Johnny Donovan Retires from WABC, New York. Capping a WABC, New York career that goes back to 1972, legend Johnny Donovan is retiring from the Cumulus Media-owned news/talk station. He’s been handling daily announcing and production director duties at WABC. In a press release announcing his retirement, the company notes that Donovan was a music jock during the influential WABC top 40 era. When the station flipped to talk in 1982, he remained on as staff announcer and production director – a position he held for more than 30 years. An amateur radio operator in his youth, Donovan became a DJ on WHVW in Hyde Park, New York after helping build the station in 1963. He went on to work at radio stations in Kingston (WBAZ) and Binghamton (WENE), New York, with a stop at Atlantic City, New Jersey’s WMID. In 1968, Donovan arrived in New York City as an overnight music host on WOR-FM. Four years later, Donovan brought his talent to the AM band and WABC. Cumulus SVP content and programming Mike McVay states, “Johnny Donovan was THE sound of 77 WABC. He joins the ranks of legends like Don Pardo, Ed McMahon and Ernie Anderson. His production and imaging skills are legendary. He will be missed at WABC, but more than that, he will be missed in our industry.” Donovan will continue to be heard as the voice of the Rush Limbaugh show – a position that he’s held since 1988 – and will continue his own voice-over business.
Goodbye, Mr. Letterman. And Thanks! Philadelphia morning drive personality Chris Stigall says farewell to his professional inspiration in a column published at TALKERS today (5/20). Tonight will air the final new episode of “Late Night with David Letterman” and the WPHT, Philadelphia talk host shares his personal admiration — perhaps even obsession – with one of the undisputed legends of late night talk television. In the piece, Stigall explains his attraction to Letterman as a performer. “I was a high school kid with big dreams of hosting his own show one day, but never felt like I was attractive or popular enough to make it. David Letterman taught me there’s something very good, right, and rewarding about being an individual. The more I watched and read about Letterman, the more fixated I became. Not just his comedy – which I loved. It was his ‘damn the torpedoes’ approach to this hallowed thing called television. It was everyday people from his shows’ staff cast in bits. It was random souvenir shop and deli owners turning into unintentional comedy stars.” Read Stigall’s entire piece here.
Creative Promotions Lead to New Sales. Radio marketing pro Al Herskovitz writes in a column published today that a radio sales pro worth his or her salt should never overlook the value of a creative radio promotion to solidify current clients and attract new ones. He says commonplace ticket giveaways and the like are fine but do little to make a client’s goods or services memorable, and such prizes usually go to station P1s anyway. How about having your morning host attempt to give a lion a bath? Sound too dangerous? Read Herskovitz’s entire column here for the details and his thoughts about using the promotion as a sales tool.
Bold Gold Foundation Inaugural Event Draws Hundreds. The inaugural fundraising and awards event for the Bold Gold Broadcast and Media Foundation took place over the weekend at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Northeast Pennsylvania and drew hundreds of supporters who gathered to cheer on and support the organization’s efforts to help prepare tomorrow’s broadcast and media leaders. The Foundation celebrated broadcast radio’s legacy, while positioning to help lead the effort to bring new recruits into the news and talk ranks. Bold Gold president Vince Benedetto laid out the Foundation’s mission, explaining, “Broadcast radio continues to be the modern day town square where the news and issues of our times are related, debated and discussed in communities across America. The power of this medium, now amplified and synergized with the power of mobile and social media, can be positioned to influence the local and national narratives in more powerful ways than ever before. Our work will be focused on helping the best and brightest get the education and resources they need to write the next chapters of communication history.” Honored at the event was Northeast Pennsylvania entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Tambur. He was presented the 2015 Atlas Award for Citizenship. Benedetto says Tambur is “an example of someone who builds and creates, sees problems and boldly sets out to fix them. He shows what is possible to achieve in a free society and is the standard by which all future recipients will be measured.” Special guest speaker, citizen-journalist James O’Keefe of Project Veritas, provided a riveting audio and video presentation showing his past and ongoing efforts to expose corruption and hypocrisy in government and media. Benedetto says, “James shows what just one person, armed with the courage to report the truth is able to accomplish.” The event was emceed by David Madeira, morning show host of Bold Gold’s Scranton-based talk station, WTRW “94.3 The Talker.”
Odds & Sods. An extension of the affiliation deal just completed between ABC Radio News and Tribune’s WGN-AM, Chicago includes an expansion of shared editorial resources in the Chicago market. Simultaneously, WGN’s Ryan Burrow will be a contributor to ABC News Radio and report from Chicago and around the country. ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones comments, “Ryan Burrow is a talented, award-winning reporter who understands how to tell stories that capture an audience’s interest. Through ABC News Radio’s expanded partnership with WGN, Ryan will cover stories of interest to our national audience from across the Midwest region and around the country.”…..Washington-based political consultant Raynard Jackson sits in for Roland Martin on his nationally syndicated radio show “News One Now” airing from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm ET…..Joe Ligotti is named morning host at WMEX, Boston, replacing the syndicated “Dr. K Show.”
