Rush Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke Comments Cited in Dial Global’s SEC Filing. Talk radio has long been saddled with the label of “controversial programming” that makes it a difficult sell on the national level. Agencies have numerous other marketing options through which clients can get out their message. Especially for family-oriented goods and services, why take a chance on “controversial programming?” But Rush Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke comments last March brought renewed bad PR to the format and, as was discussed at both of TALKERS magazine’s New Media Seminars this year (June in NYC and October in Los Angeles), the scarlet letter weighs heavy upon the talk radio business. So much so that Dial Global – in reporting to the SEC – cited Limbaugh (not by name) as part of the reason the company is taking a $67.2 million impairment charge. Here’s what the company says: “We normally perform the required impairment testing of goodwill on an annual basis in December of each year. As a result of several factors, which had a significant impact on our fourth quarter bookings and sales, we performed an interim analysis of our goodwill carrying value as required by ASC 350, Intangibles-Goodwill and Other. We believe our 2012 results were adversely impacted by, among other things, late cancellations in ad buys (which we believe was a by-product of the election and renewed economic uncertainty), competitive factors, such as a greater diversity of digital ad platforms (into which ad budgets have flowed) and increased competition from our major competitors, and advertisers’ response to controversial statements by a certain nationally syndicated talk radio personality in March 2012.” Talk radio is unlikely to become “family friendly” in the eyes of agencies anytime soon and talk sellers appear resigned to having to carve out new niches of advertisers and work hard to get and keep them. For big corporations with a lot of debt, that’s not a comforting thought.
Dial Global Voluntarily De-Lists from the NASDAQ. As a result of the company’s low volume of trading combined with other factors, including the associated costs of maintaining its listing on the NASDAQ, Dial Global announces it will undertake the delisting process beginning on or around November 26 and be completed on or around December 6 of this year. Dial Global will remain a publicly traded company – it reports no plans to go private – but the stock will be traded on the OTC Pink Sheets.
Envision Radio Networks Develops “America Weekend” Program. Calling it the “next generation of weekend talk radio,” Envision Radio Networks says the new “America Weekend” program is “a break from the usual brokered programming and rerun political fare of most news/talk stations, ‘America Weekend’ covers the lighter side of news and lifestyle issues facing today’s on-the-go talk listeners while maintaining revenues from paid hosts.” Envision states the show provides six hours of live programming on both Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm EST and accommodates up to four local expert slots per hour, with frequent break-away points for sports, weather or other local programming. Since the programming is broadcast live via satellite, ‘America Weekend’ is able to stay current by addressing breaking and developing stories of national interest as they happen. Anchoring the show will be “top-level, nationally recognized” hosts joined by high-profile guests. Programmer and consultant Kipper McGee is executive producer of the show and he states, “It’s been said that ‘weekdays are for ratings, weekends are for revenue.’ However, now we’re seeing the damage that poorly rated weekend programming is causing weekday shows. Listeners are forced to find other weekend options, and increasingly are not finding their way back to the radio station.” Envision president and CEO Danno Wolkoff says, “‘America Weekend’ is all about maintaining revenue opportunities for radio stations from long-form brokered programs in a new and innovative way. We have always believed that there is a better way for radio to monetize its Saturday and Sunday programming without sacrificing quality. Finally, ‘Content is King’ again on weekends.” Interested stations can visit www.envisionradio.com or contact Melissa Bachtel at 216-831-3761 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CBS Sports Radio Network Names Damon Amendolara Overnight Host. When CBS Radio’s new national sports network debuts on January 2, WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” evening host Damon Amendolara — “D.A.” — will be the network’s overnight host manning the 2:00 am to 6:00 am shift. Amendolara has been with the Boston sports talker since it debuted in 2009. He is also the sideline reporter for the New England Revolution on Comcast and a frequent guest and fill-in host for CSN’s Sports Tonight/Sports Sunday. He serves as an anchor on CSNNE’s “Pregame Live” and “Postgame Live,” appears on Fox 25 Boston, while contributing to NFL Films and the NFL Network’s Top 10 series, ESPN News’ Air Check and NFL Films Presents on ESPN. CBS Sports Radio director of programming Eric Spitz says, “D.A. is an all-star in Boston and his energy and understanding of the sports world will no doubt translate to a national platform. Damon is certainly the man to keep listeners engrossed overnight, and his work at stations across the country, covering a multitude of different sports, will be beneficial to our listeners. His success and following on our local radio station and his charitable endeavors in the community prove he will make a great addition to our already outstanding lineup at CBS Sports Radio.”
