Tag: "Ronn Owens"

AM Radio — What Do We Do About It?

| August 20, 2014

By Bill Brady
Futures & Options, Inc.
President/CEO

 

bradybillJUPITER, FL — No entity has suffered more from the disastrous effects of radio consolidation than AM radio.  No format has suffered more than news/talk.  The fates of both are intertwined.

News/talk isn’t just a different format, it’s a different business.  News/talk stations used to be stand-alone operations managed by broadcasters who nurtured and cared for them.  They were sold by dedicated sales teams who knew well the format’s ability to bring customers through their client’s doors.

With the dawn of consolidation, news/talk stations suddenly found themselves in big station clusters with managers who were preoccupied with their other stations.  Often, these were music station GMs without news/talk backgrounds — and they weren’t at all prepared for the cranky, petulant, expense-laden news/talk AMs they were suddenly forced to deal with.

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V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N (or is it?)

| August 28, 2013

Thoughts and observations about some of the best in the West: Ron Owens, K-EARTH 101, and listening to a transmitted signal on hallowed ground

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

cookeBLOCK ISLAND, RI — Vacation and I tend to elude each other.  Although I live in a summertime destination, I bug-out JUST as seasonal funsters invade.  The natural travel cycle for radio consultants is after-the-Spring-book and as-we’re-planning-for the Fall survey and budget-planning for the new year.  OK, OK, it’s also convenient that my perennial seven week non-stop station visit trek occurs during baseball season.  I see the Red Sox everywhere BUT Fenway Park.

And like anyone self-employed, in any industry, I feel like I never stop working!  But I did last week…or at least I intended to.  As I’m sure you do when you hear radio elsewhere-in-your-travels, I couldn’t help listening critically…yet I still experienced radio more like a consumer than a vendor to my client stations.

Three radio notes from my trip, and not just so I can write-it-off, honest…

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

| February 7, 2013

owensronnRonn Owens Signs New Deal with KGO, San Francisco.  The iconic Bay Area talk radio fixture begins his 38th year in the radio business after signing a two-year guaranteed deal with an option for a third year.  Ronn Owens was reported by Bay Area media blogger Rich Lieberman to be on his way out at the Cumulus Media heritage talker back in the fall – a story TALKERS picked up on – but that did not happen and it appears Owens is likely to mark his 40th anniversary in the business at KGO in a couple of years.  At a time when legendary personalities across the country are being ousted from their programs due to budget cuts and programming changes, it’s nice to see a figure of Owens’ magnitude sign up for a new tour of duty!

eaganbraudeBoston Media Personalities Margery Eagan and Jim Braude Land at Pubcaster WGBH.  Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan and Boston TV and radio personality Jim Braude will begin hosting a daily 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm talk program on public radio outlet WGBH, Boston beginning February 25, almost two months after they exited Greater Media’s WTKK, Boston due to a format change.   Eagan and Braude hosted mornings at WTKK for much of the 13 years they were at WTKK.  The Boston Herald reports the current midday hosts at WGBH – Callie Crossley and Emily Rooney – will be featured on the new program as well.

paiajitFCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to Address AM Band at NAB Show in April.  The National Association of Broadcasters announces FCC Commissioner Ajit V. Pai will lead a session on AM radio revitalization at the NAB Show in Las Vegas on Monday, April 8.  The NAB states, “Broadcasters are exploring the challenges and opportunities related to revitalizing AM radio while continuing to provide the popular, local programming that millions of listeners rely on daily. This session, held within the Broadcast Management Conference, will address possible options for sustaining and enhancing AM radio as a unique entertainment medium.  Commissioner Pai, who has expressed special interest in the future of AM radio, will moderate a panel of AM radio leaders, engineers and policy experts.”

olivertrevorTrevor Oliver Exits Premiere Networks.  After 15 years with Premiere Networks, Trevor Oliver exits his SVP of operations position.  Oliver tells TALKERS magazine he leaves the company on very good terms and that he’s looking forward to his next opportunity.  Oliver, who joined Premiere in 1998, has an excellent reputation in the industry and TALKERS has no doubt he’ll put his numerous talents to use in the business somewhere very soon.

