Tag: "Lew Dickey"
TRN Companies and Cumulus Media Announce Amicable Westwood One Settlement. TRN Companies and Cumulus Media announced late Friday afternoon (3/7) that they have agreed to settle outstanding claims arising during previous ownership of WestwoodOne, acquired by Cumulus Media in December, 2013. Lew Dickey, president and CEO of Cumulus Media, said, “While Cumulus Media had no role in the lawsuits filed by TRN Companies, we are pleased to resolve these claims and move forward together. We remain supportive of each other and are optimistic for the future.” Mark Masters, CEO of TRN Companies, said: “We are pleased to ‘turn the page’ with the new owners of WestwoodOne and have put past issues behind us. As we build bridges together, we look forward to a mutually beneficial future working with our affiliated stations, customers, Lew and John Dickey and Cumulus Media.”
Emmis to Reward Employees with Stock. The company states that as part of its 2012 Employee Retention Plan, roughly 75% of its full-time employees are being notified they are eligible to receive what it is saying is “a sizeable stock award.” The company further states, “Emmis prides itself on being a destination employer in the media and digital industries, and as such, places a high value on cultivating a culture that allows us to attract and retain the best talent in our industries. The third of Emmis’ Eleven Commandments states: Be good to your people – get them into the game and give them a piece of the pie.” Eligible employees will receive a pro-rata share of approximately 976,000 shares of Emmis Communications common stock. Using Friday’s closing price, the 976,000 shares in the Retention Plan will deliver $3,240,000 in value to the 598 employees who qualify for the plan. To ensure a broad-based distribution, the Plan excluded executive officers and capped the level of salary credit at $50,000. As an example of the award size, a full-time employee of Emmis who has been with the company since April 2, 2012, with a salary of $40,000 per year will get approximately 1,480 shares. That equates to a market value of $4913.60, using the closing price last Friday, March 7 of $3.32. The awards will vest on April 2, 2014 and will be distributed to employees shortly thereafter. It will be their choice whether to hold or sell the stock.
KSFO, San Francisco Names Hughes Late Morning Host. Cumulus Media’s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco has been trying out talk show hosts in the late morning slot (billed on the station’s website as “KSFO Talk Show”) for the past several months. Now, the station names Spencer Hughes permanent host of the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Hughes’ resume includes stops at talk stations across America including WRKO, Boston; KGO, San Francisco; KTKZ, Sacramento; and KSRO, Santa Rosa.
WGN VP/GM Jimmy de Castro Talks Radio and More. The vice president and general manager of Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago and the new sports talk WGWG “The Game 87.7” spoke candidly with the Chicago Sun-Times for its online video feature “The Sit Down.” In the interview, de Castro throws out a number quips that’ll interest industry watchers. For example, he’s not trying to bring young listeners to WGN, “I don’t want a younger audience for ’GN. I want 35- to 65- or 70-year-old people.” He says he hasn’t committed a lot of money to his staff. “I don’t have one contract with one person on our station. Not one. They’re all here because of how they feel. Any time they want, they can walk out the door.” The one-time WLUP-FM leader also talks about his career and how he views life after all of his success. See it here.
Jack Roberts Dies at 62. Radio executive/on-air personality Jack Roberts died this past weekend in Los Angeles. Over the course of his career, the 62-year-old Roberts was a general manager, program director, on-air talk host, and producer. Most recently, the Boston College graduate and Massachusetts native was executive producer for CRN Digital Talk Radio programming, including “What’s Cookin’ Today.” CRN chief executive officer Michael Horn comments, “Jack truly understood and loved radio. He became an instant, caring friend to everyone he encountered.” Roberts thought he could get any guest or celebrity, and Horn remarks, “He almost always booked them. Guests and talent, but most especially the listeners, enjoyed what they heard. Jack’s legacy will live on through them and all of us. That would make him very proud.” Roberts was a senior producer on syndicated radio programs hosted by Dick Cavett, and Colonel Oliver North. He was in charge of production for “The Jerry Williams Show” and “The Doug Stephan Show.” His on-air experience includes stops at Boston’s WRKO, WMEX and WXKS; WPRO, Providence; and WDRC, Hartford – where he became general manager and program director. Roberts held those titles at WWRC, Washington, DC as well. Programmer Ron Jacobs writes, “Jack Roberts is great at shining the spotlight on others and not blowing his own horn.” Funeral services are pending for Roberts, who wrote a radio-themed blog – “HollywoodHillsGroup.com” - that highlighted industry achievements and gave publicity to on-air talent.
Twin Cities Star Tom Barnard Talks Podcasting in Profile Piece. Morning radio personality Tom Barnard – a 43-year Minneapolis-St. Paul market icon – is profiled by the Minneapolis Post. The star of Cumulus’ rock KQRS speaks about numerous topics – the death of the voice-over business, his rise to fame, and his decision to get more political after 9/11 – in the story and explains his separate business producing and selling ad time for his daily two-hour podcast. Barnard tells the Post that although he billed roughly $250,000 in 2013, the show is not in the black due to expenses including salaries and the cost of bandwidth. Barnard and partner Don Shelby (former WCCO personality) are not collecting a salary at this point. Barnard’s decision to sell ad time and not charge for subscriptions as well as to go after local ad dollars, flies in the face of the way many of the high-profile podcasters are doing it (think Tom Leykis and Adam Carolla). Read the entire Post story here.
Odds & Sods. In the Duluth market, Midwest Communications flips standards WGEE, Superior, Wisconsin to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio programming…..Sports radio pro Seth Everett becomes part of the New York Mets broadcasts on Clear Channel’s WOR, New York this season where he’ll be hosting the pre- and post-game programs…..Charlotte Knights minor league baseball will air on Greater Media’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte this summer as the station will carry 10 Saturday night home games and two Friday evening home games.
Chris Stigall Broadcasts from CPAC. The annual Washington, DC gathering of conservative politicians dubbed the Conservative Political Action Conference involves an active radio row and WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive host Chris Stigall (right) was in the middle of all the action last week as he broadcast his show from the event. He’s pictured here interviewing former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton (left).
WVBR Returns To Collegetown (Ithaca) in New, High Tech Studio Station to Hold March 15th Dedication Ceremony – Keith Olbermann Makes Major Donation. Proving that grassroots terrestrial radio is alive and well, WVBR-FM is returning home to Collegetown (a proud name sported by downtown Ithaca, New York – home of Cornell University and Ithaca College – per its reputation as being one of the best college towns in America) after a 14-year absence, with a newly-built, state-of-the-art studio. The new studio is located at 604 East Buffalo Street in Ithaca, next to the Carriage House Café and across from The Connection, Loco Cantina, and the Chapter House. WVBR has operated out of 957 Mitchell Street near East Hill Plaza after leaving its longtime home at 227 Linden Avenue in Collegetown in 2000. It will be officially dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to take place this coming Saturday (3/15). WVBR-FM is a commercial, non-profit radio station that is owned and fully operated by the Cornell Radio Guild, a group of Cornell University students. Since 1935, this group’s stated mission has been running a radio station with the goal of training students in broadcasting. Since 1968, WVBR has been serving Ithaca and Tompkins Counties playing an eclectic mix of classic and modern rock under the banner, “Real Rock Radio.” WVBR broadcasts over 93.5 FM and 105.5 FM to Tompkins County and the surrounding area. The newly named Olbermann-Corneliess Studios was purchased with donations from station alumni, most notably ESPN host Keith Olbermann. Olbermann gave what has been described by station management as “a generous donation” with a request that WVBR’s new home studio be named in honor of his late father Theodore Olbermann, as well as the late Glenn Corneliess, his colleague during his years at WVBR who passed away in 1996. Olbermann, the Corneliess family, and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick will be among those on hand for the dedication, as well as many station alumni, current staff, and management. A brand new set of professional equipment, a large vinyl library, a live performance space, three soundproof production booths, and two advanced on-air studios are some of the many highlights of the new space. “There is no doubt in my mind that 604 East Buffalo Street will feature the best college radio setup in the country,” says Drew Endick, president of the Cornell Radio Guild, Inc. and general manager of WVBR, telling RadioInfo, “We have been trying to expand our content production operations and provide better services for the local community, and we now have the facilities to meet these challenges.” The new studio will be home to two radio stations – WVBR, which broadcasts with a rock format over FM, as well as CornellRadio.com, which is being launched as a more student-centric, freeform online station. CornellRadio.com will feature pop, hip-hop, dance, and alternative music, as well as talk shows, comedy programming, and sports content provided by a partnership with the Big Red Sports Network. Each station will have its own cutting-edge studio within the building. “This move is extremely important to the goals of our station,” says Michael Mallon, senior vice president of communications. “The latest technology will not only allow us to create better content for our listeners, but it will also allow the students of Cornell University to learn and train on the same equipment as is used in the big stations in major cities.” The move is also significant as the station will now be a close walk for most students. “It’s a perfect location for us, both physically and symbolically,” Mallon continues, “The station is right between the students who operate the station, and the Ithacans who make up most of our listenership.” ASI Renovations managed the huge project. The space was already in great condition, but the design presented some big technical challenges. Sherpa Technologies wired the building for radio operations. Students and weekend staff led the move, bringing over the entire vinyl and CD collections, as well as other important articles from the old station.
Chattin’ with a Legend. WFTL, Fort Lauderdale late morning talk host Rich Stevens (right) entertains legendary disc jockey Cousin Brucie (left) in the station’s studios. Stevens tells TALKERS the pair chatted about numerous topics and took calls from listeners. While speaking with callers, a 92-year-old local listener phoned in to tell Cousin Brucie he remembers winning a contest 40 years ago that Cousin Brucie executed that sent him on a vacation. Brucie asked him if he was still there and needed money to get back!
Sittin’ in on WMAL, Washington. Former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (left) is pictured here in the WMAL, Washington studios as she served as guest co-host on the “Morning On The Mall” program today (3/10). O’Donnell worked with co-host Larry O’Connor (right) while subbing for Brian Wilson.
Cumulus Posts Positive Q4 2013 Revenue News; Dickey Pleased with ‘Core Performance.’ The fourth quarter of 2013 and the year as a whole were seen in a positive light by Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey during yesterday’s investor conference call. Dickey noted at the outset that he was happy that the company was able to meet and, in some aspects, exceed its guidance through “core performance without any impact of” mergers and acquisitions. He also says the company achieved its goals despite 2012 political comps of over $20 million. The company reports Q4 net revenue up 4.5% over the same period in 2013. For the year of 2013, Cumulus net revenue rose 2.4%. Following up on previous conference calls in which he highlighted his expectations for sports and traffic, Dickey said CBS Sports Radio, NBC Sports Radio, NFL and NCAA play-by-play are “hitting their stride as national content brands. Both sports and traffic are currently exceeding expectations for 2014 and are taking share in their respective markets. And will again be substantial growth drivers as we expected them to be. We are very encouraged by the level of interest by both the advertisers and affiliates in these products, which is a testament to the high-quality nature of the content and again the efficacy of broadcast radio advertising on sports and traffic sponsorships respectively.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can read the whole call here.
Imus: Scott Shannon Will Get the Job. The Scott Shannon watch continues as the next radio home of the former, longtime WPLJ, New York morning co-host remains the subject of speculation in New York and across the country. This morning, WABC-based Don Imus was heard saying, “I’m told Scott Shannon will get the [WOR] job and I’m very happy about that.” Imus seemed sincere about his statement. TALKERS reported yesterday that the chatter has Shannon landing at either Clear Channel’s news/talk WOR for morning drive (where the company just ended the Elliot Segal simulcast from “DC101”) or at one of CBS RADIO’s music FMs – either classic hits WCBS-FM or CHR WNOW.
Clear Channel Promotes Rob Anthony in New England. Programmer Rob Anthony is named to the operations manager and program director position at Clear Channel’s Providence cluster that includes rock WHJY, news/talk WHJJ, classic hits WWBB “B101,” and hot AC WSNE “93.3 The Coast.” Anthony has been serving as regional programming manager for New England based out of the company’s Springfield, Massachusetts cluster. He will retain that title which has him overseeing programming at the Springfield, Worcester, and Manchester and Portsmouth, New Hampshire station groups. Anthony says, “I can’t even begin to express my excitement for the opportunity to work with such heritage brands as ‘Coast 93.3,’ ‘B 101,’ ‘NewsRadio 920’ and the mighty ‘94 HJY.’ This is truly an honor, and I can’t wait to get to work. Thank you to Clear Channel’s programming team and [market president] Rhonda Lapham for all their continued support and guidance.”
FCC to Rework Internet Regulation Rules; Republican Commissioners Question Move. FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler has announced the Commission will revisit the “net neutrality” issue by “proposing rules that will meet the court’s test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how internet service providers manage traffic, and enhancing competition. Preserving the internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace is an important responsibility of this agency.” Wheeler states that the recent D.C. Circuit Court ruling affirms Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 giving “the FCC authority to encourage broadband deployment by, among other things, removing barriers to infrastructure deployment, encouraging innovation, and promoting competition. The court recognized the importance of ensuring that so-called ‘edge providers,’ those that use the network to deliver goods and services, can reach people who use the internet.” Republican Commissioner Mike O’Reilly disagrees, saying, “I am deeply concerned by the announcement that the FCC will begin considering new ways to regulate the internet. As I have said before, my view is that section 706 does not provide any affirmative regulatory authority. We should all fear that this provision ultimately may be used not just to regulate broadband providers, but eventually edge providers.” At the same time, Commissioner Ajit Pai adds, “When Congress told us to encourage broadband deployment by removing barriers to infrastructure investment, it also established the policy of the United States to ‘preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.’ Whatever the Commission does as it moves forward, it must take that statutory command to heart. The internet was free and open before the FCC adopted net neutrality rules. It remains free and open today. Net neutrality has always been a solution in search of a problem.”
LDR Interactive Launches TopicPulse; Partners with TTWN for Sales. Interactive broadcast technology firm LDR Interactive announces the launch of an upgraded version of its TopicPulse, what it calls “a real-time social media monitoring system for newsrooms and content producers.” LDR Interactive explains: “TopicPulse scans social media including Twitter and Facebook, local message boards, comment boards, and news sources to track trending topics in a local market. In addition to tracking local and national topics, producers can also access trending video and images. The system then produces a user-friendly, real-time report that newsrooms can use to drive local, regional, and national content.” LDR CEO Daniel Anstandig states, “TopicPulse was inspired by feedback from the world’s leading broadcasters, who said they were in critical need of a better way to track and monitor social media to produce news content. With those needs in mind, we built and optimized TopicPulse for broadcast and digital newsrooms and released the system on beta to LDR’s media partners in 2012. Since then, we’ve seen tremendous momentum and positive results from media companies in all market sizes.” In addition to tracking trends, TopicPulse identifies which primary demo (gender and age group) is most inclined to engage with the topic on social media. Newsrooms also have access to a “glance” screen with trending topics for the brand’s target audience, which can be utilized as a “heads up display” of the market. A Tweet Map feature showcases the market’s most popular tweets and hashtags on a local map, enabling producers to create hyper-local content based on up-to-the-minute social trends. LDR Interactive is partnering with Total Traffic & Weather Network (TTWN) as the TopicPulse national sales partner. The TTWN sales team will serve as the major force behind local market integration of the platform in newsrooms across the U.S.
Lars Larson Show Added to CRN Digital Talk Lineup. The Portland, Oregon-based Lars Larson program is added to the program schedule at CRN Digital Talk Radio airing at 7:00 pm ET. Larson hosts a local show on Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL, Portland in addition to a separate nationally syndicated program through Compass Media Networks. CRN will carry the national program. CRN president and CEO Michael Horn says, “Lars adds another unique, passionate voice to the CRN schedule. He’s a newsman, a reporter, and a host – so he brings extra doses of preparation and personality to his show.”
Former FCC Chair Richard Wiley to Receive BFoA’s Lowry Mays Award. The Broadcasters Foundation of America announces that Richard E. Wiley, chairman of Wiley Rein LLP and a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will receive the 2014 Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award to be presented during The Broadcasters Foundation of America Breakfast on Wednesday, April 9, at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas during the NAB Show. Wiley heads the 80-attorney communications practice. He served as chairman of the FCC from 1974 to 1977. Wiley played a pivotal role in the development of HDTV in this country, serving for nine years as chairman of the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Service from 1987 to 1995. He represents a number of major communications-oriented organizations, including Verizon, AT&T, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Motorola, CBS, Belo, Gannett, Sirius/XM, Emmis, Gray Television, and LG. Wiley has been recognized by Washingtonian magazine as one of Washington’s 30 “Superstar” lawyers for his role as “the unofficial sixth commissioner” of the FCC (2011) and consistently listed as one of Washington’s “Best Lawyers” and “Top Lawyers” in the magazine. He was named the “most prominent telecommunications lawyer and lobbyist in Washington” by Broadcasting & Cable in 2005, and he was honored with the National Association of Broadcasters’ Distinguished Service Award in 2002.
Teen Radio Host Wins Student Category Gracie. The Alliance for Women in Media announces the winners of the 2014 Gracie Awards in the local, online, student and public categories and 16-year-old Florida radio talk host Pavlina Osta wins in the student category Outstanding Anchor – News or News Magazine for her “Pavlina’s Kidz Place Radio Show.” The Port Orange, Florida resident has been hosting a kids-targeted radio program since she was 11 and boasts an impressive list of celebrity interviews including: Katie Couric, Ed Sheeran, Carly Rae Jepsen, Sick Puppies, A Great Big World, and Steve Forbes, to name just a few. Now she can add Gracie Award winner to her resume!
Obama Executive Power Controversy, Winter Weather/Global Warming Debate, ObamaCare Criticism, Sochi Olympics, Ukrainian Unrest, and N. Korea Human Rights Abuses Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/18). GOP response to President Obama’s use of executive power; the onslaught of winter weather in much of the country and the debate over the global warming issue; the continuing scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the Winter Olympic games in Sochi; the protests and political unrest in the Ukraine; and the global community’s concern over growing evidence of human rights abuses were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
CEO Caine Set to Depart WestwoodOne. As WestwoodOne becomes a fully integrated Cumulus Media division, chief executive officer Paul Caine will leave later this month. According to Cumulus chief executive officer Lew Dickey, “Paul is an extremely talented media executive and did an excellent job of guiding WestwoodOne during a period of change. He positioned the company for future growth and played an instrumental role in driving a constructive transaction, which delivered value for his shareholders. We look forward to working with Paul in the next chapter of his impressive career.” Caine is “so proud of the team we’ve built and what we’ve accomplished” at the company. “In such a short time, we have proven the power of sound and its impact on the future of the audio industry,” he remarks. “I am confident that this great momentum will continue under Cumulus and the strong talent and leadership of Lew Dickey.” Less than one year ago (April 2013), Caine was announced as chief executive officer of Dial Global (now WestwoodOne) and as a member of the company’s board of directors. He previously spent nearly 25 years at Time Inc., where he led the development of digital formats.
New Media Expo and CES Update. “If I were Howard Stern I would go to a subscription podcasting model.” Those were the words of Courtside Entertainment Group and PodcastOne CEO Norm Pattiz speaking at yesterday morning’s keynote address at 2014 New Media Expo (formerly Blogworld). Media consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas reporting for TALKERS magazine and he has more from Pattiz. Also check out his notes from the first day of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show where he reports back on the new technology that is relevant to the radio and content business. Check it out here.
Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier Host Middays on WJFK-FM, Washington. Speculation that Don Geronimo would re-surface during the day on CBS RADIO’s sports talk WJFK-FM, Washington “106.7 The Fan” have been squelched as the station debuted its new midday show co-hosted by Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier (Geronimo remains with the station hosting the evening show). Rouhier had been working with Holden Kushner during the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm slot previously. Kushner remains with the station hosting weekends and participating in the station’s Washington Nationals coverage. Paulsen has been serving as the station’s Redskins beat reporter for the past four years.
WPRO, Providence Talk Host John DePetro Returns to Air; Critics Remain Steadfast. Providence talk show host John DePetro – host of the late morning show on Cumulus Media’s WPRO, Providence – returned to the air on Monday after being off for the month of December. DePetro and local union leader Maureen Martin – chairwoman of the anti-DePetro organization For Our Daughers RI – appear fated to continue their battle over DePetro’s employment with the station. DePetro recently rankled Martin and other Rhode Island union members after he referred to some of them as “parasites,” “cockroaches,” “hags” and “whores” during a rant about their participation in a protest. DePetro apologized for his choice of words but Martin is not backing off her campaign to oust DePetro from his position via boycott of the station’s advertisers and a petition drive. The latest news in the skirmish is Martin publicly claiming DePetro was accused of sexual assault in 2013. The Providence Journal-operated PolitiFact.com reports that it researched the matter to discover DePetro was accused of sexual harassment in 2012. After connecting with Martin, PolitiFact.com reports the organization changed the date – from 2013 to 2012 – on its petition but has not altered the accusation to harassment. Although harassment is a civil matter and assault is a felony, Martin insists to PolitiFact.com that an unwanted sexual advance is assault, according to the U.S. Department of Justice – which the news organization disputes. Regardless, DePetro appears ready for battle, addressing the issue upon his return Monday saying, “Politicians and unions should not interfere and try to silence public opinion. Period. That’s it…They want to silence the people. The last time I checked, this is still America.”
Comrex Names Raul Hun Latin America Sales Manager. Comrex Corporation announces the appointment of Raul Hun to manage Latin America sales for the company. Hun, a native of Panama, brings over 15 years of experience in providing studio and transmission solutions to broadcasters throughout Central and South America. He most recently worked for the Telos Alliance and Broadcast Electronics. Comrex director of sales Chris Crump comments, “Raul is one of the most well-liked gentlemen in our industry and we are thrilled to have him on our team. The great work that Jim Godfrey has done for us in the region will certainly be strengthened by the strong dealer and customer relationships that Raul has developed over the years in Latin America.”
Review: The Audio Technica AT2005USB Microphone. Whether you record podcasts or take your talk show on the road (or both!), a good portable USB mic is a very handy thing. Talk show host Michael W. Dean offers this thorough review of the Audio Technica AT2005USB mic. He writes, “This would be a great mic for hosts who travel a lot, and don’t want to bring a mixer and a whole bag of gear or an engineer. It’s a regular-sized dynamic mic that sounds fairly amazing. It has a built-in USB interface, and comes with a nifty collapsible tripod table stand and a USB cable. You could fit that all in a netbook case with a small laptop.” For the entire review, pics and a sound sample, click here.
Odds & Sods. Rich Summers is the new operations manager for Townsquare Media’s news/talk KIDO, Boise and its sister sports talk station KFXD “Sports Radio 630 The Fan.” Summers joined the station group as program director of country KAWO…..At Yahoo! Sports Radio, there’s been a lineup change: “Hit ‘Em Up with Geoff Ketchum” moves to the 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET slot and a new afternoon drive program, “Prime Cut featuring Sean Salisbury and John Granato,” launches in the 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET timeslot…..In addition to yesterday’s news that the Clear Channel Media + Entertainment digital audio platform iHeartRadio will be available on some new car entertainment and information systems, the company is promoting the service will soon be available on Qualcomm’s multi-media AllPlay smart media platform, the new AT&T Drive auto platform and others. The announcement was made at day one of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show.
MSNBC-Romney Controversy, Winter Cold Snap/Global Warming, Kerry’s Iran-Syria Solution, Colorado Pot Law Effects, Chicago Gun Ban Overturned, and SCOTUS Utah Gay Marriage Ruling Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/6). MSNBC’s forced apology after a program aired in which comedians made fun of Mitt Romney’s adopted, African-American grandson; the bitter winter weather affecting much of the United States and the controversy over its cause; criticism over John Kerry’s reaching out to Iran in an effort to solve the civil unrest in Syria; the effects of the new marijuana laws in Colorado; the overturning of Chicago’s ban on the purchase and sale of guns in the city; and the Supreme Court’s overturning of Utah’s gay marriage law were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Lew Dickey: Cumulus to Hire 50 More Sales Staffers. During the Cumulus Media Q3 conference call with investors yesterday, CEO Lew Dickey said the dividends of investing in the company’s sales strategy are paying off. Dickey told analysts, “We’ve made a lot of investment in training over the last couple of years that is really now gaining traction…in fact, as we look into 2014, we’ve now given the order here to go and hire 50 more people as we get down to the end of the year based on anticipated demand as we get into ’14. So we really have a very well-functioning sales organization today that is the byproduct of an awful lot of work on systems and training — everything from pricing to CRM to activity management, improving coverage, ad packaging – all the different things that we’ve been working on to make us more competitive in the local market.” When asked about radio’s share of the ad market versus television and other media, Dickey was very bullish, saying, “I would say that…radio in general is, I think, starting to experience a little bit of a renaissance as we’re starting to see a much greater buzz for the medium for audio advertising in general. The space seems to be expanding. And people are realizing the value of audio advertising and how efficiently they can do it on a mass market basis with great targetability using local broadcast radio. So it’s a terrific value for advertisers and I think they’re starting to realize it…I think it’s a trend that’s going to take some time to play out. But I do think that it is a tailwind rather than a headwind, I think, that we’re experiencing as we move into 2014, and that’s all positive.” Updating analysts on what he calls the company’s four key growth initiatives – CBS Sports Radio, Nash FM, Right Now Traffic and SweetJack – Dickey said the country brand Nash FM will finish rolling out across the country in early 2014 with all of the company’s country stations taking on the “Nash” brand. He called WNSH, New York the “second-most-listened-to” country station in America. He said the CBS Sports Radio Network exceeded expectations for 2013 and that upfront sales on the network for 2014 are “off to a strong start.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Members can read the entire transcript here.
