Mike Huckabee Considers Radio Future in Arkansas Business Story. In a piece that ran in Arkansas Business yesterday, Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host – and former Arkansas governor and U.S. presidential candidate – Mike Huckabee speaks openly about his current media projects and how his political experience has helped his media career. Huckabee gives no clear indication he’ll stop doing the daily three-hour show, but neither does he sound all-in when he states, “Within the next month, I’ll decide if I want to continue it or not. I know we will, but it’s just such an incredibly intensive process that I really have to decide that I want to spend that kind of time…” Huckabee describes the long days preparing for the program and how he works that in with his Fox News Channel weekend program. “I’ve got to always weigh how much time I’m putting in it and what the return is. How long it will take to make it what I call hopefully disgustingly profitable. That’s what one always hopes for in a deal like this.” Read the entire story here.
Can Radio Overcome its Smothering Debt and Be a Viable Business in this New Era? That, according to Michael Harrison is THE existential question facing the industry today — and one that TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo tackle head-on in a blockbuster article posted May 2 in BOTH trade publications. Researched and written by TALKERS/RadioInfo west coast bureau chief/managing editor Mike Kinosian, this extensive piece taps deeply into the experience, wisdom and vision of a stellar panel of industry power-players who share their real world perspectives of this pressing issue that directly ties into the future of radio as both a medium and a business. They include (in alphabetical order): Sandi Bergman of MyMediaBroker, Ed Christian of Saga Communications, Erica Farber of the RAB, Charlie Gross of Newsweb Radio Corp., Michael Harrison of TALKERS/RadioInfo, Jerry Lee of WBEB (“B101″) in Philadelphia, Chuck Lontine of Headwaters MB, David Pearlman of American Radio Systems, Ed Perry of WATD in Marshfield, MA, Tom Quinn of Americom Broadcasting, Jeff Smulyan of Emmis Broadcasting, Peter Smyth of Greater Media and Dave Van Dyke of Radiate Media. Upon the publication of this information-packed article, TALKERS/RadioInfo VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “This is one of the most important pieces published in the radio trades in years and I advise anyone in this business who cares about its future to take the time to read it thoroughly. It dives right into the most pressing issue facing all of us today and provides insight from all angles – big-time groups, large and small market stations, investment banks, services providers, and advertising advocates. A piece like this gets to the very heart of what will determine radio’s future – its ability to function and options to consider as a viable business in a daunting, obstacle-ridden environment.” Read Mike Kinosian’s story here.
Mark Carbonaro Out at KION, Salinas, California; Armstrong & Getty In. According to a report in The Californian, local morning drive host Mark Carbonaro’s program has been replaced on KION, Salinas with the Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty show. Californian writer Jeff Mitchell reports that calls to local management were not returned prior to his deadline. Both KION and Armstrong & Getty’s home station KSTE are owned by Clear Channel.
WNSR, Nashville to Get FM Simulcast in June. Nashville Sports Radio’s WNSR, Nashville will simulcast on 95.9 in addition to its 560 signal early this summer. The station says it will position itself as “Nashville’s SportsRadio 560 on 95.9 FM.” The new FM signal will be located near the Davidson/Williamson County line, providing excellent 24-hour coverage of WNSR’s programming. General sales manager and afternoon host Thom Abraham states, “Before the Predators and Titans, WNSR brought sports programming to the airwaves in Nashville. This station has stayed true to the format for over 15 years and we are now excited to make it available on the FM band. The new logo puts the emphasis on WNSR, which has stood for Nashville’s Sports Radio since 1997, something we are very proud of, and something I have come to appreciate since coming here four years ago.”
Fox News Radio Offers Memorial Day Weekend Specials. The network is offering two hour-long special programs for air during the Memorial Day Weekend. “Remembering Iraq” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Griff Jenkins and reflects on the 10 years since the United States entered the Iraq War. Jenkins will take a look at the front lines and those who were affected by the war, including the men and women who served as well as their spouses and children. “The Next Disaster” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Janice Dean. It’s a multi-part series that examines disasters, including tornados, earthquakes and terrorist attacks and how to best prepare for them. Additionally, Dean will take a look at how weather forecasting and other technology have helped people prepare for natural disasters in the past and will also report on the impact of early warnings. More information about the specials can be found on the Fox News Radio affiliate website in the specials section.
Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa Gets FM Simulcast on 95.3. The signal is 250-watt translator W237CW that was most recently simulcasting the audio of Clear Channel’s hip hop WBTP “95.7 The Beat.” CC flips it over to sports talker WDAE. The AM 620 signal of WDAE covers the market just fine but now the station will have an FM presence that’s strongest in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Clearwater.
