Top News/Talk Stories of 2014. As is the tradition at TALKERS magazine, the end of the calendar year provides the opportunity to look back and present the industry with a list of talk radio’s most-talked-about stories and people of 2014. Regular TALKERS readers are aware that we present the Talkers TenTM each week – a chart that shows the top stories and people of the week as discussed on news/talk radio based upon ongoing research from TALKERS. This year-end chart uses that data. The accompanying graphic presents the charts for 2014.
Big John Howell to Exit WIND, Chicago. According to a report from Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Big John Howell is exiting his morning drive gig with Salem Communicatons’ news/talk WIND, Chicago “560 The Answer.” Feder writes that Howell was offered a contract renewal but he turned it down. Feder says Howell’s contract runs out at the end of this month but Howell may work into January while the company decides how to replace him. But the rumor is that Howell may jump across the street to join Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM. Howell has hosted the morning show for the past eight years and currently works with Amy Jacobson as co-host.
Anthony Gargano Exits WIP-FM, Philadelphia. Tweeting that his contract offer from CBS RADIO to remain afternoon host on sports talker WIP-FM in Philly was a “lowball” offer, Anthony Gargano exits. He Tweets, “Thanks to WIP and all of the Philadelphia fans for 15 great years! On to the next chapter.” It’s rumored that the station’s Josh Innes will assume Gargano’s role in afternoons where Gargano had been co-hosting with Rob Ellis. There are also rumors that Gargano may pop up at Greater Media’s crosstown competitor WPEN-FM “The Fanatic.”
Round Two of December PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of December 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The survey period was November 6 through December 3. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Odds & Sods. According to Jose Lambiet’s Gossip Extra, the Rick Sessa-hosted “American Biker Talk Radio” show is moving from its current station – WSVU, West Palm Beach – to rock-formatted WBGF, Belle Glade, Florida “93.5 The Bar” beginning in January.
Inconceivable Guest Appearance! Nationally syndicated Salem Radio Network talk star Michael Medved (right) poses for a photo outside the studio after interviewing actor Carey Elwes (left) – star of the classic film, The Princess Bride. Elwes stopped by the show’s Seattle studios to chat with Medved – a noted film critic as well as talk personality – about his new book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride (Touchstone 2014).
Staff Recognizes End of MarketWatch Radio Network. The air staff of the MarketWatch Radio Network held a farewell party last week to celebrate one last time together. Dow Jones’ exit from the AM/FM radio business at the end of the year spells the end for the business news network founded by Frank Barnako in 1999. Barnako made a special appearance at the party joining staffers (from left to right, also noting stations they served) back row: Tracy Johnke (WBZ-AM, Boston), Andrew O’Day (WINS, New York and WBZ-AM), Alisa Parenti (WBZ-AM and WBBM-AM, Chicago), Joan Doniger (WBBM-AM), Steve Potisk (KNX, Los Angeles and KYW, Philadelphia), Adrienne Mitchell (WBBM-AM, KRLD-AM, Dallas and KCBS-AM, San Francisco), Ann Cates (WCCO, Minneapolis, WBBM-AM, KCBS-AM). Front row: Barnako and WSJ Radio executive editor John Wordock.