Senate Confirms Tom Wheeler as FCC Chairman; Republican Michael O’Rielly Also Confirmed. After being nominated by President Obama in May, the U.S. Senate finally votes on the confirmation of Tom Wheeler to replace Julius Genachowski as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Wheeler, former managing director at DC-based Core Capital Partners LP as well as a former lobbyist in the wireless and cable TV industries, states, “I am humbled by the Senate’s confirmation and I look forward to taking the oath of office in the coming days. I am deeply grateful to President Obama for his confidence in nominating me for this position. Chairwoman Clyburn has led the Commission with dedication and vision for six months. We all owe Chairwoman Clyburn a huge thank you. The Chairwoman, along with Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai and the FCC staff dealt with important issues that kept policy and the country moving forward.” Michael O’Rielly comes from inside Washington as he most recently was an advisor to Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn. He fills the seat of Republican Robert McDowell. NAB CEO Gordon Smith comments, “NAB strongly supported the nominations of both Tom Wheeler and Michael O’Rielly and we are pleased with their confirmation. We also salute the superb job done by Mignon Clyburn during her tenure as acting chair. Broadcasters look forward to working with a full complement of commissioners in the months and years ahead.”
KOA, Denver Apologizes After F-Bomb Goes Out Over the Air. Morning drive co-host Steffan Tubbs at Clear Channel’s KOA, Denver thought the mic was off when he made a comment about reality television star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi but his assessment about her appearance that contained the f-word went out over the air. Listeners began commenting on the station’s Facebook page and the station issued the following statement: “We are aware of a recent inappropriate comment that was made on-air by Steffan Tubbs. While Steffan made the comment in what he thought was a private conversation, it was still thoughtless and insensitive and we apologize to anyone whom it offended. We take matters of this nature very seriously and we will take appropriate disciplinary action.”
Premiere Expands Relationship with TMZ to Offer ‘TMZ Sports’ Program. Premiere Networks has been working with entertainment news organization TMZ since the two partnered on the “TMZ Radio” vignette in 2011. Now, the pair announced the development of “TMZ Sports” – a new one-hour, weekday radio program available to sports and news/talk stations. Premiere states that the show is “an adaptation of the sports entertainment website, www.tmzsports.com – where TMZ is constantly breaking exclusive stories. At ‘TMZ Sports,’ hits, runs and errors are totally out of bounds because it’s all about the personalities and athletes. The show is centered around the ensemble of reporters in the TMZ newsroom who break these exclusive stories that have an impact on the players, their future and the teams. ‘TMZ Sports’ also welcomes guests, athletes and people from all over the world sounding off on Skype, phones and various social media.” The Hollywood-based show is available to stations between 7:00 pm and 12:00 midnight local time. Stations adding the show so far include KLAC, Los Angeles; WINZ, Miami; KBAD, Las Vegas; WHOO, Orlando; and KXIC, Iowa City/Cedar Rapids. TMZ executive producer Harvey Levin says, “The show is going to attract people who love sports so they can learn more about the athletes they follow. It will also attract lots of people who don’t follow sports but like watching the drama and the fun.” Clear Channel SVP of sports operations Bruce Gilbert adds, “The launch of ‘TMZ Sports’ on radio and iHeartRadio is a natural extension of the powerful and relevant TMZ brand. TMZ’s unmatched ability to break stories and present in-depth, unfiltered, entertaining information on all things sports will provide fans with great insight into the stories they are talking about with their friends.”
Mike Horn’s CRN Digital Talk Radio Celebrates 30th Anniversary. Thirty years ago, Los Angeles -based radio broadcaster Michael Horn had what, at the time, was considered a wild, if not inconceivable notion of placing radio station audio onto cable television systems around the country. Whether or not such a wacky idea would survive three decades down the road is not something over which Horn anguished. Instead, he immersed himself in concentrating on doing something new and different. As passionate as founder/chief executive officer Horn was regarding the idea of launching CRN (Cable Radio Network), no one could have predicted that it would morph into the juggernaut it has become today as CRN Digital Talk Radio. Some transmutation of the long-standing cliché that television is simply “radio with pictures” perhaps triggered Cable Radio Network not only to come to fruition but also to thrive. In addition to producing its own shows, CRN over the last three decades has collaborated with other broadcasters seeking cable coverage and has syndicated programs to terrestrial broadcast radio. Across multiple networks, Horn’s 1983-founded property has originated/and or distributed dozens upon dozens of different programs. Read TALKERS managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian‘s special feature posted today (10/28) profiling Mike Horn and looking back at the colorful history of CRN by clicking here.
Gary Larkin Joins Clear Channel as EVP of Total Traffic Network and Weather Network. A statement from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment notes that Gary Larkin has spent much of his career with Fox Sports Media Group where he was SVP of digital sales. Clear Channel states that its newly re-branded Total Traffic and Weather Network (TT+WN) “reaches more than 200 million monthly listeners across more than 200 markets, and the expanded division now includes weather reports and localized weather information such as surf and heat index reports to its portfolio as well as new sponsorship opportunities.” CCM+E chairman and CEO John Hogan says, “Gary has a proven track record of driving revenue and achieving success in tough and demanding sales environments and will be a great leader for our Total Traffic and Weather Network sales division. By working closely with our local and national sales teams, Gary will be able to seamlessly integrate the massive reach and unique assets of the Total Traffic and Weather Network’s platform into our offerings for clients. We’re very pleased to have him on board in such a key position and eager to put his experience, expertise and leadership to work.”
Defamation Suit Against WHAS, Louisville’s Terry Meiners Dismissed. The defamation suit filed against WHAS, Louisville talk show host Terry Meiners by Louisville Metro Police officer Sam Cromity has been dismissed by a Jefferson Circuit Court judge. The case goes back to March of 2011 when Meiners was pulled over by Cromity and issued a speeding ticket. Meiners poked fun at the officer on his radio show because he felt Cromity was confrontational during the traffic stop and began referring to him as “Black Barney” – a reference to TV’s Barney Fife and the black Mustang Cromity was driving. Meiners beat the speeding ticket in 2012 and Cromity filed his suit claiming that Meiners’ words on the radio were “irresponsible, reckless and dangerous.” The judge ruled Meiners’ words were “non-actionable expressions of opinion.”
Confer Radio Talent Institute to Take Place at Bloomsburg University Next Summer. Dan Vallie’s National Radio Talent System is locating a Radio Talent Institute at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania next July 7 through 16. Broadcaster Kirby Confer – owner of 70 radio properties – is sponsoring the program. Confer says, “When I was asked to be the Kellar Radio Talent Institute keynote speaker at Appalachian State University a few years ago, I found myself engaged with dozens of young people vitally interested in all phases of radio. The quality of the mentor teachers assembled for the 10 day ‘radio immersion’ was amazing. I thought at the time, ‘this is just what our industry needs,’ and as the digital age is upon us, it couldn’t come at a more opportune time. Art Kellar started something very important by sponsoring the Kellar Radio Talent Institute and I’m excited to be able to extend the National Radio Talent System to Pennsylvania and the Northeast United States starting next summer at Bloomsburg University.” The mission of Vallie’s National Radio Talent System includes having a Radio Talent Institute on a college campus in every region or state in America so students can attend in their home state, and so radio stations can recruit from their own region of the country, or nationally. The Institutes are taught by radio professionals, which insures students/young broadcasters learn what you need them to know. Vallie says that 70% of the students who have completed the Institute have gotten their first job in radio or a related field and are working for CBS, Clear Channel, Beasley Broadcast Group, Entercom, Greater Media, Curtis Media, Centennial Broadcasting, CNN and others.
Odds & Sods. Jay Vise exits the digital content manager position at Entercom’s news/talk WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans where he’s been for the past six years…..ESPN Radio announces that NBA veteran Jon Berry will serve as the lead analyst for the network’s coverage of NBA action for the next three seasons. Berry will team with ESPN Radio’s Kevin Calabro during this season. Also, ESPN Radio says that P.J. Carlesimo will work with Marc Kestecher on select NBA game broadcasts this season…..At SiriusXM, Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski returns to host his weekly “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” this season with the first program airing tomorrow (10/31) at 6:00 pm ET on the SiriusXM College Sports Nation channel.
Florida Talk Host Bob Haa Dies at 65. Longtime WWJB, Brooksville, Florida talk show host Bob Haa (pronounced Hay) passed away on Monday, October 28 after what is being reported as related to cardiac and respiratory complications. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Haa missed several weeks of his program last year due to respiratory issues. The paper quotes WWJB station manager Steve Manuel saying, “In my opinion, Bob was the best at what he did. He had a passion for it and an edge that could stimulate callers and feedback. And that’s what you want to have in this business.”
ObamaCare Implementation and Website Troubles, Staged Fallen Soldiers Ceremonies Controversy, State of the GOP, NSA Spying Case, and the World Series Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/29). The problems with the Affordable Care Act enrollment site and the rollout of ObamaCare; controversy over the Defense Department’s admission of the staged return of fallen American soldiers; the divisions within the Republican Party; the case of the NSA spying on heads of state; and the World Series were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Holland Cooke
ORLANDO – Any NAB/RAB Radio Show attendees who had a little too much fun Wednesday night snoozed through a Thursday morning Leadership Breakfast everyone in radio needed to hear.
Each year, you could hear a pin drop when Wells Fargo Securities Managing Director Marci Ryvicker grades the radio industry. Last year, she gave us a B. This year, we get a B+, based on publically traded groups’ stock evaluations.
Other factoids and forecasts she shared:
NAB/RAB Radio Show Opens in Orlando. A delegation of editors, writers and reporters from TALKERS/RadioInfo is on hand at the massive Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida as day one of the 2013 NAB/RAB Radio Show kicks off with a battery of sessions and presentations. Initial observation of the event indicates a large turnout (official numbers to come) and the discussion of a wide variety of topics covering everything from music label/radio relations to the rise of sports talk radio including programming, marketing, sales and financial issues intrinsic to the radio industry. The underlying issue of radio’s integration into the digital era remains the prevailing theme of just about every subject being examined and scrutinized. Interestingly, in spite of the Florida heat and humidity, the crowd is particularly well-dressed in business attire (we take note of these things) indicating a no-nonsense seriousness in terms of the collective industry consciousness and mood on display in the city built by Mickey Mouse. TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison will be presenting his annual address at the conference tomorrow detailing 10 problems facing radio and solutions available to the medium in securing its vital pop cultural role in the new digital era. The address takes place in room Gatlin E2 between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm on Thursday and is open to all attendees of the show. Pictured here are (clockwise from top): TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison, CBS Radio News vice president Harvey Nagler, and H&H Communications president and TALKERS/RadioInfo sales maven Al Herskovitz.
Tap into Your Star Power. Earlier this morning at the NAB/RAB Radio Show, Cumulus Media senior vice president Mike McVay (far left) moderated the panel “Tap into Your Star Power and Build Your Brand.” The panel provided attendees the opportunity to “learn from the experts who, through the power of radio, have successfully branded themselves.” On the panel with McVay are (from l-r): ABC News Radio White House correspondent Ann Compton; Reach Media nationally syndicated radio personality D.L. Hughley; and Brand Like a Rock Star author Steve Jones.
RAIN Summit Coverage. Radio consultant Holland Cooke covered the RAIN Summit held here in Orlando held the day prior to the beginning of the Radio Show and he reports from the gathering of broadcasters and digital audio practitioners. Cooke says topics ranged from the ongoing problem of ad insertion to building a digital sales force to the drive to become the destination for listeners using their mobile device for audio entertainment. Read Holland Cooke’s analysis here.
WEEI, Boston Wins ‘Best Streaming Broadcast Station’ Award. At the RAIN Summit – traditionally held each year the prior to the kick-off of the NAB/RAB Radio Show – Entercom sports talk outlet WEEI, Boston was honored with the award for Best Streaming Broadcast Station. More than 100 services made entries for this year’s RAIN Awards and WEEI bested both WBZ-AM, Boston and ESPN Radio to take home the honor. Entercom vice president of digital strategy and enterprise platforms Tim Murphy, says, “This recognition centers on the quality of our audio programming at WEEI. This is a tremendous award for an amazing brand, and our incredible team of talent and producers who do an amazing job covering Boston sports. The entire WEEI team is incredibly innovative at distributing our content through industry leading strategies regarding search optimization, mobile distribution and social engagement.”
Lew Dickey Lays Out Digital Strategy. In a memo to his company (and the media), Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey explains the company’s digital audio strategy with regard to the recently announced partnership with Rdio. Part of the three-page memo includes the four-pronged plan for digital audio consisting of: on demand, custom playlist, internet radio/non-local radio, and local radio streaming. With regard to on demand, Dickey states that “people realize that it’s better to rent an unlimited library of content than it is to acquire limited pieces of content — be it music or movies. Rdio is positioned on the leading edge of this important media trend, enabling consumers to listen and discover virtually unlimited amounts of music on any device with a high degree of social engagement across the Rdio platform. Think of Rdio for audio as the equivalent of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon all combined for video. A free or paid subscription to Rdio gives you access to 20 million songs as well as nearly every new song that is released instantly. Your iTunes library now becomes obsolete.” Stating that the custom playlist aspect is Pandora’s only business and that Rdio offers the service, his company will assist Rdio in that. “We will help add an experienced professional programming element to curation that will further differentiate Rdio from what is Pandora’s singular business. In addition, Rdio draws from a vast library of 20 million songs – 20x that of Pandora.” In the internet radio/non-local radio category, Dickey says the best product out there now is SiriusXM – but he calls it expensive and not widely listened to. “Cumulus will draw upon our stable of iconic brands, content and talent to produce new, exclusive channels and short-form programs that give listeners an unparalleled listening experience on a single digital platform. Rdio will combine the best of iTunes, Pandora and Sirius in one app that can be accessed on virtually any desktop or mobile device.” Dickey says Rdio does not currently offer the local station streaming service that iHeartRadio does and his stations will continue their relationship with the Clear Channel service for now.
Ad and Media Expert Michael Kassan to Be Featured on WOR, New York During Advertising Week. The annual New York City Advertising Week event takes place next week – September 23 – 27 – and Clear Channel’s news/talk WOR, New York will feature content from renowned ad and media expert Michael Kassan, founder, chairman and CEO of MediaLink. Clear Channel notes, “Kassan will bring his unparalleled understanding of the advertising and media worlds to broadcast and digital listening audiences via WOR 710 AM, iHeartRadio’s WOR station and wor.com via an ongoing series of insightful reports, commentary, updates and interviews throughout Advertising Week, the world’s premier gathering of advertising, marketing and communications leaders. Among other features, Kassan will host a series of daily Advertising Week previews and updates; exclusive interviews with major media and advertising world figures; and commentary on significant advertising and media topics that emerge during Advertising Week events.” CCM&E chairman and CEO John Hogan states, “Michael Kassan is one of the most highly respected names in the advertising and media worlds. His incredibly well-informed reporting will illuminate Advertising Week for WOR listeners, as well as those listening to WOR over iHeartRadio and wor.com, bringing unparalleled insight and depth to the most important issues facing the industry as it prepares to address the future and prepare for its next stage of growth. We are thrilled to have an expert of this caliber play such a critical role in our Advertising Week lineup.”
Federated Media Chooses TuneIn for Mobile App. TuneIn becomes the official mobile app and online audio player for all Federated Media stations including Fort Wayne news/talk giant WOWO and rocker WBYR “The Bear.” Federated Media owns 15 radio stations in Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Warsaw, Indiana. TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “TuneIn is constantly focused on giving listeners access to the best content available, no matter where they are in the world. We are very excited Federated Media has chosen TuneIn as their full digital solution, offering listeners content via mobile, and web.” Federated Media programming has been available on TuneIn for months, but this new agreement makes TuneIn the broadcast group’s comprehensive digital solution for both mobile and desktop listening. Every Federated Media station will eschew their existing mobile apps in favor of the free TuneIn Radio app, and Federated Media stations will promote TuneIn on-air. Federated Media chief strategy officer James Derby comments, “With TuneIn, our listeners can now hear their favorite Federated Media stations at any time, no matter where they are – all through one app. TuneIn now provides all Federated Media stations additional digital distribution to reach our listeners through over 200 connected devices, ranging from mobile phones and tablets, to smart TVs and cars.”
Dave Ramsey in Orlando. Timing his appearance to coincide with the NAB/RAB Radio Show, nationally syndicated talk show star and New York Times best-selling author Dave Ramsey hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” in Orlando on Tuesday, September 17, to a packed house at Chapin Theatre. Ramsey spoke about how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 350 employees. Ramsey joined with local affiliate WFLA, Orlando (WFLF) to promote the event. WFLA general sales manager Mark Kanak states, “On behalf of all of us at Clear Channel Orlando, it is a genuine pleasure to welcome a legend like Dave Ramsey. Dave has made an enormous impact on our listeners’ lives and his fans continue to grow.” Pictured above are (from l-r): WFLA PD Jim Poling, Kanak, Dave Ramsey and the WFLA sales team.
Townsquare Announces Stations Acquisition; Deal Worth Approximately $281 Million. Townsquare Media, LLC announces that it has executed definitive documentation related to three transactions with Cumulus Media Holdings, Inc. and Peak II Holding LLC which, upon consummation, will result in Townsquare acquiring assets including 71 radio stations in 15 markets. After the deal is consummated, Townsquare will own 312 radio stations in 66 markets and have operations in 25 states, making it the third largest owner of radio stations in the United States and the largest, “best-capitalized owner and operator of radio stations solely focused on small and mid-sized markets.” In a press release this morning, Townsquare reports it is acquiring assets including 53 radio stations (three of which will be assigned to a divestiture trust) in 12 markets (Battle Creek; Cedar Rapids; Danbury, Connecticut; Faribault-Owatonna, Minnesota; Kalamazoo; Lansing; Portland, Maine; Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester, New Hampshire; Quad Cities; Rochester, Minnesota; Rockford, Illinois; and Waterloo, Iowa) from Cumulus for cash. Townsquare is also acquiring Peak, which owns assets including 11 radio stations in two markets (Boise and Fresno) for cash and equity units of Townsquare. Finally, Townsquare will exchange certain assets including five radio stations, in Fresno it is acquiring from Peak, for Cumulus assets including 15 radio stations in two markets (Dubuque and Poughkeepsie) and a de minimis cash settle-up payment in favor of Townsquare. In total, Townsquare will be acquiring 68 stations from Cumulus, three of which will be assigned to a divestiture trust, and eleven Peak stations, five of which will be exchanged to Cumulus, resulting in a net increase of 71 stations. Townsquare expects to finance the transactions with a mix of secured and unsecured debt financing, Townsquare equity units and cash on hand. Townsquare has received debt financing commitments from its various financing partners in connection with the transactions and will complete its financing in compliance with the covenant package of Townsquare Radio, LLC’s existing Senior Unsecured Notes indenture. “These transactions represent the continued evolution of Townsquare Media into one of the nation’s largest local media companies and allow us to reach a scale which opens the door to new strategic opportunities,” comments Townsquare Chairman and CEO, Steven Price. “The assets we are adding to our portfolio are market leading brands with strong competitive positions in their respective small and mid-sized markets. We are excited by the opportunity to deploy our differentiated local-media strategy across a broader footprint in order to better serve our communities and our advertising clients.”
Cumulus Announces Expected Dial Global Acquisition. Cumulus Media Inc. issues a press release this morning announcing “a series of strategic transactions that solidifies the company’s position as a leading producer of high-quality content and continues to reshape its footprint focused on the top 100 markets.” The transactions announced today include:
• Acquisition of Dial Global, Inc. for $260 million in cash (consisting of approximately $45 million attributable to equity and the retirement of $215 million of debt)
• Sale of 53 radio stations in 12 small and mid-sized markets to Townsquare Media for $238 million in cash (inclusive of the acquisition of net working capital)
• Swap with Townsquare Media of 15 radio stations in two small & mid-sized markets in exchange for the receipt of five stations in Fresno, CA (market #68)
“These transactions give us the necessary scale to provide the marketing and enterprise solutions our advertising and affiliate partners require,” said Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus. “Our goal is to be the leading producer of premium audio content distributed through multiple platforms while continuing to build our broadcast platform in the top 100 U.S. markets.”
The acquisition of Dial Global will add sports, news, talk, music and programming services content – enabling Cumulus to provide a wider variety of options to approximately 10,000 U.S. radio stations, other media platforms and international platforms. New content acquired through the Dial Global acquisition will include NFL, NCAA, NASCAR, Olympics, AP Radio News, NBC News and other popular programming. Cumulus expects the transaction to be deleveraging based upon identified cost synergies of approximately $40 million, with additional upside from revenue growth potential through the creation of new content vehicles for broadcast radio advertisers. Additionally, Cumulus believes the opportunity exists to distribute premium, curated audio content across emerging new media platforms. Further, Cumulus intends to service broadcasters’ demands for premium content and enterprise solutions in Europe, the Americas and Australia.
WGN, Chicago Announces New Lineup. Yesterday (8/29), TALKERS reported the reuniting of Chicago radio personalities Wendy Snyder and Bill Leff on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago. Now, the station issues a release detailing the programming changes – some of which were reported a few weeks ago – that take place on Tuesday, September 3. As reported earlier, Steve Cochran assumes morning drive duties; he’s followed by Wendy & Bill from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; husband and wife team Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano (pictured at left) air from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and Garry Meier continues to host the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot. David Kaplan maintains his 7:00 pm show start but wraps at 11:00 pm when Pete McMurray, who expands his role with the station, starts hosting the 11:00 pm to 2:00 am program. As reported earlier this week, Nick Digilio becomes a full-time host with the station on the 2:00 am to 5:00 am slot. Weekends are spotlighted by the return of Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey (pictured lower right) to the station in the Saturday 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot beginning September 14. Other changes include: “The Design Dude with Frank Fontana” airing from 6:00 am to 7:00 am, followed by “Mr. Fix-it with Lou Manfredini” from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. When not affected by sports preemptions, Bill Moller will follow Kathy and Judy from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and “Sports Central” will remain in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. The Sunday lineup will introduce a new show dedicated to the discussion of the Chicago political landscape. Chicago Tribune writer Rick Pearson will host “Chicago Way: Politics with Pearson” on Sundays from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. “The Dean Richards Sunday Special” will follow at 9:00 am, extending an additional two hours until 1:00 pm. In addition to his Saturday show, Bill Moller will air from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Brian Noonan remains in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm time slot, followed by the return of Chicago treasure, Rick Kogan, from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Comedian and media personality, Patti Vasquez, will air from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am. Playing a feature role in the future of WGN’s new lineup will be “720 Snackables.” These spotlight segments will live online and on-air as interviews, video shorts, and podcasts. They’ll feature the WGN family of experts including Dean Richards’ “A-List Interviews,” “Legally Speaking with Karen Conti,” “Bertrand on Books” with Steve Bertrand, “Flavor HD” with Hannah Stanley & Dane Neal, “Steve Dale’s Pet World,” Paul Green’s “Paul & The Politicians,” “Good Cents with Ilyce Glink,” and more.
Chris Carl New RTDNA Chair. WDEL, Wilmington, Delaware director of news and programming Chris Carl is the new chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association. Pictured here is outgoing chair Vince Duffy of Michigan Radio (l) passing the gavel to Carl (r). Carl notes that for the first time in the organization’s history, the RTNDF chairman, RTDNA chairman and RTDNA chair-elect are all radio people as Duffy moves to the Foundation chair for the next year, and the membership elects Amy Tardif of WGCU-FM, Fort Myers as the chair-elect.
