Tag: "Liberty Media"

A Serious Loss for Howard Stern

| April 15, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

sternhowardBOSTON — Sometimes it is, as Mel Brooks commented in his movie “The History of the World, Part One,” good to be the king.  But other times it is not.  Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed (and not too far off) “King of All Media” took a hit last week when the dismissal of his lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio, Inc. in which he sought more than $300 million in stock awards was upheld by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

| October 3, 2012

Talkers New Media Seminar LA set for Thursday, October 11 is Sold Out!   The agenda is basically set and most of the sponsors announced for the forthcoming Los Angeles installment of TALKERS magazine’s two-part New Media Seminar 2012 (the first part took place in New York on June 7).   According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “The venue is intimate and even kind of funky making for a very relaxed and informal environment – conducive to the kind of communicative and networking environment we hope to achieve.  The problem, however, is that unlike industry events that are held in convention centers and big hotels, we are working with a finite amount of seating and space which we are obligated by city regulations not to exceed.”  TALKERS New Media Seminar LA is scheduled for Thursday, October 11 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm in association with the Los Angeles Press Club at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.  Registration has only been open to working media. A registration “stand-by” list is being maintained until this Friday (10/5) for those willing to take a chance. Some sponsorships however are still available.  For stand-by registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.  The agenda for the event is as follows:

9:00 am – 9:50 am
Bagel Breakfast Party
Sponsored by Brent’s Deli 

9:50 am – 10:00 am
Welcoming Remarks

Speaker:  Michael Harrison, Publisher, TALKERS

10:00 am – 10:15 am
Morning Keynote

Speaker:  Norm Pattiz, CEO, Courtside Entertainment

10:20 am – 11:00 am
Panel Discussion

“The Big Picture: Spoken Word Radio”

Moderator:  Michael Harrison, Publisher, TALKERS

Panelists (in alphabetical order):

Phil Boyce, VP/Director, Spoken Word Format, Salem Communications

Ron Hartenbaum, President, WYD Media

Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC

Don Martin, VP Programming, Fox Sports Radio/OM KLAC, Los Angeles

Mike McVay, Senior VP Programming, Cumulus Media

Harvey Nagler, VP, CBS Radio News

11:05 am – 11:20 am
Special Presentation

“Interactivity and Video: The Key to Your Business Future”

Speaker:  Walter Sabo, Chairman, Sabo Media

11:25 am – 11:35 am
Special Presentation

“The Radio Personality as Entrepreneur”

Introduction:  Jeff Wasserman, President, Life Coach Media

Speaker:  Ken Rutkowski, host, “Business Rock Stars,” KFWB, Los Angeles

11: 40 am – 12:20 pm
Panel Discussion

“The Challenges of Hosting a Talk Show in 2012”

Moderator:  Mike Kinosian, Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief, TALKERS

Panelists:

Jerry Doyle, Host, Talk Radio Network

Heidi Harris, Host, KRLA, Los Angeles

Lars Larson, Host, Compass Media Networks/ KXL, Portland

Doug Stephan, Host, “Good Day”

Alan Stock, Host, KDWN, Las Vegas

Eric Weiss, president, The Weiss Agency

12:25 pm – 12:40 pm
Special Presentation

“Woman of the Year Award”

Introduction:  Carole Marks, CEO, Talk Media, Inc.

Presenter:  Stephanie Miller, Host, WYD Media

Recipient:  Robin Bertolucci, PD KFI/KTLK, Los Angeles

Sponsored by TuneIn

12:45 pm – 1:00 pm
Special Presentation

“Database Your Tribe…Now!”

Speaker, Holland Cooke, Consultant, Holland Cooke Media

1:00 pm – 1:50 pm
Lunch
Sponsored by Brent’s Deli 

1:50 pm – 2:20 pm
Panel Discussion

“Making Money in Talk Radio:  Challenges and Opportunities”

Introduction: Michael Zwerling, President, Michael Zwerling Media/Owner KSCO, Santa Cruz

Moderator:  Brent Seltzer, Host, Podjockey

Panelists:

Bob Moore, President, Courtside Entertainment

Rusty Humphries, Host, Talk Radio Network/WGST, Atlanta

Michael Zwerling, President, Michael Zwerling Media/Owner KSCO, Santa Cruz

More TBA

Sponsored by Michael Zwerling Media

2:25 pm – 3:05 pm
Panel Discussion

“The State of Talk Programming”

Moderator:  Kevin Casey, VP/Executive Editor TALKERS

Panelists (in alphabetical order):

Skip Essick, PD, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno

Kevin LaRue, PD KSL, Salt Lake City

Andy Ludlum, PD, KNX, Los Angeles

Garret Lewis, PD/morning host, KNST, Tucson

Dave Sniff, PD, KFMB, San Diego

Chuck Tyler, PD, KRLA/KKLA, Los Angeles

Sponsored by Premiere Networks

3:10 pm – 3:45 pm
Panel Discussion

“The Modern Day Pioneers”

Moderator:  Patt Morrison, Host/Interviewer, KPCC, Los Angeles; Columnist, Los Angeles Times

Panelists (in alphabetical order):

Ian Freeman, Co-Host, Free Talk Live

Sam Hasson, President/Founder, LATalkRadio.com

Michael Horn, CEO, CRN Digital Talk

Tom Leykis, President/Host, The New Normal

Shadoe Stevens, Host, Mental Radio, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio

Sponsored by CRN Digital Talk

3:45 pm – 4:20 pm
Panel Discussion

“The Art of the Show”

Moderator:  Bill Moran, President, Bill Moran & Associates

Panelists (in alphabetical order):

Jerry Doyle, Host, Talk Radio Network

Bill Handel, Host, KFI, Los Angeles

Karel, Host, KGO, San Francisco

Neil Larrimore, PD, KFYI/KGME, Phoenix

Eric Stanger, VP Operations, The Sean Hannity Show, Premiere Networks

Sponsored by TRN

4:20 pm – 5:00 pm
Afternoon Sessions and Keynote

TBA

SPONSORS

Americans for Limited Government, BMX/XtreMedia, Brent’s Deli, Christie Communications, Comrex Corporation, CRN Digital Talk, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Focus Communications, Inc., Free Talk Live, LATalkRadio.com, Life Coach Media, Podjockey, Premiere Networks, Talk Radio Network, Talk Radio News Service, TuneIn, WYD Media, Michael Zwerling Media.

September PPM Numbers: Some Talk and Sports Highlights.  TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian reports on the September PPM numbers rolling in and notes the movement of some stations of interest to talk and sports radio watchers.

  • In market #7 Washington, DC, a nine-tenths August-September improvement helps propel American University‘s WAMU to #1, unseating Hubbard‘s WTOP-FM (#3), which slides -1.1 to 7.1, the news outlet’s lowest point since April’s 6.5.
  • For the sixth straight month, Washington Nationals’ flagship WJFK-FM (CBS Radio‘s “The Fan”) bests Red Zebra format rival WTEM (“The Team”), however, WTEM (#20) gains one-half share and WJFK-FM (#18) is down one-tenth.
  • In market #8 Philadelphia, gaining one-half share are CBS Radio’s “Sports Radio 94 WIP-FM” (3.7, #12) and public news/talk WHYY (3.5, #13).
  • For the seventh straight month, “Newsradio 1060 KYW” is in the 6.1 – 6.7 range (6.5, -.2 from August) and, as in August, the CBS Radio-owned facility is #1.
  • In market #9 Atlanta, in August, WSB-AM had a 4.8, which was its lowest 6+ share since registering a 4.2 in September 2010.  The Cox Radio talk outlet bounces back though with a +.9 to 5.7 and ranks fifth, versus #9 in August.
  • In market #10 Boston, remember “Rush Radio” on WXKS-AM?  That was how the Clear Channel talk station positioned itself for about one year, beginning in March 2010.  In mid-August of this year, Rush Limbaugh surfaced on cross-town WRKO and the Entercom talker gains nine-tenths to 2.4, its strongest 6+-share since March (2.5).
  • For the first time in the last seven monthlies, New England Patriots flagship WBZ-FM (CBS Radio-owned “The Sports Hub”) overtakes Entercom format competitor WEEI-FM.  The two sports properties were tied in March (3.5) with WEEI-FM holding the upper hand from April through August.  In September though, WBZ-FM gains eight-tenths (4.5, #8) while Red Sox flagship WEEI-FM drops two-tenths (4.1, #9).

For more PPM data and ratings analysis, visit the ratings section at our sister publication RadioInfo’s site here.

FCC to Consider Liberty Media Control of Sirius.  The FCC is calling for public comment on Liberty Media Corp.’s application to take de jure (legal) control of Sirius XM Radio.  Sirius did not sign that application, filed in August, but the Commission is deciding to move forward anyway.  Back in May, the FCC turned down a request for de facto (effective) control by Liberty, which now has an effective 48% stake in the satellite radio company.   Petitions to deny are due November 1, initial opposition due November 13, and final rebuttals by November 20, likely to be followed by several weeks of FCC deliberation.  The two companies have been at odds for a long time with John Malone’s Liberty looking to takeover Sirius.  In 2009, Sirius received a $530 million loan from Liberty to avoid bankruptcy.  There’s much speculation about Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin’s plans if Liberty gains control. His contract with Sirius is up at end of this year.  As reported yesterday, Karmazin is speaking at Liberty’s 2012 investor conference in New York on October 10, just two weeks before the first public comments are due at the FCC.

