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.
Merlin Media Abandons News Format in New York and Chicago. As indicated earlier today, Merlin Media held a major pair of staff meetings in New York and Chicago this morning and as speculated it was to announce a significant change in the operations of its two major properties in these markets. According to reports, the Randy Michaels-headed company flipped WEMP, New York‘s “FM News 101.9” shortly after 10:00 am ET to “New Rock 101.9.” Chicago’s “FM News 101.1” (WIQI) has been recast as a hot AC, “i101.” It has been less than a year since these all news formats were launched with a tremendous amount of industry buzz – but the ratings and critical evaluations fell terribly short of expectations.
Paul Finebaum, Citadel and Former GM Bill Thomas Settle Lawsuit. Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum, Citadel and former WJOX, Birmingham general manager Bill Thomas have reached an amicable settlement in their claims regarding Finebaum’s employment at the station, now owned by Cumulus. The terms are not being released but the upshot is Finebaum will work out his contract with the station that ends in January of 2013. Whether he will negotiate to re-sign with the station beyond that or seek to join another broadcast outlet is unknown. In a joint statement, Thomas and Finebaum say that claims were contested and the settlement in no way constitutes an admission by any party concerning the validity or invalidity of any claim, counterclaim, or defense raised in the litigation. Further, Finebuam says, “I am particularly pleased that the claims involving Bill Thomas are resolved. I have known Bill for many years and have valued his advice. We both regret that we became personally entangled in what was essentially a business dispute with former management and we look forward to repairing our relationship.” Cox Media’s crosstown sports talk outlet WZNN continues to express interest in acquiring Finebaum’s services after his deal with Cumulus runs out, as reported in the Birmingham News. But Finebaum’s attorney, Russ Campbell, says his client will issue no comment on his future intentions. The original legal claims included Finebaum’s contention that Thomas and Citadel coerced him into signing a contract addendum that worked against his best interests and Citadel claimed Finebaum negotiated with another party in violation of his contract. Finebaum’s show is heard in some 30 markets in the Southeast and is also available on SiriusXM.
Courtside Entertainment Group Breaks Simone Bienne Out with Daily Features. British psychosexual and relationship therapist Simone Bienne – a co-host on the nightly nationally syndicated “Loveline” radio show – is featured on a new twice-daily vignette called “Lovelink with Simone Bienne.” Each evening Bienne is part of the “Loveline” show with Dr. Drew Pinsky and Mike Catherwood. Now Courtside Entertainment offers what it calls “her unique professional insight with a distinctly female perspective through two, one-minute commentaries every weekday.” Courtside owner Norm Pattiz says, “Simone Bienne is a bottle rocket of energy, insight and intelligence. We are delighted to have lured her across the pond to the States and are confident American radio listeners will be as taken with her charm, wit and knowledge as we are.”
Staff Meetings at Merlin Media’s New York and Chicago Stations Scheduled for Today. As the two all-news FMs approach their first anniversary, the word on the street is that staff meetings have been called for this morning at WEMP-FM, New York and WIQI, Chicago. Industry watchers are aware the ratings for the two all-news stations have not budged much since their debut last August and although there is no insight into what staffers can expect to hear this morning, staff meetings like this usually indicate a major change of some sort.
Drew Anderssen Moves from KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa to WDBO-AM/FM, Orlando. Program director Drew Anderssen, who’s been programming Cox Media’s KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa for the past 12 years, moves to the company’s Orlando cluster to take the program director role at news/talk WDBO-AM/FM beginning August 6. Cox Media Orlando vice president and market manager Susan Larkin says, “Drew has had an incredibly successful track record leading the KRMG brand. His talent and passion for digital innovation will be a great asset not only for WDBO but for our entire cluster.” Anderssen replaces Steve Holbrook who left the Cox Orlando operations in June after almost 30 years with the company.
Scottie Nell Hughes Joins Cast of Politichicks. The online media site Politichicks.TV announces SNH Media president Scottie Nell Hughes joins the staff of the “all-in-one web destination that addresses the concerns of conservatives from the women’s point of view.” Hughes’ company handles PR for talk radio personalities Rusty Humphries, Michael Berry and Mark Skoda, among others. Now she becomes part of the Politichicks team. Politichicks executive producer Beverly Zaslow says, “Scottie Nell brings a valuable energy and passion to a group of dynamic women and her background in talk radio has taught her to think on her feet and not be afraid to ask hard questions.” Hughes joins the other “politichicks” – former “Dallas” cast member Morgan Brittany, “The Young & the Restless” cast member Ann-Marie Murrell, activist Sonnie Johnson and talk radio host Dr. Gina Loudon as co-host.
John Bishop Named Co-Host on KOZN, Omaha’s “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” Show; Gary Sharp Named Station’s Sports Director. There’s been another change in the lineup at NRG Media’s sports talk KOZN, Omaha after Matt Schick – the host recently named to replace Kevin Kugler on the show – accepted a position with ESPNU (ESPN’s college sports channel). John Bishop, most recently program director and co-host of the morning drive show at KOZN’s sister station KLIN, Lincoln, Nebraska, will take over the co-hosting duties alongside Mike’l Severe on “Unsportsmanlike Conduct.” Kugler had announced he would be leaving the show to take a position with the Big Ten Network and will continue to contribute to KOZN on a limited basis. NRG Omaha operations manager Neil Nelkin says, “We hire great talent on the ZONE as it’s a station sports figures and leaders tune to. Bishop is well known throughout sports circles in Nebraska, namely as a distinguished sportscaster with decades of experience with Husker athletics, Creighton sports and the College World Series. Bishop more than has the credentials, experience and the chops for this role on The ZONE…now I want to keep him for a while.” Additionally, Nelkin announces Gary Sharp returns to Nebraska to take the sports director and morning show co-host position at sister station KZOT. Sharp most recently worked with Minnesota Twins minor league club the Ft. Myers Miracle. Prior to that he was sports director at the Nebraska Sports Network. He’ll co-host the KZOT morning show with Jason Peter. He says, “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to return to radio at a great station and most importantly to return to Nebraska. We’ve had some great success here in Fort Myers and I will miss the people and relationships I have developed in baseball. I am sure Jason is chomping at the bit to get started and I am sure we will have some spirited sports conversations that will make great radio.”
Clear Channel Seeks WHBA for Calls for Its New Boston FM. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will take over the operation of alternative rocker WFNX, Boston on Monday and the request of new call letters WHBA gives no clue as to what format the station will assume when the change takes place. The Boston Globe is planning to put the alternative format online and has already hired some of the WFNX staff to run it. Talk radio fans in Boston might like to see an FM signal for the company’s WXKS – Talk 1200 – but those calls certainly don’t seem very news/talky, do they? Regardless, the wait is on and let the speculation continue!
Cumulus Promotes Dave Crowl, Shuffles Market Managers. Cumulus Chicago market manager Dave Crowl adds more regional vice president duties in addition to continuing to oversee Chicago’s news/talk WLS-AM and classic hits WLS-FM but the company brings Donna Baker up from Houston to take over the market manager position in Chicago. Cumulus RVP Chuck Bortnick steps into Houston to oversee that market and will take on additional RVP duties for the region.
TALKERS magazine Publishes Debut “Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America.” The editors of TALKERS magazine are pleased to announce the publishing of the first annual TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk. A companion to its “sister list” – the annual Talkers 250 Featuring the Heavy Hundred that ranks talk radio hosts working in the news/talk and general talk genres – the editors of TALKERS magazine, with input from industry leaders, present the debut class of this annual feature honoring the sports talk radio industry’s 100 most important hosts, duos or ensembles. In order to create this list, the editors took into account a combination of hard and soft factors and the results are, admittedly, subjective. Staying true to the realities of the media business, ratings and revenue are two of the major factors – some would say they are the only factors worth considering – but the editors also took into account other qualities that help create a list that is reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor and still give credit where credit is due. Those qualities include: courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness. View the 2012 TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk here.
A Tribute to WFAN, New York’s Mike Francesa. The number-one ranked sports talk host on this year’s TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk is WFAN, New York PM drive host Mike Francesa, who’s spent the past 23 years as dean of sports talk in the nation’s biggest market. Fellow WFAN personality Richard Neer writes that Francesa’s “relentless curiosity and work ethic, along with his relationship with some of the biggest names in television broadcasting, gave him unique insight” that served as a foundation for a sterling sports media career. Read Richard Neer’s tribute to WFAN’s Mike Francesa here.
