Tag: "Minnesota Public Radio"

Monday, July 23, 2012

| July 23, 2012

Aurora Tragedy Sparks and Challenges Talk Radio.  There are few events that news/talk radio programmers in the age of cutbacks fear more than a major story that captures the entire nation’s consciousness breaking on a weekend when their stations’ key stars are off and brokered or syndicated “how-to” shows are on.  The Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre came very close to being such a story, except that it technically broke on a Friday morning, giving weekday hosts the opportunity to at least address it in the early stages of information being available and programmers a full day to organize a weekend strategy.  This type of blood-chilling, high-drama story takes days to develop as information slowly disseminates amidst knee-jerk speculation, leaving a number of news/talk outlets incapable of fully diving into it on a Saturday and Sunday when personnel is at a minimum and “regular” programming takes a break from core stationality.   Regardless, the industry has had all too many unfortunate chances to learn from this problem in recent years and according to TALKERS monitors across the country and conversations with programmers, there was a far better state of readiness to appropriately handle the Aurora tragedy than for similar instances in the past.  Initial reports indicate that the main topics and debates being fueled by this mega-story are gun control, violence in entertainment, and the relationship between mental illness and crime.  There has also been strong interest in talking about appropriate parenting prompted by the fact that a child and an infant were in attendance at the midnight movie.  As an example of news/talk radio taking control of this situation, Salem Radio Networks VP of programming, Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “On SRN News, we gave the shooting priority coverage — including three hours of Special Reports — and we are featuring perspective from Murphy Wells, a KNUS, Denver reporter who is part of the local morning show at KNUS with studios in Aurora. Also Larry O’Connor, editor-in-chief of Breitbart.TV guest-hosted a special edition of the Hugh Hewitt show on Friday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET focusing exclusively on the deaths and injuries in the shootings.”   At WGN, Chicago, program director Bill White tells TALKERS, “On Friday Jonathon Brandmeierlead with the story throughout his morning show after it broke during our live overnight show.  Jonathon spoke with witnesses who were in the multiplex when the shooting occurred and authorities from Aurora, and he actually confirmed the death count to 12 before most media outlets.  He also took calls from Chicago and throughout the Midwest as listeners coped with the tragic news.”  In Boston at Greater Media‘s WTKK, program director Grace Blazer says the station was live and local from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm both Friday and Saturday.  “We ran the important new conferences from Denver with President Obama and Mitt Romney.  We spoke with reporters live from Denver plus local experts such as Jack Levin, Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern University and author of several mass murder books, and Ty Burr, film critic from the Boston Globe, who discussed violence in the Batman movies.  On Saturday, Paul Ferrazzani, a registered instructor from the Firearm Safety Academy in Medford, Massachusetts gave listeners the inside scoop on our gun statutes.”

Fox Sports Radio and Mile High Sports Remember Colorado Shooting Victim.  By now, most of us who work in the media are aware that one of the victims of Thursday’s movie-theater shootings was a young woman named Jessica Ghawi who had just missed being a potential victim of a similar shooting in Toronto in June.  The San Antonio native had interned at Lincoln Financial Media’s KKFN, Denver earlier this year and was due to speak with Mile High Sports Magazine editor-in-chief Doug Ottewill about her sports media career the next day.  On Friday, Mile High Sports and Fox Sports Radio talk host Peter Burns spoke with Fox Sports Radio’s “Loose Cannons” about Jessica.  Burns told the program’s listeners, “Her mom told me early this morning, ‘I want you to talk as much as you can.  Celebrate everything that Jessica did, and celebrate everything that these victims did.’  And I’m glad that you guys are giving me the time to celebrate that and talk about how amazing of a person she is, rather than giving a minute or 30 seconds to this coward that did this.”  Burns recounted how Ghawi wanted to set up a charity to help the victims of the Colorado wildfires and was working toward that goal when her life ended tragically on Thursday night.

Cox Media Group Realigns Corporate Management to Fit New TV Signals and Announces Radio and TV Properties to Be Sold.  Twenty-seven radio signals in six markets are going on the block as Cox Media Group announces a realignment of its business strategy that will include the sale of several TV operations and some corporate officer changes to dovetail with the recent acquisition of several TV stations.  The only spoken-word format up for sale is the new sports talk FM WZNN, Birmingham that had been part of the Paul Finebuam-Cumulus contract dispute that’s since been settled.  The rest of the signals are music FMs and AMs or ethnic outlets in Birmingham, Alabama; Greenville, South Carolina; Hawaii; Louisville, Kentucky; Richmond, Virginia; and Southern Connecticut.  There are five TV signals in four cities going on the market.  As to the corporate structure changes, former group VP Kim Guthrie is named Cox’s new senior vice president responsible for radio markets, and former Austin American-Statesman publisher Jane Williams is the company’s new senior vice president responsible for TV markets, both reporting to Bill Hoffman, EVP over broadcast.  Other additional leadership changes effective immediately include: former group VP Rich Reis who becomes VP and GM of digital operations reporting to EVP Neil Johnston; former group VP Ben Reed is now VP and market manager of Atlanta radio reporting to Kim Guthrie; former group VP Jay O’Connor, as previously announced, is the new VP and GM at KIRO-TV, Seattle.  EVP Mike Joseph continues to oversee CMG’s newspaper operations and CMG Ohio.   Cox Media Group president Doug Franklin states, “This simplified structure will enable CMG to capitalize on continued growth and synergies, while retaining its size financially.  All of our media outlets, regardless of size, are valuable, profitable brands with strong futures thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented professionals who serve their audiences, advertisers and communities.  We thank the leaders and employees in the locations we’re selling for their outstanding contributions to this company over the years and the valuable service they will continue to provide their respective communities.”

