Don Wade and Roma Won’t Return to WLS, Chicago; Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft to AM Drive. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder broke the news late yesterday that longtime morning drive duo Don Wade and his wife Roma won’t return to the air at Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM, Chicago as they continue to focus on Don’s health. Wade had surgery in September to remove a cancerous brain tumor and treatment for the condition continues. In a statement via agent Eliot Ephriam, the couple said, “The daily stress of rising each day at midnight to prep for our 5:00 am show does not help the healing process. So we are choosing a different path and focusing on what’s really important for us right now.” Late morning hosts Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft have been filling in since Wade’s surgery and were permanently named to the AM drive post yesterday. Weekenders Jake Hartford and John Kass have been subbing in Wolf and Proft’s 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot and they assume the permanent roles there. Feder reports Cumulus COO John Dickey visited Chicago recently to meet with Ephriam about the Wades and was keen to get them back on the air. It’s widely believed that Don and Roma were a profitable program for WLS due to the high number of endorsement spots the show carried. In a statement, Dickey said, “Don and Roma are Chicago, and 27 years waking Chicago up is an amazing feat. The focus and strength it takes to do live radio every day on one of the world’s biggest stages will serve Don well as he continues to heal. We wish Don and Roma the best and will always keep a mic open for them.”
Todd Schnitt Exiting WFLA, Tampa? Not So Fast…Nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt – whose program is distributed by Compass Media Networks and since its inception in 2002 has been based at Clear Channel’s WFLA in Tampa – will remain based at WFLA after all. Schnitt had recently announced a deal with Clear Channel to remain in the PM drive slot there had not been achieved. But now, Schnitt and the company have come to terms. Clear Channel announces it has signed Schnitt to a new multi-year contract for his “top-rated” program. CC vice president of programming for Tampa Doug Hamand states, “We are thrilled to extend our relationship with Todd Schnitt and ‘The Schnitt Show.’” He is a staple of the community in Tampa Bay, broadcasting for more than 19 years with 11 of those on WFLA.” Schnitt gave up his AM drive CHR show on sister WFLZ (on which he was M.J. Kelli) earlier this year to focus on the PM drive talk show. On his new contract, Schnitt says, “I’m thrilled to announce my new, multi-year deal with Clear Channel Tampa. 970 WFLA has been The Schnitt Show’s home for 11 years. I really appreciate the outpouring of support from my loyal listeners.”
Programmer Alan Furst Heads to Radio One’s All-News KROI, Houston. Current WIBC-FM, Indianapolis PD Alan Furst is leaving the Emmis news/talker and heading back to Texas to program Radio One’s all-news KROI, Houston “News 92 FM.” Radio One flipped the station to all-news in the late summer of 2011 and it has been programmed by consultant Ed Shane and Radio One executive programmers. Furst, who has worked in Houston and previously worked with Ed Shane’s consulting firm, says he’s excited to get back. “I’m thrilled to return to Houston and join ‘News 92 FM.’ Radio One has put together a great team and the energy in the building is electric. We’re going to build something very big and very special that will become a force in the nation’s fourth largest city.”
Baseball Stations: Plan Now for Spring Training. Radio consultant Holland Cooke says that too few stations that carry their local MLB team establish a presence at their team’s Spring Training facility. “Smart baseball stations are cheerleaders, and really smart baseball stations start cheering a month before Opening Day, when every team is in 1st place.” Cooke writes that there are (at least) five very good reasons for jumping on this before the regular season starts, including some documented ratings upticks for stations that do get on board during Spring Training. Read his entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Spanish-speaking New York Mets fans will be served by ESPN O&O station “ESPN Deportes Nueva York 1050 AM” (WEPN) as the station will broadcast 150 regular season games, select exhibition season games and (should the unlikely happen) postseason games, in Spanish. ESPN New York’s David Roberts states, “Our commitment to serving the Hispanic sports fan is a top priority for our company. We are delighted to join forces with the Mets organization for this comprehensive and wide reaching opportunity.”…..CBS Radio O&O all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will begin airing the audio of CBS Television’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday, December 16. SVP/market manager Steve Swenson states, “Each week, CBS News and ’60 Minutes’ bring to life incredible investigative pieces, interviews, and features that are renowned all across the world. Many local residents find themselves in a car traveling home on Sunday evenings not able to watch the program on WUSA-9. With this simulcast we can provide listeners with access to their favorite news program.”….. Actor, author, former “Dancing with the Stars” champ and retired U.S. Army soldier, J.R. Martinez, ventures into the world of talk radio as he fills in from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm today on KFI, Los Angeles for the vacationing Bill Carroll.
