Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels Arrested on Drunken Driving Charge. In Ohio it’s called OVI – operating a vehicle impaired – and that’s the charge Middletown, Ohio police are filing against Randy Michaels after he was found by police in his car stuck in mud and water in a construction zone around 2:00 am on Friday (10/14). Authorities noticed the smell of alcohol on Michael’s breath and administered field tests which authorities say he failed. Michaels refused a Breathalyzer test. He is expected to be in Middletown Court today. Middletown is about 35 miles north of the Cincinnati area where Michaels reportedly maintains a residence. The unconventional – some have called it “frat house” – workplace culture Michaels encourages is not surprising to many Clear Channel employees whom Michaels led for many years as president of that company’s radio division, but it ruffled the feathers of many Tribune Company employees when Michaels served as its CEO. It remains to be seen if this incident will affect Michaels’ relationship with Merlin Media’s investors, especially in light of the mounting criticism facing the recent launch of the FM news operations in New York and Chicago and their disappointing early ratings.
Hispanic Group Pickets KFI, Los Angeles in Protest of John & Ken. The National Hispanic Media Coalition held a press conference and peaceful protest outside the studios of Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles yesterday. About 35 people picketed the station’s Olive Street facilities in Burbank. The group tells L.A. Weekly that “at least three major advertisers are pulling out of the John & Ken show” and though the advertisers were not named there, the Los Angeles Times reports the activists say Verizon and AT&T have pulled advertising from the show and grocery chains Vons and Ralphs have agreed not to advertise on the show in the future. The protest and boycott were triggered after immigrant advocate Jorge-Mario Cabrera claimed to have received some 400 phone calls from John & Ken listeners after the duo gave out Cabrera’s cell number and asked listeners to tell him what they think of his support for the Dream Act which provides tuition subsidies for illegal immigrants. Initially, Clear Channel Los Angeles management agreed to meet with Hispanic leaders to discuss the issue but the meeting was canceled after one leader demanded that John & Ken be taken off the air and CC market manager Greg Ashlock refused to acquiesce to an ultimatum. Clear Channel did not address the issue of advertisers leaving the show but issued the following written statement, “Expressing your opinion is not a firing offense. KFI stands behind John and Ken and their right to speak their minds — opinions shared, incidentally, by over a million California listeners each week and protected by the First Amendment.” According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “This situation being faced by KFI in Los Angeles is a quintessential example of a whole slew of core news/talk radio concerns – special interest pressure, advertising boycotts, free speech rights, political correctness, and management resolve – all crashing together in one escalating story. It warrants the industry’s undivided attention.” The heated debate over illegal immigration as well as the managing of controversy in news/talk radio will be among the topics discussed at the forthcoming Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum set for October 20.
CBS Radio Reportedly Interested in Annapolis FM for All-Newser. Rumors continue to swirl about CBS Radio’s interest in acquiring a DC-area FM – specifically Christian WFSI-FM, Annapolis – in order to put on its own FM all-news outlet in the Nation’s Capital. WFSI-FM is owned by evangelist Harold Camping’s Family Stations, Inc. The presence of CBS Radio Washington market manager Steve Swenson, who has a ton of experience in news having worked for years in various capacities at the company’s New York news stations WCBS and WINS, is lending credence to the rumor.
Clear Channel Promotes Brian Lekamp to President of CC Digital. Brian Lekamp moves up from his post as EVP of digital media to the newly created position. Lekamp’s duties include his responsibility for Clear Channel’s digital strategy – with its iHeartRadio service at the top of that — as well as the infrastructure, tools and social media integration for its local stations’ branded Internet properties. He will also continue to work with key partners to develop cutting-edge tools and products for all of Clear Channel’s radio, media and entertainment properties. Lekamp states, “At Clear Channel, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the best people in the business – they are smart, dedicated and focused on innovation. The development of the new iHeartRadio was supercharged with our acquisition of Thumbplay in March and our strong integrated digital team will continue to develop new digital music products and experiences that support the iHeartRadio platform and Clear Channel’s network of radio station websites. This is a team effort that I am honored to lead.”
CBS Radio Ups Mike Thomas to VP of Programming in Boston. Mike Thomas has been PD at classic rock WZLX, Boston since 2006 and has programmed WBZ-FM – 98.5 The Sports Hub – since its debut in 2009. Now, CBS Radio ups Thomas to vice president of programming for the cluster that also includes hot AC WBMX-FM, oldies WODS-FM and news WBZ. SVP and market manager Mark Hannon says, “Since Mike’s arrival at WZLX in 2006, he has built the station into a consistent ratings powerhouse. His launch of 98.5 The Sports Hub in 2009 has been one of the most successful in recent radio history, and the station being named ‘Sports Station of the Year’ at the 2011 NAB Marconi Radio Awards was a tremendous accomplishment. I look forward to using his strategic approach and programming insights to impact the overall CBS Radio stable of stations in Boston.”
CC Denver Produces Successful “Battle of the Talk Show Hosts” Live Event. The 2nd annual “Battle of the Talk Show Hosts” was produced on Thursday, October 6 by Clear Channel Denver and entertained a sold-out house at the Comedy Works Landmark in Denver. Personalities from the three Denver talk stations – KOA, KHOW and KKZN – batted around the hot issues of the day before the live audience. Taking part were: Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh, Mike Rosen, Dave Logan, Michael Brown, John Caldara and Rick Barber from KOA; Peter Boyles, Tom Martino and Dan Caplis & Craig Silverman from KHOW; and David Sirota and Thom Hartmann from KKZN. The event was heavily sponsored by local businesses and admission was charged. Pictured here are progressive talk KKZN morning host David Sirota (l) and KOA midday host Mike Rosen (r).
Buckley Broadcasting’s Jennifer Buckley Named to RAB Board. The daughter of the late Rick Buckley (once chair of the RAB board) is elected to the Radio Advertising Bureau board. Jennifer Buckley is vice president and director of sales for WOR, New York and the WOR Radio Network.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” adds WTRC-AM/FM, South Bend, Indiana for its brand new live Sunday evening show hosted by Mark Edge and Stephanie…..“The Career Clinic” with Maureen Anderson picks up affiliates WLRT, Lexington, Kentucky; KBJT, Fordyce, Arkansas; WKEI, Kewanee, Illinois; and KTUI, Sullivan Missouri.
2012 Presidential Race/999 Plan Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 10-14. The GOP race for the nomination for the 2012 presidential election and Herman Cain’s ‘999 plan’ topped the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories of the week. At #2 was the Iran assassination plot allegation. Close behind at #3 was the ‘Occupy’ protest movement and at #4 was President Obama’s Jobs Bill. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published each Friday at Talkers.com. To view the entire chart, click the banner below.