Eyes (and Ears!) on News/Talk Radio as Recent Ratings Trends Spur Criticism. As the September PPM data continues to roll out, industry watchers and mainstream media writers and analysts are scrutinizing talk radio’s numbers – as well as its programming. Citing a perceived slow-but-steady decline in ratings for the news/talk format in general, critics are wondering if the political “right-versus-left” programming philosophy has become tiresome to all but the staunchest news/talk radio fans and is resulting in the generally lower numbers in Nielsen Audio’s PPM and diary ratings. Some high-profile cases have been cited, including KFI, Los Angeles’ decline in 6+ PPM ratings over the past year from being one of the country’s best-performing news/talk stations in one of America’s most vibrant markets. Just today (10/2), Chicago media writer Robert Feder writes about the state of Cumulus Media’s WLS, Chicago and its declining place in the ratings race. The reasons for the states of these stations are open to analysis – including, but not limited to, the possibility that Nielsen Audio’s PPM methodology is less than perfect – and could easily vary from market to market. When talking ratings, what are usually not included in the recent criticism of news/talk as a format are: the #1 showing for Cox Media’s WSB-AM, Atlanta (which carries the oft-maligned Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity); Cumulus’ WMAL, Washington’s rise in the September PPM; CBS Radio’s high-flying KMOX, St. Louis; Bonneville’s steady-performing KIRO-FM, Seattle; Cox’s WOKV, Jacksonville; and the two Milwaukee news/talk outlets that have consistently performed as two of the top six stations over the last year – Clear Channel’s WISN and Journal’s WTMJ. Constant awareness and analysis of the sound and perception of one’s stations are the hallmarks of good operators and effective programmers should care about how the format is perceived. But discovering what’s “wrong” with a format or a station is not easy and not always possible given the limited information available. In the words of TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “The first people out there ready to proclaim news/talk radio as being dead are usually people who see the world primarily through a political lens who disagree with the ideology of the hosts they dislike. Political news/talk radio is cyclical and will always come back from the brink when there’s inevitably a new chapter in contemporary issues. Regardless, the good thing that hopefully will come out of this ratings down-tick will be some of the major operators giving consideration to different forms of talk and even news/talk that are just being ignored. There are so many potential ways of doing ‘talk radio’ it is crazy for so many stations to bunch up around one predominant style. Everyone should spread out and claim and develop new territory on the spectrum of possibilities.” This topic will be one of those addressed at the Talkers Los Angeles 2013 conference taking place next Thursday, October 10 at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.
Nielsen Begins Synergies; Sean Creamer and Debra Delman to Exit Ratings Giant. Nielsen responded quickly to TALKERS last week after we reported that the “$20 million in synergies” the company hopes to realize with the acquisition of the former Arbitron would cost jobs. The company stated it had “no plans to reduce headcount at this time.” Perhaps that applies to the rank and file and not the executive strata because it’s now being reported that former Arbitron CEO Sean Creamer and CFO Debra Delman will leave Nielsen at the end of the year. Though Nielsen has not released a statement about the changes, it’s expected that other executives may also be headed for the door. Both Creamer, Delman and most of the other high-level execs who might follow the two have clauses in their contracts that will give them very nice golden parachutes. Creamer could realize almost $7 million in total compensation and Delman’s take is just shy of $2 million.
ESPN Deportes Radio Extends NFL Deal. Sports giant ESPN reports that its ESPN Deportes Radio unit has reached a new multi-year agreement for media rights to the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 National Football League seasons. Under the agreement, the network will have exclusive Spanish-language rights to Monday Night Football, the 2013-2014 National Football Conference Playoffs, the 2014 Super Bowl, 2015 Pro Bowl and the 2014-2015 American Football Conference Playoffs. ESPN Deportes Radio general manager Oscar Ramos says, “We’re incredibly excited to add NFL to our diverse roster of programming. U.S. Hispanics are becoming avid NFL fans and this new deal allows us to deliver the content they want in the language they prefer.”
MEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: Diane Warren and Jean Robinson - MMTC Media Brokers (run by Bounceology). In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media brokers Diane Warren and Jean Robinson of MMTC Media Brokers (run by Bounceology) located in San Antonio, Texas. MMTC Media Brokers specializes in locating properties and selling them to potential minority, multicultural and women buyers. In addition to telling their fascinating story, they share several outstanding opportunities that they have among their listings that would be of interest to first-time buyers. To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, please click here.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer Featured on SiriusXM ‘Town Hall.’ CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer (left) recently took part in SiriusXM’s “Town Hall” series for a Q&A with SiriusXM personality Pete Dominick (right). The program will be aired on Friday, October 4 on its Indie channel. The conversation – which took place before an audience of SiriusXM listeners – covered financial markets, fiscal trends, the economic state of the nation, and the story of Cramer’s personal road from hedge fund manager to popular CNBC host. Dominick is a stand-up comedian who has opened up for Cramer on his “Mad Money Back to School Tour.”
Two Weeks in a Kennel Reaps Rewards for KIDO’s Kevin Miller. KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller (right) is pictured here with ASPCA senior director Tami McReynolds (left) and Canyon County Animal Shelter director Barb Hutchinson (center) showing off the check for $35,000 the CCAS received after Miller helped get more than 300 animals adopted. To achieve that and win the $35,000 prize, Miller spent two weeks living in a makeshift kennel from which he broadcast his morning program. The contest is national in scope and – with Miller’s help – the CCAS is the only shelter to win the prize twice.
Government Shutdown, ObamaCare Enrollment Begins, Scrapped Hillary Clinton Programs, U.S.-Iran Relations, and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/1). The battle between the GOP and the Obama Administration and the government shutdown; the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act begins; two television projects on the life of Hillary Clinton are scrapped; possible diplomatic relations between Iran and the U.S. and the former’s nuclear program; and the effects of the government shutdown on the U.S. financial markets 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.
By Holland Cooke
Talk Radio consultant
Here’s why I predicted Cain’s success oh-so-publicly at the recent Arbitron Client Conference:
WGN, Chicago Revamps Program Schedule; Milt Rosenberg Out After 39 Years. The 87-year-old host of “Extension 720” will do his last program for Tribune’s WGN, Chicago on Thursday evening. In announcing its new programming schedule set to take effect on January 2, the station is eliminating Milt Rosenberg’s “Extension 720” program that began in 1973. New to the schedule will be a late evening show featuring former WLS-AM night host Turi Ryder who’ll broadcast from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. Other changes include a later start for Jonathon Brandmeier’s morning show – 6:00 am to 10:00 am – and a split shift for midday personality Mike McConnell who’ll host the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot and the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot. In between, the station adds “The Noon Show” hosted by author Carol Roth. Roth is a business strategist and former investment banker who frequently contributes to the topics of business and entrepreneurship on Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business, and WGN TV. As for Rosenberg, he tells Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder he has no hard feelings toward the people at WGN, “It’s certainly amicable as far as my relations with the people I deal with. There’s been no particular bad feeling, no insults, no shouting.” And Rosenberg indicates he’ll seek other opportunities to continue his radio career, perhaps with other spoken-word stations in the market.
Consolidation Hits the Ratings Industry; Nielsen to Acquire Arbitron. Consolidation is not for radio stations only. Today, Nielsen Holdings N.V. announces it will begin the process of buying Arbitron Inc. through the acquisition of the outstanding common stock of Arbitron for $48 per share in cash, representing a premium of approximately 26% to Arbitron’s closing price on December 17, 2012. Nielsen has a financing commitment for the total transaction amount. The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory review. Nielsen had tried to compete with Arbitron in the radio ratings business in the United States in the past but shut down that effort after minimal success gaining enough subscribers to make the project profitable. Clearly, Nielsen sees value in the radio ratings business as Nielsen chief executive officer David Calhoun states, “U.S. consumers spend almost two hours a day with radio. It is and will continue to be a vibrant and important advertising medium. Arbitron will help Nielsen better solve for unmeasured areas of media consumption, including streaming audio and out-of-home. The high level of engagement with radio and TV among rapidly growing multicultural audiences makes this central to Nielsen’s priorities.” With cross-platform marketing becoming so important Nielsen sees this acquisition as completing a part of that puzzle for marketers in the U.S. In a statement, Nielsen says – with Arbitron assets – it intends to further expand its “Watch” segment’s audience measurement across screens and forms of listening. “These integrated, innovative capabilities will enable broader measurement of consumer media behavior in more markets around the world,” says Steve Hasker, Nielsen president of Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions. ”We will also bring local clients greater visibility to empower more precise advertising placement and campaign effectiveness.”
