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Mike Francesa’s A-Rod Interview Creates Media Blitzkrieg in NYC. When embattled New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez (lower right) stormed out of his grievance hearing with MLB officials and went straight to WFAN, New York’s Mike Francesa to kvetch to him, the New York City media reacted with such intense criticism of the broadcast that it only goes to cement Francesa’s standing as the most important sports broadcaster in town. Rodriguez left his MLB meeting regarding allegations of PED use and lashed out at the process and expressed his disdain for Commissioner Bud Selig. Local media outlets accused Francesa of being too easy on — or actually downright chummy with – A-Rod. But, Francesa maintains that he asked all the pertinent questions. He told Newsday, “I felt like I asked him every hard question you could possibly ask him. I don’t think there’s anything I could ask him about that wasn’t asked.” Regardless, it was the interview that every media outlet in town has been aching to get and WFAN’s Mike Francesa got it. As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison puts it, “It seems that the rest of the Big Apple media don’t ‘get it’ regarding the influence and success of Mike Francesa as a talk show host, as indicated by the extent to which they constantly bash, parody and even mock him. They judge him by their own often-hypocritical journalistic standards and don’t understand that by giving him so much attention – even as severe critics – they feed into the very process that makes Francesa so remarkably successful. It is downright comical how they accuse Francesa of being ‘used’ by A-Rod as some kind of media patsy or suck up when in fact it is they — in their fits of transparent jealousy — who are being used by both Francesa and A-Rod. Regardless of whether he does it consciously or inadvertently, Mike Francesa is a master talk show host of sports or any genre from which most others can learn a thing or two about taking ownership of your targeted turf.”
Eastlan Employs E-Surveys to Enhance Methodology. The 1999-formed Bellevue, Washington-based ratings firm will be augmenting current telephone-based methodology with “e-surveys,” which have been tested the past six months. E-surveys will be integrated into Eastlan’s standard methodology in all markets beginning next spring. ”E-surveys will not replace our current methodology but rather enhance it,” stresses chief technology officer Bert Hambleton. ”The portion of survey respondents recruited electronically will have the choice to participate via e-survey or through a callback on their cell phone.” Eastlan’s main reason to incorporate e-surveys was to increase participation among young radio listeners, and Hambleton states, “The process has worked very well.” During this year’s pilot e-survey project, Eastlan noticed wider participation among 12 – 49s; the most dramatic increase was in participation among 25 – 44s. Eastlan president/chief executive officer Mike Gould comments that, “It is incumbent upon ratings providers to reach a sample that is as representative of the local market composition as possible. Being able to recruit and survey electronically, in addition to our telephone based methodology, will absolutely improve the long-term viability of our affordable radio ratings service. Best of all, we can do so without raising our rates.” E-survey completion rates were slightly higher among women versus men.
The FCC’s Media Bureau Announces Comment Period Opens for AM Revitalization Proposal. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Revitalization of the AM Radio Service was published in the Federal Register yesterday and therefore the comment period is open through January 21 and reply comments must be filed by February 18. The Commission is seeking comment on a number of proposals designed to afford relief to AM broadcasters and to revitalize the AM radio band, and also is soliciting further proposals for revitalization of the AM radio service.
Odds & Sods. Salem Communications announces it will increase its quarterly dividend to shareholders by 5% making the payment $0.0550 per share to be disbursed on December 27…..There’s a whole lot of Matt Patrick hitting the airwaves next week. The KTRH and KPRC, Houston talk personality will be heard three times per day on Monday and Tuesday November 25 and 26. He’ll do his morning show on KTRH from 5:00 am to 8:00 am and his afternoon show on KPRC from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Then he sits in for KTRH-based syndicated host Michael Berry from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Marketing Firm CRN International Names Jim Alkon Marketing Director; Promotes Robert O’Mara. Radio marketing firm CRN International announces it names Jim Alkon marketing director, describing his mission “to extend the profile of the company among consumer brands and advertising agencies.” Most recently, Alkon was managing director of his own consulting firm Meetings and Media. At the same time, CRN ups Robert O’Mara to managing director, strategy and business development, and adds two new sales managers: Amanda Alvarez and Maureen Conlin who take the title associate director of strategy and business development. CRN International describes itself as a company, using the slogan, “We Use Radio Differently,” that extends “the boundaries of radio marketing beyond simple spot advertisements and has customized programs to meet specific business objectives. This has kept the award-winning company on marketing’s cutting edge for close to 40 years, serving prominent clients such as Microsoft, Chrysler, Sears, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Major League Baseball, HBO and Unilever.” President and founder Barry Berman states, “We will continue to be part of the conversation in social media, on our recently relaunched website and in tutorial and perspective pieces on how understanding a client’s very specific business objectives is the first step to developing the right customized marketing campaign. We have been able to employ radio in non-traditional ways to achieve results typically way beyond expectations.”
