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: email@example.com.
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.”