Tag: "The Answer"

Friday, October 31, 2014

| October 31, 2014

2014hhsports-header only 200TALKERS Magazine Presents 2014 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk.  Today (10/31), the editors of TALKERS magazine present the third annual Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America.  This list ranks sports talk hosts, duos or ensembles from 1 to 100, based upon a set of criteria that includes a combination of hard and soft factors.  The genre of sports talk radio has evolved greatly and grown exponentially over the past 10 years to go from being a fringe format to an important sub-genre of spoken-word radio programming.  With this in mind, the editors of TALKERS debuted the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk in 2012 to acknowledge the hard-working air personalities on sports talk radio.  The results of this list are, admittedly, subjective.  Being  true to the realities of the media business, ratings and revenue are two of the major factors – some would say they are the only factors worth considering – but the editors also took into account other qualities that help create a list that is reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor and still give credit where credit is due.  Those qualities include: courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness.  The other concrete qualification for inclusion is hosts must be working – that is, have a regularly scheduled professional show on the air at a minimum of one terrestrial or satellite radio station – at the time of publication.  Now you know the criteria, so who’s #1 this year? Number two, and three?  Click here to find out.

ppmunitRound Four of October PPM Data Released.  The fourth of four rounds of October 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford.  The survey period was September 11 through October 8.  TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here.  In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.

salemcommunicationsTwo More Salem News/Talkers Take ‘The Answer’ Brand.  Joining the 11 Salem Communications-owned news/talk station to begin using “The Answer” as their brand are WRC, Washington and KLUP, San Antonio.  Beginning November 4, they become “AM 1260 The Answer” and “AM 930 The Truth,” respectively.  Salem VP director of spoken word format Phil Boyce comments, “Since this is decision day in America, we felt the perfect time to make the brand name switch was on Election Day, and both markets were ready to go.”  Boyce says the brand has resonated with listeners in the markets where the company is using it.

napabroadcasting logoSchechtman Launches Local Digital Effort NapaBroadcasting.com.  Napa Valley broadcasting pro Jeff Schechtman – for the past 10 years the GM of radio stations KVON and KVYN in the region – is launching an online radio station targeting the Napa Valley community.  Schechtman is partnering with Napa Valley College and the operation’s offices and studios are located on the school’s campus.  In a press release, Schechtman notes that since leaving KVON and KVYN, former local talk station KVON flipped to sports using Fox schechtmanjeffSports Radio and he says both stations have outsourced their news.  “There is currently no original audio reporting and no chance for the community to hear the voices of local leaders, opinion makers or other citizens.”  He says his venture hopes to provide that local content.  “Suddenly it became clear to me and others in the community that there was a huge need for local programming that wasn’t being served.  Napa also provides a unique economic opportunity, because in addition to local news and talk, we can expand the effort to incorporate wine, food and health programing, which has both local and worldwide appeal.  We can use the internet for both local, regional and worldwide purposes.”  The partnership with Napa Valley College provides both programming and creative personnel.  Music programing will also start in January.  Schechtman believes that being on a college campus helps provide the energy and creativity that represents what this effort is about.  “This is radio for the way we live now,” he explains.

r'nelgaryOdds & Sods.  With the move of evening host Rich Zeoli from the evening shift to afternoon drive at CBS RADIO’s WPHT, Philadelphia, current afternoon drive co-host Gary R’nel slides back into the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm time slot.  R’nel has been working with Dick Morris who exits the station on November 5…..New general managers are named by Salem Communications for its San Diego and Sacramento station groups.  Dale Hendry relocates to San Diego to lead the team there. He moves south from the company’s Sacramento cluster where he’s been serving as GM.  Taking over Hendry’s role in Sacramento is Mark Durkin who is promoted from his director of sales position.  And Scott Hamilton becomes general sales manager in Sacramento.

B&OLive showBig Bax & O’Brien Bash in Springfield.  The long-running, highly-successful morning talk team of Bax & O’Brien (Mike “Bax” Baxendale and John O’Brien) of Saga Communications’ classic rocker, WAQY (Rock 102), Springfield, Massachusetts presented their second annual “Thursday Night Live” show last night (10/30).  The bawdy, irreverent comedy spectacular played before a sold-out house of more than 200 core fans at downtown Springfield’s prestigious City Stage theater whoharrisongoldsteinBOsmall paid $27 each for the honor of being entertained by a slew of guests and performers that included salty crooner Red Peters & the Alan Pinchloaf Singers, show producer/newsman/sidekick Steve Nagel, a “mystery guest,” comedic appearances by several high-profile local sponsors as well as hilarious video drop ins from Lionel of LionelMedia.com and show regular, Fitsy. Pictured above (l-r):  Bax & O’Brien on stage.  Pictured at right (l-r): Saga Communications EVP Steve Goldstein and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison with a photo bomb appearance of associate publisher Matthew B. Harrison taken at a selfie machine set up in the theater lobby.

journalcommunicationsJournal Reports Radio Revenue Up 5.1% in Q3.  Bucking the industry-wide third quarter trend, Journal Communications is reporting a downright outstanding quarter for its radio and television division.  On the radio side, operating earnings were up 16.1% and the net revenue figure of $21.6 million saw a percentage hike of 5.1%.  Television net revenue was up 22.8% but publishing fell 5.4%.  The irony here is that Journal is entering into a complex deal with E.W. Scripps that would put the combined TV and radio properties into one company and the publishing platform into another called Journal Media Group.  Journal Communications CEO Steve Smith states, “Journal benefitted from continued growth in television retransmission revenue along with significant political and issue advertising spending in a number of our markets.  Our focused broadcast sales efforts grew both television and radio revenue, excluding retransmission and political, by approximately 3% and drove television and radio digital revenue up 22% and 31%, respectively.”  Journal has fared better than other radio station owners in the political advertising arena by luck of the draw – it owns stations in states and markets with tight and high-profile races and ballot issues.

wmaldiner10-14Another Stop on the ‘WMAL Diner Tour.’  This photo is from the latest stop on the October “WMAL Diner Tour” in which the station broadcasts (each Friday this month) live from a different diner in Maryland or Virginia.  It’s all part of the station’s content leading up to Tuesday’s elections.  Seen here are (from left to right): guest Ed Henry, Fox News White House correspondent; WMAL “Mornings On The Mall” hosts Larry O’Connor and Brian Wilson.

