Part One: CBS Launches New Network
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — “Happy Sports Year!”
That could easily be the battle cry sentiment among ardent fans to welcome 2013, even if it means that many of them will require scorecards to track the whereabouts of some of their favorite sports radio personalities.
A perennial sports talk talent MVP tops the headlines by switching teams, while some new names get to crack opening-day lineups, as not one – but two – national sports networks are being introduced this year, each carrying instantly-recognizable name branding.
One of them in fact, is making its maiden voyage today (Wednesday, January 2) and, if all goes according to plan, many radio station managers and programmers will be echoing that “Happy Sports Year!” declaration in about 11 months as their way of assessing 2013.
ESPN O&O WEPN-AM/FM, New York Separate Sports Talk Programming. English-language sports talk is now heard only on the FM at ESPN O&O WEPN in New York as the sports media giant took the AM side Spanish with the debut of ESPN Deportes Radio Nueva York 1050 on Friday, just in time to broadcast the New York Jets season opener victory over division rival Buffalo in Spanish. Station GM David Roberts says, “We are thrilled to add the New York Jets to our solid roster of play-by-play offerings just in time for our launch. There is tremendous passion for the NFL among the Hispanic community of New York, and this alliance with an elite franchise will further position 1050 AM as the Spanish-language audio destination for the Hispanic sports fan in New York.” The station debuts two local sports talk shows today. The first is “Firma ESPN” from 7:00 am to 10:00 am billed as the only radio program devoted to the New York Hispanic sports fan. It is hosted by ESPN Deportes Radio veteran Renato Bermudez alongside the renowned Ernesto Jerez, the “signature Spanish-language voice of MLB,” plus Jorge Ebro and many other ESPN Deportes Radio experts. The second program is “Zona ESPN NY,” airing from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and hosted by Carolina Guillen, Sebastian Christensen, along with Enrique Rojas.
Talk Host Ian Punnett Suffering from Tinnitus; Cuts Back On-Air Hours. Hubbard Radio morning drive talk host Ian Punnett is cutting his hours on the radio by half in order to curb his exposure to audio that aggravates his tinnitus – a condition he’s been dealing with since 2009. The Pioneer Press reports Punnett, who co-hosts the morning drive show on KTMY, Minneapolis with his wife Margery, joins her on the air from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. Margery starts the program at 5:30 with Elizabeth Ries and wraps it up at 10:00 am. Punnett tells the Pioneer Press he first noticed the intense ringing in his head during a remote broadcast in 2009. “It never goes away. It’s the last sound I hear at night, it’s the first sound I hear in the morning. It often wakes me up in the middle of the night.” The story notes Punnett and his doctors have decided cutting back on his air time is part of a more aggressive treatment for the condition.
Host Shuffle at ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles. 710 ESPN Los Angeles flips its midday and PM drive shows moving Steve Mason and John Ireland to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm shift beginning today. Midday duo Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley go to the PM drive slot. The changes also include the debut of the late morning “ESPNLA Now” show airing from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and hosted by Mark Willard.
Good Karma’s WKNR, Cleveland Hit with $4k Fine for Contest Violation. The FCC is hitting Good Karma’s sports talk WKNR, Cleveland with a $4,000 forfeiture order for running what it called a “bogus” contest called “Who Said That?” from November 2007 until September 2009. The contest involved callers having to identify the speaker of a clip played over the air. The complainant asserted that the station originally talked about offering prizes and then “dropped talking about prizes.” Good Karma tried to argue that the programming in question was not a contest but was more accurately characterized as a program. But the commission ruled that the stations did conduct a contest and didn’t “fully and accurately” and “with sufficient frequency” list the prizes that a contestant could possibly win.
Rare Opportunities at Federated Media’s WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne. Jon Zimney tells TALKERS magazine that there are two tremendous opportunities at Federated Media’s heritage news/talk WOWO, Fort Wayne. After the departure of OM and PM drive host Gregg Henson in August, Woody Zimmerman was named PD for the station. But he’s now been re-assigned to general manager of the company’s Warsaw, Indiana cluster. In the interim, Zimney, who serves as program director and news director at Federated’s WTRC, South Bend – 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel – is doing double duty programming both stations. Additionally, WTRC morning host Casey Hendrickson is handling the PM drive duties at WOWO. Federated Media is looking for two individuals to fill the PD and talk host positions at WOWO. For the program director position, Zimney is looking for someone who can get the most out of talented talk show hosts and make them even better; has a strong understanding of local news and solid station programming; understands great news writing, presentation, and on-air execution; has a strong sense of news ethics and integrity; embraces and champions new technology in news (web, text, social media, video, etc); has examples of really good marketing, promotion and community involvement projects that they’ve conceived and executed. For the talk host position, they are looking for “a personality who is well-rounded in politics, social issues and recognizes compelling stories that generate talk. The ideal host is entertaining, informative and creative…can debate with listeners and guests in a spirited, but respectful manner, follows news like a hawk, expresses passion about local issues as well as national issues and also recognizes how everyday life can contribute to a show that is unique and compliments our winning lineup of Beck, Rush and Sean.” To apply for either position, e-mail materials to Jon Zimney at: email@example.com.
