Drew Steele to Exit Mornings on ‘92.5 FOX News’ in Fort Myers/Naples. Current WFSX, Estero, Florida (Fort Myers/Naples market) morning personality Drew Steele is leaving Sun Broadcasting’s news/talk station to join KSL-TV, Salt Lake City. The News/Press reports that station management is talking to former morning show host – and former U.S. Rep. – Trey Radel, among others, about the position. Radel left the morning show host position at the station in 2012 to successfully run for congress in Florida’s 19th District. However, he resigned from the seat in January of 2014 after a cocaine possession conviction in late 2013. Station manager Jim Schwartzel tells the News/Press they have talked with Radel as well as other candidates about the open position.
Bill Michaels Upped to OM for Cumulus Toledo Cluster. Programmer Bill Michaels – responsible for leading classic rock WXKR, sports talk WLQR “106.5 The Ticket,” talk WTOD-AM, and alternative WQQO-HD2/W264AK – is promoted to operations manager for Cumulus Media’s Toledo cluster and Monroe, Michigan property country WMIM “98.3 NASH Icon.” The cluster also includes country WKKO “K100” and classic hits WRQN. This is a newly created position and in addition to his new responsibilities, Michaels will continue to program WXKR, “100.7 The Zone,” WLQR and WTOD as well as host the WXKR midday show from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Cumulus RVP and market manager Andy Stuart says, “Bill and I have worked together for a long time and while I am quite certain that he has the experience, intuition and leadership skills necessary to lead our stations to greatness, I’m also quite certain he can handle my penchant for emailing and texting him at 3:00 am.”
Dan Conry Assumes PM Drive on ‘Power Talk 1360/1280’ in Modesto/Stockton. Talk show host Dan Conry joins iHeartMedia’s news/talk simulcast KFIV, Modesto and KWSX, Stockton – “Power Talk 1360/1280” for the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show. Conry says, “I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity with iHeartMedia in the Modesto/Stockton market. I’m excited to work with this team to take ‘Power Talk’ to the next level and I am very grateful to the leadership in Milwaukee, Madison and Sacramento talk radio for allowing me to sit in for some of the best talk talent in the country and keeping my show in the game.”
Dallas Cop Slayings Aftermath, The Presidential Race, Hillary Clinton Email Case, Michigan Bailiffs Slain, and NBA’s Tim Duncan Retires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/11). The aftermath of the slayings of five Dallas police officers and the deaths of two black men at the hands of police in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis; the activities of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; the GOP’s move to investigate whether Hillary Clinton lied to the FBI about the email issue; two Michigan bailiffs are slain in a courthouse; and NBA great Tim Duncan announces his retirement were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Odds & Sods. This Thursday, ESPN is covering the Celebration of Life service honoring legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. The 7:00 pm ET broadcast will also be covered by ESPN Radio’s Ryan McGee, co-host of “Marty & McGee.”…..KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh “SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan” is holding its 2016 Fan Kickoff to the PNC Champions Club at Heinz Field on September 8. The CBS RADIO station’s event allows fans to take part in an exclusive evening that includes appetizers, cocktails, desserts, and unique cigars – this year at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ home stadium. It’s also a fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society via live and silent auctions featuring sports memorabilia, experiences and other items…..SRN Broadcasting (InternetFM.com,) and David Rusch Media (HomeImprovementUSA.net,) are launching the Home Improvement USA Radio Network that will air a variety of programs and features from across the country on a 24/7 basis. It will serve as a clearinghouse for programming for other terrestrial or Internet radio stations. Programming will center on home improvement, lawn and garden, energy efficiency, sustainable living, and product safety, among others…..“Motley Fool Money” with Chris Hill adds two New Hampshire affiliates to its roster: WNNH-FM, Concord and WTSN, Dover/Portsmouth…..SiriusXM is presenting live coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Beginning Monday, July 18 for the Republican National Convention and Monday, July 25 for the Democratic National Convention, SiriusXM will transform its non-partisan P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of The United States) channel into “Convention Radio” featuring uninterrupted, gavel-to-gavel coverage from the convention floor. P.O.T.U.S channel hosts including Tim Farley, Michael Smerconish, Julie Mason, Michael Steele, and Rick Ungar will broadcast from each convention city, with White House correspondent Jared Rizzi reporting live from the convention floor.
Ronn Owens Move from KGO to KSFO the Tip of Iceberg of Changes at Cumulus San Francisco. The company has not issued an official statement about the changes other than to announce KGO legend Ronn Owens’ move from late mornings there to the afternoon drive slot at sister KSFO, effective Monday (4/4). But there is much more going on, including what is reported be the dismissal of the majority of the news staff at KGO. One can assume the expense of KGO’s news department was one of the big reasons for the new programming direction. Nielsen Audio’s February PPM ratings saw CBS RADIO’s all-news KCBS-AM finish #1 with a 6.2 share (6+) compared to KGO’s 1.8 share. There are more changes soon to be announced as Cumulus re-builds KGO and the addition of KSTE, Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty to the KGO morning slot is one. The duo is moving from iHeartMedia’s crosstown KKSF, San Francisco where it’s been heard for the past few years. On the music side, Cumulus also let the air staff at triple A KFOG go, and is running without jocks as that station announces it is entering a “transformational time.” The station is expected to remain some sort of rock outlet.
Stephanie Miller to Assume Mornings at KKSF; Station Positioned as Progressive Talker. With the departure of Armstrong & Getty from the morning daypart at iHeartMedia’s KKSF, San Francisco “Talk 910” for mornings at KGO, the company announces WYD Media-syndicated Stephanie Miller is the new morning drive personality. Speaking about the changes, iHM San Francisco SVP of programming Don Parker says, “The Bay Area is arguably the most progressive market in the nation. This move aligns ‘Talk 910’ with the predominant sentiment of the region in all prime dayparts, delivering compelling progressive or lifestyle content throughout the day.” The new lineup is: Stephanie Miller from 6:00 am to 10:00 am, Gil Gross from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, Cory (Callewaert) and Joel (Riddell) from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, “The Doghouse with JV & Elvis” (a.k.a. Jeff Vandergrift and Dan Lay) from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Los Angeles-based Mo’ Kelly from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Mo’ Kelly, a.k.a. Morris W. O’Kelly, hosts on weekends at iHeartMedia’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles where he’s heard from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Presidential Race Tops the Talkers TenTM for Week of March 28-April 1. The activities of the candidates for president were once again the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the aftermath of the Brussels and Pakistan terror attacks. Coming in at #3 was the battle against Islamic State followed by European migrant troubles at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
PPM Analysis: News/Talk. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents an analysis of the performances of news/talk-formatted stations in PPM markets based on Nielsen Audio’s February 2016 survey. Yesterday, we published a report on the all-news format. IN this report, see how news/talk stations have progressed since the beginning of the presidential primary season last February. Last month, there were 15 news/talk outlets that ranked in the top 5 (6+) in their respective markets – four ranked #1: WSB-AM, Atlanta; WLW, Cincinnati; KSL, Salt Lake City; and WKXW, Trenton (Middlesex-Somerset-Union market). See charts showing fluctuations from February 2015, market share over the past six surveys, and comparing all-news and news/talk stations. Read it here.
’97.1 The Fan’ in Columbus Adds Local Show with Tim Hall & Beanie Wells. Columbus sports talker WBNS “97.1 The Fan” is moving former Ohio State and NFL running back Beanie Wells (right) into daylight to co-host the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show with Tim Hall (left). The duo had been hosting “The Buckeye Show,” airing evenings from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Program director Jay Taylor tells WBNS-TV, “This is a great opportunity for our loyal and craving audience for get more local sports talk. It also brings another exciting layer to our team on the highest-rated ESPN affiliate in the country.”
New Early Morning Show Makes ESPN Radio Live 24 Hours on Weekdays. Monday’s launch of “First and Last with Lundberg & Golic Jr.” means the ESPN Radio schedule will be live round the clock on weekdays. The 4:00 am to 6:00 am show co-hosted by Robin Lundberg and Mike Golic Jr. will “recap the previous night’s highlights and delve into the coming day’s stories and will be preceded by a two-hour edition of ‘SportsCenter AllNight’ (2:00 am to 4:00 am).” ESPN audio network content VP David Roberts says, “We are constantly looking for new, aggressive ways of serving sports fans. Providing sports talk and information live, around the clock during the week underscores our commitment to offering our listeners another opportunity to engage with our network through a strong opinion-based program. Robin Lundberg and Mike Golic Jr. will set the table perfectly for our flagship franchise, ‘Mike and Mike.’”
FOX News Radio to Launch Willie Robertson Podcast. Reality television star Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame is the host of a new podcast series debuting on Monday (4/4). FOX News Radio says the weekly program will focus on faith and family along with occasional celebrity guest interviews. Robertson will also serve as a FOX News contributor. In conjunction with his role as CEO of Duck Commander, Robertson acts as both a television personality and executive producer for A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” and The Outdoor Channel’s “Buck Commander.” He has also co-written a New York Times bestseller titled, The Duck Commander Family with his wife, Korie Robertson.
Little Rises to President of Phoenix Market for iHeartMedia. Assuming the position left briefly vacant by Scott Hopeck after he was promoted to the same post at the New York City cluster is Linda Little. She moves up from her SVP of sales position with the station group. Prior to that, she was GSM for adult contemporary KESZ and country KNIX. She also served as integrated media business development manager. She comments, “I have had the privilege of building my media career in Phoenix and am very fortunate to have worked for a company that has given me many opportunities to grow while constantly evolving with the industry.” In this position she’ll oversee news/talk KFYI, talk KOY, and sports talk KGME.
Schreiber Promoted at Mercury Radio Arts. Moving up from his head of strategy and special projects position with Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts to president of the company is Jonathan Schreiber. In this new post, Schreiber will oversee Mercury’s divisions including digital, radio and publishing and its continued growth in film, television and “digital content across different genres beyond politics and current events.” The company says Schreiber will continue to serve as an advisor to TheBlaze, the company’s news, information and entertainment network led by CEO Betsy Morgan. Schreiber has an 18-year pedigree in the tech, mobile and entertainment businesses. Beck says, “I personally recruited Jonathan to help take our company to the next level. Since joining Mercury, he has played an integral role in both the strategy and execution at Mercury Radio Arts and my overall business philosophy and approach. He is a trusted advisor and this title reflects the leadership position he has and will continue to assume in this new era for both me and our business.
Industry Mourns Don Quayle. The first president of National Public Radio (NPR) has died: Don Quayle was 84 years old. NPR’s Susan Stamberg recalls that Quayle gave her her first radio job. “It was the early-1960s and he was head of the Educational Radio Network – the precursor of NPR – a little network of 12 east coast stations that developed a daily drive-time news show. He hired me to help produce it. When this national network arose, he was an obvious choice to run it. Don was principled, decent, and astute. In the euphoric tumult of our first years, he navigated the choppy seas of building a public radio system. He knew NPR had to serve our listeners, above the competing needs of stations, boards, and funders.” The program to which Stamberg alludes, of course, is “All Things Considered,” which Quayle debuted on NPR in 1971. He headed the network – which now has more than 900 member stations – from 1970 to 1973. Prior to that (1960 – 1962), Quayle managed Boston public outlet WGBH. Five years ago, the Logan, Utah native received an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his “significant contributions” to public broadcasting from his alma mater, Utah State University.
Premiere and TheBlaze to Present Memorial Day Special. The annual Memorial Day radio special produced by Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Radio Network returns in 2015 with Premiere Networks handling affiliate relations. The three-hour program – titled “Reflections from a Grateful Nation” – features the hosts, writers and editors of TheBlaze and TheBlaze.com, including: Doc Thompson, Skip LaCombe, Buck Sexton, Jay Severin, Chris Salcedo, Mike Broomhead and others. In addition to special appearances by award-winning actor Gary Sinise, “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak and members of the military, listeners will hear personal stories and conversations about the meaning of the holiday in this special tribute to those who fought and gave their lives to defend America’s freedom. It’s available to news/talk stations for airing from May 23-25. Interested stations can phone Premiere at 818-377-5300.
