Radio Roundup from Indy. Media consultant Holland Cooke is on the ground in Indianapolis reporting from the 2014 Radio Show. The three-day convention produced by the NAB and the RAB begins today but plenty was happening yesterday at the RAIN Summit. Some of the news from Indy includes: Nielsen Audio’s Jeff Wender swearing that measuring digital is the company’s biggest priority; RAIN’s Kurt Hanson explaining the problems with HD Radio and why online radio is about six years away from catching up with AM/FM in terms of listenership; and Podcast One’s Norm Pattiz declaring that “there’s no showbiz in radio anymore!” To read Holland Cook’s complete report, click here.
KFWB, Los Angeles Brings Safety Aboard. Coming to the new sports talk outlet from his most recent post as vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Clippers is Joe Safety. The station announces that the veteran sports broadcasting and communications executive will serve as director of strategic initiatives and partnerships for KFWB 980. KFWB Trustee Diane Sutter comments, “We’re extremely pleased to welcome Joe and the depth of sports experience he brings to us. His skill sets, relationships and incomparable knowledge of the LA market will help us deliver unique programming to our listeners.”
MLB Baseball Continues to Give Boost to Most Flagship Stations. TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian presents his third analysis of the performances of MLB flagship stations this season – this time based on August PPM data. Again, the flagships in markets where baseball has traditionally been good to its radio outlet and in markets where the team is performing well continue to benefit from increased listenership. In this report Kinosian tracks how flagship stations have performed over the past five PPM surveys, compared to July 2013, how they rank in their respective markets, and how the stations stack up based on MLB divisions. Check out Mike Kinosian’s analysis here.
Wayne Power to Host Mornings on WKZO, Kalamazoo. Show business pro Wayne Powers is named morning drive host at Midwest Communications news/talk WKZO, Kalamazoo. Effective October 13, Powers replaces current morning host Jim McKinney who remains with the station to host the 5:00 pm show “Everything Kalamazoo at 5.” Powers’ career in show business includes playing roles on such TV shows as “Laverne & Shirley,” “Simon & Simon,” “Doogie Howser,” “Full House,” “Murder She Wrote” and many others. He also starred in the popular sitcom, “13 East,” on NBC for two seasons. Powers’ voicework includes nationally recognized characters as “Budman” for Budweiser and the voice of “Wayne,” the talking crow on the popular Windex TV commercials for over 13 years. He’s also an accomplished jazz vocalist. Most recently, Powers has been hosting shows in Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte. Current morning show news anchor Andrew Green and producer Tim Abramowski will continue to be a part of the show. WKZO brand manager Jeremy Lawrence comments, “Building a winning, local team is what we have been focused on and the addition of Wayne Powers will allow us to get even more local. He is an interesting guy that people will love listening to. In addition, I couldn’t be more excited about what Jim will be doing weekdays at 5:00 pm. Jim is someone everyone in the area knows and I know they will enjoy hearing from him in this new role.”
Michael Harrison: “The Key to Attracting Millennials to Talk Radio is to Target Smart Young People in Need of Help.” Addressing the recent quarterly meeting of the trade publication’s editorial board at which the subject of lowering talk radio demos was being discussed, TALKERS magazine founder Michael Harrison stated that the way to create spoken word radio to attract the massive generation coming of age is to not talk down to them or pander to entertaining them with lowest common denominator programming, but rather “aim high, be smart, and most important, be helpful.” According to Harrison (who originally earned industry prominence in the 70s as a pioneer in programming for what was then referred to as the youth culture), “The gigantic Millennial generation is full of millions of absolutely brilliant young adults who are germinating a fresh point of view to the problems of society and are plugged into the technology and culture of the times. But they are in desperate need of help in actualizing these characteristics… and that is the key, we must help them!” Harrison elaborates, “They need help coping with an increasingly dangerous and stressful world – and that’s just for starters. They need guidance, advice and answers to the massive, seemingly-insurmountable problems they face economically, socially and even spiritually… they need to be encouraged and inspired.” Harrison continues, “This does not mean talk show hosts have to be young and pandering – at least not young for young’s sake… they must be wise and credible. You would be amazed how young people of all generations throughout history will turn their trust over to an older adult who speaks their language – but with the perspective of wisdom – and, most important, an older adult who empathizes with their challenges and plight.” Harrison drives home the point, “We must throw these kids a rope – a lifeline – and pull them out of the emotional and financial quicksand of living in their parents’ basements with nothing but a bleak future looming ahead.” The 48 year industry veteran sums it up – “Most importantly, we must not talk down to these emerging ‘natives’ of the 21st century. Do not pigeonhole them as having attention deficit disorder, simplistic consciousness and frivolous concerns. The Millennials are the ones who have triggered the TV binge watching craze and are attracted to complex multi-season television programs with multiple story arcs and complicated characters. We mustn’t allow TV to be more intelligent or hipper than radio. And don’t believe that they have completely given up on AM and FM. They have only largely given up on these platforms’ programming. They are masters of consumer technology and electronics. If the word got out that there was programming on AM and FM that can help them escape their way out of the murky darkness of this era, they’d rediscover traditional radio in a nano-second… at least the smart ones… and I assure you there are enough smart ones out there to give us a sizable young audience.”
Cohen Joins Cumulus DC as DOS. Washington, DC media pro Beth Cohen is named director of sales at Cumulus Media’s Washington, DC cluster for news/talk WMAL-AM/FM and CHR WRQX “All the Hits 107.3.” Cohen comes to Cumulus from Clear Channel’s crosstown operations where she was GSM for rock WWDC “DC101” and CHR WITH “Hot 99.5.”
Westwood One Adds Two to Affiliate Sales Staff. Saying that the move comes as it continues to boost its programming and station partnerships, Westwood One announces the addition of Tim Closson and Todd Alan to is affiliate sales team. Tim Closson will develop and manage Westwood One country radio syndication partnerships for “NASH Nights Live with Shawn Parr,” “Kickin’ It with Kix Brooks Overnights,” the newly announced NASH Icons, “American Country Countdown,” Lia, “Big Time with Whitney Allen,” “Country Weekly AM/PM,” “Country Gold with Randy Owen” and “Country Countdown USA with Lon Helton.” He’ll also help to affiliate Westwood One Sports products, including CBS Sports Radio and NBC Sports Radio. Todd Alan returns to Westwood One after serving as VP, affiliate sales and programming at Focus 360. He will work closely with stations and affiliating various entertainment shows and services, including the Bob & Tom show, “Pop Crush Hosted by Billy Bush,” “Nights Live with Adam Bomb,” “Flashback,” “Backtrax USA hosted by Kid Kelly,” “The Daly Download with Carson Daly,” “The Weekend Countdown with Billy Bush,” and prep services.
WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Check Presented. WEEI, Boston staffers are pictured here at Fenway Park prior to a Red Sox game helping present the ceremonial check from this year’s “WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance Foundation” which raised more than $3.3 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The two-day broadcast took place on August 19 and 20. During the 13 years the radio-telethon has been taking place, more than $37 million has been raised for adult and pediatric cancer care and research at the institute. Pictured here are (from left to right): Sox co-owner Tom Werner, Entercom market manager Phil Zachary, WEEI program director Kevin Graham, WEEI and WEEI Network executive producer Joe Zarbano, NESN’s Sean McGrail, Arbella Insurance Foundation’s Beverly Tangvik, and The Jimmy Fund’s Suzanne Fountain.
Bubba the Love Sponge Foundation Aids Officer’s Fiance. After two Charleston, South Carolina County deputy officers were shot – one succumbing to his wounds – while responding to a disturbance, syndicated radio host Bubba the Love Sponge’s foundation responded by sending $10,000 overnight to Rhianne Hearn, the fiance of Deputy Joe Matuskovic. Bubba told listeners to his affiliate stations, “My foundation’s mission is to immediately offer financial relief for the families of fallen officers and deputies in our syndicated markets.” His show is heard on LM Communications’ “98Rock,” WYBB-FM. He also announced there will be a “Bikes for Badges” charity motorcycle ride set for October 4, 2014, with details to be announced WYBB. All funds above and beyond $10,000 will go directly to Rhianne Hearn.
President Obama’s ISIS Press Conference, Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Prospects, Ray Rice Case, Bruce Levenson Racism Controversy, Scotland-U.K. Referendum, and Apple Announces New Products Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/9). The United States’ ISIS policy and President Obama’s Wednesday press conference on the matter; predictions about the looming mid-term elections and prospects for the 2016 presidential race; the NFL’s indefinite suspension of Ray Rice and talk about domestic violence in America; the controversy over Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson’s decision to sell his interest in the team after admitting sending a racially tinged email; the referendum that could see Scotland leave the UK; and the new products unveiled by Apple yesterday were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
NAB Show convention coverage by consultant Holland Cooke
The April NAB Show isn’t a radio convention, and the recurring theme radio people hear here is that stations can’t only be “in the radio business” anymore. Although NAB’s mission remains advocating for its member licensees, there are lots of people here who don’t work at stations. Conference themes such as “Where Content Comes to Life” and “Channel Opportunity” focus convention-goers on the reality that transmitter delivery is now merely part of broadcasters’ repertoire. And that the credibility and habitual use transmitters have earned is a big advantage competing with new-tech interlopers for audience and advertiser attention.
Journal’s WTMJ and ‘The Lake’ Name J. Pat Miller to Marketing Post. At the Milwaukee properties news/talk WTMJ and adult hits WLWK “94.5 The Lake,” Journal Broadcast Group ups J. Pat Miller to the new position director of marketing & innovation. The company says that in his new role, he’ll be responsible for the overall marketing activities of WTMJ and WLWK as well as designing and implementing new brand programs. VP and GM Tom Langmyer comments, “J. Pat has demonstrated his ability to create and develop new revenue streams. He will focus more of his attention on additional initiatives to grow our business.” Miller adds, “This new role is vital to our growth and the industry as a whole. The incredible team here at Journal’s Milwaukee Radio Operations can effortlessly pull off most anything we create.” Miller is overseeing the promotions department and the company announces that Alison Helf is named promotions manager.
Tribune’s WGWG-LP, Chicago Brings McKnight Aboard. The fledgling sports talk station Tribune’s WGN is building and airing on LMA’d WGWG-LP “The Game 87.7” adds another local sports talk personality to its staff. Connor McKnight – who’s served with CBS RADIO’s WSCR “The Score” for the past four years – joins “The Game 87.7” for an on-air role. According to Chicago media writer Robert Feder, McKnight will “make his first appearance Thursday (2/27) on Mark Carman’s show, which airs from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.” Feder reports he’ll become part of the daily lineup. At WSCR, McKnight hosted the “Hit and Run” baseball show as well as having been an anchor and reporter at the station. Read Feder’s story here.
Chris Dimino Set to Join ‘680 The Fan’ for ‘Rude Awakening’ Show. As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho, former WQXI sports talk personality Chris Dimino will become part of WCNN “680 The Fan” in an on-air capacity as his non-compete clause from WQXI expires on March 17. Dimino has been working for the station in an off-air capacity since last September but Ho reports he’ll join Christopher Rude and Perry Laurentino on the morning show soon. Dimino was part of the WQXI morning program – including fellow hosts Steak Shapiro and Nick Cellini – that was fired in the wake of the poorly thought out bit poking fun at former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason who is suffering from ALS. Read Ho’s entire piece here.
NAB Rejects Elimination of Advertising Tax Deduction. As part of a comprehensive tax code overhaul proposal being spearheaded by House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp (R-MI), the deduction that businesses can claim for advertising expenses would be eliminated and this oft-considered-but-never-enacted change has the NAB letting legislators know how it feels about it. NAB EVP of communications Dennis Wharton states, “NAB strongly opposes any job-killing proposal that would limit the ability of thousands of large and small businesses from fully deducting their annual advertising expenses. Advertising on local radio and television stations is a key driver of the American economy – indeed, a recent study found local broadcast advertising generates $1.05 trillion in GDP and supports 1.48 million jobs. NAB will work with lawmakers and other stakeholders to ensure the advertising tax deduction continues to create economic prosperity and well-paying jobs.” Since ad deduction elimination is just one part of a comprehensive tax overhaul proposal, it’s difficult to say how it would affect a company’s bottom line in the long run. Camp has stated his goal is to simplify the tax code – not to increase anyone’s tax burden – and there are other proposed changes that promise to help the bottom line of corporate and individual taxpayers. This is an election year so it’s unlikely there will be any action on this front any time soon.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn Defends CIN; Implies It’s Misunderstood. During a speech at Washington, DC’s Media Institute on Wednesday (2/26), FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn defended the controversial Critical Information Needs (CIN) study that would have researchers quizzing journalists and managers about how they choose news stories and information for dissemination to the public. Her speech came the day after Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) promised legislation to put the FCC’s study to rest for good, citing its potential intrusion into First Amendment areas and its scope being beyond the purview of the Commission. Clyburn explained that the Commission needs to understand the markets it regulates. She said that she would never be a part of anything that seeks to chill free speech or shape news gathering and that the goal was to “gather data and other information about whether there are any market entry barriers, preventing local communities from receiving important information…I am about facilitating ownership and opportunities and making sound decisions about our most critical industries based on solid research and not rhetoric.” Still, critics of the study argue that neither Clyburn nor FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler have adequately explained the connection between interviewing news people about story selection policy and barriers to station ownership for minorities.
Valerie Blackburn to Step Down at CBS RADIO Los Angeles. The word from Los Angeles is Valerie Blackburn – currently serving as controller for the CBS RADIO Los Angeles cluster and general manager of news/talk KFWB (residing in the KFWB license trust) – is resigning from her positions and is planning to take some time away from radio and work to travel and be with family and friends. Her exit will not be immediate and it’s assumed CBS is already working on finding her replacement.
Schultz Honored by Arizona Progressives. Nationally syndicated talk show host and MSNBC personality Ed Schultz is pictured here speaking at the annual Arizona Advocacy Network dinner on Saturday, February 22. Schultz was honored by the group for his work on key progressive issues and he addressed the attendees. He was clearly in the right state at the right time with the controversy over the Arizona religious freedom bill such a hot-button issue. (Photo: Josselyn Berry)
RAB: Radio’s Digital Revenue Expected to Rise 22%. That’s from the just-released Benchmarking: Local Radio Stations’ Online Revenues report from Borrell Associates and the Radio Advertising Bureau. The report states that digital revenues went up 15% in 2013 and the total figure for 2014 could be as high as $520 million. Some figures from this year’s report: the average radio station brought in $166,490 in digital advertising – about 3% of its total revenue; some large-market stations report making millions; the average revenue for four-station clusters is approaching $750,000. The data for the study is culled from three sources: ad revenue reported by the stations, local business ad spending, and a survey of radio managers. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “We’re experiencing year-over-year, double-digit growth in radio; and to truly maximize this revenue stream this survey continues to provide us with areas to improve upon and ultimately grow our overall revenue share. Most notably, sales managers are looking for continued training for their sales staffs and a better understanding of the digital buying community. The RAB is poised to help in this area through our professional development programs and outreach.”
Odds & Sods. Talk show host Stephanie Miller‘s “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” hits Fort Lauderdale, Florida Saturday, March 1. The progressive talker, whose show has played in theaters to sold-out crowds across the country, is appearing at the Parker Playhouse along with John Fugelsang, Carlos Alazraqui, special panel guest Judy Tenuta and more surprises…..“SportsRadio 94” WIP-FM, Philadelphia is presenting the “Great Birds Debate” remote broadcast today at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia. The station says it is one of the few times all year that the WIP airstaff is on the same stage together. Personalities Angelo Cataldi, Rhea Hughes, Michael Barkann, Ike Reese, Anthony Gargano, four-time champion Rob Ellis (also a member of the CBS 3 Sports Team), Josh Innes, Howard Eskin, CBS 3 Sports Director Beasley Reece, and Philadelphia Eagles insider Dave Spadaro will all be present to discuss and debate questions about the Eagles present and future. The event is free and open to the public…..At Detroit urban talker WCHB, John Mason leaves that Radio One outlet to take over the morning slot at sister urban AC WDMK where Reach Media’s Tom Joyner has been airing. Joyner moves to mornings at WCHB and that bumps talk host Mildred Gaddis from AMs to afternoon drive in Mason’s old slot…..A couple of notes from SiriusXM: U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will appear on the next installment of the “SiriusXM Leading Ladies” series, “candid conversations with influential and inspiring women who have forged their own paths to leadership and success.” SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. host and veteran White House correspondent Julie Mason will host the program on March 4 before a live audience at The Newseum in Washington, D.C. In addition to the one-on-one conversation between Leader Pelosi and Mason, the one-hour town hall style event will have an interactive element featuring questions from an audience of SiriusXM listeners, female students from D.C. universities and Newseum members. Also from SiriusXM, sports talk host Casey Stern re-ups with the satcaster for his daily hosting spot on the MLB Network Radio channel, as well as for expanded duties on additional SiriusXM sports channels. Stern will continue to host “Inside Pitch” alongside his co-host, former Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, every weekday afternoon…..Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York is bringing the world of fashion to its airwaves as it takes a look back at NY Fashion Week with an exclusive interview with Kenneth Cole. Hosted by Cristina Cuomo, editor of Manhattan magazine, from the Modern Luxury arm of Cumulus Media, the interview digs into Cole’s ambitions and inspirations. He also shares details of his groundbreaking advertising campaigns, views of fashion, social media, and much more. WABC program director Craig Schwalb says, “It was a real honor to work with our sister publication Manhattan and Cristina Cuomo to bring the iconic designer to WABC Radio. We are already making plans for this fall’s Fashion Week.”
Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises More Than $200,000 at ‘Golden Mike’ Event. At Monday evening’s black tie 2014 Golden Mike Award Dinner honoring BMI president Del Bryant, the Broadcasters Foundation of America raised more than $200,000 for its mission of helping broadcasters in need. More than 200 television, radio, and music industry executives and celebrities were in attendance. The evening was hosted by CBS News’ Bob Schieffer. Presenters for the evening were longtime personal and professional friends of Bryant’s: Michael Bolton, performer and BMI songwriter; Jack Sander, former chairman of the BMI board of directors; and Sandra Lee, internationally acclaimed culinary and home style expert and host of four highly rated programs on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, plus HGTV. Legendary singer, songwriter, musician, and actor Kris Kristofferson performed, as did songwriter Brenda Russell, who sang her top 10 hit “Piano In The Dark,” and “Get Here.” Dolly Parton opened a very moving video that provided a glimpse into Bryant’s amazing life — from his early years growing up as the son of songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant through his incredible 42-year career at BMI where he championed the works of some of the biggest songwriters in entertainment. Pictured above are (from l-r): Jim Thompson (president of the Broadcasters Foundation), Michael Bolton, Sandra Lee, Del Bryant, Bryant’s son Thaddeus, Kris Kristofferson, Brenda Russell, Bob Schieffer, and Phil Lombardo (chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation).