Odds & Sods. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is set to make regular appearances on CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM “Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan.” Every Tuesday he’ll join the “Vinnie & Cook” show at 11:00 am…..Guaranty Broadcasting’s KYPY, Baton Rouge flips from classic country to a simulcast of sister sports talk WNXX “104.5 ESPN”…..New Jersey Devils hockey will continue to be heard on CBS Radio’s WFAN-AM/FM and beyond. The club signs a new, multi-year deal with the station to keep games on for the ninth straight season beginning in October…..Clear Channel moves Portland Trailblazers basketball from news/talk KEX to sister sports talk KPOJ for the coming season to avoid preemptions…..Bob Smith retires from his post as host of “1370 Connection” at pubcaster WXXI, Rochester, New York after a 25-plus-year career with the station. Smith suffered a stroke in April and is still undergoing rehabilitative care.
More Than $3.3 Million Raised in Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. Entercom sports radio WEEI and regional cable sports channel NESN have teamed up for 12 years to air a two-day radio-telethon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. This week’s event helped raise more than $3.3 million – about the same amount raised the year prior. This puts the 12-year total at more than $34 million. Entercom Boston vice president and market manager Jeff Brown states, “The outstanding generosity of our listeners across New England year after year not only supports a great cause but betters the lives of those who need it most. These past two days have been the most emotionally rewarding for the entire WEEI and Entercom Boston family this year. We remain both humbled and thrilled to have played a role in helping the selfless team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in their fight against cancer.” A check was presented at last night’s Red Sox game. Pictured (from l-r) are: Red Sox owner John Henry, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino, Entercom Boston VP/market manager Jeff Brown, Jimmy Fund director Suzanne Fountain, WEEI executive producer Joe Zarbano, WEEI director of marketing Adam Ralston, NESN president Sean McGrail, and Wally the Green Monster.
Wilmington, NC Sports Talk Show Adds Saturday Edition. The weekly “Sports Connection” show hosted by Port City Daily sports writer Joe Catenacci adds a Saturday edition that begins a run on Sea-Comm-owned rock WBNE, Wilmington “103.7 The Bone.” Joe Cat’s show began as a co-operative effort between the Port City Daily and Sea-Comm news/talk WNTB and WLTT airing Monday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Beginning tomorrow (8/31) Catenacci and co-host Cori Stukes will broadcast live every Saturday from Hell’s Kitchen on Princess Street in downtown Wilmington. He says in the Port City Daily, “Over the last eight months, we have connected the local community with some of the top names in sports from across the country. Even with a focus on local, we continue to get some of the household names when it comes to industry. Locally, every high school football, basketball and baseball coach has made an appearance on the show at least once, as well as UNCW coaches and players.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is picked up by a number of new affiliate stations, including: WCKG-AM, Chicago; WBAT-AM, Marion, Indiana; KENT-AM, Parowan, Utah; WRSB, Canandaigua, New York; WASB, Bridgeport, New York; W286AE-FM, Fairport, New York; and WNZS, Bangor, Maine…..“Late Night Health Radio” with host Mark Alyn joins the programming lineup at KABC, Los Angeles…..Talk Media Network’s “Frontlines of Freedom” with Lt. Col. Denny Gillem is added to WFPA, Fort Payne, Alabama…..The “Unlock Your Wealth” feature by Heather Wagenhals is added to affiliate stations WPGR, Pittsburgh; KFIV, Modesto and KWSX, Stockton, California; and WEZO, Augusta, Georgia.
U.S. Syria Action Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 26-30. The question of whether the United States should take action against Syria was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the March on Washington anniversary tied with American race relations. Following at #3 was Miley Cyrus’ performance at the MTV VMAs and at #4 was the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 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. View this week’s entire chart here.
More Q2 News from Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey. Yesterday TALKERS reported Cumulus Media’s second quarter revenue figures and the fact that Lew Dickey largely avoided the Rush Limbaugh-Sean Hannity flap by saying he wouldn’t discuss it because they are still in contract negotiations. He addressed other topics TALKERS readers may be interested in: those 10 “code red” stations (big news/talkers bringing down the rest of the company); the health of the CBS Sports Radio Network project for which Cumulus is handling affiliate and ad sales; and the state of network talk programming. First, Dickey told investors the number of “code red” stations is down from 10 to 1 but didn’t specify which station still lags. Second, he states the CBS Sports Radio format is on 300 affiliate stations and is exceeding its revenue plans. “We’re highly encouraged by our early success and expect CBS Sports Radio to be a material growth driver for our company in 2014 and beyond.” And third, addressing the state of the Cumulus Media Networks (which includes syndicated talk – Huckabee, Savage, “Red Eye Radio” – as well as a lot of music programming) Dickey reports it’s been a bit “choppy” but he sees it settling down. “It grew for us in the second quarter and we look for it to be positive in the back half of the year. It’s a pretty fragmented space that ultimately begs for more consolidations… it did turn in a positive performance for us in second quarter.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can see the entire conference call here.
Wall Street Journal Radio Network Executive Director Nancy Abramson to Exit Post. Radio management pro Nancy Abramson tells TALKERS the company is reorganizing its management structure and she is moving on. She says she’ll remain with the company through mid-September to assist with the transition. As for the rest of the staff with which the industry is familiar, Abramson says the affiliate team of Susan O’Connell and Susan Moran will continue to service the affiliates of “The Wall Street Journal Report,” “The Wall Street Journal This Morning,” “The Dow Jones Money Report” and “MarketWatch.com Reports.” John Wordock and Patrice Sikora will continue to oversee the news product for The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch.com Radio Networks. Abramson says she is excited about new opportunities and looking forward to the next adventure. Abramson has served with WSJRN since 1996.
Greater Media Promotes Jake McCann to Director of Sales for Detroit Stations. Jake McCann moves from Greater Media’s Philadelphia stations where he was general sales manager at sports talk WPEN “97.5 The Fanatic” and classic rock WMGK. In Detroit he’ll be in charge of sales for rock WRIF, classic rock WCSX and currently-AC-but-rumored-to-soon-be sports talk WMGC. The fact that McCann has experience selling sports talk could be part of the reason McCann is making this move if, as expected, WMGC flips to sports in August. In a statement, Greater Media Detroit market manager Steve Chessare says, “Jake is the right person to lead our three station sales operation in the Motor City. His passion, dedication and leadership are exactly what we need to take our three outstanding radio properties to the next level.”
Radio One Gives Up on FM Sports in Cincinnati. After seven months, WCFN, Cincinnati “FM 100.3 The Fan” has let go most of its staff, cut ties with CBS Sports Radio Network and flips back to an urban oldies format as “Old School 100.3.” The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports that production manager Rob Williams was the only staffer to survive the change. Tom Gamble, Richard Skinner, Will Chambers, Chad Brendel, Rick Ucchino, Rick Broering, Jeremy Lance, former Reds pitcher Joe Price, and Steve Harris all exited the station on Tuesday morning. Richard Skinner, who hosted “Two Angry Guys” along with Tom Gamble, tells Kiesewetter he’s not angry about the change, “Radio is so cyclical, that you know your time is coming (to get fired). They (Radio One) didn’t seem to have a plan of attack, and they’re pulling the format at a time of the year when all the people are listening for football and baseball.” Clear Channel operates two sports talk stations in the market – WSAI, a Fox Sports Radio affiliate and WCKY, which uses ESPN Radio programming – both of which air largely national shows.
Holland Cooke: Radio from the Newspaper. Radio consultant Holland Cooke adds to the discussion about newspapers entering into the digital talk radio streaming business that’s been a major part of industry chatter in the wake of the Boston Herald’s announcement about the creation of Boston Herald Radio coming Monday, August 5. Cooke has experience in this arena and he offers advice to publications considering the move. Among some dos and don’ts: don’t separate the studio from the newsroom (the sound of busy reporters is crucial!); don’t assume good reporters make good talk hosts; do promote you’re emanating from a storied newsroom; and do make content available for download and later playback. Read Holland Cooke’s entire piece here.
‘News 92 FM’ and ‘Yahoo Sports Radio 1560’ in Houston Agree to Content Sharing Deal. Radio One’s all-news KROI and Gow Media’s sports talk KGOW in Houston agree to a content sharing deal that will have KROI producing newscasts for KGOW and the latter producing sports updates and actualities for KROI. Here’s how it will work: Beginning in early August, “News 92 FM” reporters will provide hourly, short-form news updates to “Yahoo Sports Radio 1560,” initially for use on nights and weekends, and ramping up to a full broadcast schedule shortly thereafter. In like manner, “Yahoo Sports Radio 1560” reporters will provide sports updates and actualities twice per hour for integration into the “News 92 FM” broadcast clock between 7:00 pm and midnight daily, and from 6:00 am to noon on weekends. Radio One RVP Doug Abernethy and Gow Media CEO David Gow began discussing the possibility earlier this year. Abernethy states, “Research suggests that news and sports stations have shared listener bases. So this makes sense for both stations. We have the best newsgathering and reporting resources in the city, and ‘Yahoo Sports Radio 1560’ enjoys an equivalent reputation in the world of sports. We’re leveraging our respective strengths so that the ‘News 92 FM’ listener can get a quick sports update from ‘Yahoo Radio 1560,’ and their listeners can get top-flight news from ‘News 92 FM.’”
ZWERLING: The Smartest Programming Move I Ever Made for My Radio Stations. You might be surprised to learn which syndicated host turned out to be so spectacularly successful for outspoken, independent radio station owner Michael L. Zwerling at his widely admired AM combo of KSCO and KOMY, Santa Cruz, California that he felt compelled to share it with the entire industry. Then again, you might not. Find out the answer and more in a new exclusive TALKERS opinion piece posted today (7/31) by clicking here.
‘Broadway Joe’ Joins Sports USA for Weekly Podcast. Sports USA announces NFL great Joe Namath will join the company to produce a weekly podcast for the company during the 2013 football season. Sports USA president Bob Moore says Namath’s podcast will begin in the middle of August and run through this year’s Super Bowl. Moore states, “It doesn’t get bigger than Joe Namath! Joe is extremely passionate about football and his insights are amazing. This podcast will give him the platform to reach all of his fans across the country and beyond.” Namath comments, “I’m thrilled to join the Sports USA team with my new weekly podcast. I look forward to expressing my opinions on both the NFL and college football each week from the beginning of the season all the way through the Super Bowl.”
WTKS, Orlando’s Russ Rollins to Face Bubba the Love Sponge in Wrestling Match. Yes, you read that right. As you see in the poster here, it’ll take place at the Arena Bowl in Orlando on August 17 and feature “The Monsters” vs “Bubba’s Army” as Russ Rollins & The Demon take on Bubba the Love Sponge & Kevin Nash with Marc Mero as a special guest referee. Rollins tells TALKERS it’s the “Battle of the #1 morning shows!” and pits Clear Channel against Cox Media in front of 15,000 to 16,000 screaming fans!
2016 Presidential Race, Weiner Sexting Scandal, NSA Surveillance Program, ObamaCare Implementation, and Bradley Manning Verdict Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/30). The possible candidates in the 2016 presidential election; the ongoing backlash from the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal; new developments in the NSA surveillance program case; the costs of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; and the verdict against Bradley Manning in the Wikileaks case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Peter Boyles to Debut New Morning Show at Salem’s KNUS, Denver. Longtime KHOW, Denver morning drive personality Peter Boyles joins Salem Communications’ KNUS, Denver for a new morning drive program beginning Monday, July 1. Boyles was let go from Clear Channel’s KHOW after a widely publicized incident of workplace violence in which he became physically aggressive with producer Greg Hollenback. Boyles took responsibility for his actions in a regular column he writes for the Cherry Creek Chronicle but, as the Denver Post reports, he also took the opportunity to slam Clear Channel saying, “Clear Channel is a culture of fear.” Regarding bringing Boyles aboard, KNUS vice president and general manager Brian Taylor tells the Post, “He’s a legend. He really cares about wanting to speak for his audience.” Boyles’ arrival at the station moves the Steve Kelley program to the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot on KNUS. In a statement from Salem, Boyles comments, “I believe we can change the face of Denver radio as well as the political future of Colorado. That’s how much I believe in this show and what we can do. I’m delighted to join the Salem team in Denver and help take KNUS to the next level. We’re going to do some great radio and I can’t be more excited.” Salem VP/director spoken word format Phil Boyce says, “There is no doubt Peter Boyles is a Denver talk radio institution. When the opportunity came for us to grab Peter’s show we wasted little time in making it happen. Denver radio needs this guy, who truly does a remarkable show.”
New Sports Talk Programming to Air on WGNU, St. Louis in August. Well, it’s not exactly new. According to Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, current KFNS sports talk personality Tim McKernan, via his company insideSTL Enterprises LLC, will lease time on 920 AM LLC-owned WGNU – currently airing urban talk – beginning on or around August 1. The lineup will be familiar to St. Louis sports talk fans as it will include many of the market’s well-known sports talk personalities who’ve worked at KFNS and at other stations: McKernan himself with Doug Vaughn and Jim Hayes; Frank Cusumano; Kevin Slaten plus (former MLB slugger) Jack Clark; and a new show featuring Post-Dispatch columnists Bryan Burwell and Joe Strauss plus KTVI-TV sportscaster Charlie Marlow. McKernan is undertaking the venture as KFNS owners are shifting the programming to a guy talk format. The programming will also be available on McKernan’s insideSTL.com, an important aspect of his business plan. McKernan tells Caesar, “What this opportunity provides us is a chance to see if this lineup, if this website and this business plan can indeed work and can set us up for the potential of purchasing a radio station in the near future.” McKernan is not leasing the weekend time from WGNU.
WPEN, Philadelphia’s Darren Daulton to Have Brain Surgery. Greater Media sports talk outlet WPEN, Philadelphia “The Fanatic” announces baseball talk show host and former MLB star Darren “Dutch” Daulton has been diagnosed with two tumors on his brain and will undergo surgery to have them treated next week. Daulton – a member of the 1993 pennant-winning Philles – hosts the nightly “Talking Baseball with Dutch” show that airs from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm during baseball season on WPEN.
Entercom’s WEEI, Boston Donates 1,000 Red Tickets to First Responders. As a way of saying “thanks” to the many first responders who came to the aid of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing in April, Entercom’s sports talk WEEI donated 1,000 tickets to last night’s Boston Red Sox game versus the Toronto Blue Jays. The company says, “These groups and individuals will include those who have displayed acts of heroism and valor, and have shown us examples of courage.” Tickets were distributed to: First responders including the Boston Police, Fire and EMS workers; the Boston Athletic Association; the communities of Dorchester, Arlington and Medford; the Massachusetts State Police; the Massachusetts National Guard; Boston area hospitals. Entercom Boston vice president and market manager Jeff Brown states, “On behalf of Entercom and WEEI, we send our deepest appreciation for the bravery and service of these responders during our city’s time of need. We are forever grateful for their heroism and hope this small gesture brings a smile to some faces across Boston on Thursday evening.”
The Conclave to Feature Performance by Recording Artist Keaton Simons. The Conclave’s first-ever “GAMEDAY,” a day devoted entirely to sports, will wrap with a performance by Best Revenge Records recording artist Keaton Simons (pictured here). It’ll take place at a reception at KTWN, Minneapolis’ studios just before the Minnesota Twins vs Cleveland Indians game at Target Field. The Conclave says that the Los Angeles Times termed Simons “a triple threat” captivating audiences with an authentic voice, compelling and soul-baring songs, and a true command of both acoustic and electric guitars in every genre. Simons’ second album “Beautiful Pain” is co-produced by Mikal Blue who has also worked with Colbie Caillat and One Republic, and includes songs co-written with friends and peers including Jason Mraz and others. Conclave executive director Bob Shannon says of Keaton, “‘No Rain In The Forecast’ is the tune I’m singing. His appearance at the KTWN rooftop party during Conclave 38 will be a night of great music, baseball and beer. How could it get better than that?”
The NAB Announces Panelists for Leadership Breakfast. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) announce the panelists for the 2013 Radio Show Leadership Breakfast, titled “Opportunities in a Changing Economy,” presented by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. The event will be held Thursday, September 19, from 7:15 am to 9:00 am at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando. The Leadership Breakfast will feature a panel discussion about expanding opportunities in radio for acquisitions and revenue in a growing economy. Panelists include Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus Media; Mary Quass, CEO of NRG Media; Jeff Warshaw, CEO of Connoisseur Media and Larry Wilson, CEO of Alpha Broadcasting and L&L Broadcasting. The panel will be moderated by Lew Paper, a partner with Pillsbury, and will be preceded by opening remarks from Marci Ryvicker, managing director, senior equity analyst, for Wells Fargo Securities, LLC.
Centennial Stations Win Virginia Association of Broadcasters Awards. Centennial Broadcasting II, LLC’s Fredericksburg, Virginia, hot AC WBQB “B101.5” and “NewsTalk 1230” WFVA (formerly adult standards during the contest period), won five First Place awards at the 76th Annual Virginia Association of Broadcasters Awards Banquet held June 21 at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel. WBQB won the following awards in the Medium Market category: 1st Place – Outstanding Website; and 1st Place – Best Commercial – Steamers Seafood Grill and Bar Star Search. WFVA won the following awards in the Medium Market category: 1st Place – Outstanding News Series: “Battle of Fredericksburg”; 1st Place – Best Human Interest Series: “Teen Violence Turns Personal”; and 1st Place – Best Documentary Or Public Affairs Program: “Sniper: 10 Years Later.” Market manager Tom Hamilton states, “I am so proud of the sensational, award-winning talent at B101.5 and NewsTalk 1230 WFVA. This is certainly a reflection of their passion for creating great radio and their dedication to the Fredericksburg community.” WBQB and WFVA operations manager Chuck Archer says, “There is one word that comes to mind when I think of the individuals involved in the creation of these award winning pieces and that’s ‘passion.’ They eat, drink, breathe and sleep great radio and constantly find ways of making it better.”
Odds & Sods. SiriusXM talk show host Michael Smerconish calls his most recent story about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s chances of winning the White House in 2016 published Philadelphia magazine “neither a valentine, nor a hit piece, but rather an analytical look at what impediments he will face if he runs.”…..SiriusXM announces music, TV and movie icon Cher will answer fan questions during an intimate Q&A session with an audience of listeners as part of its “Town Hall” series. The program will be moderated by original Studio 54 doorman Marc Benecke and Myra Scheer, executive assistant to former Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell, and current hosts of the Marc and Myra show SiriusXM’s Studio 54 Radio.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” with co-hosts Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the program schedule at WBLF, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania and WBAT, Marion, Indiana….. Genesis Communications Network-syndicated “Freedom Feens” with Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi is added to the program schedule at WGAW, Gardner, Massachusetts and WLSC, Loris, South Carolina…..GCN-syndicated “America Tonight” with host Kate Delaney adds affiliates WLEE, Richmond, Virginia and WTLS, Tallassee, Alabama…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” featuring Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete is added to the program lineup at CKLW, Windsor/Detroit and WADB, Asbury Park, New Jersey…..“The Commercial Real Estate Show” with Michael Bull adds affiliates KIVA, Albuquerque and WGKA, Atlanta.
SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 24-28. The Supreme Court’s striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissing and appeal of California’s Proposition 8 on jurisdictional grounds was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the Obama emissions policy. Following at #3 was the NSA surveillance program and the case of Edward Snowden and at #4 was the death of the Texas anti-abortion bill. 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. View this week’s entire chart here.
Cumulus Q1 Revenue Drops 1.3%. The 2013 first quarter revenue numbers for Cumulus Media were $232 million – a decrease of $3.1 million or 1.3% compared to the same period a year ago. In its filing with the SEC, the company attributes the drop to “lower political revenues and general lower advertising spending in some of our markets.”
Lew Dickey Says Underperforming Stations Improving But Not Fixed; Syndicated Talk ‘Continues to Be Challenged.’ During the Tuesday conference call with investors announcing Cumulus Media’s 2013 first quarter revenue figures, CEO Lew Dickey addressed the syndicated talk division’s performance as well as six of its major market news/talk stations. Quick to address the 10 major market stations he’d blamed for pulling down the entire company’s previous revenue totals, he said, “Several of our big news/talk stations are now growing, including: WABC – which is leading the pack in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WLS in Chicago, KSFO in San Francisco, WMAL in Washington, D.C. and WJR in Detroit, all are growing. Our team is working very hard, and we’ve adapted to ad market changes. And again, these stations are now posting revenue growth.” He only vaguely touched on the Rush Limbaugh controversy during Q&A saying network sales has been challenged but is starting to pick up. Dickey praised the company’s heritage AM talkers for their potential and stated, “Our charge over the next five years is to continue to expose our audience and all of these major markets to the industry’s most talented performers while developing the next generation of talk radio superstars. By the way, this is true for our sports talk stations as well.” Dickey said that original group of 10 trouble franchises is down to six. “And we confirm our earlier statement that this original group of 10 stations would be negative in the first quarter, flat in Q2 and then rebounding in the back half of the year to post positive full year growth in 2013. And in fact, we can say that we’re actually a little ahead of that schedule right now.” But he also noted that while WBAP, Dallas is starting to come around, KGO, San Francisco – which it turned to largely a news station – is still not where they want it to be. Regarding the company’s deal with CBS Radio and the CBS Sports Radio Network, Dickey reports the rollout has reached almost 300 affiliates and is surpassing expected revenue targets. “We are highly encouraged by our early success and expect CBS Sports Radio to be a material growth driver in 2014 and beyond.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. You can read the entire transcript here.
Talk Radio Network and Phil Hendrie to End Syndication Effort. Talk Radio Network announces that it will cease syndication of the Phil Hendrie radio program as of June 25, 2013. TRN began syndicating the program in 2007 after it had been parted from its original syndicator – Premiere Networks – for about a year. TRN CEO Mark Masters states, “I believed in Phil then, and I still think he is a comic genius on air. He will always be a radio icon to me. We are proud to have rebuilt the Phil Hendrie show by adding over 100 stations, along with creating robust growth to Phil’s online presence, but, due to world events, the economy, and the state of radio in this country, we have decided to go in another direction in that daypart – we wish Phil all the best in his future endeavors.” From his perspective, Hendrie issues the following statement: “Phil Hendrie has elected not to pursue any further association with Talk Radio Network. As he delves deeper into his successful digital platform and ongoing television and film work, Hendrie remains open to terrestrial radio opportunities, but only those with strong sales, marketing and programming support.”
Cox Media Group Promotes Kim Guthrie to EVP Radio; Jane Williams to EVP Television and Marian Pittman to VP of News & Marketing for TV. Cox Media Group announces several promotions. Kim Guthrie, who had been serving as senior vice president of radio, overseeing all of the company’s radio stations, is promoted to executive vice president of radio and she reports to new CMG president Bill Hoffman. Guthrie joined Cox Radio in 1998 as VP and GM for its Long Island, properties and has been Regional VP for Cox Radio, where her stations have won multiple honors – including Marconi awards, Crystal Awards, New York Air Awards, AWRT Gracie Awards – for programming excellence and outstanding community service. Hoffman says of Guthrie (and EVP of television Jane Williams), “Both are proven CMG leaders and are highly respected throughout the media industry. Kim and Jane, along with our local leadership, have ensured our broadcast stations’ ongoing success, and I am honored to have them in these vitally-strategic executive positions.” At the same time, Marian Pittman is promoted from her post as station manager of WSB-TV, Atlanta to vice president of news & marketing for television for the company.
J Chapman Heads Up Woof Boom Radio to Buy Indiana Stations. The Backyard Broadcasting Muncie, Indiana market stations that Woof Boom is buying include: hot AC WLBC, oldies WERK, sports talk WXFN, news/talk WHBU, and classic rock simulcast WMXQ and WMQX “Max.” Jerry “J” Chapman’s Woof Boom Radio is made up of a group of local investors, headed by Chapman, who have formed Woof Boom Radio, a nod to the longtime dominance of WFBM in Indiana broadcasting from the beginnings of radio in the 1920s until the mid-1970s. The other owners include: Ray Kennedy, Conormara Investments; Jason Farmer, managing director of WestBridge Investments; and Aaron Reitz. In a statement, Woof Boom says of Chapman, “A 17-year radio executive with Indianapolis-based Emmis and most recently with Maverick Media of Rockford, Illinois, Chapman is a graduate of Hanover and literally grew up in the broadcasting industry. His father led Indianapolis WFBM Radio & TV for three decades, and J got an early start in the media business when assigned by his father to mow the grass at the TV station’s north side Indianapolis transmitter site.” Chapman says of his new venture, “I’m very excited to come home and put my years of experience in the vibrant radio industry to good use back in Indiana. The stations we’re acquiring are vital links between listeners and the local community. We intend to utilize those radio resources to help grow our customers’ businesses and to improve the quality of entertainment and information in our new communities. Best of all, the management of this group of stations will be local to serve local needs. We want to make a great thing even better, and Woof Boom Radio intends to start off on the right foot.”
