Baltimore Protests Turn Violent. Owing to that fact, Hearst talker WBAL-AM, Baltimore advanced yesterday (Monday, 4/27) to “continuous coverage,” after a weekend of “extensive coverage.” According to WBAL-AM president and general manager Cary Pahigian, “We are sharing resources with our sister station, WBAL-TV (Channel 11), which is flying their helicopter almost nonstop. Our goal is to keep the community up-to-the-minute and to provide an opportunity to discuss and analyze the situation with WBAL-AM talk hosts in a responsible manner. It is very fluid, so we are staying nimble and flexible.” The unrest in the Maryland city increased following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died just over one week ago (4/19), after suffering spinal injuries while in police custody. At least one Baltimore building has been torched; several of the city’s police cars have been set on fire; and protesters have thrown bricks at Baltimore police officers. Six Baltimore police officers have been seriously injured in Monday’s violence. Maryland governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard, while Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake states every possible resource is being deployed to “gain control of this situation.”
WFAN Sports Giant Mike Francesa Is Extremely Bullish on Radio – Says the Medium Is Here to Stay on Michael Harrison’s “Up Close and Far Out” Podcast. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviews WFAN sports talk superstar Mike Francesa on this week’s installment of the international hit podcast series, “Up Close and Far Out.” In an exclusive 30-minute conversation, Harrison and Francesa cover a variety of fascinating topics including authenticity in broadcasting, internet critics, digital era audiences, radio versus television, changes in pop culture, the phenomenal growth of sports and the future of radio in a world of screens. Francesa credits the authenticity, for which Harrison praises him, in part, to being on the air an unusually long five-and-a-half hours per day, pointing out that you can’t be live on radio that long every day without being your real self. According to Francesa, one of the big changes faced by hosts in both sports and general talk programming today is the audience has as much, if not more, access to information as you do – which means merely presenting news is not enough. A host’s success is dependent on having an interesting “take” on the events of the day. He says the internet has made it much easier to break into broadcasting but much more difficult to get noticed. Of his critics, he states the worst thing that can happen is to be ignored. “If you are ignored, you are dead.” Francesa tells Harrison that he very seldom responds to his critics – refusing to give them the exposure of his larger platform that they seek. In addition to having a growing national following due to television and radio syndication, Mike Francesa has long been one of the highest profile media figures in New York and has been ranked by TALKERS magazine for the past two years in a row in the #1 spot on its “Heavy Hundred” of sports talk radio (“The 100 Most Important Radio Sports Talk Hosts in America”). After several years of being carried by the YES Network, Francesa’s daily local radio show is presently simulcast nationally on Fox Sports 1. In comparing radio to television, Francesa says, “Television is a director’s medium. Radio is a performer’s medium.” He explains, “Radio is unvarnished. It is visceral. It is emotional. Television is more packaged and homogenized.” Regarding the survival and future of radio, Francesa states, “Radio will be here long, long past us. People have been trying to kill radio since the first days of television. They’ve tried to kill radio 40 different times in multiple generations. They will never kill it because its appeal of being live, local, personal and mobile will never be equaled.” Francesa sees the rise of mobile digital media as actually being a good thing for radio, acknowledging that “radio will change.” He confidently says, “It will be enhanced because of the smart phone. It is the new transistor radio. Who carried a transistor radio for the past 30 years? Now everyone does. THAT is an opportunity!” In describing Mike Francesa, Michael Harrison states, “I know Francesa has his share of critics – but that comes with the territory of being ‘out there’ the way he is and being a compelling radio talk show host in the modern era, sports or otherwise. What makes him so successful is he has that special ‘something’ that only a handful of performers have ever had in this business – he rises above technique! All he needs to do is bring his authentic, unique personhood to the airwaves each time he’s on and that – at least to this point – is enough. He is one of my handful of all-time favorites and I am delighted that he is still going strong.” To listen to Mike Francesa on “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” please click here or click on the special player box in the right hand column of every page on Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports from Nepal for Westwood One. Internationally known medical doctor and media figure Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Nepal doing both media work and helping doctors there deal with the overwhelming number of casualties from Saturday’s earthquake. In addition to his work covering the aftermath for CNN, Dr. Gupta is also doing live hits for Westwood One affiliate stations. His “A Better Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta” is syndicated by Westwood One. Dr. Gupta was called into action in the operating room, asked to help perform brain surgery on a 15-year-old girl in Kathmandu after a wall of her family’s home fell on her as she collected water outside.
