Tag: "Laurie Cantillo"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

| December 5, 2013

weineranthonyRumor: Anthony Weiner to Try Talk Radio.  Here we go again! Another disgraced politician – this time it’s former congressman and former NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner – is rumored to be in the running for a talk show on one of two New York City radio signals.  The New York Daily News is reporting that sources say Weiner is in talks to begin hosting a show on either Cumulus Media’s WABC (where the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot is opening in the New Year) or on Clear Channel’s WOR.  WABC operations manager Tony Mascaro tells the paper they are looking at a lot of candidates for the slot but denies Weiner is one of them.  The track record of former politicians – especially disgraced ones – succeeding in talk radio is not good.  Most managers and programmers are either aware – or find out very quickly – that the tradeoff for hiring such a person is not usually worth it.  Yes, one gets instant recognition of the person from the public, but the long hours, challenging work, glamorless working conditions and time needed to get traction in the ratings usually turns off former pols who are used to a different sort of workday.  Oh, and then there’s the fact that they almost always have no broadcasting skills whatsoever.  Stay tuned, the Weiner-watch is on!

cumulus logoCumulus Media Holdings to Refinance $2.23 Billion in Debt.  According to a Reuters report, Cumulus Media Holdings has set terms on a new $2.23 billion loan that would serve to reduce its interest payments over the course of the loan.  The company is marketing a $200 million, five-year revolver and a $2.025 billion, seven-year, first-lien term loan.  The proceeds would refinance Cumulus’ current first- and second-lien loans.  Moody’s Investor Services VP and senior credit officer Carl Salas is quoted saying, “It’s a meaningful improvement in their annual debt service.  They will save upwards of $30 million to $35 million in interest costs which adds nicely to their free cash flow generation.”

rouhierdannyCBS Radio’s WJFK, Washington Hears It from Redskins About Game Broadcast Parodies.  NFL fans are aware that the Washington Redskins – owned by the litigious and sensitive Dan Snyder – are having a tough season (3-9 right now) after making the playoffs last year.  That’s been the source of much frustration on the part of fans and the source of material for WJFK host Danny Rouhier and producer Ajay Atayee who’ve been producing bits that are mock-ups of game broadcasts.  Rouhier does the voices of Redskins radio play-by-play announcers Larry Michael and Sonny wjfkfmJurgensen and splices in actual drops of color man and former ‘Skin Chris Cooley.  The hysterically funny bits have been critical of the team’s play, the fan experience at FedEx Field and Snyder’s public image, so much so that, according to the Washington Post, WJFK Redskins beat reporter Grant Paulsen was told by team spokesman Tony Wyllie that the bits are so malicious that they could prompt legal action.  This may be water under the bridge since the Post reports Wyllie says after talking with the station and being assured it’s all in good fun, the team has no problem with the station’s content.  Since the station has no intention of stopping Rouhier from producing more similarly themed bits, we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out.

kennedyKYSR, Los Angeles Morning Personality Kennedy to Host Fox Business Net Show.  Former MTV VJ and current morning drive host at Clear Channel’s alternative KYSR, Los Angeles, Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, will begin a new nightly current events talk show on Fox Business Network titled “The Independents” that will premiere on Monday, December 9.  The Hollywood Reporter states that Kennedy will co-host with Reason magazine’s Matt Welch, America’s Future Foundation’s Kmele Foster and a rotating panel of money experts.  Kennedy herself writes on her KYSR blog that the show will be “aimed at all the mealy-mouthed, partisan faithful out there.  Has the 2 party system totally failed you?  Yeah, me too!  Tune in 4 nights a week on FBN, and just remember, music and politics go hand in hand. I will always hold hands with you.”  Kennedy has been a contributor to FBN making regular appearances on “Stossel.”

ohana logoVali Named Interim GM of Ohana Broadcast, Hawaii.  The name Austin Vali is widely-known in Hawaii radio and, as Ohana Broadcast Company‘s interim general manager, he will oversee four Oahu stations and five Kauai facilities.  Owner/president Jason Wolff comments, “Austin brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and relationships in the Honolulu market.  He will be a tremendous asset as we strive to produce the best possible radio for our listeners and clients.”   Recently, Vali was vice president/general manager of Cox Media Group‘s three-station Long Island cluster.  During his 40-year radio career, he has worked in Pittsburgh, Norfolk, and Louisville; however, Vali is perhaps best known for his experience in Hawaii.  Since arriving there in 1978, he worked at Honolulu’s KIKI and KQMQ and he co-owned KRTR-FM and KXME in that market.

runningwithnaturePodcastOne Adds Mariel Hemingway Program to Stable.  Titled after her best-selling book  Running with Nature, actress and author Mariel Hemingway, along with her partner, stuntman, actor, health and wellness expert, Bobby Williams, are launching their new podcast via PodcastOne.  The podcast invites listeners to “join them on their adventures; from Hollywood to Holistic healing…transforming relationships to finding the most meaningful ways of living every day, Mariel and Bobby are here bringing laughter, wonder and awe with some great advice.”  The first podcast episode “features nutrition tips, a review of her just released documentary called ‘Running from Crazy,’ and exercise tips from Bobby and Mariel’s ‘Meditation Moment.’”  PodcastOne COO Greg Batusic says, “Mariel and Bobby offer a refreshing and unique take on life that their fans and new listeners will surely benefit from.  We’re happy to have them join our stellar lineup.”

madiganbobWTOP, Washington’s Bob Madigan to Retire.  Drive time news anchor Bob Madigan will retire from his position at Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington, DC at the end of the year.  Outgoing vice president of news and programming Jim Farley (also retiring, see next story) says in a memo to his DC staff, “Bob has been in this crazy business of ours for 50 years, 20 of them here at WTOP and WASH when both stations were co-owned.  He and I worked for 11 years at NBC News….I have been inflicted on Bob for 27 of his 50 years in the business.  By the way, if you are wondering how he got in 50 years ago, he started working in radio during high school.”  Farley goes on to say that as WTOP’s “Man About Town,” he “was a one-person ‘good news’ department covering everything from charity galas to scholarship awards and chili cook-offs for a good cause.  Bob covered so many events, that in less than a year on the beat, he was emcee, announcer or celebrity judge at many of them.  He became a one-man marketing machine for WTOP, getting our name out there in a positive way that was priceless!  He was chosen to announce the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  At the Bush Inaugural Parade he was paired with…Meat Loaf.  For years he announced the start of the Race for the Cure live on WTOP.  He has a long, long list of awards and honors including a (rare for a journalist) RAMMY Award, “The Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award.”  RAMMY’s are awarded by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

cookefarleyA Farewell to Jim Farley.  Radio consultant and TALKERS contributor Holland Cooke (right) poses for a selfie with outgoing vice president of news and programming Jim Farley at a retirement bash for the longtime WTOP, Washington programmer at the Newseum in Washington, DC.  After 17 years with the station, Farley is “slowing down but not retiring” as he’ll step down from his current post but consult WTOP for the next two years. He’s also open to consult others with their news and/or digital strategies.  Current WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo is stepping into the post at year’s end.  Cooke reports that modern-day WTOP-ers, Hubbard execs and many alumni toasted Farley at the bash.  Among other things said at the farewell party, Farley told staffers, “What a crowd!  YOU did it.  YOU GUYS do all the heavy lifting, and I got all the credit.  I’m gettin’ out before they catch me.”

kmbzGood Fences Make Good Neighbors.  Usually that’s the case but at the Entercom AM transmitter site in Westwood, Kansas, just how a good fence is defined appears to be the issue.  The towers for KMBZ and KUDL are surrounded by residential neighborhoods – that wasn’t the case in the 1930s when the towers went up.  According to the Prairie Village Post, now neighbors are challenging the renewal of Entercom’s special use permit for the site claiming they want improvements there.  After meeting with residents, a plan commission sub-committee is suggesting the current chain-link fence with barbed wire makes the property look “blighted” and recommends removal of the perimeter fence and replacement with fencing that complies with current code.  Entercom fears liability issues without a perimeter fence.  In 2008, a trespassing teenager was killed after falling from a tower on the site.  Expect some sort of compromise on this issue since moving the station towers would be very difficult yet protection of the transmitters and towers needs to continue for obvious reasons.

junkiesCredit to WJFK-FM, Washington’s “Junkies” for Nabbing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Segment.  He’s been one of the hot talk radio topics for the past several weeks (as documented in TALKERS magazine’s weekly top topics chart The Talkers TenTM), so why not book him as a guest?  CBS Radio’s “The Junkies” did just that and got a cool 25-minute segment with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on WJFK-FM, Washington today.  Ford, who’s obviously been in the news a bit lately and doesn’t seem to be very mic-shy, talked with the Junkies about football (he offered his NFL picks for the week), the drug use allegations against him, President Obama, and his run for re-election next fall (which he says he’ll win because he has the support of the people).

kgmzlogoOdds & Sods.  Entercom’s KGMZ, San Francisco is preparing to begin a listener giveaway of tickets and cool memorabilia for its six area pro sports teams.  “95.7 The Game” is calling the promotion “The Six Teams of Christmas” and will give listeners a chance to win game ticket packages to see the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland As, Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks…..CBS Radio’s New York stations (including sports WFAN-AM/FM and all-news WINS and WCBS) are announcing a new promotion: The Firehouse Chili Cook-Off.  After entries were submitted from all across the tri-state area, semi-finalists will compete to see whose chili recipe cbsfirehousereigns supreme.  At establishments in New Jersey and New York, the staple food of firefighters will be cooked, tasted and judged by local sports figures, and one fire company at each event will move into the final round of the competition.  The grand prize winner will receive VIP tickets to a 2014 New York Yankees game…..Entercom’s Boston Red Sox flagship WEEI, Boston is broadcasting from the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando next week.  Live coverage of the meetings will begin with Salk & Holley from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm Monday through Wednesday.  The Mut & Merloni show will also originate from the Swan and Dolphin Resort from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday.

kirofmhollidaymagicHoliday Magic at KIRO-FM, Seattle.  Pictured here is KIRO-FM, Seattle afternoon drive duo Ron & Don manning the tote board at last year’s “Holiday Magic Radiothon.”  The Bonneville news/talk station, in partnership with Treehouse (a non-profit agency that ensures that kids in foster care have access to the essential services required to help them make it to high school graduation and beyond), are hosting the 25th Annual Foster Child Holiday Magic Radiothon today.  The station set a record last year raising more than $500,000.  The 12-hour “Holiday Magic Radiothon” helps local foster kids by raising money to provide each child in the program with one significant holiday gift along with support programs and services throughout the year.

humphriesdamian2Rusty Humphries on the Set in Bucharest.  That’s talk show host and actor Rusty Humphries (left) with actor Michael Damian (right) on location in Bucharest, Romania on the set of the romantic comedy Love By Design.  Humphries says he plays a reporter covering a big fashion show in New York City.  He notes that Bucharest is a popular location to shoot NYC scenes since it can be made to look like the streets of New York and the production costs are much less.  The movie also stars Jane Seymour.  Humphries was in Bucharest for seven days filming.  He tells TALKERS, “I had a blast.  I love the fact that I’m having the opportunity to really live out my dreams: radio, TV and film.  This is my third major motion picture, and it’s always an honor to be involved with a project as special as this.”

ObamaCare Criticism, NSA Cell Location Database, Obama Millennial Support Diminishing, Detroit Bankruptcy, Bashir Resignation, and Fast Food Minimum Wage Effort Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/5).  Analysis of the implementation and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the NSA policy that reportedly gathers the location of cell phone users; the loss of support from Millennials for President Obama; the Detroit bankruptcy case ruling; Martin Bashir’s resignation from MSNBC after his Sarah Palin comments; and the move by organized labor to push for a national minimum wage for fast food workers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Aaron Klein Takes Breaking News and Investigative Talk Radio to a New Level

| November 13, 2013

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

mckayjeffKlein feature picNEW YORK — Aaron Klein simply breaks all of the stereotypes of today’s talk show hosts.  He’s just 34 years old.  He does not lean liberal or conservative, nor does he speak in political talking points.  He does not love or hate President Obama, or stand on the ground of anyone’s political party.  He’s an accomplished author of six books with another blockbuster on the way.  His radio show doesn’t just talk about the news – in many cases it breaks the news – broadcasting half a world away.