BFoA Creates Bill Burton Memorial Fund. The recent passing of beloved radio pro Bill Burton is recognized by The Broadcasters Foundation of America as it establishes the Bill Burton Memorial Fund. Burton, known for his trademark words of encouragement, “Be Fabulous,” died last weekend from head injuries suffered after a fall at his home. He was 85. Former BFoA executive and long-time friend and colleague Carl Butrum states, “Bill’s influence inspired countless individuals in the radio business. Radio owes Bill our gratitude for his wisdom and for imparting to us his boundless positive attitude, which infected everyone who came into contact with him. We mourn his loss, but remember the great man with The Bill Burton Memorial Fund.” Donations to the Bill Burton Memorial Fund are being accepted at the Broadcasters Foundation website at www.broadcastersfoundation.org, or by calling 212-373-8250, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sony to Release ‘The Interview,’ New York Police Killings Protests/Obama Racism Remarks, Potential 2016 Presidential Candidates, Joe Cocker Dies, Christmas Holiday, ISIS Violence, and NFL Playoffs Push/Possible Coaching Changes Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/23). The decision by Sony to go ahead and release the movie “The Interview” on Christmas day after all; ongoing police killings protests in New York City and the slaying of two NYC cops over the weekend, plus President Obama’s comments on racism in America; chatter about the potential candidates for president in 2016; the death of rock icon Joe Cocker; the coming Christmas holiday; ISIS violence in Iraq; and the NFL playoff scenario and talk of potential coaching changes after the season were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Tom Leykis Holds eBay Auction; Winner Has Show Hosted from His Own Home. Saying that the Comrex equipment he uses makes doing this sort of remote a no-brainer, radio provocateur, online innovator and talk host legend Tom Leykis (left) is taking his internet radio program on the road for a live broadcast from the home of a lucky listener. The honor of having Leykis and his producer Gary Zabransky host Leykis’ New Normal-produced internet call-in show will go to the highest bidder on the eBay auction going on right now. The winner is invited to have friends over as part of the “studio audience.” Leykis tells TALKERS magazine that he began to realize how easy it is to be away from the studio with great sound quality and the ability to take callers after a chat with Comrex at a Talkers conference. He says, “I found the Comrex Access at your Talkers LA 2013 event and, ever since it arrived, we’re unchained from our studios and doing our shows from almost anywhere we want. It sends my voice at broadcast quality using simple broadband. No expensive ISDN installs, no big entourages to carry so much heavy equipment. I throw the Access into my car with its onboard mixer and some mics and go.” In fact, Leykis says the Comrex BRIC-Link (pictured here) works so well that he’s able to host his show from his ranch in northern Santa Barbara County, his house in Hollywood or anywhere, leaving his Los Angeles studio’s ISDN lines relegated to emergency back-up duty. Check out the Leykis show eBay auction here.
NRG Names Martin Digital Content Manager/Web Designer. Former seven-year Clear Channel Milwaukee director of online content Tim Martin joins NRG Media as digital content manager and corporate web designer. NRG Media chief operating officer Chuck DuCoty states that, owing to “the diversity of formats and listener appeal, this role is an important one to demonstrate NRG’s commitment to digital platform asset development on all NRG Media stations throughout Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. I have had the pleasure of working with Tim when I was market manager of Milwaukee’s WISN and WLTQ; I can attest to his many talents. With his expertise, I am confident we will develop even more digital solutions to further engage our audience and our advertisers.” Martin observes that he will be “working with some of the nation’s best broadcast talents. This is a welcome challenge, as I will be putting all our broadcast assets to work to extend to the interactive space in every single market we serve. It is going to be a tremendous experience and one that is very meaningful.” Martin – who will continue to be Milwaukee-based – previously spent six years as Clear Channel Milwaukee’s IT manager and webmaster; in addition, he was that cluster’s promotions director (1995-2001).
Hillsdale College to Acquire Radio Station. The independent liberal arts college located in southern Michigan is announcing the acquisition of a radio signal – actually a low-power FM at 101.7 – that will become the school’s student run radio station when it’s fully operational. Hillsdale College is well known to talk radio listeners as it has been referred to often on the medium and has been lauded for its mission of institutional independence and high academic standards by major hosts. The call letters are WRFH – for Radio Free Hillsdale – and, according to FCC regulations must be operational by July of next summer. Writing in the school’s paper The Collegian, Jack Butler notes that broadcaster Vince Benedetto, president/CEO of Bold Gold Media Group, helped the school with the acquisition of the station. Pennsylvania-based Benedetto says he learned of the school through radio. “On a Scranton-area station we bought in 2010, I would hear on-air people — Mark Levin and Hugh Hewitt — talk about the college, and I was impressed with what I heard.” Benedetto tipped school president Larry Arnn to the availability of the signal and helped the school prep its FCC application. Benedetto adds, “It’s generally infrequent to just get to start a brand new radio station. But now the college has the opportunity to starts its very own.” John Miller is the Dow Journalism program director and he says, “I’m confident there will be a high level of student involvement. I want it to be for radio what The Collegian is for journalism.” Benedetto, whose station group spans Pennsylvania and New York State, tells the paper he thinks this will be a great thing for the school’s students. “The college is going to be creating opportunities for students interested in broadcasting. This is in every sense a real radio station. It’s hard to learn radio in a classroom environment because it’s so specific and technical.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison adds, “It is heartening to see an educational institution like Hillsdale College step up to the plate and provide the national conversation – specifically those on the moderate to conservative side of the spectrum — with research and policy papers that are based in legitimate scholarly principles as opposed to purely partisan objectives that seek victory often at the expense of truth. Unfortunately the latter has become a trend that, in my opinion, has sullied the credibility of some of the Washington-based think tanks that have moved away from such principles in recent years as the political discussion in America has coarsened on a very disturbing level – certainly a level that has not been of service to conservative talk radio. I see Hillsdale as a bright hope for the future as it relates to our industry.”
