SiriusXM Reports Positive Q1 with Revenue Up 12%; Company Involved in Digital Dashboard Technology Rollout. That 12% percent increase over the same period a year ago is on revenue of $897 million. New permanent CEO Jim Meyer had every reason to be bubbly during his first investor conference call as official chief executive officer of the satcaster. He reports the company grew its subscriber base to a new record high on new subscriptions of 453,000 during the quarter. From a financial perspective he stated, “We are proud to have achieved the highest suggested EBITDA margin in the history of the company in the first quarter. We expect to achieve a 30% adjusted EBITDA margin this year, up from 27% last year and we continue to target 40% plus margins over time. You will see us move over the next few years to become one of the highest margin businesses among major media companies in the United States. Our ability to convert the bulk of that EBITDA in the free cash flow is also unmatched in the subscription media world.” He said the company is riding the “tailwind in the new car market as it recovers.” Meyer told investors the company is committed to having the best content, spoke about new channel additions as well as new talent joining the company and mentioned talk host Michael Smerconish. Addressing the specific question about GM’s plans for its future “digital dashboard,” Meyer said he couldn’t talk about any one manufacturer’s plans but was able to state, “I believe GM is on a leadership strategy in terms of where I believe the auto industry will go in general. And that is, I believe, over a mid and long period of time — you can define how many years that is — you will see automakers move to what I will call embedded connectivity that will be LTE-based that will give them lots of options for what they want to do for their customers and their vehicles. I think it’s very important that Sirius XM participates in that rollout of technology as it occurs over the next three to seven years and that’s exactly what we’re all about when we referred to our connected-car strategy. This is something that…I want to reiterate again today, that we’re moving and reprioritizing a lot of our technical resources and frankly now our commercial programming resources towards making that goal happen as we go out over time.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. You can read the whole shebang here.
Tom Wheeler Gets Nod from Obama for FCC Chief. On the political side of things, many Democrats wanted to see President Obama select a woman for the post being vacated by Julius Genachowski, but the president nominated a man with a telecommunications background who was very helpful in getting him elected. Politico reports that managing director of Core Capital Partners, Tom Wheeler, (along with his wife) worked Iowa for six weeks straight during the president’s first campaign. Although Wheeler will get some grief from those who are suspicious of his past tenure as a lobbyist with both the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industry Association), he has experience in the industry having founded numerous cable and communications services businesses. National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith states, “NAB welcomes the nomination of Tom Wheeler as chairman of the FCC. He has the experience and temperament to serve the agency with distinction, and we look forward to working with him.”
Talkers New York 2013 Approaching Sellout Today. At the present rate of registration bookings, all available seats to the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 will be sold out by the end of business today (5:00 pm ET). The 16th annual installment of the talk industry’s longest-running and most important annual convention has broken the record for reaching advance registration earlier than ever before. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “We are amazed and gratified that this conference has reached a sellout almost five weeks in advance of its actual date, which is a testimony to the vibrancy of the talk format and the enthusiasm of the industry that produces it.” The one-day, power-packed event takes place on Thursday, June 6 in New York City between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. It features a speaker roster of more than 50 industry leaders from programming, sales, talent, management, technology and ownership. Registration ($199 for all events and food services) is open exclusively to members of the working media and can only be booked by phone with credit card. Call 413-565-5413. For complete registration and sponsorship information including an up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.
Walton & Johnson Take Over Mornings on KPRC, Houston. Just four months after the Walton & Johnson [John Walton (left) and Steve Johnson (right)] morning show was dropped from Clear Channel’s classic rock KKRW, Houston “97.3 The Arrow,” the program is brought back to the Houston airwaves as the new morning program on the company’s news/talk KPRC. The duo was replaced on “The Arrow” by longtime St. Louis radio personality J.C. Corcoran. Clear Channel Houston director of AM programming Bryan Erickson says, “We are thrilled to have Walton & Johnson back on KPRC. They have a proven track record of great ratings and we look forward to them continuing that success on KPRC.” Walton & Johnson made KPRC their flagship beginning in 2007 but moved to “The Arrow” in 2009. Off KPRC as a result of the move is Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo who is based at Clear Channel’s WOAI, San Antonio and is heard there and on other Clear Channel news/talk stations.
Armstrong & Getty to Join KFMB, San Diego in June. Morning show duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty will be heard in the San Diego market beginning June 3 as their program bumps current morning host Mike Slater to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. Armstrong & Getty are based at Clear Channel’s KSTE, Sacramento and heard in other markets in Northern California including San Francisco on KKSF. This is a big move for the duo as they are added to a non-Clear Channel station – Midwest TV’s KFMB. Program director Dave Sniff states, “Like any great radio morning show, Armstrong and Getty have that unique ability to not only connect with the listener but to become their companions. They fit in amazingly well among the great storytellers that are part of 760 KFMB’s character and lineage. They’re not so much a ‘talk show’ as a ‘mock show.’”
Cox Media’s WOKV, Jacksonville Adds 104.5 FM Signal. Market news/talk powerhouse WOKV got a little more powerful as Cox Media Group gives the 104.5 FM signal long-occupied by now-defunct rock station WFYV to the station to boost its coverage of the region. WOKV program director Mike Dorwart says, “Our listeners told us loud and clear that we needed more power. Moving to 104.5 FM means that, for the first time, our listeners can hear us crystal clear, everywhere in northeast Florida, both day and night. The most noticeable improvement will be heard by listeners in Baker, Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau counties. They now have full coverage from WOKV, 24/7, on 104.5 FM. Duval residents will also hear a big difference, especially those who listen at work. Our new signal also gives reliable coverage to listeners in Flagler, Putnam, Bradford, Union and Columbia counties in Florida, as well as Camden and Charlton counties in Georgia.” The station has been simulcast on the 106.5 FM frequency but that class A FM is much smaller. WOKV will continue to be heard on 106.5 as the company directs listeners to the new 104.5 frequency.
Five Critical Steps for Radio to Achieve Success with Online Video. Noted media consultant and TALKERS columnist Walter Sabo outlines five crucial pointers that radio broadcasters should keep in mind when utilizing video in their digital initiatives. In a column posted today (5/1) he suggests: 1) bad equipment is usually the best; 2) online video is NOT television (TV); 3) 80% of all videos are watched within 72 hours of posting; 4) most of the biggest stars of the internet (“webstars”) are self-cast; and 5) late evening is the best time to post. To read the entirety of this timely and informative article, click here.
The End of an Era for Knoxville News/Talk; Country to Take Over 100.3 Frequency. With Journal Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Oak Ridge FM’s news/talk WNOX, Knoxville about to close, the company is preparing to move the country format currently heard on its WCYQ to the much stronger 100.3 signal currently occupied by news/talk on WNOX. A country simulcast will begin tomorrow on the two FMs (5/2) and the news/talk programming now on WNOX will move to Blount Broadcasting’s WKVL, a daytime AM at 850.
