WPRO-AM, Providence Talk Host Buddy Cianci Dead at 74. The colorful former Providence mayor who turned his political experience into a talk radio career in the city has died, according to WPRI-TV, Providence. Buddy Cianci – diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014 – died at Providence’s Miriam Hospital early today (1/28). Cianci hosted the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm program on Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM. He was with the station for most of the past 10 years, taking a required break from his radio gig to again run for mayor in 2014 and returning after his defeat in the election. His first foray into talk radio took place between his two stints as mayor at iHeartMedia’s crosstown news/talker WHJJ. WRKO, Boston-based, independently syndicated talk radio star Howie Carr issued the following statement regarding Cianci’s death: “Buddy Cianci was the antithesis of political correctness, which is why his passing is such a great loss for Providence, the state of Rhode Island, and talk radio. They’re not making them like Buddy anymore. He was one of a kind, sui generis.”
Talk Programmer Jack Landreth Exits KMBZ, Kansas City PD Post. Talk radio pro Jack Landreth leaves the program director position at Entercom’s Kansas City talk duo KMBZ-FM and KMBZ-AM “Talk980.” Landreth arrived in KC in January of 2012 after programming such news/talk outlets as KXNT, Las Vegas and KTSA, San Antonio. He writes in a memo to his staff, “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished over the last four years as a team. Record ratings in our target demos have shattered all we thought we could do.” He can be emailed at: Jack.Landreth@me.com.
Odds & Sods. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WABC, New York adds “The Frommer Travel Show” to its Saturday programming schedule. The show, featuring Frommer Media co-president and editorial director Pauline Frommer and Frommers.com editor-in-chief Jason Cochran, will be locally produced and air from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..The weekly “Motley Fool Money” radio program with host Chris Hill adds new affiliate KVBR, Brainerd, Minnesota “Brainerd Business Radio” beginning this weekend…..CBS RADIO’s Pittsburgh station group is presenting its eat.drink.WESTMORELAND event this Saturday (1/30). Attendees get to enjoy samples from more than a dozen of Westmoreland County’s finest restaurants plus new products, wines, beers and more. News/talk KDKA-AM afternoon drive co-host Robert Mangino is serving as emcee.
Presidential Race/Trump to Skip GOP Debate, Low Oil Prices/Financial Markets Volatility, European Immigrant Issues, Joseph Fiennes-Michael Jackson Flap, Oregon Militia Standoff, and Run-Up to Super Bowl 50 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/27). The activities of the candidates for president, highlighted by Donald Trump’s refusal to participate in tonight’s Fox News Channel debate; low oil prices and the tumultuous world financial markets; the immigrant problems facing some European nations; the controversy over white actor Joseph Fiennes being cast in a film about Michael Jackson; the deadly turn of events in the Oregon Wildlife Preserve militia standoff; and the run-up to Super Bowl 50 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
WGN, Chicago Extends Blackhawks Broadcast Deal for Five More Years. Chicago news/talker WGN and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks announce the signing of a five-year contract extension to keep Blackhawks play-by-play on the Tribune station through the 2023-24 season. The Blackhawks have been heard on WGN since the 2008-09 campaign. WGN president and general manager Jimmy de Castro states, “Many, myself included, believe that WGN Radio and the Chicago Blackhawks have the best partnership in sports. This renewal is testament to that. It’s an honor to formally extend this relationship and we look forward to celebrating many more Blackhawks wins with our WGN Radio listeners.” Pictured here are (from l-r): sports director Dave Eanet, producer Ross Cochran, news anchor Andrea Darlas, director of sales Jeff Hill, director of marketing Jackie Paulus, programming director Todd Manley, morning show host Steve Cochran, and de Castro.
CMG Raises Rainey to Radio Division Director/National Sales. Regional national sales manager for Cox Media Group stations in Tampa and Jacksonville Jodi Rainey adds corporate duties as the director of national sales of the radio division’s 60 stations. Cox Media Group regional vice president Susan Larkin comments that, “Jodi is a proven leader in our company. In this role, she will be able to collaborate with our national sales team and partners at Katz Radio Group to execute our strategic goals with laser focus.” Rainey remarks, “I am looking forward to working closely with our talented group of national sales managers and our Katz partners. CMG continues to put forth great traditional radio products as well as new offerings in client research, events, and the digital space. We have a great opportunity to further develop our relationships and bring value to national advertisers.” Rainey previously was general sales manager for the company’s Tampa alternative outlet WSUN and account executive for CMG’s Atlanta and Tampa clusters. Before joining Cox Media Group in 1999, Rainey worked for Katz Television Atlanta.
Darla Jaye Leaves KMBZ-AM, Kansas City. After more than 10 years in the market, talk personality Darla Jaye exits the morning show at Entercom’s news/talk KMBZ-AM “Talk 980.” Jaye’s show was the only live-and-local program heard during the weekdays on KMBZ-AM. The station is simulcasting the “Kansas City’s Morning News” program with E.J. Becker and Ellen Schenk from sister news/talk KMBZ-FM.
Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of January 11-15. The activities of the candidates for president were the most-talked-about story of the week on news/talk radio, landing at the #1 spot on the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the expanding FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for state department business. Coming in at #3 was President Obama’s final State of the Union address followed by the Iran-U.S. Navy incident at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Radio Part of New Deal for Michelle Beadle’s ESPN. Sports giant ESPN announces company personality Michelle Beadle has inked a new, multi-year contract to continue her co-hosting duties on the cable TV channel’s “SportsNation” with Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley. The company says, “In addition to her ‘SportsNation’ duties, Beadle will join ESPN senior writer — and ‘SportsNation’ and espnW contributor — Ramona Shelburne for their new national radio show called ‘Beadle & Shelburne.’ The new radio show will premiere February 14, airing 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm ET from ESPNLA 710’s Los Angeles studios.” ESPN original content SVP Connor Schell comments, “Michelle is truly one of the most authentic voices in sports and the connection fans have with her is something she has earned through the enthusiasm and insight she brings to her job every day. Michelle is a tremendous talent within the ESPN family and will play an important role in the evolution of ‘SportsNation’ going forward.”
Industry Mourns Death of Retired KCBS Anchor Al Hart. The voice of Al Hart was well known to news radio listeners in the Bay Area. He worked at KCBS, San Francisco for 34 years, starting in 1966 – two years before the station flipped to all-news – and retired in 2000. Hart died on Thursday (1/14) at the age of 88 after a long illness. KCBS morning anchor Stan Bunger says, “Al was the broadcaster I wanted to grow up to be. His positive energy and his passion for serving the audience were an inspiration every day. I’m very, very lucky to have had him as a mentor and friend.”
KMBZ-AM/FM, Kansas City to End Simulcast. Rather than airing the same programming on 980 and 98.1 as it has been since spring 2011, Entercom Kansas City will break off into separate entities, while maintaining the talk format on both dial positions. KMBZ-FM programming will mostly be locally originated; syndicated personalities will comprise the majority of what will be heard on KMBZ-AM. KMBZ-FM’s modified lineup will feature “Kansas City’s Morning News” with E.J. Becker & Ellen Schenk,” (5:00 am – 10:00 am); “Trend KC” with Burns & Monacelli (10: 00 am – 2:00 pm); Dana Wright & Scott Parks (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm); Jonathan Weir (6:00 pm – 9:00 pm – Weir previously did mid-days); and Premiere Networks’ “Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis” (9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight). KMBZ-AM “Talk 980” will include Darla Jaye (5:00 am – 9:00 am – Jaye previously did evenings); Glenn Beck (9:00 am – 11:00 am); Rush Limbaugh (11:00 am – 2:00 pm); Sean Hannity (2:00 pm – 5:00 pm); “America Now” (5:00 pm – 8:00 pm); Westwood One’s Herman Cain (8:00 pm – 10:00 pm); and Laura Ingraham (10:00 pm – 12:00 midnight). Both stations will carry Premiere’s “Coast-To-Coast AM with George Noory” (12:00 midnight – 5:00 am). The transition will take place on Monday, January 5. Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio‘s December 2014 PPM report, KMBZ’s AM & FM simulcast ranks eighth, after notching back-to-back gains of three-tenths (4.2 – 4.5 – 4.8). Public KCUR is #16 (2.6) and Cumulus-owned KCMO-AM finishes #19 (1.4).
Round Three of December PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of December 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Columbus. The survey period was November 6 through December 3. 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.
WWXX License Renewal Objection Draws Response. The FCC is considering whether it should rule if the team name of the NFL‘s Washington franchise (“Redskins”) is indecent. One of that team’s three radio flagships – Red Zebra Broadcasting-owned WWXX – has filed its answer to objections regarding the renewal of its broadcast license. WWXT (92.7) and WWXX (94.3) repeat the signal of primary flagship WTEM “ESPN 980.” Red Zebra states that its response “makes clear that under the Communications Act and the First Amendment, the FCC should not be in the business of censoring the content of radio stations. Any debate about the team’s name and its meaning should be held in the free marketplace of ideas, not in the halls of the FCC or any other governmental agency.” Red Zebra counsel Andrew McBride of Wiley Rein LLP comments, “We hope the FCC will swiftly reject this transparent attempt to use the license renewal process to intimidate broadcasters across the country with the baseless threat that accurately reporting on the Washington football franchise by using the team’s full name violates any law or FCC regulation.” Many consider the name of the DC franchise a slur to Native Americans and they have called on team owner – and Red Zebra primary investor – Dan Snyder to change it. President Barack Obama is among those asking the NFL to endorse a name alteration, as are at least one-half the members of the U.S. Senate. In a preliminary 18-page formal petition to deny renewal of a station’s FCC broadcast license, petitioner John F. Banzhaf III, “a listener to station WWXX, respectfully requests on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, and who are like himself adversely affected or aggrieved, that the agency deny the renewal of this station’s license and any other requests. It deliberately, repeatedly, and unnecessarily broadcasts the word ‘R*dskins’ during most of its broadcasting day, and especially in prime time where its well documented adverse impact on impressionable young Indian as well as non-Indian children is greatest. Through its licensee and controlling owner Dan Snyder, also actively encourages or indeed forces many other broadcasters to likewise broadcast a derogatory racial and ethnic slur contrary to the public interest.” Banzhaf is an American legal activist and a law professor at George Washington University Law School. The Washington Post editorial board has stopped using the team’s name, and a panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademark registration four months ago. Even so, Snyder vows to keep the name. TALKERS legal editor Steve J.J. Weisman recently wrote a column about this matter addressing the FCC’s jurisdiction to rule on the issue. Read that piece here.
