Tag: "Randy Michaels"
TALKERS Publishes Second Annual “Heavy Hundred” of Sports Talk Radio. The editors of TALKERS magazine, with input from industry leaders, have compiled the second annual Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America. The eagerly anticipated list is posted today (11/7). Like its long-established “sister list” – the long-running (18 years) annual “Heavy Hundred” that ranks talk radio hosts working in the news/talk and general talk genres – the editors of TALKERS magazine have ranked sports talk hosts, duos or ensembles from 1 to 100 based upon a set of criteria that includes a combination of hard and soft factors. The results are, admittedly, subjective. Being true to the realities of the media business, ratings and revenue are two of the major factors – some would say they are the only factors worth considering – but the editors also took into account other qualities that help create a list that is reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor and still give credit where credit is due. Those qualities include: courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness. The other concrete qualification for inclusion is hosts must be working – that is, have a regularly scheduled professional show on the air at a minimum of one terrestrial or satellite radio station at the time of publication. TALKERS salutes the fine broadcasters who made this year’s second annual list! To see the entire roster, please click here.
Darryl Parks Exits Clear Channel. The longtime WLW, Cincinnati steward and architect of so many of the talk shows that aired on the station has been let go by Clear Channel. Programmer Darryl Parks was PD of WLW from 1999 to 2010 when he was promoted to vice president of news/talk operations for the entire company. He remained based at the Cincinnati cluster and hosted a Saturday morning talk show on WLW. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter broke the news on Wednesday afternoon and in his report calls Parks “arguably the most influential person in Cincinnati radio” during his time as PD of WLW. As per policy, Clear Channel doesn’t comment on personnel matters but has confirmed that Parks is no longer with the company. The move is likely a restructuring of management within the company but Parks drew attention to himself last month with a blog post criticizing acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn’s AM revitalization program and referred to the NAB/RAB Radio Show as a “circle jerk.”
CBS Corporation Reveals Q3 Numbers: Radio Up 1%. For the company as a whole, revenue was up 11% but the radio division’s net revenue rose just 1%. With so much of CBS’ revenue from television and cable, the company doesn’t spend much time talking about radio. EVP of investor relations Adam Townsend did single out the fledgling CBS Sports Radio Network, saying, “CBS Sports Radio network continues to help drive our results. Plus, digital revenue was up 19% in the quarter. And nontraditional revenue, including our growing local events business, was up 9%.” The company says it expects the radio division to be up in the low single digits in the fourth quarter.
Clear Channel Radio Revenue Up 3%. CC Media Holdings issued its third quarter 2013 financial results and the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment division’s revenue increased by 3% or $25 million. Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman states, “Strategically and financially, our third quarter results reflect the growing strength of our Media+Entertainment business, while we continue to make meaningful progress in moving Outdoor forward internationally and in the Americas. At Media+Entertainment, we outperformed the entire radio sector in revenue growth, including in our major markets. Increasingly, our radio business is benefiting from our strategic approach to advertising that sets us apart in the marketplace.” Among numerous other points made about the division’s recent achievements, the company notes that there are now “39 million iHeartRadio registered users as of September 30, 2013, up 114% from the end of the 2012 third quarter, and crossing the 30 million registered user mark faster than Facebook, Twitter, Spotify or Pandora, and second only to Instagram. iHeartRadio’s total listening hours were up 30% in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. Mobile represented 60% of iHeartRadio total listening hours during the quarter.”
Tony Katz to Host Evening Show on WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis and talk show host Tony Katz have agreed to terms for Katz to debut his “Tony Katz Tonight” program on the station airing from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight beginning Monday, November 11. Katz will be based out of his Tomorrow Media Network studios in Los Angeles. Katz most recently hosted a weekend program on Emmis-owned KFTK-FM, St. Louis “FM News Talk 97.1” where he also serves as the regular fill-in for the station’s Dana Loesch. Katz states, “I’m thrilled to be with Emmis, a company that has fought hard to be strong in this ever-shifting radio landscape. I’ve had a great relationship with the company, with Dana and especially KFTK program director Jeff Allen, who gave me nothing but support, opportunity and encouragement. To go from there to the capable and fearless hands of WIBC program director David Wood makes me truly believe that this is the start of a long, profitable relationship.” Katz is a columnist with TownHall and Christian Post and a frequent commentator on “Fox and Friends” and “The Kudlow Report” on CNBC. He is also a sought after public speaker.
Bill Cunningham’s TV Show Renews on The CW. WLW, Cincinnati talk show host Bill Cunningham can also claim success in his other media endeavor – the Tribune-produced television talk program “The Bill Cunningham Show.” Now, Cable & Broadcasting reports that the show has been picked up for another season – its third – by The CW Network which airs the show at 3:00 pm ET. The TV project was one of those that began back when former Clear Channel radio president Randy Michaels was heading up Tribune. Former Clear Channel programmer Sean Compton is one of the executives whom Michaels brought to Chicago and has risen to president of programming and entertainment for Tribune Broadcasting. Compton is quoted in the piece saying, “The growth of ‘The Bill Cunningham Show’ over the past three seasons has exceeded all expectations. When compared to perceptually bigger shows, Cunningham consistently comes out on top. His demo conversion steadily yields impressive results and we are extremely proud of this show.”
A Peek Inside: NAB Futures 2013. Radio consultant and TALKERS contributor Holland Cooke was recently invited to attend – and deliver a keynote speech! – at the invitation only NAB Futures 2013 that took place in Laguna Beach, California. Cooke describes it as “a think tank about how broadcasters can embrace and exploit the ‘disruption’ that has changed how consumers consume media.” He reports back interesting tidbits from such speakers as: James McQuivey, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research and the author of Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation; Scott Burnell, global lead, business development & partner management at Ford Motor Company; Jason Dorsey, “The Gen Y Guy” who wrote Y-Size Your Business: How Gen Y Employees Can Save You Money and Grow Your Business. Get Holland Cooke’s scoop on the NAB Futures 2013 here.
WestwoodOne Opens Creative and Production Studio for Radio Marketers. Saying that it wants to help marketers develop “world-class audio,” WestwoodOne announces the opening of a full-service Creative Services division to be “powered” in part by TM Studios. The company says it will “provide multi-platform marketing solutions including on-air, digital and experiential components, built upon the company’s core service producing engaging audio experiences that connect people with their passions in life. The studio is currently preparing to work with marketers to produce audio ads for WestwoodOne’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII.” WestwoodOne CEO Paul Caine states, “Audio plays a vital role in the new media landscape and WestwoodOne is uniquely positioned to help marketers integrate creative, multiplatform audio advertising into the mix. Marketers need a reliable partner who understands how, where and when today’s mobile consumers are interacting with audio and the ability to develop audio content that can stand out from the competition. Be it mobile, terrestrial or digital consumption, the team at WestwoodOne Studio has the talent and expertise to create the most compelling and effective advertising to give our marketers the most exposure.”
Phil Valentine Kicks Off ‘Spreading the Truth’ Tour. Nashville-based syndicated talk show host Phil Valentine is launching what he’s calling the “Spreading the Truth” tour to promote the newly released DVD of his film “An Inconsistent Truth.” Valentine will be in Pensacola, Florida at the Cordova Mall on Sunday, November 10 in conjunction with his Pensacola affiliate station WCOA. Valentine reports that the movie – which challenges the notion of runaway, man-made global warming and takes its title from a twist on Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth – “hit the #1 spot on Amazon.com’s documentary list shortly after its release. It’s the winner of three film festival awards including the Nevada Film Festival. The film enjoyed a limited run last year in select theaters and was the top-grossing movie per screen in the entire country its first two weeks out. It’s the 20th top-grossing nature documentary of all time, out-grossing films like “Cool It, Gasland and Fuel.” Valentine states, “I think the fact that we hit #1 on Amazon so quickly is a testament to the appetite out there for the truth. People inherently know carbon dioxide is not some kind of poison. They instinctively know they’re being lied to. We just arm them with the facts.” The Spreading the Truth tour kicks off in Pensacola then moves to Nashville. Other tour dates are being added.
Odds & Sods. Chicago Cubs radio color analyst Keith Moreland is stepping down from his role. WGN, Chicago announces the former Cub has made the decision to leave the broadcast booth to spend more time with his family. In a note to the WGN staff, Moreland stated, “I would like to thank the fans, the folks at WGN Radio, my colleagues in the booth, the Ricketts family, and the Cubs for this great opportunity. After spending three years doing it, I’ve simply decided that I want to spend more time at home in Texas.” Moreland became a permanent fixture with play-by-play broadcaster Pat Hughes in February of 2011…..Entercom’s WEEI-FM, Boston announces the return of its off-season baseball show “Red Sox Hot Stove,” a weekly, one-hour program hosted by WEEI.com editor Rob Bradford and Red Sox reporter Alex Speier that will air every Thursday night from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm through February. The program will focus on all off-season moves made by the Red Sox and in Major League Baseball, including free agency and trades, the GM and owners’ meetings and the league’s annual Winter Meetings, taking place this year from December 9-12 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, FL. Bradford and Speier will be joined on a recurring basis by Red Sox manager John Farrell, general manager Ben Cherington and assistant general manager Mike Hazen. In addition, listeners will regularly hear from other managers, general managers, agents and players from around baseball.
‘There She/He Is, Miss Indiana…’ Okay, so that’s not exactly how the song goes. Nonetheless, the attractive woman you see here is Mekayla Diehl (right) who was crowned Miss Indiana USA 2014 this past Sunday. The handsome lad seated and wearing the tiara is Federated Media news and programming guru Jon Zimney of ‘95.3 FM MNC’ (Michiana News Channel) in South Bend, Indiana, and WOWO-AM/FM in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Miss Diehl visited the broadcasting facility to talk about her being crowned to represent the state of Indiana.
ObamaCare Criticism, Election Day Results, Benghazi Case, GOP 2014 and 2016 Strategies, Iran Nukes, Miami Dolphins ‘Bullying’ Story and Tony Dorsett Health Issues Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/6). The ongoing scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; Tuesday’s election results; renewed criticism of the handling of the deadly Benghazi attacks; Republican prospects and strategies for the mid-term elections in 2014 and the presidential election in 2016; Iran’s nuclear weapons program; controversy over the suspension of Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito; and former NFL great Tony Dorsett’s admission he suffers from possible effects of football injuries were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Talkers Los Angeles 2013 Takes Place Today. More than 250 broadcasters from the talk media industries will be gathering in Hollywood, California today to hear more than 57 speakers analyze the key issues facing talk radio and talk internet at Talkers Los Angeles 2013. Among them, Alpha Broadcasting and L&L Broadcasting CEO Larry Wilson, who will deliver the keynote address, “Radio at the Crossroads,” and Courtside Entertainment, LLC CEO Norm Pattiz and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison who will engage in a keynote conversation, “Okay…Now What?” at the sold-out event. Talkers Los Angeles 2013 — a presentation of TALKERS magazine in association with the Los Angeles Press Club — takes place today between 9:00 am and 6:15 pm at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, California. Full coverage of the conference will be provided at Talkers.com in the coming days and weeks. To see the up-to-date, power-packed agenda, please click here.
PodcastOne Signs Kathie Lee Gifford to Deal for One-Hour Program. Bringing marquee talent to the podcast genre is what Courtside Entertainment Group CEO Norm Pattiz promised when he debuted PodcastOne. Now, the company signs “Today” co-anchor Kathie Lee Gifford to host a one-hour podcast on the platform. When the show debuts on October 23, Gifford will host with her former “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” partner Regis Philbin. Gifford says, “I’m so looking forward to this new podcast adventure. I feel like I’m in an episode of the Jetsons, soaring into unknown territory on my podcast. It will be the first time for me in a 45-year career where I’ve been able to completely control the content. And best of all? I won’t need my hair or makeup done and there’s no need for Spanx!” Pattiz adds, “What can I possibly say about Kathie Lee Gifford that hasn’t already been said? How about this – bringing Kathie Lee to on-demand audio via PodcastOne is a very big deal. We’re doing business with the best of the best, and that list just got better.” Other PodcastOne personalities and brands include Adam Carolla, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Steve Austin, Dennis Miller, Ron Paul, Jay Mohr, Jillian Michaels, NPR New York, NPR Los Angeles, and “60 Minutes.”
KFTK, St. Louis Personality Dana Loesch Joins Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. St. Louis-based talk radio personality and writer Dana Loesch has subbed for Glenn Beck in addition to her full-time work on Emmis’ KFTK, St. Louis and WIBC, Indianapolis. Now, she’ll serve as a contributor and host for TheBlaze. In addition to continuing to fill in for Beck, what audio or video contributions Loesch will make remains unclear at this time. Loesch says, “I’m excited to join TheBlaze team. I love the fight in this group and their dedication to creating the best content available on multiple platforms. They’ve been at the forefront of new wave media…I can’t wait to get started.” Glenn Beck said of her on his TV program, “We are thrilled to have her. She is one of the people that is on the front lines fighting the good fight. We have wanted to have her as a part of TheBlaze for a very, very long time.” Loesch founded the St.Louis-area Tea Party and previously worked as an editor at Breitbart.
Mike McConnell Exits Tribune’s WGN, Chicago. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that talk radio personality Mike McConnell – off the AM 720 signal at Tribune’s WGN since early October and relegated to airing a show on wgnradio.com – is leaving the company. McConnell came to WGN from Clear Channel’s WLW, Cincinnati where he worked with former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels when Michaels was running WLW and later serving as president of Clear Channel Radio. When Jimmy de Castro took over the reins of WGN earlier this year, it was suspected that the on-air lineup might change dramatically and that’s what’s happened. Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder were brought in for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon shift and Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano took over the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show. Feder reports that sources say McConnell and Tribune have a tentative settlement on the remaining two years of his reported $500,000 annual salary but there’s no official word from Tribune at this time.
KFH, Wichita Brings Shane Dennis Aboard for PM Drive. Entercom sports talk radio outlet KFH-AM/FM, Wichita the addition of a new live and local sports talk show hosted by Shane Dennis beginning October 21. Dennis comes to the station with a sports pedigree. He was director of baseball operations for 13 years at Wichita State. During that time, he worked with Mike Kennedy as color analyst for WSU baseball games. He pitched for the WSU Shockers from 1991–1994 and earned All-American honors in 1994. Program director Tony Duesing says, “We’re excited about adding Shane to our powerful sports lineup on KFH. Shane is a big sports radio fan and he is a great personality who will only make people want to tune in.”
Former KCOH, Houston Talk Radio Personality Files Civil Suit Against Station President. Recently, TALKERS reported the case of Houston urban talk radio personality Michael Harris quitting his position at KCOH after alleging station president (and local minister) Jesse Dunn was misusing station funds. Now, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle, Harris is filing a civil suit against Dunn and the South Houston Community Development Corporation. The paper reports that in the suit, Harris says Dunn made false representations to induce him to secure two personal lines of credit totaling $130,000 for station financing and back a $38,000 loan for equipment. Harris also alleges that Dunn was able to acquire a debit card to use on one of the lines of credit and that Dunn has been using those funds for personal expenses including trips to Las Vegas and Louisiana. Harris’ attorney says no contract exists between the two men and states, point blank, that his client “got hustled.” Dunn had previously said whatever money he used was his and is currently running recorded announcements on the station assuring listeners that the station’s finances are strong and that claims to the contrary are misrepresentations.
Internet Advertising Bureau: Digital Ad Revenue Hits $20.1 Billion in First Half of 2013. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, that total for the first half of 2013 marks an increase of 18% over the 2012 first-half-year total. Some other highlights from the organization’s report include: Report highlights include: Mobile revenues soared to $3 billion in the first half of 2013, representing triple-digit growth at 145% from $1.2 billion in the same period last year; Digital video, a component of display-related advertising, took in $1.3 billion in revenue during the first six months of 2013, an uptick of 24% over the first half of 2012 at $1.1 billion; Search revenues in the first half of 2013 totaled $8.7 billion, up 7% from $8.1 billion in the first half of 2012; Display-related advertising revenues in the first half of 2013 totaled $6.1 billion, accounting for 30% of revenues in the time period, up 9% from $5.6 billion in the first half of 2012; and the top three advertising verticals accounted for 46% of advertising revenue, including Retail at 20%, Financial Services at 14% and Automotive at 12%. IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg states, “Digital has steadily increased its ability to captivate consumers and then capture the marketing dollars that follow. Mobile advertising’s breakneck growth is evidence that marketers are recognizing the tremendous power of smaller screens. Digital video is also on a positive trajectory, delivering avid viewership and strong brand-building opportunities.”
J.D. Hayworth in for Huckabee. Former U.S. Congressman J.D. Hayworth (and former KFYI, Phoenix talk host) sits in for Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated talk personality Mike Huckabee on Friday, October 11 from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET.
Debt Limit/Government Shutdown, ObamaCare Implementation, Obama Approval Ratings, Financial Markets Activity, and Baseball Playoff Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/9). The struggle in Washington to come to agreement on a debt limit and to undo the government shutdown; the failure of the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act website; the sinking approval ratings for President Obama; the response to the government shutdown by the world’s financial markets; and the MLB playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Big Changes Coming to WGN, Chicago; Cochran to AM Drive and an FM Signal in Tribune’s Future. The Chicago Tribune lays out some of the changes that will take place at Tribune Company’s legendary radio property on September 3. With the hiring of radio executive and former WLUP-FM chief Jimmy de Castro in the spring of this year, industry watchers knew changes were afoot. De Castro wasn’t hired to run things as they were. And now we know some of the ideas de Castro has been considering over the summer. Former midday host Mike McConnell – a WLW, Cincinnati alum brought in by former bosses Randy Michaels and Kevin Metheny – has already moved to the company’s online effort WGN-2. Now, Tribune reveals that air personality Steve Cochran – ousted from the station in 2010 – will return to host AM drive. Current AM drive host Jonathon Brandmeier will move to a digital property dubbed wgnfm.com until the company can acquire an FM signal on which to build a new station. The paper reports that husband-and-wife team Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano will likely host the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show and overnight host Bill Leff will be partnered with a player-to-be-named-later for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show. Garry Meier remains in the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot but is expected to take on a name partner soon. Another return of talent from the pre-Randy Michaels days are Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey (former midday “Girlfriends”) who will do a weekend program on WGN. The AM radio property will also build using blocks from its WGN-TV sibling, starting with the branding slogan “Chicago’s Very Own.” De Castro says the station will use WGN-TV personalities more often, including Dean Richards and Tom Skilling. As for the future FM property that will start as a digital station, de Castro says, “We’re going to create it as a radio laboratory. We’re going to build it up until we get an FM and then we’re going to put them all on a talk FM.” The story notes that any purchase of an FM will come after the company sheds its newspaper division. That may happen in 2014 if a buyer (or buyers) can be found.
