Big Changes Coming to WGN, Chicago; Cochran to AM Drive and an FM Signal in Tribune’s Future. The Chicago Tribune lays out some of the changes that will take place at Tribune Company’s legendary radio property on September 3. With the hiring of radio executive and former WLUP-FM chief Jimmy de Castro in the spring of this year, industry watchers knew changes were afoot. De Castro wasn’t hired to run things as they were. And now we know some of the ideas de Castro has been considering over the summer. Former midday host Mike McConnell – a WLW, Cincinnati alum brought in by former bosses Randy Michaels and Kevin Metheny – has already moved to the company’s online effort WGN-2. Now, Tribune reveals that air personality Steve Cochran – ousted from the station in 2010 – will return to host AM drive. Current AM drive host Jonathon Brandmeier will move to a digital property dubbed wgnfm.com until the company can acquire an FM signal on which to build a new station. The paper reports that husband-and-wife team Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano will likely host the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show and overnight host Bill Leff will be partnered with a player-to-be-named-later for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show. Garry Meier remains in the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot but is expected to take on a name partner soon. Another return of talent from the pre-Randy Michaels days are Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey (former midday “Girlfriends”) who will do a weekend program on WGN. The AM radio property will also build using blocks from its WGN-TV sibling, starting with the branding slogan “Chicago’s Very Own.” De Castro says the station will use WGN-TV personalities more often, including Dean Richards and Tom Skilling. As for the future FM property that will start as a digital station, de Castro says, “We’re going to create it as a radio laboratory. We’re going to build it up until we get an FM and then we’re going to put them all on a talk FM.” The story notes that any purchase of an FM will come after the company sheds its newspaper division. That may happen in 2014 if a buyer (or buyers) can be found.
Jim Watkins Returns to Talk Radio Network. Radio pro Jim Watkins served with Talk Radio Network for 13 years as director of affiliate relations and executive producer for the syndication company. Now, TRN Syndications, Ltd. announces it is engaging Watkins “to spearhead several new projects within TRN and to assist in the growth of the existing affiliate base of the multiple TRN networks and many radio stars that TRN syndicates.” The company states Watkins will oversee new business development and growth-strategy projects for the TRN Networks that distributes Andrea Tantaros, Jerry Doyle, Rusty Humphries, Erich “Mancow” Muller, Monica Crowley, “America’s Morning News,” Michio Kaku, Louie Anderson, Roy Masters and America’s Radio News Network, and a complete weekend lineup of a variety of talk programming. CEO Mark Masters says he’s thrilled to have Watkins leading his affiliate department at this most crucial time. “Jim is deeply entrenched in talk radio and has developed alliances with key programmers across the country. As the country ramps up into the mid-term elections, talk radio has never been more vital to facilitating the national debate. Jim really understands the vitality of talk radio better than most people in the industry today.” Watkins previously programmed news/talk stations for Clear Channel, as well as South-Florida based Meridian Broadcasting, and also served as producer for some of the top air talent in the country, including Michael Savage, Mike Gallagher, Barry Farber, and others. He adds, “Talk radio reaches the most affluent and loyal audience of any format, and it does so by allowing for a free exchange of ideas which can and does influence public policy in a big way. To have one of the best rosters of talent to be found anywhere gives me a great sense of pride.”
Nationally Syndicated Host Thom Hartmann Debuts Daily Caller Column. Liberal talk media star Thom Hartmann begins writing a weekly column for the conservative digital publication Daily Caller in which he addresses an issue from his own perspective followed by a conservative or libertarian rebuttal. In his first column – dubbed “Liberally Yours” – Hartmann asks the question: Should the Post Office be in charge of your e-mails? You can read the piece here. Hartmann – whose radio program is syndicated by WYD Media Management – was recently honored by TALKERS magazine ranked at #7 on the Frontier Fifty 2013 – A Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters (see that entire feature here). In addition to his AM/FM radio program, Hartmann’s digital efforts have earned him recognition by TALKERS for his forward-thinking business model that pushes his content into exciting new areas.