Fox Sports Radio’s Petros & Money End Summer with “Deep V & Capri” Remote Bash. Fox Sports Radio Network’s Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith broadcast live from the Hooters restaurant in Anaheim last week for their end-of-summer bash dubbed the “deep V & capri” party. Papadakis (l) and Smith (r) are pictured here with a couple of listeners sporting their deep v t-shirts and capri pants at the event.
CBS Radio Philadelphia Partners with Clean Air Council for Greenfest Philly. CBS Radio’s four Philadelphia stations took part in yesterday’s “Greenfest Philly” at Headhouse Square in Philadelphia for the 7th annual event designed to promote sustainable living. All-news KYW, sports WIP-AM/FM, news/talk WPHT and classic hits WOGL all broadcast live from the event that showcased businesses, regional green innovators, and non-profits of all sizes with strong commitments to sustainability.
Spoken-Word Content Aggregator Stitcher Offers Offline Mode. Stating that 38% of its users indicated they prefer to listen to the service offline to protect against mobile data overages, Stitcher released an offline mode update that enables anytime, anywhere listening for its iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad apps. “Listeners can now seamlessly access and discover the best of over 10,000 shows at work, at the gym, anywhere, regardless of cellular or WiFi connectivity,” the company states. CEO Noah Shanok says, “Our goal is to make on-demand radio more accessible than ever. Our most requested feature, offline mode, solves the biggest obstacle to listening on the go or when users would prefer to use Wi-Fi and conserve mobile data usage.” Stitcher bills itself as “the mobile leader in on-demand news, entertainment, sports and talk radio.”
Let Your News/Talk Flow. WLAC, Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill is pictured here with the Bellamy Brothers at his studios in Nashville. The legendary country duo stopped by the show to play some songs from their latest release, including the title track, “Pray for Me.”
Contentious End to Democratic National Convention for Some Talkers on Radio Row…But Not All. By now, many talk media people are aware of a piece by conservative pundit John Fund in the National Review Online that beats up the Obama Administration in which he alleges it kept high-level Democrats from appearing on radio programs hosted by conservatives that camped out on radio row at the convention. Radio America’s Roger Hedgecock and Breitbart Radio’s Larry O’Connor are quoted in the piece saying they were frozen out from getting any decent guests. Hedgecock reportedly packed up and left early while KRLA, Los Angeles morning show co-host Ben Shapiro says his attempt to get John Podesta on their show with Heidi Harris and Brian Whitman was stopped when Podesta’s handler intervened. However, nationally syndicated talk host Kevin McCullough (also principal of content creator XtreMedia) has a different take. He writes, “If talk show hosts are outraged that big names aren’t sitting down to speak with them in Charlotte, then they are only weakening their own brand. Have we not learned anything from the attacks on Limbaugh and fellow talkers? Are we actually claiming that guests are the prerequisite for what should be our own success? We have the bully pulpit of a live microphone every day, and if a talker can’t turn that into a distinct advantage for their own purposes every day, then they are simply in the wrong business. Talk hosts, but specifically CONSERVATIVES, should be slow to anger when liberals refuse to go on our platforms. As a conservative, I’m eager to go on liberal outlets, because I actually have the chance to put my ideas in front of people who disagree with me — I actually have a chance to win them over. Whining because people who disagree with you won’t come on your show is pretty much the polar opposite of that idea. As idea generators we should never be dependent upon someone sitting across a table from us to be interesting, to have something to say, or to be able to say it well. I hope that the younger generation of talkers will observe this fundamental truth…The more you depend on other people to generate YOUR success, the less successful you will ever be!”
Newsy Approach at the DNC Gets the Guests. TRN-operated America’s Radio News Network reports it had no problems getting high-profile Democrats to sit in front of its microphones. ARNN – which provides 15 hours of long-form news content to its more than 350 affiliates – reports to TALKERS that on day three of the convention it delivered reports to its stations that included interviews with: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Delaware Governor Jack Markel, Senator Kent Conrad, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, among others.
Talk Host Ray Lucia Responds to SEC Actions. Yesterday, TALKERS magazine reported nationally syndicated financial advice talk host Ray Lucia’s company – RJL Companies – is being charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with misleading potential investors and violating several sections of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Lucia says his company will vigorously defend itself in the case against a slide presentation his company has not used in two years. He cites former SEC Commissioner, Roel Campos, who is now the head of Locke Lord’s SEC Enforcement and Regulation practice, who made the following statement: “It is disappointing that the SEC would file an administrative matter because it principally disagrees with an inflation rate that has been used regularly by economists and other professionals. No harm is alleged to have occurred to any investors and this matter appears to reflect an honest disagreement about statistics and estimates of investor returns under hypothetical situations. Mr. Lucia disagrees strenuously with the SEC’s allegations that affected his estimates of possible returns. This type of matter should have been resolved during the inspection process.”
Talk Host Phil Hendrie Disagrees with Syndicator’s Suit Against Dial Global Et Al. Consider TRN-FM-syndicated talk show host Phil Hendrie not one who supports the suit by TRN CEO Mark Masters against Dial Global and numerous other industry program suppliers. Hendrie issued a statement that after reading the suit and, especially the paragraph that states, “Today, by bringing this Action, Plaintiffs stand not only for themselves, but also for every smaller independent syndicator, network or programming producer, and for the hosts, producers, technicians and other Americans whose livelihoods are dependent upon these independent syndicators,” his response is as follows: “I’d like to make it very clear that TRN does not represent my views and I certainly don’t need them ‘standing up’ for me in regard to this lawsuit, which I don’t support. My livelihood is not dependent on TRN.”