Klein grew up in a tight-knit community of orthodox Jews in Philadelphia, and eventually moved to New York City where he attended Yeshiva University.  It wasn’t long before he joined the student newspaper, and became editor.  If he wasn’t hooked to the media by that time, a powerful report in the college newspaper led to the school removing issues of his newspaper.  That action led to the threat of a lawsuit against the university.  The school backed down and discontinued their practice.

Like many people in radio, Klein never really planned on the media as a career.

Read More

Monday, September 9, 2013

| September 9, 2013

trn logoTRN Issues Response to Reports of Financial Problems at the Company.  TALKERS magazine has received a press release from Talk Radio Network and CEO Mark Masters in response to reports of financial problems at the company.  Below is the full press statement as received from TRN at 2:30 pm ET on 9/9:

ARE YOU DIAL GLOBAL’S (WESTWOOD ONE’S) NEXT VICTIM?

      The truth about the proposed merger between Dial Global/Westwood One and Cumulus is a dark one for our industry.  Dial Global/Westwood One’s market power in programming and sales representation, combined with Cumulus Network’s programming and distribution power in the top 100 U.S. markets, will have a devastating effect on most every area of the radio industry. Our previous experience with Dial Global/Westwood consists of improper, illegal, and/or unethical conduct that is set forth in the second amended complaint http://www.trn1.com/uploads/files/SecondAmendedComplaint.pdf in our pending antitrust action against Dial Global/Westwood One and others.   If this merger is allowed to occur, the results of our previous experiences with Dial Global/Westwood One will be magnified tenfold to radio stations and content producers, which will be at the mercy of the newly empowered Dial (Westwood One)/Cumulus and the leverage that can be brought to bear by this new behemoth.

If this merger is allowed to occur, the culture of corruption at Dial/Westwood, as described in our second amended complaint, and other filings, will surely infect and spread within the new behemoth entity and victimize the rest of the industry, resulting in a super monopoly.

Sadly, the actions described in the second amended complaint are forcing the TRN companies to cut back to the basic operating essentials pending resolution of the multiple issues raised in their legal actions against Dial Global/Westwood One.  We had hoped that the change in management at Dial Global/Westwood One would bring about a new paradigm focused on correcting the prior harms in a manner which would be helpful to our companies and the industry as a whole.  Sadly, recent events have shown that the opposite is true and that the behaviors that gave rise to the lawsuits against Dial/Westwood One are endemic throughout the Dial/Westwood One monopoly.   The ruthless and unethical behaviors that have continued through multiple executive teams at Dial/Westwood are breathtaking in their scope and arrogance.

We encourage the rest of our industry to stand together, and with us, now.  We have been in business for 20 years, and have had excellent relationships with the other companies in our industry during that time.  But this is a horse of a different color.  Please contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition (antitrust@ftc.gov) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (antitrust.complaints@usdoj.gov or (202) 307-2040), your state’s Attorney General, and your local member of Congress about the dangers of this proposed merger and its threat to your First Amendment rights, business and products.  As for us, we will continue to pursue Dial Global/Westwood One in federal court and other appropriate forums, for monopoly and other improper behaviors, expose the behaviors described in the second amended complaint,  and achieve ultimate victory from the tragedy that Dial Global/Westwood One have imposed upon our companies and others within the industry.

DIAL/WESTWOOD ONE SCORES INITIAL VICTORY WITH ARNN

The actions described in the second amended complaint with respect to America’s Radio News Network (“ARNN”), and additional actions which will be the subject of future filings, have now succeeded on an interim basis with respect to ARNN.  Specifically, ARNN has been forced to suspend its broadcast operations, effective at the close of its broadcast day on Friday, September 6, 2013, pending the successful outcome of its actions against Dial Global/Westwood.  ARNN has arranged for appropriate feeds to be provided to its affiliates for a reasonable period of time to enable them to secure alternate programming.

AS TO RUMORS OF OTHER ONGOING OPERATIONS

All of the TRN companies have been severely damaged by the Dial Global/Westwood One conduct addressed above and also addressed in the various legal actions which the TRN companies have brought, or will bring, against Dial Global/Westwood.    That conduct has forced all of these companies to make wrenching internal decisions and to take painful internal actions.  As Dial Global/Westwood One has been collecting our advertising revenues, but refusing to pay them over to us or to account for them, these companies have now been forced to reduce as many operating costs as possible.   However, the current rumors of an alleged shutdown of broadcasting operations for non-ARNN programming are unfounded.  Broadcasts of the other programs are continuing without interruption.

CALL TO ACTION!

If Dial/Westwood can do this to us, they certainly can do this to you – so you need to join together, and with us, in opposing this dangerous merger, with as much force as you can muster, so that you can have a future that is not controlled by a monopoly http://www.trn1.com/uploads/files/SecondAmendedComplaint.pdf

wadedonromaDon Wade Passes at 72.  Longtime WLS, Chicago morning personality Don Wade – who hosted the program with his beloved wife Roma – died on Friday at the couple’s Florida home.  It was almost a year ago that Wade suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  He underwent an operation but never returned to the air at WLS.  Roma Wade posted the following statement on the WLS website (in part): “Last Friday morning, my hero, my best friend, my soulmate left this mortal coil behind and entered the realm of spirit while wrapped in my loving arms.  God blessed us with almost an entire year since Don’s surgery to embrace life, love, family, and adventure, all while knowing that his time on this beautiful earth was drawing to a close.  What a gift!  What a joy to be entrusted with my magnificent man’s care for that precious time.”  Wade began his work at WLS in 1985 with Roma by his side, remaining with the station as it transitioned to talk in 1989 and moving to AM drive.  Current Salem Radio Network VP, news & talk programming Tom Tradup was VP and GM of the station and charged with flipping it to talk including firing some of the most beloved DJs in Chicago history. He says Wade stayed with the newly formatted station, “Don’s infectious good humor, intelligent grasp of the issues, and his uncanny ability to connect one-on-one with men and women throughout Chicagoland convinced me he had to stay.  He and Roma (in those days they kept their marriage a secret) were the very first ‘hires’ I made at the new WLS Talkradio 890.  Over the years, Don’s popularity—and our ratings and revenue—soared as he and Roma woke up countless hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans.”  Chicago media writer Robert Feder has more on Wade’s passing here.

millerchrisMad Social Networking Skills.  Noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller tackles the question, “So what is it that differentiates ‘mad’ social networking skills from ‘casual’ skills, or just plain competency?”  Does it involve video shooting and editing, coding, HTML, or actual IT knowledge?  In a new column posted today (9/9) Miller writes, “There’s more to being a good jock than listening to yourself talk.  There’s more to being a good sales manager than just knowing a lot of clients.  And, there’s more to having ‘mad’ social networking skills than being passionate about posting a ton of stuff!”  He goes through five levels to which truly effective social networking skills must rise to be truly effective.  They are: 1) Know your target; 2) Know how to talk and listen to your target; 3)  Learn how to write well and with style; 4) Understand what fits and doesn’t fit in terms of actual content; and 5)  Actively remain engaged to know if your message is reaching the target.  To read Chris Miller’s entire column, please click here.

iheartradiotalkClear Channel Launched Update App for iHeartRadio Talk.  The beta version of iHeartRadio Talk was released in July was done with what president of digital Brian Lakamp admits is “very limited mobile functionality.”  But now the company is offering new updates for iOS and Android apps to allow users to access more talk content.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment states, “The updated apps will feature a directory for talk that now allows users the ability to browse and select from hundreds of programs.  For the first time ever, segments from ‘The View’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ will be available to coincide with ABC‘s new season.”  CC believes that iHeartRadio Talk is “the first audio platform offering on-demand, listener-created talk content alongside popular news, celebrity and entertainment audiosodes…The service is trending to be a more popular feature for men than women, though iHeartRadio’s demographic has traditionally skewed more female, allowing the digital service to attract a burgeoning audience.”

esiasonboomerBoomer Esiason Debuts on Boston’s ‘Sports Hub.’  The ever-busy Boomer Esiason – co-host of the ‘Boomer & Carton’ morning drive show on CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York, sports TV personality and color man for WestwoodOne’s Monday Night Football broadcasts – is debuting on CBS O&O WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” today.  For the past couple of years, Esiason made a Monday morning appearance on crosstown WEEI, Boston with John Dennis and Gerry Callahan.  The segment was recorded before Esiason went on the air on WFAN.  Now, Esiason continues reaching Boston sports fans with his expertise with WBZ-FM’s Toucher & Rich.

salisburyseanSean Salisbury Teams with John Harris for Midday Show on Yahoo! Sports Radio.  Former NFL quarterback and sports talk media pro Sean Salisbury becomes part of the Yahoo! Sports Radio network lineup as co-host of “The War Room” with John Harris airing from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET daily.  Yahoo! Sports Radio CEO David Gow states, “Sean is a big-time addition to our lineup.  He does his homework, he is insightful and he is not afraid to voice his opinions.   And the combination of Harris and Salisbury provides some of the strongest football coverage in sports – we are delighted to announce his addition at the start of the NFL season.”  Salisbury adds, “I am excited to join Yahoo! Sports Radio and to work with John Harris.  I really look forward to working with the entire team there and creating great shows.  During his media career, Salisbury has worked for ESPN and CBS Radio.  He is currently on the Dallas Cowboys pre-game show for Fox Sports TV in Dallas.

siriusxmExecutive Changes and Promotions at SiriusXM.  An internal memo from SiriusXM president and content officer Scott Greenstein informs staff of some new management changes and congratulates those who’ve been promoted.  First, Jeremy Coleman, head of talk and entertainment for much of the past 10 years is named senior vice president, Howard Stern channels.  Greenstein notes that Coleman “worked closely on the initial development of the channels before Howard’s official launch on SiriusXM in 2006, and is now excited to move over to work with Howard and his team on further growth.”  Also, Tim Sabean is named senior vice president, entertainment and comedy.  He’ll oversee the comedy channels, as well as a variety of other key entertainment assets including: Opie & Anthony, Piolín Radio, Jason Ellis, Ron & Fez, Covino & Rich, and Dino Costa, as well as the Radio Sex channel.  Dave Gorab is promoted to vice president and general manager, talk programming.  Greenstein says Gorab has been instrumental in building the news and political talk channels and will expand his oversight to include politics, news, women’s, family, health, educational, religious and specialty talk programming.

mikemorrisbobsansevereCumulus Sports Talk “105 FM The Ticket” in Minneapolis Adds Local Talk with Help from Tom Barnard.  The Twin Cities sports talk tri-mulcast of WGVX (105.1), WGVZ (105.7), and 105.3 FM – up ‘til now relying on content from CBS Sports Radio Network – is adding a local PM drive program beginning todaybarnardtom featuring Mike Morris (left) and Bob Sansevere (right) from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Tom Barnard – morning institution who’s heard on the company’s rock KQRS – will also be heard on the station as the third hour of Barnard’s podcast will be aired from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on the sports station.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Neal Justin reports Barnard is bringing former WCCO personality Don Shelby aboard his three-hour podcast as his sidekick and he’ll also be part of the third hour sports talk segment.  KQRS operations manager Scott Jameson tells the paper, “We’ve got two well-performing rock stations and it’s smart to leverage those brands to help our baby brother grow up.”

wtoplogoVeteran Journalist Mike Murillo Joins WTOP, Washington.  Mike Murillo becomes part of the WTOP, Washington staff as an anchor and reporter beginning today (9/9).  Most recently, Murillo worked at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia as anchor/reporter, studio technician and web andmurillomichael social media manager.  Prior to his stint in Philly, Murillo was a reporter at “FM News 101.9” in New York.  Murillo says, “Like many in this business, for years I have admired WTOP from afar.  I am truly excited to now become a member of this amazing news team.”  WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo adds, “Mike does it all.  Not only is he a seasoned anchor and street reporter, he’s a skilled web designer and broadcast technician.  We’re excited to have him join WTOP’s team of broadcast and digital journalists.”

