Michael Harrison: Political News/Talk Radio Needs Fewer Lapdogs and More Watchdogs. In a new opinion piece posted today (11/21), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (pictured here) suggests that the main element missing from today’s political news/talk radio mix is the old-fashioned “muckraker” who kept politicians of all political stripes – left and right – nervous and on their toes. Harrison says that the crop of tried-and-true political ideologues who’ve been on the air all these decades since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and are still going strong should be preserved – but not imitated. He writes, “There is nothing wrong with the current crop of long-standing, iconic figures of opinionated left vs right political discussion who have made talk radio and its stars household names. They should be protected and supported for what they do… because they are valuable and, more importantly, cannot easily be replaced. In fact, they shouldn’t be replaced. The last thing we need are more ‘B’ and ‘C’ level imitators and talking point ideologues in this format. We do not need lapdogs and mindless partisans clogging up the airwaves and bringing this format down! What we do need are more WATCHDOGS to round out what this format truly has to offer. I guess you can call them populists or independents – but it goes much deeper than just superficial labels. This industry needs talk show hosts – especially local ones – who don’t give a damn about political science ideology or carrying partisan water for their favorite ‘team,’ but rather keep a watchful eye and wag a fearless tongue on the biggest problem facing the American political system today.” If you want to find out what Harrison thinks is the biggest problem facing the American political system today, read the entire column by clicking here.
Cumulus Names Reno to Lead KGO and KSFO, San Francisco Sales. At the Bay Area cluster, Cumulus Media appoints sales pro Jaysson Reno to vice president, sales for heritage market news/talkers KGO and KSFO. Reno has worked in the San Francisco market for 10 years in the radio, digital and event space, and has led sales for the company’s rock KSAN and triple A KFOG since 2012. Cumulus San Francisco VP/market manager Justin Wittmayer says, “Jaysson brings strong leadership, a keen business sense and the market equity needed to drive advertiser performance and grow revenues. KGO and KSFO are legacy brands in which we will continue to invest to benefit our community, to enhance the user experience and to deliver superior advertiser results.”
Ben Finfer and Alex Quigley Also Casualties at Tribune Media. With the reported looming end of Tribune Media’s nine-month-old sports talk experiment on WGWG-LP comes news two staffers – Ben Finfer and Alex Quigley – learned about their imminent dismissal via Twitter while on the air. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the “Quigs and Finfer” personalities spoke on air about their disappointment, with Finfer saying, “We’re doing a live show here and to be told this way, it’s really a letdown. We’re getting screwed on this one…We just found out on Twitter a half hour ago that the station is being taken off the air. We were not told about this ahead of time.” The story broke via a Tweet and blog post by Chicago media writer Robert Feder (and TALKERS passed along the story to you) who learned about the changes from inside sources. It appears WGN and WGWG-LP management didn’t anticipate the news leaking out and although the station has not been performing in the ratings against competitors WSCR and WMVP, this is a bit of a PR black eye for Tribune Media.
Dave Ramsey Rocks Austin’s Bass Concert Hall. No, nationally syndicated financial talk superstar and best-selling author Dave Ramsey didn’t sing (as far as we know), but he did pack the house at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas last night (11/20) nonetheless. Ramsey presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” event in which he discusses how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. Ramsey worked with local affiliate KJCE “Talk Radio 1370 AM” to promote this event. Entercom VP/market manager Alan Kirshbom comments, “Austin loves Dave! We are proud to welcome him back for what promises to be another exciting and uplifting event.” Pictured here are (from left to right): KJCE promotions director Aaron Hurd, KJCE director of sales Heather Baumli, Ramsey, KJCE program director Stephen Kerr, Kirshbom, and KJCE general sales manager Bob Woche.