Saga Declares Special Cash Dividend.  The Saga board announces a special cash dividend of about $7 million — a dividend of $1.65 per Class A or B Common Stock.  Shareholders of record on November 15 receive the dividend, funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet, on December 3.  Ed Christian’s Saga, headquartered in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, owns or operates radio and TV stations in 26 markets and four regional radio networks.

Upgrade to FREE.  Radio consultant Holland Cooke’s latest piece for TALKERS is about some of the tools of the media trade – namely netbooks and tablets.  But it’s about more than that if you step back and look at the big picture.  He points to digital app expert Beth Ziesenis – AskBethZ – as someone who cuts through with her message (and her business) because she’s clearly focused on her objective.  Read what Holland Cooke has to say about these issues here.

 

Odds & Sods. SiriusXM will feature “Pete Dominick’s Electoral College Tour” on its POTUS channel prior to each presidential debate, beginning this evening in Denver.  Dominick is a stand-up comedian and regular on the POTUS channel and his special shows will emanate from the University of Denver, Hofstra University and the University of Virginia in which he’ll host a special one-hour forum with students and faculty – before the presidential debate and live from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET – to talk about the issues that matter most to them in this election…..Chicago Bulls home basketball games will be heard in Spanish on Univision’s WRTO, Chicago “La Tremenda 1200” through the 2014-2015 season.  Omar Ramos and Matt Moreno have the play-by-play.

Benghazi Security Request Controversy, Presidential Debate Preview, Pennsylvania Voter ID Rule Blocked, and Iran Nukes Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/2).  Controversy over a report the U.S. consulate in Benghazi requested more security but was denied prior to the attack on the Libyan embassy; Wednesday’s coming presidential debate; a part of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law is struck down; and Iran’s nuclear weapons program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Friday, August 31, 2012

| August 31, 2012

Talk Radio Wraps Up Major Week of High-Profile Broadcasting and News Gathering. The Republican National Convention week was a busy one for the country’s news/talk stations as well as more than 100 outlets that chose to broadcast live from radio row in Tampa and many more than that sent hosts, staffers and news people to the city to cover the convention and report back to their markets.  According to a report issued to TALKERS by the Republican National Committee, this year’s radio row generated some 1,551 radio interviews smashing 2008′s record of 1,263.  The convention radio row is not only fertile ground upon which to produce a live broadcast with a huge pool of political experts, candidates and surrogates available as guests in one compact location, but it is also an opportunity to get some national attention as Compass Media NetworksTodd Schnitt did on Fox News Channel (upper left photo).  Talk hosts in major markets and nationally syndicated stars certainly have the ability to book big-name guests via phone but the chance to actually rub elbows with big political stars, speak with them face-to-face and chat in a “live” situation is unique to this political season.  It also provides members of the talk radio community with a place and reason to meet and network in a working situation conducive to enhancing existing relationships and forging new ones. The Ernest Istook program, hosted by the former congressman and produced by WYD Media, also emanated from the convention site this week and gave Istook the opportunity to chat with U.S. Rep. and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (here at right).

Yankees Baseball Stays on WCBS, New York for at Least One More Season.  The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick reported it earlier yesterday and CBS Radio confirms it in a release.  Apparently the Yankees have rejected overtures from ESPN to join the company’s new FM-enhanced sports talk outlet WEPN for they will stay with WCBS for the 2013 season.  Numerous industry watchers had expected to see a big bidding war for Yankees baseball and perhaps we’ll see that next season but if this report is correct, it’ll be another year before CBS Radio and Disney/ESPN battle it out for Yankees rights.

Bill Rehkopf Returns to KDKA, Pittsburgh.  The former morning news man at CBS Radio’s KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh returns to the Steel City after being involved in the start-up of the company’s Washington, DC all-newser WNEW-FM.   Rehkopf was the featured morning drive anchor at the station.  Now, he’ll anchor KDKA-AM’s “KDKA Afternoon News” from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Current anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas remains with the station to work on the PM drive show.  In a statement, Rehkopf says, “Working in the nation’s capital was extremely exciting and rewarding.  However, my family and I have deep roots in Pittsburgh and this is a terrific opportunity at KDKA.  It’s a perfect professional fit for me and works well for my family.  I look forward to providing Pittsburgh with a quality program of essential news, information and entertainment to wrap up their work day.”

Reports of Mel Selling Sirius XM Shares Raises Eyebrows.  In a release issued after yesterday’s closing bell, news from Sirius XM Satellite Radio that CEO Mel Karmazin will be selling an additional 30 million shares of the publicly traded company (Sirius XM SIRI) this fall has both Wall Street and radio industry observers speculating as to what it means. Considering the timing involved – Mel’s contract is up this year and major investor Liberty Media (LMCA) is closing in seeking control – there is evidence to support the educated guess that the company’s chief is heading for the door.  Other possibilities include that Mel is simply cashing in his chips for a job clearly well done or that it is a maneuver to throw an obstacle in the way of Liberty taking control.  The price to exercise the 30 million options shares is $0.43. This means the shares will cost Karmazin $12,900,000. If he were to sell them all at $2.50 the price would be a cool $75,000,000, delivering a profit of $62,100,000.  Analyst Spencer Osbourne writes in the Seeking Alpha newsletter, “I can imagine that the news relating to an insider at Sirius XM selling 30,000,000 shares will not be well received by the market. Be prepared, because this news is going to cause some wild speculation and debate. I would not be surprised to see the stock price move down on this news. Between the Liberty cloud and now the Karmazin cloud, the uncertainty is building for Sirius XM.”

NBC Sports Radio Announces Affiliates for Next Week’s Launch.  As NBC Sports Radio and partner Dial Global prepare to debut their late night and overnight sports talk radio shows and hourly sports news reports on Tuesday, September 4, the list of affiliates for the programming is being made public.   The build-up to a national affiliate base with a big rollout is always a challenge and NBC is gearing up with a lot of medium and small market stations for its sports talk shows and has some major market clears on small or outlying signals.  For example, The Amani & Eytan 10:00 pm to 1:00 am show will air in markets including Huntsville, Santa Barbara, Evansville and Roanoke.  But it will also clear secondary signals in the Washington, DC, Denver and Charlotte markets.  Both Amani & Eytan and the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Erik Kusilias show will be heard on WPOP, Hartford.  To see where the shows will debut, click here.

Emmis Delivers Good News to Staff in the Form of Bonuses.  Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan issued an e-mail memo to staffers informing them that they would be receiving cash bonuses to reward their loyalty and dedication to the company during these tough economic times.  Full-time employees will be getting a $1,000 bonus while part-time staffers will each get $250.

Salem Communications to Pay Q3 Dividend.  The board of directors of Salem Communications declares a dividend for the third quarter of 2012 that will pay shareholders of Class A and Class B common stock 3 and ½ cents per share.  The dividend will be paid to all shareholders of record as of September 14 and will be paid on September 28.

Katie Couric’s TV Talk Show to Debut on September 10.  The show, titled simply, “Katie,” will be broadcast in syndication beginning on Monday, September 10 and all media eyes will be on the television legend as she begins a new chapter in her career.  She was once the most popular personality in morning talk television but Katie Couric left to take the helm of the “CBS Evening News,” a job that even her harshest critics would admit is probably beyond anyone’s ability to succeed in this day and age.  But as Howard Kurtz examines in his excellent piece in the Daily Beast, the question is whether Couric’s newsy approach to issues and distant personality will grab daytime TV viewers.  Couric clearly appears to be bucking the trend in what makes successful daytime talk TV but she appears determined.  Read Kurtz’s piece here.

Attention Radio Sales Staffers! Your Job Was Born 90 Years Ago This Week.  This week marks the 90th anniversary of the first sale of radio time.  It was back in 1922 when New York radio station WEAF – owned by Bell Telephone Company – sold a 10-minute commercial to the Hawthorne Court Apartments in Jackson Heights, New York for $50.  At about 5:00 pm on August 28, 1922 a pitch for the apartment complex was made to anyone who happened to be listening and the business of commercial radio was born.  It didn’t take off like a rocket, as radio historians will tell you, but it certainly was the beginning of an industry.  NPR produced a fantastic segment commemorating this event.  Listen to the segment or read the transcript at NPR’s site here.  (Photo: MTM Enterprises)

The Economy, Health Care and Foreign Policy Issues Topped the Talkers TenTM for the Week of August 27 – 31.  These issues, as related to the presidential campaign and set against the backdrop of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  Coming in at #2 on this week’s chart was the RNC speeches.  At #3 was the mainstream media’s coverage of the RNC and the firing of Yahoo! News bureau chief David Chalain and at #4 was Tropical Storm Isaac.  The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top talk topics as discussed on news/talk radio during the week.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  Dial Global’s Jim Bohannon and “Jill on Money” join the program lineup at WZKT, Salisbury-Ocean City, Maryland…..Benztown Radio Network morning show “The Todd N Tyler Radio Empire” hosted by Mike Tyler and Todd Brandt replaces the syndicated version of Mark & Brian at KXFM, Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo…..“Malcolm Out Loud” is added to the programming at KKYT, Ridgecrest, California.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

| August 23, 2012

Tom Owens Out at Clear Channel.  With the constant comings and goings of radio people these days – even executives – it’s tough to call anything a “shocker,” but Tom Owens has been part of the Clear Channel organization since its merger with the old Jacor back in 1998.  Owens began with Jacor as programmer at rocker WEBN, Cincinnati and moved up to the top of the corporate programming ladder there before the merger.  He was the head of Clear Channel programming until last fall when Tom Poleman was named president of national programming platforms and Owens was given the EVP of programming research and strategy title.  During his time there, Owens was no stranger to the pink slip process – of course, participating in it from the position of handing them out.  Now, as CC consolidates its programming research and ratings research groups into the national programming platforms division under Poleman, Owens leaves the company.  The official word from Clear Channel is that Owens will still contribute to its strategic programming on a “consultant basis.”  Sometimes in modern-day corporate jargon, that’s a nice way of saying, sayonara.

