WTOP, Washington Names McMearty Program Director. Three months after former programmer Laurie Cantillo and Hubbard Radio parted ways, the company names 23-year staffer Mike McMearty program director for the multi-platform news operation. McMearty moves up from his news director post to the new position of director of news and programming. Hubbard Washington SVP/GM Joel Oxley comments, “Mike has been an integral part of our success for more than two decades. He has led the newsroom to hundreds of industry awards for excellence in journalism, including 18 National Murrow Awards and more than two dozen honors already in 2015. I look forward to him taking the department to new heights.” The station reports that Jim Battagliese continues his role as director of traffic, transit and weather. Mitchell Miller is promoted to senior news director managing the newsroom weekday mornings, Darci Marchese moves up to a full-time news director weekday afternoons, and Jamie Forzato now will manage news operations on the weekends as weekend managing editor. Meera Pal moves to social and digital engagement director reporting to Julia Ziegler, who moves from web and operations manager of FederalNewsRadio.com to become the news director of WTOP.com. All of the changes will take place over the next several weeks.
Talkers New York 2015 Videos Begin Being Posted Today (6/22). Starting today with WFAN, New York superstar Mike Francesa’s opening “Keynote Greeting,” TALKERS will be posting videos of each of the sessions that made Talkers New York 2015’s agenda one of the most successful in the convention’s 18-year history. A session will be added each business day for the next nine days in a row, in the order that they took place at the event, until the entire agenda, video-recorded by Art Vuolo, is posted in a special Talkers TV feature sponsored by independent station owner, Michael Zwerling’s KSCO, Santa Cruz. The entire feature will remain posted for the rest of 2015. To see the opening session with Mike Francesa, please click here. Tomorrow: “The State of Radio Ratings” panel moderated by Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel icon Sean Hannity.
Mike Francesa Opens Talkers New York 2015 on Upbeat Note – See Video Today! In a video posted today (6/22), legendary WFAN afternoon drive personality Mike Francesa sets the tone for what proved to be a realistic, but highly optimistic and solutions-oriented, agenda at the recent industry mega-conference, Talkers New York 2015 (6/12). The tell-it-like-it-is broadcaster – who has been ranked at #1 on the TALKERS “Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Radio” for the past two consecutive years – blasted the pessimism that he says permeates the radio industry and offered his assessment of the tremendous opportunities available to radio in the digital era. Francesa drew applause form the packed house stating, “It’s amazing the amount of negativity that exists no matter what part of the business you’re in… I’m here to tell you that even though I am a little closer to the finish [of my career] than I am to the start, back [in 1987] when I was pounding on the door at WFAN with Jeff Smulyan – it took me 18 interviews to get hired, folks — I would be as bullish on radio and as gung ho about getting a career and feeding my family on radio NOW… as I was back then.” Francesa discusses the multi-platform nature of programming content today and the need/opportunity to monetize every element of it. He praises the spread of smartphones as being equivalent to a theoretical resurgence of the old transistor radio and thus providing radio with universal portability… something it hasn’t enjoyed in decades. He discusses the importance of branding in today’s media environment and vehemently champions the importance of “live and local” being the key to radio’s survival and purpose in the coming era. To see Francesa’s entire speech, please click here.
Westwood One Names Ron Russo EVP Northeast Sales. Radio sales pro Ron Russo is named EVP, Northeast Region for Westwood One’s network sales division. In this position, Russo will “manage and oversee the New York sales office and be responsible for revenue growth and multi-platform brand integrations across all Westwood One assets, including network sales, spot sales, platform, digital, and events.” Russo will report to Westwood One president Steve Shaw. In a statement from WW1, the company notes that Russo comes to them from iHeartMedia where he was general sales manager for the NYC station group. “In addition to building and overseeing the sales teams, he was instrumental in managing the transition when iHeart purchased WOR-AM from Buckley Broadcasting. He also played an important role in securing the station’s radio rights to the NY Mets.” He worked for CBS RADIO at hot AC WWFS, “Fresh 102.7” before joining iHeartMedia. Russo says, “I am really looking forward to working with this great team of sellers and collaborating throughout the organization as we look for innovative ways to drive and accelerate results for our clients.”
Rob Ellis Lands at WPEN, Philadelphia. Former WIP-FM, Philadelphia personality Rob Ellis debuts on crosstown Greater Media’s WPEN, Philadelphia, partnered up with Harry Mayes. Ellis exited CBS RADIO’s WIP in March after failing to come to terms on a contract renewal with the station. Ellis, who also hosts “Breakfast on Broad” on cable’s Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, takes over as co-host of the midday show for Eytan Shander, who remains with the company. Former WIP personality Anthony Gargano also joined WPEN late last year as morning drive personality.