2012 Presidential Race, Penn State Report, Hillary Clinton in Egypt, Welfare Work Requirement Issue, and Weak Retail Sales Numbers Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/16). The 2012 presidential campaign; the Louis Freeh-led report on the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky case; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to post-election Egypt; the controversy over the Obama Administration’s relaxing of welfare work requirements; and weak retail sales figures were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Sirius XM Reports Revenue Up 11%. SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin tells analysts the satcaster has seen subscriptions increase by 405,000 compared to the first quarter of 2011. Revenue for Q1 of 2012 was $805 million, an increase of 11% over the same period a year ago. Karmazin states, “SiriusXM is starting the year with tremendous operational momentum. We grew subscribers faster than any first quarter since our 2008 merger of Sirius and XM, and we improved our self-pay monthly churn rate to 1.9% despite implementing a price increase at the beginning of the year. Rising auto sales and our strong execution should enable us to exceed our prior 2012 subscriber growth guidance of 1.3 million, which today we are raising to 1.5 million.” The continued good news for SiriusXM includes: its subscriber growth rate accelerating to boost its subscriber base to an all-time high of 22.3 million; reduced its monthly churn to 1.9%; and was able to show positive free cash flow in the first quarter of a fiscal year for the first time – free cash flow was $15 million for 2012’s Q1. SiriusXM EVP and CFO David Frear states, “Our growing cash flow is reducing our leverage substantially and this improving credit profile should benefit stockholders as we refinance or pay down more than $1 billion of high coupon debt over the next 15 months.”
2012 Q1 Report: CBS Radio Down 2%. CBS Corporation announced its first quarter revenue for 2012 and although the company as a whole was up 12% on revenue of $3.92 billion over the same period a year ago, the revenue for the CBS Radio division was down 2%. Content licensing and distribution revenue were responsible for much of the company’s growth.
Harris to Exit Broadcast Business. Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corporation employs some 17,000 people worldwide but the bulk of its revenue does not come from the radio equipment sector – not even close. And that’s why the company announces it is divesting itself of the Broadcast Communications arm. The company states a review of its business structure revealed, “the (radio) business is no longer aligned with the company’s long-term strategy. The plan to sell these assets supports our disciplined approach to capital allocation, and we intend to use the proceeds to return cash to shareholders and invest in growing our core businesses.”
KTRH, Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Won’t Be Charged in Fender Bender Case. Former Houston City Councilor and KTRH, Houston talk host Michael Berry will not face charges of hit and run in connection with a parking incident outside an area bar that happened in late January. The District Attorney’s office tells the Houston Chronicle that based on its findings, there will be no charges filed against Berry. It appears there’s no evidence to show Berry’s vehicle hit the car of a club bouncer who told authorities a car matching the description of Berry’s car hit his. The incident happened outside of TC’s Show Bar in Montrose – a club known for gay clientele. The local media made a big deal out of the incident and, in addition to the connection between the conservative Berry and the gay bar, questioned whether the former city councilor received special treatment from authorities investigating the incident. Berry maintained his innocence and excoriated the local media on his radio show for running fast and loose with the facts. He blamed much of the attention he received from the incident on politics.
Merlin Media’s New York Programming Chief Is Mark Austin Thomas. “FM News 101.9” has been without an official programming chief since Liz Aiello was let go in December. Now, it’s being reported that former KABC, Los Angeles news director and news anchor Mark Austin Thomas is in the programmer’s chair. Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports an announcement from Merlin Media about Thomas’ status may come as early as this week. All-news WEMP-FM, New York has been holding steady with a .7 share in the monthly PPM ratings.
Dave Milner Named Market Manager at Clear Channel Sacramento. Reports of Jeff Holden’s departure from the building at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Sacramento cluster turned out to be true. The company announces Dave Milner takes over the president and market manager role. Milner has been serving as vice president of sales at Entercom’s San Francisco station group. He previously worked for Clear Channel in the Portland market. Clear Channel EVP of operations, Western Region Susan Karis states, “Dave brings an extensive track record of sales and management expertise with him to the Clear Channel Sacramento market. I’m excited to have him back with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to lead our business in Sacramento to continued success.”
KFTK-FM, St. Louis Adds Tony Katz to Permanent Weekend Show. Emmis Communications’ KFTK-FM, St. Louis announces regular fill-in talk host Tony Katz gets a weekly Saturday afternoon show airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Katz is the go-to fill-in guy for midday talk host Dana Loesch. KFTK-FM program director Jeff Allen says, “Tony is a rising star and I am thrilled that we can launch a fresh, new talent into our Saturday evening line-up. Tony is passionate, informative and most importantly, fun to listen to!” Katz also hosts a regular internet talk program on allpatriotsmedia.com.
Commercials Are Content, Too. The phrase “content is king” may be a cliché but the sentiment is true. However, it’s important to remember that spots are content too and broadcasters should give attention to spot quality, according to H&H Communications president Al Herskovitz. In his latest column for TALKERS, Herskovitz cites examples of commercial copy gone wrong that could have been avoided. Read his piece here.
FM Sports Talker Coming to Twin Falls, Idaho. Lee Family Broadcasting principal Kim Lee tells MagicValley.com that he’ll drop the AC music on KMVX-FM for sports talk on May 24. The station will carry ESPN programming and be the local radio outlet for College of Southern Idaho sports. The school’s radio voice, Jonathan Drew, will join the station as sports director and PM drive host of a local sports talk show.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Bob Throndsen retires from his news director position at Fisher Broadcasting’s KOMO-AM/FM. Throndsen has worked at KOMO radio and KOMO-TV for much of the past 30 years…..The debut of Michael Patrick Shiels’ new morning talk show based at local Fox TV outlet WSYM-TV, Lansing, Michigan will come not this week but next, according to a piece in the Lansing State Journal. Shiels, who recently left his WJIM, Lansing based program after a contract dispute, plans to syndicate the new show to talk radio outlets across Michigan…..KBJR-TV, Duluth sports director Tom Hansen joins KDAL, Duluth-Superior as co-host of the late morning show alongside Dave Strandberg. Hansen maintain’s his position with the television outlet…..Talk show host Tom Donahue, host of Tom Donahue Reports, announces his new flagship network for his syndicated show is Orion Talk Radio. The program airs live from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Announces Second Annual Stu Olds Memorial Golf Classic. The Broadcasters Foundation of America sets June 12 as the date of the second annual Stu Olds Memorial Golf Classic – the fundraiser named in honor of the former Katz Media head who died in December of 2010. Since its inception, the fund has raised more than $500,000 to benefit the foundation. The event costs $250 per player and proceeds go directly to the fund. Reservations to take part in the golf outing can be made by calling Jim Thompson at 212-373-8250 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
2012 Presidential Race, Obama Afghanistan Visit, U.S. ICE Scam and Ohio Bridge Terror Plot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/1). The 2012 presidential race; President Obama’s visit to Kabul, Afghanistan and the Taliban violence there; the Immigration and Customs Enforcement scandal; and the Ohio bridge terror plot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Rusty Humphries Has Movie Role in “Flicka” Film. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment just released the movie “Flicka Country Pride” starring Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black. Appearing in the role of the announcer at the championship horse competition is Talk Radio Network and WGST, Atlanta talk show host Rusty Humphries. Humphries spent several days last November in British Columbia filming his scenes. He says, “It was an honor to be asked to be a part of a major motion picture and to learn from some of the best talent in the movie making business.” In a scene from the film, Rusty is seen here in his announcer role at the judge’s table. Rusty Humphries’ star continues to rise on a number of fronts. He has proven himself over the years to be like “the little engine that could.” In addition to accruing steadily increasing ratings and affiliations, his marketing campaigns continue to attract industry attention with significant sales of such items as Rusty Humphries Beef Jerkey and Rusty Humphries cigars. His position on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred took a leap from #35 in 2011 to #20 in 2012. Meet Rusty Humphries at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in New York City on Thursday, June 7 where he will be appearing as one of the debaters on the Talk Rumble. The industry-only event is near a sellout. For reservations, hotel or sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.
Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee Debuts Today. The number of affiliates set to air the Mike Huckabee show is pegged at somewhere between 175 and 200. The eager anticipation of Huckabee’s debut would not be so intense were it not for the facts that the show airs live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET – the same time period as Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh – and that the latter is recovering from the backlash and intense consumer media scrutiny that followed the Sandra Fluke controversy. Regardless, the industry will certainly be watching how Huckabee’s Cumulus Media Networks program takes off but the consumer media appears to be salivating at the notion that Limbaugh has “competition.” The fact, of course, is that every radio show has competition of one sort or another and Limbaugh has faced high-profile talent in his daypart in the past – most notably from Fox News Channel superstar Bill O’Reilly for a number of years. Mike Huckabee will succeed if he hosts a compelling program that grabs listeners. Broadcasters understand that will happen or not independent of what other talk show hosts are doing or whether they are facing a “crisis.” As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told Politico in a piece published over the weekend, “This isn’t an election, it’s an industry. There’s room for both, just like there’s room for Letterman and Leno. Yes, every competitor hurts Limbaugh. But Huckabee is basically just another competitor. If he takes a little away from Limbaugh, fine. But he also has the potential to expand the talk radio audience.”
Rumors of Major Syndication Changes in Philadelphia and New York; Smerconish to Bump Limbaugh from WPHT. And possibly more than that…but first things first. A very hot rumor out of Philadelphia has WYD Media-produced Michael Smerconish’s nationally syndicated program airing live 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on CBS Radio’s news/talk WPHT– where Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh does right now. Smerconish is currently delayed to PM drive on WPHT. Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor wrote about the other part of this rumor in his morning blast on 4/6: Merlin Media may be planning to go talk and not all-news on WKDN-FM, Philadelphia – its new property which is still airing Christian programming from prior owner Family Stations. With former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host (and Philly native) Al Gardner hired to program and possibly host mornings at WKDN-FM and Rush Limbaugh possibly soon-to-be-available (plus Premiere’s Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck available, as Tom Taylor points out), a move to talk would be much less personnel intensive and would enjoy the ability to grab three of the biggest news/talk personalities in the business. But there’s more…other chatter coming out of New York is that Merlin Media has been talking to Premiere Networks about bringing Rush Limbaugh to its all-newser FM News 101.9 (WEMP-FM) if Cumulus Media decides to put new national syndication rollout Mike Huckabee on WABC in Limbaugh’s place. Then one would have to ask the question, “Would Merlin do the same with WWWN-FM, Chicago if Cumulus bumped Limbaugh in exchange for Huckabee on its news/talker WLS?” Stay tuned.
KFAQ, Tulsa Talk Host Pat Campbell Responds to Deadly Shootings. KFAQ, Tulsa morning drive talk host Pat Campbell tells TALKERS his program responded very quickly to a series of shootings in the city in which five citizens – all African American – were shot and three died. Campbell says he hosted a special Saturday noontime edition of his program to address the crimes and seek the public’s assistance in capturing suspects. He tells TALKERS, “I had the mayor in the studio urging calm but more importantly, cooperation with the police. We urged listeners that might have any information to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline and the good news is that a tip came in around 4:00 pm that led to the arrest of the suspects early Sunday morning. This is an example of talk radio at its best! Rather than becoming a wedge like we’ve seen in the Trayvon Martin case, 1170 KFAQ brought the community together and got the bad guys off the street.”
WQAM, Miami Standing By Sports Talk Host Sid Rosenberg After DUI Arrest Last Week. WQAM, Miami afternoon sports talk host Sid Rosenberg was back on the air on Friday after spending most of Thursday in jail following an early morning arrest on DUI and driving on a suspended license charges. Rosenberg, who has spoken publicly about past substance abuse issues and has talked of having twice been to rehab, is being supported by his superiors at the Beasley sports talk outlet. The Miami Herald reports WQAM program director Lee Feldman stating, for now, Rosenberg is not being suspended. WQAM general manager Joe Bell declined to comment to the paper.
Matt Lauer to Remain with NBC’s “Today.” The months of speculation about the future of television talk host Matt Lauer have come to an end as NBC announced Lauer has signed a multi-year contract to remain with the network’s morning news magazine program. The buzz in the industry included rumors Lauer would rejoin Katie Couric at rival ABC. Though Couric is set to begin a new chapter in her career at ABC with her own daytime talk show, ABC’s “Good Morning America” has been closing the ratings gap between it and “Today.” On Lauer’s signing, NBC News president Steve Capus tells The New York Times, “Matt is the franchise, and our franchise player has decided to keep leading our team.” The Times story notes that “Today” has been in first place in the morning news show ratings for the past 16 years.
Fox News Channel Brings Santita Jackson Aboard as Contributor. The daughter of Rev. Jesse Jackson left Midway Broadcasting’s WVON, Chicago due to budget cuts last fall. Now, Santita Jackson is named a contributor for Fox News Channel. Santita Jackson is also producer of Jesse Jackson’s weekly Premiere Networks-syndicated talk show “Keep Hope Alive.”
Raubin Pierce Leaves On-Air Position with WIBW, Topeka for Management Post at Manhattan Broadcasting. Raubin Pierce co-hosted the “On the Other Hand” talk show with co-host Megan Mosack at Morris Communications’ WIBW, Topeka and served as the company’s director of information technology. He’s left those duties to become operations director and head of new media at Manhattan Broadcasting in Manhattan, Kansas. The company operates four stations in the Manhattan market including news/talk KMAN. Pierce tells the Topeka Capital-Journal, “This was just a fantastic opportunity. There was just no way that I couldn’t do this.”
Longtime South Florida Broadcaster Patricia Anderson Dies from Cancer at 54. Trish Anderson was well known on South Florida radio. During her career she worked as a producer, voice-over talent, sports reporter and traffic reporter at stations including WINZ and WIOD, Miami. Anderson battled breast and bone cancer. She passed away on March 31.
Johnny B at Wrigley Field. That’s WGN, Chicago morning drive host Jonathon Brandmeier (center with sunglasses) surrounded by the Chicago band The Fold at the Captain Morgan club at Wrigley Field on Opening Day. The Fold won the station’s contest to write an original song celebrating the Chicago Cubs. The winning song – “Let’s Go Cubbies” – is being played at the beginning of each Cubs game broadcast on WGN this season. The band was with Brandmeier on Opening Day to perform the song live at WGN’s pre-game broadcast and live remote.
Entercom Kansas City Officially Announces Debut of “The KMBZ Business Channel.” The news leaked out via a local PR firm earlier this week but now Entercom Kansas City confirms its classical “Radio Bach” – KUDL, Kansas City – is being flipped to financial talk and will be branded “The KMBZ Business Channel on 1660 AM.” Jack Landreth, program director of the KMBZ brand of stations, states the flip fills a void in the market, “‘The KMBZ Business Channel’ is a natural extension of our award-winning KMBZ News/Talk station. Building on KMBZ’s many years of success, we are launching a business station dedicated to business leaders and investors. By offering clear, concise business reports on Newsradio 98.1 FM and expanding those reports on ‘The KMBZ Business Channel on 1660,’ we will create a unique radio synergy.” Vice president and general manager Dave Alpert says the station will focus on business news as it happens and opinions about financial issues. “Business news is no longer just a stock market update. In today’s fast-paced world, business is a 24-hour news cycle…We will deliver the very best business reporting and direct access to the insider opinions that drive business throughout Kansas City and around the country.” Alpert and Landreth say their target audience is affluent, well-educated, homeowners over the age of 35, with household incomes over $100,000. “With Newsradio 98.1 FM, KMBZ already delivering a business-to-business audience, the ‘KMBZ Business Channel’ will cultivate a broader base of influential listeners across high-income levels from wired workers and educated professionals to CEOs and managers.”
News Staffers Exit Merlin Media’s FM News 101.9 in New York. Mediabistro FishbowlNY reports the departure of three on-air staffers from WEMP-FM, New York. The site says former WWOR-TV anchor Sara Lee Kessler, who’d been with WEMP-FM since its beginning last August, has exited as have evening anchor Maureen Langan and reporter Bob Brown. There’s no information whether any of the three were let go or left the station voluntarily. This news comes a week after Eric Seidel was named interim program director at the all-news station.
ESPN Brings Former Colts Exec Bill Polian Aboard as NFL Analyst. The sports media giant announces former Indianapolis Colts vice chairman Bill Polian is joining ESPN on March 12 – the day before NFL free agency begins – and will be seen on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” “NFL Live,” “NFL 32,” as well as heard on ESPN Radio. Polian will also write for ESPN’s digital initiatives and ESPN The Magazine.
