Tag: "Kirk Minihane"
Journal Communications Announces Merger of Broadcast Operations with E.W. Scripps. In a surprise move – at least as far as the public is concerned – Journal Communications announced late Wednesday (7/30) that it has struck a deal with Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps to merge the two companies’ broadcast operations into one company and to spin off their respective print businesses and merge them into a separate company that will also be publicly traded. The Journal Broadcast Group will go away and the broadcast operations will continue under the Scripps banner. The newspaper and print businesses will operate under the Journal Media Group banner. This means an exit for Scripps from the print business. In a video message, Journal Communications chairman and CEO Steve Smith states, “These two independent companies will build upon the strong local brands Journal and Scripps have built over the years.” The newspaper company – with 14 dailies and affiliated digital media – will be headquartered in Milwaukee. Scripps owns only TV stations and, after the merger is complete, the new group will be the fifth largest television group in the country – with 34 TV stations in 24 markets – with Journal’s radio assets also in that group. Journal operates 35 radio stations in eight markets. WXYZ-TV, Detroit reports that Scripps CEO Richard Boehne states the companies will gain about $35 million in “combined transaction synergies” but he said it would be months before it would be known if there would be staff reductions or requests for employees to relocate. The deal, pending regulatory approval, is expected to close in 2015. Since Scripps owns no radio assets, there are no duplicative positions there but the question to be asked is how dedicated to the radio business will E.W. Scripps be? Will it ultimately put them up for sale? Only time will tell.
Cumulus Strikes Deal with CNN for Radio News Product. The product will not be branded CNN but will allow stations to make the content that comes from CNN Newsource their own. A statement from Cumulus Media today about the news service to be made available via Westwood One, says, this new service will offer radio stations nationwide access to broadcast, breaking news, wire service and digital content provided by CNN for use on the air and on their websites. Westwood One owns the patented STORQ technology that Cumulus says provides a local feel to syndicated content. “The addition of this new service will for the first time enable local radio stations to broadcast the latest national and international news acquired by CNN but branded with their own call letters and station slogans.” Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says, “Our affiliates and advertising partners know they can count on us for news and information products that reflect how people today consume content through various platforms, and this exclusive access to CNN’s newsgathering will ensure we can provide stations nationwide an unmatched array of news formats.” Dickey described the service to the New York Post calling it a “differentiated product. For some who want hard news, this isn’t the service, but there are fewer of those types of stations across the country. The emphasis is more on shorter stories, less hard news and ‘give it to me when I want it.’” Cumulus Media’s Westwood One reps other news services – including ABC, NBC, CBS and CNBC Business Radio. CNN shut down the CNN Radio division two years ago.
Fox TV and Entercom Mend Fences – and Restore $$ — After Minihane Comments. Some industry insiders were critical of Fox TV’s dropping advertising on Entercom-owned stations after WEEI-FM, Boston’s Kirk Minihane made controversial comments about Fox TV reporter Erin Andrews – charging Fox with pulling the boycott strategy. However it appears the move by Entercom CEO David Field to apologize and to suspend Minihane for a week placated Fox and, according to a story by Chad Finn in the Boston Globe, the company will resume its advertising of its TV shows and movies on Entercom stations which is reportedly in the neighborhood of $1 million per year. Fox Sports SVP of media relations Lou D’Ermilio stated, “We appreciate Entercom’s recognition and response to the inappropriate comments made by the WEEI host. It is our sincere hope both organizations can now move forward.” Finn reports Entercom Boston VP and market manager Phil Zachary commented, “On our end, we consider the matter 100 percent resolved.” Read the whole story here.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: “The Talk Rumble.” Today (7/31) marks the 13th consecutive business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with a Talkers Conference tradition – “The Talk Rumble.” Moderated by the dynamic multi-media talk star Lionel of LionelMedia.com with a special introduction by syndicated icon, Dr. Joy Browne of Radio America, the freewheeling debate of today’s hottest talk radio issues features: Bubba the Love Sponge, Bubba Radio Network; Alan Colmes, Fox News Radio/FNC; Mike Gallagher, Salem Radio Network; Thom Hartmann, WYD Media; Joyce Kaufman, WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale; Kevin McCullough, XtreMEDIA; and David Webb, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. To view this spoken word extravaganza, please click here. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Questions About Political Correctness. WFAN, New York sports talk host Richard Neer writes in an opinion piece published today at Talkers.com, that although he believes we should all avoid words or phrases that are likely to offend, he fears that “a ‘gotcha’ mentality is running amok, looking to punish anyone who has the temerity to take an unpopular stand.” Neer points to two recent cases – one involving Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the other Stephen A. Smith’s current suspension from ESPN – in which both men went to great lengths to clarify statements that many people would, upon hearing the clarification, not find offensive. Still, the controversy continued and in Smith’s case, he was suspended. Read Neer’s insightful piece here.
Larry King Says Piers Morgan Failed Because He Was ‘Pompous.’ Appearing on Cumulus Media’s classic rock WGRF, Buffalo on the “Norton in the Morning” show via Envision Networks’ Guest Services booking service, radio and TV legend Larry King – promoting his “Larry King Now” daily interview show that appears on Ora.tv and Hulu.com – told the show’s listeners that Piers Morgan had a tough transition to replace him as host of the CNN interview show. “Any person who has been on for 25 years in one place and you have an audience who is used to you…it’s very hard to step into those shoes no matter who it is.” Speaking about Morgan, King said, “Personally, I like him fine, but it was all about him. It was the opposite of the way I interview. He was the opposite. So now they not only had someone who was British, different, but then he would use the word ‘I’ every other word…He became, I thought a bit, in my opinion, pompous, but that’s the way I looked at it. So I had trouble watching Piers Morgan’s show, and I guess a lot of other people did too.”
Dan Le Batard Denied LeBron James Ad by Cleveland Plain Dealer. It’s hard to say how far along ESPN and WAXY, Miami sports talk host Dan Le Batard was in actually trying to place an ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer to get a dig in at LeBron James, but the paper forestalled any such plan by saying it would not accept the ad, according to a report in the Washington Post. The paper reports Le Batard was discussing the Miami Heat fans’ reaction to James’ departure for Cleveland and he suggested taking out an ad similar to the mock-up you see here that would razz James for not thanking Miami fans after his four-year stint with the Heat. Le Batard jokingly suggested a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money for the ad. Still, for Le Batard’s part, he got a fair amount of national press over the bit.
Odds & Sods. The nationally syndicated Leslie Marshall show – produced by WYM Media – permanently shifts its live broadcast time to 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET…..Red Rock Radio Corp. is flipping two stations – standards WXCE, Amery, Wisconsin and standards WHSM-AM, Hayward, Wisconsin – to sports talk using NBC Sports Radio effective August 4.
