Schnitt vs Bubba Trial Delayed for One Day After Schnitt’s Attorney Arrested for DUI. It’s a rather bizarre twist in what is a high-profile case in Tampa. The judge in the case granted a one-day delay in the trial after Charles Philip Campbell, Jr. was taken into custody Wednesday evening on suspicion of DUI. He refused to take a blood alcohol test and was released on $500 bond. The trial will resume today as nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt is suing Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) for defamation. Schnitt spent most of two days on the witness stand Tuesday and Wednesday. Clem’s attorney tried to score a few public sympathy points telling Fox 13 Tampa, “I’m shocked that the case was continued. I feel horrible for this jury that has been sequestered and pulled from their jobs, their lives and their families.” He told the TV station he didn’t understand why Schnitt’s other attorneys couldn’t handle the case.
KFI, Los Angeles Adds J.R. Martinez for Sunday Evening Program. The “Dancing with the Stars” champ, best-selling author and retired U.S. Army soldier begins his permanent role as host of the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm Sunday program on Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles this Sunday. J.R. Martinez was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and, shortly after arriving, his Humvee hit a roadside bomb that trapped him inside the burning vehicle. He suffered severe burns over 34% of his body and spent 34 months at Brooke Army Medical Center recovering. In October of 2012 he published Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit (Hyperion 2012) that became a New York Times best-seller. KFI program director Robin Bertolucci says, “He’s so inspirational and dynamic. He filled in for Bill Carroll during the holidays and I just had to have him join our line up! I’m thrilled he jumped at the opportunity and I’m excited to see what he will do with his own show.” Martinez replaces the David Cruz program. Cruz is concentrating on his four-hour daily program on sister progressive talk station KTLK.
WCNN, Atlanta Goes Local in Late Mornings. Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talker WCNN, Atlanta “Sports Radio 680 The Fan” is adding the new local show “The Front Row” for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart. The show stars Ray Mariner, Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran (pictured here from left to right). Golden and Finneran are also part of the “Rude Awakening” AM drive show (which will be trimmed by an hour to a 9:00 am stop beginning Monday). Mariner was co-host of the morning show on Lincoln Financial Media’s crosstown CHR WSTR “Star 94” until he exited that post back in May of 2012. The show replaces Fox Sports Radio/DirecTV’s Dan Patrick program.
Are You Ready for Some Baseball? Okay, so much of the country is in Super Bowl mode right now, but radio consultant Holland Cooke reports to TALKERS that with so many news/talk stations (as well as sports talk signals) carrying MLB play-by-play in their markets, now’s a good time to begin preparing to take advantage of those expensive rights. Cooke writes about ways to take ownership of the play-by-play beginning during spring training. Once the season starts, use brief promotional slots – like top-of-the-hour IDs – to promote the next game. Check out more on this in Holland Cooke’s Friday piece here.
Boomer Esiason Tackles TV and Radio on Super Bowl Sunday; Dial Global Handles Exclusive Radio Coverage. The NFL’s Super Bowl is usually the biggest TV event of the year but for the millions of Americans who can’t be near a TV, Dial Global’s exclusive radio play-by-play delivers the game. This year, Boomer Esiason and Kevin Harlan will be in the booth calling the game for Dial Global. But Boomer is also a CBS Sports employee (in addition to his AM drive work on WFAN, New York) and he’ll be on CBS TV as part of the pre-game show and the halftime broadcast. After he finishes the pre-game show from the field, he’ll move upstairs to the radio booth to call the game with Harlan. Talk about a busy day for Boomer! Dial Global’s coverage of the event also includes such experienced talent as James Lofton, Mark Malone, Jim Gray and Scott Graham. Joining Jim Gray for pre-game and halftime programming are NFL stars Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald. Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson will also be part of the extended pre-game program.
WFVA, Fredericksburg, Virginia Returns to News/Talk on Monday. After two years as an adult standards-formatted station, Centennial Broadcasting’s WFVA, Fredericksburg returns to airing a news/talk format using largely syndicated talent. The program schedule will include: Cumulus Media Networks’ Don Imus, Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin and Michael Savage as well as Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck. Ten year WFVA veteran Ted Schubel will continue as the station’s news director and will also host a one-hour local program titled, “Town Talk With Ted,” airing weekdays at 8:00 am. The show will introduce listeners to local businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence the Fredericksburg region. Centennial Fredericksburg market manager Tom Hamilton says, “It has been nearly two full years since WFVA changed from a news/talk station to adult standards format. During that time, we have paid attention to what our listeners have said. Overwhelmingly, they told us they wanted news/talk back on WFVA. By providing many of the most-listened-to talk show hosts in the nation, along with community involvement, local news and public affairs programming, we will better serve our listeners, our local businesses and our community.”
KFNX, Phoenix Adds New Syndicated Programming. Genesis Communications Network’s Alex Jones is part of the new lineup at Francis Battaglia-owned KFNX, Phoenix where he airs in the overnight time slot. Also added to the station’s program schedule is Dial Global and Cox Media’s Herman Cain from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; Dial Global’s Dennis Miller from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon; and Cumulus Media Networks’ Michael Savage who returns to the station to air in the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot.