Brewer Vetoes ‘Religious Rights’ Bill, ObamaCare Criticism, U.S.-Russia Tensions Over Crimea-Ukraine, Immigration Legislation, Bitcoin Controversy, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/26). Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoes legislation that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to some based on religious beliefs; scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the political tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the strife in Ukraine and Crimea; new immigration legislation that includes an amnesty component; the bitcoin movement and recent events questioning its value; and speculation about Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
CBS Reports Radio Segment Down 4% in Q4 2013; Company Up 6%. While CBS Corporation CEO, president and director Les Moonves spoke glowingly about the performance of CBS Corporation as a whole during yesterday’s Q4 conference call, the radio segment was not part of the celebration and loss of political advertising was given the lion’s share of the blame. The company’s report indicates that after taking political out of the picture, CBS RADIO was flat compared to the same quarter in 2012. Moonves was upbeat about the radio division saying, “In radio, we continue to put an emphasis on great, local programming, which is leading to bigger audiences. During the most recent ratings period, we had double-digit ranking gains in the highly coveted 25- to 54-year-old demo in many of our major markets, and non-traditional revenue from special events was up double digits over one year ago. Our strategy to combine the company’s local TV and radio websites into a single online presence in every market also continues to pay off. In 2013, revenue was up 21% over the year before, and the momentum is continuing here in ’14, including a new record of nearly 57 million unique users in January. I’m also very pleased with the success of our CBS Interactive business. Revenue was up 14% during the quarter, and we continue to see very rapid growth in mobile ad revenue, which was up 118%, and it helped to increase profit substantially.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can read the whole conference call here.
Nielsen Q4 Revenue Up 11.8%; Rises 5.5% for 2013. Media ratings giant Nielsen Holdings N.V. issues its fourth quarter 2013 and full-year financial reports and states that Q4 revenue was $1.6 billion, an increase of 11.8% over the same period in 2012. For the full year of 2013, the company says its revenue was $5.7 billion, a jump of 5.5% over the full year of 2012. The company reports its free cash flow for 2013 increased 34.5% to $573 million from $426 million in 2012 while cash flow from operations increased 14.9% to $901 million in 2013 from $784 million in 2012. The result is the adjusted net income per share on a diluted basis for 2013 was $2.02, up 19.5% compared to $1.69 in the full year 2012. Nielsen acquired radio ratings firm Arbitron during 2013 and the move paid off. The Arbitron business helped add 9.3% to Nielsen’s Q4 revenue and 2.5% to its 2013 revenue.
CBS RADIO Dallas Ups Paul Mann to KRLD-AM PD. At CBS RADIO’s Dallas cluster, news director Paul Mann is promoted to program director for KRLD-AM “NewsRadio 1080 KRLD” and the Texas State Networks (TSN), effective immediately. Mann has served as news director for KRLD-AM and TSN since June 2006 and in this new role he will be primarily responsible for all programming and talent and will report to Gavin Spittle, vice president of news/talk/sports for CBS RADIO Dallas-Fort Worth. Spittle comments, “Paul has shown tremendous leadership as news director with the sole focus on serving the North Texas community. He’s helped put together a tremendous team which shares a great pride in this heritage station.” Under Mann’s leadership, KRLD-AM has been honored with two national Edward R. Murrow Awards, in 2008 (spot news) and 2013 (newscast).
Stella Prado Kuipers Lands at Salem Los Angeles. The successful, former KOST, Los Angeles program director joins Salem Communications to serve in the sales department working on multi-media marketing for Christian talk KKLA, Los Angeles. Stella Prado Kuipers made her announcement on her Facebook page where she wrote: “A new chapter in my life has begun and I’m proud to announce as of March 3rd I am an employee of Salem Communications Radio Broadcasting company! My position is multi-media marketing and I am thrilled to be a part of this company! I’m sooooo excited!” Kuipers had been with Clear Channel’s AC KOST for 20 years – eight as program director – before she was let go in December of 2012.
Programming Changes at WCTC, New Brunswick, New Jersey. A shuffle in afternoons at Greater Media-owned news/talk WCTC, New Brunswick, New Jersey sees current 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm personality Tommy G move to the afternoon drive slot replacing Newsmax-syndicated host Steve Malzberg. Into the early afternoon slot goes WestwoodOne’s Dennis Miller program. WCTC program director Bert Baron states, “We’re excited to welcome Dennis Miller to the WCTC weekday lineup. He’ll have Central Jersey laughing, thinking, and engaged on a daily basis. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have doing PM drive on WCTC than Tommy G, one of the most passionate and hard-working people I’ve ever known. This is a BIG WIN for WCTC and for Central Jersey.”
Is Nielsen “Lying” About Millennial Audiences? Noted industry observer Jerry Del Colliano thinks so. Del Colliano published a scathing indictment of the ratings research giant in his daily industry blog Inside Music Media (www.insidemusicmedia.com) this morning (2/12) referring to the Nielsen Audio (formerly Arbitron) report released earlier this week stating that “Millennials” (also known as “Generation Y”) are big fans of AM/FM radio and listen to it on average of 11.5 hours per week. This, of course, flies in the face of what has to this point been conventional industry wisdom strongly suggesting that over-the-air radio is rapidly losing ground as a medium of choice for the millions of 20-something children born to Baby Boomers in the 1980s-90s and now coming of age in the millions – a widespread perception that broadcast business leaders openly fear threatens the future of what is increasingly being marginalized as “terrestrial radio.” Del Colliano writes, “The company that now does PPM ratings which records listening that occurs by accident when meters randomly pick up an encoded radio signal is now weighing in on Millennials…an audience that clearly has no use for what consolidators put on the radio these days.” He accuses the major corporate consolidators in radio of “paying hundreds of millions of dollars to report audience estimates that the company [Nielsen] itself admits in a legal statement are not reliable.” Del Colliano is a veteran program director and radio personality who rose to prominence as the founder and publisher of the trade publication Inside Radio which he built to formidability as an independent journal prior to it being acquired by Clear Channel, which still publishes it. Del Colliano has subsequently served a number of years as a member of the music department faculty at the University of Southern California (USC) teaching and writing courses on “Generational Media” specifically documenting and understanding the traits and habits of the rapidly maturing Millennial generation – a subject that he regularly shares with radio industry leaders via his blog and annual conference.
Speaking of Jerry Del Colliano… TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison recently interviewed Jerry Del Colliano on the TALKERS magazine “experimental” talk radio station, TalkersRadio, (www.talkers.com/talkersradio) as a complete installment of the one-hour, media-discussion program he hosts. The program, recorded two-weeks ago (prior to today’s provocative Del Colliano blog), presents the two industry observers in an in-depth discussion about the very subject of the delicate relationship AM/FM radio and Gen-Y. In it, Del Colliano discusses such issues as Gen-Y’s obsession with authenticity as well as its consumer interest in non-over-the-air digital media. To listen directly to the entire 58:00 installment of this first-time public conversation between Michael Harrison and Jerry Del Colliano, please click
Talk Host Joe Crummey Publishes Non-Fiction Book. Talk radio pro Joe Crummey has just published his first non-fiction book titled, Planking on Headstones: Your Future Outside of Time (School of Eddiness 2013). The veteran of such historic signals as WABC, New York; KFI, Los Angeles; WNBC, New York; KABC, Los Angeles and KFYI, Phoenix penned this new book that “takes the reader on a journey through space-time that’s rich in love, loss, fear and contemplation. With notes of his on-air, quick-wit persona, Planking on Headstones distills complex issues of religion and science into memorable anecdotes that elicit laughter, tears and a sense of connection. Crummey openly shares about his life, from his brain tumor to the death of his parents, as he explains his theories, such as the ‘Fonzie Principle,’ the ‘Boston Market Revelation’ and the ‘Jesus Burger.’ He also explains why he believes the Big Bang is the most evil thing that has ever happened.” Crummy states, “Throughout my career, I often discussed and challenged religious tenets on air with my audience. But after going through the brain tumor experience, my quest for meaning in this life and beyond intensified. I began to understand the importance of thinking outside of time and allowed myself to imagine the impossible while I explored this subject matter.”
Clear Channel Renews Promotional Deal with Relativity. In a statement, Clear Channel says that the renewed cross-media marketing collaboration between it and media company Relativity will include one-of-a-kind campaigns promoting upcoming movies on the part of Clear Channel and Relativity will provide exclusive content created by its filmmakers and talent that will be shared with listeners and viewers through various Clear Channel platforms. “The programs will also include organic promotional support from popular radio personalities such as Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran, Dan Patrick and Steve Harvey; naturally integrated film imaging across local stations and iHeartRadio’s national digital and mobile ad units; homepage website takeovers; and national and local on-air commercial inventory.” Clear Channel says previous successful collaborations between the companies included campaigns for the films “Limitless,” “Immortals,” “Act of Valor,” “Safe Haven” and “Free Birds.”
Odds & Sods. Talk media personality David Webb signs on to write a column for DC political publication The Hill. His column will be available every other Wednesday in The Hill’s print edition, online at thehill.com and on The Hill’s app. In addition to his daily SiriusXM talk show, Webb also appears frequently on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” and “The Five.”…..Sports USA adds a podcast featuring former NFL star and TV personality Fred Dryer to its programming. Sports USA president Bob Moore says, “Fred Dryer is a true NFL legend and a major TV star. We are excited to add Fred’s show to our growing list of digital audio programs…..WNYC, New York names David Lewis its new metro editor. Lewis taught journalism at CUNY for the past seven years.
NAB to Feature RAB Sales and Marketing Sessions. The Radio Advertising Bureau will present five revenue- and growth-oriented presentations at this year’s NAB Show. RAB president and chief executive officer Erica Farber explains that, “The RAB is in the business of helping sellers on the street close deals and help drive revenue for the radio industry. These sessions will drive home key lessons and tools of the trade. NAB Show attendees will find these sessions invaluable to their future success in the broadcast business.” Specifically, the Radio Advertising Bureau’s focus will be “Lunch and Learn – A Discussion on Radio’s Four Significant Issues;” “Concentrating on Core Radio Revenues;” “Creative Radio Commercial Production and Imaging;” and “Rapid-Fire Revenue Generators for Small and Medium Market Radio.” The NAB Show will be held April 5 – 10 in Las Vegas.
WDVI-FM and WHAM in Rochester Hold Radiothon to Benefit Children’s Hospital. Today and tomorrow Clear Channel Rochester stations hot AC WDVI “100.5 The Drive” and news/talk WHAM are broadcasting the annual “Drive For Miracles Radiothon” to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital live from the lobby of Strong Hospital. Throughout the event, on-air personalities from each station will talk with current and former patients, their families, and the hard-working hospital staff that “creates miracles” every day. Personalities including WHAM’s Chet Walker, Bob Lonsberry, Shari Smith, Joe Lomonaco, and Bob Matthews and WDVI’s Bill Moran, Julie, JP, and “The Mayor” Pete Kennedy will broadcast from the hospital.
BFoA Names 2014 Ward L. Quaal Leadership Awards Recipients. This year’s recipients of the 2014 Ward L. Quaal Leadership Awards have been announced by the Broadcasters Foundation of America. They will be presented at the Foundation’s annual breakfast on Wednesday, April 9, at the Wynn Hotel during the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas. This year’s recipients are: Jim Beloyianis, past president, Katz TV; Dan Mason, president & CEO, CBS RADIO; Deborah Norville, host, “Inside Edition”; Mary Quass, president & CEO, NRG Media; Perry Sook, chairman/president & CEO, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc.; and Nick Verbitsky, chairman, United Stations Radio Networks. The Leadership Awards are given annually by the Broadcasters Foundation in recognition of career contributions to the broadcast industry and the community at large, and are named in honor of iconic broadcaster Ward L. Quaal.
Winter Weather Hits South and Northeast, ObamaCare Rollout Criticism, Afghanistan Prisoner Release, Paul NSA Suit, Debt Ceiling Raised, the Sochi Olympics and Gay NFL Prospect Comes Out Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/12). The unusually severe winter weather bearing down on the South and the Northeast; scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s unilateral delay of the employer mandate; Afghanistan’s release of numerous “dangerous” inmates and the state of the U.S.’s relationship with Hamid Karzai; Senator Rand Paul’s suit against the NSA; the GOP’s signing on with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling; the Sochi Winter Olympic Games; and the coming out of NFL prospect Michael Sam were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
RAB Connects Radio and Home Improvement Spending. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau’s Finding Consumer Trends (F.C.T.) Report, “when consumers are determining their next home improvement project, radio ads influence that decision. Also, listener trust is positively influenced when a favorite radio station personality promotes a particular home improvement project or service – especially among 18-34 year olds.” Radio Advertising Bureau president and CEO Erica Farber adds, “The findings from the survey demonstrate radio’s ability to persuade and influence behavior. With 75% of the survey respondents being homeowners, it’s clear that radio is a key medium for home improvement companies and services to reach their target audience.” The study was conducted from October 29 to November 19, 2013 and queried over 12,300 respondents aged 18+ about their home improvement plans, timelines and estimated budgets. The RAB worked with Presslaff Interactive Revenue on the study and determined some of the top goals of homeowners regarding home improvement projects. Presslaff president Ruth Presslaff states, “The information from this report provides RAB members with the information they need to drive sales for their stations. The identification of consumers’ home improvement goals and preferences is certain to open doors for radio sellers and create a dialogue with local home improvement businesses and services.” The RAB and Presslaff are presenting a webinar on this study on January 30 for members. To become an RAB member, please call Member Response at 800-232-3131.
Sean Hannity for Senator? Governor? President? There’s often speculation in the media about the possibility high-profile personalities – especially those in the news/talk game – would ever run for public office. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated radio star and Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity entertained that notion during the #Ask Sean segment of his FNC show on January 21. His response? “The answer is ‘yes, I think about it.’” When asked about what office he’d consider, he responded, “I’m leaving New York as you know…so it would be either in Texas or Florida.” If Hannity does seriously consider a run for office, it would be down the road as he indicates he has ties to New York for the near future – kids in school, etc. – and contractual obligations that have him working in New York. In case you missed it, Hannity’s plans to leave New York come after Governor Andrew Cuomo made public comments critical of those with traditional conservative values including being pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and opposed to same-sex marriage. The idea of Sean Hannity being political office “material” is not new, especially as a concept floated in TALKERS. Almost a decade ago the print version of this publication featured a bold cover with an artist’s rendition of a gray “mature” version of the handsome radio star delivering a mythical presidential press conference as the nation’s Commander in Chief. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, who is vehemently non-partisan as a function of his role in the broadcasting industry, makes no secret of his admiration for Hannity’s qualities as a person of substance and potential leadership skills outside the radio show world. Regarding today’s news story, Harrison states, “Regardless of where you stand on his political positions, on the larger playing field of life, Sean Hannity is an extremely authentic human being with remarkable ‘people skills.’ I have witnessed him in action long enough and know enough radio broadcasters over the years to recognize how out of the ordinary he is. Hannity might be a staunch conservative and Republican Party advocate, which serves a purpose in the mosaic of things in radio and the larger marketplace of ideas – but forget the stereotypes…he is also one of the most compassionate and generous human beings in terms of his day-to-day life, his charitable work, and his dealings with colleagues in the business of all stripes. He also works a room (from the position of central player) better than anyone I have EVER seen, including Bill Clinton! I’m not saying Sean Hannity will be president. But I believe he would be extremely effective as a congressional or gubernatorial candidate in the right situation. In the meantime, from a purely selfish perspective, I truly hope he forestalls any such ambitions for years to come. We need people of his talent and character in this business and we need them now.”
Dan Spadafora Named Brand Manager at WHTC, Holland, Michigan. In West Michigan, Midwest Communications brings Dan Spadafora aboard as brand manager and morning drive personality at WHTC, Holland, Michigan (25 miles southwest of Grand Rapids). Spadafora comes to WHTC from his most recent position with Clear Channel’s sports talk WMAX-FM, Grand Rapids “96.1 FM ESPN” and sister news/talk combo WOOD-AM/FM. He says in a statement, “Radio to me has always been more than simply a job. It is about providing a service to the community while also doing something I love. I want to show that not only is radio alive and well, but this station in town can be a station people can depend on for local news and information. ‘Holland’s Hometown Station’ should be a news leader.”
Journal Broadcast Group Re-Aligns; Separates Radio and TV. The move means that Journal Broadcast Group EVP and GM for the Milwaukee TV and radio stations Steve Wexler takes on the new role of EVP of radio for the company. Debbie Turner is named EVP of television. Journal Communications president and CFO Andre Fernandez explains, “As we have invested in our broadcast businesses and expanded our geographic footprint over the last decade, we believe that repositioning our broadcast segment around television and radio recognizes the unique expertise we’ve always had in Journal Broadcast Group around each medium. These changes also ensure the appropriate strategic focus and resourcing for each business, and should help us further improve our operational performance.”
Cox Media Group Announces Openings in Tampa Cluster. With the promotion of Tim Clarke to director of digital audience and the departure of program director Michael Sharkey, Cox Media Group Tampa has three new programming positions as a result of organizational changes following these events. Tampa VP and market manager Keith Lawless states, “CMG has invested the last four years in creating some of the biggest and most successful brands in Tampa Bay. This is a very unique opportunity that CMG Tampa has not seen in decades. The entire CMG family is eager to welcome the next programming leaders to help take these big brands to the next level.” Positions include:
- CMG Tampa Operations Manager (OM): This new position will oversee all programming and content for CMG Tampa’s six top rated FM brands. Those stations include WWRM “Magic 94.9,” WSUN “97X,” WPOI “HOT 101.5,” WHPT “102.5 The Bone,” WDUV “105.5 The Dove,” and WXGL “107.3 The Eagle.” This individual will oversee all program directors and will report to the Tampa VP/market manager. The OM will also have PD responsibilities for one or more stations.
- WPOI/WSUN Program Director: This individual will be responsible for the branding and growth of Tampa Bay’s most innovative 18-49 brands, “HOT 101.5” and “97X.” In its third year in format, “HOT 101.5” is a top ranked CHR while “97X” delivers one of the deepest relationships with its listeners as America’s premiere Listener Driven Radio station. This individual must have a track record of successfully developing brands as well as a deep understanding of emerging digital and social platforms. This position will report to the OM.
- WHPT 102.5 The Bone Program Director: This person will be responsible for the overall operation of America’s hottest talk radio station. “The Bone” has one of radio’s largest personalities with the highest ratings, all on Florida’s hottest signal. The successful candidate will have a track record of successfully operating talk-based formats, working with high-profile talent, and creatively marketing and growing brands like “The Bone.”
Interested candidates should send their resumes and cover letter to Keith Lawless: 1015.Lawless@coxinc.com.
