Tag: "Richard Neer"
Day 1 from the Arbitron Client Conference. Radio consultant Holland Cooke is covering the Arbitron Client Conference for TALKERS. Three major points stuck out at yesterday’s sessions: 1) RAB president Erica Farber noting that agencies don’t have “radio” departments anymore, they have “audio” departments; 2) using social media is imperative but it must have a three-pronged purpose of creating brand awareness, expanding listenership and maintaining listener loyalty; and 3) stations in PPM markets must work hard to create more occasions of listening from P1s in order to build share growth. Read Holland Cooke’s report from Annapolis here.
Clear Channel’s Ken Charles Moves from Miami to Sacramento. The longtime Clear Channel spoken-word programmer – who also serves as the national brand coordinator for news/talk and sports – takes on the vice president of programming role at the company’s six-station cluster in Sacramento that includes news/talk KFBK and KSTE. Charles has programmed Clear Channel Media and Entertainment news/talk stations in Atlanta and Houston in addition to his most recent post in Miami. Sacramento market manager Dave Milner states, “We are extremely excited to have Ken leading the programming and brand strategies for Clear Channel Sacramento. His experience and passion, combined with our excellent team of professionals will certainly make for a winning combination.” Charles replaces Alan Eisenson who exited the Sacramento cluster last week.
Jim Bohannon Signs Contract Extension with Dial Global. Washington, DC-based overnight and early morning talk radio personality Jim Bohannon signs a new contract to extend his national syndication deal with Dial Global. Via his eponymous overnight talk show and the early-morning “America in the Morning” program, Jim Bohannon is heard on more than 500 affiliates across America. Commenting on his new, multi-year extension, Bohannon says, “I’m delighted to re-up with Dial Global at a time of exciting new opportunities for our industry. As the economy and marketplace forge ahead, I’m eager to work with the many fine sponsors and affiliates of the Jim Bohannon show and ‘America in the Morning.’” Dial Global EVP of news and talk programming Bart Tessler states, “We are thrilled that the hardest-working man in radio is continuing his relationship with his loyal audience and sponsors from sunrise to, well, sunrise. Jim’s ‘militant moderate’ attitude is needed on radio now more than ever.”
Talk Pro Tom Becka Expands Program at KOIL, Omaha. Last week Tom Becka announced he would be leaving his position at KRWK, Fargo “101.9 Talk FM” where he serves as program director and morning drive host. Now, Becka and NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha make public his expanded program at the station. Since moving to Fargo to work on KRWK, Becka had maintained an Omaha presence with an afternoon program on KOIL (piped in from Fargo). Now, Becka returns to the city where he has family and friends and begins an expanded 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm afternoon show on January 2. Operations manager Jeff Lynn says Becka’s program on KOIL has grown significantly on the station – the adults 35-64 demo is up 26% during the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot in which his show is currently airing. Lynn states, “We have no doubt Becka will continue to deliver tremendous results due to his massive appeal with our listeners. He attracts a responsive audience that is loyal to the core and I am confident they will appreciate his expanded timeslot.” On his return to Omaha, Becka says, “1290 has been an ideal home for me – I know Omaha, Eastern Nebraska, and the topics people care about in the local market. This station has provided me with an arena to not only engage our listeners in new ways, it has provided an outlet for talk and conversation that is more in-depth and comprehensive so listeners get what they want from the show.”
Opinion: Bob Costas Criticism Goes Overboard. One of the hot topics of the week – on both sports talk and news/talk radio – is Bob Costas’ comments on the Jovan Belcher tragedy that aired on NBC on Sunday evening. WFAN, New York host Richard Neer writes that much of the criticism – especially that which demands Costas be fired – is absurd. “Are we at such a point in our public discourse that anyone who takes a stand with which we disagree should lose his job? Can we not have a sane discussion about guns without evoking black helicopters and UN takeovers?” Read Richard Neer’s entire piece here.
CBS Announces Plans for Super Bowl Park. The image you see here is the entrance to CBS Super Bowl Park at Jackson Square in New Orleans as the company prepares to cover this year’s Super Bowl. The broadcast giant’s eight subsidiaries — CBS Sports, CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Sports Network, SHOWTIME Sports, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports Radio and CBS Television Distribution – will feature programming from the site of the NFL championship during the week leading up to the big game. CBS Corporation president and CEO Les Moonves says this sets a new standard for the company, “The Super Bowl is the granddaddy of big event television, and our approach this year is unlike anything we have ever done. For the first time, CBS Corporation will have week-long, round-the-clock Super Bowl coverage on more than a half-dozen platforms. Creating CBS Super Bowl Park at Jackson Square as the center of all this activity will make it even more compelling, and also illustrate the collaborative efforts across the company.” The broadcast center will consist of four outdoor sets inside Jackson Square shared across the various shows. The sets were designed to reflect the history and architecture of New Orleans. A fifth set will be located across the street in Washington’s Artillery Park for the CBS affiliates.
Clear Channel Tallahassee Names Jeff Wolf PD for WFLA-FM and WNLS. Taking over for Matt Millar, who exited the radio business, Jeff Wolf comes to Clear Channel’s Tallahassee cluster from Border Media Partners’ Austin, Texas stations where he served as OM for the cluster. Wolf will program news/talk WFLA-FM “Tallahassee’s Talk Radio” and sports talk WNLS “1270 The Team.” Operations manager Jeff Horn says, “We are very excited that Jeff chose to come lead our talk brands in Tallahassee.”
Sabo Media’s Internet Radio Initiatives Signs Aircheck.US. Sabo Media president Walter Sabo announces his company’s Internet Radio Initiatives division is working with Aircheck.US to help build the company’s business model and help identify new revenue and content opportunities. Sabo notes that Aircheck.US – using skilled, entertaining radio performers – will be a viable opportunity for advertisers seeking a blended marketing opportunity of proven media talent and new digital platforms. Every radio star has considered what they would do if they had complete on-air freedom. Historically experienced on-air celebrities produced the most cutting edge radio, such as free form in the 1960’s. Underground radio was launched by Top-40 stars such as Murray the K, B. Mitchel Reed, Tom Donahue and Scott Muni. Sabo says he believes Aircheck.US CEO and founder Erica Lee “has given these proven performers a stage, respect and the freedom to use their expertise to build an audience around the world, online. I look forward to helping her refine her business and achieve her goals.”
Greater Media’s WTKK, Boston to Broadcast Radiothon to Benefit Fisher House. With the support of his fellow WTKK talk show hosts, Michael Graham is leading the “5th Annual News Talk 96.9 Fisher House Radiothon” today from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. WTKK personalities Jim Braude, Margery Eagan, Doug Meehan, Michael Smerconish, and The Andelman Brothers from Phantom Gourmet will join Graham in the effort. He says, “The war in Afghanistan may not be in the headlines, but our brave women and men are still there, serving at the front lines. From Afghanistan to Yemen, we send our troops into harm’s way every day. When harm does come, the Fisher House lets us take care of them.” WTKK says Graham will broadcast from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm with wall-to-wall guests, including: Fisher House families, Senator Scott Brown, Bill O’Reilly, Dennis Miller, Glenn Beck, Ray Romano, Rob Schneider, Ted Nugent, former New England Patriots player Matt Light, Gold-winning gymnast Aly Raisman, Fox 25’s VB, Playmate of the Year Jaclyn Swedberg, Comedian Chris Zito and many more.
The Conclave Announces 2013 Scholarship Opportunities. The Conclave’s 2013 Radio and Music Industry Scholarship Program provides more than $50,000 worth of opportunities for students. The organization states that since 1979, in keeping with its mission of educating the broadcast industry, it has awarded over $1 million in scholarships to worthy students desiring an education in the radio and music industries. The detailed scholarships are: to Brown College in Minneapolis, Specs Howard School of Media Arts in Southfield, Michigan, and to McNally-Smith College of Music in St. Paul. The Brown College Dennis Becker Memorial Scholarship covers tuition for the Radio Broadcasting Associate of Applied Science Degree, and is worth $17,000. The Specs Howard Bill Gavin Memorial Scholarship includes tuition, application fees, and books for the Diploma Program in Radio-TV Broadcasting, and is worth $15,000. The McNally-Smith Music Business Scholarship is valued at up to $20,000. Conclave executive director Bob Shannon says, “In our current economy scholarship dollars are truly a gift with impact. I’m thankful to the schools and organizations that have graciously stepped forward to help. In a larger sense, the scholarships embody the very essence of the Conclave’s mission: to create a learning environment that actually makes a difference for those interested in 21st Century media.” All Conclave scholarships will be awarded during the 38th Conclave Summer Learning Conference, July 17-19, 2013 in Minneapolis.
Cool Job Opportunity. The major qualification for this position is the ideal candidate must be fluent in Mandarin. This is a consulting opportunity for someone with experience in talk radio who speaks the Chinese dialect. Send your relevant information to Michael Harrison at TALKERS magazine – firstname.lastname@example.org – and we’ll pass it along. All responses will be kept confidential.
Washington’s ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Syria’s Chemical Weapons Threat, Egyptian Unrest, and Bob Costas Gun Comment Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/5). The ongoing debate in Washington over how to avoid the “fiscal cliff”; Syria’s readying of sarin gas and threats to use it on rebel forces; the violent protests against Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi; and backlash against NBC’s Bob Costas in response to his guns comments were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Is CBS Radio’s KPTK, Seattle the Next Progressive Talker to Flip? Seattle-based blog Blatherwatch (cool name!) is reporting the WYD Media-produced Stephanie Miller talk show indicated on Monday’s broadcast that CBS Radio’s KPTK, Seattle would flip from progressive talk after the holidays. No report on what the station may become and the report has not been confirmed by CBS Radio. If this comes to pass, it would be the second West Coast progressive talk outlet to recently shuck the format as Clear Channel’s KPOJ, Portland did Monday (11/12). It’d also be the second progressive talk station that’s been in the format for a relatively long period of time – eight years for each station – and located in “progressive” cities, to change formats.
Stacey Simms to Exit WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte. “Charlotte’s Morning News” co-host Stacey Simms announces she will exit the Greater Media news/talk outlet after the December 14 edition of the program due to personal reasons. Simms has co-hosted the show at WBT for 10 years, first with Al Gardner (now in Philly on WWIQ) and currently with Bo Thompson. Simms is a well-known media personality in the market having worked in television news at WBTV-TV before beginning her talk radio career. Senior vice president and market manager Rick Feinblatt says of Simms, “Since 2002, Stacey has been instrumental in the development and success of ‘Charlotte’s Morning News’ and has always displayed the highest level of professionalism and dedication to WBT and all our listeners. We wish Stacey the best as she pursues new opportunities and adventures.”
