By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — If you’re among radio’s remaining local news people, you can improve your chances of remaining even longer by story-telling as impactfully as possible.
Your work – relevant, plainspoken newscasts – can make the station more habit-forming. Promos that assure “WE’VE GOTCHA COVERED” only talk-the-talk. Walk-the-walk by reckoning what matters to your target listener, and sounding-newer every time they hear you. If you do, you’ll prompt what the lab coat crowd at Arbitron calls “additional occasions of listening,” the quickest way to grow Share.
November PPMs Generally Good to Talk Radio. You can call it the “election bounce” if you like but some of the news/talk stations that did well in Arbitron’s November 2012 PPMs were ramping up in October and before. Plus, the fall has traditionally been a good ratings period for news/talk whether there’s an election or not. Of course, Hurricane Sandy played a major factor for stations in the New York and Middlesex-Somerset-Union markets. Some of the stations worth noting include CBS Radio’s New York all newsers WCBS and WINS which jumped from a 3.8 to a 5.3 and a 4.0 to a 4.8, respectively. Clear Channel’s Los Angeles talk juggernaut KFI continues to thrive inching up to a 5.3 from a 5.1 the month prior. Cumulus Media’s Chicago news/talker WLS bounced back up to a 4.1 after posting a 3.7 in October. Likewise in Dallas-Fort Worth for Cumulus as WBAP-AM/FM pops up a half share to a 3.9. Clear Channel’s KTRH, Houston rose from a 3.4 in October to a 4.1 in November. In Washington, DC Cumulus’ WMAL-AM/FM jumped from a 3.4 to a 4.2. In Philadelphia, Merlin Media’s WWIQ hopped from 2.7 in October to a 3.6 in November. Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta – which has been maintaining healthy numbers in the PPM for some time – vaults from a 6.8 to an 8.3 this month. Cumulus’ Detroit talker WJR rose more than a full share from a 4.8 to a 5.9. Public radio outlet KUOW, Seattle claimed the top spot in the November PPMs with a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix went up a full share from a 4.9 to a 5.9. Mixed results in Baltimore as Hearst’s WBAL fell from a 5.7 to a 5.0 while WCBM rose from a 3.0 to a 3.8 share. Good news for pubcaster KOPB, Portland which went from a 5.3 to a 6.2 while Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL jumped from a 4.8 to a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s WPGB, Pittsburgh leaped a full share from a 6.9 to a 7.9 share while its Sacramento sister KFBK also enjoyed a significant rise from a 5.6 to a 6.8 share. In the New Jersey market of Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW, Trenton) posted an outstanding 8.6 – up from a 6.2 in October – with help, no doubt, from Hurricane Sandy. TALKERS’ sister publication RadioInfo has all the PPM data including Mike Kinosian’s analysis of the numbers. You can find that here.
Laura Ingraham Back on Radio “Soon.” That’s what the author, pundit and talk show host told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. During one of Laura Ingraham’s regular appearances on Fox News Channel with O’Reilly, he questioned her status in the talk radio world and she told him she will be back on the radio with another syndicator (she left Talk Radio Network at the end of her contract on Tuesday) very soon. “I’m close to signing a new deal. I’m very, very close. But I’ll be back on the air probably in the next several days.” Ingraham told O’Reilly she informed TRN she would be “terminating the deal” months ago and that it was time to move on.
Talk Host Tom Becka to Exit KRWK, Fargo “101.9 Talk FM.” Talk radio pro Tom Becka has been serving as program director and talk show host at KRWK, Fargo since it flipped from rock to talk in March of this year. Becka tells the Fargo Forum he’s returning to Omaha where he’s worked for years and has family. Becka says any notion his departure has anything to do with the performance of the new format is not correct. “The station has grown every month. My experience with Radio Fargo-Moorhead was great and I’m proud of what we accomplished here in a short time. To say I’m leaving because of ratings would be erroneous.” Radio Fargo-Moorhead is selling its cluster of stations to Midwest Family Communications. The FCC has approved the license transfers but according to one source, the actual takeover may not happen until the spring.
Todd Schnitt Show to Leave Flagship WFLA, Tampa. Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt Tweets that his program – airing live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm – will be off longtime flagship WFLA, Tampa after the December 18 program. Schnitt further Tweets that the national syndication continues and is expanding under syndicator Compass. No word what CC has in mind for afternoons at WFLA. Currently, it delay-broadcasts Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm but may have plans to move Hannity to the live PM drive slot.
Jim Isabella Named Evening Host at WNIR, Akron. Journalist Jim Isabella has been doing fill-in work for WNIR for the past two years. He now takes over the evening show formerly hosted by the late Tom Erickson who died on November 3 after a long illness. Isabella most recently worked for the Akron Beacon Journal. Station owners Bob and Bill Klaus note in a press release that Isabella, who was a frequent caller to the show hosted by the late Howie Chizek who passed away suddenly in June, made them more aware of his talents during his fill-in time in addition to receiving positive response from the station’s listeners.
Odds & Sods. Watch for Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean from the network’s “America Now with Andy Dean” on Fox News Channel’s “America’s News HQ” this Sunday at 4:45 pm ET as he sits in a panel discussing the latest headlines in news and politics…..SiriusXM brings the Major League Baseball winter meetings to listeners via its MLB Network Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels. The meetings take place in Nashville December 2 through 6 and the satcaster will have front office experts Jim Bowden, Jim Duquette and Steve Phillips there hosting various programs with other special expert guests including former pitcher Jeff Nelson.
Bubba the Love Sponge Offers Reward for Arrest of Animal Abuser. After hearing about the case of a dog found in the Bradenton, Florida area that had been attacked by someone with an axe, radio star Bubba the Love Sponge put up $1,000 of his own cash on top of the $500 being offered by the Animal Network for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. After hearing about the case, Tampa-area philanthropist Gary Kompothecras of the legal and medical referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY added another $1,000 to the reward to make the total $2,500. Bubba reports to TALKERS that the dog, named Axel, is recovering from his injuries and will be available for adoption once he is healthy again.
Los Angeles Broadcaster David Courtney Dies at 56. The Southern California radio community is mourning the loss of omnipresent “big voice” David Courtney, who passed away on Thursday, November 29. Many considered Courtney the voice of Los Angeles sports, since for the past 23 years, he was the public address announcer of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He performed similar duties for MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 18 years and NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers since October 2008. Greater Los Angeles area radio listeners knew him for his frequent traffic and sports updates as part of the Total Traffic Network. Over the last 20 years, Courtney was heard on a number of major Los Angeles radio outlets including KABC and KSPN, as well as KOLA in the Inland Empire. His other radio background included stints at Houston’s KULF as executive producer of sports programming and that market’s KTRH, where he was weekend news anchor before landing a nightly, three-hour news/talk program. New York City-born Courtney moved to Los Angeles in 1963 when his father, Alan, became president of MGM Television. According to Courtney’s Twitter feed, he needed to miss Wednesday night’s Clippers game against Minnesota owing to the fact he was in the hospital awaiting an angiogram. The 56-year-old Courtney is survived by his wife, Janet Fisher-Courtney.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle Remains Top Talk Radio Topic for Second Straight Week. The struggle between the Obama administration and GOP congressmen to deal with impending tax hikes and spending cuts was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Benghazi investigation tied with the Susan Rice-GOP leaders meetings. Following at #3 was the Israel-Gaza tensions with the clean-up of Hurricane Sandy at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.
WMAL-AM/FM, Washington Names Larry O’Connor AM Drive Co-Host. Breitbart.tv editor-in-chief Larry O’Connor is named the new co-host of the “Mornings on the Mall” AM drive show on Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington. Program director Bill Hess announces O’Connor – who’s been sitting in on the morning show a lot lately – partners up with Brian Wilson effective immediately. Hess states, “Larry began his career in the theater business. The opportunity to marry his talents as an entertainer to our daily discussion of subjects of interest to our audience makes this an exciting move. Larry’s new media experience and expertise is icing on the cake!” O’Connor says of his new gig, “I am thrilled to be joining Brian Wilson, producer Heather Smith and the entire ‘Mornings on the Mall’ team that Bill Hess has assembled at the legendary WMAL in Washington, DC. Starting my day having a conversation with the people of this community and then continuing my vital work as an editor for the Breitbart News Network is truly a dream come true and I can’t wait to hit the ground running.”