Emmis Picks Up Two Stations in Terre Haute.  The purchase of sports talk combo WSDM-FM at 92.7 and WSDX-AM at 1130 (both licensed to Brazil, Indiana) from Crossroads Investments must be approved by the FCC but Emmis will be operating the duo under an LMA beginning September 1.  Emmis Terre Haute general manager James Connor says in a statement, “We are excited to add the ESPN brand to the Emmis Terre Haute cluster of stations which includes WWVR-FM classic rock 105.5 The River and HI-99 WTHI-FM the Wabash Valley’s Country Station.  We will continue to serve the listeners of Terre Haute, Brazil and the surrounding communities with quality programming and our continued commitment to community service.”  In addition to ESPN programming, the combo airs local sports talk host Vaso Michels’ 5:00 am to 7:00 am program.

Talk Host Martha Zoller Loses Bid for Congress in Runoff Election.  Gainesville, Georgia-based talk host Martha Zoller – who left her talk radio career to run for the new 9th Congressional District seat in Georgia – lost the Republican primary runoff to Georgia State Representative Doug Collins.  In a message to supporters, Zoller stated, “I do not know what the future holds for me but I do know that there’s still work to be done.  Don’t stop fighting for what you believe … don’t give up hope in the future of this great nation … and don’t for a second believe that your efforts over the last year were in vain.”  Whether or not Zoller makes a talk host comeback is uncertain but she has hinted to the Georgia media that she is not done with her political aspirations.

Super Agent Eric Weiss Played Significant Role in Heidi & Frank/KLOS Marriage.  One of the most prominent behind-the-scenes movers and shakers in the radio talent rep business, Eric Weiss of the LA-based Weiss Agency, first had the idea that Heidi and Frank would make a good fit in mornings at KLOS as far back as one year ago.  According to Southern California radio historian Don Barrett of LARadio.com, Weiss had the idea that the duo would be perfect for mornings at the heritage LA album rocker when rumors began to surface that Mark & Brian might be heading into their final contract year before he even represented them stating, “I pursued the idea – spoke with both sides about it, and was able to help bring it to fruition.”  There’s a huge lesson and insight in this for those who wonder how big time media talent agents operate.  It is not just a matter of “get me a job.”  Top agents smell potential connections and often put themselves in the mix as catalysts to a marriage before the main parties involved even think of it themselves.  At RadioInfo and TALKERS, we are often asked by zealous-but-unproven talent yet to earn a track record if we can “recommend a good agent.”  Our answer:  “Any agent who would sign you as a client at this point in your career wouldn’t be a ‘good’ one.”

Karel Program to Air on CRN Digital Talk Radio.  San Francisco-based talk host Charles Karel Bouley’s “The Karel Show” begins daily distribution via CRN Digital Talk Radio.  The famously liberal and openly gay talk host began his talk career in 1998 on KFI, Los Angeles with his late partner Andrew Howard.  Since then he’s also worked at KGO, San Francisco.  CRN president and CEO Mike Horn states, “Karel raises questions, brings humor and creates compelling conversation with listeners and guests alike and we’re especially pleased to bring his outstanding show to CRN.”  Karel has a national profile through his radio career, his books, blogs, syndicated columns (Huffington Post) and television appearances as both commentator and actor.  He says, “CRN continues to blaze a trail in delivering content to listeners across America.  I’m so glad they are taking the show.  From the beginning, Mike Horn has been an advocate and I knew we’d get to this day.”  The program airs live on CRN 2 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET.

SiriusXM Board of Directors Sued by Shareholders; Suit Has No Merit Says TALKERS Legal Editor.  The City of Miami Police Relief and Pension Fund, a SiriusXM shareholder, is contending that the SiriusXM board of directors has failed to prevent John Malone-led Liberty Media from assuming control over the satcaster.  The suit, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, contends Malone and other Liberty-appointed members of the board are preventing other board members from “adopting anti-takeover provisions even if doing so would be in the best interests” of shareholders.  Late yesterday, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine ruled he would not stop Liberty from acquiring more shares as the plaintiffs had requested.  He further stated he would hear expedited motions within the next month to decide if the investors’ case should go forward.  But TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says what Liberty is doing is within its legal rights.  In fact, Weisman says SiriusXM could be in breach of contract if it attempted to stop Liberty’s actions.  Read Weisman’s exclusive analysis here.

Fox NFL Analyst Mike Pereira to Appear on KNBR, San Francisco This Season.  NFL fans know former NFL VP of officiating Mike Pereira as the guy the Fox play-by-play team cuts away to when there’s a questionable call on the field that needs illumination.  Now, Pereira will be part of the KNBR morning show with Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger for “The Rule Book” show Monday mornings at 9:30 during the NFL season.  Program director Lee Hammer states, “We’re excited to have Mike join the KNBR family.  In every NFL game, we see calls that leave fans in total disbelief.  As the former head of officiating for the NFL, Mike will not only explain the rule, but try to explain why the official made the call.  Mike no longer works for the league, so he’ll be critical when necessary and have the freedom to say when the officials clearly missed the call.”  With the possibility of the league’s officials sitting out due to a contract dispute with the league and replacement officials working games, this could be a huge programming coup on Monday mornings for KNBR!

Mancow Chicago Video Simulcast a Done Deal.  The “Mancow Experience” will be seen by Chicagoans on WPWR-TV – channel 50 in Chicago – from 6:00 am to 8:00 am beginning this fall .  The Chicago Tribune reports what was teased earlier this summer is being confirmed by station management.  The other aspect of this news for Erich “Mancow” Muller is that his show will have a new physical home base as production of the TRN nationally syndicated radio program will move to WPWR’s North Michigan Avenue studios.  WPWR VP and general manager Mike Renda says, “This fall, Chicagoans will get a backstage pass into one of the most provocative radio programs in this market.  Viewers will have unlimited access into Mancow’s madness, with a live, unedited simulcast that will bring this dynamic voice to life.”  Mancow’s show is heard in the market on suburban WJJG.

New York’s WFAN Scores Eli Manning Appearances.  New York Football Giants flagship WFAN, New York signs Giants QB Eli Manning to a multi-year deal to have Manning join PM drive host Mike Francesa at 5:05 the day after every Giants game during the season and the post-season.  Vice president of programming for CBS Radio New York and WFAN operations manager Mark Chernoff says, “As the team’s flagship radio station, we’re proud to be the leading source of Giants news for football fans across the tri-state area.  Having Eli every week is guaranteed to give listeners the best commentary, insight and discussion with a perspective only he can offer on the New York Giants.  This will be appointment radio at its best.”

Salem Radio Network Gears Up for Convention Coverage.  Dallas-based Salem Radio Network is prepping to cover the Republican National Convention in Tampa beginning on Monday. SRN vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup reports a full battery of SRN news staffers — including White House correspondent Greg Clugston and SRN U.S. Senate correspondent Linda Kenyon — will join SRN talk hosts Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and others at the network’s broadcast headquarters in the Tampa Bay Times Forum.  Tradup tells TALKERS magazine, “We’ll either present superb Republican Convention coverage or the most over-staffed hurricane coverage in the history of 21st century radio…or both!”  Tradup states the organization will also cover the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte the following week, and will include what it calls a “truth squad” led by former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett who hosts SRN’s “Morning in America” program.

NRG Media’s “The Zone” Omaha Sports Outlet Launches “Fully Interactive” Post-Game Show.  Sports talk KOZN, Omaha announces the debut of the “Big Red Over-Reaction” post-game show that will immediately follow Nebraska Cornhuskers football games this season.  The station is touting the program as  “fully interactive” saying it “will immediately feature fan reaction via on-air and digital and social media, providing instant vent-and-release by Cornhusker fans nationwide via over-the-air call-in, Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, Huskermax.com and e-mails.”  The show will feature The Zone’s legendary former Husker National Champion Blackshirt Jason Peter.  Peter will be joined by “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” co-hosts John Bishop and Mike’l Severe and Jason’s morning show co-host Gary Sharp of “Sharp & Peter in the Morning.”  NRG Media Omaha general manger Andy Ruback says, “We have the talent and the capability to deliver a program that the market has never seen before.  Our personalities have a combined total of nearly 100 years of experience with Nebraska football and we believe that fans will appreciate our unique approach to post-game programming that they have never had before.”

Yahoo! Sports Radio Names Doug Russell and Mark Carman PM Drive Hosts.  The slot opened up when Yahoo! host Travis Rodgers was moved to the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET slot on the network.  Doug Russell moves up from the network’s evening program and Mark Carman has worked at Houston Texans flagship KILT, Houston as well as WGN, Chicago.