Likely PPM Panelists Big on Radio. One of the conclusions drawn from the most recent NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study from NuVoodoo Media Services is that radio remains highly relevant among those who would be inclined to participate in the current PPM ratings system. NuVoodoo VP of research Leigh Jacobs says, “Radio remains strong, particularly among could-be ratings participants. These human periscopes who are inclined to participate in the PPM ratings are beneficial in many ways. In our data, we’ve seen that they’re more highly attuned to paying attention to advertising messages and are more likely to enjoy the contests that radio stations use as part of their promotional arsenal. It’s especially beneficial to radio, since fewer listen daily among those who predicted that they wouldn’t participate in a PPM-style methodology.” NuVoodoo’s VP of marketing Mike O’Connor adds, “Armed with this information and deeper insights beyond, we can help our marketing clients target heavy users of radio with minimal waste. And with Facebook, Google and YouTube at our disposal in 2014, it’s never been more economical to reach them.” The company says it makes the full results of the study available to clients and this update was fielded going into the fall ratings season to make sure NuVoodoo clients have the benefit of the very latest intelligence on emerging social media platforms for use in their marketing and promotion plans.”
Crackin’ Up with Joan Rivers. The death of former radio talk show host Joan Rivers (WOR, 1997-2002) continues to be a news buzz and talk topic as the tragic demise of the multi-media pop cultural icon clearly struck a nerve with the American psyche. Digging through the TALKERS magazine archives, we found these two photos taken of the brilliant comedienne during her appearance at the Talkers New York 2000 conference (“New Media Seminar III”) at the peak of her talk radio career. Pictured above is Joan Rivers addressing the conference and then relaxing and entertaining TALKERS staffers with a non-stop barrage of hilarious wisecracks during the cocktail reception. Pictured at right (l-r): then-WOR, New York PD David Bernstein (currently TALKERS GM of broadcast operations); Joan Rivers; TALKERS business manager and executive assistant to the publisher, Barbara Kurland; the late-Sharon L. Harrison; and TALKERS associate publisher Matthew B. Harrison.
SiriusXM to Simulcast “Ellen.” Starting today (9/8), an audiocast of Emmy-award winning daytime program “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” can be heard on SiriusXM‘s”Stars,” channel 109, and through the SiriusXM internet radio app. The satcaster’s president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein opines that DeGeneres hosts “the most popular nationally syndicated daytime talk show. We know our listeners, whether they are in the car, at home, or on the go, will love being able to tune into the daily show through satellite radio, and not miss a minute.” This represents the first time DeGeneres’ daytime television talker will be available to radio and TV audiences; the new season of that program begins today. In addition to the simulcast, SiriusXM will rebroadcast “Ellen” the following morning at 9:00 am ET.
NJ101.5’s Alan Kasper to Retire. After a 25-year career with WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5,” chief meteorologist Alan Kasper announces he’s retiring from the station. The station says, “For a generation, Alan has been THE weather authority for the state of New Jersey. He is a legendary forecaster — from his broadcast TV days in New York City to his 25 years with New Jersey 101.5, Alan has often stood alone in accurately forecasting some of the worst weather New Jersey has ever seen. His precise track of snowstorms, hurricanes, and other major weather events have allowed residents to properly prepare and undoubtedly saved lives.” Eric Johnson is brand manager for “New Jersey 101.5” and he says, “A generation has grown up listening to Alan Kasper to find out if they had school the next day. While other media incessantly hypes the weather, Alan’s calm demeanor and friendly presentation delivered peace of mind to New Jersey residents. His dedication to bringing this critical information to our listeners is unmatched in the industry.” Meteorologist Dan Zarrow takes over for Kasper as chief meteorologist with the goal to expand Townsquare Media’s digital weather content across online, video and social media. He says, “I’m excited for the challenge. I grew up listening to Alan and will work hard every day to provide the same level of forecasting New Jersey has come to expect from New Jersey 101.5.”
