Report: iHeartMedia Considering Securities Sale to Retire Debt Due in 2019. According to a report from Bloomberg News, iHeartMedia is looking at a plan to offer up for sale securities in one of its units to help retire some $1.4 billion in bonds. The report states that the company would create a subsidiary called Broader Media LLC. Existing debtholders would be offered the opportunity to exchange for the new obligations. According to Bloomberg, $8.3 billion in debt is coming due in 2019 for iHeartMedia. “iHeart’s plan would erase $192.9 million of 5.5 % unsecured notes due December 2016 that are already considered current,” a source told Bloomberg. “The proposal is also intended to retire the company’s $190 million revolving loan due December 2017, the $850 million of 10% unsecured notes due January 2018 and the $175 million of 6.875% unsecured notes due June 2018.” Read the Bloomberg piece here.
Greater Media Promotes Buzz Knight to SVP of Program Development. Fourteen-year Greater Media staffer Buzz Knight is promoted to SVP of program development for the company. Knight’s new duties include responsibility for “overseeing programming development for all of Greater Media’s radio properties and collaborating with the individual stations to build winning content, digital and brand management strategies.” Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth comments, “Buzz has done an outstanding job overseeing our programming brands across the company over the past 14 years. His insight and leadership plays an important role in the continued success of our company.”
Iowa Caucuses Aftermath/Presidential Race, Battle Against Islamic State, $1.7 Billion Iran Payment Controversy, Zika Virus Concerns, Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Case, Ken Stabler CTE Issue, and Run-Up to Super Bowl 50 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/3). The aftermath of the Iowa Caucuses, the focus on the New Hampshire Primary and the activities of the candidates for president; the U.S. military policy on defeating Islamic State; the controversy over the United States’ $1.7 billion payment to Iran as part of the nuclear agreement; fears about a potential pandemic of the Zika virus; the status of the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby; the results of the post-mortem on NFL great Ken Stabler and its effect on football’s CTE problem; and the week’s activities leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
MIW: Women Gaining in GM and SM Roles; Stagnating in Programming Management. According to data from the most recent Gender Analysis Study from the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group (culled from data from M Street Publications), since 2004 the number of women serving in general manager positions has risen from 14.9% to 17.3% in 2015. However, a tally of women in program management positions shows a negligible increase of 10.9% in 2015 compared to 10.7% in 2004. MIW spokeswoman Kay Olin states, “Tracking the leadership roles of women in media brings awareness to the continued need to reach back and lift up. There is an incredible talent pool of strong and capable female leaders and they stand ready to make a difference. It is the responsibility of all of us in the media industry to make sure that we are conscientiously and consistently practicing inclusion.”
Odds & Sods. After just a year hosting afternoon drive at iHeartMedia’s news/talk simulcast KALZ-FM/KRZR-AM, Fresno “PowerTalk 96.7 and AM 1400,” Christopher Gabriel exits the station. On his Facebook page, Gabriel states, “Hey folks, here’s a little news: PowerTalk 96.7 and I have parted ways as of this morning. I want to thank them for the opportunity to come to Fresno, work with a ton of talented radio artists and have some fun California adventures. So… what’s next? I guess we’ll see!”…..Former NBA star Dennis Rodman will appear as a special guest at WIP, Philadelphia’s “Wing Bowl 24” tomorrow (2/5) at the Wells Fargo Center. The competitive eating event is pitting last year’s champion, Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, former champ Molly Schuyler, and the infamous LA Beast, against the field of local eaters. Philadelphia Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos will act as the commissioner of Wing Bowl 24. Local rock legend Tommy Conwell will perform the National Anthem. Rodman will also be appearing at the WIP/SugarHouse Casino official after party of Wing Bowl 24. WIP’s Michael Barkann and Ike Reese will broadcast from SugarHouse Casino from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and the casino will feature food and drink specials all day long.
National Signing Day Remote for WQAM, Miami. Remote broadcasts can present any number of technical and/or programming challenges, but the afternoon drive air staff at CBS RADIO’s sports talk WQAM, Miami was able to put on a brave face and forge ahead as it broadcast on Wednesday (2/3) at a local Twin Peaks restaurant. The “Hochman, Crowder, and Krantz” show broadcast live for National Signing Day – the day when top high school athletes announce which college they’re going to attend. Surrounded by the hard-working service staff at Twin Peaks are (from l-r): Channing Crowder, Zach Krantz, and Marc Hochman.
Former Talk Host Benjamin Dover Dead at 57. Former Texas talk show host Benjamin Dover died back on January 1 after complications from pneumonia, according to an obituary published in the Dallas Morning News. Dover was born Lance Blumen. As his obit states, he got into the consumer advocacy business after a near-fatal motorcycle accident in 1989. He not only hosted a radio program on such signals as KLIF and KRLD-AM in Dallas and KFI, Los Angeles, he was a columnist for the Dallas Morning News from 1998 through 2004.
Cumulus Shuffles Talent at WBAP and KLIF in Dallas; Rick Roberts Debuts Show on WBAP. The new program schedule at Cumulus Media’s news talkers WBAP “News/Talk 820AM” and KLIF “News & Information 570AM” launches today. Westwood One-syndicated “Savage Nation” moves from afternoons on WBAP to the same 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm slot on sister KLIF. That move bumps Grant Stinchfield’s “Stinchfield Report” to the 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm slot on KLIF. Meanwhile, at WBAP, Rick Roberts assumes hosting duties for the 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm daypart. Roberts was most recently with iHeartMedia at KTOK, Oklahoma City. During the 1990s, Roberts served on air at crosstown KRLD. Other changes at KLIF include Premiere Network’s Glenn Beck show starting an hour earlier at 8:00 am, the return of the Laura Ingraham show at 11:00 am plus the addition of Premiere’s “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory airing from 12:00 midnight to 5:00 am.
iHeartMedia Denver Promotes Ross Kaminsky to KHOW Mornings. A financial markets expert by trade, Ross Kaminsky had been hosting a weekend program at iHeartMedia’s KOA, Denver for the past several years. Effective today, Kaminsky assumed the morning drive duties at sister talker KHOW, taking over for Mandy Connell who is now the midday personality on KOA. She just took over market legend Mike Rosen’s show. Kaminsky spoke to Denver’s alt-weekly Westword, in which he says, “I’ve greatly benefited every step in my short radio career so far from people willing to give me a chance, and put me on the air, even when they didn’t have great reason to know what I could do. I’m appreciative to all those people, and I still remember who every one of them is.”
