More Q2 News from Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey. Yesterday TALKERS reported Cumulus Media’s second quarter revenue figures and the fact that Lew Dickey largely avoided the Rush Limbaugh-Sean Hannity flap by saying he wouldn’t discuss it because they are still in contract negotiations. He addressed other topics TALKERS readers may be interested in: those 10 “code red” stations (big news/talkers bringing down the rest of the company); the health of the CBS Sports Radio Network project for which Cumulus is handling affiliate and ad sales; and the state of network talk programming. First, Dickey told investors the number of “code red” stations is down from 10 to 1 but didn’t specify which station still lags. Second, he states the CBS Sports Radio format is on 300 affiliate stations and is exceeding its revenue plans. “We’re highly encouraged by our early success and expect CBS Sports Radio to be a material growth driver for our company in 2014 and beyond.” And third, addressing the state of the Cumulus Media Networks (which includes syndicated talk – Huckabee, Savage, “Red Eye Radio” – as well as a lot of music programming) Dickey reports it’s been a bit “choppy” but he sees it settling down. “It grew for us in the second quarter and we look for it to be positive in the back half of the year. It’s a pretty fragmented space that ultimately begs for more consolidations… it did turn in a positive performance for us in second quarter.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can see the entire conference call here.
Wall Street Journal Radio Network Executive Director Nancy Abramson to Exit Post. Radio management pro Nancy Abramson tells TALKERS the company is reorganizing its management structure and she is moving on. She says she’ll remain with the company through mid-September to assist with the transition. As for the rest of the staff with which the industry is familiar, Abramson says the affiliate team of Susan O’Connell and Susan Moran will continue to service the affiliates of “The Wall Street Journal Report,” “The Wall Street Journal This Morning,” “The Dow Jones Money Report” and “MarketWatch.com Reports.” John Wordock and Patrice Sikora will continue to oversee the news product for The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch.com Radio Networks. Abramson says she is excited about new opportunities and looking forward to the next adventure. Abramson has served with WSJRN since 1996.
Greater Media Promotes Jake McCann to Director of Sales for Detroit Stations. Jake McCann moves from Greater Media’s Philadelphia stations where he was general sales manager at sports talk WPEN “97.5 The Fanatic” and classic rock WMGK. In Detroit he’ll be in charge of sales for rock WRIF, classic rock WCSX and currently-AC-but-rumored-to-soon-be sports talk WMGC. The fact that McCann has experience selling sports talk could be part of the reason McCann is making this move if, as expected, WMGC flips to sports in August. In a statement, Greater Media Detroit market manager Steve Chessare says, “Jake is the right person to lead our three station sales operation in the Motor City. His passion, dedication and leadership are exactly what we need to take our three outstanding radio properties to the next level.”
Radio One Gives Up on FM Sports in Cincinnati. After seven months, WCFN, Cincinnati “FM 100.3 The Fan” has let go most of its staff, cut ties with CBS Sports Radio Network and flips back to an urban oldies format as “Old School 100.3.” The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports that production manager Rob Williams was the only staffer to survive the change. Tom Gamble, Richard Skinner, Will Chambers, Chad Brendel, Rick Ucchino, Rick Broering, Jeremy Lance, former Reds pitcher Joe Price, and Steve Harris all exited the station on Tuesday morning. Richard Skinner, who hosted “Two Angry Guys” along with Tom Gamble, tells Kiesewetter he’s not angry about the change, “Radio is so cyclical, that you know your time is coming (to get fired). They (Radio One) didn’t seem to have a plan of attack, and they’re pulling the format at a time of the year when all the people are listening for football and baseball.” Clear Channel operates two sports talk stations in the market – WSAI, a Fox Sports Radio affiliate and WCKY, which uses ESPN Radio programming – both of which air largely national shows.
Holland Cooke: Radio from the Newspaper. Radio consultant Holland Cooke adds to the discussion about newspapers entering into the digital talk radio streaming business that’s been a major part of industry chatter in the wake of the Boston Herald’s announcement about the creation of Boston Herald Radio coming Monday, August 5. Cooke has experience in this arena and he offers advice to publications considering the move. Among some dos and don’ts: don’t separate the studio from the newsroom (the sound of busy reporters is crucial!); don’t assume good reporters make good talk hosts; do promote you’re emanating from a storied newsroom; and do make content available for download and later playback. Read Holland Cooke’s entire piece here.