Cooke: Two Weekend Problems, Two Solutions. In a piece written exclusively for TALKERS, radio consultant Holland Cooke addresses two weekend problems that face talk radio stations and offers a couple of solutions. He says ask-the-expert shows – i.e. brokered programming from local attorneys, real estate agents, veterinarians, etc. – don’t have to sound bad! Coach them so their broadcasts are well-executed and informative. Plus, let these clients use your listen-on-demand capabilities to reach more potential customers and they will be more satisfied with the money they are spending on your station. Read Cooke’s entire piece here.
How Mobile Can Save Your Talk Radio Brand. Digital media pro Gabe Barnes says, in a column exclusive to TALKERS, that he’s surprised by the number of radio execs who are put off by the reported amount of radio app usage that takes place outside of the station’s broadcast range. They see primarily the streaming fees for a listener who’s outside the “market.” The Mersoft Media director, business development says that’s not necessarily bad. “Many of those listening out of the broadcast range are actually local residents or have some ties to that local community. A local advertisement would be just as effective, provided the advertisement is compelling and targeted.” But there are more advantages for getting fans of your programming to go “mobile” with it. Read Barnes’ entire column here.
WTIC, Hartford License Renewal on Enforcement Hold. With the conviction of former Connecticut Governor John Rowland – until April of 2014 the afternoon drive personality on WTIC, Hartford – on campaign fraud charges in the rear view, CBS RADIO’s news/talk WTIC, Hartford is now waiting out an enforcement hold on his license renewal with the FCC. In a story in the Hartford Courant, Edmund Mahony writes that the hold on the process is due to a “payola” complaint to the FCC related to Rowland’s actions promoting a Republican candidate in a primary race without disclosing – either to the radio audience or the FEC – that he was on that candidate’s payroll. The FCC doesn’t comment on the specifics of these matters and CBS RADIO is simply confirming that the process is on hold but the company does not know why. Rowland is set to be sentenced in January. The station certainly took its share of criticism for hiring Rowland after his first conviction in 2004 on corruption charges related to activities while in the governor’s office. Now, the station may be liable for a fine or reprimand, according to experts Mahony cites in his story. Most experts agree a denial of the license renewal for WTIC is unlikely, to say the least.
ESPN Radio to Air World Series. This marks the seventeenth straight year that ESPN Radio has exclusive radio rights to MLB‘s World Series. ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” lead play-by-play announcer Dan Shulman and analyst Aaron Boone will function in those capacities on the radio broadcasts for the best-of-seven series that commences tomorrow night (10/21) between the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants. Pre-game and post-game coverage will be handled by Jon Sciambi, analyst Chris Singleton, ESPN MLB insider Peter Pascarelli, and Marc Kestecher. Meanwhile, for the tenth successive year, ESPN Deportes Radio will broadcast every game for a Spanish-speaking audience. San Diego Padres Spanish-language announcer Eduardo Ortega will be joined by Renato Bermudez, Armando Talavera, and Jose Francisco Rivera.
Cool Job Opportunity. One of the top newsrooms in the country, KMBZ in Kansas City, has an immediate opening for a Morning Show Executive News Producer. This is a unique opportunity for someone with great writing skills, an appetite for everything news, and a desire to create exclusive content each and every day. Candidates need to have a news background, and a good understanding of news-wheel operations. Reporting experience would be very good as well. “Kansas City’s Morning News” and KMBZ are committed to finding the right person to fill this position. If you have what it takes, send a resume, along with anything else that will make you shine to KMBZJobs@gmail.com. KMBZ and Entercom Kansas City are an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Salem Personalities in Israel. Four Salem Communications Christian teaching talk personalities are accompanying more than 350 listeners on a trip through the Holy Land. Pictured here from left to right are: Mark Daniels, WFIL, Philadelphia; Frank Sontag, KKLA, Los Angeles; Georgene Rice, KPDQ, Portland; and Kevin McCullough, nationally syndicated and WMCA, New York after a lunch on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Also joining the listeners and personalities on this trip is Salem Communications radio division president David Santrella.
TALKERS Posts 2014 Heavy Hundred. The 2014 installment of one of TALKERS magazine’s most popular and, perhaps, controversial annual features – “The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America” – debuted on March 11. Also known as “The Heavy Hundred,” the ranked listing of 100 hosts and talent teams from around the country is based on a number of both quantitative and qualitative criteria and is determined by collective analysis of the TALKERS editorial board with input from a wide variety of industry leaders. It includes local and national hosts from an array of genres falling under the umbrella of “general” talk or “news/talk” radio covering politics, health, finance, relationships, consumer electronics, popular culture and a variety of specialties. (TALKERS launched a special and completely separate annual “Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk” two years ago.) Hosts on the list are selected from those working at the time of its publication on platforms that include commercial and public AM/FM radio as well as satellite radio (internet-only talk hosts are ranked by TALKERS in an annual feature titled “The Frontier Fifty”). According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “It is no secret that economic restraints facing the industry these past few years have contributed to shrinking the number of individuals working on the air across the nation. Although the 2014 edition of the Heavy Hundred will, of course, include many familiar names, the need for new blood, fresh voices and potential up-and-comers has never been greater. Readers will find this year’s roster will feature a number of new names and first-timers, which is quite exciting!” To view the entire 2014 Heavy Hundred, please click here.
‘Game’ Changes in San Francisco. KGMZ “95.7 The Game” is modifying its weekday on-air lineup. Among the adjustments at the Entercom-owned San Francisco Bay Area sports outlet are the importing of former cross-town KNBR talent Damon Bruce to afternoon drive (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) and shifting current PM drivers Ric Bucher and Chris Townsend (below left, respectively) to mornings, replacing “The Rise Guys” — Whitey Gleason, Mark Kriedler and Dan Dibley. Entercom San Francisco vice president and market manager Steve DiNardo states, “This is a great day for our station and for Bay Area sports fans. For years, Damon Bruce has been one of the strongest, most opinionated, and passionate personalities in Bay Area sports. He understands what it takes to compete and win in this market. Just as exciting is moving Ric Bucher and Chris Townsend to morning drive. In just 14 months, they have developed strong chemistry and a loyal following. We feel like we have the perfect team in the perfect time slot to grow ‘The Game.'” According to Bruce, “The Bay Area has a one-of-a-kind sports scene, one of the hottest and most exciting in the country today. Bay Area fans are some of the most passionate fans in the country. I can’t wait to start and kick off a new drive-time experience for Bay Area sports fans.” Bruce was with KNBR from 1998 – 2000, and returned in 2005. He gained national exposure hosting “Sports Overnight America,” before leaving to become a SportsCenter anchor on ESPN Radio. Bruce has filled in for Jim Rome and has hosted SportsCenter for ESPN International. His other credits include fill-in host on Fox Sports Radio; Sporting News Radio; CBS Sports Network; and hosting pre and post-game shows for the San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers. The revised KGMZ lineup – which begins in just over two weeks (3/31) – will include “Bucher and Towny” with Ric Bucher and Chris Townsend (6:00 am – 10:00 am); Haberman & Middlekauff (10:00 am -12:00 noon); “The Wheelhouse” with John Lund & Greg Papa (noon – 3:00 pm); and “The Damon Bruce Show” (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm).
Saga’s Ed Christian “Hoping for a Little Better” in Q4. The 2013 fourth quarter and full year fiscal reports for Saga Communications saw the company’s net operating revenue dip 5% in Q4 of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012. But gross revenue increased 3.8% during the quarter excluding political. For the full year, the company’s gross revenue was up 3.3% (ex-political). In a conference call with investment analysts, Saga CEO Ed Christian stated, “I was hoping for a little better in Q4, we can always do a little more, we can always do a little better but I’m not disappointed. We’re just pleased with the results.” Christian said it’s hard not to put some blame on the winter weather for the economic sluggishness. “Saga operates in a lot of mid-America markets and a lot in New England and I really don’t have to tell you what the last four months have been like. In those markets it’s just outright miserable…I was talking with one of our managers the other day and he said people are irritable and it’s gloomy and people are lethargic.”
Beasley Declares Cash Dividend. The company’s board of directors is announcing the company is declaring a quarterly cash dividend of $0.045 per share of its Class A and Class B common stock. The dividend is payable on April 10, 2014, to shareholders of record on March 31, 2014.
KEX, Portland Personality Accused of Assault. Morning show personality Paul Linnman – host at Clear Channel’s news/talk KEX, Portland – is being accused by a co-worker of assault after he allegedly groped her buttocks and licked his lips as he stared at her breasts. Kailee Kinney is bringing the suit against Clear Channel and Linnman in Multnomah County Court. Kinney is a producer and account executive at CC Portland. She’s seeking $325,000 in damages. The complaint alleges Linnman “came up behind plaintiff and groped her buttocks, a sexually intimate part of her body. Linnman used an open palm to slap Plaintiff’s buttocks and then grabbed and squeezed plaintiff’s buttocks.” It further alleges that “Linnman approached plaintiff for a second time, stating, ‘I should apologize but that black dress…you look great in that black dress,” during which he “licked his lips and stared at Plaintiff’s breasts as he made this comment to plaintiff.”
Salem, Oregon Talk Host Suspends Show After Equal Time Complaint. In the Salem, Oregon market, Willamette Broadcasting employee Bill Post has suspended his daily talk show on KYKN due to his campaign for state representative and a complaint from a primary opponent about violation of equal time rules. Post announced his campaign for the seat in December. Last month, Barbara Jensen announced her bid for the seat but Post continued to work on the air. Jensen complains that Post and the station have been violating FCC rules and election laws but also asserts Post has violated other campaign laws but did not specify what they are. In a story in the Statesman Journal, Post says the station was prepared for Jensen’s complaint and that he believes the station and his campaign manager have operated within the law. Jensen’s complaint implies that once Post worked on air after opponents joined the race, the station must then provide equal time.
Journal Communications Shows Off New Brand. The parent company of radio and TV station firm Journal Broadcast Group unveils a new company brand with three cohesive new logos representing Journal Communications and its two major business segments, the Broadcast Group and Journal Publishing. As part of the new brand, the company also launched a fully redesigned corporate website at www.journalcommunications.com. Journal Communications chairman and CEO Steven J. Smith comments, “When we look at our company, we see quality, focus and effective teams in our local markets – all part of a business that is moving forward. However, many people outside of Journal often have no idea that, in addition to their favorite local station or publication, we have a total of 13 television stations, 35 radio stations and a major daily newspaper with a variety of supporting local publications, all with complementary digital products. As such, we believe our new brand better represents our company to investors, employees and the public and positions us as a national media company with diverse brands united under a common identity.” The redesigned company website includes links to all of Journal’s digital products and Journal Broadcast Group live streaming sites, as well as a “What’s Trending Now” feature that highlights Journal’s most recent content across its Broadcast and Publishing websites.
