All-Hannity Stunt Points to New FM Talker in Philly. Merlin Media dropped the Christian talk on its new WKDN-FM, Philadelphia and began airing Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity round the clock. The move seems to back the speculation that Merlin will not follow the footsteps of its New York and Chicago FMs with an all-news format but will go news/talk. It’s expected the station will soon clear Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh and possibly Glenn Beck as well as it builds an FM talk station with Philadelphia native son Al Gardner as PD and morning drive host. Merlin also changed the call letters of the station to WWIQ-FM.
News/Talk KFI, Los Angeles Wins March PPM Battle. It’s not often a commercial news/talk station is ranked the top station in a PPM market, but Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles topped sister Top 40 KIIS-FM by a tenth of a point to win the March PPM contest with a 4.9 share. A few news/talk stations have landed in the top spot in the monthly PPMs – Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee has a track record of dominance in that market as does Cox Media‘s WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville – but for the most part, the number one slot is usually nabbed by a music or all-news station. It goes to show the astounding cume KFI has in the market.
Clear Channel Reorganizes Marketing Structure; Tim Castelli Replaces Charlie Rahilly. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment makes a major move to “unify and align its marketing offerings under one umbrella” with the creation of a new, unified sales and marketing group led by former AOL executive Tim Castelli. CC states, “This move, the latest in the company’s transformation to a fully integrated, multi-platform media and entertainment company, creates an unprecedented opportunity for partners to tap into the company’s unparalleled reach of 237 million people a month (the largest of any radio or television outlet in America) and unmatched collection of media assets.” CCME chairman and CEO John Hogan says, “This is an entirely new way to leverage the unmatched national reach with local engagement capabilities of Clear Channel Radio Sales, Strategic Partnerships, Clear Channel Connections, Digital, event sponsorships and Premiere Radio Networks Sales supported by innovative programs and world class custom marketing insights.” In addition to Castelli’s hiring, Clear Channel announces Condé Nast’s Holly Lang joins the company as senior vice president, marketing solutions. Lang is responsible for conceiving and implementing innovative marketing programs for national advertisers, with a special focus on consumer brands. Also, Chris Monteleone, formerly vice president of partner strategy at Madison Square Garden, has been named senior vice president, event sponsorship sales and development.
New Jersey 101.5 Gives Steve Trevelise the Evening Show. Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton – New Jersey 101.5 – announces part-time staffer Steve Trevelise is named permanent host of the evening show on the station. Trevelise has been sitting in hosting the evening program since the station parted ways with Michelle Jerson. Now, brand manager Eric Johnson states, “There are few in radio that I know who sound more Jersey than Steve! We are thrilled he is bringing his passion and knowledge of the state to weekday evenings on New Jersey 101.5. Having been here part-time for a few years now, he has worked hard to earn this position and knows how to relate to our more than 1 million listeners.” In addition to his radio career, Trevelise is a stand-up comic and has performed at comedy clubs throughout New Jersey. He currently owns and operates Sarcasm Comedy Club in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Midway Broadcasting’s WVON, Chicago Joins iHeartRadio. The Windy City’s urban talk outlet, WVON, is the latest station to join Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s mobile/digital radio service iHeartRadio. Midway Broadcasting chairman Melody Spann Cooper states, “I think this is a win-win for both WVON and iHeartRadio. We’ll reach a national audience, our listeners will have the benefit of taking the station wherever they go by using their smart phones, and iHeartRadio gets the benefit of our best-in-class urban talk format.” The station says it is embarking on an aggressive promotional campaign to introduce iHeartRadio and to educate its listeners on its usage.
Gabe Hobbs Named Strategic Advisor at Listener Driven Radio. Former Clear Channel news/talk and sports corporate programmer Gabe Hobbs joins Listener Driven Radio to spearhead the company’s LDR.TopicPulse – what the company describes as “a new system that offers real time social media topic tracking, so news/talk stations can see what local audiences are talking about up-to-the-second.” LDR further describes LDR.TopicPulse as “valuable real-time information to show producers and hosts on which topics and news stories are ‘getting buzz’ in their market on social media. The system scans all available news sources, local blogs, Facebook posts, Tweets and other social media. Then, producers can see a report – which is updated to the second – on the hottest trending topics and their shelf life.” On his new position, Hobbs states, “LDR’s team is the finest group of interactive innovators in the country. I’m proud to join the team to translate the success LDR is having at music radio to the news/talk/sports formats.”
