More News/Talk Radio Success Stories. Yes, you read that right, contrary to the pronouncement – largely in the mainstream media (but some trades are generalizing as well) – that news/talk radio is suffering an overall ratings decline because there’s something wrong with the programming, the signals or its P1s, there are news/talk stations that are doing well. In a piece published yesterday (see Wednesday’s news below) we mentioned a few news/talk stations that are performing well such as WMAL, KMOX, WSB-AM, KIRO-FM and others but more have come to light and we believe it’s worth delving into again. The editors at TALKERS magazine understand we are running the risk of sounding like cheerleaders but it’s not because we are blind to reality, it’s that we are irked by sweeping conclusions based on less-than-complete information that brands an entire format as dead or dying. Yes, some news/talk stations are dealing with low ratings and, yes, there are some entire markets that have seen – at least according to Nielsen Audio’s data – listening to news/talk decline. But for those who work at Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL-FM, Portland; Clear Channel’s KFBK, Sacramento, KNRS-AM/FM, Salt Lake City or WLW, Cincinnati; Bonneville’s KSL, Salt Lake City; Cox Media Group’s WDBO-AM/FM, Orlando; or Entercom’s KMBZ, Kansas City, are enjoying the fruits of their hard work in the form of news/talk stations that are performing well in their markets in spite of this gloomy environment. Digging a bit deeper at KXL-FM, the midday shows – Jim Villanucci from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and Lars Larson from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm – are both in the top six spots in Persons 25-54. Villanucci (brand new to Portland listeners) is ranked #6 in the market with Persons 25-54 and Larson, a conservative political talker, ranks #2 in the market with Persons 25-54. Larson is also tied for #1 with Men 18-34 with a 9.2 share. And he does it in liberal Portland! In conclusion, it is not only in the best interests of the country for news/talk radio to remain a vital medium — it is in the interests of the entire radio industry because – let’s face it – most of the buzz, news, high-profile personalities, controversy, and hoopla concerning radio as an iconic component of contemporary culture has emanated from news/talk radio. After that, a close runner up has been the more general (lifestyle and entertainment) approach to “talk” radio as practiced by talents such as Howard Stern (incorrectly described by mainstream media as “shock jocks.”) Can you imagine what the state of radio would be today had it not been for news/talk and general talk radio during the past 25 years? The industry should not be so quick to discount the viability of this genre of radio and the key it holds to the continued pertinence of radio itself. Lars Larson says his philosophy about the focus of his show is simple: “I figure the future of talk is in young listeners who get into the habit and like the format and what we put on the air. I hope to keep them in my audience for the next 20 years.”
Brief Tenure at WBZ-AM, Boston for Jen Brien. Just three months after beginning her position as permanent overnight host at CBS Radio’s WBZ-AM, Boston, talk show host Jen Brien exits with no reason given by management. An announcement was made at the beginning of the overnight program on Thursday morning (10/3) that Brien was no longer the host of the show. Brien won the job after Steve LeVeille retired in June of 2012. The station featured a number of fill-in hosts in the overnight slot for a year before giving Brien the gig. She had previously worked at crosstown WRKO hosting midday show.
Jay Mohr Visits ‘The Tonight Show.’ Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr is pictured here on the set of “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. Mohr appeared on the program to talk about his sports talk radio show as well as his upcoming stand-up comedy shows in his Houston and San Antonio markets. Mohr plugged the fact that his show can be heard on iHeartRadio – prompting a shout from an audience member who, Mohr quipped, “has the app!”
CBS Radio Brings Soccer to NYC. CBS Radio sports talk WFAN-AM/FM, New York agrees to a multi-year deal with the New York City Football Club to begin broadcasting the team’s matches on the stations beginning in 2015. WFAN says it is “the first radio provider to broadcast Major League Soccer (MLS) in English in New York City.” Manchester City Football Club owns the NYC Football Club and CEO Ferran Soriano says, “We’re thrilled to partner with a station as prestigious as WFAN. This is a huge opportunity for the team to bring football to all New Yorkers, right from the onset of our playing debut.” Clearly, growing interest in soccer in the U.S. is something CBS Radio hopes will continue to blossom. CBS Radio SVP and market manager Don Bouloukos adds, “As the nation’s leading sports radio station, we always look for ways to bring every type of sport to the New York area’s fans. Soccer is beloved across the world, and with the New York City Football Club coming to New York, it’s the perfect time to further ignite the passion soccer fans have and bring coverage and play-by-play of this new team to the Tri-State area listeners.”