Buffalo Food Pantries Aided by Entercom Thanksgiving Promotion. Entercom Buffalo and the NHL‘s Buffalo Sabres teamed up earlier today (11/21, 7:00 am to 9:00 am) for a Thanksgiving turkey drive to benefit local food pantries. Any donor dropping off a turkey was given two tickets to an upcoming Sabres game, leading Entercom Buffalo operations manager Tim Wenger to comment, “The Sabres stepped up in a big way to help the community by donating the tickets to this cause; Entercom is honored to join the effort.” The event took place in the parking lot at the Entercom Buffalo offices. Tickets distributed there were for games against the Montreal Canadiens (11/27); New York Rangers (12/5); Ottawa Senators (12/10), and Winnipeg Jets (12/17). Entercom-owned sports outlet WGR is the Sabres’ flagship. The New York State cluster also includes news/talk WBEN; CHR WKSE “Kiss”; alternative WLKK; classic rock WLKK HD2 “The Lake”; adult contemporary WTSS “My Star”; sports WWKB; and rhythmic oldies WWWS “Solid Gold Soul.” All proceeds directly benefitted the Buffalo City Mission and the Food Bank of Western New York.
‘SuperTalk 99.7’ Goes Commercial Free for Rescue Mission Radiothon. Cumulus Media’s news/talk WWTN, Nashville “SuperTalk 99.7 WTN” will drop the spots on Monday, November 25 from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm during its annual Cumulus Nashville Radiothon to raise money for the Nashville Rescue Mission. WTN personality Michael Delgiorno will broadcast live on-site at the Nashville Rescue Mission from 7:30 am to 8:30 am. Cumulus VP and market manager Mike Carpenter states, “This radiothon gives the community an opportunity to give back into the community and really help change people’s lives. There are many ways to get involved with charities, but this one is unique because it’s not just about immediate needs. It helps restore their lives and overcome huge hardships. WTN’s listeners are very giving people who always go above and beyond our expectations in supporting the Mission. We look forward to exceeding our goal again this year.”
Miller’s Mission Kicks into Gear for the Holidays. KIDO, Boise morning drive personality Kevin Miller (center, holding the Chex) is surrounded by staffers at the Boise Rescue Mission and KTVB-TV weather anchor Larry Gebert (second from right) as Miller begins another year of “Miller’s Mission.” Miller is broadcasting from a local Walmart (and living there for an entire week) while collecting items to benefit the Boise Rescue Mission.
Tribune to Cut Roughly 700 Newspaper-Related Jobs. The tightening comes as Tribune plans to sell or spin off its publishing operations - which includes The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Hartford Courant - in order to concentrate more on television stations. In a memo yesterday (11/20), chief executive officer Peter Liguori informed staffers that the publishing operation’s business units will be organized “by function, rather than by geography.” Specifically, according to Liguori’s memo, “We must take better advantage of Tribune’s unique size and reach.” The goal, he wrote, is to “continue investing in the lifeblood of our business: best-in-class reporting, effective sales, and digital growth. Ensuring the long-term strength of our mastheads will, unfortunately, result in the selective reduction of our publishing staff.” Iconic Chicago talk outlet WGN is Tribune’s lone radio property.
ObamaCare Rollout Criticism, Obama Approval Ratings, UN Climate Talks, U.S.-Afghanistan Security Deal, and ‘Knockout’ Attacks Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/21). The scrutiny over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the government’s website; President Obama’s sinking approval ratings; the walkout of member nations at the United Nations climate talks; the shaky state of the proposal for Afghanistan’s security beyond 2014; and the rise in incidents of “knockout” game attacks were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Chris Miller
Chris Miller Digital
SHAKER HEIGHTS — “What’s the return on investment?” That’s one of the questions that’s regularly asked by businesses of all types, while trying to make sense of their place in social media. The more honest statement I hear is, “I know I need to be doing more with social media, but I don’t know what I should do.”