ESPN Makes Inroads Against WFAN in New York City. In a piece in the New York Daily News, writer David Hinckley reports ESPN’s WEPN-AM/FM – to split apart when the AM side becomes ESPN Deportes today – climbed a hair above longtime CBS Radio’s sports talk market dominator WFAN in the midday slot of 10:00 am to 1:00 pm in the ratings (we’re assuming persons 6-plus) for Colin Cowherd’s and Mike Lupica’s shows. Hinckley’s story points out that WEPN’s David Roberts admits the flip of WEPN-AM to Spanish language may affect some of its English-speaking audience but the new 98.7 signal has been a smash for the station overall. Read Hinckley’s piece about sports talk in New York City here.
Barron’s Names Ric Edelman #1 Independent Financial Advisor in America. The radio and television talk show host and principal of the Edelman Financial Services firm – which manages more than $7.9 billion for more than 17,000 clients – is named the number one independent financial advisor in the nation by Barron’s for the third time. Edelman states, “I am excited and honored. We are committed to sharing our knowledge with consumers across the country. To be recognized by Barron’s repeatedly for these efforts is truly gratifying.” In addition to his independently syndicated talk radio program, “The Truth About Money,” that emanates from flagship WMAL-AM/FM, Washington and is heard in 57 other markets, Edelman hosts a public TV program of the same name.
President Obama’s Record Tops the Talkers TenTM for the Week of September 3-7. The president’s record during his first four years in office was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, set against the backdrop of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Coming in at #2 this week was the DNC speeches. At #3 was the controversy over God and Jerusalem in the Democratic Party platform and at #4 was the United States’ slide on the global competitiveness scale. The Talkers TenTM – a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio – is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The XtreMedia-produced Sunday evening “Dani Johnson Radio Show” is picked up by affiliates: KTUR, Salt Lake City; KKVV, Las Vegas; WDRU-AM/FM, Raleigh/Durham; WTRU-AM/WSAL, Winston-Salem; WTRU-FM, Greensboro; WLES-AM/FM, Richmond, Virginia; and KTIA, Des Moines…..“Free Talk Live” featuring hosts Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is picked up by WDOV, Dover, Delaware…..Premiere Networks’ Bob & Tom show is added to the morning drive slot at KGON, Portland…..“Into Tomorrow” with Dave Graveline is added to the program schedule at WXDE, Lewes, Delaware and WSOY, Decatur, Illinois…..The weekend “Café Mocha” show hosted by MC Lyte, Loni Love and Angelique Perrin joins the programming lineup at WHUR, Washington, DC; WKJS/WKJM, Richmond, Virginia; WKZJ, Columbus, Georgia; WBGA, Brunswick, Georgia; KZWA, Lake Charles, Louisiana; and KKST, Alexandria, Louisiana.
Talkin’ and Walkin’ After Midnight. Syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs of KDWN, Las Vegas; Genesis Communications Network, and Sirius XM Satellite Radio is the current star of TALKERS TV (see video box at upper right) where she is seen and heard singing the Patsy Cline classic “Walkin’ After Midnight” (although Dr. Daliah tells TALKERS she was doing the more recent Kelly Clarkson arrangement). The impromptu performance took place at TRN-syndicated host Jerry Doyle‘s Labor Day BBQ at his home near Las Vegas.
Talk Radio Wraps Up Major Week of High-Profile Broadcasting and News Gathering. The Republican National Convention week was a busy one for the country’s news/talk stations as well as more than 100 outlets that chose to broadcast live from radio row in Tampa and many more than that sent hosts, staffers and news people to the city to cover the convention and report back to their markets. According to a report issued to TALKERS by the Republican National Committee, this year’s radio row generated some 1,551 radio interviews smashing 2008′s record of 1,263. The convention radio row is not only fertile ground upon which to produce a live broadcast with a huge pool of political experts, candidates and surrogates available as guests in one compact location, but it is also an opportunity to get some national attention as Compass Media Networks’ Todd Schnitt did on Fox News Channel (upper left photo). Talk hosts in major markets and nationally syndicated stars certainly have the ability to book big-name guests via phone but the chance to actually rub elbows with big political stars, speak with them face-to-face and chat in a “live” situation is unique to this political season. It also provides members of the talk radio community with a place and reason to meet and network in a working situation conducive to enhancing existing relationships and forging new ones. The Ernest Istook program, hosted by the former congressman and produced by WYD Media, also emanated from the convention site this week and gave Istook the opportunity to chat with U.S. Rep. and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (here at right).
Yankees Baseball Stays on WCBS, New York for at Least One More Season. The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick reported it earlier yesterday and CBS Radio confirms it in a release. Apparently the Yankees have rejected overtures from ESPN to join the company’s new FM-enhanced sports talk outlet WEPN for they will stay with WCBS for the 2013 season. Numerous industry watchers had expected to see a big bidding war for Yankees baseball and perhaps we’ll see that next season but if this report is correct, it’ll be another year before CBS Radio and Disney/ESPN battle it out for Yankees rights.