malonesamTalk Host Sam Malone to Return to Houston Airwaves (and Cablewaves!).  Houston radio personality Sam Malone – most recently heard in the market on Dan Patrick-owned news/talk KSEV – will begin a new program on Phonoscope Cable and the show will be simulcast on a local talk radio station to be named later.  The Houston Chronicle reports that Malone, who is serving as president of Phonoscope New Media, says the idea for a video and audio show grew out of his experience with Phonoscope.  “This is where radio will be going in the future.  We need to get the message to smartphones and iPads, not just car radios.”  In addition to KSEV, Malone has also worked at music outlets KRBE and KHMX in Houston.  He tells the Chronicle he’ll announce the radio station he’ll be on next week but says it’s a station he has not worked for in the past.

sweeneyjohnFormer Congressman John Sweeney to Host Albany Talk Show.  Four-term Republican Congressman John Sweeney begins a daily one-hour talk show on Capital Broadcasting’s WGDJ, Albany “Talk 1300.”  Sweeney joined president and general manager Paul Vandenburgh on his morning program to announce he’ll begin the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon program on Monday, February 11.  Sweeney says, “One of the things I miss about being in the public eye is my day-to-day interaction with the people.”  Vandenburgh states, “John has consistently been a leader in the Capital District.  Our goal from day one has been to provide a local product on a daily basis and John will be a marvelous addition.”

ramseyknoxDave Ramsey Knocks ‘em Dead in Knoxville.  Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey presented his “Building Your Legacy” event to a sold-out crowd in Knoxville recently.  Ramsey talked about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence and worked with his daughter Rachel Cruze, who joined him on stage for the presentation.  Ramsey teamed up with local affiliate WNOX-FM to promote this event.  WNOX general manager Ed Brantley states, “Dave Ramsey’s ‘Building Your Legacy’ was a huge success not only for WNOX-FM and our sponsors but for the community.  Dave’s up-close-and-personal approach captured the sold-out crowd.”

la talk radio logoLA Talk Radio Celebrates 5th Anniversary.  The Los Angeles-based internet talk radio station is celebrating its fifth year “on the air.”  Founder Sam Hasson says, “LA Talk Radio has found its success in emerging radio talent in Los Angeles and the rest of the world.  We now provide over 80 shows of quality programming, giving ambitious hosts a vocal platform where they can build their listening audience.”  LA Talk Radio was born on February 4, 2008, as BBS Talk Radio launched in a “small but comfortable office” in a luxurious high-rise building in downtown Los Angeles.  It wasn’t long before Hasson had three daily shows and six weekly shows and soon thereafter began broadcasting 24 hours a day.

patrickmorgan gunsKTRH and KPRC, Houston’s Matt Patrick Faces Off with Piers Morgan on Gun Issue.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment personality Matt Patrick (r) – whose programs air on KTRH, Houston in AM drive and on sister KPRC in afternoons – is pictured here at a live remote broadcast from Tactical Firearms in Houston.  Patrick tells TALKERS magazine the remote was a “spirited and interactive show to a live audience of listeners.”  Patrick’s program aired live before CNN personality and gun legislation advocate Piers Morgan (c) brought his television show to the same location later that evening to argue for the proposed ban on high volume semi-automatic weapons. “Piers Morgan Tonight” aired from Tactical Firearms after Morgan agreed to come and use the gun range and try to experience why Texans love their guns.  Morgan agreed to appear on the final segment of Patrick’s program in front of a live audience.

kykn gun rallyKYKN, Salem, Oregon’s Bill Post Draws Crowd to Gun Rally.  Willamette Broadcasting’s KYKN, Salem helped draw a crowd of some 3,000 to the Oregon State Capitol on January 19 for a rally dubbed, “Guns Across America.”  A key speaker at the event was 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm talk host Bill Post (at the mic) who addressed the crowd about the gun legislation issue.  The station reports that requests for autographs and photos with Post were overwhelming.