Michael Patrick Shiels Exits Lansing-Based “Michigan’s Morning Show.” Talk show host Michael Patrick Shiels and Cumulus Broadcasting have parted company with Shiels doing his last broadcast based at WJIM, Lansing and the 10-station Michigan Talk Network on Tuesday (2/28). Michigan Talk Network general manager Dave Minock tells Michigan Live, “He’s decided to move on and we’re carrying on as you can imagine.” Minock says the program – distributed to the company’s WJRW, Grand Rapids and eight other stations around the state – will feature guest hosts until the company finds a permanent replacement for Shiels, who tells the site, “It was an amicable parting and I’m hoping I’ll get the opportunity down the road to reconnect with my Michigan listeners.”
Ric Edelman Public TV Series Wins Six Awards. Top-ranked financial advisor and talk media personality Ric Edelman’s “The Truth About Money” public TV program is honored with six Telly Awards. The awards honor outstanding international video and film productions. Edelman’s radio program of the same name is heard in 54 markets on commercial talk stations across the U.S. His public TV program was just renewed for a second season. The program won awards in three categories – education, information and editing. The program is dedicated to educating public television viewers about the latest data and research regarding how to save and invest their hard-earned dollars, while providing an entertaining framework. Guests have included everyone from wealthy publisher Steve Forbes, to divorce guru Raoul Felder, to CNBC anchorwoman and Wall Street mainstay Maria Bartiromo.
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Names Tim Castelli EVP of Digital Sales. The longtime digital advertising executive who most recently worked at America Online becomes executive vice president of digital sales reporting directly to chairman and CEO John Hogan. Tim Castelli will be in charge of national digital sales efforts and developing innovative advertising products and programs across several Clear Channel Media and Entertainment divisions, including strategic partnerships, national programming platforms and national advertising platforms and iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s digital radio service. John Hogan states, “Tim is recognized for his innovation and tactical expertise. His understanding of advertisers’ needs and objectives will help them take even greater advantage of our unmatched resources.”
Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises More Than $250,000 at Golden Mike Award Dinner. More than 250 radio and TV broadcasters attended the 2012 Golden Mike Award Dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Monday, February 27 to honor award recipient Dennis Swanson, president of station operations for Fox Television Stations. The black-tie fundraiser collected more than $250,000 to support the BFoA’s mission of providing aid to broadcasters in desperate need. Pictured here is Swanson (second from left) accepting the award from “Inside Edition” host Deborah Norville and Broadcasters Foundation chairman Phil Lombardo (second from right) and president Jim Thompson (far left). In attendance were broadcasting luminaries serving as presenters including Roger Ailes of Fox News; Dr. Mehmet Oz, the syndicated TV show host and cardiac surgeon; Elsie McCabe Thompson of the Museum for African Art; and Larry Wert of NBC-TV. Also during the evening, the Foundation recognized Rick Buckley, a longtime supporter of the Broadcasters Foundation who served as its treasurer for many years. A fund established in Buckley’s name after he passed away suddenly in July has generated $50,000 to help broadcasters in need.
Star on the Rise: Florida Talk Show Host Burnie Thompson Making Statewide Waves from Base in the Panhandle. Former Air Force Captain and college English teacher Burnie Thompson has been in the talk radio business since 2007 when he began broadcasting from his home base in Panama City, Florida. Since that time, with the help of Don McCoy of McCoy Media, he’s expanded his daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET program from his flagship at Magic Broadcasting’s WYOO-FM, Panama City to stations in Jacksonville, Pensacola and Ft. Walton Beach. Stations in Tallahassee and the Gainesville/Ocala markets are set to begin airing the daily show within the next few weeks. Thompson also produces a weekend version culled from the best of the weekday show that currently airs on 13 stations across Florida. Thompson has made so many inroads in such a short time that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has reportedly dubbed him “Florida’s Voice of Freedom.” Thompson is riding what he cites as a trend in talk radio making statewide programs more relevant and potentially popular than in the past. That, coupled with Florida’s burgeoning image as a center of rapidly growing importance from a demographic and political standpoint on the national scene, gives Thompson’s syndication venture that much more gravity. He says more important to his affiliates is the fact that his show became one of the highest-rated radio shows in Panama City for four consecutive years. Many local businesses have hired him to endorse them, making the show a top revenue producer. Thompson tells TALKERS, “The show is a mix between a 21st century town hall and your favorite saloon; a place where ideas collide and reason prevails. Every day on the radio, I strive to expand freedom and protect the family budget from government plunder by giving Floridians a place to link arms. I just want to make a difference in the Sunshine State – perhaps make it a little freer, and a little more prosperous. Then we’ll expand our horizons.” Thompson has been a freelance writer for more than a decade having work published in The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Washington Times, The Orange County Register, The Tallahassee Democrat, The Panama City News Herald, and more than a dozen other publications. He has a master’s degree in journalism from USC, a master’s in English from Penn State and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Fullerton.
Mitt Romney’s Michigan and Arizona Sweep, Deadly Midwestern Storms, Ohio School Shooting Aftermath, North Korean Nukes Deal, Iran Tensions, Health Care Birth Control Controversy and Pop Icon Davy Jones’ Death Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/29). The GOP primary race in the wake of Mitt Romney’s victories on Tuesday; the deadly storms that swept through the Midwest; the Ohio school killings aftermath; the deal struck with North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program; ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions; the action in Washington over the health care birth control controversy and the death of pop icon Davy Jones were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (2/29).
Alex Jones Rocks Orlando. Genesis Communications Network nationally syndicated talk sensation Alex Jones is pictured here mugging for the camera at Orlando Jai Alai on February 26 alongside Star Over Orlando‘s WEUS midday talk host Doc Holliday. Jones’ standing-room-only appearance included a live radio broadcast, a showing of his latest documentary film and an accompanying speech that WEUS says was, “a rousing affair that brought down the house!” WEUS carries Jones’ radio show live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET.
Talk Radio Pro Phil Boyce Named VP/Director Spoken Word Format for Salem Communications. Former WABC, New York program director Phil Boyce joins Salem Communications in the newly created position VP/director spoken word format. As such he’ll be in charge of the company’s programming on its news/talk, Christian teaching, talk and business talk O&Os. Boyce most recently served as president of programming for Talk Radio Network. He says, “The more I learn about Salem Communications, the more impressed I am with this great company. I could not be more thrilled to be joining them as we work together to make their stations even better. This company has become one of the best places to work in radio, exhibiting class, integrity, and a true dedication to great programming. Ed Atsinger and Dave Santrella have created a position that perfectly fits my skill set, and I am grateful for their trust and support.”
Liz Aiello Out at Merlin Media’s FM News 101.9. Sources are telling TALKERS that the staff at FM News 101.9 was notified about VP of programming Liz Aiello‘s departure yesterday and that Al Gardner (most recently morning host at WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte and pegged to program Merlin’s coming Philadelphia station) is the acting PD. Sources tell TALKERS VP of digital Rich McLaughlin and VP of production Jerry Rohira have also left the building. Liz Aiello had served as general manager of the radio end of Martha Stewart Living and her experience creating and managing programming for women was probably a big factor in her joining Merlin when the all-newser was taking a female-tilted focus. Now that the station’s going straight news, management may not feel she’s the right fit.
Today is the 20th “Wing Bowl” Promotion for CBS Radio’s WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia. A traditional promotion that began 20 years ago timed to take place alongside the Super Bowl hits Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center today. The chicken wing-eating contest has grown into a showcase of professional and amateur eaters that offers huge prizes — $20,000, a ring and a gold medal from local jeweler Steven Singer for the overall winner and many other prizes including a car, a motorcycle and more to various other winners – and all proceeds going to local charities including the Police Athletic League. The event sold out the almost 20,000 seats available but fans can follow it on sports talker WIP, of course, and it’s being streamed on the web. Morning drive host Angelo Cataldi, who co-founded the Wing Bowl 20 years ago with partner Al Morganti, states, “The stage is set for our greatest ‘Wing Bowl’ ever. Never have we had such a spectacular array of contestants, beautiful girls, incredible floats, off-the-wall personalities and a true legend — Takeru Kobayashi — all rolled into one madcap morning of jaw-dropping entertainment. There will never be another event like Wing Bowl 20.”
2nd Annual “Imus on Broadway” Raises Money for Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer. WABC, New York morning drive legend Don Imus hit the stage at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square Monday evening to present entertainment from the best musicals on Broadway. The sold-out fund raising event was hosted by New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel and included performances from numerous Broadway musicals including: “Anything Goes,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Chicago,” “Jersey Boys,” “Mamma Mia,” “Memphis,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” “Rock of Ages,” “Spider Man Turn Off the Dark” and “Stomp.”
