Cumulus Media Reports 2016 Q4 and Full-Year Financials. The company had not been hiding the fact that the news of its revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 or the whole year would not be positive, and the results were not surprising. Cumulus Media reports its Q4 net revenue was $299.5 million – down 3% from the same period in 2015, and the full-year net revenue was $1.14 billion – a dip of 2.3% compared to all of 2015. Separating the company’s two reportable segments – the radio station group and Westwood One – for the fourth quarter of 2016 the radio station group was up 1.3% on net revenue of $209.7 million. However, Westwood One was down 12.3% on net revenue of $89.1 million. For the whole of 2016, the radio station group’s net revenue was $802.3 million, an increase of 0.8%. Westwood One’s net revenue was $336.6 million, a decrease of 8.8% from 2015. Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner comments, “We entered 2016 with a singular objective: to fix the core business problems – poor culture, poor ratings and poor operational execution – which was essential to establishing a foundation on which to build improved financial results. Throughout the year we made significant progress addressing each of these areas, most visibly in ratings growth where we’ve outperformed the industry for 15 straight months. In fact, with two back-to-back quarters of revenue share increases on the station side, a trend which continued through January, we have early evidence that, despite a tough industry environment, our foundational work is beginning to translate into improved financial performance.”
Legendary WSB-AM, Atlanta Celebrates 95 Years On Air. It was on the Ides of March in 1922 that WSB-AM began broadcasting to the citizens of North Georgia. On Wednesday, Cox Media Group celebrated the anniversary. WSB manager of program operations and community affairs Condace Pressley states, “In 1922, WSB was licensed to deliver weather reports. Today, delivery of accurate and dependable news, weather and traffic remains our calling card, but this station and its people are so much more. Service to the Atlanta community is in WSB’s DNA.” Station director of branding and programming Pete Spriggs adds, “The WSB brand of local news, weather and traffic has grown from being on AM only to now serving north Georgia on FM, mobile, and digital. It all boils down to our slogan – Depend On It!” See a cool presentation of WSB’s 95-year history here.
WVON, Chicago Adds Maze Jackson to the Matt McGill Morning Show. Local political commentator and strategist Maze Jackson is joining Midway Broadcasting Corporation’s morning program, the “Matt McGill Morning Show,” on WVON, Chicago, effective April 3. The station says this move is being made to secure WVON’s position as a contributing voice in the upcoming gubernatorial and mayoral elections, in addition to increasing the station’s overall rankings. McGill has been solo host of the morning show on WVON for the past six years – a role in which he’ll continue. Jackson joins the show after contributing for the past two years as a weekly commentator and guest host. WVON says, “Jackson has a diverse array of experience in the worlds of business, politics, and community engagement. Jackson spent over 20 years lobbying for high profile clients, creating community-based solutions and driving the discussions that shape impactful policies as former executive director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.”
TALKERS Magazine Publisher Michael Harrison Joins WPHT, Philly’s Rich Zeoli for His New Podcast. At CBS RADIO’s WPHT, Philadelphia, afternoon drive personality Rich Zeoli is launching a new podcast that features content not heard on the WPHT airwaves. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison joined Zeoli for his inaugural show. In addition to addressing such topics as the Trump Administration’s impact on news/talk radio and the influence of politics on talk radio, the two delved into “inside” radio subjects including the evolution of the talk radio format, changing media technology, and the public’s evolving media habits. Listen to it here.
Desert Broadcasters Brings Palm Springs AMs Back to Life; KGX Branded ‘Real Talk.’ The two Palm Springs signals – KPSI-AM 920 and KWXY-AM 1340 – went dark last August after longtime owners Rozene and Ric Supple decided to exit the radio business. Enter Garry Wing and Desert Broadcasters who acquired the stations and just put KPSI – now KGX “Real Talk” – and KWXY back on the air. KWXY is a soft AC. The Desert Sun reports that Wing wants to create a talk station with less political vitriol (and less “fake outrage”). Radio America personality Chad Benson’s show is featured on the station. Wing says the station will air a combination of local and national talk shows. Both stations occupy the early 1960s-era broadcast facility pictured in the photo here, taken from the Desert Sun’s video report.
iHeartMedia Unveils ‘SmartAudio’ Advertising Product at ‘SoundFront.’ At Wednesday’s client-focused “SoundFront” up front event, iHeartMedia introduced its SmartAudio digital data advertising product, now a part of the programmatic solution SoundPoint. iHeartMedia says SmartAudio goes farther in leveraging the power of SoundPoint to help advertisers evaluate, plan and buy broadcast radio, enabling them to build innovative campaigns that target key audience segments. iHeartMedia president of national sales, marketing and partnerships Tim Castelli says, “We’ve been testing SmartAudio with some of the top brands and we’re already seeing additional impact for those using it. They’re able to leverage the product’s flexibility to decide which specific ad to run based on something as simple as whether the local sports team won or lost last night’s game…Industry response to our SoundPoint platform has been so well received that we’re now unveiling SmartAudio which allows audience segmenting and dynamic creative capabilities all in one planning and buying tool.”
TALKERS News Notes. Public radio outlet WBEZ, Chicago is debuting a new podcast series called, “Written Inside: Stories About Prison Cells.” The series consists of essays by inmates at Illinois’ Stateville Correctional Center about their prison cells – shedding light on the everyday experience of incarceration. The series was the idea of award-winning, Chicago-based author and journalist Alex Kotlowitz. He began working with the inmates through Northwestern University colleague Jennifer Lackey, who invited him to speak to a class she taught at the correctional center. Kotlowitz asked the 15 male inmates facing long sentences to complete a writing exercise describing their cells. He recognized the potential each story possessed to reveal the realities of life in prison…..“Motley Fool Money” host Chris Hill (left) is pictured here with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin (right) recording a segment for Hill’s program at SXSW in Austin, Texas earlier this week. Hill says, “We talked about the scene in Austin, what the major entertainment companies are doing to lure audience, Apple’s foray into original programming, VR in movies and a lot more.”
Trump Travel Ban Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 13-17. The second travel ban order by President Donald Trump and its block issued by a Hawaii judge was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Trump Administration budget cuts. Coming in at #3 was the interest rate hike by the Fed, followed by the GOP health care plan 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2017. The Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame announces its class of inductees for 2017. They include: Johnny Dowd/Jaybeau Jones from “JB 105,” Providence; French-language broadcaster and current WNRI partner Roger Laliberte; WHJJ and WPRO personality Myrna Lamb; current WPRO-AM program director Tony Mascaro; former RAB SVP and Rhode Island radio manager Dick Rakovan; and former WICE personality Frank Kingston Smith. Also the Shepard Award – created to recognize the founders of radio in the Ocean State by John and Robert Shepard, owners of the Shepard Department Stores, and to honor present-day contributors to the industry through leadership, dedication, achievement, innovation and spirit – will go to Mowry Lowe –a pioneering New England newscaster, gifted announcer and premier radio executive. The Station of the Year Award will be presented to iHeartMedia Providence to commemorate a successful multi-station food drive to feed the hungry in Rhode Island. The Legacy Station of the Year award recognizes top 40 WICE-AM. A reunion with some of the station’s legendary Hall of Fame DJs, staff and listeners is planned.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Appears on WJR, Detroit’s Paul W. Smith Show. This morning’s WJR, Detroit live broadcast of the Paul W. Smith St. Patrick’s Day show was not the first appearance on the station by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. He’s been a guest on the show before. Pai (left) is pictured here with Smith (right) on stage at The Cube Theatre inside the Max M. Fisher Music Center.
PodcastOne Executive Chairman Norm Pattiz Guests on Harrison Podcast. The executive chairman of PodcastOne and noted industry pioneer, Norm Pattiz joins TALKERS founder Michael Harrison for an in-depth conversation about the general state of radio, podcasting and audio media on this week’s installment of the award-winning series, “Up Close and Far Out.” The compelling dialogue was recorded this past Friday, inspired by the Thursday release (3/9) of the annual Edison Research/Triton Digital 2017 Infinite Dial Study. Pattiz sums up his impression of the study as follows, “I was very encouraged relative to the audio medium as a whole by the information that came from the study. There’s good news in it for almost everybody that’s in the audio space.” Pattiz and Harrison cover a lot of ground touching upon advertising trends, the evolution of audience measurement metrics, in-car listening habits and much more in this conversation that is a must-listen for radio and audio media professionals. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Imaging, voiceover and production firm Benztown announces it has brought Katrina Woolverton, J.D., LL.M, aboard to serve in the newly created position of general counsel…..On Monday (3/20), WBBM-FM, Chicago “B96” is hosting Warner Bros. Records recording artist Bebe Rexha as its guest to host a cooking demonstration at the brand new CBS RADIO Chicago Culinary Kitchen. Rexha will show off her culinary skills while being interviewed by “B96” morning show hosts J Niice, Showbiz Shelly and Producer Gabe. The segment will take place in front of a live studio audience made up of about 20 station contest winners who also get tickets to Rexha’s concert that evening at the Metro theater.
Art Bell and Michael Savage/Westwood One Agree to Settle Defamation Suit. Back in December, Art Bell and his wife Aryn Ruiz Bell, filed suit against talk host Michael Savage and Westwood One for defamation after Savage said the following on his nationally syndicated program: “I generally avoid gun questions. I know this from the first day in radio. I learned you never do certain topics where you can destroy your show. Third rail… You say UFOs, you wind up in the Philippines with a 10-year-old hooker and you are off the radio after a number of years. You can’t do UFOs. That’s an in joke, by the way, for people who even understand the business. There are other topics you can’t do…” Now comes word from Bell’s attorneys that the two sides have agreed to a settlement, saying they are “currently in the process of memorializing the terms of the agreement and should be in a position to dismiss this matter with prejudice within thirty (30) days. This settlement will resolve this matter in its entirety.” We’ll never know the terms of the settlement, but if all goes as planned in the next 30 days, the matter should be resolved.
Variety Piece Spurs Industry Chatter about iHeartMedia’s Future. The recent Variety story by Gene Maddaus has renewed media industry speculation about the health of debt-laden iHeartMedia – or more accurately – speculation about not if but when the company enters bankruptcy reorganization. As Maddaus points in his story, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman has been working to transform the company into a digital-era media force as the same time he’s been trying to refinance some of its $20.5 billion in debt. iHeartMedia has $8.3 billion in debt coming due in 2019 and, as Maddaus writes, “no realistic way to pay it off.” Industry icon Irving Azoff sits on the iHeartMedia board and – though he’s not officially speaking for the company – says something has to give in the near future, telling Maddaus, “There will be a deal of some kind, at some point, that is the best that can be achieved under the circumstances. You’re correct that a day of reckoning appears to be coming. That’s no secret.” Read the Variety story here.
Legendary Detroit Sports Figure Eli Zaret to Host Feature for WJR, Detroit. Sports broadcaster and author Eli Zaret begins hosting a daily sports feature airing on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR, Detroit during the Guy Gordon show weekdays at 4:36 pm. The new program is called “After Further Review.” Zaret comments, “I’m excited about the opportunity to play a role at one of America’s legendary radio stations that features a cast of hall-of-fame broadcasters. Before starting in television at WDIV in 1980, I loved writing radio sports commentaries. Now, over 40 years later, to be able to do them at WJR alongside my longtime friend and colleague Guy Gordon is a very cool thing. I feel like I’m going back to my roots in radio.” Zaret is known for his coverage of the Detroit Pistons as a sideline reporter. He started in 1974 at WABX-FM. Detroit. He became the lead sports anchor for NBC affiliate WDIV-TV in the 1980s and served a similar role at WABC-TV in New York. He’s also served as sports director for rock outlets WCSX-FM and WRIF-FM, as well as WJBK-TV.
Trump’s Obama Wiretapping Allegations, Trump Rally Clashes, Trump-Russia Allegations, Immigration/Deportation Policies, Concerns Over North Korea’s Missile Program, ‘Logan’ Film Opens, SNAP IPO, and NBA/NHL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The Trump Administration’s allegation that the Obama Administration ordered a wiretapping of its campaign and the call for an investigation; clashes between pro-Trump forces and protesters in Berkeley, St. Paul, and Nashville; the allegations of Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; questions about the Trump Administration’s immigration and deportation policies; North Korea launches more test rockets as concerns over its nuclear missile program deepen; the opening of the latest X-Men film “Logan”; the initial public offering for SNAP, the company that developed Snapchat; and NBA and NHL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Cooke: Are We Really THAT Angry? Media consultant Holland Cooke writes today about the media tempest that is the Trump Administration. He says that he sends memos to the talent he coaches saying, “Donald Trump is the best thing that ever happened to talk radio. There are spontaneous statements at Executive Order photo ops, Alternative Facts, SNL, botched calls with friendly foreign leaders, Ivanka Inc., the Russia flap. Twitter! Wiretapping? Expect a-story-a-day, and assume NO topic burnout at this time. As ‘the Trump channel,’ we can enjoy tune-in from giddy supporters AND appalled or scoffing resisters.” Read more about Cooke’s take on the impact of the new administration here.
PPM Analysis: Classic Rock. Today, managing editor Mike Kinosian takes look at the performances of classic rock-formatted stations based on data (6+) from Nielsen Audio’s January 2017 PPM survey. Two classic rock outlets – iHeartMedia’s WRFX, Charlotte and Cumulus Media’s KCFX, Kansas City – ranked #1 in their respective markets in the January PPM survey, but classic rock ranks well with 14 other signals landing in the top five in their markets. For a complete analysis comparing performances from Holiday to January, from January 2016 to January 2017, and much more, click here.
iHeartRadio Music Awards Televised from the Forum in Los Angeles Last Night. The 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards were televised via TBS, TNT and truTV last night (3/5). Ryan Seacrest hosted the “fan-fueled” music awards show that saw Drake win seven awards, including Hip Hop Artist of the Year, R&B Song of the Year, Hip Hop Album of the Year, Hip Hop Song of the Year, Best Collaboration, Most Thumbed Up Artist of the Year and Most Thumbed Up Song of the Year. The Chainsmokers followed Drake’s lead in wins with five awards including Best New Artist, Best New Pop Artist, Dance Album of the Year, Dance Artist of the Year and Dance Song of the Year. Pictured above backstage at the awards are (from l-r): actor Ansel Elgort, model Karrueche Tran, Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers, singer Halsey, and Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Oxnard, California-based Lazer Broadcasting announces that Joshua Mednick is named the company’s chief operating officer. Lazer president and CEO Alfredo Plascencia states, “With Joshua’s immeasurable expertise with 30 years in radio broadcasting and an extensive knowledge of the Hispanic market for 16 years, we are confident that he is the right fit to lead our operations. We are very excited to have Joshua at Lazer Broadcasting and looking forward to his innovative ideas.” Prior to joining Lazer Broadcasting, Mednick served as EVP for Casa Media Partners and has held senior leadership positions for radio broadcasting companies across the United States…..In the Appleton/Oshkosh, Wisconsin market, Cumulus Media names Chuck Lakefield the host of the morning show on classic hits WVBO. Lakefield moves from middays to mornings after current WVBO morning ghost Dan “Skip” Willis announced his impending retirement from the business after a 45-year career. Lakefield takes over on March 20…..Press Communications’ WWZY, Long Branch, New Jersey re-brands as “107.1 the Boss” with a gold-based mélange of “classic rock of the ‘70s, ’80s and more,” named with a tip of the hat to native son Bruce Springsteen.
The Band Perry Launches Pop Career in Atlanta. Grammy-winning country trio The Band Perry is pictured here with Cumulus Media’s SVP of content & programming Mike McVay at Terminal West in Atlanta where it kicked off its series of nine pop-up shows to officially launch the band’s pop career. The group recently released “Stay in the Dark,” the first single off of its forthcoming pop album, My Bad Imagination, to be released later this year. Pictured above are (from l-r): Sharon Kilgo, Cumulus Media VP/Music & Label Relations John Kilgo, Reid Perry, McVay, Kimberly Perry and Neil Perry.
WJR, Detroit Brings Motor City Broadcast Pro Guy Gordon Aboard for New Talk Show. Longtime market television journalist Guy Gordon will debut a new talk show on Cumulus Media’s WJR, Detroit from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm beginning January 3. Cumulus notes that Gordon has been a fixture on Detroit television news for more than 30 years and was recognized with two Emmy Awards for Best Anchor and six Emmy Awards for Best Writing, Reporting, and Documentary. Cumulus Detroit VP/market manager Tom O’Brien states, “We are thrilled to have a media professional of Guy’s caliber join the WJR team and to kick off 2017 with this vibrant new program. Guy has covered many of the biggest stories affecting Metro Detroit and its residents over the past three decades and has experienced the triumphs and challenges of our great city from a truly unique perspective and vantage point. WJR listeners will be captivated by what is sure to be a lively and provocative two hours with Guy and his guests each weekday afternoon.” Gordon’s show replaces “The Savage Nation” with Michael Savage.
WTMJ, Milwaukee Announces New Year Lineup. With the New Year come changes at E.W. Scripps’ news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee. With the retirement from radio of longtime WTMJ personality Charlie Sykes, the station moves midday personality Jeff Wagner to the 8:30 am to 12:00 noon daypart. Hosting the “WTMJ Today” show from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on an interim basis will be WTMJ alumnus John Jagler, who is now serving as a Representative for Wisconsin’s 37th State Assembly District. Previously, Jagler co-hosted “Wisconsin’s Morning News” with Gene Mueller until 2010. Jagler will work on air with WTMJ’s Erik Bilstad.
