Michael Harrison: Political News/Talk Radio Needs Fewer Lapdogs and More Watchdogs. In a new opinion piece posted today (11/21), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (pictured here) suggests that the main element missing from today’s political news/talk radio mix is the old-fashioned “muckraker” who kept politicians of all political stripes – left and right – nervous and on their toes. Harrison says that the crop of tried-and-true political ideologues who’ve been on the air all these decades since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and are still going strong should be preserved – but not imitated. He writes, “There is nothing wrong with the current crop of long-standing, iconic figures of opinionated left vs right political discussion who have made talk radio and its stars household names. They should be protected and supported for what they do… because they are valuable and, more importantly, cannot easily be replaced. In fact, they shouldn’t be replaced. The last thing we need are more ‘B’ and ‘C’ level imitators and talking point ideologues in this format. We do not need lapdogs and mindless partisans clogging up the airwaves and bringing this format down! What we do need are more WATCHDOGS to round out what this format truly has to offer. I guess you can call them populists or independents – but it goes much deeper than just superficial labels. This industry needs talk show hosts – especially local ones – who don’t give a damn about political science ideology or carrying partisan water for their favorite ‘team,’ but rather keep a watchful eye and wag a fearless tongue on the biggest problem facing the American political system today.” If you want to find out what Harrison thinks is the biggest problem facing the American political system today, read the entire column by clicking here.
Cumulus Names Reno to Lead KGO and KSFO, San Francisco Sales. At the Bay Area cluster, Cumulus Media appoints sales pro Jaysson Reno to vice president, sales for heritage market news/talkers KGO and KSFO. Reno has worked in the San Francisco market for 10 years in the radio, digital and event space, and has led sales for the company’s rock KSAN and triple A KFOG since 2012. Cumulus San Francisco VP/market manager Justin Wittmayer says, “Jaysson brings strong leadership, a keen business sense and the market equity needed to drive advertiser performance and grow revenues. KGO and KSFO are legacy brands in which we will continue to invest to benefit our community, to enhance the user experience and to deliver superior advertiser results.”
Ben Finfer and Alex Quigley Also Casualties at Tribune Media. With the reported looming end of Tribune Media’s nine-month-old sports talk experiment on WGWG-LP comes news two staffers – Ben Finfer and Alex Quigley – learned about their imminent dismissal via Twitter while on the air. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the “Quigs and Finfer” personalities spoke on air about their disappointment, with Finfer saying, “We’re doing a live show here and to be told this way, it’s really a letdown. We’re getting screwed on this one…We just found out on Twitter a half hour ago that the station is being taken off the air. We were not told about this ahead of time.” The story broke via a Tweet and blog post by Chicago media writer Robert Feder (and TALKERS passed along the story to you) who learned about the changes from inside sources. It appears WGN and WGWG-LP management didn’t anticipate the news leaking out and although the station has not been performing in the ratings against competitors WSCR and WMVP, this is a bit of a PR black eye for Tribune Media.
Dave Ramsey Rocks Austin’s Bass Concert Hall. No, nationally syndicated financial talk superstar and best-selling author Dave Ramsey didn’t sing (as far as we know), but he did pack the house at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas last night (11/20) nonetheless. Ramsey presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” event in which he discusses how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. Ramsey worked with local affiliate KJCE “Talk Radio 1370 AM” to promote this event. Entercom VP/market manager Alan Kirshbom comments, “Austin loves Dave! We are proud to welcome him back for what promises to be another exciting and uplifting event.” Pictured here are (from left to right): KJCE promotions director Aaron Hurd, KJCE director of sales Heather Baumli, Ramsey, KJCE program director Stephen Kerr, Kirshbom, and KJCE general sales manager Bob Woche.
RAB: Radio’s Q3 Revenue Dips 2%; Off-Air and Digital Jump. The 2014 third quarter radio revenue report from the Radio Advertising Bureau concludes radio’s total revenue dipped 2% — a bit better than Q2’s 3% drop (all comparisons are versus the same period in 2013). Breaking it down, spot revenue and network revenue fell back 3% and 4% respectively in Q3 this year compared to last, but digital and off-air revenue were up by 11% and 14% respectively. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber comments, “The increasing strength of radio’s digital platforms becomes more evident every quarter as advertisers recognize the unparalleled benefits of reaching radio’s dedicated audiences on every device and platform they are using. In addition, the growth in off-air opportunities for advertisers is a clear indication that radio is focused on continuing to deliver more innovative solutions to help them reach their consumers.” See the RAB’s report here.
Odds & Sods. Longtime Arkansas talk show host and programmer Dave Elswick begins duties as program director and afternoon drive host at Crain Media Group-owned KHTE, Little Rock. His program will also air on the company’s KSMD, Searcy, Arkansas (about 50 miles northeast of Little Rock) as Elswick begins building out the Dave Elswick Network. He worked for years at Cumulus Media’s KARN-FM, Little rock as PD and personality…..SiriusXM adds former NBA head coach George Karl to its roster of hoops experts on its NBA Radio channel. He debuts today (11/21) from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET and will host regularly throughout the season…..CBS RADIO‘s all-news KNX, Los Angeles will present a special program titled, “Immigration: The President Acts,” on Monday (11/24) from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. The show will include expert guests and listener call-ins. KNX anchor Tom Haule and chief investigative reporter Charles Feldman will host the show.
Bell Media to Lay Off 80 Employees. Canadian broadcast giant Bell Media is announcing personnel cuts across its radio division that will affect some 80 people. As reported by the Windsor Star, the Windsor market (which operates four stations that also serve Detroit listeners) will lose seven staffers, but those people haven’t been identified yet. The stations in Windsor include: triple A CKLW-FM “The River 93.9,” alternative CIMX “89X,” oldies CKWW and news/talk CKLW-AM. The paper notes that Bell Media cut about 120 positions in the radio division back in June.
MIW Announces 2015 Mentoring Program. The details of the 2015 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program from the Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group are available. The 14-year-old program matches up-and-coming women in the radio industry with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of radio. 2015 Mentoring Committee chair Lindsay Cerajewski (who also serves as sales manager at CBS RADIO’s WUSN, Chicago) says, “This is a wonderful opportunity for mentees to gain valuable insight, knowledge and access to some of the most influential women in radio. We look forward to another outstanding program in 2015.” A total of four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry – within the sales, marketing, programming and digital disciplines – will be selected for the 2015 program. Of those, at least one spot will be designated for a programming candidate, and one spot designated for a digital candidate. For mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply, please visit http://tinyurl.com/miwmentee. The deadline to apply is Friday, December 12, 2014.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Genesis Communications Network-syndicated Dr. Joy Browne program is added to the program schedule at WGNC, Gastonia, North Carolina.
Obama Amnesty Executive Action Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 17-21. The plan by President Obama to use executive action to give amnesty to some 5 million undocumented aliens was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was the videotaped speeches of Affordable Care Act architect Jonathan Gruber. At #3 was the tension over the grand jury’s anticipated decision whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and at #4 was the record snowfall in Buffalo and the early cold snap. 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. View this week’s entire chart here.
Chip Franklin Named Midday Host at KGO, San Francisco. The next step in returning KGO to its talk roots from the newsy experiment that began a few years ago comes as Chip Franklin takes over the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot beginning December 8. Franklin has had long talk radio stints – most recently with KOGO, San Diego from 2007 to 2013 and with WBAL, Baltimore from 1999 to 2007 – and is also working writing position pieces and prep for guests on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Good Morning America” and “Face the Nation.” He also regularly appears at comedy clubs across the U.S. On his new gig, Franklin comments, “The current narrative is that San Francisco is all liberals, progressives and Democrats mixed in with the occasional 4.9. Maybe, but I see it more as a city that simply embraces freedom and more to the point, the free expression of ideas regardless of ideology. Whether it’s politics, art, music or comedy, it all starts with a passion for discovery – discovery of life here in the Bay area, the wider world, and our inner lives.” Cumulus Media EVP of content and programming John Dickey says, “KGO strives to inform and entertain the Bay Area with relevant news and compelling talk hosted by big personalities. Chip Franklin’s point of view, intelligence and wit are going to drive some amazing conversations on KGO.”
Odds & Sods. WABC, New York and CBS “Inside Edition” special correspondent Rita Cosby celebrated her 50th birthday hosting a special benefit for the Wounded Warriors Project at the Hotel Edison in New York City recently. Among the 1,000-plus guests and celebs attending the fundraiser were fellow WABC personalities Curtis Sliwa and Geraldo Rivera. Cosby is pictured here in this photo, (courtesy of Nicole Vranjican), with Broadway’s Tomaczek Bednarek at the event. Read more about the party here…..WPGG, Atlantic City talk show host Harry Hurley is named to the PolitickerNJ’s “2014 Power List.” This is the eighth time Hurley – morning personality on the Townsquare Media news/talk station – has been named to the list…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Tribune’s WGN, Chicago adds former Sun-Times columnist and critic Dave Hoekstra who will host his weekly “Evening Journal” radio program on the station beginning in December. The program will air Saturday evenings.
‘Sports Fix’ Celebrates Five Years on WTEM, Washington. Washington, DC midday sports talk show “The Sports Fix” with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro is celebrating its fifth anniversary on Red Zebra Broadcasting’s WTEM “ESPN 980.” The station says the program “has been a ratings leader, achieving #1-ratings in its time slot throughout the five-year run.” Vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza adds, “‘The Sports Fix’ has been a constant performer. Kevin, Thom and producer Marc Sterne perform at a high level every day and it shows in their consistency and ratings success.”
Clear Channel Satellite Services to Serve iHeartMedia Only. In a story by Leslie Stimson at Radio World, iHeartMedia, the parent company of Clear Channel Satellite Services, is informing clients that it will no longer provide satellite services to non-iHeartMedia operators. Contracts currently existing will be honored until they expire and the company will not accept new ones. A memo from CCSS reads, in part: “In the coming weeks, our team will be working with the existing customers to discuss the best way for a smooth transition to a new provider. Customers with soon-expiring contracts will have the option to continue their service on a month-to-month basis until we’ve found a suitable assignee for the business.”
October Revenue Gains Reported in Los Angeles, San Diego. According to Miller Kaplan Arase‘s October summary report, Los Angeles posted increases of 3% for local spot and nearly double that (5.7%) for national spot. Meanwhile, San Diego was +1.3% local spot and a substantially higher +18% for national spot. Southern California Broadcasters Association president Thom Callahan comments, “Our entire region produced a very robust October as the critical fourth quarter began. The sluggish third quarter performance we had is a distant memory, as advertisers once again looked to Southern California radio for increased market share and real revenue results. Our combined market growth in October should set the stage for a dramatic and positive finish for [fourth quarter] and 2014. Our members’ efforts to provide proactive solutions to client challenges really came together in October. We see enormous positive energy in our markets and our continued regional focus on radio’s ROI is making a difference for all of our member sales teams.” Revenue in the “NTR/Network/Other” category improved last month by a whopping (approximately) 63% in Los Angeles and 26.3% in San Diego. October’s total market revenue for Los Angeles was 7.1%, while San Diego’s was 8.8%. Year-to-date total market revenue though is -2.2% (Los Angeles) and 2.9% (San Diego).
Ferguson Grand Jury Tensions, Jerusalem Terror Attacks, Keystone Bill Vote, Early Cold and Snow, ObamaCare/Gruber Controversy, and Bill Cosby Rape Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/18). The simmering tensions in Ferguson as the public awaits the grand jury’s decision whether to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown; Tuesday’s slayings in a Jerusalem temple; the failed vote in the U.S. Senate to move ahead with the Keystone Pipeline project; the six feet of snow that blanketed Buffalo and the cold affecting the rest of the country; the ObamaCare controversy surrounding plan architect Jonathan Gruber; and the new allegations of rape against Bill Cosby were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Ed Baxter Named Midday Host at KKSF, San Francisco. Longtime market pro Ed Baxter is named the permanent 10:00 am to 1:00 pm host at iHeartMedia’s KKSF, San Francisco “Talk 910.” The Bay Area Radio Hall of Famer was a fixture on crosstown KGO for more than 30 years where he served as news anchor in both morning and afternoon drive slots. iHeartMedia San Francisco VP of programming Don Parker writes on the station’s website, “We are thrilled to add Ed Baxter to the ‘Talk 910’ lineup. Ed has a tremendous audience base from his many years on the air in the Bay Area, as well as a fantastic track record of success for advertisers. Our commitment to live and local talk throughout prime-time programming is unparalleled in the Bay, making ‘Talk 910’ San Francisco’s Talk Station.”
Jennifer Lipp to Leave KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno. Twenty-year Fresno market radio personality Jennifer Lipp is leaving her morning drive co-host role at Cumulus Media’s news/talk duo KMJ-AM and FM. The Fresno Bee reports that Lipp – who is partnered with John Broeske on the John and Jen show – and her family are moving from the area because her husband has accepted a position in Arkansas. The Philadelphia native also worked in the Fresno market at rhythmic oldies KFBT “The Beat 103.7” and rock KKBZ “The Blaze 105.1” before joining KMJ two years ago.
TALKERS Magazine to Present 2014 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk. On Friday (10/31), the editors of TALKERS magazine will present the third annual Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America. This list will rank sports talk hosts, duos or ensembles from 1 to 100, based upon a set of criteria that includes a combination of hard and soft factors. The genre of sports talk radio has evolved greatly and grown exponentially over the past 10 years to go from being a fringe format to an important sub-genre of spoken-word radio programming. With this in mind, the editors of TALKERS debuted the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk in 2012 to acknowledge the hard-working air personalities on sports talk radio. The results of this list are, admittedly, subjective. Being true to the realities of the media business, ratings and revenue are two of the major factors – some would say they are the only factors worth considering – but the editors also took into account other qualities that help create a list that is reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor and still give credit where credit is due. Those qualities include: courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness. The other concrete qualification for inclusion is hosts must be working – that is, have a regularly scheduled professional show on the air at a minimum of one terrestrial or satellite radio station – at the time of publication. Look for this annual feature to be published at Talkers.com tomorrow!
Round Three of October PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of October 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Columbus. The survey period was September 11 through October 8. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Ramping Up to Election Day. Tuesday’s mid-term elections are right around the corner and “The Wall Street Journal This Morning” went to the iconic Independence Mall in Philadelphia to gauge how Americans are feeling about the economy, their wages, their job security, and their small businesses. Host Gordon Deal and news anchor Gina Cervetti will present comments from the people they talk to during special segments of the show on Monday and Tuesday in a feature called “Voices of the Voters.”
Odds & Sods. KBET, Las Vegas talk show host Heidi Harris is honored by being profiled in the 2014 edition of the Distinguished Women in Nevada publication. Harris, a longtime Las Vegas media personality, hosts the 6:00 pm hour on KBET…..WPHT, Philadelphia talk show host Dom Giordano (who recently re-upped with the CBS RADIO news/talk outlet) is being honored in chocolate! Gertrude Hawk Chocolates will issue “The Dom Bar.” The candy will have a picture of Giordano on the label that will say, “It’s Dom Time.”…..Westwood One announces that Mary Giesen has been hired to serve as vice president, sales planning. It’s a homecoming for Giesen, who previously worked at Westwood One in several sales planning capacities. Her responsibilities this time will include strategic development of the company’s sales initiatives, including management of commercial inventory; sales data; pricing; and performance.
New Online Hindi Radio Station Offering Music and Talk Shows Targeted to America’s Growing Indian Population. A new online radio station called Mera Sangeet (www.merasangeet.com), based in the Northridge area of Los Angeles and owned by its CEO, the dynamic Indian-born actress, model, entrepreneur and philanthropist Pooja Batra, is now streaming on the web with a wide variety of Hindi music and general interest (Indian issues and pop culture) talk shows. The station’s management, which also includes noted Bollywood film-maker Anshuvijay Rode, describes its target audience (the Indian diaspora) as “the most affluent ethnic minority in the US.” Many of the station’s impressive lineup of on-air personalities, described as “RJs” (radio jockeys) include household names and stars from India’s show business and Bollywood (cinema) scene. The business model of the fledgling operation consists of two basic entities – the national Mera Sangeet LA stream that emanates from Los Angeles with the bulk of its programming and local franchises across the US (Mera Sangeet USA). The station is offering interested and qualified parties across the country the opportunity to invest in these local franchises which would involve generating a local programming and sales component to compliment the national content provided from Los Angeles. The station is also interested in meeting with potential general investors. Interested parties can call Anshuvijay Rode in LA at 323-203-7445.
KQTH, Tucson Raises $121,000-plus for Fisher House Foundation. On Wednesday (10/29), Journal Broadcast Group news/talk KQTH-FM, Tucson held a 12-hour radiothon to raise funds to help build a Fisher House at the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care Center. During the broadcast, the station helped bring in $121,178 for the cause. Pictured here celebrating the success of the event are (from left to right): KQTH producer Shane Dunn, program director and morning host Bill White, afternoon host James T. Harris and Arizona Fisher House vice chair Rick Grinnell. Other KQTH personalities who participated in the radiothon were Jon Justice, Ben Buehler Garcia and news anchor John Harper. Stations interested in learning how to support the Fisher House Foundation which provides housing for veterans and the families of military personnel being treated at military hospitals can contact Marshall Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special Election Night Guest. Posing for a photo with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (right) is Salem Radio Network vice president/news & talk programming Tom Tradup (left). Both share a laugh over an Obama t-shirt. The two got together in advance of Tuesday night’s marathon mid-term election coverage on the network in which Cruz will play a role as one of a number of high-profile guests who will join anchor (and SRN-syndicated talk show host) Hugh Hewitt that evening.
Domestic Ebola Cases, Mid-Term Elections, Battle Against ISIS, 2016 Presidential Hopefuls, and World Series Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/29). The domestic Ebola cases and controversy surrounding quarantine policies; next Tuesday’s mid-term elections and the possibility of a majority change in the U.S. Senate; the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and the cases of Western youths joining the militant Islamic organization; the potential candidates for president in 2016; and the Royals-Giants World Series were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Veteran Radio Programmer Kevin Metheny Succumbs to Heart Attack at 60. Longtime broadcasting executive and major talk radio programmer Kevin Metheny has unexpectedly died yesterday (10/3) afternoon due to what is being reported as a sudden heart attack at the age of 60. Metheny had been serving as operations manager of Cumulus Media outlets KGO and KSFO in San Francisco since June. Before that he was program director of WJR, Detroit, also a Cumulus station. He was a second generation radio professional, the son of broadcaster Terrell Metheny. John Dickey, EVP programming and content for Cumulus issued the following statement: “Kevin Metheny’s sudden passing this afternoon is a devastating personal and professional loss for his broadcasting family at Cumulus, and for the entire radio industry. Kevin was a legendary broadcasting talent who touched many lives in his remarkable 44-year career, and whose successes made an indelible mark on radio. His reputation and accomplishments are simply unparalleled and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him as PD of WJR in Detroit and most recently, as operations manager of KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. His Cumulus family extends our deepest sympathies to Kevin’s loved ones. We will miss him profoundly.” Metheny began working in radio at KWHP, Edmund, Oklahoma and WKY, Oklahoma City. His long and storied career includes having worked at a number of key radio stations around the country, most notably as programmer of WNBC, New York with Howard Stern (who critically dubbed a character in his autobiographical book Private Parts based on Metheny, “Pig Vomit”) in the 1980s and in more recent times with Jacor, Clear Channel and the Randy Michaels regime at WGN, Chicago. TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison states, “Metheny was one of the major radio programmers of the modern era. He had a keen understanding of the basics of talk radio and the important role talent plays within it. He wasn’t afraid of controversy nor subjecting himself to criticism. After more than four decades of making a difference in this industry he was still involved in one of the hot spots of action where he was well on his way to engineering a turn-around at the Cumulus operations in San Francisco. This is a tragic loss for all of us who care about radio. Our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.”
Ronn Owens Goes Public with Parkinson’s Diagnosis. Longtime KGO, San Francisco talk personality Ronn Owens recently went public with the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease that he received in 2001. He tells the San Francisco Chronicle he held off on announcing his condition because he didn’t want people feeling sorry for him and didn’t want to be identified by his illness. Owens tells the Chronicle’s David Wiegand he’s been managing the disease with medications since his diagnosis but felt the time was right for letting his listeners know about it. “I felt it was important to tell people that you can have it like I have for 12 ½ years and not be severely impacted by it. It’s possible, and it’s not a death sentence.” The 68-year-old Owens sounds as though he has no plans to retire from radio if the station still wants him. Read the entire piece here.
CBS RADIO and Townsquare Media Partner on new Michigan News Network. The new venture will roll out September 2 on 20 affiliate stations. Both companies announce that the new Michigan News Network will provide affiliated stations across the state with news, sports and other local content produced by CBS RADIO stations WWJ, Detroit “Newsradio 950” and WXYT-FM, “97.1 The Ticket.” The service offered will include top-of-the-hour broadcasts weekdays from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm and 60-second sports updates three times per day during the same time period. Townsquare Media will serve as the exclusive syndication partner and manage affiliate relationships. CBS RADIO president and CEO Dan Mason states, “CBS RADIO’s Detroit stations have served as the authoritative voice of the community for many years, establishing themselves among the market’s most credible brands and news sources. We are excited to be working with Townsquare to distribute our award-winning programming to listeners across the entire state of Michigan, while also realizing the highest value for our content.”
Martha Zoller to Leave Talk Radio Biz for Political Campaign Gig. After stepping away from the talk radio business a couple of years ago to run for office herself (an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress), Georgia talk radio personality Martha Zoller is again leaving the radio industry to join David Perdue’s U.S. Senate campaign. She tells TALKERS that she’s been offered a post in which she’ll be doing surrogate work, training surrogates and messaging as well as focusing on engagement of women and minorities for Perdue’s campaign. Zoller has been co-hosting the “Zoller & Bryant” morning drive show (with news director Tim Bryant) on WGAU, Athens, Georgia as well as in other parts of the state via the Georgia News Network. She says she will continue to write for her zpolitics.com site while working for Perdue’s campaign.
Jason Wolfe Named to Executive Post with Financial Exchange Radio Network. Longtime WEEI and WRKO, Boston programmer Jason Wolfe joins The Financial Exchange Radio Network as chief media and marketing strategist. The network syndicates the WRKO, Boston-based program “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong (pictured below at right) and Kim Carrigan (left)” heard on eight other affiliate stations around New England. Armstrong is president and CEO of the network. In this new role, Wolfe will be in charge of building the brand and expanding the reach of the program in addition to developing new marketing and business partnerships that expose the show to a much larger audience. Wolfe has also been working with former WEEI personality Glenn Ordway as chief content officer for Ordway’s Sportstalkboston.com and will continue in that position. Wolfe comments, “I’m thrilled to be able to work more directly with Barry, to build on what is already a very successful show. I’m privileged to have developed strong relationships with all of the major radio operators across the country and I’m extremely confident that as our discussions continue we’ll be able to expand the reach of this program.” Armstrong adds, “Jason has been working with us as a consultant for several months and has been doing a great job in getting ‘The Financial Exchange’ on additional radio stations. I know that he will build on that success in his new role as our new chief media and marketing strategist.”
Lesson from Napa: Be Prepared for that 3:00 am Telephone Call and Avoid Nasty Pranks While at It. No doubt you remember “it’s three am – and the phone rings…” from a 2008 Clinton for President political ad – arguably the most enduring line from that campaign. And it’s a question broadcasters need to answer BEFORE bad things happen…because bad things tend to happen at the worst possible time. Like 3:20 am PT this past Sunday…when the earth in and around Napa County, California shook like it hadn’t shaken in almost 25 years. At 3:20 am at most stations outside the largest markets – and even at some of the bigs, too – the programming likely is automated, or live via satellite. If anyone actually IS home, they are likely to be the lowest-paid, least-experienced people on the payroll. And that’s OK…we’ve all been there. But it’s only OK if plans are in place to help those folks deal with breaking news when senior managers, more experienced hands – and a full crew – aren’t around to help. If you’re a California station manager, you’ve got a quake plan that takes your staff step-by-step through operations and internal notification, programming and commercial adjustments, and continuous coverage ground rules. You’ve built comprehensive lists of key contacts in local, regional and state government; public and private disaster response groups; academic experts. And you’ve got a network news affiliation to back you up. Because at the end of the day, you’ve got to be fast. You have to be comprehensive. And most of all, you have to be right. In a must-read, informative new piece posted today (8/25) in TALKERS, ABC Television Network director of business continuity and industry expert on emergency preparedness Howard B. Price outlines everything a radio station should do to be ready for an earthquake such as the one that rocked Napa. He also lists things to help you avoid those horrific and embarrassing “pranks” that often accompany fast-breaking news events whereby imposters claiming to be officials get on the air and disrupt the decorum with nasty “gotcha” outbursts. To read the entire article, please click here.
The Best Talk Station Ever: What the Radio Industry Can Learn from a Truly Special News/Talk Operation. Seasoned radio business pro, Bill Brady, president/CEO of South Florida-based media investment firm, Futures & Options, Inc., serves up a fascinating look at one specific radio station that he says should be studied as the “best news/talk radio station, ever.” Wonder what it is? Hint: It existed in the past and proved there can be a lot more to news/talk radio than just one political point of view. Another hint: It had conservative, liberal, lifestyle, consumer advice, sports and art & entertainment elements delivered by legendary hosts who were at the top of their game and it sounded like no other station in the nation. Oh yes, by today’s standards, it also had extraordinarily high ratings Want to find out more? Read Brady’s entire piece by clicking here.
