Movers and Shakers to Tackle Radio’s “Big Picture” at Talkers New York 2014. In what has become a popular tradition at TALKERS conferences, a diverse group of industry heavyweights will tackle radio’s “big picture” in a panel session covering industry economics, technology, changing business models, programming challenges and trends, the relationship between talk and music radio, and radio’s role as a first responder during emergencies among other key subjects. Panelists include (in alphabetical order): Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Tom Langmyer, VP news/talk programming Journal Broadcast Group and VP/GM, Milwaukee radio operations; Tom Leykis, CEO, The New Normal; Mike McVay, SVP, programming, Cumulus Media; Howard B. Price, director business continuity and crisis management, ABC News. The session will be introduced by rising talk star Dana Loesch, KFTK, St. Louis and Radio America; moderated by Michael Harrison, publisher, TALKERS; and sponsored by ABC News Radio. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “This session is always a crowd pleaser at our conferences with lots of valuable take-aways. Its free-wheeling, quick pace touches upon a wide variety of the broad-strokes themes that run throughout today’s radio concerns.” Talkers New York 2014 takes place on Friday, June 20 at the historic India House on Hanover Square in the heart of NYC’s historic financial district. More than 65 industry leaders are scheduled to speak. It is on the verge of a sellout with registrations only open to professionals working in the radio and associated media industries. Registrations ($249) are only booked over the phone with credit card. Call 413-565-5413. For more up-to-the-minute agenda and sponsorship information, please click here.
Aaron Klein Show Moves to ‘AM 970 The Answer’ in NYC. After four years airing on Sunday evenings on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York, the Tel Aviv-based “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” program debuts on Salem Communications-owned crosstown news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” Sunday, May 4. In a press release, Salem says the Klein show “deals with the hotbed of Muslim extremists, and how they are trying to bring down the state of Israel.” Klein exited WABC when the station made the decision to focus on locally driven programming. Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce says, “After years of competing with Aaron Klein and his program on WABC we now have grabbed him to join our new and re-vamped lineup on ‘AM 970 The Answer.’ I have had so many people ask me if we could bring Aaron over to our station and it is a pleasure to do so. He fits our station and our attitude just fine, and I can’t wait to see what he is going to break next.” Klein comments, “I am thrilled to be joining Salem Radio and ‘AM 970 The Answer’ to bring energetic, news-driven, live talk radio to the Sunday night lineup. Together, we will prove there is a major audience for weekend talk radio if the content is compelling enough.”
Talk Hosts Lynn Woolley and Ben Barrack Debut News/Talk Site. KTEM, Temple-Killeen, Texas-based talk media personalities Lynn Woolley and Ben Barrack announce their collaboration on a new national website called “The World Beat” at www.WBDaily.com. The duo say “the new site will feature material from the Lynn Woolley show (also heard on KBBW, Waco; KWBC, Navasota, Texas; KCRS, Midland, Texas; and KVOP, Plainview, Texas) and the Ben Barrack Show (heard Sunday mornings on KTEM), but will not be devoted to any specific talk show. WBDaily will feature cutting-edge opinion on national stories, often with a Texas flavor and occasional breaking news stories. In fact, WBDaily will be a great source for show prep.”
Michigan Family Sues Sima Birach, Jr. in Case Involving Sports Talk WCAR, Livonia. A Michigan family is suing Sima Birach, Jr. claiming the operator of sports talk WCAR, Livonia, Michigan (suburban Detroit) bilked them out of almost $1 million. The Detroit News reports that the station is leased to Birach, Jr. by his father (for $1 a year) whose Birach Broadcasting operates 23 stations in 14 states. Sima Birach, Sr. tells the paper his son has no right to sell anything but commercial time. He also says he’s been sued as the result of bad business decisions made by his son in the past and adds, “He’s been involved with some shysters before. He’s 37-years old. What am I going to do?” The family suing Birach, Jr. is Drago and Jadranka Mihajlovski and their son Zive. The trio allege they gave Birach, Jr. $500,000 on August 12, 2012, for a 10% interest in the station and on October 9, 2012, they say they invested $450,000 more for an additional 15% share in the station. Their attorney says they were promised $50,000-per-year lifetime jobs as well and that after a few pay periods, the money stopped coming in and Birach, Jr. told them they had no interest in the station and their investment would not be returned.
Ramsey-Cruze Book Debuts at #1. The latest book by financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey – this time with his daughter Rachel Cruze – is called Smart Money Smart Kids (Lampo Press 2014) and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list (week ending 4/26) for “Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous.” The book is promoted as providing “practical steps parents can take to teach their kids about money basics like working, spending, saving and giving, as well as how to deal with bigger challenges such as avoiding debt, paying for college and battling discontentment.”
