Geraldo Exit from WABC, New York Appears Official. There’s been no announcement from Cumulus Media and we don’t really expect one. All of the information on this story comes from Geraldo Rivera himself. As TALKERS reported last Thursday, Rivera first said on his Facebook page that he was informed by new Cumulus CEO Mary Berner and Cumulus NYC market manager Chad Lopez that the company will not be honoring “the handshake deal I made with ousted company chief John Dickey, an agreement to extend my current contract for a year. The decision to renege on our deal on the eve of Thanksgiving is especially upsetting coming in the wake of my emotionally charged and highly rated coverage of the Paris massacre and frantic efforts by authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. Last year, The Village Voice named me the ‘2014 Best AM Radio Host in NYC’, writing in part, ‘Geraldo Rivera actually has something to say. The guy understands the issues of the day and has enough confidence in his opinions to call bullshit on blowhards,’ which I’m doing here.” Since then, Geraldo added to his post, writing that he intends to make this difficult for the company. “That slight will not go unanswered. Trust me on this; it is not about the money. I have enough and give away to various charities more than most. But because of their unforgivable disrespect I will fight them and they will end up costing their battered company far more in damages than they expect to save in my salary.” Geraldo goes on to write about the value of his show to the New York audience. “The pity is this misguided management has deprived my loyal New York audience a program that they have followed and engaged with during a turbulent time of crucial interest…” Whether Geraldo can prevail in court remains to be seen, but of course it’s within Cumulus’ right to fire or hire talent as the company sees fit.
David Boze Exits Bonneville’s KTTH, Seattle. Saying that he’s leaving the station to pursue “ventures that can only be done in presidential years,” morning drive personality David Boze leaves Bonneville International’s KTTH, Seattle after 13 years with the station. He says, “I leave the station I helped found in the hands of a great company and good people. I am incredibly grateful for the loyalty and kindness of my listeners. It is a wonderful thing to meet them and realize we are already friends thanks to the power of radio. I’m also exceptionally grateful for my show sponsors, who have invested in my show year after year. Bonneville has been a great company to work for, and I will miss the people who have become such a meaningful, daily part of my life.” The company has not named a permanent replacement for Boze.
Lee Hammer Adds KGO and KSFO OM Duties. Already serving as operations manager and PD for sports talk outlets KNBR and KTCT, Lee Hammer is promoted from interim ops manager for sister talk stations KGO and KSFO to permanent OM for the pair. Cumulus San Francisco VP and market manager Justin Wittmayer says, “Lee has been instrumental in leading KGO and KSFO over the past year while continuing to deliver record breaking ratings for KNBR. We are confident that with his considerable expertise in the talk format, he will take our news/talk stations to new heights.”
Odds & Sods. Former longtime KVI, Seattle talk personality Kirby Wilbur is soon to be back with the iconic conservative talker. It’s not known at this point what daypart Wilbur will be hosting. He was part of the original lineup of KVI as a conservative news/talk station. It’s for this period in history that it’s considered by many to be the first talk station to be purposely programmed as an all-conservative talk outlet…..Nationally syndicated talk host Kevin Jackson announces he is leaving USA Radio Networks and will self-syndicate his daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm talk show.
Round Three of November PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of November 2015 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Columbus. The survey period was October 8 – November 4. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Twelve Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Some Talk Radio Pros Take Issue with Colorado Governor’s Placing Blame for Shooting on Media and Campaign Rhetoric. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, in addressing the deadly shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs over the weekend, hinted that talk show hosts and bloggers are in some way to blame for the deaths of the three victims and the nine people wounded. The governor said, in part, “Certainly it’s a form of terrorism, and maybe in some way it’s a function of the inflammatory rhetoric we see on so many issues now, there are bloggers and talk shows where they really focus on trying to get people to that point of boiling over. Just intense anger. Maybe it’s time to look at how do we tone down that rhetoric. No one is going to try to reduce free speech in this country but that rhetoric — if people are in some way emotionally unstable or psychologically unbalanced – that intensity of rhetoric sometimes seems to pull a trigger in their brain that they lose contact with what reality is.” Salem Radio Network VP of news & talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS magazine, “Public officials who fail in their primary responsibility to protect the lives and property of the men and women who elect them should not use the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions on talk radio to scapegoat their own inadequacies.”
Legendary News and Talk Personality Brent Seltzer Recovering from Brain Tumor Surgery. Veteran radio personality Brent Seltzer, known most recently for his work on the nationally syndicated (GCN) “Brent & Meg Show” that he co-hosted with his wife Meg McDonald, is recovering from major surgery that took place in September at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank to remove a cancerous, golf ball-sized Glioblastoma Tumor Grade 4 from the front-left section of his brain. This is the part of the brain that controls memory and language. Seltzer’s colorful career dates back to the golden days of FM rock radio when he was a pioneer in the development of “rock ‘n’ roll radio style news” at such outlets as KGB, San Diego and KMET, Los Angeles among others. He has also achieved considerable critical praise for his modern-era, short-form and podcast series, “Still at Large.” Attendees at TALKERS conferences over the past four years will remember Brent & Meg as the events’ charismatic official greeters. This past June, they served as emcees of Talkers 2015. Seltzer (pictured here mugging for the camera after his surgery) tells TALKERS, “I have apparently been experiencing symptoms since September 2014 but it wasn’t until 11:15 am PT on Thursday, September 24, 2015 that my symptoms resulted in a seizure while sitting at my computer. I crashed like a small bird out of a big tree. If our ‘Brent & Meg’ radio show had not been on hiatus by that point, I would have had my seizure on the air. In the months prior to the seizure, I was apparently doing some things without a clear memory. My typing began to deteriorate and my quick recall for names, places and events often failed me. I ignored symptoms that were bothersome but seemed innocuous and unrelated at the time. But in truth, they were actually symptoms of a much bigger problem.” Seltzer, who is now recovering at home while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, adds, “I share these things to let everyone know that I have begun what we hope will be a stunning return. My recovery is an uphill battle which I’m very eager to face as I prepare for alerting everyone as to what has happened and what will come next and as much pain and discomfort I am in… I’m Popeye and nothing is gonna get me down!” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “I have known Brent all the way back to my radio days in San Diego in the early 1970s. He is one of the nicest, smartest and most talented guys I’ve ever met in this business. He and Meg are beloved members of our TALKERS family and we pray for his speedy and full recovery.” Brent Seltzer can be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colorado Springs Shooting Dominates Weekend Talk Stories. The deadly shooting in Colorado Springs and the related debate over gun control were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend on stations that air live and local shows and/or live national talk shows. Other topics included the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday, and college and pro football, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
For WQAM – Three’s A Crowd in PM Drive. Today’s arrival (Tuesday, 8/11) of Channing Crowder will transform the afternoon drive program (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) of CBS Radio-owned WQAM “Miami Sports Radio 560” into a three-person affair, as the former Miami Dolphins linebacker joins Marc Hochman and Zach Krantz. Regarding Crowder, program director Ryan Maguire comments, “His insight as a former college and professional football player – as well as his one-of-a-kind brand of humor – will be a great addition to what Marc and Zach bring to the table every day. This is going to be a very unique, locally focused program that will be entertaining and insightful.” Crowder remarks, “I am excited for the opportunity to work with ‘Hoch’ and Zach. We are going to bring listeners a different kind of show they won’t be able to find anywhere else.” A former all-South East Conference player at the University of Florida, Crowder began at WQAM in 2009 as a contributor. Prior to becoming part of “Hochman, Crowder, & Krantz,” he co-hosted the station’s mid-day (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm) program.
Pittsburgh Broadcaster in Online “Crowd-funding” Campaign. The “Don’t Spy on Me” project, which began last Monday (8/3) and ends in three weeks (9/1), creates an internet show for Pittsburgh talk host Dimitri Vassilaros. Online programs, of course, are not subject to Federal Communications Commission regulations, so callers are able to speak freely. Vassilaros tells TALKERS, “Forgoing short-term revenue to create long-term value has helped many internet startups become desirable to investors. This new radio show will provide people with a platform where they can express their thoughts, amplify their voices, and talk back to all authoritarians. Internet freedom means unlimited choices, not government restrictions. Your right of privacy is worth fighting for.” Vassilaros’ background includes being a talk show host on Pittsburgh stations KDKA-AM and WTAE, as well as a columnist/reporter for The Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
“Something To Think About” Notes Affiliate Benchmark. Seven months after its debut, the weekday vignettes that its syndicator – Westwood One – labels a “slice of Americana” eclipse the 150-station mark. In fact, the station count for the segments voiced by former Michigan congressman/ex-FBI agent Mike Rogers that stations air thrice daily is up to 156. Westwood One senior vice president of affiliate sales Dennis Green states, “We have been searching for a strong voice that provides a common sense and thought-provoking take on relatable topics that concern all Americans. Mike Rogers brings that home in his commentary, which gives listeners a chance to pause and reflect on the ideals that are important to us all and are without any political bias.” Outgoing House Intelligence Committee chair Rogers remarks that surpassing the 150-station mark so fast is “really exciting” and that listener feedback is inspiring. “It truly is an honor to be welcomed into cars, homes, and businesses of so many people across the country. Sometimes, it is the simplest message that has the greatest impact.” Among those airing the commentaries are Cumulus Media New York talker WABC; co-owned Chicago talker WLS-AM; San Francisco talk sibling KSFO; iHeartMedia-owned Miami talk outlet WIOD; and CBS Radio Pittsburgh talker KDKA-AM.
Odds & Sods. The lucky guy who is all smiles is McGraw Milhaven. The KTRS, St Louis morning man recently took 40 listeners on a 12-day, six-country, 11-city tour of Europe including stops in Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and London. Milhaven is seen here capturing a memory at the Tower Bridge over the Thames.
Beck in the War Room. Sporting an orange ball cap, Premiere Radio Networks host Glenn Beck was among hundreds who turned out last night (Monday, 8/10) in Dallas for the world premiere of the Kendrick Brothers’ film “War Room.” Salem Radio Network vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup (on Beck’s left) interviewed Beck, as well as area dignitaries and “War Room” cast members. The red carpet event was held at Dallas’ Majestic Theatre.
Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly were the Most Talked About People on News/Talk Radio Yesterday (8/9). Top topics included GOP Debate(s) on Fox, the Iran Nukes Deal and Immigration Reform. According to TALKERS research, fallout from last week’s audience record-breaking GOP debate on Fox News Channel continues to dominate conversation on news/talk radio across America. Other hot topics include the presidential election in general – especially Bernie Sanders’ encounters with the Black Lives Matter movement, Hillary Clinton’s email controversy and Jeb Bush’s problems gaining (or holding onto) traction.
Programming Changes Take Effect in Indy; Limbaugh Moves to WNDE. Today, Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh moves from his longtime place on Emmis’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis to iHeartMedia-owned crosstown sports talk WNDE – a move announced earlier this year. At WIBC-FM, the new lineup sans Limbaugh includes the new show “The 10@10 with Mike Wilson and Ray Steele,” a program and will run down the top 10 stories of the day at 10:00 am. Greg Garrison moves to the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm slot and Radio America-syndicated “The Dana Show” with Dana Loesch airs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The “Chicks on the Right” with Daisy and Mockarena airs from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and “Abdul at Large” with local political writer, educator and media personality Abdul-Hakim Shabazz from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Cooke: Turning Digital Disappointment into Direct Success. Radio consultant Holland Cooke presented at two state broadcasters’ conferences recently and he says the common thread from all three sessions was the following: “Recent years’ radio revenue data has many shrugging that ‘flat is the new up.’ Less so in small and medium markets, where local direct retail comprises more of radio’s income than in big markets where transactional business is the ball game. And in every market, digital is the shiny object sucking dollars away from legacy media. Especially ours. Ask car stores: Detroit is telling them to move radio money online.” And while digital is expected to eclipse all other ad platforms by 2017 (in terms of dollars spent), there are those who dare to question digital’s efficacy relative to ‘legacy’ media. In today’s column, Cooke offers some advice for reigniting the power of radio as a sales vehicle. Read the entire piece here.
Cumulus Draws Local Criticism from Press, Unions for Closing KGO’s South Bay Bureau. Noting that the South Bay bureau of news/talk KGO, San Francisco has been open for more than four decades, the San Jose Mercury News’ Scott Herhold laments the decision of Cumulus Media to shutter the two-staffer office in San Jose without notice. Reporting that Jennifer Hodges and Jeanne Lynch were let go June 26, the paper says even San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo wrote Cumulus’ Lee Hammer writing, in part, that the closure “wouldn’t serve the station well to abandon the region’s biggest city and hope that folks could simply phone it in.” SAG AFTRA (which represents also registered its displeasure by asking listeners to do the same via a petition at its savelocalradio.org site.
Michael Savage Announces Winners of $100,000 Scholarship Contest. Nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Savage announced the five winners of his “What Does It Mean to Be an American?” essay contest on July 2. The winners – Alex Peterson, James Lutack, Heather Fisher, Curtis Butterfield and Mark Bragg – will each receive a $20,000 scholarship over a two-year period. The Westwood One-syndicated host says he launched the unprecedented $100,000 scholarship fund in early 2015 with the intention of promoting traditional American values among conservative college students. Savage says he received approximately 1,700 entries, and the five carefully selected winning essays “honor the principles that America was built upon and discuss the country’s past, present and future.” You can read the winning essays here.
Heavy Hundred Host Ethan Bearman’s New Book, Liars & Whores: How Big Government and Big Business are Working to Save their Own Assets, Not Yours (Talkers Books, 2015), Released Today. Praised by the TALKERS editorial board as being “one of the rising stars of talk radio – a new voice of Generation X” – KSFO, San Francisco (local) and GCN (national) radio talk show host Ethan Bearman adds “published author” to his growing list of credentials with the official release today of his new book, Liars & Whores; How Big Government and Big Business Are Working to Save Their Own Assets, Not Yours (Talkers Books, 2015). The book – a populist, non-partisan approach to the economic and social challenges faced today by the average person trying to make a living and feed his or her family against the backdrop of an increasingly corrupt corporate and government culture – addresses the key issues of these times and marks the return of TALKERS magazine to the book publishing business after a 10 year hiatus. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “What makes this book so fresh and exciting is the fact that it is a manifesto that ‘works’ in any of today’s competing political ideologies… that is what makes Ethan Bearman such an effective up-and-coming host with razor-sharp teeth, and now a superb guest for any talk show that deals with current events.” For more information about Ethan Bearman and the book, please click here. To schedule Ethan Bearman for a talk radio interview call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.
Odds & Sods. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that, based on a recent memo from American Public Media CEO Jon McTaggart there are cuts coming to the public radio corporation this month. Saying the company “cannot succeed with ‘business as usual,’” he tells staffers, “We will stop some programming and create capacity for new content and innovative audience services. We will eliminate and change positions in some departments, and create capacity for new positions in others.”…..Saga Communications is relocating the newly acquired Illinois Radio Network from Chicago to the state’s capital of Springfield. According to a report from WAND-TV, Springfield, WTAX, Springfield news director Alex Degman adds ND duties for the network to his responsibilities, replacing Jim Anderson. Dave Dahl stays aboard at the capitol and will add WTAX morning anchor duties. WTAX’s Will Stevenson assists the network with Springfield and Capitol coverage. Current IRN staffers John Gregory and Jason Goch will continue to be based in Chicago.
Hyper-Local Radio. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (the hipster on the left wearing the Broadcasters Foundation baseball hat) stopped by the reviewing stand at the East Longmeadow (MA) Independence Day Parade on Saturday (7/4) to say hi to his buddy Brad Shepard (right) who was serving as emcee of the annual event. Shepard is the general manager and star host of the recently launched, hyper-local online station, Pioneer Valley Radio (www.PioneerValleyRadio.com), designed to super-serve the Western Massachusetts communities of the Greater Springfield Metropolitan Area. The station’s format is best described as “personality-oriented public affairs” geared to the community, its leaders and most-active citizens. Harrison, a primary backer of the internet media station, says, “Everyone knows that I am a strong advocate and supporter of local radio as well as non-traditional online programming. How could I resist getting involved with and supporting a project of this nature in my own backyard? Of all my many projects, Pioneer Valley Radio is one of the most exciting and fulfilling. The positive response from the good folks who keep the wheels turning in this region has been incredibly gratifying.”
Michigan and Rhode Island Talk Personality Dave Barber Dead at 60. Family, friends, the talk radio business and the Rhode Island political scene are remembering Dave Barber today after he succumbed to what his brother Larry called a “catastrophic health event” in Michigan 10 days ago. Barber – who had been serving as host of the Rhode Island General Assembly’s TV program “Straight from the Gavel” – was put into a medically induced coma after choking during a rehearsal dinner for a friend’s wedding. Complications ensued and Barber was not able to emerge from the coma. He died on Saturday (7/4). Barber was a longtime Flint, Michigan talk host – serving at such signals as WTRX, WTAC, and WFDF – before joining WPRO, Providence in 2006. Two years later he took up the “Straight from the Gavel” gig and had been doing it ever since. You can see a tribute video of Dave Barber from Art Vuolo here.
WBT, Charlotte’s John Hancock Kicks Off Fourth Peanut Butter ‘N’ July Food Drive. WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte afternoon drive personality John Hancock is working with local merchant Harris Teeter and peanut butter manufacturer Jif for the “Peanut Butter ‘N’ July” benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. Saying that the high protein food is one of the most requested items for those who benefit from their services, WBT has launched a campaign to bring attention to the importance of this product. Hancock and other WBT personalities will be appearing at Harris Teeter locations during the month of July to collect unopened jar of peanut butter.
8th Annual Troopathon Raises $280,000. Co-hosts Melanie Morgan of KSRO, Santa Rose, California (left) and WABC, New York personality Rita Cosby (right) share a laugh with Premiere Networks superstar Rush Limbaugh via Skype during the recent “Troopathon” fundraiser organized by the group Move America Forward. The organization has been raising cash to send care packages to troops on the front lines in Afghanistan and raised $280,000 during this year’s program that ended June 25. Cosby says, “The participation of radio personalities played a huge role in the success of this year’s Troopathon. This year, we were joined by my co-host Melanie Morgan, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Geraldo Rivera, Brian Kilmeade, Dennis Miller, Adam Corolla, and Herman Cain.” Celebrities who assisted with the effort included rock legend Ted Nugent, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Super Bowl Champion quarterback Joe Theisman, singer Tony Orlando, TV host Nancy Grace, and many more.
Jack Swanson to Lead KCBS, San Francisco Programming. Legendary spoken-word programmer Jack Swanson is named director of news and programming for KCBS “All News Radio 740AM and 106.9FM.” CBS RADIO SVP and market manager Doug Harvill says, “Jack has a distinguished track record of leading iconic radio stations. He’s a terrific leader with a deep understanding of how a market leading station such as KCBS can be a trusted and active member of its community.” Swanson served for years as vice president of programming at Cumulus Media’s KGO and KSFO, San Francisco. He began his radio career as a news anchor/reporter for WLS, Chicago before becoming the news and program director for KGO, San Francisco. From there he became president and general manager for KING-FM, Seattle. He says, “Being asked to lead one of the best news teams in the country is one of those rare situations that don’t present themselves often. I’m looking forward to contributing to the amazing growth of this legendary station in the years ahead.”
Fruge, Thomas Involved in CBS Radio Programming Changes. Concurrent with CBS Radio Las Vegas vice president of programming Charese Fruge transferring to Houston for similar duties (and to be operations manager there), the company promotes Cat Thomas to succeed Fruge in Las Vegas. Thomas will continue as day-to-day programmer of Las Vegas’ KXTE “X107.5 – Alternative First”; talk KXNT AM & FM; and KXST “CBS Sports Radio 1140.” Senior vice president and CBS Radio Houston market manager Sarah Frazier comments, “Charese is a talented programmer and leader. Her longstanding relationships in the music industry, passion for radio, and ability to create special experiences for the listener are an integral part of why she is such a great fit for Houston. We are thrilled to have her join the Houston team, as we continue to grow and build upon our brands under her guidance.” Fruge remarks, “This role is the opportunity of a lifetime and a chance to finally be back in the south. I am honored and am looking forward to working with the Houston team to help take these amazing brands to the next level. I have made lifelong friends in Las Vegas and appreciate them always making me look good.” Meanwhile, senior vice president and CBS Radio Las Vegas market manager Jerry McKenna states, “Cat Thomas is a veteran programming executive whose experience in this market is unmatched. He has successfully programmed [CHR] KLUC for the better part of two decades and most recently, has been the driving force behind the success of our spoken-word brands. Our stations are in very capable hands.” According to Thomas, “This is a dream come true. We have the biggest brands in the market. I have loved this group since we put these stations together in 1996. None of this would be possible without the passion of our staff. As [the late Ohio State University football coach] Woody Hayes said, ‘You win with people,’ and we have great people from top to bottom.” A member of the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, Fruge will oversee programming for hot AC KHMX “Mix 96.5”; sports outlets KIKK-AM and KILT-AM; country KILT-FM “The Bull”; CHR KKHH “Hot 95-7”; and Spanish contemporary KLOL “Mega 101.” She starts her new assignment – which will include day-to-day PD responsibilities for “Mix” and “Hot” – one week from Monday (5/4). Her resume includes on-air and programming stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, San Diego, Denver, and New Orleans. In addition to KXTE, KXNT AM & FM, and KXST, Ohio State University alum Thomas will oversee CHR KLUC “Las Vegas’ #1 Hit Music Station” and hot AC KMXB “Mix 94.1.” Eight years after being night personality at KLUC, Thomas was elevated to program director (1996); he became PD of KXNT AM & FM, KXST, and KXTE last year. Similar to Fruge, Thomas’ first day on his new job is one week from Monday (5/4). Elsewhere at CBS Radio Las Vegas, KLUC assistant program director John “J.B. King” Bernard is promoted to program director and “Mix” assistant program director/music director Jonathan “J. Love” Campbell is boosted to PD of that station. Bernard joined KLUC 17 years ago and has been APD since 2001. He previously worked in San Francisco, Phoenix, and Sacramento. With CBS Radio Las Vegas the past three years, Campbell formerly programmed in Providence, Oxnard-Ventura (California), and Reno (Nevada).
The Howie Carr New England Juggernaut Rolls On. In a remarkable display of just how potent an independent regional talk radio network can be, radio/newspaper/author phenomenon Howie Carr continues to expand the reach of his Howie Carr Radio Network north into New Hampshire and southeast into Connecticut. Bringing the growing lineup to 22 radio stations (including flagship WRKO, Boston) are WASR, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire as well as Connecticut’s WMRD, Middletown and WLIS, Old Saybrook. On penetrating the Nutmeg State, Carr tells TALKERS, “I’ve always had a sizable audience in Connecticut, and I’m happy that my listeners there can now find me even more easily. As a kid, I wanted to go to Wesleyan, and now I’m in Middletown — and Old Saybrook.” Don DeCesare, president/GM of WLIS/WMRD adds, “We’re thrilled to have Howie Carr as part of our onair lineup. Howie has been New England’s voice for years. We’re proud to add that voice now and be his stations in Connecticut.” Regarding this latest expansion of Carr’s network, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “It is only going to be a matter of months before the flood dam bursts and Howie Carr becomes a major national host eventually heard in all 50 states. He is at the top of his game.” Meet Howie Carr at Talkers New York 2015 on Friday, June 12. The annual conference is on the verge of a sellout. For registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413 or click here.
Salem Radio Network Welcomes Michael Medved Back. It’s a gradual return to his daily, syndicated talk radio show, but Michael Medved is slowly working his way back after treatment for throat cancer. Medved announced his hiatus from the program back on January 30. Now, SRN VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup says, “We are SO grateful to have Michael Medved transitioning back into his SRN talk show. Monday he appeared by phone, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday he has been in his Seattle studio, hosting guests like U.S. Senator John McCain for discussion of today’s Obama apology for U.S. raids killing two hostages, plus the Senate confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the United States.” Medved has been a nationally syndicated host for the past 18 years.