‘Brock & Salk’ Show to Air on Alpha Media’s KXTG-AM, Portland. The KIRO-AM, Seattle-based sports talk show “Brock & Salk” – featuring Brock Huard and Mike Salk – is branching out to another Northwest market as the show begins a run on Alpha Media’s Portland sports talker KXTG-AM “750/102.9 The Game,” effective Monday, January 2. The show will air from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and lead into KXTG’s “The Bald-Faced Truth with John Canzano.” Dave Pridemore, who manages KIRO-AM “710 ESPN” for owner Bonneville International, comments, “We are excited to expand our Seattle Sports Radio Network into the greater Portland area.”
Cumulus Pays Bonuses to Execs John Abbot and Richard Denning. Two of Cumulus Media’s executives have received one-time bonuses, according to a filing with the SEC. The Cumulus board of directors approved one-time, discretionary bonuses for EVP, treasurer and CFO John Abbot ($421875) and SVP and secretary and general counsel Richard Denning ($165,000). The filing notes that the bonuses are for “exceptional efforts and contributions made by those executive officers during 2016, both individually and as members of the management leadership team, in the initial phase of the company’s operational turnaround plan and ongoing operational and financial restructuring.”
Nielsen Audio Releases Round Two of December 2016 PPM Data. The second of four rounds of December 2016 PPM ratings 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 December 2016 survey period covered November 3-30. You can find the complete 6+ ratings numbers from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS/RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Twelve Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
‘Dogma Debate’ Launches on PodcastOne. The popular podcast produced by author and media figure David Smalley is joining the offerings at PodcastOne. “Dogma Debate” is described by Smalley as “fast-paced with a liberal slant…featuring discussion and debate on topics like atheism, science, politics and civil rights” and “priding itself on respectful debates, the show will make you laugh, cry and, most importantly, think, as you dive into taboo territory with Smalley and his guests each week.” Smalley comments, “For years, I’ve been aware of the quality and growth Norm Pattiz delivers, so I’m very excited about the future possibilities ‘Dogma Debate’ can have with PodcastOne.”
‘The Union Edge’ Talk Show Partners with the League of Women Voters. The nationally syndicated labor-oriented radio talk show “The Union Edge” announces a new partnership with the League of Women Voters that will mean League leaders will participating in regular radio segments to discuss voting rights, public policy issues and advocacy. Program host Charles Showalter says, “We are excited to partner with the League of Women Voters for their strong commitment to voter engagement, voter protection and education. Union members are Democrats, Republicans and Independents; all should have the unimpeded chance to vote their conscience. As a non-partisan organization, the League always brings a fresh perspective on the critical issues facing working people across the country.”
Talk Personality Rob Carson Building Digital Platform. Since recently exiting Cumulus Media’s KCMO, Kansas City, radio personality Rob Carson has been building his own digital platform for his various projects based out of his new home-based broadcast studio. He tells TALKERS that in addition to his digital content, he’s doing talk radio fill-in work (he’ll be on WTMJ, Milwaukee and WLS-AM, Chicago next week). “I now have a fully functional broadcast studio in my home. Since leaving KCMO a month ago, I was able to crowd-fund a new studio, complete with a Comrex Bric II. I have built a podcast and am working on a one-stop website for my podcasts, syndicated comedy, social media and dozens of comedy/lifestyle/cooking videos. As things grow, I’ve already started to talk to food processors and distributors about food products of my design to sell in stores and over the air.” Check out some of his cooking videos here.
Odds & Sods. January’s East-West Shrine Game – the nation’s longest-running college all-star football game – is airing on more than 100 stations via SB Nation Radio. Program director and COO Craig Larson states, “It’s a great honor to air the East-West Shrine game on SB Nation Radio. I have long supported the amazing work of Shriners Hospitals. This is a wonderful opportunity to spotlight many outstanding student-athletes and a tremendous organization.”…..One of the busiest talk radio hosts in America is at it again. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway will host that show, his regular morning show on WMT, Cedar Rapids as well as subbing in morning drive on iHeartMedia sister station WFLF, Orlando today (12/21) through Friday…..The GCN nationally syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs show is added to the program schedule at D.J. Broadcasting’s WKDE, Altavista, Virginia…..Sports media personalities Woody Paige and Jay Mariotti are launching a daily, 30-minute podcast titled, “Unmuted: The Daily Sports Podcast.” Paige and Mariotti are well known for their work on ESPN’s “Around The Horn” program.
Trump Transition, Obama Drilling Ban, Berlin Terror Attack, Russian Diplomat Assassination Aftermath, U.S. Embassy in Israel Move, Pulse Victims’ Families Sue Social Media, and NFL Pro Bowl Players Announced Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/20). The transition of the Trump Administration and President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees; President Obama issues order banning drilling in Arctic and Atlantic Oceans; the search for the person responsible for the deadly truck attack in Berlin; the assassination of Russian diplomat Sergey Lavrov in Ankara and its effect on international relations; controversy over the Trump plan to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; the planned suit against Facebook, Twitter and Google by families of the victims of The Pulse nightclub massacre; and the announcement of the NFL’s 2016 Pro Bowl players were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Beck Ordered to Identify Two Confidential Sources. In a ruling Tuesday (8/9), U.S. district court judge Patti Saris determined Glenn Beck must divulge the names of two sources cited for comments responsible for the Premiere Networks host to be sued for defamation and slander by a student falsely accused in early reports of involvement in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The suit against Beck was filed by Abdulrahman Alharbi, a Saudi Arabian student who Beck claims was the “money man” behind those bombings. He called Alharbi a terrorist – although then-secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said publicly that Alharbi had been questioned about the bombings and he was cleared. Judge Saris categorized testimony about the sources’ information by Beck, producer Joe Weasel, and former The Blaze executive Joel Cheatwood “vague and often contradictory.” She further noted that documents supplied to the court did not validate the story Beck’s people say they were told. On his radio show yesterday (Wednesday, 8/10), Beck emphasized protecting the identities of sources is a longtime First Amendment tradition. The sources, he maintains, are at risk of being killed by “our government or our politicians or political institutions.” Beck, however, was victorious on the issue of applying Massachusetts law – not Texas law – to the case. For that reason, punitive damages will not be awarded. Saris dismissed a claim about another Beck comment that the judge determined applied to the bombers – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
WPRT Slots “Jared & The GM” in PM Drive. The weekday 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm pairing by Cromwell Group Nashville sports outlet WPRT “ESPN 102.5 The Game” of Jared Stillman and former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese (“Jared & The GM”) starts next Monday (8/15). Stillman – who will be transitioning from 9:00 am – 12:00 noon – comments, “We have taken great strides to give the city of Nashville the best sports product and have had a lot of fun doing it. We have an unbelievable team and I am absolutely thrilled to be working with Floyd Reese, who is an amazing [football] general manager and a great host – but most importantly – an even better person.” Reese – who moves over from being a “Sports Night” co-host – remarks, “I am really looking forward to our show. Jared was born and raised in Nashville and has been following Nashville sports his whole life. He is extremely passionate about sports and talk radio. As a sidelight, it’ll be a tremendous look at two generations: the baby-boomers, the finest generation ever produced, as well as millennials, who produced Pokémon Go.” Reese is obviously a baby-boomer, while Stillman is a millennial. In Nielsen Audio‘s July 2016 PPM sweep, “The Game” ranks #21 (1.0, 6+), while cross-town format competitor – Cumulus Media‘s WGFX “104.5 The Zone” – is #12 (3.7, 6+); Midwest Communications adult contemporary WJXA “Mix 92.9” is on top with an 8.2 (6+).
Kellogg Transfers to Cumulus Fort Walton Beach as OM. Inbound from Columbia, Missouri where he was operations manager for Cumulus Media Columbia-Jefferson City the past 12 years, Chris Kellogg relocates to Fort Walton Beach for similar duties at the company’s five-station Florida cluster. Cumulus Media regional vice president Pete De Simone states, “The addition of Chris to our team will afford us the additional focus we need to continue to grow our ratings and revenue. We are excited to have the collective firepower of this dynamic programming team at work for our brands, listeners, and advertisers.” Kellogg comments, “Pete has created a terrific atmosphere to foster radio excellence. I appreciate his confidence in me and I am excited to collaborate with the programming team.” The Cumulus Media Fort Walton Beach cluster consists of talk WFTW; WKSM “99 Rock”; adult contemporary WNCV “Coast 93.3”; country WYZB “Nash FM”; and CHR WZNS “Z-96.” In addition to his OM duties, Kellogg will program WNCV and WFTW, as well as co-host mornings (with Lisa Captain) on WNCV. He succeeds Hayden Green, who continues programming “Z-96” as he has done the past 16 years and is the station’s afternoon drive talent; Green has been with the cluster the past 23 years.
Neuhoff Names Shamus VP/Programming & Content. Seven-year Neuhoff Communications Lafayette, Indiana operations manager Mike Shamus (“Shamus”) is appointed to the newly created position of corporate vice president of programming & content. Neuhoff Communications chief executive officer Beth Neuhoff comments, “‘Shamus’ is a tremendous talent – a proven manager and leader with a great vision for growing and improving the Neuhoff product lineup. We are confident he will take ‘Media Made Locally’ to a whole new level.” Chief operating officer Mike Hulvey remarks, “We knew we had a rare opportunity to capitalize on Shamus’ vision for connecting with our audiences in meaningful and engaging ways. With our recent expansion, ‘Shamus’ is the guy to motivate and inspire our content and programming teams to create the best local media.” According to “Shamus,” The Neuhoff stations “are truly connected to the communities we serve. Knowing I can enhance that local audience relationship will truly solidify our position as the most important source of information and entertainment in the region.” Neuhoff owns 23 properties in five markets: Bloomington, Danville, Decatur, and Springfield (all Illinois) and Lafayette (Indiana). In addition to his operations manager duties, “Shamus” does morning drive (“Shamus & Annie”) on Neuhoff Lafayette’s WKOA “Lafayette’s Country Leader K-105.”
Odds & Sods. Former Greater Media-owned WMGC, Detroit sports talk host Sean Baligian will co-host Detroit Lions’ pre-game and post-game shows this football season on cross-town Cumulus Media talker WJR. Baligian will be teamed with WJR sports director Steve Courtney. The two see their first action together tonight (Thursday, 8/11) in the initial pre-season game as the Lions play the Pittsburgh Steelers ….. Theater columnist of The New York Post Michael Reidel joins Salem New York talker WNYM “970 The Answer” to host a Saturday 9:00 am – 10:00 am lifestyle show, “On The Town with Michael Riedel.” Vice president and general manager Jerry Crowley comments, “We are thrilled to have Michael on our team. We have a strong desire to support Broadway as the center point of the New York economy and Michael epitomizes both New York City and Broadway. He is going to add a unique quality to our station that is distinctly New York.” ….. McAllen talker KURV shifts Radio America‘s “The Dana Show” to 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. “She communicates the perfect mix of personality, entertainment, and uncompromising values for a new generation of talk listeners,” notes program director Sergio Sanchez.
Bob & Sheri Note Milestone Anniversary. Syndicated from Greater Media-owned flagship WLNK “107.9 The Link,” Charlotte – “Bob & Sheri” traveled to Hudson, New York to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first affiliate, iHeartMedia hot AC WCTW “98.5 The Cat.” Left to right in front of the WCTW prize wheel are Sheri Lynch, WCTW’s Tina Chambers, “The Cat” operations manager Bill Williams, and Bob Lacey. “Bob & Sheri” now have more than 50 affiliates. Their show airs weekdays 5:00 am – 10:00 am on “The Cat.”
Matchmaker Titus Signs With KMG Networks. Plans are in place through KMG Networks’ Krantz Media Group to roll out a radio show next year featuring matchmaker, relationship/dating expert, and author Matt Titus. KMG Networks founder and chief executive officer Gary Krantz says, “The minute I saw Matt in action, we knew immediately that he is the guy to step up and take the job that has been open in radio for years – that of the ultimate national relationship expert for today’s high tech, mobile listeners, appealing to both men and women. We are excited to launch Matt on radio, streaming, and podcasting through our new talent division and watch him soar.” At first, Titus will be available as a guest to stations on a market-exclusive basis through KMG. Among the stations on which he has already appeared are the morning shows of iHeartMedia Detroit CHR WKQI “Channel 95-5; co-owned classic rock WBGG “Big 105.9,” Miami; and Lotus Communications-owned KLPX “Tucson’s Real Classic Rock.” Titus’ television credits include Lifetime‘s 2009 reality show “Matched in Manhattan” and NBC-TV’s “The Match Off.” In addition, he has written “Why Hasn’t He Called?” and “Why Hasn’t He Proposed?” Earlier this year, KMG Talent, in association with Sungate Partners, launched “Always in Fashion” with Mark Weber.
Burns Fumes Over Nielsen’s Pending Policies. In a letter he sent yesterday (Wednesday, 8/10) to the FCC, the Nielsen Company, and the Federal Trade Commission, 3 Daughters Media chief executive officer Gary Burns addressed several issues including his opposition to the way radio stations are counted in specific markets and total line reporting. Nielsen has told subscribers total line reporting will be available only to qualified subscribers “in good standing.” Burns – who owns and operates eight stations in Virginia – writes, “I have strongly disagreed with the Commission’s policy of outsourcing its responsibility for defining radio markets to two commercial enterprises, Nielsen Ratings and BIA/Kelsey. Under a new Nielsen policy, only clients of Nielsen will be able to dictate how many stations an entity can actually own. Subscribers already dictate what counties are home to the metro. If this proposed new Nielsen rule stands, it seems that the Commission will be required to find a new method of determining how many stations are home to a metro. I respectfully request that the Commission weigh in on this policy and [ask] that Nielsen delay implementation of their new policy in order to insure that station counts are accurate, consistent, and to avoid unintended consequences of this new policy.”
Howard Stern Renews with SiriusXM in Landmark 12-Year Audio/Video Deal. The wait is over – Howard Stern and SiriusXM are announcing the two sides have agreed to an extension to keep Stern’s live program on the satellite radio service for another five years. But the new deal also includes an agreement that will allow SiriusXM to use Stern’s extensive audio and video library – drawn from performances, specials, and shows spanning his more-than-30-year broadcasting career – for the next dozen years. The details of the video plans will be announced at a future date. This will be SiriusXM’s first venture into the video realm. Under the new deal, Stern’s show will continue to be broadcast live exclusively from 7:00 am to 11:00 am ET, with replays throughout the day, and on demand online and through the SiriusXM app. Additionally, Stern will continue to produce his Howard 101 channel, which includes current and classic episodes of the Howard Stern show as well as original special programming throughout the day. Stern is currently working a three-day week and the press release does not indicate any changes there so we’ll assume that remains the same. Also, the financial details are not being announced. Stern says, “As a broadcaster, it does not get better than working at SiriusXM and I’m truly excited for the future with this great company. I happen to think that its best days are ahead…I am living a dream here on satellite radio and Jim Meyer is my life partner and the baby we are about to have is our new streaming video app. The joy we are going to bring you in the very near future will make you feel like Christmas is every day. Ho, Ho, Howard…out.” SiriusXM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein comments, “Howard is better than ever. Howard is a one-of-a-kind interviewer, who always delivers a provocative, engaging and headline-grabbing show. We look forward to providing fans even more and deeper ways to experience Howard, and his world-class talent and insights.” Noting that the deal has been worked on for months, Stern agent Don Buchwald adds, “Jim, Scott, and I have been discussing this arrangement for some time. Obviously, the terms and conditions of a deal of this nature required a lot of give and take, as well as creative thinking on everyone’s part, and I am grateful to them both for the hard work they invested to make this deal a reality. Howard and I are excited to enter into this cutting-edge and truly unique broadcasting agreement with SiriusXM that I believe will further the legacy of Howard Stern.”
Art Bell Tells TALKERS He Doesn’t Want to Be Off the Air. Legendary late night talk host Art Bell abruptly quit his most recent return to a regular program on Friday (12/11), stating that he’s been the victim of attempts on his life that make it impossible for him to do the program. The sudden end to “Midnight in the Desert,” which was steadily picking up affiliate stations, caused some in the business to think, “Oh no, here we go again.” But Bell tells TALKERS magazine he wants to be on the radio. Citing three incidents on October 21, November 23 and December 8, Bell says his wife has said, “Enough.” Bell says, “If this jerk is caught I will be back, if not I will wait for some time to pass without incident and then do some non-scheduled shows. I would like my fellow radio people to know this is not what I want.”
Kirby Wilbur to Host Late Morning Show on KVI, Seattle. Last month, Sinclair-owned KVI-Seattle announced that market conservative talk pro Kirby Wilbur would return to the air and KVI in the New Year. Now, the station announces Wilbur will host the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot, effective January 4. Wilbur will be joined for the first hour by current morning drive host John Carlson, then host the next two hours solo. The station is dropping Glenn Beck’s Premiere-syndicated show to make room for Wilbur. KVI program director Rick Van Cise states, “It’s clear our listeners want more local conservative conversation on Seattle radio. And who better to have back-to-back than two of the original Northwest conservative voices who made KVI great.” Wilbur has been off the radio for the past six years. Most recently he’s been the Washington director for Americans for Prosperity heading up the Washington, DC-based National Journalism Center. Wilbur comments, “I’m glad to be back with a new knowledge of the workings of the other Washington as we address local and national issues affecting all of us here.”