CES 2016 Gets Underway in Las Vegas. Radio consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas reporting for TALKERS from the enormous Consumer Electronics Show 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This morning he writes: Even this place can barely handle the crowd. Last year, CES strained ‘Vegas hotel capacity and bent the airline ticket cost curve. “This is the biggest thing here all year,” a cabbie grinned. So this year they capped attendance at last year’s 176,000 of us. And they even changed their name! What was “The Consumer Electronics Association” is now “The Consumer Technology Association,” because there’s more to tech than gadgets. The world’s biggest retailer doesn’t own a single store: Amazon dot com. Google and Uber are verbs, not gadgets. Uber – which now equals “car” to a growing worldwide customer base – has a bigger market cap than General Motors. The world’s biggest taxi fleet doesn’t own any cars…it’s a social network. The physical layout here — in the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center and other Exhibit Hall locations along The Strip — demonstrates where technology and we are taking each other:
- There’s 40% more floor space than last year for health & wellness exhibitors. Hey, we’re getting older.
- 80% more space than last year for virtual reality;
- 25% more acreage for Automotive: Nine auto makers and over 100 auto tech companies are here;
- Also bigger than ever: 3D printing.
- And three times the exhibit space for…you guessed it: drones.
More than 2,200 companies’ products are on-display. 80% of them are small businesses, many of ‘em start-ups that presidential candidates call “the risk-takers.” Many of THEM are lining-up for ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank,” which is doing open auditions here. Tech is big business, $285 billion this year in the USA alone, and I’ll tell you all about it all this week, here; and on “America in the Morning,” the Jim Bohannon show and Doug Stephan’s “Good Day” and my client stations. Follow my real-time Tweets from CES @HollandCooke.
Rosenberg Out at WMEN, Ft. Lauderdale. Longtime New York broadcaster and morning host at sports talk WMEN, Ft. Lauderdale since 2012 Sid Rosenberg has been let go from the station. The move took place over the holidays and Palm Beach Broadcasters has replaced him in the morning drive daypart with FOX Sport Radio’s “Daybreak with Andy Furman and Mike North.” Rosenberg worked for years on the “Imus in the Morning” program.
Odds & Sods. The FM simulcast of Federated Media’s news/talk WOWO-AM, Fort Wayne, Indiana changes from WFWI-FM at 92.3 (until recently using the calls WOWO-FM) to the translator W298BJ at 107.5. Federated has launched a classic hits format on WFWI. The new classic hits format features Mike Ragozino as morning drive personality. He’d been serving as afternoon personality and program director at Alpha Media’s sports talk KXTG-AM, Portland…..Entercom announces that after a three-month national search, the company has named Tim Neverett as the new play-by-play host for Boston Red Sox radio broadcasts on the WEEI Sports Radio Network. Neverett will work with color man Joe Castiglione, who’s been part of the broadcast team since 1983. Neverett – a New Hampshire native who attended Boston’s Emerson College (and lettered in baseball for four seasons) – beat out some 200 other applicants for the plum gig…..A lack of enough revenue to keep the show going is what management at news/talk KFQD, Anchorage is citing for the end of the “Bernadette Live” program hosted by Bernadette Wilson. Station manager Joe Campbell tells the Alaska Dispatch News that the 8:30 am to 11:00 am show was not generating enough revenue to continue in 2016.
