Limbaugh Commenting on Colbert’s Hiring: “War on the Heartland of America.” Clearly – not everyone was doing cartwheels regarding yesterday’s announcement that CBS-TV has selected Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as “Late Show” host when Letterman departs sometime next year. Colbert will gear up for the new assignment by retiring his fake conservative persona (which he has described as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot”) on Comedy Central‘s “Colbert Report” at the end of this year. Perhaps the most vociferous and vitriolic public comments concerning the late-night succession involving Colbert were made by Rush Limbaugh on Thursday’s (4/10) Premiere Networks broadcast. He claims that CBS-TV’s hiring of Colbert has, “declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservative values. Now it is just out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny, and a redefinition of what is comedy, and they’re blowing up the 11:30 format.” Limbaugh and Letterman are hardly allies, yet Limbaugh noted that, “The world is changing – people don’t want the kind of comedy that Carson gave us, or even Letterman gave us. It is the media planting a flag. There is no unity in this hire.” Furthermore, Limbaugh contends that CBS-TV has, “hired a partisan, [a] so-called comedian, to run a comedy show.”
WABC, New York’s John Batchelor to Debut Author Video Series on WABCradio.com. WABC, New York and WestwoodOne syndicated talk show host John Batchelor begins a new online video program titled “John Batchelor Author Series” (sponsored by online bookseller Entitle) in which he “takes his appreciation of literature, history, and political intrigue to a new level” via long-form interviews with today’s most intriguing authors. Batchelor comments, “I used to be an author, and I enjoy the enthusiasm of hearing in depth of a new book, well told by the person who survived the research, the writing and the publishing. It’s fun for me to learn the stories of the making of the stories.” WABC program director Craig Schwalb states, “No one does books better than John Batchelor, and the ‘Author Series’ proves that. This is a natural extension of John’s passion and we hope that his listeners in New York and across the country will enjoy it.” The program launches with an in-depth interview of Thomas Cahill the author of Heretics and Heroes. Future episodes include: Robert Klara author of FDR’s Funeral Train, Eri Hotta author of Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy and George H. Nash author of The Crusade Years 1933-1955. Fresh episodes will appear weekly on wabcradio.com.
KARN-FM, Little Rock Names PD; Seeks Afternoon Host. Little Rock news/talker KARN-FM names Adam Thomas program director for the station and the Arkansas Radio Network. Thomas takes over for longtime PD and PM drive host Dave Elswick who, along with morning host Bob Steel and news director Jack Heinritz, exited the station last week. Thomas is seeking a new afternoon drive personality for the station and says, “The afternoon show should be a compelling blend of information and entertainment. Opinion and point-of-view are important, but this program must appeal to a broad segment of the Little Rock community. Candidates must have a mastery of current events, a relentless curiosity, and the ability and desire to talk about more than politics. A willingness and ability to engage the audience outside the show via personal appearances, digital media and other channels is a must.” Send resumes and airchecks or links to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Little Rock PM Host” in the subject line. Cumulus Media is an EOE.
Former Governor, WTIC Host John Rowland Indicted on Federal Elections Violations Charges. A week after former Connecticut Governor John Rowland resigned from his afternoon drive talk show on CBS RADIO’s WTIC, Hartford, he has been indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts related to alleged illegal campaign activity. Rowland, who resigned from the governor’s office in 2004 and eventually served 10 months in prison after being charged with corruption, is this time accused of scheming to work for two Connecticut political campaigns and trying to conceal from both the public and the Federal Elections Commission that he was being paid by the campaigns.
WTJK, Janesville to Flip to News/Talk. The newly acquired Janesville, Wisconsin sports talker that Scott Thompson’s Big Radio purchased from Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Broadcasting is flipping to news/talk as “The Big AM 1380” beginning Monday, April 14. The station – an ESPN Radio outlet under Good Karma’s ownership – will focus on local content and Scott Thompson will host the morning drive show. The rest of the day will feature: Glenn Smith from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, Andrew Liebetrau & Andy Gannon from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, Tony Huml from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and Sly from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Program director Andrew Liebetrau comments, “We are incredibly excited to do more for our local listeners, partners and communities. Not only will we have a lot of great new and local content, but we will continue to offer some of the great local programs we have had for years.”
