Clear Channel Makes Statement About News/Talk with Flip of WPGB-FM, Pittsburgh to Country. Radio stations are in business to make money and Clear Channel – with its $20 billion of debt – needs as much as it can get, and if it believed the almost 11-year-old news/talk format on WPGB-FM was getting it done, it wouldn’t have dropped the format for country in the Steel City. But it did, and industry watchers have to wonder if this move signals a change in the company’s belief in the strength of the news/talk format or if this is a market-specific situation where it saw an opportunity to battle two other operators with the very hot country format. Certainly, country is a much less controversial sell than news/talk and perhaps that played into the decision. Regardless, news/talk fans in Pittsburgh will have to go to Pittsburgh Radio Partners-owned WJAS-AM – a class B station at 1320 kHz – to hear Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck as those shows move across town immediately. One also has to wonder what kind of deal Pittsburgh Radio Partners got on three shows that are usually barter and cash. Last year’s non-renewal of the Quinn & Rose morning show at WPGB-FM may have been a harbinger of this change as it’s likely CC has been considering the change for some time. One thing’s for sure, it’s a safe bet the folks at crosstown KDKA-AM are not crying over this move.
Dan Le Batard Suspended by ESPN for Billboard Stunt. Since the Cleveland Plain Dealer wouldn’t take his ad with a sarcastic “you’re welcome” to former Miami Heat star Lebron James after his announced return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, WAXY, Miami “The Ticket” and ESPN personality Dan Le Batard decided to buy billboards in Akron with the same message (pictured at right). While Lincoln Financial Media got the joke, ESPN wasn’t laughing and suspended Le Batard for two days (August 7-8) for the stunt. Le Batard’s show is now a collaborative effort between LFM and ESPN and WAXY VP/GM Maureen Lesourd says, “We’re ‘The Ticket 104.3’ and we have a passion for South Florida sports and in particular, the Miami Heat fans. The fans were offended, so for ‘The Ticket’ it was a brilliant local promotion and meant for fun, but I have to respect stunts like this don’t work for a national outlet like ESPN.” ESPN said in a statement, “Dan Le Batard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday. His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”
Morning Personality Mark Kaye Honing Talk Radio Chops. CHR morning jock Mark Kaye – host of the “The Big Ape Morning Mess” on Cox Media Group’s CHR WAPE, Jacksonville has been “quietly” doing a weekend talk show on sister station WOKV “News 104.5.” The show was added to the company’s Orlando outlet WDBO and now is being picked up in Tulsa by CMG’s KRMG “News 102.3.” KRMG director of branding and programming Levi May comments, “For those who are looking for the next generation of talk radio host, look no further than Mark Kaye – KRMG is on board!” Kaye comments on the surprising speed at which his talk show has blossomed, “OM Todd Shannon, WOKV PD Mike Dorwart and I pitched this idea to Cox VP of programming Steve Smith in January. Six months later it’s now on three stations…in two time zones! It’s been so awesome to mix what I’ve been doing on CHR radio into a cool and trendy new news/talk show that the audience, and the industry is excited about. And I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
CBS RADIO Q2 Revenue Down 3%. There’s rarely much information from CBS Corp. about its radio division during quarterly conference calls or the press releases about earnings, as the company is so heavily focused on television, films and publishing. It appears CBS RADIO had a quarter similar to other radio companies in that its net revenue decline of 3% was probably due to the soft advertising climate affecting the industry.
Salem Communication Reports Q2 Total Revenue Up 14%; Broadcast Net Revenue Up 1.8%. The good news for Salem Communications comes as its internet and e-commerce and publishing divisions showed big revenue increases during the second quarter of 2014. As for the broadcast division, net broadcast revenue was up 1.8% to $47.9 million from $47 million during the same period a year ago. Station operating income decreased 13.8% to $13.9 million from $16.2 million and same station net broadcast revenue increased 1.1% to $47.6 million from $47 million.
Journal Broadcast Group Radio Revenue Up 1.6%. As a whole, Journal Communications revenue was up 4.9% during the second quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013. On the radio side, Journal Broadcast Group realized a net increase of 1.6% on $20.2 million of revenue. The company reports radio political advertising revenue was $0.1 million in each of 2014 and 2013. Local advertising revenue, excluding political, increased 2.3%, primarily due to an increase in home products and automotive advertising. Digital revenue, which is reported in local revenue, was $0.8 million, up 14.1%. National advertising revenue, excluding political, decreased 6.3%, primarily due to lower automotive and restaurant advertising. Excluding political revenue, total revenue was $20.1 million, up 1.5%. Operating earnings from radio were $4.1 million compared to $3.8 million in 2013, an increase of 6.2%. Radio operating expenses increased 0.5%.