I see social media and content marketing make the needle move for businesses, but there’s one thing you have to do before you’ll see results with it: do it correctly.
The first step in doing it correctly is to come up with a plan. So, here are four steps to your new, effective social media strategy, especially designed for radio stations.
By Michael Harrison
Survival is already happening and it isn’t as much fun as it’s cracked up to be as a spectator sport on the Discovery Channel. In the reality show called terrestrial radio, sooner than later, survival will run out of gas. For terrestrial radio, “survival” is simply a slower form of imminent death.
It should be the goal of terrestrial radio to thrive in the digital era.
Thrive? Is that even possible?
SiriusXM Reports Revenue Up 13% in Q2; Net Subscribers Up 38%. The satellite radio company announced second quarter numbers yesterday and reports revenue for that period was $838 million – up 13% over the same period in 2011. Subscriber growth continues this year as the satcaster saw 463,000 self-pay net adds with the total adds for the year at around 1 million. As for the status between Liberty Media and Sirius – or more specifically, Mel Karmazin whose contract expires in December? Karmazin says his duty is clear, “I can assure you that our board and I are interested in trying to accomplish whatever Liberty wants to do as long as it’s in all of our shareholders’ best interests and that there is no issue involving Mel that has anything to do with the current conversations with Liberty at all. Regarding my contract, it doesn’t expire until the end of the year, and prior to the Q3 earnings call, prior to our next call I think the board and I will deal with it.” Liberty Media has been acquiring SiriusXM stock and holds about 46% of the shares. It has twice asked the FCC to declare it in “de facto control” of the company but the FCC has balked.
Saga Communications Has Stable Q2. Net operating revenue was up 0.7% for Saga Communications and station operating expense decreased 4.6% compared to the same period last year to $22 million. On the radio side, operating income from continuing operations for the second quarter of 2012 was $9.56 million – up from the $8.60 million reported for the same period in 2011.
Big Talent Shuffle in Boston; Local Hosts Out at Clear Channel News/Talker. There’s been a major re-alignment of syndicated talent in Boston and two local talk hosts – Jeff Katz and Jay Severin – are dropped from the program schedule at Clear Channel’s Talk 1200 (WXKS-AM). Almost 2 and ½ years ago, Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh left Entercom’s WRKO, Boston – one of his first major market affiliates after going into syndication from home base WABC, New York – to become the anchor of Clear Channel’s crosstown WXKS-AM – Talk 1200. Now, on August 21, Limbaugh returns to WRKO where management has remade the program schedule with tweaks that include current midday talk host Michele McPhee moving to AM drive alongside Todd Feinburg; current mid-morning host Barry Armstrong hosting “The Financial Exchange” from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and fill-in host and morning show contributor Jeff Kuhner now host of the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon program, “The Kuhner Report.” Additionally, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory returns to WRKO in the 1:00 am to 5:00 am slot from CC’s crosstown WXKS-AM. At Talk 1200, Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity now airs live in PM drive where Jay Severin was and Premiere’s “America Now with Andy Dean” is heard in AM drive in place of Jeff Katz. Regarding the elimination of the Katz and Severin shows, Clear Channel Boston’s Joe Mazzei tells TALKERS, “Unfortunately, these are never easy decisions to make. We appreciate their commitment and service to the station/company over the years, and we wish them all the best.” Mazzei would not comment specifically on the status of Talk 1200 program director Paula O’Connor citing privacy issues but it appears her job has also been eliminated. Katz tells TALKERS he can be reached at email@example.com.