Michael Harrison Rings in 2016 – Discusses Scams and Cyber Fraud with Steve Weisman. It’s a brave new world out there and the internet is rewiring our human nervous systems, let alone giving criminals around the world powerful and insidious new tools to steal from unwitting victims. On the latest installment of the Podcast One hit series “Up Close and Far Out,” Michael Harrison talks with famous attorney and professor Steve Weisman about the latest hi-tech, low-tech, and even no-tech scams being cooked up for us in 2016. To listen to it in its entirety, please click here or click the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand columns of every page on Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
Saudi Executions/Iran Diplomatic Ties Severed, Oregon Standoff, New Year’s Holiday, and NFL Playoff Push Among Weekend Talk Topics. The recent execution of 47 in Saudi Arabia – including a Shiite cleric – and the diplomatic problems the move has created; the standoff between armed protesters at an Oregon wildlife refuge; the New Year’s holiday; and the final weekend of NFL games before the playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Major Market Swapping Among Entercom, LFM, Bonneville. Official settlement has been reached between Entercom Communications and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding Entercom’s acquisition of Lincoln Financial Media. The proposed transaction involving LFM properties in three markets was announced last December. Another player entered the mix, and as part of the DOJ resolution, Entercom gains entry into the second-largest market by exchanging four Denver stations with Bonneville. Somewhat resembling an MLB mega-swap conducted prior to baseball’s July 31 trading deadline, Entercom is cutting ties with adult contemporary KOSI “Continuous Lite Rock,” KYGO “#1 For New Country,” KKFN “Sports Radio – The Fan,” and sports KEPN “The Zone” in exchange for Bonneville Los Angeles classic rocker KSWD “The Sound” and $5 million in additional consideration. After the dust settles, Entercom will have facilities in four (new for them) top 20 markets – Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, and San Diego. Leading their respective stations there – and all having the Entercom title of vice president and general manager are: Peter Burton (Los Angeles); Mike Fowler (Atlanta); Doug Abernethy (Miami); and Bob Bollinger (San Diego). Amy Griesheimer remains in place as vice president and general manager of Entercom Denver; she has been with the company since 2002. Entercom president and chief executive officer David Field comments, “We are delighted to be moving forward on our long-delayed acquisition of Lincoln Financial Media and adding their terrific brands, markets, and people to our organization. We are also very excited to be acquiring ‘The Sound,’ the fastest growing radio station in Los Angeles, through our station exchange with Bonneville. Adding Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, and San Diego to our footprint will meaningfully enhance our ability to serve our listeners, customers, employees, and shareholders. This is a great day for Entercom that will enhance our competitive position and bolster our growth potential well into the future.” According to Entercom chief operating officer Weezie Kramer, “Lincoln Financial Media, Bonneville, and their teams have built world-class brands. We are excited about the opportunities to continue to grow these stations and to provide our listeners and customers with the best compelling local content and dynamic, integrated marketing solutions. I am excited to welcome Doug, Bob, Mike, and Peter to Entercom. They are great leaders and managers with a proven track record of success. As we enter these vibrant markets, we are thrilled to have such talented and experienced media veterans at the helm. Amy has been a tremendous leader for Entercom Denver. We know her experience, leadership, and vision will continue to drive ratings, revenue, and audience engagement for our stations [there].” Meanwhile, Bonneville president Darrell Brown remarks, “Denver is a vibrant, growing area where we see great opportunity. The stations we are acquiring are legacy brands and provide a powerful cluster in this market. They align well with our existing portfolio, allowing us to expand our regional footprint. Bonneville’s core mission is building and lifting the communities where we own broadcast properties. We have a commitment to provide quality sports, news, and entertainment products and we are thrilled to serve the Denver market.” After spending seven years as director of sales for Lincoln Financial San Diego, New York native Burton joined Bonneville seven years ago. Entercom Los Angeles will consist of KSWD “The Sound,” which in 12 of the last 13 Nielsen Audio PPM ratings periods, has been in the 3.0 – 3.9 range. In the most recent sweep (June 2015), it ranks sixth (3.7, 6+); “The Sound” registered a 3.9 in March, April, and May. Fowler most recently was director of sales for ESPN Chicago. The LFM cluster that Entercom is acquiring in Atlanta is comprised of hot AC WSTR “Star 94,” which has back-to-back increases (3.0 – 3.2 – 3.8, April-May-June, 6+) to finish #11, and WQXI “ESPN 790 The Zone” (.2, 6+). Abernethy joined Entercom three months ago, following ten years as a Radio One regional vice president. Among the three Miami stations Entercom is picking up from LFM is adult contemporary WLYF “Lite-FM,” which – in May – finally unseated Cox Media Group urban AC WHQT at #1. With consecutive up-trends (6.8 – 7.1 – 7.3, April-May-June, 6+), “Lite” remains at #1. The other two Miami stations Entercom is acquiring are classic hits-oldies WMXJ “Magic 102.7” (4.4, #7, 6+, June 2015) and sports WAXY “The Ticket” (1.9, #20). It was just last week that Bolinger exited CBS Radio San Diego as senior vice president and market manager. As is the case in Miami involving adult contemporary WLYF, Entercom is getting a #1 station (6+) in San Diego with adult contemporary KIFM “Easy 98.1” (5.5, #1, 6+, June 2015). In addition to “Easy,” the San Diego cluster-mates Bolinger will oversee are KSON “New Country” (4.5, #6) and alternative KBZT “It’s About the Music” (2.6, #16). June 2015 (6+) ratings performances for the properties leaving Entercom and joining Bonneville are 5.3, #4 (fourth successive up trend) for KYGO; 4.7, #6 for KOSI; and 2.0, #19 for KKFN; KEPN does not appear in the June sweep. Stations remaining under the Entercom Denver banner are June 2015 pacesetter classic rock KQMT “The Mountain” (6.6, #1, 6+); hot AC KALC “Alice” (4.0, #9); and adult standards KEZW “Studio 1430 – Timeless Music” (.5, #28). They will be joined by Lincoln Financial Media additions rhythmic CHR KQKS “KS-107.5” (3.5, #12, 6+, June 2015); KYGO-HD2 “Comedy 103.1” (#18, trending 1.7 – 1.8, 1.9 – 3.0, 6+); and KRWZ “Cruisin’ Oldies – AM 950” (1.5, #23). Purchase price for Entercom’s Lincoln Financial Media acquisition is $105 million. Approximately three-quarters of it – $77.5 million – is in cash and the remaining $27.5 million in “Series A” perpetual convertible preferred stock held by Lincoln Financial Group. Time Brokerage Agreements will enable Bonneville and Entercom to operate the swapped properties immediately upon closing of the Lincoln Financial Media acquisition. It is anticipated that closing of the Lincoln Financial Media acquisition and beginning of the Bonneville-Entercom TBAs will occur within several business days. Entercom expects the Bonneville transaction will be finalized by fourth quarter.
Connoisseur Media Bought by Management and Petrus Holding Company. Westport, Connecticut-based Connoisseur Media has been bought in a joint effort by the company’s management and Petrus Holding Company, LP, a Perot Company. In a statement issued today, Petrus says existing management team will continue to operate the stations, with Petrus as their financial partner. Connoisseur Media operates 42 radio stations and digital assets in 12 markets across the U.S. Connoisseur CEO Jeffrey Warshaw states, “We are very excited to partner with The Perot Companies to continue our focused and disciplined growth strategy. It is important for us to have a partner who shares our values and supports our long-term growth strategy.” Perot Companies chairman Ross Perot, Jr. says, “The Perot Companies and Connoisseur share common values, an entrepreneurial culture and a long-term approach to operating and building world-class companies. Our investment will allow Connoisseur to continue investing in its people while ensuring it can remain prudently financed, locally focused and innovative.”