WIP-FM, Philadelphia/Eagles Radiothon Raises $290,000-plus. The money raised during last week’s 2014 Eagles Radiothon on CBS RADIO’s “SportsRadio 94WIP” will go to the Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) which serves more than 50,000 low-income children in the region with a focus on health and education programming. The three-day auction that ran from September 2 to September 4 offered Eagles fans and 94WIP listeners the opportunity to bid on unique sports and entertainment experience prizes involving their favorite Eagles players and “SportsRadio 94WIP” radio personalities. Participating shows included Angelo Cataldi & The Morning Team, Michael Barkann and Ike Reese, Anthony Gargano and Rob Ellis, and Josh Innes.
ESPN Builds Studio in Clevelander Hotel in Miami for Dan Le Batard. Miami-based sports talk personality Dan Le Batard moves into his new studios today. The facility at Miami Beach’s Clevelander Hotel will be the home of both his daily ESPN2 sports discussion program “Highly Questionable” and his eponymous ESPN Radio program. The set (pictured here) gives a different look but retains that Miami flavor. From its debut in 2011 until 2014, the show has originated from a set modeled after a 1950s Miami home kitchen. Le Batard states, “We are going to conga line from our colorful 1950s kitchen to something South Beach cooler. It’ll feel fun and colorful and like a party — like an ESPN Miami, next to a pool serving drinks.”
Round Four of August PPM Data Released. The fourth of four rounds of August 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. The survey period was July 17 through August 13. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Odds & Sods. The ESPN2 program “Colin’s Football Show,” hosted by Colin Cowherd, is sporting a new theme written and performed by comedian and recording artist Rodney Carrington. The show debuted over the weekend (Sunday 9:00 am) and it begins with the tongue-in-cheek tune that asks viewers, “Are You Ready?” for Colin’s Football Show, and the open features Cowherd and Carrington with his band, with cameos by regular guests ESPN The Magazine editor-in-chief Chad Millman and ESPN Radio host Tom Waddle.…..CBS RADIO is partnering with the Travis Manion Foundation to promote the 9/11 Heroes Run. The Travis Manion Foundation is hosting the 9/11 Heroes Run 5K race this month in eight locations around the Greater Philadelphia Region. The annual race series will unite the community to remember the sacrifices of the heroes of the September 11th attacks and the wars fought since. Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, KYW Newsradio, 98.1 WOGL, SportsRadio 94WIP and CBS Sports Radio 610 AM have joined together to send hosts to many of the race locations across the Delaware Valley communities.
Doing What Works at Radio America. Nationally syndicated talk show hosts Darrell Anderson (left) and Maureen Anderson (second from left) – hosts of the program “Doing What Works” – are pictured here at the studios of Radio America. The two paid a visit to their syndicator’s offices and posed for this shot with Rich McFadden (second from right), Radio America operations director and Doug Stephan‘s “Good Day” co-host, and Radio America COO Mike Paradiso (right).
Marilu Henner Takes Atlanta. Nationally syndicated talk show host Marilu Henner is pictured here in the studios of WCFO, Atlanta where she broadcast her Sun Broadcast Group-syndicated program last week. Pictured here with Henner is WCFO general sales manager Jennifer Green.
Cool Job Opportunities: Anchors and Editors and Producers–Oh, My! Westwood One is looking for the best digital-savvy, full-time and part-time network news staff for its Washington, DC-based network news operation. This is a full-service, 24/7 operation supporting many of the top news and talk stations in the country. Candidates will be responsible for writing, producing, and anchoring newscasts, including editing audio and assembling sound cuts. Must have network quality delivery, excellent writing skills, and editorial and news judgment. Producers must have proficiency in digital audio editing, board op skills, and ability to effectively communicate in a fast-paced environment. These positions require demonstrated professional experience anchoring, writing, and producing, preferably at the network level. Interested candidates should send work samples, including anchoring, reporting, and news writing, along with cover letter, to email@example.com.