Michael Harrison Interviews Boston Herald Editor-in-Chief Joe Sciacca on Weekly Podcast, ‘Up Close and Far Out.’ In a candid and informative interview on the popular weekly podcast “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” Boston Herald editor-in-chief Joe Sciacca discusses his views on a wide variety of media-related topics that include, among others: the state of the newspaper industry in a changing media landscape; the impact of the digital era on journalism; and his experience in being involved with his newspaper’s pioneering effort in online news/talk/sports radio broadcasting – Boston Herald Radio. During the extensive conversation, Sciacca – a 37-year veteran of the newspaper business as a reporter, columnist and editor — tells TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison that the biggest challenge facing journalists in the newspaper business today is “keeping their print product relevant.” He tells Harrison, “I believe this is the greatest time to be leading a news organization in America even though resources are challenging and newspapers are experiencing difficult times in terms of revenue. There really is a great window of opportunity to be creative – to reinvent our business. So when I became editor five years ago after being at the Herald for 32 years, I embraced the challenge because even though I knew the road was going to be difficult to navigate, we have done some incredible things over the last five years and we’ve really transformed what was purely a print organization into a multimedia news organization.” This transformation, of course, includes the launch of Boston Herald Radio – the newspaper’s online talk station that produces 11 hours of original, live content every weekday from a studio located right next to the newspaper’s newsroom. It has proven to be a major source of breaking stories, not only for Boston-area news consumers, but for the media across the country and around the world. Harrison and Sciacca delve into media theory and discuss differences in the psychology between reading stories online as opposed to the printed page. They also analyze the impact of video cameras inside a radio studio and the differences between what Harrison describes as “great radio or bad television.” Sciacca discusses the Boston Herald’s commitment to getting the stories right, rather than just being first – a pressure amplified by the competition generated by the 24 hour non-stop, digital news cycle and he recalls how coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing was particularly challenging because of all the false information that was out there in the general news media’s frenzy to stay on top of the breaking story during its early hours and days. Harrison describes his theories about the emergence of what he calls “stickless” radio broadcasting (meaning radio without the traditional license, transmitter and tower) and the development of the online “media station” in the 21st century. To hear the entirety of this fascinating conversation between two seasoned, front-line media visionaries, please click here, or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” box in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Four More Smartphone Models Can Have FM Chip Activated Via Clip Interactive. According to Clip Interactive, more consumers can exercise the FM chip listening option as it has expanded the phones that can use its technology to include the HTC One M9, HTC Desire 610, Sharp Aquos Crystal and LG G3. Clip Interactive says its application technology connects to this chip, allowing the listener to tune into local stations without having to stream, which depletes data allowances and consumes more battery life. FM chip activation through Clip Interactive mobile apps allows stations to optimize listening options for users. Clip Interactive chief technology officer Peter Shoebridge says, “Activating the FM chip on more devices benefits the listener as they can reduce data usage and enjoy the real-time broadcast. The industry can expect more announcements about additional devices in the coming weeks as we continue our mission to provide interactive radio to the masses.”
Odds & Sods. Appearing in the KFAQ, Tulsa studios this morning is a crew from “Good Morning America” as morning host Pat Campbell interviews attorney Clark Brewster. Reserve Sheriff Deputy Robert Bates hired Brewster to represent him in the case of the fatal shooting of Eric Harris that took place during a drug sting. Bates has been cleared by the FBI of violating Harris’ civil rights but faces a second-degree manslaughter charge for accidently using his pistol instead of a taser on Harris. Pat Campbell tells TALKERS magazine, “Our station has been ground zero for many exclusives on this story, including the only sit-down interview with Sheriff Stanley Glanz. KFAQ news director Tami Marler has been all over this since day one, getting scoops and guests other outlets can’t secure.”…..FOX Sports Radio is presenting “FOX Sports Live 2015 NFL Draftcast” – a multi-platform NFL draft special featuring Jay Glazer, Joel Klatt, Peter Schrager, Mike Garafolo and Don Bell in Chicago. It will air on the network’s more than 400 affiliates nationwide beginning at 8:00 pm ET on Thursday, April 30…..The last Buckley Broadcasting property – KIDD-AM, Monterey, California – has been sold to Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson Broadcasters for $50,000. Buckley took KIDD-AM dark a few months ago and recently tore down its aging tower structure.
ISIS Violence, Iran Nuclear Program Controversy/U.S. Naval Presence in Yemen, 2016 Presidential Prospects, Police Shootings Controversies, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/20). The reports of ISIS executing Christians; the controversy about negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and the United States’ naval presence in the waters off Yemen; the potential candidates for president in 2016; the cases of police shooting citizens in Baltimore, Tulsa and elsewhere; and the weekend’s Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Entercom Names Tara Servatius and Vince Coakley to Morning Radio Posts on ‘WORD 106.3’ in Greenville. At Entercom’s WYRD, Greenville, South Carolina “WORD 106.3,” new morning programming is announced that includes Tara Servatius hosting “The Tara Show” from 6:00 am to 10:00 am followed by Vince Coakley taking over the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show. The new programming begins on Monday, December 8. Entercom Greenville VP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “We are energizing morning radio with the launch of these vibrant, live, and local talk shows. Both Tara and Vince will deliver fresh, and thought-provoking commentary on the issues and news our community cares about most. We are excited about fans joining in the on-air conversation on the only Upstate local news/talk station.” Servatius was most recently with Cumulus Media’s WTMA, Charleston, South Carolina. She also worked at Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte. Coakley – also a WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte alum – had been hosting a Sunday afternoon program on “WORD 106.3.” Longtime WYRD personality Russ Cassell – host of the 8:00 am to 12:00 noon program – passed away in October, prompting changes in the morning lineup.
Tom Becka Exits NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha. Two and a half years after joining NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha, Tom Becka announces his contract with the station has not been renewed. Becka posted a podcast on his TomBecka.com site explaining his exit from the station. He tells TALKERS it wasn’t too shocking as he’d suspected his deal was not going to be renewed. As for KOIL, the station’s GM, Andy Ruback, tells the Omaha World-Herald they’ll announce permanent plans for the afternoon drive daypart in the near future. In the interim, the station is airing TRN’s Sam Sorbo program. Tom Becka can be reached at email@example.com.
Michael Smerconish Options Novel Talk to Warner Bros. The novel published by SiriusXM personality Michael Smerconish about a talk radio host acting out a stereotypical neo-conservative philosophy on the air despite his own convictions in order to be successful,has been optioned to Warner Brothers to become a TV show. Smerconish, who exited AM/FM radio for satellite after a career that included local radio on WPHT, Philadelphia and national syndication via Compass Media Networks, tells Politico that he’s excited about the opportunity. “Like anyone who’s ever written a novel, as I wrote it I envisioned it on the screen. Of course in most cases that doesn’t come to pass and now this looks like it will, and I couldn’t be more excited. I think the story lends itself to TV beautifully. In the world of ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Alpha House,’ I can definitely see ‘Talk’ on a television screen.” Many talk radio practitioners bristle at the implication that conservative talk hosts don’t really believe what they portray on the radio, but just do it because they think that’s what the industry wants. A number of talk professionals also took umbrage with Smerconish’s parting shots at the industry as he left AM/FM for satellite, specifically with his public statements accusing the business of requiring hosts to adhere to an ideologically driven style of talk radio instead of one that addresses issues from multiple perspectives.
Your New PD Gig: D.I.Y. with O.P.M. In a column published today (12/5) in TALKERS, consultant Holland Cooke explains an opportunity that might be perfect for some sales-minded programmers looking to work independently on other people’s radio signals. He’s talking about programming weekend content on a brokered basis. He says, “Parlay your assets into Do It Yourself radio. I’m not talking about podcasting-instead. I’m talking about renting transmitter time. All that many news/talk stations ask of weekend talent is pay-for-play, so consider pay-and-program.” Read more from Holland Cooke here.
Beasley Drops Sports on FM in Tampa. The FM sports talker that CBS RADIO brought to Tampa is gone – playing Christmas music until a new format debuts on January 5. Among Those out with the change at WHFS-FM “98.7 The Fan” are sports talk personalities Anthony “Booger” McFarland, Marc Ryan, Kirk McEwen, Jesse Kage, and Justin Pawlowski. Beasley is still operating WHFS-AM as a sports talker using CBS Sports Radio Network programming.
Odds & Sods. A new podcast from Sports USA featuring former super agent Tom Reich will launch. According to Sports USA president Bob Moore, “Tom and brother Sam Reich bring integrity, respect, experience and a fresh perspective to the podcast and will talk about past stories and current events in their lives and the world of sports.”…..The PAC 5 final game – the prep championship between St. John Bosco and Corona Centennial – will air on LAA 1 LLC-owned KLAA, Anaheim tomorrow (12/6) at 8:00 pm PT. The Emmy-award winning broadcast team of Kevin Turner and Bill Cunerty will call the live play-by-play. The game is being broadcast on the radio for the sixth year in a row on KLAA – home of the Los Angeles Angels and Anaheim Ducks. Fox Sports’ Fred Salas will join the team for the broadcast handling sideline reports and postgame interviews.
Ferguson Aftermath Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of December 1-5. The events that have followed the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown – including Charles Barkley’s comments and whether to charge Brown’s stepfather Louis Head for inciting a riot – were the top stories on news/talk radio during the week. Following at #2 was the NYC choke hold case tied with the police shooting death of 12-year-old Cleveland youth Tamir Rice. At #3 was the amnesty issue followed by the 2016 presidential candidates at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Sean Hannity Broadcasts from Israel. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar (and Fox News Channel prime time personality) Sean Hannity broadcasts his Premiere Networks-syndicated radio program from a radio station in Tel Aviv (left) while touring Israel to report on the conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hannity will host his show from Israel again today (8/5) before returning to the United States. Premiere reports that on his program Hannity has been reporting on numerous aspects of the conflict including “the Iron Dome anti-missile technology protecting the country from militant rockets, the Hamas tunnels used to capture and kill Israelis, what life is like there under constant threat, and more.” At right, Hannity (center, in denim) is pictured standing on a military-style bulldozer interviewing Israeli troops near the Gaza border.
Dr. Joy Browne Returns to the Air in NYC. Formerly based at crosstown WOR, New York (and syndicated from Buckley Broadcasting’s old WOR Radio Network for many years), Dr. Joy Browne is now heard in New York again via Salem Communications WNYM, “AM 970 The Answer.” WNYM VP and general manager Jerry Crowley says, “Joy is a consummate radio pro. Her show was consistently one of the most talked about shows on WOR. Her voice was prematurely silenced across the street, as was John Gambling’s, and it is my pleasure to allow her many fans to find her again.” Browne’s show is currently syndicated via Radio America. She comments, “I am beyond thrilled to be back on the air in New York and working with John Gambling and Jerry Crowley and Lou Dobbs again makes it feel like coming home. We have been besieged by listeners who wanted to know where I went and how to find me, and now they will know.” Salem Communications market VP Phil Boyce adds, “The talk radio format is nothing without superstars who have built that unique bond with their audience. Not all stations understand that anymore, so we are able to make that happen on our New York stations. The addition of Joy Browne proves that.”
Trimmer to Program WRVA and WRNL, Richmond. Moving from Clear Channel’s Rochester, New York cluster where he programmed news/talk WHAM and sports talker WHTK “Sports 1280,” is Aaron Trimmer who heads south to the company’s Richmond, Virginia station group to serve as director of programming for news/talk WRVA and sports talk WRNL-AM. Trimmer – a Richmond native – takes over for PD Jimmy Barrett who now focuses on his WRVA morning drive hosting responsibilities.
Entercom Q2 Revenue Dips 1%. Considering the recent Q2 financial reports by some other broadcasters, the 1% drop in net revenue could be considered a plus. Entercom’s revenue was $100.2 million during the second quarter of 2014. The company reported that free cash flow decreased 21% to $15 million. Entercom CEO David Field states, “Revenue declined 1% from the prior year as results were impacted by sluggish business conditions during the quarter. Operationally, we continue to focus on developing our powerful local brands, content and digital capabilities and building our new SmartReach Digital division. These efforts are enhancing our value to listeners and customers and raising our growth potential. Broadcast radio fundamentals are strong with growing, massive audience reach and a superior ROI to competitive forms of media.” Entercom reduced its outstanding debt by $4.1 million (net of cash) during the quarter. As of June 30, 2014, the company had $7.1 million in cash and $489.8 million of senior debt and senior notes.
Pandora Eyeing Talk and Sports Formats. In an interview with Sonali Basak for Bloomberg, Pandora CFO Michael Herring hints the company is planning to add talk and sports talk content to its service, though the type of content and when it might appear on Pandora is not known at this time. Herring points to the popularity of talk and sports by commuters in autos as the reason for his company’s interest in the formats. “Music’s an important piece of radio listening in the car, but if there’s a place where spoken word is also equally, and more important really, it’s in the car…As the car becomes more important, thinking about other types of content that are important for the car becomes more critical. That’s why Sirius spends so much money on Howard Stern, sports and news.” Basak reports that Pandora is currently available in about 33% of cars while SiriusXM can be accessed in about 71% of autos. Usage by Pandora listeners in cars rose from about 2.5 million people during the second quarter of 2013 to about 7 million during the second quarter of 2014. Read the entire Bloomberg piece here.
Hofstra University’s WRHU Named College Station of the Year. The student-operated station WRHU, Hempstead, New York “88.7 FM Radio Hofstra University” has been named the best college station in the country, according to The Princeton Review. The publication rates colleges in America and, as part of that, also ranks college radio stations. Hofstra University’s WRHU came in #1 this year after being ranked #5 last year. The station is the flagship radio outlet for the NHL’s New York Islanders since 2010 and is the first and only college radio station to have an exclusive broadcasting agreement with a professional sports team. WRHU is a finalist for a prestigious 2014 Marconi Radio Award from the NAB as the top non-commercial station in the country. The station’s reporters have won top honors from the New York Associated Press Association, the Press Club of Long Island, the Society of Professional Journalists and New York Women in Communications. TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison, who began his illustrious radio career on WRHU (when it was still using the call letters WVHC) and is a charter inductee of the WRHU Hall of Fame, states, “I am so proud of this great radio station’s progress and accomplishments over the years since I first broadcast there in 1967. This ranking is a tribute to the fantastic faculty staff running the operation and to the entire Communications Department at Hofstra which, in my opinion, is second to none in American academia.” Harrison sits on the Hofstra University Department of Communication advisory board.