KFNS, St. Louis Parts Ways with Host Kevin Slaten After Racial Rant. Sports talk host Kevin Slaten wasn’t an employee of Grand Slam Sports – owner of KFNS, St. Louis – rather he brokered the time and sold his own advertising. As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, his contract was cancelled after he went on a rant last Thursday charging African Americans who voted for Barack Obama with being bigoted if they voted for Obama because he’s black. Station manager Katy Pavelonis tells the paper she asked Slaten to take his conversation in a different direction. “The topics of Thursday weren’t homing in on where I want to go.” Slaten was with KFNS previously but was fired from the station in 2008 after putting St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan on the air without informing him the conversation was being broadcast. Speaking of the mixing of sports talk and political talk; WFAN, New York sports talk host Richard Neer has some thoughts on the matter. See the next story…
The Risk of Talking Politics on a Sports Station. The 2012 campaign is behind us but WFAN, New York sports talk host Richard Neer has some thoughts on mixing politics and sports talk that some may want to consider for the next election cycle. Neer says that the very close popular vote in the presidential election – almost a 50/50 split – means it’s possible almost half your audience could disagree with you no matter whom you support, so is it worth “campaigning” for your guy? Neer writes, “A few undecideds may be persuaded by your arguments, but more likely you’ll either be preaching to the choir or turning off the other side. Another unintended consequence is if you show yourself to be poorly informed or blindly biased, it could undermine steady listeners’ trust in your authority when it comes to an area that you know more about — sports.” Read the rest of Richard Neer’s argument for avoiding politics here.
Opinion Piece: Five Trends About to Make a Buck. Noted industry idea man and Sabo Media chairman Walter Sabo offers five companies and concepts that he believes are closing in on what he describes as “the event horizon for making profits.” They include internet radio, Jumpwire Media, kid-targeted tablets (Toys“R”Us), Kickstarter.com, and companies that learn from TMZ. For the juicy details, click here.
Major Development at Tribune’s WGN, Chicago…New Call-in Number. Okay, so it’s not the biggest news to come out of Tribune Tower recently, but mid-morning talk host Mike McConnell played up the announcement of the changing of the station’s 46-year-old call-in phone number dramatically in a bit that surely had a fair number of WGN P1s on the edges of their collective seats. WGN promoted a “change of historic proportions” announcement during morning drive and when it came time for McConnell to break the news, he did so in a dramatic – some might call it melodramatic – fashion, building up to it by reading a list of the names of famous WGN broadcasters who’ve graced the station’s studios over the years. After delivering the punch line – the new call-in number – he explained that the new studios and the change to all-digital equipment required a new phone number as of today (11/13).
St. Louis Talk Hosts in War Over A-List Guests. The kinds of battles that happen between mega-broadcasters like David Letterman and Jay Leno can also happen between local talk radio hosts. The race to get the guest “first” is something most listeners are not aware happens among the hosts at their local media outlets, but St. Louis talk radio fans are learning about an kerfuffle between former station-mates Charlie Brennan at KMOX and McGraw Milhaven at crosstown KTRS (Milhaven previously worked at KMOX). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes about how the competition has escalated after Milhaven went public with what he considers Brennan’s unfair play. He points to a memo from publisher Random House’s public relations office regarding a St. Louis appearance by Pulitzer-prize winning author Jon Meacham on December 6 that details the cancellation of Meacham’s appearance on Milhaven’s show due to a conflict with a KMOX live broadcast event at the St. Louis Library and that state’s KMOX’s requirement it be the first radio appearance. Brennan’s Fontbonne University book club has been booking author appearances in the market for some time. Brennan tells the paper, “And it’s only a radio exclusive if the author wants to be a KMOX/Fontbonne University selection, which means the book will get a month’s worth of publicity and anywhere from 400 to 800 book buyers at the club’s monthly meetings…I’m not sure why (Milhaven) is making an issue of it. If he could offer the author a better agreement, I’m sure the author would take it. Then it would be ‘goodbye Charlie.’”
Bonneville Seattle and NFL’s Seahawks Agree to Multi-Year Extension. Bonneville’s KIRO-AM was the original radio partner for the Seattle Seahawks when the franchise joined the NFL back in 1976 and has been its sole partner ever since. Now, Bonneville extends its relationship with the team in a multi-year deal that will have Seahawks games and programming continue on sports KIRO-AM and news/talk KIRO-FM. The deal also includes the two stations’ coverage of Seattle Sounders soccer, which will have the football club’s matches heard on KIRO-FM. Bonneville Seattle Media Group vice president and market manager Carl Gardner says, “After 37 years, fans in the Northwest have come to think of Seahawks Radio and KIRO as one and the same, and we’re proud of that tradition. We also love helping build a new culture and tradition around Sounders FC and Major League Soccer, extending our strong partnership is a win for the fans, for the clubs, and for Bonneville.”
CBS Radio’s Sports WJFK, Washington Improving its Signal. According to Dave Hughes’ DCRTV.com, CBS Radio sports talk WJFK-FM, Washington is getting some engineering attention to help improve its signal. By altering the coverage patterns of two of its adjacent channel outlets WJFK should see improved penetration to the northeast, into DC itself and into Prince George’s County. In order to accommodate WJFK improvement, CBS will move the transmitter for WWMX, Baltimore “Mix 106.5” which will, to a degree, adversely affect its coverage. Over the years, more than one person associated with WJFK has told TALKERS that the sports talk station suffers from signal problems that are limiting its ratings potential.
Timely Guest. WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier (l) is pictured here on the stage at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach interviewing U.S. Senator Bill Nelson in the 85th edition of the Town Hall speaker series at the school. Nelson, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, answered questions about the scandal involving former CIA chief David Petraeus before a full house of students and the public.
Petraeus Scandal, Benghazi Investigation, ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ Businesses Prepare for ObamaCare, and Post-Sandy Frustrations in New York Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/12). The widening David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell scandal; the Benghazi attack investigation and Petraeus’ role in it; Washington addresses the “fiscal cliff”; American businesses prepare to pay for ObamaCare; and the post-Sandy frustrations still affecting some New Yorkers were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — During the recently concluded election cycle, it was surely tempting at times to inject political notes into our sports programming. These comments might range from analogies comparing sporting contests to the “horse race” factor of the campaign, to outright endorsements of a specific candidate. While the former might be be an instructive and harmless explanation of strategy, the latter could result in long term damage.
Most of us are slaves to quarter hours, even more so with PPM methodology, which purports to evaluate even the minutest of trends. Some of us see a higher calling however — if you believe the future of our country is at stake, you may feel compelled to speak out strongly in favor of your beliefs. You might even posit that since it seems everyone is talking politics and news/talk stations traditionally grow this time of year, you might profit from that boost in interest.
NAB/RAB Radio Show Opens in Dallas Today. Thousands of broadcasters from around the nation are gathering at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas for the annual “Radio Show” jointly presented by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). The theme of this year’s event is ‘Hear What’s Next.” The entire conference, which runs from this morning until the closing Radio Show Luncheon on Friday afternoon, is devoted to the medium of radio and its commercial industry with an eye on the future — from the music royalties issue to the general challenge of integrating into the digital era. CBS Radio president and CEO Dan Mason served as chair of this year’s Radio Show Steering Committee. TALKERS has correspondents on the scene and will provide coverage of the key events as they unfold.
Michael Harrison to Deliver Address This Morning: “Can Terrestrial Radio Thrive in the Digital Era?” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison will be presenting an “info-session” at the Radio Show this morning sponsored by this publication in which he addresses the question, “Can terrestrial radio thrive in the digital era?” Harrison says, “Survival is not enough. Survival is just a form of slow death.” In an accompanying article he writes, “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? Of course it is — but only if the medium’s players, from the very top on down, muster up the will to conquer the daunting obstacles standing before them. It will take vision and courage fueled by bold ideas and action to slay the five-headed dragon threatening terrestrial radio with premature obsolescence.” To read the entire article, click here. If you are in Dallas, you can attend Harrison’s presentation in the Emerald Room at 10:15 am CT.
Entercom Announces Deal with ESPN to Split WEEI, Boston’s AM and FM Signals. Beginning October 5, ESPN Radio’s national sports talk lineup will be heard on WEEI-AM at 850 in Boston and the local talk of Entercom’s Boston sports brand will broadcast solely on WEEI-FM at 93.7. This is a great deal for ESPN, which gets a Boston clear for its sports talk programming and play-by-play, including the entire MLB schedule (including this year’s playoffs), the NBA and college hoops and football. The AM side is being re-branded “ESPN on WEEI.” On the FM side, the Boston sports talker will still be the exclusive home of Red Sox baseball, Celtics basketball and NFL play-by-play. For WEEI’s web presence, ESPNBoston.com will power WEEI.com’s video player with ESPN video content. Entercom president and CEO David Field states, “We are excited to be expanding our partnership with ESPN in such a meaningful way. Combining Boston’s leading sports station, WEEI-FM, and the new ESPN on WEEI 850 AM, together with our ability to cross promote content through our existing mobile and digital platforms, gives passionate Boston sports fans the very best in local and national sports content.”
WSAU-AM/FM, Wausau, Wisconsin Give Political Candidate Free Air Time in Equal Time Deal. Pat Snyder is the morning drive host on Midwest Communications news/talk combo WSAU-AM/FM, Wausau, Wisconsin. He’s also a Republican candidate for State Assembly but his popularity with listeners meant the station didn’t want to take him off the air until it had to. The Wausau Daily Herald reports that since Snyder worked until August 30 – almost two weeks after Democrat Mandy Wright became his opponent on August 14 – Wright became eligible for equal time compensation. So the station will give Wright five-and-a-half hours of time in the form of commercials to air between now and election day. She tells the paper she’s happy with the deal and that the station was “amicable” in dealing with her.
Jim Ingstad’s Radio Fargo-Moorhead to Sell Cluster to Midwest Communications. The six-station cluster of Jim Ingstad’s Radio Fargo-Moorhead will be sold to Wausau, Wisconsin-based Midwest Communications, pending FCC approval. The stations are: news/talk KFGO-AM, sports KVOX-AM, classic hits KBVB-FM, Top 40 WDAY-FM, talk KRWK-FM and CHR KMJO-FM. Six years ago Ingstad bought the stations from Clear Channel – the company that had purchased the stations from him several years prior. No purchase price has been announced.
Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart to Debate Prior to the Election. Dubbed “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” and taking place at Washington, DC’s George Washington University on October 6, Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly (also heard on news/talk radio stations via his daily feature distributed by Courtside Entertainment) and “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart will mix it up in a 90-minute debate about election issues. O’Reilly and Stewart have a friendly but adversarial relationship and have both appeared on each other’s shows. According to Deadline.com, the debate will be broadcast over the internet in a pay-per-view model.
WJJG, Chicago Flips Calls to Historic WCKG. Talk outlet WJJG (licensed to Elmhurst, Illinois) is taking the calls of the former CBS Radio hot talk outlet WCKG-FM – once home to Howard Stern, Steve Dahl and others during its heyday. The station says in a statement, “WCKG has boasted Chicago and national radio stars the likes of Bob Sirott, Steve Dahl, Howard Stern, Kevin Matthews, Jonathon Brandmeier, Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew Pinsky, Garry Meier, and Stephanie Miller. Now, WCKG fans can add Mancow Muller, Alex Jones, and Michael Savage to the list of radio superstars linked to WCKG, on AM 1530. General manager Matt Dubiel has been operating the station for the past year and has re-tooled the station’s programming lineup, marketing, studios and engineering. He says he has plans to add live and local talk shows and a suburban showcase studio next. “My mission is to bring WCKG to a worthy DuPage County suburb. It’s high time for DuPage to have a marquee radio station with top-level talent serving our communities and Main Street businesses.”
Managing the Tight Sports Talk Playlist. Sports talk hosts wishing to depart from the small number of stories in which their audience is interested on any given day do so at the risk of massive tune out. WFAN, New York host Richard Neer writes that today’s sports talk host must work that much harder to keep those few topics fresh to serve both the new listeners coming in and the ones who’ve been along for the ride for some time. Doing that and avoiding the temptation to veer off into uncharted waters are two of the biggest challenges for sports talkers. Read Richard Neer’s column here.
