By Michael L. Zwerling
KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz
SANTA CRUZ — It was February 2009. KSCO-AM 1080, Santa Cruz-Salinas-Monterey-San Jose was being called by every radio syndicator in the country trying to bend our ear about taking their program to replace The Radio Factor with Bill O’Reilly who was terminating his daily syndicated radio program on Feb 27.
I had instructed our staff to inform such callers that the replacement would be live and local, which they did.
This information was met with both surprise and disbelief, because that was (and IS) certainly not the trend for local radio stations; in fact just the opposite was and is true. But at KSCO, we like to be different; and it helps to be located in a part of the world with more unusual, interesting, and FASCINATING characters per square inch than in any other part of the planet.
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.
Bill White Named PD at Journal’s ‘104.1 The Truth’ and ‘ESPN Tucson.’ Programming pro Bill White is the new program director at Journal Broadcast Group’s news/talk KQTH, Tucson “104.1 The Truth” and sports talk duo KFFN-AM/FM “ESPN Tucson.” Journal Tucson operations manager Shaun Holly says, “I am pleased to announce, after a long and exhaustive search, we have found the perfect program director for ‘104.1 The Truth’ KQTH and ‘ESPN Tucson’ 1490/1049fm KFFN-AM/FM and we are fortunate to add a team member with his talent and background of success.” Bill White comments, “I am thrilled to be joining Shaun Holly, vice president and general manager Jim Arnold and the talented team at ‘The Truth,’ ‘ESPN Tucson’ and Journal Broadcast Group/Tucson. Journal is a company committed to creating great local content through all media platforms: radio, TV, digital, and publishing. ‘The Truth’ and ESPN are strong brands and I am very excited to work with their talented lineup.” Bill White fills the programming slot left vacant when Ryan McCredden left to join CBS Radio Houston’s sports talk outlets KILT and KIKK. Upon learning of White’s appointment to this position, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison stated, “Journal has made a brilliant move landing Bill White for this position and the Tucson market, which is a wonderful place to live and work, as well all of radio, will be better off for it. In my opinion, Bill White is one of the finest programmers and individuals in radio today.”
Beasley 2013 Q2 Net Revenue Up 8.3%. A good quarter for Beasley Broadcast Group as the company announces second quarter net revenue was up 8.3% on revenue of $26.9 million (compared to $24.8 million during the same period a year ago) and same station net revenue rose 4.2%. Beasley notes that the increase “reflects strength in the company’s Philadelphia, Fayetteville and Las Vegas market clusters, including the acquisition of KOAS-FM in Las Vegas during the 2012 third quarter.” In a statement chairman and CEO George Beasley says, “Beasley Broadcast Group generated its fourth consecutive period of top line growth as second quarter net revenue rose 8.3% and same station net revenue increased 4.2%. The increase in second quarter revenue reflects strong national and digital revenue growth which contributed to strength in several market clusters including Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Ft. Myers and Augusta. Overall, for our five markets that report to Miller Kaplan — which represent approximately 75% of our total second quarter revenue – Beasley station clusters grew revenue by 8.4% while the total revenue for all reporting radio stations in these markets declined by 2.4% for the quarter. We attribute our out-performance to our organization-wide focus on strong core programming and targeted localism, both of which are contributing to the Company’s ratings strength in its markets. Notwithstanding the solid revenue growth, comparisons of our other financial metrics with the year-ago period are clouded due to the operating expense credit in last year’s second quarter, and certain charges in the 2013 second quarter including a loss on the early extinguishment of debt and a prepayment fee incurred in connection with the refinancing of our second lien debt. In addition, recent initiatives in the areas of sales, programming and the further expansion of our digital offerings are expected to drive long-term revenue growth, but are resulting in higher operating expenses on a short-term basis.”
KSCO, Santa Cruz Talk Host Ethan Bearman Gets Huge Visibility from Needle Exchange Controversy. Local talk show host Ethan Bearman raised his already skyrocketing profile in the Santa Cruz market even further after local TV station KION, Salinas (and other traditional news organizations) picked up on his efforts to get a better grasp of how the community feels about a controversial needle exchange program. Bearman, (pictured here during the KION news segment) says he believes there is a disconnect between the community and the authorities on the newest needle exchange program designed to deal with the large number of used needles being found throughout the community left by intravenous drug users. Bearman initiated his own unofficial Santa Cruz needle exchange survey online asking 10 questions of the public about the problem and the program. The Health Services Agency and the citizens group Take Back Santa Cruz both put Bearman’s survey on their websites to try to feel the public’s mood. Bearman says he’ll deliver the results to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors as well as the Santa Cruz City Council. The survey is closed and Bearman says he’ll have the results today (7/26). See the KION segment here.