Obama Impeachment Chatter/House Obama Suit Vote, Ebola Outbreak Scare, Gaza Strip Violence, Flight 17 Probe/Russia’s Ukraine Aggression, Lerner’s Anti-GOP Emails, and Stephen A. Smith Suspension Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/30). The controversy over possible impeachment of President Obama and the Dem’s purported use of the threat in fundraisers combined with the U.S. House’s vote to sue the president for unconstitutional actions; the Ebola outbreak scare; Israel’s continuing attack on Hamas in the Gaza Strip; the investigation into the downing of Flight 17 and the complications due to Ukrainian instability and Russia’s involvement; the flap over IRS staffer Lois Lerner’s anti-GOP emails; and ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith’s suspension for his comments on the Ray Rice suspension were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Emphatic Fox To Entercom: Apology Denied. After returning from a planned vacation last week, WEEI-FM, Boston morning personality Kirk Minihane reignited the controversy he started with criticism of Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews’ All-Star Game work by reiterating his disdain for her work. But even his bosses at Entercom, who had been supportive, had to backtrack and he’s now been suspended for this week – without pay. To recap, the unbilled member of the Dennis & Callahan morning show on WEEI had some disparaging things to say the day after the broadcast about an in-game interview conducted by the network’s Erin Andrews. Perhaps only St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright will be the only person to know for certain if he made it a bit easier for Derek Jeter – appearing in his final All-Star contest – to smack a first-inning double, which was the catalyst for three quick AL runs in that frame. Social media was buzzing that Wainwright had indicated he might have grooved the pitch Jeter hit. Andrews questioned Wainwright about it and the pitcher backtracked from that notion, and he said Jeter’s hit was on the up-and-up. Apparently though, the televised exchange between this year’s co-host of (ABC-TV‘s) “Dancing with the Stars” and Wainwright did not sit well with Minihane, who declared of Andrews, “What a bitch – I hate her. What a gutless bitch. Seriously, go away. Drop dead. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with her? First of all, follow-up. Second of all, the guy admitted he did it – he admitted it. He told reporters he threw a couple of ‘pipe-bombs.’ How is that social media’s fault? I hate her – I seriously hate her so much.” A Minihane-issued statement was posted Wednesday night (7/16) on the WEEI website that read: “I used a series of words to describe Erin Andrews’ work at the All-Star Game. My choice of words was wrong. I was wrong to have used them. To all whom I offended – particularly Ms. Andrews – I apologize. There is no place for what was said. It was immature and completely uncalled for. I am often critical of media members and their work and recognize here that I’ve made the kind of mistake I would call out if it was done by another sportscaster or writer. Again, to all involved, I’m very sorry.” But upon returning last week, he commented on the issue and lashed out at Andrews again, saying, “I think she stinks at her job. I don’t think she’s very smart. I don’t think she comes across as very smart. I think Fox only hired her because she is good-looking. I think if she weighed 15 pounds more, she would be a waitress at Perkins. That is what I believe, I do believe that.” It was probably that last comment that prompted Fox Sports president Eric Shanks to inform Entercom the company was pulling its entertainment and sports-related adds off of all Entercom stations and it was that move that brought Entercom CEO David Field into the mix. In the letter to Field, Shanks wrote that Minihane’s comments were “boorish and sexist.” Shanks further maintains that Minihane’s apology was “juvenile and insincere.” Furthermore, the Fox executive writes, “I had hoped by this time we might hear a sincere apology from WEEI, or perhaps someone from your office might have reached out to Fox. None of that has been forthcoming, and needless to say, we are disappointed.” According to Shanks, through film and television businesses, Fox is “a significant advertiser on Entercom stations. I have discussed this issue with our senior management and our various senior marketing executives. At their recommendation, going forward, Fox’s entertainment and sports businesses will not be advertising on your stations for the foreseeable future.” Field reacted by commenting, “Kirk Minihane’s statements regarding Erin Andrews were offensive and deplorable. It is clear by the response from our listeners, advertisers, and employees that Kirk’s efforts to apologize and make this right have been insufficient and ambiguous. We want to make it unequivocally clear that his comments were unacceptable and do not reflect Entercom’s values and standards.” As far as Shanks is concerned, the situation was made “worse,” owing to the fact that the “apology was posted under a banner hailing ‘The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane.’” Seemingly lost in the wake of pulled advertising dollars corporate-wide and having to suspend an on-air personality is the fact that in the latest (6+) trends (June 2014), WEEI-FM (3.3) beat cross-town CBS Radio format rival WBZ-FM “The Sports Hub” (2.9) for the first time (total week, 6+) in nearly two years. The last time it happened was August 2012, when WEEI-FM had the advantage over WBZ-FM by a 4.3 – 3.7 count (6+). WBZ-FM won each battle the rest of the year by 4.5 – 4.1 (September); 4.6 – 2.8 (October); 4.1 – 2.5 (November) 4.4 – 3.0 (December); and 4.6 – 2.7 (“Holiday”). The closest WEEI-FM came to WBZ-FM in 2013 was one-tenth in August (3.9 – 3.8); WBZ-FM’s largest (6+) lead in 2013 was in May (5.7 – 2.9). Thus far in 2014, “The Sports Hub” has emerged victorious over WEEI-FM (6+) in January (5.6 – 3.4); February (4.5 – 2.8); March (4.7 – 2.7); April (4.3 – 3.3); and May (5.1 – 3.4). As noted, WEEI-FM beat WBZ-FM in June (3.3 – 2.9, 6+). It will be interesting to see how Entercom handles this situation because the ratings for the Dennis & Callahan show have improved since Minihane joined the show and numerous Boston media watchers agree that his addition has breathed new life into the program.
Stephen A. Smith to Exit WEPN-FM for SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio Channel. That’s according to a report by The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman who writes that Stephen A. Smith will soon exit ESPN O&O WEPN-FM where he co-hosts the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daily show with Ryan Ruocco to host his own program on the satellite service – reportedly in the same time slot that would lead into Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s afternoon drive show. Raissman also suggests that a move to SiriusXM could be interesting for the controversial Stephen A. Smith, who caused a stir by his comments in reaction to the two-game suspension the NFL star Ray Rice received for punching out his wife in an elevator. Read Raissman’s column here.
