatorial Debate.  Next Thursday morning, Radio One Baltimore’s news/talk WOLB will host a gubernatorial debate on the “Larry Young Morning Show.”  Host Larry Young will moderate the debate in which candidates Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Del. Heather Mizeur, and Attorney Gen. Doug Gansler will take part.  The debate will air live from 8:00 am to 9:30 am.  The debate will be simulcast on the company’s gospel WWIN “Spirit 1400” and sister news/talk WOL, Washington.

kasemcaseyBill to Give Children Access to Ailing Parents Moves Forward.  It’s not named after radio legend Casey Kasem, but bill number AB 2034 certainly was the result of work between California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Kasem’s daughter Kerri.  Broadcasters are aware of the problems Kasem’s children have faced trying to see their father who is struggling with a form of dementia called Lewy Body Disease.  Jean Kasem has refused to allow visits from Kasem’s children from his first marriage.  Bill AB 2032 passed the Assembly on a 70-0 vote.  The bill seeks to protect children from being denied access to a parent by a parent’s future spouse or child.  Assemblyman Gatto says, “Conflict among family members is the last thing our loved ones want to see as they approach their final hours.  I hope this bill will help decrease the heartache and stress of families already facing difficult circumstances…The law must do more to keep up with the changing norms of modern families.  AB 2034 brings the law into the 21st century and allows family members to focus on caring for their loved ones.”

firstlight logoWestwoodOne’s ‘First Light’ Celebrates 25 Years.  The early morning news magazine “First Light” with Dirk Van is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Monday, June 2.  Van, host of the show since its debut in 1989, says, “What an honor to be on the air for a quarter century, hosting a show with so many great affiliates – not to mention getting an earful from listeners each day.  I’ve always felt I just guided this program along from day to day.  The real stars are the First Light crew: producer David Oziel, the man with the Devorecast – Dean Devore, our sports geek Robert Workman, Marketwatcher Charlie Turner, and our peerless movie critic Chuck Rich.”

custerchuckChuck Custer Celebrates 30 Years at WGY, Albany.  Morning drive co-host and program director Chuck Custer is celebrating 30 years with Albany market news/talker WGY.  It was Memorial Day weekend in 1984 when Custer began working for the station anchoring evening newscasts.  Since that time he’s served as morning news anchor alongside the legendary Don Weeks, as news director and now program director and morning show co-host with Kelly Lynch.  Custer says of his career at the Clear Channel station, “I’ve been truly blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love to do, at a great station, with a group of people – past and present – who mean so much to me.”

smithlaurarestLaura Smith on the Wall of Fame.  WABC, New York talk personality Laura Smith has been honored in a most unusual way after interviewing Palm Restaurant manager Nick Maracz.  Smith tells TALKERS she spoke with Maracz on the radio about the famous New York City eatery on her show “The Saturday Café.”  A couple of weeks went by and she received the picture you see here showing her caricature right next to Liza Minelli!  Smith says, “The restaurant has been there for 80 years and back in the day, when all the syndicated newspapers and comic book illustrators would go there for lunch but couldn’t afford to pay, they would draw pictures on the wall in exchange for food.”

boschgracieSavoring the Gracie.  Pictured here holding her Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media at the 39th Annual Gracie Awards Gala in Beverly Hills last week is CBS Radio News correspondent Heather Bosch.  Bosch was honored for her work in the Soft News Feature category for her story on “Autism on Broadway.”  The judges said her submission displayed superior quality in writing, production and programming.  Heather has won multiple national awards since joining CBS three years ago after an illustrious career at KIRO-FM, Seattle.

UCSB Killings/Gun Laws Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 26-30.  The deadly shootings at University of California Santa Barbara and the debate over gun laws in America that followed were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 was the VA Hospitals scandal.  Coming in at #3 was the dip in the GDP and the state of the U.S. economy followed by the Edward Snowden interview 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.

