By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
KANSAS CITY — When you’re in radio and you lose your job, in almost all cases you begin looking for another job at another radio station, whether it’s in the same city or another market. For some, the intrigue of the internet brings them to the digital frontier. If the choice becomes the digital divide, then the question then becomes, “How can you make money?”
For that answer, you can ask “Radio George.”
Sports Talk King Mike Francesa Credits Colleagues at WFAN for his Success with Special Salute to Former Partner Chris Russo. In a special statement issued to TALKERS, afternoon drive superstar Mike Francesa – named the Most Important Sports Talk Radio Host in America in the recently released “2012 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk” — expresses his gratitude to “all the people who have helped make WFAN the iconic station it has become.” He congratulates his teammates at the station that also made the list and particularly credits his former on-air partner Chris Russo (currently at SiriusXM Satellite Radio) saying, “I wouldn’t be commanding the top spot in the Hundred without his enormous contribution to my career.” The TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk has generated enormous mainstream press and internet chatter propelling the Big Apple mainstay into the national spotlight. Here is Francesa’s complete statement: “I commend Talkers for recognizing the importance of sports talk as a viable and efficient format in radio programming. In this the 25th year of WFAN, there are over 600 sports talk stations across our nation. I am honored to have been chosen by your editorial board to top the list. It is a special distinction to be cited by professionals who understand our medium so well. I accept this honor for all the people who have helped make WFAN the iconic station it has become and congratulate my FAN colleagues who made the list – Boomer Esiason, Craig Carton, Joe Benigno, Evan Roberts, Steve Somers, and especially my partner of almost 20 years, Chris Russo. I wouldn’t be commanding the top spot in the Hundred without his enormous contribution to my career. Again, I am very grateful for the honor and wish you continued success.
All the best
2012 Marconi Award Nominees Announced; CBS Radio Sports Talk Hosts Mike Francesa and Angelo Cataldi Up for Major Market Personality of the Year. The winners of the 2012 NAB Marconi Awards will be announced on September 20 at The Radio Show in Dallas. This year’s nominees include sports talk radio personalities Mike Francesa of WFAN, New York and Angelo Cataldi of WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia for Major Market Personality of the Year. Both Francesa and Cataldi were named to the 2012 TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk this week – Francesa at #1 and Cataldi at # 10. DirecTV/Fox Sports Radio Network personality Dan Patrick is the lone sports talk figure up for Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year. He’s up against talk hosts Neal Boortz and Dial Global’s Dennis Miller and music radio hosts Elvis Duran of Premiere Networks and Reach Media’s Tom Joyner. Other spoken-word nominees include: KYW, Philadelphia; WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte; and WFAN, New York for Legendary Station. Jan Mickelson from WHO, Des Moines is the lone talker up for Medium Market Personality of the Year. Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington is nominated for Major Market Station of the Year. News/talk WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville and sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit are up for Large Market Station of the Year. WHO, Des Moines and WTIC-AM, Hartford are nominated for Medium Market Station of the Year. The nominees for News/Talk Station of the Year are: KCBS-AM, San Francisco; KFGO, Fargo; WBBM-AM, Chicago; WGN, Chicago; and WTOP, Washington, DC. Nominees for Sports Station of the Year are: KTCK, Dallas; WEEI, Boston; WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia; WSCR, Chicago; and WXYT-FM, Detroit.
Glenn Beck Plans Major Expansion at TheBlaze. The talk media superstar and digital media pioneer tells WXKS-AM, Boston morning drive host Jeff Katz during a recent appearance on his program that he intends to hire as many as 200 new staffers for TheBlaze in the coming months. TheBlaze – the multi-media news and programming initiative of Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts – already has approximately 120 employees. The news came within the context of an on-air conversation between Katz and Beck about the state of business in America under the Obama administration. Beck also alluded to the ease with which he’s been able to build his business – and create jobs – since moving away from New York City to the Dallas, Texas area.
