Rush Limbaugh’s Camp Responds to Media Matters Piece. The consumer media war against conservative talk radio – led by Media Matters for America – has, in general, not seen a lot of pushback from the program hosts themselves and the producers of the shows. But Premiere Networks-syndicated Rush Limbaugh, the chief target of criticism, fired back at Media Matters after a piece by its senior fellow Eric Boehlert was published in The Huffington Post that proclaimed Limbaugh’s program a ratings failure in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Limbaugh program spokesperson Brian Glicklich penned a response to Boehlert’s piece in which he takes Boehlert to task for, primarily, publishing the three stations’ weekly AQH numbers with the implication they are Limbaugh’s numbers before clarifying that later in his piece. He then adds his statistics about changes in Limbaugh’s ratings on those outlets. With just four months under his belt on these stations, one thing is for sure: Limbaugh is still the primary target for Media Matters and scrutiny of the these signals is something the industry will see a lot of over the next year or so.
You’re Here Because of Ben Hoberman. The recent passing of Ben Hoberman – the architect of KABC-AM, Los Angeles’ talk format in the early 1960s – has caused some of the industry’s great thinkers to look back at what made KABC and Hoberman so successful. Sabo Media CEO Walter Sabo writes today in TALKERS (5/6) that Hoberman understood the basic premise behind great talk radio: It’s a show. Sabo also says Hoberman followed a number of other prescriptions for success, including these two: He invested in new technology and he embraced fresh, often outrageous talent. Read Walter Sabo’s entire piece here.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Address AM Revitalization and Cross-Ownership Rules at PAB Meeting. At the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters meeting in Hershey on Monday (5/5), FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told the assembly that he wants to implement the workable aspects of the Commission’s AM revitalization program by the fall. He told the gathering, “Small broadcasters and large broadcasters alike want to revitalize AM radio. So do civil rights organizations and those favoring increased ownership diversity. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, the list goes on. Indeed, I’ve been amazed by the chord that AM revitalization has struck throughout the United States. When I made this proposal in September 2012, I never imagined the response we would receive…Time isn’t on the side of this grand old band, so let’s commit ourselves to getting this done by Halloween. Our proposals will not be a panacea for the real problems confronting AM broadcasters. But they will help. For example, I’ve heard from numerous AM broadcasters desperate for FM translators. That’s why we need to move forward with an FM translator window designed for AM broadcasters. If the FCC acts soon, that window could open next year. In addition to asking for comment in our NPRM on specific proposals, the Commission also solicited other ideas on how to improve the AM band, both in the short term and the long term. And we received many suggestions from station owners, engineers, and listeners. We need to sort through them and figure out which ones merit action and which ones need further study. Beginning this summer, I plan to hold a series of meetings with stakeholders to discuss these proposals. And I invite you to participate. If you have an idea for revitalizing the AM band, don’t be shy. It’s not too late to tell us what you think.” Regarding the cross-ownership rules, Pai is realistic about what can be accomplished, stating, “Unless the courts intervene, I see no prospect that the FCC will bring all of its media ownership rules into the 21st century in the next couple of years. But I do see a glimmer of hope when it comes to the newspaper-radio ownership ban. The Commission has signaled an openness to getting rid of this anachronism. And as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu put it, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’”
Newsweb Radio to Change Programming on Two Chicago FMs. The programming on two of the four stations currently airing Newsweb Radio’s progressive talk programming will cease and begin airing a Polish-language format under a time-brokerage deal. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has the story and he reports WCPT-FM, Arlington Heights at 92.7 and WCPQ-FM, Park Forest at 99.9 will begin airing the Polski.FM-branded format on June 2. Newsweb Radio president Charley Gross tells Feder the move will allow the company to focus progressive talk on its 820 AM flagship, 92.5 FM (which covers mainly the western suburbs and northwest Illinois) and its webstream while providing a source of revenue from the other two stations.
Saga Communications Net Income Down 9%. Although the company’s net operating revenue was up by 0.8% with $29,423,000 realized in the first quarter of 2014, net income for Saga Communications was down 9% from $2,949,000 in 2013 to $2,439,000 this year. Saga’s long term debt dropped from $58,828,000 during the same period in 2013 to $46,078,000 in 2014.
Odds & Sods. Changes in weekend programming at Cumulus Media’s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco put an end to Barbara Simpson’s weekly show…..Clear Channel adds a little FM strength to the market coverage of news/talk WRVA, Richmond. The formerly dark translator W253BI, licensed to Glen Allen, Virginia at 98.5 FM, gives WRVA more potential coverage in the northern part of the market…..The “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” presented by WYD Media nationally syndicated talk media personality Stephanie Miller rolls into Albuquerque for a show at Popejoy Hall on Saturday, May 10. Miller, along with fellow performers John Fugelsang and Carlos Alazraqui, will also do a show in Minneapolis on June 7.
