Attention is currency. So short sentences rock. And sentence fragments. See?
On a normal day in Las Vegas (oxymoron), it’s already a wall of enticements:
- “100X odds craps!”
- A rib joint touts “The Best Rack on The Strip!”
- Guy Fieri’s restaurant serves up “In Your Face Food & Booze.”
- “Fire a Machine Gun!”
- “Girls! Girls! Girls!”
Now, fly-in 165,000 of us, for-whose-attention 20,000 new products compete, and you’re in the graduate school of messaging. Yours will drown in the din unless it’s “SQUIRREL!”
Radio has never had more competition for listeners’ attention, and advertisers’ do-re-mi.
So, as I navigate a Las Vegas Convention Center the size of FIFTY football fields, I am struck by how well exhibitors distill their messages, something radio hosts and commercial and promo copy should strive to do.
- BACtrack is “The World’s First Wearable Alcohol Monitor.”
- Mevo, The Live Event Camera, enables you to “Edit on the fly. Stream live or share later.”
- ThinOptics assures that you will “never be without your reading glasses again.” Their “stick anywhere, go everywhere” sleeve adheres to the back of your smartphone.
- Rem-Fit’s Zeeq Smart Pillow “Streams Music, Stops Snoring, Analyzes Sleep.”
- You’re “always connected, never apart” with Petcube’s “interactive cameras bringing pets and people closer than ever.”
- Tablo is “The DVR for Cord Cutters.”
- Assure Lock by Yale lets you “Lose your keys for good;” and “Answer your door. Anywhere. Anytime.”
- MightyPURSE “charges your phone.”
- Without a live demonstration in the booth, we’ll take Willow’s word that their “wearable breast pump” has “no external tubes, cords, or dangling bottles.”
Get the picture? Yes, we see.
“Make America Great Again.”
We just elected a most unlikely president whose gift of brevity plays Twitter like a Stradivarius. “Drain the swamp,” “Crooked Hillary,” “Jeb Bush is weak,” “Little Marco,” “Build a wall, and Mexico will pay for it,” and other bumpersticker-length catch-phrases were utterly digestible. Is your message?
Holland Cooke (www.HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet, and he covers industry conferences for Talkers. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke; and look for his new TalkersTV video “Choose Your Words Carefully” next week at Talkers.com
SiriusXM Ends 2016 with More Than 31.3 Million Subscribers. Satellite broadcaster SiriusXM will release its 2016 fourth quarter financials early next month, but it announced yesterday that it beat its guidance on net subscriber additions by adding more than 1.7 million during the year to pass the 31.3 million mark. It also says it expects to meet or exceed its 2016 guidance for revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow. CEO Jim Meyer comments, “We continue to make substantial investments in new products, content and technologies, including investments in new satellites, our next-generation 360L platform, wideband chipsets, and new marketing capabilities. In 2017, we expect to continue our never-ending focus on bringing our customers the best content bundle available, and our strong record of delivering cost-effective growth and returning substantial capital to stockholders through stock buybacks and our recently introduced dividend.” SiriusXM also issued 2017 guidance for self-pay net subscriber additions (1.3 million), revenue ($5.3 billion), adjusted EBITDA ($2.025 billion) and free cash flow ($1.5 billion).
PodcastOne Debuts Laila Ali Show. Women’s boxing champ Laila Ali is launching a new show called “Laila Ali Lifestyle” on the PodcastOne platform. The daughter of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali joins the Norm Pattiz-founded entertainment company to offer a show in which fans can join Ali “on her journey to holistic greatness, as she balances mind, body and soul, and shares her passion for helping people achieve their personal best in every aspect of life.” She will invite guests to appear each week, with new episodes every Thursday. Pattiz comments, “We’re happy to have someone of Laila’s esteem, experience and class on our network. She’s a legend in her own right, and it will be great for fans to see a different side of her through the podcast.”
Chris Mack to Host Pirates Pre-and Post-Game Shows. At CBS RADIO’s Pittsburgh sports talker KDKA-FM “Sports Radio 93-7 The Fan,” station personality Chris Mack will begin hosting the pre and post-game shows for Pittsburgh Pirates baseball beginning in the spring. Mack currently hosts the station’s weekly “Bucco Talk” program in addition to a number of shows. Jack Zduriencik, a former Pirates director of scouting and former Seattle Mariners general manager will work alongside Mack during the shows. ‘Fan’ program director Jim Graci comments, “Chris is a seasoned talk show host and well versed in the Pittsburgh sports scene. Elevating him to host our pre- and post-Pirates game broadcasts was a natural progression for him, ‘The Fan’ and our scores of loyal listeners. We’re excited to have Chris take on this expanded role and look forward to his color commentary and analysis this spring.”
Russian Hacking Controversy Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of January 2-6. The debate in Washington over whether Vladimir Putin’s Russia is responsible for hacking the DNC’s email was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was President Obama’s lame duck actions. Coming in at #3 was the GOP’s strategy to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, followed by the Chicago Facebook torture case 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.
Beasley’s WBRN, Tampa Goes AC; Chadd & Kristi Thomas Named Morning Hosts. The former “Bubba Radio Network”-branded rock station ditched that moniker last year and transitioned to the “No Rules Rock!” brand. Then, late last year, Beasley Media Group dropped the Bubba the Love Sponge show in anticipation of a format change. Yesterday, the company unveiled the new adult contemporary format for WBRN and its new brand “The New B98.7.” After a 10,000 songs-in-a-row launch, the station will feature Chadd and Kristi Thomas as its morning team, beginning Monday, February 6. The duo is well known in the market after years on Cox Media Group’s crosstown AC WWRM “Magic 94.9.” Kristi Thomas says, “Chadd and I are absolutely delighted to be part of creating a new radio station! We are excited about our new home for our special brand of radio in Tampa Bay, which is a place we cherish and where we have chosen to raise our family!” Beasley EVP of programming Justin Chase adds, “For nearly two decades, Chadd & Kristi have developed a deep relationship with the Tampa listening audience and we are thrilled they decided to join us in the process of building a new and great AC brand in the market.”
Johnnie D. Upped to PD of WGCI, Chicago. In Chicago, iHeartMedia promotes WGCI and WVAZ assistant program director Johnnie D. to program director for WGCI. iHeartMedia Chicago director of urban programming Derrick Brown says, “Johnnie has made a significant impact since joining WGCI in 2015. His passion and vision for our brand has enhanced our signature concert events like Big Jam and Summer Jam, plus his work in helping launch the city’s only live-and-local urban morning show has made the ‘Chicago Morning Takeover’ a dominant force in the market. It’s a pleasure to recognize Johnnie’s hard work with this promotion and it certainly comes with great expectations as he manages all facets of the 107.5 WGCI-FM brand.”