Jim Watkins Returns to Talk Radio Network. Radio pro Jim Watkins served with Talk Radio Network for 13 years as director of affiliate relations and executive producer for the syndication company. Now, TRN Syndications, Ltd. announces it is engaging Watkins “to spearhead several new projects within TRN and to assist in the growth of the existing affiliate base of the multiple TRN networks and many radio stars that TRN syndicates.” The company states Watkins will oversee new business development and growth-strategy projects for the TRN Networks that distributes Andrea Tantaros, Jerry Doyle, Rusty Humphries, Erich “Mancow” Muller, Monica Crowley, “America’s Morning News,” Michio Kaku, Louie Anderson, Roy Masters and America’s Radio News Network, and a complete weekend lineup of a variety of talk programming. CEO Mark Masters says he’s thrilled to have Watkins leading his affiliate department at this most crucial time. “Jim is deeply entrenched in talk radio and has developed alliances with key programmers across the country. As the country ramps up into the mid-term elections, talk radio has never been more vital to facilitating the national debate. Jim really understands the vitality of talk radio better than most people in the industry today.” Watkins previously programmed news/talk stations for Clear Channel, as well as South-Florida based Meridian Broadcasting, and also served as producer for some of the top air talent in the country, including Michael Savage, Mike Gallagher, Barry Farber, and others. He adds, “Talk radio reaches the most affluent and loyal audience of any format, and it does so by allowing for a free exchange of ideas which can and does influence public policy in a big way. To have one of the best rosters of talent to be found anywhere gives me a great sense of pride.”
Nationally Syndicated Host Thom Hartmann Debuts Daily Caller Column. Liberal talk media star Thom Hartmann begins writing a weekly column for the conservative digital publication Daily Caller in which he addresses an issue from his own perspective followed by a conservative or libertarian rebuttal. In his first column – dubbed “Liberally Yours” – Hartmann asks the question: Should the Post Office be in charge of your e-mails? You can read the piece here. Hartmann – whose radio program is syndicated by WYD Media Management – was recently honored by TALKERS magazine ranked at #7 on the Frontier Fifty 2013 – A Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters (see that entire feature here). In addition to his AM/FM radio program, Hartmann’s digital efforts have earned him recognition by TALKERS for his forward-thinking business model that pushes his content into exciting new areas.
Scott Webb Joins Beasley South Florida as Production Director. Beasley Broadcast Miami announces the appointment of Scott Webb as production director for its three-station cluster that includes hip hop WPOW “Power 96,” country WKIS “99.9 Kiss Country” and sports talk WQAM “560 Sports Radio.” In this new post, Webb will be responsible for overseeing the voicing and production of commercials for the stations. Webb owns Scott Webb Radio Imaging based previously in Washington/Baltimore that he founded in 2001. Prior to launching his own firm, he was creative services director and morning co-host at WJMO, Washington, D.C. He has also served as creative services director at WHUR, Washington, WMMJ, Washington and KRBV, Dallas. WKIS operations manager Ken Boesen states, “Scott brings exceedingly strong production skills, top-quality voiceover abilities and a fun work ethic to Beasley Miami. He’ll be a great addition to the team and will help make our production department the strongest in South Florida.”
Boston Celtics and WEEI/WRKO Part Company; Will CBS Radio Swoop In? The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reports that Entercom and the NBA’s Boston Celtics have ended negotiations to continue airing games on sports talk WEEI-FM and news/talk WRKO this season after being unable to come to terms. Now the question is will CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” be able to secure the play-by-play rights? In the ongoing and bloody battle between the two sports talk stations, a snare of Celtics hoops would give WBZ-FM three of the four major sports in town: Patriots football, Bruins hockey and Celtics basketball – leaving WEEI-FM with Red Sox baseball (no small potatoes, obviously). As Finn notes in his piece, CBS Radio owns enough stations in the market to cover any conflicts between the several teams’ games. Finn writes that Entercom and the Celtics had a revenue-sharing agreement under the old deal but it’s unknown if there was also a rights fee. Historically, CBS Radio has been willing to pay big dollars for play-by-play rights if it believes it can justify the expense down the road.
Good Karma Lets Three Go at WKNR, Cleveland. In a report on Cleveland.com, Good Karma trims its staff by three as sports talk outlet WKNR “ESPN Cleveland” says goodbye to sports talk host Kenny Roda, Browns beat reporter Will Burge and Indians beat reporter T.J. Zuppe. Burge tells the news outlet that although he was a little surprised by the changes, he says, “I guess you can never be too surprised in this business when they say they want to meet with you about some big-picture changes.” Roda Tweeted to fans, “Thanks to all who have made the last 21 years at WKNR a remarkable, unforgettable & amazing journey. I enjoyed sharing it with you all.”
Art Versnick Named GM at WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Resort Broadcasting news/talk WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware “The Talk of Delmarva” announces Art Versnick joins the station to serve as general manager. In making the announcement, company president David Schoumacher states, “Art is a seasoned broadcast professional who brings great knowledge to our very important heritage radio station. It was imperative to secure the future of this franchise with a pro, and we’ve done that by bringing his talent to work with our staff.” Versnick comments, “I’m thrilled to be joining this heritage station – with its local air staff – almost unheard of today in news/talk radio. The dedication of this staff and ownership to provide Sussex County with quality and local programming will continue and move to the next level in providing listeners and advertisers a local forum.”
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Begins Sponsored Live Broadcast Series. Journal Broadcast Group’s news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee announces the debut of the “We Love Wisconsin Tour” that will see the morning show broadcast live from sites across the state. Sponsored by All American Window & Door, the first live broadcast event will be Friday, August 23, at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend where “Wisconsin’s Morning News with Gene Mueller” will broadcast from 5:00 am to 8:30 am. The tour will continue in Wauwatosa in September, Madison in October and Green Bay in November. Journal Broadcast Group vice president of news/talk programming Tom Langmyer says, “As ‘Wisconsin’s Radio Station,’ WTMJ is excited to celebrate individual communities that make our region so special as a whole. Gene Mueller and his team will explore the history of each town, introduce listeners to special people and discover fun things to do along the way. We’re pleased to partner with All American Window & Door on this adventure.” During the live broadcast event, Terri Lodwick, owner of All American Window & Door, will present a $1,000 donation to a local charity.
Odds & Sods. Hubbard Radio Washington D.C. properties WTOP and Federal News Radio are honored with the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility for the use of flexibility and other aspects of workplace effectiveness as a workplace strategy to increase business and employee success…..Hubbard Radio’s WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN” agrees to a deal through Learfield Sports to carry University of Illinois football play-by-play for this season…..NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath guests on Sports USA’s “Conversations with Joe Morgan” this week. Morgan’s program is heard on some 80 affiliates across the country. Namath’s podcast, produced by Sports USA, debuts next week…..Indiana Radio Watch tips TALKERS that Zach Bonahoom exits Federated Media’s news/talk WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne where he hosted a Saturday talk show.
NSA Surveillance Program/UK Threatens Guardian, Egypt Violence, ObamaCare Implementation, OK Ballplayer Slaying, and Clinton Foundation Expenses Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/20). The scope of the NSA surveillance program and the UK’s threats against the Guardian paper; continuing violence in Egypt and the U.S.’s relationship with its government; the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; the killing of an Australian baseball player by teens in Oklahoma; and the report of the Clinton Foundation’s travel expenses were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Can You Imagine Meeting These 47 People (and About 500 More) All in One Day? The roster of industry luminaries signed up to serve as speakers at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 has been announced and it reads like a who’s who of the talk radio industry. Not yet named on the list are several more “surprise” speakers including the yet-to-be revealed recipient of the 2013 Freedom of Speech Award which will bring the total to around 50. In making the announcement, TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “In the 16-year colorful history of this national conference, I believe this is the best and most balanced lineup of speakers we’ve ever assembled. This power-packed gathering of management, programming, sales and technical leaders will directly address today’s most important issues, as the radio industry – not just spoken word - faces some of the most existential challenges of its century-long history.” Talkers New York 2013 takes place on Thursday, June 6 between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm at the Concierge Conference Center, 780 Third Avenue on Manhattan’s East Side. The event, which is on the verge of being an early sellout, is open exclusively to members of the working media. Registrations can only be booked by credit card over the phone at 413-565-5413. The following individuals will be speaking (in alphabetical order): Michael “Bax” Baxendale, Co-Host, “Bax & O’Brien Morning Show, WAQY “Rock 102”, Springfield, MA; Michael Berry, Host, KTRH, Houston (and syndication); Jim Bohannon, Host, Dial Global; Phil Boyce, VP/Spoken Word Format, Salem Communications; Spencer Brown, former CEO, Dial Global; Kevin Casey, VP/Executive Editor, TALKERS; Mark Chernoff, VP of Sports Programming, CBS Radio/OM, WFAN, New York; Jeremy Coleman, SVP, Talk & Entertainment Programming, Sirius/XM; Alan Colmes, Host, Fox News Radio; Holland Cooke, President, Holland Cooke Media; Jana Cosgrove, President, CBS Radio Sales/Entercom Radio Sales; Jerry Crowley, VP/GM, WNYM “AM 970 The Answer”, New York; Tom Cuddy, PD, WOR, New York; Andy Dean, Host, Premiere Networks; Dave Elswick, PD/Host, KARN, Little Rock; Erica Farber, President/CEO, Radio Advertising Bureau; Mike Francesa, Host, WFAN, New York; Ian Freeman, Co-Host, Free Talk Live; Dom Giordano, Host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Sean Hannity, Host, Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel; Michael Harrison, Publisher, TALKERS; Ron Hartenbaum, President, WYD/WYM Media; Thom Hartmann, Host, WYD Media; Bill Hess, PD, WMAL, Washington, DC; Clay Hunnicutt, EVP, Programming, Clear Channel; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Tom Leykis, President/Host, The New Normal; Lionel, Host, WWIQ “IQ 106.9”, Philadelphia; Steve Malzberg, Host, Newsmax.com; Carole Marks, CEO, Talk Media, Inc.; Kevin McCullough, CEO/Host, XtreMedia; Mike McVay, SVP, Programming, Cumulus Media; Dan Metter, SVP, Sales, Premiere Networks; Jon Miller, Director of Programming Services, Arbitron, Inc.; Trevor Oliver, former SVP/Operations, Premiere Networks; Norm Pattiz, CEO, Courtside Entertainment, LLC/Launchpad Digital Media; Tom Ray, President, Tom Ray Broadcast Consulting; Walter Sabo, Chairman, Sabo Media; Michael Smerconish, Host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; Jeff Smulyan, CEO, Emmis Broadcasting; Doug Stephan, President/Host, Stephan Multimedia; Andrea Tantaros, Host, Talk Radio Network/Fox News Channel; Phil Valentine, Host, Cumulus Media; Paul Vandenburgh, President/GM/Host, WGDJ “Talk 1300 AM”, Albany; Lincoln Ware, Host, WDBZ (The Buzz), Cincinnati; Jeff Wasserman, President, Life Coach Media; David Webb, Host, Sirius/XM; Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., Senior Partner, Harrison Strategies; Lisa Wexler, Host, WFAS, Westchester, NY; and Dennis Wharton, VP Communications, National Association of Broadcasters. The actual agenda of sessions and times will be posted here later this week.
WVON, Chicago to Celebrate 50th Anniversary April 5-6. Midway Broadcasting-owned WVON, Chicago commemorates 50 years on air tomorrow and Saturday with a two-day celebration kicked off with a special performance by musician Roy Ayers on Friday and culminating with the “IMPACT 50 Grand Gala” at the historic Chicago Theater featuring Toni Braxton on Saturday night. Those expected to be in attendance on Saturday include: media personality Roland Martin, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Radio One’s Cathy Hughes, Rev. Al Sharpton, and actor/activist Dick Gregory. Radio historians may be aware that the station was founded by Leonard and Phillip Chess, founders of the famous Chess Records that recorded so many black artists during the 1960s. Current Midway Broadcasting chief Melody Spann Cooper’s father, Pervis “Blues Man” Spann, bought the station and since that time it has morphed from an urban music outlet into the urban news/talk station it is today. Cooper tells the Huffington Post that two years ago she wasn’t sure the station was going to survive to see its 50th. “Being independently owned in the third largest market, we definitely faced some challenges to stay afloat. We have stood the test of time and worked through the challenges, so this makes it an extra special time for us.” The station’s calls originally stood for the “Voice of the Negro” but now, the station calls itself the “Voice of the Nation.” WVON’s being available on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio digital delivery system certainly gives it a broader reach than its 1,000 watt Chicago signal can deliver. WVON prides itself on its ability to talk about local issues as well as issues germane to African Americans across the country with its lineup of largely live and local personalities. The station features Matt McGill in mornings, Perri Small in late mornings, the syndicated Rev. Al Sharpton in middays and Cliff Kelley in PM drive.
Nils Larsen Exits Tribune Broadcasting President and CEO Role. Chicagoland Radio and Media is reporting that Nils Larsen has left the Tribune Company and his latest role as president and CEO of the broadcasting division. The site states Tribune confirmed his exit but said there will be no formal announcement of the change. Larsen previously served as chief investment officer during the Sam Zell/Randy Michael’s era. It goes on to say that Larsen, who had no experience in the broadcasting field but was a financial analyst, was only put in the position overseeing the broadcasting division to watch over the finances as the company exited from bankruptcy. Larry Wert serves as president of local broadcasting in the Tribune Broadcasting division.
Financial Talker Phil Grande Signs with Genesis Communications Network. The move will allow Phil Grande to expand his “Phil’s Gang” program from the one-hour 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET live broadcast time to a new, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET time. The new deal also includes the debut of a one-hour Saturday program airing from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm. “Phil’s Gang” partner and CEO Marta Grande says, “This is an exciting opportunity to join the Genesis Communications Network. Adding a strong network like Genesis is the perfect complement to our strong affiliate lineup.” Grande says the program is displaying an expanding affiliate roster, thus indicating unprecedented growth, especially in the major markets. This new partnership will add even more strength to the GCN affiliates, providing the best source of media for host Phil Grande to expand with his coined message of “I’m going to tell you what Wall Street doesn’t want you to know!”
Cromwell Broadcasting Flips WQZQ, Nashville to Sports Using NBC Sports Radio and Content from WPRT-FM. Cromwell Broadcasting’s WQZQ, Nashville drops the gospel format and goes sports on the AM 830 frequency using both NBC Sports Radio Network programming as well as the PM drive “Sports Night” show featuring George Plaster, Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland from sister sports talker WPRT “102.5 The Game.” The same format is also airing on translator W248BM, Murfreesboro on the 97.5 frequency. Cromwell general manager Tincy Crouse states, “We are excited to be a part of the brand new 24/7 NBC Sports Radio family from the beginning and looking forward to adding another quality sports talk product into the Nashville market.” The “Sports Night” program begins airing at 3:00 pm on WQZQ but not until 4:00 pm on WPRT due to the latter’s carriage of the Dave Ramsey program.
MSNBC Continues to Add to Weekend Lineup. MSNBC has already announced the move of talk media personality Ed Schultz from his nightly “Ed Show” to a new weekend program. Now, the network adds a new show as a lead-in to Schultz’s show. MSNBC gives political analyst, former Democratic National Committee spokesperson and Clinton White House staffer Karen Finney her own Saturday and Sunday 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm program. Schultz’s new program will air from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. In a statement, MSNBC’s Phil Griffin says, “Karen’s rich background in both education policy and politics will add a unique point of view to our expanding live weekend programming.”
Odds & Sods. WIBC-FM, Indianapolis talk personality Ed Wenck leaves the PM drive program on the Emmis news/talk station to enter the sales department at the cluster and sell for sports talker WFNI “The Fan.”…..CRC Media West’s KPSF, Desert Hot Springs, California brings Marshall Gilbert aboard to host the daily “Business for Breakfast” program that airs from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. Gilbert most recently served at crosstown KWNZ, Palm Springs…..Call letter changes take place at Clear Channel’s Raleigh cluster with news/talk “Rush Radio 106.1” giving up the WRDU calls to its classic rock clustermate at 100.7. The news/talker takes the calls WTKK (most recently held by Greater Media’s former Boston talk station) and adopts the brand “More Stimulating Talk.”
North Korea Threats, ObamaCare Costs, Gun Legislation Issue, Illegal Immigration, and Sequester Effects Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/3). The heightening threats against the U.S. by Kim Jong Un; the cost and effects of the Affordable Care Act; gun legislation proposals; the recent increase in illegal border crossings; and the effects of the sequester were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Randy Michaels Speaks About Tribune Company in Newspaper Piece. Sam Zell declined to be interviewed for a four-part series in the Chicago Tribune about the parent company’s financial and legal odyssey but former Tribune CEO and radio executive Randy Michaels did contribute to the story. The piece charges that both Zell and Michaels never really understood the business (newspaper) or the culture of the place they were trying to save. But Michaels tells the Tribune he believed he had to get the newspaper’s staff to move quickly adapting to the digital age or it would be too late. Michaels says, “I cared a lot about that company, and while I recognize that there’s plenty that people might disagree with, I worked hard to keep those brands relevant in a changing world. We thought that by knocking down some of the walls, by bringing in a looser culture and getting rid of all the bureaucracy, that we had a chance to outperform. I thought it was my role to challenge everything.” The piece cites the reluctance among the Tribune staffers to accept the forced change in culture and highlights some of the resentment felt when Michaels’ former radio colleagues were brought into executive positions.