KFWB, Los Angeles to Flip from News/Talk to Sports. Officials at the KFWB Trust are being tightlipped about the reports but LARadio.com’s Don Barrett is reporting that KFWB staffers were called to a meeting on Friday, July 25 and informed their jobs would go away in five weeks when the format changes. Barrett reports that staffers told him the station would go to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network which would bring Jim Rome back to the Los Angeles market. He’s been gone from his home market since jumping from Premiere Networks to CBS Sports 18 months ago. Some are questioning whether LA needs another sports talk outlet but it’s probably less about what the market “needs” and more about getting CBS Sports Radio and Jim Rome back into the Los Angeles market. It’d also be a heck of a lot less expensive to program network sports than a mix of network and local news/talk.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: Jerry Del Colliano Delivers Special Presentation, “Radio in the Digital Age.” Today (7/28) marks the 10th consecutive business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with a special presentation titled “Radio in the Digital Age” delivered by Inside Music Media publisher Jerry Del Colliano. The longtime industry observer, analyst, and maverick draws upon his experience as both a professional radio broadcaster and former professor of music industry at USC to explain how the traits of the large, coming-of-age millennial generation do not quite mesh with the approach taken by most of the boomers running radio stations today. He implored the full house of broadcasters in attendance to heed the warning, “We must change! We must disrupt! Because the audience is changing.” To view this entire presentation, please click here. Coming tomorrow: A panel discussion moderated by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey titled “The State of Talk Programming.” Featured speakers include: Andy Bloom, OM, WPHT/WIP, Philadelphia; Phil Boyce, VP/spoken word programming, Salem Communications; Bill Hess, PD, WMAL, Washington, DC; Gabe Hobbs, CEO, Gabe Hobbs Media; and Craig Schwalb, PD, WABC, New York. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Odds & Sods. Although Stoney Richards is leaving his role at CBS RADIO Pittsburgh’s country WDSY where he’s been APD, music director and afternoon drive personality in order to pursue his acting career, he will maintain his weekend talk show on the company’s news/talk KDKA-AM where he hosts the “Live From The Centre” program…..Speaking of KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh, the station is partnering with local The Education Partnership to help provide new school and classroom supplies to local schools in financial need. This Wednesday (7/30), it will host a call-center in the 84 Lumber Theatre at CBS RADIO Pittsburgh from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm to answer listener questions, collect monetary donations and serve as an outlet for those looking for volunteer opportunities. Also, an onsite collection will take place at KDKA’s studios for the project dubbed “Crayons for Kids.” KDKA-AM morning news host Larry Richert comments, “When I first learned of the great need in our hometown I was shocked! The Education Partnership is such a lean and vital organization. With our help we can deliver on the basic needs of 30,000-plus school students who count on having the basics to learn and grow, starting with crayons!”…..In response to the comments by TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison published by the Boston Herald about the current state of news/talk radio in Boston relative to its colorful past, general manager Phil Redo – now with public broadcaster WGBH, Boston – checks in with his take. He tells TALKERS that (former WTKK-FM, Boston personalities) “Jim Braude and Margery Eagan (pictured here) are doing a fabulous show for us here on WGBH Radio. They have been on the air for nearly 18 months and made a smooth transition from commercial to public. Each day they explore a wide range of topics, from the top local news stories to connecting the dots on major national and international events. They provide an important access point for this community – and to the decision makers who will impact each of us by those decisions. In addition, the governor and AG show up every month to host an hour – as does Boston’s new mayor. Their show Boston Public Radio has grown from below a 1.0 share to above a 4.0 share and in June, ranks in the top 10 both 6+ and 25-54 during their 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot…They have done so well that we’re expanding the program to three hours this fall.”
Unusual General Manager/Sales Manager Opportunity at Talk Station Owned by an “Eccentric.” The self-described “eccentric” (we agree) owner of one of the nation’s leading independent local talk radio stations, KSCO AM 1080, Santa Cruz/Monterey/Salinas/Silicon Valley, Michael Zwerling, is looking for a general manager/sales manager to bring his station’s monthly ad billing up from “a laughable $30,000 per month” (his words not ours) to a “more respectable and completely do-able $300,000 per month.” Asked how a station billing only $30,000 in monthly ad revenue could be considered anything even REMOTELY deserving of being described as “one of the nation’s leading independent local talk radio stations,” Zwerling retorts, “Easy — ad sales have never been our focus in the past; we have done and continue to do very well, thank you, with our ‘royalties from radio’ revenue model we have employed for nearly 18 years. Yet we continue to serve our communities FAR better than most corporate-owned stations, and far better than most other independent stations that can’t AFFORD to serve their communities.” Zwerling continues, “But I started to feel like a fool recently when I realized that just because we don’t NEED to sell advertising — doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t TRY to sell as much advertising as possible — just like any other station being run by anyone with even HALF a brain!” According to Zwerling, the sky is the limit in terms of unique opportunity for the right person with “fire in his/her belly” to bring an additional $270,000 PER MONTH ad revenue into KSCO. But there is a catch. To read the entire story penned by TALKERS staff writer Mona Lipschitz, please click here.
WABC, New York’s Mark Levin to Host Cumulus Media’s “Bark in the Park” Event. The 4th Annual “Bark in the Park” event presented by Cumulus Media’s New York stations WABC, WPLJ, WNSH “NASH FM 94.7,” and WNBM “Radio 103.9” is being hosted by WABC personality Mark Levin Saturday, August 2 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. The stations are teaming up with the North Shore Animal League America and Bergen County Animal Shelter/Adoption Center which will be on site with many dogs up for adoption. The mission is to find a home for as many puppies as possible. Additionally, the day will feature a wide array of vendors, services, food, demonstrations, and activities for families and dog lovers alike.
Apple to Acquire Spoken-Word Aggregator Swell. According to a report in re/code, Apple is paying approximately $30 million to acquire the company Swell, whose current app creates a stream of spoken-word content delivered to iPhones and iPads based on the user’s likes. Liz Gannes writes in her piece that with the acquisition, the Swell app will go away and some analysts believe Apple will integrate the service into existing services such as iTunes Radio. Read Gannes’ re/code story here.
