Tag: "Mercury Radio Arts"

Friday, September 1, 2017

| September 1, 2017

Glenn Beck Cuts Workforce at TheBlaze and Mercury Radio Arts.  According to a piece by Benjamin Mullin at Poynter.org, talk radio star Glenn Beck has cut the staff at his Mercury Radio Arts and six-year-old news and opinion digital platform TheBlaze by about 20% due to “structural challenges facing media companies today.”  In announcing the changes being made at his companies, Beck is quoted stating, “This year has been one of the hardest years of my life.  I’ve learned so much about myself, my friends and co-workers, and basic human nature.  I have also learned a lot about my business and what I believe it will take to succeed in tomorrow’s America.  The industrial revolution took 100 years to unfold; industry-altering change now occurs in days, not centuries.”  See the Poynter piece here.

Investigation of Former Financial Talk Show Host Dawn Bennett Turns Up Bizarre Finds.  Sadly, stories of financial experts who broker time on news/talk stations and end up being investigated by the authorities for wrongdoing are too common.  But the case of former financial talk host Dawn J. Bennett is more colorful than most.  Kyle Swenson details the investigation in The Washington PostHe writes that Bennett was being investigated for running a Ponzi scheme when FBI agents gained access to her Chevy Chase, Maryland home last month.  In it they discovered biographical information about SEC officials and a handwritten “Beef Tongue Shut Up Hoodoo Spell” designed to – with the help of an animal tongue – prevent SEC officials from providing information about her.  There were two freezers inside the home in which there were “dozens of sealed jars, many inked on the lids with the initials of SEC staff” for the purpose of silencing SEC investigators via magic.  Arrested on August 25, Bennett is being charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements in loan and credit applications.  She’s being accused of using her weekly radio show to raise money targeting “elderly and financially unsophisticated investors by materially misrepresenting the company’s profitability and by claiming the company had the resources to pay annual rates of return as high as 15 percent.”  Read the Post piece here.

KILT, Houston Sports Talk Host John Lopez Rescues Harvey Victims.  KILT, Houston sports talk personality John Lopez is featured in a piece in USA Today after he spent Tuesday afternoon on a 16-foot fishing boat rescuing people stranded by the floodwaters created by Hurricane Harvey.  Lopez told the paper, “These were regular people.  They never thought the water would get that high, so you get them out and they just hug your neck and you never see them again, but you feel good you did it.”  Read the story here.

TALKERS News Notes. There’s controversy in the sports talk radio world in Seattle after the sportswriters for The Seattle Times were banned from any further appearances on local radio or TV, effective September 5.  Why would that happen?  SeattleSportsNet.com reports that the edict comes directly from Times CEO and publisher Frank Blethen and revolves around controversies over sports arena projects in the city.  Blethen has backed one project and sports talk radio – primarily KJR-AM – has been critical of that project (and Blethens/The Times’ support).  Some seven Times writers are affected by this order.  Read more about it here…..In Chicago, WSCR sports talk personality Laurence Holmes is also signed up to host Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s game day coverage of Chicago Bears football, starring on the “Bears Pregame Live” and “Bears Postgame Live” programs.  Holmes will work with Bears greats Lance Briggs, Jim Miller, and Alex Brown on the shows…..ESPN Radio begins presentation of NFL and NCAA football games this season.  Pro football coverage starts on September 10 with a doubleheader – Eagles at Redskins followed by Colts at Rams.  College football play-by-play begins this Saturday (9/2) with #17 Florida vs #11 Michigan, immediately followed by #1 Alabama vs #3 Florida State…..SB Nation Radio is announcing that “The Sports Grind” – with host Calvin Casey and co-hosts Rudy J and Salami – launches on Tuesday (9/5) from flagship KTKR, San Antonio “Ticket 760.”

Pittsburgh’s Sheridan Broadcasting Shuts Down News and Sports Arm.  According to a piece in the Pittsburgh Courier, the Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation has let 10 staffers go with the closure of its news and sports service.  Rob Taylor Jr. writes in the paper that Sheridan COO and general counsel Ron Davenport Jr. said they weren’t able to generate the revenue they needed.  “It’s a little more difficult than selling cars or something.  It’s a unique skill set, so we’ve been searching for some time and we have someone who has been working on our behalf and he’s just been unsuccessful, unfortunately, and we’re not able to continue.”  Sheridan had been providing news and sports broadcasts to about 60 affiliate stations.  The company is continuing to operate the Sheridan Gospel Network.  Read the Courier story here.

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 28-September 1.  The devastation caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey and the political issues surrounding the disaster were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the Trump tax reform plan.  Coming in at #3 was President Trump’s plan to end the ‘Dreamer’ program, followed by the Trump-Russia investigation at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result on ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

Promoting Concert for America.  Pictured here in the studio at business talk WAFS, Atlanta “biz talk 1190 AM” is host Dana Barrett (second from left) and performers Hal Sparks (far left) and Seth Rudetsky (second from right).

Walter Sabo Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast.  Noted radio executive-turned-consultant-turned-talent Walter Sabo joins Michael Harrison as guest on this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series “Up Close and Far Out.”  In an amazing conversation that spans the depth and breadth of radio as both a business and pop culture institution, the two broadcasters engage in a free-wheeling conversation that explores Sabo’s recent transformation from a behind-the-scenes figure into an innovative radio personality named Walter Sterling.  The three-year-old Sunday late-night show hosted by Sterling, that eschews standard political fare in favor of the day-to-day topics of general life, has grown from a local WPHT, Philadelphia boutique item into a major Westwood One nationally syndicated feature, now clearing on major outlets such as: KMOX, St. Louis; WLS, Chicago; WMAL, Washington, DC; KDKA, Pittsburgh; KARM, Little Rock and many more.  This dialogue is a radio freak’s delight and should not be missed.  To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

 

 

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Louisville, Alpha Media flips hot AC WXMA “102.3 The Max” to adult hits using the JACK FM format.  Alpha Media VP of programming Ronnie Stanton comments, “What an exciting day for Alpha Media and the great city of Louisville.  ‘Jack’ will be a breath of fresh air both musically and in its fun attitude.”…..Programming pro John Richards is appointed brand manager at Midwest Communications-owned country outlet WDEZ-FM Wausau, Wisconsin.  He’ll also host the midday show.  Richards was most recently serving as operations manager for Instad Radio in the Yakima, Washington market…..Rob Creighton exits the Ramar-owned station group in Lubbock, Texas where he was morning show host on hot AC KLZK “107.7 YES FM” as well as OM for that station and sister classic hits KXTQ “Magic 106.5.”…..Another Alpha Media flip as sports talk is jettisoned from the simulcast of WRNN-AM/W288DK, Myrtle Beach for throwback hip hop and R&B oldies as “G 105.5.” Sister CHR WMYB “Energy 92.1” program director Zack Williams states, “We’re crazy excited to bring throwbacks to Myrtle Beach.  You can take your radio to the beach, cruise up and down Ocean Blvd and have a great time listening to the best throwback hip hop and R&B!”

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

| August 2, 2016

Rush Limbaugh and Premiere Networks Reach Agreement on Extension.  There was little doubt from most industry observers that talk radio superstar Rush Limbaugh and iHeartMedia’s Premiere Networks limbaughrushwould come to terms on an agreement to continue syndicating Limbaugh’s show.  Not surprisingly, today’s announcement from Premiere did not mention the terms of this new deal, but simply called it a “long-term, multi-platform agreement.”  Eight years ago, Limbaugh and Premiere announced a partnership agreement that was widely reported to have been worth $400 million.  The conventional wisdom is that changes in the radio industry and the backlash from the infamous “Sandra Fluke incident” have negatively affected Limbaugh’s ability to earn the type of ad dollars that would justify that kind of money this time around.  At the top of today’s program, however, Limbaugh told his listeners that the deal is for four years and he gets no regular salary but, presumably, a percentage of sales.  He said, “I have to make my numbers.”  In the press release, Premiere stated, “Ad revenue for ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ has also increased by 20% over last year, and the show continues to be the number one program in talk radio.”  Limbaugh celebrated his 28th anniversary in national syndication on Monday.  He said in the prepared statement, “After 28 fulfilling years, I seriously considered moving on to something else, but Rich [Bressler] and Bob [Pittman] were very persuasive.  I’m thrilled to be continuing.  And I really want to be on the air if the Russians find Hillary’s emails.”