WOWO, Fort Wayne Switches FM Frequencies. This is a bit of a downgrade as far as market coverage is concerned since the move of news/talk WOWO, Fort Wayne’s FM simulcast is from class A FM WFWI to 75-watt translator W298BJ at 107.5 FM. The heritage station has been heard on WFWI’s 92.3 frequency since Federated Media signed it on in March of 2012. Program director Ryan Reker says, “It’s just a different place to listen to us. The change from 92.3 FM to 107.5 FM means our listeners will need to update their radios to get the same news, weather and talk coverage they listen to now.” WOWO-AM is heard very well throughout northeastern Indiana on its 50,000-watt 1190 kHz signal. No plans have been announced for WFWI-FM’s new format.
Talk Host Kate Delaney Talking Pete Rose Across the Country. Nationally syndicated general issues show host Kate Delaney is guesting on scores of radio shows today (12/15) because of her sports expertise and her knowledge of the Pete Rose decision that came down yesterday from the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office. The commissioner is continuing the ban on Rose working in baseball because of his cover-up of his gambling on baseball while manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Prior to her “America Tonight” program, Delaney spent a good part of her career in the sports media world covering 15 Super Bowls, 10 Final Fours, 10 U.S. Opens and numerous other sporting events. She also served as sports director of KRLD, Dallas and did a stretch at sports talk WFAN, New York. In addition to her regular show Delaney currently does a weekend shift on the NBC Sports Radio Network.
Odds & Sods. San Francisco all-newser KCBS-AM is being honored with a special finalist citation by the 2016 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards for reporter Doug Sovern’s “Unholy Water,” a series of investigative reports that exposed the San Francisco Archdiocese’s installation of an illegal plumbing system at St. Mary’s Cathedral that poured water on homeless people at night to keep them from sleeping in the cathedral doorways, in the middle of the worst drought in California history. The CBS RADIO-owned station will be recognized at a ceremony hosted by veteran newsman Tom Brokaw at Columbia’s Low Library on January19, 2016…..Former WFED, Washington afternoon drive personality Francis Rose is handling a lot of fill-in work this week and next. Rose is sitting in for Larry O’Connor on WMAL-AM/FM, Washington’s “Drive at Five” all this week, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday next week. Rose is also in for Westwood One’s Jim Bohannon tonight and that company’s John Batchelor on Wednesday and Friday of this week…..The 27th annual Holiday Magic Radiothon on Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle to benefit Treehouse raised more than $512,000. Treehouse is a nonprofit organization that addresses the essential education and enrichment needs of kids in foster care…..In advance of tonight’s GOP primary debate, Salem Radio Network talk hosts Michael Medved (left) and Dennis Prager (right) are seen at right broadcasting from the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Salem Radio Network is partnering with CNN to provide the audio to radio stations across the country. All five SRN daytime syndicated personalities are broadcasting from Las Vegas. Additionally, SRN is presenting both pre- and post-debate programs co-hosted by Hugh Hewitt and Mike Gallagher. Hewitt is also serving as one of the media panelists on the debate…..Premiere Networks announces it is broadcasting four college bowl games. Available to sports stations nationwide, Premiere will distribute the live play-by-play for the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl, Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, all of which are produced by RedVoice Productions LLC…..Cumulus Media announces that the 2015 Mitch Albom S.A.Y. Detroit Radiothon raised $1,002,748 during last Thursday’s event. Albom is afternoon drive host on the company’s news/talk WJR, Detroit. This was the fourth year of the charity broadcast and included special guests Hugh Jackman, Paul Stanley, Billy Bob Thornton, Jane Pauley, JK Simmons, Craig Ferguson, Alice Cooper, Dr. Phil, Tim Allen, Howard Schultz, Dave Barry, John Pizzarelli, Mayor Mike Duggan, Bruce Cornblatt, Kevin Eubanks, Charles Woodson, Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, Stan Van Gundy, Brad Ausmus, Dan Gilbert, and Bernie Smilovitz. Pictured here is Mitch Albom (at center) on the remote set during the radiothon.
2016 Presidential Race/Tonight’s GOP Debate, Government Shutdown Threat, Paris Climate Summit Agreement, Battle Against IS/Islamic Anti-Terror Alliance, Refugee/Immigration Issues, Looming Freddie Gray Verdict, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The activities of the candidates for president in 2016 and the build-up to tonight’s GOP primary debate in Las Vegas; the temporary spending bill and the threat of a government shutdown; the agreement that came out of the Paris Climate Summit and the larger topic of global warming; the battle against Islamic State and the news of a Saudi-led anti-terror coalition; the status of Syrian refugees and the issue of immigration policy in the United States; the expected verdict in the first phase of the Freddie Gray trials in Baltimore; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Paris Attacks Aftermath and Brussels Tensions Top Weekend News/Talk Stories. The aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris, the question of how to deal with Syrian refugees and specific threats to Brussels, Belgium were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend. The Paris aftermath and the Syrian refugee question ended last week as the top stories, landing atop the weekly Talkers TenTM chart, and they continued to be top points of discussion for news/talk outlets that featured live and local programs or carried live national shows over the weekend.
Cumulus Expands Bill Hess’ Role in DC to Operations Manager. Programming pro Bill Hess – currently serving as program director for news/talk WMAL-AM/FM, Washington and Cumulus Media corporate PD/talk – is adding operations manager duties for the Washington. DC cluster. Hess’ 38-year radio career has provided him with experience across numerous radio formats. In addition to his news/talk and sports radio programming experience, he’s also programmed ACs WSNE, Providence; WHYN-FM, Springfield, MA; and WASH, Washington and classic rock WBIG, Washington. Cumulus SVP, content and programming Mike McVay says, “Bill is an exceptional programmer. The growth that WMAL has experienced under his direction is nothing short of astounding. He has excelled as a corporate PD and will continue in that role. Bill is deserving of this recognition.” Hess says of his new duties, “On the heels of our team’s success at WMAL, I’m thrilled to be working with Louie Diaz on the rebirth of Washington’s legendary ‘Mix 107.3.’ Thanks to Gary Pizzati, Mike McVay, Jake McCann and Beth Cohen for this opportunity.”
Bill Spadea Replaces Jim Gearhart on New Jersey 101.5 AM Drive Show. Back in September, WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” morning drive personality Jim Gearhart suffered a severe concussion at his home while on vacation. Recovery from the injury has been difficult, putting Gearhart on an extended leave of absence. Now, Townsquare Media announces that Gearhart will not be able to return to his duties with the station and that Bill Spadea is assuming the role of host of the morning show. Gearhart had been with the station for the past 25 years and is a member of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Spadea has been Gearhart’s chief fill-in since 2014 and voices the station’s daily feature “Bill Spadea’s New Jersey.” Spadea says, “I’ve always looked up to Jim Gearhart as a legend in New Jersey media. His shoes are too large for me to ever fill completely, but I am honored and humbled and will try my best to live up to his legacy of unequaled radio and service to the people of New Jersey.”
Detroit Lions Deny Trying to Silence WXYT-FM’s Mike Valenti. Usually when a radio station ceases to be a pro sports team’s flagship, it’s because of money – either the rights got too expensive or the station was outbid. But CBS RADIO Detroit market manager Debbie Kenyon says in a statement that Lions management wanted to pressure the station into firing talk host Mike Valenti for his staunch criticism of the team’s performance. Kenyon issued the following statement, “CBS RADIO and the Detroit Lions are parting ways. ‘97.1 The Ticket’ has served as the flagship station for the Lions for more than a decade. CBS RADIO says it has been negotiating with the Lions a long time. It is sad to say goodbye, but in the end it came down to the integrity of CBS — the refusal to be censored in talking about the team and making honest assessments on the air about this team.” Crain’s Detroit Business reports the team says that isn’t true. It quotes Elizabeth Parkinson, Lions’ SVP of marketing and partnerships, saying the mandate to fire Valenti in order to get a renewal with the club is “categorically a lie” and that Cumulus simply offered a better deal. But in the Crain’s piece, Valenti’s manager, Mort Meisner, said the team made Valenti’s firing part of the conditions for renewing with the team and that team officials were regularly calling Kenyon to complain about Valenti’s criticism of the team’s performance and its management. Read it here.
Odds & Sods. Conservative talk pro Steve Malzberg – seen nightly on Newsmax TV – is sitting in for Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett on his morning drive show, “Bill Bennett’s Morning In America” this Friday (11/27)…..The NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers will remain with iHeartMedia in the Steel City as the team and the company come to terms to keep games airing on rock WDVE and sports talk WBGG-AM/W292DH-FM. The renewed deal extends through the 2018 season and contains elements of promotional support for the Steelers via iHeartMedia’s six Pittsburgh stations.
Legendary WCCO, Minneapolis Personality Charlie Boone Dies at 88. As one half of the morning radio team “Boone and Erickson,” Charlie Boone was a fixture on Twin Cities radio for some 40 years, literally owning the daypart during the halcyon days of AM radio from the 1960s through the 1990s. He died on Sunday (11/22) at the age of 88. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports he and Roger Erickson worked together for 37 years before Erickson’s retirement in 1998. Boone continued to host a solo Saturday morning show from that point until 2010. Boone arrived at WCCO from his previous gig in Fargo in 1959. He and fellow air staffer Erickson hit it off personally and management put them together on the radio in 1961.
Bill Payne Dies at 76. Oklahoma broadcaster Bill Payne passed away in Tulsa on Friday 11/20 at the age of 76. Payne was the founder of the Oklahoma Academy of Radio. Payne was a pioneer in the field of FM broadcasting putting KWHP-FM, Edmond, Oklahoma on the air in 1962. His Payne Radio Group operates 13 stations across eastern Oklahoma. The company continues to be led by Payne’s son Will Payne.
Changes Coming to the Herman Cain Show in January. TALKERS sources hear there are some changes coming to the WSB-AM, Atlanta-based Herman Cain show with the New Year. Cain will remain with Cox Media Group’s WSB hosting the late morning show but Westwood One will no longer serve as affiliate sales and ad sales rep for the national syndication of the show. TALKERS hears WYM Media will serve as affiliate sales rep and there will be a new ad sales rep, but that deal has not been inked yet.
Cumulus Media’s WJR, Detroit to Serve as Lions Flagship in 2016. Detroit Lions play-by-play has been heard on CBS RADIO’s sports talk WXYT-FM for the past 12 seasons, but starting next year, the games will be heard on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR. The Detroit Free Press is reporting the story and says many of the details are not known at this time. Dan Miller and Jim Brandstatter are expected to remain in the booth going into next season.
New Talk Outlet to Debut in Bloomington-Normal and Champaign, Illinois Markets. The classic hits format will disappear from Smash Hit Media’s WWHP, Farmer City, Illinois on Monday and a news/talk outlet will spring up in its place. Former WRPW, Bloomington “Cities 92.7” morning drive personality Ian Bayne will serve as morning host on the new “Newstalk 98.3.” WWHP’s primary signal covers the area directly between the centers of the Bloomington-Normal and Champaign markets.
Art Bell and KABC, Los Angeles Collaborate for Thanksgiving Special. Los Angeles news/talker KABC and paranormal talk legend Art Bell are presenting “An Art Bell Out-Of-This-World Thanksgiving Special” on Thursday, November 26 from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. This 12-hour special features programs hand-picked by Bell, who says, “We are thrilled to be back on the great 790 KABC, where we had great success. My loyal fans will love that I’m personally hand picking the best 12 hours of out-of-this-world radio.” Bell’s nightly program, “Midnight in the Desert with Art Bell” (syndicated by his own Dark Matter Radio), is airing on AM/FM outlets in addition to its internet home base.
Odds & Sods. The Grammy Award-winning band Train will perform at the official opening of CBS RADIO’s new New York performance space on Tuesday (11/24). The company announces the opening of the Adorama Live Theatre in Hudson Square in Manhattan, saying it will “serve as a showcase for artists, newsmakers, top athletes and other special guests.” It will play host to events from its six New York market radio stations, including sports WFAN and all-newsers WCBS-AM and WINS. The company says that in the coming weeks the theatre will present performances by Southside Johnny and Shaggy, as well as live interviews with Chris Martin from Coldplay and Charles Osgood, host of “CBS Sunday Morning” and the syndicated radio feature “The Osgood Files.” Today’s announcement marks the launch of CBS RADIO’s 11th performance space, joining outlets in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C. and Detroit, among others…..Cumulus Media’s “SuperTalk 99.7 WTN” in Nashville is presenting its annual “From Hunger to Hope Radiothon” on Monday, November 23 to benefit the Nashville Rescue Mission. The station will share stories and invite listeners to make donations to the Nashville Rescue Mission. WTN says that through the years its listeners have raised more than $750,000 for cause.
TALKERS Magazine Presents the 2015 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk. Yesterday(11/19), the editors of TALKERS magazine present the fourth annual Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America. This list ranks sports talk hosts, duos or ensembles from #1 to #100, based upon a set of criteria that includes a combination of hard and soft factors. The genre of sports talk radio has evolved greatly and grown exponentially over the past 15 years to go from being a fringe format to an important sub-genre of spoken-word radio programming. With this in mind, the editors of TALKERS debuted the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk in 2012 to acknowledge the hard-working air personalities on sports talk radio. The results of this list are, admittedly, subjective. Being true to the realities of the media business, ratings and revenue are two of the major factors – some would say they are the only factors worth considering – but the editors also took into account other qualities that help create a list that is reflective of the industry’s diversity and total flavor and still give credit where credit is due. Those qualities include: courage, effort, impact, recognition, service, talent and uniqueness. The other concrete qualification for inclusion is hosts must be working – that is, have a regularly scheduled professional show on the air at a minimum of one terrestrial or satellite radio station – at the time of publication. See the complete 2015 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk here!
New Fantasy Sports Platform Provides Radio with Turnkey Method of Tapping into Booming DFS Industry. Tampa, Florida-based FantasyNXS is providing a custom-designed way for radio stations, networks, and personalities to generate revenue from the booming fantasy sports industry. FantasyNXS is the first online mall for daily fantasy sports (“DFS”). According to company president and CEO, David B. Hirsch, “Our platform enables radio stations, networks and personalities to get into the DFS business at no cost and provides them with a new and engaging way to monetize their audience.” Hirsch adds, “When a broadcast entity joins FantasyNXS as a partner, we create a customized hub or ‘storefront’ for them that features their branding, content and contests. It also has its own, easy-to-remember URL on our site, which facilitates off-line promotion and advertising.” What distinguishes FantasyNXS from the current big dogs in the fantasy sports business – DraftKings and FanDuel? Hirsch tells TALKERS that FantasyNXS provides a different business model, more game formats and free-to-enter promotional contests. He states, “Our business model is completely different. Think of us as the first online shopping mall for daily fantasy sports. Our platform enables third parties to get into the DFS business for themselves. We build a customized hub or storefront for our partners on our website. We then create contests for them designed to appeal to their target audience. These contests appear in their hub and in the general game lobby for all FantasyNXS members to play. Our partners promote their contests by driving prospects to their hub. We administer the contests and take care of all compliance and back-office operations. We then split the net proceeds we earn from each contest with our partners.” Hirsch explains, “We also offer more game formats than anyone in the business, including Salary Cap, No Cap and Top-X. We also offer all three of these formats in our proprietary ‘Beat the Pro’ setting, which is ideally suited for radio celebrities. In ‘Beat the Pro,’ all of the contest’s entrants compete head-to-head, but collectively against the celebrity show host. Everyone who beats the celebrity splits a portion of the prize pool. ‘Beat the Pro’ offers a fantastic way for radio personalities to personally engage their audiences.” How do participating broadcasters make money? According to Hirsch, “FantasyNXS works off of a revenue split. Our partners earn a portion of the net proceeds we earn from the contests they promote. Also, our partners are credited as the referring affiliate for all FantasyNXS members who sign-up through their hub. This means recurring revenue every time one of these members enters any cash-entry contest in FantasyNXS. Our turn-key system can put a station into the DFS business with no cost.” Hirsch advises, “We can put radio entities into the DFS business, but they will have to actively promote their contests and drive prospects to their hub. The more they promote, the more money they’ll make.” Broadcasters licensed to states that forbid DFS or have network listeners banned from playing due to their local state laws can become involved in another, non-monetary version of the FantasyNXS platform that specializes in “social gaming.” Has the recent negative news about some states’ stances on fantasy sports impacted the millions of people who regularly play fantasy sports? “Of course,” states Hirsch. “In particular, the recent cease and desist letter presented to FanDuel and DraftKings by the New York State Attorney General has left a lot of fantasy sports fans on the sideline. In the coming months, you’re going to see more of this type of activity as our society comes to grips with the daily fantasy sports phenomenon. We ultimately believe that DFS will continue to thrive, but in a regulated environment.” Broadcasters interested in learning more about FantasyNXS can email Brad Fain at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for more information.
Syrian Refugee Debate Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of November 16-20. The political debate over U.S. policy toward Syrian refugees was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. At #2 was the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris. Coming in at #3 was the battle against ISIS and following at #4 was the investigation of the bombing of the Russian airliner over the Sinai Desert. 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.
