More Q2 News from Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey. Yesterday TALKERS reported Cumulus Media’s second quarter revenue figures and the fact that Lew Dickey largely avoided the Rush Limbaugh–Sean Hannity flap by saying he wouldn’t discuss it because they are still in contract negotiations. He addressed other topics TALKERS readers may be interested in: those 10 “code red” stations (big news/talkers bringing down the rest of the company); the health of the CBS Sports Radio Network project for which Cumulus is handling affiliate and ad sales; and the state of network talk programming. First, Dickey told investors the number of “code red” stations is down from 10 to 1 but didn’t specify which station still lags. Second, he states the CBS Sports Radio format is on 300 affiliate stations and is exceeding its revenue plans. “We’re highly encouraged by our early success and expect CBS Sports Radio to be a material growth driver for our company in 2014 and beyond.” And third, addressing the state of the Cumulus Media Networks (which includes syndicated talk – Huckabee, Savage, “Red Eye Radio” – as well as a lot of music programming) Dickey reports it’s been a bit “choppy” but he sees it settling down. “It grew for us in the second quarter and we look for it to be positive in the back half of the year. It’s a pretty fragmented space that ultimately begs for more consolidations… it did turn in a positive performance for us in second quarter.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can see the entire conference call here.
Wall Street Journal Radio Network Executive Director Nancy Abramson to Exit Post. Radio management pro Nancy Abramson tells TALKERS the company is reorganizing its management structure and she is moving on. She says she’ll remain with the company through mid-September to assist with the transition. As for the rest of the staff with which the industry is familiar, Abramson says the affiliate team of Susan O’Connell and Susan Moran will continue to service the affiliates of “The Wall Street Journal Report,” “The Wall Street Journal This Morning,” “The Dow Jones Money Report” and “MarketWatch.com Reports.” John Wordock and Patrice Sikora will continue to oversee the news product for The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch.com Radio Networks. Abramson says she is excited about new opportunities and looking forward to the next adventure. Abramson has served with WSJRN since 1996.
Greater Media Promotes Jake McCann to Director of Sales for Detroit Stations. Jake McCann moves from Greater Media’s Philadelphia stations where he was general sales manager at sports talk WPEN “97.5 The Fanatic” and classic rock WMGK. In Detroit he’ll be in charge of sales for rock WRIF, classic rock WCSX and currently-AC-but-rumored-to-soon-be sports talk WMGC. The fact that McCann has experience selling sports talk could be part of the reason McCann is making this move if, as expected, WMGC flips to sports in August. In a statement, Greater Media Detroit market manager Steve Chessare says, “Jake is the right person to lead our three station sales operation in the Motor City. His passion, dedication and leadership are exactly what we need to take our three outstanding radio properties to the next level.”
Radio One Gives Up on FM Sports in Cincinnati. After seven months, WCFN, Cincinnati “FM 100.3 The Fan” has let go most of its staff, cut ties with CBS Sports Radio Network and flips back to an urban oldies format as “Old School 100.3.” The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports that production manager Rob Williams was the only staffer to survive the change. Tom Gamble, Richard Skinner, Will Chambers, Chad Brendel, Rick Ucchino, Rick Broering, Jeremy Lance, former Reds pitcher Joe Price, and Steve Harris all exited the station on Tuesday morning. Richard Skinner, who hosted “Two Angry Guys” along with Tom Gamble, tells Kiesewetter he’s not angry about the change, “Radio is so cyclical, that you know your time is coming (to get fired). They (Radio One) didn’t seem to have a plan of attack, and they’re pulling the format at a time of the year when all the people are listening for football and baseball.” Clear Channel operates two sports talk stations in the market – WSAI, a Fox Sports Radio affiliate and WCKY, which uses ESPN Radio programming – both of which air largely national shows.
Holland Cooke: Radio from the Newspaper. Radio consultant Holland Cooke adds to the discussion about newspapers entering into the digital talk radio streaming business that’s been a major part of industry chatter in the wake of the Boston Herald’s announcement about the creation of Boston Herald Radio coming Monday, August 5. Cooke has experience in this arena and he offers advice to publications considering the move. Among some dos and don’ts: don’t separate the studio from the newsroom (the sound of busy reporters is crucial!); don’t assume good reporters make good talk hosts; do promote you’re emanating from a storied newsroom; and do make content available for download and later playback. Read Holland Cooke’s entire piece here.