Odds & Sods.  CBS Radio freelance reporter Donna Francavilla tells TALKERS magazine she is returning to TV for the first time in 15 years.  Though she will continue her freelance for CBS Radio, Francavilla has accepted a temporary, part-time on-air position at WBMA-TV, Birmingham, Alabama.  She recently won first, second and third place national communication awards from the National Federation of Press Women, serves as an Edward R. Murrow judge, freelances occasionally for Oprah’s OWN Network, and established a consulting company called Frankly Speaking Communications, LLC…..Cox Media Group’s news/talk WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton is the local affiliate for Cleveland Browns football.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

| February 20, 2013

cclogoClear Channel Media and Entertainment Up 4% in Q4 of 2012; Premiere National Sales Down.  The Media and Entertainment division of CC Media Holdings was up 4% in the fourth quarter of 2012 on revenue of $821.5 million.  But that figure was helped greatly by the $40 million in political advertising the division realized.   Otherwise it would have been down by as much as $9 million.  During yesterday’s conference call with analysts, CFO Tom Casey also said, “We increased national advertising sales by 17% over last year’s fourth quarter, or 3% caseytomexcluding political, and local revenues grew 5%.  We also saw a nice lift in revenue from digital, with our listening hours up 68% over the fourth quarter of 2011, fueled by increased iHeartRadio usage, which reached 118 million total listening hours in December.”  But both Premiere Networks and the Total Traffic Network had down fourth quarters and are off to sluggish starts in 2013.  The company does not break down specific numbers for these divisions.  Casey did say Total Traffic Network is still struggling with the merger of Metro Networks.  As for Premiere, he simply said national sales were weak for the division.  For the full year of 2012 Casey reported, “Media and Entertainment revenues grew 3% to $3.1 billion.  National revenue rose 9%, driven by both our new national advertising efforts and political.  Local revenue was up 2% for the year.  Our top advertising categories were auto and telecommunications.  Political advertising reached $70 million for the year.”

limbaughrushRush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to Remain on WABC, New York – for Now.  During yesterday’s CC Media Holdings conference call with analysts, chief financial officer Tom Casey did not give specifics when asked about thehannitysean much-speculated-upon move of Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh from his current and longtime home at Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York to Clear Channel’s crosstown WOR.  But he did say, “No decisions have been made…we’re working through our options.”  Contracts with WABC for both Limbaugh and Sean Hannity run through the end of 2013 and it doesn’t appear CC is preparing to exercise the 90-out clause and move the shows to WOR.  Still, the option to move them to WOR in January of 2014 after their deals with WABC end must seem like a nice, clean way of doing it – if that is the company’s ultimate goal.

salkmikeSports Talk in Boston Is “Its Own Breed.”  That’s the sentiment from sports talk personality Mike Salk, who is preparing to return to his native Boston to join Michael Holley for the PM drive shift on Entercom’s WEEI in mid-March. He says he can’t say enough about the people of Seattle and how much he’s enjoyed his time at Bonneville’s KIRO-AM co-hosting with Brock Huard.  But he also says, “The passion and intensity of Boston sports fans – the frustration when things don’t go as they’d like – those things are different in Boston than anywhere else in the country.”  Salk will fill the void in the afternoon show that opened whenholleymichael longtime Boston sports personality Glenn Ordway was let go from the station last week.  Salk tells TALKERS the fact that Boston is such an intense sports town helps make WEEI “the gold standard for sports radio.  It’s why people have always talked about it as one of the biggest sports stations, if not the biggest and most important sports station in the country.”  Salk says the opportunity to work in his hometown at WEEI is one thing, but the goal is to capitalize on it and he’s excited about working with Michael Holley.  “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to talk sports with him every day.  Not just talk sports but ‘banter.’  That’s the fun thing about sports radio, it’s not always arguing, it’s not always angry or fighting; I think of it more as bantering – two guys going back and forth with a smile on their faces.  Sometimes it gets heated, sometimes it’s just straight fun, but it’s banter.”  Salk is a rabid Boston Bruins fan and he says he’s looking forward to getting back to a hockey town.  “It’s in wolfejasonmy blood.  I grew up watching those games.”  Salk and Huard helped build the midday show at KIRO-AM to the point they hit the #1 mark in men 25-54 last September.  He’s been a part of the ESPN Radio network since 2007, hosting “SportsCenter Saturday” and serving as a regular fill-in host over the past few years.  Prior to going to Seattle in 2009 he worked for ESPN 890 in Boston (WAMG) for four years co-hosting middays with Bob Halloran.  Vice president of programming Jason Wolfe says, “Mike Salk has a proven record of success, and I couldn’t be more excited to bring him back home to Boston.  He’s a very skilled broadcaster, a fun personality and a passionate sports fan.  I’m really looking forward to the new dynamic that he and Michael Holley will provide on a daily basis.”

wfni logoEmmis Adds FM Translator to Sports WFNI, Indianapolis Brand.  The translator W298BB at 107.5 FM is simulcasting part of sister WFNI-AM’s programming but is carrying ESPN Radio’s midday programming of Colin Cowherd and SVP & Russillo from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  In a statement, Emmis Indianapolis SVP and market manager Charlie Morgan says, “The launch of ‘FM 107.5 The Fan’ demonstrates Emmis’ deep commitment to making ‘The Fan’ Indy’s dominant sports brand.  Given that Emmis is credited with creating the first sports talk station in the United States, it only seems fitting that we would deliver the city’s first FM sports station to Indy’s sports-loving fans.”

niewkathleenIllinois Attorney and Radio Host Found Liable in Missing Money Case.  Illinois attorney Kathleen Niew, her husband and her law firm were found partially liable in DuPage County Court for the some $2.3 million that a local couple claims Niew misappropriated.  Niew hosts a brokered financial advice program on Salem Communications’ WIND, Chicago.  The couple, Jamal and Leda Khoury, deposited the money in an account controlled by Niew.  According to the Chicago Tribune, her former attorney stated in court filings that the Niews are victims of the same crime as a third party is responsible for the missing money.

wtoplogoOdds & Sods.  Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington reports a big January in the Arbitron PPMs.  Vice president of news and programming Jim Farley says the station went up dramatically from January a year ago in the 25-54 demo.  He also says, “WTOP is # 1 25-54 full week and both drives, #2 nights and #3 middays and weekends.  Note the incredible 11.4 share in persons 25-54 in morning drive and the even more eye-popping 14.4 women 25-54.  Full week we’re also # 1 with women 25-54 and I give the credit on that to WTOP PD Laurie Cantillo.”…..In another note from WTOP, the station announces it is adding Wall Street Journal Network news anchor Joan Jones to its roster of news anchors.  Jones has been a network business anchor for Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal Radio Network since 2008, writing and anchoring network broadcasts and customized business updates for major market stations.  Prior to joining WSJ, Jones was the morning news anchor at WPHT in Philadelphia and the morning co-host of “Chris and JJ” on Philly’s B101.  She states, “What an honor to join this legacy radio station and to work alongside the best in the business.”…..WFLA, Tampa-based news anchor Martin Giles is retiring from Clear Channel on March 1.  In a report from the Tampa Bay Times, the 76-year-old Giles says he’s leaving the place he’s been for 28 years due to the workload where the company requires them to do news for Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and other markets as well.  “It’s an overload of work they were handing us.  I’ve had a little trouble with it…I am really worn out when I go home on Friday.”…..The Heritage Foundation-produced “Istook Live!” talk show – hosted by former Oklahoma Congressman Ernest Istook – adds C.J. Wheeler as co-host and executive producer.  In the additional role of executive producer, Wheeler will oversee the show’s content across radio, digital and TV platforms.

Sequestration/Deficit Reduction, Gun Control Issue, Immigration Reform, Soaring Gas Prices, and Oscar Pistorius Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/19).  The Washington battle over who’s responsible for the looming sequestration; the ongoing dialog over new gun control measures; the Obama Administration’s policy on immigration reform; the fast-rising prices at the pump; and the murder case of Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

| August 9, 2012

Pioneering Radio Owner Peter Straus Dies at 89.  His Straus Communications owned WMCA, New York when it was a part of the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll radio and after it became a talk radio outlet in 1970 until the time it was sold in 1986.  From a talk radio perspective Straus’ WMCA employed legendary talk hosts including Barry Gray, Barry Farber, Bob Grant and Bruce Williams.  The station is now owned by Salem Communications and broadcasts a Christian format.  Salem Radio Network vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS he has fond memories of working for Straus as executive producer of the talk shows in the early 1980s.  “I worked with Peter at a time when WMCA was a petri dish of talk radio creativity.  Legendary hosts like Barry Gray, Bob Grant, Bruce Williams and Barry Farber were all local hosts on WMCA…and our 5,000-watt station (albeit in the middle of Midtown Manhattan!) was the home of every important New York politician including NYC mayor Ed Koch, New York Lt. Governor (and later Governor) Mario Cuomo, New York city clerk (and future mayor) David Dinkins and many more.  The hallways of WMCA were always full, and it was a rare day one didn’t run into a guest like Marlon Brando or Woody Allen or Tony Randall or Robert Vaughn.”  Tradup says the station was “vibrant but challenged” during his time there as it battled WOR and WABC but Straus was “one in a million.  Peter instituted a ‘first radio in New York’ policy, meaning if an author appeared on another NYC station before WMCA, we wouldn’t book him.  And son of a gun, we started getting all the big authors first because publishers knew he meant it.  This taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten: If you act as if your radio station is #1, people will treat you like #1.  Peter was a winner, an exceptional leader, and the talk radio industry owes him respect and gratitude.”

Howard Stern Appeals Suit Dismissal in Beef with SiriusXM.  Talk radio legend Howard Stern and agent Don Buchwald are not going to let one dismissal get in the way of their goal of getting some $300 million in stock bonuses they say is due them as the result of the satcaster’s success.  According to the New York Daily News, Stern and Buchwald – through Stern’s 112 Inc. production company – filed suit in the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division.  The Daily News reports the suit hasn’t even been processed yet so the documents aren’t available but we have a pretty good idea what Stern is claiming: That he is owed the $300 million in stock bonuses because his program is responsible for a large degree of SiriusXM’s success, even the success that came after the merger of Sirius and XM.  In April of this year though, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick disagreed with Stern’s logic and dismissed the case ruling the language in Stern’s contract is “clear” and “unambiguous.”  In other words, he’s gotten everything the contract promised him.

Howard Eskin Returns to TV Sports Anchor Role.  Longtime WIP, Philadelphia sports talk personality Howard Eskin goes back to the little screen as sports anchor at WTXF-TV Fox 29 in Philadelphia.  The station says Eskin helped launch its 10:00 pm news back in 1986 and now he’ll be behind the sports desk for the Fox News 29 at 5:00 pm, 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm newscasts as well as “Fox 29 Sports Sunday,” “Game Time Live,” and he’ll contribute to “Good Day Philadelphia.”  After leaving his full-time talk show position at WIP, Eskin continued to work with the station as part of the Eagles pre- and post-game shows and as a sideline reporter.  Eskin will remain with WIP to host programs, the Eagles pre-game show and handle sideline reporting for the station.

Shara Fryer Added to KTRH, Houston AM Drive Show.  Longtime Houston market television news personality Shara Fryer will join Matt Patrick as co-host of KTRH’s “Houston’s Morning News.”  Fryer is currently director of the World Affairs Council of Houston but served as co-anchor of KTRK-TV, Houston’s 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm evening newscasts for more than 25 years.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Houston president and market manager Eddie Martiny says, “Over 25 years of major-market broadcast excellence combined with her commitment to numerous charities in Houston make Shara the perfect choice for mornings on KTRH.”  Fryer says, “I’m excited by the energy and raw spirit of radio.  It’s a brand new world for me…There’s a spark with Matt and the entire KTRH team that I hope listeners will feel and join us weekday mornings.”  She begins her new duties on September 4.

Al Gore to Anchor Current TV’s Convention Coverage.  Former Vice President Al Gore – founder of the cable news/talk channel Current TV taps himself to anchor the channel’s coverage of the two political conventions.  Current TV states, “Gore will be joined by former Michigan governor and ‘The War Room’ host, Jennifer Granholm, former New York governor and ‘Viewpoint’ host, Eliot Spitzer and ‘The Young Turks’ host, Cenk Uygur.  Additionally, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will join the panel for the RNC coverage.”  Current TV hosts Joy Behar and John Fugelsang will also assist in the coverage of the RNC beginning August 27 and the DNC beginning September 4.  In a statement, Gore says, “I’m pleased to be participating in Current TV’s impressive lineup throughout the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.  Cenk, Jennifer and Eliot provide the keen insight and spot-on analysis our viewers have come to expect, combined with decades of experience in public service and a deep understanding of politics.  I have no doubt that our coverage will be innovative and informative, and I look forward to working with them.”