SiriusXM 2015 Q1 Revenue Up 8%. Satellite radio operator SiriusXM delivered its 2015 first quarter financial numbers today (4/28) and, compared to the same period a year ago, revenue was $1.08 billion – up 8%. Net income was $106 million, up 12% from $94 million in the first quarter of 2014. Net income per diluted common share was $0.02 in the first quarter of 2015 and 2014. Adjusted EBITDA was $399 million in the first quarter of 2015, up 19% from $335 million in the first quarter of 2014. The satcaster says that it added 431,000 net new subscribers in the first quarter, a 61% increase from the 267,000 net new subscribers added in the first quarter of 2014. Sirius CEO Jim Meyer says, “The year is off to a fantastic start at SiriusXM. We are increasing our subscriber guidance to approximately 1.4 million net additions and revenue guidance to approximately $4.47 billion after reporting our best first quarter for self-pay subscriber additions since 2008. Our results demonstrate that SiriusXM’s bundle of live news and sports, exclusive talk and comedy, and curated, commercial-free music is resonating with more and more consumers every day,”
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated, WABC, New York-based morning personality Don Imus announced to his listeners his simulcast on cable’s Fox Business Network will end on May 29. The program has been airing on both since 2009. Though Imus didn’t elaborate on the reason for the change, The New York Daily News reports Imus and wife Deirdre plan to spend the summer at their new ranch in Texas and that property has no TV uplink facilities. Read the Daily News story here…..Atlanta real estate broker Bryan Crabtree is adding a daily show on Salem Communications’ business talk WAFS, Atlanta “biz 1190,” debuting May 4 and airing from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Crabtree and his wife Mackenzie have been hosting the “Housedog.com Real Estate Show” on both WAFS and sister news/talk WGKA on weekends and that show will continue on both outlets. WAFS station manager Adam Wattenbarger says, “We are so excited to bring Bryan aboard to add to our live and local lineup. biz 1190 is committed to giving the Atlanta community something we’ve been lacking for years – real talk about real issues affecting our neighborhoods.”…..Sports talk personality Tim Brando is wrapping his daily, eponymous show heard on SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation channel. The final show is this Thursday. Brando will continue to be heard on the radio via FOX Sports Radio as he’ll handle play-by-play for college football and basketball as well as the network’s coverage of this June’s US Open golf tournament…..The program “Entertainment This Week” is joining the America’s Talk Radio Network effective May 3. “Mr. Hollywood” Shannon Rose and co-host James Lowe will discuss Hollywood gossip, comics, movies, television, pro-wrestling, and so much more during the “fastest hour on national radio.”
WTMJ, Milwaukee Helps Raise Funds for Accessible Playground Equipment. Last Saturday, Scripps-owned news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee unveiled new accessible playground equipment at a local elementary school for which the station helped raise funds. The need for the equipment came after the station learned of eight-year-old Ben Nelson who uses a wheelchair due to his Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Ben’s family began raising funds for the equipment and WTMJ joined forces with the family and was able to – through the help of listeners – raise $50,000. WTMJ Radio VP/GM Tom Langmyer says, “WTMJ firmly believes we do well by doing good. We serve Wisconsin – and we’re getting behind our air personalities by giving them a month where we use our resources to give back to our community. [Morning host] Jodi Becker is first on our team to lead in this new community betterment initiative. We are pleased to help – and we thank our listeners and great businesses for helping to build this wonderful playground.”