WTOP Newsman Donates iPhone to Newseum. It’s unclear whether WTOP, Washington news reporter Neal Augenstein was the first American radio news reporter to use the iPhone as his “sole” reporting tool, but Augenstein sure has attracted a lot of interest after it became known how he was using the device. Poynter.org reports the donation to the Washington, DC museum of news and related technology. Newseum Curator of Collections Carrie Christoffersen tells Poynter.org, “We collect all sorts of things that relate to changes in news technology. It was really interesting to us, since he’s doing all of his audio interviews, editing, video work, all on his iPhone, with some supplement from an iPad. He’s enabled himself to be very, very on-the-go.” There are no immediate plans to display the device but Christoffersen says their exhibits are always changing. Augenstein is pictured here being interviewed recently for Talkers TV about his use of the iPhone for reporting. Check out the cool five-minute video here.
Odds & Sods. Radio pro Turi Ryder fills in on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago for midday talk host John Williams today…..Filling in today for Talk Radio Network’s Rusty Humphries is KDWN, Las Vegas morning drive host Alan Stock.
Inside the Locker Room. In the photo here, KLAC, Los Angeles and Fox Sports Radio Network hosts Petros Papadakis (l) and Matt “Money” Smith (r) interview Los Angeles Lakers greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (second from left) and Jerry West (second from right) at a recent live listener event. Abdul-Jabbar and West offered Lakers faithful their takes on the team’s new coach and the team’s prospects for the 2012-13 season.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk” weekend program is added to the lineup at KAVA-AM/FM, Pueblo, Colorado; WEZS, Laconia, New Hampshire; and KOHI, St. Helens, Oregon…..“America Tonight” with Kate Delaney is picked up by WLSC, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…..Fox Sports Radio Network programming is added to new affiliate KOPJ, Portland…..ESPN Radio programming is picked up by Cox Media’s WDBO-AM, Orlando.
Petraeus-Broadwell Scandal Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of November 12-16. The ever deepening scandal involving ex-CIA director David Petraeus and biographer Paula Broadwell was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. At #2 this week was the Benghazi attack investigation. At #3 was the “fiscal cliff” Washington lawmakers are facing followed by Obama Administration Cabinet changes at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly ranking of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio. It is published at Talkers.com every Friday. View this week’s entire chart here.
WTOP, Washington Expands Multi-Platform News Operation; News and Programming Pro Laurie Cantillo Named to Newly Created Program Director Position. Former WABC, New York program director Laurie Cantillo joins Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington where she’ll work closely with vice president of news and programming Jim Farley for the organization that is also announcing the expansion and restructuring of its news and broadcasting staff. In a statement, WTOP explains, “One of the primary reasons for the new structure is to redefine the news workflow. Instead of the traditional model which takes broadcast content and tries to fit it into a digital hole, WTOP’s strategy will focus on the creation of news stories at the beginning of a process. A story’s execution will be determined at its origin. It will then be optimized for all the distribution platforms WTOP offers: radio, web, Facebook, Twitter and mobile. In addition to Cantillo joining the organization, other staff changes include: Current director of digital operations John Meyer moving into the newsroom as the architect of the social and digital strategy as it comes together with the current broadcast operation; current news director Mike McMearty becomes senior news director; assistant news director Mitchell Miller is upped to news director; Mike Gartell is now managing editor; Gary Emerling is named senior digital editor; and Darci Marchese becomes executive producer. Jim Farley states, “We will now have both a digital editor and a radio editor working together 24/7. No other radio station in America does this. And we are not just talking the talk; we are hiring more people, re-evaluating everything we do and making the necessary changes no matter how sacred or ingrained. The future is digital and WTOP will be the leader heading into that future.” Regarding Laurie Cantillo’s joining the WTOP operation, Farley says, “Laurie is one of the best, most-admired and well-liked program directors in America. She has solid news credentials, a great track record of ratings success in major markets and a great understanding of the power and potential of digital and social media.”
NPR Uses Grant for Digital Media Training and Multi-Platform News. Through a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, NPR is expanding its training initiatives to increase the use of digital tools both at NPR member stations and in the NPR newsroom. According to NPR, “Building on successful training piloted by NPR a few years ago, the grant provides for the development of extensive training for more than 70 local public radio stations. Topics include strategies to build multi-media news operations, writing for the web, photography and the role of social media in newsgathering. These resources will dramatically improve the ability of participating stations to broaden and deepen their news production and better serve both new and existing audiences. The grant will also fund digital coaches for NPR journalists.” NPR chief executive officer Gary Knell says, “NPR is a major force in media today, helping more than 34 million people make sense of what is going on in the world. These digital training resources will ensure that NPR and hundreds of member stations nationwide continue to pioneer the use of new technologies to connect with new and existing audiences.”
