By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Plain talk: At too many stations – some with once-proud call letters – weekends are an embarrassment. Through utter neglect, stations injure ratings and leave money on the table.
In many cases, management doesn’t even listen on Saturday and Sunday, either because:
a) They don’t dare listen. It’s like a solar eclipse: “Look away!!!” They know their weekend is a wasteland of automation misfires and pay-for-play shows, the audition for which was the check didn’t bounce. Management just shrugs.
b) They can’t listen. There are more stations in the cluster than they can manage, and the one dismissively referred to as “the AM” gets short shrift. No names, but one station I hear airs the same disclaimer copy before and after paid shows. The voice (who was PD two-PDs-ago) says “THE FOLLOWING PROGRAM…” after the show has ended.
TV’s “Bones” Episode Takes Shot at Conservative News/Talk Radio. The cry keeps emanating from the media world and beyond. “Radio is dying or is already dead!” Particularly AM talk radio. Then a question comes to mind. If the format is dead then why does a prime time, long-running, TV hour crime drama devote the theme of one of its shows to the murder of an AM radio conservative, talk show host? Did any of you watch this past Thursday night’s (10/9) episode of “Bones?” It was titled, “The Purging of the Pundit.” If you haven’t ever seen the program, the theme of the entire series is simply about a female scientist who appraises the remains of murder victims and partners with her FBI agent husband to solve the crimes. In this particular episode the victim was an AM radio conservative talk show host who was named “Hutch.” They also portrayed him as overweight and, for a little extra spice and color, a sadomasochist in the thrall of a dominatrix. In an opinion piece posted today (10/13) in TALKERS, H&H Communications president and radio marketing maven Al Herskovitz writes, “Unless I’m suffering from serious paranoia, most of the elements including the name, with some slight exceptions, minor exaggerations and a few twists, strike me as a barely-veiled description of someone in our business with whom we all are familiar. It’s hard to believe the medium — AM radio — troubles the TV producers to that degree. The only logical conclusion is they object to the talk host’s political positions and find this a way to use their program to get out their message while still keeping it under the umbrella of entertainment. Or perhaps, they are simply trying to appeal to what they assume are the predisposed beliefs of their target viewership and shamelessly illustrating (and amplifying) a nasty caricature based on a stereotype. There are numerous conclusions for us that can be drawn from this. But here’s one really important one. Don’t sell short your format. Talk radio continues to make major impact on our society. Obviously it has some TV producers concerned.” To read Herskovitz’s entire article, please click here.
Greenville Remembers Russ Cassell. Entercom Greenville, South Carolina-owned WYRD “WORD 106.3″ 8:00 am – 12:00 noon talk show host Russ Cassell passed away over the weekend. The 60-year-old Cassell reportedly suffered a massive heart attack at his home Saturday morning (10/11) and could not be revived; he had been with WYRD the past 20 years. Entercom Greenville vice president and general manager Steve Sinicropi comments, “The passing of Russ Cassell is a sad day for his family, our Entercom family, and his listeners. His passion was his radio program on ‘WORD 106.3.’ Cassell was a well-respected professional. He was a radio giant and it is difficult to express how much he will be missed.” Operations manager Bob McLain remarks, “There are some radio personalities who are larger than life – that was Cassell. He was passionate about what he believed, and he was dedicated to keeping people informed. He was a brilliant and very talented radio host and a personal friend. His loss will be greatly felt by all of us in the ‘WORD’ family, those who worked with him, and those who listened to him.” Salem Radio Network vice president of news and talk programming Tom Tradup oversees programming on Greenville’s WGTK and states of Cassell, “He was a tough competitor, but beloved throughout the upstate of South Carolina. All of us at ‘Conservative Talk 94.5′ have Russ’ family and Entercom colleagues in our prayers.” One listener comments on the station’s website that, “Russ Cassell was famous for saying ‘Know what you believe and why you believe it.'” Another writes, “His convictions were strong, but his compassion for humanity was stronger.” WFBC AM & FM, Greenville hired Cassell in December 1980 to do afternoons and color analysis for Clemson University football broadcasts. Six months later, he was promoted to morning drive. Cassell eventually became program director, music director, sales manager, and station manager. McLain hosted a WYRD memorial show for Cassell Saturday (10/11) at 6:00 pm. The station will continue paying tribute to Cassell all this week during what was his customary 8:00 am – 12:00 noon air-shift.