Cumulus Media’s KKOB, Albuquerque Nabs 46th Consecutive #1 Arbitron Book. Station officials believe this is a record as news/talk KKOB comes in #1 in the 2011 Fall Arbitron book for persons 12+ for the 46th time in a row. AM operations manager and program director Pat Frisch says during this time the station has also numerous #1 positions with persons 25-54. KKOB general manager Milt McConnell says, “Albuquerque is one of the most over-radioed markets in America. It is absolutely incredible in a market with 32 competitive stations that KKOB has remained the #1 station for over a decade. Having the largest number of live personalities, the largest news department, being the EAS alert station for the state, the flagship property for UNM, and literally being ‘the mouthpiece’ of the market – all are factors in our success.” Pat Frisch says consistency is the key and notes that during this time the station has also been the top biller in the market. “Who says ratings and revenue don’t tie in together?”
Financial Expert George Jarkesy Launches Syndicated Radio Show. Noted Wall Street investor and self-described “serial entrepreneur” George Jarkesy has launched “The George Jarkesy Radio Show.” The one-hour daily, independently syndicated program has reportedly received such favorable reaction from its charter roster of affiliates that it will shortly be expanded to three-hours per day. The Houston-based financial/political show hosted by the conservative money maven is initially being heard on KSAC-FM, Sacramento; KTEK, Houston; WAFS, Atlanta; WBZW, Orlando; KKOL, Seattle, and WBZS, Providence among others, airing live 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET. Jarskey, who is also the chairman of The National Eagles and Angels Association, is a regular guest and market commentator on Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel‘s “Fox & Friends” and CNBC. He tells TALKERS he started the show because “I have a passion for America and think everyone deserves a fair shake. Unfortunately a large percentage of people have no idea what is truly going on in Washington or why we have the issues with a struggling economy. A broad understanding of how various events affect economics and finance needs to be considered when investing. I am building a platform so millions of people can stay better informed on social, geo-political, financial and economic issues in an entertaining format.” For more information, visit www.georgejarkesy.com.
Talk Radio Network Entertainment Weekend Host Dr. Michio Kaku on Book Tour. Hitting the East and West Coasts to promote the paperback edition of his New York Times bestseller Physics of the Future: How Physics will Change Daily Life by 2100 (Doubleday 2011) is renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku. In addition to his television work hosting “Science IQ” on the Science Channel, Dr. Kaku hosts the radio show “Science Fantastic” nationally syndicated by Talk Radio Network Entertainment and heard on more than 125 affiliates nationwide.
Nationally Syndicated Weekend Talk Host Dr. Ellen Kenner Celebrates 15th Anniversary. Clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Kenner is the host of the weekly program “The Rational Basis of Happiness” that began 15 years ago on news/talk WHJJ, Providence. The show went into national syndication later that year and Dr. Kenner has been broadcasting nationally every weekend since. The program is currently heard on some 30 affilliates.
Romney-Gingrich Battle Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 30 – February 3. The primary season race between GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week. Following at #2 was the 2012 presidential race, encompassing all the issues the GOP contenders – and the media – are raising. At #3 was the dim U.S. economic report delivered to the U.S. House Budget Committee by the Congressional Budget Office director. And at #4 was the news of a long-awaited Facebook initial public offering and the company’s first public earning report. The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS into the stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America. It is published each Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Dial Global talk host Clark Howard’s “Clark Howard Minutes” feature is added to Merlin Media’s all-news WEMP-FM, New York (FM News 101.9) and WIQI-FM, Chicago (FM News 101.1)…..Premiere Network’s Jim Rome returns to the air schedule at Alpha Broadcasting’s KXTG, Portland…..Dial Global’s Thom Hartmann is added to WNSW, Newark, New Jersey; WPWC, Dumfries-Triangle, Virginia; and WZHF, Arlington, Virginia…..Independently syndicated inspirational talk show host David Essel is added to the schedule at Sirius XM for a Saturday evening program…..Vivid Edge Media Group’s David Pakman show is added to WPWC, Dumfries-Triangle, Virginia; WPRR, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and WMNF-FM, Tampa.
Herman Cain Returns to WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta – in Commentator Role. Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and recent GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain returns to Cox Media Group’s news/talk giant WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta – the station at which he was hosting the evening program before leaving to run for office. Cain isn’t back on evenings. Program director Pete Spriggs tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution Cain’s busy schedule won’t allow him to return to that slot. Instead, Cain is filing a daily two-minute commentary that airs twice daily – 8:45 am during Neal Boortz’s show and at 6:45 pm during Erick Erickson’s program. He’ll also join Boortz live at 10:35 am every Monday and Friday. Although it is clear that Cain is still heavily involved in the thick of this year’s presidential race as an event speaker and potential campaigner, his significantly heightened status as a political media celebrity in the aftermath of his formidable candidacy increases his stock as a potential radio and television talk show host. Industry speculation grows about his next moves as a media personality after the dust of the election settles.
Geraldo to Do Local Show on KABC, Los Angeles. Since it was announced that Geraldo Rivera was taking over the late-morning show at Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York there’s been speculation that he would also be imported west to the company’s KABC, Los Angeles. Now Geraldo tells the Los Angeles Times’ Steve Carney that not only will he be hosting the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show on KABC beginning January 30, but he’ll be doing a separate, live show for Southern California. Geraldo tells Carney that he represents the larger middle portion of America that isn’t necessarily being heard from on talk radio today, “That agenda is extremely partisan. It’s carving up the country, it has a strong racial undertone, and I don’t think that’s good for anybody.” As a result of the move, KABC’s John Phillips’ program will be heard from 9:00 am to 10:00 am.
Merlin Media-CBS Radio Update. The all-news war in New York is making the consumer press as the New York Daily News’ John Hinckley writes about the cease-and-desist Merlin Media received from CBS Radio lawyers for using a version of the famous WINS, New York slogan “Give us 22 minutes; we’ll give you the world” to promote its all-news “FM News 101.9 (WEMP-FM). As we reported yesterday, Merlin has been engaging in a bit of old-fashioned radio battle strategy by twisting the WINS slogan to “Give us 10 minutes, we’ll give you the world” for WEMP-FM. Lawyers for CBS say the tactic has no purpose but to get publicity and say it’s trademark infringement. That’s one way of looking at it. Though the strategy could be derided by some as an old-school radio technique that won’t work in the modern era, others will argue that Merlin’s point is a good one; it underscores the perception that most people don’t have 22 minutes these days and FM News 101.9 is current and hip by doing it in 10 minutes. Merlin certainly has an uphill battle ahead of it in terms of catching the New York all-newsers in the ratings. It’s possible that in order to grab some of the audience share of the news-consuming public, Merlin is going to have to get attention by doing more than just putting out a good product. Another way of looking at it, however, is that if Merlin put out a good product, the Randy Michaels-led company wouldn’t have to resort to the kind of competitive stunting popularized during the heyday of top 40 in the 1960s and 1970s.
Todd Schnitt to End MJ Kelli AM Show; Focus on Talk Show. For years now, Todd Schnitt has been doing double duty – morning drive on Clear Channel’s CHR WFLZ-FM, Tampa and PM drive on CC’s WFLA from which he’s syndicated nationally by Compass Media Networks. Now he will focus on the talk show aspect of his career as he shuts down his MJ Kelli morning show persona with his last broadcast on WFLZ-FM on February 17.
Clear Channel Promotes Two Executives. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment bumps Hartley Adkins from his SVP of operations for the Southeast market to executive vice president of operations for its Mid-Major markets. Taking over for Adkins in the SVP of operations for the Southeast market is John Rohm who moves up from the market manager post for the Philadelphia market. Although not mentioned in the press release, Adkins takes over for Mark Kopelman who exits the company with no comment from corporate. Both Adkins and Rohm will report to John Hogan who states, “With their proven performance, leadership and exerience, Hartley and John will help ensure our local markets operate effectively and efficiently and provide our company with real opportunities for growth.” Additionally, Brad Hardin, senior vice president of programming, now serves as programming partner to Adkins in the Mid-Major markets; and Jon Zellner, senior vice president of programming, now serves as programming partner to Tom McConnell, senior vice president of operations for the Northeast regional markets.
