Mike Agovino Named to New Executive Vice Chairman Role at Courtside Entertainment/PodcastOne. After Triton Digital was acquired by private equity firm Vector Capitol late last week, Triton co-founder and COO Mike Agovino leaves that company to join Norm Pattiz’s Courtside Entertainment and PodcastOne to serve in the newly created post executive vice chairman. A press statement from Courtside says that Agovino will “work with chairman and CEO Norm Pattiz, president Kit Gray and COO Greg Batusic across all divisions of PodcastOne and Courtside Entertainment, contributing his extensive experience in new media technology, audience analysis and development, and revenue growth for the continued expansion of the groundbreaking podcast network.” Pattiz states, “Mike has been a pioneer in the audio industry and brings a unique global perspective of the digital audio business to PodcastOne. He shares our vision that on-demand premium content is a key driver in the future of audio, and I look forward to working with him as we continue to build audience and revenue, while creating new opportunities across this powerful and growing platform.” Agovino’s career began at Katz Media where he spent 18 years rising to become president of Katz Radio before launching Katz Interactive and later Clear Channel Radio Sales as president/COO. He departed Katz to become co-COO of Interep Radio Sales, leaving several years later to start Triton.
The LA Dodgers and iHeartMedia Re-Brand Sports Talker KLAC, Los Angeles. Big changes come to sports talker KLAC, Los Angeles as now-co-owners iHeartMedia and the Los Angeles Dodgers re-brand the station to reflect this new relationship. The new brand is “AM 570 LA Sports” and it comes with some programming changes. (Oh yes, it also includes the Dodgers’ spiffy new 2015 slogan, “We Love LA!”) The programming lineup is as follows: Dan Patrick from 6:00 am to 9:00 am; the newly created “LA Today with Bill Reiter and Leann Tweeden” from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; Jay Mohr from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm; “The Petros and Money Show” with Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm; plus another new addition, “Dodger Talk featuring David Vassegh and Kevin Kennedy,” which will air immediately following Dodgers baseball games or at 7:00 pm Monday through Friday. That show will air year round starting with Spring Training and throughout the regular season.
Mark Starling New AM Host/News Director at WWNC, Asheville. From his most recent gig as afternoon drive anchor at Cox Media Group’s WDBO, Orlando “News 96.5FM,” Mark Starling heads North to Asheville, North Carolina to serve as the morning host and news/director at iHeartMedia’s WWNC “News Radio 570.” Starling says if his new challenge, “Making the jump to the Asheville market is exactly the kind of move I have been after for several reasons. Not only is it the chance to get back to doing mornings, but the chance to really create a hyper-local morning show concentrating on the news and information the community is really looking for. It’s an adventure I can’t wait to get started on.” Starling starts March 25.
Larry Gifford: Radiodays Europe – Day Two. Consultant and talent coach Larry Gifford is in Milan, Italy attending the Radiodays Europe 2015 conference and files this special report to TALKERS magazine. On day two, Gifford covered, among other things, a keynote speech by iHeartMedia/Premiere Networks morning show star Elvis Duran (pictured here). The “Z100”-based morning personality says over the years he’s come to appreciate his work even more than when he was young. That’s based in part on his believing that he’s not bigger than the show. He says he’s also found new joy in helping people – especially listeners – tell their stories. Also included in this report is a “psychoanalysis” of radio and Australian personality Mel Greig’s thoughts about her infamous prank call to a London hospital that resulted in a nurse committing suicide. Read Gifford’s full report here.
Nielsen Audio Releases First Round of February 2015 PPM Data. The first of four rounds of February 2015 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The February 2015 survey period covered January 29 through February 25. You can find the complete ratings from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Ten Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
Fisher and Kage Launch New Program on Digital Platform. Tampa Bay radio pros Chris Fisher and Jesse Kage are launching a videocast to stream live Monday through Thursday from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm ET via their “Fisher and Kage” app and www.fisherandkage.com. The duo says the “uncensored show” will also be available on-demand and will stream from a brand new studio at Jannus Live in downtown St. Petersburg. They’ve named “Special” Ed Grubbe as executive producer. Fisher hosted mornings at WSUN, Tampa “97X” from 2001-2011 and worked at WHPT, Tampa “102.5 The Bone” before exiting in 2013. Jesse Kage worked at “97X” from 2004 to 2007 before moving to WXTB, Tampa “98Rock” where he worked afternoons until last year.
Odds & Sods. On-air changes take place at Dot Com Plus-owned sports talk WNSP, Mobile “Sports Radio 105.5 FM” as Chip Ramsey is replaced in the AM drive chair by PM drive co-host Mark Heim. Afternoon co-host Randy Kennedy recently assumed programming responsibilities from Ramsey…..SiriusXM announces the debut of an all-new channel curated and presented by multi-media star Andy Cohen. The host of “Watch What Happens Live” on Bravo will also host a weekly radio show in addition to producing the new Radio Andy channel.
Meeting of Mega-Mouths. The Palm Beaches in sunny Florida have become one of the talk radio capitals of the nation as evidenced by the chance meeting the other evening of syndicated stars Rush Limbaugh and Howie Carr at a local PB eatery. Carr and his dynamic wife Kathy Carr were on the scene taking a brief break from the frozen, snowy tundra that has gripped New England this winter. The Carrs will be two of approximately 65 speakers who will be addressing a sold-out, packed house at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2015 on Friday, June 12.
2016 Presidential Prospects, Hillary Clinton Email Probe, Ferguson Cops Shootings, Iran Nukes/GOP Letter, Fate of Netanyahu, Battle Against ISIS, Russia Flexes Military Muscle, 49er Borland Retires at 24, and March Madness Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/16). The potential candidates for president in 2016 and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s visit to New Hampshire last weekend; the ongoing controversy over Hillary Clinton’s use of private email for State Department business; the case of the two officers shot in Ferguson; the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear policy and the GOP letter to the Iranian government; the Israeli elections and the fate of Benjamin Netanyahu; the continuing battle against ISIS; Russia’s ramping up of military activity and Vladimir Putin’s talk of nuclear readiness; the early retirement of 49ers linebacker Chris Borland at age 24 due to concerns about brain injury; and the field for the NCAA men’s basketball tourney were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Joe McDonnell: LA Saddened at Giant-Size Talent’s Passing. How “big” was Joe McDonnell in Los Angeles? Consider this: Friday’s (3/13) lead item for several newscasts on the city’s only all-news station, CBS Radio‘s KNX, was that the 58-year-old McDonnell – widely-known as “Big Joe” or “The Big Nasty” – had passed away. “Big” references regarded his weight, approximately 700 pounds at one time; however, the sports talk host underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost roughly more than half of that. “Nasty” became a handle owing to his highly opinionated nature. The overwhelming majority of those familiar with McDonnell’s exemplary on-air work in Los Angeles would quickly associate him with being a “legendary” or “iconic” sports talk radio “fixture” and that would certainly be accurate. He was, however, among the rarest of on-air talents in the country’s second-largest market, in that, in addition to doing a nightly (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm) sports program (“The Joe McDonnell Experience”) on Clear Channel‘s (now iHeartMedia) KLAC, he also did a Sunday (12:00 noon – 2:00 pm) political talk program (“The Joe McDonnell Show”) on co-owned KTLK-AM (now KEIB). Most recently, McDonnell did fill-in work at KNX. Reaction to his death has continued virtually nonstop, with a who’s who in local and national media, as well as executives of major sports franchises, offering condolences. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew McDonnell ever since Scioscia first came up as a catcher in the Dodgers’ organization. “He was a good friend who will be missed. It’s sad,” Scioscia states. On Twitter, Keith Olbermann writes, “Heartbroken to learn of death of LA radio legend, my friend, Joe McDonnell. He leaves us having never held a grudge.” Ken Rosenthal comments, “So sad to hear about the passing of Joe McDonnell, a one-of-a-kind sports personality in Los Angeles and a reporter at heart.” Several years ago, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian, then the special features editor for Inside Radio, did an extensive profile of McDonnell, who freely used the word “idiot” to describe someone with whom he disagreed. It was a trademark of the bombastic on-air persona of “The Big Nasty” and customarily delivered in vitriol by the dean of Los Angeles radio sports talk hosts. McDonnell garnered legions of dedicated fans. Once – to benefit charity – he accepted the challenge of co-workers and successfully completed a four-hour shift without uttering one negative. In his profile, Kinosian shattered the myth about McDonnell and let the truth be told that in real-life, McDonnell was a far cry from the manic personality listeners were accustomed to hearing. Pensive and completely conscientious McDonnell qualified as a native Angelino, having relocated from Philadelphia in 1959 at age three with his parents. “I loved radio and wouldn’t go anywhere without it,” he fondly recalled to Kinosian. “I’d go to bed listening to it and wake up with it. I went through radios [as others] went through socks. Even when doing homework, I had the radio on.” Although thoroughly enthralled by the medium, McDonnell at that time never thought about pursuing a career in it. Family members urged him to be a lawyer, but McDonnell formulated sportswriter aspirations while attending L.A. Valley College and Cal State – Northridge. His radio career was, in his words, “a total accident.” A high school buddy McDonnell hadn’t seen in a while told him he received academic credit for working at a radio station. That was all it took for McDonnell: He scored an interview for a newsroom opening at KGIL in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and his first day was September 18, 1975 – the day they arrested Patty Hearst. “I was so excited to be there and hung around to watch what everybody did. Then the story broke and I wound up staying until 10:00 pm. I fell in love with radio my first day and knew this was for me.” Freelance sports opportunities later surfaced for him at Mutual, AP Radio, and UPI Radio and he adroitly transitioned into a daily field correspondent. Play-by-play was briefly tinkered with, but long enough for McDonnell to know it didn’t captivate him. Something else did and as he flatly asserted to Kinosian, “My interest in politics is equal to my interest in sports. They are jobs but they are [also] passions. I love being able to show another side of my life. I am very liberal but do not [rubber-stamp] everything simply because that is what [other liberals] say you should do. I take things on a position-by-position basis. It is impossible and disingenuous to be one way on every subject. No one can ever accuse me of being a phony.” The first Gulf War was underway when he hosted a general talk show on KFI, Los Angeles. America’s first casualty came as a result of friendly fire. Soon after that, the victim’s widow drove to KFI one Sunday afternoon and McDonnell did two hours with her. “It was the most gut-wrenching, yet most fulfilling, thing I’ve done on radio,” he told Kinosian. “Quite honestly, I didn’t know I was capable of pulling it off. People heard me do sports and wondered what I knew about [politics]. I had to win them over.” Multiple Golden Microphone award winner McDonnell toiled in the Southland at KMAX and KWNK between 1994 – 1997; won raves doing sports updates for (then-all news) KFWB; and was part of the original 1992 staff transitioning KMPC to all-sports – although the outbreak of the L.A. riots was the considerably more monumental story the night of the format flip. For numerous personal and professional reasons, a five-year run beginning in 2000 as KSPN “ESPN 710,” Los Angeles’ assistant program director and afternoon driver profoundly affected him. “My first three years there were great,” McDonnell declared to Kinosian. “I had a say in what went on and helped build KSPN from the ground up with [KABC & KSPN OM] Erik Braverman who was my KFI producer. Unfortunately when Erik decided he wanted to concentrate on KABC, they brought in people who didn’t share our ideas.” It was one different concept after another and became the beginning of the end for McDonnell there. “They killed morale and dissolved everything we did. I wanted to leave every day the last two years I was there but made so much money I would’ve been put in a mental institution if I quit.” From the minute McDonnell walked into the Burbank offices of KLAC to interview with KLAC general manager/program director & KTLK program director Don Martin, he sensed something different. “This might sound crazy – but I really liked that they made me earn my position. Don put me on KTLK and let me do some KLAC fill-in. It meant a lot when he said I assimilated with the audience and staff. People have this idea you expect everything be given to you.” Being a sports talk host was a 24 hour-a-day job for McDonnell because, “Information doesn’t stop.” His shows were frequently punctuated with “24” and “Da Ali G” clips and laced with abundant/energetic hip-hop tracks as bumpers. At first, longtime “McDonnell – Douglas” partner Doug Krikorian wasn’t part of the equation for the “Joe McDonnell Experience,” although the Long Beach Press-Telegram sportswriter joined the ensemble to deliver weekly “K-Files” reports. After all, it was Krikorian who hung the “Big Nasty” moniker on McDonnell when Big Joe collared/disposed of a rowdy patron one night at their favorite hangout. Naturally, the subject of McDonnell’s weight came up in the Kinosian profile of him and McDonnell said that even before the gastric bypass procedure, the heavy burden he was carrying didn’t really bother him. He did however eventually begin slowing down, getting sick, and spending more time at home. “I stopped going to games because it was uncomfortable. My doctor told me I had to do something. Any addict – and I’m definitely a food addict – thinks you can do it on your own.” That’s the fallacy and something an addict desperately wants to believe but McDonnell stressed it can not be done alone. “It got to the point where I realized I was going to die. I had the surgery and lost 300 pounds. On Christmas Day, I put slabs of turkey and prime rib on a plate [surrounded with] potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. I took it to the table and had a bite of each. Hey look – I’m a food addict and always will be.” The old Joe most likely would’ve avoided on-air surgery mentions. If it did pop up, he probably would’ve been brutal in challenging the person referencing it. A much mellower McDonnell made a conscious decision when he left KSPN that the “Big Nasty” had died. “It was a great vehicle for what I needed – but – that really isn’t me,” he emphasized to Kinosian. “I’m opinionated and will raise my voice but I’m a nice guy and like to have fun. One reason I love my job is it allows me to hang with people.” Conceding it was a “shortcoming” on his part as a talk show host to refrain from mentioning much about his personal life, McDonnell declared, “You can’t be isolated and expect to reach your audience; you have to let them in on your life. For the most part, I refused to do that. Don Martin and I had a long talk about that and he said the best on-air people let you know about them.” A happy, healthy, and exuberant McDonnell chatted up his March 30, 2007 wedding to KLOS’ lovely Elizabeth Cohn (now working at cross-town Bonneville-owned KSWD “The Sound”). “I finally met someone who will put up with me and I [married] the most wonderful person in the world,” McDonnell emphasized in that profile. Joe and Elizabeth worked together for four years inside ABC Radio Los Angeles (now Cumulus Media) and basically didn’t say a word to each other. “She understands I’ll occasionally make fun of her on-air and exaggerate things but my life is now an open book.” Numerous health ailments – some nearly life-threatening – plagued McDonnell and he frequently credited Elizabeth as being the rock who held him together. An avowed movie junkie, McDonnell would go to as many as three or four in one day. It was his way to relax and escape. “One of the biggest benefits of losing weight is I can fit into theater seats. That was honestly a problem before.” Such McDonnell segments as “Who Do You Want To Kick Out Of LA?” gave him a Northeast-sounding vibe, but his entire nearly 40-year career was spent in Los Angeles. The ardent WWE fan told Kinosian, “It would take a million dollar offer for me to leave Los Angeles. In the early-1990s, I had a chance to work for a friend in Nashville and had a big offer to go to Seattle in 1994 but my mother had cancer so I wasn’t about to leave town. There was a preliminary discussion years ago with WFAN, New York about being a reporter/weekend host but Los Angeles is my home. I’m part of the radio landscape.” Eerie now, but McDonnell confided to Kinosian in that lengthy printed conversation, “All the stuff I’ve done is leading up to something. I’ve always felt there was a bigger plan for me and a different path. God has kept me around for a reason – but I don’t know what it is. With what I’ve put myself through, any other person would have been dead by now.” Even at his heaviest, the voracious reader managed to stay in “fairly good shape.” The only weakness until recently was with his knees. According to McDonnell, “The ultimate moment for me would be to somehow find out who really killed John F. Kennedy.” As for the once “Big Nasty,” no cause of death was reported; several reports – including the one on KNX – said he died at Los Angeles’ Good Samaritan Hospital after a “brief illness.” A two-hour Friday night (3/13) Jeff Biggs-hosted show on KSPN paid tribute to McDonnell, who typically aired his “Kick Out” segment Fridays. Poignant, touching, and chillingly appropriate, the final word was given to Elizabeth McDonnell who somehow managed to summon up the strength in her voice to utter she wanted to kick Joe out of LA. Dramatic, goose-bump radio. “When I die,” McDonnell once told Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, “I want to be cremated and then have a plane spread half of my ashes over Dodger Stadium and the other half over the [ex-home of the Lakers] Forum.”