Radio One Jumps on CHR Opportunity in Houston. With CBS RADIO’s move away from CHR on KKHH to adult hits, Radio One’s only other CHR competition for KROI “92.1 RADIO NOW” will be Cumulus Media’s KRBE. A format change for KROI was not unexpected after Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins recently commented that classic hip hop and R&B is not a “sustainable format.” The station is being programmed by cluster operations manager Terri Thomas, who says, “The ‘New 92.1 Radio Now’ will reflect emerging music, trends and culture for the NOW generation of 18-34 year old millennials here in Houston.” Radio One senior vice president of programming Jay Stevens adds, “We’re excited about this opportunity to bring a fresh innovative approach to top 40 radio in H-Town.”
KBAY, San Jose Names Bruce Scott Morning Host. Former KOST, Los Angeles personality Bruce Scott joins Alpha Media as morning drive host for classic hits KBAY, San Jose, effective January 17. Alpha Media VP of programming and “Bay FM” program director Ronnie Stanton states, “It’s very exciting to add Bruce to the refreshed sound of ‘Bay FM.’ He brings years of experience and a great radio brain to create an upbeat and fun morning show with the greatest hits of all time for the Bay Area.”
Entercom’s Furst Choice to Program KC Talk Combo. Self-described “freelance programming advisor/consultant” Alan Furst is tapped to program Entercom Kansas City siblings KMBZ-AM “Talk 980” and KMBZ-FM “News/Talk 98.1.” Entercom Kansas City vice president and market manager Dave Alpert remarks, “We are very pleased to welcome Alan. He brings with him a wealth of experience, possesses a passion for the on-air product, and a passion for winning.” Furst – who begins his new duties next Monday (2/15) – comments that he is “very excited to join one of the truly great news talk brands, KMBZ.” He went on to thank Alpert and Entercom president of programming Pat Paxton “for the opportunity to be part of the outstanding staff at Entercom Kansas City. I look forward to helping both stations continue to grow.” Prior to opening his programming consultancy in October 2014, Furst spent nearly two years as program director of Radio One Houston’s KROI. His varied resume includes hands-on operations manager and PD experience at San Antonio country and CHR duo KAJA “KJ-97” and KXXM “Mix 96”; WLW, Cincinnati; and WIBC, Indianapolis. In addition, he was senior vice president of content for DMX Music; Cumulus Media’s country format director; group program director for the Australian Radio Network; senior vice president of programming for Clear Channel, AMFM, and Capstar Broadcasting; national program director for NewCity Communications; and a programming consultant for Shane Media Services. Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s “Holiday” 2015 PPM report, both KMBZ-FM (3.3, #14) and KMBZ-AM (2.6, #18) were down one-half share from December 2015.
Howard Tuuri Named VP/GM for Genesis Communications. Radio executive Howard Tuuri joins Genesis Communications to serve as vice president and general manager for the company’s four Florida stations – news/talk WWBA, Tampa; sports talk WHBO, Tampa; Spanish WMGG, Tampa; and sports talk WHOO, Orlando – as well as its two Internet publications. Tuuri, who will report to Genesis president and CEO Bruce Maduri, previously served with Cox Media Group as a VP/GM for its Tampa operations. Maduri states, “Howard’s background and quality of experience are a tremendous fit for our organization. He has been a valuable member of our Leadership Team, and this appointment confirms our commitment to grow and realize the vision of a truly integrated media content company.”
The Presidential Race, Low Oil Prices/Financial Markets Activity, Battle Against Islamic State/Syrian Civil War, North Korean Missile Launch, Zika Virus, and Super Bowl 50 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/8). Today’s New Hampshire primary and the activities of the candidates for president; low oil prices and the effects on the world’s financial markets; the battle against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the effects of the ongoing Syrian civil conflict; North Korea’s weekend launch of a satellite missile; concerns over a potential pandemic of the Zika virus; and Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 and controversy over the Doritos commercial were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
RAB/Borrell: Radio Digital Revenue to Rise 14%. According to a study by Borrell Associates on behalf of the Radio Advertising Bureau, the radio industry’s digital ad revenue rose 11.4% in 2015 to more than $550 million. The study also predicts radio’s digital revenue will improve by 16% this year. This fourth annual report is titled, “Benchmarking: Local Radio Stations’ Online Revenues,” and concludes the average market cluster made $951,756 in digital sales last year, with the average station making $231,210. Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell summarizes, “All signs point to the radio industry mobilizing even more in the interactive space. Eighty-two percent believe there is strong potential – the highest we’ve ever seen; 62% believe that their sales teams’ ability to sell digital products is solid – up from 52% a year ago; and 37% believe their digital strategy is headed in the right direction – up from 27%.” The full study is available to RAB members, but here are some of the juicier takeaways: One-third of stations surveyed believe their sales reps are talking to the wrong buyers when trying to sell digital products. Three years ago, two-thirds believed that was the case; Only 16% believe that radio sales suffer because reps are forced to sell digital advertising. That’s down significantly since 2014, when more than half felt that way; Conversely, 24% believe that digital sales suffer because reps focus on radio advertising. Three years ago, twice as many felt that way; And the average radio cluster received 0.26% of all locally spent Internet advertising. There were some, however, achieving 15 times that – up to nearly 4%. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “Digital continues to be radio’s fastest growing sector. Stations that are laser focused on increasing revenue beyond their core broadcast business are experiencing the benefits. The results from this study provide us with insights of where efforts are paying off and what additional training is needed for radio to continue with this trajectory. The RAB is here to help with that knowledge and training.”
Service King and Motel 6 Win Westwood One Super Bowl Sound Awards. This was the third annual Westwood One Super Bowl Sound Awards designed to recognize excellence in audio creativity and celebrate brand advertisers and radio creative. Westwood One asked listeners to vote on their favorite audio commercials airing in the Westwood One Super Bowl 50 broadcast. In addition, Westwood One commissioned a Nielsen study of 3,030 consumers who rated all 45 commercials on a series of key attributes. Listeners voted for Service King’s “Mission 2 Hire” ad as their favorite Super Bowl commercial. The ad promotes Service King’s Mission 2 Hire program, which is dedicated to hiring 500 veterans at Service King locations around the country. Hear the ad here: http://thesoundawards.com/service-king/. Motel 6 was rated the most likeable ad in the Westwood One-commissioned Nielsen study. The brand’s “Designer Dogs” ad features long-time Motel 6 narrator Tom Bodett, who promotes Motel 6’s great rooms and low rates while poking fun at trendy dog breeds with silly names. The Motel 6 ad also received top consumer ratings for relevance, engagement, and memorability. Here is a link to hear the ad: http://thesoundawards.com/motel-6-3/.
