Profile: FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd. Seventeen months into his deal with FOX Sports – one that puts him on television, in national radio syndication and makes him part-owner of his own content – Colin Cowherd speaks with TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian in a profile published today (2/3). Cowherd tells Kinosian that the change from ESPN to FOX Sports was moving from “one great company to another.” But he’s happier with the vibe at FOX. “The reality is that radio should be more dangerous. It is unedited, ad-libbed, and free-form. There’s a little stand-up, a little ranting, a little painting and you are going to spill a little on the canvas. I think my personality fits the FOX ecosystem a little better than the current ESPN ecosystem, which has gotten much more politically correct in the last several years.” Read the whole piece here.
Beasley to Unload Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville, North Carolina Cluster for $11 Million. The buyer is CMG Coastal Carolina and Beasley Media Group says it will use the cash to pay down debt. The stations affected are: blues WNCT-AM, Greenville; classic hits WNCT-FM, Greenville; classic rock WSFL-FM, New Bern; hip hop WIKS-FM, New Bern; adult contemporary WMGV-FM, Newport; and rock WXNR-FM, Grifton. CMG Coastal Carolina, which is affiliated with Curtis Media Group, intends to spin off WNCT-FM to Inner Banks Media, LLC. Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley comments, “Since the Company’s founding in 1961, Beasley has established a long-term record of successfully optimizing its station portfolio through both strategic acquisitions and divestitures to drive returns for our shareholders. Last November we completed the accretive acquisition of Greater Media, adding 17 stations (net of divestitures) and four attractive new markets to our operating footprint. We are making continued progress with the integration of the new stations as we apply our proven strategies that focus on strong core programming and targeted localism to support ratings and market leadership. We are confident that the stations being divested will continue to offer listeners in Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville great local programming.”
2016 Banner Year for SiriusXM. The financial figures from the fourth quarter of 2016 and the entire year are being reported and SiriusXM says it beat its guidance “on all metrics.” The satcaster’s net income for the fourth quarter of 2016 was $205 million – up 52% from the same period in 2015. For the year, net income was $746 million – up 46% from 2015. As for its subscriber numbers, SiriusXM reports a net subscriber growth of 1.75 million for the year. It now reports more than 31 million subscribers with nearly 26 million self-paying subscribers. CEO Jim Meyer comments, “Last year was a phenomenal year for SiriusXM’s business, and we expect continued success in 2017. We finished ahead of our guidance across the board, with record revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow. With more than 31 million subscribers, SiriusXM has never had more paying customers. We’ve issued guidance for continued growth in 2017, and we expect a record adjusted EBITDA of more than $2 billion.”
Michael Harrison Says a New Golden Age of News/Talk Radio is at Hand – IF Broadcasters Rise to the Challenge. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison addressed this month’s meeting of the magazine’s editorial board with optimistic observations about the news/talk format’s future as the world enters the Donald Trump era. But he also pointed out that the format’s inherent multi-genre potential can only be reached if broadcasters have the vision and courage to significantly alter the current paradigm and “take advantage of the political passions that have engulfed a wide swath of the American population, way beyond the traditional conservative core audience.” Harrison was clear that he thinks traditional conservative news/talk radio is here to stay although “enthusiasm for Trump has bent some of the tried-and-true guidelines that provided a dependable ideological template for hosts connecting with their audiences way beyond what were once considered to be their breaking points.” Harrison explains, “Conservative listeners will remain extremely loyal to their brand of talk radio because they fear opposition to Trump will water down the changes he promised to bring America in ‘making it great again,’ adding, “There is indeed room within conservative talk radio for hosts to be critical of Trump on occasions that warrant nuanced alternative perspectives… but then again, that has always been the case. Conservative news/talk has never been as monolithic as its political critics have implied.” However, it is the new potential of progressive talk radio or as Harrison puts it, “resistance talk” that is truly exciting in expanding the boundaries of spoken word strategies on the commercial radio dial. “Intense, passionate and obsessive opposition to Trump has galvanized and ignited a hitherto non-focused target audience for news/talk hosts, programs and stations,” states Harrison. “The door is open for performers such as Thom Hartmann, Stephanie Miller, Joe Madison, Alan Colmes and countless others of the progressive perspective to tap into a potentially vast audience of listeners who, since the election of Trump, deeply care about their message – as long as these messengers are talented by radio standards. The Trump era offers the talk radio industry the opportunity to double its reach by providing a platform for both the ‘revolution’ (Trump) and the ‘resistance’ (anti-Trump) passions that are clearly exploding in the American marketplace of ideas. Both sides feel embattled.” Harrison adds, “If radio misses this opportunity, it would be the equivalent of missing the British Invasion of the sixties, the disco craze of the late seventies, and the rise of conservatism in the nineties.”