Twitter Tip: Think Twice. Broadcasters using Twitter to connect with their audience are offered some tips from media consultant Holland Cooke who writes the following. Observation: You won’t lose followers by not Tweeting. Twitter is a powerful tool. I myself was a late-adopter, and I’m real impressed. AND IT’S FREE…and that’s a double-edged sword. Tip: Pretend that each Tweet costs you a dollar. Why? Watch your followers numbers. They tend to go down right after you’ve Tweeted something, which, apparently, one or more followers didn’t find relevant. Don’t take it personally! Whoever just left (and I wish there was a way to know who) might’ve followed you in the first place because an earlier Tweet was as enticing as the one that turned ‘em off wasn’t. You yourself will un-follow after perhaps even a Tweet doesn’t grab you. Spam is spam, whatever the platform. I was recently exposed to some research that demonstrated something you might find unsurprising: Tweets about one’s self get re-Tweeted less than Tweets which link to third party internet content. In Contagious: Why Things Catch On (Simon & Schuster), Wharton prof Jonah Berger writes, “People like to pass along practical useful information. News others can use.” Social media is sharing. Facebook seems to be degenerating into pictures of what the waiter just delivered.
Odds & Sods. WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive talk host Chris Stigall got the chance to do an in-studio segment with WestwoodOne syndicated talk host, SNL alum and comic Dennis Miller as the latter was on the East Coast for a stand-up gig at a nearby Delaware casino. The two talked about Jimmy Fallon succeeding Jay Leno, his take on the job President Obama is doing and a look ahead to a possible Chris Christie-Hillary Clinton race in 2016…..Nationally syndicated Nashville-based talk host Phil Valentine will appear on Fox Business Channel this evening (1/23) to discuss the issue of global warming on John Stossel’s program. Valentine recently produced the film “An Inconsistent Truth” challenging current global warming conclusions. Also appearing on tonight’s show are Bill Nye the Science Guy and Marc Morano who runs the website ClimateDepot.com…..Fox Sports Radio Network is announcing it will be broadcasting live from New York next week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII as it has for the past 13 years. Beginning Monday, Fox Sports Radio will bring listeners programming and updates from several locations throughout New York City as the Dan Patrick show, “Jay Mohr Sports,” J.T. The Brick and “Steve Gorman SPORTS!” broadcast live from the center of the action…..Once again ESPN Deportes Radio is presenting play-by-play of the Super Bowl in Spanish. Coverage will begin with a three-hour special Super Bowl preview from the stadium with analysis by Kenneth Garay, Sebastian Christensen, Eduardo Martell, Carlos Arratia and Marcelo Sandrin. Game coverage starts at 6:00 p.m. with Garay (play-by-play) alongside Christensen (analysis) in the booth, and Sandrin reporting from the field…..The San Franciso 49ers name former NFL player Tim Ryan color analyst for 49ers radio broadcasts. He replaces Eric Davis and will work with Ted Robinson. Cumulus Media‘s sports KNBR and rock KSAN serve as flagships for San Franciso football games.
Global Warming/Eastern Freeze-Western Drought, Roe v. Wade Anniversary, ObamaCare Rollout, Bob McDonnell Investigation, ‘Real’ U.S. Unemployment Figures, and Iran Nuclear Deal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/22). The freezing winter weather affecting the East and the Western drought plus talk of their possible relationship to global warming; the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal; criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; the investigation of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on corruption charges; the report that the real unemployment figure in the United States is over 30%; and the deal being struck with Iran over its nuclear program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
KFI’s Internal Shuffling “Replaces” Limbaugh. Rather than bringing in another host to cover the gaping hole left by Rush Limbaugh, it looks like Clear Channel, Los Angeles talker KFI will adjust the times of some of its existing personalities. Morning talent Bill Handel will apparently get to sleep an extra hour, as he will handle 6:00 am – 10:00 am duties (from 5:00 am – 9:00 am), while Bill Carroll will adjust to 10:00 am – 2:00 pm from 12:00 noon – 3:00pm. In place of their 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm shift, afternoon drivers John & Ken will extend one more hour to 7:00 pm. Tim Conway Jr. remains at 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, with syndicated talent George Noory following until 5:00 am. As of today, Gary Hoffmann debuts the 5:00 am – 6:00 am “Wake-up Call.” These moves are necessitated owing to Limbaugh transitioning from powerhouse KFI to co-owned, newly re-branded KEIB “The Patriot” (formerly KTLK-AM).
Gann Going to San Antonio as WOAI – KTKR PD. Brian Gann is leaving Journal Broadcast Group Tulsa to program Clear Channel San Antonio news/talk WOAI and sports KTKR “The Ticket.” According to president and market manager Marlene Trevino, “We are very fortunate to have Brian join our team in San Antonio. He brings a wealth of experience to WOAI and KTKR and we look forward to the bright future ahead under his leadership.” Gann comments, “I am excited to have the opportunity to help lead WOAI and ‘The Ticket.’ There is a terrific team in place there and I am honored to be able to join them.” While in Tulsa, Gann was operations manager of adult hits KBEZ “Bob FM,” KFAQ “Tulsa’s Talk Radio,” CHR KHTT “K-Hits,” KVOO “Today’s Country Variety,” and classic country KXBL “Big Country.” He starts his San Antonio assignment in one week (1/30).
Mark Arum Gets Nightly Show at WSB, Atlanta. Traffic reporter Mark Arum is taking over the 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight daily show at Cox Media Atlanta’s news/talk WSB after handling weekend and fill-in roles at the station. This new gig comes in addition to his traffic reporter roles at WSB-TV, news/talk WSB-AM and hot AC WSB-FM “B98.5.” As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho, Arum replaces Adam Goldfein who exited the late show role at the end of 2013 for personal reasons. Arum tells Ho that he’s been wanting a daily show since his arrival at WSB in 1997. Cox Media did give him a chance to host a daily show at its Stamford and Norwalk, Connecticut stations back in 2008 and he says it provided “invaluable experience.”
Learfield’s Worsham, Boman, Heim Elevated to Senior Positions. Missouri-based Learfield Communications promotes Aaron Worsham, Tom Boman, and Jennifer Heim. Worsham advances from vice president to senior vice president of affiliate relations and operations; broadcast manager Boman is boosted to vice president of broadcast operations; and corporate controller Heim becomes vice president/corporate controller. Worsham and Boman manage the company’s sports operations division, which oversees all aspects related to broadcast talent and station relationships for Learfield Sports’ radio networks as part of its multimedia rights partnerships with university athletic programs. Senior vice president/chief content officer Joe Ferreira comments, “Aaron and Tom have exhibited outstanding leadership and execution skills throughout their tenure at Learfield Sports and have taken our industry-leading audio business to great heights. Producing and managing thousands of broadcasts annually for our 50-plus networks, key flagship and affiliate partners and digital distribution networks is a daunting task. These well-deserved promotions reflect growth and success in all areas.” Meanwhile, chief financial officer Matt Hupfeld states, “Jennifer is a true professional who has proven to be an excellent asset to Learfield. She is well deserving of assuming the vice president role and we know she will continue to do an outstanding job.” Worsham has been with Learfield since 1999. Prior to joining the company in 2006, Boman was a producer with the Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network and Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles. CPA Heim’s background includes being a financial manager for Brookstone and a senior auditor for several companies.
Michael Smerconish to Publish First Novel About Conservative Talk Show Host. The book is titled, Talk (Cider Mill Press 2014) and is due out in May. But as Michael Smerconish tells the Washington Post, “My highest purpose is to entertain…a lot of it is fake.” Still, readers of the book about a fictional conservative talk host from Florida who finds himself in the thick of a hotly contested presidential race, will probably find a lot of what transpires culled from the reality of the talk radio business in which Michael Smerconish has dwelt during his career. Now working at SiriusXM after years on AM/FM radio, Smerconish ruffled some feathers when he left for satellite radio saying, in effect, he felt the requirement talk hosts on AM/FM be easily pigeonholed was holding him, and the industry, back. Previews of the book indicate that while this is fiction, Smerconish just may be taking a few shots at the facet of the industry he left behind as he tells his story.
Opinion: Hang On A Minute, Bill. Weighing in on the Bill O’Reilly’s recent “promotion” for Pandora, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian observes: “On the positive side, Bill O’Reilly last week let known his partisanship for one particular iconic American vocal group on his Fox News Channel television program. Conversely, terrestrial music radio programmers just might remember certain comments he made should O’Reilly ever look to them to plug his next book or project on that platform. In an approximately 45-second “Tip of the Day” segment, the “O’Reilly Factor” host gave a thumbs-up to Pandora over terrestrial radio. “Do you like music,” he queried. “I do [and] there are plenty of free ways to get it. The easiest way is to turn on the radio.” So far, so good. Then O’Reilly said, “The problem with the radio is that for every good song there are three bad songs. So, you can hear [good songs] like The Beach Boys‘ ‘Help Me Rhonda,’ [and] ‘Fun, Fun, Fun.’ [Those are] good songs, but then you’ll hear ‘Hang on Sloopy’ – painful.” Off-camera laughter was audible as O’Reilly winced at the thought of The McCoys‘ song. His advice was to have his audience “check out” Pandora.com’s free website. In amazement, he remarked about the logistics of typing “the song you like and you get the song played to you. Then, you get other songs similar to it [so] you are basically creating your own radio station. Let me know what you think.” After having mentioned Pandora by name three times in under one minute, O’Reilly insisted he “had no interest in that website at all.” His motive was to tell his audience because, “I like you.” Not to nitpick the host, but his mention of “Help Me Rhonda” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” sounded like one run-on title, especially since he said, “That is a good song.” Moreover, he was only able to cite one “painful” tune, compared to two good ones. Whether or not by coincidence, the three specific titles O’Reilly mentioned were from the mid-1960s. We wonder if he has heard of YouTube yet.
Plans Underway for Ron Ruth Memorial Benefit. The event celebrating the life of Ron Ruth will take place next month (Tuesday, 2/25) at the New York Friars Club and is being organized by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) in conjunction with the Broadcasters Foundation. Actively arranging the festivities for their late broadcast colleague are The Friends of Ron Ruth Memorial Benefit Committee consisting of Erica Farber, Norm Feuer, George Hyde, Bill Moyes, Herb McCord, Jeff Smulyan, Jim Thompson, and Erle Younker. A portion of the proceeds from the $250 ticket price will be donated to the Ron Ruth Memorial Fund at the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Ruth was executive vice president of stations for the RAB for 19 years. He held sales manager positions for Unistar Radio Networks, as well as at the local level in markets such as New York (WOR-FM), Chicago (WNUS), Washington, DC (WGMS), and Buffalo (WYSL). Ruth left Unistar to join the Radio Advertising Bureau in 1992. Most recently, he was consulting the RAB. He died of a heart attack this past November 16 in Florida.
New York Festivals International Radio Competition Announces Call for Entries. Now through March 19, the New York Festivals is accepting entries for the 32nd annual “World’s Best Radio Programs” competition. This competition is unique in that entries are received from between 30 and 50 nations across the globe each year. Competition executive director Rose Anderson tells TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian that global scope is important, “One thing that is most important to us is that we make New York Festivals Radio Program Awards a destination for people all over the world who are creating radio that is interesting, innovative, and of very high quality.” Anderson adds that the grand jury members (judges) enjoy the high quality of radio they review. “They have consistently written comments that the quality of the entries is fantastic. People are entering material in drama, news, documentaries, talk, and music that continues to make new ways of telling stories. We have had entries from Radio Free Asia; from folks on the scene who described the riots in Cairo; and people from Romania who submitted amazing audio of drama.” With 130 headings, the scope of the competition is wide. To find out more about the New York Festivals Radio Program Awards, click here.
Cumulus ‘Big Game’ Party. The scene here is the Roseland Ballroom in New York City yesterday as Cumulus Media’s hot AC WPLJ; country WNSH “Nash FM 94.7,” and news/talk WABC come together to put on a ‘Big Game Party’ in honor of the NFL’s championship being decided in the nearby Met Life stadium in two weeks. Sunday’s event was hosted by Todd Pettengill of WPLJ. The venue was filled to capacity with over 3,000 guests enjoying a sports expo, playoff viewing party, station games, and food. Former New York Giants wide receiver and NBC Sports Radio Network personality Amani Toomer was on hand meeting the many loyal listeners! Pettengill states, “The first annual Cumulus Big Game Party was an absolute example of synergy. Three radio stations with different audiences, air staff’s, came together to make the perfect circle of success. I can’t wait for next January!” The evening concluded with a performance by Daughtry.
WCBS, New York Producer/Engineer Silva Dies. Radio producer and engineer Carlos Silva died at age 50 after a battle with stomach and esophageal cancer in Lutz, Florida on Sunday (1/19). Silva worked for CBS RADIO’s WCBS, New York where he produced New York Yankees broadcasts. He had also worked game broadcasts for ESPN Radio, the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia Phillies Spanish-language broadcasts, and the old New Jersey Nets.
Cool Job Opportunity. Syndication Specialist Needed – The Dave Ramsey Show, now the 3rd largest syndicated talk show in the nation with more than 530 affiliates, is in need of a Go-Getter willing to take on this growing demand. This person will work with our small- and mid-sized markets. Duties will consist of new market development as well as serving existing affiliates and building relationships. Our organization has been voted Best Place to Work in Nashville for six years in a row for a reason. If you think you have what it takes and are interested in working in an environment where you can learn and grow, we need to talk. Interested candidates apply at: http://www.daveramsey.com/company/view-all-jobs/
News/Talk Radio Remembers JFK. As the nation commemorates the fateful, painful events of November 22 1963, the media at large - newspapers, television and, of course, radio — are focused across the board on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Obviously, the subject is dominating conversation on news/talk radio today in the form of historical documentaries, as well as live talk shows in which every aspect of the almost mythical story is rehashed, retold, analyzed and memorialized. Many shows are spending time giving listeners the opportunity to recall “where they were and what they were doing” when the horrible news was announced. As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison points out, “This milestone serves as a powerful generational marker in our industry’s obsession with demographics that basically breaks audiences down to two significantly different categories — those who remember JFK and the events of November 22, 1963… and those who don’t.”
Compass Media Marketing Will Represent Tom Leykis. As of the first of next year (January 2014), Compass Media Marketing will be the advertising sales agent for “The Tom Leykis Show.” CMM will do similar duties for the talk show host’s NewNormalNetwork.com and BlowMeUpTom.com. “We are appreciative to the tens of thousands of listeners who are tuning in daily to our show,” Leykis remarks. “The time is right to start aggressively marketing the show to sponsors and we are thrilled to work with the Compass team.” Compass Media Marketing president of advertising sales Paul Gregrey comments that Leykis is a “creative genius” with a “highly engaged and loyal audience. There is limitless upside for growth, both in terms of listenership and sponsors.” Introduced last year, the latest version of Leykis’ talk show is a streaming internet-centric call-in program, which is broadcast daily at 3:00 pm (PT) from Burbank. This past Tuesday (11/19), we mentioned that Leykis put himself up for auction on eBay. The stunt raked in $7,800 for his company and Leykis tells TALKERS, “This promotion worked perfectly for us because it engaged our audience, it brought press attention to our growing brand, and it brought us substantial revenue. For The New Normal, it was nothing short of a homerun. [Furthermore, it] makes it hard to accept the whining of radio stations who say that they ‘can’t monetize’ digital.”
Reports of Renewed TRN Activity Circulating. There’s buzz in the industry that Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters is working to bring some of his talent back on the radio hosting live programs. TALKERS sources indicate Masters and talk personality Jerry Doyle have come to terms that have allowed Doyle to return to his program immediately. Doyle and other Talk Radio Network personalities have not been hosting regular live shows for most of the past month or so in the wake of a financial disruption at the company that involved staff layoffs at the Grants Pass, Oregon home offices and numerous legal actions between Masters and current and former employees. Other rumors circulating purported that talk host Rusty Humphries is also soon to be returning to the program schedule at TRN but TALKERS sources report Humphries and Masters have not come to terms that would bring Humphries back to TRN. TALKERS has reached out to Masters for comment but as of this posting there has been no response. Stay tuned.
Geraldo to Remain with Cumulus Media. Any rumors circulating the internet that Geraldo Rivera’s days with Cumulus Media are numbered are untrue says company COO John Dickey. Geraldo – who is based at the company’s WABC, New York and is also heard on its Los Angeles news/talker KABC as well as 45 other news/talk outlets – airs live from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. Dickey tells TALKERS, “Geraldo is going to be working even more closely with us next year – still anchoring 10:00 am to 12:00 noon on WABC – as well as spearheading our Putting America Back to Work (PABTW) initiative.” Geraldo began his program on WABC, New York in January 2012.
Norm Pattiz Discusses Podcasting and the State of the Radio Industry on TalkersTV. An exclusive video of Courtside Entertainment, LLC/Podcast One CEO Norm Pattiz‘s presentation at the recent Talkers Los Angeles 2013 conference has been posted today (11/22) on TalkersTV (top panel of boxes on right hand side of this page). In what was billed as a “keynote conversation,” with TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, the noted industry pioneer, who founded the original Westwood One and created a veritable media empire from scratch, discusses the impact and meaning of podcasting as an extension of the radio industry as well as other important issues of the broadcasting business. During the presentation he asks the provocative question, “When was the last time you can think of a national star that was created on network radio? Been a while, hasn’t it!” He goes on to state, “There’s a demographic national star created in podcasting every week. That’s because in the podcasting world, the only people you have to satisfy are your audiences and consumers.” To view the entire video presentation, see TalkersTV on the upper right side of every page on Talkers.com.
RAB: Third Quarter Radio Spot Revenue Up 1%. The Radio Advertising Bureau reports its 2013 Q3 figures and states after two flat quarters, radio spot advertising rose 1% on sales of $3.684 million. The report also notes that network revenue was down 11% while digital rose 19% and off-air was up 3%. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “The momentum we saw building at the end of Q2 has definitely translated into a positive Q3 for radio in many of our top 10 advertiser categories, led by communications/cellular with a healthy 24% increase. Among key categories, automotive, professional services, health care, home furnishings, all showed substantial increases, as well. Increases from these diverse ad categories illustrate radio’s cross-platform strength to drive traffic and sales – for large corporations to Main Street businesses.”
Chuck Todd Readies to Add Radio Duties. “Unscripted with Chuck Todd” is the name of the one-hour (9:00 am to 10:00 am) Saturday show the veteran journalist will launch in two weeks (12/7) on SiriusXM‘s “P.O.T.U.S.” channel. “In this day and age, people tend to think they have more access to newsmakers and politicians, when in many ways, they actually have less,” Todd comments. “We will aim to help listeners get to know powerful people in a different way – as human beings, not as sound-bite machines. I look forward to talking to many famous amateur political junkies out there who just happen to have day jobs in the worlds of sports, Hollywood, Wall Street and everywhere in between.” According to SiriusXM vice president/general manager of talk programming Dave Gorab, “Chuck will go outside his normal field of reporting and delve into the personal passions and interests of not just politicians but leaders from virtually every field of interest. This show is new territory for Chuck, but will be built on his journalistic savvy and experience.” Todd hosts MSNBC‘s “Daily Rundown” and is NBC News’ chief White House correspondent.
