Part Two of a Special Feature
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — As sure as 2013 has arrived, personal resolutions have been made, and a plethora of prognostications will bombard us.
Here, however, is something that could actually be a trend this year: Don’t be surprised if clusters with multiple talk stations jettison one of those signals to sports.
Associated with that, we very well might witness a spate of under-performing (primarily talk) outlets transition to sports.
TRN Promotes Jerry Doyle to Network Slot Where Savage Aired. Calling it the show with which “stations will get more light and less heat, a show that they can sell locally with pride, but also a show that will respect its stations, advertisers and audiences with a brilliance that sets great shows apart from good ones,” Talk Radio Network moves Jerry Doyle into the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm PT time slot formerly held by Michael Savage. TRN states, “For too long, we’ve had to choose between ratings and salability, but no longer…Jet pilot, Wall Street investment banker for 10 years, Hollywood star for 12 years, former congressional nominee and now radio giant who has earned his right to this spot for close to nine years, Jerry Doyle is the future of talk radio. He will bring massive audiences through word of mouth because he is brilliant and funny, showing both emotional and intellectual range that is beyond rare.” As it announces Doyle’s move into the West Coast afternoon drive slot, TRN promises, “He understands the advertising business like few others; Jerry is a triple-rated William Morris Agency voice-over artist who has voiced national ads for AT&T, Chevrolet, TGI Fridays, Anheuser-Busch, Panasonic, The US Armed Forces and many others. Jerry will work with his stations reading their ads and promos, because he understands radio isn’t about host ego, it’s about high levels of performance, and it’s about business.” Michael Savage exited TRN last week after winning in arbitration to get out of his contract with the syndicator. Filling in for Doyle’s program in his previous network time is Dr. Bill Wattenburg until a permanent replacement is named.
CBS Sports Radio Announces Scott Ferrall to Be Late Night Host. When CBS Radio’s new 24/7 national sports talk network kicks off in January, longtime sports talk pro Scott Ferrall will hold down the 10:00 pm to 2:00 am ET slot with his “Ferrall on the Bench” program. So far, we know the new CBS Sports Radio network will feature Jim Rome for the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot followed by Doug Gottlieb from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET. Network director of programming Eric Spitz says, “Scott is widely recognized as having set the standard for what a successful national evening sports radio show should be. He’s got an amazing knowledge of sports that rivals even the most noted experts, and with his fast-paced style of high-octane sports talk, listeners and our affiliates are guaranteed to get the very best program each and every night.” Ferrall is currently hosting a sports talk show for SiriusXM. In the past he has worked for SportsNet New York, several NHL properties, Fox Sports Radio, and Sportsfan Radio Network, as well as major market stations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami and Pittsburgh.
Don Wade Update from Chicago. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports that WLS-AM, Chicago morning host Don Wade came through his brain surgery successfully and is resting at home, according to wife and on-air partner Roma. In case you missed it, the longtime WLS-AM morning personality was diagnosed with a growth in early September for which he underwent surgery last Thursday. Now, the Wades’ agent, Eliot Ephriam, tells Feder, “The surgery went as expected and Don came out of it really well. We’re awaiting the results of tests and that will determine what’s next.” Don Wade is expected to remain at home for several weeks. Station executives report the duo had good ratings news as the September PPM numbers indicate WLS-AM was #1 with listeners 12+ from 6:00 am to 10:00 am scoring a 7.0 share – the program’s highest ratings in more than four years.
Genesis Communications’ SportsTalkFlorida Aligns with NBC Sports Radio. Several months ago, Genesis Communications stated it was going to drop the ESPN Radio affiliation for its sports talk stations WHBO, Tampa and WHOO, Orlando. Now the company reveals its programming plans and its new affiliation with the fledgling NBC Sports Radio network. The stations have been named “NBC Sports Talk 1040 The Team Tampa Bay” and “NBC Sports Talk 1080 The Team Orlando,” respectively. The new lineup at the two stations includes: local host David Baumann in AM drive; DirecTV/Fox Sports Radio’s Dan Patrick from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; local host Whitney Johnson from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm; for PM drive, WHBO airs local host Charlie Bernstein and WHOO broadcasts local duo Mike Tuck and Jerry O’Neill; both stations air NBC’s Erik Kuselias. Both outlets are carrying sports news updates from NBC Sports Radio.