Mid-Term Elections Take Over Top Spot on Talkers TenTM.  After three weeks of the Ebola pandemic threat as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio, the run-up to Tuesday’s mid-term elections was the prevailing topic this week.  At #2 was the domestic Ebola cases and the threat of a global pandemic.  Coming in at #3 was the battle against ISIS in Iraq and Western citizens joining the radical organization, followed by the 2016 presidential prospects at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

KFWBsports legendsLos Angeles Sports Media Legends.  The opening of the Los Angeles Clippers 2014-15 season was the reason for the remote broadcast from “Fan Fest” outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the team’s flagship KFWB “The Beast 980.”  Pictured here are (from left to right): Ralph Lawler, who appears on the station at 7:30 each morning; midday personality Fred Roggin; and late morning syndicated talk host Jim Rome.  Additionally, the station’s other weekday personalities Marques Johnson, Jeanne Zelasko, Brett Winterble and George Wrighster appeared at the broadcast.

Monday, April 15, 2013

| April 15, 2013

sheppardpeteWeekend Talk Host Pete Sheppard Quits During WEEI, Boston Saturday Program.  Telling listeners that he’s no longer happy working for the company, WEEI, Boston weekend talk host Pete Sheppard abruptly quit on-air during his Saturday evening show.  Sheppard, who was a long-time fixture on the former Glenn Ordway-hosted PM drive “Big Show” and was fired from that post due to budget cuts in 2010, was hired back for part-time duties about a year ago.  Sheppard even went so far as to tease his on-air exit by Tweeting that he had something special coming up.  He also specified that his problem was with Entercom management and not program director Jason Wolfe.

sternhowardLegal Analysis and Brief Historical Background of “Stern Versus Sirius” Suit.  Sometimes it is, as Mel Brooks commented in his movie “The History of the World, Part One,” good to be the king.  But other times it is not.  Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” took a hit last week when the dismissal of his lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio, Inc. in which he sought more than $300 million in stock awards was upheld by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.  In order to understand Stern’s lawsuit, which he filed in 2011, it is important to review the history of Stern’s relationship with Sirius.  In an illuminating article posted today (4/15) TALKERS legal editor Steve Weisman explains both the background and legal tenets of this important, high-profile (and big bucks) radio industry case.  To read it, click here.

oneildannyBonneville’s KIRO-AM, Seattle Names Danny O’Neil Late Morning Co-Host.  Bonneville’s “710 ESPN Seattle” names market sports journalist Danny O’Neil co-host of the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program alongside Brock Huard.  O’Neil replaces Mike Salk who moved to WEEI, Boston earlier this month.  The “Brock & Danny Show” debuts today.  The station states that in addition to his on-air duties, O’Neil will write a daily Seattle-focused sports column/blog on 710Sports.com.  During the NFL season, O’Neil will cover the Seattle Seahawks to provide fans with an inside perspective on the team.  O’Neil did three stints with the Seattle Times (1996-97; 1999-2002; 2006-2013) and also wrote for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 2002-2006.  KIRO-AM vice president and general manager Dave Pridemore states, “We are extremely excited about teaming up Danny O’Neil with Brock Huard on 710 ESPN Seattle.  I’m sure our listeners will appreciate the combination of an athlete’s insight and analysis with a journalist’s curiosity and straight forward perspective.”  Program director Brian Long says, “Brock and Danny have a natural chemistry and genuine likability that will make for a smart entertaining listen for the Seattle sports fan.”

millerchrisEncouragement and Advice for Lonely Digital “True Believers” at Radio Stations.  Noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller says, “True Believers are the radio folks I talk to who just know deep in their heart of hearts that the brilliant use of our digital tools could help radio be the best it could possibly be.  When I talk with them, they often just see so clearly how to fit all our different platforms together and how to use them.  Most of them seem to feel a level of frustration, too.  I suspect that’s because they are often the one person at work who is both knowledgeable and passionate about the potential of these tools.”  If you think that describes you, in an article posted to today in TALKERS, Miller serves up several good ideas on how to lessen your frustration level as well as help position you as the radio/digital expert in your workplace and help accomplish your goals.  He suggests starting small, pressing for constant improvement and creating an industry-wide community of like-minded broadcasters.  To read Chris Miller’s entire piece, click here.

beckglennGlenn Beck Named Recipient of 2013 Freedom of Speech Award.  The editorial board of TALKERS magazine has named Premiere Networks syndicated radio host, CEO/founder of Mercury Radio Arts, and founder of TheBlazeGlenn Beck the recipient of the 2013 Freedom of Speech Award.  The award is one of the most prestigious honors presented annually in the talk media industry.  The award is presented to an individual in the talk media industry who courageously demonstrates the First Amendment in action, productively promotes its vitality, and inspires increased public awareness of its tenets.  It has an extremely colorful history, sparking heated controversial battles on some occasions, and accruing a roster of outspoken, dynamic recipients as diverse as the medium itself.  Past honorees include Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Michael Savage, Bob Grant, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Al Franken, Juan Williams, Joe Madison, Matt Drudge, Norm Pattiz, Brian Lamb, Jim Farley and more. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “This is a tough award to present – especially when the recipient is a politically controversial figure — because people who view the world through the lens of partisan politics immediately see the award as an endorsement of the position expressed by the recipient, as opposed to its deeper, principled meaning.  The only political position held and espoused by TALKERS magazine is our devotion to the tenets of the First Amendment.  Otherwise we are about as non-partisan as you can get.”  TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison adds, “This year’s recipient deserves the award for several reasons: First, he has shown enormous courage and creativity in expressing extremely controversial views on both talk radio and cable television; second, he stood up to the powers-that-be at his biggest single platform and dared to risk (and eventually lost) his lucrative job in the process; three, he demonstrates the vital role of showmanship and entertainment in artfully executing his craft within the commercial marketplace while still getting his points across (which is what this business is ultimately about); and four, he has intelligently designed a model of independent broadcasting through his pioneering development of an entrepreneurial ‘media station’ that serves to inspire others, create jobs and pave the way for the next generation of talk show hosts to carve their meaningful niches in the new 21st Century digital reality.”  The 2013 Freedom of Speech Award will be presented to Glenn Beck at Talkers New York 2013.  To see the entire up to the minute agenda, click here.