KTRS, St. Louis Newest Affiliate for Envision’s ‘America Weekend.’ The weekend news/talk radio program being nationally syndicated by Envision Radio Networks announces CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis is the latest station to add the programming to its weekend offerings. Envision calls “America Weekend” “the winning antidote to bad brokered programming and tiresome ‘Best-of’ shows. Hosted by Paul Harris, Rick Roberts, and Turi Ryder, ‘America Weekend’ is designed to increase ratings while providing an innovative system for maintaining or even increasing revenue from brokered programs. The flexible ‘America Weekend’ system provides the perfect platform to break away for sports and other special programming as needed. Since ‘America Weekend’ is broadcast live via satellite, it is able to stay current by addressing breaking and developing stories of national interest as they happen. The program airs live each Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET.”
Fargo Stations Sales Close: Fargo-Moorhead Radio Cluster to Midwest Communications; Triad Broadcasting Group to Larry Wilson’s L&L. The sales of both of these Fargo market station groups were announced last year and were approved by the FCC months ago. Now the transactions close with Wausau, Wisconsin-based Midwest Communications taking ownership of the former Fargo-Moorhead Radio cluster that includes: news/talk KFGO, sports KVOX, CHR WDAY “Y-94,” country KBVB “Bob FM,” talk KRWK “101.9 Talk FM,” and adult hits KMJO “Popster FM.” Midwest Communications vice president of programming Jeff McCarthy tells the Forum of Fargo Moorhead he doesn’t anticipate any immediate programming changes. Larry Wilson, whose Alpha Broadcasting operates stations in Portland, Oregon, also is a principal in L&L Broadcasting and his company is closing on Triad Broadcasting’s stations that include: oldies KQWB “True Oldies,” classic rock KPFX “The Fox,” hot AC KLTA, country KVOX “Froggy 99.9,” full service KBMW, and rock KQWB “Q98.” Triad vice president and market manager Michael Brooks also tells the paper he does not anticipate any immediate changes.
WEEI Names John Ryder to Red Sox Broadcast Team; Grande and Merloni to Handle Fill-In Role. In announcing John Ryder’s ascension to a permanent role on Red Sox broadcasts as host of pre- and post-game coverage, the company says, “Ryder has been with WEEI since 1998 and is a regular contributor to the ‘Planet Mikey’ show, in addition to hosting ‘Red Sox Review’ and ‘Celtics Rewind’ after Sox and Celtics games.” The company is also announcing that Sean Grande and Lou Merloni will join the broadcasts filling in for Dave O’Brien, who will miss Monday night games during the season due to his responsibilities for ESPN. Grande has been the voice of the Boston Celtics since 2001, after having served as the TV voice of the Minnesota Timberwolves for three years. Merloni is currently co-host of the “Mut and Merloni” show on WEEI 93.7 FM. Merloni also enjoyed a nine-year professional career in Major League Baseball, the first five with the Red Sox. Entercom Boston vice president of programming Jason Wolfe says, “John has done a stellar job in every role we’ve had for him and has absolutely earned this promotion. He’s hosted the pre- and post-game shows for the Sox many times before and was a natural choice for us to fill this important job. Sean’s play-by-play experience speaks for itself. He’s one of the greats in the industry right now, and Lou’s expertise is second to none. There’s no baseball man in Boston who knows the Sox better than Lou.”
Odds & Sods. Result Radio’s Christian contemporary KJJK, Fargo will flip to sports talk on Monday, May 6 using programming from Fox Sports Radio Network including Dan Patrick, Jay Mohr and the “Loose Cannons” with Pat O’Brien and Steve Hartman. The station will continue to serve as a Minnesota Twins affiliate…..Personality J.D. Hayworth – co-host of the “Hacksaw & Hayworth” show on sports talk XEPRS, San Diego – does some news/talk fill-in work this week when he sits in for Cumulus Media Networks host Michael Savage tonight through Friday from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. He’ll also sit in for the company’s Mike Huckabee tomorrow from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET…..Bouyed by coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Texas fertilizer warehouse explosion, cable news/talk channel CNN has improved in the ratings compared to the same period a year ago. Based on April Nielsen numbers as reported in Deadline.com, CNN saw its total day viewers number rise 79% compared to April 2012. CNN was also up in prime time, achieving an 81% increase in total viewers over the same period a year ago. The network was able to climb over MSNBC into second place behind Fox News Channel in both ratings categories.
Benghazi Cover-up Investigation, ObamaCare Effects, Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Slow Job Growth Reports, and Immigration Legislation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/30). New inquiries into the Benghazi attack; the effects of the Affordable Care Act; the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and the search for possible co-conspirators; newly released reports indicating slow job growth in the United States; and debate over immigration legislation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Arbitron Shareholders Approve Acquisition by Nielsen Holdings N.V. At yesterday’s special meeting of stockholders, Arbitron’s shareholders voted to approve the acquisition of the company by Nielsen Holdings N.V. with 98.99% of the shares voting in favor of the agreement and plan of merger. These shares represented approximately 77.11% of total outstanding shares of Arbitron common stock as of the March 8, 2013 record date for the Special Meeting. As previously announced on December 18, 2012, Arbitron Inc. and Nielsen Holdings N.V. entered into a definitive agreement for Nielsen to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Arbitron for $48.00 per share in cash. The deal remains subject to certain regulatory approvals, including expiration of the Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust waiting period, and customary closing conditions.
Dial Global Closes on Recapitalization. Dial Global first announced plans to enter into recapitalization of its existing credit facilities, other obligations and equity interests back on March 4. Now, it reports it has entered into an Amended and Restated Credit Agreement with General Electric Capital Corporation, as administrative agent and collateral agent on a “First Lien Credit Agreement,” which, after taking into account a $15 million paydown, consists of a term loan of $136 million and revolving credit commitments of approximately $23 million, $18 million of which is drawn. The maturity date for that is October 21, 2016. DG also states it has entered into a Priority Second Lien Credit Agreement with Cortland Capital Market Services, LLC, as administrative agent and collateral agent, Blackrock Kelso Capital Corporation, as syndication agent and as the lender party for an additional $31.5 million term loan facility, with a maturity date of July 21, 2017. The Company issued to Blackrock penny warrants to purchase 7.5% of the Dial Global common stock. The Second Lien Credit Agreement was a restructuring of the existing approximately $93 million in second lien obligations and was accomplished by amending and restating the Second Lien Credit Agreement to provide for a $30 million term loan with a maturity date of April 16, 2018 and exchanging approximately $63 million in remaining obligations under the prior Second Lien Credit Agreement for a new Series A preferred stock of the Company. Lenders received penny warrants to purchase 12.0% of the Company’s common stock and 12.0% of the outstanding shares of Series B preferred stock, Series C preferred stock and Series D preferred stock. Those will be subject to forfeit, in whole or in part, if the Dial Global retires all or a portion of the $30 million second lien term loan and the Series A preferred stock held by such 2L lenders prior to certain specified dates. As part of these agreements, stockholders of preferred stock and warrants were granted certain corporate governance rights, including the right to elect three directors to the Dial Global’s new eight-person board of directors. The three newly-elected directors are Brian Pope, Marshall Merriman and Ethan Underwood.