‘News 92 FM’ and ‘Yahoo Sports Radio 1560’ in Houston Agree to Content Sharing Deal. Radio One’s all-news KROI and Gow Media’s sports talk KGOW in Houston agree to a content sharing deal that will have KROI producing newscasts for KGOW and the latter producing sports updates and actualities for KROI. Here’s how it will work: Beginning in early August, “News 92 FM” reporters will provide hourly, short-form news updates to “Yahoo Sports Radio 1560,” initially for use on nights and weekends, and ramping up to a full broadcast schedule shortly thereafter. In like manner, “Yahoo Sports Radio 1560” reporters will provide sports updates and actualities twice per hour for integration into the “News 92 FM” broadcast clock between 7:00 pm and midnight daily, and from 6:00 am to noon on weekends. Radio One RVP Doug Abernethy and Gow Media CEO David Gow began discussing the possibility earlier this year. Abernethy states, “Research suggests that news and sports stations have shared listener bases. So this makes sense for both stations. We have the best newsgathering and reporting resources in the city, and ‘Yahoo Sports Radio 1560’ enjoys an equivalent reputation in the world of sports. We’re leveraging our respective strengths so that the ‘News 92 FM’ listener can get a quick sports update from ‘Yahoo Radio 1560,’ and their listeners can get top-flight news from ‘News 92 FM.’”
ZWERLING: The Smartest Programming Move I Ever Made for My Radio Stations. You might be surprised to learn which syndicated host turned out to be so spectacularly successful for outspoken, independent radio station owner Michael L. Zwerling at his widely admired AM combo of KSCO and KOMY, Santa Cruz, California that he felt compelled to share it with the entire industry. Then again, you might not. Find out the answer and more in a new exclusive TALKERS opinion piece posted today (7/31) by clicking here.
‘Broadway Joe’ Joins Sports USA for Weekly Podcast. Sports USA announces NFL great Joe Namath will join the company to produce a weekly podcast for the company during the 2013 football season. Sports USA president Bob Moore says Namath’s podcast will begin in the middle of August and run through this year’s Super Bowl. Moore states, “It doesn’t get bigger than Joe Namath! Joe is extremely passionate about football and his insights are amazing. This podcast will give him the platform to reach all of his fans across the country and beyond.” Namath comments, “I’m thrilled to join the Sports USA team with my new weekly podcast. I look forward to expressing my opinions on both the NFL and college football each week from the beginning of the season all the way through the Super Bowl.”
WTKS, Orlando’s Russ Rollins to Face Bubba the Love Sponge in Wrestling Match. Yes, you read that right. As you see in the poster here, it’ll take place at the Arena Bowl in Orlando on August 17 and feature “The Monsters” vs “Bubba’s Army” as Russ Rollins & The Demon take on Bubba the Love Sponge & Kevin Nash with Marc Mero as a special guest referee. Rollins tells TALKERS it’s the “Battle of the #1 morning shows!” and pits Clear Channel against Cox Media in front of 15,000 to 16,000 screaming fans!
2016 Presidential Race, Weiner Sexting Scandal, NSA Surveillance Program, ObamaCare Implementation, and Bradley Manning Verdict Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/30). The possible candidates in the 2016 presidential election; the ongoing backlash from the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal; new developments in the NSA surveillance program case; the costs of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; and the verdict against Bradley Manning in the Wikileaks case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WGN, Chicago Revamps Program Schedule; Milt Rosenberg Out After 39 Years. The 87-year-old host of “Extension 720” will do his last program for Tribune’s WGN, Chicago on Thursday evening. In announcing its new programming schedule set to take effect on January 2, the station is eliminating Milt Rosenberg’s “Extension 720” program that began in 1973. New to the schedule will be a late evening show featuring former WLS-AM night host Turi Ryder who’ll broadcast from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. Other changes include a later start for Jonathon Brandmeier’s morning show – 6:00 am to 10:00 am – and a split shift for midday personality Mike McConnell who’ll host the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot and the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot. In between, the station adds “The Noon Show” hosted by author Carol Roth. Roth is a business strategist and former investment banker who frequently contributes to the topics of business and entrepreneurship on Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business, and WGN TV. As for Rosenberg, he tells Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder he has no hard feelings toward the people at WGN, “It’s certainly amicable as far as my relations with the people I deal with. There’s been no particular bad feeling, no insults, no shouting.” And Rosenberg indicates he’ll seek other opportunities to continue his radio career, perhaps with other spoken-word stations in the market.