‘News 92 FM’ and ‘Yahoo Sports Radio 1560’ in Houston Agree to Content Sharing Deal. Radio One’s all-news KROI and Gow Media’s sports talk KGOW in Houston agree to a content sharing deal that will have KROI producing newscasts for KGOW and the latter producing sports updates and actualities for KROI. Here’s how it will work: Beginning in early August, “News 92 FM” reporters will provide hourly, short-form news updates to “Yahoo Sports Radio 1560,” initially for use on nights and weekends, and ramping up to a full broadcast schedule shortly thereafter. In like manner, “Yahoo Sports Radio 1560” reporters will provide sports updates and actualities twice per hour for integration into the “News 92 FM” broadcast clock between 7:00 pm and midnight daily, and from 6:00 am to noon on weekends. Radio One RVP Doug Abernethy and Gow Media CEO David Gow began discussing the possibility earlier this year. Abernethy states, “Research suggests that news and sports stations have shared listener bases. So this makes sense for both stations. We have the best newsgathering and reporting resources in the city, and ‘Yahoo Sports Radio 1560’ enjoys an equivalent reputation in the world of sports. We’re leveraging our respective strengths so that the ‘News 92 FM’ listener can get a quick sports update from ‘Yahoo Radio 1560,’ and their listeners can get top-flight news from ‘News 92 FM.’”
ZWERLING: The Smartest Programming Move I Ever Made for My Radio Stations. You might be surprised to learn which syndicated host turned out to be so spectacularly successful for outspoken, independent radio station owner Michael L. Zwerling at his widely admired AM combo of KSCO and KOMY, Santa Cruz, California that he felt compelled to share it with the entire industry. Then again, you might not. Find out the answer and more in a new exclusive TALKERS opinion piece posted today (7/31) by clicking here.
‘Broadway Joe’ Joins Sports USA for Weekly Podcast. Sports USA announces NFL great Joe Namath will join the company to produce a weekly podcast for the company during the 2013 football season. Sports USA president Bob Moore says Namath’s podcast will begin in the middle of August and run through this year’s Super Bowl. Moore states, “It doesn’t get bigger than Joe Namath! Joe is extremely passionate about football and his insights are amazing. This podcast will give him the platform to reach all of his fans across the country and beyond.” Namath comments, “I’m thrilled to join the Sports USA team with my new weekly podcast. I look forward to expressing my opinions on both the NFL and college football each week from the beginning of the season all the way through the Super Bowl.”
WTKS, Orlando’s Russ Rollins to Face Bubba the Love Sponge in Wrestling Match. Yes, you read that right. As you see in the poster here, it’ll take place at the Arena Bowl in Orlando on August 17 and feature “The Monsters” vs “Bubba’s Army” as Russ Rollins & The Demon take on Bubba the Love Sponge & Kevin Nash with Marc Mero as a special guest referee. Rollins tells TALKERS it’s the “Battle of the #1 morning shows!” and pits Clear Channel against Cox Media in front of 15,000 to 16,000 screaming fans!
2016 Presidential Race, Weiner Sexting Scandal, NSA Surveillance Program, ObamaCare Implementation, and Bradley Manning Verdict Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/30). The possible candidates in the 2016 presidential election; the ongoing backlash from the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal; new developments in the NSA surveillance program case; the costs of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; and the verdict against Bradley Manning in the Wikileaks case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Les Moonves Still Says CBS Likes Radio. If CBS is interested in selling its radio properties, CBS president and CEO Les Moonves isn’t spilling the beans. CBS presented at Deutsche Bank’s DbAccess 21st Annual Media and Telecom Conference yesterday and when asked by Deutsche Bank’s Douglas Mitchelson about the flat performance of radio in general, Moonves said the company still likes radio for its cash. “We like radio. Once again, low-single digit growth, revenue, OIBDA. It’s still a very great cash business with great margins. We still like running it. We have no intent to sell it as many people are watching terrestrial radio today as watching 10 years ago, even with all these things going on with satellite and everything else. It is what it is. We like the business, it produces cash every year. We like having the amount of cash we have, where our balance sheet is certainly in great shape, partially because of radio.”
Cumulus-Cox Suit Over Birmingham Sports Programmer Settle; PD Returns to WJOX. The battle between sports talkers WJOX – owned by Cumulus Media – and crosstown start-up WZNN – owned by Cox Media Group but soon to be officially acquired by SummitMedia along with Cox’s other Birmingham stations – has been a hotbed of legal action over the past couple of years. But as the closing by SummitMedia on WZNN “97.3 The Zone” nears, one battle appears to have been settled. Programmer Ryan Haney – who jumped from WJOX to WZNN back in late January only to have his move challenged in court by Cumulus – returns to WJOX. The Birmingham News reports neither side is commenting on any such deal. Haney’s contract had expired more than two years ago but he’d been working as an at-will employee. He left WJOX the same day popular sports talk personality Paul Finebaum left at the expiration of his contract. Finebaum is not working in the business as he is expected to join WZNN after his non-compete expires.