Odds & Sods. Entercom’s WEEI, Boston kicks off the Red Sox post-season play with a live remote broadcast following a shortened edition of the Salk and Holley show. A “Red Sox Roundtable” will be broadcast live from Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill in Fenway Park from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Mike Salk, Michael Holley and fellow WEEI personalities John Dennis, Mike Mutnansky, Lou Merloni, Mikey Adams, Kirk Minihane, Alex Speier and Rob Bradford, as well as the Sox broadcast team of Dave O’Brien and Joe Castiglione will be on hand to discuss the Sox’ impending American League Division Series matchup…..Speaking of Joe Castiglione, he’s been nominated as one of 10 finalists for the Ford C. Frick award, given to baseball broadcasters of long and meritorious service. Castiglione has been calling Boston Red Sox games on the radio for 31 years, having joined their broadcast team in 1983…..Northwestern alumnus, Mike Greenberg, and “Mike & Mike” co-host Mike Golic, will broadcast their show live from Northwestern’s Evanston, Illinois campus tomorrow morning (10/4) in advance of Saturday’s Homecoming game between the Wildcats and the Ohio State Buckeyes, as part of the third annual ESPN Audio Fall Football Tour. Greenberg will also serve as grand marshal of University’s 2013 Homecoming Parade tomorrow evening.
Media Day with the Heat. Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talker WAXY-AM/FM, Miami “The Ticket” morning drive hosts Marc Hochman (left) and Jonathon Zaslow (right) attended Miami Heat media day recently and took the time to pose for a shot with Heat center Joel Anthony (the tall guy in the middle).
Government Shutdown, ObamaCare Implementation, IPCC Climate Report, U.S.-Iran Relations, and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/2). The political maneuvering to fix the government shutdown; the beginning of the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act; the release of the latest climate report from the IPCC; speculation about future relations between the U.S. and Iran; and financial markets activity were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Faces Suit by Photo Company Alleging Illegal Use. National Photo Group LLC has filed a complaint in United States District Court Western District of Texas alleging Clear Channel radio stations infringed on its copyrights by using pictures of various celebrities on the websites of some of its radio stations. The complaint names 11 CC radio stations and alleges photos of celebrities including Jason Aldean, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore and others were used without permission and with knowledge that the photos were copyrighted. NPG is seeking $150,000 per infringement plus legal fees and any other relief the Court deems just and proper.
WCBM, Baltimore Extends Talk Host Tom Marr’s Contract Through 2017. Baltimore talk radio institution Tom Marr will be heard on WCBM through 2017 as the station’s vice president, Nick Mangione. Jr., announces the station extends his no-cut contract for another four years. The official announcement was made June 24 by WCBM program director and operations manager Sean Casey at the start of Marr’s show that day. Mangione, Jr. states, “I am delighted we have reached the agreement on the extension. To quote my late father, Tom is still at the top of his game both as a broadcaster in general and talk show host in particular. We are delighted he will be on the air until 2017 with WCBM and he just may decide to stay longer. There will always be room for him in the WCBM family. Tom has a good sense for the business. As an example, he is the first one to suggest that we add both Sean Hannity and Mark Levin to our lineup. Tom has a large following within the reach of our 50 thousand watt transmitter and is building a solid national and international following on WCBM’s worldwide reach via the internet.” Marr, who began his career as a high school sports broadcaster on WWDC-AM, Washington, DC in 1960, says, “I am deeply honored that Nick and the Mangione Family Enterprises agreed to the extension. I look forward to the challenges ahead for talk radio and its increasing role in the media especially in view of our relationship with the digital world.”
WBZ-AM, Boston Names Jen Brien Overnight Talk Host. After the retirement of Steve LeVeille last year, the station has been featuring a number of talk radio personalities in the overnight slot. Now, program director Peter Casey announces Jennifer “Jen” Brien is named to the permanent position. The station says the program “will be a mix of pop culture, current events, politics, and the comings and goings of people in New England.” In addition to WBZ-AM’s monster signal that penetrates the entire East Coast at that time of night, the show can be heard on CBS Radio’s Radio.com. Brien joined WBZ from Entercom’s crosstown news/talk WRKO where she hosted a daily program. She has also hosted shows on WPRO and WHJJ in Providence, and WCOD and WXTK on Cape Cod. Before beginning her career in radio, Brien spent more than five years as a soldier in the United States Army where she was selected for the prestigious “Soldier of the Year” award.