Consolidation Hits the Ratings Industry; Nielsen to Acquire Arbitron. Consolidation is not for radio stations only. Today, Nielsen Holdings N.V. announces it will begin the process of buying Arbitron Inc. through the acquisition of the outstanding common stock of Arbitron for $48 per share in cash, representing a premium of approximately 26% to Arbitron’s closing price on December 17, 2012. Nielsen has a financing commitment for the total transaction amount. The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory review. Nielsen had tried to compete with Arbitron in the radio ratings business in the United States in the past but shut down that effort after minimal success gaining enough subscribers to make the project profitable. Clearly, Nielsen sees value in the radio ratings business as Nielsen chief executive officer David Calhoun states, “U.S. consumers spend almost two hours a day with radio. It is and will continue to be a vibrant and important advertising medium. Arbitron will help Nielsen better solve for unmeasured areas of media consumption, including streaming audio and out-of-home. The high level of engagement with radio and TV among rapidly growing multicultural audiences makes this central to Nielsen’s priorities.” With cross-platform marketing becoming so important Nielsen sees this acquisition as completing a part of that puzzle for marketers in the U.S. In a statement, Nielsen says – with Arbitron assets – it intends to further expand its “Watch” segment’s audience measurement across screens and forms of listening. “These integrated, innovative capabilities will enable broader measurement of consumer media behavior in more markets around the world,” says Steve Hasker, Nielsen president of Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions. “We will also bring local clients greater visibility to empower more precise advertising placement and campaign effectiveness.”
KKLA, Los Angeles Host Frank Pastore Dies After Motorcycle Accident. The 55-year-old former MLB pitcher and talk host on Salem Communications’ Christian talk outlet KKLA, Los Angeles died after going into cardiac arrest on Monday, December 17. He had been in a coma for several weeks after being involved in a motorcycle accident on the 210 freeway near Los Angeles. Salem Communications president David Santrella issued the following statement: “Frank has been an integral part of KKLA for nine years as our afternoon talk host and, in many ways, as a Salem ambassador to the Christian community in Southern California. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gina Pastore, their family and the KKLA family at this time.”
Beasley’s WQAM, Miami Inks Joe Rose to Contract Extension. Morning drive sports talk host Joe Rose – The Big Dog – signs a contract extension with Beasley Broadcasting to remain in the AM drive seat on WQAM for the next three years. The former Miami Dolphins tight end joined WQAM’s morning show in 1992. He also serves as color commentator for the Dolphins radio broadcasts as well as sports anchor for WTVJ-TV, Miami “NBC 6.” Beasley Miami VP/GM Joe Bell states, “Joe Rose is the gold standard for athletes who become broadcasters. He had a seven-year NFL career, but as good as he was, his broadcast career has eclipsed what he accomplished in the NFL. Joe is an easy listen…he’s the guy next door that you can talk sports with over the backyard fence. He has become the face of WQAM and we’re proud and excited to have him on board through 2015.”
TALKERS Presents Massive Four Month News/Talk Radio PPM Overview. As a follow up to yesterday’s (12/17) analysis by Mike Kinosian about how the non-stop, dramatic events of the past six weeks have presented radio, in general, and news/talk radio, specifically, with the challenge and opportunity to process an enormous amount of compelling material, TALKERS presents a PPM overview of some 140 stations leading up to and including this period. Reflecting on the format’s extremely dramatic November (2012) survey, where more than seven of 10 stations in our large sample were either up or steady (6+), compared to their October stats. Stations qualified to appear in this multi-faceted recap by ranking within the top 20 (6+) in any of Arbitron’s 48 PPM-measured markets (November 2012). Talk has the distinction of being the lone format to have at least one station in the top 20 of all 48 PPM markets. To see the survey please click here.
Rick Ucchino Named Sports Anchor at Blue Chip’s Soon-to-Be Sports WCFN, Cincinnati. When Blue Chip Broadcasting’s WCFN, Cincinnati flips to sports on January 2, local sports talk personality Rick Ucchino will serve as the station’s full-time sports anchor. WCFN will air the CBS Sports Radio Network programming when the new radio network debuts. Whether the station will carry all of the network programming is unknown at this time. Ucchino currently serves at Christian Broadcasting System’s crosstown WQRT “Real Talk 1160” hosting the afternoon drive program. In a Facebook announcement, Ucchino says, “As some of you might know, MOJO 100.3 is flipping to an all new CBS Sports station starting January 2nd. And I am happy to announce that I have officially accepted an offer to become their full-time morning sports anchor! I am grateful for the opportunities ‘Real Talk 1160’ has given me over the years but I am excited for the next chapter of my career!”
