Iconic Talk Show Host Bob Grant Dead at 84. Just months after retiring from his weekend talk show at WABC, New York, Bob Grant passed away on New Year’s Eve after what’s being described as a brief illness. Grant began his talk radio career at KABC in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s but rose to fame when he came to New York and began a regular talk show at WMCA in 1970. Grant’s career saw him move around the New York radio dial; he worked at WABC and WOR and – for a time – WWDB-FM, Philadelphia. He is regularly cited by today’s conservative talk radio practitioners as the man who pioneered the opinionated, call-it-as-you-see-it style of issues-oriented talk radio upon which the modern era of the format was built. Read more about his legendary career here.
Curtis & Kuby Return to WABC, New York. Cumulus Media names Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby midday talk hosts at WABC, New York – returning one of the most popular local talk teams to the station where they first worked together more than 13 years ago. The Curtis & Kuby show aired on WABC from 2000 to 2007 pairing the conservative Sliwa with the ultra-liberal Kuby for a show that was very successful. Cumulus COO John Dickey says in a statement, “We’re delivering on our pledge to invest in localized content that will entertain, inform and engage listeners while also providing advertisers unique opportunities to reach their customers on a sustained basis. Sliwa adds, “Ever since I left 77 WABC, everywhere I go people have asked me if and when I would ever reunite with Ron Kuby, because that was a great show! At a time when New Yorkers are starved for information and entertainment, I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to offer it to them on the greatest news/talk station this country has ever seen.” And Kuby comments, “I am thrilled to be back at legendary 77 WABC radio with the Curtis & Kuby show — it is a new day for New York City and a new afternoon for New York radio!” Sliwa has most recently been hosting both morning and afternoon shows at Salem’s crosstown WNYM “AM 970 The Answer.” In addition to the Curtis & Kuby show, Cumulus is adding a local hour from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm hosted by NY1 TV anchor Pat Kiernan. Kiernan states, “My first broadcasting job was in radio so this is a natural way for me to extend my connection with New Yorkers. I see this as a great way for listeners to reconnect after the workday. We’re going to hit the big local stories, but we also want to plug into the conversation of the day. That can include anything from pop culture to sports to the hot topic on Twitter.” These moves come as the station transitions the late morning Geraldo Rivera show to local content and adds the Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated Michael Savage for the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm slot.
WABC, New York Names Craig Schwalb PD; Tony Mascaro Takes WPRO, Providence Programming Post. Along with the programming changes announced above, Cumulus Media announces Craig Schwalb is being promoted to program director of WABC, New York from the company’s WPRO, Providence. At the same time, Tony Mascaro moves from his operations manager post at WABC to program director of WPRO and sister business news outlet WPRV. The company states that Schwalb has nearly two decades of news, talk and sports programming experience with roles held in markets including New York City, Detroit, St. Louis and Raleigh. Prior to joining Cumulus, Schwalb was the senior director of talk programming for SiriusXM. Schwalb says, “WABC has inspired countless broadcasters over the years and to now lead WABC into its next phase will be an absolute pleasure. Without a doubt, working alongside Cumulus NYC market manager Kim Bryant, COO John Dickey, SVP programming Mike McVay and corporate program director Randall Bloomquist, will be an honor.” Speaking about his return to Providence, Mascaro comments, “I am thrilled to be returning to Providence where it all started for me. WPRO-AM is a legendary radio station with an amazing line-up of talent. I wish everyone at WABC continued success for the future. Thanks to John Dickey, Mike McVay, Randall Bloomquist and Providence market manager Barbara Haynes for this opportunity to program a heritage radio station in a great radio market.”
