Michael Harrison Gets ‘Up Close and Far Out’ with Legendary KGO, San Francisco Talkmeister Ronn Owens. This week’s new installment of Podcast One’s international hit podcast for media freaks, “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” is posted today (7/14). It features a compelling conversation between TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and legendary radio talk show host Ronn Owens. Owens is about to mark his 40th anniversary with the heritage San Francisco outlet KGO – having survived numerous regimes and ownership changes during that four-decade period, including the controversial 2011 reorganization of the station from a news/talk format to an all-news direction that left Owens the station’s only full-time talk show host. In addition, Owens recently disclosed publicly that he has been privately dealing with the challenges of Parkinson’s Disease for the past 13 years that has progressed to the point that he will be undergoing a leading-edge form of surgery called Deep Brain Stimulation. This aggressive procedure, when successful, has been shown to alleviate the incurable neurological disorder’s movement-prohibiting symptoms. Owens – ranked by TALKERS as one of the 25 most important radio talk show hosts of all time — discusses his career and views on talk radio, including the power of local programming, options beyond the left/right paradigm, the disastrous simulcast of his show on KGO and KABC, Los Angeles in 1997-98 and the impact of cell phones on the format, plus more. He also candidly talks about his quiet battle with advancing Parkinson’s Disease, his decision to open up about it and details of the exotic form of brain surgery that he will be facing in August. Harrison says of Owens, “This man is truly one of the giants of the industry. Just like all the truly great performers of the talk radio arts, he rises above technique and has made it big simply based upon his unique brand of ‘personhood’ – an elusive quality that the Dickey Brothers obviously recognize – and speaks volumes about their nuanced awareness factor. Add to that, his backbone is of figurative steel as he faces an experimental form of invasive surgery. Ronn Owens is an inspiration to us all, professionally and personally. I am so darned pleased to be able to present this podcast to the industry and the world.” This is a must-listen for members of the professional radio community. To hear the entire podcast, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player located in the right hand column of every page of Talkers.com.
LeGrett Lands iHeartMedia LA Market President Slot. Currently senior vice president of operations for approximately 225 iHeartMedia stations in roughly 50 northeast and midwest markets, Kevin LeGrett is shifting to market president for the company’s eight-station Los Angeles cluster. Executive vice president of operations for iHeartMedia – and the company’s Southern California president – Greg Ashlock (to whom LeGrett will report) comments, “Kevin has a successful track record leading operations and accelerating growth across multiple regions. He has earned the right to lead our largest market. His vast experience managing talent and revenue across so many diverse markets and stations will allow him to bring a unique perspective to our Los Angeles portfolio – a portfolio that I have been blessed to directly manage for the last decade that hosts the most compelling on-air talent and most innovative leaders in the business.” LeGrett states that he is “thrilled” at the “opportunity to lead” the “extremely talented” Los Angeles team. He further states, “iHeartMedia Los Angeles has some of the most iconic brands and beloved personalities in the country. With the instantaneous success of [urban contemporary KRRL] ‘Real 92.3’ and the continued stellar ratings and thriving pop culture events such as ‘Wango Tango’ and ‘Jingle Ball,’ it is an exciting time for the market. I look forward to the opportunity to further build on the team’s already enormous success.” LeGrett, who begins his new duties in three weeks (8/3), joined iHeartMedia five years ago as vice president and market manager for the company’s Rochester stations. He will be leading a Los Angeles group of properties that includes hot AC KBIG “My-FM” and adult contemporary KOST “Coast 103.5,” tied for second in Nielsen Audio‘s June 2015 PPM, each with 5.1 (6+). Also in the top ten this June are iHM CHR KIIS “Kiss-FM” (#4, 4.9) and talk KFI (#8, 3.5). The rest of the company’s Los Angeles cluster consists of aforementioned urban contemporary KRRL “Real 9.2.3” (formerly urban-rhythmic oldies KHHT “Hot 92.3,” #11, 3.1); alternative KYSR “Alt 98.7” (#20, 2.3); and sports/Los Angeles Dodgers’ flagship KLAC and talk KEIB (both with .9, tied at #30).
Cumulus Media Expands Brand Partnerships Team. This move includes promotions for two current Cumulus Media staffers. The company says that in expanding the Brand Partnerships team, it has named Leslie Slender vice president, Brand Partnerships and Events, and Leslie Caraccilo, vice president, Brand Partnerships. The Brand Partnerships division is responsible for developing “unique experiential opportunities for Cumulus and Westwood One, connecting advertisers to its listening audiences and leveraging its integrated radio, digital, social and live events platform.” Slender has been serving as Cumulus New York’s corporate director, events and marketing. She’ll continue to oversee marketing and events for Cumulus New York stations. Caraccilo has been with the company for five years as was most recently senior director of digital monetization. She’ll continue to oversee digital sales strategy for Cumulus. Cumulus SVP of Brand Partnership Tommy Page states, “We are excited to welcome these two talented professionals to the Brand Partnerships team. Leslie Slender is a rare example of a marketer that is not only outstanding at producing and executing live events, but also knows how to package these opportunities for advertisers. Leslie Caraccilo has done an incredible job of creating custom digital and content solutions for our advertisers across the Cumulus platform. Her understanding of artist programming and deep knowledge of the digital space make her a natural fit for our Brand Partnerships team. With these strong additions to our already stellar Westwood One events group, all Cumulus and Westwood One partners and advertisers will benefit from this powerhouse team’s expertise.”
USA Radio Network Helps Sponsor Broadcast of Family Leadership Summit. A live, five-hour broadcast from the Family Leadership Summit on Saturday, July 18 is being made available for free to broadcasters from USA Radio Networks in cooperation with Truth Radio Network. The Ames, Iowa event will originate from Iowa State University and be anchored by nationally syndicated host and political commentator Steve Deace and American values expert Steve Noble. The live broadcast will give voters the opportunity to hear from top conservative leaders and Republican presidential candidates, including: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Bob Vander Plaats. USA Radio Networks SVP of news operations Russ Jones says, “Iowa is a key battleground state for any presidential candidate. The Family Leadership Summit is the first major platform the electorate will get to hear how candidates would lead the nation.”
Art Bell Returns to Airwaves in Portland on Monday. We’ve known for some time now that Art Bell has been preparing to return to hosting a nightly program via his Dark Matter Digital Network, but now Alpha Media announces the originator of “Coast to Coast AM” will bring his new show – “Midnight in the Desert” – to KXL-FM, Portland beginning Monday, July 20. The show will air from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am local time and will follow Clyde Lewis’ “Ground Zero.” Alpha Portland SVP/market manager Milt McConnell comments, “Art is an American original in terms of putting the paranormal on the radio landscape. We are so proud to extend his coverage to the Northwest where there is a rabid appetite for his unique brand of communication.”
2015 Marconi Finalists Announced. The 2015 Marconi Award finalists have been announced by the NAB. The annual awards, to be given out during the NAB Radio Show in Atlanta on October 1, are divvied up into 20 categories. Legendary Station of the Year finalists include: news/talk outlets KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa; WHIO-AM, Dayton; and all-news KYW, Philadelphia. Major Market Personality of the Year finalists include: Felger & Massarotti from sports talk WBZ-FM, Boston and Hal Jay from news/talk WBAP, Dallas. View all the finalists here.
WYM Media to Distribute Malcolm Out Loud Features. Through WYM Media Management, radio news commentator Malcolm Out Loud is expanding his daily radio presence with three new features. “Out Loud News and Comment” is the news of the day with Malcolm’s unique twist; “Out Loud America” is a “relevant and timely commentary from Malcolm”; and “Brink Thinking Out Loud” is “motivational content and inspiring stories and positive events shaping our world.” Malcolm Out Loud is a motivational speaker, innovator and creator of the popular websites OutLoudAmerica.com and BrinkThinking.com.
KCMO, Kansas City Holds Drive to Assist Mother of Six Caught Shoplifting. The case of homeless widow and mother-of-six Sarah Robinson was the focus of attention for Cumulus Media’s Kansas City radio stations, led by news/talk KCMO on Saturday as it held a donation drive Saturday for the family. Robinson was cited for shoplifting at a local Walmart but the officer who responded, Mark Engravalle, decided to pay for the diapers and wipes for her twin two-year-olds and bought shoes for her other girls. After hearing the woman’s story of desperation, the stations planned a two-hour donation drive that netted cash, diapers, baby wipes, clothing, blankets, food, toiletries and other items. KCMO morning host Rob Carson hosted both Robinson and Officer Engravalle on his show on Monday. Officer Engravalle remains touched that he’s changed someone’s life for the better and he is in constant touch with Sarah, who is off the street with her girls in temporary lodging, while something more permanent is being arranged. The generosity continues with a local law firm offering her a job.