Entercom Kansas City Takes Action Against Delinquent Client. It’s not unusual for radio stations to put a past-due account into collection but Entercom Kansas City is seeking a court’s assistance in getting more than $52,000 it claims it is owned by Vinson Mortgage Services Inc. In a story in the St. Louis Business Journal, Vinson apparently advertised on news/talk KMBZ, alternative KRBZ and rock KQRC. This is not the only action involving Vinson. St. Louis television station KMOV-TV is filing a suit claiming it is owned more than $68,000.
Odds & Sods. The recent FCC filing for Buckley Broadcasting’s sale of its Connecticut stations to Connoisseur Media announced last week shows the price is $7.9 million. The stations include classic hits WDRC-FM, Hartford; talk WDRC-AM, Hartford; WWCO, Waterbury; WSNG, Torrington; and WMMW, Meriden…..Talk radio pro Mark Wainwright is sitting in on Clear Channel’s WSYR, Syracuse for Joe Galuski on the morning program next week, March 17 – 21…..Alpha Broadcasting announces Jeremy Scott and Brian Perkins will be the radio announcers for the Arena Football League’s Portland Thunder when games air on the company’s KXTG, Portland “Sports Radio 750 The Game.” Scott serves as a reporter for sister news/talk KXL. Perkins is a reporter and air personality on KXTG…..XtreMEDIA nationally syndicated talk host Steve Deace is talking to New Englanders today as he sits in for Boston talk icon Howie Carr on Entercom‘s WRKO.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Mystery, Winter Weather/Global Warming, Republican Wins Fla. Special Election, ObamaCare Criticism, CIA Monitoring of Senate Staffers/Snowden Video Appearance, and Obama vs. Putin/Ukraine-Crimea Tensions Among Top Stories Yesterday (3/11). The ongoing mystery concerning the whereabouts of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet; a new round of winter weather hits the East and renewed debate over the case for man-made global warming; Republican David Jolly defeats Democrat Alex Sink in Florida Congressional special election; scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; Senator Diane Feinstein’s allegation the CIA monitored Senate staffers and Edward Snowden’s commentary on surveillance cases; and President Obama’s faceoff with Vladimir Putin and the case of Russia’s incursion into Crimea and Ukraine were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Rumor: Anthony Weiner to Try Talk Radio. Here we go again! Another disgraced politician – this time it’s former congressman and former NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner – is rumored to be in the running for a talk show on one of two New York City radio signals. The New York Daily News is reporting that sources say Weiner is in talks to begin hosting a show on either Cumulus Media’s WABC (where the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot is opening in the New Year) or on Clear Channel’s WOR. WABC operations manager Tony Mascaro tells the paper they are looking at a lot of candidates for the slot but denies Weiner is one of them. The track record of former politicians – especially disgraced ones – succeeding in talk radio is not good. Most managers and programmers are either aware – or find out very quickly – that the tradeoff for hiring such a person is not usually worth it. Yes, one gets instant recognition of the person from the public, but the long hours, challenging work, glamorless working conditions and time needed to get traction in the ratings usually turns off former pols who are used to a different sort of workday. Oh, and then there’s the fact that they almost always have no broadcasting skills whatsoever. Stay tuned, the Weiner-watch is on!
Cumulus Media Holdings to Refinance $2.23 Billion in Debt. According to a Reuters report, Cumulus Media Holdings has set terms on a new $2.23 billion loan that would serve to reduce its interest payments over the course of the loan. The company is marketing a $200 million, five-year revolver and a $2.025 billion, seven-year, first-lien term loan. The proceeds would refinance Cumulus’ current first- and second-lien loans. Moody’s Investor Services VP and senior credit officer Carl Salas is quoted saying, “It’s a meaningful improvement in their annual debt service. They will save upwards of $30 million to $35 million in interest costs which adds nicely to their free cash flow generation.”
CBS Radio’s WJFK, Washington Hears It from Redskins About Game Broadcast Parodies. NFL fans are aware that the Washington Redskins – owned by the litigious and sensitive Dan Snyder – are having a tough season (3-9 right now) after making the playoffs last year. That’s been the source of much frustration on the part of fans and the source of material for WJFK host Danny Rouhier and producer Ajay Atayee who’ve been producing bits that are mock-ups of game broadcasts. Rouhier does the voices of Redskins radio play-by-play announcers Larry Michael and Sonny Jurgensen and splices in actual drops of color man and former ‘Skin Chris Cooley. The hysterically funny bits have been critical of the team’s play, the fan experience at FedEx Field and Snyder’s public image, so much so that, according to the Washington Post, WJFK Redskins beat reporter Grant Paulsen was told by team spokesman Tony Wyllie that the bits are so malicious that they could prompt legal action. This may be water under the bridge since the Post reports Wyllie says after talking with the station and being assured it’s all in good fun, the team has no problem with the station’s content. Since the station has no intention of stopping Rouhier from producing more similarly themed bits, we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out.
KYSR, Los Angeles Morning Personality Kennedy to Host Fox Business Net Show. Former MTV VJ and current morning drive host at Clear Channel’s alternative KYSR, Los Angeles, Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, will begin a new nightly current events talk show on Fox Business Network titled “The Independents” that will premiere on Monday, December 9. The Hollywood Reporter states that Kennedy will co-host with Reason magazine’s Matt Welch, America’s Future Foundation’s Kmele Foster and a rotating panel of money experts. Kennedy herself writes on her KYSR blog that the show will be “aimed at all the mealy-mouthed, partisan faithful out there. Has the 2 party system totally failed you? Yeah, me too! Tune in 4 nights a week on FBN, and just remember, music and politics go hand in hand. I will always hold hands with you.” Kennedy has been a contributor to FBN making regular appearances on “Stossel.”
Vali Named Interim GM of Ohana Broadcast, Hawaii. The name Austin Vali is widely-known in Hawaii radio and, as Ohana Broadcast Company‘s interim general manager, he will oversee four Oahu stations and five Kauai facilities. Owner/president Jason Wolff comments, “Austin brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and relationships in the Honolulu market. He will be a tremendous asset as we strive to produce the best possible radio for our listeners and clients.” Recently, Vali was vice president/general manager of Cox Media Group‘s three-station Long Island cluster. During his 40-year radio career, he has worked in Pittsburgh, Norfolk, and Louisville; however, Vali is perhaps best known for his experience in Hawaii. Since arriving there in 1978, he worked at Honolulu’s KIKI and KQMQ and he co-owned KRTR-FM and KXME in that market.
PodcastOne Adds Mariel Hemingway Program to Stable. Titled after her best-selling book Running with Nature, actress and author Mariel Hemingway, along with her partner, stuntman, actor, health and wellness expert, Bobby Williams, are launching their new podcast via PodcastOne. The podcast invites listeners to “join them on their adventures; from Hollywood to Holistic healing…transforming relationships to finding the most meaningful ways of living every day, Mariel and Bobby are here bringing laughter, wonder and awe with some great advice.” The first podcast episode “features nutrition tips, a review of her just released documentary called ‘Running from Crazy,’ and exercise tips from Bobby and Mariel’s ‘Meditation Moment.’” PodcastOne COO Greg Batusic says, “Mariel and Bobby offer a refreshing and unique take on life that their fans and new listeners will surely benefit from. We’re happy to have them join our stellar lineup.”
WTOP, Washington’s Bob Madigan to Retire. Drive time news anchor Bob Madigan will retire from his position at Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington, DC at the end of the year. Outgoing vice president of news and programming Jim Farley (also retiring, see next story) says in a memo to his DC staff, “Bob has been in this crazy business of ours for 50 years, 20 of them here at WTOP and WASH when both stations were co-owned. He and I worked for 11 years at NBC News….I have been inflicted on Bob for 27 of his 50 years in the business. By the way, if you are wondering how he got in 50 years ago, he started working in radio during high school.” Farley goes on to say that as WTOP’s “Man About Town,” he “was a one-person ‘good news’ department covering everything from charity galas to scholarship awards and chili cook-offs for a good cause. Bob covered so many events, that in less than a year on the beat, he was emcee, announcer or celebrity judge at many of them. He became a one-man marketing machine for WTOP, getting our name out there in a positive way that was priceless! He was chosen to announce the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. At the Bush Inaugural Parade he was paired with…Meat Loaf. For years he announced the start of the Race for the Cure live on WTOP. He has a long, long list of awards and honors including a (rare for a journalist) RAMMY Award, “The Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award.” RAMMY’s are awarded by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.
A Farewell to Jim Farley. Radio consultant and TALKERS contributor Holland Cooke (right) poses for a selfie with outgoing vice president of news and programming Jim Farley at a retirement bash for the longtime WTOP, Washington programmer at the Newseum in Washington, DC. After 17 years with the station, Farley is “slowing down but not retiring” as he’ll step down from his current post but consult WTOP for the next two years. He’s also open to consult others with their news and/or digital strategies. Current WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo is stepping into the post at year’s end. Cooke reports that modern-day WTOP-ers, Hubbard execs and many alumni toasted Farley at the bash. Among other things said at the farewell party, Farley told staffers, “What a crowd! YOU did it. YOU GUYS do all the heavy lifting, and I got all the credit. I’m gettin’ out before they catch me.”
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Usually that’s the case but at the Entercom AM transmitter site in Westwood, Kansas, just how a good fence is defined appears to be the issue. The towers for KMBZ and KUDL are surrounded by residential neighborhoods – that wasn’t the case in the 1930s when the towers went up. According to the Prairie Village Post, now neighbors are challenging the renewal of Entercom’s special use permit for the site claiming they want improvements there. After meeting with residents, a plan commission sub-committee is suggesting the current chain-link fence with barbed wire makes the property look “blighted” and recommends removal of the perimeter fence and replacement with fencing that complies with current code. Entercom fears liability issues without a perimeter fence. In 2008, a trespassing teenager was killed after falling from a tower on the site. Expect some sort of compromise on this issue since moving the station towers would be very difficult yet protection of the transmitters and towers needs to continue for obvious reasons.
