Paris Attacks Aftermath and Brussels Tensions Top Weekend News/Talk Stories. The aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris, the question of how to deal with Syrian refugees and specific threats to Brussels, Belgium were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend. The Paris aftermath and the Syrian refugee question ended last week as the top stories, landing atop the weekly Talkers TenTM chart, and they continued to be top points of discussion for news/talk outlets that featured live and local programs or carried live national shows over the weekend.
Cumulus Expands Bill Hess’ Role in DC to Operations Manager. Programming pro Bill Hess – currently serving as program director for news/talk WMAL-AM/FM, Washington and Cumulus Media corporate PD/talk – is adding operations manager duties for the Washington. DC cluster. Hess’ 38-year radio career has provided him with experience across numerous radio formats. In addition to his news/talk and sports radio programming experience, he’s also programmed ACs WSNE, Providence; WHYN-FM, Springfield, MA; and WASH, Washington and classic rock WBIG, Washington. Cumulus SVP, content and programming Mike McVay says, “Bill is an exceptional programmer. The growth that WMAL has experienced under his direction is nothing short of astounding. He has excelled as a corporate PD and will continue in that role. Bill is deserving of this recognition.” Hess says of his new duties, “On the heels of our team’s success at WMAL, I’m thrilled to be working with Louie Diaz on the rebirth of Washington’s legendary ‘Mix 107.3.’ Thanks to Gary Pizzati, Mike McVay, Jake McCann and Beth Cohen for this opportunity.”
Bill Spadea Replaces Jim Gearhart on New Jersey 101.5 AM Drive Show. Back in September, WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” morning drive personality Jim Gearhart suffered a severe concussion at his home while on vacation. Recovery from the injury has been difficult, putting Gearhart on an extended leave of absence. Now, Townsquare Media announces that Gearhart will not be able to return to his duties with the station and that Bill Spadea is assuming the role of host of the morning show. Gearhart had been with the station for the past 25 years and is a member of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Spadea has been Gearhart’s chief fill-in since 2014 and voices the station’s daily feature “Bill Spadea’s New Jersey.” Spadea says, “I’ve always looked up to Jim Gearhart as a legend in New Jersey media. His shoes are too large for me to ever fill completely, but I am honored and humbled and will try my best to live up to his legacy of unequaled radio and service to the people of New Jersey.”
Detroit Lions Deny Trying to Silence WXYT-FM’s Mike Valenti. Usually when a radio station ceases to be a pro sports team’s flagship, it’s because of money – either the rights got too expensive or the station was outbid. But CBS RADIO Detroit market manager Debbie Kenyon says in a statement that Lions management wanted to pressure the station into firing talk host Mike Valenti for his staunch criticism of the team’s performance. Kenyon issued the following statement, “CBS RADIO and the Detroit Lions are parting ways. ‘97.1 The Ticket’ has served as the flagship station for the Lions for more than a decade. CBS RADIO says it has been negotiating with the Lions a long time. It is sad to say goodbye, but in the end it came down to the integrity of CBS — the refusal to be censored in talking about the team and making honest assessments on the air about this team.” Crain’s Detroit Business reports the team says that isn’t true. It quotes Elizabeth Parkinson, Lions’ SVP of marketing and partnerships, saying the mandate to fire Valenti in order to get a renewal with the club is “categorically a lie” and that Cumulus simply offered a better deal. But in the Crain’s piece, Valenti’s manager, Mort Meisner, said the team made Valenti’s firing part of the conditions for renewing with the team and that team officials were regularly calling Kenyon to complain about Valenti’s criticism of the team’s performance and its management. Read it here.
Odds & Sods. Conservative talk pro Steve Malzberg – seen nightly on Newsmax TV – is sitting in for Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett on his morning drive show, “Bill Bennett’s Morning In America” this Friday (11/27)…..The NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers will remain with iHeartMedia in the Steel City as the team and the company come to terms to keep games airing on rock WDVE and sports talk WBGG-AM/W292DH-FM. The renewed deal extends through the 2018 season and contains elements of promotional support for the Steelers via iHeartMedia’s six Pittsburgh stations.