Programmer Kevin Metheny Named WJR, Detroit PD. Programming pro Kevin Metheny is the new program director at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR, Detroit. Metheny had been interim program director at Clear Channel’s country KMNB, Minneapolis “Buz’n 102.9” after leaving WGN, Chicago in November of 2010. Prior to his stint at WGN, Metheny was operations manager a Clear Channel’s Cleveland cluster. Metheny states, “I’ve long admired WJR from 90 miles across Lake Erie where I put 760 on a button the day I landed in Cleveland. ‘The Great Voice of The Great Lakes’ is a gold standard collection of impossible-to-duplicate treasures and I’m thrilled to join the Cumulus team.” Cumulus news/talk/sports corporate programmer Jim Mahanay adds, “Kevin brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the spoken-word format to the legendary WJR. We are excited to have him on the team!”
Talk Radio Network Unveils Seven New Weekend Programs. In what Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters calls a focus “on helping our affiliated stations make more money,” the company launches seven new programs this weekend, beginning with “Making America Laugh with Louie Anderson.” The comic brings “his brand of humor and warmth to the radio airwaves – covering topical news, taking listener calls, and riffing with comedic and celebrity guests.” Other programs lifting off this weekend include: “Nutzz & Knight Radio” hosted by Gordon “Lug Nutzz” Stewart and actor Christopher Knight (Peter Brady from “The Brady Bunch”). TRN calls it “a hysterical, fast-paced, and irreverent action/motorsports lifestyle and entertainment radio program, featuring interviews with personalities from NASCAR, the NHRA, and IndyCar to action sports athletes, musicians, and the entertainment industry.” “All Action Sports Radio” is dedicated to complete coverage of the action sports industry – surfing, skateboarding, BMX, Motocross, skiing, snowboarding, and more. “The Brian Oxman Show” features the former high-profile attorney for Michael Jackson and the Jackson family. “Blueprint of a Champion Radio Show” is a proprietary goal-setting and success program for student athletes brought to life through radio hosted by Neil Mason, a standout college athlete, Olympic coach and successful entrepreneur. “The Anthony Vultaggio Show” is a general issues talk program. “The Hibbard Show” is hosted by husband and wife team, Dave and Marhnelle Hibbard and is geared toward helping people in both their professional lives and in their personal lives.
Scott Sands to Program WSPD, Toledo. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment announces programmer Scott Sands will take over the program director role at news/talk WSPD, Toledo and sister rock outlet WIOT. Sands most recently was involved in launching CHR WWHX, Bloomington, Illinois with Vallie/Richards/Donovan. He also partnered with Vallie/Richards/Donovan to launch and program Main Line Broadcasting’s modern rock WCLI, Dayton “Click 101.5.” Until earlier in the fall, Brian Wilson had been serving as program director and afternoon drive host.
Cox Media Settles with Todd Schnitt; Jury Seated in Complaint Against Bubba the Love Sponge. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the defamation suit by talk show host Todd Schnitt against long-time Tampa market rival Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) continues as a jury was seated yesterday morning. However, Schnitt’s suit against Cox Media (Clem’s employer) has been settled. The paper reports that Cox Media and Schnitt reached a settlement on Friday, the terms of which were not disclosed. Cox Media Tampa market manager Keith Lawless is quoted telling the Times, “(The settlement) was a business decision, but in no way reflects that we are not in support of Bubba. It’s not such a bad thing that all our focus is now on defending Bubba.” Meanwhile, a jury of six with four alternates has been seated in Schnitt’s suit against Clem but not without some drama as the Times reports both sides initially agreed to the make-up of the jury, then Schnitt’s lawyers asked to reconsider. Immediately Clem’s attorneys asked for a mistrial but the judge declared the jury selection final and swore in the jurors.
Odds & Sods. With Compass Media Networks talk host Todd Schnitt tied up in court in his suit against Bubba the Love Sponge, he’ll be missing some time on the radio. KFAQ, Tulsa morning drive host Pat Campbell is subbing for Schnitt on his 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET program on Thursday, January 17…..Former WTKK, Boston talk host Michael Graham fills in for crosstown WRKO afternoon drive host Howie Carr on Thursday…..The big Oprah Winfrey interview with Lance Armstrong will air on Winfrey’s OWN cable channel on Thursday evening but SiriusXM will get the first crack at distributing the audio of the interview on Friday on its Oprah Channel…..Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington is hosting a special “Ask The Doctor” program featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, today at 10:00 am to help listeners learn more about the flu. The hour-long Q&A session will answer a number of concerns related to this year’s harsh flu season and more with WTOP mid-day anchors Mark Lewis and Debbie Feinstein hosting and taking calls from listeners…..Michael Patrick Shiels, host of “Michigan’s Big Show,” will broadcast his syndicated morning show live from Monte Carlo, in the principality of Monaco, on Friday, January 25. The special, international broadcast will originate from the historic Hotel de Paris next to the famed Casino de Monte-Carlo and guests on the program will include: actor Roger Moore, singer Shirley Bassey, residents of Monaco, as well as a representative of Monaco’s Royal Family.
Dial Global Sports Distributes NFL Conference Championships. The NFL’s conference championship weekend takes place on Sunday and Dial Global Sports brings affiliate stations exclusive radio play-by-play of the San Francsico 49ers vs Atlanta Falcons matchup and the Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots game. The NFC Championship game is being called by Dave Sims alongside Hall of Famer James Lofton as analyst and Tony Boselli on the sidelines. The AFC Championship game is being announced by Kevin Harlan with the play-by-play, Hall of Famer Dan Fouts as analyst and Mark Malone on the sidelines.
WGN, Chicago and NHL’s Blackhawks Agree to Five More Years. Now that NHL hockey is set to return, Tribune’s WGN, Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks have announced they will extend their deal for the station to be the exclusive market radio home of the team’s play-by-play broadcasts. The new, five-year deal will keep WGN as the team’s flagship station through the 2018-19 NHL season. WGN Radio DOS and interim general manager Jeff Hill says, “We are proud to extend our relationship with the Blackhawks and bring the excitement of hockey play-by-play to our listeners. The fast pace of the broadcasts provide an incomparable energy and we look forward to delivering the best hockey broadcasts for the next six years.”
Debt Ceiling Debate, Gun Legislation Proposals, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Controversy, ObamaCare Costs, and Lance Armstrong ‘Oprah’ Interview Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/15). The battle between the Obama Administration and Congress over raising the debt ceiling; threats by the president to use executive powers to write new gun legislation; the controversy over the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”; the costs brought about by the Affordable Care Act; and Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Tom Langmyer Exits Tribune’s WGN, Chicago After Eight Years. The vice president and general manager of Tribune’s only radio property – WGN, Chicago – left his position yesterday. Tom Langmyer didn’t comment specifically to TALKERS about the reason for the move but the change appears to have been WGN’s and not Langmyer’s choice. Langmyer joined WGN as general manager in March of 2005 after rising from program director to vice president and general manager of CBS Radio’s KMOX, St. Louis. Now, Langmyer exits after a meeting Monday with Tribune Broadcasting president and CEO Nils Larsen. Langmyer issued the following statement to his staff upon his exit: “I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated the privilege of working with you. WGN is a very special place, and I’m very lucky to have spent nearly eight years as part of it! . . . Looking forward to new challenges ahead!” Like many major market radio stations, WGN has been a turbulent place over the past eight years with four program directors during that time and four different morning drive hosts – not to mention the Sam Zell-engineered takeover of Tribune that brought former Clear Channel radio president Randy Michaels to the helm of the company and the financial trouble that put Tribune into bankruptcy. Langmyer’s departure comes as Tribune nears a long-awaited exit from bankruptcy. There is speculation Tribune will attempt to sell some of its properties and the lone radio station in its portfolio may go “on the block.” As far as management is concerned, director of sales Jeff Hill will serve as general manager in the interim. You can reach out to Tom Langmyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Talk Outlet Debuts in Reno. After eight years of work and a fair amount of resources invested, Shamrock Communications goes live with one of the four FM stations it is building for the Reno, Nevada market. KNEZ-FM “107.3 K-News” features a mostly syndicated lineup consisting of Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck, Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee, WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish, local talk show host Sean Patrick, and Talk Radio Network’s Rusty Humphries.
Michael Savage Re-Enters National Syndication Tonight. Following a protracted battle to get out of his contract with Talk Radio Network, talk host Michael Savage signed with Cumulus Media Networks to distribute his program. The new syndication effort begins tonight as Savage’s live broadcast time moves to 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET.
America’s Radio News Network Names Lori Lundin Mid-Morning Co-Anchor. Talk Radio Network-operated America’s Radio News Network adds news pro Lori Lundin to the 9:00 am to 12:00 pm ET news block as co-anchor alongside Ernie Brown. Prior to joining ARN, Lundin was anchoring mornings nationally on Fox News Radio for over four years. Before that, she was an award-winning reporter on news/talk KFBK, Sacramento. She received the Northern California Radio and Television News Directors Association award for her breaking news coverage while reporting for the station. ARN EVP of news and programming John McCaslin states, “I first heard ARN’s new co-anchor, Lori Lundin when she was anchoring top-of-the-hour and breaking news stories on Fox News Radio. ARN is extremely fortunate to have somebody of her caliber join the team – a news anchor who possesses a rare, unwavering reputation for accurate, complete, and unbiased reporting. Lori Lundin is the exception, not the norm, for members of the Washington Press Corps.”
Business Talk WZAB, Miami Host Sentenced in Pot Growing Case. Edward Woodson, who hosts the 7:00 am to 8:00 am hour on Salem Communications’ business talk WZAB, Miami “880 The Biz,” pleaded guilty to running a marijuana growing operation out of his Miami Shores, Florida home. The 50-year-old lawyer and real estate investor will serve three years’ probation, one of those under house arrest and pay some $25,000 in fines. Woodson brokers the morning drive hour for his program and is not an employee of Salem Communications, but a client.
7 Talk Radio Takeaways from Presidential Debate. Consultant Holland Cooke explains how what is shaping up to be a very close presidential contest – not to mention some hotly contested congressional races – should be played for the “tight game” it is. Holland says, “Smart talk stations promoted debate coverage by reminding that, “IF YOU’LL BE IN THE CAR TONIGHT…” Certainly anyone with the choice would have watched rather than listened. And going forward, it continues to make sense to approach campaign coverage as car radio. Assume that you’re sharing attention.” See more of Holland Cooke’s 7 takeaways here.
Calling in the Experts. Talk host Michael Castner (r) is pictured here with intelligence expert Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shaffer (l) during Shaffer’s visit to The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s studios. Shaffer appeared on “The Daily Wrap from the Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner” to discuss the controversial Benghazi attack that took the lives of four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Compass Media Networks Announces College Hoops Schedule. Beginning with the December 6 Vanderbilt vs. Xavier matchup and running through the March 9 Duke vs. UNC game, Compass Media Networks is offering 15 regular season men’s college basketball games this season. The network also has exclusive radio coverage of the Big Ten Conference tournament. Compass says it has an exclusive, multi-year agreement with Learfield Sports – one of the country’s largest broadcast rights holders with colleges and that the deal enables it to pick from among the best games to broadcast (using Compass’ own unique production and broadcast crew); “virtually all basketball games Compass is broadcasting feature top-ranked teams and compelling matchups.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann states, “Kudos to our team for selecting such incredible games. From the opening tip to the culmination of our coverage in March as the Big Ten Tournament returns to Chicago, this will be a great season.” See the entire Compass college basketball schedule here.
ESPN’s Dan Shulman Re-Ups. The voice of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” will continue with the sports media giant after agreeing to a multi-year deal. In addition to Dan Shulman’s role on “Sunday Night Baseball,” Shulman will continue with his play-by-play work for men’s college basketball as well as his ESPN Radio duties calling the post-season games and the World Series. Regarding the 2012 NSSA Sportscaster of the Year, ESPN SVP and executive producer Jed Drake states, “Dan’s one of the most talented and versatile play-by-play commentators in our industry. Dan’s voice has become unmistakable, his storytelling ability is top notch and his penchant for making his colleagues better is an incredible asset to ESPN and to sports fans.” Shulman (r) is pictured here with ESPN’s Doris Burke (l) and Dick Vitale (c).
The Final Presidential Debate, the Latest Poll Numbers, the Continuing Investigation into the Benghazi Attack, Anita Dunn ‘Conflict Issue’ and Lance Armstrong Stripped of Tour de France Medals Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/22). The buildup to the final presidential debate before the November 2 election; the latest poll numbers concerning the presidential race; the ongoing investigation of the Benghazi attack that took the lives of four Americans; former Obama Administration communications director Anita Dunn’s controversial status handling PR for firms lobbying the White House; and Lance Armstrong’s being stripped of his seven Tour de France medals were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Merlin Media Ends FM News Operations in New York and Chicago. Industry watchers are beginning the post-mortem on Merlin Media’s all-news formats at WIQI, Chicago and WEMP, New York after yesterday’s announcement by the company that it is flipping the two signals to classic hits and alternative rock, respectively. In making the announcement, Merlin president Randy Michaels stated, “It was a difficult decision to make, but after a year of minimal audience engagement, coupled with the format’s inherent expense, I felt it was time to make a change.” Perhaps the most obvious challenge to the endeavor was the fact that in both Chicago and New York, Michaels’ stations were going up against entrenched news stations in markets that didn’t seem to be crying out for more radio news, primarily because they are already being served by well-respected and well-listened-to all-news outlets. WBBM-AM/FM, Chicago and WCBS and WINS in New York were tough opponents to challenge in the radio news game – not to mention the public radio stations in both markets that have loyal audiences and dedicate resources to covering local news. The ratings for the two stations seemed to bear that out. The initial concept of trying to reach women with a news product fell flat. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told the Chicago Tribune, “When you say, ‘This is for women and here’s what we’re talking about,’ it can come across as insulting. It’s presumptuous.” Harrison also told the paper, “To reinvent the wheel, when in fact the wheel is not broken, is difficult.” He said the station’s focus on stereotypically female topics like cooking, fashion and child rearing also turned off listeners. There are reports 27 staffers are out in Chicago with a similar number in New York, leaving a host of veteran radio news people looking for their next opportunity this morning. Meanwhile, another wrinkle to this story pertains to industry rumors and speculation that Merlin had plans to eventually morph its New York and possibly Chicago all-newsers into traditional news/talkers. The recent addition of Rush Limbaugh to Philadelphia property WWIQ after his departure from CBS Radio‘s WPHT had tongues wagging about the possibility of such a move happening in New York when Cumulus Media‘s contract with Premiere Networks for Limbaugh on WABC ends – especially with Cumulus developing Mike Huckabee (currently airing on crosstown competitor WOR) as a more “civil” alternative to Limbaugh. This brings up another question: Are the Merlin moves to music just a temporary measure?
Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Draws Intense Traffic to Talkers.com; Testament to Sports Talk Format’s Popularity. The recently published Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America, has generated so much traffic to Talkers.com that – at times – navigation on the site slowed to a crawl, forcing the IT staff at Talkers.com to increase the site’s bandwidth to accommodate the visitors. This massive interest in America’s sports talk radio personalities is indicative of the format’s popularity with both consumers and from within the media industry. TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey states, “Sports talk radio is off-the-charts popular in so many markets across the country – reflecting the importance of sports in American popular culture. The interest in the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk from people working within the business is one thing, but the attention from consumers of sports talk and the rabid sports blogosphere is astounding. The passion that exists for the format, the personalities, as well as the games and athletes themselves, shows why this talk radio genre is such an effective marketing tool for businesses at the local and national level.” The 2012 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk can be found here.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO, Providence Names Craig Schwalb Program Director. Craig Schwalb comes to Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO and 99.7 (and sister WPRV) in Providence from SiriusXM where he served as senior director of talk programming. He’s also worked at WKRK, Detroit; WNEW, New York; WRBZ, Raleigh; and EZ Communications, St. Louis. He replaces Paul Giammarco who recently resigned from the station. Cumulus SVP Mike McVay states, “We are excited to have Craig join Cumulus. We want the freshest and best minds in the industry…and he is clearly among the best.” Speaking about his new opportunity, Schwalb says, “The chance to program one of the country’s legendary radio stations, complete with great talent, a great news presence and great influence in a terrific city was a no brainer for me and my family. I am looking forward to working with Providence market manager Barbara Haynes and of course John Dickey, Mike McVay, Jim Mahaney, and everyone at Cumulus.”
Recent Affiliate Adds Push America’s Radio News Network Past 300 Mark. In fact, when combined with the TRN/Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” program, the affiliate total jumps past 320 for the news programming offered by Talk Radio Network’s ARNN. The content syndicator notes that recent affiliate additions in Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Memphis; Ft. Myers/Naples; Charleston, South Carolina; and others for the five three-hour news block programs are indicative of the strong demand for quality news-oriented radio content.
Talk Host Andrew Wilkow to Host Prime Time Show on TheBlaze. The online TV network TheBlaze – a digital product of Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company – announces SiriusXM talk personality Andrew Wilkow will host a new, one-hour news and talk show to debut later this summer. TheBlaze says the exact start date and the name of the program will be announced later. TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood states, “TheBlaze is building a primetime lineup filled with both established talent and the voices of the future. Andrew Wilkow’s strong independence and ‘no sacred cows’ approach to the news, issues and events of the day are perfect fits for TheBlaze as we continue to expand our programming.” TheBlaze notes it already produces three hours of prime time shows including “the comedy news show ‘The B.S. of A,’ the reality show ‘Independence USA’ and other programming throughout the day led by Glenn’s show, the news show ‘Real News’ and the kid’s show ‘Liberty TreeHouse.’ The network airs over 35 hours of original programming per week and will soon provide video content on a 24/7 basis.”