Scianna Named BRN Director of Communications & Marketing. That is a brand new title for Bott Radio Network and the one landing it is Paul Scianna, founder/executive director of the first Missouri-based Family Policy Council associated with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Bott Radio Network president and chief executive officer Rich Bott states that, “This new role is consistent with the exciting growth of Bott Radio Network and will help facilitate our continuing expansion and use of new media platforms to better serve our listeners and broadcast ministry partners. Paul has been a longtime friend of the Bott family, and he has a passion for the mission, vision, and values of BRN. Paul will have a key role in serving our listening audience, broadcast ministry partners and business sponsors, as well as engaging community leaders, pastors and our associates as we implement new ways to advance our vision of getting the word of God into the people of God.” Scianna comments that he is “excited and humbled” to join BRN “at this point in the organization’s 52-year history. Bott Radio Network has established a strong foundation on which we can build to fulfill its vision of broadcasting the timeless message of hope.” Scianna previously was vice president of the college testing company ACT; manager of internal corporate communications for Sprint; and senior vice president of corporate and public affairs for the PR firm Fleishman Hillard.
Enjoying the Accolades. The staff of The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “WSJ This Morning with Gordon Deal” poses with their Excellence in Financial Journalism Award received from the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) which recognizes reporters from the national and local press whose work was published, posted or broadcast in 2013 and contributed to a better and balanced understanding of business or financial topics. The “WSJ This Morning” crew was honored with one of only 11 awards given by the organization for the program’s coverage of the government shutdown. Pictured here (from left to right) are: Mike Gavin, Gina Cervetti, Deal (holding the award) and Dave Duncan.
Obama WH Correspondents’ Dinner Speech, Mid-Term Election Prognostications, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Rice Withdraws from Rutgers Speech, and Clean Air Act Battle Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/5). Criticism of President Obama’s highly political speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner; the most recent polls indicating Democrats may suffer losses in the mid-term elections in November; continued aggression in Ukraine by pro-Russian forces; former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice withdraws from her speech at Rutgers University; and the political battle over the Obama Administration’s restrictions on power plant emissions as part of the Clean Air Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Ray Mariner to Program ‘106.1 The Ticket’ and ‘NASH FM 92.3’ in New Orleans. In a newly created management position at Cumulus Media’s New Orleans operations, programmer and air personality Ray Mariner begins leading the programming at country WRKN “NASH FM 92.3” and sports talker WMTI “106.1 The Ticket” on April 15. Mariner most recently was a personality on Dickey Broadcasting’s WCNN, Atlanta “680 The Fan.” He also served in the market as PM drive personality on Lincoln Financial Media’s CHR WSTR “Star 94.” Cumulus SVP of programming Mike McVay states, “Ray is a rare breed of programmer and talent. He has shown his programming acumen by performing and succeeding at the highest level. We’re excited to have him oversee the programming of both ‘NASH FM 92.3’ and ‘106.1 The Ticket’ in New Orleans.” Cumulus sports/talk format captain Jim Mahanay adds, “Ray Mariner is a strong addition to Cumulus’ programming team in New Orleans. He brings a great track record and tremendous talent to this important role at ‘NASH FM 92.3’ and ‘106.1 The Ticket.’ I look forward to having him lead our sports programming in this key market.”
Ron Jaworski’s WPEN, Philadelphia Show to Air Year Round. Former Philadelphia Eagles great Ron Jaworski has been hosting a weekly football show on Greater Media’s WPEN, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” during the regular NFL season but now the station makes his Wednesday evening 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm show a year-round deal. The station is kicking off the program with a live show from Riley’s Pub at Valleybrook Country Club in Blackwood, New Jersey tomorrow evening (4/9). Jaworski says in a statement, “I couldn’t be more excited to be extending the Ron Jaworski show to a year-round event. The NFL has become a 12-month league. It’s going to be fun talking with the Philadelphia fans about free agency, the draft, training camp and eventually when the games get started in September.”
NAB Show: Sound Bites from Sin City. Media consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas reporting for RadioInfo from the NAB Show and here is some of what he’s gleaned from the convention. Cooke writes that although this convention is not a radio gathering – that’s in Indianapolis in September – he says, “The recurring theme radio people hear here is that stations can’t only be ‘in the radio business’ anymore.” Sales skills are probably the most important a broadcaster can have these days and there’s a lot of that kind of advice to be had. During the RAB’s Lunch-N-Learn session, CEO Erica Farber noted that three of radio’s sales mistakes are: being afraid to ask for “The Big Ask”; constant rep turnover; and selling to the same advertisers over and over. Read more of HC’s report here.