Big Executive Sports Talk Moves Elevate Martin at iHeartMedia and Takes Gilbert to Cumulus. These two position changes for sports radio pros Don Martin and Bruce Gilbert are related as Gilbert exits iHeartMedia where he was most recently SVP of sports operations and joins Cumulus Media and Westwood One as SVP/sports. Back at iHeartMedia, the company promotes current SVP of sports Los Angeles Don Martin by expanding his duties to include Premiere Networks and Fox Sports Radio. As SVP of sports programming for Premiere Networks, Martin will oversee the creation, development and direction of sports programming and content at the company, as well as the FSRN. Martin will continue his SVP of sports Los Angeles role – which includes supervising KLAC – and report to iHeartMedia Southern California president Greg Ashlock. For his new duties, he’ll report to Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott. At Cumulus, the company says Bruce Gilbert will lead the curation, development and execution of all sports content initiatives and will oversee the strategic direction of the company’s owned-and-operated sports stations. He will report to EVP of programming and content John Dickey. Corporate sports PD Jim Mahanay remains in his post reporting to Gilbert. Of this hiring, Dickey comments, “Bruce Gilbert brings years of experience in sports broadcast programming and management to our senior programming team and we’re pleased to welcome him aboard. Bruce will drive the continued growth and development of the industry-leading sports platform at Cumulus and Westwood One, which together comprise the largest pure-play sports radio network in the world and align with the best brands in the business. His addition furthers our commitment to creating and delivering the most exciting content to sports fans and delivering incomparable opportunities for our partners and advertisers.”
WARM-AM, Scranton Returns as Sports Talker. There’s a new sports talker in the Wilks-Barre/Scranton market as Cumulus Media adds WARM-AM to the large mix of signals (10 in all, including simulcasts and translators) airing sports content. The station – last an oldies outlet – had been off the air for three months engineering rehab and emerges today as “Sports Radio 590” using CBS Sports Radio Network programming.
Sydney Siege Illustrates Need for Plan for Broadcasters. The hostage situation in Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia shows – very dramatically – why broadcasters need a plan in place before an unexpected crisis situation occurs. ABC Television director, business continuity Howard B. Price writes, in an exclusive piece for TALKERS, “In the aftermath of 9/11, many places – New York City chief among them – redrew regulations requiring building operators and their tenants to develop so-called ‘emergency action plans,’ to deal with fire and non-fire emergencies. Among other things, these plans call for the formation and training of ‘emergency action plan directors’ and fire safety teams; some organizations with expansive buildings or campuses have designated site coordinators, and site response teams who may have advanced first aid training and emergency provisions to sustain a lockdown/shelter-in-place order for hours, or even days.” Price asks broadcasters if they – like Channel 7 TV in Sydney – have a plan in place to evacuate their primary business and engineering office if they are required to do so. Read Price’s important piece here.
Odds & Sods. Last Friday, NRG Media-owned news/talker KOIL, Omaha produced its 17th Annual Child Saving Institute Radiothon fundraiser, broadcasting live from Regency Court Mall during which the station raised $73,020…..Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle and Treehouse (a nonprofit education organization for foster children) more than $505,000 for the charity during its 26th Annual Holiday Magic Radiothon on December 11…..Jobs cuts have hit iHeartMedia news/talk WOAI, San Antonio as the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeanne Jakel reports news staffers Michael Main (a near-30-year employee), anchor/reporter Berit Mason, and multimedia journalist Stephanie Narvaez have all been let go from the station.
MediaTracks to Celebrate 25 Years. Next Monday, MediaTracks Communications – the “nation’s leading producer of radio public affairs programming,” is celebrating its 25th anniversary. MediaTracks president and co-founder Shel Lustig says, “High quality public affairs programming is of vital importance to stations nationwide. With today’s smaller staffs and tighter budgets, the need for our programming continues to play an essential part in helping stations meet and exceed their public affairs obligations. We’re extremely proud of our contributions to the industry and our affiliates over the last 25 years.”
Fisher House Foundation Holiday Show Available. Again this year, Fisher House Foundation is making available a news/talk-formatted holiday program that brings attention to wounded warriors, veterans and military families. Fisher House is offering the three-hour, highly produced public affairs show for air between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The show, “Zachary’s Gift,” tells the inspiring story of Fisher House founder Zachary Fisher through heroes served by the foundation’s growing network of no-cost comfort homes built on the grounds of VA and military base hospitals. The radio show is designed to build awareness, not solicit donations. The show is free – neither contract nor barter. Stations may air it multiple times. Executive producer Marshall Adams says, “Many stations are using ‘Zachary’s Gift’ to fill a local, three-hour show on Christmas or New Year’s Day.” The host is Mark Watkins, a radio newsroom vet who recently retired from the anchor booth at WBAP and KLIF Dallas. Jeff Davis is the show’s promo voice. Jonathan Shaffer from WSM Nashville is leading production and imaging. Westwood One is handling affiliate relations pro-bono. To sign up, send a note with your planned air times to Stuart Greenblatt at email@example.com. Marshall Adams can answer questions about content at (412) 856-3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pros Turn Out for WRHU-FM Alumni Night. WRHU-FM Radio Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York held its fifth annual alumni night at the New York Islanders NHL game on Saturday evening (12/13) at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum. It was a gala celebration attended by industry people including WINS, New York morning news anchor Lee Harris, who won a team autographed hockey stick in a drawing (pictured); WINS, New York morning sports anchor Marc Ernay; WOR, New York evening host Pete McCarthy and afternoon drive traffic reporter Greg Rice; Weiss Agency EVP Heather Cohen; NASH FM, New York air talent Jason Goldstein; CBS Radio New York marketing director Frank Iemmiti; NY1 news senior editor Dave Fleischer; Hofstra Dean Evan Cornog; Radio Hofstra University director of operations John Mullen; WRHU professional in residence Ed Ingles; and Islanders radio play-by-play voice Chris King and color commentators Julian Coltre, Rich DeKorte, Dan Savarino, and Mark Weiner. WRHU-FM is in its fifth year as the flagship radio station of the New York Islanders and is the only college station in America that serves as the flagship for a professional major league sports franchise. 2014 has been a good year for WRHU-FM. The station was awarded the NAB Marconi for Best Non-Commercial Station of the Year and was ranked number one — best college radio station – by the Princeton Review.
Dodgers-KLAC Broadcast Deal Gives Team Equity in Station. Indeed, the newsworthy part of this story is the Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring an equity position in KLAC, Los Angeles as part of the renewal for play-by-play flagship rights. Neither side is going into details, so what “an equity position” means is not clear. The team and station owner iHeartMedia made the announcement Tuesday about the multi-year agreement renewing KLAC’s broadcast rights of the Dodgers regular season games, select spring training games and potential post-season games. The deal must be approved by Major League Baseball. Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten comments, “We are looking forward to expanding KLAC’s content in this new partnership for our passionate and loyal fan base. We will be teaming up with the fantastic creative team at iHeartMedia on a number of projects and initiatives to enhance our fans’ engagement. And what better team to tell the story than from broadcast talent of Vin Scully, Rick Monday and Charley Steiner.”
Another Cable Network for Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. The Glenn Beck-founded video platform TheBlaze gets carriage on Suddenlink – one of the top 10 cable companies in the U.S. A Wikipedia entry shows Suddenlink with approximately 1.2 million subscribers. TheBlaze says this addition means its “24/7 news, opinion and entertainment network” is now available on 77 television providers nationwide including 10 of the top 25. TheBlaze president of business development Lynne Costantini says, “We are pleased that Suddenlink decided to launch TheBlaze in response to customer demand, validating the appeal of our original programming to a broad audience. We look forward to providing additional value and choice to Suddenlink’s customers, growing our respective businesses together in partnership.”
Rich Eisen Program Available on PodcastOne. When the DirecTV-produced Rich Eisen show airs on October 6, an audio version of the program will become available via PodcastOne as the sports media star begins a relationship with Norm Pattiz’s programming-on-demand platform. Eisen, the former ESPN personality who’s been with the NFL Network since its inception, has produced a podcast via NFL Media for the past four years. Eisen quips, “The podcast form is in this show’s DNA, so I am overjoyed to have the Rich Eisen show in the PodcastOne family. Plus, this leaves me one step closer to my dream of getting Norm Pattiz’s Lakers tickets.” Pattiz replies, “My courtside seats are now a lock. Rich is a pro’s pro. Sports talk on demand is a digital segment that’s breaking big in the podcast universe and we are excited to engage this passionate fan base with the exceptional content Rich consistently creates. His expertise and talent are a great addition to our roster which includes Dan Patrick, Ross Tucker, Steve Czaban and all of Yahoo! Sports.”
Opie Hughes and Jim Norton Re-Up with SiriusXM. Any hopes the Opie & Anthony fans had that when the contract came up, Opie Hughes (right) and partner Jim Norton (left) would walk away in protest of former co-host Anthony Cumia’s firing this summer are dashed as Hughes and Norton announce via Twitter that they have “not resigned, but re-signed” with the satcaster. The show is billed as “Opie with Jim Norton.” Cumia was fired by SiriusXM after a series of Tweets from him that used vulgar and racial terms to describe an encounter he had with an African America woman in Times Square earlier this year.
Round Two of September PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of September 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The survey period was August 14 through September 10. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated talk show host Jerry Doyle adds two new stations to his affiliate list. The Talk Radio Network-syndicated show is now heard on Midwest Communications’ news/talk WKZO, Kalamazoo and Frank Iorio-owned WJAS, Pittsburgh…..At the Fresno operations of Cumulus Media, Michael Knight is named news director for KMJ-AM and KMJ-FM. Knight comes to KMJ after spending last several years with KFWB, Los Angeles…..Alpha Media’s KXL-FM, Portland “FM News 101 KXL” picks up three Oregon Association of Broadcasters Awards. Delivered at this past weekend’s 2014 OAB Fall Conference, KXL won accolades for: Best Single Story Newscast by reporter, Rosemary Reynolds on a piece covering Robert Yuille; Best Investigative Reporting for the K-9 Shooting earlier this year; and Best Newscast for the coverage on the shooting of Officer Robert Libke……Sports USA announces a new twice-weekly podcast from baseball Hall-of-Famer and Emmy Award-winning analyst Joe Morgan is being produced. Dubbed, “Conversations with Joe Morgan,” it debuts on Thursday (10/2). The company says each week Morgan will create one new podcast featuring the topics of today along with one “Classic Conversation” featuring a mixture of over 100 of the greatest sports and celebrity interviews he has conducted…..Entercom‘s Milwaukee sports talker WSSP is now simulcasting on translator W289CB at 105.7 FM. The station has re-branded as “Sportsradio 105.7 The Fan.”
Westwood One Appoints Foley to its Business Development Division. Former Radio Disney Group business development manager Jack Foley joins Westwood One as a business development vice president. Westwood One president Steve Shaw states, “Jack’s outstanding record of success in radio, event sponsorship, digital, in-store audio, and experiential marketing is an ideal match for this position. He has the ability to leverage all of our platforms and to create powerful marketing solutions for our clients.” New York City-based Foley comments that he is “thrilled” to join the “great team at Westwood One” as “we put the power of sound to work for our valued clients. Westwood One offers unsurpassed assets from which to build integrated marketing programs that deliver exceptional value and ROI. I look forward to activating these deep connections in a way that serves all stakeholders, content providers, marketers, and consumers.” Foley’s past credits include Entercom Boston’s vice president and director of sales; Clear Channel’s (now iHeartMedia) regional vice president for sales (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine); president and owner of mergers/acquisitions brokerage Transworld Advisors; and senior vice president of business development for Opus 3 Mobile.
Agreeing to Disagree. Nationally syndicated talk show hosts Michael Medved (left) and Tavis Smiley (right) pose for a photo after their on-air discussion about the day’s hot issues. Salem Radio Network’s Medved hosted Smiley – whose weekly radio show is distributed by PRI – on his program to talk about issues and Smiley’s new book, Death Of A King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year (Little, Brown & Company, 2014). Medved’s camp reports the two sparred over: black unemployment, economic inequity in minority communities and failing schools after six years of the Barack Obama presidency, to name a few.
U.S. ISIS Policy, Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Hopefuls, Obama Amnesty Policy, White House Trespasser/Secret Service Controversy, U.S. Ebola Case/Pandemic Threat, and NFL Controversies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/30). The military strikes against ISIS and speculation about U.S. intelligence breakdowns; the looming mid-term elections and the prospects for the 2016 presidential race; controversy over a possible Obama Administration amnesty program; the recent White House trespasser case and questions about the Secret Service’s effectiveness; the first U.S. Ebola virus case and concerns over a possible pandemic; and the domestic violence cases that have rocked the young NFL season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
CC LA Moves Denton to AMs Duty. According to Don Barrett’s LARadio.com, Clear Channel Media + Entertainment’s Los Angeles cluster is shifting general sales manager Bill Denton’s responsibilities from CHR KIIS and alternative KYSR to its AM properties – news/talk KFI, conservative talker KEIB, and sports talk KLAC. The piece goes on to report that Denton’s skills in generating income for radio stations are well known in the market (CC reportedly lured him away from CBS last year) and that CC management would like him to put his talents to work on the AMs which have reported recent revenue decreases. This move comes as an estimated six sales staffers exit the LA cluster in a company-wide move that some are reporting eliminated up to 300 jobs nationally. Read the LARadio.com piece here.