Howard Stern Plays Games with Radio Hall of Fame. Robert Feder writes in his Time Out Chicago column that iconic radio personality Howard Stern is keeping the National Radio Hall of Fame guessing as to whether or not he will show up at the Chicago institution on Saturday when he is inducted with the class of 2012. Stern has been vocal – okay, downright nasty – about having been passed over four times in the past after having been nominated. Hall chairman Bruce DuMont tells Feder, “We would hope that Howard would show up. He certainly deserves to be in the Radio Hall of Fame. We’ll be delighted to welcome him and honor him. I hope that he rises to the occasion. We think we did the right thing, and I hope he does the right thing, too.” Stern’s presenter will be Chicago Bears defensive tackle and longtime fan Amobi Okoye. The induction ceremony takes place at the Museum of Broadcast Communications Saturday evening. Also being inducted this year are “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross; WLW, Cincinnati legend Gary Burbank; Ron Chapman, Dallas radio icon; Jack L. Cooper, radio’s first black disc jockey (deceased); Art Laboe, Los Angeles oldies pioneer from Hot 92.3 FM; and Luther Masingill, Chattanooga, Tennessee radio great for more than 70 years. Regarding Stern’s keeping the Hall of Fame in the dark about whether or not he will show up and accept the honor, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “He did the same thing to TALKERS when we presented him with the Freedom of Speech Award several years ago. Of course we gave him the award anyway and his friend, the very gracious and eloquent actor George Takei, showed up and accepted it on his behalf. We understand that being the eternal ‘outsider’ is part of Howard Stern’s schtick – an act that has contributed greatly to the culture and business of this industry. But Howard has also been pretty nasty, aloof and the first to complain when his ‘king-of-all-media-arse’ is not kissed above and beyond his receiving fame, honors and enormous compensation and, frankly, it is an act that is getting old…especially during these difficult days for radio when it is facing a number of existential crises and threats. Radio needs its stars on both sides of the microphone to step up the plate. C’mon Howard! This business has been very, very good to you. Be a mensch and start giving back a little bit. Do the right thing. Show up in Chicago and let them know you’re coming.”
Radio Small Part of CBS Corp; Moonves & Co. Still Bullish on Radio Though. During yesterday’s conference call after the release of CBS Corp’s Q3 numbers, president and CEO Les Moonves indicated the company is still very high on radio – especially news and sports – even as the radio division was the sole dull spot in the company’s third quarter report. The division is down 5%. Speaking about the acquisition of Merlin’s WRXP, Moonves stated, “We took a significant step in our major market strategy with the acquisition of 101.9 which now gives us another strong signal in the nation’s number one market. It has been renamed WFAN-FM and is now the FM home for what is already the number one sports radio station in the country. This new station will also be a key part of the CBS Sports Radio Network that will be launching nationwide in January.” When asked about the role of radio in the long term for CBS, Joe Ianniello, executive VP and CFO said “I think from a radio perspective, it’s absolutely producing content. Sports and news – it’s key to the overall CBS strategy. We have a large-market focus, so I think it fits very nicely. Obviously, we like the margins. Obviously, these brands are going online, and it’s living outside of just the local region. So we’re very bullish on radio.”
CBS Announces New York TV/Radio-Promotes Phone Bank to Benefit Red Cross. CBS Corporation’s two New York television stations – WCBS-TV, New York and WLNY, Riverhead, New York (Long Island) – in concert with the company’s radio stations (WCBS, WINS, and WFAN) will organize a phone bank on Thursday, November 8 from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm to seek donations for the American Red Cross to help with the organization’s relief efforts. Red Cross representatives will be on site at the CBS Broadcast Center accepting pledges joined by CBS Radio and television personalities who have tirelessly brought coverage of the storm to residents across the Tri State area. Additional members of the CBS family will also be present to lend a hand to the pledge drive.
WWRL, New York to Air Special “RL Cares” Program. Access.1 Communications’ progressive talk outlet WWRL, New York will air a one-hour special broadcast on Friday, November 9 from 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm from its studios in New York City called “RL Cares” and hosted by Dr. Fritz Galette. The clinical psychologist and on-air personality on “The Dr. Fritz Show” (Thursdays at 10:00 pm on the station) will host a program dedicated to health and social services available in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Featured guests will include representatives from the Office of Emergency Management and The American Red Cross. Both organizations will disseminate information on what services are available to WWRL listeners. Station general manager Adriane Gaines says, “The impact that SuperStorm Sandy has had on the Tri State area is immeasurable. The economical and emotional toll of the storm has greatly impacted the daily lives of residents in the tri-state area. After more than a week, many are still without power, homeless and living in shelters and unable to obtain gas for generators or to drive their vehicles.”
Bruce B. Demps to Exit Radio One. After six years serving as regional manager (Atlanta/Philadelphia)/vice president of urban radio powerhouse Radio One, veteran broadcaster Bruce B. Demps will be leaving the company on November 15. Demps tells TALKERS that his career has been “a great ride” and that he has been “truly blessed.” He goes on, however, to say, “My plan is to retire unless something unforeseen at this time motivates me to get off the sofa and the golf course. The past six years have been amazing but my career did not start with this company and in all likelihood it might not end with it.” He can be emailed at email@example.com. Demps is pictured here in a 2011 photo with Radio One chairperson and founder Cathy Hughes.
WSAU, Wausau, Wisconsin Talk Host Pat Snyder Loses State Assembly Bid. And the conservative talk host tells the Wausau Daily Herald that he thinks his image as a right-wing talk show host actually hurt, rather than helped, his campaign. Pat Snyder lost to 35-year-old school teacher Mandy Wright by 900 votes. Snyder tells the paper, “In the back of (the voters’) mind, they thought the old, radio conservative host would show up.” During the campaign, Wright requested equal time compensation from Midwest Communications when Snyder remained on the air past the 60-day window. The station granted her commercial time in response and Wright was happy with the arrangement.
Election Aftermath, Markets Tumble, Sandy-Affected Area Hit with Snow Storm, and Benghazi Investigation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/7). The aftermath of the re-election of President Obama; the financial markets take a big drop; Sandy-ravaged parts of the Northeast are hit with an early snow storm; and the Benghazi investigation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Talk Radio Wraps Up Major Week of High-Profile Broadcasting and News Gathering. The Republican National Convention week was a busy one for the country’s news/talk stations as well as more than 100 outlets that chose to broadcast live from radio row in Tampa and many more than that sent hosts, staffers and news people to the city to cover the convention and report back to their markets. According to a report issued to TALKERS by the Republican National Committee, this year’s radio row generated some 1,551 radio interviews smashing 2008′s record of 1,263. The convention radio row is not only fertile ground upon which to produce a live broadcast with a huge pool of political experts, candidates and surrogates available as guests in one compact location, but it is also an opportunity to get some national attention as Compass Media Networks’ Todd Schnitt did on Fox News Channel (upper left photo). Talk hosts in major markets and nationally syndicated stars certainly have the ability to book big-name guests via phone but the chance to actually rub elbows with big political stars, speak with them face-to-face and chat in a “live” situation is unique to this political season. It also provides members of the talk radio community with a place and reason to meet and network in a working situation conducive to enhancing existing relationships and forging new ones. The Ernest Istook program, hosted by the former congressman and produced by WYD Media, also emanated from the convention site this week and gave Istook the opportunity to chat with U.S. Rep. and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (here at right).
Yankees Baseball Stays on WCBS, New York for at Least One More Season. The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick reported it earlier yesterday and CBS Radio confirms it in a release. Apparently the Yankees have rejected overtures from ESPN to join the company’s new FM-enhanced sports talk outlet WEPN for they will stay with WCBS for the 2013 season. Numerous industry watchers had expected to see a big bidding war for Yankees baseball and perhaps we’ll see that next season but if this report is correct, it’ll be another year before CBS Radio and Disney/ESPN battle it out for Yankees rights.
Bill Rehkopf Returns to KDKA, Pittsburgh. The former morning news man at CBS Radio’s KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh returns to the Steel City after being involved in the start-up of the company’s Washington, DC all-newser WNEW-FM. Rehkopf was the featured morning drive anchor at the station. Now, he’ll anchor KDKA-AM’s “KDKA Afternoon News” from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Current anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas remains with the station to work on the PM drive show. In a statement, Rehkopf says, “Working in the nation’s capital was extremely exciting and rewarding. However, my family and I have deep roots in Pittsburgh and this is a terrific opportunity at KDKA. It’s a perfect professional fit for me and works well for my family. I look forward to providing Pittsburgh with a quality program of essential news, information and entertainment to wrap up their work day.”
Reports of Mel Selling Sirius XM Shares Raises Eyebrows. In a release issued after yesterday’s closing bell, news from Sirius XM Satellite Radio that CEO Mel Karmazin will be selling an additional 30 million shares of the publicly traded company (Sirius XM SIRI) this fall has both Wall Street and radio industry observers speculating as to what it means. Considering the timing involved – Mel’s contract is up this year and major investor Liberty Media (LMCA) is closing in seeking control – there is evidence to support the educated guess that the company’s chief is heading for the door. Other possibilities include that Mel is simply cashing in his chips for a job clearly well done or that it is a maneuver to throw an obstacle in the way of Liberty taking control. The price to exercise the 30 million options shares is $0.43. This means the shares will cost Karmazin $12,900,000. If he were to sell them all at $2.50 the price would be a cool $75,000,000, delivering a profit of $62,100,000. Analyst Spencer Osbourne writes in the Seeking Alpha newsletter, “I can imagine that the news relating to an insider at Sirius XM selling 30,000,000 shares will not be well received by the market. Be prepared, because this news is going to cause some wild speculation and debate. I would not be surprised to see the stock price move down on this news. Between the Liberty cloud and now the Karmazin cloud, the uncertainty is building for Sirius XM.”