Mark Panetta Launches Clear Riffles Marketing and Research Agency. Former DMR Interactive senior vice president of marketing strategy Mark Panetta (who spent 17 years with the Cincinnati-based strategic marketing consultancy) announces the launch of Clear Riffles – a new marketing and research agency. Panetta says the reason for building his new venture is that “companies who specialize in direct marketing for radio have been more focused on the vehicle and the destination than on the content they deliver. That is, they spend all their time on WHERE and HOW to advertise and little on WHAT TO SAY. Yet, in the most successful advertising campaigns of the recent decade – Apple vs. PC, The Geico Gecko, Target Stores rebranding, etc. – it’s the perfectly executed message that mattered most. Success is the result of developing a solid strategy based on understanding consumer perceptions and needs. When you get that right, powerful creative can follow. Where and how you advertise is then a matter of mechanics.” Panetta says Clear Riffles was founded to fill the creative void by designing radio marketing campaigns that truly connect radio stations with today’s listeners. He states this is accomplished with more emphasis on the creative process starting with proprietary research that illuminates current consumer views and attitudes. And he adds, “It’s the hard work others in our field are not set up or qualified to do.” Panetta can be reached at 470-239-3583 or emailed at Mark@ClearRiffles.com.
SiriusXM Reports Q2 2013 Numbers; Net Subscribers and Revenue Both Up. Satcaster SiriusXM reported second quarter figures for 2013 on Thursday, July 25 and CEO Jim Meyer said the company delivered more than 715,000 in net subscriber additions during the quarter to bring the company’s total paid subscriber tally over the 25 million threshold. Meyer also said the revenue for the quarter — $940 million – was up double digits. The company reports that factory-installed SiriusXM radios are now in 54.5 million automobiles and Meyer says he expects that figure to hit 100 million by the end of 2017. Regarding developing technology, Meyers stated, “We also continue to make significant progress in developing our next generation connected-car platform and in driving our Telematics business. During the second quarter we launched an in-car IP streaming app with Ford on the same platform. This feature enables Ford customers to have two-way services such as Sirius XM on-demand and personalized music through MyXM. It is a first step in creating an in-vehicle experience that harnesses both satellite and IT. Our effort with Ford is just the beginning and we are holding discussions with all of the major OEMs about including their app on their platforms. Ultimately, we believe that merging satellite and IP connectivity in the car will provide a superior service for subscribers.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. You can check out the entire call here.
Odds & Sods. NBC Sports Radio weekend personality Jason Page will broadcast from the 2013 Ahmad Rashad Celebrity Classic at Mohegan Sun Country Club in Pautipaug, Connecticut tomorrow (7/27) from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am on Sunday. The golf event has raised more than $500,000 for charity since its inception…..ESPN Radio’s popular podcast “His & Hers” featuring Michael Smith and Jemele Hill expands to a twice-per-week production with episodes now made available at ESPNRadio.com on Mondays and Thursdays…..Fox Sports Radio simulcasts “UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Moraga” on Saturday, July 27 from Key Arena in Seattle. Following the fights, mixed martial arts expert Larry Pepe will host a Fox Sports Radio wrap-up show with interviews and call-ins from 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm ET.
Filling In. Boston-based talk show host Jeff Katz sits in at Clear Channel’s WHAS, Louisville for a day when he guest hosts the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program on Monday, July 29…..WFED, Washington afternoon drive host Francis Rose fills in for Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated personality John Batchelor on his Sunday evening program on July 28.
Cool Job Opportunities. WestStar MultiMedia Entertainment’s Kim Komando show has two job opportunities available. First, the program is searching for seasoned National Sales Reps with experience in selling broadcast (radio and television) and digital online advertising. All interested candidates should send their resume to email@example.com. Second, The Kim Komando show is seeking an Experienced Television Producer. This is a new position being created. Candidate shall have a passion for broadcast programming plus a minimum of 5 years as a television show producer and /or assistant producer. To learn about this position and more you can send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. For all open positions you can check out http://www.komando.com/careers.
Cool Job Opportunity. Southwest Broadcasting is seeking a station manager for news/talk KYCA and beautiful music KAHM in Prescott, Arizona. Owner Lou Silverstein can be phoned at 928-445-7800 or emailed at email@example.com.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Radio America-syndicated “Behind the Curtain with Jack Burkman” announces the addition of KABC, Los Angeles; WTNT, Washington, DC; WFFG, Marathon, Florida; KTPA, and KXAR in Hope, Arkansas; KLEY, and KKLE in Wellington, Kansas; KSET, Beaumont, Texas; and WTIM-FM, Taylorville, Illinois begin carrying the program…..Genesis Communications Network-syndicated “Freedom Feens” featuring Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi is added to the program lineup at WPBQ, Jackson, Mississippi…..MMG Radio Network’s “The Pet Show” with Warren Eckstein adds affiliates: WFYL, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; KWAM, Memphis; KBTK, Flagstaff, Arizona; and WRHI, Charlotte.