Odds & Sods. Talk show host Leslie Marshall – syndicated via WYM Media – is sitting in on Clear Channel’s KKSF, San Francisco “Talk 910” next Monday and Thursday (8/11 and 14) for the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm show…..Hubbard Radio’s sports talk KSTP, Minneapolis inks a deal with Learfield Sports to continue serving as the University of Minnesota’s flagship station for men’s hockey and men’s and women’s basketball for the next three seasons.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. More new affiliate stations to report for Radio America-syndicated Dana Loesch as the program is now heard on KTSA, San Antonio; KLZ, Denver; KOY, Phoenix; KZRG-AM, Joplin, Missouri; KBLL, Helena, Montana; and KXRO, Aberdeen, Washington…..“Armed American Radio with Mark Walters” is added to the program schedule at WEBJ, Mobile/Pensacola; WDDQ, Albany, Georgia; KJMT, Pine Bluff/Little Rock; WNNG, Macon, Georgia; KNNS, Wichita; KERV, San Antonio; WWWI, Baxter, Minnesota; and KVNT-AM/FM, Anchorage.
Israel-Hamas Conflict/Rise in Anti-Semitism Tops Talkers TenTM. The conflict in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Israel and the related issue of new incidences of anti-Semitism across the globe was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of August 4-8. Following at #2 was the Ebola virus outbreak and the threat of a pandemic. At #3 was Russian aggression in the Ukraine and Edward Snowden’s renewed visa to remain in Russia, followed by President Obama’s low approval ratings at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio 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.
Emphatic Fox To Entercom: Apology Denied. After returning from a planned vacation last week, WEEI-FM, Boston morning personality Kirk Minihane reignited the controversy he started with criticism of Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews’ All-Star Game work by reiterating his disdain for her work. But even his bosses at Entercom, who had been supportive, had to backtrack and he’s now been suspended for this week – without pay. To recap, the unbilled member of the Dennis & Callahan morning show on WEEI had some disparaging things to say the day after the broadcast about an in-game interview conducted by the network’s Erin Andrews. Perhaps only St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright will be the only person to know for certain if he made it a bit easier for Derek Jeter – appearing in his final All-Star contest – to smack a first-inning double, which was the catalyst for three quick AL runs in that frame. Social media was buzzing that Wainwright had indicated he might have grooved the pitch Jeter hit. Andrews questioned Wainwright about it and the pitcher backtracked from that notion, and he said Jeter’s hit was on the up-and-up. Apparently though, the televised exchange between this year’s co-host of (ABC-TV‘s) “Dancing with the Stars” and Wainwright did not sit well with Minihane, who declared of Andrews, “What a bitch – I hate her. What a gutless bitch. Seriously, go away. Drop dead. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with her? First of all, follow-up. Second of all, the guy admitted he did it – he admitted it. He told reporters he threw a couple of ‘pipe-bombs.’ How is that social media’s fault? I hate her – I seriously hate her so much.” A Minihane-issued statement was posted Wednesday night (7/16) on the WEEI website that read: “I used a series of words to describe Erin Andrews’ work at the All-Star Game. My choice of words was wrong. I was wrong to have used them. To all whom I offended – particularly Ms. Andrews – I apologize. There is no place for what was said. It was immature and completely uncalled for. I am often critical of media members and their work and recognize here that I’ve made the kind of mistake I would call out if it was done by another sportscaster or writer. Again, to all involved, I’m very sorry.” But upon returning last week, he commented on the issue and lashed out at Andrews again, saying, “I think she stinks at her job. I don’t think she’s very smart. I don’t think she comes across as very smart. I think Fox only hired her because she is good-looking. I think if she weighed 15 pounds more, she would be a waitress at Perkins. That is what I believe, I do believe that.” It was probably that last comment that prompted Fox Sports president Eric Shanks to inform Entercom the company was pulling its entertainment and sports-related adds off of all Entercom stations and it was that move that brought Entercom CEO David Field into the mix. In the letter to Field, Shanks wrote that Minihane’s comments were “boorish and sexist.” Shanks further maintains that Minihane’s apology was “juvenile and insincere.” Furthermore, the Fox executive writes, “I had hoped by this time we might hear a sincere apology from WEEI, or perhaps someone from your office might have reached out to Fox. None of that has been forthcoming, and needless to say, we are disappointed.” According to Shanks, through film and television businesses, Fox is “a significant advertiser on Entercom stations. I have discussed this issue with our senior management and our various senior marketing executives. At their recommendation, going forward, Fox’s entertainment and sports businesses will not be advertising on your stations for the foreseeable future.” Field reacted by commenting, “Kirk Minihane’s statements regarding Erin Andrews were offensive and deplorable. It is clear by the response from our listeners, advertisers, and employees that Kirk’s efforts to apologize and make this right have been insufficient and ambiguous. We want to make it unequivocally clear that his comments were unacceptable and do not reflect Entercom’s values and standards.” As far as Shanks is concerned, the situation was made “worse,” owing to the fact that the “apology was posted under a banner hailing ‘The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane.’” Seemingly lost in the wake of pulled advertising dollars corporate-wide and having to suspend an on-air personality is the fact that in the latest (6+) trends (June 2014), WEEI-FM (3.3) beat cross-town CBS Radio format rival WBZ-FM “The Sports Hub” (2.9) for the first time (total week, 6+) in nearly two years. The last time it happened was August 2012, when WEEI-FM had the advantage over WBZ-FM by a 4.3 – 3.7 count (6+). WBZ-FM won each battle the rest of the year by 4.5 – 4.1 (September); 4.6 – 2.8 (October); 4.1 – 2.5 (November) 4.4 – 3.0 (December); and 4.6 – 2.7 (“Holiday”). The closest WEEI-FM came to WBZ-FM in 2013 was one-tenth in August (3.9 – 3.8); WBZ-FM’s largest (6+) lead in 2013 was in May (5.7 – 2.9). Thus far in 2014, “The Sports Hub” has emerged victorious over WEEI-FM (6+) in January (5.6 – 3.4); February (4.5 – 2.8); March (4.7 – 2.7); April (4.3 – 3.3); and May (5.1 – 3.4). As noted, WEEI-FM beat WBZ-FM in June (3.3 – 2.9, 6+). It will be interesting to see how Entercom handles this situation because the ratings for the Dennis & Callahan show have improved since Minihane joined the show and numerous Boston media watchers agree that his addition has breathed new life into the program.
