Tag: "Steve Goldstein"

RAIN Summit: “It’s Complicated”

| September 18, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

 

ORLANDO — The NAB/RAB Radio Show kicks off today; but several hundred attendees got here a day early to spend yesterday talking about non-AM/FM “radio,” at Kurt Hanson’s RAIN (Radio And Internet News) Summit.

Even just a few years ago, streaming was a novelty, an adjunct to on-air programming.  Not now.

  • Smartphones have replaced alarm clocks, watches, cameras, calculators, appointment books, TV Guide, GPS…shall I continue?  There is an app for that.  Heck, iPhone obsoleted its predecessor iPod, and (imagine someone awakening from a 10-year coma hearing this?) we now get our music from our phones.  So, without even confronting data about mushrooming streaming audio consumption, broadcasters are undeniably in be-there-or-be-square territory.
  • Read More

Friday, October 12, 2012

| October 12, 2012

New Media Seminar Draws 275 in Los Angeles.  It was a packed house sold out two weeks in advance as some 275 talk media broadcasters from across the country, with a distinct emphasis on the Western states, rocked the old Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood yesterday.  Approximately 50 speakers — including the likes of Robin Bertolucci, Phil Boyce, Kevin Casey, Holland Cooke, Jerry Doyle, Skip Essick, Ian Freeman, Bill Handel, Heidi Harris, Michael Harrison, Ron Hartenbaum, Sam Hasson, Michael Horn, Rusty Humphries, Karel, Mike Kinosian, Kraig Kitchin, Lars Larson, Kevin Larue, Garret Lewis, Tom Leykis, Andy Ludlum, Carole Marks, Don Martin, Mike McVay, Stephanie Miller, Bob Moore, Bill Moran, Patt Morrison, Harvey Nagler, Norm Pattiz, Ken Rutkowski, Walter Sabo, Brent Seltzer, Dave Sniff, Eric Stanger, Doug Stephan, Shadoe Stevens, Alan Stock, Chuck Tyler, Jeff Wasserman, Eric Weiss, and Michael Zwerling – tackled a variety of hot industry topics including the economic, technological and cultural challenges facing talk radio broadcasters in 2012.  This full day event was part two of TALKERS magazine’s new 2012 format in which the New Media Seminar was broken into East and West coast segments.  The first was a sellout event held in New York on June 7.

“Those who do not adapt will be swallowed up.”  That was the admonishment of Courtside Entertainment CEO Norm Pattiz in his Thursday morning keynote.  Consistently sounding a no-nonsense tone, Pattiz assured attendees that this is a very serious time.  Along those lines, Pattiz even mentioned that his comments that kicked off the enthusiastically well-received event would not be going for laughs.  Touching on a variety of bullet points, the former Westwood One honcho commented that, despite the fact audience size is unchanged, there is dwindling support for conservative talk radio from national advertisers.  “There were no 400-pound gorillas,” when Pattiz began in the radio syndication business.  Missing good old-fashioned radio wars, he noted that people “banged heads in a good-natured way.”  Importance of the product was heavily stressed by Pattiz, who emphasized that he “did not get in the business because of money – I’m a content guy.”  The idea of giving anything away for nothing “is ridiculous,” he remarked.  Despite cautioning the audience that his keynote would be straightforward, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ #1 fan could not resist lightening the mood on several occasions when, including when he stated, “You should not sleep well knowing that I am the chairman of Lawrence Livermore National Security.”

A star-studded panel looked at the big picture of spoken-word radio, with CBS Radio News vice president Harvey Nagler stating, “We are not in the radio business – we are in the content business.”  Content, however, must be memorable and compelling.  Provided that personalities “do not break their promises to listeners,” it is the opinion of Sound Mind CEO Kraig Kitchin that they will “continue to sell their books.”  Demos are not what Phil Boyce seeks.  “I chase ears,” commented Salem Communications‘ vice president/director, spoken word formats, who added, “People on the left want to kill talk radio.”  One of the key buzzwords, according to Fox Sports Radio vice president/programming Don Martin, is “bundle.”  The operations manager of Los Angeles’ KLAC commented that, from a branding standpoint, it is much wiser to use handles such as “Fox Sports Radio – LA,” or “ESPN Radio 710,” rather than, “The Zone,” or “The Ticket.”