Obama Second Term Agenda Top News/Talk Story During Week of January 21-25. The second term agenda of President Obama as outlined in his Inauguration Day speech was the top story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 this week was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony. At #3 was the battle in Washington over reducing the deficit and at #4 was the North Korea nuclear threat. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America and is based on ongoing research from TALKERS. View this week’s entire chart here.
Phil Boyce Takes on Operations Role at Salem Communications’ New York Cluster. Talk radio programming pro Phil Boyce already serves as VP/director of spoken word format for Salem Communications but he’s adding the operational vice president for the New York cluster title to his business card. That means he’s directly in charge of operations for WNYM “970 The Answer” and Christian talk outlet WMCA. Salem Communications president David Santrella says, “Phil’s innate understanding of the New York market, particularly as it relates to news/talk, as well as his day-to-day proximity to the operation, has led us to the decision to ask Phil to take on the additional role of operational VP for the New York cluster. Phil will continue to work with all of our stations as VP director, spoken word format.” Program director Peter Thiele remains in his position as Boyce’s charge is to oversee the station’s revenue and assist all departments in that effort. Other changes from Salem Communications include Salem regional VP Linnae Young, who has overseen the New York cluster, taking on the oversight of the Tampa cluster that includes news/talk WGUL, Christian talk WTBN, and news/talk WLSS, Sarasota. In Louisville, Salem regional VP Mike Moran will assume oversight of news/talk WGTK, and Christian talk WFIA-AM/FM.
Mike Gastineau to Exit KJR, Seattle. Longtime sports talker Mike “Gasman” Gastineau announces he’ll leave Clear Channel’s sports KJR, Seattle where he currently hosts the PM drive show with co-host Elise. Gastineau has been with KJR since 1991 and was originally partnered with Rick DuPree in middays. He’s been in the midday slot for the past 19 years. In a statement explaining his departure, Gastineau says, “Since 1991 I have hosted more than 5,000 shows on KJR and I’ve reached a point where I’d like to explore other creative options. KJR’s management has been incredibly understanding and supportive of my decision. I’m proud to have been able to give Seattle fans a voice in these incredibly important debates. I always strived to do three things on the show – be funny, entertaining and give people a place for reasonable debate on sports issues of the day.” His last show is tomorrow (12/6) and KJR has not announced plans for the PM drive slot as of yet.
Robin Bertolucci Honored at PIRATES Event. KFI and KTLK, Los Angeles program director Robin Bertolucci was honored at the holiday fundraiser of the Print Interactive Radio and Television Educational Society (PIRATES) at the Castaway Restaurant in Burbank, California. The PIRATES’ “Golden Buccaneer” award is given annually and was awarded to Bertolucci in recognition “of her remarkable ongoing commitment to public affairs, the community and education as one of the media’s most outstanding role models for students.” This annual holiday fundraiser benefits the Ruth Collander Endowment Fund which enables PIRATES to provide scholarships to college students majoring in communications, journalism, radio or television. Pictured above (from l-r) are: Brent Seltzer (Still at Large) who emceed the event, KOST 103.5 program director Stella Prado, Bertolucci and KFI director of marketing/brand manager Neil Saavedra.
Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Partners with Production Companies for Competition Reality Show. The name of the series is “Pursuit of the Truth” and the goal of the show is to bring together 20 selected filmmakers from across the country to prove to a panel of expert judges that their project is worthy of the grand prize – financing and worldwide distribution for their feature documentary film idea. Go Go Luckey Entertainment and Wild West Productions are working with TheBlaze on the project. The 20 contestants will be asked to perform a series of tasks during the 10-week production period for the panel of expert judges. Contestants will be asked to not only prove the validity of their idea for a documentary but also their filmmaking abilities. They will either survive or be eliminated based on that criteria. For example, contestants might be asked to produce a sizzle reel, procure and execute a key interview, or pitch scenes to the panel of judges. TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood says, “We are excited to continue to expand our programming with producers like Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsley and Gary Auerbach. The documentary film, particularly those that seek the truth with no agenda, is an important art form that is struggling to survive in this media environment. We will be looking for stories that simply need to be told.” The nine-episode series debuts on TheBlaze in late spring 2013.
WMMS, Cleveland Dismisses PM Drive Co-Host Chad Zumock. The rock station’s Alan Cox afternoon drive talk program is without air talent Chad Zumock after the 38-year-old comedian and radio co-host was arrested following a recent incident in which he crashed his car into a tree while returning home from a gig at a local comedy club. Zumock refused a breath test but authorities are charging him with DUI. According to Cleveland.com, the incident violates a clause in Zumock’s contract with Clear Channel and host Alan Cox addressed Zumock’s dismissal on the program on Tuesday, December 4.
