Joe McDonnell: LA Saddened at Giant-Size Talent’s Passing. How “big” was Joe McDonnell in Los Angeles? Consider this: Friday’s (3/13) lead item for several newscasts on the city’s only all-news station, CBS Radio‘s KNX, was that the 58-year-old McDonnell – widely-known as “Big Joe” or “The Big Nasty” – had passed away. “Big” references regarded his weight, approximately 700 pounds at one time; however, the sports talk host underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost roughly more than half of that. “Nasty” became a handle owing to his highly opinionated nature. The overwhelming majority of those familiar with McDonnell’s exemplary on-air work in Los Angeles would quickly associate him with being a “legendary” or “iconic” sports talk radio “fixture” and that would certainly be accurate. He was, however, among the rarest of on-air talents in the country’s second-largest market, in that, in addition to doing a nightly (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm) sports program (“The Joe McDonnell Experience”) on Clear Channel‘s (now iHeartMedia) KLAC, he also did a Sunday (12:00 noon – 2:00 pm) political talk program (“The Joe McDonnell Show”) on co-owned KTLK-AM (now KEIB). Most recently, McDonnell did fill-in work at KNX. Reaction to his death has continued virtually nonstop, with a who’s who in local and national media, as well as executives of major sports franchises, offering condolences. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew McDonnell ever since Scioscia first came up as a catcher in the Dodgers’ organization. “He was a good friend who will be missed. It’s sad,” Scioscia states. On Twitter, Keith Olbermann writes, “Heartbroken to learn of death of LA radio legend, my friend, Joe McDonnell. He leaves us having never held a grudge.” Ken Rosenthal comments, “So sad to hear about the passing of Joe McDonnell, a one-of-a-kind sports personality in Los Angeles and a reporter at heart.” Several years ago, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian, then the special features editor for Inside Radio, did an extensive profile of McDonnell, who freely used the word “idiot” to describe someone with whom he disagreed. It was a trademark of the bombastic on-air persona of “The Big Nasty” and customarily delivered in vitriol by the dean of Los Angeles radio sports talk hosts. McDonnell garnered legions of dedicated fans. Once – to benefit charity – he accepted the challenge of co-workers and successfully completed a four-hour shift without uttering one negative. In his profile, Kinosian shattered the myth about McDonnell and let the truth be told that in real-life, McDonnell was a far cry from the manic personality listeners were accustomed to hearing. Pensive and completely conscientious McDonnell qualified as a native Angelino, having relocated from Philadelphia in 1959 at age three with his parents. “I loved radio and wouldn’t go anywhere without it,” he fondly recalled to Kinosian. “I’d go to bed listening to it and wake up with it. I went through radios [as others] went through socks. Even when doing homework, I had the radio on.” Although thoroughly enthralled by the medium, McDonnell at that time never thought about pursuing a career in it. Family members urged him to be a lawyer, but McDonnell formulated sportswriter aspirations while attending L.A. Valley College and Cal State – Northridge. His radio career was, in his words, “a total accident.” A high school buddy McDonnell hadn’t seen in a while told him he received academic credit for working at a radio station. That was all it took for McDonnell: He scored an interview for a newsroom opening at KGIL in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and his first day was September 18, 1975 – the day they arrested Patty Hearst. “I was so excited to be there and hung around to watch what everybody did. Then the story broke and I wound up staying until 10:00 pm. I fell in love with radio my first day and knew this was for me.” Freelance sports opportunities later surfaced for him at Mutual, AP Radio, and UPI Radio and he adroitly transitioned into a daily field correspondent. Play-by-play was briefly tinkered with, but long enough for McDonnell to know it didn’t captivate him. Something else did and as he flatly asserted to Kinosian, “My interest in politics is equal to my interest in sports. They are jobs but they are [also] passions. I love being able to show another side of my life. I am very liberal but do not [rubber-stamp] everything simply because that is what [other liberals] say you should do. I take things on a position-by-position basis. It is impossible and disingenuous to be one way on every subject. No one can ever accuse me of being a phony.” The first Gulf War was underway when he hosted a general talk show on KFI, Los Angeles. America’s first casualty came as a result of friendly fire. Soon after that, the victim’s widow drove to KFI one Sunday afternoon and McDonnell did two hours with her. “It was the most gut-wrenching, yet most fulfilling, thing I’ve done on radio,” he told Kinosian. “Quite honestly, I didn’t know I was capable of pulling it off. People heard me do sports and wondered what I knew about [politics]. I had to win them over.” Multiple Golden Microphone award winner McDonnell toiled in the Southland at KMAX and KWNK between 1994 – 1997; won raves doing sports updates for (then-all news) KFWB; and was part of the original 1992 staff transitioning KMPC to all-sports – although the outbreak of the L.A. riots was the considerably more monumental story the night of the format flip. For numerous personal and professional reasons, a five-year run beginning in 2000 as KSPN “ESPN 710,” Los Angeles’ assistant program director and afternoon driver profoundly affected him. “My first three years there were great,” McDonnell declared to Kinosian. “I had a say in what went on and helped build KSPN from the ground up with [KABC & KSPN OM] Erik Braverman who was my KFI producer. Unfortunately when Erik decided he wanted to concentrate on KABC, they brought in people who didn’t share our ideas.” It was one different concept after another and became the beginning of the end for McDonnell there. “They killed morale and dissolved everything we did. I wanted to leave every day the last two years I was there but made so much money I would’ve been put in a mental institution if I quit.” From the minute McDonnell walked into the Burbank offices of KLAC to interview with KLAC general manager/program director & KTLK program director Don Martin, he sensed something different. “This might sound crazy – but I really liked that they made me earn my position. Don put me on KTLK and let me do some KLAC fill-in. It meant a lot when he said I assimilated with the audience and staff. People have this idea you expect everything be given to you.” Being a sports talk host was a 24 hour-a-day job for McDonnell because, “Information doesn’t stop.” His shows were frequently punctuated with “24” and “Da Ali G” clips and laced with abundant/energetic hip-hop tracks as bumpers. At first, longtime “McDonnell – Douglas” partner Doug Krikorian wasn’t part of the equation for the “Joe McDonnell Experience,” although the Long Beach Press-Telegram sportswriter joined the ensemble to deliver weekly “K-Files” reports. After all, it was Krikorian who hung the “Big Nasty” moniker on McDonnell when Big Joe collared/disposed of a rowdy patron one night at their favorite hangout. Naturally, the subject of McDonnell’s weight came up in the Kinosian profile of him and McDonnell said that even before the gastric bypass procedure, the heavy burden he was carrying didn’t really bother him. He did however eventually begin slowing down, getting sick, and spending more time at home. “I stopped going to games because it was uncomfortable. My doctor told me I had to do something. Any addict – and I’m definitely a food addict – thinks you can do it on your own.” That’s the fallacy and something an addict desperately wants to believe but McDonnell stressed it can not be done alone. “It got to the point where I realized I was going to die. I had the surgery and lost 300 pounds. On Christmas Day, I put slabs of turkey and prime rib on a plate [surrounded with] potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. I took it to the table and had a bite of each. Hey look – I’m a food addict and always will be.” The old Joe most likely would’ve avoided on-air surgery mentions. If it did pop up, he probably would’ve been brutal in challenging the person referencing it. A much mellower McDonnell made a conscious decision when he left KSPN that the “Big Nasty” had died. “It was a great vehicle for what I needed – but – that really isn’t me,” he emphasized to Kinosian. “I’m opinionated and will raise my voice but I’m a nice guy and like to have fun. One reason I love my job is it allows me to hang with