Feature Series: Walter Sabo on FM Talk. Sabo Media president Walter Sabo writes a special four-part series on the successful implementation of talk on FM this week at Talkers.com. In the first installment, Sabo explains the importance of proper format execution in order to build cume. “You rarely hear formatic structure on any talk station – you’ll hear long periods without a host name, station name, phone number – and that’s why talk stations tend to have low, vulnerable cumes. Applying formatics to talk is hard work, but completely achievable.” Too often, talk radio shows sound formatically different from one another even though they are placed back-to-back on a station. That can be addressed by coaching formatics, says Sabo. “That means that your hosts have to handle all elements in the same manner as every other host, just like music DJs. That does not mean they should have the same opinions. That is not desirable.” Read more here.
Chris Sargent Named Operations Manager at Clear Channel Portland. Chris “Sarge” Sargent has been serving as program director at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk KEX, progressive talk KPOJ and classic hits KFBW-FM (where he also handled morning drive) in Portland, Oregon. Now, he’s upped to operations manager for the seven-station cluster. Vice president and market manager Robert Dove states, “I’ve been fortunate to have Chris Sargent working alongside Tommy Austin the last three years and the luxury of having two operations managers in the building, which certainly made my search a lot easier. I know Chris’s leadership along with the help and guidance of Brad Hardin, our senior vice president of programming, will lead to continued ratings success and revenue growth for our Clear Channel cluster in Portland.”
Cumulus Media Flips Pensacola FM to Talk. The former adult hits WJLQ-FM, Pensacola changes call letters to WCOA-FM and begins a partial simulcast of sister news/talk WCOA-AM. The new News Talk 100.7 is simulcasting the 6:00 am to 8:00 am hours of WCOA-AM’s morning drive show with Jim Sanborn and Don Parker, then breaks away to air the WMAL, Washington-based Chris Plante show until 11:00 am. Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee follows from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The rest of the day is: Phil Valentine from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Cumulus Media’s Mark Levin from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and John Batchelor from 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight and Cumulus Media’s “Red Eye Radio” for overnights.
Richard Neer: Prioritize to Stay on Top of the Busy Sports World. TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer offers some thoughts on staying atop of the busy sports world – especially now with NHL and NBA playoffs, MLB action and NFL offseason activity heating up. Neer writes that sports talk hosts may find two or more events scheduled for the same night. “Obviously you can’t watch every minute of every game. And, oh by the way, you do have a life apart from the job. There are family and friends who deserve attention and other cultural aspects of life that should be acknowledged lest you become too narrowly focused. So, how can you juggle all these priorities and stay current with your demanding job?” Find out here.
Changes Coming to Sports WQXI, Atlanta. Management at Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WQXI, Atlanta – Sports Talk 790 The Zone – is tweaking the schedule as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho. The morning drive show, “Mayhem in the AM,” is extended to 6:00 am to 11:00 am as is the PM drive show of Mike Bell and David Archer who move earlier to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. That leaves a midday show of 11:00 am to 2:00 pm to be filled and the station currently employs Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham as well as “Two Live Stews” Doug and Ryan Stewart. Ho notes that Barnhart and Durham are contractually allowed to take May and June off since they work long hours the rest of the year at non-radio station jobs. Ho also reports Barnhart’s and Durham’s ratings are better than the Stews but their availability in May and June presents a complication. GM Andrew Saltzman tells the paper they expect to have the schedule squared away in the near future.
Dennis Prager Publishes New Book. Salem Radio Network syndicated talk show host Dennis Prager begins promoting the publication of his latest book tonight (4/24) with an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity program. The book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (Broadside Books 2012), centers around Prager’s argument that humanity has a choice between American values and its two alternatives: Islamism and European-style democratic socialism. Prager suggests the American value system is the most viable method of creating a good society.
KCBS, San Francisco Newsman Bob Melrose Retires After 36 Years. Longtime KCBS, San Francisco reporter Bob Melrose retires from the CBS Radio station after 36 years at the venerable all-news outlet. Melrose’s career covering news in Northern California included come of the highest visibility cases and colleagues recall how Melrose had a knack for being there when news broke. A retrospective in the San Jose Mercury News notes Melrose covered the Jonestown massacre, the discovery of murdered 12-year-old Polly Klaas’ body and many other stories important to the region and the nation.