Shane Succumbs to Cancer. Chief executive officer of Houston-based Shane Media Services, and publisher of the music magazine Best in Texas – Ed Shane – has lost his battle against colon cancer. Shane and his wife/business partner/former country programmer (KILT, Houston, WIL, St. Louis) Pam Shane revealed his diagnosis on social media less than four weeks ago (2/24). In that posting, Pam Shane noted, “This will be an interruption for Ed and me during the next few months. Shane Media clients are aware of this, and know that I will be keeping their projects moving forward. We appreciate the support from friends and colleagues at this difficult time.” Outpouring of sympathy and exceptionally kind comments permeated social media. For example, renowned sports broadcaster (Boston Red Sox radio play-by-play, among others) Jerry Trupiano declares Shane was, “a true giant in the industry and one of the best people I ever worked with.” Among the many others “heartbroken” to hear the news of Shane’s passing is CBS Radio country KFRG “K-Frog,” Riverside on-air talent Heather Froglear, who comments, “We were so fortunate to have [him] on our team for many years. I will be forever grateful for [his] guidance on the air. He always encouraged this young gal just starting in country radio. I considered [him] a mentor – but mostly a friend. My heart goes out to Pam and the rest of Ed’s friends and family. You will be missed – terribly.” Longtime group program director Frank Bell recollects that during his tenure at Keymarket/Sinclair, “Ed Shane helped us launch many great country stations, including KFRG; WGGY, Wilkes Barre-Scranton; and WOGY, Memphis. His handiwork in news-talk helped shape the sound of WWL, New Orleans; WBEN, Buffalo; and WLAC-AM, Nashville. Ed’s clarity of thought made him a welcome addition to every conference call and strategic planning meeting. He was one of those rare consultants who ‘talked the talk’ and ‘walked the walk.’ In Texas terms, he wore a big hat and had lots of cattle. Thoughts and prayers today go out to his life and business partner, Pam, and that talented group of Shane Media programmers, both past and present.” Distinguished programmer Ed Scarborough (Lieblick) declares, “We have lost a true ‘gentle’ man. Condolences to Pam and Ed’s family, and to Ed’s extended family. He touched many lives and leaves a wonderful legacy.” According to Brent Clanton, “Ed gave me my first job in Radio at Paul Taft‘s KODA, Houston and he taught me so much more than the business. I was privileged to work with him on two [Houston] start-ups, KIKK-AM ‘Business Radio 650’ with the equally-legendary Dickie Rosenfeld, and more recently, the launch of Radio One‘s ‘News 92 FM’ [KROI]. Ed was a gentleman, a perfectionist, and was always thinking ahead on ways to make a radio station’s product better. He made me a better broadcaster, and planted in me an appreciation of how to bring up the next generation of radio professionals.” Intersat‘s manager of media product strategy (and former programmer) Chuck Dickemann comments, “Ed’s influence on me and my career went far beyond broadcast and radio. His support, confidence, and mentorship permeated everything I did. Beyond that, he was a friend – a true friend.” Programmer John Roberts mentions that, “Ed was a pro’s pro for sure, but more importantly, he was simply a great guy. Plenty of people in radio, including me, owe significant career steps to Ed & Pam’s generous advice and help. Stories about change in our business, real or perceived, seem to hit us between the eyes daily. The idea of consultant Ed Shane not being around is one legit ‘change’ I wish we did not have to face.” Mardit Media Consulting president Barry Mardit notes that Shane was a “familiar face at CRS. He always greeted me with a warm smile and a hearty handshake. I always looked forward to our brief chats as well as his in-depth presentations. The consummate professional and true champion who so believed in the power of radio. Ed was a vast storehouse of the knowledge and expertise needed to harness and unleash its full potential. Our industry has lost a giant and those who have known Ed have lost a giant of a friend.” SeniorNet Dallas president Dan Halyburton states, “Ed Shane was a great radio man and a good friend. Ed played an important role in the efforts at KPLX, Dallas in the 1990s to fight one of the toughest country battles ever. His knowledge and commitment to winning were unequaled. Ed always had such energy and presence.” Country consultant Joel Raab notes, “Ed Shane was a great guy and solid professional. He was always generous with his thoughts and advice. He gave me lots of encouragement – even though we were competitors. For that I will always be grateful.” Ron Parker recalls that his “very first radio job was at WPLO-FM, Atlanta and Ed was the operations manager of the station for Plough – thoughts and prayers to Pam and the Shane family.” Ed Shane – who founded Shane Media in 1977 – entered hospice care early this past week. He previously was station manager of Houston’s KRBE and programmed talk KTRH in that market. He also was the former program director of KKDJ, Los Angeles (now iHeartMedia CHR KIIS), as well as a number of other major market stations.
Salem Communications Posts Q4 2013 Revenue Increase of 3.4%; Broadcast Up 1%. Digital was the key to Salem Communications’ 2013 fourth quarter revenue increase of 3.4% for the company as a whole. The broadcast sector was up 1% on revenue of $47.4 million and broadcast makes up about 60% of the company’s revenue. The company’s publishing sector was flat while internet and e-commerce was up 16.6%. Salem’s outlook for the first quarter of 2014 projects “total revenue to increase 9% to 11% over the first quarter 2013 total revenue of $55.6 million. The company is also projecting operating expenses before gains or losses on the sale or disposal of assets, impairments and stock-based compensation expense to increase 13% to 16% as compared to the first quarter of 2013 operating expenses of $48.2 million. This guidance includes the impact of the hiring of two new senior executives and the financial performance for the recent acquisition of Eagle Publishing. The guidance for the first quarter contemplates a loss of $0.4 million due to the assumption of some unfavorable contracts that will rapidly unwind and the fact that the first quarter is always a soft quarter in the book publishing business with the big titles being released in the spring and in the fall.”
Nielsen Study Ties Station Choice to Buying Behavior. In a release from Nielsen about its recent major market pilot test, the company says that “for the first time, a connection can be drawn between what consumers listen to on the radio and how they spend. This solidifies radio’s place as a valuable marketing platform for advertisers and media planners. The major market pilot test combined proprietary Nielsen data with anonymized panelist credit and debit card purchasing behavior covering more than 24 billion transactions and $2 trillion in annual sales primarily from the retail, travel, digital, restaurant, entertainment, financial services and telecom categories.” Results from the Dallas market, for example, show that listeners to pop radio spend more per buyer annually on casual dining than those listeners who prefer other formats. In the same market, rock and alternative listeners spend more per buyer annually in retail locations than listeners who prefer other formats. News/talk listeners, the study showed, go to the movies more each year that do listeners of other formats. Nielsen SVP of local media product leadership Farshad Family says, “The ability to determine how radio listeners among different formats like pop, news or rock are spending their dollars creates a unique opportunity for radio broadcasters to make a case for the value of their audience. We are just beginning to tell the story about the value of radio’s audience. As we make progress on conducting more links between listening data and purchase data, we will continue to share more insights with the marketplace.”