Deficit Reduction Debate; Obama Drone Killing Controversy; Gun Legislation Proposals; Chris Christie Weight Flap and Obama Care Costs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/6).  The debate in Washington over reducing the deficit via tax and spending cuts; President Obama’s insistence on the right to use drones to kill U.S. citizens; the move to enact new gun control legislation; the media flap over Governor Chris Christie’s weight; and the looming costs of the Affordable Care Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

| September 27, 2012

Big Changes in Atlanta Talk Radio: Clear Channel to Flip WGST-AM/FM, Atlanta to Spanish or Comedy and Rush Limbaugh Moves to Cox’s WSB-AM/FM.  Exactly what format Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will flip longtime news/talk WGST-AM (which is simulcast on an FM translator at 92.3) to – whether it will be a Spanish format or a comedy format – remains to be seen.  But talk pro Rusty Humphries, who handled PM drive for the station is gone and Premiere’s Glenn Beck ran in his place Wednesday.  The status of morning hosts Rob Johnson and Dave Merlino is not known, however WGST is airing “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” in place of Johnson and Merlino.  Humphries, who hosts a separate program that is nationally syndicated via Talk Radio Network, tells TALKERS magazine, “It is always sad to see a news/talk facility such as WGST change to another format but I am grateful for the time I had there and was able to spend doing local radio in Atlanta.  The people at Clear Channel are fine people and I enjoyed working with them.  For me, the good news is that I will have a lot more time to devote to my nationally syndicated TRN program which is growing by leaps and bounds.”  Attempts by TALKERS to get response from Clear Channel management in Atlanta confirming the format change have not been successful.  Meanwhile, across town at Cox Media’s WSB-AM/FM, the station announces Rush Limbaugh, who is heard on WGST, will move to WSB beginning Monday, October 1.  At the same time WSB announces a new long-term deal with Premiere’s Sean Hannity for the PM drive slot and the return of “Atlanta’s Evening News” airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm hosted by Erick Erickson.  Cox Media’s Clark Howard will still emanate from WSB for his nationally syndicated program heard on some 200 affiliates across the country but will move to the 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot on WSB.  In order to accommodate the Limbaugh acquisition, the Neal Boortz program moves to the 8:30 am to 12:00 noon slot.

Armstrong & Getty Return Today.  KSTE, Sacramento-based morning duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are back on the air this morning with Armstrong telling Sacramento TV station KTXL “Fox40” that the reason the duo was off the air on Tuesday and Wednesday was due to an “internal” reason and not because of their call to have listeners post cartoons, photos etc. that criticize Islam.  It had been widely reported the two had been suspended for the incident.  In fact, Armstrong tells the TV station the audio file of Monday’s controversial show will return to the online archives soon.  He says they will address the matter first thing today on the program at 6:00 am PT.

Talk Host Phil Valentine Decries Political Correctness.  Writing that the fear of offending those groups of people from which terrorists have sprung has put the shoe on the other foot and now the media is being terrorized, nationally syndicated talk host Phil Valentine laments the state of the media in America.  He says, “I’ve often joked that the only two groups we in talk radio can get away with offending are the deaf and the Amish.  Other offenses might require throwing yourself at the mercy of Jesse Jackson or apologizing to some LGBT group.  Now there is an offense from which you may never come back and that is offending a Muslim.”  Valentine penned this piece for TALKERS after hearing about the case of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty.  Valentine’s piece is an interesting look at the intersection of politics and media in our current age.  Read it here.

Media Blogger Rich Lieberman Stands By Ronn Owens Story.  Rich Lieberman, who operates the 415 Media blog, wrote a post recently predicting that KGO, San Francisco talk legend Ronn Owens would have his contract – which expires at the end of this year – bought out and he would disappear from KGO early with the station moving in a newsier direction.  TALKERS reported this and Owens responded that Lieberman’s report is “totally made up.”  He also told TALKERS Lieberman has been attacking him for the past year for the changes that have taken place at KGO since Cumulus Media took over the station.  Now, Lieberman tells TALKERS he stands by his story.  “My sources are strong and I believe in them.  This has been a story I have sat on for nearly three weeks.  I finally went with it after talk and e-mailing Bay Area broadcast people familiar with the subject at hand.  I do NOT just dish out any speculation and innuendo without first trying to get it right.”  Apparently, only time will tell what the future holds for Ronn Owens at KGO.