The New Normal president/host Tom Leykis was among the “Modern Day Pioneer” panelists.  The popular talk host isn’t a fan of having television cameras in a radio studio.  The concept of viewing a radio show on television, is – in Leykis’ estimation” very similar to “watching socks dry.” Esteemed programmer and “Mental Radio” host Shadoe Stevens added, “It takes away the theater of the mind.”  Virtually everyone thought Mike Horn “was crazy” when the chief executive officer of CRN Digital Talk set forth the concept of providing audio channels to cable TV providers.  Next year, his company will celebrate its 30th birthday.  “You must have great programming and a way to promote it,” Horn remarked.

Look for extensive coverage of this historic radio gathering in the coming days and weeks in TALKERS and RadioInfo including video coverage and bonus interviews.

Competition in the Network Sports Talk Field Breeding War of Words.  A story in the New York Post illustrates the intense competition the arrival of two new major players (CBS Sports Radio Network and NBC Sports Radio) in the sports talk radio network business is having.  Reporting what the industry has known for some time – that the Cumulus distribution partnership with the new CBS Sports Radio Network will mean 47 new affiliates for CBS and would mean some affiliation cancellations for ESPN Radio – the two sides engaged in a little competitive posturing in the Post story.  Saying it will have about 100 affiliate stations when it debuts in January and positioning itself as the “most-listened-to sports radio network in the top 50 markets,” CBS is playing up its assets – namely O&Os in major and large markets.  CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason tells the Post, “ESPN affiliates are in small markets.  Maybe you find that adds up to a lot of audience.  Don’t forget that CBS Radio owns most of the top 10 sports stations in the US, and with Cumulus that’s formidable.  ESPN has had the market much to themselves, we’re the new entry and we think we put together formidable talent.”  ESPN Radio SVP of production and business Traug Keller responds, “This has no material effect on us.  There’s only three or four [Cumulus] stations in the top 50.”  He also tells the paper ESPN is already finding new affiliates in markets where current agreements are being terminated, including Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama.

Barclays Capital Analyst Downgrades U.S. Advertising Growth Forecast.  The ad industry as a whole will not grow as much over the next year and a half as previously predicted states Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente.  In a report issued yesterday, DiClemente stated he believes ad growth across all sectors will be just 4% this year compared to his original prediction of 4.6%.  For 2013, DiClemente says he believes ad revenue will rise just 1.9% compared to his previous 2.3% forecast.  He did not specifically report on projections for radio.  He did, however, give a positive outlook for News Corp. performance.

WSCR, Chicago’s Jason Goff to Take Night Host Position at CBS Radio’s Atlanta FM Sports Talker.  Rounding out the lineup of CBS Radio’s WZGC, Atlanta “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game” is Jason Goff, who will become the host of the evening show when the station debuts on October 24.  The lineup for the new sports talker was announced earlier this week with the exception of the evening slot.  Now, “The Score” fill-in host, writer, producer and reporter will move south for his own nightly talk show.  Goff has been with WSCR for the past 12 years and program director Mitch Rosen is obviously thrilled for Goff telling Chicago Radio and Media, “What a great story Jason Goff is.  From a caller in high school to an intern to a full-time producer/fill-in host, and now to a top market like Atlanta to be a full-time host!  This is a Hollywood story in progress, Jason will excel and I could not be more proud.”

Looking Into the Digital Crystal Ball.  Saga Communications made the news this past Wednesday when they anointed their program directors as “brand managers.”  Saga’s EVP Steve Goldstein, issued a memo that you read here in TALKERS.  It read, in part, “We’ve been thinking about how successful programmers are morphing their skills to become proficient at not just managing the on-air product, but the overall brand.  And conversely, it has exposed the vulnerability of program directors who are not learning and growing as we become more digital.”  In today’s TALKERS, leading digital radio consultant Chris Miller writes about what this move actually will mean to the managers involved.  Looking into his digital crystal ball he predicts that before too long, brand managers will be judged on how much time people are spending with their entire brand.  Not just their broadcasts, but all the platforms that they manage.  He says that we will move into the era of the “new ratings” in which every click is trackable – no estimates – and stations will own the data without having to buy it from a third party (uh, oh Arbitron).  He also points out that this new era will open the door to new competition and an increased concentration on niches.  Fasten your seat belts because this is one fast ride!  To read Chris Miller’s entire piece, click here.