Organization Files Petitions with FCC to Deny Renewal of Fox-Owned TV Stations.  The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is asking the FCC to deny renewal of the broadcast licenses of three Fox TV stations – two in Washington, DC and one in Baltimore – because of News Corp.’s involvement in hacking scandals in England, according to The Hill.  TV licenses, like radio broadcast licenses, come up for renewal every eight years and the three stations in question applied for renewal in June.  Their licenses are set to expire in October.  According to the story, CREW asked the commission to pull the licenses to all 27 Fox-owned TV stations back in May – citing the clause in FCC regulations that it only grants licenses to those of “good character” – but the FCC has taken no action.  The commission rarely takes action in cases of ethics complaints and it is not expected to act on CREW’s complaint.

Presidential Campaign, Todd Akins Campaign Status, Prince Harry Naked Partying Incident, Merkel-Euro Zone Tensions, and Hurricane Threatens Tampa GOP Convention Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/22).  The U.S. presidential campaign; Missouri Rep. Todd Akins campaign status in wake of “legitimate rape” comment; the fallout over Prince Harry’s naked partying in Las Vegas; German chancellor Angela Merkel’s difficult decision regarding Greece and the future of the euro zone; and the hurricane threat to next week’s GOP convention in Tampa were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

| August 21, 2012

Gow Communications to Pay $5.17 Million for KFNC, Houston.  The sale of sports talk outlet KFNC, Houston to Gow and Educational Media Foundation that was announced in the spring is coming close to the finish line as David Gow and company should begin LMAing the station Cumulus put into bankruptcy protection as early as September 1.  The station – positioned as ESPN 97.7 – is expected to continue to broadcast ESPN programming at least for a while.  Gow also operates crosstown sports talk KGOW and Yahoo! Sports Radio and there have been some changes there with Travis Rodgers moving to the early afternoon slot on both KGOW and the national network.  KGOW is preparing to debut Adam Clanton and John Wessling in the afternoon drive slot, according to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.  Clanton currently works for KPRC-TV but will wrap up his role with the station this weekend.  As for the Yahoo! Sports Radio network, a new PM drive show is being developed and will be announced soon.  The network’s Craig Shemon returns to weekends from the midday slot.

Heidi and Frank Return to the Terrestrial Airwaves in Los Angeles.  Cumulus Media names Heidi Hamilton and Frank Kramer the new morning show on KLOS, Los Angeles, taking over for Mark & Brian beginning September 4.  Brian Phelps surprised the industry last week announcing he would also be leaving the Cumulus classic rocker at the same time Mark Thompson would, although Thompson made his decision to retire public earlier this summer.  Cumulus COO John Dickey told TALKERS over the weekend that Brian Phelps was “part of a large consideration pool” of candidates for the new morning program.  In announcing “The Heidi and Frank Show,” Dickey states, “After a long and thoughtful search which overwhelmed us with great, established talent and new talent waiting to be discovered both in and out of radio, I couldn’t be more pleased with the selection of ‘The Heidi and Frank Show’ to continue on the tradition that Mark and Brian set in place with 25 years of Hall of Fame radio.”  Hamilton and Kramer have been producing an internet radio show since CBS Radio shut down hot talk KLSX, Los Angeles in a format flip.  The Frosty, Heidi and Frank program (with Frosty Stillwell) aired there successfully for years.  They also worked at KABC after the demise of KLSX.  Prior to the KLSX era Hamilton and Kramer hosted the morning show at crosstown Hot AC KYSR.   On the new gig, Heidi Hamilton states, “KLOS is rock.  KLOS is the definitive iconic rock radio station in the world.  It’s one of those stations that evokes a feel good emotion while you’re driving in your car.  I’m beyond honored that Frank Kramer and I have been invited to become a part of something so legendary!  The ‘Heidi and Frank Show’ fans are second to NONE and I know they will be with us on this long fun ride together.”  Frank Kramer comments, “If it would have been any other station than KLOS, I would have said no.  We have a huge following across the world and only a station as large and iconic as KLOS could lure us back to radio.  To be given this opportunity is an honor and a privilege.  With the continued support from my partner, Heidi Hamilton, and the fans that never left us, and the fans waiting for us to return, the next 25 years are going to be one hell of a ride.”

The Battle for Control over Sirius XM Continues and the Momentum Seems to be Shifting in Favor of John Malone’s Liberty Media.  Yes, what seemed like an odd story just a matter of months ago has developed into a high stakes big business drama.  John Malone and Liberty Media, the company that rescued the merged satellite radio company from burning up in the atmosphere back in 2009 by gobbling up 40% ownership at what has turned out to be a super good deal for them has asked the FCC for approval to take outright control of Sirius XM Radio, noting it plans to raise its stake in the satellite radio company above 50%. The request follows disclosure earlier this week that Liberty, SiriusXM’s largest shareholder, was inching up its collection of shares in Sirius from approximately 46.2% to an aggressively postured 48%.  In last week’s filing, Liberty said it will “have purchased sufficient shares of Sirius’s common stock and will convert its preferred shares such that the transfer of control will be completed within 60 days of commission consent.”  Raising its stake above 50% and being granted FCC approval to take absolute control opens the way for Liberty to replace Sirius management and spin its Sirius stake off to Liberty shareholders. But would replacing Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin be a wise move?  Probably not.  Although coldly brash and hard-nosed as they come, Karmazin is an extremely effective radio broadcast executive and business strategist who has done a world class job of getting Sirius XM to its present state of health.  Reports from inside Liberty indicate that John Malone recognizes that and is giving “Mel” wiggle room to back pedal off his earlier blurts that he wouldn’t work for anyone else.  There is a huge lesson here for wannabe broadcast industry moguls (and there sure are a lot of them out there):  When you turn to venture capitalists and outside big money investors to save your ass, they will likely wind up owning it.

In Search of the Effective Commercial.  There’s a trend away from humorous commercials in radio, according to H-and-H Communications president Al Herskovitz.  Research indicates Madison Avenue is questioning the effectiveness of funny ads and, as it applies to talk radio advertising, Herskovitz writes that the “recognizable spokesperson” – read, the talk show host – is much more effective.  But there are still problems there that need to be solved.  Read Al Herskovitz’s piece here.

Courtside Entertainment’s “Loveline” Clears Tampa Market.  Cox Media’s FM hot talker WHPT, Tampa – The Bone – adds Courtside Entertainment Group’s “Loveline” featuring Dr. Drew Pinsky, Mike Catherwood and Simone Bienne for the 1:00 am to 3:00 am slot.  “Loveline” becomes part of Cox’s young male-targeted talk outlet that features Bubba the Love Sponge in morning drive and Cowhead in PM drive.

Odds & Sods.  Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington hosts a special “school” edition of its “Ask the…” program today at 10:00 am.  Mark Seagraves serves as moderator for the commercial-free hour featuring a Q&A session with superintendents and school board officials from Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Fairfax County and the District of Columbia…..Entercom’s New England sports talk juggernaut WEEI produces the 11th Annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon beginning today and running through tomorrow.  The fundraising extravaganza takes place live from Fenway Park from 6:00 am to 12:00 midnight both days.  Last year the event raised more than $3.3 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute…..Nationally syndicated radio host Phil Grande of the “Phil’s Gang” program will broadcast his show live from the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week with broadcasts starting at 3:00 pm ET.  Grande will have special guests Donald Trump, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Sarasota Republican Chairman Joe Gruters plus many other guests.  In addition, he will have up to the minute news, updates and of course his own commentary.  The 2012 Republican National Convention is being held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum August 27-30, 2012.

CBS Radio News Announces Convention Coverage.  Dial Global and CBS Radio News will deliver coverage from the two national conventions – the Republican National Convention in Tampa August 27 through 30 and the Democratic National Convention September 4 through 6.  Coverage plans include anchored coverage, updates, special reports, special features, and one-on-one interviews with correspondents, pundits and political experts.  CBS Radio News states it will “provide expert reporting and analysis, featuring an experienced lineup of respected and award-winning correspondents and commentators, including Howard Arenstein, Pam Coulter, Peter King, Dan Raviv, Peter Maer, Andrew Mollenbeck, Brian Montopoli and Professors Dotty Lynch and Leonard Steinhorn.


Los Angeles Radio Personality Paul Crosswhite Passes Away.
  Southern California newsman and DJ Paul Crosswhite died on August 17 after a long illness.  Crosswhite served as a news person at both KFI and KNX-FM during his career.  He also was an evening and morning drive host at KTWV, Los Angeles – The Wave – for 10 years.  According to LARadio.com’s Don Barrett, “Crosswhite did news during most of his tenure in Southern California radio and has received Golden Mike Awards for documentary, feature and best newscast.  He did news during the glory years of KNX-FM.  During the Gulf War, he won the Associated Press Award for best newscast.  When he moved to “the Wave,” he gave up news to become a DJ, originally in the evenings and, later, mornings after the female morning drive team collapsed.”

