Tag: "Steven J.J. Weisman"

Did SiriusXM Have the Right to Fire Anthony Cumia?

| July 11, 2014

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS 
Legal Editor

 

weismanwriterBOSTON — On Tuesday, July 2 Anthony Cumia, of Opie & Anthony fame, had an altercation with an African-American woman in Times Square who objected to his photographing her.  The altercation escalated to a point where Cumia says he was physically assaulted by the woman.  He chose not to file a criminal complaint against her and explained his actions on Twitter by writing “Because I can take some punches w/out wasting the cops time.”  Cumia did, however take to Twitter to vent his anger as to the incident in a series of tweets that were interpreted by many as being racist and misogynistic.   Among those who considered the rants offensive was Cumia’s employer, SiriusXM which promptly fired him the very next day and issued a terse statement that reads: “SiriusXM has terminated its relationship with Anthony Cumia of the ‘Opie & Anthony channel.  The decision was made and Cumia informed late Thursday, July 3, after careful consideration of his racially charged and hate-filled remarks on social media. Those remarks and postings are abhorrent to Sirius XM and his behavior is wholly inconsistent with what Sirius XM represents.”

Cumia appeared to be surprised by his firing and tweeted the next morning “Sirius decided to cave and fire me.  Welcome to bizarro world.  Fired for s**t that wasn’t even on the air & wasn’t illegal.  So, who’s next?”

He doesn’t get it.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

| July 11, 2014

weismanstevenDid SiriusXM Have the Right to Fire Anthony Cumia?  A week after satellite broadcaster SiriusXM terminated Anthony Cumia of the “Opie & Anthony” show, TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes about the underlying legal aspects of the case.  Weisman explains that – although he hasn’t read Cumia’s contract – most performers who sign a contract these days have a morals clause in their deals that give the employer the right to fire employees who do things while off duty that reflect badly on the company.  Weisman offers some history of the morals clause and explains what employees finding themselves in Cumia’s situation might have in their arsenal with which to fight back.  Read Weisman’s entire piece here.

kfbk logoKFBK, Sacramento Gives Gubernatorial Nominee Talk Show Appearance.  In an effort to do what Clear Channel Sacramento VP of programming Ken Charles says is “covering the biggest stories and the most relevant news for Sacramento and California,” news/talk KFBK welcomed Republican gubernatorial nominee Neel Kashkari to the airwaves, allowing him to host a three-hour show last night (7/10) from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  Charles said, “We invited both Kashkari and Governor Brown to host a show with us to provide them a unique forum to speak with the citizens of northern California.  We look forward to Kashkari’s appearance tonight and hope we hear from the governor very soon.”

wrightadamWHYN, Springfield to Name Adam Wright Morning Drive Co-Host.  Two weeks after parting company with longtime morning drive co-host Brad Shepard, Clear Channel Springfield, Massachusetts is prepared to announce Adam Hamada Wright will join co-host Bo Sullivan on air for AM drive duties.  Wright operates Westfield, Massachusetts based Advertus Media, a creative and media buying agency, and will continue that business in addition to his radio work.  He says, “WHYN is a heritage news/talk station and I look forward to carrying on an incredible tradition of broadcasting there.  This new additional adventure is the culmination of a lifelong dream of hosting a talk show and the ability to return to radio after 14 years.  I will forever be grateful to Sean Davey and Jerry Hyland for coming up with this insane idea and I will honor those who came before me on this storied station, especially Brad Shepard who I consider an amazing talent and friend.”

kwqw logoDianna Kelly Joins ’98.3 The Torch’ in Des Moines.  Taking on the role of news director for Cumulus Media news/talk outlet KWQW “98.3 The Torch” is Dianna Kelly.  Cumuluskellydianna states that the “experienced broadcast journalist and talk personality has held on-air positions for stations in Kansas City, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Fresno, Jacksonville, Grand Rapids, and suburban Nashville.  She has been honored with six Associated Press awards for her feature reports.”  Kelly says, “What a pleasure to be working with the brightest minds in radio!  The future of radio is here and it’s at Cumulus.  I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.”

nielsen logoRound Three of June PPM Data Released.  The third of four rounds of June 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Columbus.  The survey period was May 22 through June 18.  TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here.  In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page of RadioInfo.com here.

costadinoDino Costa Moves Show Base to NYC.  Two months after the former SirusXM sports talk personality Dino Costa began his own internet-based sports talk show at dinocostashow.com, he announces he’s moving his base of operations from Cheyenne, Wyoming to New York City later this summer.  Costa explains on his website that he initially hated life in New York when he first went to work for SiriusXM but, to his own surprise, realized he missed the City after moving back to the West and settling in Cheyenne.  Costa says his show will be MIA for a week when he and his family make the move back to New York.

coxalanOdds & Sods.  Mixing it up a bit is Premiere Networks as the syndicator brings rock/talk WMMS, Cleveland and classic rock WDTW, Detroit personality Alan Cox in to sub for Andy Dean on the “America Now” program on Monday, July 14.  Though Dean is decidedly conservative, Cox likes to operate more in the pop culture/lifestyle arena.  This should be an interesting listen…..A Manhattan street was named for thebrooksstan longtime WINS, New York reporter who passed away last year at age 86, just two weeks after filing his last report for the station.  The New York Daily News reports that the corner of W. 43rd St. and 10th Avenue will bear the name “Stan Brooks Way” as a tribute to the journalist who worked for WINS for almost 50 years.  Brooks and his wife lived near the intersection…..CBS RADIO’s KNX, Los Angeles continues its “KNX On Your Corner” series with a live remote broadcast from northern Orange County on Friday, July 25.  The station says the broadcast will include a series of special reports focusing on important issues in the cities of Brea, La Habra, Yorba Linda and Placentia.  Additionally, local civic leaders will appear as special guests throughout the day as KNX gives listeners insight into the unique attributes of the area.  “Adding to the local flavor of the day, KNX will broadcast live from Arthur’s Coffee Shop in La Habra.  Free refreshments will be offered and the public is invited to meet the people behind the microphones of Southern California’s only all-news radio station.”

freemanedgeTALKERS Weekly Affiliate Update.  “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to new affiliate stations WAMT, Orlando; KMET-AM, Banning, California; WGRV, Greeneville, Tennessee; WNNG-FM, Unadilla, Georgia; and WFPA, Ft. Payne, Alabama…..Doug Stephan’s “Good Day” program adds 10 new affiliate stations including KLAV, Las Vegas; WELE, Ormond Beach, Florida; KVNA, Flagstaff, Arizona; and WMXB, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Child Immigration Crisis Top News/Talk Story This Week.  The influx of minor immigrants from Central America crossing the Southwestern borders and the immigration policy controversy associated with it was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of July 7-11, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  Following at #2 was the ISIS campaign in Iraq.  At #3 was the Israeli-Palestinian violence and at #4 was the state of President Obama’s approval ratings.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week.  It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

Glenn Beck and the Limits of the First Amendment

| June 16, 2014

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS 
Legal Editor

 

weismanwriterBOSTON — In the days following the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 that killed three people, wounded 260 more and initially dealt a blow to the psyche of Massachusetts and the rest of the country, the nation was obsessed with finding out who were the perpetrators of this horrendous and cowardly act of terrorism.  It did not take long before authorities were able to identify Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police four days after the bombing, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is presently awaiting trial as the terrorists behind the crime.

However, for talk show host Glenn Beck, the story did not end there.  At the time of the bombings and for some time thereafter he was convinced that there was a conspiracy that included another individual, who he identified as an Al Qaeda “control agent” and the “money man” behind the bombing, although the lack of sophistication involved in the crime certainly did not appear to require any significant funding to bring about this attack.  The man identified by Beck as the third conspirator was a 20-year-old Saudi Arabian studying in the United States named Abdulrahman Alharbi.  Alharbi was present at the bombings in Boston and actually was among those injured by the blasts.

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Frazier Glenn Cross and the Media

| April 14, 2014

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS 
Legal Editor

weismanwriterBOSTON — The country was shocked and saddened to see and hear the news on Sunday of the killing of three people by racist and anti-Semite Frazier Glenn Cross, who has also been known as Glenn Miller, particularly when he ran for the United States Senate from Missouri in 2010. To those who might question why I, a lawyer, refer to Cross/Miller as a “killer” when he has not been convicted in a court of law and is entitled to a presumption of innocence, I respond that it is abundantly clear that Cross/Miller did indeed kill 14-year-old Reat Underwood and his grandfather Dr. William Corporon who had the misfortune to be attending a singing contest at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas.  By the way, neither of them was Jewish.  We also know that Cross/Miller killed an elderly woman at the nearby Village Shalom senior living facility.  Cross/Miller is entitled to a legal presumption of innocence in determining whether he is legally responsible for these killings, but make no mistake about it, he killed these three innocent people.  During his arrest, he was recorded screaming “Heil Hitler.”

What makes Miller’s case of particular interest to broadcasters goes back to 2010 when he ran as a write-in candidate for the United States Senate in Missouri.  Under federal law, radio stations and television stations are not required to carry political advertisements, but if they do choose to carry political advertising, the stations must not discriminate among candidates.  They must carry the advertising of any bona fide candidate who wishes to advertise on their stations.  In 2010, Glenn Miller produced and spoke in a number of racist and anti-Semitic rantings under the guise that they were political advertisements for his candidacy.  Here is a link to a YouTube video of some of his ads.  Be forewarned, they are extremely offensive:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlPeIMIVgq0&bpctr=1397487415

As you can well imagine, Missouri broadcasters that carried political advertisements were very upset when confronted by Miller demanding advertising time on their stations.  Some broadcasters carried the advertisements preceded by apologies and disclaimers while others donated the money paid by Miller to local chapters of the NAACP and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Ultimately, the Missouri Attorney General and the Missouri Broadcasters Association requested a declaratory ruling from the FCC as to whether Miller was indeed a “bona fide” political candidate and thus was entitled to air his venomous political advertisements or was he just a racist, anti-Semite trying to exploit what he perceived as a loophole in the law.    The petition by the Missouri Attorney General and the Missouri Broadcasters Association argued, “Whatever Miller’s commitment might be, it is not about getting elected in the general election, but simply to pervert the campaign laws to his true purpose of requiring FCC licensees to broadcast his non-campaign messages to an unsuspecting public.”  Specifically, the petition indicated that Miller did not have a campaign committee, an office or issue press releases, all of which the FCC used as standards as to whether a write-in candidate qualified as a bona fide candidate.  Finally, after months of carrying Miller’s advertisements, the FCC’s Media Bureau issued an informal ruling that “on the facts and pleadings submitted by all parties, including Mr. Miller, it would not be unreasonable for Missouri broadcasting stations to determine that Miller is not a bona fide write-in candidate and therefore, Missouri broadcasters may deny him access to their stations.”  Immediately thereafter the advertisements were dropped and little was heard from Glenn Miller by a national audience.  That is until Sunday.

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Steven J.J. Weisman, a practicing attorney, is a senior partner in the talent management firm Harrison Strategies, LLC.  He is also legal editor for TALKERS magazine and publisher of the websitewww.scamicide.com. He can be e-mailed at: stevenjjweisman@aol.com.  Steven J.J. Weisman is available as a guest to discuss the subjects of identity theft and scams.

Do You Have a Non-Competition Clause in Your Contract?

| September 3, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS 
Legal Editor

 

weismanwriterBOSTON — It is nothing new for some business people to have a dim view of competition.  The legendary John D. Rockefeller, founder of the oil company monopoly, Standard Oil said “Competition is a sin.”  The federal government disagreed and Standard Oil was broken up under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1911 following a landmark Supreme Court decision.

When it comes to radio talk show hosts, being able to compete by leaving one employer and going to another employer is often viewed by radio station owners in a fashion similar to Rockefeller’s.  To them, competition by former employees, if not sinful, should at least be considered a breach of contract.  It is not unusual for a talk radio host’s contract to include a provision that limits the right of the host to work for someone else.  This contract provision is commonly called a non-competition clause.  Often such clauses are used to limit the right of a talk radio host from going to work for a competitor in the same city or geographical area.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

| September 3, 2013

armstrongcarriganBoston TV Anchor Kim Carrigan Joins Barry Armstrong on WRKO Program.  “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong” announces the addition of longtime Boston television anchor Kim Carrigan to the program.  Carrigan – who has worked at Boston TV outlets WHDH, WBZ/WSBK and WXFT – becomes co-host of the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon daily program on Entercom‘s news/talk WRKO effective today (9/3).  Armstrong says of Carrigan, “Kim is a tremendous addition to our program.  She brings intellect, a historical perspective, and a woman’s point of view to topics that require constant attention and interpretation.”  Carrigan, an Emmy award-winning television news anchor, has been recognized with numerous other awards, including: an Edward R. Murrow Award for “Best Newscast in a Major Market,” a Quest Award as one of five outstanding women who have achieved success in their quest for excellence from the New England Women Business Owners Association, and a Gabrielle Award.  She was also honored with the President’s Award from the Northeast Arc, the organization’s highest honor, for her work on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

wqxilogoLincoln Financial Media’s WQXI, Atlanta Names Alge Crumpler and JP Peterson AM Hosts.  Lincoln Financial Media announces the permanent replacement for the “Mayhem in the AM” morning show (Steak Shapiro, Chris Dimino, Nick Cellini) fired in late June after joking about ALS-stricken ex-NFLer crumpleralgeSteve Gleason.  Former Atlanta Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler and media pro JP Peterson will host “The Locker Room” beginning September 5.  “790 The Zone” program director Bob Richards says, “We are excited to launch ‘Locker petersonjpRoom.’   The years of insight and experience Alge and JP bring to the table, coupled with a revamped program format, will help set the tone each morning for how listeners digest the world of sports and set the pace for how topics resonate throughout the day.”  Crumpler has served as an analyst for “790 The Zone” and a co-host for Falcons game-day programs on WGCL-TV and WAGA-TV.  Peterson comes to “790 the Zone” from Tampa, where he spent the past 16 years in sports radio and TV.  Peterson anchored and did sideline work for WFLA-TV’s pre-season Bucs coverage and pre-game shows.  He has also done field reporting for NBC’s “Football Night in America” and hosted the Rays’ “Inside Pitch” and “Extra Innings” radio shows.

cumulus logoDickey: The Network Industry Is an Attractive Vehicle.  Cumulus Media chairman and CEO Lew Dickey tells investors during a conference call this morning that his company sees network radio as an “attractive vehicle” and that “scale is essential for Cumulus to continue to facilitate growth to make the proper investments,” in explaining the deal’s announced last Friday – the company’s acquisition of Dial Global and its shedding of a pack of small- and medium-market stations to Townsquare Media.  The deal alsodickeylew gives Cumulus five stations in Fresno – market #68 – fitting in with the company’s desire to focus on the top 100 markets.  Dickey reiterated last week’s statement about money saved in synergies, “We’re acquiring a leading provider of premium and exclusive content, and it creates an attractive platform for us now for both content creation and distribution and monetization of these various assets.  It’s about $40 million of estimated cost synergies and substantial incremental revenue growth opportunities, which are not being factored in here on the pro forma. It’s deleveraging on the identified cost synergies alone.”  As Dickey explained how the new properties will become part of the larger company, he noted that sports programming – especially the NFL and NCAA play-by-play contracts which have at least several more years on them – were key to the deal and it’s obvious he expects to pull in a lot of revenue from those two properties.  As for how many positions will be eliminated in the above-mentioned “synergies,” Dickey noted it’s not like the Citadel acquisition which was basically 54 “separate” operations.  “This is really one business unit that does essentially the same thing as the business unit that we currently own and operate.  So there are awful a lot of opportunities to — for efficiencies and to combine these efforts and do so in such a way that it’s accretive to growth the same time.”  Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript.  Members can read the entire conference call here.

ktth10yrsKTTH, Seattle Celebrates 10 Years as Conservative Talk Outlet.  Bonneville’s KTTH, Seattle is spending the day thanking its passionate, engaged conservative listeners by airing “Ten Years Strong,” a celebration of it 10-year anniversary, beginning September 3, 2013.  The station states that David Boze, Michael Medved, Sean Hannity and other KTTH personalities will spotlight their favorite political leaders, movies and conservative moments of the past 10 years. They’ll also reflect on the role of conservative talk radio in a blue state.  Program director Jason Antebi says, “AM 770 KTTH is going 10 years strong because the best talk show hosts in America present values-driven conservative thought in a distinctly civil and intelligent way.  We are so proud to be the exclusive Seattle home to David Boze, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Sean Hannity, Dave Ramsey and Clyde Lewis.  Here’s to another 10 years!”  Bonneville Seattle VP/GM Carl Gardner adds, “KTTH serves a listening audience which is remarkably committed.  They care deeply about preserving the best of our traditional American values and ways of life. The passion of the listeners is what enables KTTH to be so successful.”

hayworthjdJ.D. Hayworth Exits AM Show at ‘Mighty 1090 AM’ in San Diego.  Former U.S. congressman and talk show host J.D. Hayworth exits the morning drive show at Broadcast Company of the Americas’ sports talk XEPRS, San Diego “Mighty 1090 AM” where he was co-hosting with Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton.  Hamilton remains in mornings with a rotating cast of guests.  Hayworth joined the station earlier this year.  Prior to his foray into full-time sports talk radio, he’d been a news/talk host in Phoenix and had been doing fill-in work at local news/talk stations and on nationally syndicated programs.

weismanstevenDo You Have a Non-Compete Clause?  Depending on what company your work for, in what capacity you serve and in which state you work, a non-competition clause in your contract can greatly affect your ability to move from one employer to the next within a given period of time.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman spells out the basics of what you should know before you sign a contract.  In some situations there may not be anything you can do about it, but at the very least, you should understand exactly what a non-competition clause means to you in that position with that employer.  Read Weisman’s illuminating column here.

lindsleymikeMike Lindsley and Brian Cady Leave Townsquare Media’s Sports Talk WTMM, Albany.  Management at Townsquare Media’s sports talker WTMM, Albany “ESPN 104.5 The Team” is not saying there was a connection between the dismissal of afternoon hosts Mike Lindsley and Brian Cady and their being snookered by a caller pretending to be former New York Yankees outfielder Shane Spencer who said he had experimented with performance enhancing drugs, but the two are out and a new afternoon show is expected to be announced within the next two weeks, according to a report in the Albany Times Union.  Lindsley had an interview lined up with Spencer and was promoting it but it didn’t happen at the exact time it was supposed to.  Pretty soon the imposter called and Lindsley assumed it was the real Shane Spencer.  After it was determined what happened, all parties apologized.  Regardless, new brand manager Armen Williams debuted on the air on Friday, August 30 – a bit prior to his scheduled September 9 start.

costadinoDino Costa Moves to New SiriusXM Channel.  As reported in the New York Daily News, sports talk host Dino Costa leaves the Mad Dog Radio channel on SiriusXM and will be part of a new sports talk channel on the satellite radio service, reportedly called “SiriusXM Radio Sports Zone 92.”  Costa had been the evening host on the Chris Russo-curated Mad Dog Radio channel.  The Daily News reports the relationship between Russo and Costa may not be as friendly as it once was, possibly leading to the split, although Costa Tweeted his thanks to Russo and his crew for the opportunity to work together.

bergmansandiMEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: Dick Kozacko of Kozacko Media Services.  In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media broker Dick Kozacko of Kozacko Media Services located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Unlike most of the brokers spotlighted in this popular feature, Kozacko’s background is not directly in broadcasting but rather acquisition management and market research for companies.  He is a graduate of Boston College with an MBA and his experience and education in these areas of business serve him well in today’s station-trading environment.  Kozacko takes a realistic view of the current conditions in the radio deal marketplace stating, “It’s challenging, especially since there are now so many alternatives to radio broadcasting.  If you were driving on a trip, your car radio was your companion.  Then, came eight-tracks, cassettes, and the list goes on with satellite radio, internet, etc.  Buyers have to be creative and think about the future, which is fine.  It would help if more banks returned to the financing area, although we have found more station owners are receptive to ‘terms’ financing.  It would help if the economy could demonstrate stronger and continued growth.” Per the custom of this feature, our spotlighted broker offers several opportunities for displaced station managers and first-time entrants looking to roll up their sleeves and take on an ownership project.  To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, please click here.

fisherhouselogoDave Ross to Host New Production of Fisher House Foundation’s “The Gift.”  Fisher House Foundation announces it has begun production on the 2013 edition of its award-winning holiday radio program, “The Gift,” which tells the inspiring stories of wounded warriors and veterans who, with the help of their loved ones, have overcome tremendous obstacles to reclaim their lives.  The program, which is available to radio stations to air at both Thanksgiving and Christmas, consists of three self-contained hours of content.  Among those profiled inrossdave “The Gift” are Sergeant Cory Remsburg, an Army Ranger whose successful battle to recover from a serious head wound has made him an inspiration to President Obama; Father Tim Vakoc, a chaplain who was fatally wounded while tending his flock on the front lines of Iraq; and Para-Olympian Brad Snyder, a Navy Lieutenant who was blinded by an IED and used swimming to rebuild his physical and mental strength.  KIRO, Seattle personality Dave Ross hosts this year’s edition of the program.  Stations that air the program will help raise awareness and funds for the non-profit Fisher House, which provides no-cost housing and other support to the families of wounded warriors and veterans while their loved ones recover at military and VA hospitals. The 2012 edition of “The Gift” was carried on 135 news/talk stations and Sirius/XM and helped drive an increase in donations to Fisher House during the final week of 2012.  “Despite the wind down in Afghanistan, our fighting men and women, and their families, continue to make tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedom and security,” says Fisher House President Dave Coker. “While we should keep them in our hearts every day, it’s especially appropriate to honor their gift of service during the holidays.”  Cumulus Media Networks is handling affiliation and distribution on a pro bono basis.  For more information or to sign up for The Gift, contact Ron Rivlin.

stuchellcharlieCondolences.  TALKERS sends condolences to the family and friends of a number of broadcasters who’ve recently passed away: Capital Cities executive Joe Somerset who died in Boston due to complications suffered after a fall at his home several days prior.  Somerset was a mentor to many in the radio business, especially during the “Golden Age” of top 40 radio.  One of his “students” was longtime Cap Cities executive and station owner Curt Hahn who writes about his mentor in a piece you can read here…..Longtime newsman Charlie Stuchell who passed away at age 64 after a battle with cancer.  He was a news and traffic reporter on Bristol Broadcasting’s WXBQ, Bristol, Virginia…..KSCO, Santa Cruz reporter and anchor Don Husing who died on August 29 at age 71.  Station owner Michael Zwerling tells the Santa Cruz Sentinel that Husing had worked for KSCO for 47 years, surviving three ownership changes.  KSCO personality Rosemary Chalmers tells the paper Husing, who had no surviving family, was diabetic and had complained of flu-like symptoms prior to his death.

millerkennelbobKevin in the Kennel.  If you look closely, you can see that KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller (l) is broadcasting from a makeshift kennel to raise awareness and funds to support the Canyon County Animal Shelter.  With him is animal lover Bob Holman (r).  Miller invited his listeners to spend some time with him inside the kennel and, as a result, raised more than $11,000 in one day as the shelter takes part in the “Rachael Ray $100,000 Challenge.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

| May 28, 2013

burnsgenePioneering Talk Radio Host Gene Burns Dead at 72.  Longtime talk radio host and broadcasting pioneer Gene Burns has died, succumbing to a long illness marked by a series of strokes.  In the words of TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison, “Gene was one of the greatest of the great and classiest of the classy – a true ‘wordsmith’ and gentleman who symbolized everything good about talk radio and served as one of the major engines that drove the ascent of its modern era.”  Until recently forced by illness into retirement from on-air performing, Burns had spent a decade and a half as a key host on KGO, San Francisco where he did a general news/talk program as well as a very popular restaurant and entertainment show.  The veteran of a number of great stations, he made his mark in the late-1980s and early-1990s as a member of the legendary lineup at WRKO, Boston that also included the late Jerry Williams. That was followed by a brief but high-profile stint at WOR, New York and national syndication on the WOR Radio Network.  Harrison adds, “Gene Burns practiced a brand of libertarian-based, intellectual populism in his approach to political news/talk that set the standard for the format’s emergence as a voice for the average person to stand up to big government, big business, big media and big anything.  Although ‘conservative’ in his orientation, he eschewed blatant partisanship, avoided banal cookie-cutter left-versus-right talking points and dealt with each issue in an academically probing and credible manner.”  Burns’ ground breaking work in the early-1990s stood as the inspiration for TALKERS magazine’s annual Freedom of Speech Award and the tradition of the annual State of the First Amendment Address delivered at the publication’s conventions. He is ranked the 23rd most important radio talk show host of all time by TALKERS in its “Heaviest Hundred” feature which is updated twice a decade.  Harrison concludes, “His rich, baritone voice coupled with the artistry of his word selection and ability to construct a logical argument was about as close to music as one could hear within a spoken word context.”  A special honoring the life and work of Gene Burns aired on Sunday, May 26 on KGO hosted by David Weintraub and a special tribute will be presented honoring his legacy at Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6.

millerchrisAdult Contemporary is a Relatively Low-Involvement Format on Facebook.  According to digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, “There are several major-market adult contemporary stations on Facebook who have a ton of followers, but very little interaction going on.  As a former AC programmer, I absolutely feel their pain; AC is a low-involvement format.  At the same time, most of these stations have fallen into a rut about what they post.  The quality of the post is in the level of engagement you get from it.  When thousands or tens of thousands follow you, and you get two or three ‘Likes’ on your posts, you gotta shake up your thinking.”  In a new column posted today (5/28) Miller suggests that although consistency is basically a good and necessary thing, there is a dark side to it and to avoid falling into a rut, radio broadcasters of all formats should make changes to approximately 10% of their posts on a regular basis.  To read the details and Miller’s entire piece, click here.

sterlingkentKent Sterling Returns to Indy on Sports Talk WFNI.  News/talk and sports radio pro Kent Sterling re-surfaces on the air at Emmis’ sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis for a weekend program with Chris Hagan called, “Ahead of the Curve with Hagan and Sterling.”  He most recently served with Bonneville at its St. Louis sports talker WXOS but exited that post to return to Indianapolis.  Prior to his work at WXOS, Sterling served as program director at Emmis’ news/talk flagship WIBC-FM, Indianapolis.  Sterling’s and Hagan’s weekend program airs from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays.

nba logoNBA on Radio Is a Different Breed of Sports Play-by-Play.  Major League Baseball is the sport that could be called radio’s best friend and the NFL’s astounding popularity makes its games and surrounding programming popular with listeners.  While the NBA’s regular season games are not generally thought of as “programming gold” across the country, it appears that having even a moderately successful team combined with a flagship station with a strong nighttime signal, can be a recipe for success with basketball play-by-play.  According to information from Arbitron based on PPM data from 27 NBA teams in 25 PPM markets, certain places are simply basketball towns – the Los Angeles Lakers rule Los Angeles on KSPN with average game estimates larger than the Dodgers, Angels, Kings and Ducks grabbing a 4.0 share with Men 25-54 (average of all 82 games).  And perennial contenders the San Antonio Spurs dominated on WOAI with a 9.8 share with Men 25-54.  However, less successful teams on strong flagships performed well during the regular season:  the Milwaukee Bucks just squeaked into the playoffs but on heritage WTMJ garnered a 10 share with Men 25-54; the Cleveland Cavaliers missed the playoffs yet grabbed a 9.7 share (M 25-54) on WTAM; and the Detroit Pistons also missed the playoffs but notched an 8.0 (M 25-54) share on the highly rated WXYT-FM.  Considering games in the East and Midwest air in the evenings, numbers for the stations cited above – and others not cited here – are impressive nighttime ratings.

pendlchrisFlagship Stations Should Capitalize on Cross-Promotional Opportunities within Baseball PBP.  According to Bonneville Seattle creative director Chris Pendl, “If you’ve made the investment on play-by-play sports on your station, it’s important to maximize the return on your investment by trying to recycle that audience to another daypart on your station.”  Arbitron reports that MLB drives cume increases as much as 50% to 65% during baseball season.  Pendl tells TALKERS, “This influx of audience is one of the reasons we pay rights fees, share revenue, or give up inventory to carry this programming.  In a climate with little or no external marketing dollars, I’ve often joked that our promotional time within baseball play-by-play is the closest thing we’ll get to an interstate billboard or TV campaign.”  In an exclusive article posted today (5/28) Pendl describes and shares a production/promo technique conducted by Bonneville to cross-promote the station via the baseball audience that he calls “situation baseball return liners.”  To read the entire piece and hear examples of its execution, click here.

kyzz logoBuckley to Sell KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters.  Buckley Communications announces it is selling sports talk KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters.  The price is yet to be announced.  KYZZ is the FM side of the sports talk simulcast that also airs on Buckley’s KIDD, Monterey and Buckley says it will continue with its ESPN Radio affiliation on KIDD.  Mt. Wilson has not announced its format plans for KYZZ.  Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson also owns country KKGO, Los Angeles and classical simulcast KMZT-AM, Beverly Hills and KMZT-FM, Big Sur, California.

weismanstevenWTOP Hacking: Why You Should Worry.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes about the recent hacking of the websites of Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED “Federal News Radio.”  Weisman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on scams, he operates the website Scamicide that presents up-to-date information about scams, fraud and identity theft, and is the author of The Truth About Avoiding Scams (FT Press 2008).  In this column, Weisman explains the methods used by the WTOP hackers and explains the steps users can take to avoid becoming the victim of similar attacks.  Read Weisman’s entire piece here.

Odds & Sods.  Martz Communications’ WPDM, Potsdam, New York flips from a simulcast of FM sister WSNN to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network…..Wilks License Company’s sports talk WZOH, Columbus becomes part of the Cleveland Browns radio network based at CBS Radio’s WKRK, Cleveland…..WTOP, Washington crowns Nathan Stanford from Harrington, Delaware the 2013 winner of “Commuter Idle” – an “extreme commuter” competition for listeners experiencing the daily horrors of commuting in and around Washington.  Stanford’s commute begins with a 3:00 am alarm and a one-hour drive.  He then boards a commuter bus for a 90-minute ride from Kent Island to Foggy Bottom, rides the Metro, and hustles on foot to his office in Rosslyn.  Stanford’s travels from Delaware to Virginia average more than five hours a day, though the commute can be much longer in the summer months with Friday beach traffic.  He receives $1,000 in gas money and will enjoy a limo ride to and from work from Reston Limousine.  WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “The question that we hear most often is, ‘Why do these people do it?’  It’s fascinating to hear their personal stories and accompany them on their crazy commutes.  We feel their pain, and as DC’s traffic authority we’re here to help.”

koilmulberryKOIL, Omaha’s Mulberry Lane Meets the Beach Boys and John Stamos.  Musical act Mulberry Lane opened for the Beach Boys (which includes actor and musician John Stamos) in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday, May 25.  Pictured here are (from l-r): Bo Mulberry, Bruce Johnston, Rachel Mulberry, Mike Love, Allie Mulberry, and John Stamos.  The Mulberry sisters – based in Nebraska – also host a weekend talk show on NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha called the “Mulberry Lane Radio Show.”  The station describes the ladies’ program saying the sisters “decided to bring their busy lives to live radio with a show based on sisterhood, womanhood, motherhood, and the humor and mishaps of trying to juggle it all – woven together with music, harmony and a dash of wit.”  It airs Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.

Longtime KNX, Los Angeles Anchor Harry Birrell Dies.  Longtime Los Angeles news personality Harry Birrell died on May 26 after a battle with lung disease at age 85 in Thousand Oaks, California.  Birrell was an anchor at all-news KNX, Los Angeles for more than three decades – beginning in 1968 when the station flipped to the all-news format and ending with his retirement in 1999.  Birrell switched from his anchor role at the station to Ventura County correspondent in 1993.

millerbeckKevin Miller Stops By TheBlaze.  KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller was visiting Dallas – home of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze – and took some time to stop by the studios to check out the production of the Glenn Beck program.  Here’s a shot of Beck (l) and Miller (r) inside the spacious former movie/TV studios that are home to Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts production facility.

WTOP Hacking – Why You Should Worry

| May 28, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

weismanBOSTON — As reported in Talkers earlier in May, Washington D.C. radio stations WTOP and Federal News Radio had their websites hacked resulting in the possible infection of anyone who accessed the two websites using the popular Internet Explorer web browser prior to the discovery and correction of the problem.

The hacking of these two websites is particularly insidious because unlike infections that occur when a computer user is lured to a phony infected website set up for the specific purpose of infecting unwary computer users — a technique called “phishing” — in this case, the computer users were infected when they went to legitimate websites that they believed were trustworthy.

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Radio Station Sued for Infringing Rights of Man with Down Syndrome – What It Means to You

| May 6, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

Among the hats I wear in addition to that of legal editor of Talkers magazine is the mortar board of a professor at Bentley University where one of the courses I teach is Media Law.  The recently filed lawsuit by the parents of Adam Holland, a man with Down Syndrome has enough media law issues to fill an entire semester.  These issues are also important to you as broadcasters, station owners and managers.

The lawsuit which was filed in federal court in Tennessee on April 22nd, contains counts for invasion of privacy, misappropriation of a likeness, defamation, intentional infliction of emotion distress and violation of a Tennessee statute regarding commercial exploitation of a person’s photograph, however I will deal only with the allegations most appropriate to broadcasters.

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A Serious Loss for Howard Stern

| April 15, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

sternhowardBOSTON — Sometimes it is, as Mel Brooks commented in his movie “The History of the World, Part One,” good to be the king.  But other times it is not.  Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed (and not too far off) “King of All Media” took a hit last week when the dismissal of his lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio, Inc. in which he sought more than $300 million in stock awards was upheld by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

| April 15, 2013

sheppardpeteWeekend Talk Host Pete Sheppard Quits During WEEI, Boston Saturday Program.  Telling listeners that he’s no longer happy working for the company, WEEI, Boston weekend talk host Pete Sheppard abruptly quit on-air during his Saturday evening show.  Sheppard, who was a long-time fixture on the former Glenn Ordway-hosted PM drive “Big Show” and was fired from that post due to budget cuts in 2010, was hired back for part-time duties about a year ago.  Sheppard even went so far as to tease his on-air exit by Tweeting that he had something special coming up.  He also specified that his problem was with Entercom management and not program director Jason Wolfe.

sternhowardLegal Analysis and Brief Historical Background of “Stern Versus Sirius” Suit.  Sometimes it is, as Mel Brooks commented in his movie “The History of the World, Part One,” good to be the king.  But other times it is not.  Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” took a hit last week when the dismissal of his lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio, Inc. in which he sought more than $300 million in stock awards was upheld by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.  In order to understand Stern’s lawsuit, which he filed in 2011, it is important to review the history of Stern’s relationship with Sirius.  In an illuminating article posted today (4/15) TALKERS legal editor Steve Weisman explains both the background and legal tenets of this important, high-profile (and big bucks) radio industry case.  To read it, click here.

oneildannyBonneville’s KIRO-AM, Seattle Names Danny O’Neil Late Morning Co-Host.  Bonneville’s “710 ESPN Seattle” names market sports journalist Danny O’Neil co-host of the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program alongside Brock Huard.  O’Neil replaces Mike Salk who moved to WEEI, Boston earlier this month.  The “Brock & Danny Show” debuts today.  The station states that in addition to his on-air duties, O’Neil will write a daily Seattle-focused sports column/blog on 710Sports.com.  During the NFL season, O’Neil will cover the Seattle Seahawks to provide fans with an inside perspective on the team.  O’Neil did three stints with the Seattle Times (1996-97; 1999-2002; 2006-2013) and also wrote for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 2002-2006.  KIRO-AM vice president and general manager Dave Pridemore states, “We are extremely excited about teaming up Danny O’Neil with Brock Huard on 710 ESPN Seattle.  I’m sure our listeners will appreciate the combination of an athlete’s insight and analysis with a journalist’s curiosity and straight forward perspective.”  Program director Brian Long says, “Brock and Danny have a natural chemistry and genuine likability that will make for a smart entertaining listen for the Seattle sports fan.”

millerchrisEncouragement and Advice for Lonely Digital “True Believers” at Radio Stations.  Noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller says, “True Believers are the radio folks I talk to who just know deep in their heart of hearts that the brilliant use of our digital tools could help radio be the best it could possibly be.  When I talk with them, they often just see so clearly how to fit all our different platforms together and how to use them.  Most of them seem to feel a level of frustration, too.  I suspect that’s because they are often the one person at work who is both knowledgeable and passionate about the potential of these tools.”  If you think that describes you, in an article posted to today in TALKERS, Miller serves up several good ideas on how to lessen your frustration level as well as help position you as the radio/digital expert in your workplace and help accomplish your goals.  He suggests starting small, pressing for constant improvement and creating an industry-wide community of like-minded broadcasters.  To read Chris Miller’s entire piece, click here.

beckglennGlenn Beck Named Recipient of 2013 Freedom of Speech Award.  The editorial board of TALKERS magazine has named Premiere Networks syndicated radio host, CEO/founder of Mercury Radio Arts, and founder of TheBlazeGlenn Beck the recipient of the 2013 Freedom of Speech Award.  The award is one of the most prestigious honors presented annually in the talk media industry.  The award is presented to an individual in the talk media industry who courageously demonstrates the First Amendment in action, productively promotes its vitality, and inspires increased public awareness of its tenets.  It has an extremely colorful history, sparking heated controversial battles on some occasions, and accruing a roster of outspoken, dynamic recipients as diverse as the medium itself.  Past honorees include Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Michael Savage, Bob Grant, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Al Franken, Juan Williams, Joe Madison, Matt Drudge, Norm Pattiz, Brian Lamb, Jim Farley and more. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “This is a tough award to present – especially when the recipient is a politically controversial figure — because people who view the world through the lens of partisan politics immediately see the award as an endorsement of the position expressed by the recipient, as opposed to its deeper, principled meaning.  The only political position held and espoused by TALKERS magazine is our devotion to the tenets of the First Amendment.  Otherwise we are about as non-partisan as you can get.”  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison adds, “This year’s recipient deserves the award for several reasons: First, he has shown enormous courage and creativity in expressing extremely controversial views on both talk radio and cable television; second, he stood up to the powers-that-be at his biggest single platform and dared to risk (and eventually lost) his lucrative job in the process; three, he demonstrates the vital role of showmanship and entertainment in artfully executing his craft within the commercial marketplace while still getting his points across (which is what this business is ultimately about); and four, he has intelligently designed a model of independent broadcasting through his pioneering development of an entrepreneurial ‘media station’ that serves to inspire others, create jobs and pave the way for the next generation of talk show hosts to carve their meaningful niches in the new 21st Century digital reality.”  The 2013 Freedom of Speech Award will be presented to Glenn Beck at Talkers New York 2013.  To see the entire up to the minute agenda, click here.

