TALKERS Top News/Talk Stories and People of 2011. The editors of TALKERS are publishing the annual lists of the most-talked-about stories and people of 2011 as heard on America’s news/talk radio stations. The year-end lists are compiled from data from TALKERS ongoing research that is used for the weekly charts of news/talk radio’s top stories and people during the year. It’s important to underscore that many consumer media outlets publish annual lists of top news stories and people and those are often the results of data culled from Western news organizations. TALKERS data is unique in that it reports popular stories and people talked about on American news/talk radio stations. See the TALKERS year-end charts here.
Penn State Scandal Tops the TALKERS 10 Most Talked About Stories on Sports Talk Radio in 2011. Like any list, this one comes with qualifications. What constitutes a major story in New York might get precious little attention in Chicago. Although we talk in terms of “national pastimes,” the truth is that for the most part, sports interest is local. With that in mind, the following is the TALKERS list of the most talked about sports stories of 2011.
1. Penn State Scandal. This story dominated sports talk radio throughout the late fall. A legendary coach is fired and shocking testimony is unveiled — documenting unspeakable acts against minors. The Syracuse basketball program is rocked in a similar case, but as of this writing, the alleged perpetrator has escaped legal action. To read Richard Neer’s full list click here.
WAXY, Miami PD Marc Hochman Steps Down from Programming Role to Focus on Dan LeBatard Program. For the past two years, Marc Hochman has been serving in the dual role as program director for Lincoln Financial Media’s WAXY, Miami and executive producer and second co-host for the station’s Dan LeBatard PM drive show. Now Hochman says he’ll leave the PD post to concentrate on his role with the program, “It became obvious to me that I would be serving the radio station and radio show better if I were to focus only on one. There are many opportunities presenting themselves to ‘The Dan LeBatard Show’ so I’ve decided to focus 100% of my attention on the show and its future. Lincoln Financial Media has been super supportive of my decision. They’re thrilled I’m going to remain part of the radio station and they’ve asked me to remain in the PD position until they are able to find a replacement.” WAXY is beginning a search for a new programmer immediately.
Sports KILT, Houston Debuts New Local Midday Show; Premiere’s Jim Rome Exits. CBS Radio Houston debuts a new midday show called “Mad Radio” featuring Mike Meltser and Brad Davies in the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm slot. Meltser has served as the morning show news anchor on KILT and Brien Straw will take over that position according to the Houston Chronicle. Brad Davies previously worked at crosstown sports talker KBME-FM. Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome was one of the first major market affiliates for the program when it leaped from its Southern California base to national syndication in 1997 and has been a mainstay of KILT for those 14 years. But program director Gavin Spittle says it’s simply a matter of ratings and Rome’s program is the only one that doesn’t beat its three sports talk radio competitors in the market. “This is a performance-based business, and we have exhausted our options. We like Jim and thank him for all he has done for the station. He has been a huge fan of Sports Radio 610, and we have been huge fans of Jim Rome. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the ratings in Houston have slid to the point where a change is necessary.”
Former Marketing Director Sues CBS Radio Philadelphia for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination. As reported in the Philadelphia Daily News, former KYW, Philadelphia marketing director Shelley Kanther is suing the company alleging suffering “severe and pervasive” sexual harassment and discrimination and being fired after speaking up about it. Kanther’s attorney, Samuel First, writes in the suit that work environment at CBS Philadelphia was “toxic” with male co-workers telling Kanther “to wear skirts more often, swat at her butt and considered offering her money to make out with another worker.” The suit singles out SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield as the “worst offender” and alleges he fired Kanther when she complained. The suit also says VP and general sales manager David Yadgaroff failed to take action when asked to do so. CBS Radio is not commenting on the suit.
KQV, Pittsburgh to Air Robert Dickey Retrospective Today. Calvary senior partner and KQV, Pittsburgh president and general manager Robert Dickey passed away last week at age 84. KQV anchor PJ Maloney has produced a 50-minute retrospective of the man who dedicated his professional life to radio. The station says, “This special will include tributes from broadcasters, staff, friends and public officials…people who have known and worked with Bob Dickey during his 60-plus years in broadcasting.” The special airs this morning (12/30) at 10:10 am on KQV and is being repeated at 11:10 to allow staff to attend this morning’s funeral mass.
Bart Ritner, Pioneering North Carolina Radio Talker, Dies at 76. According to reports, the 39-year veteran of WPTF, Raleigh died on Wednesday (12/28) after a long battle with abdominal cancer. He was a regional pioneer of the call-in style of talk radio famous for impartiality and tremendous interviewing skills. According to the Greensboro News and Record, his interviews covered the gamut including President Lyndon Johnson, arsenic killer Velma Barfield and North Carolina Ku Klux Klan leaders. His reputation for even-handedness led to him serving as a mediator who helped resolve a dangerous standoff at Raleigh’s maximum-security Central prison.
