WMAL, Washington Tower Site Up for Sale. Perhaps more valuable than the signals and the radio formats themselves, is the real estate upon which sit so many of the towers of America’s heritage AM stations. A report in The Sentinel, says Cumulus Media is now accepting offers on the Bethesda, Maryland site of its WMAL, Washington transmitter through March 12. Local real estate experts tell the paper the 75-acre piece of land in one of the toniest suburbs of DC should fetch “hundreds of millions” of dollars. The brokerage firm CBRE Group, Inc.’s SVP John Sheridan says, “Seventy-five acres in Bethesda. You don’t need to say anything more than that. It is a huge parcel of land with some of the highest income demographics. There’s the potential to build 300 or more homes.” In 2014, Cumulus put the 10-acre parcel of land occupied by KABC and KLOS transmitters in Los Angeles up for sale and that is going to command $125 million.
Beers Becomes Equity Partner, Board Member at Business Rockstars. Saying that his arrival will “bring the attention of the television and media community to the company’s broadcast, mobile and social platforms,” Business Rockstars announces multimedia CEO Thom Beers joins the board of directors for the company as well as making an equity investment in it. Beers is CEO of FremantleMedia North America. He’s a two-time Emmy Award-winning producer who brings 25 years of experience and success to Business Rockstars, producing some of the most recognizable TV shows such as: “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent,” “The Price is Right” and “Family Feud,” plus multiple shows on the Discovery Channel and the A&E family of networks. Beers joins Steve Lehman, chairman of Business Rockstars and former CEO of Premiere Networks, along with co-founder and president Ken Rutkowski, as well as their recent addition, Andy Schuon, co-founder of REVOLT Media & TV. Beers comments, “People like to follow ‘smart money,’ and my investment is a strong endorsement and recognition of the platform, and partners of Business Rockstars. By leveraging television content and major media relationships, Business Rockstars will surely continue to grow and reach their goals. I’m glad to be part of their bright future.” The company says that Beers’ investment presents much opportunity to Business Rockstars as it plans to align with a major TV company for possible future content. Steve Lehman adds, “Thom Beers is a Rockstar. He is one of the brightest guys in TV today. He’s intuitive, smart and will be a huge asset in helping to expand our TV and Over-the-Top content platform.”
WTKS-FM, Orlando’s Russ Rollins Served Divorce Papers on the Air. The “Monsters in the Morning” program heard on iHeartMedia’s WTKS “Real Radio 104.1” has been headed by ringmaster Russ Rollins since its inception and the show’s cast members have always “lived their lives on the air.” A classic example of that was when Rollins was recently served divorce papers while on the air. Whether Rollins knew about the coming papers or not is in question – the process server indicates Rollins chose the time and place to receive the papers – but the show has posted video of the papers being served on its website and Rollins appears surprised. Although Rollins’ estranged wife claims in the papers that Rollins physically abused her, his attorney tells WFTV-TV, Orlando that the police were called to Rollins’ home at one point but they investigated and have filed no charges.
Triplett Named DOS at Beasley Tampa Bay Cluster. The newly acquired Beasley Media Group Tampa Bay cluster names Steve Triplett director of sales. The cluster consists of: WYUU “92.5 MAX!MA”; WBRN, “BUBBA 98.7”; WQYK, “Tampa Bay’s Country Station 99.5”; WRBQ “Q105”; WLLD “WiLD 94.1”; and WHFS-AM, “Money Talk 1010.” Triplett comes to Beasley from his most recent gig as president and founder of the marketing firm Contact Media Inc.
Odds & Sods. At iHeartMedia’s Des Moines sports talker KXNO, a realignment of personalities takes place with Chris Williams and Ross Peterson being named the afternoon drive team. The new “Morning Rush” show will consist of Heather Burnside and Travis Justice…..Meanwhile, across town at Cumulus Media’s sports talker KBGG “The Champ,” Marty Tirrell and Ken Miller – as has been reported in recent weeks – will reunite to host the afternoon drive program beginning today (2/9). Tirrell and Miller first began working as a team at KXNO in the mid-1990s…..Mark Grote is named host of the pre- and post-game shows for Chicago Cubs broadcasts on all-news WBBM-AM. Grote, who has been with the CBS RADIO Chicago station group since 2002 and is sports anchor on WSCR’s “Mully & Hanley” program, is also expected to appear on sports talk WSCR regularly as a Cubs reporter, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.