Bill Rehkopf Returns to KDKA, Pittsburgh. The former morning news man at CBS Radio’s KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh returns to the Steel City after being involved in the start-up of the company’s Washington, DC all-newser WNEW-FM. Rehkopf was the featured morning drive anchor at the station. Now, he’ll anchor KDKA-AM’s “KDKA Afternoon News” from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Current anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas remains with the station to work on the PM drive show. In a statement, Rehkopf says, “Working in the nation’s capital was extremely exciting and rewarding. However, my family and I have deep roots in Pittsburgh and this is a terrific opportunity at KDKA. It’s a perfect professional fit for me and works well for my family. I look forward to providing Pittsburgh with a quality program of essential news, information and entertainment to wrap up their work day.”
Reports of Mel Selling Sirius XM Shares Raises Eyebrows. In a release issued after yesterday’s closing bell, news from Sirius XM Satellite Radio that CEO Mel Karmazin will be selling an additional 30 million shares of the publicly traded company (Sirius XM SIRI) this fall has both Wall Street and radio industry observers speculating as to what it means. Considering the timing involved – Mel’s contract is up this year and major investor Liberty Media (LMCA) is closing in seeking control – there is evidence to support the educated guess that the company’s chief is heading for the door. Other possibilities include that Mel is simply cashing in his chips for a job clearly well done or that it is a maneuver to throw an obstacle in the way of Liberty taking control. The price to exercise the 30 million options shares is $0.43. This means the shares will cost Karmazin $12,900,000. If he were to sell them all at $2.50 the price would be a cool $75,000,000, delivering a profit of $62,100,000. Analyst Spencer Osbourne writes in the Seeking Alpha newsletter, “I can imagine that the news relating to an insider at Sirius XM selling 30,000,000 shares will not be well received by the market. Be prepared, because this news is going to cause some wild speculation and debate. I would not be surprised to see the stock price move down on this news. Between the Liberty cloud and now the Karmazin cloud, the uncertainty is building for Sirius XM.”
NBC Sports Radio Announces Affiliates for Next Week’s Launch. As NBC Sports Radio and partner Dial Global prepare to debut their late night and overnight sports talk radio shows and hourly sports news reports on Tuesday, September 4, the list of affiliates for the programming is being made public. The build-up to a national affiliate base with a big rollout is always a challenge and NBC is gearing up with a lot of medium and small market stations for its sports talk shows and has some major market clears on small or outlying signals. For example, The Amani & Eytan 10:00 pm to 1:00 am show will air in markets including Huntsville, Santa Barbara, Evansville and Roanoke. But it will also clear secondary signals in the Washington, DC, Denver and Charlotte markets. Both Amani & Eytan and the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Erik Kusilias show will be heard on WPOP, Hartford. To see where the shows will debut, click here.
Emmis Delivers Good News to Staff in the Form of Bonuses. Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan issued an e-mail memo to staffers informing them that they would be receiving cash bonuses to reward their loyalty and dedication to the company during these tough economic times. Full-time employees will be getting a $1,000 bonus while part-time staffers will each get $250.
Salem Communications to Pay Q3 Dividend. The board of directors of Salem Communications declares a dividend for the third quarter of 2012 that will pay shareholders of Class A and Class B common stock 3 and ½ cents per share. The dividend will be paid to all shareholders of record as of September 14 and will be paid on September 28.
Katie Couric’s TV Talk Show to Debut on September 10. The show, titled simply, “Katie,” will be broadcast in syndication beginning on Monday, September 10 and all media eyes will be on the television legend as she begins a new chapter in her career. She was once the most popular personality in morning talk television but Katie Couric left to take the helm of the “CBS Evening News,” a job that even her harshest critics would admit is probably beyond anyone’s ability to succeed in this day and age. But as Howard Kurtz examines in his excellent piece in the Daily Beast, the question is whether Couric’s newsy approach to issues and distant personality will grab daytime TV viewers. Couric clearly appears to be bucking the trend in what makes successful daytime talk TV but she appears determined. Read Kurtz’s piece here.
Attention Radio Sales Staffers! Your Job Was Born 90 Years Ago This Week. This week marks the 90th anniversary of the first sale of radio time. It was back in 1922 when New York radio station WEAF – owned by Bell Telephone Company – sold a 10-minute commercial to the Hawthorne Court Apartments in Jackson Heights, New York for $50. At about 5:00 pm on August 28, 1922 a pitch for the apartment complex was made to anyone who happened to be listening and the business of commercial radio was born. It didn’t take off like a rocket, as radio historians will tell you, but it certainly was the beginning of an industry. NPR produced a fantastic segment commemorating this event. Listen to the segment or read the transcript at NPR’s site here. (Photo: MTM Enterprises)
The Economy, Health Care and Foreign Policy Issues Topped the Talkers TenTM for the Week of August 27 – 31. These issues, as related to the presidential campaign and set against the backdrop of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. Coming in at #2 on this week’s chart was the RNC speeches. At #3 was the mainstream media’s coverage of the RNC and the firing of Yahoo! News bureau chief David Chalain and at #4 was Tropical Storm Isaac. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top talk topics as discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Dial Global’s Jim Bohannon and “Jill on Money” join the program lineup at WZKT, Salisbury-Ocean City, Maryland…..Benztown Radio Network morning show “The Todd N Tyler Radio Empire” hosted by Mike Tyler and Todd Brandt replaces the syndicated version of Mark & Brian at KXFM, Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo…..“Malcolm Out Loud” is added to the programming at KKYT, Ridgecrest, California.