Odds & Sods. Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer is producing a weekly podcast for Sports USA Network. Sports USA president Bob Moore says, “Jake Plummer is a true superstar with a huge following in the college and pro football sports world. We are excited to add Jake’s show to our growing list of digital audio programs as we continue to produce current, fresh, and informative sports programming.” Plummer is currently an NFL game analyst on Sports USA’s “Sunday Doubleheader” package as well as a college football analyst on the Pac-12 Television Network…..Alison Cuddy exits Chicago Public Media-owned WBEZ, Chicago where she has been serving as arts & culture reporter and producer. She leaves to become program director for the Chicago Humanities Festival…..The “Sports Business Radio” show, hosted by creator Brian Berger, celebrates its 10th year on the air. It debuted on KXL, Portland and then moved to national syndication via Sports Byline USA Network.
Meet the New Boss. The New York-based staff of ABC News Radio poses for a photo with newly named ABC News president James Goldston (at center). Goldston was given a standing ovation by the ABC News Radio staff when he visited them today just hours after getting the top job at the network. Goldston, most recently senior vice president overseeing content and development, succeeds Ben Sherwood who is stepping down from the president position in a few weeks after assisting Goldston during the transition phase.
ObamaCare Criticism Top Talk Story for Week of April 7-11. The ongoing scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act was again the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. At #2 was the 2016 presidential race tied with this fall’s mid-term elections. Following at #3 was global warming and at #4 was the move to charge former IRS official Lois Lerner with contempt tied with Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation as Health and Human Services Secretary. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Clear Channel Releases Results of ‘Audio Space’ Study; Growth in New Platforms Means Audio Consumption Is ‘Additive.’ The study was a combined effort with MediaVest and Clear Channel Media + Entertainment and surveyed “thousands of audio listeners who use one or more of the following audio sources personal music collections (CDs, iTunes downloads), broadcast radio, streaming AM/FM radio, custom online playlists, satellite radio, online music videos and digital music channels on TV shows.” Among the results of the study is the conclusion that “because of the use of alternate audio devices, time spent across audio platforms continues to increase and growth in audio is predominantly additive.” The goal of the study was to determine when, why and how consumers choose different audio platforms and some of the conclusions reached are: afternoon drive (3:00 pm to 7:00 pm) generally sees the highest usage; the car remains the most popular location for audio listening throughout the day; 63% of teens listen to more than two audio platforms a day – the highest of any demographic; broadcast radio is the most popular audio platform; listeners choose broadcast radio to stay connected to “the world,” top drivers for radio usage are its accessibility, timely news, traffic, weather, engagement with radio personalities and discovering new music; personal music collections (CDs, iTunes downloads, etc.) are about control with 81% choosing the platform to control or customize their listening experience. Custom playlists are also about control and follow with 67% choosing the platform for this reason; 41% of consumers are willing to listen to ads in exchange for free online audio. Ads related to the music consumers like and optimized for the time of day are most powerful. MediaVest EVP and research director David Shiffman states, “In the audio space, most measurement focuses on a single audio platform, rather than a complete view of the landscape. Our goal in working with Clear Channel – with its extensive experience in both live and digital radio – was to generate a real-time and accurate view of the audio space, which we believe is going through an evolution similar to television. Marketers have embraced the concept of multi-screen consumer behavior, but audio media also provides a tremendous opportunity for them to connect with their target audience throughout their day.”
2014 CES: Innovate or… Reporting for TALKERS from the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas is media consultant Holland Cooke who writes that one of the hottest topics during CEA CEO Gary Shapiro’s interview with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was spectrum auction; that all of the five FCC commissioners where there and he was able to ask a question or two about AM revitalization of Ajit Pai; about some very revealing stats that show why smart broadcasters are taking advantage of posting video to YouTube (and why you should, too); and even more about the ‘connected car’ that is the focus of so much of the audio and information sector at the show. Read Holland Cooke’s report here.