Former Mercury Radio Arts and TheBlaze Chief Sued by Glenn Beck.  In a case filed in District Court of Dallas County, Texas on Friday (7/29), Glenn Beck is suing his former executive, Christopher Balfe, alleging among other things: Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Faithless Servant, Fraud, Breach of Contract, and more.  The suit mercuryradioarts logodoes not specify how much money Mercury Radio Arts is seeking from Balfe, but states it’s asking for actual, consequential and punitive damages; forfeiture of everything Balfe earned from Mercury since he first breached his duties, and more.  The lawsuit alleges that Balfe earned more than $13 million between 2009 and 2014 and calls it “a shockingly excessive amountbeckglenn that far exceeds appropriate compensation for companies of Mercury and TheBlaze’s size and financial performance.”  It also alleges that Balfe signed a lease for New York office space – the entire 12th floor of Five Bryant Park – for $2 million per year for 10 years that was “motivated by his own self-interest.”  The suit calls the $20 million liability an example of Balfe ignoring his duty to Mercury.  Beck comments on the case on TheBlaze’s balfechriswebsite, saying, “You have all heard me over the last couple of years describing how hard a time it has been.  Between being sick, turning over my company, etc…It culminates in a lawsuit that we filed Friday in Dallas between MRA and the former president.  I am embarrassed and saddened it has come to this.”  It’s difficult to read the suit and not come to the conclusion that Beck hired a man whom he considered a friend who was simply not qualified to serve in the positions in which he did.  Scribd has the complaint and you can read it here.

‘Bob & Tom Show’ Rounds Out Cast with Josh Arnold.  The nationally syndicated “Bob & Tom Show” adds comic Josh Arnold to the cast.  The Westwood One program features show co-founder Tom Griswold,arnoldjosh Chick McGee, Kristi Lee, and now St. Louis native Arnold.  The press release from Westwood One says Arnold “has established himself as one of the top nationally touring feature comedians in the country.  Arnold’s comedy has been heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and he’s provided material for Comedy Central’s ‘@Midnight’ and ‘The Burn.’”  Griswold says, “We are thrilled to have Josh join us each day…he is one of the funniest, most twisted people I know.”

Cumulus’ Gary Pizzati Announces His Retirement.  Longtime Cumulus Media senior vice president Gary Pizzati is retiring from the company and from radio broadcasting at the end of August.  Pizzati started his pizzatigarycareer as an air talent and programmer and then moved into sales and management.  He joined Cumulus in 1998 to manage the Augusta, Georgia cluster.  Pizzati says, “The past 30 years in radio and 18 with Cumulus have been extremely rewarding.  I truly love radio and all the amazing people who power this exciting industry.  It’s been a part of my life since my teens and has been a remarkable journey that started from my days on air.”  Pizzati rose to SVP in 2005 with responsibility for 27 markets, including two of the company’s largest.  Cumulus especially commends him for “turning around several major markets and recruiting some of the best talent into the company.”  President and CEO Mary Berner adds, “Known as a strong leader, teacher, and consummate radio guy, Gary’s contributions to Cumulus cannot be overstated.  He will be greatly missed by his Cumulus colleagues.”

harrisonUpCloseFarOutsmallThe Farmer That Roared: Doug Stephan is This Week’s Guest on ‘Up Close and Far Out.’  Radio talk show host Doug Stephan, whose daily generalist news/talk morning show is the third longest-running weekday syndicated program in the industry having launched in 1988 (behind Rush Limbaugh by a few months and “America in the Morning” by four years), is the guest on this week’s installment of the PodcastOne hit series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.”  Stephan discusses his dual career (and arduous schedule) as both a broadcaster and a dairy farmer.  In his role as host of the rapidlystephandoug growing weekend specialty show, “American Family Farmer” (almost 100 affiliates in less than a year), Stephan has stepped up to the plate as a powerful advocate of the beleaguered people who own and operate small farms in the US, that are slowly but systematically being put out of business by the combined interests of big business (“factory farms”) and big government.   He and Harrison also talk about the growing “locavore” movement that ties into this issue.  (A locavore is a person whose diet consists primarily of locally produced and sold food.)  To listen to this fascinating podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column of every page of Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.

nielsen logoNielsen Audio Releases First Round of July 2016 PPM Data.  The first of four rounds of July 2016 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey).  The June 2016 survey period covered June 16 through July 13.  You can find the complete 6+ ratings numbers from subscribing stations here.  Additionally, TALKERS/RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Twelve Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.

The Presidential Race/Khan Family Controversy, FBI Staffer Guilty of Selling Secrets to China, South China Sea Dispute, Black Lives Matter Movement, Miami Zika Outbreak, Rio Olympics Troubles, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/1).  The activities of  presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, including the public conflict with the Khan family; former FBI employee Joey Chun pleads guilty to being an agent of the Chinese government; the dispute over China’s claim to territory in the South China Sea; the state of the Black Lives Matter movement; the CDC’s warning about a Zika virus outbreak in an area near Miami; reports of poor conditions and lack of preparedness at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

talkersrumble16Talk Rumble Video Posted from TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations.  One of the highlights of the recent TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations convention – “The Talk Rumble” – is posted today (8/2) on Talkers.com.  The panel discussion was part of the 19th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention that took place May 20 on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.  Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and co-moderated by CBS News VP Harvey Nagler, participants include (in alphabetical order): Howie Carr, host, Howie Carr Radio Network; Brian Kilmeade, host Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel; Sid Rosenberg, host, WABC, New York; Dr. Daliah Wachs, host Genesis Communications Network; Lisa Wexler, host, WGCH, Greenwich, CT: Larry Young, host, WOLB, Baltimore; and John Ziegler, host Envision Networks. To view the Talk Rumble in its entirety, please click here.  Stay tuned to Talkers.com for more videos from TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations that will be posted in the days and weeks to come.

Odds & Sods.  WAXY, Miami “790 The Ticket” extends its partnership with the NBA’s Miami Heat to continue broadcasting play-by-play through 2021.  The Entercom sports talk station says Mike Inglis and John Crotty will continue to call the games.  Tommy Tighe will provide the pre-game, halftime and post-game reporting and Jonathan Zaslow, host of the station’s morning show, will continue as host of the pre- and post-game shows…..FOX Sports Radio personality Ben Maller will join the minor league baseball Bakersfield Blaze for a night of festivities on August 13 as the team takes on the Lake Elsinore Storm.  Maller says, “Having been a Dodgers fan my entire life, Bakersfield baseball is near and dear to my heart.  My firecracker staff is thrilled to be joining me for this occasion and I’m sure Sam Lynn Ballpark will welcome us with open arms.”

Analysis: More Hivio Highlights

| June 7, 2016

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

 

kinosianlgLOS ANGELES — The third and final installment of our recap of last week’s Hivio 2016 conference sums up three of the 17 sessions presented Thursday (6/2) and Friday (6/3) on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, literally steps away from the famous Comedy Store.  Most of the agenda featured one-on-one interviews conducted by event co-organizer Mark Ramsey, who declares, “Contests on radio are pathetic.” The “attraction to listen,” he notes, is “a one in a million chance to win something.” That incentive to listen, Ramsey stresses, “makes no sense” and the San Diego-based media advisor-strategist/research analyst seamlessly utilizes that statement to introduce Omaze co-founder/co-chief executive officer Ryan Cummins, who Ramsey comments has a “different – better – way [that] will change the way you view contesting.”