Prime Time Continues to Be Trouble for CNN. Though CNN remains a top-of-mind brand for Americans seeking breaking news coverage, its prime time talk-oriented programming is suffering persistent ratings problems. Deadline Hollywood’s Dominic Patten writes that the cable news/talk network hit a 20-year low in the Nielsen ratings during the week of July 30 – August 5. “‘Piers Morgan Tonight’ at 9:00 pm averaged 314,000 viewers overall, with a mere 81,000 in the 25-54 demo, according to Nielsen. That average is the lowest week Morgan has had since he took over Larry King’s spot on January 17, 2011. During the same time slot over on Fox News, Sean Hannity averaged 1,749,000 total viewers and 324,000 in the 25-54 demo. On MSNBC, the Rachel Maddow show averaged 933,000 total viewers that week, with 271,000 in the key demo.” Patten goes on to note, “‘Anderson Cooper 360’ at 8:00 pm averaged 349,000 viewers for the week, also with 81,000 in the demo. Cooper’s 10:00 pm repeat had 97,000 among the 25-54 demo, the sixth lowest the network has had in two decades, but a slight 259,000 average total viewers for the week. That averaged total viewership was the lowest 10:00 pm weekday hour CNN has had in 20 years.”
ESPN New York 98.7 Adds Bill Parcells Appearance to Michael Kay Show. Legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells will make a weekly appearance on WEPN, New York’s Michael Kay show every Thursday at 4:00 pm beginning September 6. The station is also expanding the role of Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath whose “Joe Namath Report” fills a whole hour of the Michael Kay show on Mondays at 6:00 pm during the season. New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will appear every Monday at 5:15 exclusively on Kay’s program as well. WEPN VP/GM Dave Roberts says, “We’re focused on serving New York sports fans with the best in news and analysis. The opportunity to work with someone like Bill Parcells allows us to deliver unique insight to our listeners. We’re also thrilled to bring football to fans on the FM dial. We anticipate a very exciting fall between our extensive list of weekly contributors and our complete coverage of both the Jets and Giants.”
Fox Sports Daybreak at Dolphins Camp. “Fox Sports Daybreak” co-hosts Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins are pictured here interviewing Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long at Dolphins Training camp in Davie, Florida. HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series is following the Dolphins this season and invited the Fox Sports Radio morning program to take part in the camp. During the two-day broadcast, Furman and Hawkins brought listeners an up-close look at NFL training camps, and talked to Long, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin and NFL super-agent Drew Rosenhaus.
WRKO Tea Party. Some of the air staff of the new lineup at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston pose for a photo during a remote broadcast of the Howie Carr show from the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. It was at Monday’s remote broadcast that the station announced its new program schedule, including the return of Rush Limbaugh to the station. Pictured here are (from l-r): PM drive host Howie Carr; AM drive co-hosts Michele McPhee and Todd Feinburg; morning show producer Bill Cooksey; and Howie Carr show producer Nancy Shack.
Magic Matt Alan’s and Shadoe Stevens’ OutLaw Radio Enters Partnership with RadioLoyalty. Radio legends Magic Matt Alan and Shadoe Stevens are partnering with internet radio firm RadioLoyalty to distribute their “OutLaw Radio” 24–hour radio channel. The programming is billed as “a non-stop, high-energy party featuring celebrity and would-be celebrity guests gathered together by radio legends Magic Matt Alan and Shadoe Stevens. It’s talk radio and irreverent humor broadcast from an 1876 Virginia City, Nevada-style Bar in the Hills of Encino, California.” The RadioLoyalty website says, “The network is a spin-off of the original Outlaw Radio ‘show’ — on the air non-stop for more than a decade – and is the brainchild of Magic Matt Alan. Alan was joined three years ago by radio legend Shadoe Stevens, who loved the show and helped expand the brand. He built the programming into a seven day a week, 24 hour radio channel…For more than 10 years, Matt and a roving cast of characters – The Demons of Decadence – have laughed their way through and around some of the most interesting celebrities on the planet with the slogan: ‘We smoke, we drink, we interrupt.’” The programming can be found at RadioLoyalty.com beginning August 11.
Fleetwood Mac Co-Producer Ken Caillat Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Iconic Album with Book and Press Tour. The co-producer of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album is available for radio interviews. Ken Caillat was co-producer for the record that went on to become the third best-selling album of all time and tells all the stories of the making of the record in his new book, Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album (Wiley 2012). The publisher states, “Ken recalls experiences from an era of excess, that include the endless partying, relationship dramas and creative struggles that ensued, while writing and recording these classic tracks, “You Make Loving Fun,” “Don’t Stop,” “Go Your Own Way,” “The Chain,” among others.” Caillat is available for interviews. Contact Samantha Schipman at Howard Rosen Promotion at 704-249-3951.