Olympian Brings Home the Gold.  Bethesda, Maryland teen Katie Ledecky (pictured here with WTOP, Washington program director Laurie Cantillo) stopped by WTOP to talk with the news organization about her experiences at the London Olympics.  The gold-medal-winning 15-year-old won the 800-meter freestyle and spoke with WTOP anchors Shawn Anderson and John Aaron about the games and answered her critics who predicted she swam too fast in the beginning of the race and would tire before the end.  Obviously, she didn’t.

Odds & Sods.  SiriusXM’s Opie & Anthony bring their program to Chicago for a live remote broadcast tomorrow from the 115 Bourbon Street Bar in suburban Merrionette Park.  The special afternoon edition of the program kicks off at 3:00 pm CT…..CBS Radio names Laura Gonzalez local sales manager for sports talk WJFK, Washington, DC…..Cumulus Media splits off the AM side of sports simulcast WLQR, Toledo to go talk using all Cumulus Media Networks programs: Imus, Geraldo, Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, John Batchelor and “Red Eye Radio”…..Clear Channel’s sports WPOP, Hartford will carry Central Connecticut State football and basketball play-by-play for the next four seasons…..Attorney Eddie Gadrix begins hosting a Monday hour-long program focused on senior issues on WVNJ, Washington Township, New Jersey (Philadelphia market) on Monday mornings at 9:00.  Gadrix has been hosting the “Divorce & Custody Show” on Fridays at 9:00 am on the station and continues that program…..Talk host Matt Bruce fills in on the AM drive show on the simulcast of WWJB, Brooksville and WXJB, Homosassa Springs, Florida today through August 14.

A Sign of the Times.  WRKO, Boston talk host Barry Armstrong – Boston-area financial advisor and host of the daily “The Financial Exchange” program – is pictured here during one of the presentations that was part of the two-day financial seminar event on the economy, social security and estate planning.  More than 1,000 people attended the seminars that were only promoted on Armstrong’s show on WRKO.  Many listeners decided to also get an inside look into the production of Armstrong’s program as he conducted the entire program in front of a live audience.

Presidential Campaign Ads, Neo-Nazi Hate Groups, London Olympics, Mars ‘Curiosity’ Mission and Randy Travis Arrest Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/8).  The state of the presidential campaign ads in the 2012 election; neo-Nazi groups and the aftermath of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings; the London Olympics; the ‘Curiosity’ mission on Mars; and the arrest of country star Randy Travis were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

 

Monday, June 4, 2012

| June 4, 2012

Tom Leykis and Lionel to Discuss Their High-Profile Pioneering Digital Efforts at NMS.  Two questions (or variations thereof) regularly fielded by the TALKERS editorial staff these days are “How’s Tom Leykis doing with his new online talk show?” and “What’s Lionel up to these days with his online project?”  Both will be answered in detail straight from the horses’ mouths at the New Media Seminar’s Digital Workshop in New York City this Thursday, June 7.  As West Coast-based Leykis approaches the two-month mark into the launch of his “New Normal Network” online project and East Coast-based Lionel chalks up two years of operating “LionelMedia.com,” both individualistic graduates of the terrestrial talk show scene continue to gain traction on both the audience and revenue fronts as the industry watches with great interest.  Leykis tells TALKERS, “We had over 1.1 million sessions from our debut on April 2nd until April 30th. That number would most closely approximate cume. In our first week of 24/7 streaming, we had exactly 401,180 listeners. That was more listeners than the weekly cumes of 14 L.A./Orange County radio stations in March.”  On the revenue front, Leykis is also very pleased with immediate results saying, “At the current pace, we will make over 100K in revenue, but we are conservatively estimating 100K for the year.”  Leykis explains the key to making an online radio operation work is to provide specific listeners something they cannot get anywhere else.  He tells TALKERS, “You really have to super-serve your P1s…even in the process of selling advertising.  We go out into the marketplace and ask radio-friendly businesses the question, ‘Are you being priced out of radio?’  Because our operating costs are so much lower than radio we can offer these small businesses very affordable deals.  And when you specifically target business owners who are already in your audience as listeners, well it just makes a lot of sense.  This is what we are doing and it is working.”  Lionel describes his digital effort to TALKERS as follows: “This month is the second anniversary of the launch of LionelMedia.com, a paid subscription podcasting outlet. I podcast an hour daily of uninterrupted, unedited, commercial and break-free freeform-yet-structured spoken word. It, frankly, knows no peer. Every day I post news stories, columns, ideas, opinions and the like that supplement the subject or content of that day’s podcast. I’ll also attach a YouTube video of my latest PIX11 commentary on myriad subjects. To be most precise: I do exactly what I want. Let that sink in. My podcasts are not profane or blue in the least — in fact they could be played in their entirety on terrestrial radio. That, I feel, is a drawing point and basis for much of our success.”  Although Lionel no longer does a terrestrial radio talk show, he does regularly scheduled commentaries on Tribune television stations including New York’s WPIX channel 11 and Merlin Media’s all-news FMs in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago in addition to appearing as a regular guest on a number of terrestrial radio talk shows…exposure that helps drive traffic to his online media station.  The Digital Workshop will be moderated by Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service and Dan Patterson of KoPoint.  The June 7 industry-only New Media Seminar/NYC is an advance sellout.  For information call 413-565-5413.

Wisconsin Recall Spurs Question of “Equal Time” on Milwaukee News/Talk Outlets – and Beyond.  Progressive political groups are charging Clear Channel‘s WISN, Milwaukee and Journal Broadcasting‘s WTMJ, Milwaukee with violating the FCC‘s “Zapple Doctrine” which mandates “equal time” to all qualified political candidates within 60 days of an election under certain circumstances. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that talk hosts often benefit from exemption from the “Zapple Doctrine” by qualifying as a “news interview program.” But that exemption is not always a slam dunk. Read Weisman’s column about how the courts tend to interpret this section of FCC regulations here.

WPLJ-FM, New York OM Tony Mascaro to Program WABC?  Some posts on the New York Radio Message Board indicate inside sources are reporting Cumulus Media New York is naming CHR WPLJ-FM operations manager Tony Mascaro program director of its news/talk WABC. As of the posting of this item, there is no confirmation or denying of the report from Cumulus. WABC APD Chuck Armstrong has been serving as interim program director for the station filling the role left vacant when Laurie Cantillo exited the post last fall. Stay tuned.

Tony Kornheiser Re-Ups with WTEM, Washington for Two Years.  The Red Zebra Broadcasting station announces high-profile personality Tony Kornheiser renews his deal to remain host of the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program on ESPN 980 WTEM, Washington, DC. As part of the new contract, Kornheiser will contribute to the Washington Redskins Radio Network‘s “Official Pre-Game Show” during the football season. WTEM CEO Rick Carmean states, “Tony’s unique brand of humor and entertainment fits perfectly into our strong and highly rated midday lineup.” Kornheiser is joined weekdays by a rotating cast of co-hosts including Gary Braun, Jeanne McManus, Torie Clark, David Aldridge and longtime producer Nigel. Frequent contributors include Tony’s “Pardon the Interruption”co-host Michael Wilbon.

WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Gives Adam Goldfein Nightly Program.  Local attorney and auto dealership owner Adam Goldfein has hosted a weekend program about cars on Cox Media‘s WSB-AM/FM for some time. Now, the station adds more air time to his schedule. The consumer issues expert begins hosting a program airing nightly from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Goldfein had been filling in for Clark Howard on the station and Cox Radio Atlanta VP and market manager Dan Kearney tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “He was doing a great job filling in for Clark Howard and his Sunday show was getting great ratings. We wanted him on more consistently.” 

Stephen King’s WZON, Bangor Drops Local Sports Talk; Dismisses Two.  Give WZON, Bangor owner Stephen King credit for manning up and personally delivering the news to sports talk hosts Dale Duff and Clem LaBree that they were being dismissed for financial reasons. Duff and LaBree hosted the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm sports talk show on WZON-AM as well as covering a slew of local sports events, including high school and college games. The Bangor Daily News reports King told the two the change had nothing to do with the quality of their work but because the programming was losing money. WZON-AM had ceased being a full-time sports talk station in November of 2010 and was carrying much of the progressive talk format from sister WZON-FM ­- The Pulse. Duff had been with the station for 19 years. Both are receiving severance from the company. Duff and LaBree’s show will be replaced by a simulcast from WZON-FM although the station will continue to air sports play-by-play.

SRN’s Tom Tradup Makes Statement on End of “Richard Land Live” Program.  The Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention issued two reprimands to Dr. Richard Land for comments he made about the Trayvon Martin case that it deemed “irresponsible, insensitive and racially charged.” It also ended his radio program that it produced that was distributed via Salem Radio Network. The controversy surrounding the statements was enhanced further by allegations Land read them from another published opinion that was not cited. SRN vice president of news/talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “Theologians have a different perspective on talk radio than the rest of our industry does. What some see as “hurtful language” on the Trayvon Martin case is, in reality, part of a free and open exchange of ideas and opinions that is the keystone of talk radio. And by talk radio standards, nothing Dr. Land may have failed to “fully attribute” on the air or on his website rose to the level of so-called plagiarism. Nevertheless, we respect the ERLC’s decision and thus the final edition of ‘Richard Land Live’ aired Saturday, June 2.

Twin Cities Radio Personality Dark Star Dies at Age 66.  Longtime Minneapolis radio personality Dark Star – real name George Chapple – was found dead in his home in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He co-hosted the “Sports Show” along with Sid Hartman on CBS Radio‘s WCCO, Minneapolis during part of his 25 years on the air there before accepting a buyout from the station in November of 2010. Recently he had been working at crosstown KFAN. He failed to show up for his Friday show there and authorities found him dead in his apartment.

Compass Media Marketing Named Exclusive Radio Sales Agent for Point-of-Purchase Service.  This story is really about the acquisition of InStore Broadcasting Network by POP Radio and the new company becomes InStore Audio Network. It delivers in-store advertising messages to more than 33,000 retail outlets – grocery, drug stores, etc. – and provides music content to some 14,000 stores. The company is enlisting Compass Media Marketing as exclusive national radio sales agent. Compass CEO Peter Kosann says, “I have been a longtime partner with POP Radio and the expanded footprint of the new company creates an exciting and compelling media product that network radio buyers will need to consider.”

KSFO, San Francisco Listeners Help Raise $135k for Fisher House Construction.  Cumulus Media‘s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco held a Memorial Day weekend fundraiser for the Fisher House Foundation that began with a live remote broadcast of Brian Sussman‘s morning drive show. Sussman (r) is pictured here interviewing Fisher House representative Cindy Campbell (l). Fundraising continued over the Memorial Day weekend and more than $135,000 was collected for the construction of the Palo Alto Fisher House which provides no-cost housing and the comforts of home for family members of military personnel while their loved ones rehab and recover from various injuries and ailments. Sussman states, “This gift of over $135,000 illustrates the abundant generosity of our KSFO radio family. The Fisher House provides our troops and their families with genuine American hospitality and it’s an honor to be associated with their vital endeavor.

Iowa Farm News Broadcaster Mark Pearson Dead at 54.  Mark Pearson worked at Iowa Public Television where he hosted the “Market to Market” show and at Clear Channel‘s WHO, Des Moines where he co-hosted “The Big Show,” a program that highlighted agricultural news. Pearson died of an apparent heart attack at his home on Sunday. WHO talk show host Jan Mickelson told the Des Moines Register, “Everyone at every level in the farm community respected the guy.”