20 Years and Going Strong.  Nationally syndicated talk superstar Dave Ramsey is pictured here holding the pewter statuette of a classic radio microphone given to him by his staff in honor of his 20th anniversary in the talk radio business.  Ramsey’s “official” anniversary is tomorrow – September 28 – and commemorates the day he and some friends took to the air on WWTN-FM, Nashville in a brokered time deal with the then-bankrupt station.  On Friday, a special episode of the program will air and include well-wishes from celebrities, friends and family; glimpses into the party at Ramsey’s Financial Peace Plaza; a look back at the history of the show; and calls from long-time listeners and second-generation callers.  Video of the show will be streamed live online.   Ramsey says, “I’m still surprised and honored that people call me at some of the most difficult and personal moments in their lives.  Giving people hope for their future and seeing lives changed is why I do this every day.”  He also credits his team for helping him achieve the success he has.  “I didn’t do this on my own.  Our producer, Blake Thompson, associate producer, Lara Johnson, engineer Matt Aaron and many other people have made it what it is today.  I have the best crew in radio, and we’ve been together for a long time, which is unheard of in the radio industry.”

The Young Guns of Talk Radio.  Ask anyone, especially those working for the consumer media, and they’ll tell you that personalities working as hosts on news/talk stations are all old, white men.  Radio’s general lack of a “farm system” doesn’t help that misconception much, but the truth is there are young people – some men and some women – working in news/talk radio today.  TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey writes about some of the young broadcasters working in news/talk now.  Not all of them agree that by being young, they have the ability to attract a younger audience to the format.  But some believe it can be a factor.  KNST, Tucson host and PD Garret Lewis, for example, says, “The fact that I’m 35 and my friends are around my age gives me an advantage because I know what makes a person in their late 20s and 30s get fired up emotionally and what interests them.”  Hosts talk with Casey about the issues of the demographic, who inspired them, how they approach their programs and what, if anything, can be done to get young people into the talk business.  Read this story here.

Looking for Political Ad Dollars.  Getting those political ad dollars – even getting them late – is a nice boost to a station’s or group’s revenue.  TALKERS magazine managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian talks with Portland Radio Group president and general manager Cary Pahigian about status of political money.  Pahigian says if you’re not in a potential swing state, the numbers (at least for presidential dollars) for radio are not rosy – at least not yet.  “With the exception of a few states, there does seem to be a lull,” Pahigian says.  He says the same pattern has developed over the past few election cycles.  “Depending on the landscape and circumstances, television is first in line and radio is second.  Everything changes though if there are issues and/or a tight race going on.”  Read Mike Kinosian’s full story here.

Three Senators and a Hopeful.  WIBC, Indianapolis late morning host Greg Garrison was visited by three U.S. Senators and one who hopes to become the next senator from the state of Indiana on his program on Wednesday during a campaign swing through the state capital.  Pictured here (from l-r) are: WIBC’s Todd Meyer, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Garrison, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Indiana State Treasurer and senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock, and Senator Dan Coats (R-IN).

Presidential Campaign Polls, Libya-al Qaeda Connection, Iran/Middle East Tensions, and NFL Referees Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/26).  The conflicting presidential election polls; the continuing query into the cause of the Libya terrorist attack; the state of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the political climate in the Middle East; and the status of the NFL’s referee situation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

| September 26, 2012

Ronn Owens Disputes Reports of His Demise at KGO.  Addressing yesterday morning’s lead story on the TALKERS magazine morning headlines, attributed to San Francisco media blogger Rich Lieberman, KGO talk show host Ronn Owens tells TALKERS there is no truth to the report that his contract will be bought out before it ends on December 31 and that the station will replace him with a newsy program.  Owens also tells TALKERS he has no knowledge of Cumulus Media’s plans beyond his contract but says, “Cumulus has been totally nice to me.”  Owens says Lieberman “has been attacking me for over a year for the changes that have taken place at KGO,” referring to the dismissal of other talk show hosts and staffers that took place after Cumulus assumed control of the station.  Owens says Lieberman’s blog story is “totally made up.”  He says, in fact, his agent is not Don Buchwald but is David Katz.  He also says he does not make a seven-figure salary and never said that his ego is too big to be paid $300,000, as Lieberman reported.  Regarding his future at KGO, Owens tells TALKERS, “San Francisco is the crown jewel of places to live and whatever happens after December 31 happens.”