Washington Post’s Erik Wemple Examines Smerconish Departure from WPHT. In a piece in the Washington Post, media writer Erik Wemple takes a look at Michael Smerconish’s exit from longtime home base WPHT, Philadelphia for his new employer SiriusXM and, more specifically, Smerconish’s unwillingness to be defined as a dyed-in-the-wool conservative Republican and the CBS Radio station’s move to remain true to the conservative talk radio philosophy. Smerconish debuted this week on the satcaster’s POTUS channel – politics of the United States – that serves those interested in politics in general as opposed to the conservative and liberal talk channels the service also offers. Smerconish is not afraid to criticize what he believes are faults with both the news/talk format or the country in general, telling Wemple, “The problem for the country, I think, is that too many [people] cannot differentiate between entertainment and substance. The country is paying a price for this brand of polarized media…Too many politicians are taking their cues from people with microphones.” Wemple spoke with WPHT GM Marc Rayfield who says Smerconish’s philosophical change over the past few years veered from the station’s objective. He says there’s little passion for “middle-of-the-road.” He also says Smerconish “didn’t serve our core values. We wanted to remain conservative…We had been talking about the direction of the radio station for some time and we came to a mutual conclusion that we were not necessarily the best fit for each other.” Michael Smerconish will deliver the State of the First Amendment address at the Talkers New York 2013 conference in New York on Thursday, June 6. Read Wemple’s piece here.
Radio Legend Jim Bohannon Celebrates 30 Years in Syndication. The lifelong radio broadcaster has been in national syndication with Dial Global and its predecessors for 30 years as of Friday, April 19 when he celebrates that mark. Jim Bohannon began with the old Mutual Radio Network as a reporter and then started filling in for Larry King on his nationally syndicated program. The network was acquired by Westwood One and Bohannon took over for King’s late night slot in 1993. Bohannon recently re-signed with Dial Global (which acquired Westwood One) and will be honored with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from TALKERS magazine at the Talkers New York 2013 industry convention in New York City on Thursday, June 6.
Doug Stephan Adds a Dozen Affiliates. Doug Stephan’s Stephan Multimedia reports the company has picked up a dozen new affiliates for the company’s radio offerings including Stephan’s “Good Day” nationally syndicated morning program, the weekend “Talk Radio Countdown Show” and others. New affiliates include: WNZS, Bangor, Maine; KTPA, Prescott, Arizona; WLBK, DeKalb, Illinois; KLEY, Wellington, Kansas; KMAS, Shelton, Washington; KVPI, Ville Platte, Louisiana; KXAR, Hope, Arkansas; KKLE, Winfield, Kansas; KOAL, Price, Utah; KUGN, Eugene, Oregon; WICO, Ocean City, Maryland; and WTIM, Taylorville, Illinois.
Media Management Group Expands into Network Syndication; Warren Eckstein’s Pet Show Joins Initiative. Longtime WOR, New York and WOR Radio Network personality Warren Eckstein returns to national syndication via Media Management Group’s new MMG Radio Network division. The syndicator reports Eckstein’s “The Pet Show” launched on Saturday, April 6 on more than 100 stations. Additionally, Warren’s “Pet Tip” can be heard daily on more than 200 stations. MMG also announces the new network will be led by Alan Eisenson, MMG’s EVP of business development. MMG states, “Eisenson has a 23-year background successfully programming news/talk radio stations in New York, Denver, Las Vegas and, most recently, Clear Channel’s news/talk properties in Sacramento and San Francisco.” On the new initiative, Eisenson says. “As the industry environment continues to evolve, the opportunity presented itself to acquire some of the format’s top talent in various niches. We’re thrilled to have seized that opportunity. We’re honored to be working with an accomplished pro like Warren Eckstein, and excited by the array of top caliber talent to come as we expand the network.” The MMG Radio Network says it will eventually include 12 hours of programming produced weekly and tailored for stations’ weekend lineups. The programs will also include a broad roster of digital elements, making them completely customizable for listeners to consume exactly when and how they wish.
Seton Hall University Radio Station Honors Alumni Glenn Schuck and Bob Windrem. Two alumni of Seton Hall University’s radio station WSOU, South Orange, New Jersey “The Loudest Rock” were honored at the station’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony this past Saturday. WINS, New York reporter Glenn Schuck (left) and NBC News producer Bob Windrem (right) were inducted during WSOU’s 65th anniversary dinner, which drew more than 200 people together to celebrate the station’s birthday. Some of the attendees included station alumni Bob Ley, Anthony Delia, Bill Rock, Full Metal Jackie, Pete Tauriello, Christina Stoffo, Frank Garrity, Mike DePippa, Joe Guzick, Mark Mitchell, and Gary Susalis, among others.
Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Gun Legislation Proposals, and Teen Rape/Suicide Cases Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/16). The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing was the dominant story on news/talk radio across the country on Tuesday. Other stories that registered included proposals for gun legislation and the high-profile cases of young teens allegedly raped who then committed suicide. The top stories are the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Salem Communications Joins iHeartRadio. The latest broadcast group to join the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment digital media platform is Salem Communications. The company’s 97 stations in 37 markets will become available on iHeartRadio beginning in September. Salem radio division president David Santrella states, “It’s important that our content be available to our listeners no matter where or how they want to receive it. Clearly iHeartRadio is a dominant player in the space and we are excited to be able to offer our content on the platform.” In contract to the secular broadcast companies that have signed on with Clear Channel’s platform, Salem brings Christian-formatted radio stations into the mix. Salem director of digital media Rodney Whitaker says, “We are looking forward to the launch of our partnership with iHeartRadio and the increased audience it will bring us, both online and through the mobile app. It’s clear they are dedicated to innovation and providing listeners with an ever-improving experience.”
No FM Signal for Clear Channel’s Boston News/Talker. At the time it was announced the company was purchasing Phoenix Media Group’s WFNX, Boston, some industry watchers suspected Clear Channel would take the 101.7 frequency of the former alternative rocker and give it to news/talk WXKS – Talk 1200. The recent revelation the company acquired call letters WHBA seemed to indicate that would not be the case and it turns out it is not. Yesterday, Clear Channel unveiled variety hits “The Harbor” with the airing of the Standells’ ode to Boston, “Dirty Water.”
Augusta, Georgia Talk Host Austin Rhodes Celebrates 20 Years in PM Drive at WGAC-AM/FM. The station tells TALKERS magazine talk host Austin Rhodes’ 20-year stint as host of the PM drive show on Beasley Broadcasting’s WGAC-AM/FM, Augusta is the longest-running drive time radio presence on one station in the history of the Augusta media market. Rhodes’ media career began 29 years ago assisting the late Matt Stovall in his radio broadcasts of local high school football games with WMTZ in Augusta. He began a full-time career in radio broadcasting in 1987, as a radio news reporter and anchor for WGAC. In 1989, Austin moved to television news, where he stayed until 1992. On July 16, 1992, Rhodes rejoined WGAC, assuming afternoon hosting duties for what was then, “Voice of the People.” The station also notes that Rhodes has been regularly named Augusta’s favorite radio host in such publications as Augusta Magazine, The Metro Spirit and Columbia County Magazine. He’s also been recognized by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.