Limbaugh and Mahindra Partner on Tractor Giveaway. For the second year in a row, Rush Limbaugh and Mahindra USA have joined together to give away a Mahindra eMax 22HST with loader to an active duty service member or U.S. military veteran. The winner will be selected in a random drawing on May 26. Last year, more than 4,500 service men and women entered for an opportunity to win a Mahindra tractor. It was awarded to Lieutenant Colonel Mike Petzinger of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, who has served his country for 25 years in the Army.
Music and Pop Culture Figure Andrew W.K. to Host Weekly Show on TheBlaze Radio Network. New to the weekend lineup at Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Radio Network is the show “America W.K.,” hosted by musician, writer, TV host and lecturer Andrew W. K. TheBlaze Radio Network says the show will be a “raw and penetrating discussion of what it is to be alive – meaning, motivation, mindset, and making dreams come true, all included in a celebration of life itself – and all with a positive and honest outlook. Andrew will also field questions and input from the audience, adding an engaging interactive component.” Andrew W.K. is probably most known for his 2001 rock album titled, I Get Wet, the cover of which featured a photo of him with a bloody nose. During his musical career he’s penned a number of rock anthems that have appeared in video games, movies and as pro sports team themes. Andrew W.K. (pictured here at left with Glenn Beck at right) says, “When Glenn asked me to do my own radio show on TheBlaze, I was shocked but excited, as I knew he would allow me the unrestrained freedom to say exactly what I wanted. I’m very dedicated to exploring and learning from different people in different places, and always with an open heart. If people never went outside their own box, life would be boring. After all, why would I only want to talk with people who already think exactly like me?”
Baltimore Protests, White House Correspondents Dinner, Bush Criticism of Obama Foreign Policy, Nepal Earthquake Aftermath, SCOTUS Hears Same-Sex Marriage Argument, Clinton Foundation Scrutiny, James Holmes Trial Begins, and the Bruce Jenner Transgender Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/27). The intensifying, violent protests in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody; the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner and President Obama’s performance; former President George W. Bush comments on Obama Administration’s foreign policy; the devastation in Nepal after Saturday’s earthquake; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments as anti-gay marriage statutes in four states are challenged; ongoing scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation financial operations; the opening of the trial of Aurora, Colorado movie theater killer James Holmes; and the chatter about Bruce Jenner’s sex change procedure and his recent interview were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Salem Announces Corporate Structure Changes. With the retirement of Salem Radio Network president Greg Anderson at the end of this year, Salem Communications announces some corporate changes that begin with its consolidating the radio and network divisions into one. Dave Santrella moves from president of the Radio Division to president of Broadcast Media, adding to his radio division responsibilities the oversight of the Salem Radio Network, SMR/VMR Rep Firm, and a variety of digital assets. Phil Boyce, currently VP, director spoken word formats is promoted to SVP, Salem Radio Network and spoken word formats. In this new role, Boyce will be in charge of all program and revenue aspects of Salem’s news and news/talk networks including its five network talk hosts, the Janet Mefford show, and SRN News. Boyce will continue to work with other aspects of Salem’s spoken word formats, most notably as a program consultant for national ministries. Boyce will continue to oversee Salem’s New York operations as well. Santrella says of Boyce, “Phil has proven to be a tremendous and versatile leader. He’s been an enormous help to our national ministries and an invaluable consultant to our talk network. Putting Phil over our news and news talk network puts him in his sweet spot and I am thrilled to have him steering this important aspect of our broadcast business.” Other radio division changes include: Allen Power and Linnae Young taking on new roles as senior vice presidents dividing up the oversight of other operational vice presidents, as well as departmental managers in ministry relations, digital and business-formatted radio properties. Terry Fahy is promoted to an operational vice president role overseeing most of the company’s stations west of Phoenix. Other operational vice presidents including Brian Taylor, John Peroyea, David Ruleman and Mike Moran, all pick up additional station responsibilities. On the network side, Mike Reed and Mike Miller are promoted to senior vice presidents as well, with Reed taking on additional responsibilities in the Dallas office’s network operations and Miller expanding his role in the network’s music space.
