Rush Limbaugh and Premiere Networks Reach Agreement on Extension. There was little doubt from most industry observers that talk radio superstar Rush Limbaugh and iHeartMedia’s Premiere Networks would come to terms on an agreement to continue syndicating Limbaugh’s show. Not surprisingly, today’s announcement from Premiere did not mention the terms of this new deal, but simply called it a “long-term, multi-platform agreement.” Eight years ago, Limbaugh and Premiere announced a partnership agreement that was widely reported to have been worth $400 million. The conventional wisdom is that changes in the radio industry and the backlash from the infamous “Sandra Fluke incident” have negatively affected Limbaugh’s ability to earn the type of ad dollars that would justify that kind of money this time around. At the top of today’s program, however, Limbaugh told his listeners that the deal is for four years and he gets no regular salary but, presumably, a percentage of sales. He said, “I have to make my numbers.” In the press release, Premiere stated, “Ad revenue for ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ has also increased by 20% over last year, and the show continues to be the number one program in talk radio.” Limbaugh celebrated his 28th anniversary in national syndication on Monday. He said in the prepared statement, “After 28 fulfilling years, I seriously considered moving on to something else, but Rich [Bressler] and Bob [Pittman] were very persuasive. I’m thrilled to be continuing. And I really want to be on the air if the Russians find Hillary’s emails.”
Former Mercury Radio Arts and TheBlaze Chief Sued by Glenn Beck. In a case filed in District Court of Dallas County, Texas on Friday (7/29), Glenn Beck is suing his former executive, Christopher Balfe, alleging among other things: Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Faithless Servant, Fraud, Breach of Contract, and more. The suit does not specify how much money Mercury Radio Arts is seeking from Balfe, but states it’s asking for actual, consequential and punitive damages; forfeiture of everything Balfe earned from Mercury since he first breached his duties, and more. The lawsuit alleges that Balfe earned more than $13 million between 2009 and 2014 and calls it “a shockingly excessive amount that far exceeds appropriate compensation for companies of Mercury and TheBlaze’s size and financial performance.” It also alleges that Balfe signed a lease for New York office space – the entire 12th floor of Five Bryant Park – for $2 million per year for 10 years that was “motivated by his own self-interest.” The suit calls the $20 million liability an example of Balfe ignoring his duty to Mercury. Beck comments on the case on TheBlaze’s website, saying, “You have all heard me over the last couple of years describing how hard a time it has been. Between being sick, turning over my company, etc…It culminates in a lawsuit that we filed Friday in Dallas between MRA and the former president. I am embarrassed and saddened it has come to this.” It’s difficult to read the suit and not come to the conclusion that Beck hired a man whom he considered a friend who was simply not qualified to serve in the positions in which he did. Scribd has the complaint and you can read it here.
‘Bob & Tom Show’ Rounds Out Cast with Josh Arnold. The nationally syndicated “Bob & Tom Show” adds comic Josh Arnold to the cast. The Westwood One program features show co-founder Tom Griswold, Chick McGee, Kristi Lee, and now St. Louis native Arnold. The press release from Westwood One says Arnold “has established himself as one of the top nationally touring feature comedians in the country. Arnold’s comedy has been heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and he’s provided material for Comedy Central’s ‘@Midnight’ and ‘The Burn.’” Griswold says, “We are thrilled to have Josh join us each day…he is one of the funniest, most twisted people I know.”
Cumulus’ Gary Pizzati Announces His Retirement. Longtime Cumulus Media senior vice president Gary Pizzati is retiring from the company and from radio broadcasting at the end of August. Pizzati started his career as an air talent and programmer and then moved into sales and management. He joined Cumulus in 1998 to manage the Augusta, Georgia cluster. Pizzati says, “The past 30 years in radio and 18 with Cumulus have been extremely rewarding. I truly love radio and all the amazing people who power this exciting industry. It’s been a part of my life since my teens and has been a remarkable journey that started from my days on air.” Pizzati rose to SVP in 2005 with responsibility for 27 markets, including two of the company’s largest. Cumulus especially commends him for “turning around several major markets and recruiting some of the best talent into the company.” President and CEO Mary Berner adds, “Known as a strong leader, teacher, and consummate radio guy, Gary’s contributions to Cumulus cannot be overstated. He will be greatly missed by his Cumulus colleagues.”
The Farmer That Roared: Doug Stephan is This Week’s Guest on ‘Up Close and Far Out.’ Radio talk show host Doug Stephan, whose daily generalist news/talk morning show is the third longest-running weekday syndicated program in the industry having launched in 1988 (behind Rush Limbaugh by a few months and “America in the Morning” by four years), is the guest on this week’s installment of the PodcastOne hit series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.” Stephan discusses his dual career (and arduous schedule) as both a broadcaster and a dairy farmer. In his role as host of the rapidly growing weekend specialty show, “American Family Farmer” (almost 100 affiliates in less than a year), Stephan has stepped up to the plate as a powerful advocate of the beleaguered people who own and operate small farms in the US, that are slowly but systematically being put out of business by the combined interests of big business (“factory farms”) and big government. He and Harrison also talk about the growing “locavore” movement that ties into this issue. (A locavore is a person whose diet consists primarily of locally produced and sold food.) To listen to this fascinating podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column of every page of Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
Nielsen Audio Releases First Round of July 2016 PPM Data. The first of four rounds of July 2016 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The June 2016 survey period covered June 16 through July 13. You can find the complete 6+ ratings numbers from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS/RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Twelve Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
The Presidential Race/Khan Family Controversy, FBI Staffer Guilty of Selling Secrets to China, South China Sea Dispute, Black Lives Matter Movement, Miami Zika Outbreak, Rio Olympics Troubles, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/1). The activities of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, including the public conflict with the Khan family; former FBI employee Joey Chun pleads guilty to being an agent of the Chinese government; the dispute over China’s claim to territory in the South China Sea; the state of the Black Lives Matter movement; the CDC’s warning about a Zika virus outbreak in an area near Miami; reports of poor conditions and lack of preparedness at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Talk Rumble Video Posted from TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations. One of the highlights of the recent TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations convention – “The Talk Rumble” – is posted today (8/2) on Talkers.com. The panel discussion was part of the 19th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention that took place May 20 on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and co-moderated by CBS News VP Harvey Nagler, participants include (in alphabetical order): Howie Carr, host, Howie Carr Radio Network; Brian Kilmeade, host Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel; Sid Rosenberg, host, WABC, New York; Dr. Daliah Wachs, host Genesis Communications Network; Lisa Wexler, host, WGCH, Greenwich, CT: Larry Young, host, WOLB, Baltimore; and John Ziegler, host Envision Networks. To view the Talk Rumble in its entirety, please click here. Stay tuned to Talkers.com for more videos from TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations that will be posted in the days and weeks to come.