whi logoSalem Communications Re-Brands WHK, Cleveland “The Answer.”  Following the trend in branding taken by its news/talk stations in New York, Los Angeles, Riverside, Dallas, Houston, Columbus, and Chicago, Salem Communications announced WHK, Cleveland becomes “AM 1420 The Answer.”  Salem VP director of spoken word format Phil Boyce says, “As our listeners are preparing to write Uncle Sam that fat check, I can’t think of a better day to give Cleveland ‘The Answer’ to why their taxes are so high.  We have the answer for little things like ‘why am I stuck in traffic’ to bigger things like what can conservatives do to win back the White House.”  The on-air lineup, consisting of Salem Radio Network programs, remains the same.  The station adds morning news anchor Jim McIntyre, “one of the most trusted news voices in Greater Cleveland,” as part of its local news, traffic and weather team.  The station is adding a new late night program dubbed, “The 11th Hour,” hosted by McIntyre and Cleveland talk host Tom Kelly that will air at 11:00 pm.  The station says the show “will focus on both local and statewide stories that affect the WHK audience, with news updates and interviews of the day’s newsmakers and journalists.”  Station general manager Mark Jaycox states, “These are very exciting times at Salem Communications of Northeast Ohio.  To be able to take a station like WHK – one rich in Cleveland heritage and Ohio tradition and celebrating its 91st birthday this year – and make it even more relevant and current, while maintaining that strong identity, we are confident our WHK listeners will be pleased with this change.”

mid-westfamilybroadcasting logoMid-West Family Broadcasting Acquires Wisconsin and Illinois Stations from Maverick for $15.5 Million.  Just days after Connecticut-based Maverick Media announced the sale of its Santa Rosa, California stations to Lawrence Amaturo-led Sonoma Media Group, we learn that Mid-West Family Broadcasting is buying Maverick’s Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Rockford Illinois clusters.  The stations in the Rockford market are: adult hits WRTB “Bob FM 95.3,” AC WGFB “B103 FM,” rock WXRX, and comedy WNTA-AM/FM “Funny 1330.”  In Eau Claire, the stations are: news/talk WAYY, sports talk WEAU “ESPN 1150,” classic rock WECL “92.9 The Big Cheese,” AC WIAL, “I-94,” adult hits WDRK “Bob FM 99.9,” and country WAXX.  In a statement, Mid-West Family Broadcasting president Tom Walker says, “We have wanted to grow our company for some time and want to bring the ideals of locally owned radio back to these two cities.  The stations in both Eau Claire and Rockford will continue serving their local markets with the quality programming Mid-West Family brings to all its stations.”

mcconnellmiltMilt McConnell Joins Alpha Broadcasting’s Portland Cluster as SVP and GM.  Former Cumulus Albuquerque market manager Milt McConnell is named the senior vice president and general manager at Alpha Broadcasting’s Portland, Oregon cluster.  McConnell was part of a recent exodus of staffers from the Albuquerque operations that included longtime KKOB talk host Jim Villanucci.  On his new post in Portland overseeing properties including hot AC KBFF “Live 95.5,” triple A KINK, country KUPL “98.7 The Bull,” sports KXTG-AM “750 The Game,” news/talk KXL “FM News 101,” and talk KUFO “Freedom 970,” McConnell says, “I am just thrilled to get back to live and locally owned radio.  What Larry Wilson and Bob Proffitt have crafted with these premier brands at Alpha/Portland is incredible and I am excited about growing our influence in this dynamic city.  The Alpha culture is very reminiscent of the boom years when we were growing Citadel.  The cherry on top is that I get to work with formats that I have experience with and am extremely passionate about.”

smerconishmichaelOdds & Sods.  CBS Radio’s WPHT, Philadelphia debuts its new PM drive program hosted by Dick Morris.  The show is airing from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm…..Meanwhile, longtime WPHT personality Michael Smerconish makes his move to SiriusXM Satellite Radio today.  The program airs on the POTUS channel from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET….Speaking of SiriusXM, the satcaster began a six-week run of a special program hosted by Breitbart News Network chairman Stephen K. Bannon called “Breitbart News Sunday with Stephen K. Bannon” last night at 7:00 pm ET on its conservative talk SiriusXM Patriot channel.  The three-hour call-in show is said to feature commentary and analysis on the stories and narratives that will drive the upcoming week’s news cycle from the editors and contributors of the Breitbart News Network.

miklaszbernieBernie Miklasz to Appear on WXOS, St. Louis Daily.  When WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN” midday talk host Bernie Miklasz announced he’d be leaving his daily program on the Hubbard Broadcasting sports talker to focus on his work with the St. Louis Dispatch, the station said it hoped to still have him contributing on a regular basis.  Now, it’s announced that Miklasz will be a regular guest and will be featured at the following times: Monday afternoons at 4:30 on “The Fast Lane,” Tuesday mornings at 9:30 with “Zach and Rammer,” Wednesday evenings at 5:30 on “The Fast Lane,” Thursday mornings 10:30 with “Zach and Rammer,” and Friday afternoons at 12:30 on the new midday program.  Program director Chris “Hoss” Neupert states, “We are thrilled that Bernie Miklasz will still be a part of the ‘101ESPN’ team.  His experienced analysis regarding the local St. Louis and national sports scene is immeasurable, and our listeners really value his comments and opinions.”

barberrickLongtime Denver Talk Host Rick Barber Facing ALS Battle.  Rick Barber was a talk show host on KOA, Denver for more than 30 years.  He exited the station in January of 2012 and was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – several months ago.  Now, former fellow Denver talk host Peter Boyles is helping alert the industry to Barber’s situation and providing information where people can make donations.  Find that on Boyles’ KHOW, Denver page here.

greatermediagoodguysGreater Media’s Peter Smyth Honored by Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.  Greater Media chairman and CEO Peter Smyth is pictured here at the 12th Annual Good Guys Awards on Thursday, April 11 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston.  The awards event was produced by the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus which honored Smyth for his continued support of women and families in Massachusetts.  Smyth is an active philanthropist working with many organizations that advocate for women and families including the United Way of Massachusetts, the New England Baptist Hospital and Emerson College. In addition, he is a supporter of GRLZ Radio, a radio station giving young women a voice in their community.  MWPC executive director Priti Rao states, “We were very excited to honor Peter Smyth as one of our Good Guys.  His dedicated advocacy to advance women serves as a role model to our community. His support of programs and initiatives that improve the welfare and safety of women and families has been indispensable.”  Pictured here are (from l-r): Greater Media VP of corporate communication Heidi Raphael, “HOT 96.9” morning show co-host Pebbles, Greater Media Boston market manager Rob Williams, Smyth, “Hot 96.9” APD and digital media brand manager Jill Strada, WROR general sales manager Matt DiRoberto and Greater Media VP of program development Buzz Knight.

Monday, April 8, 2013

| April 8, 2013

weismanstevenANALYSIS: The FCC’s Curious Approach to Indecency.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that it “seemed particularly fitting” that the FCC chose April Fools’ Day to announce it was cleaning out its backlog of broadcast indecency complaints by more than 1 million filings.  How did they deal with that many complaints in six months.  Easy, says Weisman, “These cases were summarily dismissed for various reasons, such as being beyond the FCC’s five-year statute of limitations, involved cases outside of the FCC’s jurisdiction, contained insufficient information or were not actionable due to previous established precedents.  Cases were also dismissed for being, in the FCC’s words ‘too stale to pursue’ althoughfccnew there is no FCC definition of staleness.”  Weisman also notes that the Commission reassures the public it is “actively investigating” what it referred to as “egregious indecency complaints” and will continue to do so.  “What actually makes a case ‘egregious’ is not very clear because there is no definition of ‘egregious’ in the FCC regulations where it seems filth is in the eye of the beholder.  Apparently egregious violations of the indecency rules is the FCC’s new standard for action.”  Sharpen your pencils because the FCC is asking for your thoughts on its indecency policy.  You have until May 1 to get those ideas to Washington.  But before you do, read Steven J.J. Weisman’s complete analysis of the FCC’s recent indecency odyssey here.

drWTNT, Washington Is New Home for the Dr. K Show.  “The Dr. K Show,” hosted by Dr. Kevin Wallis, makes its new home at Metro Radio’s WTNT, Washington, DC  during the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot.  Wallis describes the program as “a Libertarian talk/comedy show discussing topics from politics to world affairs and everything in between with a no nonsense, comedic view on the world. ‘The Dr. K Show’ gives you the ‘truth’ about any topic without the party lines getting in the way.”  Dr. Wallis began his broadcasting career at WGGB, Long Island, received his bachelor’s degree in human anthropology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and his master’s in public health at New York Medical College.  He also graduated from Touro University International with his PhD in Health Research and Education.  Co-host Bryan Berner is a stand-up comedian and radio talk show host.  Producer Joe Greene has produced some of the biggest shows in N.Y. radio and is a radio talk show co-host.  The program features contributors: chief political commentator Carl Jeffers, chief legal analyst Ron Kuby, chief financial analyst Stephen Moore and religious adviser Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.  The program is also heard on WVNJ, Oakland, New Jersey.

haigbillWTMJ, Milwaukee Legend Bill Haig Passes Away.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that longtime WTMJ, Milwaukee and Milwaukee Brewers executive Bill Haig had been ill for some time and died on Saturday while in hospice at the age of 78.  Haig began his radio career in ad sales at WFOX, Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1954.  He eventually rose to the general manager position at WTMJ and it was under his watch that the station became the flagship for the Milwaukee Brewers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Green Bay Packers and the University of Wisconsin Badgers football.  In 1980 he became the Milwaukee Brewers’ vice president of broadcast, overseeing production, advertising sales and networking for the Brewers broadcast networks until his retirement.

knx logoOdds & Sods.  CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles presents the next remote broadcast in its “KNX On Your Corner” series as it broadcasts from the western region of the San Fernando Valley on Friday, April 26.  The in-depth look at communities including Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills and Westlake Village will explore the local history, economy and an array of unique stories, from the Kardashians to a playground made specifically for physically challenged children.  The day will include broadcasts emanating from Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village as Dick Helton and Vicky Moore will anchor the news from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, Frank Mottek hosts the “KNX Business Hour” from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm and Jim Thornton and Diane Thompson anchors the news from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm…..Entercom’s WRKO, Boston is producing a debate between two of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry.  PM drive host Howie Carr will be joined by Michael Sullivan and Gabriel Gomez during the live debate airing from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm today…..SiriusXM Radio is broadcasting live hole-by-hole coverage of the 2013 Masters Tournament from Thursday, April 11, through Sunday, April 14, on its PGA TOUR Radio channel.

bradleyknicksBill Bradley Hosts  Fellow ’72-’73 Knicks Teammates on SiriusXM.  Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley (second from right) poses for a photo with his teammates from the NBA championship New York Knicks of the 1972-1973 season.  The group came together in the New York studios of SiriusXM Satellite Radio for a taping of Bradley’s “American Voices” program and will be aired later this month.  Pictured here are (from l-r):  Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Phil Jackson, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Bradley, and Jerry Lucas.

Monday, February 18, 2013

| February 18, 2013

blazergraceGrace Blazer Lands at Clear Channel Miami.  Former WTKK, Boston program director Grace Blazer is the new PD at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk WIOD and sports WINZ, Miami.  She exited the Greater Media talk station when it flipped to rhythmic AC at the end of 2012.  Prior to WTKK, Blazer programmed WPHT, Philadelphia.  In a statement, Blazer says, “The depth of Clear Channel’s resources is phenomenal.  Working for our industry’s leading media company and programming WIOD and WINZ is a superb opportunity.  I’m excited to partner with Alex Tear, Lonny Anger and the talented staffs of ‘News Radio 610/100.3FM’ and 940’s ‘Sports Animal’ to grow these stations.”  The programming position at WIOD and WINZ opened up when Ken Charles moved up to the VP of programming position at Clear Channel’s Sacramento cluster.

cainhermanHermain Cain Joins Fox News Channel as Contributor.  Nationally syndicated talk show host Herman Cain becomes part of the Fox News Channel stable of contributors.  Cain, who took over the late morning slot long held by talk radio pioneer Neal Boortz at Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta and his national syndication distributed by Dial Global, will make regular appearances on FNC where EVP of programming Bill Shine says in a statement, “Cain’s impressive resume makes him a valuable addition to the Fox News and Fox Business lineup.  As a political expert with business savvy, he brings an important voice to the nation’s debates.”  In addition to his recent run for president, Cain also was CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza chain and held the CEO position at the National Restaurant Association.

wfan logoNY Post Reports CBS Radio New York Weighing WFAN-AM/FM Options.  The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick writes that the brass at CBS Radio in New York City is weighing its programming options for the sports talk tandem of WFAN-AM and FM as the company must be eager to get the fledgling CBS Sports Radio Network programming on in the largest market in the country.  Currently, the full schedule of WFAN programming is heard on both signals but the need to get the new national network some Big Apple exposure is pressing.  A statement from the company to the Post goes, “We have a number of great options and are closely examining each one.”  At issue is the fact that WFAN-AM’s 660 signal is huge and the 101.9 FM signal is decent but nowhere near as far-reaching as 660 AM.  Will the local sports talk remain on 660 AM and the national network appear on 101.9 FM?  Will it be the other way around or a mixture of the two?  As Mushnick hints, you can bet some of the WFAN stalwarts – including PM driver Mike Francesa and AM drive duo Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton – would like to stay on the huge 660 AM signal.  CBS Radio is expected to make a decision within the next few months.

DG-logoHorizontalDial Global to Cease SEC Reporting.  The company cites, among other things, “the relatively limited historical volume of trading in the Company’s common stock and the applicable federal securities laws” as one of the reasons it will suspend its reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Dial Global’s board of directors determined that such action would be in the best interests of the company.  It says, “In reaching this conclusion, the Company’s Board of Directors considered numerous factors including the compliance costs associated with filing periodic reports with the SEC and the diversion of management attention from other matters that result from being a reporting company.”  Dial Global left the NASDAQ and its stock is traded on OTC Pink.  It states, “There can be no assurance, however, that a trading market in the Company’s common stock through the over-the-counter market or any other market will be maintained.”

landaudavidDavid Landau Gets Nice Severance from Dial Global.  Technically it’s not a severance but regardless, former co-CEO of Dial Global David Landau will receive $600, 000 per annum for the next two years plus other unspecified benefits after the company decided to re-align its corporate management structure and make Spencer Brown sole CEO and former co-CEO Ken Williams president.

stpierreronWPRO, Providence Lets Ron St. Pierre Go.  In a move that appears to be about saving money, Ron St. Pierre exits his role as PM drive host Buddy Cianci’s sidekick/executive producer.  GoLocalProv.com reports that this is the latest in a series of moves at the Cumulus Media station that began with the ouster of Andrew Gobiel from the WPRO morning show and the re-assignment of Tara Granahan from the AM show to other news duties.  The station brought WJAR-TV anchor Gene Valicenti in to host the morning program.  St. Pierre has served at WPRO as program director – the first time in 1988 – as general manager, and as host of the station’s morning show.  Ron can be reached at ron.stpierre@cox.net.

millerchrisGood Writing Is at the Core of Digital Success.  Writing for the internet is a very different art form than writing for the radio.  Noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller says, “Good writing is at the heart of what we do online, and how we communicate with our fans.  Don’t just do it for the art of it; do it because it can help stretch your few thousand Facebook fans into tens of millions of annual impressions.  Do it because it will help get your tweets re-tweeted.  We’re talking about building your numbers here!”  Miller advises TALKERS readers to avoid three common mistakes in writing for the web: 1) over-selling; 2) being boring; and 3) social desperation.  Read his entire piece here.

raytomWINTER ADVICE:  Be Sure to Install Deicers on your Antenna.  It is not too late to do it or to be concerned.  The failure to properly install deicers on your antenna to save a few bucks in the short term can not only interfere with the quality of your signal, it can put you off the air entirely, not to mention cause severe costly damage to your components and even create a major fire hazard.  TALKERS technical editor and noted engineering consultant Tom Ray says, “While money is tight all over, the last thing you need is your transmitter and/or building to be a smoking hulk.  Consult with someone qualified to guide you.  Think of it like buying an insurance policy.  You may not want to spend the cash, but it could save you a bundle in the long run.  Read Tom Ray’s entire article here.

trumpdonaldTrump-Maher Suit “Stretches Credulity.”  TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that the $5 million suit Donald Trump is filing against Bill Maher has no chance of success, little chance of getting a day in court and could incur sanctions against Trump and his attorney for filing a frivolous lawsuit.  In case you missed it, Maher went on “The Tonight Show” in January and – based on the color of Trump’s hair – joked that he would donate $5 million to a charity of Trump’s choice if he would produce his birth certificate to show he is not the son of an orangutan.  Read more of Weisman’s account about why this spat is still going on and upon what legal ground the complaint stands (or doesn’t as the case may be).  It’s here.

johnsondanistudioXtreMEDIA Syndicated Host Dani Johnson Profiled in Forbes.  The host of the weekly XtreMEDIA-syndicated Dani Johnson program was profiled on Forbes.com on Thursday and, according to XtreMEDIA CEO Kevin McCullough, the story went viral “with 15,700 shares on Facebook in a little more than a day.  Heading into the weekend it was still the ‘Most Popular’ and ‘Most Read’ piece on Forbes.com.”  McCullough tells TALKERS, “Her story as a broke homeless woman to becoming a multiple millionaire to even now helping others get out of debt, restore relationships, and expand their influence is a story that rocketed her from one affiliate station in January of 2012 to 95 stations and counting in January of 2013.  Dani is the most important voice in all of American media – not just talk radio – that most of the nation still hasn’t heard from.  Hundreds of thousands of lives changed for the better, only proves the point that she has something that real audiences are looking for… connection!”  Read the Forbes story here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

| February 5, 2013

marksandbraceGreater Media’s Sports Talk WPEN-FM, Philadelphia Tweaks Daily Lineup.  The Philadelphia sports talker promotes two from their Saturday program to a daily midday show.  Jon Marks and Sean Brace began holding down the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot on Monday.  Marks most recently co-hosted with Tony Bruno and Brian Baldinger, weekdays 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm respectively.  Sean Brace (as Jon did before him) also produced the Mike Missanelli show for the past year.  As a result of the move, Brian Baldinger moves to the evening show where he co-hosts with Joe DeCamera for the 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm program.  Program director Matt Nahigian says, “Jon Marks’ and Sean Brace’s on-air chemistry has been on display every Saturday morning for the past two years.  The two young and up-and-coming sports talk hosts have created a fun and irreverent show that the Fanatic Philadelphia fans enjoy.”