RAB: Radio’s Q3 Revenue Dips 2%; Off-Air and Digital Jump. The 2014 third quarter radio revenue report from the Radio Advertising Bureau concludes radio’s total revenue dipped 2% — a bit better than Q2’s 3% drop (all comparisons are versus the same period in 2013). Breaking it down, spot revenue and network revenue fell back 3% and 4% respectively in Q3 this year compared to last, but digital and off-air revenue were up by 11% and 14% respectively. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber comments, “The increasing strength of radio’s digital platforms becomes more evident every quarter as advertisers recognize the unparalleled benefits of reaching radio’s dedicated audiences on every device and platform they are using. In addition, the growth in off-air opportunities for advertisers is a clear indication that radio is focused on continuing to deliver more innovative solutions to help them reach their consumers.” See the RAB’s report here.
Odds & Sods. Longtime Arkansas talk show host and programmer Dave Elswick begins duties as program director and afternoon drive host at Crain Media Group-owned KHTE, Little Rock. His program will also air on the company’s KSMD, Searcy, Arkansas (about 50 miles northeast of Little Rock) as Elswick begins building out the Dave Elswick Network. He worked for years at Cumulus Media’s KARN-FM, Little rock as PD and personality…..SiriusXM adds former NBA head coach George Karl to its roster of hoops experts on its NBA Radio channel. He debuts today (11/21) from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET and will host regularly throughout the season…..CBS RADIO‘s all-news KNX, Los Angeles will present a special program titled, “Immigration: The President Acts,” on Monday (11/24) from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. The show will include expert guests and listener call-ins. KNX anchor Tom Haule and chief investigative reporter Charles Feldman will host the show.
Bell Media to Lay Off 80 Employees. Canadian broadcast giant Bell Media is announcing personnel cuts across its radio division that will affect some 80 people. As reported by the Windsor Star, the Windsor market (which operates four stations that also serve Detroit listeners) will lose seven staffers, but those people haven’t been identified yet. The stations in Windsor include: triple A CKLW-FM “The River 93.9,” alternative CIMX “89X,” oldies CKWW and news/talk CKLW-AM. The paper notes that Bell Media cut about 120 positions in the radio division back in June.
MIW Announces 2015 Mentoring Program. The details of the 2015 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program from the Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group are available. The 14-year-old program matches up-and-coming women in the radio industry with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of radio. 2015 Mentoring Committee chair Lindsay Cerajewski (who also serves as sales manager at CBS RADIO’s WUSN, Chicago) says, “This is a wonderful opportunity for mentees to gain valuable insight, knowledge and access to some of the most influential women in radio. We look forward to another outstanding program in 2015.” A total of four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry – within the sales, marketing, programming and digital disciplines – will be selected for the 2015 program. Of those, at least one spot will be designated for a programming candidate, and one spot designated for a digital candidate. For mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply, please visit http://tinyurl.com/miwmentee. The deadline to apply is Friday, December 12, 2014.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Genesis Communications Network-syndicated Dr. Joy Browne program is added to the program schedule at WGNC, Gastonia, North Carolina.