Jesse Ventura Joins Michael Harrison for New Episode of ‘Up Close and Far Out.’ In this week’s installment of the PodcastOne international hit, “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” posted today (11/17), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison is joined by former Minnesota governor and prolific talk media personality Jesse Ventura for a conversation described by Harrison as, “One of the up-closest and farthest-out episodes of this show ever.” Ventura currently hosts a weekly program on Ora TV titled, “Off the Grid with Jesse Ventura,” (www.ora.tv) in which he serves up an unfiltered dose of his opinions and commentaries on the issues of the day delivered in his trademark tell-it-like-it-is “wrestling rant” style. Ora TV is the trailblazing video platform launched several years ago by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim with Larry King as an internet platform upon which the legendary King could continue his post-CNN hosting career. Harrison – an admitted professional wrestling fan – and Ventura talk about the old days of the entertainment-sport when the future movie star and governor was making his mark as a colorful “bad guy” in the ring and then as the first “heel” color commentator (prior to Ventura, all ring commentators were biased toward the fan favorites – known as “faces.”) Ventura broke new ground as an announcer who openly rooted for the bad guys – know in the profession as “heels.” The conversation moves on to some heavy, controversial and provocative subject matter. Ventura discusses how his high-profile, anti-defamation/unjust enrichment lawsuit against the late Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame (in which the court ruled in his favor) has led to him to presently being blackballed by the mainstream media. Ventura talks about his critical views on U.S. foreign policy, the George W. Bush Administration, hypocrisy, and several conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 and the war on terror. He talks about his show, “Off the Grid,” and how the title is reflective of his current lifestyle in which he lives part of the year in Mexico, untethered to paved roads, government provided utilities and, to a large extent, the internet. He discusses his turning to atheism and pacifism…and leaves a tantalizing hint that he just might become involved in the forthcoming race for the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party – which has shown interest in him as a possible candidate. To hear the conversation in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column of every page of Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
State of Radio Audience Measurement Systems to Be Scrutinized at Talkers New York 2015. One of the highlights of the forthcoming Talkers New York 2015 that is sparking a tremendous amount of interest is the high-powered panel, “The State of Radio Ratings.” Moderated by Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel superstar Sean Hannity, the scheduled speakers (in alphabetical order) include: Phil Boyce, SVP Salem Media; Erica Farber, president/CEO RAB; Steve Goldstein, CEO Amplifi Media; Tom Langmyer, VP/GM E.W. Scripps; Jon Miller, VP audience insights Nielsen Audio; and Greg Moceri, CEO Moceri Media. The session will be introduced by Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel host Brian Kilmeade and sponsored by Salem Media. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “Lots of folks are talking about this panel – so much is brewing in the rapidly changing world of radio audience measurement – whether it is Nielsen Audio making moves to unify over-the-air and online listening or the emergence of interesting new inventions such as the Voltair system and the evolution of PPM…this event will be loaded with provocative questions, answers and takeaways.” The 18th annual installment of longest-running and most important national talk media industry convention takes place on Friday, June 12 at the historic India House in Manhattan’s financial district. Although sold out, the event still has several sponsorship opportunities still available. For information call 413-565-5413. To see the latest updated agenda, please click here.
Jeremy Sinon Named Corporate Digital Director for Hubbard Broadcasting. This is a promotion to the corporate level for Jeremy Sinon who has been serving as the digital director for Hubbard Radio’s Twin Cities operations. He will continue in that role in addition to his new post as corporate digital director. The company says that in this position Sinon will work closely with Hubbard EVP/chief financial officer Dave Bestler and president/COO Drew Horowitz to “oversee day-to-day corporate digital initiatives as well as the strategy for Hubbard Radio’s long-term digital goals.” Speaking about his new position, Sinon says, “It’s really an honor to be given this opportunity to help lead the digital efforts for a company that I care so much about. When I started at Hubbard in 2006 I was one of the first digitally focused hires the company ever made. It amazes me every day when I look around and see how much we’ve grown since. I’m excited about the future. We have really big things in store for us.” Prior to the last nine years with Hubbard Radio, Sinon was a digital director for the iHeartMedia radio group in Minneapolis and worked at the digital agency Omnera.
Howard Stern Show at Center of IRS-Privacy Issue. In a case that some might say could only happen on SiriusXM’s Howard Stern show, an IRS staffer has allegedly caused some headaches for the agency that could result in a lawsuit. Here’s the story: an IRS employee was on the phone with a woman who had called with a question about her tax situation. Unbeknownst to her, the staffer was also on hold waiting to get onto the Howard Stern show as “Jimmy from Long Island.” At some point, the call between the taxpayer and “Jimmy” was put on the show but the staffer didn’t realize it. Stern let the call air for a few minutes before trying to alert “Jimmy” that his call was on the program. After the segment was over, the female taxpayer began receiving texts and emails from people telling her that her personal information was broadcast on the Howard Stern show. She is now threatening a lawsuit – against the IRS. Remember, the FCC doesn’t regulate satellite radio in the same way it does AM/FM radio and it appears Stern did nothing wrong. For its part, the IRS has released a statement that it’s aware of the situation and puts taxpayer privacy very high on its list of priorities and promises it is investigating the matter.
Odds & Sods. The former longtime radio voice of Michigan Wolverines football, Frank Beckman, tells his WJR, Detroit audience that his 9:00 am to 12:00 noon talk show will continue as he and owner Cumulus Media have agreed to a three-year extension to his current contract…..SiriusXM is broadcasting this weekend’s college lacrosse action. The satcaster says it will present the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Semifinals and National Championship game live from Lincoln Financial Field in Philly on Saturday and Monday…..CBS RADIO all-news KNX, Los Angeles “1070 NEWSRADIO” continues its “KNX On Your Corner” series that takes in-depth looks at Southern California communities in Downey on June 12. The daylong live remote broadcast will emanate from popular local meeting place Porto’s Bakery & Cafe.
Stephanopoulos Clinton Donations Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of May 18-22. The issue of ABC TV’s George Stephanopoulos making donations to the Clinton Family Foundation without disclosing it to the network or the public was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. At #2 this week was the 2016 presidential prospects tied with Iraq policy questions. Coming in at #3 was the Hillary Clinton private emails matter followed by ISIS’ taking of Ramadi and Palmyra 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
WAKR, Akron’s Chuck Collins Dies After Battle with Cancer. The Northeast Ohio radio pro was just 62 years old and had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013. Chuck Collins was most recently operations manager and a talk host for Rubber City Radio’s WAKR, Akron. As part of his OM duties he also was in charge of rock WONE-FM and country WQMX.
A Visit from Richie Aprile. Pictured here are CBS Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb (left) and actor David Proval (right) in the CBS Sports Radio studios. Proval – well known to “The Sopranos” fans as Richie Aprile – stopped by the show to talk about his work on the HBO series, his experience in “The Shawshank Redemption” and his current role in the play, “Queen For a Day,” at the Theatre at St. Clement’s in New York City running through July 26.
The 40th Annual Gracie Awards. Arriving at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday (5/19) was the Alliance for Women in Media Board and AWM Foundation Board. Pictured here (from l-r) are: Josie Thomas, EVP & chief diversity officer at CBS Corporation; Karla Ballard, SVP at Participant Media (and Gracies co-chair); Michelle Duke, vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation; Christine McLaughlin, broadcast lawyer at Sciarrino & Shubert , PLLC; Christine Travaglini, president of Christal Radio/KRG Partnerships; Kristen Welch, SVP, Global Content Operations at Discovery Communications, Inc. (and AWM Chair); Kay Olin, consultant at Olin & Associates (and past AWM Chair); Valerie Blackburn, VKB Media Consulting, (Gracies co-chair and past AWM Chair); Jill Luckett, senior vice president of Program Network Policy, National Cable & Telecommunications Association; Sandy Girard, VP, Brand Management & Development, SiriusXM; and Heather Cohen, EVP at The Weiss Agency.
Six Tips for Success in Syndication. The syndication game in the radio business has gotten so much more competitive over the years that today one must have a well-thought out and almost flawlessly executable plan in order to successfully bring a radio show to a national audience. That warning doesn’t mean it can’t be done – it’s just gonna be real hard. But Global Media Services principal Tony Garcia – a veteran of the radio and syndication businesses – writes in TALKERS magazine that a quick rundown of his six-point checklist can let you know whether or not you have a reasonable shot. Point #1 is Know Your Product. Sound easy? Read more here.
Dave Ramsey Does Dallas. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar and New York Times best-selling author, Dave Ramsey is pictured here on stage at the Verizon Theater in Dallas where he hosted his “Smart Conference.” This day-long event took place on Saturday, March 28 and included Ramsey, along with Chris Hogan, John O’Leary, Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. Les Parrott, Dr. Meg Meeker and Michael Jr. providing attendees with essential information on how to win with money, strengthen their marriages, build parenting skills and excel in their careers. Ramsey also hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” in Dallas on Friday, March 27 during which Ramsey and Hogan spoke about how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 400 employees. Ramsey partnered with CBS RADIO-owned local affiliate KRLD-AM “Newsradio 1080” to promote the appearances.
Mike Gallagher to Play Roles in Ferguson: The Play. Nationally syndicated talk radio pro Mike Gallagher – whose program is heard around the nation via Salem Radio Network – will take part in a controversial stage production in Los Angeles based on the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. Regular TALKERS magazine readers are aware that Gallagher is, in addition to his radio work, an accomplished stage actor. He appeared on Broadway in the musical Memphis and who took home a TONY Award as one of the investors in the 2014 Broadway revival of Pippin. In this production, based on the Grand Jury witness testimony, Gallagher will play three roles: a lawyer, a forensic toxicologist and a medical examiner. At the end of the production, the theatre audience will be asked to judge whether or not Darren Wilson should have been indicted. The play will be presented at the Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles for four nights – April 26-29. The producers of the Phelim McAleer-written and Nick DeGruccio-directed play hope to bring it to the stage in Ferguson itself.
Johnny B’s ‘Talk Unhinged’ Debuts on Westwood One Today. Stating that the program is debuting on 100 affiliate stations across the country, Westwood One announces the new Jonathon Brandmeier show is called “Talk Unhinged,” and the company says it’s “an entertaining, offbeat look at news, pop culture, and sports–from the big trending topics to the stories about to fall through the cracks–combined with celebrity interviews and free-wheeling audience interaction.” It airs live from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm ET and launches on such Cumulus Media stations as: home base WLS-AM Chicago; KABC-AM, Los Angeles; KLIF-AM Dallas; WWBA-AM, Tampa; KKAT-AM, Salt Lake City; WPRV-AM, Providence; and KTBL-AM, Albuquerque; among others.
Cumulus Media Recruits Tommy Page for New Executive Role. Former Pandora, Billboard and Warner Bros. Records exec Tommy Page is now with Cumulus Media as senior vice president of brand partnerships where he’ll focus live events for that division of the company. In this position Page will report directly to president and CEO Lew Dickey, who comments, “As an artist and marketer, Tommy is a natural choice to create meaningful connections between artists, brands and their passionate fans through immersive and measurable marketing experiences. Tommy has a deep understanding of the live experience and helping advertisers bring their brands to life with unique partnerships.”
Vea Promoted at KSL in Salt Lake City. The new title for Tanya Vea at Bonneville International’s KSL radio and TV is vice president and general manager of KSL-TV and KSL Newsradio. She has served as vice president station manager at KSL since April 2014, overseeing news, programming, marketing, operations and engineering. According to a story in the Deseret News, she now assumes responsibility for all operating departments, including sales. Bonneville president Darrell Brown comments, “Tanya will be an outstanding general manager. She has been a key contributor to many of the cross-platform initiatives, including the groundbreaking DMC combined newsroom for KSL and the Deseret News. Her expanded role as general manager of KSL will now allow her to have a greater impact on the entire organization.”
Ex-WJR Leader Fezzey Passes. Former WJR, Detroit president and general manager Mike Fezzey died of a heart attack on March 27 while on a business trip in Naples, Florida. The 58-year-old native Detroiter had been president/general manager of heritage talker WJR from 1994 to 2011, but for the past four years, was president of Huntington Bank‘s southeastern Michigan region. According to a WJR statement, “Mike Fezzey was a community leader; active in many charities and nonprofit activities in Michigan; and he was a leader in his church. Under [his] leadership, [Cumulus Media-owned] WJR maintained [its] position as Detroit’s preeminent radio station, and it became one of America’s leading news-talk stations.” Cross-town CBS Radio market manager Debbie Kenyon comments, “Mike was a leader in our industry for years. He was an inspiration to many in the way he transcended his career. He will be sorely missed by all of us.” Huntington Bank released a statement, which describes Fezzey as “an extraordinary member of the Huntington family who was highly committed to the Detroit area and making it a growing, vibrant community. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike’s family.” A former president of the Detroit Advertising Association, Fezzey received a Peabody Award for broadcasting excellence from the University of Georgia and the Neal Shine Award for philanthropy in journalism. In July 1996, Feezey selected Paul W. Smith to succeed the late J.P. McCarthy as WJR’s morning drive talent. On Saturday (3/28), Smith voiced a WJR commentary regarding Fezzey. Prior to being elevated to president/general manager at WJR, Fezzey was an account executive and sales manager there. His wife, Suzy, and their three adult children survive Fezzey.
Brent & Meg Receive the Coveted ‘Poopy’ Award. Nationally syndicated husband/wife duo Brent & Meg (Brent Seltzer and Meg McDonald) were recognized by the Los Angeles City Council for their role in the “Studio City Beautification” program instituted by the Studio City Resident’s Association and the City of Los Angeles to keep the streets free of unwanted dog droppings. They are pictured at a special dinner honoring their community-mindedness at Carla’s Café, surrounding LA City Councilmember Paul Kerkorian of the second district (which includes major studios such as Universal and CBS). Meg and Brent are animal lovers and make sure that plastic mitt bags are available to “help dog owners keep our streets clean…not our movies…just our streets.” The Brent & Meg Show now airs Monday through Friday 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET on the Genesis Communications Network (GCN) as well as on its anchor affiliate WWPG 1450, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Brent & Meg will be serving as Official Masters of Ceremony at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2015 on Friday, June 12. To register, call 413-565-5413 before it, again, sells out.
Cumulus Detroit Elevates Wheeler to OM. WJR, Detroit program director Mike Wheeler is boosted to the newly-created position of operations manager for the heritage talker, as well as Cumulus Media‘s other three Detroit properties – hot AC WDVD “Today’s Best Hits,” country WDRQ Nash-FM,” and country WDRQ-HD2 “Nash Icon.” According to Cumulus senior vice president of corporate programming Mike McVay, “Mike Wheeler brings a wealth of experience to the table. His history in Detroit, abilities at coaching talent, and his knowledge of programming give us another strong programming presence within Cumulus. He is deserving of this promotion.” Detroit native Wheeler remarks that it is “a thrill to work with these great radio stations” and he is “grateful for the opportunity to drive the ‘fun bus’ in Detroit.” Overseeing programming for Cumulus’ four Motor City stations, Wheeler will work with in-place PDs Lori Bennett and Robby Bridges. Wheeler joined Cumulus three months ago after a five-year stint as regional program manager for iHeartMedia‘s Connecticut stations. He previously was regional vice president of programming for stations the company (then known as Clear Channel) owned in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Toledo. Wheeler has held on-air positions at Detroit stations WNIC, WABX, WHYT, and WCZY.
Veteran Radio Programmer Kevin Metheny Succumbs to Heart Attack at 60. Longtime broadcasting executive and major talk radio programmer Kevin Metheny has unexpectedly died yesterday (10/3) afternoon due to what is being reported as a sudden heart attack at the age of 60. Metheny had been serving as operations manager of Cumulus Media outlets KGO and KSFO in San Francisco since June. Before that he was program director of WJR, Detroit, also a Cumulus station. He was a second generation radio professional, the son of broadcaster Terrell Metheny. John Dickey, EVP programming and content for Cumulus issued the following statement: “Kevin Metheny’s sudden passing this afternoon is a devastating personal and professional loss for his broadcasting family at Cumulus, and for the entire radio industry. Kevin was a legendary broadcasting talent who touched many lives in his remarkable 44-year career, and whose successes made an indelible mark on radio. His reputation and accomplishments are simply unparalleled and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him as PD of WJR in Detroit and most recently, as operations manager of KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. His Cumulus family extends our deepest sympathies to Kevin’s loved ones. We will miss him profoundly.” Metheny began working in radio at KWHP, Edmund, Oklahoma and WKY, Oklahoma City. His long and storied career includes having worked at a number of key radio stations around the country, most notably as programmer of WNBC, New York with Howard Stern (who critically dubbed a character in his autobiographical book Private Parts based on Metheny, “Pig Vomit”) in the 1980s and in more recent times with Jacor, Clear Channel and the Randy Michaels regime at WGN, Chicago. TALKERS/RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison states, “Metheny was one of the major radio programmers of the modern era. He had a keen understanding of the basics of talk radio and the important role talent plays within it. He wasn’t afraid of controversy nor subjecting himself to criticism. After more than four decades of making a difference in this industry he was still involved in one of the hot spots of action where he was well on his way to engineering a turn-around at the Cumulus operations in San Francisco. This is a tragic loss for all of us who care about radio. Our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.”
‘The Golden Age of Audio Consumption.’ Reporting from Indianapolis, media consultant Holland Cooke summarizes some of the sessions he’s attended at both the RAIN Summit and the 2014 Radio Show. Edison Research president Larry Rosin is quoted referring to the current era as the “golden age of audio consumption” noting that, according to his company’s research, Americans spend roughly a fourth of their day listening to some form of audio. While this may be true, how this falls out for AM/FM radio is open to interpretation. Is it an opportunity for AM/FM radio or just a sign that other forms – read: digital – are poised to overtake AM/FM’s dominance in the near future. That is THE topic being discussed at the NAB/RAB-produced Radio Show this week. Read Holland Cooke’s entire column here.