whi logoSalem Communications Re-Brands WHK, Cleveland “The Answer.”  Following the trend in branding taken by its news/talk stations in New York, Los Angeles, Riverside, Dallas, Houston, Columbus, and Chicago, Salem Communications announced WHK, Cleveland becomes “AM 1420 The Answer.”  Salem VP director of spoken word format Phil Boyce says, “As our listeners are preparing to write Uncle Sam that fat check, I can’t think of a better day to give Cleveland ‘The Answer’ to why their taxes are so high.  We have the answer for little things like ‘why am I stuck in traffic’ to bigger things like what can conservatives do to win back the White House.”  The on-air lineup, consisting of Salem Radio Network programs, remains the same.  The station adds morning news anchor Jim McIntyre, “one of the most trusted news voices in Greater Cleveland,” as part of its local news, traffic and weather team.  The station is adding a new late night program dubbed, “The 11th Hour,” hosted by McIntyre and Cleveland talk host Tom Kelly that will air at 11:00 pm.  The station says the show “will focus on both local and statewide stories that affect the WHK audience, with news updates and interviews of the day’s newsmakers and journalists.”  Station general manager Mark Jaycox states, “These are very exciting times at Salem Communications of Northeast Ohio.  To be able to take a station like WHK – one rich in Cleveland heritage and Ohio tradition and celebrating its 91st birthday this year – and make it even more relevant and current, while maintaining that strong identity, we are confident our WHK listeners will be pleased with this change.”

mid-westfamilybroadcasting logoMid-West Family Broadcasting Acquires Wisconsin and Illinois Stations from Maverick for $15.5 Million.  Just days after Connecticut-based Maverick Media announced the sale of its Santa Rosa, California stations to Lawrence Amaturo-led Sonoma Media Group, we learn that Mid-West Family Broadcasting is buying Maverick’s Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Rockford Illinois clusters.  The stations in the Rockford market are: adult hits WRTB “Bob FM 95.3,” AC WGFB “B103 FM,” rock WXRX, and comedy WNTA-AM/FM “Funny 1330.”  In Eau Claire, the stations are: news/talk WAYY, sports talk WEAU “ESPN 1150,” classic rock WECL “92.9 The Big Cheese,” AC WIAL, “I-94,” adult hits WDRK “Bob FM 99.9,” and country WAXX.  In a statement, Mid-West Family Broadcasting president Tom Walker says, “We have wanted to grow our company for some time and want to bring the ideals of locally owned radio back to these two cities.  The stations in both Eau Claire and Rockford will continue serving their local markets with the quality programming Mid-West Family brings to all its stations.”

mcconnellmiltMilt McConnell Joins Alpha Broadcasting’s Portland Cluster as SVP and GM.  Former Cumulus Albuquerque market manager Milt McConnell is named the senior vice president and general manager at Alpha Broadcasting’s Portland, Oregon cluster.  McConnell was part of a recent exodus of staffers from the Albuquerque operations that included longtime KKOB talk host Jim Villanucci.  On his new post in Portland overseeing properties including hot AC KBFF “Live 95.5,” triple A KINK, country KUPL “98.7 The Bull,” sports KXTG-AM “750 The Game,” news/talk KXL “FM News 101,” and talk KUFO “Freedom 970,” McConnell says, “I am just thrilled to get back to live and locally owned radio.  What Larry Wilson and Bob Proffitt have crafted with these premier brands at Alpha/Portland is incredible and I am excited about growing our influence in this dynamic city.  The Alpha culture is very reminiscent of the boom years when we were growing Citadel.  The cherry on top is that I get to work with formats that I have experience with and am extremely passionate about.”

smerconishmichaelOdds & Sods.  CBS Radio’s WPHT, Philadelphia debuts its new PM drive program hosted by Dick Morris.  The show is airing from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm…..Meanwhile, longtime WPHT personality Michael Smerconish makes his move to SiriusXM Satellite Radio today.  The program airs on the POTUS channel from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET….Speaking of SiriusXM, the satcaster began a six-week run of a special program hosted by Breitbart News Network chairman Stephen K. Bannon called “Breitbart News Sunday with Stephen K. Bannon” last night at 7:00 pm ET on its conservative talk SiriusXM Patriot channel.  The three-hour call-in show is said to feature commentary and analysis on the stories and narratives that will drive the upcoming week’s news cycle from the editors and contributors of the Breitbart News Network.

miklaszbernieBernie Miklasz to Appear on WXOS, St. Louis Daily.  When WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN” midday talk host Bernie Miklasz announced he’d be leaving his daily program on the Hubbard Broadcasting sports talker to focus on his work with the St. Louis Dispatch, the station said it hoped to still have him contributing on a regular basis.  Now, it’s announced that Miklasz will be a regular guest and will be featured at the following times: Monday afternoons at 4:30 on “The Fast Lane,” Tuesday mornings at 9:30 with “Zach and Rammer,” Wednesday evenings at 5:30 on “The Fast Lane,” Thursday mornings 10:30 with “Zach and Rammer,” and Friday afternoons at 12:30 on the new midday program.  Program director Chris “Hoss” Neupert states, “We are thrilled that Bernie Miklasz will still be a part of the ‘101ESPN’ team.  His experienced analysis regarding the local St. Louis and national sports scene is immeasurable, and our listeners really value his comments and opinions.”

barberrickLongtime Denver Talk Host Rick Barber Facing ALS Battle.  Rick Barber was a talk show host on KOA, Denver for more than 30 years.  He exited the station in January of 2012 and was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – several months ago.  Now, former fellow Denver talk host Peter Boyles is helping alert the industry to Barber’s situation and providing information where people can make donations.  Find that on Boyles’ KHOW, Denver page here.