Premiere Networks Names Meghan McCain Host of ‘America Now.’ A new, young host has been named for Premiere Networks’ nationally syndicated radio talk show “America Now.” Media personality and author Meghan McCain takes over the role of permanent host of the show that first featured Andy Dean as host. He left the program in July of 2014 to focus on his ConnectPal digital platform. (San Antonio-based personality Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo has been hosting the show on an interim basis.) Premiere says the show will continue to be based in Los Angeles and air live from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. McCain comments, “I can’t wait to engage listeners across the country as we shine a spotlight on the stories and issues that affect us all. Creating a dialogue to inform, inspire and entertain people is what’s always driven me, and hosting ‘America Now’ is an exciting opportunity to help drive the national conversation. I’m excited to be joining a network with such an amazing lineup of hosts.” Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott states, “Meghan is smart, enthusiastic and outspoken, and we’re excited to have her join our roster of industry-leading programs reaching diverse audiences across America. As talk radio continues to connect with and engage millions of people across multiple platforms, we’re confident Meghan’s unique perspective and experience in politics will resonate with America Now’s national audience and create powerful marketing opportunities for our partners.”
Ross Promoted to News Director at WBAP and KLIF in Dallas. Moving up from her assistant news director position at Cumulus Media’s WBAP and KLIF in Dallas, Freda Ross is the new news director for the stations. Ross has been with WBAP since 1994 and added KLIF duties after Cumulus acquired the station. She is heard daily on KLIF as midday news anchor. Operations and program manager Tyler Cox says, “Freda has earned the respect of her colleagues and is a long-standing, influential leader in the WBAP/KLIF news department. She was the natural choice for this promotion to news director.” Ross comments, “I’m excited to take on the responsibilities of being news director for WBAP and KLIF. Both are well-respected heritage stations that have served the DFW community for decades. I look forward to the opportunity to continue bringing honest, thought-provoking news coverage to our listeners.”
Cox Media Group Makes ‘Major Senior Leadership Changes.’ These executive moves affect the National Ad Platforms, radio and digital businesses of Cox Media Group. They include: Kim Guthrie being named EVP of National Ad Platforms and president of CoxReps, the country’s largest television advertising rep firm based in New York City; Bill Hendrich takes over for Guthrie as EVP of radio and CMG research, based in Atlanta; and Marian Pittman becomes the company’s EVP of digital strategy and will oversee digital’s content and sales from her base in Atlanta. Guthrie’s assumption of the CoxReps presidency comes as Jim Monahan retires from the company after 35 years. The company says new radio EVP Bill Hendrich joined CMG Radio in 1996 in Orlando and has led countless award-winning teams that have produced outstanding creative content for CMG’s radio audiences, quantifiable sales results for customers, and internal and external customer service satisfaction for CMG’s employees and clients. The company’s Orlando VP/GM Susan Larkin is promoted to regional VP of Jacksonville and Orlando Radio. Finally, Pittman makes her move after serving with the company as VP of news and marketing for television.
Jake Gyllenhaal Visits NBC Sports Radio’s Amani Toomer and Dan Schwartzman. The two co-host “Going Deep with Amani & Dan” from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET on the NBC Sports Radio Network and recently hosted actor Jake Gyllenhaal in the studio about his new movie, Southpaw. The film is the story of a boxer who fights his way to the top only to find his life falling apart around him and features Rachel McAdams and Forest Whitaker. Pictured here (from l-r) are: Schwartzman, Gyllenhaal, and Toomer.
Obama Strikes Nukes Deal with Iran, Prison Escape of Mexican Drug Lord, 2016 Presidential Candidates, Bill Cosby Rape Allegations, Illegal Immigration Policy-Kate Steinle Death, Greek Debt Issue, Caitlyn Jenner ESPYs Appearance, the MLB All-Star game, and NASA’s Pluto Mission Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/14). The West’s deal with Iran to end economic sanctions on the nation and allow its nuclear program to proceed; the controversial “escape” from prison of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman; the activities of the candidates for president in 2016; the renewed chatter about allegations Bill Cosby drugged and raped women; the controversy over the U.S.’s illegal immigration policy, the sanctuary cities, and the death of Kate Steinle; the Greek debt solution and its effect on world financial markets; Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance on the ESPYs tonight and her receiving the Arthur Ashe Award; the MLB All-Star game; and NASA’s New Horizons flies by Pluto were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Blessed with an enduring ability to captivate a broad base demographic with droll, clever, sometimes-corny witticisms/puns that much sooner rather than later made you laugh, Gary Owens is being fondly remembered by those whose lives he touched by his character and one-of-a-kind classiness.
Even at the zenith of his popularity, Owens had an unrivaled flair to make anyone and everyone with whom he came in contact feel as though he or she were a genuinely important friend of his.
Dignity with which Owens carried himself make those having the privilege to work behind a microphone exude intense pride in saying they are in the same profession.
By Kevin Casey
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It’s understood by anyone in the radio business that the big news stories of the day – whether they are local or national stories – generate the topics that drive the conversation on news/talk radio. But what are the roles of the newsroom, the reporter and the regular newscasts on today’s news/talk stations? The move of all-news to FM signals, the development of more national and regional radio news products and the addition of newswheel programs to some of the country’s most respected talk stations seem to indicate radio news has received a shot in the arm. But the decimation of many radio news departments that occurred in conjunction with consolidation still affects many radio operations and raises questions about the relevance of news elements to the successful operation of the modern news/talk station.
