FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell to Step Down. Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell announces that he will exit his seat within the next few weeks – 14 months before his term was set to expire. The National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith says of McDowell, “Robert McDowell has been a remarkably gifted public servant during his seven-year tenure at the FCC. His good humor and grace have been matched only by his ardent support for fair media ownership rules and full-throated support for a vibrant First Amendment. Commissioner McDowell will succeed in whatever path he chooses, and NAB wishes him well.”
New York Public Radio Shows Repped by Launchpad Digital Media; Available on PodcastOne.com. The Norm Pattiz-founded Launchpad Digital Media and digital content site PodcastOne.com work out a deal with New York Public Radio-produced content including “Freakonomics,” “RadioLab,” “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin” and “On the Media.” The podcasts of these shows will be represented for advertising sales by Launchpad and available on PodcastOne.com. Launchpad says, “PodcastOne.com is already home to over 200 popular podcasts including CBS News, Adam Carolla, Dennis Miller, Ron Paul, Penn Jillette, Laura Ingraham, Maria Menounos, Tom Green, Dr. Drew and many more.” Westwood One founder and Launchpad/PodcastOne.com chairman Norm Pattiz says, “New York Public Radio produces some of the most compelling, popular programming and we are proud to welcome these powerhouse audience magnets to the Launchpad/PodcastOne.com family.” Director of digital underwriting for NYPR Sarah van Mosel states, “We’re so excited that Launchpad Digital Media has recognized the value of reaching the on-demand audience. By harnessing this amazing content, Launchpad is paving the way for brands to finally connect intimately with listeners on a grand scale.” According to Launchpad president Kit Gray, “These four podcasts alone are already downloaded more than 10 million times every month. We are delighted to give our clients access to this loyal, educated and affluent audience that will continue to grow.”
NBC Sports Radio and Dial Global Name Brian Kenny Late Morning Host. Filling the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET slot on the national sports talk radio network will be former ESPN personality and well-known sports media figure Brian Kenny. The NBC Sports and Dial Global 24/7 sports talk network project debuts on April 1. Kenny hosts “Clubhouse Confidential” on MLB Network and covers boxing for Showtime. NBC and Dial Global say Kenny is a “respected interviewer who will go one-on-one with some of the biggest names in sports. Additionally known for his adept skill as a ‘numbers cruncher,’ he will also go beyond the scores and delve into the data, breaking down the analytics of the games.” Kenny hosted his own show on ESPN Radio and also anchored “SportsCenter” and “Baseball Tonight,” and called play-by-play for ESPN’s “Wednesday Night Baseball” and the “World Baseball Classic.” Kenny was named “Media Personality of the Year” by SI.com in 2004. He states, “I’m thrilled to be joining the team at NBC Sports Radio and Dial Global and I am excited to be back on the airwaves. We look forward to building a show that fosters intelligent sports conversation with in-depth analysis. It’s going to be a blast.”
WTMJ, Milwaukee Personality Charlie Sykes Hosts Annual “Insight 2013” Event. The annual “Insight” live program is a big promotional event for Journal Broadcast Group’s WTMJ, Milwaukee and late-morning personality Charlie Sykes. “Insight 2013” takes place at a local hotel from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm on Wednesday, March 27, is broadcast live on WTMJ and features Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, United States Senator Ron Johnson, United States Congressman Paul Ryan and other office holders and media personalities. Sykes’ own RightWisconsin.com – a digital destination for conservative content – is sponsoring the event. In addition to being broadcast live, the program will be recorded and re-broadcast on Sykes’ 8:30 am to 12:00 noon show.
Eric Deters Leaves Morning Show Role on ClassX in Cincinnati. The practicing attorney and well-known Cincinnati talk radio personality is leaving his role as morning host at Spryex Communications’ classic rock duo WMWX, Miamitown, Ohio and WKCX, Crittenden, Kentucky. Eric Deters’ law practice is growing too much for him to dedicate the time necessary to hosting a three-hour morning program, ClassX manager Bill Spry tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter. “Eric is taking a sabbatical possibly through the end of the year due to his law business exploding. He may be doing a weekly show, or possibly a daily morning segment. We’re not sure.” Deters, who’s hosted shows for Clear Channel on WLW and Christian Broadcasting Systems’ former talk WQRT, began hosting the morning show in September of 2012. Spryex brings Snake & Carson aboard to host the 6:00 am to 9:00 am program.
TuneIn and Dial Global Agree to Sports Programming Deal. Digital content aggregator TuneIn and Dial Global strike a deal for the former to feature select Dial Global-produced sports content. The arrangement begins with full, live coverage of the 2013 NCAA College Basketball Tournament. TuneIn VP of programming Kevin Straley says, “TuneIn is excited to align with a company known for delivering superior programming. We’re thrilled by the opportunity to deliver exciting play-by-play basketball to all our listeners around the world.” TuneIn will also feature Dial Global’s play-by-play coverage of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, Men’s Frozen Four, the Men’s and Women’s College World Series and the Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship semifinals and championship.
Arbitron and Edison Research to Offer ‘Infinite Dial’ Webinar. Scheduled for Tuesday, April 2, “The Infinite Dial 2013: Navigating Digital Platforms” from Arbitron and Edison Research will address the latest trends in consumer use of media, technology, and digital platforms. Some of the issues to be reviewed include: the growing penetration of smartphones and tablets and the ways people use these devices; radio’s continuing role in the lives of the digital consumer: at-work, in the car and as the “last word” before shopping; the continued growth of online radio usage and time spent listening; an update on social media use by brand and age demographics; and the devices people use to wake up in the morning.
Sequester Effects, Obama in Israel, Dr. Ben Carson-mania, North Korea Bluster, ‘Honors Night’ Cancellation, and the Soaring Dow Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/20). The effects of the sequester; President Obama’s trip to Israel; the sudden popularity of Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson among conservatives; North Korea’s bellicose posturing; the cancellation of “honors night” at a Massachusetts High School; and the high-flying Dow were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Master marketer Vince McMahon continues to build a vast “Sports Entertainment” empire largely owing to his uncanny knack of giving the “universe” of WWE fans the product they crave, a philosophy congruous with that of Massachusetts-born entrepreneur Marshall Field, who stressed that his Chicago-based department stores should, “Give the lady what she wants.”
Not only is the same applicable to an intensely entertaining and astute talk radio personality, it is his program’s cornerstone mantra.
Immigration Radio Row Timed to Coincide with Amnesty Bill. The coming talk radio row sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) – set for April 17 and18 in Washington, DC and reported to be the largest ever – will take place at the same time a major amnesty bill is expected to be debated. FAIR tells TALKERS, “Already, 50 talk hosts from across the country are confirmed to broadcast live from Capitol Hill debating immigration reform while interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists and citizens who live along the border.” FAIR communications director Bob Dane states, “President Obama, the Democrats, business lobbies, and now many misguided Republicans are setting the stage to introduce a major amnesty bill sugarcoated with enforcement just like we saw and defeated in 2007. As before, talk radio will gather to represent the interests of the American public, the constituency perpetually left out of the debate. Americans want existing laws enforced and their jobs protected with mandatory E-Verify. They do not want a protracted battle over a bill that grants amnesty in exchange for promises of border security that this administration cannot be trusted to honor.” For talk hosts who are considering taking part in the radio row, act fast. Dane says that only four slots remain available – one in morning drive, two in midday and one in afternoon drive. Reservations are required and hosts/producers should call now. There is no cost to attend and all technical engineering, ISDN lines and long distance is included. Silver Lake Audio of New York is the official engineering firm for “Hold Their Feet to the Fire.” Congressional guests, activists, high profile media personalities, and immigration experts will be in attendance and available throughout the event for wall-to-wall interviews. Contact event managers Bob Dane or Kristen Williamson at 202-328-7004 for further information and to reserve a broadcast slot.
Courtside Entertainment and Launchpad Digital Founder Norm Pattiz’s New PodcastOne Profiled in the Los Angeles Times. Just a couple of days after announcing his newest venture to the industry – a destination for “the best of the best” called PodcastOne.com – Westwood One founder Norm Pattiz speaks to the consumer world via Steve Carney’s piece in the Los Angeles Times. Pattiz explains his thinking and what differentiates PodcastOne.com from other content aggregators. First, Pattiz says the menu is more limited to about 200 of what they consider prime programming including well-known names like Adam Carolla, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Laura Ingraham. He goes on to say, “What nobody’s done is organize [podcasts] and give them the kind of attention they need to make them a real significant opportunity for advertisers.” The benefit of PodcastOne is his company’s ad sales, promotion, audience research and technical expertise. Pattiz relates research done by Edison that found, “29% of Americans 12 and older had listened to an audio podcast, up from 23% in 2010 and 13% in 2007. Half those listeners were ages 12 to 34, and 38% said they used an iPod, smartphone or other device to listen to digital audio in their cars at least once a week.” This is what is convincing him there is a business model to be developed here. Read the entire story here.
TuneIn Debuts Customized User Experience Function. Audio content aggregator TuneIn announces it is launching “TuneIn Live,” a customized experience allowing listeners to more easily discover the content that aligns most with their individual preferences. The company says this comes “on the heels of a website redesign; a new Trending feature, launched to help TuneIn listeners navigate through the largest breadth of audio content available through one service; and a new integration with Google+, enabling a calendar reminder feature for live events.” TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “Our biggest opportunity has been discovery. We have more than 70,000 radio stations and more than 2 million on-demand programs from around the world, and that’s a lot for anyone to digest. We needed a sophisticated system to do the work for our listeners, not ask them to do extra work in order to personalize their experience. TuneIn Live is a big part of that system.” The service creates a customized experience through rotating tiles that surface relevant music, sports and news happening live, based on individuals’ listening habits and interests. Combined with a new Trending feature, which shares a current feed of the most-listened-to radio from around the world, TuneIn listeners can more easily discover meaningful programming among the millions of listening options on the TuneIn service. Donham continues, “Every day, there are thousands of live events on the radio, from concerts to interviews to sports to a DJ playing a set of songs and, until now, there has never been a way to relay all of this live content to people worldwide. That’s where we’re innovating with TuneIn Live. We’re combing through our millions of listening options from around the world and, for each individual listener, we’re bringing into focus just the stations that mean something to them.”
Sioux Falls News/Talk Outlet Gets FM Signal. Midwest Communications-owned news/talker KELO, Sioux Falls, South Dakota is now heard on KQXL’s 107.9 frequency in addition to its original 1320 AM frequency. The move displaces the oldies format that had been airing on the FM station. Midwest has owned the stations for a little more than six months having acquired the cluster from Backyard Broadcasting in July of last year.
KMOX, St. Louis Personality Mark Reardon Gets Some Love from the Missouri Times. Mid-afternoon talk host Mark Reardon was recently featured in a piece in the Missouri Times that focused specifically on his weekly roundtable discussions that he says he’s patterned to a degree after the old “Politically Incorrect” program hosted by Bill Maher. Reardon tells the publication he enjoys bringing people into the studio at CBS Radio’s KMOX who represent different viewpoints and who can mix it up without being hostile. In fact, Reardon says guests who can’t maintain civility are not asked back on the program. While the program deals with political issues, he underscores that the show is not all about politics, telling the Times it’s not limited to politics and that he wants interesting people, “Look, this is entertainment, but there’s no reason you can’t still learn something and laugh a little bit.” Read the entire piece here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Kevin McCullough show surpassed the 300-affiliate mark (309 to be exact!) and announces the return of the program to SiriusXM as well as the addition of Salem Communications Detroit cluster of WDTK-AM, WLQV, and WTDK-FM as affiliates of the XtreMEDIA syndicated program…..Talk Radio Network’s “Watchdog on Wall Street” with Chris Markowski adds affiliates KYNS, San Louis Obispo; WHSY, Hattiesburg, Mississippi; WPBQ, Jackson, Mississippi; and KBSZ, Apache Junction, Arizona…..Fox News Radio’s feature commentary from Todd Starnes is now heard on affiliates WOAI, San Antonio and WLOB-AM, Portland, Maine.
Talking Survival on WNDB, Daytona Beach. During the 89th installment of the President’s Speakers Series and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, WNDB talk host Marc Bernier interviewed former Navy Seal sniper, Discovery Channel personality and author Cade Courtley in front of a packed house at the college. Courtley is promoting his new book, SEAL Survival Guide: A Navy SEAL’s Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster. Bernier tells TALKERS that with security issues very much on the minds of Americans, Courtley outlined ideas for how the average person can best survive the unthinkable. The event was also broadcast on WNDB. Photo: Arthur J Byrnes.