people.” Conceding it was a “shortcoming” on his part as a talk show host to refrain from mentioning much about his personal life, McDonnell declared, “You can’t be isolated and expect to reach your audience; you have to let them in on your life. For the most part, I refused to do that. Don Martin and I had a long talk about that and he said the best on-air people let you know about them.” A happy, healthy, and exuberant McDonnell chatted up his March 30, 2007 wedding to KLOS’ lovely Elizabeth Cohn (now working at cross-town Bonneville-owned KSWD “The Sound”). “I finally met someone who will put up with me and I [married] the most wonderful person in the world,” McDonnell emphasized in that profile. Joe and Elizabeth worked together for four years inside ABC Radio Los Angeles (now Cumulus Media) and basically didn’t say a word to each other. “She understands I’ll occasionally make fun of her on-air and exaggerate things but my life is now an open book.” Numerous health ailments – some nearly life-threatening – plagued McDonnell and he frequently credited Elizabeth as being the rock who held him together. An avowed movie junkie, McDonnell would go to as many as three or four in one day. It was his way to relax and escape. “One of the biggest benefits of losing weight is I can fit into theater seats. That was honestly a problem before.” Such McDonnell segments as “Who Do You Want To Kick Out Of LA?” gave him a Northeast-sounding vibe, but his entire nearly 40-year career was spent in Los Angeles. The ardent WWE fan told Kinosian, “It would take a million dollar offer for me to leave Los Angeles. In the early-1990s, I had a chance to work for a friend in Nashville and had a big offer to go to Seattle in 1994 but my mother had cancer so I wasn’t about to leave town. There was a preliminary discussion years ago with WFAN, New York about being a reporter/weekend host but Los Angeles is my home. I’m part of the radio landscape.” Eerie now, but McDonnell confided to Kinosian in that lengthy printed conversation, “All the stuff I’ve done is leading up to something. I’ve always felt there was a bigger plan for me and a different path. God has kept me around for a reason – but I don’t know what it is. With what I’ve put myself through, any other person would have been dead by now.” Even at his heaviest, the voracious reader managed to stay in “fairly good shape.” The only weakness until recently was with his knees. According to McDonnell, “The ultimate moment for me would be to somehow find out who really killed John F. Kennedy.” As for the once “Big Nasty,” no cause of death was reported; several reports – including the one on KNX – said he died at Los Angeles’ Good Samaritan Hospital after a “brief illness.” A two-hour Friday night (3/13) Jeff Biggs-hosted show on KSPN paid tribute to McDonnell, who typically aired his “Kick Out” segment Fridays. Poignant, touching, and chillingly appropriate, the final word was given to Elizabeth McDonnell who somehow managed to summon up the strength in her voice to utter she wanted to kick Joe out of LA. Dramatic, goose-bump radio. “When I die,” McDonnell once told Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, “I want to be cremated and then have a plane spread half of my ashes over Dodger Stadium and the other half over the [ex-home of the Lakers] Forum.”
Doug McIntyre Returns to WABC, New York. A change to the afternoon drive programming is made at Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York as KABC, Los Angeles morning drive personality Doug McIntyre begins hosting “Right Now with Doug McIntyre” on the station Wednesday, March 4. Cumulus says the new, hour-long talk show will be “focused on the most important stories and personalities in New York. As a native New Yorker, McIntyre brings with him a deep understanding of the Tri-State area’s most pressing issues and how they relate to the national headlines of the day.” McIntyre has appeared on WABC in the past. He created the “Red Eye Radio” show in 2000, first as a one-time post-election recap and then as a local overnight show in Los Angeles, expanding to become a nationally syndicated program in early 2010 with WABC as one of its flagship stations. McIntyre also previously hosted “Talking the News” on WABC in 2009, a weekday morning show that aired before “Imus in the Morning.” McIntyre will continue as host of “McIntyre in the Morning” on KABC “TalkRadio 790.” McIntyre says, “This is a real homecoming for me and I am genuinely thrilled to be returning to 77 WABC. There is no more dynamic and insane city on the planet than New York. The Tri-State area is like a nation unto itself, with its own politics, its own culture and its own sense of humor and I look forward to highlighting the city’s unique stories again.” Prompting this programming change at WABC is Rita Cosby’s decision to end her work hosting “The Ride Home with Rita Cosby.” Citing her “various TV commitments and international speaking engagements” that require her to spend more time away from her daily show, Cosby is stepping down from the daily show but will continue to be heard on WABC hosting her new weekend talk show that will debut on March 8. WABC program director Craig Schwalb says she will “continue to secure exclusive interviews with some of the biggest names making headlines in current events, politics and entertainment.”
PPM Analysis: All-News. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents an analysis of the performances of all-news-formatted radio stations based on data from the January 2015 Nielsen Audio PPM survey. Kinosian writes, “Historically horrible winter weather conditions and the cessation of all-Christmas music are most likely contributing factors to the truly stunning January 2015 performance of all-news outlets…Although not coming anywhere close to possessing the massive volume of talk outlets, the feat all-news stations accomplished in the most recent sweep is nonetheless exceptionally impressive: Not one news station on the panel of properties we tracked regressed (6+) from Holiday 2014 to January 2015. Read the entire report here.
Marathon-Man Madison. While understandably “exhausted,” SiriusXM‘s Joe Madison achieved his goal of a 52-hour broadcast during which he raised more than $150,000 for the construction of the Smithsonian‘s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. “When you do something for the right reasons – and you have the support of others – you really can do anything,” Madison states. “I hope our SiriusXM broadcast helps cast a spotlight on the need to raise funds for the much needed [museum to be built on the National Mall in Washington, DC].” The Guinness World Record Organization is reviewing the broadcast as a new record. Madison began the marathon this past Wednesday (2/25) at 6:00 am (ET) and continued un-interrupted until Friday (2/27) at 10:00 am (ET).
KSPN, Los Angeles Debuts Live and Local Show with Kelvin Washington and Travis Rodgers. The new program featuring radio and TV pro Kelvin Washington and sports talk radio’s Travis Rodgers will air live on ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles “ESPNLA 710” from 5:00 am to 7:00 am. The show will continue until 9:00 am via ESPNLA.com and the ESPN Radio app. KSPN begins airing ESPN Radio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd at 7:00 am. Rodgers also hosts “Travis Rodgers Now” on Yahoo! Sports Radio and will continue in that role.
iHeartMedia: Study Shows Consumers Want AM/FM Radio in Cars in Traditional Format. From a press release by iHeartMedia comes news that, according to a research study conducted by Ipsos (a leading global independent market research company) AM/FM radio remains the overwhelmingly preferred audio entertainment option in the car. Further, “while consumers use new streaming services, virtually all consumers – 99% — are comfortable with the current AM/FM in-car radio operation. And 91% of consumers say they prefer physical AM/FM radio buttons and controls built into the car dashboard, rather than AM/FM being an app that appears in the car’s electronic interface (with only 9% saying they would want it changed into a dashboard app).” Other news from the study includes the finding that “while AM/FM radio remains paramount in the car, consumers use their in-car CD player three-and-a-half times as much as they use any digital music service.” Additionally, the report indicates that “AM/FM radio still dominates in-car listening as the top platform used, with 84% of consumers using it in the car, followed by CD players at 64% — but radio still maintains a huge leadership position over the next closest service choice, SiriusXM – which had 22%. Pandora was 18%; iHeartRadio was 8%; HD radio 7%; and Spotify was 7%.” The study, conducted by Ipsos for iHeartMedia in January 2015, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1036 adults 18-plus.