Host Rick Tryon Ends Political Show on KINX, Great Falls. According to a story in the Great Falls Tribune, Rick Tryon is ending his daily one-hour political talk show, citing the difficulty of making it financially feasible. Tryon brokers the “Politics Montana with Rick Tryon” program which consists of him interviewing opinion leaders about political issues. Tryon tells the paper the listeners have been good to the show but it’s time consuming and he’s ready to dedicate energy to other interests. Tryon’s last program will be Wednesday (8/27).
More TALKERS Career Moves. After being unceremoniously let go by longtime employer NPR back in 2004, former “Morning Edition” host Bob Edwards landed at Sirius. Now, 10 years later Edwards is leaving SiriusXM as the satcaster is cancelling his program. SiriusXM has not commented publicly on the move but Politico’s Dylan Byers reports the last show will air September 26…..Louisiana talk show host Jim Engster is taking his eponymous talk show from public outlet WRKF, Baton Rouge to Guaranty Broadcasting’s commercial outlet WBRP, Baton Rouge beginning in November. Engster will move from a one-hour morning program to a two-hour afternoon drive show.
Your Podcast Format. Are you serious about making your podcast stand out from the literally millions of podcasts available on the Internet? As a professional talk show host you probably are already doing some type of on-demand programming, but are you conscious of the program’s format? Media consultant Holland Cooke writes that basic radio formatics apply but there is a difference between an AM/FM talk show and a podcast and your execution should reflect the difference. Cooke says you need to understand how users are consuming your podcast and design the show accordingly. Read his entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Entertainment pro Gary Alan is currently available to handle fill-in work. Alan, a South Florida native who’s worked at such signals as WAXY, Miami, says his unique style easily allows him to navigate through politics, sports, entertainment, and today’s social issues with wit and a sense of humor. He can be contacted at: email@example.com or phoned at 407-960-3663…..The regularly scheduled “Ask the Mayor” show on CBS RADIO’s KNX, Los Angeles returns Thursday (8/28) as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti spends an hour with KNX listeners from 10:00 am to 11:00 am fielding calls and answering emailed and Tweeted questions. KNX anchor Tom Haule hosts the program that airs about every six weeks…..Yahoo! Sports Radio adds “Sports Kings’ NFL Weekly Countdown” to its weekend lineup. The show debuts Saturday at 7:00 am ET featuring MeanGene “The Sports Machine” and sports host Ronnie Brooks.
Wachs and Smiley on Vegas TV. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs (right), poses for a selfie with fellow syndicated radio personality and comic Rickey Smiley (left) at the studios of KVVU-TV, Las Vegas “FOX 5.” Dr. Wachs appeared on the “MORE” program to discuss nurse practitioners taking over doctors’ duties and Smiley was there to promote his show at the Orleans Theater in Las Vegas last Friday night.
Ferguson Fallout/Michael Brown Funeral, Obama’s Relationship with Fellow Democrats/Mid Term Elections, Napa Earthquake, U.S. Iraq and Syria Military Policy, Ice Bucket Challenge, Russia-Ukraine Tensions, and VMA Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/25). The funeral of Michael Brown and the fallout from his death at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri police; the looming mid-term elections and chatter about the strained relationships between President Obama and fellow Democrats; the Napa, California earthquake and talk of the future “big one” for California; the military policy of the Obama Administration with regard to military involvement in Iraq and Syria; the ice bucket challenge phenomenon; the military tensions between Russia and Ukraine; and Sunday’s VMA Awards show were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (8/25).
Cumulus Media Moves Kevin Metheny to KGO and KSFO, San Francisco. From his current position with Cumulus Media as program director of WJR, Detroit, Kevin Metheny will go West to take the helm of Bay Area news and talk stations KGO and KSFO as operations manager, effective July 14. The company says that Metheny is “a career content creator whose other recent work includes the successful launch of CBS RADIO’s country KMNB, “BUZ*N @ 102.9” in the Twin Cities; program director of WGN, Chicago; and 13 years with Clear Channel in various roles, including regional vice president of programming.” Cumulus EVP and co-COO John Dickey states, “Kevin Metheny’s reputation and accomplishments are unparalleled. His deep understanding of spoken-word radio and ability to work with bigger-than-life talents make him the ideal candidate to lead the legendary KGO and KSFO.” Metheny takes over for Ron Escarsega, who exits the stations.
WIND, Chicago Pulls Joe Walsh Off the Air After ‘Conversation About Words.’ Chicago talk show host (and former U.S. Congressman) Joe Walsh was pulled off his radio program on the Salem Communications-owned talk station yesterday (6/19) after he used a number of racial slurs while engaging in what he termed (via Twitter) “an honest, adult conversation about words without resorting to alphabet soup phrases (C-word, N-word etc.).” Walsh was riffing on the controversy over the NFL’s Washington Redskins losing its trademark due a recent Trademark Office decision. He Tweets that he “Found out that if I said Redskins or Cracker or Redneck Bible Thumper I could stay on. But if I said N***er or Sp**k, they cut me off.” As reported in the Daily Mail, Walsh is expected to be off the radio today and will meet with management later this afternoon. Walsh is fairly new to talk radio and apparently didn’t think an academic discussion was the same as outright use of the words he was discussing. Still, management is understandably skittish about the matter. Time will tell if this afternoon’s meeting is about setting it right or a pink slip for Walsh.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Takes Top Honors at IBA Awards Ceremony. Chicago news/talker WGN was honored with the Chicago Market Station of the Year award at the 2014 Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Awards ceremony held in Peoria on Wednesday, June 18. This is the seventh year running for WGN taking home that honor. The Tribune-owned station also was honored with first place wins in six categories, including: Best play-by-play team for Chicago Blackhawks broadcasters John Wiedeman and Troy Murray; Best radio series or documentary for “Beyond Bartman: The Story of the 2003 Cubs,” produced by David Kaplan, Trey Elling and Dan Levy; Best radio feature for “Halloween Rescheduled,” with Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder; Best station website for wgnradio.com; Best use of new media for the “Graveyard Shift Tours,” video with Nick Digilio and Dan Sugrue; and Best non-humorous commercial for “Des Plaines Golf Center,” produced by Jason Skaggs. WGN president and GM Jimmy de Castro states, “We are thrilled to have taken home seven awards and to be recognized by our peers at the Illinois Broadcasters Association. You can’t be named Chicago Market Station of the Year without terrific contributions from people like John and Troy of the Chicago Blackhawks and the incredibly talented family at WGN Radio. These awards are a testament to the strong sense of collaboration at our station and the amazing buzz in our hallways.”
Odds & Sods. The chairman of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will take over as general manager of sports talk KLAA, Orange, California after the exit of David Baronfeld. The radio management pro had been GM of the station for the past three years…..Compass Media Networks announces its NFL play-by-play schedule for the 2014 season. Some of the key games the network is offering include: the 49ers at the Cowboys on 9/7, the Raiders at the Seahawks on 11/2, and the Cowboys at the Bears on 12/4…..Sports USA also announces its NFL play-by-play schedule for the coming season. Games available through it include the Saints at the Falcons on 9/7, the Broncos at the Seahawks on 9/21, and the Packers at the Bears on 9/28…..Staradio Corp.-owned rock station WYKT, Kankakee, Illinois will flip to sports talk as “105.5 the Ticket” beginning July 10. The station will use CBS Sports Radio Network programming and will air NFL play-by-play from WestwoodOne as well as local high school football and basketball.
Joy at the United Nations. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Joy Browne (right) is pictured here interviewing an unidentified expert from the United Nations at yesterday’s “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations” – the massive radio row at the iconic headquarters of the World Organization — produced by TALKERS magazine in association with the Talk Radio News Service and the United Nations Foundation. Dr. Joy Browne will be at the Talkers New York 2104 conference taking place at the historic India House in Hanover Square today. Meet her there!
Iraq Turmoil Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of June 16-20. The political turmoil and violence taking place in Iraq and the Obama Administration’s policy toward the nation was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the crisis of child illegals pouring over the borders in the Southwest and the larger topic of immigration reform. At #3 was the recent primary results and races and the state of the GOP followed by Hillary Clinton’s memoir tied with speculation about the 2016 presidential race at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
By Charles Karel Bouley II
Talk Show Host
LONG BEACH, CA – Fourteen years ago I did my first international remote broadcast for KFI, Los Angeles. My late husband Andrew (also my co-host) and I had been invited to Ireland to broadcast for St. Patrick’s Day 2000.
Once it got cleared, it was a big to-do. Engineer and producer extraordinaire Emeliano Limon was to come with us, and he had an arsenal of equipment. Metal crates and boxes, too much for one person to manage, all got on board Aer Lingus that year as the “Karel & Andrew” show went live in Dublin.
ISDN lines had to be dropped at each hotel. There had to be access to POTS lines as well. The internet and computers were in their infancy so international speeds were spotty at best. To do the broadcast to an ISDN Codec like the Telos Zephyr, an ISDN line, two microphones, mixing board, vocal processor; it took large audio files taking hours to send and audio recorders like a DAT or MiniDisc for field audio that then had to be converted and edited.
In other words, it took manpower, equipment and time to do a remote abroad, or, anywhere for that matter.
By Mike Kinosian
In much the same way the late Dick Clark never seemed to age, some were shocked that the always youthful-looking Lange was actually 81 when he passed away at his Mill Valley, California home.
Several years ago – during my tenure as special features editor for the trade publication Inside Radio – the two of us had an extended conversation; the result was one of my in-depth personality profiles.
That chat laid the foundation for what became a continuing friendship. It was a privilege to remain in contact with the gracious and hospitable Lange, who was most deserving of the “Gentleman Jim” handle.
As a tribute, here are edited/condensed/updated highlights from that profile, which began by theorizing, if those at Guinness ever concocted a world record category for “Person Throwing The Most Kisses on Television,” Lange would be the hands-down winner.
Mike Lindsley Returns to WSKO, Syracuse. Sports talk host Mike Lindsley is back in Syracuse on Cumulus Media’s WSKO where he’ll host the Mike Lindsley Show: In the Cell with M.L.” from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm beginning December 9. Lindsley talked sports in the market for more than 10 years before moving to Townsquare Media’s WTMM, Albany in March of this year. Both Lindsley and WTMM co-host Brian Cady were let go from the station in early September after a caller pretending to be former Yankees outfielder Shane Spencer went on the air and said he experimented with PEDs. Townsquare made no connection about the snafu and their release. Back in Syracuse, operations manager Tom Mitchell replaces CBS Sports Radio Network’s Doug Gottlieb with Lindsley and he says, “We are happy to welcome Mike Lindsley back to the ‘voice of the Central New York sports fan.’ Once again, listeners have a choice of local afternoon sports shows. Mike is known for his strong opinions and his love of the Syracuse Orange, Syracuse Chiefs, and New York Yankees, in no particular order.”
Nielsen’s ‘Cross-Platform Report’ Concludes More Than 90% of Americans Use Radio Each Week. The just released “A Look Across Media: The Cross-Platform Report” from Nielsen uses RADAR data for its conclusions about radio use and habits. Stating that radio is used by more than 90% of Americans each week, the report notes that African Americans (92%) and Hispanics (94%) are the biggest users of radio on a weekly basis. According to Nielsen, the average American “consumes almost 60 hours of content each week across TV, online, radio and mobile,” and it breaks down this way: TV – 35.1 hours; radio –14 hours; video online – 1.5 hours; video on mobile – 1.3 hours. Though the report states that monthly listening to AM/FM radio is 60 hours and 42 minutes on average, missing from the options is listening to audio via mobile – obviously an important competitor for AM/FM radio. The report measures traditional TV, using Blu-Ray/DVD, using game console, using internet from computer, watching video on the internet, and watching video on mobile in addition to listening to radio via AM/FM. See more about the report here.
Morelli Moves to CBS Radio as VP/Integrated Marketing. Two-year CBS Radio Chicago director of integrated marketing & events Jennifer Morelli is named vice president of integrated marketing for CBS Radio. Morelli led non-traditional sales efforts for the company’s six-station Windy City cluster. According to CBS Radio president of sales Michael Weiss, “Jennifer has taken on roles of increasing responsibility during her tenure at CBS Radio and is well prepared to take on this leadership position for the division. She has demonstrated the ability to create opportunities for clients that go beyond conventional advertising and branding methods.” Morelli joined CBS Radio Houston four years ago as integrated marketing manager. She previously held several positions – including general sales manager – with Emmis in Austin and she has worked in the sales department of WQRF-TV, Chicago. Morelli’s radio career began in 1997 at Sconnix Broadcasting‘s Quad Cities stations where she was an account executive.
Nieslen Audio November PPM Data Released. The November 2013 PPM ratings data is being released by Nielsen Audio – currently numbers for all 48 markets have been made public – and that information can be found at the site of TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo. Check out the main page for managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian’s “Ten Takeaways” here or go straight to the full ratings data here.
Karel to Cut Back Radio Show Time; Promotes New Podcast. Talk show host Charles “Karel” Bouley, whose daily program currently airs from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET via the Genesis Communications Network, will cut the daily show back to an hour each day and focus more energy on his new podcast “The Karel-Cast” via TheKDW.com network beginning January 2. He says he will continue hosting his weekend evening programs on KGO, San Francisco and his program on WWRL, New York. He says, “As an entertainer who is a content provider of audio, video, live stage shows, print, and live web cams, Karel and ‘The Karel Show’ have been a driving force for a website that has functioned as an actual network. So now, it truly will.”
Hometown Media Moves Wilmington News/Talk Outlet to New Frequencies. The news/talk format branded “Port City Radio” is no longer being heard on Wilmington, North Carolina outlets WNTB and WLTT. Those signals are now airing country format “The Dude” and news/talk has been moved to Hometown Media’s WSFM and translator W240AS, formerly the home of a classical music format.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Begins ‘Holiday Giving Campaign.’ The 2013 Holiday Giving Campaign is underway at the Broadcasters Foundation of America. The campaign asks broadcasters to spread the word about the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation to those who may need its assistance, and encourages donations and memberships at www.broadcastersfoundation.org, or by calling 212-373-8250. Often a last refuge, the Broadcasters Foundation has helped broadcasters and their families remain in their homes and made it possible for retirees to afford life-sustaining medications. The Broadcasters Foundation also has provided one-time emergency grants, including in the aftermath of natural catastrophes such as Hurricane Sandy. Chairman Phil Lombardo states, “The goal of the Foundation’s board of directors is that no broadcaster’s cry for help should ever go unanswered. Requests for aid have more than doubled over the past few years and more come in every day. Next year, we will disburse over $900,000 in financial assistance, a 100% increase from five years ago.” BFoA president Jim Thompson adds, “The pace of incoming donations is lagging behind the requests for aid. Our grant recipients are our colleagues — individuals who we have worked with and whose lives have been devastated by unthinkable circumstances. Aid from the Broadcasters Foundation can be life-saving, in many cases. I ask every broadcaster to consider making a donation or becoming a member.”
Dr. Daliah Wachs on ‘Pawn Stars’ This Thursday. Genesis Communications Networks-syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs (left) poses for a photo with “Pawn Stars” historical artifacts expert Mark Hall-Patton (right) during her most recent appearance on the History Channel program. Dr. Wachs tells TALKERS magazine that the show will air this Thursday at 10:30 ET in which she brings a Civil War-era metacarpal bone saw in to sell. How much, if anything, does she get for it? You’ll have to watch the show to find out! Her contract with the network prevents her from spilling the beans.
ObamaCare Criticism, Rush Limbaugh Pope-Marxism Flap, Iran Nukes Deal, New York Rail Crash, and Paul Walker Crash Death Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/2). Criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act as well as anticipation of how it will affect the health care industry; the flap over Rush Limbaugh’s calling Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “pure Marxism”; the deal between the U.S. and Iran on the latter’s nuclear program; the deadly commuter rail crash outside of New York City; and the death of actor Paul Walker in a high-speed sports car crash were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Names New Market Manager, Sales Chief for San Francisco. Cumulus Media announces Steve Sklenar has been appointed market manager for the company’s San Francisco stations and Kevin Crespo has simultaneously been installed as national and regional sales manager for the cluster. Sklenar comes to Cumulus Media from his most recent post as assistant vice president and director of sales at Lincoln Financial Media’s San Diego stations. Sklenar says in a statement, “To be tapped as the leader of Cumulus San Francisco is both exciting and humbling. This is without question one of the most coveted positions in all of broadcasting, not just radio. The history and prestige of these stations in the San Francisco community comes with great responsibility. We will not take that lightly.” Sklenar is in charge of talk KSFO, news/talk KGO, sports talk KNBR and KTCT, triple A KFOG and KFFG and classic rock KSAN “The Bone.” Cumulus EVP and co-COO Jon Pinch says, “Steve and Kevin are well-suited to take leadership and sales development roles at this legendary cluster of stations. They will round out a solid team that’s contributing significantly to our growth in San Francisco. After meeting with numerous qualified candidates, John Dickey and I are confident that these two gentlemen will have immediate positive impact on our business moving forward.”
Moody’s Cumulus’ Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating to SGL — 2 from SGL – 3. Moody’s Investors Service announces it has upped Cumulus Media’s Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating from SGL – 2 to SGL – 3 “reflecting improved access to the senior secured revolver due to the recent amendment of the 1st lien credit agreement. The amendment reduces the revolver commitment to $150 million from $300 million, but replaces the total net leverage test with a 1st lien net leverage requirement enabling full access to the revolver.” Moody’s says the B2 Corporate Family Rating remains unchanged and explains why: “Leverage remains elevated due to revenue and EBITDA falling below expected levels for the six months ended March 31, 2013 which prompted the downgrade in the corporate family rating earlier this year. Management indicated that pro forma revenues decreased $5.6 million or 2.5% in 1Q2013 compared to 1Q2012 reflecting lower political revenue, the winding down of unfavorable legacy Citadel barter transactions, and challenges related to its syndicated talk segment.” However, Moody’s cites the turnarounds of a number of Cumulus’ “10 underperforming stations” for the upgrade and goes on to state, “Looking forward, revenue growth is expected to be flat in 2013 due in part to the absence of significant political advertising. Moody’s expects Cumulus to generate roughly $175 million of annual free cash flow versus our prior estimate of $200 million to reflect management’s comments that it expects to invest roughly $25 million annually in CBS Sports Radio, Nash FM and related country format branding, its Traffic network, as well as SweetJack.”
Charles Steinhauer Ascends to Chief Operations Officer at Dial Global. Moving up from his most recent position as president of operations with Dial Global, Charles Steinhauer is promoted to chief operations officer. The company states that in this new position, Steinhauer will be responsible for overseeing the management of the company’s day-to-day operations — including technology, distribution, research, compliance, and strategy. He will continue to be located in New York City and will report directly to CEO Paul Caine. In his previous post, he managed all sales support divisions for Dial Global. The company also notes that Steinhauer “is one of the leads on an industry-wide research initiative working to improve how radio is incorporated into Marketing Mix Models, which are widely used by advertisers to evaluate how product sales are influenced by advertising.” About his promotion, Steinhauer says, “I’m very excited to be working with Paul Caine and to continue to move the company forward with all of the Dial Global family. I look forward to working even more closely with our staff and our outstanding content and distribution partners to create optimum value for our audiences and advertisers. I couldn’t be more fortunate.”
Tora Fisher to Perform at Talkers New York 2013. At the tender age of 23, she is both a rising pop star and a humanitarian. Tora Fisher of the Fisher family that spearheads Fisher House Foundation – the charitable organization that provides housing around the country for the visiting families of hospitalized American servicemen and women wounded in battle – will be appearing at Talkers New York 2013 tomorrow (6/6). The young singer/songwriter, whose heartfelt song “Finally Free” currently sits at number 29 and number 21 on the RadioInfo pop songs and rock songs charts respectively, will open the event’s Freedom of Speech Award Ceremony with an a cappela performance of the Lee Greenwood anthem “Proud to Be an American.” Ms. Fisher, who is a spokesperson for Fisher House, will be backed up in the performance by two female cadets from West Point, Mary Kay Messenger and Alexis Cole. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “Even though this annual event is geared to talk radio, we have a tradition of presenting some of the world’s greatest up-and-coming singers performing inspirational music at key moments in the proceedings. Having Tora Fisher perform this powerful song at Talkers New York 2013 is extremely meaningful and certainly in keeping with this tradition. Not only is this beautiful young woman one of the most talented female singer/songwriters I have heard since the golden days of the great ones like Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro – she has a powerful personal story of courage and will that is both touching and compelling. As a child of 13, she survived a terrible plane crash that took the life of her father and set her on the road to becoming mature beyond her years and a powerful artist of both words and music. Add to that her dedication to the families of America’s brave young service people and…well, you have a very, very special young lady indeed. Everyone who sees her perform at this event will be touched and certainly remember where they first heard and saw Tora!”
TRN Sues Former Attorney in Anti-Trust Case. Talk Radio Network has filed suit in Oregon against California attorney Joseph Alioto alleging that he did not move with the speed promised and in a time frame that would prevent TRN from suffering further damages in its anti-trust suit against numerous sales rep firms and radio programming syndicators. TRN is seeking more than $10 million in damages and relief. In the claim, TRN alleges that after making a $125,000 retainer payment, Alioto repeatedly failed to file the complaint in a timely fashion and when Alioto decided to withdraw from the matter, he caused TRN further losses due to the time that had passed. TRN claims Alioto did not have good cause to withdraw from the matter. Allegations include fraud and legal malpractice.
Programmer Bill White Exits WGN, Chicago. One of the first moves on the part of WGN, Chicago’s new president and general manager Jimmy de Castro is to make a change in program directors for the heritage news/talk station. Talk programming pro Bill White leaves the station after two years in the director of programming and news position. White states, “Having the opportunity to work with such a tremendous team at one of America’s legendary radio stations has been a privilege and an honor. I wish the staff and WGN Radio much success in the future.” Bill White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In a memo to staffers, de Castro wrote, “Sometimes managers have to make difficult decisions on behalf of a few to build a brighter future for many. Today, we are losing the services of a friend and delightful professional, Bill White. Please join me in wishing him the best in his future endeavors.” There’s no word who will replace White but industry watchers believe de Castro will go with someone who either currently works in the Chicago market or is very familiar with it.
Newsmax Reports #1 Online Reading Status. Conservative media firm Newsmax announces that according to digital measurement firm comScore, during April, of the 65 million Americans using all digital platforms, Newsmax sites led all other sites in web traffic with over 14 million monthly unique visitors. comScore notes that Newsmax exceeded such competitors as HuffPost Politics and Fox News Politics with these recent April numbers. Newsmax also was #1 in the same category for personal computer users who read News/Politics online. According to comScore, Newsmax received 14.4 million monthly unique visitors in April — up from 13.3 million the previous month. HuffPost received 14 million monthly unique visitors from the News/Politics category and Fox News received 10.9 million monthly unique visitors in April, respectively. comScore’s top 10 breaks down this way: Newsmax Sites – 14.4 million monthly unique visitors; Huffington Post Politics – 14 million; Fox News – 10. 9 million; CNN Politics — 9 million; NBC News.com Politics — 7.5 million; Politico.com — 6.5 million; Current TV — 6.3 million; The Economist Group — 3.7 million; The Hill.com — 3.2 million; and Mother Jones.com — 2.9 million monthly unique visitors. Speaking about Newsmax’s achievement, CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “We are once again honored to be the number one digital political news site for the second month in a row. It is a testament to quality of our digital content that consumers online, on smartphones and on tablets continue to look to Newsmax for the latest political news.”
FCC Has New Acting Chief of Enforcement Bureau. The Federal Communications Commission announces that FCC acting chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn has appointed Robert H. Ratcliffe to the position of acting chief of the commission’s enforcement bureau. Currently, Ratcliffe is the deputy chief of the media bureau. The position opens as P. Michele Ellison moves to the chief of staff post. Ratcliffe is a longtime staffer at the FCC having spent more than 35 years at the agency including as acting chief of the media bureau and as deputy chief of the enforcement bureau. In a statement, Clyburn says, “I am pleased that Mr. Ratcliffe has agreed to serve in this critical role. Bob is a top-flight lawyer who will bring his vast experience, sound legal judgment, and overall sense of fairness to this effort.”
Sexual Assaults in U.S. Military, Looming MLB PEDs Suspensions, Lung Transplant Controversy, Susan Rice National Security Adviser Nomination, and IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/4). Testimony of military chiefs addressing the high rate of sexual assaults in the U.S. military and Senator Saxby Chambliss’ associated comments; the reports of numerous suspensions coming from Major League Baseball for PED violations; the controversy over a 10-year-old girl’s need for a lung transplant and the government’s transplant program; Susan Rice’s nomination for national security adviser; and the IRS’ targeting of conservative non-profit groups were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Frosty Stillwell Returns to Talk at CC’s KKSF, San Francisco for Middays. Hot AC KIOI, San Francisco “Star 101.3” morning show co-host Frosty Stillwell will continue his work alongside Sandy Stec on the Sandy & Frosty program until a replacement is named but today (6/4) he begins immediately hosting the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show on the company’s talk KKSF “Talk 910.” Stillwell was part of the Frosty, Heidi & Frank trio that spent years at hot talk KLSX, Los Angeles. He also had worked at Clear Channel’s KYSR, Los Angeles and filled in at talk KFI. Frosty says, “I am thrilled to get back to what I’ve done for the past two decades, talk radio. ‘Talk 910’ dominates the format in San Francisco. While I loved being part of the music and personality show on ‘Star 101.3,’ there was just no way I could pass up this enticing opportunity right down the hall to get back to my true passion.”