Cumulus Dallas Goes into Storm Coverage Mode as Twisters Hit Metro Area. The Dallas cluster of Cumulus Media reacted swiftly to the severe storms and tornadoes that hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area yesterday, led by news/talk sister stations WBAP and KLIF. Operations manager Tyler Cox tells TALKERS that the stations had a great opportunity to super-serve the community. “WBAP (820 AM/96.7 FM) and KLIF (570AM) began simulcasting continuous coverage. Shortly after that, the remaining stations in the Cumulus cluster (sports KTCK 1310 AM, KSCS-FM, KPLX-FM and KLIF-FM) joined with us to create a six-station simulcast reaching countless numbers of listeners with life-saving information.” Cox says all six went into non-stop, commercial-free weather coverage with the news/talk stations’ reporters and listeners providing on-the-scene information all across North Texas. Preliminary reports indicate no fewer than 12 tornadoes formed in the region and, although there is widespread destruction, there are no fatalities confirmed at this time.
KFI, Los Angeles Adds New Weekend Shows; Adds Diversity to Lineup. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles is adding a two-hour early evening program on Saturdays hosted by Morris O’Kelly, the producer and co-host of sister progressive talk station KTLK’s “Diverse L.A.” Also, KTLK PM drive host David Cruz will host a Sunday early evening program on KFI. In a statement, Clear Channel says the purpose of the new shows is to “discuss, dissect and investigate the important, often controversial issues of the day through the eyes of an eclectic collection of Southern California residents, urbanites and suburbanites, young and old, across race, gender and the political spectrum.” Morris O’Kelly states, “I’ve wanted to do a show like this for a long time – to dig into what Southern Californians think and why. Opinions are as diverse as the population and I think we’re going to shed light on issues that really matter.”
Erica Farber Replaces Jeff Haley as President and CEO of the RAB. The board of directors of the Radio Advertising Bureau announces Erica Farber, who joined the RAB in late 2011, will replace Jeff Haley as president and CEO of the organization as Haley exits to pursue a new opportunity. RAB board chairman and EVP Scott Herman says of the move, “Erica is an excellent selection with the relevant skills and expertise to lead the RAB. She brings an impressive track record in radio sales and management. In addition, Erica has a clear understanding of the organization and what the broadcast industry requires from the RAB. She has demonstrated a strong capacity of working with multiple constituencies which is critical to the RAB role. We thank Jeff for his guidance and leadership the past five years in helping to shape an organization that fits the radio and media landscape today. He’s left an indelible imprint on the industry and we thank him for his service and commitment.”
Budget Mandate Forces WBSM, New Bedford to Release Talk Host Ken Pittman. Local officials are decrying Cumulus Media’s decision to eliminate Ken Pittman’s local afternoon drive talk show on WBSM, New Bedford, Massachusetts. The New Bedford Standard-Times reports New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell even wrote to Cumulus COO John Dickey to express how area residents are upset with the loss of local programming. “The local programming available on WBSM, including local news, talk and sports coverage, is truly valued by the thousands of listeners the station draws from the New Bedford region,” he wrote. Meanwhile, station programming manager Pete Braley tells the paper local management made the cut reluctantly after being mandated by corporate to trim expenses and realizing that someone had to go. With Pittman out, mid-morning host Phil Paleologos will move to PM drive and do more news event coverage. The station brings Salem Radio Networks’ Mike Gallagher in for late mornings to cover Paleologos’ slot. That leaves the station with four hours of local programming: morning drive and a 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm program.
Management Change at Cumulus Washington, DC; Jeff Boden Exits. President and general manager Jeff Boden has left the building at Cumulus Media’s Washington, DC station group that includes news/talk WMAL-AM/FM. DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports Sam Rogers – former CBS Radio Washington cluster chief and Cumulus VP of political and platform sales – has taken over Boden’s role at the stations. Hughes reports that rumors have more cuts coming to the DC cluster in the near future, although it’s hard to predict which stations and what positions will be affected.
Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe Joins WNST, Baltimore. Nestor Aparicio-owned sports talk outlet WNST, Baltimore announces Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe becomes part of the late-morning show on the station alongside Paul Mittermeier and Greg Marsh. A release from the station states, “Yaffe’s crew will focus on all Baltimore sports with fun conversation, guests and lots of banter about the state of the local sporting universe including the Orioles, Ravens, Terps, and local lacrosse.” Yaffe had previously worked at CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talker WJZ-FM.
Bankruptcy Filing Leaves Broadcasters in Financial Lurch. The bankruptcy filing of tax resolution company TaxMasters is forcing a number of broadcasting companies – including CNN, Dial Global, Fox News Channel and others – to face the fact they will likely receive little if anything of what the company owes them. Forbes reports that Time Warner’s CNN is owed the largest amount for ads aired on the cable news channel: $2.6 million. Other broadcasters are also listed as unsecured creditors. News Corp’s Fox News Channel is out $938,414; Dial Global is owed $676,000; MSNBC stands to lose $259,441; and ESPN is out $94,265. TaxMasters and CEO Patrick Cox were hit with a $195 million verdict in Texas for violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Violations Act. It lists assets of just $1.7 million.
Bob Visotcky Takes VP Sales Position at Cumulus Los Angeles. Bob Visotcky moves over from his market manager post at Cumulus Media’s Oxnard-Ventura stations to the Los Angeles cluster where he’ll become vice president of sales representing news/talk KABC and classic rock KLOS-FM.
GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Race, Supreme Court-ObamaCare Issue, Ryan Budget, Twisters Hit Dallas, and Trayvon Martin Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/3). The ongoing GOP primary race and the greater 2012 presidential campaign, the charges President Obama is pressuring the Supreme Court in its judgment of the legality of the Patient Care and Affordability Act of 2010, Congressman Paul Ryan’s Republican House budget proposal, tornadoes sweep through the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the Trayvon Martin case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Jim Graci Named Program Director at KDKA, Pittsburgh. CBS Radio announces the new program director for its news/talk KDKA, Pittsburgh several months after it chose not to renew its contract with former PD Marshall Adams. Jim Graci – who previously programmed crosstown WEAE – comes north from Cumulus’ KLIF where he’s been serving as PD. Also at KDKA, longtime KDKA news staffer P.J. Kumanchik is promoted to news director at the station.
WAXY, Miami Announces Tod Castleberry Takes PD Role at Station. Program director and Dan LeBatard show executive producer and cast member Marc Hochman is probably almost as happy about this hire as Tod Castleberry is. Hochman’s been handling both roles and agreed with Lincoln Financial Media to continue in both until a successor for his PD position could be found. Hochman wants to put his total concentration on the Dan LeBatard show and now he can do that. Tod Castleberry has worked at Red Zebra’s sports WTEM, Washington and most recently has been working as partner and executive producer of the John Riggins internet show.
ABC News Radio to Produce Special Program Sparked by Trayvon Martin Death. The special one-hour broadcast will take place tomorrow night (3/28) at 7:00 pm ET and will be hosted by “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts. Titled, “Race and Justice: A National Conversation,” the show will focus on the national dialogue that’s been spurred by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. ABC News Radio says the show will feature “Robin Roberts leading a town hall discussion with prominent newsmakers and an audience of high school students and parents. The program will further the national discussion involving all racial and ethnic groups stirred by the circumstances of Trayvon Martin’s death.” The show is available to ABC News Radio affiliates.
TRN’s Michael Savage to Publish New Non-Fiction Book. Nationally syndicated talk sensation Michael Savage’s new book hits the bookstore shelves on April 3 – with major booksellers currently taking pre-orders. In Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America (Harper Collins 2012), Savage examines the state of the nation and especially how he believes the Obama Administration is on the wrong path. He writes, “Obama is actively creating a populace ever more slavishly dependent on the federal government.” Other topics include punishing success, “The president has openly declared war on those who have worked hard all their lives to achieve the American dream.” Savage discusses how we treat our enemies and allies, “He treats radical Islamists in the Middle East as friends, then stiffs Israel and our Western European allies.” He says that the military is used like pawns, “While Obama uses proud Navy SEALs for a publicity stunt, and the overall strength of the military has been decimated.” Other topics including the Southern border chaos and corporate cronyism are covered in a way that only Michael Savage could reveal. Savage is the author of 26 books including four New York Times bestsellers.
Arbitron and California Agree to Settlement in PPM Suit. The State of California and the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco are settling their suit against Arbitron for its practices regarding the Portable People Meter that the entities alleged underrepresented minorities and minority-targeted radio stations. Arbitron states, “As part of the settlement, Arbitron has agreed to continue a number of measures already an integral part of the company’s current PPM methodology and of its continuous improvement program for the Portable People Meter ratings services in all markets. These measures include the already completed transition to address-based sample frames, cell-phone-only sampling rates, reporting country of origin for Hispanic households and certain other sample performance and demographic information to subscribers by individual zip code, continuing efforts to maintain or achieve specific in-tab rates and Sample Performance Indicators, and continuing the company’s commitment to using all reasonable measures to achieve Media Rating Council accreditation for the data produced by the PPM ratings service in all California markets. These commitments are generally consistent with the company’s agreements with other states and are in force through December 31, 2014, or until MRC accreditation is granted, whichever comes first. The Company also agreed to pay a total of $400,000 in settlement of all claims and costs.” Arbitron states the settlement is not an admission of fault.
Dennis Miller Celebrates His 5th Anniversary Week with Special Guests. Dial Global talk show host Dennis Miller is celebrating his 5th anniversary hosting his nationally syndicated talk show this week and he’s scheduled some high-profile guests for the event. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney joins the show today (3/27). Other guests this week include: AMC’s “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, National Review editor Rich Lowry and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Thursday’s special anniversary show, good friend and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will join Miller. Also coming on the show that day will be actor/comedian David Spade, who’s currently on CBS’s “Rules of Engagement” and Adam Carolla, who’s on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Dial Global EVP of news and talk programming Bart Tessler states, “Dennis consistently brings together such an eclectic and interesting group of guests. Only he could seamlessly switch from a compelling political conversation with a presidential candidate to tapping into the zeitgeist with a late night comic.”
Cumulus Media Networks to Syndicate Medical Feature with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The vignettes to begin distribution in May through Cumulus Media Networks are broken into two target demos: one style for news/talk stations and another for a younger audience on music and entertainment stations. Two features per day for each variety will be available. Cumulus chairman, president and CEO Lew Dickey says, “Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a unique and profoundly talented individual. His insights and experience will bring compelling content to our affiliates and create powerful new vehicles for our advertisers. We look for Dr. Gupta to be an important component in our overall content strategy.” Dr. Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and serves as chief medical correspondent for CNN.
WOR, New York’s Former Governor David Paterson to Host Political Roundtable Event. Afternoon drive host former Governor David Paterson will moderate a special roundtable discussion from the famous Russian Tea Room broadcast live on WOR, New York on April 5. Taking part in this “State of the Tri-State” three-hour expanded edition (to be broadcast from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on WOR) of the Governor’s show are: former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, New York City Councilman Robert Jackson, New Jersey Association of School Administrators executive director Dr. Richard Bozza, Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), national security expert K.T. McFarland, and Abdur-Rashid, religious and spiritual leader of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem. WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “There is no one more uniquely qualified than Governor Paterson to bring together these top names on one radio broadcast to discuss the issues that are most important to our listeners and our community. Headlines are sure to be made during this very special program.” The broadcast is open to members of the press but not to the public.