J.D. Hayworth to Host Late Morning Show on Newsmax TV. One of the new programs on the Newsmax TV channel that is launching on both DirecTV and DISH Network is called “America’s Forum” with former U.S. Congressman and talk radio personality J.D. Hayworth. The show will air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET and begins during the network’s soft launch this summer before the hard launch this fall. Hayworth, who has hosted a regular show in his home market on news/talk KFYI, Phoenix during his talk radio career, says he’s excited about engaging and serving the expanding audience on Newsmax TV. Newsmax Media founder and CEO Chris Ruddy says, “J.D. Hayworth is a smart, informed, and passionate host who is not afraid to speak his mind, and as a result we expect him to be one of our most watched and discussed personalities. With his experience in Washington, DC, we believe he can give our viewers unique insight into how Washington works.”
Legislation Inspired by Casey Kasem Ordeal Passes Legislative Hurdle. A bill making its way through the California legislative process that would give adult children reasonable access to an ailing parent cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee hurdle on a 6-0 vote. The bill was inspired by the Casey Kasem family’s well-documented situation. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and it would protect children from being denied access to a parent by a parent’s future spouse or child. Since introducing the legislation in January, Assemblyman Gatto has been contacted by hundreds of people who have been denied access to their ailing parents, and has been working closely with several of them, including radio and television personality Kerri Kasem (pictured here during testimony earlier this week). Recently, Kasem spoke publicly for the first time since her father’s passing last week. She shared her struggle to obtain even basic visitation rights during Casey’s final hours. She also emphasized that her story is not unique to celebrities, a point underscored when she presented a stack of letters representing a small sample of the thousands of letters she has received from folks across the country with similar stories of heartache. View that video here. Kasem said, “I saw my father every single week, talked to him every day, until he lost his voice, every day on the phone, and we were cut off for no reason last July. If this bill had been in place, my dad would still be alive today.” Former radio industry pro, attorney, and district chief of staff for Assemblyman Gatto, Jason Insalaco, played an important role in crafting this bill. Insalaco has worked at numerous Southern California radio outlets – including former hot talk KLSX and news/talk KFI – during his career.
Status of WSCR, Chicago’s Dan McNeil Uncertain. From Chicago media writer Robert Feder, sports talk personality Dan McNeil has been off the air at CBS RADIO’s WSCR as he’s in contract negotiations and guest hosts have been filling in with 9:00 am to 1:00 pm co-host Matt Spiegel. Feder reports that McNeil, who’s had his share of personal issues – dealing with substance abuse and depression – makes about $300,000 and is seeking in the neighborhood of $500,000 in his new contract. Feder also reports McNeil has made no secret of the fact he’d like to be in afternoon drive, not middays. Read Feder’s entire story here.
CBS Radio Philly in Done-Deal with Didinger. Among facets of the just-signed pact with CBS Radio-owned Philadelphia sports outlet WIP-FM, Saturday’s 10:00 am – 1:00 pm “Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow Show” will be expanded to include a Sunday version. WIP operations manager Andy Bloom declares, “Ray is one of the most respected and revered authorities in Philly sports. Our simple goal was to ensure Ray spends his entire radio career playing for one team, CBS Radio Philadelphia. We think with this agreement we have accomplished that goal.” Pro Football Hall of Fame writer Didinger is “very happy” to continue his relationship with WIP. “I am delighted that I will now be able to partner with my good friend Glen Macnow on Sundays, as well as Saturday. With the level of interest in the Eagles this season, we will have plenty to talk about.” Didinger will do commentary on all-news sibling KYW, and each Friday during the football season, he will appear with (CBS Radio Philadelphia talk outlet) WPHT morning driver Chris Stigall.
British Broadcaster Graham Mack Produces Outstanding Audio Podcast Depicting His Experience at Talkers New York 2014. Internationally known, award-winning broadcaster Graham Mack attended the recent Talkers New York 2014 conference (6/20) and compiled an array of on-the-scene audio interviews with its participants into a Radio Academy podcast (28:42) that has already drawn positive attention around the world. In addition to his highly decorated special programs which have been heard on some of the most prestigious networks in the world including the BBC, Mack is the program director and morning show host on BOB-FM in Hertfordshire. He hails from Liverpool and spent his early adulthood and career in Australia. The podcast includes conversations with Michael Harrison, Sean Hannity, Brent & Meg, Tom Leykis, Joe Piscopo, and Phil Boyce. To hear it in its entirety, please click here. Stay tuned to Talkers.com for more coverage of Talkers New York 2014. Videos covering most of the conference will be posted after the July 4th weekend.