Wheeler Named WJR, Detroit Program Director. The new program director for Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR, Detroit is Mike Wheeler who joins the company from his most recent post as regional program manager for Clear Channel’s Connecticut properties. The Detroit native has worked at numerous Motor City outlets including WNIC, WABX, WHYT and WCZY. Over the course of his career he’s also served as PD for CBS RADIO’s “DaveFM” in Atlanta, and was RVP of programming for Clear Channel in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Toledo. Cumulus EVP, programming and content John Dickey states, “We’re thrilled to have Mike Wheeler join Cumulus. His proven skill as a programmer combined with his Detroit roots makes him the perfect choice to lead the legendary WJR. Mike’s years of multi-format experience also makes him a great asset to the Cumulus programming team.” Wheeler comments, “WJR is a part of the fabric of Detroit. The station is deeply connected to the people of Detroit and widely intertwined with the local business community. I look forward to nurturing and building on that tradition.” Wheeler replaces Kevin Metheny who now programs the company’s KGO and KSFO, San Francisco stations.
LA Sports Personality Fred Roggin to Host ‘The Beast 980’ Program. New Los Angeles sports talk outlet KFWB “The Beast 980” adds a local program hosted by LA radio and TV sports personality Fred Roggin to the daily schedule airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, to start later this month. In a statement, the station says Roggin is well known nationally for his work with NBC Sports and a winner of more than 50 awards for broadcast excellence, and has been part of the Southern California sports landscape since 1980, including his work as the longtime sports anchor at KNBC-TV “NBC4.” Roggin comments, “I’ve been fortunate to be on NBC4 for over 30 years and I look forward to it every day. I started my career in radio and can’t wait to be part of one of the most exciting things to happen on LA radio in years. I’m ready to go Beast mode!”
Alabama Pol Learns Lesson About the Digital Age. Democratic candidate for governor of Alabama Parker Griffith learned the hard way that the “mic is never off,” in a metaphorical sense. Griffith didn’t like the line of questioning he was presented with by WAPI, Birmingham host Matt Murphy during a recent appearance on Murphy’s radio program. When Griffith tore into Murphy off the air using salty language, Murphy Tweeted the candidate’s comments to his followers. Needless to say, Griffith didn’t like that either and accused Murphy of making public a “private conversation.” Whatever one may think of Murphy’s actions, Griffith should know that a candidate for office should always assume his words are for public consumption unless expressly agreed upon as a private conversation.
San Francisco 49ers Suspend Ted Robinson for Ray Rice Commentary. In a case that is another example of the sensitivity organizations are feeling about their employees offering opinions about hot-button topics, the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers announce radio play-by-play voice Ted Robinson is suspended for two games after he commented on the Ray Rice case on sports talker KNBR, San Francisco. During the segment, Robinson said, speaking about Rice’s wife Janay, “How does she marry him after that? How does she go in front of Goodell? That’s pathetic to me.” Hardly the stuff of outrageous opinion, but it was enough to bring the skittish football club to suspend Robinson.
Odds & Sods. Detroit Lions football gets some insider expertise on Greater Media’s sports talker WMGC “Detroit Sports 105.1” as the station brings active players Golden Tate and Stephen Tulloch aboard to appear on Tuesday programs. Tate will be part of the Ryan and Rico show to talk about the offense and Tulloch will appear on the Matt Dery program to talk about the defensive game. Also, Lions great Herman Moore returns to serve as the station’s “Lions Insider” to appear on a number of the station’s programs…..In Chicago, Tribune Radio’s WGWG-LP “The Game 87.7” bolsters its football programming with a number of weekend shows including former Vegas oddsmaker and current Fox Sports 1 personality Todd Fuhrman’s “Who You Playin’,” Saturday’s college football show “Campus Tailgate” with Pete Fiutak, Howard Griffith, Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein, Tribune Radio’s Dave Eanet, Jordan Bernfield, and Sam Panayotovich, and Sunday’s “Double J Show,” Jason Goch and former Chicago Bears fullback Jason McKie, among others.
Master of Ceremonies. Doing one of the many things he does so well is Westwood One syndicated personality Jim Bohannon, pictured here at the 2014 Radio Show emceeing the Westwood One Branding Party put on by the syndicator. In addition to the crowd being entertained by country acts Chase Rice and Montgomery Gentry, numerous WW1 personalities were on hand to mingle with guests and network partners. The network gave away a pair of tickets to Super Bowl XLIX and a pair of tickets to the NCAA Final Four.
KDWN, Las Vegas Hosts Premiere for Atlas Shrugged 3. The third installment of the movie adaptation of the Ayn Rand classic Atlas Shrugged saw its world premiere take place in Las Vegas last week and Beasley Broadcasting news/talk KDWN hosted the event. Pictured here at the premiere is the cast of the film with emcee and KDWN morning host Alan Stock (center) standing with them.
President Obama’s ISIS Address, Ray Rice Case-NFL’s PR Troubles, Mid-Term Elections/2014 Presidential Prospects, 9/11 Anniversary, Immigration Issues, and Ferguson City Council Meeting Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/10). Analysis of President Obama’s ISIS Address and the US’ military policy in the Middle East; the media backlash against the NFL in the wake of the Ray Rice suspension and questions about when the elevator video was first seen; the looming mid-term elections and the prospects for the 2016 presidential race; the observance of the anniversary of 9/11; the state of immigration reform in Washington; and the protests at the first Ferguson, Missouri city council meeting since the death of Michael Brown were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Media Moves Kevin Metheny to KGO and KSFO, San Francisco. From his current position with Cumulus Media as program director of WJR, Detroit, Kevin Metheny will go West to take the helm of Bay Area news and talk stations KGO and KSFO as operations manager, effective July 14. The company says that Metheny is “a career content creator whose other recent work includes the successful launch of CBS RADIO’s country KMNB, “BUZ*N @ 102.9” in the Twin Cities; program director of WGN, Chicago; and 13 years with Clear Channel in various roles, including regional vice president of programming.” Cumulus EVP and co-COO John Dickey states, “Kevin Metheny’s reputation and accomplishments are unparalleled. His deep understanding of spoken-word radio and ability to work with bigger-than-life talents make him the ideal candidate to lead the legendary KGO and KSFO.” Metheny takes over for Ron Escarsega, who exits the stations.
WIND, Chicago Pulls Joe Walsh Off the Air After ‘Conversation About Words.’ Chicago talk show host (and former U.S. Congressman) Joe Walsh was pulled off his radio program on the Salem Communications-owned talk station yesterday (6/19) after he used a number of racial slurs while engaging in what he termed (via Twitter) “an honest, adult conversation about words without resorting to alphabet soup phrases (C-word, N-word etc.).” Walsh was riffing on the controversy over the NFL’s Washington Redskins losing its trademark due a recent Trademark Office decision. He Tweets that he “Found out that if I said Redskins or Cracker or Redneck Bible Thumper I could stay on. But if I said N***er or Sp**k, they cut me off.” As reported in the Daily Mail, Walsh is expected to be off the radio today and will meet with management later this afternoon. Walsh is fairly new to talk radio and apparently didn’t think an academic discussion was the same as outright use of the words he was discussing. Still, management is understandably skittish about the matter. Time will tell if this afternoon’s meeting is about setting it right or a pink slip for Walsh.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Takes Top Honors at IBA Awards Ceremony. Chicago news/talker WGN was honored with the Chicago Market Station of the Year award at the 2014 Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Awards ceremony held in Peoria on Wednesday, June 18. This is the seventh year running for WGN taking home that honor. The Tribune-owned station also was honored with first place wins in six categories, including: Best play-by-play team for Chicago Blackhawks broadcasters John Wiedeman and Troy Murray; Best radio series or documentary for “Beyond Bartman: The Story of the 2003 Cubs,” produced by David Kaplan, Trey Elling and Dan Levy; Best radio feature for “Halloween Rescheduled,” with Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder; Best station website for wgnradio.com; Best use of new media for the “Graveyard Shift Tours,” video with Nick Digilio and Dan Sugrue; and Best non-humorous commercial for “Des Plaines Golf Center,” produced by Jason Skaggs. WGN president and GM Jimmy de Castro states, “We are thrilled to have taken home seven awards and to be recognized by our peers at the Illinois Broadcasters Association. You can’t be named Chicago Market Station of the Year without terrific contributions from people like John and Troy of the Chicago Blackhawks and the incredibly talented family at WGN Radio. These awards are a testament to the strong sense of collaboration at our station and the amazing buzz in our hallways.”
Odds & Sods. The chairman of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will take over as general manager of sports talk KLAA, Orange, California after the exit of David Baronfeld. The radio management pro had been GM of the station for the past three years…..Compass Media Networks announces its NFL play-by-play schedule for the 2014 season. Some of the key games the network is offering include: the 49ers at the Cowboys on 9/7, the Raiders at the Seahawks on 11/2, and the Cowboys at the Bears on 12/4…..Sports USA also announces its NFL play-by-play schedule for the coming season. Games available through it include the Saints at the Falcons on 9/7, the Broncos at the Seahawks on 9/21, and the Packers at the Bears on 9/28…..Staradio Corp.-owned rock station WYKT, Kankakee, Illinois will flip to sports talk as “105.5 the Ticket” beginning July 10. The station will use CBS Sports Radio Network programming and will air NFL play-by-play from WestwoodOne as well as local high school football and basketball.
Joy at the United Nations. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Joy Browne (right) is pictured here interviewing an unidentified expert from the United Nations at yesterday’s “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations” – the massive radio row at the iconic headquarters of the World Organization — produced by TALKERS magazine in association with the Talk Radio News Service and the United Nations Foundation. Dr. Joy Browne will be at the Talkers New York 2104 conference taking place at the historic India House in Hanover Square today. Meet her there!
Iraq Turmoil Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of June 16-20. The political turmoil and violence taking place in Iraq and the Obama Administration’s policy toward the nation was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the crisis of child illegals pouring over the borders in the Southwest and the larger topic of immigration reform. At #3 was the recent primary results and races and the state of the GOP followed by Hillary Clinton’s memoir tied with speculation about the 2016 presidential race 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 magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Paul W. Smith Renews with WJR, Detroit for 7 Years. Telling Crain’s Detroit Business, “I’m thrilled, especially considering the length,” WJR, Detroit morning show host Paul W. Smith announces he’s re-signed with the Cumulus Media station for seven more years. He’s been the AM personality since replacing J.P. McCarthy in 1996. Smith says that, from what he’s heard, the length of the deal is “unheard of.” (He’s right!) The 60-year-old Smith adds, “I like Detroit; I made a commitment to Detroit coming back in 1996. The good stuff is just about to begin with the turnaround. This would be a horrible time to leave.”
Sean Pendergast Moves to CBS Radio’s KILT, Houston. With the departure of Josh Innes to the company’s WIP-FM, Philadelphia where he’ll host the evening show, CBS Radio sports talker KILT, Houston brings Sean Pendergast aboard from GOW Broadcasting’s crosstown KGOW where he’s been PM drive host for the past year. Pendergast will co-host the KILT afternoon show with Rich Lord from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Program director Ryan McCredden says, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring Sean to 610 and have him join our lineup. He is a true pro with a loyalty and passion for Houston sports that is unrivaled. As a team, Sean and Rich Lord will present a fun, and informative experience for the everyday Houston sports fan.” Pendergast comments, “In a city with a crowded sports dial, 610′s lineup and programming are the gold standard. This is a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to working with Rich, interacting with a captive audience and sharing opinions on our local teams.”
Bob Coxe to Retire from Cox Media Group’s WSB, Atlanta. Bob Coxe has been a familiar voice delivering news to Atlantans via news/talk WSB for the past 23 years. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reports that the 66-year-old Coxe is hanging up his headphones today to enjoy retirement after a radio career that has spanned four decades. Coxe tells Ho that assuming a normal sleep schedule is something he’s looking forward to. He says that like his hero Mickey Mantle, he knows when it’s time to step away. “You don’t have the physical energy, the concentration or mental acuity to do it at the standard you’d hope to set for yourself. Plus, the hours are punishing.” Taking over for Coxe will be Judd Hickinbotham, who will work alongside Marcy Williams on the morning show.
Odds & Sods. FOX News Channel is presenting a special New Year’s Eve program, “All-American New Year,” on December 31 from 11:00 pm to 12:30 am featuring co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Bill Hemmer live from Times Square in New York City. The pair will be joined by FNC’s Kimberly Guilfoyle, Bob Beckel, Ainsley Earhardt and Rick Leventhal. Griff Jenkins will provide viewers with an inside look at the celebrations taking place in the city. Music performances will come from country’s Rodney Atkins and will also feature performances by rock band Blues Traveler and Scottish singer and finalist of “Britain’s Got Talent,” Susan Boyle…..CBS Radio Philadelphia partners and combines forces with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show from Saturday, March 1 through Sunday, March 9. SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield states, “The Flower Show is the region’s premiere cultural event. It is a positive reflection on Philadelphia across the globe. CBS Local Radio is pleased to team up with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society by providing outstanding marketing solutions for our co-partners, which in turn provides essential funding for the Flower Show.” All five CBS properties – including all-news KYW, news/talk WPHT, and sports talkers WIP-AM and WIP-FM – will have a part in promoting, selling and participating …..KIDO, Boise morning drive talk host Kevin Miller (left) is pictured above with the Travel Channel’s Mike Baker (right), host of “America Declassified.” Baker was in the area and stopped by the KIDO studios to talk with Miller.
Female Erotic-Media Entrepreneur Finding Interested Audiences as “Change-of-Pace” Talk Show Guest. At a time when most news/talk stations are seeking two things to keep the format vibrant and growing – 1) relevant topics that go beyond right-versus-left politics and 2) programming that would be attractive to more female listeners without turning off men – Angie Rowntree (at left) is finding appreciation among hosts and producers as the perfect “change-of-pace” guest. Simply put, Angie Rowntree’s business is communicating about sex. As the operator of the world’s largest “porn for women” site, Sssh.com, Rowntree has spent the last 14 years doing a lot of what you might assume someone running an erotic website does – like writing and directing adult entertainment movies – but a good deal of that time has also been spent doing something you might not expect from a pornographic entrepreneur: listening. She tells TALKERS, “When I first started Sssh, there was just about nothing in adult entertainment that truly had been made with female viewers in mind,” reflecting on how she first got the idea to create Sssh.com. “There was just about every kink and specialty fetish you can think of that a man might be interested in, but aesthetically and thematically, there was basically no appeal to any of it from the female perspective.” To find out more, read a new feature article posted today (12/20) by TalkersRadio GM David Bernstein by clicking here.
16-Year-Old Broadcaster Making Waves at Daytona Beach Radio Stations. Her name is Pavlina Osta and although she recently reached her 16th birthday she is already a five-year veteran of professional radio broadcasting having hosted her own music and talk show, “Pavlina’s Kids Place” since she was 11. Most kids at age 16 have no career direction, but Pavlina is well on her way! Fascinated with radio, Pavlina grew up wondering if she could be the person holding the mic. But she decided not to wait, and began making calls to various celebrities that caught her attention. Pavlina likes Alice Cooper, Dr. Oz, and Animal Planet’s Wayde King and Brett Raymer. So that’s who she called, and receiving those calls from a charming teenager was all that was needed. She landed the interviews that she wanted and continued with Teresa Guidice, star of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” She now has her own YouTube channel, her own website, and a half-hour weekly radio show targeted to tweens and teens airing every Saturday at 11:30 am. “Pavlina’s Kids Place” airs on Daytona Beach-area stations WAPN-FM, Holly Hill, Florida; WAPB-FM, Madison, Florida; and WELE-AM, Ormond Beach, Florida as well as the internet channel RealRadioDaytona.com. Pavlina is also an award-winning dancer and has danced and sang in the New York City Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She has been recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution as an outstanding citizen and the American Cancer Society for her contributions to Relay for Life events. According to TalkersRadio general manager David Bernstein, “Pavlina is a rare find – especially in this day when teens are not as interested in going into radio as they were in past generations. If she sticks with it, and I sure hope she does, she will be a major figure in broadcasting in very short time. Radio needs kids like Pavlina.” Pavlina Osta is available for interviews or to serve as a special correspondent for music and talk stations around the country. She can be contacted at Frazier Public Relations, 703-431-7895 or visited on the web at www.PavlinaOsta.com.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Update. The independently syndicated Kevin McCullough show is added to the program schedule at KTLR, Oklahoma City and WTXY, Wilmington, North Carolina…..The Genesis Communications Networks-syndicated Jason Lewis show is added to the lineup at KLZ, Denver; WPTK, Raleigh; and KNOX, Grand Forks, North Dakota…..Cumulus Media Networks’ Mark Levin joins the program schedule at KVBL, Portland and the company’s “Red Eye Radio” overnight program joins the WVFT, Tallahassee lineup.
