Clear Channel Faces Suit by Photo Company Alleging Illegal Use. National Photo Group LLC has filed a complaint in United States District Court Western District of Texas alleging Clear Channel radio stations infringed on its copyrights by using pictures of various celebrities on the websites of some of its radio stations. The complaint names 11 CC radio stations and alleges photos of celebrities including Jason Aldean, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore and others were used without permission and with knowledge that the photos were copyrighted. NPG is seeking $150,000 per infringement plus legal fees and any other relief the Court deems just and proper.
WCBM, Baltimore Extends Talk Host Tom Marr’s Contract Through 2017. Baltimore talk radio institution Tom Marr will be heard on WCBM through 2017 as the station’s vice president, Nick Mangione. Jr., announces the station extends his no-cut contract for another four years. The official announcement was made June 24 by WCBM program director and operations manager Sean Casey at the start of Marr’s show that day. Mangione, Jr. states, “I am delighted we have reached the agreement on the extension. To quote my late father, Tom is still at the top of his game both as a broadcaster in general and talk show host in particular. We are delighted he will be on the air until 2017 with WCBM and he just may decide to stay longer. There will always be room for him in the WCBM family. Tom has a good sense for the business. As an example, he is the first one to suggest that we add both Sean Hannity and Mark Levin to our lineup. Tom has a large following within the reach of our 50 thousand watt transmitter and is building a solid national and international following on WCBM’s worldwide reach via the internet.” Marr, who began his career as a high school sports broadcaster on WWDC-AM, Washington, DC in 1960, says, “I am deeply honored that Nick and the Mangione Family Enterprises agreed to the extension. I look forward to the challenges ahead for talk radio and its increasing role in the media especially in view of our relationship with the digital world.”
WBZ-AM, Boston Names Jen Brien Overnight Talk Host. After the retirement of Steve LeVeille last year, the station has been featuring a number of talk radio personalities in the overnight slot. Now, program director Peter Casey announces Jennifer “Jen” Brien is named to the permanent position. The station says the program “will be a mix of pop culture, current events, politics, and the comings and goings of people in New England.” In addition to WBZ-AM’s monster signal that penetrates the entire East Coast at that time of night, the show can be heard on CBS Radio’s Radio.com. Brien joined WBZ from Entercom’s crosstown news/talk WRKO where she hosted a daily program. She has also hosted shows on WPRO and WHJJ in Providence, and WCOD and WXTK on Cape Cod. Before beginning her career in radio, Brien spent more than five years as a soldier in the United States Army where she was selected for the prestigious “Soldier of the Year” award.
SiriusXM Cancels Long-Running Alex Bennett Show. One of modern talk radio’s true pioneers, Alex Bennett, has reportedly been let go “without cause” from SiriusXM Satellite Radio‘s “Sirius Left” channel where he was doing the daily 7:00 am to 10:00 am program. Bennett has been with Sirius for almost a decade and, according to insiders close to the host, was caught by surprise and is “distraught” over what transpired. Bennett has had a colorful, unique on-air career that goes back to the late-1960s when he was the lone talk show host on the old WMCA, New York when it was still the “Home of the Good Guys.” He subsequently went on to do both rock music and talk broadcasting serving as one of the original prototypes for the pop culture-oriented (some call it “shock jock”) and “progressive” genres of modern day talk radio. Between WMCA and Sirius, he served in ground-breaking stints at such great stations as WPLJ in New York and KMEL, KITS (“Live 105″) and KQAK (“The Quake”) in San Francisco. At press time, it is not clear if this was a cost-cutting move on the part of Sirius or indicative of a re-direction in programming. Bennett is still on the air and is reportedly doing his final program for the satellite radio service this Friday. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “In my opinion Alex Bennett is one of the most important talents ever to grace a microphone during my lifetime. His show on WMCA — in which he did extremely progressive talk about the issues of the day such as the Vietnam War – was on a station that was otherwise a hip music station. In the midst of all the fun, cool hipness of the rock ‘n’ roll and the zany DJs of that fabulous station, Bennett was fearlessly talking to the kids about extremely important controversial issues. That show served as the original inspiration for me to launch an issues-oriented talk show (“Harrison’s Mic”) five years later on rocker KMET in Los Angeles and my own talk career that paralleled my music radio work. If I had not heard Alex Bennett in 1969, there might not have ever been a TALKERS magazine.”