Saga Portland President Pahigian Prepares To Exit. Fifteen-year Portland Radio Group president Cary Pahigian broke the news to his staff yesterday (1/8) he will soon be leaving the Maine operation. According to Pahigian, he told Saga vice president Warren Lada about a year ago that he was evaluating his next professional challenge. “I was certainly happy and fortunate to be working with the finest group of people I have ever met,” Pahigian wrote in a staff memo. “Still, the impending 15-year mark was activating an area in my brain that had been quiet for years. Warren asked me to forge ahead and see how I felt at the end of 2013. The only way to properly examine what I wanted to do and aggressively pursue that opportunity, was to focus on it 100%. It would be impossible to conduct that process and still remain at my best with the demands of this job.” Pahigian continues his duties at the operation until his successor is hired. Prior to his 15-year Portland, Maine tenure as president of the eight-station cluster, Pahigian was a 26-year-old station manager at heritage Boston outlet WBZ-AM; corporate vice president of operations for Sconnix Broadcasting; and he programmed Philadelphia’s WIP.
WABC, New York to Air Bob Grant Special. The longtime home to late talk radio pioneer Bob Grant will air a special broadcast in his honor this weekend. Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York – where Grant worked daily from 1984-1996 and again weekly from 2009-2013 – is airing the special program that “will feature notable moments from the talk show host as well as comments from broadcasters inspired by Mr. Grant. Also, included in the special are thoughts and comments from members of Mr. Grant’s immediate family.” WABC program director Craig Schwalb said, “WABC is proud to produce this special to honor the late Bob Grant, a true legend in our industry. We hope our listeners will enjoy this opportunity to remember his contribution to WABC and to the city of New York.” The show will air Saturday 1/11 at 5:00 pm and Sunday 1/12 at 4:00 pm. Grant died on December 31, 2013 after an illness at age 84.
WEEI.com Keeps Its Team Intact. All contributing writers and columnists of Boston’s WEEI.com have signed new contracts for this calendar year. Alex Speier, Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean, Christopher Price, and Jerry Spar will continue blogging, opining, and reporting breaking sports news for the site, as well as appearing regularly on Entercom-owned Boston sports outlet WEEI-FM. They join Kirk Minihane and Celtics beat writer Ben Rohrbach. Last week, “Dennis & Callahan” morning show co-host Minihane signed a long-term deal as the site’s opinion editor. “It is a privilege to work alongside such a talented and dedicated group of sports journalists,” comments site editor Rob Bradford. “There isn’t another sports radio station in the country with WEEI’s commitment to enterprise journalism. Boston sports fans have come to expect us to be first with breaking news and commentary wherever they engage with our brand.” WEEI brand manager Kevin Graham remarks, “[These guys] live and breathe Boston sports and they are respected throughout the Boston sports landscape for their journalistic integrity. In this sports-crazed market that boasts some of the most esteemed writers in the business, they stand among the best-in-breed.” WEEI.com recently won the 2013 RAIN Internet Radio award for “Best Streaming Radio Station in America.”
WTOP, Washington Touts Page View Growth. Hubbard Radio all-news WTOP, Washington, DC reports that it realized “a 30% overall increase in page views to WTOP.com, averaging more than 22 million page views and reaching more than 1.8 million unique users per month.” The organization adds that “a number of major news stories in the nation’s capital contributed to this growth, including sequestration, the government shutdown, and the Navy Yard shooting. WTOP.com also strengthened its commitment to unique local content with the launch of two new verticals – Living and Technology – and the introduction of the live blog for breaking news…WTOP’s growth can also be attributed to its strategic use of social media. Traffic to WTOP.com from Facebook and Twitter grew by 150% in 2013, making WTOP one of the top five social media players in the DC market.” WTOP director of digital media John Meyer says, “While news judgment will always be the primary factor in story selection, we have editorial meetings throughout the day, using a variety of statistical tools to determine how our homepage is performing. Armed with the most recent data on what people are searching, clicking, and sharing, we can adjust accordingly.”
Mark DePrez Named VP/GM at Farm Journal Media. Former longtime WOWO, Fort Wayne general manager and Federated Media COO Mark DePrez joins Farm Journal Media as VP/GM of the company’s radio business. In this position DePrez will oversee such shows as “AgriTalk with Mike Adams” and “American Countryside with Andrew McCrea.” The company also reports that a new commodity markets-focused show hosted by Chip Flory is being prepared to launch in the early spring. Farm Journal Broadcast SVP Brian Conrady says, “We are thrilled to have Mark join our team. Radio has quickly become an important part of Farm Journal’s integrated go-to-market media strategy, and Mark has the experience, the talent and the tenacity to further spur this growth.” DePrez comments, “It’s fascinating to see the role radio plays as part of an integrated marketing solution in agriculture. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about Farm Journal’s cross-platform content and how radio can fit. I’m excited to be part of this expanding radio business.”