KDKA, Pittsburgh Event Benefits Wounded Warriors Project. CBS Radio’s KDKA and station morning host Larry Richert announce that Bruno Sammartino, who will be inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in April, will serve as the keynote speaker at “Larry Richert Honors Hometown Heroes” at the Lexus Club at PNC Park next Thursday, March 7 in a benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project. “Larry’s Heroes” will honor five ordinary individuals in the community who have done extraordinary things. Those being honored are Jamie Holmes for awarding “dream” opportunities to those living with medical conditions; Sergeant Patrick Manning for restoring a youth baseball field in Penn Hills; William R. Neal, Jr. for building programs that aid disadvantaged youth and others in finding employment opportunities; Summer Tissue for her work in sending packages to deployed Soldiers and Marines and Paul Shields for helping his neighbors escape a fire in their home in Ross Township the day after Thanksgiving. Each hero will receive a $1000 donation to a charity of their choice.
Sequestration Battle Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 25-March 1. The Washington fight over sequestration landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories discussed on news/talk radio this week. Coming in at #2 was the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act. At #3 was Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Europe followed by Iran and North Korea nuclear weapons threats at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.
Cumulus Wins First Round in Birmingham Non-Compete Case. A federal judge in Birmingham has ruled that sports talk WZNN “ESPN 97.3” program director Ryan Haney cannot work for the Cox Media station until more evidence is heard at a hearing scheduled for March 4. The Birmingham News reports Cumulus sought the prohibition after Haney – who had been with its crosstown competitor WJOX for the past 14 years – left the PD job there on January 21and began working at WZNN a week later. Cumulus claims Haney breached the six-month non-compete in his contract. Cumulus also states Haney could not work for a competitor during that time without giving Cumulus a chance to match the prospective employer’s offer. The animosity between the two sports talk stations did not begin with Haney’s case. In 2012, Cumulus and Birmingham sports talk personality Paul Finebaum engaged in a legal tussle over his employment situation but Finebaum eventually worked out his contract with WJOX and is sitting out a six-month non-compete after which it is widely assumed he’ll join WZNN. On a side note, Cox Media has put its Birmingham properties – including WZNN – up for sale.
Lew Dickey Tells Bloomberg “We’re Seeing a Shift in Spoken-Word Radio.” During an appearance on Bloomberg TV’s “In the Loop” program, Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey discussed his company’s plans involving marketing vertically based on the lifestyle appeal to consumers interested in certain types of entertainment. Although still bullish on Mike Huckabee and Geraldo Rivera, Dickey sounded much more behind sports than news/talk. “We’re seeing sort of a shift in spoken-word radio from political-based talk over to sports.” When asked why he stated, “I think people may be tired of all the partisan bickering so the ratings are a bit down in talk but they’re moving up nicely in sports.” Dickey said the reason sports is so popular among advertisers is because advertisers follow the audience and sports is popular right now.
Question of the Day: Why Do Radio Stations Still Announce School Closings? As the big Blizzard of ’13 begins to rumble across the Northeast (2/8), TALKERS monitors have been hearing morning shows across the region reading the perfunctory long lists of school closings within their listening areas. While there is no doubt that localism is proving to be a valuable asset to radio – especially when the medium rises to the occasion of serving the public interest during natural disasters and weather events - we have to shake our heads and wonder why so much valuable airtime is spent on reading these seemingly endless lists. Is it a matter of serving the public or just trying to sound like you’re doing so? It is a well-known (to parents and students alike) fact that most school districts in America post their snow status on their websites as soon as the information is available. If stations want in on that action they can list all the closings on their websites as well and announce that availability on the air. Considering that most, if not all, schools in a region close for blizzards, it would make a lot more sense to only announce those schools that might be choosing to remain open. Programmers might think that announcing school closings on the air over long chunks of time makes the station sound local and in touch – but in truth, it makes the station boring and seem out of touch.
Cumulus Birmingham Imports Sports Talk Duo from KTCK, Dallas. In a story related to the one above, Cumulus sports talker WJOX, Birmingham is bringing the duo of Matt McClearin and Scot Harrison from its Dallas sports outlet KTCK “The Ticket” in to take over the midday slot. The position opened up after Paul Finebaum exited the PM drive show at the end of his contract and the station moved “The Jox Roundtable” with Lance Taylor, Ryan Brown and Jim Dunaway to the PM drive position. McClearin and Harrison hosted a weekend program at KTCK.
TALKERS Spotlight: The Talk Radio Watchdogs. There was a time in the early days of the modern talk radio era when most markets could lay claim to at least one talk show host considered to be the local “watchdog.” He or she was feared by the power brokers in city hall and had a reputation for having the backs of the regular folks. They are not as prevalent in the format as they once were but they are still out there. Does the industry still value this breed of talk host? Does the public still want to listen to them? Do their station managers support them? TALKERS managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian speaks with some of today’s “watchdogs” to get answers to these and other questions about their craft. Read his story here.
CBS Radio’s WHFS, Tampa Makes Lineup Changes. The new FM sports talk station CBS Radio put on the air in Tampa in August undergoes some changes. “Sportsradio 98.7 The Fan” cuts the morning show with Kirk McEwen and Chris Dingman to three hours and shifts Gary Shelton and Justin “The Commish” Pawlowski to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. The PM drive show with Rich Herrera and Anthony “Booger” McFarland moves to 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm and CBS Sports Radio’s Jim Rome slides into the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Evening host Todd Wright exits the station and The Fabulous Sports Babe moves from overnights to the evening show. CBS Sports Radio Networks’ Scott Ferrall and Damon Amendolara round out the late night and overnight shifts, respectively.
TuneIn Adds Four Pubcasters to its Offerings. Digital content aggregator TuneIn announces it has agreed to strategic alliances with major public broadcasters KQED, San Francisco; KCRW, Santa Monica; KEXP, Seattle; and American Public Media, which includes Southern California Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, Classical South Florida and nationally distributed programs. TuneIn VP of programming Kevin Straley states, “KQED, American Public Media, KCRW and KEXP have a rich history of offering listeners engaging, cutting-edge programming while supporting the radio community. Our goal at TuneIn is to bring the best programming from around the world to everyone, for free, wherever they are, and partnering with these respected public broadcasters brings us one step closer to that goal.” TuneIn also just unveiled a new website design featuring a new content-first display with large album cover photos and trending stations.
Odds & Sods. Tribune’s WGN, Chicago resumes its “Chicago Blackhawks Live” promotional series on February 18 at the city’s Old Town Pour House. The promotion is a series of one-hour radio broadcasts hosted over dinner throughout the 2012-2013 season featuring current Blackhawks players, legends, and front office executives with “WGN Sports Night” hosts David Kaplan, Brian Noonan, and Andrea Darlas. WGN began hosting these events during the 2011-2012 season and sold them out in record time…..SiriusXM announces legendary recording artist Tony Bennett will sit down for an intimate Q&A session with an audience of SiriusXM listeners, moderated by Alec Baldwin, at the SiriusXM studios in New York City as part of its “Town Hall” series. It’ll take place on Wednesday, February 13, and will air on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14, on the Siriusly Sinatra channel and on the SiriusXM Stars channel…..Clear Channel announces that Houston Astros play-by-play will shift from news/talk KTRH to its sports talk KBME “Sportstalk 790” beginning this season…..In another baseball note, Clear Channel’s WLW, Cincinnati re-ups with the MLB’s Reds through the 2017 season…..The Boston Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund – which benefits Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – are celebrating their 60th year working together to raise funds for cancer research and treatment. Part of that celebrating will include the 12th annual Red Sox Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon on Entercom’s WEEI and New England Sports Network on August 27 and 28. The event, which started in 2002, has raised more than $31 million for research, treatment, and care at Dana-Farber.
KYW, Philadelphia Awards Scholarship. CBS Radio’s KYW Newsradio awards the Richard Monetti Scholarship to local high school student Kimberly Coterwas (second from right) – one of the 86 students to graduate from KYW Newsradio 2012 Fall Newstudies program. She receives a $2,000 scholarship. The award was announced at the Newstudies Graduation ceremony on January 31. The Richard Monetti Scholarship is awarded every year to the Newstudies student who demonstrates the most potential and enthusiasm throughout the six-week student reporter program. The scholarship is named for Richard Monetti, a 1986 Newstudies graduate who was killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Additionally, 11 other students who participated in the Newstudies program received awards. CBS Radio Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “KYW Newsradio is proud to continue the tradition of introducing high school students to the broadcast industry. It’s also nice to be able to award those that did exceptionally well, and keep the memory of a former Newstudies graduate alive.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Radio America’s Peter Schiff program picks up new affiliates for the program including: KPAM, Portland; WGUF, Ft. Myers, Florida; WEZS, Concord, New Hampshire; KFAR, Fairbanks, Alaska; and WTIM, Taylorville, Illinois….. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the program schedule at WTBF, Troy, Alabama. Also, existing affiliate combo WGVA, Geneva and WAUB, Auburn in the Finger Lakes region of New York adds Free Talk Live’s live Sunday show.
Sequester Cuts and Tax Hikes Issue Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 4-8. The debate in Washington over the coming sequester budget cuts and more tax increases was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, earning it the top spot on the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was immigration reform. At #3 was the costs of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and at #4 was gun legislation proposals. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America based on ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Presidential Election Tops List of Most-Discussed Stories on News/Talk Radio in 2012. Obama is Most Talked-About Person. According to TALKERS magazine’s tabulations, the Presidential Election ranks as the most-talked-about story of 2012 on the nation’s news/talk radio stations and programs. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “It isn’t even close. The election stood out far and away as a topic in its own right, as well as a catalyst for so many of the other subjects that comprise the meat and potatoes of news/talk conversation ranging from economics to foreign policy to personality gossip. It is difficult to track and calculate a list of this nature because stories and subjects overlap and play into and off of each other. The presidential race is both an ongoing process and then a climactic event that brings so many different issues into play; it permeates the very fiber of what this format is all about.” Casey adds, “Interestingly, there is so much overlap and interplay between stories that even with the effort to sort them out individually certain stories are so connected that we list them as ties in the Top 10 – such as the connection between the so called Fiscal Cliff and Euro Zone Troubles, or the Benghazi Attack and the Petraeus-Broadwell Scandal.”
The following are the 10 most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio in 2012:
1) 2012 Presidential Election
2) ‘Fiscal Cliff’/Euro Zone Troubles
3) SCOTUS ObamaCare Decision
4) Benghazi Attack/Petraeus-Broadwell Scandal
5) Newtown Massacre/Aurora Theater Slayings
6) Syria Revolt/Egypt Instability
7) Rush Limbaugh “Slut” Controversy
8) Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
9) Trayvon Martin Case
10) Hurricane Sandy
Other major news/talk radio topics worthy of mention include the Wisconsin Recall Election, the “Fast and Furious” Investigation, the Sandusky Trial and the Facebook IPO.
President Barack Obama tops the TALKERS list of the most-talked-about people on news/talk radio in 2012 which according to Kevin Casey is no surprise: “The President of the United States has topped this survey in all of the 22 years that TALKERS magazine has been conducting it – election year or not. This includes George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.” It is interesting to note that Rush Limbaugh is on this year’s list – not the first time it has happened – indicating what a huge newsmaker the format’s most-listened-to-player is in addition to being someone who talks about key figures. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “The colorful people who perform on this great stage love to talk about the medium itself. Limbaugh, of course, is constantly in the news and has long been an ongoing topic as well as talker. Others who fit this bill over many years include Howard Stern, Michael Savage, Don Imus and Dr. Laura Schlessinger to name the standouts. They sure do bring a lot to the table.”
The following are the 10 most-talked-about people on news/talk radio in 2012. Note, in cases in which two people are intrinsically connected in terms of the story in which they were co-players, they are listed as tied for their position:
1) Barack Obama
2) Mitt Romney
3) John Boehner
4) Hillary Clinton
5) John Roberts
6) David Petraeus/Paula Broadwell
7) Christopher Stevens/Susan Rice
8) Adam Lanza/James Holmes
9) Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman
10) Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke
TRN Entertainment Debuts the Andrea Tantaros Show in January. National talk programming syndicator Talk Radio Network Entertainment announces it is bringing political commentator, syndicated columnist and Fox News Channel personality Andrea Tantaros to the radio for a three-hour program to air live in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET slot formerly held by Laura Ingraham. Tantaros is a co-host of the popular FNC program, “The Five.” TRNE describes the program saying it “will engage listeners who want to be informed and entertained with smart, edgy, and funny but responsible commentary on politics, pop culture, Wall Street and entertainment. The show is designed to attract the broadcast spectrum of listeners profitably for its station affiliates.” Tantaros will be joined by Jason Mattera, a two-time New York Times best-selling author, the youngest editor of a national periodical, Human Events, and the host of “The Jason Mattera Show” on weekends at WABC in New York. TRNE CEO Mark Masters says, “In a post 2008–2009 economy, we have been seeking shows that are highly entertaining, yet responsible and profitable for our station affiliates and advertisers. Andrea has the ability to do both. She’s a fresh voice who will inject new energy to the airwaves.” Tantaros says she’s delighted to partner with TRN on this project. “They’re the best in the business at making sure affiliates and audiences get hard-hitting and informative commentary that keeps them coming back for more. I promise you this: it’s going to be fun.”