Credit to WJFK-FM, Washington’s “Junkies” for Nabbing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Segment. He’s been one of the hot talk radio topics for the past several weeks (as documented in TALKERS magazine’s weekly top topics chart The Talkers TenTM), so why not book him as a guest? CBS Radio’s “The Junkies” did just that and got a cool 25-minute segment with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on WJFK-FM, Washington today. Ford, who’s obviously been in the news a bit lately and doesn’t seem to be very mic-shy, talked with the Junkies about football (he offered his NFL picks for the week), the drug use allegations against him, President Obama, and his run for re-election next fall (which he says he’ll win because he has the support of the people).
Odds & Sods. Entercom’s KGMZ, San Francisco is preparing to begin a listener giveaway of tickets and cool memorabilia for its six area pro sports teams. “95.7 The Game” is calling the promotion “The Six Teams of Christmas” and will give listeners a chance to win game ticket packages to see the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland As, Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks…..CBS Radio’s New York stations (including sports WFAN-AM/FM and all-news WINS and WCBS) are announcing a new promotion: The Firehouse Chili Cook-Off. After entries were submitted from all across the tri-state area, semi-finalists will compete to see whose chili recipe reigns supreme. At establishments in New Jersey and New York, the staple food of firefighters will be cooked, tasted and judged by local sports figures, and one fire company at each event will move into the final round of the competition. The grand prize winner will receive VIP tickets to a 2014 New York Yankees game…..Entercom’s Boston Red Sox flagship WEEI, Boston is broadcasting from the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando next week. Live coverage of the meetings will begin with Salk & Holley from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm Monday through Wednesday. The Mut & Merloni show will also originate from the Swan and Dolphin Resort from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday.
Holiday Magic at KIRO-FM, Seattle. Pictured here is KIRO-FM, Seattle afternoon drive duo Ron & Don manning the tote board at last year’s “Holiday Magic Radiothon.” The Bonneville news/talk station, in partnership with Treehouse (a non-profit agency that ensures that kids in foster care have access to the essential services required to help them make it to high school graduation and beyond), are hosting the 25th Annual Foster Child Holiday Magic Radiothon today. The station set a record last year raising more than $500,000. The 12-hour “Holiday Magic Radiothon” helps local foster kids by raising money to provide each child in the program with one significant holiday gift along with support programs and services throughout the year.
Rusty Humphries on the Set in Bucharest. That’s talk show host and actor Rusty Humphries (left) with actor Michael Damian (right) on location in Bucharest, Romania on the set of the romantic comedy Love By Design. Humphries says he plays a reporter covering a big fashion show in New York City. He notes that Bucharest is a popular location to shoot NYC scenes since it can be made to look like the streets of New York and the production costs are much less. The movie also stars Jane Seymour. Humphries was in Bucharest for seven days filming. He tells TALKERS, “I had a blast. I love the fact that I’m having the opportunity to really live out my dreams: radio, TV and film. This is my third major motion picture, and it’s always an honor to be involved with a project as special as this.”
ObamaCare Criticism, NSA Cell Location Database, Obama Millennial Support Diminishing, Detroit Bankruptcy, Bashir Resignation, and Fast Food Minimum Wage Effort Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/5). Analysis of the implementation and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the NSA policy that reportedly gathers the location of cell phone users; the loss of support from Millennials for President Obama; the Detroit bankruptcy case ruling; Martin Bashir’s resignation from MSNBC after his Sarah Palin comments; and the move by organized labor to push for a national minimum wage for fast food workers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
More News/Talk Radio Success Stories. Yes, you read that right, contrary to the pronouncement – largely in the mainstream media (but some trades are generalizing as well) – that news/talk radio is suffering an overall ratings decline because there’s something wrong with the programming, the signals or its P1s, there are news/talk stations that are doing well. In a piece published yesterday (see Wednesday’s news below) we mentioned a few news/talk stations that are performing well such as WMAL, KMOX, WSB-AM, KIRO-FM and others but more have come to light and we believe it’s worth delving into again. The editors at TALKERS magazine understand we are running the risk of sounding like cheerleaders but it’s not because we are blind to reality, it’s that we are irked by sweeping conclusions based on less-than-complete information that brands an entire format as dead or dying. Yes, some news/talk stations are dealing with low ratings and, yes, there are some entire markets that have seen – at least according to Nielsen Audio’s data – listening to news/talk decline. But for those who work at Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL-FM, Portland; Clear Channel’s KFBK, Sacramento, KNRS-AM/FM, Salt Lake City or WLW, Cincinnati; Bonneville’s KSL, Salt Lake City; Cox Media Group’s WDBO-AM/FM, Orlando; or Entercom’s KMBZ, Kansas City, are enjoying the fruits of their hard work in the form of news/talk stations that are performing well in their markets in spite of this gloomy environment. Digging a bit deeper at KXL-FM, the midday shows – Jim Villanucci from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and Lars Larson from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm – are both in the top six spots in Persons 25-54. Villanucci (brand new to Portland listeners) is ranked #6 in the market with Persons 25-54 and Larson, a conservative political talker, ranks #2 in the market with Persons 25-54. Larson is also tied for #1 with Men 18-34 with a 9.2 share. And he does it in liberal Portland! In conclusion, it is not only in the best interests of the country for news/talk radio to remain a vital medium — it is in the interests of the entire radio industry because – let’s face it – most of the buzz, news, high-profile personalities, controversy, and hoopla concerning radio as an iconic component of contemporary culture has emanated from news/talk radio. After that, a close runner up has been the more general (lifestyle and entertainment) approach to “talk” radio as practiced by talents such as Howard Stern (incorrectly described by mainstream media as “shock jocks.”) Can you imagine what the state of radio would be today had it not been for news/talk and general talk radio during the past 25 years? The industry should not be so quick to discount the viability of this genre of radio and the key it holds to the continued pertinence of radio itself. Lars Larson says his philosophy about the focus of his show is simple: “I figure the future of talk is in young listeners who get into the habit and like the format and what we put on the air. I hope to keep them in my audience for the next 20 years.”
Brief Tenure at WBZ-AM, Boston for Jen Brien. Just three months after beginning her position as permanent overnight host at CBS Radio’s WBZ-AM, Boston, talk show host Jen Brien exits with no reason given by management. An announcement was made at the beginning of the overnight program on Thursday morning (10/3) that Brien was no longer the host of the show. Brien won the job after Steve LeVeille retired in June of 2012. The station featured a number of fill-in hosts in the overnight slot for a year before giving Brien the gig. She had previously worked at crosstown WRKO hosting midday show.
Jay Mohr Visits ‘The Tonight Show.’ Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr is pictured here on the set of “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. Mohr appeared on the program to talk about his sports talk radio show as well as his upcoming stand-up comedy shows in his Houston and San Antonio markets. Mohr plugged the fact that his show can be heard on iHeartRadio – prompting a shout from an audience member who, Mohr quipped, “has the app!”
CBS Radio Brings Soccer to NYC. CBS Radio sports talk WFAN-AM/FM, New York agrees to a multi-year deal with the New York City Football Club to begin broadcasting the team’s matches on the stations beginning in 2015. WFAN says it is “the first radio provider to broadcast Major League Soccer (MLS) in English in New York City.” Manchester City Football Club owns the NYC Football Club and CEO Ferran Soriano says, “We’re thrilled to partner with a station as prestigious as WFAN. This is a huge opportunity for the team to bring football to all New Yorkers, right from the onset of our playing debut.” Clearly, growing interest in soccer in the U.S. is something CBS Radio hopes will continue to blossom. CBS Radio SVP and market manager Don Bouloukos adds, “As the nation’s leading sports radio station, we always look for ways to bring every type of sport to the New York area’s fans. Soccer is beloved across the world, and with the New York City Football Club coming to New York, it’s the perfect time to further ignite the passion soccer fans have and bring coverage and play-by-play of this new team to the Tri-State area listeners.”
Odds & Sods. Entercom’s WEEI, Boston kicks off the Red Sox post-season play with a live remote broadcast following a shortened edition of the Salk and Holley show. A “Red Sox Roundtable” will be broadcast live from Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill in Fenway Park from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Mike Salk, Michael Holley and fellow WEEI personalities John Dennis, Mike Mutnansky, Lou Merloni, Mikey Adams, Kirk Minihane, Alex Speier and Rob Bradford, as well as the Sox broadcast team of Dave O’Brien and Joe Castiglione will be on hand to discuss the Sox’ impending American League Division Series matchup…..Speaking of Joe Castiglione, he’s been nominated as one of 10 finalists for the Ford C. Frick award, given to baseball broadcasters of long and meritorious service. Castiglione has been calling Boston Red Sox games on the radio for 31 years, having joined their broadcast team in 1983…..Northwestern alumnus, Mike Greenberg, and “Mike & Mike” co-host Mike Golic, will broadcast their show live from Northwestern’s Evanston, Illinois campus tomorrow morning (10/4) in advance of Saturday’s Homecoming game between the Wildcats and the Ohio State Buckeyes, as part of the third annual ESPN Audio Fall Football Tour. Greenberg will also serve as grand marshal of University’s 2013 Homecoming Parade tomorrow evening.
Media Day with the Heat. Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talker WAXY-AM/FM, Miami “The Ticket” morning drive hosts Marc Hochman (left) and Jonathon Zaslow (right) attended Miami Heat media day recently and took the time to pose for a shot with Heat center Joel Anthony (the tall guy in the middle).
Government Shutdown, ObamaCare Implementation, IPCC Climate Report, U.S.-Iran Relations, and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/2). The political maneuvering to fix the government shutdown; the beginning of the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act; the release of the latest climate report from the IPCC; speculation about future relations between the U.S. and Iran; and financial markets activity were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Entercom Kansas City Officially Announces Debut of “The KMBZ Business Channel.” The news leaked out via a local PR firm earlier this week but now Entercom Kansas City confirms its classical “Radio Bach” – KUDL, Kansas City – is being flipped to financial talk and will be branded “The KMBZ Business Channel on 1660 AM.” Jack Landreth, program director of the KMBZ brand of stations, states the flip fills a void in the market, “‘The KMBZ Business Channel’ is a natural extension of our award-winning KMBZ News/Talk station. Building on KMBZ’s many years of success, we are launching a business station dedicated to business leaders and investors. By offering clear, concise business reports on Newsradio 98.1 FM and expanding those reports on ‘The KMBZ Business Channel on 1660,’ we will create a unique radio synergy.” Vice president and general manager Dave Alpert says the station will focus on business news as it happens and opinions about financial issues. “Business news is no longer just a stock market update. In today’s fast-paced world, business is a 24-hour news cycle…We will deliver the very best business reporting and direct access to the insider opinions that drive business throughout Kansas City and around the country.” Alpert and Landreth say their target audience is affluent, well-educated, homeowners over the age of 35, with household incomes over $100,000. “With Newsradio 98.1 FM, KMBZ already delivering a business-to-business audience, the ‘KMBZ Business Channel’ will cultivate a broader base of influential listeners across high-income levels from wired workers and educated professionals to CEOs and managers.”