Obama Amnesty Executive Action Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 17-21. The plan by President Obama to use executive action to give amnesty to some 5 million undocumented aliens was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was the videotaped speeches of Affordable Care Act architect Jonathan Gruber. At #3 was the tension over the grand jury’s anticipated decision whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and at #4 was the record snowfall in Buffalo and the early cold snap. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Family Sues Cox Media Group for Illegal Use of Son’s Photo. Nashville-area couple Bernard and Pamela Holland are suing Cox Media Group for WHPT, Tampa’s use of a photo of their son Adam – who has Down Syndrome – as part of the artwork for a feature called “Retarded News.” Here’s the back story: The photo of Adam Holland was taken in 2004 and posted by an art teacher – apparently legitimately – showing Adam holding up a drawing he’d made. The photo was used by WHPT and altered so the paper Adam is holding reads “Retarded News.” The Holland family learned about the image in 2012 and contacted the station. At that time, program director Michael Sharkey explained the bit was not about making fun of handicapped people but about stupid things people do. He apologized to the family and the photo’s use was discontinued. Now, the family is suing Cox, Oswego, New York-based Sign Generator (which also used the image) and a Minnesota man who’s also posted the image on his Flickr account and made derogatory comments about Adam. According to Courthouse News Service, the family “is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for invasion of privacy, misappropriation of likeness, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of the Tennessee Personal Rights Protection Act, and wants to stop the publication and distribution of the photos.” TALKERS magazine’s legal department says this is a case where it’s expected that those being sued will wish to settle. The issue of copyright is only relative to the person who took and posted the photo (the teacher or school). The issue that should concern the company is either intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress. Harrison Strategies senior partner, attorney Matthew B. Harrison, states, “It’s going to be difficult for the station or company to claim they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong. They can’t claim it was an accident so unless they want to go to court to try to show there was no emotional distress suffered by the family, they’re going to want to settle this. It’s an example of an all-too-common practice of businesses using the multitude of images out there on the internet, a) without permission and, b) without looking ahead to some very possible consequences that could lead to legal troubles.”
CBS Radio Names Bob Socci New England Patriots Play-By-Play- Announcer. Replacing the legendary Gil Santos was going to be a tough chore for CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” – flagship for the Patriots Radio Network. Santos retired after the 2012 season after 36 years calling Patriots football games. Now, the station announces that play-by-play pro Bob Socci will join color man Scott Zolak in the booth beginning this season. CBS Radio Boston vice president of programming Mike Thomas states, “Bob has more than 16 years of play-by-play experience. We were impressed with his extensive work and expertise calling various football and baseball games and he’s a local guy with great knowledge of the Patriots. No doubt, Bob has big shoes to fill, but we are excited about this new era of play-by-play with Bob and Scott.” Socci’s play-by-play experience includes coverage of the U.S. Naval Academy football team. He is also the lead announcer for CBS Sports Network‘s coverage of Patriot League college basketball.
Dave Ramsey Continues Spring Tour. Nationally syndicated money talk superstar and best-selling author Dave Ramsey continues rolling across the country producing live events. He’s pictured here with Clear Channel’s WHO, Des Moines “NewsRadio” staff that includes general sales manager Mary Grieg (2nd row on the right) and morning show host Bonnie Lucas (3rd row on the right) along with the rest of the WHO sales staff. Ramsey was in Des Moines to present his intimate “Building Your Legacy Live Event” to a sold-out crowd. The program discusses how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. Ramsey worked with local affiliate WHO to promote the event. WHO program director Van Harden says, “At WHO Radio, we are incredibly excited about Dave Ramsey coming to Des Moines for his Living a Legacy live event. We’ve always known that Iowa is ‘Ramsey Country,’ but we found out again when we offered these tickets for sale and Dave had one of his fastest sell-outs ever. This is the kind of radio that really hits home and we’re glad to have it on WHO.” Ramsey was also in Austin this week on Tuesday where he hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” before a record crowd at Riverbend Centre. Ramsey, along with speaker Chris Hogan, spoke to more 1,300 attendees about how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 300 team members. Local affiliate KJCE vice president and market manager Alan Kirshborn states, “We always look forward to welcoming Dave Ramsey and his team for an event in Austin. In Chapter 13 of EntreLeadership, Dave describes three things successful people never skip. In my opinion this event should be added to the list!”
Lee Cruse to Take Over Midday Show on WVLK-AM, Lexington. WLEX-TV, Lexington, Kentucky morning and noon newscaster Lee Cruse will become the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon talk show host on Cumulus Media’s WVLK-AM beginning May 1, replacing the retiring Sue Wylie. Cruse previously hosted a talk show at Clear Channel’s crosstown WLAP but that program ended as a result of budget cuts. Cruse tells the Lexington Herald-Leader his show will be a bit lighter than Wylie’s. “I’m looking for more light and fun. It won’t mean we won’t talk about things like Boston and other things happening here in our community, but I’m always looking for the laugh. Always.”