Ordway’s ‘Big Show Unfiltered’ to Begin Next Month. Longtime Boston sports talk radio host Glenn Ordway is returning with a daily, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm program (“Big Show Unfiltered”), which will be heard via his SportstalkBoston.com website and on mobile devices. “I am so thrilled to once again be talking local sports in my hometown with the best fans in America,” comments Ordway, who presided over “The Big Show” for 27 years on Entercom-owned Boston sports outlet WEEI. “I look forward to presenting an alternative in the market that will feature the best of the past with some new, innovative elements and voices. There is no reason to hold anything back anymore – it is all unfiltered.” The renamed “Big Show Unfiltered” is set to begin in about two weeks (Monday, March 17) and it will include similar components from his WEEI program, such as “The Whiner Line.” It is believed that down the road, Ordway is planning to have his program air on a terrestrial radio network comprised of New England affiliates. Boston native Mike Salk, who co-hosted a program on Seattle’s KIRO-AM since 2009, replaced Ordway in afternoon drive on WEEI-FM alongside Michael Holley. Ordway’s final show on WEEI-FM was in mid-February of last year.
Logan Exits Shane Media. Stating on his Facebook page that he thought he’d “spend the rest of my working days in this chair at Shane Media,” Lee Logan says the fiscal realities of the industry have him exiting the consulting company and looking for his next great opportunity. Logan had been with Shane for the past seven years and was instrumental in assisting Radio One put its all-news format on KROI, Houston “News 92 FM.”
Freedom’s Voice Broadcasting to Purchase Dark KPTO, Pocatello for $75K. The principal of Freedom’s Voice Broadcasting is Tim Aalders who hosts the “Freedom’s Voice” talk show heard on United Broadcasting Company’s KTKK, Salt Lake City. Ted Austin’s Main Street Broadcasting is the seller for the signal that is currently dark. Aalders plans to expand the reach of his programming into the southeastern Idaho market. This is no announced timetable for KPTO going back on the air.
If Weekends Were Weekdays? Hey, They Are! That so many talk-formatted stations air infomercials on weekends is not news – nor is the programming-versus-sales paradigm so prevalent at many of these stations. Media consultant Walter Sabo says a little-known truth in the business is that Saturday midday is an indicative daypart and the second highest Homes Using Radio daypart. What could this mean to your talk station? Read Walter Sabo’s latest column here to find out.
Odds & Sods. The New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programs announces the appointment of Michael Freedman, senior vice president and professor at University of Maryland University College to the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards Advisory Board and GrandJury panel. NYF executive director Rose Anderson comments, “Michael Freedman brings over 35 years of broadcast journalism experience to his role as Advisory Board and GrandJury member. His creative vision and reputation within the industry will be a tremendous asset.”…..ESPN O&O WEPN-AM, New York “ESPN Deportes Nueva York” will continue to air New York Mets play-by-play in Spanish as the team and rights owner Clear Channel (English-language games will be heard on WOR) agree to continue the broadcasts through the 2016 season…..Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington announces the addition of an entertainment section to its WTOP.com site with WTOP.com staffer Alicia Lozano named editor for the section. Director of digital media John Meyer comments, “As WTOP evolves into a digital news operation, we are continuing to dedicate resources to original digital content that will feed not only our website but also our radio and mobile platforms. The Washington area is rife with local stories concerning the arts, music, movies and more. Our entertainment section will bring these stories to life online and on-air.”…..Media consultant Holland Cooke (pictured above at left in the WABC, New York studios with host Laura Smith) is appearing on WABC, New York this weekend on “Saturday Café with Laura Smith.” Cooke, who also blogs at his SurvivalSpeech.com, will offer “9 Tips For YOUR Academy Awards Acceptance Speech.”
The Media Roundtable. TALKERS and RadioInfo sales and marketing specialist Al Herskovitz (standing) was a recent speaker at the Media Roundtable in Sarasota, Florida. His subject was “The Current State of Radio Broadcasting.” The Media Roundtable conducts a monthly meeting that brings together media executives and active participants from all types of media: radio, TV, cable, internet, newspapers, magazines, publishing, motion pictures, theatre arts. The purpose of the group is to review current and future news and developments in the media with an interchange of opinions and questions by those in attendance. The Media Roundtable originated in 1950 in New York City and moved to Florida in 1991 and is unique in the United States. It currently is chaired and managed by longtime TV executive Irwin Starr. While there are some 300+ active members, the luncheon sessions are limited to the first 50 who make reservations. Pictured here with Herskovitz are Starr at far left and media broker Burt Sherwood, second from left.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Envision Networks-syndicated “America Weekend” talk show featuring Paul Harris, Turi Ryder, Rob Carson and other personalities, is added to the program schedule at Ohana Media Group’s KAST, Astoria, Oregon.
‘Religious Rights’ Legislation Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 24-28. The story of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s veto of a “religious rights” bill that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against customers based on religious beliefs was the most-talked-about issue of the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act. Following at #3 was the political unrest in Crimea and Ukraine and the U.S.-Russia tensions accompanying it. And at #4 was the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton’s prospects and the looming mid-term elections this fall. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
More Q2 News from Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey. Yesterday TALKERS reported Cumulus Media’s second quarter revenue figures and the fact that Lew Dickey largely avoided the Rush Limbaugh–Sean Hannity flap by saying he wouldn’t discuss it because they are still in contract negotiations. He addressed other topics TALKERS readers may be interested in: those 10 “code red” stations (big news/talkers bringing down the rest of the company); the health of the CBS Sports Radio Network project for which Cumulus is handling affiliate and ad sales; and the state of network talk programming. First, Dickey told investors the number of “code red” stations is down from 10 to 1 but didn’t specify which station still lags. Second, he states the CBS Sports Radio format is on 300 affiliate stations and is exceeding its revenue plans. “We’re highly encouraged by our early success and expect CBS Sports Radio to be a material growth driver for our company in 2014 and beyond.” And third, addressing the state of the Cumulus Media Networks (which includes syndicated talk – Huckabee, Savage, “Red Eye Radio” – as well as a lot of music programming) Dickey reports it’s been a bit “choppy” but he sees it settling down. “It grew for us in the second quarter and we look for it to be positive in the back half of the year. It’s a pretty fragmented space that ultimately begs for more consolidations… it did turn in a positive performance for us in second quarter.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can see the entire conference call here.