Talk Icon Larry King’s Internet TV Show Debuts. Larry King’s new internet TV show – a 30–minute news and interview show – debuted last night with Seth McFarlane as his first guest. The program is a joint venture between Hulu and Ora TV. Ora TV is a digital venture being funded by Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim Helu. In a statement about the new program, Larry King says, “I have always been driven to innovate, from my time on radio, to the first call-in show on national television to being an early adopter of online columns and Twitter…I love being able to interact directly with audiences and digital TV allows me to do this in new and powerful ways.” This evening, King’s guest will be Meghan McCain with actor Matthew McConaughey on tap for Thursday’s show.
2012 Presidential Campaign, Summer Heatwave/Crops Threatened, Negative Economic Forecasts, Global Debt Crisis and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/17). The 2012 presidential campaign; the nationwide summer heat wave and the threat to the corn and grains crops; negative economic forecasts; the global debt crisis and the financial markets activities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Merlin Media’s Philly FM Talker Debuts Today. News/talk outlet WWIQ-FM, Philadelphia (licensed to Camden, New Jersey) debuts its morning show today co-hosted by market TV news personality Larry Mendte (pictured here). Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning host (and Philly native) Al Gardner is co-hosting the program with Mendte. Over the weekend Mendte posted a YouTube video promoting the new station being operated by the innovative Randy Michaels and his Merlin Media. In it, Mendte asks Philadelphians to submit suggestions for the new station (ideas used could win the people who submit them Phillies tickets!). He also suggests the current news outlets – other stations, the newspapers and TV are outdated and/or in trouble financially and he believes WWIQ-FM will give listeners what they need. In the video, Mendte is clearly ribbing CBS Radio’s all-news KYW even though he doesn’t mention the company or station by name. See Mendte’s video here. WWIQ-FM has been stunting with wall-to-wall Sean Hannity for several weeks and today it’s believed the station will debut with the morning show, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. Rush Limbaugh is expected to move over from WPHT soon. Other programming has yet to be announced.
FCC Says “No Go” to Liberty Media’s SiriusXM Takeover Bid. Liberty Media had petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM after supplying $530 million to the satcaster in 2009 to help it avoid bankruptcy. But, as SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin said recently, “Forty percent is not the new 50 percent.” Liberty Media owns 40% of SiriusXM as a result of the 2009 deal but the FCC denied its request saying that Liberty’s filing lacked details and rejected its claim for control. During the recent SiriusXM Q1 conference call with analysts, Mel Karmazin stated the company’s relationship with Liberty was not “combative.” Liberty Media has five of the 13 seats on the SiriusXM board of directors.
WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas Names Ben Ferguson Late Morning Host. Cumulus Media’s WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas cut ties with market legend Mark Davis after the two sides were unable to agree on a new contract. Now, Memphis-based talk host Ben Ferguson is named permanent host of the 9:00 am to 11:00 am program. Ferguson had been filling in during the time slot since Davis left the air. He hosts the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm program at Cumulus Media’s WKIM-FM, Memphis and will continue to host that show as well. Additionally, Ferguson is the host of his own nationally syndicated weekend program that is heard on both WKIM-FM and WBAP-AM/FM. Ben Ferguson was the first recipient of the Young American Broadcasters‘ scholarship award given at the TALKERS New Media Seminar several years ago. Ferguson won the award while still in college and, due in part to winning the award, fulfilled his dream of becoming a working radio talk show host.
St. Louis Personality John Carney Joins News/Talk KTRS for Nights. Gateway City radio personality John Carney – son of the late KMOX, St. Louis legend Jack Carney – joins CH Holdings’ news/talk KTRS to host the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight program beginning June 4. Carney most recently was a jock at CBS Radio’s crosstown classic hits KEZK-FM – Fresh 102.5 – until he exited that station in April. He also worked at KMOX for 11 years prior to KEZK-FM. Carney’s addition to KTRS comes as the station shuffles its programming. Chicago-based talk host Steve Cochran had been hosting two programs on KTRS – 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm – in addition to his afternoon drive show at WIND, Chicago. Cochran will continue to host the late morning show. John Hadley’s sports talk show slides down to the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot and Martin Kilcoyne takes over the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show formerly hosted by JC Corcoran.
KTAR-FM, Phoenix and News Director Part Company. Bonneville International and news director Adam Thomas part ways after less than a year together. Thomas joined KTAR-FM in June of 2011 – Thomas moving west from Minneapolis where he’s worked at CBS Radio’s WCCO. Thomas had also worked for Bonneville at KSL, Salt Lake City prior to joining WCCO. Details on Thomas’ exit from KTAR-FM are few but it appears there’s a news director position to be filled in Phoenix.
WTDY, Madison Promotes Amy Barrilleaux. Mid-West Family Stations announces WTDY-AM/FM, Madison afternoon anchor and “Everything@Five” host Amy Barrilleaux is promoted to news director for the station. WTDY-AM/FM program director Rex Charger says, “I am pleased to announce Amy Barrilleaux as WTDY news director. Amy has been instrumental in helping grow our news product and brand and I look forward to her continued leadership in the newsroom. Amy will continue to anchor afternoon newscasts and host ‘Everything@Five.’”
Media Personality Jack Rice Hosts Weekend Talk Program in Twin Cities. Talk media personality Jack Rice – who left the daily talk radio business more than two years ago – returns to a regular talk program with his Sunday morning show on KTNF, Minneapolis airing from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. Jack Rice is a former CIA agent, a practicing attorney in Minneapolis and is regularly seen on such news/talk media outlets as MSNBC, CNN and Al Jazeera offering expert analysis on issues, especially those surrounding foreign intelligence and terrorism. He previously hosted daily talk shows on WCCO, Minneapolis and KOGO, San Diego. His investigative style of talk radio, his travels to the world’s hot spots and willingness to put himself in harm’s way to get the story earned him the Freedom of Speech Award from TALKERS magazine in 2009. Of his new program, Rice states, “I’m very excited to be back on the air on a regular basis. This business gets in your blood and once you’re in, you’re in. And while I recognize the realities of the business, nothing allows for a deep connection with an audience like radio.” Rice tells TALKERS he is exploring the possibility of developing a national program dedicated to international events including terrorism, the economic collapse in Europe, the Chinese economic juggernaut, the drug wars in Mexico and more. He says his experience as a former CIA officer and international journalist give him a unique experience and take on such events.
Dave Ramsey Live in Grand Rapids. Nationally syndicated personal finance talk sensation Dave Ramsey filled the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Saturday, May 5 for his “Total Money Makeover Live” event there – more than 8,000 fans attended. Ramsey is heard on news/talk WOOD-AM/FM and Clear Channel Grand Rapids market manager Tim Feagan says, “Having another sellout with Dave is the only way I know of for a news/talk station to touch thousands of our core listeners. Music stations can sometimes do it by owning a concert, but when it comes to the talk format Dave is it!” Pictured here during Ramsey’s visit to Grand Rapids are (from l-r): Feagan, Ramsey, WOOD general sales manager Henry Capogna, and WOOD program director Phil Tower.
The FCC and You. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq. presents the first in a series of articles as an abridgement of a forthcoming e-book detailing the crucial, regulatory information of which every license holder and radio station management employee must be aware. Informal surveys of radio station managers indicate that an alarming number of them are dangerously under-informed about the FCC regulations that pertain to them and their stations. TALKERS editors urge managers to take the time to read this free abridgement of the first of seven installments and share it with their management teams. Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon. In today’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the license renewal process. Read more here.
The Rush Limbaugh Fallout for All Talk Radio Is Advertiser Nervousness. Almost a week into the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy the consumer media, politicians and even the media trades to some extent are still awash in writing about Limbaugh’s mistake, the coarsening of our media political discourse and even allegations that conservative talk radio, apparently, hates women. But TALKERS is hearing reports from ad rep firms that are more alarming – especially in these already shaky economic times. That is that major advertisers are issuing yet another round of “no controversial programming” dictates. This is not a new problem for talk radio and the recent Limbaugh case is likely only to add fuel to a fire that’s been simmering for the past 20 years. While no laws were broken by Rush Limbaugh, advertisers who fear backlash from activists, parent’s organizations and other groups – even though talk hosts with loyal followings that are likely to buy their products or services help sell those products or services very successfully – don’t want to risk bad PR, protester harassment or outright boycotts from being associated with a “controversial” talk media figure. They reason that there may be many more customers of theirs whom they don’t want to alienate who don’t listen to “controversial” talk radio, so they shy away from the genre altogether. The bigger challenge facing talk radio right now is not defending its programming, but selling it in this turbulent climate.
Ohio State Representative Circulates Petition to Remove Rush Limbaugh from Station. Democratic State Representative Robert F. Hagen is circulating a petition around the Youngstown, Ohio area to submit to station WKBN, Youngstown asking that Premiere Networks talk host Rush Limbaugh be removed from the station’s lineup, according to Vindy.com. The online petition seeks 2,000 signatures before being presented to WKBN management and is less than 200 away from that mark as of this morning. While many politicians at the state and national level have weighed in on the Limbaugh controversy, Hagen is the first TALKERS is aware of who is using his status as a politician to take action in attempting to coerce an affiliate station into making a programming decision.
Cumulus Birmingham and Paul Finebaum Have March 30 Court Date. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has scheduled a March 30 hearing to discuss WJOX-FM, Birmingham sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s motion to dismiss counterclaims by Cumulus against him, reports the Birmingham Business Journal. Finebaum and Cumulus are suing each other for breach of contract. Cumulus’ countersuit claims Finebaum – in violation of his contract – entered into negotiations with a competing broadcasting company and shared proprietary information with said organization. Also, earlier this week Cumulus attorneys filed a motion to block Finebaum’s subpoena of Cumulus for testimony in the suit by arguing that it did not own the Citadel stations when the dispute began.
Merlin Media Closes on WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey. Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media closes on the $22.5 million purchase of WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey from Harold Camping’s Family Stations. It is widely believed that Merlin will bring some spoken-word format to the Philadelphia market – probably an all-news outlet in the image of its New York and Chicago stations. Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host – and Philadelphia native – Al Gardner is reported to be programming the new venture.
KNBR, San Francisco Renews Play-by-Play Deal with the Giants Through 2018. San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer and Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey appeared on the “Murph & Mac Show” on sports KNBR, San Francisco yesterday to announce a new, seven-year contract to keep Giants baseball on the station. Dickey stated, “On behalf of our loyal listeners and valued clients, we are pleased to announce a new seven year partnership with one of the greatest brands in all of sports. We are excited to continue KNBR’s 34-year run with the Giants with the addition of compelling new content designed to bring the fans even closer to the action both on and off the field with exclusive reporting.” The deal includes the pre-game “Kruk & Kuip Show,” the “Post-Game Wrap” and other Giants content throughout the year.
SiriusXM Brings Sports Journalist John Feinstein to Mad Dog Radio Channel. Satellite broadcaster SiriusXM announces a new program co-hosted by renowned sports journalist John Feinstein and Bruce Murray called “Beyond the Brink” to air daily from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the Mad Dog Radio channel. Murray has been hosting the midday show at Mad Dog Radio solo. Feinstein is author of best-sellers A Season on the Brink – detailing a season with Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers – and A Good Walk Spoiled – chronicling a year on the PGA golf tour. The program debuts Thursday live from the ACC basketball tournament. SiriusXM states the two will cover the spectrum of sports on their show, interviewing high-profile guests, debating topics and talking with callers nationwide about the headline stories of the day. Feinstein says of the new program, “I’ve always enjoyed doing radio because it gives you a chance to talk in detail on a lot of different topics and the chance to do it on SiriusXM on a daily basis with an old friend like Bruce is something I’m really looking forward to taking on. I’m really grateful to SiriusXM for giving me this opportunity and I think this is going to be a lot of fun.”
Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh Controversy, Super Tuesday GOP Primaries, U.S.-Israel Relations/Iran Threat, Ponzi Scheme Verdict, and Hacker Ring Busted Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/6). The ongoing aftermath of the Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh controversy; the Super Tuesday GOP primaries; the meeting between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear weapons threat; the verdict in the world’s largest Ponzi scheme trial; and a global hacker ring busted with help from its leader were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Chicago Media Community Mourns Death of John Madigan. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder writes an excellent piece on John Madigan’s place in Chicago media. Read it here. Madigan worked in newspapers, radio and TV and spent part of his career at WBBM, Chicago as political editor. He was part of the team that led the station’s transition to all-news. He passed away recently in Florida at age 94 after complications from a stroke.
On the Road in Long Beach. KLAC, Los Angeles-based Fox Sports Radio Network hosts Matt “Money” Smith (l) and Petros Papadakis (r) are pictured here at their “Just Because It’s Friday” remote broadcast from Cirivello’s Sports Stop in Long Beach, California. The event drew nearly 500 listeners and featured special guests including Long Beach State head basketball coach Dan Monson, college basketball analyst/former college basketball coach Bruce Pearl plus Petros’ father and former USC linebacker John Papadakis. Giveaways included the first-ever “Petros and Money” t-shirt, Matt Kemp baseball bats, signed Magic Johnson and Howie Kendrick photos, a Diamondback bike, and an all-inclusive trip to Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training in Glendale, Arizona. The broadcast was backed by local band Brewfish pictured behind the hosts.
Big Promotion for John Hogan; Exec Moves Up to Chairman and CEO for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Clear Channel Media Holdings continues to express its confidence in the man who was promoted from COO to president and CEO of Clear Channel Radio in 2002 after the departure of Randy Michaels. In announcing John Hogan’s promotion and contract extension through 2015, the company touts Hogan’s record of developing the creative and successful integration of sales, promotional and programming initiatives across multiple platforms. Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman states, “Under John’s strong leadership and vision, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has integrated the company’s assets so that it is today the leading media and entertainment company in the U.S. with a greater reach than any other radio or television outlet. It provides a one-of-a-kind national platform for partners in addition to the powerful local activation market by market and demo by demo.” Hogan says, “I am pleased and honored to be named to this position, which is a clear endorsement of the soundness of our strategy, the value of our assets, and the depth of the incredible team we are building here. I appreciate the energy and vision that Bob Pittman has brought to the organization and look forward to pursuing with Bob the vision we share as we continue to push the boundaries of the definition of entertainment, giving our audience what they want now and in the future.”
Bill Thomas Out as Market Manager at Cumulus Birmingham. Cumulus Media Group regional manager John Walker is set to oversee the Birmingham cluster in addition to his responsibility for the Huntsville stations after the departure of Bill Thomas. There’s no reason to believe that the ongoing legal battle between WJOX-FM, Birmingham personality Paul Finebaum and the company is the sole reason for Thomas’ exit but the possibility exists that Thomas’ role in how the situation was handled could have been a factor. Remember that Finebaum claims he was strong-armed by Thomas into signing a contract amendment that was less beneficial to him. That set the legal wheels in motion that includes Cumulus’ recent decision to countersue Finebaum claiming he violated his contract by engaging in negotiations with a competitor and sharing confidential company information.
Journal Broadcast Group Reports Positive Q4; Slight Uptick for 2011. On the strength of increasing automotive in the fourth quarter of 2011, Journal Broadcast Group reports a revenue increase of 2.3%. For the entire year, Journal’s revenue rose 1.6% on $70.4 million compared to 2010. While those numbers aren’t staggering, they beat the negative reports that had become so common over the past few years. Interestingly, unlike many other radio groups, Journal notes the fourth quarter of 2011 was its best quarter.
Phil Hendrie Ends Local KFI, Los Angles Saturday Show; Busy TV Schedule Cited. Los Angeles-based radio and television talent Phil Hendrie tweets to fans he is ending his KFI, Los Angeles-only Saturday evening show after this weekend’s performance due to the increasing amount of TV work he’s getting combined with his nightly radio show syndicated by Talk Radio Network. Radio trade AllAccess.com reports it has confirmed the news. Hendrie is doing voice work on Fox Television’s “Napoleon Dynamite” and has upcoming work on Fox’s “New Girl.” Hendrie thanks KFI program director Robin Bertolucci and the KFI staff for their help with the weekend show.
CBS Radio’s WQYK, Tampa Changes Midday Show. “The King David Show” featuring Toby David and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King is off the air at CBS Radio’s 1010 Sports (WQYK), according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Tom Jones. Jones reports that WQYK assistant program director Mike Pepper says the station is airing Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brando in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot for now but would like to fill that hole with a local show. The station needs time to find the right show. He didn’t rule out either David or King being part of the station in the future. Toby David tells the paper, “I appreciated the time I worked with Shaun and have a great amount of respect for him. I also enjoyed working at CBS Radio and have nothing but the utmost respect for those people and I hope to land on my feet locally.”
CCME Announces National Imaging Team. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment organizes the imaging of its radio formats under the Kelly Doherty-led National Programming Platforms group. The function of this reorganization is to create 15 format-specific imaging coordinator positions and those experts will “produce and distribute compelling and diverse on-air promotional audio spots for Clear Channel’s National Programming initiatives, including format-specific creative efforts across iHeartRadio, Artist Integration Programs and large-scale contests and events including the iHeartRadio Music Festival.” Doherty states, “This team includes the top producers in each format. The talent, expertise and ingenuity that this new Imaging Team brings together is unmatched and I am excited to lead such a top-notch group.” Scott Stanley is named news/talk imaging coordinator and Bob Schmidt is the sports imaging coordinator.
Thaddeus Matthews Off the Air at WPLX, Memphis After Court Ruling. The case involving Memphis talk host Thaddeus Matthews and WPLX, Memphis owner William Pollack took another turn recently after Chancellor Arnold Goldin of the Shelby County Court denied an injunction Matthews had sought to continue broadcasting his program on WPLX. Matthews made national news with a YouTube broadcast video of his on-air encounter with Republican congressional candidate Charlotte Bergmann which ended with Matthews refusing to shake Bergmann’s hand because he didn’t want her “whiteness” to rub off on him. According to The Commercial Appeal, last week’s court ruling revolved around a dispute over money owed by Matthews to Pollack. Matthews leases the time from Pollack and the latter claims he’s owed in excess of $85,000 in fees. Matthews disputes that figure and vows to continue his legal battle while broadcasting his program on the internet.
