WGN, Chicago to Challenge WBBM’s News Dominance. From a story by Robert Channick published in the Chicago Tribune comes word of some of WGN, Chicago’s programming tweaks that are designed to capture more of the news-hungry radio users in the market and, presumably take some ears away from market radio news leader WBBM. Among the additions are the first hour of the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano show becoming “The Business Lunch,” and focusing on Chicago business stories. CBS RADIO’s WBBM airs “The Noon Business Hour” with Sherman Kaplan and Kris Kridel at the same time. Additionally, former WMAQ-TV and WFLD-TV news anchor and reporter Anna Davlantes joins the station to host “The Big Story” – a 90-second news segments that will air during the Steve Cochran morning show and be a jumping-off point for show. The same segment will air in the afternoon with WGN managing editor of radio news Judy Pielach hosting. WGN Radio president Jimmy de Castro also tells the paper the station plans to add staff to the news department in the future.
Smaldone and Gold Named Hosts of ‘America Weekend.’ Radio pros Valerie Smaldone and Leslie Gold are named new hosts for the Envision Networks-syndicated weekend talk radio program “America Weekend.” Envision’s show airs on both Saturdays and Sundays and the network says it’s “designed to be a break from the usual brokered programming and political fare of most news/talk stations,” covering “the lighter side of news and lifestyle issues facing today’s on-the-go talk listeners.” Smaldone and Gold join current “America Weekend” talent Mike Bennett, Ed Kalegi, Smith and Sabatino, and Dave Graveline. Envision VP of programming Michael Lichtstein says, “We couldn’t be more excited to have Valerie and Leslie join the team of hosts on ‘America Weekend.’ Each brings a breadth of radio experience to the show and together they set a new bar when it comes to delivering compelling and thought-provoking conversation.” Smaldone adds, “I am delighted to be working with the fabulous Leslie Gold as we host a weekly show together focusing on fascinating personalities and celebrities, trends and curiosities.” Gold says, “‘America Weekend’ presents an opportunity to talk about the stuff that intrigues, amuses and vexes all of us. Hosting the show with my real-life friend Valerie Smaldone makes it an immense pleasure for me. We pledge captivating talk by two veteran broadcasters who are also true friends. It should be much fun.”
Radio to Be on Hand at Advertising Week Conference in NYC Next Week. When Advertising Week kicks off in New York City next week, radio will be a segment of the media industry presenting during the four-day conference. One of the panel highlights will be titled, “Voices of the Original Social Media,” hosted by the RAB and moderated by RAB president and CEO Erica Farber, on Tuesday, September 30 at 11:30 am ET. This session will feature both nationally syndicated air talent and local stars relating their experiences with listeners and brand partners and how that’s being leveraged over the airwaves and on digital platforms. The panel will include: NBC Sports Radio Network’s Amani Toomer, Premiere Networks’ Bobby Bones, WQHT, New York “Hot 97” morning personality Ebro Darden, and WMIB, Miami “103.5 The Beat” midday personality Angie Martinez. iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman will take part in a panel titled, “Loss of Serendipity” on Wednesday, October 1 alongside MediaLink chairman and CEO, Michael Kassan and Google SVP global marketing Lorraine Twohill during which they will “explore the flip side of data-tailored content creation and distribution by considering the importance of serendipity.” Entercom president and CEO David Field will moderate a panel titled “Evolution or Revolution Part II” on Thursday, October 2. His panelists will include: Enterprise Group president Jim Doyle, The New York Times EVP of advertising Meredith Kopit Levien, TBWA president and CEO Troy Ruhanen, Centaur Media CEO Andria Vidler, and Shelly Palmer of Shelly Palmer Digital Living. They will talk about “disruption, real-time reinvention, retaining and growing share, and balancing today with tomorrow.”