Peter Boyles Officially Out at KHOW, Denver. Less than two weeks after being removed from the air on Clear Channel Denver’s talk KHOW, station management officially cuts the ties between the longtime Denver personality and the station. Peter Boyles was taken off the air on May 24 after an altercation between Boyles and his producer Greg Hollenback that reportedly escalated into a physical attack on Boyles’ part. The incident made the news immediately as local media was in the building to cover a press conference with politician Tom Tancredo. KHOW program director Dan Mandis wrote an email to the Denver Post notifying the paper Boyles is no longer with the company. Guest hosts have been sitting in on the morning show since that time and no permanent replacement has been announced.
Programming VP Mike Elder Exits Fox News Radio. One of the most respected programming executives in talk radio, Mike Elder, has left Fox News Radio after serving the past eight years as the company’s VP of programming. Elder, a veteran PD of such great stations as WRKO, Boston; WLS, Chicago; WCCO, Minneapolis; KTOK, Oklahoma City and KMBZ/KCMO, Kansas City tells TALKERS, “It was an amicable parting of the ways. My contract was up, cuts were being made to the staff, and we both agreed to move on. And this was the longest tenure of a more-than-40-year career, so I was living on borrowed time anyway.” Elder continues, “This has been one of the best jobs I’ve had, or that radio still had. [Fox VPs] Kevin Magee and Bob Finnerty were very supportive of our efforts and our channel on SiriusXM as well as the internet and affiliates. They allowed me to put together a great staff and I appreciate their support over the past eight years.” What next for the 40-year veteran of talk and music radio? He tells TALKERS he will probably move back to his home in Boston and believes he has at least one more job in him. He will take the time to explore his options as a programmer and talent coach. “I still feel I have another gig left in me, so I am not shutting the door on radio. I would welcome the chance to work with great talent and production staffs again. But I’m open to something new as well. There is a whole new world on the internet that will require content, and not the same ol’, same ol’. I’d love to work on something new, exciting, challenging and dynamic that would allow me to put my over 40 years of experience and skills to use in a new and different way.” Mike Elder can be reached at Mikeelder@me.com or 646-256-5653.
Joe Thomas Puts ‘The Afternoon Constitutional’ on Hiatus. WCHV, Charlottesville, Virginia program director and morning drive host Joe Thomas announces that “after two-and-a-half years of independent conservative analysis of the news and events for Virginia’s great cities of Richmond, Roanoke and Charlottesville,” he’s taking the regionally syndicated afternoon show off the air. Although Thomas says of “The Afternoon Constitutional,” “It’s more like a ‘dry docking’ of a great ship that has taken you to amazing places but now needs to be refitted with some new things for her future voyages. Stay tuned!” Thomas continues his roles as morning host and program director at WCHV. He can be reached at email@example.com
Progressive Talker KTNF, Minneapolis Sold to Chad Larson. Sales manager Chad Larson believes in progressive talk and he’s agreeing to pay current owner JR Broadcasting (Janet Roberts) $1.5 million for the AM signal. JR Broadcasting paid $3 million for the station in 2004 from CBS Radio. Currently, the station airs local morning host Matt McNeil’s “The Morning Grind” plus WYD Media’s Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz and Compass Media Network’s Norman Goldman.
Odds & Sods. The Boston Globe reports that rumors are flying in town that Entercom’s sports talk WEEI is contemplating a change to its midday show by moving Mike Mutnansky out and replacing him with Comcast SportsNet New England’s Jessica Moran. Mutnansky co-hosts the “Mut & Merloni” show with former Red Sox player Lou Merloni…..At ESPN Radio, the NBA Finals are the hot topic as Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love and former NBA head coach Doug Collins join “Mike & Mike” as co-hosts. Love will join Mike Golic and Ryan Ruocco, who will sub for Mike Greenberg, on Thursday, June 6 – the morning of Game 1 of the Finals. Doug Collins, who most recently coached the Philadelphia 76ers, will join Golic and Greenberg the morning after Game 3, Wednesday, June 12. Both guests will be part of an NBA-centric programming block from 6:00 am to 10:00 am.
George Beasley Receives Honorary Doctorate. Beasley Broadcast Group chairman and chief executive officer George G. Beasley is pictured here at Appalachian State University’s recent May commencement receiving Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa from the school’s chancellor Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock. A native of Patrick County, Virginia, Beasley has deep ties to Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, NC receiving both his undergraduate (’58) and graduate degrees (’60) from ASU. Most recently, he contributed the lead gift making a new broadcasting and media facility on campus possible – the George G. Beasley Media Complex, which is scheduled to open later this year. Beasley vice president of corporate communications Denyse Mesnik tells us that education was a first love of George Beasley’s. “Prior to broadcasting, George was a teacher and ultimately a high school principal. In fact, while building his first radio station he was a principal until the school bell rang, then a radio station owner late afternoons, evenings and weekends.”
Michael Douglas Oral Sex Flap, Senator Lautenburg Dies, IRS Scandal, DOJ Journalists Investigation, Obama Administration Secret Email Accounts and Syria Chemical Weapons Charges Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/3). Michael Douglas’ public statement that oral sex caused his throat cancer; the death of Democratic New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg; the ongoing scandal involving the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups; the Department of Justice’s investigation of journalists; the controversy over some Obama Administration appointees using secret email accounts; and the chemical weapons use charges against the Syrian military were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Pioneering Talk Radio Host Gene Burns Dead at 72. Longtime talk radio host and broadcasting pioneer Gene Burns has died, succumbing to a long illness marked by a series of strokes. In the words of TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison, “Gene was one of the greatest of the great and classiest of the classy – a true ‘wordsmith’ and gentleman who symbolized everything good about talk radio and served as one of the major engines that drove the ascent of its modern era.” Until recently forced by illness into retirement from on-air performing, Burns had spent a decade and a half as a key host on KGO, San Francisco where he did a general news/talk program as well as a very popular restaurant and entertainment show. The veteran of a number of great stations, he made his mark in the late-1980s and early-1990s as a member of the legendary lineup at WRKO, Boston that also included the late Jerry Williams. That was followed by a brief but high-profile stint at WOR, New York and national syndication on the WOR Radio Network. Harrison adds, “Gene Burns practiced a brand of libertarian-based, intellectual populism in his approach to political news/talk that set the standard for the format’s emergence as a voice for the average person to stand up to big government, big business, big media and big anything. Although ‘conservative’ in his orientation, he eschewed blatant partisanship, avoided banal cookie-cutter left-versus-right talking points and dealt with each issue in an academically probing and credible manner.” Burns’ ground breaking work in the early-1990s stood as the inspiration for TALKERS magazine’s annual Freedom of Speech Award and the tradition of the annual State of the First Amendment Address delivered at the publication’s conventions. He is ranked the 23rd most important radio talk show host of all time by TALKERS in its “Heaviest Hundred” feature which is updated twice a decade. Harrison concludes, “His rich, baritone voice coupled with the artistry of his word selection and ability to construct a logical argument was about as close to music as one could hear within a spoken word context.” A special honoring the life and work of Gene Burns aired on Sunday, May 26 on KGO hosted by David Weintraub and a special tribute will be presented honoring his legacy at Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6.
Adult Contemporary is a Relatively Low-Involvement Format on Facebook. According to digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, “There are several major-market adult contemporary stations on Facebook who have a ton of followers, but very little interaction going on. As a former AC programmer, I absolutely feel their pain; AC is a low-involvement format. At the same time, most of these stations have fallen into a rut about what they post. The quality of the post is in the level of engagement you get from it. When thousands or tens of thousands follow you, and you get two or three ‘Likes’ on your posts, you gotta shake up your thinking.” In a new column posted today (5/28) Miller suggests that although consistency is basically a good and necessary thing, there is a dark side to it and to avoid falling into a rut, radio broadcasters of all formats should make changes to approximately 10% of their posts on a regular basis. To read the details and Miller’s entire piece, click here.
Kent Sterling Returns to Indy on Sports Talk WFNI. News/talk and sports radio pro Kent Sterling re-surfaces on the air at Emmis’ sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis for a weekend program with Chris Hagan called, “Ahead of the Curve with Hagan and Sterling.” He most recently served with Bonneville at its St. Louis sports talker WXOS but exited that post to return to Indianapolis. Prior to his work at WXOS, Sterling served as program director at Emmis’ news/talk flagship WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. Sterling’s and Hagan’s weekend program airs from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays.
NBA on Radio Is a Different Breed of Sports Play-by-Play. Major League Baseball is the sport that could be called radio’s best friend and the NFL’s astounding popularity makes its games and surrounding programming popular with listeners. While the NBA’s regular season games are not generally thought of as “programming gold” across the country, it appears that having even a moderately successful team combined with a flagship station with a strong nighttime signal, can be a recipe for success with basketball play-by-play. According to information from Arbitron based on PPM data from 27 NBA teams in 25 PPM markets, certain places are simply basketball towns – the Los Angeles Lakers rule Los Angeles on KSPN with average game estimates larger than the Dodgers, Angels, Kings and Ducks grabbing a 4.0 share with Men 25-54 (average of all 82 games). And perennial contenders the San Antonio Spurs dominated on WOAI with a 9.8 share with Men 25-54. However, less successful teams on strong flagships performed well during the regular season: the Milwaukee Bucks just squeaked into the playoffs but on heritage WTMJ garnered a 10 share with Men 25-54; the Cleveland Cavaliers missed the playoffs yet grabbed a 9.7 share (M 25-54) on WTAM; and the Detroit Pistons also missed the playoffs but notched an 8.0 (M 25-54) share on the highly rated WXYT-FM. Considering games in the East and Midwest air in the evenings, numbers for the stations cited above – and others not cited here – are impressive nighttime ratings.
Flagship Stations Should Capitalize on Cross-Promotional Opportunities within Baseball PBP. According to Bonneville Seattle creative director Chris Pendl, “If you’ve made the investment on play-by-play sports on your station, it’s important to maximize the return on your investment by trying to recycle that audience to another daypart on your station.” Arbitron reports that MLB drives cume increases as much as 50% to 65% during baseball season. Pendl tells TALKERS, “This influx of audience is one of the reasons we pay rights fees, share revenue, or give up inventory to carry this programming. In a climate with little or no external marketing dollars, I’ve often joked that our promotional time within baseball play-by-play is the closest thing we’ll get to an interstate billboard or TV campaign.” In an exclusive article posted today (5/28) Pendl describes and shares a production/promo technique conducted by Bonneville to cross-promote the station via the baseball audience that he calls “situation baseball return liners.” To read the entire piece and hear examples of its execution, click here.
Buckley to Sell KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. Buckley Communications announces it is selling sports talk KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. The price is yet to be announced. KYZZ is the FM side of the sports talk simulcast that also airs on Buckley’s KIDD, Monterey and Buckley says it will continue with its ESPN Radio affiliation on KIDD. Mt. Wilson has not announced its format plans for KYZZ. Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson also owns country KKGO, Los Angeles and classical simulcast KMZT-AM, Beverly Hills and KMZT-FM, Big Sur, California.
WTOP Hacking: Why You Should Worry. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes about the recent hacking of the websites of Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED “Federal News Radio.” Weisman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on scams, he operates the website Scamicide that presents up-to-date information about scams, fraud and identity theft, and is the author of The Truth About Avoiding Scams (FT Press 2008). In this column, Weisman explains the methods used by the WTOP hackers and explains the steps users can take to avoid becoming the victim of similar attacks. Read Weisman’s entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Martz Communications’ WPDM, Potsdam, New York flips from a simulcast of FM sister WSNN to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network…..Wilks License Company’s sports talk WZOH, Columbus becomes part of the Cleveland Browns radio network based at CBS Radio’s WKRK, Cleveland…..WTOP, Washington crowns Nathan Stanford from Harrington, Delaware the 2013 winner of “Commuter Idle” – an “extreme commuter” competition for listeners experiencing the daily horrors of commuting in and around Washington. Stanford’s commute begins with a 3:00 am alarm and a one-hour drive. He then boards a commuter bus for a 90-minute ride from Kent Island to Foggy Bottom, rides the Metro, and hustles on foot to his office in Rosslyn. Stanford’s travels from Delaware to Virginia average more than five hours a day, though the commute can be much longer in the summer months with Friday beach traffic. He receives $1,000 in gas money and will enjoy a limo ride to and from work from Reston Limousine. WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “The question that we hear most often is, ‘Why do these people do it?’ It’s fascinating to hear their personal stories and accompany them on their crazy commutes. We feel their pain, and as DC’s traffic authority we’re here to help.”
KOIL, Omaha’s Mulberry Lane Meets the Beach Boys and John Stamos. Musical act Mulberry Lane opened for the Beach Boys (which includes actor and musician John Stamos) in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday, May 25. Pictured here are (from l-r): Bo Mulberry, Bruce Johnston, Rachel Mulberry, Mike Love, Allie Mulberry, and John Stamos. The Mulberry sisters – based in Nebraska – also host a weekend talk show on NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha called the “Mulberry Lane Radio Show.” The station describes the ladies’ program saying the sisters “decided to bring their busy lives to live radio with a show based on sisterhood, womanhood, motherhood, and the humor and mishaps of trying to juggle it all – woven together with music, harmony and a dash of wit.” It airs Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
Longtime KNX, Los Angeles Anchor Harry Birrell Dies. Longtime Los Angeles news personality Harry Birrell died on May 26 after a battle with lung disease at age 85 in Thousand Oaks, California. Birrell was an anchor at all-news KNX, Los Angeles for more than three decades – beginning in 1968 when the station flipped to the all-news format and ending with his retirement in 1999. Birrell switched from his anchor role at the station to Ventura County correspondent in 1993.
Kevin Miller Stops By TheBlaze. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller was visiting Dallas – home of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze – and took some time to stop by the studios to check out the production of the Glenn Beck program. Here’s a shot of Beck (l) and Miller (r) inside the spacious former movie/TV studios that are home to Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts production facility.
Mike Huckabee Considers Radio Future in Arkansas Business Story. In a piece that ran in Arkansas Business yesterday, Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host – and former Arkansas governor and U.S. presidential candidate – Mike Huckabee speaks openly about his current media projects and how his political experience has helped his media career. Huckabee gives no clear indication he’ll stop doing the daily three-hour show, but neither does he sound all-in when he states, “Within the next month, I’ll decide if I want to continue it or not. I know we will, but it’s just such an incredibly intensive process that I really have to decide that I want to spend that kind of time…” Huckabee describes the long days preparing for the program and how he works that in with his Fox News Channel weekend program. “I’ve got to always weigh how much time I’m putting in it and what the return is. How long it will take to make it what I call hopefully disgustingly profitable. That’s what one always hopes for in a deal like this.” Read the entire story here.
Can Radio Overcome its Smothering Debt and Be a Viable Business in this New Era? That, according to Michael Harrison is THE existential question facing the industry today — and one that TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo tackle head-on in a blockbuster article posted May 2 in BOTH trade publications. Researched and written by TALKERS/RadioInfo west coast bureau chief/managing editor Mike Kinosian, this extensive piece taps deeply into the experience, wisdom and vision of a stellar panel of industry power-players who share their real world perspectives of this pressing issue that directly ties into the future of radio as both a medium and a business. They include (in alphabetical order): Sandi Bergman of MyMediaBroker, Ed Christian of Saga Communications, Erica Farber of the RAB, Charlie Gross of Newsweb Radio Corp., Michael Harrison of TALKERS/RadioInfo, Jerry Lee of WBEB (“B101″) in Philadelphia, Chuck Lontine of Headwaters MB, David Pearlman of American Radio Systems, Ed Perry of WATD in Marshfield, MA, Tom Quinn of Americom Broadcasting, Jeff Smulyan of Emmis Broadcasting, Peter Smyth of Greater Media and Dave Van Dyke of Radiate Media. Upon the publication of this information-packed article, TALKERS/RadioInfo VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “This is one of the most important pieces published in the radio trades in years and I advise anyone in this business who cares about its future to take the time to read it thoroughly. It dives right into the most pressing issue facing all of us today and provides insight from all angles – big-time groups, large and small market stations, investment banks, services providers, and advertising advocates. A piece like this gets to the very heart of what will determine radio’s future – its ability to function and options to consider as a viable business in a daunting, obstacle-ridden environment.” Read Mike Kinosian’s story here.
Mark Carbonaro Out at KION, Salinas, California; Armstrong & Getty In. According to a report in The Californian, local morning drive host Mark Carbonaro’s program has been replaced on KION, Salinas with the Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty show. Californian writer Jeff Mitchell reports that calls to local management were not returned prior to his deadline. Both KION and Armstrong & Getty’s home station KSTE are owned by Clear Channel.
WNSR, Nashville to Get FM Simulcast in June. Nashville Sports Radio’s WNSR, Nashville will simulcast on 95.9 in addition to its 560 signal early this summer. The station says it will position itself as “Nashville’s SportsRadio 560 on 95.9 FM.” The new FM signal will be located near the Davidson/Williamson County line, providing excellent 24-hour coverage of WNSR’s programming. General sales manager and afternoon host Thom Abraham states, “Before the Predators and Titans, WNSR brought sports programming to the airwaves in Nashville. This station has stayed true to the format for over 15 years and we are now excited to make it available on the FM band. The new logo puts the emphasis on WNSR, which has stood for Nashville’s Sports Radio since 1997, something we are very proud of, and something I have come to appreciate since coming here four years ago.”
Fox News Radio Offers Memorial Day Weekend Specials. The network is offering two hour-long special programs for air during the Memorial Day Weekend. “Remembering Iraq” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Griff Jenkins and reflects on the 10 years since the United States entered the Iraq War. Jenkins will take a look at the front lines and those who were affected by the war, including the men and women who served as well as their spouses and children. “The Next Disaster” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Janice Dean. It’s a multi-part series that examines disasters, including tornados, earthquakes and terrorist attacks and how to best prepare for them. Additionally, Dean will take a look at how weather forecasting and other technology have helped people prepare for natural disasters in the past and will also report on the impact of early warnings. More information about the specials can be found on the Fox News Radio affiliate website in the specials section.
Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa Gets FM Simulcast on 95.3. The signal is 250-watt translator W237CW that was most recently simulcasting the audio of Clear Channel’s hip hop WBTP “95.7 The Beat.” CC flips it over to sports talker WDAE. The AM 620 signal of WDAE covers the market just fine but now the station will have an FM presence that’s strongest in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Clearwater.
Benghazi Cover-up Allegations, Syria-Israel Tensions, Obama OSU Commencement, and North Korea Missile Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/6). New information regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the political ramifications; military tensions between Israel and Syria; President Obama’s commencement speech at Ohio State University over the weekend; and the North Korean missile threat were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
NAB Crystal Award Winners Named; Dave Ramsey Inducted into NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. At the NAB Show Radio Luncheon on Monday, nationally syndicated talk show host Dave Ramsey was inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Ramsey’s induction was part of the program that included the announcement of the winners of the 2013 NAB Crystal Awards. Spoken-word stations that claimed the honor included Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington and Bonneville International’s KIRO-FM, Salt Lake City. Here is the list of winners: KIRO-FM, Seattle; WKDZ-FM, Cadiz, Kentucky; KSFI-FM, Salt Lake City; WPEG-FM, Charlotte; KUZZ-FM, Bakersfield; WQHT-FM, New York; WCVQ-FM, Clarksville, Tennessee; WTOP-FM Washington; WHUR-FM, Washington; and WYCT-FM, Pensacola. Since 1987, the NAB Crystal Radio Awards have recognized radio stations for their outstanding year-round commitment to community service. The 2013 NAB Crystal Radio Award recipients listed above were chosen from among 50 finalists honored at yesterday’s NAB Show Radio Luncheon. The NAB Show Radio Luncheon also featured a presentation of the NAB Crystal Heritage Award to KNOM-AM/FM, Nome, Alaska. The Crystal Heritage Award honors those stations that have won a total of five Crystal Radio Awards. Entertainer, musician, author and broadcast personality John Tesh provided a keynote address. The luncheon was sponsored by ASCAP.
2013 NAB Show: “It doesn’t feel like 2009.” Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports from the NAB Show in Las Vegas: Cue tympani roll for the official attendance count: 92,414, up from 91,565 in 2012. Notable: Exhibit space is up 10% over last year, and exhibitors I’m speaking with say that stations are here shopping, not just window shopping. That tracks my conversations with station people here, who came with shopping lists. The vibe is upbeat generally, despite some cold water thrown on radio:
“Right now, whether FM is on the phone is a very small issue for our customers and it’s not going to be a priority until I hear that’s what consumers want.” That’s from Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam being interviewed by NAB President Gordon Smith indicating that his company isn’t ready to make the kind of deal Sprint has agreed to: FM receiver chips in wireless phones, in exchange for radio spot inventory. McAdam is unconvinced that his target prospects think radio when they think music: “It looks to me as if the trend is among younger folks customizing the station or getting the playlist they want [from streaming sources]. They will be the ones consuming this stuff and we have to be responsive to what they want.” They’re also consuming billable data time, which is, after all, what wireless carriers sell; whereas listening to over-the-air radio via a receiver chip would stop the clock. Recent blizzards and other incidents have demonstrated wireless networks’ limitations, and AM/FM radio’s value as first informer. Nowhere was that more obvious than in Hurricane Sandy’s path, and New Jersey Broadcasters Association president Paul Rotella is gung-ho for the Sprint deal. I asked him about some broadcasters’ concern that spot inventory Sprint would turn over to a rep firm could end up competing with member stations’ own sales efforts, and Rotella agreed that’s a key deal point.
Programming Changes at Entercom’s Sports KCSP, Kansas City. Entercom’s “610 Sports Radio” moves Danny Parkins and Carrington Harrison from middays to the PM drive slot for a new show called “The Drive with Danny Parkins” that features Harrison and former Kansas City Chief Jayice Pearson. At the same time, the station brings Henry Lake aboard to host the midday program alongside Jay Binkley for “The Dayshift with Lake and Bink.” Lake comes to the station from Clear Channel’s “KFAN” in Minneapolis where he’s been working since 1998. There he hosted “Sludge and Lake,” and more recently “The Lake Show.” He also hosted postgame call-in shows following Minnesota Vikings, and University of Minnesota football games. KCSP program director John Hanson states, “Minneapolis was sad to lose him and we’re glad to get him. He’s earned the respect of his listeners and colleagues alike. ‘610 Sports Radio’ is the most-listened-to sports station in Kansas City, and we know Henry’s experience, sports knowledge and energetic personality will help solidify that position.” Regarding the move of Parkins and company to afternoons Hanson states, “Listeners have been asking for this move. Danny and Carrington have built a great chemistry over the past year, so this move is a great one for us. And to add the player perspective and unique life experience Jayice provides, it will offer a great dynamic to the show.”
Odds & Sods. It’s been a busy week for WHO, Des Moines PM drive talk host Simon Conway. The London, England native was an in-demand guest this week commenting on the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He appeared on radio shows in Texas, Florida, Arkansas and others as well as with Premiere Networks’ “America Now with Andy Dean” – a program on which he regularly fills in. On Friday of this week, Conway will fill in on the AM drive show on Clear Channel’s WFLF, Orlando “News Talk WFLA.”…..As CNN continues to re-tool under the guidance of CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker, Deadline.com reports that in addition to bringing back the old “Crossfire” political debate program, the cable news/talk channel is planning to air a 10-week interview program this summer hosted by CBC personality George Stroumboulopoulis. The show would be taped in Los Angeles before a live audience…..Boston Sports Media Watch’s Bruce Allen is reporting that the Boston Red Sox Radio Network – based at Entercom’s WEEI – is losing studio host and fill-in announcer John Rish who resigned his position and will leave by April 24. Rish is a fill-in play-by-play voice when Dave O’Brien is away on his ESPN duties. Rish has been with the network since 2006 and in 2008, he was appointed as the third announcer in the booth to fill in for either O’Brien or Joe Castiglione…..This Saturday, April 13, WYD Media nationally syndicated talk host Stephanie Miller brings her Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour to Chicago for a stop at the historic Chicago Theatre! As usual, Miller is joined on the tour by comics and radio show cast members John Fugelsang and Hal Sparks.
WGOW-FM, Chattanooga’s Wally Witkowski Passes Away. The man known on the radio as “Wally Witkowski,” whose real name was Tom Bolden, died in Nashville at the age of 59 after a battle with cancer. Bolden, who co-hosted “The Village Idiots” with partner Jim Reynolds on WGOW-FM, Chattanooga for years, had suffered with a variety of illnesses over the years but was working as recently as several weeks ago. According to WRCB-TV, Chattanooga, Bolden was long active in local advertising sales and promotional businesses and became “Wally” in the early 1990s doing traffic reports for the radio station each morning. WRCB-TV reports that Bolden partnered with Reynolds some 20 years ago and the chemistry between the two was apparent from the beginning.
Talk Show Host is Huge Fan of the Comrex Access. Technology has changed every part of our lives and that is especially true for those in the arts, particularly broadcasting. What it used to take a truck to do, now takes less than a briefcase and cost 1/100th the original price. Radio today is changing; no longer is it just terrestrial, it’s the stream, it’s the podcast, Twitter, YouTube, it’s moving at the speed of sound. But, as one talk personality points out in a post today, many hosts are not. They are stuck in their studios doing the same type of radio that worked 20 or more years ago. According to Charles “Karel” Bouley, host of “The Karel Show” (KGO, San Francisco; GCN and CRN), hosts need to be out interacting with the community. They need to be at events, not just covering them. They need to be creating events, not just advertising them. They need to show up at unexpected places and do unexpected things. They need to be entertaining and relevant, and that means they need to get out of the studio. Karel states, “The Comrex Access unit makes that possible in ways never before imagined.” To read his entire article, click here.
