Talk Radio Spruces Up the Programming Tree without Benefit of Christmas Music. While music radio has an obvious tool in the music itself to “decorate” its programming with the flavor of Christmas and the holiday season – whether it is via the all-Christmas music format or simply sprinkling in abundantly available holiday tunes of just about every genre – talk radio must utilize more subtle methods. Programmers turn to production, topics, promotions, specials and even the commercials themselves to convey the live-ness and vibrancy of the holidays. At Dial Global‘s “Jim Bohannon Show” and “America in the Morning,” host Jim Bohannon tells TALKERS, “We have several ways of reflecting the season. For one thing, since we’re not all-politics-all-the-time, we’ll intersperse various holiday guests and topics. I also do a daily humorous “Offbeat” feature which takes on decidedly holiday material. We think being seasonal now and then is an important break from the usual political blah blah blah.” Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno OM/PD Skip Essick shares, “I like to ‘decorate’ the station through the on-air production - lots of holiday imaging, military salutes, staff holiday greetings, and holiday bumpers. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I will look for special holiday programming which might include relevant holiday sports play-by-play, holiday specials like ‘The Gift’ and I always run the original radio performances of ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘Wonderful Life,’ and ‘A Christmas Carol.’” In New England, Greater Media’s WTTK, Boston “News Talk 96.9 FM” PD Grace Blazer adds, “‘Tis the Season’ for News Talk 96.9 FM-WTTK to embrace holiday topics, talk with seasonal guests, play popular Christmas bumpers, and most importantly attend special community events that transcend news and politics, but touch the hearts and inspire the souls of the less fortunate in our New England communities.” Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago PD Bill White emphasizes the importance of charities in establishing the feel of the holidays at his heritage news/talker as well as leaving it to the creativity and personal expression of each of the station’s personalities. “Our talent reflect the holidays in many different ways. Some work with charities such as Neediest Kids Fund. Garry Meier hosts a very special annual event ‘A Very Garry Christmas. Each talent brings their special brand of the holiday season to WGN.” Even sports talk radio – which as CBS Radio VP of sports programming Mark Chernoff tells TALKERS has plenty to talk about in December (NFL crunch time, big college bowl games, NBA and college hoops, even hot stove baseball) – gets into the holiday spirit. Chernoff says, “We do have some ‘happy holidays’ jingles. We do some holiday stuff – like speculate on what presents to give certain coaches or players. Mike Francesa usually does a holiday movies segment. Our studios are spruced up for the holidays by our TV partners. Mike Francesa’s studios already have the holiday trains and winter decorations set up. We also use holiday bumper music closer to the holidays.” Chernoff adds, “The bigger issue is filling all the time slots with many of the full-time hosts taking vacations.” That inconvenient truth being established, nationally syndicated morning host Doug Stephan is celebrating the holidays by offering what he calls a “gift” to program directors and their audiences. In response to talk radio’s traditional schedule of holiday fill-ins, Stephan states that he and his team will be hard at work. He tells TALKERS that his daily program, “Doug Stephan’s Good Day,” will be live throughout the holiday season including Christmas Eve and Day and News Years Eve and Day. Stephan states, “We welcome any station that is looking for live programming during the holidays to try our show for free. Rather than feeding holiday music programs or dated reruns, we offer stations topical, fun and informative talk during these important family holidays.” Stations interested in trying Doug’s Show without contractual commitments should check out www.DougStephan.com or call Bob K. at 650-654-3969.
Michael Harrison: Radio Must Focus On Being Indispensable When the Lights are On. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison states that radio must focus its programming efforts on being a lifeline to the public when things are normal as well as during disasters. In a piece scheduled for publication in next month’s year-end retrospective, Harrison writes, “Radio has performed admirably during the storm crises we experienced this past year and that hard work has been reflected in the well-deserved ratings bump those stations – music and spoken word – have received for their good service. But the real lesson here is not being discussed. We as an industry mustn’t get carried away in overly promoting our technological reliability when the lights go out as our major asset. That is akin to the candle industry saying it is better than electric light bulbs because they don’t work during storms. We must approach our programming as being an urgent 24/7 remedy to the less-obvious storms, disasters, emergencies and plain old passions of life. That is the true lesson we can learn from our successful handling of Sandy and its nasty predecessors.”