Atlantic City Talk Host Pinky Kravitz Celebrates 55 Years on WOND. Atlantic City talk radio legend Seymour “Pinky” Kravitz is celebrating his 55th anniversary on WOND this afternoon with a special broadcast from the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The station notes that Kravitz has broadcast more than 169,000 hours of air time (that’s over 701 consecutive days!) from more than 20 remote broadcasting locations and more than a handful of time changes. It boasts that 1400 AM is where South Jersey still turns for “informative and provocative conversation. Pinky Kravitz has become one of the region’s most recognized, trusted and beloved media personalities through what has become the longest running radio program (on one station by one personality) in the country.” Longport Media president Dave Coskey states, “It’s amazing that in an industry where longevity is often measured in months or years that we measure Pinky’s career on WOND in decades. Pinky’s career spans not only decades but generations – generations of listeners all who have spent time in Pinky’s Corner. And his brand is even stronger today than it was in 1958.” Kravitz adds, “I’ve been blessed to not only have the support of my family, a radio station and city for all of these years but also the love and support of an entire region.” In addition to his daily radio show on WOND, Kravitz also hosts a weekly television program on WMGM-TV and writes a weekly column for the Press of Atlantic City.
Saga Communications to Pay Special Cash Dividend. Saga Communications, Inc. announces its Board of Directors is declaring a special cash dividend of $1.80 per share on its Classes A and B Common Stock to be paid on December 12, 2013 to shareholders of record on December 2, 2013. The aggregate amount of the payment to be made in connection with the special dividend will be approximately $10.3 million. This special cash dividend will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet.
Paul Finebaum Show to Air on SiriusXM’s ESPN Channel. The formerly Birmingham-based sports talker – now calling Charlotte home and produced and syndicated nationally via ESPN Radio – joins the ESPN Xtra channel on SiriusXM effective Monday, November 25. Paul Finebaum joined ESPN in August after years of success on Cumulus Media’s WJOX-FM, Birmingham. Finebaum’s show airs live from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET.
Honda Displays HD Radio Civic Pride. The Los Angeles Auto Show is not typically where you would expect to find something noteworthy about the radio business. That, however, is where HD Radio developer iBiquity Digital this week announced that the 2014 Civic is the first Honda vehicle to launch integrated audio and real-time traffic information using the HERE mapping service, BTC, and HD Radio technology. iBiquity Digital chief operating officer Jeff Jury comments, “Honda is showing real leadership in bringing the benefits of digital HD Radio data to their vehicles. This is another great example of a leading automaker integrating digital terrestrial technology as part of a connected vehicle strategy.” Honda Civic navigation systems incorporate HD Radio audio and data features, including a way for listeners to view album art and other images on their radio screens. There is subscription-free, real-time traffic information, showing flow patterns, construction alerts, and traffic incidents to drivers. In addition to Honda, other automakers integrating digital traffic and data services include Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Toyota. More than 30 automakers have announced plans to incorporate HD Radio in over 170 models by the end of this year. Nearly seven-dozen models will feature HD Radio receivers as standard equipment. The 2014 Honda Civic arrives at dealerships next month.
Ron Ruth Memorial Fund Announced. The Radio Advertising Bureau and the Broadcasters Foundation of America are announcing the creation of the Ron Ruth Memorial Fund in celebration of the life and work of Ruth and to benefit the Broadcasters Foundation of America. The BfoA’s mission is to help improve the quality of life of men and women in the radio and television broadcast profession who find themselves in acute need. Donations may be sent directly to the Broadcasters Foundation at 125 West 55th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019 and please make note that the donation is for the Ron Ruth Memorial Fund. Tentative plans by the RAB are underway to hold a celebration of life with Ron’s many friends sometime in the first quarter of next year and will be made public as soon as they are finalized. RAB CEO and president Erica Farber states, “Ron was an ardent supporter of the Broadcasters Foundation. We at the RAB couldn’t think of a more fitting way to honor and commemorate his life and work.”
Dave Ramsey Takes New York. The actual event took place right across the Hudson River at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark but Dave Ramsey’s New York affiliate – Clear Channel’s WOR – was a partner in promoting the event. Ramsey presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” last night (11/21) before a packed house speaking about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. WOR general sales manager Ron Russo says to the Ramsey team, “Thank you for creating an engaging event in an intimate setting where we have the opportunity to connect our listeners with our clients in a truly interactive environment.” WOR sales manager Chris Borelli adds, “The event is not only impeccably prepared and executed, but entertaining and enjoyable. We look forward to many more events like this as long term partners.”
ObamaCare Criticism Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 18-22. The scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was President Obama’s sinking approval ratings. Following at #3 was the talks with Iran about its nuclear policy and debate over economic sanctions on the nation followed by the GOP’s 2014 and 2016 strategy 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. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Tornado Damage Reported Via Multi-Media on McGraw Milhaven Show. The series of tornadoes that swept across the Midwest on Sunday left serious damage in New Minden, Illinois – about an hour East of St. Louis. The photo you see here is from the video component of KTRS, St. Louis morning host McGraw Milhaven’s online platform. Since the spring, Milhaven has been partnering with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s StlToday.com site to present his program in a video format. Today, he used that medium to his advantage as reporter Michael Golde was able to report back to the studio via Skype and show viewers scenes from the storm-damaged town and converse with Milhaven and news anchor Kelly Jackson. In posting the video on YouTube, Milhaven comments, “KTRS Radio in St Louis is the only radio station in the country to show live video of storm-damaged areas of Ill. to listeners on laptops, desktops and smartphones as well as the radio.”
JVC Media to Flip Rock WRCN, Long Island to News/Talk After Christmas. Longtime rocker WRCN, Riverhead, New York has stopped playing “everything that rocks” and has gone Christmas music through the holidays. But after Christmas, the station will emerge as a news/talk outlet dubbed “LI News Radio 103.9.” JVC Media president and CEO John Caracciolo explains the company’s thinking in a statement: “WRCN has a long history and heritage on Long Island – many of us have grown up with the station and it has become an intricate part of our lives. But as our lives change so does our soundtrack. What we listened to growing up is not necessarily what we listen to now and what was important to us as teenagers maybe doesn’t seem so important anymore. That’s why we made the decision to change WRCN and develop and program a radio station that fits the needs of Long Island…Long Islanders are starving for local news and information. Why should we have to wait 22 minutes to hear about the world when all we really want is Islip to Southampton? What’s the traffic like on the 347 merge or Sunrise Highway in Oakdale? This station will not only serve as your information source but it will be your sounding board for issues that influence your life, your community and your business.” Talent that has been announced to be part of the new format includes Premiere Networks nationally syndicated star Sean Hannity and Cumulus Media Networks personality Mark Levin as well as local hosts Ernie Fasio, Vic Fusco, John Gomez, Kevin Law, Steve Levy, Frank McKay, and Jay Oliver.
Linda Thomas to Exit KIRO-FM, Seattle. Morning news anchor and reporter Linda Thomas announces she will be leaving Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle at the end of the year for a new opportunity that, as she says, “doesn’t involve being at work by 2:00 am.” In a blog post at the company’s Mynorthwest.com, she writes, “My Bonneville Seattle bosses understand and support my decision too, even though they don’t want me to leave. That’s what family members do. I’ll always be grateful for them, and for you.” Thomas first worked at KIRO in 1988 as an overnight editor and became morning drive anchor in 1993. She left the station to work as a freelancer but returned to KIRO-FM as morning anchor in 2010. She adds, “KIRO’s news, talk and online teams are the best in the business. It’s been an honor to work alongside amazing talent. I’ve learned a lot from all my co-workers. They encourage me, challenge me, and make me laugh on a daily basis. I really do love them.”
Michelle Wright Let Go from All-News WYAY, Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho tips us that morning drive co-anchor Michelle Wright has been let go from Cumulus Media’s all-news WYAY, Atlanta “All-News 106.7.” Andy Rose remains in AM drive solo. The speculation is that the recent hiring of Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson to host a talk show in middays and the acquisition of Atlanta Braves baseball required some cuts in other areas of the station and Wright was the unfortunate victim. She was one of the original staffers when Cumulus decided to turn WYAY into an all-news station in May of 2012. She had previously worked at Atlanta-based CNN Radio before joining Cumulus.
CEOs Make the Grade. Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman and Emmis’ Jeff Smulyan were both the subjects of feature stories in newspapers over the weekend – Pittman in The New York Times and Smulyan in the Indianapolis Star. In a Q&A titled, the Value of Dissent, Pittman says he encouraged dissenters in his organization because they serve a valuable purpose. “I want us to listen to these dissenters because they may intend to tell you why we can’t do something, but if you listen hard, what they’re really telling you is what you must do to get something done. It gets you out of your framework of the conventions of what you can and can’t do.” Read that piece here. Jeff Smulyan tells the Star in his Q&A that the best piece of advice he’s received has to do with employer-employee relationships, “Attract the best people, treat them well, and let them do their job. If you want people to go through walls for you, you have to go through more walls for them.” Read that story here.
The View of Radio from the Digital World’s Perspective. Noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller writes, “Those of us in digital media know that our world will continue to change drastically, over and over again. We also know that we will be bigger and better three years…five years…10 years from now. Plus, we hear how radio compares itself to online listening choices, and we see how you use your digital platforms. And here’s what we think.” In a new column posted today (11/18) Miller goes on to state that digital-only people still have “transmitter envy” and that even though more and more people and media are moving online, the stick is still a formidable asset. Regardless, he points out that many digital-only professionals think that over-the-air radio companies are “crazy” for cutting talent, still selling 60-second commercials, and not being cognizant of just how much entertainment is changing. He clearly explains what digital pros see as radio’s “dangerous assumption.” He observes, “I look at a lot of different radio social media, websites, database emails and texting programs, and it’s clear you’re making some dangerous assumptions. Digital content doesn’t work like you think it should. It doesn’t work like you wish it did. It works like it works. We see you on Facebook and Twitter talking about almost anything…except what people really love about you. Your websites are a mish-mosh of broad-based content, but if you look at your web stats, there are fewer than half-a-dozen features at your site that, combined, get the lion’s share of your page views. There is nothing special or exclusive about the emails you send your listeners, and your open rates prove it. Radio people know a lot about how people use radio. Meanwhile, you are using all these other media as if knowing how they work doesn’t matter. One key thing we’re doing to drive our online success is to track everything we can to see what really makes a difference. We don’t have the luxury of having opinions about what should work. Either the clicks are there, or they aren’t. What we do either works, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you dig in, diagnose the problem, and adjust.” To read Chris Miller’s entire column, please click here.
Premiere Reverses Course; Keeps Randi Rhodes on Syndication Menu. There are no reports indicating just what happened between Randi Rhodes and syndicator Premiere Networks but the latter is confirming the widely reported news that Rhodes will continue to be syndicated by Premiere, at least through 2014. Premiere SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi emailed affiliates, “In a happy turn of events, we are pleased to announce that Premiere Networks will continue to produce and distribute the Randi Rhodes show. In an industry of constant change, it’s a pleasure to provide good news about a talk talent we think so highly of. We apologize for any inconvenience the previous announcement caused, but look forward to a very successful 2014 with the Randi Rhodes show.” Several weeks ago, Rhodes began telling her audience she was foreseeing the end of her program and later Premiere notified affiliates the relationship would be ending.
It’s Pop-Up Time. No, not the kind of pop-up we associate with websites – pop-up ads – but those retail stores that “pop up” in vacant storefronts during the holiday shopping season. Sales maven and H&H Communications president Al Herskovitz writes about getting these seasonal businesses advertising on your station this year. He notes that many of these retailers are big name brands that choose to expand their physical space during this time of year and they include Vera Bradley, Louis Vuitton and the National Football League. Read Al Herskovitz’s entire column here.
ABC News Radio Offers Kennedy Assassination Programming. As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, ABC News Radio is offering a two-hour special broadcast, “Three Shots Rang Out: An ABC News Special – The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later,” anchored by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. It’s an audio-only program that will be heard by ABC News Radio affiliates. In addition, a special expanded show will be available via download at Audible.com as part of a new digital audio relationship between ABC News Radio and Audible. The Audible.com version of this program will include an additional 40 minutes of historical audio available exclusively to Audible listeners.
Ron Ruth Passes. Former 19-year Radio Advertising Bureau executive vice president of stations Ron Ruth died early Saturday (11/16) in Florida of a heart attack. The 75-year-old Ruth had been struggling with health issues the past two months. CBS Radio president and chief executive officer Dan Mason was among those quickly noting their sympathies regarding Ruth’s passing. “I just spoke with him at the Radio Show this past September in Orlando,” Mason writes on Facebook. “He was so up and happy – I am sad tonight.” Also on that social media platform, Tom Birch notes, “Ron lived life to its fullest and was a joy and inspiration to everyone who had the opportunity to know him. Ron was the midwife to Birch Research. He opened doors for me, encouraged me and guided me. I am deeply honored to have worked for Ron at WQAM, Miami in the 1970s, and to have remained friends with him for the next three decades.” According to former RKO General eastern vice president Perry Ury, “Ron Ruth was a friend and our house skeptic at RKO.” Former Tele Media Broadcasting vice president and chief operating officer Ira Rosenblatt adds, “We’ve lost a friend and true broadcaster.” Doing afternoon drive in Boston early in his radio career, Ruth roomed with two other on-air talents who went on to stardom – George Carlin and Jack Burns of Burns & (Avery) Schreiber. He held sales manager positions for Unistar Radio Networks, as well as at the local level in markets such as New York (WOR-FM), Chicago (WNUS), Washington, DC (WGMS), and Buffalo (WYSL). Ruth left Unistar to join the RAB in 1992. Most recently, he was consulting the Radio Advertising Bureau.
A Man of His Word. The man having his head shaved live on the air on Cumulus Media’s WMAL, Washington, DC is former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino. Not too long ago, Bongino said on the WMAL airwaves that he would shave his head if President Obama apologized for the gaffes in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. And since the president did offer an apology of sorts, Bongino agreed to honor his statement live on the air and did so on Friday, November 15.
Eight Entercom Staffers Are Awarded VP Stripes. Six of the newly-minted Entercom vice presidents are in sales and two are on the operations side. Entercom Station Group president Weezie Kramer comments that the eight “outstanding individuals” being promoted “have demonstrated a high level of achievement over a significant period of time. Each is deserving of this elevation – we are proud to have them on our team.” Promoted to vice president sales are Pat Galloway (New Orleans); Mike Johnson (Rochester); Joby Koren (Denver); Roxanne Marati (Denver); Lisa Powell (Greensboro); and Kristen Kelleher-Wong (Sacramento). Boosted to vice president operations are Brian Kelly (Milwaukee) and Brian Douglas (Greensboro).
“Shane Spencer” Prankster Dupes Albany Sports Station. Use – and alleged use – of performing enhancing drugs (PEDs) by MLB players has had ramifications and fallout on several stations within the past week. Ex-big leaguer Jack Clark lost his short-lived job as a WGNU, St. Louis sports talk host when adamantly insisting Albert Pujols took steroids when he (Pujols) played for the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols denied the allegations, and threatened legal action against Clark and WGNU, with Clark getting the boot. This past Monday (8/12), a caller to Townsquare Media owned-WTMM, Albany “ESPN 104.5 FM The Team” claimed to be former Yankees (1998 – 2002) and Mets (2004) outfielder Shane Spencer. The caller told 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm host Mike Lindsley that he “dabbled” with steroids in his MLB playing days. Trouble is the person was not Spencer. Wanting to clear his name, Spencer, currently in the independent Atlantic League, where he is the hitting instructor/third base coach for the Somerset Patriots says, “I did not participate in any such interview. Someone called into the station claiming to be me and spoke on my behalf regarding some very sensitive topics surrounding baseball.” The Spencer impersonator spoke about topics ranging from steroids to Spencer’s time with the Yankees. “I am outraged that someone would do this and at the same time disappointed that the station believed it to be me despite not coming from the contact information they had for me,” Spencer states. “It is very disappointing that someone was able to go on the air as me and speak for me about these topics.” WTMM acknowledged the mistake with a website posting yesterday (8/13). “The real interview [with Shane Spencer] was scheduled to take place in advance and was set-up through the official Major League Baseball Players Association.” The genuine Spencer, who also played briefly for the Indians and Rangers, did do a WTMM station interview and remarked, “I do a lot of stuff at Yankee Stadium. I work with kids. I am a good role model. To see how this might affect me is very disappointing – I’m going to make sure that I clear my name.”
Radio One Q2 Revenue Improves By 13%. The company reports that its second quarter net revenue is $119.6 million, which is up from $105.3 million one year ago. Station operating income rose 10.4% to $45.7 million, while operating income was $18.4 million. The company posted a net loss of $14.2 million (29 cents per share), versus earnings of $42.7 million (85 cents) in 2012. Radio One president/chief operating officer Alfred Liggins comments, “Radio advertising markets have been choppy, with a slowdown in June that took our core radio revenues from low single-digit positive to a -0.6% finish. July core radio station net revenue was +5.0% and Q3 is currently pacing up low single-digits.”
Price Tag for Merlin/Educational Media Philly Deal Disclosed. It was revealed earlier this week that Educational Media Foundation is acquiring WWIQ, Philadelphia “IQ 106.9″ from Merlin Media for an undisclosed sum. Well now, the purchase price for the Camden, New Jersey-licensed property has been divulged: It is $20.25 million – cash. Randy Michaels‘ Merlin Media bought WWIQ about 18 months ago from Family Radio for $22.5 million. EMF’s “K-LOVE” format will soon supplant WWIQ’s current talk programming.
Vowinkle Joins Journal, Omaha as GSM. ApartmentGuide.com regional sales director Scott Vowinkle returns to radio tomorrow (8/15) as general sales manager for Journal Broadcast Group, Omaha. “Scott is a veteran media executive with significant radio and digital sales experience,” states Journal, Omaha vice president/general manager Chris Sehring. Vowinkle previously was vice president of business development for the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and vice president/general manager for Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation. Journal’s Omaha cluster consists of rock KEZO “Z-92,” classic rock KKCD “CD 105.9,” CHR KQCH “Channel 94.1,” adult contemporary KSRZ “Star 104.5,” and sports KXSP “590 ESPN.”