Odds & Sods. Both FOX Sports and ESPN are reporting that former San Diego Chargers player and longtime radio play-by-play analyst Hank Bauer has been let go from the radio broadcast team. Bauer served a one-game suspension last season – missing the final preseason game – after he used a Jewish slur during the third preseason game. He later apologized…..Westwood One presents coverage of the NCAA Division I Men’s College World Series Finals beginning this evening from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Nebraska. The best-of-three championship series between Vanderbilt and Virginia is being covered by (pictured here in front of the famous Road to Omaha statue standing from left to right) Ted Emrich, Scott Graham, and Kevin Kugler.
Dr. Joy Browne Tours Israel as Guest of Prime Minister – Meets with Victims of Terror. Nationally-syndicated (GCN) talk show host and clinical psychologist, Dr. Joy Browne returns to New York today (6/22) after an intense week-long tour of Israel on a fact-finding/counseling mission that brought her into one-on-one encounters with Israeli victims of terror. Browne (right) is pictured meeting with Israeli citizens at the Jerusalem headquarters of the OneFamily organization during what has been her first visit to the Middle East democracy this week. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, during the emotionally charged encounter, which was hosted by OneFamily CEO Chantal Belzberg, Browne met with former residents of the US, Canada, and the UK who were physically and emotionally scarred in terrorist attacks across Israel during the past few years. “I am delighted and honored to be here,” Browne tells the Post. “After experiencing the aftermath of 9/11, we all share a common echo and I am impressed with the resilience of the people here who have worked or who are working to transcend fear and are getting on with their lives.” The perennially popular radio personality, in addition to interviewing and counselling victims, also interviewed the organization’s various psychologists and therapists for a future segment on her widely heard program. Browne’s trip to Israel was sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister and America’s Voices in Israel. (Photo courtesy of the Jerusalem Post and Sarah Levin.)
FOX News Commentators Ellen Ratner and Jim Pinkerton Honored by Grenada’s St. George’s University. Media personalities Ellen Ratner and Jim Pinkerton were recognized with honorary doctorates from St. George’s University in Grenada for their charitable works. Pinkerton and Ratner – who work together as conservative and liberal commentators, respectively, on FOX News Channel’s “FOX & Friends Weekend” on the “Long and Short of It” segment – are known for separate charitable efforts. Pinkerton has been working with the school assisting with its cure strategy for diseases. Ratner has been working for years to provide some of the basic tools for subsistence farming to people in South Sudan. Ratner (third from left) and Pinkerton (fourth from left) are seen here receiving their honorary degrees.
Dallas Newsman Bob Morrison Dies. Former KRLD-AM and WBAP-AM, Dallas newsman Bob Morrison died yesterday (6/21) after a long illness. Salem Radio Network VP, News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “When I served its VP/general manager, I hired Bob as news director of the USA Radio Network in 1999, and he brought a professional demeanor to reorganizing USA that was nothing short of amazing. His planning and execution of the national political conventions in 2000 remains a highlight, and nurturing his strong delivery and solid journalistic skills will always remain a highlight of my career.”
Clear Channel Highlights Artist Promotion Deals at Investor Conference Call; Radio Down 2% in Q1. At the top of the conference call for investors for Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings (the publicly traded arm Clear Channel Media Holdings) chief financial officer and EVP Thomas Casey made it a point to shine a light on Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s work with high-profile artists. He said, “I want to highlight with you one recent example of the opportunity Clear Channel is leveraging to monetize our multi-platform reach, and it’s the launch of the new Justin Timberlake album, ‘The 20/20 Experience.’ I’m using this as an example because it shows how we are constantly working with major advertisers to adjust their specific marketing challenges by developing innovative new products, services, content and events that bring new advertising dollars into the company. Two months ago, Clear Channel utilized most of our key assets: radio, online, mobile, outdoor, entertainment, events, contests and talent relationships, in an innovative and coordinated partnership with national retailer Target to launch Justin Timberlake’s new album. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment ran a first-of-its-kind, two-minute live road block across 800 stations, in essence, a virtual press conference, simulcast across all the stations at the same time that enabled Justin to both introduce his new album and kick off the exclusive ‘iHeart Album Release Party with Justin Timberlake.’” Casey stated there are many other examples of CC using its many platforms to create coordinated campaigns for advertisers. As for the numbers, Casey reported that CC Media Holdings was down 0.5% compared to the same quarter in 2012 and the Media and Entertainment division revenue was down 2%. But he said solid growth in radio and digital was offset by the traffic business that company is continuing to integrate. Addressing the radio division, Casey reported, “For the quarter, national sales for our stations were up 2%, outpacing global. Excluding the impact of political advertising, national sales were up 4%, and local was about up approximately 1%. Our fastest growing larger advertising categories were financial services, retail and telecom. We also saw a strong lift in digital revenue, with our iHeartRadio listening hours growing 31% over the first quarter of 2012. Although today digital listening for the industry represents only 7.6% of all audio listening, we are excited about the growth of iHeart and its new features, content and other innovations.” Speaking to a question about network radio, Casey alluded to Premiere Networks having had a soft start to 2013 and said “that has modulated back” and the company feels good about that aspect of the business. Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the call transcript. See the whole call here.