Sean Hannity to Air Live on KVI, Seattle. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated superstar Sean Hannity returns to Seattle’s “Talk Radio 570” KVI today airing live in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. This marks a reunion with the station on which his show debuted in 2001. Program director Paul Duckworth states, “We’re thrilled to bring Sean back to KVI. Listeners deserve to hear Sean’s program live and get the most up-to-the-minute news, information and analysis.” Hannity adds, “From the very first day I went on the air and that red light went on, I have been in love with radio. I’m thrilled, excited, ecstatic, exuberant to be back on America’s original conservative talk station, ‘Talk Radio 570 KVI.’” In addition, “The Hannity Encore” will air on the station Sundays from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
WIND, Chicago Expands Morning Show; Adds Sean Hannity. Salem Communications-owned news/talk WIND, Chicago announces the expansion of the morning drive show co-hosted by Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson plus the addition of Premiere’s Sean Hannity show to the lineup. Beginning Monday, January 6, Bill Bennett‘s “Morning in America” returns live to the station for the 5:00 am to 6:00 am hour. Howell and Jacobson will air in the expanded 6:00 am to 11:00 am slot. Westwood One’s Dennis Miller remains in the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm slot but now airs live. Sean Hannity also airs live from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. WIND general manager Jeff Reisman comments, “Sean Hannity is an ideal fit on ‘AM 560 The Answer.’ Sean is one of the premier news/talk personalities and his style will fit nicely with our outstanding lineup of local and national hosts.”
WGN, Chicago Gives David Kaplan New Contract. Talk host and reporter David Kaplan inks a new, multi-year contract with Tribune’s WGN, Chicago. Kaplan hosts the eponymous nightly sports talk show that airs from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm and serves as afternoon drive sports reporter as well as host of the Cubs and Blackhawks Confidential programs. Kaplan comments, “It’s a thrill to continue my career at WGN Radio where I have spent the last 18-plus years. I’m thankful to work for the best mind in radio, Jimmy de Castro, and I’m blessed to be able to talk sports in my hometown of Chicago on the best radio station in America.” De Castro adds, “We are driven to deliver live and local programming to our listeners. Kap has his finger on the pulse of Chicago sports and we’re excited for him to be a part of our multi-dimensional future.”
Marc James Goes Solo at “The Fan” in Charlotte. CBS RADIO announces WFNZ, Charlotte “Sports Radio 610 The Fan” afternoon drive personality Marc James begins hosting the afternoon drive slot on the station solo as former co-host Taylor Zarzour leaves the show to host “Bleacher Report Radio” on SiriusXM‘s sports zone channel. James and Zarzour had been co-hosting “The Drive” since they were paired up in 2011. The station says Zarzour will continue to remain a part of the WFNZ family by calling into the show with Marc weekly. Zarzour says, “I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity that OM DJ Stout and market manager Bill Schoening gave me at WFNZ. I am extremely proud of the success that we had in my three years on the show and have no doubt Marc and the crew will continue to grow the audience. I am excited about my next opportunity but will continue to be a part of the WFNZ family.” The show’s other cast members include The Q.C.B., Hitman, and Jayweezie. Stout says, “Although it is bittersweet to see Taylor go, he has done a great job for us and we will miss his talent and professionalism. We’re excited for Marc to take on this opportunity. He is a top notch talent and we look forward to him taking The Drive to the next level.” James comments, “Taylor Zarzour is probably the hardest working person in sports talk radio. He made me a better host, but more importantly a better man. I look forward to taking ‘Sports Radio 610 WFNZ the Fan’ to unparalleled heights in the future. Charlotte is hands down one of the best sports towns in America and we will continue to make Charlotte proud to call WFNZ THE best sports talk station in the city.”
The Miracle of “A Christmas Story.” Ever the radio historian, noted media consultant Walter Sabo reminds us about the power of story-telling as an audience-building device. In a new column posted today (1/2) Sabo discusses the movie “A Christmas Story” which was based on the synthesis of dozens of radio monologues created and delivered by the late and legendary talker Jean Shepherd. Shepherd broadcast on WOR, New York from 1958-1975. His nightly monologues were not bedtime stories. According to Sabo, they were subversive proclamations, challenging authority wrapped in imagery of American traditions. Shepherd worked without a script, but with massive prep. Some of his shows took months to come to fruition in his imagination. He recorded every show. The importance of Shepherd’s work is that it was not on NPR or an obscure station. WOR was the number one station in audience and revenue in America through most of his reign. It was a talk station that appealed primarily to women—about 70% of the cume was female. About 70% of the hosts were women. There were many other dominant talk stations at the time that appealed primarily to women such as KMOX, WCCO, WGN and WBZ. Shepherd’s audience was young, more male. His show often presented a youngster’s perspective on the idiocy of authority, success, day-people and capitalism. He bashed advertising, radio, television and anything that was mainstream or plastic. In other words he trashed, on every level, the success of his employer: The number one radio station in America owned by General Tire and Rubber. He did that every night. There is much contemporary talk broadcasters can learn from this slice of radio history. To read Sabo’s entire piece, please click here.