Odds & Sods. WAXY, Miami “790 The Ticket” extends its partnership with the NBA’s Miami Heat to continue broadcasting play-by-play through 2021. The Entercom sports talk station says Mike Inglis and John Crotty will continue to call the games. Tommy Tighe will provide the pre-game, halftime and post-game reporting and Jonathan Zaslow, host of the station’s morning show, will continue as host of the pre- and post-game shows…..FOX Sports Radio personality Ben Maller will join the minor league baseball Bakersfield Blaze for a night of festivities on August 13 as the team takes on the Lake Elsinore Storm. Maller says, “Having been a Dodgers fan my entire life, Bakersfield baseball is near and dear to my heart. My firecracker staff is thrilled to be joining me for this occasion and I’m sure Sam Lynn Ballpark will welcome us with open arms.”
Art Bell Ends Latest Talk Show Effort Citing Attempts on His Life. Quite suddenly on Friday evening, Art Bell posted on his ArtBell.com website that he would not be going on the air that evening – or ever again, in fact – and explained that he and his family are in danger after recent attempts on his life. Here’s what Bell posted: “I am sorry to have to announce this but I will not be on Tonight or any other night, yes I am going to hang it up. Whoever this crazy person is, they are not stopping and it has come to the point that we as a Family do not feel it is worth the risk. While I think the person or persons are after me, my Wife and now my Daughter are really scared, the other night after the latest incident my Daughter was off in the corner of her bed scared to death as the Police cars came screaming up. I will not put my Family through this. As you all know I dearly love what I do but not at the expense of never ending Terrorism. I want to thank those of you who have shown so much support and it has been my joy, short as it has been to have cracked that Mic open for a last time. This was a Family decision. The girls stuck with me and still would but if one of them were harmed because of what I love doing my life would be over.” Bell had returned to AM/FM radio with a late night program called “Midnight in the Desert” via his Dark Matter Radio Network earlier this fall after years away from broadcast radio. To say this is controversial in the minds of his fans is an understatement. Chatter on the website DreadCentral vacillates between those who are sympathetic to Bell’s claim and those who simply don’t believe a word of it. Regardless, Bell is off the air, seemingly for good. The network intends to provide programming to affiliates for the next 30 days with Rowland Communications Network airing either previous Art Bell-hosted shows or Heather Wade hosting the program.
Three More Years at Salem for Mike Gallagher. Nationally syndicated talk radio personality Mike Gallagher will remain in his 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET program on the Salem Radio Network through the end of 2018 after signing a three-year extension. He’s currently heard on some 300 stations nationwide, including new affiliate WIND, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer.” Gallagher states, “After 15 years with Salem, I’m still amazed at how fortunate I am to have a radio home at this amazing company. I’m ecstatic and humbled to be continuing for at least another three years with this world-class organization.” Salem Media Group SVP Phil Boyce comments, “Mike is one of the most talented, entertaining, and informative hosts in the country. What a pleasure it has been to be reunited with him at Salem, and be able to have a small part in the next generation of his talk show host career.”
Legal Analysis: What Do Sam Goldwyn and Geraldo Rivera Have in Common? TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman offers his take on the suit against Cumulus Media filed by ousted WABC, New York talk host Geraldo Rivera:
Sam Goldwyn was a legendary movie producer from the early days of Hollywood. In fact, the G in MGM was for Goldwyn. Goldwyn died in 1974. Geraldo Rivera is a legendary and prize winning investigative reporter and media personality who is very much alive. So what do they have in common? Sam Goldwyn was quoted as saying that “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” Once you get over trying to figure out the logic of this statement, the essential truth remains that relying on and proving an oral contract is a difficult task indeed. Geraldo Rivera recently filed a lawsuit in state court in New York alleging that Cumulus Media, Inc., the owner of WABC – 770 AM radio in New York breached an oral, one-year contract with him pursuant to which he was to be paid $600,000 for 2016. In addition, he alleges that Cumulus locked him out of his studio at WABC where he already was working as a talk show host. Geraldo alleges that he had negotiated the contract with then vice president of Cumulus, John Dickey during a lunch meeting in July. However, the contract was never reduced to writing and nothing was signed by the parties. In the fall, there was a change of management at Cumulus in which its founder and CEO Lew Dickey along with John Dickey no longer were involved in active management of the company. Although Cumulus has not, as of the writing of this, responded officially to Rivera’s complaint in court, Cumulus has responded with a statement by Davidson Goldin on behalf of the company which states, “We offered Geraldo Rivera a new contract commensurate with the value of his show and our offer was repeatedly rejected.” As for locking Rivera out of his studio, no contract requires a radio station to give air time to someone under contract. All the station is required to do is to pay the talent. In this case, it would appear that Cumulus would have rather eaten the rest of Rivera’s present contract which would terminate under its own terms at the end of December rather than permit Rivera to air his grievances over the air. As for Rivera, he has stated, “It is not about the money. Because of their unforgivable disrespect, I will fight them and they will end up costing their battered company far more in damages than they expect to save in salary.” What are the real facts? That will be determined in court where Goldwyn’s comment may take on new meaning.