WTAG, Worcester Morning Host Jim Polito Exits for Boston TV Gig. Jim Polito returns to his television roots beginning December 10 as he’ll handle commentary for Fox TV O&O WFXT, Boston’s evening newscasts. Polito left WGGB-TV, Springfield, Massachusetts in 2008 to join Clear Channel’s WTAG, Worcester for the morning drive program. No word from Clear Channel what its plans for the morning show are.
Branson, Missouri Gets FM Talk Station as Earls Family Broadcasting Makes Changes. In making programming changes to its cluster of stations in Branson, Missouri, Earls Family Broadcasting consolidates its two country outlets on one signal, freeing up KRZK at 106.3 to become a news/talk station. The new format is branded as “Your News. Straight Talk. 106.3.” In a statement, the company says news/talk is “a perfect fit for our traditional, informed and community-minded citizens of the Branson area. Since KRZK has always been popular for local news, talk, and community service, an all-news/talk format is the perfect evolution of this beloved station.” The station is carrying Fox News Radio for top-of-the-hour news. The program schedule includes: Steve & Janet in the Morning for 6:00 am to 9:00 am; “At Your Service” with Scott McCaulley from 9:00 am to 11:00 am; Dial Global’s Dennis Miller from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm; Dave Ramsey from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm; and “The Ozark’s News Hour with Greg Pyron” from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
The Expert Radio Network Launches. A new San Diego-based terrestrial radio network is getting off the ground. The Expert Radio Network, “a multi-media radio platform for experts to deliver their content, expand their audience and explode their product sales” is opening for business. Vice president of business development Susan Ram explains the network’s approach. “Experts will have the opportunity to host a weekly radio show in major markets across the country, complete with marketing guidance from co-founder Scotty Saks. Experts will also work directly with award-winning talent coaching specialist and ERN co-founder Cliff Dumas and his business partner Randy Lane of The Randy Lane Company. Cliff and Randy will teach the same communication secrets Randy has personally taught Ryan Seacrest, Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly and hundreds of other entertainment, sports and business clients. Finally, Experts will be able to leverage the power of a fully produced, online marketing sales funnel custom designed to monetize their product and brand.” Identifying “experts” as those who’ve committed three years or 10,000 hours to knowledge of their subject of expertise, ERN says it has identified several “key verticals,” including: finance and business, health and wellness, and personal development. “The timing could not be better, as ‘real,’ terrestrial talk radio is experiencing explosive growth, and attracting millions of listeners who seek critical investment, business, and personal development advice from experts across the country. The power of ERN will massively expand an individual or corporate brand’s audience and deliver valuable advice and information to consumers.” ERN will utilize SpotMedia’s new Synchronicity platform for its program distribution, eliminating satellite distribution expenses while automatically customizing shows and commercial insertions on an affiliate by affiliate basis for both over the air and digital audiences.
Good Karma’s WEFL, West Palm Beach Renews Local TV Partnership. West Palm Beach sports talk ESPN 760 extends its content-producing partnership with local television stations WPTV-TV and WFLX-TV. The stations had been working together for the past three years and have agreed to terms on a new multi-year contract. WPTV-TV vice president and general manager Steve Wasserman says, “Since teaming up with ESPN 760 in 2010, the profile of local sports has risen to an unprecedented level. With the powerful combination of the region’s top-rated television station and the area’s unrivaled leader in sports radio, we will continue to set the standard for sports coverage in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.” The stations say that over the years they have produced quality content with unique local coverage and programming that includes: “Football Night in South Florida,” “5 Sports Live” on WPTV and “Wayne Akers Sports Zone” on WFLX. ESPN 760’s anchor team of Joe Girvan and Emerson Lotzia will continue to be seen nightly on WPTV NewsChannel 5’s 6:00 pm and 11:00 pm newscasts as well as WFLX Fox 29’s 10:00 pm newscast. WEFL vice president and general manager Steve Politziner states, “We are thrilled to continue to share stories about sports in our local community with the passionate fans of WPTV and WFLX. ‘Football Night in South Florida’ has become a franchise unto itself and the way in which schools, players, coaches, administrators, parents and fans have embraced our coverage, it’s more than exceeded our expectations.”
Odds & Sods. Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington raised more than $290,000 during its radiothon on Friday and Saturday to benefit the Fisher House Foundation. It was the 9th annual such radiothon and program director Bill Hess tells TALKERS the total was up $50,000 from last year’s total and that, to date, WMAL listeners have raised more than $4 million for Fisher House over the past nine years…..Herman Cain subs for Neal Boortz on the Cox Media-syndicated national talk program December 10 – 19. Cain, who hosted a program at flagship WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta prior to his run for president, will take over hosting the Neal Boortz show on January 21, 2013…..WQAM, Miami sports talk host Dan Sileo subs on the morning show at Entercom’s WEEI, Boston December 26 – 28.