Hubbard Radio Names Bustell VP of Market Research. The company creates a new position, vice president of market research and brings The Media Audit’s Mike Bustell aboard to fill the role. Hubbard Radio EVP and COO Drew Horowitz states, “I am thrilled to have someone of Mike’s caliber joining Hubbard Radio to create an entirely new revenue stream for the company. In a slow growth or no growth environment it is incumbent on us to develop new revenue models to keep our business on a growth trajectory. Mike will bring an innovative approach to our sales teams helping them develop new revenue categories and expand our current account expenditures with programs that deliver results.” Bustell served as executive vice president of sales and marketing at The Media Audit and major market manager for Impact Resources. Bustell comments, “It’s an honor to come to work for Hubbard Radio. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of their stations, managers, and salespeople throughout the country, many for as long as 20 years. Hubbard is the finest, private, family-owned broadcaster in America. They win awards, serve their communities, and dominate in ratings, and revenue generation. They play to win and have great values and a great history. I can’t wait to dive into all their research tools and assist their stations help more local advertisers and industries achieve growth.”
New iHeartRadio Networks Unveiled. A press statement from Clear Channel says its new advertising platform is a “unified one-of-a-kind platform [that] will better maximize Clear Channel’s powerful collection of assets, providing the targeted impact marketers need ― and what they are accustomed to receiving from television networks.” The company explains, “This new Network offers advertisers’ access to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s 840 live radio stations, plus popular digital channels, local website properties, nationally-syndicated programs and satellite radio channels. The network also includes specialized and proprietary options like talent endorsements, organic DJ mentions and product placements, commercial roadblock messaging across the entire network and nimble copy change capability since all the assets are owned and operated by Clear Channel.” Clear Channel Networks president Darren Davis comments, “The new unified network has the tremendous capability to give advertisers the massive reach they’d expect from a radio or television network, but with the effective frequency and enhancements not typically available in the network advertising space. It’s truly the best way for a brand to reach American consumers in a much more affordable way than television networks – and with greater ROI.” The company is also introducing a range of iHeartRadio Targeted Networks designed to effectively reach specific demographic and psychographic groups – including Country, Hispanic, African-American, Millennial, Women, Men and Holiday.
JC Corcoran Begins Digital Venture. Along with his former KIHT “K-Hits” producer/partner Laurie Mac, longtime St. Louis radio personality JC Corcoran (pictured here with Mac) is debuting his new digital program title, appropriately, “The Digital Showgram.” Corcoran worked in the St. Louis market for 29 years before leaving last year to host mornings at Clear Channel’s classic rock KKRW, Houston (which subsequently flipped to hip hop as “93.7 The Beat”). Corcoran’s show streams live from 6:30 to 8:00 am daily and then goes into podcast mode. Corcoran is operating on a subscription model at $9.99 per month. He says, “We are a commercial-free, entertaining talk show for St. Louis. We’re giving the audience almost exactly what they got during our terrific run that ended in 2009, but without the commercials, clutter, filler and music repetition we know they detest.” JC says his early sign-off time makes him available for additional broadcast opportunities. His programing is available at jcontheline.com.
Fourth Round of March PPM Data Released. PPM data from the fourth and final group of 12 markets for the March 2014 period (February 27 – March 26) has been released by Nielsen Audio. Those markets include: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all the (subscriber) numbers here. Managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian offers his “Ten Takeaways” from the report at RadioInfo.com here.
Hofstra University’s Bob Papper Releases Annual News Director Survey. You’ll find Hofstra University Professor Emeritus Bob Papper’s annual news director study at the RTDNA site here. Some of the interesting results include the following: Radio news directors are more stable in their jobs compared to their television brethren, staying with their station for an average of just over 9 years relative to TV’s 2 years in major markets and 3 years in large and medium markets; also, the average age of both TV and radio news directors is 49.
KBME, Houston Tweaks Program Schedule. The air schedule at Clear Channel’s sports talk KBME, Houston is being shuffled as the Fox Sports Radio Network-syndicated “Jay Mohr Sports” program moves to early evenings and the station reverts to live and local during the day. The Houston Chronicle reports that Matt Thomas moves from the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm show to the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm slot currently occupied by Mohr, and Charlie Pallilo’s show slides down from the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. The paper says ratings show a dramatic drop-off during the first hour of Mohr’s program.
Bonneville’s KTAR-FM Honored with Four Regional Murrows. Phoenix market news/talk KTAR-FM is the recipient of four Edward R. Murrow regional awards, from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Bonneville Phoenix VP and market manager Scott Sutherland says, “We are thrilled that the KTAR news team is once again being recognized for producing first-rate journalism that makes a difference in our community.” The four awards were for: Continuing Coverage: “Tragedy at Yarnell Hill” – KTAR news, talk, and digital content teams; News Series: “Immigration: Seeking Solutions” – Jim Cross, Aaron Granillo, Sandra Haros, Bob McClay, Martha Maurer, talk show, and digital content teams; Reporting, Sports: “Hoops History on Wheels” – Aaron Granillo; Use of Sound: “Miracle League” – Aaron Granillo.
Odds & Sods. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit Pistons basketball will move from its current home at CBS RADIO Detroit to Greater Media’s new sports talk outlet WMGC “Detroit Sports 105.1.” The story reports Greater Media will make an announcement later today but also quotes CBS Detroit market manager Deb Kenyon stating her company decided not to bid on a renewal after considering the terms…..WKNR, Cleveland sports talk host Tony Rizzo will not serve any jail time after he pleaded “no contest” to a reduced “persistent disorderly conduct” charge in connection with a December incident during which his wife Catherine reported Rizzo struck her. Rizzo was sentenced to 30 days with 27 suspended and received credit for the three days he served…..Hubbard Radio’s WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN Radio” announces it has renewed its deal to serve as the flagship for St. Louis Rams football play-by-play. The multi-year deal includes current Rams Radio on-air personalities Steve Savard and D’Marco Farr continuing in their roles on game days and throughout the week…..SiriusXM is adding a new show called “OurTime with Matthew Segal” to the lineup on its P.O.T.U.S. channel. SiriusXM calls it a “new six-week series produced by and for Millennial listeners…each episode will be organized by theme and dedicated to a non-partisan discussion that offers a fresh, in-depth dialogue of issues faced by the nation today, including health care, the budget, education, LGBT equality, and voting rights.” Segal is founder of OurTime.org.
Talk Radio Day at the United Nations Set for Thursday, June 19. TALKERS magazine announces the next installment of its annual international initiative, “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations.” Presented in conjunction with Talk Radio News Service and in association with the United Nations Foundation, the event consists of a massive radio row held in the heart of the United Nations’ iconic headquarters on the East Side of Manhattan. Approximately 25 talk show hosts and programs from around the country are given the opportunity to do live shows or simply record interviews on the scene for later playback with a wide variety of special guests including UN officials, foreign ambassadors, international policy experts and representatives of the arts and sciences from around the world. “This is one of our most prideful annual events,” states TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “and I am absolutely delighted that – in spite of the technical and tactical challenges presented by a project of this complexity and enormity – we are able to produce yet another installment in 2014.” Harrison says, “It accomplishes a number of important things – most notably, it gives a variety of talk show hosts and millions of their listeners in every corner of the country the opportunity to shift gears and discuss international news stories of significant consequence that rarely, if ever, are covered or discussed in the mainstream American media. Some of these stories have staggering implications on war, peace, life and death.” Harrison also points out, “Hosts of just about every political and ideological persuasion have raved about this event over the many years we have been doing it saying that it has proven to be a personally rewarding experience for them as much as it has provided a spectacular bit of special programming to their stations and networks.” “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations” will conveniently take place the day before Talkers New York 2014 when many talk show hosts are already in New York City. Hosts already on board include Alan Colmes of Fox News Radio; Doug Stephan of the “Good Day” show; Larry Young of WOLB, Baltimore; Dr. Joy Browne of Radio America; Martha Zoller of WGAU, Athens, GA; Ethan Bearman of GCN and KGO, San Francisco; Carole Marks of “A Touch of Grey” and more. Talk Radio News Service will broadcast the entire day to its hundreds of affiliates across the nation with more to be announced and the event will be covered live on TalkersRadio. All equipment and broadcast set ups are provided at no cost for the convenience of the participants – but placement is limited and this will fill up rapidly, so interested hosts should call 413-565-5413 quickly to inquire about signing up.
Tan Talk Network Owner David Wagenvoord Dies. Details of David Wagenvoord’s passing are few but friend and business partner Jerry Dennon tells TALKERS Wagenvoord owned many stations over the years and was involved in the brokering business. Wagenvoord owned WTAN, Clearwater, Florida; WDCF, Dade City, Florida; and WZHR, Zephyrhills, Florida on which he operated the Tan Talk Network.
George Noory Goes ‘Hitting for Heroes.’ As “Coast to Coast AM” host George Noory might admit, he was actually trying to hit for heroes as he and son Jonathan (pictured here standing to Noory’s left) attended the annual Hitting For Heroes event on Friday, April 18, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Benefitting Little Patriots Embraced, a charity focused on enhancing the lives of military families in need, the event gives baseball fans a chance to hit one out the park by going up to bat against the warm-up pitchers for the St. Louis Cardinals. Noory confesses he missed every pitch and is not going to give up his night job!
Russian Aggression in Ukraine, ObamaCare Criticism, 2016 Presidential Race/Chelsea Clinton Pregnancy, Global Warming, Boston Marathon/Bombing Anniversary Coverage, South Korean Ferry Tragedy, and Teen Jet Stowaway Among Top Stories Yesterday (4/21). Growing concern over Vladimir Putin’s troops entering Ukraine; debate over the number of people signed up for health care via the Affordable Care Act; speculation about candidates for president in 2016 and chatter about Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy and what it may mean for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy; ongoing disagreement over the state of the science behind anthropogenic climate change; coverage of the 2014 Boston Marathon and the memorials one year after last year’s bombings; the search for survivors and questions about culpability in the South Korean ferry accident; and the case of a 16-year-old teen who survived a flight from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a jet were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Rick Sanchez Joins WIOD, Miami in New Lineup. Clear Channel Media + Entertainment news/talk WIOD, Miami announces a new program lineup that includes cable news/talk veteran Rick Sanchez in the late morning slot. Program director Grace Blazer says on the station’s website, “Our new lineup reflects 610 WIOD’S strengthening commitment to high-quality local news, accurate weather, important traffic conditions, and the perfect balance of highly talented local and national personalities. The result will be a topical, informative and entertaining listener experience for the residents and businesses of South Florida.” The lineup includes “South Florida’s First News with Jimmy Cefalo” in morning drive, Sanchez from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon followed by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. The new program schedule takes effect on January 6.
Cuts at CBS Chicago Leave Anchor/Reporter Steve Grzanich Out. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has been writing about budget-related cuts at the CBS Radio cluster in Chicago for several days and now we know more about who’s been affected. At all-news WBBM-AM, anchor/reporter Steve Grzanich exits after 20 years with the station. ChicagoRadioandMedia.com tips us that Grzanich posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Dear Friends: I have breaking news…about me! After 20 years, I am signing off at WBBM Newsradio to explore other opportunities. I am hungry for a new challenge and must embark on the journey to find it starting now. But don’t go away! I’ll still be here in Chicago and on Facebook with news, weather and other stuff…just not on the 8s. Thank you for listening! Stay tuned for news about my next chapter.” The cluster also saw the release of longtime production/imaging staffer Michael Horn who worked for sister CHR WBBM-FM “B96.” Horn has been working with Killer Hertz since May of 2012 and ChicagoRadioandMedia.com reports he will continue to do freelance imaging work while he looks for his next opportunity. Feder reports that a number of sales staffers have been let go from the cluster.
Other CBS Radio Cuts Hit Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. According to sources in Southern California, there have been four layoffs at CBS stations there including KTRH news anchor Bob Malik and KNX traffic reporter Tommy Jaxson. The two others are believed to be front office staffers. In Pittsburgh, changes come to sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” as Vinnie Richichi exits the Vinnie & Cook midday program and Paul Alexander leaves the morning drive show. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik reports that Richichi and Ron Cook never got along, it was obvious on the air and that led to Richichi’s departure, plus morning host Gregg Giannotti was not happy working with Alexander. Finally, in Atlanta Kendra G. and Christopher “Crash” Clark exit the Ryan Cameron morning show at urban contemporary WVEE “V103.”
Lineup Changes at Fox Sports Radio Network in the New Year. The national lineup from Fox Sports Radio Network will look a little different come January 5, 2014. Gone from the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET slot will be Pat O’Brien and Steve Hartman from “Fox Sports Primetime” with replacement(s) to be announced later. J.T. the Brick moves from the overnight slot to the 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET slot accompanied by sidekick Tomm Looney, displacing the current Petros & Money show. Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith will continue to be heard on Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles. Rob Dibble and Amy Van Dyken leave “Fox Sports Tonight” and the NFL Network’s and Fox Sports Network’s Jason Smith takes over that show airing from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am ET while Fox Sports Radio weekend personality Ben Maller becomes the 2:00 am to 6:00 am host.
Cox Enterprises Promotes Dyer to President/CEO. Current chief operating officer John Dyer will be elevated to Cox Enterprises president/chief executive officer when he officially succeeds retiring CEO Jimmy Hayes on Wednesday, January 1. Cox Enterprises is the parent company of Cox Media Group. According to Cox Enterprises chairman Jim Kennedy, “In the 36 years John has worked at Cox, he has always done a terrific job and always risen to meet every new challenge he was presented. He has been an incredible chief operating officer and he understands all our businesses. He is committed to our employees and our customers. I am excited to work with [him] as he leads our company in an exciting future.” Dyer comments, “Cox is a company that values its employees, delivers superior products and services to its customers, and strives to be a responsible and sustainable corporate partner in the communities in which we operate. I am excited about the ways we will continue to grow our existing businesses and invest in future opportunities.” In addition to Cox Media Group, Dyer will be responsible for Cox Communications, Manheim, and AutoTrader Group, as well as corporate functions including financial operations, human resources and administration.
Bob Murray Takes Leave from WTAX, Springfield to Battle Brain Tumor. “Morning Newswatch” host Bob Murray tells listeners in an open letter that he is taking time from the Saga Communications news/talk outlet to focus on “getting better and being with loved ones.” Murray writes: “As you have probably heard, I have decided to elect for an extended medical leave of absence from my post as the host of the ‘WTAX Morning Newswatch’ due to newly discovered health concerns. Many people have enquired (sic) into what is going on, and I thought it would be best you hear it from me. I have been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and will be taking this leave from work as an opportunity to focus my time on getting better and being with family and loved ones. While this is far from an ideal situation, we are remaining positive and focusing on staying strong. In the days following the announcement, it has been so incredibly humbling to feel the outpour of prayers and support from all directions, and I am pretty positive I will never be able to properly express how much that means to my family and me. I also want to thank the WTAX family and central Illinois area for their many years of loyal listenership. It has truly been an honor to start each day with you, tackling the issues that matter to us. I hope to be back in the capital soon, focusing on what I love, delivering the news, sports, entertainment and important local happenings to you.”