WJZ-FM, Baltimore Morning Host Ed Norris Hospitalized After Motorcycle Accident. Morning drive co-host Ed Norris – one half of the Norris & Davis program on CBS Radio’s sports talk “105.7 The Fan” – is still hospitalized after an accident in northern Harford County, Maryland. According to the Baltimore Sun, Norris was riding his motorcycle and swerved to avoid a truck and had to lay down his bike. The paper reports his injuries are not life threatening and one report indicates he may have a broken arm.
NFL’s 2013 Draft Draws Sports Talk Radio to NYC. The biggest off-season activity in the NFL’s yearly schedule takes place beginning tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York and the sports radio networks are covering it in full force. Fox Sports Radio will air its first-ever, two-night draft event, sponsored by Bridgestone. Fox NFL Insider Jay Glazer will lead the first-round coverage on Thursday joined by former USC Trojan and Fox Sports Radio host Petros Papadakis and current NFL linebacker and Fox Sports Radio host Kirk Morrison. The second and third rounds of the draft will be covered by Jason Smith and Morrison. NBC Sports Radio’s Jon Stashower will broadcast his weeknight talk show from the venue tonight for the first round of the draft. The program airs from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm and will feature special guests including fellow NBC Sports Radio colleague and former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer. And as TALKERS reported earlier in the week, ESPN Radio’s Mike Hill and Mark Schlereth will broadcast from the draft and will feature the additional analysis of ESPN’s John Clayton and Mel Kiper, Jr.
‘Coast to Coast AM’ Host George Noory Participates in Space Day. The Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host is pictured here at Jefferson Elementary School in Riverside, California speaking with a student during “Space Day” activities at the school. George Noory was the keynote speaker at the 15th annual Space Day event at Jefferson Elementary School sponsored by Lockheed Martin. The event drew nearly 1,600 students from four local elementary schools who spent the day learning how environmental scientists and aeronautical engineers use science and math to explore space and protect the environment. The students also experienced and participated in more than 50 hands-on activity stations with space exploration and environmental related themes. Noory presented an inspiring and engaging presentation to students on the importance of learning math, science and technology, as well as always being curious so they could become life-long learners. He challenged the youngsters — who ranged from second to sixth graders and were already well accustomed to using Facebook, Instagram and smartphone technology — to ask questions, seek answers and find their own truths.
Alliance for Women in Media Lobbies Obama Administration on FCC Chairman Issue. The Alliance for Women in Media is letting the Obama Administration know it is concerned about diversity and inclusion relative to the broadcasting industry and wants the White House to take that into consideration when it nominates a new FCC chairman to replace outgoing chairman Julius Genachowski. The organization’s president Erin Fuller says, “The Alliance for Women in Media has been encouraged by the past appointments of commissioners that share our priorities of diversity and inclusion. We eagerly await the FCC to reach full composition, and stand ready to assist in areas including research, public education and promoting the role of all forms of media in our society.” The AWM says it “strongly believes the FCC needs leaders committed to reversing the extraordinarily low representation of minorities and women in media and telecom ownership, procurement and employment, yet the representation of women and minorities remains disproportionately low in industries overseen by the FCC. These industries collectively represent one-sixth of our nation’s economy.” The letter to the White House notes that “minority and women’s participation in broadcast ownership are particularly at risk, as they continue to decline rapidly. As the nation becomes increasingly diverse, the signers of this letter encourage our president to address these issues by nominating leaders who will assign the highest priority to racial and ethnic minority and women’s participation in the nation’s most influential industries.”
Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Immigration Reform, Sequester Effects/Airline Delays, Gun Control Legislation, and Bush Presidential Library Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/24). The ongoing post-bombing analysis and legal case surrounding Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; the debate over immigration reform; the effects of the sequester and the growing delays in airline schedules; proposals for gun control legislation and the new Bush Presidential Library were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.