Talk Producer Colin Brady Dies at 43. Florida-based radio producer Colin Brady passed away at age 43 after a struggle with cardiovascular disease. Brady worked as a talk producer and host in both Tampa and Orlando. He worked with Shannon Burke at WTKS, Orlando and on his internet show at RadioIO.com. Burke tells the Orlando Sentinel that although Brady was the butt of jokes (as producers often are) his listeners were shocked. “They all loved him very much. Last week, they were calling the show crying. He was beloved, no doubt about it.”
Washington ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Syria Chemical Weapons Threat, Egypt Unrest, Obama Cabinet Nominees, and Jovan Belcher Case-Costas Comments Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/4). The fight between GOP leaders and the Obama administration over how to avoid the “fiscal cliff”; charges Syria is planning to use its chemical weapons on rebels; the unrest in Egypt as citizens protest Mohamed Morsi’s policies; speculation over the shape of the new Obama Cabinet; and the murder-suicide case of Jovan Belcher and Bob Costas’ anti-gun commentary were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Michael Savage Signs with Cumulus Media Networks; Push for Affiliates and Programming Changes at O&O Stations to Begin. Not too long after vowing he’d be back on terrestrial radio, talk radio host Michael Savage joins Cumulus Media Networks for a syndication deal that will have his program distributed nationally live from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. The terms of the contract are not available but in a press release announcing the pact, Cumulus COO John Dickey states, “As we aggressively create radio’s most compelling mix of show hosts the addition of Michael Savage is a milestone in our determined efforts to provide our listeners nationwide with the best programing in the business.” Savage won freedom from his contract with Talk Radio Network in court several weeks ago, freeing him to sign anywhere for national distribution. Savage states in the release, “Cumulus and Savage will make radio history. The turbulent times we live in give talk radio a new power. This is the biggest move of my radio career and I look forward to reaching many millions of new listeners on their flamethrower signals.” Savage has broadcast from his home studio in the San Francisco Bay Area for years and most likely will continue to do so. Cumulus will want to put him on as many O&Os as possible so here’s a rundown of what programming airs during the live broadcast time of Savage’s soon-to-be program. In San Francisco, O&Os KGO and KSFO air a local evening news show and its own syndicated John Batchelor program respectively; WABC, New York airs Batchelor; KABC, Los Angeles airs its own syndicated Mark Levin; WLS-AM, Chicago airs the last hour of Premiere’s Sean Hannity followed by Levin; WMAL, Washington airs Batchelor; WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas airs local host Chris Krok; and WJR, Detroit airs Mark Levin. With Savage’s program to debut next Tuesday, October 23, look for some programming changes on Cumulus Media O&O talk outlets.
Dan Patrick’s Radio and TV Simulcast Exits Fox Sports Net; Speculation About New Cable Partner Begins. To be clear, we’re talking about the regional cable TV networks when we talk about Fox Sports Net, not Fox Sports Radio Network which distributes the radio version of the DirecTV-produced program. Dan Patrick’s sports talk show is still available on DirecTV’s Audience Network but Patrick said on his program they expect to have a new cable partner soon and here’s where the speculation begins. AwfulAnnouncing.com’s Matt Yoder writes that a deal with NBC’s fledgling cable sports network could use a show like Patrick’s in morning drive as a show around which to build the rest of its programming. As Yoder points out, Dan Patrick already works for NBC hosting “Football Night in America,” so there’s a relationship in place. If NBC and Patrick agree to work together for the cable TV distribution of his program, whether that would affect the distribution of his radio program or not is unknown. NBC is also building a sports talk radio network for which it needs quality programming. However, the Fox Sports Radio Network distribution of the radio program has it on more than 250 stations. Ad sales for the radio side are handled by Premiere Networks and presumably there is a contract for this relationship.
Mancow TV Show Producer Resigns. With less than a week to go before the debut of Erich Mancow Muller’s Chicago TV show on Fox Television’s WPWR-TV, director and producer Don DuPree leaves the project. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports DuPree had issues with Fox Television that centered on compensation and job duties unrelated to the Mancow program. Mancow’s morning radio show — syndicated nationally by TRN-FM — is set to begin a two-hour radio/TV simulcast (during the 6:00 am to 8:00 am CT hours) on Monday, October 22. DuPree has been involved with the soon-to-debut show for several weeks. He tells Feder, “I really want to see the show succeed, and I want Mancow to succeed. Working with Mancow was why I was attracted to the project to begin with, and I’m still a big fan. I hope I get to work with him again one day.” DuPree was director of the “Siskel & Ebert” program for 16 years and also served as executive producer for “Ebert & Roeper.”
Talent Shuffle at Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle. A day after Bonneville announced that morning news anchor Linda Thomas would exit the AM on-air post to take an enterprising new role with the station and its affiliated digital presence, it promotes evening talk host John Curley to host of “Seattle’s Morning News” beginning Monday, October 22. Curley, a popular media personality in the market who joined KIRO-FM in February of 2011 to host the night show, is partnered up with current AM drive co-host Tom Tangney and news anchor Ursula Reutin. Program director Larry Gifford states, “John is unbelievably talented. He brings a lifetime of lessons to add a personal perspective and a storyteller’s sensibility to ‘Seattle’s Morning News.’ He also has an irresistible charm and enough energy to fuel the entire Pacific Northwest.” Curley spent 14 years hosting “Evening Magazine” on KING-TV and currently serves as a member of the Sammamish City Council. Exiting the morning program is host Bill Radke.
