Is CBS Radio’s KPTK, Seattle the Next Progressive Talker to Flip? Seattle-based blog Blatherwatch (cool name!) is reporting the WYD Media-produced Stephanie Miller talk show indicated on Monday’s broadcast that CBS Radio’s KPTK, Seattle would flip from progressive talk after the holidays. No report on what the station may become and the report has not been confirmed by CBS Radio. If this comes to pass, it would be the second West Coast progressive talk outlet to recently shuck the format as Clear Channel’s KPOJ, Portland did Monday (11/12). It’d also be the second progressive talk station that’s been in the format for a relatively long period of time – eight years for each station – and located in “progressive” cities, to change formats.
Stacey Simms to Exit WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte. “Charlotte’s Morning News” co-host Stacey Simms announces she will exit the Greater Media news/talk outlet after the December 14 edition of the program due to personal reasons. Simms has co-hosted the show at WBT for 10 years, first with Al Gardner (now in Philly on WWIQ) and currently with Bo Thompson. Simms is a well-known media personality in the market having worked in television news at WBTV-TV before beginning her talk radio career. Senior vice president and market manager Rick Feinblatt says of Simms, “Since 2002, Stacey has been instrumental in the development and success of ‘Charlotte’s Morning News’ and has always displayed the highest level of professionalism and dedication to WBT and all our listeners. We wish Stacey the best as she pursues new opportunities and adventures.”
KFNS, St. Louis Parts Ways with Host Kevin Slaten After Racial Rant. Sports talk host Kevin Slaten wasn’t an employee of Grand Slam Sports – owner of KFNS, St. Louis – rather he brokered the time and sold his own advertising. As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, his contract was cancelled after he went on a rant last Thursday charging African Americans who voted for Barack Obama with being bigoted if they voted for Obama because he’s black. Station manager Katy Pavelonis tells the paper she asked Slaten to take his conversation in a different direction. “The topics of Thursday weren’t homing in on where I want to go.” Slaten was with KFNS previously but was fired from the station in 2008 after putting St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan on the air without informing him the conversation was being broadcast. Speaking of the mixing of sports talk and political talk; WFAN, New York sports talk host Richard Neer has some thoughts on the matter. See the next story…
The Risk of Talking Politics on a Sports Station. The 2012 campaign is behind us but WFAN, New York sports talk host Richard Neer has some thoughts on mixing politics and sports talk that some may want to consider for the next election cycle. Neer says that the very close popular vote in the presidential election – almost a 50/50 split – means it’s possible almost half your audience could disagree with you no matter whom you support, so is it worth “campaigning” for your guy? Neer writes, “A few undecideds may be persuaded by your arguments, but more likely you’ll either be preaching to the choir or turning off the other side. Another unintended consequence is if you show yourself to be poorly informed or blindly biased, it could undermine steady listeners’ trust in your authority when it comes to an area that you know more about — sports.” Read the rest of Richard Neer’s argument for avoiding politics here.
Opinion Piece: Five Trends About to Make a Buck. Noted industry idea man and Sabo Media chairman Walter Sabo offers five companies and concepts that he believes are closing in on what he describes as “the event horizon for making profits.” They include internet radio, Jumpwire Media, kid-targeted tablets (Toys“R”Us), Kickstarter.com, and companies that learn from TMZ. For the juicy details, click here.
Major Development at Tribune’s WGN, Chicago…New Call-in Number. Okay, so it’s not the biggest news to come out of Tribune Tower recently, but mid-morning talk host Mike McConnell played up the announcement of the changing of the station’s 46-year-old call-in phone number dramatically in a bit that surely had a fair number of WGN P1s on the edges of their collective seats. WGN promoted a “change of historic proportions” announcement during morning drive and when it came time for McConnell to break the news, he did so in a dramatic – some might call it melodramatic – fashion, building up to it by reading a list of the names of famous WGN broadcasters who’ve graced the station’s studios over the years. After delivering the punch line – the new call-in number – he explained that the new studios and the change to all-digital equipment required a new phone number as of today (11/13).