Morning Host Hank Bonecutter Let Go from WJZM, Clarksville, Tennessee. The twist here is that Hank Bonecutter, host of “The Bone Show” on news/talk/sports WJZM, Clarksville, Tennessee, is the former owner of the station and he just completed the sale of it to new owners Dave Loos Jr., Greg Walker and Mike Parchman in August. He’d been affiliated with the station since 1973 and bought it in 1994. He tells The Leaf Chronicle, “I have no ill will. They have to do what they have to do. I wasn’t sure I’d stay on to the end of the year anyway…My reporting and all we were doing was not in their whole scope of what the station would be about. I don’t think there’s any question I’ve rubbed a lot of people the wrong way for several years. I’m sure they were taking a lot of heat from some folks in town, but I can’t speak to whether that was part of their decision or not.”
Critics Slamming NBC TV’s Ouster of Ann Curry from “Today.” In a story in the New York Post, many industry watchers are saying the network’s move to bump Ann Curry from its morning news/talk show “Today” is not getting the intended result: improved ratings. In the three months since Curry was replaced by Savannah Guthrie, the ratings have slid further. According to the story, with Ann Curry in the lineup the show averaged 4.94 million total viewers and 2.1 million viewers in the 25 to 54 demo in the 10 weeks before she left. Since then, “Today” has dropped to 4.6 million total viewers and 1.9 million in the 25 to 54 demo in the 10 weeks after she was replaced.
Odds & Sods. CBS Radio gears up for the 29th NewsRadio 1020 KDKA Spaghetti Breakfast being held this Friday from 5:00 am to 9:00 am at the Heinz Hall Garden Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh. The breakfast feast features “KDKA Morning News co-hosts Larry Richert and John Shumway…..WHO, Des Moines PM drive host Simon Conway sits in today through Friday for Premiere Networks’ “America Now” with Andy Dean…..Corporate Turnaround partners with Broadcast Affiliate Sales to debut its new daily radio feature that consists of intriguing stories about ways business can improve and grow. BAS’ Mike Tyler says, “Corporate Turnaround’s daily feature discusses many ways small business can improve their financial condition. This feature will help radio stations get new advertisers. The listeners will enjoy the feature and small business will get much needed information.”
Romney ‘Reliant on Government’ Comments, Media Matters-DOJ Relationship, and Libya U.S. Consulate Attack Aftermath/Muslim World Protests Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/18). The fallout from a secretly recorded video of Mitt Romney speaking to donors about the 47% of President Obama’s base who are “reliant on government”; questions about whether Media Matters for America has a working relationship with the Department of Justice; the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya and the ongoing anti-America protests in the Muslim world were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
New Sports Radio Network Entrant NBC Announces First Round of Talent Hires. The venture between NBC Sports and Dial Global that debuts September 4 – NBC Sports Radio Network – is beginning with an evening sports talk show hosted by Erik Kuselias (airing 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET). The morning drive sports updates from the network will be delivered by Jon Stashower. Kuselias has been working with NBC on its cable sports network. He’s worked for the Golf Channel as well as ESPN. Stashower has also worked at ESPN. Expect some more talent announcements prior to the network’s post-Labor Day debut.
Dead Air: A Dynamic Reminder for Talk Show Hosts. Vocal dynamics is not a discipline that is really taught to broadcasters anymore. With more and more talk talent coming to the medium from outside the traditional communications schools, talent who use the dynamics of their voices effectively are becoming rare. WFAN, New York talk host Richard Neer offers some suggestions about employing these techniques and the reasons why they are still valid for today’s broadcasters. Read Richard’s piece here.
Salem Communications Posts Q2 Revenue Increase of 3.9%; Broadcast Up 2.1%. That’s the good news for Salem. On the downside, operating income for the entire company dropped 61.1% and the company realized a net loss of $1.8 million or $0.07 net loss per share. Though the broadcast division revenue was up 2.1%, station operating income decreased 3.1%. Internet is still the big winner for Salem with Q2 revenue up 16.6% and operating income up 42.8%.
Federated Media Joins iHeartRadio. Indiana-based Federated Media adds its 17 radio stations to the iHeartRadio digital platform owned and operated by Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Federated Media’s markets include Fort Wayne, South Bend and Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana. Stations now heard on the platform include heritage news/talk WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne. Federated Media chief strategy officer James Derby says, “We’re very excited to partner with iHeartRadio. We want to offer our customers and clients both terrestrial and digital listening experiences. It’s important that we partner with those that are open to shared content and opportunities. iHeartRadio is very popular in our local markets and we’re happy to now be a part of it.”
TuneIn Announces New Funding; Increase in Monthly Active Listener Stats. Digital audio service TuneIn reports it has just acquired new sources of funding led by General Catalyst Partners with participation from Jafco Ventures, Google Ventures and existing business partner Sequoia Capital totaling $16 million. TuneIn will use the new funding to scale the company’s technical and business operations worldwide. At the same time, the company reports its monthly active listeners figure has increased to 40 million. TuneIn CEO John Donham says, “Our mission is to deliver the best listening experience possible, and it is so meaningful to us that 40 million people have chosen to listen to the world – every month – through TuneIn. This investment will help us fulfill our mission while increasing our headcount and growing our product development and marketing initiatives.” TuneIn says its service is available anywhere there is an internet signal and offers 70,000 stations and two million on-demand programs.
AdLarge Media Becomes Sales Rep for Gow-Operated Yahoo! Sports Radio. Houston-based Gow Broadcasting operates Yahoo! Sports Radio and the company announces it enters into an agreement with AdLarge Media for the latter to sell national advertising for Yahoo!’s radio, streamed audio and mobile platforms. AdLarge Media CEO Gary Schonfeld states, “Yahoo! Sports Radio has a highly respected lineup of sports journalists and commentators, including Tim Brando, Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Steve Czaban, and more. Yahoosports.com is the number one sports website on the internet. With that as our base, Yahoo! Sports Radio delivers insights and reports from sports experts that fans relish, creating an engaging environment for advertisers to reach an extremely passionate audience.”
Odds & Sods. Texas-based Clear Channel talk host (KTRH and WOAI) Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo fills in for Premiere Networks star Glenn Beck on his radio show today and Friday…..ESPN Radio now offers an app for smartphones using the Windows Phone platform and is available in the Windows Marketplace. ESPN reports its app is now available on all three major smartphone operating systems…..SiriusXM is broadcasting coverage of the 2012 PGA Championship beginning this Thursday from the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.
Presidential Race, Wisconsin Sikh Shooting, London Olympics, and Mars Landing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/6). The campaign for president in the 2012 elections; the fatal shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; the 2012 London Olympics; and the landing of the rover on Mars were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — While growing up listening to fast-paced Top 40 stations like WABC in New York, and WLLL in Lynchburg, Virginia, it seemed even a split second of silence was anathema. Something had to have gone wrong on the control board or transmitter – or the deejay must have fallen asleep. Resumes for job seekers typically included “tight board” to indicate there would be no dead air during their trick.
High energy was also a must. For motor-mouthed jocks, the goal was jamming as many words as possible in before hitting the post. A few of the greats managed to add humor or pithy commentary; many more resorted to gimmicks and “schtick.” They lived in fear of “flubs” or mangled verbiage.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK – Mike Francesa is the number one sports talk host in the country.
Although there are nationally syndicated names that may claim to have a wider cume than Mike Francesa, Mike is the king of sports talk in the number one market in the nation. He is appointment listening. Love him or hate him, New Yorkers need to hear his take on major stories. He cannot be ignored.
What does Francesa bring to the table? His years as a researcher at CBS television were merely a prelude of what was to come. His relentless curiosity and work ethic along with his relationship with some of the biggest names in television broadcasting gave him unique insight. He learned to dig deep into the numbers, but he also understood that the games have a heartbeat. They are populated by human beings – replete with all their flaws and all their glory. Mike dreamed of someday being able to share his knowledge behind the mic instead of behind the scenes. His opportunity came after ceaselessly lobbying the management at WFAN to give him a chance for his voice to be heard.
WFAN, New York Announces On-Air Schedule for 25th Anniversary. CBS Radio’s pioneering sports talk station WFAN, New York prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary as a sports talk station this Sunday, July 1 with a lineup of many of the personalities who have graced the station’s airwaves over the past quarter-century. Prior to that evening’s Mets-Dodgers game, the station begins its celebration at 9:00 am ET. Here’s the schedule: 9:00 am to 11:00 am — Ed Randall (an original WFAN personality) hosting ‘Talking Baseball’ which will include a look back at 25 years of Mets and Yankees. Mets have been on WFAN since day one, July 1, 1987; 11:00 am to 1:00 pm — The Schmoozer and the Sweater: Steve Somers and Russ Salzberg; 1:00 pm to 1:30 pm — Dave Sims (live from Seattle) with a special guest appearance from his former partner and current Mets beat reporter and Mets pre-game host Ed Coleman; 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm — Chris Carlin with special guest Kim Jones (they co-hosted a 5:00 am to 6:00 am show for a year and Chris also did solo shows plus did sports reports on ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Boomer and Carton’ programs at WFAN); 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm — Len Berman long-time WNBC-TV sports anchor and a former midday host at WFAN; 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm — Spencer Ross (also a former WFAN midday host) currently does weekend sports on CBS Radio sister station 1010WINS. Spencer is well known for calling play-by-play of many New York teams including the Jets, Yankees, Knicks, Rangers and the original New Jersey Americans (later to become the Nets); 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm — Richard Neer, current WFAN host (and TALKERS magazine sports editor) who has been with the station since 1988. Richard has hosted a Saturday morning 6:00 am to 10:00 am show continuously since 1992 and also hosts a variety of other shifts on the station; 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm — Howie Rose and Ed Coleman. Howie hosted nights on The Fan from 1987-1995 then went off to do Mets baseball on TV. He returned to WFAN as the radio play-by-play man for the Mets. Howie called Rangers games on The Fan for a number of seasons and has been doing Islanders play-by-play on TV for the past 17 years; and finally, from 7:00 pm to 7:25 pm — A countdown, in order of the ‘Top New York Sports Moments of the Past 25 Years’ as voted by listeners this past March.
Wisconsin Man Cited for Threat Against Talk Host Vicki McKenna. It’s not unusual for radio talk show hosts to get threats at some point in their careers but this one has an interesting legal twist as the Milwaukee County Sheriff disagrees with the Milwaukee County District Attorney on the charge. According to WTMJ.com, Timothy Demeuse admits to writing about WIBA, Madison-based talk host Vicki McKenna (also heard on Clear Channel’s WISN, Milwaukee) via Facebook the following: “Here’s your real ‘expletive’ death threat ‘expletive.’ Come get me. I don’t even own a gun. I can make as many threats as I want. I hope someone kills you. I am going to shoot you in the face and rape your dead corpse.” District Attorney John Chisholm cited him with disorderly conduct for the threat but Sheriff David Clarke believes the level of the threat requires more than a “parking ticket.” But D.A. Chisholm states, “With Facebook — the difference between posting and sending is significant — it’s legally significant.” He suggests the state legislature needs to change the law for Demeuse’s words to be a greater crime.