Launchpad Digital Media and Dial Global Partner for Podcast Programming. This deal gives Dial Global an avenue for podcasting from its talent pool – Dennis Miller, “Loveline,” Billy Bush, Charles Osgood, country programming, DG Sports and NBC Sports Radio – via the Courtside Entertainment digital division Launchpad Digital Media. Dial Global co-CEO Spencer Brown states, “Defining great media means delivering the highest quality content to the largest audience. This new partnership with Launchpad Digital Media significantly augments Dial Global’s capability to do both by opening new creative avenues for top talent and new doors for advertisers to access the widening on-demand podcast audience.” Courtside Entertainment founder and Launchpad chairman Norm Pattiz says, “Since we announced our move into podcasting the response has been off the charts. The partnership between Kit Gray and Courtside establishes Launchpad with a proven track record of revenue generating success. We have now added new programming which is currently delivering over 90 million downloads per month, including our deal with Dial Global. We are excited to partner with Dial Global to bring some of the most well-known and trusted brands in sports, news and entertainment to the growing roster of Launchpad podcast offerings.”
November Was Very Good to All-News Radio. Arbitron’s November PPM data was, in general, very good to the nation’s all-news outlets. Recently, TALKERS managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian detailed his analysis of news/talk’s November PPM data, concluding it was generally a very good month for that format. Here, Kinosian runs the numbers for major all-news outlets and gives four-month trends for those stations. See his analysis of the nation’s all-news stations here.
KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno Names John Broeske and Jennifer Lipp Midday Partners. Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno announces a new local talk program that will air from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on both KMJ-AM and KMJ-FM, beginning January 2. The John and Jen show will feature current KMJ-FM morning drive host Jennifer Lipp (who will continue to host the 6:00 am to 8:00 am program) and longtime Fresno market radio pro John Broeske. A release from KMJ says Broeske has been a talk host, programmer, manager and consultant. He led the station from 1987 to 2007, “directing it to the leadership position that continues to this day.” KMJ and Peak Broadcasting SVP Patty Hixson says, “There is simply no better choice for this important time slot than the merger of two of the biggest names in Central California radio…they will bring their extensive experience and name recognition to a broad-based, advertiser-friendly show that will be a big success on KMJ for years to come.” Operations manager Skip Essick adds, “The John and Jen show will be a fast-paced, topical, entertaining view of life in Central California as lived by two people who know the area very well. From politics to pop culture, local or national, if it matters to the Central Valley, it will be covered by John and Jen on KMJ every day.”
WCKG, Chicago Adds Geoff Pinkus for Middays. Suburban talk outlet WCKG, Elmhurst, Illinois announces local personality Geoff Pinkus will host the midday show on “The Voice of DuPage County” beginning January 7. In a press release, Pinkus states, “For years I was told I’d get a daily show ‘when hell freezes over!’ The Twinkie is gone. The Mayan calendar is ending…and now WCKG finally decides to hire me? Coincidence? Maybe. All I know is I’ve got some storable food, water stockpiles, good cigars, and a microphone ready. Starting January 7, 11:00 am, we’re rockin’ the suburbs. We’re going to have fun on the radio again with real people.” WCKG airs “Mancow in the Morning,” and Dan Patrick among other syndicated programs.
CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” Tabs Adam Jones for Evening Show. With the departure of Damon Amendolara to CBS Radio Sports Network to host his “D.A. Show” in the overnight slot on the network, CBS Boston woos Adam Jones away from ESPN to take over the 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm program on “98.5 The Sports Hub.” Jones had been working for ESPN Radio handling a fill-in role and hosting the online Adam Jones show. Before that he had been working with WBZ-FM as a fill-in host and co-hosting a weekend show with Boston sports writer Dan Shaughnessy. CBS Radio Boston vice president of programming Mike Thomas says, “It’ll be great to have Adam back at ‘The Sports Hub.’ We had a lot of very good candidates apply for this job, but with his previous work here and the experience he gained after leaving ‘The Sports Hub,’ Adam was the clear choice. Damon did a fantastic job coming into this market and hosting the evening show. I’m confident Adam can pick up where D.A. left off and continue to grow the audience.”
Non-Subscriber Station Exec Speaks His Mind on Arbitron/Nielsen Merger. Fred Lundgren, CEO of talker KCAA, Yoma Linda, California, hopes that Nielsen will change what he describes as the “exclusionary methodology” of Arbitron. In an opinion piece posted today (12/20) in TALKERS, Lundgren writes, “Moreover, let’s hope Nielsen’s acquisition will lead to comprehensive listener surveys across all platforms, which will add value to our industry, rather than further draining resources from traditional media already stagnated by the economy and over-consolidation.” In a biting commentary, Lundgren asks, “According to Arbitron, nobody listens to KCAA. Are we to believe that KCAA has no listeners to any of 50-plus locally produced, weekly programs on subjects ranging from a vegan lifestyle to marijuana legalization? According to Arbitron, no one listens to any broadcaster on KCAA, not even Roseanne Barr, Joyce Riley, Don Imus, Dave Ramsey, Alex Jones or Ed Schultz. Read Fred Lundgren’s article here.
Premiere Networks’ George Noory Hosts “End of the World” Show Friday. With the ancient Mayan calendar possibly predicting the end of the world on Friday the 21st, “Coast to Coast AM” personality George Noory is hosting a special “End of the World” edition of his program. The show will feature a number of special guests and experts, including author/prophecy expert John Hogue and author/lecturer/aerospace engineer Mike Bara, who will share their predictions, in addition to conversations with listeners. Noory shared his own doomsday prediction in a December 19 Huffington Post story in which he states, “Any calamity that might occur doesn’t affect one, it affects all of us, and we’ll get through it together as a team, one way or another.”
Talk Host J.D. Hayworth Keeps Busy This Holiday Season. Former Arizona Congressman and talk radio pro J.D. Hayworth is all over the radio this holiday season on a series of fill-in gigs. Hayworth tells TALKERS magazine he’s sitting in on the morning show at Clear Channel’s “Rush Radio” in North Carolina – WPTI, Greensboro and WRDU, Raleigh – December 26 – 31. He’ll be in afternoon drive on Cumulus’ KABC, Los Angeles December 24 – 28 (with a break on Christmas Day). Plus, he’ll sit in for Mike Huckabee on his national program December 26 – 28 and January 2 – 4. Additional appearances include guest stints at KSFO, San Francisco; WLS, Chicago; and WMAL, Washington…as well as continuing fill-in work in Philly on WPHT.
TuneIn Adds 18 Broadcasters to the Service. Digital content aggregator TuneIn announces it has signed deals with 18 more broadcasters to distribute their programming via TuneIn’s global digital application. New broadcasters include Doug Stephan’s “Good Day” program, Motley Fool Radio, Progressive Voices and others. The company states, “This news comes at a period of continued growth and momentum for TuneIn, which has 40 million monthly active listeners, 70,000 AM, FM, HD and Internet radio stations and more than two million on-demand programs streaming from every continent. As part of these alliances, TuneIn will provide each broadcaster with access to free, industry-leading tools, such as analytics through TuneIn Amplifier, and access to the audio service’s ad platform.”
Gun Law Changes, Mental Health Care System, ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Debate, Benghazi-State Department Report, and Mayan ‘Doomsday’ Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/19). The debate over changes to America’s gun laws; discussion about mental health care and screenings in the U.S.; the debate in Washington over avoiding the “fiscal cliff”; the report on the State Department’s handling of the Libya situation; and the Mayan calendar’s “end of the world” prediction were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
ESPN Radio Extends Michael Kay’s Contract with WEPN-FM, New York. “ESPN New York 98.7” announces Michael Kay signs a three-year contract to remain the PM drive host on the ESPN O&O. Station VP/GM Dave Roberts says, “We’re very happy to have extended Michael’s contract for multiple years. He’s been a mainstay at the station and in the New York sports scene for more than a decade. Having him continue to anchor our afternoon drive programming alongside Don La Greca is a huge plus for ESPN New York.” Kay has worked at the ESPN sports talk station for the past 11 years and also serves as the play-by-play announcer for Yankees baseball on the YES Network.
The James T. Harris Show Moves to PM Drive on KQTH, Tucson; Jon Justice Gets TV Simulcast. Talk show host James T. Harris moved from Journal Broadcasting’s Milwaukee news/talk flagship WTMJ – where he did weekend and fill-in shows – to the company’s KQTH “104.1 The Truth” last October to begin hosting the two-hour midday show. Now, program director Ryan McCredden reports Harris is taking over the PM drive slot and he says that change in the lineup “will give ‘The Truth’ listeners an unprecedented seven hours of local talk, and the only live and local FM talk show in the afternoons. By moving James T. to our afternoon drive time, we’re continuing our commitment to providing the best local talk programming in Tucson. His energy, passion and dedication is the right fit for the top-rated talk station in Southern Arizona.” In other KQTH news, the Jon Justice morning drive show is now being seen in addition to being heard in Tucson. KWBA-TV “CW 58” simulcasts the 7:00 am to 9:00 am hours of Justice’s program. Justice says, “I’m very excited to be able to expand on the success of the show and be able to offer the listener another dimension to what we do on ‘104.1 The Truth’ every day.”
Careful What You Say. Radio consultant Holland Cooke says radio personalities – especially those in PPM markets – should remember there are some words and phrases that will cause parents with kids in the car to dump your show. “If you’re in a PPM market, awareness drives use. So, either way, being thought of as R-rated will cost you what Arbitron calls Occasions of Listening and Time Spent Listening.” Find out what Cooke says is one of the most “offensive” phrases to parents in today’s piece. But wait, there’s more. Perception is reality and if you or your talent are using some of the incorrect words or pronunciations Holland lists here, you could be jeopardizing your reputation and, yes, listenership. Don’t be punished by Arbitron and choose your words carefully. Read Holland Cooke’s entire story here.
Bidding War for Indians Baseball in Cleveland Pits CC Against CBS. A story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer illustrates the bidding going on between CBS Radio and Clear Channel Media and Entertainment for the radio broadcast rights to Cleveland Indians baseball. The story quotes the Indians senior director of communications Curtis Danburg saying, “We are in the bidding process for our radio rights. We are making strides, but it’s hard to put a date on when we’ll get a deal done. Nothing is imminent.” Clear Channel’s WTAM currently has the broadcast rights but it’s believed that the team wants the winning bidder to commit to a longer deal than the current two-year contract Clear Channel is finishing up. CC has had the Indians since 1998 but CBS Radio would like to put the Tribe on its new FM sports talk WKRK “Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan.” How important the FM signal is to the team is now known since it is playing the negotiations very tight-lipped but one has to assume CBS will play the FM card very seriously. The Plain Dealer reports that not only do the Indians sell the broadcast rights, the deal allows the team to keep revenue garnered from game broadcasts.
Michael Smerconish Announces “Book Club” Live Events. Philadelphia-based WYD Media nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Smerconish has been bringing high-profile authors to the Philadelphia area for live events that draw his book-consuming P1s to venues for several years. He is announcing his fall lineup that begins with the September 27 appearance of two-time Pulitzer Prize winners Donald Barlett and James Steele to the historic Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope in support of their provocative new bestseller, The Betrayal of the American Dream (PublicAffairs 2012). Smerconish says, “There could not be a more timely read in the midst of the 2012 election from the men who two decades ago wrote America: What Went Wrong. In a methodical assessment, Barlett and Steele drill down on the confluence of economic policy and politics that has jeopardized the American middle class. One wishes that Messrs. Obama and Romney would be in attendance to hear what Barlett and Steele have to say!”
TuneIn Announces New Partnerships Bringing News, Talk and Music Content to the Web. Digital content aggregator TuneIn announces a number of partnerships with terrestrial and digital radio companies that expand the company’s slate of content. Some of the companies that are providing their audio to TuneIn for listeners to hear include: Public Radio International; C-SPAN Radio; ABC Australia; the Hearst Corporation; myvradio; WFMU, East Orange, New Jersey; WSM, Nashville; KDHX, St. Louis; KXT, Dallas-Fort Worth; Wu-Tang Radio; Israel Sports Radio; My Cool Inventions Radio; and others. TuneIn CEO John Donham says, “After reaching the 40 million monthly active listener milestone earlier this month, we are more committed than ever to serving our growing listener base by offering as many quality content options as possible. Aligning with renowned and respected news organizations like C-SPAN and PRI will be a fantastic and effective way for both TuneIn and these broadcasters to continue to build and expand our audiences.”
Presidential Campaign, Obama China Complaint, Anti-Muslim Film Violence, Occupy Wall Street Anniversary, Chicago Teachers Strike and iPhone 5 Mania Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/17). The 2012 presidential campaign; the Obama Administration’s complaint about illegal Chinese subsidies; the repercussion in the Islamic world from the now-infamous anti-Muslim internet film; the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests; week two of the Chicago teachers strike begins; and records sales of Apple’s new iPhone 5 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
New Sports Radio Network Entrant NBC Announces First Round of Talent Hires. The venture between NBC Sports and Dial Global that debuts September 4 – NBC Sports Radio Network – is beginning with an evening sports talk show hosted by Erik Kuselias (airing 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET). The morning drive sports updates from the network will be delivered by Jon Stashower. Kuselias has been working with NBC on its cable sports network. He’s worked for the Golf Channel as well as ESPN. Stashower has also worked at ESPN. Expect some more talent announcements prior to the network’s post-Labor Day debut.