NAB Radio Show Luncheon To Feature Ajit Pai. The FCC commissioner will be the featured speaker (Friday) September 20 as part of the jointly produced National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) Radio Show in Orlando. Pai will discuss how communications policy affects free, local radio and his efforts to revitalize AM. Ajit Pai joined the FCC as commissioner in May 2012. He previously held several positions in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel, including deputy general counsel, as well as in the United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Also at that luncheon, Hubbard Radio chair Ginny Morris will receive the National Radio Award.
Fox News Radio Schedules Two-Hour “All-Star Summit.” It airs live one week from today (8/21) at noon – 2:00 pm ET. Participants will include Alan Colmes, John Gibson, Brian Kilmeade, and Tom Sullivan. The two-hour radio broadcast reportedly will not be confined to a political discussion. Fox Business Channel will televise a one-hour version of the Fox News Radio “Summit” several times (Saturday) August 24 and (Sunday) August 25.
Registration Opens for NABEF’s Leadership Development Program. This year’s National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation LDP will be held October 24 – 27 at the NAB‘s Washington, DC headquarters. “Participants gain valuable leadership skills and insights into building a personal brand,” comments NABEF president Marcellus Alexander. “The Leadership Development Program is a great opportunity for those interested in advancing their broadcast careers.” Session topics include navigating corporate culture; leveraging talents and work style; leading others for optimal performance; and teambuilding. NABEF is providing five fellowships for women and people of color to attend this program.
Television Channel Goes to the Dogs. Around-the-clock offering “DogTV” has been scientifically developed and tested for eyes and ears of pooches everywhere and receives a thumbs-up (perhaps paws up) from the Humane Society of the United States. MMG Radio Network-produced and Radio America-syndicated “Pet Show” host Warren Eckstein was among the team of pet experts who helped develop and produce “DogTV” content. “I knew sooner or later it would come that I’d share my remote with my dog – and that’s a good thing,” Eckstein jokes. He has devoted over 25 years to teaching pets and their owners to live happily together through his unique approach to behavior, care, and training.
Latest Gallup News Poll Puts Radio at Back of the Pack. The just-released Gallup poll of Americans’ news consumption habits provides good news for television but not such good news for radio and print. According to the study, among persons 30 to 49 years old, 50% named television as their preferred news medium, 28% said the internet was their first choice; 7% said radio and 6% said print. Among the 18 to 29 demographic, radio fell behind print at just 3%. While this study will be interpreted by some as another nail in the coffin for radio news, the reality is it’s not as cut-and-dried as that. First, even radio practitioners would be hard pressed to expect radio to be considered a primary news source across a broad spectrum of the population in this day and age. It’s hardly surprising that television and the internet are first and second, respectively. It’s the very reason that forward-thinking radio news operations are moving into the digital world. Most radio news people would admit that they are focused on serving people during their commute – something that television cannot do although is something that the internet is becoming better at doing as it gains access to moving vehicles. Other factors to be considered are more nebulous. In major markets with heritage radio news operations radio probably enjoys a better place in the minds of news consumers. Survey the top 10 media markets only and radio may fare a bit better on a percentage basis. Also, as part of a morning radio show (in just about any format), the news segment may not even be thought of by the listener as a “news program” yet it remains an indispensable part of most radio morning shows.
And Speaking of News. Longtime radio programmer and media creative officer Lee Abrams is preparing to debut his new video news service called TouchVision. Abrams, along with co-founders Steve Saslow and Brandon Davis are calling the new service “the revolutionary way to reach America’s new mainstream on all devices with a complete re-imagination of news and information.” The live, 24/7 channel will differ from most news platforms in that it will feature no anchors. Content airs simultaneously online, on TV, on phones and tablets. TouchVision says, “The story is the star.” TouchVision also states the programming is “a partnership with broadcasters on a DMA-exclusive basis using their digital assets.” The programming clock indicates time for local news, weather and sports in addition to the unique programming elements and world and national news coverage. You can check out TouchVision’s site here.
Audience Research: The Dunkin’ Donuts Method. Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports from his summer tour of client stations across America. He writes that programmers can learn a lot from eavesdropping on conversations at donut shops and lunch counters. He predicts, “You’ll note a disconnect between what you hear, and lots of what talk radio is trying to force-feed ‘em. Example: While cable and radio pundits are shocked…SHOCKED…by revelations about beyond-Patriot Act NSA surveillance, coffee gulpers shrug that they’ve suspected it all along. I’ve overheard parents say they’re using the story as an opportunity to wag a finger in their kids’ faces about what they disclose online.” Read Holland Cooke’s entire piece here.
MEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: Jerry Proctor of The Proctor Group, Inc. In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media broker Jerry Proctor of The Proctor Group, Inc. Proctor brings years of experience to the broker business and describes the deal scene as follows: “Television is undergoing a consolidation revolution such as occurred in the radio business a few years ago. Consequently, television station prices are returning to pre-recession levels and the consolidations continue with prices still climbing. Radio is still suffering some of the lingering effects of the recession. Station prices are recovering but that part of the broadcast industry is being held back due to the lack of available financing. That’s one of the reasons you see so many LMA opportunities….many with purchase options attached. The larger and dominant companies in radio are primarily trading among themselves with some small amount of consolidations continuing. That leaves the lower tier of stations more available to smaller operators. Many owners in this tier of stations are now retiring and want to sell. I view NOW as being an excellent time to acquire those stations….if the buyer can find the financing to buy. Unfortunately, a buyer today MUST have more than two nickels to rub together if they’re going to boot-strap a station purchase!” To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, please click here.
KCBS, San Francisco’s Hal Ramey Returns to Work After Lengthy Vocal Problem. Sports anchor Hal Ramey returned to work at KCBS, San Francisco on July 1 after almost four months off the air due to a nodule on his vocal cords. The Walnut Creek Patch reports that back in February, Ramey noticed his voice was getting a little hoarse. Doctors advised him to give it a little rest but it just got worse. He was told to rest it completely – no talking at all – but after a while it only shrank 60% and doctors decided to operate. The non-cancerous growth was removed on May 9 and Ramey was able to return to work seven weeks later.
Odds & Sods. WHP, Harrisburg afternoon drive host Bob Durgin will retire from his position there on August 2 after a 24-year career at the station. Clear Channel is beginning a search to replace Durgin…..CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles announces the next in its “On Your Corner” series in which the all-news outlet will spotlight San Pedro and the Palos Verdes Peninsula on Friday, July 19 with a day of live broadcasts from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm. The station says it will focus on key issues and happenings in San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles, along with the peninsula communities of Palos Verdes, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates. Civic leaders and other guests will be featured during the special broadcast to give Southern Californians insight into the unique attributes, history and future development in the area.
‘Radio and the Connected Car’ Super Session Scheduled for 2013 Radio Show. The National Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Advertising Bureau announce the 2013 Radio Show in Orlando will feature a Super Session titled, “Radio and the Connected Car” taking place on Thursday, September 19 at 9:15 am. The NAB and RAB say the panel will feature “leading strategists, analysts and researchers discussing developments in the connected car, what consumers want and where the technology is headed. This session will reveal data from surveys, focus groups and consumer clinics along with sneak peeks at what car makers and their suppliers have in store for the dashboard of the future. Participants will offer specific recommendations on what radio can do now to maintain its prominence in the automobile for years to come.” Participants will include: Roger C. Lanctot, associate director, Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics; and Fred Jacobs, president of Jacobs Media. Bill Rose, senior vice president, marketing at Arbitron, will provide introductory remarks.
Charlie Vogt Appointed CEO of Harris Broadcast. Charlie Vogt comes to Harris Broadcast from his most recent position as president and CEO of GENBAND where he led a company transformation that encompassed six acquisitions, including Tekelec SSG, NextPoint Networks and Nortel’s VoIP Business. Harris Broadcast, recently acquired by The Gores Group, defines itself as “a global supplier of networking, routing and software solutions that create, manage, transmit, distribute and monetize multimedia content.” Vogt succeeds Harris Morris, who was appointed president of Harris Broadcast when it was a subsidiary of Harris Corporation in 2010, led the company through its divestiture process and guided the transition period to The Gores Group ownership, including the completion of fiscal year 2013. Harris Broadcast chairman and board member of Dish Network, Carl Vogel, states, “Charlie’s proven track record of taking companies with powerful and promising technology to the next level uniquely positions him to lead this business. His decision to join Harris Broadcast as president and CEO likewise reflects the promise and potential behind the company’s market-leading technology, marquee customers and exceptional employees. Charlie will bring to Harris Broadcast vision, leadership, creativity and operational discipline as well as an entrepreneurial and customer-first culture.” Vogt says of his new position, “I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about joining Harris Broadcast, especially at a time when broadcasters, cable networks and multi-channel content distributors are experiencing so much change – from the impact of on-demand to content delivery on multiple screens and the digital transition to video and audio over IP. I have spent my professional career building businesses, fostering an entrepreneurial culture and introducing disruptive technologies that transform business models. I look forward to leading the Harris Broadcast team to accelerate innovation in areas that will enable the company to experience market-leading growth.”
ESPN Radio Begins Annual ‘Don’t Give Up ESPYS V Foundation Auction.’ ESPN Radio announces it is presenting the “9th Annual Don’t Give Up ESPYS V Foundation Auction” going on now through July 17. The online and on-air public auction features hundreds of items and experiences for bid to raise money and awareness for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. The event has raised more than $5.7 million over the first eight years of the fundraiser. A majority of the nearly 200 experiences and items in the auction will be available online via www.espnradio.com or ebay.com (now through July 17) while a total of 18 fan “experiences” will be auctioned live on air across ESPN Radio’s national shows on July 17 from 6:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. Listeners can call 1-800-4JimmyV or log onto www.jimmyv.org to both donate and bid on items and experiences in the radio-thon, with the highest bidder at 59 minutes past each hour winning the experience.
Asiana Air S.F. Crash Landing, Egypt Turmoil, ObamaCare Criticism, Immigration Reform/Amnesty, and Eliot Spitzer Comptroller Candidacy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/8). The crash landing of an Asiana Airlines jet at the San Francisco airport; the violence and turmoil in Egypt after a military-forced change of regimes in the Middle Eastern state; ongoing concerns over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; legislation addressing illegal immigration and a proposal for amnesty for illegals already here; and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plans to run for comptroller of New York City.
Peter Boyles to Debut New Morning Show at Salem’s KNUS, Denver. Longtime KHOW, Denver morning drive personality Peter Boyles joins Salem Communications’ KNUS, Denver for a new morning drive program beginning Monday, July 1. Boyles was let go from Clear Channel’s KHOW after a widely publicized incident of workplace violence in which he became physically aggressive with producer Greg Hollenback. Boyles took responsibility for his actions in a regular column he writes for the Cherry Creek Chronicle but, as the Denver Post reports, he also took the opportunity to slam Clear Channel saying, “Clear Channel is a culture of fear.” Regarding bringing Boyles aboard, KNUS vice president and general manager Brian Taylor tells the Post, “He’s a legend. He really cares about wanting to speak for his audience.” Boyles’ arrival at the station moves the Steve Kelley program to the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot on KNUS. In a statement from Salem, Boyles comments, “I believe we can change the face of Denver radio as well as the political future of Colorado. That’s how much I believe in this show and what we can do. I’m delighted to join the Salem team in Denver and help take KNUS to the next level. We’re going to do some great radio and I can’t be more excited.” Salem VP/director spoken word format Phil Boyce says, “There is no doubt Peter Boyles is a Denver talk radio institution. When the opportunity came for us to grab Peter’s show we wasted little time in making it happen. Denver radio needs this guy, who truly does a remarkable show.”
New Sports Talk Programming to Air on WGNU, St. Louis in August. Well, it’s not exactly new. According to Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, current KFNS sports talk personality Tim McKernan, via his company insideSTL Enterprises LLC, will lease time on 920 AM LLC-owned WGNU – currently airing urban talk – beginning on or around August 1. The lineup will be familiar to St. Louis sports talk fans as it will include many of the market’s well-known sports talk personalities who’ve worked at KFNS and at other stations: McKernan himself with Doug Vaughn and Jim Hayes; Frank Cusumano; Kevin Slaten plus (former MLB slugger) Jack Clark; and a new show featuring Post-Dispatch columnists Bryan Burwell and Joe Strauss plus KTVI-TV sportscaster Charlie Marlow. McKernan is undertaking the venture as KFNS owners are shifting the programming to a guy talk format. The programming will also be available on McKernan’s insideSTL.com, an important aspect of his business plan. McKernan tells Caesar, “What this opportunity provides us is a chance to see if this lineup, if this website and this business plan can indeed work and can set us up for the potential of purchasing a radio station in the near future.” McKernan is not leasing the weekend time from WGNU.
WPEN, Philadelphia’s Darren Daulton to Have Brain Surgery. Greater Media sports talk outlet WPEN, Philadelphia “The Fanatic” announces baseball talk show host and former MLB star Darren “Dutch” Daulton has been diagnosed with two tumors on his brain and will undergo surgery to have them treated next week. Daulton – a member of the 1993 pennant-winning Philles – hosts the nightly “Talking Baseball with Dutch” show that airs from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm during baseball season on WPEN.
Entercom’s WEEI, Boston Donates 1,000 Red Tickets to First Responders. As a way of saying “thanks” to the many first responders who came to the aid of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing in April, Entercom’s sports talk WEEI donated 1,000 tickets to last night’s Boston Red Sox game versus the Toronto Blue Jays. The company says, “These groups and individuals will include those who have displayed acts of heroism and valor, and have shown us examples of courage.” Tickets were distributed to: First responders including the Boston Police, Fire and EMS workers; the Boston Athletic Association; the communities of Dorchester, Arlington and Medford; the Massachusetts State Police; the Massachusetts National Guard; Boston area hospitals. Entercom Boston vice president and market manager Jeff Brown states, “On behalf of Entercom and WEEI, we send our deepest appreciation for the bravery and service of these responders during our city’s time of need. We are forever grateful for their heroism and hope this small gesture brings a smile to some faces across Boston on Thursday evening.”
The Conclave to Feature Performance by Recording Artist Keaton Simons. The Conclave’s first-ever “GAMEDAY,” a day devoted entirely to sports, will wrap with a performance by Best Revenge Records recording artist Keaton Simons (pictured here). It’ll take place at a reception at KTWN, Minneapolis’ studios just before the Minnesota Twins vs Cleveland Indians game at Target Field. The Conclave says that the Los Angeles Times termed Simons “a triple threat” captivating audiences with an authentic voice, compelling and soul-baring songs, and a true command of both acoustic and electric guitars in every genre. Simons’ second album “Beautiful Pain” is co-produced by Mikal Blue who has also worked with Colbie Caillat and One Republic, and includes songs co-written with friends and peers including Jason Mraz and others. Conclave executive director Bob Shannon says of Keaton, “‘No Rain In The Forecast’ is the tune I’m singing. His appearance at the KTWN rooftop party during Conclave 38 will be a night of great music, baseball and beer. How could it get better than that?”
The NAB Announces Panelists for Leadership Breakfast. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) announce the panelists for the 2013 Radio Show Leadership Breakfast, titled “Opportunities in a Changing Economy,” presented by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. The event will be held Thursday, September 19, from 7:15 am to 9:00 am at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando. The Leadership Breakfast will feature a panel discussion about expanding opportunities in radio for acquisitions and revenue in a growing economy. Panelists include Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus Media; Mary Quass, CEO of NRG Media; Jeff Warshaw, CEO of Connoisseur Media and Larry Wilson, CEO of Alpha Broadcasting and L&L Broadcasting. The panel will be moderated by Lew Paper, a partner with Pillsbury, and will be preceded by opening remarks from Marci Ryvicker, managing director, senior equity analyst, for Wells Fargo Securities, LLC.
Centennial Stations Win Virginia Association of Broadcasters Awards. Centennial Broadcasting II, LLC’s Fredericksburg, Virginia, hot AC WBQB “B101.5” and “NewsTalk 1230” WFVA (formerly adult standards during the contest period), won five First Place awards at the 76th Annual Virginia Association of Broadcasters Awards Banquet held June 21 at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel. WBQB won the following awards in the Medium Market category: 1st Place – Outstanding Website; and 1st Place – Best Commercial – Steamers Seafood Grill and Bar Star Search. WFVA won the following awards in the Medium Market category: 1st Place – Outstanding News Series: “Battle of Fredericksburg”; 1st Place – Best Human Interest Series: “Teen Violence Turns Personal”; and 1st Place – Best Documentary Or Public Affairs Program: “Sniper: 10 Years Later.” Market manager Tom Hamilton states, “I am so proud of the sensational, award-winning talent at B101.5 and NewsTalk 1230 WFVA. This is certainly a reflection of their passion for creating great radio and their dedication to the Fredericksburg community.” WBQB and WFVA operations manager Chuck Archer says, “There is one word that comes to mind when I think of the individuals involved in the creation of these award winning pieces and that’s ‘passion.’ They eat, drink, breathe and sleep great radio and constantly find ways of making it better.”
Odds & Sods. SiriusXM talk show host Michael Smerconish calls his most recent story about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s chances of winning the White House in 2016 published Philadelphia magazine “neither a valentine, nor a hit piece, but rather an analytical look at what impediments he will face if he runs.”…..SiriusXM announces music, TV and movie icon Cher will answer fan questions during an intimate Q&A session with an audience of listeners as part of its “Town Hall” series. The program will be moderated by original Studio 54 doorman Marc Benecke and Myra Scheer, executive assistant to former Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell, and current hosts of the Marc and Myra show SiriusXM’s Studio 54 Radio.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” with co-hosts Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the program schedule at WBLF, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania and WBAT, Marion, Indiana….. Genesis Communications Network-syndicated “Freedom Feens” with Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi is added to the program schedule at WGAW, Gardner, Massachusetts and WLSC, Loris, South Carolina…..GCN-syndicated “America Tonight” with host Kate Delaney adds affiliates WLEE, Richmond, Virginia and WTLS, Tallassee, Alabama…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” featuring Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete is added to the program lineup at CKLW, Windsor/Detroit and WADB, Asbury Park, New Jersey…..“The Commercial Real Estate Show” with Michael Bull adds affiliates KIVA, Albuquerque and WGKA, Atlanta.
SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 24-28. The Supreme Court’s striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissing and appeal of California’s Proposition 8 on jurisdictional grounds was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the Obama emissions policy. Following at #3 was the NSA surveillance program and the case of Edward Snowden and at #4 was the death of the Texas anti-abortion bill. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze to Be Available in Tri-State Area Via Cablevision’s Optimum TV. Beginning later this month, Glenn Beck-founded TheBlaze network will be available to New York City and the surrounding area as it will be included in Cablevision’s Optimum Preferred, Silver and Gold Packages. The channel is available to Optimum TV commercial customers with Optimum Business or Optimum Entertainment. Cablevision VP of video product management, Bradley Feldman, states, “Optimum TV is the only cable provider in the Tri-State area to bring our customers original programming from Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, and the independent network will add more diversity to our strong lineup, providing our customers with more choices that our customers appreciate.” In a statement from Beck’s organization it says TheBlaze “offers a full slate of original news and opinion shows like ‘Real News,’ ‘Wilkow!’ and ‘For the Record,’ late night comedy like ‘The Wonderful World of Stu’ and ‘B.S. of A.,’ family-friendly programming like ‘Liberty Treehouse’ as well as thought-provoking documentaries and original specials. TheBlaze first launched on September 12, 2011 as GBTV and quickly grew into one of the world’s largest online streaming networks with over 300,000 subscribers. One year later, TheBlaze became a television network.”