Tom Joyner’s Reach Media, Inner City Broadcasting and NABOB Among Groups Promoting Advertising to Blacks. Radio legend Tom Joyner and his Reach Media organization, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and Inner City Broadcasting are three of a number of businesses and organizations comprising a black media and marketing consortium involved in launching the #INTHEBLACK campaign to encourage increased investment in the African American consumer marketplace. The consortium states, “African Americans represent over 42 million strong consumers, product talkers and brand influencers with a buying power of nearly $1 trillion annually. By 2015, African American buying power is estimated to gain a whopping 35%, hitting $ 1.2 trillion, up from $913 billion in 2008.” Nielsen reports in its 2011 State of the African American Consumer study, “Between 2000-2009, African American homes have experienced significant growth among households earning $75,000+ (up 63.9%) and households earning $100,000+ (up 88.7%).” The consortium ran a full-page ad in The New York Times on June 25.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. WOAI, San Antonio morning drive host Charlie Parker re-signs with the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment station. Parker has hosted the “San Antonio’s First News” show since 2007…..WPHT, Philadelphia morning personality Chris Stigall hosts former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in a live event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm. The two will discuss Rendell’s new book A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great (Wiley 2012)…..Doug Stephan has a new co-host/producer for his nationally syndicated “Good Day” program. Former WILD, Boston producer Heather Bachman joins Stephan MultiMedia immediately…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment announces Ryan Clune is named director of sales for the Tucson cluster. He comes from the company’s Denver operations where he served as local sales manager…..Independently syndicated talk show host Leslie Marshall is named one of the ‘Top 30 Hottest Political Women of 2012’ by the WashingtonTimes.com. Editor Eric Golub’s feature is in its fifth year and he writes of Marshall, “She may be the hottest liberal radio host, but with competition from Ed Schultz and Alan Colmes that is not too tough. She is a fierce debater. Her verbal combat skills are matched only by her pleasant nature and warm smile.”….. WPHT, Philadelphia talk host Dom Giordano takes the station’s Charlie Manuel show on the road to The Shops at Liberty Place in Philadelphia today from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm ET. The Philadelphia Phillies manager’s regular appearance on flagship WPHT will also include former Phillies pitcher Ricky Bottalico…..WOR, New York afternoon drive host and former Governor David Paterson hosted two of the three candidates in today’s Republican Senatorial primary election on his show yesterday afternoon. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and Congressman Bob Turner appeared on the program. The victor in today’s primary hopes to unseat Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in November.
Holiday Shows Available from Fisher House Foundation. The Fisher House Foundation has two programs available for the Fourth of July holiday season. First, “A Grateful Nation,” the organization’s Memorial Day program has been retrofitted with a Fourth of July theme and is ready for air. The one-hour program features interviews with Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry among others. Second, there’s a Fourth of July edition of the Fisher House’s 30-minute weekend public affairs show as well. For information, contact Randall Bloomquist at email@example.com.
Supreme Court Immigration Ruling, Euro Zone Debt Crisis/Financial Markets Activity, 2012 Presidential Race and Syria-Turkey Clash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/25). The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s illegal immigration law; the Euro Zone debt crisis and its effect on global financial markets; the 2012 presidential race; and Syria’s downing of a Turkish warplane were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Outstanding Station. WMVP, Chicago – ESPN 1000 – program director Adam Delevitt (r) is pictured here with Illinois Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Gaddis (l) at the recent Illinois Broadcasters Association awards ceremony. The ESPN O&O was named the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s Major Market National Guard Station of the Year for outstanding service to the National Guard and the Illinois community.
Cumulus Makes it Official: WYAY-FM, Atlanta to Go All-News in May. The Atlanta Business Chronicle confirms what’s been rumored as Cumulus Media COO John Dickey announces the company’s classic hits WYAY-FM – licensed to Gainesville, Georgia – will flip to all-news in mid-May. Dickey tells the Chronicle, “As big a city as we’ve got and as diverse and cosmopolitan a community, not to have an all-news product creates a huge opportunity. It was an easy decision for us to take advantage of it…Pop culture, celebrity news and entertainment news have really become news today. That has intermixed with hard news to create a different product.” Atlanta had WCNN – now SportsRadio 680 the Fan – operating as an all-news outlet in the late 1990s but that was on AM and Cumulus believes now is the right time to put an all-news product on the FM band.
KTRS, St. Louis Cancels JC Corcoran PM Drive Show. Veteran St. Louis radio personality JC Corcoran exits CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis after hosting the PM drive show for the past 18 months. St. Louis Today’s Deb Peterson reports management at the station was not returning calls seeking comment but that other sources indicate that KTVI-TV, St. Louis sports director and former KFNS, St. Louis talk host Martin Kilcoyne will take over the program. Corcoran’s sidekick Trish Gazall is reportedly remaining with the station. Other changes including a slight shift in programming as John Hadley moves his late-night show to the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot allowing Chicago-based Steve Cochran to host just his 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program at the station (he had been doing a split shift with an early evening show as well).
Feature Series – Part 4: Innovation Sets You Free…to Make Money. Sabo Media president Walter Sabo concludes his four-part TALKERS series on FM talk. In this piece, Sabo discusses the importance of creating time and a place to innovate. Sabo notes that radio has no laboratory for experimentation. “If you come up with a new format or promotional idea, where and how do you test it? Success in a live medium depends on a specific dynamic with a live audience. As a rule you can’t ask people how they want to be entertained. You can present them with entertainment and see if they applaud.” Sabo offers several ways to test new programming, including your HD channel. “Finally, a good use for HD channels: Experimentation. If you want listeners to try a new medium, give them something new to listen to. It doesn’t cost more money to play different songs. The promise of HD radio is breathtaking. New programming attracts early adopters and that’s what new hardware demands.” Sabo says this article is a preview of 15 action-packed minutes that he will deliver at the New Media Seminar in New York on Thursday, June 7. This exciting industry-only event will be a certain sellout. For registration information call 413-565-5413. Read Walter Sabo’s entire piece here.
FCC Decision to Require Political Ad Info Posted Online for TV Stations Has Radio Execs Watching DC. For now, only television stations in the top 50 markets in the country are being required to post their public files – including their political ad rates – online. But some radio operators are nervous about this cascading to their medium. This decision is only popular with some political groups that believe too much money is spent on politics and is tarnishing the process. The NAB is not pleased and states, “NAB respectfully disagrees with today’s FCC decision and we’re disappointed that the Commission rejected compromise proposals proffered by broadcasters that would have brought greater transparency to political ad buying. By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the internet our political advertising rates, the FCC jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations that provide local news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather information free of charge to tens of millions of Americans daily. We appreciate Commissioner McDowell‘s thoughtful and compelling dissent, and we will be seeking guidance from our Board of Directors regarding our options.” Some communications law observers believe there are problems with this new policy and we’re likely to see this end up in court.
Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels to Host New TV and Radio Show Beginning in Early May. Michael Patrick Shiels previously hosted the morning show based at WJIM, Lansing and was heard on other markets via the Michigan Talk Network. His relationship with WJIM owner Cumulus ended and now he announces he’s struck a deal with WSYM-TV, Lansing to produce and distribute a new morning show that will be simulcast on WSYM-TV and on the radio in markets yet to be announced. WSYM-TV VP/GM Gary Baxter states. “FOX 47 is proud to continue its partnership with Michael Patrick Shiels and launch his new program. There is simply no one like him on radio or TV in the state of Michigan. Michael Patrick’s show allows us to have the biggest names in politics, business and Michigan sports on our air every morning. Our viewers might see Governor Snyder and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on the same show — what great television!”
Tom Joyner Vows to Stay Connected with Tri-State Fans Via Digital Media. The Emmis-ESPN deal and consequent merger of the Kiss FM format with WBLS-FM, New York leaves his nationally syndicated urban morning show in the lurch. But Tom Joyner believes very strongly in the power of Black radio and the need for shows like his in the Black community. In a memo to Kiss FM listeners, he writes, “I am saddened that an important Black voice is going silent in New York City, especially during this important election year. Along with the Tom Joyner “Morning Show,” the Michael Baisden show and Rev. Al Sharpton’s Sunday program will also be off the air in NYC in this transition. Black radio has been and always will be an extremely important motivational force in the community. Although social media currently gets a lot of credit and rightfully so, nothing can replace the role Black radio plays in empowering, informing and entertaining Black people. You can’t believe everything you read on social media but studies do show that most people believe what they hear on black radio. That makes me feel proud and reminds me of my responsibility to be there for them each morning.” Joyner encourages his audience in the Tri-State area to listen via his smartphone app or via BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Compass Media Networks’ “At Home with Bob Vila” Debuts Today. The new daily feature hosted by home improvement icon Bob Vila and produced and distributed by Compass Media Networks hits the air today at affiliates including KOGO, San Diego; WTKK-FM, Boston; KMJ, Fresno; KFNN, Phoenix; KVON, Napa, California and more. Compass Media Networks VP affiliate sales Adam Wilbur states, “Stations in all formats – sports, news/talk, all-news, country, AC and classic hits have signed up for Vila. In another week, we will announce additional stations in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington, DC. With over 90% name recognition with Americans, program directors appreciate the power of Bob’s brand – and sales managers love the ability to sell the feature locally.”
Actor Stephen Baldwin, TV-Radio Host Dani Johnson and Talk Host Kevin McCullough Announce Effort to Aid Starving Orphans. The 2012 in 2012 charity effort is named that because, as XtreMedia CEO and principal Kevin McCullough states, the goal is to rescue 2,012 orphans from starvation during the year 2012. McCullough’s weekend radio show partner Stephen Baldwin and television and radio host Dani Johnson are partnering to spearhead this program. Baldwin says a child can be fed for a mere 25 cents per day. “When I toured the places these children sleep and live in, I couldn’t help but be moved to do something about it. My whole family saw with our own eyes children who were dying or would die soon, simply because they had no food. It is imperative to me, my media company, my family, my business partners, and every one I come into contact with to let them know how vital 25 cents can be. It can literally feed a meal to a child who literally will die without it.” Kevin McCullough says, “Our partners are delivering life-healing food for the rate of feeding an orphan for an entire year, for just $92 – this is how simple it is to save a life? How can we get more people involved? How can we rescue more children? These questions haunt me each night…” McCullough and company are teaming up with two charities experienced in feeding children – Food for Orphans and King’s Ransom Foundation and they are seeking other media partners for this quest. “If you are a television, radio or new media personality who has a passion to help hungry kids, we would love for you to join us in this amazing quest. We will link arm in arm with anyone and everyone who is moved to do this, to be part of it, and to see orphans fed.”
Nationally Syndicated Radio Feature Host Akos Jankura Develops New Weekend Show; Seeks Products or Inventions from Public to Feature. Inventor and international presenter Akos Jankura – who writes and produces the nationally syndicated radio feature “Akos the Solutionist” – teams up with John Cremeans to create a weekend radio show based at WFLA, Tampa on which they will make it possible for one inventor to pitch their product or invention. The show will premiere Saturday, May 5 at 4:00 pm on WFLA and people with products or inventions are asked to visit MyCoolInventions.com to submit their entry. Jankura says, “Many people don’t know that one of our most successful TV shopping channels actually began on radio. I’ve teamed up with John Cremeans also known as ‘The Doctor of Shopolgy,’ John has logged over 25,000 hours of live television shopping and is a pioneer in our industry. He is skilled at getting arm-chair inventors to make their best pitch for their product which is so important in the early development process.” Jankura says together the two have more than $2 billion in sales. The team is poised to identify products and inventions that can become the next great hit. Their hands-on process invites everyday inventors or people with great ideas to join the inventive group at MyCoolInventions.com and sign up to receive information and tips that will guide them through the process of taking a product to market.