New Affiliates for the Leslie Marshall Show. WYM Media Management’s Leslie Marshall show adds some new affiliates to the nationally syndicated talk show. Beginning April 22, KMA Broadcasting’s KMA-AM/FM, Shenandoah, Iowa starts carrying the program live 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Also, Saga Communications’ WHMP, Northampton and WHMQ, Greenfield – both in Massachusetts add the show to their schedules beginning April 15.
North Korea Missile Threat, Gun Legislation Proposals, Washington Budget Battle, Brad Paisley ‘Racist’ Song Flap, Obama White House Concert, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/9). The ongoing threats by North Korea to launch a long-range missile at the United States; the battle over new gun legislation; the Washington tug-of-war over the nation’s budget and the deficit; controversy over country singer Brad Paisley’s song “Accidental Racist”; the recent White House soul concert; and chatter about Hillary Clinton’s possible run for president in 2016 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cuttin’ the Cake with Corporate. Staffers from the Beasley Broadcast Group Las Vegas and the company’s corporate execs show off a tasty looking sheet cake bestowed upon them as the big bosses saw fit to throw a little soiree for the Las Vegas staff to recognize them for the good job they’ve been doing lately. Vice president of corporate communications Denyse Mesnik tells TALKERS, “We all agree that this is what makes Beasley so special!” Pictured here (from l-r) are: Bruce Beasley, news/talk KDWN program director John Shaffer, Mesnik, VP digital Kathleen Bricketto, Brian Beasley, rhythmic oldies KOAS and classic hits KVGS program director John Candelaria, VP digital production Kimberly Sonneborn, vice president and market manager Tom Humm, and country KCYE program director Justin Chase.
Ronn Owens Signs New Deal with KGO, San Francisco. The iconic Bay Area talk radio fixture begins his 38th year in the radio business after signing a two-year guaranteed deal with an option for a third year. Ronn Owens was reported by Bay Area media blogger Rich Lieberman to be on his way out at the Cumulus Media heritage talker back in the fall – a story TALKERS picked up on – but that did not happen and it appears Owens is likely to mark his 40th anniversary in the business at KGO in a couple of years. At a time when legendary personalities across the country are being ousted from their programs due to budget cuts and programming changes, it’s nice to see a figure of Owens’ magnitude sign up for a new tour of duty!
Boston Media Personalities Margery Eagan and Jim Braude Land at Pubcaster WGBH. Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan and Boston TV and radio personality Jim Braude will begin hosting a daily 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm talk program on public radio outlet WGBH, Boston beginning February 25, almost two months after they exited Greater Media’s WTKK, Boston due to a format change. Eagan and Braude hosted mornings at WTKK for much of the 13 years they were at WTKK. The Boston Herald reports the current midday hosts at WGBH – Callie Crossley and Emily Rooney – will be featured on the new program as well.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to Address AM Band at NAB Show in April. The National Association of Broadcasters announces FCC Commissioner Ajit V. Pai will lead a session on AM radio revitalization at the NAB Show in Las Vegas on Monday, April 8. The NAB states, “Broadcasters are exploring the challenges and opportunities related to revitalizing AM radio while continuing to provide the popular, local programming that millions of listeners rely on daily. This session, held within the Broadcast Management Conference, will address possible options for sustaining and enhancing AM radio as a unique entertainment medium. Commissioner Pai, who has expressed special interest in the future of AM radio, will moderate a panel of AM radio leaders, engineers and policy experts.”
Trevor Oliver Exits Premiere Networks. After 15 years with Premiere Networks, Trevor Oliver exits his SVP of operations position. Oliver tells TALKERS magazine he leaves the company on very good terms and that he’s looking forward to his next opportunity. Oliver, who joined Premiere in 1998, has an excellent reputation in the industry and TALKERS has no doubt he’ll put his numerous talents to use in the business somewhere very soon.
Talk Host Sam Malone to Return to Houston Airwaves (and Cablewaves!). Houston radio personality Sam Malone – most recently heard in the market on Dan Patrick-owned news/talk KSEV – will begin a new program on Phonoscope Cable and the show will be simulcast on a local talk radio station to be named later. The Houston Chronicle reports that Malone, who is serving as president of Phonoscope New Media, says the idea for a video and audio show grew out of his experience with Phonoscope. “This is where radio will be going in the future. We need to get the message to smartphones and iPads, not just car radios.” In addition to KSEV, Malone has also worked at music outlets KRBE and KHMX in Houston. He tells the Chronicle he’ll announce the radio station he’ll be on next week but says it’s a station he has not worked for in the past.
Former Congressman John Sweeney to Host Albany Talk Show. Four-term Republican Congressman John Sweeney begins a daily one-hour talk show on Capital Broadcasting’s WGDJ, Albany “Talk 1300.” Sweeney joined president and general manager Paul Vandenburgh on his morning program to announce he’ll begin the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon program on Monday, February 11. Sweeney says, “One of the things I miss about being in the public eye is my day-to-day interaction with the people.” Vandenburgh states, “John has consistently been a leader in the Capital District. Our goal from day one has been to provide a local product on a daily basis and John will be a marvelous addition.”
Dave Ramsey Knocks ‘em Dead in Knoxville. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey presented his “Building Your Legacy” event to a sold-out crowd in Knoxville recently. Ramsey talked about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence and worked with his daughter Rachel Cruze, who joined him on stage for the presentation. Ramsey teamed up with local affiliate WNOX-FM to promote this event. WNOX general manager Ed Brantley states, “Dave Ramsey’s ‘Building Your Legacy’ was a huge success not only for WNOX-FM and our sponsors but for the community. Dave’s up-close-and-personal approach captured the sold-out crowd.”
LA Talk Radio Celebrates 5th Anniversary. The Los Angeles-based internet talk radio station is celebrating its fifth year “on the air.” Founder Sam Hasson says, “LA Talk Radio has found its success in emerging radio talent in Los Angeles and the rest of the world. We now provide over 80 shows of quality programming, giving ambitious hosts a vocal platform where they can build their listening audience.” LA Talk Radio was born on February 4, 2008, as BBS Talk Radio launched in a “small but comfortable office” in a luxurious high-rise building in downtown Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before Hasson had three daily shows and six weekly shows and soon thereafter began broadcasting 24 hours a day.
KTRH and KPRC, Houston’s Matt Patrick Faces Off with Piers Morgan on Gun Issue. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment personality Matt Patrick (r) – whose programs air on KTRH, Houston in AM drive and on sister KPRC in afternoons – is pictured here at a live remote broadcast from Tactical Firearms in Houston. Patrick tells TALKERS magazine the remote was a “spirited and interactive show to a live audience of listeners.” Patrick’s program aired live before CNN personality and gun legislation advocate Piers Morgan (c) brought his television show to the same location later that evening to argue for the proposed ban on high volume semi-automatic weapons. “Piers Morgan Tonight” aired from Tactical Firearms after Morgan agreed to come and use the gun range and try to experience why Texans love their guns. Morgan agreed to appear on the final segment of Patrick’s program in front of a live audience.
KYKN, Salem, Oregon’s Bill Post Draws Crowd to Gun Rally. Willamette Broadcasting’s KYKN, Salem helped draw a crowd of some 3,000 to the Oregon State Capitol on January 19 for a rally dubbed, “Guns Across America.” A key speaker at the event was 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm talk host Bill Post (at the mic) who addressed the crowd about the gun legislation issue. The station reports that requests for autographs and photos with Post were overwhelming.
Deficit Reduction Debate; Obama Drone Killing Controversy; Gun Legislation Proposals; Chris Christie Weight Flap and Obama Care Costs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/6). The debate in Washington over reducing the deficit via tax and spending cuts; President Obama’s insistence on the right to use drones to kill U.S. citizens; the move to enact new gun control legislation; the media flap over Governor Chris Christie’s weight; and the looming costs of the Affordable Care Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Longtime KSFO and KGO, San Francisco Personality Lee Rodgers Dies. San Francisco talk radio host Lee Rodgers – who spent the last part of his career on the radio in the market co-hosting morning drive with Melanie Morgan on KSFO – died on Thursday while being operated on for a heart condition. Rodgers had been dealing with heart ailments for some time and Thursday’s surgery was, according to a blog post by his widow Susan, risky but something Rodgers was willing to undergo. Rodgers and Morgan were ousted from their KSFO morning show position in February of 2010.
Former Talk Host Ed Koch Dies at 88. Ed Koch was known to most as a former U.S. Representative and the former mayor of New York City but he was also a progressive talk radio host after his days in New York City Hall. He worked at WABC, New York in the middays in the mid-1990s. He was respected by conservatives and liberals alike and often referred to as the “sane liberal” by conservatives. In recent years, Koch also hosted a Friday evening program on Bloomberg Radio’s WBBR, New York.
Cumulus Names Ron Escarsega OM for KGO and KSFO, San Francisco. Moving up from Cumulus Media’s Los Angeles cluster where he served as assistant program director for news/talk KABC, Ron Escarsega takes the position of operations manager for news KGO and news/talk KSFO. Cumulus news/talk/sports corporate programmer Jim Mahanay states, “Ron has done a great job for us in Los Angeles. We’re excited at the skills he brings north to the Bay Area.” Escarsega says, “I’m excited for the new challenge to work with two iconic stations KGO and KSFO. I appreciate the confidence Cumulus has shown in me and look forward to the new challenge.” KGO and KSFO program director Paul Hosley exits the company.
Date Set for TALKERS New York City Conference. Save the date! The 16th annual TALKERS Conference is set for New York City on Thursday, June 6, 2013. Formerly called “The New Media Seminar” the event – now simply titled TALKERS New York 2013 – will again take place at the comfortable and modern Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side. It will be a power-packed full day of special addresses, panels, presentations, and social networking opportunities tackling the key issues facing talk radio and its relationship with the new talk media (internet, satellite, cable TV) as well as the general radio industry including music radio and the changing role of the disc jockey. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “This will be a TALKERS conference for the new era. Our presentation this year will be so fresh and vital to the survival and ‘thrival’ of the business that we actually are moving beyond the title ‘New Media Seminar.’ It is not to be missed.” Stand by for full registration, sponsorship and unfolding agenda details posted here before the end of the week. Registrations will not go on sale until next Monday, February 4 after which, due to limited space and seating, it is expected to be a rapid sellout. Registration will be limited to members of the working media only.
Geraldo Rivera Contemplating U.S. Senate Run in 2014. Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York-based midday talk personality Geraldo Rivera said on his radio program on Thursday that he’s considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. He told listeners, “I mention this only briefly – fasten – I am and have been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker in New Jersey.” The Christian Science Monitor examines Rivera’s chances here. Though New Jersey is a fairly blue state, whether this is Rivera musing out loud or he’s serious about this will become clearer over time. He wouldn’t be the first to turn a talk radio gig into a U.S. Senate seat. Al Franken did it in Minnesota.
Salem Radio Network Teams with USCCA for Second Amendment Protection Petition. The petition – which obtained its 60,000th signature during Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher show on Thursday (1/31) – is a combined effort of the United States Concealed Carry Association and Salem Radio Networks. The petition is intended to be delivered to Congress to request that the Second Amendment be honored as Washington works on gun legislation in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Cox Media’s WDBO, Orlando Produces Student-Led Gun Legislation Debate. The event took place yesterday evening on the University of Central Florida campus where pre-law students in the Moot Court program debated the issue before a live audience and live on WDBO. The debate was moderated by midday personality Mel Robbins. Station program director Drew Anderssen stated, “Student safety is at the core of the gun control debate in Washington. The politicians have spoken. Our talk hosts have spoken. But, we haven’t heard a long-form discussion on the issue from students. Thanks to the UCF Moot Court Team, we’re able to present our auditorium and radio audiences with a truly bi-partisan discussion on an issue that will shape our nation’s future from people who represent our nation’s future.”
Talk Host Tom Donahue Returns to Terrestrial Radio on KCAA, San Bernardino. Talk radio pro Tom Donahue – who’s been producing his own talk show in various digital formats recently – is taking to the airwaves of Southern California on Broadcasting Management Services’ KCAA, Loma Linda (San Bernardino market) for a weekly Friday program airing at 6:00 pm. Donahue’s program remains part of the internet Talk Superstation lineup. He says he plans to grow his station affiliate base and eventually expand beyond his new weekly endeavor.
Odds & Sods. KDWN, Las Vegas morning drive host Alan Stock sits in for Rusty Humphries on his Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated show this afternoon (2/1)…..WTOP, Washington, DC reporter Neil Augenstein came to the rescue of a Virginia man whose car had been pulled down the road and into a ditch by flood waters early Thursday morning. Augenstein came upon the van while driving in the early morning hours. He was able to confirm that man was okay and phoned authorities to send a rescue crew…..Premiere Networks “Coast to Coast AM” star George Noory is profiled in St. Louis Magazine. Noory splits his time between St. Louis and Los Angeles and in the piece speaks about his journey from news broadcasting to radio and how it influences the show today plus more…..SirusXM launches a new Martha Stewart program called, “Martha Live.” This program debuts February 19 and will be a daily, two-hour live program airing from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm ET and will feature segments including “Ask Martha,” with live call-ins; “Mostly Martha,” with high-profile guest interviews and discussions; segments hosted by Martha’s favorite experts; as well as curated segments from Martha’s vast archives of radio and television.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds WGSO, New Orleans; WLNI, Lynchburg, Virginia; and WGAW, Gardner, Massachusetts to its roster of affiliates…..WREC, Memphis adds the Dave Ramsey program to its lineup…..“Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford” picks up its 75th affiliate station with the addition of WTYS, Marianna, Florida. Lipford also produces a companion syndicated television program of the same name…..Chris Markowski’s “Money Minutes” feature is added to the Salem Tampa stations.
Immigration Reform Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of January 28. The Obama Administration’s proposal for immigration reform was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 28 – February 1. Coming in at #2 was the report of the shrinking GDP in the U.S. tied with the Obama Administration’s shutting down of the bi-partisan jobs council. At #3 was the Chuck Hagel confirmation hearing followed by Gabrielle Giffords’ gun legislation testimony at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research form TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s chart here.
Mark Simone Begins Late Morning Show on WOR, New York. Longtime WABC, New York personality Mark Simone is heading downtown to begin a new chapter in his career with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WOR. Simone tells TALKERS he’s excited to begin hosting the daily 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program. He says, “It’ll be a fast and fun daily look at what’s going on in the world, the city, entertainment, politics, tech, gossip, food, nightlife, my life, lives and whatever else they want to talk about. Lots of great guests and listener calls, too.” Simone says his 13 years at WABC were great. Management was always good to him and he’s finding it hard to leave his fellow co-workers but he’s encouraged to be re-joining general manager Steve Borneman who recently left WABC and is now with WOR. “He’s a great leader and the best GM we ever had on the 17th floor at WABC and everyone on the air there would tell you that they would follow him anywhere. He’s also hiring the best and smartest programming mastermind around. This is just the beginning. So, while I hate leaving the best co-workers in radio, it may not be long before many of them decide to join me here.” Simone’s program fills the slot on WOR previously held by Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher.
WPRO, Providence Makes AM Drive Change; Gene Valicenti to Anchor. Cumulus Media’s WPRO & 99.7 FM, Providence announces WJAR-TV co-anchor Gene Valicenti (pictured at left) is the new host of its “WPRO Morning News” program. The station says “Gene brings more than 20 years of Rhode Island news broadcasting experience to the ‘WPRO Morning News’ each and every weekday. With an intimate knowledge of Rhode Island and neighboring Massachusetts, the ‘WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti’ will help listeners get their weekday started with news, traffic, weather and the unique touch of Gene Valicenti.” For more than two years Valicenti has been hosting his eponymous Saturday morning show on WPRO. He says, “Rhode Island has been waking up to WPRO since the days of Salty Brine. It goes without saying that hosting the ‘WPRO Morning News’ is a real honor for me.” TALKERS columnist and respected industry consultant Holland Cooke, who happens to be a longtime resident of Rhode Island, comments that he believes this to be a very good move. “I’ve been a big Gene Valicenti fan for years, but who here in Rhode Island isn’t? His NBC10 newscasts have consistently led the ratings. Beyond those impressive news chops, Gene’s approach to talk radio demonstrates what I hear as a welcome new trend, an antidote to the format’s caricature. His Saturday radio show SMILES more than most other talkers I hear; and, though topical, he’s not obsessed with politics. Gene strikes me as ‘a next-gen Salty Brine.’” In related news, current morning news host Tara Granahan is promoted to assistant program director for the station.
TALKERS magazine’s Sports Radio Feature, Part 3. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian wraps up a special three-part sports talk radio feature with a look at the December 2012 PPM ratings for sports talk stations in those markets. Numbers freaks will enjoy checking out how some of the nation’s most prominent sports talk outlets performed during that period. Peruse that data here. Mike Kinosian’s three-part feature kicked off with a thorough look at the new CBS Sports Radio Network that debuted on Wednesday. If you missed that, read it here. The second part of this piece covered the new sports talk venture from NBC and Dial Global that premieres its weekend programming tomorrow prior to a full launch in April. You can read that piece here.
George Noory Celebrates 10 Years as Host of ‘Coast to Coast AM.’ It was 10 years ago this weekend that George Noory took over the permanent host gig at Premiere Networks’ super-successful overnight program “Coast to Coast AM” and he plans a special show Sunday evening to celebrate. The show will feature appearances by many fan-favorite guests, including paranormal investigator Joshua P. Warren and internationally known psychic Joseph Jacobs. Noory will also share memorable interviews and highlights from the past decade. Of the anniversary, Noory says, “It’s amazing how fast 10 years goes by and I’m looking forward to 10 more. We have grown the affiliate base from 445 stations when I came on to 564, and have increased our digital, multi-platform audiences tremendously. I want to thank my staff of dedicated producers and engineers, our affiliates, as well as the entire Premiere Networks team – they are the best in the business.” Premiere Networks EVP of news, talk and sports programming Carl Anderson states, “After 10 successful years, George continues to take ‘Coast to Coast AM’ to new heights. His ability to not only entertain and engage his loyal following of sleep-deprived listeners across multiple platforms, but also deliver positive results for stations and sponsors, is what makes him a stand-out star in the world of talk radio. We look forward to celebrating many more milestones together.”
Big NFL Weekend for Dial Global Sports. The first round of the NFL playoffs is here and Dial Global is providing radio broadcasts of the four Wild Card round games this weekend. Play-by-play of the NFL playoffs has been a successful venture for Dial Global (and Westwood One before that). Last year, the company commissioned a study by Edison Research to calculate listenership to the playoff games and the Super Bowl which, according to Edison, pulled in 23.1 million unique listeners to last year’s championship game, underscoring how many Americans aren’t able to be near a TV and turn to the radio to hear the big game.
SNL Kagan Reports Current TV-Al Jazeera Deal a Challenge for Middle East Operator. The pending $500 million sale of Al Gore-founded cable news/talk channel Current TV to Qatar-operated Al Jazeera is a bounty for Al Gore and Joel Hyatt but will likely be a big hurdle for Al Jazeera. SNL Kagan states, “We think Al Jazeera may have to drop the license fee to zero in order to gain widespread support for carrying the channel in the U.S., a move that would certainly imperil its economic model, which relies upon license fees for 80% of the network’s revenue. But maybe this is the only way for Al Jazeera America to gain a solid foothold in the U.S…In the U.S., the channel is available only in New York; Washington; Burlington, Vt.; Toledo, Ohio; and Bristol, R.I., versus 250 million households across the world in 120 countries.”
Entercom’s WEEI Expands Its Brand in the Granite State. New England’s Boston-based WEEI sports talk radio brand expands in New Hampshire adding its eighth affiliate – Great Eastern Radio’s WZEI, Meredith. WZEI is a class A FM covering the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. The station will carry the entire WEEI daily sports talk lineup, its weekend programming and Boston Celtics basketball. Great Eastern CEO Jeff Shapiro says, “We are very excited to bring coverage of everything New England sports to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire with 101.5 WZEI. Great Eastern Radio and WEEI have a great partnership that has been key to great sports programming in northern New England for the past few years, and we look forward to extending that for years to come!”
KGO, San Francisco Wins Regional News Awards. Cumulus Media’s KGO, San Francisco picks up two 2012 awards for broadcasting excellence from the NorCal Radio Television News Directors Association. The station won “Best News Broadcast” for the in-depth coverage of the Occupy protest and closure of the Port of Oakland anchored by Bret Burkhart and Chris Brecher; produced by Linnea Edmeier and Laura Podolak. The judges said it “grabs you right out of the box (with) passionate and engaged reporting (and) paints a good word picture of what was going on.” KGO reporter Scott Lettieri won “Best Light Feature Reporting” for his “Spotlight 810” piece on inmates performing Shakespeare in San Quentin. The judges said it was “interesting and meaningful,” with a “great mix of dramatic Shakespeare readings, music, (and) inmate reflections on what they’re gaining personally by taking part.” KGO program director Paul Hosley says, “We’re humbled by these awards. The 5:00 pm hour is highly popular with listeners and features contributions from the entire news team. We’re thrilled to have Scott Lettieri recognized for his remarkable work as well. Scott is a master story teller and it showed in this report about inmates performing Shakespeare behind bars.”
Bloomberg’s WBBR, New York Celebrates 20th Anniversary. Bloomberg’s WBBR, New York is celebrating its 20th anniversary as Bloomberg Radio – the 24-hour business and financial news outlet in the Big Apple. To mark the occasion, anchor Tom Keene and reporter Charlie Pellett will join staffers at the New York Stock Exchange to ring the closing bell.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Legislation Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of December 31 – January 4. Debate over and passage of the laws designed to avoid the “fiscal cliff” was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, putting it at #1 on the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was the Boehner House Speaker vote. At #3 was financial markets activity followed by Hurricane Sandy aid legislation at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Holland Cooke: Start Your Own Media Station. Noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke says getting laid off during this year’s pre-Christmas industry bloodbath, though painful and scary, might not be the worst thing that can happen to enterprising broadcasters. In a boldly worded opinion piece, the forward-thinking programming advisor connects numerous dots and cites fascinating examples painting a positive picture of just how much opportunity now exists in the digital world for radio people daring enough to go “stickless.” He points to a number of telling signs in the changes in our culture – such as Larry King’s new online show being listed in a larger font on the USA Today television listings page than his former home, CNN. Cooke writes, “Anyone who uses Twitter online can click-to-listen. Those who Tweet on smartphones or iPad simply touch-to-listen. Voila! You’re in-the-pocket, where AM/FM radio used to be.” Read his piece here.
Rumors of Format Change at WTKK, Boston Rampant. The Boston media is all over the rumors that Greater Media will flip the news/talk station to a different, music-based format in the near future. The local media picked up on domain name registrations such as 969BostonsBeat.com, 969TheBeat.com, and Power969.com. The Boston Herald speculates the change is coming because “’toxic’ all-talk formats aren’t attracting enough younger listeners.” Greater Media spokesperson Heidi Raphael states, “We deal in a business of attitudes and being responsive to the preferences of our audiences and the needs of our advertisers and communities. We are continually exploring our options, looking for ways to improve our product and brands. No decisions have been made on any changes to the format.” Radio operators register domain names that go unused frequently so the actions by Greater Media don’t necessarily mean a change is coming but it certainly means the company is considering it.
Dave Ramsey Changes Affiliates in Home Town of Nashville; Jumps from WWTN to Sports WPRT. The nationally syndicated Dave Ramsey show will move to Cromwell Radio Group’s sports talk WPRT “102.5 FM The Game” beginning January 1. Ramsey’s program has aired on Cumulus Media’s WWTN, Nashville since the program debuted in the early 1990s. Ramsey states, “After 20 years on WWTN it is very difficult to leave. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come to terms with Cumulus on a simple renewal agreement. There are a lot of great people at WWTN and we’ll miss them. But we’re excited to have the opportunity to work with an independent radio station owner the caliber of Bud Walters.” It appears as though the move is being precipitated by Cumulus’ desire to give its own talk programs more exposure – in this case, giving Mike Huckabee a full three hours on WWTN. The new schedule at WWTN puts Huckabee on live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and allows Phil Valentine a 3:00 pm start to his PM drive show. At the same time, Cumulus announces its newly acquired Michael Savage will air live from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. Cumulus Nashville market manager Mike Carpenter states, “We believe in the Mike Huckabee show and anticipate that this change will accelerate the governor’s popularity in Nashville. Mike is a man of such character that we feel our clients will appreciate the opportunity to make him a key part of their marketing plans. His on-air interest in music expands our talk repertoire and will play extremely well in a city where the music industry is the number three employer. As for Savage, we assure you that a large number of our listeners will be happy to learn that their pleas have been heard and that Michael Savage is back on in Nashville.”
FCC Approves Transfer of WFAN-FM, New York to CBS Radio. The $75 million deal that sends Merlin Media’s former WRXP, New York to CBS Radio as WFAN-FM, New York is approved by the Federal Communications Commission. The station changed its call letters to WFAN-FM and CBS began operating it under an LMA on November 1 simulcasting sports talk WFAN-AM on the signal.
More on Changes at XEPRS, San Diego. Yesterday, TALKERS reported sports talk XEPRS, San Diego “XX1090” let morning hosts Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth go. But now we’ve learned more as midday hosts Josh Rosenberg and Charod Williams have also been let go. Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton is now on mornings and the San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that former morning hosts Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith will return to the station in AM drive soon and Darren Smith will move to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Kaplan and B.R. (Smith), who were fired after Kaplan made disparaging comments about a female sportscaster, have been hosting the San Diego Union-Tribune’s online TV morning show and, according to the report, would continue in that role.
