Tag: "Pete Fornatale"

Monday, April 30, 2012

| April 30, 2012

Cumulus Makes it Official:  WYAY-FM, Atlanta to Go All-News in May.  The Atlanta Business Chronicle confirms what’s been rumored as Cumulus Media COO John Dickey announces the company’s classic hits WYAY-FM – licensed to Gainesville, Georgia – will flip to all-news in mid-May.  Dickey tells the Chronicle, “As big a city as we’ve got and as diverse and cosmopolitan a community, not to have an all-news product creates a huge opportunity.  It was an easy decision for us to take advantage of it…Pop culture, celebrity news and entertainment news have really become news today.  That has intermixed with hard news to create a different product.”  Atlanta had WCNN – now SportsRadio 680 the Fan – operating as an all-news outlet in the late 1990s but that was on AM and Cumulus believes now is the right time to put an all-news product on the FM band.

KTRS, St. Louis Cancels JC Corcoran PM Drive Show.  Veteran St. Louis radio personality JC Corcoran exits CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis after hosting the PM drive show for the past 18 months.  St. Louis Today’s Deb Peterson reports management at the station was not returning calls seeking comment but that other sources indicate that KTVI-TV, St. Louis sports director and former KFNS, St. Louis talk host Martin Kilcoyne will take over the program.  Corcoran’s sidekick Trish Gazall is reportedly remaining with the station.  Other changes including a slight shift in programming as John Hadley moves his late-night show to the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot allowing Chicago-based Steve Cochran to host just his 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program at the station (he had been doing a split shift with an early evening show as well).

Feature Series – Part 4: Innovation Sets You Free…to Make Money.  Sabo Media president Walter Sabo concludes his four-part TALKERS series on FM talk.  In this piece, Sabo discusses the importance of creating time and a place to innovate.  Sabo notes that radio has no laboratory for experimentation.  “If you come up with a new format or promotional idea, where and how do you test it?  Success in a live medium depends on a specific dynamic with a live audience.  As a rule you can’t ask people how they want to be entertained.  You can present them with entertainment and see if they applaud.”  Sabo offers several ways to test new programming, including your HD channel.  “Finally, a good use for HD channels: Experimentation.  If you want listeners to try a new medium, give them something new to listen to.  It doesn’t cost more money to play different songs.  The promise of HD radio is breathtaking.  New programming attracts early adopters and that’s what new hardware demands.”  Sabo says this article is a preview of 15 action-packed minutes that he will deliver at the New Media Seminar in New York on Thursday, June 7.  This exciting industry-only event will be a certain sellout.  For registration information call 413-565-5413.  Read Walter Sabo’s entire piece here.

FCC Decision to Require Political Ad Info Posted Online for TV Stations Has Radio Execs Watching DC.  For now, only television stations in the top 50 markets in the country are being required to post their public files – including their political ad rates – online.  But some radio operators are nervous about this cascading to their medium.  This decision is only popular with some political groups that believe too much money is spent on politics and is tarnishing the process.  The NAB is not pleased and states, “NAB respectfully disagrees with today’s FCC decision and we’re disappointed that the Commission rejected compromise proposals proffered by broadcasters that would have brought greater transparency to political ad buying.  By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the internet our political advertising rates, the FCC jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations that provide local news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather information free of charge to tens of millions of Americans daily. We appreciate Commissioner McDowell‘s thoughtful and compelling dissent, and we will be seeking guidance from our Board of Directors regarding our options.”  Some communications law observers believe there are problems with this new policy and we’re likely to see this end up in court.

Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels to Host New TV and Radio Show Beginning in Early May.  Michael Patrick Shiels previously hosted the morning show based at WJIM, Lansing and was heard on other markets via the Michigan Talk Network.  His relationship with WJIM owner Cumulus ended and now he announces he’s struck a deal with WSYM-TV, Lansing to produce and distribute a new morning show that will be simulcast on WSYM-TV and on the radio in markets yet to be announced.  WSYM-TV VP/GM Gary Baxter states. “FOX 47 is proud to continue its partnership with Michael Patrick Shiels and launch his new program.  There is simply no one like him on radio or TV in the state of Michigan.  Michael Patrick’s show allows us to have the biggest names in politics, business and Michigan sports on our air every morning.  Our viewers might see Governor Snyder and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on the same show — what great television!”