Trump Travel Order/Protests Top Talk Story for Week of Jan. 30-Feb. 3. The travel order banning people coming into the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim nations and the protests over the presidential order was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. Coming in at #3 was the violent protests at UC-Berkeley over the planned speech by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, followed by the U.S. putting Iran “on notice” over its test of a missile at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Rick Thomas to Oversee Operations at CMG Tampa. Most recently with CBS Radio’s CHR WBMP, New York “92.3 AMP Radio” as program director, Rick Thomas heads south to Tampa to serve as operations manager for Cox Media Group’s six-station cluster there and to program CHR WPOI “HOT 101.5.” Thomas will oversee operations for adult contemporary WWRM “Magic 94.9,” alternative WSUN-FM “97X,” hot talk WPHT “102.5 The Bone,” adult contemporary WDUV “105.5 The Dove,” and classic hits “107.3 The Eagle,” plus all digital content. CMG Tampa VP and market manager Keith Lawless says, “CMG is very fortunate to have Rick join our Tampa team. Rick is a successful and innovative leader in our business with an exceptional track record. I’m proud to partner with Rick and I have no doubt that his contributions will help Tampa compete and win, even more.”
TALKERS News Notes. Nationally syndicated talk show host Mike Gallagher (pictured here) poses for a photo with a young Guatemalan girl during his trip to the Central American Nation. The Salem Radio Network personality is there this week with fellow SRN hosts Larry Elder and Mark Davis in the company of international relief agency Food For The Poor…..New Yorkers won’t have to miss the sound of Mike Francesa’s voice when the WFAN afternoon personality finishes his contract with the CBS Radio sports talk station at the end of this year. The “Pope” told former partner Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, on the latter’s SiriusXM program, that he’ll be doing something on January 3, 2018. “I’m not promising it’ll be conventional. It’s something new,” he said. Read the New York Post’s take on it here.
Longtime ABC News Radio Staffer Bob Benson Passes. News radio pro Bob Benson passed away on Sunday (1/29) after a four-decade career in radio. Benson started in radio while still in high school. In 1966 he joined ABC as news director at WLS, Chicago, then moved to the company’s KGO, San Francisco. In 1974, Benson launched AP Radio in Washington. He returned to ABC as vice president of ABC News, managing the news and sports for the radio networks.