In Memory of a Radio Pioneer: Pete Fornatale. TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer worked closely with rock radio legend Pete Fornatale who passed away last week at age 66. Although, as Neer writes, Fornatale was not a talk host as we traditionally define it in radio, “When he did crack the mic, you couldn’t find a more intelligent voice observing pop culture than the late Pete Fornatale.” Neer notes that Fornatale became synonymous with the genre of radio hosts who did more than quickly intro or backsell a record – something that many argue is missing in music radio these days. “He was probably the first real musicologist on commercial radio who presented rock and folk music as an intellectual as well as emotional experience.” Read Richard Neer’s memorial to Pete Fornatale here.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — He wasn’t a talker in the sense that he hosted programs on traditional news/talk outlets. Indeed the content of most of his programs featured more music than talk. But when he did crack the mic, you couldn’t find a more intelligent voice observing pop culture than the late Pete Fornatale.
Pete got his start at WFUV-FM, the Fordham campus station and, ironically, that is where he did his final program in mid-April. In his own way, he was every bit the pioneer that radio legend Alan Freed was in exposing popular music to the masses. The difference was that while the early rock ‘n’ rollers spun “silly love songs” that you could dance to, Fornatale cared more about the lyrics, not the beat.
He was one of the first to string together songs in a meaningful fashion – the art of the segue – as it became known. There was a purpose behind every record he played. When CSNY rushed the single, “Ohio” to radio stations to protest the Kent State killings, Pete was the first to play it, indeed repeating it several times before enhancing it with his own emotional comments on the tragedy.
Peter also paved the way for talkers with unconventional voices. His own was slightly nasal with a higher pitch than the sonorous tones listeners were used to on big city radio. But in New York, that qualm quickly passed with astute listeners who were enlightened by the content of what he said. He was probably the first real musicologist on commercial radio who presented rock and folk music as an intellectual as well as emotional experience.
He wrote books, taught classes on many levels, gave lectures and hosted multimedia presentations. Unfortunately, in the early 1980s consultants took over what had been free form FM radio. They didn’t understand Peter’s appeal and lobbied to oust him from the midday shift he had occupied for so many years. When I was program director of WNEW-FM I tried to hold out as long as possible against some of the more radical changes the consultants wanted to affect. For Fornatale, my idea was a weekend program that played to his strengths, a show that was to be called “Mixed Bag,” after the Richie Havens album of the same name. He would play folk and country rock, songs with lyrics on a deeper level. When I broached the subject with him, he was excited and immediately expanded and refined my rough concept and made it his own. It became his hallmark program.
He took it with him wherever he went, from WNEW-FM to K-Rock and eventually back to WFUV-FM. He was a great interviewer and a dear friend to many artists, ranging from Garland Jeffries and Richie Furay (Poco) to Art Garfunkel. Musicians were comfortable talking to someone who truly understood and appreciated them.
Peter was always a pleasure to work with. Even if he didn’t agree with a particular direction, after expressing his views, he executed whatever he was asked with loyalty and dedication to his craft. He welcomed newcomers to the station with open arms and helpful advice. One major regret I have about writing my story of those years, FM:The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio, is that I wasn’t able to interview Pete extensively, since he was working on a similar project and wanted to be heard in his own voice. Although he’s still a prominent character, his personal recollections would have made it a better book.
But fortunately, he leaves books of his own and numerous recordings, many available at his website. Peter passed away quietly the morning of April 26, 2012, but his voice will be heard for generations to come.
Richard Neer is a sports talk host at WFAN, New York, an anchor on A Touch of Grey, and sports editor of TALKERS magazine. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Feature Series: Walter Sabo on FM Talk. Sabo Media president Walter Sabo writes a special four-part series on the successful implementation of talk on FM this week at Talkers.com. In the first installment, Sabo explains the importance of proper format execution in order to build cume. “You rarely hear formatic structure on any talk station – you’ll hear long periods without a host name, station name, phone number – and that’s why talk stations tend to have low, vulnerable cumes. Applying formatics to talk is hard work, but completely achievable.” Too often, talk radio shows sound formatically different from one another even though they are placed back-to-back on a station. That can be addressed by coaching formatics, says Sabo. “That means that your hosts have to handle all elements in the same manner as every other host, just like music DJs. That does not mean they should have the same opinions. That is not desirable.” Read more here.
Chris Sargent Named Operations Manager at Clear Channel Portland. Chris “Sarge” Sargent has been serving as program director at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk KEX, progressive talk KPOJ and classic hits KFBW-FM (where he also handled morning drive) in Portland, Oregon. Now, he’s upped to operations manager for the seven-station cluster. Vice president and market manager Robert Dove states, “I’ve been fortunate to have Chris Sargent working alongside Tommy Austin the last three years and the luxury of having two operations managers in the building, which certainly made my search a lot easier. I know Chris’s leadership along with the help and guidance of Brad Hardin, our senior vice president of programming, will lead to continued ratings success and revenue growth for our Clear Channel cluster in Portland.”
Cumulus Media Flips Pensacola FM to Talk. The former adult hits WJLQ-FM, Pensacola changes call letters to WCOA-FM and begins a partial simulcast of sister news/talk WCOA-AM. The new News Talk 100.7 is simulcasting the 6:00 am to 8:00 am hours of WCOA-AM’s morning drive show with Jim Sanborn and Don Parker, then breaks away to air the WMAL, Washington-based Chris Plante show until 11:00 am. Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee follows from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The rest of the day is: Phil Valentine from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Cumulus Media’s Mark Levin from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and John Batchelor from 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight and Cumulus Media’s “Red Eye Radio” for overnights.
Richard Neer: Prioritize to Stay on Top of the Busy Sports World. TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer offers some thoughts on staying atop of the busy sports world – especially now with NHL and NBA playoffs, MLB action and NFL offseason activity heating up. Neer writes that sports talk hosts may find two or more events scheduled for the same night. “Obviously you can’t watch every minute of every game. And, oh by the way, you do have a life apart from the job. There are family and friends who deserve attention and other cultural aspects of life that should be acknowledged lest you become too narrowly focused. So, how can you juggle all these priorities and stay current with your demanding job?” Find out here.
Changes Coming to Sports WQXI, Atlanta. Management at Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WQXI, Atlanta – Sports Talk 790 The Zone – is tweaking the schedule as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho. The morning drive show, “Mayhem in the AM,” is extended to 6:00 am to 11:00 am as is the PM drive show of Mike Bell and David Archer who move earlier to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. That leaves a midday show of 11:00 am to 2:00 pm to be filled and the station currently employs Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham as well as “Two Live Stews” Doug and Ryan Stewart. Ho notes that Barnhart and Durham are contractually allowed to take May and June off since they work long hours the rest of the year at non-radio station jobs. Ho also reports Barnhart’s and Durham’s ratings are better than the Stews but their availability in May and June presents a complication. GM Andrew Saltzman tells the paper they expect to have the schedule squared away in the near future.
Dennis Prager Publishes New Book. Salem Radio Network syndicated talk show host Dennis Prager begins promoting the publication of his latest book tonight (4/24) with an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity program. The book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (Broadside Books 2012), centers around Prager’s argument that humanity has a choice between American values and its two alternatives: Islamism and European-style democratic socialism. Prager suggests the American value system is the most viable method of creating a good society.
KCBS, San Francisco Newsman Bob Melrose Retires After 36 Years. Longtime KCBS, San Francisco reporter Bob Melrose retires from the CBS Radio station after 36 years at the venerable all-news outlet. Melrose’s career covering news in Northern California included come of the highest visibility cases and colleagues recall how Melrose had a knack for being there when news broke. A retrospective in the San Jose Mercury News notes Melrose covered the Jonestown massacre, the discovery of murdered 12-year-old Polly Klaas’ body and many other stories important to the region and the nation.
Voice Over Pro Jim Cutler Recognized by Fisher House. Voice over pro Jim Cutler (pictured here holding his plaque) was recently honored by the Fisher House Foundation for his pro bono work for the charity. Cutler provided the voice over work for a number of Fisher House projects, including this year’s Memorial Day radio special titled, “A Grateful Nation.” The Fisher House Foundation provides no-cost housing and assistance to the families of America’s servicemen and servicewomen while they recover at VA and military hospitals.
2012 Presidential Campaign, France Presidential Elections, Secret Service Scandal, Euro Zone Jitters, SCOTUS to Hear AZ Immigration Law Case and John Edwards Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/23). The 2012 presidential campaign; the surprise showing of French far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections; the growing Secret Service scandal; trouble in Europe as some euro zone countries battle to beat debt issues; the coming Supreme Court hearing of the Arizona illegal immigration law; and the beginning of the John Edwards campaign finance wrongdoing trial were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — This time of year, there’s just too much happening in sports! You have playoffs in the NHL and NBA, the pro football draft and mini-camps, baseball season in full swing, not to mention numerous golf and tennis tourneys. Often three or more events are scheduled the same night. What’s a sports talker to do?
Obviously you can’t watch every minute of every game. And, oh by the way, you do have a life apart from the job. There are family and friends who deserve attention and other cultural aspects of life that should be acknowledged lest you become too narrowly focused. So, how can you juggle all these priorities and stay current with your demanding job?
In the beginning, an important key is to confess to your audience that you are only human. Admit that you didn’t see the third period of that West Coast hockey game when a donnybrook broke out. A family wedding took your attention away from a rain-delayed baseball game. As long as you are upfront about your omissions and don’t get defensive about it, most will accept and understand.
However, there are events that you can’t miss, regardless of what’s going in your life. Clearly, markets are different – one North Carolina sportscast recently led with a college football spring scrimmage – a note that even the most thorough Northeast media outlet would be loath to even mention unless a deadly melee broke out. It should be obvious – if you know your market – which game your listeners will want to talk about the next day. The tricky part is when there are two or more equally notable things going on at once, or when the top story involves a sport you personally don’t care about. For example, if you are a big time baseball fan, the NFL draft may not light your fire but it may be of more interest to your audience than an early season Mets- Reds series.
There are several essential tools that you must incorporate. A DVR, maybe even two – or a whole-house system, is a necessity. If you have a family, their needs must be taken into account. If the kids want a “Hunger Games” pay-per-view at the same time as an NBA playoff tiff, you probably need to have that covered. (It’s a legit tax write-off). I’ve found that DirecTV trumps most local cable companies for selection and versatility when it comes to sports.
Newspapers and magazines are a must, either in print form or online. You should have several go-to sites bookmarked, with your favorite columnists and writers highlighted. Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” is a must read, and there are many others that warrant your attention on a daily basis. CBS Sports provides not only box scores but full play-by-play for most games – very handy for occasions when walking the dog or a dinner break results in missing an inning or two. It can also be helpful if there’s a game you didn’t prioritize but turns into a hot topic due to unusual circumstances.
MLB Online gives you access to just about every game played with excellent video quality. It’s still inexpensive, and its mini-feature allows you to view a game while saving the majority of your screen for other data.
In the end, there’s nothing like actually watching the games as they unfold. The immediate reactions, the nuances – these still can’t be captured fully even with all the modern technology in our arsenal. But with judicious use of these incredible tools, there’s no excuse for not being on top of any event that piques your listeners’ interest.