The Secret of Managing Controversy. As the talk radio industry grapples with the dilemma of balancing the two realities of controversy (on the plus side, it attracts loyal audience – on the downside, it attracts enemies and scares advertisers) noted media consultant and TALKERS columnist Walter Sabo offers a simple solution. In an article posted today (5/8) he cites a simple but powerfully effective method used by some of the greatest talk radio managers of all time: Let the hosts be opinionated, controversial and even outrageous – but keep the station itself absolutely neutral! He goes on to explain why this is key to a successful operation. To read Walter Sabo’s entire piece, click here.
Mark Carbonaro Remains with KION, Salinas in News Capacity. Yesterday, TALKERS reported that Mark Carbonaro was out at Clear Channel’s KION, Salinas, California as the company was importing KSTE, Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty for morning drive. We learn via The Californian that Carbonaro remains with the station handling the morning drive news operations and other news department duties. General manager Rhonda McCormack tells the paper, “We are continuing to evolve our product with new and compelling offerings that will complement Mark’s contributions and allow him more time and flexibility to cover local news and events. It was a business decision. We think Armstrong & Getty will resonate well with the audience on KION. Mark Carbonaro is on Monday – Friday, 6:00 am to 9:00 am with Armstrong & Getty. Mark reports on the local news, sports, weather and traffic, plus expert segments that will run throughout the day, Monday through Friday and on Saturday mornings in the 10:00 am hour, ‘The Saturday Insider with Mark Carbonaro.’”
Cheryl Winer Named National Account Manager for Sun Broadcast Group. Radio sales pro Cheryl Winer is named national account manager for Sun Broadcast Group where she’ll work from the company’s New York City office assisting in servicing the company’s fast-growing roster of agency and client partners. Founder and CEO Jason Bailey states, “2013 has been such an exciting time in our company’s growth. With the addition of Cheryl to our first-class sales team I truly believe we send a clear message to the industry that Sun Broadcast Group is, and will continue to be, the leader in a very new kind of service for network radio advertisers and program suppliers.” Speaking about her new position with Sun, Winer says, “Over the past several years I have been searching for an entrepreneurial environment, which would replicate my experience at Premiere in the early days. I am so very excited to say that I have found that in Sun Broadcast Group! I look forward to participating in the growth of this fast-paced, cutting edge company.”
Arbitron Reports Q1 Revenue Up 5.1%. Income for the ratings firm was down to $0.60 per share for the first quarter of 2013, compared to $0.64 per share during the same period in 2012. However, income was up 5.1% on revenue of $111.8 million compared to the same period a year ago. The company states that costs and expenses increased 8.3% from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013. “In addition to the $3.2 million of expenses related to the pending Nielsen transaction, costs in the quarter increased as a result of planned incremental investments in Arbitron Mobile panels, costs associated with address-based sampling, in-person recruiting, and cell-phone household recruiting.” President and CEO Sean Creamer states, “In the first quarter, we continued to pursue our long-standing objectives: maintaining our investments in the quality of our radio ratings services, growing our core revenue, and entering new markets such as digital radio, cross-platform, and mobile. Our focus on the quality of our core services helped us achieve Media Rating Council accreditation of four additional Portable People Meter markets in February. Our goal remains achieving or maintaining accreditation in all our syndicated radio markets. We continue working to leverage our investment in the PPM technology and consumer panels utilizing our platform in new initiatives such as advertising and promotion effectiveness studies, while enhancing our measurement capabilities for radio and across platforms.”
Saga Communications Q1 Net Revenue Down 1.3%. To use the words of Saga Communications SVP, treasurer and CFO Sam Bush, the first quarter of 2013 was “challenging” for the company. In a conference call with investors, Bush reports that the company saw a dramatic decline in political advertising from the first quarter of 2012 to the same period in 2013. Gross national revenue was also down by more than $500,000 but a good quarter for local revenue helped combat that drop.
Salem Communications Sees 1.3% Revenue Dip in Q1. That’s across the board for all of Salem’s platforms and comes largely because Salem had such an outstanding 2012 in the political advertising category. Breaking things apart a bit, CEO Ed Atsinger reports that the company’s business news segment is doing well, increasing 4% while the news/talk radio division was down 7%. The Christian teaching formats were down 3% though the Christian contemporary group was up 5% compared to the same period a year ago. The Salem Radio Network was down 10% from Q1 in 2012.
WTOP, Washington Site the Victim of Hacking. Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED had their websites hacked earlier this week. The attacks may have affected visitors using Internet Explorer but not other web browsers. A message on WTOP.com states, “WTOP.com is currently dealing with a malicious cyber attack. We are working diligently to contain and stop the attack, and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.” The Washington Post reports that an internet security expert says the hackers installed two types of malware – one designed to look like an anti-virus software service that would get the subscriber’s credit card number, the other designed to control clicks from the user’s computer to inflate the number of actual clicks on digital ads.
Benghazi Whistleblower, Cleveland Women Freed from Captivity, Sanford South Carolina Race, Immigration Amnesty Issue and North Korea Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/7). The testimony about the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi; the case of the Cleveland women freed from captivity after 10 years; the South Carolina race for House seat between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch; the amnesty for illegal immigrants issue; and North Korea’s military threats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Mike Huckabee Considers Radio Future in Arkansas Business Story. In a piece that ran in Arkansas Business yesterday, Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host – and former Arkansas governor and U.S. presidential candidate – Mike Huckabee speaks openly about his current media projects and how his political experience has helped his media career. Huckabee gives no clear indication he’ll stop doing the daily three-hour show, but neither does he sound all-in when he states, “Within the next month, I’ll decide if I want to continue it or not. I know we will, but it’s just such an incredibly intensive process that I really have to decide that I want to spend that kind of time…” Huckabee describes the long days preparing for the program and how he works that in with his Fox News Channel weekend program. “I’ve got to always weigh how much time I’m putting in it and what the return is. How long it will take to make it what I call hopefully disgustingly profitable. That’s what one always hopes for in a deal like this.” Read the entire story here.
Can Radio Overcome its Smothering Debt and Be a Viable Business in this New Era? That, according to Michael Harrison is THE existential question facing the industry today — and one that TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo tackle head-on in a blockbuster article posted May 2 in BOTH trade publications. Researched and written by TALKERS/RadioInfo west coast bureau chief/managing editor Mike Kinosian, this extensive piece taps deeply into the experience, wisdom and vision of a stellar panel of industry power-players who share their real world perspectives of this pressing issue that directly ties into the future of radio as both a medium and a business. They include (in alphabetical order): Sandi Bergman of MyMediaBroker, Ed Christian of Saga Communications, Erica Farber of the RAB, Charlie Gross of Newsweb Radio Corp., Michael Harrison of TALKERS/RadioInfo, Jerry Lee of WBEB (“B101″) in Philadelphia, Chuck Lontine of Headwaters MB, David Pearlman of American Radio Systems, Ed Perry of WATD in Marshfield, MA, Tom Quinn of Americom Broadcasting, Jeff Smulyan of Emmis Broadcasting, Peter Smyth of Greater Media and Dave Van Dyke of Radiate Media. Upon the publication of this information-packed article, TALKERS/RadioInfo VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “This is one of the most important pieces published in the radio trades in years and I advise anyone in this business who cares about its future to take the time to read it thoroughly. It dives right into the most pressing issue facing all of us today and provides insight from all angles – big-time groups, large and small market stations, investment banks, services providers, and advertising advocates. A piece like this gets to the very heart of what will determine radio’s future – its ability to function and options to consider as a viable business in a daunting, obstacle-ridden environment.” Read Mike Kinosian’s story here.
Mark Carbonaro Out at KION, Salinas, California; Armstrong & Getty In. According to a report in The Californian, local morning drive host Mark Carbonaro’s program has been replaced on KION, Salinas with the Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty show. Californian writer Jeff Mitchell reports that calls to local management were not returned prior to his deadline. Both KION and Armstrong & Getty’s home station KSTE are owned by Clear Channel.
WNSR, Nashville to Get FM Simulcast in June. Nashville Sports Radio’s WNSR, Nashville will simulcast on 95.9 in addition to its 560 signal early this summer. The station says it will position itself as “Nashville’s SportsRadio 560 on 95.9 FM.” The new FM signal will be located near the Davidson/Williamson County line, providing excellent 24-hour coverage of WNSR’s programming. General sales manager and afternoon host Thom Abraham states, “Before the Predators and Titans, WNSR brought sports programming to the airwaves in Nashville. This station has stayed true to the format for over 15 years and we are now excited to make it available on the FM band. The new logo puts the emphasis on WNSR, which has stood for Nashville’s Sports Radio since 1997, something we are very proud of, and something I have come to appreciate since coming here four years ago.”
Fox News Radio Offers Memorial Day Weekend Specials. The network is offering two hour-long special programs for air during the Memorial Day Weekend. “Remembering Iraq” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Griff Jenkins and reflects on the 10 years since the United States entered the Iraq War. Jenkins will take a look at the front lines and those who were affected by the war, including the men and women who served as well as their spouses and children. “The Next Disaster” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Janice Dean. It’s a multi-part series that examines disasters, including tornados, earthquakes and terrorist attacks and how to best prepare for them. Additionally, Dean will take a look at how weather forecasting and other technology have helped people prepare for natural disasters in the past and will also report on the impact of early warnings. More information about the specials can be found on the Fox News Radio affiliate website in the specials section.
Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa Gets FM Simulcast on 95.3. The signal is 250-watt translator W237CW that was most recently simulcasting the audio of Clear Channel’s hip hop WBTP “95.7 The Beat.” CC flips it over to sports talker WDAE. The AM 620 signal of WDAE covers the market just fine but now the station will have an FM presence that’s strongest in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Clearwater.
Benghazi Cover-up Allegations, Syria-Israel Tensions, Obama OSU Commencement, and North Korea Missile Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/6). New information regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the political ramifications; military tensions between Israel and Syria; President Obama’s commencement speech at Ohio State University over the weekend; and the North Korean missile threat were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Limbaugh-Cumulus Talk Radio Sales Issue Plays Out in Consumer Press. In a piece in the New York Daily News published over the weekend, the war of words over challenged sales of talk radio time at Cumulus Media properties (specifically WABC) became public as the paper quoted a “source close to Limbaugh” said, in effect, that Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey needs to stop blaming Rush Limbaugh for sales trouble at his news/talk stations. Dickey has made public statements – at both investor conference calls and in media appearances – about the negative effect of Rush Limbaugh’s February 2012 Sandra Fluke “slut” controversy that he says is still dragging down sales at his major market news/talk stations. As the Daily News story reports, Cumulus claimed that the high-profile controversy was responsible for lost millions in the first two quarters of 2012. But the story quotes the Limbaugh source stating, “Dickey keeps complaining about falling revenue, but his stations have long lagged behind their competitors in sales by a substantial margin. Rush Limbaugh’s ratings have outperformed every other program on WABC and many other Cumulus stations for years.” The piece notes that Cumulus is not commenting on this latest salvo. Limbaugh’s Premiere Networks contract with WABC, New York expires at the end of 2013 and with Clear Channel’s recent purchase of crosstown WOR, some industry watchers expect his program will move to WOR in 2014.
Michael Savage-TRN Actions Still in the Courts. The legal activity surrounding talk radio host Michael Savage’s successful bid to free himself from his Talk Radio Network contract last fall and subsequently sign on with Cumulus Media Networks is still in the courts. Michael Savage celebrated a Thursday, May 2 ruling in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in which Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers upheld the arbitration panel’s decision to release him from his contract and award him $863,454 plus other money from earnings. Responding to the ruling, Original Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters states, “We are appealing this ruling. We are confident of a successful outcome for OTRN in this next round of appeals.” Speaking to World Net Daily, Savage attorney Dan Horowitz says the case “establishes the ability of radio talent to break away from an employer like any other employee.”
Glenn Beck Delivers Keynote Address at NRA Convention. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk radio host and television and digital media entrepreneur Glenn Beck delivered the keynote address at this year’s NRA Convention held in Houston over the weekend. He’s pictured here during the speech holding a rifle given to him prior to an appearance in Kentucky. His 1 hour and 40 minute presentation was far more than a typical keynote delivered from behind a podium. Glenn Beck’s skills as a speaker and performer were clearly evident as he kept the audience rapt and engaged during what might have been an interminable amount of time to witness a lesser talented public speaker work. The politics of his message aside and from a purely industrial standpoint, his keynote at this event was a great example of how a top-notch communicator effectively delivers a message and shows why he stands above so many of his colleagues. See the speech here. Glenn Beck will also be speaking at the Talkers New York 2013 industry conference (although for a shorter period of time) on Thursday, June 6 where he will be receiving the 2013 Freedom of Speech Award.
Photograph Case Brings Legal Issues Home for Broadcasters. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says the legal issues surrounding the use of a photograph of a young man with Down Syndrome by Cox Media’s WHPT, Tampa on its website are numerous and serve as an excellent case from which broadcasters can learn. As we reported recently, the family of the young man – Adam Holland, who was 17 when the picture of him was taken in 2004 – is suing Cox Media in federal court in Tennessee for invasion of privacy, misappropriation of a likeness, defamation, intentional infliction of emotion distress and violation of a Tennessee statute regarding commercial exploitation of a person’s photograph. Weisman writes that photos such as the one of Adam Holland can become internet memes — images, videos, photographs or phrases that rapidly spread throughout the internet by way of search engines, social networking services, social news sites or video hosting services. Weisman states, “Often these memes may be altered for purposes of parody of the original work, a use that is protected in accordance with a long line of court decisions. However, other times there are serious intellectual property issues when an original work is used or adapted for commercial purposes as was the case with the use by WHPT. While the exception to the intellectual property laws of ‘fair use’ may apply when a piece is altered and used, as often is done on the internet, for non-commercial purposes, this defense does not apply when intellectual property is used for commercial purposes.” Read more of Weisman’s analysis of this case here.
Using Facebook to Turn News/Talk Radio Social Media Initiatives into a “Loyalty Content Marketing” Program: In a new article posted today (5/6), noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chis Miller advises readers, “You can turn your social media into a ‘loyalty content marketing’ program for those ultra-passionate fans you have.” Miller points out, “Unfortunately, just about all news/talk stations with a Facebook page have the same problem. There’s a lot of content posted about news. However, there is almost no content about what the talk shows are doing. I’m sure syndication is one reason for this; if the talk host is not in the building, how are you going to know what he or she is planning to talk about, and when? Even so, this is a problem with local talk hosts, too. I don’t see a lot of social media content about local shows. Those local talk host posts that I do see often don’t offer a lot of specifics. I’m not told when to listen; I’m not told why I would want to listen; I’m not invited to engage.” Miller shares a couple of basic but extremely valuable tips about how to use Facebook and Twitter more effectively for your news/talk station. To read the entire article, click here.
Holland Cooke Asks: Do Your Station Promos Sound ‘Like Blah, Blah, Blah?’ In a new article posted today (5/6) noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke tackles the ever-important goal of increasing Time Spent Listening (TSL). He says one of the keys to accomplishing this is to make effective use of station promos stating: “Nothing we say about the station on air adds listeners, because the only people who hear promos are already listening.” He says it is vital to think about your demos and specifically what they are doing and care about while listening when writing and producing promos. He addresses each of these considerations in the article, concluding, “Give a listen, outside the station and outside the box. Every time you hear your station say-something-about-itself – live format language, or produced promo — ask yourself: Will THAT cause a listener to come back again another time?” To read Holland Cooke’s entire column, click here.
Indiana Sports Broadcaster Greg Rakestraw to Program WFNI, Indianapolis. Emmis Communications announces Indiana sports broadcaster Greg Rakestraw is the new program director for its sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis “1070 The Fan.” The position opened up when Alan Furst left WFNI and sister news/talk WIBC-FM to join Radio One’s all-news KROI, Houston back in December. The company upped then-WFNI PD David Wood to programmer for WIBC, leaving the slot open. Rakestraw has worked at numerous Indianapolis stations including sports talkers WNDE and WXLW as well as at cable TV operation Home Town Sports Indiana.
WPRO, Providence Late-Morning Host John DePetro to Host Live Interview Series. WPRO, Providence talk show host John DePetro is hosting a live interview series at the newly re-opened Greenwich Odeum theater in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. On Wednesday, May 8, DePetro will host former Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, Alex and Ani CEO Giovanni Feroce, and Father Bernie Healey, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, who also serves as Chaplain of the Rhode Island Capitol Police. He’ll speak with each for 30 minutes before a live audience as part of a fundraiser for the theater as all proceeds will go to the Odeum. DePetro says he chose the three guests for their interesting background and ability to tell good stories. He also likes the chance to facilitate a discussion before a live audience, telling the Warwick Beacon, “All of these people are very, very well skilled in the art of being good conversationalists. I’m more of a mechanism to get them to tell their stories. It’s been really fun to put it together with the speakers. They’ve been very receptive.”
Mike Greenberg Survives “The Mess.” ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg proudly brandishes the trophy he was awarded for completing the “Mike & Mike the Mess” obstacle course at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. Greenberg (second from left) is pictured here with his family – wife Stacy, son Stephen and daughter Nicole – after making good on his wager with co-host Mike Golic in the “Mike & Mike Sheets of Integrity Challenge Presented by Werner Ladder.” The annual challenge pits the two hosts against each other as they fill out their March Madness brackets prior to the annual college hoops tourney.
Jacobs Media Summer School 4 to Kick Off Conclave Learning Conference. The Conclave announces the high impact sessions for Jacobs Media’s Summer School 4 which kicks off the 38th annual Conclave Learning Conference on Wednesday, July 17. Executive director Bob Shannon states, “Conclave 38 begins with what has become a tradition, the fourth annual Jacobs Media Summer School. This year, as part of our commitment to provide ideas that folks can actually take back to work and use, we’ll learn how winners think, how great morning shows are built, and how non-media companies are using social media in ways radio has never thought of. And, that’s just the first day of this year’s Conclave. Stay tuned for more agenda announcements this week.” The Summer School curriculum will include: One-to-one with Jaye Albright; Talent Development; Mobile 2.0; Simply Social; Inside the Mind of Dave Hamilton; Jobs To Do and much more. Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs says, “We have a great lineup for this year’s Summer School, including the star power of Rockwell inductee Jaye Albright to the legendary Dave Hamilton. Plus, the social media guru from the Mall of America – Bridget Jewell – and Target stores – Joe Curry. And we’ll have great sessions including social media effectiveness, what’s new in mobile apps and the challenge of the ‘digital dash.’”
More Big Changes at Dial Global as Spencer Brown and Ken Williams Resign; Time, Inc. CRO Paul Caine to Take Over as CEO. Dial Global announces that Paul Caine has resigned his post as chief revenue officer at Time, Inc. to become the chief executive officer of Dial Global and become a member of the board of directors. Spencer Brown resigns his post as CEO and Ken Williams does the same as president. The two will stay on until April 4 when the change takes place. The company says, “Caine joins to create a new opportunity for Dial Global to expand the marketing and monetization of audio, starting with the Company’s lineup of premier sports, entertainment and news content that includes the NFL primetime games (including the Playoffs and Super Bowl), the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, CBS Radio News, NBC News Radio, the NBC Sports Radio Network, and the Grammys. As mobile platforms continue to multiply the occasions for listening, the demand for premium digital audio content is growing fast. This represents a substantial, undeveloped opportunity for content providers, distribution partners and marketers alike.” Paul Caine says of joining the company, “Dial Global will propel the growth of audio as the essential medium for the mobile experience. We have premium content, top-tier distribution, and prestigious live event assets. Our opportunity is to expand these experiences for consumers, broaden our repertoire of content partners, and integrate our on-air, digital and live event offerings to create compelling engagement for advertisers.” In a statement from the company, Spencer Brown comments on his exit, “Along with our former partner David Landau, Ken and I have taken Dial Global a long way. Now the company needs a chief executive with a different skill set to steer it through its next phase of growth. We believe Paul is uniquely well-qualified to do just that.”
Cumulus Reports 2012 Q4 Net Revenue Up 1% on Strong Political. Cumulus Media announces 2012 Q4 numbers and financial figures for the whole of 2012. For the fourth quarter of 2012, Net revenue was up $2.9 million – 1% — on revenue of $284.2 million, compared to $281.3 for the same period a year ago.
Lew Dickey Says with Promised Synergies in Place, ‘Cumulus Optimizes’ and ‘Invigorates’ Radio Networks Division. During Monday’s conference call with analysts, Cumulus Media chairman and CEO Lew Dickey explained some of the company’s strategies and recognized the programming efforts that included “launching shows with Governor Mike Huckabee, Geraldo Rivera, Sanjay Gupta and Michael Savage as well as some other initiatives that we have focused on. We also announced the launch of, importantly, the CBS Sports Radio Network in collaboration with CBS, and the launch of Right Now Traffic in partnership with Radiate Media. These give us strong ownership positions going forward into two key verticals, sports and traffic.” Lew Dickey reiterated the company’s happiness with the purchase of the former WFME, Newark, calling it “a tremendous value at just $40 million.” As expected he promoted Cumulus’ country music strategy, saying the new WNSH, New York “enabled us to bring the country format back to New York for the first time since the mid-90s…with a very strong brand, ‘NASH FM.’ The NASH brand was extremely well received by listeners, advertisers, general media and particularly the Nashville entertainment community, and we further capitalized on this with a three-day concert for our advertisers and listeners last month, which was the ‘NASH BASH’ at the Roseland ballroom. NASH FM will become the flagship for our larger national country initiative that we are in the process of rolling out throughout the rest of this year. It will ultimately be a multimedia platform brand for Cumulus, targeting that key audience segment, which is about 85 million Americans. It will be through our O&O group as well as syndicated through our network…as well as through a mult-imedia platform.” Dickey told analysts he expects the NASH FM, traffic, CBS Sports and digital platforms to break even in 2013 and be poised for profit in 2014 saying they are, “in essence, startup businesses, new entrants into respective arenas such as sports, and traffic in particular.” Dickey was asked about the network business, the talk business in particular and he referenced, without naming names, the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke incident. “Clearly, it’s been well documented that the talk side has been challenged – most of that due to some of the issues that happened a year ago. So there has been residual hangover on the talk side in terms of advertisers sitting out and not placing there…that’s had an impact not only on our network business but it’s had an impact on some of the news/talk stations in the top markets in our O&O group.” Dickey reported that business that is typically placed in the first quarter was, in many cases not placed until the late part of the first quarter of this year and a lot of that business “is now starting to come back into the marketplace.” The Cumulus Media conference call details come courtesy of Seeking Alpha. See more at SeekingAlpha.com.
KPRC, Houston Re-Brands; Adds Janine Turner for Daily PM Drive Show. Clear Channel Houston talk outlet KPRC finalizes its shift from a more “hot talk” format to a more traditional news/talk format and swaps branding, leaving behind the “9-5-0 Radio Mojo” and implementing the new “Houston’s More Stimulating Talk Radio” positioner. The lineup includes: Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo in morning drive; Premiere’s Glenn Beck; local host Michael Garfield; local personality Matt Patrick (who’s also heard in AM drive on sister KTRH); and Janine Turner. Texas-based Turner – the actress known for her work on the 1990s TV show “Northern Exposure” – has been producing her own radio show for a couple of years now and is added to the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot on KPRC.
Greater Media Philly Honored with Top Workplaces Accolades for Second Straight Year. In a survey of employees conducted by Workplace Dynamics for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com, Greater Media’s Philadelphia cluster of stations was named among the Top Workplaces again this year. VP and market manager John Fullam says, “Great companies start with great employees. We believe the workplace environment is an essential part of creating a successful organization. We are fortunate to have such an outstanding team dedicated to serving Philadelphia, our listeners and advertising partners every day.” Greater Media operates rock WMMR, classic rock WMGK, adult hits WBEN-FM and sports talk WPEN-FM.