iHeartMedia Tweaks Talk Programming on New KFXR, Dallas. The Dallas-market talk station KFXR is dropping the “DFW 1190” brand and is going with “Talk Radio 1190” as it moves away from the business talk and brokered programming to air other iHeartMedia content on the signal. So far, the new programming schedule will include the Russ Martin show from sister rocker KEGL “97.1 The Eagle” from 7:00 am to 11:00 am (a rerun of the previous afternoon’s program); KTRH, Houston-based Michael Berry for the 5:00 am hour and from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; and KPRC, Houston-based Matt Patrick from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Forrest Goodman Named Host at ‘Newstalk FM 98.9’ in Memphis. Well-known Memphis radio personality Forrest Goodman is the new morning drive co-host at Cumulus Media’s WKIM, Memphis “Newstalk FM 98.9.” Goodman is working alongside Steve Butler on the program. Goodman is working in his 16th season on the radio broadcasts of Memphis Tigers football and basketball play-by-play broadcasts. He has worked in the market as program director at crosstown WREC and was a talk host on the station, as well. Cumulus Media corporate program director, news talk Randall Bloomquist states, “Forrest Goodman is a gifted broadcaster and a fixture on the Memphis radio and sports scenes. Adding him to the ‘Newstalk FM 98.9’ roster is a real coup and bolsters the station’s position as the voice of Memphis.” Goodman adds, “I’m so pleased to be back on the air. This is my home and ‘Newstalk FM 98.9’ has great talent. I get a chance to work again with Ben Ferguson and Andrew Clarksenior, two guys I have worked with before who are real pros.”
Chase Named Ruby Radio’s VP/Programming. After a 22-year gig programming iHeartMedia’s Las Vegas adult contemporary KSNE “Sunny 106.5,” Tom Chase becomes Ruby Radio‘s vice president of programming. Ruby Radio president and chief executive officer Ken Sutherland comments, “We have worked together three times in the past and Tom Chase is an outstanding programmer. I have a very high regard for his skills – both as a solid strategic and operational program director – and as a strong department manager.” Chase remarks that he likes “the texture and presentation” of the Ruby-owned stations. “I grew up in a small community in Idaho, so I can relate to the size of these towns. Ruby Radio has found ways to make these stations sound like they are in much bigger markets, without sacrificing the ‘home town feel’ of community involvement that you need for success.” Chase will oversee Elko, Nevada hot AC KHIX “Mix 96.7”; KBGZ “Big Country 103.9”; and talk KZBI, as well as Winnemucca, Nevada hot AC KHYX “Mix 102.7” and K232BK “Big Country 94.3.” He begins his new duties next month.
Odds & Sods. A partnership between Tribune Media’s WGN, Chicago and the hyperlocal site DNAInfo.com means WGN listeners will hear the neighborhood news organization’s reports twice daily – during the 8:00 am hour and the 3:00 pm hour – delivered by DNAInfo’s Jon Hansen. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports WGN vice president of content and programming Todd Manley says, “I’m a huge fan of what they’re doing at DNAinfo, and I’m thrilled about our agreement.”…..With the departure of Howie Carr from WRKO to crosstown “WMEX 1510 Boston” after his contract expired last week, Entercom is filling the afternoon drive slot with talk radio pro Mike Siegel in the interim…..Julie Boruchov is promoted to vice president, sports sales and marketing, East Coast for Westwood One‘s network sales division. She has been serving as director, sports sales, East Coast.