Dr. Drew Goes to Washington. Hubbard Radio’s Washington, DC all-newser WTOP hosted Dr. Drew Pinsky (c) this morning (11/29) from 10:00 am to 11:00 am for its weekly “Ask The…” program. Pinsky – who is nationally syndicated to radio stations across the country via the Courtside Entertainment-produced “Loveline” and a daily vignette “One Minute Clinic” – sat down with WTOP’s Mark Lewis (l) and Debbie Feinstein (r) to talk about his visit to the White House in conjunction with World AIDS Day and his one-hour MTV special, “I’m Positive,” set to air Saturday at 7:00 pm ET.
KGMZ, San Francisco Names Guy Haberman Evening Host. Entercom’s KGMZ, San Francisco “95.7 The Game” fills the evening slot with KFIG, Fresno PM drive host Guy Haberman. He takes over the slot that opened up when the station promoted Chris Townsend to the PM drive show. Program director Jason Barrett says, “Guy has strong passion for our Bay Area teams, understands what local fans want, and delivers an entertaining, interactive sports show. Having been in the broadcast booth calling games, he’s a great fit to lead into our Athletics play-by-play programming and be an outlet for fans following the game.” As part of Haberman’s duties with the station, he’ll host the weekday Oakland Athletics pre-game “Dugout Show” and post-game “A’s Talk” programs during baseball season. In addition to his experience hosting a sports talk show at Osterlund-owned KFIG, Fresno, Haberman has extensive experience in play-by-play that includes calling games for the Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco Giants AAA), College Basketball for the WAC Sports Network, and Fresno State Women’s Basketball and Softball. Haberman also served as a sideline reporter for Fresno State Football on the Bulldog Sports Network.
Larry King Visits Business Rockstars. Larry King (l) is pictured here with “Business Rockstars” host Ken Rutkowski (r) in the KFWB, Los Angeles studios. King appeared on the program recently to talk with Rutkowski about his new entrepreneurial venture, internet television station ORA TV – a collaboration with Mexican media billionaire Carlos Slim. “Business Rockstars” airs daily from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and brings together some of the world’s biggest and most successful CEOs as well as successful small business owners. Recent guests on the show have included: Nolan Bushnell (founder Attari & Chucky Cheese), Michael Robertson (mp3.com), Mark Verge (CEO Santa Anita Park) Cheryl Tiegs (Celebrity Apprentice, business woman) Scott Painter (True Car, Cars Direct) Brock Pierce (Founder Internet Gaming Entertainment), William Quigley (partner ClearStone Ventures), and Heinrich Fisker (Fisker Automotive). “Business Rockstars” partner, Steve Lehman was the founder and former chairman/CEO of Premiere Radio Networks. Lehman says the program is designed for multi-platform content distribution and its new location will be outfitted with three video cameras for streaming video content.
Armstrong & Getty and Clear Channel Lauded for Fundraising Efforts for Fisher House. KSTE, Sacramento morning show duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – whose program is also heard on KKSF, San Francisco and KWSX, Stockton, California – raised $225,000 during the week of November 12 to help build a new Fisher House at Travis Air Force Base outside Sacramento. The duo has raised a total of $650,000 in the past two years for that project. On the national level, Clear Channel aired Fisher House public service announcements on all 850 of its radio stations in the days leading up to Veterans Day. That national effort, valued at an estimated $3 million, was supplemented by the efforts of numerous local Clear Channel radio stations, which ran a special 30-minute public affairs program and/or spotlighted Fisher House with interviews and fundraising appeals. Fisher House Foundation is best known for the network of comfort homes built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. The Fisher Houses are 5,000 to 16,800 square-foot homes, donated to the military and Department of Veterans Affairs, where families can stay while a loved one is receiving treatment. Additionally, the Foundation ensures that families of service men and women wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan are not burdened with unnecessary expense during a time of crisis.