New York Sports and Urban Worlds Reeling from Emmis-ESPN Deal. Yesterday’s announcement from ESPN that it has signed an LMA deal with Emmis Communications to air sports talk WEPN’s programming on 98.7 – the home of urban Kiss FM – sent shockwaves through the sports and urban radio communities. The drive to get sports talk on FM – by either CBS Radio or ESPN…or both – has been closely watched for the past several years. Many thought CBS Radio would make a move to put WFAN on FM before ESPN but that was not the case. On the urban side, the melding of Kiss FM and WBLS-FM as Emmis will sell the intellectual property of Kiss FM to YMF Media so it can create a Kiss FM at 107.5 has some in the urban music community crying foul. As for the financials, Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports that Emmis gets $8.4 million for the first year of a 12-year LMA with an increase of 3.5% annually. It expects to realize $10 million for the intellectual property of Kiss FM and, all told, the deal means $96 million for Emmis. Now, industry watchers will be intent on CBS Radio to see how fast the company moves to get an FM signal for the venerable sports giant WFAN.
Greater Media’s WPEN-AM/FM, Philadelphia Inks Deal with NBA’s 76ers. Philadelphia sports talk duo WPEN-AM/FM – 97.5 The Fanatic and 950 ESPN Radio – agree to a multi-year deal to air 76ers basketball on the stations beginning with the first round of this season’s playoffs. All of the games this year and through the course of the contract will air on 97.5 and many will be simulcast on 950 AM. 76ers broadcast voice Tom McGinnis will continue to serve as the play-by-play announcer for the games. Greater Media market manager John Fullam says, “We know the future of the Sixers is bright, and we look forward to being a central part of the fan experience on Sixers game nights. Adding NBA play-by-play to 97.5 The Fanatic and 950 ESPN Radio is yet another significant step forward in fulfilling our commitment to offer Philadelphians the finest in sports programming. We are especially gratified that we will not have to wait until next fall for Sixers games to start broadcasting on our air.” Prior to this deal, 76ers basketball had aired on CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talker WIP.
WJIM, Lansing and Michigan Talk Network Name Steve Gruber and Jo Ann Paul AM Drive Hosts. Former WILX-TV, Lansing news anchor Steve Gruber and WLNS-TV, Lansing personality Jo Ann Paul are the new co-hosts of the WJIM, Lansing-based morning drive show that’s also heard across Michigan on via the Michigan Talk Network. Gruber and Paul will work with current producer Amanda Wall and news anchor Gary Austin. They take over the role held previously by Michael Patrick Shiels who left the Cumulus Media operation in February. Cumulus tested a number of potential hosts before going with Gruber and Paul.
WLQR-AM/FM, Toledo Adds New PM Drive Show. Cumulus Media sports talk outlet WLQR-AM/FM, Toledo announces the debut of “Drive Time with Miller and Bellino” hosted by Mike Miller and Anthony Bellino. The duo’s program will air in the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot beginning Monday, April 30. In order to make room for the new program, WLQR cuts an hour from Norm Wamer’s “The Front Row” program which will air from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. The show will emanate from local car dealership The Monroe Superstore. In a statement, Anthony Bellino says, “We want our listeners to be able to interact with us, and have the opportunity to interact with our guests.”
United Stations Radio Networks Renews with Bloomberg. New York-based United Stations Radio Networks announces a deal that will continue to have it sell, market and distribute various financial news and business programs created and produced by Bloomberg Radio. USRN’s Jim Higgins states, “Bloomberg is at the very top of the financial industry when it comes to the delivery of news, data and analysis, and in turn, they recognize that we’ve been solid partners for them. Our affiliates, advertisers and sponsors are all proud to be associated with the Bloomberg brand, and so are we.”
2012 Presidential Race Tops Talkers TenTM for Fourth Straight Week. The 2012 presidential race was the most-talked-about topic on news/talk radio for the fourth straight week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM chart for the week of April 23-27. Coming in at #2 was the Supreme Court hearing of the Arizona illegal immigration law case. Following at # 3 was the euro zone economic jitters tied with weak U.S. jobs growth and at #4 was the Environmental Protection Agency’s attack on the gas and oil industries. The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research into the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio in America and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish is added to Fisher’s KVI, Seattle…..“The Handyman Show” with Glenn Haege picks up new affiliates WBCK-FM, Battle Creek, Michigan; WMMI, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan; WBCO, Bucyrus, Ohio; KATX-FM, Eastland, Texas; and WRHL, Rochelle, Illinois.