CBS Q1 2013 Report: Company Up 6%, Radio’s Top 10 Markets Up 2%. The bulk of the discussion during yesterday’s conference call centered around TV for CBS, as it usually does. But CEO Les Moonves stated up front that the company continues to build “on the terrific debut of the CBS Sports Radio Network. We’ve added 20 affiliates to our roster since our last call. In addition, CBS Radio played a major role in this year’s success of the Academy of Country Music Awards. This is a show that perfectly complements our radio audiences, as evidenced by all the artists who mentioned the power of radio in their acceptance speeches.” CFO Joseph Ianniello noted that, comparable to the same period a year ago, the top 10 radio markets were performing up about 2%. Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Read more here.
Former Citadel/Cumulus Birmingham Cluster Manager Bill Thomas Sues Company for Unlawful Termination. Add discrimination to that under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Bill Thomas, a.k.a Michael Thomas Stainback, alleges in the complaint filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama that the company knew he had heart ailments that resulted from a 2009 heart attack yet he still performed his job well and even received bonuses based upon performance. Thomas alleges that in February of 2012, after telling Cumulus corporate management that he’d been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, he was terminated by the company six days later. He’s seeking unspecified damages as well as back pay.
‘Freedom Feens’ Show to Join GCN. The “Freedom Feens” weekend talk show co-hosted by Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi will debut on the Genesis Communications Network on Saturday, May 11. Dean and Vedadi describe their program as a “great-sounding, feisty weekend show about free markets, the police state, the war on drugs, the right to keep and bear arms, computer security, honest money, self-defense, self-employment, marriage, do-it-yourself media production, marketing, music and more.” Regarding the title of their program, the duo explain, “‘Feen’ means ‘fiend,’ and the ‘Freedom Feens’ support the rights of the smallest minority, the individual.”
Time to Do Some Spring Cleaning Out at the Transmitter Site. For many of you who broadcast out of the Northwest, Midwest, North, and Northeast, this winter was a bear! Snow, ice and wind can cause issues for your transmission facilities. So it’s time to do a thorough inspection of your transmitter sites – both the main transmitter sites and anywhere you may have an STL transmitter or receiver. In a timely article posted today (5/2) noted engineering consultant and TALKERS technical editor Tom Ray offers up an invaluable “to-do” list to make sure your transmitter remains happy in the coming spring, summer and fall months after enduring a pretty painful and damaging winter. Get the whole story here.
Odds & Sods. WRKO, Boston afternoon drive talk show host Howie Carr broadcasts live from La Verdad Mexican restaurant near Fenway Park this afternoon from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm as he promotes his latest book , Rifleman (Frandel, LLC 2013), a true-crime story about infamous Boston mobster Steven Flemmi. Carr will stay after his program ends to sign copies of the new book…..Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington is conducting its second annual “Communter Idle” contest through Friday, May 3. The contest asks DC commuters to share their daily travel horror story to win prizes and possibly be the grand-prize winner who’ll receive $1,000 in gas money and a limo ride to work courtesy of Reston Limousine. Runners-up will receive $150 gas cards…..It may be a sign of the times that one of the most popular shows on CNN is the new “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” travel and food program that airs on Sunday evenings on the cable news/talk channel. But new CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker is so thrilled with the its performance that he’s already ordered another season of the show that will debut on September 15.
Cinchcast, Inc. Establishes Strategic Advisory Board. One of radio’s technological innovators and dynamic entrepreneurs of the new digital age, Alan Levy – founder and CEO of BlogTalkRadio and its “white-label” sister firm Cinchcast, Inc. – has announced the appointment of two well-known executives to Cinchcast’s new strategic advisory board: Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters and Steve Bornstein, former head of the NFL‘s digital media operations and ABC Sports/ABC, Inc. president and ESPN chairman. Levy tells TALKERS, “It’s an honor to be working with Tom and Steve as we continue to build, develop and scale the Cinchcast and BlogTalkRadio businesses.”
Practically an Exclusive. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) doesn’t do a lot of conservative talk radio shows. But Talk Radio Network star Rusty Humphries – who spent part of his earlier career at KKOH in Reno – was able to secure a no-holds-barred interview with Senator Reid at Humphries’ affiliate station KDWN, Las Vegas. Reid was in his home state while the Senate is on recess and he spoke with Humphries about the hot issues facing Congress. Pictured here are (from l-r): Humphries, Reid, and KDWN program director John Shaffer.
Suspects Arrested in Marathon Bombing, ObamaCare Implementation, Benghazi Cover-Up Charges, and Gay Athletes Flap among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/1). The arrest of more suspects connected with the Boston Marathon bombing case; the cost and implementation of the Affordable Care Act; charges that the Hillary Clinton-run State Department covered up aspects of the Benghazi attack; and the flap in the media over gay athletes were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Holland Cooke
LAS VEGAS – Even before 90,000 attendees step into the sprawling Convention Center, they expect change. The Las Vegas Monorail robo-voice invites them to visit The Cloud Computing Pavilion.
Atop the escalator, more evidence of the “Metamorphosis” that is this year’s NAB Show theme: Publication bins stacked with hard copies are being replaced by a wall-o-magazine covers. Scan the QR code, and you get the digital version.
Erica Farber to Moderate Major Advertising and Sales Panel at TALKERS New York 2013. The list of major speakers continues to grow as Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) president and CEO Erica Farber joins the roster of industry leaders that will be speaking at “TALKERS New York 2013,” the 16th annual installment of talk radio’s longest running and most important annual convention. Farber will serve as moderator for a major panel titled, “The State of Radio Advertising,” which will feature a variety of industry sales and marketing heavyweights discussing the key issues and potential directions of radio advertising, sales and marketing. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “The subject of revenue generation has never been more important in the radio industry conversation than it is right now and we couldn’t think of anyone in the business more qualified to lead it than Erica Farber. Her background and experience in sales and its vital relationship to all other elements of radio is legendary. Since joining the RAB during the past year and ascending to its top executive position, the organization has clearly become revitalized and is vibrant with the energy of optimism, creativity, information and service – all of which bodes well to the continuing resurgence of radio as a major advertising medium with not just a glorious past – but a solid future, as well.” Panelists for this session will be named in the coming days along with more of the 50-plus speakers that will be participating in the conference. The event is set for Thursday, June 6, 2013 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side. Registration for the day including all activities and food service is $199 per person. An advance sellout is expected due to space limitations. Registration is limited to members of the working media and can only be taken via telephone. For registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413. Complete agenda details are being posted daily. Stay tuned.
WYDE-AM/FM, Birmingham Re-Brands as “Superstation 101.” Crawford Broadcasting brings Leland Whaley aboard as program director and afternoon drive host and makes a few other lineup changes as it re-brands from its old “The Source” to “Superstation 101.” Lineup changes include Whaley in PM drive and the move of Michael Hart to mornings with Lee Davis. Talk Radio Network’s Andrea Tantaros joins the station in the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm slot followed by Dave Ramsey from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Whaley comes to WYDE-AM/FM from Cumulus Media’s crosstown WAPI-FM.
Hubbard’s KTMY, Minneapolis Shifts Programming. The female-targeted talk station KTMY, Minneapolis “myTALK 107.1” announces the midday program hosted by Jason Matheson and Alexis Thompson (pictured here) will move to the morning drive slot beginning February 28. The change comes after Ian Punnett was forced to leave the program he’s co-hosted with his wife Margery Punnett due to a battle with tinnitus. Margery Punnett remains at the station co-hosting the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program with Emma Thomas. As a result, the duo of Colleen Lindstrom and Bradley Traynor shift to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. The St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports that Jason Matheson will leave his other gig as morning news anchor at KMSP-TV “Fox9” in order to do mornings at KTMY.
Have You Hugged Twitter Today? Radio consultant Holland Cooke remembers first learning about Twitter at the TALKERS magazine conference in New York in 2008 where it was explained, “You post short messages about what you’re doing, follow and reply to similar messages from others in your social network. These posts and replies can be a great way to increase engagement, and help keep a conversation active long after your show is over.” So, are hosts and jocks using Twitter effectively five years later? Cooke says the smart ones are. “Many broadcasters under-utilize social media, by merely using Twitter and Facebook as additional transmitters. Instead, use these media to socialize and you can become more than a disembodied voice in the dashboard. If you’re on air at a music station, this is a real opportunity, to engage deeper than the keep-it-quick format allows on air.” Holland Cooke has more advice for social media use here.
TRN’s Jerry Doyle to Be Featured at 2013 Phoenix Comicon. Nationally syndicated talk show host Jerry Doyle will be a featured guest at the 2013 Phoenix Comicon event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi series “Babylon 5” May 23-26. Doyle was a star of the Emmy Award-winning series playing the character of Michael Garibaldi, chief security officer. Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters says of Doyle, “The real Jerry Doyle is not far removed from the character that he played in ‘Babylon 5,’ as they both uphold high standards, are outspoken and live with vivid pasts. The Jerry Doyle show is a mix of politics, pop culture and current events. Doyle’s strong opinions, diverse background and quick wit appeals to all listening audiences.”
Central Michigan Duo Flips to Sports Talk. Blarney Stone Broadcasting’s combo of AC WGRY-FM and adult standards WGRY-AM, Grayling, Michigan drops the music and signs on with CBS Sports Radio Network to broadcast its entire lineup on the simulcast. The stations will also air Detroit Tigers baseball and Detroit Red Wings hockey in addition to Grayling High School sports. President and CEO Cheryl Coyne says, “We are pleased to partner with CBS to provide Central/Northern Michigan a sports talk format that will engage local audience participation with passionate dialog and debate. WGRY-AM/FM will deliver compelling content that will soon be regionalized with a focus on Michigan sports.”
Talking Obama’s Weekend Golf Outing. Nationally syndicated talk host Kevin McCullough is pictured here on Fox News Channel’s “America Live with Megyn Kelly” yesterday where he discussed the issue of President Obama’s weekend golf outing with Tiger Woods which happened without the White House press corps’ knowledge, causing the press to question Obama’s transparency. A common criticism of news/talk cable television is the tendency for guests to talk over each other, not allowing the viewers to hear the arguments. A number of TALKERS staffers noted how Kevin McCullough and Democratic campaign advisor Mark Hannah clearly stated their takes on the issue and let each other fully state their arguments without interruption. This smart approach to the discussion of current events is also reflected in the tenor of McCullough’s radio program – a tactic that’s winning audience and affiliates for the hard-working media personality.
WHAM, Rochester Raises Record Funds for Children’s Hospital. Clear Channel news/talk outlet WHAM, Rochester – along with sister station “100.5 The Drive” – broadcast a two-day radiothon to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital last Thursday and Friday. Listeners pledged more than $217,000 in donations and the amount raised represents the highest total ever for the annual event, now in its 12th year with the Clear Channel stations, and part of the Children’s Miracle Network. WHAM personalities appearing on the radiothon included Chet Walker, Bob Lonsberry, Joe Lomonaco, and Bob Matthews.
Russillo on the Hardwood. ESPN Radio personality Ryen Russillo (lower) boxes out Olympic gold medalist speedster Usain Bolt (upper) playing defense at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in Houston on Friday evening. Russillo is heard daily on ESPN Radio (and seen on ESPNEWS) with Scott Van Pelt on the “SVP & Russillo” show. We hear the over/under on Russillo was that he’d score 5 points but he beat that by tallying 7 points!
Spiking Gas Prices, Oscar Pistorius Murder Case, Obama Florida Golf Outing, Mindy McCready Suicide, and Sequestration/Deficit Reduction Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/18). The sudden and steep rise in gasoline prices; the murder charges being brought against South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius; President Obama’s weekend Florida golf outing and the White House Press Corps’ anger at being excluded; the suicide of country singer Mindy McCready and the threat of sequestration and deficit reduction discussion were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
HAILEY, IDAHO — Jeff Haley is president and chief executive officer of Marketron, the, Hailey, Idaho-headquartered company that is the media industry’s leading provider of business software solutions and services. Prior to joining Marketron almost a year ago, Haley served as the president and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). Prior to that he served as senior vice president for Time Warner Global Marketing where he was responsible for creating marketing programs for some of the largest advertisers in the U.S. Haley worked extensively in advertising sales and marketing at Time Inc. and Children’s Television Workshop (CTW). He is on the board of directors for the Ad Council and a member of the Arbitron Radio advisory council. He also serves as co-chair of the Radio Creative Fund (RCF), the governing body of the Radio-Mercury Awards. Haley holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross and attended Boston University’s School of Management. The TALKERS interview with Jeff Haley was conducted by Michael Harrison.
TALKERS: What led you to leave the RAB and join Marketron? Erica Farber - then a recently signed-up VP of the RAB – has publically stated that she was surprised by your announcement to leave (which led to her ascending to your position). What happened to spark the decision?
JH: At the RAB, my goal was to reenergize the radio advertising business, taking advantage of all that radio does best. The time I spent there was the perfect preparation for this role – which focuses on providing stations the support they need to be as successful as possible in a new, much more competitive environment.
Programmer Jack Silver Lands at New NBC Sports Radio. Programmer Jack Silver is named the program director for the sports talk radio network set to launch this fall. Silver most recently programmed Cumulus Media’s news/talk KABC and classic rock KLOS in Los Angeles and, prior to that, spent many years at the helm of CBS Radio’s hot talk KLSX, Los Angeles. NBC Sports Radio EVP and general manager Chris Corcoran says, “It’s a pleasure to announce that Jack will be joining our NBC Sports Radio team. Everyone in radio is familiar with his success in programming and his many accomplishments in the industry. We’re looking forward to bringing his talents to Culver City.” On his new position, Silver states, “I have a world of experience in programming to the daily consumer of sports radio. This is an exciting launch for the sports radio consumer and we’ll add PPM winning strategies and best practices to ensure a huge success.” Silver takes the helm of the programming department at the NBC Sports Group and Dial Global initiative as the sports talk radio universe gets a little more crowded. Four months after the NBC Sports Radio network debuts, CBS Radio launches its national sports radio platform, CBS Sports Radio.
Journal Communications Reports Boffo Second Quarter. The parent company of Journal Broadcast Group announces second quarter operating earnings up 17% compared to the same quarter one year ago. Revenue from the broadcast group was up 16.5% when excluding the recently acquired Tulsa stations – 18.4% with their revenue. The company is reporting revenue of $95.5 million for the quarter, an increase of 6% over the same period a year ago. When it comes to Journal’s radio properties, the company posted revenue of $19.4 million, an increase of 11.5%, largely from a boost in automotive and political.
ABC News’ Aurora-Tea Party Goof Addressed at Television Critics Association Press Tour. The speculation by ABC News’ Brian Ross – very early on last Friday morning’s coverage of the Aurora, Colorado shooting – that there’s a Jim Holmes in Aurora on the local Tea Party site who may be the same Jim Holmes taken into custody, reared its head at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday, July 26. The Washington Post reports ABC News chief Ben Sherwood was asked about the error that happened on the network’s “Good Morning America.” The Post reports Sherwood said, “We put something on the air that we did not know to be true and the part that we needed to be true was not germane to the story we were covering…It was a mistake; we recognized it immediately and owned it immediately…we corrected it immediately, and we apologized.” Sherwood said Ross contacted the Jim Holmes in question and apologized to him. Sherwood also stated the reporting did not live up to ABC’s standards and he takes responsibility for it.
Boston Public Media Company WGBH Merges with Public Radio International. The Minneapolis-based Public Radio International will continue to operate independently as a tax-exempt non-profit from its Minneapolis base but PRI is now an affiliated company of WGBH. The two companies have been working together for years, in one instance producing PRI-distributed “The World” out of WGBH studios in Boston for the past 16 years. The company is not being specific about how this will affect employees but it admits, now that the deal has closed, it will be looking for some “efficiencies” and some staffers could be affected. PRI CEO Alisa Miller states, “As with all transactions like this, we will be looking for places that WGBH might have capacity we could take advantage of. While we haven’t made any final decisions, we do think that there might be a few positions that could be affected.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Nationally syndicated morning drive host Tom Joyner will be the keynote speaker at the NAB- and RAB-sponsored Radio Show Luncheon in Dallas on Friday, September 21…..A couple of sports-related notes from satcaster SiriusXM today: former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook becomes part of the NFL Radio channel where he’ll host the Sunday evening “NFL Rewind” show and be part of other shows throughout the NFL season, including the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm “Movin’ the Chains” program. Also, SiriusXM will broadcast from all 32 NFL training camps for its preview of the coming season…..Pamplin’s KPAM, Portland becomes the flagship for the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks. The deal includes the broadcast of a weekly coach’s show, all 72 regular season games plus promotional opportunities and charity partnerships.
Red Thread Named Winner of KYW, Philadelphia’s Small Business Challenge. CBS Radio’s KYW, Philadelphia announces Red Thread – a company that designs and creates the best clothing and solutions to improve the quality of life for all breast cancer survivors – is the winner of the inaugural 2012 Small Business Challenge and wins a $25,000 advertising campaign on KYW Newsradio, and a one year lease of professional private furnished office space located at one of the seven American Executive Centers in the Delaware Valley. Company president, physician and cancer survivor Debra Kimless-Garber says, “I’m a physician, I’m a survivor. I know what survivors are going through. I created these products to make myself feel whole again. I want to share that with all the other 2.6 million survivors that live in the United States.” CBS Radio Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “KYW Newsradio is proud to use the power of its voice and expertise in the Philadelphia market to showcase a small business that is beginning to find its way in the market place. We hope our campaign will help Red Thread become the business that it rightfully deserves and aspires to be.”
Aurora Theater Massacre Top News/Talk Story for Week of July 23-27. Discussion about the tragic shooting at the premiere of “Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado late last week was the most-talked-about story on news/talk stations across America this week. Rounding out the top four on the weekly Talkers TenTM chart were: at #2, the gun laws issue; at #3 the presidential campaign; and at #4, the backlash against President Obama by conservatives for his speech about small business. The Talkers TenTM – a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio – is the result of ongoing research from Talkers and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
Finebaum Case Far from Settled Says Cumulus. Contrary to the story published here earlier today (6/1), there is no settlement on the horizon for Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and Cumulus Media in their contract dispute. Cumulus COO John Dickey tells TALKERS the reported agreement that would end the lawsuits each side is filing against other and allow Finebaum to work out his contract at Cumulus’ sports talk WJOX-FM, Birmingham that ends in January of 2013 and then go to work at Cox Media’s crosstown sports WZNN-FM if he chooses are categorically untrue. “He will never work for Cox in Birmingham,” Dickey says. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance had asked the two sides to resume negotiations to settle the contract dispute and report to the court by May 30.