Presidential Election, Wisconsin Sikh Shooting Aftermath, London Olympics, and Mars Landing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/7). The campaign for president in the 2012 elections; the aftermath of the deadly shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; the 2012 London Olympics; and the landing of the rover Curiosity on Mars were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Judge to Approve Tribune’s Exit from Bankruptcy; Oaktree Capital Plays Major Role. The private equity firm that also backs Townsquare Media and Dial Global will be part of a group of creditors that will bring Tribune Company out of bankruptcy pending the revision of some of the reorganization plans. Judge Kevin Carey overruled the objections of some of Tribune’s creditors in approving the deal to end the bankruptcy protection that began three-and-a-half years ago and the emergence from which is expected to take several months. Also involved are JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Angelo Gordon & Co. There had been speculation that the company may be broken apart, with the publishing arm separated from the broadcasting division that owns 23 television stations and its lone radio property – WGN, Chicago – but that remains speculation as there does not appear to be a plan to sell anything just yet. The FCC must still approve the transfer of the TV and radio licenses.
Public Radio’s “The Takeaway” Ends Morning Drive Run in September. The show that was designed to be a younger-skewing alternative to NPR’s “Morning Edition” will move out of the AM drive daypart, trim down to one hour and be heard in the mid-mornings beginning in September. The show is a collaboration between WNYC, New York and Public Radio International. According to The Current, the show – hosted by John Hockenberry and Celeste Headlee – has 55 affiliate stations with another 15 carrying it on digital multi-cast channels. Due to the fact that it’s live and produced in New York, the show has had a tough time getting West Coast affiliates because it doesn’t seem as fresh several hours later. Beginning September 3, the one-hour version of the show will feed live at 9:00 am ET.
ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike Debut Weekly NFL Show on ESPN. The morning drive duo of Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic (whose radio network show is also simulcast on ESPN2) will host a weekly football show for ESPN beginning Tuesday, September 11 at 3:00 pm ET called, “Mike & Mike’s Best of the NFL.” It’s a 30-minute program that features highlights from the previous week’s NFL games. ESPN says the duo will “count down the top passes, runs, catches, blocks, defensive plays and other categories from around the league. The show will offer footage that NFL fans have not seen in other highlight packages throughout the weekend.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Talk show host Joe Crummey (WABC, KFI, KABC, KFYI) sits in for Cumulus Media’s Geraldo Rivera on KABC, Los Angeles both this week and next. He’ll do it from New York next week as he’s also filling in for the WABC, New York show (Geraldo’s heard on both stations) July 23-25…..Shawn Wheat takes an anchor/reporter post with Morris Communications’ KIBW, Topeka and the Kansas Information Network.
Former Opie & Anthony Show Executuve Producer Steve Carlisi Dies. There are not a lot of details about the passing of Steve Carlisi, but the former executive producer of SiriusXM’s Opie & Anthony show is dead, leaving behind a wife and son. Carlisi was let go by SiriusXM from his producer role in 2010 in a round of budget cuts. Most recently he had worked at Shamrock Communications’ WEZX, Wilkes Barre/Scranton. He also served as a producer for the Danny Bonaduce show when it aired at WYSP, Philadelphia.
Programmer Paul Duckworth Returns to Seattle to Lead Fisher’s KOMO. News/talk programming pro Paul Duckworth returns to the Emerald City, where he formerly led the programming department at Fisher Communications’ KOMO and KVI, to once again head up news radio KOMO. He left Seattle in 2002 and programmed several other stations including KLIF, Dallas and WMAL, Washington, DC. He begins his duties at KOMO on April 16 at the station that features morning and afternoon news blocks surrounding local talk hosts John Carlson in late mornings and Ken Schram in early afternoons. Duckworth spent the last year in retirement in Florida.
Keith Olbermann Promises Legal Action as Tumultuous Term with Current TV Comes to an End. Reports of mercurial news/talk TV personality Keith Olbermann’s contentious relationship with management at Al Gore-founded Current TV have been coming out for some time and, despite recent assurances via press releases that everything between the two sides is fine, Current TV has cut the cord and let Olbermann go, replacing him with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and his new show “Viewpoints.” Current TV had hoped that Olbermann’s “Countdown” show – brought over after his departure from MSNBC – would be the anchor program around which the network could build, but after just nine months the relationship was too strained to continue. Current TV released the following statement on Friday, March 30: “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before. Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.” Olbermann has fired back via Twitter and is promising legal action. He states, in part: “I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract…In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.”