Stephen A. Smith to Exit WEPN-FM for SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio Channel. That’s according to a report by The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman who writes that Stephen A. Smith will soon exit ESPN O&O WEPN-FM where he co-hosts the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daily show with Ryan Ruocco to host his own program on the satellite service – reportedly in the same time slot that would lead into Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s afternoon drive show. Raissman also suggests that a move to SiriusXM could be interesting for the controversial Stephen A. Smith, who caused a stir by his comments in reaction to the two-game suspension the NFL star Ray Rice received for punching out his wife in an elevator. Read Raissman’s column here.
KFWB, Los Angeles to Flip from News/Talk to Sports. Officials at the KFWB Trust are being tightlipped about the reports but LARadio.com’s Don Barrett is reporting that KFWB staffers were called to a meeting on Friday, July 25 and informed their jobs would go away in five weeks when the format changes. Barrett reports that staffers told him the station would go to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network which would bring Jim Rome back to the Los Angeles market. He’s been gone from his home market since jumping from Premiere Networks to CBS Sports 18 months ago. Some are questioning whether LA needs another sports talk outlet but it’s probably less about what the market “needs” and more about getting CBS Sports Radio and Jim Rome back into the Los Angeles market. It’d also be a heck of a lot less expensive to program network sports than a mix of network and local news/talk.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: Jerry Del Colliano Delivers Special Presentation, “Radio in the Digital Age.” Today (7/28) marks the 10th consecutive business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with a special presentation titled “Radio in the Digital Age” delivered by Inside Music Media publisher Jerry Del Colliano. The longtime industry observer, analyst, and maverick draws upon his experience as both a professional radio broadcaster and former professor of music industry at USC to explain how the traits of the large, coming-of-age millennial generation do not quite mesh with the approach taken by most of the boomers running radio stations today. He implored the full house of broadcasters in attendance to heed the warning, “We must change! We must disrupt! Because the audience is changing.” To view this entire presentation, please click here. Coming tomorrow: A panel discussion moderated by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey titled “The State of Talk Programming.” Featured speakers include: Andy Bloom, OM, WPHT/WIP, Philadelphia; Phil Boyce, VP/spoken word programming, Salem Communications; Bill Hess, PD, WMAL, Washington, DC; Gabe Hobbs, CEO, Gabe Hobbs Media; and Craig Schwalb, PD, WABC, New York. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Odds & Sods. Although Stoney Richards is leaving his role at CBS RADIO Pittsburgh’s country WDSY where he’s been APD, music director and afternoon drive personality in order to pursue his acting career, he will maintain his weekend talk show on the company’s news/talk KDKA-AM where he hosts the “Live From The Centre” program…..Speaking of KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh, the station is partnering with local The Education Partnership to help provide new school and classroom supplies to local schools in financial need. This Wednesday (7/30), it will host a call-center in the 84 Lumber Theatre at CBS RADIO Pittsburgh from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm to answer listener questions, collect monetary donations and serve as an outlet for those looking for volunteer opportunities. Also, an onsite collection will take place at KDKA’s studios for the project dubbed “Crayons for Kids.” KDKA-AM morning news host Larry Richert comments, “When I first learned of the great need in our hometown I was shocked! The Education Partnership is such a lean and vital organization. With our help we can deliver on the basic needs of 30,000-plus school students who count on having the basics to learn and grow, starting with crayons!”…..In response to the comments by TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison published by the Boston Herald about the current state of news/talk radio in Boston relative to its colorful past, general manager Phil Redo – now with public broadcaster WGBH, Boston – checks in with his take. He tells TALKERS that (former WTKK-FM, Boston personalities) “Jim Braude and Margery Eagan (pictured here) are doing a fabulous show for us here on WGBH Radio. They have been on the air for nearly 18 months and made a smooth transition from commercial to public. Each day they explore a wide range of topics, from the top local news stories to connecting the dots on major national and international events. They provide an important access point for this community – and to the decision makers who will impact each of us by those decisions. In addition, the governor and AG show up every month to host an hour – as does Boston’s new mayor. Their show Boston Public Radio has grown from below a 1.0 share to above a 4.0 share and in June, ranks in the top 10 both 6+ and 25-54 during their 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot…They have done so well that we’re expanding the program to three hours this fall.”
