Picking the right topics when working in multiple markets
By Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo
Radio Talk Show Host
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo – a member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred – is the host of mornings on KPRC, Houston; late afternoons on WOAI, San Antonio; weekends locally on KOA, Denver and weekends nationally on The Weekend show. He is also a major “go to” fill-in host for such hosts as Glenn Beck, Todd Schnitt and many others.)
HOUSTON/SAN ANTONIO/DENVER/EVERYWHERE – “Good morning, Houston.” “Good afternoon, San Antonio.” “Happy Saturday, Denver.” “Good Weekend, America.” These are all things I’m lucky enough to say either every day or every week. It’s a supreme compliment to have the support of the stations in these markets and from Clear Channel and Premiere and quite a challenge. Each show has its own feel, flow and audience make up and reaction. So, over the last 11 years, I’ve learned what works everywhere and what is market specific.
Talk Host Michael Smerconish Takes “Angry is Over” Campaign on the Road. WYD Media nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Smerconish is known for being independent minded and not locked into party ideology. Smerconish has been making it known via his radio show, TV appearances and newspaper columns that he believes the country is in real trouble due to the intensely divisive political climate both in Washington, DC and in the media. He writes in part, “Recently, I have been engaged by many corporations, trade associations and academic institutions to address the cause of the polarized climate and how it can be fixed. I’ve been calling my speech ‘Angry Is Over,’ and in hearing what I have to say, many audiences are surprised (but not doubting) when I cast significant blame on the talk radio and cable television industry. Well, it’s true.” Now, Smerconish is taking his “Angry is Over” message on the road with a live appearance in Scranton, Pennsylvania on November 9 at the Scranton Cultural Center in what he terms the first live appearance of the tour.
Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Names Jason Furst PD. The Charlotte news/talker announces programmer Jason Furst will take over the program director role at WBT-AM/FM on Monday, October 29. He’ll replace Carl East who exits the station tomorrow. Furst comes to WBT from Clear Channel’s upstate New York outlets WHAM and WHTK, Rochester and WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse. Greater Media Charlotte market manager Rick Feinblatt says, “We are excited to have Jason join the Greater Media Charlotte family. His experience made him the perfect choice to lead the WBT-AM/FM team.”
Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno to Replace Premiere Shows with Local Talent. Stating that the “expansion of its local programming will be phased in over the next 90 days,” Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ-AM/FM says it is accelerating its commitment to live and local programming. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment-owned Premiere Networks is not renewing its deal with the stations for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other programs. Peak and KMJ SVP and market manager Patty Hixson states, “We value program exclusivity and have long anticipated the opportunity to control our own programming locally rather than rely on national talk shows available in so many other places that can be taken from us at the whim of their owners. Adding 105.9 KMJ-FM over three years ago allowed us to expose our local news and talk shows to the largest available radio audience with crystal clear reception. Building KMJ NOW, our on-line local news platform, as well as KMJ’s Apple-delivered mobile app have given us tremendous reach to every computer and smartphone on the planet. KMJ’s future lies in its local programming, and we know we have the best people in the business making it right here in Fresno 24/7.” The move by Premiere Networks not to renew with Peak signals Clear Channel is preparing to flip an FM to news/talk in the near future. Currently, CC’s lowest-rated FM is country KHGE. But it also has three FM’s airing rhythmic AC, soft AC and modern AC in the market.
Radio Legend Bob Grant Retires, Then Unretires. Talk radio legend Bob Grant, currently heard weekly on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York on Sunday afternoons, teased that yesterday’s broadcast would be his last but changed his mind several hours later. According to the New York Daily News, the 83-year-old Grant posted a message on his website on Friday stating, “I am not sick, I am just a tired of [being a] life member of the chorus…I will miss you as much as you say you miss me.” He apparently had a change of heart and later stated that he would broadcast for the foreseeable future.
Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart Host “The Rumble 2012.” “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart and Fox News Channel star (and host of the Courtside Entertainment distributed “Talking Points” feature) Bill O’Reilly squared off in a debate of the issues on Saturday at George Washington University. The event was broadcast via a web-only $5 pay-per-view. A testament to the popularity of these two performers came in the form of numerous people being unable to get through to the server to access the live feed. Dow Jones’ Peter Kafka, who writes the AllThingsD column, reports that many people had trouble viewing the show but states he was able to watch without much trouble. At one point Nox Solutions, which hosted the webcast, Tweeted that due to demand, the servers had been overloaded.
Dave Ramsey Packs Long Beach Convention Center. Nationally syndicated financial talk star Dave Ramsey presented his only Total Money Makeover Live program of the fall season to more than 9,000 fans in the Long Beach Convention Center for affiliate KFWB, Los Angeles. Station general manager Valerie Blackburn says, “Yet another great Dave Ramsey event for KFWB! Having such a successful day with over 9,000 people in attendance is a huge win for us. We continue to value the close relationship we have with Dave and his team.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Rachel Cruze, speaker; Diane Sutter, trustee for KFWB; Valerie Blackburn, general manager for KFWB; Dave Ramsey; Danielle Mosher, marketing for KFWB; Rosemary Hernandez, general sales manager for KFWB; Jon Acuff, speaker and author; and Andy Ludlum, program director for KFWB.
Don’t Overlook the Unique Value and Power of Email. Leading broadcasting digital media consultant Chris Miller advises radio programmers and marketers not be so blinded by social media that they “fall out of love” with good old simple email. He writes in TALKERS today that email is still a powerful tool to communicate with your listeners, especially if you target adults. He suggests 1) Make your email a thing of value; 2) Give the listeners something to keep; and 3) Write it very simple and concise. He also points out the inherent ability email has as a vehicle to carry advertising – something far less convenient to pull off on Facebook and Twitter. To read Chris Miller’s entire article, click here.