The State of News in News/Talk Radio

| May 21, 2012

By Kevin Casey
TALKERS magazine
VP/Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It’s understood by anyone in the radio business that the big news stories of the day – whether they are local or national stories – generate the topics that drive the conversation on news/talk radio.  But what are the roles of the newsroom, the reporter and the regular newscasts on today’s news/talk stations?  The move of all-news to FM signals, the development of more national and regional radio news products and the addition of newswheel programs to some of the country’s most respected talk stations seem to indicate radio news has received a shot in the arm.  But the decimation of many radio news departments that occurred in conjunction with consolidation still affects many radio operations and raises questions about the relevance of news elements to the successful operation of the modern news/talk station.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

| May 1, 2012

Clear Channel’s WMMS-FM, Cleveland Disciplines Morning Talent for Off-Color Comment.  “Rover’s Morning Glory” cast member Dominic Dieter has been disciplined in response to comments made on the morning show – though the extent of the discipline is not known.  A father e-mailed the show stating he saw his daughter kissing another girl and asked what he should do.  Dieter responded he should have a friend “screw [her] straight.”  For obvious reasons, a bad joke about raping a young woman in response to her possible homosexuality raised the ire of some listeners and caught the attention of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.  To the credit of CC’s local management, it acted quickly.  The station met immediately with GLAAD representatives, took Dieter off the air (for how long has yet to be determined) and had him record an apology which included the following.  “I want to genuinely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by what I said.  I regret what I did say.  My comments were inappropriate.  They were inexcusable, and just downright stupid.  And I want to make it clear; there was absolutely no intention to promote physical or sexual violence.”  CC Cleveland operations manager Keith Abrams stated to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “We take matters of this nature very seriously; his comment was thoughtless and unacceptable, and we apologize to those who were offended.  We can assure you the appropriate disciplinary action has been taken, and Dieter has since apologized on air and is fully aware that what he said was unacceptable.  We also want you to be aware that during Friday’s broadcast, he was in fact immediately criticized on-air by the other hosts of the show, and the rest of the segment was dedicated to a productive discussion about the acceptance of all lifestyles.  It included call-ins and commentary from members and friends of the gay community.  WMMS supports the gay community and again, we deeply apologize.”  GLAAD’s Aaron McQuade tells the paper the station has also invited the gay rights group Equality Ohio to join its community advisory board.

Cumulus Media and Townsquare Media Pull Off Big Deal.  This deal gives each side what it wanted but it reportedly took about a year to finalize.  Here’s who gets what:  Townsquare Media gives its stations in Peoria, Illinois and Bloomington, Illinois to Cumulus plus $116 million while getting from Cumulus the stations in 11 small markets – Kileen-Temple, Texas; New Bedford, Massachusetts; Odessa-Midland, Texas; Binghamton, New York; Bangor, Maine; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Grand Junction, Colorado; Augusta-Waterville, Maine; Bismarck, North Dakota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Presque Isle, Maine.  Industry watchers are noting that Cumulus is very happy to get the cash infusion it needs after spending $2.4 billion on the Citadel deal and Townsquare Media is happy to focus on the local aspect of small and mid-size market radio.

Cumulus Media’s News/Talk KCMO, Kansas City Adds FM Signal.  Kansas City news/talker KCMO begins an FM simulcast on 103.7 – a translator that had been simulcasting the company’s classic rock KCFX-FM.  The signal is 250 watts but covers the heart of the Kansas City metro.  Cumulus Kansas City SVP and market manager Mark Sullivan states, “This is an exciting day for KCMO Talk Radio as it provides us a platform to continue to be successful into the future.”  In a statement, the company notes that John Dickey, co-chief operating officer for Cumulus commented in a recent article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle that “having this format on FM is really the future!”

Courtside Entertainment Group Adds Dr. Drew Feature to WTOP, Washington.  The “One Minute Clinic with Dr. Drew” finds a home on Hubbard Broadcasting’s major market WTOP, Washington.  DC joins New York, Los Angeles and Chicago in receiving Dr. Drew Pinsky’s latest media project – 60-second commentaries covering relationship advice and hot topics plus the latest news from the medical world.  WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo states, “In addition to breaking news, Campaign 2012, traffic, and weather coverage, WTOP brings listeners useful and relevant information on health, relationships, and consumer issues.  Dr. Drew offers practical, actionable content that’s appointment listening on WTOP.”

Greater Media’s Philly Sports Combo Grabs NHL’s Flyers for Multi-Year Deal.  There’s an aggressive acquisition of play-by-play rights going on in Philadelphia as Greater Media’s sports talk combo – WPEN-FM 97.5 The Fanatic and WPEN-AM 950 ESPN Radio – adds Flyers hockey to their programming beginning with the 2012-2013 season.  This comes just days after the stations grabbed 76ers basketball from CBS Radio’s crosstown WIP.  Flyers games will be broadcast on both sports outlets and a few will air on rock WMMR-FM.  Comcast-Spectacor (Flyers owner) president Peter Luukko says, “We’re thrilled to be working with a partner that is 100% committed and excited about the Philadelphia Flyers.  We’re also happy that the Sixers have moved over to Greater Media Philadelphia along with us.  Greater Media is an incredible partner that offers extensive promotional support for the Flyers on all their stations.”

CBS Radio Violated Sixers Contract Reports Philly Daily News.  The reason Greater Media was able to snag the 76ers for the playoffs this year though CBS Radio had the rights to the team’s play-by-play throughout this season is because CBS violated the contract, according to the Philadelphia Daily NewsDan Gross.  The paper reports CBS Radio failed to give the Sixers proper notice before bumping an April 3 game to classic hits WOGL-FM.  Gross writes that after the deal with Greater Media was consummated, Sixers CEO Adam Aron stated, “The Sixers’ rapidly growing fan base will no longer have to set their radios to ‘scan’ to find where their Sixers will be aired.”  CBS Radio market manager Marc Rayfield told the paper the two sides parted ways amicably.

Michael Harrison Set to Address 2012 Radio Show on State of Talk Radio.  In what has become an industry tradition running more than a decade, TALKERS magazine founder and publisher Michael Harrison will again deliver the annual “State of Talk Radio” address at the NAB/RAB Radio Show.  Harrison will speak on Wednesday, September 19 between 10:30 am and 11:45 am at a special Info-Session sponsored by TALKERS.  The national conference will take place this year September, 19-21 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas.  Harrison’s address is open to all 2012 Radio Show registrants.

Rush Limbaugh Helps Raise $3.3 Million for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Premiere Networks superstar Rush Limbaugh dedicated three hours of his nationally syndicated talk show on April 13 to raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Including a personal donation of $400,000, as of April 20 the cure-a-thon has brought in pledges of $3.3 million.  This is the 22nd year Limbaugh’s program has held the cure-a-thon and has helped raise more than $34 million for the organization during that time.

Federated Media to Add FM Simulcast to Sports WKJG, Fort Wayne.  Beginning June 4, Federated Media will flip Froggy 106.7 — WFGA-FM, Ft. Wayne (licensed to Hicksville, Ohio) to sports simulcasting WKJG – ESPN 1380.  At that time the station will also add a local PM drive show featuring sister rock WBYR-FM operations manager Stiller and WKJG PD and WOWO APD Brian LaMartina.  Federated Media COO Mark DePrez states, “The Stiller and Brian show is the first step toward combining the world renowned ESPN brand with an increased local connection.  Peter Drucker said concentration is the key to all economic success.  In Fort Wayne, we have gone from seven to five brands to serve this community more effectively, efficiently and most importantly more profitably.  It sounds cliché but it is true that when one door closes another opens.  We salute the staff of Froggy 106.7 for their years of dedication and commitment to community radio.”

2012 Presidential Race, Escaped Chinese Activist, EPA vs Oil and Gas Industries, White House Correspondents Dinner, and Bin Laden Death Anniversary Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/30).  The 2012 presidential campaign; the case of escaped Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng on the eve of visit to China by Hillary Clinton; EPA administrator resigns after comments about making an example of oil and gas companies; the aftermath of the White House Correspondents Dinner; and the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.

Dr. Daliah Wachs Helps Organization Raise $17, 000 for Autism Charity.  Las Vegas-based nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs helped the Finding Autistic Solutions for Tomorrow organization raise some $17, 000 during its FAST for Kids Gala on April 28 at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.  The event was hosted by local Fox TV news personalities Heidi Hayes and Ted Pretty.  Pictured here is Dr. Daliah Wachs (l) promoting the fundraiser on Fox 5 News.

Friday, April 13, 2012

| April 13, 2012

Hubbard’s WTOP Retains Top Biller Status; Clear Channel’s News/Talk KFI, Los Angeles Jumps to #3.  For the second year in a row, Hubbard Broadcasting’s Washington, DC news juggernaut WTOP grabs the top biller title with $64 million billed in 2011.  According to BIA/Kelsey’s 2011 estimates, all news was a big money maker and CBS Radio had a number of winning horses in the race.  Its WBBM, Chicago came in at #4 billing $48 million and WCBS, New York followed at #5 taking in $47.5 million.  CBS’ WINS, New York was #8 with $42 million.  While Chicago market WBBM topped each of the New York-market all-newsers, it’s pretty impressive that CBS Radio billed $89.5 million between all-newsers WCBS and WINS.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s ratings and revenue news/talk giant KFI, Los Angeles was the only talk station to make the top 10, showing off the power of its high-cuming talk personalities – especially AM drive host Bill Handel and PM drive duo John & Ken – coming in at #3 billing $48.1 million (up from the #4 spot in 2010).  And sports talk cracked the top 10 as CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York rounded out the list at #10 billing $40.5 million.

A View Behind the Scenes at #1 Biller WTOP, Washington.  TALKERS TV recently visited the studios at Hubbard Broadcasting’s Washington, DC news operation WTOP.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison visits with WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo and news director Mitchell Miller as they show off the very high-tech, multi-platform and extremely well-staffed news operation (a whopping 120 employees) in the Nation’s Capital.  View the video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.

Court Strikes Down Ban on Political Ads on Public Broadcasting Outlets.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has iced the ban on political and issues ads that could lead to a ton of such fare hitting the airwaves of pubcasters as the November presidential election approaches.  A 2-1 vote of the three-judge panel upholds the ban on advertisements for goods and services from for-profit companies.  But the decision is rocking the world of pubcasters – many of whom are not commenting publicly at this juncture – because they fear they will be, to a degree, pulled into the world of commercial broadcasters as a result of this decision.  But the Court’s ruling was based on free speech grounds.  Judge Carlos Bea wrote for the main opinion stating that the FCC ban was overly broad and there’s no evidence the educational nature of public broadcasting would be affected, “Public issue and political speech in particular is at the very core of the First Amendment’s protection.  Public issue and political advertisements pose no threat of ‘commercialization.’  By definition, such advertisements do not encourage viewers to buy commercial goods and services.  A ban on such advertising therefore cannot be narrowly tailored to serve the interest of preventing the ‘commercialization’ of broadcasting.”  Dissenting Judge Richard Paez wrote, “For almost 60 years, commercial public broadcasters have been effectively insulated from the lure of paid advertising.  The court’s judgment will disrupt this policy and could jeopardize the future of public broadcasting.  I am not persuaded that the First Amendment mandates such an outcome.”

WOR Radio Network to Syndicate “Rasmussen Report” Feature. The vignette will be available three times daily and feature reports by the nationally known “political pulse-taker” Scott Rasmussen.  WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “Scott has fast become the go-to guest for many of our programs when we want to let our listeners know where the country stands on the important headlines.  We are thrilled to now take our relationship with him to this next level and share his fantastic radio content with radio stations across the country.”  The WOR Radio Network makes the reports available to affiliates beginning Monday, April 16.

Tribune’s WGN Inks Deal for Studio Naming Rights with Allstate.  Beginning May 1, WGN, Chicago’s showcase studio on Michigan Avenue will be unveiled as the Allstate Showcase Studio.  WGN VP/general manager Tom Langmyer says, “We are proud of the partnership we have developed with Allstate over the years through programs like the community-driven WGN Radio Hometown Voices Tour and are pleased to extend that partnership to the Showcase Studio.  The Showcase Studio has been a mainstay on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue for over 25 years and home to many legendary broadcasters.  We are excited to announce this next chapter in WGN’s history with such a valued partner.”  The sponsorship includes an interior studio wrap featuring WGN Radio and Allstate graphics and on-air naming recognition.