RadioIO and Bubba the Love Sponge Team Up for Digital Delivery. Nationally syndicated, Tampa-based morning drive talk host Bubba the Love Sponge and RadioIO agree to terms on a deal that will allow the latter to continue to deliver Bubba the Love Sponge and his shows exclusively over the Internet on Bubba Army Radio through December 31, 2016. RadioIO will have the exclusive right to distribute archived and newly produced internet-only content of the Bubba Radio Network over the internet and the non-exclusive right to broadcast the Bubba the Love Sponge show live. RadioIO will pay periodic fees based on subscription and advertising revenue received by the company relating to the Bubba programming. In addition to the daily Bubba show, other programming consists of “Bubba Army Radio Uncensored,” “The Shannon Burke Show,” “Dangerous Conversations with Scott Ledger,” and a daily specialty show. Bubba the Love Sponge’s radio show is heard on formats including: hot talk, country, rock, classic hits and sports talk.
KJOC, Quad Cities Returns to Sports Talk. After an 11-year period airing non-sports content (including the most recent format using Scott Shannon’s True Oldies Channel), Townsquare Media’s KJOC, Davenport flips to sports talk as “ESPN 1170.” The Quad Cities Times reports station operations manager Darren Pitra saying, “We looked at a variety of things, but the decision was to go with ESPN.” The station will carry the entire ESPN Radio lineup plus Chicago Cubs baseball and Iowa State football and basketball. Pitra says of local sports talk, “It’s not something that’s completely [out of the realm of possibility] down the road.”
Dino Costa Digital Platform to Debut Monday. As TALKERS reported last month, former longtime SiriusXM sports talk personality Dino Costa is going the entrepreneurial road with his sports talk program and making it available via a digital platform on a subscription model. Costa says the show will be accessible from any computer or mobile device and offer visitors access to a variety of digital and written news and commentary, including a live, three-hour video broadcast each weekday; pre-recorded interviews with today’s sports leaders and newsmakers; behind-the-scenes features; and exclusive news articles covering the top sports stories making headlines each week. Costa says, “The new Dino Costa show is something that will redefine sports-based commentary and opinion, and I’m delighted to be back to serve as the conduit for a sports radio crowd across North America that is extremely frustrated with the meager sports talk offerings of today. Our platform allows for the most refreshingly candid commentaries available. We have no partnerships with leagues, officials, or any alliances that will prevent us from delivering the most unequivocal and straightforward opinion and views on a regular and consistent basis. The era of corporate-driven news media is more than a huge problem that people of all walks are contending with these days. We are the radical departure from this awful status quo…I cannot wait to get going.” Emanating from Costa’s Cheyenne studios, his talk show airs live daily at 4:00 pm ET.
WABC, New York to Cover 2014 James Beard Awards. When the 24th James Beard Awards are handed out on Monday, May 5, Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York will provide coverage of the festivities. The James Beard Awards recognize excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education in the United States. They were established in 1990. This year’s ceremonies will take place at New York’s Lincoln Center. WABC says that starting today, listeners can watch video interviews with some of New York’s top chef’s including Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony and Betony’s Bryce Shuman. Also, 77 WABC chats with Food Network host and James Beard Award emcee Ted Allen about the importance of the awards to New York and the country. Monday, 77 WABC will provide live streaming coverage of the awards presentation from New York’s Lincoln Center.
Odds & Sods. A programming and branding change takes place at Entercom’s WMC-AM, Memphis as the station becomes “ESPN 790 AM” and adds ESPN Radio programming. It is keeping the CBS Sports Radio-syndicated Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson morning drive show…..Rachel Sutherland – most recently with Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington – joins Fox News Radio to serve as a reporter based in Washington. Sutherland has also worked with TRN as an anchor for America’s Radio News Network and for Metro Networks in DC…..CBS RADIO’s sports talk WIP-FM and news/talk WPHT in Philly in conjunction with the Philadelphia Phillies’ “Phillies Charities” are offering fans a chance to win cool up-close-and-personal Phillies prizes like a kid’s sleepover in the Phillies Clubhouse, playing a video game on PhanaVision against A.J. Burnett, enjoying lunch with Ryne Sandberg in his office, or having a private hitting clinic with Chase Utley. It’s called the “Phantastic Auction” on phillies.com and runs today through May 15. Proceeds from the auction benefit Phillies Charities. Last year’s event raised $129,000.
Edison Research Offers ‘Moms & Media’ Webinar. Extracting more data from its Infinite Dial 2104 research study, Edison Research is presenting a free webinar on May 8 at 2:00 pm ET titled “Moms and Media 2014: Mobile Is a Must.” Edison says, “Moms are the target for most readers’ radio stations. And for those moms, mobile has become a priority over the last 12 months.” The presentation “features fresh tracking data about social networking, mobile device ownership, and simultaneous media consumption. The report highlights how moms are adapting radio to make it more suitable to their mobile lifestyle.” See more info here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Envision Networks program “America Weekend” is added to the program schedule at WRJN, Racine, Wisconsin (Milwaukee market)…..BizTalkRadio programming is added to WWWE, Atlanta as the station picks up the following shows: “Investor’s Edge,” “Executive Leaders Radio,” “Speak Up and Stay Alive,” “Equity Strategies” and the weekend show “Animals Today.”