‘Jay Talking’ Permanent Overnight Show on WBZ-AM, Boston. Bradley Jay’s “Jay Talking” program is now the official overnight program on CBS Radio’s news and talk WBZ-AM, Boston. Jay has been working in the news and talk realm for some time (he also serves as the executive producer for “Nightside with Dan Rea”) but he got his start in music radio and worked at the legendary rock outlet WBCN. In fact, he hosted the last show at “The Rock of Boston” before a frequency swap and format change ended the station’s run.
NRG, Omaha Names Davis KOOO Brand Manager. In addition to being appointed brand manager of NRG Media, Omaha adult hits KOOO “Big O 101.9,” talk host Crash Davis takes on marketing director duties for that Nebraska market’s entire NRG cluster. Operations manager Jeff Lynn comments, “Crash has been an integral part of our team for the past year. He is very versatile and has a keen sense of what the Omaha listener wants and loves about ‘Big O.’ He brings many of the talents and skill sets we need to propel ‘Big O’ to new heights in the ratings and to drive results for our advertisers.” Davis remarks, “I am delighted to have a more prominent role on a station I have watched evolve over the past several years. I have great respect for [morning talent] Dave Wingert and the rest of the on-air team. Our great variety of music and the content we talk about resonates with listeners. I will do my part to enhance our reputation with the listeners and advertisers.” Davis has been in Omaha radio the past 15 years, including as a host on NRG talk outlet KOIL “The Mighty 1290″ and as the afternoon drive talent on cross-town Clear Channel-owned talk station KFAB.
Salem Selects Dr. Frank Wright As President/COO. Eleven-year National Religious Broadcasters president/chief executive officer Dr. Frank Wright will join Salem Communications Corporation on Wednesday, January 1 as president/chief operating officer. Dr. Wright will report directly to Salem chief executive officer and director Edward Atsinger. “Frank has more than 20 years of experience working in – and with – broadcast media organizations,” Atsinger comments. “He has also developed a robust network among DC-based public policy organizations, as well as DC-based political organizations. Frank is an effective leader and team-builder with a strong entrepreneurial background, and he has extensive executive experience in strategic planning and organizational structure. I expect him to hit the ground running and work closely with me in executing our business strategies.” Before joining the NRB, Dr. Wright spent seven years as executive director of the Center for Christian Statesmanship; he has a doctorate in finance.
Will Salem Purchase Eagle Publishing on January 15? The story that Politico reported late last week is a done deal, according to BuzzFeed which states staffers at Eagle Publishing have been told the sale will take place on January 15. According to the BuzzFeed piece, Salem Communications will add to its conservative print and digital assets with the acquisition and that as many as 90% of staffers will remain with the Eagle division; it’s the upper management positions that will be eliminated due to redundancy. Eagle operates RedState.com, Human Events and Regnery Publishing. Salem recently acquired Twitchy.com from conservative pundit, columnist and author Michelle Malkin.
Sean’s New Digs! Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Sean Hannity (right) is pictured here with pundit and author Ann Coulter (center) and fellow Premiere star Glenn Beck (left) at Hannity’s new Premiere Networks studios at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Hannity leaves his longtime home base at WABC, New York at the end of the year and his program will emanate from flagship WOR, New York beginning in January.
Budget Deal, NSA Data Mining Ruling, ObamaCare Criticism, Mega Millions Jackpot, and Limbaugh-Pope Francis Marxism Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/17). The battle in the U.S. Senate over the details of the Congressional budget deal; the aftermath of a judge’s ruling the NSA data mining program “probably unconstitutional”; scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot; and the continuing flap over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Pope Francis’ “Marxist” economic philosophy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Congressmen Question FCC Chair Wheeler About ‘Fairness Doctrine 2.0.’ In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) requests Wheeler take immediate steps to suspend the field test for the research design of the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” the FCC is undertaking. Supported by Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and 14 other congressmen, Upton charges the initiative is nothing more that the “Fairness Doctrine 2.0” and that the FCC has no jurisdiction to be undertaking a field test of this sort and that its actions are unconstitutional. Upton states, “Although the Commission’s stated reason for the reports is to inform the Commission in taking regulatory action to lower ‘market entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses,’ it is hard to read this and see it for anything other than what it is, Fairness Doctrine 2.0.” Upton references the study plan which states its goals are to “ascertain the process by which stories are selected, station priorities (for content, production quality and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percentage of news dedicated to each of the eight CINs, and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.” Upton then states, “The Commission has no business probing the news media’s editorial judgment and expertise, nor does it have any business in prescribing a set diet of ‘critical information.’ These goals are plainly inappropriate and are at bottom an incursion by the government into the constitutionally protected operations of the professional news media.” Upton requests Wheeler’s office respond to seven specific questions about the field test by January 10. You can read the entire letter here.
WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia PD Jeff Sottolano Promoted to Corporate Director of Programming for CBS Radio. CBS Radio EVP of programming Chris Oliviero announces the promotion of WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia program director Jeff Sottolano to director, programming, CBS RADIO, effective January 2. Oliviero says, “Jeff has consistently and successfully answered every challenge he’s faced during his career at CBS RADIO. With such diverse format experience and a respected reputation, both in and outside our company, I have no doubt he is ready to tackle this exciting and critical next chapter. Jeff will be a great complement to our corporate programming team.” Sottolano’s duties include supporting program directors in 27 major markets who oversee 126 stations. The company says he “will focus on identifying and recruiting on-air talent, both established and up-and-coming, as well as seek out new format opportunities. Additionally, Sottolano will maintain ongoing communications with external industry and charitable organizations, and work closely with the division’s digital media business to ensure a seamless cross-platform product and brand experience.” Sottolano came to CBS RADIO in 2001 as an intern at WZNE, Rochester. He worked his way up to promotions director in 2002 and to PD and air talent in 2004. In 2006, Sottolano transferred to WYSP-FM in Philadelphia where he assumed a variety of programming and marketing roles during his tenure, including program director beginning in 2008. He was instrumental in launching the Danny Bonaduce show that same year, and worked closely with record labels, concert promoters and artists to create one-of-a-kind events and promotions. In 2011 he assumed programming oversight of sports talk WIP when it began simulcasting on WYSP as “SportsRadio 94WIP.”
Cox Media Group Names Tim Clarke Director of Digital Audience. Moving up from his role as program director for the company’s CHR WPOI, Tampa “Hot 101.5,” Tim Clarke is promoted to director of digital audience for radio at Cox Media Group. The company says that in this role Clarke “will be the liaison between CMG’s radio and digital divisions to help drive the digital brand strategy and product development for growing audience and engagement at all CMG’s radio stations.” EVP of radio Kim Guthrie adds, “We have some of the more cutting edge efforts in the digital space, and it is exciting to be able to dedicate one of our best talents to that effort. We are evolving our super brands into the digital future, and Tim will play an instrumental role in that overall success.” In addition to programming “HOT 101.5,” Clarke was director of social media for all six Tampa stations. His other career highlights include time as PD at WAPE, Jacksonville and music director at WBLI, Long Island. Clarke comments, “The digital future for CMG’s super brands is extremely bright and filled with tons of opportunity to engage our audiences in even deeper, more personalized and more meaningful ways. I’m looking forward to working with our teams to serve our users on these growing platforms.”
iHeartradio Adds Jay Mohr Sports Channel. Actor/comedian Jay Mohr does his daily Fox Sports Radio Network program from Clear Channel-owned Los Angeles flagship KLAC. Now, the “Gary Unmarried” star launches “Jay Mohr Sports,” a live digital iHeartRadio station. “This channel is about the fans and giving them 24/7 access to the show wherever they are,” Mohr enthusiastically states. “I am so happy to be able to share this with listeners in celebration of the upcoming one-year anniversary of ‘Jay Mohr Sports.'” The digital iHeartRadio channel features sports talk and entertainment, as well as Mohr’s conversations with athletes and celebrities.
McMullen Named WMBD, Peoria PD. Talk radio programmer John McMullen joins Monterey Licenses-owned news/talk WMBD, Peoria. McMullen most recently served as program director at Morris Communications’ “KNEWS” news/talk trimulcast KNWZ and KNWQ, Palm Springs and KNWH, Yucca Valley where he’s been since 2007. During his career, McMullen has also served with Sirius Satellite Radio.
Steve Bertrand Reunites with Kathy & Judy on WGN. As tipped by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN, Chicago newsman Steve Bertrand will trade off a weekday shift for the Saturday shift during which he’ll be reunited with Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey during their weekly 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Bertrand will also work with “Mr. Fix-It” Lou Manfredini whose show airs from 7:00 am to 10:00 am on Saturdays. Bertrand, O’Malley and Markey worked together when the Kathy & Judy show was a regular midday program on WGN from 1989 through 2009. Feder reports that WGN VP of creative content Todd Manley says Bertrand will continue to work the news desk during Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano’s midday show as well as during Garry Meier’s afternoon program.
WKZO, Kalamazoo Names Lawrence Brand Manager. At Midwest Communications’ Kalamazoo cluster, Jeremy Lawrence is named brand manager for news/talk outlet WKZO and sports talk WQLR. In addition, Lawrence serves as the afternoon drive co-host on WKZO’s “The Trifecta” program alongside Jim McKinney and Roger Taylor. Lawrence takes over for Jay Morris who leaves that post to focus on his work as brand manager for the company’s alternative rock outlets WZOX, Kalamazoo and WVIC, Lansing.
New Market Manager and Director of Sales at Clear Channel Syracuse. Clear Channel Media + Entertainment announces Rick Yacobush has been named market manager for the company’s five-station cluster in Syracuse and Barbara Miller has been appointed director of sales for the cluster. Yacobush has been with the CC Syracuse stations for more than 26 years, holding a variety of roles including account manager, general sales manager and director of sales. SVP of operations for the Northeast Region Kevin LeGrett says, “We are very excited to have Rick Yacobush lead the extremely talented team in Syracuse. Rick’s sales leadership over the last 18 years has led to unprecedented performance. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment reaches more people in Syracuse than any other media and Rick’s unique ability to maximize our assets will allow us to serve the community as well as our advertisers in a multi-platform fashion.” Meanwhile, 18-year CC veteran Barbara Miller moves up to director of sales for the cluster and LeGrett says of her, “Barbara has a proven track record of developing revenue growth opportunities. She has demonstrated the vision and creativity necessary to implement 21st century competitive media strategies for our organization. She has consistently exceeded revenue targets, while providing leadership and ensuring high quality standards are maintained across the organization.” The CC Syracuse cluster includes news/talk WSYR, AC WYYY “Y94,” country WBBS “B104.7,” CHR WWHT “Hot 107.9,” and urban contemporary WHEN “Power 620.”
Tom Ray Warns Radio Broadcasters to Avoid EAS Confusion and Potential Fines. TALKERS technical editor and noted engineering consultant Tom Ray passes along the following important information to our readers who program and operate radio stations. Perhaps you heard about the recent $25,000 fines given out by the Commission regarding EAS violations. The violations concerned airing either an EAS alert tone, EAS data burst, or sound alikes. Both are prohibited under part 11 of the Commission’s rules. Why? If you are airing the EAS data bursts, this is something that could be decoded by downstream EAS decoders. This can be confusing for station personnel, but more importantly, may in fact trigger an EAS alert when an emergency condition doesn’t exist. And airing of something that sounds like the EAS data bursts and/or the two-tone alert signal starts to desensitize the public to an actual message. It could, in fact, panic the public. The recent cases involved EAS like sounds involved in commercials for movies. In one case, when the cell phone alert apps were downloaded to person’s phones without their knowledge, I heard a television newscast run the sounds the phone made – which sound close enough to an EAS alert that it was a violation – regardless of whether it was news. Some of this stems from our ways of operating these days. Spots used to arrive on reel-to-reel tape, and you had to listen to the spot to transfer it to cart before airing and could catch the fact that EAS tones were in a spot. Today, the spot arrives as a file and most automation systems can take the spot in without anyone listening to it ahead of time. In the case of the TV newscast, the news producer obviously did not know the FCC regulations. In the case of ingesting spots directly into your system, they should always be listened to not only for content, but also for problems like distortion. To take something in without listening to it is irresponsible. The bottom line – don’t air something that sounds like an EAS alert. The FCC takes it seriously. The public takes it seriously. And it shouldn’t happen. For more information about this topic Tom Ray can be phoned at 845-418-5065 or emailed at email@example.com.
Malkin Sells Website to Salem Communications. Conservative media commentator Michelle Malkin has sold her Twitchy.com site to Salem Communications for an undisclosed sum. Malkin founded the site which serves as a curation destination for Twitter posts and commentary on said Tweets. Salem Communications has had success with its digital efforts and already operated TownHall.com and HotAir.com in addition to numerous Christian-themed sites. Salem VP/GM Jonathan Garthwaite comments, “Since its inception almost two years ago, Twitchy has fast become a leader in online news reporting. They have harnessed the power of social media to create a real-time newswire for the modern, interconnected world. With the addition of Twitchy to our growing network of news and political websites, there is no better collection of conservative news and opinion on the web.”
Local Focus Purchased by McGavren Guild Parent. Genesis Media Holdings picks up Kay Olin and Dave Demer‘s Atlanta-based Local Focus rep firm. GMH owns McGavren Guild Media, which will operate independently of its new sibling. In addition, Genesis Media Holdings brings in Cumulus Media director of national sales Kevin Garrity as manager. GMH chief financial officer Billy McEntee comments, “Local Focus is an innovative firm powered by a team of highly accomplished sales professionals. We look forward to working with them to provide an even greater level of service to radio stations and advertisers. Kevin Garrity has excelled at every level of radio sales management. With his addition and the acquisition of Local Focus, we are poised for rapid expansion and growth. Management will continue to drive revenue for their respective station partners, while capitalizing on opportunities afforded through the larger Genesis Media group.” Garrity remarks, “Genesis Media Holdings’ commitment to building their platform and investing in the long-term growth of their properties is very exciting. I look forward to playing an integral part in shaping that growth.” McGavren Guild Media president Lisa Sirotka-Sonnenklar adds, “I am extremely excited to be working with Kevin to further build McGavren Guild Media. I look forward to the additional support I will gain from his depth of industry experience.” Garrity’s background includes 20 years at Interep, the last five of those as president of ABC Radio Sales. In tandem with these announcements, vice president of revenue Dave Demer becomes president of Local Focus, while the rep firm’s founder Kay Olin will act as a consultant to Genesis Media. “Kay has been instrumental in facilitating the evolution of Local Focus and preparing it for this next step in its growth,” Demer notes. “She will add immense value to Genesis Media.” Previously, Demer held marketing and sales positions with Clear Channel and Cox Media Group. Local Focus represents more than 350 stations.
24/7 Comedy Celebrates Christmas with Gabriel Iglesias. Premiere Networks-syndicated 24/7 Comedy – the 24-hour, all-comedy format – is celebrating the holiday season with special guest host Gabriel Iglesias. From December 14 through December 27, the format will feature “The 12 Days of Fluffy” (for 13 days), giving listeners a peek behind the stage persona of the internationally acclaimed comedian and highlighting some of his most popular stand-up bits. Connecting with listeners every hour throughout “The 12 Days of Fluffy,” fans will also have the chance to hear select tracks from his latest Comedy Central DVD special, “Aloha Fluffy.”