So, You Want to be Syndicated? Noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke says, “I can help you…but first, can I talk you out of it? Even though being syndicated seems to be the dream of most local or even wannabe radio talk show hosts, having your show run on a string of stations around the country is a goal that 1) is extremely difficult to attain; and 2) might not be worth the effort at this point in the industry’s evolution. Read Holland Cooke’s fascinating, eye-opening explanation of what you will be facing, in addition to suggesting workable and realistic alternatives, in a blunt, informative article by clicking here.
KYW, Philadelphia Promotes Cherri Gregg to Community Affairs Reporter. CBS Radio all-news KYW, Philadelphia ups reporter Cherri Gregg to community affairs reporter. In this new role, Gregg will be shedding light on the numerous issues, neighborhoods and area leaders affecting community life in the Delaware Valley across a variety of time periods for the station. Gregg joined KYW in 2011 as a general assignment reporter while completing a Masters in Journalism at Temple University. She came to the station from the legal field where she had practiced for eight years at two Am-Law 100 law firms. The company says that although she enjoyed the practice of law, her true passion is reporting on stories that matter to the community. In January 2010, she quit her job at a top Philadelphia law firm to pursue her passion full time. Director of news and programming Steve Butler states, “Cherri has been a terrific addition to the KYW Newsradio staff and we’re pleased she will be focusing on developing stories from the grass roots, Covering all aspects of the Delaware Valley community is job-one for our staff, and we’re glad to have her continue that Newsradio legacy.”
KGOW, Houston Shuffles Lineup; Granato and Pendergast to PM Drive. The lineup at Gow Broadcasting’s KGOW, Houston will feature Yahoo! Sports Radio morning personality Steve Czaban and current AM drivers John Granato and Sean Pendergast will move to the PM drive slot beginning Monday, March 11. The Houston Chronicle reports Adam Clanton and John Wessling – the afternoon drive team since last August have exited the station. In the Chronicle piece, owner David Gow addresses the station’s recent poor ratings which have failed to have the station appear in the most recent survey. “We look forward to our ratings coming back up with this lineup. We’ve been frustrated with the Arbitron results for a period of months. But the driving factor is the chance to put together this new lineup that will roll out on Monday.” Czaban will be followed by DIRECTV/Fox Sports Radio’s Dan Patrick with John Harris hosting the 11:00 am to 3:00 pm program.
Odds & Sods. Sports USA is presenting exclusive national terrestrial radio coverage of all three legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown. The company is partnering with Mike Penna’s Horse Racing Radio Network for the events. Each two-hour broadcast will begin at 5:00 pm ET and will feature the live call of each race from the track announcer along with live trackside reports…..ESPN Radio’s Championship Week coverage begins with the inaugural “Greenberg & Greenberg in the Morning” show this Friday, March 8 from 6:00 am to 10:00 am ET where Mike Greenberg will be joined by former Virginia Tech men’s head basketball coach Seth Greenberg for a hoops-heavy, four-hour broadcast. The network is also airing the Big 12 Semifinals and Championship as well as every game of the ACC Tournament……SiriusXM teams former NFL QB Rich Gannon with Bruce Murray for “The SiriusXM Blitz” program that airs weekdays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm ET on its NFL Radio channel.
A Capitol Idea. KARN-FM, Little Rock afternoon drive host and program director Dave Elswick is hosting live broadcasts twice per week from the Arkansas State Capitol in order to keep his listeners up-to-date on the latest state political news (and, of course, Dave’s opinions concerning said news!). Pictured here at a recent broadcast from the capitol building are (from l-r): guest host Laurie Lee, Elswick, Saline County Clerk Dennis Milligan, and Arkansas Tea Party activist David Crowe.