HOLLAND COOKE: The Future of AM/FM in the Car. Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports from the Consumer Electronic Association’s Connected Car Conference in New York City and her says that the bottom line after “four-and-a-half-hours of thoughtful discussion, research, and prognostication by automotive, electronics, and media thinkers: Whatever the dashboard is about to morph into matters less to AM/FM radio than what’s already happened.” Cooke writes that people who matter have already connected their media to the car speakers and offers some thoughts about what radio programmers can do to stand out from the digital competition. Read his analysis here.
SummitMedia to Pull the Plug on Sports Talk In Birmingham. SummitMedia announces it will drop the sports talk format on WZNN, Birmingham “97.3 The Zone” and flip to a different – most likely music – format. SummitMedia EVP and COO David DuBose tells the Birmingham News, “We have been evaluating the sports format in light of multiple factors, including [Paul] Finebaum‘s placement. After nearly two years, it became clear the market did not support two competing sports stations. “Therefore, we have determined we should focus on other format opportunities.” SummitMedia purchased the Birmingham cluster from Cox Media Group earlier this year. The station was flipped to sports in August of 2011 when Cox had its eye on building the station around mega-successful Southeast sports personality Paul Finebaum by bringing him over from Cumulus Media’s crosstown sports WJOX. Finebaum, who’d had legal squabbles with WJOX and wanted out of that relationship, ended up working out his contract there, sat out a non-compete and will begin a new sports talk radio venture with ESPN based out of Charlotte. It’s believed he will return to WJOX via ESPN syndication when the new program debuts later this summer.
Bonneville Seattle Brings Unique Talk to MyNorthwest.com. The Bonneville Seattle cluster that includes news/talk KIRO-FM, sports KIRO-AM and talk KTTH is beginning a series of unique audio programs to the web venture it calls MyNorthwest.com. Dubbed “MyNorthwest Chats,” the weekly, one-hour programs will stream on Wednesday’s from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm beginning with today’s chat featuring nationally acclaimed restaurateur Tom Douglas. MyNorthwest.com editor Stephanie Klein says, “We’re excited to have the opportunity to connect our readers directly to the experts and start an inspiring dialogue that makes an impact. We want the conversation to spark a chain of discussion in our readers’ lives.” Other chats lined up for July include talk show host Michael Medved and Seattle Mariners insider Shannon Drayer.
Programming Changes at WGN, Chicago; Turi Ryder to Exit. Chicago radio pro Turi Ryder has been in the late night slot at Tribune’s WGN, Chicago since the beginning of this year but now the company says it’s going in a different direction and will end her program. Ryder will get a chance to say goodbye to her WGN listeners as she’ll work this evening and Thursday before wrapping things up there. The station has not announced what will air in the time slot. Ryder also hosts “America Weekend” for Envision Radio Networks.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM, Providence Tackles Immigration Issue with Live Debate. News/talk WPRO-AM’s Tara Granahan is moderating a debate that will take place today at the Providence Marriott from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm called, “Green Light on Green Cards,” featuring a panel of experts from each side of the illegal immigration issue. The discussion will be streamed live online at the station’s 630wpro.com and will be the center piece of a “WPRO Special Report” scheduled to air during the “WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti” the week of July 1. The debate features two immigration lawyers, a state representative, a member of the local clergy and the head of an illegal immigration enforcement organization. The stations states, “The debate will address the issues that have emerged from illegal immigration including; licenses for illegal immigrants, how immigration effects the Rhode Island economy, and potential solutions moving forward.”