ObamaCare Criticism Top News/Talk Story for 9th Consecutive Week. The criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the ninth straight week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the NSA spying case. Following at #3 was the Target credit card security breach and at #4 was the controversy over “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality in GQ magazine. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Preparing 2013 Frontier Fifty for Publication this Summer. The editorial board of TALKERS announces the long-awaited 2013 installment of the publication’s popular annual feature, “The Frontier Fifty,” will be reappearing after almost a year lay off with a number of new innovations and features. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “We have renovated a number of the systems and basic formatting of this feature because it reflects an area of talk media that is undergoing the most rapid change. That is why there had been no new ‘Frontier Fifty’ in 2012. The Frontier Fifty was originally designed as a showcase for 50 interesting and outstanding internet talk radio hosts reflective of the diversity of styles and formats available on the internet – from long-form streaming shows to podcasts, from the traditional telephone talk/guest interview fare to the outrageous.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison adds, “Since we began this project, internet talk radio has exploded into a gigantic universe of literally thousands of individual performers, shows, networks, and concepts. We needed to step back and do justice to this, or not do it at all. The new incarnation of The Frontier Fifty will be based on a ranked listing of the ’50 Most Important Individuals Making A Difference in the Development and Growth of Internet Talk Radio’ as opposed to just being hosts of programs. It will now include entrepreneurs and internet impresarios as well as individual hosts – people who are making a difference.” Readers can expect to see the 2013 installment of The Frontier Fifty posted mid-to-late summer and are invited to send suggestions and “nominations” for individuals to be considered for inclusion to email@example.com.
KKFN, Denver’s Darren McKee Signs Multi-Year Extension. Afternoon drive co-host Darren McKee – who sits alongside former Denver Broncos star Alfred Williams on “The Drive with Big Al and D-Mac” – has signed a multi-year extension to remain with Lincoln Financial Media’s sports talk KKFN, Denver “Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan.” Program director Nate Lundy states, “As a PD, it’s always a great gift when you can be surrounded by talented people who are passionate about what they do. D-Mac is a great asset to the station and its live-and-local lineup. I’m thrilled to know he will continue to be a part of our success as we embark on our 18th year as ‘The Fan.’”
Clear Channel Makes Changes at Austin Sports Station. Bucky Godbolt exits Clear Channel Media and Entertainment sports talk KVET, Austin “AM 1300 The Zone” where he was morning drive host. In his place, CC pipes in KTKR, San Antonio morning drive host Mike Taylor’s 6:00 am to 8:00 am program. The move allows KVET to clear Fox Sports Radio’s Dan Patrick show and the Jay Mohr show live and shuffle Jon Madani to the PM drive “Sports Buffett” show which is expanding to five hours. In a statement, CC Austin vice president of operations Jay Shannon says, “We’re excited to add Mike Taylor’s show to the KVET morning drive lineup. He has proven his success in San Antonio and we’re thrilled to now have him on the Longhorn flagship station here in Austin.”
Filmmaker and Internet Radio Trailblazer Kevin Smith Visits WJR, Detroit. Filmmaker Kevin Smith — “Clerks,” “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma” – is pictured here with WJR, Detroit program director Kevin Metheny during a visit to the WJR studios. Metheny states, “My favorite living film director, Kevin Smith. We had a nice conversation about his movies and those of other directors.” In addition to his film work, Smith has been a trailblazer in the internet radio and podcast realm with his Smodcast Internet Radio venture. Smith and many of his Hollywood cohorts do regular internet radio shows via S.I.R.
Slash Visits Fox Sports Radio’s Jay Mohr. Musician Slash is pictured here (left) chatting with Fox Sports Radio’s Jay Mohr (right) in the FSR studios in Los Angeles during a visit to Mohr’s radio show on May 21. The former Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist talked about his time with GNR, upcoming projects and how Cher – of all people – helped him quit smoking. Slash is a big horror movie fan and has produced three such films. He’s behind the new horror flick “Nothing Left to Fear.”
Steven J.J. Weisman Receives High Academic Honor. TALKERS legal editor and Harrison Strategies senior partner, Steve Weisman received the 2013 Gregory H. Adamian Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Department of Law, Taxation and Financial Planning at Boston-based Bentley University where, in addition to his stellar radio industry career as a trade editor, legal advisor and talent manager, he is an esteemed professor. Weisman (c) is pictured receiving the honor at the university’s recent commencement ceremony from Mike Page, provost of the University (l) and Greg Adamian, trustee and former president of Bentley (r). Professor Weisman’s many nominations from both graduate and undergraduate students over the years contain descriptions like “intelligent,” “motivating” and “inspiring.” Several students noted that Professor Weisman not only cares about the course content but also about teaching his students to be good citizens out in the world. We at TALKERS agree Steve Weisman is a mighty good fellow and are proud that he will be one of the more than 50 speakers appearing at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6 discussing key industry issues. For more information about the conference click here.
New Rules for Email. Radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke writes that “With enabling technology evolving so rapidly, technique is critical. With new-tech comes a new etiquette; or, too often, a lack thereof. You prove it every time you check your email. I’ll bet you delete without reading more messages than you read.” Holland advises that to be as effective as possible in business when using email, be sure to consider what you’re typing in the subject line, when to send more than one email and when not to email at all. Read Holland Cooke’s piece here.
Nationally Syndicated Radio Personality Andy Greenberg Publishes New Book. Omaha-based talk radio personality Andy Greenberg is heard on stations around the country via his Radio America-distributed vignette “Your Daily High with Andy Greenberg.” Now, Greenberg and co-author Marian Shalander Kaiser have published a book called Your High (Tate Publishing 2013) based on Greenberg’s broadcasts. Promotional material for the book states, “The book takes Greenberg’s loveable radio antics and puts them in easy-to-understand vignettes. Every idea is new and unique, yet familiar. Each vignette opens with a situation to which everyone can relate. It then transitions to a motivational technique that is easy to understand and implement. According to the authors, life doesn’t have to be hard; individuals just have to look at it a little differently. Your High uses the popular style of Greenberg’s radio personality to show readers how to be successful in business, life, and everything in between.”
IRS Scandal, DOJ Journalists Investigations, Obama’s Guantanamo Closure Plan, Benghazi Attack Investigation, and Oklahoma Tornado Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/22). The Internal Revenue Service scandal and the status of Lois Lerner’s testimony; the Department of Justice’s investigation into journalists and news organizations; President Obama’s move to close Guantanamo Bay; the Benghazi attack investigation and cover-up allegations; and the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Q1 Revenue Drops 1.3%. The 2013 first quarter revenue numbers for Cumulus Media were $232 million – a decrease of $3.1 million or 1.3% compared to the same period a year ago. In its filing with the SEC, the company attributes the drop to “lower political revenues and general lower advertising spending in some of our markets.”
Lew Dickey Says Underperforming Stations Improving But Not Fixed; Syndicated Talk ‘Continues to Be Challenged.’ During the Tuesday conference call with investors announcing Cumulus Media’s 2013 first quarter revenue figures, CEO Lew Dickey addressed the syndicated talk division’s performance as well as six of its major market news/talk stations. Quick to address the 10 major market stations he’d blamed for pulling down the entire company’s previous revenue totals, he said, “Several of our big news/talk stations are now growing, including: WABC – which is leading the pack in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WLS in Chicago, KSFO in San Francisco, WMAL in Washington, D.C. and WJR in Detroit, all are growing. Our team is working very hard, and we’ve adapted to ad market changes. And again, these stations are now posting revenue growth.” He only vaguely touched on the Rush Limbaugh controversy during Q&A saying network sales has been challenged but is starting to pick up. Dickey praised the company’s heritage AM talkers for their potential and stated, “Our charge over the next five years is to continue to expose our audience and all of these major markets to the industry’s most talented performers while developing the next generation of talk radio superstars. By the way, this is true for our sports talk stations as well.” Dickey said that original group of 10 trouble franchises is down to six. “And we confirm our earlier statement that this original group of 10 stations would be negative in the first quarter, flat in Q2 and then rebounding in the back half of the year to post positive full year growth in 2013. And in fact, we can say that we’re actually a little ahead of that schedule right now.” But he also noted that while WBAP, Dallas is starting to come around, KGO, San Francisco – which it turned to largely a news station – is still not where they want it to be. Regarding the company’s deal with CBS Radio and the CBS Sports Radio Network, Dickey reports the rollout has reached almost 300 affiliates and is surpassing expected revenue targets. “We are highly encouraged by our early success and expect CBS Sports Radio to be a material growth driver in 2014 and beyond.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. You can read the entire transcript here.
Talk Radio Network and Phil Hendrie to End Syndication Effort. Talk Radio Network announces that it will cease syndication of the Phil Hendrie radio program as of June 25, 2013. TRN began syndicating the program in 2007 after it had been parted from its original syndicator – Premiere Networks – for about a year. TRN CEO Mark Masters states, “I believed in Phil then, and I still think he is a comic genius on air. He will always be a radio icon to me. We are proud to have rebuilt the Phil Hendrie show by adding over 100 stations, along with creating robust growth to Phil’s online presence, but, due to world events, the economy, and the state of radio in this country, we have decided to go in another direction in that daypart – we wish Phil all the best in his future endeavors.” From his perspective, Hendrie issues the following statement: “Phil Hendrie has elected not to pursue any further association with Talk Radio Network. As he delves deeper into his successful digital platform and ongoing television and film work, Hendrie remains open to terrestrial radio opportunities, but only those with strong sales, marketing and programming support.”
Cox Media Group Promotes Kim Guthrie to EVP Radio; Jane Williams to EVP Television and Marian Pittman to VP of News & Marketing for TV. Cox Media Group announces several promotions. Kim Guthrie, who had been serving as senior vice president of radio, overseeing all of the company’s radio stations, is promoted to executive vice president of radio and she reports to new CMG president Bill Hoffman. Guthrie joined Cox Radio in 1998 as VP and GM for its Long Island, properties and has been Regional VP for Cox Radio, where her stations have won multiple honors – including Marconi awards, Crystal Awards, New York Air Awards, AWRT Gracie Awards – for programming excellence and outstanding community service. Hoffman says of Guthrie (and EVP of television Jane Williams), “Both are proven CMG leaders and are highly respected throughout the media industry. Kim and Jane, along with our local leadership, have ensured our broadcast stations’ ongoing success, and I am honored to have them in these vitally-strategic executive positions.” At the same time, Marian Pittman is promoted from her post as station manager of WSB-TV, Atlanta to vice president of news & marketing for television for the company.
J Chapman Heads Up Woof Boom Radio to Buy Indiana Stations. The Backyard Broadcasting Muncie, Indiana market stations that Woof Boom is buying include: hot AC WLBC, oldies WERK, sports talk WXFN, news/talk WHBU, and classic rock simulcast WMXQ and WMQX “Max.” Jerry “J” Chapman’s Woof Boom Radio is made up of a group of local investors, headed by Chapman, who have formed Woof Boom Radio, a nod to the longtime dominance of WFBM in Indiana broadcasting from the beginnings of radio in the 1920s until the mid-1970s. The other owners include: Ray Kennedy, Conormara Investments; Jason Farmer, managing director of WestBridge Investments; and Aaron Reitz. In a statement, Woof Boom says of Chapman, “A 17-year radio executive with Indianapolis-based Emmis and most recently with Maverick Media of Rockford, Illinois, Chapman is a graduate of Hanover and literally grew up in the broadcasting industry. His father led Indianapolis WFBM Radio & TV for three decades, and J got an early start in the media business when assigned by his father to mow the grass at the TV station’s north side Indianapolis transmitter site.” Chapman says of his new venture, “I’m very excited to come home and put my years of experience in the vibrant radio industry to good use back in Indiana. The stations we’re acquiring are vital links between listeners and the local community. We intend to utilize those radio resources to help grow our customers’ businesses and to improve the quality of entertainment and information in our new communities. Best of all, the management of this group of stations will be local to serve local needs. We want to make a great thing even better, and Woof Boom Radio intends to start off on the right foot.”
The Secret of Managing Controversy. As the talk radio industry grapples with the dilemma of balancing the two realities of controversy (on the plus side, it attracts loyal audience – on the downside, it attracts enemies and scares advertisers) noted media consultant and TALKERS columnist Walter Sabo offers a simple solution. In an article posted today (5/8) he cites a simple but powerfully effective method used by some of the greatest talk radio managers of all time: Let the hosts be opinionated, controversial and even outrageous – but keep the station itself absolutely neutral! He goes on to explain why this is key to a successful operation. To read Walter Sabo’s entire piece, click here.
Mark Carbonaro Remains with KION, Salinas in News Capacity. Yesterday, TALKERS reported that Mark Carbonaro was out at Clear Channel’s KION, Salinas, California as the company was importing KSTE, Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty for morning drive. We learn via The Californian that Carbonaro remains with the station handling the morning drive news operations and other news department duties. General manager Rhonda McCormack tells the paper, “We are continuing to evolve our product with new and compelling offerings that will complement Mark’s contributions and allow him more time and flexibility to cover local news and events. It was a business decision. We think Armstrong & Getty will resonate well with the audience on KION. Mark Carbonaro is on Monday – Friday, 6:00 am to 9:00 am with Armstrong & Getty. Mark reports on the local news, sports, weather and traffic, plus expert segments that will run throughout the day, Monday through Friday and on Saturday mornings in the 10:00 am hour, ‘The Saturday Insider with Mark Carbonaro.’”
Cheryl Winer Named National Account Manager for Sun Broadcast Group. Radio sales pro Cheryl Winer is named national account manager for Sun Broadcast Group where she’ll work from the company’s New York City office assisting in servicing the company’s fast-growing roster of agency and client partners. Founder and CEO Jason Bailey states, “2013 has been such an exciting time in our company’s growth. With the addition of Cheryl to our first-class sales team I truly believe we send a clear message to the industry that Sun Broadcast Group is, and will continue to be, the leader in a very new kind of service for network radio advertisers and program suppliers.” Speaking about her new position with Sun, Winer says, “Over the past several years I have been searching for an entrepreneurial environment, which would replicate my experience at Premiere in the early days. I am so very excited to say that I have found that in Sun Broadcast Group! I look forward to participating in the growth of this fast-paced, cutting edge company.”
Arbitron Reports Q1 Revenue Up 5.1%. Income for the ratings firm was down to $0.60 per share for the first quarter of 2013, compared to $0.64 per share during the same period in 2012. However, income was up 5.1% on revenue of $111.8 million compared to the same period a year ago. The company states that costs and expenses increased 8.3% from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013. “In addition to the $3.2 million of expenses related to the pending Nielsen transaction, costs in the quarter increased as a result of planned incremental investments in Arbitron Mobile panels, costs associated with address-based sampling, in-person recruiting, and cell-phone household recruiting.” President and CEO Sean Creamer states, “In the first quarter, we continued to pursue our long-standing objectives: maintaining our investments in the quality of our radio ratings services, growing our core revenue, and entering new markets such as digital radio, cross-platform, and mobile. Our focus on the quality of our core services helped us achieve Media Rating Council accreditation of four additional Portable People Meter markets in February. Our goal remains achieving or maintaining accreditation in all our syndicated radio markets. We continue working to leverage our investment in the PPM technology and consumer panels utilizing our platform in new initiatives such as advertising and promotion effectiveness studies, while enhancing our measurement capabilities for radio and across platforms.”
Saga Communications Q1 Net Revenue Down 1.3%. To use the words of Saga Communications SVP, treasurer and CFO Sam Bush, the first quarter of 2013 was “challenging” for the company. In a conference call with investors, Bush reports that the company saw a dramatic decline in political advertising from the first quarter of 2012 to the same period in 2013. Gross national revenue was also down by more than $500,000 but a good quarter for local revenue helped combat that drop.
Salem Communications Sees 1.3% Revenue Dip in Q1. That’s across the board for all of Salem’s platforms and comes largely because Salem had such an outstanding 2012 in the political advertising category. Breaking things apart a bit, CEO Ed Atsinger reports that the company’s business news segment is doing well, increasing 4% while the news/talk radio division was down 7%. The Christian teaching formats were down 3% though the Christian contemporary group was up 5% compared to the same period a year ago. The Salem Radio Network was down 10% from Q1 in 2012.
WTOP, Washington Site the Victim of Hacking. Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED had their websites hacked earlier this week. The attacks may have affected visitors using Internet Explorer but not other web browsers. A message on WTOP.com states, “WTOP.com is currently dealing with a malicious cyber attack. We are working diligently to contain and stop the attack, and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.” The Washington Post reports that an internet security expert says the hackers installed two types of malware – one designed to look like an anti-virus software service that would get the subscriber’s credit card number, the other designed to control clicks from the user’s computer to inflate the number of actual clicks on digital ads.
Benghazi Whistleblower, Cleveland Women Freed from Captivity, Sanford South Carolina Race, Immigration Amnesty Issue and North Korea Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/7). The testimony about the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi; the case of the Cleveland women freed from captivity after 10 years; the South Carolina race for House seat between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch; the amnesty for illegal immigrants issue; and North Korea’s military threats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Mike Huckabee Considers Radio Future in Arkansas Business Story. In a piece that ran in Arkansas Business yesterday, Cumulus Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host – and former Arkansas governor and U.S. presidential candidate – Mike Huckabee speaks openly about his current media projects and how his political experience has helped his media career. Huckabee gives no clear indication he’ll stop doing the daily three-hour show, but neither does he sound all-in when he states, “Within the next month, I’ll decide if I want to continue it or not. I know we will, but it’s just such an incredibly intensive process that I really have to decide that I want to spend that kind of time…” Huckabee describes the long days preparing for the program and how he works that in with his Fox News Channel weekend program. “I’ve got to always weigh how much time I’m putting in it and what the return is. How long it will take to make it what I call hopefully disgustingly profitable. That’s what one always hopes for in a deal like this.” Read the entire story here.