Sterling-Clippers Controversy/Race Relations Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 28-May 2. The recorded racist rant by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, his subsequent lifetime ban from the NBA and talk of race relations in the U.S. were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the weak economic growth report and its effect on the Obama Administration’s image. Following at #3 was speculation about candidates in the 2016 presidential race and the possible outcome of this year’s mid-term elections, and at #4 was President Obama’s Asia trip. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
CBS Radio’s WPHT, Philadelphia to Add Dick Morris for PM Drive. The station is making programming moves in anticipation of Michael Smerconish’s departure to SiriusXM Satellite Radio in April and announces political consultant, author and media personality Dick Morris will begin hosting the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm shift. Currently, Smerconish is on from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm followed by Rich Zeoli and Steve Martorano from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. WPHT does not say if Zeoli and Martorano will remain with the station and be moved to the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot or if it has other plans yet to be announced. CBS Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “Dick is a great addition to our lineup of live and local personalities, and provides a voice that will raise the audiences’ interest in what’s happening in politics today. As someone who isn’t afraid to express his opinions or make bold predictions, his show won’t just be a win for Philadelphia and WPHT, it’s a win for radio.”
MSNBC’s Ed Schultz to Move to Weekend Slot. News/talk personality Ed Schultz announced at the end of his Wednesday evening program that he will be vacating the 8:00 pm ET time slot on MSNBC to begin hosting a two-hour weekend program on both Saturday and Sunday – from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm beginning in April. Saying it is “a big opportunity for ‘The Ed Show’ and my brand.” Schultz said on the air that the five-nights-per-week gig isn’t for him and he’s looking forward to more time to prepare stories. He told viewers, “I raised my hand for this assignment for a number of personal and professional reasons…My fight on ‘The Ed Show’ has been for the workers and the middle class. This new time slot will give me the opportunity to produce and focus on stories that I care about and are important to American families and American workers.” MSNBC offered a congratulatory statement from Phil Griffin but is not announcing just yet who will take over the slot leading into the channel’s prime time star, Rachel Maddow. Schultz’s program has performed well for the network. On Tuesday, March 12, for example, Schultz came in second to Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly but beat CNN’s Anderson Cooper in most demographics (in Persons 25-54 Schultz grabbed 195,000 to Cooper’s 170,000, according to TVByTheNumbers.com). Schultz also fared better than his lead-in, Chris Matthews. Schultz continues to host his nationally syndicated talk radio program.
Bonneville Seattle Announces Programming Appointments. Vice president and market manager Carl Gardner promotes KIRO-FM news director Pete Gammell to program director for news/talk KIRO-FM; KIRO-FM assistant program director Jason Antebi to PD of sister news/talk KTTH and sports talk KIRO-AM “710 ESPN” program director Brian Long to senior director of programming for the Bonneville Seattle stations. Gardner says of Long, “Brian is a talented programmer and proven ratings winner. He brings experience, focus, and a leadership style that will be invaluable to our content teams on all three stations.” The programming positions opened up when programmer Larry Gifford announced he would be leaving the KIRO-FM and KTTH stations back in early February. On Gammell’s rise to PD, Gardner states, “Pete instinctively understands KIRO Radio. He was born and raised in Tacoma, educated in Seattle, came up through the KIRO Radio newsroom and has been a leader in shaping KIRO’s distinctive blend of news and conversation. More than anyone, Pete just gets the unique role this station plays in our community.” Gammell began his radio career at KIRO Radio in 2000 and moved to San Francisco to work as associate news director at KCBS, San Francisco from 2006 to 2008. Jason Antebi, who will run the day-to-day programming of KTTH and continue in his role as the architect of KIRO Radio Weekends, worked as a producer in Los Angeles at KLSX, KRLA and KFI (2006-08). He served as executive producer at Greenstone Media and as an executive producer of the TRN-syndicated Phil Hendrie show.