Odds & Sods. Texas-based talk show host Lynn Woolley is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his talk show. Woolley says his days as a talk show host go back to 1995 when he and two partners operated KTEM, Kileen-Temple…..The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and Capitol Broadcasting Company have reached a multi-year agreement for WCMC, Raleigh “99.9 The Fan” to continue serving as the team’s flagship station through the 2019-20 season.
Cool Job Opportunity. NBC Sports Radio in Culver City, California is looking for the next great sports talk producer! Are you totally immersed in all things sports? Can you oversee and manage a top-notch, daily sports talk show and book compelling guests and newsmakers? Can you handle show/talent/guest prep, organize formats and rundowns, develop content, fact-check and research, and distribute social media and digital content across platforms? Do you have excellent live and studio production skills using multiple software programs, including Adobe Audition and Pro Tools? If you can do all this and have 3-4 year’s major market or network experience, we want to talk to you! Send a link to work materials, including resume and audio samples, to Jack Silver, Program Director, at email@example.com. No calls, please.
WBAP, Dallas’ Bushman Recognized with Regional Murrow Award. WBAP, Dallas-Fort Worth news staffer Eric Bushman was recently honored with Regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for his reporting on the U.S. Ebola outbreak last year. Dallas was “Ground Zero” for Bushman’s story, and he was lead reporter from start to finish. This is the second consecutive year Bushman has been honored with a Murrow Award. Last year, he received one for his comprehensive coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. WBAP, Dallas operations and program manager Tyler Cox comments, “Eric’s work represents the type of reporting that is the signature of the WBAP news staff: comprehensive, in-depth, and sticking with the story from start-to-finish.”
Nicole Sandler Auctioning Cool Radio Memorabilia for Radio Or Not. Progressive talk personality Nicole Sandler is opening up her archives of radio memorabilia for an auction to help support her Radio Or Not digital platform. Sandler says she’s always vowed to not put her content behind a paywall and this auction – which starts tomorrow (7/15) – will help her costs of operation. Sandler is not the only radio pro who’s been collecting cool radio and music artifacts over the years. In fact, TALKERS editors believe one of the interesting, untold stories in the radio biz is just what these personal treasure troves contain. Sandler’s has some pretty fun items that come from her days producing for Jim Kerr at WPLJ, New York and for Mark & Brian at KLOS, Los Angeles. Note the autographed guitar pictured above that’s been signed by Johnny Cash, BB King, Les Paul, James Taylor, Roger Daltrey, Todd Rundgren and others. Then, for political wonks, the Bill and Hillary corkscrew-nutcracker pair pictured here at right make the perfect election year gift! Sandler’s auction site is: radioornot.com/auction.
2016 Presidential Candidates/Scott Walker Joins Race, Mexican Drug Lord Prison Escape, Iran Nuclear Talks, NYC Eric Garner Settlement, Immigration Policy-Sanctuary Cities, Greek Debt Deal, and MLB All-Star Break Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/13). The activities of the candidates for president in 2016 and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s entering the primary race; the escape from prison of Mexico’s most notorious drug lord; the conclusion of negotiations between Iran and the West over its nuclear program; New York City’s settlement with the family of Eric Garner over his death at the hands of an NYC cop; the ongoing controversy over the nation’s illegal immigration policy and the country’s sanctuary cities; the Greek debt solution and the effects on the EU; and the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Joe McDonnell: LA Saddened at Giant-Size Talent’s Passing. How “big” was Joe McDonnell in Los Angeles? Consider this: Friday’s (3/13) lead item for several newscasts on the city’s only all-news station, CBS Radio‘s KNX, was that the 58-year-old McDonnell – widely-known as “Big Joe” or “The Big Nasty” – had passed away. “Big” references regarded his weight, approximately 700 pounds at one time; however, the sports talk host underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost roughly more than half of that. “Nasty” became a handle owing to his highly opinionated nature. The overwhelming majority of those familiar with McDonnell’s exemplary on-air work in Los Angeles would quickly associate him with being a “legendary” or “iconic” sports talk radio “fixture” and that would certainly be accurate. He was, however, among the rarest of on-air talents in the country’s second-largest market, in that, in addition to doing a nightly (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm) sports program (“The Joe McDonnell Experience”) on Clear Channel‘s (now iHeartMedia) KLAC, he also did a Sunday (12:00 noon – 2:00 pm) political talk program (“The Joe McDonnell Show”) on co-owned KTLK-AM (now KEIB). Most recently, McDonnell did fill-in work at KNX. Reaction to his death has continued virtually nonstop, with a who’s who in local and national media, as well as executives of major sports franchises, offering condolences. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew McDonnell ever since Scioscia first came up as a catcher in the Dodgers’ organization. “He was a good friend who will be missed. It’s sad,” Scioscia states. On Twitter, Keith Olbermann writes, “Heartbroken to learn of death of LA radio legend, my friend, Joe McDonnell. He leaves us having never held a grudge.” Ken Rosenthal comments, “So sad to hear about the passing of Joe McDonnell, a one-of-a-kind sports personality in Los Angeles and a reporter at heart.” Several years ago, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian, then the special features editor for Inside Radio, did an extensive profile of McDonnell, who freely used the word “idiot” to describe someone with whom he disagreed. It was a trademark of the bombastic on-air persona of “The Big Nasty” and customarily delivered in vitriol by the dean of Los Angeles radio sports talk hosts. McDonnell garnered legions of dedicated fans. Once – to benefit charity – he accepted the challenge of co-workers and successfully completed a four-hour shift without uttering one negative. In his profile, Kinosian shattered the myth about McDonnell and let the truth be told that in real-life, McDonnell was a far cry from the manic personality listeners were accustomed to hearing. Pensive and completely conscientious McDonnell qualified as a native Angelino, having relocated from Philadelphia in 1959 at age three with his parents. “I loved radio and wouldn’t go anywhere without it,” he fondly recalled to Kinosian. “I’d go to bed listening to it and wake up with it. I went through radios [as others] went through socks. Even when doing homework, I had the radio on.” Although thoroughly enthralled by the medium, McDonnell at that time never thought about pursuing a career in it. Family members urged him to be a lawyer, but McDonnell formulated sportswriter aspirations while attending L.A. Valley College and Cal State – Northridge. His radio career was, in his words, “a total accident.” A high school buddy McDonnell hadn’t seen in a while told him he received academic credit for working at a radio station. That was all it took for McDonnell: He scored an interview for a newsroom opening at KGIL in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and his first day was September 18, 1975 – the day they arrested Patty Hearst. “I was so excited to be there and hung around to watch what everybody did. Then the story broke and I wound up staying until 10:00 pm. I fell in love with radio my first day and knew this was for me.” Freelance sports opportunities later surfaced for him at Mutual, AP Radio, and UPI Radio and he adroitly transitioned into a daily field correspondent. Play-by-play was briefly tinkered with, but long enough for McDonnell to know it didn’t captivate him. Something else did and as he flatly asserted to Kinosian, “My interest in politics is equal to my interest in sports. They are jobs but they are [also] passions. I love being able to show another side of my life. I am very liberal but do not [rubber-stamp] everything simply because that is what [other liberals] say you should do. I take things on a position-by-position basis. It is impossible and disingenuous to be one way on every subject. No one can ever accuse me of being a phony.” The first Gulf War was underway when he hosted a general talk show on KFI, Los Angeles. America’s first casualty came as a result of friendly fire. Soon after that, the victim’s widow drove to KFI one Sunday afternoon and McDonnell did two hours with her. “It was the most gut-wrenching, yet most fulfilling, thing I’ve done on radio,” he told Kinosian. “Quite honestly, I didn’t know I was capable of pulling it off. People heard me do sports and wondered what I knew about [politics]. I had to win them over.” Multiple Golden Microphone award winner McDonnell toiled in the Southland at KMAX and KWNK between 1994 – 1997; won raves doing sports updates for (then-all news) KFWB; and was part of the original 1992 staff transitioning KMPC to all-sports – although the outbreak of the L.A. riots was the considerably more monumental story the night of the format flip. For numerous personal and professional reasons, a five-year run beginning in 2000 as KSPN “ESPN 710,” Los Angeles’ assistant program director and afternoon driver profoundly affected him. “My first three years there were great,” McDonnell declared to Kinosian. “I had a say in what went on and helped build KSPN from the ground up with [KABC & KSPN OM] Erik Braverman who was my KFI