KKLA, Los Angeles Host Frank Pastore Dies After Motorcycle Accident. The 55-year-old former MLB pitcher and talk host on Salem Communications’ Christian talk outlet KKLA, Los Angeles died after going into cardiac arrest on Monday, December 17. He had been in a coma for several weeks after being involved in a motorcycle accident on the 210 freeway near Los Angeles. Salem Communications president David Santrella issued the following statement: “Frank has been an integral part of KKLA for nine years as our afternoon talk host and, in many ways, as a Salem ambassador to the Christian community in Southern California. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gina Pastore, their family and the KKLA family at this time.”
Beasley’s WQAM, Miami Inks Joe Rose to Contract Extension. Morning drive sports talk host Joe Rose – The Big Dog – signs a contract extension with Beasley Broadcasting to remain in the AM drive seat on WQAM for the next three years. The former Miami Dolphins tight end joined WQAM’s morning show in 1992. He also serves as color commentator for the Dolphins radio broadcasts as well as sports anchor for WTVJ-TV, Miami “NBC 6.” Beasley Miami VP/GM Joe Bell states, “Joe Rose is the gold standard for athletes who become broadcasters. He had a seven-year NFL career, but as good as he was, his broadcast career has eclipsed what he accomplished in the NFL. Joe is an easy listen…he’s the guy next door that you can talk sports with over the backyard fence. He has become the face of WQAM and we’re proud and excited to have him on board through 2015.”
TALKERS Presents Massive Four Month News/Talk Radio PPM Overview. As a follow up to yesterday’s (12/17) analysis by Mike Kinosian about how the non-stop, dramatic events of the past six weeks have presented radio, in general, and news/talk radio, specifically, with the challenge and opportunity to process an enormous amount of compelling material, TALKERS presents a PPM overview of some 140 stations leading up to and including this period. Reflecting on the format’s extremely dramatic November (2012) survey, where more than seven of 10 stations in our large sample were either up or steady (6+), compared to their October stats. Stations qualified to appear in this multi-faceted recap by ranking within the top 20 (6+) in any of Arbitron’s 48 PPM-measured markets (November 2012). Talk has the distinction of being the lone format to have at least one station in the top 20 of all 48 PPM markets. To see the survey please click here.
Rick Ucchino Named Sports Anchor at Blue Chip’s Soon-to-Be Sports WCFN, Cincinnati. When Blue Chip Broadcasting’s WCFN, Cincinnati flips to sports on January 2, local sports talk personality Rick Ucchino will serve as the station’s full-time sports anchor. WCFN will air the CBS Sports Radio Network programming when the new radio network debuts. Whether the station will carry all of the network programming is unknown at this time. Ucchino currently serves at Christian Broadcasting System’s crosstown WQRT “Real Talk 1160” hosting the afternoon drive program. In a Facebook announcement, Ucchino says, “As some of you might know, MOJO 100.3 is flipping to an all new CBS Sports station starting January 2nd. And I am happy to announce that I have officially accepted an offer to become their full-time morning sports anchor! I am grateful for the opportunities ‘Real Talk 1160’ has given me over the years but I am excited for the next chapter of my career!”
Doug Meehan Exits WTKK, Boston for TV Gig. It’s tempting to read into WTKK, Boston afternoon drive host Doug Meehan’s departure from the station as being related to rumors Greater Media plans to flip the station from talk to a music format in the near future, but there’s no indication that’s the case. Meehan, who took over the PM drive slot in 2011 and served as a TV traffic reporter and general assignment reporter at Fox 25 in Boston prior to that, is leaving the station to pursue a “major-market television opportunity” that he’ll announce soon. While Greater Media has been registering domain names that could indicate a flip to any number of music – or even sports – formats, the company has simply stated it is always considering programming options for its stations.
NBC/Dial Global Lays Out Weekend Schedule. The new NBC Sports Radio network announces its weekend programming schedule that affiliate stations will air beginning Saturday, January 5. The Dial Global-NBC Sports Group initiative is already offering “The Safety Blitz with Rodney Harrison” and now announces the rest of the weekend lineup. It includes the following talent: Brian Webber of NFL Network’s “NFL AM” morning show, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports, and Clay Travis, NBC Sports contributor and owner/contributor of OutKicktheCoverage.com. Also suiting up for the NBC Sports Radio weekends team is Newy Scruggs, sports director and on-air personality at NBC-5 Dallas/Ft. Worth and formerly of 105.3 The Fan, Dallas; Jason Page, recently withESPN Radio New York, among other stops, and Anita Marks, part ofthe New York Giants TV/Radio broadcast team and formerly of SportsRadio 105.7 The Fan, Baltimore. Plus, NBC Sports Radio update anchor Jon Stashower, formerly of ESPN Radio, adds a Sunday morning show and NBC Sports’ Rob Simmelkjaer will also host a weekend show. Other contributors to the programming will include: Hines Ward, Stan Van Gundy, Michelle Beadle, Amani Toomer, and Doug Flutie. The network has already launched late night and overnight shows and says it will launch the rest of its weekday 6:00 am to 7:00 pm lineup on Monday, April 1, 2013.
Gow-Yahoo! to Offer Bob Costas Programs. The Gow Broadcasting-operated Yahoo! Sports Radio network is offering affiliate stations two programs featuring Bob Costas. The first is a weekly “Costas Coast to Coast” program culled from the archives of the syndicated radio show that aired from 1986 to 1996. Yahoo! Sports Radio CEO David Gow states, “Bob is universally regarded as one of the top sports journalists. The ‘Costas Coast-to-Coast’ shows offer timeless content delivered in Bob’s inimitable style. We are thrilled to offer these very special programs to our growing number of affiliate radio stations.” The second program is a vignette titled “Stars and Stories” and is best-of content from his interviews over the years. Gow has secured the licensing of this programming via Olympia Networks.
Odds & Sods. Content aggregator TuneIn offers the 24 college bowl games being played this season and being broadcast by ESPN Radio…..WFED, Washington, DC morning drive host Francis Rose sits in for WYD Media nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish on his program on December 24 and 31.
KIRO-FM, Seattle Raises $500,000-Plus for Local Foster Kids. During its 24th Annual Holiday Magic Radiothon, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM helped raise more than $500,000 to assist foster children in the Treehouse program. The money raised will help provide each child in the program with one significant holiday gift along with support for programs and services throughout the year. Treehouse serves 6,000 foster kids each year through programs that help them succeed in school, fulfill key material needs, and provide important childhood experiences every child deserves. Bonneville Seattle VP/market manager Carl Gardner says, “The KIRO Radio community has stepped up once again We’re so grateful to have listeners and partners who care and stand ready to help wherever there’s a need.” Pictured here are PM drive hosts Ron and Don manning the radiothon mics on Wednesday, December 12.