greatermediagoodguysGreater Media’s Peter Smyth Honored by Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.  Greater Media chairman and CEO Peter Smyth is pictured here at the 12th Annual Good Guys Awards on Thursday, April 11 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston.  The awards event was produced by the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus which honored Smyth for his continued support of women and families in Massachusetts.  Smyth is an active philanthropist working with many organizations that advocate for women and families including the United Way of Massachusetts, the New England Baptist Hospital and Emerson College. In addition, he is a supporter of GRLZ Radio, a radio station giving young women a voice in their community.  MWPC executive director Priti Rao states, “We were very excited to honor Peter Smyth as one of our Good Guys.  His dedicated advocacy to advance women serves as a role model to our community. His support of programs and initiatives that improve the welfare and safety of women and families has been indispensable.”  Pictured here are (from l-r): Greater Media VP of corporate communication Heidi Raphael, “HOT 96.9” morning show co-host Pebbles, Greater Media Boston market manager Rob Williams, Smyth, “Hot 96.9” APD and digital media brand manager Jill Strada, WROR general sales manager Matt DiRoberto and Greater Media VP of program development Buzz Knight.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

| November 28, 2012

“The Answer” Gets Manhattan Street-Level Presence.  Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York “AM 970 The Answer” has Manhattan street-level presence as the PM drive show featuring Curtis Sliwa and Jeffrey Lichtman are now hosting their show from a studio in the department-store type window setting at the historic Hotel Pennsylvania in Midtown Manhattan.  Pictured here are  Sliwa (r) and Lichtman (l) hosting a recent edition of their program.  Salem Communications vice president director of spoken-word format Phil Boyce states, “This not only gives our hosts a bird’s-eye view of Midtown Manhattan, but allows literally thousands of daily passersby to see ‘Curtis & Jeffrey’ and ‘WNYM AM 970 THE ANSWER’ prominently displayed in the heart of our listening area.  This marquee location on 7th Ave and 33rd Street, is located across from the Long Island Railroad, Penn Station, a subway hub, Macy’s and is around the corner from the NJ PATH train.  The value of this degree of exposure and publicity for our station and two of our best known hosts is incalculable.  It’s also across from the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, which on any given night might host the Knicks, the Rangers or innumerable other sporting and entertainment events.”

Russ Rollins and Dirty Jim Re-Up with WTKS, Orlando; Daniel Dennis Exits.  The Monsters in the Morning program at Clear Channel’s hot talk WTKS, Orlando is one talent fewer after co-host Daniel Dennis declines to sign a new three-year contract with the station.  Program founder and host Russ Rollins, along with co-host Dirty Jim, both signed new three-year deals to continue broadcasting the AM drive program on the station but Dennis tells the Orlando Sentinel he didn’t want the contract but would rather have continued as an at-will employee.  He hosts a weekly internet talk show called, “A Mediocre Time with Tom and Dan” that can be heard at tomanddan.com.

Alan Eisenson Exits Clear Channel Sacramento.  Talk radio programmer Alan Eisenson leaves his position as operations manager for Clear Channel’s Sacramento cluster where he served as operations manager for news/talk KFBK-AM/FM and talk KSTE.  Eisenson was also in charge of programming at CC’s San Francisco talk outlets KKSF and KNEW.

Odds & Sods.  SiriusXM brings iconic film star and polarizing historical figure Jane Fonda to its “Town Hall” series.  The actress will be part of the “SiriusXM Town Hall” on Thursday, December 6 at 10:00 am when she’ll sit down with journalist Perri Peltz and speak about her new yoga DVD and take questions from the audience…..On Thursday, November 29, radio pro Turi Ryder will sit in for John Williams on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago on the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm program…..ABC TV’s “Good Morning America” is preparing to do something it hasn’t done in 17 years: Win the coveted November sweeps.  Broadcasting & Cable reports the show is beating NBC’s “Today” in both total audience and viewers 25-54 as the end of the sweeps approaches.

CNN Has a New Chief: Jeff Zucker.  That’s not official but The New York Times and Deadline.com are reporting that Time Warner has agreed to terms with former NBCUniversal CEO and current executive producer of Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show, Jeff Zucker.  The official announcement is expected to be made very soon.  Zucker would replace Jim Walton at CNN.  Walton announced he would leave the cable news channel at the end of the year.  CNN has been roundly beaten up in the consumer press for its woes in the prime time ratings race but it should be noted that, ratings aside, CNN continues to be a profitable operation for Time Warner.  Still, Zucker’s charge would be to revitalize its prime time ratings that have fallen farther behind Fox News Channel and are regularly challenged by MSNBC.

ESPN Begins Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research; Announces $1 Million Donation to the Cause.  Yesterday began sports entertainment broadcaster ESPN’s Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research and the company announced it is committing $1 million to the fundraising effort for the endowment fund.  ESPN executive chairman George Bodenheimer made the announcement on Tuesday, November 27 and Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg made it public via their radio and TV program that day.  ESPN’s sixth annual Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research – a multiplatform initiative which drives awareness of and donations to The V Foundation for Cancer Research – tipped off yesterday at 7:00 pm ET with a simulcast of former NC State coach Jim Valvano’s 1993 ESPYs speech across ESPN domestic media networks, as well as on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square.  The week will conclude with the Jimmy V Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona Extra on Monday, December 3 and Tuesday, December 4.  For more information on Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research, visit ESPN Media Zone.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Launches Holiday Giving Campaign.  The organization that exists solely to assist broadcasters in need is announcing the start-up of its Holiday Giving Campaign.  The Broadcasters Foundation of America – which disbursed more than $675,000 in assistance last year – is urging broadcasters to become members and to spread the word about this campaign.  BFoA chairman Phil Lombardo says, “The Broadcasters Foundation exists solely to provide financial relief to broadcasters in need.  These are individuals who we have worked with over the years, and whose lives have been devastated by unthinkable circumstances.  Aid from the Broadcasters Foundation can be life-saving, in many cases.  I urge every broadcaster to consider making a donation or becoming a member.”  Over the past 60 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has distributed millions of dollars in aid to hundreds of broadcasters who lost their livelihood through a catastrophic event, debilitating disease, or unforeseen family tragedy.  In addition, one-time emergency grants are provided in the aftermath of a devastating circumstance or natural disaster, like the Joplin tornadoes and Hurricane Sandy.  Individual membership is only $150 a year and can make a difference in the life of a colleague who has fallen on desperate times.  To become a member, make a personal donation to the Guardian Fund, or a corporate contribution to the Angel Initiative, please contact the Broadcasters Foundation at 212-373-8250, info@thebfoa.org, or visit the website at www.broadcastersfoundation.org.

‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, OECD Global Economy Report, Black Friday/Cyber Monday Numbers, Benghazi Attack/Susan Rice-GOP Meeting, and Powerball Jackpot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/27).  The battle in Washington over tax hikes and entitlement program changes; the OECD global economy report that predicts slow growth over the next two years; initial numbers from holiday season’s two big shopping days; the spat over U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice’s meeting with GOP leaders; and the $500 million Powerball jackpot in Wednesday’s drawing were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Monday, October 29, 2012

| October 29, 2012

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: jim@thebfoa.org.”