Rush Limbaugh Reports Audience Hikes. During his nationally syndicated Premiere Networks show last week, Rush Limbaugh broke format briefly to talk about his ratings in the wake of the Sandra Fluke controversy. He stated that he usually doesn’t talk about ratings but because of the high-profile assault on his program’s advertisers (and others’) he felt compelled to report ratings were up at all 600 of his affiliates. The Daily Caller reports Limbaugh stated, “The simple answer is that on the range of all 600 radio stations, our ratings are up anywhere from 10% to 60%, depending on the station…And that’s as detailed as I’m going to get…What I mean by that is we could be up 33% on one station, 12% on another – 60% is the top that we’re up on another. We’re up 50% in a number of places.” The increased interest in Limbaugh’s program was predicted by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison as numerous consumer media outlets quoted TALKERS in covering the unfolding story. Addressing the advertiser issue, Limbaugh also stated, “The advertisers who hung in here are going gangbusters, yes. I mean, that’s the simple truth. The only ones who got hurt are the ones who left. And that’s its own tragedy because they left under false, trumped up, unreal pretenses.”
Another Casualty of the Clear Channel Cuts: Cincinnati Programmer Tony Bender. Program director Tony Bender had been with the Cincinnati cluster of stations since it was owned by Great American Broadcasting in the late 1980s. Until Friday he was serving as program director of talk WKRC and sports WCKY. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports other staffers let go in the latest round of cuts included promotions director Sherry Rowland, traffic reporter Brian Pitts and two other off-air employees.
Coming Tomorrow: The FCC and You – Part 2 - An Explanation of Obscenity. Don’t miss the second in a series of exclusive TALKERS articles by legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman covering the crucial FCC 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 a forthcoming expanded e-book) and share it with their management teams. Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon. In tomorrow’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the FCC’s position on obscenity.
Battle for Control of SiriusXM Is Brewing. Liberty Media Corp has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM, setting the stage for a battle between Liberty’s John Malone and SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin. Malone’s Liberty Media came to the rescue of SiriusXM three years ago with a cash investment of $530 million when the satcaster needed it most. Now, Liberty’s filing is being contested by SiriusXM as it asks the FCC to “dismiss or deny” the petition. Liberty Media only owns 40% of the company and, though there is precedent for a minority shareholder taking control, it’s not common and many deal watchers are quick to doubt that the FCC will grant even “de facto” control to a minority shareholder. Liberty is arguing that certain provisions of the Investment Agreement inked in 2009 have expired and should result in a takeover. But again, numerous experts in the field of corporate takeovers are saying the Liberty FCC filing is unlikely to result in a control change. Most say if Liberty wants control over SiriusXM it is going to have to acquire more shares the old-fashioned way: Buy them.
Cumulus Media Splits Simulcast of Sports WWLS, Oklahoma City; ESPN Radio Takes Over AM Side. The “Sports Animal” radio network continues to be led by flagship WWLS-FM, Oklahoma City with programming sent to six affiliate stations in five Oklahoma markets, but the AM side of WWLS has split off to broadcast ESPN Radio’s programming lineup. The Oklahoman reports the AM station will continue to air Oklahoma City Thunder play-by-play as well as Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State pre- and post-game programming.
Dan McNeil Set to Return to WSCR, Chicago After Month-long Absence. It’s been a bit over a month since midday co-host Dan McNeil took time off from his program at CBS Radio’s sports talk WSCR, Chicago (co-hosted with Matt Spiegel) for unspecified health issues. He recently announced on his Facebook page that he’s ready to return on April 9 and thanked family and friends for their support, assuring them he’s feeling better. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports that McNeil’s health issues were not disclosed but that colleagues have alluded to McNeil’s struggles with sobriety.