Richard Neer is a sports talk host at WFAN, New York, an anchor on A Touch of Grey, and sports editor of TALKERS magazine. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
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Opinion: Phil Valentine Says Fear of Offending is Lethal to Talk Show Hosts. Dial Global talk show host Phil Valentine responds to TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer stating just the fear of offending someone puts all talk hosts on a slippery slope and the latest “guidelines” from the Asian American Journalists Association take it to an absurd extreme. Read Phil’s piece here.
Harris Poll of “America’s Favorite News Personalities” Sure to Cause a Stir; Diane Sawyer America’s Fave, Rush Limbaugh Not. This recent poll of 2,016 American adults conducted by Harris Interactive lumps a list of 26 news anchors, interviewers and radio and television talk show hosts into one broad category – “news and current affairs personalities” – and asks the subjects which three are their favorites and which three are their least favorites. The results? Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly (tied with Barbara Walters) land in the top four spots for favorite. In the least favorite category, Rush Limbaugh, Nancy Grace, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity fill the top four spots. The fact that news anchors and talk show hosts are lumped together for the purposes of this poll is interesting. At TALKERS, we consider them very different animals. One has to wonder how many typical media consumers consider the duties Diane Sawyer handles on a daily basis and what Rush Limbaugh does on his program to be the same or similar (even though Limbaugh often refers to himself as “America’s Anchorman!”) Breaking down the results by political affiliation shows the following results: Among Republicans the four favorites are Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Limbaugh and Diane Sawyer. Among Democrats the four favorites are: Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams (tied for second), and Barbara Walters. What may be the most interesting facet of this poll from a statistical standpoint is independents ranked their top four favorites the same as the “general population”: Sawyer, Cooper, Williams and O’Reilly. If you landed high on the least favorite side of this poll, it apparently doesn’t necessarily hurt your listenership/viewership. While CNN’s AC 360 (Anderson Cooper’s prime time show) garnered 648,000 total viewers (average) during November of last year according to Nielsen, Rush Limbaugh’s estimated weekly cume during the same period was more than 15 million, according to TALKERS. These are not the same measurement systems but the difference is stark, nonetheless. Back to cable/news talk for a moment; MSNBC’s Ed Schultz beat CNN’s AC 360 (head-to-head competition) in the November ’11 Nielsens with 944,000 total viewers. However, Ed Schultz wasn’t even offered as one of the 26 “news and current affairs personalities” to those taking the poll. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was included in the poll. She came in tied for seventh favorite with 7% of all respondents naming her their fave.
Entercom Kansas City Drops Classical for Business Talk Radio on KUDL. Entercom plans to drop the classical music on KUDL 1660 – Radio Bach – and will turn the station to a business talk-formatted outlet as early as this week with an official start on March 5, according to local reports. Former KMBZ talk host Mike Shanin is expected to host an 11:00 am to 1:00 pm program and, according to Bottom Line Communications, the station will be closely aligned with and cross-promoted by sister news/talk KMBZ-AM/FM. While there is no official word from Entercom Kansas City, it’s being reported the station will carry programming from the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, Bloomberg Radio and is developing more local programming. Entercom donated its classical music library to Kansas Public Radio and University of Kansas.
Black Leaders in Southern California Still Upset with John and Ken. KFI, Los Angeles PM drive hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou returned to the air yesterday after a seven-day suspension for using the words “crack ho” while discussing the death of Whitney Houston. There are black leaders in Los Angeles still upset the duo have not been fired and the Los Angeles Times reports California State Senator Curren D. Price, Jr. was one of a number of black leaders scheduled to meet with Clear Channel management yesterday before John and Ken took to the air. Citing the duo’s penchant for controversy, the leaders are asking for KFI to replace them. Senator Price is quoted in the Times saying, “There are many thoughtful and talented journalists in Southern California. KFI-AM needs to replace John and Ken with some of them. I’m sure their radio sponsors will be grateful.”
Photographer Takes Radio Station to the Court of Public Opinion. Harrison Strategies senior partner and broadcasting attorney Matthew B. Harrison writes that it is important to know more about intellectual property law than just enough to avoid litigation. Disputes involving intellectual property aren’t always played out civilly within the established legal system. Brawls are erupting in the Wild West of social networking, where threats of litigation don’t have much standing and unconventional is the nature of attacks. Read Harrison’s column here.
CBS Sports Network Debuts; Jim Rome Debuts April 3. The CBS Sports Network is up and running in time for the college basketball post-season. CBS’ new cable and satellite channel will attempt to capitalize on CBS’ long history of sports programming and will use personality-based shows to try to compete with ESPN. Premiere Networks talk radio star Jim Rome is leaving ESPN to take his cable TV show to CBS Sports Network beginning April 3. Veteran television and radio sports personality Tim Brando’s 10:00 am to 1:00 pm ET daily radio talk show on Yahoo! Sports Radio is being simulcast on the new channel.
“America’s Healthcare Advocate” Hits 60 Affiliate Mark. The Kansas City-based “America’s Healthcare Advocate” show hosted by Cary Hall announces it is now heard on 60 affiliate stations across the country. Hall states, “If you would have asked me seven years ago whether this show would be nationally syndicated on 60 stations coast to coast, I would have said, ‘impossible!’ It’s amazing to me how we continue to grow. Obviously the ongoing debate over PPACA (aka ObamaCare) has generated a tremendous amount of interest in our broadcast. Additionally, the informative shows we are able to do with nationally recognized experts in the health insurance and healthcare industries make us the go-to source across the country for information on these topics.”
GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, New WikiLeaks Release, Oscars and Ohio School Shooting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/27). The GOP primaries on the eve of the Michigan and Arizona primaries, the continuing concern over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, WikiLeaks’ release of e-mails from a U.S. security firm, the Academy Awards and the shooting at an Ohio high school that left one student dead were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Irish Eyes Are Smilin’. Irish Radio Network USA chairman and CEO Adrian Flannelly (r) and his wife and Irish News Network VP and executive producer Aine Sheridan (c) will be honored with the 2012 Ambassador of Ireland Award to be presented by the Saint Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke and the Republic of Ireland on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Holyoke, Massachusetts by Consul General Michael Lonergan. Seated at left is Springfield City Councilor, former WHYN, Springfield talk show host and member of the Ambassador’s Award committee Kateri Walsh appearing on Flannelly’s program to announce this year’s recipients. The Ambassador’s Award recognizes individuals whose activities have brought the people of the United States and Ireland closer together. Flannelly and Sheridan are being honored together as a husband and wife whose professional careers personify that bridge-between-people that this prestigious award represents.
By Phil Valentine
Talk Show Host
NASHVILLE – In response to Richard Neer’s column published below, I’m sure Mr. Neer of WFAN is a well-meaning gentleman who doesn’t want to offend anyone, but over on my side of the talk radio business – issues-driven talk – that attitude is lethal. If Limbaugh or Hannity or any of us cracked the mic worried about offending someone we’d never utter a word.
That’s exactly the goal of the politically correct and the thought police.
Understand, there are now professional victims out there waiting to be offended. There are even whole organizations poised to pounce at the mere utterance of anything that sounds offensive. And that’s the clear distinction here. Nobody would be defending ESPN if they called Jeremy Lin a chink but they didn’t. The headline had nothing to do with an ethnic slur.
THAT’S THE POINT!
We are now being told we can’t even talk about anything that sounds offensive. Take the Asian American Journalists Association. These people have lost their minds. They actually had the gall to issue a set of guidelines to follow when covering Jeremy Lin. WHO ASKED YA?
GOP Candidates Flocking to Talk Radio in Close Primary Race. In a piece on Mitt Romney’s talk radio appearances in Michigan and Arizona prior to tomorrow’s primaries in those states at Politico yesterday (2/26), writer Keach Hagey speaks with local and national talk show hosts on candidates’ use of talk radio during a campaign like this. The piece notes that Romney has historically been a bit aloof towards talk radio – unlike Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – but with the race with Santorum particularly close, he’s been all over the medium. Hagey quotes TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison offering the reason for this turn of events. “When they’re ahead, they don’t like going on talk radio because they are afraid of making a mistake, and talk radio is a wonderful place for making a mistake. If he were clearly the front-runner, then he would do less talk radio.” During a GOP primary race when candidates are speaking to core voters on conservative talk radio-formatted stations, they use the medium to differentiate themselves from the others. Hagey’s piece quotes Santorum national communications director Hogan Gidley saying, “Mitt Romney’s well-funded attack machine is on their seek-and-destroy mission, and talk radio is often the avenue Rick Santorum uses to dispel those false accusations. We have been on talk radio probably more than any of the other candidates combined.” With the Michigan and Arizona primaries tomorrow, Talk Radio Network-syndicated “America’s Morning News” with John McCaslin and Dana Mills is the beneficiary with interviews with Mitt Romney at 8:15 am today and Rick Santorum at 8:30 am.
INNOVATIVE MODEL SET FOR NEW MEDIA SEMINAR 2012. Plans have been set for the 15th annual installment of the New Media Seminar, the longest-running, largest and most important annual talk media industry convention. This year’s version marks the innovative launch of an updated model sensitive to the tough economic and stressful conditions of the times. Significant restructuring has been applied to lower the costs of registration, accommodations and travel as well as moving the event from the weekend to a weekday. According to TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, “Both conferences will be national in scope and regional in flavor, a recipe that worked amazingly well at last year’s successful experiment, the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum.”
NMS 2012 will consist of two one-day conferences. The first will be held in New York City on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side. The second – presented in association with the Los Angeles Press Club – will take place on Thursday, October 11 in Los Angeles at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.
According to Harrison, “We learned a tremendous amount at last year’s ‘happening’ in L.A. There is something very exciting, fulfilling and productive about one single, power-packed day with no time-wasting fat or money-wasting frills. It was executed purposefully under the radar to test the waters for this new model on a national scale and it succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, reaching maximum registration capacity in a matter of days. Although the New Media Seminar has actually grown consistently larger and has been a sell-out every year of its existence, we recognize that conditions are such that a change would eventually be necessary as well as beneficial to the working person in our business – at least during this stressful period of tight budgets and high industry economic uncertainty. At TALKERS we insist on being ahead of the curve. Industry conferences need to include and be accessible to professionals in the trenches as well as the corporate elite. This new model is a gift to the business.”
Because quick sell-outs for each event are expected, registration will be limited to working media. For registration and sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details, agenda updates and hotel information will be announced in the coming days here at Talkers.com and in the TALKERS morning headlines e-mailer. Stay tuned!
NPR Announces Promotions and New Executive Structure. NPR promotes Kinsey Wilson to the position executive vice president and chief content officer and makes Margaret Low Smith the senior vice president of NPR news, a position she’s been serving in the “acting” vein since last January. NPR president and CEO Gary Knell states, “This is a time of great opportunity for NPR and our member stations. In Kinsey and Margaret we have two journalists, strategists and leaders with a keen understanding of the craft that distinguishes NPR – and how we must continue to innovate and evolve. Our collective aim is to work with stations to become an unrivaled leader in news and cultural coverage that reaches all Americans, no matter how they tune in.” Wilson has been with NPR since 2008 as SVP and general manager of digital media. NPR also announces Eric Nuzum steps permanently into the vice president for programming role. Plus, vice president of diversity in news & operations Keith Woods is charged with broadening with member stations to support public radio’s drive for greater diversity in its audience, staffing and content. Woods will work closely with vice president for membership and audience partnership Joyce MacDonald.