Wall Street Journal Radio Network Executive Director Nancy Abramson to Exit Post. Radio management pro Nancy Abramson tells TALKERS the company is reorganizing its management structure and she is moving on. She says she’ll remain with the company through mid-September to assist with the transition. As for the rest of the staff with which the industry is familiar, Abramson says the affiliate team of Susan O’Connell and Susan Moran will continue to service the affiliates of “The Wall Street Journal Report,” “The Wall Street Journal This Morning,” “The Dow Jones Money Report” and “MarketWatch.com Reports.” John Wordock and Patrice Sikora will continue to oversee the news product for The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch.com Radio Networks. Abramson says she is excited about new opportunities and looking forward to the next adventure. Abramson has served with WSJRN since 1996.
Greater Media Promotes Jake McCann to Director of Sales for Detroit Stations. Jake McCann moves from Greater Media’s Philadelphia stations where he was general sales manager at sports talk WPEN “97.5 The Fanatic” and classic rock WMGK. In Detroit he’ll be in charge of sales for rock WRIF, classic rock WCSX and currently-AC-but-rumored-to-soon-be sports talk WMGC. The fact that McCann has experience selling sports talk could be part of the reason McCann is making this move if, as expected, WMGC flips to sports in August. In a statement, Greater Media Detroit market manager Steve Chessare says, “Jake is the right person to lead our three station sales operation in the Motor City. His passion, dedication and leadership are exactly what we need to take our three outstanding radio properties to the next level.”
Radio One Gives Up on FM Sports in Cincinnati. After seven months, WCFN, Cincinnati “FM 100.3 The Fan” has let go most of its staff, cut ties with CBS Sports Radio Network and flips back to an urban oldies format as “Old School 100.3.” The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports that production manager Rob Williams was the only staffer to survive the change. Tom Gamble, Richard Skinner, Will Chambers, Chad Brendel, Rick Ucchino, Rick Broering, Jeremy Lance, former Reds pitcher Joe Price, and Steve Harris all exited the station on Tuesday morning. Richard Skinner, who hosted “Two Angry Guys” along with Tom Gamble, tells Kiesewetter he’s not angry about the change, “Radio is so cyclical, that you know your time is coming (to get fired). They (Radio One) didn’t seem to have a plan of attack, and they’re pulling the format at a time of the year when all the people are listening for football and baseball.” Clear Channel operates two sports talk stations in the market – WSAI, a Fox Sports Radio affiliate and WCKY, which uses ESPN Radio programming – both of which air largely national shows.
Holland Cooke: Radio from the Newspaper. Radio consultant Holland Cooke adds to the discussion about newspapers entering into the digital talk radio streaming business that’s been a major part of industry chatter in the wake of the Boston Herald’s announcement about the creation of Boston Herald Radio coming Monday, August 5. Cooke has experience in this arena and he offers advice to publications considering the move. Among some dos and don’ts: don’t separate the studio from the newsroom (the sound of busy reporters is crucial!); don’t assume good reporters make good talk hosts; do promote you’re emanating from a storied newsroom; and do make content available for download and later playback. Read Holland Cooke’s entire piece here.
‘News 92 FM’ and ‘Yahoo Sports Radio 1560’ in Houston Agree to Content Sharing Deal. Radio One’s all-news KROI and Gow Media’s sports talk KGOW in Houston agree to a content sharing deal that will have KROI producing newscasts for KGOW and the latter producing sports updates and actualities for KROI. Here’s how it will work: Beginning in early August, “News 92 FM” reporters will provide hourly, short-form news updates to “Yahoo Sports Radio 1560,” initially for use on nights and weekends, and ramping up to a full broadcast schedule shortly thereafter. In like manner, “Yahoo Sports Radio 1560” reporters will provide sports updates and actualities twice per hour for integration into the “News 92 FM” broadcast clock between 7:00 pm and midnight daily, and from 6:00 am to noon on weekends. Radio One RVP Doug Abernethy and Gow Media CEO David Gow began discussing the possibility earlier this year. Abernethy states, “Research suggests that news and sports stations have shared listener bases. So this makes sense for both stations. We have the best newsgathering and reporting resources in the city, and ‘Yahoo Sports Radio 1560’ enjoys an equivalent reputation in the world of sports. We’re leveraging our respective strengths so that the ‘News 92 FM’ listener can get a quick sports update from ‘Yahoo Radio 1560,’ and their listeners can get top-flight news from ‘News 92 FM.’”
ZWERLING: The Smartest Programming Move I Ever Made for My Radio Stations. You might be surprised to learn which syndicated host turned out to be so spectacularly successful for outspoken, independent radio station owner Michael L. Zwerling at his widely admired AM combo of KSCO and KOMY, Santa Cruz, California that he felt compelled to share it with the entire industry. Then again, you might not. Find out the answer and more in a new exclusive TALKERS opinion piece posted today (7/31) by clicking here.
‘Broadway Joe’ Joins Sports USA for Weekly Podcast. Sports USA announces NFL great Joe Namath will join the company to produce a weekly podcast for the company during the 2013 football season. Sports USA president Bob Moore says Namath’s podcast will begin in the middle of August and run through this year’s Super Bowl. Moore states, “It doesn’t get bigger than Joe Namath! Joe is extremely passionate about football and his insights are amazing. This podcast will give him the platform to reach all of his fans across the country and beyond.” Namath comments, “I’m thrilled to join the Sports USA team with my new weekly podcast. I look forward to expressing my opinions on both the NFL and college football each week from the beginning of the season all the way through the Super Bowl.”
WTKS, Orlando’s Russ Rollins to Face Bubba the Love Sponge in Wrestling Match. Yes, you read that right. As you see in the poster here, it’ll take place at the Arena Bowl in Orlando on August 17 and feature “The Monsters” vs “Bubba’s Army” as Russ Rollins & The Demon take on Bubba the Love Sponge & Kevin Nash with Marc Mero as a special guest referee. Rollins tells TALKERS it’s the “Battle of the #1 morning shows!” and pits Clear Channel against Cox Media in front of 15,000 to 16,000 screaming fans!