Yahoo! Sports Radio Invades Las Vegas! The crew pictured here is Yahoo! Sports Radio network talent in Las Vegas as the network “took over” Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo Hotel and Casino during the week of July 21-25 broadcasting live for what it dubbed, “Yahoo! Sports Radio Super Week.” From left to right are: Air personalities Steve Czaban, Scott Linn, Geoff Ketchum, Sean Salisbury, Yahoo! Sports Radio CEO David Gow, personalities John Granato and Peter Brown.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: Thom Hartmann, Multi-Platform Talk Show Host, Receives TALKERS Freedom of Speech Award. Today (7/25) marks the ninth consecutive business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with part 4 of the event’s traditional “Talkers Awards Ceremony,” emceed by legendary Westwood One talk show host Jim Bohannon and featuring the presentation of the Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech to multi-platform progressive talk show host, Thom Hartmann. The presentation is made by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, who tells the audience that he personally and his organization [TALKERS magazine and Talk Media, Inc.] are “vehemently non-partisan,” however, also “vehemently supportive of the First Amendment.” Harrison says, “Doing talk radio is extremely dangerous. Exercising free speech is not only dangerous because, throughout most of history and in much of the world, you can be shut down by the government and thrown in jail – you can also be KILLED! People have been killed doing talk radio.” Thom Hartmann graciously accepted the award recounting a personal anecdote from an experience he had as an 18-year-old radio announcer dealing with and succumbing to police pressure to repress coverage of a local story that abridged his rights and duties as a broadcaster – a situation that he says he “regrets to this day” but inspired him to champion the First Amendment. Hartmann says, “Because of the presence of talk radio in our nation over the past 20 years or so, we have found our voice to talk back to authority.” To view this entire presentation, please click here. Coming Monday: A special address titled “Radio in the Digital Age” by Inside Music Media publisher Jerry Del Colliano. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Beasley Q2 Revenue Down 3.6%. This morning’s release of Beasley Broadcasting Group’s 2014 Q2 financials conforms to many experts’ conclusions about the second quarter of the year: Ad spending in radio was down across the country. BBGI reports the net revenue figure of $25.9 million for the 2nd quarter of 2014 (compared to $26.9 million during the same period in 2013) “primarily reflects lower advertising revenue at the company’s Philadelphia, Wilmington and Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville market clusters. The decline in net revenue was partially offset by $0.7 million in other revenue, resulting from an agreement with an electronics company and its affiliate concerning the use of our and their respective logos.” Chairman and CEO George Beasley comments, “Second quarter revenue levels reflect slower advertising spending across most markets where we operate which led to declines in seven of our eleven markets and lower station operating income. Overall, we outperformed in our five market clusters that report to Miller Kaplan. In these markets, which accounted for approximately 78% of total second quarter revenue, Beasley station cluster revenue declined 5.2%, compared with the total revenue for all reporting radio stations in these markets which were down 6.0% for the quarter. Our year-over-year revenue decline is partially attributable to difficult comparisons with 2013 second quarter results when we generated double-digit revenue gains in markets including Philadelphia and Las Vegas. However, our initiatives to expand our digital offerings are delivering results as we recorded an approximate 24% rise in digital revenue during the quarter. Notwithstanding the challenges faced in the second quarter, our market positions remain healthy based on our organization-wide focus on strong core programming and targeted localism. This focus is vital to the company’s ratings strength and long-term success.”
WEEI-FM, Boston’s Dennis & Callahan Show to Lose NESN Simulcast. According to a report by Chad Finn in the Boston Globe, when the contract between regional sports cable network NESN and Entercom’s WEEI, Boston to simulcast the morning drive Dennis & Callahan show ends in September, the cable network will not renew its deal. Finn reports that sources say the non-renewal has nothing to do with cast member Kirk Minihane’s recent high profile criticism of Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews’ performance on the MLB All-Star Game broadcast. The story notes that John Dennis and Gerry Callahan’s contracts with WEEI are also up around the same time and that negotiations are ongoing. The simulcast has been ongoing since November of 2010 and the report indicates NESN is considering doing more local programming with its own talent in the morning drive daypart. Read Finn’s piece here.
Townsquare Media IPO Raises $91 Million. It’s hard to judge the IPO of a radio and digital media company that’s so young in corporate terms, but the sale of 8.3 million shares of class A stock made the company a little more than $91 million – short of the $125 million the company was hoping to raise. Some analysts are noting that the IPO price was not in the low teens dollar figure the company had hoped for and even the $11 share price was a bit too high as the sale didn’t take off until the price dropped to $10.74. Still, the offering results in a cash infusion for Townsquare Media. Only time will tell if Townsquare’s plan to build revenue with small and medium market radio stations augmented by its stable of digital publications will pay off for investors and the company.
Odds & Sods. With the demise of Oskie Media-owned sports talker WVLZ, Knoxville “Tennessee Sports Radio” on July 29 (a new format will replace the sports talk), it will be the end for most of the shows currently heard on the station. But Jayson Swain’s “The Swain Event” show will live on at Blount Broadcasting’s country WKVL, Knoxville airing from 7:00 am to 10:00 am beginning September 1. According to a story in the Knoxville News, Swain’s on-air producer Seth Stokes will remain with the show and regular contributors (and, like Swain, former Tennessee Volunteers football stars) Jamal Lewis and Leonard Little will also continue to be part of the show…..David Singer is leaving his executive producer position at ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles “ESPN Los Angeles 710” to join the NFL Network in a talent booker role.
‘Talk 1300’ Albany’s Paul Vandenburgh Wins ‘Best of’ Honor. The annual “Best of” edition of the Capital Region’s alternative weekly Metroland is out and WGDJ, Albany “Talk 1300” owner, GM and morning drive host Paul Vandenburgh takes ‘Best Radio Talk Show’ honors. The paper says, “Yes, we all enjoy his rages, but you can learn a lot about the ins-and-outs of local politics from Vandenburgh and his guests.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia adds the nightly edition of “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge. Also, the program is added to the program schedules at KBYR, Anchorage and WLWI, Montgomery…..The Pam Oakes-hosted “Car Care for the Clueless: Daily Edition” feature is added to the programming at KCAA, Loma Linda, California and WOMI, Owensboro, Kentucky.
On Remote in Downtown Tucson. Program director and morning show host Bill White (left) interview’s Fred Ronstadt (right) – yes, Linda Ronstadt’s brother – during a remote broadcast of “Tucson’s Morning News.” The live event was designed to promote the grand opening of Tucson’s Modern Streetcar which local businessman Ronstadt helped build.