Syndication: Love or Money? Moving a radio program into the syndication realm is a challenging venture and it’s a move that can be started for the wrong reasons. In a column published today (4/8), Global Media Services founder Tony Garcia writes that for a show to have a chance at success in syndication – even one that is successful on the local level – there are a number of questions the producer of the show must answer before moving ahead. Garcia says, “If you are going to get the attention of program directors, your show and your pitch must to be relevant and compelling. What is it you are providing for the station and its audience? Are you solving a problem? Are you doing something that the station can’t easily do itself?” Read more about what Garcia suggests a potential show producer must be prepared to answer in his piece here.
Immigration Radio Row Takes Place in Washington Tomorrow. The annual radio row – organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform – is dubbed “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” and the two-day event begins tomorrow at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. FAIR says it features the largest gathering ever of talk radio hosts focused on a single issue. Dozens of hosts from across the country will spend two days discussing immigration policy with listeners, lawmakers, law enforcement, immigration experts, activists and members of the media live from radio row while broadcasting their shows back to their home markets. Credentialed members of the press are welcome. In particular, reporters covering the national immigration debate will have access to a wide variety of personalities and perspectives all in one location. For more information, contact Kristen Williamson, press secretary at: office 202-328-7004/cell 847-651-8611.
Q1 Radio Deals Top $300 Million on Strength of WBLS/WLIB Sale. According to SNL Kagan, first quarter 2014 radio deals topped the $300 million mark in value. This big quarter was largely the result of the $131 million (8.5 times cash flow) sale of urban contemporary WBLS and gospel WLIB from YMF Media LLC to Emmis Communications Corporation. The other big deal was the $74 million sale of 10 stations from South Central Communications Corporation to SummitMedia, LLC. SNL Kagan says that compared to the 2013 average of 7 times cash flow, the average radio cash flow multiple rose by half a point in the first quarter of 2014.
NRG Media Reports Completion of Change in Equity Investors. The change in equity investors that NRG Media, LLC announced in October of 2013 is complete. The company says the change solidifies “the new partnership between the Midwest-based media company and Cyrus Capital Partners, an investment management company that actively invests in debt and equity securities on a global basis.” Cyrus has approximately $4 billion in assets under management and its investor base is comprised of sophisticated long term institutional and high net worth investors. NRG CEO Mary Quass states, “We look forward to a long relationship with Cyrus Capital Partners and wish to thank Waitt Media and McCarthy Capital for their support over the last 9 years.”
Odds & Sods. Salem Radio Network nationally syndicated morning host Bill Bennett celebrates his 10th year with the network. His “Morning in America” program was visited on Monday by special guests including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, fellow Salem talk host Mike Gallagher and WestwoodOne personality Mark Levin…..Newsweb Radio adds local gay rights author and activist Wayne Besen to the weekend lineup at WCPT-AM/FM, Chicago to host a weekly Saturday afternoon program called, “I’ve Got Issues.” Newsweb president Charles Gross says of the progressive program, “We are excited about this hard-hitting new show that will debate the critical local and national issues that affect our lives.”…..CBS Radio News White House correspondent Peter Maer is being awarded the Merriman Smith Memorial Award for Presidential Coverage Under Deadline Pressure. Maer is receiving the honor for his reports at the Hampton Roads, Virginia shipyard where the president traveled to make his case on last year’s sequestration fight. The White House Correspondents Association says, “Peter Maer’s story on the potential impact of budget sequestration did what White House reporters too rarely do: It humanized a national political story, and managed to do so on an extremely tight deadline, no less.”
A Day at the Races. WBAP, Dallas talk show host Chris Krok (left) poses for a photo with “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson (right) at the Texas Motor Speedway during its “Duck Commander 500” race held over the weekend. Also in the photo is Krok’s son Isaac (center). Krok broadcast his program live from the speedway on Friday (4/4) and then hosted 80 listeners who bought tickets to be part of “Krok and His Flock” on Saturday. Krok and his listeners were able to tour the garage and pits.
ObamaCare Criticism, IRS Scandal, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Common Core Controversy, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Search, and Student Athlete Compensation/NCAA Championship Game Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). Ongoing scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the move by House Speaker John Boehner to bring legal action against ex-IRS official Lois Lerner; Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and fears he’s preparing to arm Iran; troubles with the Common Core standards as states drop the program; the continuing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; and controversy over compensating student athletes and the run-up to the NCAA Championship game were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.