Tag: "Lee Rodgers"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

| July 11, 2013

morganmelanieMelanie Morgan Leaves KSFO, San Francisco AM Show.  This was radio and news pro Melanie Morgan’s second go-round with the Cumulus news/talker.  Morgan was a longtime fixture on KSFO alongside Lee Rodgers on the morning drive show when it was owned by ABC Radio (then Citadel) until her departure from the station in 2008.  She worked briefly with Talk Radio Network’s “America’s Morning News” based in Washington, DC but was forced to return to San Francisco to deal with a health issue.  She joined the morning show at KSFO again – this time with Brian Sussman as co-host 18 months ago.  Morgan Tweeted to followers: “Breaking – Melanie Morgan leaves KSFO morning show. No more 2:45 alarms. Amicable parting. Thanks KSFO listeners. God Bless You!”

elleryjackWCTC, New Brunswick, New Jersey Legend Jack Ellery Retires.  Greater Media announces that New Jersey radio legend Jack Ellery is retiring from WCTC, New Brunswick after a career that has spanned 50 years.  Ellery, most recently morning host at the station, has spent the better part of his career at WCTC.  Ellery began as a disc jockey but quickly turned his daily morning show into a forum for discussion on the latest news in Central Jersey and the state, providing insight, wit and humor, as one of the true pioneers of local talk radio.  Greater Media states, “Along the way, the radio veteran was also instrumental in helping WCTC raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Central Jersey charitable organizations through on-air radiothons and different drives for local residents in dire need.  Ellery capped off his career as one of Central Jersey’s iconic radio personalities with his inclusion in the New Jersey Broadcasters Association’s inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees last year.  He also received the NJBA’s Lifetime Achievement award at that time.”  WCTC station manager Dan Henrickson says, “Jack has served our community, our advertisers and our audience for multiple decades.  We wish him all the best in the ‘gone fishing’ portion of his life.”

wbz-fm logoBoston Globe Examines Local Sports Talk Radio Battle.  Boston Globe sports columnist Chad Finn takes a deeper look at the ratings war between CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM “The Sports Hub” and Entercom’s WEEI-FM after the Arbitron PPM data for the June period were released late yesterday.  It turns out the NHLweei logo Stanley Cup push by the hometown Bruins – whose games are broadcast on WBZ-FM – was very good news for the station.  Finn digs into the Men 25-54 numbers average from the last three ratings periods (April, May and June) and reports the following: WBZ-FM was #1 in the demo with a 10.2 share and WEEI-FM was tied for 5th place with a 5.5 share; in morning drive WBZ-FM morning show Toucher and Rich were first with a 13.4 share.  WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan were fifth with a 6.0 though Finn notes that D&C were up in June with a 7.0 share.  Things got a little closer in the evenings when play-by-play for the Bruins and the Red Sox were happening.  Finn writes, “In the evenings (7-p.m-midnight), The Sports Hub, featuring the Baseball Reporters, the Adam Jones Show and Bruins game broadcasts, was first with a 13.4 share, including a massive 16.2 in June.  WEEI’s nighttime programming, including the Planet Mikey Show and Red Sox and Celtics broadcasts, was second (9.7, including a 10.2 in June).”  The next couple of surveys will be interesting as WEEI has the monopoly on play-by-play with Red Sox baseball.   Read Finn’s entire column here.

wscr logoChicago Sports Talk War Featured in Tribune.  The Chicago Tribune’s Ed Sherman dives into the Men 25-54 PPM data for what he terms the spring ratings – April, May and June PPM averages – for the market’s major sports talk outlets CBS Radio-owned WSCR and ESPN O&O WMVP.  Sherman reports WSCR finished fourth in the market with a 4.7 share against WMVP’s 16th place finish on a 2.4 share (Men 25-54 Mon-Sun 6:00 am to 12:00 midnight).  Breaking out some of the individualwmvp programs, Sherman reports in morning drive WSCR’s “’Mully & Hanley’ were third at 6.8; ‘Mike & Mike’ were 10th at 2.9 on MVP.  In the afternoon, ‘Boers & Bernstein’ were second at 5.2, while ‘Waddle & Silvy’ were 16th at 2.6 in the first three months of their new time slot for WMVP.”  Sherman also spoke with both program directors – WSCR’s Mitch Rosen and WMVP’s Adam Delevitt – in searching for reasons the stations, which were often very close in ratings in the past, have separated recently with WSCR pulling ahead.  Rosen tells the Tribune, “We’ve stuck with the same lineup for several years.  People get into habits when it comes to listening to stations.  Continuity makes a big difference in radio.”  Delevitt points out what his company sees as its strength in a multi-platform approach.  “With ESPN, you have to focus on all of our platforms.  Nobody can duplicate what we’re doing on every platform.”  You can read Sherman’s entire piece here.