Dee Snider Podcast to Launch on PodcastOne. Musician and media personality Dee Snider is debuting a new, weekly podcast called, “Snider Comments,” on the PodcastOne Network. The program promises to “pull back the curtain on the world of rock and expose the raw and untold stories of current and past rock ‘n’ roll superstars.” PodcastOne CEO Norm Pattiz states, “This is the latest music insider podcast on the PodcastOne Network. There are plenty of places for consumers to listen to their favorite music, but very few to get a more personal, behind-the-scenes view from the artists that live in that world every day. Dee is not only a rock star and an icon, he’s a great personality and a terrific communicator. I couldn’t be more pleased to have him on our network.”
Jim Rome Visits Portland’s KXTG-AM. Appearing in the Portland market from affiliate KXTG-AM “750 & 102.9 The Game” was CBS Sports Radio’s Jim Rome. He hosted his national syndicated sports talk show from Alpha Media’s SKYPE LIVE STUDIO on Friday, May 15. Guests joining Rome in the studio included Oregon Ducks head football coach Mark Helfrich, Portland Trailblazers president Chris McGowan, and Fox Sports analyst Joey Harrington. Pictured here (from l-r) are: Alpha Portland SVP/GM Milt McConnell, KXTG-AM promotions director Derek House, Rome, and KXTG-AM program director Mike Ragz.
Hillary Clinton Email Controversy, Stephanopoulos Clinton Donation Scandal, 2016 Presidential Prospects, ISIS Takes Ramadi, California Oil Spill, N. Korea Nuke Threats, Saudi Beheadings Controversy, and ‘Deflategate’ Matter Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/19). The ongoing talk of Hillary Clinton’s private emails that are alleged to have been used for State Department business; the scandal involving George Stephanopoulos’ donations to the Clinton Family Foundation; the potential candidates for president in 2016 including talk of Democrat Martin O’Malley officially entering the race; the taking of Ramadi, Iraq by ISIS; the coastal California oil spill; North Korea’s saber-rattling and talk of its new nuclear technology; the increase in beheadings in Saudi Arabia; and the latest on the NFL’s “Deflategate” case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Releases Q1 Financials: CCM+E Up 2%. This morning Clear Channel released financial data for the first quarter of 2014 and the Clear Channel Media + Entertainment group – radio stations, Premiere Networks, Total Traffic + Weather, iHeartRadio and related live events – saw income rise 2% compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company says “Media + Entertainment revenue rose $14 million, or 2% compared to the same period of 2013, driven primarily by higher revenues at our traffic and weather business reflecting new product offerings and the impact of strategic sales initiatives, as well as higher national sales fueled by growth in the telecommunications, healthcare and automotive categories, and higher digital advertising revenue benefitting from an increase in total listening hours on our iHeartRadio platform. Partially offsetting these revenue gains was a decline in our local revenues. Operating expenses were up $26 million during the first quarter of 2014 versus the same period in 2013, due primarily to higher compensation expenses driven by investments in our national and digital sales forces, and increased production costs for events such as the iHeartRadio Country Music Festival, as well as greater digital streaming and performance rights expenses driven by increased total listening hours and revenues. OIBDAN decreased $13 million, or 6%, to $200 million in the first quarter of 2014.”
WPHT Personalities to Debate GOP Party, Conservative Movement Future. The WPHT, Philadelphia “Talk Radio 1210” air staff will be together on the same stage for the very first time today (Thursday, 4/24) at 5:00 pm to participate in “Super Talk Debate” at Victory Beer Hall’s XFinity Live in South Philadelphia. Personalities Dom Giordano, Dick Morris, Gary R’nel, Chris Stigall, and Rich Zeoli will discuss/debate subjects such as the future of social issues in American politics; foreign policy intervention; the GOP’s view on marijuana legalization; and how Republicans can win the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016. The format will be presidential debate style. Each participant will be at a podium, make opening and closing statements, and answer questions from the audience and moderator Larry Kane. Rick Grimaldi and Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli will host the post-debate show at 6:30 pm. By voting online, listeners will decide the winner. Voting will continue until next Monday (4/28) at 5:00 pm when Morris and R’Nel will announce the results.