Battle for Control of SiriusXM Heating Up. John Malone‘s Liberty Media is again filing a request with the FCC to give it “de facto” control of satellite broadcaster SiriusXM. The Commission denied its first attempt back on May 4 but Liberty has since acquired another 6-plus percent of the company’s stock, pushing its total above 46%. It’s petition for reconsideration with the FCC reportedly contains additional information to the Commission. In a filing with the SEC, SiriusXM states, “We’ve been engaged in discussions with Liberty Media to explore possible transactions with respect to its ownership interest in Sirius, although we have not reached agreement with respect to a specific transaction that would be mutually beneficial to both our common and preferred stockholders. There is no assurance that these discussions will result in any specific action or transaction. We do not expect to disclose developments with respect to these discussions.”
Scott Hennen Turns to Listeners for Funding for WZFG, Fargo. Talk show host and businessman Scott Hennen is exploring alternative sources for funding his purchase of The Flag 1100 (WZFG) in the Fargo market. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead‘s Marino Eccher reports Hennen has created a program whereby fans become “founding fathers” and buy into one of four clubs – Faith, Family, Freedom, and Free Enterprise – for $1,000 (each club limited to 400 members). He’s seeking a total of 1,600 such “founders” to come up with $1.6 million. Hennen tells the paper he has traditional funding sources but decided to seek less traditional forms of funding after sensing his listeners “desire to be part of something bigger.” These fans will not be shareholders or part owners but instead will have input on the station’s weekend programming, behind-the-scenes updates and $1,000 advertising credit. Hennen tells Eccher Tea Party activist Mark Skogerboe will serve as director of the clubs and be an on-air contributor.
NEW MEDIA SEMINAR/NYC Sold Out but Agenda Keeps Growing. Thursday, June 7 is going to be a big day for talk radio in the Big Apple as some 400 professionals from all aspects of the business converge on the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side for a one-day conference containing the content mass of a two- or three-day convention. “Although we have reached capacity in terms of registration,” explains TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “doesn’t mean the agenda is not continuing to grow.” Casey continues, “This conference has all the aspects of an old fashioned ‘happening’ with a program lineup that is so outstanding, it is attracting a growing number of industry leaders wanting to contribute as speakers and panelists.” According to conference director Michael Harrison, “We attribute the positive response to this event not only its powerful and relevant agenda, but to the fact that it is so efficiently tuned to the times in terms of its affordable registration fee and compact time demands. With another one set for Los Angeles in October, this June 7 event has the convenience of a regional conference while delivering the bang of a major national convention.” Although space is limited for those who will participate in person, the content of this forthcoming NMS which will be video recorded from beginning to end will reach a far wider audience via TALKERS TV in the weeks and months following June 7. For information call 413-565-5413. To see the up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.
WEUS, Orlando to Be LMA’d with Intent to Purchase. Star Over Orlando‘s talk outlet WEUS, Orlando is entering into a deal with MultiCorp International to have the latter’s subsidiary – Rivalz Sports Group – operate the station as a sports talk outlet beginning on July 30 with the intent to buy the signal. MultiCorp intends to change the calls to WRSG and hopes to move the stations operations “within a restaurant facility” so diners can enjoy “a first-class restaurant/media experience.” The company states it hopes to expand this model to other markets.
Dr. Laura Launches Online Jewelry Business. SiriusXM talk show host and talk radio pioneer Dr. Laura Schlessinger unveils her “Dr. Laura Designs,” – an online boutique featuring her personally designed and handcrafted jewelry, glass and polymer clay art. The site offers ready-made items or people can commission custom made pieces. Dr. Laura initially began selling jewelry to assist the “Operation Family Fund,” a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families of those who are injured or killed while fighting the war on terrorism, and raised more than $1.5 million. Dr. Laura has had a passion for jewelry – making it and glass art that started when, during a particularly difficult time for her family, her then-little son suggested that a new hobby would be helpful. She states, “I never thought I had one ounce of artistic ability, and couldn’t think of what I could do.” After a listener suggested she visit a local bead fest, she says, “I walked by a table filled with Tibetan ornaments and my brain just exploded with creative images. I bought books on jewelry-making and purchased tools, wire, beads and stones and got started.” Dr. Laura’s program currently airs from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET on the Sirius Stars channel.
Dave Ramsey to Lead NAB-RAB Radio Show Super Session. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey will lead a Super Session at the September 19-21 Radio Show in Dallas being produced jointly by the NAB and RAB. The panel, titled “Succeeding in This Economic Environment,” taking place on Thursday, September 20 at 9:30 am and, as its title implies, will focus on steps radio station operators can take to achieve success in these tough economic times.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. The Society for Professional Journalism and the Radio Television Digital News Association announce registration is open for their September Excellence in Journalism Conference taking place the 20th through the 22nd in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The conference offers more than 50 professional development sessions…..Former college football coach Rick Neuheisel (UCLA, Washington and Colorado) joins SiriusXM‘s College Sports Nation channel where he’ll appear on the “College Football Playbook” show and co-host the daily “College Sports Today” show with Mark Packer…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment‘s WFLA, Tampa begins simulcasting on an FM translator at 105.9 licensed to West Tampa…..Las Vegas-based nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs has a small role in an upcoming Showtime reality program. She tells TALKERS, “It’s a one-time small part on a Showtime reality show but it’s a start!” Wachs says it’s super secret and she can’t even tell us the name of the show, yet.
Stormy Times at Fairfax Media. American media companies are not the only ones dealing with difficult financial situations. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on one of Australia’s major talkback radio-formatted operators – Fairfax Media – as it deals with corporate power struggles and underperforming revenue. Read Smith’s entire piece here.
Rusty Among the Politichicks. That’s Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated talk show host Rusty Humphries on the set of the internet TV show “Politichicks.” Humphries appeared with co-hosts Dr. Gina Loudon, Ann-Marie Murrell, Sonnie Johnson, Morgan Brittany on the recent episode titled, “The Fairness Doctrine: There’s Nothing Fair,” to discuss the “current environment of talk radio as well as why conservative talk radio has become a focus of attack by the mainstream media and liberal politicians. At the end of the segment, Rusty was formally honored with the title, “PolitiStud.” It’s obvious to see why.
2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 28 – June 1. The 2012 presidential contest was #1 on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the ninth week in a row. At #2 this week was the Syria massacre aftermath. Following at #3 was Iran’s nuclear ambitions and at #4 was the Euro zone crisis and the global financial markets’ activities. The Talkers TenTM is based on ongoing research from Talkers magazine and consists of the top stories and people discussed on America’s news/talk radio stations during the week. View this week’s entire chart here.
Crue Visits the Cannons. Motley Crue bassist and host of the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Sixx Sense” radio program, Nikki Sixx (r), is pictured here with Fox Sports Radio‘s “Loose Cannons” co-host Pat O’Brien (l). Fox Sports Radio and Los Angeles Dodgers flagship AM 570 Fox Sports LA (KLAC) invited Sixx to throw out the first pitch at a recent Dodgers game. Prior to the first pitch and Sixx’s appearance on the “Loose Cannons” nationally syndicated program, Fox Sports Radio offered listeners the chance to win travel accommodations and tickets to a stop on this summer’s Motley Crue/KISS tour.
The State of News in News/Talk Radio. The rise of digital news sources, today’s quickening news cycle and the economic realities of our times are forcing news/talk radio stations to evaluate their news product and adapt to continue to serve their listeners. In a feature story by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey, some of today’s top news/talk programmers speak on the record about their news philosophy, how they are integrating digital tools, news as a cume builder, the relationship between news and talk and their thoughts on the state of journalism. Read this feature piece here.
NOW-Organized Protest of Rush Limbaugh at WMAL, Washington Fizzles. The National Organization for Women-sponsored “Enough Rush” campaign got off to an ignominious start outside the studios of affiliate WMAL, Washington, DC Friday, May 18 as just seven protesters marched. As reported by Fox News, NOW announced the campaign against the Premiere Networks talk radio superstar in April and has partnered with Media Matters for America to target affiliate stations and their advertisers. Friday’s event in DC was part of a national protest scheduled for that day. Reports of substantial protests at other Limbaugh affiliate stations have not surfaced.
Cox Media Offers to End Paul Finebaum Issue with Contract Buyout. The Birmingham Business Journal is reporting that Cox Media – which put sports talk outlet WZNN-FM, Birmingham on the air last September – is again offering to buy out sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s contract with Cumulus Media and its WJOX-FM, Birmingham. Regular TALKERS readers are aware of the ongoing legal battle between Cumulus and Finebaum that goes back to when the station was part of the Citadel group. Finebaum’s popular sports talk show has been based at WJOX-FM and regionally syndicated. While Cumulus would probably like to stop paying legal fees in the ongoing dispute, it may not want to have Finebaum working for a competing station in the market – at least not right away – however it’s likely he’ll end up working there eventually. There’s no response yet from Cumulus on the offer.
RAB Reports Radio Revenue Up 1% in First Quarter of 2012. The Radio Advertising Bureau issued a report on Friday, May 18 concluding advertising revenue for all of radio was up 1% for the first quarter of 2012 – the third consecutive Q1 increase – for total revenue of $3.814 billion. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “Q1 2012 results confirm that radio commands a solid position in brands’ total marketing plans. While advertisers continue to capitalize on radio’s spot and network efficiencies, they’re increasingly utilizing local digital capabilities and audience engagement that this medium affords.” From a category standpoint, spot revenue was flat, network was up 8%, digital rose 10%, and off-air was up 3% for Q1 in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. WXKS, Boston – Talk Radio 1200 – morning drive talk host Jeff Katz wins two Associated Press Awards – one for “Best Talk Show in Boston” and the other for “Best Public Affairs Broadcast” for his special remote from the Fisher House in Boston…..Salem Radio Network talk host Dennis Prager co-hosts CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” alongside Brian Sullivan tonight at 7:00 pm ET. SRN states, “With the just-launched IPO for Facebook as well as the unfolding 2012 battle between Mitt Romney and President Obama, Dennis Prager brings his unique background as a talk radio host, author, lecturer and societal observer to CNBC in what will surely be an eye-opening experience for ‘Kudlow Report’ viewers!”…..SiriusXM announces veteran soccer commentator and former player and coach Ray Hudson will host ‘The Football Show’ alongside fellow soccer experts Charlie Stillitano, Neil Barnett and John Harkes. Hudson has been a commentator for Gol TV since 2004 and is widely known for his elaborate and excitable play-calling style. Also from SiriusXM, three-time SEC Coach of the Year Houston Nutt has joined SiriusXM as an analyst on its 24/7 college sports channel. Nutt will host multiple shows each week on SiriusXM College Sports Nation including ‘College Sports Today’ with Mark Packer and ‘College Football Playbook’ with Jack Arute…..Former WGNU, St. Louis talk host Leonardo Drisdel was found guilty of the 2005 murder of Cassandra Kovack on Friday. He’ll be sentenced on June 29.
Clark Howard to Help Break Ground for New Home for Joplin Tornado Victims. Cox Media syndicated talk show host Clark Howard heads to Joplin, Missouri tomorrow along with a team of his listeners to break ground on a new home for a family that lost its home to last spring’s tornado that hit the city. Howard will broadcast his Tuesday program live from the build site to recognize the one-year anniversary of the tornado. Clark Howard is funding the Joplin home himself. However, he joined forces with Cox’s KRMG, Tulsa to promote the build and KRMG even had advertisers chip in for a storm shelter for the house and due to the listeners’ overwhelming support for the build in Joplin, they teamed with Clark to build a home in Tulsa this past weekend. The home is being funded by monies raised by listeners and Howard. He says, “I love Habitat for Humanity because it is a hand up and not a hand out. Homeowners have to meet strict qualification guidelines and put in hundreds of hours of sweat equity to build their own home and other Habitat homes. It is not a free house. It is a low-cost mortgage.”
Vic “The Brick” Jacobs Rides the Zamboni at L.A. Kings Game. Yes, that’s Fox Sports Radio sports talk host Vic “The Brick” Jacobs – of the network’s “Loose Cannons” show – on the zamboni during last Thursday’s L.A. Kings NHL playoff game. In addition to being at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the game, Jacobs (decked out in his Kings jersey and crown) did a post-game interview with Kings rookie Dwight King who scored the winning goal.
Cumulus Dallas Goes into Storm Coverage Mode as Twisters Hit Metro Area. The Dallas cluster of Cumulus Media reacted swiftly to the severe storms and tornadoes that hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area yesterday, led by news/talk sister stations WBAP and KLIF. Operations manager Tyler Cox tells TALKERS that the stations had a great opportunity to super-serve the community. “WBAP (820 AM/96.7 FM) and KLIF (570AM) began simulcasting continuous coverage. Shortly after that, the remaining stations in the Cumulus cluster (sports KTCK 1310 AM, KSCS-FM, KPLX-FM and KLIF-FM) joined with us to create a six-station simulcast reaching countless numbers of listeners with life-saving information.” Cox says all six went into non-stop, commercial-free weather coverage with the news/talk stations’ reporters and listeners providing on-the-scene information all across North Texas. Preliminary reports indicate no fewer than 12 tornadoes formed in the region and, although there is widespread destruction, there are no fatalities confirmed at this time.
KFI, Los Angeles Adds New Weekend Shows; Adds Diversity to Lineup. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles is adding a two-hour early evening program on Saturdays hosted by Morris O’Kelly, the producer and co-host of sister progressive talk station KTLK’s “Diverse L.A.” Also, KTLK PM drive host David Cruz will host a Sunday early evening program on KFI. In a statement, Clear Channel says the purpose of the new shows is to “discuss, dissect and investigate the important, often controversial issues of the day through the eyes of an eclectic collection of Southern California residents, urbanites and suburbanites, young and old, across race, gender and the political spectrum.” Morris O’Kelly states, “I’ve wanted to do a show like this for a long time – to dig into what Southern Californians think and why. Opinions are as diverse as the population and I think we’re going to shed light on issues that really matter.”
Erica Farber Replaces Jeff Haley as President and CEO of the RAB. The board of directors of the Radio Advertising Bureau announces Erica Farber, who joined the RAB in late 2011, will replace Jeff Haley as president and CEO of the organization as Haley exits to pursue a new opportunity. RAB board chairman and EVP Scott Herman says of the move, “Erica is an excellent selection with the relevant skills and expertise to lead the RAB. She brings an impressive track record in radio sales and management. In addition, Erica has a clear understanding of the organization and what the broadcast industry requires from the RAB. She has demonstrated a strong capacity of working with multiple constituencies which is critical to the RAB role. We thank Jeff for his guidance and leadership the past five years in helping to shape an organization that fits the radio and media landscape today. He’s left an indelible imprint on the industry and we thank him for his service and commitment.”
Budget Mandate Forces WBSM, New Bedford to Release Talk Host Ken Pittman. Local officials are decrying Cumulus Media’s decision to eliminate Ken Pittman’s local afternoon drive talk show on WBSM, New Bedford, Massachusetts. The New Bedford Standard-Times reports New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell even wrote to Cumulus COO John Dickey to express how area residents are upset with the loss of local programming. “The local programming available on WBSM, including local news, talk and sports coverage, is truly valued by the thousands of listeners the station draws from the New Bedford region,” he wrote. Meanwhile, station programming manager Pete Braley tells the paper local management made the cut reluctantly after being mandated by corporate to trim expenses and realizing that someone had to go. With Pittman out, mid-morning host Phil Paleologos will move to PM drive and do more news event coverage. The station brings Salem Radio Networks’ Mike Gallagher in for late mornings to cover Paleologos’ slot. That leaves the station with four hours of local programming: morning drive and a 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm program.
Management Change at Cumulus Washington, DC; Jeff Boden Exits. President and general manager Jeff Boden has left the building at Cumulus Media’s Washington, DC station group that includes news/talk WMAL-AM/FM. DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports Sam Rogers – former CBS Radio Washington cluster chief and Cumulus VP of political and platform sales – has taken over Boden’s role at the stations. Hughes reports that rumors have more cuts coming to the DC cluster in the near future, although it’s hard to predict which stations and what positions will be affected.
Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe Joins WNST, Baltimore. Nestor Aparicio-owned sports talk outlet WNST, Baltimore announces Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe becomes part of the late-morning show on the station alongside Paul Mittermeier and Greg Marsh. A release from the station states, “Yaffe’s crew will focus on all Baltimore sports with fun conversation, guests and lots of banter about the state of the local sporting universe including the Orioles, Ravens, Terps, and local lacrosse.” Yaffe had previously worked at CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talker WJZ-FM.
Bankruptcy Filing Leaves Broadcasters in Financial Lurch. The bankruptcy filing of tax resolution company TaxMasters is forcing a number of broadcasting companies – including CNN, Dial Global, Fox News Channel and others – to face the fact they will likely receive little if anything of what the company owes them. Forbes reports that Time Warner’s CNN is owed the largest amount for ads aired on the cable news channel: $2.6 million. Other broadcasters are also listed as unsecured creditors. News Corp’s Fox News Channel is out $938,414; Dial Global is owed $676,000; MSNBC stands to lose $259,441; and ESPN is out $94,265. TaxMasters and CEO Patrick Cox were hit with a $195 million verdict in Texas for violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Violations Act. It lists assets of just $1.7 million.
Bob Visotcky Takes VP Sales Position at Cumulus Los Angeles. Bob Visotcky moves over from his market manager post at Cumulus Media’s Oxnard-Ventura stations to the Los Angeles cluster where he’ll become vice president of sales representing news/talk KABC and classic rock KLOS-FM.
GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Race, Supreme Court-ObamaCare Issue, Ryan Budget, Twisters Hit Dallas, and Trayvon Martin Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/3). The ongoing GOP primary race and the greater 2012 presidential campaign, the charges President Obama is pressuring the Supreme Court in its judgment of the legality of the Patient Care and Affordability Act of 2010, Congressman Paul Ryan’s Republican House budget proposal, tornadoes sweep through the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the Trayvon Martin case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Fisher’s Plans for KVI, Seattle Outlined. An e-mail to clients of Fisher Communications’ oldies-formatted KVI, Seattle announces the former talk stations will revert to talk – but not as a conservative talk station. After the holidays, KVI will be called “Smart Talk 570 KVI” and will be positioned as “Smart talk for a Sound life.” The memo states the station will feature “lifestyle, health, local and entertainment news.” In addition to Friday’s story about Dial Global’s Clark Howard joining the station, the morning show will be called “Sunrise Seattle” hosted by Mark Christopher and Elisa Jaffe of KOMO TV 4. TRN’s Phil Hendrie and The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “Daily Wrap with Michael Castner” are on the schedule along with a local program, “The Buzz” hosted by Scott Carty.