Are You Prepared for the End of the World? No, the editors of TALKERS do not actually believe that next Friday, December 21 will be the end of the world, regardless of what the Mayan calendar says or doesn’t say – or where the sun will be in relationship to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. But we DO believe that this topic will be one of great interest next week in terms of pop cultural fodder and will be in the news in a variety of ways that will run from the serious to the silly, encompassing science (astronomy), parapsychology (astrology), history, politics and conspiracy theory – all of which make for juicy entertainment. According to well-known radio-friendly psychic healer Kathleen Milner, the coming long-anticipated date will NOT mark the end of the world, but rather the end of a dark age in human events and the beginning of a golden one. Talk show hosts and music format morning gabbers should be prepared for the end of the world by booking people like Ms. Milner and others to spice up on-air conversation. After all it is a once every 26,000 years opportunity! Kathleen Milner can be phoned at 571-926-8158. For more information click here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Kate Delaney’s independently syndicated “America Tonight” program is added to the program schedule at KSCB, Liberal, Kansas.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ the Top Story on News/Talk Radio for Fourth Straight Week. The battle in Washington over solving the “fiscal cliff” issue was the most-talked-about-story on news/talk radio during the week of December 10-14, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was the Michigan “right to work” law controversy. At #3 was the Portland mall shootings followed by North Korea’s rocket test at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
Broad Cuts at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Claim Talk and Sports Staffers. The end-of-the-year cuts taking place within Clear Channel is claiming numerous people in the programming end of the company’s radio stations. Some of the talk and sports personnel who’ve been let go include: Eric Chase, afternoons at sports WDFN, Detroit; Rich (Michaels) Minaya, afternoons, talk WIOD, Miami; Josh Sabrowsky, producer, sports KJR-AM, Seattle; Mike Morris, morning co-host, sports KFXN, Minneapolis; Don Ayers, morning producer, talk KOGO, San Diego and Jeff More, afternoon producer, KOGO; Steve Versnick, program director, talk WFLA, Tampa, and sports WDAE, Tampa; Catherine Brown, program director, talk WTKS, Orlando; “Bull,” midday producer, WTKS; and “Cabin Boy,” nights, WTKS. This list is not necessarily complete as more reports of affected industry people are still coming in. We’ll continue to update this list as more information becomes available.
Day 2 from the Arbitron Client Conference. Radio consultant Holland Cooke covered the two-day Arbitron Client Conference for TALKERS that concluded yesterday (12/6). Three points that dominated yesterday’s discussions and presentations are – as Cooke describes them – scary talk about in-car, straight talk about sports, and plain talk about politics. Read Holland Cooke’s report from Annapolis here.
Entercom’s WEEI, Boston Names Kevin Winter AM Drive Sports Anchor. When Jon Meterperel left the Dennis & Callahan morning drive show on Entercom’s WEEI, Boston earlier this fall to pursue his play-by-play career, that opened up a prime sports anchor/on-air role at the sports talk giant. Now, Entercom announces Massachusetts native Kevin Winter will serve in that role. Winter worked at the crosstown Boston ESPN affiliate and has served in a variety of studio host capacities including national SportsCenter anchor for all ESPN Radio shows including “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” Additionally, he has been the pre- and post-game host for ESPN’s coverage of college football and basketball. He says, “I’m very grateful and excited for the opportunity to join WEEI, particularly ‘Dennis and Callahan.’ This opportunity presents new and exciting challenges for me and I’m anxious and ready to get started. I’m coming home!”
Rush Limbaugh’s Two If By Tea Initiative Raises More than $1 Million for Charity. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Rush Limbaugh announces the charitable efforts of his Two If By Tea product initiative have surpassed his goal of $100,000 by 10 times, with $1 million going to charities including the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation. Limbaugh, who started the tea company with his wife Kathryn in June of 2011, says, “We ran the numbers, and we are thrilled to announce that because of you, Two If By Tea has donated over $1 million in product and monetary donations to incredible causes.” Limbaugh says in starting the tea company he wanted to create an American business. “I personally wanted to experience firsthand all of the requirements, the licenses, the fees needed to take a product to market from nothing. Our goal was to create jobs and manufacture with all American-made products in a fun, unique way.”