Clark Howard Returns to Middays at WDBO-AM/FM, Orlando. The Mel Robbins program, heard from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Cox Media’s WDBO-AM/FM, Orlando will exit that time slot and Clark Howard will return to that time slot beginning October 12. Howard was bumped to the late night 10:00 pm to 1:00 am slot back in March when WDBO brought Robbins aboard for a live midday program.
KOZN, Omaha Names Damon Benning Morning Co-Host. Former Nebraska running back and 1996 Orange Bowl MVP Damon Benning is named co-host of the 7:00 am to 11:00 am show alongside Gary Sharp on NRG Media’s “1620 The Zone.” Benning has served as an analyst on the Big Ten Network, NET Television, Cox Communications, and made numerous guest appearances on “1620 The ZONE” over the years. Today he begins on-air duties on “Sharp & Benning in the Morning” with KOZN sports director Gary Sharp. NRG Media Omaha market manager Andy Ruback says, “For years we have had Benning on the station as he has been a vital part of our broadcast team and our extensive Husker coverage. Now, we will be able to take advantage of his expertise full time, all year long.”
WISN, Milwaukee Talk Host Mark Belling Faces Backlash for “Thug” Comments. Community activists in Milwaukee are promising a rally on Thursday to demand an apology from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment talk host Mark Belling who hosts the PM drive show on news/talk WISN. Activists in the market are upset with comments Belling made about Derek Williams – an African-American man – who died in the back of a Milwaukee Police squad car. An account from the Milwaukee Journal states Williams pleaded with officers for help saying he could not breathe but they ignored his pleas and he died. The case was recently reclassified as a homicide. Critics say Belling’s characterizing Williams as a “dirty, rotten thug” was inappropriate and not relevant to the care he should have received while in police custody.
Odds & Sods. CBS Radio’s KRLD-AM, Dallas “Newsradio 1080” announces the hiring of award-winning weatherman Bob Goosmann as chief meteorologist for the station. VP of news/talk/sports Bruce Gilbert states, “Bob lives and breathes North Texas weather and greatly respects KRLD’s commitment to accurate and dependable forecast information every ten minutes. ‘NewsRadio 1080 KRLD’ listeners can rely on him, not only for accurate forecasts, but also for the information they need to stay safe when severe weather strikes.” Goosmann most recently served as chief meteorologist for KDAF-TV, Dallas…..Clear Channel’s Quad Cities cluster enters into a deal with New Young Broadcasting Holding Company’s KWQC-TV, Davenport, Iowa that has the TV station producing news and weather content for news/talk WOC and other cluster stations in exchange for CC creating daily entertainment reports for the television station.
Clear Channel’s WTAM Scores Indians Renewal. According to Northeast Ohio’s Chronicle-Telegram, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk WTAM, Cleveland has won the rights to Indians baseball – for how long, though, is not known. The report has not been confirmed by Clear Channel. WTAM – which has been the home of Indians baseball for the past 14 years – was reportedly getting a strong challenge for the play-by-play rights from CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talk WKRK “92.3 The Fan.”
Obama-Romney Debate Preview, Iran Nukes Threat, Potential New ObamaCare Challenge, and Fate of ‘Fast and Furious’ Guns Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/1). The looming presidential candidate debate; concern over Iran’s nuclear weapons program; a new, potential Supreme Court challenge to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act; and the charge that guns from the ‘Fast and Furious’ program ended up in Mexican drug cartel’s hands were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Salem Builds Up the Morning Show at KRLA and KTIE in Southern California. Las Vegas-native Heidi Harris has been hosting the morning drive show on Salem Communications’ KRLA, Los Angeles and sister KTIE, Riverside/San Bernardino (positioned as 870 The Answer and 590 The Answer, respectively) since late April. Now, the company brings Brian Whitman and Ben Shapiro aboard to build a morning team. Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce states, “We’re committed to providing L.A.’s morning commuters with a show that informs, entertains and makes them want to stay in the car once they get into the parking lot at work. We think that Heidi, Brian and Ben create a unique mix for L.A. that will do just that.” Brian Whitman is a 15-year Los Angeles resident who worked at CBS Radio’s KLSX-FM when it was a hot talk outlet. Ben Shapiro is an L.A. native, editor-at-large for Breitbart News and a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School. Boyce says, “Creating an on-air radio team is tricky, but these guys all developed chemistry and camaraderie instantly. You would think they had been on the air for years together. Heidi continues to drive the bus on the air, and the guys seem to bring out the best of her many talents.” KRLA/KTIE program director Chuck Tyler says, “When we threw these three people together we honestly weren’t sure what would happen, but we knew that each of them brought a unique and important element to the mix. After hearing a week of shows we realized that something very special was coming out of the speakers.”