Doug Hess Exits WLTP, Parkersburg, West Virginia.  News director and morning drive co-host Doug Hess is leaving Clear Channel’s news/talk WLTP, Parkersburg, West Virginia after 21 years doing local news in the market.  According to the News-Sentinel, Hess will take a position as communications and outreach coordinator with The ARC of the Mid-Ohio Valley.  Hess tells the paper he’ll miss the news business he’s been a part of for so many years.  “People depend on you to get this information out to them in a timely manner.  It is an important job and it has been a privilege to do it.”

Beasley Broadcasting Adds FM Signals to Southwest Florida’s 770 ESPN Radio.  WWCN, Ft. Myers gets some FM signal boost to help it cover Lee and Collier counties.  Beasley Broadcasting announces the ESPN Radio affiliate can now be heard on 98.1 FM in South Ft. Myers and Estero; 101.5 FM in Bonita Springs and North Naples; and 105.1 FM in Naples and Marco Island.  VP/market manager Brad Beasley states, “This is a big deal for Southwest Florida sports enthusiasts.  For the past 12 years, the only way to hear sports in our community has been on the AM dial.  Now our loyal listeners can also follow their favorite teams and events at multiple locations on the FM dial…and that’s awesome!”

Vice Presidential Debate Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 8-12.  The anticipation of the vice presidential candidate’s debate and the post-debate discussion was the top news/talk story of the week landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  Following at #2 was the questioning of the facts presented by the Obama administration about the attack in Banghazi.  At #3 was the presidential race poll numbers followed by the aftermath of the first presidential debate at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

Crystal Ball for Brand Managers

| October 12, 2012

By Chris Miller
Chris Miller Digital

SHAKER HEIGHTS — Saga Communications made the news this past Wednesday when they anointed their program directors as “brand managers.”  Saga’s executive vice president, Steve Goldstein, issued a memo that you read in RadioInfo.  It read, in part, “We’ve been thinking about how successful programmers are morphing their skills to become proficient at not just managing the on-air product, but the overall brand.  And conversely, it has exposed the vulnerability of program directors who are not learning and growing as we become more digital.”

Read More

Thursday, July 5, 2012

| July 5, 2012

“Independence Day Wednesday” Provides Talk Radio with Interesting Programming Opportunities.  According to a TALKERS magazine survey of talk stations across the country, the rare occurrence of July 4th falling on a Wednesday this year and not lending itself to a convenient four-day weekend, gave talk radio programmers an array of options in filling the schedule.  Many gave their star performers the day off and replaced them with their own “best ofs.” Others used fill-in hosts – some cleverly taking it upon themselves to create their own Fourth of July “specials.”  Others just did their shows as per the usual schedule.  Almost all report that they spent extra time and attention revisiting the meaning of the holiday and the historic roots of American independence.  Independence Day gives radio stations the opportunity to become engaged with local military, public safety, emergency response, community service and charitable organizations in their regions.  WHYN, Springfield, Mass. morning co-host Brad Shepard performs his annual ritual of serving as master of ceremonies at the local East Longmeadow Independence Day Parade – a major two-hour regional tradition in Western Massachusetts drawing thousands of people.  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, a resident of the area who attends the event each year, states, “Brad Shepard does a wonderful job announcing the details and color of this superb local parade for a large crowd of people who line the sidewalks and pack the town square in an idyllic New England small-town setting.  It is an example of a beloved hometown radio personality engaging in true community involvement and a joy to behold.”  Harrison (l) is greeted by Shepard (r) at the parade reviewing stand during a break in the action for a quick TALKERS photo.