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Monday, February 1, 2016

| February 1, 2016

kitchinkraigKitchin Departs as The Blaze CEO. In a company-wide email, Kraig Kitchin describes the reason for his exit as chief executive officer of Glenn Beck’s The Blaze is owing to outside business obligations. He writes, “The Blaze deserves and needs an exclusively focused leader. That is something I cannot provide, given existing commitments I choose to honor.” The co-founder and former chieftheblaze logo operating officer of Premiere Radio Networks says he is not leaving The Blaze. “I will stay, working every day as the interim head of sales with a focus on finding the right person for that position, assisting in the transition, on advertiser growth, program development, and industry relations.” In a separate email, Beck remarks, “I know much of what has happened since December 2014 has been structural and behind the curtain. We were a company swimming in debt. With the hard work of Kraig, [Beck advisor and president of Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts] Jonathan Schreiber, and now [chief financial officer Misty Kawecki], we will be debt-free by summer. This is miraculous and takes all of the downward pressure off of us.” Kitchin’s replacement, digital startup entrepreneur Stewart Padveen, joined Beck’s company last summer; he will be the fourth leader of The Blaze since late-2014. Kitchin took over operations of Beck’s subscription digital and cable television operation last June. Also stepping down, according to The Daily Beast, are director of advertising sales Jeremy Price, and director of marketing Liz Julis.

Presidential Race, Hillary Clinton Emails Investigation, Boko Haram Murders 86 in Nigeria, ‘Grease: Live’ TV Show, Zika Virus Outbreak, and European Immigrant Troubles Among Top Weekend News/Talk Stories.  The activities of the candidates for president; the ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of her private email server for State Department business; the weekend attack on a Nigerian village by Boko Haram that left 86 dead; the Sunday evening production of a live performance of the musical “Grease”; concerns over the spreading Zika virus in South America; the violence and crime being associated with Syrian refugees in European countries were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

streamguysStreamGuys-Cox Media Group Partnership Produces Platform for Digital Broadcasts and On-Demand Content.  Streaming media provider StreamGuys and Cox Media Group have partnered to produce a “turnkey SaaS streaming platform for live ad-supported broadcasts, on-demand podcasts, and detailed business metrics and reporting across its entire radio network.”  The platform is now live across all 60 CMG radio stations in 11 markets.  A statement from the companies indicates StreamGuys has “built a rich toolset around its robust, reliable cloud-based content management and delivery network in alignment with the broadcaster’s goals.  [Stream Guys’] SaaS approach cleanly and cost-efficiently integrates several recent, innovative StreamGuys SGsuite products and services into the network that enrich streaming player data, accelerate podcast creation, enhance royalty reporting, and monetize streaming initiatives.”  CMG senior director of digital audience Tim Clarke comments, “In StreamGuys, we have found an ideal technology partner that understands the same opportunities we see to evolve our radio products.  Their infrastructure and technology, along with competitive pricing and expertise in broadcasting, give us incredible flexibility in the management and delivery of our network-wide streaming initiatives.”  Clarke also states that StreamGuys’ HTML5 multimedia player – SGPlayer – has rich metadata support that “delivers the relevant information that online audiences seek alongside the audio stream, including song/artist data, album art, recently played tracks and social media links for sharing the experience with other listeners.  SGplayer is also an approved Nielsen SDK player, delivering client-side analytics that offer greater insight into online listener demographics than what was possible before.”  For on-demand content, StreamGuys’ SGrecast software allows multiple operators to quickly turn linear broadcasts into podcasts and side channels of any length, with near-immediate turnaround to consumers.  Clarke notes SGrecast has been “a phenomenal success,” and is used for brief news, traffic and weather in every market; and 24/7 rebroadcasts of high-profile shows after initial airings.  StreamGuys EVP Jason Osburn says, “We are elated to deliver a comprehensive SaaS [software-as-a-service] service that, along with our turnkey support, will at once help Cox Media Group solve problems and generate new ideas to push online radio and podcasting forward.”

Odds & Sods.  Like most other sports media, SiriusXM is present this week in Santa Clara and San Francisco for the build-up to Super Bowl 50.  In addition to programming emanating from NFL Radio Row on the satcaster’s NFL Channel all week, play-by-play of the game will air in seven foreign languages including: Spanish, French, Hungarian, Japanese and Cantonese…..The seventh annual “Let’s Kick Hunger Day” radiothon produced by CBS RADIO’s news/talk WCCO-AM, Minneapolis and Taste of the NFL took place on Thursday, January 28 and raised more than $261,901 for hunger relief.  The seven-year total raised from the event is more than $1.4 million.  The event is an all-day live radio broadcast designed to generate awareness of hunger in the heartland and to raise funds to help end it. The proceeds benefitted Second Harvest Heartland.

wnymlogoMichelle Jerson to Host Lifestyle Show on ‘AM 970 The Answer’ in NYC.  The new program launches on February 7 at 2:00 pm on Salem Communications-owned WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer.”  Dubbed “Michelle Jerson’s Passport,” the program isjersonmichelle being promoted as “a fresh new lifestyle show” that will “focus on travel, wellness, dining and the arts.” In a press statement, the station notes that Jerson “has represented brands like Travelzoo.com in television and radio segments across the country, showcasing destinations, resorts, airlines and tour companies.  She is a longtime travel writer and contributes content to Foxnews.com, The Daily Meal, The Examiner, and her website, Passport Romance.  Michelle has spent much of her radio career hosting lifestyle and relationship talk shows on ‘New Jersey 101.5’; WJFK, Washington; and SiriusXM and reporting for Howard Stern’s news team.”  Jerson comments, “I am extremely excited to combine all of my passions into one show and can’t wait to bring New Yorkers a fun, entertaining program that will enhance their everyday lives.  A huge thank you to Jerry Crowley, Phil Boyce and Darren Yelin for making this happen.”

gallagher SHOT16Talk Hosts Broadcast from SHOT Show in Las Vegas.  A number of talk radio personalities broadcast from the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas during the 38th annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades Show held January 19-22.  Pictured here is Salem Radio Network host Mike Gallagher (left) interviewing National Shooting Sports Foundation president and CEO Steven Sanetti (right).  Other hosts broadcasting from the radio row were Compass Media Networks host Lars Larson, Radio America personality Dana Loesch, Zimmer Radio’s Gary Nolan, KMED, Medford, Oregon morning driver Bill Meyer and more.  Sanetti comments, “America’s firearms industry and the 2nd Amendment have a great friend in talk radio.  Our radio row operation adds an extra measure of excitement to the SHOT Show and it’s a real pleasure to have so many broadcasters joining us.”

schumanbobplaqueRadio News Pro Bob Schuman Dead at 65.  The industry is mourning the death of radio news pro Bob Schuman.  His wife reports that he passed away on Saturday (1/30) at his home in suburban Detroit after a battle with congestive heart failure.  During his career, Schuman worked at Detroit signals including WJR, WOWF, WYCD and WOMC.  He also worked at WNOE, New Orleans; WSAI and WKRQ, Cincinnati; KLIF, Dallas; WROR, Boston and WZGC, Atlanta.  Schuman is pictured here receiving a plaque commemorating his induction into the WYCD Hall of Fame upon his retirement from the station.  View this video of Schuman’s farewell from WYCD, produced by Art Vuolo, here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

| April 21, 2015

littlelindaLittle Rises to President of Phoenix Market for iHeartMedia.  Assuming the position left briefly vacant by Scott Hopeck after he was promoted to the same post at the New York City cluster is Linda Little.  She moves up from her SVP of sales position with the station group.  Prior to that, she was GSM for adult contemporary KESZ and country KNIX.  She also served as integrated media business development manager.   She comments, “I have had the privilege of building my media career in Phoenix and am very fortunate to have worked for a company that has given me many opportunities to grow while constantly evolving with the industry.” In this position she’ll oversee news/talk KFYI, talk KOY, and sports talk KGME.

schreiberjonathanSchreiber Promoted at Mercury Radio Arts.  Moving up from his head of strategy and special projects position with Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts to president of the company is Jonathan Schreiber.  In this new post, Schreiber will oversee Mercury’s divisions including digital, radio andmercuryradioarts logo publishing and its continued growth in film, television and “digital content across different genres beyond politics and current events.”  The company says Schreiber will continue to serve as an advisor to TheBlaze, the company’s news, information and entertainment network led by CEO Betsy Morgan.  Schreiber has an 18-year pedigree in the tech, mobile and entertainment businesses.  Beck says, “I personally recruited Jonathan to help take our company to the next level.  Since joining Mercury, he has played an integral role in both the strategy and execution at Mercury Radio Arts and my overall business philosophy and approach.  He is a trusted advisor and this title reflects the leadership position he has and will continue to assume in this new era for both me and our business.