CBS Radio’s KYW, Philadelphia Awards Scholarship Money to “Newstudies” Student.  CBS Radio’s KYW, Philadelphia has been offering the six-week student reporter program called “Newstudies” to high school juniors and seniors for more than 45 years.  This year, 171 local students graduated from the program and KYW selected Upper Moreland High School student Gavin Lichtenstein to receive the Richard Monetti Scholarship award of $2,000 for being the student in the program demonstrating the most potential and enthusiasm.  The scholarship was named after 1986 Newstudies graduate Richard Monetti who perished on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  CBS Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “KYW Newsradio is proud to continue the tradition of introducing high school students to the broadcast industry.  It’s also nice to be able to award those that did exceptionally well and keep the memory of a former Newstudies graduate alive.”

WSBT, South Bend Adds FM Translator at 96.1.  Schurz Communications’ news/talk WSBT, South Bend, Indiana acquired the FM translator from Christian station WFRN-FM last year for $135,000.  Now, according to the South Bend Tribune, WSBT will add to what program director Bob Montgomery calls “the strongest signal in the market” – AM 960.  Montgomery also tells the paper the station is continuing to focus on news and information for the Michiana market.  “We’re still doing increased news in our morning show – trying an all-news approach.  We thought since that’s why people listen to news/talk during their morning drive, we would concentrate on that.”

Weekend Home Show “The Money Pit” Hits 300-Affiliate Mark.  The nationally syndicated home improvement show “The Money Pit” – co-hosted by Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete – announces it has added more than 20 new affiliate stations during the first quarter of 2012 to bring its affiliate roster to 300.  The program will celebrate its success in conjunction with a special Earth Day broadcast from New York City on Friday, April 20 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm from the “Crossroads of the World” in New York’s Times Square.  Tom Kraeutler states, “I am so grateful to our team for the hard work that got us to this point, to our loyal affiliate stations for making our content available to millions of people across the country and to our always growing list of top sponsors that have made this possible.”

Rick Santorum’s Suspension of His Presidential Campaign Is Top News/Talk Story for the Week of April 9-13.  The news of Rick Santorum’s exit from the GOP primary race – effectively giving the nomination to Mitt Romney – was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week and landed at #1 on the Talkers TenTM.  Following at #2 was the 2012 presidential campaign in general.  At #3 was George Zimmerman’s being charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin followed by recent reports of weak U.S. job growth and the stock market’s reaction at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America during the week, and is based upon ongoing research from TALKERS and is published each Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” adds KOA, Denver…..Genesis Communications Network’s Dr. Daliah Wachs program picks  up WRJM-AM/FM, Charleston, Illinois and WHOW-AM/FM, Bloomington/Decatur, Illinois.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

| December 15, 2011

WTOP, Washington Expands Multi-Platform News Operation; News and Programming Pro Laurie Cantillo Named to Newly Created Program Director Position.  Former WABC, New York program director Laurie Cantillo joins Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington where she’ll work closely with vice president of news and programming Jim Farley for the organization that is also announcing the expansion and restructuring of its news and broadcasting staff.  In a statement, WTOP explains, “One of the primary reasons for the new structure is to redefine the news workflow.  Instead of the traditional model which takes broadcast content and tries to fit it into a digital hole, WTOP’s strategy will focus on the creation of news stories at the beginning of a process.  A story’s execution will be determined at its origin.  It will then be optimized for all the distribution platforms WTOP offers: radio, web, Facebook, Twitter and mobile.  In addition to Cantillo joining the organization, other staff changes include: Current director of digital operations John Meyer moving into the newsroom as the architect of the social and digital strategy as it comes together with the current broadcast operation; current news director Mike McMearty becomes senior news director; assistant news director Mitchell Miller is upped to news director; Mike Gartell is now managing editor; Gary Emerling is named senior digital editor; and Darci Marchese becomes executive producer.  Jim Farley states, “We will now have both a digital editor and a radio editor working together 24/7.  No other radio station in America does this.  And we are not just talking the talk; we are hiring more people, re-evaluating everything we do and making the necessary changes no matter how sacred or ingrained.  The future is digital and WTOP will be the leader heading into that future.”  Regarding Laurie Cantillo’s joining the WTOP operation, Farley says, “Laurie is one of the best, most-admired and well-liked program directors in America.  She has solid news credentials, a great track record of ratings success in major markets and a great understanding of the power and potential of digital and social media.”

NPR Uses Grant for Digital Media Training and Multi-Platform News.  Through a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, NPR is expanding its training initiatives to increase the use of digital tools both at NPR member stations and in the NPR newsroom.  According to NPR, “Building on successful training piloted by NPR a few years ago, the grant provides for the development of extensive training for more than 70 local public radio stations.  Topics include strategies to build multi-media news operations, writing for the web, photography and the role of social media in newsgathering.  These resources will dramatically improve the ability of participating stations to broaden and deepen their news production and better serve both new and existing audiences.  The grant will also fund digital coaches for NPR journalists.”  NPR chief executive officer Gary Knell says, “NPR is a major force in media today, helping more than 34 million people make sense of what is going on in the world.  These digital training resources will ensure that NPR and hundreds of member stations nationwide continue to pioneer the use of new technologies to connect with new and existing audiences.”

Standard & Poor’s Downgrades CC Media Holdings on Long-term Debt Concerns.  Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Michael Altberg states that softening ad demand and the uncertain global economy may slow the growth of revenue for Clear Channel’s parent company and while the ability to pay the debt that comes due in 2012 and 2013 isn’t seen as a problem, the notes that mature in 2014 and 2016 are bigger issues.  The company faces secured and unsecured debt maturities of $2.9 billion in 2014 and $12.3 billion in 2016.  S&P notes CC Media Holdings is considered highly leveraged and that could negatively affect its ability to re-finance before those debts come due.  When that time comes, anyone looking to buy a radio station might find opportunity in what could potentially be the biggest fire sale selloff of sticks in recent history.

CBS Local Digital Media Partners with Examiner.com for Content Creation.  The network of websites and mobile apps that make up CBS Local Digital Media is entering into a content creation relationship with Examiner.com to produce unique content for CBS’ locally targeted properties in more than two dozen major markets across the country.  Examiner.com is a leading online publisher featuring local expertise from over 85,000 contributors, known as Examiners.  The lifestyle content created through this partnership is described as “‘Best Of’ guides and ‘Top Spots’ lists covering a range of topics including arts and culture, shopping, food and drink, nightlife and music, as well as travel and outdoors.”  CBS Local Digital Media president Ezra Kucharz states, “Over the course of the past 18 months we’ve built a platform that quickly garnered interest from millions of users searching for the best local news, information and entertainment.  Taking our vision one step further by working with a stable of contributors with expertise in their field will greatly enhance the audience’s experience.  This is not just about telling you where to go and what to see – it’s providing ‘insider access’ to a city you may be visiting or have lived your whole life that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Dr. Joy Browne Appears on TALKERS TV.  She is by far the most successful psychology and relationships talker on radio in America.  WOR Radio Network star Dr. Joy Browne is interviewed by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey at the seventh annual “It’s Time to Talk Day” radio row designed to raise consciousness about domestic violence and teenage dating abuse presented recently by TALKERS and Talk Radio News Service in conjunction with corporate sponsor Liz Claiborne, Inc.  The event was held in the showroom at the Midtown Manhattan headquarters of the fashion company.  Browne candidly discusses the state of relationship talk radio’s place within the news/talk playing field and explains the connections between psychology and all the hot issues discussed within the genre.  To view this not-to-be-missed video, see TALKERS TV at the right on this page.

Glenn Beck’s GBTV Takes Over “Apocalypse” Reality Show.  The program was once called, “Apocalypse, PA” when it ran on the History Channel last year but on Beck’s online venture GBTV it will be called, “Independence USA.”  It follows Frank Belcastro and his family as they prepare to survive in a post-apocalyptic world by such means as devising a car that runs on wood instead of gasoline, becoming expert hunters and creating his own alcohol for barter when the money system collapses.  According to TVNewser, the program debuts on January 18 with new episodes every Wednesday.  It is the first reality show to become part of Beck’s GBTV where his own daily TV program is seen.

KFI, Los Angeles Debuts New Food Show with Neil Saavedra in January.  The program is called, “The Fork Report,” and will have its premier airing on Saturday, January 7 hosted by KFI’s Neil Saavedra.  The station says, “‘The Fork Report’ will be a food show like no other food show, delving into all things edible.  The show will run the food gamut from local restaurants to kitchen gadgets, interviews with chefs to food news (like recalls, new products).  If you can eat it or it’s a gizmo to help you prepare it…Saavedra talks about it.”  Saavedra also hosts the KFI-based and Premiere Networks syndicated “Jesus Christ Show” and serves as the director of marketing for the Clear Channel station.

Katy Pavelonis Named VP of Sales at Grand Slam Sports.  The St.Louis-based sports media company operates KFNS, St. Louis, KFNS.com, St. Louis Sports Magazine, Grand Slam Sports Promotions, SportsRadio 1380 and SportsRadio1380.com.  Katy Pavelonis previously served as VP/director of sales at CBS Radio’s St. Louis cluster that includes news/talk KMOX.  On her new position, Pavelonis states, “I am excited about starting with Grand Slam Sports.  Having sold Cardinal baseball, Blues hockey and University of Missouri products in the past, I know how passionate the sports fans are here and how supportive the local advertising community can be for local sports.  Marketing the incredible media mix that Grand Slam Sports provides to those advertisers is something I am very much looking forward to.”

NTSB Cell Phone Ban, 2012 Presidential Race, Payroll Tax Cut Issue and Iraq Troop Withdrawl Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14).  The National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation that no personal electronic devices be allowed to be operated by motorists in the U.S., the GOP race to challenge President Obama in the 2012 election, Congressional leaders’ work to deal with the budget deficit and the payroll tax cut issue plus the withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

| December 14, 2011

Mark Levin Attacks Michael Savage Over Gingrich Offer; Raises Question of Legality of Savage’s Actions.  In response to Talk Radio Network star Michael Savage’s offer of $1 million to Newt Gingrich to drop out of the GOP race for the presidential nomination, Cumulus Media Networks talk host Mark Levin broadcast an offer to Savage to quit his radio program for good for the sum of $100,000.  Now, clearly Levin is toying with Savage in the spirit of a good old fashioned radio war – according to the Daily Caller, he stated on his program, “Let me tell you, that’s extremely generous on my part because he’s already going nowhere…That’s right — he’s losing affiliates left and right.  That’s what happens when you take your audience for granted and take your affiliates for granted.”  But Levin also asked if Savage’s offer to Gingrich was a “legal bribe.”  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says the federal government generally leaves the policing of elections to the states but that some states have statutes prohibiting this behavior.  South Carolina, for example, specifically prohibits offering or accepting or attempting to offer or accept money or other forms of compensation to induce a person to file or withdraw from an election.  Violation could mean a fine of $10,000 or up to a year in jail but Weisman says the likelihood of a South Carolina prosecutor seeking charges in this instance would be slim.  They would probably interpret it as a radio stunt and not what the statute was intended to prohibit.  Nonetheless, at least in South Carolina, Savage’s offer is technically illegal.

Cumulus Media Networks Partners with Benztown Branding.  This partnership brings together two of the industry’s largest production and imaging operations.  Under the terms of the deal, Cumulus will manage the affiliation and ad sales for all of the Benztown Branding imaging and production libraries and in return, Benztown will manage the production of Cumulus’ stable of production services.  Additionally, Cumulus will handle ad sales for Benztown programs including: “Roundtrip with Dave O,” “Dr. Bruce Hensel,” “The Storm Report,” “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” “The Todd N Tyler Radio Empire,” “The Bring It Minute with Tony Horton” and “Race Report Update.”  Cumulus inked a deal to manage ad sales for Benztown’s “Melissa Etheridge Radio Show” earlier this year.”  Cumulus Media Networks production libraries and imaging services affected by this deal include: Adrenaline, Ambush, Horsepower, Goldmine, Avalanche and Turbulence.  Cumulus SVP of affiliate sales and broadcast services Dennis Green says, “This partnership is an outstanding opportunity to enhance the portfolios of both companies by combining some of the most talented and creative producers and designers in radio with our dedicated sales and affiliation teams.  Benztown brings tremendous category knowledge to the table and has an extremely successful track record of delivering innovative services for stations.  Working together allows us to broaden the scope of our collective efforts.”