TeleSouth Communications to Buy WOSM, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. TeleSouth operates the Mississippi talk radio network known as “SuperTalk Mississippi” and the purchase of WOSM, Ocean Springs (103.1 FM) – between Biloxi and Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast – will be added to that network. The company states, “The addition of WOSM to the network will give coast listeners the best choice in Mississippi programming with ‘The Gallo Radio Show,’ ‘The JT Show’ and ‘Head to Head with Matt Wyatt and Richard Cross,’ all homegrown programs that keep a watch on state government, entertainment, sports, unique happenings in Mississippi, with a local take on national issues.” In addition to Mississippi-based programs, ‘SuperTalk’ is also home to Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee and Compass Media Networks’ Lars Larson and Todd Schnitt. WOSM is owned and operated by Charles Cooper and airs Christian programming. TeleSouth CEO Steve Davenport states, “We are excited about growing the ‘SuperTalk Network’ with the addition of WOSM. Mr. Cooper has worked hard for years building an audience loyal to traditional family values. We are confident that WOSM listeners will hear those values in the programs featured each day on ‘SuperTalk.’” Long-time coast talk show host and programmer Kipp Greggory will serve as general manager of WOSM.
CHQR, Calgary Talk Host Dave Rutherford to End Daily Show. Canadian talk show host Dave Rutherford will wrap a 21-year career hosting a daily talk show at CHQR, Calgary after his last show on July 26. The conservative personality and pedigreed newsman tells the Edmonton Journal he believes the broadcast news industry is dumbing down and there may be no place for a broadcaster like him. “I don’t think there’s the desire to ask the next question, maybe to ask any questions. But I sense that the whole industry, the broadcast news business, television and radio, is dumbing down.”
The End of the Line for CNN Radio. The service was a shell of its former self after Dial Global ended its distribution of the news product and replaced it with NBC News Radio last year, effectively becoming a digital-only product. Now, CNN states that after completing “a review of its radio business,” it “has made the decision to cease production of CNN Radio podcasts, effective immediately.” CNN has indicated that some of the staff will be relocated to positions elsewhere in the company.
Allen Hunt to End WSB, Atlanta Program. Christian broadcaster Allen Hunt announces he’ll end his Sunday evening program that has aired on WSB, Atlanta since its inception after the June 30 broadcast. Hunt says he was approached by Cox Media to move the time of his program and he decided that due to his busy schedule with the Dynamic Catholic Institute and the requested change, he decided it would be better to end the show. Hunt built the program at WSB and, for a couple of years, put the show into national syndication.
The Roving Jay Mohr Billboard. Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr’s flagship station, “AM570 FOX Sports LA” (KLAC, Los Angeles) surprised Mohr with a mobile billboard promoting his program. While Mohr was on the air, the billboard stopped by the studio during its route through Los Angeles and the show crew seized the opportunity for a quick photo-op. Pictured here (from l-r) are: intern Ben Haley, technical producer John Ramos, social media producer Matty Cox, assistant producer Justin Frosburg, Mohr, update anchor “Diamond” Dan Beyer, associate producer Mike Lingard and executive producer Greg “Hong Kong” Toohey.
Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Bruce Bradley Dies. Bruce Bradley was a personality on CBS Radio’s KMOX, St. Louis from 1986 to 1992. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he passed away on Saturday, June 22 in Lake St. Louis at age 79. Prior to his career in St. Louis, Bradley also worked in the New York, Philadelphia and Boston markets.
President Obama’s Global Warming Policy, SCOTUS Gay Marriage Rulings, George Zimmerman Trial, Paula Deen Freefall, and Texas Anti-Abortion Bill Fails Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/25). President Obama’s policy to bypass Congress to enact greenhouse gas emissions regulations; the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage issues; the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the demise of Paula Deen’s media career in the wake of allegations of racist language; and the failure of anti-abortion legislation in Texas were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Chris Miller
Chris Miller Digital
SHAKER HEIGHTS — I can tell that we radio folks are more stressed out than ever, because I’ve been in on a few conversations recently where the subject was how people out there don’t understand the value of radio anymore. That’s a change from the previous sentiment, which was that we just needed to get more compelling content on our websites and in our social media. The feeling seems to be now that we have to make potential fans and clients understand what we’re all about, and what we offer.