Jim Gearhart and New Jersey 101.5 Morning Show to Broadcast from Battelship New Jersey. In recognition of Memorial Day, WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” morning host Jim Gearhart and the rest of the morning show will broadcast from the deck of the Battleship New Jersey on May 22. In a letter inviting listeners to attend the broadcast, Gearhart writes, in part, “While the nation celebrates the start of summer this year, I invite you, your family and friends to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans and active military during a special live broadcast of the ‘New Jersey 101.5 Morning Show’ aboard America’s most decorated battleship. The morning show team will be on the deck of Battleship New Jersey, located on the waterfront in Camden on Friday, May 22 joined by veterans, honor guards, military agencies and state dignitaries for patriotic music, discussions and storytelling…As a Naval veteran and the father of two enlisted men, it is my privilege to commemorate our military this Memorial Day Weekend, and I encourage all active and retired servicemen and women, as well as civilians, to come enjoy the show and share their appreciation for those who make America the land of the free and home of the brave.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Update. The Genesis Communications Network-syndicated Dr. Joy Browne show is added to the program schedule on WOMI, Owensboro, Kentucky…..Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk” adds new affiliate stations WCGO, Evanston, Illinois; WMXI-FM, Laurel, Mississippi; KFEQ, Saint Joseph, Missouri; and KELY, Ely, Nevada to its roster…..AdLarge Media reports “The National Marijuana News” program is added to the lineup at: WHIG, Colorado Springs; WPEK-AM, Asheville, North Carolina; and WNOS, New Bern, North Carolina…..Christian radio offering “The HopeLine with Dawson McAllister” is two months into syndication and already heard on nearly 100 stations including recent new affiliates: WGEN-FM, Chicago and the MyGen Radio Network; WTRJ-FM, Jacksonville; and WCLN-FM, Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Iran Nuclear Negotiations Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of April 20-24. The negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the ISIS violence tied with the military action taking place in Yemen. Coming in at #3 was the 2016 presidential prospects tied with the scrutiny of the operation of the Clinton Foundation, followed by the death of two hostages at the hands of American drones 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.
iHeartMedia Previews New Podcast Initiative at First-Ever ‘Soundfront’ in NYC. Yesterday, iHeartMedia presented the “Soundfront” event in New York to preview its new original audio programs. The company says this new content “will allow marketers to collaborate with a host of celebrities and talent through customized and creative storytelling.” Speaking about the company’s need to explore the audio-on-demand marketplace is iHeartMedia CMO/EVP Gayle Troberman, who says, “In the age of visual distraction and shorter attention spans, audio has the ability to break through and get heard better than any other advertising. We are seeing increased engagement in audio programming both on air and via podcast, and original audio forces us to get back to the basics of telling stories simply and honestly, which consumers love. We believe most marketers are massively under-invested in the power of sound and the iHeartMedia Soundfront is our opportunity to challenge the industry to explore the creative potential of sound to tell and sell better.” Saying that it is teaming with “a broad spectrum of A-list producers, musicians, actors, music industry veterans and curators,” the company announces some of the people it is working with, including: “Skybound Rundown” (podcast): From the producers of “The Walking Dead” TV show and gaming franchise focusing on the world of indie gaming; “Heart of the Beat” (podcast): Artist and musician Jared Leto will bring sound and storytelling together in this original audio show that allows artists to reveal the method behind their madness; “Who is Marty Hirsch?” (podcast) is the first-ever audio mockumentary, building off successes like “This Is Spinal Tap” and “Almost Famous” to tell a story of a mythical music icon. iHeartMedia has partnered with Trium Entertainment (the creator and executive producer of “The Biggest Loser”) to produce a number of podcasts including: “The Vent” hosted by Jaime Pressly; “Get Mic’d” – a talent search show for the next great iHeartMedia DJ; and “Science of Success” with Jonah Berger. The iHeartMedia-Trium relationship will also produce videocasts and the hiring away of Big Boy from Emmis in Los Angeles is relevant here as he’ll host “Urban Legends with Big Boy,” a hip hop show. “Z100” New York-based personality Elvis Duran will also host a videocast titled, “The Elvis Sessions” in which he “digs throughout the day-to-day gossip and connects with the true passion that drives artists and celebrities.” Other videocasts will include “On the Fly with Paul Costabile” and “My Journey.” iHeartMedia also used the event to announce an expanded relationship with Snapchat, details of which are expected to come in the future. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel was in attendance discussing iHeartMedia’s unique positioning to “use the power of sound to drive social results.” Pictured here are (from l-r): iHeartMedia Entertainment Enterprises president John Sykes, iHeartMedia president and CFO Richard Bressler, Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel, and iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman.
Facing “Weak Markets,” Emmis Seeks Covenant Relief from Lenders. In a filing with the SEC, Emmis Communications presents historical performance data and forward-looking statements as it seeks covenant relief for the quarters ended May 31 2015 through February 28 2017. Emmis says it is outperforming its markets but the problem is that the markets are weak – for example, citing New York figures showing Emmis down 6% while the market as a whole was down 7.3% over the nine-month period ended November 30, 2014. It says the battle between its urban KPWR, Los Angeles and iHeartMedia’s new KRRL (which is benefitting from its luring morning talent Big Boy away from KPWR) is causing it to face “new headwinds.” In New York, the company says the market was weak throughout calendar 2014 – down mid- to high-single digits after being up 5% in calendar 2013. It reports national was off by 30% during the 2014 summer months and down 18% for the nine months ended November 30, 2014. Emmis states that it finished fiscal 2015 under its 6.00x covenant at 5.40x but “wants to constructively manage compliance with sufficient cushion.” It goes on to show its efforts to control costs by noting it has “reduced cash operating costs by $7 million as part of its fiscal 2016 budget.” You can see the entire lender presentation here.
Panel of Radio Hunter-Gatherers to Discuss Generating Revenue in Changing Marketplace. One of the power-packed, panel discussions scheduled for Talkers New York 2015, “Generating Talk Radio Revenue in a Changing Paradigm,” will tackle the many challenges and identify opportunities in the sales end of the business today. The lineup features a diverse array of what TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison describes as “major league ‘hunter-gatherers’ covering the spectrum of broadcasting situations today.” Moderated by TALKERS managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian, the lineup presents (in alphabetical order): Vince Benedetto, president/CEO, Bold Gold Media Group; Kathy Carr, VP, sales & marketing, Howie Carr Radio Network; Jerry Crowley, VP/GM, WNYM/WMCA, New York; Ron Hartenbaum, CEO, WYD Media; Tom Leykis, CEO, The New Normal; and Cary Pahigian, president/GM, WBAL/WIYY, Baltimore. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey adds, “This panel will provide a wide variety of valuable takeaways. You have a dynamic, young owner of a medium-sized, up-and-coming group (Vince Benedetto); a seasoned sales and management pro who has masterminded one of the model examples of a powerful and lucrative regional talk network (Kathy Carr); a veteran major market general manager with an impressive sales track record (Jerry Crowley); one of talk radio’s most aggressive impresarios who has built a major sales rep firm and is instrumental in monetizing the careers of numerous syndicated and satellite radio stars (Ron Hartenbaum); an independent, high-profile radio talent who is doing it on his own in cyberspace and showing a profit (Tom Leykis); and a highly accomplished, medium/large market GM who is at the helm of one of the nation’s most historic heritage properties (Cary Pahigian). This is not to be missed.” Talkers New York 2015 is nearing a sellout. For registration and sponsorship information, please click here.
WGN, Chicago Legend Spike O’Dell to Appear on Steve Cochran Show. Former WGN, Chicago personality Spike O’Dell – an inductee in this year’s class of the WGN Radio Walk of Fame – will be a part of the station’s Steve Cochran show tomorrow morning (4/24). Cochran is broadcasting his show from the CMT Studios in Nashville the day after the Chicago Blackhawks play the Predators in game 5 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. O’Dell hosted afternoons on WGN from 1987 to 2000. He took over the morning show after the death of Bob Collins and hosted it until December of 2008.
Hofstra’s WRHU-FM, Signs Deal with New York Cosmos Soccer Franchise. One of the most decorated college radio stations in America, Hofstra University’s WRHU-FM, Hempstead, NY has added another major league sports franchise to its programming roster. The Marconi Award-winning outlet has signed a deal with the New York Cosmos soccer franchise. WRHU-FM will be the team’s official radio partner and flagship for the 2015 NASL soccer season. Students will perform all on and off air roles as they do with the station’s other major league partner, the NHL’s New York Islanders.
Odds & Sods. News/talk KRDO-FM, Colorado Springs is being sold by Optima Communications to Pike’s Peak Television for $2.5 million. Pike’s Peak is a subsidiary of News-Press & Gazette Company which owns KRDO-AM. Optima has been airing the KRDO-AM news/talk format on KRDO-FM for the past nine years…..ABC News is available on the Apple Watch. ABC says the app will “give you the world on your wrist. From real-time news updates with personalized notifications to live video and audio, the app keeps wearers in the know without disrupting the moments that matter.” Some of the features include “Stories In A Second” – “glanceable news that keeps you up to date with what’s breaking and showcases the latest hand-selected stories in all coverage areas.” The app will allow users to dig deeper into stories and video with the ability to seamlessly hand off to the user’s iPhone…..ESPN Radio is broadcasting the 2015 NFL Draft next Thursday (4/30) beginning at 7:00 pm ET with host Dari Nowkhah, NFL analyst Louis Riddick and NFL Insider John Clayton. Freddie Coleman will host post-draft coverage alongside NFL Insider Adam Kaplan on Thursday and Friday at 11:30 p.m…..Yahoo Sports Radio will present a five-hour program next Thursday for the first day of the NFL Draft. Featured on the show will be Steve Bunin and Yahoo Sports Radio host Jonathan Peterlin. Insider analysis will come from former Carolina Panthers general manager and Yahoo Sports Radio host Marty Hurney, and former NFL Quarterback and Yahoo Sports contributor Shaun King. The program airs from 8:00 pm to 1:00 am ET…..ABC News announces Karen Travers, Mary Bruce and Stephanie Ramos join the news organization as multi-platform reporters covering national and international news for all ABC News platforms with an emphasis on NewsOne, Radio and Digital.
FOX Sports Radio to Broadcast from Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Fight. Prior to the May 2 Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao welterweight fight in Las Vegas, FOX Sports Radio will broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The roundtable program will feature JT “The Brick,” Steve Gorman, Tomm Looney and Jeffrey Gorman. Stations wishing to bring some unique expertise to their coverage of this upcoming fight may consider booking Jackie Kallen (pictured here) or Ivan Goldman from Boxing Insider. Kallen has been involved in the sport of boxing for almost 35 years. She started as a boxing journalist, hosted her own talk radio show, then became the publicist for the legendary Kronk Gym in Detroit and eventually segued into management. Her success in the male-dominated business inspired the Meg Ryan film Against the Ropes. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author. He has written for Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He’s a Fulbright Scholar and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. To book either, email: email@example.com.
Earth Day/Climate Change, Baltimore ‘Freddie Gray’ Protests, 2016 Presidential Prospects, ISIS Violence, Saudi Strikes on Yemen, Iran Nuclear Program Negotiations, North Korea Nukes Warning, and Gang Member Amnesty Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/22). The observation of Earth Day and the issue of climate change; continuing protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody; the potential candidates for president in 2016; the violence being perpetrated by ISIS; the military strikes on Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the U.S.’ naval presence in the region; the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program; China’s warning about the underestimated nuclear weapons arsenal held by North Korea; and the case of a gang member accused of murder receiving amnesty under President Obama’s executive order were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio during the week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
iHeartMedia to Unveil Programmatic Ad Buying Platform. Enlisting Jelli to help devise the new platform, iHeartMedia announces it’s set to debut the programmatic radio ad-buying platform for its 850-plus radio stations in addition to making the technology available to other industry operators via its sales subsidiary Katz Media Group. Using cloud-based technology from Jelli, the platform will offer automated broadcast radio ad buying which it says is “the foundation for iHeartMedia to be able to offer its ad inventory to advertisers and agencies looking to leverage programmatic and automated technology including private market place and exchange environments to improve the buying process and reduce administrative hurdles and delays.” Further, the company asserts, “the new, programmatic solution will also allow iHeartMedia to apply its rich data and insights to the planning process and will utilize data sets to enable unique forms of targeting, such as music-based psychographic groups, weather and traffic patterns, purchase behavior and other environmental, population and consumer trends.” Additionally, Katz Media Group, the top national sales firm representing more than 275 radio broadcasters including iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Entercom, Cox Media Group and others, will launch ‘Expressway from Katz,’ the first industrywide programmatic buying ad exchange at scale for the radio industry’s most important players, which also uses the same technology. Katz Media Group president Mark Rosenthal says, “As the top national sales firm representing many great radio companies, we felt it was critical that radio take the lead. Expressway from Katz will deliver the capabilities and speed of automation and programmatic to all of our radio companies as we bring the power of radio to advertisers, providing unprecedented scale and customer knowledge.” Entercom president and CEO David Field comments, “This partnership is an innovative milestone for the radio industry. Radio has always provided unmatched value, and now we can bring today’s data sources, targeting at scale and the speed, ease and precision of programmatic buying to our advertising partners, matching or exceeding the capabilities of any other media sector.”
Galliani Elevated to KGO, KSFO GSM. Three-year KGO and KSFO, San Francisco senior account manager and “team leader” Melissa Galliani is boosted to general sales manager of the Cumulus Media talk siblings. Cumulus vice president of sales for news/talk Jaysson Reno comments, “Melissa’s long-term association with KGO and KSFO makes her an invaluable asset within our company. Her high level of integrity, dedication, and track record made her the perfect fit for this well-deserved promotion.” Galliani – who possesses a San Francisco State University Bachelor’s degree and a Dominican University MBA in Team Leadership – states that she is “excited” and “pleased to be a part of the management team of KGO and KSFO, two brands that I hold close to my heart. I appreciate the opportunity to work with the radio stations in this new capacity. I will continue to value the team spirit for reaching our goals individually and collectively, and for meeting the needs of our marketing partners and advertisers.” After beginning her media career at KGO in 2000 as an account executive, Galliani was in business development at San Francisco’s KNTV-TV; local sales manager for KFRC, San Francisco; and KSFO’s local sales manager.
Stan Freberg Dead at 88. TALKERS magazine mourns the passing of radio and advertising legend Stan Freberg, who died Tuesday in Santa Monica, California at the age of 88. Freberg’s career covered just about all of the media bases – radio, television, publishing, records and advertising – and his humor was deemed as effective no matter into which medium he delved. TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey observes, “For those who may be under the impression that the video age has diminished the effectiveness of the audio arts, one need only look to the supremely creative work of Stan Freberg to see how wrong that impression is. He was, and still is, an inspiration to any who are working to create attention-grabbing audio.” See The New York Times’ obituary of Freberg here.
Can and Should You Censor a Political Ad? TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes today about the case involving Chicago’s ABC TV outlet and its refusal to run a political ad from a PAC. The case raises the issues of just what are the legal responsibilities of a broadcast outlet when I comes to political advertising? Does a station even have to accept political advertising at all? These and more questions are addressed by Weisman in the murky arena of political advertising on broadcast stations. Read it here.
Michael Harrison Chats with Dr. Joy Browne on Podcast “Up Close and Far Out” – Also Discusses the Relationship Between Information and the Fabric of Reality. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison engages in a fascinating, candid dialogue with syndicated radio psychologist Dr. Joy Browne on the fifth and latest installment of his weekly podcast series “Up Close and Far Out” on the platform, PodcastOne.com. Harrison and Browne tackle a variety of issues including the impact of the digital age on human thinking and social relationships, as well as the past, present and future of advice-giving in talk media. They talk about the importance of credentials, transparency and credibility in “doctor” shows, generational differences in the modern era and the state of the cinema and live theater in America. The podcast also includes Harrison’s ongoing observations about the relationship between media, technology and the wiring of the human nervous system. He boldly suggests that the “digital era,” in which we are rapidly becoming immersed, will not last as long as the “analogue era” from which we are exiting and that an even larger, more important era of human technological development is waiting in the wings, perhaps only 20 years down the road. Harrison states that this next era (that he cites on the podcast) will create changes in humanity that will make the current digital period seem quaint and primitive by comparison. To listen to the entire podcast, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison” player located in the right-hand column of the TALKERS and RadioInfo websites.
Update: HD Radio Passes Benchmark. Several more car models – including the Mazda Miata MX-5, Nissan Maxima, and the Scion iA and iM – will have iBiquity Digital‘s HD Radio as standard equipment. That brings HD Radio’s total to over 200 vehicle models and iBiquity Digital chief operating officer Jeff Jury comments, “This is a tremendous milestone. More listeners are tuning in than ever before. Millions of new vehicle owners will get to enjoy HD Radio broadcasting. A record number of HD Radio-equipped vehicles have been sold this year. This is another step toward complete standardization of digital radio across North America.” The announcement was made at last week’s New York International Auto Show. Other vehicles that will offer HD Radio are the Honda Civic, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Optima, Lexus RX, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Toyota RAV4. More than 100 vehicle models are integrating digital radio technology as standard equipment.
Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation Names Board of Directors. In an effort to “help prepare tomorrow’s frontline communicators,” Bold Gold Media – operator of nine commercial radio stations in Northeast Pennsylvania and Upstate New York – is establishing the Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation. The foundation will focus its efforts on providing funding and resources to educational organizations that train tomorrow’s broadcast and media leaders. Now, Bold Gold president Vince Benedetto announces the board of directors for the foundation. It includes: Benedetto; Ashok Divecha, business manager, Bold Gold Media Group; Bob Soper, president, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority; Justin Moon, president, Kahr Arms; Mike Bean, president, Mohegan Sun Pocono; Doug Fink, president, Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Company; Kevin Tinkelman, owner, Kevin’s Worldwide; Doug Thomas, president, Gateway Ford; Josh Sheard, president, Sage Investments; Bud Williamson, president, Digital Radio Engineering/ Neversink Media Group; Michael Harrison, publisher & editor, TALKERS and RadioInfo; and Jimmy Wayne, musician/writer/performer/author, president, Barbershop Tours, Project Meet Me Half Way.
Former WEEI, Boston Personality Jon Meterperel Debuts Podcast. Former longtime WEEI, Boston personality Jon Meterparel is debuting his new sports talk podcast with ONE World Sports on April 10. Dubbed, “The Meter Is Running,” the program promises to “deliver to fans insightful, lively – and occasionally controversial — conversations with some of the top influencers and stars in global sports. The show will be distributed on iTunes, social media platforms and ONEWorldSports.com.” Guests appearing for the first show are Sports Illustrated senior writer and MLB Network analyst Tom Verducci, offering his take on the 2015 MLB season’s hottest teams and players; and, reflecting on his NHL days, Stanley Cup-winning former New York Rangers coach “Iron” Mike Keenan, now coaching the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) 2014 championship team Metallurg MG. Future guests are to include: ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney, actor and producer Mike O’Malley and former “Saturday Night Live” writer and “30 Rock” executive producer Robert Carlock.
Odds & Sods. Alabama talk hosts Matt Murphy and Dale Jackson are now heard in multiple markets after Cumulus Media made the move to expand their presence. Murphy is based at the company’s news/talk WAPI, Birmingham, in middays and is now also heard on WLWI, Montgomery, Alabama and WVNN, Huntsville. Jackson is based at WVNN, Huntsville and is now also heard in mornings on WAPI…..Derek Fogel is promoted from executive producer to program director for Max Media-owned sports talker WXLT, Marion, Illinois “103.5 ESPN Southern Illinois.” Fogel will also serve as morning drive sports anchor for Max Media’s sister news/talk WJPF.
Rand Paul Announces Bid for President, California Drought, Iran Nuclear Negotiations, Religious Freedom Act/Indiana Pizza Joint Case, Russia Hacks White House Allegations, Yemen Military Action, SC Cop Charged with Murder, Rahm Emanuel Wins Re-Election Runoff, and MLB Season Opens Among Top News Stories Yesterday (4/7). Kentucky Senator Rand Paul officially announces his bid for president in 2016; the debate over the reasons for the California drought; the negotiations with Iran over the progress of its nuclear program; controversy over the various religious freedom acts and the case of the Indiana pizza joint threatened for supporting that state’s law; allegations the Russians are responsible for hacking the White House’s computer system; the Saudi-led military action taking place in Yemen; the case of the South Carolina police officer charged with murder for shooting a black motorist in the back as he fled a traffic stop; Rahm Emanuel survives a runoff election to remain mayor of Chicago; and the start of the 2015 baseball season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Blessed with an enduring ability to captivate a broad base demographic with droll, clever, sometimes-corny witticisms/puns that much sooner rather than later made you laugh, Gary Owens is being fondly remembered by those whose lives he touched by his character and one-of-a-kind classiness.
Even at the zenith of his popularity, Owens had an unrivaled flair to make anyone and everyone with whom he came in contact feel as though he or she were a genuinely important friend of his.
Dignity with which Owens carried himself make those having the privilege to work behind a microphone exude intense pride in saying they are in the same profession.
Michael Harrison: Political News/Talk Radio Needs Fewer Lapdogs and More Watchdogs. In a new opinion piece posted today (11/21), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (pictured here) suggests that the main element missing from today’s political news/talk radio mix is the old-fashioned “muckraker” who kept politicians of all political stripes – left and right – nervous and on their toes. Harrison says that the crop of tried-and-true political ideologues who’ve been on the air all these decades since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and are still going strong should be preserved – but not imitated. He writes, “There is nothing wrong with the current crop of long-standing, iconic figures of opinionated left vs right political discussion who have made talk radio and its stars household names. They should be protected and supported for what they do… because they are valuable and, more importantly, cannot easily be replaced. In fact, they shouldn’t be replaced. The last thing we need are more ‘B’ and ‘C’ level imitators and talking point ideologues in this format. We do not need lapdogs and mindless partisans clogging up the airwaves and bringing this format down! What we do need are more WATCHDOGS to round out what this format truly has to offer. I guess you can call them populists or independents – but it goes much deeper than just superficial labels. This industry needs talk show hosts – especially local ones – who don’t give a damn about political science ideology or carrying partisan water for their favorite ‘team,’ but rather keep a watchful eye and wag a fearless tongue on the biggest problem facing the American political system today.” If you want to find out what Harrison thinks is the biggest problem facing the American political system today, read the entire column by clicking here.
Cumulus Names Reno to Lead KGO and KSFO, San Francisco Sales. At the Bay Area cluster, Cumulus Media appoints sales pro Jaysson Reno to vice president, sales for heritage market news/talkers KGO and KSFO. Reno has worked in the San Francisco market for 10 years in the radio, digital and event space, and has led sales for the company’s rock KSAN and triple A KFOG since 2012. Cumulus San Francisco VP/market manager Justin Wittmayer says, “Jaysson brings strong leadership, a keen business sense and the market equity needed to drive advertiser performance and grow revenues. KGO and KSFO are legacy brands in which we will continue to invest to benefit our community, to enhance the user experience and to deliver superior advertiser results.”
Ben Finfer and Alex Quigley Also Casualties at Tribune Media. With the reported looming end of Tribune Media’s nine-month-old sports talk experiment on WGWG-LP comes news two staffers – Ben Finfer and Alex Quigley – learned about their imminent dismissal via Twitter while on the air. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the “Quigs and Finfer” personalities spoke on air about their disappointment, with Finfer saying, “We’re doing a live show here and to be told this way, it’s really a letdown. We’re getting screwed on this one…We just found out on Twitter a half hour ago that the station is being taken off the air. We were not told about this ahead of time.” The story broke via a Tweet and blog post by Chicago media writer Robert Feder (and TALKERS passed along the story to you) who learned about the changes from inside sources. It appears WGN and WGWG-LP management didn’t anticipate the news leaking out and although the station has not been performing in the ratings against competitors WSCR and WMVP, this is a bit of a PR black eye for Tribune Media.
Dave Ramsey Rocks Austin’s Bass Concert Hall. No, nationally syndicated financial talk superstar and best-selling author Dave Ramsey didn’t sing (as far as we know), but he did pack the house at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas last night (11/20) nonetheless. Ramsey presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” event in which he discusses how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. Ramsey worked with local affiliate KJCE “Talk Radio 1370 AM” to promote this event. Entercom VP/market manager Alan Kirshbom comments, “Austin loves Dave! We are proud to welcome him back for what promises to be another exciting and uplifting event.” Pictured here are (from left to right): KJCE promotions director Aaron Hurd, KJCE director of sales Heather Baumli, Ramsey, KJCE program director Stephen Kerr, Kirshbom, and KJCE general sales manager Bob Woche.
RAB: Radio’s Q3 Revenue Dips 2%; Off-Air and Digital Jump. The 2014 third quarter radio revenue report from the Radio Advertising Bureau concludes radio’s total revenue dipped 2% — a bit better than Q2’s 3% drop (all comparisons are versus the same period in 2013). Breaking it down, spot revenue and network revenue fell back 3% and 4% respectively in Q3 this year compared to last, but digital and off-air revenue were up by 11% and 14% respectively. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber comments, “The increasing strength of radio’s digital platforms becomes more evident every quarter as advertisers recognize the unparalleled benefits of reaching radio’s dedicated audiences on every device and platform they are using. In addition, the growth in off-air opportunities for advertisers is a clear indication that radio is focused on continuing to deliver more innovative solutions to help them reach their consumers.” See the RAB’s report here.
Odds & Sods. Longtime Arkansas talk show host and programmer Dave Elswick begins duties as program director and afternoon drive host at Crain Media Group-owned KHTE, Little Rock. His program will also air on the company’s KSMD, Searcy, Arkansas (about 50 miles northeast of Little Rock) as Elswick begins building out the Dave Elswick Network. He worked for years at Cumulus Media’s KARN-FM, Little rock as PD and personality…..SiriusXM adds former NBA head coach George Karl to its roster of hoops experts on its NBA Radio channel. He debuts today (11/21) from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET and will host regularly throughout the season…..CBS RADIO‘s all-news KNX, Los Angeles will present a special program titled, “Immigration: The President Acts,” on Monday (11/24) from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. The show will include expert guests and listener call-ins. KNX anchor Tom Haule and chief investigative reporter Charles Feldman will host the show.
Bell Media to Lay Off 80 Employees. Canadian broadcast giant Bell Media is announcing personnel cuts across its radio division that will affect some 80 people. As reported by the Windsor Star, the Windsor market (which operates four stations that also serve Detroit listeners) will lose seven staffers, but those people haven’t been identified yet. The stations in Windsor include: triple A CKLW-FM “The River 93.9,” alternative CIMX “89X,” oldies CKWW and news/talk CKLW-AM. The paper notes that Bell Media cut about 120 positions in the radio division back in June.
MIW Announces 2015 Mentoring Program. The details of the 2015 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program from the Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group are available. The 14-year-old program matches up-and-coming women in the radio industry with female professionals recognized as leaders in all aspects of radio. 2015 Mentoring Committee chair Lindsay Cerajewski (who also serves as sales manager at CBS RADIO’s WUSN, Chicago) says, “This is a wonderful opportunity for mentees to gain valuable insight, knowledge and access to some of the most influential women in radio. We look forward to another outstanding program in 2015.” A total of four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry – within the sales, marketing, programming and digital disciplines – will be selected for the 2015 program. Of those, at least one spot will be designated for a programming candidate, and one spot designated for a digital candidate. For mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply, please visit http://tinyurl.com/miwmentee. The deadline to apply is Friday, December 12, 2014.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Genesis Communications Network-syndicated Dr. Joy Browne program is added to the program schedule at WGNC, Gastonia, North Carolina.