Salem Communications Buys Detroit-Area Translator for News/Talk WDTK. Salem Communications is paying $250,000 for the FM translator currently at 97.5 and licensed to Harrison, Michigan. The seller is Tim Martz’s Radio Power and there’s currently a construction permit to move the translator to Detroit proper and to the 92.7 frequency. Salem intends to use the FM signal to assist its news/talk WDTK, Detroit.
ObamaCare Goes Before Supreme Court, Pressure Heightens for Charges in Trayvon Martin Case, GOP Primary Race and Obama-Medvedev Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/26). The first day of arguments at the Supreme Court over aspects of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act; the growing pressure on authorities to arrest George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin; the GOP primary race; and the flap over President Obama’s remarks to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Makes Changes at KLIF, Dallas. The move toward more news in commercial spoken-word radio continues. Cumulus Media Group announces talk station KLIF, Dallas will add morning and afternoon drive news blocks and changes its slogan to “News & Information 570 KLIF.” The AM drive news block begins today (3/26) and features Amy Chodroff (from sister WBAP) and Dave Williams co-anchoring the program. Williams most recently worked at Merlin Media’s all-newser in Chicago. The PM drive news block is expected to begin on April 2. The changes mean morning drive talk host Jeff Bolton is out and PM drive talk host Chris Krok will move to sister WBAP-AM/FM for an evening talk show.
Current TV’s Bill Press and Stephanie Miller Simulcasts Debut Today. The new one-two punch of progressive radio talk stars hitting the air at Al Gore-founded Current TV begins this morning (3/26) as Dial Global syndicated talk hosts Bill Press and Stephanie Miller air TV simulcasts of their morning drive radio programs on Current TV. “Full Court Press: The Bill Press Show” airs from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and “Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show” follows from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm ET. The network announces that Senator Chris Coons, (D-DE); Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post; Faiz Shakir of Think Progress; and Lara Setrakian of ABC News and Bloomberg are all scheduled to appear during the premiere week of “Full Court Press.” The first week of “Talking Liberally” will feature Senator Byron Dorgan (ND – Former U.S. Senator and Chairman of The Senate Committee on Energy), as well as comedienne Kathleen Madigan.
Hubbard Broadcasting Names Emily Kopp WFED Morning Anchor. Hubbard Broadcasting announces a permanent addition to the morning drive show on WFED, Washington – the station dedicated to serving the many federal government workers living in the region. Emily Kopp joins host Tom Temin on the morning drive program. Kopp joined Federal News Radio in 2011 after living in the Netherlands where she reported on a freelance basis for various radio network and print outlets. Prior to her promotion, Kopp served Federal News Radio as a federal workforce reporter. Since July 2011, Kopp has produced several compelling series that focused on key human aspects of working for the federal government. WFED program director Lisa Wolfe states, “Emily had been filling in as co-anchor while we’ve been conducting our talent search for the next morning anchor. Her talents were obvious and when we got together to discuss the possibility of making it permanent, it just made sense. I look forward to Emily bringing her well-crafted interview style to mornings. I think she will uncover a lot of news.”
WTEM, Washington Launches New Afternoon Sports Talk Show Today. Red Zebra-owned WTEM, Washington announces the debut of “Inside the Locker Room with Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell” today (3/26). The show teams up former Washington Redskins Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell along with broadcast pro Scott Jackson. Walker continues with the station after 15 years, most recently serving as co-host of the John Thompson show. Both Mitchell and Jackson return to WTEM after several years’ absence. VP of programming Chuck Sapienza states, “With Doc and B-Mitch, ESPN 980’s lineup includes the two most prominent former players in Washington, DC media today. Listeners of the show will receive opinions and insight from professional athletes that is rarely offered on local radio. In addition, Jackson gives the show a ‘point guard’ that every successful program needs.” The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
KXTG, Portland Re-Signs John Canzano. “The Bald Faced Truth” host re-ups with Alpha Broadcasting’s sports KXTG on a multi-year deal to remain with the station. John Canzano also writes a column for the Daily Oregonian and is a commentator for KGW-TV, Portland. Upon announcing the deal, Canzano commented, “Sports talk listeners of ‘The Bald Faced Truth’ radio show are smart, educated, good looking, influential and relevant. I love my audience, my sponsors and this station. I’m staying right here because ‘The Game’ is the place to be. Period.”
Southern California Public Radio Names Melanie Sill Executive Editor. The former editor at the Sacramento Bee and the Raleigh News and Observer takes over the executive editor role at Southern California Public Radio. Her duties include overseeing the daily news gathering operations across KPCC, Pasadena’s broadcast, digital and social media platforms. KPCC VP for content Russ Stanton states, “Sill brings a wealth of news and managerial experience to this new position. Most importantly, she has been a force of change in two newsrooms, leading efforts to restructure staffs to better compete in the digital age.” The Southern California Public Radio website announces the non-profit is aggressively working to build out its online news service with ambitions to become the region’s pre-eminent source for information across multiple media.
Jacksonville Gets FM Simulcast for Sports WJXL. Seven Bridges Radio LLC buys the former Gospel WFJO-FM, Jacksonville (a class A FM signal at 92.5) from receiver Scott Savage for $1.95 million and begins an LMA immediately simulcasting its sports station 1010 XL (WJXL). The station was formerly owned by Tama Broadcasting.