Standard & Poor’s Downgrades CC Media Holdings on Long-term Debt Concerns. Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Michael Altberg states that softening ad demand and the uncertain global economy may slow the growth of revenue for Clear Channel’s parent company and while the ability to pay the debt that comes due in 2012 and 2013 isn’t seen as a problem, the notes that mature in 2014 and 2016 are bigger issues. The company faces secured and unsecured debt maturities of $2.9 billion in 2014 and $12.3 billion in 2016. S&P notes CC Media Holdings is considered highly leveraged and that could negatively affect its ability to re-finance before those debts come due. When that time comes, anyone looking to buy a radio station might find opportunity in what could potentially be the biggest fire sale selloff of sticks in recent history.
CBS Local Digital Media Partners with Examiner.com for Content Creation. The network of websites and mobile apps that make up CBS Local Digital Media is entering into a content creation relationship with Examiner.com to produce unique content for CBS’ locally targeted properties in more than two dozen major markets across the country. Examiner.com is a leading online publisher featuring local expertise from over 85,000 contributors, known as Examiners. The lifestyle content created through this partnership is described as “‘Best Of’ guides and ‘Top Spots’ lists covering a range of topics including arts and culture, shopping, food and drink, nightlife and music, as well as travel and outdoors.” CBS Local Digital Media president Ezra Kucharz states, “Over the course of the past 18 months we’ve built a platform that quickly garnered interest from millions of users searching for the best local news, information and entertainment. Taking our vision one step further by working with a stable of contributors with expertise in their field will greatly enhance the audience’s experience. This is not just about telling you where to go and what to see – it’s providing ‘insider access’ to a city you may be visiting or have lived your whole life that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Dr. Joy Browne Appears on TALKERS TV. She is by far the most successful psychology and relationships talker on radio in America. WOR Radio Network star Dr. Joy Browne is interviewed by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey at the seventh annual “It’s Time to Talk Day” radio row designed to raise consciousness about domestic violence and teenage dating abuse presented recently by TALKERS and Talk Radio News Service in conjunction with corporate sponsor Liz Claiborne, Inc. The event was held in the showroom at the Midtown Manhattan headquarters of the fashion company. Browne candidly discusses the state of relationship talk radio’s place within the news/talk playing field and explains the connections between psychology and all the hot issues discussed within the genre. To view this not-to-be-missed video, see TALKERS TV at the right on this page.
Glenn Beck’s GBTV Takes Over “Apocalypse” Reality Show. The program was once called, “Apocalypse, PA” when it ran on the History Channel last year but on Beck’s online venture GBTV it will be called, “Independence USA.” It follows Frank Belcastro and his family as they prepare to survive in a post-apocalyptic world by such means as devising a car that runs on wood instead of gasoline, becoming expert hunters and creating his own alcohol for barter when the money system collapses. According to TVNewser, the program debuts on January 18 with new episodes every Wednesday. It is the first reality show to become part of Beck’s GBTV where his own daily TV program is seen.
KFI, Los Angeles Debuts New Food Show with Neil Saavedra in January. The program is called, “The Fork Report,” and will have its premier airing on Saturday, January 7 hosted by KFI’s Neil Saavedra. The station says, “‘The Fork Report’ will be a food show like no other food show, delving into all things edible. The show will run the food gamut from local restaurants to kitchen gadgets, interviews with chefs to food news (like recalls, new products). If you can eat it or it’s a gizmo to help you prepare it…Saavedra talks about it.” Saavedra also hosts the KFI-based and Premiere Networks syndicated “Jesus Christ Show” and serves as the director of marketing for the Clear Channel station.
Katy Pavelonis Named VP of Sales at Grand Slam Sports. The St.Louis-based sports media company operates KFNS, St. Louis, KFNS.com, St. Louis Sports Magazine, Grand Slam Sports Promotions, SportsRadio 1380 and SportsRadio1380.com. Katy Pavelonis previously served as VP/director of sales at CBS Radio’s St. Louis cluster that includes news/talk KMOX. On her new position, Pavelonis states, “I am excited about starting with Grand Slam Sports. Having sold Cardinal baseball, Blues hockey and University of Missouri products in the past, I know how passionate the sports fans are here and how supportive the local advertising community can be for local sports. Marketing the incredible media mix that Grand Slam Sports provides to those advertisers is something I am very much looking forward to.”
NTSB Cell Phone Ban, 2012 Presidential Race, Payroll Tax Cut Issue and Iraq Troop Withdrawl Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation that no personal electronic devices be allowed to be operated by motorists in the U.S., the GOP race to challenge President Obama in the 2012 election, Congressional leaders’ work to deal with the budget deficit and the payroll tax cut issue plus the withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.