wjox logoMore Legal Tussles Between Cumulus and Cox Media in Birmingham.  Sports talk outlets WJOX and WZNN in Birmingham are at it again it court, this time over programmer Ryan Haney’s move from WJOX to WZNN.  At issue is the non-compete clause in Haney’s contract.  The Birmingham News reports that Citadelwznn logo (Cumulus) is arguing Haney is in breach of his contract with the company by leaving to work for direct competitor WZNN “ESPN 97.3 The Zone.”  Further, Citadel wants a temporary restraining order against Haney to prevent him from working while the case works its way through the system.  Citadel also wants the court proceedings blacked out to the media because in arguing its case it will have to disclose confidential and proprietary business information.  A judge is set to hear arguments this morning (2/5).  Haney’s non-compete was for the period of one year after exiting WJOX which he did in early January.  Haney had been with WJOX since 2004.

weismanstevenYour Radio Station is Vulnerable to Identity Theft.  We all are aware of the dangers of identity theft and many of us do our best to protect ourselves individually from the dire consequences of having our identities stolen.  But what about your radio station?  Does it even know that there is a problem?  Recently we have learned that both The New York Times and the Washington Post had their computers breached by Chinese hackers and this was not the first time.  The hacking into The New York Times and the Washington Post do not appear to be financially motivated, but that is of little solace.  Why would an identity thief hack into the computers of your radio station rather than attack the computers of big corporations such as Bank of America?  Well, the answer is that they are attacking the computers of the big corporations, but they also are looking toward the computers of small corporations as the low hanging fruit of computer hacking.  Radio stations make enticing targets.  Hacking into the computers of radio stations and other small corporations that may not be in the Fortune 500 not only can provide information that can be stolen to access your radio station’s bank accounts, but it can also provide personal information about employees (some of whom are famous and even controversial), such as Social Security numbers as well as billing and payment information about your advertisers and other companies with which you do business that can be used to make all of these people and entities victims of identity theft.  This is happening to small businesses every day.  One of the reasons that it is happening is that not enough businesses, small and large, but particularly small, are doing enough to safeguard the security of the data in their computers. According to TALKERS legal editor Steve Weisman the problem is not as bad as you think.  It is far worse.  Read his important article addressing the problem and offering solutions here.

eisensonalan

Programming Pro Alan Eisenson Joins Media Management Group as EVP of Business Development.  Talk radio programmer Alan Eisenson most recently was in charge of programming Clear Channel’s Northern California news/talk stations: heritage KFBK-AM/FM and KSTE, Sacramento as well as KKSF and KNEW, San Francisco.  Now he joins New York-based Media Management Group as executive vice president of business development.  The firm states, “In his new capacity Eisenson will enable MMG to expand its range of services, including performance and tactical support, and maximizing client audience growth across all media and technology platforms.”  MMG president and CEO Jeff Schwartz states, “I have known Alan for over 12 years, since he was program director at WEVD here in NYC.  He is one of the most talented programmers and talent managers in the business and will enable us to offer additional value to our current and prospective clients.”

muellerchrisCBS Radio’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh “Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan” Promotes Two.  Late night sports talk host Chris Mueller is upped to the afternoon drive slot as part of the program hosted by Joe Starkey and Josh Miller weekdays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Mueller is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad.  He has been with “The Fan” since its February 2010 debut.  About Chris Mueller, program director Ryan Maguire says, “In Chris, we feel we have a dynamic personality who really had great chemistry with Joe Starkey and Josh Miller.  That speaks volumes because we had some very talented candidates that we were looking at for this position.  He earned this, and we’re excited at what lies ahead.”  Moving into the late night slot is weekender Colin Dunlap, who was most recently hosting the 8:00 am to 11:00 am weekend program.  Dunlap is a former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer.  In addition to his on-air duties at “Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan,” Dunlap will also serve as the featured sports columnist for 937thefan.com.

cookehollandHow to Pump Up Your Weekend “How-To” Show – Part 2.  Talk radio consultant Holland Cooke says, “Few marketing opportunities can generate more new business than local ‘how-to’ weekend talk radio…if you use it properly.”  In this follow-up to yesterday’s piece, Cooke offers four basic tips to maximizing the productivity and quality of these shows:  1) Stay relentlessly on topic; 2) Keep your information in layman’s language; 3) Don’t say “goodbye” at the end of the show; 4) Listen to the show yourself, after some time has gone by so you hear it more objectively.  Read Holland Cooke’s suggestions for producing quality weekend “how-to” programs here.

hillaustinAustin Hill and Brian Wiley Join KINF-AM/FM, Boise.  Impact Radio Group news/talk KINF-AM/FM, Boise brings talk pro Austin Hill aboard for the morning drive program beginning Monday, February 11.  Also being added to the program schedule is Brian Wiley who will bring his “Money Show with Brian Wiley” to the station for the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot.  Both Hill and Wiley previously worked at Peak Broadcasting’s crosstown KIDO.  Austin Hill’s weekend syndicated show “Austin Hill’s Big World of Small Business” airs on Saturdays on KINF.

Obama Gun Legislation Tour, Obama Cabinet Nominees, Super Bowl XLVII, Immigration Reform, and Death of Ed Koch Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/4).  President Obama’s tour of the country to promote his gun legislation; cabinet nominations for President Obama’s second term; the aftermath of Super Bowl XLVII; the debate over immigration reform legislation; and the death of former NYC Mayor Ed Koch were among the top news/talk stories discussed on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

| January 31, 2013

weismanstevenFree Speech Isn’t Always Pretty.  The jury that heard arguments in the case of Todd Schnitt versus Todd Clem (Bubba the Love Sponge) didn’t believe that the actions by Clem on his radio program rose to the level of recklessbubba disregard for the truth that would have been required to find him guilty of defamation.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that because all parties were public figures by virtue of their occupations, the bar is set higher for them than it would be for private citizens.  “Clem’s attorney argued to the jury that the case was a matter of free speech and that no one listening to a radio talk show host who specializes in bombastic rhetoric would take what is said as a serious representation of fact,” states Weisman.  Schnitt’s legal team tried to make the connection that some incidents in which Schnitt and his wife felt physically unsafe during and after encounters with Clem’s fans – members of the Bubba Army as they are known – but apparently the direct connection to Clem’s on-air rhetoric was not strong enough.  Read Weisman’s analysis of the case here.

malzbergtvsetNewsmax Broadcasting’s Steve Malzberg Program to Air on SiriusXM.  The new radio and internet talk program developed by Newsmax Broadcasting and featuring talk personality Steve Malzberg will also be featured on SiriusXM’s America’s Talk channel from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm beginning February 4.  Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “Our surveys show a very significant part of the Newsmax audience subscribes to SiriusXM.  This new outlet will allow SiriusXM subscribers and our online viewers to easily enjoy ‘The Steve Malzberg Show’ in their car anywhere through America’s Talk.”  Newsmax recently announced the launch of this program – a new nationally syndicated radio show that will be simulcast on Newsmax TV, an online media station that features news, commentary, lifestyle and entertainment programming.

wipwingbowl21The Super Bowl Means Wing Bowl for WIP, Philadelphia.  This is the 21st year that CBS Radio’s sports talk WIP, Philadelphia “SportsRadio 94WIP” will present the “Wing Bowl” chicken wing eating contest.  The promotion begins this afternoon at 5:00 pm when WIP’s Al Morganti and Rhea Hughes host the official “weigh-in” for all 27 contestants live from  Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia.  The actual contest takes place Friday at 6:00 am at the Wells Fargo Center.  What started as a smallish radio promotion 21 years ago has developed into one of the world’s largest wing eating contests and provides WIP with enormous visibility.  A portion of the proceeds from the sold-out event will go to charity.  Here’s the list of prizes in this year’s competition:  $20,000 cash prize, a one-of-a-kind Wing Bowl Champion ring and a gold medal from Steven Singer Jewelers; a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder S-L from Montgomeryvillle Acura; a new Harley Davidson 883 Sportster Motorcycle from Barb’s Harley Davidson, West Collingswood, NJ; earrings and necklaces from Steven Singer Jewelers; and all inclusive Apple Vacations to the new Barcelo Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

mohremmittsmithJay Mohr Broadcasts Virtually from Super Bowl Media Week.  That’s Fox Sports Radio Network personality Jay Mohr on the video monitor chatting with NFL Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith who’s seated on the Fox Sports set in New Orleans.  Mohr is on the road this week on a comedy tour and he’s taking advantage of his travels to visit some affiliate stations while doing his program virtually from the media center at the Super Bowl.  Mohr’s program – airing live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET on FSRN – has reached the 100 affiliate mark adding stations including WDFN, Detroit; WINZ, Miami; KRKO, Seattle; KGME, Phoenix; KLSD, San Diego; WDAE, Tampa; KPOJ, Portland; KTKR, San Antonio; WSAI, Cincinnati and more.

mahlerdaveKJR, Seattle Moves Dave “Softy” Mahler to PM Drive.  Clear Channel’s Seattle sports talk duo of KJR, Seattle and KNBQ, Centralia announces midday personality Dave “Softy” Mahler moves to the PM drive slot that opened up when longtime station personality Mike Gastineau retired from the station in December.  Taking over the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program are Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer and former Gastineau co-host Elise Woodward.

kdkawarmathonKDKA, Pittsburgh to Hold 5th Annual Warmathon.  CBS Radio’s news/talk KDKA, Pittsburgh is broadcasting the 5th annual Warmathon – a live, two-day broadcast in conjunction with Dollar Energy Fund, Inc. on February 7 and 8 – to benefit Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program. The program helps limited-income families maintain or restore basic utility service.  The event has raised more than $1.15 million since 2009 and more than 3,500 limited-income families in the greater Pittsburgh region have benefited from the generosity of Warmathon donors.

wlni logo3 Daughters Media Files Petition to Deny in WLNI, Roanoke-Lynchburg Acquisition.  Gary Burns-led 3 Daughters Media has filed a petition to deny with the FCC contesting the pending acquisition of talk outlet WLNI, Lynchburg by Mel Wheeler Inc. from Centennial Licensing LLC.  Burns contends that if Mel Wheeler is allowed to acquire WLNI, it will put him in control of 48% of the market revenue – well over the 40% rule.  The fact that the two cities of Roanoke and Lynchburg are some 60 miles apart but are part of the same market for sales purposes adds confusion to the situation but Burns maintains the designation is flawed and points to the Commission’s forcing Cumulus to spin off stations in Flint, Michigan and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as comparable examples.

Cool Job Opportunity.  Talk Radio Producer/Guest Booker extraordinaire required.  The successful candidate has access to A-level guests, stars and newsmakers.  They have demonstrated initiative delivering breaking news in context and have shown innovation generating unique angles to Topic A stories, as well as original topics that connect with target listeners or viewers in personal ways.  They have major market experience producing entertaining news and talk programs in television or radio stations or network newsrooms.  They live and breathe current events, business, politics, pop culture, social media, new technology, etc.  Please send resume & cover letter to: talkradioproducer@live.com.  Do not attach audio files.  Los Angeles-area applicants with a giant Rolodex are strongly preferred.  We are an EOE.

Immigration Reform, 4th Quarter GDP Drop, Giffords Gun Testimony, Chuck Hagel Confirmation Hearing, and Israel-Syria Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/30).  The debate in Washington over immigration reform; the unexpected drop in the U.S.’ GDP in the fourth quarter of 2012; former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ testimony at gun legislation hearing in Washington; Chuck Hagel’s pending Senate confirmation hearing; and Israel’s attack on suspected weapons inside Syria were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

| August 23, 2012

Tom Owens Out at Clear Channel.  With the constant comings and goings of radio people these days – even executives – it’s tough to call anything a “shocker,” but Tom Owens has been part of the Clear Channel organization since its merger with the old Jacor back in 1998.  Owens began with Jacor as programmer at rocker WEBN, Cincinnati and moved up to the top of the corporate programming ladder there before the merger.  He was the head of Clear Channel programming until last fall when Tom Poleman was named president of national programming platforms and Owens was given the EVP of programming research and strategy title.  During his time there, Owens was no stranger to the pink slip process – of course, participating in it from the position of handing them out.  Now, as CC consolidates its programming research and ratings research groups into the national programming platforms division under Poleman, Owens leaves the company.  The official word from Clear Channel is that Owens will still contribute to its strategic programming on a “consultant basis.”  Sometimes in modern-day corporate jargon, that’s a nice way of saying, sayonara.

Emmis Picks Up Two Stations in Terre Haute.  The purchase of sports talk combo WSDM-FM at 92.7 and WSDX-AM at 1130 (both licensed to Brazil, Indiana) from Crossroads Investments must be approved by the FCC but Emmis will be operating the duo under an LMA beginning September 1.  Emmis Terre Haute general manager James Connor says in a statement, “We are excited to add the ESPN brand to the Emmis Terre Haute cluster of stations which includes WWVR-FM classic rock 105.5 The River and HI-99 WTHI-FM the Wabash Valley’s Country Station.  We will continue to serve the listeners of Terre Haute, Brazil and the surrounding communities with quality programming and our continued commitment to community service.”  In addition to ESPN programming, the combo airs local sports talk host Vaso Michels’ 5:00 am to 7:00 am program.

Talk Host Martha Zoller Loses Bid for Congress in Runoff Election.  Gainesville, Georgia-based talk host Martha Zoller – who left her talk radio career to run for the new 9th Congressional District seat in Georgia – lost the Republican primary runoff to Georgia State Representative Doug Collins.  In a message to supporters, Zoller stated, “I do not know what the future holds for me but I do know that there’s still work to be done.  Don’t stop fighting for what you believe … don’t give up hope in the future of this great nation … and don’t for a second believe that your efforts over the last year were in vain.”  Whether or not Zoller makes a talk host comeback is uncertain but she has hinted to the Georgia media that she is not done with her political aspirations.

Super Agent Eric Weiss Played Significant Role in Heidi & Frank/KLOS Marriage.  One of the most prominent behind-the-scenes movers and shakers in the radio talent rep business, Eric Weiss of the LA-based Weiss Agency, first had the idea that Heidi and Frank would make a good fit in mornings at KLOS as far back as one year ago.  According to Southern California radio historian Don Barrett of LARadio.com, Weiss had the idea that the duo would be perfect for mornings at the heritage LA album rocker when rumors began to surface that Mark & Brian might be heading into their final contract year before he even represented them stating, “I pursued the idea – spoke with both sides about it, and was able to help bring it to fruition.”  There’s a huge lesson and insight in this for those who wonder how big time media talent agents operate.  It is not just a matter of “get me a job.”  Top agents smell potential connections and often put themselves in the mix as catalysts to a marriage before the main parties involved even think of it themselves.  At RadioInfo and TALKERS, we are often asked by zealous-but-unproven talent yet to earn a track record if we can “recommend a good agent.”  Our answer:  “Any agent who would sign you as a client at this point in your career wouldn’t be a ‘good’ one.”

Karel Program to Air on CRN Digital Talk Radio.  San Francisco-based talk host Charles Karel Bouley’s “The Karel Show” begins daily distribution via CRN Digital Talk Radio.  The famously liberal and openly gay talk host began his talk career in 1998 on KFI, Los Angeles with his late partner Andrew Howard.  Since then he’s also worked at KGO, San Francisco.  CRN president and CEO Mike Horn states, “Karel raises questions, brings humor and creates compelling conversation with listeners and guests alike and we’re especially pleased to bring his outstanding show to CRN.”  Karel has a national profile through his radio career, his books, blogs, syndicated columns (Huffington Post) and television appearances as both commentator and actor.  He says, “CRN continues to blaze a trail in delivering content to listeners across America.  I’m so glad they are taking the show.  From the beginning, Mike Horn has been an advocate and I knew we’d get to this day.”  The program airs live on CRN 2 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET.

SiriusXM Board of Directors Sued by Shareholders; Suit Has No Merit Says TALKERS Legal Editor.  The City of Miami Police Relief and Pension Fund, a SiriusXM shareholder, is contending that the SiriusXM board of directors has failed to prevent John Malone-led Liberty Media from assuming control over the satcaster.  The suit, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, contends Malone and other Liberty-appointed members of the board are preventing other board members from “adopting anti-takeover provisions even if doing so would be in the best interests” of shareholders.  Late yesterday, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine ruled he would not stop Liberty from acquiring more shares as the plaintiffs had requested.  He further stated he would hear expedited motions within the next month to decide if the investors’ case should go forward.  But TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says what Liberty is doing is within its legal rights.  In fact, Weisman says SiriusXM could be in breach of contract if it attempted to stop Liberty’s actions.  Read Weisman’s exclusive analysis here.

Fox NFL Analyst Mike Pereira to Appear on KNBR, San Francisco This Season.  NFL fans know former NFL VP of officiating Mike Pereira as the guy the Fox play-by-play team cuts away to when there’s a questionable call on the field that needs illumination.  Now, Pereira will be part of the KNBR morning show with Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger for “The Rule Book” show Monday mornings at 9:30 during the NFL season.  Program director Lee Hammer states, “We’re excited to have Mike join the KNBR family.  In every NFL game, we see calls that leave fans in total disbelief.  As the former head of officiating for the NFL, Mike will not only explain the rule, but try to explain why the official made the call.  Mike no longer works for the league, so he’ll be critical when necessary and have the freedom to say when the officials clearly missed the call.”  With the possibility of the league’s officials sitting out due to a contract dispute with the league and replacement officials working games, this could be a huge programming coup on Monday mornings for KNBR!

Mancow Chicago Video Simulcast a Done Deal.  The “Mancow Experience” will be seen by Chicagoans on WPWR-TV – channel 50 in Chicago – from 6:00 am to 8:00 am beginning this fall .  The Chicago Tribune reports what was teased earlier this summer is being confirmed by station management.  The other aspect of this news for Erich “Mancow” Muller is that his show will have a new physical home base as production of the TRN nationally syndicated radio program will move to WPWR’s North Michigan Avenue studios.  WPWR VP and general manager Mike Renda says, “This fall, Chicagoans will get a backstage pass into one of the most provocative radio programs in this market.  Viewers will have unlimited access into Mancow’s madness, with a live, unedited simulcast that will bring this dynamic voice to life.”  Mancow’s show is heard in the market on suburban WJJG.

New York’s WFAN Scores Eli Manning Appearances.  New York Football Giants flagship WFAN, New York signs Giants QB Eli Manning to a multi-year deal to have Manning join PM drive host Mike Francesa at 5:05 the day after every Giants game during the season and the post-season.  Vice president of programming for CBS Radio New York and WFAN operations manager Mark Chernoff says, “As the team’s flagship radio station, we’re proud to be the leading source of Giants news for football fans across the tri-state area.  Having Eli every week is guaranteed to give listeners the best commentary, insight and discussion with a perspective only he can offer on the New York Giants.  This will be appointment radio at its best.”

Salem Radio Network Gears Up for Convention Coverage.  Dallas-based Salem Radio Network is prepping to cover the Republican National Convention in Tampa beginning on Monday. SRN vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup reports a full battery of SRN news staffers — including White House correspondent Greg Clugston and SRN U.S. Senate correspondent Linda Kenyon — will join SRN talk hosts Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and others at the network’s broadcast headquarters in the Tampa Bay Times Forum.  Tradup tells TALKERS magazine, “We’ll either present superb Republican Convention coverage or the most over-staffed hurricane coverage in the history of 21st century radio…or both!”  Tradup states the organization will also cover the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte the following week, and will include what it calls a “truth squad” led by former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett who hosts SRN’s “Morning in America” program.