Sirius XM Stock Soaring While John Malone’s Liberty Media Inches Toward Control. Yesterday’s $2.55 closing figure was satcaster Sirius XM’s (“SIRI”) best showing in more than four years. That’s the good news for CEO Mel Karmazin and his crew. The worrisome news, however, is the undeniable fact that John Malone’s Liberty Media – the company that rescued Sirius XM in 2009 by investing in 40% of the company at a bargain price – is closing in on acquiring the needed 50.1% ownership that would give it a controlling interest. Subsequent to the 2009 bail out, Liberty has been buying Sirius XM stock on the open market recently purchasing about 90 million shares at around $2.50 each. According to TALKERS sister trade publication Radio-Info, those transactions plus a “forward sale” agreement would bring Liberty’s interest to about 48% creating a behind the scenes radio reality show nail-biter.
Rick Roberts Lands at America’s Radio News Network. Veteran radio talk show host Rick Roberts has been named news co-anchor at America’s Radio News Network. Roberts, also a lawyer, has been heard in his 20 year career on such heritage outlets as KOA, Denver; KCMO, Kansas City; KRLD, Dallas; KOGO and most recently KFMB in San Diego. His is known for a distinctive style of getting the story “behind the story.” Commenting on how pleased he is to be working with ARNN CEO Mark Masters, Roberts tells TALKERS, “He is a man of true vision. Masters’ groundbreaking concept of journalism without agenda is needed in America now more than ever.” America’s Radio News Network, which offers 15 hours of syndicated long-form programming per week is now heard nationally on over 340 affiliates taking one or more of its five three-hour news segments.
Sandusky Scandal Impacts Pennsylvania Radio Station. Political scandal and questionable talk host remarks are not the only form of controversy that impacts spoken word radio’s ability to sell advertising and maintain a balanced competitive image. According to an Associated Press report, after 20 years of faithfully broadcasting Penn State football games to its loyal fandom, talker WAEB, Allentown, Pennsylvania finds itself at a crossroads between airing the school’s upcoming season (which kicks off September 1 against Ohio University) and pleasing the overwhelmingly large percentage of listeners who have let the station know they want to hear the games — while dealing with timid sponsors who are less enthusiastic about being associated with the scandal. Station management states they need about 10 sponsors to fund a full season of Penn State football. Prior to the Jerry Sandusky scandal it was always an instant sellout. So far they only have four.
Odds & Sods. The Minnestota Twins will be moving their live broadcasts from Hubbard-owned 1500ESPN, Minneapolis at the end of the season and begin airing games on KTWN 96.3FM beginning with the 2013 season. Their new radio home is owned by the Pohlad family – same folks who own the team. This is the first time the Twins games will be aired exclusively on FM….None other than President Obama was interviewed on sports talker KXNO, Des Moines to talk sports but Politico reports he snuck in a bit of politics when asked how playing sports was similar to being president stating, “It also turns out that political reporters are a lot like sports reporters. They’ve all got opinions, even if they didn’t play.”….Premiere Networks has launched a new satellite radio talk show featuring lifestyle expert and interior designer Moll Anderson heard Saturdays 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET on Sirius XM’s “Talk Radio” XM channel 168…Sports talker WFAN, New York’s annual talent search “Fantasy Phenom 111 Challenge” has narrowed its field to five finalists who will vie for the Grand Prize of a chance to host a once a week air shift on the legendary station for one year. The finals will take place on Friday, August 24 at Bar A in Lake Como, New Jersey. All finalists are New York Metropolitan area locals and were chosen from thousands of fans and listeners who showed up at auditions held at area Simon malls in July as well as online entries.
Obama Leaks, Family Research Council Shooting, Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/15). The ex-Navy SEALS video critical of President Obama for allegedly allowing dangerous leaks involving the shooting of Osama bin Laden and the shooting of a guard at the Washington, DC headquarters of the conservative Family Research Council, followed by the devastating effects of the drought brought on by the heat wave and violence in Syria were the most talked about topics on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing TALKERS research.