Talk Host Debbie Nigro Begins New Venture Today. Talk radio pro Debbie Nigro launches a new talk initiative today on Cumulus Media’s WFAS, White Plains, New York and online via the WFASam.com website. Calling it “innovative female-driven but gender-friendly talk radio,” the new program is the brainchild of the woman who brought her “Working Mom on the Go” syndicated talk show to stations across the country during the 1990s. This new show airs at 1:00 pm ET four days per week on WFAS.
Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce Operating Internet Radio Station. The Hunterdon Chamber of Commerce in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania is operating what may be the country’s only chamber of commerce-owned internet radio station. Radio host Richard Gerstner is the only employee of the station – and a part-time employee at that – but it’s been on the air for a year with the goal of driving new, local business relationships. The station drew 12,000 unique visitors in its first year and chamber president Chris Phelan believes that means about one in every 10 or 11 county residents tuned in at some point. According to a story in the Express-Times, the station currently airs only 10 hours of fresh programming each day, including its 8 am to 10 am daily “Good Morning Hunterdon” flagship program and 38 other shows hosted mostly by Hunterdon business owners. The rest of the airtime is filled by re-runs. Phelan says the station is helping to achieve the chamber’s main goal with the station: to build a sense of community.
Odds & Sods. Opie & Anthony alumnus Rick Delgado begins a regular internet talk show called the “Ugly American Radio Show” via inravio.com. Delgado most recently was producer and “third mic” for the “Paul and Young Ron Morning Show” at Clear Channel’s WGBB, Miami. Delgado was executive producer of the Opie & Anthony show at WNEW-FM, New York from 1998 to 2002…..John Andariese retires from his position as the radio voice of New York Knicks basketball. Andariese has been involved with Knicks basketball since 1972, serving as the play-by-play voice since the 1998-99 season. A statement from MSG Networks says Andariese is stepping down to spend more time with his family and to focus on his advertising business. Brendan Brown will take over the Knicks radio broadcasts…..The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron writes that former Houston Astros player and broadcasters Alan Ashby and Larry Dierker are among two of the possible candidates for the Astros radio booth next season. The team announced Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond would not return next year. Former MLB pitcher Steve Sparks is also on the list of possible broadcasters for the club…..SiriusXM is bringing actor/director/writer Chazz Palminteri aboard for his own four-week series called “Ask Chazz.” The acclaimed star of stage and screen will answer questions about show business and will offer advice about the entertainment industry, as well as business, sports, life and anything else on listeners’ minds.
Cincinnati Talk Host and Attorney Eric Deters Resigns from WQRT. According to Cincinnati.com’s John Kiesewetter, Cincinnati talk show host Eric Deters quit his program at Christian Broadcasting System’s “Real Talk 1160” on Wednesday saying, “I do not have any respect for Rob Williams’ programming ability at all. I’m not going to put myself in a stressful situation… I’m going to tell the truth. There’s not a phony bone in my body.” Williams is the operations manager/program director for the station and Deters didn’t want to answer to him. Previously he had been answering to station manager Bob Herrion and Herrion requested the change. Deters says he did not like Williams’ suggestion for his back-up – former “Warm 98″ jock Dean Miuccio – and suggested others to Williams. Deters is quoted by Kiesewetter saying, “I don’t mind taking direction. I talk to Willie (Bill Cunningham, his mentor at WLW in 2010-2011) almost every single day. I listen to Willie. I know what I’m doing, and I’m not going to let someone dictate to me…I resigned. I was willing to pull the resignation this morning if they changed their mind, but they wouldn’t. I think they’re making a huge mistake.” WQRT has since made Miuccio the permanent morning host. Deters, a practicing attorney in the area, had served as Cunningham’s back-up at crosstown WLW and hosted a weekend program there until May of 2011 when he was let go for posting a video blog that included a racial joke.
NBC Gives Rodney Harrison Weekend Sports Talk Radio Show. Rodney Harrison is part of NBC TV’s “Football Night in America” but he’ll cut his sports talk radio teeth on the new NBC Sports/Dial Global venture beginning September 8 with his weekly two-hour “Safety Blitz with Rodney Harrison” show. NBC Sports Radio debuts soon and Dial Global says it has about 100 affiliates on board for the sports radio network’s launch. NBC Sports Ventures and International SVP Rob Simmelkjaer says, “With the launch of NBC Sports Radio just 12 days away, we are thrilled to add Rodney Harrison to our growing list of talented sports radio personalities. We anticipate Rodney’s transition to radio to be as seamless as his transition was from the football field to television, where he went from being one of the fiercest competitors in the game to one of the most respected voices in the space. He is the latest in what we expect to be many NBC Sports television personalities who will join our radio team.”
Powerful News/Talk Programming Panel Set for New Media Seminar in Los Angeles. A dynamic panel discussion featuring a strong lineup of Western states-based programmers has been set for the forthcoming New Media Seminar 2012 in Los Angeles on Thursday, October 11 at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood being presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club. Titled “The State of Local News/Talk Radio,” the panel includes Robin Bertolucci, PD of KFI/KTLK, Los Angeles; Skip Essick, PD of KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; Andy Ludlum, PD of KNX, Los Angeles; Garret Lewis, PD/morning host of KNST, Tucson; John McMullen, OM/PD Desert Radio Group, Palm Springs; David Sniff, PD of KFMB, San Diego; and Chuck Tyler, PD of KRLA/KKLA, Los Angeles. It will be moderated by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey. The New Media Seminar agenda is being set with a total of 60 speakers planned to examine the key issues facing the talk radio/media industries. Its agenda will continue to be posted and updated on Talkers.com. It is expected to be an early sellout. To assure registration, attendees are advised to sign up now. Registration is a recession-era low $99 which includes everything. Because it is open only to working media there will be no online registration – only by telephone. For registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.