Gaza Strip Violence Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of July 21-25. The escalating violence in the Gaza strip and Secretary of State John Kerry’s role in brokering peace between Israel and Hamas was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. Following at #2 was the downing of Flight 17 and Russia’s role in supplying weaponry to the Ukraine rebels. At #3 was the child illegal alien crisis in the Southwest followed by the two recent ObamaCare court rulings at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Clear Channel Releases Results of ‘Audio Space’ Study; Growth in New Platforms Means Audio Consumption Is ‘Additive.’ The study was a combined effort with MediaVest and Clear Channel Media + Entertainment and surveyed “thousands of audio listeners who use one or more of the following audio sources personal music collections (CDs, iTunes downloads), broadcast radio, streaming AM/FM radio, custom online playlists, satellite radio, online music videos and digital music channels on TV shows.” Among the results of the study is the conclusion that “because of the use of alternate audio devices, time spent across audio platforms continues to increase and growth in audio is predominantly additive.” The goal of the study was to determine when, why and how consumers choose different audio platforms and some of the conclusions reached are: afternoon drive (3:00 pm to 7:00 pm) generally sees the highest usage; the car remains the most popular location for audio listening throughout the day; 63% of teens listen to more than two audio platforms a day – the highest of any demographic; broadcast radio is the most popular audio platform; listeners choose broadcast radio to stay connected to “the world,” top drivers for radio usage are its accessibility, timely news, traffic, weather, engagement with radio personalities and discovering new music; personal music collections (CDs, iTunes downloads, etc.) are about control with 81% choosing the platform to control or customize their listening experience. Custom playlists are also about control and follow with 67% choosing the platform for this reason; 41% of consumers are willing to listen to ads in exchange for free online audio. Ads related to the music consumers like and optimized for the time of day are most powerful. MediaVest EVP and research director David Shiffman states, “In the audio space, most measurement focuses on a single audio platform, rather than a complete view of the landscape. Our goal in working with Clear Channel – with its extensive experience in both live and digital radio – was to generate a real-time and accurate view of the audio space, which we believe is going through an evolution similar to television. Marketers have embraced the concept of multi-screen consumer behavior, but audio media also provides a tremendous opportunity for them to connect with their target audience throughout their day.”
2014 CES: Innovate or… Reporting for TALKERS from the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas is media consultant Holland Cooke who writes that one of the hottest topics during CEA CEO Gary Shapiro’s interview with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was spectrum auction; that all of the five FCC commissioners where there and he was able to ask a question or two about AM revitalization of Ajit Pai; about some very revealing stats that show why smart broadcasters are taking advantage of posting video to YouTube (and why you should, too); and even more about the ‘connected car’ that is the focus of so much of the audio and information sector at the show. Read Holland Cooke’s report here.
Saga Portland President Pahigian Prepares To Exit. Fifteen-year Portland Radio Group president Cary Pahigian broke the news to his staff yesterday (1/8) he will soon be leaving the Maine operation. According to Pahigian, he told Saga vice president Warren Lada about a year ago that he was evaluating his next professional challenge. “I was certainly happy and fortunate to be working with the finest group of people I have ever met,” Pahigian wrote in a staff memo. “Still, the impending 15-year mark was activating an area in my brain that had been quiet for years. Warren asked me to forge ahead and see how I felt at the end of 2013. The only way to properly examine what I wanted to do and aggressively pursue that opportunity, was to focus on it 100%. It would be impossible to conduct that process and still remain at my best with the demands of this job.” Pahigian continues his duties at the operation until his successor is hired. Prior to his 15-year Portland, Maine tenure as president of the eight-station cluster, Pahigian was a 26-year-old station manager at heritage Boston outlet WBZ-AM; corporate vice president of operations for Sconnix Broadcasting; and he programmed Philadelphia’s WIP.
WABC, New York to Air Bob Grant Special. The longtime home to late talk radio pioneer Bob Grant will air a special broadcast in his honor this weekend. Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York – where Grant worked daily from 1984-1996 and again weekly from 2009-2013 – is airing the special program that “will feature notable moments from the talk show host as well as comments from broadcasters inspired by Mr. Grant. Also, included in the special are thoughts and comments from members of Mr. Grant’s immediate family.” WABC program director Craig Schwalb said, “WABC is proud to produce this special to honor the late Bob Grant, a true legend in our industry. We hope our listeners will enjoy this opportunity to remember his contribution to WABC and to the city of New York.” The show will air Saturday 1/11 at 5:00 pm and Sunday 1/12 at 4:00 pm. Grant died on December 31, 2013 after an illness at age 84.
WEEI.com Keeps Its Team Intact. All contributing writers and columnists of Boston’s WEEI.com have signed new contracts for this calendar year. Alex Speier, Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean, Christopher Price, and Jerry Spar will continue blogging, opining, and reporting breaking sports news for the site, as well as appearing regularly on Entercom-owned Boston sports outlet WEEI-FM. They join Kirk Minihane and Celtics beat writer Ben Rohrbach. Last week, “Dennis & Callahan” morning show co-host Minihane signed a long-term deal as the site’s opinion editor. “It is a privilege to work alongside such a talented and dedicated group of sports journalists,” comments site editor Rob Bradford. “There isn’t another sports radio station in the country with WEEI’s commitment to enterprise journalism. Boston sports fans have come to expect us to be first with breaking news and commentary wherever they engage with our brand.” WEEI brand manager Kevin Graham remarks, “[These guys] live and breathe Boston sports and they are respected throughout the Boston sports landscape for their journalistic integrity. In this sports-crazed market that boasts some of the most esteemed writers in the business, they stand among the best-in-breed.” WEEI.com recently won the 2013 RAIN Internet Radio award for “Best Streaming Radio Station in America.”
WTOP, Washington Touts Page View Growth. Hubbard Radio all-news WTOP, Washington, DC reports that it realized “a 30% overall increase in page views to WTOP.com, averaging more than 22 million page views and reaching more than 1.8 million unique users per month.” The organization adds that “a number of major news stories in the nation’s capital contributed to this growth, including sequestration, the government shutdown, and the Navy Yard shooting. WTOP.com also strengthened its commitment to unique local content with the launch of two new verticals – Living and Technology – and the introduction of the live blog for breaking news…WTOP’s growth can also be attributed to its strategic use of social media. Traffic to WTOP.com from Facebook and Twitter grew by 150% in 2013, making WTOP one of the top five social media players in the DC market.” WTOP director of digital media John Meyer says, “While news judgment will always be the primary factor in story selection, we have editorial meetings throughout the day, using a variety of statistical tools to determine how our homepage is performing. Armed with the most recent data on what people are searching, clicking, and sharing, we can adjust accordingly.”
Mark DePrez Named VP/GM at Farm Journal Media. Former longtime WOWO, Fort Wayne general manager and Federated Media COO Mark DePrez joins Farm Journal Media as VP/GM of the company’s radio business. In this position DePrez will oversee such shows as “AgriTalk with Mike Adams” and “American Countryside with Andrew McCrea.” The company also reports that a new commodity markets-focused show hosted by Chip Flory is being prepared to launch in the early spring. Farm Journal Broadcast SVP Brian Conrady says, “We are thrilled to have Mark join our team. Radio has quickly become an important part of Farm Journal’s integrated go-to-market media strategy, and Mark has the experience, the talent and the tenacity to further spur this growth.” DePrez comments, “It’s fascinating to see the role radio plays as part of an integrated marketing solution in agriculture. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about Farm Journal’s cross-platform content and how radio can fit. I’m excited to be part of this expanding radio business.”