Tai Irwin Hosts Final Morning Show on Alternative Rock WFNX, Boston. Radio personality (and faculty member at The New England Institute of Art) Tai Irwin reprising the role he played for 10 years at alternative rock WFNX, Boston today (7/20) as the station broadcasts its final day of alt-rock before Clear Channel takes control later in the day. Irwin and other personalities were invited to do one last show and Irwin tells TALKERS WFNX “launched me into the national talk scene due to my talk show and industry convention presence where I met and befriended Gene Burns and Jerry Williams, before I eventually left to work for Kevin Straley at WRKO. During my time there I interviewed everyone from Noam Chomsky and Jerry Brown to Mitt Romney.” In addition to his work at the NEIA, Irwin is involved with tom Leykis’ New Normal where he’ll debut a new podcast called, “The Tai-rade” very soon. As for what Clear Channel will do with the new FM signal, speculation runs the gamut from an FM signal for news/talk WXKS-AM to a brand new classic hits format. We’ll know soon enough.
Washington, DC Talk Host Andy Parks Gets Multi-Media Marketing Initiative. Washington talk radio personality Andy Parks – a long-time figure on crosstown WMAL – is heard in PM drive on Metro Radio Inc.’s WTNT as well as on WashingtonTimes.com. The show is called “Andy Parks Live from the Washington Times” and the paper is devising a multi-media marketing ploy to create awareness of the show. Using the line, “Online. On the Air. On Your Doorstep.” The Times is promoting Parks’ show with a reference to President Obama’s controversial statement about jobs creation not belonging to builders of small businesses and employs the phrase, “Andy Begs to Differ” in bold print in an ad in the newspaper. The Times says it plans to begin a digital initiative using the same campaign technique in the near future.
Flip to Talk for Florence, South Carolina FM; Station Nabs Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh. Miller Communications moved its plans to flip to talk up a couple of weeks when Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh became available after crosstown WJMX-AM/FM dropped Limbaugh’s program. WFRK-FM added Limbaugh to the schedule three days after WJMX dropped the show declaring to SCNow.com that decreased listenership, advertiser skittishness and increased costs associated with the show forced the decision. WFRK-FM CEO Harold Miller says the station will launch as a talk outlet officially on August 1 but could only say “Kinard and Koffee in the Morning” will be part of the lineup as other deals for programming are still in the works.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Cox Media Group names Ben Reed vice president and market manager for its Atlanta station group that includes news/talk WSB-AM/FM. He takes over for Dan Kearney who moved south to become VP/market manager for Cox Media Group Miami…..Houston talk radio personality Matt Patrick hosts the final live debate between Texas Senatorial candidates Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and former Texas State Solicitor Ted Cruz on his PM drive show on The 9-5-0 KPRC this afternoon at 3:20. The primary election is July 31…..New England Patriots football great Gino Cappelletti announces he is retiring from his post as color man for radio broadcasts of Patriots football games – a job he’s held for the past 32 years. Cappelletti has worked alongside Gil Santos for the past 28 years. Comcast SportsNet is reporting WBZ-FM, Boston – 98.5 The Sports Hub – host and former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak will likely be named Santos’ partner in the booth…..Midway Broadcasting Corporation’s WVON, Chicago hosts the 2nd Annual Taste of WVON neighborhood festival tomorrow from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm at Lorraine Dixon Park in Chicago. The event features more than 60 food and craft vendors and live entertainment…..Tribune’s WGN, Chicago has a weekend full of special broadcasts planned to celebrate the induction of Cubs legend Ron Santo into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. WGN’s Dave Eanet will report from Cooperstown throughout the weekend and a special Ron Santo Hall of Fame edition of Cubs Confidential will air Sunday from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm featuring broadcast clips from the Ron Santo Cubs Legend CD. The station will also delay broadcast the induction ceremony after Sunday’s Cubs game…..ESPN Deportes brings Mexican soccer great Francisco Gabriel de Anda aboard to join the network’s team of expert analysts. De Anda will be integrated into Futbol Picante’s table of analysts Fridays and Saturdays, and become part of ESPN Futbol Center, the program dedicated to Mexican and International soccer.