Rob Otto Joins WCAR, Livonia, Michigan in Sports Director Role. Detroit sports media pro Rob Otto joins Birach Broadcasting’s WCAR, Livonia (west of Detroit) as sports director for the reformatted station positioned as ESPN 1090, according to Michiguide.com. The site reports Otto “will also be tasked with providing local, on-air sports updates for WCAR and helping the station establish local programming and marketing. He’ll also be moving his sports-related blog from MLive.com to ESPN 1090’s website at espn1090.com.” Otto has worked in the Detroit market at WXYT-FM, WWJ, WDFN and WHMI-FM.
Opinion: Talk Host Phil Valentine Says Prohibition of Ethnic References Reeks of Controlling the Language. Nashville-based Dial Global syndicated talk host Phil Valentine responds to TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer’s column (When it Comes to Ethnic Slurs, Just Don’t Go There, 2/23/12) that in this age of political correctness, what is said or written in the media – the ESPN/Jeremy Lin case is a great example – doesn’t have to actually be offensive, it just has to sound that way. Read Phil’s column here.
GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 20 – 24. The GOP primary race and the 2012 presidential campaign tied atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week. The primary and the issues surrounding the campaign that leads up to the November 5 general election were #1 for the fourth consecutive week. Landing at #2 was Iran’s nuclear ambitions. At #3 was rising gas prices at U.S. pumps and at #4 was the protest in Afghanistan over the desecration of Korans at a U.S. base. The Talkers TenTM chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio is published each week at Talkers.com and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. See the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup. Dial Global’s “Overnight America with Jon Grayson” picks up KFWB, Los Angeles for the 10:00 pm to 3:00 am slot…..Cumulus Media Networks’ “Red Eye Radio” is added for the overnight slot at WPRO, Providence…..“Motley Fool Money” with host Chris Hill adds KPQ, Wenatchee, Washington and KPSF, Palm Springs – Money Radio 1200.
Herman Cain Returns to WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta – in Commentator Role. Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and recent GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain returns to Cox Media Group’s news/talk giant WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta – the station at which he was hosting the evening program before leaving to run for office. Cain isn’t back on evenings. Program director Pete Spriggs tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution Cain’s busy schedule won’t allow him to return to that slot. Instead, Cain is filing a daily two-minute commentary that airs twice daily – 8:45 am during Neal Boortz’s show and at 6:45 pm during Erick Erickson’s program. He’ll also join Boortz live at 10:35 am every Monday and Friday. Although it is clear that Cain is still heavily involved in the thick of this year’s presidential race as an event speaker and potential campaigner, his significantly heightened status as a political media celebrity in the aftermath of his formidable candidacy increases his stock as a potential radio and television talk show host. Industry speculation grows about his next moves as a media personality after the dust of the election settles.
Geraldo to Do Local Show on KABC, Los Angeles. Since it was announced that Geraldo Rivera was taking over the late-morning show at Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York there’s been speculation that he would also be imported west to the company’s KABC, Los Angeles. Now Geraldo tells the Los Angeles Times’ Steve Carney that not only will he be hosting the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show on KABC beginning January 30, but he’ll be doing a separate, live show for Southern California. Geraldo tells Carney that he represents the larger middle portion of America that isn’t necessarily being heard from on talk radio today, “That agenda is extremely partisan. It’s carving up the country, it has a strong racial undertone, and I don’t think that’s good for anybody.” As a result of the move, KABC’s John Phillips’ program will be heard from 9:00 am to 10:00 am.
Merlin Media-CBS Radio Update. The all-news war in New York is making the consumer press as the New York Daily News’ John Hinckley writes about the cease-and-desist Merlin Media received from CBS Radio lawyers for using a version of the famous WINS, New York slogan “Give us 22 minutes; we’ll give you the world” to promote its all-news “FM News 101.9 (WEMP-FM). As we reported yesterday, Merlin has been engaging in a bit of old-fashioned radio battle strategy by twisting the WINS slogan to “Give us 10 minutes, we’ll give you the world” for WEMP-FM. Lawyers for CBS say the tactic has no purpose but to get publicity and say it’s trademark infringement. That’s one way of looking at it. Though the strategy could be derided by some as an old-school radio technique that won’t work in the modern era, others will argue that Merlin’s point is a good one; it underscores the perception that most people don’t have 22 minutes these days and FM News 101.9 is current and hip by doing it in 10 minutes. Merlin certainly has an uphill battle ahead of it in terms of catching the New York all-newsers in the ratings. It’s possible that in order to grab some of the audience share of the news-consuming public, Merlin is going to have to get attention by doing more than just putting out a good product. Another way of looking at it, however, is that if Merlin put out a good product, the Randy Michaels-led company wouldn’t have to resort to the kind of competitive stunting popularized during the heyday of top 40 in the 1960s and 1970s.
Todd Schnitt to End MJ Kelli AM Show; Focus on Talk Show. For years now, Todd Schnitt has been doing double duty – morning drive on Clear Channel’s CHR WFLZ-FM, Tampa and PM drive on CC’s WFLA from which he’s syndicated nationally by Compass Media Networks. Now he will focus on the talk show aspect of his career as he shuts down his MJ Kelli morning show persona with his last broadcast on WFLZ-FM on February 17.
Clear Channel Promotes Two Executives. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment bumps Hartley Adkins from his SVP of operations for the Southeast market to executive vice president of operations for its Mid-Major markets. Taking over for Adkins in the SVP of operations for the Southeast market is John Rohm who moves up from the market manager post for the Philadelphia market. Although not mentioned in the press release, Adkins takes over for Mark Kopelman who exits the company with no comment from corporate. Both Adkins and Rohm will report to John Hogan who states, “With their proven performance, leadership and exerience, Hartley and John will help ensure our local markets operate effectively and efficiently and provide our company with real opportunities for growth.” Additionally, Brad Hardin, senior vice president of programming, now serves as programming partner to Adkins in the Mid-Major markets; and Jon Zellner, senior vice president of programming, now serves as programming partner to Tom McConnell, senior vice president of operations for the Northeast regional markets.
WWNC, Asheville Names Pete Kaliner PM Drive Host. The former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte evening host lands the afternoon drive program at Clear Channel’s Asheville, North Carolina news/talk outlet. Pete Kaliner hosted the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show at WBT for two years until the show was eliminated for budgetary reasons in March of last year. WWNC program director Brian Hall says, “Pete filled in for us last summer and I was blown away by his dedication to show prep and how the listeners engaged with him on the air. After talking with great candidates from all over the country and other professionals in the industry, it was clear that Pete was the perfect fit for this position and for the community of Western North Carolina.”
Former Florida Radio and TV Financial Host Gets Four Years in Prison for Defrauding Investors. U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley sentenced Anthony F. Cutaia to 51 months in prison for running a ponzi scheme in which he misappropriated some $1.5 million that affected between 10 and 50 investors (court documents don’t specify the number of victims). Cutaia operated a commercial real estate business and hosted a program on Beasley Broadcasting’s WSBR, Boca Raton as well as a television show on the PAX TV network. Cutaia was charged with nine counts of mail fraud in June of 2011 and pleaded guilty to one charge in hopes of getting a lighter sentence but the judge gave him a longer sentence than federal prosecutors recommended.
South Carolina Primary/ 2012 Presidential Race Most-Talked-About Story on News/Talk Radio During Week of January 16-20. Landing atop the Talkers TenTM this week is the South Carolina GOP primary election and the 2012 presidential race. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio stations across America based on ongoing research from TALKERS and is published at Talkers.com every Friday. Coming in at #2 this week is the denial of the permit for the Keystone XL Canada to Texas oil pipeline. At #3 is the internet anti-piracy bills and the associated Wikipedia blackout and at #4 is the Euro Zone jitters and rising gas prices. View the entire Talkers TenTM chart here.
“Troublemaker” Visits Florida. Christine O’Donnell, former U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware and author of the best-seller Troublemaker (St. Martin’s Press 2011), kicked off her Florida speaking tour by sitting in on “The President’s Speakers Series” at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach broadcast live on WNDB, Daytona Beach and hosted by talk host Marc Bernier. O’Donnell says she is reaching out to college students to engage them in the political process for the upcoming election. This event was the 72nd in the series started by Marc Bernier in the mid-1990s. Pictured here during the event are Bernier (l) and O’Donnell (r).
Clear Channel Drops the “Radio”; Becomes Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Clear Channel Media Holdings chief executive officer Bob Pittman announces the “radio division” of the company is changing its name to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to reflect its mission to deliver content via means beyond just terrestrial radio. “Over the last few years, I’ve watched as Clear Channel Radio has pushed beyond the traditional boundaries of radio to reach more Americans every month than any other media company through an unmatched combination of broadcast, satellite, online and mobile assets,” states Pittman. “Under John Hogan’s continued strong leadership, the new Clear Channel Media and Entertainment brand underscores that we are taking our brands and content wherever our listeners expect to find it. And, in the future, as new places emerge where people want to access our powerful brands and content, we’ll be there, too.” At the center of Clear Channel’s initiatives to move beyond radio station transmitters is the iHeartRadio website and app that delivers audio from its O&O radio stations of all formats, offers user-customizable stations plus audio from Cumulus Media, and soon, Greater Media radio stations as well. The company is clearly putting forth the iHeartRadio internet site and mobile and tablet application as its primary weapon in the battle for ears being waged by Pandora, Slacker, Spotify and others. John Hogan states, “Radio is both our history and the foundation upon which we will grow our company moving forward. That will not change. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment represents our evolution as we prove our relationship with our listeners is so much more than just our transmitters and towers. We will continue to serve our increasingly diverse audiences and local communities with the best content – music, news, emergency information, and public service – wherever they expect it, while supporting advertisers, strategic partners, music labels and artists with creative, multi-platform marketing opportunities that reach, activate and engage target audiences like no one else.” It clearly appears that this move on the part of the largest owner/operator of terrestrial radio station licenses crystallizes the reality of TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison‘s forecast originally published in 2007 that the entity known as the “radio station” would evolve into something more aptly described as the “media station” — a multi-tiered broadcasting entity the ranks of which are comprised of both licensed and unlicensed outlets operating on the even playing field of the internet. According to Harrison, “Hogan’s statement that ‘radio is both our history and the foundation upon which we will grow our company moving forward’ is quite revealing and says it all… basically that a ‘radio’ station that defines itself as being just that — a ‘radio’ station – is behind the times. An audio-only media brand in this new era is as incomplete as a newspaper without photographs or a motion picture without sound and as limited in its accessibility as the old yellow pages.” Harrison goes on to comment, “Stick owners should beware of this inevitable development. Although strategic use of the internet and digital distribution expands the radio station’s brand and evolves it into the media station, it also serves as a catalyst for non-licensed media stations to share the same space and compete for the same audience while unencumbered by the debt of stick ownership.”
Boston Herald Blasts Entercom Chief David Field’s Memo. This is one of those motivational missives that some will think is right on and others will shake their heads at, but the Boston Herald’s Jessica Heslam pulls no punches in criticizing a memo from Entercom CEO David Field in which he uses his recent African safari vacation as a backdrop and the animal kingdom as a metaphor for the working world. Field writes about the need for all employees – including himself – to bring their “A-game” to work because the tough business world is a survival-of-the-fittest place just like the African savannah he witnessed on his trip. He alludes to American society as pampering us and not always holding us accountable as the wild of Africa does to its inhabitants. He beckons the reader to strive for greatness at every moment of each workday generously stating his belief in everyone’s “untapped potential.” Critics of this memo will point to Field’s elitist use of a transcontinental holiday as the basis of his memo, an unwitting comparison of his employees as animals, the assumption that they are not “giving it their all” in the first place, and that they are quick to blame others for any lack of success. Some might go so far as to point to Field’s naiveté in needing to witness the wild close up to be reminded that life and the business world are both challenging and unforgiving. Still, supporters of Field’s action will state that he’s only trying to point out that harnessing our talents and pushing ourselves to succeed is what makes great companies great, and that whining about tough circumstances will achieve nothing. Heslam’s criticism could also cause managers and employees alike to debate – either internally or out loud – whether this type of motivational memo is truly effective. How do the majority of employees see it? As a thought-provoking pep talk…or an insulting memo from “corporate?” See Heslam’s story and the entire memo here.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to Impact Talk Radio Conversation. Most Federal holidays cause slow-downs in the normal processes of running live radio in the form of fill-in hosts, repeats and a diversion from the serious issues of the day. However, MLK, Jr. Day has a history of doing just the opposite. Although Federal agencies and a number of private business offices close today – it is even more than “business as usual” on the radio talk show airwaves of America as the holiday inspires discussion of a wide variety of compelling issues including civil rights, social justice, race relations and more.
Former New Jersey 101.5 Host Tommy G Launches Internet Show. As a growing number of terrestrial broadcasters who find themselves off the air are doing, former WKXW-FM, Trenton overnight host Tommy G (Tom Gordon) is taking his talk host talents to the internet. Gordon says he wants to cut out the “middleman” and bring his programming straight to the listener digitally. In an exclusive piece for TALKERS magazine, Tommy G explains his mission and how he’s making it happen. Read it here.
Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels Beats OVI Rap. Media executive Randy Michaels pled guilty to driving improperly in a construction zone and the prosecutor agreed to drop the charge of operating a vehicle while impaired after Michaels’ attorney Steve Adams argued successfully that the officer had filled out the citation incorrectly and failed to fix it within the allotted 90-day period. Michaels was charged in October of 2011 after Middletown, Ohio police found his car disabled in a road construction area during a rain storm. The officer recorded that Michaels smelled of alcohol and failed roadside sobriety tests although he declined to take a breathalyzer.
Talk Radio Network Names Dave Nourie National Affiliate Consultant. TRN CEO Mark Masters makes the announcement that Dave Nourie is joining his team to grow Talk Radio Network programs that include Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Rusty Humphries, Jerry Doyle, Phil Hendrie, Mancow and the America’s Radio News Network news blocks. “We are all very happy to have Dave join the Talk Radio Network family of companies, with the incredible growth of the news network, we needed someone with his skills and expertise to help serve our ever-growing list of affiliated stations.”
KOA, Denver Talk Host Dave Logan Loses High School Football Coaching Job. The former Denver Broncos great and current Broncos radio play-by-play voice and PM drive host on Clear Channel’s KOA, Denver is out of his football coaching gig after independent Catholic high school Mullen High chose to take a different road. It wasn’t for lack of victories or Dave Logan’s popularity with the students and team – in nine years at Mullen, Logan’s teams won four state titles with a record of 110 – 12. School CEO Ryan Clement tells the Denver Post that the issue was Logan’s celebrity combined with the school’s desire to have a full-time staff member serve as coach. Logan worked the gig with no pay. But the Post reports Clement said Logan “had become the face of the school and that’s not what the new administration wanted, especially from someone who didn’t work at the school full time.” Some students protested the firing and the paper notes Logan may surface to coach somewhere else as other schools are already seeking to talk to him about coaching.
Newsman Kevin Patrick Leaves Chicago for Washington, DC. Chicago Radio and Media is reporting that Kevin Patrick is leaving Merlin Media’s WIQI-FM, Chicago – FM News 101.1 – to take a position with CBS Radio’s new all-news outlet WNEW-FM, Washington. Though the move hasn’t been officially announced by either CBS or Merlin, the site reports WIQI-FM overnight anchor Mike Wilson will move onto the daytime schedule to fill Patrick’s role. It’s unclear exactly what Patrick’s new position at WNEW-FM will be.
Arizona Broadcasters Hold Two-Hour Tribute to Bill Heywood. A little more than two weeks after Phoenix-market radio legend Bill Heywood and his wife Susan took their lives in a Scottsdale hotel room, numerous Arizona broadcasters who knew and worked with Heywood took part in a two-hour tribute broadcast to him on Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix. Hosts and jocks taking part in the Friday afternoon broadcast included: Pat McMahon, Preston Westmoreland, Bruce Kelly, Tim Hattrick, Jeff Scott and Michael Dixon. Susan Heywood had been ill for some time and friends say the couple had been beset by financial troubles. A memorial service was held on Saturday for Heywood and his wife.
By Mona Lipschitz
Happy New Year everyone…..Finally after 21 years of gathering and writing “NewsNotes” for the print version of TALKERS magazine, the powers here finally recognized that I am intimately aware of what’s happening in this industry and know how it works. So, they gave me my own column here at Talkers.com (in lieu of a raise) and said, “Knock yourself out, Mona.” I plan to take them up on it and promise to make the most of this opportunity. Look out Talkers Nation! The Lip is loose! Okay, enough with the posturing crap. Let’s go…..There are huge lessons to be learned from the “Walter Sabo Exits Merlin” saga. An idea guy like Walter should not be “operating” anything. His job title at Merlin was COO — chief OPERATING officer. Wrong role! Walter should be giving ideas, advice, encouragement and inspiration to people who do the operating and the executing. As a consultant, he’s done that quite well for more than two decades. I am glad he’s back where he belongs and where the industry needs him. I’ve never met Randy Michaels but my impression from tons of first-hand sources is he isn’t that much better suited to be an operator than Walter. Look at his track record. Seems to me Randy is kind of an idea guy himself. Maybe the best idea he had was to hire Walter and tap into some of his ideas. But I question if Randy and Walter were the right guys to pull it off with the people in the programming trenches — the PDs, anchors, producers, writers — and actually produce an on-air product worthy of the concept. Before Randy capitulated to the instantaneous naysayers and nervous investors (blowing Walter out of the loop in the process) and turned Merlin’s New York and Chicago properties into half-baked versions of their CBS all-news competition, he and Walter were on the right path regardless of the ridicule and poor numbers faced in the early going. Some of the greatest human success stories begin by facing these obstacles. The ridicule was deserved because they rushed the format onto the air before it was ready. The poor numbers followed because the product wasn’t quite right and it takes time to get good numbers even when the product is good in spoken word. Heck – this ain’t disco in the late eighties! The idea of targeting an all-news station to women 25-54 on FM is brilliant and extremely do-able if done properly. The FM dial is a great place to pick up women! They are already there listening to many of the music stations (as well as public radio) and of course today’s working woman is interested in the “news.” You just can’t cater to the stereotypes of what women want – obvious superficial stuff like shopping, fashion, parenting and gossip. True, these are things of interest to women. But you must go much deeper to actually get them to change their habits and flock to a new address on the radio dial — especially within the space of one or two rating periods. Women want to feel emotionally connected to like-minded souls. They want to feel that they are not alone. They want to feel that they are part of a community and enjoy the comfort and camaraderie of other women who are sharing the same experiences, joys and fears. THAT’S how you get women to listen to talk on the radio. With all due respect to Randy and Walter, they don’t strike me as the kind of guys whose minds work in that direction. Forgive the cliché, but we seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater way too much in this business when great ideas fail to be executed properly…..Speaking of poor execution; someone should jump in – let’s call it intervention — and help CNN “personality” Anderson Cooper avoid destroying his career by trying to wear too many hats in an effort to boost ratings and be a media star. He should stick to one thing and do it well instead of becoming CNN’s in-house clown. I found his situation co-hosting New Year’s Eve from Times Square with goofball Kathy Griffin to be a painfully poor pairing and I had to turn it off and switch over to Ryan Seacrest who seemed like Walter Cronkite compared to Anderson if you can imagine that…..Congratulations to JD Hayworth and Melanie Morgan for being put on the air full time at KSFO, San Francisco. It is a relief to finally see Cumulus putting good people on the air instead of just throwing them off…..Our condolences goe out to the family of one of the smartest and nicest people in talk radio programming, David Bernstein of Bernstein Talent, who lost his dad Charlie Bernstein to cancer over the holidays. David described his dad as his “hero.”…..Hey, if you hear of anything interesting, let me know. Send your tips to email@example.com To go to the main news page, click here.