KMG Networks’ Krantz to Work with Sun Broadcast Group. A new partnership struck by Sun Broadcast Group and Krantz Media Group/KMG Networks will have KMG president and CEO Gary Krantz joining SBG as strategic advisor. The companies say that “together, Sun and KMG will focus on new initiatives in content, digital, and services to superserve media partners in the audio entertainment sector. These exciting new opportunities will be separate initiatives from existing and planned partnerships that Sun and KMG are involved with, respectively.” SBG CEO Jason Bailey adds, “Gary and I have known each other for years and have always shared the same exciting vision for this industry. With all that’s going on in the network radio space there are countless opportunities to make a real difference with amazing program partners who share our passion for change. I’m stoked to work more closely with KMG on a professional basis in advancing our mission to make radio an experience for a whole new generation.”
Round One of July PPM Data Released. The first of four rounds of July 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The survey period was June 19 through July 16. 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 at RadioInfo.com here.
Odds & Sods. Talk radio personality Bradlee Dean, host of the “Sons of Liberty” syndicated radio series, has been honored with the Education Liberty Award from the Education Liberty Coalition for his appearances on their behalf at some 350 high schools in 24 states nationwide. Among the goals which Dean has been promoting is ELC’s campaign for students to study at their own instructional level and for parents to make school choices for their children. Dean’s most recent stop was in Marietta, Georgia…..Genesis Communications‘ sports platform – Sports Talk Florida – is providing “exclusive coverage” of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp complete with live practice updates, video interviews, and behind-the-scenes developments with reporters Jenna Laine and Amanda Borges. Genesis says that its digital platform, along with the affiliated radio stations WHOO, Orlando and WHBO, Tampa, are keeping Bucs fans informed. The company says, “With a plethora of exclusive photos, written articles and video content covering the Buccaneers, Sports Talk Florida leads the way in merging radio, web-based media, mobile sharing and social media.”
Israel-Hamas Violence, ISIS Iraq Campaign, Ebola Outbreak Scare, Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Race, Immigration Reform/Southwest Border Crisis, Russian Ukraine Aggression, and James Brady Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/4). The ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip; the continuing campaign by ISIS to create a caliphate in Iraq and Syria; the threat of the Ebola virus as a possible pandemic; the looming mid-term elections and the possible candidates for president in 2016; the battle in Washington over immigration policies and the border crisis in the Southwest; Russia’s support of Ukrainian rebels and the probe of the downing of Flight 17; and the death of Reagan Administration Press Secretary and anti-gun crusader James Brady were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Buckley to Sell Connecticut Stations to Connoisseur. Led by Hartford classic hits outlet WDRC-FM, the Connecticut stations Buckley Broadcasting is selling to Connoisseur Media also includes talk WDRC-AM and its simulcast AMs WMMW, Meriden; WSNG, Torrington; and WWCO, Waterbury. The price on this deal is not being made public yet. Buckley is being represented by Richard A. Foreman Associates. In a memo to staff, Buckley president and CEO Joe Bilotta says, “After much reflection, the Board of Trustees has decided that the reality of the evolving competitive landscape, and our sincere desire to see this historic brand continue, are cause for a change in the ownership of our Connecticut properties. Our decision to negotiate with, and eventually sell WDRC-AM/FM to Connoisseur, gives our audience, advertisers, and employees access to the considerable resources of this multi-dimensional media and entertainment company. For over half of a century Buckley Broadcasting has been the steward of these great call letters and there is not a better company than Connoisseur to ensure the continued and accelerated future success of the WDRC brand.”
Fox Sports and Premiere Networks Renew FSRN Deal. The relationship between Clear Channel subsidiary Premiere Networks and Fox Sports goes back to August of 2000 when the two companies agreed to work together to debut the Fox Sports Radio Network. Now, almost 14 years later, the two companies agree to a long-term extension of the partnership. Premiere Networks will continue to produce and distribute Fox Sports Radio Network to its radio affiliates. Additionally, “Premiere Networks and Fox Sports will continue working together across multiple platforms to synchronize the audio, digital, online and television assets of Fox Sports, FOXSports.com and Fox Sports Radio, further extending the reach, visibility and engagement of these brands with millions of consumers. Additionally, with the recently-launched 24-hour television network Fox Sports 1, the radio and television divisions will work closely to increase cross-promotional opportunities and highlight Fox Sports’ established team of top insiders, analysts and personalities.”
Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Report: Smartphone Use Rising, AM/FM Use Decreasing. The numbers are nothing astronomical with regard to the decline in use of AM/FM radio, but they show a trend. According to the March 2014 Nielsen Cross-Platform Report, the hours of use per day for adults 18+ for AM/FM radio have dropped from 2:53 minutes to 2:46 minutes from the fourth quarter of 2011 through the fourth quarter of 2013. At the same time, use of smartphones has risen from :48 minutes per day to 1:07 minutes per day over the same three-year period. Again, this is not a dramatic change but it certainly shows that the use of smartphones continues to rise for adults and the use of the AM/FM radio is declining. You can check out the report here.
And Speaking of Smartphones…The increase in usage of smartphones by Americans has risen to 61% (persons 12+), according to Edison Research and Triton Digital – the two companies presenting their “Infinite Dial 2014” webinar today at 2:00 pm ET. Edison releases this little teaser in advance of today’s event indicating that in 2009 just 10% of Americans owned smartphones. That number climbed to 44% in 2012 and has soared to 61% in 2014 and Edison estimates that means about 160 million people in raw numbers.
Just a Few Slots Left at FAIR’s ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ Radio Row. The topic of immigration reform continues to be a much-discussed one on news/talk radio with related legislation brewing in Congress. The Federation for American Immigration Reform-sponsored “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row taking place April 9 and 10 in Washington, DC is nearing a full slate. FAIR communications director Bob Dane tells TALKERS magazine, “It’s ‘last call’ for one broadcast booth remaining in morning drive, one in afternoon drive, and two in midday.” Broadcast slots are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested hosts should contact Dane 202-328-7004 ASAP to discuss details. Dane says, “Attendees enjoy Capitol Hill access to lawmakers, immigration activists, experts and law enforcement working in tandem to secure our borders and to enforce the rule of law.”
‘Radio Guy’ Jim Lange Remembered. When Jim Lange passed away last week at age 81, he was remembered by most for his role as host of television’s “The Dating Game.” But as TALKERS managing editor and bureau chief Mike Kinosian writes, “Jim Lange was one of the finest ambassadors radio could ever hope to have.” A few years back, Kinosian did a profile of Lange and learned more about his radio career – including why he always kept a radio job even during the heyday of “The Dating Game” and his other TV game shows. He said that if the TV job failed, he always had radio. Lange told him, “I noticed that all the game show hosts were radio guys. They were hired because they could adlib. There is no script on a game show. You have rules, but that is it.” Read Mike Kinosian’s story about Jim Lange here.
Ukraine-Crimea Unrest/Obama vs. Putin, ObamaCare Criticism, MSNBC Programming Changes, Texas Primaries, U.S. Marijuana Policy, and Hillary in 2016 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/4). The crisis in the Ukraine and Crimea and criticism of President Obama’s stance against Russia’s Vladimir Putin; ongoing scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the cable news/talk wars and the performance of new MSNBC programs; Tuesday’s Texas primary elections; the changes in marijuana policy in the United States; and speculation that Hillary Clinton will emerge the the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Sports Talker Dan Sileo New AM Host at ‘The Mighty 1090’ in San Diego. Sports talk personality Dan Sileo – who’s been working at stations in Florida for the past several years – joins Broadcasting Corporation of the Americas-operated XEPRS, San Diego “The Mighty 1090” where he’s the new morning drive host beginning today (2/3). Sileo most recently was hosting a show at James Crystal Radio’s WMEN, West Palm Beach but was fired from that station in early November of 2013 after shooting off a controversial tweet. Sileo has also worked at Beasley’s WQAM, Miami and Clear Channel’s WDAE, Tampa. He takes over the morning show at “The Mighty 1090” from market pro Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton who will remain with the station in another capacity. Program director Mike Shepard says, “I am thrilled to welcome Dan to ‘San Diego’s Sports Leader, The Mighty 1090.’ Dan is a passionate, outspoken, engaging and incredibly knowledgeable sports radio personality. His track record of major market success is remarkable and Dan is a perfect addition to the Mighty 1090’s top-rated, all-star lineup.”
New Talk Station to Air in DC Market. The Laurel, Maryland-licensed WILC flips from Spanish music to a hybrid of talk and oldies. The ZGS-owned signal is being operated by Wallis Communications under an LMA and the new format debuts today (2/3). In a statement, the company says the program schedule is not complete but the station will be “libertarian and conservative talk radio.” Chief operating officer and general manager Bryan Berner says, “All of us at WILC and Wallis Communications look forward to serving the people of the region and bringing a common sense, fresh perspective to talk radio in the Washington, DC market.” Programming will include Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck, Wallis Communications’ “The Dr. K Show,” “The Capitol Hill Show with Tim Constantine” and WestwoodOne’s Dennis Miller. Overnights will showcase vintage radio as the digitally remastered Wolfman Jack will air.
Mike Gallagher Causes Stir with Hoffman Death Observations. Nationally syndicated talk show host Mike Gallagher’s observations in the aftermath of the untimely death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman caused such reaction that his post to his MikeOnline.com site logged more than 50,000 views and drew threats to him, his family and even his dog. Speaking about the suspected heroin overdose that took Hoffman’s life, Gallagher stated, “Another senseless death. This time, one of the greatest actors of our time. I wonder if he started with marijuana…If you want to get pot lovers mad, dare to even ask the question if an Oscar-winning movie star who is found dead in his bathroom with a needle stuck in his arm started with marijuana.” Gallagher has stood firm in his stance against the legalization of marijuana as some states move to legalize and decriminalize the drug.
To Get Listeners to Your Website, Don’t Threaten to Bore Them! Digital media consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller wonders why we tend to turn the marketing part of our brains off when we go “online.” We can write good, tempting ad copy for radio but all we’ve learned goes out the window when it comes to our websites. Miller says that one of the worst ways to get someone to your website is to offer them “all of the details” when they get there. Not very tempting is it? More details. Instead, put your marketing skills to work in the same way you would with a spot. “A good commercial will do a better job getting business through a client’s front door than a bad commercial will. It’s the exact same thing getting people to go from your broadcast to one of your digital platforms…or move from one digital platform to another. Opportunity is knocking.” Read Miller’s entire piece here.
Clear Channel Tweaks Lineup at WVOC, Columbia. The South Carolina news/talk station drops the early evening “Sports Talk” show syndicated by Learfield Sports that aired in afternoon drive and adds Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity for the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot. The “Sports Talk” program is hosted by Phil Kornblut, Kevin McCrarey and Tom Hayes. According to The State, Learfield’s “Sports Talk First Edition” – which aired on CC’s sister sports talk station WXBT “560 The Team” from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm – is also being replaced. A local sports talk show featuring former South Carolina footballer Rick Sanford will air in the time slot instead. Learfield tells the paper it is working to place the shows on new affiliates in the market.
Mike Francesa Fans (and a Few Critics) Gather for FrancesaCon in NYC. Sports talk pioneer Mike Francesa – afternoon drive host on CBS RADIO’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York – said after learning of the weekend event that the participants would probably be half fans, half critics. How the numbers came down is unclear but the fact that an estimated 400 gathered at an Upper East Side bar on Saturday (2/1) to celebrate, imitate and even mock Francesa, shows how big he is in New York. A piece by Jim Baumbach in Newsday tells the story but the short version is as follows: 23-year-old friends Michael Leboff and Ron Haraka came up with the idea of FrancesaCon as a gathering of Mike Francesa fans. Little did they know that not only would people show up in droves, but they came dressed as Francesa, carried the appropriate props (Diet Coke cans), and did some very good imitations of the man himself. Some even came dressed as Francesa’s longtime former partner Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and classic Francesa-Russo back-and-forths took place in the bar. Check out Baumbach’s story in Newsday here.
FCC Grants Tribune Cross-Ownership Waivers. The license renewals for several Tribune-owned television stations were being challenged by the United Church of Christ, the Media Alliance and the Teamsters. The commission handed down rulings on Friday that granted renewals for the licenses though it also granted the petition for reconsideration to the UCC and Media Alliance. The FCC also reaffirmed the permanent waiver for Tribune in the Chicago market where it owns the Chicago Tribune newspaper, WGN-TV, and WGN-AM. In making the decision, the commission ruled that “Given the ‘uniquely long-term symbiotic relationship between [Tribune’s] broadcast stations’ and the Chicago Tribune that provides a special benefit of continued cross-ownership, coupled with the slight cost to diversity in Chicago’s massive media market of continued cross-ownership, Tribune has in fact shown sufficiently ‘unique or special circumstances’ to justify the granting of a permanent waiver of the NBCO (newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership) Rule to its Chicago licensees.”
L&L Closes on Border Media Trust Stations. Seven Texas radio stations that were in the Border Media Trust are now owned by Larry Wilson’s L&L Broadcasting. The stations include San Antonio-licensed outlets news/talk KTSA, sports talk KZDC, adult hits KJXK “Jack 102.7 FM,” regional Mexican KLEY-FM, Jourdanton, regional Mexican KJAH-AM/FM, Pearsall, and CHR KTSM, Floresville. The station group cost L&L $31 million and puts the company into market #28.