Steve Deace Show Hits 50-Affiliate Mark. The Iowa-based Steve Deace program announces it has hit the 50-affiliate goal in its first year in national syndication. With the addition of KXBR, Duluth; KVOI, Tucson; and WYAB, Jackson, Mississippi, Deace’s independently syndicated evening talk show (9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET) climbs to the 50-station plateau. Deace left his position at Clear Channel’s WHO, Des Moines (the station that remains his flagship affiliate) to pursue his goal of national syndication success. He states, “I am honored and humbled to have achieved such success in such a short time. When I left the award-winning and legendary WHO last year to find out what other opportunities were out there, I had no idea this was possible.”
Jeff Schechtman Steps Down at Wine Country’s KVON and KVYN, Napa, California. With the possible sale of the news/talk and hot AC duo on the horizon, Wine Country Broadcasting owner Roger Walther and general manager Jeff Schechtman jointly announce Schechtman will step down from his role as GM in January to pursue other opportunities. Schechtman states, “Ten years is a long time in any one job, and with the possible potential sale of the station, it seems an ideal time to move on to pursue some projects I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. There is always a tendency to get stale after too long in one job and in one place.”
Gow Communications Closes on KFNC, Houston. Sports talk station 97.5 The Ticket has been operated by David Gow’s Gow Communications under an LMA since September. Now, the company closes on the station it purchases from AR Broadcast Holdings for $5 million.
CBS Sports Radio Names Chris Moore and Brian Jones Evening Hosts. The national sports radio network CBS Radio will debut on January 2 has been fitted with the final piece of the programming puzzle. Hosting the 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET slot will be veteran play-by-play announcer and talk host Chris Moore and former NFL player and current CBS Sports Network analyst Brian Jones, who have been named as co-hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s evening show. Their program will emanate from CBS Sports Radio’s New York City studio in Tribeca and will be heard on several stations, including WIP-AM, Philadelphia, WFOM, Atlanta, WXYT-AM, Detroit, WJZ-AM, Baltimore, KJQS, Salt Lake City and WSJZ, Orlando.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle Top News/Talk Story for Week of December 3-7. The political fight in Washington over how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM for the third straight week. Coming in at #2 was Syria’s chemical weapons threat. At #3 was the Egypt Morsi protests and following at #4 was the looming ObamaCare costs. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers .com. See this week’s complete chart here.
November PPMs Generally Good to Talk Radio. You can call it the “election bounce” if you like but some of the news/talk stations that did well in Arbitron’s November 2012 PPMs were ramping up in October and before. Plus, the fall has traditionally been a good ratings period for news/talk whether there’s an election or not. Of course, Hurricane Sandy played a major factor for stations in the New York and Middlesex-Somerset-Union markets. Some of the stations worth noting include CBS Radio’s New York all newsers WCBS and WINS which jumped from a 3.8 to a 5.3 and a 4.0 to a 4.8, respectively. Clear Channel’s Los Angeles talk juggernaut KFI continues to thrive inching up to a 5.3 from a 5.1 the month prior. Cumulus Media’s Chicago news/talker WLS bounced back up to a 4.1 after posting a 3.7 in October. Likewise in Dallas-Fort Worth for Cumulus as WBAP-AM/FM pops up a half share to a 3.9. Clear Channel’s KTRH, Houston rose from a 3.4 in October to a 4.1 in November. In Washington, DC Cumulus’ WMAL-AM/FM jumped from a 3.4 to a 4.2. In Philadelphia, Merlin Media’s WWIQ hopped from 2.7 in October to a 3.6 in November. Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta – which has been maintaining healthy numbers in the PPM for some time – vaults from a 6.8 to an 8.3 this month. Cumulus’ Detroit talker WJR rose more than a full share from a 4.8 to a 5.9. Public radio outlet KUOW, Seattle claimed the top spot in the November PPMs with a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix went up a full share from a 4.9 to a 5.9. Mixed results in Baltimore as Hearst’s WBAL fell from a 5.7 to a 5.0 while WCBM rose from a 3.0 to a 3.8 share. Good news for pubcaster KOPB, Portland which went from a 5.3 to a 6.2 while Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL jumped from a 4.8 to a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s WPGB, Pittsburgh leaped a full share from a 6.9 to a 7.9 share while its Sacramento sister KFBK also enjoyed a significant rise from a 5.6 to a 6.8 share. In the New Jersey market of Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW, Trenton) posted an outstanding 8.6 – up from a 6.2 in October – with help, no doubt, from Hurricane Sandy. TALKERS’ sister publication RadioInfo has all the PPM data including Mike Kinosian’s analysis of the numbers. You can find that here.