George Plaster Returns to Nashville Sports Radio July 23. Nashville sports talk personality George Plaster and co-host Willy Daunic left WGFX, Nashville when Cumulus Media closed on the Citadel purchase back in September of 2011. Since then, the Tennessee sports talker has been off the radio due to a non-compete. Daunic joined Cromwell Group’s crosstown sports talk outlet WPRT in November of 2011. Now, the stage is set for Plaster (pictured here with Cromwell Group market manager Tincy Crouse) to rejoin co-host Daunic on the PM drive show on July 23. A report in The Tennessean says the program is headed for regional syndication as “Sports Night on The Game Radio Network,” although affiliates are not being announced just yet. Station manager Jeff Kolb tells the paper, “George has been the biggest radio sports personality in this market for 20 or so years and carries a huge fan base. We started this station last year by getting ESPN Radio (as the national network affiliate) and the Predators broadcasts, and then we added the Nashville Sounds. George is a staple of Nashville sports talk radio, so adding him is huge.”
Why Not Just Say, “Don’t Listen?” Consultant Holland Cooke cringes at amateur mistakes made by talk hosts bemoaning working during a holiday week. Are you (or your staff) making those same mistakes? Plus, a new study sheds some light on the public’s sentiments about civility in American political discourse (or lack thereof). Read Holland’s entire piece here.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Genesis Communications sports talk WHOO, Orlando adds Central Florida News 13 sports anchor and reporter David Baumann to host the daily 9:00 am to 11:00 am show…..Grantland.com features another of its “oral histories,” this time writers Alex French and Howie Kahn write an oral history of sports talk pioneering station WFAN, New York. Grantland.com is a sports and pop culture website founded by ESPN.com writer Bill Simmons…..In response to the recent weather-related power outages, WTOP, Washington is hosting an “Ask the Utility Execs” live Q&A hosted by WTOP investigative reporter Mark Seagraves today at 10:00 am and will include reps from Pepco, BG&E, SMECO, NOVEC, Potomac Edison and Rappahannock….. WXKS, Boston morning drive talk host Jeff Katz is pictured here speaking at a Greater Boston Tea Party rally at Christopher Columbus Park at Boston Harbor to encourage the repeal of President Obama’s Affordable Care law…..Tampa-based Bubba the Love Sponge calls on his Bubba Army for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the beating of a 17-year-old in Land O’ Lakes, Florida on July 2 that sent him to the emergency room with multiple injuries. Bubba is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of those involved…..Talk show host and candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 9th District, Martha Zoller, picked up some momentum in her bid for the seat as she won the Fannin County Tea Party Patriots’ Primary Preference Poll this weekend and earned the endorsement of the American Conservative Union PAC (ACU-PAC).
On a Pilgrimage. KARN-FM, Little Rock program director and PM drive host Dave Elswick (c) is pictured here with his wife Lynda (r) and Cumulus Media Networks talk host and Fox News Channel personality Governor Mike Huckabee (l) during a visit to a production of Huckabee’s FNC program. Elswick tells TALKERS he was in New York City with 50 listeners on his “Dave Elswick Patriot Tour 2012” and the group landed tickets to the taping.
ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic Raises $1 Million for V Foundation. The 12th annual ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic was held at the Industry Hills Golf Club in Industry Hills, California as part of the V Foundation events that happen in conjunction with the 2012 ESPYS which air tonight on ESPN. The golf outing helped raise $1 million for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Pictured here are (from l-r): ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, ESPN executive chairman George Bodenheimer, ESPN’s Mike Golic, Olympic Skiing Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn, actor Joe Mantegna and ESPN’s Stuart Scott.