Legendary WCCO, Minneapolis Personality Charlie Boone Dies at 88. As one half of the morning radio team “Boone and Erickson,” Charlie Boone was a fixture on Twin Cities radio for some 40 years, literally owning the daypart during the halcyon days of AM radio from the 1960s through the 1990s. He died on Sunday (11/22) at the age of 88. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports he and Roger Erickson worked together for 37 years before Erickson’s retirement in 1998. Boone continued to host a solo Saturday morning show from that point until 2010. Boone arrived at WCCO from his previous gig in Fargo in 1959. He and fellow air staffer Erickson hit it off personally and management put them together on the radio in 1961.
Bill Payne Dies at 76. Oklahoma broadcaster Bill Payne passed away in Tulsa on Friday 11/20 at the age of 76. Payne was the founder of the Oklahoma Academy of Radio. Payne was a pioneer in the field of FM broadcasting putting KWHP-FM, Edmond, Oklahoma on the air in 1962. His Payne Radio Group operates 13 stations across eastern Oklahoma. The company continues to be led by Payne’s son Will Payne.
Movers and Shakers to Tackle Radio’s “Big Picture” at Talkers New York 2014. In what has become a popular tradition at TALKERS conferences, a diverse group of industry heavyweights will tackle radio’s “big picture” in a panel session covering industry economics, technology, changing business models, programming challenges and trends, the relationship between talk and music radio, and radio’s role as a first responder during emergencies among other key subjects. Panelists include (in alphabetical order): Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Tom Langmyer, VP news/talk programming Journal Broadcast Group and VP/GM, Milwaukee radio operations; Tom Leykis, CEO, The New Normal; Mike McVay, SVP, programming, Cumulus Media; Howard B. Price, director business continuity and crisis management, ABC News. The session will be introduced by rising talk star Dana Loesch, KFTK, St. Louis and Radio America; moderated by Michael Harrison, publisher, TALKERS; and sponsored by ABC News Radio. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “This session is always a crowd pleaser at our conferences with lots of valuable take-aways. Its free-wheeling, quick pace touches upon a wide variety of the broad-strokes themes that run throughout today’s radio concerns.” Talkers New York 2014 takes place on Friday, June 20 at the historic India House on Hanover Square in the heart of NYC’s historic financial district. More than 65 industry leaders are scheduled to speak. It is on the verge of a sellout with registrations only open to professionals working in the radio and associated media industries. Registrations ($249) are only booked over the phone with credit card. Call 413-565-5413. For more up-to-the-minute agenda and sponsorship information, please click here.
Aaron Klein Show Moves to ‘AM 970 The Answer’ in NYC. After four years airing on Sunday evenings on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York, the Tel Aviv-based “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” program debuts on Salem Communications-owned crosstown news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” Sunday, May 4. In a press release, Salem says the Klein show “deals with the hotbed of Muslim extremists, and how they are trying to bring down the state of Israel.” Klein exited WABC when the station made the decision to focus on locally driven programming. Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce says, “After years of competing with Aaron Klein and his program on WABC we now have grabbed him to join our new and re-vamped lineup on ‘AM 970 The Answer.’ I have had so many people ask me if we could bring Aaron over to our station and it is a pleasure to do so. He fits our station and our attitude just fine, and I can’t wait to see what he is going to break next.” Klein comments, “I am thrilled to be joining Salem Radio and ‘AM 970 The Answer’ to bring energetic, news-driven, live talk radio to the Sunday night lineup. Together, we will prove there is a major audience for weekend talk radio if the content is compelling enough.”