KGMZ, Oakland A’s Extend Partnership. The deal between KGMZ “The Game” and MLB‘s Oakland Athletics keeps the AL West team’s broadcasts on the Entercom-owned flagship at least through the 2018 season. Market manager Steve DiNardo comments that “The Game” has, “grown as a brand – experiencing consistent ratings and revenue growth during our partnership with the A’s. We are delighted to continue serving as the destination for Oakland A’s radio broadcasts for the next four seasons.” Oakland A’s vice president of broadcasting & communications Ken Pries remarks, “It has been an amazing partnership so far. We look forward to many more seasons of A’s baseball on 95.7 FM and all of the affiliates across the A’s Radio Network.” The A’s primary broadcast team will again consist of Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo, who are in their 20th year and 10th year, respectively, calling the team’s games. Joining them occasionally will be former MLB catcher Ray Fosse, entering his 30th consecutive season on A’s radio. KGMZ will broadcast all 162 regular-season A’s games and some spring training contests. The A’s and “The Game” first partnered in 2011.
Cumulus Sends The Vibe to Memphis. Score yet another transition to classic hip-hop as Cumulus Media Memphis jettisons talk on WKIM in favor of “98.9 – The Vibe.” Cumulus senior vice president of programming Mike McVay comments “The Vibe” is “designed to capture the spirit and complexity of Memphis. This city has birthed many music types of which this format is one more. ‘The Vibe’ is classic hip hop.” In addition to hosting mid-days on co-owned rocker WXMX “The Max,” Danni Bruns is programming “The Vibe” and she remarks, “Memphis has always been at the forefront of music. Now we have a new ‘Vibe’ – this is our party station.” Late last year, Flinn Broadcasting flipped Memphis alternative outlet WIVG to “throwback hip-hop” as “Bumpin’ 96.” The logo for Memphis’ “Vibe” mirrors that of Indianapolis sibling WRWM, although the latter is using “The Beat” rather than “The Vibe” as its handle. Naughty By Nature‘s “Hip-Hop Hooray” kicked off Friday’s (2/27) noontime launch of Memphis’ “Vibe.” Among persons 6+ in the latest (January 2015) Nielsen Audio PPM ratings report for Memphis, WKIM registers a 1.4, ironically tying it at #19 with WIVG. The 1.4 for WKIM is the station’s best (6+) performance in more than two years – it hit 1.8 in November 2012.
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated talk host Laura Ingraham is being tapped to serve as the national chairman for the PAC Citizens for the Republic. The political action committee was originally founded by Ronald Reagan in 1977. A press statement says the PAC’s goal is to lead a “revitalized effort to advocate conservative principles and shine a light on government corruption.”…..Former WKRC, Cincinnati radio host Blake Seylhouwer was found guilty of two counts of negligent assault after an altercation outside his home during which he fired a rifle into the driveway and caused debris to spray up, injuring his wife. Seylhouwer is an area businessman who brokered time from the station for a weekend show…..A grand jury in Hackensack, New Jersey has indicted Alan “Dr. Al” Lupinacci on charges of practicing medicine and conducting surgery without a license. Lupinacci has brokered time from WMCA, New York for his “Learn to Be Healthy” program. His medical license had been suspended in 1995 after he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct with female patients.
‘The Financial Exchange’ Adds Five New England Affiliates. The WRKO, Boston-based program “The Financial Exchange” with Barry Armstrong (right) and Kim Carrigan (left) announces it is adding five New England affiliate stations so far this month. This build-out of the Barry Armstrong brand in the region is the next step in creating a larger radio platform. The program – which airs live from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET – starts today on WELI, New Haven; WGIR, Manchester and WHYN, Springfield. Later this month, the show will also air on WTAG, Worcester and WQSO, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
WEEI-FM, Boston Morning Show Remains Intact as John Dennis Inks New Deal. According to a report in the Boston Globe by Chad Finn, morning personality John Dennis has signed a new contract with Entercom to remain in part of sports talk WEEI-FM’s morning show. Co-host Gerry Callahan reportedly signed an extension in August. Though the terms of the deal are not being released, Finn reports that sources say the new contract will not pay Dennis or Callahan the same kind of money they had been receiving from their last contract signed in 2007. Sports media personality Kirk Minihane joined the program 18 months ago and his arrival has breathed new life into the show that has been challenged by CBS RADIO’s crosstown WBZ-FM and its Toucher and Rich morning program in the ratings. As Finn reports, the Dennis & Callahan show beat Toucher and Rich in the Nielsen Audio PPM ratings in July. August PPM data is being released this week.
Baltimore’s “Fan” Adds La Canfora to Afternoons. Starting today (9/2), the afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) Scott Garceau Show with Jeremy Conn on CBS RADIO Baltimore all-sports WJZ-FM “The Fan” expands to include CBS Sports “NFL Insider” and analyst Jason La Canfora. Vice president of programming Dave Labrozzi believes, “It is only natural that one of the country’s premier sports analysts would join Baltimore’s premier sports talk station. Jason will bring an even greater depth to our coverage of sports in general, and football in particular. It is great to have someone of Jason’s caliber and national notoriety joining our team.” La Canfora reflects, “As a kid who fell asleep every night listening to Baltimore sports talk radio with a radio under my pillow, and who grew up taking the number 22 bus to Memorial Stadium, this is truly a dream come true. I am always listening to Scott and Jeremy when I’m in the carpool line at my kid’s school or taking them to practices, so I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to join the team at ‘The Fan’ and talk about all of local sports.” Baltimore native La Canfora joined CBS Sports as the NFL Insider for “The NFL Today” on the CBS Sports Network and CBSSports.com in 2012.
Fennell Named SVP and CFO for Cox Media Group. Taking over for Charles Odom, who was promoted recently to vice president and treasurer for Cox Enterprises, is Brett Fennell who assumes the SVP and chief financial officer role for Cox Media Group. Fennell comes to CMG from Manheim where he was VP of financial planning and analysis. CMG president Bill Hoffman states, “Brett is a proven Cox leader and a perfect addition to CMG’s executive team. Additionally, his appointment is a great example of how Cox professionals can grow their careers across all Cox companies.” In this role, Fennell will be responsible for all financial accounting and reporting, financial planning and analysis, financial systems and finance process improvement for CMG’s broadcasting, publishing and digital companies, as well as for Cox Reps and Cox Target Media.
More TALKERS Career Moves. Sports talk personality and programmer Kent Sterling moves across town from Emmis-owned sports outlet WFNI, Indianapolis to Entercom’s WXNT “CBS Sports 1430” where he’s now hosting the afternoon drive show, bumping the network’s Doug Gottlieb…..Weekend talk show host Lisa Ann Walter exits Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles. Walter had been hosting the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm show on Saturdays and Sundays for the past three years…..Mark Willard leaves ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles where he’d been hosting the daily “ESPNLA Now” program from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. He’d been with the station since 2008.
’99.9 The Fan’ in Raleigh Holds Hurricanes Town Hall. Sports talk outlet WCMC-FM, Raleigh “99.9 The Fan” is holding its second “Fan Town Hall,” this time featuring the Carolina Hurricanes and with three of the most influential people in the team’s organization. The event takes place tomorrow (9/3) at WRAL-TV. The 90-minute, commercial-free program will be moderated by “The Buzz” morning drive host and Hurricanes pre/post-game host, Mike Maniscalco. Hurricanes panelists will include: president Don Waddell, executive VP/GM Ron Francis and head coach Bill Peters. “99.9 The Fan” OM and program director Dennis Glasgow states, “Capitol Broadcasting is the first media outlet to have this unprecedented access with the newly formed Canes management team of Waddell, Francis and Peters, so we look forward to hearing their vision for the first time ever in a very unique setting. We know how passionate Caniacs are in North Carolina. It’s important to us for the fan base to have social media access so that they can ask questions about their team directly to the decision makers.”
