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.