Wilkes-Barre Radio Personality Bud Brown Retires from WILK. Longtime Wilkes-Barre radio pro Bud Brown calls it a career after signing off from Entercom’s news/talk WILK-AM/FM yesterday morning (4/23) after 40 years on the air. PAHomepage.com reports Brown is a native whose career began in New Jersey before he returned home to work at WBRE and then WILK. Brown tells the site, “I got along with all my coworkers. I respected them. I felt mutual respect returning and I think that more than anything else is what I treasure most about all the things about all the days on the air.”
Nielsen Reports Positive First Quarter; Revenue Up 12.9%. That figure is compared to the same period a year ago on revenue of $1.49 billion. Nielsen Holdings N.V. chief executive officer Mitch Barns says, “Nielsen delivered a solid first quarter. Our underlying business performance, which was marked by broad-based revenue growth and strong profitability, was enhanced by the ongoing successful integration of Arbitron. Our clear focus on the key business priorities of our diverse global client base continues to produce steady and consistent results while delivering long-term value for our shareholders.” The company reports that free cash flow for the first quarter of 2014 increased to $13 million from -$15 million in the first quarter of 2013 and cash flow from operations increased to $90 million in the first quarter of 2014 from $54 million in first quarter of 2013. The increases were driven by stronger operating performance and favorable interest payments.
Rover’s Legal Team to Call Howard Stern as Witness in Cleveland Case. When WMMS, Cleveland morning show host Shane “Rover” French appears in court on May 20 to defend himself against 13 charges – including attempted felonious assault, inducing panic and resisting arrest – his lawyer is calling Howard Stern as a witness, according to Fox 8 Cleveland. It’s not clear why Stern would be a relevant witness or if he’ll even appear. Co-host Michael Toomey, a.k.a. Chocolate Charlie, was arrested along with French during the incident that took place over the 2013 Fourth of July holiday weekend in which an off-duty police officer claims French and Toomey shot off illegal fireworks, refused requests to stop, assaulted him and more.
Media World A-Twitter Over FFC ‘Net Neutrality’ Plans. The chatter got so intense over reports about what today’s announcement by the FCC regarding its new open Internet rules will be that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler issued the following statement to counter speculation. “There are reports that the FCC is gutting the Open Internet rule. They are flat out wrong. Tomorrow we will circulate to the Commission a new Open Internet proposal that will restore the concepts of net neutrality consistent with the court’s ruling in January. There is no ‘turnaround in policy.’ The same rules will apply to all Internet content. As with the original Open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.” What got people so uptight? Numerous sources – including the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Fox News and others – say today’s announcement will propose that content companies be allowed to pay for faster delivery over the so-called “last mile” connection to people’s homes. The Associated Press writes, “The new rules are meant to replace the FCC’s open Internet order from 2010, which was struck down by a federal appeals court in January. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed that the FCC had the authority to create open-access rules but said it failed to establish that its 2010 regulations didn’t overreach. While the older rules technically allowed for paid priority treatment, it was discouraged. The new rules spell out standards that such deals would have to meet to be considered ‘commercially reasonable’ and are designed to survive a court challenge in the future. Under the proposed rules, if such a deal for priority access were challenged, the commission would look at its impact on competition, on consumers, on free speech and civic engagement, and whether a broadband provider was acting in good faith.”
The Next Generation(s). At the Cox Media Group Houston office, the sound of the pitter-patter of little feet could be heard as staffers brought their progeny to work for the annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.” Altogether, 18 young people (pictured here with some of the parents), ranging from 2 ½ to 13 years of age came to work on Thursday (4/24) to follow their parents on a typical day. Well, a mostly typical day, as activities were planned for every age group. The kids will learn to record a commercial, use their voices for station on-air promotions, participate in social media postings, and see inside the studio as the DJs broadcast live. The daylong activities will be mixed in with some fun as well, including a pizza party for lunch, a dance-off with the digital department, and if activities are too much, “Frozen” will be shown in the afternoon so everyone can take a break from it all. Cox Houston VP and market manager Mark Krieschen says, “This is our first year to implement the program in Houston. I can already feel the excitement in the air as the kids are making themselves right at home.”
