By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
ATLANTIC CITY — The 68th annual New Jersey Broadcaster’s Association Conference & Gala in Atlantic City brought together state broadcasters, management, sales and industry leaders for a two-day event that included honoring those who’ve helped to make New Jersey broadcasting great, and new this year, to recognize broadcasters mentoring those considering a career in radio.
The conference opened this week with the theme: “Broadcast Has a New Attitude.” NJBA president & CEO Paul Rotella told Talkers, “We heard from a variety of voices during this conference which provided attendees with the latest and most substantial evolution in research, technology and advancement in audience measurement.” During the conference, the NJBA honored FOX News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano as its recipient of the Howard L. Green Humanitarian of the Year. Also, Greater Media’s Peter Smyth inducted Dan Finn, Harry Hurley, Richard Swetits, and Kevin Williams into the NJBA Hall of Fame.
Profile: John Ziegler of the ‘John & Leah Talk Show.’ TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a profile of talk radio pro John Ziegler, whose weekend program with co-host Leah Brandon is busting out on stations across the country (recent adds include WNYM, New York; WNTP, Philadelphia; and WHAS, Louisville). In this piece, the Envision Networks-syndicated personality talks about his frustrations with the corporate radio business, his work producing documentary films as well as his philosophy of radio entertainment. Ziegler says about this new program, “Our show is about what Leah and I can add to the public conversation that particular week and we are completely unafraid. All we care about is providing three hours of informative entertainment. Our business model allows us the freedom to do things other shows would never do. I am the CEO of the corporation, so this time I cannot get fired and that gives us a huge advantage. No one is over my shoulder telling me not to do something, or that I have to do something a certain way.” Read the entire piece here.
Alpha Media Names Stefan Brock Corporate VP, Interactive. There’s a corporate vice president now in charge of the digital space for Alpha Media as the company announces Stefan Brock is named corporate VP of interactive. Alpha says Brock will “oversee digital strategy, initiatives and the current corporate digital team. Brock’s experience includes time working for Disney Interactive Media Group, Disney ABC Television Group and most recently, Super Mackerel where he served as executive director of product and operations. Alpha says the award-winning exec “has a passion for development of original cross platform digital media products and experiences that unite classic storytelling, original video and the latest in interactive social media technologies.” Alpha Media CEO/president Bob Proffitt adds, “After a long search, we are very lucky and excited to have Stefan relocate to Portland and join our team. Stefan’s experience, intelligence and customer focus was a perfect fit for our live and local strategy, and also the continued evolution of our interactive choices for listeners and customers.”
Monday Marks 10-Year Anniversary of FOX News Radio. On June 1, the FOX News Radio service will be 10 years old. The company says, “When FOX News Radio launched our full-service network on June 1, 2005, we had 24 stations, half a dozen reporters and a plan to bring ‘Fair and Balanced’ news coverage to radio. Now, a decade later, that same full-service network has almost 600 affiliated stations. We have 11 full-time radio reporters spread across the country and around the world, and our podcasts and our presence on the social networks are unmatched by any commercial radio network. And we are still growing.”
Odds & Sods. Beginning Monday, June 1, Radio Spokane-owned KJRB-AM, re-launches as “FOX Sports 790AM.” The station will carry the network’s 24/7 lineup including: “Jay Mohr Sports,” Dan Patrick, Rich Eisen, “Steve Gorman SPORTS!,” “FOX Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman & Mike North,” and JT “The Brick,” as well as the network’s weekend programming…..Beasley Broadcast Group is declaring a $0.045/share quarterly dividend payable July 10 for shareholders of record as of June 30.
Judge Andrew Napolitano to Be Honored at NJBA Conference. At the New Jersey Broadcasters Association conference June 17-18 at Caesars in Atlantic City, FOX News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano will receive the Howard L. Green Humanitarian of the Year Award. Napolitano has been the senior judicial analyst for FOX News since 1998. He appears regularly on both FOX News Channel and on FOX News Radio. The NJBA says Napolitano is “a fierce champion of the First Amendment, particularly freedom of speech, and is nationally known for watching and reporting on the government as it takes liberty and property.” NJBA president Paul Rotella adds, “To be sure, Judge Napolitano’s impressive career and public service include several major accomplishments, but I am most proud of his fearless defense of our industry, the First Amendment, and his ability to bring the law to life for his audience. The Judge will receive this honor at our Awards Luncheon during our Annual Conference in Atlantic City on June 18.”