News Staffers Exit Merlin Media’s FM News 101.9 in New York. Mediabistro FishbowlNY reports the departure of three on-air staffers from WEMP-FM, New York. The site says former WWOR-TV anchor Sara Lee Kessler, who’d been with WEMP-FM since its beginning last August, has exited as have evening anchor Maureen Langan and reporter Bob Brown. There’s no information whether any of the three were let go or left the station voluntarily. This news comes a week after Eric Seidel was named interim program director at the all-news station.
ESPN Brings Former Colts Exec Bill Polian Aboard as NFL Analyst. The sports media giant announces former Indianapolis Colts vice chairman Bill Polian is joining ESPN on March 12 – the day before NFL free agency begins – and will be seen on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” “NFL Live,” “NFL 32,” as well as heard on ESPN Radio. Polian will also write for ESPN’s digital initiatives and ESPN The Magazine.
Michael Patrick Shiels Exits Lansing-Based “Michigan’s Morning Show.” Talk show host Michael Patrick Shiels and Cumulus Broadcasting have parted company with Shiels doing his last broadcast based at WJIM, Lansing and the 10-station Michigan Talk Network on Tuesday (2/28). Michigan Talk Network general manager Dave Minock tells Michigan Live, “He’s decided to move on and we’re carrying on as you can imagine.” Minock says the program – distributed to the company’s WJRW, Grand Rapids and eight other stations around the state – will feature guest hosts until the company finds a permanent replacement for Shiels, who tells the site, “It was an amicable parting and I’m hoping I’ll get the opportunity down the road to reconnect with my Michigan listeners.”
Ric Edelman Public TV Series Wins Six Awards. Top-ranked financial advisor and talk media personality Ric Edelman’s “The Truth About Money” public TV program is honored with six Telly Awards. The awards honor outstanding international video and film productions. Edelman’s radio program of the same name is heard in 54 markets on commercial talk stations across the U.S. His public TV program was just renewed for a second season. The program won awards in three categories – education, information and editing. The program is dedicated to educating public television viewers about the latest data and research regarding how to save and invest their hard-earned dollars, while providing an entertaining framework. Guests have included everyone from wealthy publisher Steve Forbes, to divorce guru Raoul Felder, to CNBC anchorwoman and Wall Street mainstay Maria Bartiromo.
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Names Tim Castelli EVP of Digital Sales. The longtime digital advertising executive who most recently worked at America Online becomes executive vice president of digital sales reporting directly to chairman and CEO John Hogan. Tim Castelli will be in charge of national digital sales efforts and developing innovative advertising products and programs across several Clear Channel Media and Entertainment divisions, including strategic partnerships, national programming platforms and national advertising platforms and iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s digital radio service. John Hogan states, “Tim is recognized for his innovation and tactical expertise. His understanding of advertisers’ needs and objectives will help them take even greater advantage of our unmatched resources.”
Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises More Than $250,000 at Golden Mike Award Dinner. More than 250 radio and TV broadcasters attended the 2012 Golden Mike Award Dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Monday, February 27 to honor award recipient Dennis Swanson, president of station operations for Fox Television Stations. The black-tie fundraiser collected more than $250,000 to support the BFoA’s mission of providing aid to broadcasters in desperate need. Pictured here is Swanson (second from left) accepting the award from “Inside Edition” host Deborah Norville and Broadcasters Foundation chairman Phil Lombardo (second from right) and president Jim Thompson (far left). In attendance were broadcasting luminaries serving as presenters including Roger Ailes of Fox News; Dr. Mehmet Oz, the syndicated TV show host and cardiac surgeon; Elsie McCabe Thompson of the Museum for African Art; and Larry Wert of NBC-TV. Also during the evening, the Foundation recognized Rick Buckley, a longtime supporter of the Broadcasters Foundation who served as its treasurer for many years. A fund established in Buckley’s name after he passed away suddenly in July has generated $50,000 to help broadcasters in need.
Star on the Rise: Florida Talk Show Host Burnie Thompson Making Statewide Waves from Base in the Panhandle. Former Air Force Captain and college English teacher Burnie Thompson has been in the talk radio business since 2007 when he began broadcasting from his home base in Panama City, Florida. Since that time, with the help of Don McCoy of McCoy Media, he’s expanded his daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET program from his flagship at Magic Broadcasting’s WYOO-FM, Panama City to stations in Jacksonville, Pensacola and Ft. Walton Beach. Stations in Tallahassee and the Gainesville/Ocala markets are set to begin airing the daily show within the next few weeks. Thompson also produces a weekend version culled from the best of the weekday show that currently airs on 13 stations across Florida. Thompson has made so many inroads in such a short time that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has reportedly dubbed him “Florida’s Voice of Freedom.” Thompson is riding what he cites as a trend in talk radio making statewide programs more relevant and potentially popular than in the past. That, coupled with Florida’s burgeoning image as a center of rapidly growing importance from a demographic and political standpoint on the national scene, gives Thompson’s syndication venture that much more gravity. He says more important to his affiliates is the fact that his show became one of the highest-rated radio shows in Panama City for four consecutive years. Many local businesses have hired him to endorse them, making the show a top revenue producer. Thompson tells TALKERS, “The show is a mix between a 21st century town hall and your favorite saloon; a place where ideas collide and reason prevails. Every day on the radio, I strive to expand freedom and protect the family budget from government plunder by giving Floridians a place to link arms. I just want to make a difference in the Sunshine State – perhaps make it a little freer, and a little more prosperous. Then we’ll expand our horizons.” Thompson has been a freelance writer for more than a decade having work published in The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Washington Times, The Orange County Register, The Tallahassee Democrat, The Panama City News Herald, and more than a dozen other publications. He has a master’s degree in journalism from USC, a master’s in English from Penn State and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Fullerton.
Mitt Romney’s Michigan and Arizona Sweep, Deadly Midwestern Storms, Ohio School Shooting Aftermath, North Korean Nukes Deal, Iran Tensions, Health Care Birth Control Controversy and Pop Icon Davy Jones’ Death Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/29). The GOP primary race in the wake of Mitt Romney’s victories on Tuesday; the deadly storms that swept through the Midwest; the Ohio school killings aftermath; the deal struck with North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program; ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions; the action in Washington over the health care birth control controversy and the death of pop icon Davy Jones were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (2/29).
Alex Jones Rocks Orlando. Genesis Communications Network nationally syndicated talk sensation Alex Jones is pictured here mugging for the camera at Orlando Jai Alai on February 26 alongside Star Over Orlando‘s WEUS midday talk host Doc Holliday. Jones’ standing-room-only appearance included a live radio broadcast, a showing of his latest documentary film and an accompanying speech that WEUS says was, “a rousing affair that brought down the house!” WEUS carries Jones’ radio show live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET.
Opinion: Phil Valentine Says Fear of Offending is Lethal to Talk Show Hosts. Dial Global talk show host Phil Valentine responds to TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer stating just the fear of offending someone puts all talk hosts on a slippery slope and the latest “guidelines” from the Asian American Journalists Association take it to an absurd extreme. Read Phil’s piece here.
Harris Poll of “America’s Favorite News Personalities” Sure to Cause a Stir; Diane Sawyer America’s Fave, Rush Limbaugh Not. This recent poll of 2,016 American adults conducted by Harris Interactive lumps a list of 26 news anchors, interviewers and radio and television talk show hosts into one broad category – “news and current affairs personalities” – and asks the subjects which three are their favorites and which three are their least favorites. The results? Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly (tied with Barbara Walters) land in the top four spots for favorite. In the least favorite category, Rush Limbaugh, Nancy Grace, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity fill the top four spots. The fact that news anchors and talk show hosts are lumped together for the purposes of this poll is interesting. At TALKERS, we consider them very different animals. One has to wonder how many typical media consumers consider the duties Diane Sawyer handles on a daily basis and what Rush Limbaugh does on his program to be the same or similar (even though Limbaugh often refers to himself as “America’s Anchorman!”) Breaking down the results by political affiliation shows the following results: Among Republicans the four favorites are Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Limbaugh and Diane Sawyer. Among Democrats the four favorites are: Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams (tied for second), and Barbara Walters. What may be the most interesting facet of this poll from a statistical standpoint is independents ranked their top four favorites the same as the “general population”: Sawyer, Cooper, Williams and O’Reilly. If you landed high on the least favorite side of this poll, it apparently doesn’t necessarily hurt your listenership/viewership. While CNN’s AC 360 (Anderson Cooper’s prime time show) garnered 648,000 total viewers (average) during November of last year according to Nielsen, Rush Limbaugh’s estimated weekly cume during the same period was more than 15 million, according to TALKERS. These are not the same measurement systems but the difference is stark, nonetheless. Back to cable/news talk for a moment; MSNBC’s Ed Schultz beat CNN’s AC 360 (head-to-head competition) in the November ’11 Nielsens with 944,000 total viewers. However, Ed Schultz wasn’t even offered as one of the 26 “news and current affairs personalities” to those taking the poll. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was included in the poll. She came in tied for seventh favorite with 7% of all respondents naming her their fave.
Entercom Kansas City Drops Classical for Business Talk Radio on KUDL. Entercom plans to drop the classical music on KUDL 1660 – Radio Bach – and will turn the station to a business talk-formatted outlet as early as this week with an official start on March 5, according to local reports. Former KMBZ talk host Mike Shanin is expected to host an 11:00 am to 1:00 pm program and, according to Bottom Line Communications, the station will be closely aligned with and cross-promoted by sister news/talk KMBZ-AM/FM. While there is no official word from Entercom Kansas City, it’s being reported the station will carry programming from the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, Bloomberg Radio and is developing more local programming. Entercom donated its classical music library to Kansas Public Radio and University of Kansas.
Black Leaders in Southern California Still Upset with John and Ken. KFI, Los Angeles PM drive hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou returned to the air yesterday after a seven-day suspension for using the words “crack ho” while discussing the death of Whitney Houston. There are black leaders in Los Angeles still upset the duo have not been fired and the Los Angeles Times reports California State Senator Curren D. Price, Jr. was one of a number of black leaders scheduled to meet with Clear Channel management yesterday before John and Ken took to the air. Citing the duo’s penchant for controversy, the leaders are asking for KFI to replace them. Senator Price is quoted in the Times saying, “There are many thoughtful and talented journalists in Southern California. KFI-AM needs to replace John and Ken with some of them. I’m sure their radio sponsors will be grateful.”