Limbaugh Goes on the Offensive. Brandishing a new tactic to fight the StopRush campaign being waged against his Premiere Networks-syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh and official show spokesman Brian Glicklich issued a press release yesterday (9/23) with the purpose of “outing” the forces behind what Limbaugh calls a “conspiracy.” TALKERS readers are well aware of the campaign – led by Media Matters for America – to hit Limbaugh (and others) where it hurts most: in their advertising revenue. That organizations aligned with Media Matters are conducting digital campaigns to harass advertisers on Limbaugh’s program is not disputed, but yesterday’s release attempts to flesh out the tactics and the people involved in the campaign. The release says, in part, “The StopRush group claims to be made up of ordinary consumers unhappy with Rush Limbaugh’s comments. The group claims to be ‘grassroots,’ just concerned consumers who won’t shop at businesses that advertise with Rush Limbaugh. In truth, however, there are no potential customers here, just a small number of hardcore political activists founded by Angelo Carusone, EVP of Media Matters for America. It’s remarkably tiny. Only 10 Twitter users account for almost 70% of all StopRush tweets to advertisers, amplified by illicit software. In addition, almost every communication from a StopRush activist originates from outside the state of the advertiser. Thus, these activists are not and never would have been customers… their only role is to harass small businesses in an attempt to interfere with their operations, as long as they are advertising with Rush. ‘A small number of politically motivated out-of-state activists are distributing target lists indiscriminately, and annoying small businesses until they give up the advertising deals that help them grow, or risk being unable to conduct business at all. It’s not even activism… it’s blackmail,’ according to Brian Glicklich. Meanwhile, Carusone issues the following statement in response to Limbaugh’s press release, which you can read in its entirety here. “Rush Limbaugh’s show has reportedly lost millions of dollars in revenue for radio companies, thousands of advertisers big and small refuse to run ads on the program and radio stations are dropping the show. After initially insisting there were no troubles with advertisers, two years later Limbaugh’s crisis team comes out with a report attributing this massive exodus to just 10 people? The numbers just don’t add up. This is a grassroots effort that grows every day. Instead of attacking people on the internet, Limbaugh’s team would better fill their role by advising their client not to excuse rape in some situations (as he did just last week). Rush Limbaugh is bad for business — and the only thing Limbaugh has to blame for that is his own repeated conduct.” In addition to the press statement, Limbaugh published on his website the names of nine people he says are leaders in the campaign, complete with Twitter IDs and, in some cases, emails.
Margery Punnett to Leave ‘myTalk 107.1’ in Minneapolis. Announcing via the Hubbard Radio female-targeted talk outlet’s website, Margery Punnett (left) says she’ll leave her midday talk show position at KTMY, Minneapolis “myTalk 107.1” in November to join her husband (and former KTMY co-host) Ian Punnett in Phoenix. Margery Punnett – who currently co-hosts the midday show with Elizabeth Ries (right) – says she’ll move to Phoenix to join Ian who’s there studying at the graduate level at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Ketelaar Exits WOC-AM, Quad Cities. According to a story in the Quad Cities Times, WOC-AM Quad Cities morning drive host Steve Ketelaar has left the station. It’s not clear if Ketelaar was let go or if he left of his own accord. In the story, Jim O’Hara, operations manager for the iHeartMedia Quad Cities cluster, tells the paper, “He is going to pursue his voice-work career full time, which is…pretty successful already. He’s looking forward to doing it 100% of the time.” Ketelaar co-hosted the morning show with Dan Deibert who remains co-host of the morning show on WOC-AM. He’s being joined by the company’s Dan Kennedy as co-host.
Hearst Baltimore’s Cecil to Exit. Director of sales Bob Cecil has shared his decision to leave Hearst Baltimore’s two-station combo. President and general manager Cary Pahigian comments that Cecil has “contributed immeasurably” to the Baltimore tandem “for several decades,” but “after careful consideration” he will “step away and enjoy time with his family. We thank Bob for his extraordinary efforts and wish him only the best.” In a staff memo, Cecil writes, “It has been a great privilege teaming with the Ravens, Orioles, Naval Academy, and so many other terrific business partners throughout my career. I am appreciative of the support of Cary Pahigian and look forward to his – and your – great success in the years ahead.” Hearst Baltimore consists of WIYY “98 Rock” and talker WBAL. Cecil joined the stations 14 years ago; his last day there will be one week from Friday (10/3).
Salierno Named Interim GM of Star Radio Group. Longtime radio sales executive Ralph Salierno is promoted to interim general manager of the Star Radio Group based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. For the past two years, Salierno has served as director of sales for the station group. He’s also worked in the industry in Orlando, Virginia Beach, Oklahoma City and Memphis. Star Radio Group is part of The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company which was purchased at a bankruptcy auction in May of this year by Sandton Capital Partners for $30.2 million. The radio stations are: country WFLS, hip hop WVBX, classic rock WWUZ, and news/talk WNTX-AM and translator W243BS at 96.5 FM. Free Lance-Star and Star Radio Group publisher and CEO Gene Carr states, “Ralph has been a key member of the Star Radio group and has earned this internal promotion. In his new duties as interim GM, he will continue to serve as the director of sales as well. Ralph has done a great job in driving revenue growth.” At the same time, the station announces Jeff Beck is promoted to program director for WFLS and WWUZ. He’ll also have a supervisory role over WVBX and WNTX. Carr adds, “Jeff brings years of service and industry knowledge to the team. This new management team will help to position the company for further growth.”