CBS Sports Radio Unveils Talent for Hourly Features. As CBS Sports Radio gradually brings sports talk radio content to the air in advance of its round-the-clock format debut in January, it will begin airing hourly CBS Sports Minutes on September 4 near the top of the hour. Talent include: WFAN, New York morning host Boomer Esiason; sports writer and author John Feinstein; network talk host and analyst Doug Gottlieb; and KNBR, San Francisco talk host Tom Tolbert. CBS Radio says the features will air 90 affiliates including stations in the top 10 markets – all of which are CBS O&Os except Cumulus Media’s KNBR.
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Names Bob Morgan VP and Market Manager for Rochester. Bob Morgan is very familiar with the Rochester market having managed the CBS Radio cluster there from 1994-1999. Most recently he’s served as SVP of broadcast for American Tower Corporation in Boston. Clear Channel SVP of operations Kevin LeGrett says of Morgan, “Bob is an experienced broadcaster who knows the Rochester market. He is well respected throughout the area, both within our industry and by our clients. Bob will bring superb leadership skills, passion and expertise to our team. We are excited to have him on board.” Clear Channel operates seven radio stations in Rochester including news/talk WHAM; Sports 1280 WHTK, 95.1 The Brew, 106-7 KISS FM, 100.5 The DRIVE, Oldies 107.3 and 102.3 Sunny FM.
Talk Host Alan Colmes Publishes New Book. Fox News Radio and television personality Alan Colmes has written a new book coming out next week (just in time for the election) titled Thank the Liberals…for Saving America (and Why You Should) (Hay House 2012) and will be hitting the radio trail doing interviews. In the book Colmes claims, “America was born liberal — the Declaration of Independence puts forth a liberal mission statement, and the Constitution lays out a liberal framework for how the business of our nation is to be conducted. At the time, America was, in fact, beyond liberal … and America has become progressively more liberal.” He declares that you are a liberal, even though you may not know it, and further, you should be thankful for it. We’re so immersed in the concept, we might not recognize it, but “try telling someone who escaped from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq that America isn’t a very liberal place to be.” Although most people only know Alan Colmes (syndicated nightly by Fox News Radio) as a serious political talker who gained national prominence during a dozen-year run as co-host of Fox News Channel’s recently ended “Hannity and Colmes” program – his early broadcasting background was as a hilarious morning and late night music DJ. To arrange an interview call David Kass at 212-725-7707.
WEEI/NESN Radio Telethon Raises More Than $3.3 Million for Cancer Charity. The 11th Annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon took place over two days this week and helped top last year’s total of $3.3 million raised for cancer care and research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The event is heavily centered around Entercom’s WEEI, Boston and its network stations in New England but donations came in from all 50 states. WEEI VP of programming Jason Wolfe says, “Each year the Radio-Telethon brings us stories of incredible courage and ground-breaking research that continue to show us why the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber are so special and this year was no exception. These two days were as emotional as any we’ve experienced and we are so proud to have been a part of another huge success that will provide the necessary funds to bring new and better treatments to so many who need it.”
Odds & Sods. CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles presents Social Media Summit for Small Business at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on September 14 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The full-day conference will feature more than a dozen speakers who will outline best practices and present case studies to help business owners and entrepreneurs strategize and monetize using popular and up-and-coming social media platforms. It will include pros from Google/YouTube, Facebook, foursquare and Citrix Online…..WSOY, Decatur, Illinois prepares for 11th Annual WSOY Community Food Drive. You can see WSOY morning host Brian Byers (second from right) at this press conference at a local Kroger store as they announced the coming food drive to take place at the store on October 5. Last year the station collected more than 640,000 lbs. of food and is shooting to exceed 650,000 this year. Food and cash donations go to Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. But last year, because of the wonderful generosity of the community, donations were also given to the Good Samaritan Inn, Oasis Day Center, Northeast Community Fund and the Judy Mason Thanksgiving Basket Project. Amazing accomplishment for a station in market 268!
Radio Row at RNC in Tampa. Sure the halls are empty now but this area of the Tampa Times Convention Center will be teeming with talk hosts, reporters, guests, politicians and more on Monday as the Republican National Convention gets underway (weather permitting). RNC radio director Andy Polesovsky tells TALKERS magazine, “With a fantastic view of Tampa Bay, floor-to-ceiling windows providing abundant natural light, and located in the middle of a high-traffic area, the 2012 Radio Row could not be better situated. The freedom of guests, surrogates, hosts, and producers to traverse the convention center will allow more spontaneous interviews with top guests and Republican officials than ever before. Working closely with the Romney Campaign, the Surrogate Operations Department of the Convention is fully prepared and will be ready to respond to requests on the fly. Providing briefed, knowledgeable guests on time is the Radio Convention Team’s #1 goal. To help with this task, all the volunteers working on Radio Row – which will be staffed nearly 24 hours a day – have experience booking guests and, more importantly, many have worked on Radio Row in past conventions.
It’s a Gas, Gas, Gas! WLAC, Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill recently visited the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, Tennessee with his friend Gas Can Man who is getting ready to travel the country providing people with gas at $1.84 per gallon – the price it was on January 20, 2009, the day before Barack Obama took office. Gill is pictured here with fair worker Holly who provided him with fried green tomatoes and sweet tea.
Coming Republican and Democratic Conventions and the Tropical Storm Threat Land Atop the Talkers TenTM for the Week of August 20 – 24. The approaching political conventions and the threat that Tropical Storm Isaac will postpone the Republican National Convention were the most talked about stories on news/talk radio this week. Following close behind at #2 was the debate over the Medicare cuts in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. At #3 was the Todd Akins controversy and Israel-Iran tensions followed at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the most-talked-about stories and people on news/talk radio across America during the week and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. To view this week’s entire chart, click here.