WBNS-AM/FM, Columbus Suspends Host for Tweet. RadiOhio’s sports talk WBNS-AM/FM, Columbus “97.1 The Fan” suspends talk host Scott Torgerson – co-host of “The Common Man & The Torg” – after he Tweeted regarding ESPN’s Desmond Howard, “I wish that Desmond Howard would get fired or die so I can watch ‘Gameday’ again.” It’s uncertain how long Torgerson will be suspended but yesterday he remained off the program with co-host Mike Ricordati.
Genesis Communications Network Purchases New Headquarters. The company that syndicated such talk radio stars as Alex Jones, Jason Lewis and Bradlee Dean is moving into new headquarters in Burnsville, Minnesota. The company, headed by CEO Ted Anderson, is moving from its current base in Eagan, Minnesota to a former Coldwell Banker office near I-35W in the Twin Cities region. The building was purchased for $1.4 million.
Newsweek Announces End of Paper Edition. This isn’t a radio story but it is an interesting media development. Editor-in-chief of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company, Tina Brown, announces the iconic weekly news magazine will cease publication of its printed product at the end of this year and will move into a strictly digital business model in 2013. Brown writes, “Newsweek Global, as the all-digital publication will be named, will be a single, worldwide edition targeted for a highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in a sophisticated context. Newsweek Global will be supported by paid subscription and will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the Web, with select content available on The Daily Beast.” Brown makes it clear why the transition is taking place. “It is important that we underscore what this digital transition means and, as importantly, what it does not. We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it. We remain committed to Newsweek and to the journalism that it represents. This decision is not about the quality of the brand or the journalism — that is as powerful as ever. It is about the challenging economics of print publishing and distribution.”
Second Presidential Debate Aftermath, Presidential Race Polls, Libya Attack Investigation, and MLB Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/17). Analysis of the performance of the candidates in the second presidential debate; the polls in the presidential race; the ongoing investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi; and the Major League Baseball playoffs are some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Los Angeles to Air “Diverse L.A.” on Progressive Talk KTLK; Black Media Alliance Not Satisfied. As part of Clear Channel Los Angeles’ program to increase diversity at the cluster, a three-week block of programs titled, “Diverse L.A.” will air on progressive talk outlet KTLK during the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart beginning March 12. The program will be hosted by cluster producer and political commentator Morris O’Kelly. Clear Channel is currently seeking community members interested in appearing on the program and is taking suggestions and applications via e-mail at DiverseLA@clearchannel.com. In a statement, Clear Channel Los Angeles market manager Greg Ashlock says, “These 45 hours of prime programming will feature local hosts and guests discussing a wide variety of issues associated with the spectrum of experience of all Angelenos.” The programming is part of the response to the negative feedback sister station KFI received after PM drive hosts John & Ken were suspended for comments about Whitney Houston. Morris O’Kelly states, “This is about Los Angeles hearing voices and viewpoints less often heard while also addressing communities historically underserved. ‘Diverse L.A.’ will highlight new personalities and newsmakers for the KTLK audience but, more importantly, provide a platform for inclusive, substantive dialogue in the public square.” The Los Angeles organization Black Media Alliance responds to the initiative disappointed that Clear Channel has “relegated our concerns to a struggling station that has neither the cachet nor reach of their more profitable outlet.” In a statement, the BMA quotes longtime member and media personality Kevin Ross saying, “The efforts of Clear Channel are important, but it’s not enough…There needs to be diversity on all of their stations, on- and off-air and we are prepared to provide Clear Channel with an extensive list of African-American radio professionals who fit into their current program formatting needs.”
Sacramento Bee Editor Apologizes for Obscene Call to KHTK, Sacramento’s Don Geronimo Show. Sacramento Bee sports editor Tom Couzens has apologized in the paper for making obscene calls to the Don Geronimo morning show at CBS Radio’s sports KHTK, Sacramento that he, at first, denied making. The brouhaha appears to have been the culmination of an ongoing feud between Couzens and Geronimo. The Sacramento News & Review reports Couzens had been critical of the format of Geronimo’s morning drive show and Geronimo – who is a pro at turning that kind of controversy into PR for his show – vowed to “get” Couzens for his criticism of the show. Couzens admits he let Geronimo get to him and his bosses at the Bee are saying it is a personnel issue that is being handled internally.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Names Bo Thompson Co-Host of AM Drive Show. Greater Media news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte announces Bo Thompson joins morning drive host Stacey Simms as co-host of the “Charlotte’s Morning News.” Thompson is currently producer of WCCB-TV, Charlotte’s “Fox News Edge” program hosted by Greater Media personalities Matt Harris and Ramona Holloway. Thompson begins his duties alongside Simms, news anchor John Stokes, sports anchor Jim Szoke and traffic reporter Chuck Roads at WBT on March 19. Thompson says, “I began my radio career at WBT 22 years ago and this is my home. I always knew I’d be back one day. It’s an honor to carry on the torch from Al Gardner. Many of my radio idols have held this job. I can’t wait to be a part of CMN’s next chapter.” Gardner left the station to work with Merlin Media as it prepares to launch a new format on WKDN-FM, Philadelphia.