ObamaCare Criticism, Obama Selfie Flap/Castro Handshake, New Budget Deal, India Gay Sex Ruling, Iran Nukes Talks, and NSA Targets Video Gamers Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/10). The ongoing criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and HHS director Kathleen Sebelius; the flap over President Obama’s “selfie” taken at the service for Nelson Mandela and his handshake with Raul Castro; the new budget deal struck in Congress; India’s high court ruling outlawing gay sex; foundering talks with Iran over its nuclear program; and the NSA’s targeting of video gamers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Faces Suit by Photo Company Alleging Illegal Use. National Photo Group LLC has filed a complaint in United States District Court Western District of Texas alleging Clear Channel radio stations infringed on its copyrights by using pictures of various celebrities on the websites of some of its radio stations. The complaint names 11 CC radio stations and alleges photos of celebrities including Jason Aldean, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore and others were used without permission and with knowledge that the photos were copyrighted. NPG is seeking $150,000 per infringement plus legal fees and any other relief the Court deems just and proper.
WCBM, Baltimore Extends Talk Host Tom Marr’s Contract Through 2017. Baltimore talk radio institution Tom Marr will be heard on WCBM through 2017 as the station’s vice president, Nick Mangione. Jr., announces the station extends his no-cut contract for another four years. The official announcement was made June 24 by WCBM program director and operations manager Sean Casey at the start of Marr’s show that day. Mangione, Jr. states, “I am delighted we have reached the agreement on the extension. To quote my late father, Tom is still at the top of his game both as a broadcaster in general and talk show host in particular. We are delighted he will be on the air until 2017 with WCBM and he just may decide to stay longer. There will always be room for him in the WCBM family. Tom has a good sense for the business. As an example, he is the first one to suggest that we add both Sean Hannity and Mark Levin to our lineup. Tom has a large following within the reach of our 50 thousand watt transmitter and is building a solid national and international following on WCBM’s worldwide reach via the internet.” Marr, who began his career as a high school sports broadcaster on WWDC-AM, Washington, DC in 1960, says, “I am deeply honored that Nick and the Mangione Family Enterprises agreed to the extension. I look forward to the challenges ahead for talk radio and its increasing role in the media especially in view of our relationship with the digital world.”
WBZ-AM, Boston Names Jen Brien Overnight Talk Host. After the retirement of Steve LeVeille last year, the station has been featuring a number of talk radio personalities in the overnight slot. Now, program director Peter Casey announces Jennifer “Jen” Brien is named to the permanent position. The station says the program “will be a mix of pop culture, current events, politics, and the comings and goings of people in New England.” In addition to WBZ-AM’s monster signal that penetrates the entire East Coast at that time of night, the show can be heard on CBS Radio’s Radio.com. Brien joined WBZ from Entercom’s crosstown news/talk WRKO where she hosted a daily program. She has also hosted shows on WPRO and WHJJ in Providence, and WCOD and WXTK on Cape Cod. Before beginning her career in radio, Brien spent more than five years as a soldier in the United States Army where she was selected for the prestigious “Soldier of the Year” award.
SiriusXM Cancels Long-Running Alex Bennett Show. One of modern talk radio’s true pioneers, Alex Bennett, has reportedly been let go “without cause” from SiriusXM Satellite Radio‘s “Sirius Left” channel where he was doing the daily 7:00 am to 10:00 am program. Bennett has been with Sirius for almost a decade and, according to insiders close to the host, was caught by surprise and is “distraught” over what transpired. Bennett has had a colorful, unique on-air career that goes back to the late-1960s when he was the lone talk show host on the old WMCA, New York when it was still the “Home of the Good Guys.” He subsequently went on to do both rock music and talk broadcasting serving as one of the original prototypes for the pop culture-oriented (some call it “shock jock”) and “progressive” genres of modern day talk radio. Between WMCA and Sirius, he served in ground-breaking stints at such great stations as WPLJ in New York and KMEL, KITS (“Live 105″) and KQAK (“The Quake”) in San Francisco. At press time, it is not clear if this was a cost-cutting move on the part of Sirius or indicative of a re-direction in programming. Bennett is still on the air and is reportedly doing his final program for the satellite radio service this Friday. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “In my opinion Alex Bennett is one of the most important talents ever to grace a microphone during my lifetime. His show on WMCA — in which he did extremely progressive talk about the issues of the day such as the Vietnam War — was on a station that was otherwise a hip music station. In the midst of all the fun, cool hipness of the rock ‘n’ roll and the zany DJs of that fabulous station, Bennett was fearlessly talking to the kids about extremely important controversial issues. That show served as the original inspiration for me to launch an issues-oriented talk show (“Harrison’s Mic”) five years later on rocker KMET in Los Angeles and my own talk career that paralleled my music radio work. If I had not heard Alex Bennett in 1969, there might not have ever been a TALKERS magazine.”
HOLLAND COOKE: The Future of AM/FM in the Car. Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports from the Consumer Electronic Association’s Connected Car Conference in New York City and her says that the bottom line after “four-and-a-half-hours of thoughtful discussion, research, and prognostication by automotive, electronics, and media thinkers: Whatever the dashboard is about to morph into matters less to AM/FM radio than what’s already happened.” Cooke writes that people who matter have already connected their media to the car speakers and offers some thoughts about what radio programmers can do to stand out from the digital competition. Read his analysis here.
SummitMedia to Pull the Plug on Sports Talk In Birmingham. SummitMedia announces it will drop the sports talk format on WZNN, Birmingham “97.3 The Zone” and flip to a different – most likely music – format. SummitMedia EVP and COO David DuBose tells the Birmingham News, “We have been evaluating the sports format in light of multiple factors, including [Paul] Finebaum‘s placement. After nearly two years, it became clear the market did not support two competing sports stations. “Therefore, we have determined we should focus on other format opportunities.” SummitMedia purchased the Birmingham cluster from Cox Media Group earlier this year. The station was flipped to sports in August of 2011 when Cox had its eye on building the station around mega-successful Southeast sports personality Paul Finebaum by bringing him over from Cumulus Media’s crosstown sports WJOX. Finebaum, who’d had legal squabbles with WJOX and wanted out of that relationship, ended up working out his contract there, sat out a non-compete and will begin a new sports talk radio venture with ESPN based out of Charlotte. It’s believed he will return to WJOX via ESPN syndication when the new program debuts later this summer.
Bonneville Seattle Brings Unique Talk to MyNorthwest.com. The Bonneville Seattle cluster that includes news/talk KIRO-FM, sports KIRO-AM and talk KTTH is beginning a series of unique audio programs to the web venture it calls MyNorthwest.com. Dubbed “MyNorthwest Chats,” the weekly, one-hour programs will stream on Wednesday’s from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm beginning with today’s chat featuring nationally acclaimed restaurateur Tom Douglas. MyNorthwest.com editor Stephanie Klein says, “We’re excited to have the opportunity to connect our readers directly to the experts and start an inspiring dialogue that makes an impact. We want the conversation to spark a chain of discussion in our readers’ lives.” Other chats lined up for July include talk show host Michael Medved and Seattle Mariners insider Shannon Drayer.
Programming Changes at WGN, Chicago; Turi Ryder to Exit. Chicago radio pro Turi Ryder has been in the late night slot at Tribune’s WGN, Chicago since the beginning of this year but now the company says it’s going in a different direction and will end her program. Ryder will get a chance to say goodbye to her WGN listeners as she’ll work this evening and Thursday before wrapping things up there. The station has not announced what will air in the time slot. Ryder also hosts “America Weekend” for Envision Radio Networks.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM, Providence Tackles Immigration Issue with Live Debate. News/talk WPRO-AM’s Tara Granahan is moderating a debate that will take place today at the Providence Marriott from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm called, “Green Light on Green Cards,” featuring a panel of experts from each side of the illegal immigration issue. The discussion will be streamed live online at the station’s 630wpro.com and will be the center piece of a “WPRO Special Report” scheduled to air during the “WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti” the week of July 1. The debate features two immigration lawyers, a state representative, a member of the local clergy and the head of an illegal immigration enforcement organization. The stations states, “The debate will address the issues that have emerged from illegal immigration including; licenses for illegal immigrants, how immigration effects the Rhode Island economy, and potential solutions moving forward.”
TeleSouth Communications to Buy WOSM, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. TeleSouth operates the Mississippi talk radio network known as “SuperTalk Mississippi” and the purchase of WOSM, Ocean Springs (103.1 FM) – between Biloxi and Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast – will be added to that network. The company states, “The addition of WOSM to the network will give coast listeners the best choice in Mississippi programming with ‘The Gallo Radio Show,’ ‘The JT Show’ and ‘Head to Head with Matt Wyatt and Richard Cross,’ all homegrown programs that keep a watch on state government, entertainment, sports, unique happenings in Mississippi, with a local take on national issues.” In addition to Mississippi-based programs, ‘SuperTalk’ is also home to Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee and Compass Media Networks’ Lars Larson and Todd Schnitt. WOSM is owned and operated by Charles Cooper and airs Christian programming. TeleSouth CEO Steve Davenport states, “We are excited about growing the ‘SuperTalk Network’ with the addition of WOSM. Mr. Cooper has worked hard for years building an audience loyal to traditional family values. We are confident that WOSM listeners will hear those values in the programs featured each day on ‘SuperTalk.’” Long-time coast talk show host and programmer Kipp Greggory will serve as general manager of WOSM.
CHQR, Calgary Talk Host Dave Rutherford to End Daily Show. Canadian talk show host Dave Rutherford will wrap a 21-year career hosting a daily talk show at CHQR, Calgary after his last show on July 26. The conservative personality and pedigreed newsman tells the Edmonton Journal he believes the broadcast news industry is dumbing down and there may be no place for a broadcaster like him. “I don’t think there’s the desire to ask the next question, maybe to ask any questions. But I sense that the whole industry, the broadcast news business, television and radio, is dumbing down.”
The End of the Line for CNN Radio. The service was a shell of its former self after Dial Global ended its distribution of the news product and replaced it with NBC News Radio last year, effectively becoming a digital-only product. Now, CNN states that after completing “a review of its radio business,” it “has made the decision to cease production of CNN Radio podcasts, effective immediately.” CNN has indicated that some of the staff will be relocated to positions elsewhere in the company.
Allen Hunt to End WSB, Atlanta Program. Christian broadcaster Allen Hunt announces he’ll end his Sunday evening program that has aired on WSB, Atlanta since its inception after the June 30 broadcast. Hunt says he was approached by Cox Media to move the time of his program and he decided that due to his busy schedule with the Dynamic Catholic Institute and the requested change, he decided it would be better to end the show. Hunt built the program at WSB and, for a couple of years, put the show into national syndication.
The Roving Jay Mohr Billboard. Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr’s flagship station, “AM570 FOX Sports LA” (KLAC, Los Angeles) surprised Mohr with a mobile billboard promoting his program. While Mohr was on the air, the billboard stopped by the studio during its route through Los Angeles and the show crew seized the opportunity for a quick photo-op. Pictured here (from l-r) are: intern Ben Haley, technical producer John Ramos, social media producer Matty Cox, assistant producer Justin Frosburg, Mohr, update anchor “Diamond” Dan Beyer, associate producer Mike Lingard and executive producer Greg “Hong Kong” Toohey.
Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Bruce Bradley Dies. Bruce Bradley was a personality on CBS Radio’s KMOX, St. Louis from 1986 to 1992. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he passed away on Saturday, June 22 in Lake St. Louis at age 79. Prior to his career in St. Louis, Bradley also worked in the New York, Philadelphia and Boston markets.
President Obama’s Global Warming Policy, SCOTUS Gay Marriage Rulings, George Zimmerman Trial, Paula Deen Freefall, and Texas Anti-Abortion Bill Fails Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/25). President Obama’s policy to bypass Congress to enact greenhouse gas emissions regulations; the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage issues; the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the demise of Paula Deen’s media career in the wake of allegations of racist language; and the failure of anti-abortion legislation in Texas were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Rush Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke Comments Cited in Dial Global’s SEC Filing. Talk radio has long been saddled with the label of “controversial programming” that makes it a difficult sell on the national level. Agencies have numerous other marketing options through which clients can get out their message. Especially for family-oriented goods and services, why take a chance on “controversial programming?” But Rush Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke comments last March brought renewed bad PR to the format and, as was discussed at both of TALKERS magazine’s New Media Seminars this year (June in NYC and October in Los Angeles), the scarlet letter weighs heavy upon the talk radio business. So much so that Dial Global – in reporting to the SEC – cited Limbaugh (not by name) as part of the reason the company is taking a $67.2 million impairment charge. Here’s what the company says: “We normally perform the required impairment testing of goodwill on an annual basis in December of each year. As a result of several factors, which had a significant impact on our fourth quarter bookings and sales, we performed an interim analysis of our goodwill carrying value as required by ASC 350, Intangibles-Goodwill and Other. We believe our 2012 results were adversely impacted by, among other things, late cancellations in ad buys (which we believe was a by-product of the election and renewed economic uncertainty), competitive factors, such as a greater diversity of digital ad platforms (into which ad budgets have flowed) and increased competition from our major competitors, and advertisers’ response to controversial statements by a certain nationally syndicated talk radio personality in March 2012.” Talk radio is unlikely to become “family friendly” in the eyes of agencies anytime soon and talk sellers appear resigned to having to carve out new niches of advertisers and work hard to get and keep them. For big corporations with a lot of debt, that’s not a comforting thought.
Dial Global Voluntarily De-Lists from the NASDAQ. As a result of the company’s low volume of trading combined with other factors, including the associated costs of maintaining its listing on the NASDAQ, Dial Global announces it will undertake the delisting process beginning on or around November 26 and be completed on or around December 6 of this year. Dial Global will remain a publicly traded company – it reports no plans to go private – but the stock will be traded on the OTC Pink Sheets.
