Colin Cowherd to Exit ESPN; Destination FOX? Today’s announcement by ESPN that personality Colin Cowherd is exiting the company’s ESPN Radio – where his show is a part of the nationally syndicated daily lineup – comes after recent rumors Cowherd is being wooed by Fox Sports. Now we know that it’s true he’s leaving ESPN but there’s no word from Fox Sports, yet. At the same time, ESPN is not saying which personality will fill the gap in its daily lineup. Much is being made of the recent exit of Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann, suggesting a mass exodus of talent is taking place, but reports are that ESPN wanted Cowherd to stay but was ultimately outbid. The hot bet is Cowherd will join FOX Sports for a show on its Fox Sports 1 cable channel with a probable simulcast on Fox Sports Radio Network. ESPN issued the following statement today from president John Skipper: “We’ve enjoyed a mutually beneficial run with Colin for over a decade. He came to national prominence on ESPN with his unique perspective on sports and society. Endings also bring new beginnings, for ESPN and Colin, and we thank him and wish him the best.”
Entercom Elevates Nite to Austin’s VP/Programming; Will Oversee News/Talk KJCE. In a move that will take her from California’s capital city to a return to Texas’ state capital, Nikki Nite is leaving the programming chair at Entercom Sacramento mainstream CHR KDND “The End” and hot AC KUDL “Star” to succeed Cat Thomas as the company’s vice president of programming and operations in Austin. Entercom Austin vice president and general manager Stephanie Callihan comments, “After [Nikki’s] incredibly successful run at Entercom Sacramento, we are thrilled to welcome [her] back to Texas. Nikki’s experience and leadership will help continue the momentum we have with our stations in the Austin market and help us grow deeper relationships with our listeners and fans.” Nite remarks, “I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to build upon the solid foundation Cat Thomas has put in place. Returning to Austin is not only professionally rewarding, but also personally rewarding. I will be doing what I love, closer to family. Entercom is a company full of talented, good people; I am blessed to be able to continue to grow my career with this team.” Prior to joining Entercom in 2009, Nite worked in Dallas (at KVIL and KMVK); Greenville, South Carolina (at WFBC-FM and WGCV); and in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (at WWXM). In just over two weeks (8/3), she begins her new duties overseeing programming and operations of Entercom Austin adult contemporary KKMJ “Majic 95.5″; hot AC KAMX “Mix 94.7″; KKMJ-HD3 “96.3 RnB,” and talk KJCE. Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio‘s June PPM ratings sweep, “Magic” ranks #7 (4.8); “Mix” #8 (4.4); KKMJ-HD3 #12 (3.6); and KJCE is #26 (.2).
Play-By-Play Coup for Cumulus in Chicago. The company officially announces that its news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago is acquiring the play-by-play rights for both the MLB’s White Sox and the NBA’s Bulls. Both deals begin in 2016 – the White Sox in April and the Bulls in November – and run through 2021. White Sox games have been heard on CBS RADIO’s sports talk WSCR for the past nine seasons and ESPN O&O WMVP has been the Bulls flagship since the 1996-97 season. Cumulus Media Chicago VP and market manager Peter Bowen says in a statement, “Cumulus Media and WLS AM 890 are honored to become the radio home of the Bulls and White Sox, two of Chicago’s very best sports brands. Adding both teams to our programming schedule allows us to continue to capitalize on the strong growth and success Cumulus is enjoying in the Chicago market. We cannot wait to bring year-round sports to some of the world’s greatest fans.”
WABC, New York Presents Special Program ‘Garner: One Year Later.’ The program is airing on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York this week in the 5:00 am and 5:00 pm hours. “Garner: One Year Later” is a three-part program that presents views one year after 43-year-old Eric Garner died after a police officer subdued him with an alleged chokehold. His death sparked “discussion, outrage and protest about police brutality in New York City. It eventually evolved into the proverbial epicenter of debate for the entire nation.” WABC says news staffer Ken Duffy spoke with Erica Garner, Garner’s eldest daughter; Ed Mullins, head of the NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association; and Alex Vitale, sociology professor from Brooklyn College. The special series seeks to answer pressing questions: What’s the impact on Garner’s family? How are police officers viewed in the eyes of the public? And what else can be done to improve police-community relations? In addition to airing on WABC, the program is available at wabcradio.com.