Clear Channel Adds Local Show to Hartford FM Sports Talker. This week Clear Channel split the simulcast that had been sports talk WPOP and WUCS-FM in Hartford. As reported earlier, WPOP has become a Fox Sports Radio Network affiliate and WUCS-FM carries programming from ESPN. Now, WUCS-FM – positioned as 97.9 ESPN – adds a local PM drive show to the program schedule hosted by Mike Bower. Comedian and talk personality Bower temporarily filled the slot WTKK-FM, Boston had open when it let talk host Jay Severin go in April of last year.
Michael Juliano Takes Over Director of Sales Role at Entercom Boston. Shuffling in the management at Entercom’s Boston cluster opens up the director of sales position and VP/market manager Jeff Brown announces Michael Juliano is brought in to manage the cluster’s sales efforts. Juliano most recently served as regional vice president of sales for Metro Traffic in the New York and Pennsylvania markets. In his new duties, he’ll oversee all revenue for sports WEEI-AM/FM, news/talk WRKO and rock WAAF as well as the Red Sox Radio Network, the Celtics Radio Network and New England Patriots special programming.
Emmis’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis Raises Funds for Tornado Victims. Emmis Communications news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis partnered with WRTV-TV, Indianapolis to raise funds for the victims of the recent tornados that swept through southern Indiana. The Tornado Relief Drive was done in a “drive-through” method on Tuesday, March 6 with local Jiffy Lube locations taking part. During that 12-hour drive some $46,000 was collected. The money is being distributed via the Salvation Army Indiana Division. The familiar red kettles are continuing to being used at the Jiffy Lube locations. During the Tuesday drive, WIBC-FM personnel were stationed at various locations throughout the city with the red kettles.
GOP Primary Race, Rush Limbaugh Controversy, Intensified Syria Violence, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, Solar Storm Heads to Earth, and Sarah Palin Movie Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/7). The Mitt Romney-Rick Santorum race for the Republican nomination; the aftermath of Rush Limbaugh’s controversial language; the intensified violence against Syria’s citizens; continuing international debate over Iran’s nuclear weapons program; the massive solar storm that could disrupt Earth’s communications systems; and the HBO Sarah Palin movie set to air this weekend were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Bill Bradley Meets George Lucas. SiriusXM is presenting a special program in which former Senator Bill Bradley (l) interviews filmmaker George Lucas (r). The satcaster states during the program “Lucas discusses a variety of topics throughout the interview, including: his evolution as a filmmaker and storyteller and the role technology played on this journey; his philosophy on education in America; what inspired him to make “Red Tails” and the importance of sharing the history of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen with the youngest generation of African-Americans in our country today; and the spiritual life lessons woven into the “Star Wars” saga.
Norm Pattiz’ Courtside Entertainment Names Bob Moore President. Forty-year broadcast management pro Bob Moore rejoins Westwood One founder Norm Pattiz, this time as president of Pattiz’ Courtside Entertainment. Moore most recently was market manager of Cumulus Media’s Los Angeles stations. Prior to that he managed the CBS Radio Los Angeles cluster. Pattiz says he and Moore go back a long way in the business. “Bob Moore is a one of a kind guy. I’ve known him since the 70s when he followed me as the sales manager of KCOP-TV in Los Angeles. I hired him at Westwood One because I thought anybody who could sell KCOP in the 70s could sell anything. He ran my station group in the 90s when we launched Pirate Radio in Los Angeles and bought WNEW and WYNY-FM in New York. I have no doubt that Bob will make a huge contribution to Courtside, the radio business and platforms yet to be discovered. They are all going to need programming. Bob will be joining Katie Walsh and me as our executive team.” On his new position with Courtside, Moore states, “I am extremely excited to be working with Norm Pattiz again. Norm has been a mentor of mine for many years. Working together at Courtside is a great opportunity to use my broadcast experience at stations and working with advertisers in a way that I find extremely appealing.”
KTLK, Los Angeles Adds Local Talk to PM Drive on Progressive Outlet. Tapping former KNBC-TV anchor David Cruz for the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm talk show gives Clear Channel’s progressive talk outlet KTLK a high-profile Hispanic broadcaster on the staff and the ability to address Los Angeles issues in drive time. CC Los Angeles president Greg Ashlock states, “This is a fresh new look at Southern California through the eyes of a well-known, veteran network television and radio journalist very familiar with the Latino community in the nation’s second largest market.” Local Hispanic organizations are quick to praise the move. Approval from two such organizations – Latino Institute for Corporate Inclusion and the Latin Business Association – is included in Clear Channel’s release announcing the move. Cruz’ program bumps WSJRN’s “Daily Wrap with Michael Castner” from the PM drive slot.