Photographer Takes Radio Station to the Court of Public Opinion. Harrison Strategies senior partner and broadcasting attorney Matthew B. Harrison writes that it is important to know more about intellectual property law than just enough to avoid litigation. Disputes involving intellectual property aren’t always played out civilly within the established legal system. Brawls are erupting in the Wild West of social networking, where threats of litigation don’t have much standing and unconventional is the nature of attacks. Read Harrison’s column here.
CBS Sports Network Debuts; Jim Rome Debuts April 3. The CBS Sports Network is up and running in time for the college basketball post-season. CBS’ new cable and satellite channel will attempt to capitalize on CBS’ long history of sports programming and will use personality-based shows to try to compete with ESPN. Premiere Networks talk radio star Jim Rome is leaving ESPN to take his cable TV show to CBS Sports Network beginning April 3. Veteran television and radio sports personality Tim Brando’s 10:00 am to 1:00 pm ET daily radio talk show on Yahoo! Sports Radio is being simulcast on the new channel.
“America’s Healthcare Advocate” Hits 60 Affiliate Mark. The Kansas City-based “America’s Healthcare Advocate” show hosted by Cary Hall announces it is now heard on 60 affiliate stations across the country. Hall states, “If you would have asked me seven years ago whether this show would be nationally syndicated on 60 stations coast to coast, I would have said, ‘impossible!’ It’s amazing to me how we continue to grow. Obviously the ongoing debate over PPACA (aka ObamaCare) has generated a tremendous amount of interest in our broadcast. Additionally, the informative shows we are able to do with nationally recognized experts in the health insurance and healthcare industries make us the go-to source across the country for information on these topics.”
GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, New WikiLeaks Release, Oscars and Ohio School Shooting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/27). The GOP primaries on the eve of the Michigan and Arizona primaries, the continuing concern over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, WikiLeaks’ release of e-mails from a U.S. security firm, the Academy Awards and the shooting at an Ohio high school that left one student dead were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Irish Eyes Are Smilin’. Irish Radio Network USA chairman and CEO Adrian Flannelly (r) and his wife and Irish News Network VP and executive producer Aine Sheridan (c) will be honored with the 2012 Ambassador of Ireland Award to be presented by the Saint Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke and the Republic of Ireland on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Holyoke, Massachusetts by Consul General Michael Lonergan. Seated at left is Springfield City Councilor, former WHYN, Springfield talk show host and member of the Ambassador’s Award committee Kateri Walsh appearing on Flannelly’s program to announce this year’s recipients. The Ambassador’s Award recognizes individuals whose activities have brought the people of the United States and Ireland closer together. Flannelly and Sheridan are being honored together as a husband and wife whose professional careers personify that bridge-between-people that this prestigious award represents.
No-Holds-Barred Opinion: WDAE, Tampa Morning Sports Talk Phenomenon Dan Sileo Says Your Show Is About You! According to Dan, too many sports talk hosts are putting bad callers on the radio, conducting long, boring interviews and emulating bad radio. He boldly proclaims the best thing a host can do is listen for bad radio, recognize it for what it is and make sure you’re NOT doing it on your show. Read more here.
KOGO-AM/FM, San Diego Adjusts Program Schedule; Bryan Suits Exits Station and Chris Merrill Comes Aboard. Talk show host Bryan Suits had been hosting the midday show from Seattle and he tells his fans via his Facebook page that he and Clear Channel Media and Entertainment could not agree on the terms to bring him back to Southern California in order to move into the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm program slot so they’ve parted ways. The new lineup is LaDona Harvey from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm; Chris Merrill from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Bob “Sully” Sullivan from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Merrill’s “The Voice of Merrill” show airs on Entercom’s KMBZ, Kansas City daily from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.
Plans Being Set for 15th Annual New Media Seminar. Full details will be announced later this week, as TALKERS prepares to announce plans for the 2012 installment of the talk industry’s longest running and most important national conference. According to TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “This next conference will be extremely innovative – not just in content, but structure as well — and will be specifically geared to the nature of these economically challenging times. All I can say at this moment is it will again take place in New York City in early June – but this version of the event will be a significant departure from and improvement over traditional radio business conferences in terms of accessibility to the hard-working folks of our industry. Stand by!”
Stitcher Integrates News and Talk Programming with Facebook’s Timeline Feature. Stitcher is an app that allows iPhone and iPad users to listen to news and talk audio content in much the same way Pandora does for music. Stitcher says users have access to more than 6,000 programs and podcasts ranging from talk titans like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to news from CNN and NPR. Now, according to CNET, Stitcher has integrated with Facebook’s Timeline feature which essentially allows Timeline users to see what their friends are listening to. Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok tells CNET this means the ability to discover new programs and share favorites with friends has become even easier. “We have a huge selection of NPR content but there’s other content like NPR that you might like that could be exposed through a social integration and viewing the listening habits of a friend who you know has similar habits as you do.”
Clear Channel Media Holdings Reports 2011 Financials Today; Positive News for Media and Entertainment Division Expected. The parent company of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment holds a conference call with analysts this morning and although the company’s financial structure is very different from the days when it sold common stock like other publicly traded broadcasting companies, the industry is always interested in hearing from Clear Channel about its performance as a bellwether for the media industry as a whole. The industry can expect an announcement coming from this conference call that CC’s radio revenue was up 4% in 2011. According to the Clear Channel-owned, in-house radio trade publication Inside Radio: “Propelled by the addition of Westwood One’s traffic division in April and higher digital radio billings, Clear Channel Media & Entertainment revenue swung to $6.16 billion in 2011, a 4% increase from 2010. Like most of the industry, fourth quarter revenue was softer, growing 2% to $15 million.” Today, Clear Channel Media Holdings and subsidiary Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings will give 2011 fourth quarter earnings and revenue numbers for the whole of 2011 as well as guidance for the current year.
Houston Police Looking into Investigation of Hit-and-Run Incident Allegedly Involving KTRH, Houston Host Michael Berry. Last week TALKERS reported on the story out of Houston in which KTRH talk host – and former Houston City Councilman – Michael Berry is alleged to have hit a car outside a well-known gay bar in the city and left the scene. At that time, local news reports indicated Berry was also seen inside the bar prior to the incident. At this time Berry has not been charged with anything but the Houston Chronicle is reporting that Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland is ordering an investigation into his department’s handling of the case. At issue here appears to be whether police, who initially offered little evidence to the district attorney’s office to charge Berry, may have ignored other testimony from the scene clearly linking Berry’s SUV to the incident. Berry has said on his radio show that he can’t talk about it but asks people to hold their judgment until all the facts are out. Berry’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, tells the paper, “It’s much ado about nothing, it seems to me.”
Independently Syndicated George Jarkesy Show picked up by CRN Digital Talk Radio. An hour of the recently launched independently syndicated Houston-based program, the George Jarkesy Show recently featured at Talkers.com has added CRN Digital Talk Radio as one of its distribution platforms carried on the Mike Horn-owned venue’s “CRN 5” airing Mondays at 1:00 pm. A money manager and successful professional investor, respected financial and corporate advisor, George Jarkesy has founded, invested in and helped to build companies engaged in a broad range of industry sectors, including financial consulting, media, real estate investing, natural resources, and healthcare. He also appears as a regular guest commentator on most of the major cable news/talk channels where he gained talk media industry attention as a solid information resource for the common sense blending of money matters and politics geared to the middle class investor and entrepreneur. Jarkesy’s daily show runs Monday through Friday 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm with plans in the works to expand to three hours per day. For more information, visit www.GeorgeJarkesy.com.
GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Race, Iran Oil Blockade Threat, Rising Gas Prices, Greece Bailout and Lin/ESPN Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/20). The battle among GOP primary contenders and the larger 2012 presidential race; Iran’s threat to block oil out of the Persian Gulf and rising gas prices in the U.S.; the Euro Zone’s approval of another bailout for Greece; and the controversy over a racial slur used by ESPN staffers referencing Knicks player Jeremy Lin were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Charlotte Talk Media Personality to Moderate Debate. Charlotte, North Carolina talk media personality and regular WBT, Charlotte fill-in host Wayne Powers is set to moderate today’s 8th Congressional District Republican Debate. The debate, sponsored by the Cabarrus Republican Women, takes place tonight at 7:00 pm at the Vintage Motor Club in Concord, North Carolina. All six candidates vying for the opportunity to challenge incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell will take part in the debate.
Live from L.A. Plaza. ESPN Deportes stepped outside its studios to celebrate the first anniversary of Spanish-language sports talk show “Nacion ESPN.” Pictured here are co-hosts Adriana Monsalve and David Faiteslon. The two were joined on the program by ESPN’s Rafa Ramos and Bernardo Osuna, Mexican-Brazilian soccer star Luis Alberto Zaque, renowned Mexican soccer stars Ramon Ramirez and Claudio Suarez, and boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez. On a state-of-the-art set, Adriana and David welcomed the crowd and its special guests presenting several surprises, heated debates and friendly competitions.
KTRS, St. Louis Talk Show Host JC Corcoran Responds to TALKERS Feature Story. St. Louis talk show host JC Corcoran’s Twitter exchange that got him suspended from talk station KTRS last fall was an example cited in the TALKERS feature piece, “Social Media: Handle with Care,” published on Friday. Corcoran responded with an insightful letter to the editors that adds new levels to the story and the larger issue of social media use by talk and sports radio broadcasters. Read the piece and Corcoran’s response here.
Talent Shake-Up at WLW, Cincinnati; Eddie Fingers Returns. Today sees a revamped talk host lineup at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s “Big One” WLW, Cincinnati highlighted by what Queen City media observers are calling the bizarre return of Eddie Fingers to the PM drive show 15 months after he was fired from the same show. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter, Fingers will rejoin co-host Tracy Jones for the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm program. Jones’ partner since October of 2010 – former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Scott Sloan – moves to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. That means late morning host Doc Thompson is the odd man out. Kiesewetter reports Thompson was fired last week while on his honeymoon with WHIO-TV, Dayton reporter Yuna Lee. Thompson still works for Clear Channel hosting the PM drive show at the company’s WRVA, Richmond. Back to Cincy, Fingers has been a personality in town since the early 1980s. He moves from rock WEBN-FM to WLW in 2007. Kiesewetter reports Fingers has no animosity toward the station for his October 2010 firing, stating, “I never had a problem with anyone in the building all along. The decision on firing me came from corporate, and I get the impression some of them have moved along. I loved it there. I loved those guys. This is unprecedented. This is a load off my shoulders.”