Dave Wheaton Exits WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne. As tipped by Indiana Radio Watch’s Blaine Thompson, news director Dave Wheaton leaves his position at Federated Media’s WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne to take the assignment editor post at Granite Broadcasting’s WPTA-TV, Fort Wayne (channel 21) and WISE-TV, Fort Wayne (channel 33).
Envision Radio Network Names Paul Harris “America Weekend” Host. Talk radio pro Paul Harris is named the host of the new “America Weekend” program from Envision Radio Networks. Executive producer Kipper KcGee says, “I’m thrilled to be working with Paul again. We will be announcing the remainder of the ‘America Weekend’ lineup in coming weeks, and look forward to demonstrating that news/talk radio can enjoy weekend ratings and revenues!” McGee worked with Harris in St. Louis and at WLS, Chicago. Harris states, “I’m excited about launching ‘America Weekend’ to give both affiliates and listeners something more compelling, with great stories, interesting interviews, and my own perspective on what’s happening.”
Clear Channel Donates WDTW, Detroit to the Minority Media and Communications Council. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is donating progressive talk outlet WDTW, Detroit – a 5,000-watt Class B signal – to the MMTC under the Clear Channel-MMTC Ownership Diversity Initiative. Clear Channel CEO and chairman John Hogan states, “We applaud MMTC for creating a program that helps minority broadcasters develop the skills and experience necessary to become successful broadcasters. We’re pleased that the donation of these resources will give the opportunity for enthusiastic new entrepreneurs to own and operate their own radio station.”
Main Street Radio Network Launches New Weekly Program. “The RichLife Show” with host Beau Henderson is a weekly one-hour program that, according to syndicator Main Street Radio Network, is “a fast-paced hour with a BIG mission to help listeners live healthy, wealthy, fulfilled lives on purpose by combining a highly engaging mix of education, entertainment, inspiration, and motivation. The format of the show is financial Q&A, discussion around listeners’ biggest questions and concerns, and relevant expert interviews.” Henderson is a senior financial advisor, Master Certified Success Coach, and Certified Master Behavioral Analyst and author of the book, The RichLife – Ten Investments For True Wealth. Main Street president Jane Silk says, “We know ‘The RichLife Show’ will be a great addition to our current shows and our rapidly growing radio network. Beau Henderson is a caring, honest person who truly has the listener’s best interest in mind. Beau will cover a variety of topics such as all aspects of living rich: money, health, meaningful relationships, and living a fulfilled life of purpose. Beau and RichLife advisors have built an online community through a weekly newsletter and social media that now exceeds 35,000 committed to living their definition of a RichLife.”
KGO, San Francisco Partners with Good News in Oakland for News Feature. Cumulus Media San Francisco news/talker KGO announces a partnership with internet media outlet Good News in Oakland to create a feature that “will highlight a person or organization in Oakland that has made a difference in creating a positive image for the East Bay’s largest city.” Good News in Oakland is described as an “internet-based renewable psychological socially responsible environmentally focused media outlet.” Stories will be produced by KGO reporter Tihanna McCleese and Good News in Oakland founder Sean Kennedy. KGO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to enter into this partnership with Good News in Oakland. This collaboration will give KGO listeners an opportunity to hear about the positive side of the city…stories that have not been told before.” Features will air at 6:46 am, 1:46 pm, and 5:46 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.
WNYM, New York Begins Picture Caption Contest for Lunch with Sliwa & Lichtman. Salem Communications-owned WNYM, New York’s PM drive team of Curtis Sliwa and Jeffrey Lichtman are enjoying their new street-level studio with the giant display window at the Hotel Pennsylvania on 7th Avenue. The station and hotel management say they are getting such a buzz from New Yorkers about the setup that they’re beginning a photo caption contest to capitalize on the publicity. WNYM is asking fans to take a picture of Sliwa and Lichtman broadcasting, give it a caption and post it via Twitter or Instagram or send it to the station via email. First prize is lunch with Sliwa and Lichtman. Other prizes include Broadway show tix, restaurant deals and more. WNYM general manager Sean O’Neill states, “The iconic Hotel Pennsylvania with Curtis Sliwa and Jeffrey Lichtman broadcasting live in the hub of midtown Manhattan is an extraordinary opportunity to personalize the radio experience in the digital age. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers walk through this block daily and now have the opportunity to connect face to face with their favorite radio personalities.”
Quentin Tarantino Entertains Live Audience at SiriusXM. As part of the “Town Hall Series” on SiriusXM, noted filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (l) was interviewed by Village Voice film critic Scott Foundas (r) before an intimate, live studio audience. Tarantino, who also took questions from the crowd, discussed his new film “Django Unchained” and told stories about his career as a film director. Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur / WireImage for SiriusXM.
ESPN Radio Broadcasts 24 College Bowl Games. The college football bowl season will bring plenty of play-by-play to ESPN Radio affiliates as the sports media giant announces plans to broadcast 24 bowl games. Beginning with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on December 15 and wrapping up with the National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama in Miami on January 7, ESPN Radio’s coverage will span 16 days. David Norrie and Bill Rosinski will call five of the games beginning with the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on December 20. Additionally, both the “Mike & Mike in the Morning” and “SVP & Russillo” programs will originate from South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, January 7 and 8.
Lotus Communications’ ‘SuperGol’ Soccer Show Scores Affiliates. The Spanish-language soccer show “SuperGol” recently snagged its 25th affiliate for the one-hour program targeted to younger Hispanic men. The show airs live from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm PT and is hosted by Halim Zadat and Erika Garza. The show is produced by Lotus’ KWKW, Los Angeles and station president James Kalmenson says, “The young US-born Latino is a growing segment of the sports audience that’s responding extremely well to the program. Latinos of all generations are avid soccer fans, making the soccer-themed talk show an ideal platform for younger audiences while maintaining the traditional sports target of men 25-54.”
Gow Broadcasting Acquires Sports Flash Radio Network. The service that specializes in sports updates is acquired by Gow Communications, the company that is operating Yahoo! Sports Radio. Gow announces at the same time that its affiliate base has grown to more than 360 stations. David Gow states, “We are really pleased with the ongoing expansion of our affiliate base. The acquisition of the Sports Flash Radio Network extends our reach to both sports-format and non-sports-format stations. And the additions of new shows we have introduced over the past year have enabled us to achieve industry-leading growth.”
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Looming ObamaCare Costs, Michigan Right-to-Work Bill Controversy, Hillary in 2016, and Aussie DJ Prank Fallout Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/10). The GOP versus Obama fight in Washington over avoiding the “fiscal cliff”; the costs associated with ObamaCare that will begin to take effect in 2013; the battle in Michigan over the union-busting right-to-work bill; the proposition Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016; and the fallout after the Australian DJ prank call to Kate Middleton’s hospital in London were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Ronn Owens Disputes Reports of His Demise at KGO. Addressing yesterday morning’s lead story on the TALKERS magazine morning headlines, attributed to San Francisco media blogger Rich Lieberman, KGO talk show host Ronn Owens tells TALKERS there is no truth to the report that his contract will be bought out before it ends on December 31 and that the station will replace him with a newsy program. Owens also tells TALKERS he has no knowledge of Cumulus Media’s plans beyond his contract but says, “Cumulus has been totally nice to me.” Owens says Lieberman “has been attacking me for over a year for the changes that have taken place at KGO,” referring to the dismissal of other talk show hosts and staffers that took place after Cumulus assumed control of the station. Owens says Lieberman’s blog story is “totally made up.” He says, in fact, his agent is not Don Buchwald but is David Katz. He also says he does not make a seven-figure salary and never said that his ego is too big to be paid $300,000, as Lieberman reported. Regarding his future at KGO, Owens tells TALKERS, “San Francisco is the crown jewel of places to live and whatever happens after December 31 happens.”
CBS Radio’s Atlanta Sports FM Will Be “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game.” Set to debut in mid-October, CBS Radio’s new FM sports talk outlet – the soon-to-be-former Triple A WZGC, Atlanta will take the handle “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game.” Media chatter around Atlanta is that the station may reveal its lineup as early as next week in order to give the sales staff something concrete to pitch to clients prior to the launch. Earlier media reports alluded to the possibility that “Two Live Stews” Doug and Ryan Stewart – recently dropped from crosstown WQXI “790 The Zone” – might pop up on the station but TALKERS sources indicate that will not be the case. The programming philosophy we’re hearing about for this station is being termed as “fresh.” Stay tuned!
Nation’s Biggest Talk Hosts Sign On to Petition Against TV Networks for Biased Election Coverage. The missive detailing a complaint against ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN for “rigging this election and taking sides in order to pre-determine the outcome,” is penned by the conservative Media Research Center’s L. Brent Bozell III but it is signed by some of the country’s top nationally syndicated talk show hosts. Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh, TRN’s Laura Ingraham and Cumulus Media Networks’ Mark Levin signed the open letter. In it, Bozell writes, in part: “A free and balanced media are crucial to the health of this country. It is your duty as journalists – as outlined in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics – to ‘distinguish between advocacy and news reporting,’ while simultaneously ‘seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.’ There is a reason why the media are viewed with such disdain by the American public, as evidenced by every recent poll on the issue.”
Armstrong & Getty Reportedly Suspended for Call to Criticize Islam. The suspension has not been confirmed by Clear Channel Sacramento management but the duo of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty were off their KSTE, Sacramento flagship station as well as KKSF, San Francisco (where the show is simulcast) on Tuesday morning after the show sent out a press release promoting its call to listeners to post videos and photos critical of Islam and the prophet Muhammad to “flood the world with cartoons, movies and songs saying bad things about Muhammad until they finally grow up. In other words, free speech,” stated Jack Armstrong. The political blog The Right Perspective is reporting the duo have been suspended though it doesn’t state a period or confirmation of the sanction. KTXL-TV, Sacramento produced a piece on the controversy and also was unable to get a comment on record from Clear Channel’s Sacramento management.
Radio’s Strengths in the Media Landscape. Radio consultant Holland Cooke says the best session he attended at the recent 2012 Radio Show in Dallas was by Arbitron senior VP/marketing Bill Rose and highlighted how “Radio provides opportunities to reach consumers when advertising is relevant to what they are doing.” Cooke says, “This document [the study cited] is a powerful selling tool, and real instructive to programmers and on-air talent…especially on-air talent that sells (and smart on-air talent does).” The data Rose used in his presentation was from USA Touchpoints, a national sample that captures media usage, shopping behavior, emotional mindset, via smartphone app, every half hour, from 10-day panelists. Read Holland Cooke’s report and analysis here.
WWNC, Asheville AM Drive Co-Host Jerri Jameson Moves On. Morning drive co-host Jerri Jameson announces she will exit the Clear Channel station October 12 to pursue other interests. Jameson writes on her station blog, “After more than 10 years with Clear Channel Asheville, it is time for me to move on from radio. It was a difficult decision. I have gotten to know some truly wonderful people in our great community and for that I will always be grateful. Waking up each morning to share the daily goings on around town, the state and the world with you has truly been an honor I will treasure forever.”
The Young Guns of Talk Radio. Ask anyone, especially those working for the consumer media, and they’ll tell you that personalities working as hosts on news/talk stations are all old, white men. Radio’s general lack of a “farm system” doesn’t help that misconception much, but the truth is there are young people – some men and some women – working in news/talk radio today. Tomorrow at Talkers.com, executive editor Kevin Casey writes about some of those broadcasters and their thoughts on being young and on the air in the news/talk business.
Willie Geist to Join NBC’s “Today.” According to Brian Stelter’s Media Decoder in The New York Times, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” cast member Willie Geist will become co-host of the 9:00 am hour of NBC’s “Today” program. The deal has not been officially announced and Stelter reports Geist will still appear on “Morning Joe,” probably during the 6:00 am hour but will give up the “Way Too Early” 5:30 am newscast he’s been anchoring. It’s also believed Geist will fill in for Matt Lauer when he is absent.
Rumors of Big Names Being Sought to Run CNN. Sony chairman Howard Stringer is one of the executives rumored to be on the list of those being sought to take charge of struggling CNN when current chief Jim Walton leaves at the end of the year. The New York Post reports a source inside CNN states, “We should know something in a month, perhaps before the elections. Unlike CNN International, we just don’t have someone with a mission. We need our Roger Ailes.” Other media execs reportedly being considered are former NBCUniversal president and CEO Jeff Zucker, former ABC News president David Westin, and former NBC News chief Neal Shapiro.
Odds & Sods. CBS Radio’s all-news KNX, Los Angeles takes its “KNX on Your Corner” live remote series to Glendale, California on October 19. The day of programming will include features about Glendale’s history, current issues and plans for future growth. Coverage will include live interviews with city officials and other special guests. The station will continue the series in Beverly Hills on December 7…..SiriusXM will present live coverage of the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament. The biennial event pits the US against Europe and is being played this year at Medinah Country Club in Illinois.
Part of the Skyline. CBS Radio’s all-news KYW, Philadelphia is now a part of the city’s skyline after the station put up a new, lit call letter sign atop its offices at 400 Market Street in downtown Philly. The KYW logo and the iconic CBS “eye,” were hung over this past weekend and faces east, making it visible from Camden, New Jersey, I-95 and the Ben Franklin Bridge. The station notes this was not a simple building procedure. “The difficult process of hanging an illuminated sign above street level, particularly in the downtown area, took five years before receiving city zoning and art commission approval. KYW is now the only radio station in Philadelphia County to be granted this right.”
Obama on ‘The View’ and at the UN, Iran’s Bluster, Criticism of Religious Figures, Libya Aftermath, and NFL Replacement Officials Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/25). President Obama’s Appearance on ‘The View’ and his speech at the United Nations; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s blustery speech at the UN and his appearance on Piers Morgan; criticism of religious figures; analysis of the aftermath of the Libya attack and furor over the NFL’s replacement officials were some of the most-talked-about-stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Bomb Scare Empties CBS Radio Los Angeles for More Than Two Hours. The Wilshire Boulevard studios of CBS Radio’s Los Angeles stations, including all-news KNX and news/talk KFWB were evacuated from about 8:15 am to 10:45 am PT this morning after a promotional clock sent to the station raised suspicions, sent the staff into precautionary mode that brought police and medical personnel to the scene. According to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan KNX and K-Earth simulcast sister all-news station in San Francisco, KCBS/740 AM. The other stations switched to alternative programming from servers. Shortly before the all-clear was given, KNX returned to the air full-time from emergency studios on the Paramount Studios lot.
WLS, Chicago’s Don Wade to Undergo Brain Surgery. The morning duo of Don Wade and his wife Roma have been off the air at Cumulus Media’s WLS, Chicago for the past week and now Chicagoans know why. The 71-year-old WLS AM drive host suffered a seizure on September 13 while in New York for his daughter’s wedding. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports Wade will have the surgery to remove a growth from his brain during an operation scheduled for this Thursday and the duo will remain off the air for the next four to six weeks. In the meantime, late-morning hosts Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft will sub on the morning show and Jake Hartford and John Kaas will host the 9:00 am to 11:00 am program.
Northern California Hosts Armstrong & Getty Dive into Islam Controversy. KSTE, Sacramento-based morning drive hosts Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are putting out a call for not less but more criticism of Islam and the prophet Muhammad on the internet — in a move that runs contrary to the wishes of the Obama Administration. Jack Armstrong, responding to the riots and violence in the Muslim world in response to the short film titled, “Innocence of Muslims,” said on the program, “The only response to this is to flood YouTube and flood the world with cartoons, movies and songs saying bad things about Muhammad until they finally grow up. In other words, free speech.” He questions why the U.S. government is spending money airing ads with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton denouncing the video. “I’m horribly disappointed that there are not thousands of Muhammad mocking videos out there on YouTube right now.”
Journal Broadcast Group Promotes Jeff Falconio to Full Time on WTMJ, Milwaukee. Jeff Falconio has been hosting the “Wisconsin Sports Weekend” show on Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee. Now, he’s upped to a full-time position with the station taking over for Trenni Kusnierek (who left for a TV gig at Comcast SportsNet Boston) beginning October 1. Falconio will handle sports anchor duties on the PM drive show on WTMJ and co-host the evening “Sports Central” program with Greg Matzek. In a statement, program director Joe Scialfa says, “We are excited to have Jeff join the sports department in a full-time capacity. Jeff has been a regular fixture covering Wisconsin sports for 15 years. His passion for sports and knowledge of our Wisconsin teams make him the perfect person to continue the strong WTMJ sports tradition.”
More Staff Layoffs at Merlin Media’s Chicago Offices. According to a report in Chicagoland Radio and Media, Merlin Media let go of most of the rest of its off-air staff that had been working at WIQI “FM News 101.1” prior to its return to a music format in July. The site reports writers, reporters and producers Brad Robinson, Safa Eshmawy, Sarah Engel, James Edwards, Michael Cronin, Megan Buckley, Shannon Beverly and Shannon Ward were all released from their positions on Friday, September 21.
WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Announces Weekend Program for Belinda Skelton. The nationally syndicated Neal Boortz program – emanating from Cox Media’s news/talk giant WSB-AM/FM – is produced by Belinda Skelton (who calls it the “perfect job”). Now Skelton will put her interest (and degree) in interior design and more into play as she hosts “Belinda Skelton’s Atlanta Lifestyles” beginning in January. Cox Media Atlanta market manager Ben Reed defines the show: “Think of Pinterest, Martha Stewart or the Oprah brand where lifestyle can be defined by everything from food, wine and design to family, entertainment, and local events.” On the new show, Skelton says, “I can’t think of something more perfect for me than this show. This speaks to my core being and everything that excites me!” Although Neal Boortz is retiring from full-time radio work in the new year, Skelton will remain his executive producer managing his daily commentary, appearances, and guest hosting duties.
Odds & Sods. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive talk host Simon Conway fills in this Wednesday through Friday for Premiere Networks’ “America Now with Andy Dean.”…..Talk radio pioneer Bruce Williams, who has been hosting a pre-produced program on the internet via his Made in America Broadcast Network, announces he’ll begin hosting live shows from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET starting tomorrow (9/26) and running for “a couple of weeks.”
NBC Radio’s “Miss Monitor” Dies at 89. Dorothy Ruth “Tedi” Thurman passed away in Palm Springs, California at age 89 on Saturday, September 22. Thurman was a model who came to fame as the sultry “Miss Monitor” on the old NBC Radio Network. She held that position doing the weather from 1957 to 1961. She also was featured as the weather girl on “The Tonight Show” with Jack Paar beginning in 1957.
CNN Stevens Diary Controversy, Obama ‘View’ Appearance, Ahmadinejad Speaks at UN, and Presidential Polls Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/24). The controversy over CNN’s reporting from the journal of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens after telling his family it would wait for permission; President Obama’s planned appearance on ‘The View’; Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the United Nations; and the latest in presidential contest polls were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Tom Owens Out at Clear Channel. With the constant comings and goings of radio people these days – even executives – it’s tough to call anything a “shocker,” but Tom Owens has been part of the Clear Channel organization since its merger with the old Jacor back in 1998. Owens began with Jacor as programmer at rocker WEBN, Cincinnati and moved up to the top of the corporate programming ladder there before the merger. He was the head of Clear Channel programming until last fall when Tom Poleman was named president of national programming platforms and Owens was given the EVP of programming research and strategy title. During his time there, Owens was no stranger to the pink slip process – of course, participating in it from the position of handing them out. Now, as CC consolidates its programming research and ratings research groups into the national programming platforms division under Poleman, Owens leaves the company. The official word from Clear Channel is that Owens will still contribute to its strategic programming on a “consultant basis.” Sometimes in modern-day corporate jargon, that’s a nice way of saying, sayonara.
Emmis Picks Up Two Stations in Terre Haute. The purchase of sports talk combo WSDM-FM at 92.7 and WSDX-AM at 1130 (both licensed to Brazil, Indiana) from Crossroads Investments must be approved by the FCC but Emmis will be operating the duo under an LMA beginning September 1. Emmis Terre Haute general manager James Connor says in a statement, “We are excited to add the ESPN brand to the Emmis Terre Haute cluster of stations which includes WWVR-FM classic rock 105.5 The River and HI-99 WTHI-FM the Wabash Valley’s Country Station. We will continue to serve the listeners of Terre Haute, Brazil and the surrounding communities with quality programming and our continued commitment to community service.” In addition to ESPN programming, the combo airs local sports talk host Vaso Michels’ 5:00 am to 7:00 am program.
Talk Host Martha Zoller Loses Bid for Congress in Runoff Election. Gainesville, Georgia-based talk host Martha Zoller – who left her talk radio career to run for the new 9th Congressional District seat in Georgia – lost the Republican primary runoff to Georgia State Representative Doug Collins. In a message to supporters, Zoller stated, “I do not know what the future holds for me but I do know that there’s still work to be done. Don’t stop fighting for what you believe … don’t give up hope in the future of this great nation … and don’t for a second believe that your efforts over the last year were in vain.” Whether or not Zoller makes a talk host comeback is uncertain but she has hinted to the Georgia media that she is not done with her political aspirations.
Super Agent Eric Weiss Played Significant Role in Heidi & Frank/KLOS Marriage. One of the most prominent behind-the-scenes movers and shakers in the radio talent rep business, Eric Weiss of the LA-based Weiss Agency, first had the idea that Heidi and Frank would make a good fit in mornings at KLOS as far back as one year ago. According to Southern California radio historian Don Barrett of LARadio.com, Weiss had the idea that the duo would be perfect for mornings at the heritage LA album rocker when rumors began to surface that Mark & Brian might be heading into their final contract year before he even represented them stating, “I pursued the idea – spoke with both sides about it, and was able to help bring it to fruition.” There’s a huge lesson and insight in this for those who wonder how big time media talent agents operate. It is not just a matter of “get me a job.” Top agents smell potential connections and often put themselves in the mix as catalysts to a marriage before the main parties involved even think of it themselves. At RadioInfo and TALKERS, we are often asked by zealous-but-unproven talent yet to earn a track record if we can “recommend a good agent.” Our answer: “Any agent who would sign you as a client at this point in your career wouldn’t be a ‘good’ one.”
Karel Program to Air on CRN Digital Talk Radio. San Francisco-based talk host Charles Karel Bouley’s “The Karel Show” begins daily distribution via CRN Digital Talk Radio. The famously liberal and openly gay talk host began his talk career in 1998 on KFI, Los Angeles with his late partner Andrew Howard. Since then he’s also worked at KGO, San Francisco. CRN president and CEO Mike Horn states, “Karel raises questions, brings humor and creates compelling conversation with listeners and guests alike and we’re especially pleased to bring his outstanding show to CRN.” Karel has a national profile through his radio career, his books, blogs, syndicated columns (Huffington Post) and television appearances as both commentator and actor. He says, “CRN continues to blaze a trail in delivering content to listeners across America. I’m so glad they are taking the show. From the beginning, Mike Horn has been an advocate and I knew we’d get to this day.” The program airs live on CRN 2 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET.
SiriusXM Board of Directors Sued by Shareholders; Suit Has No Merit Says TALKERS Legal Editor. The City of Miami Police Relief and Pension Fund, a SiriusXM shareholder, is contending that the SiriusXM board of directors has failed to prevent John Malone-led Liberty Media from assuming control over the satcaster. The suit, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, contends Malone and other Liberty-appointed members of the board are preventing other board members from “adopting anti-takeover provisions even if doing so would be in the best interests” of shareholders. Late yesterday, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine ruled he would not stop Liberty from acquiring more shares as the plaintiffs had requested. He further stated he would hear expedited motions within the next month to decide if the investors’ case should go forward. But TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says what Liberty is doing is within its legal rights. In fact, Weisman says SiriusXM could be in breach of contract if it attempted to stop Liberty’s actions. Read Weisman’s exclusive analysis here.
Fox NFL Analyst Mike Pereira to Appear on KNBR, San Francisco This Season. NFL fans know former NFL VP of officiating Mike Pereira as the guy the Fox play-by-play team cuts away to when there’s a questionable call on the field that needs illumination. Now, Pereira will be part of the KNBR morning show with Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger for “The Rule Book” show Monday mornings at 9:30 during the NFL season. Program director Lee Hammer states, “We’re excited to have Mike join the KNBR family. In every NFL game, we see calls that leave fans in total disbelief. As the former head of officiating for the NFL, Mike will not only explain the rule, but try to explain why the official made the call. Mike no longer works for the league, so he’ll be critical when necessary and have the freedom to say when the officials clearly missed the call.” With the possibility of the league’s officials sitting out due to a contract dispute with the league and replacement officials working games, this could be a huge programming coup on Monday mornings for KNBR!
Mancow Chicago Video Simulcast a Done Deal. The “Mancow Experience” will be seen by Chicagoans on WPWR-TV – channel 50 in Chicago – from 6:00 am to 8:00 am beginning this fall . The Chicago Tribune reports what was teased earlier this summer is being confirmed by station management. The other aspect of this news for Erich “Mancow” Muller is that his show will have a new physical home base as production of the TRN nationally syndicated radio program will move to WPWR’s North Michigan Avenue studios. WPWR VP and general manager Mike Renda says, “This fall, Chicagoans will get a backstage pass into one of the most provocative radio programs in this market. Viewers will have unlimited access into Mancow’s madness, with a live, unedited simulcast that will bring this dynamic voice to life.” Mancow’s show is heard in the market on suburban WJJG.
New York’s WFAN Scores Eli Manning Appearances. New York Football Giants flagship WFAN, New York signs Giants QB Eli Manning to a multi-year deal to have Manning join PM drive host Mike Francesa at 5:05 the day after every Giants game during the season and the post-season. Vice president of programming for CBS Radio New York and WFAN operations manager Mark Chernoff says, “As the team’s flagship radio station, we’re proud to be the leading source of Giants news for football fans across the tri-state area. Having Eli every week is guaranteed to give listeners the best commentary, insight and discussion with a perspective only he can offer on the New York Giants. This will be appointment radio at its best.”
Salem Radio Network Gears Up for Convention Coverage. Dallas-based Salem Radio Network is prepping to cover the Republican National Convention in Tampa beginning on Monday. SRN vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup reports a full battery of SRN news staffers — including White House correspondent Greg Clugston and SRN U.S. Senate correspondent Linda Kenyon — will join SRN talk hosts Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and others at the network’s broadcast headquarters in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tradup tells TALKERS magazine, “We’ll either present superb Republican Convention coverage or the most over-staffed hurricane coverage in the history of 21st century radio…or both!” Tradup states the organization will also cover the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte the following week, and will include what it calls a “truth squad” led by former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett who hosts SRN’s “Morning in America” program.
NRG Media’s “The Zone” Omaha Sports Outlet Launches “Fully Interactive” Post-Game Show. Sports talk KOZN, Omaha announces the debut of the “Big Red Over-Reaction” post-game show that will immediately follow Nebraska Cornhuskers football games this season. The station is touting the program as “fully interactive” saying it “will immediately feature fan reaction via on-air and digital and social media, providing instant vent-and-release by Cornhusker fans nationwide via over-the-air call-in, Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, Huskermax.com and e-mails.” The show will feature The Zone’s legendary former Husker National Champion Blackshirt Jason Peter. Peter will be joined by “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” co-hosts John Bishop and Mike’l Severe and Jason’s morning show co-host Gary Sharp of “Sharp & Peter in the Morning.” NRG Media Omaha general manger Andy Ruback says, “We have the talent and the capability to deliver a program that the market has never seen before. Our personalities have a combined total of nearly 100 years of experience with Nebraska football and we believe that fans will appreciate our unique approach to post-game programming that they have never had before.”
Yahoo! Sports Radio Names Doug Russell and Mark Carman PM Drive Hosts. The slot opened up when Yahoo! host Travis Rodgers was moved to the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET slot on the network. Doug Russell moves up from the network’s evening program and Mark Carman has worked at Houston Texans flagship KILT, Houston as well as WGN, Chicago.
Organization Files Petitions with FCC to Deny Renewal of Fox-Owned TV Stations. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is asking the FCC to deny renewal of the broadcast licenses of three Fox TV stations – two in Washington, DC and one in Baltimore – because of News Corp.’s involvement in hacking scandals in England, according to The Hill. TV licenses, like radio broadcast licenses, come up for renewal every eight years and the three stations in question applied for renewal in June. Their licenses are set to expire in October. According to the story, CREW asked the commission to pull the licenses to all 27 Fox-owned TV stations back in May – citing the clause in FCC regulations that it only grants licenses to those of “good character” – but the FCC has taken no action. The commission rarely takes action in cases of ethics complaints and it is not expected to act on CREW’s complaint.
Presidential Campaign, Todd Akins Campaign Status, Prince Harry Naked Partying Incident, Merkel-Euro Zone Tensions, and Hurricane Threatens Tampa GOP Convention Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/22). The U.S. presidential campaign; Missouri Rep. Todd Akins campaign status in wake of “legitimate rape” comment; the fallout over Prince Harry’s naked partying in Las Vegas; German chancellor Angela Merkel’s difficult decision regarding Greece and the future of the euro zone; and the hurricane threat to next week’s GOP convention in Tampa were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
GOP Candidates Flocking to Talk Radio in Close Primary Race. In a piece on Mitt Romney’s talk radio appearances in Michigan and Arizona prior to tomorrow’s primaries in those states at Politico yesterday (2/26), writer Keach Hagey speaks with local and national talk show hosts on candidates’ use of talk radio during a campaign like this. The piece notes that Romney has historically been a bit aloof towards talk radio – unlike Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – but with the race with Santorum particularly close, he’s been all over the medium. Hagey quotes TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison offering the reason for this turn of events. “When they’re ahead, they don’t like going on talk radio because they are afraid of making a mistake, and talk radio is a wonderful place for making a mistake. If he were clearly the front-runner, then he would do less talk radio.” During a GOP primary race when candidates are speaking to core voters on conservative talk radio-formatted stations, they use the medium to differentiate themselves from the others. Hagey’s piece quotes Santorum national communications director Hogan Gidley saying, “Mitt Romney’s well-funded attack machine is on their seek-and-destroy mission, and talk radio is often the avenue Rick Santorum uses to dispel those false accusations. We have been on talk radio probably more than any of the other candidates combined.” With the Michigan and Arizona primaries tomorrow, Talk Radio Network-syndicated “America’s Morning News” with John McCaslin and Dana Mills is the beneficiary with interviews with Mitt Romney at 8:15 am today and Rick Santorum at 8:30 am.
INNOVATIVE MODEL SET FOR NEW MEDIA SEMINAR 2012. Plans have been set for the 15th annual installment of the New Media Seminar, the longest-running, largest and most important annual talk media industry convention. This year’s version marks the innovative launch of an updated model sensitive to the tough economic and stressful conditions of the times. Significant restructuring has been applied to lower the costs of registration, accommodations and travel as well as moving the event from the weekend to a weekday. According to TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, “Both conferences will be national in scope and regional in flavor, a recipe that worked amazingly well at last year’s successful experiment, the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum.”
NMS 2012 will consist of two one-day conferences. The first will be held in New York City on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side. The second – presented in association with the Los Angeles Press Club – will take place on Thursday, October 11 in Los Angeles at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.
According to Harrison, “We learned a tremendous amount at last year’s ‘happening’ in L.A. There is something very exciting, fulfilling and productive about one single, power-packed day with no time-wasting fat or money-wasting frills. It was executed purposefully under the radar to test the waters for this new model on a national scale and it succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, reaching maximum registration capacity in a matter of days. Although the New Media Seminar has actually grown consistently larger and has been a sell-out every year of its existence, we recognize that conditions are such that a change would eventually be necessary as well as beneficial to the working person in our business – at least during this stressful period of tight budgets and high industry economic uncertainty. At TALKERS we insist on being ahead of the curve. Industry conferences need to include and be accessible to professionals in the trenches as well as the corporate elite. This new model is a gift to the business.”
Because quick sell-outs for each event are expected, registration will be limited to working media. For registration and sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details, agenda updates and hotel information will be announced in the coming days here at Talkers.com and in the TALKERS morning headlines e-mailer. Stay tuned!
NPR Announces Promotions and New Executive Structure. NPR promotes Kinsey Wilson to the position executive vice president and chief content officer and makes Margaret Low Smith the senior vice president of NPR news, a position she’s been serving in the “acting” vein since last January. NPR president and CEO Gary Knell states, “This is a time of great opportunity for NPR and our member stations. In Kinsey and Margaret we have two journalists, strategists and leaders with a keen understanding of the craft that distinguishes NPR – and how we must continue to innovate and evolve. Our collective aim is to work with stations to become an unrivaled leader in news and cultural coverage that reaches all Americans, no matter how they tune in.” Wilson has been with NPR since 2008 as SVP and general manager of digital media. NPR also announces Eric Nuzum steps permanently into the vice president for programming role. Plus, vice president of diversity in news & operations Keith Woods is charged with broadening with member stations to support public radio’s drive for greater diversity in its audience, staffing and content. Woods will work closely with vice president for membership and audience partnership Joyce MacDonald.
Ric Edelman’s Weekly Financial Talk Show Clears KFI, Los Angeles. “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman” – the nationally syndicated financial talk show hosted by one of the nation’s top-ranked financial advisors – is added to the weekend lineup at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles airing Sundays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Edelman’s program is now heard in 54 markets, including 25 of the top 30 markets. Edelman says. “I’m excited to join KFI’s outstanding lineup and look forward to bringing financial education to so many people in Southern California.”
KGO, San Francisco Makes Changes to Weekend Schedule; More News Content Added. Responding to listener feedback, the Cumulus Media Group station announces changes to its weekend schedule that includes the addition of traffic reports every 10 minutes plus live weather reports with ABC 7 meteorologists to serve listeners out in their cars on the weekend. News and program director Brian Hosley announces two new programs: “Cooking with Ryan Scott,” airing Saturdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and “The Monty Show,” hosted by Tim Montemayor and airing from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Hosley says Montemayor’s show will address local and timely issues. Montemayor is an East Bay resident who has worked in Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis as well as being syndicated nationally with Sporting News Radio. “He is a self-proclaimed ‘news junkie’ and is excited to talk with listeners about the stories that matter to them most.”
Cox Media Group’s WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia Prepares for Martha Zoller’s Congressional Run. The station positioned as “Bulldog 103.7” – Cox Media Group’s talk and sports hybrid WXKT-FM – is running a contest for a fill-in for “one of our most popular hosts” who “will be occupied for a few months.” The station doesn’t mention Martha Zoller by name but the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon host has said she’ll run as a Republican for the new congressional seat created by population changes and redistricting. The station is asking, “Do you have strong ties to the Gainesville area? Do you keep abreast of local, state and national issues? Can you have civil discussions with those who hold differing viewpoints? Can you keep talking and keep it interesting for hours on end? Then Bulldog 103.7 has a microphone with your name on it.” Applicants must write the station and in 100 words or less tell why they should get the gig.
Clear Channel’s Hartford Sports Talkers Split Affiliation. The new FM sports talk station Clear Channel Media and Entertainment put on the air recently – WUCS 97.9 FM ESPN – has been simulcasting with AM sister WPOP. Beginning March 5, WPOP will break off from the simulcast and affiliate with Fox Sports Radio. It will also carry the DirecTV-produced and Premiere Networks-distributed Dan Patrick show.
Opinion: Richard Neer Responds to Phil Valentine. Regarding the debate over the use of terms or phrases on broadcasts or in print historically regarded as ethnic slurs, TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer responds to Dial Global Nashville-based talk host Phil Valentine who wrote this opinion piece called “Controlling the Language” published by TALKERS on Friday (2/24). Valentine was responding to Neer’s original column published last week here. In his response, Neer contests the notion that “words can’t hurt” and points out humanity’s tendency toward ethnic pride as one of the underlying reasons why ethnic slurs exist in the first place. Read Neer’s piece here.
Unapologetic Progressive Talk Media Star Ed Schultz Wins Hubert Humphrey Award from Teachers Union; Forging Ahead Undaunted in Election Year. Progressive talk media icon Ed Schultz – seen nightly on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” and heard daily on his nationally syndicated Dial Global radio program – recently accepted the 2012 Hubert Humphrey Humanitarian Award from the United Federation of Teachers at the organization’s Social Studies Conference on February 4. Schultz was recognized for his work backing the stance of teachers unions in 2011. Schultz says, “I’m just excited to receive this award and I’m very appreciative of the recognition. We’ve worked hard in supporting teachers and public education and to have my name on the same plaque with Hubert Humphrey is certainly an honor.” Schultz tells TALKERS magazine he makes no apologies for the fact that he operates a political talk show and he sees his role as disseminating the truth about President Obama’s record. “I think people listening to liberal talk want to see the president defended. There’s been so much negativity…I think we end up becoming a filtering house on what is the truth and what is the record.” From an industrial standpoint, Schultz says he believes his program has all the elements it needs to keep an audience interested and he points to his nine years of success as proof. He takes the opportunity to question the political motives of major broadcasting operators. “There are companies out there that will not program any type of progressive talk. You have a ceiling of maybe 100 stations, you have some independent owners out there…it’s still a right-wing industry. Whether it’s Obama’s re-election campaign, no candidate is going to change the landscape of who owns signals.” Schultz’s anger about the misconceptions he believes the radio industry holds about the potential of progressive talk is hard to miss. He tells TALKERS, “Don’t give me this garbage that we don’t sell because we do, and I’m tired of that conversation. I was supposed to last 90 days; I’m in year number nine.”
KFI, Los Angeles Suspends John and Ken for Whitney Houston Comments. The Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan tips TALKERS that Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles is suspending PM drive duo John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou for comments about Whitney Houston. The station says, “Effective immediately, KFI AM 640 hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou have been suspended for making insensitive and inappropriate comments about the late Whitney Houston. KFI AM 640 management does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind.” John Kobylt says in the statement, “We made a mistake and we accept the station’s decision. We used language that was inappropriate and we sincerely apologize to our listeners and to the family of Ms. Houston.” During a discussion of Houston’s passing and reported drug abuse John Kobylt said, “At some point you’re just sick of it all, and so is everybody else in the industry. All her friends and hangers on, everybody who knew had to deal with her. It’s like ‘Ah Jesus…here comes the crack ho again, what’s she gonna do? Ah look at that she’s doin’ handstands next to the pool. Very good crack ho…’ After while everybody’s exhausted. And then you find out she’s dead. It’s like, ‘Really? Took this long?’” The station reports John and Ken will return to the air on February 27.
Clear Channel Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Embroiled in Bizarre Legal Tangle Stemming from Alleged Hit-and-Run. KTRH, Houston talk show host and former Houston city councilman Michael Berry is being accused of hitting another car outside a bar in Houston and taking off. The accuser is the owner of the car that got hit but the complicating circumstances are the pub in question is a well-known gay bar in the city and the establishment’s security cameras appear to confirm the conservative Berry was inside the bar. What’s complicating the issue further is the allegation the city’s hit-and-run division did not investigate the incident fully, perhaps because it involved Berry. KPRC-TV reports the Harris County District Attorney’s office met with Houston Police Department officials for three hours on February 16 asking officers involved why a full investigation wasn’t done. Police are being asked to reinvestigate the matter. Berry said on his radio show that he can’t talk about it but that listeners should “just trust that there are two sides to every story.” At issue according to KPRC-TV is that several witnesses say they told police they saw Berry behind the wheel but authorities maintain they were not told that during the initial investigation after which they decided not to file charges.
The Fox News-Media Matters Battle Heats Up; The Daily Caller Reports MM’s Tax Exempt Status Under Scrutiny. The non-profit Media Matters for America organization makes no bones about its campaign against Fox News and its programming. In May of last year the organization created the DropFox.com website designed to convince advertisers to end marketing campaigns on the cable news/talk channel. Now, The Hollywood Reporter writes that Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel-founded The Daily Caller is supplying Fox News with “ammunition” from its own reporting alleging Media Matters “coordinates its messages with the White House, a no-no for a tax-exempt organization that claims to be nonpartisan.” The Daily Caller also claims Republican lawmakers are looking into the tax status of Media Matters. Tucker Carlson is a regular contributor to Fox News Channel and this relationship led the news and opinion blog Mediaite to ask if Fox and The Daily Caller are working to together to which Fox told Mediaite, “There is absolutely no coordination with The Daily Caller” and Fox doesn’t know what is motivating Carlson’s timing on the reporting. The Daily Caller promises the next in the series about Media Matters alleges the organization has written scripts for NBC News.
Stacy Taylor Weekend Program to Leave KGO, San Francisco. Rich Lieberman 415 Media reports San Diego-based talk host Stacy Taylor is off the weekend schedule at Cumulus Media Group’s KGO, San Francisco. Lieberman says Taylor told him, “I’m disappointed, but that’s the way the business is today.” Taylor’s Saturday and Sunday afternoon program – which will air the final editions this weekend – is reportedly being replaced by a newsier program hosted by the station’s Pat Thurston. Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Christine Craft was a co-host of the Stacy Taylor program and was also let go from KGO. Craft is a fill-in host at KGO — not affiliated with Taylor — and remains at the station in that capacity. TALKERS regrets the error.
“Coast To Coast AM” Host George Noory Helps Raise Funds for Contributor’s Medical Bills. The host of the Premiere Networks late night program learned that frequent expert guest Mitch Barros – a weather/earth science reporter and creator of the “Earth Changes Media” podcast – was dealing with dreadful medical bills due to his newborn daughter Sophia’s heart complications. George Noory enlisted the help of his loyal listeners and helped raise more than $18,000 to help Barros pay the outstanding bill. Noory states, “I want to thank the “Coast to Coast AM” listeners for their generosity. Thanks to them, Mitch and his family can focus on what matters most – Sophia’s continued health and wellness.”
WOR, New York Celebrates 90 Years on the Air. Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR, New York is celebrating its 90th year on the air in the New York City area. The station first signed on February 22, 1922 from Bamberger’s Department Store in Newark, New Jersey. Vice president and general manager Jerry Crowley says, “From the moment we first signed on the air with a broadcast of Al Jolson’s ‘April Showers,’ generations of listeners have counted on WOR for the best in information and entertainment. We are not only proud of our rich history, but also of our present stature as one of the top talk stations in the country and home of New York morning radio’s top-rated show. The years ahead look brighter than ever for WOR.” The station says it will commemorate its 90 years of continuous broadcasting by airing a series of archival audio pieces over the next week and a half, as well as remembrances and reflections from its current air staff. A larger celebration is being planned for later this year.
Ronnie “Night Train” Lane Exits Genesis’ WHBO, Tampa. Afternoon “Prime Time” co-host Ronnie “Night Train” Lane has been let go by Genesis Communications’ sports talk WHBO, Tampa. Lane tells the Tampa Bay Times he was very surprised by the move. “I asked if the decision was performance based. And all I was told was ‘We’re taking the show in another direction.’ That’s all I got. That’s all I was told.” Host Tom Krasniqi continues hosting the PM drive show solo. The two had been together co-hosting the show for the past 18 months. Last summer the station let third personality, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mark Carrier, go from the program.
Conservative Talk Radio Documentary Getting Attention (and Ratings!) on Public TV in Milwaukee. Former talk radio producer and talk show host Brien Farley’s new documentary film “Liberty or Lies?” examines the popularity of conservative talk radio in the Milwaukee market. The film was initially a graduate level independent study that took off and eventually found a home on Milwaukee Public Television where a two-hour version of the film premiered on January 30 from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm and aired again on February 4. Interestingly, Farley’s work on the film began just before Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican state officials faced recall elections in 2011 that put the state in the center of the national discourse about public policy relative to public workers’ labor rights. Farley’s film covers talk radio in the market from the perspectives of its biggest local stars, its biggest media critics and many perspectives in between. He tells TALKERS that local response to the film has been excellent noting that public television audience research firm TRAC Media Services reported the film garnered a 2.7 share for the January 30 airing. Farley is an admitted fan of the format and says he believes the Milwaukee news/talk stations serve the market well. “I think the Milwaukee market is a fantastic example of the vibrancy and power of news/talk radio when done right. The programmers at WISN and WTMJ are very tuned into their audiences and responsive to what the people want…which is the real power of the news/talk format. They’ve also corralled some excellent homegrown talent which means a lot to local listeners.” The question, “Why is conservative talk radio successful?” is an ongoing curiosity among many mainstream journalists. In fact it’s a question TALKERS editors are asked almost daily by journalists working in the consumer media. Farley says he believes his film, in many ways, shows Milwaukee to be a microcosm of news/talk’s success on the national level. “AM radio is perhaps the lowest rung of the broadcast venues and yet the impact of the genre is huge! In Wisconsin, this was manifest in the November 2010 election results in which we saw the most comprehensive turnover in power – from Democrat to Republican – of any state in the country. This would not have happened without Milwaukee’s conservative talk radio. And now with the attempted recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker, conservatives, right-leaning independents and converted Democrats are flocking to talk hosts like Jay Weber and Vicki McKenna of WISN and Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner of WTMJ to hear the latest and find out what they can do to join the fight. Like it or not, Wisconsin is becoming a very different place because of conservative talk radio. I believe the same can be said of our nation thanks to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin et al.” Read more about Farley’s film and watch it here.
Phil Valentine’s “An Inconsistent Truth” Premiers in Memphis Tonight. The independently produced film by Nashville-based talk show host Phil Valentine and director Shayne Edwards that challenges contemporary theories of global warming, premiers in Memphis after several weeks in Nashville where Valentine calls it the “top-grossing event in theatres” there. Valentine is getting sponsorship and promotional help from MPS Broadcasting which operates news/talk WMPS, Memphis. MPS Broadcasting president Mark Skoda – who also hosts his own show on the station – says, “Phil’s new film is both entertaining and informative. It not only offers insights into the scientific skepticism of the global warming debate, but entertains as well. I have to say that after watching a copy of the film, this is a completely enjoyable 90 minutes of fun. And Phil brings his wit and sarcasm to the movie as few can. I hope our listeners will come out and join us for some fun in this premier event.”
Jacqueline Cohen Named National Account Manager at Dial Global. Jacqueline Cohen comes to Dial Global after 11 years with Cumulus Media Networks. She’ll be based in Los Angeles. Dial Global EVP of national sales Chris Long states, “It’s exciting whenever you can add someone as talented as Jacqueline to your team. She is a perfect fit for Dial Global and will do a great job representing us to the major agencies and advertisers on the West Coast.”
GOP Primary/2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 13-17. The GOP primary race and the larger 2012 presidential campaign was #1 on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio. At #2 was the violence in Syria and America’s response. Coming in at #3 was the Iran-Israel tensions and at #4 was President Obama’s 2013 budget. The Talkers TenTM chart is the result of ongoing research by TALKERS and is published at Talkers.com every Friday. See the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Dial Global’s “Overnight America” with John Grayson is added to the lineup at WMPS, Memphis…..WSJM, Benton Harbor, Michigan adds “Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge to the weeknight lineup and WKZO, Kalamazoo, Michigan adds FTL’s live Sunday edition…..The independently syndicated Armstrong Williams show recently debuted on WTNT-AM/FM, Washington and WGNU, St. Louis.
SCOTUS Hears Broadcast Indecency Arguments; Sweeping Changes Unlikely. TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says although Attorney Carter Phillips – representing Fox Television – argued convincingly that broadcasters are responsible to their audiences and advertisers and would not, therefore, engage in a “race to the bottom” with regard to indecency, he believes the Supreme Court will not throw out the current indecency rules as some broadcasters might hope it would. Attorneys representing the Federal Communications Commission, Fox Television and ABC Television argued before the Court yesterday for the first time since the Pacifica case in 1978. Read Attorney Weisman’s analysis here.
TRN Entertainment Syndicates Former KGO Weekender Dr. Bill Wattenburg. Bill Wattenburg was one of the KGO, San Francisco talk show hosts let go by Cumulus Media in December. Now, TRN Entertainment begins offering Dr. Wattenburg in national syndication Sunday evenings from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am ET beginning January 22. TRN Entertainment CEO Mark Masters says, “We are ecstatic to have a person of Dr. Bill Wattenburg’s caliber join our network. His vast knowledge of science and physics will enlighten all of his listeners. We believe he will quickly develop legions of dedicated fans that want to improve their personal knowledge and way of life.” Bay Area talk radio listeners are aware of Dr. Wattenburg’s credentials but the rest of the nation may not know that he is a senior research scientist at the Research Foundation, California State University, Chico; and a scientific consultant for the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and many other institutions. He is a former nuclear weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; a former member of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board; and a former UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering. TRN Entertainment describes Dr. Wattenburg’s show as “mostly an open-line, listener-driven call-in show in which he answers questions ranging from fixing cars to physics, and everything in between. His combination of experiences and scientific background give him a great wealth of knowledge that he applies to entertain and inform his audience.”
Clear Channel Takes Another Step Toward Making iHeartRadio a Ubiquitous Media Application. The broadcast giant announces it is making its application programming interface (API) and affiliate program available to third parties and developers so they can integrate its content and services into their own products, web pages and apps. Clear Channel states, “Developers will have the opportunity to create their own innovative versions of iHeartRadio on their platforms. The iHeartRadio API includes access to many of the service’s features, including its live broadcast and digital-only stations and Custom Stations as well as a deep social media integration.” Clear Channel Digital president Brian Lakamp says, “Opening our API will unlock exciting opportunities to enrich the unique, combined live and custom radio experience that only iHeartRadio provides. This move also builds on our commitment to be everywhere our listeners expect us to be, with the best products and services.” The company is clearly moving full-speed-ahead to compete in digital media distribution device race and this is another smart move to try to enhance iHeartRadio’s useage.
CBS Radio Names Two More to WNEW-FM, Washington Staff. When CBS Radio’s all-newser WNEW-FM, Washington debuts on January 19, Lisa Baden will be handling the traffic reporting in one of the nation’s most congested commuter markets and Jill Schlesinger joins the station for twice-hourly business reports. Baden has been broadcasting traffic reports in the DC market for two decades, most notably with crosstown WTOP-FM and Metro Traffic before that. Schlesinger is editor-at-large of CBS Moneywatch and also hosts her own nationally syndicated weekend financial talk program syndicated by Dial Global.
Premiere Networks’ Andy Dean Hits 50-Affiliate Mark. Nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean, host of “America Now,” marks the 50-affilliate plateau. Premiere Networks SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi says, “The rapid growth we’ve experienced with this program is a testament to Andy’s talent, dedication and hard work. We look forward to reaching many more milestones together.” Dean’s program is heard on talk outlets across America including WSB, Atlanta; KSTE, Sacramento; WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton; WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville; and KNST-AM/FM, Tucson.