ISIS Progress in Iraq Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 25-29. The success of ISIS in taking the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the Syrian city of Palmyra and questions about the U.S.’s military policy in Iraq was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was the 2016 presidential prospects and former New York Governor George Pataki’s entering the race. At #3 was the Clinton Family Foundation’s finances tied with the FIFA corruption scandal followed by the Hillary Clinton emails probe and the Benghazi case at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Female AEs Sue Clear Channel Jacksonville Charging Age and Gender Bias. The suit against Clear Channel filed in United States District Court Middle District of Florida Jacksonville Division alleges that three account executives – Angela Myhand, Monique Blue and Jessica Downs – had accounts taken from them by management and given to Caucasian and/or male sales staffers without explanation, without hearing of complaints by clients and without receiving any discipline by management for mishandling the accounts. The plaintiffs also alleged they were given no reason for the actions. After contacting the EEOE, they allege listening devices were installed on their offices phones but not on telephones in other sales staffers’ offices. The three are charging management violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, allege retaliation for involvement in a protected activity plus other allegations and are seeking unspecific damages plus attorneys’ fees.
Envision Radio Networks Adds Meteorologist John Wetherbee to ‘America Weekend’ Program. Citing the need to provide information to listeners across the nation about extreme weather, the nationally syndicated “America Weekend” program enlists the expertise of American Meteorological Society-sealed, National Weather Association-certified meteorologist and 30-year radio veteran John Wetherbee as chief stormcaster. Envision says Wetherbee “will be keeping an eye on the skies to provide live reports on major severe weather developments and how they may impact travel, business and our nation.” Program executive producer Kipper McGee states, “As we have learned, many significant weather events happen on weekends. John adds a unique national perspective that is absent from most weekend news/talk programming.” “America Weekend” airs live each Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm ET and is hosted by Paul Harris, Turi Ryder, and other top talk talent.
‘New Jersey 101.5’ Honored with Two Awards at NJBA Convention. Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” was honored at this week’s New Jersey Broadcasters Association convention with “Best of” awards in two categories: 1) “Best Public Affairs” Award for the station’s monthly show “Ask the Governor.” The award was presented to Eric Scott (left) and his team of Christopher Knight, Chris Swendeman and Matthew White; and 2) “Best Promotions” Award for the “Big Joe Jersey Talent Show.” The award was presented to Ray Handel (right) and his team of Big Joe Henry and Dan Specht.
More Station Honors from State Broadcasters Associations. This is the time of the year when state broadcasters associations hold their annual awards ceremonies and there are two more to report: In Illinois, Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago took top honors at the 2013 Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Awards, held June 19 in Peoria. For the sixth year in a row, the IBA recognized WGN Radio as the Chicago Market Station of the Year at its annual best-in-state awards ceremony. In addition to being named Chicago Market Station of the Year, WGN Radio also earned first place honors in five categories: major market personality for Mike McConnell, best newscast for Judy Pielach, best station website for wgnradio.com, best play-by-play team for Chicago Cubs broadcasters Pat Hughes and Keith Moreland, and best humorous commercial for “Chicago Food and Wine,” produced by Jason Skaggs. WGN president and general manager Jimmy de Castro says, “It is a great honor to receive the award for Chicago Market Station of the Year by the Illinois Broadcasters Association. To be recognized by our industry peers is a reflection of the tremendous talent and dedication from our staff to continue to provide the quality of programming our community expects from WGN Radio.”
In Georgia, Beasley Broadcast Group’s WGAC-AM/FM, Augusta, for the 12th consecutive year, was named the Georgia Association of Broadcasters “Radio Station of the Year.” New this year is the fact that WGAC was honored in the large-market category, which includes Atlanta. For the past eleven years, WGAC was awarded Radio Station of the Year in the medium-market category. Pictured here are (l-r) Beasley Augusta VP/market manager Kent Dunn, news director Mary Liz Nolan, and WGAC program director Harley Drew with the “Gabby” Award. Dunn comments on the victory, “I am extremely proud of the WGAC-AM/FM staff for bringing home our 12th consecutive Gabby for ‘Radio Station of the Year.’ This year is even more special due to the added competition of being placed in the division that includes stations in Atlanta.”