Laura Ingraham Back on Radio “Soon.” That’s what the author, pundit and talk show host told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. During one of Laura Ingraham’s regular appearances on Fox News Channel with O’Reilly, he questioned her status in the talk radio world and she told him she will be back on the radio with another syndicator (she left Talk Radio Network at the end of her contract on Tuesday) very soon. “I’m close to signing a new deal. I’m very, very close. But I’ll be back on the air probably in the next several days.” Ingraham told O’Reilly she informed TRN she would be “terminating the deal” months ago and that it was time to move on.
Talk Host Tom Becka to Exit KRWK, Fargo “101.9 Talk FM.” Talk radio pro Tom Becka has been serving as program director and talk show host at KRWK, Fargo since it flipped from rock to talk in March of this year. Becka tells the Fargo Forum he’s returning to Omaha where he’s worked for years and has family. Becka says any notion his departure has anything to do with the performance of the new format is not correct. “The station has grown every month. My experience with Radio Fargo-Moorhead was great and I’m proud of what we accomplished here in a short time. To say I’m leaving because of ratings would be erroneous.” Radio Fargo-Moorhead is selling its cluster of stations to Midwest Family Communications. The FCC has approved the license transfers but according to one source, the actual takeover may not happen until the spring.
Todd Schnitt Show to Leave Flagship WFLA, Tampa. Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt Tweets that his program – airing live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm – will be off longtime flagship WFLA, Tampa after the December 18 program. Schnitt further Tweets that the national syndication continues and is expanding under syndicator Compass. No word what CC has in mind for afternoons at WFLA. Currently, it delay-broadcasts Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm but may have plans to move Hannity to the live PM drive slot.
Jim Isabella Named Evening Host at WNIR, Akron. Journalist Jim Isabella has been doing fill-in work for WNIR for the past two years. He now takes over the evening show formerly hosted by the late Tom Erickson who died on November 3 after a long illness. Isabella most recently worked for the Akron Beacon Journal. Station owners Bob and Bill Klaus note in a press release that Isabella, who was a frequent caller to the show hosted by the late Howie Chizek who passed away suddenly in June, made them more aware of his talents during his fill-in time in addition to receiving positive response from the station’s listeners.
Odds & Sods. Watch for Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean from the network’s “America Now with Andy Dean” on Fox News Channel’s “America’s News HQ” this Sunday at 4:45 pm ET as he sits in a panel discussing the latest headlines in news and politics…..SiriusXM brings the Major League Baseball winter meetings to listeners via its MLB Network Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels. The meetings take place in Nashville December 2 through 6 and the satcaster will have front office experts Jim Bowden, Jim Duquette and Steve Phillips there hosting various programs with other special expert guests including former pitcher Jeff Nelson.
Bubba the Love Sponge Offers Reward for Arrest of Animal Abuser. After hearing about the case of a dog found in the Bradenton, Florida area that had been attacked by someone with an axe, radio star Bubba the Love Sponge put up $1,000 of his own cash on top of the $500 being offered by the Animal Network for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. After hearing about the case, Tampa-area philanthropist Gary Kompothecras of the legal and medical referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY added another $1,000 to the reward to make the total $2,500. Bubba reports to TALKERS that the dog, named Axel, is recovering from his injuries and will be available for adoption once he is healthy again.
Los Angeles Broadcaster David Courtney Dies at 56. The Southern California radio community is mourning the loss of omnipresent “big voice” David Courtney, who passed away on Thursday, November 29. Many considered Courtney the voice of Los Angeles sports, since for the past 23 years, he was the public address announcer of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He performed similar duties for MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 18 years and NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers since October 2008. Greater Los Angeles area radio listeners knew him for his frequent traffic and sports updates as part of the Total Traffic Network. Over the last 20 years, Courtney was heard on a number of major Los Angeles radio outlets including KABC and KSPN, as well as KOLA in the Inland Empire. His other radio background included stints at Houston’s KULF as executive producer of sports programming and that market’s KTRH, where he was weekend news anchor before landing a nightly, three-hour news/talk program. New York City-born Courtney moved to Los Angeles in 1963 when his father, Alan, became president of MGM Television. According to Courtney’s Twitter feed, he needed to miss Wednesday night’s Clippers game against Minnesota owing to the fact he was in the hospital awaiting an angiogram. The 56-year-old Courtney is survived by his wife, Janet Fisher-Courtney.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle Remains Top Talk Radio Topic for Second Straight Week. The struggle between the Obama administration and GOP congressmen to deal with impending tax hikes and spending cuts was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Benghazi investigation tied with the Susan Rice-GOP leaders meetings. Following at #3 was the Israel-Gaza tensions with the clean-up of Hurricane Sandy at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.