Newtown Massacre, U.S. Gun Laws, ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Syria/Egypt Instability, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/17). The aftermath of the Newtown school massacre; debate over gun laws in the United States; the political fight in Washington over solving the “fiscal cliff” problem; continued violence and instability in Syria and Egypt; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio across the country, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Don Wade and Roma Won’t Return to WLS, Chicago; Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft to AM Drive. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder broke the news late yesterday that longtime morning drive duo Don Wade and his wife Roma won’t return to the air at Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM, Chicago as they continue to focus on Don’s health. Wade had surgery in September to remove a cancerous brain tumor and treatment for the condition continues. In a statement via agent Eliot Ephriam, the couple said, “The daily stress of rising each day at midnight to prep for our 5:00 am show does not help the healing process. So we are choosing a different path and focusing on what’s really important for us right now.” Late morning hosts Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft have been filling in since Wade’s surgery and were permanently named to the AM drive post yesterday. Weekenders Jake Hartford and John Kass have been subbing in Wolf and Proft’s 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot and they assume the permanent roles there. Feder reports Cumulus COO John Dickey visited Chicago recently to meet with Ephriam about the Wades and was keen to get them back on the air. It’s widely believed that Don and Roma were a profitable program for WLS due to the high number of endorsement spots the show carried. In a statement, Dickey said, “Don and Roma are Chicago, and 27 years waking Chicago up is an amazing feat. The focus and strength it takes to do live radio every day on one of the world’s biggest stages will serve Don well as he continues to heal. We wish Don and Roma the best and will always keep a mic open for them.”
Todd Schnitt Exiting WFLA, Tampa? Not So Fast…Nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt – whose program is distributed by Compass Media Networks and since its inception in 2002 has been based at Clear Channel’s WFLA in Tampa – will remain based at WFLA after all. Schnitt had recently announced a deal with Clear Channel to remain in the PM drive slot there had not been achieved. But now, Schnitt and the company have come to terms. Clear Channel announces it has signed Schnitt to a new multi-year contract for his “top-rated” program. CC vice president of programming for Tampa Doug Hamand states, “We are thrilled to extend our relationship with Todd Schnitt and ‘The Schnitt Show.’” He is a staple of the community in Tampa Bay, broadcasting for more than 19 years with 11 of those on WFLA.” Schnitt gave up his AM drive CHR show on sister WFLZ (on which he was M.J. Kelli) earlier this year to focus on the PM drive talk show. On his new contract, Schnitt says, “I’m thrilled to announce my new, multi-year deal with Clear Channel Tampa. 970 WFLA has been The Schnitt Show’s home for 11 years. I really appreciate the outpouring of support from my loyal listeners.”
Programmer Alan Furst Heads to Radio One’s All-News KROI, Houston. Current WIBC-FM, Indianapolis PD Alan Furst is leaving the Emmis news/talker and heading back to Texas to program Radio One’s all-news KROI, Houston “News 92 FM.” Radio One flipped the station to all-news in the late summer of 2011 and it has been programmed by consultant Ed Shane and Radio One executive programmers. Furst, who has worked in Houston and previously worked with Ed Shane’s consulting firm, says he’s excited to get back. “I’m thrilled to return to Houston and join ‘News 92 FM.’ Radio One has put together a great team and the energy in the building is electric. We’re going to build something very big and very special that will become a force in the nation’s fourth largest city.”
Baseball Stations: Plan Now for Spring Training. Radio consultant Holland Cooke says that too few stations that carry their local MLB team establish a presence at their team’s Spring Training facility. “Smart baseball stations are cheerleaders, and really smart baseball stations start cheering a month before Opening Day, when every team is in 1st place.” Cooke writes that there are (at least) five very good reasons for jumping on this before the regular season starts, including some documented ratings upticks for stations that do get on board during Spring Training. Read his entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Spanish-speaking New York Mets fans will be served by ESPN O&O station “ESPN Deportes Nueva York 1050 AM” (WEPN) as the station will broadcast 150 regular season games, select exhibition season games and (should the unlikely happen) postseason games, in Spanish. ESPN New York’s David Roberts states, “Our commitment to serving the Hispanic sports fan is a top priority for our company. We are delighted to join forces with the Mets organization for this comprehensive and wide reaching opportunity.”…..CBS Radio O&O all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will begin airing the audio of CBS Television’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday, December 16. SVP/market manager Steve Swenson states, “Each week, CBS News and ’60 Minutes’ bring to life incredible investigative pieces, interviews, and features that are renowned all across the world. Many local residents find themselves in a car traveling home on Sunday evenings not able to watch the program on WUSA-9. With this simulcast we can provide listeners with access to their favorite news program.”….. Actor, author, former “Dancing with the Stars” champ and retired U.S. Army soldier, J.R. Martinez, ventures into the world of talk radio as he fills in from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm today on KFI, Los Angeles for the vacationing Bill Carroll.
Are You Prepared for the End of the World? No, the editors of TALKERS do not actually believe that next Friday, December 21 will be the end of the world, regardless of what the Mayan calendar says or doesn’t say – or where the sun will be in relationship to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. But we DO believe that this topic will be one of great interest next week in terms of pop cultural fodder and will be in the news in a variety of ways that will run from the serious to the silly, encompassing science (astronomy), parapsychology (astrology), history, politics and conspiracy theory – all of which make for juicy entertainment. According to well-known radio-friendly psychic healer Kathleen Milner, the coming long-anticipated date will NOT mark the end of the world, but rather the end of a dark age in human events and the beginning of a golden one. Talk show hosts and music format morning gabbers should be prepared for the end of the world by booking people like Ms. Milner and others to spice up on-air conversation. After all it is a once every 26,000 years opportunity! Kathleen Milner can be phoned at 571-926-8158. For more information click here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Kate Delaney’s independently syndicated “America Tonight” program is added to the program schedule at KSCB, Liberal, Kansas.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ the Top Story on News/Talk Radio for Fourth Straight Week. The battle in Washington over solving the “fiscal cliff” issue was the most-talked-about-story on news/talk radio during the week of December 10-14, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was the Michigan “right to work” law controversy. At #3 was the Portland mall shootings followed by North Korea’s rocket test at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.
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.
Bomb Scare Empties CBS Radio Los Angeles for More Than Two Hours. The Wilshire Boulevard studios of CBS Radio’s Los Angeles stations, including all-news KNX and news/talk KFWB were evacuated from about 8:15 am to 10:45 am PT this morning after a promotional clock sent to the station raised suspicions, sent the staff into precautionary mode that brought police and medical personnel to the scene. According to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan KNX and K-Earth simulcast sister all-news station in San Francisco, KCBS/740 AM. The other stations switched to alternative programming from servers. Shortly before the all-clear was given, KNX returned to the air full-time from emergency studios on the Paramount Studios lot.
WLS, Chicago’s Don Wade to Undergo Brain Surgery. The morning duo of Don Wade and his wife Roma have been off the air at Cumulus Media’s WLS, Chicago for the past week and now Chicagoans know why. The 71-year-old WLS AM drive host suffered a seizure on September 13 while in New York for his daughter’s wedding. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports Wade will have the surgery to remove a growth from his brain during an operation scheduled for this Thursday and the duo will remain off the air for the next four to six weeks. In the meantime, late-morning hosts Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft will sub on the morning show and Jake Hartford and John Kaas will host the 9:00 am to 11:00 am program.
Northern California Hosts Armstrong & Getty Dive into Islam Controversy. KSTE, Sacramento-based morning drive hosts Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are putting out a call for not less but more criticism of Islam and the prophet Muhammad on the internet — in a move that runs contrary to the wishes of the Obama Administration. Jack Armstrong, responding to the riots and violence in the Muslim world in response to the short film titled, “Innocence of Muslims,” said on the program, “The only response to this is to flood YouTube and flood the world with cartoons, movies and songs saying bad things about Muhammad until they finally grow up. In other words, free speech.” He questions why the U.S. government is spending money airing ads with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton denouncing the video. “I’m horribly disappointed that there are not thousands of Muhammad mocking videos out there on YouTube right now.”