Talking IRS on WFED, Washington. Afternoon drive personality Francis Rose (left) sits down for an exclusive interview with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen (right) on his “In Depth” program heard on Hubbard Radio’s WFED, Washington “Federal News Radio.” Rose tells TALKERS Koskinen discussed the IRS side of the Lois Lerner email controversy; the six different investigations focused on the agency; his experience testifying about the agency’s operations; the antiquated state of the agency’s information technology; how the pressure from Congress on Lerner, and other issues, is hurting taxpayers; and his trips to the 25 largest IRS locations outside DC.
Odds & Sods. After a summer stint hosting a radio show for SiriusXM, actress, author and comic Jenny McCarthy is signing with the satcaster to host a daily show on the service called, “Dirty, Sexy, Funny with Jenny McCarthy.” The program will debut this fall and air from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET…..Northwestern University football play-by-play voice Dave Eanet (and WGN, Chicago sports anchor) was honored at Saturday’s home opener as the radio booth at Ryan Field was officially named the Dave Eanet Broadcast Booth. Eanet has been the voice of Northwestern football (heard on WGN) since 1990…..Public radio outlet WUSF, Tampa wins five distinct journalism awards at the 2014 Society of Professional Journalists’ recent Sunshine State Awards. The station received recognition for best newscast, general coverage, feature reporting and public affairs. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, WUSF Public Media received a total of 26 state, regional and national journalism awards in 2014.
Bill Bennett Hosts Paul Ryan at Reagan Presidential Library. Nationally syndicated talk show host Bill Bennett (left) sits down with former protégé Paul Ryan for a Q&A at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California over the weekend. Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee and was touring to promote his book The Way Forward (Twelve 2014). Ryan worked for Bennett at the latter’s Washington think tank Empower America. Salem Radio Network says that Bennett and the late Jack Kemp inspired Ryan to run for a seat in Congress.
Fox News Radio’s Mike Majchrowitz Dies at 51. Condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Fox News Radio White House correspondent Mike Majchrowitz, who died at age 51 after a long battle with cancer. Fox News Radio VP Mitch Davis comments, “Mike was an original — a solidly tenacious reporter, a thoughtful anchor and a good man. He earned the respect of his colleagues for many things, not the least of which was his kindness. From our earliest days he helped Fox News Radio grow into what we are now. His voice was unique, as was his courage. Throughout his struggle, he remained positive and was an inspiration to us all. We will miss him.”
Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Race, ISIS Violence/Obama ‘No Strategy’ Comment, U.S. Strikes al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al Qaeda Jihad Threat, Russia’s Ukraine Aggression, and Michael Sam Cut/NFL Season to Open Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/1). The coming mid-term elections and the prospects for the 2016 presidential race, including talk of Mitt Romney running; the ongoing ISIS campaign in Iraq and President Obama’s statement the U.S. has “no strategy” regarding ISIS; U.S. drones strike al-Shabaab in Somalia; the threat by Al Qaeda of a jihad against America; Russia’s continuing aggression in Ukraine; and openly gay football player Michael Sam is cut by St. Louis as the NFL season opener to take place Thursday were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
ESPN Suspends Kellerman. There is yet more fallout related to the ugly domestic violence incident that led to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice‘s two-game ban for domestic violence. As we have already reported, ESPN suspended Stephen A. Smith for a week after the commentator suggested that women should be careful not to “provoke” domestic violence incidents. Smith labeled those comments the biggest mistake of his career and he apologized for making the inference. The network has now reportedly handed out a suspension to ESPN Los Angeles (KSPN) and “SportsNation” host Max Kellerman, who acknowledged hitting his girlfriend quite a few years ago. Kellerman was talking with Steve Mason & John Ireland, whose radio program precedes the one co-hosted by Kellerman and former NFL player Marcellus Wiley (“Max & Marcellus,” weekdays 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm). Kellerman was recollecting a college-era incident involving his then-girlfriend. She and Kellerman had been drinking and according to Kellerman, they slapped each other. Kellerman stressed that the two have been happily married (for roughly 20 years). In a statement ESPN released last Friday (8/8), the network would not confirm the suspension, but stated, “Max Kellerman will return to ESPN Los Angeles Radio and SportsNation on Thursday [8/14].” In addition to his ESPN duties, Kellerman is an HBO Sports boxing analyst. As you might recall, Rice and his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, were involved in a physical altercation with each other this past February. Rice was suspended by the NFL for violating its personal-conduct policy.
Cumulus Rumored to Be Eying Dan Snyder’s Red Zebra DC Properties. The story is reported by Dave Hughes’ DCRTV.com that Cumulus Media is interested in the four signals that make up the Red Zebra Washington, DC-area cluster, including WTEM, Washington; WSPZ, Bethesda, Maryland; WWXT-FM, Prince Frederick, Maryland; and WWXX, Buckland, Virginia. The station group has been on the block for a while and DCRTV.com speculates that Cumulus would like to get its country “NASH FM” format into the Washington metro.
Joe Pags to Be Interim ‘America Now’ Host. The 130 affiliates of Premiere Networks’ “America Now” program will be getting San Antonio-based talk personality Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo. Joe Pags tells TALKERS magazine that the syndicated program – which until recently featured Andy Dean as host – will carry his daily show based at WOAI and that is also heard on Clear Channel-owned stations KPRC, Houston; KEX, Portland; KHOW, Denver; and KTLK, Minneapolis, for the foreseeable future while a new host for the show is sought.
Saga Communications Reports Flat Q2. On 2014 second quarter operating revenue of $33.8 million, Saga Communications announces it was compared to the same period a year ago. Other figures reported include: operating income from continuing operations was $8.2 million; net income for the period was $4.8 million; and free cash flow was $5.9 million. Station operating expense was $23.5 million (station operating expense includes depreciation and amortization attributable to the stations). Net operating revenue for the period ended June 30, 2014 increased 0.7% to $63.3 million compared to $62.8 million for the same period last year.
WRHD, Greenville Flips to Sports Talk. Dropping the adult contemporary format for sports talk is Inner Banks Media-owned AC WRHD, Greenville, North Carolina “Star 94.3” which begins a new life as “94.3 The Game.” The station is using regional sports talk from Capitol Broadcasting’s Raleigh-Durham sports stations “ESPN Triangle” and Fox Sports Radio content. Morning drive features WDNC, Durham personalities Mike & Mark (Mike Maniscalco and Mark Thomas) and WCMC, Raleigh afternoon drivers Adam Gold and Joe Ovies. Middays include FSRN’s Andy Furman and Mike North followed by Jay Mohr. Evenings and weekends feature FSRN programming.
New Production Facility to Coincide with Kim Komando TV Show Evolution. As the Kim Komando program continues its evolution from a pure radio program to a combo radio/digital TV show, WestStar MultiMedia Entertainment announces it is procuring a new 24,000 square foot live facility in central Phoenix to be the new home of the company. WestStar president and CEO Barry Young says, “Over the past year, we have been experimenting with a live HD video production of the Kim Komando show. While we cannot envision any scenario whereby we would move away from our core product, radio, we also realize that the ‘core product’ is changing rapidly. Radio producers who rely on a ‘one-camera web-shot’ video product will be caught short of the new standard. For this reason, we believe that nothing less than a full digital HD video production, suitable to network and broadcast syndication, is appropriate for an established benchmark program such as the Kim Komando show. That level of production, together with future projects still under wraps, is not possible with anything less than a major-league production facility, such as the one we are building here in Phoenix.” The company says that the new facility (seen in the artist’s rendering here) will be fully operational by May of 2015 and will serve as the new home to WestStar Corporate Offices, broadcast, digital sales, entertainment, film operations, 24-hour network broadcast operations center and all online operations. The plant will incorporate five digital radio broadcast studios, two voice-over studios, two digital radio production rooms, three digital video production edit rooms, radio master control, television master control, a 2,500 square foot television sound stage and a high-security server hosting facility.