Unusual General Manager/Sales Manager Opportunity at Talk Station Owned by an “Eccentric.” The self-described “eccentric” (we agree) owner of one of the nation’s leading independent local talk radio stations, KSCO AM 1080, Santa Cruz/Monterey/Salinas/Silicon Valley, Michael Zwerling, is looking for a general manager/sales manager to bring his station’s monthly ad billing up from “a laughable $30,000 per month” (his words not ours) to a “more respectable and completely do-able $300,000 per month.” Asked how a station billing only $30,000 in monthly ad revenue could be considered anything even REMOTELY deserving of being described as “one of the nation’s leading independent local talk radio stations,” Zwerling retorts, “Easy — ad sales have never been our focus in the past; we have done and continue to do very well, thank you, with our ‘royalties from radio’ revenue model we have employed for nearly 18 years. Yet we continue to serve our communities FAR better than most corporate-owned stations, and far better than most other independent stations that can’t AFFORD to serve their communities.” Zwerling continues, “But I started to feel like a fool recently when I realized that just because we don’t NEED to sell advertising — doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t TRY to sell as much advertising as possible — just like any other station being run by anyone with even HALF a brain!” According to Zwerling, the sky is the limit in terms of unique opportunity for the right person with “fire in his/her belly” to bring an additional $270,000 PER MONTH ad revenue into KSCO. But there is a catch. To read the entire story penned by TALKERS staff writer Mona Lipschitz, please click here.
WABC, New York’s Mark Levin to Host Cumulus Media’s “Bark in the Park” Event. The 4th Annual “Bark in the Park” event presented by Cumulus Media’s New York stations WABC, WPLJ, WNSH “NASH FM 94.7,” and WNBM “Radio 103.9” is being hosted by WABC personality Mark Levin Saturday, August 2 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. The stations are teaming up with the North Shore Animal League America and Bergen County Animal Shelter/Adoption Center which will be on site with many dogs up for adoption. The mission is to find a home for as many puppies as possible. Additionally, the day will feature a wide array of vendors, services, food, demonstrations, and activities for families and dog lovers alike.
Apple to Acquire Spoken-Word Aggregator Swell. According to a report in re/code, Apple is paying approximately $30 million to acquire the company Swell, whose current app creates a stream of spoken-word content delivered to iPhones and iPads based on the user’s likes. Liz Gannes writes in her piece that with the acquisition, the Swell app will go away and some analysts believe Apple will integrate the service into existing services such as iTunes Radio. Read Gannes’ re/code story here.
Yahoo! Sports Radio Invades Las Vegas! The crew pictured here is Yahoo! Sports Radio network talent in Las Vegas as the network “took over” Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo Hotel and Casino during the week of July 21-25 broadcasting live for what it dubbed, “Yahoo! Sports Radio Super Week.” From left to right are: Air personalities Steve Czaban, Scott Linn, Geoff Ketchum, Sean Salisbury, Yahoo! Sports Radio CEO David Gow, personalities John Granato and Peter Brown.
Farewell: Legendary Larry Lujack. Notwithstanding words such as “legendary” and “iconic” are grossly overused, Larry Lujack was nonetheless an unquestionable legendary, iconic Chicago personality. The radio world lost a quintessential on-air talent Wednesday night when the 73-year-old “Super Jock” passed away at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Especially in the Midwest, countless air personalities hoping to advance to the biggest of the big time when AM radio was king would talk up vocals on audition tapes, liberally using signature slogans like “The Big 89,” “The Rock of Chicago,” and “Music Radio, W-L-S.” Radio pro Mike Kinosian, who serves as managing editor and West Coast bureau chief for TALKERS and its sister publication RadioInfo, wrote a beautiful tribute to the life and career of Lujack. Kinosian interviewed Lujack in 2003 and Kinosian shares some of Lujack’s thoughts about top 40 radio, the state of the industry at the time and, of course, his own career. Read Kinosian’s story on RadioInfo here.
Ben Shapiro Named Afternoon Host at KTTH, Seattle. Rising young talk radio personality Ben Shapiro joins Bonneville Seattle’s conservative news/talk station KTTH to host the afternoon drive program. The New York Times best-selling author, Harvard Law School grad and talk media personality will continue his current position with Salem Communications co-hosting the morning drive show at KRLA, Los Angeles alongside Brian Whitman and Elisha Krauss in addition to his new position in Seattle. Shapiro comments, “I couldn’t be more excited about joining the stellar lineup at AM 770 KTTH. What I love most is the opportunity to enrich the public discourse. It’s not often that hosts get that freedom. Thanks to KTTH’s forward thinking approach, I’m overjoyed to have that opportunity.” KTTH is now airing live programming in both morning and afternoon drive. David Boze hosts the morning show.