2016 Presidential Race, Weiner Sexting Scandal, NSA Surveillance Program, ObamaCare Implementation, and Bradley Manning Verdict Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/30). The possible candidates in the 2016 presidential election; the ongoing backlash from the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal; new developments in the NSA surveillance program case; the costs of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; and the verdict against Bradley Manning in the Wikileaks case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Don Wade and Roma Won’t Return to WLS, Chicago; Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft to AM Drive. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder broke the news late yesterday that longtime morning drive duo Don Wade and his wife Roma won’t return to the air at Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM, Chicago as they continue to focus on Don’s health. Wade had surgery in September to remove a cancerous brain tumor and treatment for the condition continues. In a statement via agent Eliot Ephriam, the couple said, “The daily stress of rising each day at midnight to prep for our 5:00 am show does not help the healing process. So we are choosing a different path and focusing on what’s really important for us right now.” Late morning hosts Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft have been filling in since Wade’s surgery and were permanently named to the AM drive post yesterday. Weekenders Jake Hartford and John Kass have been subbing in Wolf and Proft’s 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot and they assume the permanent roles there. Feder reports Cumulus COO John Dickey visited Chicago recently to meet with Ephriam about the Wades and was keen to get them back on the air. It’s widely believed that Don and Roma were a profitable program for WLS due to the high number of endorsement spots the show carried. In a statement, Dickey said, “Don and Roma are Chicago, and 27 years waking Chicago up is an amazing feat. The focus and strength it takes to do live radio every day on one of the world’s biggest stages will serve Don well as he continues to heal. We wish Don and Roma the best and will always keep a mic open for them.”
Todd Schnitt Exiting WFLA, Tampa? Not So Fast…Nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt – whose program is distributed by Compass Media Networks and since its inception in 2002 has been based at Clear Channel’s WFLA in Tampa – will remain based at WFLA after all. Schnitt had recently announced a deal with Clear Channel to remain in the PM drive slot there had not been achieved. But now, Schnitt and the company have come to terms. Clear Channel announces it has signed Schnitt to a new multi-year contract for his “top-rated” program. CC vice president of programming for Tampa Doug Hamand states, “We are thrilled to extend our relationship with Todd Schnitt and ‘The Schnitt Show.’” He is a staple of the community in Tampa Bay, broadcasting for more than 19 years with 11 of those on WFLA.” Schnitt gave up his AM drive CHR show on sister WFLZ (on which he was M.J. Kelli) earlier this year to focus on the PM drive talk show. On his new contract, Schnitt says, “I’m thrilled to announce my new, multi-year deal with Clear Channel Tampa. 970 WFLA has been The Schnitt Show’s home for 11 years. I really appreciate the outpouring of support from my loyal listeners.”
Programmer Alan Furst Heads to Radio One’s All-News KROI, Houston. Current WIBC-FM, Indianapolis PD Alan Furst is leaving the Emmis news/talker and heading back to Texas to program Radio One’s all-news KROI, Houston “News 92 FM.” Radio One flipped the station to all-news in the late summer of 2011 and it has been programmed by consultant Ed Shane and Radio One executive programmers. Furst, who has worked in Houston and previously worked with Ed Shane’s consulting firm, says he’s excited to get back. “I’m thrilled to return to Houston and join ‘News 92 FM.’ Radio One has put together a great team and the energy in the building is electric. We’re going to build something very big and very special that will become a force in the nation’s fourth largest city.”
Baseball Stations: Plan Now for Spring Training. Radio consultant Holland Cooke says that too few stations that carry their local MLB team establish a presence at their team’s Spring Training facility. “Smart baseball stations are cheerleaders, and really smart baseball stations start cheering a month before Opening Day, when every team is in 1st place.” Cooke writes that there are (at least) five very good reasons for jumping on this before the regular season starts, including some documented ratings upticks for stations that do get on board during Spring Training. Read his entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Spanish-speaking New York Mets fans will be served by ESPN O&O station “ESPN Deportes Nueva York 1050 AM” (WEPN) as the station will broadcast 150 regular season games, select exhibition season games and (should the unlikely happen) postseason games, in Spanish. ESPN New York’s David Roberts states, “Our commitment to serving the Hispanic sports fan is a top priority for our company. We are delighted to join forces with the Mets organization for this comprehensive and wide reaching opportunity.”…..CBS Radio O&O all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will begin airing the audio of CBS Television’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday, December 16. SVP/market manager Steve Swenson states, “Each week, CBS News and ’60 Minutes’ bring to life incredible investigative pieces, interviews, and features that are renowned all across the world. Many local residents find themselves in a car traveling home on Sunday evenings not able to watch the program on WUSA-9. With this simulcast we can provide listeners with access to their favorite news program.”….. Actor, author, former “Dancing with the Stars” champ and retired U.S. Army soldier, J.R. Martinez, ventures into the world of talk radio as he fills in from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm today on KFI, Los Angeles for the vacationing Bill Carroll.
Are You Prepared for the End of the World? No, the editors of TALKERS do not actually believe that next Friday, December 21 will be the end of the world, regardless of what the Mayan calendar says or doesn’t say – or where the sun will be in relationship to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. But we DO believe that this topic will be one of great interest next week in terms of pop cultural fodder and will be in the news in a variety of ways that will run from the serious to the silly, encompassing science (astronomy), parapsychology (astrology), history, politics and conspiracy theory — all of which make for juicy entertainment. According to well-known radio-friendly psychic healer Kathleen Milner, the coming long-anticipated date will NOT mark the end of the world, but rather the end of a dark age in human events and the beginning of a golden one. Talk show hosts and music format morning gabbers should be prepared for the end of the world by booking people like Ms. Milner and others to spice up on-air conversation. After all it is a once every 26,000 years opportunity! Kathleen Milner can be phoned at 571-926-8158. For more information click here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Kate Delaney’s independently syndicated “America Tonight” program is added to the program schedule at KSCB, Liberal, Kansas.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ the Top Story on News/Talk Radio for Fourth Straight Week. The battle in Washington over solving the “fiscal cliff” issue was the most-talked-about-story on news/talk radio during the week of December 10-14, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was the Michigan “right to work” law controversy. At #3 was the Portland mall shootings followed by North Korea’s rocket test at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
Entercom News/Talk WRKO, Boston Picks Up Option on PM Drive Host Howie Carr. It was five years ago that Boston talk radio king Howie Carr had negotiated what was reported at the time to be a lucrative new deal to host morning drive on Greater Media’s crosstown WTKK, Boston after 13 years with WRKO. But WRKO laid claim to Carr’s services via language in his contract, a legal battle ensued and Entercom came out victorious, winning Carr’s services for another five years plus an option to have him even longer. Today, Entercom announces it is picking up that option. Entercom Boston VP of programming Jason Wolfe states, “Howie Carr is a Boston radio legend and I’m looking forward to having him continue to anchor afternoon drive. This is a great day for our listeners, affiliates and advertisers, and I’m excited that we’ve extended our relationship.” At the time of Carr’s attempt to join Greater Media five years ago, he made no bones about wanting to break away from WRKO, but that was before the recession hit and altered the marketplace for talk radio hosts – even ones with successful track records, loyal fans and satisfied advertisers. WRKO’s announcement states that in picking up Carr’s option, he’ll remain with the station “for the foreseeable future.”