Smerconish Visits Boston. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish (center, standing) chats with WTKK-FM, Boston listeners at a private meet & greet on March 20 prior to the national screening of his movie, “Book Club with Michael Smerconish Featuring Chris Matthews’ Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.” In addition to the meet & greet, Smerconish conducted a curtain call speech before the showing of the film at the Cinema De Lux in Dedham, Massachusetts before a sold out theater. The film appeared at more than 100 theaters across the country on that evening.
KGO and KSFO, San Francisco VP of Programming Jack Swanson and KSFO PD Ken Berry Exit Posts. In an e-mail to his staff, longtime KGO and KSFO, San Francisco programmer Jack Swanson bids adieu to the stations he’s worked at for as long as most people can remember. In the memo, Swanson – one of the most decorated talk programming veterans in the industry — praises his staff saying, “This has been a tremendous run. Cumulus is inheriting the greatest staff in the radio industry. To a person, they are all rock stars.” Ken Berry served as news director at KGO until taking the KSFO PD post in December of last year. Both are obviously victims of the Cumulus/Citadel consolidation ax. Swanson says he plans to take some time off and come back to the industry refreshed and recharged ready for his next opportunity. Meanwhile, the anxiety continues to grow among former Citadel employees currently on the Cumulus payroll as whispers of the dreaded word “bloodbath” grow louder in the hallways of the company. Last week, longtime KABC/KLOS, Los Angeles president/general manager Bob Moore was let go in similar fashion feeding into the mounting fear. Whenever there is consolidation between two recently merged companies there are going to be duplicative positions that common business sense indicates will require job cuts. However, it’s also obvious to many observers that some people are being ousted primarily because they are making more money than their new employer deems practical to pay. As the folding of Citadel into Cumulus takes place, TALKERS hears reports that some former Citadel station staffers find themselves meeting with Cumulus managers to basically “interview” for the positions they currently hold. Obviously, this is the downside of what can happen in business – especially during tough economic times and is basically unavoidable. However, because of the size of this recent acquisition and the number of stations and personnel it involves, the present state of affairs at Cumulus is significantly contributing to the jitters being felt throughout the radio industry. Stay tuned.
Liberal Activist Group Goes After Baseball for its Affiliation with Glenn Beck. The group Americans United for Change is firing up a campaign to convince Major League Baseball to stop providing Glenn Beck with the video streaming platform to bring his GBTV to the internet. It’s not common knowledge that Major League Baseball Advanced Media provides backend infrastructure, white label services, mobile app services and operational support to not only Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts but to ESPN3, March Madness on Demand, Tiger Woods.com among others and, of course, its own MLB.com. Through its “Strike Out Beck” campaign, AUFC hopes to convince MLB Advanced Media to drop its affiliation with the talk media personality it claims is a purveyor of “unhinged anti-government conspiracies, fear mongering for personal gain, sexist remarks, and race baiting.”
Doug McIntyre Ruffles Political Feathers in Hard Hitting LA Op-Ed Piece. Nationally syndicated Cumulus Media radio talk show host Doug McIntyre – also a regular columnist in L.A.’s second largest daily, the Daily News — wrote a page one editorial in yesterday’s Sunday edition blasting the Los Angeles city government as being “occupied by corruption.” Tying into his premise that the protestors participating in the “Occupy Los Angeles” demonstrations are naively being “duped” by local politicians that he claims are merely acting like supporters of the movement but actually embody all the negative qualities against which the demonstrators are protesting. McIntyre writes, “The Los Angeles City Council embodies everything that’s wrong with government in modern America. Our city is Exhibit A when it comes to special interest money tainting good government.” Read McIntyre’s full column here. McIntyre, whose “Red Eye Radio” late night program emanates from KABC, Los Angeles, will be a member of the panel titled “The Issues Facing Southern California: Challenges and Solutions” at the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum this Thursday, October 20. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison the panel also includes Roger Hedgecock of KOGO, San Diego and Radio America; Stephanie Miller of KTLK, Los Angeles and Dial Global; investigative reporter Charles Feldman of KNX, Los Angeles; Patt Morrison of KPCC-FM, Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; John Phillips of KABC, Los Angeles; Josefa Salinas of Hot 92.3 FM, Los Angeles; and LaFern Cusack of the Southern California Broadcasters Association and ESPN, Los Angeles. Considering the volatile nature of the issues facing the region which include immigration, economics, transportation, the environment and a slew of others, and the diversity of the panelists participating – the sparks will really fly! For complete details about the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum click here.
Entercom’s WMC, Memphis Flips to Sports. Speculation about the company’s plans for “Country Legends” WMC began last week when Entercom announced Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome show would move from sister sports WMFS-AM/FM to WMC. Now, Entercom will manage two sports talk stations in the market it calls the Memphis Entercom Sports Network – WMFS-AM/FM affiliated with ESPN Radio and producing live and local programming in the afternoons (Eric Hasseltine followed by the Gary Parrish Show with Geoff Calkins) and WMC affiliated with Fox Sports Radio Network and carrying Jim Rome.
Actress Janine Turner Begins Daily Syndicated Talk Show. The Texas-born actress has been hosting a two-hour weekend talk show on Cumulus’ KLIF, Dallas since 2010. Now, Janine Turner announces she’s beginning a daily program – “The Janine Turner Show – Where is Reason?” – that airs live at 2:00 pm ET and is available in national syndication via her eponymous radio network. The show can also be heard online at janineturner.com. Turner says, “I’m thrilled that the Janine Turner show has received such a positive response both from the critics and the listeners. I think what makes my show really unique is that it features thought-provoking analysis about ‘Where is Reason?’ in our country, plus an inquisitive and conversational forum with a great lineup of guests – everyone from presidential candidates and authors to actors and constitutional scholars. And I absolutely love the opportunity to include callers from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and across the nation into the ‘Where is Reason’ dialogue.”