NBC Sports Radio Announces Affiliates for Next Week’s Launch. As NBC Sports Radio and partner Dial Global prepare to debut their late night and overnight sports talk radio shows and hourly sports news reports on Tuesday, September 4, the list of affiliates for the programming is being made public. The build-up to a national affiliate base with a big rollout is always a challenge and NBC is gearing up with a lot of medium and small market stations for its sports talk shows and has some major market clears on small or outlying signals. For example, The Amani & Eytan 10:00 pm to 1:00 am show will air in markets including Huntsville, Santa Barbara, Evansville and Roanoke. But it will also clear secondary signals in the Washington, DC, Denver and Charlotte markets. Both Amani & Eytan and the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Erik Kusilias show will be heard on WPOP, Hartford. To see where the shows will debut, click here.
Emmis Delivers Good News to Staff in the Form of Bonuses. Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan issued an e-mail memo to staffers informing them that they would be receiving cash bonuses to reward their loyalty and dedication to the company during these tough economic times. Full-time employees will be getting a $1,000 bonus while part-time staffers will each get $250.
Salem Communications to Pay Q3 Dividend. The board of directors of Salem Communications declares a dividend for the third quarter of 2012 that will pay shareholders of Class A and Class B common stock 3 and ½ cents per share. The dividend will be paid to all shareholders of record as of September 14 and will be paid on September 28.
Katie Couric’s TV Talk Show to Debut on September 10. The show, titled simply, “Katie,” will be broadcast in syndication beginning on Monday, September 10 and all media eyes will be on the television legend as she begins a new chapter in her career. She was once the most popular personality in morning talk television but Katie Couric left to take the helm of the “CBS Evening News,” a job that even her harshest critics would admit is probably beyond anyone’s ability to succeed in this day and age. But as Howard Kurtz examines in his excellent piece in the Daily Beast, the question is whether Couric’s newsy approach to issues and distant personality will grab daytime TV viewers. Couric clearly appears to be bucking the trend in what makes successful daytime talk TV but she appears determined. Read Kurtz’s piece here.
Attention Radio Sales Staffers! Your Job Was Born 90 Years Ago This Week. This week marks the 90th anniversary of the first sale of radio time. It was back in 1922 when New York radio station WEAF – owned by Bell Telephone Company – sold a 10-minute commercial to the Hawthorne Court Apartments in Jackson Heights, New York for $50. At about 5:00 pm on August 28, 1922 a pitch for the apartment complex was made to anyone who happened to be listening and the business of commercial radio was born. It didn’t take off like a rocket, as radio historians will tell you, but it certainly was the beginning of an industry. NPR produced a fantastic segment commemorating this event. Listen to the segment or read the transcript at NPR’s site here. (Photo: MTM Enterprises)
The Economy, Health Care and Foreign Policy Issues Topped the Talkers TenTM for the Week of August 27 – 31. These issues, as related to the presidential campaign and set against the backdrop of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. Coming in at #2 on this week’s chart was the RNC speeches. At #3 was the mainstream media’s coverage of the RNC and the firing of Yahoo! News bureau chief David Chalain and at #4 was Tropical Storm Isaac. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top talk topics as discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Dial Global’s Jim Bohannon and “Jill on Money” join the program lineup at WZKT, Salisbury-Ocean City, Maryland…..Benztown Radio Network morning show “The Todd N Tyler Radio Empire” hosted by Mike Tyler and Todd Brandt replaces the syndicated version of Mark & Brian at KXFM, Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo…..“Malcolm Out Loud” is added to the programming at KKYT, Ridgecrest, California.
Clear Channel Will Pay Buckley $30 Million for WOR. The paperwork to transfer WOR, New York from Buckley Broadcasting to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has been filed with the FCC and we now know the price CC will pay for the station, pending approval by the Commission, is $30 million. The station is already being operated by Clear Channel under an LMA.
The Other Morning Shoe Drops at KLOS as Brian Phelps Says Adios. The surprise (to many) and sudden exit Friday by Brian Phelps of the KLOS, Los Angeles “Mark & Brian” morning show has some industry observers speculating that there might be more than meets the eye to Mark Thompson’s earlier telegraphed and more-heralded departure. Was the whole thing very possibly all about money? Perhaps Cumulus Media’s new contract offer to Mark Thompson in today’s belt-tightening climate played a bigger role in his decision than the good-natured veteran let on when he told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s just time…guys my age are dropping dead. There are other things I want to do.” The Friday (8/16) program that was billed as the farewell show for Mark Thompson turned out to be the last shift for his on-air partner Brian Phelps as well. Thompson is now off to his new life in North Carolina while Phelps is reportedly teaming up with actress/entertainer Jill Whelan to do a series of podcasts at brianandjillshow.com. Whelan was recently a talk show host at WPHT, Philadelphia. Thompson will also be heading to the internet and podcasting with his wife and three adult children at markandlynda.us. Finishing a quarter-century run, the “Mark & Brian” show exits as the current longest-running morning show in Los Angeles. TALKERS caught up with Cumulus COO John Dickey over the weekend who stood behind Thompson’s account of his reason for leaving the show adding, “I thank Mark for giving us the certainty to begin this search and process in earnest months and months ago — speaks volumes to Mark’s decision to paint on another canvas.” Regarding Phelps, Dickey did not deny the host’s position was changed with Thompson out of the equation stating, “With respect to Brian, he was part of a large consideration pool for the next chapter in rock’s most iconic brand. The decision, which will be announced very soon, was made after a long and thoughtful process.” Oh, something else Dickey says has the TALKERS editors wondering if the multi-talented Thompson (who has dabbled in a bit of movie acting in his time) is only going to be focusing on his podcasts in the near future: “My only comment on Mark is that he is as committed to his movie career as I’m sure he once was to his radio show.”
WOWO, Fort Wayne Names Woody Zimmerman OM. Federated Media announces Woody Zimmerman takes over the operations manager post at the company’s heritage news/talk outlet WOWO, Fort Wayne. Zimmerman has held various programming roles over the span of his career with Federated Media and, previous to working for Federated, Zimmerman was a TV news assignment editor. Federated Media Fort Wayne market manager Jim Allgeier says, “Woody’s sense of urgency, organizational skills, attention to detail and work ethic make him uniquely qualified to take on the complex job of programming a news talk station. The talents and skills Woody has demonstrated as a programmer will transfer quickly as he takes on the assignment of programming a news/talk station for the first time.” Allgeier thanks outgoing OM Gregg Henson for his work with the station and especially his contribution to the launch of their Fan Sports Brand in Northern Indiana.
Fox News Radio Adds Two to News Staff. Fox News Radio vice president Mitch Davis announces the company brings two veteran broadcasters aboard as Steve Knight and Simon Owen begin with the company today. Steve Knight served as both an anchor and reporter for WCBS-AM, New York; CBS News Radio, and Associated Press Radio. He also served as news director and anchor for New York Times Radio and was bestowed the Edward R. Murrow award for best documentary, feature reporting, and use of sound. He’ll be a New York-based anchor. Simon Owen was most recently a reporter with Sky News Radio where he provided live coverage of the 2012 Olympics as well as of the 2011 Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. He also covered the death of singer Amy Winehouse, the resignation of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and secured high-profile interviews with international celebrities such as David Beckham and Jude Law. He’ll be a London-based correspondent.
Talk Host Found Guilty of Felony Wiretapping. “Free Talk Live” co-host Adam “Ademo” Mueller was found guilty of felony wiretapping by a New Hampshire jury and will serve 90 days in jail with an additional one to three years suspended and five years probation – meaning he could end up serving that additional time for probation violation. “Free Talk Live” host Ian Freeman tells TALKERS, “He was accused of recording conversations with government workers while they were on duty, over the phone. He was investigating the brutal attack on a student at Manchester’s West High School by the school police officer. Rather than punish the officer for unnecessarily slamming the student’s head into a table, they went after Ademo for trying to hold them accountable, on-the-record. Monday’s conviction was a sad day for the idea of the right to be the free press. The trial held many outrageous moments, including a government school principal who claimed she is not a public official!” Background on the case can be found at the site CopBlock.org: http://copblock.org/freeademo.
Talk Host and Journalist Aaron Klein’s Latest Book Lands on Best-Seller List. Jerusalem-based journalist and talk show host Aaron Klein’s latest book, Fool Me Twice: Obama’s Shocking Plans for the Next Four Years Exposed (WND Books 2012), hit #18 on the New York Times bestseller list for this week. Klein co-wrote the book with Brenda J. Elliott. He has been on a media tour to promote the book that has included stops on Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee program and Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” morning program. Klein hosts the weekly Sunday evening program “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York from 7:00 to 9:00.
“Spoken Word Radio: The Big Picture” Session Set for TALKERS Los Angeles Seminar. A dynamic panel discussion involving a group of knowledgeable talk industry leaders has been set for the forthcoming New Media Seminar 2012 in Los Angeles on Thursday, October 11 at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood being presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club. Titled “Spoken Word Radio: The Big Picture,” the panel will consist of an eclectic array of individuals including Phil Boyce, VP/director, spoken word format, Salem Communications; Ron Hartenbaum, CEO, WYD Media Management, LLC; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; and Mike McVay, senior VP programming, Cumulus Media. The session will be moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison. The conference will also feature, within its packed schedule, the honoring of KFI/KTLK program director Robin Bertolucci with the “Woman of the Year” award. The presentation will be made by nationally syndicated radio and television talk star, Stephanie Miller. The seminar will present more than 60 leading industry speakers. Its agenda will be posted on Talkers.com next week. It is expected to be an early sellout. To assure registration, attendees are advised to sign up now. Because it is open only to working media there will be no online registration – only by telephone. For registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.