Nielsen Knew of TV Ratings Errors. In a story, which at the very least, is bound to raise some eyebrows in the radio industry, Nielsen last Friday (10/10) acknowledged that it had been reporting inaccurate television ratings for the last seven months. In a Friday conference call with reporters, however, Nielsen executives Pat McDonough and Steve Hasker downplayed viewer discrepancies, saying they fell between .1% – .25% of viewing totals. They repeatedly indicated incorrect ratings fell “well within the tolerance of statistical error.” Nielsen said it discovered a software flaw and traced it back to March. Inaccuracies, of course, could affect billions of advertising dollars based on the research company’s rating stats. WPP‘s GroupM is the world’s largest media buying group. A managing partner in charge of research there, Lyle Schwartz, tells The New York Times, “You look at Nielsen as the gold standard for currency. When you introduce these errors on systems that were working fine in the past, you start looking at the numbers a little bit closer to see if there is anything else occurring that we haven’t identified yet.” Nielsen execs say any changes in numbers or program rankings would be corrected when the company issues new TV ratings today (Monday, 10/13).
PPM Analysis: News. In several thorough breakouts, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian scrutinizes Nielsen Audio September PPM data for all-news outlets. Follow each news station’s trends for the last six monthly ratings sweeps and see how the format fares in terms of market share and market rank (6+). In addition, each all-news outlet’s year-to-year, as well as month-to-month performance is tracked. Mike Kinosian’s entire analysis can be viewed by clicking here.
SAG-AFTRA’s White Gains Four-Year Extension. SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White received a four-year contract extension yesterday (Sunday, 10/12). White comments, “This job presents new challenges every day and I am thrilled to continue in my role at SAG-AFTRA. It is an honor to represent SAG-AFTRA members and I look forward to continuing the great work we have accomplished to date.” Along with union president Ken Howard, White was a lead negotiator on the recent primetime television and feature film deal. White was a candidate for a similar position with the National Basketball Association this spring.
Will You Wear My Pin? One of the most dynamic broadcasters association presidents in America, New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA) president Paul Rotella appoints noted presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin an honorary NJBA member. Seen here Rotella is pinning the coveted NJBA membership pin on Goodwin during a reception following her recent lecture at the New Jersey City University in Jersey City, and Paul’s mom, Jean Rotella, looks on along with NJ Chamber’s Ray Zardetto. The lecture series is a part of New Jersey’s year-long 350th birthday celebration.
Decatur’s WSOY Sets Benchmark Accomplishment. Although the stated goal of WSOY, Decatur, Illinois’ 12-hour “Community Food Drive” was 825,000 pounds of food,the Neuhoff Media talker looked to have the 13th annual event reach an even loftier, unanticipated objective of one million pounds. The event’s host – and one of its co-creators – Brian Byers admits, “I worry each year if we can make our set goal. Each year, I am grateful that we can reach what we set, but once I heard that we had a shot to hit one million [pounds], I knew we had to get there. It would not have sat well with me all year knowing we got so close [without reaching] it. We set high goals for ourselves. It is not the size of the community that should dictate what we can or cannot do – it is the generosity of the people. What we have in Decatur is unmatched anywhere.” The Salvation Army is one of the drive’s largest beneficiaries and three-year captain Wes Dalberg comments, “We see an increase in traffic through the Salvation Army each year, yet somehow, this community comes together and raises more and more donations – it really is amazing.” The WSOY food drive wrapped up last Friday (10/10) at 6:30 pm with 1,039,593 pounds of food as the final (record-setting) total. Monetary donations matched nearly one-third of what was collected during the combined sum of the station’s previous 12 food drives.