Envision Radio Networks Develops “America Weekend” Program. Calling it the “next generation of weekend talk radio,” Envision Radio Networks says the new “America Weekend” program is “a break from the usual brokered programming and rerun political fare of most news/talk stations, ‘America Weekend’ covers the lighter side of news and lifestyle issues facing today’s on-the-go talk listeners while maintaining revenues from paid hosts.” Envision states the show provides six hours of live programming on both Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm EST and accommodates up to four local expert slots per hour, with frequent break-away points for sports, weather or other local programming. Since the programming is broadcast live via satellite, ‘America Weekend’ is able to stay current by addressing breaking and developing stories of national interest as they happen. Anchoring the show will be “top-level, nationally recognized” hosts joined by high-profile guests. Programmer and consultant Kipper McGee is executive producer of the show and he states, “It’s been said that ‘weekdays are for ratings, weekends are for revenue.’ However, now we’re seeing the damage that poorly rated weekend programming is causing weekday shows. Listeners are forced to find other weekend options, and increasingly are not finding their way back to the radio station.” Envision president and CEO Danno Wolkoff says, “‘America Weekend’ is all about maintaining revenue opportunities for radio stations from long-form brokered programs in a new and innovative way. We have always believed that there is a better way for radio to monetize its Saturday and Sunday programming without sacrificing quality. Finally, ‘Content is King’ again on weekends.” Interested stations can visit www.envisionradio.com or contact Melissa Bachtel at 216-831-3761 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CBS Sports Radio Network Names Damon Amendolara Overnight Host. When CBS Radio’s new national sports network debuts on January 2, WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” evening host Damon Amendolara — “D.A.” — will be the network’s overnight host manning the 2:00 am to 6:00 am shift. Amendolara has been with the Boston sports talker since it debuted in 2009. He is also the sideline reporter for the New England Revolution on Comcast and a frequent guest and fill-in host for CSN’s Sports Tonight/Sports Sunday. He serves as an anchor on CSNNE’s “Pregame Live” and “Postgame Live,” appears on Fox 25 Boston, while contributing to NFL Films and the NFL Network’s Top 10 series, ESPN News’ Air Check and NFL Films Presents on ESPN. CBS Sports Radio director of programming Eric Spitz says, “D.A. is an all-star in Boston and his energy and understanding of the sports world will no doubt translate to a national platform. Damon is certainly the man to keep listeners engrossed overnight, and his work at stations across the country, covering a multitude of different sports, will be beneficial to our listeners. His success and following on our local radio station and his charitable endeavors in the community prove he will make a great addition to our already outstanding lineup at CBS Sports Radio.”
WTOP Newsman Donates iPhone to Newseum. It’s unclear whether WTOP, Washington news reporter Neal Augenstein was the first American radio news reporter to use the iPhone as his “sole” reporting tool, but Augenstein sure has attracted a lot of interest after it became known how he was using the device. Poynter.org reports the donation to the Washington, DC museum of news and related technology. Newseum Curator of Collections Carrie Christoffersen tells Poynter.org, “We collect all sorts of things that relate to changes in news technology. It was really interesting to us, since he’s doing all of his audio interviews, editing, video work, all on his iPhone, with some supplement from an iPad. He’s enabled himself to be very, very on-the-go.” There are no immediate plans to display the device but Christoffersen says their exhibits are always changing. Augenstein is pictured here being interviewed recently for Talkers TV about his use of the iPhone for reporting. Check out the cool five-minute video here.
Odds & Sods. Radio pro Turi Ryder fills in on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago for midday talk host John Williams today…..Filling in today for Talk Radio Network’s Rusty Humphries is KDWN, Las Vegas morning drive host Alan Stock.
Inside the Locker Room. In the photo here, KLAC, Los Angeles and Fox Sports Radio Network hosts Petros Papadakis (l) and Matt “Money” Smith (r) interview Los Angeles Lakers greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (second from left) and Jerry West (second from right) at a recent live listener event. Abdul-Jabbar and West offered Lakers faithful their takes on the team’s new coach and the team’s prospects for the 2012-13 season.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk” weekend program is added to the lineup at KAVA-AM/FM, Pueblo, Colorado; WEZS, Laconia, New Hampshire; and KOHI, St. Helens, Oregon…..“America Tonight” with Kate Delaney is picked up by WLSC, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…..Fox Sports Radio Network programming is added to new affiliate KOPJ, Portland…..ESPN Radio programming is picked up by Cox Media’s WDBO-AM, Orlando.
Petraeus-Broadwell Scandal Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of November 12-16. The ever deepening scandal involving ex-CIA director David Petraeus and biographer Paula Broadwell was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. At #2 this week was the Benghazi attack investigation. At #3 was the “fiscal cliff” Washington lawmakers are facing followed by Obama Administration Cabinet changes at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly ranking of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio. It is published at Talkers.com every Friday. View this week’s entire chart here.
Radio Comes Through for Charity for Holiday Giving and in Times of Disaster. Radio is a business and making a profit is the first goal of any business. But radio stations and radio corporations have a documented history of giving back to the communities they serve through the organization of charitable giving. That service is evident even during difficult economic times as stations large and small regularly step up to the plate to take time out from creating entertaining programming while risking losing listener interest in order to do charitable work. This year the industry is seeing a confluence of disaster relief needs and the annual holiday charity programs. Relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy include such assistance as: CRN Digital Talk Radio’s $2,351 donation to the cause; Townsquare Media-owned New Jersey 101.5’s ongoing “Restore New Jersey” campaign; Cox Media Group’s $75,000 donation to relief organizations; Geraldo Rivera’s recent live “radiothon” on Cumulus Media’s WABC; CBS’s radio and TV stations’ daylong phone bank; CBS Philadelphia partnered with Live Nation/Comcast Spectacor to offer concert tickets to the Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler show on November 19 in exchange for donations to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund that brought in $30,000; as well as Clear Channel’s planned 12-12-12 concert in New York City. Disaster relief is not the only cause that radio rises to assist. Radio’s charitable projects include aid to organizations that individual stations have chosen to work with regularly – such as KGO, San Francisco’s long-running annual radiothon to fight leukemia — plus regular holiday-oriented giving programs. The following are just a few that have come to our attention recently:
Cumulus Nashville to Program Radiothon for Local Rescue Mission. News/talk WTN, Nashville will host a radiothon on Monday, November 19 beginning at 5:00 am and running through 7:00 pm to raise funds for the Nashville Rescue Mission. Morning host Ralph Bristol begins the day and the fundraising continues with hosts Michael DelGiorno, Dave Ramsey, and Phil Valentine all committing their shows to raising funds for the Rescue Mission’s programs. In addition to his own show, Michael DelGiorno will participate with the other WTN personalities throughout the day. DelGiorno’s extra duties start by broadcasting live at the Rescue Mission from 7:30 am to 8:30 am with Ralph Bristol live from the studio. He then hosts Dave Ramsey from 9:00 am to 10:00 am at the station. His normal show then gets extended to 1:00 pm effectively preempting the Mike Huckabee show. And then to close out the Radiothon, DelGiorno returns for the final push from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles Raises $135,000 for Paralyzed Veterans. Sports talk outlet KLAC, Los Angeles held its fifth annual Paralyzed Veterans of America Live Radiothon and Online Auction recently, calling in local and national celebrities to help raise a record $135,000 for the charity. KLAC and Fox Sports Radio Network personalities Steve Hartman, Vic “The Brick” Jacobs, Petros Papadakis and Rob Dibble hosted the radiothon and were joined by Dodgers great Tommy Lasorda; rocker Eddie Money; Lakers legend James Worthy; model Leeann Tweeden; and boxing great Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, among others. Pictured here are (from l-r): KLAC’s Steve Hartman, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, KLAC’s Vic “The Brick” Jacobs and KLAC producer Sam Betesh.
WEEI, Boston Recognized for Cancer Charity Work. Entercom’s sports WEEI, Boston was recognized by the Lung Cancer Alliance of New England for its work bringing attention to and raising funds for the treatment and cure of the disease as part of its annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon held in conjunction with cable’s New England Sports Network each August. This past August, the 11th annual two-day event raised more than $3.3 million for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Entercom Boston VP of programming and operations Jason Wolfe says, “It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by the Global Lung Cancer Coalition and I’m so proud to accept this award on behalf of all of us at WEEI. Cancer affects us all, and we are blessed to have had such tremendous success shining a light on this terrible disease through the efforts of the Jimmy Fund radio-telethon. I want to thank everyone at the GLCC for their support. It means a great deal to our entire staff.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Wolfe; Rob Gronkowski, tight end for the New England Patriots; and Rich Monopoli, LCA New England co-director.
FCC Chairman Genachowski Asks Commission to Approve Cross-Ownership. The change in rules would be permanent for companies operating radio-TV-newspaper combos in the top 20 markets. Stations such as Tribune’s WGN, Chicago have been living on temporary exemptions to the law forbidding such cross-ownership for years. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is asking the commissioners to approve the move without a public meeting vote as soon as today and the change could take effect tomorrow (11/16). Bloomberg reports that for Tribune, the vote would be a requirement for the company’s exit from bankruptcy protection.
Conclave Names Seasoned Radio Pro Bob Shannon Executive Director. Veteran radio broadcasting executive Bob Shannon has been named the Conclave’s new executive director. He succeeds the organization’s first executive director, Tom Kay, who recently retired after almost four decades of service. In announcing the appointment, Conclave board of directors chairman Mark Bolke says, “There obviously is no replacement for Tom Kay and his shaping the Conclave organization for the past 37 years. The executive selection committee was presented with a list of excellent candidates from which to choose. Bob Shannon represents the consummate broadcasting professional with a shared vision and passion to move the Conclave into a new era. We are thrilled to name him as our new executive director.” Shannon, whose consulting company bobshannonworks is based in Minneapolis, is also president of SpotMedia Services, a former executive vice president at TM Century, and the author of Turn It Up! American Radio Tales 1946-1996. On accepting the position Shannon states, “As a student of radio I’ve long admired Tom and what he’s done at the Conclave. Moving forward my goal is to build on his vision by expanding our online activity and looking very closely at how radio and our learning conference are addressing changes in media. This is a very exciting time, ripe with opportunities for those who know how to create compelling content. Stay tuned!”
Newsmax Steps Up Audio and Video Content; Terrestrial Radio Programs in Development. Months ago TALKERS reported on the digital initiatives going on at conservative media firm Newsmax that include its video channel Newsmax TV. Now, the Chris Ruddy-led media organization is announcing the further development of these ventures. Newsmax says it will soon be expanding to an online 24/7 network. The online TV network will focus on simulcasting radio content online. It will also develop its own radio shows for Newsmax TV and broadcast these on terrestrial radio as well. In 2013, the company plans to significantly ramp up its online TV presence and radio activities and has constructed a state-of-the-art broadcast studio in its New York offices. Staff for the projects includes Chad Wilkinson as executive producer of programming; Tamara Karcev as director of affiliate relations for radio programming. In addition, former WABC, New York program director John Mainelli is consulting the project.
Wayne Powers Returns to WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte. After four years as regular fill-in host at Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte, Wayne Powers removed himself from the station’s roster in February in order to run as a Republican for an At-Large seat on the Mecklenburg County Commission. After a May primary win, Powers came up short in the November 6 general election. “It was tough to beat the huge straight-ticket Democrat vote here in the DNC convention city,” says Powers. He returns for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, guest hosting WBT’s Keith Larson show.
Petraeus Scandal, Benghazi Investigation, ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ Israel-Syria Conflict, and New Chinese Leader Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/14). The expanding David Patraeus-Paula Broadwell scandal; questions about the Benghazi attack and Petraeus’ role in the investigation; Congress and the Obama Administration begin tackling the ‘fiscal cliff’; the violent conflict between Israel and Syria; and the change in Chinese leadership as Xi Jinping succeeds Hu Jintao as secretary general were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Dave Ramsey Has More Than 1 Million Friends. Really! Facebook has more than 900 million users worldwide and 1 million of them count nationally syndicated talk superstar Dave Ramsey their friend. With all those friends and more than 400,000 Twitter followers, Ramsey’s organization says, “Not only are they seeing the value in Dave’s message on social platforms, but the web as a whole as ‘The Dave Ramsey Show’ is among the top 25 of all iTunes podcasts and the number one podcast in the business section.”
“The Future of Audio” the Focus of House Subcommittee Hearing; Cross-Ownership a Major Topic. Today’s hearing before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will center around four topics: broadcast radio ownership caps, low-power FM, FM chips and royalties. Among the witnesses scheduled to testify are Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan, Commonwealth Broadcasting president, CEO Steven Newberry, Pandora founder Tim Westergren, and RIAA chairman and CEO Cary Sherman. A committee memo states, “This hearing will examine how advances in communications services and consumer electronics equipment are affecting the distribution and consumption of audio content.” There is again movement among Republicans to eliminate or relax the cross-ownership regulations in light of changes in technology and how they affect competition. Also, more arguments over performance royalties are expected to be raised at the hearing, especially with Clear Channel‘s groundbreaking record industry news announced yesterday (see next story).
Clear Channel Creates Groundbreaking Relationship with Big Machine Label Group. This is purely a music radio story but still has the potential to reverberate throughout the entire radio business. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is the first broadcast company to strike a deal with a label group that pays the label (and hopefully the artists as well) a performance royalty for music aired on terrestrial radio stations. The two sides did not release specific numbers but Big Machine Label Group produces recordings for artists including Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Edens Edge and Ella Mae Bowen and Valory Music Co. artists Reba McEntire, Justin Moore, Brantley Gilbert, The Mavericks and Thomas Rhett. Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman says of the Big Machine Label Group president and CEO, “Scott Borchetta has reinvented the music business in many important ways over the years, from distribution and artist development to promotion and advertising. Focusing that same creativity on how best to grow the music business, Scott has developed this new model with us to let his labels and artists participate in the revenue of broadcast radio immediately and in digital radio as it builds. This is a big step, but we think this investment is an opportunity worth taking to align our interests in all of our revenue streams and grow digital listening to its full potential with record labels and their artists as our partners. This landmark agreement creates a structure that makes sense for both our companies, but most of all for music fans.”
Cumulus Media Announces Tony Mascaro Named WABC, New York Operations Manager. Confirming what TALKERS reported on Monday, June 4, Cumulus Media makes official the announcement that CHR WPLJ-FM, New York operations manager Tony Mascaro takes the same title for sister news/talk WABC, New York.
WBZ, Boston Overnight Host Steve LeVeille to Retire. The 57-year-old host of the overnight talk show on CBS Radio‘s WBZ, Boston announces his decision to retire at the end of next week after 13 years hosting the show and 21 years with WBZ. “This is a quality-of-life decision for my wife, Diane, and me. We have been making moves during the past number of years to be able to do this without any particular date in mind. We have just reached a point where we said the time is right now. After spending most of our weekends and vacation time in Maine for the last 15 years we are looking forward to making it our year round home.” Steve LeVeille is a native of the Boston area and was familiar with WBZ NewsRadio as a teenager saying, “I grew up in the Boston area listening to Larry Glick on WBZ. And as cliché as it sounds, it was the dream of a teenager to do the overnight show on WBZ and I am proud to be able to retire from that position.”
Dan Dibley Signs on With Entercom’s San Francisco Sports FM for Another Year. “The Rise Guys” morning drive co-host Dan Dibley extends his deal with Entercom‘s KGMZ-FM, San Francisco – 95.7 The Game. Dibley co-hosts the program with Whitey Gleason and Mark Kreidler. Program director Jason Barrett states, “Dan is a big reason why The Rise Guys are the best sports radio morning show in the Bay Area. His energy, passion, sense of humor and work ethic define what the Bay Area’s ‘New Sound for Sports’ is all about.” Prior to joining KGMZ-FM in May of 2011, Dibley served as executive producer at crosstown KNBR.