St. Louis Talk Hosts in War Over A-List Guests. The kinds of battles that happen between mega-broadcasters like David Letterman and Jay Leno can also happen between local talk radio hosts. The race to get the guest “first” is something most listeners are not aware happens among the hosts at their local media outlets, but St. Louis talk radio fans are learning about an kerfuffle between former station-mates Charlie Brennan at KMOX and McGraw Milhaven at crosstown KTRS (Milhaven previously worked at KMOX). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes about how the competition has escalated after Milhaven went public with what he considers Brennan’s unfair play. He points to a memo from publisher Random House’s public relations office regarding a St. Louis appearance by Pulitzer-prize winning author Jon Meacham on December 6 that details the cancellation of Meacham’s appearance on Milhaven’s show due to a conflict with a KMOX live broadcast event at the St. Louis Library and that state’s KMOX’s requirement it be the first radio appearance. Brennan’s Fontbonne University book club has been booking author appearances in the market for some time. Brennan tells the paper, “And it’s only a radio exclusive if the author wants to be a KMOX/Fontbonne University selection, which means the book will get a month’s worth of publicity and anywhere from 400 to 800 book buyers at the club’s monthly meetings…I’m not sure why (Milhaven) is making an issue of it. If he could offer the author a better agreement, I’m sure the author would take it. Then it would be ‘goodbye Charlie.’”
Bonneville Seattle and NFL’s Seahawks Agree to Multi-Year Extension. Bonneville’s KIRO-AM was the original radio partner for the Seattle Seahawks when the franchise joined the NFL back in 1976 and has been its sole partner ever since. Now, Bonneville extends its relationship with the team in a multi-year deal that will have Seahawks games and programming continue on sports KIRO-AM and news/talk KIRO-FM. The deal also includes the two stations’ coverage of Seattle Sounders soccer, which will have the football club’s matches heard on KIRO-FM. Bonneville Seattle Media Group vice president and market manager Carl Gardner says, “After 37 years, fans in the Northwest have come to think of Seahawks Radio and KIRO as one and the same, and we’re proud of that tradition. We also love helping build a new culture and tradition around Sounders FC and Major League Soccer, extending our strong partnership is a win for the fans, for the clubs, and for Bonneville.”
CBS Radio’s Sports WJFK, Washington Improving its Signal. According to Dave Hughes’ DCRTV.com, CBS Radio sports talk WJFK-FM, Washington is getting some engineering attention to help improve its signal. By altering the coverage patterns of two of its adjacent channel outlets WJFK should see improved penetration to the northeast, into DC itself and into Prince George’s County. In order to accommodate WJFK improvement, CBS will move the transmitter for WWMX, Baltimore “Mix 106.5” which will, to a degree, adversely affect its coverage. Over the years, more than one person associated with WJFK has told TALKERS that the sports talk station suffers from signal problems that are limiting its ratings potential.
Timely Guest. WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier (l) is pictured here on the stage at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach interviewing U.S. Senator Bill Nelson in the 85th edition of the Town Hall speaker series at the school. Nelson, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, answered questions about the scandal involving former CIA chief David Petraeus before a full house of students and the public.