Bubba Lawyers Again Filed Motion to Dismiss Nielsen’s $1 Million Suit. On Friday (12/11), lawyers for Bubba the Love Sponge filed a motion to dismiss the $1 million fraud suit filed against their client by Nielsen Audio. Bubba’s attorneys say that Nielsen can’t prove that it has been damaged by their client’s ratings tampering incident, that allegations of additional attempts to tamper with the ratings have not been proven and Bubba’s already been punished for the one case to which he’d admitted. They also point to Nielsen’s statements after the tampering became public knowledge that the company was able to root out the panelist in question and the rest of the market’s ratings were not adversely affected as proof Nielsen can’t show damages. This filing comes just days after Beasley Media Group re-branded Bubba’s flagship station WBRN, Tampa from “Bubba 998.7” to “98.7 No Rules Rock,” bringing into question whether the business relationship between Bubba and Beasley in Tampa will continue in the New Year.
NYMRAD Issues Third Quarter State of the Market Report. The latest edition of this quarterly report from the New York Market Radio Broadcasters Association is a “comprehensive analysis of the New York marketplace designed to help advertisers understand radio’s impact on consumers and its prominent role in the local advertising landscape.” NYMRAD executive director Deborah Beagan states, “In third quarter, retailers effectively used radio leading up to the holiday shopping season. Radio has always done a terrific job of reaching people on the go, and is a huge benefit for influencing consumers closest to their point of purchase.” Regarding radio advertising in the market, the report’s “research on the department store, mass merchandiser, home improvement, and fast food sectors found that exposure to radio ad campaigns increased sales, number of buyers, and dollars spent. For department stores alone, sales increased by 10%, the number of buyers increased by 3%, and dollars spent per customer increased by 6%.” See the report here.
Odds & Sods. The patriotic rock band Madison Rising is beginning its preparation for its 2016 national tour with the release of its “Soldier’s Christmas” song and video. The presentation honors the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation, along with their families who endure their loss throughout the year and during the holiday season in particular. The band (pictured at right) is on a mission to reignite authentic American culture through great rock music. Its new album American Hero (RED) is dedicated to the men and women of our armed forces, along with the police, firefighters and other first responders. The band just completed a 70-city tour, and is preparing to launch its next stretch on January 9…..Toledo market sports talkers WLQR-FM, Delta, Ohio, flips affiliations from CBS Sports Radio Network to ESPN and begins airing much of the latter network’s sports talk shows. The Cumulus-owned station is keeping local personalities Bob Frantz (3:00 pm to 5:00 pm) and Mike Miller (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) on the program schedule…..There’s end-of-year programming available from ABC News Radio with programs including: “Playback 2015” with Cheri Preston and Aaron Katersky; a year-end edition of “Perspective”; “World News This Year”; “2015 As it Happened”; “The Economy 2015 Year in Review” with ABC News’ chief business and economic correspondent Rebecca Jarvis and ABC News correspondent Richard Davies…..KEGL, Dallas “The Eagle” afternoon personality Russ Martin is thanking police for their work rescuing him after he was the victim of a home invasion. A story in the Frisco Enterprise reports that three masked men ambushed him outside his home, bound him and stole items from his house before escaping in Martin’s 2010 Dodge Challenger. The men have not been apprehended yet. Martin was not harmed.
‘Tis the Season for Sports Talk Radio. Radio sales maven Al Herskovitz writes in a column posted today that this time of year represents what can be a boon for sports talk radio. With the NFL’s season zeroing in on the playoffs and basketball, hockey and college sports also in high gear, the opportunities to get creative from a sales standpoint are numerous. He notes some of the sponsored segments he’s recently encountered during play-by-play broadcasts. “‘The collision of the game’ sponsored by a vehicle repair shop; The ‘injury time-out’ sponsored by a medical group; ‘The gem of the game’ (the best play) sponsored by a jewelry store. I even heard one that was called ‘The catch of the game.’ It was sponsored by a bait and tackle shop! Laugh if you must, but this special creativity has to be acknowledged.” Read the entire column here.
Sid Mark Signs Contract Extension to Continue Hosting ‘Sound of Sinatra.’ The program has been airing in one form or another in Philadelphia for the past 59 years – the last 16 on CBS RADIO’s WPHT – and radio pro Sid Mark will continue to host the nationally syndicated “Sound of Sinatra” after recently inking a contract extension. Mark comments, “My thanks to the management of WPHT, our sponsors and, of course, my listeners for making this possible. Look forward to a big bash for the 60th.” CBS RADIO SVP/market manager for Philadelphia David Yadgaroff adds, “What Frank Sinatra is to music, Sid Mark is to radio. We are so happy to continue the tradition that Sid started 59 years ago.” As legend has it, “The Sounds of Sinatra” began with a call from a listener, who suggested that Mark spin one hour of Frank Sinatra songs. That tradition developed into “Friday with Frank,” as well as “Sunday with Sinatra,” which presently airs on WPHT on Sundays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. It’s still heard on more than 100 radio stations from coast to coast and is the only radio program of its kind to have been personally authorized by Frank Sinatra.
Bringing Joy to the Ugly. Nationally syndicated (GCN) talk star Dr. Joy Browne invited listeners to enter photos on Facebook for her annual “Ugliest Christmas Sweater” contest. She came up with two winners – both who work as interns at the York Theatre Company’s current Broadway production of a musical titled “Plaid Tidings.” Pictured (l-r) Daniel Lees, Dr. Joy Browne, and Lucas Camp. York Theatre Company’s slogan is “Where musicals come to life.”