Russian Aggression in Ukraine/Obama vs Putin, 2016 Presidential Race-Mid Term Elections, the FCC and Net Neutrality, President Obama’s Asia Visit, and U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/23). Russia’s involvement in the unrest in Ukraine and analysis of President Obama’s handling of Vladimir Putin; speculation about candidates in the 2016 presidential election and the looming mid-term elections this year; controversy over the FCC’s “open internet” policy to be announced today; President Obama’s visit to Asian nations excluding China; and the state of al Qaeda after U.S. drone strikes on terrorist targets in Yemen were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Rush Limbaugh’s ‘Cure-A-Thon’ Raises $3 Million-plus for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Last Friday (4/11), Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Rush Limbaugh held his annual “Cure-A-Thon” to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the show-long effort helped raise more than $3 million for the cause. The annual event is executed in a relatively low-profile manner, that is, without a lot of promotion outside of Limbaugh’s program. The large amount of money raised is indicative of the loyal and generous nature of his audience. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, who listened to the entire program, comments, “Limbaugh did a masterful job of not simply asking for contributions, but educating his listeners about the diseases of blood cancer and the progress that is being made in finding the cure. It was compelling radio. Add to that his skill in weaving into the flow of the show other topics of the day from ObamaCare to his contrarian take on the selection of Colbert to replace Letterman and it was quite apparent that after all these years he is still an extraordinarily skilled talk broadcaster.”
Don Bouloukos to Retire from CBS RADIO New York. After 16 years with CBS RADIO and a career that spans 41 years, CBS RADIO New York senior vice president and market manager Don Bouloukos announces he’s retiring from the company effective June of this year. Bouloukos first joined CBS RADIO in 1998 following the acquisition of American Radio Systems Inc. where he was co-chief operating officer. Bouloukos comments, “It is never an easy decision to leave an industry you love, and a company and cluster of stations that have been such an important part of your life. But after 41 years, it is time.” Current CBS RADIO executive vice president, operations, Scott Herman will take over for Bouloukos and add supervision of the New York cluster to his duties. The CBS RADIO New York group consists of all-news WCBS-AM, classic hits WCBS-FM, sports talker WFAN-AM/FM, all-news WINS-AM, CHR WNOW-FM and hot AC WWFS-FM. Bouloukos continues, “I’ve been very fortunate to work for a company that allows you to operate stations as if they were your own and I take great pride in what we have been able to accomplish over the years. Working with Dan Mason and Scott Herman has been an absolute pleasure. My only regret is that I am not 21 years old and starting all over again.”
KXL, Portland Names Val Stouffer News Anchor. Radio news pro Val Stouffer joins Alpha Broadcasting’s Portland news/talker KXL “FM NEWS 101.” The station reports that Stouffer will be part of the “Portland’s Afternoon News” program as co-anchor alongside news anchor Dan Mitchinson. Stouffer’s news radio experience includes stops at the old WMAQ and WLS in her hometown of Chicago. She’s also worked in Seattle at both KIRO and KOMO. Alpha Broadcasting director of programming Scott Mahalick says, “Val is a win for KXL. She brings significant news/talk knowledge and incomparable experience that will benefit not only our afternoon daypart but our entire station.”
First Round of March PPM Data Released. PPM data from the first of four groups of 12 markets for the March 2014 period (February 27 – March 26) has been released by Nielsen Audio. Those markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all the (subscriber) numbers here. Managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian offers his “Ten Takeaways” from the report at RadioInfo.com here.
Bringing Creativity and Heightened Localism to the Radio Sales Department — with a Biographer. Ft. Worth, Texas-based multimedia storyteller, biographer and marketing strategist Rix Quinn delivers a unique mix of creative writing and a down-home vocal presentation to any station’s local marketing arsenal, regardless of market size. Learn more about this fascinating wordsmith and his ideas for adding new dimensions to local radio sales that straddle both the medium’s on-air and online space. In a new article by special features correspondent Jeff McKay, Quinn says, “The service I provide is to help small businesses tell their story in features that run 250-300 words, which is fairly short, focusing on the unique experiences of the owner-manager of the business or the unique product or service that the business provides.” He adds, “That can also include short-form generic features that ‘celebrate’ the tradition and community service of general local business categories such as stand-alone ice cream parlors, mom & pop hardware stores, garden supply centers, independent book stores, jewelry stores…the list is endless. At the conclusion of each feature, the station tags it with individual examples of the category that are non-competitively located in different parts of the coverage area and makes them available to the advertisers at a very reasonable cost.” To read McKay’s piece about Rix Quinn in its entirety, please click here.
Laura Ingraham Adds ABC Contributor to Her CV. The announcement came on Sunday’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos that conservative media personality Laura Ingraham will join ABC News as a contributor. She’s not giving anything up for the new role, either. She’ll remain a Fox News Channel contributor and regular fill-in host for Bill O’Reilly as well. She’ll also continue hosting her daily three-hour Courtside Entertainment Group-syndicated radio talk show.