Entercom Promotes Pat Paxton to President of Programming. Fifteen-year programming staffer Pat Paxton is promoted to president of programming for Entercom Communications Corp. Paxton has served as senior vice president of programming since 2001. He began his work with the company in 1999 as OM at the old AC WQSX “Star 93.7.” Entercom president and CEO David Field comments, “Pat has played a vital role in Entercom’s growth and development over his 15 years with the company. He is an energizing leader, a terrific strategist and a deeply knowledgeable programmer. We are truly fortunate to have him on our team.” Paxton says of the promotion, “The past 15 years with Entercom have been tremendously rewarding, both personally and professionally. Our entire Entercom team has worked tirelessly to create one of today’s most admired media companies, which has not happened accidentally. I am proud to have been part of this team and I look forward to continuing to help create the very best audio brands in the industry. Huge thanks to David Field for his vision and leadership that has allowed all of us at Entercom to thrive.”
WTAR, Norfolk Drops Comedy for News/Talk/Sports. The Sinclair-owned AM signal WTAR, Norfolk will drop the comedy format it is currently airing and flip to a hybrid talk/sports format that will feature “The Wall Street Journal This Morning” from 6:00 am to 9:00 am; Fox Sports Radio/DirecTV’s Dan Patrick from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; FSN’s “Jay Mohr Sports” 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm; and Cumulus Media Networks’ Michael Savage from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Tony Macrini, morning host at sister talk station WNIS made the announcement on January 20. General manager Lisa Sinclair says, “There’s always something new to talk about and AM 850 WTAR keeps you engaged, informed and always entertained.”
SiriusXM Opens Howard Stern Birthday Bash to Non-Subscribers. When the “Howard Stern Birthday Bash” begins at 4:00 pm ET on January 31 live from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, the world will be invited to the party as SiriusXM is opening its internet service at siriusxm.com to non-subscribers. The company says that this unprecedented access to Howard Stern’s live broadcast is a first for SiriusXM and Howard Stern. In addition to SiriusXM subscribers, anyone can stream “Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash,” an evening of unforgettable performances and special appearances from the biggest names in entertainment. The free stream will be available on compatible mobile devices as well as online through simple one-click listening; no need to download an app or enter credentials. Stern comments on the approaching broadcast to celebrate his 60th birthday. “I am honored by the number of performers who want to join me on stage, and the number of fans who want to get in. Now, thanks to SiriusXM, I can give the world access to this event for free through this special internet audio stream in addition to my fans listening on their satellite radios.” The event is being hosted by Jimmy Kimmel with guests including Louis C.K., David Letterman and Sarah Silverman, with musical performances by Jon Bon Jovi, John Fogerty, Steven Tyler and many others.
Hartel to Head Up L&L’s Columbia, South Carolina Group. The new SVP and market manager for L&L Broadcasting’s Columbia South Carolina cluster is Mike Hartel – who most recently served as vice president and general manager of Curtis Media Group’s WBBB, Raleigh. L&L CEO Bob Proffitt says of the move, “We had the huge benefit of having Bill McElveen step up as not only an in-market radio veteran, but to help us in the recruitment process to get the very best fit and talent to manage Columbia. Mike Hartel is a great fit for our Columbia cluster with his excellent track record, interactive focus, and competitive nature – a perfect addition to our growing company.” Hartel comments, “I love what Larry and Bob are creating and I’m thrilled to be a part of their team. There is no place I would rather be than with a company that is hyper-focused on using live and local radio to serve our community, our clients, and our employees.” The L&L Columbia cluster includes sports talk WOIC “ESPN Columbia 1230.”
NYMRAD Announces New Executive Committee. At the New York Market Radio Association (NYMRAD), the executive committee of the board of directors has some new additions and changes in titles: Felix Perez, general manager, Univision Radio New York, moves into the chairman slot replacing Clear Channel Music + Entertainment’s Joe Puglise who remains on the board of directors. Jennifer Donohue, director of sales, CBS RADIO New York, replaces Don Bouloukos as vice chairperson and Alex Cameron, SVP and market manager, Emmis New York, remains on the committee as secretary. NYMRAD executive director Deborah Beagan says, “I am very excited about working with Felix during this seamless transition of the executive committee. Felix has infused energy in his contributions to board meetings and under his leadership we will continue to develop initiatives that will advance radio in the vibrant New York marketplace.” Perez adds, “I welcome the opportunity to work with Deborah and our radio colleagues to advance the value of NYMRAD to its members and aggressively increasing the profile and revenue share of New York radio.”
Holiday 2013 PPM Data Released. The ratings for the Holiday 2013 PPM survey period are being released by Nielsen Audio. The first 12 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union are out and that data can be found at our sister publication RadioInfo.com right here. Additionally, TALKERS and RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian offers his “Ten Takeaways” from the first round of the Holiday PPM here.
Odds & Sods. KNX, Los Angeles announces the return of the “Ask the Mayor” program to its airwaves on January 29. The CBS RADIO all-newser states that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will be in the studio at 10:00 am when the show will be hosted by KNX 1070 news anchor Tom Haule and chief investigative reporter Charles Feldman and will “give Angelinos the opportunity to put the mayor in the hot seat.”…..Not so fast, KCAA, Lorma Linda, “Free Talk Live” has been accepting Bitcoins as payment for airtime since 2011. Yesterday, TALKERS reported the Fred Lundgren-owned SoCal station claims to be the first it knows of in the U.S. to accept the cryptocurrency for ad time, but Mark Edge of the independently syndicated “Free Talk Live” program tells TALKERS he and co-host Ian Freeman have been accepting Bitcoins for more than two years. He adds, “We take Litecoin, too.”…..Hoops fanatic and filmmaker Spike Lee is hosting the bi-weekly, “Spike Lee’s Best Seat in the House” program on SiriusXM’s NBA channel. The first show will air on January 30 from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Eastern Freeze/Western Drought, Sochi Olympics Security Concerns, Chris Christie Scandals Aftermath, ObamaCare Rollout Criticism, Andrew Cuomo Anti-Conservative Remarks, and Roe v. Wade Anniversary Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/21). The snow and cold weather affecting the East and the dry rainy season in the West leading to drought conditions there; concerns about security at the looming Sochi Winter Games; the effects of the recent scandals plaguing the administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; reaction to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s comments about conservative beliefs; and the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
KFI’s Internal Shuffling “Replaces” Limbaugh. Rather than bringing in another host to cover the gaping hole left by Rush Limbaugh, it looks like Clear Channel, Los Angeles talker KFI will adjust the times of some of its existing personalities. Morning talent Bill Handel will apparently get to sleep an extra hour, as he will handle 6:00 am – 10:00 am duties (from 5:00 am – 9:00 am), while Bill Carroll will adjust to 10:00 am – 2:00 pm from 12:00 noon – 3:00pm. In place of their 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm shift, afternoon drivers John & Ken will extend one more hour to 7:00 pm. Tim Conway Jr. remains at 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, with syndicated talent George Noory following until 5:00 am. As of today, Gary Hoffmann debuts the 5:00 am – 6:00 am “Wake-up Call.” These moves are necessitated owing to Limbaugh transitioning from powerhouse KFI to co-owned, newly re-branded KEIB “The Patriot” (formerly KTLK-AM).
Gann Going to San Antonio as WOAI – KTKR PD. Brian Gann is leaving Journal Broadcast Group Tulsa to program Clear Channel San Antonio news/talk WOAI and sports KTKR “The Ticket.” According to president and market manager Marlene Trevino, “We are very fortunate to have Brian join our team in San Antonio. He brings a wealth of experience to WOAI and KTKR and we look forward to the bright future ahead under his leadership.” Gann comments, “I am excited to have the opportunity to help lead WOAI and ‘The Ticket.’ There is a terrific team in place there and I am honored to be able to join them.” While in Tulsa, Gann was operations manager of adult hits KBEZ “Bob FM,” KFAQ “Tulsa’s Talk Radio,” CHR KHTT “K-Hits,” KVOO “Today’s Country Variety,” and classic country KXBL “Big Country.” He starts his San Antonio assignment in one week (1/30).
Mark Arum Gets Nightly Show at WSB, Atlanta. Traffic reporter Mark Arum is taking over the 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight daily show at Cox Media Atlanta’s news/talk WSB after handling weekend and fill-in roles at the station. This new gig comes in addition to his traffic reporter roles at WSB-TV, news/talk WSB-AM and hot AC WSB-FM “B98.5.” As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho, Arum replaces Adam Goldfein who exited the late show role at the end of 2013 for personal reasons. Arum tells Ho that he’s been wanting a daily show since his arrival at WSB in 1997. Cox Media did give him a chance to host a daily show at its Stamford and Norwalk, Connecticut stations back in 2008 and he says it provided “invaluable experience.”
Learfield’s Worsham, Boman, Heim Elevated to Senior Positions. Missouri-based Learfield Communications promotes Aaron Worsham, Tom Boman, and Jennifer Heim. Worsham advances from vice president to senior vice president of affiliate relations and operations; broadcast manager Boman is boosted to vice president of broadcast operations; and corporate controller Heim becomes vice president/corporate controller. Worsham and Boman manage the company’s sports operations division, which oversees all aspects related to broadcast talent and station relationships for Learfield Sports’ radio networks as part of its multimedia rights partnerships with university athletic programs. Senior vice president/chief content officer Joe Ferreira comments, “Aaron and Tom have exhibited outstanding leadership and execution skills throughout their tenure at Learfield Sports and have taken our industry-leading audio business to great heights. Producing and managing thousands of broadcasts annually for our 50-plus networks, key flagship and affiliate partners and digital distribution networks is a daunting task. These well-deserved promotions reflect growth and success in all areas.” Meanwhile, chief financial officer Matt Hupfeld states, “Jennifer is a true professional who has proven to be an excellent asset to Learfield. She is well deserving of assuming the vice president role and we know she will continue to do an outstanding job.” Worsham has been with Learfield since 1999. Prior to joining the company in 2006, Boman was a producer with the Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network and Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles. CPA Heim’s background includes being a financial manager for Brookstone and a senior auditor for several companies.
Michael Smerconish to Publish First Novel About Conservative Talk Show Host. The book is titled, Talk (Cider Mill Press 2014) and is due out in May. But as Michael Smerconish tells the Washington Post, “My highest purpose is to entertain…a lot of it is fake.” Still, readers of the book about a fictional conservative talk host from Florida who finds himself in the thick of a hotly contested presidential race, will probably find a lot of what transpires culled from the reality of the talk radio business in which Michael Smerconish has dwelt during his career. Now working at SiriusXM after years on AM/FM radio, Smerconish ruffled some feathers when he left for satellite radio saying, in effect, he felt the requirement talk hosts on AM/FM be easily pigeonholed was holding him, and the industry, back. Previews of the book indicate that while this is fiction, Smerconish just may be taking a few shots at the facet of the industry he left behind as he tells his story.
Opinion: Hang On A Minute, Bill. Weighing in on the Bill O’Reilly’s recent “promotion” for Pandora, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian observes: “On the positive side, Bill O’Reilly last week let known his partisanship for one particular iconic American vocal group on his Fox News Channel television program. Conversely, terrestrial music radio programmers just might remember certain comments he made should O’Reilly ever look to them to plug his next book or project on that platform. In an approximately 45-second “Tip of the Day” segment, the “O’Reilly Factor” host gave a thumbs-up to Pandora over terrestrial radio. “Do you like music,” he queried. “I do [and] there are plenty of free ways to get it. The easiest way is to turn on the radio.” So far, so good. Then O’Reilly said, “The problem with the radio is that for every good song there are three bad songs. So, you can hear [good songs] like The Beach Boys‘ ‘Help Me Rhonda,’ [and] ‘Fun, Fun, Fun.’ [Those are] good songs, but then you’ll hear ‘Hang on Sloopy’ – painful.” Off-camera laughter was audible as O’Reilly winced at the thought of The McCoys‘ song. His advice was to have his audience “check out” Pandora.com’s free website. In amazement, he remarked about the logistics of typing “the song you like and you get the song played to you. Then, you get other songs similar to it [so] you are basically creating your own radio station. Let me know what you think.” After having mentioned Pandora by name three times in under one minute, O’Reilly insisted he “had no interest in that website at all.” His motive was to tell his audience because, “I like you.” Not to nitpick the host, but his mention of “Help Me Rhonda” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” sounded like one run-on title, especially since he said, “That is a good song.” Moreover, he was only able to cite one “painful” tune, compared to two good ones. Whether or not by coincidence, the three specific titles O’Reilly mentioned were from the mid-1960s. We wonder if he has heard of YouTube yet.
Plans Underway for Ron Ruth Memorial Benefit. The event celebrating the life of Ron Ruth will take place next month (Tuesday, 2/25) at the New York Friars Club and is being organized by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) in conjunction with the Broadcasters Foundation. Actively arranging the festivities for their late broadcast colleague are The Friends of Ron Ruth Memorial Benefit Committee consisting of Erica Farber, Norm Feuer, George Hyde, Bill Moyes, Herb McCord, Jeff Smulyan, Jim Thompson, and Erle Younker. A portion of the proceeds from the $250 ticket price will be donated to the Ron Ruth Memorial Fund at the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Ruth was executive vice president of stations for the RAB for 19 years. He held sales manager positions for Unistar Radio Networks, as well as at the local level in markets such as New York (WOR-FM), Chicago (WNUS), Washington, DC (WGMS), and Buffalo (WYSL). Ruth left Unistar to join the Radio Advertising Bureau in 1992. Most recently, he was consulting the RAB. He died of a heart attack this past November 16 in Florida.