Sequestration Issue, North Korea Threats/Dennis Rodman Remarks, Iran Nuclear Build-Up, Surging Dow, and Jeb Bush in 2016 Rumors Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/4). The ongoing sequestration issue; North Korea’s threats against South Korea and Dennis Rodman’s cozying up to Kim Jong-Un; Iran’s nuclear build-up; the surging Dow Jones industrial average; and Jeb Bush’s not ruling out a run for president in 2016 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Sean Hannity Re-Ups with Fox News Channel. There had been rumors that Fox News Channel prime time superstar (and Premiere Networks radio talk show star) Sean Hannity was negotiating with the News Corp. cable news/talk giant and now it’s announced the two sides have agreed on a long-term extension. The duration and money details are few but it’s being reported the new contract keeps Hannity at FNC for “the foreseeable future.” Hannity is the second-most-watched FNC show after Bill O’Reilly and a major part of its prime time success. Hannity is quoted saying, “It’s been an honor and privilege to work alongside the incredible team at Fox News, whose talent is unparalleled. In true Roger Ailes form, he saw something in me that no one else did and afforded me the opportunity to achieve incredible success. I look forward to many more years to come.” The news of Hannity’s extended relationship with Fox comes at a perfect time – two weeks before the New Media Seminar in New York City at which he will be personally hosting a special breakfast for all attendees followed by delivering the power-packed event’s keynote speech. For information about the industry-only conference set for Thursday, June 7 call 413-565-5413. Today is the final day to register. To see the complete agenda click here.
TALKERS Top Talk Audiences Winter Report Shows News/Talk Holding Steady. In today’s highly polarized political climate, there is a tendency toward news/talk radio ratings to be selectively cherry-picked and trumpeted for the purpose of propagandizing partisan interests. A recent example of this is on display as the normal rises or dips in Rush Limbaugh’s PPM numbers during the two months following the Sandra Fluke controversy are touted by political action groups as a referendum on the public’s reaction to the story and reflective of the nation’s political and social mindset in general. The truth, as broadcasting professionals realize, is that radio ratings are a complex and inexact process that can only be indicative of measurable trends when looked at over time and distance, taking a multitude of factors into account – especially during the current bumpy transition to the PPM system and the merging of significantly different research paradigms. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “The mainstream media approaches radio ratings as though they were motion picture box office numbers or last night’s horse racing results. The political groups, of course, play into that. As a result, the public is getting a very inaccurate picture of the reality of this business from skewed partisan perspectives. Both sides are shamelessly doing this. Our business has become a political football which is not a good thing.” The latest installment of TALKERS magazine’s quarterly audience estimates of the most-listened-to news/talk radio hosts (Winter 2012) has been posted today. See it here.
Gow Communications to Buy KFNC-FM, Houston. That station, along with KHJK-FM, Houston, was put into a pre-packaged bankruptcy proceeding by former owner Cumulus Media last year. The stations are majority owned by media broker Lawrence Patrick with the rest owned by creditors. Now, the Houston Chronicle’s David Barron reports David Gow’s Gow Communications (which operates sports KGOW, Houston and Yahoo! Sports Radio) is the winning bidder for the FM signal and has signed a letter of intent to buy it. Barron reports KFNC-FM billed $2.4 million in 2011.
Sports Talk Radio Scene in Salt Lake City Becoming Clearer. With the recently announced purchase of KZNS-AM/FM by the Larry H. Miller Group – owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz – and Cumulus Media’s dedication to keeping former Jazz flagship and crosstown competitor KFNZ a sports outlet by simulcasting the Yahoo! Sports Radio content currently heard on its KJQS, there’s been a lot of turmoil in the Salt Lake City radio sports scene but the picture is clearing. LHM Group will split the AM and FM signals of KZNS. The FM side will feature “Fox Sports Daybreak” in AM drive, local hosts Jake Scott and Tony Parks from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, FSRN’s “Loose Cannons” from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and FSRN’s Petros & Money from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The AM side will consist of local hosts David James and Patrick Kinahan in AM drive, Jim Rome from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, local hosts Scott Garrard and Jake Scott from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, local hosts Spencer Checketts and Gordon Monson from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and local host Steve Brown from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Both stations will air “Fox Sports Tonight” and FSRN’s JT the Brick. Meanwhile, across town at Utah Radio Acquisition’s KALL – ESPN 700 – former KZNS-AM/FM host Hans Olsen joins the Bill Riley PM drive show effective June 4.
Talk Radio Legend Barry Farber Releases New Book; Will Be Honored at New Media Seminar in New York on June 7. Pioneering talk radio host Barry Farber is publishing his new book, Cocktails with Molotov (WND Books 2012) on June 5. The book is described as “a collection of real life short stories that Farber has somehow found himself involved in, where you’ll read of his encounters with Alfred Hitchcock, the King of Albania, and Buzz Aldrin; of his knowledge of 26 foreign languages and how foreign language came through for him in the nick of time. He shares tales from his childhood in North Carolina and his time spent venturing abroad, from his life as a young reporter and as a seasoned journalist, along with astounding narratives of everything in between.” Rush Limbaugh is quoted speaking of Farber. “Barry Farber was a standout when it was difficult to get a talk show. Unlike today, very few people hosted such shows in Barry’s era. You had to be among the best to be hired to host long-form talk. Barry Farber was…the best. He was defining. He’s always been in rarified air.” Barry Farber will be honored with the “TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award” at the New Media Seminar on New York City on Thursday, June 7.