A Visit to Historic Ithaca. Well-known CBS Radio news correspondent Peter King (not to be confused with the sports guy) recently visited Cayuga Radio Group Ithaca, New York affiliate WHCU AM & FM. The station is included in “Ithaca Radio,” King’s just-published book he co-authored with his brother Rick Sommers. “Ithaca Radio” (Arcadia Publishing) contains many historical photographs from four legendary stations, including a 1940’s-era shot of legendary CBS News correspondent Edward R. Murrow at a WHCU microphone. Left to right are WHCU news director Greg Fry, co-author Rick Sommers, King, and WHCU morning host Lee Rayburn.
Ten “Giants of Broadcasting” Honorees Announced. The Library of American Broadcasting‘s 12th annual “Giants of Broadcasting & Electronic Arts” event will be held this Thursday (10/16). Honorees include Spanish Broadcasting System founder and chairman Pablo Raul Alarcon Sr.; SBS president Raul Alarcon Jr.; television producer/director David Barrett; “PBS NewsHour” co-anchor and co-managing director Gwen Ifill; talk show icon Regis Philbin; longtime New York City television anchor Chuck Scarborough; noted television programmer Fred Silverman; Greater Media chairman and chief executive officer Peter Smyth; a special tribute to Sylvester L. “Pat” Weaver; and “PBS NewsHour” co-anchor and co-managing director Judy Woodruff. Hubbard Radio president Virginia Hubbard Morris chairs the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation, which created the Library of American Broadcasting – located at the University of Maryland. Donald West chairs the Giants of Broadcasting & Electronic Arts awards program.
Venison for Dinner. During the week, Lars Larson is a mild-mannered conservative talk show host on the air six hours a day on two shows. One is heard regionally in the Northwest on a network of 17 affiliates emanating from Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL, Portland; the other is nationally syndicated across the country on more than 100 affiliates by Compass Media Networks. On the weekends, Larson morphs into a rugged outdoorsman, taking on the untamed forests and natural wilderness of Eastern Oregon, braving encounters with wild beasts, and hunting for food to feed his family. This photo was taken this Saturday morning (10/11) as the proud champion of the Second Amendment displays his latest conquest felled at 450 yards with a Nosler rifle and .270 wsm shell.
Indefinite Extension Proposed to LPTV Digital Deadline. The FCC last Friday (10/10) released a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the issue of analog low power and translator TV stations. The Commission suggests extending indefinitely the present September 1, 2015 deadline for those stations to switch to digital transmission. Broadening the cut-off date would give new life for Channel 6 analog television stations that basically function as FMs, given that channel 6 audio is receivable on FM (at 87.75). The docket – open for comment 30 days after publication in the Federal Register – proposes LPTV and translator channel-sharing in the manner being proposed for full-power digital stations; creation of a new digital-to-digital replacement translator service; and elimination of the analog tuner requirement.
By Al Herskovitz
BRANDENTON — The cry keeps emanating from the media world and beyond. “Radio is dying or is already dead!” Particularly AM talk radio. Then a question comes to mind. If the format is dead then why does a prime time, long-running, TV hour crime drama devote the theme of one of its shows to the murder of an AM radio conservative, talk show host?
Did any of you watch this past Thursday night’s (10/9) episode of “Bones?” If you haven’t ever seen the program, the theme of the entire series is simply about a female scientist who appraises the remains of murder victims and partners with her FBI agent husband to solve the crimes.
In this particular episode the victim was an AM radio conservative talk show host who was named “Hutch.” Hmm…
They also portrayed him as overweight and, for a little extra spice and color, a sadomasochist in the thrall of a dominatrix.
By Mike Kinosian
LOS ANGELES —This is our third in a series of overviews for Major League Baseball flagship stations; we will chart the progress of these outlets all the way through the World Series.
Of the June, July, and August ratings analyses of MLB’s English-language flagships, August stats indicate the best average market rank (#13.70) and highest typical 6+ share (3.74).
Some flagship facilities appear in multiple markets, but we are only listing one PPM market – the team’s recognized “home” metro.
In cases where a team has two flagships, both stations are shown.
Over and above its main flagship, some teams have an emergency alternative, used in isolated cases to resolve programming conflicts; those backup facilities however do not appear here.
The lone non-PPM market within Major League Baseball is Toronto. Consequently, there is no available Nielsen Audio PPM ratings information for CJCL, the key station of the American League East division (Toronto) Blue Jays.