Benghazi Cover-up Allegations, Syria-Israel Tensions, Obama OSU Commencement, and North Korea Missile Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/6). New information regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the political ramifications; military tensions between Israel and Syria; President Obama’s commencement speech at Ohio State University over the weekend; and the North Korean missile threat were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
SiriusXM Reports Positive Q1 with Revenue Up 12%; Company Involved in Digital Dashboard Technology Rollout. That 12% percent increase over the same period a year ago is on revenue of $897 million. New permanent CEO Jim Meyer had every reason to be bubbly during his first investor conference call as official chief executive officer of the satcaster. He reports the company grew its subscriber base to a new record high on new subscriptions of 453,000 during the quarter. From a financial perspective he stated, “We are proud to have achieved the highest suggested EBITDA margin in the history of the company in the first quarter. We expect to achieve a 30% adjusted EBITDA margin this year, up from 27% last year and we continue to target 40% plus margins over time. You will see us move over the next few years to become one of the highest margin businesses among major media companies in the United States. Our ability to convert the bulk of that EBITDA in the free cash flow is also unmatched in the subscription media world.” He said the company is riding the “tailwind in the new car market as it recovers.” Meyer told investors the company is committed to having the best content, spoke about new channel additions as well as new talent joining the company and mentioned talk host Michael Smerconish. Addressing the specific question about GM’s plans for its future “digital dashboard,” Meyer said he couldn’t talk about any one manufacturer’s plans but was able to state, “I believe GM is on a leadership strategy in terms of where I believe the auto industry will go in general. And that is, I believe, over a mid and long period of time — you can define how many years that is — you will see automakers move to what I will call embedded connectivity that will be LTE-based that will give them lots of options for what they want to do for their customers and their vehicles. I think it’s very important that Sirius XM participates in that rollout of technology as it occurs over the next three to seven years and that’s exactly what we’re all about when we referred to our connected-car strategy. This is something that…I want to reiterate again today, that we’re moving and reprioritizing a lot of our technical resources and frankly now our commercial programming resources towards making that goal happen as we go out over time.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. You can read the whole shebang here.
Tom Wheeler Gets Nod from Obama for FCC Chief. On the political side of things, many Democrats wanted to see President Obama select a woman for the post being vacated by Julius Genachowski, but the president nominated a man with a telecommunications background who was very helpful in getting him elected. Politico reports that managing director of Core Capital Partners, Tom Wheeler, (along with his wife) worked Iowa for six weeks straight during the president’s first campaign. Although Wheeler will get some grief from those who are suspicious of his past tenure as a lobbyist with both the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industry Association), he has experience in the industry having founded numerous cable and communications services businesses. National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith states, “NAB welcomes the nomination of Tom Wheeler as chairman of the FCC. He has the experience and temperament to serve the agency with distinction, and we look forward to working with him.”
Talkers New York 2013 Approaching Sellout Today. At the present rate of registration bookings, all available seats to the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 will be sold out by the end of business today (5:00 pm ET). The 16th annual installment of the talk industry’s longest-running and most important annual convention has broken the record for reaching advance registration earlier than ever before. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “We are amazed and gratified that this conference has reached a sellout almost five weeks in advance of its actual date, which is a testimony to the vibrancy of the talk format and the enthusiasm of the industry that produces it.” The one-day, power-packed event takes place on Thursday, June 6 in New York City between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. It features a speaker roster of more than 50 industry leaders from programming, sales, talent, management, technology and ownership. Registration ($199 for all events and food services) is open exclusively to members of the working media and can only be booked by phone with credit card. Call 413-565-5413. For complete registration and sponsorship information including an up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.
Walton & Johnson Take Over Mornings on KPRC, Houston. Just four months after the Walton & Johnson [John Walton (left) and Steve Johnson (right)] morning show was dropped from Clear Channel’s classic rock KKRW, Houston “97.3 The Arrow,” the program is brought back to the Houston airwaves as the new morning program on the company’s news/talk KPRC. The duo was replaced on “The Arrow” by longtime St. Louis radio personality J.C. Corcoran. Clear Channel Houston director of AM programming Bryan Erickson says, “We are thrilled to have Walton & Johnson back on KPRC. They have a proven track record of great ratings and we look forward to them continuing that success on KPRC.” Walton & Johnson made KPRC their flagship beginning in 2007 but moved to “The Arrow” in 2009. Off KPRC as a result of the move is Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo who is based at Clear Channel’s WOAI, San Antonio and is heard there and on other Clear Channel news/talk stations.
Armstrong & Getty to Join KFMB, San Diego in June. Morning show duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty will be heard in the San Diego market beginning June 3 as their program bumps current morning host Mike Slater to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. Armstrong & Getty are based at Clear Channel’s KSTE, Sacramento and heard in other markets in Northern California including San Francisco on KKSF. This is a big move for the duo as they are added to a non-Clear Channel station – Midwest TV’s KFMB. Program director Dave Sniff states, “Like any great radio morning show, Armstrong and Getty have that unique ability to not only connect with the listener but to become their companions. They fit in amazingly well among the great storytellers that are part of 760 KFMB’s character and lineage. They’re not so much a ‘talk show’ as a ‘mock show.’”
Cox Media’s WOKV, Jacksonville Adds 104.5 FM Signal. Market news/talk powerhouse WOKV got a little more powerful as Cox Media Group gives the 104.5 FM signal long-occupied by now-defunct rock station WFYV to the station to boost its coverage of the region. WOKV program director Mike Dorwart says, “Our listeners told us loud and clear that we needed more power. Moving to 104.5 FM means that, for the first time, our listeners can hear us crystal clear, everywhere in northeast Florida, both day and night. The most noticeable improvement will be heard by listeners in Baker, Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau counties. They now have full coverage from WOKV, 24/7, on 104.5 FM. Duval residents will also hear a big difference, especially those who listen at work. Our new signal also gives reliable coverage to listeners in Flagler, Putnam, Bradford, Union and Columbia counties in Florida, as well as Camden and Charlton counties in Georgia.” The station has been simulcast on the 106.5 FM frequency but that class A FM is much smaller. WOKV will continue to be heard on 106.5 as the company directs listeners to the new 104.5 frequency.