Monday, February 10, 2014

| February 10, 2014

francesamikeWFAN, New York’s Mike Francesa Show to Air on Cable’s Fox Sports 1.  According to a report by Neil Best in Newsday, sources indicate the cable TV simulcast of New York sports talk icon Mike Francesa’s afternoon drive sports talk program will be Fox’s fledgling Fox Sports 1 cable channel.  The deal that had Francesa’s program simulcast on the Fox-owned and Yankees-operated YES Network for the past 12 years ended last week and though the MSG Network was anticipated being the eventual destination for Francesa’s show, the official news of the Fox Sports 1 deal could come sometime this week.  Best writes that Fox presumably wants Francesa’s show to help raise its visibility even though it’s a New York-centric show.  Interestingly, WEPN-FM’s afternoon host Michael Kay is now seen in Francesa’s old slot on YES and if Francesa does land on Fox Sports 1, the two shows will appear on side-by-side channels 69 and 70 on New York’s Cablevision system.

compasslogoWall Street Journal and MarketWatch Radio Networks Outsource Affiliate Relations and Marketing to Compass Media Networks.  Executive editor for the Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch Radio Networks John Wordock says in a memo to affiliate stations, “We are deeply committed to our audio business and appreciate our partnership with your station…The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch Radio Networks will continue to provide the best money news coverage in the business, from Wall Street to Main Street to your street.  Together, Dow Jones and Compass look forward to working with you and your station and we’re both dedicated to providing top-notch customer service.”  This move to take the affiliate relations and marketing department out of house is not entirely unexpected after the cuts the company made in the fall eliminating executive positions within that department.

levinmarkMark Levin to Keynote Tea Party Anniversary Celebration.  Nationally syndicated talk show host Mark Levin will serve as the keynote speaker at the five-year anniversary celebration of the Tea Party Patriots taking place in Washington, DC on February 27.  Levin, whose program is syndicated by Cumulus Media Networks, says, “The Tea Party, which consists of millions of hard-working taxpayers, is to be celebrated not condemned.  The ruling class must be trounced and its media cheerleaders must be exposed if the republic is to survive.  The Tea Party is our only hope.  It’s a great honor to be asked to speak to such outstanding and courageous patriots.”  Other high-profile participants include: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.

schnitttoddTodd Schnitt: Not the Same-Old, Same-Old.  Nationally syndicated talk show host Todd Schnitt credits his background in CHR radio and his passion for finding the topics that intrigue him that he believes will also intrigue his listeners for making his show a different-sounding sort of conservative talk radio show.  TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian’s profile of the man who worked for years as the successful “MJ Kelli” at Clear Channel’s WFLZ, Tampa before branching into drive time talk radio at sister station WFLA delves into the mind of a personality working to grow his national program in the post-Sandra Fluke era.  Schnitt says, “My feelings have been bolstered by many experts and consultants in the field regarding the burn on conservative talk radio…You hear the same pounding on Democrats and liberals every single day.  It is to the point with a bunch of hosts in my space where you can pull one of their shows from last month and it would sound the same as what they are saying today.  I have always approached a talk radio show so that it fits on any conservative radio station, but with more of an intrinsic entertainment value.”  Read Mike Kinosian’s story here.

mckayjeffTALKERS Launches Three-Part Special Today, Tomorrow and Wednesday (2/10-12) Spotlighting Danno Wolkoff and Envision Networks.  Like many people who go to college with a plan for what they want to do when they graduate, Danno Wolkoff went to Syracuse University with a goal of winding up in television production.  Fate, and the prodding from senior management at MJI Broadcasting instead sent him in the direction of sales and affiliate relations.  Wolkoff discovered he had a gift for sales, and doubled his income in one year.  It was through sales and affiliate relations work that he climbed the corporate ladder at MJI, expanding and growing their sales offices nationwide.  When Clear Channel acquired MJI and merged it into Premiere Radio Networks (now simply “Premiereenvisionnetworks new Networks”), he became VP of affiliate relations.  However, it wasn’t long before he began to realize that the hands-on and creative approach he had at MJI wasn’t translating to the growth concepts and business model of Premiere and Clear Channel.  Wolkoff faced a career crossroads and would make a decision that would change his life and become an important source of programming and services for radio.  His vision was “Envision Radio Networks,” (now simply “Envision Networks”) — a highly successful and forward-thinking company that creates over four wolkoffdannodozen content products and services for radio stations and media outlets nationwide, customizing solutions for clients, producers and affiliates.  It was a company literally founded after another syndication and programming company decided they had a good product that despite making money, didn’t make enough money for their bottom line.  What Wolkoff has accomplished in the span of just 10 years is inspiring and a textbook example of creating a force for productivity and jobs in an industry.  He took the biggest gamble of his life, grabbing a program and three people laid off by an established firm that would become his largest competitor, and growing an independent syndication empire serving over 1,500 radio stations with everything from prep services to music shows, local news and information to weekend talk shows.  His staff has grown over 20-fold in a decade to include an array of producers, salespeople and contract staffers researching, producing, creating and selling more than four-dozen products to radio stations in both the largest and smallest markets.  Now known simply as Envision Networks (they dropped the word “Radio” this past week – more on that later) continues to not only grow, embracing new technology and catering to those needs, but in the process has become an independent force in syndication.  In the words of Michael Harrison, “The emergence of special individuals like Danno Wolkoff is the force that propels an industry such as ours forward.  I’ve seen this movie many times before.  Danno is the kind of guy who has the makings of being a true giant 10 years down the pike, taking his place among the biggest of the big.”  To read part one of TALKERS special features correspondent Jeff McKay’s extensive profile “The Vision of Envision: The Rise of Radio Syndication Entrepreneur Danno Wolkoff and an Emerging Independent Powerhouse” please click here.