quayledonIndustry Mourns Don Quayle. The first president of National Public Radio (NPR) has died: Don Quayle was 84 years old. NPR’s Susan Stamberg recalls that Quayle gave her her first radio job. “It was the early-1960s and he was head of the Educational Radio Network – the precursor of NPR – a little network of 12 east coast stations that developed a daily drive-time news show. He hired me to help produce it. When this national network arose, he was an obvious choice to run it. Don was principled, decent, and astute. In the euphoric tumult of our first years, he navigated the choppy seas of building a public radio system. He knew NPR had to serve our listeners, above the competing needs of stations, boards, and funders.” The program to which Stamberg alludes, of course, is “All Things Considered,” which Quayle debuted on NPR in 1971. He headed the network – which now has more than 900 member stations – from 1970 to 1973. Prior to that (1960 – 1962), Quayle managed Boston public outlet WGBH. Five years ago, the Logan, Utah native received an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his “significant contributions” to public broadcasting from his alma mater, Utah State University.

theblaze radio networkPremiere and TheBlaze to Present Memorial Day Special.  The annual Memorial Day radio special produced by Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Radio Network returns in 2015 with Premiere Networks handling affiliate relations.  The three-hour program – titled “Reflections from a Gratefulpremierenetworks Nation” – features the hosts, writers and editors of TheBlaze and TheBlaze.com, including: Doc Thompson, Skip LaCombe, Buck Sexton, Jay Severin, Chris Salcedo, Mike Broomhead and others.  In addition to special appearances by award-winning actor Gary Sinise, “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak and members of the military, listeners will hear personal stories and conversations about the meaning of the holiday in this special tribute to those who fought and gave their lives to defend America’s freedom.  It’s available to news/talk stations for airing from May 23-25.  Interested stations can phone Premiere at 818-377-5300.

harrisonUpCloseFarOutsmallMichael Harrison Interviews Boston Herald Editor-in-Chief Joe Sciacca on Weekly Podcast, ‘Up Close and Far Out.’  In a candid and informative interview on the popular weekly podcast “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” Boston Herald editor-in-chief  Joe Sciacca discusses his views on a wide variety of media-related topics that include, among others:  the state of the newspaper industry in a changing media landscape; the impact of the digital era on journalism; and his experience in being involved with his newspaper’s pioneering effort in online news/talk/sports radio broadcasting – Boston Herald Radio.   During the extensive conversation, Sciacca – a 37-year veteran of the newspaper business as a reporter, columnist and editor — tells TALKERS magazine publishersciaccajoe Michael Harrison that the biggest challenge facing journalists in the newspaper business today is “keeping their print product relevant.”  He tells Harrison, “I believe this is the greatest time to be leading a news organization in America even though resources are challenging and newspapers are experiencing difficult times in terms of revenue.  There really is a great window of opportunity to be creative – to reinvent our business.  So when I became editor five years ago after being at the Herald for 32 years, I embraced the challenge because even though I knew the road was going to be difficult to navigate, we have done some incredible things over the last five years and we’ve really transformed what was purely a print organization into a multimedia news organization.”  This transformation, of course, includes the launch of Boston Herald Radio – the newspaper’s online talk station that produces 11 hours of original, live content every weekday from a studio located right next to the newspaper’s newsroom.  It has proven to be a major source of breaking stories, not only for Boston-area news consumers, but for the media across the country and around the world.   Harrison and Sciacca delve into media theory and discuss differences in the psychology between reading stories online as opposed to the printed page.  They also analyze the impact of video cameras inside a radio studio and the differences between what Harrison describes as “great radio or bad television.”  Sciacca discusses the Boston Herald’s commitment to getting the stories right, rather than just being first – a pressure amplified by the competition generated by the 24 hour non-stop, digital news cycle and he recalls how coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing was particularly challenging because of all the false information that was out there in the general news media’s frenzy to stay on top of the breaking story during its early hours and days.  Harrison describes his theories about the emergence of what he calls “stickless” radio broadcasting (meaning radio without the traditional license, transmitter and tower) and the development of the online “media station” in the 21st century.  To hear the entirety of this fascinating conversation between two seasoned, front-line media visionaries, please click here, or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” box in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

clipinteractiveFour More Smartphone Models Can Have FM Chip Activated Via Clip Interactive.  According to Clip Interactive, more consumers can exercise the FM chip listening option as it has expanded the phones that can use its technology to include the HTC One M9, HTC Desire 610, Sharp Aquos Crystal and LG G3.   Clip Interactive says its application technology connects to this chip, allowing the listener to tune into local stations without having to stream, which depletes data allowances and consumes more battery life.  FM chip activation through Clip Interactive mobile apps allows stations to optimize listening options for users.  Clip Interactive chief technology officer Peter Shoebridge says, “Activating the FM chip on more devices benefits the listener as they can reduce data usage and enjoy the real-time broadcast.  The industry can expect more announcements about additional devices in the coming weeks as we continue our mission to provide interactive radio to the masses.”

Odds & Sods.  Appearing in the KFAQ, Tulsa studios this morning is a crew from “Good Morning America” as morning host Pat Campbell interviews attorney Clark Brewster.  Reserve Sheriff Deputy Robert Bates hiredcampbellpat Brewster to represent him in the case of the fatal shooting of Eric Harris that took place during a drug sting.  Bates has been cleared by the FBI of violating Harris’ civil rights but faces a second-degree manslaughter charge for accidently using his pistol instead of a taser on Harris.  Pat Campbell tells TALKERS magazine, “Our station has been ground zero for many exclusives on this story, including the foxsportsradio logoonly sit-down interview with Sheriff Stanley Glanz.  KFAQ news director Tami Marler has been all over this since day one, getting scoops and guests other outlets can’t secure.”…..FOX Sports Radio is presenting “FOX Sports Live 2015 NFL Draftcast” – a multi-platform NFL draft special featuring Jay Glazer, Joel Klatt, Peter Schrager, Mike Garafolo and Don Bell in Chicago.  It will air on the network’s more than 400 affiliates nationwide beginning at 8:00 pm ET on Thursday, April 30…..The last Buckley Broadcasting property – KIDD-AM, Monterey, California – has been sold to Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson Broadcasters for $50,000.  Buckley took KIDD-AM dark a few months ago and recently tore down its aging tower structure.

ISIS Violence, Iran Nuclear Program Controversy/U.S. Naval Presence in Yemen, 2016 Presidential Prospects, Police Shootings Controversies, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/20).  The reports of ISIS executing Christians; the controversy about negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and the United States’ naval presence in the waters off Yemen; the potential candidates for president in 2016; the cases of police shooting citizens in Baltimore, Tulsa and elsewhere; and the weekend’s Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

| April 17, 2014

grahammichaelMichael Graham to Middays on WYAY, Atlanta.  Talk radio pro Michael Graham is saying good-bye to Massachusetts and New England and heading south for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show at Cumulus Media’s WYAY, Atlanta “All News 106.7.”  Graham has been hosting a program on the New England Talk Network and on the Boston Herald’s digital audio project since Greater Media flipped WTKK, Boston from talk to urban contemporary (as WBQT).  Cumulus is getting away from the all-news on WYAY – it’s already added market pro Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson to the wyay logoschedule in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm shift – though there’s no indication it has plans to change the drive time news programming anytime soon.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports the changes but Graham himself bids a fond adieu to New England and a not-so-fond adieu to the Massachusetts political scene which he blames for WTKK’s demise.  He singles out Governor Deval Patrick and you can read that here.

beckglennGlenn Beck Talks About Film Projects to Hollywood Reporter.  Talk radio star and media entrepreneur Glenn Beck tells the Hollywood Reporter that there’s a reason he bought a movie studio in Texas – The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving: He has plans for three film projects with many more hopefully to come.  The facility, where such movies as “Robocop” and “JFK” were filmed, also serves as the base for his radio and digital operations under his TheBlaze banner but his Mercury Radio Arts film division has plans for the three films – one set in ancient history, one in modern history and a third “faith-based” project – that are underway.  Read the Hollywood Reporter piece here.  Meanwhile, Beck also appears irked that he’s pigeonholed as a political right-winger by the media, telling the magazine, “Everybody thinks they know who I am because of my stint on Fox – that was two years of my life.  I’m much more into culture than I am into politics, and that’s where I intend on making my stand.”