Five Critical Steps for Radio to Achieve Success with Online Video. Noted media consultant and TALKERS columnist Walter Sabo outlines five crucial pointers that radio broadcasters should keep in mind when utilizing video in their digital initiatives. In a column posted today (5/1) he suggests: 1) bad equipment is usually the best; 2) online video is NOT television (TV); 3) 80% of all videos are watched within 72 hours of posting; 4) most of the biggest stars of the internet (“webstars”) are self-cast; and 5) late evening is the best time to post. To read the entirety of this timely and informative article, click here.
The End of an Era for Knoxville News/Talk; Country to Take Over 100.3 Frequency. With Journal Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Oak Ridge FM’s news/talk WNOX, Knoxville about to close, the company is preparing to move the country format currently heard on its WCYQ to the much stronger 100.3 signal currently occupied by news/talk on WNOX. A country simulcast will begin tomorrow on the two FMs (5/2) and the news/talk programming now on WNOX will move to Blount Broadcasting’s WKVL, a daytime AM at 850.
KTRS, St. Louis Newest Affiliate for Envision’s ‘America Weekend.’ The weekend news/talk radio program being nationally syndicated by Envision Radio Networks announces CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis is the latest station to add the programming to its weekend offerings. Envision calls “America Weekend” “the winning antidote to bad brokered programming and tiresome ‘Best-of’ shows. Hosted by Paul Harris, Rick Roberts, and Turi Ryder, ‘America Weekend’ is designed to increase ratings while providing an innovative system for maintaining or even increasing revenue from brokered programs. The flexible ‘America Weekend’ system provides the perfect platform to break away for sports and other special programming as needed. Since ‘America Weekend’ is broadcast live via satellite, it is able to stay current by addressing breaking and developing stories of national interest as they happen. The program airs live each Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET.”
Fargo Stations Sales Close: Fargo-Moorhead Radio Cluster to Midwest Communications; Triad Broadcasting Group to Larry Wilson’s L&L. The sales of both of these Fargo market station groups were announced last year and were approved by the FCC months ago. Now the transactions close with Wausau, Wisconsin-based Midwest Communications taking ownership of the former Fargo-Moorhead Radio cluster that includes: news/talk KFGO, sports KVOX, CHR WDAY “Y-94,” country KBVB “Bob FM,” talk KRWK “101.9 Talk FM,” and adult hits KMJO “Popster FM.” Midwest Communications vice president of programming Jeff McCarthy tells the Forum of Fargo Moorhead he doesn’t anticipate any immediate programming changes. Larry Wilson, whose Alpha Broadcasting operates stations in Portland, Oregon, also is a principal in L&L Broadcasting and his company is closing on Triad Broadcasting’s stations that include: oldies KQWB “True Oldies,” classic rock KPFX “The Fox,” hot AC KLTA, country KVOX “Froggy 99.9,” full service KBMW, and rock KQWB “Q98.” Triad vice president and market manager Michael Brooks also tells the paper he does not anticipate any immediate changes.
WEEI Names John Ryder to Red Sox Broadcast Team; Grande and Merloni to Handle Fill-In Role. In announcing John Ryder’s ascension to a permanent role on Red Sox broadcasts as host of pre- and post-game coverage, the company says, “Ryder has been with WEEI since 1998 and is a regular contributor to the ‘Planet Mikey’ show, in addition to hosting ‘Red Sox Review’ and ‘Celtics Rewind’ after Sox and Celtics games.” The company is also announcing that Sean Grande and Lou Merloni will join the broadcasts filling in for Dave O’Brien, who will miss Monday night games during the season due to his responsibilities for ESPN. Grande has been the voice of the Boston Celtics since 2001, after having served as the TV voice of the Minnesota Timberwolves for three years. Merloni is currently co-host of the “Mut and Merloni” show on WEEI 93.7 FM. Merloni also enjoyed a nine-year professional career in Major League Baseball, the first five with the Red Sox. Entercom Boston vice president of programming Jason Wolfe says, “John has done a stellar job in every role we’ve had for him and has absolutely earned this promotion. He’s hosted the pre- and post-game shows for the Sox many times before and was a natural choice for us to fill this important job. Sean’s play-by-play experience speaks for itself. He’s one of the greats in the industry right now, and Lou’s expertise is second to none. There’s no baseball man in Boston who knows the Sox better than Lou.”
Odds & Sods. Result Radio’s Christian contemporary KJJK, Fargo will flip to sports talk on Monday, May 6 using programming from Fox Sports Radio Network including Dan Patrick, Jay Mohr and the “Loose Cannons” with Pat O’Brien and Steve Hartman. The station will continue to serve as a Minnesota Twins affiliate…..Personality J.D. Hayworth – co-host of the “Hacksaw & Hayworth” show on sports talk XEPRS, San Diego – does some news/talk fill-in work this week when he sits in for Cumulus Media Networks host Michael Savage tonight through Friday from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. He’ll also sit in for the company’s Mike Huckabee tomorrow from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET…..Bouyed by coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Texas fertilizer warehouse explosion, cable news/talk channel CNN has improved in the ratings compared to the same period a year ago. Based on April Nielsen numbers as reported in Deadline.com, CNN saw its total day viewers number rise 79% compared to April 2012. CNN was also up in prime time, achieving an 81% increase in total viewers over the same period a year ago. The network was able to climb over MSNBC into second place behind Fox News Channel in both ratings categories.