producer. Unfortunately when Erik decided he wanted to concentrate on KABC, they brought in people who didn’t share our ideas.” It was one different concept after another and became the beginning of the end for McDonnell there. “They killed morale and dissolved everything we did. I wanted to leave every day the last two years I was there but made so much money I would’ve been put in a mental institution if I quit.” From the minute McDonnell walked into the Burbank offices of KLAC to interview with KLAC general manager/program director & KTLK program director Don Martin, he sensed something different. “This might sound crazy – but I really liked that they made me earn my position. Don put me on KTLK and let me do some KLAC fill-in. It meant a lot when he said I assimilated with the audience and staff. People have this idea you expect everything be given to you.” Being a sports talk host was a 24 hour-a-day job for McDonnell because, “Information doesn’t stop.” His shows were frequently punctuated with “24” and “Da Ali G” clips and laced with abundant/energetic hip-hop tracks as bumpers. At first, longtime “McDonnell – Douglas” partner Doug Krikorian wasn’t part of the equation for the “Joe McDonnell Experience,” although the Long Beach Press-Telegram sportswriter joined the ensemble to deliver weekly “K-Files” reports. After all, it was Krikorian who hung the “Big Nasty” moniker on McDonnell when Big Joe collared/disposed of a rowdy patron one night at their favorite hangout. Naturally, the subject of McDonnell’s weight came up in the Kinosian profile of him and McDonnell said that even before the gastric bypass procedure, the heavy burden he was carrying didn’t really bother him. He did however eventually begin slowing down, getting sick, and spending more time at home. “I stopped going to games because it was uncomfortable. My doctor told me I had to do something. Any addict – and I’m definitely a food addict – thinks you can do it on your own.” That’s the fallacy and something an addict desperately wants to believe but McDonnell stressed it can not be done alone. “It got to the point where I realized I was going to die. I had the surgery and lost 300 pounds. On Christmas Day, I put slabs of turkey and prime rib on a plate [surrounded with] potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. I took it to the table and had a bite of each. Hey look – I’m a food addict and always will be.” The old Joe most likely would’ve avoided on-air surgery mentions. If it did pop up, he probably would’ve been brutal in challenging the person referencing it. A much mellower McDonnell made a conscious decision when he left KSPN that the “Big Nasty” had died. “It was a great vehicle for what I needed – but – that really isn’t me,” he emphasized to Kinosian. “I’m opinionated and will raise my voice but I’m a nice guy and like to have fun. One reason I love my job is it allows me to hang with people.” Conceding it was a “shortcoming” on his part as a talk show host to refrain from mentioning much about his personal life, McDonnell declared, “You can’t be isolated and expect to reach your audience; you have to let them in on your life. For the most part, I refused to do that. Don Martin and I had a long talk about that and he said the best on-air people let you know about them.” A happy, healthy, and exuberant McDonnell chatted up his March 30, 2007 wedding to KLOS’ lovely Elizabeth Cohn (now working at cross-town Bonneville-owned KSWD “The Sound”). “I finally met someone who will put up with me and I [married] the most wonderful person in the world,” McDonnell emphasized in that profile. Joe and Elizabeth worked together for four years inside ABC Radio Los Angeles (now Cumulus Media) and basically didn’t say a word to each other. “She understands I’ll occasionally make fun of her on-air and exaggerate things but my life is now an open book.” Numerous health ailments – some nearly life-threatening – plagued McDonnell and he frequently credited Elizabeth as being the rock who held him together. An avowed movie junkie, McDonnell would go to as many as three or four in one day. It was his way to relax and escape. “One of the biggest benefits of losing weight is I can fit into theater seats. That was honestly a problem before.” Such McDonnell segments as “Who Do You Want To Kick Out Of LA?” gave him a Northeast-sounding vibe, but his entire nearly 40-year career was spent in Los Angeles. The ardent WWE fan told Kinosian, “It would take a million dollar offer for me to leave Los Angeles. In the early-1990s, I had a chance to work for a friend in Nashville and had a big offer to go to Seattle in 1994 but my mother had cancer so I wasn’t about to leave town. There was a preliminary discussion years ago with WFAN, New York about being a reporter/weekend host but Los Angeles is my home. I’m part of the radio landscape.” Eerie now, but McDonnell confided to Kinosian in that lengthy printed conversation, “All the stuff I’ve done is leading up to something. I’ve always felt there was a bigger plan for me and a different path. God has kept me around for a reason – but I don’t know what it is. With what I’ve put myself through, any other person would have been dead by now.” Even at his heaviest, the voracious reader managed to stay in “fairly good shape.” The only weakness until recently was with his knees. According to McDonnell, “The ultimate moment for me would be to somehow find out who really killed John F. Kennedy.” As for the once “Big Nasty,” no cause of death was reported; several reports – including the one on KNX – said he died at Los Angeles’ Good Samaritan Hospital after a “brief illness.” A two-hour Friday night (3/13) Jeff Biggs-hosted show on KSPN paid tribute to McDonnell, who typically aired his “Kick Out” segment Fridays. Poignant, touching, and chillingly appropriate, the final word was given to Elizabeth McDonnell who somehow managed to summon up the strength in her voice to utter she wanted to kick Joe out of LA. Dramatic, goose-bump radio. “When I die,” McDonnell once told Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, “I want to be cremated and then have a plane spread half of my ashes over Dodger Stadium and the other half over the [ex-home of the Lakers] Forum.”
CC LA Moves Denton to AMs Duty. According to Don Barrett’s LARadio.com, Clear Channel Media + Entertainment’s Los Angeles cluster is shifting general sales manager Bill Denton’s responsibilities from CHR KIIS and alternative KYSR to its AM properties – news/talk KFI, conservative talker KEIB, and sports talk KLAC. The piece goes on to report that Denton’s skills in generating income for radio stations are well known in the market (CC reportedly lured him away from CBS last year) and that CC management would like him to put his talents to work on the AMs which have reported recent revenue decreases. This move comes as an estimated six sales staffers exit the LA cluster in a company-wide move that some are reporting eliminated up to 300 jobs nationally. Read the LARadio.com piece here.
Hubbard Radio Names Bustell VP of Market Research. The company creates a new position, vice president of market research and brings The Media Audit’s Mike Bustell aboard to fill the role. Hubbard Radio EVP and COO Drew Horowitz states, “I am thrilled to have someone of Mike’s caliber joining Hubbard Radio to create an entirely new revenue stream for the company. In a slow growth or no growth environment it is incumbent on us to develop new revenue models to keep our business on a growth trajectory. Mike will bring an innovative approach to our sales teams helping them develop new revenue categories and expand our current account expenditures with programs that deliver results.” Bustell served as executive vice president of sales and marketing at The Media Audit and major market manager for Impact Resources. Bustell comments, “It’s an honor to come to work for Hubbard Radio. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of their stations, managers, and salespeople throughout the country, many for as long as 20 years. Hubbard is the finest, private, family-owned broadcaster in America. They win awards, serve their communities, and dominate in ratings, and revenue generation. They play to win and have great values and a great history. I can’t wait to dive into all their research tools and assist their stations help more local advertisers and industries achieve growth.”
New iHeartRadio Networks Unveiled. A press statement from Clear Channel says its new advertising platform is a “unified one-of-a-kind platform [that] will better maximize Clear Channel’s powerful collection of assets, providing the targeted impact marketers need ― and what they are accustomed to receiving from television networks.” The company explains, “This new Network offers advertisers’ access to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s 840 live radio stations, plus popular digital channels, local website properties, nationally-syndicated programs and satellite radio channels. The network also includes specialized and proprietary options like talent endorsements, organic DJ mentions and product placements, commercial roadblock messaging across the entire network and nimble copy change capability since all the assets are owned and operated by Clear Channel.” Clear Channel Networks president Darren Davis comments, “The new unified network has the tremendous capability to give advertisers the massive reach they’d expect from a radio or television network, but with the effective frequency and enhancements not typically available in the network advertising space. It’s truly the best way for a brand to reach American consumers in a much more affordable way than television networks – and with greater ROI.” The company is also introducing a range of iHeartRadio Targeted Networks designed to effectively reach specific demographic and psychographic groups – including Country, Hispanic, African-American, Millennial, Women, Men and Holiday.