CBS Radio’s Atlanta Sports FM Will Be “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game.”  Set to debut in mid-October, CBS Radio’s new FM sports talk outlet – the soon-to-be-former Triple A WZGC, Atlanta will take the handle “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game.”  Media chatter around Atlanta is that the station may reveal its lineup as early as next week in order to give the sales staff something concrete to pitch to clients prior to the launch.  Earlier media reports alluded to the possibility that “Two Live Stews” Doug and Ryan Stewart – recently dropped from crosstown WQXI “790 The Zone” – might pop up on the station but TALKERS sources indicate that will not be the case.  The programming philosophy we’re hearing about for this station is being termed as “fresh.”  Stay tuned!

Nation’s Biggest Talk Hosts Sign On to Petition Against TV Networks for Biased Election Coverage.  The missive detailing a complaint against ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN for “rigging this election and taking sides in order to pre-determine the outcome,” is penned by the conservative Media Research Center’s L. Brent Bozell III but it is signed by some of the country’s top nationally syndicated talk show hosts.  Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh, TRN’s Laura Ingraham and Cumulus Media NetworksMark Levin signed the open letter.  In it, Bozell writes, in part: “A free and balanced media are crucial to the health of this country.  It is your duty as journalists – as outlined in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics – to ‘distinguish between advocacy and news reporting,’ while simultaneously ‘seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.’  There is a reason why the media are viewed with such disdain by the American public, as evidenced by every recent poll on the issue.”

Armstrong & Getty Reportedly Suspended for Call to Criticize Islam.  The suspension has not been confirmed by Clear Channel Sacramento management but the duo of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty were off their KSTE, Sacramento flagship station as well as KKSF, San Francisco (where the show is simulcast) on Tuesday morning after the show sent out a press release promoting its call to listeners to post videos and photos critical of Islam and the prophet Muhammad to “flood the world with cartoons, movies and songs saying bad things about Muhammad until they finally grow up.  In other words, free speech,” stated Jack Armstrong.  The political blog The Right Perspective is reporting the duo have been suspended though it doesn’t state a period or confirmation of the sanction.  KTXL-TV, Sacramento produced a piece on the controversy and also was unable to get a comment on record from Clear Channel’s Sacramento management.

Radio’s Strengths in the Media Landscape.  Radio consultant Holland Cooke says the best session he attended at the recent 2012 Radio Show in Dallas was by Arbitron senior VP/marketing Bill Rose and highlighted how “Radio provides opportunities to reach consumers when advertising is relevant to what they are doing.”  Cooke says, “This document [the study cited] is a powerful selling tool, and real instructive to programmers and on-air talent…especially on-air talent that sells (and smart on-air talent does).”  The data Rose used in his presentation was from USA Touchpoints, a national sample that captures media usage, shopping behavior, emotional mindset, via smartphone app, every half hour, from 10-day panelists.  Read Holland Cooke’s report and analysis here.

WWNC, Asheville AM Drive Co-Host Jerri Jameson Moves On.  Morning drive co-host Jerri Jameson announces she will exit the Clear Channel station October 12 to pursue other interests.  Jameson writes on her station blog, “After more than 10 years with Clear Channel Asheville, it is time for me to move on from radio.  It was a difficult decision.  I have gotten to know some truly wonderful people in our great community and for that I will always be grateful.  Waking up each morning to share the daily goings on around town, the state and the world with you has truly been an honor I will treasure forever.”