Benghazi Cover-up Investigation, ObamaCare Effects, Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Slow Job Growth Reports, and Immigration Legislation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/30). New inquiries into the Benghazi attack; the effects of the Affordable Care Act; the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and the search for possible co-conspirators; newly released reports indicating slow job growth in the United States; and debate over immigration legislation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
KFI, Los Angeles’ John and Ken Appear on WOR, New York. New WOR, New York owner Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has begun airing talk radio duo John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou in the evenings on the station. On Wednesday night, a simulcast hour from the final hour of the pair’s highly rated KFI, Los Angeles program aired at 9:00 pm followed by a 10:00 pm hour of custom programming for the New York station. John and Ken are no strangers to the region having grown up in the New York area and having gotten their start on radio stations in the Tri-State Area. They rose to prominence during their stint at Trenton-based “New Jersey 101.5” (WKXW). John and Ken have been syndicated in the past. During a brief period in the late 1990s, the duo began a national syndication effort under Fisher Entertainment but that ended when they moved to KABC, Los Angeles to take the morning drive slot.
Peacock Sports Network Playing the Hits. In TALKERS magazine’s second part of its three-part series on the new sports talk radio players (and the growing field in general), managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian gets inside the heads of those involved in the new NBC Sports Radio Network that is launching its weekend programming this weekend and its full daily slate in April. NBC Sports Radio programmer Jack Silver tells TALKERS his network is focusing on finding talent it believes is the next generation. “The weekday and weekend lineups mirror the network’s mission statement, which is to be a new wave of sports talk. We did not hire the more traditional names. The developmental mindset we have is to find new sports talk talent. CBS Sports Radio has veterans like Jim Rome and Scott Ferrall. We are looking for the next versions of people like that, as well as Dan Patrick and [ESPN Radio morning personalities] ‘Mike [Greenberg] & Mike [Golic].’ We are producing this sports network like a rock station, with in-your-face production. To my ear, it feels like an FM talk station – which is my specialty. It is based on opinions and talk show topics.” Read Mike Kinosian’s entire piece here.
Cumulus Media Returns 44 Markets to Arbitron Diary Service. After three years with no Arbitron diary ratings service, Cumulus Media-owned stations in 44 markets will resume subscription to the service effective immediately. Cumulus Media and Arbitron announce they have agreed to a multi-year contract that brings Cumulus stations in the 44 markets back into the fold and renews the company’s PPM ratings service deal in the 17 PPM markets in which it operates. Arbitron states that the deal covers all 450 Cumulus stations in the 100 Cumulus radio markets currently surveyed by Arbitron. It also renews ratings agreements in 39 diary markets. In addition to diary and PPM local market ratings, the agreement also provides Cumulus with access to Arbitron software applications, Scarborough consumer profile services, and national and network radio ratings for Cumulus Media Networks. Cumulus has also agreed to collaborate with Arbitron on cross-platform services that would quantify the total impact of the Cumulus radio brand. Cumulus chairman and CEO Lew Dickey says, “With this agreement, Arbitron and Cumulus are demonstrating a long-term commitment to collaborate for the benefit of the radio industry. We will work closely with Arbitron on its ongoing quality and service enhancement initiatives. Specifically, we look forward to participating in the development of an integrated, total radio audience service that gives broadcasters full credit for our audiences regardless of how listeners access our content.”
Herman Cain is Coming and Consultant Holland Cooke Predicts Success. Businessman, talk show host and one-time presidential candidate Herman Cain is prepping to take over the WSB, Atlanta and Cox Media syndication of the Neal Boortz program when Boortz retires this month. Radio consultant Holland Cooke predicts Cain will succeed and offers eight reasons why, beginning with: “He’s a radio natural, as we heard when he filled-in for Sean Hannity last summer. Even if Cain’s primary run hadn’t made it so familiar, his voice jumps-out-of the speaker. And he speaks in sound bites that are made for AM radio.” There’s more. Read Cooke’s piece here.
Larry Mendte Exits Merlin’s WWIQ, Philadelphia. Announcing his departure from the Philadelphia talk outlet via his Facebook page, talk personality and former market TV news anchor Larry Mendte states the reason was not due to ratings as his show was “by far the highest-rated local show.” But Mendte, who joined the station in May of last year, says in his post that he believes his exit will spur rumors the station is for sale. He says he hopes that’s not true as he believes the station “fills an important void.” Mendte was hired to work the morning show alongside programmer and co-host Al Gardner. Earlier in the fall, New York-based multi-media star Lionel was brought in to work with Gardner for a portion of the morning program. WWIQ’s website lists both Gardner and Lionel as co-hosts of the 5:00 am to 9:00 am program.