Government Shutdown Threat, Paris Climate Summit and Tomorrow’s GOP Debate Top Weekend News/Talk Stories. The passage of a week-long spending bill and the threat of a government shutdown after this week; the ‘Paris Agreement’ climate deal inked among the U.S. and 185 other countries; and tomorrow night’s GOP primary debate in Las Vegas were some of the top news/talk stories discussed on weekend talk radio programs, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WGMD, Rehoboth Beach Afternoon Host Sanctioned by SEC. The new PM drive host at Resort Broadcasting’s WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware – Todd Schoenberger – has been sanctioned by the Securities Exchange Commission for fraud. According to the News Journal, Schoenberger admitted to fraudulent conduct in a case in which he convinced four investors to pony up $130,000 for a hedge fund he said had $65 million under management, but in reality contained no assets at all. Schoenberger began his new gig with the station on June 1 and this story broke later in the week. He was still with the station on Friday (6/5), however it’s unclear what his status with the station will be going forward. Schoenberger has been a regular guest on Fox News, CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg.
WTKS-FM, Orlando Morning Host Russ Rollins Sued by Estranged Wife. The bit aired on iHeartMedia’s WTKS-FM, Orlando “Real Radio 104.1” in which Monsters in the Morning ringleader Russ Rollins was served divorce papers while on the air has led Rollins’ estranged wife Samantha Boomer to sue him. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Boomer, who is being represented by Gloria Allred, is suing alleging defamation and invasion of privacy. The suit seeks damages for emotional distress from the video of the bit and the related social media postings. The complaint states that Rollins (and employer iHeartMedia) “decided to take something that is painful, personal and private and make it public entertainment for profit and ratings. This public disgrace and embarrassment has caused so much pain and disruption that I had to contemplate moving my family from the community that I love.” During the bit, it was implied that Boomer asked that the papers be served while Rollins was on the air. That was not true and iHeartMedia published a retraction on the station’s website but that was too late for Boomer.
Mentally and Emotionally Coping with the Uncertainty of Speech No-Go Zones. According to psychiatrist and TALKERS contributor Renee Kohanski, MD, coping with the uncertainty of “Speech No-Go Zones” can be emotionally challenging to a radio talk show host trying to strike a balance between being provocative, authentic, original and edgy – without falling victim to the often-stifling forces of political correctness that can instantaneously terminate a talent’s career in a puff of controversy. Kohanski offers several tips to talkers on how to manage the stress of this situation and be prepared personally, professionally and even legally for that unwanted knock on the door by the political correctness police. They include such measures as staying up-to-date on industry issues and standards in this regard, keeping documentation of key conversations about artistic expectations with corporate superiors, developing a relationship with a trusted mentor and maintaining a personal support system of advisors and representatives. To read Dr. Kohanski’s entire article, please click here.
Salem Media Group to Buy Two More former Radio Disney Signals. The two stations are in the Dallas and Boston metros. The Texas station is KMKI-AM, Plano, Texas and is a class B with 5,000 watts daytime. The Boston signal is WMKI-AM, another 5,000-watt class B at 1260 on the dial. The prices for the two are $3 million and $500,000 respectively. Salem Media Group already airs its news/talk format in the Dallas market on KSKY and this will be signal number six for the company in that market. As for the Boston station, Salem owns three signals in the market – Spanish Christian teaching on WWDJ, and English Christian teaching on both WROL and WEZE. Will the company bring its news/talk format populated by Salem Radio Network personalities to the market on WMKI? The tantalizing speculation that the company could provide Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh (soon to exit WRKO) with a new home on WMKI if it chooses to go news/talk, is already being discussed by industry watchers. But Limbaugh would likely cost Salem a lot of cash and the company does not have a history of paying big money for a talent like Limbaugh when it has its own stable of quality, conservative talk hosts. Still, eyes will be on Boston as this transaction develops.
WEEO, McConnellsburg, PA Hires Mayor for AM Drive. The Magnum Broadcasting-owned news/talk station serving the Chambersburg, Pennsylvania region is hiring Chambersburg borough Mayor Darren Brown to serve as morning host. A story in Public Opinion News says 35-year-old Brown began doing an “Ask the Mayor” show on WEEO “NewsTalk 103.7 FM” in January of this year and he decided he’d like to try radio full time. Station general manager Patrick Ryan tells the paper he was up for it. “Can you think of a better host for a local news radio show than the mayor? As mayor he certainly knows how to talk. He’s at every ribbon-cutting in town and champions local issues that everyone needs to know about.” The station says he’s currently the “anchor-in-training” for the “First News” program. There’s no word on how the station will handle the equal time issue if and when Brown runs for re-election.
Tribune Names Jimmy de Castro President and GM of WGN, Chicago. The Tribune Company announces it has named former AM/FM president and CEO Jimmy de Castro president and general manager of its sole radio station – WGN, Chicago – beginning June 3. The 60-year-old de Castro has most recently been operating The Content Factory which developed the Dan Patrick sports talk radio show. In the Chicago Tribune, Tribune president of local broadcasting Larry Wert states, “There’s been a lot of change in it over recent years, and a lot of controversy around it, given the personalities that have come and gone. We’re just really looking forward to some smart, go-forward stability. I don’t think we could have picked anyone better than Jim de Castro.” For his part de Castro states, “I wouldn’t take this job unless I thought that I could improve the ratings and improve the revenues and improve the EBITDA. Picking the right lane, marketing it correctly, driving some enthusiasm and some energy in the listening community and in the buying community and in the hallways of 720, are going to have an impact.” Jimmy de Castro founded Evergreen Media in 1988 and merged it with Chancellor Broadcasting in 1997. The company then became AM/FM which was acquired by Clear Channel in a subsequent merger. WGN sales manager Jeff Hill has been serving as general manager since former president and general manager Tom Langmyer exited the station in the fall of 2012.