conclaveMichael Harrison to Deliver Keynote Address at The Conclave – Says the Future of Radio Rests Upon the Shoulders of Talent.  The long-running annual industry learning conference, The Conclave, is coming up in just six days!  Set for Wednesday, July 17 – Friday, July 19 at the Doubletree Park Place Hotel in Minneapolis, the 38th installment of this major, non-profit industry institution will feature a packed lineup of speakers from both music and talk radio (click here for the complete agenda).  TALKERS publisher Michaelharrisonmichael Harrison is set to deliver the event’s Keynote Address on Thursday, July 18 at 9:00 am.  The title of his speech is “Radio in the Digital Age: Where Does Talent Fit In?” His presentation will approach today’s key issues – immense debt, generational and cultural shifts, exotic new media, audience measurement shortcomings, plus the increasing importance of intellectual property, talent becoming entrepreneurial, and the humanity that radio should offer and has the potential to still do so well.  Looking ahead to his presentation, Harrison states, “The Conclave is designed as a platform for learning and I intend to use this opportunity to share the experience of my 45-year career in professional broadcasting and present-day insights accrued being the publisher of two leading trades with the young up-and-comers who are hopeful that radio can yet provide them with a rewarding career.  The past, present and future of radio is primarily a story about talent.  I will talk about the survival and ‘thrival’ of talent – upon whose shoulders rests the future of this industry.”

daultondarrenWPEN-FM, Philadelphia Baseball Talk Host Darren Daulton Diagnosed with Brain Cancer.  The former MLB star and host of “Talkin’ Baseball with Dutch” took a break from his regular 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm nightly baseball show on Greater Media’s WPEN-FM “The Fanatic” to have tumors removed from his brain and the result of tests on those tumors showed they are cancerous.  Darren Daulton Foundation president Tony Perri posted a message on Daulton’s official website stating, in part: “Darren has been diagnosed with a Glioblastoma (“GBM”), a form of brain cancer.  He has returned to his Clearwater area home to continue recuperating amongst his immediate family and friends.  He will eventually begin treatments in Florida. Darren and his family wish to thank everyone for their loving support throughout this difficult time.  He is deeply touched. In typical fashion, he again said, ‘Right on; Fight on.’  Darren and his family request that everyone respect his privacy and that of his family during this period of time.  At his urging, I can report that the September 9, 2013 golf tournament that benefits the Foundation will continue as planned.”

wolfsoncarlFormer KPOJ, Portland Talk Host Building Online Progressive Talk Destination.  Carl Wolfson was the morning drive host at Clear Channel’s KPOJ, Portland before the company dropped the progressive talk format andsmithjefferson flipped it to sports talk in November of 2012.  Undaunted, Wolfson created a live, daily morning program on the internet and “Carl in the Morning” has been building a listenership on Wolfson’s internet station.  Now, he’s adding another program to the station as former Oregon State Representative Jefferson Smith begins hosting a program called “Thank You Democracy” two days a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00 am.  According to Willamette Week, Wolfson writes about the show, “Each episode of ‘Thank You Democracy’ will take a topic and cover that topic from various angles.  The show will benefit from Jefferson’s network of relationships, as well as his experience as an activist, nationally recognized non-profit executive, advisor to elected officials, as well as a candidate and office-holder himself.”

roggerjohnKRMS, Osage Beach, Missouri Host Saves Life of Guest.  It all started when “Ozarks Today” host John Rogger called author and scheduled guest June Barnhart by mistake on Monday July, 8 for an interview scheduled for a different day.  But when he spoke with her he noticed she sounded confused and hung up on him.  Fortunately the author’s publicist had his sister check in with the author’s sister who rushed over to her house to find her in bad shape.  She was dehydrated and confused and was taken to the hospital.  Rogger tells TALKERS magazine that he subsequently found out Barnhart had suffered a mild stroke but doctors say she is expected to make a full recovery.