Can Radio Overcome its Smothering Debt and Be a Viable Business in this New Era? That, according to Michael Harrison is THE existential question facing the industry today — and one that TALKERS magazine and RadioInfo tackle head-on in a blockbuster article posted May 2 in BOTH trade publications. Researched and written by TALKERS/RadioInfo west coast bureau chief/managing editor Mike Kinosian, this extensive piece taps deeply into the experience, wisdom and vision of a stellar panel of industry power-players who share their real world perspectives of this pressing issue that directly ties into the future of radio as both a medium and a business. They include (in alphabetical order): Sandi Bergman of MyMediaBroker, Ed Christian of Saga Communications, Erica Farber of the RAB, Charlie Gross of Newsweb Radio Corp., Michael Harrison of TALKERS/RadioInfo, Jerry Lee of WBEB (“B101”) in Philadelphia, Chuck Lontine of Headwaters MB, David Pearlman of American Radio Systems, Ed Perry of WATD in Marshfield, MA, Tom Quinn of Americom Broadcasting, Jeff Smulyan of Emmis Broadcasting, Peter Smyth of Greater Media and Dave Van Dyke of Radiate Media. Upon the publication of this information-packed article, TALKERS/RadioInfo VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “This is one of the most important pieces published in the radio trades in years and I advise anyone in this business who cares about its future to take the time to read it thoroughly. It dives right into the most pressing issue facing all of us today and provides insight from all angles – big-time groups, large and small market stations, investment banks, services providers, and advertising advocates. A piece like this gets to the very heart of what will determine radio’s future – its ability to function and options to consider as a viable business in a daunting, obstacle-ridden environment.” Read Mike Kinosian’s story here.
Mark Carbonaro Out at KION, Salinas, California; Armstrong & Getty In. According to a report in The Californian, local morning drive host Mark Carbonaro’s program has been replaced on KION, Salinas with the Sacramento-based Armstrong & Getty show. Californian writer Jeff Mitchell reports that calls to local management were not returned prior to his deadline. Both KION and Armstrong & Getty’s home station KSTE are owned by Clear Channel.
WNSR, Nashville to Get FM Simulcast in June. Nashville Sports Radio’s WNSR, Nashville will simulcast on 95.9 in addition to its 560 signal early this summer. The station says it will position itself as “Nashville’s SportsRadio 560 on 95.9 FM.” The new FM signal will be located near the Davidson/Williamson County line, providing excellent 24-hour coverage of WNSR’s programming. General sales manager and afternoon host Thom Abraham states, “Before the Predators and Titans, WNSR brought sports programming to the airwaves in Nashville. This station has stayed true to the format for over 15 years and we are now excited to make it available on the FM band. The new logo puts the emphasis on WNSR, which has stood for Nashville’s Sports Radio since 1997, something we are very proud of, and something I have come to appreciate since coming here four years ago.”
Fox News Radio Offers Memorial Day Weekend Specials. The network is offering two hour-long special programs for air during the Memorial Day Weekend. “Remembering Iraq” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Griff Jenkins and reflects on the 10 years since the United States entered the Iraq War. Jenkins will take a look at the front lines and those who were affected by the war, including the men and women who served as well as their spouses and children. “The Next Disaster” is hosted by Fox News Channel’s Janice Dean. It’s a multi-part series that examines disasters, including tornados, earthquakes and terrorist attacks and how to best prepare for them. Additionally, Dean will take a look at how weather forecasting and other technology have helped people prepare for natural disasters in the past and will also report on the impact of early warnings. More information about the specials can be found on the Fox News Radio affiliate website in the specials section.
Sports Talk WDAE, Tampa Gets FM Simulcast on 95.3. The signal is 250-watt translator W237CW that was most recently simulcasting the audio of Clear Channel’s hip hop WBTP “95.7 The Beat.” CC flips it over to sports talker WDAE. The AM 620 signal of WDAE covers the market just fine but now the station will have an FM presence that’s strongest in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Clearwater.
Benghazi Cover-up Allegations, Syria-Israel Tensions, Obama OSU Commencement, and North Korea Missile Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/6). New information regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the political ramifications; military tensions between Israel and Syria; President Obama’s commencement speech at Ohio State University over the weekend; and the North Korean missile threat were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Randy Michaels Speaks About Tribune Company in Newspaper Piece. Sam Zell declined to be interviewed for a four-part series in the Chicago Tribune about the parent company’s financial and legal odyssey but former Tribune CEO and radio executive Randy Michaels did contribute to the story. The piece charges that both Zell and Michaels never really understood the business (newspaper) or the culture of the place they were trying to save. But Michaels tells the Tribune he believed he had to get the newspaper’s staff to move quickly adapting to the digital age or it would be too late. Michaels says, “I cared a lot about that company, and while I recognize that there’s plenty that people might disagree with, I worked hard to keep those brands relevant in a changing world. We thought that by knocking down some of the walls, by bringing in a looser culture and getting rid of all the bureaucracy, that we had a chance to outperform. I thought it was my role to challenge everything.” The piece cites the reluctance among the Tribune staffers to accept the forced change in culture and highlights some of the resentment felt when Michaels’ former radio colleagues were brought into executive positions.
Programmer Kevin Metheny Named WJR, Detroit PD. Programming pro Kevin Metheny is the new program director at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR, Detroit. Metheny had been interim program director at Clear Channel’s country KMNB, Minneapolis “Buz’n 102.9” after leaving WGN, Chicago in November of 2010. Prior to his stint at WGN, Metheny was operations manager a Clear Channel’s Cleveland cluster. Metheny states, “I’ve long admired WJR from 90 miles across Lake Erie where I put 760 on a button the day I landed in Cleveland. ‘The Great Voice of The Great Lakes’ is a gold standard collection of impossible-to-duplicate treasures and I’m thrilled to join the Cumulus team.” Cumulus news/talk/sports corporate programmer Jim Mahanay adds, “Kevin brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the spoken-word format to the legendary WJR. We are excited to have him on the team!”
Talk Radio Network Unveils Seven New Weekend Programs. In what Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters calls a focus “on helping our affiliated stations make more money,” the company launches seven new programs this weekend, beginning with “Making America Laugh with Louie Anderson.” The comic brings “his brand of humor and warmth to the radio airwaves – covering topical news, taking listener calls, and riffing with comedic and celebrity guests.” Other programs lifting off this weekend include: “Nutzz & Knight Radio” hosted by Gordon “Lug Nutzz” Stewart and actor Christopher Knight (Peter Brady from “The Brady Bunch”). TRN calls it “a hysterical, fast-paced, and irreverent action/motorsports lifestyle and entertainment radio program, featuring interviews with personalities from NASCAR, the NHRA, and IndyCar to action sports athletes, musicians, and the entertainment industry.” “All Action Sports Radio” is dedicated to complete coverage of the action sports industry – surfing, skateboarding, BMX, Motocross, skiing, snowboarding, and more. “The Brian Oxman Show” features the former high-profile attorney for Michael Jackson and the Jackson family. “Blueprint of a Champion Radio Show” is a proprietary goal-setting and success program for student athletes brought to life through radio hosted by Neil Mason, a standout college athlete, Olympic coach and successful entrepreneur. “The Anthony Vultaggio Show” is a general issues talk program. “The Hibbard Show” is hosted by husband and wife team, Dave and Marhnelle Hibbard and is geared toward helping people in both their professional lives and in their personal lives.
Scott Sands to Program WSPD, Toledo. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment announces programmer Scott Sands will take over the program director role at news/talk WSPD, Toledo and sister rock outlet WIOT. Sands most recently was involved in launching CHR WWHX, Bloomington, Illinois with Vallie/Richards/Donovan. He also partnered with Vallie/Richards/Donovan to launch and program Main Line Broadcasting’s modern rock WCLI, Dayton “Click 101.5.” Until earlier in the fall, Brian Wilson had been serving as program director and afternoon drive host.
Cox Media Settles with Todd Schnitt; Jury Seated in Complaint Against Bubba the Love Sponge. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the defamation suit by talk show host Todd Schnitt against long-time Tampa market rival Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) continues as a jury was seated yesterday morning. However, Schnitt’s suit against Cox Media (Clem’s employer) has been settled. The paper reports that Cox Media and Schnitt reached a settlement on Friday, the terms of which were not disclosed. Cox Media Tampa market manager Keith Lawless is quoted telling the Times, “(The settlement) was a business decision, but in no way reflects that we are not in support of Bubba. It’s not such a bad thing that all our focus is now on defending Bubba.” Meanwhile, a jury of six with four alternates has been seated in Schnitt’s suit against Clem but not without some drama as the Times reports both sides initially agreed to the make-up of the jury, then Schnitt’s lawyers asked to reconsider. Immediately Clem’s attorneys asked for a mistrial but the judge declared the jury selection final and swore in the jurors.
Odds & Sods. With Compass Media Networks talk host Todd Schnitt tied up in court in his suit against Bubba the Love Sponge, he’ll be missing some time on the radio. KFAQ, Tulsa morning drive host Pat Campbell is subbing for Schnitt on his 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET program on Thursday, January 17…..Former WTKK, Boston talk host Michael Graham fills in for crosstown WRKO afternoon drive host Howie Carr on Thursday…..The big Oprah Winfrey interview with Lance Armstrong will air on Winfrey’s OWN cable channel on Thursday evening but SiriusXM will get the first crack at distributing the audio of the interview on Friday on its Oprah Channel…..Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington is hosting a special “Ask The Doctor” program featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, today at 10:00 am to help listeners learn more about the flu. The hour-long Q&A session will answer a number of concerns related to this year’s harsh flu season and more with WTOP mid-day anchors Mark Lewis and Debbie Feinstein hosting and taking calls from listeners…..Michael Patrick Shiels, host of “Michigan’s Big Show,” will broadcast his syndicated morning show live from Monte Carlo, in the principality of Monaco, on Friday, January 25. The special, international broadcast will originate from the historic Hotel de Paris next to the famed Casino de Monte-Carlo and guests on the program will include: actor Roger Moore, singer Shirley Bassey, residents of Monaco, as well as a representative of Monaco’s Royal Family.
Dial Global Sports Distributes NFL Conference Championships. The NFL’s conference championship weekend takes place on Sunday and Dial Global Sports brings affiliate stations exclusive radio play-by-play of the San Francsico 49ers vs Atlanta Falcons matchup and the Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots game. The NFC Championship game is being called by Dave Sims alongside Hall of Famer James Lofton as analyst and Tony Boselli on the sidelines. The AFC Championship game is being announced by Kevin Harlan with the play-by-play, Hall of Famer Dan Fouts as analyst and Mark Malone on the sidelines.
WGN, Chicago and NHL’s Blackhawks Agree to Five More Years. Now that NHL hockey is set to return, Tribune’s WGN, Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks have announced they will extend their deal for the station to be the exclusive market radio home of the team’s play-by-play broadcasts. The new, five-year deal will keep WGN as the team’s flagship station through the 2018-19 NHL season. WGN Radio DOS and interim general manager Jeff Hill says, “We are proud to extend our relationship with the Blackhawks and bring the excitement of hockey play-by-play to our listeners. The fast pace of the broadcasts provide an incomparable energy and we look forward to delivering the best hockey broadcasts for the next six years.”
Debt Ceiling Debate, Gun Legislation Proposals, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Controversy, ObamaCare Costs, and Lance Armstrong ‘Oprah’ Interview Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/15). The battle between the Obama Administration and Congress over raising the debt ceiling; threats by the president to use executive powers to write new gun legislation; the controversy over the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”; the costs brought about by the Affordable Care Act; and Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Holland Cooke
Talk Radio consultant
Here’s why I predicted Cain’s success oh-so-publicly at the recent Arbitron Client Conference:
November PPMs Generally Good to Talk Radio. You can call it the “election bounce” if you like but some of the news/talk stations that did well in Arbitron’s November 2012 PPMs were ramping up in October and before. Plus, the fall has traditionally been a good ratings period for news/talk whether there’s an election or not. Of course, Hurricane Sandy played a major factor for stations in the New York and Middlesex-Somerset-Union markets. Some of the stations worth noting include CBS Radio’s New York all newsers WCBS and WINS which jumped from a 3.8 to a 5.3 and a 4.0 to a 4.8, respectively. Clear Channel’s Los Angeles talk juggernaut KFI continues to thrive inching up to a 5.3 from a 5.1 the month prior. Cumulus Media’s Chicago news/talker WLS bounced back up to a 4.1 after posting a 3.7 in October. Likewise in Dallas-Fort Worth for Cumulus as WBAP-AM/FM pops up a half share to a 3.9. Clear Channel’s KTRH, Houston rose from a 3.4 in October to a 4.1 in November. In Washington, DC Cumulus’ WMAL-AM/FM jumped from a 3.4 to a 4.2. In Philadelphia, Merlin Media’s WWIQ hopped from 2.7 in October to a 3.6 in November. Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta – which has been maintaining healthy numbers in the PPM for some time – vaults from a 6.8 to an 8.3 this month. Cumulus’ Detroit talker WJR rose more than a full share from a 4.8 to a 5.9. Public radio outlet KUOW, Seattle claimed the top spot in the November PPMs with a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix went up a full share from a 4.9 to a 5.9. Mixed results in Baltimore as Hearst’s WBAL fell from a 5.7 to a 5.0 while WCBM rose from a 3.0 to a 3.8 share. Good news for pubcaster KOPB, Portland which went from a 5.3 to a 6.2 while Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL jumped from a 4.8 to a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s WPGB, Pittsburgh leaped a full share from a 6.9 to a 7.9 share while its Sacramento sister KFBK also enjoyed a significant rise from a 5.6 to a 6.8 share. In the New Jersey market of Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW, Trenton) posted an outstanding 8.6 – up from a 6.2 in October – with help, no doubt, from Hurricane Sandy. TALKERS’ sister publication RadioInfo has all the PPM data including Mike Kinosian’s analysis of the numbers. You can find that here.
Laura Ingraham Back on Radio “Soon.” That’s what the author, pundit and talk show host told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. During one of Laura Ingraham’s regular appearances on Fox News Channel with O’Reilly, he questioned her status in the talk radio world and she told him she will be back on the radio with another syndicator (she left Talk Radio Network at the end of her contract on Tuesday) very soon. “I’m close to signing a new deal. I’m very, very close. But I’ll be back on the air probably in the next several days.” Ingraham told O’Reilly she informed TRN she would be “terminating the deal” months ago and that it was time to move on.
Talk Host Tom Becka to Exit KRWK, Fargo “101.9 Talk FM.” Talk radio pro Tom Becka has been serving as program director and talk show host at KRWK, Fargo since it flipped from rock to talk in March of this year. Becka tells the Fargo Forum he’s returning to Omaha where he’s worked for years and has family. Becka says any notion his departure has anything to do with the performance of the new format is not correct. “The station has grown every month. My experience with Radio Fargo-Moorhead was great and I’m proud of what we accomplished here in a short time. To say I’m leaving because of ratings would be erroneous.” Radio Fargo-Moorhead is selling its cluster of stations to Midwest Family Communications. The FCC has approved the license transfers but according to one source, the actual takeover may not happen until the spring.
Todd Schnitt Show to Leave Flagship WFLA, Tampa. Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt Tweets that his program – airing live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm – will be off longtime flagship WFLA, Tampa after the December 18 program. Schnitt further Tweets that the national syndication continues and is expanding under syndicator Compass. No word what CC has in mind for afternoons at WFLA. Currently, it delay-broadcasts Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm but may have plans to move Hannity to the live PM drive slot.
Jim Isabella Named Evening Host at WNIR, Akron. Journalist Jim Isabella has been doing fill-in work for WNIR for the past two years. He now takes over the evening show formerly hosted by the late Tom Erickson who died on November 3 after a long illness. Isabella most recently worked for the Akron Beacon Journal. Station owners Bob and Bill Klaus note in a press release that Isabella, who was a frequent caller to the show hosted by the late Howie Chizek who passed away suddenly in June, made them more aware of his talents during his fill-in time in addition to receiving positive response from the station’s listeners.
Odds & Sods. Watch for Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean from the network’s “America Now with Andy Dean” on Fox News Channel’s “America’s News HQ” this Sunday at 4:45 pm ET as he sits in a panel discussing the latest headlines in news and politics…..SiriusXM brings the Major League Baseball winter meetings to listeners via its MLB Network Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels. The meetings take place in Nashville December 2 through 6 and the satcaster will have front office experts Jim Bowden, Jim Duquette and Steve Phillips there hosting various programs with other special expert guests including former pitcher Jeff Nelson.
Bubba the Love Sponge Offers Reward for Arrest of Animal Abuser. After hearing about the case of a dog found in the Bradenton, Florida area that had been attacked by someone with an axe, radio star Bubba the Love Sponge put up $1,000 of his own cash on top of the $500 being offered by the Animal Network for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. After hearing about the case, Tampa-area philanthropist Gary Kompothecras of the legal and medical referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY added another $1,000 to the reward to make the total $2,500. Bubba reports to TALKERS that the dog, named Axel, is recovering from his injuries and will be available for adoption once he is healthy again.