WWNC, Asheville Names Pete Kaliner PM Drive Host. The former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte evening host lands the afternoon drive program at Clear Channel’s Asheville, North Carolina news/talk outlet. Pete Kaliner hosted the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight show at WBT for two years until the show was eliminated for budgetary reasons in March of last year. WWNC program director Brian Hall says, “Pete filled in for us last summer and I was blown away by his dedication to show prep and how the listeners engaged with him on the air. After talking with great candidates from all over the country and other professionals in the industry, it was clear that Pete was the perfect fit for this position and for the community of Western North Carolina.”
Former Florida Radio and TV Financial Host Gets Four Years in Prison for Defrauding Investors. U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley sentenced Anthony F. Cutaia to 51 months in prison for running a ponzi scheme in which he misappropriated some $1.5 million that affected between 10 and 50 investors (court documents don’t specify the number of victims). Cutaia operated a commercial real estate business and hosted a program on Beasley Broadcasting’s WSBR, Boca Raton as well as a television show on the PAX TV network. Cutaia was charged with nine counts of mail fraud in June of 2011 and pleaded guilty to one charge in hopes of getting a lighter sentence but the judge gave him a longer sentence than federal prosecutors recommended.
South Carolina Primary/ 2012 Presidential Race Most-Talked-About Story on News/Talk Radio During Week of January 16-20. Landing atop the Talkers TenTM this week is the South Carolina GOP primary election and the 2012 presidential race. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio stations across America based on ongoing research from TALKERS and is published at Talkers.com every Friday. Coming in at #2 this week is the denial of the permit for the Keystone XL Canada to Texas oil pipeline. At #3 is the internet anti-piracy bills and the associated Wikipedia blackout and at #4 is the Euro Zone jitters and rising gas prices. View the entire Talkers TenTM chart here.
“Troublemaker” Visits Florida. Christine O’Donnell, former U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware and author of the best-seller Troublemaker (St. Martin’s Press 2011), kicked off her Florida speaking tour by sitting in on “The President’s Speakers Series” at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach broadcast live on WNDB, Daytona Beach and hosted by talk host Marc Bernier. O’Donnell says she is reaching out to college students to engage them in the political process for the upcoming election. This event was the 72nd in the series started by Marc Bernier in the mid-1990s. Pictured here during the event are Bernier (l) and O’Donnell (r).
Genesis Communications Creates Central Florida News-Intensive Trimulcast. Genesis Communications Multi-Media Broadcast Group is flipping WAMT, Pine Castle Sky Lake, Florida (Orlando market) from ESPN Deportes and WIXC, Titusville, Florida (on the East coast) from sports to simulcasts of the company’s news/talk WWBA, Tampa Bay as it takes on more all-news content. The stations are picking up the TRN/Washington Times-produced “America’s Morning News” plus news blocks from TRN-owned America’s Radio News Network. Genesis CEO Bruce Maduri states, “We intend to provide central Floridians with the ability to access all-news, traffic and weather content anywhere, across the all-important I-4 corridor from Tampa Bay through Orlando, to the Space Coast and north and south along the Eastern Seaboard. Local, state and national coverage of the day’s breaking news is now accessible to the six million people who reside in this area of the state and up and down the east coast.” TRN CEO Mark Masters states, “We are proud to provide a complete support system to Bruce as he delivers to Central Florida the most powerful 15 hours per day of syndicated long-form radio news rooms, along with heavy news localization for his growing news empire. America’s Radio News Network provides a clock that not only gives nine to 10 stories and four to six audio actualities every quarter hour, but also allows for an amazing level of localization and customization so that you can go highly local or regional at the top and bottom of the hours, quarter hours, and even cut into entire segments for another layer of localization.”
CBS Radio and Merlin Media Butting Heads Over News Slogans. CBS Radio is notifying Merlin Media of what it deems trademark infringement for Merlin’s use of phrases like, “Give us 10 minutes, we’ll give you the world,” on its all-news WEMP-FM, New York, according to Radio Ink. The report indicates lawyers for CBS are giving Merlin until the end of the day today (1/19) to stop using the phrase (and others) stating it is “intentionally confusingly similar” to CBS’ “Give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world” slogan used on WINS, New York.
Consultant Bob Cohen Joins Board at Gow Broadcasting. The company brought Bob Cohen, through his Bob Cohen Strategies consulting firm, in to assist as Gow began working with Yahoo! to transform its Sporting News Radio into Yahoo! Sports. Now, Cohen joins Gow’s board of directors. CEO David Gow states in the San Antonio Business Journal, “Bob played a significant role in our strategic search and eventual exciting new partnership with Yahoo! Sports Radio. He has a depth of knowledge and experience in radio, sports radio networks and sports in general and has a track record of adding value and growth to the businesses with which he’s been involved. He has been active in our business, as a consultant and will also continue in that role along with the board seat.”
Morning Drive Host Jon Justice Re-Ups with Journal’s KTTH-FM, Tucson. Citing his success hosting the AM drive talk show at Journal Broadcasting’s KTTH-FM – “104.1 The Truth” – VP/GM Julie Brinks announces the company has signed Jon Justice to a contract extension to continue in that role. “This move demonstrates our renewed commitment to Jon, and to the listeners of 104.1 The Truth. The station continues to be a venue where points of view can be expressed in Tucson. Whether you agree or disagree, Jon will continue to stimulate the conversation for years to come!” The station notes Justice’s program has become one of the highest-ranked shows in the Tucson market with both men 25–54 and adults 25–54. Justice comments on his new deal, “I’m really excited to continue growing the show here in Southern Arizona, building off of the success I have had on ‘104.1 The Truth.’”
News Pro Steve Ray Named News Anchor at America’s Radio News Network. Talk Radio Network-operated America’s Radio News Network announces news pro Steve Ray joins the company to serve as co-anchor for the network’s news blocks. Ray has worked at such esteemed news outlets as WTOP-FM, Washington; WMAL, Washington; Westwood One; Metro Networks; and Radio Free Asia. Ray states, “I not only believe in Mark’s vision for the quality and scope of our news content, but his forward thinking vision of delivering ARNN across multiple platforms. At a time of great change in radio, Masters is once again in the right place at the perfect time.”
CBS Radio Ups Sarah Frazier to SVP/Market Manager in Houston. The cluster that includes sports KILT is now being managed by Sarah Frazier who is promoted from her VP/director of sales role to senior vice president and market manager for the group. Frazier takes over for Brian Purdy who is market manager for the Dallas cluster. Previously he had been responsible for both the Dallas and Houston markets.
Restraining Order Issued in Dispute Among Former WCAP, Lowell Owners. The talk station is north of Boston and since 2007 was operated by partners Clark Smidt and Sam Poulten until recently when the two agreed to part with Poulten buying out Smidt over a period of time, according to court records. But a Middlesex County Superior Court judge has issued a restraining order against Smidt after he showed up at the station attempting to take control from the operators. The order also forbids Smidt from destroying any of the financial records relative to the ownership and operation of the station. According to the Valley Patriot, Smidt had been negligent in paying the station’s taxes prior to the agreement for Poulten to buy out Smidt’s share and take over operation of the station. The FCC approved transfer of the WCAP broadcast license to Poulten on October 31.