Romney-Ryan Team, Obama Medicare Cuts, Facebook Stock Plummets and Syria Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/20).  The Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket hitting the campaign trail full-swing; President Obama’s cuts to Medicare; the sagging stock price of Facebook; and the ongoing violence in Syria were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

| August 16, 2012

Sirius XM Stock Soaring While John Malone’s Liberty Media Inches Toward Control.  Yesterday’s $2.55 closing figure was satcaster Sirius XM’s (“SIRI”) best showing in more than four years.  That’s the good news for CEO Mel Karmazin and his crew.  The worrisome news, however, is the undeniable fact that John Malone’s Liberty Media – the company that rescued Sirius XM in 2009 by investing in 40% of the company at a bargain price – is closing in on acquiring the needed 50.1% ownership that would give it a controlling interest.  Subsequent to the 2009 bail out, Liberty has been buying Sirius XM stock on the open market recently purchasing about 90 million shares at around $2.50 each. According to TALKERS sister trade publication Radio-Info, those transactions plus a “forward sale” agreement would bring Liberty’s interest to about 48% creating a behind the scenes radio reality show nail-biter.

Rick Roberts Lands at America’s Radio News Network. Veteran radio talk show host Rick Roberts has been named news co-anchor at America’s Radio News Network.  Roberts, also a lawyer, has been heard in his 20 year career on such heritage outlets as KOA, Denver; KCMO, Kansas City; KRLD, Dallas; KOGO and most recently KFMB in San Diego. His is known for a distinctive style of getting the story “behind the story.”  Commenting on how pleased he is to be working with ARNN CEO Mark Masters, Roberts tells TALKERS, “He is a man of true vision.  Masters’ groundbreaking concept of journalism without agenda is needed in America now more than ever.” America’s Radio News Network, which offers 15 hours of syndicated long-form programming per week is now heard nationally on over 340 affiliates taking one or more of its five three-hour news segments.

Sandusky Scandal Impacts Pennsylvania Radio Station.  Political scandal and questionable talk host remarks are not the only form of controversy that impacts spoken word radio’s ability to sell advertising and maintain a balanced competitive image.  According to an Associated Press  report, after 20 years of faithfully broadcasting Penn State football games to its loyal fandom, talker WAEB, Allentown, Pennsylvania finds itself at a crossroads between airing the school’s upcoming season (which kicks off September 1 against Ohio University) and pleasing the overwhelmingly large percentage of listeners who have let the station know they want to hear the games — while dealing with timid sponsors who are less enthusiastic about being associated with the scandal.  Station management states they need about 10 sponsors to fund a full season of Penn State football.  Prior to the Jerry Sandusky scandal it was always an instant sellout.  So far they only have four.

Odds & Sods.  The Minnestota Twins will be moving their live broadcasts from Hubbard-owned 1500ESPN, Minneapolis at the end of the season and begin airing games on KTWN 96.3FM beginning with the 2013 season.  Their new radio home is owned by the Pohlad family – same folks who own the team.  This is the first time the Twins games will be aired exclusively on FM….None other than President Obama was interviewed on sports talker KXNO, Des Moines to talk sports but Politico reports he snuck in a bit of politics when asked how playing sports was similar to being president stating, “It also turns out that political reporters are a lot like sports reporters.  They’ve all got opinions, even if they didn’t play.”….Premiere Networks has launched a new satellite radio talk show featuring lifestyle expert and interior designer Moll Anderson heard Saturdays 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET on Sirius XM’s “Talk Radio” XM channel 168…Sports talker WFAN, New York’s annual talent search “Fantasy Phenom 111 Challenge”  has narrowed its field to five finalists who will vie for the Grand Prize of a chance to host a once a week air shift on the legendary station for one year.  The finals will take place on Friday, August 24 at Bar A in Lake Como, New Jersey.  All finalists are New York Metropolitan area locals and were chosen from thousands of fans and listeners who showed up at auditions held at area Simon malls in July as well as online entries.

Obama Leaks, Family Research Council Shooting, Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/15).  The ex-Navy SEALS video critical of President Obama for allegedly allowing dangerous leaks involving the shooting of Osama bin Laden and the shooting of a guard at the Washington, DC headquarters of the conservative Family Research Council, followed by the devastating effects of the drought brought on by the heat wave and violence in Syria were the most talked about topics on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing TALKERS research.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

| August 8, 2012

SiriusXM Reports Revenue Up 13% in Q2; Net Subscribers Up 38%.  The satellite radio company announced second quarter numbers yesterday and reports revenue for that period was $838 million – up 13% over the same period in 2011.  Subscriber growth continues this year as the satcaster saw 463,000 self-pay net adds with the total adds for the year at around 1 million.  As for the status between Liberty Media and Sirius – or more specifically, Mel Karmazin whose contract expires in December?  Karmazin says his duty is clear, “I can assure you that our board and I are interested in trying to accomplish whatever Liberty wants to do as long as it’s in all of our shareholders’ best interests and that there is no issue involving Mel that has anything to do with the current conversations with Liberty at all.  Regarding my contract, it doesn’t expire until the end of the year, and prior to the Q3 earnings call, prior to our next call I think the board and I will deal with it.”  Liberty Media has been acquiring SiriusXM stock and holds about 46% of the shares.  It has twice asked the FCC to declare it in “de facto control” of the company but the FCC has balked.

Saga Communications Has Stable Q2.  Net operating revenue was up 0.7% for Saga Communications and station operating expense decreased 4.6% compared to the same period last year to $22 million.  On the radio side, operating income from continuing operations for the second quarter of 2012 was $9.56 million – up from the $8.60 million reported for the same period in 2011.

Big Talent Shuffle in Boston; Local Hosts Out at Clear Channel News/Talker.  There’s been a major re-alignment of syndicated talent in Boston and two local talk hosts – Jeff Katz and Jay Severin – are dropped from the program schedule at Clear Channel’s Talk 1200 (WXKS-AM).  Almost 2 and ½ years ago, Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh left Entercom’s WRKO, Boston – one of his first major market affiliates after going into syndication from home base WABC, New York – to become the anchor of Clear Channel’s crosstown WXKS-AM – Talk 1200.  Now, on August 21, Limbaugh returns to WRKO where management has remade the program schedule with tweaks that include current midday talk host Michele McPhee moving to AM drive alongside Todd Feinburg; current mid-morning host Barry Armstrong hosting “The Financial Exchange” from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and fill-in host and morning show contributor Jeff Kuhner now host of the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon program, “The Kuhner Report.”  Additionally, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory returns to WRKO in the 1:00 am to 5:00 am slot from CC’s crosstown WXKS-AM.  At Talk 1200, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity now airs live in PM drive where Jay Severin was and Premiere’s “America Now with Andy Dean” is heard in AM drive in place of Jeff Katz.  Regarding the elimination of the Katz and Severin shows, Clear Channel Boston’s Joe Mazzei tells TALKERS, “Unfortunately, these are never easy decisions to make.  We appreciate their commitment and service to the station/company over the years, and we wish them all the best.”  Mazzei would not comment specifically on the status of Talk 1200 program director Paula O’Connor citing privacy issues but it appears her job has also been eliminated.  Katz tells TALKERS he can be reached at jeffkatzshow@aol.com.

Prime Time Continues to Be Trouble for CNN.  Though CNN remains a top-of-mind brand for Americans seeking breaking news coverage, its prime time talk-oriented programming is suffering persistent ratings problems.  Deadline Hollywood’s Dominic Patten writes that the cable news/talk network hit a 20-year low in the Nielsen ratings during the week of July 30 – August 5.  “‘Piers Morgan Tonight’ at 9:00 pm averaged 314,000 viewers overall, with a mere 81,000 in the 25-54 demo, according to Nielsen.  That average is the lowest week Morgan has had since he took over Larry King’s spot on January 17, 2011.  During the same time slot over on Fox News, Sean Hannity averaged 1,749,000 total viewers and 324,000 in the 25-54 demo.  On MSNBC, the Rachel Maddow show averaged 933,000 total viewers that week, with 271,000 in the key demo.”  Patten goes on to note, “‘Anderson Cooper 360’ at 8:00 pm averaged 349,000 viewers for the week, also with 81,000 in the demo.  Cooper’s 10:00 pm repeat had 97,000 among the 25-54 demo, the sixth lowest the network has had in two decades, but a slight 259,000 average total viewers for the week.  That averaged total viewership was the lowest 10:00 pm weekday hour CNN has had in 20 years.”

ESPN New York 98.7 Adds Bill Parcells Appearance to Michael Kay Show.  Legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells will make a weekly appearance on WEPN, New York’s Michael Kay show every Thursday at 4:00 pm beginning September 6.  The station is also expanding the role of Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath whose “Joe Namath Report” fills a whole hour of the Michael Kay show on Mondays at 6:00 pm during the season.  New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will appear every Monday at 5:15 exclusively on Kay’s program as well.  WEPN VP/GM Dave Roberts says, “We’re focused on serving New York sports fans with the best in news and analysis.  The opportunity to work with someone like Bill Parcells allows us to deliver unique insight to our listeners.  We’re also thrilled to bring football to fans on the FM dial.  We anticipate a very exciting fall between our extensive list of weekly contributors and our complete coverage of both the Jets and Giants.”

Fox Sports Daybreak at Dolphins Camp.  “Fox Sports Daybreak” co-hosts Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins are pictured here interviewing Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long at Dolphins Training camp in Davie, Florida.  HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series is following the Dolphins this season and invited the Fox Sports Radio morning program to take part in the camp.  During the two-day broadcast, Furman and Hawkins brought listeners an up-close look at NFL training camps, and talked to Long, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin and NFL super-agent Drew Rosenhaus.