New York Festivals International Radio Competition Announces Call for Entries. Now through March 19, the New York Festivals is accepting entries for the 32nd annual “World’s Best Radio Programs” competition. This competition is unique in that entries are received from between 30 and 50 nations across the globe each year. Competition executive director Rose Anderson tells TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian that global scope is important, “One thing that is most important to us is that we make New York Festivals Radio Program Awards a destination for people all over the world who are creating radio that is interesting, innovative, and of very high quality.” Anderson adds that the grand jury members (judges) enjoy the high quality of radio they review. “They have consistently written comments that the quality of the entries is fantastic. People are entering material in drama, news, documentaries, talk, and music that continues to make new ways of telling stories. We have had entries from Radio Free Asia; from folks on the scene who described the riots in Cairo; and people from Romania who submitted amazing audio of drama.” With 130 headings, the scope of the competition is wide. To find out more about the New York Festivals Radio Program Awards, click here.
Cumulus ‘Big Game’ Party. The scene here is the Roseland Ballroom in New York City yesterday as Cumulus Media’s hot AC WPLJ; country WNSH “Nash FM 94.7,” and news/talk WABC come together to put on a ‘Big Game Party’ in honor of the NFL’s championship being decided in the nearby Met Life stadium in two weeks. Sunday’s event was hosted by Todd Pettengill of WPLJ. The venue was filled to capacity with over 3,000 guests enjoying a sports expo, playoff viewing party, station games, and food. Former New York Giants wide receiver and NBC Sports Radio Network personality Amani Toomer was on hand meeting the many loyal listeners! Pettengill states, “The first annual Cumulus Big Game Party was an absolute example of synergy. Three radio stations with different audiences, air staff’s, came together to make the perfect circle of success. I can’t wait for next January!” The evening concluded with a performance by Daughtry.
WCBS, New York Producer/Engineer Silva Dies. Radio producer and engineer Carlos Silva died at age 50 after a battle with stomach and esophageal cancer in Lutz, Florida on Sunday (1/19). Silva worked for CBS RADIO’s WCBS, New York where he produced New York Yankees broadcasts. He had also worked game broadcasts for ESPN Radio, the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia Phillies Spanish-language broadcasts, and the old New Jersey Nets.
Cool Job Opportunity. Syndication Specialist Needed – The Dave Ramsey Show, now the 3rd largest syndicated talk show in the nation with more than 530 affiliates, is in need of a Go-Getter willing to take on this growing demand. This person will work with our small- and mid-sized markets. Duties will consist of new market development as well as serving existing affiliates and building relationships. Our organization has been voted Best Place to Work in Nashville for six years in a row for a reason. If you think you have what it takes and are interested in working in an environment where you can learn and grow, we need to talk. Interested candidates apply at: http://www.daveramsey.com/company/view-all-jobs/
Rick Sanchez Joins WIOD, Miami in New Lineup. Clear Channel Media + Entertainment news/talk WIOD, Miami announces a new program lineup that includes cable news/talk veteran Rick Sanchez in the late morning slot. Program director Grace Blazer says on the station’s website, “Our new lineup reflects 610 WIOD’S strengthening commitment to high-quality local news, accurate weather, important traffic conditions, and the perfect balance of highly talented local and national personalities. The result will be a topical, informative and entertaining listener experience for the residents and businesses of South Florida.” The lineup includes “South Florida’s First News with Jimmy Cefalo” in morning drive, Sanchez from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon followed by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. The new program schedule takes effect on January 6.
Cuts at CBS Chicago Leave Anchor/Reporter Steve Grzanich Out. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has been writing about budget-related cuts at the CBS Radio cluster in Chicago for several days and now we know more about who’s been affected. At all-news WBBM-AM, anchor/reporter Steve Grzanich exits after 20 years with the station. ChicagoRadioandMedia.com tips us that Grzanich posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Dear Friends: I have breaking news…about me! After 20 years, I am signing off at WBBM Newsradio to explore other opportunities. I am hungry for a new challenge and must embark on the journey to find it starting now. But don’t go away! I’ll still be here in Chicago and on Facebook with news, weather and other stuff…just not on the 8s. Thank you for listening! Stay tuned for news about my next chapter.” The cluster also saw the release of longtime production/imaging staffer Michael Horn who worked for sister CHR WBBM-FM “B96.” Horn has been working with Killer Hertz since May of 2012 and ChicagoRadioandMedia.com reports he will continue to do freelance imaging work while he looks for his next opportunity. Feder reports that a number of sales staffers have been let go from the cluster.
Other CBS Radio Cuts Hit Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. According to sources in Southern California, there have been four layoffs at CBS stations there including KTRH news anchor Bob Malik and KNX traffic reporter Tommy Jaxson. The two others are believed to be front office staffers. In Pittsburgh, changes come to sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” as Vinnie Richichi exits the Vinnie & Cook midday program and Paul Alexander leaves the morning drive show. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik reports that Richichi and Ron Cook never got along, it was obvious on the air and that led to Richichi’s departure, plus morning host Gregg Giannotti was not happy working with Alexander. Finally, in Atlanta Kendra G. and Christopher “Crash” Clark exit the Ryan Cameron morning show at urban contemporary WVEE “V103.”
Lineup Changes at Fox Sports Radio Network in the New Year. The national lineup from Fox Sports Radio Network will look a little different come January 5, 2014. Gone from the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET slot will be Pat O’Brien and Steve Hartman from “Fox Sports Primetime” with replacement(s) to be announced later. J.T. the Brick moves from the overnight slot to the 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET slot accompanied by sidekick Tomm Looney, displacing the current Petros & Money show. Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith will continue to be heard on Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles. Rob Dibble and Amy Van Dyken leave “Fox Sports Tonight” and the NFL Network’s and Fox Sports Network’s Jason Smith takes over that show airing from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am ET while Fox Sports Radio weekend personality Ben Maller becomes the 2:00 am to 6:00 am host.
Cox Enterprises Promotes Dyer to President/CEO. Current chief operating officer John Dyer will be elevated to Cox Enterprises president/chief executive officer when he officially succeeds retiring CEO Jimmy Hayes on Wednesday, January 1. Cox Enterprises is the parent company of Cox Media Group. According to Cox Enterprises chairman Jim Kennedy, “In the 36 years John has worked at Cox, he has always done a terrific job and always risen to meet every new challenge he was presented. He has been an incredible chief operating officer and he understands all our businesses. He is committed to our employees and our customers. I am excited to work with [him] as he leads our company in an exciting future.” Dyer comments, “Cox is a company that values its employees, delivers superior products and services to its customers, and strives to be a responsible and sustainable corporate partner in the communities in which we operate. I am excited about the ways we will continue to grow our existing businesses and invest in future opportunities.” In addition to Cox Media Group, Dyer will be responsible for Cox Communications, Manheim, and AutoTrader Group, as well as corporate functions including financial operations, human resources and administration.
Bob Murray Takes Leave from WTAX, Springfield to Battle Brain Tumor. “Morning Newswatch” host Bob Murray tells listeners in an open letter that he is taking time from the Saga Communications news/talk outlet to focus on “getting better and being with loved ones.” Murray writes: “As you have probably heard, I have decided to elect for an extended medical leave of absence from my post as the host of the ‘WTAX Morning Newswatch’ due to newly discovered health concerns. Many people have enquired (sic) into what is going on, and I thought it would be best you hear it from me. I have been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and will be taking this leave from work as an opportunity to focus my time on getting better and being with family and loved ones. While this is far from an ideal situation, we are remaining positive and focusing on staying strong. In the days following the announcement, it has been so incredibly humbling to feel the outpour of prayers and support from all directions, and I am pretty positive I will never be able to properly express how much that means to my family and me. I also want to thank the WTAX family and central Illinois area for their many years of loyal listenership. It has truly been an honor to start each day with you, tackling the issues that matter to us. I hope to be back in the capital soon, focusing on what I love, delivering the news, sports, entertainment and important local happenings to you.”
‘Jay Talking’ Permanent Overnight Show on WBZ-AM, Boston. Bradley Jay’s “Jay Talking” program is now the official overnight program on CBS Radio’s news and talk WBZ-AM, Boston. Jay has been working in the news and talk realm for some time (he also serves as the executive producer for “Nightside with Dan Rea”) but he got his start in music radio and worked at the legendary rock outlet WBCN. In fact, he hosted the last show at “The Rock of Boston” before a frequency swap and format change ended the station’s run.
NRG, Omaha Names Davis KOOO Brand Manager. In addition to being appointed brand manager of NRG Media, Omaha adult hits KOOO “Big O 101.9,” talk host Crash Davis takes on marketing director duties for that Nebraska market’s entire NRG cluster. Operations manager Jeff Lynn comments, “Crash has been an integral part of our team for the past year. He is very versatile and has a keen sense of what the Omaha listener wants and loves about ‘Big O.’ He brings many of the talents and skill sets we need to propel ‘Big O’ to new heights in the ratings and to drive results for our advertisers.” Davis remarks, “I am delighted to have a more prominent role on a station I have watched evolve over the past several years. I have great respect for [morning talent] Dave Wingert and the rest of the on-air team. Our great variety of music and the content we talk about resonates with listeners. I will do my part to enhance our reputation with the listeners and advertisers.” Davis has been in Omaha radio the past 15 years, including as a host on NRG talk outlet KOIL “The Mighty 1290” and as the afternoon drive talent on cross-town Clear Channel-owned talk station KFAB.
Salem Selects Dr. Frank Wright As President/COO. Eleven-year National Religious Broadcasters president/chief executive officer Dr. Frank Wright will join Salem Communications Corporation on Wednesday, January 1 as president/chief operating officer. Dr. Wright will report directly to Salem chief executive officer and director Edward Atsinger. “Frank has more than 20 years of experience working in – and with – broadcast media organizations,” Atsinger comments. “He has also developed a robust network among DC-based public policy organizations, as well as DC-based political organizations. Frank is an effective leader and team-builder with a strong entrepreneurial background, and he has extensive executive experience in strategic planning and organizational structure. I expect him to hit the ground running and work closely with me in executing our business strategies.” Before joining the NRB, Dr. Wright spent seven years as executive director of the Center for Christian Statesmanship; he has a doctorate in finance.
Will Salem Purchase Eagle Publishing on January 15? The story that Politico reported late last week is a done deal, according to BuzzFeed which states staffers at Eagle Publishing have been told the sale will take place on January 15. According to the BuzzFeed piece, Salem Communications will add to its conservative print and digital assets with the acquisition and that as many as 90% of staffers will remain with the Eagle division; it’s the upper management positions that will be eliminated due to redundancy. Eagle operates RedState.com, Human Events and Regnery Publishing. Salem recently acquired Twitchy.com from conservative pundit, columnist and author Michelle Malkin.
Sean’s New Digs! Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Sean Hannity (right) is pictured here with pundit and author Ann Coulter (center) and fellow Premiere star Glenn Beck (left) at Hannity’s new Premiere Networks studios at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Hannity leaves his longtime home base at WABC, New York at the end of the year and his program will emanate from flagship WOR, New York beginning in January.
Budget Deal, NSA Data Mining Ruling, ObamaCare Criticism, Mega Millions Jackpot, and Limbaugh-Pope Francis Marxism Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/17). The battle in the U.S. Senate over the details of the Congressional budget deal; the aftermath of a judge’s ruling the NSA data mining program “probably unconstitutional”; scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot; and the continuing flap over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Pope Francis’ “Marxist” economic philosophy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Names New Market Manager, Sales Chief for San Francisco. Cumulus Media announces Steve Sklenar has been appointed market manager for the company’s San Francisco stations and Kevin Crespo has simultaneously been installed as national and regional sales manager for the cluster. Sklenar comes to Cumulus Media from his most recent post as assistant vice president and director of sales at Lincoln Financial Media’s San Diego stations. Sklenar says in a statement, “To be tapped as the leader of Cumulus San Francisco is both exciting and humbling. This is without question one of the most coveted positions in all of broadcasting, not just radio. The history and prestige of these stations in the San Francisco community comes with great responsibility. We will not take that lightly.” Sklenar is in charge of talk KSFO, news/talk KGO, sports talk KNBR and KTCT, triple A KFOG and KFFG and classic rock KSAN “The Bone.” Cumulus EVP and co-COO Jon Pinch says, “Steve and Kevin are well-suited to take leadership and sales development roles at this legendary cluster of stations. They will round out a solid team that’s contributing significantly to our growth in San Francisco. After meeting with numerous qualified candidates, John Dickey and I are confident that these two gentlemen will have immediate positive impact on our business moving forward.”
Moody’s Cumulus’ Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating to SGL — 2 from SGL – 3. Moody’s Investors Service announces it has upped Cumulus Media’s Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating from SGL – 2 to SGL – 3 “reflecting improved access to the senior secured revolver due to the recent amendment of the 1st lien credit agreement. The amendment reduces the revolver commitment to $150 million from $300 million, but replaces the total net leverage test with a 1st lien net leverage requirement enabling full access to the revolver.” Moody’s says the B2 Corporate Family Rating remains unchanged and explains why: “Leverage remains elevated due to revenue and EBITDA falling below expected levels for the six months ended March 31, 2013 which prompted the downgrade in the corporate family rating earlier this year. Management indicated that pro forma revenues decreased $5.6 million or 2.5% in 1Q2013 compared to 1Q2012 reflecting lower political revenue, the winding down of unfavorable legacy Citadel barter transactions, and challenges related to its syndicated talk segment.” However, Moody’s cites the turnarounds of a number of Cumulus’ “10 underperforming stations” for the upgrade and goes on to state, “Looking forward, revenue growth is expected to be flat in 2013 due in part to the absence of significant political advertising. Moody’s expects Cumulus to generate roughly $175 million of annual free cash flow versus our prior estimate of $200 million to reflect management’s comments that it expects to invest roughly $25 million annually in CBS Sports Radio, Nash FM and related country format branding, its Traffic network, as well as SweetJack.”