Sports USA-AdLarge Lawsuit? Nevermind! In a rather unusual turn of events, the suit filed by Sports USA in U.S. District Court Southern District of New York by Sports USA seeking injunctive relief from exclusive sales representative AdLarge reported by TALKERS magazine on May 23 has been “dismissed as a misunderstanding.” In fact, the two companies announce they have extended their relationship. Sports USA president Bob Moore says in a statement, “Any pending lawsuit has been dismissed, and we are really looking forward to this upcoming season with AdLarge. Their connection with national advertisers and their agencies provides the opportunity for continued revenue growth in our football programming.” Meanwhile, AdLarge co-founder and CEO Gary Schonfeld says, “We are delighted to renew our arrangement with Sports USA. Sports USA has a terrific line-up of 2013 NCAA and NFL games, and we are looking forward to representing their play-by-play coverage for the upcoming football season.
KHOW, Denver Talk Host Peter Boyles Sits Out Today’s Show After Confrontation with Producer. The Denver Post is reporting KHOW, Denver morning host Peter Boyles is off the air today (5/24) after getting into what’s being reported as a heated exchange with longtime producer Greg Hollenback that escalated into a physical attack. KUSA-TV, Denver “9News” was at the station on Thursday to cover Tom Tancredo’s announcement of his 2014 gubernatorial bid when the incident took place. “9News” is reporting that station employees saw red marks on Hollenback’s neck immediately after the argument took place. Station vice president of programming Greg Foster issued the following statement: “This is a personnel matter. Out of respect for our employees, we are not commenting at this time.” John Caldara is sitting in on the program this morning.
Cakes of Crud and Other Stuff. It is absolutely true. One of the dirtiest jobs at the radio station is the job of chief engineer (or just plain “engineer” – we are not sure if most stations have a “chief” engineer anymore) who regularly has to go where no one has gone before, like out to the transmitter building to encounter cakes of crud and other gunky stuff that accumulate over time and threaten to throw your station off the air. In a new installment posted today (5/24) of his mega-popular TALKERS column designed for programming and management types who now (in today’s challenging environment) have to know technical stuff too, engineering wizard Tom Ray discusses the danger of crud, the significance of IT, as well as the importance of supporting your engineer and the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Check it out by clicking here.
Broadcasters Come to Aid of Victims of Oklahoma Tornado. Radio groups, stations and individual personalities are coming to the aid of the victims of the deadly tornado that swept across the Oklahoma City area this week. The following is by no means an exhaustive list of the efforts of broadcasters but gives a snapshot of the kind of dedication to disaster relief the industry is capable of:
- Cox Media Group Tulsa radio and TV station employees filled three semi-trucks packed with water and supplies that will go to help the American Red Cross with their relief efforts. The team also raised more than $40,600, and the count is rising.
- KYKN, Salem Oregon radio host Bill Post raised $8,500 in donations via his radio program which was sent to Oklahoma via Glenn Beck’s Mercury One non-profit. Donations are still being made via billpost.com.
- Mid-West Family Radio’s Springfield, Missouri cluster and Convoy of Hope packed a 53-foot trailer with flashlights, batteries, work gloves, water, diapers, baby wipes, and ready-to-eat food as part of a 12-hour broadcast effort in which staff and listeners donated, collected and prepared the items for shipment to Oklahoma.
- Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Radio Network show hosts – Doc Thompson, Pat and Stu, Jay Severin – have been raising funds for disaster relief for more than a day and have brought in more than $1.5 million in donations to the cause.
- Clear Channel’s KDWB, Minneapolis collected more than 5,200 cases of bottled water and loaded them aboard five semi-trailers destined for Moore, Oklahoma.
- CBS Radio Philadelphia — including radio stations KYW, WIP-AM, WIP-FM, WOGL, and WPHT — helped raise more than $225,000 for the American Red Cross’ relief effort as part of CBS’ “Operation Brotherly Love: Helping Moore.”
Odds & Sods. Clear Channel flips classic country KCCY, Pueblo to sports talk using Fox Sports Radio Network programming…..Longtime radio broadcaster Sara Kalish is named affiliate relations manager for WestStar Multimedia Entertainment’s syndicated Kim Komando show where she’ll maintain current relationships with the Phoenix-based weekly program’s reported 450 affiliates and generate new radio partnerships nationwide…..Ted Robinson signs a five-year extension to continue as the voice of San Francisco 49ers football on the radio. Robinson works for the NFL club whose games are aired on flagship sports talk KNBR, San Francisco and sister rocker KSAN “107.7 The Bone.”
Moll Anderson Collects Gracie Award for Satellite Talk Show. Television personality and best-selling author Moll Anderson (center) is pictured here with fellow broadcasters Kerri Kasem of “Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx” (left) and Fox Sports Radio anchor Deb Carson (right) at the 38th annual Gracie Awards in Los Angeles. Anderson was honored in the “Outstanding Host – Lifestyle Program” category for her eponymous satellite radio program that airs weekly on SiriusXM. Kasem and Carson presented honors at the awards show sponsored by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “America Tonight” with host Kate Delaney is added to the program schedule at WFLN, Arcadia, Florida…..“Armed American Radio” with Mark Walters adds five new stations to its affiliate roster: KENT, Cedar City, Utah; WEZO, Augusta, Georgia; WEKY, Lexington; WIRV, Irvine, Kentucky; KRMS, and Osage Beach, Missouri.
IRS Scandal Lands Atop Talkers TenTM for Week of May 20-24. The IRS’ scrutiny of conservative groups applying for tax exempt status was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Coming in right behind at #2 was the Department of Justice’s investigation of journalists and news organizations. At #3 was the ongoing look into the deadly attacks at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and following at #4 was the Oklahoma tornado. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See the entire chart here.