Petraeus Scandal, Benghazi Investigation, ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ Businesses Prepare for ObamaCare, and Post-Sandy Frustrations in New York Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/12). The widening David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell scandal; the Benghazi attack investigation and Petraeus’ role in it; Washington addresses the “fiscal cliff”; American businesses prepare to pay for ObamaCare; and the post-Sandy frustrations still affecting some New Yorkers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Pulls the Plug on Progressive Talk KPOJ, Portland. The conspiracy theories from listeners and progressive talk fans are already pouring in – especially on the Portland-area blogs and mainstream media sites – but the notion that Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is flipping KPOJ to sports talk for political reasons and not because of business factors has no basis in reality. According to a piece in the local Willamette Week blog site, KPOJ’s recent 12-plus ratings were around a 1.0 share compared to some of its spoken-word competitors (news/talk KEX and KXL posted a 3.5 share and 5.0 share, respectively). TALKERS is not privy at this time to how well Clear Channel was able to sell KPOJ but it should surprise few in the business that sports content has never been hotter from a consumption standpoint and political talk – whether conservative or progressive – is, from a sales perspective, controversial and therefore a much tougher sell, probably even in a progressive market such as Portland. Local morning talk host Carl Wolfson was gracious in his public statement about the decision saying, in part, “I appreciate the opportunity they gave me for six years to be a voice for progressive causes in our state and nation. I will miss all of my fun friends at work (my excellent producer Paul, remains employed!). I love all of you, my loyal listeners. It has been my honor to give a platform to all of the outstanding groups, volunteers, elected officials and good people who make Oregon so special.” The station, considered one of the nation’s more successful progressive talk outlets for many years, also carried WYD Media’s Thom Hartmann, Premiere Networks’ Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy.
Fox Sports Radio Takes Over in Portland. Beginning Today, KPOJ, Portland becomes “Fox Sports Radio 620” and carries the full lineup of Fox Sports Radio Network programming that includes “Fox Sports Daybreak,” “Loose Cannons,” Petros & Money, “Fox Sports Tonight” and JT The Brick plus other weekend programming. Clear Channel Portland has the rights to Portland Trailblazers basketball (which airs on sister KEX) and Oregon State Beavers sports and the “Beaver Nation Live” show will continue to air on KPOJ from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily. Operations manager Chris Sargent states, “Combining our rich relationship with the Oregon State Beavers and Portland Trail Blazers, and now Fox Sports Radio, this is a win-win situation for us. We expect the new Fox Sports Radio 620 to serve the community with great access to sports information and entertainment, while setting the standard of sports excellence in Portland.”
Brian Wilson Exits WSPD, Toledo. News/talk pro Brian Wilson leaves Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WSPD, Toledo where he’s been program director, news director and afternoon drive talk host for more than seven years. Wilson has long operated his Vacation Relief Services company and has been a host a such outlets as WABC, New York; KSFO, San Francisco; WRC, Washington; and WGST, Atlanta. Wilson says via his Facebook page: “I am glad to have had the opportunity to preach the gospel of freedom and liberty to Northwest Ohio. Wish I had the chance on the air to say thank you and goodbye to my listeners. I will continue to make every effort to spread the message of free markets and liberty.”
Cox Media Splits WDBO, Orlando Simulcast; AM 580 to Sports Talk. The AM/FM simulcast of news/talk on Cox Media’s WDBO, Orlando ends today as the station takes up the ESPN affiliation and begins airing ESPN Radio’s lineup of nationally syndicated programming including “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” and SVP & Russillo. The move adds another sports talk outlet to the market that already includes Clear Channel-owned WYGM “The Game” the Fox Sports Radio affiliate; Star Over Orlando’s WRSO the Yahoo! Sports affiliate; and Genesis Communications’ WHOO “Sports Talk Florida” the NBC Sports Radio affiliate. WDBO’s full program schedule should be known soon and it’s not clear at this point if the station will air any local sports talk.
Unlocking the Secrets of Twitter. One of the radio industry’s most respected digital consultants offers tips on maximizing the use of Twitter to drive listeners to the station and increase ratings. TALKERS columnist Chris Miller of Chris Miller Digital warns that Twitter is not Facebook‘s “little sister” and should not be treated that way. He says broadcasters can use Twitter to effectively enhance their radio brand by creating a “bulletin service” that promotes one element of upcoming programming and one element only; a “customer channel” that opens a link to a real, live customer serviceperson – a recording; and by creating “mico-targeting” initiatives which separates various factions of the total target audience for very specific aspects of the programming of primary interest to them. Read Chris Miller’s entire piece here.