Journal Communications Q1: Radio Up 6.7%. The radio division of Journal Communications’ Journal Broadcast Group reported an increase of 6.7% on revenue of $15.9 million. The company reports that is 2.8% on a same-station basis. The numbers break down this way: Local advertising revenue, excluding political, increased 7.2%, or 3.3% on a same-station basis, primarily due to an increase in retail advertising; National advertising revenue, excluding political, increased 2.1%, but decreased 1.3% on a same-station basis, primarily due to a decrease in communications advertising; Operating earnings from radio stations were $2.4 million compared to $2.9 million, a decrease of 15.3%; Radio operating expenses increased 11.9%, or 8.1% on a same-station basis, primarily due to employee-related expense increases and a non-cash building impairment charge of $0.2 million.
Talk Radio Day at the United Nations Set for Friday, June 7. After a one-year hiatus, TALKERS magazine announces the revival of its annual international initiative, “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations.” Presented in conjunction with Talk Radio News Service and in association with the United Nations Foundation, the event consists of a massive radio row held in the heart of the United Nations’ iconic headquarters on the East Side of Manhattan. Approximately 20 talk show hosts and programs from around the country are given the opportunity to do live shows or simply record interviews on the scene for later playback with a wide variety of special guests, including UN officials, foreign ambassadors, international policy experts and representatives of the arts and sciences from around the world. “This is one of our most prideful annual events,” states TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “and I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to bring it back after a year off in 2012.” Harrison says, “It accomplishes a number of important things – most notably, it gives a variety of talk show hosts and millions of their listeners in every corner of the country the opportunity to shift gears and discuss international news stories of significant consequence that rarely, if ever, are covered or discussed in the mainstream American media. Some of these stories have enormous implications on war, peace, life and death.” Harrison also points out, “Hosts of just about every political and ideological persuasion have raved about this event over the many years we have been doing it saying that it has proven to be a personally rewarding experience for them as much as it has provided a spectacular bit of special programming to their stations and networks.” Talk Radio Day at the United Nations conveniently takes place the day after Talkers New York 2013 when many talk show hosts are already in New York City. Hosts already on board include Alan Colmes of Fox News Radio, Michael Berry of Clear Channel, Doug Stephan of the “Good Day” show, Martha Zoller of WGAU, Athens, GA, Ethan Bearman of GCN and KSCO, Santa Cruz, Carole Marks of “A Touch of Grey” and more. All equipment and broadcast setups are provided at no cost for the convenience of the participants — but placement is limited and this will fill up rapidly, so interested hosts should call 413-565-5413 quickly to inquire about signing up.
“The Hartmann and Humphries Show” Brings Two Different Hosts, Ideologies and Programs Together for Rare Simulcast. It was one of those spontaneous one-time events that really clicked as TRN syndicated host Rusty Humphries (left) stopped by WYD Media syndicated host Thom Hartmann‘s Washington, DC studio (Hartmann at right) during a recent visit to the nation’s capital and the two personalities did a simulcast of their individual shows which ran on both of their collective affiliates. The Heavy Hundred performers engaged in refreshingly civil but spirited banter bringing their opposite points of view on a number of hot issues to the table. Both hosts tell TALKERS that they enjoyed the experience and received very positive feedback from their respective audiences which encourages them to do it again sometime down the road. In the photo at top left shows the two shots of each host the producer sees in the booth with background images in place. The lower picture shows Humphries and Hartmann chatting in the studio in front of the green screen.