The Conclave’s Bob Shannon Steps Down After Health Scare. The executive director of The Conclave resigned from the Minneapolis non-profit on Monday, April 14, citing health issues. Bob Shannon says in a statement, “Upon my return from the NAB late Thursday evening, I experienced a medical episode that brought paramedics to my home in the middle of the night. Fortunately, the problem wasn’t as life threatening as was originally thought, but it has prompted some soul searching on my part. Therefore, after consulting with my physician and my family, I have decided to curtail all business activities for the foreseeable future and will be resigning all of my obligations over the next few weeks. Sadly, that includes the Conclave.” Conclave chairman Mark Bolke comments, “Obviously, Bob’s health and well-being is my primary concern, and I respect his decision. As executive director of the Conclave, Bob brought with him the passion of a real radio broadcaster. Not only in regards to what made it so compelling in the past, but a vision of what it still can be. He is a champion of the medium, and never afraid to tell it like it is. It’s been a pleasure serving with Bob, a true gentleman, and we wish him the very best.”
Pussycat Dolls Founder Robin Antin Joins PodcastOne. The founder of the modern burlesque troupe The Pussycat Dolls – dancer, choreographer and actress Robin Antin – is producing a weekly podcast available on PodcastOne. Fresh programs will be available on Tuesdays. Her debut show today (4/15) will feature Kim Kardashian and Antin’s brother, famed hair stylist Jonathan Antin. PodcastOne chairman and CEO Norm Pattiz says, “I’m really looking forward to this podcast. Not only will it attract a huge audience, but working with Robin will be big time fun. Her millions of fans will have unprecedented access as they listen to her every week on PodcastOne.com.”
Odds & Sods. At Clear Channel’s Seattle sports talker KJR, the station is debuting a show for local soccer fans dubbed, “Seattle Soccer Talk Live” and hosted by longtime market sports personality Mike Gastineau, who returns to the station he left two years ago. The weekly show will air live from local pubs on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 and will focus on the MLS Seattle Sounders FC. Gastineau recently self-published a book about the Sounders franchise…..The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch Radio Networks picked up a few Excellence in Financial Journalism Awards from the NYSSCPA and New York Financial Writers Association. Marketwatch.com Radio won honors for “Housing on Fire: Tips for Buyers and Sellers” by Alisa Parenti with producer Tracy Johnke; and the Wall Street Journal Radio Network was honored for The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal for his 16-day segment series addressing “the government shutdown’s impact on real people, the economy and business.”
CBS RADIO Philadelphia Prepares for 5th Annual Earthfest Celebration. The Philadelphia cluster of CBS RADIO stations is partnering with the Clean Air Council to help sponsor its 5K Run for Clean Air at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Saturday (4/19). CBS Philly SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield comments, “The CBS RADIO stations are proud to partner with the Clean Air Council in their mission to improve our region’s environmental and public health. As a huge voice in the region, we have a responsibility to use our power and reach to support such important issues.” CBS RADIO Philadelphia participation will include the KYW Newsradio Kidcast Mobile Studio, that gives kids a chance to be a KYW news anchor. WPHT “Big Money” host Steve Cordasco will present his weekly radio program live from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and will discuss the growing popularity of green or socially conscious investing.
Becka Takes Plunge for Boy with Cancer. KOIL, Omaha talk show host Tom Becka is pictured here standing in the 50-degree waters of Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs, Iowa after jumping in on Monday, April 14 to raise money for a local boy with cancer. Becka was part of a group of radio personalities and local politicians who took the “plunge,” including adult hits KOOO, Omaha’s Crash Davis and hot AC KQKQ, Omaha’s Jenny Olive. The stunt was to benefit Landon Shaw, a Missouri boy with cancer who has inspired Facebook fundraising challenges. On Friday before the plunge, the water was 60 degrees but a chill – along with some snow – moved through the area and the water was down to 50 degrees on Monday!
Celebrating ‘Station of the Year’ Honors. Bloomington, Illinois news/talk WJBC was recently honored with the Illinois Associated Press Station of the Year Award. Since 1999, the Cumulus Media-owned station has won the award three times. It is given to one radio or television station in the state for its work with the Associated Press for continuing cooperation and contribution. WJBC news director Stephanie Pawlowski says, “We are proud to continue in WJBC’s long tradition of community service. The Associated Press has been a great resource for WJBC over the years and we are pleased to assist such an amazing organization in any way we can.” WJBC has a seven-member news team, including an agribusiness reporter, and says that it produces more local coverage than any other station in Central Illinois. Pictured here with the award are (from left to right): Bryan Bloodworth, sports writer; Adam Studzinski, news reporter/anchor; Pawlowski; Eric Stock, news reporter/anchor/sports director; Zac Dietmeier, news reporter/anchor; and Dan Westhoff, operations manager.