Yahoo! Sports Radio Moves Travis Rodgers to Afternoon Slot. The man who produced Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome show for many years and is now a host of his own sports talk program with Yahoo! Sports Radio, is moved to a new time that puts him in virtual competition with Rome’s show. Travis Rodgers left Rome’s program in 2009 saying at the time he disagreed with Rome about the direction the program had taken. He became a sports talk host himself. Now his show moves to the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET slot effective today. In a statement, Rodgers says, “I can’t wait to go against the show that I helped build in to the industry standard. It’s not that anymore and I look forward to creating the new standard in sports talk radio.”
More Radio Talent are Becoming Entrepreneurs…and some are doing it kicking and screaming, while others embrace the feeling of independence and potential opportunity that comes with it. An informal in-house TALKERS magazine survey of radio stations and syndication companies conducted over the past two years indicates that the combination of new technology and difficult economic conditions are fueling this trend. The traditional employer/employee relationship between talent and platform provider is increasingly being replaced by independent contractor deals with many air personalities – even at major market heritage stations – operating as the principals of their own production companies. Within this new paradigm, on-air performers are responsible for their own health care, make lower salaries, and have shorter-term commitments from their “employers.” In return, they are granted the flexibility of working from home, broadcasting different shifts to other out of town stations and receiving revenue sharing deals on their shows and related intellectual property.
(Speaking of Entrepreneurism) Premiere Networks Founder Steve Lehman is Developing a Radio Talk Show for Syndication Aimed at Entrepreneurs…and it is already getting traction in Los Angeles on KFWB weekdays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The show is called “Business Rock Stars” and it is hosted by well-known entrepreneur Ken Rutkowski. The voice-over announcer for the show is Joe Cipriano (voice of Fox and CBS). Program partner Steve Lehman tells TALKERS that the show, which launched two months ago, is doing very well on KFWB where they are polishing every aspect of it to make it truly special and ready for a national roll-out in the near future. The program focuses on starting and building a business and presents some of the world’s most successful CEOs as well as accomplished small business owners as guests. The program is being designed for multi-platform content distribution. A glass enclosed studio is being designed and built in a highly trafficked Southern California location to house the show and its related seminars. It is being outfitted with three video cameras for streaming content. In addition, Lehman tells TALKERS, “We have a great strategic tie-in with Entrepreneur Magazine and will be broadcasting the Entrepreneur of the year awards live from Dallas. Additionally, we are working with Entrepreneur on their Franchise 500 issue. We are going to give away a franchise on the air!” Ken Ritkowski will be a speaker at the forthcoming TALKERS New Media Seminar on Thursday, October 11 discussing the new business environment of talk show hosting and radio station managing. Talkers tip: Keep your eye on this show and developing company. Steve Lehman is a top notch pro who has had an enormous influence on the modern radio industry. His turning his attention toward talk radio is a big deal for the business.
Leno Takes a Pay Cut. Since we are on the topic of broadcast talents facing pay cuts, the story broken yesterday (8/19) by CNN that NBC television star talker Jay Leno of the Tonight Show has agreed to accept a significant pay decrease to help the company deal with growing expenses and shrinking revenue has eyebrows raising throughout the broadcasting industry. In addition, NBC is still axing about 20 “Tonight Show” support staffers. Leno reportedly took the cut to protect even more of the show’s “little people” from receiving pink slips. You can be sure this provocative and unfortunate bit of news will reverberate around the conference rooms of radio stations as new talent contracts come up for renewal.
Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Sets October 20 Induction in Macon. For the first time in its six-year history, the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame is moving its induction ceremony (set for October 20) out of Atlanta and to the city of Macon. The organization’s president, John Long, who many of you will remember from KRUX, Phoenix and WAPE, Jacksonville, tells TALKERS, “We have struggled from the beginning to make this the GEORGIA Radio Hall of Fame. While 48% of our membership is from the seven-county metro-Atlanta area, that leaves a lot of radio stations and even more radio people in the state who deserve recognition. The members in Macon and Macon board member Ben Sandifer lobbied for the event to come there and veteran Georgia radio people have responded. It is going to be a great evening and ticket sales indicate it will come close to being another sellout.” TALKERS asked Long to describe the philosophy and mission behind the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame. His compelling response: “‘Radio people’ used to be considered big deals by their friends, families, and listeners. The changes in radio programming and technology have taken the focus away from people leaving many veterans with nothing more than scrapbooks and reel-to-reel tapes of radio from days gone by. When Sam Hale and I started the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, we were two guys who were fortunate enough to have worked in, what many call, the glory days of radio. The late Larry Shannon founded the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2002 for many of the same reasons; to honor the men and women who made radio magic. Larry and Kent Burkhart were invaluable in helping us form our organization. All the work done by our group is volunteer. When someone asks me what I get out of it, the answer is: watching the families of our Legacy inductees brimming with pride when we recognize their dad, mom, brother, or sister; seeing our Career Achievement inductees smiling ear-to-ear when we put the medallion around their neck. We want to make sure that their contributions are not forgotten.” Long continues, “Another important part of our mission is preserving the rich heritage of Georgia radio since March 15, 1922, when the state’s first station, WSB, signed on the air. One of our founding board members, Mike Kavanagh, began wsbhistory.com. When Mike passed away he left the site to the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame with one request: preserve it. This year we partnered with Georgia State University to achieve that goal. In 2013, we will work on a project with them to guarantee preservation, access, and continuity of the history of radio in Georgia, including inductees into The Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.” To learn more visit www.grhof.com.
Odds & Sods. If you work in news/talk radio, your input is requested by TroyResearch which is conducting an important national study of talk radio, talk syndicators and the decision making process in radio today. If you haven’t already taken this survey from TroyResearch, please click on this link: http://www.srvy.net/x/1.p?23554461110025479936. 100 respondents, randomly selected from completed surveys, will receive a $5 Amazon.com coupon. A summary of results will be shared with TALKERS magazine and posted at TroyResearch…..Talk show host Pat Campbell, who hosts the morning drive show on Journal Broadcasting’s KFAQ, Tulsa, will sit in for Charlie Sykes on Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon today…..Talk show producer Frank Morano, who produces Curtis Sliwa’s program on Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York – AM 970 The Answer – began his own Saturday morning program on the station. During his first show he interviewed Vadim Vassilenko – a Ukrainian man who’s been in jail in the city for five years without bail or a trial in a case revolving around a $4 million stolen credit card scheme….. Sports talk radio outlet WIST, New Orleans and its FM translator at 104.9 (K285FF) are being sold by GHB Broadcasting to Catholic Community Radio. GHB principal George Buck continues to be majority owner and operator of oldies WTIX-FM, New Orleans. Catholic Community Radio also owns WPYR, Baton Rouge.
Denver Radio Legend Charley Martin Dies. Denver radio fans are remembering longtime KHOW morning drive co-host Charley Martin, who passed away on August 17 at age 67 after a long illness. Martin had been in hospice care in Phoenix for some time. Martin co-hosted the “Hal and Charley” show on KHOW beginning in 1976 – a program that would air on the station until 1995 when the station took a more serious news/talk turn. Denver Post television critic Joanne Ostrow quotes Denver media watchers in her obit who note that the duo of Martin and Hal Moore ruled Denver radio during an era when “humorous DJs” were the order of the day. The duo garnered enormous ratings and had the honor of their program’s audio being heard on the radio during a scene in the 1980 movie “The Shining.”
By Holland Cooke
MCVAY/COOK & ASSOCIATES
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Admittedly, I had a tough time hearing these stations objectively, for two reasons:
• By the time I heard ‘em in-car, I had been predisposed by terms like “abortion” and “crib dead” in published reviews.
• Having programmed WTOP, Washington for seven years, I’m an aficionado, a tough grader for this format.
These conspicuous flops should NOT suggest that news doesn’t belong on FM, where some 80% of Time Spent Listening now occurs, and with music radio’s days now numbered. Heck, WTOP is the USA’s top biller, something no other station outside NY/LA/Chicago ever accomplished.
Merlin Media Ends FM News Operations in New York and Chicago. Industry watchers are beginning the post-mortem on Merlin Media’s all-news formats at WIQI, Chicago and WEMP, New York after yesterday’s announcement by the company that it is flipping the two signals to classic hits and alternative rock, respectively. In making the announcement, Merlin president Randy Michaels stated, “It was a difficult decision to make, but after a year of minimal audience engagement, coupled with the format’s inherent expense, I felt it was time to make a change.” Perhaps the most obvious challenge to the endeavor was the fact that in both Chicago and New York, Michaels’ stations were going up against entrenched news stations in markets that didn’t seem to be crying out for more radio news, primarily because they are already being served by well-respected and well-listened-to all-news outlets. WBBM-AM/FM, Chicago and WCBS and WINS in New York were tough opponents to challenge in the radio news game – not to mention the public radio stations in both markets that have loyal audiences and dedicate resources to covering local news. The ratings for the two stations seemed to bear that out. The initial concept of trying to reach women with a news product fell flat. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told the Chicago Tribune, “When you say, ‘This is for women and here’s what we’re talking about,’ it can come across as insulting. It’s presumptuous.” Harrison also told the paper, “To reinvent the wheel, when in fact the wheel is not broken, is difficult.” He said the station’s focus on stereotypically female topics like cooking, fashion and child rearing also turned off listeners. There are reports 27 staffers are out in Chicago with a similar number in New York, leaving a host of veteran radio news people looking for their next opportunity this morning. Meanwhile, another wrinkle to this story pertains to industry rumors and speculation that Merlin had plans to eventually morph its New York and possibly Chicago all-newsers into traditional news/talkers. The recent addition of Rush Limbaugh to Philadelphia property WWIQ after his departure from CBS Radio‘s WPHT had tongues wagging about the possibility of such a move happening in New York when Cumulus Media‘s contract with Premiere Networks for Limbaugh on WABC ends – especially with Cumulus developing Mike Huckabee (currently airing on crosstown competitor WOR) as a more “civil” alternative to Limbaugh. This brings up another question: Are the Merlin moves to music just a temporary measure?
Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Draws Intense Traffic to Talkers.com; Testament to Sports Talk Format’s Popularity. The recently published Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America, has generated so much traffic to Talkers.com that – at times – navigation on the site slowed to a crawl, forcing the IT staff at Talkers.com to increase the site’s bandwidth to accommodate the visitors. This massive interest in America’s sports talk radio personalities is indicative of the format’s popularity with both consumers and from within the media industry. TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey states, “Sports talk radio is off-the-charts popular in so many markets across the country – reflecting the importance of sports in American popular culture. The interest in the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk from people working within the business is one thing, but the attention from consumers of sports talk and the rabid sports blogosphere is astounding. The passion that exists for the format, the personalities, as well as the games and athletes themselves, shows why this talk radio genre is such an effective marketing tool for businesses at the local and national level.” The 2012 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk can be found here.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO, Providence Names Craig Schwalb Program Director. Craig Schwalb comes to Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO and 99.7 (and sister WPRV) in Providence from SiriusXM where he served as senior director of talk programming. He’s also worked at WKRK, Detroit; WNEW, New York; WRBZ, Raleigh; and EZ Communications, St. Louis. He replaces Paul Giammarco who recently resigned from the station. Cumulus SVP Mike McVay states, “We are excited to have Craig join Cumulus. We want the freshest and best minds in the industry…and he is clearly among the best.” Speaking about his new opportunity, Schwalb says, “The chance to program one of the country’s legendary radio stations, complete with great talent, a great news presence and great influence in a terrific city was a no brainer for me and my family. I am looking forward to working with Providence market manager Barbara Haynes and of course John Dickey, Mike McVay, Jim Mahaney, and everyone at Cumulus.”
Recent Affiliate Adds Push America’s Radio News Network Past 300 Mark. In fact, when combined with the TRN/Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” program, the affiliate total jumps past 320 for the news programming offered by Talk Radio Network’s ARNN. The content syndicator notes that recent affiliate additions in Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Memphis; Ft. Myers/Naples; Charleston, South Carolina; and others for the five three-hour news block programs are indicative of the strong demand for quality news-oriented radio content.
Talk Host Andrew Wilkow to Host Prime Time Show on TheBlaze. The online TV network TheBlaze – a digital product of Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company – announces SiriusXM talk personality Andrew Wilkow will host a new, one-hour news and talk show to debut later this summer. TheBlaze says the exact start date and the name of the program will be announced later. TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood states, “TheBlaze is building a primetime lineup filled with both established talent and the voices of the future. Andrew Wilkow’s strong independence and ‘no sacred cows’ approach to the news, issues and events of the day are perfect fits for TheBlaze as we continue to expand our programming.” TheBlaze notes it already produces three hours of prime time shows including “the comedy news show ‘The B.S. of A,’ the reality show ‘Independence USA’ and other programming throughout the day led by Glenn’s show, the news show ‘Real News’ and the kid’s show ‘Liberty TreeHouse.’ The network airs over 35 hours of original programming per week and will soon provide video content on a 24/7 basis.”
Talk Icon Larry King’s Internet TV Show Debuts. Larry King’s new internet TV show – a 30–minute news and interview show – debuted last night with Seth McFarlane as his first guest. The program is a joint venture between Hulu and Ora TV. Ora TV is a digital venture being funded by Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim Helu. In a statement about the new program, Larry King says, “I have always been driven to innovate, from my time on radio, to the first call-in show on national television to being an early adopter of online columns and Twitter…I love being able to interact directly with audiences and digital TV allows me to do this in new and powerful ways.” This evening, King’s guest will be Meghan McCain with actor Matthew McConaughey on tap for Thursday’s show.
2012 Presidential Campaign, Summer Heatwave/Crops Threatened, Negative Economic Forecasts, Global Debt Crisis and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/17). The 2012 presidential campaign; the nationwide summer heat wave and the threat to the corn and grains crops; negative economic forecasts; the global debt crisis and the financial markets activities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Ralph Barbieri Sues KNBR, San Francisco. Longtime San Francisco sports talk host Ralph Barbieri is suing Cumulus Media’s sports talk outlet KNBR claiming the station fired him in April based on his age and disabilities. Barbieri’s attorney tells the San Francisco Chronicle station officials told Barbieri he was being let go for coming to work late and not preparing. Barbieri had co-hosted the PM drive show with Tom Tolbert since 1996 as “The Razor and Mr. T” and attorney Angela Alioto says, “If you look at the ratings, Mr. Barbieri and Mr. Tolbert were number one or two until the day he was terminated. The fact is, before they knew he was sick, those excuses didn’t exist – and they renewed his contract.” In late 2011, Barbieri announced he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and the station renewed his contract a month later. Barbieri, who is seeking $10 million in damages, went on crosstown sports talk outlet KGMZ-FM to explain the suit and said Cumulus market manager Bill Bungeroth and OM Lee Hammer expressed to him he sounded tired on the air and chastised him for having to use the restroom often because of his medications. He says he was also criticized for being late because of medical appointments. The Chronicle reports Cumulus Media has not responded to requests for comment.
Glenn Beck Merges GBTV Under “The Blaze” Banner. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk radio star Glenn Beck has been operating two of his pioneering digital initiatives – The Blaze website and internet video station GBTV – under separate names. Now, Beck is moving GBTV and the new Marketplace by Markdown, under The Blaze umbrella. He states in an interview with CNN, “I didn’t like the name GBTV from the very beginning for a couple of reasons; one, it’s a little egocentric, and two, it’s television, which doesn’t describe necessarily what we do.” So Beck is merging the three properties in to what he calls “a world-class multimedia network” – The Blaze. Asked about Beck’s move by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “There are cases in which a personal name becomes a platform brand –such as Trump, Forbes and Ford – and they worked out well. But NBC wasn’t named Sarnoff, CBS wasn’t named Paley and Playboy wasn’t named Hefner. I think Beck is refining his approach to continuing his successful journey as a 21st century media pioneer.”
Dave Ramsey Jumps to News/Talk KRLD, Dallas. Nationally syndicated financial talk sensation Dave Ramsey is now heard on CBS Radio’s news/talk KRLD, Dallas from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm nightly. Ramsey’s program had previously been carried by Cumulus Media’s crosstown KLIF. CBS Radio Dallas VP of news/talk/sports Bruce Gilbert, states, “We are thrilled to have Dave Ramsey join our team at Newsradio 1080 KRLD. His wisdom, knowledge and passion have garnered him many fans in North Texas and we’re proud to be the new home for his growing and successful program.”
iPad Era Creates Opportunities for News Writers. Consultant Holland Cooke reports to TALKERS from Blogworld/New York and says opportunities for writers adept at concise delivery of information are everywhere. “As iPod and iPhone have, stable mate iPad is, once again, demonstrating how facile new devices change the way we consume information/entertainment content, and how we interact.” Read more from Holland Cooke at Blogworld here.
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Promotes Darren Davis to EVP of National Programming Platforms. Darren Davis has worked his way up from programming Clear Channel’s WASH-FM, Washington to his new post as executive vice president of national programming platforms for the company. CC states Davis “will work closely with Tom Poleman (president of national programming platforms) to oversee all aspects of the division and the ongoing development and execution of Clear Channel’s national advertising and programming integrations. He will continue to manage the Programming Operations Center; the Brand Management in-house format team; and the company’s highly effective Premium Choice network.” Poleman says of Davis, “Over the past few years, Darren has been instrumental in transforming everything from our systems of communication to the way we maximize our best programming assets. His efforts continue to give Clear Channel the competitive advantage and resources to be even more relevant and effective in the evolving market place, offering our listeners, partners and advertisers, products and content that nobody else can. He has clearly earned the opportunity to grow within our company and he will continue to be an integral part of our team and our future.”
JT the Brick Featured on Las Vegas Newscast. Fox Sports Radio Network late night talk host JT the Brick was recently featured on local television station KLAS-TV, Las Vegas in a piece on the effect of social media on sports talk radio. JT broadcasts his nightly FSRN program from studios in Las Vegas. In the piece, JT explains the pros and cons of using social media – Twitter, Facebook and others – to bring content to his show and to interact with fans.