Charles Steinhauer Ascends to Chief Operations Officer at Dial Global. Moving up from his most recent position as president of operations with Dial Global, Charles Steinhauer is promoted to chief operations officer. The company states that in this new position, Steinhauer will be responsible for overseeing the management of the company’s day-to-day operations — including technology, distribution, research, compliance, and strategy. He will continue to be located in New York City and will report directly to CEO Paul Caine. In his previous post, he managed all sales support divisions for Dial Global. The company also notes that Steinhauer “is one of the leads on an industry-wide research initiative working to improve how radio is incorporated into Marketing Mix Models, which are widely used by advertisers to evaluate how product sales are influenced by advertising.” About his promotion, Steinhauer says, “I’m very excited to be working with Paul Caine and to continue to move the company forward with all of the Dial Global family. I look forward to working even more closely with our staff and our outstanding content and distribution partners to create optimum value for our audiences and advertisers. I couldn’t be more fortunate.”
Tora Fisher to Perform at Talkers New York 2013. At the tender age of 23, she is both a rising pop star and a humanitarian. Tora Fisher of the Fisher family that spearheads Fisher House Foundation – the charitable organization that provides housing around the country for the visiting families of hospitalized American servicemen and women wounded in battle – will be appearing at Talkers New York 2013 tomorrow (6/6). The young singer/songwriter, whose heartfelt song “Finally Free” currently sits at number 29 and number 21 on the RadioInfo pop songs and rock songs charts respectively, will open the event’s Freedom of Speech Award Ceremony with an a cappela performance of the Lee Greenwood anthem “Proud to Be an American.” Ms. Fisher, who is a spokesperson for Fisher House, will be backed up in the performance by two female cadets from West Point, Mary Kay Messenger and Alexis Cole. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “Even though this annual event is geared to talk radio, we have a tradition of presenting some of the world’s greatest up-and-coming singers performing inspirational music at key moments in the proceedings. Having Tora Fisher perform this powerful song at Talkers New York 2013 is extremely meaningful and certainly in keeping with this tradition. Not only is this beautiful young woman one of the most talented female singer/songwriters I have heard since the golden days of the great ones like Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro – she has a powerful personal story of courage and will that is both touching and compelling. As a child of 13, she survived a terrible plane crash that took the life of her father and set her on the road to becoming mature beyond her years and a powerful artist of both words and music. Add to that her dedication to the families of America’s brave young service people and…well, you have a very, very special young lady indeed. Everyone who sees her perform at this event will be touched and certainly remember where they first heard and saw Tora!”
TRN Sues Former Attorney in Anti-Trust Case. Talk Radio Network has filed suit in Oregon against California attorney Joseph Alioto alleging that he did not move with the speed promised and in a time frame that would prevent TRN from suffering further damages in its anti-trust suit against numerous sales rep firms and radio programming syndicators. TRN is seeking more than $10 million in damages and relief. In the claim, TRN alleges that after making a $125,000 retainer payment, Alioto repeatedly failed to file the complaint in a timely fashion and when Alioto decided to withdraw from the matter, he caused TRN further losses due to the time that had passed. TRN claims Alioto did not have good cause to withdraw from the matter. Allegations include fraud and legal malpractice.
Programmer Bill White Exits WGN, Chicago. One of the first moves on the part of WGN, Chicago’s new president and general manager Jimmy de Castro is to make a change in program directors for the heritage news/talk station. Talk programming pro Bill White leaves the station after two years in the director of programming and news position. White states, “Having the opportunity to work with such a tremendous team at one of America’s legendary radio stations has been a privilege and an honor. I wish the staff and WGN Radio much success in the future.” Bill White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In a memo to staffers, de Castro wrote, “Sometimes managers have to make difficult decisions on behalf of a few to build a brighter future for many. Today, we are losing the services of a friend and delightful professional, Bill White. Please join me in wishing him the best in his future endeavors.” There’s no word who will replace White but industry watchers believe de Castro will go with someone who either currently works in the Chicago market or is very familiar with it.
Newsmax Reports #1 Online Reading Status. Conservative media firm Newsmax announces that according to digital measurement firm comScore, during April, of the 65 million Americans using all digital platforms, Newsmax sites led all other sites in web traffic with over 14 million monthly unique visitors. comScore notes that Newsmax exceeded such competitors as HuffPost Politics and Fox News Politics with these recent April numbers. Newsmax also was #1 in the same category for personal computer users who read News/Politics online. According to comScore, Newsmax received 14.4 million monthly unique visitors in April — up from 13.3 million the previous month. HuffPost received 14 million monthly unique visitors from the News/Politics category and Fox News received 10.9 million monthly unique visitors in April, respectively. comScore’s top 10 breaks down this way: Newsmax Sites – 14.4 million monthly unique visitors; Huffington Post Politics – 14 million; Fox News – 10. 9 million; CNN Politics — 9 million; NBC News.com Politics — 7.5 million; Politico.com — 6.5 million; Current TV — 6.3 million; The Economist Group — 3.7 million; The Hill.com — 3.2 million; and Mother Jones.com — 2.9 million monthly unique visitors. Speaking about Newsmax’s achievement, CEO Christopher Ruddy states, “We are once again honored to be the number one digital political news site for the second month in a row. It is a testament to quality of our digital content that consumers online, on smartphones and on tablets continue to look to Newsmax for the latest political news.”
FCC Has New Acting Chief of Enforcement Bureau. The Federal Communications Commission announces that FCC acting chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn has appointed Robert H. Ratcliffe to the position of acting chief of the commission’s enforcement bureau. Currently, Ratcliffe is the deputy chief of the media bureau. The position opens as P. Michele Ellison moves to the chief of staff post. Ratcliffe is a longtime staffer at the FCC having spent more than 35 years at the agency including as acting chief of the media bureau and as deputy chief of the enforcement bureau. In a statement, Clyburn says, “I am pleased that Mr. Ratcliffe has agreed to serve in this critical role. Bob is a top-flight lawyer who will bring his vast experience, sound legal judgment, and overall sense of fairness to this effort.”
Sexual Assaults in U.S. Military, Looming MLB PEDs Suspensions, Lung Transplant Controversy, Susan Rice National Security Adviser Nomination, and IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/4). Testimony of military chiefs addressing the high rate of sexual assaults in the U.S. military and Senator Saxby Chambliss’ associated comments; the reports of numerous suspensions coming from Major League Baseball for PED violations; the controversy over a 10-year-old girl’s need for a lung transplant and the government’s transplant program; Susan Rice’s nomination for national security adviser; and the IRS’ targeting of conservative non-profit groups were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Frosty Stillwell Returns to Talk at CC’s KKSF, San Francisco for Middays. Hot AC KIOI, San Francisco “Star 101.3” morning show co-host Frosty Stillwell will continue his work alongside Sandy Stec on the Sandy & Frosty program until a replacement is named but today (6/4) he begins immediately hosting the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show on the company’s talk KKSF “Talk 910.” Stillwell was part of the Frosty, Heidi & Frank trio that spent years at hot talk KLSX, Los Angeles. He also had worked at Clear Channel’s KYSR, Los Angeles and filled in at talk KFI. Frosty says, “I am thrilled to get back to what I’ve done for the past two decades, talk radio. ‘Talk 910’ dominates the format in San Francisco. While I loved being part of the music and personality show on ‘Star 101.3,’ there was just no way I could pass up this enticing opportunity right down the hall to get back to my true passion.”
Peter Boyles Officially Out at KHOW, Denver. Less than two weeks after being removed from the air on Clear Channel Denver’s talk KHOW, station management officially cuts the ties between the longtime Denver personality and the station. Peter Boyles was taken off the air on May 24 after an altercation between Boyles and his producer Greg Hollenback that reportedly escalated into a physical attack on Boyles’ part. The incident made the news immediately as local media was in the building to cover a press conference with politician Tom Tancredo. KHOW program director Dan Mandis wrote an email to the Denver Post notifying the paper Boyles is no longer with the company. Guest hosts have been sitting in on the morning show since that time and no permanent replacement has been announced.
Programming VP Mike Elder Exits Fox News Radio. One of the most respected programming executives in talk radio, Mike Elder, has left Fox News Radio after serving the past eight years as the company’s VP of programming. Elder, a veteran PD of such great stations as WRKO, Boston; WLS, Chicago; WCCO, Minneapolis; KTOK, Oklahoma City and KMBZ/KCMO, Kansas City tells TALKERS, “It was an amicable parting of the ways. My contract was up, cuts were being made to the staff, and we both agreed to move on. And this was the longest tenure of a more-than-40-year career, so I was living on borrowed time anyway.” Elder continues, “This has been one of the best jobs I’ve had, or that radio still had. [Fox VPs] Kevin Magee and Bob Finnerty were very supportive of our efforts and our channel on SiriusXM as well as the internet and affiliates. They allowed me to put together a great staff and I appreciate their support over the past eight years.” What next for the 40-year veteran of talk and music radio? He tells TALKERS he will probably move back to his home in Boston and believes he has at least one more job in him. He will take the time to explore his options as a programmer and talent coach. “I still feel I have another gig left in me, so I am not shutting the door on radio. I would welcome the chance to work with great talent and production staffs again. But I’m open to something new as well. There is a whole new world on the internet that will require content, and not the same ol’, same ol’. I’d love to work on something new, exciting, challenging and dynamic that would allow me to put my over 40 years of experience and skills to use in a new and different way.” Mike Elder can be reached at Mikeelder@me.com or 646-256-5653.
Joe Thomas Puts ‘The Afternoon Constitutional’ on Hiatus. WCHV, Charlottesville, Virginia program director and morning drive host Joe Thomas announces that “after two-and-a-half years of independent conservative analysis of the news and events for Virginia’s great cities of Richmond, Roanoke and Charlottesville,” he’s taking the regionally syndicated afternoon show off the air. Although Thomas says of “The Afternoon Constitutional,” “It’s more like a ‘dry docking’ of a great ship that has taken you to amazing places but now needs to be refitted with some new things for her future voyages. Stay tuned!” Thomas continues his roles as morning host and program director at WCHV. He can be reached at email@example.com
Progressive Talker KTNF, Minneapolis Sold to Chad Larson. Sales manager Chad Larson believes in progressive talk and he’s agreeing to pay current owner JR Broadcasting (Janet Roberts) $1.5 million for the AM signal. JR Broadcasting paid $3 million for the station in 2004 from CBS Radio. Currently, the station airs local morning host Matt McNeil’s “The Morning Grind” plus WYD Media’s Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz and Compass Media Network’s Norman Goldman.
Odds & Sods. The Boston Globe reports that rumors are flying in town that Entercom’s sports talk WEEI is contemplating a change to its midday show by moving Mike Mutnansky out and replacing him with Comcast SportsNet New England’s Jessica Moran. Mutnansky co-hosts the “Mut & Merloni” show with former Red Sox player Lou Merloni…..At ESPN Radio, the NBA Finals are the hot topic as Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love and former NBA head coach Doug Collins join “Mike & Mike” as co-hosts. Love will join Mike Golic and Ryan Ruocco, who will sub for Mike Greenberg, on Thursday, June 6 – the morning of Game 1 of the Finals. Doug Collins, who most recently coached the Philadelphia 76ers, will join Golic and Greenberg the morning after Game 3, Wednesday, June 12. Both guests will be part of an NBA-centric programming block from 6:00 am to 10:00 am.
George Beasley Receives Honorary Doctorate. Beasley Broadcast Group chairman and chief executive officer George G. Beasley is pictured here at Appalachian State University’s recent May commencement receiving Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa from the school’s chancellor Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock. A native of Patrick County, Virginia, Beasley has deep ties to Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, NC receiving both his undergraduate (’58) and graduate degrees (’60) from ASU. Most recently, he contributed the lead gift making a new broadcasting and media facility on campus possible – the George G. Beasley Media Complex, which is scheduled to open later this year. Beasley vice president of corporate communications Denyse Mesnik tells us that education was a first love of George Beasley’s. “Prior to broadcasting, George was a teacher and ultimately a high school principal. In fact, while building his first radio station he was a principal until the school bell rang, then a radio station owner late afternoons, evenings and weekends.”