Salem Radio Network Host Dr. Richard Land Responds to Plagiarism Accusations. Southern Baptist Dr. Richard Land – host of the “Richard Land Live” Saturday program syndicated by Salem Radio Network – responds to accusations he pulled direct commentary for a monologue about the Trayvon Martin case from an editorial by Jeffrey Kuhner of the Washington Times. Land admits he failed to provide verbal attribution on the program for using some content and apologizes. Land states he did not intend to deceive and always posts his source material on his program’s website. SRN VP of news and talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “SRN stands firmly behind Dr. Richard Land, whose ethical standards and intellect are recognized around the world. An oversight in giving an on-air mention to a source he clearly posted on his website hardly rises to the level of ‘plagiarism.’ That standard is reserved for individuals like Vice President Joe Biden, who was forced to abandon his 2008 presidential campaign when it was revealed he was recycling entire speeches from British Labour Policy figure Neal Kinnock. Or President Obama himself, who was found to be lifting entire sections of speeches formerly delivered by his friend DeVal Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts. It says a lot about Richard Land that he has acknowledged that he can do better…and that he has pledged to do just that.”
Dial Global Names Michael Schreck SVP/Director of Corporate Sports. In his new position as senior vice president and director of corporate sports, Michael Schreck will be responsible for sports sales and marketing as well as league and team negotiations for Dial Global. Co-president and CEO David Landau states, “Michael has a proven track record of success in cultivating both advertiser and league partnerships. With his leadership, we are looking forward to continuing to define great moments for our advertisers and the millions of sports fans our broadcasts touch.”
Dave Ramsey Invades San Antonio. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Dave Ramsey (pictured here on stage in San Antonio) addressed more than 6,000 fans during the presentation of his “Total Money Makeover Live.” Ramsey also spoke before some 1,000 local business people as he presented his EntreLeadership 1-Day event. Affiliate KTSA, San Antonio benefitted from Ramsey’s appearance in town. General sales manager Coreena Hazelett says, “One of the invaluable things about Dave’s Live Event visit is the time he puts aside for our sponsors. The clients really get the opportunity to connect one on one with Dave, and they are moved by his desire to see their businesses succeed. He’s not just a host on the radio, he’s a true partner who’s committed to the success of our station and our advertisers.”
Secret Service Prostitute Scandal, 2012 Presidential Race, ‘Buffet Rule’ Blocked by Senate GOP, GSA Wasteful Spending and ObamaCare Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/16). The backlash against the Secret Service after agents found in prostitution scandal in South America; the 2012 presidential race including the flap over Ann Romney homemaker comments; the Senate GOP’s blocking of the ‘Buffet Rule’ to tax the super rich; the investigation into wasteful spending by the General Services Administration and the legal status of ObamaCare were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Current TV Fires Back at Keith Olbermann. Fledgling network Current TV is countersuing former “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann in the wake of his messy departure from the operation. Entertainment Weekly reports the Al Gore-founded network is calling Olbermann’s $70 million suit against the network “frivolous” and “riddled with falsehoods and distortions.” “Current seeks a determination that it is no longer obligated to pay Mr. Olbermann who, having already been paid handsomely for showing up sporadically and utterly failing to keep his end of the bargain, now seeks to be paid tens of millions more for not working at all.” The complaint also refers to Olbermann’s April 3 appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” during which he stated the situation was “my fault” and admitted “I screwed up.” Current TV filed its complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Rumor Confirmed: Limbaugh to Leave WPHT, Philadelphia; Michael Smerconish to Air Live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. Yesterday (4/9) TALKERS reported the rumor that Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh would leave longtime affiliate WPHT and be replaced by WYD Media’s Michael Smerconish live in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. CBS Radio is confirming that switch will take place with Premiere Networks saying Limbaugh will appear elsewhere in the market, though neither source is giving specifics on when the changes will take place. Absent another major signal talk outlet in Philly, speculation is that Merlin Media will take new acquisition WKDN-FM, Philadelphia (licensed to Camden, New Jersey) news/talk in the near future and put Limbaugh on the station. Meanwhile, Michael Smerconish returns to a live broadcast (he’s currently being delayed to PM drive) on WPHT, the station where he hosted a very successful AM drive program for many years.
WSCR, Chicago’s Dan McNeil Clears Air with Listeners About Absence. Chicago sports talk host Dan McNeil told his listeners his absence from CBS Radio’s WSCR for the past six weeks was due to what he could best describe as a nervous breakdown that resulted from his ceasing to take the mood stabilizer Lamictal. McNeil says after he stopped taking the drug he became depressed and sought treatment for depression and substance abuse. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports McNeil was open and honest with his listeners saying, “I know with you listeners I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust, as I’m doing with the most important people in my family. And I hope you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt and give me a chance to re-earn that trust.” McNeil co-hosts the midday show at WSCR alongside Matt Spiegel.
Sid Rosenberg to Be Off WQAM, Miami This Week. After an arrest on Thursday of last week on DUI and driving with a suspended license charges, WQAM, Miami talk host Sid Rosenberg was on the air last Friday. But he was not hosting his show yesterday and the Miami Sun-Sentinel reports WQAM program director Lee Feldman stating he’ll be off the air all week. It’s unclear what Rosenberg’s status with the station is – whether he’s been suspended or is out for medical reasons – but he is not expected to return to the station this week.