Journal Broadcast Group Promotes Jeff Falconio to Full Time on WTMJ, Milwaukee. Jeff Falconio has been hosting the “Wisconsin Sports Weekend” show on Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee. Now, he’s upped to a full-time position with the station taking over for Trenni Kusnierek (who left for a TV gig at Comcast SportsNet Boston) beginning October 1. Falconio will handle sports anchor duties on the PM drive show on WTMJ and co-host the evening “Sports Central” program with Greg Matzek. In a statement, program director Joe Scialfa says, “We are excited to have Jeff join the sports department in a full-time capacity. Jeff has been a regular fixture covering Wisconsin sports for 15 years. His passion for sports and knowledge of our Wisconsin teams make him the perfect person to continue the strong WTMJ sports tradition.”
More Staff Layoffs at Merlin Media’s Chicago Offices. According to a report in Chicagoland Radio and Media, Merlin Media let go of most of the rest of its off-air staff that had been working at WIQI “FM News 101.1” prior to its return to a music format in July. The site reports writers, reporters and producers Brad Robinson, Safa Eshmawy, Sarah Engel, James Edwards, Michael Cronin, Megan Buckley, Shannon Beverly and Shannon Ward were all released from their positions on Friday, September 21.
WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Announces Weekend Program for Belinda Skelton. The nationally syndicated Neal Boortz program – emanating from Cox Media’s news/talk giant WSB-AM/FM – is produced by Belinda Skelton (who calls it the “perfect job”). Now Skelton will put her interest (and degree) in interior design and more into play as she hosts “Belinda Skelton’s Atlanta Lifestyles” beginning in January. Cox Media Atlanta market manager Ben Reed defines the show: “Think of Pinterest, Martha Stewart or the Oprah brand where lifestyle can be defined by everything from food, wine and design to family, entertainment, and local events.” On the new show, Skelton says, “I can’t think of something more perfect for me than this show. This speaks to my core being and everything that excites me!” Although Neal Boortz is retiring from full-time radio work in the new year, Skelton will remain his executive producer managing his daily commentary, appearances, and guest hosting duties.
Odds & Sods. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive talk host Simon Conway fills in this Wednesday through Friday for Premiere Networks’ “America Now with Andy Dean.”…..Talk radio pioneer Bruce Williams, who has been hosting a pre-produced program on the internet via his Made in America Broadcast Network, announces he’ll begin hosting live shows from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET starting tomorrow (9/26) and running for “a couple of weeks.”
NBC Radio’s “Miss Monitor” Dies at 89. Dorothy Ruth “Tedi” Thurman passed away in Palm Springs, California at age 89 on Saturday, September 22. Thurman was a model who came to fame as the sultry “Miss Monitor” on the old NBC Radio Network. She held that position doing the weather from 1957 to 1961. She also was featured as the weather girl on “The Tonight Show” with Jack Paar beginning in 1957.
CNN Stevens Diary Controversy, Obama ‘View’ Appearance, Ahmadinejad Speaks at UN, and Presidential Polls Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/24). The controversy over CNN’s reporting from the journal of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens after telling his family it would wait for permission; President Obama’s planned appearance on ‘The View’; Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the United Nations; and the latest in presidential contest polls were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Heidi Harris Named Morning Drive Host at Salem’s Re-Branded KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino. Salem Communications announces its Southern California news/talk outlets KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino are being re-branded “The Answer,” following the same plan recently instituted at the company’s WNYM, New York. At the same time, rising talk media star Heidi Harris joins the stations to serve as AM drive host. Harris, a Las Vegas native, most recently hosted the morning drive program at Beasley Broadcasting’s KDWN, Las Vegas. Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce says the new morning show and the new name and positioning will make both stations more competitive, with more attitude in the imaging and more opportunities to position the stations in their markets. “We have been using the name ‘The Answer’ in New York since March 12, and could not be happier with the response. The on-air attitude and positioning is much more positive and we decided we could do something similar for KRLA and KTIE. The addition of Heidi Harris to the morning show is a major investment in the future of these stations, so the timing was perfect to combine the new show with the re-branding effort.” Heidi Harris says of her new gig, “I am thrilled and excited to join Salem Communications, a company that has quickly become one of the most respected places to work in radio and a company with a huge commitment to what I do: the news/talk format. I can’t wait to get back on the radio and to do my thing in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire – two great markets for talk – and two great stations. With a teeny bit of talent, 13 years of busting my butt, and most importantly the Grace of God, I have landed my dream job.”
Florida’s Magic Broadcasting Buys Tallahassee Market WGWD-FM; Flips to News/Talk. Panama City, Florida-based Magic Broadcasting II announces it has completed the purchase of classic country WGWD-FM, Gretna, Florida (Tallahassee market) and will flip the station to news/talk today as “Talk Radio 93.3 FM” WGWD. CEO Don McCoy tells TALKERS magazine the station will feature state-syndicated talk hosts Burnie Thompson (12:00 noon to 3:00 pm) and Derrell Day (7:00 am to 10:00 am). Thompson’s guests on today’s program will include Governor Rick Scott, upcoming Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, Florida’s next Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, and U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Tallahassee). McCoy says the company is bringing “Florida’s year-round Town Hall right to the Capital City.” He calls the new format “live, local, fun and exciting! We’re focused on state programming as well as national issues …and always for Floridians.” The station will also air Talk Radio Network/Washington Times-produced “America’s Morning News,” TRN’s Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage and Rusty Humphries, Cox Media’s Neal Boortz and CBS Radio’s “Overnight America with Jon Grayson.”
WNYM, New York’s Curtis Sliwa Featured in New York Post Story About Fiancé and Children. Consummate New Yorker, Guardian Angels founder and talk media personality Curtis Sliwa is a local celebrity in New York but few knew of his home life until a piece in the New York Post this weekend shed light on that aspect of Sliwa’s life. The short version is that Sliwa and fiancé Melinda Katz plan to marry soon and continue raising their two sons – Carter and Hunter – in their Forest Hills, Queens home. Sixteen years ago Katz asked former boyfriend Sliwa for a sperm donation intending to raise any children she bore alone. While pregnant with Hunter, Katz developed complications and called Sliwa – out of her life for years at this point – and he came to her aid and the relationship grew from there. There’s far more to this human interest story featuring one of talk radio’s colorful characters. Read it here.
KBME, Houston Brings N.D. Kalu and Greg Koch Aboard for Mid-Morning Show. When former NFL players N.D. Kalu and Greg Koch left CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talk KILT last month, it was rumored the two might reappear at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s crosstown sports talk KBME. That has been confirmed. The two will host the 10:00 am to 11:00 am “In the Trenches with Koch and Kalu” beginning today (4/16). Koch and Kalu had been hosting a weekend program on KILT and served as commentators on other station programs. Kalu works in real estate in the Houston area and Koch is an attorney.
KOMO, Seattle Morning News Anchor Bill Yeend Retires. Pacific Northwest broadcaster Bill Yeend finished his last airshift at Fisher’s KOMO, Seattle on Friday and begins enjoying his retirement – and probably sleeping in for the first time in a long time – today. For the past 10 years, Yeend has co-anchored the morning news at KOMO with Manda Factor. Yeend began his career at rock KBBX-FM, Seattle in 1968 and moved to crosstown KIRO in 1970. There, he won five Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic excellence. Taking over at KOMO alongside Factor is KOMO sports reporter and Seattle Mariners public address announcer Tom Hutyler.
WLS, Chicago Changes Imaging Voices; Drops Jeff Davis and Brings Aboard Scott Fisher. Chicago radio fans are well aware of Jeff Davis’ history with Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS. He started with the station in 1974 when it was the big hit music outlet in the city. He remained with the station through the late 1980s. Davis has been the voice of the station for most of the last 20 years but Cumulus has decided to change the station’s imaging and chooses not to renew Davis’ contract and signs on with Scott Fisher Productions.