Walter Sabo Leaves COO Position at Merlin Media. Noted radio consultant Walter Sabo has parted ways with Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media, the heavily venture capital-backed firm that acquired a majority share of three radio stations this past summer from Jeff Smulyan’sEmmis Broadcasting including WEMP-FM, New York and WWWN-FM, Chicago and is in the process of picking up a fourth from Harold Camping’s Family Broadcasting – WKDN-FM, in the Philadelphia market. Merlin launched a relatively experimental all-news format at these stations targeted to what Sabo described as “working families” with an emphasis on the 25-54 female demographic. The stations (FM News 101.9 in New York and FM News 101.1 in Chicago) received a tremendous amount of attention (and intense scrutiny) in the media before, during and after their launch prompted by former Tribune Company CEO Michaels’ negatively colorful and controversial profile, in addition to the fact that they were taking a startlingly innovative and youthful approach to delivering the all-news format. Sabo was recruited to serve as architect of this approach due to his impeccable reputation as a longtime champion of the concept of targeting female listeners on FM and proven track record for success with spoken word on FM as a longtime consultant for WKXW-FM, Trenton (New Jersey 101.5). When a notable rise in ratings failed to materialize in immediately subsequent survey periods coupled with widespread criticism by radio industry observers of the stations’ formats and execution – further exacerbated by Michaels receiving negative publicity in the midst of all this for being arrested on DUI charges – the heat was on and Michaels began facing enormous internal and external pressure to modify the programming approach. He succumbed and the Merlin stations began moving in a more traditional all-news direction putting them in head-to-head competition with CBS’s long-established, traditional and wildly successful all-news outlets in New York and Chicago (WINS, WCBS and WBBM). With this repositioning, the challenge of competing against successful, established news outlets has not produced increased ratings and the Merlin all-news initiative has become prematurely tagged throughout the industry as a monumental failure. Sabo’s withdrawal from day-to-day operational and programming decisions, including his subsequent departure from Merlin, has been quietly happening below the radar for some time now. Up until this article’s publication (1/2), there has been no official press release, acknowledgement or statement from either Merlin or Sabo confirming or commenting on his exit. However,TALKERS sources inside Merlin and close to Sabo confirm that it is indeed true with Sabo telling TALKERS,“At this time my work with Merlin is complete. The primary job was to build the most competitive team on and off the air – Merlin has the best. Our initiatives gave investors the confidence to buy a station in a third market and grow the company. GTCR deserves enormous credit for investing in the radio medium. FM spoken-word is so hot that the demand for Sabo Media services has never been greater. Our clients find that our decades of experience in the FM talk format protects their investment and shortens the profit horizon. More importantly my beautiful wife Katie is seven months pregnant during the holidays. That’s the news.” Sabo will continue to serve as CEO of his consulting firm Sabo Media and internet branding and marketing company, HitViews.
Fox Sports Radio Network Debuts New Morning Program Featuring Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins. Today is the debut of Fox Sports Radio Network’s new morning show – “Fox Sports Daybreak” – heard from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and featuring former Cincinnati sports talk host Andy Furman and retired NFL defensive back Artrell Hawkins. Furman’s resume includes an 18-year run hosting “Sports Talk” at WLW, Cincinnati and, recently, the PM drive show at WQRT, Cincinnati. Hawkins is a contributor to the Cincinnati Bengals Radio Network. Furman has been hosting a weekend show with former NFL star Lincoln Kennedy for more than a year and that Sunday evening program with Furman and Kennedy will continue. Fox Sports Radio VP/GM Don Martin states, “We couldn’t be happier to have Andy and Artrell hosting our new morning drive program. The combination of a sports talk pro like Andy and a former professional football player like Artrell will be a great addition to our weekday lineup.” Fox Sports Daybreak replaces the Zakk and Jack program on the FSRN schedule.
Cumulus Media Flips WMTI-FM, New Orleans from Oldies to Sports Talk. The Big Easy gets a new sports talk outlet as Cumulus Media drops the oldies on WMTI-FM and goes sports talk with programming from Fox Sports Radio Network, Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome and a PM drive show hosted by New Orleans Hornets broadcaster Gerry Vaillancourt.
New FM Talk Outlet for Little Rock. Crain Media Group drops the active rock on KKSP-FM, Bryant, Arkansas (located to the Northwest of Little Rock) and debuts a talk format it’s calling “Fresh Talk 93.3.” The lineup includes market news personality Neal Gladner in morning drive, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham, Dial Global’s Clark Howard, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” and more.
Progressive Talk Appears on WVKO, Columbus. The station at 1580 AM is owned by Bernard Ohio LLC and its website indicates it’s doing business as Clear Conscience Communications. The progressive talk lineup that debuted on January 2 includes Dial Global’s Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann and Bill Press plus Mike Malloy and Leslie Marshall.
Chris Schoenewald Exits Virginia-Based “Daily Constitutional” Program. The regionally syndicated “Daily Constitutional” – based out of WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia and co-hosted by Joe Thomas and Chris Schoenewald – is undergoing changes as Schoenewald is leaving the program to run for office. He plans to announce which office he’ll seek soon. Thomas tells TALKERS the program will continue. “Adam Forster of Virginia Living Television and private investigator/TV anchor Nikki Lewis will be purchasing Schoenewald’s share and we’re hopeful to continue to grow and help stations in this area program locally oriented talk while freeing up their resources for news and marketing efforts.” The “Daily Constitutional” airs live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET. In addition, Thomas hosts the morning drive program on WCHV-AM/FM.
Sam Malone in Israel. KSEV, Houston morning host Sam Malone is pictured here inspecting the cockpit of an Israeli F-16 during a tour of the Hatzor Air Force Base while on a trip to Israel. Malone broadcast his program live back to his Houston audience (via the very capable technology of the Comrex ACCESS) during which he interviewed numerous Houstonians serving in the IDF, important Israeli media figures and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Malone tells TALKERS magazine his audience loved the content and his marketing department was able to get the broadcast event sponsored.
Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Holiday Sports Action and New Year Retrospectives Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/2). Today’s Iowa Caucuses for GOP candidates, the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian leadership, college and pro holiday sports action and 2011 retrospectives were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Merlin Media Enters the Philly Market. The Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media is not deterred by slow starts in New York and Chicago and will bring what many suspect is an all-news FM outlet to Philadelphia after agreeing to buy Family Stations Inc.’s class B WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey. Merlin announces in a release that it is searching for radio pros with the line – “Merlin Media is now actively looking for staff that can pronounce Schuylkill, Wissahickon, Manayunk, Tredyffrin, Gwynedd, Pennsauken and Bryn Mawr.” If Merlin does go with a news format, CBS Radio’s KYW is currently news leader in Philly topping the recent Arbitron PPM for November with a cume of more than 1 million and a 7.4 AQH (persons 6+). The sale price has not been announced. Harold Camping’s Family Stations Inc. recently agreed to sell WBGR-FM, Annapolis, Maryland to CBS Radio which will debut an FM news station there in the New Year. The price for that station was $8.5 million and although there’s no official word on the price Merlin is paying for WKDN, reports are circulating it’s in the $22 million neighborhood.
Cumulus Media Networks Names Gary McNamara and Eric Harley New Co-Hosts for “Red Eye Radio.” This is a consolidation of two late-night radio shows owned by Cumulus Media: the “Red Eye Radio” show founded by talk host Doug McIntyre and the WBAP, Dallas-based “Midnight Radio Network” (known to many fans over the years as the “Midnight Trucking Radio Network”) program hosted by Eric Harley and Gary McNamara. Cumulus SVP of affiliate sales and broadcast operations Dennis Green says, “Adding Eric and Gary to our versatile lineup of talk programming is a fantastic opportunity for the network and provides two dynamic personalities to our affiliates. This is another daypart where we can offer high-quality solutions to stations looking for relevant content that connects with local audiences. We truly appreciate the road map Doug has created for delivering overnight listener engagement with ‘Red Eye Radio’ and we’re proud that he will continue to be part of our company.” The company isn’t prepared to say what McIntyre’s new duties will be but reiterates he will remain with Cumulus. He also hosts the 5:00 am to 6:00 am hour on WABC, New York. The combined affiliate bases will put the new “Red Eye Radio” program on about 150 affiliates and airs live from 1:00 am to 6:00 am Monday through Sunday beginning January 3, 2012.
Courtside Entertainment Group/Dial Global’s “Loveline” Adds Simone Bienne to Show. The long-running “Loveline” late-night radio show co-hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky and Mike Catherwood adds British sex and relationship therapist Simone Bienne to the program. Bienne works with Pinsky on the CW Network program “Life Changers.” Courtside Entertainment Group managing partner Norm Pattiz says of the addition, “Since taking over the program six months ago, we have committed ourselves to increasing its audience and broadening its appeal while maintaining its edgy, entertaining and irreverent approach. ‘Loveline’ is an advice show like no other and the addition of Simone will help us reach more stations, more advertisers and more audience.” Courtside produces the program and Dial Global is the exclusive distributor and national ad sales rep. It airs live Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET.
NBC O&O TV Stations to Partner with Non-Profit News Organizations. According to the Los Angeles Times, in an effort for Comcast to show federal regulators it is committed to strengthening local and public-interest programming after its acquisition of NBCUniversal, some 10 major market NBC TV O&Os will partner with non-profit news organizations for enterprise and analytical reporting. One example is KNBC-TV, Los Angeles working with Southern California Public Radio to use stories produced by each other and, in some cases, working with each other on stories. A similar arrangement is being started between WCAU-TV, Philadelphia and WHYY, Philadelphia. The Times story notes the model for this is a relationship between KNSD-TV, San Diego and the internet news organization Voice of San Diego which have been sharing content for some time. KNSD-TV pays Voice of San Diego $3,700 per month. It’s not clear how much money will change hands – if any – in the new deals described above.
Southern California Talkers Invited to Attend Nathan Pacheco Performance. Those who attended the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum were treated to a surprise appearance by Disney Pearl Records rising international superstar Nathan Pacheco, whose lunchtime performance of “Nessun Dorma” was received with a thunderous standing ovation. The young opera singer has been gathering worldwide attention and acclaim with the current release of a single, “O Holy Night,” performed with British star Katherine Jenkins, a forthcoming album release produced by Leo-Z (Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli), and numerous concert and television appearances. TALKERS has just learned that this exciting artist will be performing a concert titled “Home for the Holidays” at the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles on the evening of Sunday, December 18 and Disney Pearl Records would like to make tickets to this special event available to attendees of the recent LARTF. The first five LARTF attendees who contact Larry Harris at 360-417-8138 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org will each receive a pair of free tickets to this wonderful concert. This offer is only appearing this morning (12/7) on this TALKERS headlines report — so act quickly. If you did not see Nathan Pacheco at the Talkers event check out a video of “The Making of Nessun Dorma” at http://nathanpacheco.com/videos.php.
2012 GOP Candidates, Trump-Moderated Debate, President Obama’s Kansas Address and Euro Zone Debt Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/6). The field of Republican candidates for president, the proposed Donald Trump-moderated GOP debate, President Obama’s national address from Kansas and the ongoing Euro Zone debt crisis were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
“Johnny B” Takes Over Mornings on WGN. Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago announces Chicago radio legend Jonathon Brandmeier replaces Greg Jarrett as host of the morning drive program effective December 9. WGN vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer says, “Jonathon Brandmeier is a Chicago superstar and we’re thrilled to have him on the air at the station where he belongs. Johnny’s high energy, humor and unique Chicago experience make him an exceptional fit as ‘The Voice of Chicago’ evolves with another generation of listeners.” Brandmeier had a successful 14-year career at WLUP-AM/FM but in 1997 the station made a change and he worked at WCKG-FM, Chicago before moving to Los Angeles to host programs at KLSX-FM and KCBS-FM. He returned to WLUP-FM to host mornings from 2005 through 2009. He’s also hosted various television projects and recorded numerous music/comedy projects. The change in mornings at WGN and the ousting of Jarrett represents another move away from the programming brought to the station under the leadership of former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels and the PD he brought to WGN, Kevin Metheny. Jarrett moved to WGN in June of 2009 after spending more than eight years at KGO, San Francisco in the news department. WGN notes changes in the news department includes news anchor Steve Bertrand moving to mornings with Brandmeier and Jim Gudas shifting to middays/afternoons. While Chicagoans may welcome the return of Johnny B to the radio, some will be upset with the replacement of husband-and-wife team Steve King and Johnnie Putman in the 12:00 midnight to 5:30 am slot with Bill Leff. King has been with WGN for more than 25 years and Johnnie almost as long.
Clear Channel and Cumulus Partner Up for Two-Pronged Deal. The New York Times is reporting that Clear Channel and Cumulus – the two largest radio operators in America – have struck a deal that will give Cumulus spots for its SweetJack daily-deals program on Clear Channel radio stations and that will put Cumulus radio stations on CC’s iHeartRadio platform. Cumulus has SweetJack operating in 16 markets with plans to expand. Recently, Clear Channel struck a deal to work with daily-deals operator LivingSocial. Under the terms of the deal, all 570 Cumulus stations in 120 markets will be available on the iHeartRadio platform. Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman is quoted saying the deal provides “one more data point that proves radio is not a laggard, that we do see the future, and that we’re moving toward it in a smart and fast way.” SweetJack was created by Cumulus in April and has local market salespeople working in all 16 markets. Cumulus reports it has approximately 1 million users at this time. Clear Channel and Cumulus have a revenue-sharing deal for SweetJack. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says of the service, “SweetJack is our exciting new social commerce platform. It’s a break-through brand in a sea of sameness that’s fueled by the power of radio to connect local merchants with consumers. This agreement with Clear Channel enables us to scale SweetJack into a true nationwide platform which we believe is essential to competing successfully in this rapidly growing space.”
KGO, San Francisco Update: Peter Finch and Doug McIntyre in for Nights. In the wake of last week’s blockbuster news of the dismissal of four of its longtime talk hosts for a more news-intensive program schedule comes the news that former KFOG-FM, San Francisco morning host Peter Finch is the new 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm news anchor and Doug McIntyre’s “Red Eye Radio” is in for the 12:00 midnight to 4:00 am slot. McIntyre’s show is a Cumulus Media Networks production and costs the station nothing – in fact, it gives the company a nice San Francisco affiliate.
Kevin Straley Joins TuneIn as VP of Programming. The former XM Satellite Radio and WRKO, Boston programmer becomes vice president of programming for the free service that allows users to listen to music, sports and news from around the world. Kevin Straley – who most recently was founder and president of KMS Media Partners – will work with audio content distributors to optimize their digital strategies. TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “We’re thrilled to welcome Kevin Straley to the TuneIn executive team. His track record of building strategic relationships and working with audio partners in innovative ways will help us take the company to the next level.” TuneIn describes itself as a service that “offers over 50,000 AM, FM, HD and internet radio stations and more than one million on-demand shows and programs streaming from every continent. The company’s mobile applications are highly ranked worldwide. TuneIn is available in 10 languages across all major smart phones and tablets, connected home stereos, smart TVs, connected automobiles and online at tunein.com. Straley says, “Now, more than ever, audio content creators are looking for complimentary platforms to deliver their content to the growing audience that embraces digital…TuneIn is a powerful way to drive new listening and new opportunities for everyone.”
New Host for KLAC’s “Dodger Talk” Program Expected. The Los Angeles Daily News reports Josh Suchon and Joe Block will not be retained to host the “Dodger Talk” post-game show as the Dodgers transition to Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles this season. The Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth reports former big league manager Kevin Kennedy is likely to be the new host of the show for the 2012 season. Kennedy is a Fox Sports baseball analyst.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Launches “Holiday Giving Campaign.” The 60-year-old foundation that provides aid to broadcasters and their families in need, is kicking off its “Holiday Giving Campaign” encouraging donations and memberships at this time of year. BFoA chairman Phil Lombardo says, “The sole purpose of the Broadcasters Foundation is to provide financial relief to broadcasters in need. Through the generous support of individuals and corporations in our industry, we can maintain the ability to help colleagues whose lives have been devastated by unthinkable circumstances. I ask every broadcaster to consider making a donation or becoming a member.” This year the foundation will grant more than $675,000 in assistance – an increase of 35% over last year with more requests arriving daily. Current recipients include the family of a 20-year broadcast veteran who died of a sudden massive stroke, leaving two children and a wife who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis; an elderly couple who have outlived their savings and are saddled with enormous medical costs; and a man who in the prime of his life and at the peak of his career became paralyzed by a tragic accident that has left him confined to a wheel chair. To make a donation, please visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org, or call 212-373-8250.