Wilhoit Joins Cumulus Pensacola as VP of Sales. Advertising executive Davey Wilhoit joins Cumulus Media as vice president of sales for the five-station Pensacola cluster. Wilhoit is a Pensacola native who most recently was multimedia advertising manager for the Pensacola News Journal. Cumulus SVP Gary Pizzati says, “We’re thrilled to have Davey at the sales helm of our Pensacola group of stations. He has years of experience managing a team of business-to-business sales professionals driving high levels of solution-based sales activity each day. Davey will bring that same pace of business inside the walls of Cumulus in Pensacola. His deep knowledge of digital, newspaper and yellow page sales will bring a new and fresh perspective to radio in this market.” Cumulus operates news/talk WCOA, classic hits WJTQ, AC WMEZ, urban AC WRRX, and country WXBM “NASH FM.”
Larry Elder Show to Air on KRLA, Los Angeles. Beginning August 3, the Larry Elder show will air on Salem Media’s news/talk KRLA, Los Angeles from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm nightly. Elder’s program is being distributed by CRN Digital Talk Radio. A press release states that Elder will “celebrate the announcement later today at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley when he hosts an event with activist and author Ann Coulter.” Elder’s program is streamed live on his website and at CRNTalk.com.
Iran Nukes Deal, Illegal Immigration-Steinle Slaying, Planned Parenthood Abortion Remains Story, 2016 Presidential Candidates, Caitlyn Jenner at ESPYs, Bill Cosby Rape Allegations, Confederate Flag-Stone Mountain Issues, ‘El Chapo’ Escape-Mexican Corruption, NASA’s Pluto Images Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/15). Analysis of the nuclear deal between Iran and the U.S.; ongoing debate over the illegal immigration policy in the U.S. and the slaying of Kate Steinle, allegedly by an illegal with a criminal past; the furor over a videoed discussion with a Planned Parenthood doctor about which body parts are desired by researchers; the activities of the candidates for president in 2016; Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance at the ESPYs and her receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage; the evolving story of allegations Bill Cosby gave drugs to women to have sex with them; the controversy over the flying of the Confederate flag and the push to remove the Confederate generals carving from Stone Mountain in Georgia; the escape from prison of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Mexican corruption; and the images from NASA’s New Horizons craft from Pluto were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Radio Show Presents a Talk Radio Panel (or Was It Really an All News Radio Panel?). The NAB/RAB Radio Show presented a panel for the talk radio format semi-prejudicially titled “ Is News the New Talk for Radio?” featuring Phil Boyce, VP spoken word format, Salem Communications; Mark Masters, president/CEO, Talk Radio Network; and Ed Shane, CEO, Shane Communications. It was moderated by Jim Farley, VP news and programming, WTOP-FM, Washington, DC. Farley set the topic up by mentioning the Rush Limbaugh ad boycott and asked the question “[With big time advertisers shying away from talk radio and controversial products] is it time to consider all-news as the new talk for the future?” He referenced the success of WTOP which is undeniable. The station has been the #1 biller in the nation for two straight years. Ed Shane gave a case study for what they have done at “92 News” in Houston, a Radio One station. He said there were three things you have to have if you want to create an all-news station: guts, money, and patience. He talked about the expense of running that station, saying they took on $2 million in talent costs and had to re-build the radio station’s facility. Shane played some of the imaging for the station which uses the slogan “All News, No Spin.” TRN exec Jim Watkins subbed for Masters who was unable to attend at the last minute. Watkins said smaller stations can do the all-news format using his company’s America’s Radio News Network. He claimed 500 affiliates when you add them up. (Some are taking the top-of-the-hour product, just under 200 take the morning drive show and the other stations taking some of the other long-form shows, AARN has all-news product from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.) BOYCE STEPS UP TO THE PLATE: After all the conversation about how talk is dead and all-news is the savior, Phil Boyce started by saying “I feel like the last man standing at the U.S. embassy in the Middle East, with the protesters outside calling for my head and chanting ‘Death to Talk’.” Boyce repeated the line “Listeners have a Vote” and did his best to convince the crowd that while there was some short-term damage from the Rush boycott, it did not hurt traditional