Doug Meehan Exits WTKK, Boston for TV Gig. It’s tempting to read into WTKK, Boston afternoon drive host Doug Meehan’s departure from the station as being related to rumors Greater Media plans to flip the station from talk to a music format in the near future, but there’s no indication that’s the case. Meehan, who took over the PM drive slot in 2011 and served as a TV traffic reporter and general assignment reporter at Fox 25 in Boston prior to that, is leaving the station to pursue a “major-market television opportunity” that he’ll announce soon. While Greater Media has been registering domain names that could indicate a flip to any number of music – or even sports – formats, the company has simply stated it is always considering programming options for its stations.
NBC/Dial Global Lays Out Weekend Schedule. The new NBC Sports Radio network announces its weekend programming schedule that affiliate stations will air beginning Saturday, January 5. The Dial Global–NBC Sports Group initiative is already offering “The Safety Blitz with Rodney Harrison” and now announces the rest of the weekend lineup. It includes the following talent: Brian Webber of NFL Network’s “NFL AM” morning show, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports, and Clay Travis, NBC Sports contributor and owner/contributor of OutKicktheCoverage.com. Also suiting up for the NBC Sports Radio weekends team is Newy Scruggs, sports director and on-air personality at NBC-5 Dallas/Ft. Worth and formerly of 105.3 The Fan, Dallas; Jason Page, recently withESPN Radio New York, among other stops, and Anita Marks, part ofthe New York Giants TV/Radio broadcast team and formerly of SportsRadio 105.7 The Fan, Baltimore. Plus, NBC Sports Radio update anchor Jon Stashower, formerly of ESPN Radio, adds a Sunday morning show and NBC Sports’ Rob Simmelkjaer will also host a weekend show. Other contributors to the programming will include: Hines Ward, Stan Van Gundy, Michelle Beadle, Amani Toomer, and Doug Flutie. The network has already launched late night and overnight shows and says it will launch the rest of its weekday 6:00 am to 7:00 pm lineup on Monday, April 1, 2013.
Gow-Yahoo! to Offer Bob Costas Programs. The Gow Broadcasting-operated Yahoo! Sports Radio network is offering affiliate stations two programs featuring Bob Costas. The first is a weekly “Costas Coast to Coast” program culled from the archives of the syndicated radio show that aired from 1986 to 1996. Yahoo! Sports Radio CEO David Gow states, “Bob is universally regarded as one of the top sports journalists. The ‘Costas Coast-to-Coast’ shows offer timeless content delivered in Bob’s inimitable style. We are thrilled to offer these very special programs to our growing number of affiliate radio stations.” The second program is a vignette titled “Stars and Stories” and is best-of content from his interviews over the years. Gow has secured the licensing of this programming via Olympia Networks.
Odds & Sods. Content aggregator TuneIn offers the 24 college bowl games being played this season and being broadcast by ESPN Radio…..WFED, Washington, DC morning drive host Francis Rose sits in for WYD Media nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish on his program on December 24 and 31.
KIRO-FM, Seattle Raises $500,000-Plus for Local Foster Kids. During its 24th Annual Holiday Magic Radiothon, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM helped raise more than $500,000 to assist foster children in the Treehouse program. The money raised will help provide each child in the program with one significant holiday gift along with support for programs and services throughout the year. Treehouse serves 6,000 foster kids each year through programs that help them succeed in school, fulfill key material needs, and provide important childhood experiences every child deserves. Bonneville Seattle VP/market manager Carl Gardner says, “The KIRO Radio community has stepped up once again We’re so grateful to have listeners and partners who care and stand ready to help wherever there’s a need.” Pictured here are PM drive hosts Ron and Don manning the radiothon mics on Wednesday, December 12.
Newtown Massacre, U.S. Gun Laws, ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Syria/Egypt Instability, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/17). The aftermath of the Newtown school massacre; debate over gun laws in the United States; the political fight in Washington over solving the “fiscal cliff” problem; continued violence and instability in Syria and Egypt; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio across the country, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.