Randy Michaels Gets $650,000 Settlement from Tribune Co. Former Tribune Company CEO – and current Merlin Media LLC CEO – Randy Michaels is getting a $650,000 settlement from Tribune after being ousted from the company this past fall. Michaels sought the pro-rated portion of his 2010 management incentive bonus — $900,000 – arguing he was terminated without cause. Tribune considered challenging the assertion with which it disagreed but decided to settle to avoid a drawn out legal battle. Michaels will also get $50,000 to cover his legal fees. According to the Chicago Tribune, part of the settlement includes a non-disparagement clause, provisions to protect Tribune’s intellectual property and a limit of its future liability to claims brought by Michaels.
Report: NBC Still Negotiating with Howard Stern to Judge “America’s Got Talent.” The New York Post is reporting that NBC is still in talks with Howard Stern to bring the Sirius/XM personality aboard its “America’s Got Talent” program to take the place of Piers Morgan who’s exiting to concentrate on his CNN duties. Some industry watchers are skeptical that NBC would pay Stern $20 million and move the show from Los Angeles to New York to have Stern join the show but the Post says some sources close to the process say creator and executive producer Simon Cowell really wants Stern for the role. Neither NBC nor Cowell are commenting stating their policy of not addressing ongoing negotiations in the media.
KTAR-FM, Phoenix Adds Two Local Programs to Weekend Schedule. Bonneville’s KTAR-Phoenix announces the addition of two new local programs to the Saturday schedule. Author and business owner Steve Henry hosts his eponymous program from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm focusing on small business and the role it plays in the country’s economy. Henry states, “I couldn’t be more excited to bring our show to one of the best news stations in the country. It’s time to take back control of our financial future by starting our own small businesses and investing in ourselves.” Henry’s program is followed by current KTAR producer and on-air contributor Rob Hunter paired up with Phoenix market radio pro Mark Devine for the Rob and Mark show. Hunter says, “Mark and I come from different perspectives in life as he’s a dad raising two kids and I’m recently married. This dynamic will provide a fun, interesting and relatable Saturday afternoon show for the KTAR audience.” KTAR-FM vice president of news and sports content Ryan Hatch says of the additions, “Unfortunately in our business, most media companies are filling weekends with more syndicated shows and less local programming to save money. At KTAR, we see the world differently and believe strongly that weekends provide the perfect opportunity to develop new, engaging local content for our audiences regardless of expense.”
Seventh Annual Domestic Violence Radio Row Set for December 8. For the seventh consecutive year, TALKERS magazine will present “It’s Time to Talk Day” — a massive radio row produced in association with its sister firm, Talk Radio News Service, and the corporate sponsorship of Liz Claiborne, Inc. Held in the fashion showroom of the Midtown Manhattan corporate offices of Liz Claiborne, Inc., the ambitious event brings together more than 20 talk media hosts from around the country who broadcast their shows live or record interviews for delayed broadcast speaking with a non-stop parade of experts, victims, celebrities and public officials from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm on the insidious societal problems of domestic violence and teenage dating abuse. This year’s participants include Alan Colmes of Fox News Radio; Dr. Joy Browne of WOR Radio Network; Mark Riley of WWRL, New York; Curtis Sliwa of WNYM (The Apple), New York; Roberta Facinelli of “Doug Stephan’s Good Day;” John Fugelsang of “The Stephanie Miller Show;” Kevin McCullough of “The Kevin McCullough Show” and “Baldwin/McCullough;” Maria Bailey of “Mom Talk Radio;” Gary Baumgarten of Paltalk; Lionel of WPIX-TV, New York Channel 11 and LionelMedia.com; Barry Farber of Talk Radio Network and CRN Digital Talk Radio; Lisa Wexler of “The Lisa Wexler Show;” Ken Pittman of WBSM, New Bedford, MA/Providence, RI; Dr. Renee Kohanski of PodJockey; Dan Patterson of KoPoint and Ellen Ratner and Geoff Holtzman of Talk Radio News Service who will be broadcasting throughout the day to several hundred of the news service’s affiliates. Joining the lineup this year will be representatives of college talk radio with WRHU, Hempstead of Hofstra University; WLIU, Brooklyn of Long Island University and WNEK, Springfield, MA of Western New England University in attendance. Included among those who will be taking live and recorded feeds from the event are Thom Hartmann of “The Thom Hartmann Show;” Dom Giordano of WPHT, Philadelphia; and Carole Marks of “A Touch of Grey” with several more to be announced. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “‘It’s Time to Talk Day’ is certainly one of our most important annual events. It raises consciousness about a societal problem that impacts a frighteningly large segment of the population and it cuts across all gender, ethnic and demographic boundaries. There isn’t a spoken-word format that doesn’t find the topic of domestic violence applicable to its audience and extremely compelling. Most importantly, we get feedback each year that this radio row, upon reaching millions of talk radio listeners, really does make a huge difference in the lives of real people. It doesn’t get better than that. We are grateful to Liz Claiborne, Inc. for their public-mindedness in supporting such a valuable project.” Talkers.com will provide full coverage of the event.
Connecticut Talk Host Lisa Wexler Joins WFAS, White Plains, New York; Station to Flip to Talk. Cumulus’ WFAS, White Plains currently airs soft AC but will flip to talk soon and former WSTC, Stamford/WNLK, Norwalk, Connecticut talk host Lisa Wexler will host the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm program. Wexler exited WSTC and WNLK when Cox Media Group agreed to sell the two stations to Sacred Heart University which is taking them non-commercial. Wexler will broadcast live from the “It’s Time to Talk Day” radio row in New York City on December 8. The event is designed to raise awareness of domestic violence and is produced by TALKERS magazine in association with its sister firm, Talk Radio News Service, and the corporate sponsorship of Liz Claiborne, Inc. Back to WFAS, the Westchester County station will reportedly also air Dial Global’s Clark Howard as part of the talk lineup.
WPEN-AM/FM, Philadelphia Brings Former Flyers Lindros and LeClair Together to Benefit Children’s Hospital. Greater Media’s Philadelphia sports talk outlet “97.5 The Fanatic” is bringing former Philadelphia Flyers Eric Lindros and John LeClair back together for a series of events to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in conjunction with sponsor TD Bank. Lindros and LeClair will appear on Mike Missanelli’s PM drive program from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on December 14; they’ll be part of a charity luncheon at Morton’s The Steakhouse the following day; and will appear at a public signing at the Granite Run Mall in Media, Pennsylvania on Friday, December 16. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the events will benefit the hospital. WPEN-AM/FM program director Matt Nahigian says, “It’s really going to be great. For Eric and John to partner with the station and to do so for a terrific cause such as CHOP is really tremendous. I know the listeners will enjoy the opportunity to attend these events. We’re very excited.”
Milwaukee Media Writer Tim Cuprisin Passes Away at 53. Tim Cuprisin covered radio and TV for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for 23 years before accepting a buyout from Journal Communications in 2009. Since exiting Journal, he’d been continuing to cover the Milwaukee radio and TV beat via the blog OnMilwaukee.com. The Chicago native died on November 23 after complications from advanced melanoma.
Clear Channel Names Jason Furst PD at WHAM, Rochester. Jason Furst adds programming oversight of Clear Channel’s news/talk WHAM, Rochester and sports WHTK-AM/FM to his duties. Furst programs WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse and will continue in that role. He will, however, give up the PD reins at CHR WWHT, Syracuse. Furst fills the vacant programming position in Rochester that opened when Jeff Howlett was let go from the station he’d been working at for the past 25 years.
Emmis’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis Partners with WRTV-TV for News and Weather. Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis announces a partnership with McGraw-Hill’s local ABC affiliate WRTV-TV for news and weather coverage. Emmis VP and market manager Charlie Morgan says of the new deal, “In our 21st-Century world of news and information consumption, it just makes sense for our TV and radio newsrooms to work together to ensure we are delivering the most relevant information to our consumers wherever they are…at home, at work, in their cars, wherever. This partnership will allow us to provide Indianapolis viewers and listeners with the latest information wherever they are, whether they are listening to the radio, watching TV, going online or on their mobile phones.” WRTV meteorologists Kevin Gregory, Todd Klaassen and Stephanie Ortmann will provide forecasts throughout the day on WIBC. They will also provide live updates during severe weather situations.
Buckley Broadcasting Adds FM Signal to KNZR, Bakersfield. The Buckley Broadcasting news/talk outlet at 1560 on the AM dial states on its website, “KNZR made Bakersfield radio history by being the first news/talk station in the market to simulcast on the FM dial. Our market leading 1560 AM news/talk programming is now also heard on 97.7 FM. The move to simulcast on FM allows us to better serve our local community as well as provide increased audience reach and value to our advertisers.” To accommodate the move, Buckley drops AC music on KSMJ licensed to Shafter, California.
WTOP-FM, Washington Hires Former CNN Correspondent. Jeanne Meserve worked at cable news giant CNN for the past 20 years – most recently as homeland security correspondent. Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington brings her aboard as a freelance anchor.
KTRH, Houston’s Matt Patrick Has Busy Black Friday. It’s safe to say KTRH, Houston morning drive host Matt Patrick will not be at the shopping mall on Friday. Patrick hosts his regular AM drive show on KTRH from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, then fills in for Bill Cunningham on WLW, Cincinnati from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. But wait there’s more! Patrick will sit in for fellow Clear Channel Houston host Michael Berry on KTRH from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Thanksgiving Holiday, 2012 Presidential Race, Euro Zone Debt Crisis, Super Committee Failure, Immigration Law Challenges Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/22). The Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the GOP contenders for president in 2012, the ongoing Euro Zone debt crisis, the effect the Super Committee’s failure to address U.S. debt and challenges to states’ immigration laws were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Harsh Reality of Today’s Radio Business Forces Clear Channel’s Major “Reduction in Force.” This latest round of firings is focused on Clear Channel’s small and medium markets and is affecting primarily on-air and programming staff. Internally, Clear Channel stations are broken down into three categories: the majors, the mids and the small markets – the latter sometimes referred to by insiders humorously as the stations that are for sale. But in this economy those small stations – many of which were purchased in the late 1990s as the then-Randy Michaels-led radio group was buying stations at an astounding pace – are for all intents and purposes under water. The company analyzed each station in an hour-by-hour fashion to determine how much it costs to program and execute the product versus how much it is making. Programs and hosts whose shows are in the black are likely to be retained; those in the red are those about whom you are reading today. The company is not describing this strategy as cost cutting but leveraging the quality programming it owns and distributing it to the small – or regional – markets. The reality is that Clear Channel has a lot of debt it must pay off and – not unlike the homeowner who bought before the housing bubble burst and owes more than his house is worth – must make drastic cuts and hope that it can continue to engage listeners and serve advertisers with “Premium Choice” programming from afar and managers doing more jobs within the same work day. This situation is unique to neither Clear Channel nor the radio business. The following list of people working in news or at talk stations for CC are reported to have been let go. This list is not complete and doesn’t include those from music-formatted stations. Reports indicate several hundred employees will be out when all is said and done. The list: KFAB, Omaha PM drive host Tom Becka; Clear Channel Hudson Valley news director Cameron Hendrix; WERC, Birmingham, Alabama news director Mark Evans; WHAM, Rochester news anchor Beth Adams; WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse talk host Jim Reith; KWTX, Waco, Texas PD and morning host Shane Warner; WJBO, Baton Rouge, Louisiana mid-morning talk host Clarence Buggs; and WGY and WOFX, Albany assistant PD Steve Bleznyk.
Cumulus Los Angeles Cuts Include Legendary Jock Jim Ladd. So far the cuts at Cumulus’ Los Angeles stations have not affected any air talent at news/talk KABC. Production directors at both KABC and KLOS-FM – Howard Hoffman and Mike Sherry, respectively – are out as is KLOS-FM program director Bob Buchmann. But Southern California radio fans are shocked to find legendary jock Jim Ladd – ironically, the subject of Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” – has been sacked. The 63-year-old Ladd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.
Lionel Expands Role at New York’s WPIX-TV. What began as his doing a short form commentary running once per day on the evening news has expanded to multiple roles and appearances for the iconoclastic talk radio veteran and podcasting pioneer on the Tribune Company-owned Channel 11 in the Big Apple. Lionel has just debuted his weekday “5@5” segment on the daily newscast in addition to being featured on PIX 11 seven nights a week with fresh video commentary on its 10:00 pm newscast. Lionel, an ex-prosecutor and criminal defense trial lawyer, has also inaugurated his “Lionel’s Law School” segment. Plus, he appears weekly as PIX 11’s resident “News Decoder” on its Monday morning news broadcast and at pix11.com. Lionel’s commentaries are also broadcast nationally through Tribune Company’s affiliates including KPLR 11 in St. Louis. Lionel, a regular TALKERS columnist, has gained national attention as a talk “media station” groundbreaker with his lionelmedia.com.
Rusty Humphries Named National Radio Spokesman for Vietnam Memorial Effort. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is spearheading a campaign to build a multi-media education center adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. In addition to his duties as national radio spokesman, Talk Radio Network host Rusty Humphries is leading the “Veterans Day Challenge” to raise funds for the center. He will also serve as emcee at a gala benefit at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC on November 11 that will feature actor Tom Selleck. Humphries’ father died in Vietnam in 1969 when Rusty was just three years old. Humphries says, “Every time I’m in Washington, I visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, gaze up at my father’s name on Panel 34W, Line 84, and wish that I’d have gotten to know the man whose name appears there, my father. The Education Center at the Wall will provide a living memorial to these heroes – not just the men and women like my dad whose names appear on the Wall, but all veterans, from Bunker Hill to the present day.”
Tom Marr’s Contract at WCBM Extended Again. Veteran talk show host Tom Marr of WCBM, Baltimore has been given another extension of his unique contract until 2015. Marr first signed a no-cut deal with the independently owned heritage station in September of 1977. It was then extended until 2009. Marr reached an agreement on July 3, 2008 with the late owner of WCBM, Nick Mangione, Sr., to extend through 2012. Now Marr has signed an extension with WCMB president Mary C. Mangione that will run until 2015. Upon signing the deal, WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. tells TALKERS, “Ownership is very pleased to have Tom’s commitment to remain on WCBM’s team. Tom performs a public service that is informative, beneficial, and entertaining for our listeners.” Marr comments, “I am delighted that my career will end with WCBM and the Mangione Family Enterprises.” Pictured here at the signing ceremony are: WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. (standing); seated (l-r) are Mangione Family Enterprise attorney Joe LaVerghetta, Mangione Family Enterprise president Mary Mangione, and host Tom Marr.
Clear Channel Adds FM Simulcast to WVOC, Columbia, South Carolina. The victim this time is urban WXBT-FM at 100.1 and, of course, the entire staff of the music station as CC gives news/talk WVOC an FM presence.
Ric Edelman’s “Truth About Money” Public TV Show Heads into Season Two. Author, broadcaster and financial advisor Ric Edelman will produce a second season of his public TV show that shares the same name as his nationally syndicated talk radio show – “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman.” Season one hit public TV stations across the country earlier this spring and season two will be ready for air in April of next year. Executive producer Russ Hodge says, “Public Television executives and viewers around the country were so taken with the solid financial guidance they received from Ric, they wholeheartedly endorsed the notion of our coming back for another season. It’s no secret Ric is recognized as one of America’s top financial advisors, and in these uncertain economic times, viewers gravitate to his expertise and know-how.”
USRN Offers Kim Iversen Show in New Format. “Your Time with Kim Iversen” has been available in syndication via United Stations Radio Networks talk-intensive music show for Hot AC stations since 2007. Now, after partnering with Entercom – the company that created the show – to bring it into wider syndication earlier this year, USRN announces that show is available as a live feed or a “build your own show” format. Beginning November 13, the live feed will be a two-hour, personality-driven talk show airing live from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. Stations wishing to continue airing music in the show can use the show segments around music to build a five-hour program. USRN EVP of programming Andy Denemark says, “Kim is an amazing talent, but we found that programmers had varied opinions on how they wanted her show to air. Some wanted strictly a talk block, others were happy with the Hot AC show and still others wanted her content mixed with CHR or alternative music. Now, every affiliate gets their wish!”
ABC Digital Clients Now Get News from ABC Sports. Stations subscribing to ABC Digital for news feeds for their websites now can get sports content from ABC Sports, according to ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones. “By adding sports headlines to our lineup of ABC Digital choices, we’re enhancing our radio customers’ websites at no additional cost to them. Several of our partners have expressed an interest in adding a recognized sports brand and we’re pleased to make ABC Sports – a name steeped in tradition – a new category they can add to their station’s website with the simple click of a button.” ABC Digital service was recently launched by ABC News Radio and Cumulus Media Networks. The ready-to-post online content is produced and updated 24 hours a day and includes breaking news, exclusive stories, photos and graphics. Stations also have the option to brand the service locally, monetizing the content through local sponsorships.
Barb Yoder Moves into GM Seat at Salem Communications’ Tampa Cluster. A series of management promotions at Salem Communications means a promotion for Tampa and Sarasota cluster general sales manager Barb Yoder and an open GSM post at the stations. Yoder moves into the GM post as former GM Chris Gould moves to the corporate level in the vice president of program development position based in Camarillo, California. Gould replaces Ron Walters who is promoted to senior vice president, ministry relations.
Affiliate Relations Pro Rich Rapiti Victim of Dial Global-Westwood One Merger. New York-based affiliate relations pro Rich Rapiti lost his position as part of the consolidation of Dial Global and Westwood One. He’s available for his next challenge and can be reached at email@example.com or 973-809-3049.