JC Corcoran Begins Digital Venture. Along with his former KIHT “K-Hits” producer/partner Laurie Mac, longtime St. Louis radio personality JC Corcoran (pictured here with Mac) is debuting his new digital program title, appropriately, “The Digital Showgram.” Corcoran worked in the St. Louis market for 29 years before leaving last year to host mornings at Clear Channel’s classic rock KKRW, Houston (which subsequently flipped to hip hop as “93.7 The Beat”). Corcoran’s show streams live from 6:30 to 8:00 am daily and then goes into podcast mode. Corcoran is operating on a subscription model at $9.99 per month. He says, “We are a commercial-free, entertaining talk show for St. Louis. We’re giving the audience almost exactly what they got during our terrific run that ended in 2009, but without the commercials, clutter, filler and music repetition we know they detest.” JC says his early sign-off time makes him available for additional broadcast opportunities. His programing is available at jcontheline.com.
Fourth Round of March PPM Data Released. PPM data from the fourth and final group of 12 markets for the March 2014 period (February 27 – March 26) has been released by Nielsen Audio. Those markets include: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all the (subscriber) numbers here. Managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian offers his “Ten Takeaways” from the report at RadioInfo.com here.
Hofstra University’s Bob Papper Releases Annual News Director Survey. You’ll find Hofstra University Professor Emeritus Bob Papper’s annual news director study at the RTDNA site here. Some of the interesting results include the following: Radio news directors are more stable in their jobs compared to their television brethren, staying with their station for an average of just over 9 years relative to TV’s 2 years in major markets and 3 years in large and medium markets; also, the average age of both TV and radio news directors is 49.
KBME, Houston Tweaks Program Schedule. The air schedule at Clear Channel’s sports talk KBME, Houston is being shuffled as the Fox Sports Radio Network-syndicated “Jay Mohr Sports” program moves to early evenings and the station reverts to live and local during the day. The Houston Chronicle reports that Matt Thomas moves from the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm show to the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm slot currently occupied by Mohr, and Charlie Pallilo’s show slides down from the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. The paper says ratings show a dramatic drop-off during the first hour of Mohr’s program.
Bonneville’s KTAR-FM Honored with Four Regional Murrows. Phoenix market news/talk KTAR-FM is the recipient of four Edward R. Murrow regional awards, from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Bonneville Phoenix VP and market manager Scott Sutherland says, “We are thrilled that the KTAR news team is once again being recognized for producing first-rate journalism that makes a difference in our community.” The four awards were for: Continuing Coverage: “Tragedy at Yarnell Hill” – KTAR news, talk, and digital content teams; News Series: “Immigration: Seeking Solutions” – Jim Cross, Aaron Granillo, Sandra Haros, Bob McClay, Martha Maurer, talk show, and digital content teams; Reporting, Sports: “Hoops History on Wheels” – Aaron Granillo; Use of Sound: “Miracle League” – Aaron Granillo.
Odds & Sods. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit Pistons basketball will move from its current home at CBS RADIO Detroit to Greater Media’s new sports talk outlet WMGC “Detroit Sports 105.1.” The story reports Greater Media will make an announcement later today but also quotes CBS Detroit market manager Deb Kenyon stating her company decided not to bid on a renewal after considering the terms…..WKNR, Cleveland sports talk host Tony Rizzo will not serve any jail time after he pleaded “no contest” to a reduced “persistent disorderly conduct” charge in connection with a December incident during which his wife Catherine reported Rizzo struck her. Rizzo was sentenced to 30 days with 27 suspended and received credit for the three days he served…..Hubbard Radio’s WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN Radio” announces it has renewed its deal to serve as the flagship for St. Louis Rams football play-by-play. The multi-year deal includes current Rams Radio on-air personalities Steve Savard and D’Marco Farr continuing in their roles on game days and throughout the week…..SiriusXM is adding a new show called “OurTime with Matthew Segal” to the lineup on its P.O.T.U.S. channel. SiriusXM calls it a “new six-week series produced by and for Millennial listeners…each episode will be organized by theme and dedicated to a non-partisan discussion that offers a fresh, in-depth dialogue of issues faced by the nation today, including health care, the budget, education, LGBT equality, and voting rights.” Segal is founder of OurTime.org.
Talk Radio Day at the United Nations Set for Thursday, June 19. TALKERS magazine announces the next installment of its annual international initiative, “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations.” Presented in conjunction with Talk Radio News Service and in association with the United Nations Foundation, the event consists of a massive radio row held in the heart of the United Nations’ iconic headquarters on the East Side of Manhattan. Approximately 25 talk show hosts and programs from around the country are given the opportunity to do live shows or simply record interviews on the scene for later playback with a wide variety of special guests including UN officials, foreign ambassadors, international policy experts and representatives of the arts and sciences from around the world. “This is one of our most prideful annual events,” states TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “and I am absolutely delighted that – in spite of the technical and tactical challenges presented by a project of this complexity and enormity – we are able to produce yet another installment in 2014.” Harrison says, “It accomplishes a number of important things – most notably, it gives a variety of talk show hosts and millions of their listeners in every corner of the country the opportunity to shift gears and discuss international news stories of significant consequence that rarely, if ever, are covered or discussed in the mainstream American media. Some of these stories have staggering implications on war, peace, life and death.” Harrison also points out, “Hosts of just about every political and ideological persuasion have raved about this event over the many years we have been doing it saying that it has proven to be a personally rewarding experience for them as much as it has provided a spectacular bit of special programming to their stations and networks.” “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations” will conveniently take place the day before Talkers New York 2014 when many talk show hosts are already in New York City. Hosts already on board include Alan Colmes of Fox News Radio; Doug Stephan of the “Good Day” show; Larry Young of WOLB, Baltimore; Dr. Joy Browne of Radio America; Martha Zoller of WGAU, Athens, GA; Ethan Bearman of GCN and KGO, San Francisco; Carole Marks of “A Touch of Grey” and more. Talk Radio News Service will broadcast the entire day to its hundreds of affiliates across the nation with more to be announced and the event will be covered live on TalkersRadio. All equipment and broadcast set ups are provided at no cost for the convenience of the participants – but placement is limited and this will fill up rapidly, so interested hosts should call 413-565-5413 quickly to inquire about signing up.
Tan Talk Network Owner David Wagenvoord Dies. Details of David Wagenvoord’s passing are few but friend and business partner Jerry Dennon tells TALKERS Wagenvoord owned many stations over the years and was involved in the brokering business. Wagenvoord owned WTAN, Clearwater, Florida; WDCF, Dade City, Florida; and WZHR, Zephyrhills, Florida on which he operated the Tan Talk Network.
George Noory Goes ‘Hitting for Heroes.’ As “Coast to Coast AM” host George Noory might admit, he was actually trying to hit for heroes as he and son Jonathan (pictured here standing to Noory’s left) attended the annual Hitting For Heroes event on Friday, April 18, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Benefitting Little Patriots Embraced, a charity focused on enhancing the lives of military families in need, the event gives baseball fans a chance to hit one out the park by going up to bat against the warm-up pitchers for the St. Louis Cardinals. Noory confesses he missed every pitch and is not going to give up his night job!
Russian Aggression in Ukraine, ObamaCare Criticism, 2016 Presidential Race/Chelsea Clinton Pregnancy, Global Warming, Boston Marathon/Bombing Anniversary Coverage, South Korean Ferry Tragedy, and Teen Jet Stowaway Among Top Stories Yesterday (4/21). Growing concern over Vladimir Putin’s troops entering Ukraine; debate over the number of people signed up for health care via the Affordable Care Act; speculation about candidates for president in 2016 and chatter about Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy and what it may mean for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy; ongoing disagreement over the state of the science behind anthropogenic climate change; coverage of the 2014 Boston Marathon and the memorials one year after last year’s bombings; the search for survivors and questions about culpability in the South Korean ferry accident; and the case of a 16-year-old teen who survived a flight from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a jet were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Tim Benz Promoted to Sports Director at CC Pittsburgh. Programmer and air personality Tim Benz exits his role as morning show host at alternative WXDX, Pittsburgh “105.9 The X” to take the sports director role at Clear Channel’s Pittsburgh cluster. With the move, WXDX evening host Abby Krizner moves to mornings. According to Pittsburgh’s Timesonline.com, Benz’s move means he’ll host a show on sister sports talker WBGG but will also continue to contribute to WXDX’s sports content (the station is the Penguins flagship). In a related move, Benz’s co-host Bob McLaughlin stays with the station as producer of the sports-heavy PM drive Mark Madden program on WXDX. About his promotion and the expansion of sports programming which will see his commentary used on cluster stations including rock WDVE, CHR WKST “96.1 KISS,” news/talk WPGB “FM News Talk 104.7,” and classic hits WWSW “94.5 3WS,” Benz tells Timesonline.com, “This opportunity to extend sports programming is something we have been discussing for some time and will enhance our platforms.” He’ll host the daily 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm show on WBGG.