Looming South Carolina GOP Primary, Obama Kills Oil Pipeline Permit, Wahlberg Flight 93 Flap, and Italian Cruise Ship Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/18). The GOP race to take Saturday’s South Carolina primary, the Obama Administration’s denying of a permit for Keystone XL’s Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, Mark Wahlberg’s controversial statement about preventing the downing of Flight 93, and the Italian cruise ship disaster were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Walter Sabo Leaves COO Position at Merlin Media. Noted radio consultant Walter Sabo has parted ways with Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media, the heavily venture capital-backed firm that acquired a majority share of three radio stations this past summer from Jeff Smulyan’sEmmis Broadcasting including WEMP-FM, New York and WWWN-FM, Chicago and is in the process of picking up a fourth from Harold Camping’s Family Broadcasting – WKDN-FM, in the Philadelphia market. Merlin launched a relatively experimental all-news format at these stations targeted to what Sabo described as “working families” with an emphasis on the 25-54 female demographic. The stations (FM News 101.9 in New York and FM News 101.1 in Chicago) received a tremendous amount of attention (and intense scrutiny) in the media before, during and after their launch prompted by former Tribune Company CEO Michaels’ negatively colorful and controversial profile, in addition to the fact that they were taking a startlingly innovative and youthful approach to delivering the all-news format. Sabo was recruited to serve as architect of this approach due to his impeccable reputation as a longtime champion of the concept of targeting female listeners on FM and proven track record for success with spoken word on FM as a longtime consultant for WKXW-FM, Trenton (New Jersey 101.5). When a notable rise in ratings failed to materialize in immediately subsequent survey periods coupled with widespread criticism by radio industry observers of the stations’ formats and execution – further exacerbated by Michaels receiving negative publicity in the midst of all this for being arrested on DUI charges – the heat was on and Michaels began facing enormous internal and external pressure to modify the programming approach. He succumbed and the Merlin stations began moving in a more traditional all-news direction putting them in head-to-head competition with CBS’s long-established, traditional and wildly successful all-news outlets in New York and Chicago (WINS, WCBS and WBBM). With this repositioning, the challenge of competing against successful, established news outlets has not produced increased ratings and the Merlin all-news initiative has become prematurely tagged throughout the industry as a monumental failure. Sabo’s withdrawal from day-to-day operational and programming decisions, including his subsequent departure from Merlin, has been quietly happening below the radar for some time now. Up until this article’s publication (1/2), there has been no official press release, acknowledgement or statement from either Merlin or Sabo confirming or commenting on his exit. However,TALKERS sources inside Merlin and close to Sabo confirm that it is indeed true with Sabo telling TALKERS,“At this time my work with Merlin is complete. The primary job was to build the most competitive team on and off the air – Merlin has the best. Our initiatives gave investors the confidence to buy a station in a third market and grow the company. GTCR deserves enormous credit for investing in the radio medium. FM spoken-word is so hot that the demand for Sabo Media services has never been greater. Our clients find that our decades of experience in the FM talk format protects their investment and shortens the profit horizon. More importantly my beautiful wife Katie is seven months pregnant during the holidays. That’s the news.” Sabo will continue to serve as CEO of his consulting firm Sabo Media and internet branding and marketing company, HitViews.
Fox Sports Radio Network Debuts New Morning Program Featuring Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins. Today is the debut of Fox Sports Radio Network’s new morning show – “Fox Sports Daybreak” – heard from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and featuring former Cincinnati sports talk host Andy Furman and retired NFL defensive back Artrell Hawkins. Furman’s resume includes an 18-year run hosting “Sports Talk” at WLW, Cincinnati and, recently, the PM drive show at WQRT, Cincinnati. Hawkins is a contributor to the Cincinnati Bengals Radio Network. Furman has been hosting a weekend show with former NFL star Lincoln Kennedy for more than a year and that Sunday evening program with Furman and Kennedy will continue. Fox Sports Radio VP/GM Don Martin states, “We couldn’t be happier to have Andy and Artrell hosting our new morning drive program. The combination of a sports talk pro like Andy and a former professional football player like Artrell will be a great addition to our weekday lineup.” Fox Sports Daybreak replaces the Zakk and Jack program on the FSRN schedule.
Cumulus Media Flips WMTI-FM, New Orleans from Oldies to Sports Talk. The Big Easy gets a new sports talk outlet as Cumulus Media drops the oldies on WMTI-FM and goes sports talk with programming from Fox Sports Radio Network, Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome and a PM drive show hosted by New Orleans Hornets broadcaster Gerry Vaillancourt.
New FM Talk Outlet for Little Rock. Crain Media Group drops the active rock on KKSP-FM, Bryant, Arkansas (located to the Northwest of Little Rock) and debuts a talk format it’s calling “Fresh Talk 93.3.” The lineup includes market news personality Neal Gladner in morning drive, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham, Dial Global’s Clark Howard, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” and more.
Progressive Talk Appears on WVKO, Columbus. The station at 1580 AM is owned by Bernard Ohio LLC and its website indicates it’s doing business as Clear Conscience Communications. The progressive talk lineup that debuted on January 2 includes Dial Global’s Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann and Bill Press plus Mike Malloy and Leslie Marshall.
Chris Schoenewald Exits Virginia-Based “Daily Constitutional” Program. The regionally syndicated “Daily Constitutional” – based out of WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia and co-hosted by Joe Thomas and Chris Schoenewald – is undergoing changes as Schoenewald is leaving the program to run for office. He plans to announce which office he’ll seek soon. Thomas tells TALKERS the program will continue. “Adam Forster of Virginia Living Television and private investigator/TV anchor Nikki Lewis will be purchasing Schoenewald’s share and we’re hopeful to continue to grow and help stations in this area program locally oriented talk while freeing up their resources for news and marketing efforts.” The “Daily Constitutional” airs live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET. In addition, Thomas hosts the morning drive program on WCHV-AM/FM.
Sam Malone in Israel. KSEV, Houston morning host Sam Malone is pictured here inspecting the cockpit of an Israeli F-16 during a tour of the Hatzor Air Force Base while on a trip to Israel. Malone broadcast his program live back to his Houston audience (via the very capable technology of the Comrex ACCESS) during which he interviewed numerous Houstonians serving in the IDF, important Israeli media figures and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Malone tells TALKERS magazine his audience loved the content and his marketing department was able to get the broadcast event sponsored.
Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Holiday Sports Action and New Year Retrospectives Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/2). Today’s Iowa Caucuses for GOP candidates, the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian leadership, college and pro holiday sports action and 2011 retrospectives were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WWWN-FM, Chicago Midday Anchor Dave Williams Exits Merlin Station. The first high-profile firing at Merlin Media’s Chicago all-newser claims veteran news and talk radio pro Dave Williams. Numerous reports indicate Williams was let go after a station visit from Merlin Media management that included CEO Randy Michaels but not COO Walter Sabo. Industry watchers note that there’s been near constant tweaking of the on-air sound at Merlin’s WWWN-FM, Chicago and WEMP-FM, New York but the departure of Williams has triggered a change that appears to be taking the stations away from the “lifestylish” approach to news and toward a much more traditional all-news direction. This, according to widespread street buzz, could put Walter Sabo’s future with Merlin in doubt as he is generally recognized as the architect of the innovative direction that has marked the company’s questionable starts in both Chicago and New York. As pointed out here last week, although industry conventional wisdom indicates that it takes time – as much as a year or more – for spoken-word upstarts to gain ratings traction (especially groundbreaking ones), today’s economically stressed environment and “ADD/PPM world” pressure for instantaneous results would likely contribute to nervous investors and the knee jerk response to make changes…especially at an extremely high-profile operation as Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media. Thus, the “big tweak” might be morphing into a significant format change. Meanwhile, Williams, who spent most of his career working in news and talk radio in California at such stations as KNX, KABC and KFWB in Los Angeles and KFBK in Sacramento, is looking for his next opportunity after moving from California three months ago to become part of the new Merlin station.
Westwood One’s Dennis Miller and Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly Partner for Live Shows. The last time Bill O’Reilly did a series of live events, then-FNC employed Glenn Beck was his partner. This time Dennis Miller – a man who is no stranger to the live stage – joins O’Reilly for the “Bolder and Fresher” tour with stops at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut; the Landmark Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City; and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California. It’s billed as “Bill O’Reilly, godfather of ‘no spin’ and in-your-face television, and Dennis Miller, the king of references and rants, are teaming up to take the country by storm!” Tickets are not cheap for this event. The cheap seats are $95 and the VIP tix are $500 but include a meet-and-greet, photos with O’Reilly and Miller and autographs.
Premiere Networks’ George Noory Publishes New Book Talking to the Dead. The host of Premiere’s “Coast to Coast AM” joins forces with paranormal experts and co-author Rosemary Ellen Guiley to author Talking to the Dead (Forge Books 2011) – the third book for George Noory. According to Noory, the book “explores the colorful history and personalities behind spirit communications, weaving together spirituality, metaphysics, science and technology.” Billed as a high-tech guide to spiritual communications, “Noory and Guiley use historical research to explore the science behind radio wave production and how radios carry supernatural voices; examples of successful spiritual communication around the globe; the possible existence of parallel universes from which we hear voices; the history of electromagnetic communication methods, including work by scientific giants like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla; and much more.”