Prime Program Director Job Open at Cox Media Group’s KRMG, Tulsa. With longtime KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa programmer Drew Anderssen moving to the company’s WDBO-AM/FM, Orlando, CMG is looking for a program director for the legendary news/talk outlet. The station says, “This position demands a candidate with the ability and experience to lead a dynamic, veteran news department and programming staff. Because of this station’s profile locally and nationally, only candidates with the highest level of execution, creativity and leadership will be considered.” The deadline for application is August 12 and interested applicants should apply to: Janet Bergquist, Cox Media Group – Tulsa, 7136 S. Yale Avenue, Suite 500, Tulsa, OK 74136. Or e-mail cover letter, resume and audio to: firstname.lastname@example.org. CMG requests no phone calls.
WQAM, Miami PM Drive Host Dan Sileo Joins Hurricanes Post-Game Show. Sports talk host Dan Sileo – who hosts the PM drive show on Beasley’s sports talk WQAM, Miami and played football at the University of Miami during the mid-1980s – becomes part of the broadcasts for Hurricanes football this season. Sileo will be on the team that handles the post-game show. He tells TALKERS, “It is an awesome honor for me to be part of a program that I helped build and I have incredible love for the University of Miami. My daughter will be going to games with her dad this year…a dream come true.”
Raising the Demo. Talk radio hosts and programmers should avoid the temptation to narrow their “target demo” to a number, says consultant Holland Cooke. “Recently published Nielsen data affirms what you may have suspected all along: The vaunted 25-54 demo is malarkey. Although only 5% of ad dollars are aimed at ‘em, 35-64 accounts for half of product purchases.” Cooke writes that the key to making the sales department happy is cutting through the clutter and being “remarkable” to people who have children, of any age, still living at home. Read Holland Cooke’s piece here.
KXNT-AM/FM, Las Vegas Adds Slate of New Weekend Shows. CBS Radio’s news/talk outlet KXNT-AM/FM, Las Vegas announces a number of new weekend programs to be heard on the station. The lineup is as follows: Saturday, 9:00 am, “The 19th Hole Weekend Edition” with Dennis Silvers and TPC Summerlin general manager Lee Smith; 11:00 am, “Pet Talk with Dr. B”; 2:00 pm, “Pawn Talk Live with Michael Mack”; 3:00 pm, “Asked and Answered” with Las Vegas personal injury and criminal defense attorney Marc Saggese; 4:00 pm, “Debt Free LV with Chris Parker”; 5:00 pm, “Over and Under with Chad Forster” covering local and national sports; Sunday, 3:00 pm, “Real Estate Live with Kevin Mikrut”; 5:00 pm, “Get Fired Up with Bob Irwin” – all things guns, politics and self defense.
ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt Extends His Deal with the Sports Media Giant. The new contract means ESPN personality Scott Van Pelt will add several on-site “College GameDay Built by the Home Depot” appearances throughout the football season. He will travel to some of the “GameDay” locations in support of his features, interviews and reports related to the game, teams and players involved. He will also be part of ESPN’s BCS Championship Game coverage. This is in addition to Van Pelt’s duties as “SportsCenter” anchor and his ESPN Radio talk show. He is also lead reporter and host of the network’s major golf coverage, including the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.
KFKA, Greeley, Colorado Adds Local Sports Talk Show. Broadcast Media’s News Talk 1310 KFKA in Greeley, Colorado announces the addition of “SportsDay” with Troy Coverdale and Brady Hull to the daily lineup, airing from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm beginning August 6. Coverdale is the voice of the University of Northern Colorado Bears play-by-play and Hull is the station’s sales manager who has been a steady presence on the station’s air since 2008 with prep sports coverage. In a release, the station says, “With a heavy focus on local sports teams, including expanded preps, UNC and Colorado State coverage, ‘SportsDay’ is expected to fill a hole in the marketplace, as Northern Colorado has seen sports talk programs come and go over the past 10 years.”
Aurora Massacre Aftermath, Presidential Campaign, Tax Cut Issue, European Debt Crisis, and Financial Markets Activities Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/24). The aftermath of the Aurora; Colorado movie theater massacre; the presidential campaign; Congressional moves regarding the Bush-era tax cuts; the debt crisis in Euro Zone nations and global financial markets activities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Former XEPRS, San Diego Hosts Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith. Sports talk hosts Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith were fired by XEPRS, San Diego – XX Sports Radio 1090 – in February after Kaplan made derogatory comments about the appearance of Mountain West TV Network sports personality Andrea Lloyd. Kaplan and Smith contended they were let go in violation of their contract which outlined a process by which the station was to address content issues in case of a disagreement. An arbitrator – retired Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn ruled in the hosts’ favor and has awarded the two more than $490,000 in damages based on their respective salaries, commissions, endorsements and incentives as provided by their contracts. U-T San Diego (for which Kaplan now works co-hosting an online TV show called “Scott, B.R. + Amber”) reports Kaplan and Smith feel vindicated with Kaplan stating, “I feel vindicated. They breached the contract. I knew that from the beginning. There was a lot of embarrassment that came with the termination. I spent 11 great years on the radio…I loved what I did and I loved who I worked for.” XEPRS has not paid the duo yet and has filed a motion asking Quinn to reconsider her decision.
NPR Hires Lobbying Firm to Fight GOP Effort to Defund CFPB. Congressional Republicans are again organizing efforts to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and NPR is hiring the lobbying firm Navigators Global to help shut that down. The Hill reports NPR spokesperson Dana Rehm says that the organization is a content provider but is also a trade organization representing member stations. “It is part of our mission to represent the interests of NPR member stations to Congress, executive, regulatory and judicial bodies. At a time when the federal government is running a large deficit, every program and function of the government deserves to be scrutinized, and a review of federal funding to public broadcasting is fair and to be expected.” Rehm says the firm’s job is to explain “how the federal investment in public radio stations and larger public broadcasting system provides one of the most effective returns of any program authorized by Congress.”