Scott Webb Joins Beasley South Florida as Production Director. Beasley Broadcast Miami announces the appointment of Scott Webb as production director for its three-station cluster that includes hip hop WPOW “Power 96,” country WKIS “99.9 Kiss Country” and sports talk WQAM “560 Sports Radio.” In this new post, Webb will be responsible for overseeing the voicing and production of commercials for the stations. Webb owns Scott Webb Radio Imaging based previously in Washington/Baltimore that he founded in 2001. Prior to launching his own firm, he was creative services director and morning co-host at WJMO, Washington, D.C. He has also served as creative services director at WHUR, Washington, WMMJ, Washington and KRBV, Dallas. WKIS operations manager Ken Boesen states, “Scott brings exceedingly strong production skills, top-quality voiceover abilities and a fun work ethic to Beasley Miami. He’ll be a great addition to the team and will help make our production department the strongest in South Florida.”
Boston Celtics and WEEI/WRKO Part Company; Will CBS Radio Swoop In? The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reports that Entercom and the NBA’s Boston Celtics have ended negotiations to continue airing games on sports talk WEEI-FM and news/talk WRKO this season after being unable to come to terms. Now the question is will CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” be able to secure the play-by-play rights? In the ongoing and bloody battle between the two sports talk stations, a snare of Celtics hoops would give WBZ-FM three of the four major sports in town: Patriots football, Bruins hockey and Celtics basketball – leaving WEEI-FM with Red Sox baseball (no small potatoes, obviously). As Finn notes in his piece, CBS Radio owns enough stations in the market to cover any conflicts between the several teams’ games. Finn writes that Entercom and the Celtics had a revenue-sharing agreement under the old deal but it’s unknown if there was also a rights fee. Historically, CBS Radio has been willing to pay big dollars for play-by-play rights if it believes it can justify the expense down the road.
Good Karma Lets Three Go at WKNR, Cleveland. In a report on Cleveland.com, Good Karma trims its staff by three as sports talk outlet WKNR “ESPN Cleveland” says goodbye to sports talk host Kenny Roda, Browns beat reporter Will Burge and Indians beat reporter T.J. Zuppe. Burge tells the news outlet that although he was a little surprised by the changes, he says, “I guess you can never be too surprised in this business when they say they want to meet with you about some big-picture changes.” Roda Tweeted to fans, “Thanks to all who have made the last 21 years at WKNR a remarkable, unforgettable & amazing journey. I enjoyed sharing it with you all.”
Art Versnick Named GM at WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Resort Broadcasting news/talk WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware “The Talk of Delmarva” announces Art Versnick joins the station to serve as general manager. In making the announcement, company president David Schoumacher states, “Art is a seasoned broadcast professional who brings great knowledge to our very important heritage radio station. It was imperative to secure the future of this franchise with a pro, and we’ve done that by bringing his talent to work with our staff.” Versnick comments, “I’m thrilled to be joining this heritage station – with its local air staff – almost unheard of today in news/talk radio. The dedication of this staff and ownership to provide Sussex County with quality and local programming will continue and move to the next level in providing listeners and advertisers a local forum.”
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Begins Sponsored Live Broadcast Series. Journal Broadcast Group’s news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee announces the debut of the “We Love Wisconsin Tour” that will see the morning show broadcast live from sites across the state. Sponsored by All American Window & Door, the first live broadcast event will be Friday, August 23, at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend where “Wisconsin’s Morning News with Gene Mueller” will broadcast from 5:00 am to 8:30 am. The tour will continue in Wauwatosa in September, Madison in October and Green Bay in November. Journal Broadcast Group vice president of news/talk programming Tom Langmyer says, “As ‘Wisconsin’s Radio Station,’ WTMJ is excited to celebrate individual communities that make our region so special as a whole. Gene Mueller and his team will explore the history of each town, introduce listeners to special people and discover fun things to do along the way. We’re pleased to partner with All American Window & Door on this adventure.” During the live broadcast event, Terri Lodwick, owner of All American Window & Door, will present a $1,000 donation to a local charity.