Sports KFNC-FM, Houston to Be Hawked at NAB. Station trustee and broker Larry Patrick of Maryland-based Patrick Communications tells the Houston Chronicle he will be actively looking for potential buyers for sports talk KFNC-FM, Houston and its sister Triple A KHJK-FM at this week’s NAB in Las Vegas. KFNC-FM is one of four Cumulus Media stations in the market that went through a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy deal to eliminate its debt and make it more attractive to potential buyers. The station is still operated by Cumulus Media but Patrick owns more than 75% of the station. According to Patrick, KFNC-FM boasted $2.4 million in ad sales in 2011. Patrick tells the paper, “The staff is aware of what is happening, and the former owner has every right to bid and buy the stations back. I’ve had inquiries from five or six people and I think there will be real interest.”
Dave Graveline in Croatia. That’s “Into Tomorrow” talk host Dave Graveline (l) and producer Rob Almanza (r) standing on the (usually) sunny Adriatic coastline of Croatia. Graveline and Almanza are there producing the weekend consumer electronics show while Graveline serves as moderator of the Global Press Conference for IFA – that’s the big Consumer Electronics & Appliance show that he broadcasts from in Berlin every September.
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.
Surprise Cuts Across the Board at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. In the past when Clear Channel or other big broadcasters have made sweeping reductions in their workforces there have been hints they were coming. This one seems to have surprised industry watchers. Clear Channel vice president Angel Aristone released the following statement about the cuts. “We are constantly evaluating our organization and structure to make sure we are as well positioned as possible to continue to lead in the evolving marketplace. We’ve been looking closely at our business to ensure that we are properly staffed and operating as efficiently as possible with the right balance of services and personnel to meet the needs of our listeners/consumers. Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company and that creates some new jobs, and unfortunately eliminates others. In the process, some employees were affected. These are never easy decisions to make; we thank them for their service and wish them all the best for the future.” This round of cuts affected mostly mid-sized markets including Columbus, Jacksonville, Nashville, Cincinnati, Portland, Louisville, West Palm Beach and Minneapolis. There was also a restructuring of the company’s Total Traffic operation. Some of the folks from the news and talk formats ousted include: WTAM, Cleveland weekend host Bob Becker; WTOK, Oklahoma City news director Jerry Bohnen; WISN, Milwaukee producer Jason Booth; WPOP, Hartford producer Richard Cooke; WTVN, Columbus news staffer Matt Demczyk; KEX, Portland news staffer Jeff Kirsch; KEX, Portland news anchor Mary Loos; WTOK, Oklahoma City talk host Greg Moore; WLAC, Nashville program director Tom Peace; and WTVN, Columbus sports anchor Dan Watson.
Cumulus Media Ousts Michael Damsky from WLS, Chicago President/GM Post. Cumulus Media COO John Dickey flew into Chicago to deliver the news to Michael Damsky in person that the company is “going in a different direction.” Damsky was brought on board by Citadel in the fall of 2008 as director of sales and promoted to GM in 2010 and charged with turning around news/talk WLS and sister classic hits WLS-FM. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports he was apparently largely successful but also notes that both sales and ratings have declined over the past six months since Cumulus took over the former Citadel stations. Damsky is quoted saying, “I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in three-and-a-half years. When I took over as general manager, WLS-AM was without direction. We brought in great talent and worked hard to showcase them. And WLS-FM withstood the attack of a serious competitor a year ago and is stronger now than ever before.” Cumulus has not named a successor for Damsky.
Former Clear Channel Exec Dave Crowl Hired by Cumulus. Dave Crowl will be based out of Cumulus’ Chicago offices as he comes aboard to take the regional vice president post in which he’ll oversee operations and sales in the Midwest region. Crowl served as senior VP of operations with Clear Channel until being let go in a surprise restructuring of executives in May of last year.
Tom Leykis Preps Fans for Monday Return. Monday, April 2 will mark the return of Tom Leykis to a regularly scheduled talk program for the first time since CBS Radio blew up his home base of hot talk KLSX-FM, Los Angeles in February of 2009. Since that time, Leykis has been busy creating music programming and other content for the web via his company The New Normal. He’ll be broadcasting the new Tom Leykis program at 3:00 pm PT on the web on Monday. Leykis is streaming his show via a number of urls including his blowmeuptom.com. He’s signed with TuneIn for delivery to smartphones and tablets and will also offer archived and special content to premium subscribers, although he says the live show and repeats of the previous day’s show will remain available for free.
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Extends Deal with MLB’s Brewers. The story from the Journal-owned Milwaukee Journal Sentinel doesn’t give a lot of contract details but reports both the baseball club and WTMJ were very interested in continuing their relationship and the team wasn’t even interested in going out to bid when the contract expired. Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger tells the paper they had meetings with WTMJ management about the direction of the relationship, “The conversations were, I would say, spirited. We had a lot of thoughts, as they did, about what they wanted to see out of the relationship. It’s not just economics these days. There is a whole range of marketing, branding, programming, production and financial arrangements. From those discussions we found enough common ground that we were able to forge a new extension. It was somewhat of a different environment than the last time.”
KGMZ-FM, San Francisco Adds Giants Posey and Cain for Weekly Appearances. Entercom’s FM sports talker KGMZ-FM, San Francisco announces the regular weekly appearances of San Francisco Giants players Buster Posey and Matt Cain on the afternoon show “The Drive” with Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis. The Giant Connection will take place every Tuesday at 4:30 pm. Program director Jason Barrett states, “Buster Posey and Matt Cain will give San Francisco Giants fans the superstar perspective they crave, from the pitcher’s mound to behind home plate and definitely inside the clubhouse. They’ve made the switch to FM and we’re so proud to be the only radio station in the Bay Area where Giants fans can hear Buster and Matt talking Giants baseball.”
KILT, Houston Adds Texan Arian Foster for Weekly Show This Fall. Houston Texan Arian Foster will be heard on CBS Radio’s sports talk KILT this fall for his weekly radio show. He’s jumping from crosstown Yahoo! Sports-affiliated KGOW where he co-hosted the show last year with Bob Berger. Beginning in September, he’ll appear with Texans director of radio broadcasting Marc Vandermeer. KILT is the team’s flagship station. Foster’s Tuesday evening show is one of the media offerings the NFL team is programming and selling since its new deal with KILT in which the team takes its media programming and sales in house.
ObamaCare Supreme Court Arguments Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 26-30. This week’s Supreme Court hearings of arguments about the constitutionality of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. The issue landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-discussed stories and people on news/talk radio. At #2 this week was the Trayvon Martin case. At #3 was the GOP primary and the 2012 presidential campaign and at #4 was rising gas prices tied with President Obama’s attack on big oil. The Talkers TenTM chart is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
Support for Captured Soldier. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller recently broadcast live from a local Krispy Kreme store where more than 300 listeners stopped by to sign the giant birthday card (pictured here) for Hailey, Idaho native Bowe Bergdahl. Military authorities believe Bergdahl is still being held by the Taliban in Pakistan and he is believed to be the only POW from the Afghanistan conflict. Bergdahl made news late last year after reports of his attempted escape from captivity in late August or September of 2011. He was free for three days but was recaptured. Bergdahl was taken by the Taliban in June of 2009.
WLS, Chicago Receives $44k Notice of Apparent Liability for Improper Ad Content. The Cumulus Media news/talk station admitted to airing content during the spring of 2009 paid for by Workers Independent News in the form of 90-second spots, 15-second promotional announcements and several long-form programs. The issue was whether the content was properly identified as sponsored content. (The violation took place while WLS was still owned and operated by Citadel Broadcasting, which does not alleviate Cumulus of responsibility.) The text cited here by the commission illustrates the issue. In this newsy-sounding segment listeners heard: “Workers Independent News, I’m Doug Cunningham. As Federal Economic Stimulus dollars flow to Chicago, State Representative Joe Lyons says it’s more critical than ever that the State put together a capital bill to take maximum advantage of the stimulus to put Chicago back to work.” Cumulus argued the “Workers Independent News” phrase was sufficient to identify the content as paid for. The FCC disagreed saying, “Since the subject matter of the 11 announcements at issue related to a state legislative issue impacting the local economy of Chicago, it would not have been apparent to listeners from the announcements themselves that they were sponsored programming, even if commercial programming preceded and succeeded the 11spots. In addition, the name ‘Workers Independent News,’ content, format and duration of the announcements were not consistent with typical commercial matter.” The FCC levied a $4,000 fine for each of the 11 instances for a grand total of $44,000.