Dead Air: A Dynamic Reminder for Talk Show Hosts. Vocal dynamics is not a discipline that is really taught to broadcasters anymore. With more and more talk talent coming to the medium from outside the traditional communications schools, talent who use the dynamics of their voices effectively are becoming rare. WFAN, New York talk host Richard Neer offers some suggestions about employing these techniques and the reasons why they are still valid for today’s broadcasters. Read Richard’s piece here.
Salem Communications Posts Q2 Revenue Increase of 3.9%; Broadcast Up 2.1%. That’s the good news for Salem. On the downside, operating income for the entire company dropped 61.1% and the company realized a net loss of $1.8 million or $0.07 net loss per share. Though the broadcast division revenue was up 2.1%, station operating income decreased 3.1%. Internet is still the big winner for Salem with Q2 revenue up 16.6% and operating income up 42.8%.
Federated Media Joins iHeartRadio. Indiana-based Federated Media adds its 17 radio stations to the iHeartRadio digital platform owned and operated by Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Federated Media’s markets include Fort Wayne, South Bend and Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana. Stations now heard on the platform include heritage news/talk WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne. Federated Media chief strategy officer James Derby says, “We’re very excited to partner with iHeartRadio. We want to offer our customers and clients both terrestrial and digital listening experiences. It’s important that we partner with those that are open to shared content and opportunities. iHeartRadio is very popular in our local markets and we’re happy to now be a part of it.”
TuneIn Announces New Funding; Increase in Monthly Active Listener Stats. Digital audio service TuneIn reports it has just acquired new sources of funding led by General Catalyst Partners with participation from Jafco Ventures, Google Ventures and existing business partner Sequoia Capital totaling $16 million. TuneIn will use the new funding to scale the company’s technical and business operations worldwide. At the same time, the company reports its monthly active listeners figure has increased to 40 million. TuneIn CEO John Donham says, “Our mission is to deliver the best listening experience possible, and it is so meaningful to us that 40 million people have chosen to listen to the world – every month – through TuneIn. This investment will help us fulfill our mission while increasing our headcount and growing our product development and marketing initiatives.” TuneIn says its service is available anywhere there is an internet signal and offers 70,000 stations and two million on-demand programs.
AdLarge Media Becomes Sales Rep for Gow-Operated Yahoo! Sports Radio. Houston-based Gow Broadcasting operates Yahoo! Sports Radio and the company announces it enters into an agreement with AdLarge Media for the latter to sell national advertising for Yahoo!’s radio, streamed audio and mobile platforms. AdLarge Media CEO Gary Schonfeld states, “Yahoo! Sports Radio has a highly respected lineup of sports journalists and commentators, including Tim Brando, Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Steve Czaban, and more. Yahoosports.com is the number one sports website on the internet. With that as our base, Yahoo! Sports Radio delivers insights and reports from sports experts that fans relish, creating an engaging environment for advertisers to reach an extremely passionate audience.”
Odds & Sods. Texas-based Clear Channel talk host (KTRH and WOAI) Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo fills in for Premiere Networks star Glenn Beck on his radio show today and Friday…..ESPN Radio now offers an app for smartphones using the Windows Phone platform and is available in the Windows Marketplace. ESPN reports its app is now available on all three major smartphone operating systems…..SiriusXM is broadcasting coverage of the 2012 PGA Championship beginning this Thursday from the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.
Presidential Race, Wisconsin Sikh Shooting, London Olympics, and Mars Landing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/6). The campaign for president in the 2012 elections; the fatal shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; the 2012 London Olympics; and the landing of the rover on Mars were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Journal Broadcast Group Promotes Beverlee Brannigan to VP of Programming. Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast Group promotes KFDI, Wichita operations manager and program director Beverlee Brannigan to vice president of programming for the entire broadcast group. In making the announcement, Journal EVP Steve Wexler states, “While Beverlee is best known for her country radio programming expertise, she has demonstrated her ability to apply sound strategic thinking across multiple formats and markets. I am thrilled to welcome her to our corporate team and look forward to her contributions. Many very talented programmers expressed interest in this position, so it is gratifying to be able to promote from within Journal. This is a well-deserved promotion for one of our brightest people.” Journal operates a number of news/talk and sports talk outlets including flagship news/talker WTMJ, Milwaukee.
Registrations Booking Fast for Talkers New Media Seminar/LA 2012. Registrations for the West Coast installment of this year’s innovative two-part Talkers New Media Seminar are now being booked. Based upon initial demand it will be an early sellout – just as the standing room-only New York installment this past June and last year’s experimental Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum. The gathering is following the new format consisting of one solid, power-packed day, a drastically-reduced recession-friendly registration fee of $99 (including breakfast, lunch, refreshments and all sessions) and a limited seating capacity in an intimate setting. Set for Thursday, October 11 between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, the conference will take place at the historic Steve Allen Theater and again be presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club which is based out of that colorful venue. According to TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, “Last year’s experimental Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum was a smashing success that set the stage for this year’s two-part bi-coastal national event. The first part of this new version of the convention that was held in New York this past June was one of the most productive and well-received conferences in TALKERS magazine’s history. LA will be equally if not more exciting a happening! Attendees will enjoy a memorable day of dynamic networking and exposure to the most sought-after views and information about the industry’s hottest challenges, opportunities and issues.” Full agenda details and hotel information will be posted here at Talkers.com in the coming days and weeks – but to assure registration, attendees are advised to sign up now. Because it is open only to working media, there will be no online registration — only by telephone. For registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413. Click here. for more details.
TuneIn Adds NPR Programming to Its Service. Online audio aggregator TuneIn strikes a deal with NPR to expand the reach of the public radio broadcaster’s programming across the internet. Users of TuneIn will be able to hear NPR programming – including “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air” – live as they are broadcast on member stations as well as archived via TuneIn’s array of more than 2 million podcasts. NPR VP of digital media Zach Brand states, “The collaboration with TuneIn allows us and our member stations to attract more diverse audiences as audio streaming explodes across mobile devices. Through TuneIn, loyal and new listeners will be able to seamlessly enjoy their favorite programs and stations, and discover new NPR shows wherever they are and whenever they want.”
WTKK, Boston Hosts “Cocktails & Conversation with Jonah Goldberg.” That’s WTKK, Boston talk host Michael Graham on the left side of the dais speaking with author Jonah Goldberg on the right at a sold-out appearance by the author at the Café Escadrille in suburban Boston. Attendees of the three-hour event got to hear an “unedited and unplugged” conversation about Goldberg’s new book, Tyranny of Ideas: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas (Sentinel HC 2012). After the presentation, Goldberg autographed copies of his book for those in attendance.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. ESPN Radio is providing coverage of the British Open golf tournament beginning next Thursday, July 19 with a six-hour broadcast live from Royal Lytham & St. Annes beginning at 7:00 am ET…..New York talk host Steve Malzberg is busy this summer on the fill-in circuit. He recently sat in for Chris Krok at WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas. He’s in for Jack Riccardi at KTSA, San Antonio this week and he’ll be subbing for Chris Plante at WMAL-AM/FM, Washington next week…..KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh talk host Marty Griffin hosted a live broadcast in the borough of Bellevue combined with a “grillabration” at which more than 600 hot dogs and sausages were served to listeners protesting the borough’s new restrictions on outdoor grilling. In the picture here, Griffin is behind the grill with Ernie Ricci from Ricci’s Italian Sausage…..Twin Cities radio personality Tom Barnard announces he’s signed a new four-year deal to remain with Cumulus Media’s classic rock KRQS, Minneapolis…..WVON, Chicago’s morning drive personality Matt McGill had Tia Norfleet as his guest co-host on the program today (7/13). Norfleet is the only African-American female driver licensed to drive for NASCAR. Norfleet brought her race car to the studios of WVON for the public to come by and check out. After the program, she did a meet and greet with WVON listeners.
KTRH, Houston’s Michael Berry Hosts Premiere of Conservative Movie. Houston-based talk show host Michael Berry (l) is pictured here with the producers of the new movie “2016: Obama’s America” at a theater in the Houston area. Dinesh D’Souza (c) and Gerald Molen (r) appeared in town for the premiere at which more than 500 of Berry’s listeners attended. The three held a Q&A session for the crowd as well. Berry tells TALKERS this was the first showing of the movie to a public crowd and he says he believes the audience was encouraged and left the theater filled with the knowledge of where President Obama came from and where his vision for America was going to lead us. “2016: Obama’s America” opens in theaters across the country over the next few weeks and Berry will be hosting the Nashville premiere at the end of July for his affiliate station WLAC.
Why I Love The Fan. In light of the recent 25th anniversary of WFAN, New York, sports talk host Dan Sileo – afternoon drive host on Beasley’s WQAM, Miami – writes about why The Fan is such a special station and continues to be after all these years. Read Dan’s piece here.
2012 Presidential Race Returns to #1 on the Talkers TenTM. The 2012 presidential race was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of July 9 – 13, landing it atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s top stories. Coming in at #2 was the Obama tax cut extension proposal. At #3 was weak job numbers tied with financial markets activity and at #4 was the Euro Zone debt crisis. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from Talkers, and is published each Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Talk personality Leslie Marshall is added to the program schedule at WRVC, Huntington, West Virginia…..Fox Sports Radio Network is the affiliate network for WCCW-AM, Traverse City, Michigan as Fox Sports Radio 1310 will launch on August 30. The station will air the network’s entire lineup including: Fox Sports Daybreak, Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, Loose Cannons and Petros & Money.
News Corp. Splits Its Assets in Two. News Corporation officially announces it will chop its company into two separate, publicly traded companies, one consisting of its entertainment properties and the other its publishing assets. The issue was decided at yesterday’s board meeting. Under the plan, the entertainment division will include the TV and movie businesses – Twentieth Century Fox, the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel and the other cable networks. The publishing arm will consist of the newspapers – The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London and The Australian as well as the other publishing assets — including Harper Collins. This will presumably also include The Wall Street Journal Radio Network. SNL Kagan reports the two primary reasons for executing the split are to distance the more profitable entertainment assets from the phone hacking scandal — this reason has been denied by CEO Rupert Murdoch — and to encourage investors who are keen on the entertainment side but not the publishing business. The first nine months of News Corp.’s 2012 fiscal year saw the entertainment division bring in $18.66 billion in net operating revenue while the publishing division’s net operating revenue was $6.22 billion. However, analysts are not in agreement that the split will encourage that much investment and ultimately be as valuable to the entertainment side’s stock as it might appear at first blush.
Yahoo! and Clear Channel Agree to Content Sharing Deal. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment and Yahoo! partner on a distribution and cross-promotional deal in which Yahoo! will use the iHeartRadio digital platform as its official digital radio service while Yahoo! will be able to promote its content across CC’s 850 radio stations. Yahoo! recently entered into deals with ABC News and CNBC to distribute jointly produced content across websites and television. Interim Yahoo! CEO Ross Levinsohn – who is working to turn the struggling digital media company around and give it a focused direction – says of the pact, “This partnership will expand our ability to provide consumers and advertisers with the best premium content available and provide Clear Channel with unmatched digital reach.” Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman says, “We were thrilled when Ross approached us about this partnership. We like the direction Yahoo! is going and by working together we can accelerate growth for the both of us.”
The NFL’s Buffalo Bills Sue Cumulus Over “Incentive Rights Fee.” Buffalo Bills play-by-play aired on Cumulus Media’s (and previously Citadel’s) WGRF-FM and WEDG-FM, Buffalo for the past 13 seasons through the 2011 season and now the team is suing Cumulus for what it says is the company’s failure to pay the “incentive rights fee” of about $1 million, according to the Buffalo News. The suit states the incentive rights fee equals half the broadcaster’s gross revenues from the sale of related programming or advertising in connection with any Bills game, after accounting for certain costs. The suit also contends, “For the 2011 NFL football season, the reasonable value of the exclusive radio broadcast rights and perquisites was believed to be at least $2.4 million, of which an amount believed to be at least $1 million remains due and owing.” Attorneys for the team say Cumulus was to provide an independent auditor’s report on gross revenue and net revenue for the 2011 season and that has yet to happen. The Buffalo News reports attempts to get a comment from Cumulus had not been successful.