Peak Broadcasting Goes Sports Full Time on KFXD, Boise. KFXD has been positioned as KIDO 630 in the past as a sister sports and talk outlet to news/talk KIDO 580. Dan Patrick’s DirecTV-produced show has been part of the lineup for years. Now, Peak Broadcasting gives the station a separate identity and takes it sports full time as SportsRadio 630 The Fan. The station keeps Dan Patrick in AM drive and uses content from Fox Sports Radio throughout the day except for the local Riley Corcoran show from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm and the Tester and Riley show (in which Dave Tester joins Corcoran) from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
TRN’s Michael Savage Gains Clearance in Phoenix. Talk Radio Network star Michael Savage is back in the Phoenix market on Francis Battaglia-owned KFNX in the afternoon drive slot airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Savage’s program was last cleared in the market on Clear Channel’s KFYI.
Obama Jobs Bill, ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ 2012 GOP Candidates and Euro Zone Instability Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/10). The fate of President Obama’s jobs bill, the ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, the battle for the Republican nomination for president and the policies to stabilize the Euro Zone’s economy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Walter Sabo Says Merlin’s FM News Operations in New York and Chicago off to Good Start. In an exclusive interview for TALKERS TV conducted this past Friday in New York City (right before Hurricane Irene made its way up the coast to the Big Apple), Merlin Media COO Walter Sabo praises his company’s talent roster, sales staff, and CEO Randy Michaels for creating and marketing all-news FM products in New York and Chicago strategically targeted for 25-54 year old working families. These are WEMP-FM, New York (FM News 101.9) and WWWN-FM, Chicago (FM News 101.1). When asked to further define the term “working families,” Sabo responds, “Families in which mom and dad go to work.” He says compared to the audiences of today’s traditional all-news stations, 25-54 represents the younger demographic. “They need the same information as everyone else but the key to reaching them is to understand they are extremely busy.” He explains, “They are busy running to their jobs, going to day care, picking up the kids. Their day is a series of high-pressure points regarding the clock. They don’t have time to listen to any information that isn’t right to the point.” He credits the impressive list of advertisers already signed up for these relatively brand new stations to the competence of their sales department and the fact that advertisers “immediately embrace” the concept of all news targeted to a young working audience. TALKERS monitors on the ground in New York City report that FM News 101.9 delivered “superb coverage” of Hurricane Irene throughout all phases of its assault on the region. View this must-see interview, “Lunch with Walter Sabo,” on TALKERS TV on this page.
CBS Aggressively Leads Sports Talk Invasion of FM. The FM band is quickly being populated by sports talk radio and it’s not a stretch to say CBS is leading the charge. TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian writes that when the company launched WXYT-FM, Detroit four years ago, it wasn’t planning beyond that station. But as CBS Radio SVP of programming Chris Oliviero tells TALKERS, “We realized this is a road we should go down from a programming, as well as a general radio business standpoint. We love the format and think we are good at doing it.” With the simulcast of WIP, Philadelphia beginning on September 6, CBS will have nine sports outlets on FM in the top 30 markets. Read Mike Kinosian’s in-depth look at CBS Radio’s FM sports initiative here.
Josefa Salinas of Hot 92.3 to Speak at Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum 2011. Well-known Los Angeles radio personality Josefa Salinas who hosts a widely-heard weekend community affairs talk program on Clear Channel’s urban oldies “Hot 92.3” (WHHT-FM) will join the growing all-star roster of speakers at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum. Salinas will participate on the panel titled “The Issues Facing Southern California: Challenges and Solutions.” Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison it will be the only panel at the event which focuses entirely on public issues outside the industry. (The rest of the event will address inner-industry issues.) Panelists include Charles Feldman of KNX, Los Angeles; Roger Hedgecock of KOGO, San Diego and Radio America; Stephanie Miller of KTLK, Los Angeles and Dial Global; Doug McIntyre of KABC, Los Angeles and Citadel Media; Patt Morrison of KPCC, FM Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; and John Phillips of KABC, Los Angeles. TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey states, “We have an amazingly well balanced panel of stars coming together here and the addition of such a community-involved radio broadcaster as Josefa Salinas really rounds it out beautifully. Considering the intensely controversial issues facing the region and the firepower that’ll be sitting up there on that stage, we should be in for an explosive session in the tradition of our most exciting Talk Rumbles.” The Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum 2011, presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club, will take place on Thursday, October 20 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. It features a lineup of more than 30 leading talk broadcasters including keynote speaker Bill Handel of KFI, Los Angeles and most of the top program directors from the major talk stations in Southern California. For the complete up-to-the-minute agenda and registration information, please click here.
WQXI, Atlanta Adds Dave Archer to PM Drive Show. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and current Falcons Radio Network analyst Dave Archer is named co-host of the Lincoln Financial Media station’s PM drive show alongside Mike Bell. Archer replaces David Pollack who becomes co-host of the new Palmer and Pollack show on the station. WQXI general manager Andrew Saltzman states, “There is no question that Dave Archer is the perfect guy to co-host our afternoon drive show. As an eight-year veteran of the Atlanta Falcons Radio Network, along with his six-year career as a NFL quarterback, Dave truly understands the intricacies of collegiate and professional sports. Most important is his tremendous chemistry with Bell. These guys have a lot of fun together and so will our listeners.”
Changes in PM Drive at KTSA, San Antonio? Nothing confirmed by owner Border Media Partners yet but TALKERS hears PM drive host Kevin Wall is out at KTSA, San Antonio and Sean Rima takes over his show. Rima worked for BMP in Austin at KXBT-FM before the company flipped it from talk to oldies. There was a report Rima was going to host a program at an online talk venture BMP was developing but the status of that is unclear.
Stephan Multi-Media Producing “Different” 9/11 Special. Doug Stephan, host of the nationally syndicated morning show, “Good Day,” is producing a September 11 anniversary special available for broadcast the weekend of September, 9-11. Media Management Group’s Craig Whetstine says, “We think it is different from most of the specials. It is a three-hour special, entitled, “Stronger Than Ever: Ten Years Past September 11.” Doug isn’t going to be looking back at the events of 9/11/01; he’ll be focused on where we are today and looking forward.” The program is being made available to non-affiliates of “Good Day” providing the program is not already heard in the market. Contact Whetstine at 212-545-8383.
Clear Channel Changes Market Managers in Seattle. Michele Grosenick is suddenly out as market manager of Clear Channel’s Seattle-Tacoma stations that include sports KJR. In is former CBS Radio manager Lisa Decker who left that company earlier this year. CC EVP of operations for the Western Region Susan Karis says of Decker, “Lisa is an amazing addition to the Clear Channel team. She has proven success with an impressive track record in delivering results in a highly competitive field.”
WDFN, Detroit Personality Tom Kowalski Dies Unexpectedly at 51. Known as Tom “Killer” Kowalski, he wrote for the Oakland Press and co-hosted PM drive at Clear Channel’s sports WDFN with Sean Baligian and Ryan Terpstra. His beat was the Detroit Lions and he got his nickname for his dogged pursuit as a reporter. CC Detroit market manager Til Levesque posted the following on WDFN’s website: “It is with a very heavy heart that I share with you that Tom Kowalski passed away this morning. Tom was a tremendous talent and his passion for all things Lions and the NFL never faltered. He was a tremendous asset to us on WDFN AM. His presence will be greatly missed in afternoons not to mention in the hallways and around the building. Having him on our team made us a better sports talk station and for that I will always be thankful of his time with CCD.”
Former WCCO, Minneapolis Talk Host Brad Walton Dies at Age 60. Walton was a Twin Cities media figure who spent 11 years at CBS Radio’s WCCO handling weekend overnights and fill-in shifts beginning in 1997. Walton wrote a book in 2004 titled, How Does the Heart Know Love?, a personal story about his life after open heart surgery.
Fox Sports Radio Hits 400 Affiliate Mark. The addition of CBS Radio’s new Cleveland FM sports talk outlet, “SportsRadio 92.3 The Fan” (WKRK-FM), on August 29 gives Fox Sports Radio 400 affiliate stations 11 years after its debut in August of 2000. FSRN vice president and general manager Don Martin says of the milestone, “This is a proud moment for the FSR family, as we welcome Cleveland’s WKRK 92.3 ‘The Fan’ and eclipse the 400-affiliate mark. None of this would be possible without the tremendous product that our talent delivers every day and, most importantly, the relationships we have with our incredible affiliates. Fox Sports Radio and our affiliates are the true definition of a team.”
Obama Economic Policy, 2012 Presidential Race, Irene Aftermath/Global Warming and Libya Turmoil Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/29). President Obama’s plan to fix the ailing economy, the 2012 presidential race, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and global warming and the state of Libya as the Gaddhafi family flees were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.