hochmanburgerHealthy-Schmealthy, Tell ‘em You Want a Hochman Burger!  When WAXY, Miami “AM790 & FM 104.3 The Ticket” morning drive co-host Marc Hochman was asked by Miami Subs Grill to create a namesake burger to be sold at the restaurant, he was only too happy to comply.  Marc is pictured here prepping to dive into a Hochman Burger that is now available at all 32 Miami Subs locations.  (Miami Subs is partly owned by Miami-based rap star Pitbull.)  What’s in a Hochman Burger you ask?  It’s covered with cheddar and BBQ sauce and topped with Funyons!  Tasty…and crunchy, too!

wfan logoWFAN, New York’s Boomer & Carton to Captain Celebrity Softball Game.  Morning drive sports talk duo Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton will choose their sides for the Major League Baseball’s Taco Bell Legends & Celebrities Softball Game during their show on CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York Friday morning at 8:00 am.  Boomer & Carton will be broadcasting live from the All-Star FanFest at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.  The celebrity game is now in its 9th  year as part of MLB’s All-Star Week and will be played before the All-Star Game Tuesday evening at Citi Field.  It will feature celebrities including Chris Rock, Mike Piazza, Kevin James, Darryl Strawberry, George Lopez, Dwight Gooden, Ashanti, Jennie Finch, Chord Overstreet and James Denton, among others.  Boomer Esiason is co-captaining the National League team alongside John Franco and Craig Carton and Bernie Williams will lead the American League team.

Immigration Reform, George Zimmerman Trial, Student Loan Bill, Asiana Airlines Crash Landing, Egypt Turmoil, and Canadian Rail Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/10).  The battle in Congress over immigration reform and amnesty; the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the bill that would address student loan interest rates; the investigation of the crash landing of the Asiana Airlines jet in San Francisco; the civil and political turmoil in Egypt; and the deadly Canadian railroad accident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Friday, February 1, 2013

| February 1, 2013

rodgersleeLongtime KSFO and KGO, San Francisco Personality Lee Rodgers Dies.  San Francisco talk radio host Lee Rodgers – who spent the last part of his career on the radio in the market co-hosting morning drive with Melanie Morgan on KSFO – died on Thursday while being operated on for a heart condition.  Rodgers had been dealing with heart ailments for some time and Thursday’s surgery was, according to a blog post by his widow Susan, risky but something Rodgers was willing to undergo.  Rodgers and Morgan were ousted from their KSFO morning show position in February of 2010.

kochedFormer Talk Host Ed Koch Dies at 88.  Ed Koch was known to most as a former U.S. Representative and the former mayor of New York City but he was also a progressive talk radio host after his days in New York City Hall.  He worked at WABC, New York in the middays in the mid-1990s.  He was respected by conservatives and liberals alike and often referred to as the “sane liberal” by conservatives.  In recent years, Koch also hosted a Friday evening program on Bloomberg Radio’s WBBR, New York.

escarsegaronCumulus Names Ron Escarsega OM for KGO and KSFO, San Francisco.  Moving up from Cumulus Media’s Los Angeles cluster where he served as assistant program director for news/talk KABC, Ron Escarsega takes the position of operations manager for news KGO and news/talk KSFO.  Cumulus news/talk/sports corporate programmer Jim Mahanay states, “Ron has done a great job for us in Los Angeles. We’re excited at the skills he brings north to the Bay Area.”  Escarsega says, “I’m excited for the new challenge to work with two iconic stations KGO and KSFO.  I appreciate the confidence Cumulus has shown in me and look forward to the new challenge.”  KGO and KSFO program director Paul Hosley exits the company.