cbslocalmediaCBS Reports Record Digital Traffic Month.  It’s a new record for a single month as CBS Local Digital Media reports its websites and mobile applications attracted 56.8 million unique users during January topping the previous all-time high of 50.6 million in April 2013.  The January 2014 number was up 37% compared to a year ago.  CBS Local is happy with its performance in this arena last year reporting year-to-year growth of 21% in average unique users per month.  CBS Local Media COO Anton Guitano says, “Our continued integration of digital into all parts of our local business is yielding dividends.  The great mobile presence our stations have via mobile websites, Radio.com and CBS Local apps creates a presence that gives the consumer a great user experience.”

larsonlarsLars Larson’s Busy Week: Subbing for KVI’s John Carlson; Keynoting Nevada Republican Dinner.  There are few in the talk radio business who work harder than talk show host Lars Larson.  Lars tells TALKERS that in addition to his regular radio programs – middays on Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL, Portland and nationally syndicated from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET via Compass Media Networks – he’s filling in on morning drive today and tomorrow (2/10-11) on KVI, Seattle for John Carlson.  This evening he’ll be hosting a station event for KXL and then heads to Reno on Thursday to do both regular shows from affiliate KKFT-FM before keynoting the Washoe County Republicans’ annual Lincoln Dinner on Friday.  Lars reports he’ll be able to fly home in time on Friday to spend Valentine’s weekend with his “very patient wife,” Tina.

smerconishmichaelMichael Smerconish Jumps to CNN.  The SiriusXM talk show host is leaving MSNBC and will join up with CNN for a role that includes regular appearances during the week providing analysis and commentary plus a weekly Saturday morning program, reports the Washington Posts’s Eric Wemple.  In a release, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker says, “We are thrilled to have Michael join CNN.  At a time when the cable news landscape has become increasingly polarized, his independence and passion for reasoned dialogue makes him the perfect fit for CNN.”  Smerconish joins CNN at a time of flux.  Zucker has been making programming changes to reverse the cable news/talk channel’s floundering ratings.  CNN announced recently it is cancelling Anderson Cooper’s “AC 360 Later.”

comptonawardHonoring Ann.  ABC News Radio White House correspondent Ann Compton (left) is pictured here at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 70th Annual Congressional Dinner on February 5 at which she was honored with the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.  The award recognizes an individual whose outstanding accomplishments promote the journalistic profession and enhance the role of women journalists.

richertlarryOdds & Sods.  The Akron Beacon Journal reports that weekend and fill-in host Bob Early resigned from his position with WNIR-FM, Akron after a disagreement over a guest for his weekend talk show.  Early hosted the Saturday and Sunday evening show on the station and he tells the paper he and management were not in agreement about Early booking the owner of an erotic goods chain on his program.  Read the whole story here…..Patrick Ryan joins Magnum Broadcasting to serve as general manager for talk WEEO-FM,ryanpatrick Chambersburg, Pennsylvania/ Hagerstown, Maryland and corporate brands strategist.  Ryan was most recently local sales manager at Albany Broadcasting.  He says, “I’m thrilled to put my talk radio expertise back to work and look forward to buying-building new brands with Michael Stapleford and his incredible team.”…..KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh morning host Larry Richert announced that Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly will serve as the keynote speaker at his “Larry Richert Honors Our Hometown Heroes” event at the Lexus Club at PNC Park on Thursday, March 6.  The annual even created by Richert honors five ordinary individuals in the community who have done extraordinary things and it benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