The Sale Doesn’t End When the Client Signs the Contract. According to H&H Communications president, TALKERS columnist and highly regarded industry sales maven Al Herskovitz, the subject of “making commercials work effectively so the client is more likely to renew” was one of the buzzes of conversation in the halls at the recent Talkers New York 2013. In a column posted today (6/21) Herskovitz writes about the deadly consequences of hosts that rush through live reads, spots that are overloaded with too many words, six-minute spot sets of boring ads that seem interminable to the listener and sales reps who don’t pay attention to the process after the deal is signed. He does, however, offer praise to those hosts who ARE doing a good job serving the advertisers and names names. To read Herskovitz’s entire column, click here.
TOM RAY: Listening to Your Syndicated Show on an Affiliate is Different than Listening in the Studio. That’s a good piece of advice from one of the industry’s most respected engineering consultants. In a new column posted today (6/21) by TALKERS technical editor and columnist Tom Ray, he points out that timing in the real world of an actual on-the-air radio station — in terms of commercial breaks and liners — can be a different thing than running the show in the studio or looking at its elements on paper. He says by listening to the show on an affiliate you will most likely learn something that will help you avoid all-too-common mistakes in timing that create sloppy and embarrassing audio pileups and make the show better for both you as a syndicator and the affiliate carrying your program. To read it, click here.
WOOD, Grand Rapids Morning Host Gary Allen Hosts Last Show Today; Retires After 32 Years at Station. On Thursday, Clear Channel Grand Rapids declared it “Gary Allen Day” as the legendary Grand Rapids radio personality broadcast live from the market’s Celebration Cinema North in recognition of his 32 years on the air at WOOD and his retirement from the station after today’s broadcast. Allen announced his retirement eight months ago stating that at age 65 there are still some things he wants to do. He tells WOOD-TV, “I want to be remembered as the guy that people woke up to on the radio in the morning, you have fun, we gave them the news, we gave them the weather, we gave them the traffic and between the group at WOOD, we gave them some laughs, too.” Photo: WOOD-TV
Odds & Sods. WMAL, Washington morning drive co-host Larry O’Connor is sitting in for Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Dennis Miller on June 24 and 25…..And in another WMAL-related note, former Congressman Ernest Istook will host the 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm program tomorrow (6/22)…..Sports USA will syndicate the Little League World Series radio broadcasts again this summer. The company will offer the US Championship Game on August 24 and the International Championship on August 25.
Chancellor Perlman in the House. NRG Media’s KOZN, Omaha “1620 The Zone” hosted University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman on the “Sharp & Benning in the Morning” program for a full hour on Thursday, June 20 to discuss college athletics. Topics covered included pay for athletes, Nebraska in the Big 10 Conference, athletic department salaries and numerous others. Pictured here are (from l-r) Gary Sharp, Perlman and Damon Benning.
NSA Surveillance Program Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 17-21. The National Security Agency’s surveillance of phone and email activities, its ties to stopping terrorist attacks and the making public of the program by former contractor Edward Snowden were the top stories discussed on news/talk radio this week, landing the issue atop the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 was the “Gang of 8” amnesty deal for illegal immigrants. At #3 was President Obama’s Berlin speech and his nukes reduction proposal broached at the G8 summit in Belfast earlier in the week. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Cool Assistant Engineer Job Opportunity! The Dave Ramsey Show has a really good job opportunity for an assistant engineer at the company’s headquarters in Brentwood, Tennessee. If you have experience running a radio type console, have knowledge of ISDN Codecs, are experienced using video and video router/matrix, have knowledge of level3/Vyvx lines and have the ability to learn and take directions — then this job might be for you. For full details about the position and its requirements/opportunities, click
http://www.daveramsey.com/company/view-all-jobs/ and then click on the Assistant Engineer.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “The Freedom Feens” featuring Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi and syndicated by Genesis Communications Network is added to the program schedule at KDGO, Durango, Colorado…..Good Parts Media reports the acquisition of its 100th affiliate. The parent company of “The Hookup,” Mr. Prep and The Locker Room prep services reports it has hit this milestone in only its second year of doing business…..The national syndicated “My Cool Inventions” show with Akos Jankura and John Cremeans is added to the program schedule at WRSB, Rochester, New York and KMET, San Bernardino.
Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Added to Blue Ridge Communications Cable System. The push to get more cable TV carriage for Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze continues and now the company announces it will be carried on Blue Ridge Communications’ system that serves the Poconos and the Central Pennsylvania region. It is the nation’s 21st largest cable operator. TheBlaze also entered into agreements with BEK Communications, Sweetwater Cable Television and Atwood Cable. TheBlaze president, business development, Lynne Costantini, states, “We’re thrilled to welcome these independent operators into TheBlaze family of television affiliates. These businesses understand the value of bringing TheBlaze’s original programming and unique perspective to their customers and their business.” TheBlaze says that customers of these cable operators will now be able to watch its full programming lineup including The Glenn Beck Program, news program “Real News from TheBlaze,” opinion show hosted by Andrew Wilkow, current events show “Pat & Stu” featuring radio personalities Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere, kid’s show “Liberty TreeHouse,” comedy news show “The B.S. of A.,” news magazine “For The Record,” and comical news and current events show “The Wonderful World of Stu featuring Stu Burguiere.” TheBlaze states that it is currently in carriage conversations with all major satellite, cable, telco and independent companies.
WTOP, Washington Stays #1 on List of Top Billing Stations. The annual list of top billing stations according to BIA/ Kelsey has been released and Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington is at the front of the pack once again with $64.6 million in revenue in 2012 – that’s up a fraction from the $64 million it grossed in 2011. The rest of the top 10 – split by CBS and Clear Channel – are as follows (in millions): Clear Channel’s KIIS, Los Angeles ($56.8); Clear Channel’s WHTZ, New York ($48.2); CBS Radio’s WCBS, New York ($47.2); Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles ($46); CBS Radio’s WBBM, Chicago ($45.7); Clear Channel’s WLTW, New York ($43); CBS Radio’s WINS, New York ($41.5); CBS Radio’s WFAN-AM/FM ($41); and CBS Radio’s KROQ, Los Angeles ($39.3).
SiriusXM Sports Talker Dino Costa Subject of New Film. Sports talk radio personality Dino Costa will be the subject of a feature-length film to begin production in April in Wyoming. Chesapeake Films announces that it has started pre-production for a documentary to be completed in 2013 about the life of “controversial SiriusXM Radio personality, Dino Costa.” The documentary film will be directed by Joel Franco, cinematography by Darko Nikolich, edited by Anthony Bernard, sound design by Karol Urban, and original music by Marianthe Bezzerides. The film will begin shooting in Wyoming, where Dino Costa resides and produces his daily radio sports talk show. The crew will then follow Costa to New York, to continue filming Costa’s hometown, friends, fans, and family. Franco says he wanted to do the film because, “Dino is a breath of fresh air in the world of cookie-cutter sports talk radio. He is fiercely independent, and connects with his audience like few can. I just knew that under that big personality was a story waiting to be told. I am so excited to begin.” Costa comments, “When I embarked on my career as a talk show host, I wanted to achieve many objectives; I never thought about the possibility of someone wanting to do a film about my career and my life. In speaking with Joel about his vision for this film, I’m confident that collaborating with the crew at Chesapeake Films will culminate in a documentary about my life that people will find interesting and compelling.”
Villanucci Producer Billy “Fatback” Cornelius Debuts Evening Show on KKOB. The departure of longtime afternoon drive host Jim Villanucci from Cumulus Media’s KKOB, Albuquerque, resulted in evening host Scott Stiegler moving into the PM drive slot. That created an opening in the evenings and Jim Villanucci’s former on-air producer, Billy “Fatback” Cornelius, is now host of his own show airing in the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm time slot. He’ll still produce Stiegler’s program but “Fatback” tells TALKERS magazine, “When asked about the new opportunity, I simply replied, ‘The Fatback Nation will rise.’” His program debuts this evening.