Clear Channel to Flip WOKY, Milwaukee to Sports Talk. Beginning Monday, January 7, Clear Channel-owned classic country WOKY, Milwaukee will become a sports talk outlet as “The Big 920.” The station will feature regional sports talk personalities as well as Fox Sports Radio Network syndicated programming including Dan Patrick and Jay Mohr. According to a report in The Business Journal, the station will run the same programming that airs on CC’s Madison sports talk station WTSO “The Big 1070.” The station will air a talk show featuring morning drive hosts Mike Lucas and Matt Lepay from 6:00 am to 8:00 am. It will be in competition in the market with Good Karma’s WAUK and Entercom’s WSSP.
WQRT, Cincinnati to Drop Talk; Station Will Go Dark, Launch New Format in February. The Cincinnati market sports and talk station WQRT “Real Talk 1160” will go dark after the broadcast of the BCS National Championship game on January 7 and take the rest of the month to prepare for a new format. Christian Broadcast System owner Jon Yinger tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter the station did not perform as the company had hoped despite hiring numerous local personalities over the course of the past few years to challenge competitors in the market. Local staffers including morning host Dean Miuccio, news staffer T.C. Summers, afternoon sports talk hosts Dennis “Wildman” Walker and Jeff Piecoro have been let go and the station will air syndicated programming until it signs off. The station recently lost operations manager Rob Williams and sports talk host and producer Rick Ucchino who left to join Cumulus Media’s crosstown WCFN which debuted the CBS Sports Radio Network format on Wednesday, January 2.
Al Gore’s Current TV Bought by Al Jazeera. The Al Gore- and Joel Hyatt-owned Current TV cable news/talk channel has been purchased by the Qatar-based Arab world cable news operation Al Jazeera for a reported $500 million. Bloomberg reports Gore and Hyatt paid $60 million for the media outlet in 2004. Bloomberg notes in its report that Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-biggest U.S. cable company, said it would stop carrying Current TV with the ownership change. “Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service…We are removing the service as quickly as possible.” Time Warner Cable currently carries the Al Jazeera English-language programming in New York City however it does not offer Al Jazeera in the Los Angeles market. The Associated Press reports the acquisition will give Al Jazeera access to about 40 million more homes. It also states that Al Jazeera – owned by the government of Qatar – plans to gradually transform Current TV into a network called Al Jazeera America by adding five to 10 new U.S. bureaus beyond the five it has now and hiring more journalists. More than half of the content will be U.S. news and the network will have its headquarters in New York City.
Fox Sports Radio Network’s Jay Mohr Debuts on 70-Plus Stations. The new late-morning program on the Fox Sports Radio Network hosted by long-time FSRN fill-in host, comedian and actor Jay Mohr hit the ground running with about 70 affiliates yesterday. Fox Sports reports the show aired in markets including: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Portland and Pittsburgh. Mohr’s program fills the slot held for so many years by Jim Rome who left Premiere Networks for the new CBS Sports Radio Network.
Bill Keeler to Host Mornings on WIBX, Utica. Local media personality Bill Keeler will begin hosting the morning drive program on Townsquare Media’s news/talk WIBX, Utica, New York on Monday, January 14, according to WKTV-TV, Utica. Keeler, who has been hosting a restaurant program on WKTV-TV, has also worked in the market in radio at CHR WSKS and rock WXUR. He says, “I am so excited about doing mornings on WIBX. This is a heritage radio station that’s been around for 87 years and it remains one of the top stations in the market. I can’t wait to get on the air and get started.” Keeler will be joined by news anchor Kristine Bellino.
WMVP, Chicago Personality Steve McMichael Pulled from Broadcasting After Equal Time Request. Former Chicago Bears great and WMVP, Chicago sports talk personality Steve “Mongo” McMichael was yanked from Sunday’s program prior to the final Bears game of the season after the mayor of Romeoville, Illinois filed an equal time request with the station. McMichael filed papers on December 26 to get on the ballot to run for mayor of Romeoville in April and one of his opponents, current Mayor John Noak, filed the request citing equal time regulations. McMichael tells the Chicago Tribune, “I was ready to go on and talk football. I by no means used that pre-game show as a political platform this year. But if that’s the law, it’s the law and I have to accept it.”
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Announces Record Results for Holiday Toy Drive. WTMJ, Milwaukee program director Joe Scialfa announces the Journal Broadcast Group station collected more than 19,000 toys during its 2012 “Kids to Kids Christmas” Scialfa says more than 50 schools in the region participated in the charity drive that encouraged children to shop with their parents for toys to donate to those less fortunate. Scialfa states, “The listeners of Newsradio 620 WTMJ are amazing. Again this year, they have shared the message of giving with their kids in a record setting way! We couldn’t be prouder to come to work each day to inform and entertain this great audience.”