talk radio. He mentioned that both Sean Hannity and Mark Levin told him this week their sales are up 20%-25% over last year, despite the boycott. “There is a website out there listing all the advertisers Rush still has on encouraging the protestors to go after.” Boyce mentioned some of them and said there were 68 of them on this list. “Not bad for a show that has 18 minutes a day of network commercial time.” He then pointed out, “The Premiere sellers have figured out that there are a lot of advertisers who are bullet-proof when it comes to ad boycotts. They just don’t care because they know talk radio moves product, and they know the 1,000 angry e-mails or Facebook posts do not come from their client base. If the angry tweet says, “We’ll never shop with you again,” they can check their database and discover they never shopped there in the first place. These direct advertisers are who we need to do business with. The transactional big-name advertisers may never come back, but there are plenty out there who can replace them.” Boyce went on to mention the new movie “2016 Obama’s America” had record box office business and used talk radio as its primary advertising medium. He said, “This ad boycott thing is nothing new. They tried to kill Glenn Beck two years ago, and at one point had a list of 100 advertisers who would not advertise with him and they claimed victory in driving him off the Fox News Channel, dancing on his grave. The problem was, he was not in that grave and one year ago this month he went out and formed his own TV news channel with 300,000 subscribers.” Boyce did the math for the panel…$32.4 million a year, from subscriptions. “That does not count his book sales, appearance fees, and the $100 million dollar five-year deal they just did with Premiere. What they meant to kill him only made him stronger.”
2012 Marconi Awards Presented at Radio Show. The 2012 National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Radio Awards were announced last night (9/20) at the annual NAB Marconi Radio Awards Dinner & Show held at the Radio Show in Dallas. Winners in the spoken-word formats included: “Legendary Station” – KSTP, St. Paul; “Network/Syndicated Personality” – Dan Patrick, Direct TV/Premiere Networks; “Major Market Station” – WTOP-FM, Washington, DC; “Medium Market Station” – WHO-AM, Des Moines; “Major Market Personality” – Mike Francesa, WFAN, New York; “Medium Market Personality” – Jan Mickelson, WHO-AM, Des Moines; “News/Talk Station” – WTOP-FM, Washington, DC; and “Sports Station” – WEEI-FM, Boston. Marconi finalists were selected by a task force of broadcasters, and the winners were voted on by the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Selection Academy. The votes were tabulated by an independent firm.
NAB/RAB Radio Show Wraps Up Today. More than 2,000 radio broadcasters from around the nation are wrapping up their gathering and saying their goodbyes at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas this afternoon as the annual “Radio Show” jointly presented by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) comes to its conclusion. Most observers agree it has been a productive and successful three-day industry event. The main topics covered include radio’s pressing need for the smartphone radio chip to be “turned on” as well as debate and concern over music royalty fees; the pros and cons of streaming; the challenges facing commercial spot sales/programming; living in a PPM world; cross platform audience measurement; and the challenge of generating digital revenue. On a basic level, the underlying concern of the conference was the very survival of terrestrial radio in the unfolding digital era and mapping out a course to achieve the industry’s vitality and relevance in it.
Roger Hedgecock to Appear on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” Show on HBO Tonight. Radio America nationally syndicated talk show host Roger Hedgecock will get national TV exposure on a very popular HBO show as he’ll be one of the guests on “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Hedgecock will appear on the program with Chris Matthews, Salman Rushdie, Eugene Jarecki and Rana Foroohar. The program airs live tonight from 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm ET.
Mel Making Out Swell. According to an SEC report on insider trading Siruis XM CEO Mel Karmazin has exercised options and sold over 76.7 million shares of Sirius XM stock since April 18 – including 20.36 million shares on Wednesday (919). That brings his overall take to $172 million since April 18. Either he’s raising a lot of money for something, or he’s exercising options before he either leaves on his own or is asked to leave by Liberty Broadcasting head John Malone who has been adding to his stake in Sirius as Mel has been cashing in shares. Definitely fuels speculation that Mel’s days with Sirius might be numbered.