Dickey Broadcasting Company-owned WCNN is one of the Atlanta Braves’ flagships. WCNN is not a Nielsen Audio subscriber.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — We’re all trying to find our way in this new digital world of ours. Conventional means of promoting our ideas may no longer work. Everything needs to be fresh, immediate, provocative. The attention span of our audiences have shortened and I’m not just talking about millennials. With the constant bombardment of information that we are under, even the most patient of us has a hard time giving every issue the attention it deserves.
Instead, we are expected to have instant reactions — black or white with no shades of gray. There is little time for deep discussions. There is no tolerance for asking questions that have no easy answers. Certain stories are reported from only one angle. Anyone who carefully parses a statement that the press declares politically incorrect is defined as supporting the dark side. Forget nuance, once you are attacked by the consensus bullies, you can only surrender and apologize, lest you lose your livelihood.
Talkers New York 2014 a Tremendous Success. Aside from the impressive numbers (60-plus speakers, hundreds of registrants, early sellout, 29 sponsors), the 17th annual installment of the longest-running, most-important national convention in the talk media industry was a crowd-pleaser in terms of issues addressed, solutions proposed, and connections made. Talkers New York 2014 has received praise not only for its agenda’s precision and well-balanced representation of the industry’s diversity — but the spectacular (India House) venue’s food, comfort and elegance as well. It was a power-packed day (6/20) without a second of downtime. From the opening “Breakfast with Hannity” networking social to the final “Farewell Cocktail Reception,” it stands out as what TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison describes as “one of the really good ones.” In the words of Journal Broadcast Group’s VP/news/talk programming Tom Langmyer, “This is an incredible venue and the discussions are truly enlightening and powerful. Not only is the event informative, but also very inspiring. This is the juice we all need – and I am even more optimistic about the future of talk and the personal connection we can provide – across ALL platforms.” Consultant/programmer Greg Moceri, CEO of Moceri Media adds, “Just amazing to me how many of us in the biz all these years feel this is a ‘can’t miss’ event every year.” Courtside Entertainment/PodcastOne CEO Norm Pattiz describes Talkers New York 2014 as “a high-energy, super-pro, first-class conference.” Radio and WPIX-TV, New York commentator Lionel says, “It just might have been the most fruitful and beneficial to date, if that’s even possible.” Salem syndicated personality Mike Gallagher called it, “another wonderful gathering.” Kraig T. Kitchin, CEO of Sound Mind, LLC says, “A great environment for conversation, for interaction, and for shared ideas. I had a great time! I learned a lot – more than I anticipated. The camaraderie was very evident, industry-wide, and that was a true blessing.” Among the major issues addressed were the challenges facing radio (of all formats, including talk) in the 21st century digital age including the arenas of programming, sales, technology, audience measurement and economics. The very role and pertinence of radio in this new era was held up to the spotlight of scrutiny in terms of generational changes and expectations. The result in a nutshell: unbridled (but absolutely realistic) optimism! The two words that came up time and again throughout the day were “community” and “passion.” Perhaps, the general sentiment of the conference is best summed up by WAQY, Springfield, MA “Rock 102” morning show co-host Mike “Bax” Baxendale who wrote, “These seminars have always made me want to become a greater broadcaster. For that I am deeply grateful.” In the words of TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “The hours and hours of valuable content generated by this event are going to keep our editorial and audio/video production departments busy for weeks as we break it all out and organize it for presentation in the form of stories, news and video packaging.” Look for multi-media coverage of the event right here at Talkers.com in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, the staff and management of TALKERS want to express deep gratitude to the hundreds of individuals and companies who supported this event so solidly as registrants, speakers and sponsors. We are humbled by your precious friendship and confidence.
Sean Hannity addresses standing room crowd.
Phil Boyce (l) and Greg Moceri (c) interviewed by
Sean Hannity (r).
Mike Francesa delivers sports talk keynote.
Norm Pattiz accepting Lifetime Achievement Award.
Thom Hartmann accepting Freedom of Speech Award.
Julie Talbott accepting Woman of the Year Award.