‘Commercial Real Estate Show’ Expands to 40 Stations. The Atlanta-based “Commercial Real Estate Show” hosted by Michael Bull (pictured here) is now heard on 40 stations across the country. The program debuted on WAFS, Atlanta four years ago and has grown to its current affiliate roster. Bull says that the program “provides investors, and corporate and institutional investors, advisors and occupiers of commercial real estate, a source for valuable information and best practices. The forecasts, sector updates and market intelligence intrigue a vast audience of people looking for ideas, advice and fresh talk radio content.” A press statement from the program notes that “one of the factors adding listener interest is the relative ease someone can now invest in commercial real estate through crowd funding. For just over a year now, the Jobs Act has allowed sponsors of real estate investments to advertise for investors. Through a growing number of real estate crowd funding websites, accredited investors can easily invest small amounts of money in large commercial real estate deals.” The syndicated program is a weekly one-hour show.
Gordon Smith to Receive 2015 Golden Mike Award. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is announcing NAB president and CEO Gordon H. Smith will be honored with the 2015 Golden Mike Award at the organization’s black-tie fundraising gala at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on February 23. BFoA chairman Philip Lombardo says, “Gordon’s accomplishments for broadcasters are widely recognized across our profession. But perhaps many are not aware of Gordon’s tireless efforts on behalf of the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation to help our colleagues in need. Gordon’s influence has raised awareness of the Foundation’s charitable mission, and his commitment to helping those in our business who need it most has been admirable. We are honored to have Gordon on our Board and to recognize his dedication to our purpose with the 2015 Golden Mike Award.”
Like Mother, Like Daughter. The Los Angeles Times reports that Shout! Factory is releasing all 142 episodes of the original classic television sitcom “The Phil Silvers Show” (originally titled, “You’ll Never Get Rich,” and known to fans as “Sgt. Bilko”) on DVD. The series ran on the CBS Television Network between 1955 and 1959. The multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom, set at a fictional army post in Kansas, cast Silvers as Master Sgt. Ernie Bilko, who happened to be the post’s ace con man. Bilko’s love interest in the story (shown in the photo at left with Silvers) is a character named Sgt. Joan Hogan portrayed by the beautiful actress Elisabeth Fraser. If the late female star looks somewhat familiar to those of you who follow talk radio it is because her daughter Meg McDonald (right) of the syndicated GCN talk show team Brent & Meg is clearly a chip off the old block. Brent & Meg air daily between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm ET and were recently cleared at Townsquare Media’s WPGG, Atlantic City.
The Infinite Dial 2014. Media consultant and TALKERS contributor Holland Cooke sat in on yesterday’s annual webinar presented by Edison Research and Triton Digital that detailed the results of the 2014 version of the Infinite Dial study. Many results are not surprising: smartphone use is growing rapidly with 61% of Americans owning cell phones – a 500% increase in five years. Although the “digital dashboard” – newer model cars with in-dash infotainment systems – gets a lot of press coverage as new deals are struck between app-makers, service providers and car manufacturers, as of today the smartphone is more important. The study reports 43% of persons 12-24 listen with a smartphone while in the car and 27% of persons 25-54 do the same. Still, AM/FM owns the auto for now and is still the primary source for discovering new music. Read more results from the study and Holland Cooke’s analysis here.
Dana Barrett to Host New Local Show on ‘biz 1190’ in Atlanta. On Salem Communications’ business talk WAFS, Atlanta “biz 1190,” local media personality Dana Barrett debuts a new program dedicated to “a unique look into ‘the business of everyday life’” debuting on Monday, March 10. Barrett states, “Atlanta is such a dynamic business market with an incredible diversity of industries. Healthcare, real estate, entertainment, retail…you name it, we do it here. I want to celebrate and embrace that diversity by talking to the business leaders and entrepreneurs that make our region go.” The daily show will air from 9:00 am to 10:00 am with a repeat from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Program director Aaron Williams adds, “It’s the perfect match for us. As the market’s only station dedicated to business, we couldn’t be happier to bring Dana’s unique knowledge of the metro Atlanta area to our audience.”
Mike Bower Exits ’97.9 ESPN Hartford.’ The afternoon drive program hosted by Mike Bower at Clear Channel’s Hartford sports talk outlet WUCS “97.9 ESPN Hartford” is cancelled and the station is actively seeking a new personality for the daypart. In a message posted on his Facebook page, Bower announces, “Unfortunately The Bower Show’s time on ‘97.9 ESPN’ in Hartford and ‘ESPN Radio 1300’ in New Haven has come to an end. Clear Channel opted to not renew the show but we would like to thank them for giving us the opportunity to talk sports with you every day for the past two years. More importantly, we would like to thank all of YOU…our listeners, for your continued support of The Bower Show.” The Bower Show was the only local daily show on the program schedule.
Rosenthal Promoted at Katz Media Group. With this promotion, Mark Rosenthal – currently CEO of Katz Radio Group – adds the title CEO of Katz Media Group in which he will also oversee Katz Television Group, KMG’s television representation company. The company says that as CEO of Katz Radio Group, Rosenthal will remain focused on building the radio sector, working closely with Katz Radio Group president Mark Gray to drive additional media dollars into radio. Effective immediately though, he will now also work closely with KTG presidents Leo MacCourtney and Craig Broitman to grow and further develop KTG’s assets, advocacy and revenue-generating efforts.
Salem Study: Christian Teaching Listeners Younger Than Perceived. The results of a study by Nielsen Audio commissioned by Salem Communications looking at the make-up of the audience for Christian teaching and talk-formatted radio shows indicates the audience is younger than may be commonly perceived. Half of the listeners to the format are under 55 and are spending 6.1 hours per week listening to stations airing the format. The study also indicates younger listenership is growing. Salem VP, director of spoken word format Phil Boyce states, “There is this perception that these are your father or even grandfathers radio stations, but we found there is a significant pool of younger listeners spending a great deal of time with our CTT format.”
Geoff Edwards Passes. No sooner had we reflected on the life and career of Los Angeles and Bay Area radio personality/television game show host Jim Lange (who succumbed to a heart attack last week) than we must now sadly note the passing of Geoff Edwards. Much like the 81-year-old Lange, Edwards, 83, amassed considerable fame from his Los Angeles radio days and nationally through several game show-hosting stints. Edwards died yesterday (3/5) of complications of pneumonia at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. Wink Martindale, Lange, and Edwards toiled together in Los Angeles at the once iconic KMPC. “Geoff was one of the cleverest, funniest radio and television personalities I have worked with,” Martindale states of Westfield, New Jersey native Edwards, who was heard on KMPC from 1968 – 1979. He was also on-air in Los Angeles at KHJ (1964 -1965) and two go-rounds at KFI (1966 – 1968 and 1987 – 1989). According to Edwards’ agent of many years, Fred Westbrook, Edwards succeeded in television by making several bold fashion statements. He favored jeans over suits and his hair was longer than that of most other talents at the time. “He was part of the new breed,” Westbrook comments. Tributes on Facebook regarding Edwards’ death included this observation from renowned voiceover talent/studio audience warm-up announcer/”Price is Right” announcer Randy West. “Geoff was a wonderfully kind and joyous guy, very bright, with a great natural talent for creating joy, both over the air and in person. For me, it was more laughs per hour with Geoff than anyone else since high school. What a pro, what a sweet man, what a character, what a ball. He was loved and respected by everybody. We laughed and giggled every time we were together.” Sonoma Music Group president Michael O’Shea checked in by remarking, “What a shock. Geoff was our 9:00 am – 12:00 noon personality at KMPC. Personable, authentic, real and natural. We played tennis a time or two. This is very sad.” Longtime KOST, Los Angeles on-air personality Ted Ziegenbusch notes that Edwards was, “One of my favorite lunchroom pals. Thanks for the laughter, the stories and the fun. I know you have always enjoyed travel. This journey is the best one ever.” Veteran Los Angeles traffic reporter Mike Nolan comments that he was, “a fan for years, then honored to work with him at KFI, so happy to have called him a friend.” Fellow television game show host Jim MacKrell remarks, “I am deeply saddened by the news of Geoff’s passing. I know of no one in our business with a better reputation and a multitude of friends. I am glad I was one of them.” Edwards’ national television resume includes hosting “Jackpot!”, “Chain Reaction,” “Play the Percentages,” “Treasure Hunt” and “The New Treasure Hunt.” In Los Angeles, he and Meredith MacRae won Emmy Awards for co-hosting the daily “Mid-Morning L.A.” For nine years (1986 – 1995), he co-hosted the California Lottery‘s “Big Spin.” An eyewitness to one of America’s most memorable moments, then-news reporter Edwards was in the basement of the Dallas Police Department on November 24, 1963 when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Funeral plans are pending for Edwards, who is survived by his wife, two stepsons, his ex-wife and their three children, as well as nine grandchildren.
Obama vs. Putin/Ukraine-Crimea Intrigue, ObamaCare Criticism, IRS Scandal, Obama Approval Ratings Sink, and 2016 Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/5). The political storm in Ukraine and Crimea and how President Obama is handling Vladimir Putin’s moving Russian troops into the region; scrutiny of the Affordable Care Act as the administration announces current health plans can be kept through 2016; Lois Lerner’s refusal to testify in new hearings looking into the IRS scandal; dipping approval ratings for President Obama; and speculation about candidates for president in the 2016 election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Hires Bruce Gilbert for New Sports SVP Post. Most recently, Bruce Gilbert has been the vice president of news, talk and sports programming at CBS Radio Dallas where he’s been in charge of KRLD-FM “105.3 The Fan,” KRLD-AM “Newsradio 1080,” and the Texas State Network. Now he joins Clear Channel Media and Entertainment for the newly created position of senior vice president of sports operations. CC says Gilbert will be “responsible for the creation, development and direction of sports programming at CCM+E, including Premiere Networks and the Fox Sports Radio Network. He will also work with the National Programming Platforms team to expand sports branding across the company’s multiple platforms.” Prior to CBS, Gilbert headed up Washington, D.C.-based Red Zebra Broadcasting as CEO, where he grew the company from three to 13 stations. Gilbert also held the role of VP/general manager for the ESPN Radio Network, where he led programming, affiliations and sales for the network, and worked with owned-and-operated ESPN stations. Premiere Networks EVP of news, talk and sports programming Carl Anderson states, “We are ecstatic to have one of the nation’s leading sports executives join our company. Bruce has an amazing track record and unmatched dedication to building winning teams. His credibility in the sports arena brings a wealth of expertise, knowledge and leadership to CCM+E.” Some industry observers have noted Clear Channel has been lagging behind other major companies – especially CBS Radio and Entercom – in developing sports talk stations. The arrival of Gilbert could signal a change and the company may begin to consider operating more sports talk stations.
Fox News Channel’s “The Five” Soaring in Ratings. The 5:00 pm ET program “The Five” on Fox News Channel – co-hosted by Andrea Tantaros – has been climbing steadily in the ratings. Last Friday, for example, the program logged more than 2 million viewers (Persons 2-plus), 339,000 viewers (Persons 25-54) and 807,000 (Persons 35-64), easily doubling its closest competitors on the other cable news/talk channels. Andrea Tantaros is also host of her own talk radio program on Talk Radio Network (airing live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon) alongside best-selling author Jason Mattera. TRN CEO Mark Masters says he believes she’s the only female broadcaster to star in a weekday TV program and host a nationally syndicated talk radio program. “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.”
Bob Moore Joins Sports USA Media. He’ll assume the title of president of Sports USA Media in his role with the independent sports play-by-play content syndicator. Sports USA Media founder and CEO Larry Kahn says of him, “I’ve known Bob Moore for over 30 years. His experience in working with play-by-play sports rights and creating programming around them is a perfect fit for us. Bob has worked with multiple teams, including the L.A. Dodgers, the L.A. Kings, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Anaheim Ducks, the Oakland Raiders, the USC Trojans, the New York Giants, and the Brooklyn Nets. Bob’s knowledge and background will be key factors in the continued growth of Sports USA Media.” Moore states, “I have long admired Larry for building the largest independent play-by-play sports network and am eagerly looking forward to helping him expand his play-by-play business and making a major statement in the digital space. We all know the demand for live sports is growing for both the audience and the radio stations. We will be announcing several major expansions for Sports USA Media over the next several months. If NBC, CBS and ABC can dedicate 24-hour sports television and radio networks, I think we can say the space is secure.”