Talk Host Tom Becka Calls on Nebraska Listeners to Protest Penn State. November 10 is the date of the Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Penn State and Fargo, North Dakota-based talk host Tom Becka is rallying his listeners who hear his show from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on KKAR, Omaha to donate their tickets for the game to local kids who may never get the chance to see a big game. Becka says, “I am calling on my listeners in Nebraska to donate their Penn State tickets to any children’s group or give it to some kids in the neighborhood that normally wouldn’t be able to go. I’d love to see the stands loaded with children for any Penn State away game. That way kids get to see a game and the fans get to protest in a civil manner the neglect of Joe Paterno and the Penn State program.” The NCAA is currently reviewing the Penn State situation and although the “death penalty” is a possibility for the football program, it probably would not go into effect until next season.
2012 Presidential Race Remains Atop Talkers TenTM for Second Straight Week. The various storylines relative to the November presidential election were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of July 16 – 20. Coming in at #2 this week was the report of increased jobless claims. At #3 was Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony before Congress about the state of the U.S. economy and at #4 was President Obama’s unveiling of the $1 billion Master Teacher Corp program. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from Talkers. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
Mike & Mike on David Letterman. ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic recently made their 9th appearance on CBS TV’s “Late Night with David Letterman” and the day was documented by Greenberg’s wife Stacey – aka Mrs. Greeny – for ESPN Front Row, where fans get a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite personalities. Pictured here are (from l-r): Mike Greenberg, Stacey Greenberg, actress Kyra Sedgwick, and Mike Golic taken backstage.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Daily Wrap from The Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner” is added to the program schedule at Clear Channel’s WRDU, Raleigh and WERC-AM/FM, Birmingham…..The “Motley Fool Money” radio show featuring host Chris Hill adds affiliates WPLM, Plymouth, Massachusetts; WBNW, Concord, Massachusetts; and WESO, Southbridge, Massachusetts.
SiriusXM Bests Howard Stern in Court. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman reports on a New York State Supreme Court judge’s decision to throw out Howard Stern’s $300 million suit against employer SiriusXM. Weisman notes that the judge concluded that Stern and agent Don Buchwald were paid bonuses due as the result of the Sirius and XM merger but that Stern’s contention his bonus was calculated improperly was dismissed. Read more here.
Tom Becka Returns to Air in Omaha on NRG’s KKAR. Talk host Tom Becka recently joined Radio Fargo-Moorhead’s new FM talk outlet KRWK-FM, Fargo – 101.9 Talk FM – where he serves as program director and morning drive host. He retains that post but adds a two-hour PM drive talk show at NRG Media’s KKAR, Omaha airing from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Becka was heard in the market for years on Clear Channel’s crosstown KFAB until he parted ways with the station last fall. NRG Omaha market manager Andy Ruback states, “I had a short but critical list of talent I wanted to recruit to our cluster of stations and having the legendary Tom Becka join the lineup on ‘The Mighty 1290’ truly offers our listeners localized content with an edge. Having Tom on our team provides a perfect fit for our Mighty 1290 brand and I am confident the listeners will definitely tune in to hear Tom’s take on everything from politics, lifestyle, newsmakers and more.” On his return to the air in Omaha, Becka says, “I’m looking forward to working very hard for two great companies doing what I love to do. I’m having a blast building a new FM talker for Radio Fargo-Moorhead, and now NRG Media and ‘The Mighty 1290’ are giving me a chance to continue to have a strong presence in Omaha. I have the best of all worlds. I’m a blessed man to be able to have these two great opportunities.”
ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg Co-Hosts “Live with Kelly” Today. ESPN Radio personality Mike Greenberg – one half of the Mike & Mike syndicated morning drive show – will co-host ABC’s “Live with Kelly” show this morning at 9:00 am ET. Host Kelly Ripa called in to the Mike & Mike show yesterday to promote Greenberg’s appearance. She notes actress Olivia Wilde is among today’s guests prompting Greenberg to say, “I want every girl who ignored me in high school to tune in tomorrow.” Ripa quickly replied, “Think we’ll get a boost in ratings when every girl who was mean to you tunes in?”