Tom Leykis and Lionel on Strategies for Taking Talk Content to the Web. This video from the recent 2012 TALKERS New Media Seminar – New York features The New Normal chief and talk radio legend Tom Leykis and LionelMedia.com personality Lionel discussing from-the-trenches strategies for bringing talk content – live streaming shows and podcasts – to the web. The biggest challenge to this initiative is letting people know you are there and enticing them to listen. Hear Leykis and Lionel speak about their work in this medium on this exclusive panel discussion in the TALKERS TV box on this page. (Videography by Art Vuolo of Vuolo Video)
TuneIn Brings Major Broadcasters Cox Media Group, Emmis and Entercom Aboard. Digital audio service TuneIn continues to build its roster of content with the signing of three of America’s big broadcasting companies to deals to distribute their audio. Cox Media Group, Emmis Communications and Entercom radio stations will be heard on the TuneIn service that boasts 30 million monthly active listeners. In announcing the deal, the chiefs of the three companies tout the enhanced distribution this will give their content. Cox president Doug Franklin states, “As we transform into a digital media company, Cox Media Group is extending our great local brands to as many digital platforms as possible to seamlessly provide our audiences with the programming they want where and when they want it. TuneIn leads the industry with their listener-first approach to everything they do, and we are excited to offer our broadcasts to the growing and vastly important digital audience.” Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan comments, “Emmis is excited by today’s announcement. We want to follow our listeners and deliver our content to the platforms they choose to use. The TuneIn platform will provide our listeners from coast to coast another connection point with their favorite radio brands.” And Entercom president and CEO David Field says, “This is a great deal for Entercom, for TuneIn and most importantly for our listeners. We are very pleased to align Entercom with such an innovative company as TuneIn, which will deliver our terrific local programming to a wider, digitally engaged audience. Together, Entercom and TuneIn will deliver existing and new fans the best listening experience possible.”
Glenn Hall Named Managing Editor at TheBlaze. Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts announces former editor in chief at TheStreet joins TheBlaze as managing editor. The company states Glenn Hall will “oversee the day-to-day management and long-term editorial planning of TheBlaze.com’s editors and writers.” Hall served as editor in chief at TheStreet until this past March and, according to comScore audience rankings, helped grow TheStreet into the 10th largest online financial media group, surpassing CNBC.com. TheBlaze president and chief strategy officer Betsy Morgan says, “In under two years, we have attracted a growing team of over 25 reporters with a diverse range of experience ranging from a former CIA officer to CNN contributors. We are excited to take our team to the next level with Glenn Hall who brings a strong track record of leading and overseeing high-quality coverage and award-winning journalism to TheBlaze.” Hall comments, “TheBlaze is an amazing web phenomenon that shows media can thrive in the new digital age provided the focus and mission are aligned with the needs of the audience. I am excited about the opportunity to help grow this brand and raise the bar for digital journalism.”
CNN Suffers Worst Primetime Ratings Quarter in 21 Years; Cable News/Talk Network Makes Programming Changes. TVNewser reports CNN’s 2012 second quarter primetime ratings were at their worst in 21 years with 446,000 total viewers and 129,000 in the adults 25-54 demo. Compared to the second quarter of 2011, CNN is down 35% in total viewers in Total Day. The numbers are similar in primetime with the network down 35% in total viewers and 41% in the adults 25-54 demo. For individual shows, it’s hard to compare since the schedule has shifted and the same shows didn’t air at the same times last year. But “Piers Morgan Tonight” (which hasn’t moved) is down 29% in total viewers and 33% in adults 25-54. There is a bit of good news for the network as TVNewser reports June Nielsen numbers show younger viewers are increasing boosting Piers Morgan 9% in June, Anderson Cooper 5% and Erin Burnett 24%. Meanwhile, the Time Warner cable news/talk network makes some programming changes: The seven-month-old “Early Start” show sees co-host Ashleigh Banfield move to the 11:00 am ET slot and newcomer John Berman becomes co-host of the program with Zoraida Sambolin. Also, Kyra Phillips leaves CNN for duties at sister channel HLN.
KOZN, Omaha’s Kevin Kugler Transitions to National Correspondent Duties. Sports talk host Kevin Kugler, currently co-host of the “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” afternoon show at NRG Media’s KOZN, Omaha – 1620 AM The Zone – will become a national sports correspondent for the station as he moves to a full-time position with the Big Ten Network – the conference’s TV network. Kugler also serves as a play-by-play announcer for NFL football and NCAA basketball on the Dial Global Radio Networks and he will remain in that capacity. KOZN program director Neil Nelkin states, “Kevin now gets a chance to cut his teeth as a play-by-play host for the Big 10 and still stay on The Zone. It has been a joy and a privilege to watch Kevin as he evolved into a national sports correspondent.” Kugler’s duties with The Zone will be as analyst, interviewer and guest anchor. On his career transition, Kugler says, “This opportunity affords me the chance to remain on The Zone and stay in Omaha. Although this is a new chapter for my career, I am still staying on my ‘home’ at 1620 The Zone but I will have even more insight to offer as a result of the various exclusive interviews and event coverage I will be able to do on BTN.”
KXL, Portland Names Dan Mitchinson PM Drive Co-Anchor. Dan Mitchinson has been evening news anchor at Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle. On July 9 he begins his new position with Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL, Portland where he’ll co-host the station’s “Portland’s Afternoon News” with Lacey Evans. In a statement, Mitchinson says, “KXL is certainly one of the best-known news/talk stations in the country and one of the things that excites me the most it’s not just telling stories, but the way we’re able to start conversations with our listeners. Anyone can read the news or check their Twitter account. What KXL does best is tell passionate stories that make you feel even more involved with the city I now get to call home.”
The Anticipated ObamaCare Ruling, the Aftermath of the Arizona Illegal Immigration Law Decision, the 2012 Presidential Campaign, the Colorado Wildfires, and Eric Holder Contempt Vote Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/27). The anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act; the aftermath of the Court’s decision on the Arizona illegal immigration law; the ongoing 2012 presidential campaign; the wildfires raging through Colorado and the attempt by House Republicans to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt in connection with the ‘Fast and Furious’ program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
ESPN Responds to CBS Sports Radio Announcement. Well, not specifically to last week’s announcement by CBS of its planned CBS Sports Radio network division, but it may have been a factor (wink, wink). ESPN sends a reminder to the industry underscoring it how pervasive the sports media organization’s audio content is, signed by SVP production, business divisions Traug Keller, who states, “We’re used to competition. ESPN Audio has built an unparalleled mix of high-quality events and national sports talk programming over the last 20 years. We are well positioned in the marketplace through our diverse audio platforms.” The release goes on to note it counts 700 affiliate stations in the U.S. – 300 of which it terms full-time affiliates. It also says it reaches 24 million listeners each week.
Programming Changes at Merlin Media’s WIQI-FM, Chicago; Greg Jarrett to AM Drive. According to Chicagoland Radio and Media, Merlin Media is making changes to the lineup at “FM News 101.1” beginning today with the arrival of Greg Jarrett in AM drive. Jarrett, the news pro who most recently served as morning host at Tribune’s crosstown WGN, joins the morning drive program co-anchoring with Monica DeSantis. The move bumps Rob Hart and Mary Ellen Geist to the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon shift. The site also reports Merlin is adding some “expanded news” programming – apparently a euphemism for “talk show” – to the schedule with John Czahor beginning a 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show. And there is still a lot of chatter in Chicago about Erich “Mancow” Muller getting an afternoon talk show on the station. He, and others including Jeff Pinkus, Kevin Matthews and Jim Laski, have been taking turns hosting talk shows in the afternoons on the station. But so far there is no official word about the permanent addition of any talk show to the lineup.
New York Public Radio Names NY Times Editor Jim Schachter News VP. WNYC-FM, New York announces The New York Times associate managing editor Jim Schachter will exit the paper and become the pubcaster’s vice president of news on July 9. He’ll be responsible for WNYC, the New Jersey Public Radio stations it recently acquired, the data news unit and the political site, It’s A Free Country. President and CEO Laura Walker says of Schachter, “He has a vibrant vision, an appetite for innovation, and a keen understanding of engaging audiences. This will bolster our ambitious plans to grow our news content and increase our reporting capacity across all platforms. We’re delighted that he is joining us at a moment when the need for serious journalism has never been more urgent.”
Digital Audio Service TuneIn Adds Fox News Radio and Bloomberg to Its Stable. The global digital audio service is quickly reaching deals with major radio and internet audio content providers and now announces it has added Fox News Radio and Bloomberg Radio to its affiliate list. TuneIn tallies more than 20 major broadcast groups as partners and the addition of Fox News Radio means TuneIn users can hear the network’s top- and bottom-of-the-hour newscasts as well as longform talk shows “Kilmeade and Friends,” John Gibson, Tom Sullivan, Alan Colmes, “Fox Across America with Spencer Hughes” and more. TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “We are committed to achieving the varied goals of our broadcast partners, whether they’re growing their audiences, monetizing their streams or growing their digital footprint. Broadcasters have already responded enthusiastically to our current offerings. We will continue to innovate – as we always have – to ensure the best experience for broadcasters, and listeners, everywhere.”
Six Leading Radio Networks Organize Network Radio Compliance Council. Six of the top American radio networks are announcing the formation of the NRCC – Network Radio Compliance Council – whose mission is to “establish best practices, providing advertisers, agencies and radio stations with better tools for the placement and reporting of commercial audio.” The NRCC consists of the six RADAR-rated network organizations: American Urban Radio Networks, Crystal Media Networks, Cumulus Media Networks, Dial Global, Premiere Networks and United Stations Radio Networks. The council elects Meg Montury of Premiere Networks as chair and Chris Buehler of Dial Global as vice chair. In a statement, the council will host quarterly meetings with invited guests, including radio vendors, ad agencies and additional network radio companies. Montury says, “Given the vast industry experience of members of this council, we are excited to be working together as an industry to enhance the accountability of network radio. Technology over the past five years has enabled us all to deliver even more precision and accuracy for our clients. The NRCC can only further solidify these efforts.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles is honored with two Southern California Journalism Awards for editorial excellence from the Los Angeles Press Club at yesterday’s 54th Southern California Journalism Awards dinner. KNX won in the “News” category for its “Shutdown Occupy L.A.” piece and in the “Investigative” category for “The Strange Case of Dr. Ehab Mohamed.”…..La Crosse Radio Group flips WLFN, La Crosse, Wisconsin from standards to talk with local host Bob Schmidt in AM drive, WIBA, Madison-based Vicki McKenna in PM drive plus Dial Global’s Dennis Miller and WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish…..CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis is sponsoring a lunch and live broadcast to honor first responders and benefit the St. Louis County Police Welfare Association. Along with local sponsors Lane House Construction and CiCi’s Pizza, the former will buy lunch for all first responders who join the event on Thursday, June 28 from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm during which the station’s Martin Kilcoyne and Trish Gazall will broadcast live and donations to the association will be accepted…..Boston jazz buffs are lamenting the imminent disappearance of WGBH-FM, Boston’s evening jazz programming as the non-com announces it will add more spoken-word content to the program schedule this summer. There’s no official evening programming schedule announcement yet but the station has recently added expanded programming from NPR…..“Car Clinic” radio host Bobby Likis says he’s extended his collaboration with the Renewable Fuels Association on its ethanol educational outreach. The outreach includes the “Calling All Technicians…20 Facts About Ethanol” feature on the Car Clinic Network, which is designed to enlighten, educate and energize automotive technicians with verifiable facts, studies and statistics on ethanol…..Galaxy Communications’ classic rock simulcast of WTKW-FM, Bridgeport, New York and WTKV-FM, Oswego, New York are the new central New York affiliate stations for Buffalo Bills football games this season…..Al Warren retires from his weekend morning program at Cumulus Media’s WICC, Bridgeport, Connecticut on July 1. Warren began working with WICC in 1965.
KDOW, San Francisco Producer Wins Award for “Phil’s Gang” Promotion. Salem Communications’ KDOW, San Francisco producer Mark Morris is recognized in the 2011 International Radio and Production Awards for his production work on the “Waltzing with Phil Grande” promotion. The business talk-formatted station carries the nationally syndicated “Phil’s Gang” talk program hosted by Phil Grande. Grande states, “We are proud of Mark and thankful for all his hard work for the ‘Phil’s Gang’ radio show. This high-level award is the crème of the industry and everyone at ‘Phil’s Gang’ congratulates Mark on this leading international award honoring his excellence in broadcasting.”
End of an Era at KLOS-FM, Los Angeles as Mark Thompson Announces Retirement. The duo Mark & Brian have hosted their very successful morning drive show on Cumulus Media‘s classic rock KLOS-FM, Los Angeles since 1987. But as Mark Thompson tells LARadio.com‘s Don Barrett, he and his wife want to take time to enjoy the things that retirement brings. Thompson’s last show will be August 17. That gives KLOS time to figure out what to do with the morning show. Thompson’s partner Brian Phelps wants to keep working at the station in the morning and reportedly Cumulus is working on making that happen.