Ric Edelman’s Weekly Financial Talk Show Clears KFI, Los Angeles. “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman” – the nationally syndicated financial talk show hosted by one of the nation’s top-ranked financial advisors – is added to the weekend lineup at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles airing Sundays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Edelman’s program is now heard in 54 markets, including 25 of the top 30 markets. Edelman says. “I’m excited to join KFI’s outstanding lineup and look forward to bringing financial education to so many people in Southern California.”
KGO, San Francisco Makes Changes to Weekend Schedule; More News Content Added. Responding to listener feedback, the Cumulus Media Group station announces changes to its weekend schedule that includes the addition of traffic reports every 10 minutes plus live weather reports with ABC 7 meteorologists to serve listeners out in their cars on the weekend. News and program director Brian Hosley announces two new programs: “Cooking with Ryan Scott,” airing Saturdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and “The Monty Show,” hosted by Tim Montemayor and airing from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Hosley says Montemayor’s show will address local and timely issues. Montemayor is an East Bay resident who has worked in Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis as well as being syndicated nationally with Sporting News Radio. “He is a self-proclaimed ‘news junkie’ and is excited to talk with listeners about the stories that matter to them most.”
Cox Media Group’s WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia Prepares for Martha Zoller’s Congressional Run. The station positioned as “Bulldog 103.7” – Cox Media Group’s talk and sports hybrid WXKT-FM – is running a contest for a fill-in for “one of our most popular hosts” who “will be occupied for a few months.” The station doesn’t mention Martha Zoller by name but the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon host has said she’ll run as a Republican for the new congressional seat created by population changes and redistricting. The station is asking, “Do you have strong ties to the Gainesville area? Do you keep abreast of local, state and national issues? Can you have civil discussions with those who hold differing viewpoints? Can you keep talking and keep it interesting for hours on end? Then Bulldog 103.7 has a microphone with your name on it.” Applicants must write the station and in 100 words or less tell why they should get the gig.
Clear Channel’s Hartford Sports Talkers Split Affiliation. The new FM sports talk station Clear Channel Media and Entertainment put on the air recently – WUCS 97.9 FM ESPN – has been simulcasting with AM sister WPOP. Beginning March 5, WPOP will break off from the simulcast and affiliate with Fox Sports Radio. It will also carry the DirecTV-produced and Premiere Networks-distributed Dan Patrick show.
Opinion: Richard Neer Responds to Phil Valentine. Regarding the debate over the use of terms or phrases on broadcasts or in print historically regarded as ethnic slurs, TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer responds to Dial Global Nashville-based talk host Phil Valentine who wrote this opinion piece called “Controlling the Language” published by TALKERS on Friday (2/24). Valentine was responding to Neer’s original column published last week here. In his response, Neer contests the notion that “words can’t hurt” and points out humanity’s tendency toward ethnic pride as one of the underlying reasons why ethnic slurs exist in the first place. Read Neer’s piece here.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — First, the advice I’m giving is pretty simple: In this day and age of instant communication, it is downright foolish to risk your career over what in the past might have been considered a harmless ethnic joke. As to whether lifetime banishment is appropriate for a thoughtless remark, that’s another discussion.
Many factors go into what an employer should do in such cases. It’s a judgment call as to intent. Once a firestorm has been created around a specific comment, rarely will anyone admit that they deliberately put something out there that could be construed as offensive. Excuses can be quite legitimate. I very much doubt that everyone under 30 is aware that the word “chink” is a derogatory term for Chinese. And the offending phrase including “in the armor” has been in usage for centuries in warfare and for decades as it pertains to a perceived weakness in an athletic sense. We might be on a dangerous road that eventually will forbid the term “Achilles’ heel” as insulting to Greeks. Not understanding every archaic phrase of the English language should not rise to the level of firing offense.
It would be great if the old adage that “words can never hurt me” could be applied in all cases. And if we could magically erase all bigotry from the world, there would be no need to take offense at any expression. But sadly, we have not reached that point and I doubt we ever will. Therefore, any use of words that implies that my heritage is inferior to yours will be hurtful. It’s easy to tell someone they shouldn’t be offended. In practice however, it dismisses racial history. Would that we could all adhere to the philosophy expressed in the GEICO commercial and merely “skip the pancake social.”
The group identity question raised by Mr. Valentine ignores history as well. In earlier times, how many Italians took pride in the accomplishments of Joe DiMaggio; or Irishmen with a number of champion boxers; or Jews with Hank Greenberg? People vote for candidates for president sometimes on the sole basis that he’s “one of us,” even though his policies may be antithetical to their interests. Why deny the same rooting interest to the Chinese or Taiwanese? Ethnic pride is raised by overcoming the negative stereotype – after years of being told that you can’t do something, people take satisfaction in proving that they can, thus putting the stereotypes to bed, at least temporarily.
I would agree that when the usage of a term is clearly unintentional, a reprimand and a warning about careless use of language should suffice. It’s hard to read the dismissed ESPN employee’s statement that his actions should outweigh his words and not sympathize. Employers should show more courage and loyalty toward their workers when an honest mistake has been made. And in the case of the suspended anchor who is actually married to an Asian, good sense should prevail over the expediency of punishment for the sake of public relations.
But until we reach that time of enlightenment, my original point stands: DON’T GO THERE. And educate yourself about which waters are perilous to tread and avoid them. If that fails, pray that you have a supportive employer.
But what we can’t defend is if a media figure deliberately ignores sensitivities for the sake of a cheap laugh line. In that case, beware the righteous wrath that will be unleashed.
Richard Neer is a sports talk host at WFAN, New York, an anchor on A Touch of Grey, and sports editor of TALKERS magazine. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
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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.
By Phil Valentine
Talk Show Host
WWTN-FM, Nashville/Dial Global
NASHVILLE — I read Richard Neer’s piece. (“When it Comes to Ethnic Slurs, Just Don’t Go There” 2/23/12) and, quite frankly, it frightened me. Somehow too many people have succumbed to the notion that something doesn’t have to be offensive, it just has to sound offensive. Case in point? ESPN.
ESPN editor Anthony Federico found out the hard way. His headline on ESPN’s website got him fired. The egregious headline was as follows: “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets.”
Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Ah, he should’ve known better,” but Federico says the word “chink” as a slur against someone Chinese never entered his mind. “This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” Federico told the New York Daily News. Doesn’t matter, Anthony. It sounded offensive to the self-anointed oversensitive media watchers and you were sacrificed at the altar of political correctness.
What really bugs me is how the mainstream media have portrayed Jeremy Lin as Chinese. He’s no more Chinese than I am. He was born and raised in California. He’s as American as me yet he’s offered up as some kind of Chinese sensation. They even show large groups of people gathered back in Taiwan crowded around big screen TVs. Sure, his parents are from Taiwan, but he isn’t.
I wonder if these same media types ever talk about black athletes in terms of being “African.” They indeed use the PC term “African-American” but not in their wildest dreams would they cut away to some folks in Nigeria watching NBA hoops.
Portraying a guy who ‘looks’ Chinese as being from China is as stereotypical as it gets. It’s like all this glory in which Lin is basking is being piped back to the motherland. How about some speculation that Lin is so hot right now because he’s able to calculate the trajectory of the ball in some freakishly difficult math equation because we all know Asians are great at math.
The week prior to Federico’s headline, ESPN anchor Max Bretos used the same term, “chink in the armor,” when asking a former Knicks player about Lin on the air. It wasn’t until the Federico headline that Bretos was called on the carpet. (I’m sorry. Is that offensive to Arabs? Carpet? Did I mean flying carpet?)
By the way, Bretos was suspended for 30 days. No word from ESPN as to why it is that saying it is less offensive than writing it.
So, let’s just strike the phrase “chink in the armor” from ESPN’s lexicon. Forget that it has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone Chinese. Doesn’t matter. You think anyone else at ESPN is going to ever utter that phrase again, to anyone about anybody or anything?
See, this is what political correctness does. Moreover, this is exactly what political correctness is designed to do. It’s designed to control the language and as I wrote several years ago in the book The Conservative’s Handbook, controlling the language ranks right up there with controlling the currency. In fact, it can be said that language is the currency of thought. So now we have the very definition of the thought police. Each and every person who writes or reports for ESPN will forever edit themselves before they ever let that term move from their mind to their mouth. Mission accomplished.
The politically correct have a long list of words and phrases they want stricken from the language because they’ve managed to become offended on behalf of someone else. Need I bring up the whole ‘Redskins/Braves’ brouhaha?
The folks at ESPN are now on notice. Even the most innocent slip of the tongue can get you fired. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next Indianapolis 500 is begun with, “Gentlemen, start your native Americans.”
Phil Valentine is a Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host based at WWTN-FM, Nashville. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hot Rumor! Dial Global’s Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz are cooperating to deliver a one-two punch of top progressive talk radio. TALKERS columnist Mona Lipschitz reports her sources indicate two of the industry’s biggest progressive talk radio hosts – both syndicated by Dial Global and currently distributed live at the same time – are agreeing to be heard live back-to-back in order to give affiliates six straight hours of quality lib talk! Read more here.
Non-Com WAMU-FM, Washington News Director Resigns on Principle. Depending on whom you ask, former WAMU-FM, Washington news director Jim Asendio is either a very principled journalist or a relic of the past. Asendio resigned from the popular public radio station as news director after learning that some of his reporters were to attend a get-together with high-profile donors and he was expected to attend as well. Asendio tells the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple that, after learning about the “major station event” and indicating to management that he would not attend because it broke down the “firewall” between the journalistic and the business aspects of operating the station, he was told his refusal would signal he was not part of the team and that would be a problem. Instead, Asendio chose to resign his position. Licensee American University has no comment on the matter and Asendio says he wishes his newsroom “all the success.”
Opinion: When it Comes to Ethnic Slurs, Just Don’t Go There. In his latest column, TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer writes that American broadcasting standards are changing. Anyone who is on the air or writes for broadcast has to be especially aware of and sensitive to words and phrases that can be interpreted as ethnic slurs. As the recent cases involving sports media giant ESPN and New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin and KFI, Los Angeles’ John and Ken and the death of Whitney Houston illustrate, there are no more excuses for not “getting it.” Read more here.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Premiere Networks’ Delilah, Fox Sports Radio’s Deb Carson and Greater Media’s Sheri Lynch Among 2012 Gracie Award Winners. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announces the 2012 national winners of the 37th Annual Gracie Awards to be presented on May 22 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The Gracies recognize “exemplary programming created for women, by women and about women in all facets of media and entertainment, as well as individuals who have made contributions to the industry. The awards program also encourages the realistic and multifaceted portrayal of women in entertainment, news, features and other programs.” MSNBC star Rachel Maddow is being recognized in the “Outstanding Host – News/Non-Fiction” category. Premiere Networks late-night radio host Delilah is named the winner in the “Outstanding Host – Entertainment/Information” category. Fox Sports Radio national sports anchor Deb Carson wins for “Outstanding Reporter/Correspondent.” Greater Media Charlotte-based talk host Sheri Lynch (of the Bob & Sheri show) wins for the Sheri Lynch Commencement Address in the “Outstanding Talk Show – Entertainment/Information” category.