Jimmie Kaska Named Sports Director at WBIZ, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The new title for Jimmie Kaska comes as he takes over the sports director role at Clear Channel’s WBIZ, Eau Claire, Wisconsin from Mike Sullivan who held the position for the past 40 years. The station notes that during Sullivan’s tenure, “he was responsible for getting games on the air involving local teams performing in over 200 venues in 30 states, one territory and two foreign countries. Of those roughly 8,000 games, only two did not get on the air. Sullivan also negotiated rights fees and made other arrangements for airing over 10,000 games involving professional and college teams in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as nationally broadcast events. WBIZ-AM was the first 24-hour sports station in Wisconsin, and one of the first 10 in the United States when the format debuted in 1992. The station format was switched in 1994-95, but then returned to the all-sports format in 1996, and has remained all-sports since then.” Kaska serves as PD for WBIZ and sister news/talk WMEQ. He states, “It’s crazy to think that the first job I had in my life when I was 17 would be the same one I’m doing today. It seems like every year I find something else to take charge of, and of all the roles I have here, this one will be the most visible and most important. It’s my goal that I continue the long tradition of being one of the best and most active sports radio groups in the country. The mentoring I’ve received from Mike Sullivan has been invaluable to both my career in broadcasting and to life. I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity.”
Advantage Systems Brings Reed Bunzel and A. Darryl Davis Aboard. Sales and marketing firm Advantage Systems Inc. announces Reed Bunzel and A. Darryl Davis join the company as revenue development managers. The company says, “Bunzel has been leading a charge for the radio industry to use digital media to grow revenue since digital first appeared, and he has joined Advantage Systems, Inc. to help stations do just that. Bunzel, current president of Bunzel Media Strategies, will be working with broadcasting groups throughout U.S. and Canada to help them with a revenue generation program designed to incorporate traditional media with new interactive solutions provided by Advantage Systems, Inc.” Bunzel comments, “What I find interesting is that RAB’s just-released data shows that radio’s digital revenue was up 3% in the previous quarter and 7% in the first half, but I saw another study today predicting 16% growth in digital advertising next year. That tells me that radio is severely underperforming in the digital era. It needs to be smart and catch up.” Regarding Davis, Advantage Systems VP for sales Frank Kulbertis states, “Darryl has a history of doing programs similar to our Advantage Plan program that included schedules and digital products for television so he was a perfect fit as a new revenue development manager for us.” The company says Davis will work with broadcast groups to grow their advertising revenue. The program includes extensive sales training, new business leads in the local market, a focused workshop to educate local business owners on traditional and new media, 12-month advertising commitments along with turn-key creative services and the ability to generate digital revenue thru inclusion of interactive solutions.
Odds & Sods. Consumer finance expert Rodney Anderson is hosting a daily, one-hour program on Clear Channel’s news/talk KFXR, Dallas airing from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm…..Hearst’s news/talk WBAL, Baltimore inks the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles for another two seasons. The O’s have been heard on WBAL for all but 15 of the team’s 60-year history in the city…..WestwoodOne has the national radio rights to the remaining NFL playoff games – including Super Bowl XLVIII – that resume this weekend. While Scott Graham hosts the pre-, post-game and halftime shows for all four games, the WestwoodOne stable of in-game announcers and analysts are lined up for the four games airing this weekend.
Chris Christie Bridge Traffic Scandal, Robert Gates Book, War on Poverty Anniversary, and Dennis Rodman North Korea Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/8). The scandal involving New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staffers allegedly closing lanes in Fort Lee New Jersey near the George Washington Bridge as a form of revenge against the town’s Democratic mayor; the new book from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in which he’s critical of Obama Administration officials and the president and vice president; the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s “war on poverty”; and former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s tumultuous return visit to North Korea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.