NRG Media’s “The Zone” Omaha Sports Outlet Launches “Fully Interactive” Post-Game Show.  Sports talk KOZN, Omaha announces the debut of the “Big Red Over-Reaction” post-game show that will immediately follow Nebraska Cornhuskers football games this season.  The station is touting the program as  “fully interactive” saying it “will immediately feature fan reaction via on-air and digital and social media, providing instant vent-and-release by Cornhusker fans nationwide via over-the-air call-in, Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, Huskermax.com and e-mails.”  The show will feature The Zone’s legendary former Husker National Champion Blackshirt Jason Peter.  Peter will be joined by “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” co-hosts John Bishop and Mike’l Severe and Jason’s morning show co-host Gary Sharp of “Sharp & Peter in the Morning.”  NRG Media Omaha general manger Andy Ruback says, “We have the talent and the capability to deliver a program that the market has never seen before.  Our personalities have a combined total of nearly 100 years of experience with Nebraska football and we believe that fans will appreciate our unique approach to post-game programming that they have never had before.”

Yahoo! Sports Radio Names Doug Russell and Mark Carman PM Drive Hosts.  The slot opened up when Yahoo! host Travis Rodgers was moved to the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET slot on the network.  Doug Russell moves up from the network’s evening program and Mark Carman has worked at Houston Texans flagship KILT, Houston as well as WGN, Chicago.

Organization Files Petitions with FCC to Deny Renewal of Fox-Owned TV Stations.  The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is asking the FCC to deny renewal of the broadcast licenses of three Fox TV stations – two in Washington, DC and one in Baltimore – because of News Corp.’s involvement in hacking scandals in England, according to The Hill.  TV licenses, like radio broadcast licenses, come up for renewal every eight years and the three stations in question applied for renewal in June.  Their licenses are set to expire in October.  According to the story, CREW asked the commission to pull the licenses to all 27 Fox-owned TV stations back in May – citing the clause in FCC regulations that it only grants licenses to those of “good character” – but the FCC has taken no action.  The commission rarely takes action in cases of ethics complaints and it is not expected to act on CREW’s complaint.

Presidential Campaign, Todd Akins Campaign Status, Prince Harry Naked Partying Incident, Merkel-Euro Zone Tensions, and Hurricane Threatens Tampa GOP Convention Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/22).  The U.S. presidential campaign; Missouri Rep. Todd Akins campaign status in wake of “legitimate rape” comment; the fallout over Prince Harry’s naked partying in Las Vegas; German chancellor Angela Merkel’s difficult decision regarding Greece and the future of the euro zone; and the hurricane threat to next week’s GOP convention in Tampa were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

 

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.

When Is a Death Threat Free Speech?

| July 5, 2012

By Steven J. J. Weisman
TALKERS MAGAZINE
Legal Editor

BOSTON — The recent decision of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm to charge Timothy Demeuse merely with disorderly conduct with regard to Demeuse’s Facebook posting about talk radio host Vicki McKenna has many people, including Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, upset.

The Facebook posting read “Here’s your real ‘expletive’ death threat ‘expletive.’  Come and get me.  I don’t even own a gun.  I can make as many threats as I want.  I hope someone kills you.  I am going to shoot you in the face and rape your dead corpse.”

According to the District Attorney the posting did not qualify for more serious criminal charges.  According to Chisholm, “The people we talked to, his circle of friends, said they did not take it as a true threat.”

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Friday, June 22, 2012

| June 22, 2012

Victory, But No Clarity at the Supreme Court.  The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Fox TV and ABC and against the FCC in a decision announced yesterday.  The high-profile cases involving fleeting occurrences of nudity and four-letter words on the two TV networks came to an end with the Court ruling as many, including TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman, thought it would: in favor of the broadcasters.  But as Weisman writes, the decision was based on a violation of the Due Process clause and ignored the larger question of the FCC’s definition of indecency.  “As for the overriding question of the unconstitutionality of the rules themselves, the Court ruled that it did not even have to answer that question because the application of the FCC’s indecency rule was improperly done in a manner that violated the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment.”  Read Weisman’s analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision here.

Sports Talk Radio Gets Another National Network as CBS Radio Teams with Cumulus Media Networks to Offer Talk Shows, News and More.  The skyrocketing popularity of sports talk radio is bringing another major network player into the business.  CBS announces it will put the resources of CBS Radio and CBS Sports together to build a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week lineup of national programming called CBS Sports Radio.  The company is partnering with Cumulus Media Networks which will provide affiliate sales and ad sales for the network and the content will air on 67 of Cumulus Media’s stations.  The long-form talk aspect of this network will debut on January 3, 2013 but hourly CBS Sports news updates will begin on September 4 of this year.  This entry of CBS into the sports radio game creates a much more crowded field of players once dominated by just a few.  Soon ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio Network, and Yahoo! Sports Radio will be joined by the recently announced collaboration between NBC and Dial GlobalNBC Sports Radio – and CBS Sports Radio.  CBS Radio president and CEO Dan Mason states, “For more than two decades we have owned local sports radio and appreciate great talent and programming that resonates with listeners and elicits passionate dialogue and debate.  We are bullish our expertise and prior achievements will allow us to successfully complement our existing businesses while expanding into what until now has been a largely unchallenged sector of the radio business.”  Exactly how CBS will staff the new national sports talk radio network is something we’ll see develop over the next six months.  It certainly has a trough of excellent talent at its local sports talk O&Os and the company indicates affiliate stations will have the opportunity to “regionalize their lineup by choosing from select programs currently featured on CBS Radio or Cumulus sports stations.”  That means an affiliate station in the Mid-Atlantic, for example, could elect to carry a program that emanates from WIP, Philadelphia or WJFK-FM, Washington.  Regardless of how this new enterprise develops, suffice it to say the sports talk radio business is getting much more competitive.

Genesis Communications Announces End of ESPN Relationship in Tampa and Orlando.  ESPN Radio has been a part of Genesis Communications’ WHBO, Tampa and WHOO, Orlando for the past 10 years but president Bruce Maduri says in a statement that they believe it’s time to develop more local – and exclusive – talent.  Maduri states, “ESPN Radio makes its once-exclusive programming readily available to the public on multiple audio and video channels and platforms, such as web radio, satellite radio, mobile devices, broadcast television, cable TV and more.”  And Maduri cites the cost of the programming as a factor.  He says they’ve enjoyed their 10-year relationship with ESPN but will end their relationship with ESPN by October 1.

Meet One of Talk Media’s Hardest-Working Talents: Larry O’Connor.  And today is a very busy day for Larry O’Connor.  First, he’s filling in for WPHT, Philadelphia’s Chris Stigall in AM drive; after an hour break he fills in for Dial Global’s nationally syndicated Dennis Miller; then he joins Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt as a guest on Hewitt’s annual live broadcast from Disneyland in Anaheim.  Who is Larry O’Connor?  The former manager and producer in the Broadway theater industry joined the Breitbart empire writing for Big Hollywood and became Andrew Breitbart’s choice to run the multi-media arm where he came to be in charge of Breitbart TV and he’s now editor of the video and multi-media arm of the Breitbart News Network.  Given his position, O’Connor has an interesting view of the talk media landscape and he tells TALKERS magazine, “I have been fortunate to launch my career in this new age where I could broadcast on the internet for relatively low costs and within months build a loyal and vibrant audience with no more promotion than Facebook and Twitter alerts.  Streaming my show at Breitbart News has allowed me to cater to the passionate center-right political news junkie that makes up our audience and it perfectly mirrors the hard-core talk radio audience.  I am also fortunate to be the multi-media editor and curator for the Breitbart sites which puts me in the position of seeking out the choicest sound bytes which I hope will end up on playlists for talk radio shows from coast to coast.  By having that task all day long, it puts me in the news cycle that is in the wheelhouse of talkers up and down the aisle.”  The untimely death of Andrew Breitbart certainly affected the late conservative icon’s business but O’Connor tells TALKERS things there continue to move at a lightning pace.  “The radical re-design of our site, which was Andrew’s final project, has been a resounding success.  But the new design also has put enormous pressure and demands on our dedicated editorial staff because unlike our old blog format, the new design requires us to be on top of the news cycle and constantly posting fresh, relevant content on a constant basis.  The loss of Andrew is a void that, frankly, will never be filled.  But it is comforting to know that his business partner and long-time best friend Larry Solov is there every day over-seeing us and keeping Andrew’s vision alive and thriving.”  Meanwhile, O’Connor continues to be heard at local stations across the nation.  He’s recently filled in at such historic signals as WOR, New York; WLS, Chicago; WABC, New York and more.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Nationally syndicated progressive talk star Randi Rhodes hosted an iconic entertainment figure on her Premiere Networks program as Cher called the show on Wednesday to talk about being vilified for speaking out as an entertainer.  Cher told Rhodes, “I…try to do my part, try to do more than my part for helping people with my money and with my speaking…They just can only vilify you by just saying the most heinous things.  They don’t talk about your ideas, or what you think.  They talk about what kind of a person you are and then they vilify what kind of a person you are.”…..CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles spotlights the city of Santa Monica in its next “KNX on Your Corner” event.  News anchors will broadcast live from the café Back on the Beach throughout the day and “KNX Business Hour” host Frank Mottek will lead a private networking luncheon for local business leaders, titled, “Your Money, the Markets & the Economy,” with special guest, James Hausberg, managing director and partner of HighTower Advisors at Santa Monica Ford Lincoln…..Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago is named Chicago Market Station of the Year by the Illinois Broadcasters Association for the fifth straight year.  At the recent awards ceremony WGN picked up six other first place honors including Best Local Radio Newscast, Best Sports Story, and Best Website…..SiriusXM – in association with ESPN Radio – offers subscribers complete coverage of Wimbledon beginning Monday, June 25 through Saturday, July 7.

CRN Digital Talk Radio Adds Three Telecom Systems to Its Affiliate Roster.  Sunland, California-based CRN Digital Talk Radio announces the addition of three new telecommunications systems to its affiliate roster which will carry CRN’s more than 100 shows and talk radio programs on their audio-only video channels for subscribers.  Home Net of Kutztown, Pennsylvania; CML Telephone Cooperative Association of Meridien, Iowa; and LISCO (Local Internet Service Company) of Fairfield, Iowa will carry all seven of CRN’s broadcast networks on dedicated audio channels.  CRN CEO Mike Horn states, “We are excited to join with Home Net, CML and LISCO and provide their customers with our top-rated and highly entertaining programming for the at-home listening experience.”

‘Fast and Furious’ Case/Executive Privilege Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 18-22.  The case of Congressional Republicans’ attempt to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for not delivering documents in connection with the ‘Fast and Furious’ program and President Obama’s invoking executive privilege in the case was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing in the #1 spot on the Talkers TenTM.  Following at #2 this week was the 2012 presidential race.  At #3 was the G20 Summit and the Russia-Syria connection followed by the Euro Zone debt crisis and the global financial markets activities at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week according to ongoing research from TALKERS.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View the entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  The Dave Ramsey show is added to the program schedule at CBS Radio’s KRLD, Dallas…..KFNX, Phoenix picks up Cumulus Media NetworksMike Huckabee…..Compass Media NetworksFree Beer and Hot Wings morning drive show is added to the program schedule at WZGM, Asheville, North Carolina; KBAZ-FM, Missoula, Montana; and WQCK-FM, State College, Pennsylvania…..The Money Pit Home Improvement Show joins the lineup at WMCD-FM, Statesboro, Georgia; WTHQ, Paducah, Kentucky; and KQWC-FM, Webster City, Iowa.

Victory But Not Clarity at the Supreme Court

| June 22, 2012

By Steven J. J. Weisman
TALKERS MAGAZINE
Legal Editor

BOSTON — Yesterday (6/21/12) the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision on the FCC’s indecency standards for broadcast radio and television and the decision hardly seems worth the wait.

In a decision that reminded me of a story about the comedian Professor Irwin Corey, who billed himself as the world’s foremost authority, he was asked, “Why do you wear sneakers?”  He replied by saying that this actually was two questions.  The first question was “Why?” and he went on to a long philosophical discussion of “why.”  Then he went on to the second question, “Do you wear sneakers?” and he promptly responded, “Yes.”

In this case the Supreme Court was asked whether or not the FCC’s indecency rules were in violation of the First Amendment.  However, rather than answer that question, the court merely determined unanimously, after much discussion, that the standards were applied retroactively and therefore they could not be enforced against ABC and Fox.  As for the overriding question of the unconstitutionality of the rules themselves, the Court ruled that it did not even have to answer that question because the application of the FCC’s indecency rule was improperly done in a manner that violated the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

| June 4, 2012

Tom Leykis and Lionel to Discuss Their High-Profile Pioneering Digital Efforts at NMS.  Two questions (or variations thereof) regularly fielded by the TALKERS editorial staff these days are “How’s Tom Leykis doing with his new online talk show?” and “What’s Lionel up to these days with his online project?”  Both will be answered in detail straight from the horses’ mouths at the New Media Seminar’s Digital Workshop in New York City this Thursday, June 7.  As West Coast-based Leykis approaches the two-month mark into the launch of his “New Normal Network” online project and East Coast-based Lionel chalks up two years of operating “LionelMedia.com,” both individualistic graduates of the terrestrial talk show scene continue to gain traction on both the audience and revenue fronts as the industry watches with great interest.  Leykis tells TALKERS, “We had over 1.1 million sessions from our debut on April 2nd until April 30th. That number would most closely approximate cume. In our first week of 24/7 streaming, we had exactly 401,180 listeners. That was more listeners than the weekly cumes of 14 L.A./Orange County radio stations in March.”  On the revenue front, Leykis is also very pleased with immediate results saying, “At the current pace, we will make over 100K in revenue, but we are conservatively estimating 100K for the year.”  Leykis explains the key to making an online radio operation work is to provide specific listeners something they cannot get anywhere else.  He tells TALKERS, “You really have to super-serve your P1s…even in the process of selling advertising.  We go out into the marketplace and ask radio-friendly businesses the question, ‘Are you being priced out of radio?’  Because our operating costs are so much lower than radio we can offer these small businesses very affordable deals.  And when you specifically target business owners who are already in your audience as listeners, well it just makes a lot of sense.  This is what we are doing and it is working.”  Lionel describes his digital effort to TALKERS as follows: “This month is the second anniversary of the launch of LionelMedia.com, a paid subscription podcasting outlet. I podcast an hour daily of uninterrupted, unedited, commercial and break-free freeform-yet-structured spoken word. It, frankly, knows no peer. Every day I post news stories, columns, ideas, opinions and the like that supplement the subject or content of that day’s podcast. I’ll also attach a YouTube video of my latest PIX11 commentary on myriad subjects. To be most precise: I do exactly what I want. Let that sink in. My podcasts are not profane or blue in the least — in fact they could be played in their entirety on terrestrial radio. That, I feel, is a drawing point and basis for much of our success.”  Although Lionel no longer does a terrestrial radio talk show, he does regularly scheduled commentaries on Tribune television stations including New York’s WPIX channel 11 and Merlin Media’s all-news FMs in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago in addition to appearing as a regular guest on a number of terrestrial radio talk shows…exposure that helps drive traffic to his online media station.  The Digital Workshop will be moderated by Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service and Dan Patterson of KoPoint.  The June 7 industry-only New Media Seminar/NYC is an advance sellout.  For information call 413-565-5413.

Wisconsin Recall Spurs Question of “Equal Time” on Milwaukee News/Talk Outlets – and Beyond.  Progressive political groups are charging Clear Channel‘s WISN, Milwaukee and Journal Broadcasting‘s WTMJ, Milwaukee with violating the FCC‘s “Zapple Doctrine” which mandates “equal time” to all qualified political candidates within 60 days of an election under certain circumstances. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that talk hosts often benefit from exemption from the “Zapple Doctrine” by qualifying as a “news interview program.” But that exemption is not always a slam dunk. Read Weisman’s column about how the courts tend to interpret this section of FCC regulations here.

WPLJ-FM, New York OM Tony Mascaro to Program WABC?  Some posts on the New York Radio Message Board indicate inside sources are reporting Cumulus Media New York is naming CHR WPLJ-FM operations manager Tony Mascaro program director of its news/talk WABC. As of the posting of this item, there is no confirmation or denying of the report from Cumulus. WABC APD Chuck Armstrong has been serving as interim program director for the station filling the role left vacant when Laurie Cantillo exited the post last fall. Stay tuned.

Tony Kornheiser Re-Ups with WTEM, Washington for Two Years.  The Red Zebra Broadcasting station announces high-profile personality Tony Kornheiser renews his deal to remain host of the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program on ESPN 980 WTEM, Washington, DC. As part of the new contract, Kornheiser will contribute to the Washington Redskins Radio Network‘s “Official Pre-Game Show” during the football season. WTEM CEO Rick Carmean states, “Tony’s unique brand of humor and entertainment fits perfectly into our strong and highly rated midday lineup.” Kornheiser is joined weekdays by a rotating cast of co-hosts including Gary Braun, Jeanne McManus, Torie Clark, David Aldridge and longtime producer Nigel. Frequent contributors include Tony’s “Pardon the Interruption”co-host Michael Wilbon.

WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Gives Adam Goldfein Nightly Program.  Local attorney and auto dealership owner Adam Goldfein has hosted a weekend program about cars on Cox Media‘s WSB-AM/FM for some time. Now, the station adds more air time to his schedule. The consumer issues expert begins hosting a program airing nightly from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Goldfein had been filling in for Clark Howard on the station and Cox Radio Atlanta VP and market manager Dan Kearney tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “He was doing a great job filling in for Clark Howard and his Sunday show was getting great ratings. We wanted him on more consistently.” 

Stephen King’s WZON, Bangor Drops Local Sports Talk; Dismisses Two.  Give WZON, Bangor owner Stephen King credit for manning up and personally delivering the news to sports talk hosts Dale Duff and Clem LaBree that they were being dismissed for financial reasons. Duff and LaBree hosted the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm sports talk show on WZON-AM as well as covering a slew of local sports events, including high school and college games. The Bangor Daily News reports King told the two the change had nothing to do with the quality of their work but because the programming was losing money. WZON-AM had ceased being a full-time sports talk station in November of 2010 and was carrying much of the progressive talk format from sister WZON-FM ­- The Pulse. Duff had been with the station for 19 years. Both are receiving severance from the company. Duff and LaBree’s show will be replaced by a simulcast from WZON-FM although the station will continue to air sports play-by-play.

SRN’s Tom Tradup Makes Statement on End of “Richard Land Live” Program.  The Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention issued two reprimands to Dr. Richard Land for comments he made about the Trayvon Martin case that it deemed “irresponsible, insensitive and racially charged.” It also ended his radio program that it produced that was distributed via Salem Radio Network. The controversy surrounding the statements was enhanced further by allegations Land read them from another published opinion that was not cited. SRN vice president of news/talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “Theologians have a different perspective on talk radio than the rest of our industry does. What some see as “hurtful language” on the Trayvon Martin case is, in reality, part of a free and open exchange of ideas and opinions that is the keystone of talk radio. And by talk radio standards, nothing Dr. Land may have failed to “fully attribute” on the air or on his website rose to the level of so-called plagiarism. Nevertheless, we respect the ERLC’s decision and thus the final edition of ‘Richard Land Live’ aired Saturday, June 2.