nms2013logoDate Set for TALKERS New York City Conference.  Save the date!  The 16th annual TALKERS Conference is set for New York City on Thursday, June 6, 2013.  Formerly called “The New Media Seminar” the event – now simply titled TALKERS New York 2013 – will again take place at the comfortable and modern Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side.  It will be a power-packed full day of special addresses, panels, presentations, and social networking opportunities tackling the key issues facing talk radio and its relationship with the new talk media (internet, satellite, cable TV) as well as the general radio industry including music radio and the changing role of the disc jockey.  According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “This will be a TALKERS conference for the new era.  Our presentation this year will be so fresh and vital to the survival and ‘thrival’ of the business that we actually are moving beyond the title ‘New Media Seminar.’  It is not to be missed.”  Stand by for full registration, sponsorship and unfolding agenda details posted here before the end of the week.  Registrations will not go on sale until next Monday, February 4 after which, due to limited space and seating, it is expected to be a rapid sellout.  Registration will be limited to members of the working media only.

riverageraldoGeraldo Rivera Contemplating U.S. Senate Run in 2014.  Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York-based midday talk personality Geraldo Rivera said on his radio program on Thursday that he’s considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2014.  He told listeners, “I mention this only briefly – fasten – I am and have been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey.  I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker in New Jersey.”  The Christian Science Monitor examines Rivera’s chances here.  Though New Jersey is a fairly blue state, whether this is Rivera musing out loud or he’s serious about this will become clearer over time.  He wouldn’t be the first to turn a talk radio gig into a U.S. Senate seat.  Al Franken did it in Minnesota.

gallaghermikeSalem Radio Network Teams with USCCA for Second Amendment Protection Petition.  The petition – which obtained its 60,000th signature during Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher show on Thursday (1/31) – is a combined effort of the United States Concealed Carry Association and Salem Radio Networks.  The petition is intended to be delivered to Congress to request that the Second Amendment be honored as Washington works on gun legislation in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

wdbo logoCox Media’s WDBO, Orlando Produces Student-Led Gun Legislation Debate.  The event took place yesterday evening on the University of Central Florida campus where pre-law students in the Moot Court program debated the issue before a live audience and live on WDBO.  The debate was moderated by midday personality Mel Robbins. Station program director Drew Anderssen stated, “Student safety is at the core of the gun control debate in Washington.  The politicians have spoken.  Our talk hosts have spoken.  But, we haven’t heard a long-form discussion on the issue from students.  Thanks to the UCF Moot Court Team, we’re able to present our auditorium and radio audiences with a truly bi-partisan discussion on an issue that will shape our nation’s future from people who represent our nation’s future.”

donahuetomTalk Host Tom Donahue Returns to Terrestrial Radio on KCAA, San Bernardino.  Talk radio pro Tom Donahue – who’s been producing his own talk show in various digital formats recently – is taking to the airwaves of Southern California on Broadcasting Management Services’ KCAA, Loma Linda (San Bernardino market) for a weekly Friday program airing at 6:00 pm.  Donahue’s program remains part of the internet Talk Superstation lineup.  He says he plans to grow his station affiliate base and eventually expand beyond his new weekly endeavor.

stockalanOdds & Sods.  KDWN, Las Vegas morning drive host Alan Stock sits in for Rusty Humphries on his Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated show this afternoon (2/1)…..WTOP, Washington, DC reporter Neil Augenstein came to the rescue of a Virginia man whose car had been pulled down the road and into a ditch by flood waters early Thursday morning.  Augenstein came upon the van while driving in the early morning hours.  He was able to confirm that man was okay and phoned authorities to send a rescue crew…..Premiere Networks “Coast to Coast AM” star George Noory is stewartmarthaprofiled in St. Louis Magazine.  Noory splits his time between St. Louis and Los Angeles and in the piece speaks about his journey from news broadcasting to radio and how it influences the show today plus more…..SirusXM launches a new Martha Stewart program called, “Martha Live.”  This program debuts February 19 and will be a daily, two-hour live program airing from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm ET and will feature segments including “Ask Martha,” with live call-ins; “Mostly Martha,” with high-profile guest interviews and discussions; segments hosted by Martha’s favorite experts; as well as curated segments from Martha’s vast archives of radio and television.

freemanedgeTALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds WGSO, New Orleans; WLNI, Lynchburg, Virginia; and WGAW, Gardner, Massachusetts to its roster of affiliates…..WREC, Memphis adds the Dave Ramsey program to its lineup…..“Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford” picks up its 75th affiliate station with the addition of WTYS, Marianna, Florida.  Lipford also produces a companion syndicated television program of the same name…..Chris Markowski’s “Money Minutes” feature is added to the Salem Tampa stations.