WABC, New York’s Geraldo Rivera to Broadcast Sandy Relief Program. During his midday show today, Cumulus Media Networks’ talk show host Geraldo Rivera will broadcast live from a Salvation Army post on storm-ravaged Island Park on Long Island in order to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief. WABC states, “During the broadcast, singer and actress Katharine McPhee will interrupt filming the next season of her TV show ‘Smash’ to announce that she will match every donation dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000 through her charitable foundation, McPhee Outreach (for a total of $100,000).” McPhee says, “I was looking for the organization on the ground that was doing the most to help Hurricane Sandy victims and I found that to be the Salvation Army.” Rivera will be on the air from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm ET. He says, “There is no one who does more with less than the Salvation Army. I’m hoping that my listeners and sponsors will step up and match the McPhee Outreach’s grant to raise more than $100,000 to help people rebuild their lives in the wake of this weather disaster.”
LFM’s KKFN, Denver Re-Signs Clough. Late-morning talk host Sandy Clough re-ups with Lincoln Financial Media’s Denver sports talker KKFN. The terms of the deal were not announced and Clough’s extending his contract with the station comes shortly after the sports talk outlet re-upped fellow air talent Scott Hastings and Joel Klatt.
Aaron Matthews Named PD at WWSR, Lima, Ohio. Maverick Media fills the program director position at sports WWSR, Lima “93.1 The Fan” with market veteran Aaron Matthews. He takes over for Ryan Reker who exited Maverick’s Lima cluster to become program director at Federated Media’s WOWO-AM/FM, Ft. Wayne.
Opinion: Talk Radio’s Renaissance Requires Open-Minded Ownership. Talk host and programmer Tom Becka – currently heard on KRWK, Fargo and KOIL, Omaha – says that the post-election reflection on talk radio’s future reminds him of his days as a stand-up comic traveling the country and talking with people whose concerns went far beyond the political process in Washington, DC. “The truth is what is important to most talk show hosts is not important to most people on the street.” Becka says hosts must be broader in their approach and management has to be willing to change. Read his opinion piece here.
Canada’s CRTC Approves New English-Language Talk Station for Montreal. The new English-language talk formatted station won’t hit the airwaves in Montreal until late spring of 2013 but Canada’s broadcasting regulation agency – the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has approved the application for the new station. The company applying for the license is owned by three Montreal businessmen and the outlet will be the sister station to the French-language talk outlet that’s also been approved. The French station will operate at 940 AM – a signal that’s been dark in Montreal for two years. Currently, Montreal is served by Astral Media’s English-language talk outlet CJAD.
Feature Series: Walter Sabo on FM Talk. Sabo Media president Walter Sabo writes a special four-part series on the successful implementation of talk on FM this week at Talkers.com. In the first installment, Sabo explains the importance of proper format execution in order to build cume. “You rarely hear formatic structure on any talk station – you’ll hear long periods without a host name, station name, phone number – and that’s why talk stations tend to have low, vulnerable cumes. Applying formatics to talk is hard work, but completely achievable.” Too often, talk radio shows sound formatically different from one another even though they are placed back-to-back on a station. That can be addressed by coaching formatics, says Sabo. “That means that your hosts have to handle all elements in the same manner as every other host, just like music DJs. That does not mean they should have the same opinions. That is not desirable.” Read more here.
Chris Sargent Named Operations Manager at Clear Channel Portland. Chris “Sarge” Sargent has been serving as program director at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk KEX, progressive talk KPOJ and classic hits KFBW-FM (where he also handled morning drive) in Portland, Oregon. Now, he’s upped to operations manager for the seven-station cluster. Vice president and market manager Robert Dove states, “I’ve been fortunate to have Chris Sargent working alongside Tommy Austin the last three years and the luxury of having two operations managers in the building, which certainly made my search a lot easier. I know Chris’s leadership along with the help and guidance of Brad Hardin, our senior vice president of programming, will lead to continued ratings success and revenue growth for our Clear Channel cluster in Portland.”