KTRS, St. Louis Personality JC Corcoran Suspended for Twitter Activities. There’s no official word from CH Holdings’ news/talk KTRS, St. Louis but the reports from St. Louis-area media seem to confirm that afternoon host JC Corcoran has been suspended from the station for two weeks after engaging in a back-and-forth Twitter argument with listener-followers in which he used foul language. The incident started when Corcoran declared Cardinals star Albert Pujols would re-sign with the team by November 18. When that didn’t happen, Corcoran was taken to task for his prediction on Twitter and his responses including questionable language went out on the internet. This case illustrates that even though the “letter” of FCC rules applies specifically to over-the-air language on terrestrial radio, the “spirit” of the law can now extend to social media activities as well giving the morals clause found in most talent employment contracts expanded relevance. Talk show hosts beware – you are what you tweet!
News/Talk KFBK, Sacramento Gets FM Signal. As the historic AM station prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary early next year, Clear Channel announces it is ending the Hot AC on KGBY-FM and begins simulcasting news/talk KFBK on the signal as FM NewsTalk 92.5 today (12/1). Vice president and market manager Jeff Holden states, “Today is a milestone for Sacramento broadcasting as KFBK expands to the 92.5 FM frequency to better serve the local community. The void for quality, local and full service news and talk on FM has now been filled. This will give a younger audience access to one of the most influential stations in, not only, Sacramento but all of Northern California. KFBK has demonstrated leadership over the past 90 years and it continues with the same dedication and progressive nature that makes it unique. KFBK will now reach the nearly 70 percent of the market that doesn’t tune into the AM band.”
WFLA, Tampa Adds Jock Corey Dylan to AM Drive Program. Former WPOI-FM, Tampa DJ Corey Dylan is now part of the morning show at Clear Channel’s WFLA, Tampa. The St. Petersburg Times reports Dylan joins Jack Harris and Tedd Webb as co-host on the “AM Tampa Bay” program and will serve as a lifestyle reporter for the station as well. Program director Steve Versnick tells the paper, “We wanted to change the co-host role and Corey seemed a perfect fit. She’s got a sterling reputation in the market and a broadcast journalism degree. So while it might seem like stretch to go from an ’80s station to news/talk, her background and interest seem perfect.”
Georgia Talk Host Martha Zoller Zeroes in on Congressional Seat. WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia talk host Martha Zoller is preparing to take leave of her talk radio career to run for Congress in Georgia’s newly created 9th Congressional District. Zoller is still heard on Cox Media Group’s WXKT-FM but has exited the Georgia News Network from which she was syndicated across the state. Zoller says Cox attorneys say she can stay on the air until she’s officially qualified as a candidate in May but realistically expects to have to leave her program prior to that time. Zoller reports she has excellent name recognition in the district – 62% of likely primary voters in the conservative district have heard of her – as she will face a battle against State Representative Doug Collins and possibly others in the Republican primary election.
Dial Global’s Bill Press to Remain on San Francisco Affiliate. Yesterday we reported Clear Channel’s plans for its AM talk stations in San Francisco that include the end of progressive talk outlet Green 960 (KKGN). Dial Global notes that although much of the progressive talk that’s currently heard on that station will be relegated to the KKSF-FM HD-2 signal and online, the Bill Press show will be heard in the early morning daypart prior to Premiere’s Glenn Beck on KNEW 960 in the new year.
WGN, Chicago’s John Williams Organizes Holiday Food Drive. Upon learning that food banks and pantries across the country are reporting a shortage of peanut butter, WGN talk host John Williams is organizing the “Peanut Butter & Jolly” drive to rally his listeners to donate peanut butter to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Peanut butter is sought after because of its protein content, appeal to children and long shelf life. All day today (12/1), Williams will encourage listeners to donate to one of the many participating locations around Chicagoland that will be delivered to the depository tomorrow. Williams says, “Everyone wants gifts at Christmas, but these people just need food. If you give to this campaign, we can all say Merry ‘Chrithmath!’”
2012 Presidential Race, European Debt Crisis, Occupy L.A. Ousted and Penn State Abuse Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/30). The GOP candidates for president in 2012, the ongoing efforts to deal with Europe’s debt crisis, the clearing of the Occupy Los Angeles protesters and additional allegations in the Penn State sexual abuse case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday. Pictured here is ABC Radio News correspondent Alex Stone covering the Los Angeles Police Department’s breakup of the Occupy L.A. camp.