cclogoClear Channel Restructures Sales Efforts; Extent of RIF Unknown.  The prospect that Clear Channel Media + Entertainment intended to change the structure of its sales force has been rumored for some time and now the plan has been put into effect.  The exact nature of the realignment is not known but the company released the following statement: “As a policy, we don’t discuss personnel matters.  However, for the last several months we have been flattening our senior management organization to reduce overlap.  Now we are aligning our sales organizations to this new structure and to give more resources, authority, and accountability to the most productive members of our team so we can operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

kall logoJohnson to Replace Hanson at Broadway Media.  A number of changes taking effect at Broadway Media in Utah to report.  First, the company announces that its Salt Lake Radio Group market manager G. Craig Hanson is leaving the company after 37 years to enter the ownership end of the business in St. George, Utah.  Taking over for him will be Stephen C. Johnson.  He’ll serve as general manager and CEO of the Salt Lake Radio Group that includes: KXRK, KUDD, KUUU, KEGA, KYMV and KALL.  Johnson spent the last 35 years with Simmons Media.  Other moves include Broadway Media VP/administration Bret J. Leifson exiting to pursue other interests.  Joining the companies is John G. Kimball who will serve as general manager and CEO of Real Media – the division that operates Broadway’s digital, technical, event and entertainment, and outdoor media assets.  Kimball has worked in the market with Bonneville and Real Salt Lake.

nielsen logoSecond Round of March PPM Data Released.  PPM data from the second of four groups of 12 markets for the March 2014 period (February 27 – March 26) has been released by Nielsen Audio.  Those markets include: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis.  TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all the (subscriber) numbers here.  Managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian offers his “Ten Takeaways” from the report at RadioInfo.com here.

fccnewFCC Issues FNPRM for 2014 Quadrennial Review; Ownership Regs Proposed to Remain, Cross-Ownership Open for Consideration.  The Federal Communications Commission has released its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that initiates the 2014 Quadrennial Review and chief among the topics are the broadcast ownership rules.  The Commission is proposing to keep the current radio broadcast ownership rules in place but it is open to discussion about relaxing the radio-newspaper cross-ownership ban as well as the radio-television cross-ownership rules.  This has Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai furious in his dissent.  He takes the Commission to task for, 1) failing to complete the 2010 Quadrennial Review and; 2) putting proposals such as the radio-newspaper cross-ownership ban question into the 2014 review.  Here are his words: “Congress has instructed us to review the newspaper-paiajitbroadcast cross-ownership rule every four years and repeal or modify it if we determine that it is no longer in the public interest.  And here is the simple truth: The Commission has not been able to conclude since 2000 that the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule remains in the public interest.  And today, the Commission dodges the issue entirely, putting off the issue until 2016, sixteen years after our last determination! What’s the solution at this point?  While writs of mandamus are not to be issued lightly, I believe that the D.C. Circuit would now be justified in ordering the Commission to remove the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule from our books.  We have had plenty of opportunities to justify maintaining the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule, but instead we have chosen to punt — including today.”  Pai’s sentiment that the FCC works too slowly, especially in an era when changes in technology are happening at an ever-faster pace while government seems to work slower than ever, is one echoed by many in the broadcasting industry.  Consider the Commission’s conclusion regarding how digital media is affecting broadcast media.  It’s important to understand that the quote from the FNPRM is relative to broadcasters’ (TV also) desires to relax ownership regulations.  Whether you agree or not, it’s the Commission’s assessment of the current state of the audio entertainment landscape that indicates its willingness to only see one moment in time, without regard for the future.  “Despite broadcasters’ claims to the contrary, we tentatively find that, for purposes of the Commission’s ownership rules, non-broadcast sources of audio programming are not yet meaningful substitutes for broadcast radio stations with respect to either listeners or advertisers.  While alternate platforms such as satellite radio and Internet-delivered audio are growing in popularity, broadcast radio remains the dominant radio technology.  In 2012, 92 percent of Americans age 12 or older listened to broadcast radio, a figure that has remained essentially constant over the last decade.  Satellite radio still serves only a small portion of the population, even though its subscription rates continue to climb.  And though recent data suggest that a significant portion of adult U.S. broadband households (42 percent) listen to Internet-delivered audio programming, we note that millions of U.S. households continue to lack broadband connections.  In addition, only 14 percent of Internet radio listeners listen in their cars, where most broadcast radio listening occurs.   Thus, we tentatively conclude that Internet-delivered audio programming is not yet a meaningful substitute for broadcast radio listening for most listeners.  We seek comment on this tentative conclusion and invite commenters to provide any more recent relevant information and data.  We believe, moreover, that satellite radio and content delivered via the Internet generally are national platforms that are not likely to respond to competitive conditions in local markets.”  Even if you agree with these conclusions (which, obviously, many do not), will they still be true in 2015, 2016 (when the 2014 Quad is supposed to be delivered to Congress) or 2017?

biakelseyBIA/Kelsey’s New Study Explores ‘Reinvention of Audio.’  The full name of the study from BIA/Kelsey is “The Internet Radio Revolution Has Arrived: Platforms, Services, Audiences and Advertisers Reinvent Audio,” and as the title implies, it works to make sense of the state of audio entertainment and its relationship with the advertising world as it exists today, plus where it’s going in the near future.  The study authors note a five-step process that occurs when a major change affects the media: 1) Fundamental breakthroughs in enabling technologies occur, 2) Entrepreneurs and their investors experiment with getting the right value proposition into the market, 3) Consumers find the winning technologies and begin to use them, 4) Advertisers sensing a new opportunity for connecting with their consumers allocate “experimental budget,” and 5) Media companies and publishers take new platforms seriously.  The report states, “It is only when we reach this last phase that we really get a sense of how fundamentally a technology will impact us in the long run.”  It believes the audio business is entering this fifth phase.  Read the entire study here.

iheartradio newiHeartRadio Gets into Subaru’s STARLINK.  Japanese automaker Subaru was a little late to the party with a digital infotainment system but the new STARLINK is available on many of its 2014 cars and now Clear Channel Media + Entertainment announces its iHeartRadio will be included on the system.  The STARLINK infotainment system is being demoed at the New York Auto Show beginning tomorrow (4/18).  Subaru of America marketing strategy & launch manager David Sullivan, says, “We are thrilled to have iHeartRadio as our first content partner for the STARLINK cloud service application.  The award-winning service brings a huge amount of programming and custom content to Subaru vehicles with a great, easy-to-use interface.”

ObamaCare Criticism, IRS-DOJ Tea Party Connection, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Sebelius Senate Run, Tax Day, and Bloomberg vs the NRA Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/16).  Scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the allegation that the Lois Lerner led department of the IRS contacted the Department of Justice about prosecuting the Tea Party; escalating aggression by Putin’s Russian forces in Ukraine; speculation that former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will run for the U.S. Senate; chatter about the complex U.S. tax code and the number of taxpayers supporting benefit takers; and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plans to battle the National Rifle Association were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

| June 20, 2013

theblaze logoGlenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts Purchases Irving, Texas Studios Serving as Headquarters for TV and Radio Productions.  Since 2012, Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts – the parent company of TheBlaze – has been renting The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.  Now, the company announces it is purchasing the former television and movie studio to serve as the network’s flagship television and radio facility.  Mercury Radio Arts says the 72,000 square foot facility, which will now be known as Mercury Studios, features three sound stages that are up to 14,500 square feet.  TheBlaze produces six hours of live programming every day from Irving. TheBlaze also currently leases a studio inbeckglenn Midtown Manhattan.  Beck states, “We are proud to call Texas our home and be part of the local community in Irving.  We are building a world-class facility that provides TheBlaze with the highest quality talent and top-of-the-line production capabilities so American stories can be told to viewers across the country.”  TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood comments, “TheBlaze has quickly built up the capacity to produce over 43 hours of original programming per week and we are excited to now have our own multi-media base as we continue to grow.”  The facility was built in 1982,  and has been the site of the production of movies and television shows including “Robocop,” “JFK,” “Silkwood,” “Prison Break” and “Walker Texas Ranger.”