Local Combo Serves Florida Panhandle Market During Flood Emergency. Program director Paul Stadden tells TALKERS magazine ADX Communications’ news/talk WNRP, Pensacola and sister country FM were on the scene keeping local residents informed when 13 inches of rain fell on Escambia County last weekend causing widespread flooding and some $150 million in damage. Stadden says, “Using the staffs of both stations, employees covered the flooded streets and reported full time from the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center until the state of emergency was lifted Monday morning.” Pictured here is WNRP news anchor Cooper Davis on the air during the marathon coverage of the disaster.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. CBS Radio’s all-news WCBS, New York takes home three New York State Broadcasters Awards at ceremonies held last night in Bolton Landing, New York. The station won for “Outstanding Local Newscast” (Hurricane Irene), “Outstanding Feature Story” (The Sock Lady-10 Years Later) and “Outstanding Local Sporting Event” (The New York City Marathon)…..WBZ, Boston’s Joe Mathieu will host Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo on today’s monthly “WBZ NewsWatch” hour-long interview program as the Massachusetts legislature finalizes its new fiscal year budget…..Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee show will gain a major market affiliate as it joins the lineup at Francis Battaglia-owned KFNX, Phoenix. The program will air live in the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daypart…..Las Vegas-based syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs is being honored by the UNLV Honors College with her selection as the “2012 Honors College Alumna of the Year.” The school states it is the “highest and most prestigious award given by the college and recognizes Wachs’ impact on UNLV through the significant contributions she’s made to society in your professional field and through her personal achievements.”
2012 Presidential Race, Russia Sends Warships to Syria, Rodney King Dies, George Zimmerman Legal Issues and Roger Clemens Acquitted Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/18). The 2012 presidential campaign; Russia’s announcement it will send warships to Syria; the death of historical figure Rodney King at age 47; the growing legal troubles for George Zimmerman and his wife; and baseball great Roger Clemens’ acquittal on perjury charges were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Woodhead in The Zone. That’s New England Patriots running back (and Nebraska native) Danny Woodhead (c) in the booth with KOZN, Omaha’s Damon Benning (l) and Mike’l Severe (r). The NRG Media sports talk station is broadcasting live from the 2012 NCAA College World Series – six hours daily for 14 days – and had the chance to catch up with Woodhead as he stopped by The Zone’s broadcast booth.
Hubbard’s WTOP Retains Top Biller Status; Clear Channel’s News/Talk KFI, Los Angeles Jumps to #3. For the second year in a row, Hubbard Broadcasting’s Washington, DC news juggernaut WTOP grabs the top biller title with $64 million billed in 2011. According to BIA/Kelsey’s 2011 estimates, all news was a big money maker and CBS Radio had a number of winning horses in the race. Its WBBM, Chicago came in at #4 billing $48 million and WCBS, New York followed at #5 taking in $47.5 million. CBS’ WINS, New York was #8 with $42 million. While Chicago market WBBM topped each of the New York-market all-newsers, it’s pretty impressive that CBS Radio billed $89.5 million between all-newsers WCBS and WINS. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s ratings and revenue news/talk giant KFI, Los Angeles was the only talk station to make the top 10, showing off the power of its high-cuming talk personalities – especially AM drive host Bill Handel and PM drive duo John & Ken – coming in at #3 billing $48.1 million (up from the #4 spot in 2010). And sports talk cracked the top 10 as CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York rounded out the list at #10 billing $40.5 million.
A View Behind the Scenes at #1 Biller WTOP, Washington. TALKERS TV recently visited the studios at Hubbard Broadcasting’s Washington, DC news operation WTOP. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison visits with WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo and news director Mitchell Miller as they show off the very high-tech, multi-platform and extremely well-staffed news operation (a whopping 120 employees) in the Nation’s Capital. View the video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.
Court Strikes Down Ban on Political Ads on Public Broadcasting Outlets. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has iced the ban on political and issues ads that could lead to a ton of such fare hitting the airwaves of pubcasters as the November presidential election approaches. A 2-1 vote of the three-judge panel upholds the ban on advertisements for goods and services from for-profit companies. But the decision is rocking the world of pubcasters – many of whom are not commenting publicly at this juncture – because they fear they will be, to a degree, pulled into the world of commercial broadcasters as a result of this decision. But the Court’s ruling was based on free speech grounds. Judge Carlos Bea wrote for the main opinion stating that the FCC ban was overly broad and there’s no evidence the educational nature of public broadcasting would be affected, “Public issue and political speech in particular is at the very core of the First Amendment’s protection. Public issue and political advertisements pose no threat of ‘commercialization.’ By definition, such advertisements do not encourage viewers to buy commercial goods and services. A ban on such advertising therefore cannot be narrowly tailored to serve the interest of preventing the ‘commercialization’ of broadcasting.” Dissenting Judge Richard Paez wrote, “For almost 60 years, commercial public broadcasters have been effectively insulated from the lure of paid advertising. The court’s judgment will disrupt this policy and could jeopardize the future of public broadcasting. I am not persuaded that the First Amendment mandates such an outcome.”
WOR Radio Network to Syndicate “Rasmussen Report” Feature. The vignette will be available three times daily and feature reports by the nationally known “political pulse-taker” Scott Rasmussen. WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “Scott has fast become the go-to guest for many of our programs when we want to let our listeners know where the country stands on the important headlines. We are thrilled to now take our relationship with him to this next level and share his fantastic radio content with radio stations across the country.” The WOR Radio Network makes the reports available to affiliates beginning Monday, April 16.
Tribune’s WGN Inks Deal for Studio Naming Rights with Allstate. Beginning May 1, WGN, Chicago’s showcase studio on Michigan Avenue will be unveiled as the Allstate Showcase Studio. WGN VP/general manager Tom Langmyer says, “We are proud of the partnership we have developed with Allstate over the years through programs like the community-driven WGN Radio Hometown Voices Tour and are pleased to extend that partnership to the Showcase Studio. The Showcase Studio has been a mainstay on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue for over 25 years and home to many legendary broadcasters. We are excited to announce this next chapter in WGN’s history with such a valued partner.” The sponsorship includes an interior studio wrap featuring WGN Radio and Allstate graphics and on-air naming recognition.
CBS Radio’s KYW, Philadelphia Awards Scholarship Money to “Newstudies” Student. CBS Radio’s KYW, Philadelphia has been offering the six-week student reporter program called “Newstudies” to high school juniors and seniors for more than 45 years. This year, 171 local students graduated from the program and KYW selected Upper Moreland High School student Gavin Lichtenstein to receive the Richard Monetti Scholarship award of $2,000 for being the student in the program demonstrating the most potential and enthusiasm. The scholarship was named after 1986 Newstudies graduate Richard Monetti who perished on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. CBS Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “KYW Newsradio is proud to continue the tradition of introducing high school students to the broadcast industry. It’s also nice to be able to award those that did exceptionally well and keep the memory of a former Newstudies graduate alive.”
WSBT, South Bend Adds FM Translator at 96.1. Schurz Communications’ news/talk WSBT, South Bend, Indiana acquired the FM translator from Christian station WFRN-FM last year for $135,000. Now, according to the South Bend Tribune, WSBT will add to what program director Bob Montgomery calls “the strongest signal in the market” – AM 960. Montgomery also tells the paper the station is continuing to focus on news and information for the Michiana market. “We’re still doing increased news in our morning show – trying an all-news approach. We thought since that’s why people listen to news/talk during their morning drive, we would concentrate on that.”
Weekend Home Show “The Money Pit” Hits 300-Affiliate Mark. The nationally syndicated home improvement show “The Money Pit” – co-hosted by Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete – announces it has added more than 20 new affiliate stations during the first quarter of 2012 to bring its affiliate roster to 300. The program will celebrate its success in conjunction with a special Earth Day broadcast from New York City on Friday, April 20 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm from the “Crossroads of the World” in New York’s Times Square. Tom Kraeutler states, “I am so grateful to our team for the hard work that got us to this point, to our loyal affiliate stations for making our content available to millions of people across the country and to our always growing list of top sponsors that have made this possible.”
Rick Santorum’s Suspension of His Presidential Campaign Is Top News/Talk Story for the Week of April 9-13. The news of Rick Santorum’s exit from the GOP primary race – effectively giving the nomination to Mitt Romney – was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week and landed at #1 on the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 was the 2012 presidential campaign in general. At #3 was George Zimmerman’s being charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin followed by recent reports of weak U.S. job growth and the stock market’s reaction at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America during the week, and is based upon ongoing research from TALKERS and is published each Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” adds KOA, Denver…..Genesis Communications Network’s Dr. Daliah Wachs program picks up WRJM-AM/FM, Charleston, Illinois and WHOW-AM/FM, Bloomington/Decatur, Illinois.
CBS Radio’s WPHT Touts New “Live and Local” Lineup. With WYD Media talk show host Michael Smerconish soon to air live on his flagship station WPHT, Philadelphia as he replaces Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh, CBS Radio is promoting its dedication to “live and local” talk radio on the Philly news/talker. Philadelphia market manager Marc Rayfield states, “We pride ourselves on being local and serving Philadelphians first. Having Michael broadcast live is another example of our commitment to the audience. The November election is one of the most important ever and WPHT will continue to offer a local platform no matter what side of the aisle you sit on.” WPHT’s morning show (for years hosted by Smerconish) is hosted by Chris Stigall, Dom Giordano is late morning talent, Smerconish takes over 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, Gary R’nel hosts evenings and the station promises to bring a new live and local PM drive show to the station to replace Smerconish’s delayed broadcast.