Arbitron Releases the RADAR March 2013 Radio Network Ratings. Arbitron reports that the RADAR (Radio’s All Dimension Audience Research) March 2013 “is the standard currency for national network radio ratings and measures 46 individual radio networks.” The networks are operated by American Urban Radio Networks, Crystal Media Networks, Cumulus Media Networks, Dial Global Inc., Premiere Networks, and United Stations Radio Networks. The survey concludes “that nearly 180 million Persons 12 and older, or approximately 68% of this demographic, heard one or more network radio commercials in an average week of the survey period.” Further, the survey states commercials that aired on the 46 radio networks measured reached: 68.2 % of Persons aged 12+ (179,923,000 Persons); 68.6% of Persons aged 18+ (163,738,000 Persons); 68.1% of Persons aged 35+ (113,417,000 Persons); 70.9% of Persons aged 18-49 (95,091,000 Persons); and 71.7% of Persons aged 25-54 (89,654,000Persons).
Premiere Networks Touts ‘Strong Rankings’ in RADAR 116. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment-owned Premiere Networks sells 17 of the 46 networks included in Arbitron’s RADAR 116. In this survey, Premiere lays claim to having “earned the number one spot in rankings for AQH and Cume among all 46 measured RADAR networks in RADAR 116 for Persons 12+. Premiere FOX News Advantage ranked number one on an AQH basis for Persons 12+ (All Broadcasts, Monday-Sun 5AM-12M, AQH) and Premiere Spectrum debuted in RADAR 116 as the highest-reaching network for Persons 12+ (All Broadcasts, Monday-Sunday 12Midnight-12Midnight broad daypart, Cume). Premiere also points to the performance of its networks based on lifestyle groupings, stating, “Young Influencers and Premiere Super Moms ranked number one and two, respectively, in reaching Moms 25-54 (Women 25-54 with children under 12). Premiere Super Moms took the lead position followed by Premiere Young Influencers in reach for Working Women 25-54 (work status: full time/part time) among all 46 measured RADAR networks in RADAR 116 (All Broadcasts, Monday-Sunday 12Midnight-12Midnight broad daypart, cume audience). The RADAR 116 sample consists of 395,844 diary keepers/PPM panelists/respondents. PPM panelists comprise approximately 53% of the total respondent listening sample.
Effects of Sequester/Budget Battle, State of the Republican Party, Cyprus Bank Deposit Tax, Steubenville Rape Case, and Tom Perez Named Labor Secretary Nominee Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/18). The budget battle in Washington and the effects of the sequester; analysis of the state of the Republican party and its future; the Cyprus bank deposit tax and its effect on world markets; the guilty verdicts in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case; and President Obama’s nomination of Tom Perez as labor secretary were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Wins First Round in Birmingham Non-Compete Case. A federal judge in Birmingham has ruled that sports talk WZNN “ESPN 97.3” program director Ryan Haney cannot work for the Cox Media station until more evidence is heard at a hearing scheduled for March 4. The Birmingham News reports Cumulus sought the prohibition after Haney – who had been with its crosstown competitor WJOX for the past 14 years – left the PD job there on January 21and began working at WZNN a week later. Cumulus claims Haney breached the six-month non-compete in his contract. Cumulus also states Haney could not work for a competitor during that time without giving Cumulus a chance to match the prospective employer’s offer. The animosity between the two sports talk stations did not begin with Haney’s case. In 2012, Cumulus and Birmingham sports talk personality Paul Finebaum engaged in a legal tussle over his employment situation but Finebaum eventually worked out his contract with WJOX and is sitting out a six-month non-compete after which it is widely assumed he’ll join WZNN. On a side note, Cox Media has put its Birmingham properties – including WZNN – up for sale.
Lew Dickey Tells Bloomberg “We’re Seeing a Shift in Spoken-Word Radio.” During an appearance on Bloomberg TV’s “In the Loop” program, Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey discussed his company’s plans involving marketing vertically based on the lifestyle appeal to consumers interested in certain types of entertainment. Although still bullish on Mike Huckabee and Geraldo Rivera, Dickey sounded much more behind sports than news/talk. “We’re seeing sort of a shift in spoken-word radio from political-based talk over to sports.” When asked why he stated, “I think people may be tired of all the partisan bickering so the ratings are a bit down in talk but they’re moving up nicely in sports.” Dickey said the reason sports is so popular among advertisers is because advertisers follow the audience and sports is popular right now.
Question of the Day: Why Do Radio Stations Still Announce School Closings? As the big Blizzard of ’13 begins to rumble across the Northeast (2/8), TALKERS monitors have been hearing morning shows across the region reading the perfunctory long lists of school closings within their listening areas. While there is no doubt that localism is proving to be a valuable asset to radio – especially when the medium rises to the occasion of serving the public interest during natural disasters and weather events - we have to shake our heads and wonder why so much valuable airtime is spent on reading these seemingly endless lists. Is it a matter of serving the public or just trying to sound like you’re doing so? It is a well-known (to parents and students alike) fact that most school districts in America post their snow status on their websites as soon as the information is available. If stations want in on that action they can list all the closings on their websites as well and announce that availability on the air. Considering that most, if not all, schools in a region close for blizzards, it would make a lot more sense to only announce those schools that might be choosing to remain open. Programmers might think that announcing school closings on the air over long chunks of time makes the station sound local and in touch – but in truth, it makes the station boring and seem out of touch.
Cumulus Birmingham Imports Sports Talk Duo from KTCK, Dallas. In a story related to the one above, Cumulus sports talker WJOX, Birmingham is bringing the duo of Matt McClearin and Scot Harrison from its Dallas sports outlet KTCK “The Ticket” in to take over the midday slot. The position opened up after Paul Finebaum exited the PM drive show at the end of his contract and the station moved “The Jox Roundtable” with Lance Taylor, Ryan Brown and Jim Dunaway to the PM drive position. McClearin and Harrison hosted a weekend program at KTCK.
TALKERS Spotlight: The Talk Radio Watchdogs. There was a time in the early days of the modern talk radio era when most markets could lay claim to at least one talk show host considered to be the local “watchdog.” He or she was feared by the power brokers in city hall and had a reputation for having the backs of the regular folks. They are not as prevalent in the format as they once were but they are still out there. Does the industry still value this breed of talk host? Does the public still want to listen to them? Do their station managers support them? TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian speaks with some of today’s “watchdogs” to get answers to these and other questions about their craft. Read his story here.
CBS Radio’s WHFS, Tampa Makes Lineup Changes. The new FM sports talk station CBS Radio put on the air in Tampa in August undergoes some changes. “Sportsradio 98.7 The Fan” cuts the morning show with Kirk McEwen and Chris Dingman to three hours and shifts Gary Shelton and Justin “The Commish” Pawlowski to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. The PM drive show with Rich Herrera and Anthony “Booger” McFarland moves to 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm and CBS Sports Radio’s Jim Rome slides into the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Evening host Todd Wright exits the station and The Fabulous Sports Babe moves from overnights to the evening show. CBS Sports Radio Networks’ Scott Ferrall and Damon Amendolara round out the late night and overnight shifts, respectively.
TuneIn Adds Four Pubcasters to its Offerings. Digital content aggregator TuneIn announces it has agreed to strategic alliances with major public broadcasters KQED, San Francisco; KCRW, Santa Monica; KEXP, Seattle; and American Public Media, which includes Southern California Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, Classical South Florida and nationally distributed programs. TuneIn VP of programming Kevin Straley states, “KQED, American Public Media, KCRW and KEXP have a rich history of offering listeners engaging, cutting-edge programming while supporting the radio community. Our goal at TuneIn is to bring the best programming from around the world to everyone, for free, wherever they are, and partnering with these respected public broadcasters brings us one step closer to that goal.” TuneIn also just unveiled a new website design featuring a new content-first display with large album cover photos and trending stations.
Odds & Sods. Tribune’s WGN, Chicago resumes its “Chicago Blackhawks Live” promotional series on February 18 at the city’s Old Town Pour House. The promotion is a series of one-hour radio broadcasts hosted over dinner throughout the 2012-2013 season featuring current Blackhawks players, legends, and front office executives with “WGN Sports Night” hosts David Kaplan, Brian Noonan, and Andrea Darlas. WGN began hosting these events during the 2011-2012 season and sold them out in record time…..SiriusXM announces legendary recording artist Tony Bennett will sit down for an intimate Q&A session with an audience of SiriusXM listeners, moderated by Alec Baldwin, at the SiriusXM studios in New York City as part of its “Town Hall” series. It’ll take place on Wednesday, February 13, and will air on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14, on the Siriusly Sinatra channel and on the SiriusXM Stars channel…..Clear Channel announces that Houston Astros play-by-play will shift from news/talk KTRH to its sports talk KBME “Sportstalk 790” beginning this season…..In another baseball note, Clear Channel’s WLW, Cincinnati re-ups with the MLB’s Reds through the 2017 season…..The Boston Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund – which benefits Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – are celebrating their 60th year working together to raise funds for cancer research and treatment. Part of that celebrating will include the 12th annual Red Sox Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon on Entercom’s WEEI and New England Sports Network on August 27 and 28. The event, which started in 2002, has raised more than $31 million for research, treatment, and care at Dana-Farber.
KYW, Philadelphia Awards Scholarship. CBS Radio’s KYW Newsradio awards the Richard Monetti Scholarship to local high school student Kimberly Coterwas (second from right) – one of the 86 students to graduate from KYW Newsradio 2012 Fall Newstudies program. She receives a $2,000 scholarship. The award was announced at the Newstudies Graduation ceremony on January 31. The Richard Monetti Scholarship is awarded every year to the Newstudies student who demonstrates the most potential and enthusiasm throughout the six-week student reporter program. The scholarship is named for Richard Monetti, a 1986 Newstudies graduate who was killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Additionally, 11 other students who participated in the Newstudies program received awards. CBS Radio 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.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Radio America’s Peter Schiff program picks up new affiliates for the program including: KPAM, Portland; WGUF, Ft. Myers, Florida; WEZS, Concord, New Hampshire; KFAR, Fairbanks, Alaska; and WTIM, Taylorville, Illinois….. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the program schedule at WTBF, Troy, Alabama. Also, existing affiliate combo WGVA, Geneva and WAUB, Auburn in the Finger Lakes region of New York adds Free Talk Live’s live Sunday show.
Sequester Cuts and Tax Hikes Issue Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 4-8. The debate in Washington over the coming sequester budget cuts and more tax increases was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, earning it the top spot on the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was immigration reform. At #3 was the costs of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and at #4 was gun legislation proposals. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America based on ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
KFI, Los Angeles’ John and Ken Appear on WOR, New York. New WOR, New York owner Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has begun airing talk radio duo John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou in the evenings on the station. On Wednesday night, a simulcast hour from the final hour of the pair’s highly rated KFI, Los Angeles program aired at 9:00 pm followed by a 10:00 pm hour of custom programming for the New York station. John and Ken are no strangers to the region having grown up in the New York area and having gotten their start on radio stations in the Tri-State Area. They rose to prominence during their stint at Trenton-based “New Jersey 101.5” (WKXW). John and Ken have been syndicated in the past. During a brief period in the late 1990s, the duo began a national syndication effort under Fisher Entertainment but that ended when they moved to KABC, Los Angeles to take the morning drive slot.
Peacock Sports Network Playing the Hits. In TALKERS magazine’s second part of its three-part series on the new sports talk radio players (and the growing field in general), managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian gets inside the heads of those involved in the new NBC Sports Radio Network that is launching its weekend programming this weekend and its full daily slate in April. NBC Sports Radio programmer Jack Silver tells TALKERS his network is focusing on finding talent it believes is the next generation. “The weekday and weekend lineups mirror the network’s mission statement, which is to be a new wave of sports talk. We did not hire the more traditional names. The developmental mindset we have is to find new sports talk talent. CBS Sports Radio has veterans like Jim Rome and Scott Ferrall. We are looking for the next versions of people like that, as well as Dan Patrick and [ESPN Radio morning personalities] ‘Mike [Greenberg] & Mike [Golic].’ We are producing this sports network like a rock station, with in-your-face production. To my ear, it feels like an FM talk station – which is my specialty. It is based on opinions and talk show topics.” Read Mike Kinosian’s entire piece here.
Cumulus Media Returns 44 Markets to Arbitron Diary Service. After three years with no Arbitron diary ratings service, Cumulus Media-owned stations in 44 markets will resume subscription to the service effective immediately. Cumulus Media and Arbitron announce they have agreed to a multi-year contract that brings Cumulus stations in the 44 markets back into the fold and renews the company’s PPM ratings service deal in the 17 PPM markets in which it operates. Arbitron states that the deal covers all 450 Cumulus stations in the 100 Cumulus radio markets currently surveyed by Arbitron. It also renews ratings agreements in 39 diary markets. In addition to diary and PPM local market ratings, the agreement also provides Cumulus with access to Arbitron software applications, Scarborough consumer profile services, and national and network radio ratings for Cumulus Media Networks. Cumulus has also agreed to collaborate with Arbitron on cross-platform services that would quantify the total impact of the Cumulus radio brand. Cumulus chairman and CEO Lew Dickey says, “With this agreement, Arbitron and Cumulus are demonstrating a long-term commitment to collaborate for the benefit of the radio industry. We will work closely with Arbitron on its ongoing quality and service enhancement initiatives. Specifically, we look forward to participating in the development of an integrated, total radio audience service that gives broadcasters full credit for our audiences regardless of how listeners access our content.”
Herman Cain is Coming and Consultant Holland Cooke Predicts Success. Businessman, talk show host and one-time presidential candidate Herman Cain is prepping to take over the WSB, Atlanta and Cox Media syndication of the Neal Boortz program when Boortz retires this month. Radio consultant Holland Cooke predicts Cain will succeed and offers eight reasons why, beginning with: “He’s a radio natural, as we heard when he filled-in for Sean Hannity last summer. Even if Cain’s primary run hadn’t made it so familiar, his voice jumps-out-of the speaker. And he speaks in sound bites that are made for AM radio.” There’s more. Read Cooke’s piece here.
Larry Mendte Exits Merlin’s WWIQ, Philadelphia. Announcing his departure from the Philadelphia talk outlet via his Facebook page, talk personality and former market TV news anchor Larry Mendte states the reason was not due to ratings as his show was “by far the highest-rated local show.” But Mendte, who joined the station in May of last year, says in his post that he believes his exit will spur rumors the station is for sale. He says he hopes that’s not true as he believes the station “fills an important void.” Mendte was hired to work the morning show alongside programmer and co-host Al Gardner. Earlier in the fall, New York-based multi-media star Lionel was brought in to work with Gardner for a portion of the morning program. WWIQ’s website lists both Gardner and Lionel as co-hosts of the 5:00 am to 9:00 am program.
Clear Channel to Flip WOKY, Milwaukee to Sports Talk. Beginning Monday, January 7, Clear Channel-owned classic country WOKY, Milwaukee will become a sports talk outlet as “The Big 920.” The station will feature regional sports talk personalities as well as Fox Sports Radio Network syndicated programming including Dan Patrick and Jay Mohr. According to a report in The Business Journal, the station will run the same programming that airs on CC’s Madison sports talk station WTSO “The Big 1070.” The station will air a talk show featuring morning drive hosts Mike Lucas and Matt Lepay from 6:00 am to 8:00 am. It will be in competition in the market with Good Karma’s WAUK and Entercom’s WSSP.
WQRT, Cincinnati to Drop Talk; Station Will Go Dark, Launch New Format in February. The Cincinnati market sports and talk station WQRT “Real Talk 1160” will go dark after the broadcast of the BCS National Championship game on January 7 and take the rest of the month to prepare for a new format. Christian Broadcast System owner Jon Yinger tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter the station did not perform as the company had hoped despite hiring numerous local personalities over the course of the past few years to challenge competitors in the market. Local staffers including morning host Dean Miuccio, news staffer T.C. Summers, afternoon sports talk hosts Dennis “Wildman” Walker and Jeff Piecoro have been let go and the station will air syndicated programming until it signs off. The station recently lost operations manager Rob Williams and sports talk host and producer Rick Ucchino who left to join Cumulus Media’s crosstown WCFN which debuted the CBS Sports Radio Network format on Wednesday, January 2.
Al Gore’s Current TV Bought by Al Jazeera. The Al Gore- and Joel Hyatt-owned Current TV cable news/talk channel has been purchased by the Qatar-based Arab world cable news operation Al Jazeera for a reported $500 million. Bloomberg reports Gore and Hyatt paid $60 million for the media outlet in 2004. Bloomberg notes in its report that Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-biggest U.S. cable company, said it would stop carrying Current TV with the ownership change. “Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service…We are removing the service as quickly as possible.” Time Warner Cable currently carries the Al Jazeera English-language programming in New York City however it does not offer Al Jazeera in the Los Angeles market. The Associated Press reports the acquisition will give Al Jazeera access to about 40 million more homes. It also states that Al Jazeera – owned by the government of Qatar – plans to gradually transform Current TV into a network called Al Jazeera America by adding five to 10 new U.S. bureaus beyond the five it has now and hiring more journalists. More than half of the content will be U.S. news and the network will have its headquarters in New York City.
Fox Sports Radio Network’s Jay Mohr Debuts on 70-Plus Stations. The new late-morning program on the Fox Sports Radio Network hosted by long-time FSRN fill-in host, comedian and actor Jay Mohr hit the ground running with about 70 affiliates yesterday. Fox Sports reports the show aired in markets including: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Portland and Pittsburgh. Mohr’s program fills the slot held for so many years by Jim Rome who left Premiere Networks for the new CBS Sports Radio Network.
Bill Keeler to Host Mornings on WIBX, Utica. Local media personality Bill Keeler will begin hosting the morning drive program on Townsquare Media’s news/talk WIBX, Utica, New York on Monday, January 14, according to WKTV-TV, Utica. Keeler, who has been hosting a restaurant program on WKTV-TV, has also worked in the market in radio at CHR WSKS and rock WXUR. He says, “I am so excited about doing mornings on WIBX. This is a heritage radio station that’s been around for 87 years and it remains one of the top stations in the market. I can’t wait to get on the air and get started.” Keeler will be joined by news anchor Kristine Bellino.
WMVP, Chicago Personality Steve McMichael Pulled from Broadcasting After Equal Time Request. Former Chicago Bears great and WMVP, Chicago sports talk personality Steve “Mongo” McMichael was yanked from Sunday’s program prior to the final Bears game of the season after the mayor of Romeoville, Illinois filed an equal time request with the station. McMichael filed papers on December 26 to get on the ballot to run for mayor of Romeoville in April and one of his opponents, current Mayor John Noak, filed the request citing equal time regulations. McMichael tells the Chicago Tribune, “I was ready to go on and talk football. I by no means used that pre-game show as a political platform this year. But if that’s the law, it’s the law and I have to accept it.”
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Announces Record Results for Holiday Toy Drive. WTMJ, Milwaukee program director Joe Scialfa announces the Journal Broadcast Group station collected more than 19,000 toys during its 2012 “Kids to Kids Christmas” Scialfa says more than 50 schools in the region participated in the charity drive that encouraged children to shop with their parents for toys to donate to those less fortunate. Scialfa states, “The listeners of Newsradio 620 WTMJ are amazing. Again this year, they have shared the message of giving with their kids in a record setting way! We couldn’t be prouder to come to work each day to inform and entertain this great audience.”
‘Fiscal Crisis’ Bill Signed, Hurricane Sandy Aid Controversy, Financial Markets Activity, Hillary Clinton Health Status and Gun Control Debate Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/2). The aftermath of the bill signed to avert the “fiscal crisis”; the anger over Congress’ bypassing Hurricane Sandy aid; financial markets respond to “fiscal crisis” legislation; the health status of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and ongoing debate of gun laws in the United States were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Les Moonves Tells Investors Network Sports Radio Biz is “Found Money.” That CBS is bullish on sports is not news – CBS CEO Les Moonves has said that before. But he reiterated his company’s dedication to the industry and – citing the new CBS Sports Radio Network venture – called it $10 million to $15 million worth of “found money.” Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills yesterday, Moonves told the conference the sports radio network business is a $150 million industry, “With our deal with Cumulus, we have reach. We’re in nine of the top 10 markets. We have the capacity to put on a lot of stuff. We think right away we’re going to get about 10% of the market. That’s going to be a significant hit right away and that should grow. It’s a great marketplace; rather easy to do. As far as we’re concerned it’s 10 or 15 million [dollars] of found money that we think will grow.” CBS is entering into a fast-growing marketplace already dominated by ESPN and with entrenched radio players Fox Sports Radio Network, Yahoo! Sports Radio and new entrant NBC Sports Radio – a partnership between NBC and Dial Global. Sure, there’s a ton of money in sports media right now, but how fast this market gets saturated is a question industry watchers are pondering.
Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Gets Television Profile with DISH Network Deal. Talk show host and digital media pioneer Glenn Beck is soon to be seen on television after his TheBlaze, Inc. agrees to a deal with DISH Network to have his online 24-hour news, information and entertainment network available on the satellite TV provider. Under terms of the deal, TheBlaze will be available to DISH viewers on channel 212 as part of DISH’s America’s Top 250 package or a la carte for $5 a month. The channel launched Wednesday at 5:00 pm ET. It’ll be available as a free preview for all DISH customers through September 26. In a statement, Beck says, “TheBlaze has helped revolutionize television over the internet and now we are excited to bring the revolution back to traditional television. TheBlaze will be home to news, information and entertainment programming with the facts and stories people care about most and we look forward to kicking things off with DISH.” Mercury Radio Arts president Chris Balfe blogged about the success of Beck’s new venture and how this deal came to pass. “Prior to our initial launch I was often asked why we didn’t pursue a traditional cable channel. There were several factors, but the biggest was that we wouldn’t have been able to build the channel we wanted back then without giving up control. To get on the air we would have had to partner with a large media company that could provide us with the staff, infrastructure and distribution necessary to launch a new network. That was something that we simply were not willing to do. The whole point of starting our own network was to be free from outside influences — giving that independence up right away in exchange for distribution was a non-starter. And so we found another way. But now, a year later, everything has changed. Our subscribers’ enthusiasm and support has allowed us to make the necessary investments in programming and infrastructure, and we’re now in a position to launch a cable and satellite channel without losing control.”
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Promotes Julie Talbott. The president of content and affiliations for Premiere Networks is upped to a new post – president of content and affiliations for CC’s National Media Groups. Talbott retains her oversight of Premiere Networks but adds new duties as she’ll answer to Kevin Dorsey, president of the National Media Groups who, in turn, reports directly to chairman and CEO John Hogan. A statement from Clear Channel notes Talbott’s “new role will include leading and maintaining key affiliate relationships to sell and service Premiere Networks, Total Traffic Network and iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s industry-leading digital radio platform. The new position will provide the company’s affiliates with a simplified and streamlined point of contact for communicating and conducting business across Clear Channel’s diverse group of subsidiaries.” Talbott says, “I enjoy working with our clients and partners, and this alignment of our affiliate efforts will allow us to better serve and communicate with stations throughout the U.S. I’m looking forward to working with the amazing teams across the company as we continue to demonstrate the unique relationship CCM+E has with our audience.”
Cox Media’s KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa Names Levi May Program Director. The PD post at KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa opened up when long-time programmer Drew Anderssen moved to Cox Media’s Orlando news/talker WDBO-AM/FM. Levi May served as WDBO’s assistant PD prior to his new position in Tulsa.
Talk Radio Weekends: Two Sure Shots. Talk radio consultant Holland Cooke offers advice on weekend programming for talk radio stations that fits in with the P1’s weekend lifestyle and has the opportunity for bringing in revenue. Sure, it’s lifestyle-oriented stuff but while many of those categories are well-serviced by nationally syndicated programs, Cooke says these two suggestions are tailor-made for local professionals. Read Holland Cooke’s piece here.
WVON, Chicago News Pro Sharon McGhee Loses Battle with Cancer. Journalist, writer and radio news director Sharon McGhee died in Columbia, Missouri on September 11 at age 54 after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She joined urban talk WVON, Chicago in 1997 and was promoted to news director the following year. She left the radio business to focus on her love of the arts and entertainment and in 2007, wrote the critically acclaimed “The Pocketbook Monologues” and subsequently directed multiple staged performances across the United States. McGhee returned to WVON in 2008 as news director and resigned from that position in 2010 due to health reasons. WVON president Melody Spann Cooper states, “Sharon McGhee was one of the most creative people I’ve ever known. Her determination, passion and drive brought her to Chicago where she excelled in everything that was on her professional and personal agenda. She was a rare breed determined to do it her way, and she did.”