Anthony Weiner Saga Tops Talkers TenTM. The trials and tribulations of New York City mayoral candidate and former congressman Anthony Weiner after new allegations of sexting and extramarital relationships were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of July 22-26. Coming in at #2 on the Talkers TenTM was the George Zimmerman verdict aftermath. At #3 was the implementation and promotion of the Affordable Care Act followed by the Detroit bankruptcy declaration at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio 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.
By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
NEW YORK — While conservative political talk radio still dominates the AM/FM commercial spoken word air waves, pharmacist Ben Fuchs proves syndication, and talk radio in general, can come in many forms. In the case of Fuchs, the host of the nationally syndicated Genesis Communications Network (GCN) radio program “The Bright Side,” he has become a thorn in the side of the pharmaceutical industry by becoming an advocate for better nutrition and a natural healing approach, because, as he says, “I look at the human body as a healing and regenerating system.”
By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
SANTA CRUZ, CA — The news/talk radio station in question is not owned by a hedge fund or multi-billion dollar conglomerate. Their ownership group doesn’t occupy the top floors of a big-city skyscraper. You will not see the morning or afternoon show brandishing seven-figure contracts, nor the corporate PD flying into town on the company Lear jet, or the “brand manager” moving from market to market implementing new strategies to grow the market cluster.
The fact of the matter is none of the above elements – which have become somewhat commonplace in today’s radio industry – at this station exist.
KSCO, Santa Cruz Is an Independent Talker that Flies in the Face of Corporatism. The news/talk radio station in question is not owned by a hedge fund or multi-billion dollar conglomerate. Nor is it in debt. Its ownership group doesn’t occupy the top floors of a big-city skyscraper. You will not see the morning or afternoon show brandishing seven-figure contracts, nor the corporate PD flying into town on the company Lear jet, or the “brand manager” moving from market to market implementing new strategies to grow the market cluster. The fact of the matter is none of the above elements – which have become somewhat commonplace in today’s radio industry – exist at this station. 10k KSCO (1080 AM) is located in Santa Cruz, California, in a neat stand-alone building (that also houses its smaller sister station KOMY 1340 AM – a facility that its owner uses as a developmental farm club) on a piece of land that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It would be the envy of any real estate developer in a town known for its college, its beach and boardwalk, liberalism, the state park land and forests that surround it, and is an 80-minute drive from San Francisco. KSCO is also one of the last “mom & pop” radio stations left in the United States. It has not only survived the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it has thrived despite consolidation based upon several key factors, including vision by its family ownership, a shocking format change by a chief competitor, along with a non-traditional revenue approach, and a solid and real commitment to a local audience. To understand KSCO, how it operates and its success, you have to understand the people who run the highly successful news/talk station. TALKERS correspondent Jeff McKay writes a special feature about a special station. To read it, click here.
Al Gardner Gone from WWIQ, Philadelphia Morning Show. At Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia “IQ 106.9,” morning co-host Al Gardner is out and, though TALKERS has not had a response yet to its inquiry from management about the move, chatter in the Philly radio scene is they want to take the morning show in a less “conservative” direction. Morning show co-host Lionel and news director Michelle Murillo are still listed on the station’s web page, but it’s unclear what the station’s plans are for the future of the daypart.
NBC Sports Radio and Dial Global Name McNabb and Malone PM Drive Hosts. Six weeks after teasing the former NFL quarterback would be part of the NBC Sports Radio Network 24/7 lineup, it’s announced Donovan McNabb, and another former NFL QB Mark Malone, will pair up for the network’s 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm program called, “Under Center with McNabb & Malone” beginning April 1. Mark Malone has been serving as an analyst for Dial Global Sports‘ Sunday afternoon NFL package and he also hosts “NFL Insider” each week. Dial Global EVP/GM Chris Corcoran says, “We’ve got two quarterbacks, two leaders, two competitive former professional athletes and two current media personalities who know all sports – you know this is going to be a fun ride for sports fans!”