James Crystal Radio Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. After reports surfaced in the radio trades (including TALKERS) that James Crystal Radio had missed payroll in January, questions began to arise about the state of the company’s affairs and, sure enough, it’s now public information that the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of Florida. In the filing, James Crystal Radio lists assets of between $1 million and $10 million with between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities. Some of the 20 creditors with the largest claims include: more than $220,000 owned to BMI, more than $1.5 million to various attorneys for fees, plus some $861,000 owed to the IRS in payroll taxes and more than $200,000 in property and local taxes. This is a particularly unfortunate situation since the company has operated in a very locally focused manner giving opportunities to Florida personalities at news/talk WFTL and sports talk WMEN, both serving the West Palm Beach and South Florida markets. The company also owns foreign-language WFLL, Fort Lauderdale and gospel KBXD, Dallas.
Dave Ramsey Crosses Town to KEIB, Los Angeles. Nationally syndicated financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey moves from news/talk KFWB, Los Angeles to Clear Channel’s new conservative talk KEIB “The Patriot 1150” where the show will air from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm beginning February 24. KEIB program director Robin Bertolucci says, “We are delighted and excited to have Dave as part of our lineup. With his proven track record in LA, he’ll be an excellent addition to our station.” Currently, local personality Carlos Amezcua airs in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot on KEIB.
KFWB Expands ‘Money 101’ with Bob McCormick. With the departure of Dave Ramsey, CBS RADIO operated KFWB, Los Angeles grows Bob McCormick’s “Money 101” program and places it in the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm slot on the program schedule. As a result, “LA’s Morning News with Penny Griego and Phil Hulett” adds another hour, wrapping at 10:00 am. The station notes that McCormick “is a recognized authority on personal finance issues in Southern California…his fast-paced show features compelling content that goes beyond the headlines and focuses on how these issues influence our lives in Southern California.” Program director Andy Ludlum says of the changes, “We have enjoyed a great relationship with Dave Ramsey and his team. They are consummate professionals and Dave did a great job for us. It was a good partnership, but the opportunity to add more local programming to super-serve our listeners prevailed.”
Envision Networks Announces New Brand. The new name and branding for Envision Radio Networks is Envision Networks. The 11-year-old media network, which provides content and services to more than 1,500 radio stations across the country, says it has grown beyond the scope of a radio-only syndication company and that the new name Envision Networks encompasses its heritage radio business as well as its growing digital networks, streaming networks and on-demand listening. President and CEO Danno Wolkoff states, “Envision Networks is a more accurate representation of our current evolution and growth in radio, digital, streaming and product placement. The Envision Networks name and branding now reflects everything we supply to radio stations and other media while creating a desirable audience for our advertisers and partners.”
Broadcasting Pro Todd Feinburg Launches Boston Traffic Service. It’s called J4traffic and the Boston-based broadcasting pro tells TALKERS magazine it is a “crowd sourced, all-traffic radio station for Boston, the first radio format being launched by Speaks Mobile, Inc.” The app is available for free download from the Apple and Android stores. Todd Feinburg (who co-hosted morning drive on WRKO, Boston for the past five years and currently is doing part-time and fill-in work for WBZ-AM) explains the concept behind this initiative. “Rush hour is expanding to encompass much of the day in major American cities, and not just on weekdays. Radio traffic reports lack the frequency, substance and reliability to be effective at easing this pain, and traffic maps don’t go together well with the legal and practical responsibilities of operating a motor vehicle. Furthermore, traffic data delivered to mobile apps lacks the nuance that drivers need to make effective decisions regarding comparative routes – and it’s generally not much fun. We will correct these problems with The Jay – on-demand traffic talk radio that is informed by the crowd.” Feinburg says the programming will consist of a traffic report every five minutes. In between, they’ll broadcast updates reported to them by commuters. Drivers will share what they see on the road via 15 second mp3s they record on the J4traffic app, or they’ll call in with live reports. He says they are in “beta” mode right now but once they’re up to speed, they’ll use “Facebook mobile ads and Google keyword ads to push new users to the app in order to speed growth. In addition, we are optimistic that local media outlets will respond well to a PR campaign emphasizing a new format – all traffic radio – on a platform that has not been used to offer unique, local, radio content – but has been proven successful by companies such as Pandora, Spotify and Apple.” Feinburg says their positioning will be “as a humble, bootstrap operation looking to solve a problem, because that’s what we are. We see this as the beginning of a trend – ‘local’ is the power of radio, and local radio has been abandoned by broadcasters. Now that the threshold to entry has been lowered and anyone can have a radio station, we expect thousands of niche broadcast outlets to appear on the mobile platform.” Along with Feinburg, the two other principals are Jonathan Roy, an attorney who has left his practice in order to join the startup world. He gained experience in tech and startups before attending law school 15 years ago. Aaron Sawyer is a 20-year veteran of Total Traffic and its predecessor, Metro Traffic. Aaron worked as a manager and announcer for Total Traffic, setting up and rolling out new markets.
Executive Changes at NextMedia in Chicago as Sale to Digity Expected to Close on Monday. The sale of NextMedia’s nine suburban Chicago radio stations to Dean Goodman-led Digity, LLC is expected to close on Monday, February 10 and Chicagoland Radio and Media reports that two executives are being told they will not be retained when the deal is consummated. General managers Patrick Pendergast and Scott Kosak will reportedly exit the company and NextMedia360 vice president Brian Foster will serve as manager for the entire group. The Chicago stations are part of a larger deal that encompasses 33 stations becoming assets in Digity, LLC. The Chicago-area stations include: classic hits WERV-FM, Aurora; country WCCQ-FM, Crest Hill; news/talk WJOL-AM, Joliet; AC WSSR-FM, Joliet; rock WRXQ-FM, Coal City; sports WKRS-AM, Waukegan; hot AC WXLC-FM, Waukegan; rock WIIL-FM, Union Grove, Wisconsin and news/talk WLIP-AM, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Dave Ramsey Brings Live Events to Boise. Nationally syndicated superstar Dave Ramsey is pictured here with (from left to right) Idaho First Lady Lori Otter, Townsquare Media regional vice president Kevin Godwin, and Idaho Governor Butch Otter during a visit to the market this week. Ramsey presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” event to a sold-out crowd in on Thursday (2/6) at the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. The production presents Ramsey’s philosophy about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined him on stage. Local affiliate KIDO helped promote the event and Kevin Godwin states, “KIDO’s enthusiasm for the unique opportunity to host Dave Ramsey in Boise is brimming. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, as KIDO is celebrating its 85th anniversary of broadcasting this year. It’s very special to have one of our most popular talk show hosts here to share this with us and our community.” On Wednesday, Ramsey hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” along with Cruze and speaker Chris Hogan, about how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 350 employees.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. In the Riverside-San Bernardino market, Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh is added to the lineup at KTIE, San Bernardino…..“Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge joins the program lineup at WVFT-FM, Tallahassee; WYOO-FM, Panama Beach, Florida and KGUM-AM, Agana, Guam…..The XtreMedia produced and syndicated Kevin McCullough show is added to the programming at WHEP, Mobile/Pensacola; WTXY, Wilmington, North Carolina; and WROM, Rome, Georgia…..The WYM Media-produced Leslie Marshall show is added to the Indiana Talk Radio Network airing from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm…..Salem Radio Network’s Michael Medved show is added to the lineup at WFBL, Syracuse; WMCR, Oneida, New York; and KVOC, Casper, Wyoming and the company’s Mike Gallagher show joins the programming at KMAX, Colfax, Washington…..“The Graveyard Shift” show announces affiliates for its March launch. KONR, Anchorage and KDOL, Livingston, Texas will carry the program.