‘Fiscal Crisis’ Bill Signed, Hurricane Sandy Aid Controversy, Financial Markets Activity, Hillary Clinton Health Status and Gun Control Debate Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/2). The aftermath of the bill signed to avert the “fiscal crisis”; the anger over Congress’ bypassing Hurricane Sandy aid; financial markets respond to “fiscal crisis” legislation; the health status of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and ongoing debate of gun laws in the United States were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
CBS Sports Radio Network Announces National Morning Show: Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson. When the CBS Sports Radio Network officially begins on January 2, former New York Giants great Tiki Barber, sports talk personality and current KGME, San Francisco afternoon co-host Brandon Tierney and longtime ESPN broadcaster Dana Jacobson will make up the morning drive show airing from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET. CBS Radio president and CEO Dan Mason states, “CBS Sports Radio has been able to attract some of the most renowned names in the business, and Tiki, Brandon and Dana are just the latest example of the network’s star power. We’ve assembled an impressive group of professional athletes and accomplished broadcasters to bring fans unrivaled sports commentary, and the most entertaining lineup in all of sports radio. The launch of CBS Sports Radio provides an additional way for us to use our content, debuting original programs to millions of listeners across the country on day one. The network’s reach in the major markets is unsurpassed, and the marketplace has taken notice of our depth and broad range of offerings.” CBS Radio is announcing the morning show will clear on such outlets as: WIP-AM, Philadelphia); WFOM-AM, Atlanta; WXYT-AM, Detroit; WJZ-AM, Baltimore; KFNZ-AM and KJQS-AM, Salt Lake City; and WSJZ-FM, Orlando.
Another Look Back at the Harsh Reality of Sandy and its Intense Relationship with Radio. American voters are conditioned every four years to believe that the presidential ballot they are about to cast will be the most crucial such decision they will make in their entire lifetimes. That was certainly a dominant theme of the 2012 campaign, yet less than 10 days before Election Day, something else began percolating that had approximately 20% of the country hitting the “pause” button to politics: Sandy. Innocuous as the name sounds, “Sandy” unfortunately arrived as advertised and now, weeks later, harsh reality remains in its wake. It is impossible to factor precious loss of lives and the shattering of countless dreams into the billions of dollars of wreckage caused by one of the unkindest of oxymorons – a so-called “perfect storm.” As another testament to our democracy, the November 6 election went off without a hitch and the country would ready itself for one of its proudest traditions – setting aside a day of thanksgiving (albeit followed by the dubious recent sales custom known as “Black Friday”). Radio stations though in locales that include the country’s #1 market – New York City – are continuing to focus on what has been consuming them since (roughly) Saturday, October 27. Suffering through Sandy was brutal. For many, enduring the aftermath is considerably worse. As the radio industry returns from the Thanksgiving weekend, TALKERS takes another look back at the our medium’s intense relationship with the “weather event” that was so dominant a factor in current events that it even upstaged a presidential election – as seen through the eyes, lives and dedicated work of broadcasters at CBS Radio‘s all- news WCBS-AM, New York and Cumulus Media‘s news/talk WMAL, Washington, DC. To read TALKERS managing editor/west coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian‘s epic article click here.
WTDY-AM/FM, Madison Drops News/Talk; Stunting with Christmas Music. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that “several broadcasters” have been let go by Midwest Family Broadcasting as the simulcast of news/talk programming on WTDY AM 1670 and WTDY FM 106.7 ended late on Wednesday and was replaced with Christmas music. Talk personality John “Sly” Sylvester and news director Amy Barrilleaux both communicated via social media that they had been let go by the station and that it is flipping formats but that they knew no more. Midwest Family owns seven stations in the market that include: rock WJJO; AC WMGN; rhythmic CHR WJQM; country WWQM; WLMV Spanish music; and oldies WHIT. The word on the street is that the simulcast will become a CBS Sports Radio Network affiliate on January 2 but that has not been confirmed.
ESPN in Agreement for Exclusive Rights to College Football Playoff Contests. The sports giant announces it has reached agreements in principle to obtain exclusive rights to broadcast the games and the affiliated programming for the college football championship and playoff games that will begin after the 2014 season and begin in January of 2015 when the new playoff system begins. ESPN Radio will be part of the broadcast of these games. The announcement was made Wednesday by ESPN president John Skipper and Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS and the future college football playoffs. Skipper states, “Because of college football’s widespread popularity and the incredible passion of its fans, few events are more meaningful than these games. We are ecstatic at the opportunity to continue to crown a college football champion on ESPN’s outlets for years to come, the perfect finale to our year-round commitment to the sport.” ESPN is in the midst of a four-year agreement for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The network televises all five games from the current format, including the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls, as well as the BCS National Championship Game. The two BCS National Championship Games on ESPN (2011, 2012) have generated the two largest audiences for any program in the history of cable television. The new playoff will be administered by the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences and independent institutions. The agreement in principle is subject to completion of definitive documentation and all necessary approvals.
Stephen King-Owned WZLO and WZON, Bangor Progressive Talk Simulcast Splits. “The Pulse” website states the stations have split their simulcast of progressive talk and are featuring Christmas music on the FM signal with a “BIG surprise” the station will reveal after Christmas. The stations have been a simulcast for the past 2 ½ years – first as a sports talk station, then as the progressive talk outlet. The FM side had been playing a triple A format prior to the simulcast. WZON at 620 AM continues to air a progressive talk format featuring a local morning show with Don Cookson, WYD Media’s Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Premiere Networks’ Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Cox Media’s Clark Howard and Leslie Marshall.
April NAB Show to Feature Q&A with News Corp’s Chase Carey. The National Association of Broadcasters announces the spring NAB Show scheduled for April 6-11 in Las Vegas will feature a question-and-answer session with News Corporation president and chief operating officer Chase Carey. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith will conduct the session. Smith says, “As a leading executive of one of the world’s preeminent media companies, Chase Carey has valuable insight into today’s multi-platform global media environment. I look forward to our conversation at the NAB Show and hearing Mr. Carey’s vision of what the future holds for the media business worldwide.” Carey has served in his role at News Corp since July of 2009. Prior to that he was president and CEO at DIRECTV, Inc.