Setting Up WordPress and PodPress for a Podcast. Syndicated talk show host Michael W. Dean began his radio program as a podcast. He writes a brief column for TALKERS today (8/11) that introduces his philosophy of podcasting and provides a link to a step-by-step video that shows talk show producers how to navigate WordPress and the PodPress plugin to get their programs up and running. Check it out here.
Kenny Loggins Guests on ‘The Saturday Café’ on WABC, New York. Music icon Kenny Loggins was Laura Smith’s guest on WABC’s “Saturday Café” this past weekend. The show aired at 7:00 pm on Saturday during which Loggins talked about writing songs as a teen, touring the world with his new shows, and his passion for music. He also promoted his latest project – a new album with a country/rock trio called The Blue Sky Riders – that is being released through a Kickstarter campaign. Pictured here are Loggins (left) and Smith (right).
Los Angeles Radio Mourns George Nicholaw’s Passing. Owing to the fact that George Nicholaw was among a rare group of radio general managers who passionately and regularly delivered on-air editorials, listeners to Los Angeles all-news operation KNX were very familiar with his name and voice. The longtime Southern California broadcaster was 85 when he passed away this past Saturday (8/9). Nicholaw had been with CBS Radio-owned KNX for 36 years (1967-2003), including when the station adopted its all-news format in 1968. Exiting the station at the age of 74, he filed what proved to be an unsuccessful lawsuit against KNX ownership for age discrimination. Regarding Nicholaw, veteran KNX business anchor Frank Mottek commented, “He was a fine gentleman and a broadcast pioneer. He took an enormous amount of pride in journalism, and in excellence in broadcasting.” On his Facebook page, former KNX anchor Larry Van Nuys notes, “I am saddened by the passing of broadcasting giant George Nicholaw. While I can’t claim to have known him well, I can say it is a great loss to all of us who admired him. I, along with so many others, benefitted from his journalistic integrity, broadcasting courage and lasting legacy. He had talent, great understanding, and class.” Nicholaw died at his home after being hospitalized with an infection.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: Thom Hartmann, Multi-Platform Talk Show Host, Receives TALKERS Freedom of Speech Award. Today (7/25) marks the ninth consecutive business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. 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. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with part 4 of the event’s traditional “Talkers Awards Ceremony,” emceed by legendary Westwood One talk show host Jim Bohannon and featuring the presentation of the Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech to multi-platform progressive talk show host, Thom Hartmann. The presentation is made by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, who tells the audience that he personally and his organization [TALKERS magazine and Talk Media, Inc.] are “vehemently non-partisan,” however, also “vehemently supportive of the First Amendment.” Harrison says, “Doing talk radio is extremely dangerous. Exercising free speech is not only dangerous because, throughout most of history and in much of the world, you can be shut down by the government and thrown in jail – you can also be KILLED! People have been killed doing talk radio.” Thom Hartmann graciously accepted the award recounting a personal anecdote from an experience he had as an 18-year-old radio announcer dealing with and succumbing to police pressure to repress coverage of a local story that abridged his rights and duties as a broadcaster – a situation that he says he “regrets to this day” but inspired him to champion the First Amendment. Hartmann says, “Because of the presence of talk radio in our nation over the past 20 years or so, we have found our voice to talk back to authority.” To view this entire presentation, please click here. Coming Monday: A special address titled “Radio in the Digital Age” by Inside Music Media publisher Jerry Del Colliano. The Talkers New York 2014 conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Beasley Q2 Revenue Down 3.6%. This morning’s release of Beasley Broadcasting Group’s 2014 Q2 financials conforms to many experts’ conclusions about the second quarter of the year: Ad spending in radio was down across the country. BBGI reports the net revenue figure of $25.9 million for the 2nd quarter of 2014 (compared to $26.9 million during the same period in 2013) “primarily reflects lower advertising revenue at the company’s Philadelphia, Wilmington and Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville market clusters. The decline in net revenue was partially offset by $0.7 million in other revenue, resulting from an agreement with an electronics company and its affiliate concerning the use of our and their respective logos.” Chairman and CEO George Beasley comments, “Second quarter revenue levels reflect slower advertising spending across most markets where we operate which led to declines in seven of our eleven markets and lower station operating income. Overall, we outperformed in our five market clusters that report to Miller Kaplan. In these markets, which accounted for approximately 78% of total second quarter revenue, Beasley station cluster revenue declined 5.2%, compared with the total revenue for all reporting radio stations in these markets which were down 6.0% for the quarter. Our year-over-year revenue decline is partially attributable to difficult comparisons with 2013 second quarter results when we generated double-digit revenue gains in markets including Philadelphia and Las Vegas. However, our initiatives to expand our digital offerings are delivering results as we recorded an approximate 24% rise in digital revenue during the quarter. Notwithstanding the challenges faced in the second quarter, our market positions remain healthy based on our organization-wide focus on strong core programming and targeted localism. This focus is vital to the company’s ratings strength and long-term success.”
WEEI-FM, Boston’s Dennis & Callahan Show to Lose NESN Simulcast. According to a report by Chad Finn in the Boston Globe, when the contract between regional sports cable network NESN and Entercom’s WEEI, Boston to simulcast the morning drive Dennis & Callahan show ends in September, the cable network will not renew its deal. Finn reports that sources say the non-renewal has nothing to do with cast member Kirk Minihane’s recent high profile criticism of Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews’ performance on the MLB All-Star Game broadcast. The story notes that John Dennis and Gerry Callahan’s contracts with WEEI are also up around the same time and that negotiations are ongoing. The simulcast has been ongoing since November of 2010 and the report indicates NESN is considering doing more local programming with its own talent in the morning drive daypart. Read Finn’s piece here.
Townsquare Media IPO Raises $91 Million. It’s hard to judge the IPO of a radio and digital media company that’s so young in corporate terms, but the sale of 8.3 million shares of class A stock made the company a little more than $91 million – short of the $125 million the company was hoping to raise. Some analysts are noting that the IPO price was not in the low teens dollar figure the company had hoped for and even the $11 share price was a bit too high as the sale didn’t take off until the price dropped to $10.74. Still, the offering results in a cash infusion for Townsquare Media. Only time will tell if Townsquare’s plan to build revenue with small and medium market radio stations augmented by its stable of digital publications will pay off for investors and the company.
Odds & Sods. With the demise of Oskie Media-owned sports talker WVLZ, Knoxville “Tennessee Sports Radio” on July 29 (a new format will replace the sports talk), it will be the end for most of the shows currently heard on the station. But Jayson Swain’s “The Swain Event” show will live on at Blount Broadcasting’s country WKVL, Knoxville airing from 7:00 am to 10:00 am beginning September 1. According to a story in the Knoxville News, Swain’s on-air producer Seth Stokes will remain with the show and regular contributors (and, like Swain, former Tennessee Volunteers football stars) Jamal Lewis and Leonard Little will also continue to be part of the show…..David Singer is leaving his executive producer position at ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles “ESPN Los Angeles 710” to join the NFL Network in a talent booker role.
‘Talk 1300’ Albany’s Paul Vandenburgh Wins ‘Best of’ Honor. The annual “Best of” edition of the Capital Region’s alternative weekly Metroland is out and WGDJ, Albany “Talk 1300” owner, GM and morning drive host Paul Vandenburgh takes ‘Best Radio Talk Show’ honors. The paper says, “Yes, we all enjoy his rages, but you can learn a lot about the ins-and-outs of local politics from Vandenburgh and his guests.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia adds the nightly edition of “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge. Also, the program is added to the program schedules at KBYR, Anchorage and WLWI, Montgomery…..The Pam Oakes-hosted “Car Care for the Clueless: Daily Edition” feature is added to the programming at KCAA, Loma Linda, California and WOMI, Owensboro, Kentucky.