Salem Chicago Confirms New Joe Walsh Show. As Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reported last week, one-term Republican Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh begins a new 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm talk show on Salem Communications’ WIND beginning Monday, March 25. General manager Jeff Reisman states, “There are few politicians in Illinois or anywhere in the country that garner as much attention as Joe Walsh. Joe is an outspoken defender of freedom, and because of his firsthand experience in Congress, he brings a unique perspective to the national conversation as our country searches for answers during these challenging times.” Walsh’s arrival bumps Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt to the 2:00 am to 5:00 am slot. Feder quotes Walsh saying, “We’re at a crucial point in this country, and I’m excited to take the debate right to listeners throughout Chicagoland via the airwaves. The radio program will be a great platform to help grow a freedom movement which is already gaining momentum right here in Illinois. I intend to do with this program what I did as a U.S. congressman — speak plainly, speak directly, not worry about political correctness, and engage in respectful, engaging debate with all viewpoints. This is just too important of a time for all of us to do anything less.” Walsh’s agent tells Feder if things go well the show could go national.
‘Phil’s Gang’ Returns to Denver on KRCN. The nationally syndicated business talk show “Phil’s Gang” – hosted by nationally recognized investor and entrepreneur Phil Grande – returns to the Denver airwaves on KRCN 1060 “The Biz” at 1:00 pm beginning Monday, March 18. Radio Colorado Network general manager Les Haber states, “We are excited and very pleased that Phil Grande is back in Denver because he is one of the best investment talk show hosts in the country. Phil Grande brings insightful information that is very current and very cutting edge to an audience that will benefit from his program.” Grande’s show is independently syndicated to stations across America and he describes his program as providing “all the information that Wall Street and the government doesn’t want you to know.”
CBS Radio’s “92.9 The Game” Atlanta Adds Kristen Ledlow to AM Drive Show. The five-month-old Atlanta CBS Radio sports talker brings Kristen Ledlow aboard the “Opening Drive” morning show with Rick Kamla and Randy Cross. Ledlow takes over for CJ Simpson who leaves the program to be the in-game host of the WNBA’s L.A. Sparks broadcasts. Ledlow comes to the station after serving as the Southeast field reporter with Fox Sports NEXT in Atlanta. She’s also worked as television host and sideline reporter with ABC News in Tallahassee and as co-host on ESPN Radio in Tallahassee. WZGC program director Terry Foxx states, “We were very fortunate that Kristen was available. She has tremendous passion, an incredible personality and a love for sports.”
Fisher House Foundation Offers Second Annual Memorial Day Program for News/Talk Stations. For the second year in a row, the three-hour “A Grateful Nation” program is being offered for broadcast by news/talk stations this Memorial Day weekend. The program is a project of the Fisher House Foundation which provides no-cost housing and other support for the families of wounded warriors while their loved ones are being treated at military and VA hospitals. The radio special debuted last year as a one-hour program, but was expanded to a three-hour format in its second year due to popular demand. The program includes profiles of several wounded warriors who have overcome serious injuries to build full and happy lives. It also looks at how today’s America remembers her fallen heroes and cares for the loved ones left behind. It’s hosted by Scott Slade, award-winning host of “Atlanta’s Morning News” on Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/FM. Slade states, “It’s so important that we continue to remember and support our volunteer military and their families. These folks make incredible sacrifices to protect our freedom and keep us safe. I’m honored to tell their stories.” Produced by Bloomquist Media and distributed by Premiere Networks, interested stations can get more information and sign-up for “A Grateful Nation,” by contacting Kurt Kretzschmar at 602-374-6351 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Russillo and Ryan Come Off the Bench for Celtics Broadcast. ESPN Radio personality Ryen Russillo and Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan will sub for Cedric Maxwell alongside Sean Grande in the radio booth for WEEI, Boston’s broadcast of Saturday’s Boston Celtics vs Charlotte. Russillo co-hosts ESPN Radio’s SVP & Russillo show.
Herring Broadcasting and The Washington Times Partnering on New Conservative Cable News/Talk Channel. Various media reports indicate a new conservative-slanted cable TV news/talk channel is scheduled to hit cable systems beginning around July 1, 2013. Deadline.com reports it’ll be called One America News, and be a combined effort of The Washington Times and Herring Broadcasting, owner of WealthTV. President Charles Herring is quoted saying his family’s company has invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” into the San Diego-based media outlet that will broadcast a combo of news and conservative talk and expects to be available in about 10 million to 20 million homes to start. The story also quotes Herring saying he plans “to open up another front and give independents, libertarians and all kind of different voices under the conservative umbrella an opportunity to express themselves.”
Chuck Wilder Returns to CRN Digital Talk Radio Show. Veteran radio host Chuck Wilder will be back behind the mic of his “Talkback with Chuck Wilder” program on March 18 on CRN Digital Talk Radio after being on medical leave since late January. With Wilder out, a number of top radio personalities have been sitting in including: Barry Farber, Frank Morano of New York City’s WNYM AM 970, actor P.J. Ochlan of the TV series “Castle,” Jennifer Horn, of “Doug Stephan’s Good Day,” Larry Van Aalst of CRN’s “What’s Cookin’ on Wine: Sonoma Report,” and actor and radio host Fred Dryer, among others. Wilder says, “I’m extremely pleased to have such great talent filling in for me during my leave and I’m especially happy to hear how great our audience has responded to them in the interim. It’s been a great experience to listen to the show these last two months, but I’m looking forward to returning to the studio and getting back to work.” The show airs 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm PT on CRN and its affiliates across the country.
Eclectic Group of Visionaries Set for “Big Picture” Panel at Talkers New York 2013. The stellar roster of speakers at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 continues to be unveiled. The lineup is being set for this year’s “Radio: The Big Picture” panel. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, the panel’s speakers include (in alphabetical order): Jeremy Coleman, SVP/talk and entertainment, Sirius XM; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Ron Hartenbaum, CEO, WYD/WYM Media; Mike McVay, SVP/programming, Cumulus Media; Tom Ray, president, Tom Ray Consulting; Walter Sabo, chairman, Sabo Media; and Dennis Wharton, VP/communications, NAB. ”It is always an invigorating challenge to moderate these ‘Big Picture’ panels because of the diversity of specialties brought to the table by the movers and shakers participating,” says moderator Harrison. “The idea is to create a lightning-fast informal chat session giving serious insights to at least 15 burning issues relevant to the industry.” Talkers New York 2013 takes place Thursday, June 6 and is on track to being an early sellout. Because of space limitations, registration is only open to working members of the media and can only be taken via telephone at 413-565-5413. Stay tuned to Talkers.com for more agenda details about speakers, panels, presentations and award recipients coming in the immediate days ahead.
Mike Gallagher Live from CPAC. Salem Radio Network syndicated talk host Mike Gallagher is in Washington, DC broadcasting his program live from the site of CPAC 2013. He’s pictured here talking on the air with former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich and oil industry expert Scott Noble about energy policy. CPAC 2013 takes place through this weekend.
Sequestration and Budget Battle Stay Atop Talkers TenTM for Fourth Straight Week. The debate in Washington over the sequestration and the nation’s budget deficit and national debt was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Coming in at #2 was the naming of Pope Francis as leader of the Catholic Church. At number #3 was the costs of the Affordable Health Care Act followed by North Korea’s military threats 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 published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.
Ed Koch the Broadcaster Remembered. The passing of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch early Friday morning elicited some remembrances from two people who worked closely with him – John Mainelli, the program director of WABC who hired him, and Curtis Sliwa, one of his fellow talk hosts at WABC, New York. Mainelli tells TALKERS magazine, “I hired him right after he left office. It wasn’t long before he was #1 in his time slot (11:00 am to 12:00 noon). There was a time when both he, Limbaugh and Bob Grant were #1 in their slots. Ed wanted to know who was the leader of the three, asking me, “How #1 am I?” He was A-No.1. A great guy. A nice guy. A champ. I really, really liked him.” Curtis Sliwa says of Koch’s death, “The passing of Mayor Koch was not only a tremendous loss for our city, but a tremendous loss for the radio dial. Ed Koch was no fan of mine, nor were the Guardian Angels while he was Mayor. While we were colleagues at 77WABC, and I was his lead-in with Lisa, our relationship improved but you wouldn’t call us friends. When I got shot in June of 1992, the first image that I saw hovering over my hospital bed in ICU was that of Ed Koch. Immediately, my first thought was that I’d died and gone straight to Hell without an asbestos suit. I didn’t die though (I think Ed was almost as disappointed as the Gottis about that) and our relationship continued to improve over the years and for a long time, I’ve been proud to call him a friend. He was a regular guest on my radio show on WABC and at ‘AM 970 The Answer.’ He was my colleague at NY1 and he was the only person I’d ever met who loved this city more than I did.” SiriusXM broadcast the special program “Ed Koch: The Voice of Reason,” a two-hour tribute devoted to the life and career of Mayor Koch on its Bloomberg Radio channel on Friday, February 1 at 7:00 pm ET.
Coming to TALKERS This Week: The Talk Radio Watchdog. There was a time in the early days of the modern talk radio era when most markets could lay claim to at least one talk show host considered to be the local “watchdog.” He or she was feared by the power brokers in city hall and had a reputation for having the backs of the regular folks. They are not as prevalent in the format as they once were but they are still out there. Does the industry still value this breed of talk host? Does the public still want to listen to them? Do their station managers support them? TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian speaks with some of today’s “watchdogs” to get answers to these and other questions about their craft. His story comes to Talkers.com this week.