Is It Possible to Teach Media and Politics in Today’s Environment without Expressing (or Being Accused of) Expressing a Significant Degree of Bias? This is just one of several key questions that are explored in an extremely candid conversation between TALKERS founder Michael Harrison and veteran talk radio programmer David Bernstein posted today (1/31) on this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.” Bernstein’s stellar career in radio includes stints as program director of such politically diverse powerhouses as WTIC in Hartford, WPRO in Providence, WRKO and WBZ in Boston, and a 10 year run at WOR in New York. He even served for a brief period as VP/programming at Air America. Today, he is the general manager of the experimental “workshop” platform TalkersRadio and going into his second full year as an adjunct professor of media studies at Caldwell University in New Jersey. Harrison and Bernstein explore the characteristics, habits and challenges facing Millennials with a focus on those considering careers in the media. The discussion includes an analysis of the public’s across the board obsession with politics inspired by the rise of Donald Trump permeating all aspects of daily American life. Don’t miss this one! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Zannie K. Named PM Drive Host at ‘105 The Vibe’ in Twin Cities. In the Minneapolis market, Cumulus Media announces that on-air pro Zannie K. is the new afternoon personality and assistant program director at classic hip hop outlet WGVX “105 The Vibe.” He also hosts the weekend “Zannie K’s Throwback Theory” Saturday nights at 10:00 pm. Additionally, he’s going to host the Sunday midday show for Westwood One’s 24/7 AC, hot AC and CHR affiliates. Cumulus Media Minneapolis OM (and corporate VP of classic rock) Scott Jameson comments, “We’ve seen consistent growth with ‘The Vibe,’ and adding Zannie to afternoon drive will no doubt sustain the positive momentum for our listeners and advertisers.”
Music Radio News and Career Moves. On Monday (2/6), married morning show personalities “Chadd & Kristi” (at right) debut their program on Beasley Media Group’s newly launched adult contemporary WBRN “B98.7.” The station was formerly a rock outlet and the Tampa affiliate of the Bubba the Love Sponge show, but Beasley flipped it to AC on January 5…..Country superstar Luke Bryan chatted with Westwood One Sports NFL host Scott Graham on Thursday (2/2). Bryan appeared as part of Westwood One’s nightly “The Road to Super Bowl LI” broadcast that aired live. On Sunday, Bryan will sing the national anthem before the Super Bowl LI broadcast…..Townsquare Media launches the new KAMM, Missoula, Montana as an alternative rock outlet branded “ALT 101.5.” The brand manager for the new station is Angel Hughes, who will also serve as the station’s morning personality…..Rock radio jock Spam joins Sun Broadcasting’s alternative WXNX, Fort Myers “93X” as host of the morning show. Spam comes to Sun from his most recent gig at Entercom’s cross-state alternative rocker WSFS, Miami “104.3 The Shark.” Spam was a longtime personality at CBS Radio’s WHFS, Baltimore/Washington…..In Reading, Pennsylvania, Jimmy Steele exits iHeartMedia’s hot AC WRFY and Spanish AC WRAW after a restructuring of the cluster’s staff.
Clear Channel Media + Entertainment Chairman and CEO John Hogan Retires; Position Eliminated. In a move that comes as a surprise to many, John Hogan is retiring from Clear Channel Media + Entertainment as chairman and CEO and will take on the title of chairman emeritus. At the same time, his position will not be filled and folks in the CCM+E division will report to CC Media Holdings chairman Bob Pittman and president and CFO Rich Bressler as Pittman announces he’s signed a five-year extension of his contract. In a statement this morning, Pittman says, “John Hogan has made tremendous contributions to Clear Channel during his tenure – particularly during the unprecedented economic headwinds our country, our industry and our company, faced in 2008 and 2009. He has been an excellent partner for me and for Clear Channel’s leadership as we have evolved into the only multi-platform media company with national reach and the ability to execute locally. As my friend and partner in Clear Channel Media + Entertainment, John has been an important element in Clear Channel’s transformation into a multiplatform media company. There is never a perfect time to make big decisions like this, but his logic was compelling and making this change at the start of a new year made sense. We thank him for his long service and the enormous positive impact he’s had on both our company and the radio industry, and we are delighted that John will remain part of the family with his title of Clear Channel Media + Entertainment chairman emeritus.” Hogan joined Clear Channel when Jacor – for which he was serving as senior vice president of radio – was acquired by the company in 1999. He became president and CEO of Clear Channel Radio in 2002 and took on the chairman and CEO of CCM+E role in 2012.