Nieslen Audio December PPM Data Released. The December 2013 PPM ratings data has been released by Nielsen Audio. Numbers for all 48 PPM-rated markets have been made public and that information can be found at the site of TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo. Check out the main page for managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian’s “Takeaways” here or go straight to the full ratings data here.
Coming Next Week: The 2014 International CES. Media consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke will report from next week’s 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He teases the event asking, “How dizzying is the-pace-of-change?” Media are now asked NOT to refer to this massive, mind-boggling event as “The Consumer Electronics Show,” because whassup here has transcended hardware.
Sure, there’ll be gadgets aplenty in an exhibit hall bigger than 30 football fields, many of ‘em obsoleting whatever seemed so-cutting-edge last year. But many of the ways technology is changing our everyday lives are…invisible, “The Internet of Things.”
Yes, the Amazon drone story was a publicity stunt.
But 62% of Internet traffic is now robots.
Maybe your refrigerator isn’t (yet) auto-ordering milk; and none of us are riding driver-less cars.
Yet already, patients can enable doctors to monitor real-time vital signs.
Soon, your alarm clock could wake you earlier if the route you commute has a traffic tangle. And your thermostat will auto-adjust, based on the changing weather forecast. Traditional radio information hooks are no longer franchises. If you think I’m exaggerating, look at your iPhone.
Come along, virtually…
Look for my coverage here next week in TALKERS and RadioInfo; and follow my real-time Tweets @HollandCooke. I’ll also be reporting for the Jim Bohannon show and “America in the Morning,” and on my client stations.
And it’ll be a ‘Vegas convention two-fer. Again this year, I’ll also be covering NMX, the New Media Expo, formerly “Blogworld,” before-that “The Podcast & New Media Expo,” which, a decade ago, already drew twice-as-many attendees as radio conventions.
With media consumers now in on-demand pick-N-choose mode — and with advertising and marketing money flowing to the digital platform — these internet content creators’ work is now instructive to what TALKERS and RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison has termed broadcast stations’ “survival and ‘thrival.’”
Norm Pattiz to Keynote NMX 2014. Speaking of the New Media Expo, Courtside Entertainment Group CEO Norm Pattiz will be among the three media execs keynoting the conference when it gets underway this weekend in Las Vegas. Speaking alongside tech expert Leo Laporte and Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok, Pattiz – Westwood One founder and CEO of Podcast One – will address the former Blogworld conference at 9:00 am on Monday, January 6. The title of the keynote address is “The Future of Podcasting.”
WMYT, Wilmington Adds Programming. Talk Media TV-owned news/talk WMYT, Wilmington, North Carolina announces program additions to is schedule beginning with its “Super Saturdays” lineup. The station says the new addition to its “Super Saturdays,” which consists of eight local shows, is “The Car Doctor with Val Boudreau.” Also, the station announces it is bringing the new “The Blaze News” regular news updates to listeners airing every 15 minutes, saying “’The Blaze News’ spots, in addition to our Fox Business News spots, will expand our national news content and coverage!” WMYT is also adding Premiere Networks’ Andy Dean to the daily schedule airing weeknights from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
Austin Sports Talker KTXX-FM Purchased By Local Group. The Austin American-Statesman reports that longtime market media personality Bob Cole heads up an ownership group that is purchasing sports talk KTXX-FM “The Horn” and its sister AM signal KWNX from Total Austin Sports Radio for an undisclosed sum. Cole – who serves as the Texas Longhorns stadium announcer and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Texas Radio Hall of Fame – tells the paper the station will remain sports but that “We’re going to do something a little different, that fills a hole that no one else in the market is filling.” Earlier this year the group purchased country outlet KOKE where Cole hosts the morning show.