CRN Digital Talk Radio Expands into the Hawkeye State. Sunland, California-based CRN Digital Talk Radio announces it has struck a deal with Iowa Network Services to bring its six audio HD channels to cable subscribers in the state. CRN chief executive officer and founder Michael Horn states, “We are pleased to join with Iowa Network Services and provide their customers with our top-rated and highly entertaining talk radio programming.” Iowa Network Services is based in Des Moines and serves 57 independent telecommunications firms providing internet, data, telephone and cable television service throughout Iowa. INS video content manager Sarah Roeder says, “INS is excited to bring CRN Digital Talk Radio to Iowa. The diverse programming will add value to our existing content.” CRN Digital Talk Radio states it offers more than 100 original shows along with a stellar roster of top syndicated programs hosted by radio veterans such as Lou Dobbs, Barry Farber, Dennis Prager, Cindy Laverty, Laura Ingraham, Mancow, Michael Savage and Doug Stephan among others. “Iowa Network Services subscribers will also enjoy the popular Robert Conrad show, featuring the TV legend, as well as the Larry Manetti show, starring the former ‘Magnum P.I.’ star.”
KNST, Tucson Hosts Arizona Congressional Race Debate. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KNST, Tucson is hosting a debate among the four Republican candidates vying for the Congressional seat vacated by former Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords earlier this year. KNST morning host Garret Lewis will moderate the debate along with National Republican Committee member Bruce Ash. Candidates Frank Antenori, Jesse Kelly, Martha McSally and Dave Sitton will face off in the April 17 primary to determine who will battle Democrat Ron Barber and Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis in the June 12 special election. The debate will take place Thursday evening at the Quail Creek Country Club and will be broadcast live on KNST and 97.1 FM.
Hubbard Broadcasting’s WFED, Washington Wins “Headliner Award” for Website. Hubbard Broadcasting’s Federal News Radio announces it has been honored with a 2012 National Headliner award for a second place win in the category of Radio-Affiliated Website. Federal News Radio web manager Julia Ziegler states, “What makes FederalNewsRadio.com so successful is the fact that everyone on our staff contributes to the web product – from our reporters and web staff, to our producers and anchors. Our most innovative web projects always come from staff members bringing their individual skills, knowledge and ideas together.” WFED, Washington program director Lisa Wolfe says, “We offer a lot of interactivity with our surveys, multi-media features, radio interviews on demand, photo slide-shows and videos. We have improved the graphic experience with some excellent data visualization. The goal is to push our capabilities to be in the vanguard of digital journalism.”
KQTH-FM, Tucson Morning Host Jon Justice Hospitalized for Heart Surgery. Jon Justice hosts the morning drive show at Journal Broadcasting’s news/talk KQTH-FM, Tucson. He suffered a heart attack in 2009 and explains via the station’s video blog (pictured here) from the ICU that doctors will operate on him to fix a prior valve replacement that needs repair. Justice says doctors expect him to recover quickly and he hopes to be home from the hospital by the weekend.
Jerry Doyle Live on the Strip. That’s Talk Radio Network star Jerry Doyle broadcasting live from the Suncoast Hotel and Casino on April 6. Doyle and flagship station KDWN, Las Vegas co-produced the appearance which will become a monthly live broadcast at which Doyle’s fans can take part in what he calls “radio magic.” After Doyle’s three-hour broadcast, he took questions from fans and talked about “the things they won’t let me talk about on the radio.”
GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Campaign, Tepid Jobs Report/Stock Market Activity, Status of Obama Care, Syrian Violence and Mike Wallace Passes Away Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/9). The Republican primary race and the 2012 presidential campaign; the falling Dow on the heels of a weak jobs report; the Supreme Court’s Obama Care hearing and analysis of the law’s impact on the nation’s deficit; an increase in Syrian violence; and the death of journalist Mike Wallace were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame. That’s Bob Kevoian of the nationally syndicated Premiere Networks Bob & Tom show at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Opening Day leading the fans in the traditional 7th inning stretch singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Bob & Tom produced a live remote broadcast from the Whiskey Bar in downtown Cincinnati on Opening Day. Members of the Bob & Tom crew, including Tom Griswold and Kristi Lee, participated in the Opening Day parade in Cincinnati. Griswold and Lee rode in affiliate Fox 92.5’s car in the parade.
Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee Debuts Today. The number of affiliates set to air the Mike Huckabee show is pegged at somewhere between 175 and 200. The eager anticipation of Huckabee’s debut would not be so intense were it not for the facts that the show airs live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET – the same time period as Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh – and that the latter is recovering from the backlash and intense consumer media scrutiny that followed the Sandra Fluke controversy. Regardless, the industry will certainly be watching how Huckabee’s Cumulus Media Networks program takes off but the consumer media appears to be salivating at the notion that Limbaugh has “competition.” The fact, of course, is that every radio show has competition of one sort or another and Limbaugh has faced high-profile talent in his daypart in the past – most notably from Fox News Channel superstar Bill O’Reilly for a number of years. Mike Huckabee will succeed if he hosts a compelling program that grabs listeners. Broadcasters understand that will happen or not independent of what other talk show hosts are doing or whether they are facing a “crisis.” As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told Politico in a piece published over the weekend, “This isn’t an election, it’s an industry. There’s room for both, just like there’s room for Letterman and Leno. Yes, every competitor hurts Limbaugh. But Huckabee is basically just another competitor. If he takes a little away from Limbaugh, fine. But he also has the potential to expand the talk radio audience.”
Rumors of Major Syndication Changes in Philadelphia and New York; Smerconish to Bump Limbaugh from WPHT. And possibly more than that…but first things first. A very hot rumor out of Philadelphia has WYD Media-produced Michael Smerconish’s nationally syndicated program airing live 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on CBS Radio’s news/talk WPHT– where Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh does right now. Smerconish is currently delayed to PM drive on WPHT. Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor wrote about the other part of this rumor in his morning blast on 4/6: Merlin Media may be planning to go talk and not all-news on WKDN-FM, Philadelphia – its new property which is still airing Christian programming from prior owner Family Stations. With former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host (and Philly native) Al Gardner hired to program and possibly host mornings at WKDN-FM and Rush Limbaugh possibly soon-to-be-available (plus Premiere’s Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck available, as Tom Taylor points out), a move to talk would be much less personnel intensive and would enjoy the ability to grab three of the biggest news/talk personalities in the business. But there’s more…other chatter coming out of New York is that Merlin Media has been talking to Premiere Networks about bringing Rush Limbaugh to its all-newser FM News 101.9 (WEMP-FM) if Cumulus Media decides to put new national syndication rollout Mike Huckabee on WABC in Limbaugh’s place. Then one would have to ask the question, “Would Merlin do the same with WWWN-FM, Chicago if Cumulus bumped Limbaugh in exchange for Huckabee on its news/talker WLS?” Stay tuned.
KFAQ, Tulsa Talk Host Pat Campbell Responds to Deadly Shootings. KFAQ, Tulsa morning drive talk host Pat Campbell tells TALKERS his program responded very quickly to a series of shootings in the city in which five citizens – all African American – were shot and three died. Campbell says he hosted a special Saturday noontime edition of his program to address the crimes and seek the public’s assistance in capturing suspects. He tells TALKERS, “I had the mayor in the studio urging calm but more importantly, cooperation with the police. We urged listeners that might have any information to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline and the good news is that a tip came in around 4:00 pm that led to the arrest of the suspects early Sunday morning. This is an example of talk radio at its best! Rather than becoming a wedge like we’ve seen in the Trayvon Martin case, 1170 KFAQ brought the community together and got the bad guys off the street.”
WQAM, Miami Standing By Sports Talk Host Sid Rosenberg After DUI Arrest Last Week. WQAM, Miami afternoon sports talk host Sid Rosenberg was back on the air on Friday after spending most of Thursday in jail following an early morning arrest on DUI and driving on a suspended license charges. Rosenberg, who has spoken publicly about past substance abuse issues and has talked of having twice been to rehab, is being supported by his superiors at the Beasley sports talk outlet. The Miami Herald reports WQAM program director Lee Feldman stating, for now, Rosenberg is not being suspended. WQAM general manager Joe Bell declined to comment to the paper.
Matt Lauer to Remain with NBC’s “Today.” The months of speculation about the future of television talk host Matt Lauer have come to an end as NBC announced Lauer has signed a multi-year contract to remain with the network’s morning news magazine program. The buzz in the industry included rumors Lauer would rejoin Katie Couric at rival ABC. Though Couric is set to begin a new chapter in her career at ABC with her own daytime talk show, ABC’s “Good Morning America” has been closing the ratings gap between it and “Today.” On Lauer’s signing, NBC News president Steve Capus tells The New York Times, “Matt is the franchise, and our franchise player has decided to keep leading our team.” The Times story notes that “Today” has been in first place in the morning news show ratings for the past 16 years.
Fox News Channel Brings Santita Jackson Aboard as Contributor. The daughter of Rev. Jesse Jackson left Midway Broadcasting’s WVON, Chicago due to budget cuts last fall. Now, Santita Jackson is named a contributor for Fox News Channel. Santita Jackson is also producer of Jesse Jackson’s weekly Premiere Networks-syndicated talk show “Keep Hope Alive.”