Twin Cities Radio Personality Dark Star Dies at Age 66.  Longtime Minneapolis radio personality Dark Star – real name George Chapple – was found dead in his home in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He co-hosted the “Sports Show” along with Sid Hartman on CBS Radio‘s WCCO, Minneapolis during part of his 25 years on the air there before accepting a buyout from the station in November of 2010. Recently he had been working at crosstown KFAN. He failed to show up for his Friday show there and authorities found him dead in his apartment.

Compass Media Marketing Named Exclusive Radio Sales Agent for Point-of-Purchase Service.  This story is really about the acquisition of InStore Broadcasting Network by POP Radio and the new company becomes InStore Audio Network. It delivers in-store advertising messages to more than 33,000 retail outlets – grocery, drug stores, etc. – and provides music content to some 14,000 stores. The company is enlisting Compass Media Marketing as exclusive national radio sales agent. Compass CEO Peter Kosann says, “I have been a longtime partner with POP Radio and the expanded footprint of the new company creates an exciting and compelling media product that network radio buyers will need to consider.”

KSFO, San Francisco Listeners Help Raise $135k for Fisher House Construction.  Cumulus Media‘s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco held a Memorial Day weekend fundraiser for the Fisher House Foundation that began with a live remote broadcast of Brian Sussman‘s morning drive show. Sussman (r) is pictured here interviewing Fisher House representative Cindy Campbell (l). Fundraising continued over the Memorial Day weekend and more than $135,000 was collected for the construction of the Palo Alto Fisher House which provides no-cost housing and the comforts of home for family members of military personnel while their loved ones rehab and recover from various injuries and ailments. Sussman states, “This gift of over $135,000 illustrates the abundant generosity of our KSFO radio family. The Fisher House provides our troops and their families with genuine American hospitality and it’s an honor to be associated with their vital endeavor.

Iowa Farm News Broadcaster Mark Pearson Dead at 54.  Mark Pearson worked at Iowa Public Television where he hosted the “Market to Market” show and at Clear Channel‘s WHO, Des Moines where he co-hosted “The Big Show,” a program that highlighted agricultural news. Pearson died of an apparent heart attack at his home on Sunday. WHO talk show host Jan Mickelson told the Des Moines Register, “Everyone at every level in the farm community respected the guy.”

Wisconsin Recall Spurs Question of “Equal Time” on Milwaukee News/Talk Outlets

| June 4, 2012

By Steven J. J. Weisman
TALKERS MAGAZINE
Legal Editor

BOSTON – With the national political season really heating up now that Mitt Romney has secured sufficient votes to win the Republican nomination for president, a Milwaukee talk radio controversy may have far-reaching implications into the media’s role in the upcoming elections at all levels around the country.

Sue Wilson of the organization Media Action Center has complained to the FCC that five conservative local talk hosts on Milwaukee news/talk stations WISN (Clear Channel) and WTMJ (Journal Broadcasting) have been providing time to and actively promoting Republican candidates, including recruiting volunteers for Republican Governor Scott Walker who faces a recall election tomorrow (6/5).

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

| May 10, 2012

FM Talk Winning in PM Drive with Alan Cox Show on Cleveland’s Legendary Rocker WMMS-FM.  The Alan Cox show is quietly defying the conventional wisdom about what talk targeting younger demos on FM is all about.  Ensconced in afternoon drive on Clear Channel’s legendary rock outlet WMMS-FM, Cleveland, Cox’s success is not a widely told tale in the radio industry, in part because it doesn’t appear to be a piece of a corporately directed programming puzzle with companywide ambitions.  Cox credits local management for daring to be innovative with spoken-word programming outside the realms of news/talk and sports talk.  “’MMS, everybody knows, is a legendary station and management had the foresight to realize music on FM is kind of going away and to see if it can work with two talk products and it has worked amazingly well.  The foresight that brought them to try this hybrid station also makes them realize that you have to honor the heritage the station has but everything has to move forward.”  Read this entire story here.

Gil Gross Replaces Gene Burns in PM Drive at KKSF, San Francisco.  Talk radio legend Gene Burns is not going away from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment San Francisco as he continues to rehab from a stroke he suffered last December but cluster director of operations Don Parker gives the PM drive slot to Gil Gross, who’s been one of those filling in for Burns since January.  Parker states, “I’m thrilled to have Gil Gross aboard full time for the Bay Area’s only live and local afternoon drive talk show.  With his extensive background in network news, everyone in news/talk radio knows the name Gil Gross.  I couldn’t be happier to have KKSF be his new home.  NewsTalk 910 has been very fortunate to have the highest caliber of talent filling in for Gene Burns since January.  I’d like to thank John Rothman, Ed Baxter and Rosie Allen for their contributions and for continuing to play a role on NewsTalk 910 moving forward.”  Burns will continue to blog at newstalk910.com and his Saturday “Dining Around” program will remain on the program schedule with Joel Riddell hosting .  Additionally, John Rothman is named the station’s political analyst.  He’ll contribute to the station’s talk shows and newscasts as well as serve as host for KKSF’s 2012 election coverage.  Baxter and Allen will remain with the station for fill-in and blogging duties.  On his new position, Gross states, “I am thrilled to keep the live, local talk flame alive in the Bay area.  From the Occupy movement to Oscar Grant or the struggles of our economy, it’s important for the Bay area to have a platform to discuss today’s most pressing topics.  I look forward to having my friend and colleague, Gene Burns, back in the line-up.  I also look forward to building the future at NewsTalk 910, a unique station that will not be one point of view all day long.”

Tony Kornheiser Negotiating for Long-Term Deal to Remain on WTEM, Washington.  Washington, DC-based sports media personality Tony Kornheiser tells his audience he hopes to be assured his radio talk show will be heard on Red Zebra’s WTEM – ESPN 980 for “another two years, at least.”  The Washington Post reports director of programming Chuck Sapienza hinted the two sides are negotiating, quoting him saying, “Our goal has always been to have Tony with ESPN 980 long term, and we hope to have an official announcement soon.”  Kornheiser will take much of the summer off from his radio show telling his audience he will do a few weeks of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” but will not do radio in July or August.

Terry Gross Celebrates 25 Years of National Syndication for “Fresh Air.”  Tomorrow “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross will celebrate her 25th anniversary in national syndication via NPR.  Gross began the program on WHYY-FM, Philadelphia – where the show is still based – in 1975.  Gross tells the Philadelphia Daily NewsDan Gross (no relation), “I fell in love with radio the moment I started doing it.  I still find it a privilege to be able to talk to and engage in a pretty personal level with people whose work I respect.”  Surprisingly for some, Gross tells the paper she counts Howard Stern among those whom she’d like to interview but has not.  She says she’s a fan of his radio show.

Carmichael Dave Out at KHTK, Sacramento.  The producer and sidekick to morning host and PD Don Geronimo and host of his own midday show exits the CBS Radio sports outlet.  His tweets about his exit are vague but it appears Carmichael Dave is the victim of a budget-related maneuver.  He tweets, “As of today I am no longer a part of CBS Radio…I’m getting a lot of response that this was contract related.  I asked for nothing.  I can’t go into details.  Just know that I love the station and the people.”  The station is airing DirecTV/Premiere’s Dan Patrick show in middays.

Analysis:  The Legal Basis for the Bob Lonsberry Decision.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman reviews the recent ruling by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department of New York in the defamation case filed against WHAM, Rochester talk show host Bob Lonsberry.  Weisman writes that for talk hosts who make a living expressing their opinions, it’s important to note that “not all opinion is protected, but when it is made about a matter of public concern, the speaker is protected by the First Amendment.”  Read Steven J.J. Weisman’s piece here.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  CBS Radio names Brian Thomas vice president of programming for its Tampa cluster that includes sports talk WQYK – 1010AM Sports…..Syndicated Solutions, Inc. begins distribution of Chuck Woolery’s “Save Us Chuck” political commentary feature on June 4.  The game show legend states, “I started in radio and just love it!  During all my years on television, I’ve come to realize that radio is truly the only medium where I can connect one-on-one with the audience and help to create real change.”…..CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles visits the foothill cities of the San Gabriel Valley as part of its “KNX on Your Corner” remote broadcast series.  The broadcast will emanate from the Monrovia Coffee Company in the heart of Old Town Monrovia on June 1…..WTKK-FM, Boston midday talk host Doug Meehan’s listeners are launching a campaign to get the host an on-air audition with Kelly Ripa on ABC TV’s “Live! With Kelly.”  Meehan has recorded his pitch to be on the show and posted it on WTKK’s website.  He’s encouraging listeners to visit the “Live! With Kelly” website touting Meehan for a shot at a guest host appearance…..Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte regular fill-in host Wayne Powers wins his primary contest for a seat on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.

First Caller Puts Curse on New Talk Show Host.  What a way to start a new gig!  Gregg Henson, the station’s program director who replaced afternoon drive host Pat Miller on WOWO, Fort Wayne, was greeted with a first call that sounded like something out of a Steven King novel.  Not only did the listener with a heavy accent voice his disapproval of Henson and insult him by saying he is “a snake” who “doesn’t bring anything to the table” — he went on to actually put a curse on him!  Check THIS out.  Listen to the audio here.

2012 Presidential Race, Obama Gay Marriage Issue, Feds to Sue Arizona Sheriff Arpaio, and Putin Snubs Obama Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/9).  The 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama’s change of heart on the gay marriage issue, the federal lawsuit being filed against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backing out of meeting with President Obama and the G-8 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Media Veteran and Fenway Park Announcer Carl Beane Dies in Auto Crash.  Fenway Park’s voice of the Boston Red Sox, Carl Beane, died Wednesday at age 59 after suffering a heart attack and crashing his car while driving.  Beane won the Fenway Park gig after the 2002 season.  He was a radio sports announcer, talk host, news reporter and more during his long career.  In addition to stringing for AP, ESPN and SiriusXM, Beane had worked at WBZ, Boston and spent many years in the 1990s working at then talk/music hybrid WESO, Southbridge.

 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

| April 18, 2012

SiriusXM Bests Howard Stern in Court.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman reports on a New York State Supreme Court judge’s decision to throw out Howard Stern’s $300 million suit against employer SiriusXM.  Weisman notes that the judge concluded that Stern and agent Don Buchwald were paid bonuses due as the result of the Sirius and XM merger but that Stern’s contention his bonus was calculated improperly was dismissed.  Read more here.

Tom Becka Returns to Air in Omaha on NRG’s KKAR.  Talk host Tom Becka recently joined Radio Fargo-Moorhead’s new FM talk outlet KRWK-FM, Fargo – 101.9 Talk FM – where he serves as program director and morning drive host.  He retains that post but adds a two-hour PM drive talk show at NRG Media’s KKAR, Omaha airing from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Becka was heard in the market for years on Clear Channel’s crosstown KFAB until he parted ways with the station last fall.  NRG Omaha market manager Andy Ruback states, “I had a short but critical list of talent I wanted to recruit to our cluster of stations and having the legendary Tom Becka join the lineup on ‘The Mighty 1290’ truly offers our listeners localized content with an edge.  Having Tom on our team provides a perfect fit for our Mighty 1290 brand and I am confident the listeners will definitely tune in to hear Tom’s take on everything from politics, lifestyle, newsmakers and more.”  On his return to the air in Omaha, Becka says, “I’m looking forward to working very hard for two great companies doing what I love to do.  I’m having a blast building a new FM talker for Radio Fargo-Moorhead, and now NRG Media and ‘The Mighty 1290’ are giving me a chance to continue to have a strong presence in Omaha.  I have the best of all worlds.  I’m a blessed man to be able to have these two great opportunities.”

ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg Co-Hosts “Live with Kelly” Today.  ESPN Radio personality Mike Greenberg – one half of the Mike & Mike syndicated morning drive show – will co-host ABC’s “Live with Kelly” show this morning at 9:00 am ET.  Host Kelly Ripa called in to the Mike & Mike show yesterday to promote Greenberg’s appearance.  She notes actress Olivia Wilde is among today’s guests prompting Greenberg to say, “I want every girl who ignored me in high school to tune in tomorrow.”  Ripa quickly replied, “Think we’ll get a boost in ratings when every girl who was mean to you tunes in?”

New “Business for Breakfast” Morning Show Airs on Colorado Financial Talk Outlets.  Radio Colorado Network’s new “Business for Breakfast” show is the new AM drive show on Pilgrim Communications’ KRCN, Denver/Ft. Collins and KREL, Colorado Springs/Pueblo.  Hosted by Marc Mandel, Harriet Fox and Roger Cridlebaugh, the program is produced by Radio Colorado Network which promotes the program stating “the new and improved ‘Business for Breakfast’ gives listeners current market analysis, economic updates and timely interviews with featured guests.  This show is informative, educational and entertaining with the intent to best position listeners for the opening bell and start of the day.”

Palm Springs Talk Host Lee Rayburn Resigns; Announces Move “Back East.”  Until last Friday, Lee Rayburn was afternoon host at Morris Communications’ KNEWS multi-cast in the Palm Springs market.  Rayburn resigned on air at the end of his show on April 13 stating he was taking a position “back East.”  Rayburn and KNEWS have been embroiled in a controversy surrounding a civil suit for defamation, libel and invasion of privacy against Rayburn and the station by local business person Pete ChryssThe Desert Sun reports Chryss alleges Rayburn and the station made false and malicious statements about him on the radio – charges the station denies.  Chryss was providing security services for a number of city-owned buildings but those contracts were canceled in the wake of public scrutiny over Chryss’ relationship with a former city councilor.

Cumulus Media Providence Helps Raise More Than $600k for Children’s Hospital.  Last week’s Cumulus Media-sponsored, two-day radiothon for the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence helped raise $611,312.  The Cumulus cluster – including news/talk WPRO/WEAN-FM — encouraged listeners and website visitors to donate in support of the hospital while on-air personalities interviewed dozens of patients and family members of the hospital, hoping to raise awareness of the doctors, hospital and care they provide.  WPRO/WEAN-FM program director Paul Giammarco says, “Cumulus Media Providence and our affiliated stations would like to extend our heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated to this incredible cause, you all made a difference in the lives of so many local children and families.”  Pictured here are (from l-r): Dr. Thomas Tracy; Tony Torres, 2012 Champion Child; WPRO/WEAN PM drive talk host Buddy Cianci; WPRO/WEAN-FM morning news host Tara Granahan; and Dr. Robert Klein.

2012 Presidential Race, Obama Oil Price Regulation Program, GSA Scandal and North Korea Military Ambitions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/17).  The 2012 presidential showdown between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney; President Obama’s program to regulate oil prices; the testimony about the Government Services Agency spending scandal; and concern over North Korea’s military ambitions were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Support for Fisher House Recognized.  ABC News Radio vice president and general manager Steve Jones (l) accepts a plaque from Fisher House vice president of community relations Cynthia Campbell (r) for ABC’s assistance to the veterans organization.  Fisher House, which provides housing to the families of military personnel being treated at military and VA hospitals, says ABC lent critical pro bono technical support to “The Gift,” Fisher House’s Christmas radio broadcast, which aired on 85 radio stations and helped generate a 30% year-to-year increase in giving during the last week of 2011.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

| April 3, 2012

The FCC and You – Part 2: An Explanation of Obscenity.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes the second in a series of exclusive articles covering crucial regulatory information of which all license holders must be aware.  Here Weisman outlines the three-pronged guidelines to defining obscenity and discusses some of the court cases that have helped codify the FCC regulations as they stand today.  Read more here.

 

Rivers Radio Launches Progressive News/Talk Station in Atlanta.  WGUN, Atlanta debuted as a progressive news/talk outlet yesterday featuring a lineup that includes: Syndication One’s Warren Ballentine, The Ed Schultz Show, Premiere NetworksRandi Rhodes, WYD Media’s Thom Hartmann, and The Mike Malloy Show.  Rivers Radio EVP and general manager Kevin Hemmings states, “Atlanta’s 1010 is excited to be able to offer this incredible lineup to our rapidly growing audience. For the first time in a very long while, the listeners of Atlanta now have a diverse choice of viewpoints and opinions.”  WGUN had been airing an oldies/standards format.

Syracuse Talk Personality Jim Reith Joins Pubcasters for New Shows.  Longtime WSYR, Syracuse talk show host Jim Reith – a 27-year employee of the station who was downsized in October of 2011 – begins a new career in the public media world when he debuts a 30-minute TV talk show on WCNY-TV, Syracuse in May and a radio talk show on WCNY-FM, Syracuse in the fall.  Reith tells the Syracuse Post Standard, “I want to be a local guy doing local topics with local people.  I want to inform people about local issues in a more developed way than you can do with a sound bite.  And I want to entertain people and have some fun.”  Reith’s TV talk show will air daily from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm starting May 14 and in the fall he’ll begin a daily three-hour radio talk show on classical WCNY-FM’s HD 3 channel.

Cumulus-Finebaum Suits May Reach Settlement Out of Court.  If Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has his way, the lawsuits between WJOX-FM, Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and employer Cumulus Media will be settled out of court.  According to the Birmingham News, Vance has ordered the two sides to get back to the negotiating table in order to settle the contract dispute.  The two sides were in court last week for a hearing before Vance and they appear closer to a settlement.  Finebaum is suing over contractual issues that took place when Citadel owned the station and Cumulus is countersuing claiming breach of contract.

Leland Conway Moves to WRVA, Richmond for PM Drive.  Lexington, Kentucky talk show host Leland Conway leaves his afternoon drive show at Clear Channel’s WLAP after six years to take over the same time slot at the company’s WRVA, Richmond.  Conway fills the slot at WRVA that opened when the station parted ways with Doc Thompson.  Back at WLAP, the station will get assistance from WHAS, Louisville talk host Mandy Connell and others filling in Conway’s afternoon show until a permanent replacement can be found.

WTMA, Charleston Morning Host Richard Todd Resigns.  Citing the difficulty of being a single parent after the passing of his wife from cancer back in January, WTMA, Charleston, South Carolina morning drive host Richard Todd has resigned from the station.  Todd returned to the radio in February after taking some time off subsequent to the death of his wife Mary Todd on January 3.  Todd told his audience he would not be leaving his position had it not been for his wife’s passing.  He said he isn’t able to focus and prepare the way he needs to in order to execute the show the way he’d like.

Former NFL Players Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu Exit KILT, Houston.  The two had been contributors to CBS Radio’s sports talk KILT, Houston where they worked on both its coverage of Houston Texans football and with some of the station’s sports talk shows.  Now, the Houston Chronicle reports the two have resigned from the station and the scuttlebutt is that they will resurface at Clear Channel’s crosstown sports talk KBME.  KILT program director Gavin Spittle tells the paper, “We appreciated the time they were here.  We have been fortunate to build a large staff, and with that will come departures.  And with departures comes rebuilding, and we are excited about our future.”  Greg Koch is an attorney and N.D. Kalu works in the real estate business in the Houston area.

Former Senator Arlen Specter Hangs Up on GCN’s Jason Lewis.  Former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter grew tired of his time on Genesis Communications Network’s Jason Lewis show – especially of having to sit through commercial breaks – and hung up on Lewis, but not after admonishing him for how the interview was being conducted.  Specter was on the program to promote his latest book, Life Among the Cannibals (Thomas Dunne Books 2012).  GCN reports Specter was upset Lewis didn’t spend enough time with the Republican-turned-Democrat discussing his book.  After the second commercial break he told Lewis, “I gave you 10 minutes. You’ve been over every subject except for my book.  I’ve listened to two rounds of your commercials.  I think it’s insulting.  I’ve been in a lot of interviews in the course of the past 30 years and you are absolutely insulting!  I told you the last time around I wasn’t looking to sit around and listen to your commercials, and I didn’t want to hang up on you.  But I want to tell you this is no way for anybody to run an interview.  I’m as experienced as you are, if not more so.  And that’s all I have to tell you, so goodbye!”