Odds & Sods. Clear Channel changes the call letters of KTLK, Los Angeles to KEIB – a nod to its new centerpiece, Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh, whose Excellence in Broadcasting network moniker is often shortened to EIB. The station flipped from progressive talk to conservative talk as of today (1/2) and the station’s brand is “The Patriot.” Limbaugh moved over from sister news/talk KFI…..CBS RADIO’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94 WIP” is giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday night’s Eagles-Saints NFC Wild Card game at Lincoln Financial Field to the person “who needs them the most.” The station is telling listeners to make a banner that says “94WIP I Need Eagles Playoff Tickets,” make it big, creative and hang it where WIP can see – as long as it’s legal. On Friday afternoon, the station will send its spotters out to select the best banner and will award the tickets accordingly…..ESPN Radio returns to the Columbia, South Carolina market after a 17-month absence on L&L Broadcasting’s WOIC “ESPN Columbia 1230 AM.” WOIC flipped from news/talk on January 1 and is carrying much of the ESPN Radio lineup. It will also air local programs “The Zone” hosted by Duane “The Shot Doctor” Everett from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and “Sports Hotline” with Bobby Gist and Ernest Robinson from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm…..The “Positive Business with Patricia Raskin” show announces the addition of new co-host Lynda Adams. “Positive Business” airs every Friday from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on business talk WPRV, Providence where it’s been heard for the past four years.
Entercom Donates $25k to The One Fund. Entercom operates rock WAAF, news/talk WRKO and sports talk outlets WEEI-FM and WEEI-AM but the donation to The One Fund to assist in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing comes from the company as a whole, states Boston VP and market manager Jeff Brown, “On behalf of over 2,000 Entercom employees across the country and our incredible Entercom team here in Boston, we are honored to donate $25,000 to The One Fund to help assist the victims and the families of the Boston Marathon tragedy.”
Peter Thiele Leaves Salem Communications’ WNYM and WMCA, New York. Talk radio programmer Peter Thiele is exiting his program director position at Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York “970 The Answer” and its sister Christian outlet WMCA where he’s been for the past five years. He and his family plan to relocate to San Antonio, Texas in early May. Thiele states, “I want to thank Phil Boyce, Jerry Crowley, Dave Santrella and the rest of the Salem team.” Thiele tells TALKERS magazine that this decision is his and plans to use his experience in branding and marketing to help businesses grow. If you would like to reach out to Peter, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 646-926-6581.
Minneapolis Talk Host Apologizes After Comments About Newtown Families. KTCN, Minneapolis morning drive co-host Bob Davis – half of the Emmer and Davis morning program – apologized to the families of the Newtown massacre almost a week after making comments in connection with the move for gun legislation. According to a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, on April 12 Davis said, “I have something I want to say to the victims of Newtown or any other shooting, I don’t care if it’s here in Minneapolis or anyplace else: Just because a bad thing happened to you doesn’t mean that you get to put a king in charge of my life. I’m sorry that you suffered a tragedy, but you know what? Deal with it, and don’t force me to lose my liberty, which is a greater tragedy than your loss. I’m sick and tired of seeing these victims trotted out, given rides on Air Force One, hauled into the Senate well, and everyone is … terrified of these victims. I would stand in front of them and tell them, ‘Go to hell.’” The paper reports that a couple of days later he tried to explain his comments, then four days after that issued an apology for the “pain those words may have caused.” Sandy Hook, Connecticut resident Bob Greene posted a comment on the Star-Tribune website and sent Davis an email offering to pay his air fare for him to come to Connecticut and repeat the words he said in front of the Newtown families. Greene says he has not had a reply from Davis. The paper’s report of the incident notes the program lost one advertiser over the affair.