Radio Talk Host Lynn Samuels Dies at Age 69. Longtime New York talk radio host Lynn Samuels passed away at her home in Queens on December 24 of apparent natural causes. Samuels, who had been working at Sirius XM, was found by police after she failed to show up for her radio show earlier on Saturday. There was no sign of foul play and friends tell authorities e-mails sent Friday indicate she didn’t appear troubled. Samuels broke into commercial talk radio in the 1980s after working at Pacifica’s hard-left non-com WBAI, New York. She hosted the Saturday 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program at Buckley Broadcasting‘s WOR, New York for a period of time. Then-PD John Mainelli was overhauling the programming at WABC, New York in 1988 when he brought her aboard. He tells TALKERS she was working for nothing at WBAI when he found her, “She used to say that WBAI considered her ‘too conservative’ for them but she pulled in more money than anybody during the fund-raisers so they kept her on. She was back-to-back with Rush Limbaugh on WABC for the first few years and their ratings grew precisely in tandem.” Mainelli says subsequent management moved Samuels around the WABC schedule, eventually to weekends, before letting her go. She held a daily show at Sirius XM for a number of years before being moved to the weekend. Mainelli says that, like many other talk hosts, she cut her teeth calling in to talk shows, “In Lynn’s case, she frequently called Bob Grant and always got him so mad that he would ultimately hang up on her with his trademark, ‘Get off my phooooooooone!’ She was a grenade-armed sweetheart and steel-clad softie, incredibly mentally alert and curious about everything. Endearingly quirky and funny as hell. Listeners could never predict how she’d approach brand new topics, which is so unlike the knee-jerk partisan predictables of 2011.” SiriusXM is honoring Samuels on a special edition of The Alex Bennett Program this morning (12/27), live from 7:00 am to10:00 am ET on SiriusXM Left/ch.127. Veteran broadcaster Richard Bey, a longtime friend and colleague of Samuels, is filling as guest host of the show December 27-29 while Bennett is on vacation. On Wednesday (12/28), they will join forces — with Bey continuing to serve as guest host and Bennett returning from vacation for one day to join him in studio — to salute Samuels’ life, ideas and legendary broadcasting career, throughout which, according to a SiriusXM spokesperson, “She spoke without a filter and with honesty, humor and passion.”
Kevin McCullough Appears on TALKERS TV. Kevin McCullough, host of the daily nationally syndicated “Kevin McCullough Show” and co-host of the weekend “Baldwin/McCullough Show” with Stephen Baldwin, is interviewed by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey on TALKERS TV. The conversation took place at the recent “It’s Time to Talk Day” radio row presented by TALKERS in conjunction with Talk Radio News Service and Liz Claiborne, Inc. to raise awareness about the widespread societal problem of domestic violence. The seventh annual installment of this major talk media event took place in the fashion showroom at Liz Claiborne, Inc.’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters. McCullough shows Casey and the TALKERS TV audience his fascinating array of portable remote equipment conveniently set up to allow him to communicate with his audience via several venues – radio and television – utilizing audio, video and digital elements, all operable by the host himself. This informative must-see video can be viewed on the right side of this page.
Rumor: Strong FM Signal Coming for WGST, Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho is reporting that Clear Channel may be moving toward a new FM simulcast situation for news/talk WGST, Atlanta. The station is currently simulcasting on a translator at 92.3 but the signal does not penetrate the northern suburbs of Atlanta. Ho reports Clear Channel is quietly cutting the staffing at Regional Mexican “El Patron” – WBZY-FM at 105.3 – possibly with plans to move the station to a different signal and simulcast WGST on the 105.3 frequency. Ho notes that WGST had an FM simulcast at 105.7 in the 1990s but that ended in 1999.
Clear Channel Combines Two FMs with AM in Mansfield, Ohio for WMAN-AM/FM. Gone are classic hits FMs WXXR-FM and WSWR-FM as Clear Channel combines them with existing AM WMAN (1400) to create WMAN-AM/FM. Market manager Bill Clark tells the Mansfield News Journal, “The motivation to make these changes is simple. Younger radio listeners, those under 35, rarely visit the AM band. Most were raised never having been aware that the AM band existed. This gives us the opportunity to expose younger listeners to the spoken word format.” In addition to Premiere Networks programs Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, the station also airs local morning drive host Rusty Cates and the early evening sports talk show “Sports Grill” with Aaron Hines.
KQV, Pittsburgh President and GM Robert Dickey, Sr. Dies at 84. All-news KQV, Pittsburgh was purchased by Robert Dickey, Sr. and Richard Mellon Scaife in 1982 when they formed Calvary, Inc. to operate the station they believed they were saving from extinction. Calvary has operated the station ever since with many of the station’s employees having worked there for decades. Dickey died at his home in Oakland, Pennsylvania on December 24 after suffering a brief illness. Dickey started in radio at KDKA, Pittsburgh in 1954. He worked his way up in the business and eventually became general manager of WINS, New York and earned his place as part of the management team that created the “You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world” news format. Dickey moved back to Pittsburgh in 1976 to manage Taft’s WDVE-FM and KQV. When KQV’s all-news format appeared to be in trouble, he and Scaife formed Calvary and bought the station.