Merlin Media Changes Blagojevich Billboards in Chicago. The two billboards you see here are before-and-after versions of the outdoor campaign employed by Merlin Media‘s all-news WIQI-FM – FM News 101.1. After the company put up about 200 of the billboards in the Chicago area, attorney Sheldon Sorosky (who represented former Governor Rod Blagojevich in his corruption trial) contacted Merlin notifying the company the billboards may violate an Illinois law that prevents one’s image from being used for commercial purposes without permission. Merlin’s John Gehron tells Crain’s Chicago Business they made the move because, “Listeners were concerned that we were insensitive and we wanted to be responsive.” At the same time, Gehron tells Crain’s the campaign has been positive for the fledgling all-news outlet, “It’s done well and it’s gotten some nice talk.”
WTOP, Washington Reporter Shoved by DC Council Chairman. This was no aggressive push but observers say District of Columbia Council Chairman Kwame Brown, after being asked a question by WTOP, Washington reporter Mark Seagraves, pushed the reporter up against a wall with enough force “to send a message” while saying, “No questions.” Seagraves was asking Brown about a report by another media outlet that federal investigators have revealed part of their case against him involving campaign wrongdoings.
Wisconsin Recall Election, 2012 Presidential Race, Jittery Global Financial Markets and Sandusky Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/5). The recall election in Wisconsin between Republican Scott Walker and Democrat Tom Barrett and its impact on the future of public sector unions; the 2012 presidential campaign; the state of the world’s financial markets; and the looming trial of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Kings of L.A. With the Los Angeles Kings on the brink of their first NHL Stanley Cup Championship (the Kings lead the New Jersey Devils 3-0 with game 4 tonight) Clear Channel‘s KLAC, Los Angeles – AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. – is enjoying the ride. Pictured here is a scene from the station’s live broadcast from L.A. Kings fan-fest at L.A. Live, adjacent to the Staples Center arena. “Petros & Money” broadcast their show live from the event and here you see Matt “Money” Smith (l), Kings broadcaster Jim Fox (c) and NHL great Luc Robitaille (r) on stage.
Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio to Feature Greater Media Stations. First it was Cumulus Media striking at deal with Clear Channel to have its radio stations available nationwide via the iHeartRadio digital radio platform, now Greater Media climbs aboard. Beginning in April, Greater Media’s 22 stations in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, New Jersey and Charlotte will be available via the iHeartRadio app. Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth states, “We are thrilled to be able to provide our listeners with even greater access to our stations anywhere they may be listening throughout the country with this exciting platform.” Clear Channel president and CEO John Hogan says, “Adding Greater Media to iHeartRadio only improves our leading digital destination for consumers, expanding their ability to find the best and most complete online radio experience anywhere. Clear Channel Radio and Greater Media understand that radio connects local businesses to consumers like no other medium can, and this agreement offers more choices for our listeners which is what they want.”
Don Martin Promoted to Senior Vice President, Sports Programming for Premiere Networks. This is a promotion from his role as vice president and general manager for Fox Sports Radio Network which has been a division of Premiere Networks since it began collaborating on sports programming with Fox Sports more than 10 years ago. In this new role, Martin oversees all sports programming and operations for Premiere. Martin reports to Premiere president of content and affiliations Julie Talbott who says, “This is a well-deserved promotion, as Don’s leadership has been instrumental in the growth and strength of the Fox Sports Radio Network. His expertise, as well as his passion and dedication to this industry, make him a tremendous asset as we expand in the sports arena. With Don at the helm, I’m confident we will continue to see the positive impact and success of our programming.” Under Martin’s watch, FSRN has reached an all-time high of 400-plus affiliates. He continues in his role as general manager and program director of Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles. TALKERS magazine’s Mike Kinosian recently spoke with Don Martin about his work with Fox Sports Radio and KLAC. See the video in the Talkers TV box on the right side of this page.
KFTK-FM, St. Louis Adds More Local Talk; Expanded Shows for Dana Loesch and Dave Glover. Emmis Communications’ news/talk KFTK-FM, St. Louis is adding more live and local programming to its daily schedule with the expansion of the Dana Loesch and Dave Glover shows. Loesch moves from the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot beginning January 30. Dave Glover, the station’s longtime PM drive host, adds an hour to make his show live from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Program director Jeff Allen says, “Now with more Dana and Dave we can better cover the issues that matter to our St. Louis listeners. This is just another step in our commitment to respond to the local audience and to better cover breaking news anytime it happens.” The expansion of the two shows means TRN’s Laura Ingraham program will exit the station. Dana Loesch also does a live hour on Emmis’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm and Allen says that will continue.
Compass Media Marketing Announces Executive Staff. The newly formed advertising representation firm being organized by Compass Media Networks founder and CEO Peter Kosann announces Paul Gregery is installed as president of sales & marketing; Mary Giesen is named VP of sales planning; and Laura Peyer is New York account manager. The appointments are effective immediately and Peter Kosann says, “We are extremely fortunate to have these executives join us. This is a tremendous first step for our sales organization.” Paul Gregery served at Westwood One for more than eight years in a variety of capacities, including president of sales. Before that, he managed West Coast sales for the AMFM Radio Networks prior to its being acquired by Premiere Networks. Gregery also worked for more than a decade at the ABC Radio Network in a variety of sales positions. He will work out of Compass’ Los Angeles offices. Mary Giesen also worked at Westwood One where she quickly rose through the sales management ranks, ultimately serving as VP of sales planning, traffic & continuity, managing the sales planning staff and overseeing the management of the commercial inventory. She will work out of Compass’ New York offices. Laura Peyer previously served as the sports network sales executive at Skyview Networks, managing advertising relationships with clients throughout the New York, New England and the Midwest markets. Prior to Skyview, she held positions as national broadcast supervisor at MPG and sales planner at Westwood One. She also will work out of Compass’ New York offices.
Glenn Beck’s GBTV to Debut New Roundtable Show. In association with Glenn Beck’s internet news site The Blaze, GBTV will feature “Real News from The Blaze” airing weeknights from 7:00 to 8:00 beginning January 18. GBTV personality Amy Holmes will moderate the roundtable discussion of the day’s news. Participants will include Blaze editor-in-chief Scott Baker, Buck Sexton, Will Cain and S.E. Cupp. GBTV president of programming Joel Cheatwood says, “While GBTV is and will remain an information and entertainment network, we saw a real opportunity to provide the news that our audience is looking for and is too often ignored by the mainstream media. We are passionate about offering our audience a deeply reported and engaging look at the news and are excited to be able to draw on the incredible editorial resources at The Blaze.”
WIP, Philadelphia Brings Brian Haddad Aboard for Creative Services Director Post. The former KDKB-FM, Phoenix morning drive host is named creative services director and part-time host at the CBS Radio sports talk station. Operations manager Andy Bloom says, “We embarked on a three-plus month search to find the person who would make WIP the best-produced station in the country. There is no question we found the most creative mind and talented person to help us accomplish that goal. We view Brian as our new secret weapon.” Brian “Sludge” Haddad joined Sandusky’s rock KDKB-FM in June of 2010 to host the morning show. Previously, he’d worked at Cox Media’s WDYL-FM, Richmond.
KFNS, St. Louis Host Kevin Slaten Goes Solo After Ashlee Feldman Exits. The PM drive show on Grand Slam Sports’ KFNS, St. Louis will go with Kevin Slaten solo for a while after former MTV reality show star Ashlee Feldman exited the program. STLToday.com reports Feldman – a former college basketball player and star of MTV’s “Real World New Orleans” – missed her family in the East and decided to leave the program after a year. Slaten tells the site he’s not certain if he’ll remain solo or be paired up with another partner.
Fisher Communications’ KVI, Seattle Loses PD Travis Box to Home Life. Program director and producer Travis Box announces he’s leaving Fisher Communications to begin the most difficult job he’ll ever undertake – stay-at-home dad! Box has been producing the KOMO-AM/FM “Newsline” program and programmed KVI as it made the recent transition from oldies back to talk. KVI talk host Scott Carty will serve as interim PD.
New Hampshire Primary, Iran Nuclear Ambitions/American Sentenced to Death, Obama Chief of Staff to Exit and Tebow Rallies Boncos Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/9). The GOP New Hampshire Primary race, Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its sentencing to death American Amir Mirzaie Hekmati on charges of being a spy, the Obama Administration’s chief of staff Bill Daley to exit and Tim Tebow’s rallying the Broncos to victory over the Steelers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Don Martin Interviewed on TALKERS TV. He is one of the most influential management figures in sports talk radio. Don Martin wears both national and local feathers in his sports cap serving as vice president/general manager of Fox Sports Radio and general manager/program director of sports talk KLAC, Los Angeles. TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian caught up with Martin at the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20/11) and interviewed him about the state of sports talk radio including the local and national perspectives, where to find new talent and the importance of stations having play-by-play associations with a popular sports franchise. Martin also discusses the impact that the PPM is having on the sports talk genre saying that it is showing the format in a positive light. According to Martin, sports talk radio is one area of the talk media world that is less impacted by these difficult times than most. He credits the fact that so many talented hosts are out of work as providing a vibrant talent pool from which to pick when openings come and points to the continual crop of retiring athletes as being another source of potential sports talk broadcasters. Check out this must see video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.
KSFO, San Francisco Makes Program Changes; Melanie Morgan Returns to AM Drive and J.D. Hayworth Takes Over Late Mornings. Almost four years after exiting the AM drive show she co-hosted with Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan is back on the Cumulus Media station alongside morning host Brian Sussman. KSFO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to have Melanie back on KSFO. She’s very popular with listeners and we’re looking forward to her many contributions on the revamped morning show.” Cumulus fills the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot vacated by Rush Limbaugh when the Premiere Networks star moved across town to Clear Channel’s new KKSF with former Arizona congressman KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth says of his new gig, “As a ‘recovering’ Congressman, I’ll ‘pull back the curtains’ and explain why politicians do the things they do. With the help of KSFO listeners, we’ll endeavor to provide common sense and clarity in these challenging and confusing times.”
Bob Lonsberry to Host Local Show for Clear Channel’s WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse. Bob Lonsberry tells the Syracuse Post-Standard he’ll make his new show local for Syracuse listeners even though he’ll be a commuter from his home market of Rochester where he hosts the midday show on WHAM. Lonsberry takes over the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program beginning January 9. The shift was formerly held by Jim Reith who exited the station at the end of October. Lonsberry tells the paper, “I want something that literally speaks to a Syracuse listener, is representative of them and is a service to them.” Lonsberry will lead into WSYR-AM/FM’s 5:00 pm news-oriented “Daily Wrap with Joe Galuski and Kevin Schenk.”
Gene Burns to Begin KKSF, San Francisco Show Next Week After Apparent Health Issues. The new lineup at Clear Channel’s KKSF, San Francisco began this week but former KGO talk host Gene Burns was missing in action. Numerous reports in the media trades cite a mini-stroke suffered by Burns as the reason he’s not on the air. However, Bay Area blogger Rich Lieberman reports that Burns did not suffer a stroke of any kind, that he has another unspecified medical condition and is expected to be on the radio next week.
WXOS-FM, St. Louis Tweaks Lineup; Former Cardinal Chris Duncan Moves to PM Drive. Hubbard Radio’s 101 ESPN (WXOS-FM) moves former St. Louis Cardinals star Chris Duncan from his role on the evening show to “The Fast Lane” PM drive program where he’ll work alongside Randy Karraker and D’Marco Farr. Bob Ramsey, who had been part of the “Fast Lane” show, moves to the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with co-host Brian Stull for the newly named “Stully & Rammer” show. Ramsey also maintains his role as voice of the St. Louis Billikens calling St. Louis University men’s basketball games on the station. Program director Kent Sterling states, “We are excited to put Chris Duncan on ‘The Fast Lane.’ He is a unique communicator with an incredible work ethic, and a great guy. He has lived a life in the eye of the sports hurricane and he speaks with an authority that is captivating. Media is all about finding great communicators and Chris is one of the most gifted in America.”
CBS Radio Announces Debut of DC All-News Outlet. CBS Radio’s all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will hit the airwaves on January 19 and will feature the following talent lineup: Bill Rehkopf and Amy Morris in AM drive, Jenny Glick and Chas Henry in middays, Evan Haning and Nancy Lyons in PM drive, and Sarah Jacobs and Cheryl Simone in evenings. Program director Robert Sanchez says of the new station, “We are very excited to have put together such a great group of professionals who have spent many years covering local and national news. Each brings a specialty to WNEW creating a great team which will deliver important and compelling news that matters to local residents. When Washington needs to know, this team will have them covered.”
Rob Williams New OM/PD at WQRT, Cincinnati; New PM Drive Show Debuts. The Florence, Kentucky-licensed talk station owned by Christian Broadcasting System Ltd. names former Clear Channel programmer Rob Williams operations manager and program director for “Real Talk 1160” – WQRT. Williams replaces Cary Pall. At the same time, as talk host Andy Furman begins his new position hosting morning drive on the Fox Sports Radio Network, he leaves WQRT and makes way for “The Other Guys” afternoon sports talk show featuring Fox Sports Ohio’s Jeff Piecoro, former producer and co-host of the Furman show Rick “the Brick” Wall, and Metro Networks’ Jeremy “J-Lance” Lance.
Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Fracking-Related Earthquakes and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/3). The GOP Iowa Caucuses held yesterday, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and warnings to the U.S. about carriers in the region, reports of earthquakes in Northeastern Ohio thought to be related to oil and gas fracking and the first financial markets activity of the new year were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Mona Lipschitz Debuts New Column. Full of gossip, rumors, personal asides and unbridled opinion about the industry and the people in it, Mona Lipschitz debuts her new column “Straight from The Lip” today at Talkers.com. In it she offers some keen insights about recent changes at Merlin Media and Cumulus Media as well as some pointed advice for Anderson Cooper. Mona has been the news editor of TALKERS magazine for the past 21 years and she knows where all the bodies are buried in this business. Let the dishing begin! To read the first installment of “Straight from The Lip,” click here.
“Johnny B” Takes Over Mornings on WGN. Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago announces Chicago radio legend Jonathon Brandmeier replaces Greg Jarrett as host of the morning drive program effective December 9. WGN vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer says, “Jonathon Brandmeier is a Chicago superstar and we’re thrilled to have him on the air at the station where he belongs. Johnny’s high energy, humor and unique Chicago experience make him an exceptional fit as ‘The Voice of Chicago’ evolves with another generation of listeners.” Brandmeier had a successful 14-year career at WLUP-AM/FM but in 1997 the station made a change and he worked at WCKG-FM, Chicago before moving to Los Angeles to host programs at KLSX-FM and KCBS-FM. He returned to WLUP-FM to host mornings from 2005 through 2009. He’s also hosted various television projects and recorded numerous music/comedy projects. The change in mornings at WGN and the ousting of Jarrett represents another move away from the programming brought to the station under the leadership of former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels and the PD he brought to WGN, Kevin Metheny. Jarrett moved to WGN in June of 2009 after spending more than eight years at KGO, San Francisco in the news department. WGN notes changes in the news department includes news anchor Steve Bertrand moving to mornings with Brandmeier and Jim Gudas shifting to middays/afternoons. While Chicagoans may welcome the return of Johnny B to the radio, some will be upset with the replacement of husband-and-wife team Steve King and Johnnie Putman in the 12:00 midnight to 5:30 am slot with Bill Leff. King has been with WGN for more than 25 years and Johnnie almost as long.