Fisher House Christmas Show “The Gift” Available for Holiday Programming. The three-hour spoken-word special “The Gift,” produced by the Fisher House Foundation, is available for stations to carry around the holiday season. The program is hosted by veteran newsman and war correspondent Greg Jarrett. The program tells the powerful and uplifting stories of wounded warriors and veterans who, with the help of their loved ones, have overcome tremendous obstacles to reclaim their lives. The show helps raise awareness and funds for the non-profit Fisher House, which provides no-cost housing and other support to the families of wounded warriors while their loved ones recover at military and VA hospitals. For more information or to sign up for “The Gift,” contact Randall Bloomquist at Bloomquist Media or Ron Rivlin at Cumulus Media Networks.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Radio America’s Peter Schiff program show is added to WESR-AM, Norfolk; WWPR-AM, Bradenton, Florida; KEUN-AM, Lafayette, Louisiana; WARK, Hagerstown, Maryland; and KLCN, Blytheville, Arkansas…..The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Daily Wrap from The Wall Street Journal” with Michael Castner is picked up by KRDO, AM/FM, Colorado Spring; WLTT, Wilmington, North Carolina; and WGMD in Salisbury, Maryland.…..Kate Delaney’s “America Tonight” adds WEGP, Presque Isle, Maine to its affiliate roster…..Dave Ferguson’s “Beyond the Cheers” feature is added to the program schedule at KFIV, Modesto; KKRN, Bella Vista, California; and non-commercial WFSK, Nashville…..Shannon Rose’s “Mr. Hollywood” feature joins the programming at KRMS, Osage Beach, Missouri.
Dave Ramsey Joins the iHeartRadio Platform. Nationally syndicated personal finance talk radio host Dave Ramsey becomes part of the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s iHeartRadio digital platform beginning today becoming the first independently syndicated personality channel available on the platform. Ramsey’s show won’t air live though. The service will provide fans 24/7 access to the previous day’s content of the Dave Ramsey show and it will be updated daily on weekdays at 5:00 pm ET. Ramsey VP of broadcast Brian Mayfield states, “We are very proud of what the Dave Ramsey show has achieved with the help of our 500-plus existing radio affiliates. This new partnership with iHeartRadio provides the perfect platform to expose Dave’s straight talk on life and money to a new audience that now consumes media through mobile and online applications.”
Entercom Reports Q2 Revenue Flat. The second quarter of 2012 saw revenue flat at $104.6 million compared to the same quarter a year ago for Entercom. But the reduction in expenses of 5% produced a 10% rise in station operating income.
Entercom’s WEEI to Split AM and FM Signals; AM to Become ESPN Outlet. In a story from the Boston Globe, Entercom’s Boston sports talk brand WEEI will soon split the current simulcast of the radio station and make the 850 AM signal a full-time ESPN Radio outlet. WEEI has had a relationship with ESPN Radio for almost three years now with the station airing some ESPN programming and ESPN personalities such as Buster Olney making appearances on WEEI programs. It’s expected the regular national lineup of ESPN Radio shows will air on the signal when the split takes place in the early fall.
Mike Costa to Co-Host PM Drive at Xtra Sports 1360 in San Diego. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s San Diego cluster moves Mike Costa from his position as host of “The Show “ on rock KIOZ to co-host of the PM drive show on sports talk KLSD – Xtra Sports 1360 effective today. Costa is partnered up with Judson Richards for the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm program. Costa, who’s been a sideline reporter for San Diego Chargers football for radio broadcasts, will continue in that role.
Award-Winning Journalist. WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta assistant program director Condace Pressley (c) accepts the 2012 Pioneer Journalist Award from actor Malcolm Jamal Warner (l) and Atlanta Association of Black Journalists president Tenisha Bell of CNN (r). Pressley received the honor during the 30th Pioneer Black Journalists Awards on July 29. The awards ceremony is a presentation of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists. Tenisha Bell says of Pressley, “Condace has spent her career mentoring and supporting young journalists who aspire to walk in her footsteps. She has always been an avid supporter of AABJ and its mission and I am thrilled that our membership has chosen her for this well-deserved award.”
Half-Hour Weekend Talk Show’s Success Inspires Music Show Syndicator to Eyeball More Spoken Word Offerings. Los Angeles-based MannGroup Radio, headed by radio vet and co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, Ed Mann, has avoided talk radio for almost the entire 14 years of its existence as an independent syndicator of such fare as GrooveWorx Imaging and music libraries, CPR consulting with Paige Nienaber, She Prep with Beth Bacall and other products geared to music stations. In early 2011, MG took on the marketing of a short 30 minute-per-weekend program for talk stations called “Issues Today with Bob Gourley,” the success of which has obviously meant a great deal to Mann. The fast-paced half hour, hosted by veteran broadcaster and Southern California-based journalist Bob Gourley, chronicles topical subjects from health to the economy. It began at KPPC where Gourley served as public affairs director. In a recent extremely candid conversation with the TALKERS editors, Mann reveals, “Extreme polarized talk has always left a sour taste in my mouth, particularly the very far right and left issues that never resolve on a broadcast forum, yet, as an avid listener of talk radio, I’ve always been starved for an intelligent, entertaining approach to issues for the day. As we’ve taken on this relatively small but meaningful program, Bob Gourley’s ‘Issues Today,’ and watched how it’s grown and how the affiliates and listeners embrace it, I’m more encouraged than ever to hear from producers, stations and hosts in the hope of developing and marketing other like-minded programs for national distribution that can cut a swath in talk radio without sitting on either side of the seesaw and sticking their tongues out at each other. Some have already come my way, and I sense a shift in the marketplace. Our company is jazzed at the notion of collaborating with producers, hosts and radio stations who can see the need on the listener level for level-headed broadcasting.” Independent hosts and producers can contact Mann at 310-346-4991 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fourth Station Joins the “Sports Animal Network.” KITO, Vinita, Oklahoma drops country and becomes the fourth station to join Oklahoma’s “Sports Animal Network.” The station is airing content from the Tulsa version of the network from KYAL, Muskogee/Tulsa. The programming includes shows from Cumulus Media’s WWLS, Oklahoma City as well as Yahoo! Sports Radio. The station will also broadcast Oklahoma University, Oklahoma State University and Tulsa football.