Glen Macnow Remains with WIP-FM, Philadelphia but Rob Ellis Is New PM Drive Co-Host. As had been predicted by Philadelphia media watchers, including Kyle Scott of CrossingBroad.com, sports talk personality Glen Macnow will move off the afternoon drive show on WIP-FM “SportsRadio 94 WIP” where he’s been co-hosting with Anthony Gargano and remain with CBS Radio Philadelphia in a different capacity. At the same time, the station announces evening host Rob Ellis will join Gargano as co-host of the PM drive show. Taking over Ellis’ evening show role is Josh Innes who comes to WIP-FM from the company’s KILT, Houston where he’s been hosting PM drive. CBS Radio Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield announces that Macnow’s new responsibilities will include appearances on all-news KYW and news/talk WPHT while he continues to host his long-running Saturday program from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm WIP-FM with Pro Football Hall of Fame writer Ray Didinger. Rayfield adds, “I’m pleased we have reached an agreement with Glen that supports his relationship with WIP, and also allows us to increase his presence within the CBS Radio Philly family of stations. Being able to use his expertise across more of our platforms is a real win for our stations, the listeners and Philadelphia’s passionate sports fan base.” Beginning in January 2014, Macnow will be heard on KYW’s afternoon broadcast of the “Reporter’s Roundup,” and, during football season, with Harry Donahue on the station’s top-rated morning show. Additionally, he will be featured during Phillies pre- and post-game shows on WPHT, flagship broadcaster for the local team.
Cumulus Syndicated Star Mark Levin to be Featured on C-SPAN’s BookTV. Perennial Heavy Hundred personality Mark Levin will be the featured guest author on C-SPAN‘s extremely popular and prestigious literary program “BookTV’s In Depth” on Sunday, January 5. Not only is Levin a top-rated radio talker but he is an attorney and nationally recognized expert on Constitutional Law as well as a best-selling author. The syndicated radio talk show host and former Reagan administration official will spend three hours taking viewers’ calls, Facebook comments, emails and tweets on topics such as the role of the federal government, recent Supreme Court decisions and the upcoming 2014 elections, among others. The president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, Levin is the author of five non-fiction books, including “Rescuing Sprite” “Liberty & Tyranny” and his 2013 release, “The Liberty Amendments.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “Mark Levin is the quintessential example of a radio talk show host who is also a very successful author who actually sells a ton of books time after time. Talk talent from all sides of the ideological spectrum can learn from his precise way of explaining complex issues from both historical and contemporary perspectives and putting forth his opinions in a compelling and credible manner.” The live airing of Mark Levin will be Sunday, January 5, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET on Book TV on C-SPAN2. Archived on demand editions will be available after the airing at http://booktv.org/.
Gene Romano Takes on Talent Development Duties with Clear Channel. There’s a sort of re-alignment going on within the executive ranks of Clear Channel Media + Entertainment’s programming department. As National Programming Platforms EVP Darren Davis explains in a memo to company staff, some execs are getting more duties and Gene Romano is the latest to take on more. Davis writes: “You’ve seen over the past several days we’ve been announcing some expanded duties for several of CCM+E’s senior programmers. It’s all part of an overall strategy to closely link the E/SVPP Team with NPP — so that our local efforts and national efforts are totally in sync. And today, I have another bit of great news to share. EVPP Gene Romano will have expanded duties effective today. In addition to the East Major Markets he oversees, Gene will also oversee Programming Talent Recruitment and Development for CCM+E. CCM+E has attracted best-in-class programming talent over the past couple of years from a variety of companies and industries. Gene will lead our efforts to accelerate our recruitment of the very best into our company. Gene will also work with our E/SVPPs, Brand Managers and VPPs to identify the future stars already inside the company to mentor, grow and provide the tools and resources for their continued advancement with CCM+E.”
Clear Channel’s Denver News/Talkers Tweak Program Schedules; Hannity and Limbaugh to Air Live. Program schedule adjustments at Clear Channel’s KOA and KHOW in Denver will take effect in January. Some of the noteworthy moves are bringing Premiere Networks syndicated star Sean Hannity from an evening delayed broadcast to the live 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm shift on KHOW. Tom Martino will air from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and an hour is trimmed off Michael Brown’s afternoon show which will air from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Across the hall at KOA, the morning program with Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh expands by an hour to 5:00 am to 10:00 am followed by live carriage of Rush Limbaugh from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Local personality Mike Rosen moves from late mornings to the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm shift.
On-Air Lineup Modifications in Store for Pittsburgh’s “Fan.” CBS Radio Pittsburgh sports outlet KDKA-FM “The Fan” afternoon drive talent Josh Miller will shift to 6:00 am – 10:00 am; Andrew Fillipponi will co-host 10:00 am – 2:00 pm; and Colin Dunlap will succeed Fillipponi at 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Program director Ryan Maguire comments, “This is an exciting step forward in the evolution of ‘The Fan.’ We are eager to showcase this new lineup that highlights the incredible talents of Pittsburgh’s foremost sports experts. Josh’s unique sense of humor and insight will set the tone for the remainder of the day. Andrew is a solid, thought-provoking sports talk show host who has shown he can deliver an informative and opinion-driven program. Colin has grown both as a talk show host and writer in the past year; his work has scored big with our audiences.” Former Pittsburgh Steelers punter Josh Miller spent 12 seasons in the NFL. He joined “The Fan” in 2010 as a talk show host and football analyst. Fillipponi has been with “The Fan” since the station debuted nearly four years ago. Onetime Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer Dunlap began as a part-time “Fan” host in 2010. Lineup changes on “The Fan” go into effect Monday, January 6.