Boise and Denver Radio Personality Jon Duane Hellhake Dies. On the radio he went by the name Jon Duane, both during his 10-year stint on the “Morning Zoo” at KPPL, Denver and as morning personality on KIDO, Boise. Jon Hellhake passed away on Friday, April 11 after a two-year battle with cancer. The Idaho Statesman reports the Boise native discovered radio in college and, after working in Denver, co-hosted the morning show at KIDO from 1998 through 2008 with Chris Kelly.
Kansas City Slayings, 2016 Presidential Race, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Limbaugh-Colbert Flap, ObamaCare Criticism, Tax Day, and Blood Moon Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/14). The killing of three in Kansas City by neo-Nazi, former political “candidate”; speculation about possible 2016 presidential candidates; Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the taunting of a U.S. destroyer by a Russian fighter jet; the criticism by Rush Limbaugh of CBS-TV’s choice of Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman; scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; income tax returns become due on Tuesday; the first of four “blood moon” eclipses to take place over the next 18 months and some prophecies related to them were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Paul W. Smith Renews with WJR, Detroit for 7 Years. Telling Crain’s Detroit Business, “I’m thrilled, especially considering the length,” WJR, Detroit morning show host Paul W. Smith announces he’s re-signed with the Cumulus Media station for seven more years. He’s been the AM personality since replacing J.P. McCarthy in 1996. Smith says that, from what he’s heard, the length of the deal is “unheard of.” (He’s right!) The 60-year-old Smith adds, “I like Detroit; I made a commitment to Detroit coming back in 1996. The good stuff is just about to begin with the turnaround. This would be a horrible time to leave.”
Sean Pendergast Moves to CBS Radio’s KILT, Houston. With the departure of Josh Innes to the company’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia where he’ll host the evening show, CBS Radio sports talker KILT, Houston brings Sean Pendergast aboard from GOW Broadcasting’s crosstown KGOW where he’s been PM drive host for the past year. Pendergast will co-host the KILT afternoon show with Rich Lord from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Program director Ryan McCredden says, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring Sean to 610 and have him join our lineup. He is a true pro with a loyalty and passion for Houston sports that is unrivaled. As a team, Sean and Rich Lord will present a fun, and informative experience for the everyday Houston sports fan.” Pendergast comments, “In a city with a crowded sports dial, 610′s lineup and programming are the gold standard. This is a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to working with Rich, interacting with a captive audience and sharing opinions on our local teams.”
Bob Coxe to Retire from Cox Media Group’s WSB, Atlanta. Bob Coxe has been a familiar voice delivering news to Atlantans via news/talk WSB for the past 23 years. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports that the 66-year-old Coxe is hanging up his headphones today to enjoy retirement after a radio career that has spanned four decades. Coxe tells Ho that assuming a normal sleep schedule is something he’s looking forward to. He says that like his hero Mickey Mantle, he knows when it’s time to step away. “You don’t have the physical energy, the concentration or mental acuity to do it at the standard you’d hope to set for yourself. Plus, the hours are punishing.” Taking over for Coxe will be Judd Hickinbotham, who will work alongside Marcy Williams on the morning show.
Odds & Sods. FOX News Channel is presenting a special New Year’s Eve program, “All-American New Year,” on December 31 from 11:00 pm to 12:30 am featuring co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Bill Hemmer live from Times Square in New York City. The pair will be joined by FNC’s Kimberly Guilfoyle, Bob Beckel, Ainsley Earhardt and Rick Leventhal. Griff Jenkins will provide viewers with an inside look at the celebrations taking place in the city. Music performances will come from country’s Rodney Atkins and will also feature performances by rock band Blues Traveler and Scottish singer and finalist of “Britain’s Got Talent,” Susan Boyle…..CBS Radio Philadelphia partners and combines forces with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show from Saturday, March 1 through Sunday, March 9. SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “The Flower Show is the region’s premiere cultural event. It is a positive reflection on Philadelphia across the globe. CBS Local Radio is pleased to team up with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society by providing outstanding marketing solutions for our co-partners, which in turn provides essential funding for the Flower Show.” All five CBS properties – including all-news KYW, news/talk WPHT, and sports talkers WIP-AM and WIP-FM – will have a part in promoting, selling and participating …..KIDO, Boise morning drive talk host Kevin Miller (left) is pictured above with the Travel Channel’s Mike Baker (right), host of “America Declassified.” Baker was in the area and stopped by the KIDO studios to talk with Miller.