WGN, Chicago’s Judy Pielach Adds Coordinator Duties. Reporter/anchor Judy Pielach takes on the added responsibilities of news room coordinator in the WGN, Chicago news room. She’ll work closely with program director Bill White on scheduling and assignments in addition to her reporting and anchoring work.
CBS Radio Promotes Two in Local Sales in Los Angeles and Chicago. Peter Bowen has been the director of sales at CBS Radio’s Chicago cluster for the past six years. He moves to the Los Angeles operations in the same role where he’ll work with SVP and market manager Steve Carver. In Chicago, CBS ups all-news WBBM general sales manager Mark Day to director of sales for the entire Chicago cluster under SVP and market manager Rod Zimmerman.
Another Public Radio Station Drops Music for News and Information. Cal State Sacramento-owned KXJZ-FM, Sacramento announces it’s dropping the daily jazz programming on the station – known as Capital Public Radio – to focus on news and info and is moving the jazz to other frequencies. The station will still feature some music shows on the weekend but is opting for more programming from NPR such as “Talk of the Nation” and “Fresh Air” plus the local “Insight” show and programming from PRI and BBC.
Dr. Evelyn Higgins Show Adds Sunday Program. The Main Street Radio Network-syndicated and Lifestyle TalkRadio Network-distributed Dr. Evelyn Higgins show is now producing a Sunday program. The show airs live Saturday from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm and now will be heard on Sunday from 9:00 am to 10:00 am as well. The program was launched nationally in November and is heard in more than 22 markets.
Michigan Radio Creates Mid-State News Bureau. Pubcaster Michigan Radio – operating stations in Ann Arbor, Flint and West Michigan – announces the establishment of a Mid-Michigan news bureau based in Jackson and headed by Steve Carmody. News director Vincent Duffy states, “We’ve long had daily coverage of Southeast and Western Michigan from our bureaus in Detroit and Grand Rapids, but there are many equally important stories taking place in mid-Michigan that are of interest to our audience. Our hope is that this bureau will assist us in covering important Michigan issues and events that take place in the cities of Lansing, Jackson and Battle Creek and their surrounding communities.”
GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Race Most-Talked-About Story on News/Talk Radio for Week of January 9-13. Fresh off the New Hampshire Primary election with the South Carolina Primary looming, the GOP race and the larger 2012 presidential contest landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio this week. Coming in at #2 was the growing concern over Iran’s military ambitions and its nuclear weapons development coupled with the assassination of one of its top nuclear scientists this week. At #3 was Iran’s sentencing a former U.S. Marine to death after accusing him of being a spy. Coming in at #4 was the tepid U.S. economic data. The Talkers TenTM is published every Friday at Talkers.com and is the result of ongoing research by TALKERS. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Compass Media Networks’ “Free Beer & HotWings” show featuring Gregg Daniels, Chris Michaels and Eric Zane adds KXRX-FM, Tri-Cities, Washington and WBSX-FM, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania…..The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “Daily Wrap with Michael Castner” picks up KTAR-FM, Phoenix; KHOW, Denver; and KEX, Portland…..The DIRECTV-produced and Premiere Networks-distributed “Nick & Artie” sports-centric show – hosted by comics Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange – adds KILT, Houston; KHTK, Sacramento; KTCT, San Francisco; and WMTI-FM, New Orleans…..“America’s Healthcare Advocate” with Cary Hall adds KDKD-FM, Clinton, Missouri.
Downsizing at Dial Global/Westwood One; Rumors of Cuts at Clear Channel. The merger of Dial Global and Westwood One was bound to come with the elimination of some positions as both companies do pretty much the same thing: produce, affiliate and rep radio programs. There are no confirmed firings but the word on the street is that about 40 of the now-combined companies’ 600 employees were let go from its New York, Los Angeles and Dallas offices. Meanwhile at Clear Channel, the grapevine is producing chatter that layoffs in medium and small markets are coming based on the company’s hour-by-hour breakout of cost-versus-revenue in the programming departments of its stations. This could mean some local talent getting pink-slipped in favor of the company’s “Premium Content” – a euphemism for in-house syndication.
NPR’s Michele Norris Takes Leave from “All Things Considered” So Husband Can Work for Obama Campaign. After a couple of high-profile PR gaffes, NPR is out front on this one. Michele Norris’ husband Broderick Johnson accepted a senior advisory role with President Obama’s re-election campaign and in a quick response, Norris and NPR are agreeing that Norris will take leave from her co-host role on “All Things Considered” after Friday’s broadcast. Norris will continue to work for NPR producing segments and features but will not be involved in any type of election coverage. In a statement, Norris says, “This has all happened very quickly, but working closely with NPR management, we’ve been able to make a plan that serves the show, honors the integrity of our news organization and is best for me professionally and personally. I will certainly miss hosting, but I will remain part of the ATC team and I look forward to contributing to our show and NPR in new and exciting ways.”
