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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com.”
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.