Tom Joyner Vows to Stay Connected with Tri-State Fans Via Digital Media.  The Emmis-ESPN deal and consequent merger of the Kiss FM format with WBLS-FM, New York leaves his nationally syndicated urban morning show in the lurch.  But Tom Joyner believes very strongly in the power of Black radio and the need for shows like his in the Black community.  In a memo to Kiss FM listeners, he writes, “I am saddened that an important Black voice is going silent in New York City, especially during this important election year.  Along with the Tom Joyner “Morning Show,” the Michael Baisden show and Rev. Al Sharpton’s Sunday program will also be off the air in NYC in this transition.  Black radio has been and always will be an extremely important motivational force in the community.  Although social media currently gets a lot of credit and rightfully so, nothing can replace the role Black radio plays in empowering, informing and entertaining Black people.  You can’t believe everything you read on social media but studies do show that most people believe what they hear on black radio.  That makes me feel proud and reminds me of my responsibility to be there for them each morning.”  Joyner encourages his audience in the Tri-State area to listen via his smartphone app or via BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Compass Media Networks’ “At Home with Bob Vila” Debuts Today.  The new daily feature hosted by home improvement icon Bob Vila and produced and distributed by Compass Media Networks hits the air today at affiliates including KOGO, San Diego; WTKK-FM, Boston; KMJ, Fresno; KFNN, Phoenix; KVON, Napa, California and more.  Compass Media Networks VP affiliate sales Adam Wilbur states, “Stations in all formats – sports, news/talk, all-news, country, AC and classic hits have signed up for Vila.  In another week, we will announce additional stations in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington, DC.  With over 90% name recognition with Americans, program directors appreciate the power of Bob’s brand – and sales managers love the ability to sell the feature locally.”

Actor Stephen Baldwin, TV-Radio Host Dani Johnson and Talk Host Kevin McCullough Announce Effort to Aid Starving Orphans.  The 2012 in 2012 charity effort is named that because, as XtreMedia CEO and principal Kevin McCullough states, the goal is to rescue 2,012 orphans from starvation during the year 2012.  McCullough’s weekend radio show partner Stephen Baldwin and television and radio host Dani Johnson are partnering to spearhead this program.  Baldwin says a child can be fed for a mere 25 cents per day.  “When I toured the places these children sleep and live in, I couldn’t help but be moved to do something about it.  My whole family saw with our own eyes children who were dying or would die soon, simply because they had no food.  It is imperative to me, my media company, my family, my business partners, and every one I come into contact with to let them know how vital 25 cents can be.  It can literally feed a meal to a child who literally will die without it.”  Kevin McCullough says, “Our partners are delivering life-healing food for the rate of feeding an orphan for an entire year, for just $92 – this is how simple it is to save a life?  How can we get more people involved?  How can we rescue more children?  These questions haunt me each night…”  McCullough and company are teaming up with two charities experienced in feeding children – Food for Orphans and King’s Ransom Foundation and they are seeking other media partners for this quest.  “If you are a television, radio or new media personality who has a passion to help hungry kids, we would love for you to join us in this amazing quest.  We will link arm in arm with anyone and everyone who is moved to do this, to be part of it, and to see orphans fed.”

Nationally Syndicated Radio Feature Host Akos Jankura Develops New Weekend Show; Seeks Products or Inventions from Public to Feature.  Inventor and international presenter Akos Jankura – who writes and produces the nationally syndicated radio feature “Akos the Solutionist” – teams up with John Cremeans to create a weekend radio show based at WFLA, Tampa on which they will make it possible for one inventor to pitch their product or invention.  The show will premiere Saturday, May 5 at 4:00 pm on WFLA and people with products or inventions are asked to visit MyCoolInventions.com to submit their entry.  Jankura says, “Many people don’t know that one of our most successful TV shopping channels actually began on radio.  I’ve teamed up with John Cremeans also known as ‘The Doctor of Shopolgy,’ John has logged over 25,000 hours of live television shopping and is a pioneer in our industry.  He is skilled at getting arm-chair inventors to make their best pitch for their product which is so important in the early development process.”  Jankura says together the two have more than $2 billion in sales.  The team is poised to identify products and inventions that can become the next great hit.  Their hands-on process invites everyday inventors or people with great ideas to join the inventive group at MyCoolInventions.com and sign up to receive information and tips that will guide them through the process of taking a product to market.