Bennett Keynotes at Reagan Event. Nationally syndicated morning drive host Bill Bennett is pictured here speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California yesterday (2/6). The Salem Radio Network personality, who served as Education Secretary under Reagan, was keynote speaker at the event commemorating the 103rd anniversary of Reagan’s birth. Yesterday’s ceremony included a color guard, chaplain, a brass quintet, a 21-gun salute, a flyover, the placing of an official White House wreath on President Reagan’s gravesite and remarks by Bennett. Prior to the ceremony, Bennett signed copies of his new book, Is College Worth It?
Sean Hannity to Keynote and Host Special Breakfast at Talkers New York 2014 Set for Friday, June 20. Nationally syndicated Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel talk media superstar Sean Hannity will again serve as the morning keynote and breakfast host at this year’s installment of TALKERS magazine’s annual New York City-based convention. The TALKERS magazine annual national talk media industry conference enters its 17th consecutive year as the date and site have been set for the next installment of the industry’s largest, longest-running and most important gathering. Upon the announcement of Hannity’s participation, TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “Sean’s valuable contributions to this event have become a tradition over the course of its colorful history. He transcends politics and even the competition factor at this event and is by far one of the brightest and most popular individuals in a behind-the-scenes sense in the talk industry. His grasp of ratings issues, sales challenges, the local/national balance equation and changes in the syndication sector is extremely ‘black belt’ in quality and greatly appreciated by his colleagues in the business.” According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “This will be the most important installment of this can’t-miss conference ever because it will deal with some of the most sensitive and existential issues facing not only the talk side of the business, but all of what we still call ‘radio.’ It should not be missed, plain and simple, by anyone or any company serious about their future in this industry.” Registrations for the event are limited only to people who are members of the working media (meaning actively or recently employed in the industry or associated industries) and can only be booked by telephone with credit card. Individual registrations for the entire event including all sessions, presentations, breakfast, lunch, refreshments and receptions are $249. As usual, because of space limitations and the quality of this long-established event, an early sellout is expected. Stand by for ongoing information about speakers, agenda and hotel suggestions in the days ahead. For further registration and sponsorship information, please call 413-565-5413.
Mike Francesa to Deliver Sports Keynote Address at Talkers New York 2014 – Set for June 20. WFAN, New York sports talk superstar Mike Francesa will reprise his “grand slam home run” contribution from last year and again deliver this year’s sports keynote address at Talkers New York 2014 on Friday, June 20. Upon making the announcement, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “Mike Francesa’s speech last year was one of the most memorable highlights of the conference. He brings the same no-nonsense, unapologetic, common-sense approach to the issues of the industry that he brings to his legion of fans on the radio about their passion – sports — and quite frankly, it is quite refreshing and inspirational to those of us for whom radio is the ‘game’ of our lives. Francesa is the quintessential local sports talker – the most important in the business – and is a voice that needs to be heard because so much has happened in the sports talk sector since last summer. He’s the perfect guy to deliver the updated message within the context of continuity.” Francesa’s address will directly follow the conference’s general morning keynote address delivered by Premiere Radio/Fox News Channel heavyweight Sean Hannity. More than 60 speakers from the leadership ranks of the industry’s talent, programming, management and sales arenas are being signed up to fill out the power-packed, one-day agenda. The TALKERS magazine annual national talk media industry conference (known for years as the “New Media Seminar”) enters its 17th consecutive year as the talk radio industry’s largest, longest-running and most important gathering. Harrison continues, “This will be the most important installment of this must-attend conference ever because it will deal with some of the most sensitive and even existential issues facing not only the talk side of the business, but all of what we still call ‘radio.’ It should not be missed by anyone or any company serious about their future in this industry.” Registrations for the event are limited only to people who are members of the media industry (meaning actively or recently employed in the radio, television, and press industries or associated industries) and can only be booked by telephone with credit card. Individual registrations for the entire event including all sessions, presentations, breakfast, lunch, refreshments and receptions are $249. As usual, because of space limitations and the quality of this long-established event, a very early sellout is expected. Stand by for ongoing information about speakers, agenda and hotel suggestions in the days ahead. For further registration and sponsorship information, please call 413-565-5413.
ObamaCare Criticism Returns to #1 on Talkers TenTM. The most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 3-7 was scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act. The issue held the top spot on the Talkers TenTM for eight straight weeks last fall and now returns to #1. At #2 this week was the pending immigration legislation and the amnesty component expected to be included in the bill. Following at #3 was talk of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 with the nation’s and several states’ marijuana laws coming in 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. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. To view this week’s entire chart, click here.
KFI’s Internal Shuffling “Replaces” Limbaugh. Rather than bringing in another host to cover the gaping hole left by Rush Limbaugh, it looks like Clear Channel, Los Angeles talker KFI will adjust the times of some of its existing personalities. Morning talent Bill Handel will apparently get to sleep an extra hour, as he will handle 6:00 am – 10:00 am duties (from 5:00 am – 9:00 am), while Bill Carroll will adjust to 10:00 am – 2:00 pm from 12:00 noon – 3:00pm. In place of their 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm shift, afternoon drivers John & Ken will extend one more hour to 7:00 pm. Tim Conway Jr. remains at 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, with syndicated talent George Noory following until 5:00 am. As of today, Gary Hoffmann debuts the 5:00 am – 6:00 am “Wake-up Call.” These moves are necessitated owing to Limbaugh transitioning from powerhouse KFI to co-owned, newly re-branded KEIB “The Patriot” (formerly KTLK-AM).
Gann Going to San Antonio as WOAI – KTKR PD. Brian Gann is leaving Journal Broadcast Group Tulsa to program Clear Channel San Antonio news/talk WOAI and sports KTKR “The Ticket.” According to president and market manager Marlene Trevino, “We are very fortunate to have Brian join our team in San Antonio. He brings a wealth of experience to WOAI and KTKR and we look forward to the bright future ahead under his leadership.” Gann comments, “I am excited to have the opportunity to help lead WOAI and ‘The Ticket.’ There is a terrific team in place there and I am honored to be able to join them.” While in Tulsa, Gann was operations manager of adult hits KBEZ “Bob FM,” KFAQ “Tulsa’s Talk Radio,” CHR KHTT “K-Hits,” KVOO “Today’s Country Variety,” and classic country KXBL “Big Country.” He starts his San Antonio assignment in one week (1/30).
Mark Arum Gets Nightly Show at WSB, Atlanta. Traffic reporter Mark Arum is taking over the 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight daily show at Cox Media Atlanta’s news/talk WSB after handling weekend and fill-in roles at the station. This new gig comes in addition to his traffic reporter roles at WSB-TV, news/talk WSB-AM and hot AC WSB-FM “B98.5.” As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho, Arum replaces Adam Goldfein who exited the late show role at the end of 2013 for personal reasons. Arum tells Ho that he’s been wanting a daily show since his arrival at WSB in 1997. Cox Media did give him a chance to host a daily show at its Stamford and Norwalk, Connecticut stations back in 2008 and he says it provided “invaluable experience.”
Learfield’s Worsham, Boman, Heim Elevated to Senior Positions. Missouri-based Learfield Communications promotes Aaron Worsham, Tom Boman, and Jennifer Heim. Worsham advances from vice president to senior vice president of affiliate relations and operations; broadcast manager Boman is boosted to vice president of broadcast operations; and corporate controller Heim becomes vice president/corporate controller. Worsham and Boman manage the company’s sports operations division, which oversees all aspects related to broadcast talent and station relationships for Learfield Sports’ radio networks as part of its multimedia rights partnerships with university athletic programs. Senior vice president/chief content officer Joe Ferreira comments, “Aaron and Tom have exhibited outstanding leadership and execution skills throughout their tenure at Learfield Sports and have taken our industry-leading audio business to great heights. Producing and managing thousands of broadcasts annually for our 50-plus networks, key flagship and affiliate partners and digital distribution networks is a daunting task. These well-deserved promotions reflect growth and success in all areas.” Meanwhile, chief financial officer Matt Hupfeld states, “Jennifer is a true professional who has proven to be an excellent asset to Learfield. She is well deserving of assuming the vice president role and we know she will continue to do an outstanding job.” Worsham has been with Learfield since 1999. Prior to joining the company in 2006, Boman was a producer with the Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network and Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles. CPA Heim’s background includes being a financial manager for Brookstone and a senior auditor for several companies.