House to Take Up ObamaCare Repeal, Bush Tax Cuts Repeal for Wealthy, 2012 Presidential Race, and Russia-Syria Connection Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/10). The U.S. House plans to vote on repeal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act; the response to the president’s plan to repeal the Bush tax cuts for Americans making more than $250,000; the 2012 presidential campaign; and Russia’s sending of warships to aid Syria were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Victory, But No Clarity at the Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Fox TV and ABC and against the FCC in a decision announced yesterday. The high-profile cases involving fleeting occurrences of nudity and four-letter words on the two TV networks came to an end with the Court ruling as many, including TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman, thought it would: in favor of the broadcasters. But as Weisman writes, the decision was based on a violation of the Due Process clause and ignored the larger question of the FCC’s definition of indecency. “As for the overriding question of the unconstitutionality of the rules themselves, the Court ruled that it did not even have to answer that question because the application of the FCC’s indecency rule was improperly done in a manner that violated the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment.” Read Weisman’s analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision here.
Sports Talk Radio Gets Another National Network as CBS Radio Teams with Cumulus Media Networks to Offer Talk Shows, News and More. The skyrocketing popularity of sports talk radio is bringing another major network player into the business. CBS announces it will put the resources of CBS Radio and CBS Sports together to build a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week lineup of national programming called CBS Sports Radio. The company is partnering with Cumulus Media Networks which will provide affiliate sales and ad sales for the network and the content will air on 67 of Cumulus Media’s stations. The long-form talk aspect of this network will debut on January 3, 2013 but hourly CBS Sports news updates will begin on September 4 of this year. This entry of CBS into the sports radio game creates a much more crowded field of players once dominated by just a few. Soon ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio Network, and Yahoo! Sports Radio will be joined by the recently announced collaboration between NBC and Dial Global – NBC Sports Radio – and CBS Sports Radio. CBS Radio president and CEO Dan Mason states, “For more than two decades we have owned local sports radio and appreciate great talent and programming that resonates with listeners and elicits passionate dialogue and debate. We are bullish our expertise and prior achievements will allow us to successfully complement our existing businesses while expanding into what until now has been a largely unchallenged sector of the radio business.” Exactly how CBS will staff the new national sports talk radio network is something we’ll see develop over the next six months. It certainly has a trough of excellent talent at its local sports talk O&Os and the company indicates affiliate stations will have the opportunity to “regionalize their lineup by choosing from select programs currently featured on CBS Radio or Cumulus sports stations.” That means an affiliate station in the Mid-Atlantic, for example, could elect to carry a program that emanates from WIP, Philadelphia or WJFK-FM, Washington. Regardless of how this new enterprise develops, suffice it to say the sports talk radio business is getting much more competitive.
Genesis Communications Announces End of ESPN Relationship in Tampa and Orlando. ESPN Radio has been a part of Genesis Communications’ WHBO, Tampa and WHOO, Orlando for the past 10 years but president Bruce Maduri says in a statement that they believe it’s time to develop more local – and exclusive – talent. Maduri states, “ESPN Radio makes its once-exclusive programming readily available to the public on multiple audio and video channels and platforms, such as web radio, satellite radio, mobile devices, broadcast television, cable TV and more.” And Maduri cites the cost of the programming as a factor. He says they’ve enjoyed their 10-year relationship with ESPN but will end their relationship with ESPN by October 1.