When Is a Death Threat Free Speech?  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman explains some of the legal background in the murky area of free speech and language that can appear to be a threat to someone’s health or life.  In the wake of the case of Timothy Demeuse – a Milwaukee man charged with a misdemeanor for writing threatening language about WIBA, Madison-based talk host Vicki McKenna – Weisman says what is considered a punishable offense is not always easy to predict.  Read his column here.

Red Zebra’s Washington Redskins Radio Network Re-Inks Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen.  National Football League Hall-of-Famers Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen have both re-signed with the Washington Redskins Radio Network for the 2012-2013 football season.  The two will be in the booth with play-by-play man Larry Michael and WTEM, Washington’s Rick “Doc” Walker will serve as sideline reporter.  Due to the rigors of travel, the 78-year-old Huff will work 12 of the 20 games – all home games and two road contests.  Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff have been broadcasting Washington Redskins games together since 1981 – a span of over 600 broadcasts, including 25 playoff games and all three Super Bowl victories.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment promotes programmer Tony Travatto who moves from his post as OM and PD at CHR WNCI, Columbus to Detroit where he’ll serve as operations manager for the cluster that includes progressive talk WDTW and sports talk WDFN…..Spanish-language broadcaster Univision unveils the Univision America national talk radio network lineup that debuted on July 4.  The lineup – which is expected to be heard on all of the company’s AM talk stations – includes a morning drive news block; relationships expert Dra. Isabel; current events talk with Fernando Espuelas; political talk with Helen Aguirre; and a sports talk show featuring Rafael Hernandez Brito…..Carl Amari’s “Hollywood 360” weekly nostalgia and trivia show is being syndicated nationally via Syndication Networks Corp. and Salem Radio Networks.  The WIND, Chicago-based show is expected to be carried on many Salem Communications-owned stations.

Newspaper Decline Spells Opportunity for Talk Radio Sales.  The problems facing daily newspapers are opportunities for local talk radio sales executives writes H & H Communications president Al Herskovitz.  In this column, Herskovitz explains talk radio’s proven ability to drive traffic to the web combined with the unique personalities on the stations give it a one-two punch of marketing effectiveness.  Read Al’s column here.

Fourth of July Holiday, SCOTUS ObamaCare Decision Aftermath, 2012 Presidential Race, Mid-Atlantic Storm Damage, and National Malware Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/4).  Holiday topics discussed on news/talk radio on July 4th included the holiday itself; the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act; the 2012 presidential race; the lingering effects of the recent Mid-Atlantic storms; and the threat of a nationwide malware attack on internet users, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

| March 14, 2012

America’s Radio News Network Develops Second Radio Network Featuring 24/7 News Reports.  The long-form news venture crafted by Talk Radio Network known as America’s Radio News Network – which is successfully distributing three-hour blocks of all-news content to more than 275 affiliate stations – is announcing the creation of a second network dedicated to top- and bottom-of-the-hour news, breaking news bulletins, special reports and newsmaker interviews.  ARNN executive vice president for news John McCaslin states, “‘Journalism Without Agenda’ is not just a marketing phrase at America’s Radio News – it’s a code we live by – and the marketplace has responded so strongly to our long-form, all-news product that the second news network of our short-form top- and bottom-of-the-hour news (plus audio actualities, special reports, news maker interviews etc…) was a natural outgrowth of this demand.  We are honored to be the fastest-growing brand in news radio.  We truly are ‘Journalism Without Agenda.’  This is something stations not only deeply appreciate, but have a need for like never before.”  CEO Mark Masters says this means affiliate stations will not have to “break away” for news.  “Bottom line, ARNN is now the complete ‘go-to’ radio news network ­ for urgent breaking newscasts on the hour and half-hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, along with our intriguing and diverse lineup of newsmaker interviews in addition to our large array of three-hour, long-form weekday news blocks our listeners enjoy each weekday.”  The new service begins April 2.