SOCO Radio Adds LMA of Pueblo Stations. Announcing the local management agreement between his SOCO Radio and United States CPP LLC, SOCO principal Mike Knar takes control of news/talk KWRP, Pueblo, translators K230BB, Fowler, Colorado (93.9), K262BB, Boone, Colorado (100.3) and oldies KFVR-FM, Beulah, Colorado. Knar states, “These are assets I’ve coveted since I left Cumulus in 2011. We plan on driving a very hard local message in Southern Colorado. SOCO also controls AC KFEZ, Walsenburg, Colorado and hip hop KJQY, Colorado City. Knar announces his firm is seeking talent for his stations, especially broadcasters who can work on air and sell. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kissing the Cup! It’s almost hockey season and CRN Digital Talk Radio CEO Mike Horn (left) and VP of affiliate sales and marketing Jennifer Horn (right) are getting into the spirit as they kiss the Stanley Cup, currently being held by the 2014 champion Los Angeles Kings. The Horns had the opportunity to check out the NHL championship trophy at Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller’s Stanley Cup celebration.
U.S. ISIS Policy/Syria Strikes, NFL Domestic Violence Cases/ESPN Suspends Bill Simmons, Emma Watson UN Speech/Nude Pix Threat, UN Climate Change Conference, Hillary Clinton Presidential Prospects, Mid-Term Elections, Iran Nukes Negotiations, and Hannah Graham Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/24). The Obama Administration’s ISIS policy and the recent air strikes in Syria; the ongoing discussion about the various domestic violence cases involving NFL players and ESPN’s decision to suspend Bill Simmons for his rant against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell; actress Emma Watson’s speech before the UN about feminism and women’s rights and the subsequent threat by hacktivists to reveal nude pictures of her; the UN Climate Change conference and President Obama’s speech; the prospects for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run; the looming mid-term elections and speculation about majority changes in Congress; the negotiations with Iran over fighting ISIS and the country’s nuclear program; the case of missing Virginia college Hannah Graham were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Hearst Baltimore Hires Pahigian as President/GM. Former Saga Communications Portland, Maine president and general manager Cary Pahigian will succeed Ed Kiernan in the same capacity at Hearst Baltimore talker WBAL and WIYY “98 Rock.” Kiernan recently announced his retirement. According to Hearst president Jordan Wertlieb, “Having worked for some of the nation’s most honored radio stations, including most recently overseeing stations of various formats, Cary brings a wealth of experience. He is a passionate advocate for local broadcasting and understands the importance of community service and how it is the fabric of leading radio stations.” Prior to his tenure at Saga’s Portland properties, Pahigian was station manager at heritage Boston outlet WBZ-AM; operations manager and program director of Philadelphia sports station WIP-AM; vice president of operations at Sconnix Broadcasting; and vice president and general manager of Boch Broadcasting on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Chris Markowski and Jenna Laine to Co-Host New AM Show at Genesis’ Tampa and Orlando Stations. On the news/talk simulcast of WWBA, Tampa and WAMT, Orlando, Genesis Communications debuts the new “Your Wake Up Call” morning drive program co-hosted by Chris Markowski and Jenna Laine with news anchor Robert Pankau and entertainment reporter Kurt Shriner. Markowski is known for his nationally syndicated weekend program “Watchdog on Wall Street.” Laine most recently served as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Insider for Sports Talk Florida. Markowski comments, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be covering all the important news and events in one of the most important areas in the country: Tampa Bay, Orlando and the entire I-4 corridor.” Laine adds, “Whether it’s news or sports, the one constant for me as a journalist has always been ‘people.’ I love telling your stories and I care very much about issues that affect our communities.”
Kitchin Elected to Museum of Broadcast Communications Board. Radio pro and Sound Mind co-president Kraig Kitchin is elected to the board of directors of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Downtown Chicago’s MBC has housed America’s only National Radio Hall of Fame since 1992. MBC founder-president-chief executive officer Bruce DuMont comments that, “Kraig is one of the most talented and respected radio executives in America. He will bring his energy and vision to the museum, and help raise awareness of our mission nationally.” Kitchin remarks that for over 25 years, “The Museum of Broadcast Communications has done a remarkable job of recognizing great accomplishments in both radio and television. I am thrilled to join the MBC board and help chart the future of the museum and the National Radio Hall of Fame. More than ever, it is important to recognize the great work done by broadcasters behind the microphone and in front of the camera.” Sound Mind was launched in 2008 and offers management services to radio, television, and production companies. Kitchin works with radio personalities in both talk and music genres. He previously was the longtime president/chief operating officer of the Premiere Radio Networks. Kitchin is a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee that supervises the induction process; the NRHOF Class of 2014 will be announced later this week.