cbssportslineatlantaCBS Atlanta Puts “Sportsline” TV Show on Hold After Firing Steak Shapiro, Chris Dimino and Nick Cellini.  It was only a matter of time that in the wake of the highly publicized cancellation of the “Mayhem in the AM” morning show on WQXI, Atlanta that the weekend TV sports talk show the trio did for CBS Atlanta would also see its end.  After the Steve Gleason bit that caused the three to lose their jobs at the radio station, the TV station’s general manager Trey Fabacher announced the “CBS Atlanta Sportsline” show would go on hiatus and the relationship between the station and the three co-hosts would end.  CBS issued the following statement regarding the incident: “Our employees, our partners and sponsors in no way support the content that was aired by this radio team on Monday morning.”

raytomTOM RAY RECOMMENDS:  Check Out the “Alert FM” App.  Engineering consultant and TALKERS technical editor Tom Ray writes in a new column posted today (6/20), “I just found an app that is a helluva lot more useful than what FEMA has mandated on your cell phone in regards to weather warnings. And, it has great potential to be a tool for your broadcast operation, whether you’re on the street reporters, newsroom, or just the announcers and jocks are equipped with it.  The app is available for iPhones and Android devices, and is called Alert FM.”  Check out Tom Ray’s entire column by clicking here.

chasejustinBeasley Broadcasting Names Justin Chase to New Corporate VP of Programming.  The promotion of Justin Chase from operations manager for Beasley’s three Las Vegas music outlets – KCYE, KKLZ and KOAS (as well as GGB Las Vegas-owned KVGS) – to the new corporate post of vice president of programming gives Chase the charge of overseeing all programming responsibilities for the company’s portfolio of 40-plus radio stations located in 11 radio markets across the country.  The company adds other duties to the position with Chase being charged with “developing creative campaigns that extend the radio stations’ on-air brands to the digital space.”  Chase reports to president and COO Bruce Beasley.  The company lauds Chase for the ratings and revenue growth the stations have experienced since he came aboard in 2009 – from CBS Radio’s crosstown AC KMXB — making Las Vegas one of the company’s top-performing markets.  Bruce Beasley states, “Justin possesses all the traits and strengths we were we looking for in a vice president of programming when we decided to create the position at Beasley’s corporate level.  Over the last four years with our company, he has demonstrated his ability to program numerous formats, develop and maintain strong relationships within the industry and create campaigns that extend stations’ on-air brands to digital platforms.  We believe Justin is the perfect fit for this new position.”

barefootcoyCharlottesville Talk Host Coy Barefoot Jumps Across Town to WCHV-FM.  Talk media personality Coy Barefoot leaves Saga Communications’ WINA, Charlottesville, Virginia to join Monticello Media’s WCHV-FM for the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot.  Barefoot also hosts a weekly Sunday morning program on Newsplex-owned TV in the market called “Inside Charlottesville” and his radio show at WCHV-FM takes the same name.  Barefoot began his program on WINA in 2006.  The move to Monticello Media’s news/talk simulcast of WCHV-AM/FM means the station separates programming for the two hours when Barefoot’s show is head on the FM and Premiere’s Sean Hannity continues to be heard on the AM signal.

norrisedWJZ-FM, Baltimore Morning Co-Host Ed Norris Returns to Air After April Motorcycle Accident.  Former cop Ed Norris who now works as morning drive co-host at CBS Radio’s sports talk WJZ-FM, Baltimore “105.7 The Fan” returned to the air on June 19 after almost two months off the air.  Norris was involved in a motorcycle accident in which he swerved to avoid a truck. He suffered broken ribs, a broken arm and head injuries but has healed well enough to be back on the radio – although he tells WJZ-TV he’s still injured and still in some pain.  Norris co-hosts the morning show with Steve Davis.

nab logoNAB Files Comments with FCC Requesting Indecency Policy Provide Clarity.  The National Association of Broadcasters has filed a 42-page report containing its comments in regard to the FCC’s request for such on Adopting Egregious Cases Policy.  The crux of the NAB’s comments is that the commission’s policy on indecency needs to be clear and contain examples.  “The Commission’s broadcast indecency policies must, at the very least, adhere to the constraints of Pacifica — and thus, unlike the 2004 Golden Globe decision and its progeny, they must be limited and restrained.  Golden Globe and subsequent decisions focusing on fleeting expletives and isolated nudity led to unpredictable, arbitrary and unconstitutional enforcement of indecency rules and policies that chilled broadcaster speech.  Any policies going forward not only must be cautious and restrained, as Pacifica requires, they also must be as predictable, consistent and clear as possible.”  The NAB also states it believes: 1) the commission should no longer treat fleeting or isolated expletives and images as actionably indecent; 2) that, to be actionably indecent, challenged material must fall within the scope of its indecency definition —that is, the material must describe or depict sexual or excretory organs or activities.  The NAB also asks that the commission must use language that is as precise as possible and provide relevant examples and context in its policies and decisions.  If the commission cannot establish sufficiently clear indecency regulations so that broadcasters know what is expected of them, then broadcasters cannot be subject to liability for alleged violations of those standards.

arbitronArbitron Modifies TLR Policy Affecting Out-of-Market Streaming.  Arbitron announces a modification to its Total Line Reporting policy beginning with the Summer Diary Survey and the July 2013 PPM.  Arbitron explains: Over-the-air stations and streams that simulcast have been eligible for Total Line Reporting (TLR) for a number of years.  Combos that receive TLR are reported with a combined total line using the “primary” station’s call letters, selected by the combo from among the over-the-air stations.  Until May 2013, in order to be eligible for TLR, a stream had to simulcast 100% with its over-the-air partner, including any commercials, throughout the stream’s reach. Starting May 2013, Arbitron introduced a change in the policy that enables a stream to receive TLR while substituting commercials outside the home market of its over-the-air partner, subject to certain restrictions. After carefully reviewing this policy and with input from the Radio Advisory Council, Arbitron is modifying this policy to provide greater flexibility to stations that stream.  Starting with the July 2013 PPM report month and Summer 2013 Diary survey, a stream is eligible for TLR as long as the stream simulcasts all content 100%, including commercials, in the home Metro and DMA of its over-the-air partner. Under this new policy, the stream is not required to simulcast any content outside the over-the-air station’s home Metro and DMA. The 100% simulcast requirement for streams will remain in effect in the over-the-air station’s Metro and DMA. Over-the-air stations requesting TLR with one another will also need to simulcast 100% without exception, as required under the long-standing Arbitron TLR policy.

rtdnaRTDNA/Hofstra Survey of Radio and TV News Directors Paints Unclear Picture of State of Radio News.  The annual survey of radio and television news directors and general managers by Hofstra University professor emeritus Bob Papper in conjunction with the RTDNA was released on Wednesday and regarding radio news, Papper states, “Overall in the survey, 77.7% of radio stations run local news — 78.8% of AM stations and 77.2% of FM stations.  The overall percentage is up a surprising 8.8% from last year, with AM stations up 9.8 points and FM stations up 4 points.  As I do each year, I would urge caution on those numbers.  The numbers are based on stations that return the survey, and since it’s a news survey, stations that run news could well be more likely to return the surveys than stations that do not.  It’s possible those percentages are too high.”  Papper reports that regarding changes in radio news and plans for the future veered from past years.  “Historically, these numbers have tended to be pretty consistent, but this year is different.  The percentage of stations reporting an increase in news fell from 30.1% last year to 22% this time around.  The percentage reporting a drop edged up from 4.9% to 6.7%.  Non-commercial stations were a little more likely to increase the amount of news; so were stations in the biggest markets.”  You can see the summary of the entire study here.