On Remote in Downtown Tucson. Program director and morning show host Bill White (left) interview’s Fred Ronstadt (right) – yes, Linda Ronstadt’s brother – during a remote broadcast of “Tucson’s Morning News.” The live event was designed to promote the grand opening of Tucson’s Modern Streetcar which local businessman Ronstadt helped build.
Gaza Strip Violence Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of July 21-25. The escalating violence in the Gaza strip and Secretary of State John Kerry’s role in brokering peace between Israel and Hamas was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. Following at #2 was the downing of Flight 17 and Russia’s role in supplying weaponry to the Ukraine rebels. At #3 was the child illegal alien crisis in the Southwest followed by the two recent ObamaCare court rulings 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. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Pioneering Talk Radio Host Gene Burns Dead at 72. Longtime talk radio host and broadcasting pioneer Gene Burns has died, succumbing to a long illness marked by a series of strokes. In the words of TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison, “Gene was one of the greatest of the great and classiest of the classy – a true ‘wordsmith’ and gentleman who symbolized everything good about talk radio and served as one of the major engines that drove the ascent of its modern era.” Until recently forced by illness into retirement from on-air performing, Burns had spent a decade and a half as a key host on KGO, San Francisco where he did a general news/talk program as well as a very popular restaurant and entertainment show. The veteran of a number of great stations, he made his mark in the late-1980s and early-1990s as a member of the legendary lineup at WRKO, Boston that also included the late Jerry Williams. That was followed by a brief but high-profile stint at WOR, New York and national syndication on the WOR Radio Network. Harrison adds, “Gene Burns practiced a brand of libertarian-based, intellectual populism in his approach to political news/talk that set the standard for the format’s emergence as a voice for the average person to stand up to big government, big business, big media and big anything. Although ‘conservative’ in his orientation, he eschewed blatant partisanship, avoided banal cookie-cutter left-versus-right talking points and dealt with each issue in an academically probing and credible manner.” Burns’ ground breaking work in the early-1990s stood as the inspiration for TALKERS magazine’s annual Freedom of Speech Award and the tradition of the annual State of the First Amendment Address delivered at the publication’s conventions. He is ranked the 23rd most important radio talk show host of all time by TALKERS in its “Heaviest Hundred” feature which is updated twice a decade. Harrison concludes, “His rich, baritone voice coupled with the artistry of his word selection and ability to construct a logical argument was about as close to music as one could hear within a spoken word context.” A special honoring the life and work of Gene Burns aired on Sunday, May 26 on KGO hosted by David Weintraub and a special tribute will be presented honoring his legacy at Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6.
Adult Contemporary is a Relatively Low-Involvement Format on Facebook. According to digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, “There are several major-market adult contemporary stations on Facebook who have a ton of followers, but very little interaction going on. As a former AC programmer, I absolutely feel their pain; AC is a low-involvement format. At the same time, most of these stations have fallen into a rut about what they post. The quality of the post is in the level of engagement you get from it. When thousands or tens of thousands follow you, and you get two or three ‘Likes’ on your posts, you gotta shake up your thinking.” In a new column posted today (5/28) Miller suggests that although consistency is basically a good and necessary thing, there is a dark side to it and to avoid falling into a rut, radio broadcasters of all formats should make changes to approximately 10% of their posts on a regular basis. To read the details and Miller’s entire piece, click here.
Kent Sterling Returns to Indy on Sports Talk WFNI. News/talk and sports radio pro Kent Sterling re-surfaces on the air at Emmis’ sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis for a weekend program with Chris Hagan called, “Ahead of the Curve with Hagan and Sterling.” He most recently served with Bonneville at its St. Louis sports talker WXOS but exited that post to return to Indianapolis. Prior to his work at WXOS, Sterling served as program director at Emmis’ news/talk flagship WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. Sterling’s and Hagan’s weekend program airs from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays.
NBA on Radio Is a Different Breed of Sports Play-by-Play. Major League Baseball is the sport that could be called radio’s best friend and the NFL’s astounding popularity makes its games and surrounding programming popular with listeners. While the NBA’s regular season games are not generally thought of as “programming gold” across the country, it appears that having even a moderately successful team combined with a flagship station with a strong nighttime signal, can be a recipe for success with basketball play-by-play. According to information from Arbitron based on PPM data from 27 NBA teams in 25 PPM markets, certain places are simply basketball towns – the Los Angeles Lakers rule Los Angeles on KSPN with average game estimates larger than the Dodgers, Angels, Kings and Ducks grabbing a 4.0 share with Men 25-54 (average of all 82 games). And perennial contenders the San Antonio Spurs dominated on WOAI with a 9.8 share with Men 25-54. However, less successful teams on strong flagships performed well during the regular season: the Milwaukee Bucks just squeaked into the playoffs but on heritage WTMJ garnered a 10 share with Men 25-54; the Cleveland Cavaliers missed the playoffs yet grabbed a 9.7 share (M 25-54) on WTAM; and the Detroit Pistons also missed the playoffs but notched an 8.0 (M 25-54) share on the highly rated WXYT-FM. Considering games in the East and Midwest air in the evenings, numbers for the stations cited above – and others not cited here – are impressive nighttime ratings.
Flagship Stations Should Capitalize on Cross-Promotional Opportunities within Baseball PBP. According to Bonneville Seattle creative director Chris Pendl, “If you’ve made the investment on play-by-play sports on your station, it’s important to maximize the return on your investment by trying to recycle that audience to another daypart on your station.” Arbitron reports that MLB drives cume increases as much as 50% to 65% during baseball season. Pendl tells TALKERS, “This influx of audience is one of the reasons we pay rights fees, share revenue, or give up inventory to carry this programming. In a climate with little or no external marketing dollars, I’ve often joked that our promotional time within baseball play-by-play is the closest thing we’ll get to an interstate billboard or TV campaign.” In an exclusive article posted today (5/28) Pendl describes and shares a production/promo technique conducted by Bonneville to cross-promote the station via the baseball audience that he calls “situation baseball return liners.” To read the entire piece and hear examples of its execution, click here.
Buckley to Sell KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. Buckley Communications announces it is selling sports talk KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. The price is yet to be announced. KYZZ is the FM side of the sports talk simulcast that also airs on Buckley’s KIDD, Monterey and Buckley says it will continue with its ESPN Radio affiliation on KIDD. Mt. Wilson has not announced its format plans for KYZZ. Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson also owns country KKGO, Los Angeles and classical simulcast KMZT-AM, Beverly Hills and KMZT-FM, Big Sur, California.
WTOP Hacking: Why You Should Worry. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes about the recent hacking of the websites of Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED “Federal News Radio.” Weisman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on scams, he operates the website Scamicide that presents up-to-date information about scams, fraud and identity theft, and is the author of The Truth About Avoiding Scams (FT Press 2008). In this column, Weisman explains the methods used by the WTOP hackers and explains the steps users can take to avoid becoming the victim of similar attacks. Read Weisman’s entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Martz Communications’ WPDM, Potsdam, New York flips from a simulcast of FM sister WSNN to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network…..Wilks License Company’s sports talk WZOH, Columbus becomes part of the Cleveland Browns radio network based at CBS Radio’s WKRK, Cleveland…..WTOP, Washington crowns Nathan Stanford from Harrington, Delaware the 2013 winner of “Commuter Idle” – an “extreme commuter” competition for listeners experiencing the daily horrors of commuting in and around Washington. Stanford’s commute begins with a 3:00 am alarm and a one-hour drive. He then boards a commuter bus for a 90-minute ride from Kent Island to Foggy Bottom, rides the Metro, and hustles on foot to his office in Rosslyn. Stanford’s travels from Delaware to Virginia average more than five hours a day, though the commute can be much longer in the summer months with Friday beach traffic. He receives $1,000 in gas money and will enjoy a limo ride to and from work from Reston Limousine. WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “The question that we hear most often is, ‘Why do these people do it?’ It’s fascinating to hear their personal stories and accompany them on their crazy commutes. We feel their pain, and as DC’s traffic authority we’re here to help.”