| August 30, 2012

Fisher Communications Re-Aligns News and Talk Programming in Seattle; KOMO to Air More News, KVI to Return to Conservative Talk.  After 20 months away from conservative talk programming, Fisher Communications’ KVI, Seattle – reputed to be the first station to intentionally program all-conservative talk in America – returns to that format with local talk host John Carlson moving over from KOMO to host morning drive at KVI.  When the lineup is finally in place, Carlson will be followed by TRN’s Laura Ingraham; Compass Media NetworksTodd Schnitt; Cumulus Media NetworksMark Levin; Compass’ Lars Larson; TRN’s Michael Savage; and Cumulus Media’s “Red Eye Radio” and Don Imus will round out the overnight period.  PD Paul Duckworth states, “KVI stands for the best in conservative talk in Seattle.  This is going to be one of the most hotly contested elections in history and people need a place to hear about it and talk about it.  Get set for an exciting ride!”  Meanwhile at KOMO-AM/FM, Bill Rice anchors the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart and Brian Calvert anchors the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot.  Ken Schram – who had been hosting a talk show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm—remains with Fisher in his role as commentator on KOMO 4 television.  Both Carlson and Schram will continue to provide daily commentaries on KOMO Newsradio.

Is Jim Rome Leaving Premiere Networks for CBS Radio Sports?  That’s what Deadline.com is reporting.  Jim Rome has been syndicated by Premiere Networks since he debuted nationally back in 1996.  Recently he left ESPN – the cable giant that produced his television program – and signed on with the upstart cable venture CBS Sports Network.  Now, Deadline is reporting Rome will leave Premiere when his contract is up and join the CBS Radio Sports network when it debuts in January and that the deal will also allow him to cover NFL, NCAA basketball and U.S. Open Tennis Championships, and other events.

Dial Global Responds to Mark Masters’ TRN Lawsuit — Calls it “Frivolous,” “Spurious.”  In a statement issued to the radio industry trade press, Spencer Brown, co-chief executive officer of Dial Global, states: “Despite the comments in Mr. Masters’ e-mail to the press distributed yesterday in which he announced his company Talk Radio Networks (TRN) is suing Dial Global, at this time, Dial Global has not been served a complaint. We have provided outstanding service to TRN for over 10 years and continue to represent several of TRN’s programs today. Based on the information contained in the complaint distributed by Mr. Masters to the press, which complaint was filed by a law firm run by Ron Severaid, TRN’s own internal legal counsel, we believe the complaint is entirely frivolous. We are confident we will defeat these spurious claims, assuming they are ever heard in a court of law.”

Lincoln Financial Media’s Sports WAXY Takes Over 104.3 in West Palm Beach.  As reported last week, the announced sale of WMSF, West Palm Beach to Lincoln Financial Media for use as an FM signal for sports talker WAXY would give LFM the right to operate under an LMA until the sale is approved by the FCC and that happened yesterday at 5:00 pm ET.  The 104.3 signal remains in the West Palm Beach market while the application to move it to the Miami market sits in Washington, DC with the commission.  Until the time that move happens, the station cannot broadcast Marlins or Heat games on the FM signal as Good Karma’s WEFL, Tequesta, Florida has the rights in the West Palm Beach market.

Crawford Broadcasting to Purchase Non-Comm WNED, Buffalo.  Western New York Public Broadcasting Association announces it is selling WNED-AM, Buffalo at 970 to Denver-based Crawford Broadcasting for $875,000.  The pubcaster purchased WBFO-FM, Buffalo from the University of Buffalo in March for $4 million and president and CEO Donald K. Boswell says the corporation no longer needs the AM frequency for its programming.  He also states the cash from the sale will go to pay down debt on the WBFO-FM purchase.  WNED also owns WNED-FM that airs a classical music format and WBFO-FM carries the corporation’s news and information programming.  Crawford programs both Christian and secular programming and has not signaled its intent for WNED-AM after the sale is approved.