Talk Radio Rises to the Occasion in Covering Aurora Massacre Aftermath. The natural progression of the analysis and coverage of the killing of 12 and wounding of dozens of others at the Aurora, Colorado premiere of “Dark Knight Rises” continues and talk radio is rising to the occasion to serve its listeners with compelling and responsible discussion. Examples of talk outlets rising to a high level of performance through the use of experts in the fields of psychology, law enforcement, media violence, gun control and more are being reported to TALKERS from all over the country. Here two examples of similar coverage: Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt featured an interview with shooting victim Pierce O’Farrill, who was hit three times by bullets from the shooter’s gun. O’Farrill described live on the air the chilling events at the theater, his perspective on the gunman, the death penalty, and his visit with President Obama. XtreMedia president Kevin McCullough tells TALKERS several of his company’s programs – his own Kevin McCullough show, the Saturday evening “Baldwin/McCullough LIVE” broadcast and the Sunday night Dani Johnson show spent the bulk of their collective platforms allowing hurting, confused and stunned listeners to respond to the attacks. Actor Stephen Baldwin took time out from a publicity tour in neighboring Cheyenne, Wyoming (90 minutes from Aurora) to meet with those in Aurora whose lives have been touched by the shootings. While there, CNN‘s Don Lemon asked Baldwin (see photo) to weigh in on his perspective of the events. Baldwin told CNN, “It may be time for those of us in the Hollywood community to re-examine how we advance violence through films, television, and video games. It also blows my mind that someone could purchase 6,000 rounds of ammo in 45 days. I’m a gun enthusiast but a red flag should’ve gone off somewhere.”
Progressive Town Hall Forum in Seattle. Premiere Networks syndicated talk host Randi Rhodes (center) was one of eight panelists who took part in “Showdown 2012: Recapturing Democracy,” a progressive town hall forum presented by Seattle’s Progressive Talk AM1090 (CBS Radio’s KPTK) at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington on Saturday, July 21. Rhodes appeared on a panel focused on the evolving role citizens play in the political and public policy process, including strategies to protect our role in democracy and to build a better future for everyone. Panelists in this picture are (from l-r): Congressman Jim McDermott, WYD Media talk host Thom Hartmann, talk host Mike Papantonio, Compass Media Networks talk host Norman Goldman, Rhodes, talk host Sam Seder, talk host Ron Reagan, and panel moderator David Postman, former chief political reporter for the Seattle Times.
KESN, Dallas Renews Contract with Cowboys Great Drew Pearson. ESPN O&O KESN, Dallas – ESPN Dallas 103.3 – announces it is renewing its deal with Dallas Cowboys great Drew Pearson for another season. Under the terms of the contract, Pearson will join “Ben & Skin” co-hosts Ben Rogers & Jeff “Skin” Wade on Mondays from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon, do Friday call-ins to the “Galloway and Company” show, and co-host the “5th Quarter Cowboys” post-game show. Pearson will act as the “go-to guy” for any breaking Cowboys or NFL news, and do a weekly video segment with “Galloway and Company.” Pearson states, “I am very happy and excited to be joining the ESPN Radio team for my third season as Cowboys/NFL analyst. My role with ESPN provides a platform for me to express my sports opinions and it also allows me the opportunity to continue my association with the ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports’ – ESPN – which to me is priceless.”
Old Friends. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Dennis Miller (r) poses for a shot with former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and co-star David Spade (c) and show promoter Bill Blumenreich (l) at Miller’s recent live concert at Boston’s Wilbur Theater. Spade snuck into the theater and found his way to Miller’s dressing room where they chatted and caught up.
Fox Sports Radio and Yardbarker Enhance Content Relationship. The latter is described by Fox Sports Radio as a sports opinion site and blog network. It’s a property of Fox Sports Interactive Media and now it and Fox Sports Radio Network will begin working together more closely beginning with incorporating FSRN’s “Loose Cannons” into Yardbarker’s content. FSRN states “‘Loose Cannons’ will feature a daily segment with co-hosts Pat O’Brien, Steve Hartman and Vic ‘The Brick’ Jacobs as they take listeners into O’Brien’s ‘backyard’ for all the dirt from Yardbarker. Fox Sports Radio will soon add similar segments across other network programs. In addition, Yardbarker will feature select content from Fox Sports Radio on its website and social media platforms.” Yardbarker VP of operations Jack Kloster states, “Yardbarker is incredibly excited to partner with Fox Sports Radio and to introduce our content to the loyal listeners of ‘Loose Cannons.’ The partnership is a natural fit. Our content is inherently conversational and Fox Sports Radio is home base for sports conversation.”
Geoff Neuhoff Passes Away at Age 59. Neuhoff Communications president and CEO Geoff Neuhoff died Sunday after falling ill suddenly on Saturday. Neuhoff owned and operated stations in rural Illinois including clusters in Springfield and Decatur. The company operated news/talk WSOY, Decatur and sports talk WFMB, Springfield. Neuhoff COO Mike Hulvey tells the State Journal-Register, “Geoff Neuhoff was a giant among small- and medium-market broadcasters. Geoff demanded from all of us a dedication of greatness and excellence no matter the market size or the power of the station. Geoff believed strongly that innovation was the way forward and he embraced new technologies with enthusiasm. He will be missed by his team, but the legacy he leaves behind will last for years to come.” Neuhoff is survived by his wife and three children.
Aurora Movie Theater Massacre, Penn State Penalties, Syria Instability, and European Debt Worries/Financial Markets Activities Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/23). The aftermath of the massacre at the “Dark Knight Rises” showing in Aurora, Colorado; the severe penalties levied against Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal; Syria’s political instability and threat to use weapons of mass destruction; and ongoing concerns over the debt of some European nations and the effect on world financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
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.
By Holland Cooke
MCVAY/COOK & ASSOCIATES
BLOCK ISLAND, RI – FAQ from talk talent: “What’s our target demographic?”
1. NOT 25-54. Recently-published Nielsen data affirms what you may have suspected all-along: The vaunted 25-54 demo is malarkey:
• Although only 5% of ad dollars are aimed at ‘em, 35-64 accounts for half of product purchases.
• Baby Boomers – 80 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — account for roughly half of all packaged-good sales, almost $230 billion. In five years, they’ll control 70% of the USA’s disposable income.
The Future of Tribune Company – and WGN, Chicago – Up in the Air After Bankruptcy Exit. An article in Crain’s Chicago Business offers some speculation – based on interviews with business consultants and Tribune’s court filings – on the future of the parts of the publishing and broadcasting giant. While its only radio property – WGN, Chicago – is not mentioned specifically in the piece, the broadcast division is and the theme of the article is that it appears the parts of Tribune are worth more than the whole and they may be sold off. Tribune is organizing its various newspaper and TV properties into streamlined LLCs in preparation for presenting its reorganization plan to the court next month. One expert states the synergy of print and broadcast never materialized for Tribune and he expects the parts to be sold. Hubbard Broadcasting CEO Stanley Hubbard is quoted saying his company might be interested in the broadcasting properties if the price is right but said he has had no discussions with the company.
Martha Zoller Wraps Radio Show; Is Official Candidate for Congress in Georgia. Georgia-based radio talk show host Martha Zoller did her last radio program for Cox Media’s WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia – talk/sports hybrid Bulldog 103.7 – and is now officially on the campaign trail. Zoller’s last program was May 11 and her campaign announced yesterday, May 23, that she has qualified for the Republican primary for the newly created 9th Congressional District in Georgia which takes place on July 31. She will face State Representative Doug Collins and Jackson Commission Chairman Hunter Bicknell in the open primary. She says in a campaign statement, “For far too long, professional politicians and entrenched bureaucrats have run amuck in Washington without any adult supervision. I am going to Congress to hold Washington accountable and end the reckless spending, borrowing, and debt that is threatening the future of our nation and the security of the American people.” WXKT-FM has not announced a permanent replacement host for Zoller’s late morning program.