The Young Guns of Talk Radio.  Ask anyone, especially those working for the consumer media, and they’ll tell you that personalities working as hosts on news/talk stations are all old, white men.  Radio’s general lack of a “farm system” doesn’t help that misconception much, but the truth is there are young people – some men and some women – working in news/talk radio today.  Tomorrow at Talkers.com, executive editor Kevin Casey writes about some of those broadcasters and their thoughts on being young and on the air in the news/talk business.

Willie Geist to Join NBC’s “Today.”  According to Brian Stelter’s Media  Decoder in The New York Times, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” cast member Willie Geist will become co-host of the 9:00 am hour of NBC’s “Today” program.  The deal has not been officially announced and Stelter reports Geist will still appear on “Morning Joe,” probably during the 6:00 am hour but will give up the “Way Too Early” 5:30 am newscast he’s been anchoring.  It’s also believed Geist will fill in for Matt Lauer when he is absent.

Rumors of Big Names Being Sought to Run CNN.  Sony chairman Howard Stringer is one of the executives rumored to be on the list of those being sought to take charge of struggling CNN when current chief Jim Walton leaves at the end of the year.  The New York Post reports a source inside CNN states, “We should know something in a month, perhaps before the elections. Unlike CNN International, we just don’t have someone with a mission.  We need our Roger Ailes.”  Other media execs reportedly being considered are former NBCUniversal president and CEO Jeff Zucker, former ABC News president David Westin, and former NBC News chief Neal Shapiro.

Odds & Sods. CBS Radio’s all-news KNX, Los Angeles takes its “KNX on Your Corner” live remote series to Glendale, California on October 19.  The day of programming will include features about Glendale’s history, current issues and plans for future growth. Coverage will include live interviews with city officials and other special guests.  The station will continue the series in Beverly Hills on December 7…..SiriusXM will present live coverage of the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament.  The biennial event pits the US against Europe and is being played this year at Medinah Country Club in Illinois.

Part of the Skyline.  CBS Radio’s all-news KYW, Philadelphia is now a part of the city’s skyline after the station put up a new, lit call letter sign atop its offices at 400 Market Street in downtown Philly.  The KYW logo and the iconic CBS “eye,” were hung over this past weekend and faces east, making it visible from Camden, New Jersey, I-95 and the Ben Franklin Bridge.  The station notes this was not a simple building procedure.  “The difficult process of hanging an illuminated sign above street level, particularly in the downtown area, took five years before receiving city zoning and art commission approval.  KYW is now the only radio station in Philadelphia County to be granted this right.”

Obama on ‘The View’ and at the UN, Iran’s Bluster, Criticism of Religious Figures, Libya Aftermath, and NFL Replacement Officials Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/25).  President Obama’s Appearance on ‘The View’ and his speech at the United Nations; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s blustery speech at the UN and his appearance on Piers Morgan; criticism of religious figures; analysis of the aftermath of the Libya attack and furor over the NFL’s replacement officials were some of the most-talked-about-stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

| September 25, 2012

Bomb Scare Empties CBS Radio Los Angeles for More Than Two Hours.  The Wilshire Boulevard studios of CBS Radio’s Los Angeles stations, including all-news KNX and news/talk KFWB were evacuated from about 8:15 am to 10:45 am PT this morning after a promotional clock sent to the station raised suspicions, sent the staff into precautionary mode that brought police and medical personnel to the scene.  According to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan KNX and K-Earth simulcast sister all-news station in San Francisco, KCBS/740 AM.  The other stations switched to alternative programming from servers.  Shortly before the all-clear was given, KNX returned to the air full-time from emergency studios on the Paramount Studios lot.

WLS, Chicago’s Don Wade to Undergo Brain Surgery.  The morning duo of Don Wade and his wife Roma have been off the air at Cumulus Media’s WLS, Chicago for the past week and now Chicagoans know why.  The 71-year-old WLS AM drive host suffered a seizure on September 13 while in New York for his daughter’s wedding.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports Wade will have the surgery to remove a growth from his brain during an operation scheduled for this Thursday and the duo will remain off the air for the next four to six weeks.  In the meantime, late-morning hosts Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft will sub on the morning show and Jake Hartford and John Kaas will host the 9:00 am to 11:00 am program.