French-Language Quebec Talk Host Suspended for Anti-Semitic Incident. CHMP, Quebec late night talk show host Jacques Fabi has been suspended from his program after allowing a female caller to his program make anti-Semitic statements. The caller was responding to Fabi’s discussion of the violence in Israel and Gaza and blamed the Jews, then went on to intimate that Hitler should have been allowed to finish the job. Fabi never stopped her and, according to complaints to the CRTC and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, seemed to encourage her rant. The CBC reports station spokesman David Crete said, “The comments that were aired earlier this week are unacceptable…hosts and journalists are subject to ethical rules. If they are not met, penalties are applied.” It is not clear how long Fabi’s suspension will be. CHMP is owned by Cogeco.
British Broadcaster Fined for Anti-Gay Remarks. The British agency that regulates broadcasting content – Ofcom – levied a $6,400 fine against the company that owns a Leeds, England station that serves the South Asian community. The incident stems from a program hosted by Rubina Nasir – known as Sister Ruby – in which she interpreted passages in the Koran that indicated homosexuals should be punished – physically and mentally – for practicing their sexuality. Ofcom ruled the statements made during the broadcast were likely to “encourage or incite the commission of a crime.”
Rock 102 Thanksgiving Tradition. WAQY, Springfield, Massachusetts morning drive team Bax & O’Brien helped gather food and money for those in need in the area with the broadcast of their annual Mayflower Marathon food drive over the Thanksgiving week. Hosts Mike Baxendale (center) and John O’Brien (far right) are pictured here announcing a donation of $10,000 to the Open Pantry – a local organization that provides food to those in need. The annual charity event is a signature of Saga Communications’ “Rock 102” and the Bax & O’Brien morning show during which the duo broadcast continuously for two days while encouraging listeners to fill a Mayflower moving van with food staples for the hungry.
Progressive Talk Stars Stephanie Miller and Bill Press Become Featured Current TV Content. The progressive cable and satellite TV channel founded by former Vice President Al Gore is adding Dial Global radio talk show hosts Stephanie Miller and Bill Press to its lineup. Miller’s and Press’ programs will be simulcasts of their radio shows – Miller airing from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET and Press from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET – beginning early this spring. In a statement, Current TV chairman Al Gore says, “I’ve followed Stephanie and Bill for years. They provide the kind of smart, insightful news analysis that our viewers want to hear. Bill brings a vital perspective directly from the heart of the Beltway, and Stephanie’s fresh take on politics and news has a decidedly outsider flair. We’re really looking forward to bringing their voices to our viewers.” WYD Media president Ron Hartenbaum, executive producer of Stephanie Miller’s program, says, “We at ‘The Stephanie Miller Show’ are excited to participate in another radio-based video simulcast program. The bottom line is entertaining talk radio makes great and engaging tune-in programming for video.” Other political talk shows seen on Current TV include: “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur,” and “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm.”
Rush Limbaugh Addresses Sandra Fluke Issue, Loss of Advertisers at Beginning on Monday Program. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Rush Limbaugh began yesterday’s program speaking about his apology issued over the weekend to Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke for using the terms “slut” and “prostitute” to describe her. Limbaugh stated that he “descended to their level” – meaning liberal political opponents – when he used the two words. “I became like them and I feel very badly about that. I’ve always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program. Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for. They distracted from the point I was actually trying to make. And I, again, apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her.” Limbaugh addressed the loss of advertisers without going into specifics but appeared not overly concerned about the matter stating he turns down advertising on his program regularly for various reasons and said companies advertise with him to have access to his large audience – that everything about the program is for the audience. Without the audience, Limbaugh said the whole enterprise would be academic. Limbaugh slapped back at exiting advertisers a bit when he said, “They don’t want you or your business.” We don’t expect Premiere Networks to announce which advertisers have dropped their advertising – whether temporary or permanent – but it’s being reported that as many as 13 sponsors have left but eight are being widely reported: Carbonite, Citrix, Go To Meeting, Legal Zoom, Pro Flowers, Select Comfort, Sleep Train and Quicken Loans. For her part, Sandra Fluke appeared on ABC TV’s “The View” and said of Limbaugh’s apology, “I don’t think that a statement like this issued, saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything, and especially when that statement is issued when he’s under significant pressure from his sponsors who have begun to pull their support.” So far, two affiliate stations are confirmed to have dropped Limbaugh’s show as a result: KPUA, Hilo, Hawaii and WBEC, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Progressive Talk Host Mike Malloy Mocks Tornado Victims on Radio Program. Longtime progressive talk host Mike Malloy self-syndicates his program and in some quarters he’s taking heat for mocking the victims of the tornados that swept through the Midwest late last week. Malloy is quoted by several sources on his Friday program saying, “Their God, if this is the way they want to look at it, keeps smashing them into little grease spots on the pavement, in Alabama, in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma – you know, the Bible Belt…where they ain’t gonna let no g*dd*mn science get in the way, it says in the bible, blah blah blah, so according to their way of thinking, y’know, God with his omnipotent thumb, and so far tonight, has smashed so far 20 people on Highway 12, or whatever the hell highway they live next to.” With the controversy being raised by Rush Limbaugh overshadowing the consumer media, it’s unlikely Malloy’s comments – which could certainly be deemed insensitive to the people affected by the storms – will get enough attention to catch the national media’s eyes. There’s also the fact that Limbaugh’s program is dominating in terms of presence and Malloy’s is not. Regardless, there are media analysts who are pointing to the use of hyperbole, name calling and insensitive language as a sign that more civility is needed in America’s public discourse.