WBEN, Buffalo Talk Host Tom Bauerle Is the Subject of Talk Himself After Police Visits to His Home. From a piece published in the Buffalo News, we learn that there is concern among WBEN, Buffalo afternoon drive host Tom Bauerle’s Williamsville, New York neighbors and local police about his recent behavior that some might describe as paranoid. Here’s the short version: the paper reports that police responded to a 911 call to Bauerle’s home last Wednesday where Bauerle complained he was under surveillance by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s operatives. Police found Bauerle in his backyard with a loaded weapon. He surrendered the weapon to police – who were not able to find evidence of anyone spying on Bauerle – and was also willing to surrender additional weapons in his home to his attorney. The paper also reports that Bauerle’s neighbors held a recent meeting with the talk host after he sent them emails raising the issue of him being “watched.” Neighbors told the paper his concerns seemed “quirky” and “made you scratch your head.” Nonetheless, Bauerle – who was off the air last Wednesday and Thursday but returned to the air on Friday to explain his absence was due to hitting a “physical wall of exhaustion” – did agree to a voluntary psychiatric evaluation on Wednesday of last week. No reports have been released yet and the Buffalo News received its information from neighbors and interviews with police officers who are remaining anonymous until the report is released. No charges have been filed in connection with the incident. Read the Buffalo News story here.
Profile: Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher. Talk radio personality Mike Gallagher has been in the business since he talked his way into a substitute position at WAVI, Dayton while a junior in high school in 1978. Thirty-six years later and heard in syndication across the country, Gallagher tells TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian that he’s still going strong after a career that’s seen him in morning drive at WABC, New York; in business for himself running his own syndicated show; and moving on with his career after the heartbreaking loss of his wife Denise to endometrial cancer in 2008. His philosophy about programming a talk show remains simple, “I go where my gut takes me. You have to reflect the ‘hits,’ and in our business, the ‘hits’ mean the headlines.” He tells TALKERS that he has always stayed on top of how his show is performing from a business perspective. “It is self-preservation, and my secret to longevity. I learned many years ago that ratings in our business are very volatile, and in particular, talk radio ratings can be cyclical. We are subjected to a political season and a post-political season, so ratings go up and down. I will always win, however, if I deliver revenue…I know where we are to the penny at any given point, and right now, I’m 7% over my January budget. It is a tough environment, so I am very proud of that. We are fighting and scrapping for every dollar. I have always viewed the radio show as a business. I learned that many years ago from Greg Anderson.” Read Mike Kinosian’s entire profile of Mike Gallagher here.
KFBK, Sacramento FM Signal Changes. News/talk KFBK, Sacramento’s FM simulcast had been 92.5 for much of the past two years. But after Christmas, Clear Channel Sacramento flipped KFBK’s FM signal to 93.1 – most recently the location of classic hits KHLX. Now we know that the company made the switch so that it could turn the better 92.5 signal into new country outlet “The New B92.5.” The 93.1 frequency is licensed to Pollock Pines – some 40 miles west of downtown Sacramento – whereas the 92.5 signal is centered on the market and provides full-market coverage.
KXTG-AM, Portland Sports Talker Named Sportswriter of the Year. Midday sports talk host John Canzano – heard from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daily on Alpha Broadcasting’s KXTG-AM, Portland – is named 2013 Oregon Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and Hall of Fame. Finalists for the award were nominated by NSSA members from mid-October to mid-November. Final balloting took place during the month of December. In addition to his work on KXTG-AM, Canzano writes for the Oregonian and makes regular appearances on KGW-TV. Oregonian editor and vice president of content Peter Bhatia states, “John is a terrific columnist and reporter. He brings something special to our city and state every day and it is great to see that recognized.” KXTG-AM PD Bernie Bokenyi adds, “I am honored to have John as a part of our team on ‘750 The Game.’ His commitment to readers, listeners and viewers every day is unmatched.” Canzano comments, “This market offers the most compelling news anywhere in the country. I love working and living here and being able to bring that to readers and listeners and viewers. We’re different than other markets — we have an ongoing dialogue.”