KRLD-FM, Dallas Names Jane Slater and Chris Arnold to Talent Roster. The CBS Radio sports talk station brings Jane Slater over from its news sister KRLD where she was morning drive reporter to co-host the midday show with Mark Elfenbein for the “Elf and Slater” midday show. The daypart opened up when Josh Lewin accepted the New York Mets play-by-play gig. In evenings, the station adds market sports pro Chris Arnold to Gavin Dawson’s “The G-Bag Nation” program which is expanding to the 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot to cover for the departed Arnie Spanier. In a statement, VP of news/talk/sports programming Bruce Gilbert says, “The addition of Jane and Chris to the full-time staff at 105.3 The Fan illustrates our commitment to be the live and local sports talk station. Their characteristics, personalities and unique perspectives emphasize our goal to be the voice of the many diverse sports fans across North Texas.”
Federated Media Flips Two Music FMs to Sports Talk. A new four-station sports talk brand dubbed “The Fan” is being created by Federated Media. The latest station to announce a flip is South Bend-market classic rock WAOR-FM (licensed to Nappanee, Indiana). The stations (including WFGA-FM, Ft. Wayne; WLEG-FM, Elkhart, Indiana; and WNIL, Niles, Michigan) will carry local sports talk shows in morning and afternoon drive and carry Fox Sports Radio Network programming the rest of the day. Federated Media chief operating officer Brad Williams says in a statement, “We are thrilled to bring sports talk to Northern Indiana. We are a sports-hungry region and now our customers and clients can consume and partner with our stations and Fox Sports Radio 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” The changes take place June 4.
United Stations Radio Networks Develops Weekly NASCAR Show. The weekly one-hour program titled, “The Final Lap Weekly” is being hosted by Kerry Murphey and Toby Christie. Murphey is the producer and host of USRN’s daily feature, “The Final Lap,” which is heard on more than 200 affiliate stations. USRN EVP of programming Andy Denemark states, “2012 has been another solid year for NASCAR racing with TV viewership and track attendance both up. At the same time, sports radio is growing exponentially, so we felt it was a great time to bring a new long-form racing talk show to the airwaves. Kerry Murphey is a proven winner, his team covers the sport like no one else, and this is a great brand extension for Kerry and ‘The Final Lap.’” The show debuts the weekend of June 2-3.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. WLAC, Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill begins a promotion with the Nashville Daily’s chain of gas stations to offer 150 listeners up to 15 gallons of gas at just $1.84 per gallon – January 2009 prices – beginning Tuesday, May 29. Listeners must tune in to Gill to know which location is offering the bargain…..Journal Broadcasting names Mike McQuilliam promotions and marketing director for the company’s Wichita operations…..CBS Radio’s WCCO, Minneapolis extends its contract with University of St. Thomas to air its football games through the 2013 season.
2012 Presidential Race Top Talk Radio Topic for 8th Consecutive Week. The battle between challenger Mitt Romney and President Obama in this year’s presidential campaign was again the #1 story on the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories and people on news/talk radio for the week of May 21-25. At #2 was the Euro Zone crisis. Following at #3 was the financial markets activity and at #4 was Facebook IPO troubles. The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Fox Sports Radio Network adds four new affiliates owned by Federated Media. WFGA-FM, Ft. Wayne; WAOR-FM, South Bend; WLEG-FM, Elkhart, Indiana; and WNIL, Niles, Michigan all begin carrying FSRN programming, including Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, “Loose Cannons,” Petros & Money, “Fox Sports Tonight” and more beginning June 4…..WRDU-FM, Raleigh – Rush Radio 106.1 – adds the Allan Handelman show to its weekend lineup. Handelman’s program was the afternoon drive show at WZKT-FM, Burlington, North Carolina until a recent format flip…..KUFO, Portland picks up Talk Radio Network’s “Watchdog on Wall Street with Chris Markowski”…..“Armed American Radio” with Mark Walters adds six new stations to his affiliate roster including: WGWD-FM, Tallahassee; WWNS, Statesboro, Georgia; and WKEI, Kewanee, Illinois.