Programmer Jack Landreth Named KMBZ-AM/FM, Kansas City PD. Entercom Kansas City announces talk radio programmer Jack Landreth takes over the PD position at news/talk KMBZ-AM/FM beginning Monday, January 30. Landreth most recently held the PD post at CBS Radio’s KXNT-AM/FM, Las Vegas. During his career he has also programmed KTSA, San Antonio; KNST, Tucson; and WWTN-FM, Nashville. Landreth says, “KMBZ is the premiere radio station in Kansas City and I could not be more honored to work with such a great team of local, top-notch broadcasters. My sincere gratitude goes out to Pat Paxton, Ken Beck and, of course, Dave Alpert. My family and I look forward to coming back to the Midwest and calling Kansas City our true home.”
“Loveline” Tweaking Format to Appeal to Talk Stations as Courtside Offering. The former Westwood One talk show, now in Norm Pattiz’s growing Courtside Entertainment stable, has been a nighttime music radio mainstay for almost 30 years. It is heard on more than 50 alternative rock, classic rock and CHR stations with a strong base in the top 25 markets. Hosted by noted medical authority Dr. Drew Pinsky and well-known LA-based pop culture broadcaster Mike Catherwood with the recent addition of British radio and TV personality (and sex therapist) Simone Bienne, the nightly program which airs live 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight PT has evolved and adapted over the years from a free form Sunday night KROQ, Los Angeles show, appealing to a very young audience, to a formatted, highly-planned and targeted production designed to deliver a more mature, diverse 18-54 audience. Along the course of its colorful history, Loveline’s hosts included such figures as Adam Corolla, deejays Jim “Poorman” Trenton and Swedish Egil (Egil Aalvik) and former MTV veejay Riki Rachtman. Courtside Entertainment founder and CEO Norm Pattiz tells TALKERS, “Unlike many talk shows on music radio, this program does not play music and never did. However, it does include well-known music personalities among its diverse guests a la Jay Leno and David Letterman.” Pattiz unequivocally states, “Yes we are now going after talkers… the growing number that think a talk show with equal parts information, entertainment and advice is right at night. This show attracts a loyal audience. Current stations really like what we are doing with Loveline as we have phased it in this new direction over the past six months. It has a distinct format which is very important in a PPM world. Every quarter hour is planned with calls, subject, host features and guests. Master programmer Bert Kleinman oversees this aspect of the production on a daily basis. It is a unique product that has stood the test of time by continuously adapting.”
Clear Channel Gives Hartford an FM Sports Talker. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment puts into effect the changes that had been brewing with its Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts stations last spring. The “Kix” country format leaves WPKX-FM as the station becomes an FM simulcast of CC’s sports talk WPOP, Hartford and moves its city of license from Enfield, Connecticut closer to Hartford in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. That leaves the country format on the former AAA WRNX-FM, Amherst, Massachusetts serving the Springfield market. The new 97.9 ESPN obviously uses programming from ESPN Radio but it’s being reported that CC Hartford is looking to put a local PM drive show on the station.
WGDJ, Albany’s Paul Vandenburgh to Host Daily Afternoon TV Show. WGDJ, Albany is co-owned by president and general manager Paul Vandenburgh. He also hosts the morning drive show on the station. Beginning Monday, Vandenburgh will host the Paul Vandenburgh Show on Albany’s MyNetworkTV affiliate My 4 Albany from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. My 4 TV’s Chuck Hunt says, “Vandenburgh has long been the premiere talk show host in the Capital District and adding his expertise to television increases the reach, visibility and credibility of MY 4 Albany. His show will be topical each day, keeping people up to date with the major news stories of the Capital District. Live callers will also be included in the program. We are thrilled to have Paul on the MY 4 Albany team.” Prior to his endeavor with WGDJ, Vandenburgh hosted the morning drive show on crosstown WROW. He also hosted at WQBK, Albany.
Sirius XM Adds Two High-Profile Talk Shows. Former Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian becomes part of the satcaster’s NFL Radio channel with his debut tonight on the “Late Hits” program from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm. He’ll appear again for shows on Wednesday and Friday prior to the Super Bowl and will host regular shows throughout the year. Polian says, “I’ve been a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio many times and it is an outstanding source for league news and information. Now I get to be the one asking the questions. I’m excited to get on the air to talk shop with players, executives and coaches around the league and interact daily with many of the great fans who have helped make the NFL the most successful sports league in the world.” In other Sirius XM news, former New York City police chief Howard Safir is hosting a limited run program called, “The Badge with Howard Safir,” focusing on the “drama, heroism and challenges facing law enforcement today.” The series will air Sunday evenings and run for six weeks.
Northeast Ohio Sports Media Figure Joe Pete Dies at 45. Joseph J. Pete, Jr. broadcast the “Sports Report with Joe Pete” on WFUN, Ashtabula, Ohio. He was a play-by-play announcer for prep athletics in the region and wrote about sports in the region for numerous publications. He passed away on Thursday, January 26 at the Cleveland Clinic.
Clear Channel Forges into Future of Entertainment; Names John Sykes President of Entertainment Enterprises. If there comes a time in the future when radio companies are forced to address why their business plans failed as technology and media tastes were changing all around them, for Clear Channel it certainly won’t be for lack of trying to use its enormous radio station base from which to move forward. On the heels of last week’s announcement of the name change – jettisoning the “radio” part and tacking “media” and “entertainment” onto its name – the company announces it is bringing entertainment pro John Sykes aboard to serve as president of entertainment enterprises. In announcing the hire, CC states, “Sykes will use the unparalleled assets of Clear Channel – including its 238 million monthly broadcast radio listeners, the 141 million people it reaches with Outdoor in the United States and the 374 million internationally, as well as the more than 75 million monthly listening hours for its digital properties – to develop new businesses for the company across a range of media, including television and live events, as well as create value for Clear Channel advertisers and key partners.” Sykes has served as president of VH1, president of network development for MTV, CEO of the old Infinity Broadcasting, president of Champion Entertainment, president of Chrysalis Records, and an agent for Creative Artists Agency. Most recently he was with the private equity firm Pilot Group – the connection to Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman. Pittman says of Sykes, “John’s experience and relationships in so many sectors of the entertainment and media business make him the perfect choice to lead this new initiative.” Clear Channel doesn’t have a lot of time. It has some $20 billion in debt hanging around its neck that comes due in chunks over the next four years and the pace at which media and technology is changing is faster than anyone can anticipate – including those new-tech operators who say they’re ahead of the game. But, in so many words, Clear Channel is making the statement it is bound and determined to use its large base of radio listeners to build something that will exist – and hopefully make money – in the future. And bringing in connected players from outside the traditional radio business could be the strategy that helps it survive.
CBS Radio Detroit Brings Bob Wojnowski and Jamie Samuelsen Back to the Airwaves on “The Ticket.” Detroit sports media pros Bob “Wojo” Wojnowski and Jamie Samuelsen are being paired up for a 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show on WXYT-FM “The Ticket.” Both have worked on sports talk radio in the market previously on Clear Channel’s WDFN. WXYT-FM program director Jimmy Powers says, “We are extremely pleased to have Jamie and Wojo join our line-up. They are a natural fit. They have been dialed into the Detroit sports scene for many years, giving fans information on their favorite teams. Jamie and Wojo will continue to entertain listeners on their way home from work or to the stadium.” Wojnowski is also currently a columnist for the Detroit News and Samuelson is a regular blogger for the Detroit Free Press.
KMBZ, Kansas City Makes PM Drive Changes. Mike Shanin leaves his role on the “Shanin and Parks” afternoon show at Entercom’s KMBZ, Kansas City and takes the business editor role at the station. The station says it will continue to rely on Shanin’s “expertise and knowledge for political commentary.” Filling his seat alongside Scott Parks is KCTV-TV investigative reporter Dana Wright. She says of her new radio role, “This is really a dream opportunity for me. Journalism is my passion and I look forward to this exciting new step in my career.”
When Radio Was Insanely Fun. Beleaguered by the contemporary world of corporate radio? Pining for the days when radio stations were inhabited by creative and (quite possibly) unstable personalities? Talk radio host, WPIX-TV, New York commentator and LionelMedia.com “podcast titan” Lionel re-lives a bit of crazy radio history from his uniquely skewed perspective and personal experience. Prepare to laugh your tuchus off and click here.
CBS Radio’s WNEW-FM, Washington Launch Delayed. Various trade and consumer reports indicate the launch of CBS Radio’s new all-newser in Washington, DC will be Monday, January 23 and not tomorrow as had been planned. The cause is being reported as engineering issues related to the new studios.
Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington, DC Adds College Hoops Expert. ESPN 980 (WTEM) announces former University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams joins the station to serve as its college basketball insider. Williams takes the temporary post through the NCAA finals during which he’ll join the station’s “Sports Fix” with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro and “The Sports Reporters” with Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban for weekly college basketball reports. PD Chuck Sapienza says, “Adding Gary to our team solidifies our dominance in the area of college basketball coverage. He is ‘must listen-to radio’ and adding his expertise on the entire sport of college hoops is a big win for ESPN 980’s listeners.”
ESPN Audio Re-Aligns Management. At ESPN, Jim Roberts moves from his senior director, affiliate sales to senior director, Deportes local radio group. He’ll continue to lead the Deportes Dallas Radio station and in addition be responsible for the on-going relationship with all Deportes Radio affiliates. Patrick Polking, senior director audio national accounts, will transition to senior director II, distribution and business development. Polking will oversee the development and execution of strategies to further monetize ESPN Audio’s products. The company also says that because of the growth in usage of ESPN Audio properties, Scott Masteller, senior director II, radio content, will collaborate with Dave Austin, who was recently promoted to manager, ESPN Digital Audio Group, to ensure ESPN Audio is aligned in the production of its digital audio.
GOP Primary Race, Internet Anti-Piracy Bills, European Debt Crisis and Italian Cruise Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/17). The battle to win the GOP presidential primary race, the internet anti-piracy bills being debated in Washington, the continuing European debt problems and the Italian cruise ship disaster were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
It’s a Jungle Out There. Tight money, a stressed-out population and aging listeners are creating burgeoning sales opportunities for talk media in financial services, crime control, medical and health services industries. Even as traditionally strong radio advertising categories such as restaurants, retailers and auto dealers are becoming a tougher sell than they used to be, smart and aggressive sales departments are re-evaluating their sales targets. Although the mantra in talk is “lower the demos” – the truth is the older folks have a significant percentage of the money and they are the ones listening to talk radio. Rather than apologize for this handy little fact, perhaps talk account executives should be trumpeting it loudly. Read more here.