BIA/Kelsey Reports Radio’s On-Air Revenue Flat in 2011. The quarterly “Investing in Radio Market Report” from BIA/Kelsey indicates revenue from over-the-air radio rose a modest 0.4% over 2010 numbers to $14.1 billion in 2011. While the revenue for over-the-air was basically flat, digital revenue rose 15.1% to reach $439 million. In the report, BIA/Kelsey predicts online revenue will continue to grow at a fast pace to $505 million in 2012 and to $767 million in 2016. Political spending in 2012 is also expected to boost total radio revenue by as much as 3.5% over 2011 figures. BIA/Kelsey VP and chief economist Mark Fratrik says, “Although radio’s revenue ascent has been slow since its bottoming in 2009, the industry always picks up steam in an election year and is continuing to prove itself as a valuable local advertising medium, particularly as the integration between over-the-air and online improves. News stations, in particular, continue to be leaders in many markets by creating comprehensive over-the-air and digital portfolios of ad products and formats to drive deeper advertiser engagement and prove their value in the ad buying mix.”
All-News WCBS Tops New York Revenue Pile for Third Straight Year. Although revenue was actually down from year-to-year – billing dropped from $49 million in 2010 to $47.5 million – all-news WCBS was still the top biller in the Big Apple, according to Crain’s New York Business. The story includes analysis of the BIA/Kelsey report in the story above. The top five revenue-generating stations in New York for 2011 were: WCBS, CHR WHTZ-FM, lite rock WLTW-FM, all-news WINS, and sports talk WFAN.
Sports Talk Host Dan Sileo Takes Over PM Drive at WQAM, Miami. Former WDAE, Tampa talk show host Dan Sileo is joining Beasley Broadcasting’s sports talk WQAM, Miami to replace Sid Rosenberg as host of the PM drive show. Sileo exited Clear Channel Media and Entertianment’s WDAE several weeks ago after a number of years with the station. Beasley Broadcasting VP/market manager Joe Bell tells TALKERS, “I have followed Dan’s career for years and am very excited about his joining our team! Dan has a passion for sports, has demonstrated ratings success and at heart is a “Miami guy” having played on two UM National Championship football teams.
Production Talent Changes at Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM.” With longtime production voice Ross Mitchell leaving the show to pursue other interests, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” announces Dick Ervasti and Charles Thomas join the program. The network states, “Dick Ervasti now lends his voice to the program’s introductions, while Charles Thomas voices on-air announcements and promos, as well as “Somewhere in Time with Art Bell.” Based in Minneapolis, Ervasti is a veteran voice actor with credits ranging from “America’s Most Wanted” and the blockbuster film “Transformers,” to The History Channel and the CBS hit drama “NCIS.” Thomas also has a wide range of credits, which include commercials for Samsung, Chevy Silverado, The Home Depot, the Syfy original series “Warehouse 13” and Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Talk Radio Pioneer Bruce Williams Returns to Biz Via Podcast. Iconic talk radio star Bruce Williams, who left his regularly aired radio show several years ago, is returning to the business with new podcasts available three days per week. The podcasts are being produced from calls to Williams during other times. Fans with questions for Williams are being asked to call during specific times when Williams will be able to record their conversations – today from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm ET, for example. An e-mail blast from his office states, “Remember, this Wednesday April 11 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm ET, Bruce will be taking calls off the air which will air next Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 19 of next week he will be live taking calls from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET. For now this will be the weekly schedule. Think of all those questions you wanted to ask him for the last two years and were not able to and give him a call, even if it’s to just welcome him back. The call in number is 855-85-CALL TAE (855-852-2558). The show will also be on iTunes with the past seven shows available. All shows will be available at www.taeradio.com.
WGOW-FM, Chattanooga Names Brian Joyce Midday Host. Brian Joyce most recently worked at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston hosting a weekend talk program. His bio lists his varied work experience including: truck driver, bartender and stand-up comic, among others. Joyce tells the local Nooga.com that he considers himself part of the “radical center.” “This is the new movement, especially in my head, for politics. There will be issues where I will fall far to the left or far to the right. And maybe people won’t understand it at first. I don’t think media addresses this currently.” WGOW-FM news director Kevin West says Joyce’s hiring sends a signal about how they’d like the station to sound, “I want it to be a place where it is not predetermined what you’re going to get with any issue. I think Brian is going to surprise a lot of people.” Joyce’s program airs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on the Cumulus Media news/talk outlet.
“The Wall Street Journal This Morning” Airs in Denver. The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s morning drive – or early morning drive in Mountain Time – program “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” clears large market KOA, Denver. Station operations director Greg Foster states, “‘The Wall Street Journal This Morning’ helps reinforce 850 KOA’s news image during the early ‘executive drive time’ hours. More than just money news – ‘The Wall Street Journal This Morning’ is a perfect lead-in to our ‘Colorado’s Morning News.’”
NBC May Be Preparing to Give Matt Lauer More Air Time. News of “Today” show star Matt Lauer’s contract extension with NBC to remain with the program for many more years broke over the weekend. Now, it’s being reported that NBC is considering expanding the Lauer franchise – possibly by developing the “Today’s Professionals” segment in which Lauer bats around the hot topics of the day with talent such as Star Jones, Donny Deutsch and Dr. Nancy Snyderman – into either a fifth hour of “Today” or another show altogether. TVGuide reports the details are not set in stone but it also reports Lauer’s new deal with NBC gives him a share in the ownership of any new show outside of “Today.”
Santorum Drops Out of GOP Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Facebook Buys Instagram, North Korean Rocket Test, Trayvon Martin Case and Ozzie Guillen’s Castro Flap Among Top Stories on News/Talk Radio Yesterday (4/10). Rick Santorum’s suspension of his campaign for the GOP nomination and the larger 2012 presidential race, Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram, North Korea’s new rocket test, the Trayvon Martin case and Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen’s Castro comments were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey Addresses “Inherently Inefficient” Nature of Old-Line Media Business Model in Bain Capital News Story. The chief executive officer of the second largest radio station operator in America is one of several Atlanta-based business executives to speak to the Atlanta Journal Constitution about his business and the role private equity firm Bain Capital played in its progress. The piece ran Sunday (2/5) online and in print and was written from the perspective of giving insight into Bain Capital – the company formerly run by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. However it also probes the nature of corporate radio as it rides the rough surf of an economic downturn and a dramatically changing media business – complete with layoffs and job consolidation. The story notes Cumulus CFO Joseph Hannan explained to investors at a recent conference that they had to “wholesale re-engineer the way these operations work” in order to cut costs and that the company learned this process while working with the private equity firms. Hannan said the company was able to cut $70 million in costs. Lew Dickey tells the AJC the business has to work that way to survive. He says old-line media companies have become “inherently inefficient. We run the business as efficiently as technology permits us to do.” Interestingly, Bain Capital took a loss on its involvement with Cumulus. Cumulus ended up buying out Bain and the other private equity partners. It worked with other private equity firms to engineer the Citadel Broadcasting deal and it remains to be seen whether that will turn out to be a wise investment for them or whether they will suffer the same fate as Bain. Through it all, Dickey remains confident and tells the AJC he believes his company will add jobs – albeit in different sectors – during this year. “By the end of the year, we’ll have a net increase in jobs. They’ll be different jobs. That’s how business evolves.”
Exit of CBS Radio CHR Programmer and 92.3 Now PD Dom Theodore Fires Up Speculation About Sports or News Moving to the New York Signal. There was big news in the CHR world yesterday as CBS Radio’s format captain and PD of 92.3 Now (WXRK-FM, New York) Dom Theodore left the building. For those awaiting the (some say) way overdue addition of an FM signal for sports talk WFAN, this move gives them plenty to talk about. Still others believe one of CBS Radio’s all-newsers – WINS or WCBS – could end up with an FM simulcast. Right now it’s all guesswork but rumors that the rest of the on-air staff at 92.3 Now may have received news of its imminent demise along with Theodore’s departure have the message boards in the Tri-State area red hot with chatter.
Courtside Entertainment Group Names Rich Rapiti Senior Director of Affiliate Relations. Longtime affiliate relations pro Rich Rapiti is reunited with Westwood One founder Norm Pattiz in his new role as senior director of affiliate relations for Pattiz’s Courtside Entertainment Group. Rapiti will be based in New York City. Courtside president Bob Moore says, “Rich Rapiti is a unique guy. He has worked in the radio business his entire adult life and has mastered the art of working with radio stations in providing quality programming. We are extremely excited about having Rich on our team.” Speaking about his new position, Rapiti states, “I am thrilled to be the newest member of the Courtside team. Rarely does the opportunity occur where you can work with the likes of a Norm Pattiz and his executive team.”
XEPRS, San Diego Makes AM Drive Changes; Scott Kaplan Exits, Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth In. After 11 years at the station, morning drive host Scott Kaplan and co-host Billy Ray Smith are out as hosts of the program. Station VP/GM Tex Meyer says in a press release the change was made “after very careful consideration and evaluation of several important factors.” However, many San Diego media observers are saying Kaplan’s recent unflattering on-air comments about Mountain West broadcaster Andrea Lloyd put management over the top and forced its hand. Broadcast Company of the Americas brings San Diego market veterans Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth in to take over the morning drive show.