Compass Media Networks to Syndicate Bob Vila Radio Features. Iconic home improvement figure Bob Vila and Compass Media Networks are agreeing to work together to distribute daily home improvement features voiced by Vila exclusively for radio beginning May 1. Of course, Vila is well known for his television programs – “This Old House” (1979-1989), “Bob Vila’s Home Again” (1990-2005), and “Bob Vila” (2005-2007). He now heads up his own home improvement site, BobVila.com. Vila says of the venture, “Radio offers an incredible opportunity to connect with the American homeowner.” Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says the project hopes to take advantage of the nearly $112 billion spent annually on home improvement. “Bob Vila is truly an American treasure. Radio stations and advertisers will leap at the chance to associate their brands with Bob Vila.”
Cumulus Media Partners with Radiate Media to Produce National Traffic Reporting Service. The combined effort is going to be called “Right Now Traffic” and will be available to stations in April in the top 75 markets. The reports will be powered by the world’s largest traffic flow network, which includes government sensors, toll tag monitoring and billions of GPS data points. Radiate Media’s premier traffic data comes in part from Nokia (formerly NAVTEQ) – a source also used for GPS navigation devices, in-vehicle navigation systems, mobile devices and hundreds of radio and television stations. Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey states, “We’re excited about launching ‘Right Now Traffic’ with Radiate Media. Americans are spending more than 1,000 hours per year in their cars. Our listeners, advertisers and network affiliates all demand accurate and timely traffic information and this partnership enables us to address that need with a best-in-class service.”
Dial Global Amps Up Producers Department for Programming. Dial Global promotes Scot Kirk to the newly created position senior production director and brings James Harness aboard as a producer. The company says Kirk will oversee the creative direction and imaging for all of Dial Global-owned formats, shows and programs. Both Kirk and Harness will be located in Valencia, California and report directly to VP Programming, David Felker. EVP of programming Beau Phillips says, “Since merging with Westwood One, Dial Global now produces a tremendous amount of content. While our programming sounds strong, we’re investing in producers who will set the vision and boost the quality across all DG products.” Scot Kirk brings more than two decades of radio production expertise to his new role, including positions at Jones Radio Networks, KISW-FM and KMTT-FM in Seattle, and KXPK-FM in Denver before joining Dial Global in 2009. James Harness is best known for guiding the creative imaging for KROQ-FM in Los Angeles as well as 92.3 NOW, WXRK-FM and FREE-FM in New York.
Salem Radio Network Holds Urgent Drive for Help for Tornado Victims. The talk hosts syndicated nationally by Salem Radio Network — Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Janet Mefferd, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt – mounted a daylong appeal yesterday (3/5) to gather donations for food, blankets and other essentials for the people of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and the other states affected by the tornados that swept through the region over the weekend. The storms caused dozens of deaths and millions of dollars worth of destruction. Oklahoma City-based FEED THE CHILDREN is facilitating and administering the aid.
Sirius XM Beefs Up Election Programming on POTUS Channel. The satcaster ramps up its 2012 presidential election coverage with new programming on its Politics of the United States – POTUS – channel. “Showdown 2012” will air Thursdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm with veteran White House and Washington, D.C. correspondents including Jon Decker, Chris Core, Dick Uliano and Louise Schiavone. “CQ Roll Call” airs Wednesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by CQ Roll Call senior editor Morton Kondracke, editor David Hawkings, and others. “The Flacks” airs Mondays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by veteran communications strategists and MSNBC political analysts Karen Finney and Robert Traynham.
Money Radio 1200 Debuts in Palm Springs. CRC Media West’s KPSF, Palm Springs financial talk radio outlet signed on yesterday (3/5). The station was constructed by CRC Media West principals Ronald Cohen and Brian DuBose and modeled after the company’s “Money Radio” outlet serving the Phoenix market. The Palm Springs station features a mix of syndicated and local/regional programming.
WTOP, Washington, DC Names Washington Regional Transplant Community Charity of the Month. The Hubbard Broadcasting media organization says that as part of WTOP’s ‘Charity of the Month’ program, Washington Regional Transplant Community will receive more than $30,000 in free air time and in-kind contributions, including on-air promotions, as well as content on WTOP’s social media platforms and on WTOP.com throughout the month. The WRTC serves as the federally-designated organ procurement organization (OPO) for the Washington metropolitan area. As one of 58 OPOs nationwide, WRTC is the organization that facilitates all deceased organ, eye and tissue donation in our area, serving more than five million residents. WTOP public relations and marketing specialist Robin Newton says, “WTOP is proud to support Washington Regional Transplant Community during the month of March. WRTC has a direct effect on the health of our local community and helping them means strengthening an invaluable resource for our neighbors. Our hope is to spread awareness and garner attention for their work.”