CNN Ratings Part of Larger News and TV Numbers Slump. The New York Times’ Bill Carter writes an analysis of the ratings problems plaguing Time Warner’s CNN on the heels of recent record low showings. The cable news network’s Nielsen numbers for the week of May 14 were down – averaging just 395,000 total viewers in prime time – while Piers Morgan’s May 15 program garnered just 39,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic. Carter writes that CNN has been hurt by strong programming from the networks during the May sweeps plus a lack of major breaking news – something that has always helped CNN boost its numbers. But Carter notes that CNN isn’t the only network affected. Even though Fox News Channel is head and shoulders above CNN in the prime time ratings, FNC only grabbed 395,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic during that week – a four-year low for Fox. It should be noted that ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” finale and Fox TV’s “American Idol” performance finale – two of TV’s highest-performing non-sports shows over the past few years, had dramatically lower audiences than the previous year. While “DWTS” had 17.5 million total viewers, that was down 18% from last spring’s finale.
New Media Seminar/NYC on Verge of Quickest Sellout in Conference’s 15-Year History. The combination of a power-packed agenda, one-day format and significantly reduced registration fee have combined to make the upcoming New York City installment of the new bi-coastal, recession-era version of the talk media industry’s annual convention an extremely hot ticket. According to the industry-only event’s organizers at TALKERS magazine, this will be the earliest sellout in its colorful 15 year history. Due to capacity regulations, the selling of registrations for the Thursday, June 7 event will cease at the close of business on Friday of this week. After that, registrations will only be issued on a stand-by basis. NMS director Michael Harrison states, “We are extremely gratified by the positive response to this new ‘austerity version’ of the New Media Seminar. The idea of compacting it into a one-day event, getting rid of the expensive frills, reducing the cost of registration by 75%, and organizing an agenda that can be described as nothing short of relentless, is striking a positive chord in the business. Also, the fact that there will be a West Coast version of the event in Los Angeles on October 11 is an innovation that has been very well received. That one will be a blockbuster too.” To see the full up-to-the-minute agenda of the New York conference, click here. For registration or sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.
Two Local Sports Talk Shows to Debut on KXPS, Palm Springs. CRC Media’s KXPS, Palm Springs (licensed to Thousand Palms, California) announces it will bring two new live and local programs to sports talker Team 1010 beginning June 4. Julie Buehler will host “Buehler’s Day Off” daily from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and Pete Fox joins the station to co-host “On the Air with Fox and Lecair” from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. MyDesert.com reports Buehler is an award-winning radio host who recently worked as part of the Indianapolis Colts broadcasting team. Fox has served as a host and reporter at KSPN, Los Angeles.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Cox Media syndicated talk star Neal Boortz sits in the anchor chair at CNBC filling in for Larry Kudlow on the cable channel’s “The Kudlow Report” tonight at 7:00 pm ET. Boortz will work with co-host and CNBC chief international correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera…..WNRP, Pensacola afternoon drive talk host Brandon Rathert wins two awards – a local Edward R. Murrow Award for “Investigative Reporting” and an Associated Press award for “Best Public Affairs” for the documentary he produced on the local sheriff’s office…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment ups Matt Derrick to regional program manager for the Wilmington, Delaware and Salisbury, Maryland markets…..The actual price Clear Channel is paying for Stephen Mindich’s WFNX-FM, Boston is $14.5 million, a bit more than the $11 million we reported after the story broke.
2012 Presidential Race, Facebook IPO Investigations, Egypt Elections, and Pakistan Jails bin Laden Tracker Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/23). The battle between Republican challenger Mitt Romney and President Obama; the complex controversy over the Facebook IPO and the lawsuits it appears to be creating; the elections in Egypt; and the jailing of the doctor who aided the U.S. in finding Osama bin Laden in Pakistan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Jeff Katz Welcomes Israeli Talk Host. WXKS, Boston – Talk 1200 – morning drive host Jeff Katz (l) is pictured here with Ari Abramowitz (r) – the leading English-language talk show host in Israel. Katz tells TALKERS Abramowitz stopped by the program to say hello while visiting the United States and Katz forced him to check out the two Associated Press awards he recently won!
CNN Ratings Cause for Concern at Headquarters. The executives at Time Warner and subsidiary CNN/U.S. are displeased with cable news/talk channel CNN’s performance in the April Nielsen ratings after much time and money has been spent tweaking the programming there. The New York Times’ Brian Stelter reports that sources say Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes has made his dissatisfaction with the channel’s performance known to his subordinates. Over the past 18 months CNN has made numerous programming changes including replacing Larry King with Piers Morgan in the 9:00 pm ET slot; the addition of Soledad O’Brien as host of the morning show; and a new 7:00 pm ET show with Erin Burnett. CNN has long stated publicly that it delivers a unique news product around the clock with which advertisers like being associated. In fact, the entire CNN unit (including other domestic and international channels) is poised to make a record $600 million in operating profit this year. The company issued the following statement in response to reports about the April ratings. “Despite the perennial ratings stories and quotes from anonymous sources, CNN continues to deliver quality journalism which is uniquely valuable to audiences, advertisers and distributors. In fact, CNN is on track to deliver its highest profits in its history and continues to reach more people on more platforms than any other TV network.” Still, as Brian Stelter writes, “Performance of CNN/U.S. drives public perception — and employee pride — and declines there may gradually damage CNN’s networks as a whole.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison adds, “CNN would probably do better in both ratings and revenue if they stopped obviously competing with Fox News Channel and MSNBC in trying to be entertaining and opinionated concentrating, rather, on really being journalistic on a level not seen for years on American television. There is an opening in the marketplace for such a product a mile wide and a deep need and hunger for it by a significant segment of the public.”
CC Media Holdings Reports Q1 Revenue Hike of 3%. That 2012 first quarter revenue increase comes as CC Media Holdings posts $1.36 billion in revenue compared to the $1.32 for the same period a year ago. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment – which excludes the parent company’s outdoor divisions – was up 6% or $39 million compared to the first quarter of 2011. CC Media Holdings CEO Bob Pittman states, “Since the start of 2012, we have continued to invest in our rapidly growing digital products and services, while strengthening our operations to better serve our marketing partners and our consumers. We have enhanced our ability to help our partners take advantage of the unique size and scale of our media, entertainment and outdoor assets, with a particular focus on multi-platform solutions that no other company is able to deliver.”