Dan Sileo Let Go from WDAE, Tampa After “Monkeys” Comment.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Tampa Bay sports talk outlet has parted company with morning drive sports talk host Dan Sileo after he referred to three NFL free agents as “monkeys.”  During an exchange with producer Darek Sharp about whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should go after Cortland Finnegan, Jonathan Vilma and Vincent Jackson in free agency, Sileo reportedly said, “No! No!  If they get those three monkeys, I’m good!  I’m ready, man.  I’m ready.  I want those guys.  Those guys are great players.”  WDAE program director Steve Versnick confirmed to the Tampa Bay Tribune that Sileo is no longer with the station but would not comment on why due to the station’s policy of not discussing personnel matters.  The Tampa Bay Times reports the station apologized specifically for Sileo’s remarks.  As for Sileo, he tweeted to the TimesEric Deggans that he didn’t even realize what he’d said until someone told him.  Versnick told the Tribune Rock Riley will fill in for Sileo and the station is seeking a permanent replacement.  Dan Sileo has written about sports talk radio for TALKERS in the past.

Aggressive Agenda Being Set for New Media Seminar.  The first of several key panel rosters for the New York installment of this year’s New Media Seminar has been announced and it promises to provide a powerful overview of the state of talk radio.  Titled “Spoken Word Radio 2012, the Big Picture,” the lineup includes (in alphabetical order): Phil Boyce, VP/director, Spoken Word Format, Salem Communications; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Mike McVay, senior VP programming, Cumulus Media; and Chris Oliviero,  senior VP programming, CBS RadioMichael Harrison, publisher of TALKERS will moderate.  According to Harrison, “This year’s New Media Seminar will tackle a number of pressing issues facing the industry during this most transitional and turbulent year.”  The 2012 version of the industry’s longest-running and most important national convention will feature a new, innovative format designed for the times – broken into two separate events:  New York on Thursday, June 7 and Los Angeles on Thursday, October 11.  Each will present a power-packed agenda and offer affordable, accessible registration fees to its attendees.  Registration, however, is limited and only open to members of the working media. For details, click here.

Dial Global and Dennis Miller Celebrate the Host’s Five-Year Anniversary with a New Contract.  The announcement from Dial Global doesn’t get specific – it calls it a long-term deal – but Dennis Miller’s gig as a nationally syndicated talk show host will continue.  He began in 2007 with Westwood One and is currently heard on more than 300 affiliate stations and, according to DG, in 24 of the top 24 markets.  Dial Global co-president/CEO David Landau says, “We are ecstatic about our relationship with Dennis and thrilled to be associated with a rock star and national treasure of this magnitude.”  Miller is a regular contributor to Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”  Miller and O’Reilly have been involved in a live event series dubbed the “Bolder & Fresher Tour 2011-2012” and have added new dates to that tour including June 22 in Indianapolis and June 23 in Chicago.  Miller says of his radio success, “It has been a fine five years with a great and growing audience that I enjoy riffing with.  As I bask in the glorious wake of modest achievement, I look forward to many more years behind the microphone.”

Saga Communications Reports Revenue Down 3.6% in Q4 of 2011.  But for the entire year of 2011, Saga Communications was down just a hair – to $127.3 million in net revenue.  The good news for Saga is free cash flow was up 3.6% for the quarter and 9% for the year.  Also, Saga was able to reduce its debt by $27 million to $69.1 million.  One thing Saga is enjoying that many other broadcasting companies surely covet is a healthy stock price.  Saga’s stock closed at $41.40 per share on Tuesday – up 6.7%.

Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington Locks Up Doc Walker for Three More Years.  The midday sports talk host was most recently partnered with John Thompson at WTEM but Thompson left his daily talk show host role at the station last month.  Now, Red Zebra vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says the company has signed Rick “Doc” Walker to a three-year contract extension and the station will feature Walker in a new 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm program beginning March 26.  Walker is also part of the broadcast team for the Washington Redskins Radio Network.  Red Zebra CEO Rick Carmean states, “Doc has become an integral part of WTEM and its success for the better part of 15 years.  We are excited for him to be a part of the new show and our Redskins broadcasts.”

Cumulus Media Networks Partners with APM Music for Production Library Services.  Music library giant APM Music – a joint venture of EMI Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing – partners with Cumulus Media Networks to offer its music library services to client stations.  APM’s collection of music is described as offering “every imaginable genre including music from current indie bands to big sound orchestral trailer cues to a full classical music repertoire.”  CMN SVP of affiliate sales and broadcast operations Dennis Green says, “Cumulus Media Networks is proud to add the APM music production library to its growing stable of products and services available to stations all over the country.  APM’s library is the largest and best in the industry which will provide stations the foundation for outstanding commercial production.”