Fifty and Done For Salem’s Gratner. After spending 50 years in radio – the last 23 as general manager of Salem Communications Pittsburgh – Chuck Gratner will retire next Tuesday (7/1). Twelve-year Salem Pittsburgh general sales manager Tom Lemmon will succeed Gratner. According to Salem radio division president David Santrella, “Salem is blessed to have so many outstanding general managers taking care of business in our markets around the country – Chuck has been one of our strongest for all these years. Chuck has earned his reward for a job well done. We wish him many more years of success, only this time with a fishing rod instead of a radio tower.” Regional operations vice president Linnae Young – who oversees Pittsburgh – comments, “We have been so fortunate to have had Chuck’s wisdom and expertise all these years managing our stations in Pittsburgh. While Chuck will be sorely missed, we are pleased to have Tom ready to take on this new responsibility.” Gratner began his radio career as an on-air talent in greater Los Angeles at KNJO, Thousand Oaks. He was part owner of KCNO, Grass Valley, California; worked in Dallas at KRLD, KCBI, and KLTY; and spent time in Sacramento at KCRA and KROY.
Odds & Sods. With the departure of Tony Bruno from Greater Media’s sports talk WPEN-FM, Philadelphia (reported yesterday at TALKERS), Harry Mayes goes solo in the late morning shift with evening host Nick Kayal sitting it at least temporarily…..The man known as “Radio’s Best Friend,” Art Vuolo, will appear on news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh this weekend as a guest on Stony Richards’ Saturday evening program beginning at 6:00 pm. In addition to being responsible for chronicling much of radio’s modern history on video, Vuolo also has served as the official videographer for the Talkers New York conference for the past several years…..Bradley George is the new senior anchor/correspondent and local host for “Morning Edition” on Georgia Public Radio. He comes to GPR from Nashville Public Radio’s WPLN where he was news anchor and “Morning Edition” local host…..ABC TV’s “The View” will look very different next season as at least two of the show’s hosts – Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd – are leaving. According to TMZ, executive producer Bill Geddie is also exiting. One report indicates all but Whoopi Goldberg are out as the network is “cleaning house.”
Magnum Finds Bliss in Milwaukee-Area Quartet. In a recently announced deal, Magnum Communications is acquiring four greater Milwaukee properties from Bliss Communications, the parent company of Racine Broadcasting and West Bend Broadcasting. Stations involved are two AM talk outlets WRJN and WBKV; adult contemporary WEZY “Lite Rock 92.1″; and country WBWI. Magnum Communications president Dave Magnum points out that as a result of this acquisition, “My co-workers and I will program radio signals connecting from Milwaukee to La Crosse. When my late wife, Lynn, and I started from scratch 23 years ago, we wanted to grow across Wisconsin. I’m blessed to work with so many talented and loyal individuals, many of whom have been on board since the early-1990s.” Bliss president Sidney “Skip” Bliss remarks, “These stations have been an important part of Bliss Communications for 17 years in Racine, and 43 years in West Bend. We have enjoyed our relationship with the communities and all of our terrific employees. This sale, however, represented an opportunity for me to pass the ownership of these great radio stations on to another Wisconsin broadcasting family. The staffs of the Racine and West Bend stations have served a large number of listeners and advertisers for many years. We sincerely appreciate the dedication and commitment of this outstanding group of associates.” Bliss – which publishes The Janesville Gazette - will continue operating the stations until the FCC approves the transaction, exclusively brokered by Media Services Group Chicago office director Bob Heymann.