Mark Masters’ TRN Companies File Lawsuit against Dial Global Claiming Monopoly Practices. These companies, (usually referred to generally in the industry as Talk Radio Network (TRN), include The Original Talk Radio Network, Inc., Talk Radio Network Enterprises, LLC and Talk Radio Network-FM, Inc. They have initiated the filing of a Federal action against Dial Global, Inc. and multiple other parties, asserting anti-trust, anti-monopoly and other claims. In announcing that action, Mark Masters, CEO of the plaintiff companies, states, “This is a sad but necessary day for us. But the steps we take today are for the sake of the entire community of independent spoken word syndicators, and independent radio networks who depend on outside sale representation for their very financial survival. These independent producers, syndicators and networks serve America’s over 10,000 commercial radio stations, helping them save costs, and increase quality at a critical time to those stations’ survival in the current difficulties they face in navigating today’s national economic environment. Today, we reluctantly are forced to bring this action, as the largest group of independent spoken word syndicators/networks in the United States. In doing so, we hope this signals a beginning of the end to active monopoly and anti-competitive actions within radio’s independent spoken word syndication markets.” In the suit TRN lists a variety of marketplace operational grievances against Dial Global citing the recent demise of CNN Radio News as a prime example: “The plaintiff companies note in particular that the recent destruction of CNN Radio (which was on over 1,100 radio stations in the US and had been operating for over 20 years), going into a presidential election, in favor of its immediate replacement by a branded news operation, at the election of its sales representatives, is a telling example of the threat posed by the ability of a small handful of unelected Wall Street executives who have achieved sufficient dominance in one sales market to force changes in the separate independent spoken word market, and the threat posed to other independent spoken word syndicators absent prompt corrective actions.” Masters goes on to state, “The sudden death of CNN Radio News, after 20 years, and in a presidential election year besides, is a veritable canary in a coal mine for independent spoken word syndication in radio.” The idea to file this lawsuit has obviously been brewing in the mind of Mark Masters for some time now. Attendees at the recent industry gathering presented by TALKERSmagazine, “The New Media Seminar” in New York on June 7 might recall the TRN CEO hinting during his luncheon address about the possibility that his company might be taking unprecedented legal action against an alleged radio industry monopoly. Seems he meant it. TALKERS contacted Dial Global CEO David Landau who said, “No comment.”
Broadcasts and Interviews Abound as Talk Radio Shows Emanate from Tampa. The official activities at the Republican National Convention may have been put on hold for a day but the skies cleared and planned broadcasting activities went on pretty much unabated at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Convention Center where the RNC will officially resume today. Talk hosts, news professionals, celebrities and political commentators gathered and took advantage of the day to talk about the presidential race and all that goes with it. Pictured here is Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher (r) speaking with actor Jon Voight (l) who spoke with Gallagher on the record for his nationally syndicated program. Voight told Gallagher, “Much of the Hollywood community has ‘blood on our hands’ for taking leftist positions in the 60s and 70s.” He says he’s “atoning” for that by supporting Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. “He’s serious, he’s a problem solver and he’s been in public service all his life.” Meanwhile, XtreMedia president and nationally syndicated talk host Kevin McCullough (l) had the opportunity to chat with Minnesota Senator and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (r) on radio row inside the convention center at the Talk Radio News Service booth. Cumulus Media Networks syndicated talk host – and career journalist – Geraldo Rivera (r) meets up with news colleague Sam Donaldson of ABC News (l) at the news organization’s booth inside the convention center. Meanwhile, as Isaac bears down on the Gulf Coast and moves straight towards New Orleans…
Gulf Coast Radio Stations Prepare to Keep Citizens Informed. The people of Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast are understandably nervous. It has been seven years since Hurricane Katrina roared through this region making history and leaving an indelible mark on the lives of millions of people. During that natural disaster — and a number of others both before and since – good ol’ terrestrial radio has risen to the occasion, in many cases putting competitive barriers aside, and served the community. In preparation for the coming storm, Entercom’s WWL-FM/AM went into wall-to-wall coverage mode preparing its listeners with updates on the approaching storm’s direction and progress. The radio station’s website this morning looks like something you would expect to see from the Weather Channel. Guaranty Broadcasting Group reports to TALKERS it is all over the storm today with simulcasts on their various formats in the market that began at 5:30 am. Talk 107.3 FM began live simulcast coverage on Eagle 98.1’s 100,000 watt signal. Matt Kennedy and Brian Haldane are leading coverage with the Talk 107.3 FM morning show. Darren Gauthier and Scotty Drake will provide mid-day coverage. The husband and wife team of Bill and Karen Profita will anchor afternoon coverage. 104.5 ESPN’s Charles Hanagriff and Matt Moscona will take on coverage until midnight on the Talk 107.3/Eagle 98.1 simulcast. Bill and Karen Profita will return with the overnight shift beginning at midnight. The Talk 107.3 FM/Eagle 98.1 simulcast will continue throughout the hurricane as proves to be necessary. The simulcast will also feature live coverage from Guaranty’s TV partner WAFB Channel 9 with continuous updates from chief meteorologist Jay Grymes. Guaranty VP/market manager Gordy Rush tells TALKERS, “We are thrilled to bring unprecedented 24-hour live and local coverage to South Louisiana with the names and voices that carried this region through the likes of Katrina and Gustav.” (Image courtesy of NASA)
CBS Sports Radio Names Eric Spitz Director of Programming; Chris Oliviero to Supervise New Division. WFAN, New York program director Eric Spitz is named the director of programming for CBS’ new sports talk radio network and the company announces CBS Radio SVP of programming Chris Oliviero will take on a supervisory role in the new sports talk venture. Spitz is a longtime WFAN employee, beginning his tenure there as a desk assistant back in 1987 when the station first debuted. Spitz split from WFAN for a period in 2002 when he was named vice president, operations and programming for Westwood One’s Shadow/Metro Traffic but returned to WFAN in 2005. In a statement, Oliviero comments on the new management structure. “Eric has a unique skill set ideal for building a sports radio network as proven by his tremendous success at WFAN. Eric has been involved with the pioneering radio station since the beginning and watched the format grow from its infancy to what is now one of the most successful in the industry. His perspective is exactly what’s needed to launch a sports radio brand that can stand the test of time. And his selection for this critical position proves the value we are putting on leadership with a strong editorial track record in sports programming. We are also fortunate to be able to call on the expertise of Mark Chernoff, who is without a doubt the most successful sports radio program director of all time. Mark has been one of the principals helping to lay the foundation for CBS Sports Radio and his continued guidance will be a huge advantage as we craft programming we are confident will be of great interest to our affiliates around the country.” The 24/7 sports programming network will launch on January 2, 2013 with Cumulus Media Networks as syndicator and sales partner.