Orlando Radio Institution Jim Turner to Retire from WDBO.  Jim Turner has been with Cox Media’s WDBO, Orlando since it was a music outlet joining the station as afternoon jock in 1972.  He made the transition to morning drive host 12 years later and was chosen by then program director David Bernstein to lead the station as it changed from a music station to a news and information outlet.  Now, 40 years later, Turner will retire from the radio business and KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa morning host Joe Kelly will take over the morning role at WDBO.  Kelly will join WDBO on November 19 and will transition into the morning role.  A final broadcast for Turner has not been announced.  WDBO program director Drew Anderssen states, “Jim is a broadcast icon.  He has been revered as one of the premier morning hosts in America for many years, a true professional, and a great man.  We stand by Jim in celebration of his 40 years of community service and dedication to Central Florida as he begins to write a new page in his life.  He will truly be missed as the daily voice of morning news in Orlando radio.”  In Tulsa, program director Levi May begins the search for the replacement of Joe Kelly.  May states, “We are very excited about the opportunity to bring new, outstanding talent to KRMG and further grow our listening audience.  KRMG is dedicated to being Tulsa’s number one station for news, weather, and traffic and we will always remain committed to that pledge.”

Martha Zoller to Return to Radio in 2013.  Gainesville, Georgia-based talk show host Martha Zoller left her radio show on WXKT, Gainesville this year to run for Congress in the 9th Georgia District.  She lost a close race in the Republican primary and now says she will return to the radio in January of 2013 though she’s not saying where just yet.  In the meantime, Zoller will appear on Talk Radio Network-produced morning program “America’s Morning News” tomorrow morning to discuss the Campaign to Fix the Debt.  Zoller sits on the steering committee for the campaign.

Premiere to Handle Ad Sales for 24/7 Comedy.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s 24/7 Comedy format will have ad sales and national syndicated handled by the company’s Premiere Networks.  24/7 Comedy debuted in 2010 and currently had about 30 affiliates and boasts a library of more than 15,000 comedy bits.  Clear Channel president of content and affiliate services for national media groups Julie Talbott says, “24/7 Comedy provides stations with the unique opportunity to own comedy in their market with an audience engaging format.  Comedy has universal consumer appeal across all forms of media, so we’re excited to deliver this ratings-winning format to more radio stations across the U.S.”

Salem Preparing for LMA of Columbus FM; Conservative Talk Lineup Appears Likely.  The domain 989TheAnswer.com registered to Salem Communications seems to indicate that the company will flip Radio One’s WJKR, Columbus “JackFM” to its conservative news/talk format positioned with its “The Answer” slogan.  Salem, which is purchasing the station from Radio One, will assume operation of the station on Thursday, November 1 under an LMA and it’s expected the slate of Salem Radio Network programs – Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Dennis Prager – will occupy the program schedule.

Start Doing This Right Now on Facebook!  It’s a common belief that Facebook has drastically cut back on how many people see radio’s branded posts, so that broadcasters using the platform have to buy more advertising.  That may well be the case!  However, the Facebook folks are not only concerned about money, they’re also concerned about their version of time spent listening.  They want users to visit more often; and they want them to scroll further down their news feeds than they do now.  They may be limiting how much stuff people see from commercial enterprises, so that it doesn’t crowd out what they see from their friends and family.  In any event, according to radio digital consultant Chris Miller, radio can overcome these obstacles.  So, Miller presents TALKERS readers with the state-of-the-art techniques that will help you get seen more, and engaged with more often.  If you’re doing it right, that will then lead to more on-air and online usage of your radio station, which is the ultimate goal.  To read Chris Miller’s exclusive article, click here.

Comedian Adam Carolla Joins Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News Channel Program.  Comedian, radio host and producer of the one of the most popular podcasts Adam Carolla is becoming part of Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” as a contributor.  Bill O’Reilly – who still maintains a talk radio presence with his Courtside Entertainment-distributed “Talking Points” daily features – already uses comedian and Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Dennis Miller as a contributor.  Miller usually appears on Wednesdays while the Hollywood Reporter states Carolla will likely be a regular part of Monday’s programs.

WQAM’s Dan Sileo Gets TV Shot.  WQAM, Miami sports talk host Dan Sileo appears on the little screen this weekend when he joins the ACC Network when he appears on the pregame show from Charlotte with hosts Jeff Fischel and Dorsey Levens.  The program hits the air at 11:00 am ET on Saturday.

 

 

Gone to the Dogs.  KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller is living in a cage at the Canyon County Animal Shelter to promote the shelter’s Mission Pawsible Challenge that involves getting the most pets adopted out to families.  It’s part of the 3rd annual ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge.  By saving the most lives in the challenge, the shelter could win up to $100,000 that would go to helping feed, home, and keep all of the animals at the shelter healthy!  Miller is spending the 25th through the 31st of October in the cage you see here while broadcasting his program each morning.  Miller tells the Idaho Press he “would be lost” without his dogs Alabama and Carolina, so doing whatever he could for the shelter seemed right.  “We’ll be here to the final hour, the final minute, the final second, to get as many of these four-legged family members a forever home.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

| August 2, 2012

Chick-fil-A Controversy Fires Up Conservative Talk Hosts; Sparks Movement to Support Fast Food Chain.  The issues of gay marriage and First Amendment rights have been front and center on news/talk radio this week in the wake of Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy’s comments in a Baptist publication about his support for the Biblical definition of marriage that’s grown into a major news story.  Some view his statement as bigoted and divisive while others see this as a free speech issue.  The case has spurred planned demonstrations by same-sex couples and their supporters as well as conservative media personalities who have encouraged their listeners and viewers to support the fast food chain.  Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher is pictured here (at left) in his studio preparing to enjoy his Chick-fil-A lunch and has been encouraging listeners to post pictures of themselves eating at the restaurant on Facebook.  Salem Communications O&O WNYM, New York – AM 970 The Answer – organized a call for support at the Paramus, New Jersey Mall where the station reports some 200 listeners had lined up by lunchtime to support the store.  At right is talk show host Kevin McCullough (l)  – whose weekend talk show is heard on WNYM – with Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce (r) as they prepare to enjoy a sandwich.  In the panoramic photo below.  The Answer morning drive host Curtis Sliwa can be seen at the far right speaking with a listener while the line of customers spreads across the photo to the left.