Raubin Pierce Leaves On-Air Position with WIBW, Topeka for Management Post at Manhattan Broadcasting. Raubin Pierce co-hosted the “On the Other Hand” talk show with co-host Megan Mosack at Morris Communications’ WIBW, Topeka and served as the company’s director of information technology. He’s left those duties to become operations director and head of new media at Manhattan Broadcasting in Manhattan, Kansas. The company operates four stations in the Manhattan market including news/talk KMAN. Pierce tells the Topeka Capital-Journal, “This was just a fantastic opportunity. There was just no way that I couldn’t do this.”
Longtime South Florida Broadcaster Patricia Anderson Dies from Cancer at 54. Trish Anderson was well known on South Florida radio. During her career she worked as a producer, voice-over talent, sports reporter and traffic reporter at stations including WINZ and WIOD, Miami. Anderson battled breast and bone cancer. She passed away on March 31.
Johnny B at Wrigley Field. That’s WGN, Chicago morning drive host Jonathon Brandmeier (center with sunglasses) surrounded by the Chicago band The Fold at the Captain Morgan club at Wrigley Field on Opening Day. The Fold won the station’s contest to write an original song celebrating the Chicago Cubs. The winning song – “Let’s Go Cubbies” – is being played at the beginning of each Cubs game broadcast on WGN this season. The band was with Brandmeier on Opening Day to perform the song live at WGN’s pre-game broadcast and live remote.
The FCC and You. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq. presents the first in a series of articles as an abridgement of a forthcoming e-book detailing the crucial, regulatory information of which every license holder and radio station management employee must be aware. Informal surveys of radio station managers indicate that an alarming number of them are dangerously under-informed about the FCC regulations that pertain to them and their stations. TALKERS editors urge managers to take the time to read this free abridgement of the first of seven installments and share it with their management teams. Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon. In today’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the license renewal process. Read more here.
The Rush Limbaugh Fallout for All Talk Radio Is Advertiser Nervousness. Almost a week into the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy the consumer media, politicians and even the media trades to some extent are still awash in writing about Limbaugh’s mistake, the coarsening of our media political discourse and even allegations that conservative talk radio, apparently, hates women. But TALKERS is hearing reports from ad rep firms that are more alarming – especially in these already shaky economic times. That is that major advertisers are issuing yet another round of “no controversial programming” dictates. This is not a new problem for talk radio and the recent Limbaugh case is likely only to add fuel to a fire that’s been simmering for the past 20 years. While no laws were broken by Rush Limbaugh, advertisers who fear backlash from activists, parent’s organizations and other groups – even though talk hosts with loyal followings that are likely to buy their products or services help sell those products or services very successfully – don’t want to risk bad PR, protester harassment or outright boycotts from being associated with a “controversial” talk media figure. They reason that there may be many more customers of theirs whom they don’t want to alienate who don’t listen to “controversial” talk radio, so they shy away from the genre altogether. The bigger challenge facing talk radio right now is not defending its programming, but selling it in this turbulent climate.
Ohio State Representative Circulates Petition to Remove Rush Limbaugh from Station. Democratic State Representative Robert F. Hagen is circulating a petition around the Youngstown, Ohio area to submit to station WKBN, Youngstown asking that Premiere Networks talk host Rush Limbaugh be removed from the station’s lineup, according to Vindy.com. The online petition seeks 2,000 signatures before being presented to WKBN management and is less than 200 away from that mark as of this morning. While many politicians at the state and national level have weighed in on the Limbaugh controversy, Hagen is the first TALKERS is aware of who is using his status as a politician to take action in attempting to coerce an affiliate station into making a programming decision.
Cumulus Birmingham and Paul Finebaum Have March 30 Court Date. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has scheduled a March 30 hearing to discuss WJOX-FM, Birmingham sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s motion to dismiss counterclaims by Cumulus against him, reports the Birmingham Business Journal. Finebaum and Cumulus are suing each other for breach of contract. Cumulus’ countersuit claims Finebaum – in violation of his contract – entered into negotiations with a competing broadcasting company and shared proprietary information with said organization. Also, earlier this week Cumulus attorneys filed a motion to block Finebaum’s subpoena of Cumulus for testimony in the suit by arguing that it did not own the Citadel stations when the dispute began.
Merlin Media Closes on WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey. Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media closes on the $22.5 million purchase of WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey from Harold Camping’s Family Stations. It is widely believed that Merlin will bring some spoken-word format to the Philadelphia market – probably an all-news outlet in the image of its New York and Chicago stations. Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host – and Philadelphia native – Al Gardner is reported to be programming the new venture.