Cumulus Media Flips Pensacola FM to Talk. The former adult hits WJLQ-FM, Pensacola changes call letters to WCOA-FM and begins a partial simulcast of sister news/talk WCOA-AM. The new News Talk 100.7 is simulcasting the 6:00 am to 8:00 am hours of WCOA-AM’s morning drive show with Jim Sanborn and Don Parker, then breaks away to air the WMAL, Washington-based Chris Plante show until 11:00 am. Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee follows from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The rest of the day is: Phil Valentine from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Cumulus Media’s Mark Levin from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and John Batchelor from 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight and Cumulus Media’s “Red Eye Radio” for overnights.
Richard Neer: Prioritize to Stay on Top of the Busy Sports World. TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer offers some thoughts on staying atop of the busy sports world – especially now with NHL and NBA playoffs, MLB action and NFL offseason activity heating up. Neer writes that sports talk hosts may find two or more events scheduled for the same night. “Obviously you can’t watch every minute of every game. And, oh by the way, you do have a life apart from the job. There are family and friends who deserve attention and other cultural aspects of life that should be acknowledged lest you become too narrowly focused. So, how can you juggle all these priorities and stay current with your demanding job?” Find out here.
Changes Coming to Sports WQXI, Atlanta. Management at Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WQXI, Atlanta – Sports Talk 790 The Zone – is tweaking the schedule as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho. The morning drive show, “Mayhem in the AM,” is extended to 6:00 am to 11:00 am as is the PM drive show of Mike Bell and David Archer who move earlier to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. That leaves a midday show of 11:00 am to 2:00 pm to be filled and the station currently employs Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham as well as “Two Live Stews” Doug and Ryan Stewart. Ho notes that Barnhart and Durham are contractually allowed to take May and June off since they work long hours the rest of the year at non-radio station jobs. Ho also reports Barnhart’s and Durham’s ratings are better than the Stews but their availability in May and June presents a complication. GM Andrew Saltzman tells the paper they expect to have the schedule squared away in the near future.
Dennis Prager Publishes New Book. Salem Radio Network syndicated talk show host Dennis Prager begins promoting the publication of his latest book tonight (4/24) with an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity program. The book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (Broadside Books 2012), centers around Prager’s argument that humanity has a choice between American values and its two alternatives: Islamism and European-style democratic socialism. Prager suggests the American value system is the most viable method of creating a good society.
KCBS, San Francisco Newsman Bob Melrose Retires After 36 Years. Longtime KCBS, San Francisco reporter Bob Melrose retires from the CBS Radio station after 36 years at the venerable all-news outlet. Melrose’s career covering news in Northern California included come of the highest visibility cases and colleagues recall how Melrose had a knack for being there when news broke. A retrospective in the San Jose Mercury News notes Melrose covered the Jonestown massacre, the discovery of murdered 12-year-old Polly Klaas’ body and many other stories important to the region and the nation.
Voice Over Pro Jim Cutler Recognized by Fisher House. Voice over pro Jim Cutler (pictured here holding his plaque) was recently honored by the Fisher House Foundation for his pro bono work for the charity. Cutler provided the voice over work for a number of Fisher House projects, including this year’s Memorial Day radio special titled, “A Grateful Nation.” The Fisher House Foundation provides no-cost housing and assistance to the families of America’s servicemen and servicewomen while they recover at VA and military hospitals.
2012 Presidential Campaign, France Presidential Elections, Secret Service Scandal, Euro Zone Jitters, SCOTUS to Hear AZ Immigration Law Case and John Edwards Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/23). The 2012 presidential campaign; the surprise showing of French far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections; the growing Secret Service scandal; trouble in Europe as some euro zone countries battle to beat debt issues; the coming Supreme Court hearing of the Arizona illegal immigration law; and the beginning of the John Edwards campaign finance wrongdoing trial were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.