Bill Handel’s “Cash Mob” Supports SoCal Toy Store.  A “cash mob” organized by KFI, Los Angeles morning drive host Bill Handel put some $9,000 in the register of struggling Corona del Mar toy store Toy Boat, Toy Boat, Toy Boat.  Handel appeared at the store from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm but Handel’s listeners patronized the store all day long after hearing Handel speak on the air about the state of the struggling local business.  Handel show executive producer Michelle Kube reports many of the people who bought toys donated them to Children’s Hospital of Orange County.  Kube states, “This was just the first.  We plan to do more of these across all day parts on KFI over the next few months all over the Southland as our amazing listeners have responded with so many requests to help local small business owners!”

Clear Channel Reports Radio Revenue Up 3%.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment – of course, now a private company but one that still publicly reports financials – gives its 2012 Q2 financial report and states revenue was up from $771.8 million in the second quarter of 2011 to $793 million in the second quarter of this year.  CFO Tom Casey reports much of that increase was due to national and in categories including automotive, telecommunications, financial services, political and entertainment.  Casey noted that national business rose at roughly double the rate of local business.

Comedian and Stephanie Miller Show Cast Member John Fugelsang Gets Current TV Show.  Regular Stephanie Miller radio show cast member – and one third of Miller’s “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” – John Fugelsang will have his own Current TV program beginning in the fall.  Talk radio host Stephanie Miller’s show is simulcast on the Al Gore-founded cable TV network in which Fugelsang gets some face time, but now he’ll have a solo gig there.  In a statement, Al Gore says, “We at Current are eager to bring John’s unique perspective on politics and the world around him to primetime.  He’s been a part of the Current family for a while now and we see just how much his voice resonates with our audience.  His new show will nicely complement our growing lineup.”  Fugelsang has guest-hosted prime time shows on the network including Eliot Spitzer’s and Jennifer Granholm’s programs.  The network has not announced what time the show will air.

WQSC, Charleston, South Carolina Flips to Talk.  The Kirkman Broadcasting station drops oldies for news/talk and airs largely syndicated programming with the exception of local PM drive host Rocky D.  Programming consists of: Cumulus Media NetworksImus in the Morning; Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher; Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham; Dial Global’s Dennis Miller and Jim Bohannon; and CBS Radio’s “Overnight America” with Jon Grayson.

California Couple Sentenced in Real Estate Ponzi Scheme; Infomercials Aired on KVTA, Port Hueneme.  It’s almost a mystery how stations keep selling infomercials to “investment gurus” who go on to swindle people out of their life savings…but they do.  The latest case in this oft-repeating story is that of Kenneth Powell and Kathryn Rose who pleaded guilty to numerous counts of felony fraud related to a real estate investment Ponzi scheme that scammed some $3 million out of 15 people in Southern California.  The two broadcast shows called “Academy of Real Estate,” “Money Intelligence” and “The Ken & Katie Show” on KVTA.  Investors were asked to put money into real estate development or loans secured by real estate but all investment cash went to pay off previous investors until the scheme went bust.  59-year-old Powell received 18 years in prison and 63-year-old Rose will serve 12 years, 8 months.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Journal Broadcasting’s news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee gave away a fully restored 1969 Chevy Camaro (pictured here) to winner Aaron Guenterberg in its annual “Free Ride” promotion that saw more than 10,000 people enter the contest…..A Saturday morning talk show hosted by Tony Stiles debuts on news/talk KOIL, Omaha this Saturday…..Jacksonville-based sports talk show “Courts and Sports,” hosted by attorney John Phillips, moves from WOKV to crosstown WFXJ, Jacksonville on August 9.  Phillips’ regular co-host for the program is Jacksonville Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings…..SiriusXM presents “College Sports Nation Camp Tour” on its College Sports Nation channel beginning today.  Hosts Eddie George, Gino Torretta, Rick Neuheisel, Houston Nutt, Randy Cross, Gil Brandt, Jack Arute and Mark Packer will visit 13 camps in 16 days and report to listeners.

20 Gallons of Hat.  WLAC, Nashville-based talk host Steve Gill (r) is pictured here with music legend Charlie Daniels (l).  Daniels appeared on Gill’s syndicated talk program on Tuesday, July 31 and the two talked politics and the state of the country.

Presidential Race, Chick-fil-A Case, Ted Cruz Texas Primary Victory, Fed Economic Report/Financial Markets Activities, and London Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/1).  The campaign for president, the outpouring of support for Chick-fil-A and the issue of same-sex marriage; Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz’s Republican primary victory for U.S. Senate in Texas; the Fed’s economic report and financial markets activities; and the London Olympics were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

| May 29, 2012

Mark Davis Back to Talk Host Duties in Big D on Salem’s KSKY.  Longtime Dallas media personality Mark Davis returns to the radio in the market on Salem Communications’ KSKY in the 7:00 am to 10:00 am time slot.  Davis, a Dallas Morning News columnist and television political commentator, exited Cumulus Media’s crosstown WBAP after 18 years in April when the two sides could not agree to a contract extension.  Now, Davis will follow Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett who airs on KSKY from 5:00 am to 7:00 am.  Salem Communications vice president and director of spoken word format Phil Boyce is also re-branding KSKY “The Answer” as he’s done with KRLA, Los Angeles; KTIE, Riverside/San Bernardino; and WNYM, New York.  Boyce states, “Adding an industry icon like Mark Davis, and re-branding the station as ‘The Answer’ will help take KSKY to the next level.  This station will truly be an answer for so many things going on in the metroplex and the world, with smart hosts who know how to help you understand all of those things, not to mention great news, traffic, weather and information.”  Davis begins his new position on Monday, June 4 and he says, “There’s been a lot of attention paid to talk radio lately, about whether companies and stations are losing the commitment to local shows where a bond can build over the years with listeners.  I love seeing the evidence that there is a company and a station looking to grow, rather than shrink that concept, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Sid Rosenberg to Return to the Air in South Florida.  Mercurial sports talk host Sid Rosenberg appears headed for a new gig at James Crystal Radio’s WMEN, West Palm Beach (licensed to Royal Palm Beach) according to a recent report in the Miami Herald.  Rosenberg most recently hosted the afternoon drive show at Beasley’s WQAM, Miami but exited that position after a well-publicized DUI arrest.  WMEN general manager Steve Lapa tells the Herald he expects WQAM to let Rosenberg out of his contract that runs through August – in exchange for financial concessions – and allow him to start with the station sooner rather than later but that WMEN would be willing to wait if necessary.  Lapa says Rosenberg is “a talented guy and he wants to work” and after meeting with him has no reservations about Rosenberg’s past issues with drink, drugs and gambling.  Where Rosenberg would fit into the schedule has not been announced.  The station is currently live and local from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm with Chris Perkins in AM drive, Troy Stradford in late mornings, Andy Slater in middays and Orlando Alzugaray in PM drive.