GOP Primary Controversies/State of the GOP Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of June 23-27. The recent controversial GOP primary races – including Thad Cochran’s victory this week – along with talk about the state of the GOP heading into mid-term elections and the 2016 presidential election tied for the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week. At #2 was the shrinking U.S. GDP. Coming in at #3 was the IRS scandal and the missing Lois Lerner emails followed by the SCOTUS scuttling President Obama’s recess appointments followed at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Journal Broadcast Group Milwaukee Announces Promotions. From Tom Langmyer, VP/GM of radio operations for Journal Broadcast Group’s Milwaukee stations – news/talk WTMJ and adult hits WLWK “94.5 The Lake” – come the following promotions: Tom Sheridan is promoted to director of sales from his GSM position. The company says in this role, Sheridan has a more clearly defined, overall responsibility and accountability for all top-line revenue at Milwaukee’s radio operations. With his promotion it has eliminated the previous dual reporting structure for interactive and national sales and streamlined the sales organization. Jason Bjorson is elevated from local sales manager to general sales manager. Bjorson will continue to oversee local sales, with additional leadership responsibilities across all other top-line revenue streams. He will oversee sales training, recruit to expand the sales organization, develop general revenue strategies, lead the company’s growing events business and expand local relationships. Katie O’Connell is promoted to executive producer, digital content and social media. This new lead position will drive the company’s content and social media strategies across all platforms. Prior to her current role at Milwaukee’s radio operations, O’Connell served with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, WTMJ-TV, and Journal Interactive. Collin Roth has been promoted to managing editor for Right Wisconsin, working with WTMJ personality Charlie Sykes and leading his content team for this growing digital/subscription-based product. Additionally, Bryan Shore and Steve Frank have been named digital sales associates. Langmyer says, “This solid new structure and excellent team will lead us in product development, cross-platform content and revenue growth. These promotions represent a new leadership structure to drive further growth at Journal’s Milwaukee Radio Operations.”
“Brent & Meg” Graduate from TalkersRadio to Launch New Terrestrial Midday Show on GCN. The husband/wife talk radio team “Brent & Meg” (legendary rock radio personality/newsman Brent Seltzer and award-winning public relations veteran Meg McDonald) have signed a deal with Genesis Communications Network (GCN) to launch a Monday-Friday midday show (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET) on Monday, July 7. This development marks the first time a program conceived and launched on TalkersRadio has made the leap from the experimental platform operated by TALKERS magazine to terrestrial radio. “We couldn’t be more delighted,” states TalkersRadio GM David Bernstein, adding, “This marks an exciting milestone for TalkersRadio and is a wonderful testimony to our initial success in carrying out our ongoing mission to be a laboratory where new concepts in talk radio can be developed. I am personally proud of Brent & Meg because I believe what they’ve got to offer midday talk radio has been – with rare exceptions – a missing element from our medium for many years. They are, simply put, sensationally fresh!” TalkersRadio officially began streaming on Talkers.com in September of 2013 and Seltzer and McDonald were among its charter performers. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (who “discovered” Brent & Meg) adds, “Brent & Meg couldn’t be in better hands than with entrepreneurial visionary Ted Anderson who has done such a fantastic job of developing GCN into a budding powerhouse syndication firm. He reminds me of the old record company and studio heads who understood how to build and develop new talent and acts from the grassroots markets up. We sure need more of that in today’s network radio scene.” Harrison goes on to describe “Brent & Meg” as “the newest thing ‘old school’ has to offer – perfect, contemporary husband/wife chat for the midday position…where yesterday meets tomorrow.” To read TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian’s fascinating in-depth account of the Brent & Meg saga posted today (6/18), please click here.
Clear Channel to Put New Audience Targeting Tool to Use for 2014 Political Buys. The new tool is called AuDiO – short for Audience Delivery Optimizer – and what the company calls “a groundbreaking, proprietary radio targeting tool developed specifically for political advertisers.” Clear Channel goes on to say, “This first-of-its-kind radio optimization tool enables local and national political campaigns across the country to precisely target key voter segments using radio — which was confirmed by recent research to be one of the most effective and efficient consumer advertising vehicles.” How does it work? The company says AuDiO matches key information about 245 million Americans who listen to Clear Channel’s 840 U.S. terrestrial radio stations to leading political databases to make actionable predictions about which desired voter segment is listening to which stations at which times. The launch of AuDiO means that Clear Channel is now uniquely able to match broadcast listener data – for any of its 840 stations, at any time of day and in any political district nationwide – to multiple third-party data sources to identify which listeners fall into any given political district and, within that district’s listening audience, which segments are present and in what numbers. CCM+E EVP for political strategy Nathan Daschle comments, “Ninety-two percent of Americans listen to radio every month — but despite radio’s incredible reach, campaigns have never had a tool like AuDiO for radio before. AuDiO takes the guesswork out of radio buying by replacing wild hunches with actionable and precise models so that campaigns know which of their desired target audiences are listening, when and to whom. This means that campaigns, political parties and other groups across America have the ability to use radio in a much smarter way to reach their target voters.”