New “Business for Breakfast” Morning Show Airs on Colorado Financial Talk Outlets. Radio Colorado Network’s new “Business for Breakfast” show is the new AM drive show on Pilgrim Communications’ KRCN, Denver/Ft. Collins and KREL, Colorado Springs/Pueblo. Hosted by Marc Mandel, Harriet Fox and Roger Cridlebaugh, the program is produced by Radio Colorado Network which promotes the program stating “the new and improved ‘Business for Breakfast’ gives listeners current market analysis, economic updates and timely interviews with featured guests. This show is informative, educational and entertaining with the intent to best position listeners for the opening bell and start of the day.”
Palm Springs Talk Host Lee Rayburn Resigns; Announces Move “Back East.” Until last Friday, Lee Rayburn was afternoon host at Morris Communications’ KNEWS multi-cast in the Palm Springs market. Rayburn resigned on air at the end of his show on April 13 stating he was taking a position “back East.” Rayburn and KNEWS have been embroiled in a controversy surrounding a civil suit for defamation, libel and invasion of privacy against Rayburn and the station by local business person Pete Chryss. The Desert Sun reports Chryss alleges Rayburn and the station made false and malicious statements about him on the radio – charges the station denies. Chryss was providing security services for a number of city-owned buildings but those contracts were canceled in the wake of public scrutiny over Chryss’ relationship with a former city councilor.
Cumulus Media Providence Helps Raise More Than $600k for Children’s Hospital. Last week’s Cumulus Media-sponsored, two-day radiothon for the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence helped raise $611,312. The Cumulus cluster – including news/talk WPRO/WEAN-FM — encouraged listeners and website visitors to donate in support of the hospital while on-air personalities interviewed dozens of patients and family members of the hospital, hoping to raise awareness of the doctors, hospital and care they provide. WPRO/WEAN-FM program director Paul Giammarco says, “Cumulus Media Providence and our affiliated stations would like to extend our heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated to this incredible cause, you all made a difference in the lives of so many local children and families.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Dr. Thomas Tracy; Tony Torres, 2012 Champion Child; WPRO/WEAN PM drive talk host Buddy Cianci; WPRO/WEAN-FM morning news host Tara Granahan; and Dr. Robert Klein.
2012 Presidential Race, Obama Oil Price Regulation Program, GSA Scandal and North Korea Military Ambitions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/17). The 2012 presidential showdown between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney; President Obama’s program to regulate oil prices; the testimony about the Government Services Agency spending scandal; and concern over North Korea’s military ambitions were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Support for Fisher House Recognized. ABC News Radio vice president and general manager Steve Jones (l) accepts a plaque from Fisher House vice president of community relations Cynthia Campbell (r) for ABC’s assistance to the veterans organization. Fisher House, which provides housing to the families of military personnel being treated at military and VA hospitals, says ABC lent critical pro bono technical support to “The Gift,” Fisher House’s Christmas radio broadcast, which aired on 85 radio stations and helped generate a 30% year-to-year increase in giving during the last week of 2011.
WQAM, Miami Host Sid Rosenberg Serving Unpaid Suspension. Sid Rosenberg’s been off the air at WQAM, Miami for several weeks now with a lot of speculation as to why. Now, according to Jose Lambiet’s Gossip Extra, the Beasley Broadcasting sports talk host is serving a six-week unpaid suspension for a plugola deal to pay off a gambling debt. Lambiet cites a source connected to the station reporting that Rosenberg had a debt of about $100,000 to a sports betting organization and he was going to pay off the debt by plugging the operation on his program. The details of the arrangement were spelled out in a fax to Rosenberg at the WQAM offices that the source says Rosenberg accidently left on the fax machine. It was discovered “before he did any damage,” according to the source. Rosenberg is scheduled to return to the air on January 2.
Phil Tower Returns to Program Director Post at WOOD-AM/FM and WTKG, Grand Rapids. Clear Channel has been looking for a new program director for its Grand Rapids, Michigan news/talk duo of WOOD-AM/FM and WTKG since Paul Cashin left in August. Now a familiar face returns to the building as Phil Tower takes over the PD post he held for so many years. Tower was most recently general manager of publications/multimedia at Stafford Media Solutions. Prior to that he was general manager of the nationally syndicated Allen Hunt show.