Voice Over Pro Jim Cutler Recognized by Fisher House. Voice over pro Jim Cutler (pictured here holding his plaque) was recently honored by the Fisher House Foundation for his pro bono work for the charity. Cutler provided the voice over work for a number of Fisher House projects, including this year’s Memorial Day radio special titled, “A Grateful Nation.” The Fisher House Foundation provides no-cost housing and assistance to the families of America’s servicemen and servicewomen while they recover at VA and military hospitals.
2012 Presidential Campaign, France Presidential Elections, Secret Service Scandal, Euro Zone Jitters, SCOTUS to Hear AZ Immigration Law Case and John Edwards Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/23). The 2012 presidential campaign; the surprise showing of French far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections; the growing Secret Service scandal; trouble in Europe as some euro zone countries battle to beat debt issues; the coming Supreme Court hearing of the Arizona illegal immigration law; and the beginning of the John Edwards campaign finance wrongdoing trial were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
It’s the End of KGO as We Know It. Since KGO, San Francisco has changed very little over the past 20 years, any change to the legendary Cumulus-owned station would seem monumental. That’s why the dismissal of KGO talk hosts Gil Gross, Gene Burns, Ray Taliaferro and John Rothmann as the station morphs into a news-intensive station is so shocking to an industry that’s seen plenty of change lately. KGO director of news and programming Paul Hosley tells the San Francisco Chronicle, “What we are doing is adding a tremendous amount of news content to KGO.” Mid-morning talk host Ronn Owens is not part of this wave of change and, according to 415 Media editor Rich Lieberman, he has a “personal services” contract with the station that runs through January of 2013. The Chronicle reports a KGO insider said that KGO has “lost its way” and hopes to reinvigorate itself with a news-driven format. The station’s positioning statement changes from “Newstalk 810” to “KGO 810 – the Bay Area News and Information Station.” KGO’s dominance in the ratings began to fade with the arrival of Arbitron’s PPM in the San Francisco market – a sign that a station with KGO’s rich heritage and special place in the hearts of San Francisco radio listeners benefitted from the diary method. The changes at KGO began with the exit of longtime operations director Jack Swanson in October. It would be easy to dismiss Cumulus’ moves as being budget related, but all-news can be an expensive format to operate and KGO will be competing with CBS Radio’s KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM on that front. Stay tuned.
Cumulus Cuts in Charleston Eliminate Local Host. Charleston, South Carolina news/talk WTMA eliminates the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm local talk show hosted by Rocky DiSabato – known as Rocky D. The gap is filled by expanding the carriage of Dial Global’s Clark Howard and Neal Boortz shows to cover the three hours.
Merlin Media’s Chicago News Station Changes Calls. All-news WWWN-FM, Chicago is now WIQI, although the station remains positioned as “FM News 101.” Merlin Media’s application for the change was requested on November 14 and it officially took place on December 1.
KBLI/KBLY, Pocatello/Idaho Falls/Blackfoot, Idaho Adds Local Shows. The Riverbend Communications duo known as Newstalk 690/1260 announces the addition of three local programs to its lineup: news and program director Tim Lewis hosts the new “Idaho’s Morning News” from 6:00 am to 9:00 am; former KIFI-TV managing editor Carissa Coats hosts “Idaho’s Midday News” from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm; and Mark Richardson is the host of “Idaho’s Afternoon News” from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Richardson and his father Mel co-host the “Probing America” show that airs from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. They will also produce a weekend version of the show.
WOAI, San Antonio Begins Elf-Louise Radio-thon. Clear Channel news/talk WOAI hosts a two-day radio-thon today (12/2) and tomorrow at the North Star Mall to raise funds to purchase gifts and sundries for San Antonio families in need during the Christmas season. WOAI personalities Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo and Charlie Parker will take part as will personalities from CC’s San Antonio music outlets. The Elf Louise Christmas project was begun by Louise Locker in 1969 when she was a student at Trinity University. Then, she and friends aided 13 families. Now, the project uses 5,000 volunteers and distributes some 60,000 gifts each year.
2012 Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM Chart of News/Talk Radio’s Top Weekly Stories. The GOP contenders to face off against President Obama in next year’s election were the most-talked-about topic on news/talk radio during the week of November 28 – December 2. Coming in at #2 was the pending government shutdown. At #3 was the Euro zone debt crisis and the global financial markets activity followed by Black Friday/Cyber Monday at #4. The Talkers TenTM, a chart of the top stories and people of the week, is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart by clicking on the banner below.