Nielsen Releases Revised Los Angeles PPM Data. After the controversial case of one Univision Los Angeles programming staffer (who’s been fired) being involved in a PPM household, which delayed the release of May PPM data for the market from last week to this week, the ratings company releases the Los Angeles numbers and revises the April PPM data for the market as well. Those numbers can be found at TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo here. Also, see managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian’s “Takeaway” from the LA ratings here.
Reality Star Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi Podcast Debuts on PodcastOne. Add another colorful celebrity to the lineup of podcasts available through Norm Pattiz-founded PodcastOne as former “Jersey Shore” reality series cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi begins producing a weekly on-demand show for the service. Pattiz comments, “Sometimes I feel like we’re on the Starship Enterprise going where no man has gone before! Taking a star of one medium like Nicole and exposing – in every sense of the word – her on another is what makes this all fun. PodcastOne is pleased to welcome Nicole’s audience to our platform and expose her to the additional hundred million monthly listeners who currently consume PodcastOne programs.”
AdLarge, KMG and Harris Media Partner for Control Room Pro Distribution. Three firms are teaming up to sell and distribute the new Control Room Pro suite of digital production field and studio tools. AdLarge Media will lead the national advertising sales effort, while KMG Networks will spearhead radio station distribution. The two firms share a similar relationship on behalf of several radio and digital products and services. Harris Media founder Lee Harris says, “Most of the new digital and mobile programs for broadcast radio are consumer-facing. We focused on the development of cutting-edge newsroom and radio station field tools that expedite the gathering of news-related material for anchors and streamlined the field reporting process.” Krantz Media Group president and CEO Gary Krantz adds, “Control Room Pro tools already are proven winners in the news/talk marketplace, including top stations like WINS, New York; WCBS-AM, New York; and KYW-AM, Philadelphia. News/talk stations have a high overhead on field equipment and in-studio production programs. These digital products fill a clear marketplace need by increasing productivity and decreasing equipment and production library costs. Radio station affiliates will experience positive bottom line results.”
WIP-FM, Philadelphia and Personality Angelo Cataldi Sell Bobbleheads to Benefit Police Survivors Fund. In cooperation with local business Cottman Transmission & Total Auto Care and the Philly Team Store, CBS RADIO sports talker WIP-FM, Philadelphia and morning drive personality Angelo Cataldi are selling Cataldi bobble-head dolls, a portion of the proceeds from which will benefit the Philadelphia F.O.P. Lodge #5 Survivors Fund. The dolls are being sold for $20 via the station’s website. Both Cottman Transmission and the Philly Team Store are giving dolls away with major purchases. The F.O.P. Lodge #5 Survivors Fund, since its inception, has been invaluable to the members of the lodge who have experienced the most devastating tragedies. The losses incurred by the families of deceased and extraordinarily injured officers cannot be recovered but can be eased through financial support or assistance. This fund continues to be able to provide help for families due to the charitable donations of police family, friends and business partners.
Cromwell’s Bud Walters to Receive National Radio Award. At the coming NAB Radio Show in Indianapolis in September, Cromwell Group founder and president Bud Walters will receive the NAB’s “National Radio Award” during the Radio Show Luncheon on September 12. NAB EVP of radio John David states, “Bud Walters’ exemplary leadership and his enthusiasm for radio have had a positive impact on the industry. We salute Bud for his tireless devotion to serving local communities through the power of radio.” Walters founded his company in 1972. He currently owns and operates 28 radio stations (six AM, 17 FM and five HD2+ translators) in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Iraq Turmoil, Primary Results/State of the GOP, Hillary Clinton Memoir, Benghazi Suspect Prosecution, Child Immigrant Influx, IRS Scandal-Missing Lerner Emails, Soaring Food Prices, and World Cup Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/17). The violence in Iraq as a militant Muslim group vies for power in the state; the victories of Tea Party-backed candidates in the primaries and the future of the GOP; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s memoir; the plans to prosecute a suspect in the deadly Benghazi attack; U.S. immigration policies and the large numbers of child immigrants pouring across the Southwest borders; the IRS scandal and the loss of Lois Lerner’s emails; the dramatic hike in U.S. meat prices; and American interest in World Cup action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.