ESPN to Take Over Emmis’ Kiss FM in New York Beginning Sunday Afternoon. The rumors of an FM signal for ESPN’s New York sports talker WEPN were true as ESPN is announcing it will begin simulcasting WEPN, New York on Emmis-owned WRKS-FM (98.7) on Sunday afternoon (4/29). Rumored talent changes are also taking effect. Stephen A. Smith is being paired up with Ryan Ruocco for the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm shift and Mike Lupica moves to a 12:00 noon start for his program. In making the announcement, WEPN VP/GM Dave Roberts states, “This move to the FM dial is in keeping with the trend of sports radio shifting and offers an even broader reach for our content.” The two stations will simulcast through the summer and in September WEPN 1050 AM will become a Spanish-language sports outlet airing ESPN Deportes content. A press conference is scheduled for 1:00 pm this afternoon where details will be fleshed out. As for the urban format of Kiss FM, Emmis is selling the intellectual property of the format to YMF Media and the station will move to WBLS-FM at 107.5.
Feature Series – Part 3: Walter Sabo on Targeted Topics Vital to FM Talk Success. In the third of a four-part series for TALKERS on building a successful FM talk station, Sabo Media president Walter Sabo discusses the importance of targeting topics to appeal to the desired demographic. Sabo says that, unlike AM news/talk, politics is too narrow a subject to bring in the audience necessary to build cume and be successful. “Common sense suggests that very few of the people you know spend much of their day talking about politics. That’s why cable channels focused on politics have astonishingly low ratings. Lower than any radio station in your city.” Sabo maintains that talk on FM will be successful (gaining younger-demo ratings and revenue beyond what AM news/talkers typically do) only when the topics are carefully chosen to reflect what large numbers of the target demo are talking about. “Your FM talk station is trying to reach an audience that is drawn to popular water cooler topics because that’s what they hear on all FM music personality shows. Political talk is what repulses most 18-49 year olds from the AM band. They are, instead, attracted to the topics heard on CHR, Hot AC and country personality morning shows. Hit shows. Those shows are your FM talk competition, not AM talk radio. Read Walter Sabo’s entire column here.
Cumulus All-News Rumors Heat Up. There have been rumblings about Cumulus Media preparing to flip underperforming music outlets to all-news in several markets. Some of this has been based on the registration of domain names with frequencies tied to the phrase “all news.” But the biggie is in Cumulus Media’s home base of Atlanta where there’s more fuel to add to the fire. Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports hearing a news staff is quietly (but apparently not too quietly) being assembled and some of them include former Atlanta-based CNN Radio staffers and some current and former WGST, Atlanta news people. Which station will it be? A leading candidate is classic hits WYAY-FM, Gainesville (at 106.7) according to some intense chatter in the market.
Keith Larson May Be Done at WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte. The late-morning host at Greater Media’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte told listeners to his program yesterday (4/25) that he expects to leave the station as he’s been notified his contract – set to expire May 24 – will not be renewed. The Charlotte Observer reports Keith Larson was told his deal would not be renewed but the station would like him to stay on as an at-will employee. It sounds as though Larson will likely not accept that offer. WBT general manager Rick Feinblatt tells the Observer he’s disappointed Larson took to the air with talk of the contract since nothing is set in stone yet but Larson told his audience he couldn’t go on the air and not talk about it. Last year, Larson started the independent advertising and marketing firm Larson Advertising and Media Associates. He tells the paper that may be where he concentrates his efforts for now.
Syndicated Talk Star Mike Gallagher Says Today’s Talent Must Understand Radio from Business Perspective. In addition to being one of talk radio’s most consistently successful air personalities, Salem Radio Network‘s Mike Gallagher tells TALKERS that it has never been more important for on-air talent to be fully connected to the business processes that make the industry tick. He says, “In today’s climate of technological change and financial challenge, you can’t just see yourself as a ‘talent’ who is somehow separate from all the other systems that make a radio station or syndication firm function. You must have a complete understanding of your company’s P&L as well as maintain relationships with advertisers. A talent needs to be in constant communication with the sales department and understand their problems.” Gallagher, who left day-to-day major market radio as a station employee at WABC, New York years ago to launch the groundbreaking syndication firm Dame-Gallagher (with former WGY, Albany owner John Dame) which was later acquired by Salem, will be a featured speaker at the forthcoming New Media Seminar on Thursday, June 7. The panel: Making Money in Talk Radio. Registration, nearing sellout, is open to working media only. For information call 413-565-5413.
Compass Media Networks to Offer 25 Anaheim Angels Games. Compass Media Networks makes Anaheim Angels play-by-play an MLB game of the week and will air 25 home and away contests beginning May 29 when the New York Yankees play at the Angels. As with its other sports programming, Compass will hire a broadcast crew and produce its own gamecasts that will be available nationwide. Dial Global will manage advertising sales for this multi-year contract. The company notes that with this deal, it will broadcast well over 160 major sporting events in 2012 including college basketball, college football and NFL football (which includes Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, and Sunday afternoon doubleheaders). Compass Media Networks CEO Peter Kosann says, “The Angels have a tremendous brand, fan base and momentum. We are honored and thankful for this opportunity.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. The 2012 NFL Draft begins tonight from Radio City Music Hall in New York and the big event is being covered by the sports media including Fox Sports Radio Network. The network notes that for the 12th straight year it will cover the event with Fox NFL Insider Jay Glazer leading the coverage. He’ll be joined by Fox Sports Radio college football draft expert Chris Landry, former USC Trojan and Fox Sports Radio host Petros Papadakis, and former NFL great Lincoln Kennedy…..SiriusXM is also on hand for the NFL Draft. Chris Russo and Dino Costa of Mad Dog Radio and Gil Brandt, Tim Ryan, Pat Kirwan and Adam Schein of SiriusXM NFL Radio will all be broadcasting from Radio City for the first round on Thursday. Bill Polian, the former Colts Vice Chairman and personnel guru who joined SiriusXM NFL Radio in January, will also be contributing to the satcaster’s draft coverage…..Syndicated talk host and actress Janine Turner – whose two-hour program is heard on KLIF, Dallas Saturday evenings at 9:00 pm – joins the Roger L. Simon-founded PJ Media as a regular columnist…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment names Jon Phillips the market manager for its Tulsa cluster that includes sports talk simulcast KTBZ/KAKC.