New Jersey 101.5’s Jim Gearhart to Be Inducted into the New Jersey Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Jim Gearhart has been the morning host on Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” for the past 23 years and now he’s being honored by the New Jersey Broadcasters Association with induction into its Hall of Fame. Gearhart will be inducted at the Annual Awards Luncheon, which will be held during the NJBA’s 66th Annual Conference in Atlantic City this June 18-19. NJ 101.5 program director Eric Johnson says, “Jim will be acknowledged for providing quality content, news, public affairs and diverse entertainment to New Jersey. Jim’s contributions to the longevity and success of our industry in New Jersey will be recognized.”
WXOS, St. Louis Host Bernie Miklasz to Leave Radio Gig. Popular St. Louis sports media personality Bernie Miklasz will exit Hubbard Radio’s WXOS “101 Sports” when his contract wraps up next month. In a piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miklasz says he’s leaving the radio show (weekdays 11:00 am to 2:00 pm) to focus on his work with the Post-Dispatch and its STLtoday.com where he’s been a sports columnist since 1989. He states, “I’ve always loved writing more (than radio), it’s my calling. Whatever good things I have in my life professionally have been because of the Post-Dispatch. It has led to other opportunities.” Miklasz says the stress of two jobs is wearing on him. WXOS program director Chris “Hoss” Neupert says, “He’s such a dynamic personality, but at the end of the day how can you be mad at a guy who’s going back to his roots and giving it his all? He wants to do his part to help take an industry that has been down on an upswing. It’s bittersweet (for the station) because what he is doing is very honorable and really cool, so it’s hard to be upset with him. The guy is such an awesome personality.” STLtoday.com hints it will be branching out into audio and video on the website and will use Miklasz for that purpose, as well.
The Conclave Announces Agenda for July Learning Conference. The Conclave announces its preliminary agenda for the July 17-19 “Conclave 38: The Learning Conference” taking place at the Minneapolis/Park Place Doubletree Hotel. Executive director Bob Shannon states, “The very words ‘The Learning Conference’ implies that Conclave 38 will focus on teaching ideas our attendees can actually use. Focusing on what works today and the tools we’ll need for tomorrow, our faculty includes thinkers, visionaries and practitioners in a wide variety of disciplines including digital, marketing, mobile, programming, social media, and talent creation and training.” Some of the speakers appearing this year include: Ivan Braiker/HipCricket, Tim Bronsil/Point to Point Marketing, Jon Chelesnik/Sportcasters Talent Agency of America, Drake Donovan/Splice Video, Joel Folger/Folger Media, Les Garland/Afterplay Entertainment, John Gehron/AccuRadio, Bruce Gilbert/Clear Channel, Phil Hall/Audience Bakery, Michael Harrison/Talkers-Radioinfo.com, Dan Hill/Sensory Logic, Fred Jacobs/Jacobs Media, Randy Lane/The Randy Lane Company, Lori Lewis/Jacobs Media, Kipper McGee/Kipper McGee LLC, Kevin Metheny/Cumulus Media, Chris Miller/Chris Miller Digital, Tim Moore/Audience Development Group, Mark Shannon O’Neill/ROI Media Solutions, Bill Richards/Clear Channel, Larry Rosin/Edison Research, and Walter Sabo/Sabo Media. Shannon reports that this year’s Conclave begins on Wednesday, July 17 with the fourth annual “Jacobs Media Summer School,” and ends July 19 with “Conclave GAMEDAY,” a day devoted entirely to sports that ends with a reception at KTWN-FM’s studio just before the Minnesota Twins/Cleveland Indians game at Target Field, home of the 2014 All Star Game. For more information on the Learning Conference and Conclave educational programs, visit http://www.theconclave.com.
SCOTUS Gay Marriage Arguments, North Korea Threats, Dr. Ben Carson Assault, Cyprus Banks Bailout, and Sequester Effects Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/28). The two days of arguments before the Supreme Court on gay marriage; threats of military action from North Korea; the backlash against Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson; the bailout of Cyprus banks by the EU; and the effects of the sequester were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.