Carole Marks presenting Joyce Kaufman with
Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Jim Bohannon emceeing the Awards Ceremony.
Not pictured, Kenneth Chandler, introducer.
Jerry Del Colliano delivering special address.
Erica Farber moderating “State of Radio Advertising
and Sales” panel.
“State of Radio Advertising and Sales” panel.
(l-r): Ron Furman, Julie Talbott, Joe Puglise, Kraig Kitchin.
Not pictured: Dr. Asa Andrew, introducer.
“Radio: The Big Picture” panel.
(l-r): Tom Langmyer, Mike McVay, Sam Kimball, Steve Goldstein, Walter Sabo and Tom Leykis.
Not pictured: Michael Harrison, moderator;
Dana Loesch, introducer.
“The State of Local Talk Radio” panel.
(l-r): Jerry Crowley, Larry Young, McGraw Milhaven, Mike “Bax” Baxendale, Lee Harris.
Not pictured: David Bernstein, moderator;
Ethan Bearman, introducer.
“The State of Talk Radio Programming” panel.
(l-r): Bill Hess, Craig Schwalb, Gabe Hobbs.
Not pictured: Kevin Casey, moderator; Phil Boyce, panelist.
“The State of Talk Radio Programming” panel, Andy Bloom.
“Developing and Managing a Talk Show Hosting Career” panel.
(l-r): Ron Hartenbaum, Tom Becka, Martha Zoller.
Not pictured: Mike Kinosian, moderator.
“Developing and Managing a Talk Show Hosting Career” panel.
(l-r): Tom Marr, Joe Piscopo.
“The Talk Rumble”
(l-r): Mike Gallagher, Bubba the Love Sponge, Joyce Kaufman, David Webb, Kevin McCullough, Alan Colmes, Thom Hartmann.
Not pictured: Lionel, moderator; Dr. Joy Browne, introducer.
Howard B. Price delivering special address.
A Good Listen to a Good Guy
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Some view their own age and/or that of others as a roadblock – a barrier to achieving an untold number of additional hopes and dreams.
To others, age – more correctly – is merely a meaningless number with no attached strings or restrictions.
It would have been quite easy and understandable for Alex Bennett to take leave and retreat from the business in which he has been an integral part for several decades. After all, the legendary broadcaster was 73 years old when Sirius XM unceremoniously pink-slipped him last June after more than nine years of service at the satcaster (he turned 74 two months ago).
Notwithstanding an imposing and lengthy list of accomplishments and vitae, which the native Californian could trumpet as an entree to retirement, he has become an entrepreneur with “Alex Bennett’s Great American Broadcasts” being the centerpiece of his novel take to talk radio.
By Chris Miller
Chris Miller Digital
SHAKER HEIGHTS – “Sorry, I quit paying attention!”
What attention span can we ask for these days to sell something? One of my clients created a 40-second video for an email project, and I was momentarily concerned it was too lengthy to keep people watching. Another client buys two :60 spots back-to-back on TV to show mini-documentaries.
And yet … we’re still offering to sell :60 spots, loaded up back-to-back, as if it’s 1990.
Good luck selling a lengthy ad online. When YouTube lets us skip the rest of an ad a few seconds in, and Facebook measures your ad in characters instead of columns or inches, don’t six-minute sets of :60s make you at least a little nervous? Roy Williams, the “Wizard of Ads,” says “Clarity is the new creativity.” Or, if I lost you during that last sentence, “Less is more.”
By Walter Sabo
1. HD radio is going to explode. The management of iBiquity has achieved remarkable acceptance for HD by the auto industry with over 16 million installs. HD is radio’s best real estate grab for the connected dash. The key, as always, is the show. (Sorry, the word “content” remains disgusting. It’s a show.) HD is not about fidelity or graphics – it’s a new stage for new, audience captivating shows.
By Mike Kinosian
LOS ANGELES — Neither long ago (relatively speaking) nor far away in some remote galaxy, teenagers were so routinely enthralled by their local radio station of choice that summoning up the courage to actually go visit it was a personal seminal moment.
When one Dayton high school junior made such a trek in 1978, nothing short of a series of mind-boggling events followed.