Advice for the Industry in Tough Times. Nationally syndicated talk radio sensation Dave Ramsey is pictured here speaking to a packed Wedgwood Ballroom inside the Hilton Anatole at the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Dallas yesterday (9/20). In this Super Session titled “Succeeding in This Economic Environment,” Ramsey delivered inspirational ideas and strategies for thriving in the radio industry. The Ramsey organization says the proven business concepts discussed were developed over Ramsey’s 20 years in the radio business.
WCOA, Pensacola PD and ND Allen Caudle Exits Station. TALKERS hears program director and news director Allen Caudle leaves Cumulus Media’s Pensacola, Florida news/talk outlet WCOA after four-and-a-half years on the job. He’s looking for his next opportunity and can be reached at 850-324-7149.
Tax Relief for New Jersey Town Credited to Governor’s Show on New Jersey 101.5. A bout of tax relief coming to residents of Monroe Township New Jersey is being credited to the monthly “Ask the Governor” show on Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5. Governor Chris Christie hosts the monthly show with NJ101.5’s Eric Scott and during the August program callers protested high property tax increases. Christie blasted Monroe Township Mayor Richard Pucci and promised to look into the matter. He recently reported on Jim Gearhart’s morning drive show on NJ101.5 that the tax hike violated the state’s property tax increase cap and all residents would be credited for the overage. Christie is pictured here at New Jersey 101.5’s studios. (Photo by Annette Petricionne.)
Premiere Networks Host Clyde Lewis Featured in Portland Magazine Piece. The very popular Portland, Oregon-based nighttime talk show host Clyde Lewis was the subject of a lengthy piece in the city’s About Face magazine on his radio show “Ground Zero” that’s being syndicated nationally by Premiere Networks. The extensive interview covers Lewis’ takes on any and all conspiracy theories and paranormal subjects that can be part of his show content. Lewis’ program is produced by Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL, Portland, airs nightly from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am PT and was put into national syndication by Premiere after it became one of the most-listened-to shows on Portland radio. Read the piece here.
New Studios Dedicated. Tribune’s WGN, Chicago will officially unveil its refurbished Allstate Showcase Michigan Avenue studio on the Garry Meier show this afternoon. This past May WGN announced the new partnership with longtime sponsor Allstate. Following the station’s move to the 7th floor of Tribune Tower this summer, the Allstate Showcase Studio underwent technical upgrades and an interior studio wrap featuring WGN Radio and Allstate graphics was installed.
Waikiki Weekend. Fox Sports Radio Network “Loose Cannon” Vic “The Brick” Jacobs (r) is pictured here with one of the winners of the show’s annual “Waikiki Weekend” contest getting ready for a canoe ride. “Loose Cannons” Jacobs, Steve Hartman and guest co-host and NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson accompanied the winners to Waikiki last weekend for the trip that included a live broadcast and, of course, lots of fun Hawaiian-style.
Mitt Romney’s 47% Comments Top the Talkers TenTM for the Week of September 17-21. Mitt Romney’s comment that President Obama’s 47% support was dependent on government and the fallout from it was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Following at #2 was the anti-America protests tied with the Libya consulate attacks analysis. At #3 was the cost of ObamaCare for the middle class and at #4 was the presidential race polls. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See the charts in their entirety for this week here.
Feature Series: Walter Sabo on FM Talk. Sabo Media president Walter Sabo writes a special four-part series on the successful implementation of talk on FM this week at Talkers.com. In the first installment, Sabo explains the importance of proper format execution in order to build cume. “You rarely hear formatic structure on any talk station – you’ll hear long periods without a host name, station name, phone number – and that’s why talk stations tend to have low, vulnerable cumes. Applying formatics to talk is hard work, but completely achievable.” Too often, talk radio shows sound formatically different from one another even though they are placed back-to-back on a station. That can be addressed by coaching formatics, says Sabo. “That means that your hosts have to handle all elements in the same manner as every other host, just like music DJs. That does not mean they should have the same opinions. That is not desirable.” Read more here.
Chris Sargent Named Operations Manager at Clear Channel Portland. Chris “Sarge” Sargent has been serving as program director at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk KEX, progressive talk KPOJ and classic hits KFBW-FM (where he also handled morning drive) in Portland, Oregon. Now, he’s upped to operations manager for the seven-station cluster. Vice president and market manager Robert Dove states, “I’ve been fortunate to have Chris Sargent working alongside Tommy Austin the last three years and the luxury of having two operations managers in the building, which certainly made my search a lot easier. I know Chris’s leadership along with the help and guidance of Brad Hardin, our senior vice president of programming, will lead to continued ratings success and revenue growth for our Clear Channel cluster in Portland.”