Political Influence of Conservative Talk Radio Analyzed in Timely Politico Article. A hard-hitting article posted this morning (11/18) on the popular political news and opinion website Politico presents a particularly insightful and fascinating analysis of the role conservative talk radio hosts play in the process of presidential elections. The story written by Keach Hagey and Glenn Thrush looks specifically at the meteoric candidacy of Herman Cain – a former radio talker – and examines the direct influence radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity,Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin have had and are still having on his unexpectedly prominent position in the polls and national conversation. The interesting and timely article appearing in one of the political world’s leading news websites poses the question, “How long will the love last now that Cain is on the rocks?” — referring to radio talk show hosts’ reaction to Cain’s propensity toward gaffes such as the Libya incident and embroilment in an alleged sexual harassment scandal. Read the Politico story here.
RAB/Miller, Kaplan, Arase Data Shows Radio Revenue Up 2% for Q3. That increase is due in large part to gains in digital for the radio industry. The Radio Advertising Bureau and Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co. report data that shows spot revenue for the third quarter was flat, network revene up 2%, digital up 17%, and off-air up 10%. The data also indicates that total revenue for the first three quarters of the year is up 2% as well.
“Christopher Walken” Interview on WTEM, Washington Spooks AP After Natalie Wood Case Re-Opened. It wasn’t exactly a “War of the Worlds” situation but apparently WTEM, Washington producer Marc Sterne does a pretty good Christopher Walken imitation and someone at the Associated Press bit. The back story is that Sterne does a regular Friday segment on the Red Zebra Broadcasting sports talk station in which “Walken” talks fantasy football. With the re-opening of the Natalie Wood case in the news and Walken’s link to the case, Sterne referenced the investigation during the segment last Friday and the AP reported it as a real interview, then realized what happened and reported it as a hoax. However, the Washington Post writes that WTEM PD Chuck Sapienza says the “hoax” part bugs him because it implies underhandedness. “No one [from AP] called us to see if it was real, and then they call it a hoax,” he told the Post. “A hoax makes it sound like it’s our fault. We’ve been doing this [impersonation] for two years. They’re taking no responsibility for shoddy journalism.” The AP isn’t identifying the person who heard the segment and reported it as fact.
Howard Eskin and Wally Kennedy Inducted by Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. The non-profit Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia honors people from every aspect of the broadcasting industry who’ve contributed to the business for at least 10 years. On Friday, the organization recognized WIP, Philadelphia sports personality Howard Eskin – WIP’s very first talk show sportscaster – and KYW news anchor Wally Kennedy. Eskin began hosting sports talk radio shows in Philly in 1986. He recently stepped down from his daily PM drive show to concentrate on Eagles game day coverage and other projects. Kennedy – who’s worked in Philadelphia radio and television for 30 years – is morning news anchor at KYW. CBS Radio Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield says, “CBS Radio is fortunate to showcase incredible talent on all of our properties. Legends like Howard Eskin and Wally Kennedy have been heard in the Philadelphia area for decades. It’s no surprise that they would be inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. Both have contributed greatly to the success of our radio stations.”
Thom Hartmann Co-Authored Kennedy Book to Be Made into Movie by Leonardo DiCaprio. According to columnist Liz Smith, the book Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination (Counterpoint 2009), authored by Lamar Waldron with Dial Global talk host Thom Hartmann, will be made into a movie by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way film company. Smith reports that DiCaprio would play FBI informant Jack Van Laningham and Robert De Niro will play Carlos Marcello. According to its Amazon description, the almost 950-page book suggests three Mafia bosses used John F. Kennedy’s and Robert F. Kennedy’s plan to stage a coup against Fidel Castro to murder the president.
Dave Graveline’s “Into Tomorrow” to Be Produced in New, Street-Level Studios. Dave Graveline’s nationally syndicated consumer technology program will begin broadcasting and shooting video podcasts at new street-level studios in the Miami Lakes Broadcast Center. The move will allow passersby to view the program as it’s being produced.
Radio Not Alone in Cuts; CNN Eliminates 50 Positions. Changes in technology and an analysis of its own efficiency have caused CNN to cut some 50 positions in the trenches according to a report in TVNewser. After a three-year study of the news organization’s operations, senior vice president Jack Womack writes in a memo to staffers, “Technology investments in our newsrooms now allow more desk-top editing and publishing for broadcast and online. As a result of these technology and workflow changes, CNN is reducing the number of media editors in our work force in Atlanta.” The report notes 12 positions in the Washington, DC bureau have been eliminated as well as jobs in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
All-New Cumulus Down 1.9% in Q3. In a conference call with analysts, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey reported that third quarter revenue for the newly acquired Citadel group of stations was down 2.3%, the Cumulus Media Partners stations – the old Susquehanna group stations that made up CMP which Cumulus finished purchasing in August, down 3.4% while Cumulus proper was down 0.6% in the third quarter compared to the same quarter one year ago. Dickey reports the company is ahead of schedule with its plan to achieve almost $52 million in “synergies” before January. He states, “We now have a true national platform with a large and liquid market capitalization and a flexible, covenant-light debt complex that is designed to optimize free cash flow and de-risk the equity. Our team is making excellent progress on the Citadel integration and is energized by the upside potential of our newly transformed platform.”
RAB Names Erica Farber Executive Vice President. The Radio Advertising Bureau announces it is consolidating its Membership, Professional Development and Services units into one big group and that former Radio & Records publisher and CEO Erica Farber joins the organization as EVP as of January 1, 2012. RAB president and CEO Jeff Haley says of Farber’s joining the organization, “I am thrilled about Erica joining the management team of the RAB. We are at a pivotal time as we look to serve the industry and ensure our product offerings meet the demands of an evolving medium. There’s no better executive for the role than Erica.” In related moves at the RAB, Sheila Kirby exits the RAB’s Professional Development Group to take the senior vice president of sales training and development post at CBS Radio. Michael Weiss, who serves as president of sales at CBS Radio says, “Sheila and I have worked together for close to 20 years, and there is no one I respect more when it comes to motivating a team to perform at their absolute best. Working closely with Sheila, our sales force will have a clear advantage in the marketplace and advertisers will benefit greatly working with such a sophisticated group of salespeople dedicated to constructing integrated programs that guarantee results.” Also from the RAB, Ron Ruth shifts from a full-time position with the RAB to a consulting role.
“The Broadside” Hosts Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent Fill in at WBAL, Baltimore. Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent began their internet program, “The Broadside” several months ago. Now, as Hearst’s WBAL, Baltimore is airing various programs in its 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot, Langer and Newgent host their program on WBAL on November 14, 15 and 25. Langer, who serves as president of the Institute for Liberty and the Small Business Political Alliance and was named by Campaigns and Elections as a Top Influencer in Maryland in 2011 and Newgent, who writes for TheExaminer.com and RedMaryland.blogspot.com and does research and analysis of politics and policy, say their plan “is to expand the horizons of traditional conservative talk, bringing in discussions (and guests) whose focuses are not only politics, but also movies, music and sports.”
CBS Radio Transitions ESPN High Desert to AM Signal; Goes All-Christmas on FM. The ESPN High Desert sports talk outlet KVFG-FM, Victorville, California shifts to KRAK-AM as ESPN 910 so the FM signal can flip to an all-Christmas format. There’s no indication what the group’s plans are for the FM signal after the holidays but it seems likely this is a prelude to a change to a music format.
Fox Sports Radio Los Angeles Raises Funds for Paralyzed Veterans. AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. (KLAC) announces it raised almost $100,000 for the Paralyzed Veterans of America during its radiothon on November 9. All the money raised during the “Loose Cannons” and “Petros & Money” shows that day will benefit the charity that provides rehab, access to services as well as research to cure spinal cord injuries. Pictured here (from l-r) are “Loose Cannons” Steve Hartman, Pat O’Brien, Los Angeles Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs. Robitaille was one of a number of local sports celebs who appeared on the program to help the cause.
SCOTUS to Hear Health Care Reform Arguments, 2012 Presidential Race and ‘Occupy Oakland’ Shut Down Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/14). The United States Supreme Court’s agreement to hear arguments on President Obama’s Health Care Reform law, the 2012 presidential race and the shutdown of the ‘Occupy Oakland’ protests were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels Arrested on Drunken Driving Charge. In Ohio it’s called OVI – operating a vehicle impaired – and that’s the charge Middletown, Ohio police are filing against Randy Michaels after he was found by police in his car stuck in mud and water in a construction zone around 2:00 am on Friday (10/14). Authorities noticed the smell of alcohol on Michael’s breath and administered field tests which authorities say he failed. Michaels refused a Breathalyzer test. He is expected to be in Middletown Court today. Middletown is about 35 miles north of the Cincinnati area where Michaels reportedly maintains a residence. The unconventional – some have called it “frat house” – workplace culture Michaels encourages is not surprising to many Clear Channel employees whom Michaels led for many years as president of that company’s radio division, but it ruffled the feathers of many Tribune Company employees when Michaels served as its CEO. It remains to be seen if this incident will affect Michaels’ relationship with Merlin Media’s investors, especially in light of the mounting criticism facing the recent launch of the FM news operations in New York and Chicago and their disappointing early ratings.
Hispanic Group Pickets KFI, Los Angeles in Protest of John & Ken. The National Hispanic Media Coalition held a press conference and peaceful protest outside the studios of Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles yesterday. About 35 people picketed the station’s Olive Street facilities in Burbank. The group tells L.A. Weekly that “at least three major advertisers are pulling out of the John & Ken show” and though the advertisers were not named there, the Los Angeles Times reports the activists say Verizon and AT&T have pulled advertising from the show and grocery chains Vons and Ralphs have agreed not to advertise on the show in the future. The protest and boycott were triggered after immigrant advocate Jorge-Mario Cabrera claimed to have received some 400 phone calls from John & Ken listeners after the duo gave out Cabrera’s cell number and asked listeners to tell him what they think of his support for the Dream Act which provides tuition subsidies for illegal immigrants. Initially, Clear Channel Los Angeles management agreed to meet with Hispanic leaders to discuss the issue but the meeting was canceled after one leader demanded that John & Ken be taken off the air and CC market manager Greg Ashlock refused to acquiesce to an ultimatum. Clear Channel did not address the issue of advertisers leaving the show but issued the following written statement, “Expressing your opinion is not a firing offense. KFI stands behind John and Ken and their right to speak their minds — opinions shared, incidentally, by over a million California listeners each week and protected by the First Amendment.” According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “This situation being faced by KFI in Los Angeles is a quintessential example of a whole slew of core news/talk radio concerns – special interest pressure, advertising boycotts, free speech rights, political correctness, and management resolve – all crashing together in one escalating story. It warrants the industry’s undivided attention.” The heated debate over illegal immigration as well as the managing of controversy in news/talk radio will be among the topics discussed at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum set for October 20.
CBS Radio Reportedly Interested in Annapolis FM for All-Newser. Rumors continue to swirl about CBS Radio’s interest in acquiring a DC-area FM – specifically Christian WFSI-FM, Annapolis – in order to put on its own FM all-news outlet in the Nation’s Capital. WFSI-FM is owned by evangelist Harold Camping’s Family Stations, Inc. The presence of CBS Radio Washington market manager Steve Swenson, who has a ton of experience in news having worked for years in various capacities at the company’s New York news stations WCBS and WINS, is lending credence to the rumor.
Clear Channel Promotes Brian Lekamp to President of CC Digital. Brian Lekamp moves up from his post as EVP of digital media to the newly created position. Lekamp’s duties include his responsibility for Clear Channel’s digital strategy – with its iHeartRadio service at the top of that — as well as the infrastructure, tools and social media integration for its local stations’ branded Internet properties. He will also continue to work with key partners to develop cutting-edge tools and products for all of Clear Channel’s radio, media and entertainment properties. Lekamp states, “At Clear Channel, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the best people in the business – they are smart, dedicated and focused on innovation. The development of the new iHeartRadio was supercharged with our acquisition of Thumbplay in March and our strong integrated digital team will continue to develop new digital music products and experiences that support the iHeartRadio platform and Clear Channel’s network of radio station websites. This is a team effort that I am honored to lead.”
CBS Radio Ups Mike Thomas to VP of Programming in Boston. Mike Thomas has been PD at classic rock WZLX, Boston since 2006 and has programmed WBZ-FM – 98.5 The Sports Hub – since its debut in 2009. Now, CBS Radio ups Thomas to vice president of programming for the cluster that also includes hot AC WBMX-FM, oldies WODS-FM and news WBZ. SVP and market manager Mark Hannon says, “Since Mike’s arrival at WZLX in 2006, he has built the station into a consistent ratings powerhouse. His launch of 98.5 The Sports Hub in 2009 has been one of the most successful in recent radio history, and the station being named ‘Sports Station of the Year’ at the 2011 NAB Marconi Radio Awards was a tremendous accomplishment. I look forward to using his strategic approach and programming insights to impact the overall CBS Radio stable of stations in Boston.”
CC Denver Produces Successful “Battle of the Talk Show Hosts” Live Event. The 2nd annual “Battle of the Talk Show Hosts” was produced on Thursday, October 6 by Clear Channel Denver and entertained a sold-out house at the Comedy Works Landmark in Denver. Personalities from the three Denver talk stations – KOA, KHOW and KKZN – batted around the hot issues of the day before the live audience. Taking part were: Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh, Mike Rosen, Dave Logan, Michael Brown, John Caldara and Rick Barber from KOA; Peter Boyles, Tom Martino and Dan Caplis & Craig Silverman from KHOW; and David Sirota and Thom Hartmann from KKZN. The event was heavily sponsored by local businesses and admission was charged. Pictured here are progressive talk KKZN morning host David Sirota (l) and KOA midday host Mike Rosen (r).
Buckley Broadcasting’s Jennifer Buckley Named to RAB Board. The daughter of the late Rick Buckley (once chair of the RAB board) is elected to the Radio Advertising Bureau board. Jennifer Buckley is vice president and director of sales for WOR, New York and the WOR Radio Network.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” adds WTRC-AM/FM, South Bend, Indiana for its brand new live Sunday evening show hosted by Mark Edge and Stephanie…..“The Career Clinic” with Maureen Anderson picks up affiliates WLRT, Lexington, Kentucky; KBJT, Fordyce, Arkansas; WKEI, Kewanee, Illinois; and KTUI, Sullivan Missouri.
2012 Presidential Race/999 Plan Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 10-14. The GOP race for the nomination for the 2012 presidential election and Herman Cain’s ‘999 plan’ topped the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories of the week. At #2 was the Iran assassination plot allegation. Close behind at #3 was the ‘Occupy’ protest movement and at #4 was President Obama’s Jobs Bill. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published each Friday at Talkers.com. To view the entire chart, click the banner below.
Big Eddie: Walkin’ the Walk. MSNBC and Dial Global progressive talk star Ed Schultz sits down with TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison and says he’s committed to the causes he talks about on his programs in a very hands-on way. He’s personally worked to assist Katrina victims, stood behind the public union workers in Wisconsin and is organizing free health care clinics in New Orleans. Schultz also tells Harrison he’s not afraid to criticize President Obama and often takes guff from fellow progressives when he does. On his media experiences Schultz says he knows the life span of a cable TV talk host can be very short but he makes no excuses for being himself — both on the radio and on TV — and is very proud of his “upstream swim” to success. Read the interview here.
Don’t Miss Michael Harrison at the Radio Show! TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison delivers his annual “State of Talk Media” address at the NAB/RAB-produced event in Chicago today (9/14) from 10:30 am to 11:45 am at the Hyatt Regency Chicago C/D. Today Harrison will discuss the current state and immediate future of talk radio and its related venues and presents his “10 things broadcasters need to know about the enormous changes taking place in talk radio” right now.
Talk Radio Programming Pro Len Weiner Heads Florida Cluster. The Genesis Communications-owned stations in the Tampa market – all-news WWBA, news/talk WMGG and sports WHBO – have a new programmer in radio pro Len Weiner. His programming resume includes WGN, Chicago; WMVP, Chicago; KMPC, Los Angeles and a decade spent at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. Now he heads south to take the official title market program manager at the Genesis cluster.
TRN’s Michael Savage Releases New Fiction Thriller. Savage is no stranger to bestselling books – he’s penned eight of them. Now he’s out with a fast-paced fiction thriller titled, Abuse of Power (St. Martin’s Press 2011) – the story of a “hardened former war correspondent… smeared as a bigot and extremist by a radical leftist media-watchdog group…who uncovers a chilling terrorist plot.” A release states that Savage’s own experiences – including being banned from Britain by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith – influenced this work.
Citadel Media Very High on Hot ABC Digital Product. Citadel Media says the ABC Digital service from ABC News Radio is one of the network’s fastest-growing products with 350 affiliations to date. The service that delivers customized, format-specific news and music/entertainment feeds directly to radio station websites has inked affiliation deals with several broadcast companies in the past month including Midwest Communications, Merlin Media, Three Eagles Communications, Journal Broadcast Group, Next Media, Times-Shamrock Communications, and JVC Broadcasting. ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones says, “When we break news, we alert our key radio station contacts so they can promote their leadership position on-air and drive listeners to their station’s site. This is a strong engagement feature that helps our customers increase their digital audience while seamlessly linking the on-air and online experiences.” ABC Digital offers brief stories from news categories such as World, National, Politics, Business, Entertainment and Health/Lifestyle, which are produced and updated 24 hours a day. Photos, slides and graphics accompany each story. The service can also be tailored for music-formatted stations to focus on stories about key artists for the major radio music formats.
Tea Party GOP Debate, Obama’s Sinking Approval Ratings, Jobs Bill and Race for Weiner Seat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/13). The performances of the GOP contenders for president at the Tea Party Debate, President Obama’s low approval ratings, the jobs bill Obama is presenting to Congress and Republican Bob Turner’s victory for the New York Congressional seat held by disgraced Democrat Anthony Weiner were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Dancing Cheek to Cheek. That’s Salem Radio Network talk show host Mike Gallagher cutting the rug with Minnesota Congresswoman and GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann in Tampa. The photo was taken at the presidential debate “Watching Party” sponsored by Salem Communications news/talk outlet WGUL, Tampa that catered to an “overflow crowd.” Several candidates stopped by the party — emceed by Gallagher — after the debate. Salem Radio Network VP of news and talk programming Tom Tradup says, “Anytime you can herd hundreds of WGUL listeners together with a half dozen presidential candidates and everyone leaves smiling, I’d call that a successful station event!”