WXOS, St. Louis Adds Bob “Rammer” Ramsey to Mid-Morning Show. Hubbard Broadcasting’s sports talk WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN” moves Bob “Rammer” Ramsey to the mid-morning slot alongside Zach McCrite for the “Zach and Rammer” show. McCrite has been on the air in the slot with “The Coach” Rick Venturi who exits the station to be closer to family in Indiana. Ramsey moves to the slot from the evening show he co-hosted with Brian Stull. Ramsey is also the “Voice of the Billikens” – a position he has held for the past 26 years – handling the play-by-play duties for Saint Louis University’s Men’s Basketball games, along with co-host and analyst Earl Austin, Jr.
Michael Graham Debuts Massachusetts-Wide Talk Show Today. Former WTKK, Boston talk radio star Michael Graham begins a new, daily midday talk show today that will air on four stations across Massachusetts. Graham’s program – airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm – will be heard on Money Matters Radio’s WBNW, Concord; WPLM-AM, Plymouth; and WESO, Southbridge as well as Carter Broadcasting’s WCRN, Worcester. Graham hosted the mid-morning program on Greater Media’s WTKK, Boston until the station flipped to a music format after the New Year.
How to Pump Up Your Weekend “How-To” Show. Talk radio consultant Holland Cooke says, “Few marketing opportunities can generate more new business than local talk radio…if you use it properly.” Cooke says that weekend how-to shows that are done well provide listeners with two things: information and the chance for interaction. And, he says the programs have a two-fold purpose. “The well-executed show sets the table for what marketers call ‘conversion,’ moving prospects through the sales funnel. And the how-to hosts I coach aren’t just producing new leads. Making what comes out the speaker as engaging and informative and relatable as possible also racks up more Average Quarter Hours for the station.” Read Holland Cooke’s suggestions for producing quality weekend “how-to” programs here.
Odds & Sods. At CBS Radio’s sports talk WHFS, Tampa “98.7 The Fan,” Meredith Walusek exits her role on the Kirk & Dinger morning drive show to join the cluster’s rhythmic CHR WLLD for its Orlando & the Freakshow morning program…..Ryan Giles joins Hubbard Broadcasting’s sports talk KSTP, Minneapolis as director of marketing and promotions. Giles previously served as promotions director and webmaster at Shamrock Communications’ alternative KMYZ “Z-104.5 The Edge” and classic hits KTSO “94.1 The Sound” in Tulsa…..Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington, DC is honoring the local Easter Seals chapter in its Charity of the Month program. The Easter Seals serving DC, Maryland and Virginia will receive more than $30,000 in free air-time and in-kind contributions, including on-air promotions and content on WTOP.com. The WTOP Charity of the Month program highlights one local charity every month in order to raise community awareness, support events and help with fundraising efforts…..WEEI, Boston’s play-by-play of Boston Celtics basketball games is being made available via free streaming on WEEI.com, the WEEI Live mobile app and the new Boston Celtics Mobile App. WEEI’s Celtics broadcast will also be available via the TuneIn app.
A Conversation with Marketron President and CEO, Jeff Haley. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison speaks with Jeff Haley, the president and CEO of media industry software solutions and service giant Marketron. The conversation, which serves as the basis of today’s (2/4) posted TALKERS interview, covers a variety of subjects of importance to radio sales and administrative executives including re-energizing the advertising end of radio and guiding the medium’s evolution into creating integrated cross-platform buys in this new digital era. He talks about the cloud, as well as the new relationship between radio’s front and back offices, the need to reassess FCC regulations moving forward and the balance between local and national programming on the individual station level. On the subject of dealing with the advertising industry’s reaction to controversy on news/talk radio, Haley tells TALKERS, ” Depends what you mean by controversy – and what your appetite is for it. Benign controversy can pull listeners in. That said, controversy that reflects poorly on the station can be a turn off and cause advertisers to abandon. Best to talk to your partners along the way, prepare them, and include them in your decision-making process.” To read the entire TALKERS interview with Jeff Haley, click here.
“Nerd” Talk Show Host Shares Tips on Pulling Off an Expedient International Remote Broadcast. One of the brightest young news/talk hosts on the rise today, Ethan Bearman of KSCO, Santa Cruz and Genesis Communications Network shares the story of his recent adventure in simple-yet-effective remote broadcasting in which he conveniently packed a bag of all the gear necessary to capture an interview with a Times of London reporter under the tightest of security restrictions at the Houses of Parliament in London to get an international perspective on the American presidential election. Check it out by clicking here.