KFI, Los Angeles Engineer Tony Dinkel Exits as Position Eliminated.  He was just a day shy of his 29th anniversary at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles when he was notified his position as transmitter site broadcast engineer was being eliminated, but Tony Dinkel has nothing but fond memories of his time with the station.  The 57-year-old engineer tells the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan he’ll always remember all the great people he worked with at the station.  Dinkel also served as the remote engineer and station staffers praised Dinkel’s ability to get remote broadcasts off without a hitch.  Read more about Dinkel’s time with KFI in Lycan’s column here.

Cumulus Media’s Atlanta All-Newser Debuts Today.  All News 106.7 – the new news outlet Cumulus Media is putting on the air in Altanta – debuts today with a special radio documentary about the news business in Atlanta.  The program will repeat for most of the day and the actual all-news format should be live and running after that.  Cumulus made the decision to remove classic hits from WYAY-FM, Gainesville, Georgia more than a month ago and the station will be the first all-news outlet to serve Atlanta since WCNN back in the late 1990s.

Cox Media Drops Sports/Talk Hybrid “Bulldog 103.7”; Debuts Variety Hits Format.  The FM sports and news/talk station that was home to talk-host-turned-Congressional-candidate Martha Zoller – WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia (licensed to Maysville) – becomes a variety hits music station dubbed “Chuck FM.”  The station morphed into “Bulldog 103.7” last fall featuring a combination of sports talk and news/talk.  Gainesville-based talk host Martha Zoller held down the late morning show until her recent exit from the business to run for the open seat in the newly created Georgia congressional district.

WTOP, Washington Names “Commuter Idle” Contest Winner.  Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington held a contest to find – and reward – the person in the DC area with the worst commute.  And the winner – with a 100 mile, five-hour daily commute to and from work – is Brenda Wells from Sparrow’s Point, Maryland.  WTOP states Wells’ commute “begins at 3:00 am and her commute includes a 45-minute drive (complete with two tolls), a 50-minute train ride, two metro rides, a short walk and a metro bus ride.  Wells is a federal worker with the Department of State in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she assigns special agents to the consulates and embassies around the world.  She is a single mother of three and lives with her parents in Baltimore for financial and child care reasons.”  Wells wins $1,000 in gas money and a future limo ride to and from work courtesy of Reston Limousine.  WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “As the DC area’s #1 traffic authority, we feel our commuters’ pain.  We received hundreds of incredible stories from listeners who cope with crazy commutes just to make ends meet, and crowning a ‘winner’ was a challenge.  Brenda’s multi-faceted commute, the long distance, and the impact on her family are what put her over the top.”

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Legendary Southern California media personality Charlie Tuna – currently spinning classic hits at K-Earth 101 in Los Angeles – is named the new station voice of KDOC-TV, Los Angeles…..Sports USA announces the first part of the slate of National Football League games it will be offering to stations for the 2012 season beginning with the New England Patriots at the Tennessee Titans on September 9.  Sports USA says it will announce more NFL play-by-play approximately three weeks ahead of each week’s games…..The Nick Carioti real estate, money and business weekly radio talk show prepares to celebrate its one-year anniversary on Star Over Orlando’s WEUS, Orlando in July…..Performance Racing Network’s Wendy Venturini made history this weekend as the first woman to lead a NASCAR radio broadcast at the Charlotte Speedway’s History 300 on 5/26.  PRN paired her with Doug Rice in the radio booth for Saturday’s race.

Monday, March 12, 2012

| March 12, 2012

Controversy and Misinformation of Radio Advertising Keeps Rush Limbaugh in the News; Host Reportedly Refuses to Take Back Advertiser.  The consumer media continues to hang onto the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke issue with numerous stories and segments being published and produced over the weekend about the extent to which the controversy may be hurting advertising on Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh show as well as a wider swath of conservative talk radio.  In addition to the fluctuating count of advertisers that may or may not have left the Limbaugh program (depending on whether or not they actually advertised on the show in the first place as many reports cite firms that did not), outlets such as New York Magazine and The Daily Beast are writing about a memo from Premiere to affiliate stations detailing 98 companies that don’t want their goods or services advertised on controversial programming.  The memo gives examples of hosts including Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis (shows how old that memo is), Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean HannityTALKERS has pointed out to countless consumer media that have contacted our offices regarding this issue that “no controversial programming” dictates are common and practically as old as talk radio itself and not a unique reaction to the Limbaugh case – although certainly reiterated as a result of it.  TALKERS has also pointed out that monitoring a station’s internet feed does not reflect the same commercial content as the air feed since union regulations affect the degree to which union talent-voiced spots can air on the web.  Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee is reporting Rush Limbaugh is refusing to take retailer Sleep Train back as an advertiser.  The story cites Limbaugh spokesman Brian Glicklich stating the company sought to return to the Limbaugh show and the program replied to the Sacramento-based mattress retailer, “Rush received your requests personally.  Unfortunately, your public comments were not well received by our audience, and did not accurately portray either Rush Limbaugh’s character or the intent of his remarks.  Thus, we regret to inform you that Rush will be unable to endorse Sleep Train in the future.  Rush appreciates your long friendship and your past support, and we wish you good luck in the future.”

Celebrity-Founded Women’s Media Center Piles on Rush Limbaugh.  The organization co-founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan is using the Rush Limbaugh controversy to call to arms like-minded activists to petition the FCC to take Limbaugh off the air.  In an op-ed piece on CNN.com, the group reasons that Limbaugh – through his language and political opinions – is a purveyor of “hate speech” and therefore is not acting in the public interest.  The group is suggesting the stations whose licenses are up for renewal that carry Limbaugh’s program are not serving the “public interest” and need either pull the show or not have their licenses renewed.  The group states in the piece, “This isn’t political.  While we disagree with Limbaugh’s politics, what’s at stake is the fallout of a society tolerating toxic, hate-inciting speech.  For 20 years, Limbaugh has hidden behind the First Amendment, or else claimed he’s really “doing humor” or “entertainment.”  He is indeed constitutionally entitled to his opinions, but he is not constitutionally entitled to the people’s airways.”  It’s hard to tell what the motive here is – beyond polemicizing – since the FCC does not deal with issues of content in this way during the license renewal process.