Radio Industry Mourns Tom Rounds. With considerable recent focus on the plight and deteriorating health of iconic personality Casey Kasem, it is an unfortunate, eerie twist of irony that the man who in 1970 – with Kasem and producer Don Bustany – launched and marketed “American Top 40 with Casey Kasem” passed away on Sunday (6/1). To state that Watermark founder Tom Rounds was a broadcasting innovator is actually an understatement. Many within the industry are still in shock regarding the death of the 77-year-old Rounds (he would have been 78 this coming Friday, 6/6) who expired in Los Angeles, reportedly from complications related to a “minor surgical procedure.” His wife – Barbara Rounds – was with her longtime husband when he passed away. By the 1980s, “American Top 40″ was heard on more than 500 U.S. radio stations. Approximately three years following ABC’s 1982 acquisition of Watermark, Rounds founded and was chief executive officer of entertainment program supplier Radio Express; by the late-1990s, Burbank (California)-based Radio Express was producing most of its own product. It presently handles syndication outside the United States for American radio programs such as “The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40″ and “American Country Countdown.” Radio Express vice president of sales Jessica d’Agostin notes, “We are deeply saddened by T.R.’s passing. We will profoundly miss his humor, his wisdom, and his kindness. He was a great man. He loved his wife, his family, and radio with all his heart. We will continue to move forward at Radio Express in his honor and as a living tribute to the example ‘T.R.’ set for excellence in all things.” Amherst College (Massachusetts) alum Rounds entered radio at the campus station in the late-1950s. Shortly thereafter in a stunt at Hawaii’s KPOI, he would set a record for staying awake on the air for 260 consecutive hours, while doing his show at a department store. By the mid-1960s, he landed in San Francisco to program top 40 KFRC. Among those commenting on Facebook regarding Rounds’ passing is Ed Mann of MannGroup Radio who states, “I’m just sick about it. Tom was my first producer at MannGroup Radio. I had the opportunity to work ideas with him for years after. He was truly one of the great guys in this business. He was my model as a businessman – such a great combination of creative and manager. We had not talked in years, but this hurts plenty. [Mann's wife] Mindy and I send our condolences to Barbara and the family.” Former Radio & Records (R&R) country editor/Clear Channel director of production Jim Duncan recounts, “When I first moved to Los Angeles from San Diego to be part of R&R, I had lunch with Tom and [R&R founder/publisher] Bob Wilson. He tried to get me to come do some production at Watermark. I chose to work at Westwood One producing shows. I saw Tom many times over the years and he kept trying to get me to work with him. Sorry I didn’t – he was somebody very special.” Veteran programmer and imaging voice Charlie Van Dyke writes, “Tom Rounds, of course, was a successful program director and part of the original Watermark organization that gave birth to ‘American Top 40.’ He was a great friend to me over the years.” Another legendary voiceover talent, Joe Cipriano, states, “I was honored to co-host with Adrienne Walker the ‘World Chart Show’ for Tom for several years.” Former KIIS “Kiss-FM”, Los Angeles general manager Wally Clark is among the many to simply remark, “Sorry to hear this news.” Sabo Media‘s Walter Sabo describes Rounds as a “great gentleman,” while Sonoma Media Group president Michael O’Shea opines that Rounds was, “a great guy. Radio, as an industry, suffered today.” Former Radio Et Cetera sales manager and ex-general manager of suburban Los Angeles adult contemporary FM trimulcast KLIT, KNJO, & KXEZ Rick Lemmo remarks that, “Tom was a true gentleman. I loved working with him in so many ways.” Ed Scarborough, who has programmed numerous stations, including Los Angeles CHR KKHR and San Antonio adult contemporary KQXT, succinctly declares that Rounds was, “a legend.” MultiBrand Media International owner/president Bill Pasha reflects that he recently made a new friend. “His name was Tom Rounds. Through business, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the wit and wisdom of the man who founded the largest syndication company in the U.S., Watermark. He was a good friend of my pals – Toby Arnold and Tom Merriman – who passed away before ‘T.R.’ I enjoyed his war stories of the biz we both love. About three weeks ago, I spent almost two hours on the phone laughing, chatting and learning from this wonderful guy who was not too busy to offer me advice on how to grow my business. Good men are never truly gone. They live on in our hearts and in the contributions they made to our industry. Tom Rounds was one of those guys.” Salem Media of Hawaii program director Phil Abbot summarizes his thoughts by declaring, “I am speechless. Thank you ‘T.R.,’ for all the help and the masterful instruction along the way.” When Norm Garr was on the air in Oxnard-Ventura-Santa Barbara (California), his station was an “AT 40″ affiliate. The station’s on-air talents were allowed to buy a copy of the year-end program. “After I left radio and moved into TV,” Garr recollects, “I wrote Tom the next year asking if I could buy a copy of the next year’s year-end show. For the longest time, he sent me a copy at no charge. What a ‘mensch.’” One of Rounds’ former employees, Cindy Jo Hinkleman, remarks, “I am in shock to receive this news about Tom Rounds passing. Working for Radio Express was one of the highlights of my life so far. He believed in me and gave me the most amazing opportunities to shine. He will stay dear to my heart. I will always remember his smile.” Offering philosophical perspective, Mark Brower writes, “I learned a very difficult lesson today on how precious life is. The world lost one of the best. Not only my boss but also a wonderful friend. He was a wonderful teacher of life, a wonderful storyteller and a wonderful person – definitely my mentor. He was very passionate and music was definitely his life. I learned a lot from Tom Rounds – I will never forget you.” His wife Barbara; a daughter Michelle; a son Tommy; a stepdaughter Debbie; and four grandchildren survive Tom Rounds. A memorial service will be held this Sunday (6/8) at 5:00 pm at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills. Memorial donations may be made to City of Hope Cancer Center.
Caine to Bloomberg. Former WestwoodOne CEO Paul Caine joins Bloomberg Media Group to serve as chief revenue officer. Caine was with WestwoodOne for not quite a year before that company’s acquisition by Cumulus Media forced him out. Prior to that, Caine spent 23 years at Time Inc. during which he rose to president and group publisher of the Style & Entertainment Group.
Cox Media’s Multi-Media Convergence in Dayton Analyzed. There are only a few instances in which media operators are producing content and selling advertising for radio, TV, newspapers and digital and Cox Media Group’s Dayton operation is one of them. Michael Depp at NetNewsCheck.com writes a multi-part piece on how WHIO-AM/FM and siblings WHIO-TV, the Dayton Daily News and its affiliated digital properties are performing three years after merging the media into one cohesive effort. From a news and information perspective, the piece begins by illustrating how news staffers produce for all four media. Check it out here.
Odds & Sods. One of Charlotte’s favorite summer traditions returns as Greater Media’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM and sister AC WLNK team with the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball club to “SkyShow Charlotte” – a fireworks spectacular – on July 4 at BB&T Ballpark. The station says WBT’s “SkyShow” continues its tradition of providing a great free street festival including a ferris wheel, interactive kids’ activities and live entertainment…..Hubbard Radio-owned WFED, Washington “Federal News Radio” launches a new weekly program titled, “Women of Washington,” a weekly interview series featuring some of Washington D.C.’s most ambitious and influential female executives. The program is hosted by Aileen Black and Gigi Schumm. WFED program director Lisa Wolfe says, “I’m very excited about this particular program, not only because Aileen and Gigi are so well informed about the federal market, but because they have a higher goal to inspire young women to reach and excel at the executive level.”…..World-renowned pastor Joel Osteen gets his own channel on SiriusXM as the satcaster announces the debut of “Joel Osteen Radio” this fall. The programming will include services from his Lakewood Church in Houston as well as content from his catalogue of past sermons and more…..The Voice of America signs a new agreement with digital call-to-listen platform AudioNow for the latter to provide VOA programming inside the United States. The new agreement expands an on-going relationship between VOA and AudioNow, which already distributes programming from VOA in 34 languages by phone.
Bergdahl Prisoner Swap Controversy, Russian Aggression-U.S. Allies Support, Texas Open Carry Demonstration, Male Unemployment Stats, and NBA-NHL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/2). Controversy over the Guantanamo prisoner swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl; Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Obama administration’s seeking $1 billion for NATO allies; the furor over the Open Carry Texas-orchestrated open carry demonstration and the NRA’s response; new statistics indicating one of every six young American males is unemployed; and the NBA and NHL playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.