KTRS, St. Louis Morning Drive Show Gets Video Accolades. The McGraw Milhaven morning show on CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis has been producing an online video component of its program for two months and the show has already surpassed the one million viewer minutes mark, according to the station. The station has a full-time video director in Andrew Dowd and he utilizes four HD cameras as well as pictures, graphics, video and sports highlights to help tell the story each morning. Also, guests can “skype” into the show and bring the listener moving pictures to go along with their spoken words. The video segments of Milhaven’s radio show are then re-tweeted and shared through social media. Milhaven tells TALKERS that even St. Louis Post-Dispatch TV critic Gail Pennington gives the video a thumbs up. “It’s the best internet TV I’ve ever seen. It’s so clear, and the video and graphics are amazing.” Milhaven himself tells TALKERS, “We had a feeling people were going to enjoy the enhanced TV side of the broadcast, but we had no idea so many people would embrace it. The time spent listening, or watching I should say, is off the charts. One million viewer minutes in just over two months? Wow, we wanted to let it grow naturally as we worked out all the kinks, but these numbers are better than we had ever expected. All these people watching and we have just scratched the surface of what we can do with the TV side.” In the image you see here is sports reporter Jason Lamar (left) interacting with Milhaven (right).
WEEI-FM, Boston Brings J.T. the Brick Back to Overnights. The Fox Sports Radio Network star has aired on Entercom’s WEEI in the past and, as vice president of programming Jason Wolfe states, with much success. “Even though he’s a diehard Yankees fan, J.T.’s show has always been extremely popular here in Boston. The show was a winner for us when we aired it years ago, and I’m very pleased to be able to bring him back now. Adding J.T.’s show provides a great balance to our overnight portfolio as we already air a very solid program in ESPN Radio’s SportsCenter Tonight on 850 AM.”
Odds & Sods. Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory takes over the 12:00 midnight to 4:00 am slot at Emmis’ KFTK, St. Louis beginning Monday, May 6…..Entercom is making sports talk WMC-AM, Memphis a CBS Sports Radio Network affiliate beginning next week. The station will carry the network lineup plus local and regional play-by-play. Entercom also operates ESPN Radio affiliate WMFS-AM/FM in the market…..WEPN-FM, New York “ESPN New York 98.7” adds Mike Westhoff and Ray Lucas to the pre-game show for New York Jets broadcasts this fall. The duo will make regular appearances on WEPN-FM during the season and former Jet Lucas will also continue his role on the post-game show…..Morris Communications’ KHAR, Anchorage flips from adult standards to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network programming.
WRKO’s Howie Carr Promotes New Gangster Book. WRKO, Boston afternoon drive host (and longtime Boston Herald columnist) Howie Carr is pictured here with listener Lori Vozzella and her daughter at Thursday’s remote broadcast from La Verdad Mexican Restaurant in the city’s Fenway neighborhood. Carr did his show live from the restaurant to promote his latest book on an infamous Boston crime figure – Steven “Rifleman” Flemmi. Carr’s book, Rifleman (Frandel LLC 2013) details the grisly career of the notorious mobster. Carr has also written books about brothers Billy and Whitey Bulger and Johnny Martorano.
FEMA and Premiere Networks Cooperate on EAS Service. Radio syndicator Premiere Networks and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are announcing a cooperative effort to provide an alternative method for radio stations to receive emergency information during a national emergency. FEMA has added Premiere Networks as a Primary Entry Point station, which delivers information and instructions to the public in an emergency when there is no commercial power. As part of the cooperative effort, Premiere, would use its satellite program receivers in thousands of affiliate radio stations across the country as another tool for delivering national Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages. The radio affiliates would in turn broadcast the emergency messages to the public within its network. FEMA’s Damon Penn states, “This cooperative effort between FEMA and Premiere Networks is one of the latest initiatives to engage the private sector’s cooperation in raising community preparedness across the nation. We count on the broadcasting industry to alert and warn the public through the standard broadcast Emergency Alert System (EAS) including AM, FM, and satellite radio, as well as broadcast, cable and satellite TV, if a national emergency occurs.”
Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath Remains Top Talk Radio Story for Week of April 29 – May 3. The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, spurred by the arrests of several of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends and the ongoing investigation into the planning and execution of the attack, was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was immigration legislation. Coming in at #3 was the Benghazi attack investigation followed by Syria tensions at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. View this week’s entire chart here.