Long Named Co-GSM at WSB, Atlanta. At Cox Media Group’s Atlanta Radio, Jaleigh Long is named new co-general sales manager for news/talk WSB where she’ll work alongside fellow GSM Beth Bowers. Director of sales Walt Phillips says, “Jaleigh Long has a proven track record of leading her teams from the front. Her focus has and will continue to be on developing talent and driving new business development initiatives. She’s strategic in her problem solving and decision making with an extensive background in digital ad products and strategy. Partnering with current GSM Beth Bowers only strengthens our position when it comes to coaching and leading this team into a new era at news/talk WSB.” Long spent the last seven years as GSM for South Central Media in Evansville, Indiana.
Brandon Randazzo Named Social Media Director at Sports USA. The executive producer of Sports USA’s “Conversations with Joe Morgan,” and podcasts “Leigh Steinberg on Sports” and “Odds Are with Jimmy Vaccaro” is upped to director of social media for the company, Sports USA president Bob Moore says Brandon Randazzo “is a go-to guy with a vast history of getting the job done. His background in programming, producing, promotions, and voicing radio stations tied to his skill set of social media makes him the ideal person for this position. Brandon will front all of our social media platforms going forward.” Randazzo comments, “Sports USA is one of the most respected names in radio. Their relationship with a significant network of over 400 radio affiliates and massive audience will increase the exposure of our social media platforms every day. I am excited for this opportunity to expand the Sports USA brand into social media.”
Talk Personality Brian Holland to Host Syndicated Overnight Show. The program is called “The Graveyard Shift” and host Brian Holland is planning to self syndicate it beginning March 17. In a statement, Holland says, “Overnights are often a forgotten daypart because everyone assumes that one show is unstoppable. That was true a few years ago, but now, the fact of the matter is when a program isn’t challenged, it’s of course going to stay number one. We are getting a lot of attention from stations that are either concerned with the drop in their overnight audience, or are looking for something serious and sustainable to carry in that daypart.” Holland’s press release states the program will focus on the paranormal and what he calls “fringe topics,” but will also cover popular culture, movie news, video game news, and other topical items. Each program will feature at least one guest for an interview, listener phone calls and emails, and a look at current affairs from all walks of life. The show was formerly syndicated by Harris Broadcasting Network but ceased after the death of that company’s principal.
Three Broadcasters Facing Legal Action for Copyright Infringement. Orange County California-based Mavrix Photographs LLC has filed complaints against Clear Channel, CBS Radio and Townsquare Media for copyright infringement in the United States District Court Central District of California. Mavrix claims that the three companies all posted images it owns – specifically, images of pop star Katy Perry – to some of their stations’ websites with full knowledge that the photos did not belong to them. As in the past, Mavrix is seeking $150,000 per illegal use per company but it is more likely that the issue will be settled out of court for less than what Mavrix seeks. Still, the lesson for website operators is that – especially with celebrity photos – the companies that own the copyrights will seek out violators and will file complaints if they recognize their property being used without permission.
Cool Talk Radio Opportunity. WWTN-FM, Nashville seeks full-time midday host. This is a rare opportunity in the city The New York Times calls “it!” Nashville is on the rise and WTN is the dominant talk station in Music City. We are a live and local operation. With the addition of this position the station is live and local from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm every weekday. And “yes,” we usually beat Rush. This is not an entry level job. We are looking for some authentic, fresh energy – someone that is a people person and will weave themself into the fabric of the community in short order. Expect to work social media and participate in public events. We’re looking for someone who is a voracious consumer of news and info – someone that brings solutions with the problems, someone with a sense of hope. You should be as good as any trial lawyer at convincing people of your position using indisputable logic to connect the dots. You can’t ‘just’ do national-political; you have to sound like Nashville. You must be good at sensing the mood of the community and covering a wide range of emotions. If you are just angry, don’t bother applying. Being a fan of and having interest in country music is a plus. Email resume, references, optional cover letter, and un-scoped air-check to firstname.lastname@example.org put “WWTN-FM Nashville Host” in subject line. Cumulus Media is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer