Tag: "WBGG"

Friday, November 2, 2012

| November 2, 2012

The Week of Sandy for Broadcasters in the Northeast; Broadcasters Associations Tout Virtues of Local Radio and TV.  Natural disasters bring the importance of radio to the fore and Hurricane Sandy was no different.  Even as we write this, broadcasters in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are – days after the storm – struggling with ongoing issues of lack of electricity, fuel shortages, staff with homes damages and destroyed, and more.  In fact, contacting broadcasters in the affected areas to report how they are getting by is a challenge since all of their resources – such as they are – are being used to perform the function of emergency broadcasting.  However the degree to which the storm affected the hub of media in this country – New York City — threw another wrench into the works.  Even though radio stations were able to get information out one way or another – for example, all-news WINS using sister station WXRK’s signal when its transmitter went down – broadcasting companies were hampered by the lack of electricity and the business end of operating a station or network remained, and in some cases remains, challenging.  New Jersey Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Paul Rotella is using the disaster to raise the FM chips in cell phones issue.  “This deadly disaster points out the absolute necessity of having FM chips in cell phones activated, which would turn every cell phone into an emergency ‘transistor’ radio. (Many cell phones already have FM chips either installed or easily implanted and activated.) I understand that cell phone carriers want to make money off of consumers with streaming rate plans, etc., but maybe they could light the FM chip up in times of emergency so that more people can receive emergency information that only our local broadcasters are capable of transmitting to everyone. It’s worth exploring.”  New York State Broadcasters Association president David L. Donovan notes in a press release touting the value of over-the-air broadcasting that 25% of cell towers in 10 states were affected by the storm, relegating the public to using battery-powered radios and TVs to get news and information.  (The flood image is courtesy of Cox Media Group Connecticut from a video of the group’s coverage of the storm and its aftermath.  See the entire video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix9PvdYKvkc)

CBS Radio Names Ryan Maguire KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh PD.  Rising sports programming star Ryan Maguire has been tabbed by CBS Radio to handle the PD position at Pittsburgh sports talk outlet KDKA-FM “SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan.”  Maguire fills the shoes left by Terry Foxx who moved to Atlanta to program CBS Radio’s new FM sports talk outlet WZGC “92.9 The Game.”  Maguire currently serves as PD for Entercom’s KCSP, Kansas City “610 Sports Radio.”  Prior to that he programmed Entercom’s WSSP, Milwaukee “Sports Radio 1250” and Cumulus Media’s WTKA, Ann Arbor “The Ticket 1050.”  CBS Radio SVP and market manager Michael Young states, “Ryan has a very impressive track record in programming sports radio stations.  He has produced strong ratings and successfully developed a number of dynamic on-air sports personalities.  Furthermore, Ryan has an uncompromising passion for sports and his leadership will well serve Pittsburgh sports fans.”  On his new gig, Maguire says, “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity and privilege to be a part of ‘Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan’ in Pittsburgh.  Western Pennsylvania is home to some of the most loyal and passionate fans in the country and I’m looking forward to seeing KDKA-FM continue to be a big part of their sports experience.”

Media Broker Says Opportunity is Knocking Right Now for First-Time Station Buyers.  Sandi Bergman, whom TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison describes as “a dynamic rising star among today’s crop of media brokers,” has positive news for the many recently laid-off radio management figures looking to apply their seasoned skills in a new and productive direction in the industry.  They should consider radio station ownership!  Although it is a tough sales-driven business and there are daunting obstacles to obtaining financing, ownership is not just for the mega-corporations who are burdened with seemingly insurmountable debt. It is indeed possible that many of them will be spinning off unwieldy properties in the months and years ahead creating new opportunities for fresh blood in the business.  According to Bergman, who owns the innovative website www.RadioTVDeals.com and a New Mexico-based brokerage firm (MyMediaBroker.com) and is one of the relatively few major female brokers in the game, there are many incredible opportunities for first-time buyers.  Read the entire TALKERS interview with Sandi Bergman here.

It’s Official:  WFAN, New York Broadcasts on 101.9 FM.  CBS Radio took over WRXP 101.9 FM under an LMA at midnight last night and the nation’s first full-time sports talk station WFAN, New York is now heard in the region on FM.  CBS Radio is buying the class B FM signal from Merlin Media for $75 million.

Keven Cohen Out at WVOC, Columbia, South Carolina.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment ousts PM drive host Keven Cohen from news/talk WVOC, Columbia, South Carolina.  Cohen announced his departure from the station via his Facebook page stating, “An hour ago, Clear Channel relieved me of my duties and fired me.  Obviously, I am devastated.  I am not getting the chance to do so on the radio, so I want to thank all of you for the love and support you have offered my way over almost 19 years at WVOC.  Please keep the Cohen family in your prayers.  This will be a significant challenge.”  WVOC has not announced its plans for PM drive at the station.

Now That You’re in Sales…  Because all radio staffers are in sales now – or should be, according to radio consultant Holland Cooke – if they want to keep their jobs.  But as Cooke writes, just because you’re a talent doing personalized spots doesn’t mean you have job security these days.  So, what’s a talent to do?  Still more, says Cooke.  “Offer to write copy.  You got your on-air job because you’re good with words, right?  That could make you handy to have around if yours is one of many stations where the creative department fell victim to a recent bloodbath.  Too often, account reps are writing spot copy, and too much of it sounds like…well, spot copy.”  Also, have you accompanied a sales rep on a call?  No?  Uh-oh…better read more of Holland Cooke’s wise advise for air talent here.

Steve Kelley to Prove Colorado is a Swing State.  Steve Kelley, along with Bill Rogan and Murphy Wells, hosts the morning drive show on Salem Communications’ KNUS, Denver.  Kelley is a well-known Denver radio personality who has performed various stunts for charity in the past.  Now, Kelly has begun an effort to break the world record for time spent swinging – a tongue-in-cheek nod to Colorado’s political status as a “swing state” and with the desire to highlight the need for all registered voters to cast their ballots.  Kelley will report on his progress live on the air and plans to finish his attempt sometime Saturday evening.  In past stunts, Kelley has rode a pogo stick from Boulder to Denver and sat in every seat in both the old and new Mile High Stadiums.

Welcoming Herman to Tulsa.  Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa held a live local event with some of its showcase talent to welcome talk show host and former presidential candidate Herman Cain to the market where he’ll take over as host of the Cox-syndicated Neal Boortz show in January.  Pictured here are (from l-r): Cox Media star Clark Howard, Boortz, Cain, and Cox Media radio news director of the Washington Bureau Jamie Dupree.

Hurricane Sandy Destruction Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of October 29-November 2.  The destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week landing at #1 on the Talkers TenTM.  Following at #2 was the NY/NJ/CT Gas Shortages.  At #3 was climate change controversy followed by the presidential race polls and predictions at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across the country and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS.  View this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  WYD Media-produced and Dial Global-distributed Michael Smerconish is added to the program schedule at WCMY, Ottawa, Illinois and WEZS, Laconia, New Hampshire…..Independently syndicated “Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the lineup at KBZZ-AM/FM, Reno.

 

Monday, October 1, 2012

| October 1, 2012

Lionel Joins Morning Show at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia.  Talk media personality Lionel – known for his years of expanding talk radio’s dimensions with successful stints in national syndication and in local markets gigs including New York City – joins the morning drive show at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia beginning today.  Lionel, who anchors Tribune’s WPIX-TV, New York’s “Morning News” from 4:00 am to 6:00 am and produces commentaries for the station that air on its 10:00 pm news, will join the program with Al Gardner from 6:00 am to 8:30 am.  In addition to these “traditional media” gigs, Lionel has been operating the digital media station LionelMedia.com for the past several years.

Gregg Henson Named PD at WPGB and WBGG, Pittsburgh.  Sports talk and news/talk pro Gregg Henson takes the programming reins at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk WPGB, Pittsburgh and sister sports talk WBGG “970 ESPN.”  Henson most recently served as director of programming operations at Federated Media’s WOWO, Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Henson says, “I’m excited to return to the Clear Channel family and I look forward to working with the excellent staff at ‘FM News Talk 104.7’ and ‘970 ESPN.’  Pittsburgh’s passionate and loyal Steelers and Penguins fans make this an exciting new opportunity.”  CC Pittsburgh OM David Edgar states, “Gregg has the skills and passion to lead our sports, talk, and news programming on all of our brands in Pittsburgh to new levels of success.  His past experience will be a great asset to the Clear Channel Pittsburgh team.”  Henson replaces Jay Bohannon who exited the cluster last month.

Dave Ramsey Celebrates 20th Anniversary in Radio with Big Nashville Bash including Affiliate Meetings and Gala Live Broadcast.  This past Friday, September 28, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey marked his 20th year in radio with a special episode of “The Dave Ramsey Show.”  The program took place before a live audience of more than 2,000 listeners in a huge tent in the parking lot of Ramsey headquarters in suburban Nashville.  It included calls from long-time listeners and well-wishes from friends and celebrities such as Brad Paisley, George Stephanopoulos, Mark Cuban, Billy Gibbons, Piers Morgan, Zac Brown, Neil Cavuto, Darrell Waltrip, and Glenn Beck.  Video of the show was streamed live online.  Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam declared September 28, 2012 Dave Ramsey Day in the state of Tennessee.  He presented the proclamation to Ramsey during the first hour of the radio show (see photo).  The show was the culmination of Ramsey’s fifth annual Affiliate Executive Council (AEC) meeting held last week between Wednesday and Friday (9/26-28) in which he and his staff provided some 60 executives from his affiliates across the country with seminars, workshops breakout sessions and entertainment activities experienced in true Nashville fashion.  A highlight of the AEC event was an industry trade panel featuring professionals who have never been on one stage together.  The panel focused on current industry issues and events and was moderated by Radio Advertising Bureau CEO Erica Farber.  Al Peterson from NTS Media Online, Gene McKay from Inside Radio, and Michael Harrison from TALKERS and RadioInfo participated on the panel (see photo).  According to Harrison, “Attending the Ramsey event was an eye opener into how this amazing broadcaster and his superb staff have created a viable, productive partnership with their affiliate radio stations as well as a personal bond with them on a level unmatched by any other syndication company or network in the business.  Ramsey has created a business model and success story worthy of emulation, indeed!”

Syndicators Hit the Deck Running Today to Promote Shows to Stations Left Unprepared for Savage Exit.  After a weekend during which approximately 300 radio station managers who were affiliated with TRN’s Michael Savage Show (“The Savage Nation”) were trying to figure out what to put in the gaping vacancy left in their schedule by the sudden exit of Michael Savage from the airwaves this past Friday, the syndication and network community are readying a mad dash to get to them and have them consider taking any of a number of their available programs as its replacement.  Savage left the airwaves without warning after scoring a victory in a fierce legal battle with TRN to get out of his existing contract (see story below).  Talk Radio Network has teased that it will name Savage’s replacement (as “radio’s October surprise”) – at least within its stable of available hosts – sometime today.

Talk Host Michael Savage Produces First Internet-Only Broadcast.  Former Talk Radio Network nationally syndicate host Michael Savage – who won his arbitration case against the company last week to get out of his contract and left terrestrial immediately thereafter – produced his first Ustream-hosted webcast on Sunday evening (9/30).  Savage broadcast for about an hour.  His website encourages visitors to check back for announcements of future broadcasts.  The video is not being archived for repeat views at this time – so it must be watched live – and chatter on Ustream’s message board reveals some Savage fans are irked by that move.  Could it be that Savage is trying to create an appetite for a pay model?  The arbitrator’s decision voided Savage’s contract with TRN and allows him to work anywhere he likes.  Stay tuned!

TRN’s America’s Radio News Network Inks with Armed Forces Radio Network.  Talk Radio Network-owned America’s Radio News Network announces it has signed an agreement with Armed Forces Radio Network to serve as the top-of-the-hour news on the broadcast service for American military personnel.  American Forces Radio Network Worldwide director Jef Reilly, tells ARN, “The troops want news, not agendas, and I think you’re delivering that.”  ARN/ANN vice president for news John McCaslin says, “Our expanding team of news anchors, producers and board operators is extremely proud to enlist the trust of the millions of men and women of America’s armed forces, who every day put their lives on the line and sacrifice so much for those of us here at home.”

Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington Brings Del Walters Aboard Full Time.  Washington, DC’s all-news WTOP announces broadcast journalist Del Walters is promoted to a full-time position with the station.  WTOP states, “For more than two decades, Walters has been broadcasting in the Washington/Baltimore area, working as an anchor and investigative reporter for various stations including WJLA in Washington and WMAR in Baltimore.  Walters joined WTOP in 2010 as a part-time anchor and reporter but will now step into a full-time role.”

Clear Channel Flips WGST, Atlanta to Spanish Sports Talk.  Last week we reported that Clear Channel Media and Entertainment would be dropping the news/talk at heritage WGST, Atlanta and flipping to either a Spanish-language format or all-comedy.  CC chose to go with Spanish sports talk and debuted 640 ESPN Deportes on Friday afternoon.

Radio Vet Ron Cutler Shares Secrets of his Financial Success in New Radio Biz Book.  Radio veteran Ron Cutler turned a $15,000 investment in this industry into a $10 million payoff and now he’s written a book explaining how he did it.  The colorful radio and business book is titled How I Turned $15,000 into $10,000,000 (HIT) and You Can Too, and it serves up a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the radio business.  The advice is based on Cutler’s colorful experience as a top-rated Philadelphia DJ “Ron Diamond”; as the original owner and creator of the legendary KOME, the San Jose FM radio station that he sold to Michael Wiener and Gerald Carrus who formed Infinity Broadcasting making KOME Infinity’s first station; as the creator of 15 hit radio shows and services, Cutler was instrumental in launching the national shows of Rick Dees, Tom Joyner and Cousin Brucie;  as the owner of Cutler Comedy Networks, a leading comedy programming company that serviced more than 4,000 radio stations and was acquired in 1996 by Premiere Radio Networks; and as an entrepreneur in numerous entertainment ventures.  He tells TALKERS, “My path wasn’t an easy one.  At this stage in my life, I’d like to help others get a leg up, particularly during this challenging economy.  Perhaps the lessons that taught me resilience, determination and self-reliance will resonate with others.”   For more information visit www.roncutlerbooks.com. To interview Ron Cutler contact Amir Forester at 310-857-6207 or e-mail  amir@foresterpublicrelations.com.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

| August 30, 2012

Fisher Communications Re-Aligns News and Talk Programming in Seattle; KOMO to Air More News, KVI to Return to Conservative Talk.  After 20 months away from conservative talk programming, Fisher Communications’ KVI, Seattle – reputed to be the first station to intentionally program all-conservative talk in America – returns to that format with local talk host John Carlson moving over from KOMO to host morning drive at KVI.  When the lineup is finally in place, Carlson will be followed by TRN’s Laura Ingraham; Compass Media NetworksTodd Schnitt; Cumulus Media NetworksMark Levin; Compass’ Lars Larson; TRN’s Michael Savage; and Cumulus Media’s “Red Eye Radio” and Don Imus will round out the overnight period.  PD Paul Duckworth states, “KVI stands for the best in conservative talk in Seattle.  This is going to be one of the most hotly contested elections in history and people need a place to hear about it and talk about it.  Get set for an exciting ride!”  Meanwhile at KOMO-AM/FM, Bill Rice anchors the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart and Brian Calvert anchors the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot.  Ken Schram – who had been hosting a talk show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm—remains with Fisher in his role as commentator on KOMO 4 television.  Both Carlson and Schram will continue to provide daily commentaries on KOMO Newsradio.

Is Jim Rome Leaving Premiere Networks for CBS Radio Sports?  That’s what Deadline.com is reporting.  Jim Rome has been syndicated by Premiere Networks since he debuted nationally back in 1996.  Recently he left ESPN – the cable giant that produced his television program – and signed on with the upstart cable venture CBS Sports Network.  Now, Deadline is reporting Rome will leave Premiere when his contract is up and join the CBS Radio Sports network when it debuts in January and that the deal will also allow him to cover NFL, NCAA basketball and U.S. Open Tennis Championships, and other events.

Dial Global Responds to Mark Masters’ TRN Lawsuit — Calls it “Frivolous,” “Spurious.”  In a statement issued to the radio industry trade press, Spencer Brown, co-chief executive officer of Dial Global, states: “Despite the comments in Mr. Masters’ e-mail to the press distributed yesterday in which he announced his company Talk Radio Networks (TRN) is suing Dial Global, at this time, Dial Global has not been served a complaint. We have provided outstanding service to TRN for over 10 years and continue to represent several of TRN’s programs today. Based on the information contained in the complaint distributed by Mr. Masters to the press, which complaint was filed by a law firm run by Ron Severaid, TRN’s own internal legal counsel, we believe the complaint is entirely frivolous. We are confident we will defeat these spurious claims, assuming they are ever heard in a court of law.”

Lincoln Financial Media’s Sports WAXY Takes Over 104.3 in West Palm Beach.  As reported last week, the announced sale of WMSF, West Palm Beach to Lincoln Financial Media for use as an FM signal for sports talker WAXY would give LFM the right to operate under an LMA until the sale is approved by the FCC and that happened yesterday at 5:00 pm ET.  The 104.3 signal remains in the West Palm Beach market while the application to move it to the Miami market sits in Washington, DC with the commission.  Until the time that move happens, the station cannot broadcast Marlins or Heat games on the FM signal as Good Karma’s WEFL, Tequesta, Florida has the rights in the West Palm Beach market.

Crawford Broadcasting to Purchase Non-Comm WNED, Buffalo.  Western New York Public Broadcasting Association announces it is selling WNED-AM, Buffalo at 970 to Denver-based Crawford Broadcasting for $875,000.  The pubcaster purchased WBFO-FM, Buffalo from the University of Buffalo in March for $4 million and president and CEO Donald K. Boswell says the corporation no longer needs the AM frequency for its programming.  He also states the cash from the sale will go to pay down debt on the WBFO-FM purchase.  WNED also owns WNED-FM that airs a classical music format and WBFO-FM carries the corporation’s news and information programming.  Crawford programs both Christian and secular programming and has not signaled its intent for WNED-AM after the sale is approved.

Entercom’s 95.7 The Game Names Ric Bucher PM Drive Co-Host.  With Eric Davis leaving KGMZ, San Francisco to join The NFL Network, Entercom’s 95.7 The Game brings Ric Bucher aboard to co-host the PM drive show with Brandon Tierney.  Program director Jason Barrett states, “Ric Bucher’s credentials in our industry speak for themselves and he’s instantly recognized locally and nationally for his great work with ESPN.  Bay Area sports fans are going to learn quickly that he’s a 20-year Bay Area native and his passion and knowledge for our local teams is outstanding.  Ric and Brandon Tierney will be an absolute must-listen during afternoon drive for Bay Area sports fans.”  Bucher will continue his role with ESPN as a Bay Area NBA reporter and senior writer covering hoops for ESPN The Magazine.  He begins at KGMZ on September 6.

WFAN, New York Crowns Fantasy Phenom 3 Winner.  CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York announces the winner of its third annual local talent search who receives a weekly sports talk program on the station beginning in September.  Joe Giglio of Howell, New Jersey bested his competitors to claim the prize in the summer-long promotion.  WFAN operations manager and CBS Radio New York vice president of programming Mark Chernoff says, “We’ve been very pleased with our first two winners and look forward to Joe doing a great job this time around.  We thank all of our participants and special kudos to our five finalists, who had to perform both for a huge radio audience on WFAN, but also to our online listeners at WFAN.com, our YES TV viewers and the few thousand people who saw them live at Bar A.”

Hubbard Radio’s ESPN 101 St. Louis Presents Inaugural Speaker Series Event with St. Louis Rams Today.  WXOS, St. Louis is launching its speaker series with today’s “Game-Day Luncheon” with the St. Louis Rams from 11:30 to 1:30 at the local Patrick’s Restaurant & Sports Bar.  Fans can pay $25 per head to attend and hear St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, general manager Les Sneed, and executive vice president of football operations/chief operating officer Kevin Demoff talk about the new season.  Rams Radio personalities and NFL commentators D’Marco Farr, coach Rick Venturi, Tony Softli and Steve Savard – along with other 101 ESPN on-air personnel – will be on-hand at this special game day gathering with the Rams.  The event takes place on the same day as the Rams’ last pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Odds & Sods.  Former Miami Dolphin great Jason Taylor begins a stint on WAXY, Miami’s Dan Le Batard PM drive show.  He’ll join Le Batard each Monday to talk NFL football during the season…..David Todd is the new 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm host on Clear Channel’s sports talk WBGG, Pittsburgh…..“Watchdog on Wall Street” host Chris Markowski begins a regular guest shot on the “Butler on Buisiness” program on WAFS, Atlanta.  He’ll join the program each Wednesday at 11:35 am…..Washington, DC-based talk host Chris Core – for years a star on WMAL and currently doing commentary on WTOP – will fill in for Michael Castner, host of “The Daily Wrap from The Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner” tomorrow…..Retired NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson signs on with SiriusXM to host weekly shows on the SiriusXM NFL Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels.

Republican National Convention, Isaac Stalls Over Gulf Coast, SEAL’s Bin Laden Book and Syria Among Top News Talk Stories Yesterday (8/29).  The Republican National Convention and election issues dominated the news/talk radio airwaves yesterday.  However, other topics that were discussed included Tropical Storm Isaac stalling over the gulf Coast and bringing devastating rain to the region, the Navy SEAL’s book about the death of Osama bin Laden and the ongoing strife in Syria.

 

Monday, December 19, 2011

| December 19, 2011

Filling in for the Holidays.  Today marks the beginning of “holiday fill-in season” on talk radio which pretty much runs through the rest of the year.  It is the time when a significant percentage of full-time hosts working at individual radio stations (and even syndicated hosts for that matter) take all or part of their annual vacations.  This process provides fill-in hosts and part-time weekend and bench hosts with the opportunity to get out there and hopefully shine.  It also has the potential to provide listeners with fresh voices and perspectives.  And it always presents already overworked programmers with the challenge of keeping their schedules flowing and appealing.  They want someone who is professional and interesting – but they also want someone who won’t upset the applecart of stationality or listener expectations.  WGN, Chicago PD Bill White explains, “I equate a fill-in host to someone hosting a dinner party in someone else’s home.  Fill-in hosts should be respectful of the regular host’s audience but not rearrange all the furniture.  We also look for fill-in hosts who will be comfortable and compliment the regular host’s audience.”  Thus, qualified substitutes are a valuable commodity at this time of year when the demand for their services is drastically increased, especially when most stations’ air staffs have been cut back or depleted due to the economy and PDs must look for help from outside.  For example, one of the industry’s most popular substitutes, former congressman and KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth is subbing for Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated host Todd Schnitt on 12/20 and 12/28.  He’ll be heard on hosting local shows on KXNT-FM, Las Vegas on 12/23 and 12/29-30; WLS, Chicago on 12/24, 28-30; WGST, Atlanta on 12/26; KOGO-AM/FM, San Diego on 12/27; and WPHT, Philadelphia on 12/28-30.  Demand for quality substitutes is so high that some hosts already doing full-time work use it as an opportunity to pick up extra income and exposure.  As if he is not already doing enough on his “regular” gigs, hard working and extremely talented Clear Channel talk host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo (KPRC, Houston; WOAI, San Antonio; KOA, Denver; and “The Weekend”) fills in for Premiere Networks syndicated star Glenn Beck on 12/20, 23, 28 and 30. This year’s holiday season coming in the thick of the big election cycle creates even more pressure to keep stations on track.  Greater Media-owned WTKK-FM, Boston PD Grace Blazer tells TALKERS, “It’s important at 96.9 FM-WTKK to provide our audience with relevant shows throughout the holiday season that are timely and topical.  Our host vacation schedules are scattered and their fill-ins are often regular participants to their shows and share similar philosophies.  Since January 2012 is a huge month for presidential politics and New Hampshire is our neighbor, I think it’s imperative to keep 96.9 Boston Talks ‘primarily’ intact and compelling.”  At Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ, Fresno, PD Skip Essick likes to avoid throwing curves to listeners, “I try and keep programming as normal as possible.  This year it will not be as much of a challenge with Christmas Eve and Day on the weekend – same thing over New Years.  But, for instance, the day after Thanksgiving – which was designated as a company holiday – I ran full staff with regular programming.  I’ll do the same for Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and the numerous Monday holidays throughout the year.  In a nutshell – if our listeners are at work, so are we.”  Some hosts prefer to work over the holidays and at Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR, New York, program director Scott Lakefield tells TALKERS that’s the case.  “For instance, John Gambling began a ‘tradition’ of sorts of taking his ‘holiday’ vacation in January.  He will be live 12/27-30.  Generally speaking, though, my theory is to try to do ‘best-of’ compendium shows during vacation times, with the exception of drive-time when information is a bigger component and it is thus necessary to be live.  Guest hosts in my experience drive far more listeners away than hearing some ‘classic’ moments from their favorite hosts does.”  In the sports talk radio world this situation can be particularly compelling since so many outlets have a high percentage of local full-time hosts and thus more slots to fill.  Plus, opinions and personality categories in sports talk are often more idiosyncratic than general news/talk, making it more challenging to find the proper fit.  CBS-owned Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh PD Terry Foxx tells TALKERS, “Holiday fill-in for us is very important.  I match up our part-time hosts based on how I feel they will entertain and incite opinions from our fans in certain day parts.”  Some stations have fill-in hosts with a history at the station such as veteran TV/radio personality Wayne Powers who subs for Keith Larson on WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte 12/26-30…  and the list goes on.  J.D. Hayworth, who is looking to get back into the business on a regular basis as either a local or syndicated host, tells TALKERS, “As a genuine ‘broadcasting baby boomer,’ I remember the ubiquitous Robert Q. Lewis on TV game shows: most frequently, a panelist…but quite frequently, a guest host…and eventually a regular host!  So, I’m being ‘Lewis-like’ over the holidays!  During my years at N.C. State, the joke was Lou Holtz recruited me at right tackle, but I ended up ‘left out!’  So…I’m used to waiting on the the bench, but very happy to get loads of holiday airtime. I’m certain these appearances will help me leave the bench and get back in the game full time!”

John Thompson Ends Regular Talk Show at WTEM, Washington.  The iconic former Georgetown University basketball coach and talk host in the DC market since 1999 will step away from his regular show on Red Zebra’s WTEM in February to pursue other interests.  Red Zebra director of programming Chuck Sapienza says, “While a sad day for the station, we fully support Coach Thompson’s decision to move on to other projects.  As Coach and I discussed at the time of his decision, this is not a retirement.  His fans will still hear Coach Thompson on ESPN980 from time to time.  Thompson’s program airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm daily with co-host Doc Walker.  Sapienza doesn’t state what the station’s plans are after Thompson steps down.

Chattanooga’s Brewer Media to Drop News/Talk on WPLZ-FM Citing Expense of the Format.  It’s been three years since the locally owned Brewer Media put a news/talk format on WPLZ-FM, Chattanooga.  Owner Jim Brewer II tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press he would have needed more staff to be competitive in the market.  “I think we offered a good product and I will miss having news/talk in our building…being a small, single market cluster, it’s exceedingly difficult to compete against national broadcasting companies who have so much syndicated programming and infrastructure.”  The station will flip to an unspecified music format in the new year and will lay off talk hosts Robert T. Nash and David Karnes as well as PD Gary Poole, news director Louis Lee and a couple other employees.  Brewer Media owns three other FMs in the market including sports talk WALV – ESPN 105.1.

Birach Broadcasting Flips WWCS, Pittsburgh to Sports; Affiliates with Fox Sports Radio.  Birach Broadcasting has been airing a Spanish music format on the signal but flips to sports on January 1 as Fox Sports 540.  It’ll take most of the Fox Sports Radio Network-distributed lineup – Zakk & Jack, the Dan Patrick show, “Loose Cannons,” Petros & Money, “Fox Sports Tonight” and JT the Brick plus Premiere NetworksJim Rome.  FSRN vice president and general manager Don Martin states, “After a short hiatus, Fox Sports Radio is thrilled to be heard again in the great city of Pittsburgh!”  The network was previously affiliated with Clear Channel’s WBGG.  In addition to CC’s WBGG, CBS Radio operates sports KDKA-FM in the market.

Dr. Jenn Berman to Host New VH1 Program “Couples Therapy.”  Los Angeles-based psychotherapist and host of the Sirius XM talk show, “The Love and Sex Show with Dr. Jenn,” is the host of a new cable TV show produced by Irwin Entertainment, the producers of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”  The program will follow the travails of five celebrity couples and they go through therapy with Dr. Jenn Berman.  Shows hit the air in the spring.  Dr. Berman tells TALKERS magazine, “It’s such a pleasure to be a part of this exciting venture on VH1.  I’m looking forward to being that connecting link between viewers and the process of examining the challenges of a celebrity relationship.  I think people will be very surprised by how much they identify with these celebs and their personal struggles.”  Couples taking part in the program are: DMX (Rapper) & Tashera Simmons, Linda Hogan (“Hogan Knows Best”) & Charlie Hill, Chris Nirschel (“The Next Food Network Star”) & Angelina Pivarnick (“Jersey Shore”), Kasey Kahl (“Bachelorette”) & Vienna Girardi (“The Bachelor”) and Reichen Lehmkuhl & Rodiney Santiago (“The A-List: New York”).

Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels Named to State Travel Commission.  Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announces WJIM, Lansing-based talk host Michael Patrick Shiels – heard throughout the state via the Michigan Talk Network – will serve on the Michigan Travel Commission.  “One of the key components to building a better and stronger Michigan is to continuously promote all the attractions our state has to offer, including our beautiful lakes and great landmarks.  Michael Patrick Shiels is a great addition and uniquely positioned to be a great asset to the commission.”  In addition to his radio work, Shiels is a travel writer and founder of TravelTattler.com.  Subject to approval by the Michigan Senate, Shiels will serve the remainder of Jim Berryman’s term through September 2014. Berryman recently resigned.

Ira Weintraub Takes PD Role at WTKA, Ann Arbor.  Cumulus Media Ann Arbor names APD and morning show producer Ira Weintraub program director for sports talk outlet WTKA – The Ticket 1050.  Market manager Matt Spaulding says, “Ann Arbor is a market with a tradition of providing compelling, passionate and relevant broadcast products to the listeners of southeast Michigan.  Ira Weintraub has absolutely earned this promotion and we are confident that he will help lead WTKA to many more years of broadcasting success.”

WGN, Chicago’s Milt Rosenberg Hosts 2011 Retrospective Tonight.  “Extension 720” host Milt Rosenberg hosts a special edition of his program this evening (12/19) titled, “WGN Year in Review” with fellow WGN personalities Garry Meier, John Williams and David Kaplan.  The hosts will look back on the stories that made the year 2011 from the Rod Blagojevich case to the death of Osama bin Laden to the hiring of Theo Epstein as the Cubs’ general manager.  The program airs at 10:00 pm.