Former Merlin Media News Pros Land with Virtual News Center. News staffers Veronica Carter and Katherine Kelly were two of the news pros who worked at Merlin Media’s FM news outlet in Chicago and exited the station when it flipped formats. They join the team at Virtual News Center which describes itself as “the largest independent provider of local news for radio heard on over 175 stations in nearly 80 markets.” The company works on a cash direct basis or via barter through Envision Radio Networks. Veronica Carter spent her 25 year radio career in Illinois, Indiana, and California, heavily involved in all facets of news reporting and anchoring. On her Merlin experience she says, “Working for Merlin Media was short lived, but an adventure to say the least! Glad to be with Virtual News Center, it’s actually fun doing newscasts all over the country!” Katherine Kelly worked in Peoria, Illinois and the Quad Cities as well as in Seattle and Chicago. Kelly anchored news as a part of some of the country’s top morning shows. She also helped launch the Oprah Radio Network on Sirius XM. She states, “I am incredibly honored to be joining the team at Virtual News Center. Now I can cover just as many cities without leaving home!”
New Jersey 101.5 Reporter Honored for Series on Teen Drug Abuse. The New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse honors New Jersey 101.5 reporter Stacy Proesbtle with its Community Service Award. Proesbtle is pictured here (from l-r) with NJ 101.5 brand manager Eric Johnson, NJ 101.5 news director Eric Scott, Proesbtle, and Council executive director John Hulick at the Council’s 21st annual Summit at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, New Jersey. Proebstle’s five-part series about the abuse of heroin and other opiates among New Jersey’s youth focused on prescription drug abuse, accidental overdoses, how abuse often begins at home and the fact that prescription drug abuse can happen to anyone. Proebstle talked to recovering addicts, parents, prevention specialists, substance abuse professionals and law enforcement officers to address current trends and issues along with possible solutions. On receiving the honor, Proesbtle says, “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this honor on behalf of the station and most genuinely grateful. It validates the importance of community service and giving back to one’s community.”
Cumulus San Francisco Inks 49ers for 12-Year Extension. Appearing on sports talk KNBR, San Francisco’s Murph & Mac morning show, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey joined 49ers CEO Jed York to announce the stations and the NFL clubs have agreed to a 12-year contract extension to keep the team’s games on KNBR, news/talk KGO and rock KSAN in the market. During that appearance on the program, Dickey said, “While the trend in radio has been for shorter deals with sports teams, this 12-year partnership demonstrates the commitment of KNBR and Cumulus to the 49ers, and further cements KNBR as the ‘Sports Leader in Northern California’ for almost 25 years.”
WEEI, Boston Helps Celebrate Red Sox Broadcaster Joe Castiglione’s 30th Anniversary. Prior to last night’s Boston Red Sox game, Entercom sports talker WEEI celebrated the 30th anniversary of play-by-play announcer Joe Castiglione with an appearance at the WEEI studios by Castiglione on the afternoon drive “Big Show” with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley. The evening also featured a half-hour pre-game tribute show that included a video at Fenway Park and on-field recognition from the team.
Conservative Chuck Morse and Liberal Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan Split. Veteran Boston-based conservative talk host Chuck Morse and California-based liberal Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan have ended their left-right internet talk radio program, “Fairness Radio with Chuck Morse & Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan,” after it became impossible to work together, according to Morse. The two will host separate programs on the internet and affiliated radio stations.
Long-Running Speaker Series Continues with Author of ‘Fast and Furious’ Book. WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier (at left) conducted his 80th “Town Hall” interview and live broadcast in The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University “President Speaker Series,” with Townhall.com investigative reporter Katie Pavlich (at right) before a live audience on Wednesday, September 12. Pavlich is author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up (Regnery 2012). Photo: Arthur J. Byrnes.
U.S. Ambassador Killed in Libya Strike, Cairo Unrest, Obama-Netanyahu Relations, and Chicago Teachers Strike Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/12). The death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens after a violent assault on the U.S. consulate; violent anti-American protests in Cairo; reports of President Obama’s snubbing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama Administration’s Iran policy; and the continuing Chicago teachers strike were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Q2 Revenue Dips; Major Market News/Talkers Singled Out. Cumulus Media’s revenue shot up more than 350% due to the inclusion of the former Citadel stations and the former Cumulus Media Partners properties it folded into its portfolio, but on a pro forma basis, revenue for the company was down 1.7%. During yesterday’s conference call, CEO Lew Dickey indicated 10 stations in the top 10 markets – many of them news/talk outlets were responsible for the company’s loss with three stations in particular accounting for $5.5 million of a $10 million revenue loss. He said if those stations had been kept out of the equation the company would have seen revenue go up 2%. Dickey promised the company is working on fixing those stations but cautioned it would take time – as much as four more quarters. If the ultimate goal is to get other companies’ syndication properties off those major market news/talkers – and those fees can be very high – and replace them with Cumulus Media Networks shows to, a) cut the cost of the programming to those stations and, b) reap a much greater percentage of revenue from those shows, expect to see some lineup changes at those major market news/talkers over the next 12 months.
Lew Dickey Stands Behind Mike Huckabee. Questions about the performance of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in syndication via Cumulus Media Networks were expected by analysts on yesterday’s conference call and when they were asked, Dickey strongly defended Huckabee – whose national program debuted in March – saying his team is doing an excellent job clearing the show and compares the venture to a “marathon.” Dickey also said the company intends to sign more talent in the near future. He told analysts that a lot of companies are locked in to current contracts with other syndicated programming so rolling out Huckabee (and Geraldo Rivera) will take time but, so far, he’s pleased with the results.
Herman Cain Takes to the Road on Fall “Truth Tour.” Former presidential candidate Herman Cain – and heir to the nationally syndicated Neal Boortz show when Neal hangs up his headphones in January – will take to the road beginning September 5 in Iowa City for what he’s calling “The Truth Tour.” It’s sponsored by Job Creators Solutions – an organization founded by Cain and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. The tour is billed as “an aggressive 30-day, 30-city schedule of events that aims to provide Americans with facts, information and resources to help them in their decision making process before hitting the polls in November.” Cain says, “Bernie Marcus and I both know first-hand how important it is to have the facts when making business decisions. We also know it’s just as important for Americans to have the facts when making decisions that will impact our communities, businesses and our nation. This is why I’m proud to join forces with Bernie for ‘The Truth Tour.’” Herman Cain will begin his nationally syndicated radio show on January 21, 2013 – Inauguration Day – and will be a regular guest on the Neal Boortz show on Mondays and Fridays at 10:35 am ET and is his primary fill-in host.
WSCR and WBBM, Chicago Host “Business of Sports: Life After the Game.” CBS Radio sports talk WSCR and all-news WBBM are hosting the Comcast Business Class Newsmakers “Business of Sports: Life after the Game” panel sponsored by MB Financial on Thursday, September 20, at the House of Blues in downtown Chicago. CBS Radio says the event will consist of the biggest names in Chicago sports, discussing their success in the business world after playing. Panelists will include: multi-sport star Bo Jackson, Chicago football great Gary Fencik, and “Miracle on Ice” star and former professional hockey player, Jack O’Callahan with more to be added. The event will be hosted by 670 The Score’s morning drive team Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley (pictured here). WSCR program director Mitch Rosen says, “We are looking forward to hosting what will be an all-star event. I think the Chicagoland consumer, specifically people interested in sports business, will enjoy the all-star panel we have put together. With Bo Jackson headlining this event, it will be a great opportunity to hear his business ideas and philosophies. Bo is one of the greatest stories in the sports industry and has numerous accomplishments as a two-sport professional athlete. For sports fans and business people alike, this will be a can’t-miss event.”
Media Matters Gets into the Talk Radio Game. The anti-conservative media organization Media Matters for America is hitching its wagon to a new talk show on the SiriusXM Left channel called “The Agenda Powered by Media Matters.” The daily show is being hosted by Media Matters senior advisor and Fox News critic Ari Rabin-Havt and debuts Monday, August 13 from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. SiriusXM promotes the show saying, “Ari Rabin-Havt will lead the daily conversation of young influential progressive political insiders reviewing the day’s events and setting the tone for the next days’ news cycle. ‘The Agenda Powered by Media Matters’ will be a first-of-its-kind on-air meeting place where the new influencers of the progressive movement discuss the news of tomorrow in an informal setting that looks to inform, entertain, and engage.”
WBRP, Baton Rouge Names Clarence Buggs Midday Host. Guaranty Broadcasting’s WBRP, Baton Rouge adds talk show host Clarence Buggs to the lineup as host of the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm program. Buggs had worked in the market at Clear Channel’s crosstown WJBO. Guaranty market manager Gordy Rush states, “We are thrilled about the addition of Clarence to our team. We remain committed to being the news/talk leader in the Baton Rouge community with more live and local shows on Talk 107.3 FM than any other station in the greater Baton Rouge market.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. WAYY, Eau Claire, Wisconsin adds the third hour of WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish show…..WYM Media’s “Ring of Fire” with Mike Papantonio and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is added to the program schedule at WWRL, New York and WKKX, Wheeling…..“Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the program schedule at WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island and KBJT, Fordyce, Arkansas…..WVKO, Columbus, Ohio adds the “Best of Bill Press” to its weekend schedule…..The “Motley Fool Money” show with Chris Hill adds WKBK-AM/FM, Keene, New Hampshire…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” is picked up by: WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois; WFHR, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; WKUL, Cullman, Alabama; and WDIS, Norfolk, Massachusetts.
Presidential Campaign Ads Controversy Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 6-10. The most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week broke out from last week’s general discussion about the presidential campaign and the specific story of the controversial ads being run by organizations backing President Obama was the top story this week on the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the tepid economic data. Following at #3 was neo-Nazi hate groups and the aftermath of the Sikh temple killings. Coming in at #4 was the London Olympics. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
TALKERS TV: WTOP Reporter Does All Field Reports on iPhone or iPad. Things have changed, at least technologically, since WTOP, Washington reporter Neal Augenstein joined the heritage all-news outlet in 1999. The newsroom was still equipped with reel-to-reel tape recorders and the portable bag phones that weighed as much as 15 pounds. Since 2010, Neal has earned the distinction of being the first major market radio reporter who does all of his field production on an iPhone or iPad. This week TALKERS TV presents the final installment of an exclusive three-part feature on the inner workings of all-news giant WTOP with an interview with Neal Augenstein in which he explains the theory behind and the method of using Apple’s smart phone as an extremely innovative and convenient tool for gathering, producing and presenting news in a multimedia venue. See TALKERS TV at the top of the column on the upper right side of this page.
New Media Seminar New York Nears Sellout – Features Power-Packed Agenda. Thursday, June 7 promises to be an important and exciting day for talk radio and related talk media as the East Coast installment of the industry’s largest and longest-running convention nears a sellout. More than 60 industry leaders are scheduled to speak including (in alphabetical order): Nancy Abramson, executive director, Wall Street Journal Radio Network; Chuck Armstrong, APD, WABC, New York; Mike “Bax” Baxendale, co-host, “Bax and O’Brien” morning show, Rock 102, Springfield, MA; Rennie Bishop, PD WWRL, New York; Jim Bohannon, host, Dial Global Radio Networks; Phil Boyce, VP/director, spoken word format, Salem Communications; Dr. Joy Browne, host, WOR Radio; Laurie Cantillo, PD, WTOP, Washington, DC; Kevin Casey, VP/managing editor, TALKERS; Michael Castner, host, Wall Street Journal Radio Network; Heather Cohen, EVP, The Weiss Agency; Alan Colmes, Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel; Holland Cooke, consultant, McVay/Cook Media; Andy Dean, host Premiere Networks; Dave Elswick, PD, KARN, Little Rock; Boomer Esiason, host, WFAN, New York; Barry Farber, host, Talk Radio Network/CRN Digital Talk Radio; Jim Farley, VP news and programming, WTOP, Washington, DC; Terry Foxx, PD, KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh; Ian Freeman, co-host, Free Talk Live; Mike Gallagher, host, Salem Radio Network; Dom Giordano, host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Heidi Harris, host, KRLA, Los Angeles/KTIE, San Bernadino; Matthew B. Harrison, senior partner, Harrison Strategies; Michael Harrison, publisher, TALKERS; Ron Hartenbaum, president, WYD Media; Thom Hartmann, host, WYD Media; Bill Hess, PD, WMAL, Washington, DC; Gabe Hobbs, president, Gabe Hobbs Media; Jim Horn, PD, WSBA, York; Gov. Mike Huckabee, host, Cumulus Media/Fox News Channel; Rusty Humphries, host Talk Radio Network/WGST, Atlanta; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Tom Langmyer, VP/GM, WGN, Chicago; Tom Leykis, president, The New Normal; Lionel, president, LionelMedia.com; Mark Masters, CEO, Talk Radio Network; Mike McVay, SVP programming, Cumulus Media; Harvey Nagler, VP Radio, CBS News; Chris Oliviero, SVP programming, CBS Radio; Cary Pahigian, market manager, Saga Communications/Portland; John Parikhal, president, Joint Communications; Ellen Ratner, bureau chief, Talk Radio News Service; Mark Riley, host, WWRL, New York; Walter Sabo, president, Sabo Media; Todd Schnitt, host, Compass Media Networks; Ed Schultz, host, MSNBC/The Ed Schultz Show; Doug Stephan, president, Stephan Multimedia; Chris Stigall, host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Alan Stock, host, KDWN, Las Vegas; Peter Thiele, PD, WMCA/WNYM, New York; Joe Thomas, PD, WCHV, Charlottesville; Paul Vandenburg, president/GM, WGDJ, Albany; Steven J.J. Weisman, senior partner, Harrison Strategies; and Larry Young, host, WOLB, Baltimore; with more to be announced. A full agenda will be posted here tomorrow. Also, today is the final day that discount rooms for seminar attendees at the nearby Doubletree will be available. For registration and hotel information call 413-565-5413.
Sabo Sez: If Every Station Was a Talk Station… “Imagine if every radio station, except one, in every city was programmed fulltime as a talk station. How would those talk stations differentiate themselves to the listener? They couldn’t all take the same approach, they would have to appeal to different demos and psychographics,” says Sabo Media president Walter Sabo. In his latest column for TALKERS, Sabo says that’s why spoken-word radio must be differentiated and targeted just as music-based radio is and therein lays the key to making a profit from an FM talk station. Read Walter Sabo’s piece here.
Geraldo Rivera to Broadcast from WABC, New York-Sponsored Job Fair. Cumulus Media news/talk WABC, New York and sister Hot AC WPLJ-FM are sponsoring the “Putting America Back to Work” job fair being held tomorrow (5/15) at the Jacob Javits Center and WABC and KABC, Los Angeles talk host Geraldo Rivera will broadcast his 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program live from the event. Part of the broadcast will feature a panel of experts and CEOs discussing practical advice and tips for job seekers. Cumulus New York states there will also be some 100 job recruiters from a wide range of industries with positions available on the scene.
KFWB, Los Angeles Re-Ups with NBA’s Clippers. The NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and news/talk KFWB, Los Angeles sign a multi-year extension to keep the franchise’s games on the station. Details of the terms are not being disclosed per team and station policy. Station general manager Valerie K. Blackburn states, “We are so happy to forge forward with our relationship with the Clippers who have captured the hearts of Southern Californians and fans across the country. The Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as a fan favorite in this town and are an extremely important part of our ongoing commitment to provide quality programming to our listeners.” KFWB is operated by the KFWB Asset Trust and the KFWB License Trust, divestiture trusts under the management of Diane Sutter, president and CEO of ShootingStar Broadcasting.
Cumulus Media Signs With Triton Digital for Its Online Platform. The country’s second largest radio station operator (measured by station count) will move the online platform of its more than 530 radio stations to the Triton Digital platform, according to a story in Radio Ink. Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey states the company’s stations will be able to take advantage of the services provided by Triton Digital as well as providing a standard platform which will enable the transition to putting all of the company’s stations on iHeartRadio as announced several months ago. It is expected the Cumulus stations will be available on Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s iHeartRadio within the next 45 to 60 days.
Greater Media Charlotte Names Billy Black Imaging Director. News/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte and talk intensive sister Hot AC WLNK-FM have hired imaging pro Billy Black to serve as the imaging director for the stations. For the past 10 years Black has worked at Clear Channel’s rock WRXR-FM, Chattanooga where he served as morning show host, program director and imaging director. Greater Media Charlotte marketing administrator Jessica Reeves RoBards says, “He has imaged a ton of Clear Channel stations and made work parts and shells from scratch for companies like Frost Bytes. This is unique because most imaging guys use pre-made beds and work parts, he makes his own. He also had a stint at Media Base. He will image both stations. His ideas and creativity are something these stations have been craving.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Cumulus Media nabs market manager Kevin Waltman from Clear Channel’s Tallahassee operations that include news/talk WFLA-FM. Waltman heads up Cumulus’ Montgomery, Alabama cluster that includes news/talk WLWI and sports talk WMSP…..Forever Broadcasting is picking up a stronger signal for its “TJ Network” news/talk format based at WTJS, Jackson Tennessee. It will swap with Grace Broadcasting Services giving Grace its WTJW-FM, Humboldt, Tennessee at 105.3 plus $525,000 and get WTGP-FM, Trenton, Tennessee at 97.7…..SiriusXM names National Soccer Hall of Famer John Harkes host of its daily soccer talk show “The Football Show” that airs from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. Harkes will be joined on the show by co-hosts Charlie Stillitano and Neil Barnett.
Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey Reports Limbaugh Boycott Cost Company Millions. During Monday’s first quarter conference call with analysts, Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey announced that the advertiser boycott of Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh show – which is carried on 38 Cumulus-owned stations – cost his company “a couple of million” in the first quarter of 2012 and another “couple of million” in the second quarter. Dickey says everything seems pretty much back to normal for June but he blames about 1% of the company’s 3.5% drop in revenue on the Limbaugh boycott. Dickey also addressed the debut of the Mike Huckabee show which airs live in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot and is seen by some observers as a direct competitor to Limbaugh. He says they are very close to having Huckabee on 200 affiliates and he’s viewing the show as a long-term project.
Cumulus Media’s 2012 Q1 Revenue Down 3.5%. The first quarter of 2012 saw Cumulus Media report net revenues down 3.5% on earnings of $245.3 million – down from $254.2 million for the same period a year ago. Free cash flow was up almost 95% to $37 million, up from $19 million for the first quarter of 2011 and EBITDA was up 12.2% to $76.8 million. CEO Lew Dickey states, “The first quarter of 2012 was marked by significant progress in our integration of Citadel as we build Cumulus into a robust platform company that strategically monetizes content, distribution and technology. Complementing this progress was the continued deleveraging of our balance sheet, as well as strategic portfolio management that will enable us tremendous financial flexibility going forward.”
FCC Up to Full Complement. Six months after they were nominated, Republican Ajit Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to seats on the Federal Communications Commission. Senator Charles Grassley had been keeping the confirmation from taking place due to his concern over the commission’s handling of the LightSquared case. Grassley has been investigating the FCC’s dealings with the troubled satellite venture suspecting that LightSquared has been given special treatment by the commission.
Pat Miller Cuts Back Duties at WOWO, Fort Wayne; Gregg Henson to PM Drive. Afternoon drive talk show host Pat Miller is leaving his role at the legendary Federated Media station to focus on his own local business. Director of programming operations Gregg Henson takes over the PM drive host duties effective immediately. Miller will remain with the station in several capacities. He’ll host a weekly Saturday afternoon program and he’ll make regular appearances as the station’s expert political analyst. Henson says of Miller, “Pat is a great asset to WOWO and we look forward to redeploying him in other areas to take advantage of his strengths. He is a tremendous resource. Pat’s loyalty and love for Fort Wayne are indisputable and we look forward to his continued relationship with WOWO.” Henson assumed the programming duties at WOWO and sister station WKJG a year ago. He says he’s excited about taking over the PM drive show. “WOWO has a special relationship with this community and I look forward to being a part of it.”
Talk Radio Hosts Converge on Washington, DC for “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” Radio Row. More than 60 talk radio hosts are in Washington, DC today and tomorrow for a radio row sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The event is being led by Radio America syndicated talk show host Roger Hedgecock who organized the first radio row dedicated to this issue in 2007 to protest the Senate Amnesty Bill. Talk show hosts taking part have the opportunity to interview numerous legislators and experts on illegal immigration and related topics over the course of the two days. FAIR communications director Bob Dane tells TALKERS, “Once again, talk hosts from across the country are gathering to focus on immigration reform and this election year is the most critical of all. The Obama administration continues to dismantle interior enforcement at a frightening pace and is using unconstitutional backdoor methods to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. With November looming, May is the ideal time to set clear expectations for candidates of all stripes. Responsive politicians respect and listen to the electronic town hall of talk radio and ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ is a yearly bellwether of public sentiment on the immigration issue.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Peter Sessa has been the vice president of marketing and communications at Westwood One for the past five years. He stayed with the operation after it was merged with Dial Global but now exits and is seeking his next opportunity…..Tribune’s WGN, Chicago eliminates a news position as midday anchor Jim Gudas is let go for financial reasons…..Phil Cioppa joins the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Business TalkRadio Network where his show which “tackles global and national events and translates them into how they affect the average American’s pocketbook” now airs on some 140 affiliates…..SiriusXM announces it is launching an expanded suite of 30 play-by-play channels dedicated to streaming the official radio broadcasts of every MLB team on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at SiriusXM.com…..WTOP-FM, Washington offers prizes to listeners in the area with the worst commute. Dubbed “Commuter Idle,” listeners must submit stories of their commute online and the winner receives $1,000 in gas money and a limo ride. Runners-up get $150 gas cards…..Merlin Media’s WEMP-FM, New York lets managing editor Doug O’Brien go. The Former WINS, New York staffer has been with FM News 101.9 since its inception last summer…..Yahoo! Sports Radio pairs up Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel with college sports writer Pat Forde for a weekly Thursday evening sports talk show on the network…..Bonneville’s KSL, Salt Lake City (the AM side) celebrates its 90th anniversary serving the market…..Sports USA announces its 18-game college football schedule for this fall that kicks off with Michigan State hosting Boise State and wrapping up with the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Putin Returns, Anti-Austerity Backlash in Europe, 2012 Presidential Race, New American Obesity Stats, Student Loan Rate Debate, and Terror Plot Foiled Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The return of Vladimir Putin to power in Russia; voters in Europe show anti-austerity backlash; the 2012 presidential race; the latest statistics on obesity in America; Congress to take on student loan rate debate; and a plot to destroy a U.S. airliner is foiled were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Generations. Television stars Robert Conrad (l) and Jorge Garcia (r) pose for a photo at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles at the grand opening of an exhibit titled, “50 Years of Warner Brothers.” Conrad, who hosts a weekly talk radio program on CRN Digital Talk Radio, was the star of “The Wild, Wild West.” Garcia starred in “Lost” and currently is featured in “Alcatraz.”
Cox Media Group Goes Hot Talk in Tampa on “The Bone.” The rock music stops on Cox Media Group’s WHPT-FM, Tampa – The Bone – on Monday, April 23 as the company builds a hot talk station around morning drive star Bubba the Love Sponge and PM drive personality Cowhead. Cox will add the DirecTV-produced Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange show for late nights and is considering programs for middays and early evenings. Cox Tampa VP/market manager Keith Lawless says, “‘The Bone’ dominates the morning and afternoon drive talk shows and has room to grow in the midday and evening classic rock shows. Evolving this station into an all-talk station is an obvious move. Bubba plays no music and is clearly the market’s leader in mornings. Filling in the other dayparts with compelling talk and removing all music from the already successful Cowhead show will make ‘The Bone’ dominant with men and adults all day long.”
KNBR, San Francisco Parts Company with Ralph Barbieri After 28 Years. Ralph Barbieri – the Razor – has been a part of sports talk on KNBR, San Francisco since 1984 but he’s been let go by Cumulus Media as the result of a “management decision,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. Barbieri’s co-host Tom Tolbert – Mr. T – continues as solo host of the PM drive show. Barbieri wrote for Sport magazine before joining KNBR in 1984 and became one of the pillars upon which KNBR was built. Last fall, Barbieri revealed to the San Francisco Chronicle that he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2005 and that he disclosed the diagnosis to Cumulus as the two sides began negotiating a contract renewal. Barbieri said he believed it was only fair to Cumulus. He also reported that CEO Lew Dickey told him the company wanted him back. Barbieri wrote to the Mercury News stating: “…All I can say is that I’m weighing my options, which are considerable. I’ll have more to say later on. For now, I just want to say that I’ve seen a couple of articles that have characterized this as an amicable parting. Well, that’s not exactly the case. I came to work (Tuesday) morning with no idea that anything of this nature was afoot, especially since my contract does not expire until November 1. I was immediately told that the general manager wanted to see me. I went to his office and the program director was there as well. I was told that I was being terminated and that April 10, was to be my last day at KNBR.”