TALKERS magazine Unveils the 2013 Heavy Hundred. The editors of TALKERS magazine, with input from industry leaders, present the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America –– a popular annual feature that has come to be known as the “Heavy Hundred.” This is one of the most challenging tasks that TALKERS undertakes each year considering that there are thousands of talk show hosts across the country, ranging from national icons to those laboring in relative obscurity. Aside from the hosts whose sheer numbers and fame demand their inclusion on this list, the selection process is subjective with the goal being to create a list reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor as well as giving credit where credit is due. The TALKERS magazine editors who painstakingly compile this super-list draw upon a combination of hard and soft factors when evaluating candidates. These include (in alphabetical order): courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness. We acknowledge that it is as much art as science and that the results are arguable. There is one concrete qualification for inclusion. Hosts must be working at the time TALKERS magazine initially posts the list in order to be considered. They must have a regularly scheduled professional show on the air at a minimum of one terrestrial or satellite radio station at “press time.” The list remains intact from that point forward until the next year’s edition. In past years, TALKERS magazine has included sports talk hosts in the Heavy Hundred. Last year, due to the massive growth in the sports talk genre, sports talk radio has earned a Heavy Hundred of its own, the 2013 installment of which will be published by TALKERS in the coming months. TALKERS magazine salutes the fine broadcasters who made this year’s list. To view it, click here.
Martha Zoller’s Gettin’ Busy. Georgia talk show host Martha Zoller recently returned to the radio after an unsuccessful run for Congress last year. She’s heard on Cox Media Group’s WGAU, Athens in AM drive with co-host Tim Bryant and – she tells TALKERS – now on about 10 affiliate stations across the state.
KMOX, St. Louis Brings Chris Hrabe in from Memphis for Evening Sports Show. The 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight “Dave Sinclair Sports Hub” has a new host as KMOX brings Chris Hrabe in from Flinn Broadcasting’s WHBQ, Memphis, beginning April 4. Hrabe (pronounced RAY-bee) will host Cardinals and Blues post-game shows in addition to the aforementioned shift. He’ll also be responsible for contributing content to KMOX.com. Director of programming and operations Steve Moore states, “Chris is a terrific addition to our sports team. He’s a talented and accomplished broadcaster, with roots in the Midwest. He’s well versed in Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and his recent career experience has provided him tremendous insight into the Southeastern Conference. Sports fans in St. Louis will be pleased to hear his fresh insights and we are confident he’ll make an immediate impact on our programming.”
Savvy Texas Broadcaster Brings Pontiff Selection to Local Audience. Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports to TALKERS about KTBB, Tyler, Texas owner Paul Gleiser’s taking ownership of the new Pope selection story. He writes: Station managers across the US were already coping with ownership demands for digital and social media revenue as two news items this week complicated such planning: Arbitron issued a “Social Media Do’s & Don’ts” memo and the Federal Trade Commission issued guidelines for sponsored social media content. Meanwhile, KTBB, Tyler owner/GM/pundit Paul Gleiser (pictured at left in Vatican City) spent a week in Rome…making money with internet content…in market #142. Full disclosure: Paul is my longtime, long-suffering client; and, admittedly, his coverage of this week’s papal transition hit the ground running because he covered the same story eight years ago. In both cases, he sold the sponsorship to – you guessed it – the local Catholic hospital. And he’s a Methodist! Other local advertisers fund his on-site coverage of the national political conventions every four years, and the full week he and his sports guy spend at the Super Bowl run-up, and other special stuff. Those sponsors get extra bang for their buck when the local TV station Paul also filed for let him plug them on the tube. Win-win-win. All accomplished with equipment in checked luggage, and an assist from ABC News Radio, of which KTBB is an affiliate. See/hear/read what Paul filed from Rome here, and ask yourself “Why not?” What can you craft for advertisers that delivers them, and your listeners, something special?
KINB, Oklahoma City Flips to Sports Talk. The Kingfisher, Oklahoma-licensed FM station had been airing a standards format for the past two years (it was an alternative outlet before that). The station is part of the Last Bastion Trust including other stations Citadel had to jettison in order to complete the 2007 ABC Radio deal. A proposed sale to Ferris O’Brien in 2010 never was consummated and the station’s remained in the trust ever since. The flip from “105.3 The Martini” to “105.3 The Pro” using CBS Sports Radio Network’s programming happened on March 12.
Odds & Sods. Keith Olbermann settles with Current TV over his firing. According to numerous media reports – including The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.com – though the details are confidential, Olbermann and Current TV have settled his $50 million suit against the Al Gore-owned cable network that’s in the process of being sold to Al Jazeera…..Clear Channel’s sports KTKR, San Antonio agrees to renew its deal with the Houston Astros to carry the team’s games during the 2013 season…..Mark Evans moves from adult contemporary WIKY, Evansville, Indiana to sunny San Diego to become the news man on the “Mornings with Chip and LaDona” AM drive show at Clear Channel’s KOGO.
Washington Sequester/Deficit Battle, New Pope Named, North Korea Threats, Upstate New York Shootings, and Gun Legislation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/13). The debate in Washington over the sequester and moves to reduce the budget deficit; Catholic Church names new Pope; ongoing threats by North Korea; fatal shooting rampage in Upstate New York; and gun legislation proposals were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.