Columbus Gains All-Newser. Two Columbus radio outlets drop their formats to become an AM/FM all-newser. North American Broadcasting Co. flips classic hits WTDA-FM and standards WMNI-AM to all-news as WMNI. The station is airing a local morning drive news program hosted by news director Mark Nuce, anchor Kelly Quinn and sports director Mark “The Shark” Howell. The rest of the day will use America’s Radio News Network programming with local news inserts. Evenings and overnights will air Dial Global‘s Jim Bohannon and Cumulus Media Network‘s “Red Eye Radio.” The station is filling the weekends with newsy and business-related programming including Cumulus Media’s “Moneytalk with Bob Brinker” and “Bloomberg Businessweek.”
Former Connecticut Governor and WTIC, Hartford Host John Rowland Draws Ire of Unions. The former Governor of Connecticut hosts the station’s PM drive show and today the CBS Radio news/talk station will face some sort of protest at its Farmington studios by a collection of construction, public sector and building and trade unions for Rowland’s opposition to the CTfastrack project – a controversial road, light rail and bike path project between Hartford and New Britain. Connecticut Laborers District Council business manager Charles LeConche states, “The John Rowland that I remember as Governor of Connecticut always supported public projects and understood how to grow the local economy. His present show is now all trash talk radio. It’s really become ‘hate’ radio every weekday afternoon. We’re supporting a boycott of his advertisers and the radio station as well. Our organization will also be petitioning the Federal Communications Commission about this CBS Radio outlet’s handling of trash talk and biased information without offering the opportunity to present different points of view.”
Three Broadcast Groups Join TuneIn for Strategic Digital Alliance. Digital audio distribution service TuneIn announces Beasley Broadcast Group, Midwest Communications and Federated Media are aligning with the service to bring more than 100 stations to its more than 30 million monthly active listeners. TuneIn CEO John Donham says, “We want to make the best audio available to anyone, no matter where they are. Aligning with Beasley Broadcast Group, Midwest Communications and Federated Media gives our listeners unlimited access to some of their favorite hometown stations, while increasing the listener bases of these three major U.S. Broadcasters.” Midwest SVP Michael Wright states, “At Midwest Communications, Inc., we’ve received numerous requests from our radio brands’ listeners asking how they can listen to our content via mobile phone streaming. Our new alliance with TuneIn allows us to give our listeners exactly what they want – their favorite personalities and music, whenever they want, wherever they want. TuneIn gives Midwest Communications another way to superserve and grow our audience.”
CNN Cancels John King USA; Adds Another Hour of Wolf Blitzer. Executives at Time Warner have reportedly become impatient with the performance of cable news/talk channel CNN in the evening and prime time. Now, it appears John King‘s program is the first casualty of a programming shift as “John King USA” is being dropped and another hour of “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” picks up the 6:00 pm ET hour. John King remains with CNN as lead national campaign correspondent. CNN/U.S. chief Ken Jautz states, “John will be providing reports for ‘SitRoom,’ ‘AC360′ and other programs and CNN platforms. This is John’s seventh presidential campaign – fourth with CNN – and making him available across our programming lineup allows us to better tap his skills and experience, especially on the ground reporting in major battleground states and among critical voting blocs.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Compass Media Marketing announces the hiring of Bob O’Connor as account director. O’Connor comes to Compass with experience working in the sales and marketing departments at CBS Radio, Eastman Radio, ABC Radio Networks and Cumulus Media…..WQAM, Miami afternoon drive host (and TALKERS contributor) Dan Sileo will fill in at Yahoo! Sports Radio on June 21 and 22 on the morning drive program…..Entercom‘s sports talk WEEI-FM, Springfield, Massachusetts grabs the broadcast rights for University of Massachusetts football and men’s basketball for the next five seasons. In addition to play-by-play, the station will air “The Charley Molnar Show” and “The Derek Kellogg Show’ – the weekly coach’s shows for football and basketball, respectively…..The Radio Television Digital News Association announces ESPN is honored with two 2012 Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for excellence in electronic journalism. “E: 60″ won the Outstanding Sports Reporting award and “The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap” won the Audio Sports Reporting award…..Hubbard Radio‘s WTOP, Washington is awarded five 2012 Edward R. Murrow awards including Best Newscast and two for Overall Excellence.
2012 Presidential Race, Russia-Syria Arms Connection, NYC Snack Food Ban, Eric Holder-’Fast and Furious’ Case and EU Debt Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/13). The 2012 presidential campaign; Russia’s unapologetic supplying of arms to Syria; more considerations of snack food bans in New York City; the GOP’s move to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt in connection with the ‘Fast and Furious’ program; and the state of the debt crisis in the European Union were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WBZ, Boston Hosts Scott Pelley. The anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” visited Boston on Tuesday, June 12 as a special guest at the WBZ NewsRadio Business Breakfast where more than 500 people packed the Boston Westin Copley Hotel. WBZ anchor Joe Mathieu interviewed Scott Pelley about topics including the presidential campaign, healthcare, the economy and his career in the news business. Pelley arrived in town the evening prior to the event and brought with him a full staff of producers and writers to produce the Monday evening news. Pictured here are (from l-r): CBS Radio Boston VP & market manager Mark Hannon, WBZ, Boston news anchor Joe Mathieu, Scott Pelley, and WBZ news and programming director Peter Casey. (Photo courtesy of Jodi-Tatiana Charles, La Capoise Galerie)
Tom Leykis’ Return to Talk Draws Loyal Audience to Web-Based Content. Off the radio for more than three years after CBS Radio blew up KLSX-FM, Los Angeles and his contract kept him from working for anyone other than CBS, Tom Leykis returned to the microphone on April 2 for an internet-delivered talk show. The show is broadcast live at www.blowmeuptom.com at 3:00 pm PT and on a 24/7 streamed replay via major media players – Tune In, Windows Media Player, iTunes, iPhone, Shoutcast and Winamp. Leykis says the numbers for the first week of the show were impressive: The total number of listeners from April 2 to Monday, April 9 was 401,180. The average number of show listeners for that week in any 15 minute period totaled 1,575 and the average time spent listening by each listener was a half hour each day in the seven-day week. “These numbers are way higher than what we’d anticipated. We’re way farther along in our progress than I ever could have imagined. Kind of makes you wonder what competing alternative content like this will ultimately mean for radio.” Leykis, who will be speaking at the New Media Seminar in New York City on June 7, tells TALKERS that the combination of doing a daily show and running his own business has made him “more focused than ever” stating, “Now is the time for talk talent to think of themselves as more than employees…they must think entrepreneurially for their own survival. The way to start is by developing a healthy relationship with your advertisers.”
Act Quickly! Word just in from Bob Dane, event manager for this year’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row is that due to larger than expected demand, they expanded the number of broadcast booths. As of 10:00 am ET this morning (Monday, April 23), Dane reports there is now one remaining, fully equipped booth in morning, midday and afternoon drive left. And it’s first come, first serve. This event is a must-attend-and-no-reason-not-to given that everything is turnkey and at no cost for the convenience of the participating broadcasters…and if you act fast, possibly a hotel room can be part of the package – but availability is extremely limited. Hold Their Feet to the Fire 2012 is staged annually by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, this year, May 8-9 in Washington, DC focusing on immigration issues facing the candidates in this heated election year. Contact Bob Dane at 202-328-7004.
Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly Close to Re-signing with Fox News Channel. The New York Times reports it has confirmed through anonymous sources that Fox News Channel superstars Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly are ready – as early as next week – to sign contract extensions with News Corp.’s cable news/talk network that would keep them in the fold through the 2016 elections. FNC is declining to comment on the story but the sources seem to indicate that the deals to keep the two most-watched personalities on the network in place for four more years are being cemented quickly and should be announced within the next week or so. Sean Hannity’s national talk radio show is syndicated by Premiere Networks and Bill O’Reilly’s daily commentary is syndicated to talk radio stations across the country via Courtside Entertainment Group.
NOW Attempts to Inject Life into Anti-Rush Limbaugh Campaign. The National Organization for Women is firing up a campaign called “Enough Rush” aimed at getting the Premiere Networks talk superstar’s show cancelled. As these things usually do, the blowback suffered by Rush Limbaugh from his Sandra Fluke comments has all but disappeared. But NOW – working in conjunction with the anti-conservative organization Media Matters for America – is reigniting its efforts to end Limbaugh’s program. NOW president Terry O’Neill states, “For more than two decades, Rush Limbaugh has degraded women, people of color and anyone who doesn’t look or think like him. Like bullies everywhere, Limbaugh uses the age-old tactic of savaging one woman for the purpose of intimidating all women away from the public square. Rush’s hostile, hateful speech is destructive to our public discourse, our communities and our democracy.” NOW is organizing rallies in a number of cities designed to build momentum for the campaign. Meanwhile, PPM ratings for the month of March indicate publicity generated by the campaign against Limbaugh has actually increased his ratings in many markets.
Arbitron Drops Diary-Based Ratings in Seven Markets. Lack of enough subscribers to make it profitable can be credited for Arbitron Inc.’s decision to eliminate the diary-based ratings in Saginaw-Bay City-Midlands, Michigan (market #139); Ann Arbor, Michigan (#155); Wilmington, North Carolina (#162); Dubuque, Iowa (#237); Columbus-Starkville-West Point, Mississippi (#261); Sebring, Florida (#276); and Mason City, Iowa (#283).
WPRO, Providence Talk Host and Former Mayor Buddy Cianci’s Daughter Dies. The colorful two-time former mayor of Providence – and PM drive talk host at Cumulus Media’s WPRO/WEAN-FM, Providence – Buddy Cianci has lost his daughter to an apparent drug overdose. Nicole Cianci’s death at her home in the city was reported Friday and Cianci issued the following statement, “This is a tragic and emotional time for Nicole’s mother and I. Our entire family appreciates your thoughts, prayers and sentiments. We ask that our family’s privacy be respected during this difficult time.” Nicole Cianci was Buddy Cianci’s only child and the mother of his three grandchildren.
TALKERS to Publish Four-Part Series by Walter Sabo on FM Talk this Week. Sabo Media president Walter Sabo, one of the earliest and most accomplished proponents of FM talk, has written a powerful and informative four-part series on the hot topic that will run exclusively in TALKERS this week. In the series, one of radio programming’s most prolific visionaries delves into such areas as mistakes to avoid, finding and inspiring great hosts, methods to develop cume, topic management, the differences between AM and FM “share” and much more. The series begins tomorrow (Tuesday, April 24) and will run every day this week through Friday. Sabo will be a featured speaker at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in NYC on June 7.
WFLA-FM, Tallahassee AM Drive Show’s Eggers Exits to Join Think Tank. Eric Eggers is producer and on-air co-host of the WFLA-FM, Tallahassee’s morning drive show hosted by Preston Scott. He announces he’s leaving the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment station and the program he’s been producing for the past seven-plus years to join the Government Accountability Institute – a non-profit think tank based in Tallahassee and founded by conservative author Peter Schweizer. Eggers tells Tallahassee.com, “Peter wrote his last book about insider trading in Congress. And so it’s going to be more projects along the same vein in terms of focusing on corruption, cronyism, looking at some of the ways the current federal government system is broken and failing us — not looking out for the little guy.”
Ed Tyll Begins Regular Web-Based Talk Show Tonight. Longtime talk radio host Ed Tyll begins a new regular talk program broadcast via the internet at TalkRadioX (http://talkradiox.com/) at 8:00 pm ET. TalkRadioX was co-founded by Dan Delgado and Antubert Johnson – two personalities who’ve made the TALKERS “Frontier Fifty” list of internet talk show hosts blazing a trail in the world of web-based programming since the list began being published three years ago. (The 2012 “Frontier Fifty” list will be published at Talkers.com in September.) Tyll says TalkRadioX is “a 24-hour streaming talk station that boasts an original line up of enthusiastic talkers, reminiscent of when talk radio was both fun and informative.” Dan Delgado tells TALKERS, “Getting someone of Ed Tyll’s caliber and stature in the industry is something we at TalkRadioX had been looking to do for some time. We’re thrilled to be getting someone with his experience on the station. What he brings in terms of talent and energy is something that will bring all of us to the next level.” Tyll states, “TalkRadioX represents a key moment in the history of a format that I love hosting. It’s the perfect place for what I do on the air. I’m convinced that my success with the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando will be eclipsed by the enormous potential of this network’s unique combination of terrestrial radio and world wide web radio listenership.” During his career, Ed Tyll has worked at numerous major market talk stations as well has having been nationally syndicated.
The Fight for Freedom in Afghanistan. WNDB, Daytona Beach talk show host Marc Bernier (l) is pictured here interviewing author and former Army Ranger Captain Sean Parnell (r) as the two discuss his new book Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan (William Morrow 2012). The interview was conducted before a live audience at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is the 78th such event – broadcast live on WNDB – in Bernier’s live interview series.
Cox Media Group Goes Hot Talk in Tampa on “The Bone.” The rock music stops on Cox Media Group’s WHPT-FM, Tampa – The Bone – on Monday, April 23 as the company builds a hot talk station around morning drive star Bubba the Love Sponge and PM drive personality Cowhead. Cox will add the DirecTV-produced Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange show for late nights and is considering programs for middays and early evenings. Cox Tampa VP/market manager Keith Lawless says, “‘The Bone’ dominates the morning and afternoon drive talk shows and has room to grow in the midday and evening classic rock shows. Evolving this station into an all-talk station is an obvious move. Bubba plays no music and is clearly the market’s leader in mornings. Filling in the other dayparts with compelling talk and removing all music from the already successful Cowhead show will make ‘The Bone’ dominant with men and adults all day long.”