Michael Smerconish to Publish First Novel About Conservative Talk Show Host. The book is titled, Talk (Cider Mill Press 2014) and is due out in May. But as Michael Smerconish tells the Washington Post, “My highest purpose is to entertain…a lot of it is fake.” Still, readers of the book about a fictional conservative talk host from Florida who finds himself in the thick of a hotly contested presidential race, will probably find a lot of what transpires culled from the reality of the talk radio business in which Michael Smerconish has dwelt during his career. Now working at SiriusXM after years on AM/FM radio, Smerconish ruffled some feathers when he left for satellite radio saying, in effect, he felt the requirement talk hosts on AM/FM be easily pigeonholed was holding him, and the industry, back. Previews of the book indicate that while this is fiction, Smerconish just may be taking a few shots at the facet of the industry he left behind as he tells his story.
Opinion: Hang On A Minute, Bill. Weighing in on the Bill O’Reilly’s recent “promotion” for Pandora, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian observes: “On the positive side, Bill O’Reilly last week let known his partisanship for one particular iconic American vocal group on his Fox News Channel television program. Conversely, terrestrial music radio programmers just might remember certain comments he made should O’Reilly ever look to them to plug his next book or project on that platform. In an approximately 45-second “Tip of the Day” segment, the “O’Reilly Factor” host gave a thumbs-up to Pandora over terrestrial radio. “Do you like music,” he queried. “I do [and] there are plenty of free ways to get it. The easiest way is to turn on the radio.” So far, so good. Then O’Reilly said, “The problem with the radio is that for every good song there are three bad songs. So, you can hear [good songs] like The Beach Boys‘ ‘Help Me Rhonda,’ [and] ‘Fun, Fun, Fun.’ [Those are] good songs, but then you’ll hear ‘Hang on Sloopy’ – painful.” Off-camera laughter was audible as O’Reilly winced at the thought of The McCoys‘ song. His advice was to have his audience “check out” Pandora.com’s free website. In amazement, he remarked about the logistics of typing “the song you like and you get the song played to you. Then, you get other songs similar to it [so] you are basically creating your own radio station. Let me know what you think.” After having mentioned Pandora by name three times in under one minute, O’Reilly insisted he “had no interest in that website at all.” His motive was to tell his audience because, “I like you.” Not to nitpick the host, but his mention of “Help Me Rhonda” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” sounded like one run-on title, especially since he said, “That is a good song.” Moreover, he was only able to cite one “painful” tune, compared to two good ones. Whether or not by coincidence, the three specific titles O’Reilly mentioned were from the mid-1960s. We wonder if he has heard of YouTube yet.
Plans Underway for Ron Ruth Memorial Benefit. The event celebrating the life of Ron Ruth will take place next month (Tuesday, 2/25) at the New York Friars Club and is being organized by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) in conjunction with the Broadcasters Foundation. Actively arranging the festivities for their late broadcast colleague are The Friends of Ron Ruth Memorial Benefit Committee consisting of Erica Farber, Norm Feuer, George Hyde, Bill Moyes, Herb McCord, Jeff Smulyan, Jim Thompson, and Erle Younker. A portion of the proceeds from the $250 ticket price will be donated to the Ron Ruth Memorial Fund at the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Ruth was executive vice president of stations for the RAB for 19 years. He held sales manager positions for Unistar Radio Networks, as well as at the local level in markets such as New York (WOR-FM), Chicago (WNUS), Washington, DC (WGMS), and Buffalo (WYSL). Ruth left Unistar to join the Radio Advertising Bureau in 1992. Most recently, he was consulting the RAB. He died of a heart attack this past November 16 in Florida.
New York Festivals International Radio Competition Announces Call for Entries. Now through March 19, the New York Festivals is accepting entries for the 32nd annual “World’s Best Radio Programs” competition. This competition is unique in that entries are received from between 30 and 50 nations across the globe each year. Competition executive director Rose Anderson tells TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian that global scope is important, “One thing that is most important to us is that we make New York Festivals Radio Program Awards a destination for people all over the world who are creating radio that is interesting, innovative, and of very high quality.” Anderson adds that the grand jury members (judges) enjoy the high quality of radio they review. “They have consistently written comments that the quality of the entries is fantastic. People are entering material in drama, news, documentaries, talk, and music that continues to make new ways of telling stories. We have had entries from Radio Free Asia; from folks on the scene who described the riots in Cairo; and people from Romania who submitted amazing audio of drama.” With 130 headings, the scope of the competition is wide. To find out more about the New York Festivals Radio Program Awards, click here.
Cumulus ‘Big Game’ Party. The scene here is the Roseland Ballroom in New York City yesterday as Cumulus Media’s hot AC WPLJ; country WNSH “Nash FM 94.7,” and news/talk WABC come together to put on a ‘Big Game Party’ in honor of the NFL’s championship being decided in the nearby Met Life stadium in two weeks. Sunday’s event was hosted by Todd Pettengill of WPLJ. The venue was filled to capacity with over 3,000 guests enjoying a sports expo, playoff viewing party, station games, and food. Former New York Giants wide receiver and NBC Sports Radio Network personality Amani Toomer was on hand meeting the many loyal listeners! Pettengill states, “The first annual Cumulus Big Game Party was an absolute example of synergy. Three radio stations with different audiences, air staff’s, came together to make the perfect circle of success. I can’t wait for next January!” The evening concluded with a performance by Daughtry.
WCBS, New York Producer/Engineer Silva Dies. Radio producer and engineer Carlos Silva died at age 50 after a battle with stomach and esophageal cancer in Lutz, Florida on Sunday (1/19). Silva worked for CBS RADIO’s WCBS, New York where he produced New York Yankees broadcasts. He had also worked game broadcasts for ESPN Radio, the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia Phillies Spanish-language broadcasts, and the old New Jersey Nets.
Cool Job Opportunity. Syndication Specialist Needed – The Dave Ramsey Show, now the 3rd largest syndicated talk show in the nation with more than 530 affiliates, is in need of a Go-Getter willing to take on this growing demand. This person will work with our small- and mid-sized markets. Duties will consist of new market development as well as serving existing affiliates and building relationships. Our organization has been voted Best Place to Work in Nashville for six years in a row for a reason. If you think you have what it takes and are interested in working in an environment where you can learn and grow, we need to talk. Interested candidates apply at: http://www.daveramsey.com/company/view-all-jobs/
Cumulus to Acquire Merlin Media’s Chicago Signals – WKQX and WLUP-FM. Variations of this deal had been rumored in the Windy City for some time. Scuttlebutt heard in the late fall also had Tribune interested in WLUP-FM due to WGN president Jimmy de Castro’s earlier comments that his company is looking to acquire an FM signal in Chicago. But now it comes to pass that Cumulus Media – for a sum yet-to-be-announced – will bring classic rock WLUP-FM and WKQX (currently adult hits WIQI at 101.1) into the company’s portfolio in addition to the alternative format airing on WKQX-LP. Speaking about the sale, COO John Dickey states, “These great brands will be welcome additions to the two legendary brands we already own in Chicago.” Dickey says the alternative format under calls WKQX will return to the 101.1 frequency as early as next week. The company also has no plans to change the classic rock format on WLUP-FM so it’s unlikely it will put the country NASH format on either station in the near future. The acquisition of the two FM signals from Emmis by Randy Michaels-led Merlin took place in 2011 and the alternative format of WKQX was displaced by a news and talk format that was to target females. The format never took off and was flipped to adult hits a little less than a year later in July of 2012.