Immigration Reform Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of January 28.  The Obama Administration’s proposal for immigration reform was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 28 – February 1.  Coming in at #2 was the report of the shrinking GDP in the U.S. tied with the Obama Administration’s shutting down of the bi-partisan jobs council.  At #3 was the Chuck Hagel confirmation hearing followed by Gabrielle Giffords’ gun legislation testimony at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research form TALKERS.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s chart here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

| January 4, 2012

Don Martin Interviewed on TALKERS TV.  He is one of the most influential management figures in sports talk radio.  Don Martin wears both national and local feathers in his sports cap serving as vice president/general manager of Fox Sports Radio and general manager/program director of sports talk KLAC, Los AngelesTALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian caught up with Martin at the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20/11) and interviewed him about the state of sports talk radio including the local and national perspectives, where to find new talent and the importance of stations having play-by-play associations with a popular sports franchise.  Martin also discusses the impact that the PPM is having on the sports talk genre saying that it is showing the format in a positive light.  According to Martin, sports talk radio is one area of the talk media world that is less impacted by these difficult times than most.  He credits the fact that so many talented hosts are out of work as providing a vibrant talent pool from which to pick when openings come and points to the continual crop of retiring athletes as being another source of potential sports talk broadcasters.   Check out this must see video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.

KSFO, San Francisco Makes Program Changes; Melanie Morgan Returns to AM Drive and J.D. Hayworth Takes Over Late Mornings.  Almost four years after exiting the AM drive show she co-hosted with Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan is back on the Cumulus Media station alongside morning host Brian Sussman.  KSFO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to have Melanie back on KSFO.  She’s very popular with listeners and we’re looking forward to her many contributions on the revamped morning show.”  Cumulus fills the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot vacated by Rush Limbaugh when the Premiere Networks star moved across town to Clear Channel’s new KKSF with former Arizona congressman KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth.  Hayworth says of his new gig, “As a ‘recovering’ Congressman, I’ll ‘pull back the curtains’ and explain why politicians do the things they do.  With the help of KSFO listeners, we’ll endeavor to provide common sense and clarity in these challenging and confusing times.”

Bob Lonsberry to Host Local Show for Clear Channel’s WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse.  Bob Lonsberry tells the Syracuse Post-Standard he’ll make his new show local for Syracuse listeners even though he’ll be a commuter from his home market of Rochester where he hosts the midday show on WHAM.  Lonsberry takes over the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program beginning January 9.  The shift was formerly held by Jim Reith who exited the station at the end of October.  Lonsberry tells the paper, “I want something that literally speaks to a Syracuse listener, is representative of them and is a service to them.”  Lonsberry will lead into WSYR-AM/FM’s 5:00 pm news-oriented  “Daily Wrap with Joe Galuski and Kevin Schenk.”

Gene Burns to Begin KKSF, San Francisco Show Next Week After Apparent Health Issues.  The new lineup at Clear Channel’s KKSF, San Francisco began this week but former KGO talk host Gene Burns was missing in action.  Numerous reports in the media trades cite a mini-stroke suffered by Burns as the reason he’s not on the air.  However, Bay Area blogger Rich Lieberman reports that Burns did not suffer a stroke of any kind, that he has another unspecified medical condition and is expected to be on the radio next week.

WXOS-FM, St. Louis Tweaks Lineup; Former Cardinal Chris Duncan Moves to PM Drive.  Hubbard Radio’s 101 ESPN (WXOS-FM) moves former St. Louis Cardinals star Chris Duncan from his role on the evening show to “The Fast Lane” PM drive program where he’ll work alongside Randy Karraker and D’Marco FarrBob Ramsey, who had been part of the “Fast Lane” show, moves to the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with co-host Brian Stull for the newly named “Stully & Rammer” show.  Ramsey also maintains his role as voice of the St. Louis Billikens calling St. Louis University men’s basketball games on the station.  Program director Kent Sterling states, “We are excited to put Chris Duncan on ‘The Fast Lane.’  He is a unique communicator with an incredible work ethic, and a great guy.  He has lived a life in the eye of the sports hurricane and he speaks with an authority that is captivating.  Media is all about finding great communicators and Chris is one of the most gifted in America.”