All-News WBBM Top Biller in Chicago in 2011. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports data from BIA/Kelsey that indicates all-news has been good for CBS Radio in the Windy City. The most recent quarterly “Investing in Radio Market Report” from BIA/Kelsey ranks the top five radio billers in Chicago and ranks WBBM – with its recent FM simulcast addition – at the top with $48 million in billing in 2011 (an increase from $42.5 million in 2010). Hubbard Broadcasting’s AC WTMX-FM is in second place followed by Tribune’s news/talk WGN in third ($35.5 million). Univision’s Regional Mexican WOJO-FM comes in fourth and CBS Radio’s country WUSN-FM is in fifth place.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Jumps on Board iHeartRadio. Stating that the new platform provides listeners with greater access to WGN, station VP/general manager Tom Langmyer announces Tribune Company’s news/talk WGN will be heard on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio digital platform. “This additional platform provides even greater access to WGN, and exposes new listeners to one of America’s premier personality-based talk, news and sports stations.” Clear Channel Digital president Brian LeKamp says, “Adding a station like WGN to iHeartRadio further delivers on our mission to be wherever our listeners are with the products and services they expect, expanding our ability to offer our users an even more diverse and exciting listening experience. As one of the top stations in Chicago, WGN features news, information, entertainment and sports and is an excellent addition to our platform.”
Jorge Sedano Leaves Post as AM Drive Host at WAXY, Miami. South Florida sports talk host Jorge Sedano tweets to his fans that he’s left Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WAXY, Miami’s morning drive show: “After four great yrs at 790 THE TICKET I’ve decided 2 move on effective immediately. W/ all the new projects I’m working on its just too hard 2 do it all. I want to thank all wonderful people I worked with in my time there. Also, thank you the audience for some great radio. Without you guys, I wouldn’t be in this great position to make this move. I’m looking forward to the next chapter & hoping u all come along. Thanks again for all your support. You have no idea what it means to me. All the best. Love JORGE.” Chatter in the sports talk world is that Sedano, who has previously worked at Fox Sports Radio Network, is developing a show to air on the new CBS Sports Network – possibly as a lead in to Jim Rome’s new show on the cable channel. For now, Brandon Guzio is hosting the morning show at WAXY.
Salem Communications Partners with TuneIn. Camarillo, California-based Salem Communications is the latest broadcaster to partner with internet audio company TuneIn to broadcast its stations via the web. Salem makes its almost 100 radio properties available to listeners everywhere via the service. Salem Radio president David Santrella says in a statement, “Through our partnership with TuneIn, we have expanded the number of access points to our content. We have made it easier for our current listeners to access our programming from wherever they are and have opened up our broadcasts to new audiences. Overnight we’ve expanded our footprint in digital and have gained a suite of first-of-their-kind analysis tools from TuneIn that help us further tailor programming to our listeners everywhere.”
Arbitron CFO Richard Surratt to Leave the Company. A press release from Arbitron headquarters in Columbia, Maryland says Richard Surratt is leaving his role at the ratings giant for personal reasons and that EVP/COO Sean Creamer will take over the CFO role when Surratt’s exit takes place in May. Meanwhile, the company has hired Crist Kolder Associates to search for a new CFO.
2012 Presidential Race, Charges Filed Against George Zimmerman, Obama Care Status, Tepid U.S. Jobs Creation and European Economic Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/11). Mitt Romney’s apparent capturing of the GOP nomination and the 2012 presidential campaign, second degree murder charges filed against George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, the legal status of President Obama’s Patient Accessibility and Affordable Care Act, meager job growth in the U.S. and economic tensions in the Euro zone were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Bonneville Seattle Gets Behind Fisher House Campaign. Bonneville Seattle – which includes news/talk KIRO-FM, talk KTTH, and sports talk KIRO – is supporting a campaign to upgrade the Fisher House at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. The current house – which provides lodging for the families of American service personnel recovering from treatment after being wounded in the line of duty – has been in use since 1992 and there is a need for a larger facility. Bonneville VP/market manager Carl Gardner states, “Healing our wounded warriors and caring for their families is a mission all of us in the Pacific Northwest want to join. At Bonneville, we’re excited to pull together our community of friends and bring this new Fisher House to life, to give something back to the soldiers and their families who have given us so much over these past ten years.” Pictured here are Bonneville Seattle staffers and military personnel from the base.
Jim Graci Named Program Director at KDKA, Pittsburgh. CBS Radio announces the new program director for its news/talk KDKA, Pittsburgh several months after it chose not to renew its contract with former PD Marshall Adams. Jim Graci – who previously programmed crosstown WEAE – comes north from Cumulus’ KLIF where he’s been serving as PD. Also at KDKA, longtime KDKA news staffer P.J. Kumanchik is promoted to news director at the station.
WAXY, Miami Announces Tod Castleberry Takes PD Role at Station. Program director and Dan LeBatard show executive producer and cast member Marc Hochman is probably almost as happy about this hire as Tod Castleberry is. Hochman’s been handling both roles and agreed with Lincoln Financial Media to continue in both until a successor for his PD position could be found. Hochman wants to put his total concentration on the Dan LeBatard show and now he can do that. Tod Castleberry has worked at Red Zebra’s sports WTEM, Washington and most recently has been working as partner and executive producer of the John Riggins internet show.
ABC News Radio to Produce Special Program Sparked by Trayvon Martin Death. The special one-hour broadcast will take place tomorrow night (3/28) at 7:00 pm ET and will be hosted by “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts. Titled, “Race and Justice: A National Conversation,” the show will focus on the national dialogue that’s been spurred by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. ABC News Radio says the show will feature “Robin Roberts leading a town hall discussion with prominent newsmakers and an audience of high school students and parents. The program will further the national discussion involving all racial and ethnic groups stirred by the circumstances of Trayvon Martin’s death.” The show is available to ABC News Radio affiliates.
TRN’s Michael Savage to Publish New Non-Fiction Book. Nationally syndicated talk sensation Michael Savage’s new book hits the bookstore shelves on April 3 – with major booksellers currently taking pre-orders. In Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America (Harper Collins 2012), Savage examines the state of the nation and especially how he believes the Obama Administration is on the wrong path. He writes, “Obama is actively creating a populace ever more slavishly dependent on the federal government.” Other topics include punishing success, “The president has openly declared war on those who have worked hard all their lives to achieve the American dream.” Savage discusses how we treat our enemies and allies, “He treats radical Islamists in the Middle East as friends, then stiffs Israel and our Western European allies.” He says that the military is used like pawns, “While Obama uses proud Navy SEALs for a publicity stunt, and the overall strength of the military has been decimated.” Other topics including the Southern border chaos and corporate cronyism are covered in a way that only Michael Savage could reveal. Savage is the author of 26 books including four New York Times bestsellers.
Arbitron and California Agree to Settlement in PPM Suit. The State of California and the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco are settling their suit against Arbitron for its practices regarding the Portable People Meter that the entities alleged underrepresented minorities and minority-targeted radio stations. Arbitron states, “As part of the settlement, Arbitron has agreed to continue a number of measures already an integral part of the company’s current PPM methodology and of its continuous improvement program for the Portable People Meter ratings services in all markets. These measures include the already completed transition to address-based sample frames, cell-phone-only sampling rates, reporting country of origin for Hispanic households and certain other sample performance and demographic information to subscribers by individual zip code, continuing efforts to maintain or achieve specific in-tab rates and Sample Performance Indicators, and continuing the company’s commitment to using all reasonable measures to achieve Media Rating Council accreditation for the data produced by the PPM ratings service in all California markets. These commitments are generally consistent with the company’s agreements with other states and are in force through December 31, 2014, or until MRC accreditation is granted, whichever comes first. The Company also agreed to pay a total of $400,000 in settlement of all claims and costs.” Arbitron states the settlement is not an admission of fault.
Dennis Miller Celebrates His 5th Anniversary Week with Special Guests. Dial Global talk show host Dennis Miller is celebrating his 5th anniversary hosting his nationally syndicated talk show this week and he’s scheduled some high-profile guests for the event. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney joins the show today (3/27). Other guests this week include: AMC’s “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, National Review editor Rich Lowry and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Thursday’s special anniversary show, good friend and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will join Miller. Also coming on the show that day will be actor/comedian David Spade, who’s currently on CBS’s “Rules of Engagement” and Adam Carolla, who’s on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Dial Global EVP of news and talk programming Bart Tessler states, “Dennis consistently brings together such an eclectic and interesting group of guests. Only he could seamlessly switch from a compelling political conversation with a presidential candidate to tapping into the zeitgeist with a late night comic.”
Cumulus Media Networks to Syndicate Medical Feature with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The vignettes to begin distribution in May through Cumulus Media Networks are broken into two target demos: one style for news/talk stations and another for a younger audience on music and entertainment stations. Two features per day for each variety will be available. Cumulus chairman, president and CEO Lew Dickey says, “Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a unique and profoundly talented individual. His insights and experience will bring compelling content to our affiliates and create powerful new vehicles for our advertisers. We look for Dr. Gupta to be an important component in our overall content strategy.” Dr. Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and serves as chief medical correspondent for CNN.
WOR, New York’s Former Governor David Paterson to Host Political Roundtable Event. Afternoon drive host former Governor David Paterson will moderate a special roundtable discussion from the famous Russian Tea Room broadcast live on WOR, New York on April 5. Taking part in this “State of the Tri-State” three-hour expanded edition (to be broadcast from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on WOR) of the Governor’s show are: former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, New York City Councilman Robert Jackson, New Jersey Association of School Administrators executive director Dr. Richard Bozza, Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), national security expert K.T. McFarland, and Abdur-Rashid, religious and spiritual leader of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem. WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “There is no one more uniquely qualified than Governor Paterson to bring together these top names on one radio broadcast to discuss the issues that are most important to our listeners and our community. Headlines are sure to be made during this very special program.” The broadcast is open to members of the press but not to the public.
Salem Communications Buys Detroit-Area Translator for News/Talk WDTK. Salem Communications is paying $250,000 for the FM translator currently at 97.5 and licensed to Harrison, Michigan. The seller is Tim Martz’s Radio Power and there’s currently a construction permit to move the translator to Detroit proper and to the 92.7 frequency. Salem intends to use the FM signal to assist its news/talk WDTK, Detroit.
ObamaCare Goes Before Supreme Court, Pressure Heightens for Charges in Trayvon Martin Case, GOP Primary Race and Obama-Medvedev Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/26). The first day of arguments at the Supreme Court over aspects of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act; the growing pressure on authorities to arrest George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin; the GOP primary race; and the flap over President Obama’s remarks to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Reports Net Revenue Down 5.6% in Fourth Quarter of 2011; Company High on Geraldo and Huckabee. Cumulus Media Group CEO Lew Dickey and chief financial officer J.P. Hannan appeared together on yesterday’s conference call to tell analysts the company’s plans for consolidating the former Cumulus Media Partners (former Susquehanna stations) it brought into the fold in August and the former Citadel stations it closed on in September are coming together allowing them to realize the “synergies” — $10.5 million worth — within the time frame originally predicted. As far as revenue is concerned, the company saw revenue down only 1% if you exclude political advertising from Q4 one year prior. Dickey told analysts there was growth in the automotive, financial services and retail sectors in Q4 and he – like many – expects this to be a big year for political dollars. Dickey addressed the coming launch of the Mike Huckabee program and stopped short of saying Cumulus could capitalize on Rush Limbaugh’s current PR challenge but told analysts his company sees a real upside for the April launch of Huckabee’s program for which it says it has about 110 affiliates lined up already. Dickey also said that Geraldo Rivera – currently heard on WABC, New York and KABC, Los Angeles only – is ripe for national syndication and calls the New York and Los Angeles placement a “precursor” to a national rollout.
Rush Limbaugh Takes Monday Off; Premiere Networks Suspends Airing of Barter Spots for Two Weeks. Things are quieting down with regard to the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy but El Rushbo took yesterday (3/12) off to play golf with regular fill-in Mark Steyn sitting in the host’s chair. Public relations and crisis management expert Brian Glicklich is working with Limbaugh’s team and it sounds as though the day off was probably his idea. At the same time, Premiere Networks issued a memo to traffic departments at news/talk affiliates and is suspending the requirement that stations run barter spots – the ones that air in addition to the network spots actually contained within Limbaugh’s and other Premiere shows – for this week and next. Premiere gives no reason for this but one could surmise it doesn’t want to have any clients’ spots air within “controversial programming” and a cool down period like this will allow it to get a handle on where these spots are to air and where they should not.
Curtis Media Blows Up “FM Talk 101.1” WZTK-FM; Programming Changes Affect WPTF, Raleigh and WSJS, Winston-Salem. Curtis Media shocks the news/talk world with the sudden announcement that eight-year-old FM talker WZTK-FM, Burlington – serving both the Triad and Triangle markets of North Carolina is signing off its talk format and will re-emerge within a few weeks. But some of the talent heard on WZTK-FM is being spread out among Curtis Media’s other news talkers in the Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem/High Point/Greensboro markets. Here’s what’s happening: First, in the Triangle market of Raleigh-Durham, Curtis drops country on WKIX at 850 AM and will operate two outlets – NewsRadio 680 WPTF and TalkRadio 850 WPTF. WPTF VP/GM David Stuckey states, “NewsRadio 680 WPTF is where people will hear about the big events of the day, while TalkRadio 850 WPTF is where they’ll talk about those stories.” Stuckey says that while WPTF has proudly conservative roots dating back to 1924, the two stations will strive for balanced news coverage and an open exchange of all opinions across the ideological spectrum. “Unlike some media outlets, we’re not going to force-feed the same political agenda ad nauseum. We’ve seen ratings slippage on stations and channels with a hard-leaning approach, and more advertisers are telling us they want media platforms that are less toxic and more civil.” As far as talent is concerned, Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire survive the cut at WZTK-FM and will host PM drive on WPTF and WSJS. Dial Global’s Neal Boortz and Clark Howard are also landing on WPTF and WSJS. Shows that “didn’t make the cut” include local host Allan Handelman, TRN’s Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie and Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes.
Larry King to Host Show on Internet TV Network. American television and radio icon Larry King is returning to the interview desk with a start-up online TV network called Ora.TV being financed by Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim. A debut date for the site has not been announced yet but the Ora.TV website says it’s coming this year. The site states, “From its inception, Ora is an internet-based on-demand network producing a wide range of programs that transcend traditional formats. Our programs will resemble broadcast TV in terms of quality, but viewers will watch when and where they like with interactive capability.” Former News Corp. president of digital journalism Jon Housman will lead the network.
Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Holds “Insight 2012” with Major Political Guests. The annual “Insight 2012” program hosted by WTMJ, Milwaukee talk host Charlie Sykes has become a must-listen for Wisconsin political aficionados the morning after it takes place. The actual event is a ticket-holder-only live event the night prior – in this year’s case, last night. Sykes hosted fellow WTMJ host Jeff Wagner and other journalists plus Wisconsin State Senate candidates Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Thompson, Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde. Also appearing were U.S. Representatives Paul Ryan, Reid Ribble and Sean Duffy along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Last evening’s event is being re-broadcast this morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon on WTMJ.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Signs on with TuneIn. The “Voice of Chicago” can now be heard around the world via the free, internet service TuneIn, which boasts 30 million monthly active listeners. TuneIn vice president of programming Kevin Straley says, “WGN is known all over the country and has a rich history in Chicago. Our goal is to share all of the best programming from around the world with over 30 million monthly listeners, and partnering with WGN brings us one step closer to that goal.”
KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh Announces Pirates Broadcast Talent. CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh announces former Chicago Cubs third baseman Kevin Orie will be paired with radio host Dan Zangrilli to handle the game-day shows before and after each Pirates baseball game throughout the season. The two will host a one-hour preview program and a one-hour post-game show. Pirates broadcasters (Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Steve Blass, Bob Walk, and John Wehner) will continue to be featured during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as calling all the action during the games.
Report: 3MTR Abandons Talk Format in Melbourne. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on the demise of talkback radio 3MTR in Melbourne. Smith notes the station had been having financial difficulties for months and was unable to compete with Melbourne’s talk 3AW. Read more here.
Afghan Civilian Massacre, 2012 Presidential Race, HBO Palin Movie, Rush Limbaugh Controversy and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/12). The case of a U.S. Army sergeant who killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan; the GOP candidates’ battle to win the nomination to face President Obama in November; HBO’s “Game Change” film about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential race; the ongoing controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh; and the Iran nuclear weapons issue were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Phil Hendrie Walks the Red Carpet. Sure, he’s not wearing a glitzy, designer gown but he is walking on a red carpet! That’s Talk Radio Network personality Phil Hendrie at the Los Angeles Animation Festival on Saturday, March, 10. Hendrie – whose voice appears in numerous animated films and TV programs – was a cast member in Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s “Team America” film. Hendrie states, “I was happy to be involved in any way that I could, because that was a great work experience for me…Every time that it’s mentioned that I was in ‘Team America,’ people instantaneously recognize it. They know the voice of I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., they know the voice of the terrorist, they know the film, so it’s like my instant credibility button.”
Progressive Talk Stars Stephanie Miller and Bill Press Become Featured Current TV Content. The progressive cable and satellite TV channel founded by former Vice President Al Gore is adding Dial Global radio talk show hosts Stephanie Miller and Bill Press to its lineup. Miller’s and Press’ programs will be simulcasts of their radio shows – Miller airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET and Press from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET – beginning early this spring. In a statement, Current TV chairman Al Gore says, “I’ve followed Stephanie and Bill for years. They provide the kind of smart, insightful news analysis that our viewers want to hear. Bill brings a vital perspective directly from the heart of the Beltway, and Stephanie’s fresh take on politics and news has a decidedly outsider flair. We’re really looking forward to bringing their voices to our viewers.” WYD Media president Ron Hartenbaum, executive producer of Stephanie Miller’s program, says, “We at ‘The Stephanie Miller Show’ are excited to participate in another radio-based video simulcast program. The bottom line is entertaining talk radio makes great and engaging tune-in programming for video.” Other political talk shows seen on Current TV include: “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur,” and “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm.”
Rush Limbaugh Addresses Sandra Fluke Issue, Loss of Advertisers at Beginning on Monday Program. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Rush Limbaugh began yesterday’s program speaking about his apology issued over the weekend to Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke for using the terms “slut” and “prostitute” to describe her. Limbaugh stated that he “descended to their level” – meaning liberal political opponents – when he used the two words. “I became like them and I feel very badly about that. I’ve always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program. Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for. They distracted from the point I was actually trying to make. And I, again, apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her.” Limbaugh addressed the loss of advertisers without going into specifics but appeared not overly concerned about the matter stating he turns down advertising on his program regularly for various reasons and said companies advertise with him to have access to his large audience – that everything about the program is for the audience. Without the audience, Limbaugh said the whole enterprise would be academic. Limbaugh slapped back at exiting advertisers a bit when he said, “They don’t want you or your business.” We don’t expect Premiere Networks to announce which advertisers have dropped their advertising – whether temporary or permanent – but it’s being reported that as many as 13 sponsors have left but eight are being widely reported: Carbonite, Citrix, Go To Meeting, Legal Zoom, Pro Flowers, Select Comfort, Sleep Train and Quicken Loans. For her part, Sandra Fluke appeared on ABC TV’s “The View” and said of Limbaugh’s apology, “I don’t think that a statement like this issued, saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything, and especially when that statement is issued when he’s under significant pressure from his sponsors who have begun to pull their support.” So far, two affiliate stations are confirmed to have dropped Limbaugh’s show as a result: KPUA, Hilo, Hawaii and WBEC, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Progressive Talk Host Mike Malloy Mocks Tornado Victims on Radio Program. Longtime progressive talk host Mike Malloy self-syndicates his program and in some quarters he’s taking heat for mocking the victims of the tornados that swept through the Midwest late last week. Malloy is quoted by several sources on his Friday program saying, “Their God, if this is the way they want to look at it, keeps smashing them into little grease spots on the pavement, in Alabama, in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma – you know, the Bible Belt…where they ain’t gonna let no g*dd*mn science get in the way, it says in the bible, blah blah blah, so according to their way of thinking, y’know, God with his omnipotent thumb, and so far tonight, has smashed so far 20 people on Highway 12, or whatever the hell highway they live next to.” With the controversy being raised by Rush Limbaugh overshadowing the consumer media, it’s unlikely Malloy’s comments – which could certainly be deemed insensitive to the people affected by the storms – will get enough attention to catch the national media’s eyes. There’s also the fact that Limbaugh’s program is dominating in terms of presence and Malloy’s is not. Regardless, there are media analysts who are pointing to the use of hyperbole, name calling and insensitive language as a sign that more civility is needed in America’s public discourse.
Compass Media Networks to Syndicate Bob Vila Radio Features. Iconic home improvement figure Bob Vila and Compass Media Networks are agreeing to work together to distribute daily home improvement features voiced by Vila exclusively for radio beginning May 1. Of course, Vila is well known for his television programs – “This Old House” (1979-1989), “Bob Vila’s Home Again” (1990-2005), and “Bob Vila” (2005-2007). He now heads up his own home improvement site, BobVila.com. Vila says of the venture, “Radio offers an incredible opportunity to connect with the American homeowner.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says the project hopes to take advantage of the nearly $112 billion spent annually on home improvement. “Bob Vila is truly an American treasure. Radio stations and advertisers will leap at the chance to associate their brands with Bob Vila.”
Cumulus Media Partners with Radiate Media to Produce National Traffic Reporting Service. The combined effort is going to be called “Right Now Traffic” and will be available to stations in April in the top 75 markets. The reports will be powered by the world’s largest traffic flow network, which includes government sensors, toll tag monitoring and billions of GPS data points. Radiate Media’s premier traffic data comes in part from Nokia (formerly NAVTEQ) – a source also used for GPS navigation devices, in-vehicle navigation systems, mobile devices and hundreds of radio and television stations. Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey states, “We’re excited about launching ‘Right Now Traffic’ with Radiate Media. Americans are spending more than 1,000 hours per year in their cars. Our listeners, advertisers and network affiliates all demand accurate and timely traffic information and this partnership enables us to address that need with a best-in-class service.”
Dial Global Amps Up Producers Department for Programming. Dial Global promotes Scot Kirk to the newly created position senior production director and brings James Harness aboard as a producer. The company says Kirk will oversee the creative direction and imaging for all of Dial Global-owned formats, shows and programs. Both Kirk and Harness will be located in Valencia, California and report directly to VP Programming, David Felker. EVP of programming Beau Phillips says, “Since merging with Westwood One, Dial Global now produces a tremendous amount of content. While our programming sounds strong, we’re investing in producers who will set the vision and boost the quality across all DG products.” Scot Kirk brings more than two decades of radio production expertise to his new role, including positions at Jones Radio Networks, KISW-FM and KMTT-FM in Seattle, and KXPK-FM in Denver before joining Dial Global in 2009. James Harness is best known for guiding the creative imaging for KROQ-FM in Los Angeles as well as 92.3 NOW, WXRK-FM and FREE-FM in New York.
Salem Radio Network Holds Urgent Drive for Help for Tornado Victims. The talk hosts syndicated nationally by Salem Radio Network — Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Janet Mefferd, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt – mounted a daylong appeal yesterday (3/5) to gather donations for food, blankets and other essentials for the people of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and the other states affected by the tornados that swept through the region over the weekend. The storms caused dozens of deaths and millions of dollars worth of destruction. Oklahoma City-based FEED THE CHILDREN is facilitating and administering the aid.
Sirius XM Beefs Up Election Programming on POTUS Channel. The satcaster ramps up its 2012 presidential election coverage with new programming on its Politics of the United States – POTUS – channel. “Showdown 2012” will air Thursdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm with veteran White House and Washington, D.C. correspondents including Jon Decker, Chris Core, Dick Uliano and Louise Schiavone. “CQ Roll Call” airs Wednesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by CQ Roll Call senior editor Morton Kondracke, editor David Hawkings, and others. “The Flacks” airs Mondays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by veteran communications strategists and MSNBC political analysts Karen Finney and Robert Traynham.
Money Radio 1200 Debuts in Palm Springs. CRC Media West’s KPSF, Palm Springs financial talk radio outlet signed on yesterday (3/5). The station was constructed by CRC Media West principals Ronald Cohen and Brian DuBose and modeled after the company’s “Money Radio” outlet serving the Phoenix market. The Palm Springs station features a mix of syndicated and local/regional programming.