Talk Hosts Lynn Woolley and Ben Barrack Debut News/Talk Site. KTEM, Temple-Killeen, Texas-based talk media personalities Lynn Woolley and Ben Barrack announce their collaboration on a new national website called “The World Beat” at www.WBDaily.com. The duo say “the new site will feature material from the Lynn Woolley show (also heard on KBBW, Waco; KWBC, Navasota, Texas; KCRS, Midland, Texas; and KVOP, Plainview, Texas) and the Ben Barrack Show (heard Sunday mornings on KTEM), but will not be devoted to any specific talk show. WBDaily will feature cutting-edge opinion on national stories, often with a Texas flavor and occasional breaking news stories. In fact, WBDaily will be a great source for show prep.”
Michigan Family Sues Sima Birach, Jr. in Case Involving Sports Talk WCAR, Livonia. A Michigan family is suing Sima Birach, Jr. claiming the operator of sports talk WCAR, Livonia, Michigan (suburban Detroit) bilked them out of almost $1 million. The Detroit News reports that the station is leased to Birach, Jr. by his father (for $1 a year) whose Birach Broadcasting operates 23 stations in 14 states. Sima Birach, Sr. tells the paper his son has no right to sell anything but commercial time. He also says he’s been sued as the result of bad business decisions made by his son in the past and adds, “He’s been involved with some shysters before. He’s 37-years old. What am I going to do?” The family suing Birach, Jr. is Drago and Jadranka Mihajlovski and their son Zive. The trio allege they gave Birach, Jr. $500,000 on August 12, 2012, for a 10% interest in the station and on October 9, 2012, they say they invested $450,000 more for an additional 15% share in the station. Their attorney says they were promised $50,000-per-year lifetime jobs as well and that after a few pay periods, the money stopped coming in and Birach, Jr. told them they had no interest in the station and their investment would not be returned.
Ramsey-Cruze Book Debuts at #1. The latest book by financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey – this time with his daughter Rachel Cruze – is called Smart Money Smart Kids (Lampo Press 2014) and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list (week ending 4/26) for “Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous.” The book is promoted as providing “practical steps parents can take to teach their kids about money basics like working, spending, saving and giving, as well as how to deal with bigger challenges such as avoiding debt, paying for college and battling discontentment.”
RadioIO and Bubba the Love Sponge Team Up for Digital Delivery. Nationally syndicated, Tampa-based morning drive talk host Bubba the Love Sponge and RadioIO agree to terms on a deal that will allow the latter to continue to deliver Bubba the Love Sponge and his shows exclusively over the Internet on Bubba Army Radio through December 31, 2016. RadioIO will have the exclusive right to distribute archived and newly produced internet-only content of the Bubba Radio Network over the internet and the non-exclusive right to broadcast the Bubba the Love Sponge show live. RadioIO will pay periodic fees based on subscription and advertising revenue received by the company relating to the Bubba programming. In addition to the daily Bubba show, other programming consists of “Bubba Army Radio Uncensored,” “The Shannon Burke Show,” “Dangerous Conversations with Scott Ledger,” and a daily specialty show. Bubba the Love Sponge’s radio show is heard on formats including: hot talk, country, rock, classic hits and sports talk.
KJOC, Quad Cities Returns to Sports Talk. After an 11-year period airing non-sports content (including the most recent format using Scott Shannon’s True Oldies Channel), Townsquare Media’s KJOC, Davenport flips to sports talk as “ESPN 1170.” The Quad Cities Times reports station operations manager Darren Pitra saying, “We looked at a variety of things, but the decision was to go with ESPN.” The station will carry the entire ESPN Radio lineup plus Chicago Cubs baseball and Iowa State football and basketball. Pitra says of local sports talk, “It’s not something that’s completely [out of the realm of possibility] down the road.”