Obama Amnesty Executive Action Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 17-21. The plan by President Obama to use executive action to give amnesty to some 5 million undocumented aliens was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was the videotaped speeches of Affordable Care Act architect Jonathan Gruber. At #3 was the tension over the grand jury’s anticipated decision whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and at #4 was the record snowfall in Buffalo and the early cold snap. 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. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Veteran Radio Programmer Kevin Metheny Succumbs to Heart Attack at 60. Longtime broadcasting executive and major talk radio programmer Kevin Metheny has unexpectedly died yesterday (10/3) afternoon due to what is being reported as a sudden heart attack at the age of 60. Metheny had been serving as operations manager of Cumulus Media outlets KGO and KSFO in San Francisco since June. Before that he was program director of WJR, Detroit, also a Cumulus station. He was a second generation radio professional, the son of broadcaster Terrell Metheny. John Dickey, EVP programming and content for Cumulus issued the following statement: “Kevin Metheny’s sudden passing this afternoon is a devastating personal and professional loss for his broadcasting family at Cumulus, and for the entire radio industry. Kevin was a legendary broadcasting talent who touched many lives in his remarkable 44-year career, and whose successes made an indelible mark on radio. His reputation and accomplishments are simply unparalleled and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him as PD of WJR in Detroit and most recently, as operations manager of KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. His Cumulus family extends our deepest sympathies to Kevin’s loved ones. We will miss him profoundly.” Metheny began working in radio at KWHP, Edmund, Oklahoma and WKY, Oklahoma City. His long and storied career includes having worked at a number of key radio stations around the country, most notably as programmer of WNBC, New York with Howard Stern (who critically dubbed a character in his autobiographical book Private Parts based on Metheny, “Pig Vomit”) in the 1980s and in more recent times with Jacor, Clear Channel and the Randy Michaels regime at WGN, Chicago. TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison states, “Metheny was one of the major radio programmers of the modern era. He had a keen understanding of the basics of talk radio and the important role talent plays within it. He wasn’t afraid of controversy nor subjecting himself to criticism. After more than four decades of making a difference in this industry he was still involved in one of the hot spots of action where he was well on his way to engineering a turn-around at the Cumulus operations in San Francisco. This is a tragic loss for all of us who care about radio. Our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.”
Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck Return to KSFO, San Francisco. This move announced by Cumulus Media comes just a few days after local personality Spencer Hughes exited the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot at KSFO. Now, the company says Rush Limbaugh will occupy that show time while Sean Hannity will air from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm followed by Glenn Beck from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight. Michael Savage and Mark Levin will continue to air in the afternoons. Now the big question is what are Clear Channel’s plans for KNEW “960 The Patriot” after the three Premiere Networks shows jump across the street? A likely option would be to plug in Fox Sports Radio Network programming. We can expect Clear Channel to make its intentions known relatively soon. The start date for the changes is September 29.
Cumulus Media Realigns Executive Structure; Jon Pinch to Retire. Calling this move a part of the goal to “enhance the company’s strategic and operational focus and leverage its business platform,” Cumulus Media president and CEO Lew Dickey announces the company is eliminating the co-COO posts that John Dickey and Jon Pinch have shared for years, the assignment of John Dickey to the new EVP of content and programming position, and the retirement of Jon Pinch after a 45-year career in the business. Lew Dickey says, “Our vision has been to build the radio company of the future and that is exactly what we are achieving. Towards that end, we have strategically broadened the company’s scope and now have in place differentiated distribution channels and multiple content development platforms. To accelerate our plans, we are putting in place a new organizational structure to reflect the company’s strategic evolution, bringing clarity, focus and accountability to key leadership roles in both our station and network groups.” A number of changes will take place in addition to Pinch’s retirement. Cumulus has retained the services of the search firm Spencer Stuart to seek an executive vice president of radio. That person will be “focused on providing day-to-day operational and strategic leadership of Cumulus’ radio station group consisting of its 460 stations in 90 U.S. markets.” Steve Shaw has been promoted from his SVP Cumulus national sales post to president of Westwood One. As for John Dickey, his new position will entail focusing on developing and maximizing content and programming. The company says, “Establishing this focused position recognizes the critical importance of Cumulus’ development and promotion of content and programming across the company’s station group, Westwood One network and other media platforms including Nash and Rdio.”
Sandy Buttweiler Leaves KFGO, Fargo and Radio for Job Outside the Industry. As reported in Prairie Business Magazine, longtime Fargo radio personality Sandy Buttweiler has resigned from her talk show position to take a job outside the radio biz. Buttweiler co-hosted the Jack & Sandy show with longtime partner Jack Sunday at Midwest Communications-owned KFGO, Fargo. As the paper notes, Buttweiler joined KFGO in 1982 and has worked there during three different stints as well as at other stations in the market, including crosstown WDAY. She told listeners there were no problems at the station and that she “was presented with an opportunity about six weeks ago. After careful and thoughtful consideration, it just seemed like the right time to take on this new opportunity.”
‘The News That Makes You Think’ Hits 100 Affiliate Mark. The newest feature from XtreMedia and hosted by Kevin McCullough passes the 100 affiliate mark after just 90 days in production. McCullough’s program – “The News That Makes You Think” – is airing in markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Phoenix, Tampa, Portland, Nashville, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and Las Vegas. McCullough tells TALKERS magazine that, when launched in June, his company believed there would be a market for this type of feature and he describes it, saying, “The content is designed to offer a substantive look at national, political, and human interest stories. But every newscast provides information important to families and people of faith. And at the end of the day it’s about telling great stories!” McCullough says that across the Monday-Friday XtreMedia platform, 413 unique stations are airing the company’s programming.
WGN, Chicago Re-Ups Steve Cochran. As reported by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, WGN, Chicago morning drive personality Steve Cochran signs a four-year contract extension to continue with the Tribune Broadcasting outlet. As Feder points out, over the past year Cochran has performed well for WGN. In the most recent Nielsen Audio PPM survey, Cochran was #2 in the market (Persons 6+) with a 5.4 share. Cochran tells Feder, “Thanks to my amazing staff of Andrea Darlas, Dave Eanet, Orion Samuelson, Mary Vandevelde, Kevin Powell and my son, Ross, 5:00 am is actually fun. Working for Jimmy de Castro, Todd Manley and Larry Wert is as good as it gets — and I feel like we are just getting started.” Read Feder’s column here.
Round Three of August PPM Data Released. The third of four rounds of August 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Columbus. The survey period was July 17 through August 13. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Ethnic WCGO, Chicago Begins Shift Toward Issues Talk Format. The Evanston, Illinois signal has been an ethnic time-brokered station since 1978 but consultant Tim Disa says that with a newly approved power increase to 10,000 watts (daytime), the station is revamping the programming, starting with the 12:00 noon to 6:00 pm daypart. Franklin Raff – a 39-year-old former producer for the G. Gordon Liddy show – is now hosting the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm show, followed by Radio America’s Dana Loesch from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and former crosstown WIND personality Geoff Pinkus hosting the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program. Additionally, the station is carrying Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory in the overnight daypart. Disa says the goal of the station is to create “new, more inclusive content – a bit more libertarian and we will be reaching out to a younger generation using humor and common sense.”
Odds & Sods. At the Salem Radio Network operations in Washington, DC, Jeff Matzka is named chief engineer. The operation includes the Washington, DC bureau of the SRN News and the studios of the Bill Bennett “Morning in America” show…..The new flagship station for the NBA’s Washington Wizards is CBS RADIO’s all-news WNEW-FM, Washington (licensed to Bowie, Maryland). The station reports that D.C. area play-by-play broadcaster Dave Johnson will return for his 17th season calling Wizards games, and is joined for the 7th year by analyst Glenn Consor…..Clear Channel’s news/talk WHJJ, Providence and classic hits WWBB “B101” will be the new flagship stations for University of Rhode Island football and men’s basketball this season. WHJJ will also air the 16 Dan Hurley shows featuring the Rams’ head basketball coach.
Celebrating Success. Nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Savage is pictured here aboard his family yacht in the New York harbor addressing representatives from syndicator Westwood One, Cumulus-owned WABC Radio, and several high-profile clients and partners. Using the occasion of the success of his latest book, Stop the Coming Civil War (Center Street 2014), Savage used the tale of his grandfather’s immigration from Russia almost 100 years ago to express why America needs to reward hard work and not take from those who are productive. This event on NYC’s Chelsea Pier also caught the eye of the New York Post’s Page Six.
Mike Gallagher Plays the Cowardly Lion. Regular TALKERS readers know one of Salem Radio Network host Mike Gallagher’s interests is the theatre – Gallagher won a 2013 Tony Award as an investor in the Broadway revival of “Pippin.” In addition to the numerous roles he’s played on the stage over the years, Gallagher (pictured here in full make-up for dress rehearsal) is currently playing the Cowardly Lion in the South Carolina Children’s Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz.
US ISIS Strategy and Journalist Beheadings Top Stories on News/Talk Radio for Week of September 1-5. The controversy over the United States’ military policy regarding the ISIS campaign in Iraq and the recent beheadings of two American journalists tied atop the Talkers TenTM for the week of September 1-5. At #2 this week was the Al Qaeda jihad threat tied with the missing Libyan airliners. Coming in at #3 was the mid-term elections and the prospects for the 2016 presidential race followed by the Justice Department’s probe of the Ferguson, Missouri police department 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.
Comedienne and Talk Host Joan Rivers Dead at 81. Media personality Joan Rivers will be remembered for her work as a comedienne – most notably for her acerbic red carpet commentary shows and her long stint guest hosting “The Tonight Show” for Johnny Carson – but she was also a radio talk show host who worked for five years both on WOR, New York and the WOR Radio Network. Former WOR program director David Bernstein – who now serves as GM of TALKERS broadcast operations – hired Rivers for her radio gig to replace Barry Gray at the station. Bernstein says, “Joan loved radio. She understood that timing in comedy translates differently on radio than on TV, or any other medium. And she let me teach. She was hungry to conquer a new medium.” Bernstein says Rivers was unlike stars from other media who dabble in radio. “She may have been the hardest-working person I’ve ever supervised. She showed up at the station to do her show even while on vacation. I asked her, ‘What are you doing here?’ She said, ‘My plane came in early, so why not work? I love being on the radio!’” He says Rivers was also very generous to those around her at the radio station. “She filled in for me in Providence at WPRO. She came to Rhode Island, bought lunch for the entire six-station cluster and did every TV interview I could set up. She also hosted Rush’s show for one of the weeks he was out. She knew she’d upset the apple cart, and that pleased her.” Bernstein says managing Rivers left him with no end of funny stories. “I had to tell her she can’t have her nails done during the show because she is not close enough to the mic, not to mention it screws up her concentration. But, perhaps that most memorable night was when she came in for her show straight from cosmetic surgery, and was…uh, unable to do a comprehensive show. I pulled her off after the first break, and instead of anger, she expressed gratitude that I protected her image by taking her off the air that night. As you can imagine, her language had always been an issue. After three bad words, I had to suspend her for a week. Although she was angry, I convinced her that she should go on the media tour to discuss the FCC language rules, and she hit “Entertainment Tonight,” “The Today Show,” “Larry King Live” and a slew of others. It was a Joan Rivers bonanza – great press for WOR – all thanks to Joan’s skilled use of the word ‘shit.’”
Sean Hannity to Lead WDBO-FM, Orlando Live Event. The live stage production is being called “Red, White, & Truth: Solutions for America,” and is presented by Cox Media Group-owned news/talk WDBO-FM, Orlando “News 96.5.” It will take place October 30 at the CFE Arena at the University of Central Florida. Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity, along with Radio America-syndicated personality Dana Loesch, Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade and talk host Herman Cain will present “a dynamic on-stage discussion about current issues in the news, including the 2014 Florida Congressional Gubernatorial races.” Listeners can buy tickets starting at $25 and have the option of a VIP experience that includes a meet-and-greet plus photo op with the hosts. “News 96.5” program director Drew Anderssen says, “We often tell our listeners, ‘when we’re not doing the news, we’re talking about the news,’ and this event gives listeners an opportunity to engage with our hosts in a live, interactive setting, to hear their off-the-cuff remarks on major topics affecting the nation and Central Florida.”
Spencer Hughes Exits KSFO, San Francisco. After a six month stint hosting the late morning show on Cumulus Media’s KSFO, San Francisco, talk personality Spencer Hughes resigns from the station. On his Facebook page and website, Hughes says he refuses to be negative about his departure from the station and says, in part, “I am at peace with my departure from KSFO. It was the home of my talk radio debut back on December 31, 1994. I worked and befriended some of the biggest legends in the business. This New Year’s Eve would have been my 20th anniversary hosting the Spencer Hughes show and I had always envisioned it would be behind the mic of the station that gave birth to my vision and dream 20 years ago.” Hughes promises fans his show will be back “even bigger and better.”
Nielsen Audio Today: 68% of Americans Hear Network Radio. The latest Nielsen “Audio Today Report” indicates that nearly seven in 10 Americans – 68% — are reached by network radio that emanates from such distributors as AdLarge Media, American Urban Radio Networks, Crystal Media Networks, Premiere Networks, United Stations Radio Networks and Westwood One. Among the data Nielsen reports includes: Listeners reached by these networks are highly qualified consumers — 74% of all full-time workers listen to network radio; 69% of those with household incomes over $75,000 per year listen to network radio and 66% of college graduates tune in each week, too. Nielsen also says the study indicates 51.5 million Millennials are “engaging with network radio.” Read the entire study here.
Steve Gallagher Launches Creative Talent, Inc. Longtime broadcasting executive Steve Gallagher announces the formation of Creative Talent, Inc. – a broadcast talent agency focused on talent, content management and representation. Most recently, Gallagher was an EVP with Sun Broadcast Group. He says in a statement, “We are in a new age and never before has the power of the personality and content creator been more important. Never before have there been more platforms, distribution channels and opportunities for all creative talent to advance. At Creative Talent, we are committed to representing the most talented personalities and content creation companies and provide them with the individual attention for them to amass huge success and reach their full potential. At the same time, Gallagher announces his company has formed a strategic alliance with ConnectPal – the platform recently debuted by talk media personality Andy Dean. Dean comments, “Steve Gallagher gets it. Steve is a forward thinker and his great talent relationships are the key to unlocking the future of content distribution. I am extremely excited to work with Steve and Creative Talent, Inc.”
Premiere Networks and DirecTV Renew Dan Patrick Deal. The agreement between Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks and DirecTV for the Dan Patrick sports talk show is renewed, though the term of the deal is not announced. The pact means Premiere Networks will continue providing exclusive ad sales representation and radio distribution for the show and it will continue to be part of the Fox Sports Radio Network lineup.
Round Two of August PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of August 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The survey period was July 17 through August 13. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Michael Bloomberg Returns to Bloomberg LP. Nine months after leaving the New York City mayor’s office, Michael Bloomberg has a renewed presence at news organization Bloomberg LP. At the end of this year, current president and CEO Daniel Doctoroff will exit the company and it’s being reported by USA Today that Bloomberg will not seek an immediate successor to Doctoroff but will run the company with the assistance of other company executives. Doctoroff is a close friend of Bloomberg and served as Deputy Mayor until 2008 when he left to become president of Bloomberg LP. He became CEO in 2011. Though the two deny there is any bad blood between them over Bloomberg’s return to the company, it’s being reported that Doctoroff was irked by Bloomberg’s becoming involved again in day-to-day operations.
Odds & Sods. WFAS-AM, White Plains, New York talk show host Lisa Wexler is now heard on WGCH, Greenwich, Connecticut as the 4:00 pm hour of her program is being simulcast on the station…..Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington and WTOP.com become the first U.S. radio partner to enter into an agreement with the Waze Broadcast Program – a network of news media using the Waze navigation service’s real-time information to supplement their traffic reporting. The partnership will allow the WTOP traffic department access to a special version of the Waze app to help reporters identify, capture and report the most newsworthy incidents in real-time. In exchange, WTOP is branding Waze user content when the information is incorporated into reports…..WING-AM, Dayton “ESPN Radio 1410” is adding another hour to the program “Dayton Sports Scene with Mark Neal” — doubling the show to two hours. Alpha Media reports the new show time — from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm — comes as the result of Alpha Media’s recent entry into the Dayton market with the commitment of more “live and local” programming.
‘We’ll Miss You, Ann.’ Those are the words on the cake you see being presented to retiring ABC News Radio White House correspondent Ann Compton aboard Air Force 1. She was toasted in the press cabin en route to Estonia yesterday morning and treated to the rich, chocolate layer cake in celebration of her final flight after 41 years. Upon landing, Ann was invited for a private visit to the front cabin with President Obama. She was given a peek at his private quarters – complete with double-sink bathroom, full shower, and living area — which Ann says still looks the same as when President George H.W. Bush gave her a tour back when the Boeing 747 had its first presidential flight 20 years ago!
Cool Job Opportunity. If you love pro sports, have the passion to sell and have a track record of winning, WTMJ Radio may have the opportunity for you. WTMJ has a rare opening in its sports marketing group for a sports account manager to drive revenue for flagship WTMJ’s Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers broadcast partnerships. Connect with WTMJ’s director of sales, Tom Sheridan at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know how you can play a big role on a winning team.
US-UK’s NATO Tactic Against ISIS/Journalist Beheadings, Russia-Ukraine Military Tensions, Hacked Naked Celeb Pics/Apple iCloud Troubles, Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Prospects, Ebola Virus Pandemic Threat, Ferguson PD to Be Investigated by Justice Department, and Start of NFL Season Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/3). The US and UK’s plans to seek a NATO coalition to fight ISIS and the beheadings of American journalists; the ongoing military tensions between Ukrainian forces and Russia; the controversy over the hacking of celebrities’ naked photos and questions about the security of Apple’s iCloud; the looming mid-term elections and prospects for the 2016 presidential race; the threat of an Ebola virus pandemic; the U.S. Justice Department’s plan to investigate the Ferguson, Missouri police department; and the start of the NFL season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Talk Host Ethan Bearman Brings Microphone to Israel – Reporting Observations on Interested Talk Shows. Forty-eight hours ago rising talk show juggernaut Ethan Bearman – heard locally at KSFO, San Francisco and nationally via GCN — returned from a whirlwind trip to Israel where he gathered first-hand experience regarding the situation on the ground. During his self-sponsored trip, Bearman did a number of live reports from the scene on KSFO as well as his GCN affiliates plus a number of other interested stations around the US. Bearman first visited the front-line cities of Ashkelon and Sderot, observing the conflict in Gaza. He met with citizens and officials on the ground, observed ambulances bringing the wounded to Barzilai Medical Center, and examined an Iron Dome installation. He then travelled to the West Bank. Delving deep into the region he stopped at settlements, a university, and an industrial zone. His final day involved Old City Jerusalem during a Palestinian “Day of Rage” and a trip to Tel Aviv to see the cosmopolitan city and get a read on how the latest escalation of conflict has impacted day-to-day life there. Bearman tells TALKERS, “While on the hill overlooking the fighting in Gaza, I called in to the KSFO morning show. Sheri Yee answered the phone and put me on live with Brian Sussman and Katie Green. While sharing my experiences, a volley of artillery fired. It was so intense, my call was interrupted. After the call, I turned to look toward Gaza.” Bearman continues, “It was here that I felt the stress, this deep emotion, the subconscious recognition of danger, as I observed smoke in the distance, military vehicles nearby, explosions of a terror tunnel being blown up, the earth shaking from howitzers.” Bearman’s interviews originated in the Voice of Israel studios involving top government officials, former ambassadors, soldiers, a pastor, a Meronite IDF soldier, and others. Bearman also interviewed well-known Israeli actress Sendi Bar (pictured above), from the TV series “The Unit” and Israel’s “Prisoners of War,” known to American audiences as “Homeland.” Bearman says the trip showed the truth on the ground to be radically different than what is regularly portrayed in social media and major international media outlets. He expresses gratitude to the US-based organization America’s Voices in Israel and Israel-based group The Face of Israel for facilitating much of his dramatic access to the action and important guests. Ethan Bearman is available to do interviews about the trip and his observations on talk shows and networks this entire week, telling TALKERS, “I did this trip at my own expense for the sole purpose of bringing an American talk radio voice and set of eyes to the action. I am gratified by the number of stations participating in my commentaries.” Interested broadcasters can reach Bearman by phone at 831-531-7131 or via email at email@example.com.
Florida Talk Host Shannon Burke Debuts on Tampa and Orlando Stations Tonight. After his most recent position as part of the Bubba the Love Sponge syndicated program, Florida talk show host Shannon Burke lands a gig hosting his own program on a pair of signals (actually a trio if you count the translator) in the Sunshine State. Burke’s program begins airing this evening – 7:00 pm to 10: 00 pm on Cox Media Group’s WHPT, Tampa “102.5 The Bone” (Bubba’s home base) and on Star Over Orlando’s sports talk WRSO, Orlando “810 CBS Sports Radio” and its translator W226BT. Burke hosted his own show on Clear Channel’s WTKS, Orlando “Real Radio 104.1” for years. Burke writes on his Facebook page, “After about 90 days of talks and meetings and phone calls I’m happy to finally be able to tell you that starting on Monday at 7pm The Shannon Burke Show will be heard on 102.5 The Bone in Tampa and CBS Sports Radio WRSO Orlando 810am & 93.1FM. Finally I can get some sleep.”
Anthony Cumia’s Internet Show Debuts This Afternoon. A month after being fired by SiriusXM for Tweeting a series of racially charged messages after an altercation with an African American woman in Times Square, Anthony Cumia begins producing his eponymous subscriber-only online video show and podcast today at 4:00 pm. Formerly one half of the Opie & Anthony show with partner Gregg “Opie” Hughes, Cumia tells TheBlaze that he’s completely free of any contractual ties to SiriusXM. “They don’t have a leg to stand on as far as what I want to talk about. I can talk about any of the staff, the management over there — and believe me, I will.” Cumia says in TheBlaze interview that he’s pleased with the number of O&A fans who’ve cancelled their SiriusXM subscriptions as a result of his firing and says the subscriptions to his show have surpassed his initial target. Read the story at TheBlaze here.
George Noory Uses ‘Coast to Coast AM’ to Lead EMP Awareness Campaign. Fearing that enough attention is not being paid to the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack or event, “Coast to Coast AM” host George Noory is announcing a campaign to protect and insulate the U.S. power grid against such an event that experts say could endanger the lives of millions of Americans. The campaign comes right after the news of a recent report by scientists that Earth narrowly avoided a catastrophic X-class solar flare on July 23, 2012, which Noory reported on “Coast to Coast AM” two years ago. Premiere Networks reports that Noory is working with WND (WorldNetDaily) to support and promote the campaign. Noory will regularly welcome scientific experts and government leaders to his program in an effort to inform the public about the vulnerability of America’s infrastructure and the need to retro fit the U.S. power grid, as well as the steps necessary to reduce the magnitude of an EMP event or attack. Noory states, “I implore all individual states, the president and members of Congress to immediately develop a plan to protect our power grid. The preservation of our great nation and the lives of its people are critical. It is not a matter of if, but when we will experience an EMP event or attack. We need to be ready now. I want to thank WND and Joseph Farah for joining this effort, which is imperative to our future.” Noory began this campaign by welcoming F. Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and author of A Nation Forsaken: EMP: The Escalating Threat of an American Catastrophe, to his show for a two-hour conversation. Maloof, whose book is published by WND, discussed the potential dangers of an EMP event; why only a few members of Congress, the military and scientific community are issuing the warnings; and what we should be doing to protect the U.S. from the devastation of an EMP event or attack. Noory also recently welcomed William R. Forstchen, professor of history and faculty fellow at Montreat College in North Carolina and author of One Second After, to discuss updates on the dangers of an EMP event, as well as steps to prepare.
Tribune Completes Spin-Off of Publishing Division; Tribune Media Company Is Born. The spin-off of the publishing businesses of Tribune Company is complete today and two new entities are born: Tribune Publishing and Tribune Media Company. The latter includes the non-publishing properties including news/talk WGN, Chicago and sports talk WGWG-LP, its online audio platform WGN.fm as well as Tribune Broadcasting, WGN America, Tribune Studios, Tribune Digital Ventures, and Tribune Real Estate. Tribune Media Company president and CEO Peter Liguori says, “In the last year, we have executed a strategy designed to embrace a rapidly changing media environment. We doubled the size of our broadcast group, re-launched our national cable network, WGN America, with high-quality original programming, and expanded our digital businesses that power some of the world’s leading media brands. The result is a rich and diverse portfolio of media properties and the birth today of Tribune Media Company.”
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Are All Posted. After two weeks of daily posting of video recordings of the main sessions, speeches and presentations made during last June’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014 — all of the content is now up and available for worldwide viewing on this media station. This amounts to a total of 14 files placed in the actual order that they occurred – starting with Sean Hannity’s opening keynote and concluding with Howard B. Price’s sobering advice for radio to be prepared to function in the public good during times of emergencies. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. To view any or all of this tremendously valuable content at no charge, please click here. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo. They will remain posted through the remainder of 2014.
When the Going Gets Tough…Blocked from reporting from the Detroit Lions training camp by – as Greater Media puts it – “the other sports talk station in town,” WMGC, Detroit “Detroit Sports 105.1” had to get creative. The station approached Tech Shop Detroit, whose facility borders the Lions practice field, and obtained permission to broadcast from the Tech Shop parking lot. The station then rented a 50-foot scissors lift from NES Rentals. Today, the station’s Ryan and Rico began broadcasting live for the first time from the scissor lift that you can see in the photo here. Photo: Jimmy Kemp.
Odds & Sods. With the demise of Premiere Networks’ carrying of the 24/7 Comedy format, a former affiliate of the format flips back to sports talk. Clear Channel’s WTGM, Salisbury, Maryland returns to sports programming – a format it last aired in 2012…..SiriusXM kicked off its third annual “SiriusXM College Sports Nation Camp Tour” yesterday (8/3) and will broadcast on location from college football training camps over the next 20 days. SiriusXM College Sports Nation hosts on the tour include Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George; former Alabama QB and National Championship winner Greg McElroy; former head coaches Gene Chizik, Houston Nutt and Dan Hawkins; former college coach and NFL GM Phil Savage; plus college football insiders Jack Arute, Mark Packer, Chris Childers and Taylor Zarzour.