2012 Presidential Race, SCOTUS AZ Illegal Immigration Case, Euro Zone Economic Jitters, and New U.S. Spy Agency Among Top News/Talk Topics Yesterday (4/25). The 2012 presidential race; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments in the Arizona Illegal Immigration law; continued concerns over economic jitters in euro zone countries; and the announcement of the creation of a new U.S. spy agency were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Fox Sports Radio’s Loose Cannons Live from New Orleans. Fox Sports Radio Network’s “Loose Cannons” broadcast from New Orleans – the site of the Zurich Classic golf tournament – and hosted special guest Sean Payton. The suspended head coach of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints spoke about the recent story alleging Saints GM Mickey Loomis eavesdropped on opposing teams’ conversations from his luxury suite and called the allegations “garbage.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Vic “The Brick” Jacobs, Payton, Steve Hartman and Pat O’Brien.
Arbitron Releases Most Recent “Radio Today by the Numbers.” Arbitron lays out a graphically colorful and intense case for the power of radio in general, citing such eye-popping stats as “241 million Americans listen to radio each week – that’s 93% of everyone in this country listening to radio each week.” Arbitron states the report helps broadcasters “tell radio’s compelling story,” helps “agencies understand how radio excels at delivering their ads,” and helps “advertisers learn how radio reaches their customers at the right time.” The report culls its data from Arbitron’s RADAR 110, Scarborough Research’s Release 1 2011 and the Arbitron/Edison Media/Scarborough Research report “The Road Ahead” released in June of this year.
Bill Cunningham’s TV Show Beating Anderson Cooper in Three Major Markets. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter writes that Anderson Cooper’s eponymous daytime talk show has been picked up for another season and he wonders if WLW, Cincinnati talk host Bill Cunningham’s foray into national daytime TV talk will also continue. Kiesewetter says Tribune president of programming and entertainment Sean Compton tells him they are not ready to discuss their strategy yet as “we have a different strategy than a traditional distributor,” although he notes Cunningham’s ratings success versus Cooper. Cunningham beat Cooper in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles in both household ratings and persons 25-54 in the first two weeks of the November sweeps. The daytime TV talk show format pool will get even more crowded next fall when personalities such as Katie Couric, Steve Harvey, Jeff Probst, Bethenny Frankel and Trisha Goddard debut TV talk shows.
Sports Talk Broadcasters Jared Max and Steve Buckley Honored by OUT Magazine. As part of its OUT 100 feature – designed to recognize “the most inspiring people of 2011” – ESPN New York (WEPN) sportscaster Jared Max and Boston Herald columnist and WEEI, Boston regular Steve Buckley are featured. Both came out during 2011 and the magazine writes, “When Charles Barkley voiced his support for gay marriage and his disdain for homophobia in the sports world, ESPN Radio veteran sportscaster Jared Max took the opportunity to make a ripple himself when he came out on air. Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley also made the decision to come out in his column (it was his mother’s idea, he says) and followed that up by saying he made the biggest mistake of his life by not doing it sooner.” Max (top) and Buckley (bottom) are pictured here in a photo from the magazine.
CBS TV to Re-Tool “The Early Show” with Addition of Charlie Rose and Gayle King. According to a report in The New York Times, CBS TV is in the process of revamping its “Early Show” program as a result of the show’s flagging ratings – down 6% from the same period one year ago – and that will include the addition of PBS icon Charlie Rose and Oprah Winfrey Network talk host Gayle King. The report cites those close to the program speaking anonymously who say the two-hour news show will still be hosted by Erica Hill and Jeff Glor but will take a more serious, newsy approach in a conversational tone that CBS execs say is working for its “CBS Evening News” and “Face the Nation” programs. The new program is expected to debut sometime early in 2012.
Cumulus-Citadel Merger Gets DOJ and FCC Approval; Shareholder Vote Takes Place Today. The merger of radio companies Citadel and Cumulus has passed federal muster as both the FCC and the Department of Justice give their approval and the creation of the new radio company rests on shareholder votes today (9/15). To make the deal happen, Cumulus is forced to put three stations in a trust. Those are: Citadel’s country WCAT-FM, Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Cumulus’ CHR WWKL-FM, Palmyra, Pennsylvania and classic rock WRSR-FM, Owosso, Michigan in the Flint market. WRSR-FM goes into the Potential Broadcasting trust and must be programmed by the trust’s operators. WCAT-FM and WWKL-FM were being moved to the Volt Radio trust and will be reassigned to the Potential trust and also must be programmed by that trust’s operators.