Meet One of Talk Media’s Hardest-Working Talents: Larry O’Connor. And today is a very busy day for Larry O’Connor. First, he’s filling in for WPHT, Philadelphia’s Chris Stigall in AM drive; after an hour break he fills in for Dial Global’s nationally syndicated Dennis Miller; then he joins Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt as a guest on Hewitt’s annual live broadcast from Disneyland in Anaheim. Who is Larry O’Connor? The former manager and producer in the Broadway theater industry joined the Breitbart empire writing for Big Hollywood and became Andrew Breitbart’s choice to run the multi-media arm where he came to be in charge of Breitbart TV and he’s now editor of the video and multi-media arm of the Breitbart News Network. Given his position, O’Connor has an interesting view of the talk media landscape and he tells TALKERS magazine, “I have been fortunate to launch my career in this new age where I could broadcast on the internet for relatively low costs and within months build a loyal and vibrant audience with no more promotion than Facebook and Twitter alerts. Streaming my show at Breitbart News has allowed me to cater to the passionate center-right political news junkie that makes up our audience and it perfectly mirrors the hard-core talk radio audience. I am also fortunate to be the multi-media editor and curator for the Breitbart sites which puts me in the position of seeking out the choicest sound bytes which I hope will end up on playlists for talk radio shows from coast to coast. By having that task all day long, it puts me in the news cycle that is in the wheelhouse of talkers up and down the aisle.” The untimely death of Andrew Breitbart certainly affected the late conservative icon’s business but O’Connor tells TALKERS things there continue to move at a lightning pace. “The radical re-design of our site, which was Andrew’s final project, has been a resounding success. But the new design also has put enormous pressure and demands on our dedicated editorial staff because unlike our old blog format, the new design requires us to be on top of the news cycle and constantly posting fresh, relevant content on a constant basis. The loss of Andrew is a void that, frankly, will never be filled. But it is comforting to know that his business partner and long-time best friend Larry Solov is there every day over-seeing us and keeping Andrew’s vision alive and thriving.” Meanwhile, O’Connor continues to be heard at local stations across the nation. He’s recently filled in at such historic signals as WOR, New York; WLS, Chicago; WABC, New York and more.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Nationally syndicated progressive talk star Randi Rhodes hosted an iconic entertainment figure on her Premiere Networks program as Cher called the show on Wednesday to talk about being vilified for speaking out as an entertainer. Cher told Rhodes, “I…try to do my part, try to do more than my part for helping people with my money and with my speaking…They just can only vilify you by just saying the most heinous things. They don’t talk about your ideas, or what you think. They talk about what kind of a person you are and then they vilify what kind of a person you are.”…..CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles spotlights the city of Santa Monica in its next “KNX on Your Corner” event. News anchors will broadcast live from the café Back on the Beach throughout the day and “KNX Business Hour” host Frank Mottek will lead a private networking luncheon for local business leaders, titled, “Your Money, the Markets & the Economy,” with special guest, James Hausberg, managing director and partner of HighTower Advisors at Santa Monica Ford Lincoln…..Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago is named Chicago Market Station of the Year by the Illinois Broadcasters Association for the fifth straight year. At the recent awards ceremony WGN picked up six other first place honors including Best Local Radio Newscast, Best Sports Story, and Best Website…..SiriusXM – in association with ESPN Radio – offers subscribers complete coverage of Wimbledon beginning Monday, June 25 through Saturday, July 7.
CRN Digital Talk Radio Adds Three Telecom Systems to Its Affiliate Roster. Sunland, California-based CRN Digital Talk Radio announces the addition of three new telecommunications systems to its affiliate roster which will carry CRN’s more than 100 shows and talk radio programs on their audio-only video channels for subscribers. Home Net of Kutztown, Pennsylvania; CML Telephone Cooperative Association of Meridien, Iowa; and LISCO (Local Internet Service Company) of Fairfield, Iowa will carry all seven of CRN’s broadcast networks on dedicated audio channels. CRN CEO Mike Horn states, “We are excited to join with Home Net, CML and LISCO and provide their customers with our top-rated and highly entertaining programming for the at-home listening experience.”
‘Fast and Furious’ Case/Executive Privilege Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 18-22. The case of Congressional Republicans’ attempt to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for not delivering documents in connection with the ‘Fast and Furious’ program and President Obama’s invoking executive privilege in the case was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing in the #1 spot on the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 this week was the 2012 presidential race. At #3 was the G20 Summit and the Russia-Syria connection followed by the Euro Zone debt crisis and the global financial markets activities at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week according to ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Dave Ramsey show is added to the program schedule at CBS Radio’s KRLD, Dallas…..KFNX, Phoenix picks up Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee…..Compass Media Networks’ Free Beer and Hot Wings morning drive show is added to the program schedule at WZGM, Asheville, North Carolina; KBAZ-FM, Missoula, Montana; and WQCK-FM, State College, Pennsylvania…..The Money Pit Home Improvement Show joins the lineup at WMCD-FM, Statesboro, Georgia; WTHQ, Paducah, Kentucky; and KQWC-FM, Webster City, Iowa.