WRKO Tea Party.  Some of the air staff of the new lineup at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston pose for a photo during a remote broadcast of the Howie Carr show from the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.  It was at Monday’s remote broadcast that the station announced its new program schedule, including the return of Rush Limbaugh to the station.  Pictured here are (from l-r): PM drive host Howie Carr; AM drive co-hosts Michele McPhee and Todd Feinburg; morning show producer Bill Cooksey; and Howie Carr show producer Nancy Shack.

 

Magic Matt Alan’s and Shadoe Stevens’ OutLaw Radio Enters Partnership with RadioLoyalty.  Radio legends Magic Matt Alan and Shadoe Stevens are partnering with internet radio firm RadioLoyalty to distribute their “OutLaw Radio” 24–hour radio channel.  The programming is billed as “a non-stop, high-energy party featuring celebrity and would-be celebrity guests gathered together by radio legends Magic Matt Alan and Shadoe Stevens.  It’s talk radio and irreverent humor broadcast from an 1876 Virginia City, Nevada-style Bar in the Hills of Encino, California.”  The RadioLoyalty website says, “The network is a spin-off of the original Outlaw Radio ‘show’ — on the air non-stop for more than a decade – and is the brainchild of Magic Matt Alan.  Alan was joined three years ago by radio legend Shadoe Stevens, who loved the show and helped expand the brand. He built the programming into a seven day a week, 24 hour radio channel…For more than 10 years, Matt and a roving cast of characters – The Demons of Decadence – have laughed their way through and around some of the most interesting celebrities on the planet with the slogan: ‘We smoke, we drink, we interrupt.’”  The programming can be found at RadioLoyalty.com beginning August 11.

Fleetwood Mac Co-Producer Ken Caillat Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Iconic Album with Book and Press Tour.  The co-producer of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album is available for radio interviews.  Ken Caillat was co-producer for the record that went on to become the third best-selling album of all time and tells all the stories of the making of the record in his new book, Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album (Wiley 2012).  The publisher states, “Ken recalls experiences from an era of excess, that include the endless partying, relationship dramas and creative struggles that ensued, while writing and recording these classic tracks, “You Make Loving Fun,” “Don’t Stop,” “Go Your Own Way,” “The Chain,” among others.”  Caillat is available for interviews.  Contact Samantha Schipman at Howard Rosen Promotion at 704-249-3951.

Presidential Election, Wisconsin Sikh Shooting Aftermath, London Olympics, and Mars Landing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/7).  The campaign for president in the 2012 elections; the aftermath of the deadly shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; the 2012 London Olympics; and the landing of the rover Curiosity on Mars were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Friday, June 1, 2012

| June 1, 2012

Finebaum Case Far from Settled Says Cumulus. Contrary to the story published here earlier today (6/1), there is no settlement on the horizon for Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and Cumulus Media in their contract dispute. Cumulus COO John Dickey tells TALKERS the reported agreement that would end the lawsuits each side is filing against other and allow Finebaum to work out his contract at Cumulus’ sports talk WJOX-FM, Birmingham that ends in January of 2013 and then go to work at Cox Media’s crosstown sports WZNN-FM if he chooses are categorically untrue. “He will never work for Cox in Birmingham,” Dickey says. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance had asked the two sides to resume negotiations to settle the contract dispute and report to the court by May 30.

Battle for Control of SiriusXM Heating Up.  John Malone‘s Liberty Media is again filing a request with the FCC to give it “de facto” control of satellite broadcaster SiriusXM. The Commission denied its first attempt back on May 4 but Liberty has since acquired another 6-plus percent of the company’s stock, pushing its total above 46%. It’s petition for reconsideration with the FCC reportedly contains additional information to the Commission. In a filing with the SEC, SiriusXM states, “We’ve been engaged in discussions with Liberty Media to explore possible transactions with respect to its ownership interest in Sirius, although we have not reached agreement with respect to a specific transaction that would be mutually beneficial to both our common and preferred stockholders. There is no assurance that these discussions will result in any specific action or transaction. We do not expect to disclose developments with respect to these discussions.”

Scott Hennen Turns to Listeners for Funding for WZFG, Fargo. Talk show host and businessman Scott Hennen is exploring alternative sources for funding his purchase of The Flag 1100 (WZFG) in the Fargo market. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead‘s Marino Eccher reports Hennen has created a program whereby fans become “founding fathers” and buy into one of four clubs – Faith, Family, Freedom, and Free Enterprise – for $1,000 (each club limited to 400 members). He’s seeking a total of 1,600 such “founders” to come up with $1.6 million. Hennen tells the paper he has traditional funding sources but decided to seek less traditional forms of funding after sensing his listeners “desire to be part of something bigger.” These fans will not be shareholders or part owners but instead will have input on the station’s weekend programming, behind-the-scenes updates and $1,000 advertising credit. Hennen tells Eccher Tea Party activist Mark Skogerboe will serve as director of the clubs and be an on-air contributor.

NEW MEDIA SEMINAR/NYC Sold Out but Agenda Keeps Growing.  Thursday, June 7 is going to be a big day for talk radio in the Big Apple as some 400 professionals from all aspects of the business converge on the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side for a one-day conference containing the content mass of a two- or three-day convention.  “Although we have reached capacity in terms of registration,” explains TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “doesn’t mean the agenda is not continuing to grow.”  Casey continues, “This conference has all the aspects of an old fashioned ‘happening’ with a program lineup that is so outstanding, it is attracting a growing number of industry leaders wanting to contribute as speakers and panelists.”  According to conference director Michael Harrison, “We attribute the positive response to this event not only its powerful and relevant agenda, but to the fact that it is so efficiently tuned to the times in terms of its affordable registration fee and compact time demands.  With another one set for Los Angeles in October, this June 7 event has the convenience of a regional conference while delivering the bang of a major national convention.”  Although space is limited for those who will participate in person, the content of this forthcoming NMS which will be video recorded from beginning to end will reach a far wider audience via TALKERS TV in the weeks and months following June 7.  For information call 413-565-5413.  To see the up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.

WEUS, Orlando to Be LMA’d with Intent to Purchase. Star Over Orlando‘s talk outlet WEUS, Orlando is entering into a deal with MultiCorp International to have the latter’s subsidiary – Rivalz Sports Group – operate the station as a sports talk outlet beginning on July 30 with the intent to buy the signal. MultiCorp intends to change the calls to WRSG and hopes to move the stations operations “within a restaurant facility” so diners can enjoy “a first-class restaurant/media experience.” The company states it hopes to expand this model to other markets.

Dr. Laura Launches Online Jewelry Business. SiriusXM talk show host and talk radio pioneer Dr. Laura Schlessinger unveils her “Dr. Laura Designs,” – an online boutique featuring her personally designed and handcrafted jewelry, glass and polymer clay art. The site offers ready-made items or people can commission custom made pieces. Dr. Laura initially began selling jewelry to assist the “Operation Family Fund,” a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families of those who are injured or killed while fighting the war on terrorism, and raised more than $1.5 million. Dr. Laura has had a passion for jewelry – making it and glass art that started when, during a particularly difficult time for her family, her then-little son suggested that a new hobby would be helpful. She states, “I never thought I had one ounce of artistic ability, and couldn’t think of what I could do.” After a listener suggested she visit a local bead fest, she says, “I walked by a table filled with Tibetan ornaments and my brain just exploded with creative images. I bought books on jewelry-making and purchased tools, wire, beads and stones and got started.” Dr. Laura’s program currently airs from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET on the Sirius Stars channel.

Dave Ramsey to Lead NAB-RAB Radio Show Super Session. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey will lead a Super Session at the September 19-21 Radio Show in Dallas being produced jointly by the NAB and RAB. The panel, titled “Succeeding in This Economic Environment,” taking place on Thursday, September 20 at 9:30 am and, as its title implies, will focus on steps radio station operators can take to achieve success in these tough economic times.

Odds ‘n’ Sods. The Society for Professional Journalism and the Radio Television Digital News Association announce registration is open for their September Excellence in Journalism Conference taking place the 20th through the 22nd in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The conference offers more than 50 professional development sessions…..Former college football coach Rick Neuheisel (UCLA, Washington and Colorado) joins SiriusXM‘s College Sports Nation channel where he’ll appear on the “College Football Playbook” show and co-host the daily “College Sports Today” show with Mark Packer…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment‘s WFLA, Tampa begins simulcasting on an FM translator at 105.9 licensed to West Tampa…..Las Vegas-based nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs has a small role in an upcoming Showtime reality program. She tells TALKERS, “It’s a one-time small part on  a Showtime reality show but it’s a start!” Wachs says it’s super secret and she can’t even tell us the name of the show, yet.

Stormy Times at Fairfax Media. American media companies are not the only ones dealing with difficult financial situations. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on one of Australia’s major talkback radio-formatted operators – Fairfax Media – as it deals with corporate power struggles and underperforming revenue. Read Smith’s entire piece here.

Rusty Among the Politichicks. That’s Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated talk show host Rusty Humphries on the set of the internet TV show “Politichicks.” Humphries appeared with co-hosts Dr. Gina Loudon, Ann-Marie Murrell, Sonnie Johnson, Morgan Brittany on the recent episode titled, “The Fairness Doctrine: There’s Nothing Fair,” to discuss the “current environment of talk radio as well as why conservative talk radio has become a focus of attack by the mainstream media and liberal politicians.  At the end of the segment, Rusty was formally honored with the title, “PolitiStud.” It’s obvious to see why.