Odds & Sods. Clear Channel’s WHAM and WHTK, Rochester will be the local radio home of the 95th PGA Championship to be played next summer – August 5 – 11, 2013 – at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester…..The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers will air on heritage news/talk KGO, San Francisco this season after airing on Cumulus Media’s sports KNBR and rock KSAN…..Stephen Giuttari becomes the operations manager for Townsquare Media’s Albany cluster that includes sports talk WTMM…..WXKS, Boston – Talk 1200 – morning drive host Jeff Katz is subbing for Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated personality Todd Schnitt today and Friday…..Account manager Cody Hicks announces his exit from Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk 790 The Zone — WQXI, Atlanta — where he worked his way up from promotions assistant to marketing director to account manager in eight years…..WFED, Washington morning drive host Francis Rose will be a regular substitute for Cumulus Media Networks’ John Batchelor live from New York once per month. Rose will also be a stand by fill-in host as needed for the program working from Cumulus’ studios at WMAL, Washington…..The NBA’s Portland Trailblazers jump across town as the team’s new radio flagship is Clear Channel’s KEX, Portland. Games had been heard on Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL for the past 12 seasons.
Katz and West Catch Up. Old friends Jeff Katz, host of the morning drive show at Clear Channel’s Talk 1200 – WXKS, Boston – and Congressman Alan West, representing Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, pose for a photo on a recent Sunday during which the two participated in a series of speaking events around the Greater Boston area. Katz got to know West while the congressman was running for office and Katz was working at South Florida talk station WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale.
FM Talk Winning in PM Drive with Alan Cox Show on Cleveland’s Legendary Rocker WMMS-FM. The Alan Cox show is quietly defying the conventional wisdom about what talk targeting younger demos on FM is all about. Ensconced in afternoon drive on Clear Channel’s legendary rock outlet WMMS-FM, Cleveland, Cox’s success is not a widely told tale in the radio industry, in part because it doesn’t appear to be a piece of a corporately directed programming puzzle with companywide ambitions. Cox credits local management for daring to be innovative with spoken-word programming outside the realms of news/talk and sports talk. “’MMS, everybody knows, is a legendary station and management had the foresight to realize music on FM is kind of going away and to see if it can work with two talk products and it has worked amazingly well. The foresight that brought them to try this hybrid station also makes them realize that you have to honor the heritage the station has but everything has to move forward.” Read this entire story here.
Gil Gross Replaces Gene Burns in PM Drive at KKSF, San Francisco. Talk radio legend Gene Burns is not going away from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment San Francisco as he continues to rehab from a stroke he suffered last December but cluster director of operations Don Parker gives the PM drive slot to Gil Gross, who’s been one of those filling in for Burns since January. Parker states, “I’m thrilled to have Gil Gross aboard full time for the Bay Area’s only live and local afternoon drive talk show. With his extensive background in network news, everyone in news/talk radio knows the name Gil Gross. I couldn’t be happier to have KKSF be his new home. NewsTalk 910 has been very fortunate to have the highest caliber of talent filling in for Gene Burns since January. I’d like to thank John Rothman, Ed Baxter and Rosie Allen for their contributions and for continuing to play a role on NewsTalk 910 moving forward.” Burns will continue to blog at newstalk910.com and his Saturday “Dining Around” program will remain on the program schedule with Joel Riddell hosting . Additionally, John Rothman is named the station’s political analyst. He’ll contribute to the station’s talk shows and newscasts as well as serve as host for KKSF’s 2012 election coverage. Baxter and Allen will remain with the station for fill-in and blogging duties. On his new position, Gross states, “I am thrilled to keep the live, local talk flame alive in the Bay area. From the Occupy movement to Oscar Grant or the struggles of our economy, it’s important for the Bay area to have a platform to discuss today’s most pressing topics. I look forward to having my friend and colleague, Gene Burns, back in the line-up. I also look forward to building the future at NewsTalk 910, a unique station that will not be one point of view all day long.”
Tony Kornheiser Negotiating for Long-Term Deal to Remain on WTEM, Washington. Washington, DC-based sports media personality Tony Kornheiser tells his audience he hopes to be assured his radio talk show will be heard on Red Zebra’s WTEM – ESPN 980 for “another two years, at least.” The Washington Post reports director of programming Chuck Sapienza hinted the two sides are negotiating, quoting him saying, “Our goal has always been to have Tony with ESPN 980 long term, and we hope to have an official announcement soon.” Kornheiser will take much of the summer off from his radio show telling his audience he will do a few weeks of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” but will not do radio in July or August.
Terry Gross Celebrates 25 Years of National Syndication for “Fresh Air.” Tomorrow “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross will celebrate her 25th anniversary in national syndication via NPR. Gross began the program on WHYY-FM, Philadelphia – where the show is still based – in 1975. Gross tells the Philadelphia Daily News’ Dan Gross (no relation), “I fell in love with radio the moment I started doing it. I still find it a privilege to be able to talk to and engage in a pretty personal level with people whose work I respect.” Surprisingly for some, Gross tells the paper she counts Howard Stern among those whom she’d like to interview but has not. She says she’s a fan of his radio show.
Carmichael Dave Out at KHTK, Sacramento. The producer and sidekick to morning host and PD Don Geronimo and host of his own midday show exits the CBS Radio sports outlet. His tweets about his exit are vague but it appears Carmichael Dave is the victim of a budget-related maneuver. He tweets, “As of today I am no longer a part of CBS Radio…I’m getting a lot of response that this was contract related. I asked for nothing. I can’t go into details. Just know that I love the station and the people.” The station is airing DirecTV/Premiere’s Dan Patrick show in middays.