KNBR, San Francisco Renews Play-by-Play Deal with the Giants Through 2018. San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer and Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey appeared on the “Murph & Mac Show” on sports KNBR, San Francisco yesterday to announce a new, seven-year contract to keep Giants baseball on the station. Dickey stated, “On behalf of our loyal listeners and valued clients, we are pleased to announce a new seven year partnership with one of the greatest brands in all of sports. We are excited to continue KNBR’s 34-year run with the Giants with the addition of compelling new content designed to bring the fans even closer to the action both on and off the field with exclusive reporting.” The deal includes the pre-game “Kruk & Kuip Show,” the “Post-Game Wrap” and other Giants content throughout the year.
SiriusXM Brings Sports Journalist John Feinstein to Mad Dog Radio Channel. Satellite broadcaster SiriusXM announces a new program co-hosted by renowned sports journalist John Feinstein and Bruce Murray called “Beyond the Brink” to air daily from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the Mad Dog Radio channel. Murray has been hosting the midday show at Mad Dog Radio solo. Feinstein is author of best-sellers A Season on the Brink – detailing a season with Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers – and A Good Walk Spoiled – chronicling a year on the PGA golf tour. The program debuts Thursday live from the ACC basketball tournament. SiriusXM states the two will cover the spectrum of sports on their show, interviewing high-profile guests, debating topics and talking with callers nationwide about the headline stories of the day. Feinstein says of the new program, “I’ve always enjoyed doing radio because it gives you a chance to talk in detail on a lot of different topics and the chance to do it on SiriusXM on a daily basis with an old friend like Bruce is something I’m really looking forward to taking on. I’m really grateful to SiriusXM for giving me this opportunity and I think this is going to be a lot of fun.”
Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh Controversy, Super Tuesday GOP Primaries, U.S.-Israel Relations/Iran Threat, Ponzi Scheme Verdict, and Hacker Ring Busted Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/6). The ongoing aftermath of the Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh controversy; the Super Tuesday GOP primaries; the meeting between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear weapons threat; the verdict in the world’s largest Ponzi scheme trial; and a global hacker ring busted with help from its leader were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.
Chicago Media Community Mourns Death of John Madigan. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder writes an excellent piece on John Madigan’s place in Chicago media. Read it here. Madigan worked in newspapers, radio and TV and spent part of his career at WBBM, Chicago as political editor. He was part of the team that led the station’s transition to all-news. He passed away recently in Florida at age 94 after complications from a stroke.
On the Road in Long Beach. KLAC, Los Angeles-based Fox Sports Radio Network hosts Matt “Money” Smith (l) and Petros Papadakis (r) are pictured here at their “Just Because It’s Friday” remote broadcast from Cirivello’s Sports Stop in Long Beach, California. The event drew nearly 500 listeners and featured special guests including Long Beach State head basketball coach Dan Monson, college basketball analyst/former college basketball coach Bruce Pearl plus Petros’ father and former USC linebacker John Papadakis. Giveaways included the first-ever “Petros and Money” t-shirt, Matt Kemp baseball bats, signed Magic Johnson and Howie Kendrick photos, a Diamondback bike, and an all-inclusive trip to Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training in Glendale, Arizona. The broadcast was backed by local band Brewfish pictured behind the hosts.
Walter Sabo Leaves COO Position at Merlin Media. Noted radio consultant Walter Sabo has parted ways with Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media, the heavily venture capital-backed firm that acquired a majority share of three radio stations this past summer from Jeff Smulyan’sEmmis Broadcasting including WEMP-FM, New York and WWWN-FM, Chicago and is in the process of picking up a fourth from Harold Camping’s Family Broadcasting – WKDN-FM, in the Philadelphia market. Merlin launched a relatively experimental all-news format at these stations targeted to what Sabo described as “working families” with an emphasis on the 25-54 female demographic. The stations (FM News 101.9 in New York and FM News 101.1 in Chicago) received a tremendous amount of attention (and intense scrutiny) in the media before, during and after their launch prompted by former Tribune Company CEO Michaels’ negatively colorful and controversial profile, in addition to the fact that they were taking a startlingly innovative and youthful approach to delivering the all-news format. Sabo was recruited to serve as architect of this approach due to his impeccable reputation as a longtime champion of the concept of targeting female listeners on FM and proven track record for success with spoken word on FM as a longtime consultant for WKXW-FM, Trenton (New Jersey 101.5). When a notable rise in ratings failed to materialize in immediately subsequent survey periods coupled with widespread criticism by radio industry observers of the stations’ formats and execution – further exacerbated by Michaels receiving negative publicity in the midst of all this for being arrested on DUI charges – the heat was on and Michaels began facing enormous internal and external pressure to modify the programming approach. He succumbed and the Merlin stations began moving in a more traditional all-news direction putting them in head-to-head competition with CBS’s long-established, traditional and wildly successful all-news outlets in New York and Chicago (WINS, WCBS and WBBM). With this repositioning, the challenge of competing against successful, established news outlets has not produced increased ratings and the Merlin all-news initiative has become prematurely tagged throughout the industry as a monumental failure. Sabo’s withdrawal from day-to-day operational and programming decisions, including his subsequent departure from Merlin, has been quietly happening below the radar for some time now. Up until this article’s publication (1/2), there has been no official press release, acknowledgement or statement from either Merlin or Sabo confirming or commenting on his exit. However,TALKERS sources inside Merlin and close to Sabo confirm that it is indeed true with Sabo telling TALKERS,“At this time my work with Merlin is complete. The primary job was to build the most competitive team on and off the air – Merlin has the best. Our initiatives gave investors the confidence to buy a station in a third market and grow the company. GTCR deserves enormous credit for investing in the radio medium. FM spoken-word is so hot that the demand for Sabo Media services has never been greater. Our clients find that our decades of experience in the FM talk format protects their investment and shortens the profit horizon. More importantly my beautiful wife Katie is seven months pregnant during the holidays. That’s the news.” Sabo will continue to serve as CEO of his consulting firm Sabo Media and internet branding and marketing company, HitViews.