Palm Springs’ KFUT Becomes “Fox Sports 1270.” Yesterday at noon (12/18), MCC Radio transitioned Spanish oldies KFUT, Palm Springs, California to “Fox Sports 1270.” The station’s lineup includes “Fox Sports Daybreak” with Andy Furman and Mike North (6:00 am – 9:00 am); “Jay Mohr Sports” (9:00 am – 12:00 noon); “Fox Sports Primetime” (12:00 noon – 4:00pm); “TMZ Sports” (4:00 pm – 5:00 pm); and “Petros and Money” (5:00 pm – 7:00 pm). “Fox Sports Radio programming originates in Southern California,” program director Mike Oakes points out. “We are thrilled to bring it to the desert, serving Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. I am especially excited to launch two rising shows in the sports talk universe, ‘Jay Mohr Sports’ and ‘TMZ Sports.’ These are the cutting-edge of the sports talk genre.” Associated with the format flip, the station has changed calls from KFUT to KFSQ.
News Staff at KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh Affected by Cuts. Details aren’t complete but TALKERS hears that lead reporter and morning drive news anchor Adam Kirk has exited CBS Radio’s news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh as part of the budget-related cuts taking place at the company’s stations across the country. There are reports that Kirk is not the only news staffer to be let go and that the station is adjusting its news presentation and will eliminate local news in the late night and overnight hours.
WBEZ, Chicago Staffers Vote to Join SAG-AFTRA. The 49 staffers who produce content for Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ, Chicago and its digital properties will be represented by SAG-AFTRA following the staff’s 40-7 vote in favor of the change. WBEZ criminal and legal affairs reporter Rob Wildeboer says in a statement, “Chicago Public Media is a valuable resource to all Chicagoans. The staff of CPM cares deeply about this organization and its mission. Public radio is more than a job. Staff at CPM are deeply committed to the station and we love our work. We have great leaders and a committed board and we believe organizing as staff members is an important step to achieving the goals we all share here: producing excellent journalism that serves the public and making this important local institution even stronger than it is today.”
Odds & Sods. Cumulus Media Networks announces the number of stations carrying the Michael Savage show when it moves to PM drive in Eastern Time and debuts on Cumulus news/talk outlets in the New Year will be more than 200. Savage says of the move, “This is the culmination of two decades in talk radio. I was born for drive time where my pace matches that of America. Everyone dreams of being on the Cumulus powerhouse signals. This is my dream come true.”…..PodcastOne earns props from the iTunes editorial team as two podcasts it makes available are named tops. The “Adam & Dr. Drew Show” is named best new audio podcast of 2013 while the Steve Austin show was selected as the top pick in the sports/recent debuts category. PodcastOne chairman Norm Pattiz says, “We thank the editorial team at iTunes for selecting these programs. We will proudly display the ‘iTunes Best of 2013’ badge prominently when presenting and promoting these programs. Our lineup of the best-of-the-best in podcasting is validated with recognition like this.”…..Motley Fool’s Chris Hill also wins accolades from the iTunes editorial team as his “Investor Beat” podcast has been included among the iTunes Best of 2013.
Radio Companies Get Extension in HD Radio Patent Infringement Case. As tipped by Radio World, the major radio companies who are being targeted by Delaware Radio Technologies and affiliated company Wyncomm LLC have won an extension for filing replies to the allegations leveled at them in connection with their HD radio transmissions. They now have until February 24, 2014. Industry watchers call Wyncomm a patent troll, nonetheless it is seeking damages via a jury trial for what it says are infringements of the patents it holds with regard to voice and data transmission over in-band, on-channel digital broadcasts. The radio companies being sued include: Beasley Broadcast Group, CBS Radio, CC Media Holdings, Cox Media Group, Cumulus Media, Entercom, Entravision, Greater Media, Hubbard Radio, Radio Disney, Radio One, Saga Communications, Townsquare Media and Univision.
A Farewell Party for John Gambling. As John Gambling prepares to wrap his legendary New York City radio career with his final show on Clear Channel’s WOR tomorrow (12/20), Gambling and former co-workers gathered at a New York eatery to congratulate him on his colorful career. Gambling is pictured here (second from right) between former news anchor Babita Hariani (right) and former producer Jill Vitale (third from right). Also in attendance were former WABC colleagues Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby, former engineer Frank D’Elia, former call screener Andre Lelong, former intern and current WABC staffer Mike Gunzelman, and WNYM producer and talk host Frank Morano.
‘Win Howie’s Jag’ Contest Wraps with Live Broadcast. The holiday contest taking place at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston entered the finalist stage on Wednesday as afternoon drive talk host Howie Carr (right) broadcast live from The Fairways at Woburn Country Club as part of Happy Howie Days. During the show, Carr and WRKO gave 20 pre-determined qualifiers the chance to “Win Howie’s Jaguar!” Each of the 20 qualifiers received a $50 gift card to The Green’s Grill and Pub at Woburn Country Club and a gift package, courtesy of Perfect Smiles of Nashua, New Hampshire. Finalist, John Treggiari of Salem (left), unfortunately was not able to drive off in the 2013 Jaguar XF, courtesy of Jaguar Exeter. However, he did win a two-night stay at The Old Harbor Inn in Chatham, located on Cape Cod.