Analysis: The Legal Basis for the Bob Lonsberry Decision. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman reviews the recent ruling by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department of New York in the defamation case filed against WHAM, Rochester talk show host Bob Lonsberry. Weisman writes that for talk hosts who make a living expressing their opinions, it’s important to note that “not all opinion is protected, but when it is made about a matter of public concern, the speaker is protected by the First Amendment.” Read Steven J.J. Weisman’s piece here.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. CBS Radio names Brian Thomas vice president of programming for its Tampa cluster that includes sports talk WQYK – 1010AM Sports…..Syndicated Solutions, Inc. begins distribution of Chuck Woolery’s “Save Us Chuck” political commentary feature on June 4. The game show legend states, “I started in radio and just love it! During all my years on television, I’ve come to realize that radio is truly the only medium where I can connect one-on-one with the audience and help to create real change.”…..CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles visits the foothill cities of the San Gabriel Valley as part of its “KNX on Your Corner” remote broadcast series. The broadcast will emanate from the Monrovia Coffee Company in the heart of Old Town Monrovia on June 1…..WTKK-FM, Boston midday talk host Doug Meehan’s listeners are launching a campaign to get the host an on-air audition with Kelly Ripa on ABC TV’s “Live! With Kelly.” Meehan has recorded his pitch to be on the show and posted it on WTKK’s website. He’s encouraging listeners to visit the “Live! With Kelly” website touting Meehan for a shot at a guest host appearance…..Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte regular fill-in host Wayne Powers wins his primary contest for a seat on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
First Caller Puts Curse on New Talk Show Host. What a way to start a new gig! Gregg Henson, the station’s program director who replaced afternoon drive host Pat Miller on WOWO, Fort Wayne, was greeted with a first call that sounded like something out of a Steven King novel. Not only did the listener with a heavy accent voice his disapproval of Henson and insult him by saying he is “a snake” who “doesn’t bring anything to the table” — he went on to actually put a curse on him! Check THIS out. Listen to the audio here.
2012 Presidential Race, Obama Gay Marriage Issue, Feds to Sue Arizona Sheriff Arpaio, and Putin Snubs Obama Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/9). The 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama’s change of heart on the gay marriage issue, the federal lawsuit being filed against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backing out of meeting with President Obama and the G-8 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Media Veteran and Fenway Park Announcer Carl Beane Dies in Auto Crash. Fenway Park’s voice of the Boston Red Sox, Carl Beane, died Wednesday at age 59 after suffering a heart attack and crashing his car while driving. Beane won the Fenway Park gig after the 2002 season. He was a radio sports announcer, talk host, news reporter and more during his long career. In addition to stringing for AP, ESPN and SiriusXM, Beane had worked at WBZ, Boston and spent many years in the 1990s working at then talk/music hybrid WESO, Southbridge.
By Steven J. J. Weisman
BOSTON – The success of any talk show is based on lively, entertaining and sometimes offensive speech. This is guaranteed by the First Amendment. In the landmark 1964 United States Supreme Court case of New York Times v. Sullivan, Justice William Brennan wrote for the majority that we have a “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks…”
The protection provided by the First Amendment is not unlimited however. When the speaker states mistruths with malice, that is he or she knows that what he is saying is a lie or makes statements with a reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements, the speaker can be held responsible for libel or slander.
There is another source of protection, however, for those of us who make our living making sometimes controversial statements and that is “opinion.” Not all opinion is protected, but when it is made about a matter of public concern, the speaker is protected by the First Amendment and that was the recent ruling of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department of New York when it ruled in the case of Gisel v. Clear Channel Communications, Inc..
The plaintiff, John Gisel had been found not guilty of criminally negligent homicide in regard to his fatally shooting a man in a hunting accident. The day after his acquittal, Gisel’s sister, Jacqueline Inzinga, went on Bob Lonsberry’s talk show on WHAM, Rochester to discuss the case. During their on-air discussion, Lonsberry asked Inzinga how it felt to have a brother who was a “cold-blooded murderer” and whether he “put a notch in the stock of his gun as he kills people?” Lonsberry also stated “that the hunting incident could not have been an accident…”
As a result of those statements, Gisel sued for defamation.
However, the court dismissed the case as a matter of law without even an evidentiary trial by concluding that Lonsberry’s comments qualified as pure opinion. The court stated that reasonable listeners would not conclude that Lonsberry was making statements of fact, but rather of his opinion in regard to underlying facts that were well known to the general public through extensive media coverage of the incident and the judicial hearing. The court also emphasized Lonsberry’s talk show as a “forum for public debate on newsworthy topics, and his statements were made during an on-air debate with his listeners regarding plaintiff’s culpability and whether the jury had properly acquitted plaintiff.” The court noted that the “tone of Lonsberry’s statements were obviously intended to be caustic and confrontational rather than factual” and they found nothing wrong with that. The court concluded that his statements were constitutionally protected expressions of pure opinion and therefore protected by law.
Don Martin Interviewed on TALKERS TV. He is one of the most influential management figures in sports talk radio. Don Martin wears both national and local feathers in his sports cap serving as vice president/general manager of Fox Sports Radio and general manager/program director of sports talk KLAC, Los Angeles. TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian caught up with Martin at the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20/11) and interviewed him about the state of sports talk radio including the local and national perspectives, where to find new talent and the importance of stations having play-by-play associations with a popular sports franchise. Martin also discusses the impact that the PPM is having on the sports talk genre saying that it is showing the format in a positive light. According to Martin, sports talk radio is one area of the talk media world that is less impacted by these difficult times than most. He credits the fact that so many talented hosts are out of work as providing a vibrant talent pool from which to pick when openings come and points to the continual crop of retiring athletes as being another source of potential sports talk broadcasters. Check out this must see video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.