Jimmie Kaska Named Sports Director at WBIZ, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The new title for Jimmie Kaska comes as he takes over the sports director role at Clear Channel’s WBIZ, Eau Claire, Wisconsin from Mike Sullivan who held the position for the past 40 years. The station notes that during Sullivan’s tenure, “he was responsible for getting games on the air involving local teams performing in over 200 venues in 30 states, one territory and two foreign countries. Of those roughly 8,000 games, only two did not get on the air. Sullivan also negotiated rights fees and made other arrangements for airing over 10,000 games involving professional and college teams in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as nationally broadcast events. WBIZ-AM was the first 24-hour sports station in Wisconsin, and one of the first 10 in the United States when the format debuted in 1992. The station format was switched in 1994-95, but then returned to the all-sports format in 1996, and has remained all-sports since then.” Kaska serves as PD for WBIZ and sister news/talk WMEQ. He states, “It’s crazy to think that the first job I had in my life when I was 17 would be the same one I’m doing today. It seems like every year I find something else to take charge of, and of all the roles I have here, this one will be the most visible and most important. It’s my goal that I continue the long tradition of being one of the best and most active sports radio groups in the country. The mentoring I’ve received from Mike Sullivan has been invaluable to both my career in broadcasting and to life. I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity.”
Advantage Systems Brings Reed Bunzel and A. Darryl Davis Aboard. Sales and marketing firm Advantage Systems Inc. announces Reed Bunzel and A. Darryl Davis join the company as revenue development managers. The company says, “Bunzel has been leading a charge for the radio industry to use digital media to grow revenue since digital first appeared, and he has joined Advantage Systems, Inc. to help stations do just that. Bunzel, current president of Bunzel Media Strategies, will be working with broadcasting groups throughout U.S. and Canada to help them with a revenue generation program designed to incorporate traditional media with new interactive solutions provided by Advantage Systems, Inc.” Bunzel comments, “What I find interesting is that RAB’s just-released data shows that radio’s digital revenue was up 3% in the previous quarter and 7% in the first half, but I saw another study today predicting 16% growth in digital advertising next year. That tells me that radio is severely underperforming in the digital era. It needs to be smart and catch up.” Regarding Davis, Advantage Systems VP for sales Frank Kulbertis states, “Darryl has a history of doing programs similar to our Advantage Plan program that included schedules and digital products for television so he was a perfect fit as a new revenue development manager for us.” The company says Davis will work with broadcast groups to grow their advertising revenue. The program includes extensive sales training, new business leads in the local market, a focused workshop to educate local business owners on traditional and new media, 12-month advertising commitments along with turn-key creative services and the ability to generate digital revenue thru inclusion of interactive solutions.
Odds & Sods. Consumer finance expert Rodney Anderson is hosting a daily, one-hour program on Clear Channel’s news/talk KFXR, Dallas airing from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..Hearst’s news/talk WBAL, Baltimore inks the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles for another two seasons. The O’s have been heard on WBAL for all but 15 of the team’s 60-year history in the city…..WestwoodOne has the national radio rights to the remaining NFL playoff games – including Super Bowl XLVIII – that resume this weekend. While Scott Graham hosts the pre-, post-game and halftime shows for all four games, the WestwoodOne stable of in-game announcers and analysts are lined up for the four games airing this weekend.
Chris Christie Bridge Traffic Scandal, Robert Gates Book, War on Poverty Anniversary, and Dennis Rodman North Korea Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/8). The scandal involving New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staffers allegedly closing lanes in Fort Lee New Jersey near the George Washington Bridge as a form of revenge against the town’s Democratic mayor; the new book from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in which he’s critical of Obama Administration officials and the president and vice president; the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s “war on poverty”; and former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s tumultuous return visit to North Korea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Borrell Associates New Study and Forecast Predicts Radio Revenue Flat but Listening Minutes Continue to Decline Over Next Five Years. Research firm Borrell Associates has published a new study titled, “The Future of Legacy Media: With 5 Years of Digital Disruption Ahead, What Happens Next?” As the title implies, it looks at the effect the digital revolution has had over the past five years on time spent with each medium and ad dollars spent and then goes on to predict what is likely to happen over the next five years. The conclusion for AM/FM radio is probably not going to be shocking to most. Borrell predicts that minutes spent with AM/FM radio (which have already dropped from 124.1 in 2008 to 93.5 in 2013, according to the study) will continue to erode even though the number of individuals listening at least once per week (that figure we hear reported by Nielsen Audio so frequently) may remain fairly constant. By 2018 Borrell predicts minutes spent with radio will further drop to 81.9 (for a total decrease from 2008 to 2018 of 34%). On the revenue front, Borrell notes that radio ad spending has dropped by almost a third over the past 13 years and predicts the level the industry is at right now – about $14.3 billion – is roughly where it will be in another five years. Here’s what the study has to say about AM/FM radio’s future: “If trends hold true, traditional radio ad spending will continue to tread water, remaining largely unchanged while growth moves online – especially among national advertisers. Detroit is already equipping some new cars with Pandora service, so even that industry sinecure may have been breached. Losses – where they occur – will be most felt in the larger metros, while suburban and rural areas will still depend on the local flavor of stations that have been good friends to their fathers and grandfathers.” Which media will experience growth in minutes spent with through 2018? Borrell predicts cable TV, out-of-home, video games and pure-play mobile, which it says will have realized a 1,145% increase in minutes spent with during the 10-year period examined in the study. Read more here.
SiriusXM Reports Total Subscribers Top 25 Million. Satellite radio service SiriusXM announces it ended the year 2013 with 25.56 million subscribers – an addition of 1.66 million net subscribers during the course of the year. The company reports that self-pay net additions in 2013 were 1.5 million for the full year, bringing self-pay subscriptions to over 21 million. SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer states, “SiriusXM had an outstanding 2013, and we expect to meet or exceed all other guidance we have provided for the year. Automotive distribution is hitting on all cylinders and an increasing number of households, at all income levels, are subscribing to SiriusXM. In a world where consumers have many choices, millions of subscribers continue to love our unmatched and easily affordable lineup of exclusive talk, live news, major sports events, and commercial-free and curated music channels.” At the same time, the company offers guidance for 2014 that includes: Net subscriber additions of 1.25 million; free cash flow approaching $1.1 billion; revenue of over $4.0 billion; and adjusted EBITDA of approximately $1.38 billion.
2014 International CES: Day Two. Media consultant Holland Cooke reports from Las Vegas where he’s covering the enormous 2014 International Consumer Electronic Show for TALKERS magazine. Some tidbits for radio people include how Yahoo! is revamping its content to fit what consumers want with regard to size and frequency and how new global anchor Katie Couric is integrating “citizen reporting” into her work. Also, read what radio execs attending a session on internet radio are saying about building a connection with consumers in Holland Cooke’s piece here.