CBS Radio Announces Debut of DC All-News Outlet.  CBS Radio’s all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will hit the airwaves on January 19 and will feature the following talent lineup: Bill Rehkopf and Amy Morris in AM drive, Jenny Glick and Chas Henry in middays, Evan Haning and Nancy Lyons in PM drive, and Sarah Jacobs and Cheryl Simone in evenings.  Program director Robert Sanchez says of the new station, “We are very excited to have put together such a great group of professionals who have spent many years covering local and national news.  Each brings a specialty to WNEW creating a great team which will deliver important and compelling news that matters to local residents.  When Washington needs to know, this team will have them covered.”

Rob Williams New OM/PD at WQRT, Cincinnati; New PM Drive Show Debuts.  The Florence, Kentucky-licensed talk station owned by Christian Broadcasting System Ltd. names former Clear Channel programmer Rob Williams operations manager and program director for “Real Talk 1160” – WQRT.  Williams replaces Cary Pall.  At the same time, as talk host Andy Furman begins his new position hosting morning drive on the Fox Sports Radio Network, he leaves WQRT and makes way for “The Other Guys” afternoon sports talk show featuring Fox Sports Ohio’s Jeff Piecoro, former producer and co-host of the Furman show Rick “the Brick” Wall, and Metro NetworksJeremy “J-Lance” Lance.

Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Fracking-Related Earthquakes and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/3).  The GOP Iowa Caucuses held yesterday, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and warnings to the U.S. about carriers in the region, reports of earthquakes in Northeastern Ohio thought to be related to oil and gas fracking and the first financial markets activity of the new year were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Mona Lipschitz Debuts New Column.  Full of gossip, rumors, personal asides and unbridled opinion about the industry and the people in it, Mona Lipschitz debuts her new column “Straight from The Lip” today at Talkers.com.  In it she offers some keen insights about recent changes at Merlin Media and Cumulus Media as well as some pointed advice for Anderson Cooper.  Mona has been the news editor of TALKERS magazine for the past 21 years and she knows where all the bodies are buried in this business.  Let the dishing begin!  To read the first installment of “Straight from The Lip,” click here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

| January 3, 2012

Walter Sabo Leaves COO Position at Merlin Media.  Noted radio consultant Walter Sabo has parted ways with Randy Michaels Merlin Media, the heavily venture capital-backed firm that acquired a majority share of three radio stations this past summer from Jeff Smulyan’sEmmis Broadcasting including WEMP-FM, New York and WWWN-FM, Chicago and is in the process of picking up a fourth from Harold Camping’s Family Broadcasting – WKDN-FM, in the Philadelphia market.  Merlin launched a relatively experimental all-news format at these stations targeted to what Sabo described as “working families” with an emphasis on the 25-54 female demographic.  The stations (FM News 101.9 in New York and FM News 101.1 in Chicago) received a tremendous amount of attention (and intense scrutiny) in the media before, during and after their launch prompted by former Tribune Company CEO Michaels’ negatively colorful and controversial profile, in addition to the fact that they were taking a startlingly innovative and youthful approach to delivering the all-news format.  Sabo was recruited to serve as architect of this approach due to his impeccable reputation as a longtime champion of the concept of targeting female listeners on FM and proven track record for success with spoken word on FM as a longtime consultant for WKXW-FM, Trenton (New Jersey 101.5).  When a notable rise in ratings failed to materialize in immediately subsequent survey periods coupled with widespread criticism by radio industry observers of the stations’ formats and execution – further exacerbated by Michaels receiving negative publicity in the midst of all this for being arrested on DUI charges – the heat was on and Michaels began facing enormous internal and external pressure to modify the programming approach.  He succumbed and the Merlin stations began moving in a more traditional all-news direction putting them in head-to-head competition with CBS’s long-established, traditional and wildly successful all-news outlets in New York and Chicago (WINS, WCBS and WBBM).  With this repositioning, the challenge of competing against successful, established news outlets has not produced increased ratings and the Merlin all-news initiative has become prematurely tagged throughout the industry as a monumental failure.  Sabo’s withdrawal from day-to-day operational and programming decisions, including his subsequent departure from Merlin, has been quietly happening below the radar for some time now.  Up until this article’s publication (1/2), there has been no official press release, acknowledgement or statement from either Merlin or Sabo confirming or commenting on his exit.  However,TALKERS sources inside Merlin and close to Sabo confirm that it is indeed true with Sabo telling TALKERS,“At this time my work with Merlin is complete.  The primary job was to build the most competitive team on and off the air – Merlin has the best.  Our initiatives gave investors the confidence to buy a station in a third market and grow the company.  GTCR deserves enormous credit for investing in the radio medium.  FM spoken-word is so hot that the demand for Sabo Media services has never been greater.  Our clients find that our decades of experience in the FM talk format protects their investment and shortens the profit horizon.  More importantly my beautiful wife Katie is seven months pregnant during the holidays.  That’s the news.”  Sabo will continue to serve as CEO of his consulting firm Sabo Media and internet branding and marketing company, HitViews.