WTOP, Washington, DC Names Washington Regional Transplant Community Charity of the Month. The Hubbard Broadcasting media organization says that as part of WTOP’s ‘Charity of the Month’ program, Washington Regional Transplant Community will receive more than $30,000 in free air time and in-kind contributions, including on-air promotions, as well as content on WTOP’s social media platforms and on WTOP.com throughout the month. The WRTC serves as the federally-designated organ procurement organization (OPO) for the Washington metropolitan area. As one of 58 OPOs nationwide, WRTC is the organization that facilitates all deceased organ, eye and tissue donation in our area, serving more than five million residents. WTOP public relations and marketing specialist Robin Newton says, “WTOP is proud to support Washington Regional Transplant Community during the month of March. WRTC has a direct effect on the health of our local community and helping them means strengthening an invaluable resource for our neighbors. Our hope is to spread awareness and garner attention for their work.”
Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey Addresses “Inherently Inefficient” Nature of Old-Line Media Business Model in Bain Capital News Story. The chief executive officer of the second largest radio station operator in America is one of several Atlanta-based business executives to speak to the Atlanta Journal Constitution about his business and the role private equity firm Bain Capital played in its progress. The piece ran Sunday (2/5) online and in print and was written from the perspective of giving insight into Bain Capital – the company formerly run by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. However it also probes the nature of corporate radio as it rides the rough surf of an economic downturn and a dramatically changing media business – complete with layoffs and job consolidation. The story notes Cumulus CFO Joseph Hannan explained to investors at a recent conference that they had to “wholesale re-engineer the way these operations work” in order to cut costs and that the company learned this process while working with the private equity firms. Hannan said the company was able to cut $70 million in costs. Lew Dickey tells the AJC the business has to work that way to survive. He says old-line media companies have become “inherently inefficient. We run the business as efficiently as technology permits us to do.” Interestingly, Bain Capital took a loss on its involvement with Cumulus. Cumulus ended up buying out Bain and the other private equity partners. It worked with other private equity firms to engineer the Citadel Broadcasting deal and it remains to be seen whether that will turn out to be a wise investment for them or whether they will suffer the same fate as Bain. Through it all, Dickey remains confident and tells the AJC he believes his company will add jobs – albeit in different sectors – during this year. “By the end of the year, we’ll have a net increase in jobs. They’ll be different jobs. That’s how business evolves.”
Exit of CBS Radio CHR Programmer and 92.3 Now PD Dom Theodore Fires Up Speculation About Sports or News Moving to the New York Signal. There was big news in the CHR world yesterday as CBS Radio’s format captain and PD of 92.3 Now (WXRK-FM, New York) Dom Theodore left the building. For those awaiting the (some say) way overdue addition of an FM signal for sports talk WFAN, this move gives them plenty to talk about. Still others believe one of CBS Radio’s all-newsers – WINS or WCBS – could end up with an FM simulcast. Right now it’s all guesswork but rumors that the rest of the on-air staff at 92.3 Now may have received news of its imminent demise along with Theodore’s departure have the message boards in the Tri-State area red hot with chatter.
Courtside Entertainment Group Names Rich Rapiti Senior Director of Affiliate Relations. Longtime affiliate relations pro Rich Rapiti is reunited with Westwood One founder Norm Pattiz in his new role as senior director of affiliate relations for Pattiz’s Courtside Entertainment Group. Rapiti will be based in New York City. Courtside president Bob Moore says, “Rich Rapiti is a unique guy. He has worked in the radio business his entire adult life and has mastered the art of working with radio stations in providing quality programming. We are extremely excited about having Rich on our team.” Speaking about his new position, Rapiti states, “I am thrilled to be the newest member of the Courtside team. Rarely does the opportunity occur where you can work with the likes of a Norm Pattiz and his executive team.”
XEPRS, San Diego Makes AM Drive Changes; Scott Kaplan Exits, Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth In. After 11 years at the station, morning drive host Scott Kaplan and co-host Billy Ray Smith are out as hosts of the program. Station VP/GM Tex Meyer says in a press release the change was made “after very careful consideration and evaluation of several important factors.” However, many San Diego media observers are saying Kaplan’s recent unflattering on-air comments about Mountain West broadcaster Andrea Lloyd put management over the top and forced its hand. Broadcast Company of the Americas brings San Diego market veterans Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth in to take over the morning drive show.
WGN, Chicago Holds “Cubs Song” Contest. Musically inclined Chicago Cubs fans are being encouraged to write a tribute song to their favorite baseball team and have the chance for it to become part of Cubs radio broadcasts all season long. Tribune Company’s WGN – flagship for Chicago Cubs baseball – will be the judge of the winning submission for this unique promotion. Here are the rules: Write an original song about the Chicago Cubs and e-mail it as an .mp3 file attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 29, 2012. The lyrics must mention the Cubs and WGN Radio, but may not mention names of individual players, coaches or Cubs management. Songs longer than four minutes will be disqualified. You must also include your name, address, daytime phone number, e-mail address, and age in the e-mail. Entries on behalf of a group must provide the required information for each member of the group. WGN will post up to 10 finalists on its website and give fans the chance to vote on the winner. The writer/performer of the winning entry will have the chance to get the song recorded in a professional studio and perform it live during Jonathon Brandmeier’s Opening Day broadcast on WGN.
WBNS-FM, Columbus Debuts “Off-Season with Bobby Carpenter.” The NFL season is over – more or less – until the draft in April and RadiOhio sports talker 97.1 The Fan (WBNS-FM) is taking advantage of the year-round interest in the National Football League by creating a weekly, Friday afternoon show co-hosted by former Ohio State standout and current Detroit Lions linebacker Bobby Carpenter and WBNS-TV’s Beau Bishop. Director of programming and operations Jay Taylor announces the one-hour show airs from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm featuring talk about the NFL, the upcoming draft and Buckeye football and debuts this Friday, February 10.
CNN Names Jim Acosta to National Political Correspondent Role. The cable news channel announces Jim Acosta is promoted to national political correspondent where he’ll appear regularly on several CNN programs including “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” and “John King, USA,” according to TVWeek. CNN SVP and Washington bureau chief Sam Feist states, “Jim has been an outstanding addition to the political team. He has emerged as one of the key reporters on the campaign trail and his astute reporting skills will only help to position the network to dominate this important election cycle.”
CBS Radio Renews with MLB’s Phillies; Games to Air on WIP-FM. CBS Radio’s news/talk WPHT, Philadelphia has been the longtime flagship for Philadelphia Phillies baseball and the company and team just struck a new multi-year deal to keep the team with CBS Philadelphia. This season the games will also air on sister sports WIP’s new FM signal as well. CBS Radio Philadelphia VP/market manager Marc Rayfield states, “It’s a very exciting time for WPHT and WIP, and this partnership with the Philadelphia Phillies only adds to the interest audiences have in these two leading radio stations. We look forward to the future with the most thrilling team in baseball.”
Talk Host Steve Cochran Ready to Return to Action After Health Scare. Chicago-based talk host Steve Cochran – who handles the afternoon program at Salem Communication’s WIND, Chicago and hosts the late morning program for KTRS, St. Louis (which is rerun in the evening) from his home in the Chicago area – took himself off the air last week and went to the hospital after feeling chest pains, according to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder. Cochran underwent some tests and was prescribed medication and reports he hopes to be back on the radio soon. Cochran tells Feder, “The doctor said I’ll be 125 percent, which is great news unless you really hate my show.”
More TV Work for TRN’s Phil Hendrie. Los Angeles-based, nationally syndicated talk radio personality Phil Hendrie scored a recurring role on the hit Fox TV show “New Girl.” Hendrie says, “The entire cast and crew is so hard working, gracious and welcoming. It’s an honor to get to work with them.” Last year, Hendrie taped an episode of the ABC-TV hit show “Modern Family” in which he plays the recurring character “Boots.” That episode is to air soon. Pictured here is the cast of “New Girl” – from left to right: Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone, Hendrie, Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson.
Romney Surges in GOP Primary, Super Bowl Aftermath, Syria Violence and Closure of U.S. Embassy and New Iran Sanctions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/6). Mitt Romney’s victory in Nevada over the weekend and his continuing lead over competitors, the aftermath of the Giants’ victory in Super Bowl XLVI, continuing violence in Syria and the U.S.’s closure of its embassy there and new sanctions levied against Iran were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Radio Not Alone in Cuts; CNN Eliminates 50 Positions. Changes in technology and an analysis of its own efficiency have caused CNN to cut some 50 positions in the trenches according to a report in TVNewser. After a three-year study of the news organization’s operations, senior vice president Jack Womack writes in a memo to staffers, “Technology investments in our newsrooms now allow more desk-top editing and publishing for broadcast and online. As a result of these technology and workflow changes, CNN is reducing the number of media editors in our work force in Atlanta.” The report notes 12 positions in the Washington, DC bureau have been eliminated as well as jobs in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
All-New Cumulus Down 1.9% in Q3. In a conference call with analysts, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey reported that third quarter revenue for the newly acquired Citadel group of stations was down 2.3%, the Cumulus Media Partners stations – the old Susquehanna group stations that made up CMP which Cumulus finished purchasing in August, down 3.4% while Cumulus proper was down 0.6% in the third quarter compared to the same quarter one year ago. Dickey reports the company is ahead of schedule with its plan to achieve almost $52 million in “synergies” before January. He states, “We now have a true national platform with a large and liquid market capitalization and a flexible, covenant-light debt complex that is designed to optimize free cash flow and de-risk the equity. Our team is making excellent progress on the Citadel integration and is energized by the upside potential of our newly transformed platform.”
RAB Names Erica Farber Executive Vice President. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces it is consolidating its Membership, Professional Development and Services units into one big group and that former Radio & Records publisher and CEO Erica Farber joins the organization as EVP as of January 1, 2012. RAB president and CEO Jeff Haley says of Farber’s joining the organization, “I am thrilled about Erica joining the management team of the RAB. We are at a pivotal time as we look to serve the industry and ensure our product offerings meet the demands of an evolving medium. There’s no better executive for the role than Erica.” In related moves at the RAB, Sheila Kirby exits the RAB’s Professional Development Group to take the senior vice president of sales training and development post at CBS Radio. Michael Weiss, who serves as president of sales at CBS Radio says, “Sheila and I have worked together for close to 20 years, and there is no one I respect more when it comes to motivating a team to perform at their absolute best. Working closely with Sheila, our sales force will have a clear advantage in the marketplace and advertisers will benefit greatly working with such a sophisticated group of salespeople dedicated to constructing integrated programs that guarantee results.” Also from the RAB, Ron Ruth shifts from a full-time position with the RAB to a consulting role.
“The Broadside” Hosts Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent Fill in at WBAL, Baltimore. Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent began their internet program, “The Broadside” several months ago. Now, as Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore is airing various programs in its 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot, Langer and Newgent host their program on WBAL on November 14, 15 and 25. Langer, who serves as president of the Institute for Liberty and the Small Business Political Alliance and was named by Campaigns and Elections as a Top Influencer in Maryland in 2011 and Newgent, who writes for TheExaminer.com and RedMaryland.blogspot.com and does research and analysis of politics and policy, say their plan “is to expand the horizons of traditional conservative talk, bringing in discussions (and guests) whose focuses are not only politics, but also movies, music and sports.”
CBS Radio Transitions ESPN High Desert to AM Signal; Goes All-Christmas on FM. The ESPN High Desert sports talk outlet KVFG-FM, Victorville, California shifts to KRAK-AM as ESPN 910 so the FM signal can flip to an all-Christmas format. There’s no indication what the group’s plans are for the FM signal after the holidays but it seems likely this is a prelude to a change to a music format.
Fox Sports Radio Los Angeles Raises Funds for Paralyzed Veterans. AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. (KLAC) announces it raised almost $100,000 for the Paralyzed Veterans of America during its radiothon on November 9. All the money raised during the “Loose Cannons” and “Petros & Money” shows that day will benefit the charity that provides rehab, access to services as well as research to cure spinal cord injuries. Pictured here (from l-r) are “Loose Cannons” Steve Hartman, Pat O’Brien, Los Angeles Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs. Robitaille was one of a number of local sports celebs who appeared on the program to help the cause.
SCOTUS to Hear Health Care Reform Arguments, 2012 Presidential Race and ‘Occupy Oakland’ Shut Down Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/14). The United States Supreme Court’s agreement to hear arguments on President Obama’s Health Care Reform law, the 2012 presidential race and the shutdown of the ‘Occupy Oakland’ protests were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
iHeartRadio to Invade American Living Rooms. In an innovative development that significantly bolsters traditional radio programming’s digital distribution potential, Clear Channel’s expanded deal with Microsoft to include its iHeartRadio in the Xbox LIVE service could put CC stations into the homes of millions of Americans. Clear Channel says this is an expansion of its multi-year deal with Microsoft that integrates iHeartRadio on Windows Phone 7 and brought the recent two-day iHeartRadio music festival into homes exclusively on the Xbox 360. Beginning this winter it will work this way: The New iHeartRadio will be available for free to Xbox LIVE Gold members. Through this new agreement, Gold members who have Kinect for Xbox 360 can use the product’s revolutionary sensor to experience an entertainment first: the ability to control digital radio in their living room using their voice and body. Gold members who have Xbox 360, but do not have Kinect, can operate the New iHeartRadio using their controller. Regardless of whether they have Kinect or not, all Xbox 360 Gold members will have access to the New iHeartRadio’s features, including more than 800 of the nation’s most popular live broadcast and digital-only radio stations from 150 cities, plus custom stations with more songs, better music intelligence and more user control. The deal will also give users access to social features through CC’s deal with Facebook. Clear Channel CEO John Hogan tells TALKERS, “Clear Channel is committed to innovation and deep social integration. We want to continually deliver new experiences that consumers have never seen before – like the recent launch of the New iHeartRadio, which combines broadcast and digital-only stations and user-created stations in one service for the first time. The New iHeartRadio’s integration with the Xbox 360 enables Kinect users to control digital radio in their living room using just their voice and body. There is nothing else like it on the market and it’s another example of how we are committed to being wherever our listeners are with the programming and services they want and expect.”
Financial Expert Charles Payne to Launch National Radio Show Via Sun Broadcast Group. Charles Payne is well known to viewers of Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel as well as to KFI, Los Angeles where he’s hosted a Saturday afternoon program. Now, Payne partners with Sun Broadcast Group to begin a nationally syndicated two-hour financial talk show airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily starting October 17. “Payne Nation with Charles Payne” will emanate from Fox studios in New York. Chad Wilkinson is named executive producer, Gabe Hobbs and Jim Robinson are aboard in a consulting capacity and the show will feature the voice talents of Edd Hall. Sun CEO and founder Jay Bailey states, “We’re very excited to welcome Charles to the Sun Broadcast lineup. We believe the industry is ready for an uplifting, positive financial show that will provide real answers for real people in this turbulent time in our nation.” Payne says, “Everyone asks me how I am going to be different from other hosts out there, and I tell them that I am simply going to be real. No scare tactics. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything in fact I go right at the issues by digging beneath the surface, seeking facts, relying on history and connecting all the dots for real assessments and real solutions.”
Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels Scores Exclusive Perspective of Airline Passenger Arrest. WJIM, Lansing-based talk show host Michael Patrick Shiels happened to be returning from Amsterdam to Detroit when a man on the Delta plane began ranting about a hijacking. The man was quickly restrained by air marshals. Shiels tells TALKERS, “While observing from up close, I discreetly used the e-mail function of Delta’s in-flight entertainment system to send e-mails and texts to my producer and other media outlets. The result was an exclusive story for my radio network and a press gaggle waiting for me when I emerged from the aircraft, resulting in national publicity on the major TV networks.” Shiels says the man appeared to be American and in his 30s. He says many passengers became agitated since it was an Amsterdam to Detroit flight that the infamous “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to blow up on Christmas Day 2009.
Paul Finebaum Gets Favorable Ruling in Legal Tussle with Cumulus. Regionally syndicated and WJOX-FM, Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum was successful in getting his civil suit against Citadel – now Cumulus – returned to state court in Alabama. Federal judge L. Scott Coogler ruled Cumulus was not able to prove the dispute went above the $75,000 threshold to make it a federal civil suit. Legal experts say Finebaum stands a better chance in state court due to the legal standards. Finebaum has two suits filed against Cumulus: one in which Citadel agreed to bankruptcy reorganization without his consent and the other that he was coerced into amending his contract and that Citadel violated its deal with him by manipulating revenue for his program away from him.
KNBR, San Francisco Host Ralph Barbieri Comes Out with Parkinson’s Diagnosis. In a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, KNBR sports talk host Ralph Barbieri – co-host of “The Razor and Mr. T” alongside Tom Tolbert – confesses to having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2002 and telling no one except Tolbert until now. Barbieri tells the paper he decided to reveal his diagnosis now since he is coming to the end of his contract and wanted to be honest as he and Cumulus negotiate a new deal. He tells the paper, “If I am to continue at KNBR, I’d like to start with all our cards on the table, face-up. I’ve gotten to know Lew Dickey a little bit, and my gut feeling was that he could deal with my situation at an honorable level, so I gave him a call and told him everything. He let me know that KNBR wants me back. He didn’t say on what terms, but the fact that he didn’t view the Parkinson’s as a red flag, that was a huge relief to me.”
Premiere Networks Scores Large Market Add for Glenn Beck: Phoenix. Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix agrees to add the Glenn Beck show to its daily program schedule in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm time slot bumping Talk Radio Network’s Michael Savage from the slot. Clear Channel Phoenix director of programming and operations Smokey Rivers states, “Glenn has a sizeable and loyal local following. His unique and stimulating perspectives will be a welcome addition to the station.”
WROK, Rockford-Based Michael Koolidge Show Names New Producer. Michael Koolidge’s regionally and independently syndicated talk show is based out of Cumulus-owned WROK, Rockford, Illinois and syndicated to WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois and WLBK, DeKalb, Illinois. Koolidge announces he brings on Natalie Zee Fenwick as his program’s first full-time producer. “Thanks specifically to our outstanding advertiser support over the last year, we can afford to officially create our first bona fide job. Even though it’s just a single job, we’re proud to join the ranks of ‘job creators’ of America. I’ve had a rotation of great part-time producers and interns over the years, but we’re finally in a position where we’re ready to hire a regular producer. And we’re thrilled that we found Natalie.” Koolidge’s business model – serving as an independent contractor to regional radio stations – is one the industry is likely to see more of as companies and stations seek quality local or regional talent without taking on the expenses of traditional employees. Koolidge’s highly rated program is one industry watchers are keeping an eye on.
Talk Host Jim Walsh and KFYR, Bismarck Part Company. It’s only been two weeks since talk personality Jim Walsh returned to Clear Channel’s KFYR, Bismarck – a station he worked at in 2003 and 2004 – to host the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program formerly held by Scott Bachmeier. Not sure what happened there but Walsh cryptically tells TALKERS, “I have stepped down from the afternoon talk show at KFYR, Bismarck by mutual consent. I’m still there part-time, at least for the time being. I’m currently exploring my options and can be reached at 701-226-8449.” Bachmeier had exited the full-time shift to concentrate on non-radio work but the station lists him as host of the time slot – at least for now.
Occupy Wall Street, Steve Jobs Passes, 2012 GOP Candidates and Obama Jobs Plan Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/5). The growing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, the death of Apple innovator Steve Jobs, the Republican candidates for president in 2012 and President Obama’s job creation plan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Glenn Beck’s Bold Pioneering Media Station Draws Attention and Scrutiny from Consumer Media. Glenn Beck’s new two-hour live video program that is the lynchpin of his online media initiative is just two weeks old but it is garnering significant attention from the consumer press as talk media and TV practitioners rightfully watch with intense interest. Two important aspects of this stand out: the concept of a multi-media, specifically themed digital destination – a media station – once given thought as a quaint notion of what the future might hold is being developed by Beck full throttle; and the idea that everything on the internet must be free – because in a post-Napster world no one is willing to pay for any content on the internet – is being turned on its head. There are obviously others who are crafting media stations that provide video, audio, text and more and Glenn Beck is not necessarily the first talk media personality to pursue this model (Dial Global progressive talk host Thom Hartmann and the maverick Alex Jones have gone down this pioneering path as well, among others). However no one in the talk world with Beck’s media profile, large loyal following and tendency to get press is pushing this as zealously as he is. Beck is the subject of a recent piece by McKay Coppins at the Daily Beast that outlines for consumers some of the inside-the-business details that make GBTV a case study to watch. Since leaving Fox News Channel and launching GBTV, Beck has reportedly convinced some 230,000 P1s to pay $9.95 per year to view his content. Although that audience is a fraction of his former FNC audience, Beck grosses almost $2.3 million from the venture. If those subscriber numbers approach 1 million, Beck could be pulling in almost $10 million per year. As the Daily Beast story reveals, Beck has many more content ideas he’s developing. How many concepts make it to launch remains to be seen but it is clear that Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company (a purposefully ironic name) is operating with the freedom to take Beck’s unique brand and run wild with it. And as media professionals debate the future of radio and television as we know it, Beck’s own words to the Daily Beast indicate he believes he’s creating something different. “What you see in the next 12 months on GBTV will transform the way news and information…is consumed,” Beck proclaims. It may appear Beck is foretelling the death of cable news/talk TV with that statement but it is more likely that Beck is at the forefront of a wave of content creators who are building a new business model for a medium that will co-exist alongside the older media – radio and television. And if that happens how long will they co-exist? Only time will tell. As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison puts it, “Talk media practitioners should put their personal opinions about the political and social specifics of Glenn Beck’s content aside and focus on the mechanics and methodology ‘clinic’ that he is demonstrating. Regardless of whether or not he succeeds, what Beck is doing is a living example of where things are likely heading.”
Young Conservative Talk Up and Comer Andy Dean Joins Roster at Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum. Premiere Networks syndicated newcomer Andy Dean is the latest high-profile talk star to join the stellar roster of more than 30 industry heavyweights set to speak at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum being presented in L.A. by TALKERS in conjunction with the Los Angeles Press Club on Thursday, October 20 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. The young Premiere Networks syndicated host will join such luminaries as Larry King, Norm Pattiz, Bill Handel, and dozens of other movers and shakers including the program directors of the region’s top talk radio stations at this groundbreaking event that is being described as a “Who’s Who of Southern California Talk Radio.” Dean’s remarks will be presented during his introduction of the panel “The State of Talk Radio in Southern California (and Slightly Beyond).” Although the LARTF is already filled to capacity, unregistered media professionals interested in attending can put their names on an active standby list. For complete details, click here.
TRN’s Michael Savage Clears in Chicago. Just two weeks after Joseph J. Gentile-owned WJJG, Chicago announced TRN-FM’s Mancow Muller was returning to the airwaves in the Windy City, the station adds Michael Savage to its lineup. WJJG general manager Matt Dubiel says the new lineup – beginning October 3 – will feature Mancow from 7:00 am to 10:00 am, Savage from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and Mancow again from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. In a release, Dubiel says, “It’s interesting that Dr. Savage has been pigeon-holed as a political talk show host. Michael is an artist. He’s a best-selling author and a storyteller who’s as likely to discuss making rigatoni as he is the events of the day. We paint our radio shows and formats into a corner and then wonder why we struggle. Chicago listeners enjoy Michael Savage so we’re giving them Michael Savage. If Michael can sell millions of books, imagine what he can do for local businesses here!” WJJG is a daytimer with 760 watts at 1530 on the dial. Savage had aired on Salem Communications’ crosstown WIND but was dropped to make room for local personality Steve Cochran.
WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas General Manager Out as Cumulus Consolidates. The industry is waiting to see how Lew Dickey follows through on his promise to create “$50 million in synergies” and a first wave of job consolidation is starting. WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas general manager Keri Korzinewski is reportedly let go leaving Dan Bennett the sole manager for the six Cumulus properties in the Big D that also includes talk KLIF and sports KTCK-AM/FM.
John Gordon Calls Last Twins Game Tonight. John Gordon has been the voice of the Minnesota Twins for the past 25 years. At age 72, he’s hanging up his headphones to “see what’s outside the world of baseball” as he tells KARE-TV, Minneapolis. Gordon and partner Dan Gladden are heard on the Twins baseball network based out of Hubbard Radio’s flagship sports station KSTP.
GOP Presidential Hopefuls, Iran Naval Maneuvers and Obama Jobs Bill Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/27). The cast of GOP candidates for president in 2012, Iran’s plan to send warships to the Atlantic Coast of America and President Obama’s jobs bill were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.