KTRS, St. Louis Officially Announces Martin Kilcoyne Midday Host. Monday’s story announced CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis was parting company with midday talk host JC Corcoran and would replace him with KTVI-TV, St. Louis sports director Martin Kilcoyne. The station makes that official with general manager and partner Mark Dorsey stating, “Martin is a proven broadcaster, both in television and radio, and KTRS looks forward to bringing his personality, wit and opinions to the airwaves.” Kilcoyne will assume the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show beginning Monday, May 14. He says of his new gig, “I am thrilled to have an opportunity like this. I’m a sports guy, but I love to talk about all things. The plan is to have a show that St. Louis will find lively, topical and fresh. I’m not Ted Koppel, but I’m also not Ted Baxter.”
First Quarter Positive for Salem Communications. The first quarter of 2012 has been pretty good for Salem Communications and subsidiary Salem Broadcasting. The parent company is reporting an increase of 6.1% on revenue of $54.3 million compared to the same period one year ago. On the broadcasting side, Salem is up 2.9% on revenue of $44 million. Broadcasting still makes up the bulk of Salem’s revenue but digital continues to perform well rising 33% over the same period in 2011 on revenue of $7.4 million. The company is bullish about Q2 projecting a revenue increase of a couple percentage points with a total revenue goal of more than $55 million for the quarter.
Legal Battle May Ensue Over Merlin Media’s Blago Billboard. This billboard pictured here is one of several purchased by Merlin Media in the Chicago area promoting all-news WIQI-FM – FM News 101.1. Crain’s Chicago Business reports Merlin consultant John Gehron commenting on the marketing campaign saying, “We wanted to have something that we thought would be fun and get people’s attention.” And apparently it has. Attorney Sheldon Sorosky, who represents former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich – currently serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption – says the use of Blagojevich’s image may violate an Illinois law prohibiting one’s image from being used for commercial gain without one’s consent. Sorosky tells Crain’s it’s called the Right to Publicity Act and it states, “A person may not use an individual’s identity for commercial purposes during the individual’s lifetime without having obtained previous written consent from the appropriate person or persons.” Sorosky says they have not decided whether to take legal action or not at this point.
Ric Edelman Celebrates 20 Years on the Radio This Weekend. Nationally syndicated talk show host Ric Edelman, host of “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman,” marks 20 years on the radio with his broadcast this weekend. Edelman, an award-winning financial advisor, heard along with financial advisors Brandon Corso and Anderson Wozny, is heard in 56 markets including on WABC, New York; WLS, Chicago; and WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC. He says, “It is a genuine privilege to do this show. As I always say, ‘Money doesn’t come with instructions,’ so I’m honored for the opportunity to share my knowledge with so many listeners from across the country.” Edelman, a member of TALKERS 2012 “Heavy Hundred,” is also seen on public television across the country as his TV program of the same name is in its second season.
Pamela Furr to Join New Atlanta All-Newser. Talk show host and news anchor Pamela Furr confirms via Facebook that she’s headed to Atlanta to become part of the Cumulus Media FM all-news outlet slated for WYAY-FM in a few weeks. The company has confirmed it will turn the outlet into an all-news station soon and obviously has begun hiring. Furr most recently worked full time at Clear Channel’s WPTI-FM, Greensboro-Winston-Salem as co-host of the morning drive show. She’s been freelancing doing news at CC’s WRDU-FM, Raleigh the past few weeks.
Atlanta Business Chronicle to Provide Content for Cumulus’ “All News 106.7.” When Cumulus Media flips the switch on WYAY-FM, Gainesville, Georgia turning it into “All News 106.7,” the Atlanta Business Chronicle will provide exclusive business updates at :20 and :50. In a statement, Cumulus co-COO John Dickey says, “Our partnership with the Atlanta Business Chronicle is consistent with our mission of bringing the most credible news and information to Atlantans 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ABC is the definitive business news brand in Atlanta and 106.7 will be the definitive radio news and information brand in Atlanta.” ABC publisher Ed Baker states, “It’s exciting that intelligent Atlantans are finally getting a much-needed all-news format. We’re very excited to be a part of something new and different. Quality business reporting is more important than ever and this partnership will allow us to deliver something special to our community.”
Cumulus Brings Celebrity News Blogger Perez Hilton Aboard for Nightly Radio Show. At the same time the company announces that the new “Perez Nights Live” will replace Dial Global’s “Billy Bush Show” on stations where it airs and expects the show to debut on about 50 affiliate stations. “Perez Nights Live” will feature Perez Hilton and co-host Adam Bomb and will consist of celebrity news chatter and music. Cumulus co-COO John Dickey states, “Successful contemporary stations all have one thing in common: They keep their listeners on the cutting edge of music and pop culture. Leading stations in our business set trends. Perez doesn’t report on pop culture, he is pop culture. ‘Perez Nights Live’ will take the important evening daypart and turn it into a brand enhancing experience.”
2012 Presidential Race Lands Atop Talkers TenTM for Fifth Straight Week. The 2012 presidential campaign was again the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of April 30 – May 4, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. The race barely beat the case of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng which landed at #2 followed very closely by President Obama’s Afghanistan visit and the government’s release of Osama bin Laden documents tied at #3. The shocking death of retired NFL star Junior Seau came in at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is published each Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart for this week here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup. The “At Home with Bob Vila” feature from Compass Media Networks debuted this week on such signals as KOGO-AM/FM, San Diego; WTKK-FM, Boston; KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; KFNN, Phoenix; and KVON, Napa, California…..Courtside Media Group’s “One Minute Clinic with Dr. Drew” is being aired on Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP-FM, Washington…..“The Small Business Advocate with Jim Blasingame” is picked up by WZFG, Fargo; WHTX, Youngstown; and WGGH, Marion, Illinois….. “The Doctor’s Orders Radio Show” with Dr. Kipp Van Kamp is added to WTKI-AM/FM, Huntsville, Alabama and WEKI-AM/FM, Decatur, Alabama.
Profiling Courage. That’s KIRO-FM, Seattle talk show host Dave Ross (r) pictured with Sgt. Leroy Petry (l). Ross recently interviewed the Medal of Honor recipient for inclusion in the Memorial Day radio special “A Grateful Nation” – a one-hour program produced by the Fisher House Foundation and distributed by Premiere Networks. Sgt. Petry is an Army Ranger who lost his hand while saving two comrades after he grabbed and tossed an enemy grenade during a battle in Afghanistan.
Latest Cable News/Talk Ratings Not Good for CNN. The April Nielsens are not being kind to cable news/talk network CNN. The channel’s total-day viewership average was 357,000 – down 21% compared to the same period in 2011. Ratings in that category haven’t been this low for CNN since August of 2001. “Anderson Cooper 360” led the decline in shows down 26% with 522,000 total viewers in the 10:00 pm ET slot. Other CNN shows with declines in April were: “John King USA” – down 24%; “Erin Burnett Out Front” – down 22%; and “Starting Point” – down 26%. Fox News Channel remains firmly in first place for April with a total-day viewership average of 1.1 million (up slightly) and MSNBC stays in second place with an unchanged 425,000.