Obama Nukes Plan/Berlin Speech, ‘Gang of 8’ Amnesty Deal, NSA Surveillance Program, DOJ News Organization Monitoring, and FBI Domestic Drones Policy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/19).  President Obama’s nukes reduction plan and his speech in Berlin; the “Gang of 8” illegal immigrant amnesty deal; controversy over the National Security Administration’s surveillance program; the effect of the Department of Justice’s monitoring of phone and email records of news organizations on sources; and the FBI’s admission to using drones in the United States were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

| September 13, 2012

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.

Friday, July 20, 2012

| July 20, 2012

Sports Talk King Mike Francesa Credits Colleagues at WFAN for his Success with Special Salute to Former Partner Chris Russo.  In a special statement issued to TALKERS, afternoon drive superstar Mike Francesa – named the Most Important Sports Talk Radio Host in America in the recently released “2012 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk” — expresses his gratitude to “all the people who have helped make WFAN the iconic station it has become.”  He congratulates his teammates at the station that also made the list and particularly credits his former on-air partner Chris Russo (currently at SiriusXM Satellite Radio) saying, “I wouldn’t be commanding the top spot in the Hundred without his enormous contribution to my career.”  The TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk has generated enormous mainstream press and internet chatter propelling the Big Apple mainstay into the national spotlight. Here is Francesa’s complete statement: “I commend Talkers for recognizing the importance of sports talk as a viable and efficient format in radio programming.  In this the 25th year of WFAN, there are over 600 sports talk stations across our nation.  I am honored to have been chosen by your editorial board to top the list.  It is a special distinction to be cited by professionals who understand our medium so well.  I accept this honor for all the people who have helped make WFAN the iconic station it has become and congratulate my FAN colleagues who made the list – Boomer Esiason, Craig Carton, Joe Benigno, Evan Roberts, Steve Somers, and especially my partner of almost 20 years, Chris Russo.  I wouldn’t be commanding the top spot in the Hundred without his enormous contribution to my career.  Again, I am very grateful for the honor and wish you continued success. 

All the best

Mike

2012 Marconi Award Nominees Announced; CBS Radio Sports Talk Hosts Mike Francesa and Angelo Cataldi Up for Major Market Personality of the Year.  The winners of the 2012 NAB Marconi Awards will be announced on September 20 at The Radio Show in Dallas.  This year’s nominees include sports talk radio personalities Mike Francesa of WFAN, New York and Angelo Cataldi of WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia for Major Market Personality of the Year.  Both Francesa and Cataldi were named to the 2012 TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk this week – Francesa at #1 and Cataldi at # 10.  DirecTV/Fox Sports Radio Network personality Dan Patrick is the lone sports talk figure up for Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year.  He’s up against talk hosts Neal Boortz and Dial Global’s Dennis Miller and music radio hosts Elvis Duran of Premiere Networks and Reach Media’s Tom Joyner.  Other spoken-word nominees include: KYW, Philadelphia; WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte; and WFAN, New York for Legendary StationJan Mickelson from WHO, Des Moines is the lone talker up for Medium Market Personality of the YearHubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington is nominated for Major Market Station of the Year.  News/talk WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville and sports talk WXYT-FM, Detroit are up for Large Market Station of the Year.  WHO, Des Moines and WTIC-AM, Hartford are nominated for Medium Market Station of the Year.  The nominees for News/Talk Station of the Year are: KCBS-AM, San Francisco; KFGO, Fargo; WBBM-AM, Chicago; WGN, Chicago; and WTOP, Washington, DC.  Nominees for Sports Station of the Year are: KTCK, Dallas; WEEI, Boston; WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia; WSCR, Chicago; and WXYT-FM, Detroit.

Glenn Beck Plans Major Expansion at TheBlaze.  The talk media superstar and digital media pioneer tells WXKS-AM, Boston morning drive host Jeff Katz during a recent appearance on his program that he intends to hire as many as 200 new staffers for TheBlaze in the coming months.  TheBlaze – the multi-media news and programming initiative of Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts – already has approximately 120 employees.  The news came within the context of an on-air conversation between Katz and Beck about the state of business in America under the Obama administration.  Beck also alluded to the ease with which he’s been able to build his business – and create jobs – since moving away from New York City to the Dallas, Texas area.

Tai Irwin Hosts Final Morning Show on Alternative Rock WFNX, Boston.  Radio personality (and faculty member at The New England Institute of Art) Tai Irwin reprising the role he played for 10 years at alternative rock WFNX, Boston today (7/20) as the station broadcasts its final day of alt-rock before Clear Channel takes control later in the day.  Irwin and other personalities were invited to do one last show and Irwin tells TALKERS WFNX “launched me into the national talk scene due to my talk show and industry convention presence where I met and befriended Gene Burns and Jerry Williams, before I eventually left to work for Kevin Straley at WRKO.  During my time there I interviewed everyone from Noam Chomsky and Jerry Brown to Mitt Romney.”  In addition to his work at the NEIA, Irwin is involved with tom Leykis’ New Normal where he’ll debut a new podcast called, “The Tai-rade” very soon.  As for what Clear Channel will do with the new FM signal, speculation runs the gamut from an FM signal for news/talk WXKS-AM to a brand new classic hits format.  We’ll know soon enough.

Washington, DC Talk Host Andy Parks Gets Multi-Media Marketing Initiative.  Washington talk radio personality Andy Parks – a long-time figure on crosstown WMAL – is heard in PM drive on Metro Radio Inc.’s WTNT as well as on WashingtonTimes.com.  The show is called “Andy Parks Live from the Washington Times” and the paper is devising a multi-media marketing ploy to create awareness of the show.  Using the line, “Online.  On the Air.  On Your Doorstep.”  The Times is promoting Parks’ show with a reference to President Obama’s controversial statement about jobs creation not belonging to builders of small businesses and employs the phrase, “Andy Begs to Differ” in bold print in an ad in the newspaper.  The Times says it plans to begin a digital initiative using the same campaign technique in the near future.

Flip to Talk for Florence, South Carolina FM; Station Nabs Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh.  Miller Communications moved its plans to flip to talk up a couple of weeks when Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh became available after crosstown WJMX-AM/FM dropped Limbaugh’s program.  WFRK-FM added Limbaugh to the schedule three days after WJMX dropped the show declaring to SCNow.com that decreased listenership, advertiser skittishness and increased costs associated with the show forced the decision.  WFRK-FM CEO Harold Miller says the station will launch as a talk outlet officially on August 1 but could only say “Kinard and Koffee in the Morning” will be part of the lineup as other deals for programming are still in the works.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Cox Media Group names Ben Reed vice president and market manager for its Atlanta station group that includes news/talk WSB-AM/FM.  He takes over for Dan Kearney who moved south to become VP/market manager for Cox Media Group Miami…..Houston talk radio personality Matt Patrick hosts the final live debate between Texas Senatorial candidates Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and former Texas State Solicitor Ted Cruz on his PM drive show on The 9-5-0 KPRC this afternoon at 3:20.  The primary election is July 31…..New England Patriots football great Gino Cappelletti announces he is retiring from his post as color man for radio broadcasts of Patriots football games – a job he’s held for the past 32 years.  Cappelletti has worked alongside Gil Santos for the past 28 years.  Comcast SportsNet is reporting WBZ-FM, Boston – 98.5 The Sports Hub – host and former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak will likely be named Santos’ partner in the booth…..Midway Broadcasting Corporation’s WVON, Chicago hosts the 2nd Annual Taste of WVON neighborhood festival tomorrow from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm at Lorraine Dixon Park in Chicago.  The event features more than 60 food and craft vendors and live entertainment…..Tribune’s WGN, Chicago has a weekend full of special broadcasts planned to celebrate the induction of Cubs legend Ron Santo into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.  WGN’s Dave Eanet will report from Cooperstown throughout the weekend and a special Ron Santo Hall of Fame edition of Cubs Confidential will air Sunday from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm featuring broadcast clips from the Ron Santo Cubs Legend CD.  The station will also delay broadcast the induction ceremony after Sunday’s Cubs game…..ESPN Deportes brings Mexican soccer great Francisco Gabriel de Anda aboard to join the network’s team of expert analysts.  De Anda will be integrated into Futbol Picante’s table of analysts Fridays and Saturdays, and become part of ESPN Futbol Center, the program dedicated to Mexican and International soccer.