Cuts Hit St. Paul-Based American Public Media.  MinnPost.com’s David Brauer reports 10 employees of the St. Paul, Minnesota public radio company American Public Media are being let go as the organization deals with the changes in the contemporary media business.  Brauer reports engineer Rick “Scooter” Hebzynski, public relations staffer Christina Schmitt and digital archivist Jenel Farrell are three of the casualties and that Current.org is saying “Marketplace” D.C. chief John Dimsdale also is being let go.  Minnesota Public Radio CEO John McTaggart writes to staffers in a memo: “There’s no question today’s constantly changing media landscape presents challenges, but we at APM also see opportunities.  The changes we are making today are really about APM’s future and help to position us for future audience service and growth.  We are reorganizing around two key areas: content and development.  We are aligning our priorities to focus on two main divisions that create value for our audiences and cultivate vital relationships with our members, donors and funders.  The result is a more streamlined organization design that gives us a strong footing as we look ahead.”  To that end McTaggart announces MPR COO Dave Kansas leads the content division SVP and chief development officer Randi Yoder heads up the development division.

Longtime KFI, Los Angeles Traffic Reporter Recovering After Crash.  Los Angeles traffic reporter Mike Nolan suffered fractured ribs and a broken collar bone in the Friday evening crash of a Cessna single engine plane he was piloting near the Corona Municipal Airport.  KFI’s Neil Saavedra tells the Los Angeles Times Nolan was flying with a student and family friend – who was not seriously injured – when the crash occurred in Riverside County.  Saavedra tells the paper Nolan – a KFI employee since the mid-1980s – had more than 40 years of experience as a pilot.  He was headed home to land in time to take off again for his two last traffic newscasts when the accident took place.  The plane lost power and hit electricity lines.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  WTKK, Boston talk host Doug Meehan is broadcasting live from Camp Harbor View this Thursday morning to help raise awareness and funds for the special camp that offers hundreds of children who live in Boston’s at-risk neighborhoods the opportunity to have fun and learn at summer camp.  Thursday’s broadcast will feature coverage of the camp’s 5k road race event…..WFAS, Westchester, New York talk host Lisa Wexler, whose program airs live on the station from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm daily, will have her show re-broadcast  from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm daily beginning tonight.  WFAS GM Marty Sheehan says, “We are very proud of all that Lisa has accomplished in the short time she has been with us.  We want to meet the demand to hear more of Lisa and introduce more of our audience to her show.”…..Sports USA is making the Little League World Series U.S. Championship and International Championship games available to radio stations across the country.  The games are being played the weekend of August 25 and 26.  Ad sales are being handled by Skyview Networks.

Sirius About Fantasy Football.  Sports talk hosts and celebrities invaded the Hard Rock Café in New York City’s Times Square over the weekend for SiriusXM’s Celebrity Fantasy Football Draft broadcast.  In addition to SiriusXM talk hosts Steve Phillips, Jay Thomas, Scott Ferrall, Steve Covino and Rich Davis, celebrities including actor George Wendt, guitarist Zakk Wylde and Jaguars running back Maurice Drew-Jones took part in the promotion.  Pictured here are DirecTV/Premiere Networks talk hosts Nick Di Paolo and Artie Lange who also took part.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

| August 23, 2011

Fairness Doctrine Taken Off the FCC’s Books. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced on August 22 that the agency has removed some 83 rules that it deems outdated, including the controversial Fairness Doctrine that hasn’t been enforced since the Reagan Administration but remained “on the books.” Genachowski stated in a release, “The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction. As I have said, striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead. The Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago. I am pleased we are removing these and other obsolete rules from our books.” (August 23, 2011)