Phil Boyce Out at TRN. After a three-year stint as president of programming at Talk Radio Network, Phil Boyce has announced his departure effective immediately. Boyce released the following statement to TRN employees: “I want to wish every member of the TRN family best wishes. I have enjoyed my three years getting to know and work with all of you. This is a great team and I know more success is forthcoming. Wherever I go you will always be in my heart and I am sure we will stay in touch.” Boyce joined TRN in November of 2008 after a 14-year run programming WABC in New York where he also served as VP of newstalk programming for Citadel and ABC Radio. In that capacity he established himself as a major national news/talk radio programming force playing a significant role in the careers of a number of top talents including Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. Prior to that Boyce programmed WJR in Detroit. Boyce tells TALKERS, “I hope to announce my future adventure shortly. In the meantime I want to spend a little time on that ‘secret island’ Jack Swanson recommended to me.” The island to which Boyce refers is the geographical euphemism to which the former KGO, San Francisco operations manager joked he was headed upon recently departing his long-held position at that heritage station. Boyce can be reached at email@example.com.
Jake Russell to Head Up Davis Media’s Wilmington, North Carolina Cluster. Tom Davis’ Davis Media, LLC is the buyer for Sea-Comm Media’s Wilmington, North Carolina cluster of four stations: news/talk simulcast WNTB-FM/WLTT-FM plus three music FM outlets. Davis brings aboard former Take on the Day, LLC exec Jake Russell to become what he calls “our local owner-operator” for the cluster. Davis also owns two music FMs in Williamsburg, Virginia and has built a strong internet presence he cross-promotes with the radio stations combining for a media company philosophy that he calls “Hometown Driver.” Davis says the Williamsburg operation has been very successful and he believes the Wilmington stations will be the perfect radio cluster to drive his local media company model. The FM news/talk simulcast features local morning drive host Chad Adams plus syndicated Dial Global hosts Neal Boortz and Clark Howard, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity, Cumulus Media’s Mark Levin, and Talk Radio Network’s Rusty Humphries. Davis Media begins operating the stations under an LMA prior to closing.
Neil Larrimore Exits KMBZ, Kansas City. Program director Neil Larrimore leaves his position at Entercom’s news/talk KMBZ, Kansas City – a job he’s held for the past eight years. Prior to joining KMBZ, Larrimore served as APD at Cox Media’s WHIO, Dayton.
Las Vegas Talk Host Alan Stock to Debut TV Show. KDWN, Las Vegas mid-morning talk host Alan Stock tells TALKERS he’ll begin a daily interview program on local cable channel Vegas TV (channel 14) beginning January 17. More details to come as the program gets closer to launch but Stock compliments employer Beasley Broadcasting for allowing him to work in another medium that will help him to build on and promote his daily radio program at KDWN.
2012 Presidential Race, ‘OWS’ Eviction, Obama Australian Trip, Iran Nukes Among Top News/Talk Stories Yestereday (11/15). The GOP candidates for president in 2012, the case of the eviction of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protestors, President Obama’s trip to Australia and his plan to expand the U.S. military presence there, and Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Glenn Beck Israel Event Featured on GBTV Media Station. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” rally in Israel did not get the same press his “Restoring Honor” rally at the National Mall in Washington, DC one year ago did. However, Beck’s address before the reported crowd of 1,700 near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the reported 3,000 watching from a nearby viewing station was both beamed live to and archived on GBTV.com – the new media station programmed by Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company. Beck’s new live, streaming “TV show” debuts on September 12 on GBTV.com and no doubt Beck hopes it will replace his Fox News Channel program that ended in June in the minds of many of his hard-core P1s. Regardless of criticism leveled at Beck by consumer media journalists for his message, one can argue that Beck and his staff may just be building a sterling example of well-programmed, revenue making digital news/talk content (media station) for the new era.
Cox Announces FM Sports Coming to Birmingham While Crosstown WJOX-FM Host Paul Finebaum Sues Employer Citadel. Cox Media Group confirms to the Birmingham Business Journal that it will flip country WNCB-FM to sports on Tuesday, August 30. General manager David DuBose says Eli Gold and Stan White will co-host the morning drive show, Matt Coulter – a former WJOX-FM host – will handle the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show and the station will be a Yahoo! Sports (formerly Sporting News Radio) affiliate. Meanwhile, across town Citadel’s WJOX-FM and popular market sports personality Paul Finebaum are in a legal tussle. At issue it appears is Finebaum’s contention that Citadel has not shared revenue for his program according to the terms of his contract and the sum in question exceeds $75,000, again according to the Birmingham Business Journal. Finebaum’s attorney, Russ Campbell, refused to comment to the Journal but WJOX-FM general manager Bill Thomas issued a statement saying, “I feel very confident that the actions of Citadel and its employees with respect to Paul have been appropriate, and I expect that to be demonstrated if his lawsuit continues.” Finebaum, whose popular show is known for superserving rabid fans of SEC football and basketball, is under contract with WJOX-FM through January of 2013. The Citadel station serves as the flagship for Finebaum’s program. Cox’s DuBose says if Finebaum’s legal situation clears up, they would be interested in talking to him.
Cox Media Group Names Format Captains. Cox Media Group elevates seven program directors to format leaders for the company who will report to new director of radio programming Steve Smith. WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton OM/PD Nick Roberts (who also oversees news/talk programming in the Louisville cluster) is named the format leader for news/talk. CMG Group VP Ben Reed says of the move, “CMG has tapped into the amazing talent that exists within our radio businesses to help chart an even more competitive course that will provide the best music and news/talk formats for our valued listeners. Industry veteran Steve Smith, who joined CMG last month, will oversee this proven team and will provide a cohesive link between our local markets and our group vice president leadership team.”
Norm Pattiz’ Courtside Entertainment Group Teams with Westwood One for First Special Broadcast: Bill O’Reilly’s Presidential Town Hall. The three-hour special broadcast event in which Republican candidates for president in 2012 will answer questions from Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly is scheduled for November 7, airing live from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. Pattiz announced the formation of Courtside Entertainment and its relationship with Westwood One to distribute content at the beginning of the year. Now, the partners offer their first special program. Westwood One president Rod Sherwood states, “Bill O’Reilly knows the Republican political landscape inside and out, and his ‘Presidential Town Hall’ will bring his unrivalled wit and wisdom to radio listeners early in the campaign season.”
KMBZ-AM/FM, Kansas City Wins Kansas Association of Broadcasters Station of the Year. Entercom’s news/talk KMBZ-AM/FM is named the Large Market Station of the Year by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters for 2011. The station also wins seven other news and programming awards. Program director Neil Larrimore says this is a great honor for KMBZ. “This is truly the result of a TEAM effort across the board! Everyone at KMBZ works hard every day to make sure that the best news and talk radio product is put on the air, and these awards are testaments to their dedication to that mission! There is a reason Kansas City trusts NewsRadio 98.1 FM & 980 AM KMBZ.”
Salem Radio Network Announces 9/11 Anniversary Programming. SRN VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup says SRN will produce a 90-minute live special titled, “9/11: America 10 Years Later,” on Sunday, September 11 anchored by SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston. The program airs from 8:30 am to 10:00 am. SRN News Senate correspondent Linda Kenyon — who was at the Pentagon the day of the attack — and SRN News House correspondent Wally Hindes will join Greg on the program live from SRN’s Washington, DC studios. Salem also plans a weeklong series of reports leading up to the September 11 broadcast.
Ric Edelman Celebrates 3,000th Broadcast of TV Program. Independent financial advisor, author and broadcaster Ric Edelman announces his public television program “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman” just celebrated its 3,000th airing. The program, produced by 3 Roads Communications, has been picked up by more than 175 public TV stations. Edelman hosts an independently syndicated weekend radio program of the same name that is heard across the nation.
WHO, Des Moines PM Drive Host Simon Conway to Emcee Political Rallies. Iowa talk show host Simon Conway announces he’ll be emcee for the Presidential Candidate picnic taking place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Saturday, August 27. Attendees already confirmed include: Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congressman Ron Paul, Congressman Thad McCotter and former New York Governor George Pataki (who is rumored to be ready to announce his candidacy). Conway says he’ll also emcee the Sarah Palin “Restoring America” rally in nearby Indianola, Iowa on September 3 where some believe Palin will announce her candidacy.
Sports USA’s Joe Morgan Show Debuts. Baseball Hall-of-Famer and broadcaster Joe Morgan debuted his new one-hour daily radio show on Monday, August 22. For its first week on air, Morgan’s interview-intensive program featured conversations with baseball greats Morgan conducted at the recent Baseball Hall of Fame induction. Sports USA president Larry Kahn says of Morgan’s new show, “‘The Joe Morgan Show’ is unique content for sports fans to tune in to because Joe has conversations with athletes and allows us to listen to stories most people have never heard before. Listeners will have more insight as a fan because Joe can get closer to these athletes in a relaxed setting compared to regular members of the media doing interviews.”
Urban Talk Host Bev Smith Reportedly Ending Radio Show. According to the Redding News Review, American Urban Radio Network talk host Bev Smith’s show will end soon. The reports are not clear. Redding News Review reports one source saying Smith is battling breast cancer although there has been no official word from AURN on the status of Bev Smith’s program. The program is fed live from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm nightly.
2012 Presidential Race/Obama Vacation Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 22-26. The GOP candidates and the issues facing the nation as the 2012 presidential campaign season heats up – combined with chat about President Obama’s vacation – landed atop the Talkers Ten chart for the week of August 22-26. Coming in at #2 was the turmoil in Libya. At #3 was the violence in Syria and at #4 was the financial markets instability. The Talkers Ten is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America based on ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. To view this week’s entire chart, click the banner below.
Honoring a Pioneering Company. KDKA, Pittsburgh morning drive host Larry Richert (l) is seen here with KDKA promotions staffers Lisa Herald (to Richert’s right), Chelsea McCartney (far right), and Ed Reis (in top hat) portraying the celebrated entrepreneur and engineer George Westinghouse. KDKA broadcast from Westinghouse’s Cranberry, Pennsylvania campus to help celebrate its 125th year in business. Westinghouse Corporation put KDKA on the air on November 2, 1920 and the rest, as they say, is history!
TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup. The Wall Street Journal Radio Network clears “The Daily Wrap from The Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner” on WTKK-FM, Boston…..TRN’s “Watchdog on Wall Street” with Chris Markowski picks up KWKC, Abilene, Texas.