KFI, Los Angeles Management Meets with Black Activists; Promises Plan to Address Staff Diversity. KFI, Los Angeles afternoon drive duo John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou returned to the air this week after a seven-day suspension for insensitive language about Whitney Houston. Clear Channel Los Angeles management – as well as John and Ken themselves – met with a group of black activists to discuss the situation and, according to the Los Angeles Times, KFI is promising to devise a plan to address the station’s lack of diversity. Activist Jasmyne Cannick tells the paper, “KFI has 14 shows, and 13 of them are hosted by white men. There are no blacks in their newsroom. This fosters an environment where insensitive comments like this can happen. And they are not living up to Clear Channel’s statement of a commitment to diversity.” Management didn’t speak to the Times but local activist Najee Ali seems convinced the station is sincere about addressing their concerns. The Times quotes him saying, “The station pledged to make substantive changes in diversity. They are trying to build a bridge. John and Ken really want to put this behind them and move forward. Their voices are needed in Southern California and they have done some good things. We can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.”
Entercom Reports 7% Drop in Revenue in 2011 Q4; FM Flips a Factor. During a conference call yesterday announcing Entercom Communications’ financial numbers for the fourth quarter of 2011, CEO David Field referred to his company’s station portfolio as having gone through some pretty big changes in the last 12 months with seven format changes – three in two of the company’s biggest markets. Of course he’s talking about blowing up San Francisco’s country KBWF-FM to create that market’s FM sports talk outlet as well as the changes in Boston to give sports WEEI an FM signal. Also, news/talker KMBZ, Kansas City and WBEN, Buffalo were given FM signals at the expense of music FMs. All this means an immediate loss of revenue that the company hopes will be paid back in time. In a statement, Field said, “These moves significantly enhance our future growth potential and are expected to contribute positively to revenue growth commencing in the second quarter. However, they diluted our fourth quarter revenues by 4%. Excluding political and stations reformatted in 2011, fourth quarter revenues were flat. We are optimistic on 2012 growth, bolstered by improving economic conditions, accelerating performance from newly reformatted stations and political advertising. And we are highly encouraged by strong industry fundamentals as innovation accelerates, audience usage trends remain outstanding and radio remains the most cost-effective major advertising medium.”
MSNBC Beats CNN in February Prime Time Ratings. CNN has been working to re-tool its programming to gain back some of the viewers it has been losing but the cable news/talk channel was not able to pull out a victory over competitor MSNBC in February despite the intense GOP primary election season – including a Republican debate – and the death of Whitney Houston. According to TVWeek, MSNBC averaged 988,000 total viewers during prime time in February to CNN’s 804,000.
Schnitt Happens in Detroit. Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt is pictured here in the studios at affiliate station WXYT, Detroit broadcasting live on Tuesday (2/28) as Michigan Republicans went to the polls to vote in the primary election. Detroit was one of Schnitt’s key stops on the road to the Republican National Convention which will take place in Tampa the week of August 27. Schnitt’s program is based at WFLA, Tampa from which he will bring his listeners a full-access pass.
Cumulus Media Networks Touts Affiliation Surge for “Red Eye Radio.” Since changing the tone of the program through the merger of “Red Eye Radio” with the “Midnight Radio Network” hosted by Eric Harley and Gary McNamara, Cumulus Media Networks reports it has added 22 new affiliates to the station’s roster. With major market O&Os WLS, Chicago and WMAL-AM/FM, Washington leading the pack, the network also reports stations including KCMO, Kansas City; WPRO/WEAN-FM, Providence; WGOW-FM, Chattanooga; and KKOB, Albuquerque have picked up the overnight talk show.
WDBO, Orlando Brings Mel Robbins Aboard for Live Midday Show. Cox Media Group’s WDBO, Orlando notes it will be the first time in 11 years the station will have a local weekday talk host when Mel Robbins takes over the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot, bumping Dial Global’s Clark Howard to the 10:00 pm to 1:00 am shift. Robbins hosts the A&E cable show “Monster in Law” and worked for five years as a public defender in Manhattan. The station says when Robbins isn’t doing her radio show or filming for TV she “travels around the country on speaking engagements for Fortune 500 companies. Robbins has appeared with Dr. Phil discussing her life coaching skills and is a regular on Anderson Cooper’s daytime program, ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ a bestselling author, and more.” Robbins’ program will originate from her rural Massachusetts farm but will make frequent trips to Orlando.