CBS Radio Detroit Splits Sports WXYT-AM/FM; AM 1270 to Go News/Talk. On Monday, September 12, CBS Radio ends the simulcast of sports talk on WXYT-AM/FM and launches Talk Radio 1270 WXYT. CBS says in a release, “Home to lively conversation and debate, the talk station will focus on the issues affecting Americans with an edge that doesn’t exist in Detroit talk radio today.” The program schedule is: Charlie Langton in AM drive followed by Premiere NetworksGlenn Beck; Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham; Compass Media NetworksTodd Schnitt; Genesis Communications Network’s Jason Lewis; and TRN’s Rusty Humphries. CBS Radio Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “I’m extremely excited about the launch of this new station. It will take an edgy and engaging point of view about issues on listeners’ minds.” Local attorney and media veteran Charlie Langton’s morning drive show is described as one that “will not only cover the issues Detroiters care most about, but he’ll be asking the questions listeners want answered from the major newsmakers. More than that, Langton will bring talk radio that’s not only informative but highly entertaining. Langton is a regular contributor to FOX 2 and WWJ-AM.” Langton hosted an evening show at WXYT years ago during its last incarnation as a news/talk-formatted station. (August 23, 2011)

WBAL, Baltimore Names News Director, Program Director. Mark Miller announced his resignation from the Hearst news/talk station last month where he serves as director of news and programming. To replace him, the station brings veteran Baltimore newswoman Merrie Street in as news director and hands the programming reins to sister rock WIYY-FM PD Dave Hill. Street has been out of radio for the past 10 years working in other aspects of the communications field. WBAL general manager Ed Kiernan tells the Baltimore Sun Street brings a wealth of experience to the station. (August 23, 2011)

WIBA, Madison Adds Mitch Henck to AM Drive Show. Henck already hosts “Outside the Box” with Mitch Henck from 8:00 am to 11:00 am each day. Now he becomes part of the morning drive show alongside Robin Colbert, John Colbert, Phil Dawson and NBC 15 meteorologist Charlie Shortino. Henck fills the void left by Dick Alpert who stays with Clear Channel as director of traffic for the Milwaukee and Madison markets. Clear Channel Madison AM operations manager Tim Scott says of Henck, “Mitch is a star in this market. He knows Madison and South Central Wisconsin and the people who live here know him. It’s a perfect extension of his talents across WIBA.” (August 23, 2011)

Minnesota Public Radio Icon Gary Eichten to Retire. Eichten has been host of the “Midday” show at Minnesota Public Radio for 20 years and has served at MPR for more than 45 years. Now, he says he’ll retire from the organization in January. After announcing his plans to retire, the award-winning radio host said, “I’m going to really miss this. I love the work, I love the organization. I had the opportunity to watch this place grow from a little baby radio station in Collegeville to the greatest radio station in America.” Eichten says he hopes to do some special assignments for MPR after his retirement becomes official in January. (August 23, 2011)

WFAN, New York Announces Fantasy Phenom Challenge II Winner. Staten Island resident John Jastremski wins the CBS Radio sports station’s Fantasy Phenom Challenge II contest and will get a weekly talk program on WFAN, New York beginning next month. Last year’s winner, Gregg Sussman becomes a part-time employee of WFAN. Jastremski was one of 500 participants in the contest to try to prove he or she has what it takes to be a WFAN host. The contest was whittled down to five finalists over the course of the summer who ultimately competed on Mike Francesa’s show during the Summer Beach Party remote on August 19. The other four finalists will each receive on air shift on WFAN. (August 23, 2011)

KCSP, Kansas City Raises Cash for Local Salvation Army Children’s Shelter. Entercom sports talk KCSP, Kansas City – 610 Sports Radio – helped raise more than $174,000 during the Larry Stewart Memorial Radiothon. KCSP personalities Nick Wright, Bob Fescoe, Josh Klingler, Danny Parkins and Mark Carman broadcast from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm on August 18 to raise funds for the Children’s Shelter founded by local philanthropist Larry Stewart who was known as Kansas City’s “Secret Santa.” KCSP program director Ryan Maguire says, “In sports it’s about winning and losing and the real winners are the children of Kansas City. The response from our listeners was amazing. Thousands of donations were made by listeners via phone, on the internet and in person. We beat last year’s amount by nearly $65,000 and because of the generosity of 610 Sports listeners more Kansas City children will get the help they need.” (August 23, 2011)

Libya Unrest, U.S. Debt Concerns/Markets Activity and 2012 Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/22). The status of Moammar Gadhafi and his sons as Libya continues to roil in unrest, the U.S. debt problems and activity in the financial markets and the GOP contenders for the 2012 presidential race were all among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. (August 23, 2011)

All in the Family. Premiere Networks talk show personality Andy Dean (standing), host of “America Now,” chats with “Coast to Coast AM” host George Noory (seated) in the Los Angeles studios of Premiere Networks. Noory made an appearance on Dean’s new program to discuss such disparate topics as the 2012 presidential election, the existence of UFOs, the 9/11 truth movement and more. (August 23, 2011)