Dan LeBatard Show Markets Content via CDBaby.  The WAXY, Miami PM drive show Dan LeBatard with Stugotz & Hochman is marketing some of its best-of material via CDBaby.  The program has a sizable podcast following but this is the first foray in to digital media marketing.  As the deal is structured, the show and station owner Lincoln Financial Media both share in the revenue.  The “CD” is available through CDBaby.com, iTunes, Amazon and several other digital media sites.  Marc Hochman (who is currently also program director of WAXY but is stepping down to focus on the LeBatard show) reports LeBatard’s national profile has “grown exponentially since the debut of his daily TV show, ‘Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable,’ on ESPN 2 which is aired every day at 4:00 pm ET.”  Pictured here is the “CD cover” of the digital download.  Hochman says there will be no physical CDs, just the download.

GOP Southern Primaries/2012 Presidential Race, Soaring Gas Prices, Afghanistan Killings Aftermath, and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/13).  Yesterday’s southern primaries for the GOP contenders and the 2012 presidential race in general; the nation’s soaring gas prices and its impact on President Obama’s approval numbers; the aftermath of the killing of 16 Afghanistan civilians by a U.S. soldier; and the ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

| March 13, 2012

Cumulus Reports Net Revenue Down 5.6% in Fourth Quarter of 2011; Company High on Geraldo and Huckabee.  Cumulus Media Group CEO Lew Dickey and chief financial officer J.P. Hannan appeared together on yesterday’s conference call to tell analysts the company’s plans for consolidating the former Cumulus Media Partners (former Susquehanna stations) it brought into the fold in August and the former Citadel stations it closed on in September are coming together allowing them to realize the “synergies” — $10.5 million worth — within the time frame originally predicted.  As far as revenue is concerned, the company saw revenue down only 1% if you exclude political advertising from Q4 one year prior.  Dickey told analysts there was growth in the automotive, financial services and retail sectors in Q4 and he – like many – expects this to be a big year for political dollars.  Dickey addressed the coming launch of the Mike Huckabee program and stopped short of saying Cumulus could capitalize on Rush Limbaugh’s current PR challenge but told analysts his company sees a real upside for the April launch of Huckabee’s program for which it says it has about 110 affiliates lined up already.  Dickey also said that Geraldo Rivera – currently heard on WABC, New York and KABC, Los Angeles only – is ripe for national syndication and calls the New York and Los Angeles placement a “precursor” to a national rollout.

Rush Limbaugh Takes Monday Off; Premiere Networks Suspends Airing of Barter Spots for Two Weeks.  Things are quieting down with regard to the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy but El Rushbo took yesterday (3/12) off to play golf with regular fill-in Mark Steyn sitting in the host’s chair.  Public relations and crisis management expert Brian Glicklich is working with Limbaugh’s team and it sounds as though the day off was probably his idea.  At the same time, Premiere Networks issued a memo to traffic departments at news/talk affiliates and is suspending the requirement that stations run barter spots – the ones that air in addition to the network spots actually contained within Limbaugh’s and other Premiere shows – for this week and next.  Premiere gives no reason for this but one could surmise it doesn’t want to have any clients’ spots air within “controversial programming” and a cool down period like this will allow it to get a handle on where these spots are to air and where they should not.