Cincinnati Talk Host Andy Furman Resigns from WQRT.  Andy Furman has hosted the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm talk show on Christian Broadcasting System’s WQRT, Florence, Kentucky for the past two years.  He tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter that his last broadcast is Friday, December 16 but that he can’t say more because he’s “in a precarious situation.”  Kiesewetter surmises Furman has a new deal that he can’t talk about just yet.  Furman was a longtime sports talk host at Clear Channel’s WLW, Cincinnati but exited that station three years ago.  He’s been hosting some weekend programming for Fox Sports Radio Network in addition to his work in Cincinnati.

Jeff Weber to Resign from Blue Star Media Post.  Blue Star Media owns and operates the Business TalkRadio Network and the Lifestyle TalkRadio Network as well as stations in the Stamford/Norwalk, Connecticut market and in Las Vegas, Pittsburgh and Boston.  Jeff Weber has served as executive vice president of the company for the past 10 years but says he’ll step down at the end of the year.  “I am extremely proud of our company’s growth since I joined it.  It’s been very gratifying to see us increase the affiliate base of 112 stations airing BTRN’s programming to more than 1,000 now carrying the shows of LTRN and BTRN.  In addition, the acquisition of our four radio properties helped round out a solid company.”

Clear Channel Brings Progressive Talk to Milwaukee on an HD-3 Channel.  One of the country’s more successful progressive talk outlets is Clear Channel’s WXXM-FM, Madison, Wisconsin – 92.1 The Mic.  Now, the company announces it’s simulcasting the station to the larger Milwaukee market on the HD-3 channel of Hip Hop WKKV-FM.  Operations manager Tim Scott says, “92.1 The Mic is arguably one of the most successful progressive talk stations in the country.  The upcoming presidential election and the political atmosphere in this state makes now the perfect time for progressive talk to expand its message to Wisconsin’s largest market.”  It’s interesting to note that WXXM-FM almost flipped from progressive talk several years ago but a strong outcry from fans of the station convinced CC management that Madison was a market worthy of keeping the format.  92.1 The Mic features a stable of syndicated talk including Dial Global’s Bill Press, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz plus Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes, Premiere NetworksRandi Rhodes plus local talk host Doug Cunningham.

WTDY, Madison Gets FM Simulcast.  Mid-West Family Stations takes the 106.7 frequency licensed to Mount Horeb, Wisconsin west of Madison and airs news/talk WTDY on the signal to complement its 1670 AM signal.  WTDY-FM at 106.7 is a class A FM situated pretty far to the west of Madison.  Fortunately, that part of Wisconsin is pretty flat.

 

TALKERS Offers Free Ads for Open Jobs.  As a service to the talk media industry, TALKERS is making its online Jobs section available to any and all legitimate employers with positions to fill beginning immediately.  Broadcasters and talk media-affiliated businesses with job openings should send position descriptions, requirements and contact information to TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey at: kevin@talkers.com.  Also, be sure to let us know when the position is filled so we can pull the ad off our site.  TALKERS keeps all job posting information strictly confidential and reserves the right to reject any ad for any reason.

2012 Presidential Race, Iran/U.S. Drone Case, End of U.S. Iraq Involvement and Euro Zone Debt Crisis/Markets Reaction Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/13).  The ongoing battle between GOP candidates for president in 2012, the case of the U.S. drone Iran claims to possess, the coming end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, the euro zone debt crisis and the reaction by the world’s financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research by TALKERS.

Friday, December 9, 2011

| December 9, 2011

Seventh Annual Domestic Violence Radio Row a Big Apple Smash.  For the seventh consecutive year, TALKERS magazine presented “It’s Time to Talk Day” — a massive radio row produced in association with its sister firm, Talk Radio News Service, and the corporate sponsorship of Liz Claiborne, Inc.  Held yesterday (12/8) in the fashion showroom of the Midtown Manhattan corporate offices of Liz Claiborne, Inc., the ambitious event was one of the largest and most successful, bringing together more than 20 talk media hosts from around the country who broadcast their shows live or recorded interviews for delayed broadcast.  They spoke with a non-stop parade of more than 60 experts, victims, celebrities and public officials from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm on the insidious societal problems of domestic violence and teenage dating abuse.   This year’s participants included: Alan Colmes of Fox News Radio; Dr. Joy Browne of WOR Radio Network; Mark Riley of WWRL, New York; Roberta Facinelli of “Doug Stephan’s Good Day;” John Fugelsang of “The Stephanie Miller Show;” Kevin McCullough of “The Kevin McCullough Show” and “Baldwin/McCullough;” Maria Bailey of “Mom Talk Radio;” Gary Baumgarten of Paltalk; Lionel of WPIX-TV, New York Channel 11 and LionelMedia.com; Barry Farber of Talk Radio Network and CRN Digital Talk Radio; Lisa Wexler of WFAS, Westchester, NY; Andy Spano of WVOX, New Rochelle, NY; John Harper of  WNTK, Keene, New Hampshire; Deb Colitti of the Deb Colitti Show;  Dr. Renee Kohanski of PodJockey; and Dan Patterson of KoPoint.  Ellen Ratner and Geoff Holtzman of Talk Radio News Service broadcasted throughout the day on several hundred of the news service’s affiliates. Joining the line-up this year for the first time were representatives of college talk radio with Farhan Husain and Gary Duff of WRHU, Hempstead (Hofstra University); Nichole Murphy of WLIU, Brooklyn (Long Island University) and Alyssa DiNubila of WNEK, Springfield, MA (Western New England University).  Included among those who took live and recorded feeds from the event were Thom Hartmann of “The Thom Hartmann Show;” Dom Giordano of WPHT, Philadelphia; Ken Pittman of WBSM, New Bedford, MA/Providence, RI; and Carole Marks of “A Touch of Grey” plus many more. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “‘It’s Time to Talk Day’ is certainly one of our most important annual events and this year’s installment topped all others.  It raises consciousness about a societal problem that impacts a frighteningly large segment of the population and it cuts across all gender, ethnic and demographic boundaries.  There isn’t a spoken-word format that doesn’t find the topic of domestic violence applicable to its audience and extremely compelling.  Most importantly, we get feedback each year that this radio row, upon reaching millions of talk radio listeners, really does make a huge difference in the lives of real people.  It doesn’t get better than that.  We are grateful to Liz Claiborne, Inc. for their public-mindedness in supporting such a valuable project.”

Joe Crummey and Patty Steele Out at WABC, New York.  There’s no official word from Cumulus but late-morning talk show host Joe Crummey and recently added co-host Patty Steele are gone from the lineup at WABC and it appears the station is filling in with various local talent for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program until a permanent decision is made.  Crummey was brought in from the West Coast by former program director Laurie Cantillo who left the station earlier this fall.

Terri-Rae Elmer Leaves Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles – Possibly for KABC?  Hot rumors in Southern California have longtime KFI news anchor Terri-Rae Elmer being paired up with Doug McIntyre for a new morning show at Cumulus’ crosstown KABC in the New Year.  There’s nothing confirmed there but McIntyre’s scheduled departure from the company’s “Red Eye Radio” and its statement that it has plans for McIntyre are fueling the rumor.  Back to KFI, Elmer has been the news anchor and sidekick for KFI’s John and Ken for years.  Her position is being filled by Shannon Farren, according to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan.

Tim Conway, Jr. Signs Deal with KFI, Los Angeles.  The OC Register’s Gary Lycan reports KFI evening host Tim Conway, Jr. has signed a contract to do his 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm program on the Clear Channel station for three years.  KFI program director Robin Bertolucci is quoted saying, “Tim has created a unique space on KFI that is getting record high ratings and delighting fans all over Southern California.  Not only is he number one in ratings, he’s number one at covering local news – whether it’s power outages, the eviction of the Occupy L.A. campers or the implosion of Kim Kardashian‘s marriage.  Listening to Tim’s show is like getting a free sample of what tomorrow will bring.  He is always way out front of the big stories and it’s always uniquely entertaining and done in classic Tim Conway Jr. style!”

Dennis Winslow Leaves Traverse City Stations to Focus on Consultancy.  Winslow has served as program and operations manager at Northern Radio’s WSRJ-FM/WSRT-FM, Traverse City, Michigan and its sister music FMs classic hits WFCX/WFDX for the past five years.  Now, assistant program director and host Rich Nadeau takes over his duties as Winslow concentrates on his Winslow Programming Strategies business.  Cluster general manager Charlie Ferguson says, “Dennis has done an excellent job of guiding both The Fox FM and You – FM for the past five years.  The stations have improved every aspect of our operations on his watch and we’re truly grateful for his help.”

Former Los Angeles-Area Financial Talk Host Indicted on Fraud Charges.  This is pretty much the same story you’ve heard a dozen times before – only the names, and the language are different.  John Farahi hosted “Economy Today” on Persian-language KIRN, Simi Valley, California from 2005 to 2010.  The Los Angeles Times reports Farahi – through his New Point Financial Services – promised clients their money would be invested in corporate bonds insured through the Troubled Assets Relief Program.  But prosecutors allege Farahi spent the money on personal expenses and some highly speculative investments in which he lost millions.  The scheme is reported to have lost some $20 million of investors’ money.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  Compass Media NetworksNorman Goldman show becomes the PM drive show at Clear Channel’s KKZN, Denver…..The independently syndicated Kevin McCullough show is picked up by KBDE-FM, Waco, Texas; and WCSO-FM, Columbus, Mississippi…..Premiere Networks’ “America Now with Andy Dean” adds KNST, Tucson…..The independently syndicated Burnie Thompson show is added to WBOB, Jacksonville.

2012 Presidential Race Lands Atop Talkers TenTM Chart of Week’s Top News/Talk Stories.  The 2012 race for president was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of December 5-9 according to TALKERS magazine research.  Following at #2 was President Obama’s Kansas speech.  At #3 was the payroll tax cut issue and the U.S. deficit and at #4 was the Euro Zone debt crisis.  The Talkers TenTM is published every Friday at Talkers.com and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  To see the entire chart, click on the banner below.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

| November 3, 2011

Clear Channel Gets iHeartRadio into Select 2012 Toyota Vehicles.  Toyota calls it “Premium HDD Navigation with EntuneTM” and the multi-media system is only available in select 2012 Camry and Prius v models but it’s another step in putting internet-based programming into terrestrial radio’s last stronghold – the automobile.  Clear Channel Digital president Brian Lakamp says, “One of the exciting things about iHeartRadio’s presence into two of Toyota’s newest models is that it affords us another way to deliver on our promise to be wherever our listeners are with the programming and services they want and expect — and millions of them drive Camrys, America’s best-selling car, and Prius vehicles, the world’s best-selling hybrid car.  It makes perfect sense that Clear Channel would partner with Toyota to include iHeartRadio, the leading digital radio service, in these vehicles.”

WABC, New York Acting PD Says No Programming Changes Confirmed.  With the departure of program director Laurie Cantillo, assistant program director/web program director Chuck Armstrong is the acting PD.  He tells the New York Daily NewsDavid Hinckley that there are no confirmed plans to make any programming changes to WABC in the wake of Cumulus’ takeover of the station and the recent staff changes.  Cantillo made a concerted effort to bring live and local programming to WABC in evenings and on weekends.  Chicago-based Erich “Mancow” Muller did a live Sunday program on WABC and his program was cancelled.  Armstrong tells the paper, “We have a very strong lineup now.  Even with the syndicated programs, enough are based here that we have a good local sense.”

Appeals Court Rules Against FCC in Janet Jackson Case.  Yes, the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show case – in which some viewers saw a fraction of a second of nudity – is still in the courts.  Yesterday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled again that the FCC was wrong to fine CBS $550,000 concluding that the agency was changing its policy without warning in issuing the fine.  The U.S. Supreme Court had ordered a review of the case but Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell wrote, “An agency may not apply a policy to penalize conduct that occurred before the policy was announced.”  The FCC has argued that CBS was tipped by producers that Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were planning something surprising and therefore knew of a situation that could be problematic.

Walkin’ the Walk.  KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller (pictured at left here) is living in a homeless shelter this week to raise awareness and to encourage donations to the Boise Rescue Mission.  He tells TALKERS, “We’re doing the show live everyday plus blogging and multi daily videos.  Our purpose is to show the positive side of the staff and volunteers who take care of the homeless without government funding.  We’ve had a ton of folks come down to donate cash and turkeys.”  Miller says that, like all the other residents of the shelter, he has tasks he must do every day and you see him working in the kitchen in this photo.