Westwood One Kicks Off NFL Broadcast Season at Hall of Fame Weekend. The NFL’s regular season doesn’t begin until September 4 but the pre-season began this past weekend with the Hall of Fame Game between the New York Giants and the Buffalos Bills and the induction of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2014. Pictured here is Westwood One analyst James Lofton (far right) with members of the early-1990s Buffalo Bills. Bills great Andre Reed (third from left) was inducted over the weekend in the class of 2014. The other Bills greats who are already in the Hall of Fame are pictured here (from left to right): Thurman Thomas, Jim Kelly, Reed, head coach Marv Levy, Bruce Smith and Lofton.
World Renowned Psychic Star of Talkers New York 2014 Now Available for Radio Interviews. She was one of the most popular figures at the recent Talkers New York 2014 performing so many consecutive healings and readings at a small table in the exhibit area that she didn’t have a moment to even break away for lunch from the long line of attendees seeking a session with her. Kathleen Ann Milner was nothing short of a sensation at the conference on June 20th and since then TALKERS has been flooded with inquiries requesting information of her whereabouts and if and how she can be contacted for both personal readings and on air interviews. We are pleased now to report that Kathleen Ann Milner is available (at least for the remainder of the summer) to appear via telephone on talk shows. Michael Harrison describes her as “a natural side dish for this medium – one of the best and most credible psychics in the nation for those into that kind of thing.” To contact this unusual woman referred to as a “nice kind of oddity” call 571-926-8158 or visit her website at www.KathleenMilner.com.
Cool Job Opportunity. Clear Channel has a rare opportunity at its New York City station group for a full-time producer for News/Talk 710 WOR-AM. This position is based in Tribeca, New York. Responsibilities include: securing guests to appear on the radio program on an everyday basis, regularly scheduling multiple guests with prior approval of the host; you’ll be assigned the tasks of preliminary and final research information needed for the program, prior to the scheduled appearance of the guests; you’ll need to be confident, knowledgeable about the radio industry itself. Must have good writing skills and have the ability to develop great relationships and contacts; excellent judgment in prioritizing multiple stories and meeting deadlines; knowledge of current events and key local news figures; demonstrate organizational skills and must be flexible to multi-task, shift focus, and re-prioritize as the situation dictates; ability to work independently with minimal supervision and have demonstrated ability to use sound judgment and to make independent decisions; must be experienced in utilizing social media effectively; must have digital editing skills. If you’re overflowing with passion for radio and have a true desire to win and a great sense of team, we want to talk to you. Requirements: Must have 2-4 years hands-on radio producing experience in a medium and/or major market. Bachelor’s degree preferred. For more information and to apply, click here. EOE.
WYD Media Ad Sales Debuts. The New York-based sales venture being launched by WYD Media Management is called WYD Media Ad Sales, LLC and former Westwood One EVP of talk sales John Murphy takes the helm as president. WYD CEO Ron Hartenbaum announces the company will focus on personality-created spoken word content that’s distributed across multiple platforms such as audio, digital, video and more. He adds, “Based on his 30-year track record of success in national radio ad sales, specifically in the spoken word format, John is the ideal sales and marketing executive to build WYD Media Ad Sales.” Murphy, who spent more than a decade with Westwood One, comments, “This is the best time to start a new venture that focuses on monetizing spoken word content as the format expands across numerous distribution platforms. I look forward to working with WYD’s existing clients as well as creating new partnerships and content opportunities.” During his career Murphy has repped such talent as: Charles Osgood, Laura Ingraham, Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Clark Howard, Herman Cain, Mark Levin, Dennis Miller, John Gibson, John Tesh, Brian Kilmeade, Thom Hartmann, Lars Larson, Neal Boortz and more.
Ginny Morris Transitions to CEO of Hubbard Radio; Bruce Reese to Special Advisor Role. Since 1996, Bruce Reese had been serving Bonneville as president and CEO prior to the acquisition of the Bonneville stations by Hubbard in 2011. He kept his president and CEO role and joined Hubbard. Ginny Morris has been chair of the Hubbard board since 2011. Now, Reese will step back into a special advisor role and Morris will become chief executive officer. The company states that Reese has been “instrumental in the transition when the 17 Bonneville radio stations across four markets (Washington, D.C., Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati) were purchased by Hubbard Radio. The acquisition also meant the addition of 547 Bonneville employees.” Morris says, “Working with Bruce over these last three-and-a-half years on the integration, first on the Bonneville assets and subsequently those we bought from Sandusky and merged into a new Hubbard Radio, has been a great experience. Bruce is smart and strategic and he shares many of the values that our family holds dear — a commitment to localism, honesty and integrity. He has helped to establish a great foundation for the company and we are grateful to still have the benefit of his wise counsel.” Reese comments, “Over the last two decades, I’ve had the opportunity to run two great radio companies. After Bonneville was brought into Hubbard Radio, we all worked to preserve the values and spirit of both organizations while creating one corporate identity and culture. The success of the transition has exceeded my hopes, and I am grateful for the trust shown to me by Ginny and the entire Hubbard Radio family. Our company is performing well, and the time is right for Ginny to step into this role. I look forward to continuing to work with the Hubbard team in an advisory capacity while eagerly looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”
O&A Fans in ‘Watch and Wait’ Mode After Anthony Cumia’s July 3 Firing. Fans of the Opie & Anthony show on SiriusXM are waiting to see if co-host Gregg “Opie” Hughes continues the show without longtime partner Anthony Cumia after Cumia was fired from the satcaster on Friday, July 4. By now you’ve probably heard about Cumia’s vulgar rant about his confrontation with an African American woman in Times Square who was reportedly upset she was in his camera’s field of view as he took photos on the street. An altercation took place during which Cumia says the woman began punching him. Police were not called to the scene. Cumia took to Twitter to talk about the incident and used foul language while making the woman’s race part of the issue. After being fired, he Tweeted that SiriusXM “decided to cave” and fired him for something that didn’t happen on air and wasn’t illegal. TALKERS is not aware of the content of Cumia’s contract with SiriusXM but it appears the satcaster was within its rights to terminate him. He’s neither the first nor will he be the last radio personality to lose his gig after a Twitter rant. The advice seems obvious: Your employer will ultimately see what you do in the digital world; consider how the company would view your actions before posting.
Ethan Bearman Produces and Performs One-Hour Independence Day Special on WPHT, Philadelphia. Rising talk star Ethan Bearman, who is regularly heard weekends on Cumulus O&O KSFO, San Francisco and nationally on Genesis Communications Network (GCN), has expanded his broadcasting footprint to include CBS O&O WPHT, Philadelphia. Bearman was smartly recruited by WPHT, PD Jared Hart to do a live hour of Independence Day content last Friday between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm ET on Philly’s 50k flamethrower and reports from the TALKERS monitoring corps indicate that it was a provocative, informative and powerful hour of spoken word radio. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “Bearman analyzed the historical, cultural and political fabric of the American institution of the 4th of July in a meticulous and precise manner that had a number of ‘aha!’ moments. He took intelligent calls and made a number of really relevant points that left the audience thinking. I especially like the way he compared the leaders of that period – those folks we call the ‘Founding Fathers’ – to today’s crop of politicians asking the question, “Are there any political leaders today who would sign a document supporting an issue and campaign in which they believed at the significant risk of their lives?” Bearman was part of a larger WPHT July 4th salute in which station morning and midday hosts Chris Stigall and Dom Giordano broadcasted their shows from the Independence Hall Visitors Center.
Jason Lewis to End GCN Syndication Run. As tipped by “Free Talk Live” host Ian Freeman, nationally syndicated talk show host Jason Lewis will cease his syndication efforts with Genesis Communications Network effective August 1. Lewis first ventured into syndication from his Twin Cities home base several years ago with Premiere Networks. After his relationship with Premiere Networks ended, he joined GCN for national syndication three years ago. There’s no indication whether Lewis will leave flagship station KTLK, Minneapolis at that time.
Brad and Britt Debut Podcast Today from Branded Studio. Following up on last week’s report about the new podcast project being produced by talk radio personalities Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire, the two inform TALKERS that when they begin their podcast show – available for download by 3:00 pm ET today – they will be doing so from their sponsored studio: The Brad and Britt Tarheeldentist.com Studio. In a piece about the duo’s exit from WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte in the Greensboro News & Record, Krantz says they believe that money is starting to flow in the direction of audio on demand and are excited about the new venture.
Alpha Media Promotes Portland Cluster Marketing Pro Randi P’Pool to Corporate Position. This promotion for Portland market director of marketing Randi P’Pool comes shortly after the completed merger of Alpha Broadcasting, L&L Broadcasting and Main Line Broadcasting. P’Pool’s new title is corporate VP of marketing and promotions. Alpha Media president/CEO Bob Proffitt states, “I’m very happy Randi has accepted this position, as she has proven to be an invaluable asset to our Portland cluster and now will be true resource to the Alpha Media markets. She is creative, intelligent, and relentless – perfect qualifications for a corporate VP of marketing and promotions.” P’Pool comments, “I owe much gratitude to Bob Proffitt, Scott Mahalick and Larry Wilson for giving me the opportunity to be part of this exciting journey not only in radio but within our company. I look forward to continuing to grow and promote the live and local brand across all of our markets.” Prior to joining Alpha Broadcasting three years ago, P’Pool served with Citadel Broadcasting in the Salt Lake City market.
AdLarge Ups Tom Fleming. Adding more duties at AdLarge Media is Tom Fleming who is promoted to vice president, Midwest sales and sports sales. In this expanded role, Fleming will be responsible for the AdLarge repertoire of live, play-by-play NFL and NCAA football offerings, Yahoo Sports Radio, and all Midwest sales, including the Detroit office. Fleming had been serving as vice president, Midwest sales since joining AdLarge in October, 2013.
Pascagoula, Mississippi Radio Personality Walter Thornton Dead at 53. The Pascagoula-Moss Point community is mourning the death of local morning radio host and sportscaster Walter Thornton, who died over the holiday weekend of an apparent heart attack. The SunHerald reports the 53-year-old broadcaster was a standout high school athlete who remained involved in the local sports scene and became a sports talk host covering the prep scene in the area. Most recently he hosted the morning show and sports talk programs at Tri City Radio-owned WPMO, Pascagoula-Moss Point and sister station WVGG, Lucedale.
Will It Be “Governor Freeman?” Probably not, as “Free Talk Live” host Ian Freeman admits he’d have trouble “governing” anyone even if he beat the odds and is elected. But the co-host of the New Hampshire-based, GCN nationally syndicated show says his goal with the campaign is two-fold: “First, to needle the current governor, Maggie Hassan, on her refusal to decriminalize or legalize cannabis in NH, while admitting she smoked it in college; second, to promote the idea of NH declaring independence from the United States.” Freeman says he’s available for interviews from interested broadcasters about these issues. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Freeman is pictured here at far right while broadcasting from the recent Porcfest 2014 – the yearly camping gathering of libertarians that drew over 1,500 attendees, many of them FTL listeners. Also pictured are (from left to right) Free Talk Live’s Mark Edge, Nick Gillespie of Reason.com, and Jeffrey Tucker of Liberty.me.
Reaching Out to His Peeps. KIDO, Boise morning drive personality Kevin Miller rouses the crowd at the 48th annual Treasure Valley God and Country Festival. Miller tells TALKERS he was honored to fire up the crowd of some 9,000 that attended the festival to honors “faith and the military in Idaho.”
Cool Job Opportunity. Station Group in Little Rock Arkansas is looking to hire a General Manger to oversee all station operations for news/talk and sports talk. Sales acumen and experience in news and sports talk field a plus. Contact Steve Renfro at 479-287-4211 or by email at email@example.com.
Borrell Associates Releases Political Advertising Outlook; Radio’s Share to Shrink. But that’s not entirely unexpected by those who’ve been involved in political ad buys over the past few years. Even though Borrell estimates the total ad spend this year alone to be $8.3 billion, the media that will see an increase are cable and online. TV will lose market share at the expense of cable – due, Borrell concludes, to the more highly targetable nature of cable’s niche programming. While online is expected to see a big increase, it’s still a small part (3.3%) of the total political ad spend for 2014. Radio’s share is shrinking – from 6.5% of the total ad spend in 2010 to an estimated 5.8% this year. But that money — $485 million – is money the industry is banking on. Another item of note from Borrell is that 54% of the total ad spend comes in September and October. The ability to narrowly define a medium’s audience helps a political ad buy and if radio executives can show campaigns that they have a desired audience, the likelihood of getting the buy increases. For more information, see the Borrell Associates site here.
Clark Takes Helm of Journal’s Tucson Radio Stations. Assuming the VP/GM position at Journal Broadcast Group’s Tucson operations is Leon Clark, who comes to the company from his most recent post as sales manager for the digital audio aggregator TuneIn. Journal operates four stations in the market: adult contemporary KMXZ “94.9 Mix FM,” news/talk KQTH-FM, rhythmic oldies KTGV “106.3 The Groove,” and sports talk KFFN “ESPN Tucson.” Journal EVP – Radio Steve Wexler comments, “Leon’s broadcast and digital experience, as well as his strong leadership track record, makes him a great fit with Journal and our Tucson team. He embodies our core values of integrity, excellence, determination and innovation and I’m thrilled to welcome him to our company.” Clark comments, “I am honored to lead the Tucson team forward and to become part of a broadcast group that shares the same core values that I do. We have some incredible opportunities ahead of us and I look forward to much success for our Tucson team.”
WGN, Chicago Returns the Bird to Service. As Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports, Tribune Company news/talker WGN, Chicago is bringing the iconic marketing mascot the Bird – appropriately named Chicago – back into service to be the face of some of its marketing efforts. Instead of being a TV and print icon, the Bird will be a social media avatar for the station. Vice president of content and programming Todd Manley tells Feder, “The idea is to give the Bird a new life in a new space and really have it be the voice of Chicago through listening to WGN Radio.” Read Feder’s story here.
KSFO, San Francisco’s Bearman Talks Soccer and More During Weekend Remote. Rising talk radio star Ethan Bearman (pictured here at right) speaks with San Jose Earthquakes president Dave Kaval (left) outside Stanford Stadium during a Saturday evening broadcast on Cumulus Media’s KSFO, San Francisco. Bearman broadcast his program from the stadium on the occasion of the MLS match between San Jose and the Los Angeles Galaxy dubbed the California Classico. Bearman says the excitement of the World Cup and the biggest fireworks show in the Bay Area brought some 50,000 people out for the event. He says that although KSFO is not a sport talk-oriented station, the interview with Kaval, two-time MLS goalkeeper of the year and former Earthquake Joe Cannon plus the local non-sports topics make for a show that was a bit hit with the listeners and fans in attendance.
Geary Exiting Entercom Communications Post. Citing his desire to return to the political communications end of the business, Entercom director of strategic communications Kevin Geary announces he’s leaving his position with the company to focus full time on his political communications firm, Independence Strategy. Geary’s been with Entercom for the past three years and, during that time, he’s kept his own company in business. But he says he misses the political communications biz and wants to return. “The closer we got to the 2014 elections it was clear just how much I missed it. With 3 ½ years in corporate and media communications, I know I can offer clients a unique combination of political, business perspectives.”
Greater Media Sports Talkers to Air USA World Cup Game. As the USA soccer team continues its bid for the World Cup, Greater Media-owned WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” and WMGC, Detroit “Detroit Sports 105.1” will air the USA vs Belgium match live on Tuesday, July 1 at 4:00 pm ET. In addition WPEN-FM Mike Missanelli is broadcasting live from Pagano’s leading up to the match. Fans who join Missanelli in Center City will be able to watch the match on a 20-foot-by-17-foot screen, as well as on the televisions inside Pagano’s. WPEN-FM program director Matt Nahigian says, “We had an overwhelming amount of listeners asking us to air the US vs Germany game and it continued for Tuesday’s matchup. We’re excited to be able to provide the radio call of the game to our listeners.”
Cumulus Media Moves Kevin Metheny to KGO and KSFO, San Francisco. From his current position with Cumulus Media as program director of WJR, Detroit, Kevin Metheny will go West to take the helm of Bay Area news and talk stations KGO and KSFO as operations manager, effective July 14. The company says that Metheny is “a career content creator whose other recent work includes the successful launch of CBS RADIO’s country KMNB, “BUZ*N @ 102.9” in the Twin Cities; program director of WGN, Chicago; and 13 years with Clear Channel in various roles, including regional vice president of programming.” Cumulus EVP and co-COO John Dickey states, “Kevin Metheny’s reputation and accomplishments are unparalleled. His deep understanding of spoken-word radio and ability to work with bigger-than-life talents make him the ideal candidate to lead the legendary KGO and KSFO.” Metheny takes over for Ron Escarsega, who exits the stations.
WIND, Chicago Pulls Joe Walsh Off the Air After ‘Conversation About Words.’ Chicago talk show host (and former U.S. Congressman) Joe Walsh was pulled off his radio program on the Salem Communications-owned talk station yesterday (6/19) after he used a number of racial slurs while engaging in what he termed (via Twitter) “an honest, adult conversation about words without resorting to alphabet soup phrases (C-word, N-word etc.).” Walsh was riffing on the controversy over the NFL’s Washington Redskins losing its trademark due a recent Trademark Office decision. He Tweets that he “Found out that if I said Redskins or Cracker or Redneck Bible Thumper I could stay on. But if I said N***er or Sp**k, they cut me off.” As reported in the Daily Mail, Walsh is expected to be off the radio today and will meet with management later this afternoon. Walsh is fairly new to talk radio and apparently didn’t think an academic discussion was the same as outright use of the words he was discussing. Still, management is understandably skittish about the matter. Time will tell if this afternoon’s meeting is about setting it right or a pink slip for Walsh.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Takes Top Honors at IBA Awards Ceremony. Chicago news/talker WGN was honored with the Chicago Market Station of the Year award at the 2014 Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Awards ceremony held in Peoria on Wednesday, June 18. This is the seventh year running for WGN taking home that honor. The Tribune-owned station also was honored with first place wins in six categories, including: Best play-by-play team for Chicago Blackhawks broadcasters John Wiedeman and Troy Murray; Best radio series or documentary for “Beyond Bartman: The Story of the 2003 Cubs,” produced by David Kaplan, Trey Elling and Dan Levy; Best radio feature for “Halloween Rescheduled,” with Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder; Best station website for wgnradio.com; Best use of new media for the “Graveyard Shift Tours,” video with Nick Digilio and Dan Sugrue; and Best non-humorous commercial for “Des Plaines Golf Center,” produced by Jason Skaggs. WGN president and GM Jimmy de Castro states, “We are thrilled to have taken home seven awards and to be recognized by our peers at the Illinois Broadcasters Association. You can’t be named Chicago Market Station of the Year without terrific contributions from people like John and Troy of the Chicago Blackhawks and the incredibly talented family at WGN Radio. These awards are a testament to the strong sense of collaboration at our station and the amazing buzz in our hallways.”
Odds & Sods. The chairman of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will take over as general manager of sports talk KLAA, Orange, California after the exit of David Baronfeld. The radio management pro had been GM of the station for the past three years…..Compass Media Networks announces its NFL play-by-play schedule for the 2014 season. Some of the key games the network is offering include: the 49ers at the Cowboys on 9/7, the Raiders at the Seahawks on 11/2, and the Cowboys at the Bears on 12/4…..Sports USA also announces its NFL play-by-play schedule for the coming season. Games available through it include the Saints at the Falcons on 9/7, the Broncos at the Seahawks on 9/21, and the Packers at the Bears on 9/28…..Staradio Corp.-owned rock station WYKT, Kankakee, Illinois will flip to sports talk as “105.5 the Ticket” beginning July 10. The station will use CBS Sports Radio Network programming and will air NFL play-by-play from WestwoodOne as well as local high school football and basketball.
Joy at the United Nations. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Joy Browne (right) is pictured here interviewing an unidentified expert from the United Nations at yesterday’s “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations” – the massive radio row at the iconic headquarters of the World Organization — produced by TALKERS magazine in association with the Talk Radio News Service and the United Nations Foundation. Dr. Joy Browne will be at the Talkers New York 2104 conference taking place at the historic India House in Hanover Square today. Meet her there!
Iraq Turmoil Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of June 16-20. The political turmoil and violence taking place in Iraq and the Obama Administration’s policy toward the nation was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the crisis of child illegals pouring over the borders in the Southwest and the larger topic of immigration reform. At #3 was the recent primary results and races and the state of the GOP followed by Hillary Clinton’s memoir tied with speculation about the 2016 presidential race 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.
Rush Limbaugh’s Camp Responds to Media Matters Piece. The consumer media war against conservative talk radio – led by Media Matters for America – has, in general, not seen a lot of pushback from the program hosts themselves and the producers of the shows. But Premiere Networks-syndicated Rush Limbaugh, the chief target of criticism, fired back at Media Matters after a piece by its senior fellow Eric Boehlert was published in The Huffington Post that proclaimed Limbaugh’s program a ratings failure in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Limbaugh program spokesperson Brian Glicklich penned a response to Boehlert’s piece in which he takes Boehlert to task for, primarily, publishing the three stations’ weekly AQH numbers with the implication they are Limbaugh’s numbers before clarifying that later in his piece. He then adds his statistics about changes in Limbaugh’s ratings on those outlets. With just four months under his belt on these stations, one thing is for sure: Limbaugh is still the primary target for Media Matters and scrutiny of the these signals is something the industry will see a lot of over the next year or so.
You’re Here Because of Ben Hoberman. The recent passing of Ben Hoberman – the architect of KABC-AM, Los Angeles’ talk format in the early 1960s – has caused some of the industry’s great thinkers to look back at what made KABC and Hoberman so successful. Sabo Media CEO Walter Sabo writes today in TALKERS (5/6) that Hoberman understood the basic premise behind great talk radio: It’s a show. Sabo also says Hoberman followed a number of other prescriptions for success, including these two: He invested in new technology and he embraced fresh, often outrageous talent. Read Walter Sabo’s entire piece here.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Address AM Revitalization and Cross-Ownership Rules at PAB Meeting. At the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters meeting in Hershey on Monday (5/5), FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told the assembly that he wants to implement the workable aspects of the Commission’s AM revitalization program by the fall. He told the gathering, “Small broadcasters and large broadcasters alike want to revitalize AM radio. So do civil rights organizations and those favoring increased ownership diversity. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, the list goes on. Indeed, I’ve been amazed by the chord that AM revitalization has struck throughout the United States. When I made this proposal in September 2012, I never imagined the response we would receive…Time isn’t on the side of this grand old band, so let’s commit ourselves to getting this done by Halloween. Our proposals will not be a panacea for the real problems confronting AM broadcasters. But they will help. For example, I’ve heard from numerous AM broadcasters desperate for FM translators. That’s why we need to move forward with an FM translator window designed for AM broadcasters. If the FCC acts soon, that window could open next year. In addition to asking for comment in our NPRM on specific proposals, the Commission also solicited other ideas on how to improve the AM band, both in the short term and the long term. And we received many suggestions from station owners, engineers, and listeners. We need to sort through them and figure out which ones merit action and which ones need further study. Beginning this summer, I plan to hold a series of meetings with stakeholders to discuss these proposals. And I invite you to participate. If you have an idea for revitalizing the AM band, don’t be shy. It’s not too late to tell us what you think.” Regarding the cross-ownership rules, Pai is realistic about what can be accomplished, stating, “Unless the courts intervene, I see no prospect that the FCC will bring all of its media ownership rules into the 21st century in the next couple of years. But I do see a glimmer of hope when it comes to the newspaper-radio ownership ban. The Commission has signaled an openness to getting rid of this anachronism. And as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu put it, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’”
Newsweb Radio to Change Programming on Two Chicago FMs. The programming on two of the four stations currently airing Newsweb Radio’s progressive talk programming will cease and begin airing a Polish-language format under a time-brokerage deal. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has the story and he reports WCPT-FM, Arlington Heights at 92.7 and WCPQ-FM, Park Forest at 99.9 will begin airing the Polski.FM-branded format on June 2. Newsweb Radio president Charley Gross tells Feder the move will allow the company to focus progressive talk on its 820 AM flagship, 92.5 FM (which covers mainly the western suburbs and northwest Illinois) and its webstream while providing a source of revenue from the other two stations.
Saga Communications Net Income Down 9%. Although the company’s net operating revenue was up by 0.8% with $29,423,000 realized in the first quarter of 2014, net income for Saga Communications was down 9% from $2,949,000 in 2013 to $2,439,000 this year. Saga’s long term debt dropped from $58,828,000 during the same period in 2013 to $46,078,000 in 2014.
Odds & Sods. Changes in weekend programming at Cumulus Media’s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco put an end to Barbara Simpson’s weekly show…..Clear Channel adds a little FM strength to the market coverage of news/talk WRVA, Richmond. The formerly dark translator W253BI, licensed to Glen Allen, Virginia at 98.5 FM, gives WRVA more potential coverage in the northern part of the market…..The “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” presented by WYD Media nationally syndicated talk media personality Stephanie Miller rolls into Albuquerque for a show at Popejoy Hall on Saturday, May 10. Miller, along with fellow performers John Fugelsang and Carlos Alazraqui, will also do a show in Minneapolis on June 7.
Scianna Named BRN Director of Communications & Marketing. That is a brand new title for Bott Radio Network and the one landing it is Paul Scianna, founder/executive director of the first Missouri-based Family Policy Council associated with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Bott Radio Network president and chief executive officer Rich Bott states that, “This new role is consistent with the exciting growth of Bott Radio Network and will help facilitate our continuing expansion and use of new media platforms to better serve our listeners and broadcast ministry partners. Paul has been a longtime friend of the Bott family, and he has a passion for the mission, vision, and values of BRN. Paul will have a key role in serving our listening audience, broadcast ministry partners and business sponsors, as well as engaging community leaders, pastors and our associates as we implement new ways to advance our vision of getting the word of God into the people of God.” Scianna comments that he is “excited and humbled” to join BRN “at this point in the organization’s 52-year history. Bott Radio Network has established a strong foundation on which we can build to fulfill its vision of broadcasting the timeless message of hope.” Scianna previously was vice president of the college testing company ACT; manager of internal corporate communications for Sprint; and senior vice president of corporate and public affairs for the PR firm Fleishman Hillard.