Special Interest Group Intent on Hounding KFI, Los Angeles; Picks on Bill Handel’s Comment.  Time will tell if the latest salvo from the Los Angeles-based Black Media Alliance sticks to Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles or ricochets back to harm the goals of the very organization that fired it.  What’s for certain is the Black Media Alliance is taking a page from other special interest media “watchdog” groups and is recording every minute of KFI’s broadcasts and, when it hears something it doesn’t like, is firing off press releases and hoping for some traction.  It used a March 9 broadcast from the Bill Handel show for this purpose.  During a segment in which Handel comments on the news of the day with Gary Hoffman and Neil Saavedra, the topic of a California bill that would allow nurse practitioners to perform aspiration abortions came up.  Handel commented on a law in Kansas where doctors are required to have the women see sonograms prior to having an abortion and offered his opinion that those who don’t already understand the procedure are “dumb-ass women.”  BMA is using this comment to imply Handel has attacked all women.  Listen to the segment here.  There are numerous issues at play here but TALKERS will address the primary ones.  The tenor of Bill Handel’s program hasn’t changed and presumably his advertisers know what they’re buying.  If an advertiser boycott of Handel’s program is what the BMA seeks, it may find the going tougher for Handel’s Southern California show than national groups are for the Rush Limbaugh controversy.  That’s generally the way these cases work.  Handel broke no FCC rules and we believe it’s unlikely he or KFI will apologize – so far neither has.  During the discussion, you can hear both sides of the issue being debated by the air talent.  This is exactly the kind of public debate of important issues Supreme Court rulings, such as New York Times v. Sullivan, protects and which the Court admits could be controversial.  Justice Brennan even wrote of the “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.”  The most important issue for the BMA is whether this tactic will cause it to be perceived by the public as nitpicking and a pest instead of being seen as an organization with goals of diversity and fairness.

Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York Rebrands as “The Answer.”  The New York news/talk outlet formerly known as “The Apple” hits the air today with an altered programming schedule and the new handle, “The Answer.”  Salem Communications VP and director of the spoken word format Phil Boyce states, “The new name will more accurately reflect who we are and what the benefit is to listening to us.  ‘The Answer’ just popped into my head my first week here, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  We are the answer to so many questions, from ‘what happened while you slept?’ to ‘is it gonna rain?’ to ‘why am I stuck in traffic?’”  The company notes the new station lineup is as follows: Salem Radio Network syndicated Bill Bennett‘s “Morning in America” from 5:00 am to 7:00 am, local host Curtis Sliwa from 7:00 am to 10:00 am, Dial Global’s Dennis Miller from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, SRN’s Dennis Prager from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, SRN’s Michael Medved from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm; Curtis and attorney Jeffrey Lichtman from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; and SRN’s Hugh Hewitt from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  Boyce says new imaging will create a hip, younger sound for the station, heavy on a New York-style attitude.  “New Yorkers are slightly jaded and a little sarcastic, so we wanted the sound of our station to reflect the city we serve.”  In describing his collaboration with voiceover talent Lonnie Perkins, Boyce gushed, “I told him to sound like that ‘Mayhem Man’ commercial for Allstate Insurance.” The new imaging includes new top of hour ID’s, promos, and show opens.  Boyce wanted to re-arrange the lineup to “put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle” together in the right order.

Heidi Harris Exits KDWN.  Word from Las Vegas is that KDWN, Las Vegas morning talk show host Heidi Harris has exited her position at the Beasley Broadcasting-owned news/talker.  Sources inside the station tell TALKERS that the relationship between Harris and KDWN management had been strained for some time now and finally reached the breaking point.  Heidi Harris, a multi-repeat member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred is considered by industry observers to be a rising star.  The conservative host has been a regular contributor and guest on the progressive Ed Schultz Show on MSNBC and speaker at the New Media Seminar.  Harris has not responded to e-mail requests by TALKERS for comment and confirmation but her presence on the KDWN website has been removed.  More details as they are available.

WMAL, Washington Re-Positions AM Drive Show; Mary Katherine Ham Exits.  The former “Morning Majority” AM drive show at Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington is now “Mornings on the Mall” with Brian Wilson and Bryan Nehman as Mary Katherine Ham – who joined WMAL last summer – leaves the program.  Ham wrote on her blog earlier this week,It has been a pleasure to work with Bryan Nehman and Brian Wilson – two consummate broadcast professionals who generously taught this n00b as much as they could.  And, though I’m new to radio, it’d be hard to imagine a producer more capable than our executive producer Heather Smith, who I remain convinced does not require sleep (in an industrious way, not a vampire way).  The folks at the company had a vision for a different, independent role for me at the station, but we just weren’t able to come to an agreement that would make it work, so I’m off to do my other jobs.  I’m constantly thankful I have the freedom to make decisions like that, and realize it’s a tremendous blessing to have such options.”  Ham is an analyst at Fox News Channel and is a contributing writer for The Daily Caller.

Firesign Theater Founder Peter Bergman Dies.  One of the founders of the radio comedy show Firesign Theater has died at age 72 after a battle with Leukemia.  Peter Bergman and three fellow comedians — Phillip Proctor, David Ossman and Phil Austin – created the radio program that spawned four must-have comedy albums (released between 1968 and 1972) for college-age hippies of the time.  Bergman was hosting a late-night talk show on Pacifica’s KPFK, Los Angeles when he started the Firesign Theater program.  Bergman revived the Firesign Theater show on the internet in 2010.

Salem Radio Network Correspondent Dan Hackel Passes Away.  Longtime news pro Dan Hackel died in Israel over the weekend after a battle with cancer.  He had been Salem Radio Network’s primary correspondent in Israel for the past four years.  Hackel was a founding anchor for CNN International and a frequent anchor on Headline News.  He served as Washington correspondent covering the White House for ABC News, and he reported on the U. S. Congress for the Mutual Broadcasting System.

TRN’s and WGST, Atlanta’s Rusty Humphries Named Kentucky Colonel.  Kentucky colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the governor and the secretary of state to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation.  Other notable Colonels include Bob Hope, Pope John Paul II, Winston Churchill and of course Col. Sanders. Pictured with Colonel Rusty Humphries is Melissa Forrest, president and market manager of Clear Channel Atlanta where Humphries works at news/talk WGST.