2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 28 – June 1. The 2012 presidential contest was #1 on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the ninth week in a row. At #2 this week was the Syria massacre aftermath. Following at #3 was Iran’s nuclear ambitions and at #4 was the Euro zone crisis and the global financial markets’ activities. The Talkers TenTM is based on ongoing research from Talkers magazine and consists of the top stories and people discussed on America’s news/talk radio stations during the week. View this week’s entire chart here.

Crue Visits the Cannons. Motley Crue bassist and host of the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Sixx Sense” radio program, Nikki Sixx (r), is pictured here with Fox Sports Radio‘s “Loose Cannons” co-host Pat O’Brien (l). Fox Sports Radio and Los Angeles Dodgers flagship AM 570 Fox Sports LA (KLAC) invited Sixx to throw out the first pitch at a recent Dodgers game. Prior to the first pitch and Sixx’s appearance on the “Loose Cannons” nationally syndicated program, Fox Sports Radio offered listeners the chance to win travel accommodations and tickets to a stop on this summer’s Motley Crue/KISS tour.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

| May 9, 2012

Boomer Esiason to be Honored at New Media Seminar.  WFAN, New York morning co-host and football legend Boomer Esiason has been named the 2012 recipient of the Sharon L. Harrison Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service by a Radio Talk Show Host.  Esiason (pictured here with son Gunnar) will be presented the award and speak at the New Media Seminar in New York City on June 7 during the event’s Freedom of Speech Luncheon.  Esiason was inspired to begin the foundation when his son Gunnar was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in 1993.  It has proven to be extremely effective as a dynamic partnership of leaders in the medical and business communities joining with a committed core of volunteers to heighten awareness, education and the quality of life for those affected by cystic fibrosis, while providing financial support to research aimed at finding a cure.  Esiason says, “One of the first lessons I learned in youth football was that winning requires all of the individual athletes on a team to come together, to cooperate and to support each other.  It’s a lesson I think also applies to cystic fibrosis.  I am honored to be receiving this award.”  For more information about the Boomer Esiason Foundation click www.esiason.org.  Boomer Esiason is one of more than 50 talk media industry leaders scheduled to speak at the June 7 gathering.  The New Media Seminar is on the verge of a sellout.  For information about registering for this industry-only conference, please call 413-565-5413.

New York State Appellate Court Rules in Favor of Talk Host Bob Lonsberry.  The New York Law Journal reports the New York Appellate Division, Fourth Department has sided with WHAM, Rochester and WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse talk host Bob Lonsberry and employer Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in a case that boils down to First Amendment rights.  The case revolves around Lonsberry’s on-air conversation with the sister of John Gisel who was acquitted of murder after a shooting death in a hunting situation.  During the conversation, Lonsberry asked the woman how it felt to have a “cold blooded murderer” in the family and if he “put a notch in the stock of his gun after he kills people.”  The Gisel family sued for defamation but the court ruled Lonsberry’s comments were “obviously intended to be caustic and confrontational, rather than factual” and that his words were “non-actionable expressions of pure opinion.”  Gisel may have believed Lonsberry’s comments were made with malice, thus giving him a case.  And, though not all opinion is protected by the First Amendment, it was in this case.  Read TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman’s analysis of the decision here.

Rush Limbaugh Strikes Back with “Rush Babes for America” Campaign.  Premiere Networks talk star Rush Limbaugh is taking on the notion his program is anti-women – something he tells his listeners is implied by the National Organization for Women’s “Enough Rush” campaign – and opens a “Rush Babes for America” Facebook page.  During his program he told listeners, “What ‘Rush Babes for America’ is about is posting stories and ideas that happen here on the program…and inviting all of you to participate in conversations on Facebook with other women about what matters to you.  As a means of demonstrating just what a minority the National Organization for Women and its so-called affiliates really are.”  Last month, NOW announced its “Enough Rush” campaign to target the talk show host for removal from the air but, so far, there’s been no information released by NOW beyond the initial announcement.

Liberty Media Ups Ante in Bid for Control of SiriusXM.  Liberty Media chairman John Malone appears determined to take control of SiriusXM after being shot down by the FCC last week in his bid to get de facto control over the company with just 40% of the satcaster’s stock and five of the 13 seats on the board of directors.  Liberty is acquiring another 302 million shares of the stock for $602 million – that’s $2.15 per share – to hike its total ownership to 45.2% of SiriusXM’s stock.  Last week the FCC ruled that Liberty’s filing was incomplete.  Now, it appears Liberty is preparing for another crack at that FCC application for control.

Saga Communications Radio Revenue Up 3%.  The first quarter of 2012 was kind to Saga Communications which reports revenue for the radio and TV company was up 4.3% while radio alone was up 3% from the same period a year ago on revenue of $25.2 million.  Saga CEO Ed Christian spoke during yesterday’s conference call about his belief in the core aspect of being a radio and TV operator which he says is selling to local advertisers.

Clear Channel Breaks Up Sports Simulcast on WHTK-AM/FM, Rochester.  Sports talk has been simulcast on Clear Channel’s WHTK-AM/FM, Rochester since 2009 but now the company debuts a new oldies outlet on the FM side and leaves the sports to the AM band.

Compass Media Networks Announces 2012 College Football Schedule.  Compass Media Networks makes its 2012 college football schedule public.  Compass is presenting more than 16 college football games for the 2012 season beginning with Miami at Boston College on September 1, including heritage matchups such as Auburn vs Alabama and Wisconsin vs Ohio State and culminating in the Big Ten Championship game on December 1.  Compass Media CEO Peter Kosann states, “We are once again thrilled to offer our affiliates and partners access to some of the nation’s top match-ups.”  Dial Global is handling ad sales for Compass Media’s college football broadcasts.

Greeny Dances.  ESPN Radio and ESPN2 star Mike Greenberg is pictured here with professional dancer Anna Trebunskaya dancing to “Livin’ La Vida Loca” live on both the radio and cable TV simulcast.  Greenberg lost the “Sheets of Integrity” March Madness challenge to “Mike & Mike” partner Mike Golic and paid his gambling debt by donning the sequined outfit and taking to the dance floor.  Celebrity judges Jerry Rice and Hines Ward both gave Greenberg an 8 for his performance while Greenberg’s wife Stacy gave him a 9.

2012 Presidential Race, NC Gay Marriage Ban, Terror Plot Foiled, Dick Lugar Ousted in Primary and Euro Zone Anti-Austerity Backlash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/8).  The 2012 presidential race; the ban on gay marriage in North Carolina; the foiling of the al Qaeda plot to blow up U.S. Airliners; Republican Indiana Senator Dick Lugar loses his primary race; and Euro Zone countries fight back against anti-austerity measures were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Get Well, Art Voulo!  TALKERS sends get well wishes out to “radio’s best friend” Art Vuolo who’s in the hospital dealing with a case of cellulitis.  Art is pictured here modeling the latest in hospital johnny fashion while convalescing.  We’re noticing there is no table-top or portable radio (with ear buds) in the picture which forces us to ask if this is the real Art Vuolo.

Monday, May 7, 2012

| May 7, 2012

Merlin Media’s Philly FM Talker Debuts Today.  News/talk outlet WWIQ-FM, Philadelphia (licensed to Camden, New Jersey) debuts its morning show today co-hosted by market TV news personality Larry Mendte (pictured here).  Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning host (and Philly native) Al Gardner is co-hosting the program with Mendte.  Over the weekend Mendte posted a YouTube video promoting the new station being operated by the innovative Randy Michaels and his Merlin Media.  In it, Mendte asks Philadelphians to submit suggestions for the new station (ideas used could win the people who submit them Phillies tickets!).  He also suggests the current news outlets – other stations, the newspapers and TV are outdated and/or in trouble financially and he believes WWIQ-FM will give listeners what they need.  In the video, Mendte is clearly ribbing CBS Radio’s all-news KYW even though he doesn’t mention the company or station by name.  See Mendte’s video here.  WWIQ-FM has been stunting with wall-to-wall Sean Hannity for several weeks and today it’s believed the station will debut with the morning show, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity and Glenn BeckRush Limbaugh is expected to move over from WPHT soon.  Other programming has yet to be announced.

FCC Says “No Go” to Liberty Media’s SiriusXM Takeover Bid.  Liberty Media had petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM after supplying $530 million to the satcaster in 2009 to help it avoid bankruptcy.  But, as SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin said recently, “Forty percent is not the new 50 percent.”  Liberty Media owns 40% of SiriusXM as a result of the 2009 deal but the FCC denied its request saying that Liberty’s filing lacked details and rejected its claim for control.  During the recent SiriusXM Q1 conference call with analysts, Mel Karmazin stated the company’s relationship with Liberty was not “combative.”  Liberty Media has five of the 13 seats on the SiriusXM board of directors.

WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas Names Ben Ferguson Late Morning Host.  Cumulus Media’s WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas cut ties with market legend Mark Davis after the two sides were unable to agree on a new contract.  Now, Memphis-based talk host Ben Ferguson is named permanent host of the 9:00 am to 11:00 am program.  Ferguson had been filling in during the time slot since Davis left the air.  He hosts the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm program at Cumulus Media’s WKIM-FM, Memphis and will continue to host that show as well.  Additionally, Ferguson is the host of his own nationally syndicated weekend program that is heard on both WKIM-FM and WBAP-AM/FM.  Ben Ferguson was the first recipient of the Young American Broadcasters‘ scholarship award given at the TALKERS New Media Seminar several years ago.  Ferguson won the award while still in college and, due in part to winning the award, fulfilled his dream of becoming a working radio talk show host.