Fox Sports Radio Network Debuts New Morning Program Featuring Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins. Today is the debut of Fox Sports Radio Network’s new morning show – “Fox Sports Daybreak” – heard from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and featuring former Cincinnati sports talk host Andy Furman and retired NFL defensive back Artrell Hawkins. Furman’s resume includes an 18-year run hosting “Sports Talk” at WLW, Cincinnati and, recently, the PM drive show at WQRT, Cincinnati. Hawkins is a contributor to the Cincinnati Bengals Radio Network. Furman has been hosting a weekend show with former NFL star Lincoln Kennedy for more than a year and that Sunday evening program with Furman and Kennedy will continue. Fox Sports Radio VP/GM Don Martin states, “We couldn’t be happier to have Andy and Artrell hosting our new morning drive program. The combination of a sports talk pro like Andy and a former professional football player like Artrell will be a great addition to our weekday lineup.” Fox Sports Daybreak replaces the Zakk and Jack program on the FSRN schedule.
Cumulus Media Flips WMTI-FM, New Orleans from Oldies to Sports Talk. The Big Easy gets a new sports talk outlet as Cumulus Media drops the oldies on WMTI-FM and goes sports talk with programming from Fox Sports Radio Network, Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome and a PM drive show hosted by New Orleans Hornets broadcaster Gerry Vaillancourt.
New FM Talk Outlet for Little Rock. Crain Media Group drops the active rock on KKSP-FM, Bryant, Arkansas (located to the Northwest of Little Rock) and debuts a talk format it’s calling “Fresh Talk 93.3.” The lineup includes market news personality Neal Gladner in morning drive, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham, Dial Global’s Clark Howard, Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” and more.
Progressive Talk Appears on WVKO, Columbus. The station at 1580 AM is owned by Bernard Ohio LLC and its website indicates it’s doing business as Clear Conscience Communications. The progressive talk lineup that debuted on January 2 includes Dial Global’s Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann and Bill Press plus Mike Malloy and Leslie Marshall.
Chris Schoenewald Exits Virginia-Based “Daily Constitutional” Program. The regionally syndicated “Daily Constitutional” – based out of WCHV-AM/FM, Charlottesville, Virginia and co-hosted by Joe Thomas and Chris Schoenewald – is undergoing changes as Schoenewald is leaving the program to run for office. He plans to announce which office he’ll seek soon. Thomas tells TALKERS the program will continue. “Adam Forster of Virginia Living Television and private investigator/TV anchor Nikki Lewis will be purchasing Schoenewald’s share and we’re hopeful to continue to grow and help stations in this area program locally oriented talk while freeing up their resources for news and marketing efforts.” The “Daily Constitutional” airs live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET. In addition, Thomas hosts the morning drive program on WCHV-AM/FM.
Sam Malone in Israel. KSEV, Houston morning host Sam Malone is pictured here inspecting the cockpit of an Israeli F-16 during a tour of the Hatzor Air Force Base while on a trip to Israel. Malone broadcast his program live back to his Houston audience (via the very capable technology of the Comrex ACCESS) during which he interviewed numerous Houstonians serving in the IDF, important Israeli media figures and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Malone tells TALKERS magazine his audience loved the content and his marketing department was able to get the broadcast event sponsored.
Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Holiday Sports Action and New Year Retrospectives Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/2). Today’s Iowa Caucuses for GOP candidates, the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian leadership, college and pro holiday sports action and 2011 retrospectives were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Merlin Media Enters the Philly Market. The Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media is not deterred by slow starts in New York and Chicago and will bring what many suspect is an all-news FM outlet to Philadelphia after agreeing to buy Family Stations Inc.’s class B WKDN-FM, Camden, New Jersey. Merlin announces in a release that it is searching for radio pros with the line – “Merlin Media is now actively looking for staff that can pronounce Schuylkill, Wissahickon, Manayunk, Tredyffrin, Gwynedd, Pennsauken and Bryn Mawr.” If Merlin does go with a news format, CBS Radio’s KYW is currently news leader in Philly topping the recent Arbitron PPM for November with a cume of more than 1 million and a 7.4 AQH (persons 6+). The sale price has not been announced. Harold Camping’s Family Stations Inc. recently agreed to sell WBGR-FM, Annapolis, Maryland to CBS Radio which will debut an FM news station there in the New Year. The price for that station was $8.5 million and although there’s no official word on the price Merlin is paying for WKDN, reports are circulating it’s in the $22 million neighborhood.
Cumulus Media Networks Names Gary McNamara and Eric Harley New Co-Hosts for “Red Eye Radio.” This is a consolidation of two late-night radio shows owned by Cumulus Media: the “Red Eye Radio” show founded by talk host Doug McIntyre and the WBAP, Dallas-based “Midnight Radio Network” (known to many fans over the years as the “Midnight Trucking Radio Network”) program hosted by Eric Harley and Gary McNamara. Cumulus SVP of affiliate sales and broadcast operations Dennis Green says, “Adding Eric and Gary to our versatile lineup of talk programming is a fantastic opportunity for the network and provides two dynamic personalities to our affiliates. This is another daypart where we can offer high-quality solutions to stations looking for relevant content that connects with local audiences. We truly appreciate the road map Doug has created for delivering overnight listener engagement with ‘Red Eye Radio’ and we’re proud that he will continue to be part of our company.” The company isn’t prepared to say what McIntyre’s new duties will be but reiterates he will remain with Cumulus. He also hosts the 5:00 am to 6:00 am hour on WABC, New York. The combined affiliate bases will put the new “Red Eye Radio” program on about 150 affiliates and airs live from 1:00 am to 6:00 am Monday through Sunday beginning January 3, 2012.
Courtside Entertainment Group/Dial Global’s “Loveline” Adds Simone Bienne to Show. The long-running “Loveline” late-night radio show co-hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky and Mike Catherwood adds British sex and relationship therapist Simone Bienne to the program. Bienne works with Pinsky on the CW Network program “Life Changers.” Courtside Entertainment Group managing partner Norm Pattiz says of the addition, “Since taking over the program six months ago, we have committed ourselves to increasing its audience and broadening its appeal while maintaining its edgy, entertaining and irreverent approach. ‘Loveline’ is an advice show like no other and the addition of Simone will help us reach more stations, more advertisers and more audience.” Courtside produces the program and Dial Global is the exclusive distributor and national ad sales rep. It airs live Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET.
NBC O&O TV Stations to Partner with Non-Profit News Organizations. According to the Los Angeles Times, in an effort for Comcast to show federal regulators it is committed to strengthening local and public-interest programming after its acquisition of NBCUniversal, some 10 major market NBC TV O&Os will partner with non-profit news organizations for enterprise and analytical reporting. One example is KNBC-TV, Los Angeles working with Southern California Public Radio to use stories produced by each other and, in some cases, working with each other on stories. A similar arrangement is being started between WCAU-TV, Philadelphia and WHYY, Philadelphia. The Times story notes the model for this is a relationship between KNSD-TV, San Diego and the internet news organization Voice of San Diego which have been sharing content for some time. KNSD-TV pays Voice of San Diego $3,700 per month. It’s not clear how much money will change hands – if any – in the new deals described above.
Southern California Talkers Invited to Attend Nathan Pacheco Performance. Those who attended the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum were treated to a surprise appearance by Disney Pearl Records rising international superstar Nathan Pacheco, whose lunchtime performance of “Nessun Dorma” was received with a thunderous standing ovation. The young opera singer has been gathering worldwide attention and acclaim with the current release of a single, “O Holy Night,” performed with British star Katherine Jenkins, a forthcoming album release produced by Leo-Z (Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli), and numerous concert and television appearances. TALKERS has just learned that this exciting artist will be performing a concert titled “Home for the Holidays” at the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles on the evening of Sunday, December 18 and Disney Pearl Records would like to make tickets to this special event available to attendees of the recent LARTF. The first five LARTF attendees who contact Larry Harris at 360-417-8138 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org will each receive a pair of free tickets to this wonderful concert. This offer is only appearing this morning (12/7) on this TALKERS headlines report — so act quickly. If you did not see Nathan Pacheco at the Talkers event check out a video of “The Making of Nessun Dorma” at http://nathanpacheco.com/videos.php.
2012 GOP Candidates, Trump-Moderated Debate, President Obama’s Kansas Address and Euro Zone Debt Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/6). The field of Republican candidates for president, the proposed Donald Trump-moderated GOP debate, President Obama’s national address from Kansas and the ongoing Euro Zone debt crisis were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.