Enjoying the Accolades. The staff of The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “WSJ This Morning with Gordon Deal” poses with their Excellence in Financial Journalism Award received from the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) which recognizes reporters from the national and local press whose work was published, posted or broadcast in 2013 and contributed to a better and balanced understanding of business or financial topics. The “WSJ This Morning” crew was honored with one of only 11 awards given by the organization for the program’s coverage of the government shutdown. Pictured here (from left to right) are: Mike Gavin, Gina Cervetti, Deal (holding the award) and Dave Duncan.
Obama WH Correspondents’ Dinner Speech, Mid-Term Election Prognostications, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Rice Withdraws from Rutgers Speech, and Clean Air Act Battle Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/5). Criticism of President Obama’s highly political speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner; the most recent polls indicating Democrats may suffer losses in the mid-term elections in November; continued aggression in Ukraine by pro-Russian forces; former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice withdraws from her speech at Rutgers University; and the political battle over the Obama Administration’s restrictions on power plant emissions as part of the Clean Air Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
TRN Companies and Cumulus Media Announce Amicable Westwood One Settlement. TRN Companies and Cumulus Media announced late Friday afternoon (3/7) that they have agreed to settle outstanding claims arising during previous ownership of WestwoodOne, acquired by Cumulus Media in December, 2013. Lew Dickey, president and CEO of Cumulus Media, said, “While Cumulus Media had no role in the lawsuits filed by TRN Companies, we are pleased to resolve these claims and move forward together. We remain supportive of each other and are optimistic for the future.” Mark Masters, CEO of TRN Companies, said: “We are pleased to ‘turn the page’ with the new owners of WestwoodOne and have put past issues behind us. As we build bridges together, we look forward to a mutually beneficial future working with our affiliated stations, customers, Lew and John Dickey and Cumulus Media.”
Emmis to Reward Employees with Stock. The company states that as part of its 2012 Employee Retention Plan, roughly 75% of its full-time employees are being notified they are eligible to receive what it is saying is “a sizeable stock award.” The company further states, “Emmis prides itself on being a destination employer in the media and digital industries, and as such, places a high value on cultivating a culture that allows us to attract and retain the best talent in our industries. The third of Emmis’ Eleven Commandments states: Be good to your people – get them into the game and give them a piece of the pie.” Eligible employees will receive a pro-rata share of approximately 976,000 shares of Emmis Communications common stock. Using Friday’s closing price, the 976,000 shares in the Retention Plan will deliver $3,240,000 in value to the 598 employees who qualify for the plan. To ensure a broad-based distribution, the Plan excluded executive officers and capped the level of salary credit at $50,000. As an example of the award size, a full-time employee of Emmis who has been with the company since April 2, 2012, with a salary of $40,000 per year will get approximately 1,480 shares. That equates to a market value of $4913.60, using the closing price last Friday, March 7 of $3.32. The awards will vest on April 2, 2014 and will be distributed to employees shortly thereafter. It will be their choice whether to hold or sell the stock.
KSFO, San Francisco Names Hughes Late Morning Host. Cumulus Media’s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco has been trying out talk show hosts in the late morning slot (billed on the station’s website as “KSFO Talk Show”) for the past several months. Now, the station names Spencer Hughes permanent host of the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Hughes’ resume includes stops at talk stations across America including WRKO, Boston; KGO, San Francisco; KTKZ, Sacramento; and KSRO, Santa Rosa.
WGN VP/GM Jimmy de Castro Talks Radio and More. The vice president and general manager of Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago and the new sports talk WGWG “The Game 87.7” spoke candidly with the Chicago Sun-Times for its online video feature “The Sit Down.” In the interview, de Castro throws out a number quips that’ll interest industry watchers. For example, he’s not trying to bring young listeners to WGN, “I don’t want a younger audience for ’GN. I want 35- to 65- or 70-year-old people.” He says he hasn’t committed a lot of money to his staff. “I don’t have one contract with one person on our station. Not one. They’re all here because of how they feel. Any time they want, they can walk out the door.” The one-time WLUP-FM leader also talks about his career and how he views life after all of his success. See it here.
Jack Roberts Dies at 62. Radio executive/on-air personality Jack Roberts died this past weekend in Los Angeles. Over the course of his career, the 62-year-old Roberts was a general manager, program director, on-air talk host, and producer. Most recently, the Boston College graduate and Massachusetts native was executive producer for CRN Digital Talk Radio programming, including “What’s Cookin’ Today.” CRN chief executive officer Michael Horn comments, “Jack truly understood and loved radio. He became an instant, caring friend to everyone he encountered.” Roberts thought he could get any guest or celebrity, and Horn remarks, “He almost always booked them. Guests and talent, but most especially the listeners, enjoyed what they heard. Jack’s legacy will live on through them and all of us. That would make him very proud.” Roberts was a senior producer on syndicated radio programs hosted by Dick Cavett, and Colonel Oliver North. He was in charge of production for “The Jerry Williams Show” and “The Doug Stephan Show.” His on-air experience includes stops at Boston’s WRKO, WMEX and WXKS; WPRO, Providence; and WDRC, Hartford – where he became general manager and program director. Roberts held those titles at WWRC, Washington, DC as well. Programmer Ron Jacobs writes, “Jack Roberts is great at shining the spotlight on others and not blowing his own horn.” Funeral services are pending for Roberts, who wrote a radio-themed blog – “HollywoodHillsGroup.com” – that highlighted industry achievements and gave publicity to on-air talent.
Twin Cities Star Tom Barnard Talks Podcasting in Profile Piece. Morning radio personality Tom Barnard – a 43-year Minneapolis-St. Paul market icon – is profiled by the Minneapolis Post. The star of Cumulus’ rock KQRS speaks about numerous topics – the death of the voice-over business, his rise to fame, and his decision to get more political after 9/11 – in the story and explains his separate business producing and selling ad time for his daily two-hour podcast. Barnard tells the Post that although he billed roughly $250,000 in 2013, the show is not in the black due to expenses including salaries and the cost of bandwidth. Barnard and partner Don Shelby (former WCCO personality) are not collecting a salary at this point. Barnard’s decision to sell ad time and not charge for subscriptions as well as to go after local ad dollars, flies in the face of the way many of the high-profile podcasters are doing it (think Tom Leykis and Adam Carolla). Read the entire Post story here.
Odds & Sods. In the Duluth market, Midwest Communications flips standards WGEE, Superior, Wisconsin to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio programming…..Sports radio pro Seth Everett becomes part of the New York Mets broadcasts on Clear Channel’s WOR, New York this season where he’ll be hosting the pre- and post-game programs…..Charlotte Knights minor league baseball will air on Greater Media’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte this summer as the station will carry 10 Saturday night home games and two Friday evening home games.
Chris Stigall Broadcasts from CPAC. The annual Washington, DC gathering of conservative politicians dubbed the Conservative Political Action Conference involves an active radio row and WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive host Chris Stigall (right) was in the middle of all the action last week as he broadcast his show from the event. He’s pictured here interviewing former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton (left).
WVBR Returns To Collegetown (Ithaca) in New, High Tech Studio Station to Hold March 15th Dedication Ceremony — Keith Olbermann Makes Major Donation. Proving that grassroots terrestrial radio is alive and well, WVBR-FM is returning home to Collegetown (a proud name sported by downtown Ithaca, New York – home of Cornell University and Ithaca College — per its reputation as being one of the best college towns in America) after a 14-year absence, with a newly-built, state-of-the-art studio. The new studio is located at 604 East Buffalo Street in Ithaca, next to the Carriage House Café and across from The Connection, Loco Cantina, and the Chapter House. WVBR has operated out of 957 Mitchell Street near East Hill Plaza after leaving its longtime home at 227 Linden Avenue in Collegetown in 2000. It will be officially dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to take place this coming Saturday (3/15). WVBR-FM is a commercial, non-profit radio station that is owned and fully operated by the Cornell Radio Guild, a group of Cornell University students. Since 1935, this group’s stated mission has been running a radio station with the goal of training students in broadcasting. Since 1968, WVBR has been serving Ithaca and Tompkins Counties playing an eclectic mix of classic and modern rock under the banner, “Real Rock Radio.” WVBR broadcasts over 93.5 FM and 105.5 FM to Tompkins County and the surrounding area. The newly named Olbermann-Corneliess Studios was purchased with donations from station alumni, most notably ESPN host Keith Olbermann. Olbermann gave what has been described by station management as “a generous donation” with a request that WVBR’s new home studio be named in honor of his late father Theodore Olbermann, as well as the late Glenn Corneliess, his colleague during his years at WVBR who passed away in 1996. Olbermann, the Corneliess family, and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick will be among those on hand for the dedication, as well as many station alumni, current staff, and management. A brand new set of professional equipment, a large vinyl library, a live performance space, three soundproof production booths, and two advanced on-air studios are some of the many highlights of the new space. “There is no doubt in my mind that 604 East Buffalo Street will feature the best college radio setup in the country,” says Drew Endick, president of the Cornell Radio Guild, Inc. and general manager of WVBR, telling RadioInfo, “We have been trying to expand our content production operations and provide better services for the local community, and we now have the facilities to meet these challenges.” The new studio will be home to two radio stations – WVBR, which broadcasts with a rock format over FM, as well as CornellRadio.com, which is being launched as a more student-centric, freeform online station. CornellRadio.com will feature pop, hip-hop, dance, and alternative music, as well as talk shows, comedy programming, and sports content provided by a partnership with the Big Red Sports Network. Each station will have its own cutting-edge studio within the building. “This move is extremely important to the goals of our station,” says Michael Mallon, senior vice president of communications. “The latest technology will not only allow us to create better content for our listeners, but it will also allow the students of Cornell University to learn and train on the same equipment as is used in the big stations in major cities.” The move is also significant as the station will now be a close walk for most students. “It’s a perfect location for us, both physically and symbolically,” Mallon continues, “The station is right between the students who operate the station, and the Ithacans who make up most of our listenership.” ASI Renovations managed the huge project. The space was already in great condition, but the design presented some big technical challenges. Sherpa Technologies wired the building for radio operations. Students and weekend staff led the move, bringing over the entire vinyl and CD collections, as well as other important articles from the old station.
Chattin’ with a Legend. WFTL, Fort Lauderdale late morning talk host Rich Stevens (right) entertains legendary disc jockey Cousin Brucie (left) in the station’s studios. Stevens tells TALKERS the pair chatted about numerous topics and took calls from listeners. While speaking with callers, a 92-year-old local listener phoned in to tell Cousin Brucie he remembers winning a contest 40 years ago that Cousin Brucie executed that sent him on a vacation. Brucie asked him if he was still there and needed money to get back!
Sittin’ in on WMAL, Washington. Former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (left) is pictured here in the WMAL, Washington studios as she served as guest co-host on the “Morning On The Mall” program today (3/10). O’Donnell worked with co-host Larry O’Connor (right) while subbing for Brian Wilson.
By Mike Kinosian
In much the same way the late Dick Clark never seemed to age, some were shocked that the always youthful-looking Lange was actually 81 when he passed away at his Mill Valley, California home.
Several years ago – during my tenure as special features editor for the trade publication Inside Radio – the two of us had an extended conversation; the result was one of my in-depth personality profiles.
That chat laid the foundation for what became a continuing friendship. It was a privilege to remain in contact with the gracious and hospitable Lange, who was most deserving of the “Gentleman Jim” handle.
As a tribute, here are edited/condensed/updated highlights from that profile, which began by theorizing, if those at Guinness ever concocted a world record category for “Person Throwing The Most Kisses on Television,” Lange would be the hands-down winner.
Melanie Morgan Leaves KSFO, San Francisco AM Show. This was radio and news pro Melanie Morgan’s second go-round with the Cumulus news/talker. Morgan was a longtime fixture on KSFO alongside Lee Rodgers on the morning drive show when it was owned by ABC Radio (then Citadel) until her departure from the station in 2008. She worked briefly with Talk Radio Network’s “America’s Morning News” based in Washington, DC but was forced to return to San Francisco to deal with a health issue. She joined the morning show at KSFO again – this time with Brian Sussman as co-host 18 months ago. Morgan Tweeted to followers: “Breaking – Melanie Morgan leaves KSFO morning show. No more 2:45 alarms. Amicable parting. Thanks KSFO listeners. God Bless You!”
WCTC, New Brunswick, New Jersey Legend Jack Ellery Retires. Greater Media announces that New Jersey radio legend Jack Ellery is retiring from WCTC, New Brunswick after a career that has spanned 50 years. Ellery, most recently morning host at the station, has spent the better part of his career at WCTC. Ellery began as a disc jockey but quickly turned his daily morning show into a forum for discussion on the latest news in Central Jersey and the state, providing insight, wit and humor, as one of the true pioneers of local talk radio. Greater Media states, “Along the way, the radio veteran was also instrumental in helping WCTC raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Central Jersey charitable organizations through on-air radiothons and different drives for local residents in dire need. Ellery capped off his career as one of Central Jersey’s iconic radio personalities with his inclusion in the New Jersey Broadcasters Association’s inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees last year. He also received the NJBA’s Lifetime Achievement award at that time.” WCTC station manager Dan Henrickson says, “Jack has served our community, our advertisers and our audience for multiple decades. We wish him all the best in the ‘gone fishing’ portion of his life.”
Boston Globe Examines Local Sports Talk Radio Battle. Boston Globe sports columnist Chad Finn takes a deeper look at the ratings war between CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM “The Sports Hub” and Entercom’s WEEI-FM after the Arbitron PPM data for the June period were released late yesterday. It turns out the NHL Stanley Cup push by the hometown Bruins – whose games are broadcast on WBZ-FM – was very good news for the station. Finn digs into the Men 25-54 numbers average from the last three ratings periods (April, May and June) and reports the following: WBZ-FM was #1 in the demo with a 10.2 share and WEEI-FM was tied for 5th place with a 5.5 share; in morning drive WBZ-FM morning show Toucher and Rich were first with a 13.4 share. WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan were fifth with a 6.0 though Finn notes that D&C were up in June with a 7.0 share. Things got a little closer in the evenings when play-by-play for the Bruins and the Red Sox were happening. Finn writes, “In the evenings (7-p.m-midnight), The Sports Hub, featuring the Baseball Reporters, the Adam Jones Show and Bruins game broadcasts, was first with a 13.4 share, including a massive 16.2 in June. WEEI’s nighttime programming, including the Planet Mikey Show and Red Sox and Celtics broadcasts, was second (9.7, including a 10.2 in June).” The next couple of surveys will be interesting as WEEI has the monopoly on play-by-play with Red Sox baseball. Read Finn’s entire column here.
Chicago Sports Talk War Featured in Tribune. The Chicago Tribune’s Ed Sherman dives into the Men 25-54 PPM data for what he terms the spring ratings – April, May and June PPM averages – for the market’s major sports talk outlets CBS Radio-owned WSCR and ESPN O&O WMVP. Sherman reports WSCR finished fourth in the market with a 4.7 share against WMVP’s 16th place finish on a 2.4 share (Men 25-54 Mon-Sun 6:00 am to 12:00 midnight). Breaking out some of the individual programs, Sherman reports in morning drive WSCR’s “’Mully & Hanley’ were third at 6.8; ‘Mike & Mike’ were 10th at 2.9 on MVP. In the afternoon, ‘Boers & Bernstein’ were second at 5.2, while ‘Waddle & Silvy’ were 16th at 2.6 in the first three months of their new time slot for WMVP.” Sherman also spoke with both program directors – WSCR’s Mitch Rosen and WMVP’s Adam Delevitt – in searching for reasons the stations, which were often very close in ratings in the past, have separated recently with WSCR pulling ahead. Rosen tells the Tribune, “We’ve stuck with the same lineup for several years. People get into habits when it comes to listening to stations. Continuity makes a big difference in radio.” Delevitt points out what his company sees as its strength in a multi-platform approach. “With ESPN, you have to focus on all of our platforms. Nobody can duplicate what we’re doing on every platform.” You can read Sherman’s entire piece here.
Michael Harrison to Deliver Keynote Address at The Conclave – Says the Future of Radio Rests Upon the Shoulders of Talent. The long-running annual industry learning conference, The Conclave, is coming up in just six days! Set for Wednesday, July 17 – Friday, July 19 at the Doubletree Park Place Hotel in Minneapolis, the 38th installment of this major, non-profit industry institution will feature a packed lineup of speakers from both music and talk radio (click here for the complete agenda). TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison is set to deliver the event’s Keynote Address on Thursday, July 18 at 9:00 am. The title of his speech is “Radio in the Digital Age: Where Does Talent Fit In?” His presentation will approach today’s key issues – immense debt, generational and cultural shifts, exotic new media, audience measurement shortcomings, plus the increasing importance of intellectual property, talent becoming entrepreneurial, and the humanity that radio should offer and has the potential to still do so well. Looking ahead to his presentation, Harrison states, “The Conclave is designed as a platform for learning and I intend to use this opportunity to share the experience of my 45-year career in professional broadcasting and present-day insights accrued being the publisher of two leading trades with the young up-and-comers who are hopeful that radio can yet provide them with a rewarding career. The past, present and future of radio is primarily a story about talent. I will talk about the survival and ‘thrival’ of talent – upon whose shoulders rests the future of this industry.”
WPEN-FM, Philadelphia Baseball Talk Host Darren Daulton Diagnosed with Brain Cancer. The former MLB star and host of “Talkin’ Baseball with Dutch” took a break from his regular 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm nightly baseball show on Greater Media’s WPEN-FM “The Fanatic” to have tumors removed from his brain and the result of tests on those tumors showed they are cancerous. Darren Daulton Foundation president Tony Perri posted a message on Daulton’s official website stating, in part: “Darren has been diagnosed with a Glioblastoma (“GBM”), a form of brain cancer. He has returned to his Clearwater area home to continue recuperating amongst his immediate family and friends. He will eventually begin treatments in Florida. Darren and his family wish to thank everyone for their loving support throughout this difficult time. He is deeply touched. In typical fashion, he again said, ‘Right on; Fight on.’ Darren and his family request that everyone respect his privacy and that of his family during this period of time. At his urging, I can report that the September 9, 2013 golf tournament that benefits the Foundation will continue as planned.”
Former KPOJ, Portland Talk Host Building Online Progressive Talk Destination. Carl Wolfson was the morning drive host at Clear Channel’s KPOJ, Portland before the company dropped the progressive talk format and flipped it to sports talk in November of 2012. Undaunted, Wolfson created a live, daily morning program on the internet and “Carl in the Morning” has been building a listenership on Wolfson’s internet station. Now, he’s adding another program to the station as former Oregon State Representative Jefferson Smith begins hosting a program called “Thank You Democracy” two days a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00 am. According to Willamette Week, Wolfson writes about the show, “Each episode of ‘Thank You Democracy’ will take a topic and cover that topic from various angles. The show will benefit from Jefferson’s network of relationships, as well as his experience as an activist, nationally recognized non-profit executive, advisor to elected officials, as well as a candidate and office-holder himself.”
KRMS, Osage Beach, Missouri Host Saves Life of Guest. It all started when “Ozarks Today” host John Rogger called author and scheduled guest June Barnhart by mistake on Monday July, 8 for an interview scheduled for a different day. But when he spoke with her he noticed she sounded confused and hung up on him. Fortunately the author’s publicist had his sister check in with the author’s sister who rushed over to her house to find her in bad shape. She was dehydrated and confused and was taken to the hospital. Rogger tells TALKERS magazine that he subsequently found out Barnhart had suffered a mild stroke but doctors say she is expected to make a full recovery.
Healthy-Schmealthy, Tell ‘em You Want a Hochman Burger! When WAXY, Miami “AM790 & FM 104.3 The Ticket” morning drive co-host Marc Hochman was asked by Miami Subs Grill to create a namesake burger to be sold at the restaurant, he was only too happy to comply. Marc is pictured here prepping to dive into a Hochman Burger that is now available at all 32 Miami Subs locations. (Miami Subs is partly owned by Miami-based rap star Pitbull.) What’s in a Hochman Burger you ask? It’s covered with cheddar and BBQ sauce and topped with Funyons! Tasty…and crunchy, too!
WFAN, New York’s Boomer & Carton to Captain Celebrity Softball Game. Morning drive sports talk duo Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton will choose their sides for the Major League Baseball’s Taco Bell Legends & Celebrities Softball Game during their show on CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York Friday morning at 8:00 am. Boomer & Carton will be broadcasting live from the All-Star FanFest at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. The celebrity game is now in its 9th year as part of MLB’s All-Star Week and will be played before the All-Star Game Tuesday evening at Citi Field. It will feature celebrities including Chris Rock, Mike Piazza, Kevin James, Darryl Strawberry, George Lopez, Dwight Gooden, Ashanti, Jennie Finch, Chord Overstreet and James Denton, among others. Boomer Esiason is co-captaining the National League team alongside John Franco and Craig Carton and Bernie Williams will lead the American League team.
Immigration Reform, George Zimmerman Trial, Student Loan Bill, Asiana Airlines Crash Landing, Egypt Turmoil, and Canadian Rail Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/10). The battle in Congress over immigration reform and amnesty; the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the bill that would address student loan interest rates; the investigation of the crash landing of the Asiana Airlines jet in San Francisco; the civil and political turmoil in Egypt; and the deadly Canadian railroad accident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Names New Market Manager, Sales Chief for San Francisco. Cumulus Media announces Steve Sklenar has been appointed market manager for the company’s San Francisco stations and Kevin Crespo has simultaneously been installed as national and regional sales manager for the cluster. Sklenar comes to Cumulus Media from his most recent post as assistant vice president and director of sales at Lincoln Financial Media’s San Diego stations. Sklenar says in a statement, “To be tapped as the leader of Cumulus San Francisco is both exciting and humbling. This is without question one of the most coveted positions in all of broadcasting, not just radio. The history and prestige of these stations in the San Francisco community comes with great responsibility. We will not take that lightly.” Sklenar is in charge of talk KSFO, news/talk KGO, sports talk KNBR and KTCT, triple A KFOG and KFFG and classic rock KSAN “The Bone.” Cumulus EVP and co-COO Jon Pinch says, “Steve and Kevin are well-suited to take leadership and sales development roles at this legendary cluster of stations. They will round out a solid team that’s contributing significantly to our growth in San Francisco. After meeting with numerous qualified candidates, John Dickey and I are confident that these two gentlemen will have immediate positive impact on our business moving forward.”
Moody’s Cumulus’ Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating to SGL — 2 from SGL – 3. Moody’s Investors Service announces it has upped Cumulus Media’s Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating from SGL – 2 to SGL – 3 “reflecting improved access to the senior secured revolver due to the recent amendment of the 1st lien credit agreement. The amendment reduces the revolver commitment to $150 million from $300 million, but replaces the total net leverage test with a 1st lien net leverage requirement enabling full access to the revolver.” Moody’s says the B2 Corporate Family Rating remains unchanged and explains why: “Leverage remains elevated due to revenue and EBITDA falling below expected levels for the six months ended March 31, 2013 which prompted the downgrade in the corporate family rating earlier this year. Management indicated that pro forma revenues decreased $5.6 million or 2.5% in 1Q2013 compared to 1Q2012 reflecting lower political revenue, the winding down of unfavorable legacy Citadel barter transactions, and challenges related to its syndicated talk segment.” However, Moody’s cites the turnarounds of a number of Cumulus’ “10 underperforming stations” for the upgrade and goes on to state, “Looking forward, revenue growth is expected to be flat in 2013 due in part to the absence of significant political advertising. Moody’s expects Cumulus to generate roughly $175 million of annual free cash flow versus our prior estimate of $200 million to reflect management’s comments that it expects to invest roughly $25 million annually in CBS Sports Radio, Nash FM and related country format branding, its Traffic network, as well as SweetJack.”
Charles Steinhauer Ascends to Chief Operations Officer at Dial Global. Moving up from his most recent position as president of operations with Dial Global, Charles Steinhauer is promoted to chief operations officer. The company states that in this new position, Steinhauer will be responsible for overseeing the management of the company’s day-to-day operations — including technology, distribution, research, compliance, and strategy. He will continue to be located in New York City and will report directly to CEO Paul Caine. In his previous post, he managed all sales support divisions for Dial Global. The company also notes that Steinhauer “is one of the leads on an industry-wide research initiative working to improve how radio is incorporated into Marketing Mix Models, which are widely used by advertisers to evaluate how product sales are influenced by advertising.” About his promotion, Steinhauer says, “I’m very excited to be working with Paul Caine and to continue to move the company forward with all of the Dial Global family. I look forward to working even more closely with our staff and our outstanding content and distribution partners to create optimum value for our audiences and advertisers. I couldn’t be more fortunate.”
Tora Fisher to Perform at Talkers New York 2013. At the tender age of 23, she is both a rising pop star and a humanitarian. Tora Fisher of the Fisher family that spearheads Fisher House Foundation – the charitable organization that provides housing around the country for the visiting families of hospitalized American servicemen and women wounded in battle – will be appearing at Talkers New York 2013 tomorrow (6/6). The young singer/songwriter, whose heartfelt song “Finally Free” currently sits at number 29 and number 21 on the RadioInfo pop songs and rock songs charts respectively, will open the event’s Freedom of Speech Award Ceremony with an a cappela performance of the Lee Greenwood anthem “Proud to Be an American.” Ms. Fisher, who is a spokesperson for Fisher House, will be backed up in the performance by two female cadets from West Point, Mary Kay Messenger and Alexis Cole. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “Even though this annual event is geared to talk radio, we have a tradition of presenting some of the world’s greatest up-and-coming singers performing inspirational music at key moments in the proceedings. Having Tora Fisher perform this powerful song at Talkers New York 2013 is extremely meaningful and certainly in keeping with this tradition. Not only is this beautiful young woman one of the most talented female singer/songwriters I have heard since the golden days of the great ones like Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro – she has a powerful personal story of courage and will that is both touching and compelling. As a child of 13, she survived a terrible plane crash that took the life of her father and set her on the road to becoming mature beyond her years and a powerful artist of both words and music. Add to that her dedication to the families of America’s brave young service people and…well, you have a very, very special young lady indeed. Everyone who sees her perform at this event will be touched and certainly remember where they first heard and saw Tora!”