CBS Radio Debuts Tampa FM Sports Outlet 98.7 The Fan. The flip from Hot AC to sports talk on WSJT, Tampa happened at 12:00 noon yesterday (8/2) and the lineup was announced at a press conference at the University of South Florida Sun Dome. The program schedule is: former Baltimore and Washington, DC personality Kirk McEwen alongside former Tampa Bay Lightning player Chris Dingman in AM drive; Tampa Bay Times columnist Gary Shelton and Justin “The Commish” Pawlowski (who is a carry-over from AM 1010 Sports format) are teamed up for the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm shift; for PM drive, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Anthony “Booger” McFarland and Yahoo! Sports Radio and ESPN alum Todd Wright co-host; in evenings, former MLB Network and Tampa Bay Rays air talent Rich Herrera hosts from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm and in the overnight slot, it’s Fabulous Sports Babe Nanci Donnellan. At the press conference, CBS Tampa market manager Ben Hill announced the station would also serve as flagship for University of South Florida play-by-play. Mike Pepper is programming the station and producer Jerry Petuck is serving as assistant program director.
Industry Eyes on Atlanta as CBS Radio Prepares to Launch FM Sports Outlet. This week’s announcement that CBS Radio is flipping Triple A WZGC, Atlanta to sports talk in late September or early October has industry watchers speculating about what talent will fill the program schedule. CBS’ modus operandi is to go live and local and that will be the case in major market Atlanta. Rumors are already starting to circulate that programming architects are shooting for some “big talent” – at least some of whom will be considered to have “celebrity” status.
CBS Radio Reports Revenue Down 2%. CBS Corporation held its quarterly conference call yesterday to discuss results of Q2 2012 and talk about the future. CFO and EVP Joseph Ianniello reported revenue for the radio group was down 2%. “The radio revenue comparison was affected by the sale of the West Palm Beach radio cluster, which closed on April 1. Radio revenue for our top 10 markets was flat for the quarter. Local broadcasting OIBDA of $248 million was up 8%. And the OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) margin grew 2 percentage points to 35% driven by growth in high-margin revenue and lower programming costs.” Addressing the radio end, CEO Les Moonves stated, “At our radio stations, we remain focused on the formats that are performing best, especially news and sports. We’re particularly excited about the upcoming launch of our new CBS Sports Radio network, which right out of the gate, when we debut in January, will be the largest major-market sports radio network in the nation, with outlets in nine of the top 10 markets. This 24/7 network of sports radio stations will feature both national and local content and leverage the resources of CBS Sports, our CBS Sports Network, cable channel and content from our existing local sports radio stations.” Ianniello added, “The CBS Radio network, the sports radio — the radio sports business is probably $150 million market. So we’re going to be large coming right out of the gate so it’s all incremental. It’s not in dollars we play in today at the local segment, so we expect to gain our fair share of that…there’s very little incremental cost for us. A lot of the talent and the content, we’re already producing, so this made a whole lot of sense for us. And with the outlook with Cumulus, we do think it is a fantastic partnership with great content and great distribution. So we do expect some upside, again, starting in 2013.”
Radio One Will Be Patient with Houston All-Newser. Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins says, “We still believe the #6 radio market can support one all-news station.” Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports Liggins is bullish on the station it flipped from gospel last fall noting that, in that format, KROI was billing just $4 million a year and doing $2 million in cash flow on a facility for which the company paid $72 million. News 92 FM has been hovering around a 1-share persons 6+ in the Arbitron PPM ratings. Liggins says his consultant on the station believes ratings should start to rise above the 1-share mark in 2013.
“Sports Biz Today” Debuts on Business TalkRadio Network August 6. Host Fred Wallin and co-hosts Howard Bloom, Beth Silverberg and JB Kaye return to Business TalkRadio Network with their “Sports Biz Today” program that leans heavy on the business aspect of the sports industry. The program airs daily at 7:00 pm ET. Fred Wallin says, “In the past few years our sports industry has grown and grown and we want to make ‘Sports Biz Today’ the place where fans, and those in the business, can get together.” BTRN states, “Sports are big business, whether it’s the multi-million dollar contracts signed by players or the marketing and advertising behind the teams. Fans will be talking to Fred Wallin about money, events and people that make up the exciting world of sports.”
CRN Digital Talk Radio Launches Weekend Show for Future Hollywood Stars. It’s called “Breaking In with Rick and Jeff,” and features Hollywood pros Rick Shoemaker and Jeff Maxwell who’ll give aspiring filmmakers, actors, musicians and others a chance to learn what it takes to make it in Tinseltown. The program airs live Saturdays at 7:00 pm PT. Rick Shoemaker has served as president of Warner Chappell Music Publishing, where he helped develop the careers of such artists as Green Day, Sheryl Crow, Nickelback, Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Van Halen and many others. He later headed his own management firm that included clients like Loggins & Messina, Poco, Boz Scaggs, and others. Jeff Maxwell’s career began when he teamed up with a high school friend as part of a comedy duo that performed around the world for eight years. Ultimately, Maxwell would turn his attention to acting where he landed the role of Private Igor, the hapless mess cook on “M*A*S*H,” for nine years. In later years, Maxwell turned his attention to creating and developing a number of television shows and motion pictures.
Odds & Sods. New York City-based talk show host Steve Malzberg is unveiling his new video channel located on Spreecast.com – developed by the same company that founded StubHub.com. In one of Malzberg’s first productions, he interviews former Bush Administration defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld…..Georgia Beasley returns to her South Florida roots where she’ll take on the role of interactive sales manager for Beasley Broadcast Miami’s three stations that include sports talk WQAM. She spent the past year as GSM at the company’s WJBR, Wilmington, Delaware. Ms. Beasley is the granddaughter of Beasley chairman George Beasley…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Milwaukee cluster acquires the exclusive NFL and NCAA basketball play-by-play rights from provider Dial Global/Westwood One. CC has six stations in the market including news/talk WISN.