Keith Larson Stays with WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte After All. Last week WBT-AM/FM Charlotte late-morning host Keith Larson told his listeners his days with the Greater Media station may be numbered because the station was unwilling to extend his contract but was willing to keep him on the radio as an at-will employee. At the time he said he wasn’t sure he wanted to do that. A week later, he tells the Charlotte Observer he and WBT management have struck a deal to keep him with the station, though he wouldn’t give details about their agreement. He does say, “I’m very happy to be plugging away at WBT. We had a good conversation this week. I’m happy to continue eye-poking at WBT and looking forward to developing Larson Advertising and Media as well.”
WQXI, Atlanta Merges Two Midday Shows into One. Lincoln Financial Media sports talk outlet 790 The Zone – WQXI – combines the “Two Live Stews” show featuring Doug and Ryan Stewart with the Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham show to make “The Red Zone” airing from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. This move comes a week after the station announced it was extending “Mayhem in the AM” to 11:00 am and moving Archer and Bell up an hour to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reported last week, Barnhart and Durham have been the highest-rated show on the station lately but they have other professional obligations which make them all but unavailable during May and June. The “Stews’” ratings haven’t been what they once were and they are not as prominently featured by the station as they used to be. The Stewarts’ agent, Norm Schrutt, acknowledges to the AJC that he’s not happy with the new arrangement but says Doug and Ryan are “team players” and are doing what they are asked. The new show is expected to have a rotating cast of characters along with the four principal hosts. WQXI general manager Andrew Saltzman tells the paper, “This is more topic driven and less specifically host driven.”
Wisconsin Group Seeks Conservative Talk Radio’s Help in Preventing Recall of Governor. An ad hoc group of Wisconsin business people has formed an organization called Businesses for Wisconsin Jobs with the goal of getting conservative talk radio shows from Milwaukee and Madison to be aired in the northern and western parts of the state in hopes those shows will reach enough people to prevent the recall of Governor Scott Walker and other politicians. An article by Brien Farley for Heartland.org, points out how Walker and others have credited conservative talk shows such as WTMJ, Milwaukee’s Charlie Sykes and WIBA, Madison’s Vicki McKenna helped them get elected via their conservative messages. The group hopes to convince other stations in the state to add such shows to their lineups in order to get a conservative message to key voters. WISN, Milwaukee program director Jerry Bott is quoted in the piece saying, “Hosts on conservative talk radio affect public opinion by making a convincing case that conservative principles are powerful, proper and effective. This has an effect on public opinion in areas where conservative talk radio can be heard which, in turn, provides a fertile environment for conservatives seeking public office to be elected.” So far the group claims to have had success getting Vicki McKenna’s program added to WMEQ, Menomonie in the northwestern part of the state. The recall election of Governor Walker takes place June 5.
Stitcher Launches 2012 Election Center to Serve Demand for Political Audio Content. Digital spoken-word content provider Stitcher Smart Radio is targeting users interested in the 2012 political season with the creation of the 2012 Election Center. Stitcher says the channel allows “users to easily follow, listen and engage with political candidates, commentators, pundits and topics that interest them most. From podcasts and candidate speeches, to exclusive content on hot trending topics, listeners can now stay up-to-date on all things election related from one central audio hub.” Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok says, “There’s an avalanche of coverage during election season and it can be tough to get the best information when you need it. We’re rolling out trending topics on demand, a first in the industry. We see this as part of our mission to further the evolution of radio by making it more relevant and accessible than ever.” The service features audio messages directly from the campaigns, commentary from major broadcasters such as Fox News Channel, NPR and CBS News plus the service is integrated with Facebook. Stitcher is employing a transcription technology so users can literally search the bevy of available audio for specific topics by typing in key words. Content creators get feedback from Stitcher about the about the most-sought-after topics.
Nikki Sixx’s Personality-Intensive Show to Air Mornings on KEGL-FM, Dallas. The Premiere Networks distributed “Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx” show will be heard in AM drive on Clear Chanel Media and Entertainment’s KEGL-FM, Dallas beginning May 7. The talk-intensive rock radio show featuring Motley Crue star Nikki Sixx and Kerri Kasem airs in evenings on 90-plus affiliate stations. Now, Premiere will create a customized morning show for KEGL-FM. In a statement, Premiere says, “Each morning on “Sixx Sense,” Sixx will discuss music and lifestyle topics as he gives listeners an exclusive look at the world and mind of a rock star…Sixx will provide his unique perspective and attitude as the duo welcomes celebrity guests, recording artists and fascinating characters from all walks of life.” Sixx himself is quoted saying, “Bringing ‘Sixx Sense’ to mornings has always been our goal. Who better to start your morning with than a rock star and a hot chick? It’s a dream come true to have a morning show on one of America’s best rock stations.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Sports WBNS-FM, Columbus promotions director Todd Reigle takes his bicycle on a five-day ride from Sylvania, Ohio to Cincinnati – an event called the Honor Ride Ohio – to try to reach his goal of raising $100,000 for six veterans’ organizations. The ride will take place from June 30 to July 4…..ESPN’s Mike Greenberg pays his “gambling debt” to co-host Mike Golic on May 8 as loser of the “Mike & Mike” show’s March Madness “Sheets of Integrity Challenge.” Greenberg will dance to “Livin’ the Vida Loca” live on the ESPN Radio program (simulcast on cable’s ESPN 2) with professional dancer Anna Trebunskaya who’s appeared on the “Dancing with the Stars” franchise…..Former University of Florida quarterback Chris Leak (who led the team to a National Championship) joins SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation sports channel where he’ll host “College Sports Coast-to-Coast” along with Chris Childers several nights a week…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment partners with the Ad Council to promote the anti-childhood obesity campaign We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition). The effort involves airing and making visible online a number of public service announcements…..Attorney Ed Gadrix debuts a new weekly talk show on WNJC, Washington Township, New Jersey called “The Eddie Esq. Show.” Gadrix says the goal of his show is to involve more fathers in custody after divorces. Gadrix states, “Divorce courts and the legal system are destroying the next generation of Americans and I hope our new talk show opens up an entirely new dialogue toward changing that system…unless we take a different approach to handling divorce and custody matters, we’re doomed to continue creating children who grow into dysfunctional adults and families.”
2012 Presidential Race, U.S.-Afghanistan Security Agreement, John Edwards Trial, Chinese Activist Case, Junior Seau Death, French Political Situation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/2). The 2012 presidential race; the newly signed U.S.-Afghanistan security agreement; the testimony from John Edwards’ trial on campaign corruption charges; blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng’s appeal to the U.S. to leave China; former NFL star Junior Seau’s apparent suicide; and Nicolas Sarkozy’s fight for his political life in France were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Fox Sports L.A. Meets New Dodgers Owners. KLAC, Los Angeles – AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. covered yesterday morning’s press conference with the new Los Angeles Dodgers ownership — Guggenheim Baseball Management Team. PM drive hosts Petros Papadakis (r) and Matt “Money” Smith (l) are pictured here interviewing L.A. Lakers great Magic Johnson (c), a member of the new ownership group.