Talk Host Doc Thompson Joins TheBlaze Radio Network. Talk radio pro Doc Thompson – recently heard on stations including WLW, Cincinnati and WRVA, Richmond – becomes part of the lineup at Glenn Beck’s online TheBlaze Radio Network hosting the morning drive program. Program director Dom Theodore says of Thompson, “Doc Thompson has an amazing track record of success at some of America’s biggest talk stations, in addition to his many years of guest hosting for Glenn Beck. His humorous style and unique approach make him the perfect choice for mornings on TheBlaze Radio Network.” Also from TheBlaze, Chris Peterson signs on with the network to serve as assistant program director. Peterson has served with Premiere Networks for the past five years.
Martha Zoller Back on the Radio. After a run for Congress in Georgia that took her off the radio for the better part of 2012, talk host Martha Zoller returned to the air this week on Cox Media’s WGAU, Athens, Georgia alongside co-host Tim Bryant for the Zoller & Bryant morning drive program. Prior to her run for office, Zoller was heard on Cox Media’s WXKT. At the time the station was a talk and sports hybrid but has since flipped to a classic hits format.
Entercom’s Sports Talk WSSP, Milwaukee Drops Fox for CBS. The change will take place on Friday, January 11. Entercom’s Milwaukee sports talk outlet WSSP “SportsRadio 1250” ends its affiliate relationship with Fox Sports Radio Network to begin airing the new CBS Sports Radio Network. WSSP airs local programming during much of the day but will use CBS for the evening, late night, overnight and weekend dayparts.
Odds & Sods. Michael Bull’s Atlanta-based “Commercial Real Estate Show” goes into national syndication via the Wall Street Business Network. The program was founded in 2010 by commercial real estate broker Michael Bull on WAFS, Atlanta in 2010 to examine national commercial real estate and business issues and feature high-caliber guests from around the country, including well-known analysts, accountants, brokers, lenders, developers, attorneys and architects. About the expansion, Bull states, “I’ve been delighted at the impact the show has had in just two years, and I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to continue to extend its reach. We can tell by the location of podcast downloads that the content is relevant to audiences across the globe. As we continue to add stations, the show’s comprehensive analysis and enlightening conversations will reach a much larger audience.”…..Dial Global nationally syndicated late night and early morning talk host Jim Bohannon will be one of six Inauguration Parade announcers who’ll be stationed along Pennsylvania Avenue on January 21 addressing the crowd. Bohannon says, “This is quite an honor, and I’m eager to do it again. I also announced the Carter parade in 1977, so I seem to do this every 36 years. Guess I’d better enjoy it since I’m not sure how many 36 year increments I have left. It should be fun announcing, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Southeast A&P Remedial High Marching 37, as they form a giant grid…and a giant lock…in honor of this year’s inaugural theme!’ (applause).”
Dr. Alan Pressman Moves to WOR, New York. After 11 years on Access.1’s WWRL, New York, Dr. Alan Pressman takes his “Health Radio News” program to Clear Channel’s WOR, New York for a Sunday 8:00 am ET airing. He says the show will be a live, caller-driven program. Dr. Pressman states, “There are so many breaking stories about health and nutrition; stories the general public does not have easy access to. We’ll be discussing issues in the news from around the world. It’s really hard-hitting information.”
Gun Control Legislation, RGIII Controversy, Looming Additional Tax Battles, Obama Cabinet Nominations, and Flu Epidemic Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/8). Gun legislation proposals; the controversy over Robert Griffin III’s playing time in the Redskins’ loss to Seattle; future tax hike debates in Washington; President Obama’s cabinet nominations and the flu epidemic that has hospitals overwhelmed were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.