KOIL, Omaha’s Mulberry Lane Meets the Beach Boys and John Stamos. Musical act Mulberry Lane opened for the Beach Boys (which includes actor and musician John Stamos) in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday, May 25. Pictured here are (from l-r): Bo Mulberry, Bruce Johnston, Rachel Mulberry, Mike Love, Allie Mulberry, and John Stamos. The Mulberry sisters – based in Nebraska – also host a weekend talk show on NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha called the “Mulberry Lane Radio Show.” The station describes the ladies’ program saying the sisters “decided to bring their busy lives to live radio with a show based on sisterhood, womanhood, motherhood, and the humor and mishaps of trying to juggle it all – woven together with music, harmony and a dash of wit.” It airs Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
Longtime KNX, Los Angeles Anchor Harry Birrell Dies. Longtime Los Angeles news personality Harry Birrell died on May 26 after a battle with lung disease at age 85 in Thousand Oaks, California. Birrell was an anchor at all-news KNX, Los Angeles for more than three decades – beginning in 1968 when the station flipped to the all-news format and ending with his retirement in 1999. Birrell switched from his anchor role at the station to Ventura County correspondent in 1993.
Kevin Miller Stops By TheBlaze. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller was visiting Dallas – home of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze – and took some time to stop by the studios to check out the production of the Glenn Beck program. Here’s a shot of Beck (l) and Miller (r) inside the spacious former movie/TV studios that are home to Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts production facility.
Interviewing the Commander in Chief. WYD Media nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish is interviewing President Barack Obama today at 12:00 noon ET for the seventh time and the fourth time since he took office in 2009. He will be given 15 minutes with the president. Today’s interview will be broadcast on the Michael Smerconish program this afternoon at 1:00 pm ET. Getting an interview with the chief executive, even by phone, is a major deal on radio but Smerconish is one of the few radio personalities to have the privilege to do a no-holds-barred discussion with the president about the issues in a rare sit-down session actually in the Oval Office. In an exclusive interview with Smerconish conducted this morning at 9:00 am ET, TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison speaks with the host about his mindset, the state of partisan news/talk radio, and about what goes into preparing for a discussion with the commander-in-chief. Listen to their conversation here. (If you are on a mobile device – please click here).
To hear Michael Smerconish’s interview with President Obama, click below.
WQXI, Atlanta Promotes Keith Allen to APD. The Lincoln Financial Media sports talk outlet announces “Mayhem in the AM” producer Keith Allen is adding the assistant program director duties to his responsibilities. He’ll continue to produce the morning show. Program director Bob Richards states, “Keith has produced the biggest brands in the market. He understands our target demo and is one of the key factors in making ‘Mayhem in the AM’ the top-rated sports talk show in Atlanta over the past year. Keith’s appointment to this position is one of many exciting changes taking place at ‘790 The Zone.’” Allen came to WQXI three years ago. Previously he served as producer at sports talk WBNS, Columbus.
WGN, Chicago’s Dean Richards Hosts 16th Annual Breast Cancer Special. This will be the 16th year WGN, Chicago’s Dean Richards has hosted the multi award-winning breast cancer special. It takes place Sunday from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and is presented by Walgreens. WGN states, “The live, three-hour town hall meeting examines where we are in the fight against breast cancer featuring a panel of the nation’s leading medical experts, moving survivor stories, resources for cancer patients, the latest research and more. Special guests include: breast cancer survivor and actress Maura Tierney; Dr. Kathy Albain, medical oncologist, Loyola University Medical Center; Dr. Claudia Perez, assistant professor surgery, surgical oncology, Loyola University Medical Center; Deborah Cornwall, author of the new book, Things I Wish I’d Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out; and LauraJane Hyde, chief executive officer of Gilda’s Club Chicago.
Get Well Wishes to WIBA, Madison’s Mitch Henck. Morning talk show host Mitch Henck is off the air at Clear Channel’s news/talk WIBA, Madison this week after suffering a mild stroke early Monday morning. The Wisconsin State Journal reports co-workers held a get-well-Mitch discussion on the radio this week and news director Robin Colbert said, “”He’s in the hospital, but he is recovering and getting stronger and better every day.” Henck hosts the 8:00 am to 11:00 am show on WIBA.
Al Gore’s Current TV on the Block. The New York Post reports the cable channel owned by former Vice President Al Gore, CEO Joel Hyatt and other private investors is up for sale. Hyatt tells the Post, “Current has been approached many times by media companies interested in acquiring our company. This year alone, we have had three inquiries. As a consequence, we thought it might be useful to engage expertise to help us evaluate our strategic options.” The story notes Current TV is interviewing investment banks but has yet to launch a formal sales process. The Post reports ad revenue for 2011 for the cable channel was estimated at $16.9 million. It is available in approximately 60 million homes.
Dave Ramsey Delivers in Denver. Nationally syndicated financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey recently presented his brand new, intimate “Living a Legacy Live” event in Denver to a record crowd. This presentation centers on “how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence.” Speaker and author Jon Acuff joined Ramsey on stage. Local stations KLZ, Denver and KRDO, Colorado Springs benefitted from Ramsey’s appearance in the region. KLZ station manager Mike Triem states, “The listeners of ‘560 The Source’ get to learn daily from Dave and they set aside that time each day and week to grow their knowledge about finances and about life. The ‘Living a Legacy’ event gives our listeners the opportunity to learn from Dave ‘live.’ These listeners will be able to establish a lasting legacy for their children and what their friends and co-workers will ‘take away’ from knowing them.” Pictured above are (from l-r): KLZ’s Mike Triem, Dave Ramsey, KRDO program director Mike Lewis, and Jon Acuff.
Welcoming the Candidates to Nevada. KDWN, Las Vegas morning drive talk show host Alan Stock is pictured here with Governor Mitt Romney backstage at the Henderson Pavilion in Henderson, Nevada. Stock was invited to welcome the crowd for the Romney/Ryan Rally in Henderson where some 8,000 supporters gathered. KDWN program director John Shaffer says, “It’s always great to have your station and its talk personalities involved in the local community, but to have one be asked to participate in an event of this magnitude, makes me realize the integral role KDWN plays in Las Vegas.” Stock was elated at the opportunity to welcome the candidates to Nevada, saying, “It was an incredible experience to be part of an historic event like this, to be in the presence of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and to feel the energy of the crowd that came out to support them.”
Odds & Sods. Drew Belzer exits ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles where he’d been serving as a reporter/anchor and host after nine years with the station…..CBS Radio’s sports talk WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia inks a deal with Villanova University to carry play-by-play of the school’s men’s basketball and football that begins with the 2012-13 basketball season. Games and special Villanova basketball and football talk shows will air on WIP’s AM 610 signal…..The Washington Post reports CBS Radio’s WJFK, Washington “106.7 The Fan” and Hubbard’s WFED, Washington “Federal News Radio” will share carriage of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards. Both teams’ games will air on both stations unless there’s a conflict, then the Capitals will air on WJFK and the Wizards will air on WFED…..A1R Psychic Radio earns a “special thanks” credit from the executive producer of NBC/Universal’s “Trisha Goddard Show” for its help contributing to the Halloween edition of the show dealing with psychics and mediums.