National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Announces Honorees. It’s the time of year when the NSSA announces winners of its best-of honors for their accomplishments in 2011. Here are just a few of those just announced: WGN, Chicago morning sports anchor and Northwestern Wildcats football and basketball play-by-play announcer Dave Eanet is named the 2011 Illinois Sportscaster of the Year. WGN VP/GM Tom Langmyer states, “Dave Eanet is a tremendous broadcaster and a class act. His passion, integrity and professionalism are apparent in everything that he does and we’re proud to have him on the WGN radio team.”…..Drew Deener of Sports Radio 790 WKRD, Louisville is named Sportscaster of the Year in the State of Kentucky. Deener hosts “The Early Birds Morning Show” and “The Cardinal Insider” on WKRD. He also serves as the TV play-by-play voice of University of Louisville football and basketball on WHAS-TV…..KOZN, Omaha’s Kevin Kugler, host of the popular sports talk program “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” and play-by-play host of the College World Series, earns the Nebraska Sportscaster of the Year award for the eighth year. KOZN program director Neil Nelkin states, “It truly is remarkable that someone this early on his career would be recognized at this level and at this frequency. It just goes to show how much talent Kevin has behind the mic and in the world of sportscasting.”
Former St. Louis PM Drive Team Thom and Jeff Begin Internet Initiative. The longtime PM drive team at Emmis’ alternative KPNT, St. Louis, Thom West and Jeff Burton, are producing an internet talk show available via iTunes or their website. Thom and Jeff were “downsized” in August and began producing podcasts in September. They say they are now averaging 40,000 downloads per day. The team has grown to include Scottie “Boom Boom,” Coach, and Kara the Lesbian. Daily guests add to the non-stop entertainment including comedians, visits from bands, athletes, and local and national celebrities. Jeff Burton says, “I really enjoyed the old radio show but with the added people and no FCC regulations we are free to do and say whatever we want…and we do!”
Longtime WMAL, Washington Personality Bill Trumball Dies at 77. Bill Trumball retired from WMAL, Washington in 1996 after spending more than 35 years with the station. He was partnered with Chris Core on the “Core and Trumball” show for many of those years. He passed away on January 10 from respiratory failure.
New Hampshire Primary, Iran Saber-Rattling and World Financial Markets Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/10). The GOP race to take the nation’s first primary election of the 2012 presidential campaign, the ongoing saber-rattling by Iran and speculation about its drive to develop nuclear weapons and the state of the world’s financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio to Feature Greater Media Stations. First it was Cumulus Media striking at deal with Clear Channel to have its radio stations available nationwide via the iHeartRadio digital radio platform, now Greater Media climbs aboard. Beginning in April, Greater Media’s 22 stations in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, New Jersey and Charlotte will be available via the iHeartRadio app. Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth states, “We are thrilled to be able to provide our listeners with even greater access to our stations anywhere they may be listening throughout the country with this exciting platform.” Clear Channel president and CEO John Hogan says, “Adding Greater Media to iHeartRadio only improves our leading digital destination for consumers, expanding their ability to find the best and most complete online radio experience anywhere. Clear Channel Radio and Greater Media understand that radio connects local businesses to consumers like no other medium can, and this agreement offers more choices for our listeners which is what they want.”
Don Martin Promoted to Senior Vice President, Sports Programming for Premiere Networks. This is a promotion from his role as vice president and general manager for Fox Sports Radio Network which has been a division of Premiere Networks since it began collaborating on sports programming with Fox Sports more than 10 years ago. In this new role, Martin oversees all sports programming and operations for Premiere. Martin reports to Premiere president of content and affiliations Julie Talbott who says, “This is a well-deserved promotion, as Don’s leadership has been instrumental in the growth and strength of the Fox Sports Radio Network. His expertise, as well as his passion and dedication to this industry, make him a tremendous asset as we expand in the sports arena. With Don at the helm, I’m confident we will continue to see the positive impact and success of our programming.” Under Martin’s watch, FSRN has reached an all-time high of 400-plus affiliates. He continues in his role as general manager and program director of Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles. TALKERS magazine’s Mike Kinosian recently spoke with Don Martin about his work with Fox Sports Radio and KLAC. See the video in the Talkers TV box on the right side of this page.
KFTK-FM, St. Louis Adds More Local Talk; Expanded Shows for Dana Loesch and Dave Glover. Emmis Communications’ news/talk KFTK-FM, St. Louis is adding more live and local programming to its daily schedule with the expansion of the Dana Loesch and Dave Glover shows. Loesch moves from the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot beginning January 30. Dave Glover, the station’s longtime PM drive host, adds an hour to make his show live from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Program director Jeff Allen says, “Now with more Dana and Dave we can better cover the issues that matter to our St. Louis listeners. This is just another step in our commitment to respond to the local audience and to better cover breaking news anytime it happens.” The expansion of the two shows means TRN’s Laura Ingraham program will exit the station. Dana Loesch also does a live hour on Emmis’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm and Allen says that will continue.
Compass Media Marketing Announces Executive Staff. The newly formed advertising representation firm being organized by Compass Media Networks founder and CEO Peter Kosann announces Paul Gregery is installed as president of sales & marketing; Mary Giesen is named VP of sales planning; and Laura Peyer is New York account manager. The appointments are effective immediately and Peter Kosann says, “We are extremely fortunate to have these executives join us. This is a tremendous first step for our sales organization.” Paul Gregery served at Westwood One for more than eight years in a variety of capacities, including president of sales. Before that, he managed West Coast sales for the AMFM Radio Networks prior to its being acquired by Premiere Networks. Gregery also worked for more than a decade at the ABC Radio Network in a variety of sales positions. He will work out of Compass’ Los Angeles offices. Mary Giesen also worked at Westwood One where she quickly rose through the sales management ranks, ultimately serving as VP of sales planning, traffic & continuity, managing the sales planning staff and overseeing the management of the commercial inventory. She will work out of Compass’ New York offices. Laura Peyer previously served as the sports network sales executive at Skyview Networks, managing advertising relationships with clients throughout the New York, New England and the Midwest markets. Prior to Skyview, she held positions as national broadcast supervisor at MPG and sales planner at Westwood One. She also will work out of Compass’ New York offices.
Glenn Beck’s GBTV to Debut New Roundtable Show. In association with Glenn Beck’s internet news site The Blaze, GBTV will feature “Real News from The Blaze” airing weeknights from 7:00 to 8:00 beginning January 18. GBTV personality Amy Holmes will moderate the roundtable discussion of the day’s news. Participants will include Blaze editor-in-chief Scott Baker, Buck Sexton, Will Cain and S.E. Cupp. GBTV president of programming Joel Cheatwood says, “While GBTV is and will remain an information and entertainment network, we saw a real opportunity to provide the news that our audience is looking for and is too often ignored by the mainstream media. We are passionate about offering our audience a deeply reported and engaging look at the news and are excited to be able to draw on the incredible editorial resources at The Blaze.”
WIP, Philadelphia Brings Brian Haddad Aboard for Creative Services Director Post. The former KDKB-FM, Phoenix morning drive host is named creative services director and part-time host at the CBS Radio sports talk station. Operations manager Andy Bloom says, “We embarked on a three-plus month search to find the person who would make WIP the best-produced station in the country. There is no question we found the most creative mind and talented person to help us accomplish that goal. We view Brian as our new secret weapon.” Brian “Sludge” Haddad joined Sandusky’s rock KDKB-FM in June of 2010 to host the morning show. Previously, he’d worked at Cox Media’s WDYL-FM, Richmond.
KFNS, St. Louis Host Kevin Slaten Goes Solo After Ashlee Feldman Exits. The PM drive show on Grand Slam Sports’ KFNS, St. Louis will go with Kevin Slaten solo for a while after former MTV reality show star Ashlee Feldman exited the program. STLToday.com reports Feldman – a former college basketball player and star of MTV’s “Real World New Orleans” – missed her family in the East and decided to leave the program after a year. Slaten tells the site he’s not certain if he’ll remain solo or be paired up with another partner.
Fisher Communications’ KVI, Seattle Loses PD Travis Box to Home Life. Program director and producer Travis Box announces he’s leaving Fisher Communications to begin the most difficult job he’ll ever undertake – stay-at-home dad! Box has been producing the KOMO-AM/FM “Newsline” program and programmed KVI as it made the recent transition from oldies back to talk. KVI talk host Scott Carty will serve as interim PD.
New Hampshire Primary, Iran Nuclear Ambitions/American Sentenced to Death, Obama Chief of Staff to Exit and Tebow Rallies Boncos Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/9). The GOP New Hampshire Primary race, Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its sentencing to death American Amir Mirzaie Hekmati on charges of being a spy, the Obama Administration’s chief of staff Bill Daley to exit and Tim Tebow’s rallying the Broncos to victory over the Steelers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
A Brief History of Los Angeles Talk Radio. One of the many highlights of the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (October 20) was the presentation of the first-ever Talkers Lifetime Achievement Award to LARadio.com publisher and noted radio historian Don Barrett followed by his brilliant presentation of “A Brief History of Los Angeles Talk Radio.” In the speech, Barrett describes growing up in the beach communities of Southern California and being raised on the great rock ‘n’ roll and top 40 stations of the 1950s. He traces the roots of LA talk radio back to Ben Hoberman’s early experiments with all-talk at KABC in the 1960s and follows the richly colorful route of the format all the way through the decades to present-day juggernaut that is KFI, including fascinating details about the personalities who brought it to life. To see this not-to-be-missed exclusive video presentation, click here.
Former KGO, San Francisco Hosts Gene Burns and Len Tillem to Join Clear Channel Bay Area Station; New Lineups for KNEW and KKSF Announced. The program schedules for Clear Channel’s Bay Area talk stations are official a month after the company announced it would swap calls, and change the image of progressive talk station KKGN. As previously reported, the 960 AM frequency becomes KNEW and 910 AM will take the new call letters KKSF. What’s new is that former crosstown KGO talk hosts Gene Burns and Len Tillem will become part of the lineup at the new Newstalk 910 (KKSF). The program schedules for the revamped stations are as follows: KNEW – Premiere Networks‘ Glenn Beck, 6:00 am to 9:00 am; Dave Ramsey, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; Premiere‘s Randi Rhodes, 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm; Compass Media Networks‘ Norman Goldman, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; Market Wrap, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm; Dial Global‘s Stephanie Miller, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm; Dial Global‘s Thom Hartmann, 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. KKSF – Armstrong & Getty, 6:00 am to 9:00 am; to be announced, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; Fox News Radio‘s Tom Sullivan, 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm; Len Tillem, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm; and Gene Burns, 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Regarding the changes, Clear Channel San Francisco director of operations Don Parker states, “Recent changes in the talk radio market gave us the opportunity to adjust our plans for 960 KNEW. We are excited to broaden 960 KNEW’s position to appeal to a wider variety of Bay Area listeners…We are moving Newstalk 910 into the forefront of the talk genre in the Bay Area. With the addition of Bay Area legend Gene Burns and ‘Radio Lawyer’ Len Tillem to the line-up, we are very excited about the future.”
Rumor: Cumulus Planning FM Talk Flip in Twin Cities. There’s no official word from the company but the talk is hot and heavy in the Minneapolis –St. Paul market that Cumulus Media will flip one of its music FMs to talk in 2012. Cumulus owns classic rock KQRS-FM, active rock KXXR-FM and the classic hits trimulcast of WGVX-FM, WGVY-FM and WGVZ-FM which surround the market. Both the rock stations have done pretty well in the latest Arbitron PPMs so a lot of the chatter has the lower-rated classic hits “Love 105FM” making the switch. Stay tuned.
Wisconsin Public Radio Talk Host Jean Feraca to Retire. The 28-year veteran of Wisconsin Public Radio announces she’ll retire in March from the organization she’s worked at since 1983. Jean Feraca tells the Wisconsin State Journal, “It’s just time.” Speaking to the paper, she hinted at job cuts that clearly have affected her work environment. “I lost everybody in my team earlier this year, and it’s been difficult. This is sensitive stuff and I have to think it through.”
Unresolved Payroll Tax Issue/Congress Recesses, Post-Kim Jong Il North Korea, 2012 Presidential Race and Uncertain Financial Markets Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/20). Congress’ failure to extend the payroll tax cut and its leaving for holiday break, concern over a post-Kim Jong Il North Korea, the GOP race for president in 2012 and the down year for stocks and the ongoing euro zone debt crisis were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing TALKERS magazine research.
Will Howard Stern’s Role on “America’s Got Talent” Hurt NBC’s Ability to Sell Ads? By now you know that it’s official that Sirius XM’s Howard Stern is replacing Piers Morgan on the very successful summer talent search program, “America’s Got Talent.” It didn’t take long for the Parents Television Council to react (they probably had the press release ready weeks ago!). PTC president Tim Winter stated, “In an act of desperation for a flailing network, NBC has hired Howard Stern – a performer who is synonymous with shock, profanity and obscenity – as a judge on a prime-time talent competition. The once-proud broadcast network has lost its way and has made it clear it holds no concern whatsoever for children and families. It also risks losing millions in advertising dollars.” We are not sure about the “flailing network” part – “America’s Got Talent” was the number one non-sports program among the four networks last summer and NBC has probably seriously considered what Stern’s effect on the program will be. Certainly Stern won’t be interviewing porn stars on the TV show but he does come with a reputation and if the PTC and other groups decide to mount a serious campaign against NBC, will they be able to hurt the network over Stern’s reputation and not what actually transpires on the show? Stay tuned.
Occupy KGO Draws Protesters to San Francisco Studios. Earlier this week TALKERS reported the planned Occupy KGO event scheduled for yesterday (12/15) in reaction to Cumulus Media’s firing of Gene Burns, Ray Taliaferro, Gil Gross and several other talk hosts as the station moves to a newsier format. The protest took place and, according to Matthew Lasar of RadioSurvivor.com, there were about 50 people gathered outside the studios at the height of the activity (accompanying photo from RadioSurvivor.com), including recently dismissed talk host John Rothman. Lasar says Rothman told him, “Our hope is that Mickey Luckoff, our former president and general manager, is in the process of putting together a deal which would take all of us to one station and hopefully we will go with our advertisers, and we’ll begin all over again.” KGO issues the following statement regarding the protest: “KGO listeners are passionate about their station. We appreciate their input and feedback as we evolve from a news/talk format to more news and information.” Occupy KGO protesters say they’ll be back on December 30 for another march.
New KABC, Los Angeles Lineup: Geraldo in, Elder to PM Drive and More. The Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan reports reliable sources tell him the new lineup for Cumulus Media’s KABC, Los Angeles is set and will debut in January. Already known is that Doug McIntyre and Terri-Rae Elmer will host “McIntyre in the Morning.” Lycan reports that Geraldo Rivera – emanating from WABC, New York – will host the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show on delay. Other changes include evening host John Phillips moving from his current slot to a one-hour 9:00 am to 10:00 am program. Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity remains in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot followed by Larry Elder, who moves to the PM drive daypart from late mornings. Current AM driver Peter Tilden moves to the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show following Citadel Media Networks’ Mark Levin in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm position.
Female Demo Innovator Debbie Nigro Targets 40-Plus Female Audience with “Still a Babe” Concept. One of the holy grails in talk radio programming is figuring out a dependable method of connecting with the underserved, under-reached female market. If anyone out there has experience and a degree of success in this arena, it’s radio pro Debbie Nigro of “Working Mom on the Run” fame. Now Debbie Nigro has turned her attention to reaching women ages 40-65 with her StillaBabe.com initiative. The veteran of WPIX-FM, New York and the aforementioned nationally syndicated “Working Mom on the Run” program which made a big buzz in the 1990s says the “Still a Babe” concept comes from the sum of her life’s experiences. She tells TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian, “It is about figuring out how to enjoy your life through it all and being around people who bring out the best in you. I have great instincts about people and have so much information to share. My revenue will come from media, product sales, offline events and licensing. This is a collective power of the purse. Women want to play with whom they trust. I let my guard down so they know who I am.” Nigro’s track record warrants industry attention. Read more and see her very cool video presentation here.
“Free Talk Live” Jumps into the Fray Between Mark Levin and Michael Savage. You already know that TRN host Michael Savage offered New Gingrich $1 million to quit the GOP race and, in response, Mark Levin offered Savage $100,000 to quit his radio program. “Free Talk Live” host and founder Ian Freeman isn’t asking either host to quit his job for money. Here’s his offer: “‘Free Talk Live’ will give $1,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital if Mark Levin and Michael Savage will have lunch with an Orthodox Muslim and also an undocumented immigrant that is working to feed his or her family. Levin and Savage will have to video record their encounters and do less than 40% of the talking in each conversation. Each host can earn up to $500 for St. Jude by submitting one video for their lunch with the Muslim and another for the immigrant. Upon public upload to YouTube and once verified that the host listened in a video to at least 60% of the conversation, $250 will be given to St. Jude. If by 2012 the hosts have not accomplished this goal, ‘Free Talk Live’ will raise at least $1,000 to be given to St. Jude in the name of peace, freedom, and compassion for other humans.” If you’re interested in hearing more about this offer from Freeman, e-mail him at email@example.com.
Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts Leases Irving, Texas Studio Space for Production and Live Events. Since moving his personal residence to Texas, Premiere Networks star Glenn Beck has been working to relocate his Mercury Radio Arts production company to the Lone Star State and now it appears he’s found the space. The Studios at Las Colinas is an existing facility that’s been home to the production of Hollywood films (“Robocop,” “JFK” and “Talk Radio” to name a few). Mercury Radio Arts will lease space there for his GBTV studios from Muller Entertainment Studio Operations. The site comes complete with a 500-plus seat theater for live performances and Beck will invite live audiences for tapings of his eponymous GBTV show. He will also produce his radio program from the location. In a release, Beck says, “I have come to know and respect the people of Texas and could not be more excited about GBTV studios – the future home of GBTV and a multi-platform destination for the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment. We are proud to become part of the Dallas-Fort Worth area and are eager to become good neighbors and members of the local community.”
Cumulus Media Networks Names Jerry King Director of Operations in Dallas. Mike McVay recently left his consulting firm McVay/Cook & Associates to take the SVP of corporate programming at Cumulus. Now another McVay/Cook executive joins the Cumulus fold as Jerry King leaves his VP of operations and programming post there for the director of operations position with syndication arm Cumulus Media Networks in Dallas. King will oversee the network’s Dallas operations, as well as the program directors and the 24/7 satellite delivered radio programming in fourteen different formats originating from Dallas beginning January 1. Mike McVay states, “Jerry’s multi-format experience and expertise of the radio industry makes him a perfect fit for running our worldwide satellite operations as well as our diverse programming.”
Greater Media Introduces Anthony Michaels as New WLNK-FM, Charlotte PD. The talk-intensive Hot AC station features Bob & Sheri in AM drive and Matt and Ramona in PM drive. Anthony Michaels is the evening host and has served as interim PD for the station. Now, Greater Media Charlotte VP and market manager Rick Feinblatt announces Michaels’ new role as program director. “Anthony has done an amazing job as interim PD, along with his duties as APD and a night air shift. We look forward to him taking the station to the next level under his leadership.” Michaels replaces Kris Abrams who exited the post four months ago.
2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 12-16. The battle between GOP primary candidates and the issues being discussed as part of the 2012 presidential race landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart this week. The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research into the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio across America and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. Also on the chart this week at #2 is the threatened government shutdown/payroll tax cut issue. At #3 is the Iraq troop withdrawl and at #4 is NTSB cell phone ban proposal. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Dial Global’s Dennis Miller is picked up by Pamplin’s KKOV, Vancouver, Washington…..“The Handyman Show with Glenn Haege” adds WGDJ, Albany; WILS, Lansing; WGHN, Grand Haven, Michigan; and KSZL, Barstow, California.
“Johnny B” Takes Over Mornings on WGN. Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago announces Chicago radio legend Jonathon Brandmeier replaces Greg Jarrett as host of the morning drive program effective December 9. WGN vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer says, “Jonathon Brandmeier is a Chicago superstar and we’re thrilled to have him on the air at the station where he belongs. Johnny’s high energy, humor and unique Chicago experience make him an exceptional fit as ‘The Voice of Chicago’ evolves with another generation of listeners.” Brandmeier had a successful 14-year career at WLUP-AM/FM but in 1997 the station made a change and he worked at WCKG-FM, Chicago before moving to Los Angeles to host programs at KLSX-FM and KCBS-FM. He returned to WLUP-FM to host mornings from 2005 through 2009. He’s also hosted various television projects and recorded numerous music/comedy projects. The change in mornings at WGN and the ousting of Jarrett represents another move away from the programming brought to the station under the leadership of former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels and the PD he brought to WGN, Kevin Metheny. Jarrett moved to WGN in June of 2009 after spending more than eight years at KGO, San Francisco in the news department. WGN notes changes in the news department includes news anchor Steve Bertrand moving to mornings with Brandmeier and Jim Gudas shifting to middays/afternoons. While Chicagoans may welcome the return of Johnny B to the radio, some will be upset with the replacement of husband-and-wife team Steve King and Johnnie Putman in the 12:00 midnight to 5:30 am slot with Bill Leff. King has been with WGN for more than 25 years and Johnnie almost as long.
Clear Channel and Cumulus Partner Up for Two-Pronged Deal. The New York Times is reporting that Clear Channel and Cumulus – the two largest radio operators in America – have struck a deal that will give Cumulus spots for its SweetJack daily-deals program on Clear Channel radio stations and that will put Cumulus radio stations on CC’s iHeartRadio platform. Cumulus has SweetJack operating in 16 markets with plans to expand. Recently, Clear Channel struck a deal to work with daily-deals operator LivingSocial. Under the terms of the deal, all 570 Cumulus stations in 120 markets will be available on the iHeartRadio platform. Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman is quoted saying the deal provides “one more data point that proves radio is not a laggard, that we do see the future, and that we’re moving toward it in a smart and fast way.” SweetJack was created by Cumulus in April and has local market salespeople working in all 16 markets. Cumulus reports it has approximately 1 million users at this time. Clear Channel and Cumulus have a revenue-sharing deal for SweetJack. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says of the service, “SweetJack is our exciting new social commerce platform. It’s a break-through brand in a sea of sameness that’s fueled by the power of radio to connect local merchants with consumers. This agreement with Clear Channel enables us to scale SweetJack into a true nationwide platform which we believe is essential to competing successfully in this rapidly growing space.”
KGO, San Francisco Update: Peter Finch and Doug McIntyre in for Nights. In the wake of last week’s blockbuster news of the dismissal of four of its longtime talk hosts for a more news-intensive program schedule comes the news that former KFOG-FM, San Francisco morning host Peter Finch is the new 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm news anchor and Doug McIntyre’s “Red Eye Radio” is in for the 12:00 midnight to 4:00 am slot. McIntyre’s show is a Cumulus Media Networks production and costs the station nothing – in fact, it gives the company a nice San Francisco affiliate.
Kevin Straley Joins TuneIn as VP of Programming. The former XM Satellite Radio and WRKO, Boston programmer becomes vice president of programming for the free service that allows users to listen to music, sports and news from around the world. Kevin Straley – who most recently was founder and president of KMS Media Partners – will work with audio content distributors to optimize their digital strategies. TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “We’re thrilled to welcome Kevin Straley to the TuneIn executive team. His track record of building strategic relationships and working with audio partners in innovative ways will help us take the company to the next level.” TuneIn describes itself as a service that “offers over 50,000 AM, FM, HD and internet radio stations and more than one million on-demand shows and programs streaming from every continent. The company’s mobile applications are highly ranked worldwide. TuneIn is available in 10 languages across all major smart phones and tablets, connected home stereos, smart TVs, connected automobiles and online at tunein.com. Straley says, “Now, more than ever, audio content creators are looking for complimentary platforms to deliver their content to the growing audience that embraces digital…TuneIn is a powerful way to drive new listening and new opportunities for everyone.”
New Host for KLAC’s “Dodger Talk” Program Expected. The Los Angeles Daily News reports Josh Suchon and Joe Block will not be retained to host the “Dodger Talk” post-game show as the Dodgers transition to Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles this season. The Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth reports former big league manager Kevin Kennedy is likely to be the new host of the show for the 2012 season. Kennedy is a Fox Sports baseball analyst.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Launches “Holiday Giving Campaign.” The 60-year-old foundation that provides aid to broadcasters and their families in need, is kicking off its “Holiday Giving Campaign” encouraging donations and memberships at this time of year. BFoA chairman Phil Lombardo says, “The sole purpose of the Broadcasters Foundation is to provide financial relief to broadcasters in need. Through the generous support of individuals and corporations in our industry, we can maintain the ability to help colleagues whose lives have been devastated by unthinkable circumstances. I ask every broadcaster to consider making a donation or becoming a member.” This year the foundation will grant more than $675,000 in assistance – an increase of 35% over last year with more requests arriving daily. Current recipients include the family of a 20-year broadcast veteran who died of a sudden massive stroke, leaving two children and a wife who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis; an elderly couple who have outlived their savings and are saddled with enormous medical costs; and a man who in the prime of his life and at the peak of his career became paralyzed by a tragic accident that has left him confined to a wheel chair. To make a donation, please visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org, or call 212-373-8250.
It’s the End of KGO as We Know It. Since KGO, San Francisco has changed very little over the past 20 years, any change to the legendary Cumulus-owned station would seem monumental. That’s why the dismissal of KGO talk hosts Gil Gross, Gene Burns, Ray Taliaferro and John Rothmann as the station morphs into a news-intensive station is so shocking to an industry that’s seen plenty of change lately. KGO director of news and programming Paul Hosley tells the San Francisco Chronicle, “What we are doing is adding a tremendous amount of news content to KGO.” Mid-morning talk host Ronn Owens is not part of this wave of change and, according to 415 Media editor Rich Lieberman, he has a “personal services” contract with the station that runs through January of 2013. The Chronicle reports a KGO insider said that KGO has “lost its way” and hopes to reinvigorate itself with a news-driven format. The station’s positioning statement changes from “Newstalk 810” to “KGO 810 – the Bay Area News and Information Station.” KGO’s dominance in the ratings began to fade with the arrival of Arbitron’s PPM in the San Francisco market – a sign that a station with KGO’s rich heritage and special place in the hearts of San Francisco radio listeners benefitted from the diary method. The changes at KGO began with the exit of longtime operations director Jack Swanson in October. It would be easy to dismiss Cumulus’ moves as being budget related, but all-news can be an expensive format to operate and KGO will be competing with CBS Radio’s KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM on that front. Stay tuned.