Entercom’s 95.7 The Game Names Ric Bucher PM Drive Co-Host.  With Eric Davis leaving KGMZ, San Francisco to join The NFL Network, Entercom’s 95.7 The Game brings Ric Bucher aboard to co-host the PM drive show with Brandon Tierney.  Program director Jason Barrett states, “Ric Bucher’s credentials in our industry speak for themselves and he’s instantly recognized locally and nationally for his great work with ESPN.  Bay Area sports fans are going to learn quickly that he’s a 20-year Bay Area native and his passion and knowledge for our local teams is outstanding.  Ric and Brandon Tierney will be an absolute must-listen during afternoon drive for Bay Area sports fans.”  Bucher will continue his role with ESPN as a Bay Area NBA reporter and senior writer covering hoops for ESPN The Magazine.  He begins at KGMZ on September 6.

WFAN, New York Crowns Fantasy Phenom 3 Winner.  CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York announces the winner of its third annual local talent search who receives a weekly sports talk program on the station beginning in September.  Joe Giglio of Howell, New Jersey bested his competitors to claim the prize in the summer-long promotion.  WFAN operations manager and CBS Radio New York vice president of programming Mark Chernoff says, “We’ve been very pleased with our first two winners and look forward to Joe doing a great job this time around.  We thank all of our participants and special kudos to our five finalists, who had to perform both for a huge radio audience on WFAN, but also to our online listeners at WFAN.com, our YES TV viewers and the few thousand people who saw them live at Bar A.”

Hubbard Radio’s ESPN 101 St. Louis Presents Inaugural Speaker Series Event with St. Louis Rams Today.  WXOS, St. Louis is launching its speaker series with today’s “Game-Day Luncheon” with the St. Louis Rams from 11:30 to 1:30 at the local Patrick’s Restaurant & Sports Bar.  Fans can pay $25 per head to attend and hear St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, general manager Les Sneed, and executive vice president of football operations/chief operating officer Kevin Demoff talk about the new season.  Rams Radio personalities and NFL commentators D’Marco Farr, coach Rick Venturi, Tony Softli and Steve Savard – along with other 101 ESPN on-air personnel – will be on-hand at this special game day gathering with the Rams.  The event takes place on the same day as the Rams’ last pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Odds & Sods.  Former Miami Dolphin great Jason Taylor begins a stint on WAXY, Miami’s Dan Le Batard PM drive show.  He’ll join Le Batard each Monday to talk NFL football during the season…..David Todd is the new 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm host on Clear Channel’s sports talk WBGG, Pittsburgh…..“Watchdog on Wall Street” host Chris Markowski begins a regular guest shot on the “Butler on Buisiness” program on WAFS, Atlanta.  He’ll join the program each Wednesday at 11:35 am…..Washington, DC-based talk host Chris Core – for years a star on WMAL and currently doing commentary on WTOP – will fill in for Michael Castner, host of “The Daily Wrap from The Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner” tomorrow…..Retired NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson signs on with SiriusXM to host weekly shows on the SiriusXM NFL Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels.

Republican National Convention, Isaac Stalls Over Gulf Coast, SEAL’s Bin Laden Book and Syria Among Top News Talk Stories Yesterday (8/29).  The Republican National Convention and election issues dominated the news/talk radio airwaves yesterday.  However, other topics that were discussed included Tropical Storm Isaac stalling over the gulf Coast and bringing devastating rain to the region, the Navy SEAL’s book about the death of Osama bin Laden and the ongoing strife in Syria.

 

Monday, April 2, 2012

| April 2, 2012

Programmer Paul Duckworth Returns to Seattle to Lead Fisher’s KOMO.  News/talk programming pro Paul Duckworth returns to the Emerald City, where he formerly led the programming department at Fisher Communications’ KOMO and KVI, to once again head up news radio KOMO.  He left Seattle in 2002 and programmed several other stations including KLIF, Dallas and WMAL, Washington, DC.  He begins his duties at KOMO on April 16 at the station that features morning and afternoon news blocks surrounding local talk hosts John Carlson in late mornings and Ken Schram in early afternoons.  Duckworth spent the last year in retirement in Florida.

Keith Olbermann Promises Legal Action as Tumultuous Term with Current TV Comes to an End.  Reports of mercurial news/talk TV personality Keith Olbermann’s contentious relationship with management at Al Gore-founded Current TV have been coming out for some time and, despite recent assurances via press releases that everything between the two sides is fine, Current TV has cut the cord and let Olbermann go, replacing him with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and his new show “Viewpoints.”  Current TV had hoped that Olbermann’s “Countdown” show – brought over after his departure from MSNBC – would be the anchor program around which the network could build, but after just nine months the relationship was too strained to continue.  Current TV released the following statement on Friday, March 30: “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet.  We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.  Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.”  Olbermann has fired back via Twitter and is promising legal action.  He states, in part: “I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better.  But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff.  Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract…In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out.  For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one.  That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.”