CRC Broadcasting to Buy California Radio Stations.  Scottsdale, Arizona-based CRC Broadcasting – owner of business/finance talk KFNN, Phoenix – announces it is forming a California company called CRC Media West, LLC and is buying sports KXPS,  Palm Springs from Morris Communications for $250,000 and a construction permit for KPSF at 1200 on the AM dial from Either Mining Corporation for $75,000.  CRC founder and president Ron Cohen says he put KFNN, Phoenix on the air in 1988 “as the nation’s first radio station programmed exclusively for business, economic and investment-related topics.”  Cohen intends to debut KPSF as “Money 1200” when the construction process is complete and plans to continue operating KXPS as a sports outlet.

Cox Media Group Hawaii GM Mike Kelly Retires.  After 26 years working in the same market, Cox Media Group Hawaii general manager Mike Kelly announces he’ll retire at the end of the year, although he’ll stay with the company on a consulting basis into 2012.  CMG Group VP Jay O’Connor says, “It’s rare these days in broadcasting to find an individual who has been committed to and served a location for 26 consecutive years.  Over that time Mike has led our group through tremendous industry change, including the influx of FM signals in the 80s, local marketing agreements (LMA), Duopoly, consolidation in the 90s and early 2000s, and the great recession of the last few years.”  CMG Hawaii operates six stations.  A search for Kelly’s successor is on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

| November 1, 2011

WABC, New York Program Director Laurie Cantillo Resigns. There are few details about Laurie Cantillo’s exit from WABC, New York where she’s been program director since 2008. Cantillo tells TALKERS, “It’s been a privilege to work with my friends at this heritage radio station and I’m looking forward to my next stop on the road.” Whether Cantillo left on her own or was “forced to resign,” by her new Cumulus corporate bosses, she’s following a wise strategy of being gracious and positive. No word on a replacement for Cantillo yet.

Doug McIntyre Interviewed on TALKERS TV. Cumulus Media syndicated talk star Doug McIntyre is the subject of an exclusive interview conducted by TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian at the recent groundbreaking Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum. In it McIntyre discusses a number of changes he sees happening in talk radio, most notably a move by news/talk hosts away from hyper-partisanship. He describes the move toward the independent middle as a “trend-let” since it really is just showing signs of getting started. You can see this interview now in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.

John Rosso Exits Position with Cumulus. John Rosso has been with the syndication arm of the company since 1995 when it was ABC Radio Networks in various capacities. He was named president of Citadel Media Networks in 2009 and joined the Cumulus family with the acquisition of Citadel by Cumulus. Rosso sent a memo to his staff congratulating them on their success making the syndication arm profitable and stated he has discussed the possibility of consulting with Cumulus in the future.

Valerie Blackburn Takes on General Manager Role at KFWB, Los Angeles. Valerie Blackburn, who serves as the controller for CBS Radio’s six station Los Angeles cluster, is named general manager for the news/talk station that was formally transferred to the KFWB Asset Trust yesterday. KFWB has been moved to the trust while up for sale due to CBS Radio’s ownership of the maximum allowed number stations in the Los Angeles market. Blackburn says, “This is an incredible opportunity as KFWB continues to show growth. With the great talent of our news teams, Dave Ramsey, Les Brown and Bob McCormick, and assets like Clippers basketball and our lifestyle programming, I’m confident we will continue to build upon the momentum shown in the latest ratings released today.”

Clear Channel Los Angeles Names Andrew Jeffries Operations Manager. The Los Angeles cluster of Clear Channel stations has a new operations manager in Andrew Jeffries. Jeffries has been head of AC formats for 104.3 MYFM and KOST-FM at the cluster since 2008. Market manager Greg Ashlock says, “Andrew is a wildly talented programmer with a solutions-oriented mindset. His diverse experience across multiple formats will serve him well as he interacts with our cluster of top ranked stations in Los Angeles.”

Media Personality Danny Bonaduce to Host AM Drive at KZOK-FM, Seattle. The longtime television and radio star takes his pop culture radio broadcasting skills to CBS Radio’s classic rock KZOK-FM, Seattle beginning November 14. Danny Bonaduce lost his position in Philadelphia at rock WYSP-FM, when the station became a simulcast of sister sports WIP. KZOK-FM PD Carey Curelop says, “We’re excited the next leg of Danny Bonaduce’s very interesting journey through life is taking him to Seattle. Danny’s experiences as a public figure from a very young age means he has a perspective on life unlike anyone else. Through the good and the bad, nothing Danny ever does is boring. Folks in the Puget Sound are in for a terrifically entertaining show.”

WHO, Des Moines Host Simon Conway Goes to College. Actually, Simon Conway goes to several colleges on a tour of schools in the region. Today (11/1) his show is broadcast live from Drake University in Des Moines where, in front of a live audience, he will debate with two college Republicans and Democrats. “These students are our future leaders, but they are also talk radio’s future audience. It makes sense to engage them in the debate right now.” Conway’s show will emanate from Iowa State University on November 15 and, although the dates aren’t yet confirmed, the show will also be coming from the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa before the month is out.

Ringing the NASDAQ Bell. Dial Global staffers pose for a photo as company executives prepare to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ yesterday (10/31). The merged companies Dial Global and Westwood One began trading on the NASDAQ yesterday as DIAL. Dial Global co-CEOs Spencer Brown, David Landau and Ken Williams, along with Dial Global’s chairman of the board of directors Neal Schore, rang the bell to begin the day’s trading.

2012 Presidential Race, ‘OWS’ Movement, Euro Zone Stability and Syrian Nukes Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/31). The GOP candidates for president in 2012, the ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, troubles with the Euro Zone’s debt solution and new questions about Syria’s nuclear ambitions were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

| September 21, 2011

WABC, New York’s Joe Crummey Gets NY Radio Pro Patty Steele for Producer/Sidekick.  Late morning talk show host Joe Crummey has a well-known New York radio personality in the producer/sidekick role for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program beginning Monday, September 26.  Patty Steele most recently worked in the Big Apple at Cumulus sister FM WPLJ as news director alongside Scott Shannon and Todd Pettengill.  She’s also worked with Elvis Duran at crosstown WHTZ-FM, with Danny Bonaduce at New York’s former Big 105 and as a news anchor at WCBS, New York.  WABC program director Laurie Cantillo says, “Patty is smart, warm, funny and she gets what our listeners care about.  We’re thrilled about the strong news background and big ideas that she’ll bring to 77WABC.”

Internet Talk Radio Company Stitcher Raises $10 Million in New Funding.  Stitcher reports it has closed a Series C round of venture capital financing, led by New Enterprise Associates (whose general partner Ravi Viswanathan joins Stitcher’s board of directors) that allows the company to “fuel growth, build out a direct sales team and drive product development including enhancing its platform for content partners.”  Stitcher offers more than 6,000 different shows encompassing news, sports, entertainment, comedy and more from such personalities as Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh, NPR’s Terri Gross, Adam Carolla and many more.  Stitcher is available on the internet, via smartphone apps and in cars via the Ford SYNC platform and the Buick IntelliLink in-car connectivity system.  Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok tells TALKERS he expects the company to make more announcements about in-car availability in the near future.  He also states that for talk content providers, his service is about the ability to be everywhere.  “In the near term, one of the benefits that the internet provides is the ability to be where the audience is.  As you grow and build a listenership you want to be effectively where it’s most convenient for them.”  Battles between providers to grab headline-making deals for unique content may come down the road, according to Shanok, but for now, “it’s about getting users used to the same benefits they have in their home and on the internet – such as on-demand and personal information – that are now extending to the radio industry and content providers are taking advantage of.”  Shanok acknowledges that, especially for talk, the car is a crucial listening location and his company’s primary goal is to make using the technology as painless as possible for seamless integration into the car.  “We’ve been able to stay ahead and differentiate ourselves by having laser focus on product and technology by focusing on just talk.”  Shanok says content partners benefit greatly by the feedback they get from Stitcher in the form of audience metrics and other data to assist in sales.

Cenk Uygur’s “Young Turks” Lands at Current TV; Leads in to Olbermann.  Talk show host Cenk Uygur, who filled in extensively at MSNBC earlier this year and had hopes of landing a permanent gig there (Al Sharpton got it instead), takes his “Young Turks” progressive talk show to Current TV.  Uygur’s program will air at 7:00 pm ET and leads in to Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” at 8:00 pm ET.  In a statement, Uygur says, “Current is the perfect home for our show.  We wanted to be in a place that is both independent and truly progressive — not owned and encumbered by a media conglomerate.  Does it get any better for a progressive than working where Al Gore and Joel Hyatt are your bosses and Keith Olbermann is your colleague?  It’s an honor to be the lead-in program for Keith Olbermann.  Add to that we will work with David Bohrman, who has been creating unique and great television programming for decades.  His vision for Current is exactly in line with ours.” The show will debut later this year, according to TVNewser.

ESPN Partners with Slacker for Customizable Listening.  ESPN Audio’s deal with the Slacker personal radio service gives users options for listening to ESPN-created content depending on which Slacker service they subscribe to.  Listeners using the free Slacker Basic Radio service now have access to an interactive, programmed ESPN station.  Slacker Radio Plus and Slacker Premium Radio subscribers have unlimited access to the ESPN Radio integration, including an ad-free programmed station with unlimited skips and the ability to create highly personalized, myESPN Radio sports stations based on favorite sports, teams or ESPN programs. Subscribers also have the option to add hourly “SportsCenter” updates to any Slacker station.

Hubbard Radio’s Federal News Radio in Washington Revamps Web Presence.  Hubbard Radio’s WFED, Washington and FederalNewsRadio.com announces a complete overhaul of its website that it says makes information “more accessible and interactive for information seekers and decision makers of the federal government.”  The radio station and web destination serve the large number of DC-area residents who work for or contract to the federal government.  Program director Lisa Wolfe says, “Our new website is the next step in Federal News Radio’s continuing process to meet the news and information needs of our busy and time-crunched audience.  Our site is better organized, more searchable and has a nice aesthetic.”

KIRO, Seattle Inks MLB’s Mariners to New Play-By-Play Deal.  The length of the contract and the financial terms are not being disclosed but Bonneville Seattle crows its 710 ESPN KIRO will continue to be the place for Seattle Mariners baseball on the radio in the Emerald City for years to come.  Station general manager Dave Pridemore says, “It has been a pleasure working with the Seattle Mariners for the past three years and we look forward to continuing this partnership in the years to come.  Combined with our additional coverage of the team on MyNorthwest.com, we are striving to maintain our status as the number one place for fans to find Mariners news and information.”

Canadian Specialty Sport TV Channel The Score Reportedly for Sale.  Sources say owner Score Media wants as much as $200 million (Canadian) for a business that earned less than $8 million dollars last year.  By the numbers The Score is Canada’s number three cable sports station.  It doesn’t have the deep pockets of rivals TSN and SPORTSNET.  Rather than carry hockey, Major League Baseball and football, The Score generally reports on sports and carries live sports talk programming.  It does broadcast some events including NBA games, WWE wrestling and pro poker tournaments.

Obama Debt Reduction Plan, 2012 GOP Candidates, European Economic Tensions and U.N.-Palestinian Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/20).  President Obama’s debt reduction plan, the field of GOP candidates for the 2012 presidential election, the instability of the European economy as Greece teeters on default and the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

WTOP-FM, Washington Entertainment Editor Joe Barber Dies at 53.  Barber was found dead at his home in Washington, DC on Monday (9/19) and no cause of death has been made public.  Barber served as entertainment editor at Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM since 1997.  The Washington Post reports that Barber suffered from diabetes and had been in failing health.

On Tour with Dave Ramsey.  This beautiful custom-wrapped tour bus is carrying nationally syndicated talk star and bestselling author Dave Ramsey around the country as he promotes his latest book, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches (Howard Books 2011).  Ramsey and company started in New York yesterday (9/20) with an appearance on CBS TV’s “The Early Show” and winds across the country through early November hitting such markets as Phoenix, Los Angeles, Knoxville, Nashville, Dallas, Atlanta and more.