Stephanie Miller Returns to Chicago with Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour. Along with comedy (and radio) partners John Fugelsang and Hal Sparks, WYD Media nationally syndicated talk radio star Stephanie Miller brings her successful “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” back to the Windy City for a date at the historic Chicago Theatre on April 13. The ongoing comedy tour has benefitted from cross-promotion on Miller’s radio program as well as her digital platforms.
Carl Wolfson Back in the Talk Media Business. The former KPOJ, Portland morning drive host returns to the talk media game on Inauguration Day via the internet after raising $52,000 and counting via Kickstarter. Carl Wolfson was the morning host on Clear Channel’s former progressive talk outlet KPOJ, Portland before it flipped to sports talk in the New Year. Wolfson decided to use Kickstarter to fund a new avenue to get his brand of talk to the public and the “Elect ‘Carl in the Morning’ to a Second Term” campaign raised more than $52,000. So, beginning on January 21, Wolfson will stream live from 7:00 am to 8:30 am and make his show available via podcast. Wolfson says the money will go to buy office space, utilities, equipment, server costs and more. KPOJ was one of the country’s longest-running and more successful progressive talk stations and the news of its flip to sports talk that broke in November was disappointing to progressive talk fans in the market. As morning drive anchor and the local host, Wolfson attracted a loyal following on KPOJ. Now, he’ll get the chance to make a go of it in the digital realm.
WLS-AM, Chicago’s Jake Hartford Dead at 63. Chicago talk radio personality Jake Hartford (Jim Edwards) passed away after suffering a heart attack. Hartford was a longtime weekender and fill-in host on WLS, beginning his career there in 1989. Most recently he had been co-hosting the late morning show with John Kass from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. His family, via the WLS-AM website, gives the following statement: “We’re currently mourning the loss of Jake Hartford, a husband, father, and friend. This is devastating news for everyone in our family, and we greatly appreciate all of the kind words that have been offered to us during our struggle. It’s truly incredible how many people he has affected positively through pursuing the work that he loved so dearly. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts as we do our best to ‘spring forward.’”
The Todd Schnitt-Bubba the Love Sponge Case Goes to Trial Today. Actually the jury selection process begins today in Hillsborough County, Florida. The real interesting part will follow and is expected to last about three weeks. Todd Schnitt – who then battled Bubba the Love Sponge in morning drive in Tampa – filed suit against Todd Clem (BTLS) in 2008 claiming “false, highly offensive and defamatory statements” made by Clem about Schnitt and his wife Michelle. Specifically, Schnitt’s suit claims that Clem’s attacks on him and his wife – an assistant state attorney – went beyond name calling between public figures. He alleges Clem accused him of illegal activities including rigging the Arbitron ratings and taking “plugola.” Schnitt also claims Clem encouraged his listeners to physically attack him and his wife and that led to four encounters with Bubba listeners including being forced off the road by another car, being harassed at dinner and having their house egged. Schnitt’s claims are going to be hard to prove. First, he’ll have to show actual malice on the part of Clem plus he’ll have to prove some real harm came to himself and his wife. But the cast of witnesses should prove interesting in and of itself. The Tampa Bay Times reports Randy Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Cowhead, and other local media personalities are listed as possible witnesses.
Platform Plays Huge Influence on Public’s Perception of Content. According to noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke, the stage upon which a production is delivered plays a significant role in shaping the potential audience’s expectation of its content and value. Keeping this important piece of media theory in mind, FM and AM radio still have a tremendous advantage over podcasting and internet radio in giving its content instant gravitas simply because it is “on the radio.” Of course, as time goes by, this psychological advantage will dissipate unless radio continues to deliver product worthy of high expectations. Cooke illustrates this point by citing the fascinating story of the world-class concert violinist, Joshua Bell who performed as a non-descript street musician playing a $3.5 million Stradivarius in the Washington, DC subway system. If you don’t know the story, you should — especially if you are a podcaster. To read Holland Cooke’s piece, click here.
Truth is More Effective than Hype in the Online Space. According to noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, broadcasters should be mindful that the kind of hyperbole that marks the tone of on-air promotion doesn’t translate well on the internet. Radio broadcasters should tone down the sizzle and hype when translating on- air messages to their websites. In an exclusive article for TALKERS, Miller writes, “For anyone old enough to tell truth from fiction when the internet first really got hot, there is still a stigma about online information. It’s automatically suspect. What you say online (especially on your site) needs not only be true; you also need to present it in a way that convinces your fans that you are telling the truth. On the air, we like to add sizzle and excitement to what we promote, so we write promos and liners in call-to-action language and we gloss over important detail points. That’s fine on the air. When I was a PD, I would not have accepted a promo that was just a laundry list of rules for a particular promotion. When you go online with that info, your tone needs to change.” To read Chris Miller’s entire piece click here.