SiriusXM Cancels Long-Running Alex Bennett Show. One of modern talk radio’s true pioneers, Alex Bennett, has reportedly been let go “without cause” from SiriusXM Satellite Radio‘s “Sirius Left” channel where he was doing the daily 7:00 am to 10:00 am program. Bennett has been with Sirius for almost a decade and, according to insiders close to the host, was caught by surprise and is “distraught” over what transpired. Bennett has had a colorful, unique on-air career that goes back to the late-1960s when he was the lone talk show host on the old WMCA, New York when it was still the “Home of the Good Guys.” He subsequently went on to do both rock music and talk broadcasting serving as one of the original prototypes for the pop culture-oriented (some call it “shock jock”) and “progressive” genres of modern day talk radio. Between WMCA and Sirius, he served in ground-breaking stints at such great stations as WPLJ in New York and KMEL, KITS (“Live 105″) and KQAK (“The Quake”) in San Francisco. At press time, it is not clear if this was a cost-cutting move on the part of Sirius or indicative of a re-direction in programming. Bennett is still on the air and is reportedly doing his final program for the satellite radio service this Friday. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “In my opinion Alex Bennett is one of the most important talents ever to grace a microphone during my lifetime. His show on WMCA — in which he did extremely progressive talk about the issues of the day such as the Vietnam War – was on a station that was otherwise a hip music station. In the midst of all the fun, cool hipness of the rock ‘n’ roll and the zany DJs of that fabulous station, Bennett was fearlessly talking to the kids about extremely important controversial issues. That show served as the original inspiration for me to launch an issues-oriented talk show (“Harrison’s Mic”) five years later on rocker KMET in Los Angeles and my own talk career that paralleled my music radio work. If I had not heard Alex Bennett in 1969, there might not have ever been a TALKERS magazine.”
HOLLAND COOKE: The Future of AM/FM in the Car. Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports from the Consumer Electronic Association’s Connected Car Conference in New York City and her says that the bottom line after “four-and-a-half-hours of thoughtful discussion, research, and prognostication by automotive, electronics, and media thinkers: Whatever the dashboard is about to morph into matters less to AM/FM radio than what’s already happened.” Cooke writes that people who matter have already connected their media to the car speakers and offers some thoughts about what radio programmers can do to stand out from the digital competition. Read his analysis here.
SummitMedia to Pull the Plug on Sports Talk In Birmingham. SummitMedia announces it will drop the sports talk format on WZNN, Birmingham “97.3 The Zone” and flip to a different – most likely music – format. SummitMedia EVP and COO David DuBose tells the Birmingham News, “We have been evaluating the sports format in light of multiple factors, including [Paul] Finebaum‘s placement. After nearly two years, it became clear the market did not support two competing sports stations. “Therefore, we have determined we should focus on other format opportunities.” SummitMedia purchased the Birmingham cluster from Cox Media Group earlier this year. The station was flipped to sports in August of 2011 when Cox had its eye on building the station around mega-successful Southeast sports personality Paul Finebaum by bringing him over from Cumulus Media’s crosstown sports WJOX. Finebaum, who’d had legal squabbles with WJOX and wanted out of that relationship, ended up working out his contract there, sat out a non-compete and will begin a new sports talk radio venture with ESPN based out of Charlotte. It’s believed he will return to WJOX via ESPN syndication when the new program debuts later this summer.
Bonneville Seattle Brings Unique Talk to MyNorthwest.com. The Bonneville Seattle cluster that includes news/talk KIRO-FM, sports KIRO-AM and talk KTTH is beginning a series of unique audio programs to the web venture it calls MyNorthwest.com. Dubbed “MyNorthwest Chats,” the weekly, one-hour programs will stream on Wednesday’s from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm beginning with today’s chat featuring nationally acclaimed restaurateur Tom Douglas. MyNorthwest.com editor Stephanie Klein says, “We’re excited to have the opportunity to connect our readers directly to the experts and start an inspiring dialogue that makes an impact. We want the conversation to spark a chain of discussion in our readers’ lives.” Other chats lined up for July include talk show host Michael Medved and Seattle Mariners insider Shannon Drayer.