WRKO, Boston Promotes Bill Cooksey to Assistant PD. Morning show executive producer Bill Cooksey will keep his duties managing the production of the Todd Feinburg and Michele McPhee morning drive show at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston as he adds the assistant program director tag to his business card. Cooksey will effectively take over the day-to-day operations of WRKO with this promotion. WRKO PD Jason Wolfe says, “Bill has more passion for WRKO than anyone and has earned this promotion. He’s smart, aggressive, and a true leader. His efforts over the past several years have been outstanding and I’m really looking forward to working with him in this new capacity.” Cooksey started at WRKO in 2006 and became executive producer of the morning show in 2010. Of his promotion, Cooksey states, “I’m honored by this promotion and couldn’t be more excited about the future of WRKO. We’ve made several big changes in recent months and top to bottom WRKO is a stronger radio station today than ever before. WRKO has been home for me for the last six years. I am proud of what we accomplished and I look forward to building on those accomplishments in the future.”
Cincinnati Talk Host Eric Deters to Surface at Rock Trimulcast. Just days after leaving Christian Broadcasting System’s WQRT, Cincinnati due to clashes with management, talk host Eric Deters (who has also worked at Clear Channel’s WLW, Cincinnati subbing for Bill Cunningham and hosting his own weekend show) will take over the morning show at Class X – the classic rock trimulcast that’s heard on WMWX, Miamitown, Ohio; WKCX, Crittenden, Kentucky; and WYNS, Waynesville, Ohio. No official start date for Deters has been given.
Local Fan Wins Eagles Season Tix in Celebrity Call-In Contest on WPEN-AM/FM, Philadelphia. Kristin Lee of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania won Eagles season tickets in PM drive host Mike Missanelli’s Celebrity Call-In Contest in which listeners had to work their connections to urge a celebrity to call in to Missanelli’s program on 97.5 The Fanatic. Lee convinced P-Diddy to phone in and she was awarded the tickets on Friday, August 24. The impressive list of celebrities to call in during the contest included: actor Colin Quinn, actress Anne Hathaway, golfer Gary Player, model Cheryl Tiegs and musician Alicia Keys, to name a few.
Fox Sports Radio Develops Weekend Golf Show with Hank Haney. The program will air live from 8:00 am to 10:00 am ET beginning Saturday, September 8 and FSRN has nabbed SupremeGolf.com as the title sponsor for the show. Hank Haney – legendary golf instructor and author of a recent best-selling book – “will take listeners beyond the green to provide expert analysis on today’s players and events, talk with celebrities, insiders and golf fans, and provide insight on how to become a better golfer.” Senior vice president, sports programming for Premiere Networks, Don Martin, states, “We’re excited to give listeners the opportunity to interact with one of the best golf instructors in the world every weekend. Hank’s many years of experience and expertise in golf will provide our listeners with tremendous insight into the sport, and access to the best players on the course today.”
Republican National Convention, Tropical Storm Isaac and the Death of Neil Armstrong Were Among the Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/27). The Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay; the effect of Tropical Storm Isaac on the convention and its path toward New Orleans; and the death of legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Finebaum Case Far from Settled Says Cumulus. Contrary to the story published here earlier today (6/1), there is no settlement on the horizon for Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and Cumulus Media in their contract dispute. Cumulus COO John Dickey tells TALKERS the reported agreement that would end the lawsuits each side is filing against other and allow Finebaum to work out his contract at Cumulus’ sports talk WJOX-FM, Birmingham that ends in January of 2013 and then go to work at Cox Media’s crosstown sports WZNN-FM if he chooses are categorically untrue. “He will never work for Cox in Birmingham,” Dickey says. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance had asked the two sides to resume negotiations to settle the contract dispute and report to the court by May 30.
Battle for Control of SiriusXM Heating Up. John Malone‘s Liberty Media is again filing a request with the FCC to give it “de facto” control of satellite broadcaster SiriusXM. The Commission denied its first attempt back on May 4 but Liberty has since acquired another 6-plus percent of the company’s stock, pushing its total above 46%. It’s petition for reconsideration with the FCC reportedly contains additional information to the Commission. In a filing with the SEC, SiriusXM states, “We’ve been engaged in discussions with Liberty Media to explore possible transactions with respect to its ownership interest in Sirius, although we have not reached agreement with respect to a specific transaction that would be mutually beneficial to both our common and preferred stockholders. There is no assurance that these discussions will result in any specific action or transaction. We do not expect to disclose developments with respect to these discussions.”
Scott Hennen Turns to Listeners for Funding for WZFG, Fargo. Talk show host and businessman Scott Hennen is exploring alternative sources for funding his purchase of The Flag 1100 (WZFG) in the Fargo market. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead‘s Marino Eccher reports Hennen has created a program whereby fans become “founding fathers” and buy into one of four clubs – Faith, Family, Freedom, and Free Enterprise – for $1,000 (each club limited to 400 members). He’s seeking a total of 1,600 such “founders” to come up with $1.6 million. Hennen tells the paper he has traditional funding sources but decided to seek less traditional forms of funding after sensing his listeners “desire to be part of something bigger.” These fans will not be shareholders or part owners but instead will have input on the station’s weekend programming, behind-the-scenes updates and $1,000 advertising credit. Hennen tells Eccher Tea Party activist Mark Skogerboe will serve as director of the clubs and be an on-air contributor.