Los Angeles Broadcaster David Courtney Dies at 56. The Southern California radio community is mourning the loss of omnipresent “big voice” David Courtney, who passed away on Thursday, November 29. Many considered Courtney the voice of Los Angeles sports, since for the past 23 years, he was the public address announcer of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He performed similar duties for MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 18 years and NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers since October 2008. Greater Los Angeles area radio listeners knew him for his frequent traffic and sports updates as part of the Total Traffic Network. Over the last 20 years, Courtney was heard on a number of major Los Angeles radio outlets including KABC and KSPN, as well as KOLA in the Inland Empire. His other radio background included stints at Houston’s KULF as executive producer of sports programming and that market’s KTRH, where he was weekend news anchor before landing a nightly, three-hour news/talk program. New York City-born Courtney moved to Los Angeles in 1963 when his father, Alan, became president of MGM Television. According to Courtney’s Twitter feed, he needed to miss Wednesday night’s Clippers game against Minnesota owing to the fact he was in the hospital awaiting an angiogram. The 56-year-old Courtney is survived by his wife, Janet Fisher-Courtney.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle Remains Top Talk Radio Topic for Second Straight Week. The struggle between the Obama administration and GOP congressmen to deal with impending tax hikes and spending cuts was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Benghazi investigation tied with the Susan Rice-GOP leaders meetings. Following at #3 was the Israel-Gaza tensions with the clean-up of Hurricane Sandy 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. See this week’s entire chart here.
Talk Radio Spruces Up the Programming Tree without Benefit of Christmas Music. While music radio has an obvious tool in the music itself to “decorate” its programming with the flavor of Christmas and the holiday season – whether it is via the all-Christmas music format or simply sprinkling in abundantly available holiday tunes of just about every genre – talk radio must utilize more subtle methods. Programmers turn to production, topics, promotions, specials and even the commercials themselves to convey the live-ness and vibrancy of the holidays. At Dial Global‘s “Jim Bohannon Show” and “America in the Morning,” host Jim Bohannon tells TALKERS, “We have several ways of reflecting the season. For one thing, since we’re not all-politics-all-the-time, we’ll intersperse various holiday guests and topics. I also do a daily humorous “Offbeat” feature which takes on decidedly holiday material. We think being seasonal now and then is an important break from the usual political blah blah blah.” Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno OM/PD Skip Essick shares, “I like to ‘decorate’ the station through the on-air production – lots of holiday imaging, military salutes, staff holiday greetings, and holiday bumpers. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I will look for special holiday programming which might include relevant holiday sports play-by-play, holiday specials like ‘The Gift’ and I always run the original radio performances of ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘Wonderful Life,’ and ‘A Christmas Carol.’” In New England, Greater Media’s WTTK, Boston “News Talk 96.9 FM” PD Grace Blazer adds, “‘Tis the Season’ for News Talk 96.9 FM-WTTK to embrace holiday topics, talk with seasonal guests, play popular Christmas bumpers, and most importantly attend special community events that transcend news and politics, but touch the hearts and inspire the souls of the less fortunate in our New England communities.” Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago PD Bill White emphasizes the importance of charities in establishing the feel of the holidays at his heritage news/talker as well as leaving it to the creativity and personal expression of each of the station’s personalities. “Our talent reflect the holidays in many different ways. Some work with charities such as Neediest Kids Fund. Garry Meier hosts a very special annual event ‘A Very Garry Christmas. Each talent brings their special brand of the holiday season to WGN.” Even sports talk radio – which as CBS Radio VP of sports programming Mark Chernoff tells TALKERS has plenty to talk about in December (NFL crunch time, big college bowl games, NBA and college hoops, even hot stove baseball) – gets into the holiday spirit. Chernoff says, “We do have some ‘happy holidays’ jingles. We do some holiday stuff – like speculate on what presents to give certain coaches or players. Mike Francesa usually does a holiday movies segment. Our studios are spruced up for the holidays by our TV partners. Mike Francesa’s studios already have the holiday trains and winter decorations set up. We also use holiday bumper music closer to the holidays.” Chernoff adds, “The bigger issue is filling all the time slots with many of the full-time hosts taking vacations.” That inconvenient truth being established, nationally syndicated morning host Doug Stephan is celebrating the holidays by offering what he calls a “gift” to program directors and their audiences. In response to talk radio’s traditional schedule of holiday fill-ins, Stephan states that he and his team will be hard at work. He tells TALKERS that his daily program, “Doug Stephan’s Good Day,” will be live throughout the holiday season including Christmas Eve and Day and News Years Eve and Day. Stephan states, “We welcome any station that is looking for live programming during the holidays to try our show for free. Rather than feeding holiday music programs or dated reruns, we offer stations topical, fun and informative talk during these important family holidays.” Stations interested in trying Doug’s Show without contractual commitments should check out www.DougStephan.com or call Bob K. at 650-654-3969.
Michael Harrison: Radio Must Focus On Being Indispensable When the Lights are On. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison states that radio must focus its programming efforts on being a lifeline to the public when things are normal as well as during disasters. In a piece scheduled for publication in next month’s year-end retrospective, Harrison writes, “Radio has performed admirably during the storm crises we experienced this past year and that hard work has been reflected in the well-deserved ratings bump those stations – music and spoken word – have received for their good service. But the real lesson here is not being discussed. We as an industry mustn’t get carried away in overly promoting our technological reliability when the lights go out as our major asset. That is akin to the candle industry saying it is better than electric light bulbs because they don’t work during storms. We must approach our programming as being an urgent 24/7 remedy to the less-obvious storms, disasters, emergencies and plain old passions of life. That is the true lesson we can learn from our successful handling of Sandy and its nasty predecessors.”
Dr. Drew Goes to Washington. Hubbard Radio’s Washington, DC all-newser WTOP hosted Dr. Drew Pinsky (c) this morning (11/29) from 10:00 am to 11:00 am for its weekly “Ask The…” program. Pinsky – who is nationally syndicated to radio stations across the country via the Courtside Entertainment-produced “Loveline” and a daily vignette “One Minute Clinic” – sat down with WTOP’s Mark Lewis (l) and Debbie Feinstein (r) to talk about his visit to the White House in conjunction with World AIDS Day and his one-hour MTV special, “I’m Positive,” set to air Saturday at 7:00 pm ET.
KGMZ, San Francisco Names Guy Haberman Evening Host. Entercom’s KGMZ, San Francisco “95.7 The Game” fills the evening slot with KFIG, Fresno PM drive host Guy Haberman. He takes over the slot that opened up when the station promoted Chris Townsend to the PM drive show. Program director Jason Barrett says, “Guy has strong passion for our Bay Area teams, understands what local fans want, and delivers an entertaining, interactive sports show. Having been in the broadcast booth calling games, he’s a great fit to lead into our Athletics play-by-play programming and be an outlet for fans following the game.” As part of Haberman’s duties with the station, he’ll host the weekday Oakland Athletics pre-game “Dugout Show” and post-game “A’s Talk” programs during baseball season. In addition to his experience hosting a sports talk show at Osterlund-owned KFIG, Fresno, Haberman has extensive experience in play-by-play that includes calling games for the Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco Giants AAA), College Basketball for the WAC Sports Network, and Fresno State Women’s Basketball and Softball. Haberman also served as a sideline reporter for Fresno State Football on the Bulldog Sports Network.
Larry King Visits Business Rockstars. Larry King (l) is pictured here with “Business Rockstars” host Ken Rutkowski (r) in the KFWB, Los Angeles studios. King appeared on the program recently to talk with Rutkowski about his new entrepreneurial venture, internet television station ORA TV – a collaboration with Mexican media billionaire Carlos Slim. “Business Rockstars” airs daily from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and brings together some of the world’s biggest and most successful CEOs as well as successful small business owners. Recent guests on the show have included: Nolan Bushnell (founder Attari & Chucky Cheese), Michael Robertson (mp3.com), Mark Verge (CEO Santa Anita Park) Cheryl Tiegs (Celebrity Apprentice, business woman) Scott Painter (True Car, Cars Direct) Brock Pierce (Founder Internet Gaming Entertainment), William Quigley (partner ClearStone Ventures), and Heinrich Fisker (Fisker Automotive). “Business Rockstars” partner, Steve Lehman was the founder and former chairman/CEO of Premiere Radio Networks. Lehman says the program is designed for multi-platform content distribution and its new location will be outfitted with three video cameras for streaming video content.
Armstrong & Getty and Clear Channel Lauded for Fundraising Efforts for Fisher House. KSTE, Sacramento morning show duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty – whose program is also heard on KKSF, San Francisco and KWSX, Stockton, California – raised $225,000 during the week of November 12 to help build a new Fisher House at Travis Air Force Base outside Sacramento. The duo has raised a total of $650,000 in the past two years for that project. On the national level, Clear Channel aired Fisher House public service announcements on all 850 of its radio stations in the days leading up to Veterans Day. That national effort, valued at an estimated $3 million, was supplemented by the efforts of numerous local Clear Channel radio stations, which ran a special 30-minute public affairs program and/or spotlighted Fisher House with interviews and fundraising appeals. Fisher House Foundation is best known for the network of comfort homes built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. The Fisher Houses are 5,000 to 16,800 square-foot homes, donated to the military and Department of Veterans Affairs, where families can stay while a loved one is receiving treatment. Additionally, the Foundation ensures that families of service men and women wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan are not burdened with unnecessary expense during a time of crisis.
Steve Gill Show Uses Powerball Fever to Raise Funds for Charity. The WLAC, Nashville-based Steve Gill show capitalized on the Powerball Lottery fever to raise almost $5,000 for local charities. Gill announced that anyone making a $100 contribution to one of two charities would also receive a chance at the huge Powerball jackpot. Some 44 qualifying donations were made and the Helping Hands Ministry and the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes were the beneficiaries to the tune of $4,850. Steve Gill says, “Win or lose when it comes to the lottery tickets, the kids and families benefitting from these charities have already won thanks to the generosity of those who chipped in.”
WJR, Detroit’s Mitch Albom Helps Raise $400,000-plus for Detroit Charities. Detroit-based multi-media star Mitch Albom spent 15 hours on the radio on Cumulus Media’s WJR, Detroit on Tuesday, November 27 during a radiothon to raise funds for his S.A.Y. (Super All Year) Detroit charity and its partner programs, including Working Homes/Working Families, 100 Houses, A Time To Help, S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic and Detroit Dream Scholars. The Detroit Free Press reports the total raised was $401,321.34 but that the total will go higher as phone donations continued after the broadcast ended.
WXOS, St. Louis Talk Host Bernie Miklasz Named to Local ‘Power List.’ The St. Louis sports talk host is one of three sports people – and the only sports media person – to make St. Louis Magazine’s “100 People Who Are Shaping St. Louis” cover story known as “The Power List.” Bernie Miklasz was included in this listing as an “influencer” due to his many years of experience as a trusted and respected sports columnist and radio show host. 101 ESPN program director Kent Sterling states, “Bernie definitely deserves to be recognized as a thought leader among St. Louis sports media. He not only challenges himself every day with his tremendous work ethic, he also encourages the 101 ESPN team to do their best, day in and day out. Because of Bernie’s diligence in his work and his popular presence in the St. Louis media, our listeners are more informed and better fans of St. Louis’ sports teams.” Miklasz (left) is pictured here with another of the list’s influencers – St. Louis Cardinals chairman/CEO Bill DeWitt III (right).
Cool News Director Job Opportunity. Ithaca’s heritage news/talk radio station, WHCU has a career opportunity for a news director. There are not many opportunities out there of this nature — a chance for the right person to guide and grow the city’s primary news source in this gorgeous college town at the foot of the Finger Lakes in New York State. They (Cayuga Radio Group – a division of Saga Communications) are looking for someone who understands contemporary news writing and presentation, has strong on-air delivery skills and is able to train and nurture an up-and-coming staff. Creative use of web and social media to deliver and support the on-air product is a must. In TALKERS magazine’s editorial opinion, Saga is clearly one of the best companies in radio to work for and this is truly a rare opportunity. Send materials immediately to: Brand Manager/WHCU, Cayuga Radio Group, 1751 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 or email: NewsTalk@sagacom.com.
Bringing the Coverage to Radio. ABC News Radio’s Andrea Dresdale (c) helps “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” champions Melissa Rycroft (l) and Tony Dovolani (r) hoist the mirrorball trophy after their victory. Dresdale and ABC News brought coverage of the pop culture event to radio stations across the country.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Debate, Susan Rice-GOP Meetings, Powerball Jackpot, and Post-Sandy Cleanup Cost Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/28). The debate between the Obama Administration and House Republicans over the coming tax hikes and spending cuts; ongoing meetings between U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and GOP leaders over the Benghazi attack; the large Powerball Jackpot; and the cost of cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Seventh Annual Domestic Violence Radio Row Set for December 8. For the seventh consecutive year, TALKERS magazine will present “It’s Time to Talk Day” — a massive radio row produced in association with its sister firm, Talk Radio News Service, and the corporate sponsorship of Liz Claiborne, Inc. Held in the fashion showroom of the Midtown Manhattan corporate offices of Liz Claiborne, Inc., the ambitious event brings together some 20 talk radio and TV hosts from around the country who broadcast their shows live or record interviews for delayed broadcast interviewing a non-stop parade of experts, victims, celebrities and public officials from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm on the insidious societal problems of domestic violence and teenage sexual abuse. Major broadcast participants at this event over the years include Dr. Joy Browne of WOR Radio, Alan Colmes of Fox News Radio and Fox News Channel, Doug Stephan of “Good Day,” Mark Riley of WWRL in New York, Thom Hartmann of Dial Global, Lionel of LionelMedia.com and WPIX-TV Channel 11 in New York, Carole Marks of “A Touch of Grey” and many more. According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “‘It’s Time to Talk Day’ is certainly one of our most important annual events. It raises consciousness about a societal problem that impacts a frighteningly large segment of the population and it cuts across all gender, ethnic and demographic boundaries. There isn’t a spoken-word format that doesn’t find the topic of domestic violence applicable to its audience and extremely compelling. Most importantly, we get feedback each year that this radio row, upon reaching millions of talk radio listeners, really does make a huge difference in the lives of real people. It doesn’t get better than that. We are grateful to Liz Claiborne, Inc. for their public-mindedness in supporting such a valuable project.” Broadcasters interested in participating in this year’s installment of “It’s Time to Talk Day” should e-mail Barbara – firstname.lastname@example.org – while space is still available.
Cumulus Cuts Hit Providence, Detroit and Colorado Springs Markets. The staffing cuts at Cumulus-owned stations continue and while most of the following staff reductions have not been officially confirmed, here are some of the folks on the news and talk side who are reportedly out: At KVON, Colorado Springs, news and on-air staffers David John McCoy and Jackie Craddock are out (although at the time of this posting their names still appear on the station website); in Detroit, WJR news anchors Donna Barbera and Dayna Clark plus reporter John McCulloch have been let go; and in Providence WPRO/WEAN-FM evening producer and fill-in host Tony Cornetta is out as is digital reporter Bob Plain. More cuts are expected to come in these markets so stay tuned.
KOGO, San Diego Adds FM Simulcast. Clear Channel’s KOGO, San Diego is heard on the FM band beginning today (11/7). The company drops country on KUSS-FM at 95.7 and KOGO is now branded “FM News and Talk 95.7 and AM 600 KOGO.” Clear Channel San Diego president and market manager Debbie Wagner says, “AM 600 KOGO has an incredibly strong brand in San Diego with its award-winning news and talk format. The simulcast of KOGO on 95.7 FM allows us to provide complete expanded signal coverage of KOGO’s market leading news and talk programming to better serve our local community as well as our advertisers.” The station is also announcing the addition of KFI, Los Angeles weekend talk host Bryan Suits and Bob “Sully” Sullivan as co-hosts of a new local daily program. Longtime KOGO talk host Roger Hedgecock – whose program is syndicated by Radio America – is not mentioned in the press statement from Clear Channel, which leads to the next item…
Roger Hedgcock Announces Move to KFMB, San Diego. Roger Hedgecock has been a part of Clear Channel’s KOGO San Diego since its flip to news/talk in 1994. For the past several years he’s been syndicated nationally by Radio America but still operating from his base at KOGO. Now, Hedgecock tells TALKERS that, as rumored, his nationally syndicated program will move its San Diego base to the PM drive slot at crosstown KFMB beginning in the new year. Rick Roberts currently hosts the PM drive show at KFMB and there’s no announcement from the Midwest Television-owned station on his status. Hedgecock is excited about the move and states, “KFMB offers me the TV connection and, with their new 8.2 cable station, the simulcast that will be available (probably March) for all digital devices.”
Clear Channel’s Sports KJR, Seattle Expands to FM. Clear Channel drops country on KNBQ-FM, Seattle and begins a simulcast of sports KJR. CC expects the move to improve the station’s geographic reach in the metro – not to mention the younger demos listening to FM. KJR PD Rich Moore says, “This is an extremely exciting day for our brand, clients and listeners. It has always been our goal to deliver the most compelling and entertaining sports talk to the Puget Sound region. We will increase our coverage and will now broadcast KJR in crystal-clear FM, providing more fans our unique local content with a Louder Sports Voice.”
Longtime KDKA, Pittsburgh Talk Host Perry Marshall Passes Away. KDKA, Pittsburgh program director Marshall Adams tells TALKERS legendary KDKA talk personality Perry Marshall passed away at age 86 after suffering a heart attack while on a cruise several weeks ago from which he never recovered. “Perry was an institution in local radio, hosting the ‘Marshall’s Office’ overnight talk show for 25 years on KDKA, in addition to work on stations WWSW, WTAE, WJAS, WEEP, KQV and WIND Chicago…I think we all agree a big piece of Pittsburgh radio history died today with him.”