TRN Sues Former Attorney in Anti-Trust Case. Talk Radio Network has filed suit in Oregon against California attorney Joseph Alioto alleging that he did not move with the speed promised and in a time frame that would prevent TRN from suffering further damages in its anti-trust suit against numerous sales rep firms and radio programming syndicators. TRN is seeking more than $10 million in damages and relief. In the claim, TRN alleges that after making a $125,000 retainer payment, Alioto repeatedly failed to file the complaint in a timely fashion and when Alioto decided to withdraw from the matter, he caused TRN further losses due to the time that had passed. TRN claims Alioto did not have good cause to withdraw from the matter. Allegations include fraud and legal malpractice.
Programmer Bill White Exits WGN, Chicago. One of the first moves on the part of WGN, Chicago’s new president and general manager Jimmy de Castro is to make a change in program directors for the heritage news/talk station. Talk programming pro Bill White leaves the station after two years in the director of programming and news position. White states, “Having the opportunity to work with such a tremendous team at one of America’s legendary radio stations has been a privilege and an honor. I wish the staff and WGN Radio much success in the future.” Bill White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In a memo to staffers, de Castro wrote, “Sometimes managers have to make difficult decisions on behalf of a few to build a brighter future for many. Today, we are losing the services of a friend and delightful professional, Bill White. Please join me in wishing him the best in his future endeavors.” There’s no word who will replace White but industry watchers believe de Castro will go with someone who either currently works in the Chicago market or is very familiar with it.
Newsmax Reports #1 Online Reading Status. Conservative media firm Newsmax announces that according to digital measurement firm comScore, during April, of the 65 million Americans using all digital platforms, Newsmax sites led all other sites in web traffic with over 14 million monthly unique visitors. comScore notes that Newsmax exceeded such competitors as HuffPost Politics and Fox News Politics with these recent April numbers. Newsmax also was #1 in the same category for personal computer users who read News/Politics online. According to comScore, Newsmax received 14.4 million monthly unique visitors in April — up from 13.3 million the previous month. HuffPost received 14 million monthly unique visitors from the News/Politics category and Fox News received 10.9 million monthly unique visitors in April, respectively. comScore’s top 10 breaks down this way: Newsmax Sites – 14.4 million monthly unique visitors; Huffington Post Politics – 14 million; Fox News – 10. 9 million; CNN Politics — 9 million; NBC News.com Politics — 7.5 million; Politico.com — 6.5 million; Current TV — 6.3 million; The Economist Group — 3.7 million; The Hill.com — 3.2 million; and Mother Jones.com — 2.9 million monthly unique visitors. Speaking about Newsmax’s achievement, CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “We are once again honored to be the number one digital political news site for the second month in a row. It is a testament to quality of our digital content that consumers online, on smartphones and on tablets continue to look to Newsmax for the latest political news.”
FCC Has New Acting Chief of Enforcement Bureau. The Federal Communications Commission announces that FCC acting chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn has appointed Robert H. Ratcliffe to the position of acting chief of the commission’s enforcement bureau. Currently, Ratcliffe is the deputy chief of the media bureau. The position opens as P. Michele Ellison moves to the chief of staff post. Ratcliffe is a longtime staffer at the FCC having spent more than 35 years at the agency including as acting chief of the media bureau and as deputy chief of the enforcement bureau. In a statement, Clyburn says, “I am pleased that Mr. Ratcliffe has agreed to serve in this critical role. Bob is a top-flight lawyer who will bring his vast experience, sound legal judgment, and overall sense of fairness to this effort.”
Sexual Assaults in U.S. Military, Looming MLB PEDs Suspensions, Lung Transplant Controversy, Susan Rice National Security Adviser Nomination, and IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/4). Testimony of military chiefs addressing the high rate of sexual assaults in the U.S. military and Senator Saxby Chambliss’ associated comments; the reports of numerous suspensions coming from Major League Baseball for PED violations; the controversy over a 10-year-old girl’s need for a lung transplant and the government’s transplant program; Susan Rice’s nomination for national security adviser; and the IRS’ targeting of conservative non-profit groups were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Frosty Stillwell Returns to Talk at CC’s KKSF, San Francisco for Middays. Hot AC KIOI, San Francisco “Star 101.3” morning show co-host Frosty Stillwell will continue his work alongside Sandy Stec on the Sandy & Frosty program until a replacement is named but today (6/4) he begins immediately hosting the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show on the company’s talk KKSF “Talk 910.” Stillwell was part of the Frosty, Heidi & Frank trio that spent years at hot talk KLSX, Los Angeles. He also had worked at Clear Channel’s KYSR, Los Angeles and filled in at talk KFI. Frosty says, “I am thrilled to get back to what I’ve done for the past two decades, talk radio. ‘Talk 910’ dominates the format in San Francisco. While I loved being part of the music and personality show on ‘Star 101.3,’ there was just no way I could pass up this enticing opportunity right down the hall to get back to my true passion.”
Peter Boyles Officially Out at KHOW, Denver. Less than two weeks after being removed from the air on Clear Channel Denver’s talk KHOW, station management officially cuts the ties between the longtime Denver personality and the station. Peter Boyles was taken off the air on May 24 after an altercation between Boyles and his producer Greg Hollenback that reportedly escalated into a physical attack on Boyles’ part. The incident made the news immediately as local media was in the building to cover a press conference with politician Tom Tancredo. KHOW program director Dan Mandis wrote an email to the Denver Post notifying the paper Boyles is no longer with the company. Guest hosts have been sitting in on the morning show since that time and no permanent replacement has been announced.
Programming VP Mike Elder Exits Fox News Radio. One of the most respected programming executives in talk radio, Mike Elder, has left Fox News Radio after serving the past eight years as the company’s VP of programming. Elder, a veteran PD of such great stations as WRKO, Boston; WLS, Chicago; WCCO, Minneapolis; KTOK, Oklahoma City and KMBZ/KCMO, Kansas City tells TALKERS, “It was an amicable parting of the ways. My contract was up, cuts were being made to the staff, and we both agreed to move on. And this was the longest tenure of a more-than-40-year career, so I was living on borrowed time anyway.” Elder continues, “This has been one of the best jobs I’ve had, or that radio still had. [Fox VPs] Kevin Magee and Bob Finnerty were very supportive of our efforts and our channel on SiriusXM as well as the internet and affiliates. They allowed me to put together a great staff and I appreciate their support over the past eight years.” What next for the 40-year veteran of talk and music radio? He tells TALKERS he will probably move back to his home in Boston and believes he has at least one more job in him. He will take the time to explore his options as a programmer and talent coach. “I still feel I have another gig left in me, so I am not shutting the door on radio. I would welcome the chance to work with great talent and production staffs again. But I’m open to something new as well. There is a whole new world on the internet that will require content, and not the same ol’, same ol’. I’d love to work on something new, exciting, challenging and dynamic that would allow me to put my over 40 years of experience and skills to use in a new and different way.” Mike Elder can be reached at Mikeelder@me.com or 646-256-5653.
Joe Thomas Puts ‘The Afternoon Constitutional’ on Hiatus. WCHV, Charlottesville, Virginia program director and morning drive host Joe Thomas announces that “after two-and-a-half years of independent conservative analysis of the news and events for Virginia’s great cities of Richmond, Roanoke and Charlottesville,” he’s taking the regionally syndicated afternoon show off the air. Although Thomas says of “The Afternoon Constitutional,” “It’s more like a ‘dry docking’ of a great ship that has taken you to amazing places but now needs to be refitted with some new things for her future voyages. Stay tuned!” Thomas continues his roles as morning host and program director at WCHV. He can be reached at email@example.com
Progressive Talker KTNF, Minneapolis Sold to Chad Larson. Sales manager Chad Larson believes in progressive talk and he’s agreeing to pay current owner JR Broadcasting (Janet Roberts) $1.5 million for the AM signal. JR Broadcasting paid $3 million for the station in 2004 from CBS Radio. Currently, the station airs local morning host Matt McNeil’s “The Morning Grind” plus WYD Media’s Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz and Compass Media Network’s Norman Goldman.
Odds & Sods. The Boston Globe reports that rumors are flying in town that Entercom’s sports talk WEEI is contemplating a change to its midday show by moving Mike Mutnansky out and replacing him with Comcast SportsNet New England’s Jessica Moran. Mutnansky co-hosts the “Mut & Merloni” show with former Red Sox player Lou Merloni…..At ESPN Radio, the NBA Finals are the hot topic as Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love and former NBA head coach Doug Collins join “Mike & Mike” as co-hosts. Love will join Mike Golic and Ryan Ruocco, who will sub for Mike Greenberg, on Thursday, June 6 – the morning of Game 1 of the Finals. Doug Collins, who most recently coached the Philadelphia 76ers, will join Golic and Greenberg the morning after Game 3, Wednesday, June 12. Both guests will be part of an NBA-centric programming block from 6:00 am to 10:00 am.
George Beasley Receives Honorary Doctorate. Beasley Broadcast Group chairman and chief executive officer George G. Beasley is pictured here at Appalachian State University’s recent May commencement receiving Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa from the school’s chancellor Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock. A native of Patrick County, Virginia, Beasley has deep ties to Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, NC receiving both his undergraduate (’58) and graduate degrees (’60) from ASU. Most recently, he contributed the lead gift making a new broadcasting and media facility on campus possible – the George G. Beasley Media Complex, which is scheduled to open later this year. Beasley vice president of corporate communications Denyse Mesnik tells us that education was a first love of George Beasley’s. “Prior to broadcasting, George was a teacher and ultimately a high school principal. In fact, while building his first radio station he was a principal until the school bell rang, then a radio station owner late afternoons, evenings and weekends.”
Michael Douglas Oral Sex Flap, Senator Lautenburg Dies, IRS Scandal, DOJ Journalists Investigation, Obama Administration Secret Email Accounts and Syria Chemical Weapons Charges Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/3). Michael Douglas’ public statement that oral sex caused his throat cancer; the death of Democratic New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg; the ongoing scandal involving the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups; the Department of Justice’s investigation of journalists; the controversy over some Obama Administration appointees using secret email accounts; and the chemical weapons use charges against the Syrian military were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Q1 Revenue Drops 1.3%. The 2013 first quarter revenue numbers for Cumulus Media were $232 million – a decrease of $3.1 million or 1.3% compared to the same period a year ago. In its filing with the SEC, the company attributes the drop to “lower political revenues and general lower advertising spending in some of our markets.”
Lew Dickey Says Underperforming Stations Improving But Not Fixed; Syndicated Talk ‘Continues to Be Challenged.’ During the Tuesday conference call with investors announcing Cumulus Media’s 2013 first quarter revenue figures, CEO Lew Dickey addressed the syndicated talk division’s performance as well as six of its major market news/talk stations. Quick to address the 10 major market stations he’d blamed for pulling down the entire company’s previous revenue totals, he said, “Several of our big news/talk stations are now growing, including: WABC – which is leading the pack in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WLS in Chicago, KSFO in San Francisco, WMAL in Washington, D.C. and WJR in Detroit, all are growing. Our team is working very hard, and we’ve adapted to ad market changes. And again, these stations are now posting revenue growth.” He only vaguely touched on the Rush Limbaugh controversy during Q&A saying network sales has been challenged but is starting to pick up. Dickey praised the company’s heritage AM talkers for their potential and stated, “Our charge over the next five years is to continue to expose our audience and all of these major markets to the industry’s most talented performers while developing the next generation of talk radio superstars. By the way, this is true for our sports talk stations as well.” Dickey said that original group of 10 trouble franchises is down to six. “And we confirm our earlier statement that this original group of 10 stations would be negative in the first quarter, flat in Q2 and then rebounding in the back half of the year to post positive full year growth in 2013. And in fact, we can say that we’re actually a little ahead of that schedule right now.” But he also noted that while WBAP, Dallas is starting to come around, KGO, San Francisco – which it turned to largely a news station – is still not where they want it to be. Regarding the company’s deal with CBS Radio and the CBS Sports Radio Network, Dickey reports the rollout has reached almost 300 affiliates and is surpassing expected revenue targets. “We are highly encouraged by our early success and expect CBS Sports Radio to be a material growth driver in 2014 and beyond.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. You can read the entire transcript here.
Talk Radio Network and Phil Hendrie to End Syndication Effort. Talk Radio Network announces that it will cease syndication of the Phil Hendrie radio program as of June 25, 2013. TRN began syndicating the program in 2007 after it had been parted from its original syndicator – Premiere Networks – for about a year. TRN CEO Mark Masters states, “I believed in Phil then, and I still think he is a comic genius on air. He will always be a radio icon to me. We are proud to have rebuilt the Phil Hendrie show by adding over 100 stations, along with creating robust growth to Phil’s online presence, but, due to world events, the economy, and the state of radio in this country, we have decided to go in another direction in that daypart – we wish Phil all the best in his future endeavors.” From his perspective, Hendrie issues the following statement: “Phil Hendrie has elected not to pursue any further association with Talk Radio Network. As he delves deeper into his successful digital platform and ongoing television and film work, Hendrie remains open to terrestrial radio opportunities, but only those with strong sales, marketing and programming support.”
Cox Media Group Promotes Kim Guthrie to EVP Radio; Jane Williams to EVP Television and Marian Pittman to VP of News & Marketing for TV. Cox Media Group announces several promotions. Kim Guthrie, who had been serving as senior vice president of radio, overseeing all of the company’s radio stations, is promoted to executive vice president of radio and she reports to new CMG president Bill Hoffman. Guthrie joined Cox Radio in 1998 as VP and GM for its Long Island, properties and has been Regional VP for Cox Radio, where her stations have won multiple honors – including Marconi awards, Crystal Awards, New York Air Awards, AWRT Gracie Awards – for programming excellence and outstanding community service. Hoffman says of Guthrie (and EVP of television Jane Williams), “Both are proven CMG leaders and are highly respected throughout the media industry. Kim and Jane, along with our local leadership, have ensured our broadcast stations’ ongoing success, and I am honored to have them in these vitally-strategic executive positions.” At the same time, Marian Pittman is promoted from her post as station manager of WSB-TV, Atlanta to vice president of news & marketing for television for the company.
J Chapman Heads Up Woof Boom Radio to Buy Indiana Stations. The Backyard Broadcasting Muncie, Indiana market stations that Woof Boom is buying include: hot AC WLBC, oldies WERK, sports talk WXFN, news/talk WHBU, and classic rock simulcast WMXQ and WMQX “Max.” Jerry “J” Chapman’s Woof Boom Radio is made up of a group of local investors, headed by Chapman, who have formed Woof Boom Radio, a nod to the longtime dominance of WFBM in Indiana broadcasting from the beginnings of radio in the 1920s until the mid-1970s. The other owners include: Ray Kennedy, Conormara Investments; Jason Farmer, managing director of WestBridge Investments; and Aaron Reitz. In a statement, Woof Boom says of Chapman, “A 17-year radio executive with Indianapolis-based Emmis and most recently with Maverick Media of Rockford, Illinois, Chapman is a graduate of Hanover and literally grew up in the broadcasting industry. His father led Indianapolis WFBM Radio & TV for three decades, and J got an early start in the media business when assigned by his father to mow the grass at the TV station’s north side Indianapolis transmitter site.” Chapman says of his new venture, “I’m very excited to come home and put my years of experience in the vibrant radio industry to good use back in Indiana. The stations we’re acquiring are vital links between listeners and the local community. We intend to utilize those radio resources to help grow our customers’ businesses and to improve the quality of entertainment and information in our new communities. Best of all, the management of this group of stations will be local to serve local needs. We want to make a great thing even better, and Woof Boom Radio intends to start off on the right foot.”
The Secret of Managing Controversy. As the talk radio industry grapples with the dilemma of balancing the two realities of controversy (on the plus side, it attracts loyal audience – on the downside, it attracts enemies and scares advertisers) noted media consultant and TALKERS columnist Walter Sabo offers a simple solution. In an article posted today (5/8) he cites a simple but powerfully effective method used by some of the greatest talk radio managers of all time: Let the hosts be opinionated, controversial and even outrageous – but keep the station itself absolutely neutral! He goes on to explain why this is key to a successful operation. To read Walter Sabo’s entire piece, click here.
Mark Carbonaro Remains with KION, Salinas in News Capacity. Yesterday, TALKERS reported that Mark Carbonaro was out at Clear Channel’s KION, Salinas, California as the company was importing KSTE, Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty for morning drive. We learn via The Californian that Carbonaro remains with the station handling the morning drive news operations and other news department duties. General manager Rhonda McCormack tells the paper, “We are continuing to evolve our product with new and compelling offerings that will complement Mark’s contributions and allow him more time and flexibility to cover local news and events. It was a business decision. We think Armstrong & Getty will resonate well with the audience on KION. Mark Carbonaro is on Monday – Friday, 6:00 am to 9:00 am with Armstrong & Getty. Mark reports on the local news, sports, weather and traffic, plus expert segments that will run throughout the day, Monday through Friday and on Saturday mornings in the 10:00 am hour, ‘The Saturday Insider with Mark Carbonaro.’”
Cheryl Winer Named National Account Manager for Sun Broadcast Group. Radio sales pro Cheryl Winer is named national account manager for Sun Broadcast Group where she’ll work from the company’s New York City office assisting in servicing the company’s fast-growing roster of agency and client partners. Founder and CEO Jason Bailey states, “2013 has been such an exciting time in our company’s growth. With the addition of Cheryl to our first-class sales team I truly believe we send a clear message to the industry that Sun Broadcast Group is, and will continue to be, the leader in a very new kind of service for network radio advertisers and program suppliers.” Speaking about her new position with Sun, Winer says, “Over the past several years I have been searching for an entrepreneurial environment, which would replicate my experience at Premiere in the early days. I am so very excited to say that I have found that in Sun Broadcast Group! I look forward to participating in the growth of this fast-paced, cutting edge company.”
Arbitron Reports Q1 Revenue Up 5.1%. Income for the ratings firm was down to $0.60 per share for the first quarter of 2013, compared to $0.64 per share during the same period in 2012. However, income was up 5.1% on revenue of $111.8 million compared to the same period a year ago. The company states that costs and expenses increased 8.3% from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013. “In addition to the $3.2 million of expenses related to the pending Nielsen transaction, costs in the quarter increased as a result of planned incremental investments in Arbitron Mobile panels, costs associated with address-based sampling, in-person recruiting, and cell-phone household recruiting.” President and CEO Sean Creamer states, “In the first quarter, we continued to pursue our long-standing objectives: maintaining our investments in the quality of our radio ratings services, growing our core revenue, and entering new markets such as digital radio, cross-platform, and mobile. Our focus on the quality of our core services helped us achieve Media Rating Council accreditation of four additional Portable People Meter markets in February. Our goal remains achieving or maintaining accreditation in all our syndicated radio markets. We continue working to leverage our investment in the PPM technology and consumer panels utilizing our platform in new initiatives such as advertising and promotion effectiveness studies, while enhancing our measurement capabilities for radio and across platforms.”
Saga Communications Q1 Net Revenue Down 1.3%. To use the words of Saga Communications SVP, treasurer and CFO Sam Bush, the first quarter of 2013 was “challenging” for the company. In a conference call with investors, Bush reports that the company saw a dramatic decline in political advertising from the first quarter of 2012 to the same period in 2013. Gross national revenue was also down by more than $500,000 but a good quarter for local revenue helped combat that drop.
Salem Communications Sees 1.3% Revenue Dip in Q1. That’s across the board for all of Salem’s platforms and comes largely because Salem had such an outstanding 2012 in the political advertising category. Breaking things apart a bit, CEO Ed Atsinger reports that the company’s business news segment is doing well, increasing 4% while the news/talk radio division was down 7%. The Christian teaching formats were down 3% though the Christian contemporary group was up 5% compared to the same period a year ago. The Salem Radio Network was down 10% from Q1 in 2012.
WTOP, Washington Site the Victim of Hacking. Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED had their websites hacked earlier this week. The attacks may have affected visitors using Internet Explorer but not other web browsers. A message on WTOP.com states, “WTOP.com is currently dealing with a malicious cyber attack. We are working diligently to contain and stop the attack, and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.” The Washington Post reports that an internet security expert says the hackers installed two types of malware – one designed to look like an anti-virus software service that would get the subscriber’s credit card number, the other designed to control clicks from the user’s computer to inflate the number of actual clicks on digital ads.
Benghazi Whistleblower, Cleveland Women Freed from Captivity, Sanford South Carolina Race, Immigration Amnesty Issue and North Korea Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/7). The testimony about the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi; the case of the Cleveland women freed from captivity after 10 years; the South Carolina race for House seat between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch; the amnesty for illegal immigrants issue; and North Korea’s military threats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Mike Huckabee Considers Radio Future in Arkansas Business Story. In a piece that ran in Arkansas Business yesterday, Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host – and former Arkansas governor and U.S. presidential candidate – Mike Huckabee speaks openly about his current media projects and how his political experience has helped his media career. Huckabee gives no clear indication he’ll stop doing the daily three-hour show, but neither does he sound all-in when he states, “Within the next month, I’ll decide if I want to continue it or not. I know we will, but it’s just such an incredibly intensive process that I really have to decide that I want to spend that kind of time…” Huckabee describes the long days preparing for the program and how he works that in with his Fox News Channel weekend program. “I’ve got to always weigh how much time I’m putting in it and what the return is. How long it will take to make it what I call hopefully disgustingly profitable. That’s what one always hopes for in a deal like this.” Read the entire story here.
Can Radio Overcome its Smothering Debt and Be a Viable Business in this New Era? That, according to Michael Harrison is THE existential question facing the industry today — and one that TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo tackle head-on in a blockbuster article posted May 2 in BOTH trade publications. Researched and written by TALKERS/RadioInfo west coast bureau chief/managing editor Mike Kinosian, this extensive piece taps deeply into the experience, wisdom and vision of a stellar panel of industry power-players who share their real world perspectives of this pressing issue that directly ties into the future of radio as both a medium and a business. They include (in alphabetical order): Sandi Bergman of MyMediaBroker, Ed Christian of Saga Communications, Erica Farber of the RAB, Charlie Gross of Newsweb Radio Corp., Michael Harrison of TALKERS/RadioInfo, Jerry Lee of WBEB (“B101”) in Philadelphia, Chuck Lontine of Headwaters MB, David Pearlman of American Radio Systems, Ed Perry of WATD in Marshfield, MA, Tom Quinn of Americom Broadcasting, Jeff Smulyan of Emmis Broadcasting, Peter Smyth of Greater Media and Dave Van Dyke of Radiate Media. Upon the publication of this information-packed article, TALKERS/RadioInfo VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “This is one of the most important pieces published in the radio trades in years and I advise anyone in this business who cares about its future to take the time to read it thoroughly. It dives right into the most pressing issue facing all of us today and provides insight from all angles – big-time groups, large and small market stations, investment banks, services providers, and advertising advocates. A piece like this gets to the very heart of what will determine radio’s future – its ability to function and options to consider as a viable business in a daunting, obstacle-ridden environment.” Read Mike Kinosian’s story here.
Mark Carbonaro Out at KION, Salinas, California; Armstrong & Getty In. According to a report in The Californian, local morning drive host Mark Carbonaro’s program has been replaced on KION, Salinas with the Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty show. Californian writer Jeff Mitchell reports that calls to local management were not returned prior to his deadline. Both KION and Armstrong & Getty’s home station KSTE are owned by Clear Channel.
WNSR, Nashville to Get FM Simulcast in June. Nashville Sports Radio’s WNSR, Nashville will simulcast on 95.9 in addition to its 560 signal early this summer. The station says it will position itself as “Nashville’s SportsRadio 560 on 95.9 FM.” The new FM signal will be located near the Davidson/Williamson County line, providing excellent 24-hour coverage of WNSR’s programming. General sales manager and afternoon host Thom Abraham states, “Before the Predators and Titans, WNSR brought sports programming to the airwaves in Nashville. This station has stayed true to the format for over 15 years and we are now excited to make it available on the FM band. The new logo puts the emphasis on WNSR, which has stood for Nashville’s Sports Radio since 1997, something we are very proud of, and something I have come to appreciate since coming here four years ago.”
Fox News Radio Offers Memorial Day Weekend Specials. The network is offering two hour-long special programs for air during the Memorial Day Weekend. “Remembering Iraq” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Griff Jenkins and reflects on the 10 years since the United States entered the Iraq War. Jenkins will take a look at the front lines and those who were affected by the war, including the men and women who served as well as their spouses and children. “The Next Disaster” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Janice Dean. It’s a multi-part series that examines disasters, including tornados, earthquakes and terrorist attacks and how to best prepare for them. Additionally, Dean will take a look at how weather forecasting and other technology have helped people prepare for natural disasters in the past and will also report on the impact of early warnings. More information about the specials can be found on the Fox News Radio affiliate website in the specials section.
Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa Gets FM Simulcast on 95.3. The signal is 250-watt translator W237CW that was most recently simulcasting the audio of Clear Channel’s hip hop WBTP “95.7 The Beat.” CC flips it over to sports talker WDAE. The AM 620 signal of WDAE covers the market just fine but now the station will have an FM presence that’s strongest in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Clearwater.
Benghazi Cover-up Allegations, Syria-Israel Tensions, Obama OSU Commencement, and North Korea Missile Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/6). New information regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the political ramifications; military tensions between Israel and Syria; President Obama’s commencement speech at Ohio State University over the weekend; and the North Korean missile threat were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Longtime KSFO and KGO, San Francisco Personality Lee Rodgers Dies. San Francisco talk radio host Lee Rodgers – who spent the last part of his career on the radio in the market co-hosting morning drive with Melanie Morgan on KSFO – died on Thursday while being operated on for a heart condition. Rodgers had been dealing with heart ailments for some time and Thursday’s surgery was, according to a blog post by his widow Susan, risky but something Rodgers was willing to undergo. Rodgers and Morgan were ousted from their KSFO morning show position in February of 2010.