Beasley Broadcast Group Announces Net Income Gain. The news for Beasley was a mixed bag. During the fourth quarter of 2011 revenue was down by $1.8 million compared to the same quarter one year ago but a drop in interest expense allowed the company to realize a 1.7% gain in net income. In a statement, chairman and CEO George Beasley said, “Radio advertising remained relatively stable despite widespread economic concerns and volatility in the capital markets throughout the year. Importantly, during the fourth quarter and throughout 2011, we continued to make progress across the organization in enhancing operating efficiencies and maintaining a disciplined approach to spending. Overall, the industry recorded seven consecutive quarters of growth through the third quarter of 2011 which underscores our belief that radio remains both resilient and highly relevant in a digital world.” For Beasley, and most other radio operators for that matter, national business was the problem with a drop of almost 24%.
Talk Host Doc Thompson Out at WRVA, Richmond. The talk host who, until very recently was doing PM drive at Clear Channel’s WRVA, Richmond and the late morning show at the company’s WLW, Cincinnati, is not working at either after announcing Friday evening on his Facebook page he’s off WRVA. Thompson was let go from WLW – while on his honeymoon – as that station made changes to its lineup and now, eight days later, he loses his Richmond gig. Thompson is positive, though, writing: “I am no longer hosting my Richmond show. In the world of radio broadcasting… sometimes these things just happen. As I said earlier in the week it will all work out for the best and I am blessed.” Thompson and his new bride – WHIO-TV, Dayton reporter Yuna Lee – recently relocated to Ohio. They met while both working in Richmond and Lee found a reporter’s job in Ohio so the two could make the move to be closer to WLW.
Jason Jackson New Midday Host at WAXY, Miami. The Lincoln Financial Media sports talk station announces longtime Miami sports personality Jason Jackson hosts the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daily program on WAXY, Miami. Jackson is known in the market for his work at WSVN-TV and on Sun Sports coverage of the NBA’s Miami Heat in which he hosts pre-game, halftime and post-game shows as well as provides courtside analysis. Prior to his work with the Heat he worked for ESPN. WAXY program director Marc Hochman says, “Adding Jason Jackson to the lineup solidifies 790 The Ticket’s standing as the destination for outstanding sports talk radio in South Florida. Jason adds more strength to our existing lineup and bolsters our commitment to the highest quality of sports talk radio in South Florida.” Jackson takes over for “The Sports Brothers” – Ed Freeman and Jeff Fox.
Controversial Memphis Host Thaddeus Matthews Returns to Air After Battle with Licensee. Talk host and local political lightning rod Thaddeus Matthews leases WPLX, Memphis from owner Bill Pollack and Matthews’ recent, news-making on-air spat with Republican congressional candidate Charlotte Bergman was the incident that caused Pollack to shut off the transmitter on the afternoon of February 1. Matthews returned to the air Friday, February 2 after getting a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to force Pollack to turn the transmitter back on. The back story went viral via YouTube but here it is in a nutshell: Matthews was interviewing African-American Republican candidate Bergman on his show. When she didn’t answer questions to his liking, he lashed out at her in a raw, epithet-filled tirade and finally refused to shake her hand for fear her “whiteness might rub off” on him. WPLX is positioned as a blues station but Matthews’ talk show airs every afternoon. Matthews tells WHBQ-TV, Memphis his LMA includes and option to buy the station which he intends to do.
WLS, Chicago Puts Local TV News Brothers Together for Weekend Show. WLS, Chicago operations director Drew Hayes announces the debut of a new Sunday afternoon talk show co-hosted by local TV reporters Dan and Anthony Ponce. Anthony Ponce works at NBC O&O WMAQ-TV as a general assignment reporter while Dan Ponce is a general assignment reporter at Tribune’s WGN-TV. Dan also co-founded the nationally recognized a capella singing group Straight No Chaser. Together they will recap the top national and local stories and give listeners a chance to grade the media. “There’s always so much more to report beyond the time we have on TV. This is the perfect opportunity to tell the story behind the story,” says Dan. “We’re hoping to give listeners a peek into the world of Chicago journalism and hear their opinions about the week’s biggest stories and how they’re covered,” adds Anthony. Drew Hayes states, “Dan and Anthony have enormous energy, contacts and hands-on experience with Chicago’s biggest news stories which they combine with an organic sense of entertainment. More importantly, the Ponce Brothers bring an enthusiastic thirst for feedback giving WLS listeners a unique opportunity to talk back to the ‘news media.’”
CBS Radio Closes on Purchase from Family Stations Inc. Less than a week after firing up its all-news format on WNEW-FM, Washington, DC at 99.1 (licensed to Bowie, Maryland), CBS Radio closes on the station that made the format shift possible. CBS Radio bought WLWL-FM, Annapolis at 107.9 from Family Stations, Inc for a reported $8.5 million (CBS has not officially stated the purchase price) in November of last year. That allowed CBS to move its Spanish “El Zol” format to the 107.9 frequency and debut the all-news WNEW-FM on the 99.1 frequency.
Carolyn Polke Promoted to SVP of Digital at Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts. Glenn Beck’s production company, Mercury Radio Arts, announces Carolyn Polke is promoted to senior vice president of digital for the company she’s been with since 2006. She is responsible for the continued development and marketing of GBTV, GlennBeck.com and Mercury’s other e-commerce initiatives. Mercury president and COO Christopher Balfe says, “Mercury is leading the way in developing innovative digital platforms to connect with readers, viewers, and listeners around the globe. Carolyn is an incredibly talented leader and I’m thrilled to have her in charge of building and managing our most important products.” Polke works out of Mercury’s New York City headquarters.
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to Host Talk Show on RT Network. He’s reviled in some quarters and hailed as a hero of transparency in others and soon Australian national Julian Assange will be talking with “iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders” on a planned 10-program series produced and aired by the former Russia Today cable channel known as RT. The network boasts a worldwide audience of 430 million people. There is no announced start date for the program but Assange is currently under house arrest in Great Britain as he fights extradition to Sweden on sex crime charges.
Urban, Female-Targeted “Café Mocha” Program Inks Ads Sales Rep Agreement with Cumulus Media Networks. The two-year-old, weekend syndicated variety program is currently heard in 20 markets across the country. It’s co-hosted by Grammy-nominated artist MC Lyte, actress/comedienne Loni Love and broadcast pro Angelique Perrin. The show was created and is produced by Sheila Eldridge who says, “It’s an exciting time for us as we grow our various brand extensions and answer the requests of our listeners to be everywhere and to go mobile. Our new ‘Café Mocha To Go’ on-demand app has been a huge success, offering listeners’ uncut content, exclusive celebrity interviews, social commentary, on-demand music mixes by MC Lyte, and inspirational messages. Our goal is to expand the on-air experience for listeners and increase our global presence!” The show is a blend of urban music, interviews with celebrities and newsmakers, conversations and advice. It’s produced by Miles Ahead Broadcasting.
Clarification. Yesterday’s piece on Santita Jackson’s program at WVON, Chicago needs a bit of clarification. According to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder, Jackson’s late morning program has been off the station since December and she is working on developing a nationally syndicated program. Midway Broadcasting chairman and WVON GM Melody Spann Cooper tells Feder, “Santita’s goal is to have a national platform and I need some time to get over a little [financial] slump. When she rolls out on a national level, I will clear this market for her, let her use our studios and give her all the support I can give her.”