Michael Douglas Oral Sex Flap, Senator Lautenburg Dies, IRS Scandal, DOJ Journalists Investigation, Obama Administration Secret Email Accounts and Syria Chemical Weapons Charges Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/3). Michael Douglas’ public statement that oral sex caused his throat cancer; the death of Democratic New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg; the ongoing scandal involving the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups; the Department of Justice’s investigation of journalists; the controversy over some Obama Administration appointees using secret email accounts; and the chemical weapons use charges against the Syrian military were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Broad Cuts at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Claim Talk and Sports Staffers. The end-of-the-year cuts taking place within Clear Channel is claiming numerous people in the programming end of the company’s radio stations. Some of the talk and sports personnel who’ve been let go include: Eric Chase, afternoons at sports WDFN, Detroit; Rich (Michaels) Minaya, afternoons, talk WIOD, Miami; Josh Sabrowsky, producer, sports KJR-AM, Seattle; Mike Morris, morning co-host, sports KFXN, Minneapolis; Don Ayers, morning producer, talk KOGO, San Diego and Jeff More, afternoon producer, KOGO; Steve Versnick, program director, talk WFLA, Tampa, and sports WDAE, Tampa; Catherine Brown, program director, talk WTKS, Orlando; “Bull,” midday producer, WTKS; and “Cabin Boy,” nights, WTKS. This list is not necessarily complete as more reports of affected industry people are still coming in. We’ll continue to update this list as more information becomes available.
Day 2 from the Arbitron Client Conference. Radio consultant Holland Cooke covered the two-day Arbitron Client Conference for TALKERS that concluded yesterday (12/6). Three points that dominated yesterday’s discussions and presentations are – as Cooke describes them – scary talk about in-car, straight talk about sports, and plain talk about politics. Read Holland Cooke’s report from Annapolis here.
Entercom’s WEEI, Boston Names Kevin Winter AM Drive Sports Anchor. When Jon Meterperel left the Dennis & Callahan morning drive show on Entercom’s WEEI, Boston earlier this fall to pursue his play-by-play career, that opened up a prime sports anchor/on-air role at the sports talk giant. Now, Entercom announces Massachusetts native Kevin Winter will serve in that role. Winter worked at the crosstown Boston ESPN affiliate and has served in a variety of studio host capacities including national SportsCenter anchor for all ESPN Radio shows including “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” Additionally, he has been the pre- and post-game host for ESPN’s coverage of college football and basketball. He says, “I’m very grateful and excited for the opportunity to join WEEI, particularly ‘Dennis and Callahan.’ This opportunity presents new and exciting challenges for me and I’m anxious and ready to get started. I’m coming home!”
Rush Limbaugh’s Two If By Tea Initiative Raises More than $1 Million for Charity. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Rush Limbaugh announces the charitable efforts of his Two If By Tea product initiative have surpassed his goal of $100,000 by 10 times, with $1 million going to charities including the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation. Limbaugh, who started the tea company with his wife Kathryn in June of 2011, says, “We ran the numbers, and we are thrilled to announce that because of you, Two If By Tea has donated over $1 million in product and monetary donations to incredible causes.” Limbaugh says in starting the tea company he wanted to create an American business. “I personally wanted to experience firsthand all of the requirements, the licenses, the fees needed to take a product to market from nothing. Our goal was to create jobs and manufacture with all American-made products in a fun, unique way.”
Steve Deace Show Hits 50-Affiliate Mark. The Iowa-based Steve Deace program announces it has hit the 50-affiliate goal in its first year in national syndication. With the addition of KXBR, Duluth; KVOI, Tucson; and WYAB, Jackson, Mississippi, Deace’s independently syndicated evening talk show (9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET) climbs to the 50-station plateau. Deace left his position at Clear Channel’s WHO, Des Moines (the station that remains his flagship affiliate) to pursue his goal of national syndication success. He states, “I am honored and humbled to have achieved such success in such a short time. When I left the award-winning and legendary WHO last year to find out what other opportunities were out there, I had no idea this was possible.”
Jeff Schechtman Steps Down at Wine Country’s KVON and KVYN, Napa, California. With the possible sale of the news/talk and hot AC duo on the horizon, Wine Country Broadcasting owner Roger Walther and general manager Jeff Schechtman jointly announce Schechtman will step down from his role as GM in January to pursue other opportunities. Schechtman states, “Ten years is a long time in any one job, and with the possible potential sale of the station, it seems an ideal time to move on to pursue some projects I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. There is always a tendency to get stale after too long in one job and in one place.”
Gow Communications Closes on KFNC, Houston. Sports talk station 97.5 The Ticket has been operated by David Gow’s Gow Communications under an LMA since September. Now, the company closes on the station it purchases from AR Broadcast Holdings for $5 million.
CBS Sports Radio Names Chris Moore and Brian Jones Evening Hosts. The national sports radio network CBS Radio will debut on January 2 has been fitted with the final piece of the programming puzzle. Hosting the 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET slot will be veteran play-by-play announcer and talk host Chris Moore and former NFL player and current CBS Sports Network analyst Brian Jones, who have been named as co-hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s evening show. Their program will emanate from CBS Sports Radio’s New York City studio in Tribeca and will be heard on several stations, including WIP-AM, Philadelphia, WFOM, Atlanta, WXYT-AM, Detroit, WJZ-AM, Baltimore, KJQS, Salt Lake City and WSJZ, Orlando.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 3-7. The political fight in Washington over how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM for the third straight week. Coming in at #2 was Syria’s chemical weapons threat. At #3 was the Egypt Morsi protests and following at #4 was the looming ObamaCare costs. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers .com. See this week’s complete chart here.
Radio Stations Across the Northeast Totally Focused on Hurricane Sandy. Or at least radio stations with a shred of competitiveness, pride, community concern and a modicum of resources are focused on the storm and its impact on their listeners. Considering how much the consciousness of the radio broadcasting industry has been raised this past couple of years regarding the medium’s role in providing community support during natural disasters coupled with the amount of time the industry has had to prepare for this slow-developing storm, we can expect the next couple of days to be among modern radio’s finest hours. (Image courtesy NOAA)
New Jersey Broadcasters Association to Sandy: Bring it On! NJBA president Paul S. Rotella tells TALKERS that New Jersey broadcasters are prepared for the storm stating, “Are we ready? Of course; that’s because we usually stand ready, often prepared for anything—that’s what local radio is all about: being prepared, being nimble, and being informative, with real information our listeners need. It’s amazing how dedicated local broadcasters are, especially in New Jersey where local radio means so much to our state! We’ve been preparing since Friday. As you know, our great NJ broadcasters have responded to extreme and hazardous weather events magnificently in the past and we expect them to continue this fine tradition of selfless service in the face or Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.” Read the entire text of Rotella’s statement here.
New Jersey Likely Ground Zero as Sandy Moves Inland; Broadcasters Foundation Steps Up to the Plate. Slow-moving Hurricane Sandy has already taken more than 60 lives in the Caribbean and it is moving north and is expected to turn west and move inland hitting the coast of New Jersey first as it sweeps up the Eastern Seaboard. The New Jersey Broadcasters Association has been in communication with stations in the state helping them prepare for coverage of the storm. NJBA president Paul Rotella relates that the FCC is available “24-7…during the storm to answer calls about service outages, to assist where possible in restoring any lost service, and to issue emergency authorizations for temporary facilities. As we have written before, the FCC has been helpful in past disasters — seemingly able to bridge bureaucratic barriers that might otherwise delay the restoration of communications services.” Rotella also alerts broadcasters in the region that the Broadcasters Foundation of America may be of assistance to broadcasters in need. “Broadcasters Foundation of America president Jim Thompson asked that I reach out to those state associations in the path of Sandy to remind them that the BFoA is there for broadcasters in times of unexpected need, especially broadcasters caught in the crosshairs of the approaching storm, or in its aftermath…As you may recall, the BFoA responded rapidly to the deadly tornadoes across the Midwest last year with $41,000 in emergency grants dispatched almost immediately after the tornadoes hit. Emergency grants can be used to buy food, clothing and even emergency shelter, especially for broadcasters suffering substantial and even catastrophic loss in the wake of the storm. Broadcasters (and even association execs) may apply for an emergency one-time $1,000 grant by contacting Jim or his staff. As you know, Jim’s dedicated team reviews and responds to emergency grant applications quickly and with unmatched compassion. You and your members can reach Jim at 212-373-8250 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Orlando Radio Institution Jim Turner to Retire from WDBO. Jim Turner has been with Cox Media’s WDBO, Orlando since it was a music outlet joining the station as afternoon jock in 1972. He made the transition to morning drive host 12 years later and was chosen by then program director David Bernstein to lead the station as it changed from a music station to a news and information outlet. Now, 40 years later, Turner will retire from the radio business and KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa morning host Joe Kelly will take over the morning role at WDBO. Kelly will join WDBO on November 19 and will transition into the morning role. A final broadcast for Turner has not been announced. WDBO program director Drew Anderssen states, “Jim is a broadcast icon. He has been revered as one of the premier morning hosts in America for many years, a true professional, and a great man. We stand by Jim in celebration of his 40 years of community service and dedication to Central Florida as he begins to write a new page in his life. He will truly be missed as the daily voice of morning news in Orlando radio.” In Tulsa, program director Levi May begins the search for the replacement of Joe Kelly. May states, “We are very excited about the opportunity to bring new, outstanding talent to KRMG and further grow our listening audience. KRMG is dedicated to being Tulsa’s number one station for news, weather, and traffic and we will always remain committed to that pledge.”
Martha Zoller to Return to Radio in 2013. Gainesville, Georgia-based talk show host Martha Zoller left her radio show on WXKT, Gainesville this year to run for Congress in the 9th Georgia District. She lost a close race in the Republican primary and now says she will return to the radio in January of 2013 though she’s not saying where just yet. In the meantime, Zoller will appear on Talk Radio Network-produced morning program “America’s Morning News” tomorrow morning to discuss the Campaign to Fix the Debt. Zoller sits on the steering committee for the campaign.
Premiere to Handle Ad Sales for 24/7 Comedy. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s 24/7 Comedy format will have ad sales and national syndicated handled by the company’s Premiere Networks. 24/7 Comedy debuted in 2010 and currently had about 30 affiliates and boasts a library of more than 15,000 comedy bits. Clear Channel president of content and affiliate services for national media groups Julie Talbott says, “24/7 Comedy provides stations with the unique opportunity to own comedy in their market with an audience engaging format. Comedy has universal consumer appeal across all forms of media, so we’re excited to deliver this ratings-winning format to more radio stations across the U.S.”
Salem Preparing for LMA of Columbus FM; Conservative Talk Lineup Appears Likely. The domain 989TheAnswer.com registered to Salem Communications seems to indicate that the company will flip Radio One’s WJKR, Columbus “JackFM” to its conservative news/talk format positioned with its “The Answer” slogan. Salem, which is purchasing the station from Radio One, will assume operation of the station on Thursday, November 1 under an LMA and it’s expected the slate of Salem Radio Network programs – Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Dennis Prager – will occupy the program schedule.
Start Doing This Right Now on Facebook! It’s a common belief that Facebook has drastically cut back on how many people see radio’s branded posts, so that broadcasters using the platform have to buy more advertising. That may well be the case! However, the Facebook folks are not only concerned about money, they’re also concerned about their version of time spent listening. They want users to visit more often; and they want them to scroll further down their news feeds than they do now. They may be limiting how much stuff people see from commercial enterprises, so that it doesn’t crowd out what they see from their friends and family. In any event, according to radio digital consultant Chris Miller, radio can overcome these obstacles. So, Miller presents TALKERS readers with the state-of-the-art techniques that will help you get seen more, and engaged with more often. If you’re doing it right, that will then lead to more on-air and online usage of your radio station, which is the ultimate goal. To read Chris Miller’s exclusive article, click here.
Comedian Adam Carolla Joins Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News Channel Program. Comedian, radio host and producer of the one of the most popular podcasts Adam Carolla is becoming part of Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” as a contributor. Bill O’Reilly – who still maintains a talk radio presence with his Courtside Entertainment-distributed “Talking Points” daily features – already uses comedian and Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Dennis Miller as a contributor. Miller usually appears on Wednesdays while the Hollywood Reporter states Carolla will likely be a regular part of Monday’s programs.
WQAM’s Dan Sileo Gets TV Shot. WQAM, Miami sports talk host Dan Sileo appears on the little screen this weekend when he joins the ACC Network when he appears on the pregame show from Charlotte with hosts Jeff Fischel and Dorsey Levens. The program hits the air at 11:00 am ET on Saturday.
Gone to the Dogs. KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller is living in a cage at the Canyon County Animal Shelter to promote the shelter’s Mission Pawsible Challenge that involves getting the most pets adopted out to families. It’s part of the 3rd annual ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. By saving the most lives in the challenge, the shelter could win up to $100,000 that would go to helping feed, home, and keep all of the animals at the shelter healthy! Miller is spending the 25th through the 31st of October in the cage you see here while broadcasting his program each morning. Miller tells the Idaho Press he “would be lost” without his dogs Alabama and Carolina, so doing whatever he could for the shelter seemed right. “We’ll be here to the final hour, the final minute, the final second, to get as many of these four-legged family members a forever home.”
Surprise Cuts Across the Board at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. In the past when Clear Channel or other big broadcasters have made sweeping reductions in their workforces there have been hints they were coming. This one seems to have surprised industry watchers. Clear Channel vice president Angel Aristone released the following statement about the cuts. “We are constantly evaluating our organization and structure to make sure we are as well positioned as possible to continue to lead in the evolving marketplace. We’ve been looking closely at our business to ensure that we are properly staffed and operating as efficiently as possible with the right balance of services and personnel to meet the needs of our listeners/consumers. Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company and that creates some new jobs, and unfortunately eliminates others. In the process, some employees were affected. These are never easy decisions to make; we thank them for their service and wish them all the best for the future.” This round of cuts affected mostly mid-sized markets including Columbus, Jacksonville, Nashville, Cincinnati, Portland, Louisville, West Palm Beach and Minneapolis. There was also a restructuring of the company’s Total Traffic operation. Some of the folks from the news and talk formats ousted include: WTAM, Cleveland weekend host Bob Becker; WTOK, Oklahoma City news director Jerry Bohnen; WISN, Milwaukee producer Jason Booth; WPOP, Hartford producer Richard Cooke; WTVN, Columbus news staffer Matt Demczyk; KEX, Portland news staffer Jeff Kirsch; KEX, Portland news anchor Mary Loos; WTOK, Oklahoma City talk host Greg Moore; WLAC, Nashville program director Tom Peace; and WTVN, Columbus sports anchor Dan Watson.