Then, I see here in TALKERS (10/17) last Wednesday that Bonneville in Seattle is putting one of their key on-air people “in the driver’s seat for bringing unique, local content to both KIRO-FM and the company’s digital space, MyNorthwest.com.” So wrap your head around this. Linda Thomas, who’s been part of KIRO-FM’s morning drive news block … that’s morning drive in the 13th largest market … is moving online. That’s a real commitment on Bonneville’s part.
Creating Content Available Nowhere Else at Bonneville Seattle. News/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle and parent company Bonneville announce a changing role for “Seattle’s Morning News” anchor Linda Thomas that puts the radio personality and journalist in the driver’s seat for bringing unique, local content to both KIRO-FM and the company’s digital space MyNorthwest.com. Bonneville says Thomas will “devote 100% of her time and energy to original enterprise reporting for radio and digital channels in a groundbreaking new role announced today by KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest.com. As senior features reporter at KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest.com, her role is to meet intriguing people and tell their stories. In her role as digital journalist, Linda will continue her award-winning blog and file original reports to MyNorthwest.com covering topics from parenting and politics to technology and trends.”
During numerous presentations at industry gatherings, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison has stated that what radio must do to survive this convergence of media and the changes in consumer behavior it is fostering, is to create content that is only available in one place – your radio station. KIRO’s move combines this notion with the concept of a “media station” – a digital destination for unique multi-media content. Bonneville’s radio and digital news director Peter Gammell says, “Original local reporting is what fuels KIRO Radio’s conversations and drives our users to visit MyNorthwest.com. Linda has a proven ear for the compelling story, and she’s one of our most prolific reporters. This role frees her to focus on what only she can do.”
Thomas relishes her opportunity to pursue her journalistic endeavors. “I believe everybody has a story, and I want to know what’s yours. I meet so many people whose stories have value, and someone hearing or reading them is going to have their life changed by their bravery and originality.” Program director Larry Gifford states, “I’ve always been impressed with the compassion in Linda’s reporting. She finds real, interesting people in the community, has a personal conversation with them and shares what she’s learned. I can’t wait to hear who she introduces me to next.”
Thomas will continue her popular “News Chick” efforts. Tweeting and posting on social media as “The News Chick,” Thomas is among the most-followed local journalists in the U.S., according to Bonneville. The company says she promises her social media followers on Twitter @thenewschick and Facebook will continue to be fed her customary stream of sharable gems. “The value of social media for me is connecting – in real life when possible – with people in the community, and being there when they want to interact with me.” In addition to her longer-form radio and online feature reporting, social media are where she will continue sharing viral videos, photos, links to eye-catching stories from Seattle to Hollywood and around the world — along with Thomas’ famed fascination with her boots.
Cumulus Media Inks Agreement to Buy New York Market FM. Pending approval from the FCC, Cumulus Media will have a third New York City station after closing on Family Stations, Inc.’s WFME, Newark, New Jersey. Cumulus states in a press release that it will announce format plans for the Class B FM at 94.7 upon closing and expects that to happen sometime in the fourth quarter of this year. Crain’s New York Business cites an industry insider saying Cumulus got WFME for a bargain: $40 million. Family Stations has undergone changes during the past year and is said to be cash-strapped after Family Stations chief Harold Camping’s apocalyptic predictions on the date of Christ’s reappearance last year failed on two occasions. CEO Lew Dickey says, “This strategic acquisition of our second FM in the nation’s largest market will enable us to provide compelling new programming for our listeners and a powerful marketing vehicle for our advertising partners.” Of course, although Cumulus is remaining vague about the specifics of its programming intentions with the new acquisition, industry observers are actively speculating as to what might be in store for the Big Apple’s soon-to-be competitive commercial FM. For years, through several ownerships, WABC program directors have privately confessed that they wished talk-formatted WABC had a NYC FM outlet for its programming. But the fact that its only sister FM, hot AC WPLJ (95.5) has been such a consistent ratings and revenue success put up a roadblock to that happening easily. Now with the New York talk market in flux per Clear Channel‘s soon-to-be-completed takeover of WOR and Cumulus launching new high-profile syndicated talk shows such as Mike Huckabee and Geraldo Rivera, and with the end of their contracts with Premiere Networks‘ Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity shows looming – it makes sense that they would be looking for a new Gotham outlet for their considerably valuable talk properties. Of course, this is just speculation.