Compass Media Brings Research Pro Len Klatt Aboard. Research pro Len Klatt spent the last 16 years with Premiere Networks (ultimately as SVP of research) and 11 years with Westwood One before that. Now, Compass Media Marketing announces it has hired Klatt as a research consultant and advisor, effective immediately. Klatt comments, “It is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the changing audio entertainment landscape. Compass is well positioned for continued growth and my goal is to work closely with the Compass team to best serve our advertisers, affiliates and programming partners.”
Kirk Minihane Inks Multi-Year Deal with WEEI, Boston. The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reports that staffer Kirk Minihane – a recently added member of the Dennis & Callahan morning show – has been rewarded for his positive impact on the show and the station with a new multi-year deal. Minihane became part of the morning show featuring John Dennis and Gerry Callahan in February of last year and Finn reports that the morning show has been gaining ratings ground over the past several months. Minihane was already employed by Entercom Boston writing for WEEI.com at the time he joined the show. The Dennis & Callahan show – and the station in general – has been under the microscope since the start-up of CBS Radio’s crosstown WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” debuted, gained ground on WEEI and overtook many of WEEI’s shows in the ratings. Now, Finn reports that the Dennis & Callahan show recently finished in second place in the Nielsen Audio PPM ratings behind WBZ-FM’s Toucher & Rich program with a 9.0 share.
Odds & Sods. At Salem Communications’ New York City news/talker WNYM “AM 970 The Answer,” comic Joe Piscopo is guest hosting the morning show today (1/8) through the end of the week. The permanent morning show slot is vacant right now after Curtis Sliwa split for Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WABC for a midday show with co-host Ron Kuby. The station says Piscopo will “have top name guests, give his take on the news of the day and do a variety of other comedy bits.”…..At Clear Channel’s Cincinnati cluster, Bo Matthews is named vice president of programming for the station group. While Matthews’ recent day-to-day experience has been with music radio – he comes to Cincinnati from the company’s Cleveland cluster where he programmed rock WMMS and CHR WAKS “Kiss FM” – he will ultimately oversee news/talk WLW, talk WKRC and sports talk WSAI in his new position…..In the public radio sphere of the Rochester market, WXXI listeners are hearing new host Evan Dawson in the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot held for so long by market pro Bob Smith. Dawson is a familiar face as he spent six years as morning anchor at WHAM-TV. The new show is called “Connections with Evan Dawson.” Smith stepped down from his position in August after suffering a stroke in the spring. He’s currently in long-term rehabilitative care.
Rick & Bubba Celebrate 20th Anniversary. The nationally syndicated Rick & Bubba show – featuring Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey – celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The Syndicated Solutions Inc.-distributed program has special plans to commemorate the show’s birth. Burgess and Bussey, along with cast members Calvin “Speedy” Wilburn, “The Real” Greg Burgess, Michael “Helmsey” Helms, Chris “Eddie Van” Adler, along with past/present show interns and related show contributors, will be performing live before sellout crowds during at least five special one-night only events in concert halls/theaters in select cities beginning in May. SSI reports that “each ‘20th Anniversary Tour’ event will include hilarious, unforgettable Rick & Bubba moments, show favorites such as Good ‘ol Boys Theater, Willie & Wanda, The Giant Game of Rick & Bubba Knowledge, The Wacky World, Fact or Crap, and more. There will be prizes, video tributes reliving the past 20 years, musical performances, special Q&A sessions and more…All behind-the-scenes and on-stage activities will be video recorded so excerpts can be shared during the Rick & Bubba show television/radio broadcast, and a full 20th Anniversary documentary will be available later in 2014.” SSI president Bob Carey states, “Congratulations Rick and Bubba…I am so proud of what you’ve accomplished all these years and the special relationship that we share. Although we’ve been business partners for just nine of your 20 years on air together, the Rick & Bubba show continues to evolve and gets better day after day, which is a testament to you both never taking your successes for granted or never stopping to work hard and improve upon yesterday.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Bill “Bubba” Bussey (sitting), Michael “Helmsey” Helms, Rick Burgess (center/sitting), Calvin “Speedy” Wilburn, “The Real” Greg Burgess and Chris “Eddie Van” Adler.
Outstanding Talk Producer on the Loose. One of the personnel casualties of WWRL, New York’s recent switch from progressive talk to regional Mexican Spanish-language entertainment is Jeffrey Haveson. Haveson, an accomplished veteran radio broadcaster is known in talk circles as one of the most hard-working, versatile and dependable producers in the business, is without a home base for the first time in more than a decade. He served at WWRL as an executive producer working with a wide variety of hosts and formats ranging from urban talk to liberal politics and then some. In the words of TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “Jeffrey Haveson is one of the most competent and multi-faceted facilitators of talk programming I’ve ever met. This guy can handle all the chores that go on behind-the-scenes in making a great show happen from nurturing hosts of all political and cultural stripes, booking guests, executing remotes and creating superb production to writing an effective press release and managing social media. He is located in the New York area and should be grabbed by one of the many media outlets looking for a solid producer.” Haveson can be phoned at 973-207-3095 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Gates Criticizes Obama in New Book, Dennis Rodman in North Korea, Boehner-Benghazi Connection, Polar Vortex Chills U.S./Global Warming, and Janet Yellen Confirmed New Fed Chief. The new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that is critical of the Obama Administration; the controversy over former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s latest trip to North Korea; questions about what House Speaker John Boehner knew about the Benghazi mission; the frigid temperatures across the U.S. and the connection to global warming; and Janet Yellen is confirmed as new chief of the Federal Reserve were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Norm Pattiz’s Courtside Entertainment Group forms Podcast Giant Launchpad Digital Media. Courtside Entertainment Group CEO Norm Pattiz (pictured below at left) enters into a partnership with digital, online and podcast sales pioneer Kit Gray (below at right) to form a new division of Courtside Entertainment Group called Launchpad Digital Media. Courtside states that the podcast platform includes some of the biggest names in digital entertainment including: Adam Carolla, Bill Burr, CBS News, Afterbuzz TV with Maria Menuounos, Jay Mohr, Dr. Drew, Chris Hardwick (The Nerdist), Mark & Lynda, Brian & Jill, and Penn Jillette. Launchpad will also be home to the Sideshow Network, The Fake Mustache Network, Riotcast Network, Splitsider Network and the Toad Hop Network making Launchpad one of the industry’s largest players. Kit Gray will serve as president and COO of Launchpad Digital Media. In a statement announcing the new company, Pattiz says, “Podcasts represent one of the fastest growing segments of digital media. Kit Gray has a great track record of success in this important space and brings with him not only knowledge and energy, but the revenue and cash flow to prove it. He brings Courtside instant access not only for our existing programs but for the development of future programming that will live on the Launchpad platform.” Gray states, “Forming a partnership with Norm Pattiz, the founder of Westwood One, with his incredible vision and history of working with the top talent is an unbelievable opportunity. This partnership, as a division of Courtside, allows us to offer all of our existing clients more resources to expand their products and deliver more audience to develop the advertiser support that will benefit us all.” Speaking about this new effort, Patty Newmark of Newmark Advertising says, “The digital space for audio is growing exponentially and has allowed us to extend additional opportunities to our clients. Having a highly respected leader of the radio industry like Norm Pattiz form a new venture with Kit Gray, an expert in the area of digital media, is very exciting. These two innovators working together will create important opportunities within the changing media landscape.” Courtside notes that Kit Gray has represented programming that exceeds a half-billion podcast downloads annually. He’s worked with media agencies throughout the nation, served as a division manager for Clear Channel (Katz 360 Digital), was the director of advertising for Verizon’s EV-DO networks Amp’d Mobile and was the recipient of the “Seller of the Year” award for Katz Media Group.