Rush Limbaugh Reports Audience Hikes.  During his nationally syndicated Premiere Networks show last week, Rush Limbaugh broke format briefly to talk about his ratings in the wake of the Sandra Fluke controversy.  He stated that he usually doesn’t talk about ratings but because of the high-profile assault on his program’s advertisers (and others’) he felt compelled to report ratings were up at all 600 of his affiliates.  The Daily Caller reports Limbaugh stated, “The simple answer is that on the range of all 600 radio stations, our ratings are up anywhere from 10% to 60%, depending on the station…And that’s as detailed as I’m going to get…What I mean by that is we could be up 33% on one station, 12% on another – 60% is the top that we’re up on another.  We’re up 50% in a number of places.”  The increased interest in Limbaugh’s program was predicted by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison as numerous consumer media outlets quoted TALKERS in covering the unfolding story.  Addressing the advertiser issue, Limbaugh also stated, “The advertisers who hung in here are going gangbusters, yes.  I mean, that’s the simple truth.  The only ones who got hurt are the ones who left.  And that’s its own tragedy because they left under false, trumped up, unreal pretenses.”

Another Casualty of the Clear Channel Cuts: Cincinnati Programmer Tony Bender.  Program director Tony Bender had been with the Cincinnati cluster of stations since it was owned by Great American Broadcasting in the late 1980s.  Until Friday he was serving as program director of talk WKRC and sports WCKY.  The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports other staffers let go in the latest round of cuts included promotions director Sherry Rowland, traffic reporter Brian Pitts and two other off-air employees.

Coming Tomorrow: The FCC and You – Part 2 - An Explanation of Obscenity.  Don’t miss the second in a series of exclusive TALKERS articles by legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman covering the crucial FCC regulatory information of which every license holder and radio station management employee must be aware.  Informal surveys of radio station managers indicate that an alarming number of them are dangerously under-informed about the FCC regulations that pertain to them and their stations.  TALKERS editors urge managers to take the time to read this free abridgement (of a forthcoming expanded e-book) and share it with their management teams.  Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon.  In tomorrow’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the FCC’s position on obscenity.

Battle for Control of SiriusXM Is Brewing.  Liberty Media Corp has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM, setting the stage for a battle between Liberty’s John Malone and SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin.  Malone’s Liberty Media came to the rescue of SiriusXM three years ago with a cash investment of $530 million when the satcaster needed it most.  Now, Liberty’s filing is being contested by SiriusXM as it asks the FCC to “dismiss or deny” the petition.  Liberty Media only owns 40% of the company and, though there is precedent for a minority shareholder taking control, it’s not common and many deal watchers are quick to doubt that the FCC will grant even “de facto” control to a minority shareholder.  Liberty is arguing that certain provisions of the Investment Agreement inked in 2009 have expired and should result in a takeover.  But again, numerous experts in the field of corporate takeovers are saying the Liberty FCC filing is unlikely to result in a control change.  Most say if Liberty wants control over SiriusXM it is going to have to acquire more shares the old-fashioned way: Buy them.

Cumulus Media Splits Simulcast of Sports WWLS, Oklahoma City; ESPN Radio Takes Over AM Side.  The “Sports Animal” radio network continues to be led by flagship WWLS-FM, Oklahoma City with programming sent to six affiliate stations in five Oklahoma markets, but the AM side of WWLS has split off to broadcast ESPN Radio’s programming lineup.  The Oklahoman reports the AM station will continue to air Oklahoma City Thunder play-by-play as well as Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State pre- and post-game programming.

Dan McNeil Set to Return to WSCR, Chicago After Month-long Absence.  It’s been a bit over a month since midday co-host Dan McNeil took time off from his program at CBS Radio’s sports talk WSCR, Chicago (co-hosted with Matt Spiegel) for unspecified health issues.  He recently announced on his Facebook page that he’s ready to return on April 9 and thanked family and friends for their support, assuring them he’s feeling better.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports that McNeil’s health issues were not disclosed but that colleagues have alluded to McNeil’s struggles with sobriety.