KNBR, San Francisco Parts Company with Ralph Barbieri After 28 Years. Ralph Barbieri – the Razor – has been a part of sports talk on KNBR, San Francisco since 1984 but he’s been let go by Cumulus Media as the result of a “management decision,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. Barbieri’s co-host Tom Tolbert – Mr. T – continues as solo host of the PM drive show. Barbieri wrote for Sport magazine before joining KNBR in 1984 and became one of the pillars upon which KNBR was built. Last fall, Barbieri revealed to the San Francisco Chronicle that he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2005 and that he disclosed the diagnosis to Cumulus as the two sides began negotiating a contract renewal. Barbieri said he believed it was only fair to Cumulus. He also reported that CEO Lew Dickey told him the company wanted him back. Barbieri wrote to the Mercury News stating: “…All I can say is that I’m weighing my options, which are considerable. I’ll have more to say later on. For now, I just want to say that I’ve seen a couple of articles that have characterized this as an amicable parting. Well, that’s not exactly the case. I came to work (Tuesday) morning with no idea that anything of this nature was afoot, especially since my contract does not expire until November 1. I was immediately told that the general manager wanted to see me. I went to his office and the program director was there as well. I was told that I was being terminated and that April 10, was to be my last day at KNBR.”
All-News WBBM Top Biller in Chicago in 2011. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports data from BIA/Kelsey that indicates all-news has been good for CBS Radio in the Windy City. The most recent quarterly “Investing in Radio Market Report” from BIA/Kelsey ranks the top five radio billers in Chicago and ranks WBBM – with its recent FM simulcast addition – at the top with $48 million in billing in 2011 (an increase from $42.5 million in 2010). Hubbard Broadcasting’s AC WTMX-FM is in second place followed by Tribune’s news/talk WGN in third ($35.5 million). Univision’s Regional Mexican WOJO-FM comes in fourth and CBS Radio’s country WUSN-FM is in fifth place.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Jumps on Board iHeartRadio. Stating that the new platform provides listeners with greater access to WGN, station VP/general manager Tom Langmyer announces Tribune Company’s news/talk WGN will be heard on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio digital platform. “This additional platform provides even greater access to WGN, and exposes new listeners to one of America’s premier personality-based talk, news and sports stations.” Clear Channel Digital president Brian LeKamp says, “Adding a station like WGN to iHeartRadio further delivers on our mission to be wherever our listeners are with the products and services they expect, expanding our ability to offer our users an even more diverse and exciting listening experience. As one of the top stations in Chicago, WGN features news, information, entertainment and sports and is an excellent addition to our platform.”
Jorge Sedano Leaves Post as AM Drive Host at WAXY, Miami. South Florida sports talk host Jorge Sedano tweets to his fans that he’s left Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WAXY, Miami’s morning drive show: “After four great yrs at 790 THE TICKET I’ve decided 2 move on effective immediately. W/ all the new projects I’m working on its just too hard 2 do it all. I want to thank all wonderful people I worked with in my time there. Also, thank you the audience for some great radio. Without you guys, I wouldn’t be in this great position to make this move. I’m looking forward to the next chapter & hoping u all come along. Thanks again for all your support. You have no idea what it means to me. All the best. Love JORGE.” Chatter in the sports talk world is that Sedano, who has previously worked at Fox Sports Radio Network, is developing a show to air on the new CBS Sports Network – possibly as a lead in to Jim Rome’s new show on the cable channel. For now, Brandon Guzio is hosting the morning show at WAXY.
Salem Communications Partners with TuneIn. Camarillo, California-based Salem Communications is the latest broadcaster to partner with internet audio company TuneIn to broadcast its stations via the web. Salem makes its almost 100 radio properties available to listeners everywhere via the service. Salem Radio president David Santrella says in a statement, “Through our partnership with TuneIn, we have expanded the number of access points to our content. We have made it easier for our current listeners to access our programming from wherever they are and have opened up our broadcasts to new audiences. Overnight we’ve expanded our footprint in digital and have gained a suite of first-of-their-kind analysis tools from TuneIn that help us further tailor programming to our listeners everywhere.”
Arbitron CFO Richard Surratt to Leave the Company. A press release from Arbitron headquarters in Columbia, Maryland says Richard Surratt is leaving his role at the ratings giant for personal reasons and that EVP/COO Sean Creamer will take over the CFO role when Surratt’s exit takes place in May. Meanwhile, the company has hired Crist Kolder Associates to search for a new CFO.
2012 Presidential Race, Charges Filed Against George Zimmerman, Obama Care Status, Tepid U.S. Jobs Creation and European Economic Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/11). Mitt Romney’s apparent capturing of the GOP nomination and the 2012 presidential campaign, second degree murder charges filed against George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, the legal status of President Obama’s Patient Accessibility and Affordable Care Act, meager job growth in the U.S. and economic tensions in the Euro zone were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Bonneville Seattle Gets Behind Fisher House Campaign. Bonneville Seattle – which includes news/talk KIRO-FM, talk KTTH, and sports talk KIRO – is supporting a campaign to upgrade the Fisher House at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. The current house – which provides lodging for the families of American service personnel recovering from treatment after being wounded in the line of duty – has been in use since 1992 and there is a need for a larger facility. Bonneville VP/market manager Carl Gardner states, “Healing our wounded warriors and caring for their families is a mission all of us in the Pacific Northwest want to join. At Bonneville, we’re excited to pull together our community of friends and bring this new Fisher House to life, to give something back to the soldiers and their families who have given us so much over these past ten years.” Pictured here are Bonneville Seattle staffers and military personnel from the base.
Dave Ramsey and Daughter Rachel Cruze Present Program to Sold Out L.A. Audience. Nationally syndicated money talk radio star Dave Ramsey appeared at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, April 3 before a sold-out crowd of 1,200 for affiliate KFWB, Los Angeles. The subject of the evening was family and money and Ramsey’s daughter Rachel Cruze appeared with him as Ramsey shared his key principles on handling money and navigating family relationships. Cruze answered the oft-asked question, “What was it like growing up in Dave Ramsey’s house?” She also discussed how to teach kids life lessons, like the dangers of debt and the value of saving and giving. The event benefitted Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. KFWB general manager Valerie Blackburn says, “We are thrilled with the event last night. It’s always a pleasure working with Dave, and adding his daughter Rachel into the mix just made it that much better. The audience looked terrific – it was a packed house of multi-generational listeners. KFWB couldn’t have asked for a more successful evening!” Pictured here are (from l-r): Howard Freshman, KFWB marketing director; Rosemary Hernandez, general sales manager; Dave Ramsey; Rachel Cruze; Valerie Blackburn, general manager; and Andy Ludlum, program director.
CBS Radio Signs on with TuneIn to Make Spoken-Word Content Available Online. CBS Radio announces it has inked a non-exclusive agreement with TuneIn to have content from its more than 40 news/talk, sports and all-news stations available via smartphones and the web. CBS local digital media president Ezra Kucharz states, “We have always believed in the value of great local content, and this agreement validates the demand we know exists for our original programming while at the same time creates a new revenue source for the company. By forging relationships with premiere distribution services such as TuneIn, CBS Radio will significantly grow its audiences by exposing our content to new listeners.”
Talk Legend Gene Burns Recovering from Stroke. It’s been no secret that San Francisco talk icon Gene Burns has been off the air at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KKSF. On Tuesday (4/3), he posted the following on the NewsTalk 910 KKSF website: “To my listeners and friends in the NewsTalk 910 family. The past few weeks has brought a great number of changes, and a vast silence. For the silence, please accept my apologies. I have been recovering from a stroke, which has affected the speech center of my brain in the form of aphasia. In this third month of recovery, I am enthusiastic and thankful for the progress I have made, due in no small part to the great amount of help I have received from UCSF, St. Francis, and the Sutter Health care groups. Most days, I have speech therapy and visits from great friends and colleagues. I would like to wish everybody well, and to say thank you to the NewsTalk910 family for sticking by me. Many of the NewsTalk 910 line-up of hosts have reached out, including of course Len Tillem, my long time friend and advisor. A special thank you to my colleagues; to John, Gil, Rosie, Ed, Dr. Bill, James and the rest for stepping up to the plate for me. Most importantly; thank you to all of you who listen, Tweet, Facebook and tell friends about me, and my program. Although I do not have a specific date for my return to the air, I listen each day to NewsTalk 910, giving me motivation to re-join the conversation about the issues of the day.”
Dial Global Touts NCAA Final Four Radio Listenership: More Than 20 Million Unique Listeners. As it did with its coverage of the NFL Conference Championships and the Super Bowl, Dial Global hired Edison Research to study how many Americans heard its coverage of the NCAA Final Four on the 512 radio stations across the country that carried it. Edison estimates 20.6 million tuned in to hear some portion of the broadcasts on Saturday, March 31 and Monday, April 2. Dial Global co-president and CEO David Landau says, “We are pleased that our previous research findings still hold true, people desire play-by-play sports on radio in a big way. Dial Global is proud to connect with fans nationwide through the greatest moments from America’s most popular sporting events.”
Jeff Haley Named CEO at Marketron. Industry watchers suspected that Jeff Haley had another gig lined up before leaving his position with the Radio Advertising Bureau, making way for Erica Farber to assume leadership of that organization. Haley will begin his term as president and chief executive officer of Marketron on April 16. A statement from Marketron says Haley “brings this tremendous experience to Marketron, where he plans to continue the company’s impressive growth since the launch of Mediascape, the media industry’s first open technology platform. Haley is excited to maintain and grow Marketron’s position as the leader in the space, and continue to provide its customers the standard in business efficiencies to increase revenues.”
Genesis Communications Media Names Bill Bokunic WIXC, Melbourne-Cocoa Beach Market Manager. Bill Bokunic will have two roles with Florida-based Genesis Communications Media: First, he’ll serve as market manager for 1060 News WIXC, Melbourne-Cocoa Beach; he’ll also serve as director of sales-news business for Genesis’ Orlando radio cluster. He’ll be handling the planning and marketing for Genesis’ ESPNFLORIDA.com and NEWSTALKFLORIDA.com and its event division which includes a partnership with Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Bokunic states, “I have been looking to relocate back to Central Florida in the media business. I am grateful for this opportunity to oversee the marketing of the digital publications, events, as well as the radio stations for Genesis in Central Florida. Genesis is moving rapidly into the multi-platform marketing business and I am thrilled to be a part of this business plan.”
Premiere Networks Promotes Bill Hickey to SVP of Engineering. Bill Hickey moves up from VP to SVP and Premiere notes he takes on some new duties. In this new position, Hickey will now be responsible for directing all studio operations and administration, while continuing to oversee engineering and technical operations for Premiere Networks’ studio facilities nationwide, including Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Chicago and Florida. Hickey will also continue to manage the company’s XDS satellite and internet-based delivery systems, Network Operations Center, and other studio and construction projects, as well as supervise a team of nearly 50 employees.
Canadian Pubcaster to Cut 650 Positions to Deal with $200 Million Shortfall. The CBC is announcing it plans to eliminate some 650 jobs in order to handle a federal government funding decrease of $115 million over three years combined with improvements in service the public broadcasting corporation has vowed to enact that makes for an approximate $200 million shortfall over three years. Reports indicate about 450 jobs will be lost this year with the rest to come over the next three years. Marc-Philippe Laurin is president of the CBC/Radio Canada branch of the Canadian Media Guild which represents most CBC employees outside Quebec. He tells the Globe and Mail, “Mostly, our members work in news. It’s what the CBC does most of with the staff it has. So it’s going to have an impact, but we’re expecting more details on that stuff in the days to come.”
Melody Burns Celebrates Three Years On Air in Albany. Local business consultant Melody Burns began hosting a brokered program on Paul Vandenburgh’s WGDJ, Albany three years ago. She quickly transitioned to a full-time paid talent and is, as she describes herself, “the only female conservative” on the air in Albany. Burns’ initial effort – called “Women IN” – focused on showcasing women in business and current events of interest. Her first program featured a local female cardiologist. She enters her fourth year on the radio doing the daily 11:00 am to 12:00 noon conservative talk show as well as a three-hour Saturday program. Burns tells TALKERS, “The best part of everyday is receiving not just the ‘good job – thanks for the ‘information’ e-mails but the ‘you are a right wing radical’ or ‘you are ignorant trash,’ or ‘you’re a right-wing extremist’ or one of my favorites, ‘you are Savage, Limbaugh and Levin in a skirt!’ e-mails. I would call Paul Vandenburgh the Yoda of talk radio – at least that’s what he has been to me.”
GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Iran’s Role in Afghan Violence, Muslim Brotherhood’s Station in Egyptian Politics, Paul Ryan Budget, and European Economic Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/4). The Republican primary race and the 2012 presidential campaign; concerns over Iran’s suspected role in Afghanistan violence; the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s evolving political scene; debate over the Republicans’ Paul Ryan-authored budget; and new worries about Europe’s economic stability were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
KKOB, Albuquerque Celebrates 90 Years On Air Today. It was April 5, 1922 when the original KOB went on the air from Las Cruces, New Mexico (original studio pictured here). The station would move to Albuquerque in 1932. It moved up the dial to its current 770 frequency and boosted its power to 50,000 watts in 1941. Cumulus Albuquerque operations manager Pat Frisch tells TALKERS the station’s calls changed to KKOB in 1986 when Hubbard sold the station to Citadel. Hubbard wanted the KOB calls for the TV station that it still owns today. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has declared today “770 KKOB Day.”
Cumulus Reports Net Revenue Down 5.6% in Fourth Quarter of 2011; Company High on Geraldo and Huckabee. Cumulus Media Group CEO Lew Dickey and chief financial officer J.P. Hannan appeared together on yesterday’s conference call to tell analysts the company’s plans for consolidating the former Cumulus Media Partners (former Susquehanna stations) it brought into the fold in August and the former Citadel stations it closed on in September are coming together allowing them to realize the “synergies” — $10.5 million worth — within the time frame originally predicted. As far as revenue is concerned, the company saw revenue down only 1% if you exclude political advertising from Q4 one year prior. Dickey told analysts there was growth in the automotive, financial services and retail sectors in Q4 and he – like many – expects this to be a big year for political dollars. Dickey addressed the coming launch of the Mike Huckabee program and stopped short of saying Cumulus could capitalize on Rush Limbaugh’s current PR challenge but told analysts his company sees a real upside for the April launch of Huckabee’s program for which it says it has about 110 affiliates lined up already. Dickey also said that Geraldo Rivera – currently heard on WABC, New York and KABC, Los Angeles only – is ripe for national syndication and calls the New York and Los Angeles placement a “precursor” to a national rollout.
Rush Limbaugh Takes Monday Off; Premiere Networks Suspends Airing of Barter Spots for Two Weeks. Things are quieting down with regard to the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy but El Rushbo took yesterday (3/12) off to play golf with regular fill-in Mark Steyn sitting in the host’s chair. Public relations and crisis management expert Brian Glicklich is working with Limbaugh’s team and it sounds as though the day off was probably his idea. At the same time, Premiere Networks issued a memo to traffic departments at news/talk affiliates and is suspending the requirement that stations run barter spots – the ones that air in addition to the network spots actually contained within Limbaugh’s and other Premiere shows – for this week and next. Premiere gives no reason for this but one could surmise it doesn’t want to have any clients’ spots air within “controversial programming” and a cool down period like this will allow it to get a handle on where these spots are to air and where they should not.
Curtis Media Blows Up “FM Talk 101.1” WZTK-FM; Programming Changes Affect WPTF, Raleigh and WSJS, Winston-Salem. Curtis Media shocks the news/talk world with the sudden announcement that eight-year-old FM talker WZTK-FM, Burlington – serving both the Triad and Triangle markets of North Carolina is signing off its talk format and will re-emerge within a few weeks. But some of the talent heard on WZTK-FM is being spread out among Curtis Media’s other news talkers in the Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem/High Point/Greensboro markets. Here’s what’s happening: First, in the Triangle market of Raleigh-Durham, Curtis drops country on WKIX at 850 AM and will operate two outlets – NewsRadio 680 WPTF and TalkRadio 850 WPTF. WPTF VP/GM David Stuckey states, “NewsRadio 680 WPTF is where people will hear about the big events of the day, while TalkRadio 850 WPTF is where they’ll talk about those stories.” Stuckey says that while WPTF has proudly conservative roots dating back to 1924, the two stations will strive for balanced news coverage and an open exchange of all opinions across the ideological spectrum. “Unlike some media outlets, we’re not going to force-feed the same political agenda ad nauseum. We’ve seen ratings slippage on stations and channels with a hard-leaning approach, and more advertisers are telling us they want media platforms that are less toxic and more civil.” As far as talent is concerned, Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire survive the cut at WZTK-FM and will host PM drive on WPTF and WSJS. Dial Global’s Neal Boortz and Clark Howard are also landing on WPTF and WSJS. Shows that “didn’t make the cut” include local host Allan Handelman, TRN’s Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie and Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes.
Larry King to Host Show on Internet TV Network. American television and radio icon Larry King is returning to the interview desk with a start-up online TV network called Ora.TV being financed by Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim. A debut date for the site has not been announced yet but the Ora.TV website says it’s coming this year. The site states, “From its inception, Ora is an internet-based on-demand network producing a wide range of programs that transcend traditional formats. Our programs will resemble broadcast TV in terms of quality, but viewers will watch when and where they like with interactive capability.” Former News Corp. president of digital journalism Jon Housman will lead the network.
Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Holds “Insight 2012” with Major Political Guests. The annual “Insight 2012” program hosted by WTMJ, Milwaukee talk host Charlie Sykes has become a must-listen for Wisconsin political aficionados the morning after it takes place. The actual event is a ticket-holder-only live event the night prior – in this year’s case, last night. Sykes hosted fellow WTMJ host Jeff Wagner and other journalists plus Wisconsin State Senate candidates Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Thompson, Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde. Also appearing were U.S. Representatives Paul Ryan, Reid Ribble and Sean Duffy along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Last evening’s event is being re-broadcast this morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon on WTMJ.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Signs on with TuneIn. The “Voice of Chicago” can now be heard around the world via the free, internet service TuneIn, which boasts 30 million monthly active listeners. TuneIn vice president of programming Kevin Straley says, “WGN is known all over the country and has a rich history in Chicago. Our goal is to share all of the best programming from around the world with over 30 million monthly listeners, and partnering with WGN brings us one step closer to that goal.”
KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh Announces Pirates Broadcast Talent. CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh announces former Chicago Cubs third baseman Kevin Orie will be paired with radio host Dan Zangrilli to handle the game-day shows before and after each Pirates baseball game throughout the season. The two will host a one-hour preview program and a one-hour post-game show. Pirates broadcasters (Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Steve Blass, Bob Walk, and John Wehner) will continue to be featured during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as calling all the action during the games.
Report: 3MTR Abandons Talk Format in Melbourne. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on the demise of talkback radio 3MTR in Melbourne. Smith notes the station had been having financial difficulties for months and was unable to compete with Melbourne’s talk 3AW. Read more here.
Afghan Civilian Massacre, 2012 Presidential Race, HBO Palin Movie, Rush Limbaugh Controversy and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/12). The case of a U.S. Army sergeant who killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan; the GOP candidates’ battle to win the nomination to face President Obama in November; HBO’s “Game Change” film about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential race; the ongoing controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh; and the Iran nuclear weapons issue were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Phil Hendrie Walks the Red Carpet. Sure, he’s not wearing a glitzy, designer gown but he is walking on a red carpet! That’s Talk Radio Network personality Phil Hendrie at the Los Angeles Animation Festival on Saturday, March, 10. Hendrie – whose voice appears in numerous animated films and TV programs – was a cast member in Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s “Team America” film. Hendrie states, “I was happy to be involved in any way that I could, because that was a great work experience for me…Every time that it’s mentioned that I was in ‘Team America,’ people instantaneously recognize it. They know the voice of I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., they know the voice of the terrorist, they know the film, so it’s like my instant credibility button.”
“Johnny B” Takes Over Mornings on WGN. Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago announces Chicago radio legend Jonathon Brandmeier replaces Greg Jarrett as host of the morning drive program effective December 9. WGN vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer says, “Jonathon Brandmeier is a Chicago superstar and we’re thrilled to have him on the air at the station where he belongs. Johnny’s high energy, humor and unique Chicago experience make him an exceptional fit as ‘The Voice of Chicago’ evolves with another generation of listeners.” Brandmeier had a successful 14-year career at WLUP-AM/FM but in 1997 the station made a change and he worked at WCKG-FM, Chicago before moving to Los Angeles to host programs at KLSX-FM and KCBS-FM. He returned to WLUP-FM to host mornings from 2005 through 2009. He’s also hosted various television projects and recorded numerous music/comedy projects. The change in mornings at WGN and the ousting of Jarrett represents another move away from the programming brought to the station under the leadership of former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels and the PD he brought to WGN, Kevin Metheny. Jarrett moved to WGN in June of 2009 after spending more than eight years at KGO, San Francisco in the news department. WGN notes changes in the news department includes news anchor Steve Bertrand moving to mornings with Brandmeier and Jim Gudas shifting to middays/afternoons. While Chicagoans may welcome the return of Johnny B to the radio, some will be upset with the replacement of husband-and-wife team Steve King and Johnnie Putman in the 12:00 midnight to 5:30 am slot with Bill Leff. King has been with WGN for more than 25 years and Johnnie almost as long.
Clear Channel and Cumulus Partner Up for Two-Pronged Deal. The New York Times is reporting that Clear Channel and Cumulus – the two largest radio operators in America – have struck a deal that will give Cumulus spots for its SweetJack daily-deals program on Clear Channel radio stations and that will put Cumulus radio stations on CC’s iHeartRadio platform. Cumulus has SweetJack operating in 16 markets with plans to expand. Recently, Clear Channel struck a deal to work with daily-deals operator LivingSocial. Under the terms of the deal, all 570 Cumulus stations in 120 markets will be available on the iHeartRadio platform. Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman is quoted saying the deal provides “one more data point that proves radio is not a laggard, that we do see the future, and that we’re moving toward it in a smart and fast way.” SweetJack was created by Cumulus in April and has local market salespeople working in all 16 markets. Cumulus reports it has approximately 1 million users at this time. Clear Channel and Cumulus have a revenue-sharing deal for SweetJack. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says of the service, “SweetJack is our exciting new social commerce platform. It’s a break-through brand in a sea of sameness that’s fueled by the power of radio to connect local merchants with consumers. This agreement with Clear Channel enables us to scale SweetJack into a true nationwide platform which we believe is essential to competing successfully in this rapidly growing space.”
KGO, San Francisco Update: Peter Finch and Doug McIntyre in for Nights. In the wake of last week’s blockbuster news of the dismissal of four of its longtime talk hosts for a more news-intensive program schedule comes the news that former KFOG-FM, San Francisco morning host Peter Finch is the new 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm news anchor and Doug McIntyre’s “Red Eye Radio” is in for the 12:00 midnight to 4:00 am slot. McIntyre’s show is a Cumulus Media Networks production and costs the station nothing – in fact, it gives the company a nice San Francisco affiliate.
Kevin Straley Joins TuneIn as VP of Programming. The former XM Satellite Radio and WRKO, Boston programmer becomes vice president of programming for the free service that allows users to listen to music, sports and news from around the world. Kevin Straley – who most recently was founder and president of KMS Media Partners – will work with audio content distributors to optimize their digital strategies. TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “We’re thrilled to welcome Kevin Straley to the TuneIn executive team. His track record of building strategic relationships and working with audio partners in innovative ways will help us take the company to the next level.” TuneIn describes itself as a service that “offers over 50,000 AM, FM, HD and internet radio stations and more than one million on-demand shows and programs streaming from every continent. The company’s mobile applications are highly ranked worldwide. TuneIn is available in 10 languages across all major smart phones and tablets, connected home stereos, smart TVs, connected automobiles and online at tunein.com. Straley says, “Now, more than ever, audio content creators are looking for complimentary platforms to deliver their content to the growing audience that embraces digital…TuneIn is a powerful way to drive new listening and new opportunities for everyone.”
New Host for KLAC’s “Dodger Talk” Program Expected. The Los Angeles Daily News reports Josh Suchon and Joe Block will not be retained to host the “Dodger Talk” post-game show as the Dodgers transition to Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles this season. The Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth reports former big league manager Kevin Kennedy is likely to be the new host of the show for the 2012 season. Kennedy is a Fox Sports baseball analyst.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Launches “Holiday Giving Campaign.” The 60-year-old foundation that provides aid to broadcasters and their families in need, is kicking off its “Holiday Giving Campaign” encouraging donations and memberships at this time of year. BFoA chairman Phil Lombardo says, “The sole purpose of the Broadcasters Foundation is to provide financial relief to broadcasters in need. Through the generous support of individuals and corporations in our industry, we can maintain the ability to help colleagues whose lives have been devastated by unthinkable circumstances. I ask every broadcaster to consider making a donation or becoming a member.” This year the foundation will grant more than $675,000 in assistance – an increase of 35% over last year with more requests arriving daily. Current recipients include the family of a 20-year broadcast veteran who died of a sudden massive stroke, leaving two children and a wife who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis; an elderly couple who have outlived their savings and are saddled with enormous medical costs; and a man who in the prime of his life and at the peak of his career became paralyzed by a tragic accident that has left him confined to a wheel chair. To make a donation, please visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org, or call 212-373-8250.