Odds & Sods. Hubbard Radio Washington D.C. properties WTOP and Federal News Radio are honored with the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility for the use of flexibility and other aspects of workplace effectiveness as a workplace strategy to increase business and employee success…..Hubbard Radio’s WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN” agrees to a deal through Learfield Sports to carry University of Illinois football play-by-play for this season…..NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath guests on Sports USA’s “Conversations with Joe Morgan” this week. Morgan’s program is heard on some 80 affiliates across the country. Namath’s podcast, produced by Sports USA, debuts next week…..Indiana Radio Watch tips TALKERS that Zach Bonahoom exits Federated Media’s news/talk WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne where he hosted a Saturday talk show.
NSA Surveillance Program/UK Threatens Guardian, Egypt Violence, ObamaCare Implementation, OK Ballplayer Slaying, and Clinton Foundation Expenses Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/20). The scope of the NSA surveillance program and the UK’s threats against the Guardian paper; continuing violence in Egypt and the U.S.’s relationship with its government; the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; the killing of an Australian baseball player by teens in Oklahoma; and the report of the Clinton Foundation’s travel expenses were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
CBS Radio Makes Changes to Programming at Sports Talk KHTK, Sacramento. The big change here is the move of Don Geronimo from AM drive to middays – airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and the return of Carmichael Dave to the station. Carmichael Dave – who exited the station in May of last year and was recently hosting an internet program – is being paired up with Keith Brooks for the new morning show that will debut on July 8. It appears the station will re-brand itself as “KHTK Sports 1140” from its current “CBS Sports Radio Sacramento.” The station also notes that “Jason Ross will rejoin the afternoon sports desk in the ‘KHTK Sports 1140’ update studios and continue to fill in for Grant Napear. Dave ‘Deuce’ Mason will continue to be an important part of Sports 1140 and local sports programming for KHTK.” Don Geronimo has been a successful personality on KHTK in the midday slot going back to the days of the old Westwood One-syndicated Don & Mike show.
Legal Snag Hits Salem’s Attempt to Bring Peter Boyles to KNUS, Denver. Longtime KHOW, Denver radio personality Peter Boyles – recently fired by Clear Channel after a physical altercation between Boyles and his producer Greg Hollenback – was supposed to resurface on Salem Communications’ crosstown news/talk KNUS on July 1. But it appears a legal complication – probably a non-compete in his contract with Clear Channel – is preventing that from happening for the time being. Local reports said Boyles may be hosting the morning show as early as Wednesday (7/3) but as of today the morning drive show is being hosted by regular KNUS fill-in host Jimmy Sengenberger.
Valuable Formula to Determine the Financial Value of Each Listener Measured by Arbitron. What if you knew how much an average listener as measured in your Arbitron ratings contributed in daily, monthly, or even annual revenue to your station? And what if you could use that data to help drive decisions in what promotions make sense for existing listeners and which marketing channels are best for new listeners? You can, and in a new article posted today (7/2), Chris Pendl, the brilliant creative director of Bonneville Seattle and TALKERS columnist, shows you how to do it. All it takes (ugh) is a little math. To read this valuable information, click here.
Steve Cochran Fills in for Jonathon Brandmeier on WGN, Chicago. As Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports, longtime WGN personality and former crosstown WIND host Steve Cochran (who exited WIND just last week) is sitting in for the vacationing Jonathon Brandmeier today (7/2) on the morning show – possibly adding fuel to the speculation that Cochran will return to WGN. But WGN president and general manager Jimmy de Castro is either being coy or truly is still considering the future of the station’s lineup when he tells Feder, “We haven’t even talked about an agreement because he’s just doing fill-ins. I know Cochran really well. I love him. I’d love to figure out if there’s a way to have him in WGN’s family. I don’t know. I’m doing research and looking at a lot of stuff. I want him to fill in on different dayparts — mornings, middays, afternoons — and hear what happens.” The two worked together at WLUP-FM and WLUP-AM (now sports WMVP) in the 1990s.