The Wall Street Journal Radio Network to End “The Daily Wrap” Program. Launched in the spring of 2011, the early evening program hosted by Michael Castner will end in 90 days as The Wall Street Journal Radio Network has decided to pull the plug on “The Daily Wrap.” WSJRN brought Castner to the show from Clear Channel’s WRNO, New Orleans where he’d been hosting the morning drive program. “The Daily Wrap” is a newsy look at the top stories of the day airing from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. Whether the end of the program is the result of intense competition in the syndicated talk radio marketplace or the inability to have it make financial sense at a time when ad sales in the news and talk radio realm are extremely challenging, either way the show’s departure from the landscape will leave one less well-produced, newsy product on the air.
The DirecTV-Produced “Nick & Artie Show” Becomes “The Artie Lange Show.” Affiliates of the “Nick & Artie Show” – featuring comedians Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange – will hear just Artie Lange when the DirecTV-produced late night talk show returns this evening. On the show’s Facebook page, it simply states that Nick DiPaolo is pursuing “some great opportunities” and the show becomes the Artie Lange show immediately. The program airs on DirecTV’s Audience Network channel and is distributed to radio affiliates via Premiere Networks. The program has a handful of radio affiliates including Cox Media’s WHPT, Tampa “102.5 The Bone,” Beasley’s hot talk WRXK, Ft. Myers and Americom’s sports talk KBZZ, Reno “The Buzz.”
Americom Flips KBZZ, Reno to Sports. The former hot talk outlet adopts the sports talk format using CBS Sports Radio Network. It will continue to air the Don Geronimo morning program (imported from CBS Radio’s KHTK, Sacramento) and the local Panama show in middays.
Hubbard Broadcasting Brings Jeff Dubay Back on KSTP, Minneapolis. Twin Cities sports talk personality Jeff Dubay returns to the radio after an absence of more than four years due to a high profile drug bust and his rehabilitation. Dubay worked at Clear Channel’s crosstown “KFAN” for 14 years before his dismissal in 2008. Now, Dubay joins Judd Zulgad for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program beginning today. Dubay had been very open about his arrest and subsequent rehab for substance abuse. He appeared on numerous Twin Cities media outlets over the past year or so to talk about his rise and fall. KSTP makes other lineup changes set to take effect in February: Patrick Reusse and Phil Mackey move to 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Joe Soucheray’s “Garage Logic” slides to the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot. Soucheray and Reusse continue to host the 3:00 pm hour together.
WPHT, Philadelphia’s Dom Giordano Featured in Philly Magazine Piece. Late morning WPHT, Philadelphia talk host Dom Giordano is the subject of a full-length feature piece by Sandy Hingston in Philly Magazine this month. The piece is written with the November election as its backdrop and with a hint of admiration for Giordano by the writer who is clearly far to the left of Giordano on the political spectrum, but who finds his success and his story fascinating. Read the piece here.
WGN, Chicago and Northwestern Agree to Three-Year Sports Extension. Wildcats football and Men’s basketball will continue to air on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago through the 2015-16 season the two sides announce. The Big Ten school’s football and Men’s basketball play-by-play have been heard on WGN since 1996. The school’s vice president for athletics and recreation Jim Phillips states, “The Northwestern athletics brand has experienced substantial growth over the past several years due in part to the massive reach and presence of WGN radio. We’ve been extremely proud to call the station home for 17 years, and to have a wonderful partner in telling the stories of our world-class student-athletes.”
Dave Ross to Host One Hour with Luke Burbank on KIRO-FM, Seattle. In TALKERS magazine’s report about Seattle radio personality Dave Ross moving to the news-intensive morning drive daypart (1/11/13), we stated that Ross is giving up his talk show with midday host Luke Burbank on Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle. That’s not exactly true. Ross and Burbank will work on the air together for the 9:00 am to 10:00 am hour before Burbank goes solo from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
On a Blustery Seaside California Day. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison paid a visit last week to the Monterey Bay area of California and the good folks at Zwerling Broadcasting’s AM talk siblings KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz as part of a fact finding tour on the effectiveness, importance and future of local radio in America. According to Harrison, “KSCO and KOMY are exceptional examples of the magic and special place that the good old-fashioned local radio station maintains in our culture. I came away from my visit there invigorated and optimistic about the future of this industry.” Pictured seated on what is affectionately referred to as the “corporate bench” overlooking Monterey Bay and the blue Pacific are (l-r) Michael Zwerling, owner and CEO, Zwerling Broadcasting; Harrison; and Rosemary Chalmers, PD of KSCO/KOMY and morning host of KSCO.