Dino Costa Digital Platform to Debut Monday. As TALKERS reported last month, former longtime SiriusXM sports talk personality Dino Costa is going the entrepreneurial road with his sports talk program and making it available via a digital platform on a subscription model. Costa says the show will be accessible from any computer or mobile device and offer visitors access to a variety of digital and written news and commentary, including a live, three-hour video broadcast each weekday; pre-recorded interviews with today’s sports leaders and newsmakers; behind-the-scenes features; and exclusive news articles covering the top sports stories making headlines each week. Costa says, “The new Dino Costa show is something that will redefine sports-based commentary and opinion, and I’m delighted to be back to serve as the conduit for a sports radio crowd across North America that is extremely frustrated with the meager sports talk offerings of today. Our platform allows for the most refreshingly candid commentaries available. We have no partnerships with leagues, officials, or any alliances that will prevent us from delivering the most unequivocal and straightforward opinion and views on a regular and consistent basis. The era of corporate-driven news media is more than a huge problem that people of all walks are contending with these days. We are the radical departure from this awful status quo…I cannot wait to get going.” Emanating from Costa’s Cheyenne studios, his talk show airs live daily at 4:00 pm ET.
WABC, New York to Cover 2014 James Beard Awards. When the 24th James Beard Awards are handed out on Monday, May 5, Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York will provide coverage of the festivities. The James Beard Awards recognize excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education in the United States. They were established in 1990. This year’s ceremonies will take place at New York’s Lincoln Center. WABC says that starting today, listeners can watch video interviews with some of New York’s top chef’s including Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony and Betony’s Bryce Shuman. Also, 77 WABC chats with Food Network host and James Beard Award emcee Ted Allen about the importance of the awards to New York and the country. Monday, 77 WABC will provide live streaming coverage of the awards presentation from New York’s Lincoln Center.
Odds & Sods. A programming and branding change takes place at Entercom’s WMC-AM, Memphis as the station becomes “ESPN 790 AM” and adds ESPN Radio programming. It is keeping the CBS Sports Radio-syndicated Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson morning drive show…..Rachel Sutherland — most recently with Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington – joins Fox News Radio to serve as a reporter based in Washington. Sutherland has also worked with TRN as an anchor for America’s Radio News Network and for Metro Networks in DC…..CBS RADIO’s sports talk WIP-FM and news/talk WPHT in Philly in conjunction with the Philadelphia Phillies’ “Phillies Charities” are offering fans a chance to win cool up-close-and-personal Phillies prizes like a kid’s sleepover in the Phillies Clubhouse, playing a video game on PhanaVision against A.J. Burnett, enjoying lunch with Ryne Sandberg in his office, or having a private hitting clinic with Chase Utley. It’s called the “Phantastic Auction” on phillies.com and runs today through May 15. Proceeds from the auction benefit Phillies Charities. Last year’s event raised $129,000.
Edison Research Offers ‘Moms & Media’ Webinar. Extracting more data from its Infinite Dial 2104 research study, Edison Research is presenting a free webinar on May 8 at 2:00 pm ET titled “Moms and Media 2014: Mobile Is a Must.” Edison says, “Moms are the target for most readers’ radio stations. And for those moms, mobile has become a priority over the last 12 months.” The presentation “features fresh tracking data about social networking, mobile device ownership, and simultaneous media consumption. The report highlights how moms are adapting radio to make it more suitable to their mobile lifestyle.” See more info here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. The Envision Networks program “America Weekend” is added to the program schedule at WRJN, Racine, Wisconsin (Milwaukee market)…..BizTalkRadio programming is added to WWWE, Atlanta as the station picks up the following shows: “Investor’s Edge,” “Executive Leaders Radio,” “Speak Up and Stay Alive,” “Equity Strategies” and the weekend show “Animals Today.”
Sterling-Clippers Controversy/Race Relations Top News/Talk Story for Week of April 28-May 2. The recorded racist rant by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, his subsequent lifetime ban from the NBA and talk of race relations in the U.S. were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the weak economic growth report and its effect on the Obama Administration’s image. Following at #3 was speculation about candidates in the 2016 presidential race and the possible outcome of this year’s mid-term elections, and at #4 was President Obama’s Asia trip. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire 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.