Gingrich-Romney Primary Battle, Obama State of the Union Aftermath and Euro Zone Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/25). The fierce battle between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for votes in next week’s Florida primary, analysis of President Obama’s State of the Union Address and revived concerns about the economic stability of the Euro Zone were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Critiquing talk radio talent in the modern era proves challenging as the role of the PD and structure
of the industry undergo massive changes
By Mike Kinosian
Special Features Correspondent
“This could hurt your feelings, but it is being said for your own good.”
Quite possibly even more so than ever and as hyperbolic as it may sound, a program director supremely performing duties as a motivating talent coach is worth his or her weight in gold, silver, bronze and platinum.
“Directing” is, of course, a derivative form of the program director title. Analyzing on-air personalities while simultaneously providing key components of constructive criticism, positive encouragement and guidance was once a basic calling card for anyone aspiring to be an upper-echelon programmer. To say it is a dying, if not lost, proficiency is the height of understatement. It is however clearly a two-way process, deeply rooted on a foundation of reciprocated trust. If or when that is shattered, progression for the two parties becomes tenuous at best.
Achieving the elusive goal of “success” can have its downsides since that particular nebulous description can lead one to think he or she is above any form of critique or direction – especially from someone they perceive to be a “lowly” program director. Chaos becomes the inevitable and seamy result.
Westwood One Founder Norm Pattiz Describes Beginnings of Westwood One. During his special remarks at last week’s historic Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20), Westwood One founder (and current CEO of Courtside Entertainment) Norm Pattiz shared the story of the early days of the ground breaking syndication firm that he started in one office in Westwood back in the late 1970s. Telling the packed house of talk media professionals that he launched the company with “$10,000 and a working wife,” Pattiz describes how his background as a well-connected former L.A. television sales manager served to bring sponsorships to packaged radio programs — thus shifting the network radio business model from a direct cash to barter system and opening the door to the tremendous growth that followed. He talks about Westwood One’s first show being an urban radio cross-over Motown special stating, “Being a television guy and not a radio guy, I didn’t know the rules of radio and if you don’t know the rules, you can’t be limited by them.” Pattiz’s speech can be seen exclusively on TALKERS TV. If you are using a mobile device, click here to view the video.
Cumulus Budget Ax Chops Through Chicago. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports Cumulus corporate dictates have taken a toll on the producer staff at news/talk WLS, Chicago and the programming and airstaff at sister oldies WLS-FM. Afternoon drive “Roe & Roeper” executive producer Jock Hedblade and “Don Wade & Roma” morning drive show producer Zack Christenson both have been let go along with WLS-FM program director Michael LaCrosse and Chris Papendick, producer of the Greg Brown PM drive show on WLS-FM. The other change includes operations director Drew Hayes remaining solely responsible for WLS and no longer overseeing WMAL, Washington as he has for the past several years. Bill Hess was recently promoted to PD at WMAL. Hayes’ oversight began when WMAL was without a programmer.
Q3 Reports: Arbitron Up; Journal’s Radio Bright Spot in Down Quarter. Arbitron reports third quarter revenue up 6.1% over the same period one year ago and states it expects revenue for the entire year to be up somewhere between 6% and 8%. During a conference call, Arbitron CEO Bill Kerr noted that the company’s completion of the rollout of the Portable People Meter in the 48 top radio markets helped the company achieve its goals. He also gave an update on the status of its Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement-sponsored project to develop a “single-source panel” for measuring TV, internet and mobile usage. Kerr says they expect to present their work to CIMM during the fourth quarter. At Journal Communications, while TV and publishing are languishing, radio has been pretty good to the Milwaukee-based company. Radio was up 2.7% year-over-year while the company posted a 4.4% loss overall for the quarter. Flagship news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee posted record ratings under the PPM as the station benefitted from the success of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, MLB’s Brewers and the recall elections across the state that brought in political dollars in a non-election year.
Michigan Sports Talker Sean Baligian Exits Clear Channel. The “Sean and Terp Show” aired in PM drive on Clear Channel’s WDFN, Detroit and was simulcast to Grand Rapids on WMAX-FM. With Baligian’s departure from the company, Ryan Terpstra continues to host the afternoon show on WMAX-FM, Grand Rapids and WDFN will feature a series of guest hosts as the station seeks its next permanent host for the daypart. Via Facebook, Baligian says farewell to fans and hopes to announce a new gig soon. The program was originally “Sean, Terp and Killer” and recently lost co-host Tom “Killer” Kowalski who died unexpectedly in August of heart failure at age 51.
Journal Names J. Pat Miller Promotion and Marketing Manager in Milwaukee. Journal Broadcast Group’s Milwaukee operations announces classic hits WLWK-FM midday host and program director J. Pat Miller moves to a new position as promotion and marketing manager for the company’s WLWK-FM and news/talk WTMJ. Journal states Miller “will work with the radio sales departments and programming teams to coordinate promotions, events and interactive platforms and will assume day-to-day oversight of the stations’ promotions department, as well.” Programmer John Roberts joins Journal to handle programming at WLWK-FM.
Town Hall Takes on Los Angeles. KRLA, Los Angeles’ sold out NTR event on Saturday evening (10/22) pulled a crowd of 1,400 into the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California. The Salem Communications station produced the annual “Town Hall” event that featured Salem Radio Network talk show hosts plus special guests. Pictured here (from l-r) are: SRN’s Mike Gallagher, columnist, author and pundit Ann Coulter, SRN’s Dennis Prager, KDWN, Las Vegas AM drive host Heidi Harris (who served as moderator for the program), and SRN personality Michael Medved. The panelists batted around the current hot news stories including the 2012 presidential race. They also fielded questions from the audience.
‘Occupy Wall Street,’ 2012 Presidential Race, Libya/Middle East Stability and Euro Zone Economic Tension Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/25). The ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, the GOP candidates for president, political strife in Libya and the Middle East and the shaky state of the Euro Zone’s economy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Ellen Ratner
TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON –– Rasmussen Reports president Scott Rasmussen is famous for his polling and understanding trends and people’s views. However, not everyone knows that he has a background in media and just began a radio show heard on weekends in Washington, DC and Chicago. I met up with Scott in the green room at Fox News Channel where he was doing one of his many media appearances.
First, a little history. Rasmussen Reports began as an opinion polling firm that published its results. Back in the mid-1990s Rasmussen began putting the results of his polling on the internet and he says he found “there was a tremendous appetite because people cared about the topics we polled about and wanted to know what their friends and neighbors were thinking.”
Rasmussen says these polls are scientific surveys. Most of the interviews are conducted via the phone and since growing numbers of people are abandoning land lines, they are reaching them in different ways as well. They collect a random group of people all around the country and make sure the sample they get reflects the nation’s population in terms of gender, age, race, political party and geographic location. Rasmussen tells TALKERS, “One of the things that is important in any kind of scientific survey is being a randomly selected group. That’s the way you get the results. The way you test to see if the poll works is to see in the real world what things the poll predicted actually happened. The most obvious example is comparing poll results to election results.”
Paul Finebaum v. Citadel: A Lesson in Fine Print. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that the case of WJOX-FM, Birmingham sports talk host Paul Finebaum suing employer Citadel for breach of contract is an example of why employment contracts should always be reviewed by the talent’s lawyer before being signed – regardless of what the employer prefers. Employment situations can be complicated by addenda, bankruptcies and ownership changes and Weisman says this case certainly has its twists and turns. Read his analysis of the case here.
Talk Host Martha Zoller Mulls Run for Congress. WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia-based talk host Martha Zoller tells Roll Call she’s considering a run for U.S. Congress and will make a decision within a “couple of weeks.” Population shifts are creating a new congressional district in Northern Georgia soon to be approved by the Georgia legislature and the new 9th district would be a very Republican district, according to Roll Call. Zoller tells the publication, “I’ve been a fiscal conservative my whole career. I’ve criticized Clinton budgets, Bush budgets and Obama budgets…I believe the tea party people that have been elected to Congress have represented their districts well and they need reinforcements. That’s why I’m considering this.” Zoller is heard throughout Georgia via the Georgia News Network.