NEW MEDIA SEMINAR/NYC Sold Out but Agenda Keeps Growing. Thursday, June 7 is going to be a big day for talk radio in the Big Apple as some 400 professionals from all aspects of the business converge on the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side for a one-day conference containing the content mass of a two- or three-day convention. “Although we have reached capacity in terms of registration,” explains TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “doesn’t mean the agenda is not continuing to grow.” Casey continues, “This conference has all the aspects of an old fashioned ‘happening’ with a program lineup that is so outstanding, it is attracting a growing number of industry leaders wanting to contribute as speakers and panelists.” According to conference director Michael Harrison, “We attribute the positive response to this event not only its powerful and relevant agenda, but to the fact that it is so efficiently tuned to the times in terms of its affordable registration fee and compact time demands. With another one set for Los Angeles in October, this June 7 event has the convenience of a regional conference while delivering the bang of a major national convention.” Although space is limited for those who will participate in person, the content of this forthcoming NMS which will be video recorded from beginning to end will reach a far wider audience via TALKERS TV in the weeks and months following June 7. For information call 413-565-5413. To see the up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.
WEUS, Orlando to Be LMA’d with Intent to Purchase. Star Over Orlando‘s talk outlet WEUS, Orlando is entering into a deal with MultiCorp International to have the latter’s subsidiary – Rivalz Sports Group – operate the station as a sports talk outlet beginning on July 30 with the intent to buy the signal. MultiCorp intends to change the calls to WRSG and hopes to move the stations operations “within a restaurant facility” so diners can enjoy “a first-class restaurant/media experience.” The company states it hopes to expand this model to other markets.
Dr. Laura Launches Online Jewelry Business. SiriusXM talk show host and talk radio pioneer Dr. Laura Schlessinger unveils her “Dr. Laura Designs,” – an online boutique featuring her personally designed and handcrafted jewelry, glass and polymer clay art. The site offers ready-made items or people can commission custom made pieces. Dr. Laura initially began selling jewelry to assist the “Operation Family Fund,” a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families of those who are injured or killed while fighting the war on terrorism, and raised more than $1.5 million. Dr. Laura has had a passion for jewelry – making it and glass art that started when, during a particularly difficult time for her family, her then-little son suggested that a new hobby would be helpful. She states, “I never thought I had one ounce of artistic ability, and couldn’t think of what I could do.” After a listener suggested she visit a local bead fest, she says, “I walked by a table filled with Tibetan ornaments and my brain just exploded with creative images. I bought books on jewelry-making and purchased tools, wire, beads and stones and got started.” Dr. Laura’s program currently airs from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET on the Sirius Stars channel.
Dave Ramsey to Lead NAB-RAB Radio Show Super Session. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey will lead a Super Session at the September 19-21 Radio Show in Dallas being produced jointly by the NAB and RAB. The panel, titled “Succeeding in This Economic Environment,” taking place on Thursday, September 20 at 9:30 am and, as its title implies, will focus on steps radio station operators can take to achieve success in these tough economic times.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. The Society for Professional Journalism and the Radio Television Digital News Association announce registration is open for their September Excellence in Journalism Conference taking place the 20th through the 22nd in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The conference offers more than 50 professional development sessions…..Former college football coach Rick Neuheisel (UCLA, Washington and Colorado) joins SiriusXM‘s College Sports Nation channel where he’ll appear on the “College Football Playbook” show and co-host the daily “College Sports Today” show with Mark Packer…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment‘s WFLA, Tampa begins simulcasting on an FM translator at 105.9 licensed to West Tampa…..Las Vegas-based nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs has a small role in an upcoming Showtime reality program. She tells TALKERS, “It’s a one-time small part on a Showtime reality show but it’s a start!” Wachs says it’s super secret and she can’t even tell us the name of the show, yet.
Stormy Times at Fairfax Media. American media companies are not the only ones dealing with difficult financial situations. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on one of Australia’s major talkback radio-formatted operators – Fairfax Media – as it deals with corporate power struggles and underperforming revenue. Read Smith’s entire piece here.
Rusty Among the Politichicks. That’s Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated talk show host Rusty Humphries on the set of the internet TV show “Politichicks.” Humphries appeared with co-hosts Dr. Gina Loudon, Ann-Marie Murrell, Sonnie Johnson, Morgan Brittany on the recent episode titled, “The Fairness Doctrine: There’s Nothing Fair,” to discuss the “current environment of talk radio as well as why conservative talk radio has become a focus of attack by the mainstream media and liberal politicians. At the end of the segment, Rusty was formally honored with the title, “PolitiStud.” It’s obvious to see why.
2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 28 – June 1. The 2012 presidential contest was #1 on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the ninth week in a row. At #2 this week was the Syria massacre aftermath. Following at #3 was Iran’s nuclear ambitions and at #4 was the Euro zone crisis and the global financial markets’ activities. The Talkers TenTM is based on ongoing research from Talkers magazine and consists of the top stories and people discussed on America’s news/talk radio stations during the week. View this week’s entire chart here.
Crue Visits the Cannons. Motley Crue bassist and host of the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Sixx Sense” radio program, Nikki Sixx (r), is pictured here with Fox Sports Radio‘s “Loose Cannons” co-host Pat O’Brien (l). Fox Sports Radio and Los Angeles Dodgers flagship AM 570 Fox Sports LA (KLAC) invited Sixx to throw out the first pitch at a recent Dodgers game. Prior to the first pitch and Sixx’s appearance on the “Loose Cannons” nationally syndicated program, Fox Sports Radio offered listeners the chance to win travel accommodations and tickets to a stop on this summer’s Motley Crue/KISS tour.