Tavis Smiley Takes on WBEZ, Chicago in Open Letter After Public Station Cancels Weekend “Smiley & West” Program. Talk media personality Tavis Smiley wrote an open letter to Chicago Public Media president and CEO Torey Malatia after the station cancelled his weekend program “Smiley & West,” co-hosted by Princeton professor Cornel West. In the letter, Smiley reacts to his work being called “less than inclusive” and being compared to Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly but Malatia in response to WBEZ cancelling his program. Read the entire letter here.
KTTH, Seattle Announces New Schedule; Names David Boze AM Drive Host. Beginning in January, Seattle talk radio personality David Boze will have a new role with the Bonneville talk station. Boze currently does a one-hour program at 3:00 pm on KTTH that serves as a local hour between Salem Radio Network’s Michael Medved and Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity on the station. In January, Boze will host the three-hour morning drive show and bumps Premiere’s Glenn Beck from the AM drive slot on the station. Bonneville Seattle program director Larry Gifford states, “David is a stand-up guy with a traditional Northwest sensibility. He’s someone you’d want as a neighbor – who happens to host a great radio show. He always leaves me better informed and mentally energized.” Boze, who began his talk radio career as a producer for Peter Weissbach at KVI in 1999, has been with KTTH for 10 years. He says, “I try to live my life with the same traditional values as my listeners do; decency, liberty, hard work, and doing what’s right. I want to create a friendly gathering place where people can digest the news and we can talk about important stories that other media misinterpret or miss altogether.”
Talk Radio’s Unique Sales Advantage. H & H Communications president Al Herskovitz says the unique place talk radio occupies in the stew of formats is that it is a foreground format that brings a better value to its advertisers. This is not a new concept but Herskovitz writes that talk sales staffers can be very creative in taking advantage of this in bringing new categories of advertisers to the format. “It would be hard to believe that the Rolls Royce manufacturer or even the local Rolls dealer would want to buy a spot in that Sunday 5:30 am auto show,” Herskovitz states. “But an Atlanta station saleswoman I know did sell that very program to a salvage yard in her market coupled with a weekday spot package and a handful of promos. Now that’s creative salesmanship!” Read Al Herskovitz’s entire piece here.
WHNZ, Tampa to Add Sports Talk from Fox Sports Radio. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WHNZ, Tampa – currently airing a combination of brokered local shows and syndicated news/talk fare, begins adding Fox Sports Radio content to the station beginning with the overnight “J.T. the Brick” program airing from 1:00 am to 5:00 am. In 2013, the station plans to add FSRN’s “Petros & Money” and “Fox Sports Tonight” programs to the lineup. Program director Steve Versnick states, “We are excited to launch the powerful brand of Fox Sports Radio on WHNZ in Tampa Bay. This adds star power to the station for us.”
Fox Sports Radio Changes “Loose Cannons” Lineup; Vic “The Brick” Jacobs to KLAC Duties. The trio of Pat O’Brien, Steve Hartman and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs – known as the “Loose Cannons” on Fox Sports Radio Network – will continue with just O’Brien and Hartman as Jacobs has been re-assigned to the sports news updates role at flagship KLAC, Los Angeles. He’ll also serve as a reporter covering Lakers basketball.
Second Presidential Debate, Libya Attack Investigation, Malala Yousufzai Case, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, MLB Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/16). The second presidential debate from Hofstra University on Long Island; the ongoing investigation and controversy over the attack on the Banghazi consulate; the case of Pakistani wounded teen Malala Yousufzai; Iran’s nuclear weapons program; and the Major League Baseball playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.