KSFO, San Francisco Makes Program Changes; Melanie Morgan Returns to AM Drive and J.D. Hayworth Takes Over Late Mornings. Almost four years after exiting the AM drive show she co-hosted with Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan is back on the Cumulus Media station alongside morning host Brian Sussman. KSFO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to have Melanie back on KSFO. She’s very popular with listeners and we’re looking forward to her many contributions on the revamped morning show.” Cumulus fills the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot vacated by Rush Limbaugh when the Premiere Networks star moved across town to Clear Channel’s new KKSF with former Arizona congressman KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth says of his new gig, “As a ‘recovering’ Congressman, I’ll ‘pull back the curtains’ and explain why politicians do the things they do. With the help of KSFO listeners, we’ll endeavor to provide common sense and clarity in these challenging and confusing times.”
Bob Lonsberry to Host Local Show for Clear Channel’s WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse. Bob Lonsberry tells the Syracuse Post-Standard he’ll make his new show local for Syracuse listeners even though he’ll be a commuter from his home market of Rochester where he hosts the midday show on WHAM. Lonsberry takes over the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program beginning January 9. The shift was formerly held by Jim Reith who exited the station at the end of October. Lonsberry tells the paper, “I want something that literally speaks to a Syracuse listener, is representative of them and is a service to them.” Lonsberry will lead into WSYR-AM/FM’s 5:00 pm news-oriented “Daily Wrap with Joe Galuski and Kevin Schenk.”
Gene Burns to Begin KKSF, San Francisco Show Next Week After Apparent Health Issues. The new lineup at Clear Channel’s KKSF, San Francisco began this week but former KGO talk host Gene Burns was missing in action. Numerous reports in the media trades cite a mini-stroke suffered by Burns as the reason he’s not on the air. However, Bay Area blogger Rich Lieberman reports that Burns did not suffer a stroke of any kind, that he has another unspecified medical condition and is expected to be on the radio next week.
WXOS-FM, St. Louis Tweaks Lineup; Former Cardinal Chris Duncan Moves to PM Drive. Hubbard Radio’s 101 ESPN (WXOS-FM) moves former St. Louis Cardinals star Chris Duncan from his role on the evening show to “The Fast Lane” PM drive program where he’ll work alongside Randy Karraker and D’Marco Farr. Bob Ramsey, who had been part of the “Fast Lane” show, moves to the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with co-host Brian Stull for the newly named “Stully & Rammer” show. Ramsey also maintains his role as voice of the St. Louis Billikens calling St. Louis University men’s basketball games on the station. Program director Kent Sterling states, “We are excited to put Chris Duncan on ‘The Fast Lane.’ He is a unique communicator with an incredible work ethic, and a great guy. He has lived a life in the eye of the sports hurricane and he speaks with an authority that is captivating. Media is all about finding great communicators and Chris is one of the most gifted in America.”
CBS Radio Announces Debut of DC All-News Outlet. CBS Radio’s all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will hit the airwaves on January 19 and will feature the following talent lineup: Bill Rehkopf and Amy Morris in AM drive, Jenny Glick and Chas Henry in middays, Evan Haning and Nancy Lyons in PM drive, and Sarah Jacobs and Cheryl Simone in evenings. Program director Robert Sanchez says of the new station, “We are very excited to have put together such a great group of professionals who have spent many years covering local and national news. Each brings a specialty to WNEW creating a great team which will deliver important and compelling news that matters to local residents. When Washington needs to know, this team will have them covered.”
Rob Williams New OM/PD at WQRT, Cincinnati; New PM Drive Show Debuts. The Florence, Kentucky-licensed talk station owned by Christian Broadcasting System Ltd. names former Clear Channel programmer Rob Williams operations manager and program director for “Real Talk 1160” – WQRT. Williams replaces Cary Pall. At the same time, as talk host Andy Furman begins his new position hosting morning drive on the Fox Sports Radio Network, he leaves WQRT and makes way for “The Other Guys” afternoon sports talk show featuring Fox Sports Ohio’s Jeff Piecoro, former producer and co-host of the Furman show Rick “the Brick” Wall, and Metro Networks’ Jeremy “J-Lance” Lance.
Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Fracking-Related Earthquakes and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/3). The GOP Iowa Caucuses held yesterday, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and warnings to the U.S. about carriers in the region, reports of earthquakes in Northeastern Ohio thought to be related to oil and gas fracking and the first financial markets activity of the new year were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Mona Lipschitz Debuts New Column. Full of gossip, rumors, personal asides and unbridled opinion about the industry and the people in it, Mona Lipschitz debuts her new column “Straight from The Lip” today at Talkers.com. In it she offers some keen insights about recent changes at Merlin Media and Cumulus Media as well as some pointed advice for Anderson Cooper. Mona has been the news editor of TALKERS magazine for the past 21 years and she knows where all the bodies are buried in this business. Let the dishing begin! To read the first installment of “Straight from The Lip,” click here.
TALKERS Top Talk Media Industry Stories for 2011.
TALKERS looks back at the top talk radio/media stories of 2011. It was a year marked by financial stress, corporate shuffling, format flips and the relentless march of technological change.
1. Radio Faces Continued Economic Hardship. Mired in debt and hampered by soft advertising sales, most radio broadcasting companies found 2011 to be challenging. Marked by cutbacks, limited budgets and job insecurity, talk radio – as well as all commercial radio – was a tough business in which to work.
2. Big Deals: Cumulus Closes Deal Buying Citadel. This was an enormous deal by any year’s standards with far ranging impact and implications on station formats and personnel — highlighted by serious material changes in format and personnel at KGO, San Francisco. Another significant deal of the year — Bonneville sells 17 Midwest/east major/large market stations to Hubbard Radio.