Former Talk Host Ed Koch Dies at 88. Ed Koch was known to most as a former U.S. Representative and the former mayor of New York City but he was also a progressive talk radio host after his days in New York City Hall. He worked at WABC, New York in the middays in the mid-1990s. He was respected by conservatives and liberals alike and often referred to as the “sane liberal” by conservatives. In recent years, Koch also hosted a Friday evening program on Bloomberg Radio’s WBBR, New York.
Cumulus Names Ron Escarsega OM for KGO and KSFO, San Francisco. Moving up from Cumulus Media’s Los Angeles cluster where he served as assistant program director for news/talk KABC, Ron Escarsega takes the position of operations manager for news KGO and news/talk KSFO. Cumulus news/talk/sports corporate programmer Jim Mahanay states, “Ron has done a great job for us in Los Angeles. We’re excited at the skills he brings north to the Bay Area.” Escarsega says, “I’m excited for the new challenge to work with two iconic stations KGO and KSFO. I appreciate the confidence Cumulus has shown in me and look forward to the new challenge.” KGO and KSFO program director Paul Hosley exits the company.
Date Set for TALKERS New York City Conference. Save the date! The 16th annual TALKERS Conference is set for New York City on Thursday, June 6, 2013. Formerly called “The New Media Seminar” the event – now simply titled TALKERS New York 2013 – will again take place at the comfortable and modern Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side. It will be a power-packed full day of special addresses, panels, presentations, and social networking opportunities tackling the key issues facing talk radio and its relationship with the new talk media (internet, satellite, cable TV) as well as the general radio industry including music radio and the changing role of the disc jockey. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “This will be a TALKERS conference for the new era. Our presentation this year will be so fresh and vital to the survival and ‘thrival’ of the business that we actually are moving beyond the title ‘New Media Seminar.’ It is not to be missed.” Stand by for full registration, sponsorship and unfolding agenda details posted here before the end of the week. Registrations will not go on sale until next Monday, February 4 after which, due to limited space and seating, it is expected to be a rapid sellout. Registration will be limited to members of the working media only.
Geraldo Rivera Contemplating U.S. Senate Run in 2014. Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York-based midday talk personality Geraldo Rivera said on his radio program on Thursday that he’s considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. He told listeners, “I mention this only briefly – fasten – I am and have been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker in New Jersey.” The Christian Science Monitor examines Rivera’s chances here. Though New Jersey is a fairly blue state, whether this is Rivera musing out loud or he’s serious about this will become clearer over time. He wouldn’t be the first to turn a talk radio gig into a U.S. Senate seat. Al Franken did it in Minnesota.
Salem Radio Network Teams with USCCA for Second Amendment Protection Petition. The petition – which obtained its 60,000th signature during Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher show on Thursday (1/31) – is a combined effort of the United States Concealed Carry Association and Salem Radio Networks. The petition is intended to be delivered to Congress to request that the Second Amendment be honored as Washington works on gun legislation in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Cox Media’s WDBO, Orlando Produces Student-Led Gun Legislation Debate. The event took place yesterday evening on the University of Central Florida campus where pre-law students in the Moot Court program debated the issue before a live audience and live on WDBO. The debate was moderated by midday personality Mel Robbins. Station program director Drew Anderssen stated, “Student safety is at the core of the gun control debate in Washington. The politicians have spoken. Our talk hosts have spoken. But, we haven’t heard a long-form discussion on the issue from students. Thanks to the UCF Moot Court Team, we’re able to present our auditorium and radio audiences with a truly bi-partisan discussion on an issue that will shape our nation’s future from people who represent our nation’s future.”
Talk Host Tom Donahue Returns to Terrestrial Radio on KCAA, San Bernardino. Talk radio pro Tom Donahue – who’s been producing his own talk show in various digital formats recently – is taking to the airwaves of Southern California on Broadcasting Management Services’ KCAA, Loma Linda (San Bernardino market) for a weekly Friday program airing at 6:00 pm. Donahue’s program remains part of the internet Talk Superstation lineup. He says he plans to grow his station affiliate base and eventually expand beyond his new weekly endeavor.
Odds & Sods. KDWN, Las Vegas morning drive host Alan Stock sits in for Rusty Humphries on his Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated show this afternoon (2/1)…..WTOP, Washington, DC reporter Neil Augenstein came to the rescue of a Virginia man whose car had been pulled down the road and into a ditch by flood waters early Thursday morning. Augenstein came upon the van while driving in the early morning hours. He was able to confirm that man was okay and phoned authorities to send a rescue crew…..Premiere Networks “Coast to Coast AM” star George Noory is profiled in St. Louis Magazine. Noory splits his time between St. Louis and Los Angeles and in the piece speaks about his journey from news broadcasting to radio and how it influences the show today plus more…..SirusXM launches a new Martha Stewart program called, “Martha Live.” This program debuts February 19 and will be a daily, two-hour live program airing from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm ET and will feature segments including “Ask Martha,” with live call-ins; “Mostly Martha,” with high-profile guest interviews and discussions; segments hosted by Martha’s favorite experts; as well as curated segments from Martha’s vast archives of radio and television.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds WGSO, New Orleans; WLNI, Lynchburg, Virginia; and WGAW, Gardner, Massachusetts to its roster of affiliates…..WREC, Memphis adds the Dave Ramsey program to its lineup…..“Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford” picks up its 75th affiliate station with the addition of WTYS, Marianna, Florida. Lipford also produces a companion syndicated television program of the same name…..Chris Markowski’s “Money Minutes” feature is added to the Salem Tampa stations.
Immigration Reform Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of January 28. The Obama Administration’s proposal for immigration reform was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 28 – February 1. Coming in at #2 was the report of the shrinking GDP in the U.S. tied with the Obama Administration’s shutting down of the bi-partisan jobs council. At #3 was the Chuck Hagel confirmation hearing followed by Gabrielle Giffords’ gun legislation testimony 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 form TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s chart here.
Radio Coverage of Campaign 2012 Shifts to Charlotte. The Democratic National Convention gets underway in Charlotte, North Carolina today and runs through Thursday. Talk show hosts and news staffers from stations of all formats are ensconced in their radio row remote studios preparing to report to their markets over the next three days. The non-partisan Talk Radio News Service will operate a booth on radio row and more than 100 talk show hosts will broadcast from the city – either in the convention center itself or from “alternative” sites – as they work to bring the Democratic message to their listeners or attempt to counter the message of the Obama campaign. Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett – host of “Morning in America” – will broadcast from the city. Bennett is seen here (r) enjoying a pre-convention meal at a Charlotte eatery with “Morning in America” regular guest and Fox News Channel contributor Byron York (l). Joining them for the shot at center is former Tennessee Democratic congressman and MSNBC contributor Harold Ford, Jr. who stopped by to say “hello.” While eating there Bennett was surrounded by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Soledad O’Brien of CNN and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack among other Democrats He tells TALKERS, “I enjoyed unnerving my Democratic friends.”
Jorge Sedano Joins WQAM as PD and PM Drive Host. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reports that South Florida sports media personality Jorge Sedano is taking the program director role at Beasley Broadcasting’s sports talk WQAM that was left vacant when Lee Feldman exited for interests outside of the media field. Sedano, who left Lincoln Financial Media’s WAXY, Miami in April to pursue TV work, will also become the afternoon drive host while current PM drive guy Dan Sileo will move to the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm slot left vacant by Michael Irvin’s recent departure. South Florida media chatter indicates Sileo was originally being considered for the midday slot but was hired for PM drive when he became available after exiting WDAE, Tampa and Sid Rosenberg was suddenly let go from the PM drive slot. Sedano recently was hired to host the pre- and post-game shows for Miami Heat games on the Sun Sports telecasts. He also is a part-time sportscaster for WFOR-TV, Miami – CBS4. Sedano tells the Herald, “From a lifestyle perspective, this makes the most sense. When I left 790, I needed to harness my skills and work on the craft and it’s led me to this position on the TV side, so it obviously paid off. I felt if I wanted to get back in radio, and it was a perfect situation, I would get back. This is perfect situation. I can put my imprint on the radio station.”
A Huge Day for the Expansion of Sports Talk Radio. It has been 25 years since WFAN, New York signed on as the first all sports talk radio station – an experiment that was considered bold and certainly risky on the part of then-owner Jeff Smulyan’s Emmis Broadcasting. But it certainly did prove to be a risk worth taking as sports talk radio has gone on to be one of the hottest and dynamic genres of radio in the industry – second only to political news/talk in the spoken word realm. Today the sports juggernaut picks up even more steam with the launch of two more major networks joining the ranks of four other biggies in what is becoming a crowded super-competitive marketplace. NBC Sports Radio, in partnership with Dial Global, takes to the airwaves today and CBS Sports Radio is also going nationwide with the first phase of its rollout.
Greater Media’s WTKK, Boston Re-Images as “NewsTalk 96.9.” The FM talk outlet has re-branded itself as “NewsTalk 96.9” The station’s website is still 969bostontalks.com but the station seems to be promoting its news coverage more – with emphasis on the “24-hour news center.” There are no programming changes to the station and, as you can see in the image here, the station is promoting its coverage of all things election 2012.
Judge Denies Preliminary Injunction in Emmis Case; Shareholder Meeting Scheduled for Today. Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan was pleased with Friday’s ruling in which U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker denied the injunction request of five preferred shareholders who wanted to stop the company’s shareholder meeting today at which they will vote on a plan to take some of the rights away from preferred shareholders and not pay some $10 million in past-due dividends. Judge Barker ruled that the shareholders group “failed to meet any of the threshold requirements for injunctive relief.” She also noted that had she granted the injunction, “both Emmis’ stock price as well as its efforts to refinance before the November 2012 deadline could be seriously and adversely affected.” The minority shareholders group claims today’s vote is a “blatant attempt to grab wealth” from them but Emmis denies that and counters the move is designed to cut expenses and to improve the company’s fiscal health. Jeff Smulyan controls the common stock’s voting power and therefore today’s vote is expected to go his way. It should be noted that the judge’s decision last week does not stop the minority shareholder group from suing for damages after today’s vote takes place. The group has not indicated one way or the other if it intends to take such action.
WPRO, Providence Provides Live Political Debates. Cumulus Media’s WPRO & 99.7 FM in Providence hosts congressional debates this week. Today at 6:00 pm, Democrats Anthony Gemma and David Cicilline ( who’ll face off in the primary next week) will appear on the air. The debate will be moderated by WPRO news director Bill Haberman. Tomorrow at 6:00 pm, Republican candidates for Congress in the Second Congressional District — Michael Gardiner, Michael Riley, Don Robbio and Kara Russo will debate before moderator Bill Haberman and guest panelists Tara Granahan and Andrew Gobeil from the “WPRO Morning News.” The station is also making the debates available via video on WPRO.com with an accompanying, live Tweet Chat.
J.D. Hayworth Sits in on New KVI, Seattle in PM Drive. Talk show host and former Arizona U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth will warm the PM drive chair for Cumulus Media Networks talk host Mark Levin until he can become part of the Fisher Communications news/talk station’s newly revamped lineup on September 24. Hayworth, who hosted his own successful talk show on KFYI, Phoenix for years, will also sub as co-host on the morning drive show at Cumulus’ KSFO, San Francisco this week – Wednesday through Friday as well as next Monday.
Radio Pro Jay Andrews Returns to Alma Mater to Manage Student Station and Host AM Drive Show. North Georgia media pro, former station owner and radio personality Jay Andrews is doing his first morning drive program on Brenau University’s WBCX, Gainesville, Georgia today as he returns to the college to do the radio show and manage the student radio station. Andrews tells AccessNorthGa.com, “The choice to go back to 89.1 WBCX was an easy one. Brenau University is my alma mater, and having the opportunity to manage this remarkable student station, return to the air, and most importantly help students learn the radio, TV and internet media businesses is quite an honor.” During his career, Andrews has worked as a radio personality on numerous North Georgia stations. He owned WDGR, Dahlonega, Georgia, and he managed Jacobs Media Corporation’s WDUN, WMJE and WGGA in Gainesville. On the new morning show Andrews says, “It’s a whole different animal from a format and production standpoint. Since it is technically a morning show it will move faster. We will also attempt to open the format up to more listeners by taking phone calls, interviewing Brenau newsmakers, and also become more involved in the community. We will work toward having regular contributors covering news, and current and historical events. As always we will try do this with style, great hit music, and humor.”
“Poorman” Finds On-Air Home at Small California Station. Jim Trenton, the original “Poorman” of California radio and creator of the mega-successful syndicated program “Loveline” will turn 60 next year. The fame he enjoyed while co-hosting the show has become a distant memory. The successful radio and TV series is primarily (and rightfully) associated with Dr. Drew Pinsky. Trenton’s stardom quickly faded after he was fired from “Loveline” for encouraging thousands of listeners to join him for a midnight surprise birthday party on the front lawn of a co-worker…and listeners showed up, by the thousands…but that was almost 20 years ago. The Poorman continues to feel bitter about losing the show he feels he created. Since then, he has either been fired or stormed away from a dozen stations. His career has never recovered. Ah, but now his career has been given a spark of new hope. Courageous station owner Fred Lundgren, CEO and president of news/talker KCAA, San Bernadino/Riverside, California has taken a chance and hired Trenton to host a daily one-hour show at 12:00 noon on the “station that leaves no listener behind.” Read Lundgren’s humorous account of why he put one of radio’s notorious bad boys back on the air and how it’s going by clicking here.
WABB-AM, Mobile Sold by Dittman Broadcasting to Omni Broadcasting. Fort Walton Beach, Florida-based Omni Broadcasting filed on Friday (8/31) with the FCC to transfer the license of news/talk outlet WABB (1480 AM), Mobile for a reported purchase price of $106,000. Omni also closed the same day to purchase time for the Ticket Sports Network until the close of the sale. Earlier this year the companion WABB-FM (97.6) was sold to the Educational Media Foundation for $3.1 million, which in turn sold the assets of that station to Cumulus Media in return for WRQQ-FM, Belle Meade, Tennessee and WDLT-FM, Chickasaw, Alabama, giving Cumulus upgraded coverage of the Mobile market with the 97.6 FM signal.
TAB President and Radio Advocate Ann Arnold Dies. The widely popular Ann Arnold, longtime president of the Texas Association of Broadcasters, died Saturday (9/1) at her office at the age of 67 after battling leukemia for many years. Arnold headed the organization since 1987. She had been a strong defender of Texas’ open government laws and during her tenure doubled the membership of the TAB. “Ann Arnold was an extraordinary and inspiring woman,” says TAB chairman Mary Mike Hatcher of Bryan Broadcasting. “She was fearless in her advocacy for local radio and television broadcasters, for the public’s right to know how elected officials run our government, and in her long fight with cancer.” TAB VP Oscar Rodriguez adds, “Ann was passionate about Texas and optimistic about the future. She cherished the opportunity to help local broadcasters strengthen their communities and had yet to find the challenge that would daunt her.” (Photo: Mike Wenglar)
Presidential Campaign/Democratic National Convention, Isaac Aftermath, Rising Gas Prices and Iran-Israel Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/3). The presidential campaign and the approaching Democratic National Convention; the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac; the rising price at the pump for gasoline; and Iran’s threats to strike American bases if Israel takes military action against it were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Tom Leykis and Lionel to Discuss Their High-Profile Pioneering Digital Efforts at NMS. Two questions (or variations thereof) regularly fielded by the TALKERS editorial staff these days are “How’s Tom Leykis doing with his new online talk show?” and “What’s Lionel up to these days with his online project?” Both will be answered in detail straight from the horses’ mouths at the New Media Seminar’s Digital Workshop in New York City this Thursday, June 7. As West Coast-based Leykis approaches the two-month mark into the launch of his “New Normal Network” online project and East Coast-based Lionel chalks up two years of operating “LionelMedia.com,” both individualistic graduates of the terrestrial talk show scene continue to gain traction on both the audience and revenue fronts as the industry watches with great interest. Leykis tells TALKERS, “We had over 1.1 million sessions from our debut on April 2nd until April 30th. That number would most closely approximate cume. In our first week of 24/7 streaming, we had exactly 401,180 listeners. That was more listeners than the weekly cumes of 14 L.A./Orange County radio stations in March.” On the revenue front, Leykis is also very pleased with immediate results saying, “At the current pace, we will make over 100K in revenue, but we are conservatively estimating 100K for the year.” Leykis explains the key to making an online radio operation work is to provide specific listeners something they cannot get anywhere else. He tells TALKERS, “You really have to super-serve your P1s…even in the process of selling advertising. We go out into the marketplace and ask radio-friendly businesses the question, ‘Are you being priced out of radio?’ Because our operating costs are so much lower than radio we can offer these small businesses very affordable deals. And when you specifically target business owners who are already in your audience as listeners, well it just makes a lot of sense. This is what we are doing and it is working.” Lionel describes his digital effort to TALKERS as follows: “This month is the second anniversary of the launch of LionelMedia.com, a paid subscription podcasting outlet. I podcast an hour daily of uninterrupted, unedited, commercial and break-free freeform-yet-structured spoken word. It, frankly, knows no peer. Every day I post news stories, columns, ideas, opinions and the like that supplement the subject or content of that day’s podcast. I’ll also attach a YouTube video of my latest PIX11 commentary on myriad subjects. To be most precise: I do exactly what I want. Let that sink in. My podcasts are not profane or blue in the least — in fact they could be played in their entirety on terrestrial radio. That, I feel, is a drawing point and basis for much of our success.” Although Lionel no longer does a terrestrial radio talk show, he does regularly scheduled commentaries on Tribune television stations including New York’s WPIX channel 11 and Merlin Media’s all-news FMs in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago in addition to appearing as a regular guest on a number of terrestrial radio talk shows…exposure that helps drive traffic to his online media station. The Digital Workshop will be moderated by Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service and Dan Patterson of KoPoint. The June 7 industry-only New Media Seminar/NYC is an advance sellout. For information call 413-565-5413.
Wisconsin Recall Spurs Question of “Equal Time” on Milwaukee News/Talk Outlets – and Beyond. Progressive political groups are charging Clear Channel‘s WISN, Milwaukee and Journal Broadcasting‘s WTMJ, Milwaukee with violating the FCC‘s “Zapple Doctrine” which mandates “equal time” to all qualified political candidates within 60 days of an election under certain circumstances. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that talk hosts often benefit from exemption from the “Zapple Doctrine” by qualifying as a “news interview program.” But that exemption is not always a slam dunk. Read Weisman’s column about how the courts tend to interpret this section of FCC regulations here.
WPLJ-FM, New York OM Tony Mascaro to Program WABC? Some posts on the New York Radio Message Board indicate inside sources are reporting Cumulus Media New York is naming CHR WPLJ-FM operations manager Tony Mascaro program director of its news/talk WABC. As of the posting of this item, there is no confirmation or denying of the report from Cumulus. WABC APD Chuck Armstrong has been serving as interim program director for the station filling the role left vacant when Laurie Cantillo exited the post last fall. Stay tuned.
Tony Kornheiser Re-Ups with WTEM, Washington for Two Years. The Red Zebra Broadcasting station announces high-profile personality Tony Kornheiser renews his deal to remain host of the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program on ESPN 980 WTEM, Washington, DC. As part of the new contract, Kornheiser will contribute to the Washington Redskins Radio Network‘s “Official Pre-Game Show” during the football season. WTEM CEO Rick Carmean states, “Tony’s unique brand of humor and entertainment fits perfectly into our strong and highly rated midday lineup.” Kornheiser is joined weekdays by a rotating cast of co-hosts including Gary Braun, Jeanne McManus, Torie Clark, David Aldridge and longtime producer Nigel. Frequent contributors include Tony’s “Pardon the Interruption”co-host Michael Wilbon.
WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Gives Adam Goldfein Nightly Program. Local attorney and auto dealership owner Adam Goldfein has hosted a weekend program about cars on Cox Media‘s WSB-AM/FM for some time. Now, the station adds more air time to his schedule. The consumer issues expert begins hosting a program airing nightly from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Goldfein had been filling in for Clark Howard on the station and Cox Radio Atlanta VP and market manager Dan Kearney tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “He was doing a great job filling in for Clark Howard and his Sunday show was getting great ratings. We wanted him on more consistently.”
Stephen King’s WZON, Bangor Drops Local Sports Talk; Dismisses Two. Give WZON, Bangor owner Stephen King credit for manning up and personally delivering the news to sports talk hosts Dale Duff and Clem LaBree that they were being dismissed for financial reasons. Duff and LaBree hosted the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm sports talk show on WZON-AM as well as covering a slew of local sports events, including high school and college games. The Bangor Daily News reports King told the two the change had nothing to do with the quality of their work but because the programming was losing money. WZON-AM had ceased being a full-time sports talk station in November of 2010 and was carrying much of the progressive talk format from sister WZON-FM - The Pulse. Duff had been with the station for 19 years. Both are receiving severance from the company. Duff and LaBree’s show will be replaced by a simulcast from WZON-FM although the station will continue to air sports play-by-play.
SRN’s Tom Tradup Makes Statement on End of “Richard Land Live” Program. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention issued two reprimands to Dr. Richard Land for comments he made about the Trayvon Martin case that it deemed “irresponsible, insensitive and racially charged.” It also ended his radio program that it produced that was distributed via Salem Radio Network. The controversy surrounding the statements was enhanced further by allegations Land read them from another published opinion that was not cited. SRN vice president of news/talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “Theologians have a different perspective on talk radio than the rest of our industry does. What some see as “hurtful language” on the Trayvon Martin case is, in reality, part of a free and open exchange of ideas and opinions that is the keystone of talk radio. And by talk radio standards, nothing Dr. Land may have failed to “fully attribute” on the air or on his website rose to the level of so-called plagiarism. Nevertheless, we respect the ERLC’s decision and thus the final edition of ‘Richard Land Live’ aired Saturday, June 2.
Twin Cities Radio Personality Dark Star Dies at Age 66. Longtime Minneapolis radio personality Dark Star – real name George Chapple – was found dead in his home in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He co-hosted the “Sports Show” along with Sid Hartman on CBS Radio‘s WCCO, Minneapolis during part of his 25 years on the air there before accepting a buyout from the station in November of 2010. Recently he had been working at crosstown KFAN. He failed to show up for his Friday show there and authorities found him dead in his apartment.
Compass Media Marketing Named Exclusive Radio Sales Agent for Point-of-Purchase Service. This story is really about the acquisition of InStore Broadcasting Network by POP Radio and the new company becomes InStore Audio Network. It delivers in-store advertising messages to more than 33,000 retail outlets – grocery, drug stores, etc. – and provides music content to some 14,000 stores. The company is enlisting Compass Media Marketing as exclusive national radio sales agent. Compass CEO Peter Kosann says, “I have been a longtime partner with POP Radio and the expanded footprint of the new company creates an exciting and compelling media product that network radio buyers will need to consider.”
KSFO, San Francisco Listeners Help Raise $135k for Fisher House Construction. Cumulus Media‘s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco held a Memorial Day weekend fundraiser for the Fisher House Foundation that began with a live remote broadcast of Brian Sussman‘s morning drive show. Sussman (r) is pictured here interviewing Fisher House representative Cindy Campbell (l). Fundraising continued over the Memorial Day weekend and more than $135,000 was collected for the construction of the Palo Alto Fisher House which provides no-cost housing and the comforts of home for family members of military personnel while their loved ones rehab and recover from various injuries and ailments. Sussman states, “This gift of over $135,000 illustrates the abundant generosity of our KSFO radio family. The Fisher House provides our troops and their families with genuine American hospitality and it’s an honor to be associated with their vital endeavor.”
Iowa Farm News Broadcaster Mark Pearson Dead at 54. Mark Pearson worked at Iowa Public Television where he hosted the “Market to Market” show and at Clear Channel‘s WHO, Des Moines where he co-hosted “The Big Show,” a program that highlighted agricultural news. Pearson died of an apparent heart attack at his home on Sunday. WHO talk show host Jan Mickelson told the Des Moines Register, “Everyone at every level in the farm community respected the guy.”
Don Martin Interviewed on TALKERS TV. He is one of the most influential management figures in sports talk radio. Don Martin wears both national and local feathers in his sports cap serving as vice president/general manager of Fox Sports Radio and general manager/program director of sports talk KLAC, Los Angeles. TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian caught up with Martin at the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20/11) and interviewed him about the state of sports talk radio including the local and national perspectives, where to find new talent and the importance of stations having play-by-play associations with a popular sports franchise. Martin also discusses the impact that the PPM is having on the sports talk genre saying that it is showing the format in a positive light. According to Martin, sports talk radio is one area of the talk media world that is less impacted by these difficult times than most. He credits the fact that so many talented hosts are out of work as providing a vibrant talent pool from which to pick when openings come and points to the continual crop of retiring athletes as being another source of potential sports talk broadcasters. Check out this must see video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.
KSFO, San Francisco Makes Program Changes; Melanie Morgan Returns to AM Drive and J.D. Hayworth Takes Over Late Mornings. Almost four years after exiting the AM drive show she co-hosted with Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan is back on the Cumulus Media station alongside morning host Brian Sussman. KSFO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to have Melanie back on KSFO. She’s very popular with listeners and we’re looking forward to her many contributions on the revamped morning show.” Cumulus fills the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot vacated by Rush Limbaugh when the Premiere Networks star moved across town to Clear Channel’s new KKSF with former Arizona congressman KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth says of his new gig, “As a ‘recovering’ Congressman, I’ll ‘pull back the curtains’ and explain why politicians do the things they do. With the help of KSFO listeners, we’ll endeavor to provide common sense and clarity in these challenging and confusing times.”
Bob Lonsberry to Host Local Show for Clear Channel’s WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse. Bob Lonsberry tells the Syracuse Post-Standard he’ll make his new show local for Syracuse listeners even though he’ll be a commuter from his home market of Rochester where he hosts the midday show on WHAM. Lonsberry takes over the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program beginning January 9. The shift was formerly held by Jim Reith who exited the station at the end of October. Lonsberry tells the paper, “I want something that literally speaks to a Syracuse listener, is representative of them and is a service to them.” Lonsberry will lead into WSYR-AM/FM’s 5:00 pm news-oriented “Daily Wrap with Joe Galuski and Kevin Schenk.”