Cumulus Cuts in Charleston Eliminate Local Host. Charleston, South Carolina news/talk WTMA eliminates the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm local talk show hosted by Rocky DiSabato – known as Rocky D. The gap is filled by expanding the carriage of Dial Global’s Clark Howard and Neal Boortz shows to cover the three hours.
Merlin Media’s Chicago News Station Changes Calls. All-news WWWN-FM, Chicago is now WIQI, although the station remains positioned as “FM News 101.” Merlin Media’s application for the change was requested on November 14 and it officially took place on December 1.
KBLI/KBLY, Pocatello/Idaho Falls/Blackfoot, Idaho Adds Local Shows. The Riverbend Communications duo known as Newstalk 690/1260 announces the addition of three local programs to its lineup: news and program director Tim Lewis hosts the new “Idaho’s Morning News” from 6:00 am to 9:00 am; former KIFI-TV managing editor Carissa Coats hosts “Idaho’s Midday News” from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm; and Mark Richardson is the host of “Idaho’s Afternoon News” from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Richardson and his father Mel co-host the “Probing America” show that airs from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. They will also produce a weekend version of the show.
WOAI, San Antonio Begins Elf-Louise Radio-thon. Clear Channel news/talk WOAI hosts a two-day radio-thon today (12/2) and tomorrow at the North Star Mall to raise funds to purchase gifts and sundries for San Antonio families in need during the Christmas season. WOAI personalities Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo and Charlie Parker will take part as will personalities from CC’s San Antonio music outlets. The Elf Louise Christmas project was begun by Louise Locker in 1969 when she was a student at Trinity University. Then, she and friends aided 13 families. Now, the project uses 5,000 volunteers and distributes some 60,000 gifts each year.
2012 Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM Chart of News/Talk Radio’s Top Weekly Stories. The GOP contenders to face off against President Obama in next year’s election were the most-talked-about topic on news/talk radio during the week of November 28 – December 2. Coming in at #2 was the pending government shutdown. At #3 was the Euro zone debt crisis and the global financial markets activity followed by Black Friday/Cyber Monday at #4. The Talkers TenTM, a chart of the top stories and people of the week, is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart by clicking on the banner below.
KGO and KSFO, San Francisco VP of Programming Jack Swanson and KSFO PD Ken Berry Exit Posts. In an e-mail to his staff, longtime KGO and KSFO, San Francisco programmer Jack Swanson bids adieu to the stations he’s worked at for as long as most people can remember. In the memo, Swanson – one of the most decorated talk programming veterans in the industry — praises his staff saying, “This has been a tremendous run. Cumulus is inheriting the greatest staff in the radio industry. To a person, they are all rock stars.” Ken Berry served as news director at KGO until taking the KSFO PD post in December of last year. Both are obviously victims of the Cumulus/Citadel consolidation ax. Swanson says he plans to take some time off and come back to the industry refreshed and recharged ready for his next opportunity. Meanwhile, the anxiety continues to grow among former Citadel employees currently on the Cumulus payroll as whispers of the dreaded word “bloodbath” grow louder in the hallways of the company. Last week, longtime KABC/KLOS, Los Angeles president/general manager Bob Moore was let go in similar fashion feeding into the mounting fear. Whenever there is consolidation between two recently merged companies there are going to be duplicative positions that common business sense indicates will require job cuts. However, it’s also obvious to many observers that some people are being ousted primarily because they are making more money than their new employer deems practical to pay. As the folding of Citadel into Cumulus takes place, TALKERS hears reports that some former Citadel station staffers find themselves meeting with Cumulus managers to basically “interview” for the positions they currently hold. Obviously, this is the downside of what can happen in business – especially during tough economic times and is basically unavoidable. However, because of the size of this recent acquisition and the number of stations and personnel it involves, the present state of affairs at Cumulus is significantly contributing to the jitters being felt throughout the radio industry. Stay tuned.
Liberal Activist Group Goes After Baseball for its Affiliation with Glenn Beck. The group Americans United for Change is firing up a campaign to convince Major League Baseball to stop providing Glenn Beck with the video streaming platform to bring his GBTV to the internet. It’s not common knowledge that Major League Baseball Advanced Media provides backend infrastructure, white label services, mobile app services and operational support to not only Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts but to ESPN3, March Madness on Demand, Tiger Woods.com among others and, of course, its own MLB.com. Through its “Strike Out Beck” campaign, AUFC hopes to convince MLB Advanced Media to drop its affiliation with the talk media personality it claims is a purveyor of “unhinged anti-government conspiracies, fear mongering for personal gain, sexist remarks, and race baiting.”
Doug McIntyre Ruffles Political Feathers in Hard Hitting LA Op-Ed Piece. Nationally syndicated Cumulus Media radio talk show host Doug McIntyre – also a regular columnist in L.A.’s second largest daily, the Daily News — wrote a page one editorial in yesterday’s Sunday edition blasting the Los Angeles city government as being “occupied by corruption.” Tying into his premise that the protestors participating in the “Occupy Los Angeles” demonstrations are naively being “duped” by local politicians that he claims are merely acting like supporters of the movement but actually embody all the negative qualities against which the demonstrators are protesting. McIntyre writes, “The Los Angeles City Council embodies everything that’s wrong with government in modern America. Our city is Exhibit A when it comes to special interest money tainting good government.” Read McIntyre’s full column here. McIntyre, whose “Red Eye Radio” late night program emanates from KABC, Los Angeles, will be a member of the panel titled “The Issues Facing Southern California: Challenges and Solutions” at the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum this Thursday, October 20. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison the panel also includes Roger Hedgecock of KOGO, San Diego and Radio America; Stephanie Miller of KTLK, Los Angeles and Dial Global; investigative reporter Charles Feldman of KNX, Los Angeles; Patt Morrison of KPCC-FM, Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; John Phillips of KABC, Los Angeles; Josefa Salinas of Hot 92.3 FM, Los Angeles; and LaFern Cusack of the Southern California Broadcasters Association and ESPN, Los Angeles. Considering the volatile nature of the issues facing the region which include immigration, economics, transportation, the environment and a slew of others, and the diversity of the panelists participating – the sparks will really fly! For complete details about the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum click here.
Entercom’s WMC, Memphis Flips to Sports. Speculation about the company’s plans for “Country Legends” WMC began last week when Entercom announced Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome show would move from sister sports WMFS-AM/FM to WMC. Now, Entercom will manage two sports talk stations in the market it calls the Memphis Entercom Sports Network – WMFS-AM/FM affiliated with ESPN Radio and producing live and local programming in the afternoons (Eric Hasseltine followed by the Gary Parrish Show with Geoff Calkins) and WMC affiliated with Fox Sports Radio Network and carrying Jim Rome.
Actress Janine Turner Begins Daily Syndicated Talk Show. The Texas-born actress has been hosting a two-hour weekend talk show on Cumulus’ KLIF, Dallas since 2010. Now, Janine Turner announces she’s beginning a daily program – “The Janine Turner Show – Where is Reason?” – that airs live at 2:00 pm ET and is available in national syndication via her eponymous radio network. The show can also be heard online at janineturner.com. Turner says, “I’m thrilled that the Janine Turner show has received such a positive response both from the critics and the listeners. I think what makes my show really unique is that it features thought-provoking analysis about ‘Where is Reason?’ in our country, plus an inquisitive and conversational forum with a great lineup of guests – everyone from presidential candidates and authors to actors and constitutional scholars. And I absolutely love the opportunity to include callers from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and across the nation into the ‘Where is Reason’ dialogue.”
Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels Arrested on Drunken Driving Charge. In Ohio it’s called OVI – operating a vehicle impaired – and that’s the charge Middletown, Ohio police are filing against Randy Michaels after he was found by police in his car stuck in mud and water in a construction zone around 2:00 am on Friday (10/14). Authorities noticed the smell of alcohol on Michael’s breath and administered field tests which authorities say he failed. Michaels refused a Breathalyzer test. He is expected to be in Middletown Court today. Middletown is about 35 miles north of the Cincinnati area where Michaels reportedly maintains a residence. The unconventional – some have called it “frat house” – workplace culture Michaels encourages is not surprising to many Clear Channel employees whom Michaels led for many years as president of that company’s radio division, but it ruffled the feathers of many Tribune Company employees when Michaels served as its CEO. It remains to be seen if this incident will affect Michaels’ relationship with Merlin Media’s investors, especially in light of the mounting criticism facing the recent launch of the FM news operations in New York and Chicago and their disappointing early ratings.
Hispanic Group Pickets KFI, Los Angeles in Protest of John & Ken. The National Hispanic Media Coalition held a press conference and peaceful protest outside the studios of Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles yesterday. About 35 people picketed the station’s Olive Street facilities in Burbank. The group tells L.A. Weekly that “at least three major advertisers are pulling out of the John & Ken show” and though the advertisers were not named there, the Los Angeles Times reports the activists say Verizon and AT&T have pulled advertising from the show and grocery chains Vons and Ralphs have agreed not to advertise on the show in the future. The protest and boycott were triggered after immigrant advocate Jorge-Mario Cabrera claimed to have received some 400 phone calls from John & Ken listeners after the duo gave out Cabrera’s cell number and asked listeners to tell him what they think of his support for the Dream Act which provides tuition subsidies for illegal immigrants. Initially, Clear Channel Los Angeles management agreed to meet with Hispanic leaders to discuss the issue but the meeting was canceled after one leader demanded that John & Ken be taken off the air and CC market manager Greg Ashlock refused to acquiesce to an ultimatum. Clear Channel did not address the issue of advertisers leaving the show but issued the following written statement, “Expressing your opinion is not a firing offense. KFI stands behind John and Ken and their right to speak their minds — opinions shared, incidentally, by over a million California listeners each week and protected by the First Amendment.” According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “This situation being faced by KFI in Los Angeles is a quintessential example of a whole slew of core news/talk radio concerns – special interest pressure, advertising boycotts, free speech rights, political correctness, and management resolve – all crashing together in one escalating story. It warrants the industry’s undivided attention.” The heated debate over illegal immigration as well as the managing of controversy in news/talk radio will be among the topics discussed at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum set for October 20.
CBS Radio Reportedly Interested in Annapolis FM for All-Newser. Rumors continue to swirl about CBS Radio’s interest in acquiring a DC-area FM – specifically Christian WFSI-FM, Annapolis – in order to put on its own FM all-news outlet in the Nation’s Capital. WFSI-FM is owned by evangelist Harold Camping’s Family Stations, Inc. The presence of CBS Radio Washington market manager Steve Swenson, who has a ton of experience in news having worked for years in various capacities at the company’s New York news stations WCBS and WINS, is lending credence to the rumor.
Clear Channel Promotes Brian Lekamp to President of CC Digital. Brian Lekamp moves up from his post as EVP of digital media to the newly created position. Lekamp’s duties include his responsibility for Clear Channel’s digital strategy – with its iHeartRadio service at the top of that — as well as the infrastructure, tools and social media integration for its local stations’ branded Internet properties. He will also continue to work with key partners to develop cutting-edge tools and products for all of Clear Channel’s radio, media and entertainment properties. Lekamp states, “At Clear Channel, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the best people in the business – they are smart, dedicated and focused on innovation. The development of the new iHeartRadio was supercharged with our acquisition of Thumbplay in March and our strong integrated digital team will continue to develop new digital music products and experiences that support the iHeartRadio platform and Clear Channel’s network of radio station websites. This is a team effort that I am honored to lead.”
CBS Radio Ups Mike Thomas to VP of Programming in Boston. Mike Thomas has been PD at classic rock WZLX, Boston since 2006 and has programmed WBZ-FM – 98.5 The Sports Hub – since its debut in 2009. Now, CBS Radio ups Thomas to vice president of programming for the cluster that also includes hot AC WBMX-FM, oldies WODS-FM and news WBZ. SVP and market manager Mark Hannon says, “Since Mike’s arrival at WZLX in 2006, he has built the station into a consistent ratings powerhouse. His launch of 98.5 The Sports Hub in 2009 has been one of the most successful in recent radio history, and the station being named ‘Sports Station of the Year’ at the 2011 NAB Marconi Radio Awards was a tremendous accomplishment. I look forward to using his strategic approach and programming insights to impact the overall CBS Radio stable of stations in Boston.”
CC Denver Produces Successful “Battle of the Talk Show Hosts” Live Event. The 2nd annual “Battle of the Talk Show Hosts” was produced on Thursday, October 6 by Clear Channel Denver and entertained a sold-out house at the Comedy Works Landmark in Denver. Personalities from the three Denver talk stations – KOA, KHOW and KKZN – batted around the hot issues of the day before the live audience. Taking part were: Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh, Mike Rosen, Dave Logan, Michael Brown, John Caldara and Rick Barber from KOA; Peter Boyles, Tom Martino and Dan Caplis & Craig Silverman from KHOW; and David Sirota and Thom Hartmann from KKZN. The event was heavily sponsored by local businesses and admission was charged. Pictured here are progressive talk KKZN morning host David Sirota (l) and KOA midday host Mike Rosen (r).
Buckley Broadcasting’s Jennifer Buckley Named to RAB Board. The daughter of the late Rick Buckley (once chair of the RAB board) is elected to the Radio Advertising Bureau board. Jennifer Buckley is vice president and director of sales for WOR, New York and the WOR Radio Network.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” adds WTRC-AM/FM, South Bend, Indiana for its brand new live Sunday evening show hosted by Mark Edge and Stephanie…..“The Career Clinic” with Maureen Anderson picks up affiliates WLRT, Lexington, Kentucky; KBJT, Fordyce, Arkansas; WKEI, Kewanee, Illinois; and KTUI, Sullivan Missouri.
2012 Presidential Race/999 Plan Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 10-14. The GOP race for the nomination for the 2012 presidential election and Herman Cain’s ‘999 plan’ topped the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories of the week. At #2 was the Iran assassination plot allegation. Close behind at #3 was the ‘Occupy’ protest movement and at #4 was President Obama’s Jobs Bill. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published each Friday at Talkers.com. To view the entire chart, click the banner below.
Bob Pittman Named CEO of Clear Channel Media Holdings. Acting on the faith it has in Bob Pittman to take Clear Channel into the future, the company’s board of directors announces it is naming him chief executive officer of CC Media Holdings which includes Clear Channel Radio and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings. He came aboard last November as an investor and chairman of media and entertainment platforms. Pittman’s career includes his visionary work as co-founder of the MTV Network, CEO of AOL Networks, Six Flags Theme Parks, Quantum Media, Century 21 Real Estate, and Time Warner Enterprises. In his new role he’ll join the board of directors of CC Media Holdings, Inc. and Clear Channel Communications, Inc. In addition, he will join the board of directors of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc., as its executive chairman. Bain Capital managing director John Connaughton says, “I’m thrilled we were able recruit Bob into the CEO role at Clear Channel. He is the perfect fit to lead this incredibly powerful media platform. He embraces creativity and has given employees the motivation and freedom to innovate, take risks and succeed. He thinks big, is not afraid of change and is intensely focused on driving new businesses, expanding our creative talent and maximizing the full value of Clear Channel’s extraordinary assets, ideas and people.”
NPR Announces Gary Knell CEO. He doesn’t start until December 1 but the chief of Sesame Workshop will take over the CEO post at NPR left vacant after the spring firing of former CEO Vivian Schiller. Knell’s experience in politics (working in both the California legislature and in Washington, DC as counsel) and in broadcasting make him an appealing candidate to take NPR past the controversy that has dogged it recently. NPR board chairman Dave Edwards calls Knell, “an extraordinary leader with extensive experience in public media, programming and education.” Knell tells NPR’s David Folkenflick he intends to depoliticize the company. “It’s not about liberal or conservative — it’s about fairness. We’ve got to make the case we’re delivering a fair service, not only in the way we do our jobs, but in the way we disseminate the news.”
AURN Cancels the Bev Smith Show. American Urban Radio Networks announces the Bev Smith show will cease being offered by the network after October 28. It was reported recently that Smith would wrap up production of her show due in part to illness but Smith denies that, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the cancellation is “about being a certain age and gender.” AURN president of program operations and affiliations Jerry Lopes tells the Post-Gazette that the audience for Smith’s show made it difficult to sell due to it being much older than the 25-54 demographic. “Her audience numbers were, frankly, skewing a lot older than that, which made the show less attractive to advertisers. We were forced to make some changes, and her show, unfortunately, was one of the casualties.” Smith says she is working on getting another company to support her show so it can continue. She says, “I’m the town crier. I’m the voice of people who never get a chance to express their voice. I believe in this show.”
Entercom Buffalo Names Allan Davis Program Director. Davis becomes program director at Entercom’s sports WGR, Buffalo. Davis most recently served as programmer for Genesis Communications’ stations in Tampa. He has programmed sports talk at KCSP, Kansas City; KFXX, Portland; CJCL, Toronto and more.
Katerina Perez Named Market Manager for CC Norfolk. Clear Channel announces Katerina Perez moves from her post as vice president and market manager at the company’s Melbourne, Florida cluster to the market manager position at its Norfolk, Virginia cluster.
Ian Punnett Writes Children’s Book for Halloween. Multifaceted talk show host Ian Punnett is known as somewhat of a renaissance man, between co-hosting a daily morning show in the Twin Cities with his wife of 27 years, Marge, on Hubbard Radio’s myTalk107.1FM, serving as the regular Saturday night host of Premiere Networks’ Coast to Coast AM, in addition to being the associate producer for two HD-DVD commercial productions of Minnesota Opera, an ordained pastor, a father of two sons, and a loving owner to a very peculiar dog that dreams of catching squirrels. Punnett has now immortalized his Boston Terrier, Jack, (adopted from a local rescue) in a children’s book specifically designed for the coming Halloween holiday and what he describes as today’s “edgier” young readers. Written with a “note of menace,” the book is titled, Jackula the Vampire Dog. Punnett is donating all profits generated by the sale of the book in support of children’s and animal charities nationwide. Published by Beaver’s Pond Press, the hardcover book is available for $16.95 at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell’s Books, Booktopia, and local boutique book stores. Punnett tells TALKERS, “It’s important to me to do creative work for a greater purpose. Children’s books can make kids laugh, bring families together and raise money at the same time.” No stranger to things that go bump in the night, Jackula is the story of a little girl suffering from bad dreams who takes comfort in a stray dog that watches over her while she sleeps. But the dog has a secret – a secret that’s good news for lonely little girls and bad news for the neighborhood squirrels. The book’s dark humor has earned Punnett the honor of being called “Shel Silverstein-esque.”
KGO, San Francisco Raises $200,000-Plus for Bay Area Food Banks. During a 14-hour broadcast on September 16, KGO and its listeners helped raise more than $200,000 for the Bay Area Food Banks. The KGO Fights Hunger Day Radio-thon consisted of special programming about the realities of hunger from both the KGO air staff and directly from families in the area affected by the struggle to provide healthy food even though they are employed. KGO operations director Jack Swanson says, “I am so proud of what our listeners and staff were able to accomplish in just 14 hours. This was an eye-opening experience for all of us and we all now know how much these vital services are needed in our community.” As part of the programming, KGO personalities Jennifer Jones Lee, Ronn Owens, Gil Gross kept the focus on hunger throughout the day and KGO reporters Jeffrey Schaub and Rob Artigo aired interviews and poignant profiles of food bank clients from all walks of life.
31 Survivors in 31 Days. That’s what KFBK, Sacramento morning news anchor Amy Lewis and the station are calling the breast cancer awareness campaign they are airing this month. In conjunction with the local Albie Carson Breast Cancer Foundation, Lewis is airing her interviews with 31 breast cancer survivors – one on each day this month – during morning and afternoon news. Lewis states, “Many of my friends and family are survivors of breast cancer. It was my goal to interview 31 survivors for the 31 days of October to remind people who are currently fighting it that they are not alone. No matter how long and difficult the battle might be, they’re not fighting it by themselves. Because, to fight the battle against breast cancer, to help in the research, and to someday find a cure, we have to fight it – together.”
WGN, Chicago Engineer Ed Wilk Passes Away. Longtime WGN, Chicago engineer Ed Wilk passed away last week. WGN general manager Tom Langmyer posted the following statement on his Facebook page over the weekend: “Ed was an incredible broadcast engineer and a tremendous man. He was positive, resourceful, dedicated and a man of great character & integrity. Ed worked at WGN for more than 30 years. He was a WGN family member who will be sorely missed. Condolences to Adrienne, the rest of his family and many friends.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Speak at Talkers Forum. When the closing panel, “The Issues Facing Southern California – Challenges and Solutions” takes place at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum, not only will it have the eyes and ears of the local broadcasting and media community upon it — but the mayor of the nation’s second most populated city as well. He will be in attendance preparing to deliver the concluding remarks at the first-time event that is aptly being described as a “who’s who of everybody who’s anybody in Southern California talk radio.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be the closing solo speaker at the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum being presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club on Thursday, October 20 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm rounding out what managing editor Kevin Casey calls “the most amazing roster of speakers we’ve ever seen crammed into a one-day radio industry event…this is a real happening!” More than 30 speakers including Larry King, Norm Pattiz, Bill Handel, Don Barrett, eight program directors of the leading talk stations in the region and a star-studded array of talk show hosts constitute the roster of what TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison terms “a new kind of industry gathering.” Although already filled to capacity, a stand-by registration list has been set up to fill vacancies in the case of cancellations and the entire forum will be shown shortly thereafter on TALKERS TV. For complete information click here.
Cumulus Does Some Management Restructuring in San Francisco. Specifically, KGO and KSFO general manager Deidra Lieberman becomes vice president of sales for the six-station cluster that now also includes sports KNBR. Cumulus manager Bill Bungeroth – already overseeing KNBR and music-formatted stations KFOG-FM and KSAN-FM – becomes market manager for the entire cluster. So far this is a restructuring of management and there are no reports of positions being consolidated.
WKNR, Cleveland Makes PM Drive Show Changes. Ohio Media Watch reports that Good Karma’s sports WKNR, Cleveland – unchallenged in sports talk programming until the recent debut of CBS Radio’s WKRK-FM – moves its current PM drive show “Afternoon R&R” with Michael Reghi and Kenny Roda to evenings and prepares to debut a new PM drive show on October 3 hosted by well-known market reporter Bruce Hooley and current WKNR staffers Greg Brinda and Chris Fedor. Previously, Hooley covered Ohio State Buckeyes football for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and he also worked at RadiOhio’s WBNS-AM/FM, Columbus.
Artie Lange and Nick DiPaolo Program Set to Debut. According to TMZ, former Howard Stern cast member Artie Lange and fellow comedian and one-time WFNY-FM, New York personality Nick DiPaolo have struck a deal with DirecTV to produce a pop culture-style talk show also heavy on sports for DirecTV and for radio in national syndication. The show is reportedly to begin Monday, October 3 although the story doesn’t cite any affiliate radio stations for the program. The report does state Lange and DiPaolo are to make $500,000 each per year of the three-year deal.
Buckley’s Joe Bilotta Named to BFoA Board of Directors. Buckley Broadcasting president and CEO Joe Bilotta has been named to the Broadcasters Foundation of America board of directors. Bilotta, who rose to president and CEO of Buckley Broadcasting after the passing of Rick Buckley this summer, says it’s an honor to serve on the board of an organization that gives back to the industry. “Whether it’s an emergency grant for a broadcaster whose home was devastated while they stayed on the air during a disaster, or one who experienced a tragic and unforeseen debilitating accident, the Broadcasters Foundation is there to provide aid when there is nowhere else to turn. I would encourage everyone to support this charitable mission of helping broadcasters in need.”
WGN, Chicago’s John Williams and Listeners Attempt Speed Golf World Record. In the realm of goofy station promotions, this one is up near the top. WGN midday talk host John Williams has recruited about 100 listeners to assist him in a speed golf relay format in an attempt to break the world record for the fastest round of golf played. Dubbing it “King John & His Royal Court’s Speed Golf World Record Challenge,” the golfers are assigned locations along the course in accordance with their best club as they hit the ball to each other in progression. The current world record is seven minutes and 56 seconds. But Williams says, “It’s not just a world record we’re going after. It’s a stupid world record, so that’s a natural for us. I think of this more as an excuse to have a beer by 9:00 am.”
South Bend Broadcaster Turns to Public for Format Suggestions. Artistic Media Partners has shut down the talk and sports format on WDND, South Bend after it and ESPN could not come to terms on a contract renewal to continue carrying ESPN content. For now the station at 1620 on the AM dial is simulcasting the company’s FM sister Top 40 format but company president Arthur Angotti says that’s temporary and they’re willing to hear what listeners have to say. “We’re trying not to make a decision in haste. We’ve taken a lot of calls from people wanting to know what happened and they’ve had some interesting ideas.”
2012 GOP Candidates, Iran Military Ambitions, and Obama Economic Policy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/28). The Republican candidates for president including the rise of Herman Cain in the polls, Iran’s military posturing and talk of new cruise missiles plus President Obama’s economic policies were all among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from Talkers.