3. The Invasion of FM by Talk. 2011 was the year that the long-awaited migration of talk to the FM dial actually could be called a “trend” with numerous AM bastions picking up accompanying FM outlets for their programming. All signs point to this continuing in 2012 and beyond. Read the entire story here.
Geraldo Rivera Still a Possibility at KABC, Los Angeles? KABC, Los Angles talk host John Phillips’ recent e-mail to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan once again fires up the rumor mill leaving open the possibility that Geraldo Rivera – soon to be hosting the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show at Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York – will also be heard on the company’s KABC. KABC management released the new program schedule on December 23 with Phillips listed as the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon host but now Phillips states he’ll do that shift through January 27. After that? No one’s saying. So read into that what you will but if Cumulus is spending good money to develop a Geraldo radio show, why not put it on in the nation’s second largest market to give the sales team more to work with? As for Phillips and his show that will follow Doug McIntyre’s morning program beginning next week, he tells Lycan, “The thought is your morning commute doesn’t end at 9:00 am, so neither will we. McIntyre and I are good friends, and by that I mean he’s yet to run me over in the KABC parking lot with his car, so we’ll share the same ethos and won’t stop beating the drum about L.A. and OC issues that directly impact our listeners’ lives.”
WHAM, Rochester Adds More Bob Lonsberry and More Local News to Schedule. Clear Channel’s WHAM, Rochester announces a new program schedule to begin in 2012 that adds another half hour of popular Rochester personality Bob Lonsberry to the schedule. In addition to Lonsberry’s solo 9:00 am to 1:00 pm program, he’ll join the WHAM Morning News crew – Chet Walker, Shari Smith, Randy Gorbman and John DiTullio – for the new “1180 WHAM Free for All” show from 8:30 am to 9:00 am. Additionally, the station expands the “WHAM Afternoon News” to a two-hour format from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Speaking to the changes, CC Rochester VP/GM Kevin LeGrett states, “We are very excited about this new 1180 WHAM lineup, which features 12 hours of local Rochester programming daily. When it comes to Rochester’s adults, 1180 WHAM owns the franchise and consistently achieves excellent results for our listeners, community and advertisers.”
Brian Michel New Operations Manager at Clear Channel Atlanta. The five-station Clear Channel cluster that includes news/talk WGST has a new operations manager. Brian Michel comes to Atlanta from Salt Lake City where he was OM at Simmons’ stations there. While he’ll serve as program director for country WUBL-FM, OM for the entire Atlanta cluster and he’ll also be acting program director for WGST, which as reported earlier this week, may be getting an FM simulcast in the near future according to local rumors.
Iowa Caucuses/2012 Presidential Race, Iran’s Saber Rattling, 2011 Retrospective, Kim Jong Il Funeral Parade and Preliminary Holiday Retail Sales Figures Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. The fast-approaching Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the year of 2011 in retrospect, the funeral parade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and positive preliminary holiday retail sales reports were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Clear Channel Names Jason Furst PD at WHAM, Rochester. Jason Furst adds programming oversight of Clear Channel’s news/talk WHAM, Rochester and sports WHTK-AM/FM to his duties. Furst programs WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse and will continue in that role. He will, however, give up the PD reins at CHR WWHT, Syracuse. Furst fills the vacant programming position in Rochester that opened when Jeff Howlett was let go from the station he’d been working at for the past 25 years.
Emmis’ WIBC-FM, Indianapolis Partners with WRTV-TV for News and Weather. Emmis Communications’ news/talk WIBC-FM, Indianapolis announces a partnership with McGraw-Hill’s local ABC affiliate WRTV-TV for news and weather coverage. Emmis VP and market manager Charlie Morgan says of the new deal, “In our 21st-Century world of news and information consumption, it just makes sense for our TV and radio newsrooms to work together to ensure we are delivering the most relevant information to our consumers wherever they are…at home, at work, in their cars, wherever. This partnership will allow us to provide Indianapolis viewers and listeners with the latest information wherever they are, whether they are listening to the radio, watching TV, going online or on their mobile phones.” WRTV meteorologists Kevin Gregory, Todd Klaassen and Stephanie Ortmann will provide forecasts throughout the day on WIBC. They will also provide live updates during severe weather situations.
Buckley Broadcasting Adds FM Signal to KNZR, Bakersfield. The Buckley Broadcasting news/talk outlet at 1560 on the AM dial states on its website, “KNZR made Bakersfield radio history by being the first news/talk station in the market to simulcast on the FM dial. Our market leading 1560 AM news/talk programming is now also heard on 97.7 FM. The move to simulcast on FM allows us to better serve our local community as well as provide increased audience reach and value to our advertisers.” To accommodate the move, Buckley drops AC music on KSMJ licensed to Shafter, California.
WTOP-FM, Washington Hires Former CNN Correspondent. Jeanne Meserve worked at cable news giant CNN for the past 20 years – most recently as homeland security correspondent. Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM, Washington brings her aboard as a freelance anchor.
KTRH, Houston’s Matt Patrick Has Busy Black Friday. It’s safe to say KTRH, Houston morning drive host Matt Patrick will not be at the shopping mall on Friday. Patrick hosts his regular AM drive show on KTRH from 5:00 am to 9:00 am, then fills in for Bill Cunningham on WLW, Cincinnati from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. But wait there’s more! Patrick will sit in for fellow Clear Channel Houston host Michael Berry on KTRH from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Thanksgiving Holiday, 2012 Presidential Race, Euro Zone Debt Crisis, Super Committee Failure, Immigration Law Challenges Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/22). The Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the GOP contenders for president in 2012, the ongoing Euro Zone debt crisis, the effect the Super Committee’s failure to address U.S. debt and challenges to states’ immigration laws were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.