WGN, Chicago Officially Comments on Staff Changes. TALKERS reported the exit of WGN, Chicago late night talk host Turi Ryder last week as she addressed her departure from the station on her radio program – by the way a classy move for management to allow her to say “good-bye.” Now, WGN announces the evening sports show content and news staff changes confirming “the David Kaplan show will air from 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight with a focus on the Chicago sports scene and national sports landscape. Listeners will hear a variety of sports topics discussed by Kaplan and various guests from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, followed by an hour of sports talk from Mark Carman and Jordan Bernfield. Kaplan is a staple in the Chicago sports industry, having joined WGN Radio in 1995. He most recently held the position of afternoon drive sports reporter and host of various shows including, ‘WGN Sports Night’ and ‘Cubs Insider.’ Bernfield is the current host of ‘Cubs Weekly’ and Northwestern basketball and football broadcasts. Carman comes to WGN radio from Yahoo! Sports Radio, where he was previously the afternoon co-host since August of 2012.” The new schedule also includes a lineup shift for news anchors Andrea Darlas and Steve Bertrand. Darlas will anchor mornings and Bertrand returns to the afternoons/evenings. WGN president and general manager Jimmy deCastro states, “We’re making changes in an effort to give Chicagoans more of the things they want to hear. Thank you to our WGN Radio listeners, the most loyal and attentive family, for helping us navigate through this and stay tuned for the best of the old and new coming soon.”
Brian Kilmeade’s Fox News Radio Show to be Featured on his Fox News Channel TV Show. In what promises to be a creative and interesting piece of cross-platform promotion tomorrow morning between 6:00 am and 9:00 am (7/3), multimedia talk star Brian Kilmeade‘s midday Fox News Radio show “Kilmeade and Friends” will be featured in “realty show” style on Fox News Channel‘s “morning show “Fox and Friends” (in which Kilmeade is a co-host). The behind the scenes package will show Brian’s transition as he goes from TV to radio — the cameras followed him and stayed in the radio studio for the three hours where some of Brian’s regular “friends” stopped by and had a little fun with him.
NYMRAD Touts Positive New York Market Revenue Data. Based on numbers from Miller, Kaplan, Arase and Co., the trade group New York Market Radio is announcing spot revenue is up 7.6% for the first five months of 2013. NYMRAD executive director Deborah Beagan says, “It’s quite a story to see New York Radio Market revenues up by over 7% year-to-date through May, 2013…The key to New York Market Radio’s success is live-and-local content that engages the audience. For the 92% of New Yorkers who listen to radio, this is their hometown and their favorite stations. In addition, New York Market Radio stations have significantly invested in the digital arena to provide multi-platform options to advertisers. The future of effective advertising lies in the smart integration of traditional and digital media. I am extremely enthusiastic about the second half of 2013.”
WLS-AM, Chicago Brings Susan Carlson Aboard for PM News Duties. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS, Chicago is hiring former WBBM-TV “CBS 2” morning news anchor Susan Carlson to serve as news anchor for the afternoon drive show hosted by Roe Conn and Richard Roeper. She replaces Jim Johnson who recently retired from the station after 45 years. Carlson is no stranger to WLS having served as a news and traffic reporter from 1998 to 2002, also working with Roe Conn. Feder reports Carlson is under contract to WBBM-TV until July 18 and will join WLS-AM after that.