Sabo Sez: Regardless of No-Buy Lists, Controversy Is Good for Radio and Should Be Sold as Such. According to noted radio consultant Walter Sabo, for decades TV shows promoting murder, violence, unmarried sex partners (Gilmore Girls) and anal bleaching (TMZ), have commanded high rates for spots from General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Sony, Verizon, AT&T and all your favorites. Why aren’t those shows on do-not-buy lists? In a new column posted today, Sabo writes, “It’s because watching those shows is not a profound, intimate experience. Those shows are watched passively. They command no engagement resulting in no complaints. However their content is as ‘controversial’ as any radio show and they have the bonus of a visual component.” Sabo continues, “Listening to a talk radio show is a 100% foreground experience. Unlike music, talking on the radio commands 100% attention. The listener is ENGAGED with the show. The big buzzword at the ad agencies right now is ENGAGEMENT. An emotional listener is an engaged listener. Happy, angry, passionate listeners are worth a premium price per spot.” To read Walter Sabo’s entire piece, click here.
WXOS, St. Louis Pairs Up Anthony Stalter with Chris Duncan for Middays. Hubbard Broadcasting’s St. Louis sports talker “101 ESPN” fills the midday show being vacated by Bernie Miklasz with afternoon drive co-host (and former St. Louis Cardinals star) Chris Duncan and sports talk pro Anthony Stalter. The show will debut on May 1 and doesn’t have a name but WXOS program director Chris “Hoss” Neupert says, “Chris Duncan and Anthony Stalter have proven themselves as show hosts in other time slots, and listeners have really responded to both of them on the air. We’re confident that they will work well together as co-hosts, and we’re looking forward to their show’s debut next month.” Duncan has been with the station since 2011 and most recently was one of the three co-hosts of the PM drive show “The Fast Lane.” Stalter has been with WXOS since March of 2012. He broke into sports radio with Clear Channel’s WDFN, Detroit and served as the station’s on-site producer for Pistons’ broadcasts. He was also a reporter for both Pistons and Lions postgame coverage. As a journalist, he was an NFL columnist for the WashingtonPost.com’s expert panel, “The League,” and he continues to write NFL-related columns for 101sports.com.
CMG Names Russell Lawson GSM for Athens and Gainesville, Georgia Stations. Russell Lawson moves up from Cox Media Group’s news/talk WOKV, Jacksonville where he’s been an account manager for the past five years to become the general sales manager for the company’s Athens and Gainesville, Georgia stations that include: country WNGC, news/talk WGAU, AC WGMG “Magic 102.1,” CHR WPUP “Power 100.1,” adult hits WXKT “103.7 Chuck FM,” and sports talk WRFC “960 The Ref.” Cluster VP and general manager Scott Smith states, “We are excited to have Russell join our team and to be able to tap into CMG’s top internal sales talent. His multi-faceted experience in a variety of radio sales situations, and dedication to his craft, will make him an asset to CMG Athens/ Gainesville.”
Times Are Tough Enough – Be a Pro! Sports talk personality Dan Sileo – most recently of Beasley’s WQAM, Miami and Clear Channel’s WDAE, Tampa – writes about his recent mistakes that have left him on the beach as well as the highly publicized departure of a Boston sports talk host. Sileo says he’s learned valuable lessons that other radio personalities should take to heart. Read his piece here.
The Conclave Hires Phil Strider. Conclave executive director Bob Shannon announces radio veteran Phil Strider has been hired to create and sell sponsorships for “Conclave 38: The Learning Conference” scheduled for July 17-19 at the Doubletree Hotel in Minneapolis. Commenting on the hiring, Shannon says, “My ideal candidate needed to have national sales experience, a programing background, and have an intimate knowledge of how special the Conclave is. Phil’s got it all. ” Strider’s background includes independent syndication services as well as management, sales and programming stints at Westwood One; Jones Radio Network; Metro Networks; KZOK, Seattle; and KBPI, Denver.
Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Immigration Reform, Gun Legislation, Internet Tax Proposal, Bush Presidential Library, and North Korea Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/22). The ongoing search for information about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and their motives; new questions about what immigration reform legislation should contain; ongoing legislative attempts to change state and federal gun laws; proposals to change tax laws for internet purchases; the opening of the Bush Presidential Library; and North Korea’s treats against the U.S. and South Korea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.