Legendary Actress Hosting South Florida Talk Show. Show biz star Jo Ann Pflug – you probably remember her from her role as Lt. Maria “Dish” Schneider in the movie M*A*S*H – hosts a weekend talk show on Seaview Radio based at WSVU, North Palm Beach, Florida. Her unique show on this standards station targets the demo beautifully. TALKERS columnist Mona Lipschitz writes about Ms. Pflug’s show, and the station, in her latest column here.
CKWX, Vancouver Traffic Reporter Bruce Williams Dies Unexpectedly. Bruce Williams was a longtime traffic reporter and air personality at Rogers Media’s CKWX, Vancouver BC. He had been treated for colon cancer in 2010 but recovered quickly and returned to work at News 1130. Station program director Treena Wood states, “We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Bruce’s family at this difficult time, and our hearts and thoughts are with them.” Vice president and general manager Geoff Poulton said, “Bruce will be remembered for his humility and as the first to lend a hand. He was the calm voice of reason for the afternoon commute, and will be deeply missed by all the entire Rogers Radio family and his loyal listeners.”
SRN’s Dennis Prager Does Live Event in Torrance, California on Sunday. The Salem Radio Network talk show host will appear at the James Armstrong Theater in Torrance, California on Sunday, February 26 to deliver a presentation titled, “Happiness is not a feeling: It’s a moral obligation.” The event is produced by the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation and sponsored locally by Toyota Motor Sales USA. TCAF promotes Dennis Prager’s presentation stating, “One of America’s most popular speakers, Dennis Prager is truly a 21st century Renaissance Man. He’s a syndicated columnist and radio show host, bestselling author, a classical-music conductor, even a respected authority on morality, religion and happiness. Dennis comes to the Armstrong for another of his entertaining and enlightening speeches… reminding us that Happiness is not a feeling: It’s a moral obligation.”
GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Syria Violence Claims Journalists, Afghanistan Protests, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, and Rising Gas Prices Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/22). The looming Michigan and Arizona GOP primaries and last night’s Republican debate in Phoenix; the ongoing violence in Syria and the deaths of two journalists there; continuing protests in Afghanistan over the desecration of a Koran at a U.S. military base; Iran’s nuclear ambitions; and rising gas prices in the United States were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — The nation has been deluged with Lin-sanity.
The story of the young Harvard grad bursting onto the NBA scene from obscurity rivals the media hype in 1975 when Time and Newsweek both deigned to feature Bruce Springsteen on their respective covers, proclaiming him the next Bob Dylan. Of course, Bruce survived the hype to become one of our most enduring rockers, but can the Jeremy Lin story survive a three game losing streak?
There are so many elements to his rise that have permeated sports talk over the last month. Why was he overlooked in the draft and subsequently cut by two teams? Was ethnicity a factor or did this episode just reveal that there are holes in the NBA scouting system? If he was playing somewhere other than New York and if he wasn’t Asian-American, would the media glare be anywhere near this intense?
Media figures have already been fired or suspended for insensitivity toward his background. We have reached a point in our nation where any reference to a person’s ethnicity that can be viewed in any way as stereotyping or prejudicial can be grounds for dismissal.
The lesson learned is – DON’T GO THERE! And this doesn’t only apply to utterances on a radio program. With the social media being what it is, a seemingly harmless tweet intended to be amusing or even an e-mail sent to a personal friend can go viral and cost you a job, maybe a career. We have entered an era where you must treat your life as if you are before a live mic 24/7/365.
Interestingly, comedians who previously seemed exempt from this rule are now under increased scrutiny. Even the idea that, “I’m Italian so I can make mafia jokes” rationale doesn’t fly these days.
It is important to know what the latest acceptable appellation is. There was a time when “oriental” was deemed appropriate, but many now consider it offensive and substitute the word “asian,” and there may come a time when even that is unacceptable. Observational jokes about physical characteristics or cultural tendencies are just not going to play anymore.
We continually walk a very fine line. We are expected to be “edgy” and “hip” and “entertaining.” We are expected to push the envelope. Words like “suck,” “bitch,” “piss,” “penis,” and “ass,” which weren’t to be used on the radio, are now being sprinkled into nationally aired commercials. Subjects that were considered obscene are now casually chatted about.
Does this represent progress for our industry? Even listening to a sporting event with our kids can lead to embarrassing moments. We now advertise products that we know don’t work. We air programs that openly lie or at least mislead the public, but hey, they pay the rent. These are not things to be proud of.
But increased sensitivity toward the feelings of others is a step in the right direction. Mocking someone for their ethnic background was never a good thing. At least it can be said that we have made some progress in a positive direction.
Return to Main News page here.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK –– Consider the fate of the habitual sportstalk caller –– those who phone in on a regular basis, often several times daily.
They develop a sense of entitlement over time, as if they are featured players on the show. Indeed, some may harbor beliefs that they are more important contributors than the host. They bristle when they are placed on hold for long periods awaiting their turn at bat, and complain about how they are treated if they don’t feel they are accorded sufficient time to make their point. Frequent callers believe they have a personal relationship with you and feel betrayed if you don’t reciprocate.
A sports talk host can have ambivalent notions toward regulars. One one hand, you are thankful for their devotion when calls are slow, yet resentful when they pose an obstacle to continuity if they attempt to muscle in ahead of those more worthy.
Certainly there are regulars who consistently add value to the program –– they may represent a contrarian point of view that spurs heated response or even offer greater expertise than the host on a given subject due to their singular devotion to a particular sport or team. But for every one of these assets, there are those who merely love the sound of their own voice on the radio and/or whose opinions contribute nothing to the program’s entertainment value.
The sports talker is also a managing editor. Your main charge is to entertain a (hopefully) vast audience, not to kow-tow to a small coterie of regular callers.
As a human being, it is hard not to empathize with these callers. Consider how frustrating it is to call a merchant with a vital issue and have to wade through 10 minutes of menus before being placed on hold to speak to a living person. You then are dispatched summarily if you don’t have your order number handy. Calling a popular program can be a similarly unnerving experience, especially if the respondent feels a kinship with the host.
A good producer should help. If a regular wants to talk tennis in the middle of a heated NFL debate, a kindly request to call in at another time may suffice. Or the familiar, “We’re experiencing a heavy volume of calls,” when the point they are trying to make is better expressed by others. It’s a delicate balancing act to keep the steady callers satisfied while not compromising the quality of the program. To quote Nick Lowe, your producer may need to be “cruel to be kind,” and not accede them air time whenever they choose to pick up the phone.
Perhaps you can judiciously wean out the sense of entitlement and still remain on good terms. In some cases however, a clean break is the best solution. It will cause hurt feelings, but your first priority must be to the greater audience.
TALKERS Top News/Talk Stories and People of 2011. The editors of TALKERS are publishing the annual lists of the most-talked-about stories and people of 2011 as heard on America’s news/talk radio stations. The year-end lists are compiled from data from TALKERS ongoing research that is used for the weekly charts of news/talk radio’s top stories and people during the year. It’s important to underscore that many consumer media outlets publish annual lists of top news stories and people and those are often the results of data culled from Western news organizations. TALKERS data is unique in that it reports popular stories and people talked about on American news/talk radio stations. See the TALKERS year-end charts here.
Penn State Scandal Tops the TALKERS 10 Most Talked About Stories on Sports Talk Radio in 2011. Like any list, this one comes with qualifications. What constitutes a major story in New York might get precious little attention in Chicago. Although we talk in terms of “national pastimes,” the truth is that for the most part, sports interest is local. With that in mind, the following is the TALKERS list of the most talked about sports stories of 2011.
1. Penn State Scandal. This story dominated sports talk radio throughout the late fall. A legendary coach is fired and shocking testimony is unveiled — documenting unspeakable acts against minors. The Syracuse basketball program is rocked in a similar case, but as of this writing, the alleged perpetrator has escaped legal action. To read Richard Neer’s full list click here.
WAXY, Miami PD Marc Hochman Steps Down from Programming Role to Focus on Dan LeBatard Program. For the past two years, Marc Hochman has been serving in the dual role as program director for Lincoln Financial Media’s WAXY, Miami and executive producer and second co-host for the station’s Dan LeBatard PM drive show. Now Hochman says he’ll leave the PD post to concentrate on his role with the program, “It became obvious to me that I would be serving the radio station and radio show better if I were to focus only on one. There are many opportunities presenting themselves to ‘The Dan LeBatard Show’ so I’ve decided to focus 100% of my attention on the show and its future. Lincoln Financial Media has been super supportive of my decision. They’re thrilled I’m going to remain part of the radio station and they’ve asked me to remain in the PD position until they are able to find a replacement.” WAXY is beginning a search for a new programmer immediately.
Sports KILT, Houston Debuts New Local Midday Show; Premiere’s Jim Rome Exits. CBS Radio Houston debuts a new midday show called “Mad Radio” featuring Mike Meltser and Brad Davies in the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm slot. Meltser has served as the morning show news anchor on KILT and Brien Straw will take over that position according to the Houston Chronicle. Brad Davies previously worked at crosstown sports talker KBME-FM. Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome was one of the first major market affiliates for the program when it leaped from its Southern California base to national syndication in 1997 and has been a mainstay of KILT for those 14 years. But program director Gavin Spittle says it’s simply a matter of ratings and Rome’s program is the only one that doesn’t beat its three sports talk radio competitors in the market. “This is a performance-based business, and we have exhausted our options. We like Jim and thank him for all he has done for the station. He has been a huge fan of Sports Radio 610, and we have been huge fans of Jim Rome. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the ratings in Houston have slid to the point where a change is necessary.”
Former Marketing Director Sues CBS Radio Philadelphia for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination. As reported in the Philadelphia Daily News, former KYW, Philadelphia marketing director Shelley Kanther is suing the company alleging suffering “severe and pervasive” sexual harassment and discrimination and being fired after speaking up about it. Kanther’s attorney, Samuel First, writes in the suit that work environment at CBS Philadelphia was “toxic” with male co-workers telling Kanther “to wear skirts more often, swat at her butt and considered offering her money to make out with another worker.” The suit singles out SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield as the “worst offender” and alleges he fired Kanther when she complained. The suit also says VP and general sales manager David Yadgaroff failed to take action when asked to do so. CBS Radio is not commenting on the suit.
KQV, Pittsburgh to Air Robert Dickey Retrospective Today. Calvary senior partner and KQV, Pittsburgh president and general manager Robert Dickey passed away last week at age 84. KQV anchor PJ Maloney has produced a 50-minute retrospective of the man who dedicated his professional life to radio. The station says, “This special will include tributes from broadcasters, staff, friends and public officials…people who have known and worked with Bob Dickey during his 60-plus years in broadcasting.” The special airs this morning (12/30) at 10:10 am on KQV and is being repeated at 11:10 to allow staff to attend this morning’s funeral mass.
Bart Ritner, Pioneering North Carolina Radio Talker, Dies at 76. According to reports, the 39-year veteran of WPTF, Raleigh died on Wednesday (12/28) after a long battle with abdominal cancer. He was a regional pioneer of the call-in style of talk radio famous for impartiality and tremendous interviewing skills. According to the Greensboro News and Record, his interviews covered the gamut including President Lyndon Johnson, arsenic killer Velma Barfield and North Carolina Ku Klux Klan leaders. His reputation for even-handedness led to him serving as a mediator who helped resolve a dangerous standoff at Raleigh’s maximum-security Central prison.