Exclusive Never-Before Seen Video of Special Tribute to Bob Grant. In 2008, now-defunct trade publication Radio & Records announced that it was going to present the late Bob Grant with its Lifetime Achievement Award at its then-annual convention. Shortly after making the announcement, the publication rescinded the award in the face of threatened picketers that protested Grant’s selection based on their opposition to his stated views and controversial reputation. WABC, then owned by Citadel and Grant’s home base at the time, stepped up to the plate and decided to present Grant with its own Lifetime Achievement Award. The station, represented by its then-VP of programming, Phil Boyce, asked TALKERS magazine if it would be willing to host the ceremony at its annual conference (then known as the New Media Seminar) in New York City that summer. TALKERS agreed and the ceremony was conducted (amidst protests) at the event’s Friday night cocktail party. It featured the presentation of the award by Boyce and a magnificent acceptance speech by Grant in addition to a stunning video tribute to Grant’s career produced by renowned industry videographer and historian Art “Radio’s Best Friend” Vuolo. After the event, the video was filed away in the TALKERS vaults for posterity and never seen again. Until now, that is. Upon the sad occasion of Bob Grant’s passing at the age of 84 this past New Year’s Eve, TALKERS has made the video available for public viewing. To see this historic document which includes Grant’s discussion of talk radio’s role in a free society, its relationship with the First Amendment and the unconstitutionality of the repressive Fairness Doctrine please see the TalkersTV box at the top of the right hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Fox Sports Radio Goes to Gorman for Afternoons. As far as Fox Sports Radio is concerned, the next wave of sports talk talent may be coming from the world of rock music, as the network fills its weekday 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot with The Black Crowes’ founding member/drummer Steve Gorman. “Steve Gorman Sports” debuts later this month (1/27) with a series of broadcasts leading up to the Super Bowl. According to Clear Channel senior vice president of sports operations Bruce Gilbert, “‘Steve Gorman Sports’ is the perfect combination of sports, passion, pop culture, music and entertainment. Fox Sports Radio is committed to serving sports fans with unique and entertaining insight, stories, and opinions surrounding the natural drama of sports. Steve Gorman is an excellent addition to our leading, multi-platform, sports entertainment lineup.” Gorman comments, “This is an amazing opportunity to be able to work with the one network I always felt was a perfect fit for my show. I know listeners will love hearing athletes and musicians alike talking, laughing, and arguing about our shared passions: sports and music.” Gorman has hosted several local sports shows; he began “Steve Gorman Sports” as a podcast in 2010. With all times listed referring to the Eastern time zone, FSR’s revised lineup consists of: “Fox Sports Daybreak” with Andy Furman & Mike North (6:00 am – 9:00 am); “The Dan Patrick Show” (9:00 am – 12:00 noon); “Jay Mohr Sports” (12:00 noon – 3:00 pm); “Steve Gorman Sports” (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm); J.T. “The Brick” with Tomm Looney (6:00 pm – 10:00 pm); “The Jason Smith Show (10:00 pm – 2:00 am); and “The Ben Maller Show” (2:00 am – 6:00 am).
Carlos Amezcua PM Drive Host at ‘The Patriot’ in Los Angeles. The newly transformed conservative talk outlet KEIB, Los Angeles (formerly progressive talker KTLK), now branded “The Patriot AM 1150,” has a new PM drive host as former KTTV-TV, Los Angeles news anchor Carlos Amezcua joins the station. KEIB’s change includes Premiere Networks nationally syndicated hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck now airing at the station – Limbaugh slid over from sister news/talk KFI – and also includes The Blaze personality Doc Thompson in early mornings and Westwood One’s Clark Howard in evenings.
Genesis Communications Network and Mancow Partner for Syndication. Talk radio personality Erich “Mancow” Muller and Genesis Communications Network are partnering to distribute the Chicago-based morning program. GCN states it is “excited to announce the arrival of the popular Mancow show featuring the notorious Erich ‘Mancow’ Muller and his controversial, snarky, hilarious and hard-hitting brand of talk radio.”
Los Angeles Sports Radio Talent Dave Stone Passes. “This is one of the toughest things I’ve ever written.” With that, iconic Los Angeles sports talk radio/mainstream talk radio programmer and on-air talent Joe McDonnell began his Facebook tribute to longtime Los Angeles sports voice Dave Stone, who passed away earlier this week at age 64. He’d been diagnosed with ALS. “I didn’t even know he was sick, which was typical of Dave,” McDonnell states. “He did not want anyone to fuss over him – even when he was batting a terminal disease. Dave was my first hire when I was putting together ESPN 710 [KSPN, Los Angeles] in 1999 – 2000. He put his heart and soul into everything he did there.” Part of that lineup was “McDonnell-Douglas” consisting of McDonnell and veteran Los Angeles sportswriter Doug Krikorian; Stone did sports updates. “Big Joe” first met Stone in the mid-1970s when they were competing for the job to operate the Dodger Stadium message board. “Dave beat me out, but it became a moment when I met one of the best friends I’ve ever had,” FoxSportsWest.com writer-reporter-columnist McDonnell states. A notoriously famous Lakers fan, McDonnell nonetheless concedes that Stone might have been just as strong of a partisan of the NBA team. “We would spend hours talking about [Jerry] West, [Elgin] Baylor, [Wilt] Chamberlain, Darrell Imhoff, and Archie Clark. If he was a Lakers player, we knew about him.” Stone was the public address announcer for more than 1,400 Harlem Globetrotter performances and McDonnell writes, “If the phone rang at 3:00 am, it might be Dave calling from Singapore to get the score of the Lakers game.” In 1991, Stone was working at Huntsville, Alabama’s WVNN-WZYP and he hired a young afternoon drive talent named Sean Hannity. Mike Dunsmore worked with Stone at Fox Sports Radio from 2007 – 2009 and just this past year at NBC Sports Radio, where Stone was an update anchor. “He had a booming voice, loved the Lakers, and despised [former Lakers player] Kwame Brown,” Dunsmore posts on Facebook. “Dave Stone was a class act.” Former KLOS, Los Angeles program director Rita Wilde – currently doing evenings at cross-town KSWD “The Sound” – writes, “I had no idea he was sick – he was a great guy.” McDonnell rhetorically states of Stone, “You have no idea how much I’m going to miss you.” Services for Stone were held yesterday (Thursday, 1/2) at 2:00 pm in suburban Los Angeles (Simi Valley).
KOIL, Omaha’s Tom Becka Launches Podcast Project. Talk radio pro Tom Becka – currently hosting afternoon drive at NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha – announces the debut of a weekly podcast project that will be featured at his website tombecka.com. Becka tells TALKERS, “TomBecka.com is a podcast page where I interview everyday people with a unique story to tell. Think of it as NPR, but with personality and a pulse. Some of the interviews that are helping me launch this are a woman who’s a breast cancer survivor, a soldier with PTSD, a drag queen, a woman who accidentally found out her bartender was the child she gave up for adoption 27 years ago, and a couple that practices polyamory. Every Sunday I will add another podcast and so far I have a rodeo clown, a man with Asperger’s, and a drummer who has spent most of his life working the cruise ships.” This project allows Becka to step outside of the format of a live, on-air talk radio show but still bring his own personality and style to these interview projects. He says his ability to negotiate keeping ownership of his digital rights has allowed him to work on these types of initiatives.
Odds & Sods. There’s been a minor lineup shuffle at Yahoo! Sports Radio where Sean Salisbury moves to the late afternoon “Prime Cut” show alongside current host John Granato. Leaving that show to host the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET program is Geoff Ketchum who replaces John Harris…..Compass Media Networks syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt announces changes in his show in a number of markets. In Schnitt’s home market of Tampa, his program will be delay broadcast on WFLA from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm but will air live on sister station WHNZ from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The show will also shift to early evening clearances on affiliates WQSC, Charleston, South Carolina and WTKS, Savannah, Georgia…..“Labor-Lines,” hosted by Vic Fusco, moves from former progressive talker WWRL, New York to its new home at Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” where it airs Saturdays at 1:00 pm.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Cumulus Media Networks-syndicated “Savage Nation” with Michael Savage is added to the programming lineup at KROP, Yuma, Arizona; KVPI, Lafayette, Louisiana; and WGSO, New Orleans…..Compass Media Networks talk host Todd Schnitt joins the program schedule at KNEW, San Francisco…..Rodger Fredinburg’s “Homeland Security” show joins the weekend program lineup at KMED, Medford, Oregon…..The Genesis Communications Network-syndicated Jason Lewis program is added to the program schedule at KNEW, San Francisco…..Also from GCN, the weekly Steve Sanchez program announces its new flagship station KFNX, Phoenix…..“Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge announces new affiliates: WXBR, Brockton, Massachusetts; WQXL-AM/FM, Columbia, South Carolina; KMMS-AM, Bozeman and KPRK-AM, Livingston, Montana; and KMED, Medford, Oregon…..From Salem Radio Network comes the following affiliate additions: Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” is added to KVTA, Oxnard-Ventura; Mike Gallagher becomes part of the lineup at KGED, Fresno; the Dennis Prager show is added to WEZO, Augusta, Georgia; and Michael Medved joins the programming at WKEI, Kewanee, Illinois and WTIM-FM, Taylorville, Illinois.
Holidays and Year-in-Review Top Talk Topics for Week of Dec. 30 – Jan. 3. The holidays and a look back at 2013 were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 was criticism of the Affordable Care Act. At #3 was the poor rating of Congress by the public followed by winter weather and discussions of global warming tied at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a list of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. To view this week’s entire chart, click here.