Cumulus Media Flips Pensacola FM to Talk. The former adult hits WJLQ-FM, Pensacola changes call letters to WCOA-FM and begins a partial simulcast of sister news/talk WCOA-AM. The new News Talk 100.7 is simulcasting the 6:00 am to 8:00 am hours of WCOA-AM’s morning drive show with Jim Sanborn and Don Parker, then breaks away to air the WMAL, Washington-based Chris Plante show until 11:00 am. Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee follows from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The rest of the day is: Phil Valentine from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Cumulus Media’s Mark Levin from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and John Batchelor from 8:00 pm to 12:00 midnight and Cumulus Media’s “Red Eye Radio” for overnights.
Richard Neer: Prioritize to Stay on Top of the Busy Sports World. TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer offers some thoughts on staying atop of the busy sports world – especially now with NHL and NBA playoffs, MLB action and NFL offseason activity heating up. Neer writes that sports talk hosts may find two or more events scheduled for the same night. “Obviously you can’t watch every minute of every game. And, oh by the way, you do have a life apart from the job. There are family and friends who deserve attention and other cultural aspects of life that should be acknowledged lest you become too narrowly focused. So, how can you juggle all these priorities and stay current with your demanding job?” Find out here.
Changes Coming to Sports WQXI, Atlanta. Management at Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk WQXI, Atlanta – Sports Talk 790 The Zone – is tweaking the schedule as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho. The morning drive show, “Mayhem in the AM,” is extended to 6:00 am to 11:00 am as is the PM drive show of Mike Bell and David Archer who move earlier to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. That leaves a midday show of 11:00 am to 2:00 pm to be filled and the station currently employs Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham as well as “Two Live Stews” Doug and Ryan Stewart. Ho notes that Barnhart and Durham are contractually allowed to take May and June off since they work long hours the rest of the year at non-radio station jobs. Ho also reports Barnhart’s and Durham’s ratings are better than the Stews but their availability in May and June presents a complication. GM Andrew Saltzman tells the paper they expect to have the schedule squared away in the near future.
Dennis Prager Publishes New Book. Salem Radio Network syndicated talk show host Dennis Prager begins promoting the publication of his latest book tonight (4/24) with an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity program. The book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (Broadside Books 2012), centers around Prager’s argument that humanity has a choice between American values and its two alternatives: Islamism and European-style democratic socialism. Prager suggests the American value system is the most viable method of creating a good society.
KCBS, San Francisco Newsman Bob Melrose Retires After 36 Years. Longtime KCBS, San Francisco reporter Bob Melrose retires from the CBS Radio station after 36 years at the venerable all-news outlet. Melrose’s career covering news in Northern California included come of the highest visibility cases and colleagues recall how Melrose had a knack for being there when news broke. A retrospective in the San Jose Mercury News notes Melrose covered the Jonestown massacre, the discovery of murdered 12-year-old Polly Klaas’ body and many other stories important to the region and the nation.
Voice Over Pro Jim Cutler Recognized by Fisher House. Voice over pro Jim Cutler (pictured here holding his plaque) was recently honored by the Fisher House Foundation for his pro bono work for the charity. Cutler provided the voice over work for a number of Fisher House projects, including this year’s Memorial Day radio special titled, “A Grateful Nation.” The Fisher House Foundation provides no-cost housing and assistance to the families of America’s servicemen and servicewomen while they recover at VA and military hospitals.
2012 Presidential Campaign, France Presidential Elections, Secret Service Scandal, Euro Zone Jitters, SCOTUS to Hear AZ Immigration Law Case and John Edwards Trial Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/23). The 2012 presidential campaign; the surprise showing of French far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections; the growing Secret Service scandal; trouble in Europe as some euro zone countries battle to beat debt issues; the coming Supreme Court hearing of the Arizona illegal immigration law; and the beginning of the John Edwards campaign finance wrongdoing trial were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.