Steve Gill Show Uses Powerball Fever to Raise Funds for Charity. The WLAC, Nashville-based Steve Gill show capitalized on the Powerball Lottery fever to raise almost $5,000 for local charities. Gill announced that anyone making a $100 contribution to one of two charities would also receive a chance at the huge Powerball jackpot. Some 44 qualifying donations were made and the Helping Hands Ministry and the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes were the beneficiaries to the tune of $4,850. Steve Gill says, “Win or lose when it comes to the lottery tickets, the kids and families benefitting from these charities have already won thanks to the generosity of those who chipped in.”
WJR, Detroit’s Mitch Albom Helps Raise $400,000-plus for Detroit Charities. Detroit-based multi-media star Mitch Albom spent 15 hours on the radio on Cumulus Media’s WJR, Detroit on Tuesday, November 27 during a radiothon to raise funds for his S.A.Y. (Super All Year) Detroit charity and its partner programs, including Working Homes/Working Families, 100 Houses, A Time To Help, S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic and Detroit Dream Scholars. The Detroit Free Press reports the total raised was $401,321.34 but that the total will go higher as phone donations continued after the broadcast ended.
WXOS, St. Louis Talk Host Bernie Miklasz Named to Local ‘Power List.’ The St. Louis sports talk host is one of three sports people – and the only sports media person – to make St. Louis Magazine’s “100 People Who Are Shaping St. Louis” cover story known as “The Power List.” Bernie Miklasz was included in this listing as an “influencer” due to his many years of experience as a trusted and respected sports columnist and radio show host. 101 ESPN program director Kent Sterling states, “Bernie definitely deserves to be recognized as a thought leader among St. Louis sports media. He not only challenges himself every day with his tremendous work ethic, he also encourages the 101 ESPN team to do their best, day in and day out. Because of Bernie’s diligence in his work and his popular presence in the St. Louis media, our listeners are more informed and better fans of St. Louis’ sports teams.” Miklasz (left) is pictured here with another of the list’s influencers – St. Louis Cardinals chairman/CEO Bill DeWitt III (right).
Cool News Director Job Opportunity. Ithaca’s heritage news/talk radio station, WHCU has a career opportunity for a news director. There are not many opportunities out there of this nature – a chance for the right person to guide and grow the city’s primary news source in this gorgeous college town at the foot of the Finger Lakes in New York State. They (Cayuga Radio Group – a division of Saga Communications) are looking for someone who understands contemporary news writing and presentation, has strong on-air delivery skills and is able to train and nurture an up-and-coming staff. Creative use of web and social media to deliver and support the on-air product is a must. In TALKERS magazine’s editorial opinion, Saga is clearly one of the best companies in radio to work for and this is truly a rare opportunity. Send materials immediately to: Brand Manager/WHCU, Cayuga Radio Group, 1751 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 or email: NewsTalk@sagacom.com.
Bringing the Coverage to Radio. ABC News Radio’s Andrea Dresdale (c) helps “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” champions Melissa Rycroft (l) and Tony Dovolani (r) hoist the mirrorball trophy after their victory. Dresdale and ABC News brought coverage of the pop culture event to radio stations across the country.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Debate, Susan Rice-GOP Meetings, Powerball Jackpot, and Post-Sandy Cleanup Cost Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/28). The debate between the Obama Administration and House Republicans over the coming tax hikes and spending cuts; ongoing meetings between U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and GOP leaders over the Benghazi attack; the large Powerball Jackpot; and the cost of cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.