Fox Sports Radio Network Debuts New Morning Program Featuring Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins.  Today is the debut of Fox Sports Radio Network’s new morning show – “Fox Sports Daybreak” – heard from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and featuring former Cincinnati sports talk host Andy Furman and retired NFL defensive back Artrell Hawkins.  Furman’s resume includes an 18-year run hosting “Sports Talk” at WLW, Cincinnati and, recently, the PM drive show at WQRT, Cincinnati.  Hawkins is a contributor to the Cincinnati Bengals Radio Network.  Furman has been hosting a weekend show with former NFL star Lincoln Kennedy for more than a year and that Sunday evening program with Furman and Kennedy will continue.  Fox Sports Radio VP/GM Don Martin states, “We couldn’t be happier to have Andy and Artrell hosting our new morning drive program.  The combination of a sports talk pro like Andy and a former professional football player like Artrell will be a great addition to our weekday lineup.”  Fox Sports Daybreak replaces the Zakk and Jack program on the FSRN schedule.

Cumulus Media Flips WMTI-FM, New Orleans from Oldies to Sports Talk.  The Big Easy gets a new sports talk outlet as Cumulus Media drops the oldies on WMTI-FM and goes sports talk with programming from Fox Sports Radio Network, Premiere NetworksJim Rome and a PM drive show hosted by New Orleans Hornets broadcaster Gerry Vaillancourt.

New FM Talk Outlet for Little Rock.  Crain Media Group drops the active rock on KKSP-FM, Bryant, Arkansas (located to the Northwest of Little Rock) and debuts a talk format it’s calling “Fresh Talk 93.3.”  The lineup includes market news personality Neal Gladner in morning drive, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham, Dial Global’s Clark Howard, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” and more.

Progressive Talk Appears on WVKO, Columbus.  The station at 1580 AM is owned by Bernard Ohio LLC and its website indicates it’s doing business as Clear Conscience Communications.  The progressive talk lineup that debuted on January 2 includes Dial Global’s Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann and Bill Press plus Mike Malloy and Leslie Marshall.

Chris Schoenewald Exits Virginia-Based “Daily Constitutional” Program.  The regionally syndicated “Daily Constitutional” – based out of WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia and co-hosted by Joe Thomas and Chris Schoenewald – is undergoing changes as Schoenewald is leaving the program to run for office.  He plans to announce which office he’ll seek soon.  Thomas tells TALKERS the program will continue.  “Adam Forster of Virginia Living Television and private investigator/TV anchor Nikki Lewis will be purchasing Schoenewald’s share and we’re hopeful to continue to grow and help stations in this area program locally oriented talk while freeing up their resources for news and marketing efforts.”  The “Daily Constitutional” airs live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET.  In addition, Thomas hosts the morning drive program on WCHV-AM/FM.

Sam Malone in Israel.  KSEV, Houston morning host Sam Malone is pictured here inspecting the cockpit of an Israeli F-16 during a tour of the Hatzor Air Force Base while on a trip to Israel.  Malone broadcast his program live back to his Houston audience (via the very capable technology of the Comrex ACCESS) during which he interviewed numerous Houstonians serving in the IDF, important Israeli media figures and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.  Malone tells TALKERS magazine his audience loved the content and his marketing department was able to get the broadcast event sponsored.

Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Holiday Sports Action and New Year Retrospectives Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/2).  Today’s Iowa Caucuses for GOP candidates, the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian leadership, college and pro holiday sports action and 2011 retrospectives were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.