Clear Channel and Cumulus Partner Up for Two-Pronged Deal. The New York Times is reporting that Clear Channel and Cumulus – the two largest radio operators in America – have struck a deal that will give Cumulus spots for its SweetJack daily-deals program on Clear Channel radio stations and that will put Cumulus radio stations on CC’s iHeartRadio platform. Cumulus has SweetJack operating in 16 markets with plans to expand. Recently, Clear Channel struck a deal to work with daily-deals operator LivingSocial. Under the terms of the deal, all 570 Cumulus stations in 120 markets will be available on the iHeartRadio platform. Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman is quoted saying the deal provides “one more data point that proves radio is not a laggard, that we do see the future, and that we’re moving toward it in a smart and fast way.” SweetJack was created by Cumulus in April and has local market salespeople working in all 16 markets. Cumulus reports it has approximately 1 million users at this time. Clear Channel and Cumulus have a revenue-sharing deal for SweetJack. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says of the service, “SweetJack is our exciting new social commerce platform. It’s a break-through brand in a sea of sameness that’s fueled by the power of radio to connect local merchants with consumers. This agreement with Clear Channel enables us to scale SweetJack into a true nationwide platform which we believe is essential to competing successfully in this rapidly growing space.”
KGO, San Francisco Update: Peter Finch and Doug McIntyre in for Nights. In the wake of last week’s blockbuster news of the dismissal of four of its longtime talk hosts for a more news-intensive program schedule comes the news that former KFOG-FM, San Francisco morning host Peter Finch is the new 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm news anchor and Doug McIntyre’s “Red Eye Radio” is in for the 12:00 midnight to 4:00 am slot. McIntyre’s show is a Cumulus Media Networks production and costs the station nothing – in fact, it gives the company a nice San Francisco affiliate.
Kevin Straley Joins TuneIn as VP of Programming. The former XM Satellite Radio and WRKO, Boston programmer becomes vice president of programming for the free service that allows users to listen to music, sports and news from around the world. Kevin Straley – who most recently was founder and president of KMS Media Partners – will work with audio content distributors to optimize their digital strategies. TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “We’re thrilled to welcome Kevin Straley to the TuneIn executive team. His track record of building strategic relationships and working with audio partners in innovative ways will help us take the company to the next level.” TuneIn describes itself as a service that “offers over 50,000 AM, FM, HD and internet radio stations and more than one million on-demand shows and programs streaming from every continent. The company’s mobile applications are highly ranked worldwide. TuneIn is available in 10 languages across all major smart phones and tablets, connected home stereos, smart TVs, connected automobiles and online at tunein.com. Straley says, “Now, more than ever, audio content creators are looking for complimentary platforms to deliver their content to the growing audience that embraces digital…TuneIn is a powerful way to drive new listening and new opportunities for everyone.”
New Host for KLAC’s “Dodger Talk” Program Expected. The Los Angeles Daily News reports Josh Suchon and Joe Block will not be retained to host the “Dodger Talk” post-game show as the Dodgers transition to Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles this season. The Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth reports former big league manager Kevin Kennedy is likely to be the new host of the show for the 2012 season. Kennedy is a Fox Sports baseball analyst.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Launches “Holiday Giving Campaign.” The 60-year-old foundation that provides aid to broadcasters and their families in need, is kicking off its “Holiday Giving Campaign” encouraging donations and memberships at this time of year. BFoA chairman Phil Lombardo says, “The sole purpose of the Broadcasters Foundation is to provide financial relief to broadcasters in need. Through the generous support of individuals and corporations in our industry, we can maintain the ability to help colleagues whose lives have been devastated by unthinkable circumstances. I ask every broadcaster to consider making a donation or becoming a member.” This year the foundation will grant more than $675,000 in assistance – an increase of 35% over last year with more requests arriving daily. Current recipients include the family of a 20-year broadcast veteran who died of a sudden massive stroke, leaving two children and a wife who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis; an elderly couple who have outlived their savings and are saddled with enormous medical costs; and a man who in the prime of his life and at the peak of his career became paralyzed by a tragic accident that has left him confined to a wheel chair. To make a donation, please visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org, or call 212-373-8250.
Courtside Entertainment Delivers Blockbuster O’ Reilly Special. Bill O’Reilly’s “National Radio Election Town Hall” scored big Monday night on 169 top talk stations including WOR, New York; WPHT, Philadelphia; KLIF, Dallas; WTKK-FM, Boston; and WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta. This marked the first radio special from Norm Pattiz’s Courtside Entertainment Group in the post-Westwood One era. The program featured O’Reilly’s live interviews with all of the major Republican presidential candidates, listener calls and a straw poll taken during the program. The results showed #1 Herman Cain, #2 Newt Gingrich, #3 Mitt Romney, all tightly bunched at the top. Courtside managing partner Norm Pattiz tells TALKERS, “It’s great to kick off our programming boutique with Bill O’Reilly doing a show of this caliber. I’m also happy to be working with the folks at Dial Global who distributed the show.” Courtside also owns and produces “Loveline” and is launching the “One Minute Clinic” with Dr. Drew Pinsky, which is already airing in New York and Chicago. Norm Pattiz’s special address at the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum was a huge hit as radio professionals remain fascinated by his colorful history and extraordinary contributions to the business model of modern syndication. In the words of TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “Few people have shaped the radio business in the past 35 years like Norm Pattiz. Even though he has stated that Courtside Entertainment is not designed to be another Westwood One – but simply a vehicle with which he can remain involved in radio and dabble in projects of special interest to him – we should all pay close attention to this latest endeavor of the master. If this O’ Reilly project is indicative of things to come, we can expect Courtside Entertainment to be an influential force for positive industry growth and innovation.”
Dial Global and CBS News Renew “The Osgood File” Deal. Dial Global and CBS News agree to an extension of their deal to distribute Charles Osgood’s “The Osgood File” to radio stations across the country. The feature is heard four times daily on some 350 stations including in all of the top 25 markets. Dial Global co-CEOs Spencer Brown, David Landau and Ken Williams comment, “Charles Osgood is a true media icon and it is our privilege to deliver his legendary voice to millions of radio listeners each day. More than a valuable asset to Dial Global’s advertisers and affiliates, Charles Osgood is an asset to American journalism and we are proud to continue our partnership.”
KLAC, Los Angeles Honors American Service Personnel with Radio-thon. AM570 Fox Sports Los Angeles (KLAC) is broadcasting its fourth annual commercial-free radio-thon and online auction to benefit the Paralyzed Veterans of America in honor of Veteran’s Day on Friday. The broadcast takes place today (11/9) from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm PT on the station and special guests will include NFL great Eric Dickerson, Dodgers first baseman James Loney, Lakers guard Shannon Brown and NBA Hall-of-Famer James Worthy. The station’s goal is to raise $120,000 for the PVA. KLAC general manager Don Martin states, “This is a chance to give back to our family members, friends, neighbors and fellow Americans who have become paralyzed while fighting for our freedoms. This is our way of giving thanks for their ultimate sacrifice.”
Cumulus Providence Stations Host Fundraising Luncheon for Female Veterans Facility. News/talk WPRO & 99.7 FM in Providence (along with its sister music FMs) is hosting the inaugural Women’s Warrior Luncheon on Veterans Day on Friday to raise funds for the operation of the Holly Charette House. Marine Lance Corporal Holly Charette was killed in action at age 21 while serving in Anbar province, Iraq. She was the seventh Rhode Islander and the first Rhode Island woman to give her life in duty to her country in Iraq. She was nicknamed “The Marine Who Brings Good News” for her cheery, positive spirit and military occupation as a mail carrier. She had been assigned to checkpoints in Fallujah where she and a group of fellow Marines were struck by a suicide bomber on June 23, 2005 while returning to their base. The Holly Charette House, located in Johnston, Rhode Island, was named in her memory and is a home that provides transitional housing for in-need female veterans. WPRO program director Paul Giammarco says, “The Holly Charette House will forever be a reminder of our need to honor our returning woman heroines, and that freedom isn’t free. WPRO is incredibly proud and humbled to be associated with such a worthy and noble event and we look forward to supporting the Holly Charette House and this event for years to come.”
Penn State Abuse Scandal, Euro Zone Stability/Berlusconi Resigns, Herman Cain Assault Accusations and Obama-Sarkozy Live Mic Incident Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/8). The explosion of accusations of sexual abuse of young boys by a former Penn State football coach, the Euro Zone economic stability and the resignation of Italy’s Berlusconi, Herman Cain’s campaign and the sexual assault accusations against him plus Obama’s and Sarkozy’s griping about Netanyahu while unknowingly on live mics were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Sedano Sandwich. That’s WAXY, Miami morning drive host Jorge Sedano squished between pro wrestling legends Shawn Michaels (l) and Triple H (r). The duo were in Miami at WAXY promoting the coming “Wrestlemania 28″ which will be broadcast from Miami in April of 2012.
Program Host Amy Goodman and Staff Settle in 2008 RNC Arrest Case. Amy Goodman hosts the New York-based radio and TV program “Democracy Now” and it was in that capacity that she and her crew were covering the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota when violent protests broke out. While filming the action, her crew was arrested by police insisting they were part of the disturbance. Goodman was also arrested when she came to their defense. Goodman and crew sued the City of St. Paul and the U.S. Secret Service with the assistance of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The settlement includes $100,000 and the promise of police training.
It’s Official: Dodgers Move to KLAC, Los Angeles. After four seasons at Cumulus Media’s KABC, Los Angeles, Clear Channel’s KLAC will be the flagship station for Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play for at least the next three seasons. In a joint statement from the team and Clear Channel Los Angeles, market manager Greg Ashlock says, “The Dodgers are synonymous with Los Angeles. The team has the ability to connect people regardless of age, gender or race. Our Clear Channel stations have multi-demo and multi-cultural appeal that nicely complements the Dodgers brand and will provide unique marketing opportunities. We’re also humbled to have Vin Scully, the greatest play-by-play announcer – period, lead our broadcast team.”
Cumulus Promotes Matt Spaulding to VP/Market Manager for Ann Arbor Cluster. General sales manager at the cluster since 2009, Matt Spaulding is promoted to VP/ market manager by regional vice president Cumulus Midwest Scott Meier who states, “Matt has absolutely earned this ‘battlefield promotion’! He’s embraced the Cumulus Sales Operating System and developed a solid organization operating at double digit growth.” Cumulus Media operates two music FMs and news/talk WTKA and progressive talk WLBY in the Ann Arbor market.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises More than $150,000 at Celebrity Golf Tournament. The BFoA’s Celebrity Golf Tournament 2011 pulled in more than $150,000 from the event held September 26 at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Tarrytown, New York. Broadcasters and celebrities taking part included: actor Michael J. Fox; Fox Business Network and USRN personality Lou Dobbs; WOR, New York host John Gambling; ABC and ESPN sports broadcaster Sean McDonough; MSG and ABC play-by-play announcer Mike Breen; actress and “Bond” girl Rachel Grant; NHL All-Stars Rod Gilbert, Brian Leetch and Bob Nystrom; ESPN Radio’s Stephen A. Smith and CJ Papa; Super Bowl winner Amani Toomer; CBS-TV’s Maurice Dubois, Don Dahler and Dr. Max Gomez; ESPN SportsCenter hosts John Anderson and Jay Harris; WNYW-TV, New York’s Duke Castiglione; WNBC-TV, New York’s Bruce Beck; actor Gianni Russo; and more. The foundation expects to grant $600,000 in aid this year – an increase of more than 20% over last year and BFoA president Jim Thompson says, “The Celebrity Golf Fundraiser makes it possible for the Foundation to continue its mission of helping broadcasters in need. Our thanks to Greater Media president and CEO Peter Smyth and Katz Television Group president Jim Beloyianis who served as this year’s co-chairs and helped us present a successful event that provided attendees with an opportunity to give back to broadcasters who have nowhere else to turn.”
TRNS Bureau Chief Ellen Ratner Saves Young Blind South Sudanese Boy. In a remarkable display of the power of talk radio when focused on humanitarian projects, a young Christian South Sudan boy, Ker Deng will be shedding light on the horror befalling his homeland and people before a Congressional Committee today. This comes as the result of tireless work on the part of Christian Solidarity International (CSI) and the Washington, DC-based news agency Talk Radio News Service (TRNS) whose years of missions to the region bringing talk show hosts and relief have resulted in the feeding of starving people, the freeing of slaves and the reporting of news mostly ignored by the mainstream press. Ker Deng was just a toddler when Arab slave traders took him and his mother from their village in South Sudan. After burning Ker’s village and stealing everything of value, the raiders massacred most of the men. Ker and his mother were tied to a camel and dragged to a life in captivity. He grew up eating the same grains that his slave master fed his horses. One day, as punishment for letting a goat escape, Ker was hung upside-down from a tree as his master rubbed chili peppers into his eyes. When he was finally cut down, his eyes were so badly damaged that he slowly went blind. After being freed by CSI, Ker is now in the United States at the Wills Eye Institute, where he recently underwent cornea surgery (he’s seen being prepared for surgery in the photo here) that will hopefully restore the sight he lost while tortured at the hands of his captors. Ker is learning English and has started piano lessons at Lighthouse Music School. Ker will share his remarkable story today at 2200 Rayburn House Office Building at a press conference and during a hearing at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. His mother – along with thousands of other slaves from South Sudan – remains in bondage. Ker, through his interpreter, will tell his story. Ker was brought to the U.S. thanks to CSI CEO John Eibner and Ellen Ratner, the White House correspondent and bureau chief for TRNS and a news analyst on the Fox News Channel (as well as Washington editor for TALKERS). Ratner has traveled multiple times to South Sudan since 2008, just returning on Saturday from another mission.
2012 GOP Candidates, ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ Knox Conviction Overturned and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/3). The Republicans vying for the nomination to face President Obama in 2012, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest movement, the overturning of American Amanda Knox’s murder conviction in Italy and the volatile financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
TRN’s Rusty Humphries Shoots Role in “Flicka” Movie. Talk Radio Network personality Rusty Humphries has been spending time in Canada recently on the set of a remake of the classic horse film, “Flicka.” Humphries plays the role of an announcer at a critical horse show in the film. The film stars actor and country music star Clint Black and his wife Lisa Hartman Black. Speaking about his on-set experience, Humphries says, “I am very excited to be shooting ‘Flicka 3’ on location in Canada this week with director Michael Damian, the star of ‘The Young and The Restless’ and songwriter of the hit ‘Rock On’. The shoot went great and Michael Damian could not be nicer. He’s a really good director too.” Humphries is seen here (l) on the set with Damian (r).