Curtis Media Blows Up “FM Talk 101.1” WZTK-FM; Programming Changes Affect WPTF, Raleigh and WSJS, Winston-Salem.  Curtis Media shocks the news/talk world with the sudden announcement that eight-year-old FM talker WZTK-FM, Burlington – serving both the Triad and Triangle markets of North Carolina is signing off its talk format and will re-emerge within a few weeks.  But some of the talent heard on WZTK-FM is being spread out among Curtis Media’s other news talkers in the Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem/High Point/Greensboro markets.  Here’s what’s happening: First, in the Triangle market of Raleigh-Durham, Curtis drops country on WKIX at 850 AM and will operate two outlets – NewsRadio 680 WPTF and TalkRadio 850 WPTF.  WPTF VP/GM David Stuckey states, “NewsRadio 680 WPTF is where people will hear about the big events of the day, while TalkRadio 850 WPTF is where they’ll talk about those stories.”  Stuckey says that while WPTF has proudly conservative roots dating back to 1924, the two stations will strive for balanced news coverage and an open exchange of all opinions across the ideological spectrum.  “Unlike some media outlets, we’re not going to force-feed the same political agenda ad nauseum.  We’ve seen ratings slippage on stations and channels with a hard-leaning approach, and more advertisers are telling us they want media platforms that are less toxic and more civil.”  As far as talent is concerned, Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire survive the cut at WZTK-FM and will host PM drive on WPTF and WSJS.  Dial Global’s Neal Boortz and Clark Howard are also landing on WPTF and WSJS.  Shows that “didn’t make the cut” include local host Allan Handelman, TRN’s Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie and Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes.

Larry King to Host Show on Internet TV Network.  American television and radio icon Larry King is returning to the interview desk with a start-up online TV network called Ora.TV being financed by Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim. A debut date for the site has not been announced yet but the Ora.TV website says it’s coming this year.  The site states, “From its inception, Ora is an internet-based on-demand network producing a wide range of programs that transcend traditional formats.  Our programs will resemble broadcast TV in terms of quality, but viewers will watch when and where they like with interactive capability.”  Former News Corp. president of digital journalism Jon Housman will lead the network.

Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Holds “Insight 2012” with Major Political Guests.  The annual “Insight 2012” program hosted by WTMJ, Milwaukee talk host Charlie Sykes has become a must-listen for Wisconsin political aficionados the morning after it takes place.  The actual event is a ticket-holder-only live event the night prior – in this year’s case, last night.  Sykes hosted fellow WTMJ host Jeff Wagner and other journalists plus Wisconsin State Senate candidates Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Thompson, Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde.  Also appearing were U.S. Representatives Paul Ryan, Reid Ribble and Sean Duffy along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  Last evening’s event is being re-broadcast this morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon on WTMJ.

Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Signs on with TuneIn.  The “Voice of Chicago” can now be heard around the world via the free, internet service TuneIn, which boasts 30 million monthly active listeners.  TuneIn vice president of programming Kevin Straley says, “WGN is known all over the country and has a rich history in Chicago.  Our goal is to share all of the best programming from around the world with over 30 million monthly listeners, and partnering with WGN brings us one step closer to that goal.”

KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh Announces Pirates Broadcast Talent.  CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh announces former Chicago Cubs third baseman Kevin Orie will be paired with radio host Dan Zangrilli to handle the game-day shows before and after each Pirates baseball game throughout the season.  The two will host a one-hour preview program and a one-hour post-game show.  Pirates broadcasters (Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Steve Blass, Bob Walk, and John Wehner) will continue to be featured during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as calling all the action during the games.

Report:  3MTR Abandons Talk Format in Melbourne.  TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on the demise of talkback radio 3MTR in Melbourne.  Smith notes the station had been having financial difficulties for months and was unable to compete with Melbourne’s talk 3AW.  Read more here.

Afghan Civilian Massacre, 2012 Presidential Race, HBO Palin Movie, Rush Limbaugh Controversy and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/12).  The case of a U.S. Army sergeant who killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan; the GOP candidates’ battle to win the nomination to face President Obama in November; HBO’s “Game Change” film about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential race; the ongoing controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh; and the Iran nuclear weapons issue were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Phil Hendrie Walks the Red Carpet.  Sure, he’s not wearing a glitzy, designer gown but he is walking on a red carpet!  That’s Talk Radio Network personality Phil Hendrie at the Los Angeles Animation Festival on Saturday, March, 10.  Hendrie – whose voice appears in numerous animated films and TV programs – was a cast member in Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s “Team America” film.  Hendrie states, “I was happy to be involved in any way that I could, because that was a great work experience for me…Every time that it’s mentioned that I was in ‘Team America,’ people instantaneously recognize it.  They know the voice of I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., they know the voice of the terrorist, they know the film, so it’s like my instant credibility button.”