WFED, Washington PM Drive Host Francis Rose Available to Comment on Latest Government Waste Scandal.  A new report from the Inspector General at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that buys goods and services for the Federal government, says leadership spent over $822,000 on a conference attended by about 300 people in October 2010 (over $2700 per attendee).  The report says “many of the expenditures on this conference were excessive and wasteful and that in many instances GSA followed neither federal procurement laws nor its own policy on conference spending.”  This story has been gaining traction among government waste watchers and is already huge in the nation’s capital.  Hubbard Broadcasting’s WFED (sister station to WTOP) uniquely targets its programming to Federal employees – particularly the bureaucracy’s movers and shakers – and is all over this breaking scandal.  (See http://www.federalnewsradio.com/445/2812012/GSA-head-Johnson-resigns-two-others-fired.)  Afternoon drive host Francis Rose tells TALKERS he is available for live and taped interviews via telephone on talk shows around the country to provide insight into its outrageous details.  Rose can be reached via e-mail at frose@federalnewsradio.com or by cell at 202-657-9907.

Jim Rome’s New CBS Sports Network Show Airs Tonight.  Sports talk icon Jim Rome begins a new chapter in the TV side of his sports talk career as CBS Sports Network – CBS’ new sports cable channel – broadcasts the first edition of his TV show since Rome parted company with ESPN.  Rome appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman” last week to promote the new show and talk sports.  Rome’s new TV program airs nightly at 6:00 ET.

GOP Primary/2012 Presidential Campaign, Syrian Violence, ObamaCare Status, Iran Nukes, Gas Prices and NCAA Finals Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/2).  The Republican primary race and the 2012 presidential campaign; the drive to end the violence in Syria, the politics surrounding the legal status of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, Iran’s nuclear ambitions; the rising price of gas and the NCAA basketball finals were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

| March 7, 2012

The FCC and You.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq. presents the first in a series of articles as an abridgement of a forthcoming e-book detailing the crucial, regulatory information of which every license holder and radio station management employee must be aware.  Informal surveys of radio station managers indicate that an alarming number of them are dangerously under-informed about the FCC regulations that pertain to them and their stations.  TALKERS editors urge managers to take the time to read this free abridgement of the first of seven installments and share it with their management teams.  Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon.  In today’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the license renewal process.  Read more here.

The Rush Limbaugh Fallout for All Talk Radio Is Advertiser Nervousness.  Almost a week into the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy the consumer media, politicians and even the media trades to some extent are still awash in writing about Limbaugh’s mistake, the coarsening of our media political discourse and even allegations that conservative talk radio, apparently, hates women.  But TALKERS is hearing reports from ad rep firms that are more alarming – especially in these already shaky economic times.  That is that major advertisers are issuing yet another round of “no controversial programming” dictates.  This is not a new problem for talk radio and the recent Limbaugh case is likely only to add fuel to a fire that’s been simmering for the past 20 years.  While no laws were broken by Rush Limbaugh, advertisers who fear backlash from activists, parent’s organizations and other groups – even though talk hosts with loyal followings that are likely to buy their products or services help sell those products or services very successfully – don’t want to risk bad PR, protester harassment or outright boycotts from being associated with a “controversial” talk media figure.  They reason that there may be many more customers of theirs whom they don’t want to alienate who don’t listen to “controversial” talk radio, so they shy away from the genre altogether.  The bigger challenge facing talk radio right now is not defending its programming, but selling it in this turbulent climate.

Ohio State Representative Circulates Petition to Remove Rush Limbaugh from Station.  Democratic State Representative Robert F. Hagen is circulating a petition around the Youngstown, Ohio area to submit to station WKBN, Youngstown asking that Premiere Networks talk host Rush Limbaugh be removed from the station’s lineup, according to Vindy.com.  The online petition seeks 2,000 signatures before being presented to WKBN management and is less than 200 away from that mark as of this morning.  While many politicians at the state and national level have weighed in on the Limbaugh controversy, Hagen is the first TALKERS is aware of who is using his status as a politician to take action in attempting to coerce an affiliate station into making a programming decision.

Cumulus Birmingham and Paul Finebaum Have March 30 Court Date.  Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has scheduled a March 30 hearing to discuss WJOX-FM, Birmingham sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s motion to dismiss counterclaims by Cumulus against him, reports the Birmingham Business Journal.  Finebaum and Cumulus are suing each other for breach of contract.  Cumulus’ countersuit claims Finebaum – in violation of his contract – entered into negotiations with a competing broadcasting company and shared proprietary information with said organization.  Also, earlier this week Cumulus attorneys filed a motion to block Finebaum’s subpoena of Cumulus for testimony in the suit by arguing that it did not own the Citadel stations when the dispute began.

Merlin Media Closes on WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey.  Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media closes on the $22.5 million purchase of WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey from Harold Camping’s Family Stations.  It is widely believed that Merlin will bring some spoken-word format to the Philadelphia market – probably an all-news outlet in the image of its New York and Chicago stations.  Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host – and Philadelphia native – Al Gardner is reported to be programming the new venture.

KNBR, San Francisco Renews Play-by-Play Deal with the Giants Through 2018.  San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer and Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey appeared on the “Murph & Mac Show” on sports KNBR, San Francisco yesterday to announce a new, seven-year contract to keep Giants baseball on the station.  Dickey stated,On behalf of our loyal listeners and valued clients, we are pleased to announce a new seven year partnership with one of the greatest brands in all of sports.  We are excited to continue KNBR’s 34-year run with the Giants with the addition of compelling new content designed to bring the fans even closer to the action both on and off the field with exclusive reporting.”  The deal includes the pre-game “Kruk & Kuip Show,” the “Post-Game Wrap” and other Giants content throughout the year.

SiriusXM Brings Sports Journalist John Feinstein to Mad Dog Radio Channel.  Satellite broadcaster SiriusXM announces a new program co-hosted by renowned sports journalist John Feinstein and Bruce Murray called “Beyond the Brink” to air daily from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the Mad Dog Radio channel.  Murray has been hosting the midday show at Mad Dog Radio solo.  Feinstein is author of best-sellers A Season on the Brink – detailing a season with Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers – and A Good Walk Spoiled – chronicling a year on the PGA golf tour.  The program debuts Thursday live from the ACC basketball tournament.  SiriusXM states the two will cover the spectrum of sports on their show, interviewing high-profile guests, debating topics and talking with callers nationwide about the headline stories of the day.  Feinstein says of the new program, “I’ve always enjoyed doing radio because it gives you a chance to talk in detail on a lot of different topics and the chance to do it on SiriusXM on a daily basis with an old friend like Bruce is something I’m really looking forward to taking on.  I’m really grateful to SiriusXM for giving me this opportunity and I think this is going to be a lot of fun.”

Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh Controversy, Super Tuesday GOP Primaries, U.S.-Israel Relations/Iran Threat, Ponzi Scheme Verdict, and Hacker Ring Busted Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/6).  The ongoing aftermath of the Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh controversy; the Super Tuesday GOP primaries; the meeting between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear weapons threat; the verdict in the world’s largest Ponzi scheme trial; and a global hacker ring busted with help from its leader were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.

Chicago Media Community Mourns Death of John Madigan.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder writes an excellent piece on John Madigan’s place in Chicago media.  Read it here.  Madigan worked in newspapers, radio and TV and spent part of his career at WBBM, Chicago as political editor.  He was part of the team that led the station’s transition to all-news.  He passed away recently in Florida at age 94 after complications from a stroke.

On the Road in Long Beach.  KLAC, Los Angeles-based Fox Sports Radio Network hosts Matt “Money” Smith (l) and Petros Papadakis (r) are pictured here at their “Just Because It’s Friday” remote broadcast from Cirivello’s Sports Stop in Long Beach, California.  The event drew nearly 500 listeners and featured special guests including Long Beach State head basketball coach Dan Monson, college basketball analyst/former college basketball coach Bruce Pearl plus Petros’ father and former USC linebacker John Papadakis.  Giveaways included the first-ever “Petros and Money” t-shirt, Matt Kemp baseball bats, signed Magic Johnson and Howie Kendrick photos, a Diamondback bike, and an all-inclusive trip to Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training in Glendale, Arizona.  The broadcast was backed by local band Brewfish pictured behind the hosts.

The FCC and You

| March 7, 2012

By Steven J. J. Weisman
TALKERS MAGAZINE
Legal Editor 

BOSTON – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the federal agency that regulates the radio, television, wire, satellite and cable industries.  Although we are all cognizant of this organization, most broadcasters are not as knowledgeable about the FCC as they should be and with this agency’s power to order significant fines as well as even revoke a broadcasting license, it is imperative that all broadcasters be more familiar with what the FCC is and how it operates.  This article is the first of a series of articles as an abridgement of an ebook I have written that describes in great detail what you need to know to broadcast safely and efficiently in today’s regulatory environment. In future installments, I will discuss:

  1.  The FCC’s rules on programming including: obscenity, indecency, broadcast of telephone conversations, parodies, libel and hoaxes;
  2. The FCC’s complaint procedure;
  3. The FCC’s rules on advertising which is a most important topic today;
  4. The FCC’s rules on political advertising, particularly in the light of the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Citizens United case;
  5. The FCC’s rules on payola, plugging and kickbacks; and
  6. The FCC’s rules on time brokerage and barter agreements.

Read More

Monday, March 5, 2012

| March 5, 2012

Limbaugh Clarifies Controversial Remarks and Apologizes to Sandra Fluke.  Facing mounting critical and advertiser pressure in the aftermath of his harsh commentary about law student Sandra Fluke and her testimony before Congress about birth control (see Friday’s story below), Premiere Networks host Rush Limbaugh has issued the following statement and apology on Saturday evening: “For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation.  I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.  I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.  I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.  What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?  Where do we draw the line?  If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?  In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a presidential level.  My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.  I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”  There has been no official word from Premiere Networks on advertisers leaving Limbaugh’s program but numerous media reports are indicating that advertisers Sleep Train, Select Comfort, ProFlowers, Quicken Loans, Citrix Systems, Carbonite and Legal Zoom have pulled their ads from the program.  NBC News is reporting an e-mail from Select Comfort spokeswoman Gabby Nelson states, “Due to recent commentary by Rush Limbaugh that does not align with our values, we’ve made the decision to immediately suspend all advertising on that program.”  According to ABC News, ProFlowers said Sunday on its Facebook page that it has suspended advertising on Limbaugh’s program because his comments about Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke “went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company.”

Threat of Lawsuit Against Limbaugh Raises Legal Questions for Broadcasters.  With Rush Limbaugh’s apology to Sandra Fluke in the rear view mirror, Fluke has told the consumer press she is entertaining the idea of suing Limbaugh for his words against her.  Those citizens sympathetic to Fluke (and Democratic politicians willing to use the assault on Fluke as a sort of symbol for all that is wrong with talk media) would like to see a Fluke suit succeed.  But TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says a case against Limbaugh is a bit murky due to Fluke’s status in the public eye.  Weisman reminds us that the Supreme Court has protected journalists commenting on matters of public concern.  “Since the landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan, it has been recognized that public officials could not successfully sue for defamation unless it could be proven that the journalist acted with actual malice – that is that he or she was aware that what he or she was saying was a lie, or a reckless disregard for the truth.”  In that decision Justice Brennan even wrote there is a “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”  But Sandra Fluke is not a public official, is she?  No, but Weisman says, “The Supreme Court has refined the standard to make distinctions between involuntary public figures – those who are always public figures – and people such as Sandra Fluke who are public figures on specific issues.  As a limited-purpose public figure, Sandra Fluke has, by testifying, put herself into a position where she can be criticized and commented upon in regard to her stated positions with journalists feeling secure that they can make mistakes in commenting about her testimony without legal liability.”  But Weisman says that doesn’t necessarily mean clear sailing for Limbaugh should Fluke proceed with legal action.  “The extent of Limbaugh’s comments could be considered, however, to be beyond the permissible when dealing with a limited-purpose public figure.  Alternatively, it also could be considered that Limbaugh’s comments could be considered to be indefensible even using the lower standard presented by the malice test because his comments could be interpreted as having been made with malice – that is he knew they were false – or made with a reckless disregard for the truth.  Thus there may be some significant liability on Limbaugh’s part in regard to libelous comments that he made about Fluke.  Limbaugh may argue that his actions were not to be considered as literal and that they were merely hyperbole.  He may also argue in his defense that no one would believe what he said to be accurate which might be a fascinating defense that could ultimately hurt him overall more than losing a defamation claim.”

Accurate Analysis of Talk Media Necessary Before Piling on Conservative Commentators.  Consumers – and to some extent industry insiders – have been more than willing to condemn conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh (and KFI, Los Angeles’ John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on the regional level) for language that some may say is, at the very least, not civil.  But columnist, Fox News Channel analyst and former Clinton Administration official Kirsten Powers writes that liberals may need to clean up their own house before judging Rush Limbaugh.  In her piece, “Rush Limbaugh Isn’t the Only Media Misogynist” published by the Daily Beast, Powers calls it a “war on women” and states, “Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.”  In the piece, Powers illustrates that liberal political and social commentators have made very similar comments as Rush Limbaugh without liberal groups batting an eye at their transgressions.  Powers writes about Bill Maher, “But the grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher – who also happens to be a favorite of liberals – who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC.  Maher has called Palin a ‘dumb twat’ and dropped the C-word in describing the former Alaska governor.”  This raises several interesting points.  First, yes, Sarah Palin is a politician and not an innocent 30-year-old law student.  See TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman’s analysis of that in the piece above.  Second, many see what Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh do for a living as very different.  But that’s really not so.  Both are entertainers who comment on social and political issues.  It’s true that Maher operates on pay cable and Limbaugh on free, over-the-air radio, but there have been no FCC regulations violated in this case so that comparison is moot.  Ultimately what’s very possible the entertainment industry – of which talk media is a part – is seeing is a groundswell of public support for a more civil tone in the nation’s public discourse, even when that discourse comes to them through the vehicle of entertainment.

KFI’s John and Ken to Undergo Cultural Sensitivity Training.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles issued a “Memorandum to the Los Angeles Community” in the wake of the John and Ken-Whitney Houston episode that cost the duo a seven-day suspension.  The seven-point memo signed by market manager Greg Ashlock, program director Robin Bertolucci and marketing director Neil Saavedra includes assurance that John Koblyt, Ken Chiampou and “key staff and management” will “participate in cultural sensitivity training furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California.”

Emmis to Make Case to Avoid Delisting.  Six months ago Emmis Communications received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC its stock had to regain compliance with the $1 minimum bid rule in order to continue to be traded on the market.  In a Friday SEC filing, Emmis stated, “The Company has requested a hearing before the Panel, which will stay any delisting action in connection with the Staff Determination and allow the continued listing of the Company’s Class A Common Stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market until the Panel renders a decision subsequent to the hearing.  At the hearing, the Company intends to present a plan to regain compliance with the Rule and request that the Panel allow the Company additional time within which to regain compliance.  While the Company believes that it will be able to present a viable plan to regain compliance, there can be no assurance that the Panel will grant the Company’s request for continued listing on The Nasdaq Global Select Market, or that the Company’s plans to exercise diligent efforts to maintain the listing of its securities on Nasdaq will be successful.”  That chance to plead its case could come by tomorrow.

Radio Pro Paul Barsky Joins WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale for PM Drive.  Paul Barsky has worked extensively in the Philadelphia market at music outlets WMMR-FM, WYSP-FM and WPLY-FM and in other markets as well.  Now he’s holding down the PM drive shift at James Crystal’s WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale following lead-in talk star Joyce Kaufman.

WGN, Chicago Whittles “Cubs Song” Entries Down to Three.  Tribune’s WGN, Chicago is holding a contest for the “next great Cubs song” to be played before each broadcast of Chicago Cubs play-by-play on the station.  It solicited more than 300 entries since the contest was announced and has winnowed that down to the final three: “Cubs Win” by 17 Candle, “Let’s Go Cubbies” by The Fold, and “Rockin’ Right at Wrigley” by Derrick Procell.  Now it’s up to voters to hit the WGN website to vote on their favorite.  The winner will be announced by AM drive host Jonathon Brandmeier on March 16 and the song will be played live during Brandmeier’s Opening Day broadcast on April 5 from the Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

| February 2, 2012

Overnight: The Underexploited Daypart.  Consultant Walter Sabo suggests more talk radio operators should take advantage of the overnight daypart – the one it wins by default.  Citing a Media Audit report indicating talk radio has the largest overnight audience, Sabo contends that – contrary to conventional wisdom – there is money to be made there and other opportunities on which to capitalize.  Read his exclusive TALKERS article here.

 

Can Radio Afford to be Rated Accurately?  That’s really the question that should be asked as Arbitron loses accreditation for five PPM markets.  The Media Rating Council is informing Arbitron, Inc. that accreditation for the Portable People Meter in five markets – Cleveland; Portland, Oregon; Riverside-San Bernardino; Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo; and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater – is being withdrawn.  The MRC says its board of directors “reached this decision upon consideration of a recommendation from an MRC audit committee based on its review of the 2011 Arbitron PPM service audit results, which showed certain issues related to internal controls of the service and declines in service performance metrics.”  Arbitron EVP, service innovation and chief research officer Gregg Lindner says, “Consistent with our long-standing priorities, we will work to retain accreditation where we have it, to regain accreditation where it was withdrawn and to achieve accreditation in our remaining PPM markets.  As always, we will continue our work with the MRC in order to address their concerns.”  Arbitron says it intends to have all 48 PPM markets undergo MRC audits this year.  Currently, nine markets remain accredited: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston (DMA), Kansas City, Milwaukee-Racine, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and St. Louis.  Although details remain vague, TALKERS suspects the problem faced by Arbitron in getting PPM off and running comes down to sample size – a two-fold challenge at this point.  First: To get enough radio listeners to participate in the program and follow it diligently while busy and distracted; second, to expend the money required to have enough units and participants per market needed to achieve statistical accuracy – an investment that ultimately falls on the back of the financially strapped radio business.

CBS Radio Alters WINS, New York Top-of-the Hour Slogan.  Some observers will call it a win for Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels who challenged CBS Radio’s use of the “New York’s One and Only News Station” for all-news WINS.  After a back-and-forth of letters from lawyers regarding station slogans and positioning statements in which CBS Radio first asked Merlin to stop using a permutation of its “Give us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world” slogan, it seems both sides may be moving forward with the business of doing news.  That’s probably best since we’re assuming neither desire to spend more on lawyers than necessary.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says each side could have made a case.  Weisman says CBS could reasonably argue that Merlin was infringing upon its trademark and Merlin could make a good argument that CBS’ use of the “one and only” phrase regarding its all-news radio product violated the Lanham Act (false advertising) in light of WEMP-FM’s existence.