WGN, Chicago Holds “Cubs Song” Contest. Musically inclined Chicago Cubs fans are being encouraged to write a tribute song to their favorite baseball team and have the chance for it to become part of Cubs radio broadcasts all season long. Tribune Company’s WGN – flagship for Chicago Cubs baseball – will be the judge of the winning submission for this unique promotion. Here are the rules: Write an original song about the Chicago Cubs and e-mail it as an .mp3 file attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 29, 2012. The lyrics must mention the Cubs and WGN Radio, but may not mention names of individual players, coaches or Cubs management. Songs longer than four minutes will be disqualified. You must also include your name, address, daytime phone number, e-mail address, and age in the e-mail. Entries on behalf of a group must provide the required information for each member of the group. WGN will post up to 10 finalists on its website and give fans the chance to vote on the winner. The writer/performer of the winning entry will have the chance to get the song recorded in a professional studio and perform it live during Jonathon Brandmeier’s Opening Day broadcast on WGN.
WBNS-FM, Columbus Debuts “Off-Season with Bobby Carpenter.” The NFL season is over – more or less – until the draft in April and RadiOhio sports talker 97.1 The Fan (WBNS-FM) is taking advantage of the year-round interest in the National Football League by creating a weekly, Friday afternoon show co-hosted by former Ohio State standout and current Detroit Lions linebacker Bobby Carpenter and WBNS-TV’s Beau Bishop. Director of programming and operations Jay Taylor announces the one-hour show airs from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm featuring talk about the NFL, the upcoming draft and Buckeye football and debuts this Friday, February 10.
CNN Names Jim Acosta to National Political Correspondent Role. The cable news channel announces Jim Acosta is promoted to national political correspondent where he’ll appear regularly on several CNN programs including “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” and “John King, USA,” according to TVWeek. CNN SVP and Washington bureau chief Sam Feist states, “Jim has been an outstanding addition to the political team. He has emerged as one of the key reporters on the campaign trail and his astute reporting skills will only help to position the network to dominate this important election cycle.”
CBS Radio Renews with MLB’s Phillies; Games to Air on WIP-FM. CBS Radio’s news/talk WPHT, Philadelphia has been the longtime flagship for Philadelphia Phillies baseball and the company and team just struck a new multi-year deal to keep the team with CBS Philadelphia. This season the games will also air on sister sports WIP’s new FM signal as well. CBS Radio Philadelphia VP/market manager Marc Rayfield states, “It’s a very exciting time for WPHT and WIP, and this partnership with the Philadelphia Phillies only adds to the interest audiences have in these two leading radio stations. We look forward to the future with the most thrilling team in baseball.”
Talk Host Steve Cochran Ready to Return to Action After Health Scare. Chicago-based talk host Steve Cochran – who handles the afternoon program at Salem Communication’s WIND, Chicago and hosts the late morning program for KTRS, St. Louis (which is rerun in the evening) from his home in the Chicago area – took himself off the air last week and went to the hospital after feeling chest pains, according to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder. Cochran underwent some tests and was prescribed medication and reports he hopes to be back on the radio soon. Cochran tells Feder, “The doctor said I’ll be 125 percent, which is great news unless you really hate my show.”
More TV Work for TRN’s Phil Hendrie. Los Angeles-based, nationally syndicated talk radio personality Phil Hendrie scored a recurring role on the hit Fox TV show “New Girl.” Hendrie says, “The entire cast and crew is so hard working, gracious and welcoming. It’s an honor to get to work with them.” Last year, Hendrie taped an episode of the ABC-TV hit show “Modern Family” in which he plays the recurring character “Boots.” That episode is to air soon. Pictured here is the cast of “New Girl” – from left to right: Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone, Hendrie, Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson.
Romney Surges in GOP Primary, Super Bowl Aftermath, Syria Violence and Closure of U.S. Embassy and New Iran Sanctions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/6). Mitt Romney’s victory in Nevada over the weekend and his continuing lead over competitors, the aftermath of the Giants’ victory in Super Bowl XLVI, continuing violence in Syria and the U.S.’s closure of its embassy there and new sanctions levied against Iran were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Severe Nor’easter Cuts Power to Millions in Northeast; Radio’s Response to Disaster a Mixed Bag. Many TALKERS readers are aware that the bulk of our editorial staff is based in Springfield, Massachusetts and we are smack dab in the middle of the massive power outages and road closures so many in the Northeast are dealing with in the wake of the Nor’easter that dumped more than a foot of wet snow on the region on Saturday. As the region digs out, deals with the tremendous amount of downed trees, and utilities crews work to get power back TALKERS editors have been able to do a preliminary analysis of how radio handled the storm and its aftermath. There were stations that did an exemplary job providing round-the-clock information about road closures, dangerous areas due to fallen trees and power outages. We must recognize CBS Radio’s WTIC, Hartford whose morning drive host Ray Dunaway manned the overnight Saturday on the air with meteorologist Joe Furey keeping listeners up to date. However, there were many stations and station clusters that – due to manpower issues, in many cases caused by previous decisions to cut staff – were able to provide little local content and defaulted to syndicated programming. It is times like these that it becomes tragically clear that – apart from some shining examples of excellent public service – most radio groups have surrendered radio’s position as the first destination for news and information in exchange for bottom-line efficiency.
WWNC, Asheville, North Carolina Talk Host Matt Mittan Exits. The popular local Asheville, North Carolina talk host may not have been part of the mandated staff cuts Clear Channel handed down last week. The Asheville Citizen-Times indicates it appears Matt Mittan left of his own accord, citing a statement from CC Asheville to that effect. Mittan is tight-lipped about his exit but Citizen-Times writer Jason Sandford hints it might have been done in protest of the cuts that affected his show and other co-workers in the cluster. Sandford goes on to compliment Mittan for the excellent work he’s done in the past handling public emergency situations that affected the station’s listenership.
Rush Limbaugh to Play Town Hall in NYC. Premiere Networks superstar Rush Limbaugh makes no bones about his disdain for New York City’s politician and public policies but he’s returning to the Big Apple for a live event on November 29 at the historic Town Hall on West 43rd Street. Dubbed “Rush Live,” tickets go on sale today at 12:00 noon for the 90-minute show. A press release from Cumulus’ WABC, New York states, “The last time El Rushbo visited his New York audience was in 2005 to a sold out crowd. While Rush isn’t bashful about criticizing New York politicians and tax policies, he jokes that he’s going ‘behind enemy lines’ because he loves his New York listeners and his flagship station.”
Radio One to Put All-News FM on in Houston. This is the first time Radio One has programmed an all-news format and they’re doing it with the help of consultant Ed Shane. Radio One will drop the gospel music on KROI-FM at 92.1 and debut “News 92 FM” around November 14. The station has reportedly hired a stable of news pros including the former crosstown KTRH morning news team of J.P. Pritchard and Lana Hughes. Denise Bishop has been tapped to serve as the news director.
WCBS, New York Inks the Yankees to One-Year Extension. MLB’s New York Yankees will remain on all-news WCBS, New York for the 2012 season. The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick speculates that the one-year deal gives the two sides time to explore a long-term deal but he also states that the Yankees’ $14 million-per-season pact has not been profitable. Whether CBS Radio views Yankees baseball as a cume-building loss leader or a drain on its finances may be answered if and when the two sides agree to a longer extension or the Yankees broadcasts come onto the open market.
WWRL, New York Adds LGBT-Targeted Programming. Access.1 Communications’ WWRL, New York adds programming called “Equality Pride Radio” to serve the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community. The programming airs from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight and debuts this evening (10/31) following the Al Sharpton program. WWRL general manager Adriane Gaines states, “WWRL 1600 has created ‘Equality Pride Radio,’ a media platform where the LGBT community will convey information and be celebrated for their ideas, energy and accomplishments. We take great pride in the culturally diverse audience we serve with our current liberal talk line-up. With the addition of ‘Equality Pride Radio,’ we further reinforce ‘RL’s format of informative and entertaining radio.”
Jim Ladd to Host “Farewell Show” on KFI, Los Angeles. Southern California radio legend Jim Ladd will get a chance to say goodbye to his many listeners this Saturday afternoon from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm – although not on Cumulus classic rock KLOS-FM from which he was let go last week. Ladd tells the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan that KFI program director Robin Bertolucci asked him to do the show to give him the chance to say goodbye. Regarding Ladd’s one-time show, Bertolucci says, “Jim is synonymous with great music and Southern California and I know a lot of his friends and fans want to connect with him. Jim is a legend and it will be an honor to hear him rock KFI.”
Clear Channel Promotes Keriann Worley to Market Manager for Melbourne, Florida and the Keys. Keriann Worley moves from her general sales manager post at Clear Channel’s West Palm Beach cluster to become market manager for the company’s Melbourne, Florida and Florida Keys markets. Worley says, “I’m really honored that Hartley Atkins and Sherri Sanchez chose me to lead our Melbourne and Florida Keys markets. It’s an exciting time to work at Clear Channel, and we have a tremendous opportunity to expand our market share with integrated solutions and iHeartRadio. I am fortunate to lead a team that will embrace and utilize all our resources for continued growth and development.”