St. Louis Personality John Carney Joins News/Talk KTRS for Nights.  Gateway City radio personality John Carney – son of the late KMOX, St. Louis legend Jack Carney – joins CH Holdings’ news/talk KTRS to host the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight program beginning June 4.  Carney most recently was a jock at CBS Radio’s crosstown classic hits KEZK-FM – Fresh 102.5 – until he exited that station in April.  He also worked at KMOX for 11 years prior to KEZK-FM.  Carney’s addition to KTRS comes as the station shuffles its programming.  Chicago-based talk host Steve Cochran had been hosting two programs on KTRS – 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm – in addition to his afternoon drive show at WIND, Chicago.  Cochran will continue to host the late morning show.  John Hadley’s sports talk show slides down to the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot and Martin Kilcoyne takes over the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show formerly hosted by JC Corcoran.

KTAR-FM, Phoenix and News Director Part Company.  Bonneville International and news director Adam Thomas part ways after less than a year together.  Thomas joined KTAR-FM in June of 2011 – Thomas moving west from Minneapolis where he’s worked at CBS Radio’s WCCO.  Thomas had also worked for Bonneville at KSL, Salt Lake City prior to joining WCCO.  Details on Thomas’ exit from KTAR-FM are few but it appears there’s a news director position to be filled in Phoenix.

WTDY, Madison Promotes Amy Barrilleaux.  Mid-West Family Stations announces WTDY-AM/FM, Madison afternoon anchor and “Everything@Five” host Amy Barrilleaux is promoted to news director for the station.  WTDY-AM/FM program director Rex Charger says, “I am pleased to announce Amy Barrilleaux as WTDY news director.  Amy has been instrumental in helping grow our news product and brand and I look forward to her continued leadership in the newsroom.  Amy will continue to anchor afternoon newscasts and host ‘Everything@Five.’”

Media Personality Jack Rice Hosts Weekend Talk Program in Twin Cities.  Talk media personality Jack Rice – who left the daily talk radio business more than two years ago – returns to a regular talk program with his Sunday morning show on KTNF, Minneapolis airing from 7:00 am to 9:00 am.  Jack Rice is a former CIA agent, a practicing attorney in Minneapolis and is regularly seen on such news/talk media outlets as MSNBC, CNN and Al Jazeera offering expert analysis on issues, especially those surrounding foreign intelligence and terrorism.  He previously hosted daily talk shows on WCCO, Minneapolis and KOGO, San Diego.  His investigative style of talk radio, his travels to the world’s hot spots and willingness to put himself in harm’s way to get the story earned him the Freedom of Speech Award from TALKERS magazine in 2009.  Of his new program, Rice states, “I’m very excited to be back on the air on a regular basis.  This business gets in your blood and once you’re in, you’re in.  And while I recognize the realities of the business, nothing allows for a deep connection with an audience like radio.”  Rice tells TALKERS he is exploring the possibility of developing a national program dedicated to international events including terrorism, the economic collapse in Europe, the Chinese economic juggernaut, the drug wars in Mexico and more.  He says his experience as a former CIA officer and international journalist give him a unique experience and take on such events.

Dave Ramsey Live in Grand Rapids.  Nationally syndicated personal finance talk sensation Dave Ramsey filled the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Saturday, May 5 for his “Total Money Makeover Live” event there – more than 8,000 fans attended.  Ramsey is heard on news/talk WOOD-AM/FM and Clear Channel Grand Rapids market manager Tim Feagan says, “Having another sellout with Dave is the only way I know of for a news/talk station to touch thousands of our core listeners.  Music stations can sometimes do it by owning a concert, but when it comes to the talk format Dave is it!”  Pictured here during Ramsey’s visit to Grand Rapids are (from l-r): Feagan, Ramsey, WOOD general sales manager Henry Capogna, and WOOD program director Phil Tower.

Monday, April 2, 2012

| April 2, 2012

Programmer Paul Duckworth Returns to Seattle to Lead Fisher’s KOMO.  News/talk programming pro Paul Duckworth returns to the Emerald City, where he formerly led the programming department at Fisher Communications’ KOMO and KVI, to once again head up news radio KOMO.  He left Seattle in 2002 and programmed several other stations including KLIF, Dallas and WMAL, Washington, DC.  He begins his duties at KOMO on April 16 at the station that features morning and afternoon news blocks surrounding local talk hosts John Carlson in late mornings and Ken Schram in early afternoons.  Duckworth spent the last year in retirement in Florida.

Keith Olbermann Promises Legal Action as Tumultuous Term with Current TV Comes to an End.  Reports of mercurial news/talk TV personality Keith Olbermann’s contentious relationship with management at Al Gore-founded Current TV have been coming out for some time and, despite recent assurances via press releases that everything between the two sides is fine, Current TV has cut the cord and let Olbermann go, replacing him with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and his new show “Viewpoints.”  Current TV had hoped that Olbermann’s “Countdown” show – brought over after his departure from MSNBC – would be the anchor program around which the network could build, but after just nine months the relationship was too strained to continue.  Current TV released the following statement on Friday, March 30: “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet.  We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.  Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.”  Olbermann has fired back via Twitter and is promising legal action.  He states, in part: “I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better.  But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff.  Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract…In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out.  For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one.  That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.”

Rush Limbaugh Reports Audience Hikes.  During his nationally syndicated Premiere Networks show last week, Rush Limbaugh broke format briefly to talk about his ratings in the wake of the Sandra Fluke controversy.  He stated that he usually doesn’t talk about ratings but because of the high-profile assault on his program’s advertisers (and others’) he felt compelled to report ratings were up at all 600 of his affiliates.  The Daily Caller reports Limbaugh stated, “The simple answer is that on the range of all 600 radio stations, our ratings are up anywhere from 10% to 60%, depending on the station…And that’s as detailed as I’m going to get…What I mean by that is we could be up 33% on one station, 12% on another – 60% is the top that we’re up on another.  We’re up 50% in a number of places.”  The increased interest in Limbaugh’s program was predicted by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison as numerous consumer media outlets quoted TALKERS in covering the unfolding story.  Addressing the advertiser issue, Limbaugh also stated, “The advertisers who hung in here are going gangbusters, yes.  I mean, that’s the simple truth.  The only ones who got hurt are the ones who left.  And that’s its own tragedy because they left under false, trumped up, unreal pretenses.”

Another Casualty of the Clear Channel Cuts: Cincinnati Programmer Tony Bender.  Program director Tony Bender had been with the Cincinnati cluster of stations since it was owned by Great American Broadcasting in the late 1980s.  Until Friday he was serving as program director of talk WKRC and sports WCKY.  The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports other staffers let go in the latest round of cuts included promotions director Sherry Rowland, traffic reporter Brian Pitts and two other off-air employees.

Coming Tomorrow: The FCC and You – Part 2 - An Explanation of Obscenity.  Don’t miss the second in a series of exclusive TALKERS articles by legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman covering the crucial FCC regulatory information of which every license holder and radio station management employee must be aware.  Informal surveys of radio station managers indicate that an alarming number of them are dangerously under-informed about the FCC regulations that pertain to them and their stations.  TALKERS editors urge managers to take the time to read this free abridgement (of a forthcoming expanded e-book) and share it with their management teams.  Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon.  In tomorrow’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the FCC’s position on obscenity.

Battle for Control of SiriusXM Is Brewing.  Liberty Media Corp has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM, setting the stage for a battle between Liberty’s John Malone and SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin.  Malone’s Liberty Media came to the rescue of SiriusXM three years ago with a cash investment of $530 million when the satcaster needed it most.  Now, Liberty’s filing is being contested by SiriusXM as it asks the FCC to “dismiss or deny” the petition.  Liberty Media only owns 40% of the company and, though there is precedent for a minority shareholder taking control, it’s not common and many deal watchers are quick to doubt that the FCC will grant even “de facto” control to a minority shareholder.  Liberty is arguing that certain provisions of the Investment Agreement inked in 2009 have expired and should result in a takeover.  But again, numerous experts in the field of corporate takeovers are saying the Liberty FCC filing is unlikely to result in a control change.  Most say if Liberty wants control over SiriusXM it is going to have to acquire more shares the old-fashioned way: Buy them.

Cumulus Media Splits Simulcast of Sports WWLS, Oklahoma City; ESPN Radio Takes Over AM Side.  The “Sports Animal” radio network continues to be led by flagship WWLS-FM, Oklahoma City with programming sent to six affiliate stations in five Oklahoma markets, but the AM side of WWLS has split off to broadcast ESPN Radio’s programming lineup.  The Oklahoman reports the AM station will continue to air Oklahoma City Thunder play-by-play as well as Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State pre- and post-game programming.

Dan McNeil Set to Return to WSCR, Chicago After Month-long Absence.  It’s been a bit over a month since midday co-host Dan McNeil took time off from his program at CBS Radio’s sports talk WSCR, Chicago (co-hosted with Matt Spiegel) for unspecified health issues.  He recently announced on his Facebook page that he’s ready to return on April 9 and thanked family and friends for their support, assuring them he’s feeling better.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports that McNeil’s health issues were not disclosed but that colleagues have alluded to McNeil’s struggles with sobriety.