Northern California Hosts Armstrong & Getty Dive into Islam Controversy.  KSTE, Sacramento-based morning drive hosts Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are putting out a call for not less but more criticism of Islam and the prophet Muhammad on the internet  — in a move that runs contrary to the wishes of the Obama Administration.  Jack Armstrong, responding to the riots and violence in the Muslim world in response to the short film titled, “Innocence of Muslims,” said on the program, “The only response to this is to flood YouTube and flood the world with cartoons, movies and songs saying bad things about Muhammad until they finally grow up.  In other words, free speech.”  He questions why the U.S. government is spending money airing ads with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton denouncing the video.  “I’m horribly disappointed that there are not thousands of Muhammad mocking videos out there on YouTube right now.”

Journal Broadcast Group Promotes Jeff Falconio to Full Time on WTMJ, Milwaukee.  Jeff Falconio has been hosting the “Wisconsin Sports Weekend” show on Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee.  Now, he’s upped to a full-time position with the station taking over for Trenni Kusnierek (who left for a TV gig at Comcast SportsNet Boston) beginning October 1.  Falconio will handle sports anchor duties on the PM drive show on WTMJ and co-host the evening “Sports Central” program with Greg Matzek.  In a statement, program director Joe Scialfa says, “We are excited to have Jeff join the sports department in a full-time capacity.  Jeff has been a regular fixture covering Wisconsin sports for 15 years.  His passion for sports and knowledge of our Wisconsin teams make him the perfect person to continue the strong WTMJ sports tradition.”

More Staff Layoffs at Merlin Media’s Chicago Offices.  According to a report in Chicagoland Radio and Media, Merlin Media let go of most of the rest of its off-air staff that had been working at WIQI “FM News 101.1” prior to its return to a music format in July.  The site reports writers, reporters and producers Brad Robinson, Safa Eshmawy, Sarah Engel, James Edwards, Michael Cronin, Megan Buckley, Shannon Beverly and Shannon Ward were all released from their positions on Friday, September 21.

WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Announces Weekend Program for Belinda Skelton.  The nationally syndicated Neal Boortz program – emanating from Cox Media’s news/talk giant WSB-AM/FM – is produced by Belinda Skelton (who calls it the “perfect job”).  Now Skelton will put her interest (and degree) in interior design and more into play as she hosts “Belinda Skelton’s Atlanta Lifestyles” beginning in January.  Cox Media Atlanta market manager Ben Reed defines the show: “Think of Pinterest, Martha Stewart or the Oprah brand where lifestyle can be defined by everything from food, wine and design to family, entertainment, and local events.”  On the new show, Skelton says, “I can’t think of something more perfect for me than this show.  This speaks to my core being and everything that excites me!”  Although Neal Boortz is retiring from full-time radio work in the new year, Skelton will remain his executive producer managing his daily commentary, appearances, and guest hosting duties.

Odds & Sods.  WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive talk host Simon Conway fills in this Wednesday through Friday for Premiere Networks’ “America Now with Andy Dean.”…..Talk radio pioneer Bruce Williams, who has been hosting a pre-produced program on the internet via his Made in America Broadcast Network, announces he’ll begin hosting live shows from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET starting tomorrow (9/26) and running for “a couple of weeks.”

NBC Radio’s “Miss Monitor” Dies at 89.  Dorothy Ruth “Tedi” Thurman passed away in Palm Springs, California at age 89 on Saturday, September 22.  Thurman was a model who came to fame as the sultry “Miss Monitor” on the old NBC Radio Network.  She held that position doing the weather from 1957 to 1961.  She also was featured as the weather girl on “The Tonight Show” with Jack Paar beginning in 1957.

CNN Stevens Diary Controversy, Obama ‘View’ Appearance, Ahmadinejad Speaks at UN, and Presidential Polls Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/24).  The controversy over CNN’s reporting from the journal of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens after telling his family it would wait for permission; President Obama’s planned appearance on ‘The View’; Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the United Nations; and the latest in presidential contest polls were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.