Rich Rapiti Exits Courtside Entertainment Group. Veteran affiliate sales executive Rich Rapiti is looking for his next opportunity as he leaves his senior director of affiliate relations position with Courtside Entertainment Group. Prior to working with Courtside, Rapiti worked in the affiliate relations department at Westwood One. He can be reached at 973-809-3049 or e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Presidential Campaign Returns to #1 Spot on the Talkers TenTM. The race for president in the 2012 election was the most-talked-about topic on news/talk radio during the week of July 30 – August 3. Coming in at #2 this week was the Chick-fil-A controversy. At #3 was a tie between the rising jobless claims and the Fed’s announcement it will take no immediate action to spur the economy. Following at #4 was the Texas Republican primary victory for the U.S. Senate seat by Tea Party-supported candidate Ted Cruz. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio in America according to ongoing research from Talkers. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck is now heard on KFXR, Dallas…..Cox Media’s Clark Howard is added to the program lineup at KARS, Belen, New Mexico…..The XtreMedia-produced Dani Johnson show is added to the on-air lineup at WNYM, New York; KMET, Riverside-San Bernardino; KFNX, Phoenix; KKVV, Las Vegas; and KPRZ, San Diego…..CBS Radio’s “Overnight America” with Jon Grayson is picked up by WGUL, Tampa-St. Petersburg and WLSS, Sarasota-Bradenton…..Dial Global’s feature “Ask Dr. Phil” is added to WDNY-AM and WDNY-FM, Rochester. The company’s “Daily Dose with Dr. Oz” joins the program schedule at KIVA, Albuquerque; KLIV, San Jose; and WLPO, LaSalle-Peru, Illinois…..The “Rose Hollywood Report” with Shannon Rose is picked up by WZTC, Traverse City, Michigan.
Severe Nor’easter Cuts Power to Millions in Northeast; Radio’s Response to Disaster a Mixed Bag. Many TALKERS readers are aware that the bulk of our editorial staff is based in Springfield, Massachusetts and we are smack dab in the middle of the massive power outages and road closures so many in the Northeast are dealing with in the wake of the Nor’easter that dumped more than a foot of wet snow on the region on Saturday. As the region digs out, deals with the tremendous amount of downed trees, and utilities crews work to get power back TALKERS editors have been able to do a preliminary analysis of how radio handled the storm and its aftermath. There were stations that did an exemplary job providing round-the-clock information about road closures, dangerous areas due to fallen trees and power outages. We must recognize CBS Radio’s WTIC, Hartford whose morning drive host Ray Dunaway manned the overnight Saturday on the air with meteorologist Joe Furey keeping listeners up to date. However, there were many stations and station clusters that – due to manpower issues, in many cases caused by previous decisions to cut staff – were able to provide little local content and defaulted to syndicated programming. It is times like these that it becomes tragically clear that – apart from some shining examples of excellent public service – most radio groups have surrendered radio’s position as the first destination for news and information in exchange for bottom-line efficiency.
WWNC, Asheville, North Carolina Talk Host Matt Mittan Exits. The popular local Asheville, North Carolina talk host may not have been part of the mandated staff cuts Clear Channel handed down last week. The Asheville Citizen-Times indicates it appears Matt Mittan left of his own accord, citing a statement from CC Asheville to that effect. Mittan is tight-lipped about his exit but Citizen-Times writer Jason Sandford hints it might have been done in protest of the cuts that affected his show and other co-workers in the cluster. Sandford goes on to compliment Mittan for the excellent work he’s done in the past handling public emergency situations that affected the station’s listenership.
Rush Limbaugh to Play Town Hall in NYC. Premiere Networks superstar Rush Limbaugh makes no bones about his disdain for New York City’s politician and public policies but he’s returning to the Big Apple for a live event on November 29 at the historic Town Hall on West 43rd Street. Dubbed “Rush Live,” tickets go on sale today at 12:00 noon for the 90-minute show. A press release from Cumulus’ WABC, New York states, “The last time El Rushbo visited his New York audience was in 2005 to a sold out crowd. While Rush isn’t bashful about criticizing New York politicians and tax policies, he jokes that he’s going ‘behind enemy lines’ because he loves his New York listeners and his flagship station.”
Radio One to Put All-News FM on in Houston. This is the first time Radio One has programmed an all-news format and they’re doing it with the help of consultant Ed Shane. Radio One will drop the gospel music on KROI-FM at 92.1 and debut “News 92 FM” around November 14. The station has reportedly hired a stable of news pros including the former crosstown KTRH morning news team of J.P. Pritchard and Lana Hughes. Denise Bishop has been tapped to serve as the news director.
WCBS, New York Inks the Yankees to One-Year Extension. MLB’s New York Yankees will remain on all-news WCBS, New York for the 2012 season. The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick speculates that the one-year deal gives the two sides time to explore a long-term deal but he also states that the Yankees’ $14 million-per-season pact has not been profitable. Whether CBS Radio views Yankees baseball as a cume-building loss leader or a drain on its finances may be answered if and when the two sides agree to a longer extension or the Yankees broadcasts come onto the open market.
WWRL, New York Adds LGBT-Targeted Programming. Access.1 Communications’ WWRL, New York adds programming called “Equality Pride Radio” to serve the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community. The programming airs from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight and debuts this evening (10/31) following the Al Sharpton program. WWRL general manager Adriane Gaines states, “WWRL 1600 has created ‘Equality Pride Radio,’ a media platform where the LGBT community will convey information and be celebrated for their ideas, energy and accomplishments. We take great pride in the culturally diverse audience we serve with our current liberal talk line-up. With the addition of ‘Equality Pride Radio,’ we further reinforce ‘RL’s format of informative and entertaining radio.”
Jim Ladd to Host “Farewell Show” on KFI, Los Angeles. Southern California radio legend Jim Ladd will get a chance to say goodbye to his many listeners this Saturday afternoon from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm – although not on Cumulus classic rock KLOS-FM from which he was let go last week. Ladd tells the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan that KFI program director Robin Bertolucci asked him to do the show to give him the chance to say goodbye. Regarding Ladd’s one-time show, Bertolucci says, “Jim is synonymous with great music and Southern California and I know a lot of his friends and fans want to connect with him. Jim is a legend and it will be an honor to hear him rock KFI.”
Clear Channel Promotes Keriann Worley to Market Manager for Melbourne, Florida and the Keys. Keriann Worley moves from her general sales manager post at Clear Channel’s West Palm Beach cluster to become market manager for the company’s Melbourne, Florida and Florida Keys markets. Worley says, “I’m really honored that Hartley Atkins and Sherri Sanchez chose me to lead our Melbourne and Florida Keys markets. It’s an exciting time to work at Clear Channel, and we have a tremendous opportunity to expand our market share with integrated solutions and iHeartRadio. I am fortunate to lead a team that will embrace and utilize all our resources for continued growth and development.”