Cumulus Media Ousts Michael Damsky from WLS, Chicago President/GM Post. Cumulus Media COO John Dickey flew into Chicago to deliver the news to Michael Damsky in person that the company is “going in a different direction.” Damsky was brought on board by Citadel in the fall of 2008 as director of sales and promoted to GM in 2010 and charged with turning around news/talk WLS and sister classic hits WLS-FM. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports he was apparently largely successful but also notes that both sales and ratings have declined over the past six months since Cumulus took over the former Citadel stations. Damsky is quoted saying, “I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in three-and-a-half years. When I took over as general manager, WLS-AM was without direction. We brought in great talent and worked hard to showcase them. And WLS-FM withstood the attack of a serious competitor a year ago and is stronger now than ever before.” Cumulus has not named a successor for Damsky.
Former Clear Channel Exec Dave Crowl Hired by Cumulus. Dave Crowl will be based out of Cumulus’ Chicago offices as he comes aboard to take the regional vice president post in which he’ll oversee operations and sales in the Midwest region. Crowl served as senior VP of operations with Clear Channel until being let go in a surprise restructuring of executives in May of last year.
Tom Leykis Preps Fans for Monday Return. Monday, April 2 will mark the return of Tom Leykis to a regularly scheduled talk program for the first time since CBS Radio blew up his home base of hot talk KLSX-FM, Los Angeles in February of 2009. Since that time, Leykis has been busy creating music programming and other content for the web via his company The New Normal. He’ll be broadcasting the new Tom Leykis program at 3:00 pm PT on the web on Monday. Leykis is streaming his show via a number of urls including his blowmeuptom.com. He’s signed with TuneIn for delivery to smartphones and tablets and will also offer archived and special content to premium subscribers, although he says the live show and repeats of the previous day’s show will remain available for free.
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Extends Deal with MLB’s Brewers. The story from the Journal-owned Milwaukee Journal Sentinel doesn’t give a lot of contract details but reports both the baseball club and WTMJ were very interested in continuing their relationship and the team wasn’t even interested in going out to bid when the contract expired. Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger tells the paper they had meetings with WTMJ management about the direction of the relationship, “The conversations were, I would say, spirited. We had a lot of thoughts, as they did, about what they wanted to see out of the relationship. It’s not just economics these days. There is a whole range of marketing, branding, programming, production and financial arrangements. From those discussions we found enough common ground that we were able to forge a new extension. It was somewhat of a different environment than the last time.”
KGMZ-FM, San Francisco Adds Giants Posey and Cain for Weekly Appearances. Entercom’s FM sports talker KGMZ-FM, San Francisco announces the regular weekly appearances of San Francisco Giants players Buster Posey and Matt Cain on the afternoon show “The Drive” with Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis. The Giant Connection will take place every Tuesday at 4:30 pm. Program director Jason Barrett states, “Buster Posey and Matt Cain will give San Francisco Giants fans the superstar perspective they crave, from the pitcher’s mound to behind home plate and definitely inside the clubhouse. They’ve made the switch to FM and we’re so proud to be the only radio station in the Bay Area where Giants fans can hear Buster and Matt talking Giants baseball.”
KILT, Houston Adds Texan Arian Foster for Weekly Show This Fall. Houston Texan Arian Foster will be heard on CBS Radio’s sports talk KILT this fall for his weekly radio show. He’s jumping from crosstown Yahoo! Sports-affiliated KGOW where he co-hosted the show last year with Bob Berger. Beginning in September, he’ll appear with Texans director of radio broadcasting Marc Vandermeer. KILT is the team’s flagship station. Foster’s Tuesday evening show is one of the media offerings the NFL team is programming and selling since its new deal with KILT in which the team takes its media programming and sales in house.
ObamaCare Supreme Court Arguments Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 26-30. This week’s Supreme Court hearings of arguments about the constitutionality of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. The issue landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-discussed stories and people on news/talk radio. At #2 this week was the Trayvon Martin case. At #3 was the GOP primary and the 2012 presidential campaign and at #4 was rising gas prices tied with President Obama’s attack on big oil. The Talkers TenTM chart is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
Support for Captured Soldier. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller recently broadcast live from a local Krispy Kreme store where more than 300 listeners stopped by to sign the giant birthday card (pictured here) for Hailey, Idaho native Bowe Bergdahl. Military authorities believe Bergdahl is still being held by the Taliban in Pakistan and he is believed to be the only POW from the Afghanistan conflict. Bergdahl made news late last year after reports of his attempted escape from captivity in late August or September of 2011. He was free for three days but was recaptured. Bergdahl was taken by the Taliban in June of 2009.
Civil Disobedience Nets Host Jail Sentence. TALKERS Heavy Hundred member Ian Freeman, co-host of the nationally syndicated talk show “Free Talk Live,” didn’t set out to spend 59 days in jail — but he believes so strongly in what he talks about on the air and how he lives his life that that’s exactly what he did. Freeman served 59 days of a 90-day jail sentence (he got early release for good behavior) for obstructing a police officer who was arresting a young woman for an open container violation in Keene, New Hampshire. Many talk show hosts have strong beliefs and “walk the walk,” but as someone who believes the government is too invasive in people’s lives (and positions his show as a reflection of that philosophy), Freeman makes a habit out of protesting police enforcement of victimless crimes. He says the authorities in the New England community in which the national show is based see him as “a leader of people with such beliefs” and that’s why he believes a judge gave him a 360-day sentence with 270 days suspended. Facing the consequences of his commitment was not only personally challenging, but professionally as well. Freeman tells TALKERS being away from the show for 58 programs left co-host Mark Edge to handle the nightly broadcast with the help of guest co-hosts. Most programs would be in trouble if their lead personality were gone for that period of time. Freeman, who created the program, says the unique nature of “Free Talk Live” is that it’s not the “Mark and Ian” show. He explains, “I didn’t want it to be a show about the personalities as much as it is about the ideas and the concept of open phones and a pro-liberty discussion forum…the idea of the show has always been to have it be able to continue in my or Mark’s absence.” Freeman says that they have a great crew of friends and volunteers who helped Mark Edge during his time in jail and even though it was Edge’s first time sitting in the “first chair,” he’s heard nothing but good things about how the show went in his absence. “We didn’t lose any affiliates while I was gone.” In fact, Freeman says he had the opportunity to hear the show from jail on a local affiliate and had his first real opportunity to hear it as a program director instead of as a part of the show. He even phoned in on the hotline from jail once or twice with programming advice! Freeman tells TALKERS he certainly does not want to spend more time in jail but that won’t change how he handles the show or his own life. “I still firmly believe that more people need to practice civil disobedience and non-cooperation. I agree with the oft-cited statement that ‘all that’s needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’ I just can’t sit idly by and watch as my peaceful neighbors continue to be caged for all manner of nonsense – whether it be an RV being parked in their yard, smoking a marijuana cigarette, drinking a little bit of beer – whatever…I can’t get on the air with listeners and advocate non-cooperation with the government if I’m not willing to do it myself. That would make me feel like a hypocrite.” “Free Talk Live” is a formidable independently syndicated national show with an impressive growth trend heard on 109 affiliates across the country on stations as disparate as conservative news/talk WSPD, Toledo and progressive talk outlet WXXM-FM, Madison. In these days of both civil disobedience and peaceful demonstrations erupting on the streets of America and the fracturing of the rigid left/right political categories prevalent within the news/talk radio landscape, it stands out as an important emerging talk media industry entity.
WWRL, New York Broadcasts from ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protest. Access.1 Communications’ WWRL, New York is broadcasting from the heart of the ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest in Manhattan. WWRL morning drive host Mark Riley is broadcasting his program this morning (10/10) from 6:00 am to 9:00 am from Zuccotti Park on Liberty Street between Trinity Place and Broadway. Rev. Al Sharpton’s nationally syndicated program will also broadcast from the same location from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm today. WWRL general manager Adriane Gaines states, “We feel it is particularly important to expand the platform for ‘RL’s culturally diverse audience by being on site of this historic movement.” The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement began on September 17 and continues to be a major story on talk radio.
Cumulus Promotes WJR, Detroit GM to Market Manager. Tom O’Brien is upped from his GM post at news/talk WJR, Detroit to market manager for the Cumulus properties in the Motor City that include music FMs WDVD and WDRQ. Regional vice president of Cumulus Midwest Scott Meier says, “Tom has absolutely earned this promotion! He’s led WJR to a new standard and has embraced the Cumulus Sales Operating System with a vision of incremental growth.” O’Brien has served as GM of WJR since February of this year.
Entertainment Radio Network (ERN) Partners with eBay Motors for Expanded Online Distribution. In what is being described as “the first of many new programming and distribution opportunities” that the company is identifying for 2012 and beyond, Entertainment Radio Network, the Oregon-based syndicator of specialty shows covering primarily automotive, consumer electronics, popular science and technology subjects, announces its distribution partnership with eBay Motors, one of the internet’s leading automotive destinations. Effective immediately, all ERN shows will be distributed through the modJOBS site on the eBayMotors.com landing page to 14 million unique visitors per month. modJOBS is also supported via social media links to Facebook and Twitter. ERN president (and former ABC Radio Networks EVP) John McConnell tells TALKERS, “eBay Motors has an extraordinary audience – nearly one billion page views per month. I believe this kind of distribution is very much a part of radio’s future and we are thrilled that Entertainment Radio Network is the first to be working with eBay Motors new audio programming initiative. We are all accustomed to talking about TSL (time spent listening), but now get ready to consider stickiness as well – eBay Motors’ average shopper spends 35 minutes per day online, often with credit cards at the ready.” McConnell recently joined ERN CEO (and on air personality) Alan Taylor as president and a partner in the company.
CBS Radio and NFL’s Houston Texans Sign Long-Term Extension. CBS Radio’s sports KILT, Houston and country KILT-FM will remain the flagship stations for Houston Texans football for many years to come as the team and CBS agree to a long-term extension of their deal. Texans football has been affiliated with KILT for the past 10 seasons.
Andy Greenberg Begins Local TV Segment Based on Radio Feature. KFAB, Omaha-based motivational radio personality Andy Greenberg – host of “Your Weekend HIgh with Andy Greenberg” – is now appearing on KPTM-TV, Omaha on the Sunday evening broadcast beginning October 16. Greenberg transitioned to his current role as a speaker, trainer and broadcaster after 35 years in the sales and marketing business. He says, “I am thrilled to be part of the Fox 42 Sunday Night News broadcasts that continue the Fox tradition of broadcasting innovations and have been the forefront and hallmark of the network and its affiliates.”
Salem Radio Network Celebrates Talk Format with “SRN Talk-Tober Month” Promotion. Rock radio fans certainly remember the “rocktober” moniker assigned to the 10th month of the year on many AOR stations back in the day. Now, Salem Radio Network honors the talk radio format in its own way declaring it “SRN Talk-Tober Month” and Irving, Texas Mayor Beth Van Duyne joins the celebration by issuing a proclamation in honor of the Irving-based syndicator and all talk radio serving the metro area. As part of the proclamation, Van Duyne states, “The talk radio industry in North Texas includes a number of talk radio stations including KSKY; WBAP-AM/FM; KRLD; and KLIF which strive to promote a free and open exchange of opinions on the premise that City of Irving residents and others throughout the area have the right to exercise free speech.”
By Michael Harrison
NEW YORK –– This issue marks the 21st anniversary of TALKERS. What debuted on July 20, 1990 as a 12 page tabloid –– self-described as “The Information Radio Newspaper” –– has evolved into a multi-platform, full-service trade organization consisting of a monthly print magazine, an expanding website, a daily headlines news service, an extensive industry database and a dynamic planner of special events such as the New Media Seminar, Talk Radio Day at the United Nations, It’s Time to Talk About Domestic Violence Day, the Heritage Forums, Info-Sessions at the NAB Radio Show and numerous radio rows.
TALKERS has paralleled, reflected and stimulated the growth of talk radio during its modern era and subsequently brought these services to the expanding communications arena we presciently dubbed “talk media” years ago.
I believe this is just the beginning. As Sean Hannity proclaimed during his memorable speeches at the New Media Seminar, “The best is yet to come.”
Yes, this is a period of daunting change and challenges…technologically, socially, and economically –– but the opportunities being spawned by this unsettling transition are virtually endless.
Beginning with this issue, all content slated for publication in the print editions of TALKERS magazine will be simultaneously posted at Talkers.com in addition to the ongoing rollout of exciting new features. This information will be presented to our readers at no extra charge. TALKERS serves the interests of the talk media industry on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, even minute-to-minute level. We believe in practicing what we preach. The expansion of Talkers.com into a fully functional “media station” is underway. Dedicated practitioners live this business 24/7 and so does TALKERS.