In Memory of a Radio Pioneer: Pete Fornatale.  TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer worked closely with rock radio legend Pete Fornatale who passed away last week at age 66.  Although, as Neer writes, Fornatale was not a talk host as we traditionally define it in radio, “When he did crack the mic, you couldn’t find a more intelligent voice observing pop culture than the late Pete Fornatale.”  Neer notes that Fornatale became synonymous with the genre of radio hosts who did more than quickly intro or backsell a record – something that many argue is missing in music radio these days.  “He was probably the first real musicologist on commercial radio who presented rock and folk music as an intellectual as well as emotional experience.”  Read Richard Neer’s memorial to Pete Fornatale here.

In Memory of Radio Legend Pete Fornatale

| April 27, 2012

By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host

NEW YORK — He wasn’t a talker in the sense that he hosted programs on traditional news/talk outlets.  Indeed the content of most of his programs featured more music than talk.  But when he did crack the mic, you couldn’t find a more intelligent voice observing pop culture than the late Pete Fornatale.

Pete got his start at WFUV-FM, the Fordham campus station and, ironically, that is where he did his final program in mid-April.  In his own way, he was every bit the pioneer that radio legend Alan Freed was in exposing popular music to the masses.  The difference was that while the early rock ‘n’ rollers spun “silly love songs” that you could dance to, Fornatale cared more about the lyrics, not the beat.

He was one of the first to string together songs in a meaningful fashion – the art of the segue – as it became known.  There was a purpose behind every record he played.  When CSNY rushed the single, “Ohio” to radio stations to protest the Kent State killings, Pete was the first to play it, indeed repeating it several times before enhancing it with his own emotional comments on the tragedy.

Peter also paved the way for talkers with unconventional voices.  His own was slightly nasal with a higher pitch than the sonorous tones listeners were used to on big city radio.  But in New York, that qualm quickly passed with astute listeners who were enlightened by the content of what he said.  He was probably the first real musicologist on commercial radio who presented rock and folk music as an intellectual as well as emotional experience.

He wrote books, taught classes on many levels, gave lectures and hosted multimedia presentations.  Unfortunately, in the early 1980s consultants took over what had been free form FM radio.  They didn’t understand Peter’s appeal and lobbied to oust him from the midday shift he had occupied for so many years.  When I was program director of WNEW-FM I tried to hold out as long as possible against some of the more radical changes the consultants wanted to affect. For Fornatale, my idea was a weekend program that played to his strengths, a show that was to be called “Mixed Bag,” after the Richie Havens album of the same name.  He would play folk and country rock, songs with lyrics on a deeper level.  When I broached the subject with him, he was excited and immediately expanded and refined my rough concept and made it his own.  It became his hallmark program.

He took it with him wherever he went, from WNEW-FM to K-Rock and eventually back to WFUV-FM.  He was a great interviewer and a dear friend to many artists, ranging from Garland Jeffries and Richie Furay (Poco) to Art Garfunkel.  Musicians were comfortable talking to someone who truly understood and appreciated them.

Peter was always a pleasure to work with.  Even if he didn’t agree with a particular direction, after expressing his views, he executed whatever he was asked with loyalty and dedication to his craft.  He welcomed newcomers to the station with open arms and helpful advice.  One major regret I have about writing my story of those years, FM:The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio, is that I wasn’t able to interview Pete extensively, since he was working on a similar project and wanted to be heard in his own voice.  Although he’s still a prominent character, his personal recollections would have made it a better book.

But fortunately, he leaves books of his own and numerous recordings, many available at his website.  Peter passed away quietly the morning of April 26, 2012, but his voice will be heard for generations to come.

 

Richard Neer is a sports talk host at WFAN, New York, an anchor on A Touch of Grey, and sports editor of TALKERS magazine. He can be e-mailed at info@talkers.com

Return to Main News page here.