Bloomberg and ESPN Join in Partnership for New York Morning Sports Reports. At first blush it seems like an unlikely pairing but many of the men Bloomberg’s flagship station business news WBBR, New York reaches are sports fans as well. ESPN’s WEPN, New York will provide WBBR with live reports specifically targeted to the New York market by WEPN’s Jared Max beginning at 5:00 am on “The First Word” hosted by Ken Prewitt and “Bloomberg Surveillance” with hosts Prewitt and Tom Keene. Bloomberg Radio’s Al Mayers states, “”We’re pleased to offer our listeners in the New York City metro area with morning sports coverage by ESPN’s flagship station. In partnering with ESPN, we’re combining the best brand in business with the best brand in sports.”
“Troubleshooter” Tom Martino Files for Personal Bankruptcy Protection. Martino’s consumer advocate show is heard daily on KHOW, Denver. The filing lists assets of $1.37 million against liabilities of $78.6 million. Martino tells the Denver Post that his financial issues center on his real estate investments that have been affected by the economy. “There are so many people in this same boat. You’ve got millions of dollars in lost value and all of a sudden you can’t refinance your loans and you are just upside down. I just don’t know what I could have done.” Martino says his debt comes from taking on additional loans over the past few years to save his real estate investments and that his Troubleshooter Network, consulting business and the radio show are not affected by the bankruptcy filing.
Leslie Marshall Show Contracts with AdLarge for Sales Representation. The independently syndicated Leslie Marshall show signs a deal with AdLarge for the company to be the exclusive national marketing rep firm. AdLarge co-founder and CEO Gary Shonfeld states, “Leslie is a highly renowned pundit who knows how to engage both the left and the right. We are thrilled to have her show on our growing content platform and to represent her with the biggest national advertisers in the country.” Marshall, whose program is fed live nightly from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET, says of the new deal, “Gary has done this before and very successfully. At AdLarge, I’m not just another show in a large roster of programs. My show is given personalized attention and the AdLarge team seems to have my best interest at heart. They work hard for me.”
Bill Press Show Adds Video Component. Bill Press’ Dial Global-syndicated radio show begins a video stream today (9/15) from his Capitol Hill studios. Press tells TALKERS the video will stream live via Ustream and then key excerpts will be posted on YouTube but he’s quick to note they are still doing a radio show, not a TV show. As a credentialed Washington correspondent and a nationally syndicated columnist (Tribune), Bill Press brings a unique level of journalistic credibility to his radio show that makes it stand out from most talk shows on either the left or the right.
KIRO, Seattle Debuts New Football Show. 710 ESPN (KIRO), Bonneville’s Seattle sports talk station debuts a new live football show tonight (9/15). The new weekly show airs live tonight from Joey Restaurant in Bellevue, Washington from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm hosted by ESPN football expert John Clayton and co-hosted by former Seattle Seahawk players Dave Wyman and Mack Strong. Joining the trio on tonight’s show is current Seahawks player John Moffitt.
CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM Gets Pirates Baseball Back. That’s what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting. After five years at Clear Channel’s FM talk WPGB, the paper says sources close to the deal indicate Pirates baseball, which aired for so many years on heritage news/talk KDKA, will come back to CBS but this time on its KDKA-FM sports outlet, “Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan.”
WBZ, Boston Prepares to Celebrate 90th Anniversary. CBS Radio’s venerable WBZ, Boston will celebrate its 90th anniversary on Monday, September 19 and will commemorate its place in broadcasting history as the first commercially licensed radio station in America. The station will air a number of 15-minute vignettes that chronicle and honor the station’s history. The station will also host a WBZ Hall of Fame induction ceremony. CBS Radio Boston SVP and market manager Mark Hannon states, “For nine decades WBZ NewsRadio has led the way in reporting historic news events on both a national and local stage, and the station has offered a forum for the community to discuss the news of the day and evaluate what it means to them. We are extremely proud of the staff’s reporting and programming over the years, as well as the station’s community outreach, and we look forward to being a positive influence in the market for many years to come.”
Early Ratings for Anderson Cooper’s Daytime Show Soft. The new, daytime TV talk show “Anderson” is not yet a week old but analysis of the early ratings is inevitable and so far the critics are not impressed. The Los Angeles Times reports the Monday premiere garnered a 1.1 household rating that put it behind the pack of such shows as “Regis & Kelly,” “Ellen,” “Dr, Oz,” and “The Talk.” But the syndicated show is expected to take time to build and Telepictures – the Warner Bros. arm syndicating the show – says the program was pre-empted in some markets and had to compete with coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
Insurgent Attack in Kabul, Obama’s Green Jobs Controversy, 2012 GOP Presidential Field and European Financial Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/14). The violent attack on American interests in Afghanistan, the investigation into the Obama Administration’s support of a solar power company, the GOP field of candidates for president in 2012 and the tenuous state of the European economy were some of the most-talked-about topics on news/talk radio yesterday.
KDKA Feeds Pittsburgh. Well, at least several thousand Pittsburghers. That’s how many residents station officials say enjoyed the 28th KDKA Spaghetti Breakfast held recently in the Steel City. Pictured here are KDKA talk host Johnna Pro (l) and traffic reporter Kathy Berggren (r) as they prepare to feed the masses. This year, the station honored the late KDKA talk personality John Cigna who is credited with starting the popular local tradition as a station promotion 28 years ago.