Former Cap Cities/ABC COO Dan Burke Passes Away at 82. Dan Burke and partner Tom Murphy are credited with building Cap Cities into a major broadcasting force and buying ABC to create Cap Cities/ABC. The two ran the company for a decade before selling it to Disney in 1996. Salem Radio Network VP of news/talk programming Tom Tradup remembers working for Burke when he was GM of WLS, Chicago. “I will always remember Burke’s steely eyes and his tough questioning (especially at this time of the year during budgeting!) as we s-l-o-w-l-y turned WLS from the 23rd station in Chicago and put it on track to become a top-five news/talk giant. He was firm but fair, and if people in Chicago enjoy WLS in 2011…they probably can thank Dan Burke more than anyone else for showing patience and for keeping others within the company from panicking as WLS grew and ultimately prospered in the #3 radio market in America.”
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.
WWWN-FM, Chicago Midday Anchor Dave Williams Exits Merlin Station. The first high-profile firing at Merlin Media’s Chicago all-newser claims veteran news and talk radio pro Dave Williams. Numerous reports indicate Williams was let go after a station visit from Merlin Media management that included CEO Randy Michaels but not COO Walter Sabo. Industry watchers note that there’s been near constant tweaking of the on-air sound at Merlin’s WWWN-FM, Chicago and WEMP-FM, New York but the departure of Williams has triggered a change that appears to be taking the stations away from the “lifestylish” approach to news and toward a much more traditional all-news direction. This, according to widespread street buzz, could put Walter Sabo’s future with Merlin in doubt as he is generally recognized as the architect of the innovative direction that has marked the company’s questionable starts in both Chicago and New York. As pointed out here last week, although industry conventional wisdom indicates that it takes time – as much as a year or more – for spoken-word upstarts to gain ratings traction (especially groundbreaking ones), today’s economically stressed environment and “ADD/PPM world” pressure for instantaneous results would likely contribute to nervous investors and the knee jerk response to make changes…especially at an extremely high-profile operation as Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media. Thus, the “big tweak” might be morphing into a significant format change. Meanwhile, Williams, who spent most of his career working in news and talk radio in California at such stations as KNX, KABC and KFWB in Los Angeles and KFBK in Sacramento, is looking for his next opportunity after moving from California three months ago to become part of the new Merlin station.
Westwood One’s Dennis Miller and Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly Partner for Live Shows. The last time Bill O’Reilly did a series of live events, then-FNC employed Glenn Beck was his partner. This time Dennis Miller – a man who is no stranger to the live stage – joins O’Reilly for the “Bolder and Fresher” tour with stops at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut; the Landmark Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City; and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California. It’s billed as “Bill O’Reilly, godfather of ‘no spin’ and in-your-face television, and Dennis Miller, the king of references and rants, are teaming up to take the country by storm!” Tickets are not cheap for this event. The cheap seats are $95 and the VIP tix are $500 but include a meet-and-greet, photos with O’Reilly and Miller and autographs.
Premiere Networks’ George Noory Publishes New Book Talking to the Dead. The host of Premiere’s “Coast to Coast AM” joins forces with paranormal experts and co-author Rosemary Ellen Guiley to author Talking to the Dead (Forge Books 2011) – the third book for George Noory. According to Noory, the book “explores the colorful history and personalities behind spirit communications, weaving together spirituality, metaphysics, science and technology.” Billed as a high-tech guide to spiritual communications, “Noory and Guiley use historical research to explore the science behind radio wave production and how radios carry supernatural voices; examples of successful spiritual communication around the globe; the possible existence of parallel universes from which we hear voices; the history of electromagnetic communication methods, including work by scientific giants like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla; and much more.”
Peak Broadcasting Goes Sports Full Time on KFXD, Boise. KFXD has been positioned as KIDO 630 in the past as a sister sports and talk outlet to news/talk KIDO 580. Dan Patrick’s DirecTV-produced show has been part of the lineup for years. Now, Peak Broadcasting gives the station a separate identity and takes it sports full time as SportsRadio 630 The Fan. The station keeps Dan Patrick in AM drive and uses content from Fox Sports Radio throughout the day except for the local Riley Corcoran show from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm and the Tester and Riley show (in which Dave Tester joins Corcoran) from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
TRN’s Michael Savage Gains Clearance in Phoenix. Talk Radio Network star Michael Savage is back in the Phoenix market on Francis Battaglia-owned KFNX in the afternoon drive slot airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Savage’s program was last cleared in the market on Clear Channel’s KFYI.
Obama Jobs Bill, ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ 2012 GOP Candidates and Euro Zone Instability Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/10). The fate of President Obama’s jobs bill, the ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, the battle for the Republican nomination for president and the policies to stabilize the Euro Zone’s economy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Merlin Faces Pressure after Disappointing Arbitrons. The upside of having a high-profile roll out for the launch of a new format is gaining the thrust of free publicity generated by lots of consumer press and enjoying the accompanying media/advertising buzz that generates early believers and revenue. The downside is facing the instantaneous criticism that comes with unrealistic expectations when they are not fulfilled – an insidious process that can quickly erode the confidence of investors, advertisers and employees, setting in motion the radio equivalent of an unharmonious locker room in sports and frightened ownership. That is the price Merlin Media and its colorful, controversial CEO Randy Michaels are facing in the wake of two early but extremely disappointing report cards issued by Arbitron reflecting the anemic initial audience numbers of their innovative all-news properties, FM News 101.1 in Chicago (0.2, 6-plus) and FM News 101.9 in New York (0.5, 6-plus). The “ouch factor” is especially biting in Chicago where FM News 101.1 is being measured against CBS Radio O&O WBBM’s 105.9 FM simulcast which launched a pre-emptive competing all news format on FM and garnered a solid 1.0, 6-plus share on top of its big AM numbers for the same period. Whereas much of this “chatter” has remained contained within under-the-radar industry conversations and media blogs, the hard facts surfaced big-time publicly this morning in an all-too-blunt article by reporter Robert Channick in the Chicago Tribune headlined “FM News 101 finds meager audience, early ratings show” describing what happened in the following terms: “The first full month of ratings for Chicago’s two FM news stations didn’t bring good news for Merlin Media. Its FM News 101.1 (WWWN-FM) ranked 48th, with a minuscule 0.2 share for September, according to Arbitron results released Tuesday. The station was trounced by CBS Radio’s simulcast of WBBM-AM 780 on sister station 105.9 FM, which garnered an additional 1.0 share. The combined AM-FM listenership for WBBM Newsradio was 6.4, topping the Chicago market. The survey covered Aug. 18 to Sept. 14.” The article goes on to quote a confident Michaels as stating, “It’s a work in progress; it’s very, very early.” Michaels adds, “You’re looking at the very first couple of weeks after we blew up a rock station, and I can’t think that too many people who were listening to (Q101.1) would be listening to spoken word.” The story reports that Michaels is urging patience in assessing the Chicago station’s success offering the revealing explanation, “I think that we’re still in the process of revamping and finding the right approach.” Seasoned talk media industry professionals know that Michaels is correct in his ongoing assertion that it takes time for a spoken word format to gain ratings traction. However a larger question spawned of the times looms – in today’s PPM world in which listener loyalty and station image take a back seat to instantaneous, real-time listening, set against the backdrop of a very uncertain economy, and exacerbated by an impatient media’s hunger for the instantaneous results of a high-profile business launch, does Michaels have the time to bring his ambitious endeavor to fruition before his nervous investors start pressing the panic button?
Cumulus Watch: Bob Moore Out in Los Angeles. KABC and KLOS-FM, Los Angeles general manager Bob Moore is out at the Cumulus stations and former Spanish Broadcasting System chief revenue officer Marko Radlovic rejoins the company he worked for almost a decade ago. Radlovic resigned from his post at SBS on September 28 where he also served as senior vice president and general manager at the company’s two Los Angeles stations.
Townsquare Media Steals One from Cumulus. Townsquare Media hires Matt Hanlon for the newly created position of vice president of sales in which he’ll oversee all aspects of the company’s sales efforts. Hanlon leaves his Michigan-based position as regional vice president for Cumulus to join Townsquare. He was an RVP for Citadel – now Cumulus – in charge of some 85 markets in the Midwest.
Beck, Ingraham, Levin and Bennett Featured Speakers at DC Summit. The Values Voters Summit takes place this weekend at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC and joining numerous conservative speakers, Republican officeholders and most of the GOP presidential candidates are Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham, Cumulus Media Networks’ Mark Levin and Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett. The event is co-sponsored by a number of conservative action groups including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association as well as conservative think tanks including The Heritage Foundation.
Bell Media Launches TSN Radio in Montreal and Winnipeg. With a continued focus on local sports, The Team 990 in Montreal (CKGM) is being rebranded as TSN Radio 990 and Sports Radio 1290 in Winnipeg (CFRW) becomes TSN Radio 1290. The stations debut just in time for the launch of the NHL season. Both TSN stations promise to feature extensive live NHL hockey coverage with TSN Radio 990 airing Montreal Canadiens games and TSN Radio 1290 the home of the Winnipeg Jets. Both stations are available nationally online at TSN.ca and on TSN Mobile. The newly re-branded TSN Radio stations will work closely with Bell Media‘s market-leading all-sports radio stations in Vancouver and Ottawa.
Canada’s Radio Regulator Rules Broadcasters Must Identify Repeat Programs. Acting after a complaint about a 2010 edition of the CFRB, Toronto program “Friendly Fire,” the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council recently ruled that repeat broadcasts of call-in shows must be identified as such. The CFRB show in question was a repeat of a program that encouraged listeners to call in or text questions to program participants. In its ruling, the CBSC wrote, in part: “At the very least, it would be courteous to the audience’s sensibilities to advise them that a program or an episode of a program is being repeated…Where, however, it is a part of the original broadcast that persons were invited to contact the station, as in any call-in show, the lack of courtesy in failing to advise listeners not to call becomes an inconvenience if not an annoyance. Where, as in the matter at hand, listeners are invited, not just to call, but also to text the station, the inconvenience turns to expense.”
2012 GOP Candidates, ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ U.N. Syria Resolution and Bernanke Testimony Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/4). The GOP candidates for the Republican nomination in 2012 – including Herman Cain’s rise in the polls, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests, Russia and China’s veto of a U.N. resolution against Syria and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Old Friends. Salem Radio Network’s “Morning in America” host Bill Bennett (r) and his producer Chris Beach (c) bump into presidential candidate Herman Cain (l) outside the Fox News Channel studios in New York City. Cain, who hosted a talk radio program on WSB, Atlanta before giving up the show to run for office, had been a regular fill-in host for Bennett’s show. Bennett told Cain he’s welcome back on the show anytime if his presidential campaign doesn’t end up victorious and Cain replied Bennett is welcome to visit him in the White House if he wins.
Walter Sabo Says Merlin’s FM News Operations in New York and Chicago off to Good Start. In an exclusive interview for TALKERS TV conducted this past Friday in New York City (right before Hurricane Irene made its way up the coast to the Big Apple), Merlin Media COO Walter Sabo praises his company’s talent roster, sales staff, and CEO Randy Michaels for creating and marketing all-news FM products in New York and Chicago strategically targeted for 25-54 year old working families. These are WEMP-FM, New York (FM News 101.9) and WWWN-FM, Chicago (FM News 101.1). When asked to further define the term “working families,” Sabo responds, “Families in which mom and dad go to work.” He says compared to the audiences of today’s traditional all-news stations, 25-54 represents the younger demographic. “They need the same information as everyone else but the key to reaching them is to understand they are extremely busy.” He explains, “They are busy running to their jobs, going to day care, picking up the kids. Their day is a series of high-pressure points regarding the clock. They don’t have time to listen to any information that isn’t right to the point.” He credits the impressive list of advertisers already signed up for these relatively brand new stations to the competence of their sales department and the fact that advertisers “immediately embrace” the concept of all news targeted to a young working audience. TALKERS monitors on the ground in New York City report that FM News 101.9 delivered “superb coverage” of Hurricane Irene throughout all phases of its assault on the region. View this must-see interview, “Lunch with Walter Sabo,” on TALKERS TV on this page.
CBS Aggressively Leads Sports Talk Invasion of FM. The FM band is quickly being populated by sports talk radio and it’s not a stretch to say CBS is leading the charge. TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian writes that when the company launched WXYT-FM, Detroit four years ago, it wasn’t planning beyond that station. But as CBS Radio SVP of programming Chris Oliviero tells TALKERS, “We realized this is a road we should go down from a programming, as well as a general radio business standpoint. We love the format and think we are good at doing it.” With the simulcast of WIP, Philadelphia beginning on September 6, CBS will have nine sports outlets on FM in the top 30 markets. Read Mike Kinosian’s in-depth look at CBS Radio’s FM sports initiative here.
Josefa Salinas of Hot 92.3 to Speak at Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum 2011. Well-known Los Angeles radio personality Josefa Salinas who hosts a widely-heard weekend community affairs talk program on Clear Channel’s urban oldies “Hot 92.3” (WHHT-FM) will join the growing all-star roster of speakers at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum. Salinas will participate on the panel titled “The Issues Facing Southern California: Challenges and Solutions.” Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison it will be the only panel at the event which focuses entirely on public issues outside the industry. (The rest of the event will address inner-industry issues.) Panelists include Charles Feldman of KNX, Los Angeles; Roger Hedgecock of KOGO, San Diego and Radio America; Stephanie Miller of KTLK, Los Angeles and Dial Global; Doug McIntyre of KABC, Los Angeles and Citadel Media; Patt Morrison of KPCC, FM Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; and John Phillips of KABC, Los Angeles. TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey states, “We have an amazingly well balanced panel of stars coming together here and the addition of such a community-involved radio broadcaster as Josefa Salinas really rounds it out beautifully. Considering the intensely controversial issues facing the region and the firepower that’ll be sitting up there on that stage, we should be in for an explosive session in the tradition of our most exciting Talk Rumbles.” The Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum 2011, presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club, will take place on Thursday, October 20 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. It features a lineup of more than 30 leading talk broadcasters including keynote speaker Bill Handel of KFI, Los Angeles and most of the top program directors from the major talk stations in Southern California. For the complete up-to-the-minute agenda and registration information, please click here.
WQXI, Atlanta Adds Dave Archer to PM Drive Show. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and current Falcons Radio Network analyst Dave Archer is named co-host of the Lincoln Financial Media station’s PM drive show alongside Mike Bell. Archer replaces David Pollack who becomes co-host of the new Palmer and Pollack show on the station. WQXI general manager Andrew Saltzman states, “There is no question that Dave Archer is the perfect guy to co-host our afternoon drive show. As an eight-year veteran of the Atlanta Falcons Radio Network, along with his six-year career as a NFL quarterback, Dave truly understands the intricacies of collegiate and professional sports. Most important is his tremendous chemistry with Bell. These guys have a lot of fun together and so will our listeners.”
Changes in PM Drive at KTSA, San Antonio? Nothing confirmed by owner Border Media Partners yet but TALKERS hears PM drive host Kevin Wall is out at KTSA, San Antonio and Sean Rima takes over his show. Rima worked for BMP in Austin at KXBT-FM before the company flipped it from talk to oldies. There was a report Rima was going to host a program at an online talk venture BMP was developing but the status of that is unclear.
Stephan Multi-Media Producing “Different” 9/11 Special. Doug Stephan, host of the nationally syndicated morning show, “Good Day,” is producing a September 11 anniversary special available for broadcast the weekend of September, 9-11. Media Management Group’s Craig Whetstine says, “We think it is different from most of the specials. It is a three-hour special, entitled, “Stronger Than Ever: Ten Years Past September 11.” Doug isn’t going to be looking back at the events of 9/11/01; he’ll be focused on where we are today and looking forward.” The program is being made available to non-affiliates of “Good Day” providing the program is not already heard in the market. Contact Whetstine at 212-545-8383.
Clear Channel Changes Market Managers in Seattle. Michele Grosenick is suddenly out as market manager of Clear Channel’s Seattle-Tacoma stations that include sports KJR. In is former CBS Radio manager Lisa Decker who left that company earlier this year. CC EVP of operations for the Western Region Susan Karis says of Decker, “Lisa is an amazing addition to the Clear Channel team. She has proven success with an impressive track record in delivering results in a highly competitive field.”
WDFN, Detroit Personality Tom Kowalski Dies Unexpectedly at 51. Known as Tom “Killer” Kowalski, he wrote for the Oakland Press and co-hosted PM drive at Clear Channel’s sports WDFN with Sean Baligian and Ryan Terpstra. His beat was the Detroit Lions and he got his nickname for his dogged pursuit as a reporter. CC Detroit market manager Til Levesque posted the following on WDFN’s website: “It is with a very heavy heart that I share with you that Tom Kowalski passed away this morning. Tom was a tremendous talent and his passion for all things Lions and the NFL never faltered. He was a tremendous asset to us on WDFN AM. His presence will be greatly missed in afternoons not to mention in the hallways and around the building. Having him on our team made us a better sports talk station and for that I will always be thankful of his time with CCD.”
Former WCCO, Minneapolis Talk Host Brad Walton Dies at Age 60. Walton was a Twin Cities media figure who spent 11 years at CBS Radio’s WCCO handling weekend overnights and fill-in shifts beginning in 1997. Walton wrote a book in 2004 titled, How Does the Heart Know Love?, a personal story about his life after open heart surgery.
Fox Sports Radio Hits 400 Affiliate Mark. The addition of CBS Radio’s new Cleveland FM sports talk outlet, “SportsRadio 92.3 The Fan” (WKRK-FM), on August 29 gives Fox Sports Radio 400 affiliate stations 11 years after its debut in August of 2000. FSRN vice president and general manager Don Martin says of the milestone, “This is a proud moment for the FSR family, as we welcome Cleveland’s WKRK 92.3 ‘The Fan’ and eclipse the 400-affiliate mark. None of this would be possible without the tremendous product that our talent delivers every day and, most importantly, the relationships we have with our incredible affiliates. Fox Sports Radio and our affiliates are the true definition of a team.”
Obama Economic Policy, 2012 Presidential Race, Irene Aftermath/Global Warming and Libya Turmoil Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/29). President Obama’s plan to fix the ailing economy, the 2012 presidential race, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and global warming and the state of Libya as the Gaddhafi family flees were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.