Radio Pros Lee Abrams and Steve Saslow Plan Reinvention of TV News.  Radio programming legend Lee Abrams and marketing and network radio pro Steve Saslow are teaming up with attorney Brandon Davis to form THINK TeleVisual Network, Inc.  In a statement, the trio say they will “elevate the television news playbook into the digital age with a radical reinvention of the way news and information is produced and delivered.”  THINK states its programming will be “designed to present one unified televisual news experience across every device category.   It represents a profound rewriting of the news/information blueprint where a completely new style of presentation will merge with the magic of 21st century technology and modern American culture.”  Lee Abrams says, “News and information is what is steering our 21st century America, the equivalent of what rock ‘n roll was forty years ago.  THINK will merge this passion for information, knowledge and insight with the revolution in technology to create an interactive multi-media experience that will redefine how people are informed and enlightened.”  Initially funded by the three principals, the venture is currently going through another round of fundraising in collaboration with the Boston-based investment firm Kaufman & Company.

Clear Channel’s KFBK Celebrates 90 Years of Serving Sacramento.  News/Talk KFBK-AM/FM, Sacramento is celebrating 90 years on the air serving the people of the region.  As part of the commemoration, the station is unveiling an online museum “that will showcase and honor the station’s rich and storied history.  The museum will include audio clips, photos and videos that will transport listeners back in time to relive KFBK’s evolution.”  Other events throughout the day include Premiere Networks superstar  Rush Limbaugh joining KFBK morning news anchors Amy Lewis and Ed Crane live at 8:00 am where Limbaugh will reminisce about his time at KFBK.  At 11:00 am, station staff will open a time capsule left by a past generation of KFBK employees and longtime KFBK talk host Tom Sullivan – now syndicated by Fox News Radio but still heard on the station – joining Kitty O’Neal during the KFBK Afternoon News to commemorate the occasion.  VP/market manager Jeff Holden states, “The celebration today is recognition and confirmation that the commitment of the employees – past, present and future – is exactly what Sacramentans, at each point in time over the past 90 years, have so welcomingly accepted into their lives.  I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such an illustrious and valuable asset to the region and a part of the team that is making history.”

Clear Channel Quad Cities AM Duo Moves to News/Talk WOC; Piped to WMT, Cedar Rapids.  Morning show hosts Mark Manuel and Steve Ketelaar have been hosting the morning drive show on Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s oldies KUUL-FM, East Moline, Illinois for the past four years.  Beginning February 20, the duo moves across the hall to handle the morning show on the cluster’s news/talk WOC, Davenport and will be simulcast at CC’s Cedar Rapids news/talker WMT.  They’ll replace WOC program director Dan Kennedy as morning host.  Kennedy stays in his PD post and will remain on the program as news anchor.  Kirk Marske will produce the WOC morning show.  According to the Quad City Times, WMT will provide its own news anchor during news cutaways. Clear Channel Davenport operations manager Jim O’Hara tells the paper, “A big thing with us over the past year with Clear Channel in general has been making the best use of our strongest people, our strongest programs.  As I’ve thought about that over the last several months, it dawned on me that WOC is one radio station that needs more help, more people.”

Florida Primary Aftermath, Facebook IPO and Earnings Report, U.S. Afghanistan Combat Withdrawl Plan, and Syrian Violence Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/1).  The aftermath of Mitt Romney’s victory in the Florida primary, the announcement of a pending Facebook IPO and its first public earnings report, plans for an end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan and ongoing violence in Syria were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

| January 11, 2012

SCOTUS Hears Broadcast Indecency Arguments; Sweeping Changes Unlikely.  TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says although Attorney Carter Phillips – representing Fox Television – argued convincingly that broadcasters are responsible to their audiences and advertisers and would not, therefore, engage in a “race to the bottom” with regard to indecency, he believes the Supreme Court will not throw out the current indecency rules as some broadcasters might hope it would.  Attorneys representing the Federal Communications Commission, Fox Television and ABC Television argued before the Court yesterday for the first time since the Pacifica case in 1978.  Read Attorney Weisman’s analysis here.

TRN Entertainment Syndicates Former KGO Weekender Dr. Bill Wattenburg.  Bill Wattenburg was one of the KGO, San Francisco talk show hosts let go by Cumulus Media in December.  Now, TRN Entertainment begins offering Dr. Wattenburg in national syndication Sunday evenings from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am ET beginning January 22.  TRN Entertainment CEO Mark Masters says, “We are ecstatic to have a person of Dr. Bill Wattenburg’s caliber join our network.  His vast knowledge of science and physics will enlighten all of his listeners.  We believe he will quickly develop legions of dedicated fans that want to improve their personal knowledge and way of life.”  Bay Area talk radio listeners are aware of Dr. Wattenburg’s credentials but the rest of the nation may not know that he is a senior research scientist at the Research Foundation, California State University, Chico; and a scientific consultant for the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and many other institutions.  He is a former nuclear weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; a former member of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board; and a former UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering.  TRN Entertainment describes Dr. Wattenburg’s show as “mostly an open-line, listener-driven call-in show in which he answers questions ranging from fixing cars to physics, and everything in between.  His combination of experiences and scientific background give him a great wealth of knowledge that he applies to entertain and inform his audience.”

Clear Channel Takes Another Step Toward Making iHeartRadio a Ubiquitous Media Application.  The broadcast giant announces it is making its application programming interface (API) and affiliate program available to third parties and developers so they can integrate its content and services into their own products, web pages and apps.  Clear Channel states, “Developers will have the opportunity to create their own innovative versions of iHeartRadio on their platforms.  The iHeartRadio API includes access to many of the service’s features, including its live broadcast and digital-only stations and Custom Stations as well as a deep social media integration.”  Clear Channel Digital president Brian Lakamp says, “Opening our API will unlock exciting opportunities to enrich the unique, combined live and custom radio experience that only iHeartRadio provides.  This move also builds on our commitment to be everywhere our listeners expect us to be, with the best products and services.”  The company is clearly moving full-speed-ahead to compete in digital media distribution device race and this is another smart move to try to enhance iHeartRadio’s useage.

CBS Radio Names Two More to WNEW-FM, Washington Staff.  When CBS Radio’s all-newser WNEW-FM, Washington debuts on January 19, Lisa Baden will be handling the traffic reporting in one of the nation’s most congested commuter markets and Jill Schlesinger joins the station for twice-hourly business reports.  Baden has been broadcasting traffic reports in the DC market for two decades, most notably with crosstown WTOP-FM and Metro Traffic before that.  Schlesinger is editor-at-large of CBS Moneywatch and also hosts her own nationally syndicated weekend financial talk program syndicated by Dial Global.

Premiere Networks’ Andy Dean Hits 50-Affiliate Mark.  Nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean, host of “America Now,” marks the 50-affilliate plateau.  Premiere Networks SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi says, “The rapid growth we’ve experienced with this program is a testament to Andy’s talent, dedication and hard work.  We look forward to reaching many more milestones together.”  Dean’s program is heard on talk outlets across America including WSB, Atlanta; KSTE, Sacramento; WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton; WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville; and KNST-AM/FM, Tucson.

National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Announces Honorees.  It’s the time of year when the NSSA announces winners of its best-of honors for their accomplishments in 2011.  Here are just a few of those just announced:  WGN, Chicago morning sports anchor and Northwestern Wildcats football and basketball play-by-play announcer Dave Eanet is named the 2011 Illinois Sportscaster of the Year.  WGN VP/GM Tom Langmyer states, “Dave Eanet is a tremendous broadcaster and a class act.  His passion, integrity and professionalism are apparent in everything that he does and we’re proud to have him on the WGN radio team.”…..Drew Deener of Sports Radio 790 WKRD, Louisville is named Sportscaster of the Year in the State of Kentucky.  Deener hosts “The Early Birds Morning Show” and “The Cardinal Insider” on WKRD.  He also serves as the TV play-by-play voice of University of Louisville football and basketball on WHAS-TV…..KOZN, Omaha’s Kevin Kugler, host of the popular sports talk program “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” and play-by-play host of the College World Series, earns the Nebraska Sportscaster of the Year award for the eighth year.  KOZN program director Neil Nelkin states, “It truly is remarkable that someone this early on his career would be recognized at this level and at this frequency.  It just goes to show how much talent Kevin has behind the mic and in the world of sportscasting.”

Former St. Louis PM Drive Team Thom and Jeff Begin Internet Initiative.  The longtime PM drive team at Emmis’ alternative KPNT, St. Louis, Thom West and Jeff Burton, are producing an internet talk show available via iTunes or their website.  Thom and Jeff were “downsized” in August and began producing podcasts in September.  They say they are now averaging 40,000 downloads per day.  The team has grown to include Scottie “Boom Boom,” Coach, and Kara the Lesbian.  Daily guests add to the non-stop entertainment including comedians, visits from bands, athletes, and local and national celebrities.  Jeff Burton says, “I really enjoyed the old radio show but with the added people and no FCC regulations we are free to do and say whatever we want…and we do!”

Longtime WMAL, Washington Personality Bill Trumball Dies at 77.  Bill Trumball retired from WMAL, Washington in 1996 after spending more than 35 years with the station.  He was partnered with Chris Core on the “Core and Trumball” show for many of those years.  He passed away on January 10 from respiratory failure.

New Hampshire Primary, Iran Saber-Rattling and World Financial Markets Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/10).  The GOP race to take the nation’s first primary election of the 2012 presidential campaign, the ongoing saber-rattling by Iran and speculation about its drive to develop nuclear weapons and the state of the world’s financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

| September 7, 2011

Larry King to Address Breakfast at “Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum 2011.”  Some of the most important names in American talk radio will be assembling for six power-packed hours of give and take at what is aptly being described as a “new kind of industry gathering.”  Now the addition of one of the most legendary of the legends brings the roster of heavyweights over the top as Larry King signs on as the special breakfast speaker for “Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum 2011.”  The first of its kind event is being presented by TALKERS in conjunction with the Los Angeles Press Club on Thursday, October 20 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. Organizers report that as of 4:00 pm ET yesterday the free (including continental breakfast and lunch) mega-regional event has reached capacity for reservations.  However names of attendees will still be taken for a standby list on a first-come basis.  (The event is open only to members of the working media and press.)  Some 30 speakers have been recruited including keynoter Bill Handel, morning host of KFI, Los Angeles; and special guest solo speakers Norm Pattiz, CEO, Courtside Entertainment; Don Barrett, publisher, LARadio.com; and Holland Cooke, consultant, McVay/Cook Media.  Moderators, panelists, presenters and introducers include (in alphabetical order):  Cliff Albert, KOGO, San Diego; Robin Bertolucci, KFI, Los Angeles; Kevin Casey, TALKERS; Chris Crump, Comrex Corporation; Skip Essick, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; Charles Feldman, KNX, Los Angeles; Jessica Gillette, C. Crane Company; Michael Harrison, TALKERS; Roger Hedgecock, KOGO, San Diego/Radio America; Jason Insalaco, KFI, Los Angeles; Mike Kinosian, TALKERS; Tom Leykis, The New Normal; Don Martin, KLAC, Los Angeles/Fox Sports Radio; Doug McIntyre, KABC, Los Angeles/Citadel Media; John McMullen, Desert Radio Group, Palm Springs; Stephanie Miller, KTLK, Los Angeles/Dial Global; Bill Moran, Bill Moran & Associates; Patt Morrison, KPCC-FM, Los Angeles/Southern California Public Radio; John Phillips, KABC, Los Angeles; Josefa Salinas, Hot 92.3, Los Angeles; Jack Silver, KABC, Los Angeles; Dave Sniff, KFMB, San Diego; Doug Stephan, Stephan Multimedia; H. Leighton Steward, Plants Need CO2; Chuck Tyler, KRLA/KKLA, Los Angeles; and Jeff Wasserman, Life Coach Media.  TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey states, “This event has taken off like a rocket. It is extremely gratifying to see so much interest in this new concept. Part of its charm and appeal is its intimacy.  That being said, if we don’t cut off registrations at this point we’ll have to move it from the Los Angeles Press Club at the Steve Allen Theater to the Staples Center.”  For further information, click here.

Cox Media Group Birmingham Makes Offer to Paul Finebaum.  Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s legal action against employer Citadel probably won’t be settled in the very near future, especially since recent attempts to settle the dispute out of court appear to have failed, but he may have a place to go if he leaves Citadel’s WJOX-FM.  The Birmingham Business Journal reports CMG Birmingham GM David DuBose has made an offer to Finebaum to join his new sports talk WZNN-FM should his separation from Citadel be legally executed.  Finebaum is in a battle with Citadel over compensation and contract language.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman recently wrote about the case and you can read that here.  DuBose tells the Journal of the conditional offer, “Cox certainly is interested in Mr. Finebaum, but it is all contingent on his release from his existing contract or from a court order that his contract is no longer valid.”

Governor David Paterson Hits Ground Running on WOR, New York.  If local is the goal with the hiring of former New York Governor David Paterson on Buckley’s WOR, New York, he accomplished that yesterday.  He hosted the two candidates for former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s job on his first program after taking over for Steve Malzberg in the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot.  Bob Turner and David Weprin appeared for an in-studio debate.  Former Governor Eliot Spitzer and former NYPD and Los Angeles Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton also joined Paterson yesterday.

Salem Communications Announces October 3 Start for Steve Cochran on WIND, Chicago.  Longtime WGN, Chicago talk show host Steve Cochran – let go from the Tribune station in June of 2010 — will begin his 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm air shift on Salem’s crosstown WIND on October 3, according to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder.  Cochran’s joining the station was announced last month but a start date was not announced.  Cochran currently holds two air shifts at CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis – 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm – and Cochran says he’ll continue both but, obviously, something has to give with the 6:00 pm hour at KTRS.

Steve Gill Show Adds Local Hour to WLAC, Nashville Program.  The Steve Gill show is nationally syndicated via Radio America from its base at Clear Channel’s WLAC, Nashville from 5:00 am to 8:00 am.  Beginning Monday, September 12, the program adds the 8:00 am to 9:00 am hour on WLAC only.  Gill says, “We are thrilled to add an extra hour in morning drive that allows us to provide more local talk and listener interaction.   Additionally, we will continue to provide the A-list guests, commentary and remote broadcasts that we always have.  The combination of national impact and local availability to our affiliates is what sets us apart from other syndicated shows and we will provide more local emphasis in the Nashville and Middle Tennessee areas with the additional hour.”

Premiere Networks’ Andy Dean Gains Major Market Clearance.  Premiere’s “America Now” with Andy Dean clears WSB, Atlanta and 95.5 FM.  Prior to gaining national syndication through Premiere Networks, Dean hosted the nightly overnight program on the Cox Media Group station.  WSB, program director Pete Spriggs says, “Andy just breaks through.  He’s extremely smart and informed, but there’s also a great flippant sense of humor to go with all the incredible content.  You can’t stop listening.  His potential is really unlimited.”

Tony Bruno Returns to WPEN-AM/FM, Philadelphia.  Bruno left the midday show he co-hosted with Harry Mayes back in June to concentrate on his Fox Sports Radio syndicated late-night “Into the Night” show.  Now, WPEN-AM/FM announces Bruno returns to his place alongside Mayes (12:00 noon to 2:00 pm) on October 3.

 

Westwood One Snags Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald for National Broadcasts.  Westwood One spices up its pre-game show broadcasts with commitments from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald to appear for weekly interview segments with Jim Gray during NFL games.  Brady will appear weekly during Monday Night Football pre-game broadcasts and Fitzgerald will also make weekly appearances during broadcasts of select games.  Gray says, “We have the best quarterback and the best wide receiver in the NFL joining us now every week.  In fact, they could be the best two players in the league, period, and we will be the only ones to have them both on a regular basis.  I am looking forward to a great season.”

Arbitron Promotes Two.  Jon Miller is upped from his post as an embedded account manager for CBS Radio to director of programming services where he’ll be the primary resource for radio programmers.  Jenny Tsao moves from PPM market manager to programming and marketing operations manager where she’ll develop training content, presentations and studies to help Arbitron’s clients better understand and utilize the company’s services to make programming decisions.

Obama Jobs Plan, European Economic Turmoil and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/6).  President Obama’s plan to announce his jobs creation package before a joint session of Congress tomorrow, the uncertainty over European economic stability and the effect on U.S. financial markets were three of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

“Ay Dios Mio, FIU!” That’s former CNN personality Rick Sanchez in the booth as color analyst for Florida International University’s football broadcasts (from video posted on the Chicago Tribune’s website).  Sanchez is working the broadcasts without compensation (his two sons attend the school) but reviews of his initial performance were largely positive.  Some say he was a bit too exuberant in his praise of the home team but his knowledge of the game and professional broadcaster technique added to the broadcast.  He even came with his own catch-phrase for the game, “Ay dios mio, FIU,” which translates to, “Oh, my God, FIU!”  FIU has a large number of students of Hispanic heritage.

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

| August 31, 2011

Paul Finebaum v. Citadel: A Lesson in Fine Print.  TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that the case of WJOX-FM, Birmingham sports talk host Paul Finebaum suing employer Citadel for breach of contract is an example of why employment contracts should always be reviewed by the talent’s lawyer before being signed – regardless of what the employer prefers.  Employment situations can be complicated by addenda, bankruptcies and ownership changes and Weisman says this case certainly has its twists and turns.  Read his analysis of the case here.

Talk Host Martha Zoller Mulls Run for Congress.  WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia-based talk host Martha Zoller tells Roll Call she’s considering a run for U.S. Congress and will make a decision within a “couple of weeks.”  Population shifts are creating a new congressional district in Northern Georgia soon to be approved by the Georgia legislature and the new 9th district would be a very Republican district, according to Roll Call.  Zoller tells the publication, “I’ve been a fiscal conservative my whole career.  I’ve criticized Clinton budgets, Bush budgets and Obama budgets…I believe the tea party people that have been elected to Congress have represented their districts well and they need reinforcements.  That’s why I’m considering this.”  Zoller is heard throughout Georgia via the Georgia News Network.

Teresa Strasser Exits the KABC, Los Angeles Morning Show.  LARadio’s Don Barrett reports Teresa Strasser has left the Peter Tilden morning show at Citadel’s KABC, Los Angeles.  Barrett quotes KABC program director Jack Silver stating Strasser chose not to renew her contract with the station in order to focus on her TV, commercial voiceover and camera work.  Strasser – known for her television work on TLC’s “While You Were Out,” her co-host position on the Adam Carolla radio show and her book Exploiting My Baby (NAL Trade 2011), became part of the Peter Tilden program in August of 2010.

 

Chicago Talk Radio Personality Cisco Cotto Considers Starting New Church.  Cotto most recently hosted the midday show at WLS, Chicago and served on crosstown WIND’s morning show prior to that.  He was replaced at WLS by Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft earlier this summer and is now thinking about starting a non-denominational church in his Chicago suburb of Oak Park.  Cotto studied at the Moody Bible Institute and tells the Chicago Tribune he’s been working with the Evangelical Free Church of America to start the church and has filed the paper work for getting non-profit, tax-exempt status.  Will his radio past complicate things?  Cotto says, “I think I am going to be labeled ‘that guy who used to be the conservative talk show host,’ and that is going to be a significant barrier.”

2012 Presidential Race, Middle East Turmoil, Obama Economic Policy and Irene Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/31).  According to ongoing research from TALKERS, the 2012 presidential race, political unrest in the Middle East, President Obama’s economic policy and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (8/31).