Cumulus Gives Myrtle Beach Sports FM Better Signal; Splits AM Simulcast Off. Cumulus Media Group is moving 93.9 The Team (WJXY-FM) to the 100.3 dial position currently occupied by CHR i100.3 (WSEA-FM) beginning March 5. There are programming changes as well. The station becomes ESPN Radio 100.3 and takes the ESPN programming with it as well as the local PM drive show hosted by Aaron Marks. He’s the sports director and will be charged with programming the station. The other change is the AM simulcast on WHSC splits off and becomes Fox Sports Radio 1050. That station will air DirecTV/Premiere Networks’ Dan Patrick live, Premiere’s Jim Rome, Fox Sports Radio programming and play-by-play sports including minor league baseball. WJXY-FM is in a trust to be sold. It’s still unclear if Cumulus will simply move the CHR format over to 93.9 while that signal is on the market. Aaron Marks says of the moves, “We are thrilled with the addition of Fox Sports Radio to our cluster of stations. If there has been one complaint about our station I have heard since I started here last July, it is that Dan Patrick is a great show but doesn’t sound good unless it runs live. The additional station will also allow us to provide the proper coverage to all of our local and regional colleges and professional teams. Every team can have a place to call home for all of their games and we’ll be able to add even more play-by-play than ever before at the high school, college, and pro level.”
Salem Radio Network Talk Star Mike Gallagher Broadcasts Live from WHK, Cleveland. In the wake of the tragic deaths of three high school students in the Cleveland suburb of Chardon, Mike Gallagher traveled to Salem Communications’ O&O WHK, Cleveland to broadcast his program live from the area on Tuesday. Gallagher railed against the news that the suspected shooter was bullied. “That’s ridiculous, in my view, to go down this path, of suggesting that bullying is somehow to blame. It might be part of the story, it might be part of the narrative. It might be factual. This kid’s some freak, who’s a goth who acts weird and is anti-social and he’s gonna get picked on. Well, welcome to the real world…please don’t pretend that the kids who can’t handle it, who say they’re bullied, and therefore have to go get a gun and blow kids brains out somehow aren’t evil. That IS evil. E-v-i-l. They are evil monsters who frankly ought to be executed for what they’ve done. This kid ought to face the death penalty for his cold-blooded acts of violence.”
Business TalkRadio Network Announces New Daily Schedule. Beginning March 5, Business TalkRadio Network adjusts its afternoon schedule with the addition of “The Big Biz Show” with Bob “Sully” Sullivan airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET; “Catalyst Radio Show” from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm; and the Tom O’Brien show from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. President and CEO Michael Metter states, “Sometimes in life things work out for a reason and this is truly one of those reasons. We are proud about Bob ‘Sully’ Sullivan coming back to BTRN and even more so that he is anchoring our midday block. With ‘Catalyst Radio’ our partners will truly embrace this Superman of the business world along with Tom O’Brien, a seasoned pro in the financial world. You’ve seen them on many of the national television news outlets now experience them on your radio stations through Business TalkRadio Network.”
Virginia Tech and WJFK-FM, Washington Renew Multi-Year Deal. CBS Radio’s Washington, DC sports talk outlet WJFK-FM and Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network strike a deal that will see Hokies football and men’s basketball play-by-play on the station’s schedule through the 2014-15 season. The deal also includes airing of the weekly “Tech Talk Live” show featuring the school’s football and basketball coaches.
Ohio School Shooting Fatalities Grow, GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Rising Gas Prices, and Government Waste Report Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/28). The fatal Ohio high school shooting; the Michigan and Arizona primaries and the larger 2012 presidential race; rising gas prices and Iran’s role; and the new report of redundant government programs and the money they are wasting were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Dave Ramsey Helps Celebrate 90 Years for WOR, New York. Nationally syndicated financial talk sensation Dave Ramsey broadcast his program live from the Big Apple on February 27 – the first day his show aired live on WOR, New York’s program lineup. WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley says, “Rarely in life, even as broadcasters, do we get the opportunity to affect the lives of many in one fell swoop. Well, WOR is doing just that by airing the advice and wisdom of the great Dave Ramsey daily, in our coveted 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot on 710am. At a time when the entire Tri-State area is stressed and in need of help with their finances, WOR comes to the rescue with Dave’s sage knowledge and direction which can, and has, changed the lives of many for the positive. We are blessed to have him.” While there, Ramsey helped WOR celebrate its 90th anniversary on the air. Pictured here (from l-r) are WOR personalities Joe Bartlett, Dr. Joy Browne, Ramsey, Joan Hamburg and Dave Spencer.