Female Erotic-Media Entrepreneur Finding Interested Audiences as “Change-of-Pace” Talk Show Guest. At a time when most news/talk stations are seeking two things to keep the format vibrant and growing – 1) relevant topics that go beyond right-versus-left politics and 2) programming that would be attractive to more female listeners without turning off men – Angie Rowntree (at left) is finding appreciation among hosts and producers as the perfect “change-of-pace” guest. Simply put, Angie Rowntree’s business is communicating about sex. As the operator of the world’s largest “porn for women” site, Sssh.com, Rowntree has spent the last 14 years doing a lot of what you might assume someone running an erotic website does – like writing and directing adult entertainment movies – but a good deal of that time has also been spent doing something you might not expect from a pornographic entrepreneur: listening. She tells TALKERS, “When I first started Sssh, there was just about nothing in adult entertainment that truly had been made with female viewers in mind,” reflecting on how she first got the idea to create Sssh.com. “There was just about every kink and specialty fetish you can think of that a man might be interested in, but aesthetically and thematically, there was basically no appeal to any of it from the female perspective.” To find out more, read a new feature article posted today (12/20) by TalkersRadio GM David Bernstein by clicking here.
16-Year-Old Broadcaster Making Waves at Daytona Beach Radio Stations. Her name is Pavlina Osta and although she recently reached her 16th birthday she is already a five-year veteran of professional radio broadcasting having hosted her own music and talk show, “Pavlina’s Kids Place” since she was 11. Most kids at age 16 have no career direction, but Pavlina is well on her way! Fascinated with radio, Pavlina grew up wondering if she could be the person holding the mic. But she decided not to wait, and began making calls to various celebrities that caught her attention. Pavlina likes Alice Cooper, Dr. Oz, and Animal Planet’s Wayde King and Brett Raymer. So that’s who she called, and receiving those calls from a charming teenager was all that was needed. She landed the interviews that she wanted and continued with Teresa Guidice, star of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” She now has her own YouTube channel, her own website, and a half-hour weekly radio show targeted to tweens and teens airing every Saturday at 11:30 am. “Pavlina’s Kids Place” airs on Daytona Beach-area stations WAPN-FM, Holly Hill, Florida; WAPB-FM, Madison, Florida; and WELE-AM, Ormond Beach, Florida as well as the internet channel RealRadioDaytona.com. Pavlina is also an award-winning dancer and has danced and sang in the New York City Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She has been recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution as an outstanding citizen and the American Cancer Society for her contributions to Relay for Life events. According to TalkersRadio general manager David Bernstein, “Pavlina is a rare find – especially in this day when teens are not as interested in going into radio as they were in past generations. If she sticks with it, and I sure hope she does, she will be a major figure in broadcasting in very short time. Radio needs kids like Pavlina.” Pavlina Osta is available for interviews or to serve as a special correspondent for music and talk stations around the country. She can be contacted at Frazier Public Relations, 703-431-7895 or visited on the web at www.PavlinaOsta.com.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Update. The independently syndicated Kevin McCullough show is added to the program schedule at KTLR, Oklahoma City and WTXY, Wilmington, North Carolina…..The Genesis Communications Networks-syndicated Jason Lewis show is added to the lineup at KLZ, Denver; WPTK, Raleigh; and KNOX, Grand Forks, North Dakota…..Cumulus Media Networks’ Mark Levin joins the program schedule at KVBL, Portland and the company’s “Red Eye Radio” overnight program joins the WVFT, Tallahassee lineup.
ObamaCare Criticism Top News/Talk Story for 9th Consecutive Week. The criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the ninth straight week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the NSA spying case. Following at #3 was the Target credit card security breach and at #4 was the controversy over “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality in GQ magazine. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. View the entire chart here.
High-Profile Tragedy Puts Talk Radio and News Radio in Unique Position. Friday’s horrific crime at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut is putting radio – mostly talk radio and all-news radio – in a unique position, once again. Although some music stations, especially those geographically close to Newtown, covered the breaking news event on Friday, the aftermath of the killings was over the weekend and will continue to be the primary topic of discussion on talk radio and the focus of all-news outlets through the early portion of this week. TALKERS managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian analyzes the recent important news events that have driven talk radio to increased audiences in November and what the Newtown massacre and other major news events may mean for the format into the December “Holiday” ratings period. Read Mike Kinosian’s analysis here. With regard to the formatics of handling a breaking news event such as this, earlier this fall, TALKERS spoke with programmers and hosts about their handling of the shootings at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater and many of their thoughts are relevant to coverage of this event as well. For programmers, hosts and managers who may have missed that piece, read it here.
Consultant Chris Miller Advises Radio Stations to Use Their Websites and Digital Tools to Their Full Potential in Serving Communities During Horrific Tragedies. Radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller writes that radio has two worthy purposes on days like Friday: Keeping our listeners informed and offering a place for stress-reduction. Most importantly he says, “Do no harm.” To read Miller’s timely and important piece, click here.