Sports Reporting: Dealing with Prickly Coaches. WFAN, New York sports talk host and TALKERS columnist Richard Neer offers advice to sports reporters and talk hosts who interview sports coaches as part of their jobs. Neer’s experience dealing with some of the top coaches leading New York sports teams has taught him a few lessons, especially about dealing with skippers who don’t enjoy post-game press conferences. Neer writes about the tactics of asking questions during post-game pressers and eliciting useful responses from reluctant managers. Read his piece here.
MEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: Burt Sherwood of Burt Sherwood & Associates. In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media broker Burt Sherwood of Burt Sherwood & Associates. Sherwood brings years of experience (he was one of the early WMCA Good Guys) to his brokerage firm optimistically stating, ”Station sales should be strong, ethnic operators will grow, youth will be served by over-the-air stations which will have apps for their iPhones and iPads, and the audience will grow proportionately — I think better than 30%. You will be able to track listeners and TV viewers and get them to respond directly…broadcasting and the internet will be partners.” To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, click here.
Veteran Talk Show Host Mark Wainwright Dips Toe in On-Air Water After 16 Year Hiatus. He was one of the big players in talk radio back in the 1990s doing stellar airwork – perhaps most notably at WBAP, Dallas – before leaving the industry in 1997 to pursue other endeavors. Now Mark Wainwright is back, at least temporarily as a fill in, returning to WBAP this Friday, July 5 subbing in the 9:00 am to 11:00 am slot. He’ll also be heard doing fill-in during morning drive on WGY, Albany next Thursday and Friday (7/11-12) and morning drive on WSYR, Syracuse the week of August 12-16 and August 19 and 20. Welcome back to the game, Mark – we hope we get to hear even more of you in the coming days. For old friends looking to reconnect, Mark Wainwright can be emailed at email@example.com.
KMZQ, Las Vegas Re-Brands as ‘Fox Sports 670AM Las Vegas.’ Kemp Communications’ sports talk KMZQ picks up Fox Sports Radio Network programming and re-brands as “Fox Sports 670AM Las Vegas.” The station is airing “Fox Sports Daybreak,” “Jay Mohr Sports,” “Fox Sports Primetime featuring Pat O’Brien with Steve Hartman,” “Petros & Money,” “Fox Sports Tonight,” J.T. The Brick and the network’s complete weekend lineup. It will continue to air TRN-FM’s “Mancow in the Morning” on the station from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. General manager Deirdre Palmer states, “We are very excited to add Fox Sports Radio programming to 670AM. We’re confident the Fox Sports brand, combined with the Network’s quality programming, will elevate KMZQ-AM to the next level in Las Vegas.”
Katherine Galanty Joins Yahoo! Sports Radio. Yahoo! Sports Radio has a new vice president of affiliate relations as Katherine Galanty joins the company. Galanty’s resume includes stints with Sports USA, ISP Sports, and Westwood One. Yahoo! Sports Radio program director and chief operating officer Craig Larson states, “Katherine brings a wealth of affiliate relations experience in sports talk radio. We expect her to play a critical role as we continue to emerge in the years ahead.”
NAB Spotlights Importance of ‘First Informers’ in Moore, Oklahoma Video. The National Association of Broadcasters, in an effort to highlight the importance of “first informers” in saving lives during natural disasters and weather emergencies, has posted a condensed version of a documentary by University of Oklahoma media arts professor Scott Hodgson and his students that features interviews and never-before-seen footage on broadcasters’ efforts before, during and after the storm. The video is on the blog post page by NAB vice president, communications, Ann Marie Cumming. See it here.
Arizona Firefighters Deaths, U.S. Spying Program/Edward Snowden Case, Egyptian Violence, Western Heat Wave, Student Loan Rate Hikes and ObamaCare Promotion Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/1). The deaths of 19 firefighters battling the Arizona wildfire; the ongoing issue of the United States’ spying program and the fate of Edward Snowden; the anarchy in Egypt as protests demand Mohamed Morsi’s ouster; the scorching heat affecting the Western United States; the debate over government-backed student loan rates; and promotion of ObamaCare by libraries in the U.S. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.