Talk Host Tom Becka Calls on Nebraska Listeners to Protest Penn State.  November 10 is the date of the Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Penn State and Fargo, North Dakota-based talk host Tom Becka is rallying his listeners who hear his show from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on KKAR, Omaha to donate their tickets for the game to local kids who may never get the chance to see a big game.  Becka says, “I am calling on my listeners in Nebraska to donate their Penn State tickets to any children’s group or give it to some kids in the neighborhood that normally wouldn’t be able to go.  I’d love to see the stands loaded with children for any Penn State away game.  That way kids get to see a game and the fans get to protest in a civil manner the neglect of Joe Paterno and the Penn State program.”  The NCAA is currently reviewing the Penn State situation and although the “death penalty” is a possibility for the football program, it probably would not go into effect until next season.

2012 Presidential Race Remains Atop Talkers TenTM for Second Straight Week.  The various storylines relative to the November presidential election were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of July 16 – 20.  Coming in at #2 this week was the report of increased jobless claims.  At #3 was Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony before Congress about the state of the U.S. economy and at #4 was President Obama’s unveiling of the $1 billion Master Teacher Corp program.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from Talkers.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.

Mike & Mike on David Letterman.  ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic recently made their 9th appearance on CBS TV’s “Late Night with David Letterman” and the day was documented by Greenberg’s wife Stacey – aka Mrs. Greeny – for ESPN Front Row, where fans get a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite personalities.  Pictured here are (from l-r): Mike Greenberg, Stacey Greenberg, actress Kyra Sedgwick, and Mike Golic taken backstage.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Daily Wrap from The Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner” is added to the program schedule at Clear Channel’s WRDU, Raleigh and WERC-AM/FM, Birmingham…..The “Motley Fool Money” radio show featuring host Chris Hill adds affiliates WPLM, Plymouth, Massachusetts; WBNW, Concord, Massachusetts; and WESO, Southbridge, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

| July 18, 2012

Merlin Media Ends FM News Operations in New York and Chicago.  Industry watchers are beginning the post-mortem on Merlin Media’s all-news formats at WIQI, Chicago and WEMP, New York after yesterday’s announcement by the company that it is flipping the two signals to classic hits and alternative rock, respectively.  In making the announcement, Merlin president Randy Michaels stated, “It was a difficult decision to make, but after a year of minimal audience engagement, coupled with the format’s inherent expense, I felt it was time to make a change.”  Perhaps the most obvious challenge to the endeavor was the fact that in both Chicago and New York, Michaels’ stations were going up against entrenched news stations in markets that didn’t seem to be crying out for more radio news, primarily because they are already being served by well-respected and well-listened-to all-news outlets.  WBBM-AM/FM, Chicago and WCBS and WINS in New York were tough opponents to challenge in the radio news game – not to mention the public radio stations in both markets that have loyal audiences and dedicate resources to covering local news.  The ratings for the two stations seemed to bear that out.  The initial concept of trying to reach women with a news product fell flat.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told the Chicago Tribune, “When you say, ‘This is for women and here’s what we’re talking about,’ it can come across as insulting.  It’s presumptuous.”  Harrison also told the paper, “To reinvent the wheel, when in fact the wheel is not broken, is difficult.”  He said the station’s focus on stereotypically female topics like cooking, fashion and child rearing also turned off listeners.  There are reports 27 staffers are out in Chicago with a similar number in New York, leaving a host of veteran radio news people looking for their next opportunity this morning.  Meanwhile, another wrinkle to this story pertains to industry rumors and speculation that Merlin had plans to eventually morph its New York and possibly Chicago all-newsers into traditional news/talkers.  The recent addition of Rush Limbaugh to Philadelphia property WWIQ after his departure from CBS Radio‘s WPHT had tongues wagging about the possibility of such a move happening in New York when Cumulus Media‘s contract with Premiere Networks for Limbaugh on WABC ends – especially with Cumulus developing Mike Huckabee (currently airing on crosstown competitor WOR) as a more “civil” alternative to Limbaugh.  This brings up another question: Are the Merlin moves to music just a temporary measure?

Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Draws Intense Traffic to Talkers.com; Testament to Sports Talk Format’s Popularity.  The recently published Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America, has generated so much traffic to Talkers.com that – at times – navigation on the site slowed to a crawl, forcing the IT staff at Talkers.com to increase the site’s bandwidth to accommodate the visitors.  This massive interest in America’s sports talk radio personalities is indicative of the format’s popularity with both consumers and from within the media industry.  TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey states, “Sports talk radio is off-the-charts popular in so many markets across the country – reflecting the importance of sports in American popular culture.  The interest in the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk from people working within the business is one thing, but the attention from consumers of sports talk and the rabid sports blogosphere is astounding.  The passion that exists for the format, the personalities, as well as the games and athletes themselves, shows why this talk radio genre is such an effective marketing tool for businesses at the local and national level.”  The 2012 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk can be found here.

Cumulus Media’s WPRO, Providence Names Craig Schwalb Program Director.  Craig Schwalb comes to Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO and 99.7 (and sister WPRV) in Providence from SiriusXM where he served as senior director of talk programming.  He’s also worked at WKRK, Detroit; WNEW, New York; WRBZ, Raleigh; and EZ Communications, St. Louis.  He replaces Paul Giammarco who recently resigned from the station.  Cumulus SVP Mike McVay states, “We are excited to have Craig join Cumulus.  We want the freshest and best minds in the industry…and he is clearly among the best.”  Speaking about his new opportunity, Schwalb says, “The chance to program one of the country’s legendary radio stations, complete with great talent, a great news presence and great influence in a terrific city was a no brainer for me and my family.  I am looking forward to working with Providence market manager Barbara Haynes and of course John Dickey, Mike McVay, Jim Mahaney, and everyone at Cumulus.”

Recent Affiliate Adds Push America’s Radio News Network Past 300 Mark.  In fact, when combined with the TRN/Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” program, the affiliate total jumps past 320 for the news programming offered by Talk Radio Network’s ARNN.  The content syndicator notes that recent affiliate additions in Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Memphis; Ft. Myers/Naples; Charleston, South Carolina; and others for the five three-hour news block programs are indicative of the strong demand for quality news-oriented radio content.

Talk Host Andrew Wilkow to Host Prime Time Show on TheBlaze.  The online TV network TheBlaze – a digital product of Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company – announces SiriusXM talk personality Andrew Wilkow will host a new, one-hour news and talk show to debut later this summer.  TheBlaze says the exact start date and the name of the program will be announced later.  TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood states, “TheBlaze is building a primetime lineup filled with both established talent and the voices of the future. Andrew Wilkow’s strong independence and ‘no sacred cows’ approach to the news, issues and events of the day are perfect fits for TheBlaze as we continue to expand our programming.”  TheBlaze notes it already produces three hours of prime time shows including “the comedy news show ‘The B.S. of A,’ the reality show ‘Independence USA’ and other programming throughout the day led by Glenn’s show, the news show ‘Real News’ and the kid’s show ‘Liberty TreeHouse.’ The network airs over 35 hours of original programming per week and will soon provide video content on a 24/7 basis.”

Talk Icon Larry King’s Internet TV Show Debuts.  Larry King’s new internet TV show – a 30–minute news and interview show – debuted last night with Seth McFarlane as his first guest.  The program is a joint venture between Hulu and Ora TV.  Ora TV is a digital venture being funded by Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim Helu.  In a statement about the new program, Larry King says, “I have always been driven to innovate, from my time on radio, to the first call-in show on national television to being an early adopter of online columns and Twitter…I love being able to interact directly with audiences and digital TV allows me to do this in new and powerful ways.”  This evening, King’s guest will be Meghan McCain with actor Matthew McConaughey on tap for Thursday’s show.

2012 Presidential Campaign, Summer Heatwave/Crops Threatened, Negative Economic Forecasts, Global Debt Crisis and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/17).  The 2012 presidential campaign; the nationwide summer heat wave and the threat to the corn and grains crops; negative economic forecasts; the global debt crisis and the financial markets activities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

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