Indian Diplomat Incident, ObamaCare Criticism, NSA Spying Program, Rodman Visits N. Korea, Budget Deal, ‘Duck Dynasty’ Patriarch on Hiatus over Gay Comments, and Limbaugh-Pope Francis Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/18). Tensions between the U.S. and India over the arrest and treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York; criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; scrutiny of the NSA’s spying policies; former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s return visit to N. Korea; the recently passed congressional budget deal; A&E puts “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson on hiatus after gay criticisms in GQ article; and the continuing flap over Rush Limbaugh’s calling Pope Francis a Marxist were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
BREAKING NEWS: Clear Channel to Buy Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment and Buckley Radio announced today that Clear Channel is purchasing AM radio station WOR 710 from Buckley Broadcasting Corporation, pending FCC approval. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “WOR is an iconic New York City brand with a rich history and an exciting future,” states John Hogan, chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. “Clear Channel is excited to add WOR as a powerful, high potential complement to our New York brands. We believe WOR makes our already incredible platform even more interesting for listeners, advertisers, and strategic partners and we look forward to the tremendous potential WOR adds to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment New York.” Joseph Bilotta, president and CEO of Buckley Radio tells TALKERS, “For more than 23 years, Buckley Radio has been the steward of one of the most legendary radio stations in broadcasting history and I would like to sincerely thank all of the wonderful people who devoted their time, energy and efforts over the years to WOR Radio.” He continues, “By passing the baton to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, WOR listeners, advertisers and employees will gain access to the unparalleled resources of a worldwide, multi-dimensional media and entertainment company. We have had a great run with WOR and could not be more confident that it is poised for another great run as part of the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment team.” Clear Channel Media and Entertainment currently owns five stations in the New York market including 103.5 KTU, Q104.3, Z100, 106.7 Lite fm and Power 105.1.
Speculation Abounds About the Implications of WOR/CC Deal. Information about this deal was kept even more closely guarded than Romney’s plans to select Ryan as his VP choice. Insiders at the station report that the airstaff had no idea what was going to be announced at an emergency staff meeting called on Friday afternoon for this morning at 9:00 am. Big news like this, however, travels fast once released in a small industry – the buzz being that Clear Channel has now gauranteed a number one market home for two of its major syndicated franchises, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity – currently cleared on Cumulus Media’s WABC. All signs from Cumulus indicating its plan to take news/talk in a different direction lend credence to that speculation. Stay tuned.
Romney’s VP Selection of Paul Ryan on a Saturday Reminds Programmers: Are You Prepared to Cover Breaking News? How your news/talk station handles a breaking news event on any day of the week – either in your market or outside of it – often determines how the people in your market perceive your value as a source of news and even opinion. TALKERS magazine managing editor Kevin Casey reports programmers and hosts across the nation who are dedicated to being the source of news, information and hosting that community “backyard fence” have very similar approaches to covering events such as the recent tragedy in Aurora. It’s all about planning ahead, using the staff you have creatively and being that place where listeners can turn to talk when they need to vent. Read Kevin Casey’s piece here.
Cumulus Rolling Out Geraldo Nationally Today. After recent launches on its O&Os in New York (WABC) and Los Angeles (KABC), Cumulus Media’s syndication division goes national today with the Geraldo Rivera Show. Emanating from New York, the program, titled “Geraldo,” airs between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon ET. Cumulus is banking on Rivera’s middle ground political stance to further underscore its apparent course to modify what some consider news/talk radio’s predominantly conservative and confrontational style. This follows the company’s recent high-profile rollout of former Arkansas Governor/Republican Presidential candidate (and Fox News Channel host) Mike Huckabee’s “more conversational” brand of syndicated news/talk radio. Rivera will reportedly debut on 45 stations including KLIF, Dallas and WCFO, Atlanta with another half dozen expected in coming weeks. Rivera tells TALKERS, “I’m thrilled that just as the nation hurtles toward the highly charged and hard-fought 2012 presidential election, I’ll be coming on the air nationwide. Fasten your seat belts. With America divided along red/blue, right/left lines, I hope to occupy the militant middle and be a referee between ideologies. Everyone is welcome on the radio show, and the conversation is no holds barred.”
Rush Limbaugh Remains #1 on Top Talk Audiences Chart; Listening Dips Slightly in Spring 2012. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated star Rush Limbaugh keeps his long-held spot atop the TALKERS survey of the top talk radio hosts – based on audience data – for the spring 2012 period of March, April and May. Listenership to many news/talk stations and hosts dipped to a small degree during the period in question, although that conclusion cannot be construed to be one that applies to all news/talk stations across the board nor all hosts. The imperfect science of rating radio in and of itself provides caution to those wishing to come to concrete conclusions about the numbers. Reasons for the “spring dip” are being attributed by some media observers to be the result of “political burnout” as the frenzy of the presidential primary season passes, as well as the easing into the traditionally different mindset listeners get into as summer approaches and schedules begin to change. Regardless, news/talk stations typically enjoy a big bounce from presidential election years in the fall ratings periods illustrating the natural ebb and flow of talk radio listenership. To view the entire Top Talk Radio Audiences chart for the spring 2012 period, click here.