Teresa Strasser Exits the KABC, Los Angeles Morning Show. LARadio’s Don Barrett reports Teresa Strasser has left the Peter Tilden morning show at Citadel’s KABC, Los Angeles. Barrett quotes KABC program director Jack Silver stating Strasser chose not to renew her contract with the station in order to focus on her TV, commercial voiceover and camera work. Strasser – known for her television work on TLC’s “While You Were Out,” her co-host position on the Adam Carolla radio show and her book Exploiting My Baby (NAL Trade 2011), became part of the Peter Tilden program in August of 2010.
Chicago Talk Radio Personality Cisco Cotto Considers Starting New Church. Cotto most recently hosted the midday show at WLS, Chicago and served on crosstown WIND’s morning show prior to that. He was replaced at WLS by Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft earlier this summer and is now thinking about starting a non-denominational church in his Chicago suburb of Oak Park. Cotto studied at the Moody Bible Institute and tells the Chicago Tribune he’s been working with the Evangelical Free Church of America to start the church and has filed the paper work for getting non-profit, tax-exempt status. Will his radio past complicate things? Cotto says, “I think I am going to be labeled ‘that guy who used to be the conservative talk show host,’ and that is going to be a significant barrier.”
2012 Presidential Race, Middle East Turmoil, Obama Economic Policy and Irene Aftermath Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/31). According to ongoing research from TALKERS, the 2012 presidential race, political unrest in the Middle East, President Obama’s economic policy and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (8/31).
Premiere Networks Talk Star Glenn Beck to Hold “Restoring Courage” Rally in Israel; Spending $1 Million of his Own Money on Events. The long-promised week of Glenn Beck-sponsored events in Israel are beginning and lead up to Wednesday’s “Restoring Courage” rally at the Southern Wall excavations site in Jerusalem. Gil Hoffman writes in the Jerusalem Post that there was an event for Christians last night in Caesarea and a Holocaust-related event is planned for today (8/22). Beck has been criticized in some quarters for the events. Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater wrote in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal that Beck’s events are “nothing more than a media driven, money-making, self-serving, end-of-times messianic-lunacy circus show.” But Beck says the Wednesday rally will be nothing of the kind and encourages his critics to watch it. He states he’s losing about $1 million of his own money sponsoring the event. He’s quoted in the Jerusalem Post saying, “I am doing it because I’m obedient and I do what I’m supposed to do: to show the world the courage of Israelis and the choice between good and evil and life and death, and to remind people that life’s not a spectator sport.” Beck claims the event is not political and simply serves to show the world that Israel does not stand alone. Some Arab Knesset members are warning Beck’s rally could spark violence. (August 22, 2011)
Michael Harrison to Deliver Annual “State of Talk Radio” Address at Forthcoming NAB/RAB Radio Show in Chicago. For the seventh consecutive year, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison will deliver his annual “State of Talk Media” address at a special Info-Session at the NAB/RAB Radio Show. This year’s presentation, sponsored by TALKERS, will take place during the national confab’s first morning between 10:30 am and 11:45 am on Wednesday, September 14 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago hotel and is open to all registrants of the conference. During this year’s address, Harrison will be focusing on The 10 Most Important Things Broadcasters Need to Know about the Enormous Changes Taking Place in Talk Media at this Very Moment. They will include an analysis of the invasion of FM by talk formats, the material impact of the PPM on talk radio programming, what we can all learn from sports talk radio, the changing political spectrum of talk stationality, the relationship between automobiles and talk radio, new formats on the horizon, and how the internet is rewiring the human brain — among others. Harrison will be introduced by McVay/Cook Media consultant Holland Cooke. (August 22, 2011)
Townsquare Media Officially Closes on the Millennium Properties. Townsquare Media chairman and CEO Steven Price announces the company closes on its acquisition of the 11 Millennium Radio Holdings, LLC stations, including FM talk giant WKXW-FM Trenton – New Jersey 101.5. Price states, “The acquisition of Millennium is consistent with our strategy of owning market-leading media properties in small and mid‐sized markets. We are excited to continue to add premier assets to our portfolio including, New Jersey’s leading talk radio station, WKXW 101.5. The strength and depth of the Millennium team is an excellent addition to Townsquare Media and we are excited to add new advertisers and to broaden our audience reach.” Zoe Burdine-Fly oversees the former Millennium operations for Townsquare Media. (August 22, 2011)
KSTP, Minneapolis Pairs “Mr. Phunn” with Judd Zulgad. Hubbard Broadcasting announces evening host Joe “Mr. Phunn” Anderson moves to middays to co-host the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show with Judd Zulgad beginning September 6. Zulgad is the Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist who’s exiting his newspaper gig to focus on his sports talk host career at KSTP. Zulgad has hosted a weekend show on the station since February and it was recently announced he’ll be joining KSTP for a daily show. KSTP program director Brad Lane has not announced who will fill Anderson’s 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm evening show but says of the pairing of Zulgad and Anderson, “We think this duo will not only provide Twin Cities sports fans a new option for 9:00 am to 12:00 noon apart from their normal listening routine, but become a mainstay in the market and a wonderful lead in for Reusse & Mackey.” (August 22, 2011)
Citadel’s WLS, Chicago Woos Mary Frances Bragiel from WBBM. Veteran Chicago news person Mary Frances Bragiel leaves CBS Radio’s all-news WBBM, Chicago to become the afternoon and evening news anchor and reporter at Citadel’s news/talk WLS, according to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder. There’s been a lot of movement in the radio news game in Chicago recently and Feder observes, “The position Bragiel fills has been open since WLS promoted Dave Stewart to midday news anchor, and both Lise Dominique and Monica DeSantis moved to FM News 101.1. The realignment puts seasoned Chicago radio veterans in every weekday news slot on WLS, including John Dempsey in mornings, Stewart in middays, Jim Johnson in afternoons, and Bragiel in evenings.” (August 22, 2011)
WWRL, New York to Broadcast Live from National King Memorial Dedication and Rally. The Access.1 Communications station is broadcasting live from Washington, DC on Saturday, August 27 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm with Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network. The broadcast will be anchored by Professor Ron Daniels and Rennie Bishop. Sharpton, whose radio program airs on WWRL, states, “There are relatively few moments in our lives that make history. The weekend of August 27-28, 2011 will be one for the history books as we not only commemorate the 48th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream Speech,’ but also when the world bears witness to the unveiling of the National King Memorial. As the rally and march will signify, and for those who may be quick to forget the legacy of Dr. King, let us remember that he died while fighting for worker’s rights and the basic human dignity of all.” (August 22, 2011)
Clear Channel Houston Promotes Two in Sales. Clear Channel Houston director of sales Bo Brown announces two promotions. Bob Merril takes on the role of general sales manager for news/talk KTRH, Houston. He’s been serving as GSM for two other AM stations in Houston. Of Merril, Brown says, “Bob and I have worked together for the last seven years building a solid AM team. His sports marketing background and never-quit attitude have been a key factor in our success.” Jeff Rovinsky returns to the Houston cluster from Charlotte where he was local sales manager with Clear Channel. He’ll be general sales manager for sports KMBE and news/talk KPRC. Brown says, “When Jeff was offered the local sales manager position in Charlotte a year ago we lost a very talented media executive that excelled in relationship building and direct sales. Bringing him back as a general sales manager for KBME/KPRC is an opportunity we never expected. He is a perfect fit.” (August 22, 2011)
Griese to Replace Mandich for Dophins Radio Broadcasts. Bob Griese and Jim Mandich were both part of the legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins team that went undefeated to a Super Bowl victory. Mandich, who’d been a sports talk host on Beasley’s WQAM and was a longtime voice of the Dolphins on its radio play-by-play broadcasts, died in April after a battle with bile duct cancer. Griese retired from his TV career last year but will be part of Dolphins radio play-by-play this season as he joins Jimmy Cefalo and Joe Rose in the broadcast booth. (August 22, 2011)