Mel Karmazin to Leave SiriusXM in February. Just how and when Mel Karmazin was going to leave SiriusXM was really the question – that he was leaving was pretty much a foregone conclusion to most industry watchers. Now we know Karmazin will exit his CEO role with the satcaster and he will resign from the company’s board of directors on February 1, 2013. In a public statement, Karmazin says, “SiriusXM is an extraordinary company with an incredible team. It is an honor to come to work here every day where we truly deliver the best radio on radio. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished. Given where we started, it is amazing that SiriusXM has grown to become the largest radio company in the world. With a deep bench of corporate talent, a roster that includes the most in-demand on-air personalities and a wide range of exclusive programming, SiriusXM has never been better positioned than it is today. We continue to grow our subscriber base to record levels and our financial position has never been stronger. Importantly, the commitment to delivering innovative new products and technologies is very strong. SiriusXM has a strong foundation to build on for the future and there is a great team in place to keep the company moving forward. I am confident that SiriusXM’s best years are ahead.” The press release includes a statement from SiriusXM board chairman Eddy Hartenstein. He says, “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Mel for his significant contributions to the company. Under his leadership, the company underwent a transformative merger and a financial restructuring that has enabled SiriusXM to deliver significant value for shareholders. Our record breaking financial results are a testament to Mel’s leadership and strategic planning and we continue to exceed our expectations with all-time high subscriber numbers. Thanks to Mel, we are well positioned for long-term growth and value creation. We will miss Mel – and the board wishes him the very best in his future endeavors.”
More Changes at WGN, Chicago as John Williams to Leave Midday Show. John Williams will continue with Tribune’s WGN, Chicago through the end of the year but, beginning in January, he and his family will return to the Minneapolis area and Williams will give his full attention to his afternoon drive show at CBS Radio’s WCCO which he’s been doing from Chicago for some time. WGN program director Bill White states, “John is a great broadcaster and has been a valued member of the WGN Radio family. While we are sad to see him go, we are happy for John and his family that they are able to return to Minneapolis, where they lived before moving to Chicago. We wish him all the best and know that he will continue to shine in his role at WCCO.” Williams indicates this is a decision he’s been considering for a while. “I decided some time ago to do just one show – as well as I can – and that one will be at WCCO. Both stations and staffs deserve as much.” WGN is seeking his replacement and expects to name the new host of the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program in the coming weeks.
Shamrock Communications Officially Announces Today’s Launch of KNEWS in Reno. Yesterday, TALKERS reported the debut of one of four new FM signals Shamrock Communications is putting on the air in the Reno market. The company officially announces the launch of KNEZ-FM “107.3 KNews” today and 13-year radio veteran Sean Patrick is a big part of the station. Patrick, who is the station’s news director, will also host the PM drive show as well as serve as the voice of Wolf Pack football and the Reno Bighorns. Director of broadcast operations for the station is Willobee Carlan. Sean Patrick states that with the ever-changing political climate, people want something new, “There’s too much confrontation on the airwaves and not enough conversation. We will bring a much more level-headed conversational tone to political talk. Neither side is 100% right nor 100% wrong. We want you to be a part of the conversation. KNEWS Reno is ‘The Conversation Station!’” The station will air Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck in AM drive followed by Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee, WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish and Talk Radio Network’s Rusty Humphries in the evenings.
Mark Levin-founded Landmark Legal Foundation to Sue EPA. Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Mark Levin explained the Landmark Legal Foundation’s intent to sue the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency on his program on Monday. Levin stated the suit centers around new environmental rules set to kick in for which the public has not been given notice. According to The Examiner, the Landmark Legal Foundation requested the documents through the Freedom of Information Act months ago but the records have not been turned over. The organization also petitioned the federal court to block administrator of the EPA Lisa Jackson and her agency from issuing any new regulations until the agency releases the documents.
WEEI, Boston Debuts New Baseball Show. Playing the “hits” in New England on a sports talk station means talking about Red Sox baseball no matter what time of year it is. To that end, Entercom Boston vice president of programming and operations Jason Wolfe announces a new weekly program hosted by Kirk Minihane and WEEI.com Red Sox insiders Rob Bradford and Alex Speier called “Red Sox Hot Stove.” The one-hour program debuts tomorrow night and airs from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm Thursdays through February 14. Wolfe says the program will be focused exclusively on the Red Sox and will include regular interviews with Sox GM Ben Cherington as well as many other Sox beat writers and columnists who will provide unique information and insight. “This is has been a very difficult season for Red Sox fans, but it also means that the off season will be incredibly meaningful. There will be more Red Sox talk this off season than in any other in recent memory given the needs of the team, and this show will provide listeners with the most up to date information as it happens.”
Nationally Syndicated Host Dr. Ken Kronhaus Featured in AARP/Crest Health Campaign. As host of the nationally syndicated Stephan Multimedia weekend production “Good Day Health” and frequent contributor to Doug Stephan’s daily “Good Day” syndicated morning show, Dr. Ken Kronhaus is a well-known voice in health media. Now, he is working with AARP and Crest on a campaign featuring Dr. Kronhaus that includes custom content provided by him promoting the idea that the mouth is the gateway to your overall health. Dr. Kronhaus also serves as AARP health-editor-at-large.
Post-Debate Analysis, Presidential Race Polls, Libya Attack Controversy, and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/23). Analysis of the candidates’ performance in the final presidential debate; the most recent polls of the presidential campaign, new information indicating the White House knew the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was terrorist related; and the turbulent week of activity in the world’s financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.