Gene Burns to Begin KKSF, San Francisco Show Next Week After Apparent Health Issues. The new lineup at Clear Channel’s KKSF, San Francisco began this week but former KGO talk host Gene Burns was missing in action. Numerous reports in the media trades cite a mini-stroke suffered by Burns as the reason he’s not on the air. However, Bay Area blogger Rich Lieberman reports that Burns did not suffer a stroke of any kind, that he has another unspecified medical condition and is expected to be on the radio next week.
WXOS-FM, St. Louis Tweaks Lineup; Former Cardinal Chris Duncan Moves to PM Drive. Hubbard Radio’s 101 ESPN (WXOS-FM) moves former St. Louis Cardinals star Chris Duncan from his role on the evening show to “The Fast Lane” PM drive program where he’ll work alongside Randy Karraker and D’Marco Farr. Bob Ramsey, who had been part of the “Fast Lane” show, moves to the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with co-host Brian Stull for the newly named “Stully & Rammer” show. Ramsey also maintains his role as voice of the St. Louis Billikens calling St. Louis University men’s basketball games on the station. Program director Kent Sterling states, “We are excited to put Chris Duncan on ‘The Fast Lane.’ He is a unique communicator with an incredible work ethic, and a great guy. He has lived a life in the eye of the sports hurricane and he speaks with an authority that is captivating. Media is all about finding great communicators and Chris is one of the most gifted in America.”
CBS Radio Announces Debut of DC All-News Outlet. CBS Radio’s all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will hit the airwaves on January 19 and will feature the following talent lineup: Bill Rehkopf and Amy Morris in AM drive, Jenny Glick and Chas Henry in middays, Evan Haning and Nancy Lyons in PM drive, and Sarah Jacobs and Cheryl Simone in evenings. Program director Robert Sanchez says of the new station, “We are very excited to have put together such a great group of professionals who have spent many years covering local and national news. Each brings a specialty to WNEW creating a great team which will deliver important and compelling news that matters to local residents. When Washington needs to know, this team will have them covered.”
Rob Williams New OM/PD at WQRT, Cincinnati; New PM Drive Show Debuts. The Florence, Kentucky-licensed talk station owned by Christian Broadcasting System Ltd. names former Clear Channel programmer Rob Williams operations manager and program director for “Real Talk 1160” – WQRT. Williams replaces Cary Pall. At the same time, as talk host Andy Furman begins his new position hosting morning drive on the Fox Sports Radio Network, he leaves WQRT and makes way for “The Other Guys” afternoon sports talk show featuring Fox Sports Ohio’s Jeff Piecoro, former producer and co-host of the Furman show Rick “the Brick” Wall, and Metro Networks’ Jeremy “J-Lance” Lance.
Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Fracking-Related Earthquakes and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/3). The GOP Iowa Caucuses held yesterday, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and warnings to the U.S. about carriers in the region, reports of earthquakes in Northeastern Ohio thought to be related to oil and gas fracking and the first financial markets activity of the new year were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Mona Lipschitz Debuts New Column. Full of gossip, rumors, personal asides and unbridled opinion about the industry and the people in it, Mona Lipschitz debuts her new column “Straight from The Lip” today at Talkers.com. In it she offers some keen insights about recent changes at Merlin Media and Cumulus Media as well as some pointed advice for Anderson Cooper. Mona has been the news editor of TALKERS magazine for the past 21 years and she knows where all the bodies are buried in this business. Let the dishing begin! To read the first installment of “Straight from The Lip,” click here.
Walter Sabo Leaves COO Position at Merlin Media. Noted radio consultant Walter Sabo has parted ways with Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media, the heavily venture capital-backed firm that acquired a majority share of three radio stations this past summer from Jeff Smulyan’sEmmis Broadcasting including WEMP-FM, New York and WWWN-FM, Chicago and is in the process of picking up a fourth from Harold Camping’s Family Broadcasting – WKDN-FM, in the Philadelphia market. Merlin launched a relatively experimental all-news format at these stations targeted to what Sabo described as “working families” with an emphasis on the 25-54 female demographic. The stations (FM News 101.9 in New York and FM News 101.1 in Chicago) received a tremendous amount of attention (and intense scrutiny) in the media before, during and after their launch prompted by former Tribune Company CEO Michaels’ negatively colorful and controversial profile, in addition to the fact that they were taking a startlingly innovative and youthful approach to delivering the all-news format. Sabo was recruited to serve as architect of this approach due to his impeccable reputation as a longtime champion of the concept of targeting female listeners on FM and proven track record for success with spoken word on FM as a longtime consultant for WKXW-FM, Trenton (New Jersey 101.5). When a notable rise in ratings failed to materialize in immediately subsequent survey periods coupled with widespread criticism by radio industry observers of the stations’ formats and execution – further exacerbated by Michaels receiving negative publicity in the midst of all this for being arrested on DUI charges – the heat was on and Michaels began facing enormous internal and external pressure to modify the programming approach. He succumbed and the Merlin stations began moving in a more traditional all-news direction putting them in head-to-head competition with CBS’s long-established, traditional and wildly successful all-news outlets in New York and Chicago (WINS, WCBS and WBBM). With this repositioning, the challenge of competing against successful, established news outlets has not produced increased ratings and the Merlin all-news initiative has become prematurely tagged throughout the industry as a monumental failure. Sabo’s withdrawal from day-to-day operational and programming decisions, including his subsequent departure from Merlin, has been quietly happening below the radar for some time now. Up until this article’s publication (1/2), there has been no official press release, acknowledgement or statement from either Merlin or Sabo confirming or commenting on his exit. However,TALKERS sources inside Merlin and close to Sabo confirm that it is indeed true with Sabo telling TALKERS,“At this time my work with Merlin is complete. The primary job was to build the most competitive team on and off the air – Merlin has the best. Our initiatives gave investors the confidence to buy a station in a third market and grow the company. GTCR deserves enormous credit for investing in the radio medium. FM spoken-word is so hot that the demand for Sabo Media services has never been greater. Our clients find that our decades of experience in the FM talk format protects their investment and shortens the profit horizon. More importantly my beautiful wife Katie is seven months pregnant during the holidays. That’s the news.” Sabo will continue to serve as CEO of his consulting firm Sabo Media and internet branding and marketing company, HitViews.
Fox Sports Radio Network Debuts New Morning Program Featuring Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins. Today is the debut of Fox Sports Radio Network’s new morning show – “Fox Sports Daybreak” – heard from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and featuring former Cincinnati sports talk host Andy Furman and retired NFL defensive back Artrell Hawkins. Furman’s resume includes an 18-year run hosting “Sports Talk” at WLW, Cincinnati and, recently, the PM drive show at WQRT, Cincinnati. Hawkins is a contributor to the Cincinnati Bengals Radio Network. Furman has been hosting a weekend show with former NFL star Lincoln Kennedy for more than a year and that Sunday evening program with Furman and Kennedy will continue. Fox Sports Radio VP/GM Don Martin states, “We couldn’t be happier to have Andy and Artrell hosting our new morning drive program. The combination of a sports talk pro like Andy and a former professional football player like Artrell will be a great addition to our weekday lineup.” Fox Sports Daybreak replaces the Zakk and Jack program on the FSRN schedule.
Cumulus Media Flips WMTI-FM, New Orleans from Oldies to Sports Talk. The Big Easy gets a new sports talk outlet as Cumulus Media drops the oldies on WMTI-FM and goes sports talk with programming from Fox Sports Radio Network, Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome and a PM drive show hosted by New Orleans Hornets broadcaster Gerry Vaillancourt.
New FM Talk Outlet for Little Rock. Crain Media Group drops the active rock on KKSP-FM, Bryant, Arkansas (located to the Northwest of Little Rock) and debuts a talk format it’s calling “Fresh Talk 93.3.” The lineup includes market news personality Neal Gladner in morning drive, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham, Dial Global’s Clark Howard, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” and more.
Progressive Talk Appears on WVKO, Columbus. The station at 1580 AM is owned by Bernard Ohio LLC and its website indicates it’s doing business as Clear Conscience Communications. The progressive talk lineup that debuted on January 2 includes Dial Global’s Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann and Bill Press plus Mike Malloy and Leslie Marshall.
Chris Schoenewald Exits Virginia-Based “Daily Constitutional” Program. The regionally syndicated “Daily Constitutional” – based out of WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia and co-hosted by Joe Thomas and Chris Schoenewald – is undergoing changes as Schoenewald is leaving the program to run for office. He plans to announce which office he’ll seek soon. Thomas tells TALKERS the program will continue. “Adam Forster of Virginia Living Television and private investigator/TV anchor Nikki Lewis will be purchasing Schoenewald’s share and we’re hopeful to continue to grow and help stations in this area program locally oriented talk while freeing up their resources for news and marketing efforts.” The “Daily Constitutional” airs live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET. In addition, Thomas hosts the morning drive program on WCHV-AM/FM.
Sam Malone in Israel. KSEV, Houston morning host Sam Malone is pictured here inspecting the cockpit of an Israeli F-16 during a tour of the Hatzor Air Force Base while on a trip to Israel. Malone broadcast his program live back to his Houston audience (via the very capable technology of the Comrex ACCESS) during which he interviewed numerous Houstonians serving in the IDF, important Israeli media figures and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Malone tells TALKERS magazine his audience loved the content and his marketing department was able to get the broadcast event sponsored.
Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Holiday Sports Action and New Year Retrospectives Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/2). Today’s Iowa Caucuses for GOP candidates, the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian leadership, college and pro holiday sports action and 2011 retrospectives were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
KGO and KSFO, San Francisco VP of Programming Jack Swanson and KSFO PD Ken Berry Exit Posts. In an e-mail to his staff, longtime KGO and KSFO, San Francisco programmer Jack Swanson bids adieu to the stations he’s worked at for as long as most people can remember. In the memo, Swanson – one of the most decorated talk programming veterans in the industry — praises his staff saying, “This has been a tremendous run. Cumulus is inheriting the greatest staff in the radio industry. To a person, they are all rock stars.” Ken Berry served as news director at KGO until taking the KSFO PD post in December of last year. Both are obviously victims of the Cumulus/Citadel consolidation ax. Swanson says he plans to take some time off and come back to the industry refreshed and recharged ready for his next opportunity. Meanwhile, the anxiety continues to grow among former Citadel employees currently on the Cumulus payroll as whispers of the dreaded word “bloodbath” grow louder in the hallways of the company. Last week, longtime KABC/KLOS, Los Angeles president/general manager Bob Moore was let go in similar fashion feeding into the mounting fear. Whenever there is consolidation between two recently merged companies there are going to be duplicative positions that common business sense indicates will require job cuts. However, it’s also obvious to many observers that some people are being ousted primarily because they are making more money than their new employer deems practical to pay. As the folding of Citadel into Cumulus takes place, TALKERS hears reports that some former Citadel station staffers find themselves meeting with Cumulus managers to basically “interview” for the positions they currently hold. Obviously, this is the downside of what can happen in business – especially during tough economic times and is basically unavoidable. However, because of the size of this recent acquisition and the number of stations and personnel it involves, the present state of affairs at Cumulus is significantly contributing to the jitters being felt throughout the radio industry. Stay tuned.
Liberal Activist Group Goes After Baseball for its Affiliation with Glenn Beck. The group Americans United for Change is firing up a campaign to convince Major League Baseball to stop providing Glenn Beck with the video streaming platform to bring his GBTV to the internet. It’s not common knowledge that Major League Baseball Advanced Media provides backend infrastructure, white label services, mobile app services and operational support to not only Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts but to ESPN3, March Madness on Demand, Tiger Woods.com among others and, of course, its own MLB.com. Through its “Strike Out Beck” campaign, AUFC hopes to convince MLB Advanced Media to drop its affiliation with the talk media personality it claims is a purveyor of “unhinged anti-government conspiracies, fear mongering for personal gain, sexist remarks, and race baiting.”
Doug McIntyre Ruffles Political Feathers in Hard Hitting LA Op-Ed Piece. Nationally syndicated Cumulus Media radio talk show host Doug McIntyre – also a regular columnist in L.A.’s second largest daily, the Daily News — wrote a page one editorial in yesterday’s Sunday edition blasting the Los Angeles city government as being “occupied by corruption.” Tying into his premise that the protestors participating in the “Occupy Los Angeles” demonstrations are naively being “duped” by local politicians that he claims are merely acting like supporters of the movement but actually embody all the negative qualities against which the demonstrators are protesting. McIntyre writes, “The Los Angeles City Council embodies everything that’s wrong with government in modern America. Our city is Exhibit A when it comes to special interest money tainting good government.” Read McIntyre’s full column here. McIntyre, whose “Red Eye Radio” late night program emanates from KABC, Los Angeles, will be a member of the panel titled “The Issues Facing Southern California: Challenges and Solutions” at the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum this Thursday, October 20. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison the panel also includes Roger Hedgecock of KOGO, San Diego and Radio America; Stephanie Miller of KTLK, Los Angeles and Dial Global; investigative reporter Charles Feldman of KNX, Los Angeles; Patt Morrison of KPCC-FM, Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; John Phillips of KABC, Los Angeles; Josefa Salinas of Hot 92.3 FM, Los Angeles; and LaFern Cusack of the Southern California Broadcasters Association and ESPN, Los Angeles. Considering the volatile nature of the issues facing the region which include immigration, economics, transportation, the environment and a slew of others, and the diversity of the panelists participating – the sparks will really fly! For complete details about the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum click here.
Entercom’s WMC, Memphis Flips to Sports. Speculation about the company’s plans for “Country Legends” WMC began last week when Entercom announced Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome show would move from sister sports WMFS-AM/FM to WMC. Now, Entercom will manage two sports talk stations in the market it calls the Memphis Entercom Sports Network – WMFS-AM/FM affiliated with ESPN Radio and producing live and local programming in the afternoons (Eric Hasseltine followed by the Gary Parrish Show with Geoff Calkins) and WMC affiliated with Fox Sports Radio Network and carrying Jim Rome.
Actress Janine Turner Begins Daily Syndicated Talk Show. The Texas-born actress has been hosting a two-hour weekend talk show on Cumulus’ KLIF, Dallas since 2010. Now, Janine Turner announces she’s beginning a daily program – “The Janine Turner Show – Where is Reason?” – that airs live at 2:00 pm ET and is available in national syndication via her eponymous radio network. The show can also be heard online at janineturner.com. Turner says, “I’m thrilled that the Janine Turner show has received such a positive response both from the critics and the listeners. I think what makes my show really unique is that it features thought-provoking analysis about ‘Where is Reason?’ in our country, plus an inquisitive and conversational forum with a great lineup of guests – everyone from presidential candidates and authors to actors and constitutional scholars. And I absolutely love the opportunity to include callers from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and across the nation into the ‘Where is Reason’ dialogue.”
Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels Arrested on Drunken Driving Charge. In Ohio it’s called OVI – operating a vehicle impaired – and that’s the charge Middletown, Ohio police are filing against Randy Michaels after he was found by police in his car stuck in mud and water in a construction zone around 2:00 am on Friday (10/14). Authorities noticed the smell of alcohol on Michael’s breath and administered field tests which authorities say he failed. Michaels refused a Breathalyzer test. He is expected to be in Middletown Court today. Middletown is about 35 miles north of the Cincinnati area where Michaels reportedly maintains a residence. The unconventional – some have called it “frat house” – workplace culture Michaels encourages is not surprising to many Clear Channel employees whom Michaels led for many years as president of that company’s radio division, but it ruffled the feathers of many Tribune Company employees when Michaels served as its CEO. It remains to be seen if this incident will affect Michaels’ relationship with Merlin Media’s investors, especially in light of the mounting criticism facing the recent launch of the FM news operations in New York and Chicago and their disappointing early ratings.
Hispanic Group Pickets KFI, Los Angeles in Protest of John & Ken. The National Hispanic Media Coalition held a press conference and peaceful protest outside the studios of Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles yesterday. About 35 people picketed the station’s Olive Street facilities in Burbank. The group tells L.A. Weekly that “at least three major advertisers are pulling out of the John & Ken show” and though the advertisers were not named there, the Los Angeles Times reports the activists say Verizon and AT&T have pulled advertising from the show and grocery chains Vons and Ralphs have agreed not to advertise on the show in the future. The protest and boycott were triggered after immigrant advocate Jorge-Mario Cabrera claimed to have received some 400 phone calls from John & Ken listeners after the duo gave out Cabrera’s cell number and asked listeners to tell him what they think of his support for the Dream Act which provides tuition subsidies for illegal immigrants. Initially, Clear Channel Los Angeles management agreed to meet with Hispanic leaders to discuss the issue but the meeting was canceled after one leader demanded that John & Ken be taken off the air and CC market manager Greg Ashlock refused to acquiesce to an ultimatum. Clear Channel did not address the issue of advertisers leaving the show but issued the following written statement, “Expressing your opinion is not a firing offense. KFI stands behind John and Ken and their right to speak their minds — opinions shared, incidentally, by over a million California listeners each week and protected by the First Amendment.” According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “This situation being faced by KFI in Los Angeles is a quintessential example of a whole slew of core news/talk radio concerns — special interest pressure, advertising boycotts, free speech rights, political correctness, and management resolve — all crashing together in one escalating story. It warrants the industry’s undivided attention.” The heated debate over illegal immigration as well as the managing of controversy in news/talk radio will be among the topics discussed at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum set for October 20.
CBS Radio Reportedly Interested in Annapolis FM for All-Newser. Rumors continue to swirl about CBS Radio’s interest in acquiring a DC-area FM – specifically Christian WFSI-FM, Annapolis – in order to put on its own FM all-news outlet in the Nation’s Capital. WFSI-FM is owned by evangelist Harold Camping’s Family Stations, Inc. The presence of CBS Radio Washington market manager Steve Swenson, who has a ton of experience in news having worked for years in various capacities at the company’s New York news stations WCBS and WINS, is lending credence to the rumor.
Clear Channel Promotes Brian Lekamp to President of CC Digital. Brian Lekamp moves up from his post as EVP of digital media to the newly created position. Lekamp’s duties include his responsibility for Clear Channel’s digital strategy – with its iHeartRadio service at the top of that — as well as the infrastructure, tools and social media integration for its local stations’ branded Internet properties. He will also continue to work with key partners to develop cutting-edge tools and products for all of Clear Channel’s radio, media and entertainment properties. Lekamp states, “At Clear Channel, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the best people in the business – they are smart, dedicated and focused on innovation. The development of the new iHeartRadio was supercharged with our acquisition of Thumbplay in March and our strong integrated digital team will continue to develop new digital music products and experiences that support the iHeartRadio platform and Clear Channel’s network of radio station websites. This is a team effort that I am honored to lead.”
CBS Radio Ups Mike Thomas to VP of Programming in Boston. Mike Thomas has been PD at classic rock WZLX, Boston since 2006 and has programmed WBZ-FM – 98.5 The Sports Hub – since its debut in 2009. Now, CBS Radio ups Thomas to vice president of programming for the cluster that also includes hot AC WBMX-FM, oldies WODS-FM and news WBZ. SVP and market manager Mark Hannon says, “Since Mike’s arrival at WZLX in 2006, he has built the station into a consistent ratings powerhouse. His launch of 98.5 The Sports Hub in 2009 has been one of the most successful in recent radio history, and the station being named ‘Sports Station of the Year’ at the 2011 NAB Marconi Radio Awards was a tremendous accomplishment. I look forward to using his strategic approach and programming insights to impact the overall CBS Radio stable of stations in Boston.”
CC Denver Produces Successful “Battle of the Talk Show Hosts” Live Event. The 2nd annual “Battle of the Talk Show Hosts” was produced on Thursday, October 6 by Clear Channel Denver and entertained a sold-out house at the Comedy Works Landmark in Denver. Personalities from the three Denver talk stations – KOA, KHOW and KKZN – batted around the hot issues of the day before the live audience. Taking part were: Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh, Mike Rosen, Dave Logan, Michael Brown, John Caldara and Rick Barber from KOA; Peter Boyles, Tom Martino and Dan Caplis & Craig Silverman from KHOW; and David Sirota and Thom Hartmann from KKZN. The event was heavily sponsored by local businesses and admission was charged. Pictured here are progressive talk KKZN morning host David Sirota (l) and KOA midday host Mike Rosen (r).
Buckley Broadcasting’s Jennifer Buckley Named to RAB Board. The daughter of the late Rick Buckley (once chair of the RAB board) is elected to the Radio Advertising Bureau board. Jennifer Buckley is vice president and director of sales for WOR, New York and the WOR Radio Network.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” adds WTRC-AM/FM, South Bend, Indiana for its brand new live Sunday evening show hosted by Mark Edge and Stephanie…..“The Career Clinic” with Maureen Anderson picks up affiliates WLRT, Lexington, Kentucky; KBJT, Fordyce, Arkansas; WKEI, Kewanee, Illinois; and KTUI, Sullivan Missouri.
2012 Presidential Race/999 Plan Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 10-14. The GOP race for the nomination for the 2012 presidential election and Herman Cain’s ‘999 plan’ topped the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories of the week. At #2 was the Iran assassination plot allegation. Close behind at #3 was the ‘Occupy’ protest movement and at #4 was President Obama’s Jobs Bill. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published each Friday at Talkers.com. To view the entire chart, click the banner below.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Speak at Talkers Forum. When the closing panel, “The Issues Facing Southern California – Challenges and Solutions” takes place at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum, not only will it have the eyes and ears of the local broadcasting and media community upon it — but the mayor of the nation’s second most populated city as well. He will be in attendance preparing to deliver the concluding remarks at the first-time event that is aptly being described as a “who’s who of everybody who’s anybody in Southern California talk radio.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be the closing solo speaker at the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum being presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club on Thursday, October 20 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm rounding out what managing editor Kevin Casey calls “the most amazing roster of speakers we’ve ever seen crammed into a one-day radio industry event…this is a real happening!” More than 30 speakers including Larry King, Norm Pattiz, Bill Handel, Don Barrett, eight program directors of the leading talk stations in the region and a star-studded array of talk show hosts constitute the roster of what TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison terms “a new kind of industry gathering.” Although already filled to capacity, a stand-by registration list has been set up to fill vacancies in the case of cancellations and the entire forum will be shown shortly thereafter on TALKERS TV. For complete information click here.
Cumulus Does Some Management Restructuring in San Francisco. Specifically, KGO and KSFO general manager Deidra Lieberman becomes vice president of sales for the six-station cluster that now also includes sports KNBR. Cumulus manager Bill Bungeroth – already overseeing KNBR and music-formatted stations KFOG-FM and KSAN-FM – becomes market manager for the entire cluster. So far this is a restructuring of management and there are no reports of positions being consolidated.
WKNR, Cleveland Makes PM Drive Show Changes. Ohio Media Watch reports that Good Karma’s sports WKNR, Cleveland – unchallenged in sports talk programming until the recent debut of CBS Radio’s WKRK-FM – moves its current PM drive show “Afternoon R&R” with Michael Reghi and Kenny Roda to evenings and prepares to debut a new PM drive show on October 3 hosted by well-known market reporter Bruce Hooley and current WKNR staffers Greg Brinda and Chris Fedor. Previously, Hooley covered Ohio State Buckeyes football for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and he also worked at RadiOhio’s WBNS-AM/FM, Columbus.
Artie Lange and Nick DiPaolo Program Set to Debut. According to TMZ, former Howard Stern cast member Artie Lange and fellow comedian and one-time WFNY-FM, New York personality Nick DiPaolo have struck a deal with DirecTV to produce a pop culture-style talk show also heavy on sports for DirecTV and for radio in national syndication. The show is reportedly to begin Monday, October 3 although the story doesn’t cite any affiliate radio stations for the program. The report does state Lange and DiPaolo are to make $500,000 each per year of the three-year deal.
Buckley’s Joe Bilotta Named to BFoA Board of Directors. Buckley Broadcasting president and CEO Joe Bilotta has been named to the Broadcasters Foundation of America board of directors. Bilotta, who rose to president and CEO of Buckley Broadcasting after the passing of Rick Buckley this summer, says it’s an honor to serve on the board of an organization that gives back to the industry. “Whether it’s an emergency grant for a broadcaster whose home was devastated while they stayed on the air during a disaster, or one who experienced a tragic and unforeseen debilitating accident, the Broadcasters Foundation is there to provide aid when there is nowhere else to turn. I would encourage everyone to support this charitable mission of helping broadcasters in need.”
WGN, Chicago’s John Williams and Listeners Attempt Speed Golf World Record. In the realm of goofy station promotions, this one is up near the top. WGN midday talk host John Williams has recruited about 100 listeners to assist him in a speed golf relay format in an attempt to break the world record for the fastest round of golf played. Dubbing it “King John & His Royal Court’s Speed Golf World Record Challenge,” the golfers are assigned locations along the course in accordance with their best club as they hit the ball to each other in progression. The current world record is seven minutes and 56 seconds. But Williams says, “It’s not just a world record we’re going after. It’s a stupid world record, so that’s a natural for us. I think of this more as an excuse to have a beer by 9:00 am.”
South Bend Broadcaster Turns to Public for Format Suggestions. Artistic Media Partners has shut down the talk and sports format on WDND, South Bend after it and ESPN could not come to terms on a contract renewal to continue carrying ESPN content. For now the station at 1620 on the AM dial is simulcasting the company’s FM sister Top 40 format but company president Arthur Angotti says that’s temporary and they’re willing to hear what listeners have to say. “We’re trying not to make a decision in haste. We’ve taken a lot of calls from people wanting to know what happened and they’ve had some interesting ideas.”
2012 GOP Candidates, Iran Military Ambitions, and Obama Economic Policy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/28). The Republican candidates for president including the rise of Herman Cain in the polls, Iran’s military posturing and talk of new cruise missiles plus President Obama’s economic policies were all among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from Talkers.