Connecticut School Massacre Sets Media into High Gear; Radio Faces Challenge of How to Cover. The horrific massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut on Friday is another in a line of catastrophic events that put the radio industry into “emergency” mode. How to cover this news story is a challenge that programmers of all formats are facing. TALKERS magazine’s instant monitor scan of stations around the nation indicates a marked effort to discuss or at least acknowledge the horrific event that broke the peace Friday in Connecticut and is serving, perhaps, as a straw that breaks the camel’s back in our society’s collective nervous system regarding the seemingly endless string of mind-numbing violent events. This includes everything from music stations to sports talkers. Radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke offers advice for action going forward and analysis of some of what’s been aired so far. He also points to the print media as a tutor in this instance based on some of the front pages of newspapers around the world. (The accompanying photo is from a Berlin daily.) Read Holland Cooke’s piece here.
WVKO, Columbus Drops Progressive Talk for Gospel. Gary Richards has been leasing the class B AM station from Bernard Ohio Radio since the beginning of 2012 but announces he’ll return control of the station and it flips to gospel immediately. In a post at the station’s website, Richards spreads the blame around to everyone from the Obama campaign to local advertisers. He writes, “Once again, we had a good run with the station and we were happy to in some small way contribute to the success that the Democrats enjoyed in November. Unfortunately, it was not a two-way street and lack of advertising support from the Obama campaign all the way down to local races ensured that we will be unable to continue into the New Year. I put my time, money, heart and soul into doing what I believed to be important for the country, but those who benefited most from our efforts chose to spend their campaign dollars elsewhere. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….Well, we can’t get fooled again. Also, a number of advertisers who supported the station in the past chose to turn their backs on us this time. I can’t say why, since they would not return our calls. I want to thank our advertisers, supporters and you the listeners for everything, and I hope that progressive talk can somehow return to Columbus in the future.”
Future of News/Talk WTKK, Boston Still in the News with More Domain Registrations. Questions about the future of Greater Media’s Boston news/talk outlet WTKK have been circulating over the past few weeks after the company had begun registering domain names that have hinted at a flip to an urban format – lots of domains with “beat” and “power” in them. More have been registered and, as is often the case, it appears Greater Media is toying with its competitors as new domain names using words such as “bone,” “groove” and “sportsradio” become public. Greater Media has publicly told the local media it’s always considering options for its stations but would say nothing more concrete. Let the speculation continue!
Cumulus Media to Air CBS Sports Radio Network on KC Translator. Cumulus Media – which is in partnership with CBS Radio on its soon-to-debut national sports talk radio format – announces it will air the format on Kansas City translator K272BZ-FM at 102.5 in January. Currently the 250-watt translator is airing Cumulus’ classic hits KCMO-FM.
Former New Jersey 101.5 Co-Owner Bob McAllan Wins Landmark Legal Battle to Bring New Jersey its Own TV Station. On Friday morning (12/14), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the FCC to grant two new VHF television licenses to former co-owner and creator of the mega-successful talk/music hybrid WKXW, Trenton (New Jersey 101.5), Bob McAllan. His company is PMCM-TV. It appears McAllan, a former chairman of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA) is finally realizing his dream of “bringing local TV service to residents of New Jersey.” The Court ruling hinged on the interpretation of one word: “Reallocation” and the ruling grants a TV spectrum allotment to Bob’s enterprise for Channel 3 in Middletown (Monmouth County) an area of the Jersey shore that was ravaged by Sandy. McAllan’s shore-based radio stations at Press Communications stayed on the air for two weeks following the storm from remote locations. NJBA President Paul Rotella, who learned about the ruling while in Washington, tells TALKERS: “I was very happy for Bob and his colleagues since the NJBA supported Bob’s efforts to bring more full power broadcast TV coverage to the Garden State for decades. This long-awaited decision is good for all New Jersey residents and we congratulate Bob on his hard fought Court victory.”
News Anchor Joe Donovan Retires from WWJ, Detroit. The 37-year news staffer at CBS Radio’s WWoit retired from the all-news station on Friday, December 14 with a brief announcement in which he stated, “Good-bye Detroit. Thank you for listening all these years.” Donovan joined WWJ in 1976. He has been co-hosting the morning drive news program with Roberta Jasina. The Detroit Free Press reports CBS Radio will make an announcement about the station’s morning program in the near future.
WABC, New York Alumni Christmas Party. This photo is from the annual WABC, New York alumni Christmas party organized by former Sean Hannity producer Jill Vitale a.k.a. Flirty Flipper. The bash took place on Thursday, December 13 in NYC. Pictured here are former WABC morning men alongside former WABC program director Phil Boyce. From left to right: Boyce, Jay Diamond, Barry Farber and Curtis Sliwa.