Eager to see what his favorite facility looked like, this 17-year-old requested a tour, and what immediately caught his attention wasn’t a piece of equipment or seeing someone involved in the on-air process. Rather, it was a bulletin board memo, which read that the station was “still looking for a young talk-master.”
Completely fearless, he knocked on the program director’s door and confidently declared he could do that. As luck would have it, the night talent at the talk station was out with the flu.
Improbable reality number one was that, while the PD had planned to fill-in for his ailing talent, he remarkably, inexplicably said the young visitor should go ahead and give talk radio hosting a try – that night.
Either the program director was one of the foremost assessors of raw talent imaginable or, at the other end of the spectrum, had temporarily taken leave of his senses.
Regardless, the high school student did a four-hour shift and was so impressive in what was – in essence – an on-air audition that, defying logic, he was hired.
By David Bernstein
NEW HAMPSHIRE — At a time when most news/talk stations are seeking two things to keep the format vibrant and growing – 1) relevant topics that go beyond right-versus-left politics and 2) programming that would be attractive to more female listeners without turning off men – Angie Rowntree is finding appreciation among hosts and producers as the perfect “change-of-pace” guest. Simply put, Angie Rowntree’s business is communicating about sex.
As the operator of the world’s largest “porn for women” site, Sssh.com, Angie has spent the last 14 years doing a lot of what you might assume someone running an erotic website does – like writing and directing adult entertainment movies – but a good deal of that time has also been spent doing something you might not expect from a pornographic entrepreneur: listening.
By Jerry Del Colliano
Inside Music Media
EXCLUSIVE TO RADIOINFO AND TALKERS
Millennials have their own technology just as baby boomers had records, radio and TV.
Except technology has very little to do with the impact that “Generation Y” is making on media and just about everything else.
Sure there is Facebook that they went to college with, and Napster that helped disrupt the record business, iPads, apps, smartphones, Instagram and their latest devilish work – to unbundle cable and make Netflix the new standard for the on-demand content they, well – demand.
Radio consolidated about the time the first Millennials were in grade school and the industry just assumed that young listeners would always be there to like radio.
The music industry that consisted of old white men who were lawyers thought Napster needed to be sued out of existence – and they succeeded.
But the damage was already done.
By Chris Miller
Chris Miller Digital
SHAKER HEIGHTS — “In this multi-tasking radio world, who in the station should be responsible for online content?” That’s a question I got from a smart guy I used to work with. It’s a great question.
You need only two particularly strong people with this plan I’m going to give you. You may be surprised about who they are.
Set it Up
Who should handle your online content? Here are the staffing requirements for this focused plan:
By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
NEW YORK — Around Labor Day, I wrote an article that asked, “Where have all the broadcast engineers gone?” I was inundated with responses, which is why it has taken me so long to write a follow up article. Obviously, I hit a nerve with everyone. I have heard from Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Ireland. Obviously, this is a universal topic and I have been overwhelmed. That, and I’ve been working on a large project with not much time to put electrons to the screen.
Additionally, I was both surprised and not surprised at the bitterness in many of the responses. Broadcast engineers are a unique group. It’s difficult, though not impossible, to find a more dedicated group of people in any business. We take it personally. The station becomes part of us and is what we do. And once that is disrupted, even if the person is in a much better place, it is taken personally. I can relate.
By Chris Pendl
SEATTLE — It goes without saying you probably have a YouTube Channel for your show or station. And yes, there’s a lot of talk around what makes a video good – but how can you get the most out of the video you’ve posted on YouTube? In this column, we’ll look at how to make money from your videos, how to get users who find your video on YouTube to tune-in to your show, and other tips to make the most of your online video efforts.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND — Especially after last week, talk radio should heed the words of a media giant we now mourn: “They want to trust whatever voices they’re listening to.”
Allen H. Neuharth was the Gannett chairman who founded USA TODAY, and later helped create a The Newseum, the museum of news, which warrants adding an entire day to your next trip to Washington.
His 1989 autobiography “Confessions of an S.O.B.” is still canny advice.
Al was a bigger-than-life figure, always influential, often controversial. He died Friday at his home in Cocoa Beach, Florida, 89.