WBAL, Baltimore Talk Host Ron Smith Dies at 70. It’s only been two months since WBAL talk host Ron Smith announced he’d been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. He passed away on December 19 at his home in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania after several weeks in hospice care. Smith spent more than 25 years at WBAL and was an institution in the market as a talk radio host and, in later years, as a columnist with the Baltimore Sun as well.
Rumor: WMAL, Washington Talk Host Chris Plante to Be Syndicated. DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports rumors of a plan by Cumulus Media to syndicate Chris Plante’s 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET talk show to other stations on some sort of limited basis. It could be that Cumulus is taking a page from Clear Channel’s playbook and is planning to distribute programming to smaller regional markets emanating from large markets like DC. Hughes also reports talk of more job cuts coming to the Cumulus cluster in Washington.
Dave Ramsey to Buy Nashville Office Building. The Tennesseean is reporting that nationally syndicated talk host Dave Ramsey – through a company called Andy’s Union, LLC – is buying a four-story office building in downtown Nashville for $1.6 million. The building is known locally as the Jackson law office since it sits on the site of what is believed to have been the law office of Andrew Jackson. The current building was built in 1996. Ramsey’s plans for the building are unknown.
“The Costa Report” Clears Seattle on Fisher’s KVI, Seattle. When KVI returns to a talk format in January, it’ll air the weekly “Costa Report” program being distributed by Broadcast Affiliate Sales. The program is described as “a weekly news talk program which features a one-hour interview with a world leader or expert, followed by a second hour of call-ins from listeners.” It’s hosted by Rebecca Costa who states, “Americans are sick and tired of the rage-a-holics who have hijacked talk radio, hosts who, day after day, spew hateful, divisive rhetoric which has torn the country apart. ‘The Costa Report’ is the voice of the ‘rational center of America’ – citizens who don’t care if a solution comes from the left or the right as long as it really works.” Costa is a sociobiologist and author of The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction (Vanguard Press 2010).
Wrappin’ With Jack! This mass of people you see here are gathered at Northside Ford in San Antonio for the 13th annual Wrappin’ With Jack event in which listeners gather to wrap donated gift items for children and adults through the Family Services Association of San Antonio. KTSA’s Jack Riccardi proudly notes that some 600 people showed up to volunteer their services. “We set new records for participants, gifts donated, and for the first time in our 13 years, we managed to ‘adopt’ 100% of the families FSA was hoping to serve. I think our growth is largely due to the unique call-to-action: You don’t have to donate money or a toy to participate (although many people do) – all we ask is that you show up and help us wrap, while enjoying live Christmas music performed by local musicians and treats served by local restaurants. Although the radio station gets behind ‘WWJ’ logistically, it’s mainly a talk show host appealing to his listeners for help in a worthy cause, and people responding to the intimacy and immediacy of that.” The event took place on December 13 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Steve Gill Launches “Generous Hearts” Charitable Program. Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill recently created the Generous Hearts charitable organization in conjunction with local charities Nashville Wraps and A Generous Heart. Since November, it has raised $20,000 in cash for the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, 750 turkeys delivered to the Nashville Rescue Mission and has offered aid to six homeless Sumner County families to bring Christmas to life this season. Gill says Generous Hearts is aligning with a regional food bank’s mobile pantry to help feed Middle Tennessee’s hungry families. Gill states, “The ‘Generous Hearts’ project initiative, throughout 2012, is to raise funds as well as provide increased visibility to people and organizations in need. As an active community member, ‘friend-raising’ is as vital as fundraising.”
NRG Media’s KKAR, Omaha Raises Funds for Child Saving Institute. On Friday, December 16, news/talk KKAR, Omaha held a radiothon to raise funds for the Child Saving Institute that provides a safe haven and healing for thousands of innocent young victims of family crisis, neglect and abuse. Program director Neil Nelkin says the event raised $60,000 for the institute. “The listeners of KKAR delivered again this year. Despite the economy, the listeners opened their hearts and their wallets to make a difference for a wonderful cause that will brighten the holidays of hundreds of children in need throughout Omaha.”