Clear Channel Names John Ivey Senior VP of Programming; Robin Bertolucci Extends PD Responsibilities. Vice president of programming for the Los Angeles cluster John Ivey is promoted to SVP of programming for Clear Channel radio. Ivey has been PD at CHR KIIS-FM, Los Angeles since 2001 and in his new position he’ll assist with CHR programming and talent development across the entire CC Radio operation. At the same time, KFI program director Robin Bertolucci re-signs with the company to continue leading the mega-successful news/talk station and its sister progressive talk outlet KTLK into the future. Prior to joining Clear Channel Los Angeles, Bertolucci programmed the AM stations at Clear Channel’s Denver cluster. CC Radio CEO John Hogan says, “For the past two decades, John has made innumerable contributions to our company’s success, especially over the last 10 years in Los Angeles at KIIS-FM, and Robin has led the iconic KFI brand to unprecedented audience growth and engagement. As a company, we put a priority on recognizing our high performers with advancement opportunities to grow and develop their careers and we are pleased to have great programming management talent like John and Robin renew their commitment to the Clear Channel team.”
Syndicated Lex & Terry Morning Hosts Sue Seven Bridges WJXL, Jacksonville. This one’s a contract dispute. United Stations Radio Networks-syndicated morning hosts Lex Staley and Terry Jaymes were brought aboard Seven Bridges’ sports talk WJXL, Jacksonville in April of this year with what Lex & Terry say was a three-year deal. Their show was pulled from the air on October 10. The details of the contract aren’t clear but the duo have hired Jacksonville attorney John M. Phillips to handle the dispute. Ironically, Phillips hosted a legal call-in show on WJXL called “Sports & Courts.” Phillips states, “For months I have preached accountability on my radio show. Whether someone is injured at the hands of another…or someone wants to simply get out of a contract because of personal preference, the law enforces accountability. WJXL is accountable to Lex & Terry and hopefully this matter will be resolved soon.” Syndication contracts are usually pretty clear in stating the terms for ending the deal so it’ll be interesting to see what transpires in this case.
Clear Channel Promotes American Express’ Second Annual “Small Business Saturday” Initiative. The “Small Business Saturday” initiative is a campaign spearheaded by American Express to promote shopping at local, independent stores and businesses on Saturday, November 26. A six-point promotional campaign begins tomorrow and runs through November 26 that includes: a public interest campaign across Clear Channel’s 850 radio stations, on-air advocacy by popular station personalities, the telling of local small business success stories, promotion via social media and digital integration, local advisory board activities and community events in local markets along with initiative partner Women Impacting Public Policy. Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan states, “Our goal is to stimulate small business sales on the biggest shopping weekend of the year by reminding listeners of the impact on their communities. The campaign is also intended to give a bigger voice to small business owners.”
Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 and WJLK-FM, Asbury Park Host “Home Cooking” NTR Event. The two Townsquare Media stations are presenting the “Taste of Home Cooking Show” in conjunction with the popular food and entertaining magazine Taste of Home at Branches Catering in West Long Branch, New Jersey on November 1. Listeners can buy tickets – including a VIP ticket for $50 per person – to sample dishes and get cooking tips from the magazine’s culinary specialist Eric Villegas who will demonstrate 10 new recipes. VIP ticket holders will get a meet and greet with Villegas and an autographed copy of his new book, Taste of Home Christmas Cookies & Candy.
WWJ, Detroit Hosts “Resurrecting Detroit” Business Breakfast. This one’s not an NTR event but a community goodwill promotion. CBS Radio’s WWJ, Detroit produces the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report written by the station’s technology editor Matt Roush. The station has developed a program called the WWJ/GLITR UnWIRED coffee series and this particular breakfast is part of that. The event will be held at Lawrence Technological University’s ULTC Gallery on Thursday, October 27. Roush will moderate a panel discussion by local business leaders on ways to improve the city of Detroit and strengthen its business core. WWJ station manager Pete Kowalski says, “WWJ remains committed to Detroit and we’re proud to present another great business breakfast. This panel, with such stellar business leaders, will be discussing some truly innovative and transforming ideas for the city. It promises to be a very exciting and inspiring event.”
WTVN, Columbus “Morning Monarch” Bob Conners to Retire. Bob Conners has hosted the morning drive show on Clear Channel’s news/talk WTVN, Columbus since 1978 – he began working at the station in 1964. Now, Conners announces he’ll retire on November 30. He tells his listeners he’s honored and humbled to have been able to do what he loves for so long. WTVN program director Mike Elliott tells WBNS-TV, “Bob Conners has been a staple in Columbus radio for a very long time; consider the mold broken. Bob always said, ‘Radio has been good to me,’ but Bob Conners was good for radio.” Connors has been at it in AM drive so long his colleagues nicknamed him the “morning monarch.” WTVN Saturday morning host Joel Riley will take over the AM drive show on an interim basis in December.