Programming Changes at WGN, Chicago; Turi Ryder to Exit. Chicago radio pro Turi Ryder has been in the late night slot at Tribune’s WGN, Chicago since the beginning of this year but now the company says it’s going in a different direction and will end her program. Ryder will get a chance to say goodbye to her WGN listeners as she’ll work this evening and Thursday before wrapping things up there. The station has not announced what will air in the time slot. Ryder also hosts “America Weekend” for Envision Radio Networks.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM, Providence Tackles Immigration Issue with Live Debate. News/talk WPRO-AM’s Tara Granahan is moderating a debate that will take place today at the Providence Marriott from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm called, “Green Light on Green Cards,” featuring a panel of experts from each side of the illegal immigration issue. The discussion will be streamed live online at the station’s 630wpro.com and will be the center piece of a “WPRO Special Report” scheduled to air during the “WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti” the week of July 1. The debate features two immigration lawyers, a state representative, a member of the local clergy and the head of an illegal immigration enforcement organization. The stations states, “The debate will address the issues that have emerged from illegal immigration including; licenses for illegal immigrants, how immigration effects the Rhode Island economy, and potential solutions moving forward.”
TeleSouth Communications to Buy WOSM, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. TeleSouth operates the Mississippi talk radio network known as “SuperTalk Mississippi” and the purchase of WOSM, Ocean Springs (103.1 FM) – between Biloxi and Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast – will be added to that network. The company states, “The addition of WOSM to the network will give coast listeners the best choice in Mississippi programming with ‘The Gallo Radio Show,’ ‘The JT Show’ and ‘Head to Head with Matt Wyatt and Richard Cross,’ all homegrown programs that keep a watch on state government, entertainment, sports, unique happenings in Mississippi, with a local take on national issues.” In addition to Mississippi-based programs, ‘SuperTalk’ is also home to Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee and Compass Media Networks’ Lars Larson and Todd Schnitt. WOSM is owned and operated by Charles Cooper and airs Christian programming. TeleSouth CEO Steve Davenport states, “We are excited about growing the ‘SuperTalk Network’ with the addition of WOSM. Mr. Cooper has worked hard for years building an audience loyal to traditional family values. We are confident that WOSM listeners will hear those values in the programs featured each day on ‘SuperTalk.’” Long-time coast talk show host and programmer Kipp Greggory will serve as general manager of WOSM.
CHQR, Calgary Talk Host Dave Rutherford to End Daily Show. Canadian talk show host Dave Rutherford will wrap a 21-year career hosting a daily talk show at CHQR, Calgary after his last show on July 26. The conservative personality and pedigreed newsman tells the Edmonton Journal he believes the broadcast news industry is dumbing down and there may be no place for a broadcaster like him. “I don’t think there’s the desire to ask the next question, maybe to ask any questions. But I sense that the whole industry, the broadcast news business, television and radio, is dumbing down.”
The End of the Line for CNN Radio. The service was a shell of its former self after Dial Global ended its distribution of the news product and replaced it with NBC News Radio last year, effectively becoming a digital-only product. Now, CNN states that after completing “a review of its radio business,” it “has made the decision to cease production of CNN Radio podcasts, effective immediately.” CNN has indicated that some of the staff will be relocated to positions elsewhere in the company.
Allen Hunt to End WSB, Atlanta Program. Christian broadcaster Allen Hunt announces he’ll end his Sunday evening program that has aired on WSB, Atlanta since its inception after the June 30 broadcast. Hunt says he was approached by Cox Media to move the time of his program and he decided that due to his busy schedule with the Dynamic Catholic Institute and the requested change, he decided it would be better to end the show. Hunt built the program at WSB and, for a couple of years, put the show into national syndication.
The Roving Jay Mohr Billboard. Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr’s flagship station, “AM570 FOX Sports LA” (KLAC, Los Angeles) surprised Mohr with a mobile billboard promoting his program. While Mohr was on the air, the billboard stopped by the studio during its route through Los Angeles and the show crew seized the opportunity for a quick photo-op. Pictured here (from l-r) are: intern Ben Haley, technical producer John Ramos, social media producer Matty Cox, assistant producer Justin Frosburg, Mohr, update anchor “Diamond” Dan Beyer, associate producer Mike Lingard and executive producer Greg “Hong Kong” Toohey.
Former KMOX, St. Louis Personality Bruce Bradley Dies. Bruce Bradley was a personality on CBS Radio’s KMOX, St. Louis from 1986 to 1992. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he passed away on Saturday, June 22 in Lake St. Louis at age 79. Prior to his career in St. Louis, Bradley also worked in the New York, Philadelphia and Boston markets.
President Obama’s Global Warming Policy, SCOTUS Gay Marriage Rulings, George Zimmerman Trial, Paula Deen Freefall, and Texas Anti-Abortion Bill Fails Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/25). President Obama’s policy to bypass Congress to enact greenhouse gas emissions regulations; the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage issues; the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the demise of Paula Deen’s media career in the wake of allegations of racist language; and the failure of anti-abortion legislation in Texas were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.