Washington Programmer and Personality Bernie McCain Mourned. Bernie McCain was the first program director of Radio One’s WOL, Washington when it flipped to a talk format. He also served as a personality on the station. He came to WOL from crosstown WWRC. McCain died of kidney failure on October 13 at the age of 75.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The WYD Media-produced and Dial Global-distributed Michael Smerconish program is added to the schedule at KGY, Seattle…..Premiere Networks’ “America Now with Andy Dean” is added to the program schedule at Cox Media’s WDBO, Orlando. Other stations adding Dean include: KLFE, Seattle; WPGB, Pittsburgh; KFAB, Omaha; WELI, New Haven; and WSCC, Charleston, South Carolina…..Dial Global‘s’ “Jill on Money” with Jill Schlesinger is picked up by KJRB, Spokane and KNEZ, Reno…..WGDJ, Albany adds Cumulus Media Networks’ Michael Savage to the program schedule…..Mass Wave Media Group’s “Scott and Tim” overnight talk show featuring Scott Chambers and Tim Sutton is added to the program lineup at WTDR, Talladega, Alabama and WGAD, Gadsden, Alabama…..KIVA, Albuquerque adds the “Out Loud Minute” by talk personality Malcolm Out Loud.
Presidential Race Polls Top Talkers TenTM for Week of October 22-26. Talk of the numerous polls tallying support for the presidential candidates was the #1 story on news/talk radio this week, according to TALKERS. The second most-talked-about story was the Benghazi attack controversy. Coming in third was the aftermath of the presidential debates and at #4 was the Mourdock rape comments. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. View this week’s entire chart here.
ESPN O&O WEPN-AM/FM, New York Separate Sports Talk Programming. English-language sports talk is now heard only on the FM at ESPN O&O WEPN in New York as the sports media giant took the AM side Spanish with the debut of ESPN Deportes Radio Nueva York 1050 on Friday, just in time to broadcast the New York Jets season opener victory over division rival Buffalo in Spanish. Station GM David Roberts says, “We are thrilled to add the New York Jets to our solid roster of play-by-play offerings just in time for our launch. There is tremendous passion for the NFL among the Hispanic community of New York, and this alliance with an elite franchise will further position 1050 AM as the Spanish-language audio destination for the Hispanic sports fan in New York.” The station debuts two local sports talk shows today. The first is “Firma ESPN” from 7:00 am to 10:00 am billed as the only radio program devoted to the New York Hispanic sports fan. It is hosted by ESPN Deportes Radio veteran Renato Bermudez alongside the renowned Ernesto Jerez, the “signature Spanish-language voice of MLB,” plus Jorge Ebro and many other ESPN Deportes Radio experts. The second program is “Zona ESPN NY,” airing from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and hosted by Carolina Guillen, Sebastian Christensen, along with Enrique Rojas.
Talk Host Ian Punnett Suffering from Tinnitus; Cuts Back On-Air Hours. Hubbard Radio morning drive talk host Ian Punnett is cutting his hours on the radio by half in order to curb his exposure to audio that aggravates his tinnitus – a condition he’s been dealing with since 2009. The Pioneer Press reports Punnett, who co-hosts the morning drive show on KTMY, Minneapolis with his wife Margery, joins her on the air from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. Margery starts the program at 5:30 with Elizabeth Ries and wraps it up at 10:00 am. Punnett tells the Pioneer Press he first noticed the intense ringing in his head during a remote broadcast in 2009. “It never goes away. It’s the last sound I hear at night, it’s the first sound I hear in the morning. It often wakes me up in the middle of the night.” The story notes Punnett and his doctors have decided cutting back on his air time is part of a more aggressive treatment for the condition.
Host Shuffle at ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles. 710 ESPN Los Angeles flips its midday and PM drive shows moving Steve Mason and John Ireland to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm shift beginning today. Midday duo Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley go to the PM drive slot. The changes also include the debut of the late morning “ESPNLA Now” show airing from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and hosted by Mark Willard.
Good Karma’s WKNR, Cleveland Hit with $4k Fine for Contest Violation. The FCC is hitting Good Karma’s sports talk WKNR, Cleveland with a $4,000 forfeiture order for running what it called a “bogus” contest called “Who Said That?” from November 2007 until September 2009. The contest involved callers having to identify the speaker of a clip played over the air. The complainant asserted that the station originally talked about offering prizes and then “dropped talking about prizes.” Good Karma tried to argue that the programming in question was not a contest but was more accurately characterized as a program. But the commission ruled that the stations did conduct a contest and didn’t “fully and accurately” and “with sufficient frequency” list the prizes that a contestant could possibly win.
Rare Opportunities at Federated Media’s WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne. Jon Zimney tells TALKERS magazine that there are two tremendous opportunities at Federated Media’s heritage news/talk WOWO, Fort Wayne. After the departure of OM and PM drive host Gregg Henson in August, Woody Zimmerman was named PD for the station. But he’s now been re-assigned to general manager of the company’s Warsaw, Indiana cluster. In the interim, Zimney, who serves as program director and news director at Federated’s WTRC, South Bend – 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel – is doing double duty programming both stations. Additionally, WTRC morning host Casey Hendrickson is handling the PM drive duties at WOWO. Federated Media is looking for two individuals to fill the PD and talk host positions at WOWO. For the program director position, Zimney is looking for someone who can get the most out of talented talk show hosts and make them even better; has a strong understanding of local news and solid station programming; understands great news writing, presentation, and on-air execution; has a strong sense of news ethics and integrity; embraces and champions new technology in news (web, text, social media, video, etc); has examples of really good marketing, promotion and community involvement projects that they’ve conceived and executed. For the talk host position, they are looking for “a personality who is well-rounded in politics, social issues and recognizes compelling stories that generate talk. The ideal host is entertaining, informative and creative…can debate with listeners and guests in a spirited, but respectful manner, follows news like a hawk, expresses passion about local issues as well as national issues and also recognizes how everyday life can contribute to a show that is unique and compliments our winning lineup of Beck, Rush and Sean.” To apply for either position, e-mail materials to Jon Zimney at: email@example.com.
Fox Sports Radio’s Petros & Money End Summer with “Deep V & Capri” Remote Bash. Fox Sports Radio Network’s Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith broadcast live from the Hooters restaurant in Anaheim last week for their end-of-summer bash dubbed the “deep V & capri” party. Papadakis (l) and Smith (r) are pictured here with a couple of listeners sporting their deep v t-shirts and capri pants at the event.
CBS Radio Philadelphia Partners with Clean Air Council for Greenfest Philly. CBS Radio’s four Philadelphia stations took part in yesterday’s “Greenfest Philly” at Headhouse Square in Philadelphia for the 7th annual event designed to promote sustainable living. All-news KYW, sports WIP-AM/FM, news/talk WPHT and classic hits WOGL all broadcast live from the event that showcased businesses, regional green innovators, and non-profits of all sizes with strong commitments to sustainability.
Spoken-Word Content Aggregator Stitcher Offers Offline Mode. Stating that 38% of its users indicated they prefer to listen to the service offline to protect against mobile data overages, Stitcher released an offline mode update that enables anytime, anywhere listening for its iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad apps. “Listeners can now seamlessly access and discover the best of over 10,000 shows at work, at the gym, anywhere, regardless of cellular or WiFi connectivity,” the company states. CEO Noah Shanok says, “Our goal is to make on-demand radio more accessible than ever. Our most requested feature, offline mode, solves the biggest obstacle to listening on the go or when users would prefer to use Wi-Fi and conserve mobile data usage.” Stitcher bills itself as “the mobile leader in on-demand news, entertainment, sports and talk radio.”
Let Your News/Talk Flow. WLAC, Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill is pictured here with the Bellamy Brothers at his studios in Nashville. The legendary country duo stopped by the show to play some songs from their latest release, including the title track, “Pray for Me.”