Michael Harrison Receives 2012 Ethical Media Award. TALKERS founder and publisher Michael Harrison was honored Friday (8/10) by the California Coast Venture Forum with its 2012 “Ethical Media Award” at the organization’s Fourth Annual Clean Business Investment Summit on the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. The award was presented to Harrison by Christie Communications CEO Gillian Christie who praised Harrison as displaying outstanding leadership in his 45 year career as a broadcaster and trade publisher in protecting and defending the principles of free speech in America. In accepting the award, Harrison told the audience of approximately 250 socially responsible entrepreneurs and investors from around California that the precious opportunity in America to start a business or invent a product that bucks the establishment is akin to the rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the First Amendment and should never be taken for granted.
KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh Debuts Weekend Car Show. Using in-house talent Vinnie Richichi and Rob Pratte, the CBS Radio news/talk station brings “Drivetime” to the air on KDKA-AM Saturday mornings at 7:00 am. Richichi (pictured here at right) is a midday personality on the company’s sports talk KDKA-FM – 93.7 The Fan – and Pratte ( at left) is a 30-year veteran of KDKA-AM where he’s a sports reporter and host of “Weekend Magazine.” The station states, “‘Drivetime’ will be a weekly mix of ‘guy next door’ car reviews, interviews with interesting and informative guests from the automotive world and interactive calls from listeners. Topics will range from selling a car, how to get the most out of your automotive experience and even include discussions on the best drive-in movies in Pennsylvania. Richichi and Pratte approach the show with humor and the passion both feel about their wheels.” Richichi has been reviewing cars for more than 25 years and produces a “Drivetime” radio feature that airs across America and Canada. He says, “It’s a show that gives people who are into cars a place to talk about what they love with two guys who get grease under their fingernails before every show.”
Sid Rosenberg Returns to Miami Airwaves Today. Trouble-prone (but extremely talented) sports talk show host Sid Rosenberg returns to the airwaves today as morning drive host on WMEN 640, Royal Palm Beach, Florida after losing his job at WQAM 560, Miami shortly after being hit with a DUI charge in April. According to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that was only his most recent bout with drugs, alcohol and gambling, addictions that had sent him to rehab twice and cost him at least five jobs, by his count. “I don’t blame them. I fired myself. I’m accountable,” said Rosenberg, whose April case is pending. He said he hasn’t had a drink in four months and has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings daily. He also attends Gamblers Anonymous meetings, going eight months since his last bet. (He lost $750 when Florida State didn’t cover the point spread in its 23-19 win over Miami on Nov. 12.) The report goes on to say that Rosenberg is “really trying” to be humble. That’s the first of AA’s 12 steps to a successful recovery.
Philadelphia Talk Host Dom Giordano Moderates Voter ID Law Panel. WPHT, Philadelphia midday talk host Dom Giordano served as the moderator during yesterday’s “Winning in 2012: Maximizing the Vote and Minimizing the Fraud” panel discussion of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law sponsored by the Independence Hall Tea Party Association and held on Independence Mall. The program was headlined by American Spectator senior editor John Fund and included: political analyst and election law expert, Rich Zeoli; Linda Kerns, Esquire; a GOTV workshop conducted by Martin Gillespie, NE Regional Director of American Majority, and attorney Matt Rooney of SaveJersey.com.
Odds & Sods. Salem Radio Network morning drive host Bill Bennett has a special connection to newly-named Republican veep choice Rep. Paul Ryan. Chairman Ryan once worked for Bennett years ago when he and Jack Kemp created the Washington think tank Empower America…..According to a report by The Press of Atlantic City the recent shooting death of New Jersey talk show host April Kauffman has sparked a marked increase in applications for gun permits in the city of Linwood. Police there say the number of requests is on its way to doubling last year’s number – a trend they indicate has been prompted by the shooting. No arrests have been made in the case of 47-year-old Kauffman, a businesswoman and radio show host who was known widely as an advocate for military veterans.
Feliz Cumpleanos. ESPN Deportes Dallas (KZMP-AM) celebrates its fifth anniversary as the first ESPN O&O to take the ESPN Deportes Spanish-language sports format. To celebrate, the station broadcast live on August 9 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm at Ojos Locos in Dallas. Pictured here are: Back Row — fifth from the left (blue shirt) Pete Dits, VP/general manager, ESPN Dallas; sixth from left Rafa Ramos, host of Deportes’ Raza Deportiva; seventh from left Tato Noriega, former Mexican National team player and ESPN Deportes TV personality. Front Row – fourth from left (black shirt) Jim Roberts, senior director/Deportes Local Radio Group and ESPN Deportes Dallas station manager.
There’s No Business Like Show Business. Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher spent this past weekend appearing onstage in Los Angeles. Gallagher, who—in addition to his daily SRN program and his duties as a regular contributor to the FOX News Channel—is a member of Actor’s Equity, was guest starring in the West Coast production of the Tony Award-winning “MEMPHIS: The Musical.” As he was leaving his dressing room backstage at the historic Pantages Theatre, who walked up to greet Gallagher but legendary director and funnyman Mel Brooks. Brooks essayed the role of backstage theatre critic and gave Gallagher’s performance a big thumbs-up.
Coming Tomorrow. Noted talk radio consultant Holland Cooke presents an informative and provocative piece exploring how you can tell a lot about a news/talk station from its weekend programming — or lack thereof.